Friday, December 20, 2013

A Special Holiday Gift

Hello lovelies,

I started this blog in February, 2011. It was "the first step" in "building my author platform".  and it has been a rocky road the last three years. Gosh, it has only been three years?!  Anyway, I'm not really sure that anyone even reads most of my posts. I suppose that is because I don't post consistently or something.
I have been all over the map of marketing, trying to promote my writing, build an audience, get reviews, and all the things "They" say I am supposed to be doing to get my books out to the world.

And you know what? I am tired.

I am doing a lot of soul searching and one of the things that I am doing, in a last ditch effort to reach the masses. (most of which don't read this blog, so this post is probably pointless.) is to offer my e-books on Smashwords for whatever price you are willing to pay. Here is the video I made to announce it. It has all the details, if you are interested in getting one of my books.

It was supposed to be a cute and funny video. I had planned to do my little Ely Preston speech, mention that he suggested that the key to being funny was surprise, show off my books with details about how awesome they were, end with a little blurb about how this was a gift from my family to yours, have my boys and I sing  the chorus of "We Wish you a Merry Christmas, and then my boys were going to hit me with snowballs. Surprise laugh. Cute, right? But the one thing that kept hitting me was "be authentic." and I couldn't make it through the recording without crying. A lot. (And for those of you who have known me for a long time, know that I don't cry.) I went on my little rant and voila. I probably should've just not posted it. Scrapped the video. But I can't. That would not be authentic. I am tired of putting the Pollyanna spin on everything I do.

This last year has been really rough on my family. In some ways, the changes are for the better, but in a lot of ways the changes are just changes. They cause upheaval, but have not left us better off in the long run. Some have even left us worse off.

Since I began this writing adventure, I have published five books. All the "writing advice" out there insists that you cannot expect to make a living as a writer until you have at least five books under your belt. Well, here I am at that magic five book number, and yet I would be making more at McDonalds working part-time than I am currently making.

And I am tired. I spend more time marketing, promoting, pitching, and pleading for reviews than I spend writing.

And I am tired. I've spent more money buying books, merchandise, advertising, and images than I could've made working part-time at McDonalds.

And I am tired. I've worked more hours a week than I ever have in my life. More hours than when I was going to school full-time, working full-time, and raising two toddlers.

And I am tired.

The only reviews I have are ones that I have specifically pushed for from blog reviewers, a few friends, and one or two family members. Out of the (literally thousands) of reviewers I have personally submitted my books to, I have gotten a total of  43 rankings, and 34 reviews. I am grateful to those who were willing to post those reviews. Very grateful.

But I am tired. I am tired of spending most days not writing, for the sake of marketing and promotion and selling. I am tired of spending hours writing special requests to reviewers that almost never get open. I am tired of not selling books.

I am tired of not being able to pay my student loans. I am tired of my house always being a mess. I am tired of scrimping and saving, in the hopes that I can afford to send out the "freebies" and "promotion items" in an effort to get readers and reviewers to pay attention. I am tired of the tension this is causing in my family. I am tired of not being able to write, which was the whole point of this venture in the first place.

I have been running this campaign for about a week now, and have almost doubled my downloads. Sadly, most aren't willing to pay. They are picking the "free" option. I've gotten exactly two reviews from all those downloads. Now, hopefully others will be reading the books over their holiday breaks, and more reviews will come in eventually. (There goes my Pollyanna again, putting the good spin on.)

But I am tired of pushing and promoting and pleading and giving my hard work away for free. What is the point?

Another author commented that most authors of any talent were never famous in their lifetime. Isn't that a tragic condemnation to the arts? I don't want fame, I am just tired of being ignored. I don't want fortune, I just want to be able to feed my family.

I guess I've got a lot more soul searching to do.

Friday, November 15, 2013

In response to a comment in The Black Bruins Video

I watched this video and was impressed with these young men speaking out about something that they felt was an injustice. I was impressed with their using words and art to convey their feelings of frustration. I was impressed with their cohesive expression. I was impressed with a lot.   

I went on to read the comments on the video and found a lot of sad, unthoughtful responses. I did not waste my time an energy on those. It is not productive. Then I read a comment I could relate with:

Numuves : "I'm not completely sure where I stand on this video. I was a bit confused by it to be honest but, I'm actually glad that there's some dialogue happening here which is probably a good thing. People don't talk openly enough about "race". Anyway, I'm noticing a lot of people throwing the word "White privilege" around as if it is a scientific fact and that it applies to all Whites. I'm pretty sure it isn't a proven fact like gravity and we shouldn't assume that just because you believe it to be true that it is the truth. A lot of people are saying that the true privilege is money and that's an interesting point. Anyway, I guess I'm just trying to say that it isn't helpful to dump your beliefs on others and then disparage them for not believing the exact same thing you do."

I replied: "I agree! I am white and I sure as hell don't get any privileges! But then folks might argue "well, you are a girl. That is what affirmative action is all about! Helping you out."  Except that 50.8 % of the US is female, all applying for those same scholarships. Those who have race and religion to add to the mix have a better chance of getting those scholarships than I did. And my "privileged white brother" couldn't get any scholarships, even though he was as qualified as I was. He had to drop out because he couldn't afford the debt. I took on the debt and now I can't get a job to pay it off. Welcome to the world of the "white privileged female" in the US. Life sucks for most of us no matter what our skin color, creed, sexual orientation, or religion. But if others don't speak out about their own experiences, then people don't know that, do they? "

And then Imcalledlove replied: "It's inaccurate to compare white privilege to something as tangible and physical as gravity. White privilege is intangible. The term white privilege has a long history, but most recently from an article by Peggy McIntosh, "Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" (a great article). White privilege applies to all non-minority peoples who don't have to think about their race and how it effects their life on a daily basis. Are you profiled at the grocery store for writing a supposedly "bad check"? A person’s white privilege is reflected they second they wonder why people are still talking about race."

I had never read this article by McIntosh, so I decided to look it up. Yeah, I like to learn! I started to write a response in the comments section of Youtube, but realized it was a bit long (Lols, just a bit ;)  ) So I decided to write a blog post. Racism and socio-economics are topics that are near to my heart. Here is my response. 

It is interesting that McIntosh's article was written in 1988, and I have found that many of the points that she addresses are no longer true. Certainly, we have a ways to go in "leveling the playing field", but isn't it nice to look at the progress we HAVE made? And then it is also important to look at how many of those things apply to the economics as well? Growing up "poor", I think I can attest to this to an extent. 

Here are the "invisible knapsack" points that McIntosh addressed. She stated, "I decided to try to work on myself at least by identifying some of the daily effects of white privilege in my life. I have chosen those conditions that I think in my case attach somewhat more to skin-color privilege than to class, religion, ethnic status, or geographic location, though of course all these other factors are intricately intertwined. As far as I can tell, my African American coworkers, friends, and acquaintances with whom I come into daily or frequent contact in this particular time, place and time of work cannot count on most of these conditions." 

1. I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time. 

I can, but I am not comfortable with "white" people. My husband and I moved to "suburbia" after graduating and relocating cross-country for a job. I was so uncomfortable living there that as soon as our six month lease was up, we moved to a neighborhood with more diversity. We are all happier here than we were in "the American Dream" neighborhood.

2. I can avoid spending time with people whom I was trained to mistrust and who have learned to mistrust my kind or me. 

Nope, see above reference.

3. If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area which I can afford and in which I would want to live. 

Beyond the first two questions, we have really struggled with renting properties. On top of that, after doubling our income we still cannot be considered for purchasing a home because our college debt is too high. We had to fudge the numbers to get a new car because our old car didn't meet the emission requirements in our new state, and we didn't make enough money.

4. I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me. 

They weren't, which is why we moved.

5. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed. 

Nope. I am a woman. My husband benefited from this before we moved. Now he can't. Guess he knows how we feel now, huh?

6. I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented. 

Who can't? Well, maybe Native Americans... But when was the last time you saw images of people who couldn't afford a fancy new car, who were wearing hand me down clothes, who had to scrimp and save just to pay for their kids to eat... No one is advertising to us, because we can't afford what they are selling. 

7. When I am told about our national heritage or about "civilization," I am shown that people of my color made it what it is. 

Thanks to major progress in the education system, that is true for most races. But let me ask you this, when was the last time your race was demonized for the way they "conquered" and "subverted" other races to achieve this society? Columbus used to be praised, now he is villianized. He couldn't have known what the rest of the Europeans were going to do when he came here!

8. I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race. 

See 7. My son's are mixed Native American and White, but with so much white that it is "a moot point" on stats. My "whitest looking and acting" child is so quick to tell people that he is 1/16th Native American.... because he is constantly treated differently, simply because he looks white.

9. If I want to, I can be pretty sure of finding a publisher for this piece on white privilege.

But I couldn't find a publisher for my works. I chose to self-publish, but can't afford to market my books. I work my butt off trying to utilize free opportunities, but so is every other starving artist. Yet people with money can publish a book in a heartbeat. They will even get a "real" publisher if they have an ounce of notoriety. Most of them don't even write their own books, they hire starving ghost writers who will take the measly payout without credit because they gotta eat. 

10. I can be pretty sure of having my voice heard in a group in which I am the only member of my race. 

None of us can claim this. Having taken plenty of minority classes where I was one of only a few white people in the room, I can attest that when I expressed my opinions about balance, it was chalked up to "white privilege" and quite vocally so.

11. I can be casual about whether or not to listen to another person's voice in a group in which s/he is the only member of his/her race. 

See number 10. Racism DOES swing both ways. And don't call it something else (reverse-racism) to make it seem ok. My family is not racist. We have taught tolerance and cultural understanding and respect, yet my "white" son has some really "racist" attitudes sometimes. Can I call that reverse-racism? He was taught to be mistrustful of other people because of the way they treated him. It is still racism. No religion says to treat others the way they treat you. No, we are supposed to treat others the way we want to be treated. It is why Martin Luther King is held to almost saint-like status, and the black panthers are labeled as criminals. I get that it is hard (my son is living proof) not to treat all people of a certain ethnicity the way that many have treated you. It is hard not to think that every white person is a racist when at every turn you see evidence of it in the media, in politics, in your own lives. But as I tell my son, if you start discriminating against all of them, because of what those kids have done to you, then you are no better than they are. Do we really want the pendulum to swing the other way? 

12. I can go into a music shop and count on finding the music of my race represented, into a supermarket and find the staple foods which fit with my cultural traditions, into a hairdresser's shop and find someone who can cut my hair. 

Most of us can say yes to many of these.... and none of us can find someone who can cut our hair at ANY hairdresser shop we go to. But I can't afford the fancy places who can cut my hair :(  

13. Whether I use checks, credit cards or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial reliability. 

But those credit scores will bust you EVERY TIME!

14. I can arrange to protect my children most of the time from people who might not like them. 

Which is why the Anti-bullying campaign rages strong today. My eldest has been horribly bullied because he is an easy target due to issues other than his skin tone, yet he is the whitest looking of all of us. So, yeah... nope.

15. I do not have to educate my children to be aware of systemic racism for their own daily physical protection. 

Nope, you don't have to because the school systems are doing it. Oh, wait, remember my son who is ashamed to be "white"?  And all these politicians and actors who are quick to point out that they are 1/4, 1/8, 1/16... blah, blah, blah! But on the economic end of it, people are poor because they choose to be. My kids can't have a phone like their friends because we are lazy and don't work hard enough. It has nothing to do with the debt we incurred because of school, or the medical bills, or the car payment. We must be spending our money in places we shouldn't. I mean, we are educated and white. How can things be so tough for us? Mind you, I am not complaining. We live within our means, no matter what the Jones' have. We are responsible and paying off our debts, rather than getting credit cards and sinking ourselves further. But our kids don't understand that. They are kids. They want what all the advertisers out there are selling. They believe that we should be better off because their parents are educated. How do we teach them this, when they are constantly bombarded with different messages? And why should we have to teach them this when they are so young? Thanks media!

16. I can be pretty sure that my children's teachers and employers will tolerate them if they fit school and workplace norms; my chief worries about them do not concern others' attitudes toward their race. 

Ah, nope, just our financial obligations to allow them to participate in field trips, after school activities, events, organizations, and all that other fun stuff!

17. I can talk with my mouth full and not have people put this down to my color. 

Yes, but they might put it down to bad manners, because we are poor.

18. I can swear, or dress in second hand clothes, or not answer letters, without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty or the illiteracy of my race. 

Yup, just bad morals and my income level.

19. I can speak in public to a powerful male group without putting my race on trial. 

Sure, but they will want to know how my gender affects this, oh and what college I went to.

20. I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race. 

But not my gender, and not my financial situation.

21. I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group. 

I'm never asked to speak at all. I have to fight for speaking engagements, and often my opinion or view is written off because I cannot possibly understand.

22. I can remain oblivious of the language and customs of persons of color who constitute the world's majority without feeling in my culture any penalty for such oblivion. 

Huh? Which is why my boys got in trouble for saying "what up, my Niggah" as they had heard other kids in school say, and didn't know why they were in trouble because they have never heard the N word used in our home. We made the mistake of thinking it was better not to teach them the bad words. And that is why my eldest son gets offended about buying bread, because he got the nickname "wonderbread" in school. Why it is perfectly fine to call white people "pasty" but don't suggest that your own skin is "ashy" around black folks. (even though it happens to "white" folks and is as noticeable if they have an ounce of melanin!)

23. I can criticize our government and talk about how much I fear its policies and behavior without being seen as a cultural outsider. 

But if you question our "Black" presidents financial policies, it is because you are racist. If you question their fiscal choices, then you must be a wealthy elitist.

24. I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk to the "person in charge", I will be facing a person of my race. 

But certainly not my economic status.

25. If a traffic cop pulls me over or if the IRS audits my tax return, I can be sure I haven't been singled out because of my race. 

Nope, just the crap car I drive, or the fact that I am in debt past my eyeballs.

26. I can easily buy posters, post-cards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys and children's magazines featuring people of my race. 

And they all have shiny new toys, fancy cars, and own their own home. Something the economically deprived cannot say.

27. I can go home from most meetings of organizations I belong to feeling somewhat tied in, rather than isolated, out-of-place, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance or feared. 

Nope, can't afford to be a part of most, and feel pressure to spend money I don't have at the rest. Big nope!

28. I can be pretty sure that an argument with a colleague of another race is more likely to jeopardize her/his chances for advancement than to jeopardize mine. 

Most certainly not. I will be labelled as a racist and could very well be terminated. Now, lets rephrase the question "I can be pretty sure that an argument with a person of another race will likely lead to my view being acknowledged" and here is a problem I end up with: any time I disagree with someone based on sound and legitimate arguments, it will often get dismissed because somehow the fact that I am white negates my ability to think. If you look at the economic end of it, my poverty makes people think that I am looking for a handout. It doesn't matter that I work 60 hours a week, and my husband works overtime any opportunity he gets. It doesn't matter that we got our degrees like we were "supposed to" and that makes up the majority of our debt. It doesn't matter that our debt doesn't come from wanting to live like the Jones', but because we were told that if we got an education, jobs would be waiting for us. "You can't feed your kids? How do you have a car?" Oh, right, we need a car to get to work.... so we can feed our kids. Yeah, looking for that handout, man!

29. I can be pretty sure that if I argue for the promotion of a person of another race, or a program centering on race, this is not likely to cost me heavily within my present setting, even if my colleagues disagree with me. 

To argue against it, even with valid points, would. Same with economics. Proposing that the minimum wage be raised so that people can support their families is just not economically sound. Rich people wouldn't be able to afford stuff. Oh, wait... all cost of goods would rise, leaving us poor folks not able to afford stuff either...

30. If I declare there is a racial issue at hand, or there isn't a racial issue at hand, my race will lend me more credibility for either position than a person of color will have. 

The opposite is true nowadays. And as for the economics, well I'm just looking for a handout!

31. I can choose to ignore developments in minority writing and minority activist programs, or disparage them, or learn from them, but in any case, I can find ways to be more or less protected from negative consequences of any of these choices. 

Do I really even need to address this? How many people get slammed in the press almost daily for being ignorant of this? Now substitute "economic" for "Minority" and I definitely cannot ignore it. And what I am often being told is that my economic situation is my fault. I'm not living within my means, I am not saving for emergencies, I am not working hard enough, I am not trying hard enough to find a job. I did try hard to find a job, and planned to write on the side. But then I made this my full-time job because it was less depressing than constantly being told that I wasn't good enough in interviews. (Sorry, I believe the most memorable exact phrases were "not enough experience." "Not within our pay grade." and "unable to hire anyone at this time.")

32. My culture gives me little fear about ignoring the perspectives and powers of people of other races. 

 If anything, white people are held to a higher standard. Hence the reason these boys could use the term "snowflake" in their video with very little repercussion, but a prominent figure can lose their career for something even vaguely racist. 

And as for economics, poor people cannot ignore the rich. We would lose our jobs. 

33. I am not made acutely aware that my shape, bearing or body odor will be taken as a reflection on my race. 

Seriously? But a poor fat chick must not be that poor, now is she? and in today's media, no woman dares to be anything but skinny. "You can't afford to buy your 9 year old deodorant?" Wait, I didn't start wearing deodorant until I was 12!! And people find my directness extremely disconcerting, since I'm a woman. But hey, being poor sucks! I'm gonna talk about it! 

34. I can worry about racism without being seen as self-interested or self-seeking. 

I'm sure I'll get plenty of hate for this list here. If I were not white, would people think it was ok? I don't know, because the world sees me that way and I can't make them see me any other way, no matter how much I feel connected to my American Indian ancestry. I know if I wasn't poor, people would be more inclined to listen to my concerns about the poverty levels in this country.

35. I can take a job with an affirmative action employer without having my co-workers on the job suspect that I got it because of my race. 

Just my gender. Now how many jobs can I get if I can't afford a decent interview outfit? How many jobs can pass me over because when they do my background check they see how much debt I am in?  How can I afford to take a job making less than $35,000 a year (Most jobs I was applying for were between $26,000 and $30,000. Even if most school sites will tell you $35,000 to $40,000. The economy sucks, man!) when most of that will get eaten up in daycare costs, I can't afford a vehicle to get to work, and it still won't allow me to pay back my student loans... and yet I would probably take it if given half the chance. 

36. If my day, week or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether it had racial overtones. 

Isn't this really a choice on the person? I could. Or I could ask if it is my gender.  I could also question if it is because of my economics... and that one has clear evidence to support. For example: Last week our car died, our washer broke, and both boys came home wanting to sign up for some sport at school. I was stressed, harried, and had a major deadline for work. My boys were sad and depressed because once again we could not afford something they really wanted. Clearly more money would've made a world of difference here. Would my washer still have broke if I was Asian? Would I have magically been able to get the car fixed if I were Mexican? Would my boys have been able to play the sports of their choice on a scholarship because they were black? Meh...

37. I can be pretty sure of finding people who would be willing to talk with me and advise me about my next steps, professionally. 

Sure, and so can any other college student. It is called Career services... Fat lot of good it did us, and many of our alumni who we have kept in touch with!

38. I can think over many options, social, political, imaginative or professional, without asking whether a person of my race would be accepted or allowed to do what I want to do. 

Um, we have a BLACK president. But poverty restricts that a lot more. Would you elect a homeless person for president? What about someone who didn't graduate from an Ivy League school? Hmmm....

39. I can be late to a meeting without having the lateness reflect on my race. 

I can only speak for myself, but I don't typically blame that on race. But I am notoriously early everywhere I go because I have to worry about things like the car breaking down.

40. I can choose public accommodation without fearing that people of my race cannot get in or will be mistreated in the places I have chosen. 

I know that this can sometimes still be a problem in the South. I cannot attest to other parts of the country. I do know that when I haul my kids out to a restaurant once in a blue moon, the service is limited because they saw what we drove up in, they see our "fine clothes" that are well-worn and hand me downs, and when we share.... they assume that we aren't going to tip. As a server, the worst tip I ever got was from a local minister of a prominent church of wealthy individuals. They were dressed to the nines, pulled up in a Lexus, and his wife was wearing a rock that I couldn't even fathom! Left less than 10% tip after complimenting me for the best service they had ever experienced. Was it because I was white? Oh, so were they.

41. I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help, my race will not work against me. 

Nope, but my lack of funds sure will. Oh, but if I want to sue for racial discrimination, sorry that ain't happenin'. I could probably pull off a sexual harassment suit and win.

42. I can arrange my activities so that I will never have to experience feelings of rejection owing to my race. 

Not in the neighborhoods I choose to live in. But if I don't participate in any activities, my socio-economic factor never gets brought up ;)  

43. If I have low credibility as a leader I can be sure that my race is not the problem. 

Ha, not really. Nor can I be sure that my economics don't play a factor. Hard to dress for success when you can't buy the latest fashion. But more than likely, no one will listen to me because I am not "pretty".

44. I can easily find academic courses and institutions which give attention only to people of my race. 

Not where I went to school. But there were minorities studies courses out the wazoo. I loved taking them! And when was the last time we focused on men's needs in a gender studies class? But seriously, who told me that after finishing college, I might not be able to find a job? Where are there courses offered to teach you to manage being poor? Yeah....

45. I can expect figurative language and imagery in all of the arts to testify to experiences of my race. 

I think this is probably one of the places where we have seen the largest growth in the last 80 years. But at my level of financial lack of independence, I can't really afford to own it. I can still appreciate it once a month when the museum has the "free" days, and can admire snippets of writing that are offered for free. And the radio exposes me to more of it! But how many of those opportunities expose you to the socio-economically deprived without being mocked, or treated as "the unfortunates"?

46. I can chose blemish cover or bandages in "flesh" color and have them more or less match my skin.  

My friend Megan shared this interesting article,  Things Only Pale People Will Understand, with me a couple of weeks ago. I don't have this problem, mine is that darn Indian red undertone. But lets be real, I can't afford make up. I can barely afford to feed my kids.

47. I can travel alone or with my spouse without expecting embarrassment or hostility in those who deal with us. 

Note restaurant experience above... and who can afford to travel?

48. I have no difficulty finding neighborhoods where people approve of our household. 

Because everyone loves living next to the folks who's kids wear hand me downs and clothes that don't quite fit right, who's kids get excited about the cool video games their friends have that they could never hope to have. Who drive a clunker that makes a lot of noise when they come and go at odd hours because of all that working that they do. Who's yard is not mowed every week because they can't afford to fix the lawn mower, and who's yard is less than perfect because they don't have 20 hours a week to devote to it. Our new neighbors are a bit more sympathetic, but then we are in similar socio-economic brackets.

49. My children are given texts and classes which implicitly support our kind of family unit and do not turn them against my choice of domestic partnership. 

Is it just me, or is this question a bit racist? But from an economic standpoint, my children are constantly bombarded with programs we can't afford, fundraisers we can't participate in, pressure for us to participate in school assemblies, events and PTA's when we have so little time to spend with them as is. So, in principle, yes!

50. I will feel welcomed and "normal" in the usual walks of public life, institutional and social. 

I can't speak for how much progress we have made on this front for race, but I can say that economically I don't. 

Going through this list, I am impressed with the progress that we have made as a country in changing a lot of these issues for people of minority. And I can't help but wonder if some of these things that minorities have issues with are not related to their skin color so much as related to their socio-economic status. How many times do they blame things on racism when it is not racism, but that is easier to blame. Because no one can question racism anymore. 

Am I saying that racism is no longer an issue, but people keep making it an issue? Certainly not. I know that racism still exists. And that sexism still exists. Judging people based on the way that they look still exists. It is a part of the way our brains process information. Do we need to let it keep doing that? Not if we want to evolve. Can we live in a world where differences are celebrated, understood, appreciated? Not until we are all willing to do our part to make that happen. 

I think it is important to keep the dialogue open. For all of us to try to see things from other people's perspective. Not just about racism, but about all of the things that make each and every one of us different. I think that we need to promote understanding and acceptance of other cultures, religions, abilities and belief systems. We need to stop looking at the world as "us versus them" and start looking at it as "us with them, and them, and them, and them." 

Is it going to be easy? No. Many of our religions teach us that those who do not believe what we believe are condemned. Our cultures teach us that to do things as others do is to deny who and what we are. Children with different abilities get labeled with disabilities. People whose brains work differently have "mental health problems". Until our major institutions stop classifying us, we will not stop classifying ourselves. The day we move past this, I think, will be the next major leap in evolution! 

What are your thoughts on this? Feel free to share in the comments below! 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Launch of Angel's Dance Virtual Book Tour

Hello my lovelies!

Well, after a lot of work, time, and effort, I am proud to announce that Angel's Dance, the sequel to Elements of a Broken Mind, is coming out this month!! We will be doing a virtual book tour for the whole month leading up to the launch date November 25th!!

This is your lovely first stop on this fun and fancy free tour we have planned for you!

November 2nd stop by Christina Paul's Blog to see what she thinks of the book and participate in her fun daily writing prompts! Don't forget to enter the Rafflecopter on her page for a chance to win your very own copy of Angel's Dance!

November 3rd, stop by either my figment page, or my Wattpad page and for the first time ever see the first five chapters of Elements of a Broken Mind for free! Leave a comment, and get a free entry into the contest to win the poster or the pendent.

November 4th, stop by Paranormal Book Fairy’s page to see a character spotlight of Detective Grant Anderson!

November 5th, Swing by my Figment or Wattpad page, and see the first chapter of Angel's Dance. Leave a comment and get an additional entry to win a copy of Angel's Dance.

November 6th come by Webbweaver Reviews Blog talk radio show at 10 am MST and hear my interview with her. I've listened to several of her other author interviews and it is guaranteed to be lots of fun!

November 8th brings us to Patricia at RoomswithBooks hosting a spotlight and my favorite snippet from Angel's Dance

November 9th we will be on author Dawn Tevy's radio show Angel's & Warriors with another author interview, and reading of another favorite snippet from Angel's Dance.

November 11th brings us back to Justin's blog Literary Adventures from Jersey Shore for his view of Angel's Dance

November 12th, the second chapter of Angel's Dance will be posted on Figment and Wattpad. Don't forget to comment and get an additional entry to win a copy of your very own!

November 13th we will be at Books4me with a fun character profile for Kat Anderson!
Be sure to enter the rafflecopter for your very own bookmark based on the series!

November 15th come and see the Ten Spot Interview on fellow author Dan O'Brien's  blog The Dan O'Brien Project

November 18th, Join us for the Facebook Event The Clear Angel Chronicles, and post your thoughts, opinions, questions about the books, the virtual book tour, or whatever strikes your fancy! If you are inspired to create some art based on your impressions of the series, feel free to post that here as well! Don't forget to enter the Rafflecopter to win this beautiful 20X24 in poster from Deviantart!

November 19th, Chapter 3 of Angel's Dance will be posted on figment and Wattpad. A comment on each chapter posting will get you an additional entry for a copy of your very own!

November 20th Chapter 4 of Angel's Dance will be posted on Figment and Wattpad.

November 21st, Chapter 5 of Angel's Dance will be posted on Figment and Wattpad.

November 22nd brings us to Suzy Knight's Blog for another fun interview!

November 23rd, 10:00 am, Google On Air Event "Psychic Phenomena in Writing" and join a panel of authors who have written about psychic phenomena, as we discuss the fun and difficulty and answer fan's questions on writing about psychics!

November 25th is the big release day! Be sure to swing back by and get the listing for where to buy Angel's Dance on-line!

What is a virtual book tour without awesome giveaways, right?

Well, we have them on this one. Be sure to visit each event for your chance to win awesome merch designed around the series! We will have bookmarks, our psychic eye pendent, posters, and copies of the paperback and e-book available! Start by entering right here on my blog in the upper right hand corner! Be sure to hit up each blogger's posts as there will be different giveaways going on at different sites and you want to enter each one to earn that different prize! Each blogger has the opportunity to post, so even if it is not mentioned above, they may have one of the rafflecopters on their site.

Do not fret if you do not win, each person who enters the rafflecopters will receive coupons for 50% off the e-book for Angel's Dance!

As always until next time,

Keep Reading!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Review of The Tiger Warrior by David Gibbons

  Genre: Action/ Adventure

Synopsis: Jack Howard, an archaeologist and deep sea diver, discovers amazing history below the water and on land. He is sort of a modern-day Indiana Jones. This is the third book following Jack Howard and in this adventure he discovers an ancient elephant graveyard below the ocean, which leads him to Egypt, India, and Afghanistan following an ancient legend about Roman soldiers sold as slaves and working their way down the Silk Road to become mercenaries. Along the way, Jack is looking for his  great great grandfather, who got caught up in pursuit of legendary gems that could grant immortality and disappeared in the early 1900's.  Come to find out both of these ancient stories have a common root.  On the trail of discovery, they find themselves unknowingly pitted against an evil baddie intent on becoming immortal and taking over the world.


David Gibbons is a trained archaeologist. There is so much fact (or at least, supposition based on evidence throughout history) in this book that it is really thrilling to read. His details of the Koya people of India, and the Pashtun people of Afghanistan, were fascinating to read. The basis of the adventure, the possibility of Roman soldiers being captured as slaves, and moving into Asia along the Silk road and then becoming mercenaries; is very realistic and the way that he paints the possible events is beautiful and elegant. This is the kind of fiction I really love, where you learn as you read. Where the lessons are so seamlessly and elegantly woven into the story as to make you feel as if you are a part of it.

I have always been fascinated by books like this! Indiana Jones, Dirk Pitt, Robert Langdon. Each is a wonderful opportunity to learn new and exciting things in the frame of a good story.  I am excited to add Jack Howard to my list of awesome characters to follow!


The evil baddie sort of felt like a prop piece. One scene we see into his warped reality, then the rest of the time his henchmen are there to add unnecessary pressure to the search and discovery. For me, Howard's family allure, not to mention the amazing finds he was uncovering, were enough to keep me drawn in. Even the ancient Chinese group sworn to protect the jewels was enough. I'm a bit tired of an overarching villian trying to take over the world.


There were a surprising number of grammatical errors in this book, considering it was published by Bantam books, one of the "Big Six" publishing houses. I loved the author's note at the end, showing what was real, what was supposition based on historical findings, and what was pure fiction for entertainment. But there was no author's biography. I had to search the web to determine his credentials and learn more about him as a writer.

Overall, I love the character. I love the fascinating details that the author is able to contribute, and the way the author excites in me my life long passion of learning about other cultures and history. I am definitely looking forward to reading more Jack Howard novels.

Don't forget to vote on the cover you like best for Angel's Dance, and write your thoughts in the comments section below that post. I'll be configuring all the input this weekend and coming up with the final cover! Check out Charlene Wilson's covers that she created and tell me if you like one of these better. Thanks for the input!

As always,
Keep Reading!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Come Vote on the Cover for Angel's Dance, A Psychic Thriller

Hello Lovelies! Would love your opinion on the cover for Angel's Dance, the sequel to Elements of a Broken Mind. It releases November 25th and we have some fun stuff that will be going on for the month of November! But first, here is the back cover blurb:

Psychic Clear Angel hasn't seen or heard from her one-time lover Detective Grant Anderson since their first case wrapped up six months ago, and that is perfectly fine with her! But when he shows up on her porch in the rain and in tears, she cannot hold her ground.  No matter how she feels about Grant and her “gift”, she can’t ignore the visions already pouring in.

Grant knows that he is no good for Clear, and has respected the distance she has kept. But when his daughter goes missing and the Chicago police have no leads, he turns to Clear and her unique abilities.

This next adventure puts Grant and Clear in close quarters as they find themselves once again fighting their feelings for one another.  Thrust into the dark underworld of performance art, they strive to track down a ballerina who keeps taunting Clear in her visions.  As they delve deeper into one studio, the grisly visions that haunt Clear may be more than she can handle. Can Clear hold it together to help find Grant’s daughter before it is too late? 

Get the exciting sequel to Elements of a Broken Mind and find out what happens with Grant and Clear as they find themselves once again fighting dreams and  passion.  Angel’s Dance releases on November 25th, 2013 in paperback and e-book.  E-ARCs are available for review. (If you have a blog and would be interested in participating in a blog hop for November, just drop me a line!)

Now that you have an idea what the story is about, here are the three covers to choose from:

Cover 1

Cover 2

Cover 3

So which one do you like best and why? Is there anything you would change about the one you like best? 
Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks so much for your input and until next time,
Keep Writing! 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Third Book in The Castleton Series, End of Time, Releases Today

Hello my Lovelies!

I am so excited that the third book in Mike Dunbar's Castleton Series releases today! It is such a fantastic read! End of Time is my favorite book so far. I think part of this is because of the detail Mike goes into about making bows and arrows, when the boys go back in time to learn about the English Longbow. I've always had a thing for bows and arrows. (Long before the Katniss craze that has gripped our nation!)
Another aspect of the book that I really appreciated is the development and discovery with the alien beings. More tough moral lessons arise in this story, which also thrillingly throws us into the future! My boys are so eager to read this one, that they have actually put off the next book in the Lost Hero series by Rick Roirdan to read this instead.

In the distant future, technology has disappeared and few humans remain. This remnant lives a simple, peaceful existence; until an unexpected invader arrives. Yellow in color, shaped like a cross between a knight in armor and a football player--- these beings liquefy all the people they find. The villagers call them Dandelions, because they are yellow in color and just popped up out of nowhere. Charlie Newcomb escapes these monsters and travels back seven generations to find the daring innovative time crew described in his ancestor's diary.

Freshly returned from studying the Battle of Agincourt for a UNH professor Mike Castleton, Patrick Weaver and Nick Pope witnessed the power of the English long bow. With this simple weapon, a handful of English archers had destroyed an army of French knights. The CT9225's crew answers Charlie's desperate plea for help. With their friends Allie Tymoshenko, Jen Canfield and Loren Smith they return with Charlie to lead the few unarmed humans into battle with the Dandelion army, and perhaps witness the end of time.

It is available in E-book from the on-line retailer of your choice, or through Smashwords
Paperbacks are available through Createspace or you can order from your local bookstore.
If you haven't started reading this series, you really should. There are eight books in total, and the author is releasing a new book every three months. I cannot wait for the next book, coming out in December!

Have you read any of the Castleton Series yet? What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Review: The Art of Sales Management: Lessons Learned on the Fly by Michael Delaware

 Genre: Non-fiction, sales

Synopsis: The author has compiled tips and lessons learned from his years as a sales manager, and his experience running his own business. There is a nice combination of text-book information and real-world application. The author covers such topics as how to handle your sales people (with chapter headings like "Playing Sales as a Game, Sales Meetings with Results, Signals from the Bench, and Reaching for the Monkey in the Drawer) as well as managing sales work (with chapter headings such as Bonus Systems, The Man Behind the Curtain, Remembering the Ground Game, and Long Range planning)

The Good

I have worked a lot of my career in sales (retail and restaurant while in college, book sales now) and there was very little in this book that did not resonate with truth. (Except the idea that cash bonuses aren't nearly as effective as rewards bonuses. I know a lot of my colleagues from back in the day would disagree, so that is probably just me!) The author uses clever pop culture references that most of us can relate to, and when he uses sports metaphors he does such a good job of explaining the relation that I actually learned a lot about baseball while learning about sales management!

For each tip he gives, he sites real-world experiences he has personally had that apply to the principle he is promoting. This book took me nearly three months to read, because there was so much information crammed into the short 208 pages, and I was trying to figure out how to apply many of the lessons to my current situation. A great and educational read.

The Bad

This book took me three months to read. I suppose that is not really a bad thing, if your goal is to become a better sales manager, but if you are working in sales and trying to formulate a system to make this book work, I suggest you read through the whole thing, rather than implementing step by step. Keep your copy to refer back to when implementing. I am a one-book-at-a-time type reader, so this put all of my other books for review WAY behind. Fortunately, I devour fiction, so I'll get caught up quick enough.

The Ugly

This book would have benefited from a good editor. Not only were there copious amounts of grammar errors, and spelling errors,  but the organization fell way off towards the end. That is one thing that is soooooo important in non-fiction, especially self-help type books. Without excellent organization, the book just does not work. Fortunately, most of the book was extremely well-organized. Unfortunately, that made the end feel like the author/ publisher said "You've got some great material, but we need the book to be at least XX pages, so we need more content from you." Nope, bad call there.

Overall, I really appreciated this book. The tips are great and the examples are engaging. I found myself sharing a lot of the tips with a friend who is currently in sales management and he was excited to come back and tell me how he had employed them and how they had worked! Great material, not-so-great delivery of all of the material. I am definitely hanging on to this gem to refer to as needed. Yeah, it is good enough for that!!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Final Post for Elements Blog Hop, one last goodie!!

Hello everyone, and thank you so much for participating in the Elements of a Broken Mind Blog Hop this month! It was a wonderful success, with lots of wonderful interviews, reviews, and fun!

The rafflecopter was a wonderful success, and our three winners are Chris Allen, Justin Schiavone and Rose Wallin. But this was the most successful Rafflecopter I have ever held, with 76 entries! As a special thank you to each of you who entered, followed along on our blog hop, or at least tried; I have a special gift for each of you!

For this week, you can order the paperback of Elements of a Broken Mind through Createspace and using this code CAUMHNJK, you will get $5.00 off the book price! So instead of $11.99, it will only be $6.99! What a great deal!

If you prefer to read from your e-reader, then fear not, we have a special offer for you too. Again, for this week only, if you go and buy the book on Smashwords, and enter this code: ZS57N you will get the book 1/2 off. That is right, for only $2.00 It is available in pretty much any e-reader format that you could need.

Thank you again for participating in this wonderful and fun blog hop! Hope you enjoy the fun goodies and I look forward to seeing you for my next one!

Until next time,
Keep Reading!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Review: Eat by Lee Newman

Genre: Horror/ Short                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Synopsis:  Eat is a short story about a young college girl who gets kidnapped, knocked unconscious, and wakes up in a cell with another girl where an ominous voice orders them to "Eat". The author cleverly leaves it open as to what exactly they are eating.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Eat is a short story, and generally I am not a huge fan of short stories. It is surprisingly hard to get a short story right. For me, a short story should be an independent piece that leaves me as fulfilled at the end as reading a novel. Lee pulled this off quite nicely. 
The Good
This short story gave me the heebie jeebies! The opening scene actually takes place at the college I went to, and I had more than one night walking out of the library feeling that same anxiety. The author is pretty impressive writing this from a female perspective! I don't know, do guys have the same kind of creepy anxiety walking about at night? 

The Bad
And this is probably just me because others seemed to love this, but there was a very Alfred Hitchcock feel to the first part and then a very Saw-esque feel to the second part of the story.  I love Alfred Hitchcock, not a huge fan of Saw. It felt kind of disjointed, but it worked. 

The Ugly
Seriously, how could you end it that way, Lee?!?!?!? The "book" was too short and I got absolutely no closure.... which of course left me jumping at shadows for the next several nights. Oh, wait... I guess that was sort of the point! 

I love Lee's Dollar Dreadfuls (yeah, there are a whole series of shorts just as creepy as Eat!) but I prefer reading whole books, and this short story stuff just teases me! I hope Lee adapts some of these into full-length novels (ooh, or maybe combines some of them into one whole book.... creepy!!!) Stephen King has kind of fallen off with his scare factor, and I think we just found his predecessor. So, if you happen to see this humble review, write us a full-length creep fest Lee. I have been sleeping too soundly of late ;)

If you want to check out Lee's Dollar Dreadfuls, see his Smashwords page here:
To purchase your own copy of Eat on Amazon, see the right side of the blog!

Don't forget to enter the raffle copter for the chance to win a free psychic eye pendent, also up on the right. 

Until next time, 
Keep Reading!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Review: Promises of Love and Good Behavior by Roderick Craig Low

Don't forget to keep an eye out on all the fun blog hop stops for Elements of a Broken Mind! In the mean time, here is one of the Book Reviews that you missed while I was swamped!

Genre: Drama.. Existential Drama, if we can make that a category.

Synopsis: A man reflects, along with his wife and with his lover, on the affair that ruined their marriage. James fell madly in love with Jude, for her wild "Northern way". Jude found James tolerable, but he was willing to give her the stability she craved, and agreed to an open marriage just as all their friends were having. Her sexual appetites met, Jude was happy.

But the one time James decides to take advantage of their open marriage, he falls madly in love with a young employee of his company, working in Czechoslovakia. He tells of how he planned to leave his wife to be with the lovely Anezka, and why it did not work out.

An interesting and twisted tale told in an elegant and surreal manner, reflecting the age-old drama of infidelity in a new and different light.

The Good
Generally, I am not a fan of drama's, especially those that involve infidelity. Blame my dad, and the misery he put my mom through, but I am never sympathetic for those who are involved in the affair! And yet, in this book I am very sympathetic for James. Caught in a marriage where his wife seems to look down on him for his sentimentalist behaviors, and forces him into an "open marriage" to satiate her own sexual desires. But the one affair he has in this open marriage, he is unable to separate the deed with his feelings.

And the unique and artistically elegant manner in which the background of the story plays out left me curious, enticed, and aesthetically pleased enough to bypass the mundane topic matter. (Yeah, yeah, I know, what is wrong with me that I cannot enjoy most fiction that takes place in our modern day and age?!)

Characters are on a stage and a chessboard, and the format left me wondering if there wasn't another story in there to be revealed at the end. Alas, I cannot say more, lest I give something away.

The Bad
The part that entertained me the most (the creative backdrop in which the author tells the story) is a little off-putting for those expecting a traditional drama... which this book is pitched as, for all intents and purposes. 
And (this is probably just me, but) There is not a significant difference in many ways between Anezka and Jude, save about 15 years.  She seems to laugh at James, because he is so sentimental. (though a bit more kindly than his wife, but she hasn't been with him as long, either!) His fascination with her seems just as... hmmm... shallow, for lack of a better word. it is all about her beauty.

The Ugly
Perhaps this says more about me, but the beautiful backdrop to which the story is told *Spoiler alert* is nothing more than that. I wanted to see that become some sort of sci-fi, or near-death aspect, but it was never explained. Also, though I appreciate the author's painting each character in ways in which the reader interprets (and has the ability to interpret) all of them as "just human" neither good, nor bad. Showing how each played their part in the affair, in the unwise choices that were made. And it is for these aspects that I generally don't like reading dramas.

Overall: I probably won't read this book again, but the author managed to take a drama and paint it in such a manner that picky old me actually was drawn forward. The last drama I read was a Piccoult novel and took me almost two weeks. This one I devoured in a matter of three days. The author has a dystopian novel that I am really looking forward to reading in the very near future!

If you want to try out this interesting and entertaining novel, you can buy it directly from the link on the right of this page!

Until next time,
Keep Reading!