Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Blogger Interview: Ellen from Confessions of an Overworked Mom

Today I am going to try something new here at Book Tours and More. Author interviews aren't unusual, but I got to thinking that maybe I should be interviewing bloggers too. It will certainly help everyone find some great blogs to check out. In addition, many blogs run giveaways, so you could be saving money when you visit these blogs too.

Now, who else better to start with than Ellen from Confessions of an Overworked Mom, a blog I visit almost as often as my own. I've won some terrific stuff from the numerous giveaways Ellen runs each week. Let's get to know her and her blog better.

Our readers know I spend a great deal of time browsing your blog, Confessions of an Overworked Mom, for awesome giveaways. Why don’t you tell us how you got started in blogging?

I started blogging to chronicle our journey toward self-sufficiency. I began sharing great deals I found that helped us make it month to month and found that my readers really wanted to know more about the products we liked using and the great deals I found. The blog you see today sort of grew into what it is right now.

Your blog features many great products, but it must have been tough at first finding companies who would be willing to send you products. How did you go about it?

When I first started blogging, I shared information on products we had purchased that I really liked. My goal wasn't to have anyone send me anything. I just wanted to let other people know what our experiences were with products. I was totally flabbergasted the first time a company offered me something to review. Once I understood this was possible, I began searching for companies whose values matched my own to ask if they wanted me to promote their products.

Confessions of an Overworked Mom now has over 570 followers through Goggle Friends Connect. How did you gain such a large following?

I ask myself that all the time,LOL. I think people really like the contests I post and in order to enter the contests, they need to be followers. Honestly though, it's not all that many people in the world of mommy bloggers. I know several bloggers who have followers in excess of 3000 people. I'd love to reach that size.

Your blog also offers companies a place in your sidebar to advertise. What is the cost and why should a company choose Confessions of an Overworked Mom as their place in the blogosphere to advertise?

I have a few different reasons I put company info on my blog. Ads in the upper right hand corner of my blog are $5/month. For the most part these are companies that have approached me to place their ads. Ads in other places are generally companies that I have a long term relationship with as either an affiliate or simply because I love their products so much. Some are bartered for. Some are purchased. Some I just place for free. It really depends on the situation. I won't place an ad for a company I don't feel a good connection with.

As far as why companies should choose me, I get a lot of traffic from moms searching for contests to enter and great deals to take advantage of. I have a Google Page Rank of 4 and I work daily on making my blog a better place for people to visit. I think I offer good exposure opportunities for businesses looking for new customers.

In addition to book, product, and movie reviews, you frequently share more personal items at your blog: your weight loss goals, homesteading, your family life. What do you think these posts add to your blog? How have your readers responded to them?

Personally I like blogs that let me get to know the blogger as a whole person. I don't classify myself as simply a "review blog" because for me it's not all about reviews. Just about anyone can write a fluff piece promoting company X's products. I want to know when I read a review that the person who wrote it really does like the product. I can't know that if I don't know them as more than a reviewer. By sharing my life in general, I hope that I give people insight into who I am and what kinds of products I support. I won't review every product or book or DVD that's offered to me. I won't promote a company that I don't believe in. I think by sharing information on my life, I let people know that the products I write about really are what I say they are and I'm not just writing something positive because someone gave me a free widget.

You’re a busy wife and mother. In addition to blogging, you also hold down a job and run a homestead. How do you juggle your various roles?

I have no idea. Seriously. There are days I ask myself that a lot. I drink a lot of coffee. I multi-task constantly. I don't get a lot of sleep and I'm not the type of person who sits still easily. My goal is to not work outside the home, o I'd love to remove that one from my list but,for now it needs to stay there. Other than that, I really love what I do.

What are some of the great giveaways you are running right now?

I have a bunch of great giveaways going on right now including candles from Mountain Mama Kitchen Company, a Seventh Generation Starter Kit, sunglasses from Sunglass Warehouse & lots more. You can find all my contests here:


Do you have any tips for our readers who might be interested in starting their own product review blog?

Don't give up and don't try to be who you aren't. People can tell the difference between someone who writes from the heart and someone who is simply promoting the next product on their list. Go with what you love and products/companies that fit in with your lifestyle. If you honestly would never buy/support Company X then don't promote them on your blog. I'm all about honesty and transparency.

Is there anything you would like to add?

I'd like to invite your readers to also take a look at my fashion blog, The Socialite's Closet. It's my place to talk specifically about fashion including clothes, jewelry, perfume, etc. It's still small and I'd love it to grow!

Thanks for spending time with us today, Ellen. It was great to learn more about Confessions of an Overworked Mom and how it all started. We wish you continued success.

Thanks, Cheryl. I appreciate you having me!

Ellen is a 43 year old mother of two children, ages 12 (boy) and 17 (girl). She works part time outside of the home and runs several home based businesses. She lives in rural Vermont on a small, two acre homestead where she is passionate about eco-friendly and green living. She and her family care for gardens, a small orchard and a flock of ducks and chickens.

Her blogs include Confessions of an Overworked Mom where she focusses on living an eco friendly, gourmet life and products that support her goals and The Socialite's Closet where she writes about her love for designer fashions and products that appeal to her sense of style.

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Family Saga in Bear Lake, Idaho Book Giveaway at Linda Weaver Clarke's Blog

To celebrate Independence Day, author Linda Weaver Clarke is running a giveaway at her blog. One winner who leaves a comment about "what freedom means to you" will be able to claim one of the books from Clarke's A Family Saga in Bear Lake, Idaho series as their very own.

There are five books in this series: Melinda and the Wild West--which we reviewed here, Edith and the Mysterious Stranger, Jenny's Dream, David and the Bear Lake Monster, and Elena Woman of Courage.

This contest ends on July 5th. Don't miss your chance to own one of the wonderful books from this series. Stop by Linda's blog today!

Linda Weaver Clarke travels throughout the United States, teaching a “Family Legacy Workshop”, encouraging others to write their family history and autobiography. Clarke is the author of the historical fiction series, A Family Saga in Bear Lake, Idaho, and the new mystery series, Anasazi Intrigue: The Adventures of John and Julia Evans.

Getting Ready!

We're leaving on Friday for our annual trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We'll be gone until July 18th, but I still have a few spotlights lined up to post while I'm away:

July 7th - Sue Provost
July 9th - Marilyn Meredith
July 16th - Terry Drake

In addition, I'll try to blog a few times while we're away, and also hope to post some giveaway information for other blogs too.

I hope you're enjoying your summer!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Book Review: Why God Matters by Karina Lumbert Fabian and Deacon Steven Lumbert

For an easy to digest look into how God touches us daily, pick up a copy of Why God Matters: How to Recognize Him in Daily Life by Karina Lumbert Fabian and Deacon Steven Lumbert.

In this short book, authors Fabian and Lumbert invite readers along on a journey to discover through their experiences how God can be seen in our daily lives. From Deacon Steve's story of being a reluctant convert to Fabian's story of how she stopped being a martyr for the trivial, each chapter brings the reader that much closer to seeing how God impacts our lives, as seen through the eyes of two devoted Catholics.

Before I go further with my review, I feel the need to impart a bit of information to my readers. I spent thirty years in the Catholic Church. I was baptized into it, forced to attend Mass unless I was on my death bed, attended a Catholic school for eight years, taught religious education for 10 years and directed an elementary religious education program for 5 years. My decision to leave the Catholic Church was forced by my pastor explaining to me that after all those years, if I decided to marry the Greek Orthodox man I was engaged to, and didn't do it in the Catholic Church, I could no longer practice my faith: accept the sacrament of Holy Communion. To say the Catholic Church and I parted in not a good way, would be an understatement.

Books such as these are of interest to me because I'm always searching for that nugget of faith in God that surpasses the theology and catechism to bring us closer to our Heavenly Father. Why God Matters is definitely one of those books.

Each story included in this short book displays God's work in our lives. They reach beyond the rules and touch the heart. They discuss what it is like to have a relationship with God that allows us to come to Him in our times of need, knowing He will always be there. While books that discuss the Catholic faith often provide readers with dry theology, they don't allow the average person--especially one not familiar with the Catholic Church--a way to understand God and our relationship with him. Why God Matters changes that. It's written by a lay person and a deacon, both devoted to their faith, but in many ways able to express what that type of faith can mean to an individual better than straight theology or dogma.

I must point out a couple of stories that touched my heart. Chapter Five is titled, "Out of the Depths of Despair". Deacon Steve shares his dilemma as a father to be, when he prayed for someone to help him decide on whether to sign papers to allow doctors to perform an emergency cesarean section on his wife. The help God sent came from an unexpected person. Also, Chapter 14, "Influence", in which Fabian shares her husband's conversion to the Catholic faith and their son's decision not to believe. As she explains it, "...I trust in God that he will eventually find his way." Being in the same situation with my son, I understand where she is coming from.

Every chapter includes quotations, a Life Lesson, and a Bible verse. This helps to make this book a nice devotional. The book has also garnered the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval.

While this book is targeted to a Catholic audience, I feel other denominations will gain something from reading this book as well. I know I certainly enjoyed it, and look forward to more collaborations between Fabian and her father.

Title: Why God Matters: How to Recognize Him in Daily Life
Authors: Karina Lumbert Fabian and Deacon Steven Lumbert
Publisher: Tribute Books
ISBN-10: 0982256531
ISBN-13: 978-0982256534
SRP: $15.95

My Urban Child Apron Giveaway Still Running at Confessions of an Overworked Mom

Don't forget about this great giveaway going on at Confessions of an Overworked Mom!

If you're looking for a stylish new apron, why don't you stop on over at Confessions of an Overworked Mom. This contest will remain open until it receives 100 entries, and there are plenty of ways to increase your chances of winning. Check the blog for details.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Book Promotion Events for Nancy Thayer and Beachcombers

Nancy Thayer will be touring with Pump Up Your Book Promotion in July with her latest release, Beachcombers: A Novel.

Here are some in-person events where you might catch her:

Saturday, June 26, 10-noon, Booksigning, Mitchell’s Bookstore, Nantucket, Massachusetts.

Wednesday, June 30, 7:30 pm, Booksigning, Bunch of Grapes, Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

Thursday, July 1, Lunch Event, Bank Street Books, Mystic Connecticut

Thursday, July 1, 7 pm, Talk, Stonington Library, Stonington, Connecticut

Friday, July 2, Booksigning, Titcombs Books, East Sandwich, MA

August 18, 7 pm., Talk, Nantucket Atheneum

Nancy Thayer is the New York Times bestselling author of Summer House, Moon Shell Beach, The Hot Flash Club, The Hot Flash Club Strikes Again, Hot Flash Holidays, The Hot Flash Club Chills Out, and Between Husbands and Friends. She lives on Nantucket. You can visit Nancy Thayer’s website at www.NancyThayer.com.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Product Review: Planet Wise Wet Bag

I won a Planet Wise Wet Bag from Confessions of an Overworked Mom back in May. We've been using it for weeks and I can tell you it is one of the best things I've ever owned.

My daughters take swimming lessons at the YMCA. Last year before our annual trip to the Outer Banks, I bought a beach bag with mesh pockets on the outside and holes in the bottom to make carrying wet towels easier. It certainly did its job, but when I go to the YMCA, I take a book and other items that I don't want to get wet, so I always have to pack a plastic bag with me to carry the girls' wet bathing suits and towels after lessons are over.

With the Planet Wise Wet Bag, I can easily fit both towels and both suits in the bag, which is lined on the inside. The outside has a zippered pouch to fit keys, sunglasses, your wallet, or anything else you don’t want to get wet.

The inner liner dries within seconds of the wet items being removed. There is no odor. And I like the fashionable Dot Tastic print, though they have several others.

Summertime fun will be abundantly easier with a Planet Wise Wet Bag!

* Disclaimer: This review was not requested by Confessions of an Overworked Mom or Planet Wise. These are my opinions based solely upon my time using this product that I won.

Walker's Wedding by Lori Copeland Interview and Giveaway at Linda Weaver Clarke's Blog

Bestselling Christian author, Lori Copeland has recently released a new novel, Walker's Wedding. Jilted by his fiancĂ©e, Walker McKay is determined to never let a woman near his heart again, but he needs an heir. Courting someone new is out of the question, so he’ll have to find a wife another way. Wealthy heiress Sara Livingston wants to marry, but her suitors are deemed unsuitable by her unreasonable father. So she answers an ad for a mail-order bride and grabs onto it with both hands. Will Sara’s deception about her background and Walker’s wounded heart keep them from finding what they are looking for? Or are they truly meant for one another?

Doesn't this book sound wonderful?

Copeland granted Linda Weaver Clarke an interview this week at her blog. Copeland's fans can consider themselves lucky, because two copies of Walker's Wedding are available for this. The giveaway runs from today until June 28th. This is also an international giveaway!

Visit Linda's blog here to find details on how you can enter to win a copy of Lori Copeland's latest.

Lori Copeland lives in the beautiful Ozarks with her husband Lance. Lance and Lori have three sons, two daughter-in-laws, and five wonderful grandchildren, and one great-granddaughter.

Lance and Lori are very involved in their church, and active in supporting mission work in Mali, West Africa.

Lori began her writing career in 1982, writing for the secular book market. In 1995, after many years of writing, Lori sensed that God was calling her to use her gift of writing to honor Him. It was at that time that Lori began writing for the Christian book market. To date, she has more than 95 books published.

You can visit Lori online at www.loricopeland.com

The 13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo DVD Giveaway at Confessions of an Overworked Mom

Ellen from Confessions of an Overworked Mom continues to bring readers great new giveaways each week. I spied this one when I went out there yesterday. I can't tell you how excited my girls would be if I won this DVD. They love Scooby Doo, which I always find funny since it was such a big hit when I was a kid. I used to write Scooby Doo type mysteries when I was younger. I think I might even have one in my hope chest.

So, if you love Scooby Doo or your kids love the show, stop by Confessions of an Overworked Mom and enter for your chance to win a copy of The 13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo DVD! You can find all the details here. Ellen also offers many ways to increase your chances of winning.

Good luck!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Trapped by Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen Interview and Giveaway at Linda Weaver Clarke's Blog

In addition to the Summer Treasure Hunt: "Dig for Clues and Win!" Contest Linda Weaver Clarke is running through the month of June, she is continuing her weekly book giveaways.

You have until June 21st to enter her latest giveaway for a copy of Trapped by Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen.

"Trapped is about a sheltered Florida girl who wakens to find a thief in her mother’s home. After she escapes, she discovers he not only stole two paintings, but he also left behind shrines dedicated to her and a mysterious note, a "trap," which eventually leads her and the man she loves to a mafia-like world within the Austrian Alps."

“Family secrets, magic, and a fascinating new setting. Well written and cleverly done, Trapped is a great example of what makes suspense novels so engaging.”
--Josi S. Kilpack

"Just like its title, Trapped, by Ronda Hinrichsen, snatched up my attention with its first sentence. Hinrichsen carefully presents absorbing characters, heart-tugging romance and mystical-laden riddles in a way that kept me turning pages way past bedtime."
--Jody Durfee

Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen's numerous magazine and internet writing credits include fiction and nonfiction published by The Friend, New Era, Ensign, Guideposts for Kids, Class Act, and yourLDSneighborhood.com. She also enjoys teaching writing and speaking in various venues.

Ronda first knew she wanted to be a writer when she was in the 6th grade. Her English teacher had been reading S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders to the class, and when she reached the section where Johnny urged Ponyboy to stay “gold,” Ronda realized she wanted to write "golden” words just as Hinton had. More than that, she wanted those words to encourage the "golden" in others. That remains one of her goals.

Visit Ronda online at www.rondahinrichsen.com

Visit Linda's blog to enter this giveaway.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Author Spotlight: Becky Due and Returning Injury

“This book held me on the edge of my seat…I would recommend this book to women who need to know they can overcome danger in frightening situations…”
--The Knowlton Nest

Rebecca’s life just keeps getting better. With Jack away on business, she’s looking forward to four days alone to work on her new client’s PR campaign to help women take back their lives. But her past intrudes. Roy, the man who stalked and assaulted her years before, has been released from prison. Home alone in her big, beautiful house out in the country, Rebecca has to learn to take back her own life while facing her fears and regaining her strength. But will she be strong enough when she faces the ultimate test?

“If you want a great suspense book that will keep you on the edge of your seat right up until the end of the book, then Returning Injury is the book for you! It is full of suspense, emotion, highs and lows!..”
--A Mom After Go's Own Heart


Becky Due, like the main characters of her novels, spent many years running from herself, looking for love, crying a little and laughing a lot along the journey of finding herself. Through writing, Due found her passion. She is the author of several books and is currently working on her next novel.

Happily married she and Scott live in Colorado, Florida and Alberta, Canada with their two “kids” Buddy the Cat and Shorty the Pug.

Becky has been a guest on national radio programs and has been the subject of numerous newspaper and national magazine articles for empowering women through her novels. She has served as a guest speaker at Women’s Resource Centers, Shelters, Colleges and High Schools within the United States. Becky has had extensive training at Victim Services, worked the 24-Hour Sexual Assault Crisis-Line and was a Victim’s Advocate where she offered one-on-one assistance and support to rape victims. In 2007, Becky started, Women Going Forward, the first national women’s telephone support group, which ran for almost two years. After receiving much recognition for her novels, Becky’s focus turned back to her writing and empowering women through her novels.

Becky’s latest book is a supsense novel titled Returning Injury: A Suspense Chelebrating Women’s Strength. You can visit her website at www.beckydue.com

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Top Three Mistakes People Make When Dealing with the Media (And How to Avoid Them) by Jonathan Bernstein

Every media interview, whether on-camera, by phone or even by email, is a unique opportunity to communicate your key messages to your stakeholders. Such important occasions should not be taken lightly, and yet completely preventable mistakes are often made by spokespersons. Here are three of the biggest mistakes – and how to avoid them.

1. Failure to Prepare

Even the most naturally skilled interview subject has a dramatically higher chance of being unhappy with the results of media contact if he/she fails to prepare for that possibility. Preparation includes:

 Media training using realistic scenarios ranging from the mundane to crisis-level situations.

 Crafting and memorizing key messages for topics on which you’re likely to be quizzed in advance of any interview.

 Doing some research on any media interviewer before an interview is given so as to understand the type of reporting that journalist typically does (e.g., friendly or hostile, pro-business or anti-business, balanced reporting or clearly slanted).

 Practicing to refine skills in between actual media interviews. Long periods of time can pass between interviews for many spokespersons. One or two days media training does not turn someone into an expert spokesperson – practice and experience can do that, if the spokesperson has the necessary basic talent.

2. Underestimating Non-Traditional Media

Today, ‘media’ doesn’t just mean traditional media (newspapers, radio, TV), but also “social media” that takes many different forms, including blogs, MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and FriendFeed. All of them featuring information – sometimes about you and/or your organization – on a 24/7 news cycle.

Additionally, the lines between print and broadcast media have completely blurred. First, all of them have websites, but on the LA Times website, for example, you’ll find video. On Fox News’ website, you’ll find print. All media sites archive their stories, sometimes for many years, so a single piece of bad news can haunt you for a long, long time. The ‘blogosphere’ can act as a repeater, and distorter, of traditional media coverage, and there’s been more than one traditional media outlet that used a blog as a source.

It’s a mistake to underestimate the impact of someone whose blog is popular, who has hundreds or thousands of friends in their Facebook or Twitter network, and/or who regularly expresses their opinions via YouTube or other social media sites. They can hurt – or help – you just as much as any newspaper or broadcast outlet.

It is critical that all organizations have someone on staff, or on contract, who understands how to both monitor non-traditional media and use it for communicating both routine and crisis-level messages.

3. Treating the Media Like the Enemy

If you want to make a major mistake, tell a reporter that you think he/she has done such a bad job of reporting on you that you'll never talk to him/her again. Or badmouth him/her in a public forum. Send nasty emails. Then sit back and have a good time while:

 The reporter gets angry and directs that energy into REALLY going after your organization.

 The reporter laughs at what he/she sees as validation that you're really up to no good in some way.

Most reporters are not out to get you and, even for those who are, its rarely personal; they are ego-driven and their goal is the same as any employee’s – professional advancement.

Jonathan Bernstein is author of Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training and president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., an international crisis management consultancy based in Southern California.

To learn more about the Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training by Jonathan Bernstein Tour, please click here.

Author Spotlight: Joe Sergi and Sky Girl and the Superheroic Legacy

"Reading this book was hilarious...I can't wait for the sequel and I would most definitely recommend it to anyone." --Flamingnet

DeDe Christopher is an average high school sophomore with dreams of winning the National Gymnastic Tournament and dating the school quarterback. But her world changes when DeDe begins to develop fantastic abilities that are strangely similar to those of a fictional comic book superhero named SkyBoy. With the help of her best friend, Jason, a self-proclaimed comic geek, DeDe begins a quest to discover her true destiny as she confronts the all-too-real enemies and allies of SkyBoy. She must deal with capes, apes, and aliens to find a way to live up to a legacy that no one can remember and become Sky Girl.

Read an Excerpt!


Battery Park, New York, The Past

New York is a city of contradiction. Uptown, the city thrives with activity, as tourists mix with residents under a Technicolor neon sky. They fill the streets in their mad rush to go nowhere fast. Uptown, the city is alive with energy. Downtown, however, is a very different place. At day’s end, the nine-to-five workers at the World Financial Center and neighboring Wall Street, rush home and the area becomes a veritable ghost town. This is especially true in Battery Park City. Half-completed construction and gothic architecture combine to create an atmosphere of evil, where misshapen dragons and gargoyles look down upon the skeletal frames of future high-rise apartments and office buildings.

However, on this clear, New York night, these gothic creatures had something else to observe as a quartet of garishly costumed villains called the Retallion Battalion gathered around the base of a large, blood-red colored radio antenna. The word “Zeeliminator” was etched in bold neon letters at the base of the antenna. The Zeeliminator stood fifteen stories high. Large red, purple, and green colored lights outlined the machine and lit up the night sky, making the device appear more grotesque. As the name implied, the Zeeliminator was the creation of the villainous Professor Z, the leader of the Retallion Battalion.

Professor Z tried not to get too excited as he made his final adjustments to the Zeeliminator. He had been working for nearly an hour and was almost finished. The Professor wore his trademark bright yellow jumpsuit, which was adorned with a light blue exoskeleton. His sandy, blonde hair was buzz cut. His brown eyes were covered by blue goggles, which were the same shade as his exoskeleton. The twenty-five year old prodigy had the body of a young athlete. However, the flecks of gray in his goatee showed the man had aged beyond his years. Professor Z was a genius, and believed that the true purpose for his genius was to rid the world of the pretender. He had made it his life's goal to destroy the insolent child who had taken the adulation of the masses from him, the rightful recipient. Professor Z, with the assistance of his partner, Evil Brain, had attempted several times to prove his superiority to a misguided world. As a result, the villain had served several years in jail. In fact, his partner, the Evil Brain, still languished in a cell at the maximum security facility known as Alabaster Prison. Tonight, though, he would finally have his revenge against SkyBoy.

A short distance away, a trio of villains watched as Professor Z worked at the base of the macabre-looking device.

The first was the demonic creature known simply as Shadow. Shadow’s long, black cloak blended into the darkness around him and concealed the creature's frail body. The cloak was more than a simple black fabric; it was a life support system, which allowed the demon to exist in this reality - a world of light. By design, the cloak drew all the shadows towards the villain and absorbed all nearby light to ensure that the creature was constantly surrounded by darkness. Despite the blackness, the creature's pale face still glowed in the moonlight. Shadow's pallid skin, red eyes, and sharp fangs hinted at the creature's otherworldly origins. Shadow had been brought to our dimension by a misguided mystic, and bound himself to this mage, which allowed Shadow to permanently remain in this plane of existence. Shadow thought it would have been child's play for the demon to take over the planet. At least, it should have been - if not for the impetuous hero known as SkyBoy.

Joe Sergi is an author that lives outside of Washington, DC with his wife, Yee, and daughter, Elizabeth. He has published short prose stories and articles in the horror, science fiction, and super hero genres. Joe has also written for comics in the romance, horror, science fiction, and super hero genres. Sky Girl and the Superheroic Legacy is his first novel. In 2008, Joe was selected as a semi-finalist in the Who Wants to Create a Superheroine contest sponsored by the Shadowline Imprint of Image Comics. When not writing, Joe works for an unnamed government agency.

Joe’s publications can be found at www.joesergi.net. For more about Sky Girl and the Superheroic Legacy, visit the book’s website at www.skygirlnovel.com.

You can purchase Sky Girl and the Superheroic Legacy from Amazon.com!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Author Spotlight: Sherry Shumard and Heartbroken Promises 2

"This is a short novel of only 78 pages and is crammed full of action and romance." --Just One More Paragraph

In Heartbroken Promises 2, Vicky Wainright decides to visit Jake’s Island so she can be close to her sister Miranda. She is offered a nanny job by the handsome Jordan, an eligible bachelor who is raising his son by himself. Her heart is soon torn, however, between Jordan and her sister's waiter, Noah. When Vicky is kidnapped while babysitting Jordan's son, Derrick, Miranda is sure Noah is one of the kidnappers. Will that change how Vicky feels about Noah? Will Derrick and Vicky be rescued in time?

Sherry Shumard is the published author of Heartbroken Promises and Heartbroken Promises 2. She plans on writing more books based upon the many ideas she has floating around in her head. Sherry is married and has three children and two pets.

You can find out more about the author and her work by visiting her website.

Follow Sherry's virtual book tour during the month of June by visiting http://virtualbooktours.wordpress.com/

Friday, June 11, 2010

UPrinting Giveaway at Confessions of an Overworked Mom

If any of you can figure out how Ellen over at Confessions of an Overworked Mom runs so many great giveaways while holding down a job and taking care of her family and the homestead, just let me know.

Today I wandered out there and she is running a giveaway for a beautiful chopstick set from Asia Rustic. Then I went further down the list and found this awesome giveaway for 250 Stickers/Labels from UPrinting.

I've run out of all the address labels I bought before and I would like to order new ones, maybe with the cover art from The Little Shepherd Boy on them.

You must be a resident of the United States to be eligible to win. Last day to enter is June 18th, so hurry on over to Confessions of an Overworked Mom, where you'll find this and many other great giveaways.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Interview with Author Laura Lyseight and Giveaway at Linda Weaver Clarke's Blog

Do you have a teen? Does a friend of yours have a teen? Is your grandchild, neice, nephew or cousin a teen? Then you better hurry on over to Linda Weaver Clarke's blog by Saturday, June 12th.

Linda interviewed author Laura Lyseight at her blog this week. Readers will have a chance to win a copy of one of Laura's excellent books for teens.

"Brimming with wisdom and sensible expressions, this compilation of wise, life-transforming quotes from various scholars and gifted personalities is designed to motivate, challenge, and help the teens in charting their successful path in life. These quotes will allow them to experience renewed energy, feel an explosive excitement, and be mystified by their passion to do more.

This collection of quotes has been carefully sourced to inspire teens worldwide to give their best in everything they do to make their life more meaningful and fulfilling. Every teen, especially those who desire to be successful must have a copy."
- from the author's website.

"In an apparently changing economic climate, succeeding in the world of business is everybody’s goal.

Hence, there is a need for the teens to prepare and equip themselves with vital knowledge before handling their own businesses in the near future.

But, what do these teens need to learn about entrepreneurship while they are still young to have a better advantage and a greater chance of succeeding in this field?"
- from the author's website.

"This edifying read introduces readers, especially the teens, to the ten comprehensible and proven methods to succeed in any examination with excellence.

The core of Don’t Learn for Exams! reveals the secrets of the highly successful teens which are shared to motivate, guide, and help the average teens in staying focused and inspired throughout their studies. Ten chapters tackling on the knowledge and ten secret codes of the successful teens will surely bring about a turning point in their academic endeavor and will raise their enthusiasm to excel in every aspect of their life.

The eye-opening and informative ideas found in this enlightening book will enhance their learning abilities and capabilities."
- from the author's website.

Read Linda's interview with Laura Lyseight. Then leave a comment for your chance to win one of Laura's book. This is an international giveaway, but you have to enter by June 12th to be eligible.

Laura Lyseight has been a source of inspiration and great influence in the lives of many youngsters both students and children alike. Her burning ambition to see teens find and reach their full potential has driven her to prolifically write books to challenge, empower and enrich their lives beyond their own expectations.

She recalls times in her life as a teen where she wanted to be the best, but lacked the exposure, especially exposure to the world of business. Now a serial entrepreneur, a private tutor and coach, and a best-selling author, Laura is mentoring teens to leadership and helping them create their own success stories.

Stop by Linda's blog right now!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

5 Things You Don't Know about My Dog Tim: and Other Stories by Garasamo Maccagnone

Today's guest blogger is Garasamo Maccagnone, author of the literary fiction story collection, My Dog Tim: and Other Stories.

"5 Things You Don't Know about My Dog Tim: and Other Stories" by Garasamo Maccagnone

• Being an anthology, there is a twenty year separation between when the first story was published and the last one written.
• That the novel, St. John of the Midfield was heavily influenced by, The Great Gatsby.
• The short story "Goalie Boy" was originally published in a sports literature magazine called Aethelon.
• The shortest stories, which are two-page vignettes, took the longest to write.
• That someone has listed St. John of the Midfield on Amazon as one of the greatest sports novels ever.

Garasamo Maccagnone studied creative writing and literature under noted American writers Sam Astrachan and Stuart Dybek at Wayne State University and Western Michigan University. A college baseball player as well, Maccagnone met his wife Vicki as a junior at WMU. The following year, after injuring his throwing arm, Maccagnone left school and his baseball ambitions to marry Vicki. After a two year stint at both W.B. Doner and BBDO advertising agencies, Maccagnone left the industry to apply his knowledge of marketing in a new venture in an up-and-coming industry. Maccagnone created a company called, “Crate and Fly,” and turned it from a store front in 1984 to a world-wide multi-million dollar shipping corporation by 1994.

In the mid 90’s Maccagnone decided to fulfill the promise of his writing career, by first penning the children’s book, The Suburban Dragon and then following up with a collection of short stories and poetry entitled, The Affliction of Dreams. His literary novel, St. John of the Midfield was published in 2007, followed by his For the Love of St. Nick, which was released in 2008. Maccagnone expanded the original version of For the Love of St. Nick and had the book illustrated for a new release in June 2009. My Dog Tim: and Other Stories is a literary anthology of the author’s best work.

Garasamo “Gary” Maccagnone lives today in Shelby Township, Michigan, with his wife Vicki and three children. At this time, he is researching the location for his second novel, tentatively titled, He Lay Low.

You can visit Gary online at www.garasamomaccagnone.com

Visit Gary's tour stops all month long by visiting http://virtualbooktours.wordpress.com/

Monday, June 7, 2010

My Urban Child Apron Giveaway at Confessions of an Overworked Mom

There are more great giveaways running right now over at Confessions of an Overworked Mom. I'm hoping to get my hands on the apron that is being offered by My Urban Child. I cook seven days a week here, so my aprons take a beating, especially during the summer when I'm grilling a lot of the time.

If you're looking for a stylish new apron, why don't you stop on over at Confessions of an Overworked Mom. This contest will remain open until it receives 100 entries, and there are plenty of ways to increase your chances of winning--just like I'm doing now. Check the blog for details.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Elements of a Good Book Review

I've been told I write a good review often enough that I feel confident talking about this subject to others. A review is one person's opinion of a book they have read. It's not a play-by-play description of a book and it shouldn't contain spoilers.

Reviews can vary in length depending upon the type of book you've read and the number of pages in the book. What site you are writing the review for can also determine how long your review is, but if you're writing for your blog, you can write a review in any length you feel comfortable with. It is important to keep in mind, however, that you need to provide a potential reader with enough information to make an informed buying decision--which is the whole point of a review.

I like to start my reviews off with a quick blurb like this:

"A sweet historical romance is what you'll find in Melinda and the Wild West, the first book in Linda Weaver Clarke's A Family Saga in Bear Lake, Idaho series."

This introduction gives your readers a brief glimpse into your thoughts on the book.

Then I move on to a short synopsis of the book.

"It is 1896, and elegant, naive Melinda Gamble decides to give up the comforts and pleasures of the east to become a schoolteacher in the untamed Wild West. Paris, Idaho is everything that Boston isn't: peaceful, simple, and dangerous.

Melinda loves teaching. When she takes Jenny Roberts under her wing, she opens up a world to the child that Jenny's former teachers never cared enough to share. Jenny begins to blossom and Melinda is happy to see she is having such a positive impact on her students. Dealing with Jenny's father, however, frustrates Melinda to no end.

Gilbert Roberts has been raising Jenny by himself since his wife died in childbirth. Running his cattle ranch and providing for Jenny have left him too busy to consider courting. And even if he had the time, the secret that has plagued him for years, quells any desire he might have to marry again. He resents Melinda's initial accusations that he is neglecting his daughter. As they get to know each other better, Melinda's self-willed nature leaves him shaking his head more than once.

Can two people who are so different truly have a future together?"

I've written synopses that are shorter than this one, but I truly adored this book and found it difficult to condense the plot into fewer words. When writing your synopsis, you need to make sure you give readers enough information about the story so they know if it will be something of interest to them. As mentioned above, though, you shouldn't give away any crucial plot points--like Johnny's mother was murdered in Chapter 4, which made him an angry young man bent on revenge, and led to his killing those responsible.

If the book is part of a series, it is a good idea to mention that, because some readers like to read books in order. I usually mention which book in the series it is.

Next, I go on to describe what I like about the book and also mention any aspects where I felt the book fell short of my expectations.

"The strength of this book lies within its well-developed characters. Melinda is self-willed (a term she despises), with an elegance one would expect of a well-bred young lady. Melinda certainly doesn't see herself giving up teaching to get married and take care of some man for the rest of her life. She is frustrated by Gilbert, which makes her attraction to him that much more difficult to bear.

Gilbert, on the other hand, has dealt with the loss of his wife alone. He keeps more than busy raising Jenny and operating his cattle ranch. He's not prepared for someone like Melinda, and he certainly can't understand his attraction to her.

Melinda's Aunt Martha and Uncle William, who she boards with in Paris, Idaho, are not complex characters, but the story wouldn't be the same without them. Martha is the matchmaking half of a couple that has been married for many years and remains as in love now as they were back then. They provide a sense of belonging to Melinda in her new home. They are sweet and funny, and are the perfect surrogate parents for Melinda."

If there is something unique or special about the book, I'll mention that.

"Several true experiences from Clarke's family members and ancestors make their way into the book. She lists them in a note at the end of the book. Clarke also does an excellent job of dropping the reader right into the time period with many historical details."

Then I wrap up the review with another quick blurb:

"Memorable characters, an engaging plot, and the heartbeat of the untamed west combine to make Melinda and the Wild West a book that historical romance readers will enjoy."

Blurbs are important for at least a couple of reasons. Authors use these blurbs on their websites and/or blogs for promotional purposes. Blurbs from my reviews have appeared on the insides of books (great exposure for me). Blurbs also usually contain the title of the book and the author's name, which is important for SEO purposes when reviewing online.

Reviews are written solely for readers. While no one wants to say they didn't enjoy a book that an author toiled over, perhaps for years, the reality is that we have a variety of tastes and not every book is going to be 5-star to us. As long as you write honest, professional reviews, people will be interested in what you have to say about the books you're reading.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Author Spotlight: Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein and Secrets

Following on the heels of the best-selling book The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything), SECRETS: You Tell Me Yours and I’ll Tell You Mine…maybe! is the continuing diary of a girl moving into her teen-age years. The Girl has plenty to fill her journal. The pages reveal a new school, a new baby in the family, new friends, a new guy and a new set of issues to face. Enter the secret world of an almost-teen as she learns which secrets to share and which to keep to herself.

Read an Excerpt!

I can’t believe it. Today we moved and I feel like I am in a dream. I just keep walking around our new house and wondering when we will go home. It feels so different and strange. The floors are all bare wood. Everything is on one floor. It is called a ranch house, I don’t know why. My mother said our rugs would look terrible here so she let the people who bought our house keep them. I think she was right. They are a dark maroon and the walls are a light cream in this house. I don’t think that would look good.

I went to the bathroom three times since we got here and every time I used a different bathroom. I can’t believe it. Three different toilets in the same house! Only my friend Susan, my rich friend, has more than two bathrooms. And now we do. I keep measuring the living room. Would you believe it is 27 feet by 15 feet? I used my own feet and added a few inches each time I took a step.

When I look out of the windows I expect to see the shrubs to my left and the Hudson house and I don’t. Instead I see a big open field that will probably have houses on it by next year. That’s what my father said. And when I look out to the right I expect to see our clothesline and the Dixson’s driveway. Instead I see rose bushes and a wooden bench under a tree that the last owners said we could have.

We had to eat supper off of paper plates and use wooden throw-away forks, knives and spoons because our boxes are still packed. My aunt made us a big picnic hamper of food and that’s what we ate for supper.

My brother already started to play with a kid next door who is about a year older than he is. He is so lucky. I have no one yet and that’s the truth!

Read the Reviews!

“In ‘The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything)’ we met a young girl who is confident and ready to move forward. Now in ‘Secrets – You Tell Me Yours and I’ll Tell You Mine…maybe!’, the uncertainty of adolescence threatens to steal her Truth. Follow this charming young girl on the cusp of womanhood as she shares her secrets and explores her ever-changing world.”
– Cheryl C. Malandrinos, The Children’s and Teens’ Book Connection

Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein, nationally know Positive Psychologist, is the creator of The Enchanted Self,® a systematic way of helping to bring more joy, meaning, and purpose into our lives.

Dr. Holstein has been a school psychologist for more than 25 years. She has taught elementary school children and was an assistant professor in education in at Boston University. She has been in private practice as a psychologist with her husband, Dr. Russell M. Holstein, in Long Branch, New Jersey, for over 25 years.

Contact Dr. Holstein on the web at www.enchantedself.com and www.thetruthforgirls.com.

You can follow Dr. Barbara's virtual book tour during the month of June by stopping in each weekday at http://virtualbooktours.wordpress.com/

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Like Mayflies in a Stream by Shauna S. Roberts Interview and Giveaway at Linda Weaver Clarke's Blog

This week you can wander on over to Linda Weaver Clarke's blog to read an interview with Shauna S. Roberts, author of Like Mayflies in a Stream.

"In the great city of Uruk, there is no peace when Gilgamesh is restless, and he is never at rest. Shamhat, a priestess of Inanna, goes into the wilderness to find and civilize a match for Uruk's violently active God-King. Like Mayflies in a Stream brings new life to the Epic of Gilgamesh, diving into one of the earliest conflicts between civilization and wilderness, civic order and freedom, romance and sexuality."

Read the Reviews!

"The great achievement here is to imagine what might have happened inside the story of Gilgamesh to make things occur the way the epic tells it. The result in an exciting and very human story, set in a fascinating time and place—the dawn of civilization—all brought expertly to life."
—Kim Stanley Robinson, winner of Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and World Fantasy awards

"I have to honestly say I haven't enjoyed a book so much in years! I felt I was 'there' in Sumer, living the story along with Shamhat and Enkidu, Zaidu and Gilgamesh. For me, it was a slice of Sumerian life—a totally fascinating, engrossing, and absorbing story with human touches and a delicious, subtle humor. Other adjectives that come to mind: graceful, lyrical writing; unusual; unique."
—Lynna Banning, author of 15 historical romance novels

"Crisp writing and fascinating characters make Like Mayflies in a Stream a compelling read. Shauna Roberts depicts ancient Sumer in such believable detail that you can practically hear the rushing of the Euphrates and feel the hot desert air on your skin."
—Sabrina Jeffries, New York Times bestselling author of Regency romance novels

You can find out more about the author and her work by visiting her website.

If this sounds like a book you would like to add to your library, stop by Linda Weaver Clarke's blog where you can read Linda's interview with Shauna, and enter for your chance to win a copy of Like Mayflies in a Stream.

This giveaway ends on June 7th and is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only.