Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Hey Ya'll; Happy Thanksgiving to all my US friends - and anyone else who celebrates this holiday. Turkey Day is one of my favorites because all you have to do is cook, eat and spend time with family and/or friends. Who doesn't love a good meal!?!

Speaking of meals, and overeating, and getting fat and lazy - at least for one or two days - I found your perfect after Turkey read. Or, before the meal, if you don't have to cook or travel and need something to take your mind off all the delicious smells.

Perhaps THE BODY INSTITUTE (Entangled Teen) will even help you to not overeat due to reading about the health care issues and bullying surrounding obesity, even those who carry just a tad of extra poundage. Of course, you could go the other way; feeding your literary appetite while stuffing your gut and then napping with the dream of a Reducer melting off all that excess poundage. Now that's my kind of weight loss program!

I wasn't sure I'd like this YA novel, but I was intrigued by the premise, and the one line on the cover that asks the question "are we our minds . . . or our bodies?" I attended a book signing at a local bookstore, and after hearing author Carol Riggs discuss the book, the plot concept and issues explored, I had a few questions. The author wasn't sure if it was Dystopian, but did assure me it was not the typical angsty YA voice. I liked what she read, and that intriguing question, and decided to take the chance and purchase a paper copy.

To my mind, this is definitely not dystopian, and does not take place in a school. The world is set approx 50 years in the future, but that future is not a set date, as the technology, environmental, and social issues addressed could plausibly happen any time between next year or more than a hundred years. I liked how the author moved today's current issues along to a logical conclusion, complete with all the expected benefits and drawbacks. I could see myself living in this speculative future and completely related to the concerns and stubbornness of the Grandfather.

The age of the protagonist - nearly 18 year old Morgan who is an over achieving science geek with loyal friends and a wholesome, patriotic attitude - works well for the future focus, as even today young people and their industriousness is what the older (not elderly) generation depends on to keep the world moving forward. Each generation of characters was well developed, easily relatable regardless of the age of the reader.

Without giving spoilers, I'll just say the villain in this novel is Big Business and Government, focusing down to one person of course; and includes the question of how much control each should have over our individual choices/rights. I like a book that opens my mind to different opinions, and makes me want to research/learn about technologies and philosophies.

I would recommend THE BODY INSTITUTE to anyone who enjoys a well paced mystery, an exploration of social issues in the near future, excellently developed and believable characters, and a wholesome concept that promotes family values.

As I said, this book is good food for thought, and if you would prefer exercising your mind as opposed to your body after an excellent meal, pick up this book and your favorite beverage and snuggle in for a cozy read.

Purchase links:
Amazon   B&N   Kobo   Indie Bound   Powell's Books   Books a Million

Meet Morgan Dey, one of the top teen Reducers at The Body Institute.

Thanks to cutting-edge technology, Morgan can temporarily take over another girl’s body, get her in shape, and then return to her own body—leaving her client slimmer, more toned, and feeling great. Only there are a few catches…

For one, Morgan won’t remember what happens in her “Loaner” body. Once she’s done, she won’t recall walks with her new friend Matt, conversations with the super-cute Reducer she’s been text-flirting with, or the uneasy feeling she has that the director of The Body Institute is hiding something. Still, it’s all worth it in the name of science. Until the glitches start…

Suddenly, residual memories from her Loaner are cropping up in Morgan’s mind. She’s feeling less like herself and more like someone else. And when protests from an anti–Body Institute organization threaten her safety, she’ll have to decide if being a Reducer is worth the cost of her body and soul…

Are we our minds...or our bodies?

Carol Riggs lives in the beautiful green state of Oregon, USA. She enjoys reading, drawing and painting, writing conferences, walking with her husband, and enjoying music and dance of all kinds. You will usually find her in her writing cave, surrounded by her dragon collection and the characters in her head.

Contact Carol on her website, blog, twitter, Face Book, Good Reads,

Sunday, November 15, 2015


Now, I'm not a beer drinking woman - don't like beer at all. Hmm, well, had few sips of a Bud Light Strawberita a couple times, and that wasn't too bad. It didn't have much of the usual beer aftertaste, but I wouldn't drink it just cuz there was nothing else alcoholic around. I'll pass. Wine is my adult beverage of choice, but I rarely say no to Captain Morgan.

I do love those drinking songs though. Red Solo Cup is likely my favorite, but Drunk On A Plane comes close enough to call it a tie.

BEER DRINKING WOMAN embodies that fantasy of sitting at the bar, having a guy hit on you, buy drinks in hopes of going home (or somewhere) with you, then the gal gets to walk away and leave him with the tab.Not that this has ever happened to me . .  the last time I was out and got too drunk to drive I was alone, with a slot machine, and an attentive waitress.

HooYeah I got lucky - which is why I kept saying yes to the cocktail waitress well past reaching my two drink and drive limit. Too bad I spent all the winnings on the motel room. I don't remember much; except the music was good, the machine kept vibrating and screaming, and Willie stared down and encouraged me again and again to make all my dreams come true.

Ah well, on with the battle.

The original:

The cover contender

Which story did you like better: Memphis Slim or the Roy Buchanan remake? And if you care to visit other BATTLE OF THE BANDS competitions, visit the link at my awesome sexting - er, texting pal  STMcC Presents, and my wino pal Far Away Eyes. FAE has been feeling poorly of late, so be sure to stop by and leave her some blogger smiles.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


Today I have the exquisite pleasure of hosting everyone's favorite cocoa-nut Mark Koopmans and his debut biography REVIVAL; The David Braswell Story.

Mark Koopmans is originally from Ireland. After working in Holland, Spain, France and England, he won his U.S. “Green Card” in 1994, and is an American by choice since 2003. Koopmans began his writing career with a feature for a regional magazine in California. Since then, he’s worked as a staff writer for newspapers in Florida and Texas. Koopmans is also a proficient blogger and is working on his next book, a novel. Koopmans lives in Virginia and is a married, stay-at-home dad to three active boys under the age of nine. He writes at night.Visit his blog here.


Continuing the second week of the REVIVAL – The Donald Braswell Story Tour, Donna is my host and I bow down in humble gratitude, dearest Donna!

She wants to know the history of the title, and how I came up with “REVIVAL.”

Simplest explanation is to head down the Webster rabbit hole (and yes, I got distracted by the Monster of the Day feature, and now I know way too much about the Chupacabra!)

There’s several definitions to “Revival," but the two that struck me were the musically related one (a period in which an old play becomes popular again...) and the Christian “revival” (a period of renewed religious interest.)

Once I realized the significance—and connection—of this one word with Donald’s inspirational journey, I knew I’d found the winner.

Time wise, I came up with the title in about five minutes (the benefits of working as a beat reporter under a daily deadline) but then had to sit on it for years while I wrote the book and waited for last week’s official launch.

I did have to laugh then, a couple of months ago, when a certain blockbuster author (I won’t take The Stand or complain about IT) released his latest novel. It’s called “Revival.” Of course it is.

Really, Stephen. Really?

Thanks again Donna, for being so kind in hosting me today. I really appreciate it - and you!

Tomorrow, I’m heading over to spend time with Sir David Powers King, who's curious about the book's timeline.

Donald Braswell II is an American actor, classical crossover tenor and composer. Braswell was on a fast track to become an internationally acclaimed opera singer when he suffered a car accident in 1995 that made him unable to speak for almost two years. After that, he lived a quiet life outside of the spotlight until his appearance on the 2008 season of America’s Got Talent where he was a Top 5 finalist, which gave him another chance at a career in entertainment. Since then, he has entertained audiences both internationally as well as shore to shore in the United States in concerts, television appearances, inspirational speaking and radio. He boasts an international fan club with fans from over 25 countries.

Braswell has reentered the world of music by singing in concerts starting with the Symphony of the Hills in Kerrville, Texas in June 2009. He performs a variety of musical genres ranging from pure classical repertoire to soul to mainstream pop. He engages people of many cultures by singing in various languages outside of English, including Spanish, Italian, Neapolitan, French and Russian. His concerts are generally multilingual, and he has performed pieces that are themselves in more than one language.

Some of these include: Mario Frangoulis bilingual version of “Nights in White Satin” (Italian title “Notte di luce”), originally by The Moody Blues; “The Prayer”; and Andrea Bocelli’s “Vivere” (English title “Dare to Live”). His other non-English repertoire includes Aqustin Lara’s “Rosa” (Spanish),Mario Frangoulis’s “VincerĂ², perderĂ²” (Italian) and the Neapolitan standard “O sole mio”.

Some of his many compositions can be heard on his recent album We Fall and We Rise Again.

Donald is a testament to the powers of the human spirit in difficult times and he inspires all who come to know him. Find him at

The book
Title: REVIVAL - The Donald Braswell Story
Subtitle: How a Tenor Lost his Voice, but Found his Calling
Authors: Donald Braswell with Mark Koopmans
Category: Non-fiction
Genres: Memoir, Biography, Inspirational
Publisher: Pen-L Publishing
Length: 236 pages
Release Date: November 03, 2015

Pitch: From Juilliard to jumper cables; from wasting all the talent in the world to America’s Got Talent, this is the story of the Texas opera singer who lost his voice - but found his calling.

Five years removed from his 1990 Juilliard graduation, Donald Braswell is set to be “the next Pavarotti.” Braswell’s successful career ends, however, not with a standing ovation at Carnegie Hall, but alone, lying in a dirty ditch. Following the hit-and-run accident that steals his voice and future, the “Texas Tenor” struggles with depression and despair - until the night his daughter, Aria, is born. Understanding this new and immediate life change, Braswell fights to relearn how to speak, sing -and share this gift of second chances with others.

Working as a plasterer, a car salesman, and many jobs in-between, it takes thirteen years - and a musical miracle - for Braswell to battle back and sing on a professional stage. His dreams and ambitions collide with a tired and angry crowd when he auditions for America’s Got Talent. For his family, his faith and his entire future, can the Rocky Balboa of the operatic world find the courage and strength to win just one more fight?

click here to read a free chapter

purchase links
Amazon US
Pen L Publishing
Barnes and Noble

● GRAND PRIZE (2 winners): Donald Braswell to sing (Happy Birthday/Anniversary) via Skype or phone call. (A unique gift idea!)
● 1ST PLACE PRIZE: Signed Donald Braswell CD/REVIVAL book combo
● 2nd, 3rd and 4th PLACE PRIZES: Signed copies of REVIVAL (by Donald and Mark)
● 5th, 6th and 7th PLACE PRIZES: Signed copies of Donald Braswell CDs
● 8th, 9th, and 10th PLACE PRIZES: Signed Donald Braswell 8x10 picture
EMBED CODE: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

IWSG: reviews

Ok, its late, like after 11 pm pacific time, and I'm just starting my post. Years ago we (military) cared about Zulu time, but now the only time that matters is Eastern US. So yeah, I'm writing/editing/posting late - blogger time. Or early, if you're across the pond. I prefer late, as I'm always late. My sister says I'd be late for my own funeral . .  yada yada. Whatever.

I missed the IWSG anthology deadline; couldn't get up to word count. Dumped the damn thing three times before 3,000 words, when the self editor said the story line was not flowing well. Thank you, but . .

At least I can move on to other projects now the deadline has passed. A much anticipated beta read, a book to read for review, several overdue book reviews. Yes, I enjoy writing/publishing reviews, and hosting author on the blog; but don't enjoy the review/survey in other aspects of my life.

You book a room, log onto a sales site, purchase a product, access some information, pay a bill, check your account balance. The email is instantly there: Your opinion is important to us, please fill out this survey and tell us about your experience. If you did not have a 10 star rating someone will be fired, but give us your honest feedback.

Sometimes I'm ashamed of myself in this opinionated world. I don't feel the person/service/product met my expectations, but I'm not sure if that is my unreasonable expectations, or the limitations on the product/service. I certainly don't want to be responsible if someone keeps their job or not, especially based on my mood at the time of purchase/usage. Hello, I'm human. I've also been on the other end of the survey where the customer wants something the company does not produce, but as the rep I'm the bad guy for not satisfying the customer! Can you say survey frustration; regardless if you are consumer or product rep?

My Insecure Writers Support Group post this month is about the REVIEW/SURVEY SYSTEM. All those policies and rules, and sometimes bullying, for an opinion. On EVERYTHING.  Now, many of you know (if you've followed me for a while, long before this particular blog incarnation) that I write reviews for the books I read. I understand how much effort the author put into the writing and development of the characters/setting/plot; but as a reader of a finished, published product, I'm entitled to my opinion. If I care to share it publicly.

Recently I read three books from author/bloggers specifically for review. Yeah, I bought each of the books cuz I wanted to review (familiar with the authors) and I did not want to add the disclaimer "I was given this novel in exchange for an honest review." Amazon is getting weird about published reviews when the reviewer  is friends with the author, and I am acquainted with a lot of inde/self pubbed authors. The blogs, ya know?!?

I understand the policy Amazon has adopted that they don't want to publish reviews by persons "acquainted" with the author, whether the review is positive or negative. I've seen enough blog posts where the author is upset by a review, especially by a review from a fellow blogger, and next thing you know there is a review war. Total abuse of the review system, if you want my opinion, but nothing that helps comes without its drawbacks. Sad but true, just how society is today.

Was this post a rant? Sorry. I guess my complaint is the obligation to review EVERYTHING. Sometimes I want to, other times the service wasn't worth the time or effort. But posting a bad/negative review takes courage. Its the bullying concept. Say you don't like something and you are subject to harsh response and ridicule; say you liked it and you're scrutinized as currying favorites.


This post is part of the Insecure Writers Support Group. Please visit the linky for IWSG at your host/founder Alex J Cavanaugh, and his helpers Tyrean Martinson, Karen Walker, Denise Covey, and Stephen Tremp. Our Ninja Captain is still looking for co-hosts for December and January, so if you are looking for some blog excitement, be sure to let the Captain know at his blog.

And good luck to all the NaNoWriMo participants. I can barely produce 1k a month, so I have not signed up, but I applaud all those brave writers that have made the commitment. Remember, its all about the word count, so shut down that internal editor and JUST WRITE IT.