Sunday, December 28, 2014

$25 Amazon Giftcard #Giveaway and Book Review

I recently had the fine pleasure of reading Savage's Tracks in the Smoke. Here's what I thought:

I love a good mystery story and this detective novel fits the bill! The story features detective Nick Dante. He is a private-eye who is not exactly a people person, yet charming nonetheless. He “enjoys reading, doing the crossword, and sitting in a pub having a drink--or six”. His ex-military background makes him well-equipped to do his job--as inconsistent and unstable as his job might be.

Enter Felix, a sassy 22-year-old woman who looks like she should be the lead singer of a rock band. When she signs up to be his assistant, we get a great look at all her own potential to be a PI someday and her knack for keeping Dante in line. Though not a romance (thank god), I love the Nick-Felix dynamic and found their scenes to be my favorite. :)
So if you like British detective novels, irascible PIs with a dark past, and sassy sidekicks, this one is a quick, fun read for you!

As a debut author, I think Tom put out a quality first novel. You'd be lucky to win a free copy of the book by entering the giveaway below--but even better!--Tom is offering up a $25 giftcard to one lucky winner.

Good luck everyone! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Not Another Danger Boy: Happy Book Release to @DangerBoyOne

Releasing a sequel isn't easy. I should know! But author Dan Combs did just that here, with his newest title Not Another Danger Boy: The Sequel. A collection of autobiographical short stories centered on life-changing events might be exactly the kind of read you're looking for this holiday season. Better yet, he's a local Lansing author like myself! :)

To celebrate his release, here is a fun Q&A:

Q.        How would you describe this work to someone who’s never heard of it?
A.        A collection of autobiographical short stories centered on life-changing events: first skydiving lesson, first white water rafting expedition, first Olympics. You know, the fun stuff!

Q.        Who were your inspirations for this story?
A.        I don’t know if I was inspired as much as goaded. By a bunch of people. The ones who, after hearing me talk about some of the wilder happenings in my life would say, “You should write a book!”

Q.        Did you find the sequel harder or easier to write than the first installment?
A.        Much easier. By the time I sat down to write volume two, I’d gotten enough practice. My style was set, I’d had plenty of time to think about what stories would fit, that kind of thing.

Q.        Have you always been interested in writing this story or did you find this story accidentally?
A.        I can’t recall ever wanting to write memoirs. So I guess you could say they found me.

Q.        What about your story makes it unique?
A.        The fact that I’ve done so many different kinds of things. There aren’t many folks I know who jump out of planes for fun, compose music, write screenplays, and ride a unicycle.

Q.        Can we expect a sequel to the sequel or is this it for Danger Boy?
A.        I’m in the process of finishing volume three as we speak. That one ends with a reference to the title of the opening story in volume one, so I’m almost hoping the series cycles around and stops there. Although, if it becomes popular, I might have to do another one. And I haven’t quit being semi-crazy yet, so there’s more material being created all the time.

Q.        What can we expect to see from you soon?
A.        I do have an entirely different type of project in the pipeline. A creative non-fiction book based on my parents’ lives during the Second World War. They met while my dad was playing trumpet in my mom’s father’s bar in Jackson, Michigan. He was immediately drafted and they wrote letters back and forth for the duration. She had to finish high school, he went on to fight in both North Africa and at Normandy, was badly wounded and almost didn’t get home. Good stuff.

Q.        What is your favorite word?
A.        Obstreperous. I actually stole that as a favorite from a roommate back in the day.

Q.        What is your least favorite word?
A.        Prejudice. I grew up during a time when diversity was just beginning to be recognized as an asset. Sadly, there hasn’t been as much progress in that area as I would have hoped.

Q.        Who is your favorite author?
A.        William Gibson. I found Neuromancer shortly after it was first published. Knocked my teeth out.

Q.        If you could have any (but only one) super power, what would it be?
A.        Teleportation. I go through a lot of shoes!

Q.        If you could pick the brain of any writer/poet/artist from anywhere across space and time, who would it be and why?
A.        Thomas Pynchon. I consider myself and much of our current version of Western civilization a product of World War II. His take on that particular conflict in Gravity’s Rainbow has always fascinated me. I’d love to sit down and compare notes.

Q.        What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
A.        Conductor for a world-class orchestra. I got a taste of it in high school. I was elected Student Conductor for the spring concert a couple of times, and when our band director was out with a hernia for a few weeks, he assigned some of us to take over, running the band through songs we’d already learned. Then he sent in a new piece - one that we ended up playing at the annual state-wide band competition that year - and gave me the task of conducting it.

Q.        What profession would you not like to do?
A.        Anything retail. Customer service is not my thing.

Q.        If Dante’s Nine Circles of Hell existed, which circle would you be trapped in and why?

A.        If there’s a level where all you do is yard work, I’d be there. Hate it and avoid it at all costs. So, for the sin of feigning a bad back to get out of doing it, well…you get the picture.

Well there you have it folks! And show a little love, would you? He can be followed on Twitter, liked on Facebook, or stalked on Goodreads.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

What the *&^% is on your face? #beauty #health #wellness

One of my friends from college just recently took up a great cause. Not that I'm surprised. This amazing lady, that's Mick Teti-Beaudin to you ladies and gents, often champions heart-warming causes.

So I'd like to give a shout-out to her latest cause, Beautycounter with Mick. (Though how she has time for this endeavor in between rescuing all the animals and knitting adorable baby garments, I have no idea).

Beautycounter's mission? "Decades of studies indicate that serious health issues (including, but not limited to asthma, learning disabilities, cancer and infertility) are on the rise, and due in some part to our ongoing exposure to toxic chemicals—whether it's in the shower, on our commute, while we eat lunch at a local restaurant, or when we clean our kitchens at home. There are more than 80,000 chemicals on the market today. Many don't have any safety data. This is particularly true of those used in the skin care and beauty industry...The European Union has spent the past two decades banning or restricting more than 1,300 ingredients, the US has only banned 11 to date.

Read their full mission statement here.

I spent a great deal perusing their site and can vouch that they have an extensive line of bath and body products, as well as cosmetics.

As that fru fru hippie chick who already reads the ingredients on the back of all her shampoos and makes her own face moisturizer, I can totally get behind this. And I know that many of friends are also super concerned about what they put on their bodies. So if this is something that you are into, please hit up my friend Mick. She's a fab lady who will take good care of you.

Here is the link to Mick's beautycounter again: BAM!

Also, be sure to give her a like on Facebook while you're at it!

Monday, December 15, 2014

#Mondayblogs: I wrote 100+ posts this year! Now what? #amwriting

My very first attempt at blogging was back in 2012. I had a food blog (that didn't last long because it turned out I was more interested in eating than telling you guys about what I was eating).

I wrote about 5 posts on this blog in 2012. And only 13 posts in 2013. So when Jan 2014 rolled around, one of my resolutions was to write 100 posts this year! I thought that was an ambitious goal (especially considering how often I'd managed to blog before that) and I am happy to say that somehow I've reached that goal--with almost a month to spare!

My 100th post rolled in on December 5. Woo!

Anyway, so I took some time to review this year's stats and see what people liked most from the blog.

Here are the top three performing blog posts from the year:

Your Brain on Learning

How To Get Writing Done Despite the Hellishly Busy Holiday Season

Congrats @AngelaRoquet: Read the newest Lana Harvey Book

It seems as a whole you guys like inspiring, introspective stuff. You also enjoy giveaways and author spotlights.

But what am I missing?

Thinking ahead to 2015 and my new goals for the blog next year, what kind of posts would you like to see? I'd love to improve my content, with the hopes of getting better and better each year. So tell me what you like to read about. What inspires you? What helps you along? Or simply, what do you enjoy?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Ho Ho Ho: 80+ Books & Prizes #Giveaway #IndieBooksBeSeen

I was invited to join this super fun indie book giveaway just in time for Xmas.

Click here to enter giveaway.

As you can see, it's already generated great deal of interest and I'm thrilled to offer up signed copies of both Dying for a Living and Dying by the Hour as two of the 80+prizes!

So if you support indie writers or if you simply want the chance to win a bunch of cool stuff, then you should enter while their is still time. :)

Happy Holidays everyone! :)


Friday, December 5, 2014

My 100th post! There are #feelings and then there are #FEELINGS #knowthyself

As an INFJ (sometimes I'm an INTJ--depends upon the quiz), I make a good deal of my decisions based on my feelings. But I've come to realize that there is a difference between a feeling and a FEELING.

Let me clarify:

A feeling is an emotion. A reactive response to some sort of external stimuli. Someone did or said something and you felt <insert emotion here>. Emotions can be wild and unpredictable and are best tempered with intellect and observation. Instead of letting your "feelings" or emotions rule you, try to look at the situation from a distance in order to limit reactivity and to keep emotions in check.

These feelings are different than FEELINGS. A FEELING is a "instinctive or intuitive feeling as distinguished from reasoning or knowledge." It's an instinct or gut-feeling. Nothing really happened. Nothing was really said or done. But you just have a FEELING about a person or situation. Usually there is no logic or evidence to support your FEELING (not at the time anyway). But it is a FEELING nonetheless.

My problem comes in where I confuse feelings with FEELINGS. For me, feelings cannot be trusted. They are reactive, prideful, and usually deeply connected to my ego. They are usually wrong. And not "wrong" in a judgmental sense. I am willing to honor and accept my emotions. I just think jumping at their every whim is a bad idea. Being reactive is a bad idea.

FEELINGS however are almost the opposite. I am usually hesitant to trust my FEELINGS even though they are almost always right. They are by far more reliable than my emotions/lower case 'feelings', and yet I question them and scrutinize them far more than I do my emotions.

Why is that?

I don't have a clear answer . But I certainly hope that with time and enough self-awareness, I will change this. I hope eventually my feelings/emotions will receive the majority of my scrutiny and my FEELINGS will be set free to steer me in the right direction--as they've always done.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Where is the lesson in that? #perseverance #cuteowls #writerproblems

Maybe it is just how my mind works, but when I see movies or videos or hear stories, I usually look for the "message" inside it. I try to find the meaning or how it is applicable to my life.

And that is how I felt when I saw this video of the owl above. If the internet buzz is to be believed, this owl was forced out of the sky by two falcons and it fell into the lake, where it proceeded to make it to shore for a bit of a rest before flying away.

Here is another cute video of the owl resting on the beach.

I think these two videos say a lot.

1) That everyone is going to get "knocked from the sky" at some time or another.
2) When you do get knocked down, don't panic and drown. Use the skills (wings) you already have to get yourself to a better place. Even if you have no faith that you are capable of doing so (maybe this owl had no idea (s)he could swim!) You may surprise yourself.
3) Don't be afraid to give yourself a rest from your ordeal before getting back out there. (Because apparently bird rescue was called, but the owl flew away before they arrived).

Seeing events like this occur in nature remind me how "natural" this whole process of "get knocked down. Recover. Get up again" really is.

So let's not be too hard on ourselves shall we?