Archive for September, 2013

The Last to Be Forgiven

Friday, September 27th, 2013

Guest Author: Laurie Alice Eakes

writing -- laurie 009All my life, I have heard a lot about forgiving others. Forgive my big sister for teasing me. Forgive that teacher who blamed me for something I didn’t do, forgive my mom for not always being the understanding parent we think our friends’ parents are. Never did I hear about forgiving myself.

I was well past the age considered adulthood before the concept of self-forgiveness sank in. By this time, I had suffered a great deal of emotional and physical pain from the residual effects of self-unforgiveness—I’m bad; therefore, I deserve this. I don’t deserve more.

Since I am a novelist, I knew this was a theme I wanted to explore through the lives of my characters. Although I didn’t set out the concept of forgiving oneself to be the theme of the Midwives series, it happened, grew, and taught me even more about it than I had already learned. As each of the three stories with midwives as the main characters (and that is a wholly different subject of girl power in history) Choices of the Heart, the third book in the series, though a stand-alone on its own merit, grew from this Choices of the Heart A Novelexploration of self-forgiveness and how we don’t have to go it alone. I took a young woman who seemingly had it all—a loving family, comfort, if not wealth, and not only extraordinary good looks, but kindness and a profession at which she was proving an apt practitioner.

Out of this self-confidence, however, is born a young woman who begins to think she is above simple rules like listening to those who are older and wiser. She is, after all, not a child, but an adult at twenty-four.

Her actions are well meaning. She thinks she is doing her due diligence to her pregnant patient, as a midwife. But her parents have warned her not to go to the woman’s house alone. Esther does anyway—and tragedy ensues. Several lives, including Esther’s are ruined.

The book opens four months after the incident. Once again, Esther, with good intentions, takes a step that leads her into danger to her person and her heart. She must make many choices. The wrong ones could see history repeating itself with many lives lost. The right ones can change numerous lives for the better, including her own. And at the root of the events tragic and happy lies the theme of self-forgiveness and the horror that stems from not releasing the past.

Browse, “Choices of the Heart” at

Choices of the Heart A Novel (USA) (UK) (JAPAN)

About Author:

“Eakes has a charming way of making her novels come to life without being over the top,” writes Romantic times of bestselling, award-winning author Laurie Alice Eakes. Since she lay in bed as a child telling herself stories, she has fulfilled her dream of becoming a published author, with nearly twenty books in print and more on the way. Besides writing, she enjoys giving inspirational talks, long walks, and knitting albeit badly. She lives in Texas with her husband and sundry animals.

You can read more about Choices of the Heart and her other books, including excerpts, on her web site


How I Came to Write, “The Vanishing Game”

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

Guest Author: Kate Kae Myers

Kate Kae MyersWriting The Vanishing Game was fascinating, fun, and a little bit crazy—which really describes how most of my books come together. It started when my main character, Jocelyn, kept waking me early in the morning to tell me what was happening in her life. Being involved in another writing project at the time, I tried to ignore her, but she had such a strong voice I finally started getting up early and heading to the computer in my pajamas. Soon, I put aside everything else and started telling her story about following clues left by her twin brother Jack, who supposedly died three weeks beThe Vanishing Gamefore.

In this novel, Jocelyn becomes obsessed with finding out the truth of what happened to Jack. This means going back to the eerie foster home where they lived five years ago, and also getting their childhood friend, Noah, to help her solve the clues. Along the way, the reader will ask: Is Jack alive? Or if he’s dead, then who’s leaving the clues? I asked the same thing when I was writing this story, which ends up having lots of twists. The conclusion seems to surprise almost everyone—it certainly did me!

The Vanishing Game, my first young adult novel, was published by Bloomsbury in 2012. It was named a YALSA Best Pick by the American Library Association and will be released in paperback this fall, along with the French translation. It’s also been contracted for translation into German and Chinese.

Browse the book, ” The Vanishing Game” at

The Vanishing Game (USA)

About Author:

Kate Kae Myers has spent a lot of time working with young people, since for twenty years she’s been a sign language interpreter for mainstreamed deaf children in the public school system. Becoming a young adult author has been a lifetime dream that she’s had since 5th grade. She just finished final revisions on her second novel for Bloomsbury (title still in transition) which will hit the shelves this coming spring.

You can find out more about Kate, and read the first chapter of The Vanishing Game, by visiting her at:

Happy Birthday, Stephen King!

Friday, September 20th, 2013

Author: Sherry Helms

Stephen_King,_ComiconTomorrow, September 21, is the 66th birthday of one of the most prolific authors of horror and suspense bestsellers-Stephen Edwin King. He has much to commemorate this year considering the success of his amazing new novel, “Joyland” released on 4th June–the #1 New York Times Bestseller. And the Stephen’s long awaited sequel of “The Shining,” titled “Doctor Sleep” coming out this fall.

The author of more than fifty books, including seven under pseudonym Richard Bechman, has inspired many budding and established writers. For over four decades, Mr. King has been providing us some of the most bone chilling and gut wrenching novels. Moreover, his books have also offered groundwork for several truly great movies.  His masterpiece comprises Under the Dome, now a major TV miniseries on CBS. He has been the Recipient of many awards including Bram Stoker Award, World Fantasy award for Life Achievement and Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American letters.

JoylandWhen king was three years old, his father-a sea merchant- abandoned his family under the lie of “going to buy a pack of cigarettes”. After that his mother took him and his adopted brother David to Stratford but the family came back to their home town of Durham, Maine after a few years.

King’s writing career began when he started writing articles for his brother’s local newspaper-Dave’s Rag- although his first success as a  writer came with a novel, Carrie, in 1973 which was accepted by American publishing company Doubleday. This was a bittersweet revenge story of a teenage girl with psyche powers.

However, soon after the release of this book, King’s mother Carriedied due to uterine cancer. After his mother’s death, he and his family shifted to Colorado, where King penned down “The Shining“.  In 1975, King and his family returned to Maine where he finished his fourth book The Stand. Later, King admitted On Writing that he struggled with severe drinking and drug problems during the 1980s, confessing that he was intoxicated on his mother’s funeral.

During 1970s, King embarked on writing a series of interconnected stories. The collection of these stories is known as The Dark Tower Stories that is believed to be his magnum opus. The Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine first published this collection in five yearly iThe Shiningnstallments starting from 1977 to 1981. With the groundbreaking success of his first novel- The Gunslinger- in the Dark Tower Series, King found himself at the top of the fantasy and horror fiction authors. He earned a huge success in his literary career that allowed him to become one of the wealthiest authors in the world. The largest part of his earning has come flowed from the royalties of his books that have sold over 350 million copies.

It has been believed that the gruesome accident that took place during his childhood with his friend, who was being hit by a train, could have been the ground of his dark and gripping creations, though king himself dismisses the idea. His early novels like The Shining, Carrie, and Night Shift focused on lower-class families struggling from minimum wage works: the late 80s work moved a little higher from working class people to middle-class people like doctors, authors and teachers; his late 90s work involved upper-class people who can easily afford a second home. All throughout, this ex-teacher from Maine with his inspiring and terrific novels has left an indelible mark upon the culture around him both highbrow and lowbrow.

Following are his major published works until now:



Salem’s Lot The Shining The Stand
The Dead Zone


Firestarter Cujo Christine
Pet Sematary


Cycle of the Werewolf The Talisman It
The Eyes of the Dragon


Misery The Tommyknockers The Dark Half
Needful Things


Gerald’s Game Dolores Claiborne Insomnia
Rose Madder


The Green Mile Desperation Bag of Bones
The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon


Dreamcatcher Black House From a Buick 8
The Colorado Kid


Cell Lisey’s Story Duma Key
Under the Dome Blockade Billy 11/22/1963 Joyland

Tell us in comment about your favorite Stephen King novel (and why).

The Soul Mate Myth: A 3-Step Plan for Finding Real Love

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

Guest Author: Jean Cirillo, Ph.D

F_JeanCirillo_165My program involves three basic steps:

1) Examining your present situation to see where your fantasy expectations have gotten you,

2) Grieving for the mythic man that never existed, much as you would grieve the loss of a real relationship, and

3) Re-programming your brain and emotions to pursue healthy realistic relationships.

The idea that you can find your perfect match is a lie; because, even if there was such a thing as your “twin flame” where is the evidence that you could meet him in this lifetime? Why should he live in the same country, speak the same language, or ever be in a position to meet you?  And even if the two of you did meet and hit it off, where is the evidence that you would continue to grow together, in the same direction, at the same rate?  Clearly, there is none.

Fairy tales would never be so popular if they only addressed the fantasies of little kids. Remember they are written for children by adults, created from universal fantasies of a perfect life, ideal love, and happily ever after.

The book takes one gently through the stages from ridding oneself of The Soul Mate Mythunrealistic expectations toward replacing them with realistic ones. For example, a common unrealistic expectation is that one’s partner should enjoy many or all of the same activities. His need for sports and her need for shopping can easily be satisfied by other friends or family members. As far as more difficult expectations which usually center around characteristics such as financial status, physical traits, or ethnic background, we explore the gains and losses associated with holding onto these demands. Often we find that they represent personal needs that have little to do with our partner and can be satisfied in other ways.

The top three things to look for when considering if a man is worth loving for a lifetime are the following:

1) Similar values and long-term goals. Do you and your partner share similar attitudes about family, children, religion, friends, fidelity, work, money, and so on?  These basic attitudes need to be discussed, and any differences resolved before any long-term commitment.

2) How well do the two of you deal with difficult times?  Have you been together when one of you were going through crisis such as a job loss or illness.  It is important to determine if he will be helpful in a bad situation, or simply add more stress.

3) Does your relationship have the capacity for forgiveness? Can you still love and respect one another even when you are angry?

Through years of clinical practice and life experience, I’ve found that if a man comes out positive on the above three questions, he is someone who loves you for who you really are and not because you fulfill some momentary need or fantasy. It means you have chosen wisely, from a clear mind not a blurred fantasy.

I am often asked why it is so hard to find real love. People seem so mystified by the issue when it pertains to love. Few of us ask why it’s so hard to find real money, or a real house, or a fulfilling career for that matter.  The obvious answer is that it takes time, effort and commitment to find anything highly desirable. Only the fantasy soul mate myth has caused people to believe that real love “just happens”.

Additional tips for visitors:

 1) Just as real love requires work to get, it requires work to keep.  Just as you work to advance your career, or maintain your house, you must work to keep the love alive. 

2) Other than yourself, your partner should be the most important person in your life. If you really feel this, doing things for him should be pleasurable. An investment in your partner is an investment in yourself.

3) The romantic phase of your relationship (obsessive thoughts, constant sexual desire) will naturally die down in about 18 months. We would all be exhausted if that didn’t happen. That does not mean you have fallen out of love. It is the deeper form of attachment that indicates that this man has gone from being Mr. Right Now to Mr. Right. And this Mr. Right exists in reality once you overcome The Soul Mate Myth.

Browse the  Book, ” The Soul Mate Myth” at

The Soul Mate Myth (USA) (UK) (JAPAN)

About Author:

Dr. Jean Cirillo is a practicing psychologist in New York. She has been seen on hundreds of national talk shows, both as expert guest and staff psychologist. Her areas of expertise include relationships, women’s issues, addictive behaviors, and violence prevention. To find more about Jean, visit her website

Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation, and GPS Technology

Friday, September 13th, 2013

Guest Author: Caroline Paul

carolinetibbyYou’re looking at the cover of Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation, and GPS Technology. It is an illustrated book so you wonder if it’s for kids, but then you read the back and realize that it isn’t A lost kitty!, you think, tearing up a little if you’re a cat person. If you are not a cat person – if you are, say, a dog person, or not an animal person at all – you think Lost cat, harrumph. Then you think of all your friends who love cats, and you realize you have always been curious about that love. I mean cats! Inscrutable creatures, aren’t they? Too independent, with no knack for fetch, and so picky about food.  So what is that about, all this cat love? You like and admire these friends, but this baffles you about them. You pick up the book (go ahead, pick it up) and skim the pages. Good grief! There are illustrations on almost every page. Now that is a book you can get behind, a book that will be a fast read and, judging from the text, sort of funny. You read a few sentences. Pretty hella funny, actually.

Here is where you, the cat lover, read even further. You see yourself in this book. Seems the story revolves around figuring out a cat’s secret life. You too have wondered where the heck your cat goes, and what he does, when you’re not around. You have not admitted this to people, at least not to people who don’t own cats. What?? The author and illustrator of this book put GPS on their cat’s collar? And a cat camera? And consulted a psychic? And pet detectives? You don’t just want to read these strange women’s work, you want to be their Facebook friends.

Whoa, says you, the dog/non-animal person. These folks are crazy! But you likeLost Cat_cat crazy. You secretly believe your cat friends are crazy, and here is a book you could give them, so they realize it too! You skim a few more pages. You realize, wait a minute. This isn’t just a cat book. It’s also about humans. Lost humans, judging from the narrator’s wonky, self-deprecating tone. You read a few more pages (it’s a quick read, remember, so the pages just spin by) and you see, yes, this is a book about relationships, and the heartbreak implicit in love. It is about the lengths we go for connection. Sure, the author and illustrator stalk their cat. But they’re also stalking universal issues. Love. Loss. Trust. Faith. You tell yourself, I am buying this. Because even though it is a cat book and you are not a cat person (you’ve said this, yes, a few times) you realize that the book speaks to you. Love has driven you crazy too, after all. Pretty darn crazy, you admit. So you will give this to your cat friends, but you’ll sneak a whole read before you gift wrap it.

You see someone else in line with the book in hand and you drop in behind.

It’s you, the cat person. Your pants are covered in cat hair and when you pull the money out of your pocket a cat toy flies across the room, and your money is crumpled and smells like cat treats. There is a far off scream as someone mistakes the toy for a real mouse. The person in line behind you glances your way, looks a little uncomfortable, but then smiles. Both of you are buying a book, the same book, this book called Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation, and GPS Technology, and it confirms a beautiful truth for you: that the world is full of wonderful, lovely, crazy cat lovers who read. With the book firmly in hand, both of you nod at each other one last time and head for home.

Author Bio: Caroline Paul is the author the memoir, Fighting Fire and the novel East Wind, Rain. Her latest book is Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation, and GPS Technology, illustrated by her partner, Wendy MacNaughton.

8 Outlandish Yet Stimulating Book Covers

Friday, September 6th, 2013

Author: Sherry Helms

Don’t judge a book by its cover,” sometimes a book cover is so attractive that it transforms our mind. You are in a bookstore, browsing leisurely through the shelves, don’t know what to purchase next, and suddenly a book cover catches your attention- it’s a book you’ve never heard of but you decide to give it a try. In this post, we have shortlisted a few books that have pretty amazing covers and at the same time have powerful themes.

So, feast your eyes on these extraordinary yet thought-provoking cover designs: 

Black Code by Ron Deibert

Black Code

This book cover for Ron Deibert’s Black Code glows in the dark. The snazzy cover design was inspired by Lite Brite, which will definitely catch the attention of observant eyes. Published in May, 2013, The Black Code keeps an in-depth look at the growing insecurity of internet users. 

When you read this book late at night in bed, you can’t put it down because it will glow…See how it looks in dark…

black code

The Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus

The Flame Alphabet

This straightforward cover with perfectly placed type makes you want to gaze at it forever. Designed by Peter Mendelsund, the 3-D quality of The Flame Albhabet’s jacket is just making it a brilliant book cover art. Written by boldly imaginative author-Ben Markus, this rhapsodic apocalyptic novel examines the power of language in a new way.  Laden with metaphor, this dystopian novel is like reading in a dream.

 Smut Stories by Alan Bennett

Smut stories

A beautiful and witty book cover is designed by Henry Sene Yee. Creative use of lifeless things in this book cover might compel you to pick up this book. In this attention-grabbing book, the master storyteller- Alan Bennett explores the tragicomic gap between the people’s real and apparently common lives in two marvelous stories.

 Monstrous Affections by David NickleMonstrous Affections

The creepy and jarring cover of Monstrous Affections may hold your attention at a very first glance. The grotesque  cover was designed  by Erik Mohr. Like its cover, the stories in this book are also scary, drawing you into the cold remnants of Canadian rural town and shows you the blue pulsing intestines of those worlds. The stark cover of book may at first horrify you and then compel you to pick it up off the shelves.

Sweet Bird of Youth  by Tennessee Williams:

Sweet Bird of Youth

John Gall has designed an outlandish book cover that trusts the reader’s intelligence. This engaging, bizarre book discloses the dark side of American dreams of youth. Based on hit Tennessee Williams’ one-act play, The Enemy Time, Sweet Bird of Youth perfectly depicts the social issues like injustice, racial discrimination and the painful outcomes of personal and public corruption.


Hawthorn & Child by Keith Ridgway

Hawthorn & Child

Designed by Tom Darracott, this book cover is simply weird and compelling. This novel or a series of short stories is about two London mid-ranking detectives- Hawthorn and Child and the people they encounter. Originally subtitled as ‘A Set of Misunderstandings’ on its publisher’s website, the novel starts with an unsolvable mystery, when a young man may possibly have been shot by a passing ghost car on a quiet north London street.

Building Stories by Chris Ware

building stories

The most wonderful thing about this book is that it is not a book. In actual, it is a packed box that seems like a board game. However, it does not contain game board but it is an amazing collection of 14 books. The American cartoonist Chris Ware evokes childhood memories of family game night through these painstakingly designed building stories. Importantly, there are no guidelines on how to read them; the parts of it can be read in any order.

 It looks like this when you open the box:



Wonder by R. J. Palacio:


Published in 2013, R. J. Palacio’s Wonder topped the New York Times bestseller list and shortlisted for Kate Greenway Book Award. Without having read a word, you’ll feel like you know the protagonist because of its simple yet effective book cover. Designed by Tad Carpenter, the cover of this book is minimal and completely unique. This amazing book cover does an outstanding job of telling the touching story of a 10-year-old-boy who born with a facial deformity. The book jacket really stands out that perfectly demonstrates the part of his face with an amazing use of text “Wonder” as part of the illustration.

What book have you bought because of its cover?

Guest Co-Author Margaret M. Poloma on ‘The Heart of Religion’

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

Guest Author: Margaret M. Poloma

Margaret - CopyRecent news accounts on the demise of religion have a familiar ring. As a graduate student in sociology in the 1960s, I was invited by a professor to study this ancient institution that was dying before our very eyes. I accepted the invitation and have spent decades researching religion with a particular interest in the experiential dimension of religion. I observed that mainline religion in the United States indeed was undergoing what my graduate school professor described as a “gathering storm.”  At the same time it became apparent that evangelical Protestantism (especially the Pentecostal sector) was thriving. Once again media accounts are reporting that American religion is in peril in the 21st century as church membership ages, fewer elect to wear denominational labels, and the very word “religion” is in trouble as believers and non-believers alike claim they are not “religious.” So is religion dying – or is it simply undergoing another metamorphosis?

In The Heart of Religion co-authors theologian Stephen G. PostThe heart of religion and sociologist Matthew T. Lee and I chose to focus not on the changing structure of religion but rather on the effects of perceived encounters with God on social attitudes and behavior.  The analysis of our empirical data supports the thesis that there is an important relationship between an experiential knowledge of God and benevolence. Love is at the heart of religion – personal experiences of the love of God and then giving that love away to others in benevolent service. Matt and I interviewed over 100 men and women from across America known for their good works, listened to their stories and developed an instrument for a national survey. The statistical results of the survey demonstrated that our prominent interviewees were not alone. Throughout America, people of all ages, races, and ethnicities enter into prayerful relationships with God that energize good works.

Prayer can be likened to breathing as a spiritual life force. Almost nine out of ten survey respondents claimed to pray.  Nearly all prayers engaged in devotional prayer with formally and informally constructed messages directed to God.  For a significant minority prayer was limited to a one-way conversation likened to “leaving messages to God on an answering machine” — messages that may or may not be answered. But for the clear majority God responded with personal loving affirmations, encouragement, and directions. These prophetic prayers claimed to experience a sense of divine empowerment – even direct instructions –leaving them somewhat more likely to reach out to the stranger in their communities or to those in need beyond America’s shores. And while almost all prayers talk to God and a majority dialogue with God, a significant minority (four out of ten) reported experiencing union with God.  These three forms of prayer – Devotional, Prophetic, and Mystical – apparently work together to bring prayers into deeper awareness of God’s love –divine love that they feel compelled to share. Just as different breathing techniques can be used to enhance physical goals, so too can varying prayer activities and experiences promote ongoing spiritual transformation, including an increased desire to help others.

Author Bio:

Margaret M. Poloma, Ph.D. (Professor Emerita; The University of Akron) has written extensively about religious experience in contemporary American society, including pioneering studies of prayer, Pentecostalism, contemporary revivals and divine healing. 

Her most recent work is a team effort that explores the dynamic process through which experiences of the divine contribute to a better understanding human benevolence. Major findings from this research are found in Matthew T. Lee, Margaret M. Poloma, and Stephen G. Post, The Heart of Religion:Spiritual Empowerment, Benevolence, and the Experience of God’s Love (Oxford University Press, 2013).

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