Painting on the Canvas of Your Life

21 10 2014

I’ve been reading Panache Desai’s Discovering Your Soul Signature and wanted to share one of the meditations from the book:

Imagine that your life can be portrayed on a canvas….When you look at this canvas, you’ll see see everything that’s been placed there. And most of it doesn’t originate from you…. As you’ve moved on through life, external labels have been superimposed on the canvas…. People have told us who we are, and this fills the canvas too.

Now start pulling off those labels…. Peel away those limitations. Remove all of those different words that are getting in the way of being a blank canvas…. As you do this, experience the freedom (or perhaps the terror) of the blank canvas.

When an artist approaches a blank canvas, all that is possible is a single brushstroke at a time….
What splashes, splatters, or messes did you erase?

Now what will YOU choose to paint?
soul signature

(excerpt taken from p. 179-180, 182)





Domestic Violence Victim Speaks Out

9 10 2014

For more information:Advance Praise for Almost President, by Scott Farris
Jessica DeFranco
203/458-4646
jdefranco <at> rowman <dot> com

 

Domestic Violence Victim Speaks Out

Former abuse victim Alexis Moore helps abuse and cybercrime victims.
Now she shares her secrets in her book Cyber Self-Defense.

To tweet this news, copy and paste: http://bit.ly/1rjG05m to Twitter with #noexcuseforabuse

Everyone wonders why Janay Rice didn’t just leave. Alexis Moore, a former abuse and cyberstalking victim has the answer. “Deep inside many victims blame themselves for the violence, and leaving is no guarantee the abuser won’t track you down and kill you,” says Moore, who endured a nightmare life before founding Survivors in Action (SIA) to help other abuse victims who, like her, often found little help from domestic violence organizations.

Every day Moore is contacted by hundreds of people who need help, but many people are afraid to reach out for help. Concerned about these victims, Moore has written a book that she hopes will help people break free from the cycle of abuse.

Cyber Self-Defense, co-written with Laurie J. Edwards explains how to:

Cyber Self Defense book cover

Cyber Self-Defense

⦁    identify possible abusers before getting into relationships

⦁    safely leave bad relationships

⦁    effectively stop cyberbullying, cyberstalking, stalking and other forms of abuse that often occur after leaving

⦁    recover emotionally and financially after being attacked

⦁    combat embarrassing leaks of personal information

⦁    restore a damaged reputation

⦁    protect yourself online

Many abuse victims suffer from PTSD, low self-esteem, and suicidal thoughts. Moore herself even reached the point of suicide, so she understands the emotional pain people face. Cyber Self-Defense offers many techniques for healing the devastating psychological wounds of abuse.

All of the case studies in the book come from Moore’s years as a victim advocate with Survivors In Action. She has helped many victims escape from seemingly impossible situations. Those stories are recounted in Cyber Self-Defense to give people hope that they, too, can break free from even the worst forms of abuse.

Moore’s poignant story has been told on Stalked: Someone’s Watching, and she frequently appears on news programs to offer helpful advice to domestic abuse victims. Her advice has been packaged in an easy-to-read form in Cyber Self-Defense: Expert Advice to Avoid Online Predators, Identity Theft, and Cyberbullying, which she hopes will help the millions who are trapped in this cycle and see no way out.

The book’s publisher, Rowman & Littlefield/Lyon’s Press, released Cyber Self-Defense in October because the Department of Homeland Security has named this month National Cyber Security Awareness Month to increase the public’s understanding of basic cybersecurity practices.

Cyber Self-Defense is packed with information to help businesses, individuals, schools, and organizations who need up-to-date information on preventing cybercrime, cyberharassment, and cyberbullying.

REVIEW COPIES AND INTERVIEWS AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

###


For review copies and interviews:
Jessica DeFranco
Rowman & Littlefield
203/458-4646

jdefranco <at> rowman <dot> com

About Alexis Moore

Alexis Moore is the founder and president of Survivors in Action and collaborator with state and federal legislators worldwide for Internet legislation. She is considered a lead pundit on cybercrime and has appeared on CNN, Fox, Headline News, and Good Morning America.

About Laurie J. Edwards

Laurie J. Edwards, a freelance author and editor for more than twenty years, has an MA and post-grad training in creative and emotional recovery techniques. She speaks at school, libraries, and conferences around the country.

About Survivors In Action

Survivors In Action (SIA) is a non-profit, all-volunteer victim-advocacy organization based in the United States.

Praise for Alexis Moore:

“Alexis you have singlehandedly changed the landscape for women (and men) survivors and I couldn’t be prouder!” ~Linda Lowen, writer, journalist, radio host, and 2009 Recipient of the EMMA award

“Ms. Moore is dedicated and works diligently to assist in changing legislation. Her commitment to helping victims of crime and her expertise in Internet crimes will be helpful as criminals are increasingly using electronics to monitor and stalk their victims.” ~Betsy Ramsey, author of Stop the Stalker: A Guide for Targets





Feeling Overwhelmed by Life?

2 10 2014

Sometimes when problems pile up, it’s easy to get discouraged. Here’s one family’s refreshing way of teaching their daughter to never quit, never say can’t. It’s amazing what someone with a “can-do” attitude is able to accomplish. After watching this, you’ll never look at your problems in the same way again. And often, life has even greater surprises in store.





Turning History into Stories

1 10 2014

BRD CoverI’m honored to have award-winning historical fiction writer Bobbi Miller as my guest today. She and I have several connections that make this a special opportunity for me. We’re both graduates of Vermont College (yay!) and both are historical fiction writers. My most recent release, Grace and the Guiltless, was set in the Wild West, so Bobbi’s talk of the frontier is close to my heart.

Bobbi’s latest book is set in Gettysburg, and I lived a short distance from there when I was in high school. We’re both also busy with the booksignings, school visits, and conference talks that go along with our 2014 book releases, so I’m extremely grateful that she found time to write such an inspiring post.

So here’s Bobbie’s wonderful advice on using history to create stories:

Growing up in the American West, I was surrounded with the bigness of everything: big sky, big mountains, epic stories about larger than life individuals. I’m also a longtime student of American history. The Frontier is one of the most significant events in American history. It marked the edge of the civilized world. Beyond that edge was the rough and tumble place full of outlaws and pirates, fanciful and alien creatures, rivers of gold and prairie seas. It was a place and life full of possible imaginations, a near incomprehensible vastness of landscape, extraordinary fertility of the land and a variety of natural “peculiarities” that inspired a humor of extravagance and exaggeration. The frontier is ripe with stories. And what intrigued me the most were the stories about the little known or the forgotten or the unexpected.

A good story makes history personal. History isn’t dull or dry, as textbooks would have us believe. It isn’t a list of dates and names, like a shopping list that no one remembers once the task is complete. History is real and relevant. The study of history, in essence, is a way of making sense of the present. As David McCullough once said, in one of my favorite quotes, “We are raising a generation of young Americans who are by-and-large historically illiterate. [But] there is literature in history.”  History enlarges our understanding of the human experience, suggests Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, and as such, it needs to include the “stories that dismay as well as inspire.”

And there is no more powerful story to tell than that of the American Civil War.GIRLS

As I was researching another book, I came across a small newspaper article dated from 1863. It told of a Union soldier on burial duty, following the Battle at Gettysburg, coming upon a shocking find: the body of a female Confederate soldier. It was shocking because she was disguised as a boy. At the time, everyone believed that girls were not strong enough to do any soldiering; they were too weak, too pure, too pious to be around roughhousing boys. It was against the law for girls to enlist. This girl carried no papers, so he could not identify her. She was buried in an unmarked grave. A Union general noted her presence at the bottom of his report, stating “one female (private) in rebel uniform.” The note became her epitaph. I decided I was going to write her story.

Researching this story was a daunting task because no other battle has been studied so thoroughly. I read A LOT to get these facts right. But then, there’s the emotional truth, the story behind the facts. This is the heart that belongs to Annie’s story. Historical fiction makes the facts matter to the reader. For me, the only way to discover this emotional truth was to walk the battlefield of Gettysburg, and witness that landscape where my characters lived over one hundred and fifty years ago. I walked the battlefield and talked to re-enactors and the park rangers.

I studied with the master storyteller Eric Kimmel while a graduate student at Simmons College. That tutelage continued while I was a student at VCFA, when he became my advisor. He remains to this day my Master Guru, as I call him. And, I am so very lucky and honored to call him one of my best personal friends. Likewise, I studied with Marion Dane Bauer, whose stories remain some of my all-time favorites, and I couldn’t have asked for a better teacher to show me how to find the heart of a character, or the soul of a story. The key to writing Girls of Gettysburg was finding the soul and voice to each of my three main characters.

As I began to piece the story together, I took notes. I am a great fan of purple and pink post-its. I also like anything neon colored! I outlined everything. I wrote my first drafts in longhand. I find the relationship between pen and paper much more intimate, and demands me to go deeper into the character. Then, I transferred the story to the computer. But even as I edited the manuscript, I had to print the story out, and work with pen and paper again. I use recycled paper, to be sure!

But as we know, stories tend to be organic, and sometimes outlines, research, and all the “great plans of mice and men” need to be tossed as characters take over. In which case, I tag along for the ride. Even in historical fiction, with its challenging blend of story and fact, It’s as much about story-building as it is about story-creating. Mollie Hunter explores this process in her book Talent is Not Enough in which she offers: “The child that was myself was born with a little talent, and I have worked hard, hard, hard to shape it. Yet even this could not have made me a writer, for there is no book that can tell anything worth saying unless life itself has first said it to the person who conceived that book. A philosophy has to be hammered out, a mind shaped, a spirit tempered. This is true for all of the craft. It is the basic process which must happen before literature can be created.”

CABIN

Bobbi’s cabin

Storytelling is the oldest invitation to the human experience. Stories have been told for over 100,000 years by every culture in the history of the planet. Not all cultures had a written language or codified laws, but all used stories to frame their cultural experience, history, and rituals. Heroes and heroines, like all aspects of story and myth, answered a basic human need: to explain the unexplainable. And we writers, like those ancient storytellers, are the keepers and the tellers of those “sacred” stories. Such stories do not always have a ”happily ever after.” The best stories, in fact, reflect the whole human experience. And the resolution comes because the protagonist’s choices are made when life no longer fits into her definition. Such heroines are then free to be who they need to be, and such stories empower the adolescent reader to seek, and ultimately discover, the heroine within herself.

At least, I hope my stories do.

Yes, they do! Thanks for sharing your inspiration, Bobbi! BTW, I see that your home reflects your love of the historical.

Here’s where you can find out more about Bobbi, her writing process, and her wonderful stories:

Please visit my website for more information about me and my books at: http://www.bobbimillerbooks.com/

For more about my research process, see my discussion at Donna Marie’s Peace and Poetry: http://donnamariemerritt.wordpress.com/2014/07/24/bobbi-miller-folklore-artist-extraordinaire/

Also see my discussion on Historical Fiction at Yvonne Ventresca’s blog, http://www.yvonneventresca.com/1/previous/2.html)

Holiday House, my publisher, lists where you can buy the book here: http://www.holidayhouse.com/title_display.php?ISBN=9780823431632
And I couldn’t resist adding this fun Lego promotion created for Bobbi’s book release:
LEGO Girls photo





Too Much to Do?

5 09 2014

Here’s some great advice to fit the most important things into your days,

 

Some of the best advice ever for becoming successful.





Hot Author, Cool Deal

13 08 2014
Judith Tewes Author

Judith Tewes

Jumping for joy that one of my friends has a new book out under her pen name, Judith Tewes. And she’s doing a Rafflecopter giveaway (scroll down for details). To celebrate, I invited her to my blog. I was planning to serve a cool glass of sweet tea to cool us off in the summer heat, but as you’ll see, Judith prefers the frigid weather of the north, so hot chocolate may be her beverage of choice. In spite of her preference for cold, Judith’s writing remains HOT, HOT, HOT. If you pick up her latest release from Bloomsbury, you’ll see what I mean (details below).

But first, I’ve asked Judith to tell us a little bit about herself so you can get to know her better.

How has where you’re from and/or where you have lived (or visited) influenced your work?

I’m the daughter of an army brat, so my family moved around quite a bit. We’ve lived across Canada, from coast to coast – Summerside, Prince Edward Island to Nanaimo, British Columbia. But I’ve spent most of my adult life in Alberta. We currently live in a small northern Alberta town…lots of forest, lakes, and wildlife, cold temperatures…and lots of snow.

I think that’s been the major influence on my writing. The cold. The snow. Every book I have published thus far is set in the late fall / winter. I even have a feature film project set in the dead of winter. Lol Fall and Winter are perfect seasons for paranormal stories or contemporary tales of finding yourself. Maybe it’s the added sense of isolation, or quiet, the extra challenge of trying to get the simplest task completed when your fingers are frozen, or the comfort of a hot mug of coffee on a cold afternoon – or – I just like to make my characters suffer on as many levels as possible. ;)

What sensory details do you surround yourself with while writing?

I always have music cranked or a movie playing in the background while I write. I respond to the tones, moods of the music or scene playing. My typing speed even picks up with faster paced songs. I’ve tried to write in absolute silence, and it just doesn’t work.

I do have playlists for certain projects – dark/ haunting tunes for my paranormal and lighter/ romantic/ angsty ballads for my contemporary.

However, the fact that I get up super early in the morning to write means I always have my earbuds in, so my blasting music doesn’t wake the entire house.

You manage to wear many different hats (screenwriting, asst. publisher, author with multiple pseudonyms, library tech, musician/ songwriter, etc. How do you balance your various roles and why/how are each of them important to you?

Balance is a constant struggle. Sometimes there are deadlines that take precedence, and everything else has to be put on hold until “mission accomplished,” but I’m usually able to divide up projects/ promotional tasks by day of the week or focus on a few things in the morning and others in the afternoon. The beauty of my day job (elementary school library technician) is that it relates to my publishing efforts.

My background as an author comes into play at the school where I’m often asked to do writing workshops for classes and makes it very easy for me to present to schools during author visits. I can switch hats – talk as an author, share tips with the teachers, talk shop with the library staff – and am familiar with most of the titles the students are reading, from picture books to young adult fiction. I’m lucky to have a career that compliments my passion and my art.

Oh, and I’m a firm believer in to-do lists.

How is your Judith Tewes’ release different from your other books?

Judith Tewes is the pen name for my edgy contemporary young adult and new adult fiction. Judith Graves is the name I use for my paranormals, so genre is the main difference and is the main reason I chose to write under different personas. All the better to market with. ;)

How are they similar?

Well, there’s winter. Lol. But also, across the board my characters are quirky and sarcastic. I love to write strong female lead characters with snarky attitudes that mask their vulnerability. And I can’t seem to resist throwing in some serious heat/ romance.

I know you’re a dog lover. Can you tell us what you like best about dogs? (Feel free to share pics & talk about how they came into your life & what they mean to you.)

Follow me on any social media site, and you’ll soon meet my crazy pups. I’m one of those fur-moms. lol My husband and I have three labs. Here they are below. Willow is our sweet yellow-lab female, and the boys are Higgins (chocolate), and Grimm (silver).dogs

Aww…

You know your question about balance? I’d say our dogs provide that the most for me. When I’m sitting too long at the computer, they’re nudging my elbow to be walked. When I’m mulling over a plot hole, they’re game for a round of fetch at the lake. When I’m celebrating the sale of a new project, they dance around the house along with me.

They keep me grounded, and my clothing accessorized with tri-coloured dog hair. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

Thanks so much for visiting, Judith and for sharing a bit of your life! It’s been great to have you.

And here are the details of Judith’s latest release from Bloomsbury Spark:

About My Soon-To-Be Sex Life: Charlie is down to her absolute. Total. Last. Resort.

Judith 500x500

Despite a thoroughly comprehensive list of potential cherry poppers, er…suitors, and careful plotting, Charlie is three weeks into her devirginzation campaign, still untouched, and getting desperate. In the movie of her life, this aspiring screenwriter is giving herself a PG, for please, get some.

Her project goes into freeze frame when her mom checks herself into rehab and packs Charlie off to live with her estranged, or just plain strange, grandfather, Monty. How is she supposed to get a date when she has to go pick up his Depends?

Enter Eric, a hot rehab grad on the road to redemption, and the only one who can make Charlie rethink her strategy. The more she gets to know him, the more convinced she becomes that is the one, and not just another to add to the list of people who will abandon her.

In this hilarious and heartbreaking story of one girl’s detoured road to womanhood, Charlie’s list develops a life of its own – right when she realizes there’s so much more to lose.
MSTBSL Final Cover

Book on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21462279-my-soon-to-be-sex-life

Buy Links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/My-Soon—Be-Sex-Life-ebook/dp/B00LL2VNBG/

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/my-soon-to-be-sex-life-judith-tewes/1119856111?ean=9781619635388

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/my-soon-to-be-sex-life/id894192283?mt=11

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/my-soon-to-be-sex-life

Books-A-Million: http://www.booksamillion.com/p/My-Soon-Be-Sex-Life/Judith-Tewes/Q244464221?id=6059783024487

Here’s the book trailer:

Click on this link for

a Rafflecopter Giveaway

 

About Judith Tewes: Multi-published, award-winning author, screenwriter, and playwright, Judith Tewes resides in small town Alberta, where she: writes, sings, plays bass guitar in an all-woman band, walks her three crazy labs, and suspects she’s living the life of a superhero’s alias. A commercial writer writing under several pen names, Judith’s work includes: paranormal, steampunk, and contemporary young adult fiction, as well as thriller, horror, and dramatic comedies for the stage and screen.

 

Visit Judith here:

WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

Author Page

TWITTER

TUMBLR

PINTEREST

GOODREADS





Chocolate Book Blog

12 07 2014

When I agreed to do this blog, I wondered how I could possibly combine books and chocolate. First of all, I LOVE way too many children’s books to choose favorites and second, I’m not a fan of chocolate. Now before you run in the opposite direction screaming at such sacrilege, perhaps I should explain.

choc house I used to be a total chocaholic in my early years. Then I got the ultimate job ever at age 16 – working in the Chocolate House at HersheyPark. After eating chocolate cake for breakfast, chocolate ice cream with chocolate syrup topped with chocolate whipped cream for lunch, and following that with a chocolate milkshake and candy bars for my afternoon snack every day for months, I cured myself of my chocolate addiction.

But I never managed to cure myself of my book addiction. After I learned to read, I always had a book with me — a practice that grew into a 30-book-a-week habit from 4th grade on. I hid books in my desk at school and read while the teacher talked. I read with a flashlight under the covers at night. I read while my friends watched TV or played outside.

Of course, I grew up to become a librarian and later an author. So now in addition to reading, I’m also always writing. Or illustrating. Or spending time with other writers and illustrators, who share my passion for the written word. So choosing favorite books is even more difficult at this point in my life. So for every book I list here, there are hundreds or thousands of others I wish I could include. I went back to my childhood bookshelf to choose the books that had the most worn and dog-eared pages.

littleprincesspicturebook1I’m going to start with the book I reread most often: A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I loved Sara Crewe’s journey from pampered rich girl to abused servant girl (a reverse rags-to-riches story).

I dreamed of being just like her — staying happy and cheerful even in the worst circumstances. In the end, Sara receives her reward when she’s rescued by her father’s partner and once again becomes a wealthy heiress. But no matter what occurred in her life, she remained a princess with a big heart. From her, I also learned the power of imagination.

 

Because one of Sara’s triumphs over the nasty headmistress was when she spoke fluent French to the language teacher, I chose a chocolate eclair to pair with the book.

eclair

wrinkle in timeMy second most-read book was Madeleine L’Engle‘s A Wrinkle in Time. It transported me to another time and place. I reread the whole series multiple times and dreamed of someday becoming a writer as skilled as L’Engle.

The whole trilogy intrigued me, but I have to say my favorite of the three was A Wind in the Door, when Meg had to fight for her brother’s life.

It was in this series that I was first introduced the Francis Thompson quote, “Thou canst not stir a flower / Without troubling a star.” That made me appreciate the vastness of the universe and the interconnectedness of all life. I realized the impact even tiny acts of kindness can have on the world around me, and to this day, I can’t pull weeds without feeling a vast sadness. I’d rather have an overgrown garden than remove a plant, any plant — even a weed.

Because this trilogy deserves something out-of-this-world, I chose a Milky Way.

1280px-Milky-Way-Bars-USUK-Split

Moving back to very early childhood, two Little Golden Books that were worn ragged were The Poky Little Puppy and The Color Kittens.

Poky puppyJanette Sebring Lowrey‘s Poky Little Puppy was a slowpoke, but rather than learning the lesson to be on time, I realized it was better to procrastinate because the poky puppy ended up with more desserts and freedom than his siblings who arrived home on time. That turned into a lifetime habit of procrastination, and although at times, it causes problems, most often I find procrastination has many benefits. So I can thank the Poky Puppy for that life lesson. And the illustrations by Gustaf Tenggren, who also illustrated The Shy Little Kitten, The Tawny, Scrawny Lion, many other Golden Books, instilled a deep desire to illustrate children’s books when I grew up.

 

Color_KittensThe Color Kittens, written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Alice Provensen and  Martin Provensen, introduced me to the world of mixing colors. I spent hours trying to accomplish the color mixing with my box of crayons. Someday I intended to master the intricacies of colors, a goal I’m still trying to achieve in my art classes.

Margaret Wise Brown also proved to be an inspiration in my picture book writing. Someday I hope to be as prolific as she was.

For childhood dreams and coziness, I think a cup of hot cocoa with marshmallows puddling on top sipped in a rocker evokes the warmth and joy of these picture books.

cocoa

My list wouldn’t be complete without my favorite heroine, Pippi Longstocking. I thrilled to her adventures and travel and independence. In a time when so many girls were portrayed as gentle and mild-mannered, Astrid Lindgren‘s Pippi jumped off the page, did what she pleased without adult supervision, and lived life on her own terms.Pippi She said what she thought without fear of consequences.

Pippi taught me to challenge authority and to never fear being myself, even if it meant standing out from the crowd. From her striped stockings to her wild red braids, Pippi demonstrated what it meant to be true to yourself.

In keeping with her tropical environment, I paired Pippi with my favorite coconut treat, an Almond Joy. And the fact that it contains nuts makes it a perfect match for Pippi’s zany nuttiness.

1280px-Almond-joy-broken

 

 

 

So who do you have to thank for all this chocolaty goodness? Eileen Moynihan of Childhood Books asked me to participate in this Chocolate Book Blog started by Karen Hall. You can read Eileen‘s and Karen‘s Chocolate Book Blogs by clicking on their names. The next person who’s handed the baton has to write a blog post naming 6 of their favourite books and linking one kind of chocolate to each book. Luckily for me, I found a chocolate lover in Monette Pangan, who’ll be bringing you more mouthwatering books and chocolate next Saturday.








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