Thursday, December 13, 2012

Holidays Remembered by a Child of Divorce

Just sitting here thinking about the upcoming holidays and that led me to recall some of celebrations from my youth. As I state in my book, Misguided Sensitivity, "even though people were more communicative back in the day, there were still secrets kept which would never come to life. People enjoyed sharing the good times together; for the most part they kept the bad to themselves." 

Even though there was a time when we were a "real family" I don't remember any Christmas parties until after my mom and dad got divorced. I guess that could be considered a bad part on my journey of self discovery. But what I do remember afterward really emphasizes what the holidays should be all about.

Being from a split family, we were able to celebrate Christmas three separate times. 

On Christmas Eve, my mom would help us kids get dressed in our best outfits and then drive us to her parent's house. After loading the car with small hand-made presents for our grandparents and aunt and uncle because we couldn't afford anything else, the four of us would be off for the 1/2 hour ride. We would all sing Christmas carols when they came on the radio and would smile and laugh the whole way there.

Once there, we would anxiously await for everyone to get home from work, mainly my uncle. He worked downtown and always got stuck in rush hour traffic, even on Christmas Eve. But lo and behold, by 4:00 we were all there waiting for the time that us kids could open our presents. For the longest time it was just three of us, but eventually more cousins came along, which made the wait even longer. Although we never received many presents, and mostly got clothes, the actual opening of these presents became very enjoyable and actually helped me to understand that Christmas really is for kids.

Once all the gifts were opened, dinner was served. We had ham and turkey, stuffing and all the sides I grew up loving--green bean casserole, cranberry sauce and fresh baked biscuits. The smells of this Christmas dinner always made me smile.

After cleaning up, the four us would get back into the car and my mom would drive us over to our other grandparent's house. Even though the divorce had happened, they still loved us and wanted to see us every year. So Mom would drop us off, sometimes coming in to say hi, and then go back to her parents house. Here at "the other grandparents" we would meet our cousins, try to get to know each other again and on a few rare occasions, see our father. He had left when I was around 8 or 9 and went on his own journey of self discovery. Most times that didn't include us kids. 

One of the best times I remember was the year he actually showed up. I was twelve and wasn't expecting to see him at all. We arrived after the rest of the family had eaten, as usual. When we walked in, there he was sitting on the couch. My little sister ran up to him and gave him a hug, while my brother and I shook his hand--like big boys do. The four of us sat and talked for what seemed like hours. 

Then it was time for presents. Every year my grandfather would "get called into work" just after all of us arrived. He never was able to see "Santa" when he came through the door carrying a big bag of toys for us and for our 7 cousins. One by one, he would hand out a single present, which we would open youngest to oldest after Santa left for the night. By the time it was my turn, somehow Grandpa always had returned from work.

This year in particular I got a small box--in it about a dozen slides to use on a microscope. Unfortunately, I had no microscope. My dad saw the look on my face and reassured me, after I said that Santa must have made a mistake, that all would be well. He was right. The first big present I got from my grandparents that year was that microscope. I also realized for the first time that Santa wasn't really Santa at all, but my grandfather in disguise. I kept that secret from the younger kids. Again as I say in the book "I got used to keeping secrets as I grew up."

One of the kids got a toboggan from Santa and as all the cousins, except for me and my uncle, who was one year older than me, sat down on it a picture was taken. Everyone was smiling and laughing--I still have that photo.

Dad took us home that night and kissed us good-bye.

The next morning we opened more presents, this time from the real Santa (Mom) and then went to have leftovers at her parent's house. We would help Grandma make ham salad, from the leftover ham from yesterday. She also had a tradition--there were two times a year, Christmas and New Years Eve, where all the adults would have to eat a small piece of creamed herring on a cracker. At Christmas it was to remind us that not everyone had it as good as we did, even though we didn't have it all that well. And at New Years Eve it was to welcome in the new year and hope that all our wishes came true. That was the first time I was involved in this ritual...I had finally become an adult.

This is what Christmas should be all about.

Throughout my journey of self discovery I've kept this memory with me. Now that all the grandparents, and even Dad, are dead and gone I still remember that Christmas.

I vowed that my children would have holidays just like that one...and he has. Christmas really is for kids, but it's for adults too. It helps us get through the hustle and bustle of our lives, it helps us relax among friends, and it rekindles memories of days gone by. And even though Christmas has changed since when I grew up, I still find it is my favorite holiday of the year.

Here's hoping you and yours have a great Holiday Season. And if you find you like this story, please check out my books on the sidebar.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

September is Make-A-Wish month for this author

I've been very lucky ... both as an author and as a parent. My 5 books on Amazon are doing well. I get nice royalty checks ... not enough to live off of yet, but still people are buying my books. As a parent, my son is healthy and way too smart for his own good. Although there are ups and downs, my life is more than I ever expected it to.

Others aren't as lucky. The company I work for, Daymon Worldwide, uses the month of September to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Last year I had an idea, donate some of the profits from my one book to that organization. I was able to sell 300 books and sent in a check for $300.
This year I hope to do even better. I have five books on Amazon and should be able to pass that $300 mark quite easily.

But I still ask for your help. So come on over to my website, and buy any of my books, either a paperback or a Kindle edition and I'll make a donation. Even if you don't read, buy a book anyway and donate it your local library or women's shelter or anywhere else that could use it. That way you're helping two ways ... someone gets a book and Make-A-Wish gets the needed donation that they deserve.

Here is a picture of my flyer ... feel free to share this post with any of your friends through e-mail or on Facebook or Twitter or however!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Autographed Copies of My Books

People ask me all the time 'how can I get an autographed of your books if you never come to my area?' Well, now I have answer for them.

Before I discuss that, let's talk about my books so you know what I write about. My 'tag' is "Real life fiction for real life people." What does that mean? Here's how I answer. Some readers love stories about werewolves, shape-shifters or science fiction ... things that may never happen to them. I write about situations that CAN happen to you and maybe already have ... or at least they're ones you can relate to.
Take Misguided Sensitivity for example. 

It is the story of a young boy who goes searching for acceptance and happiness after his parents get a divorce. Kenneth Weene, author of Widow's Walk, says,  "I think it would be much more effective than Men are from Mars ... for understanding the male/female relationship." Bonnie Cehovet, an independent reviewer, states, "A book that addresses our relationship with ourselves, with others, and with Spirit. A tremendously good read ... and could very well help those who are still trying to define their path in life."

Or how about my newest release, Life Is a Balance, It isn't only about you.

One reviewer states, "I recommend this book as an enjoyable read, but also as a book that will help the reader to better understand themselves, and those around them. We all deal with the same issues in life, but we deal with them in our own unique way."

Or how about Legends of the Lake

This is what Susan Mahoney, an independent book reviewer, says, "This reader would describe this book as a lazy Sunday drive through time, involving generational memories and shares the joy and sorrows of the legends of the lake." 

And finally You're Never Alone ... A Child of Divorce Searches for Happiness

"This is a very insightful, emotional and educational story about the lessons one learns in their journey to self-discovery. It could be used as a study guide for parents and young people to explore together and discuss the insecurities one faces ..." says one reviewer.
This is the Young Adult version of Misguided Sensitivity, one which is written with teenagers in mind.

Now that you have a feeling for my writings, here is how you can get an autographed copy no matter where you live.

I will sign any ONE book of your choice to whoever you want it to go to, AND will write whatever you wish AND send it FREE of postage for only $18.99.

But I'm not done...

I will send you BOTH Misguided Sensitivity and Life Is a Balance, you get the WHOLE journey of self-discovery of one boy for the low price of $29.99. Plus you get all the above freebies, including FREE postage. That's a 20% savings over buying them separately. 

But wait ...

I will sign all 4 of my books, just like above, and give you FREE postage and also throw in a FREE copy of my poetry book, What the Heart Feels, for only $48.99. That's a 30% saving over buying them separately, PLUS you get the free book.

 So how do you do all this.? Send me an e-mail at with the sentence I want autographed books in the subject line. I will respond with the next steps and how to pay for them. Remember, a reader loves the feel of a paperback book in their hands, and what is better than to get a personalized message from the author? This is great for birthdays, graduations, Mom's Day or Dad's Day, and, of course, for the holidays. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Review of Memoirs from the Asylum

In Memoirs from the Asylum, Kenneth Weene allows the reader to enter a world most of us pray we never have to … the world of mental illness and the effects it has on both the victims and those that are paid to help them.

There’s Marilyn, the catatonic schizophrenic, who spends all of her time seeing an altogether different world through a crack in her bedroom wall. It’s the world she once related to and is populated by those of her past who meant something to her. How will she respond when the crack gets repaired?

Dr. Buford Abrose is the first year resident who also has seen his share of problems. From a loveless marriage to the feelings of failure on his part when he can’t balance the paperwork aspect of the job from the actual attempt to make a difference, he is caught within the walls of the asylum. The closer he tries to understand the patients, the farther he falls from his own life.

The unfeeling workers of the asylum add to the misery and complications these, and the other characters, of the book experience. Their answers normally include medications and isolation for the patients … or is it for themselves?

There is a feeling of connection between these characters that becomes apparent as the book goes on. Although they all react in their own way, the connection that they share is that of fear. Fears that were brought on by the “real world” when they were younger … probably none of their own doing. Possibly a death of someone close, maybe the physical abuse of a parent or friend … something made these people afraid and wanting to escape. Now that they did, all they really want is freedom, whatever that means to them.

In the unique style of narration, Weene allows us to see what really happens in the minds of those that are institutionalized. Sometimes the book was hard to read, using words and imagery that the normal person may not understand or relate to and was lacking an actual plot, but somehow at the end it all comes together.

Not one to be a spoiler, all I can say is that Memoirs from the Asylum is a book that everyone should read and at the same time pray to the God of your choice that the freedom you have is the freedom that you really want.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Things I've learned as a published author

My first book was self-published in 2009. After the editing was over I thought I was on easy street. I sent in the manuscript to AuthorHouse, a publishing company, and waited for my book to be listed on Amazon. Then everything would be simple. People who didn't know me would buy up my books by the bundles, so my editor told me. It was a good story, one he had never seen before, even after editing for twenty years and over 250 books. He even asked if I was ready to quit my day job and just travel the country talking about my book ... it was that good!

Well, I've learned a few things since then. These are in no specific order, as they all come to fruition to every Indie author out there.

1) Writing the book is the easy part. The ideas that form in your head and the resulting sentences placed onto a Word document really is the easy part of writing. Yes, there is some editing ... and then some more ... and then even more. But the process is fun, at least for me. You just have to have an open mind. And keep this in the back of your head: you will never satisfy everyone. There will always be someone to tell you how wrong the subject is, that the commas are in the wrong places, that the novel you wrote should be a screenplay instead and that they can do a better job than you did. They will say that being published on your own or with a small independent publishing company isn't really being published at all. They say that no bookstore will carry your books because they are POD (Print on Demand) and they don't want to get stuck with non-returnable books. All this MAY be true, but not always. I have my books in 3 brick and mortar Barnes & Noble bookstores, they are in many of the gift shops along the Las Vegas strip, and I am published by a reputable publisher. My name is out there, maybe not as big as Janet Evanovich, but still people know me and my books. But then comes the marketing.

2) Marketing is hard. With so many inferior books being 'published' by so-called 'authors' this is what separates the 'men from the boys' as the saying goes. Just by being on Amazon doesn't mean you will sell your books. I use the "Look Inside" part of Amazon to see how the writing is. If it isn't formatted correctly, or if I see many errors right off the bat, I pass on purchasing those books. Some authors live and die by what their Amazon ranking is. I don't even look at it. The numbers are deceiving and change by the hour. It may make it easier for your fans to buy your book, but there are so many ways of marketing that don't include Amazon at all.
Look to specialty stores, the little mom and pop stores willing to buy in small amounts or on consignment, to start with. Anywhere you have to wait is a place to market. Try doctors offices, dentist offices, cafes, fast food places, the list goes on. The best thing to remember is that if you buy at your author discount price and sell at the same price as advertised on-line you will make more. I like going to flea markets and arts and craft shows. The people look up to you there because it is something that is handmade and they can't do it. When you sign your books, it adds a personal touch, too!
But for every idea you come up with, there is company willing to take your money to help move your sales forward. After 5 books and 3 years of talking about my books, this is what I've found to be true. Another thing to know is that WHATEVER you can pay someone for, you can do yourself for free or for at least less money out of pocket. Take some time to search the internet and you'll find free sites to post your excerpts, trainings on how to write your own press releases, even step by step lessons on how to make your own book trailer. Here's a little video I made for free about my book Misguided Sensitivity. It may not win an Academy Award, but it has been shared on Facebook over 40 times and has been seen by over 240 times in the last 2 months.

Why pay someone else when you know your book the best? Oh yeah, that leads me to number 3 ...

3) There is never enough time. Ah yes, time. There are only so many hours in a day and in a week. What can you do to make the most of them? I set up a timeline for myself. I did a little investigation and talked to other Indie authors and found out that social media was probably the best way to get your name out there. So of course, I set up a Twitter account, a Facebook author page, a Goodreads profile, etc. etc etc. And then the timing thing came came up again. I made sure I set up my Facebook author page with a widget which allows my posts on that page to go directly to Twitter. This saves time as you only have to post once. I'm sure there are many more tricks, but I'll stop there.

4) There are good people and bad people. I think I've seen it all in this business. There are some people and companies just waiting for you to write your book so they can get rich. You never sell any books, but they are laughiing all the way to the bank. These people or companies promise you the world and never deliver. Even other authors sometimes fit that bill. I started out by swapping my books with other authors in return for reviews on Amazon for each other. Well, I read faster than the average person and after I'd finish the book, I'd post my review of their book on all my sites. Many times I never got a review back. I'm still waiting to hear from one author who I did a review for in January 2011 to get back to me. I have found a group of authors who really do care for each other. The people from All Things That Matter Press, both the publishers and the authors, do what they say. That's why they are my publishers, and friends, from now on.

5) Luck is better than skill sometimes. I know my books are good and so do the people who have read them. Still, you sometimes need luck to actually sell your works. Shortly after my first book came out I was on a plane trip to Arizona. The lady sitting next me was a 'talker' and I'm not. I gave her a copy of my book to politely shut her up. As I closed my eyes to rest, she started to laugh, and then cry. At the end of my trip she asked if she could keep the book and if I'd autograph it for her. So I did. The man sitting next to her stopped me once we walked into the terminal. He wanted to know where he could buy my book. I told him to go to Amazon, but he wanted more. To make a long story short, I gave him my publishers and my information and later that day I got an e-mail from him saying he owned a chain of gift stores on cruise ships and that he just bought 1000 copies of my book to stock them. Like I said, sometimes luck is better than skill.

6) The journey never ends. Even after having 5 books published, with over 3000 combined copies sold, and thinking that everyone knows my name, I find that, although this is good for a self-published or an independently published book, I'm still a nobody, except in my own house. So I continue to 'pimp' my books wherever and whenever I can. Most times I sound like a broken record. Even my car is a rolling billboard for my works.

I got into this business as way to relax after a hard days work. What I've found is that there is no relaxing when it comes to authors ... and I think I like that fact. Come over to my website  to see about all my books and to order a copy. I need as much support as I can get! And PLEASE tell your friends, your family and even your enemies about my books!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Turn of the Karmic Wheel

“What goes around comes around.” “Good versus evil.” “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” “Live and let live.” “Forgive and forget.” These are all saying which revolve around Karma. In “The Turn of the Karmic Wheel” Monica Brinkman explores all of these. In writing an interesting and easy to read work of fiction, she allows the readers to experience how everyday people can either come together for the better, or stand alone for the worse. In my book “Misguided Sensitivity” I include a quote from my great-grandmother which fits this book’s theme. “Treating people with the respect they deserve is the best way to get into heaven,”
Most readers will come away with the idea that the book is about how the interactions between individuals affect the masses, and how the resulting actions can affect your own well being. How the ability to love one another overshadows any selfish act that only benefits you. And how kindness is rewarded, while selfishness is punished.
I came away with a totally different perspective. I related to the characters as “the good guys and the bad guys.” In this story, the bad guys to me are those who are only concerned with greed and how they are seen in the world. Take the three main “bad guys”, Joshua Allen, a financial advisor who never advised, just let his clients lose all their money while he knew when to get out on top. His attitude was “Those goody-goodies who preached forgiveness, empathy, love and understanding were losers with a capital L.” Life was for him and nobody else.
Then there is Monty Frank, the owner of a debt elimination service which never eliminated anyone’s debt except his own. He believed “they got themselves into this, and if he didn’t take their money, someone else would.”
And finally Rosie Richards, the town’s best real estate agent who played the games needed to get people bigger homes than they could afford without any concern for what they would encounter later on.
These “bad guys” represented greed to me. The more I read, the more I began to think this book was a commentary about how the greed in the world has taken over the best of us. And in the end that we have to either change our attitudes or face the consequences, just as is happening today throughout the world.
The “good guys” were three people who had never met before but were on a crash-course to come together and save the world, or at least the town of Raleigh.
There was Angela Frank, Monty’s wife and a doctor who had always heard the “good music.” Karman Shelton, a nurse who was compassionate and kind although her life wasn’t exactly what she had hoped for. And finally Euclid Hannigan, an aging widower who has lost his will to live after his wife dies from cancer, but who listens to the voice of his dead wife to allow him to hear the “good music” also.
When the three of these people do meet and join forces, good triumphs over evil in some ways. Not one to be a spoiler, I will stop at this.
The book was well written and kept my interest from start to finish. Everyone who reads this will come away with a different perspective, mine was that “to those who wait, good things will come” and “everything you do and think will affect your lot in life.” I recommend this book for those looking to escape for a few hours and for those who like books which make you think.

Review of Sydney's Song

After reading Sydney’s Song I have come to the conclusion that growing up, no matter where it takes place, isn’t an easy thing to do. Welcome to Sydney’s life. She is a typical Australian teenager … well sort of. When she comes home one day and her mother and father tell her they are getting a divorce, she can’t believe it. But they both have their separate lives already … and neither one includes the other. They have come to grips with it, but Sydney can’t.
          Mum and Dad leave and seventeen-year-old Sydney has the house to herself and her trusty dog, Dimity. She gets a job answering phone calls about public transit. It is a boring and demeaning job, but she puts in her best effort and makes the best of it.
          Sydney decides never to drink or do drugs, never to give herself to the beckoning of the boys interested in her, and never to fall in love. But those decisions get tested by the new group of friends she meets at her job. They don’t understand her, but they accept her.
          Not to be a spoiler, Sydney does eventually meet a handsome American boy and they start to build a relationship together. He changes her mind about her feelings of wanting to be alone and they grow together. In fact, she decides she can’t live without him. But he has a secret back home ... one that Sydney must face head-on. Who should she trust?
          That’s as far as I will go. The twists and turns inside this book make the reading fairly easy. I found myself turning pages as fast as I could.
          There is SO much more to this story, but I believe that you the reader should experience it for yourself. The morale is to listen to your heart and not always to those around you. Believe in something, anything, and then make it happen. Although some things in life don’t go as planned, that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from your experiences, try new things and eventually still end up happy.
          I give Sydney’s Song a 4-star rating. The writing was superb, the story kept me interested and the ending touched me ways most books don’t. God works in mysterious ways sometimes, and this book proves it. I recommend this book to anyone, male or female, who is trying to find their way in this world. It is a reminder that life can work out if you just trust your insides and follow what you feel. 

Support Indie authors

I am an Indie author, all of my books are self-published or published by an small independent company, All Things That Matter Press. Most of my author friends are also Indie authors and we all need support. So I will pass on some of my reviews of others.

The story of Anistasia and John is a normal teenage romance … not at all. Toni G Sinns has crafted a unique adventure romance in I’ve Got You Covered.

Ani, as she is called throughout the story, has a secret. She is a teenager on the run. With no parents in the picture and only her older alcoholic brother to watch over her, whenever a ‘situation’ arises they run. But what from?

John is a rebellious teenage boy who talks back to his teachers, doesn’t do homework, and doesn’t care for too many people in this world. He’d rather work on his cars and run an illegal racing circuit than go to school. He too has a secret.

What happens when Ani and John meet? At first nothing, but both feel something special about the other. Even though John has a ‘girlfriend’ he still would rather hang out with Ani. And when she finds out he is a racer, something she is interested in also, they just click. But there is much more to their story …

I’ve Got You Covered chronicles the beginning of their relationship and eventually uncovers both of their secrets. You’re not going to believe what they are. Not one to be a spoiler, I will let you, the reader, find out for yourself how this book turns out.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Life Is a Balance: It's not only about you

My newest book, Life Is a Balance, is now available on Amazon. Here is a quick synopsis.

The journey of self-discovery is a lifetime trip; and just like the fingerprints you possess, yours will be uniquely different than anyone else’s. There are things that are common in each—such as good and bad times, emotional highs and lows, and choices that will need to be made. These choices that are presented to you can greatly define how you live your life. They may be influenced by the people you meet, symbols that are strategically placed along your journey, and especially by however you choose to worship your idea of God. Being that no choice ever comes without consequence, there really is no right or wrong answer; either road taken will eventually get you to where you’re supposed to be. Although some roads take longer than others in order for you to reach where you're supposed to go.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I'm Back ...

People ask me all the time, “What genre do you write in?” I used to not know how to answer. You see, I take pieces of real life, sometimes mine, sometimes others, and weave them into a fictional story. This is called narrative non-fiction or creative fiction or reality fiction or any of about a hundred other titles by the experts. In my world, I call it—real life fiction.

Take for example my book, Legends of the Lake. It’s a story about a family vacation home tucked away in the southern section of Wisconsin. The place where over four generations of the same family spent their summers and learned many life lessons from those around them. I wrote it in first person; so many readers believe it to be a memoir. Although based on some of my upbringing, the whole story is just that—a story. I took remembrances from my mother and aunts and uncles who visited there, along with my memories, and a story developed.

I like to write in this style, so most of my books use it. It’s easier for me to ‘feel’ the story when I write in first person. I started my career as an author writing on business trips to make the long nights go by faster. The more I jotted down ideas and memories, the more new ideas came to me. The journey of self-publishing became reality as not even one traditional publisher or agent gave me any positive feedback. Then I happened on an editor who told me my stories were very unique and that, if I tried hard enough, I would find readers who would understand my stories.

And I did.

After three years, my first book using AuthorHouse as a publisher, Sensitivity 101…The Search for Acceptance, sold almost 3000 copies. This was due to my marketing and my social networking and, of course, some luck. I say it was due to me because AuthorHouse does absolutely nothing for you…unless you pay through the nose.  

One day I was on a plane trip back from Arizona and a very chatty older lady sat next to me. I was very tired and didn’t want to talk to anyone. I politely told her how I felt and offered her a copy of my book as a way for her to leave me alone.

She started to read it and immediately laughed out loud … and then cried, loud enough for the man next to her to take notice. As she read on, she changed emotions many times. By the end of the hour plane flight, she had read about half of the book. As we were leaving the plane, she shook my hand and said, “You have a winner here.”

I thanked her and continued walking off the plane. As soon as I reached the airport I felt a hand touch my shoulder.

”Excuse me, sir! Can we talk for a minute?”

“Sure,” I said, not too convincingly.

It was the man who was sitting in my row on the plane next to the lady.

“What was that book you gave the lady next to me?” he asked. “She sure seemed to enjoy it.”

I told him it was a copy of my newly released novel, gave him a copy and watched as he read the first ten pages.

“Can I buy some of these?”

“Sure, it’s on Amazon and everywhere books are sold,” I suggested.

“No,” he said, “I own a string of gift stores on a cruise ships and I think this would be a welcome addition. Can you help me get more than a few copies?”

I gave him the information he needed--my publisher and the company who distributed it, and he was gone.

Later that day I received an e-mail stating that someone had bought 1000 copies of my book.

Guess being lucky sometimes trumps being good.

This led to a ‘real’ publisher taking notice of me. All Things That Matter Press liked my second manuscript, the sequel to Sensitivity 101, and offered me a contract. Not only did they want that book, but they offered to re-release Sensitivity 101 under a new title and cover. In fact, Misguided Sensitivity and Life Is a Balance…It’s Not Only About You are both coming out in Spring of 2012. You can visit my website, for more information about release dates.

Going forward I will continue to write. I’m in the middle of a new manuscript, Tails You Lose, about gambling on horses and the addiction it can bring on. This one is not in first person, but does contain some real-life situations which happened to me or friends I know.

Thanks to other authors out there, people like Darcia Helle and Kenneth Weene, my name and my words are being distributed to people and places across the globe. And by me keeping the circle going, so are theirs.

To become a ‘fan’ of mine, you can go to or