Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What do you do with old underwear?

Spiegel 1963 women's underwear sets
Spiegel 1963 women's underwear sets (Photo credit: genibee)

I'm having fun today.

Do you ever throw yours away? 

No matter how many holes there are?

       I am here to confess – and my sisters and anyone else who knows me well, will be looking around thinking – where is my sister and what have you done with her because SHE doesn’t talk about these things – back to confessing – I actually threw a pair of underwear away today. The kicker is – they were clean, but none-the-less full of holes.

       Seriously, do you throw underwear away, or are you like me? I see that it needs to be trashed, but then who throws away dirty underwear? Yuck! I know, who is going to see it? So, I wash it, and then I think – I’ll just wear it one more time, it is clean after all and so the cycle continues. The underwear never makes it to the trash!

       Today, I threw away a pair of clean underwear. Now, I am asking all of you to fess up – do you throw away underwear – and if you dare – clean or dirty? I am throwing down the gauntlet. Leave your confessions below and know that we’ll keep them in the strictest of confidence.

Be sure to follow my blog. 
You never know what subject will come up next!


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Friday, July 27, 2012

Lessons I’ve Learned

       There was time in my life when I allowed another’s lies to define who I was.

       That was a lifetime ago; and that time has ended.

       I don’t know why God put this on my heart today. Maybe with all the violence and ugliness going on in the world, we all need to be reminded to love one another. Maybe someone needed the message I had to impart. 

       We learn, as Christians, to see Jesus when we look at people; but how many of us actually have that thought running rampant through our mind every second of our busy days?

       My former mother-in-law never missed an opportunity to voice to my mother that she told her son he should not have married me – and this was while we were married. Do you think she was seeing Jesus when she spoke those words to another mother? Truth be told, it would actually hurt me to voice that sentiment to another mother. I identify with other’s feelings on too deep a level to ever consider voicing such a hurtful comment.

A "What Would Jesus Do?" (WWJD) bracelet
A "What Would Jesus Do?" 

       I remember a time when my former husband and one of his co-workers went fishing for the day. At the end of the day, after cleaning the catch, we shared a meal with the other family. As women will do, we talked as we stood in the kitchen preparing the meal. I was surprised – or perhaps not – when she very candidly told me that her husband had told her of a conversation he had with my then husband. In that conversation, he said that I was a bitch. There is no other way to phrase that particular word – my apologies. She went on to tell me that her husband said that he was told I did nothing but scream and yell and fuss all of the time.

       Anyone who knows me will tell you I do not handle matters in that particular way. I am a person who holds their anger inside. I rarely ever show my anger or hurt. I detach and become very quite. That doesn’t mean I am not human. I am, and I have been known to slam a few doors – loud and hard- did I mention loud and hard - but screaming is not something I do. I do not like confrontation, and I avoid it whenever possible.

Ephesians 4:29 – “Don’t let any foul words come out of your mouth. Only say what is helpful when it is needed for building up the community so that it benefits those who hear what you say.” 

       I asked this woman, if after getting the chance to know me, if she still thought that I was this kind of person. I did not let on, but I was extremely hurt when she replied that she did in fact still believe all that she had heard, because she did not feel that my former husband would lie – which said to me that she thought I was lying when I denied the allegations. What I wanted to do at that time was grab my daughters and leave. I did not want to stay in a place that was detrimental to my emotional well-being. I could feel myself shutting down, and pasting on that fake smile.

       What I did was hide my hurt and anger inside of me, and stayed for dinner. I never told anyone how devastating that conversation was to me. Little did I know that it would become one of many such conversations in the years to come.

Colossians 4:6 – “Your speech should always be gracious and sprinkled with insight so that you may know how to respond to every person.”

       Ever since that night, when the thoughts come back to haunt me, I get angry with myself. I am angry because I did not stand up for myself. I am angry because I did not confront my ex-husband. I am angry because another person believed his lies. I am angry because I let what this person believed bother me. I am angry because I wish the memory would vanish. And, that, is not very Christian like either.

       And, then I think, maybe the memory comes back to remind me that I am worthy. I am worthy of Jesus’ love. I do not need people like this woman in my life because they make me feel like less than. And, to feel less than, is an insult to God. It is also a lesson that we need to know and remember. Lies hurt; lies maim; lies destroy; and lies kill. Lies destroy a person’s spirit; what lies within.

Proverbs 14:1 – “A wise woman builds her house, while a foolish woman tears hers down with her own hands.”

       For a while, the WWJD – What would Jesus do – bracelets were extremely popular. It seemed as though everyone was wearing some form or another of the symbol. I wonder if our actions would be significantly different if we had WWJD branded on our foreheads. While it sounds like a farfetched idea, I urge you to think about it for a moment. When we opened our mouths to lie, or to gossip, would we continue or would we close our mouths?

       This story brings me to a lesson we need to remember. Everyone is of God. And, to insult or lie or belittle another person, is to belittle God, our creator. For that reason, when we see or speak to others, we need to remember one of the greatest lessons of all – look for Jesus in each face we see and not be led astray.

       As always, I encourage you to share your opinions and experience, and/or questions. Remember to show courtesy to others in your comments.


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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Let The Willows Weep: Guest Post by Sherry Parnell

 sherry-parnell's picture
Sherry Parnell began creating worlds of her own into which she could escape, dream, and live for a moment outside of her own life. Now this passion has become her profession with the release of her first novel, "Let the Willows Weep"." 

I hope you'll give a wonderful welcome to my guest Sherry Parnell.  

Where is the line between destruction and redemption?  What happens when one doesn’t know—do they fall or do they find their way?  

When the tenuous ties of her family break, Birddog Harlin is forced to choose a path which leads her away from those she loves, threatening to completely destroy her before she ultimately seeks her salvation.

Birddog is a willful and bitter woman whose husband, after years of suffering her emotional abuse, leaves suddenly one morning. She is left with her precocious and introverted young daughter who is devastated and angry, further deteriorating their already strained relationship. But during a seemingly insignificant moment with her daughter, Birddog privately recollects her own adolescence and the tragic events which drove her to make the choices that threaten to destroy not only her own life but also that of her daughter.  Memories of loss, love, and unbearable hurt flood her mind.  But as each moment recedes once more, Birddog realizes that although life is partially fated, it is her own choices that determine her true destiny.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Book Review: The Boots My Mother Gave Me by Brooklyn James

My guest today is Brooklyn James, the author of The Boots My Mother Gave Me. Boots won the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award as a Quarterfinalist in 2011. Please welcome Brooklyn James.

The Boots My Mother Gave Me
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to walk through life in someone else's shoes? 

Strong-willed tomboy Harley LeBeau puts you in the boots her mother gave her, as she takes you along her journey of escape from an abusive childhood and the desire to find herself as she comes of age. Made to feel a burden to her father simply by her gender, Harley is determined to prove her worth and independence, leaving the small town she grew up in and the one boy who gave her a soft place to fall, Jeremiah Johnson. Torn between saving herself and abandoning her mother and younger sister, Harley chooses her own life in hopes they will choose theirs, too. 

A mature, candid read for everyone. A must for women. The Boots My Mother Gave Me explores the dynamics of abuse and dysfunction, the courage to overcome, the strength in sisterhood, and the ongoing conflict and unconditional love between mothers and daughters. 

Climb into Charlene the Chevelle for a fast-paced story about a girl who is tough enough to survive and tender enough to learn to trust in love.

Signed Paperback & Original Music Soundtrack to The Boots My Mother Gave Me can be found at www.brooklyn-james.com

Guest Post by Brooklyn James:

Friday, July 20, 2012

Prime Time (Book Review) by Jane Wenham-Jones

My guest today is Jane Wenham-Jones, the author of Prime Time. If you are a fan of romantic comedy, you might want to check out this book. Here is Jane to tell you a little more about it.

Prime Time - full-length romantic comedy novel

My new novel, Prime Time, is the story of Laura, who is persuaded onto a TV discussion programme which has life-changing consequences.

I’ve done a few TV shows now – often on little-watched channels with three viewers - and one of the things I’ve learned is that you need to be ready for anything…

On Loose Lips on Living TV, I was called upon to give off-the-cuff relationship advice as part of a live phone-in.

            I’m not sure what sort of counsel I cobbled together – the woman in question was having an affair I seem to remember, so I probably said: For God’s sake don’t get caught – but it was the first in long line of situations where I’ve had to think on my feet.   

I once nearly spluttered on air having just heard myself introduced by one regional radio station (clearly desperate to fill five minutes before the travel news) as a “relationships expert” and finding I was being called upon to offer guidance  to Helen who felt Kevin no longer loved her, when I’d thought I was just there to plug a novel.

  I rose to the challenge though, trawling my memory for every cliché from every agony aunt page I’d ever read, suggesting quiet nights in and heart-to-heart chats over candlelit dinners, even though I knew that Kevin, if he was like most blokes would probably much rather watch the football than have any sort of discussion about his feelings, and would be totally aghast when Helen switched off the TV and served up chicken a la mode in the dark instead.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Her Honor's Bodyguard by Johnny Ray (Guest Post)

My guest today is Johnny Ray, the author of Her Honor's Bodyguard. If you are a fan of romantic thrillers, you might want to check out his book. Here is Johnny to tell you a little more about it.


About the Book:

Do first loves ever really die? While reunions can take many forms, there is always one question that has to be answered sooner or later—what happened?

Vance had always been extremely proud of Noella, and just because his life had been ruined, he saw no reason why she had to have the same faith. When his dad died, leaving him and his mother penniless, he dropped out of law school and ended his relationship with Noella, but in doing so, he stopped a scandal that could have ruined her family. These secrets he would never let her know. Ironically, years later, he would have never guessed she would be instrumental in ruining his career with the Tampa police force

Monday, July 16, 2012

From the Heart – What we all long for

        I was reading an email that I received today and it immediately brought to mind my first marriage. The topic was about longing for a person to turn to, someone to defend you, and keep you safe.

Marriage Day
Marriage Day (Photo credit: Fikra)
        The reason I thought of my ex-husband was I did not receive this acceptance and love from him. He never defended me, in fact, he often belittled me and told lies about me. I learned the difficult lesson that without mutual love and respect, the relationship does not prosper and grow; it falters.

        Maybe I am a little old fashion, but my core beliefs are a husband/wife should love his wife/husband unconditionally. He should be willing to do battle for her - not against her, and above all, he should respect her. This was not what I found in my first marriage. I have heard my ex-husband’s family described as mean. Sadly, I would have to agree. I have bore witness to it on too many occasions; and since the divorce -16+ years ago-, some of the meanness has developed into hatred towards me; and the relationships with my daughters directly affected by the detestation.

        When I met my husband -Hubby-, I knew that I would not settle for less than I deserved. Love and respect had to be part of the package, or there would be no relationship. Having gone through a similar marriage and divorce, he felt the same. It was hard for me to trust in the beginning, but with him as a light in my life, I learned how to trust again.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Are YOU making this Etiquette Mistake?

Sunday's From the Heart Series - It's all about the etiquette 

OR, maybe you don’t give a hoot about proper etiquette?

         I do! Even acquaintances of mine will tell you it doesn’t take long to see I am all about manners and proper etiquette!

title page of Etiquette an Rococo-Arabeske
title page of Etiquette an Rococo-Arabeske (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
         I was reading an article the other day about the proper way to handle different etiquette situations, and the topic of being invited to a shower or a party (etc.) hosted (and I use this term loosely) at a restaurant, but with the intention of you paying for your own meal. I thought it was funny because this is a pet peeve of mine, a HUGE one! I have addressed etiquette on my blog before and I thought - it's a favorite subject of mine, so why not do it again? I love hearing what other people are thinking, so I really hope you will comment. It can't be just me who is missing those long ago days of manners, along with "Please" and "Thank you."

         (Back to the subject) This has happened to me on several occasions, and I must admit I chose not to attend the functions. We all view situations in a different light, and this is only my opinion. “Hey, we are having a baby (wedding, etc.) shower at (insert restaurant) in (insert town 2 hours away) on (date, time) for (insert name). We would love (exaggerating) for you to attend, but you will have to buy your own meal.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Tuesday's Child by Jeanette Baker

My guest today is Jeanette Baker, the award-winning author of fifteen novels. 
Welcome Jeanette!

About the Book:
Tuesday's Child
Possessed of a luminous beauty and a delicate grace, Tess Bradford left Maryland for London with but one purpose, to secure the release of her husband, a devout American patriot, who had been seized by the British navy. Only one man could help her secure his release, James Devereaux, Duke of Langley, former aide to Wellington. But Tess wasn't prepared for the passion that burned beneath Devereaux's implacable demeanor.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Completely Whole by Paulette Harper Johnson

Completely Whole
 About the Book 

Completely Whole is resource filled- guide full of practical and Biblically-based principles, real-life application strategies and prayers to give the readers a holistic approach to living a life of wholeness through Jesus. Christ. This book is inspiring, optimistic, hopeful and encouraging while providing a clear-cut, scriptural blueprint for each reader to follow as they allow the Word and the power of God to transform their pain and restore their lives on their road to becoming Completely Whole.

Harper plainly states that “words have the power and ability to create (76)” which can place you in a position to be completely whole. The purpose of her book Completely Whole is to “bring the reader to the place of wholeness—spirit, soul and body.”  She provides a biblical foundation, personal experiences, prayer and a confession in each chapter to give a voice of reason to the women who cry out to learn more about who they are, where they are to go and why it is so important to know God’s word.  Her personal walk is the example within the text. Jewell Williams

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

PIG by Sarah Beth Martin (sbr martin)


About the Book:

Enough is enough! What does it take for a troubled woman to finally let go? SBR Martin's second novel, "Pig," answers this question by bringing dark topics to light in an unnerving, yet inspiring, story of domestic abuse, sexuality, reflection, and loss.

- - - -

Her name is Lily, but she's gone by different names over the years - Lilith, Mom, Flower, and Pig, to name but a few.

She's sitting alone on a couch in the corner of a crowded funeral home, desperately clinging to a scrap of paper in her right hand. She's avoiding contact with those around her, keeping to herself, because she holds more than that scrap of paper - she holds a lot of secrets, including one she's keeping from herself.

In the other room, which she dare not enter, a man lies in a closed casket. That man is her husband. Only she knows how he got there, and only the telling of her story can tell his.

As Lily guards her secrets on the couch in the corner, the familiar faces of funeral home patrons stir a lifetime of memories, a collection of past events brought to pass before her eyes.

How did her husband get in that box? And what is she holding in her hand? Step into Lily's past to answer the present questions. But don't expect to be pleased with everything you learn. Some stories just aren't meant to have happy endings.

About the Author:

Sarah Beth (Rem) Martin, penname sbr martin, was bred, born, and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she continues to live and work as a writer, journalist, and mother.
Martin is an alumna of The Ellis School, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. Her writing has received recognition through awards, invitation to the New York Conference on College Composition and Communication, and citations in scholastic works and legal texts. Her journalism experience includes projects with AOL's Patch Network and CBS Local Media Pittsburgh.

Described as "a psychological and thoughtful novel of suspense" by Midwest Book Review, Martin's first novel, "in wake of water," was published in Oct. 2011. Less than a year later, her second work, "pig," hit the market after being honored as a Second Prize Quarterfinalist in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest.

Guest Post by Sarah Martin

Juggling Genres in the Modern Market

I had a little extra cash in my pocket the other day, so I stopped at a used bookstore to search for a few titles I’ve been meaning to read for some time. First on my list was “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert Pirsig.

Tiny wire basket in hand, I waltzed over to the Psychology section, where I found everything but Zen. So I moved on to Metaphysics, where my crisis was not resolved. I turned to the Self-Help section. No help there! The plot continued to thicken in the Fiction/Literature aisles.
As a last resort, I decided to look in the Eastern Studies section. Lo and Behold, there sat a tattered copy of Pirsig’s acclaimed work! I’d found it at last. The hunt was over, and I was relieved.

Still, I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself and shake my head in a gesture caught somewhere between disbelief and defeat. I’ve never read “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” but even I knew that it was no more about “Zen” than it was about “Motorcycle Maintenance.” 
Obviously, a quick-handed agent of the bibliopole had improperly shelved the book based on a cursory glimpse of the title alone.

Next on my list was “Son of a Witch,” Gregory Maguire’s follow-up to his novel-made-musical, “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.” I scanned the Fiction/Literature section of the store, since, without question, Maguire’s work has already risen to more than pulp status.

Not surprised to not find it there, I eyed the Paperback Fiction section, in case someone didn’t hold Maguire in as high esteem as did I. Greggy-boy wasn’t there; nor was he in the Witchcraft section, where I thought the same quick-handed agent might have mistakenly filed him away.
I eventually found “Son of a Witch” in the Mythology/Folklore section, along with the other books in Maguire’s “Wicked” series. Mythology/Folklore? Really?!?

I’d had enough. I was mentally exhausted by the entire ordeal. I ended my search in the physical world, deciding to purchase what books I had in hand and search for the others online.
Driving home from the bookstore, I was fuming mad. Was there something wrong with that God-forsaken, over-glorified bookrack? Worse yet, was there something wrong with me? Had they put certain books in the wrong sections, or had I looked in the wrong sections for certain books? Was this laziness or miseducation on what categorizes what?

And this wasn’t the first time I’d contemplated the complexities of classification. I’d thought over them only a couple months earlier—not as a reader of books, but as the writer of my most recent release, “pig.”

"Pig" is the story of Lily, a woman holding on to too much pain and too many secrets, including a big secret she's keeping from herself. The entire novel takes place at her husband's funeral, where she sits alone on a couch in the corner, desperately clinging to a scrap of paper she refuses to reveal.

The narrative comes from Lily's memories, as stirred by the familiar faces of funeral home patrons. Domestic abuse, graphic sex, and devastating loss are but a few of the past events reawakened by Lily's reflections—as are love, mothering, and redemption.

“Pig” taunts its reader with psychological suspense, leaving him turning e-page after e-page to find out how Lily’s husband got in that box, what she’s holding in her hand, and, ultimately, what it takes for a troubled woman to finally let go. Stepping into Lily's past to answer the present questions, the reader is taken on a rollercoaster ride of plot twists and narrative turns where he is shaken, unsettled, and reminded that some stories just aren't meant to have happy endings.

So… what kind of book does this sound like to you? Of course, I hope you’ll say it sounds like a good book, but we both know that’s not what I mean. What I’m asking is: How would you classify this book into an existing genre?

Our friends at the used bookseller would, I assume, have an easy time with this one. Unless they tossed it into the Agriculture section because the title is “pig,” they’d likely place it in the Fiction New Releases portion of the store when it first came out, maybe amidst the Paperback Fiction collection if it had a soft spine.

I’d love for it to be shelved in the Fiction/Literature stacks, as it definitely is Fiction and I can only hope that it is one day regarded as true Literature.

But the mere placement of my book on a physical shelf was not the issue I faced some months ago, and not just because my book is currently available exclusively in digital format. The issue I faced was tossing it alongside other reads on a digital shelf. I wondered: Into which of the dozens of existing genres should I classify my work?

My question was only further confounded by certain facts: (1) any business-minded person knows that cross-categorizing a product increases its exposure, in turn, optimizing sales; and, (2) Amazon gives you the option of listing your book in as many as three different categories.

Three! One would think it would be easier to place a work into three categories than to place it into one. But it’s not.

Amazon’s Literature & Fiction tab seemed to be an obvious choice for my novel, though that one choice burdened me to make other choices. On the site, there are 20 subgenres listed under the Literature & Fiction genre, some of which continue to splinter off into sub-subgenres and the suchlike.

The Mystery, Thriller & Suspense tab may seem unintimidating at first, as it has only four second-tier subgenres. But don’t be fooled—those four spider-web out, out, and out some more.

Between these two top-level genres, there were quite a few subcategories into which I could have placed “pig,” and a couple more above them that would’ve worked too. But there was, and is, no one, two, or three that fit my title to a T.

Psychological Thriller. Suspense. Tales of Intrigue. These are subgenres that also describe the thoughts that raced through my head when listing my book.

There’s a little Romance in “pig,” some Gay & Lesbian themes, perhaps a little Erotica in the right light. The protagonist is a female who suffers and finds salvation in her own way—this is the stuff of Women’s Fiction, no?

The boozing, violence, and crime could cast it as an Urban Life yarn, while the matters of marriage and motherhood could make it a Family Saga. It ain’t what the Greeks would consider a Tragedy, though it’s pretty damn tragic at times—maybe Drama would be a good match?

It’s set in Pittsburgh, PA, and there are references to Las Vegas. I could label it United States, right? I can’t call it British, since the English accent of a main character is faked, which is kinda funny if you think about it. Is this enough to make it a Humor tome?

I’m sure you get my point by now. Even for we who create what is read, the task of genre selection is an arduous one, made even more daunting by the fact that where we place our books determines who sees, reads, and embraces them.

I understand that Amazon’s genre breakdown is designed to make the shopping experience easier for consumers, but the leveling structure is somewhat complex and makes it easiest only for the reader who already has a very clear picture of what she wants to find.

To make matters worse, we must remember that Amazon, albeit the biggest commercial vendor in the universe, is not the only site or system out there that categorizes writers’ works. Shifts and changes in the literary world are creating new genres and subgenres at an alarming pace, resulting in a mass market with no uniform system of classifying the written word.

Not that a uniform system would help all that much anyway, considering the quick hands of the bookstore employee mentioned above, and, considering the fact that I may think my book is an apple while my reader very much considers it an orange.

Ah yes, the readers! How could I market my book to catch the most readers and/or get the most reviews? I don’t want anyone inadvertently being repelled by, or even attracted to, my writing because it was mislabeled along an already blurred line.

If I list this book as Erotica, would conservatives give it a cold shoulder? Would I lose male readers if I tag it Women’s Fiction? Are folks blistering on the Bible Belt gonna run for the hills if I brand it Gay & Lesbian?

This reviewer reads only Romance, and that fellow won’t look at anything but Genre Fiction. Ms. So-and-So likes Dystopia, whatever that is. A famous Harvard professor has a one-palate taste for “Contemporary Fiction,” but isn’t anything that’s written today “contemporary” by definition? Whom, if any, of these reviewers should I query? And what should I put in, or leave out of, my pitch?

Should I even care about any of this jazz?

Well, if I want my book to sell, I’m gonna have to. There’s no other way, really. I have to call it something, even if there was never any something I intended it to be called.

When I sit down to write, I have only one goal: to write a good book. My style of writing is marked by the fusion of traditional, as well as new, genres. Without following any recipe(s), I take a little of this and a little of that to create an unforgettable read. I don’t avoid things like adult content for fear of rejection. I don’t add a character or plot element just to make my work qualify as A, B, or C.

So, as I write with no particular genre in mind, it’s not too big a shock that a particular genre is hard for me to find. Nonetheless, juggling genres has become a personal pet peeve. For very practical reasons, I still find myself second-guessing the genres I eventually selected and asking my self, “What the Hell Did I Just Write?”

Think you can answer that one? Take a gander at “pig” and let me know what you think.

“Pig” is available for purchase on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Pig-ebook/dp/B008AY5L66.

For a daily slice of “pig,” visit http://www.facebook.com/sbrmartin.pig.

Also by sbr martin: “in wake of water,” available for purchase at http://www.amazon.com/In-Wake-Of-Water-ebook/dp/B005WOFNFG and likeable on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/inwakeofwater.

Check out sbr martin’s Goodreads author profile for blog updates, reviews, giveaways, and other cool stuff—http://www.goodreads.com/sbrmartin.

 I will be reviewing PIG at a later date. Be sure to follow my blog to be updated on future reviews and giveaways!

PIG can be purchased on Amazon. It is available in ebook here:

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

All Things Southern - The Tunnel of Love

The Tunnel of Love

All Things Southern – The Tunnel of Love

         Seems in my zest to delete all the extra photos on my phone, I only have this one picture. I took quite a few pictures to get just the right shot and I thought that I had uploaded all of them. So much for thinking!

         We live in a small community along Bayou Lafourche called Valentine. How sweet is that? Hubby’s favorite saying is, “Everyday is Valentine’s Day because we live in Valentine.” I think he says that – especially on Valentine’s Day – to avoid buying a mushy card. Although, my sweet Hubby writes me poems and love letters and leaves them around the house for me to find. (I have them all tucked safely away in a box he built for me.)

         In fact, that is what he did when he picked our wedding date. We had been engaged for a while and knowing Hubby as I do, no decision was going to be made before its time, and that meant picking a wedding date. Hubby always prays about his decisions and he takes a long time in making those decisions. I am someone who gathers facts, analyses them, and makes a decision and moves forward. That is my personality. It is not Hubby’s personality. His personality likes to gather information, and then gather more information (praying in his case) and then they want more information.

         My personality is sitting, no make that standing and toe tapping, waiting for him to make a decision; Me of little patience! I usually pray and tell God to give me a billboard that I can view the decision I should be making as I fly by. I am a testament to the fact that God does takes our personalities into account when showing us His way.

         Hubby always has a “dilemma” as I like to refer to his decision making. Every time he sits down and says, “I was thinking”, it sets off bells and whistles in my head. “Oh no! He has a dilemma!” is what I begin thinking.

         But, getting back to leaving little notes around the house, that is exactly what he did when he finally figured out just the right date on which to be married. I woke up one morning and found a note with a clue on the pillow. That note lead to another note, to another, and finally the last clue, which held the date he had chosen. He was so excited as he followed me around the house as I found the clues (which were easy because I just do not get clues!)

         The date he had chosen, now our anniversary date, was April 19. Now – do you want to know why he finally chose this date? I am going to tell you anyway. The answer is not quite so romantic, but given the way he thought up clues, I let it slide. He chose the 19th because his birthday is on the 19th and he knew the date would be easy for him to remember. He told me he would always remember April 19 because his birthday is May 19. He also knew that having forgotten my birthday one year, the date thing was important for him to remember.

         What are you going to do but love this guy? That is why everyday in Valentine is Valentine’s Day.
         Back to the picture! We planted crepe myrtles down the driveway and this spring when they bloomed, their tips were touching. It is as though you are walking through a tunnel. All that is missing is the horse and carriage, although for Calypso and Ryka, they have ridden through the tunnel of love in a wagon hooked to the lawn mower. It brings new meaning to “Lucky Dogs”.

         Happy Valentine’s Day from Valentine, Louisiana! I hope you find your tunnel of love.
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Monday, July 9, 2012

Grub Street Reads - Quality Indie Books Endorsement

Grub Street Reads Highlights Quality Indie Books With New Endorsement Standard 

SAN DIEGO, JULY 2012 – The last few years have seen explosive growth in the number of authors choosing to self-publish. As more and more indie novels flood the market, readers have struggled to distinguish good quality from poor. A newly-launched company is seeking to solve this problem by instituting a quality standard for indie novels.

Grub Street Reads offers its coveted endorsement seal to fiction indie novels that pass an evaluation process based on fundamental and objective components of good storytelling. The company was founded by Jessica Bennett and Leslie Ramey, both independently-published authors and successful business owners.

“Right now, we’re experiencing an indie publishing Renaissance. With the rise of online book retailors and the proliferation of e-readers, it’s easier than ever for indie authors to get their books into the hands of readers,” said Grub Street Reads co-owner Leslie Ramey. “Unfortunately, this ease of distribution encourages a lot of indie authors to publish before they are ready, which plays into the pervasive indie stigma of low quality. Grub Street Reads was created to change that. Our endorsement spotlights great indie titles.”

Grub Street Reads accepts all genres of fiction for evaluation. The company’s evaluation system was developed to be as objective as possible. Submitted manuscripts are read by trained evaluators who assess them based on the following core storytelling principles: Plot, Characters, Pace, Accuracy, Grammar/Layout, and Overall Assessment. Manuscripts that meet these basic standards in each category earn the Grub Street Reads endorsement. Authors may include the Grub Street Reads seal on the cover of their endorsed novel and post it in the Grub Street Reads library. The price for an evaluation is based on the length of the submitted manuscript.

“The indie book market is in desperate need of a standard,” said company co-owner Jessica Bennett. “The Grub Street Reads endorsement seal will become synonymous with quality, finally making it easy for readers to discover great new indie books. As voracious readers ourselves, Leslie and I understand how a good story can touch a reader’s soul. Grub Street Reads facilitates that magic by connecting readers to the best indie novels on the market.”

Those interested in finding out more about Grub Street Reads, learning about the company’s evaluation process, submitting a manuscript for evaluation and/or accessing the company’s endorsed book library can visitwww.GrubStreetReads.com.

Grub Street Reads seeks to encourage higher readership of indie authors by providing a quality standard for independently published novels. The Grub Street Reads endorsement is given to those books that pass an evaluation process based on the fundamental qualities of good storytelling.  The company was created by indie authors Jessica Bennett and Leslie Ramey to protect authors and readers and help strengthen the overall indie market.  For more information, visitwww.GrubStreetReads.com

Cutting Through The Ebook Muckiness
By Jessica Bennett

As savvy readers, you may have noticed some changes happening in the world of books over the last five years or so. You know, how book stores have been making like dinosaurs, how this little thing called a Kindle has started popping up at beaches and airports like dandelions, and how Amazon has kicked down the barriers to publishing with a resounding BANG!

In other words, “topsy-turvy” wouldn’t be such a bad description of how things have been going. It’s been a good time for self-published authors who can now upload their books on Amazon for free in less than an hour. For readers, well, the results are more than a little mixed.

It’s certainly refreshing to have so many additional reading choices, but the problem with the “no barriers to publishing” policy that Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online retailers have established is…well, there are no barriers.

I love authors, especially indie authors, but even I have to admit, there’s a lot of “ebook muck” out there. I define “muck” as those books that just aren’t polished enough to appeal to the average reader. You know you’ve got a mucky book on your hands when the plot has enough holes in it to second as a sieve; when the characters are so cardboard you worry that a light spring shower will do them in; when the story is so predictable that it’s won stereotype bingo a dozen times by the end.   The biggest muck red flag (in my opinion) is consistent grammatical errors throughout the book. If an author won’t even splurge for a proper copyedit (there are tons of great, professional copyeditors offering their services), it makes me wonder how serious they are about the whole “publishing a great and entertaining creative work” endeavor in the first place.

Mucky books are no good for anybody, and that’s the point of this blog post. Authors who self-publish too early set themselves up for poor reviews, poor sales and a poor reputation. For readers, opening a mucky book is like accidentally taking a big swig of curdled milk. Not only will this cause much gagging and spitting, but the reader will be twice shy before picking up another quart of milk at the store. This is a shame, because there are some truly talented indie authors on the scene. Trust me, I’ve read a lot of them.   

So what is a poor, harangued reader to do? Distinguishing great indie books from the rest of the muck isn’t as easy as it might seem. Most authors, even those with muckiest of the muck, can convince some sympathetic friends and family to write five-star reviews on Amazon.

You can probably tell that I’m working my way up to something here. Right you are. There is a way to find great indie books without getting your hands mucky. I made it. Well, my business partner, Leslie Ramey, and I made it. Grub Street Reads is a new business that endorses books that meet a strict quality standard based on the fundamental components of good storytelling.

All you readers are in luck, because Grub Street Reads officially launches today (whoo-hoo for us!), and our library is already stocked with some pretty stellar endorsed books.

So, if you’re looking for a reasonably-priced new novel to add to your reading list, we invite you to take a stroll down Grub Street and swing by our endorsed books library. We have books available in almost every genre, and our library grows each week, so check back regularly.

If you’re an indie author, you’re definitely invited too! We’d like to explain why we think quality standards are necessary to protect readers and authors. We also want tell you more about what our endorsement is all about in case you’d like to see our endorsement seal on your book’s cover one day.

To wrap things up, the book world may feel like it’s turned upside down. There’s certainly a lot of muckiness out there, but that doesn’t mean readers need to get mired in bad books. Take the high road, which will lead you to Grub Street Reads and better indie books. We’re officially open today, so come by and say hello!  

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