Archive for the ‘Guest Post’ Category

Stranger Danger – Guest Post – Sheriff Robert Kahn

Thursday, July 30th, 2015

The way that Bobby and Mandee’s: To Safe For Strangers developed was a fluke.

A reserve deputy and I were requested to teach a latch key class, to 6 children after school. On the way there, we decided to teach “NO, GO TELL”, which was a stranger lesson. The deputy and I were there for 90 mins and we left.

Two days later, the latch key teacher called and told me “you are not going to believe what happened last night. Three of the children, one being my son, were playing in the park while the adults were watching a softball game. A man drove up in a van, walked over to the children and said “HEY KIDS, I HAVE PUPPIES IN MY VAN, WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE THEM? The children ran off to their parents and told them what had just taken place. I believe if it weren’t for the lesson a few days past, that the children would have gone with the man and more than likely it wouldn’t have had a good ending”.

I went and spoke to the sheriff, about this incident and he responded “let’s develop a pilot program and perfect the stranger danger program for our county.” This was the start of the TOO SAFE FOR STRANGER PROGRAM.

This program became so successful, that I decided to write this book, having the two main characters be my children, Bobby and Mandee.

About the Author:

Bob Kahn has a Master’s Degree in Education. He was a sixth grade teacher for ten years. He became concerned with the drug and gang problems that are plaguing our nation.

He became a D.A.R.E. instructor. While teaching D.A.R.E., he perfected a program he calls “too smart for strangers.” His program has foiled twenty-two stranger abductions. His first book Too Safe for Strangers is based on this program. His other books on children’s safety reflect his knowledge of working with children and helping them deal with today’s problems.

He lives in Nevada with his wife Kandee and two children Bobby and Mandee (of course).

Review: All Marketers Are Liars – Seth Godin

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Portfolio Trade; Reprint edition (April 24, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1591845335
ISBN-13: 978-1591845331
Order book here:


Order E-book here:


Seth Godin, marketing guru and successful author of several books, has an approach that you either like or don’t like. Still, most of us can’t argue with his logic. If you are tired of the same old boring marketing advice, then Mr. Godin might serve as a breath of fresh air. I have been a fan of Godin for a while, so it’s only natural that I would jump at the chance to read All Marketers Are Liars: The Power of Telling Authentic Stories in a Low Trust World. I expected typical Godin style writing in this book as well with its in-your-face approach, punchy headlines, and deep insight packed into concise content. (Godin’s books are usually around 200 pages or less.) That is exactly what I got with this book. What I did not expect was the way Godin would approach the subject of marketing. By titling the book with an oxymoron (not to mention paradoxical statement), I wasn’t sure how Godin would approach the concept of marketing. How do you promote a book on marketing when your first four lines are “All Marketers Are Liars?”

It turns out that readers won’t have to wait long to find the answer. In this book, Godin tackles the whole concept of marketing in fewer than 200 pages. He begins by redefining the concept of marketing in the first place. Marketing, Godin says, is not something that only businesses do to get customers, followers, or media attention. It is something we all do and we need to be good at it. Whether it’s for a job, to win an argument, get donations, or just an extra piece of cake, we all use information that we need to convey and persuade to others to get what we want. That insight was not new to me and to fellow fans of marketing books.

What is different is Godin’s next argument. To get what we want, Godin says, we have to sell people a story, not the product itself. In saying this, Godin doesn’t intend for marketers (which now happens to be all of us) to remove all references to the products we are promoting. Instead, he is saying that the story (which he cleverly calls a “lie”) is more important than the product itself from a consumer viewpoint. In other words, you don’t need those fancy sneakers that have night vision and rocket boosters. You just need a shoe. Marketers should tell you a good enough story that you want that particular shoe and tell others to buy that shoe as well. That is the way Godin sees that businesses will survive in the future. The rest of the book explains how and why Godin might be right.

OK, a potential reader might say, I can understand Godin’s argument, but why read the book? That starts when you get to Godin’s answer to creating the story that will lead to marketers getting results. Godin doesn’t just suggest that you lie. He suggests that you create an “authentic” lie. It sounds paradoxical, I know, but Godin suggests that your potential audience doesn’t just want to hear any story. They want to hear a story that is true for what they need or want. This is where the book is the most interesting and the most insightful. Godin convincingly argues that we are not in the same old age of marketing that we were once in (a common theme of this book), but in a new era. That new era requires new rules and new action. The first step is a new mind-set with this book.

Besides the obvious insights I mentioned above, why would a potential reader be interested? Well, if you are a Seth Godin fan that is reason enough. The book is typical Seth Godin, featuring the same insight found in Seth Godin’s other books Linchpin, Purple Cow and Free Prize Inside: The Next Big Marketing Idea. If you are not a fan, then this book still has merit as an idea-shifter. If you a person looking to revitalize your approach to marketing, this book is a great idea-starter. You won’t find all of the ideas and materials you need, but you will gain a new mind-set. As a precaution, you may want to check out Seth Godin’s blog first to get acquainted with how Seth Godin writes.

Angie Picardo is a writer for NerdWallet, a financial literacy website where you can find advice on understanding personal finance.

About the Author

You can discuss this here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

Guest Post: Prologue – Peter Bart – Author of Infamous

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

By Peter Bart,
Author of Infamous Players: A Tale of Movies, The Mob (And Sex)

The projection room was dark except for the surreal images dancing across the screen. There were twenty plush seats, but I was the room’s only occupant. The voices of the two actors on the screen resonated in the empty room as they enacted their scene over and over again but their performances were utterly robotic, as though they were channeling lines that were completely alien to their inner thoughts.

I was watching rushes, or dailies, as they are called, and I was alone because none of my colleagues were willing to share this ordeal. I was the most junior member of the executive staff and hence was delegated this dubious responsibility. The scene I was reviewing had been shot two days earlier and would ultimately become a key moment in a lavishly expensive movie titled Darling Lili.

It starred Julie Andrews and Rock Hudson, playing lovers brought together in France amid the rigors of World War I. And that, indeed, was the problem that I was observing­ — Andrews and Hudson as lovers. According to the script, Andrews, a spy, was assigned to seduce Hudson, an American war hero, to elicit important war secrets, but their supposedly steamy love scene had as much fizzle as day-old beer.

Julie Andrews, totally believable as the faithful governess in Mary Poppins, was never a threat to Marilyn Monroe as a sex goddess. As for Hudson, his predilection for men was becoming widely suspected in Hollywood. Their mutual disinterest, if not distaste, was abundantly visible in take after take as they embraced and kissed and then, when the director yelled “cut,” they wiped their lips and breathed a sigh         of relief. The director, Blake Edwards, was Andrews’s husband, and he obviously empathized with his wife’s dilemma, but still, the scene was an important one, and a semblance of passion had to be generated, irrespective of how many takes it would require.

I watched five takes and could not cope with any more. As I exited, I noticed the door to the projection booth was ajar. “Those two really have the ‘hots’ for each other,” called out the projectionist, his tone heavy with sarcasm.

I smiled, but I also found myself wincing. What was I doing here? How did I reach the point in my alleged career when I was witnessing two stars feign passion — actors who clearly wanted nothing to do with each other?

Had my life become this surreal?

I would find myself asking that question again some four years later at perhaps the defining moment of my Paramount odyssey. After a tortured period of preproduction, The Godfather was about to start shooting in New York. The fortunes of the fabled studio rested in the hands of Francis Coppola and his balky star, Marlon Brando. The corporate apparatchiks at Paramount’s parent company, Gulf & Western, were openly skeptical about the project. Their nervousness was shared by representatives of New York’s Italian community who believed that the movie would reflect badly on them, and they were making their feelings felt in a variety of ways. A bomb threat forced the evacuation of the Gulf & Western headquarters building on 58th Street. Robert Evans received a threatening phone call. A committee from an Italian-American group demanded to read the script, and members of one of the prominent Mafia families sent out word that they wanted to be involved in the casting process.

Charles Bluhdorn, the chairman of the G & W conglomerate, was in a frenzy of anxiety, and Evans shared his agitation because he was receiving admonitions of caution from his new best friend, Henry Kissinger, the top adviser to President Nixon. Ponderous and reserved, Kissinger had become a fairly regular visitor to Evans’s house, and Evans was seeing to it that his evenings were spent in the company of beautiful women. Kissinger had been on edge about the impact of column items identifying him with Evans, but now, as word of Mafia pressures leaked to the press, his concerns took on an added dimension.

The rumblings about The Godfather worried Charles Bluhdarn for still another reason. Even as his company was producing a movie about the Mafia, he was in negotiation with financiers who had close ties to the mob community — ties that were more obvious, if not to Bluhdorn, to government inves­ tigators.

So this was, in a sense, a perfect storm. The studio was exposing the Mafia at the very time when its corporate parents were engaged in dealings with them. And meanwhile, the top power player in the Nixon administration was partying at the home of the chief of production.

Again I wondered, how did I get to this place?

The above is an excerpt from the book Infamous Players: A Tale of Movies, The Mob (And Sex) by Peter Bart. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.

Copyright © 2012 Peter Bart, author of Infamous Players: A Tale of Movies, The Mob (And Sex)

Author Bio
Peter Bart,
author of Infamous Players: A Tale of Movies, The Mob (And Sex), spent seventeen years as a film executive (at Paramount, MGM, and Lorimar Film Co.), only to return to print as editor in chief of Variety. Along the way, he was responsible for seven books, including Shoot Out, written with Peter Guber. He is now the host of Movie Talk, a weekly television show broadcast here and abroad.

For more information please visit, and follow the author on Facebook

Guest Post: Hollywood Movie Revival – Peter Bart

Thursday, May 10th, 2012
Hollywood Movie Revival
By Peter Bart,
Author of
Infamous Players: A Tale of Movies, The Mob (And Sex)

There’s a significant revival of interest in the movies of the ’60s and  ’70s. Films ranging from The Godfather to Easy Rider, from Nashville to Midnight Cowboy have become iconic in our pop culture.

Those of us who were lucky enough to work in the film industry of that period are often asked, “Could those films be made in today’s Hollywood?” My answer is a resounding ‘no’ and the reasons are simple.

The key aim guiding studio decision-making in that period was to surprise even shock the audience. Today’s film executives are eager to re-capture the familiar. The most important resource to tap into is “awareness,” not surprise.

Studio tentpoles are predicated on giving filmgoers something they’ve seen before and hopefully will want to experience again.   The upshot, of course, is the abundance of sequels, prequels and remakes.   The success of “21 Jump Street” has underscored an appetite to re-cycle the ’80s by remaking films like “Robocop”, “Dirty Dancing,” and a new “Die Hard”.

Geriatric action stars like Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone and even Arnold Schwarzenegger are in demand again. Even Billy Crystal is coming back as a leading man.  Hence, while there is a desire to revisit the past, the intent is not to re-discover films that changed the landscape of pop culture. Instead, there’s a search for re-cycled superheroes.

The Tribeca Film Festival caused some surprise by booking “The Avengers” as the centerpiece for its closing extravaganza, after a two-week menu of art pictures and documentaries. This tentpole offers audiences the chance not to revisit just one superhero of the past but a veritable who’s who of heroic retreads. They include Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Captain America and  even the Incredible Hulk.

Hence fest-goers, too, can enjoy a return to the familiar — the Avengers comic book dates back to 1963.

The decision to showcase The Avengers is intriguing in that festivals are customarily irrelevant to the superhero genre of motion pictures, as are the major film critics. Tentpoles need tweets and viral buzz, not the approval of cineastes.

Most of all, tentpoles, with their enormous costs, need instant awareness.  The auras of books like the Harry Potter series or Hunger Games can create a foundation for that awareness. So can some comic books and video games.  By and large, the game-changing films of the ’60s and 70s emanated from original film ideas or obscure books. Even the Godfather was an unpublished and incomplete manuscript when it was acquired by Paramount. The motivation behind such films as Bonnie & Clyde was to provide culture shock, not to capitalize on an existing franchise. Films of that era opened in a very few theaters and ultimately found an audience.

Culture shock actually was a rewarding experience. Hopefully audiences may again get to experience it in films some day.

© 2012 Peter Bart, author of Infamous Players: A Tale of Movies, The Mob (And Sex)

Author Bio

Peter Bart, author of Infamous Players: A Tale of  Movies, The Mob (And Sex), spent seventeen years as a film executive (at Paramount, MGM, and Lorimar Film Co.), only to return to print as editor in chief of Variety. Along the way, he was responsible for seven books, including Shoot Out, written with Peter Guber. He is now the host of Movie Talk, a weekly television show broadcast here and abroad.

For more information please visit and Amazon

Guest Post: Words with Friends – Larry D. Rosen

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Words With Friends: Another Stupid Game — or an Obsession?
We are becoming obsessed with our smartphones and all that they can do.
By Larry D. Rosen, Ph.D,
Author of iDisorder: Understanding Our Obsession with Technology and Overcoming its Hold on Us

The New York Times Magazine ran a fascinating cover story on April 4, 2012 written with wisdom, humor and insight by Sam Anderson. Anderson’s basic premise is that the concept of gaming has changed. For decades, a special class of teen or young adult gamer would use specialized systems, to play complex multi-player, multi-level games that might last from a few hours to many days or even weeks. Now, however, anyone can play a quick game — what Anderson terms a “stupid game” — any time of the day or night right there on their smartphone that rests somewhere next to their body 24/7. And this, Anderson argues, has changed the world of gaming to ” . . . not just hard-core gamers, but their mothers, their mailmen and their college professors. Consumers who never would have put a quarter into an arcade or even set eyes on an Xbox 360 were now carrying a sophisticated game console with them, all the time, in their pockets or their purses.

For decades I scrupulously avoided video games even when my four children delighted in playing them. I think that I once played Pong and perhaps Donkey Kong in a bar somewhere but that was under duress and the influence of a few beers. I have never played a video game that resides on a console although I have watched, fascinated, as young children seem to understand intuitively what actions to take to make the next level or win the game. Just last night I watched my friend’s 9-year-old son sit down at a game console in a restaurant as we were waiting to be seated and without even glancing at the instructions, he popped in two quarters and played.

I have, however, always enjoyed card games and board games, particularly those that required thought or cunning to win the game. I consider myself a pretty good Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit player and delighted in winning nearly every Monopoly game with my children (I used a unique strategy that I refuse to divulge as I plan to use it with my grandchildren!). My iPhones (I have owned four of them) have always come with a hefty game center in the App Store, which, as you might guess, I have avoided like the plague. Until someone pointed out Words With Friends!

Arghhhh! I shall mark that day on my calendar as the day that my life — and my brain — changed. And I am pretty sure that it changed for the worse.

As soon as I downloaded WWF I was hooked. Now I am playing a dozen games with multiple players (all of my opponents are personal friends, as I think it is a bit bizarre to play with people you don’t know, although it is a good way to meet new people). In his NYT article Sam Anderson relayed a similar situation with his wife: “My wife, who had never been a serious gamer, got one and became addicted, almost immediately, to a form of off-brand digital Scrabble called Words With Friends. Before long she was playing 6 or 10 games at a time, against people all over the world. Sometimes I would lose her in the middle of a conversation: her phone would go brinnng or pwomp or dernalernadern-dern, and she would look away from me, midsentence, to see if her opponent had set her up for a triple word score.”

That is so true! Anderson’s wife sounds like me, and like everyone else that I play with. I am beginning to see patterns in my WWF friends (I call them that even though two are colleagues, one is my partner, one is a student in my lab and two are other people that I know very well). At first I said that I was going to “just play at night” after watching Rachel Maddow and Anderson Cooper but before The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. Pretty soon I found myself pausing the news and jumping in and making a few plays, and then returning to the news. Then, I think I said “to heck with it” and left the news on and played WWF with the news as background. Now, who cares about the news. Who cares about anything. WWF RULES!

I confess that I am now addicted. But is it truly an addiction or is there more to it? I don’t feel like an addict. I am not shirking my responsibilities at home (I still cook every night although one night I had to grab a cooked chicken because I got into a vicious back-and-forth WWF game with someone — and I WON!) nor is my work suffering. I still teach, still write, but something is happening and I think that I know what it is. What I am feeling, I believe, is a compulsion. Somewhat like Jack Nicholson in “As Good As It Gets,” I feel as though if I don’t do a certain behavior — i.e., play WWF — I will meet with some dire consequence. I am not washing my hands constantly or locking and unlocking my doors, nor am I avoiding cracks when I walk in the neighborhood. But I feel anxiety much as Jack did when I spot my smartphone. And the anxiety is “I wonder if so-and-so played a word and I better check and play one, too.”

As I sit and stare at my phone wondering about WWF, I am not feeling the discomfort that someone feels when he or she has a true psychological addiction. I am not even hoping that playing will bring me pleasure. What I am feeling is an intense NEED to play or rather to check in to see who has played. And when I do play I don’t feel that rush of dopamine, which feels like pleasure. What I feel is . . . nothing. But then my phone beckons to me and I slide to the last page of apps (I made myself put the WWF app on the last page to make it more difficult to get to. What a fool! It must take me all of a second to flick a few times and it literally pops out at me when I get to that page) and press my finger on the icon and, voila, my games appear!

So, what do I think is happening? I had some time to think about this the other day. I was at public radio studio, waiting to go on a noontime radio broadcast followed by a TV taping. Since I always arrive early I had lots of time and only my phone to keep me busy. I knew that I was going to talk about this on the air so I spent some time with my phone in front of me trying to analyze what might be going on in my brain. Wow! After just a few minutes of “thinking” I somehow found myself looking at a WWF screen of 12 ongoing games. How did I get there? Well, partially I think it was a habit and partially I think I was compelled to do so in a way that resided just below the surface of conscious activity. Sure sounds like a compulsion to me.

How do I plan to break this compulsion? I have started giving myself “WWF Time” where I grant myself the option to play for 15 minutes and no more and then put my phone away, out of sight, and do something else for 45 minutes. I set a timer (on my phone, of course) and when it rings I play and when it rings again I stop. Not sure if it will work as I have only been doing this for a week but I am finding that the 45 minutes is going by pretty quickly now compared to the crawling seconds and minutes that appeared to barely move the first few times I waited for my WWF Time.

Do you feel compelled by your technology? Do certain games or activities that you do on the phone beckon to you? This is one of the main points of my new book, iDisorder: Understanding Our Obsession With Technology and Overcoming its Hold on Us, where I devote two chapters to obsessions and compulsions surrounding technology. Let me know what you think.

© 2012 Larry D. Rosen, Ph.D, author of iDisorder: Understanding Our Obsession with Technology and Overcoming its Hold on Us

Author Bio

Larry D. Rosen, Ph.D., author of iDisorder: Understanding Our Obsession with Technology and Overcoming its Hold on Us, is past Chair and Professor of Psychology at California State University, Dominguez Hills. He is a research psychologist and computer educator, and is recognized as an international expert in the “Psychology of Technology.” Over the past 25 years, Dr. Rosen and his colleagues have examined reactions to technology among more than 30,000 children, teens, college students, and adults in the United States and in 23 other countries. He has been quoted in numerous media outlets, including The New York Times, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, CNN, and Good Morning America and writes a regular blog for Psychology Today.

For more information please visit

Guest Post – Eldon Taylor: Author – I Believe

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

The Mind-Body Belief System


Research with placebos—nontherapeutic substances are commonly thought of as sugar pills—is also telling when it comes to the role of belief and the function of the mind in matters of wellness. When the faith and expectation of a subject invests in the power of the placebo, amazing things happen. What’s more, the treatment is relative to the condition, so one false pill can treat pain half as well as aspirin and half as well as morphine. Not surprisingly, telling the patient that the same tablet increases discomfort will result in just that.

Placebos don’t have to be pills; they can be creams, injections, or even surgery. Just as interesting, the effect is larger if you increase the dosage size—say a larger capsule or two of them. Further, research shows that a branded item works better than a plain one, one in a shiny box elicits greater results than one in a plain package, a capsule trumps a tablet, with an injection working even better. If you use fancy, expensive-looking, sophisticated equipment, it yields even more dramatic outcomes. The bottom line is that the greater the expectation, the greater the effect. In other words, building a strong belief creates the foundation for the result.

There are still more revealing facts about placebos that dovetail directly into our human psychology. For example, color is often employed to evaluate mood states, as in the Lüscher Color Test. The validity of this test has been determined to be overall 81 percent in agreement with the Taylor-Johnson Temperament Analysis. So how does color correlate with the placebo effect? Well, blue is more effective as a “downer,” and red is the preferred color for an “upper.” Further, as Daniel Keogh and Luke Harris point out in their very informative Internet film, studies have shown that people who take their medication on a regular basis are much less likely to die than those who don’t adhere to their drug regimen, even if they’re only taking placebos. If that’s not enough to convince you of the power of belief, then try this one. Again, the creators of the aforementioned film point out that placebos can also be addictive. In one study, 40 percent of the women who’d taken an inactive medication for five years suffered withdrawal symptoms.

Remember that by definition, there’s no medical value to a placebo. It’s not what’s in the substance that matters but what we put in it via our belief. Clever researchers can weight our belief by feeding an already expectant psychology with the right color, shape, size, and so forth to further ensure the maximum effect! That’s right, a genuine medical result from a nonmedical intervention. It’s clearly our minds that have the power.

The Authority Figure

Several years ago, I conducted research that involved patients diagnosed with cancer. I used a cognitive approach by employing an audio recording (my Innertalk technology) designed to fundamentally influence what the subjects thought to be true, generating a positive outlook and confidence in the body’s ability to heal itself. In other words, the design of the study sought to measure the influence of a change in beliefs on the progression of cancer.

In short, this is what we found: First, every single patient who believed that the mind had a role in wellness, and whose physician believed this as well, was in complete remission (no evidence of cancer). By contrast, every single individual whose doctor reported that the mind had no role in wellness was dead. In a sense, it didn’t matter what the patient thought within this latter group—it all depended upon the medical authority.

Even though this was just a small test group, the results disturbed and puzzled me. That puzzlement changed recently when science learned through the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) that “parts of the prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortices, which play key roles in vigilance and skepticism when judging the truth and importance of what people say, were deactivated” in the presence of an authority. While the first study I noticed of this nature was about the clergy, other studies show that this effect includes anyone we think of as an authority.

Similar to the power of the placebo, it appears that the health-care professional can reverse the positive by informing us that matters are out of our hands, and as with the cancer patients in the study, we’ll just surrender to their preconceptions and die.


It now seems obvious: What we believe predisposes our expectation and behavior. It directly influences our health, sense of well-being, and even the aging process. So what is it that you anticipate? Do you think you’ll “catch” the cold, flu or other “bug” that’s going around? Do you assume you’ll be sick for a certain amount of time? Does it seem that some illnesses are more likely at a specific age, under certain conditions, or simply because of genetics? What would happen if you changed your own beliefs about this? Is it possible that you could become healthier, avoid many of the infections that go around, and recover more quickly when you do become sick? Many people are reporting just this result.

For information on the book launch, please visit here.

About Eldon Taylor

Eldon Taylor is an award-winning, New York Times best-selling author of more than 300 books, audio, and video programs. He’s the inventor of the patented InnerTalk technology and the founder and president of Progressive Awareness Research. He has been called a “master of the mind” and has appeared as an expert witness on both hypnosis and subliminal communication.

Eldon was a practicing criminalist conducting investigations and lie-detection examinations for many years. He is listed in more than a dozen Who’s Who publications, including Who’s Who of Intellectuals and Who’s Who in Science and Engineering. He is a fellow in the American Psychotherapy Association and an internationally sought-after speaker. His books and audio-video materials have been translated into more than a dozen languages and have sold millions worldwide.

Eldon is the host of the popular radio show Provocative Enlightenment. He has interviewed some of the most interesting people on the planet. His shows are thought-provoking and always fresh in both their perspective and the exchange.

Mr. Taylor is currently on tour with Virtual Book Tour Cafe’.  Please visit his other tour stops here:

March  16 –  Guest Blogging at Speculative  Friction
March  19 – Interviewed at Writing  Innovations Ezine
March  20 – Guest Blogging at Rhodes Review
March  21 – Guest  Blogging at Waiting on Sunday  to Drown
March  23 – Guest Blogging at Books Are  Cool
March  24 – Guest Blogging at Hire to  Inspire
March 26 – Guest Blogging with Margaret West
March  27 – Interviewed  at MK McClintock’s  Blog
March  28 – Interviewed at Reviews & Interviews
March  29 – Review & Interview at Black  Diamonds Book Reviews
March  30 – Guest Blogging with Cindy  Vine
April  2 – Interviewed at Dr. Ni’s Notes & Nibbles

Guest Post: Writing your surroundings – Ryan Collings

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

As writers, we constantly strive to bring our readers into our stories. For most of us, myself included, we do this by attempting to create characters that we hope the audience will connect with. We put our characters into situations that create emotional attachment for the reader.

As a fantasy writer and reader, one of the most important elements of a story for me is the environment in which the story takes place. If the reader can picture the surroundings of the character they are reading about, it will only add to their experience.  While creating vibrant landscapes and treacherous mountains are crucial in fantasy, it is equally important in all genres of writing. Give your setting as much time and effort as any other part of the story.

If your story takes place in Seattle, make sure Seattle is as important to the story as one of the main characters. Chances are many of your readers have been to Seattle, or perhaps even live there. Adding details about the city will bring life to your story.

The strange man in the blue sweater was still behind her. He had followed her up the waterfront of Elliott bay and through the Pike’s place market.

Even if your reader has never been to Seattle, adding details will in no way hinder your story. However, the lack of a good backdrop for your story will. Also, make sure you do not add details that are confusing to the reader. Continuing to use Seattle as an example, if your story has several scenes outside, make sure it is not always warm and sunny. If you have ever been to Seattle, and again many of your readers have, you know that more often than not clouds and rain are in the forecast.

Do your research. If your story takes place in real city or country, go pick up a book about that specific place. You will be amazed at the scenes you will create just by making yourself familiar with the setting for the great story you are about to write. Or have your story take place in a city that you have lived in or visited. Add detail about the local bar, a park, and use real street names. Anything you can do to make your setting real to the reader.

Be consistent; make sure you continue to paint the picture of your surroundings throughout the story. As writers we too get caught up in our own stories. Remember, that just because you have a vision in our head of what an area looks like, if you don’t put it into words the reader will be forced to create their own visuals for your story.

About the Author 

RYAN COLLINGS lives in Boise, Id. His debut Novel “Jack Ranis and the Book of the Labi” is available in paperback, kindle, and nook formats. Visit for more details.

3 people like this post.

Guest Post: Chloe Jon Paul, M. Ed. Author – This Business of Children

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

My guest blog post today is from Chloe Jon Paul author of the novel This Business of Children.  Here’s Ms. Jon Paul’s post:

As an Adult Ed teacher in Maine, I taught creative writing and Italian.  My classes were made up of adults from various backgrounds. What prompted me to teach Adult Ed was the memory of my mother.  She had to quit high school during the Depression to go work in a factory but her love for learning never ceased.  She married and raised 3 children and when she felt we were old enough (teens) to be without her supervision, she went back to school at night and earned her high school diploma at the age of 55.  Later, she began attending Harford Community College where she distinguished herself academically.  She never finished because of failing health, but she left a legacy that is wonderful. My children and I hold Masters degrees and 2 of her great-grandchildren, ages 14 and 16, are both in college.  They are highly gifted and talented students.
    In the MD State Prison system, I taught conflict resolution skills and did pre-release workshops with inmates.  As a lead facilitator for the Alternatives to Violence Project, I spent over 10 years doing this as a volunteer.  I even trained men to become co-facilitators and they were outstanding!  One group actually designed the pre-release workshop with me and at the 2004 International Conference in New Zealand, I was a presenter.  I was able to share with participants from all over the world what the men and I had designed.  This workshop enabled inmates to face the challenges they would meet upon release.


As a teacher for 35 years, I taught every grade except kindergarten.  My teaching experience extended to Adult Ed in Maine and Maryland, high school English in a Maryland psychiatric facility, and to inmates in the Maryland state prison as well.
 Teaching and writing have always been my passions.  I retired early from teaching and turned to writing full time when the death knell sounded on my creativity in the classroom.  We were being forced to “teach to the test” and that was something I refused to do.  I longed for the days when I heard students saying “ Gee whiz!  Three o’clock already?”  I knew I had to be doing something right!  The projects we planned and carried out were amazing!  How about these?

I placed my fourth graders in “medical school” to learn Greek and Latin roots:  Upon  “graduation from medical school”, the “doctors” were then invited to perform a “rootectomy”.  My classroom was turned into an X-Ray lab and operating room with supplies donated by the local hospital.

Another fourth grade class buried a 50 year time capsule, enlisting the help of various businesses to make it truly professional.  A granite marker rests at the base of the school flag At Montello Elementary School in Lewiston Maine.  It reads:

 Ms. Giampaolo’s* Fourth Grade Class
  We are the past ~ you are the future

Another one of my classes wrote a “term paper” based on their three major fears:  death, divorce, and nuclear disaster.  I wanted them to learn the key elements of writing such a paper and as a result of our playground conversations, I discovered what concerned them the most.

They weren’t satisfied with just writing about their fears. They wanted to know what other fourth graders in the school district were afraid of so they took a survey and compiled the results in bar graph displays.  Their artwork embellished the text. 

Geiger Brothers, publishers of the Farmer’s Almanac, agreed to publish the students’ work in a soft cover booklet and subsequently adopted the school with special help.

Upon being awarded a $2000 grant from the Maine State Dept. of Education for my proposal, “Unlearning Indian Stereotypes”, another one of my fourth grade classes hosted 15 children from one of the Indian reservations.  These children were paired up with some of my students for an overnight stay.
 We began with a cookout for our visitors – adults and children. Afterwards, the adults were treated to a Bed & Breakfast place and the children went off with their hosts.  The next day we had an all-day celebration with all fourth graders participating in learning about Indian culture, dance, medicine; helping to erect a teepee, and ending with a performance my fourth graders put on for our guests.
 This is just a sampling of what creative teaching can and should be.

People have asked me if I’m the character Vera in the book.  No, I’m not Vera or Dee although I must admit that there may be a little of me in both of them.  The characters, setting, and events are purely fictional and are basically a composite of people, places, and events that I have known.

While this novel is set in the mid-80’s, events currently in the news make it timely.  Consider the following:

*   On January 7,2010 Lehigh Valley‘s The Express Times reported the death of Gregory Ritter, a Bethlehem, PA area teacher who committed suicide after being accused of molesting a  student  
*  Gay men are six times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight counterparts.
*  HIV infection in the U.S. is thought to be around 1.1 million
*   We have recently commemorated the 25th anniversary of the Challenger Shuttle tragedy. 
*   The film, “Waiting for Superman” has done a great job detailing what’s wrong with our educational  system. Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft and one of the world’s richest  men, appears in this film and  explains why huge textbooks and bad teachers have to go.
*   Teachers’ unions across America continue to protest in great numbers.

 Taylor Mali, an American slam poet, humorist, teacher, and voiceover artist, writes this about a conversation over dinner about what a teacher makes:

He says the problem with teachers is
What’s a kid going to learn
from someone who decided his best option in life
was to become a teacher?
He reminds the other dinner guests that it’s true
what they say about teachers:
Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.
I decide to bite my tongue instead of his
and resist the temptation to remind the dinner guests
that it’s also true what they say about lawyers.
Because we’re eating, after all, and this is polite conversation.
I mean, you’re a teacher, Taylor.
Be honest. What do you make?
And I wish he hadn’t done that—
asked me to be honest—
because, you see, I have this policy
about honesty and bullies:
if you ask for it, then I have to let you have it.
You want to know what I make?
I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.
I can make a C+ feel like a Congressional Medal of Honor
and an A– feel like a slap in the face.
How dare you waste my time
with anything less than your very best.
I make kids sit through 40 minutes of study hall
in absolute silence. No, you may not work in groups.
No, you may not ask a question.
Why won’t I let you go to the bathroom?
Because you’re bored.
And you don’t really have to go to the bathroom, do you?
I make parents tremble in fear when I call home:
Hi. This is Mr. Mali. I hope I haven’t called at a bad time,
I just wanted to talk to you about something your son said today.
To the biggest bully in the grade, he said,
“Leave the kid alone. I still cry sometimes, don’t you?
It’s no big deal.”
And that was noblest act of courage I have ever seen.
I make parents see their children for who they are
and what they can be.
You want to know what I make?
I make kids wonder,
I make them question.
I make them criticize.
I make them apologize and mean it.
I make them write.
I make them read, read, read.
I make them spell definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful
over and over and over again until they will never misspell
either one of those words again.
I make them show all their work in math
and hide it on their final drafts in English.
I make them understand that if you’ve got this,
then you follow this,
and if someone ever tries to judge you
by what you make, you give them this.( show them the finger)
Here, let me break it down for you, so you know what I say is true:
Teachers? Teachers make a difference! Now what about you? *

* Permission given by Taylor Mali to reprint.      * JonPaul is the anglicized version of Giampaolo

As someone once said: Teaching is…the profession that makes all other professions possible.

I wish to honor and celebrate all good teachers everywhere who make a difference.

Chloe Jon Paul M.Ed.
*Retired educator (35 years exp.) 
*Recipient of the Fulbright Fellowship Seminars Abroad award to South Africa, 1996
*Lead facilitator: Alternatives to Violence Project
* Recipient of a Grant from the Maine State Dept. of Education
* Former union  activist

Guest Post – Nora Weston – Author Guardian 2632

Monday, March 21st, 2011

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Zane Grayson is tall, dark, and handsome…or maybe tall and handsome with a Scotch-Irish linage since I can’t quite picture my male protagonist. The female lead, Julia Emerson, has eyes so green they look like emeralds, but that’s all I have for her. Long tresses of honey-colored hair fit her personality, although reddish-blonde locks might be better. Alas, assigning a character’s facade can drive authors to pull out their own hair, and if this aspect of character building is ignored, it leads to flat characters without any descriptive details. Now, mind you…I don’t need to know how many hairs are on a character’s head, but give me something!

A good imagination helps, and asking fellow writers for suggestions is a wise way to go as well, but there are other alternatives to get a grip on what characters may look like. Once an author has decided the outer shell for a character, other qualities about that person are envisioned without much effort.

In Guardian 2632, Zane Grayson is a top-notch soldier, but he’s also a highly skilled military doctor, and I knew I wanted him to have dark eyes that would captivate Julia Emerson, yet his rock hard, muscular body needed a face. The fastest way for me to give Zane a face was to visit Dreamstime, iStockphoto, and shutterstock, which have thousands of photos to click on. Simply search for what you desire in a character…like dark eyes, black hair, and long bangs, and then let the magic begin.

I went through hundreds of faces, but recognizing my hero and having various photos of that person available for reference was an unbelievable feeling. Once I found Zane, I imagined him as a guy needing to live life on the edge…dying for a rush whenever possible, and I saw him as a courageous man who’d do anything to save others, especially Julia Emerson.

If using an online photo database doesn’t work for you, try magazines, and use Google to bring up photos of people who may fit the description of your character. There’s just something about the way a person smiles, or the sparkle in their eyes may say it all, and even the lines on their face tells a tale.

I studied the photos until I found that one face above all others who’d best represent Zane Grayson…and that person inspired at least a thousand words about the personality and looks of the protagonist in Guardian 2632.

How do your characters take shape? Do they resemble people you know, completely imagined, or are your characters derived from dreams?

Thanks for visiting!

Ms. Weston is currently on a virtual blog tour for BK Walker Books.

See our review of Ms. Weston’s book here

Guest Posting: Lisa Rusczyk – Author Chasing the Dark

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

Lisa Rusczyk Guest Blog

Hello, faithful readers of this blog. It’s great to be here. My name’s Lisa. I’m a novelist, freelance writer and freelance editor. My wonderful publisher Passionate Writer Publishing has set me on this virtual book tour for my book Chasing the Dark and a book of shorts done with other authors called Unloved.

I could tell you all about the books. I could tell you about how Chasing the Dark was much different than other books I’ve written. Hey! I just did! But I’d rather talk about my cats.

I have six cats. They are indoor/outdoor cats, and they are all quite beloved. First I got Micah. In the paper, there was only one ad for kittens in Nashville in April of 2002. It was for “Siamersian” kittens. What they heck are those? Three parts Siamese, one part Himalayan. Some people living out in the country invented the breed. He puked all over me on the ride home and has been puking daily ever since. Micah is the alpha cat of the household and always has to be around people. He also likes to knock things over, especially fancy wine glasses. He sleeps with me every night and his meows are expressive in every tone.

Next I got Cloud. He’s my true baby. He’s gray with a white chest, belly and nose. He has a gray freckle on that white nose. Micah beat him up for years, which made him neurotic. When he snuggles, he snuggles hard. He loves to talk back and forth. His favorite thing to do is play “mouse” with bottle lids. If anyone says the word “mouse” in casual conversation and he’s around, he maows. I’m worried because I haven’t seen him in four days. I’m going to call the pound when they open to see if he got picked up – his collar broke last week and I haven’t replaced it.

Coraline is a gray tortie we got at the pound. She’s, well, not too bright, but she’s the only cat who has never come home scratched up, keeps impeccably clean, has gorgeous whiskers and the cutest meaow. I think she understands English. If she gets on my lap after being out in the rain, I can tell her to go clean herself and come back. She’ll do just that.

Spooky is the sweetheart of the bunch. She’s a long-haired black tortie, tiny, and loves to stalk us when we eat. She was skinny even though she gets fed a lot of people food, but her belly’s growing because she’s got babies in there! We’ll have kittens in about 6 weeks. She’s a charmer. Any person or cat who comes in this house is smitten with Spooky, and I’m one of many.

Osho is the daddy of the kittens. We got Osho and Devlin, brother and sister, together. Osho is a cream color with a few tabby stripes and Devlin is a ginger. Osho worships Spooky. He follows her everywhere, snuggles with her, cleans her ears and face. When she walks in a room, his whole world lights up. Devlin is a shy little girl. To pet her is an honor, and if she snuggles, you are in an elite crowd for a moment. Devlin loves other cats, but she’s terrified of people.

Wish me luck in finding my baby Cloud. I’m counting the minutes till the pound opens.