Friday, March 29, 2013

Losing It is a fun, charming book from author, Cora Carmack.

Bliss is about to graduate college. She has one thing more important then graduating on her mind and that is losing her virginity. Yep, Bliss is a virgin. She and her friend hit the club scene. Just as Bliss is about to call it a night she meets a guy. She and he hit it off right away. They head back to Bliss's place. Only at the last moment Bliss gets cold feet. She leaves the guy naked in her bed and rushs out the door with an excuse about her cat. Thinking she can put this horrible moment away, Bliss discovers that the guy in her bed is her new professor.

Losing It is a fun, charming book from author, Cora Carmack. From the moment that I met Bliss I could not help but fall in love with her. She was a sweetheart, a bit ditzy, a good friend, and she is a happy drunk. However I would give Bliss one wiord of advice..."Don't play poker". She is a lousy lier. Although I must admit it was kind of funny watching Bliss try to get herself out of the stick situation she found herself in when she had to explain why she left Garrick lying in bed naked. I mean who really comes up with the excuse that they have to go pick up their cat at the vet's. Oh and it is a 24 hour vet, so duh like they are open at midnight. So glad that Garrick did not fall for this excuse otherwise I would have had to take away some of the brownie points that I gave him.

Some other fun moments that I had with Bliss was when she randomly broke out in spontaneous dance. It would be like the dance scene from the movie "The Breakfast Club". It was easier to find Garrick attractive and see the connection between him and Bliss because he was not that much older then her. So it was not like a Mrs. Robinson type relationship. I was glad to see that Bliss's male friend, Cade is featured in the next book, Faking It. He deserves to have his own story.    

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Don't wait Six Years to read this book. Pick up a copy now and read what all the hype is about.

Jake Fisher fell in love with a woman named Natalie. Only she married another man. She made Jake promise to not look for her and just forget her. That was six years ago. If it was not for the death notices in the newspaper then Jake may have kept his promise longer. Jake sees his chance to get with Natalie again when he reads that her husband has died. Jake decides to attend the funeral. Funny thing is that the widower is not Natalie. Things quickly spiral out of control. Jake is now on a wild goose chase to find Natalie.

It has been a while since I had read a book by Mr. Coben. Mr. Coben's newest book, Six Years appealed to me so I decided to check it out. Now after reading this book, I will not let the time elapse as long between books. I kept getting pulled into this book moe and more the further along I got. I was just as puzzled as Jake about what happened to Natalie and just who really is she. I can not imagine knowing someone and falling in love with them only to learn that everything you though you knew about them was a lie.

Jake is not really a good lier. However he has a good heart. It is kind of hard to not fall for Jake. Especially with such devotion and love for Natalie. Each person that Jake encountered in this story just seemed to add to the complexity of the overall story. I liked this. It helped to add to the intensity. The ending was a good one. It ended on a high note.

I read that this book is going to be turned into a movie starring Hugh Jackman as Jake. I can kind of picture Hugh as being Jake. I will just have to wait and see how he actually does. The only reason that I am not 100% sure is because Jake while likeable is somewhat ditzy and I don't really see Hugh as this type. However if done right this will be a good movie. Don't wait Six Years to read this book. Pick up a copy now and read what all the hype is about.  

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Rich Girls Club

Morgan Childs is part of a group known as the Rich Girls Club. She and her three good friends are members of the club. Morgan wants to do something really impressive. She comes up with the idea of having her friend, Brooks run for governor. It is time for a woman to be in office. Brooks is not sure she wants to have all of her dirty laundry aired out in public. Morgan has a sure fire plan. She and the other ladies will get in bed with the competitation. They will blackmail the others. It all sounds good until things get ugly amd someone goes after Brooks.

I have niot read a book by HoneyB. However I am a fan of erotic novels. I was a little taken back at first be the crude language that the women spoke in this book. They were just free about what they said. I know that women talk and poke fun at men and their girth but wow. I have not spoken like this before. Once I got over this, I found this bok to be a pretty good one. Again as much as I know what I am getting when I read an erotic novel, I do want the story line to be a good line and there has to be a limit to some extent on the sex. I don't want to read in every chapter abuot all of the women doing it with a different guy all the time. Must say though that if you wanted some ideas of the different types of sex and some sex toys then this book has it.

So if you strip away the language and the over use of sex then you have a good book. All of the women protrayed in this book are strong, independant, smart women. Did think it was a little insentative of Morgan to act the way she did when the tables were turned on her. For me all of the women kind of became the same for me. No one really brought anything interesting to teh story for me. Maybe Brooks a little because she did worry about her norals. Overall I spent more time kind of glossing over this book then I did really reading it. Do have to give it up for women power.


Verlaine is a hunter. He was duped by Evangeline but never again. Fool me one, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

A body appears bearing the idenitity of Evangeline. So you can imagine Verlaine's suprise when Evangeline appears back in his life. She asks for his help. She presents him with an decorative egg. Before thwy can figure out what the egg is about, Evangeline is kidnapped.

I can remember reading Danielle's first book, Angelology and liking it. Liking the book enjoy that I wanted to read the second one. I jumped right in on Angelopolis and before I knew it I was flying through the book. It is such a quick read. This book was way better then I imagined it would be. In love with Verlaine. He is one hot human. This is one of the things that I enjoy about this series is that the male lead is the human and the female is the bad angel. Even though Verlaine and Evangeline spent most of the book apart, I know that they are destine to be together. Even if it is to Verlaine's demise. Evangeline has cast a spell over Verlaine mroe then he wants to admit.

I learned more about Evangeline and her kind in this book. I can not wait to read the next book and see the show down between Evangeline and Verlaine. Which I am looking forward to. Both Evangeline and Verlaine are growing stronger. Another thing that I found cool was that this boko was split into small sections and each section was titled different themes most involving the seven sins. As much as I did have an enjoyable time reading thsi book and learning more about Evangeline. I do hope the next book had more action and maybe a fight or two.

The Secret of Ella and Micha will turn out to be like your best to be treasured, will provide you with fond memories, and will visit again and again!

Eight months ago, Ella kissed her best friend, Micha. Then she walked away from him. She is returning home for spring break a changed person. She left a girl but is coming back a woman. Her roommate, Lila is along for the ride. Ever since Ella walked out of his life, Micha can not stop thinking about her. At first Micha can not believe his eyes. Ella looks like a popular that they went to school with and not the gothic chick that Ella used to be. However Ella may have changed on the outside but Micha knows her all too well. He is the only one that can break through the walls she has put up.

I have not read a book by Jessica. The Secret of Ella and Micha is my first introduction to this author. Have to say that I liked what I read. Instantly fell for Ella and Micha. Probably more Micha then Ella. Only because I liked Micha's teasting/flirting of Ella. He has a good charm about him. He was borderline good/bad boy. However what I liked about Ella was her tomboyish and sarcastic way. It did not come out so much in this book as Ellas was trying hard to play the good gurl. Hopefully I will see more of this side of Ella in the next book.

It was obvious that Ella and Micha were in love with each other. Think like Joey and Dawson from Dawson's Creek but Micha is cooler. Once Ella gave into Micha watch out. They were hotter together. This book will be enjoyed by both the older teen and adults alike. Teens can relate to Ella and Micha and the adults can relate by remembering their first true love. I am glad to see that there will be two more books and that the third one will focus on Ella's friend, Lila and Micha's friend, Ethan. There was something there between them. The title of this book is a little misleading as it was not really a secret that Ella and Micha loved each other. The Secret of Ella and Micha will turn out to be like your best to be treasured, will provide you with fond memories, and will visit again and again!   Extra Trivia   Did you Know:   Micha's nickname for his car is "The Beast," which is also what Jessica calls her car?   Star Grove is similar to the town Jessica grew up in-it even has a drive-in and everything.   Jessica added music as one of Micha's hobbies because she realized it would be a great way for Micha to express his love for Ella.   The cas talk that goes on throughout the story was something Jessica was surrounded by growing up. The guys in her family are really into cars.

THE MAID AND THE QUEEN: The Secret History of Joan of Arc

I am familiar with the story of Joan of Arc but not the back story of how she received a strong push from a woman named Yolande of Aragon. Yolande is a mystery to me. She was strong, smart, convincing, and a great chessmaster. I call her a chessmaster because in order to play the game of chess you have to be strategic, patient, have a good game plan and anticpate your opponent's moves. Also as the saying goes "Behind every great man is a great woman".

However as much as I liked learning about Yolande, I must admit that in the beginning I found her childhood and story a bit dry. Then came JOan's story and I kind of skimmed over it as I already knew how it would end. The last third of the book was what I liked. It talked about Joan and Yolande and how they came to be. Yolande becamse more of a prominent fiigure in thie book then to me. She had a reason for everything that she did. Again still in awe of what Joan did. One of the best parts of this whole book is the foot notes. They were like extra bonuses to this book. They gave a quick fact about a person or event. I almost would have rather read the foot notes then the book. People wanting to learn more about Joan may be a little disappointed as this book is more focused on Yolande and the back story then just Joan. However if you do enjoy history then you will enjoy this book. The Maid and the Queen is some good reading.


Ben Mercy is the newest bounty hunter to join the King Fugitive Apprehension aka KFA. His first official mission is to track down and stop the number one fugitive. Ben is joined by another bounty hunter named Wolf.

Zoey Cortez’s father is a mean man. When Zoey first meets Ben, she is literally swept off her feet. The more time that Zoey spends with Ben the harder she is falling for him.

Hot Pursuit is the last book in the Bounty Hunter series. I have enjoyed reading this series. While I would not want to be pursued by a bounty hunter, I would not might being the love interest for one. Shush, just don’t tell my husband.

To be honest, while this book was not my favorite, it was alright. For me I liked both Ben and Wolf for different reasons. The perfect guy would have been someone that had Ben’s personality but with Wolf’s insatiable, sexual desire.

The story seemed a little lop-sided. In regards to there was more romance then I thought suspense. It seemed to take forever for Wolf and Ben to track down their intended target. The ending leads that maybe there might be another book in the long future. However, I am excited to see what Lorie comes up with next.

Read up on more books by Lorie.

Purchase a copy on Amazon

Lorie is hosting a contest in which one of her lucky readers will win a Kindle Fire. Full details on her website

Like Chaff in the Wind Giveaway

Publication Date: March 1, 2013

Matador (Self-Published)


Matthew Graham committed the mistake of his life when he cut off his brother’s nose. In revenge, Luke Graham has Matthew abducted and transported to the Colony of Virginia, there to be sold as indentured labour – a death sentence more or less.

Matthew arrives in Virginia in May of 1661, and any hope he had of finding someone willing to listen to his tale of unlawful abduction is quickly extinguished. If anything Matthew’s insistence that he is an innocent man leads to him being singled out for the heaviest tasks.

Insufficient food, grueling days and the humid heat combine to wear Matthew down. With a sinking feeling he realises no one has ever survived the seven years of service – not on the plantation Suffolk Rose, not under the tender care of the overseer Dominic Jones.

Fortunately for Matthew, he has a remarkable wife, a God’s gift who has no intention of letting her husband suffer and die, and so Alex Graham sets off on a perilous journey to bring her husband home.

Alex is plagued by nightmares in which her Matthew is reduced to a wheezing wreck by his tormentors. She sits in the prow of the ship and prays for a miracle to carry her swiftly to his side, to let her hold him and heal him before it’s too late. God, however, has other things to do and what should have been a two month crossing becomes a yearlong adventure from one side of the Atlantic to the other.

Will she find him in time? And if she does, will she be capable of paying the price required to buy him free?

About the Author

I was raised abroad, on a pungent mix of Latin American culture, English history and Swedish traditions. As a result I’m multilingual and most of my reading is historical - both non-fiction and fiction.

I was always going to be a writer - or a historian, preferably both. Instead I ended up with a degree in Business and Finance, with very little time to spare for my most favourite pursuit. Still, one does as one must, and in between juggling a challenging career I raised my four children on a potent combination of invented stories, historical debates and masses of good food and homemade cakes. They seem to thrive … Nowadays I spend most of my spare time at my writing desk. The children are half grown, the house is at times eerily silent and I slip away into my imaginary world, with my imaginary characters. Every now and then the one and only man in my life pops his head in to ensure I’m still there. I like that – just as I like how he makes me laugh so often I’ll probably live to well over a hundred.

I was always going to be a writer. Now I am - I have achieved my dream.

I have a copy of this book to giveaway. Just leave a comment with your email address. Contest ends April 5th. The giveaway is for one paperback copy and open internationally.

Link to Tour Schedule: Twitter Hashtag: #ChaffInTheWindVirtualTour

Monday, March 25, 2013

Anne Patrick, Betrayal, and Giveaway

Join Anne Patrick, author of the inspirational romantic suspense book, Betrayal: Wounded Heroes Series Book 3, as she tours the blogosphere March 18 through April 12 on her first Book Blast with Pump Up Your Book! Anne will be giving away a $25 Amazon GC/Paypal Cash to one lucky reader! To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form on the participating blogs below anytime during the tour and good luck!



Drew Presley's wife was murdered while he was serving his country in Iraq. Giving up a career he loved, he's returned to Dauphine Island to care for his son and try to make a new life for them. The unsolved murder of his wife continues to plague him. The islanders are very protective of their own and he fears a killer is among them. The more he searches for answers though the more dangerous it becomes. Just as troublesome is his attraction to his son's second-grade teacher.

Trudy Walsh was Nora Presley's best friend so the bond she has with Nora's motherless child is only normal. What troubles Trudy is the growing feelings she has for Reed's father. How can she be so attractive to one man when Jack Diamond is all she's ever thought about?

What secrets lie in Gianni's Cove, and what do they have to do with Nora's murder?

Purchase your copy:





Anne Patrick is the author of more than a dozen novels of Romance, Mayhem & Faith, including the award winning and bestselling WOUNDED HEROES SERIES, FIRE AND ASH, and TIES THAT BIND. Her books have garnered four-star reviews from Romantic Times, 'Top Pick' and 'Best Book' honors from Night Owl Reviews and Long and Short of It Reviews, and Five-Heart reviews from The Romance Studio. When she isn't working on her next novel she enjoys spending time with family and friends, and traveling to foreign countries to experience new cultures and adventures. Born and raised in Oklahoma, she now makes her home in Kansas.



Pump Up Your Book and Anne Patrick are teaming up to give you a chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash!

Here's how it works:

Each person will enter this giveaway by liking, following, subscribing and tweeting about this giveaway through the Rafflecopter form placed on blogs throughout the tour. This promotion will run from March 18 through April 12. The winner will be chosen randomly by Rafflecopter and announced on April 13. Each blogger who participates is eligible to enter and win. Visit each blog stop below to gain more entries as the Rafflecopter widget will be placed on each blog. If you would like to participate, email Tracee at tgleichner(at) What a great way to not only win this fabulous prize, but to gain followers and comments for your blog, too! Good luck everyone!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Betrayal Book Blast


Participating Blogs:

Monday March 18 - Beyond the Books

Tuesday, March 19 - Review From Here

Wednesday, March 20 - Book Marketing Buzz

Thursday, March 21 - Authors and Readers Book Corner

Friday, March 22 - She Writes

Monday, March 25 - Bookingly Yours

Monday, March 25 - Cheryl's Book Nook

Tuesday, March 26 - Laurie's Thought and Reviews

Wednesday, March 27 - Maureen's Musings

Thursday, March 28 -Literal Exposure

Friday, March 29 - The Writer's Life

Monday, April 1 - Redroom

Monday, April 1 - Mary's Cup of Tea

Tuesday, April 2 - Blogher

Wednesday, April 3 - Allvoices

Thursday, April 4 - As the Pages Turn

Friday, April 5 - Literarily Speaking

Friday, April 5 - Waiting on Sunday to Drown

Monday, April 8 - My Book Addiction and More

Tuesday, April 9 - My Cozie Corner

Wednesday, April 10 - Janna Shay Fair Play

Thursday, April 11 - Plug Your Book

Thursday, April 11 - Self Taught Cook

Friday, April 12 - Between the Covers

Friday, April 12 - Splashes of Joy

If you would like to join this book blast, leave a comment below with email information or email Tracee directly at tgleichner (at)


Pump Up Your Book

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Lifesaving Lessons:Notes from an Accidental Mother

The only reason that I am familiar with Linda is because of the movie, The Perfect Storm. Other then this little fact, I am not that familiar with Linda. In Lifesaving Lessons, I got a brief over view of Linda and how she got started in the business. I think she is a good woman. She has earned her respect. It is not easy to find a good balance of tough and yet still being a woman. I could see how Linda struggled at first with the idea of suddenly becoming a mother. Not only a mother but a mother to a teenager. At least when Linda is on the boat she does not have to worry about the sea creatures talking back to her or going over on their minutes due to texting.

While I could understand why Mariah was rude towards Linda in the beginning, I still thought it was not called for. Linda was just trying to be nice and help teach Mariah how to work hard. What Linda had Mariah doing on the fishing boat was not bad. I knew how the phone call was going to go when Linda learned the truth about Mariah and she called her mother to inform her. Still I was hoping that Mariah's mother would have reacted better. Mariah ended up with a better "mom" in Linda. Again glad that Linda stepped in to care for Mariah but this is not a book where you will learn any valuable lessons on how to become a mom or better parent. This is just Linda's story of how she became a mom. I am glad that the details of what happened to Mariah was briefly hinted at and not gone into detail.

The Abundance is filled with happiness, love, great food, loving characters, and a pinch of spice to make the right recipe for a best seller!

Mala and Ronak’s mother has a secret. She has terminal cancer. However is does not want her children to know as she does not want to ruin their visit home. She does not do a good job of hiding her secret. Once Mala and Ronak find out, they decide to spend more time with their mother. For Mala this means learning how to cook traditional Indian food. For Ronak, he pays a crew to plant his mother’s garden as she can not get out to do it herself.

I have not read Mr. Majmudar’s Partitions, however after reading this book I will check it out. I absolutely loved, loved this book. Yes, I said loved twice. I could not read this book fast enough.

This book is about family, love, friendship, food, and a happy ending. All filled with an intriguing cast of characters. My favorite person however is Mala and Ronak’s mother. She was kind and had such a caring heart. Even with her dying of terminal cancer she still put her family first. I thought that I would not like Mala in the beginning because she did have a bit of an edge to her but luckily it did not last long. Mala turned out to be a better mother to her two children due to her own mother and how close they became. All the yummy foods that they cooked together had my mouth watering. If books had smell-o-vision then I would be in trouble. I would have to make sure that I did not eat the book. Both Ronak and Mala and Ronak’s father were caring and warm-hearted. It was so easy to fall in love with everyone. The ending put a big smile on my face. The Abundance is filled with happiness, love, great food, loving characters, and a pinch of spice to make the right recipe for a best seller!

To learn more about this book visit:
To read an excerpt:

Friday, March 22, 2013


Neil Abbott was found knocking at deaths door after a winter storm raged over Albatross. People thought that Neil had gone mad but they were incorrect. Neil was just saving the world. However to first learn how Neil saves the world; you have to learn about the three transformational experiences that defined Neil’s life. Starting with Wondertown.
Neil and his parents are driving to visit his grandmother, Constance. Constance has a nickname for Neil and it is Rabbit. He asks her why she calls him that. Constance proceeds to tell Neil the story.

It takes place in a far off land that is divided into five regions…the Hills, forests, plains, valleys, and seas. Everything was fine until a young couple crossed the borders between the Hills and the Forests. This is where the story begins.

The illustrations are so wonderfully drawn. In great detail and color. The pictures almost leapt off my computer screen. They helped to tell the story. Another thing that helped immerse me into the book was the soundtrack. I have seen a few books with soundtracks but have never actually listened to the book’s soundtrack or at least all the way through. The songs were a perfect match to the setting of the book at that moment. What a fun thing to put together a book soundtrack. However as if this book needed any help.

The adventure of Rabbit was a good one. There were so many interesting characters that he met along the way. The ending ended on a high note. Plus it had a good moral to the story. One that everyone could learn to live by. Everyone will enjoy this book from young to old. Wondertown is full of wonder, charm, great characters, and has a rockin’ soundtrack. This book is worth your money and time.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Heart Like Mine is a most definite must read book!

Grace has had bad luck when it came to dating men. It seems however that her luck changed when she met Victor. Victor is a gentleman. Grace is falling hard for Victor. So much that she is willing to consider settling down with him and becoming a step mom to his two children, Max and Ava. Luckily for Grace Max and Ava live with their mother, Kelli.

Grace’s world gets turned upside down when Kelli unexpectedly dies. Now Grace must quickly step up and learn to be mom.

I have never read any books by this author. However, after reading this book I would put Amy up there with Jodi Picoult. Heart Like Mine is a most definite must read book!

I liked the back and forth voices of the three women involved in this book. I was able to step into each of their shoes and see and feel what they were feeling and experiencing. If I had to pick a favorite I would not be able to as I could relate to all of them.

I read the questions in the back of the book for discussion there was one question that I found interesting and that was “Heart Like Mine is narrated by the three women in Victor’s life-but we never hear from him directly. As a group, discuss your impressions of Victor. How does each narrator present a different side of him?”

So I will attempt to answer this question. In regards to Victor and him not really having a voice in this book, I thought that he was a kind guy that really loved his family. This is saying something when an author can still draw me the reader into a character that may be secondary in the story and has little interaction throughout the book. To answer the second part of the question about how does each narrator present a different side of Victor, I found that his daughter, Ava loved her father but felt he did not really understand her and what she was going through with the loss of her mother. He could not really cope with the stress.

Grace on the other hand portrayed Victor as the man she loved but wished he would let her be more of his equal. She kind of got brushed aside in the beginning when Victor was dealing with his children and did not lean on Grace for support.

Kelli portrayed Victor as her escape from her past life. He was her protector. Her perfect life that she had made up and worked so hard for all came crashing down when they divorced.

Hell Above Earth is an incredible story of two friends bond that is not to be missed.

I am a fan of aviation. Reading abuot WWII as it related to aviation helps to make this subject matter more interesting to me. I have never heard about Werner Goering or Jack Rencher. After reading this book I agree with Mr. Frater's sentiments about Goering and Rencher... they are both good men, humble aviators, warriors, and best friends.

I start down to read this book and found I could not tear myself away from it. The only reason I did was because I had started this book right before bed and was falling asleep with it in my hands. I finished this book the next morning. Amazing how two men so different like Goering and Rencher were thrust together and becamse the best of friends. They literally had each other's back. Even during the war Goering remained a quiet man but he was able to connect with Rencher. I had a smile on my face when I read about the situation that started these two men's friendship. They had been out and both of them realizing that neither one had any money, so they double timed it all the way back to base just in time for 7:00 am roll call.

Goering is a really good pilot. He watched out for his men. It is amazing how many missions that he and Rencher went out on and yet brought back all of their crew. Mr. Frater did a great job of protraying these men and the special bond they shared. I can imagine as time passed and the closer that Goering and Rencher got with each other, the harder it became for Rencher to spend any thought on the idea of killing Goering. However I don't blame Rencher for volunterring for the assignment of killing Goering if he had to. There was a war going on and desperate times called for desperate measures. Just like Goering, I was sad when he and Rencher were no longer polioting together. Hell Above Earth is an incredible story of two friends bond that is not to be missed. You have got to run and pick yourself up a copy of this book before it flies off the bookshelves!

January Justice

Book Synopsis

Reeling from his wife’s unsolved murder, Malcolm Cutter is just going through the motions as a chauffeur and bodyguard for Hollywood’s rich and famous.

Then a pair of Guatemalan tough guys offer him a job. It’s an open question whether they’re patriotic revolutionaries or vicious terrorists. Either way, Cutter doesn’t much care until he gets a bomb through his window, a gangland beating on the streets of L.A., and three bullets in the chest.

Now there’s another murder on Cutter’s Mind.

His own.

Quick Facts

Release Date: November 29th, 2012.

​Genre: Murder Mystery.​

Formats Available for Purchase: Paperback, Kindle, PDF

The Author

A master of profound suspense.

Athol Dickson's mystery, suspense, and literary novels have won three Christy Awards and an Audie Award. Suspense fans who enjoyed Athol's They Shall See God will love his latest novel, January Justice, the first installment in a new mystery series called The Malcolm Cutter Memoirs. The second and third novels in the series, Free Fall in February, and A March Murder, are coming in 2013.

Critics have favorably compared Athol's work to such diverse authors as Octavia Butler (Publisher's Weekly), Hermann Hesse (The New York Journal of Books) and Flannery O'Connor (The New York Times). Athol lives with his wife in southern California.

Find more about Athol Dickson

Why I Write Murder Mysteries

Recently I read a fascinating article in The New York Times about what may well be the first true murder mystery novel ever written. Conventional wisdom holds that the honor belongs to Wilkie Collins, who published The Moonstone in 1868, but the author of the Times piece discovered a novel written six years earlier called The Notting Hill Mystery, which he claims has all the ingredients of a modern murder mystery, and deserves the credit as Whodunit Number One.

The novel was published in serial fashion in a periodical, as was common in those days, and the author used a pseudonym. But apparently there’s good reason to believe The Notting Hill Mystery was written by Charles Warren Adams, one of the publishers of the periodical. Hopefully, Adams will one day receive the full credit for his invention of my favorite genre. It was a monumental achievement.

But intriguing though this is to a mystery aficionado like myself, the real meat of the article for me come almost as an aside near the end, where the Times piece says, “Adams was also notably religious, which points to an unexpected characteristic of the first detective novel: it’s profoundly moral. It asks not just how evil exists, but what is to be done about it. Detective novels, like sermons, can offer gratifyingly simple answers to those questions, or thoughtful and troubling ones.”

It seems to me we love a good murder mystery because in the end they’re the stories which touch most directly on death and justice. Death is the ultimate mystery of real life. What is it, exactly? Why must it exist? What should we do about it? Even the best of murder mysteries can’t answer those questions completely, but the best murder mysteries all explore the possibilities.

And when we start exploring death, something in us cries out that it isn’t right. We all long for justice, don’t we? That’s the other thing a good murder mystery delivers: a little imitation justice. The bad guy gets his in the end, or else someone has the guts to stand and rage against the second greatest mystery of all, which is why injustice exists in the first place.

I love that about murder mysteries. It’s why I’ve read, oh, about a thousand of them. And it’s why I’m writing “The Malcolm Cutter Memoirs.”


Chapter 48:

​​One of the strangest things about the city was the sudden way it disappeared around the edges. One minute you were down on Sunset Boulevard surrounded by glass and concrete, and the next thing you knew you were up on Mulholland Drive, alone in the rough country. From a high window or a rooftop almost anywhere in Los Angeles you could see the mountains, and there was always something ravenous up there looking down.

I was up among the hungry creatures, standing at the edge of a cliff, with Hollywood and Santa Monica far below me in the distance. One step forward and I would be in midair. I was looking down and wondering if Haley had considered how suddenly you could go from city to wilderness. Then I wondered if it was a distinction without a difference, if the city might be the wilderness and the wilderness the city, and maybe Los Angeles’s edges seemed to disappear so suddenly because there really was no separation between sidewalks and mountain paths, buildings and boulders. Up in the mountains or down in the city, either way the carnivores were in control.

I imagined Haley, out of her mind, running full speed off the cliff. I wondered what it had been like, that final second or two before she hit. Had she realized what was happening? Did she recognize the city lights below for what they were, or did she really think she was flying toward the stars? And did she think of me?

Stepping closer to the edge, I slid the toes of my shoes into the air. I looked down two hundred feet, toward the spot where she had broken on the rocks. I stood one inch from eternity and tried to imagine life without her. I could not summon up a single reason why I shouldn’t take that final step, except for one. I thought about the kind of animal who would drive someone to do what my wife had done. Predators like that were everywhere. I should know. I had trained for half my life to be one of them. I was hungry, looking down on the city. If I was going to live, the hunger would have to be enough, for now. But I would sink my teeth into him, sooner or later. I would do that for Haley, and for myself, and then maybe it would be my turn to see if I could fly.

I stepped back from the edge. – Chapter 1

I paused to look at Simon and Teru, wishing there were some way to avoid it. I said, “The village we went back to on that second day was Laui Kalay.”

Neither of them reacted at first.

Then Teru said, “Oh no.”

Simon rose and carried his teacup to a sink. I watched as he carefully washed out the cup with a soapy cloth. He rinsed the cup, then placed it on a wooden rack beside the sink. When that was done, he didn’t return to the table. He stood still, looking down into the sink.

Teru said, “You were there? When they cut off all those fingers and knocked out all those teeth? You were really there?”

I said, “The court-martial found me guilty.”

“But I remember that video like it was yesterday. That marine with the knife, chopping off the corpses’ fingers for their rings. The others breaking out dead people’s teeth for gold. All those marines cracking jokes. They must have showed it a thousand times on television.” Teru looked at me. “You weren’t in it.”

Still staring down into the sink, Simon said, “If memory serves, the sergeant in command was convicted of filming the unpleasantness with his cell phone, so of course he was not shown in the video.”

“Holy mother of God,” said Teru. “You’re that guy?” – Chapter 8

Olivia screamed again, and a vision overwhelmed my thoughts. Suddenly, instead of the shack with its glowing window, I saw Haley’s face contorted with terror in the darkness up above, Haley screaming at a mirror on the wall in her trailer, Haley screaming that she saw Satan, Haley screaming out for Jesus as she slammed her fists against the mirror, breaking it, bloodying her hands and yet slamming on and on. I heard the screams and saw Haley in her final moments and knew that what I saw wasn’t a madman’s fantasy but was instead my true and final memory of our last moments together.

I shook my head. I wiped rain from my eyes. I told myself to think of what was noble, good, and true. The vision faded, but the screams remained. I had to stop the screams this time. I started up the trail, and with my first step out into the open, a strange sense of peace descended. This was what I had been created to do. This was who I was and who I would continue to be in whatever time was left to me without Haley. It wasn’t about a death wish. On the contrary, life at last had regained meaning, even if the end of life was imminent. Climbing that path, knowing bullets might slam into me at any instant, I was happy for the first time since I lost my wife. I still had a purpose, after all. I was useful. It felt like I was going home.


Friday, March 15, 2013

Chatting with Chris Karlsen about Gold + Giveaway

The sequel novel to the best-selling, thriller, Golden Chariot.

A sunken warship from the Byzantine Era carrying an unusual cargo of gold has been found off the coast of Northern Cyprus. News of the valuable cache has attracted the attention of a terrorist cell. They plan to attack the recovery team’s campsite and steal the artifacts. On the Black Market, the sale of the relics will buy them additional weapons.

Charlotte Dashiell, an American archaeologist, and her lover, Atakan Vadim, a Turkish government agent, are scheduled to be part of the recovery team that brings up the artifacts. While en route to Cyprus, they find themselves caught in the crosshairs of Maksym Tischenko, a Ukrainian contract killer bent on revenge. Charlotte, Atakan and Tischenko share a grim history. As a result, Tischenko is a man who will stop at nothing to achieve his goal—seeing them both dead.

You can download a free copy of book two, Byzantine Gold on March 16th here.

The rare discovery of a ship sunk during the time of the Trojan War has been found off the coast of Turkey, near Troy. Charlotte Dashiell is an American nautical archaeologist and thrilled to be part of the recovery team. The wreck may contain proof of her highly controversial theory about the Trojan War.

Charlotte is present when the Turkish government agent assigned to guard the site is murdered. Her possible involvement and a questionable connection to a private collector of black market relics bring her under suspicion. Atakan Vadim is the Turkish agent sent to investigate her. Unknown to either of them, the smuggler behind the murder plans to steal a valuable artifact and frame Charlotte for the theft...after they murder her.  

Tension Comes in Many Forms by Chris Kalsen

Tension is one of the best means to hold a reader’s attention and keep them from putting your book down. It is also a feeling that isn’t always clearly defined. If you ask for an example of what adds tension to a story, the first response you often hear is actually an action scene. The problem with that answer is: action isn’t necessarily tension. The car chase through Paris in the movie “Ronin,” is fantastic action. However, the movie’s tension isn’t the high speed pursuit and crash at the end, but comes from the conflict within the group of mercenaries gathered together to obtain a valuable suitcase. Some are trustworthy, others are not. The viewer is on the edge of their seat throughout the movie, wondering if Jean Reno, or Robert De Niro, or Stellan Skarsgard is a traitor.

In any genre there are different ways to inject the story with tension. I write romances so I am going to use a scene from my romantic thriller, Golden Chariot. Charlotte Dashiell, my heroine, believes that the characters from The Iliad, by Homer, may not have been fictional but real. She engages in a heated discussion with Atakan Vadim, the hero. For every point she makes, he presents a challenging counterpoint. I will paraphrase the dialogue form the scene.

Charlotte said, “The story of Troy and the war was retold through the centuries. I’m saying it wasn’t a mere war story. It had to be more.”

“No. The bones of the story were given to him (Homer)...a tale which happened to include a few accurate details. Like many bards, he filled it with people from his imagination.”

“Something made the story unique. I say it’s the people.”

“He took bits of old tales, injects the legends with heroes and villains for entertainment purposes. Why do you dispute the logical?”

This is a small section of the scene’s dialogue. Atakan’s disbelief, his doubt and the fact he forces her to defend her beliefs is a source of tension between them.

Combining tension with action can be especially fun to write. As authors we can vicariously live experience with our characters. In the following, Charlotte, who’s a nautical archaeologist and part of a shipwreck recovery team, is out swimming in the sea near the team’s campsite. Unbeknownst to her, there’s been an undersea earthquake, which has triggered dangerous riptides. What was a relaxing swim becomes deadly dangerous for her.

Here’s an excerpt:

Like all the team, she was a strong swimmer and tried to power through the swells and turn back. Fighting the tide, she wasn’t making any progress. The current was sweeping her the opposite direction and toward the open water. She kicked harder as the waves surged over her head, pushing against her strokes, the salt irritating her eyes. The bigger rollers kicked her ass. They were followed by rapid, much smaller rollers. Those piddling whitecaps were kicking her ass worse. Every time she opened her mouth to take a gulp of air after the first set, the second-string whitecaps smacked her in the face, sending more seawater into her lungs than air.

She caught glimpses of the increasingly distant beach. If she screamed for help no one would hear.

In Byzantine Gold, the sequel, I weave high and low tension throughout the story. The recovery team working this shipwreck has attracted the attention of a terrorist cell. In addition to that element, the hero and heroine are being stalked by a killer known to them. These are high tension problems. For other levels of tension, I used a visa problem for Charlotte, along with the arrival of Atakan’s ex-girlfriend, and a serious personal issue involving his family.

With some scenes, worry and fear for our characters evolves and grows like a layer cake of tension. In Journey in Time, my time-travel romance, the hero, Alex, and heroine, Shakira, find themselves in medieval England. Shakira wakes to find the Alex has left to go hunting with the prince. In his absence, the king orders her to stay with a wool merchant for a few days. We, the reader, know outside the palace walls she is without protection. We worry for her. The king informs heroine the merchant is a favorite of the queen. More worry, if a situation arises, she must consider the queen will believe the merchant over her. The king alleges Alex knows of arrangement but the reader and Shakira know he doesn’t. The king can tell him any story he wants when Alex asks where she has gone. Our worry turns to fear for her. As merchant and Shakira ride to his home and further from the palace, she begins memorizing landmarks in case she must flee. Fear turns to tension the closer she gets to the merchant’s house. What is the king’s intention? What kind of man is the merchant? If she has to run, she has no means to defend herself, no money, and no guarantee she can gain entry back into the palace. Her tension becomes the reader’s.

Tension doesn’t always have to be big. We can connect with readers by giving our characters moments of tension that we all experience in our daily lives. For example: In your story, your protagonist absolutely must make a particular flight. But as writers, we are compelled to make things difficult. We torment him in all kinds of ways: He can’t find his car keys. The drawbridge he must cross to get to the airport is up and what seems to be the slowest boat in the world is passing through. He misses the shuttle bus at the long term parking by seconds. The TSA officer chooses the protagonist to pull out of line to perform a thorough and lengthy search of him. Haven’t we all had days like this?

In conclusion, I’d suggest look for a way to ramp up the tension in every scene, whether in a small or big way. There’s a little of us in most of our characters, even the villains. It’s only fair they share in our fears, frustrations, and worries.

Mr. Karlsen is giving away 1 ebook copy of Golden Chariot to a lucky reader. Just leave a comment with your email address. Ends March 20th. Also check out Byzantine Gold and download a free copy tomorrow. If you like the books hopefully you will help support this author and leave a review on Amazon or any other site.

A Fine Romance

Review by Nancy

Book Two in the Aisle Bound series is wonderful. It is funny, serious, will make you bee-line to your favorite bakery (YUM!) and a great way to spend a wintery day at home.

When Mira is left stranded at O’Hare Airport by her best friend Ivy’s “guy” friend Sam she is way to the left of pissed off. The next day she unlocks the door to her new store and sees an intruder whom she promptly bops on the head with a lead crystal vase. Yep, Sam – who has a key to let deliverymen in. Not an auspicious start for a friendship, much less more.

A Fine Romance is Ivy’s dream store and Mira has been hired to run it. Over-the-top food, picnic baskets, napkins, the whole deal. All aimed at the consumers ending up eventually at Ivy’s main store, Aisle Bound. A great marketing strategy.

Sam has the Bakery next door or, rather the Bakery with the Dutch door between them. Run by Sam and his mother, the Lyons Bakery sells $5K wedding cakes along with the usual. Sam is a Culinary-educated hunk who falls for Mira nearly as hard as she falls for him. However – their crowd of Ivy, her fiancée Ben, Gib the womanizer, Milo the friend and confidante, and Daphne, Mira’s roomie all warn them of what will happen if they grow too close. Also, there’s that little part in Mira’s trust fund about her becoming a self-made millionaire before she turns 30 or be married off to someone of her parent’s choosing…And what about Sam’s little sister off playing with the rich in Europe. ALL of Europe??

A great book worth the time to read and chuckle over. Beware your sweet tooth this will have your mouth watering!

Check out more books by Christi Barth
Purchase a copy here

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Chatting with Penny Murray

Chatting with Pennie Murray

1. Can you please tell us a little about Giving Myself Permission: Putting Fear and Doubt in Their Place?

Giving Myself Permission: Putting Fear and Doubt in Their Place is a transformative, self-coaching book that will help to lessen the grip of the emotions that discourage, frustrate and sabotage success, and end the addiction of seeking the approval of others.

Achieving success in any area of our lives requires the pre-requisite of Giving yourself permission. Addressing five emotions that frustrate and discourage our efforts towards success, Giving Myself Permission details three transformational shifts that will help the reader gain clarity and put fear and doubt in their place. I guide the reader through a process of self-empowerment that shines a light on what is really preventing them from experiencing the quality of life they truly desire. I reveal the negative conditionings that undermine a person’s efforts towards success. In my sometimes humorous, yet always frank and inspiring style, I sift through the clutter of learned inhibition and detrimental behavior to expose the real culprit behind repeated patterns of self-sabotage; as well as provide practical ways to challenge our learned inhibitions and basic thought processes. It also offers useful exercises that will rebuild the trust in their internal resources.

2. What was the hardest part of writing your book?

The hardest part of writing this book was first to actually commit to writing it – again. I say “again” because the philosophy of “giving myself permission” started in 2001 and my first attempt at writing about it resulted in a 97-page book, which failed miserably. So I wasn’t interested in repeating that experience. The second hardest thing was in being transparent about my own struggle with fear and self-doubt, which mirrored many of the other people I met (continue to meet) as a corporate trainer and NLP coach. It would have been easy to write from a place of “others have this challenge.” But I have always been passionate about helping others reach their greatest potential, and it would not have helped anyone for me to pretend that I didn’t struggle with this as well. It’s been said, “Help someone and you help yourself.” While it was hard revealing my own missteps and failings – I grew and continue to grow in the process.

3. Do you have a favorite excerpt from the book? If so, could you please share it with us?

What a hard question! I am passionate about the entire book and it’s message. I suppose this question is to force me to choose; and if I were to choose my favorite I would have to say it would be in the first Chapter in a section called The Awakening (see attached).

4. What do you hope readers will take away after reading the book?

There are four very important things I want each reader to get; (1) I want them to connect with the content, and realize that self-permission is a pre-requisite for them to experience success – without it, sabotaging feelings of fear and self-doubt will continue to control their lives. (2) An African proverb says, “When you understand the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of life, you can endure any ‘how’.” I want the readers to know how important this proverb is to changing the course of their lives (3) I want them to be able to truly lessen the grip of the emotions that sabotage their successes, as well as ending the addiction of seeking the approval of others. (4) I want them to know that because I have also struggled with this issue, and I know how sensitive the subject can be, so I thoughtfully steers them towards regaining trust in their internal resources to improve the quality of their lives, instead of relying on external resources.

5. What was your writing process while writing this book?

I can’t say I had any real process I followed while writing this book. However, I can say because learning to give myself permission was very real for me, I refused to force myself to write. I wrote when my spirit was drawn to write, and stopped when I felt I was struggling to continue.

6. Who or what was the inspiration for the book?

What inspired me to finally commit to writing this book was constantly interacting with people, especially when I starting coaching people on dealing with their emotional hindrances towards success, who were living beneath their potential. They would literally have well-fashioned excuses and justification for staying loyal to their life of mediocrity. When exploring what was really causing this, the responses were always the same – self-doubt and learned inhibitions. It was just a replay of my own journey, and I just couldn’t stand it anymore.

7. Have you had a mentor? If so, can you talk about them a little?

No, I don’t have a mentor

8. I have heard it said in order to be a good writer, you have to be a reader as well? Do you find this to be true? And if you are a reader, do you have a favorite genre and/or author?

From my perspective, this is true. For the last 13 years, my primary genre of writing has been research on human motivation and achievement. When I’m not reading research journals and articles, I love self-help and self-help in the form of allegories.

Purchase a copy of Giving Myself Permission: Putting Fear and Doubt In Their Place

Literary Rogues: A Scandalous History of Wayward Authors

I am not a history buff so I am not that familiar with most of the authors featured in this book. However it seemed like things that I could find out about the authors from the internet. So what I am saying is nothing new learned other then getting myself familiar with the authors.

However I do have to say that the bad boys and girls of literature at least were productive and made the most of their badness then the celebrities of Hollywood. The authors helped to produce history of great reading. All that celebrities do is make messes and help sell tabloid gossip magazines. They don’t even write the magazines. Oh how our world has changed. I am not a gossip fan. I would rather get my stories from books.

I could tell that Mr. Shaffer did do his homework. He shared details about the authors in this book in good detail. Enough that the reader got something from each short story. Literary Rogues is a good conversation book.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Giving Myself Permission: Putting Fear and Doubt In Their Place

Chapter 1

A Philosophy in the Making
Purchase a copy here

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” ~R. Buckminster Fuller

The foundation for the philosophy of giving myself permission was laid during one of my knock-down, drag-out fights with God! Yes, you read that right. You can call me arrogant, sacrilegious, gutsy, or just plain stupid, but I was none of those. During this particular fight, I had accused Him of being a liar. Not only that, I blamed Him for playing favorites between men and women, and among races.

It seemed a valid fight to me. Of course, I had been taught that God didn’t have favorites, and that He loved all of His children the same. Well at the time, I didn’t feel that was true, at least not for me. Today, I know better, but that day I felt like a stepchild who just never seemed to get the support, love, and attention the other kids were getting.

My talks with God are real conversations like the kind you would have with a person standing right in front of you. They’re not sugar-coated, and seldom are they done in the traditional way of bowing my head and falling to my knees. If you walked into a room while I was talking to God, your eyes would automatically scan the room in search of the other person in the conversation.

Anyway, I was mad as hell that despite my desperate pleas for God to help me, He wasn’t responding fast enough. Other times, I didn’t think He responded at all. Don’t you hate when He does that? You’re in head over heels, struggling to sleep at night, worried about how you’re going to make it out, and there He is seemingly twiddling His thumbs, or gone on an extended vacation. UGH!

Three years prior, I had lost my retail business of nine years. My home went into foreclosure. I was hiding my car to avoid it being repossessed. My bank accounts were frozen, and I was fighting two pending liens from the IRS. Not wanting to give into failure, I worked two jobs to get back on my feet, but things just weren’t turning around the way I needed them to. I was a single mom with two kids: an eleven-year-old son, and a twenty-five-year-old daughter who had a daughter and was trying to finish college.

Around this same time, several professional acquaintances had strongly suggested that I consider becoming a professional speaker, but I never really gave it any thought. Instead, I quit my second job, took what little savings I had, and started a business creating leadership development programs. After hobbling along for close to a year, I landed a big client that would put me on a sure path toward success. Life was good!

After two short months, I was blindsided when the client reneged on our contract. I had developed a special program to cater to their needs and already trained members of the company’s team. Suddenly the client terminated my services, claiming the decision was due to budgetary constraints. It added salt to the wound when I learned the company later implemented my program using their own people.

For a couple of weeks, I threw a major pity party by crying and feeling sorry for myself. I was emotionally exhausted and stayed in bed for days. Devastated, I barely ate anything or talked to anyone. Thank goodness my son had gone to stay with my daughter for the summer. She had finished college in Springfield, Missouri, and decided to live there, at least for a while. When I talked to them, I mustered enough energy to pretend that everything was great!

The Strength of Words

While I can’t remember my exact words to God the day I got really angry with Him, the gist of my accusation was that all my life I had been told by my mother that because I was a Black woman I would never be anything more than a peon. Though everything inside me completely rejected that nonsense, hearing those words over and over again subconsciously affected me.

SIDE BAR: It is amazing how a person’s words can have power over our lives. I believe words can either empower or defeat our efforts. Be careful about the things you give ear to. Like me, you may have been saturated with negative message that may have diminished your hopes and dreams. Often, the most hurtful and deflating words come from those you loved or respected — a parent, spouse, sibling, teacher, or friend.

When they spoke those words, you may not have given it much thought. But think for just a moment — do you sometimes hear a faint whisper of these words in your mind when you’re in certain situations? Do you find yourself believing some of the very things they said about you? Until now, you may not have consciously been aware that you have been harboring feelings associated with that particular moment in life.

If you think that perhaps negative words are having an effect on your progress, make a decision right now that you will forgive the person whose words have held you back. Then, replace the message they gave you with a positive message. For example, if someone said, “You will never amount to anything,” replace their words with a new message, like, “Deep within me is the power to be as I define myself and my life!” Or, perhaps they said, “You should have given up on that dream years ago. It’s too late.” Replace that message with something like, “I may have missed some opportunities along the way, but I choose to learn from those mistakes and move on. There is a definite plan for my life, and I intend to live for that plan and purpose!”

RESUME: Despite the negative words that were constantly spoken to me early on in life, I intentionally set out to make something of myself. I completed college, lived in the so called “right” neighborhoods, sent my children to the “right” schools, and socialized with the “right” people. I went to church, prayed, fasted, tithed, and gave to the less fortunate. In short, I dotted all the “Is” and crossed all the “Ts.” Even though I followed the blueprint for success, I wasn’t successful. My life was in shambles, and professionally — well hell, that didn’t turn out the way I planned either.

As if God didn’t know my situation already, I blurted every detail about the mess my life was in and reminded Him of all the work I had done to earn the privilege of having a better life. After all, I deserved every bit of the lifestyle I had been busting my butt to achieve. I insisted my overall experience as a Black woman and the persistent inequality Blacks endured, despite our efforts, just wasn’t fair. I went on to argue that I should never have had to suffer the absence of a healthy loving partner, the stigmas placed on me by both Black men and White society, and the consistent betrayals and emotional devastations that I was subjected to as a child.

As my anger surged and then peaked, I screamed, “God, You’re a liar and You play favorites! The Bible says You are not a respecter of persons. You rain on the just as well as the unjust. But what I see is Whites getting all the privileges and Blacks, well I guess to hell with us! I’ve done everything people said I was supposed to do to be successful. And I’ve done everything to win Your favor. Yet I keep coming up empty handed, betrayed, and frustrated. I’m tired of picking up the broken pieces of my life! So tell me what’s going on?” I demanded.

If there was a feeling deeper than depression, I was feeling it. My life was so dark; I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. I was convinced, more than ever, that God didn’t care anything about me. Before I knew it, I was in a full-fledged affront against Him.

Physically and emotionally exhausted, I heard God say, “It’s not Me, it’s you!”

Shocked and still pissed off, I responded, “What do You mean, it’s not You, it’s me?”

Then I heard Him say, “While you do have a lot of responsibility in your situation, I don’t mean ‘you’ alone — I mean ‘you’ as a human society — far too many people are locked in the residue of their past.”

This outrageous conversation, precipitated by my matter-of-fact, in-your-face attitude, led me on the most extraordinary journey of my life. First, I was eager to find out what God meant by me being responsible for my dilemma. Second, what was this residue of the past that human society was locked into?

Why Can’t I Stop the Madness?

As time went on, I began entertaining the suggestion my colleagues made about becoming a professional speaker. Just out of curiosity, I contacted a few public speaking seminar companies and within one month, I landed a job as a corporate trainer. Not having anything else to lose, I thought, What the hell? It can’t get any worse. I actually did begin speaking professionally, not because it was an intentional career move, but because I needed a job.

A year passed and things seemed to be leveling off financially. My head was beginning to clear. Over the course of time, I met a man who pastored a church. He seemed really interested in developing a relationship with me. Within six months, he asked me to marry him, and I graciously accepted.

Since my job as a corporate trainer required frequent travel, he insisted that I quit. He argued that a pastor’s wife needed to be available at all times to assist with ministry work. It sounded rational, and as you might suspect, I quit my job to fulfill my role as pastor’s wife. As the old adage goes, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Within the first month of our marriage, the good pastor became physically and emotionally abusive. Rather than entering into a marriage, it seemed I had entered into the ring to spar with an aggressive boxer. Then, as if things weren’t bad enough, I discovered he wasn’t legally divorced. Here we were three months into the marriage and we weren’t even legal! Can you see where this is headed?

The what else could go wrong? list kept growing. This man, whom I thought I loved, stole large sums of money from me and pawned my jewelry. I simply couldn’t believe that my life had taken such a downward turn. Devastated, I had to find a way out of that nightmare and somehow regain my dignity and sanity.

At the same time, life had presented my daughter with her own set of challenges. It seemed as though she was repeating my life patterns, because she too had become a single parent of two children. Eventually, she moved back home and we worked together to get over our hurdles. Months passed, and even with the two of us working long hours to get ahead, we were barely able to make ends meet.

An Unexpected Journey

By the time God revealed the philosophy of learning to give myself permission, I had gone back to conducting public speaking seminars for corporate professionals. It had been four years since my failed marriage to the pastor, which not only created heartbreak, but financial setback. I had decided to embrace the gift and talent of touching people’s lives through words.

My hope was restored, and I had set my sights on becoming the next great speaking sensation. But with this grand idea came a bigger problem — I had no idea how I was going to accomplish the goal. So, when a colleague sent me information about a weekend retreat designed to help small business owners and entrepreneurs market themselves, I jumped at the opportunity. The event was held in La Jolla, California, and seemed like the perfect solution to help make me visible, busy, and booked!

It was November 2001, and the purpose of the retreat was to bring together a small group of entrepreneurs who had become stagnant in their efforts to move to the next level of success. The location overlooked the Pacific Ocean and was simply fabulous! We were all invigorated by the view. And certainly the presenter had done an outstanding job of inspiring us to refocus and pursue our dreams. During the conference, participants engaged in passionate discussions that produced tears, hugs, prayers, and major breakthroughs. Then — too soon, it seemed — the weekend ended.

There was no doubt our passion had been rekindled. We were headed toward the next level of success! As we said our goodbyes, a few of us lingered in the corridor of the facility and continued to talk about our weekend experience. We shared how the feedback from other creative, like-minded people had been simply stimulating.

After awhile, the pleasantries began to fade and the conversation began to echo the exact same conversations we had when we first arrived. Somehow we slipped away from the talk of hope and possibilities and reverted to doubt and impossibilities. It was almost as if we were openly reaffirming our loyalty to remain restrained by our limitations.

I chuckled and said to myself, Wow! We managed to spend an entire weekend making a 360 degree turn — only to end up exactly where we began — stuck in our own private hell of limitations and inhibitions. You know how it is. Sometimes we do things in life that are so asinine or bizarre that the only thing we can do is laugh. Any attempt to explain it would create even more confusion. This was indeed one of those moments.

My flight home was scheduled to leave in a few hours, so I said my final goodbyes, retrieved my luggage from the hotel bellman, and took a cab to the airport. As I waited to board the plane, I resolved in my mind that the retreat had only been a temporary mental departure from a darker reality that none of us wanted to acknowledge. It seemed our reality was far bigger, stronger, and more sinister than any pep rally weekend could change. I had experienced this feeling before. All too often, throughout the course of my life, my efforts to move ahead were met with criticism, and even ridicule, from others.

In retrospect, I realized the taunting didn’t always come from other people — most often it came from my internal self. However, when it did come from others, it was as if I somehow gravitated toward the negative words spoken about me. My pathetic attempts to break free from the mental and emotional self-sabotage seemed to intensify the abusive self-talk.

Over the years, I learned the only way to silence the taunting was just to be content with mediocrity. Unfortunately, for me, this method rarely worked because whenever I gave in to my negative thoughts, my passion and desire to pursue my full potential would rise up to haunt me. For as long as I could remember, I had lived in a constant internal tug-of-war between my potential and this dark feeling that I just couldn’t seem to shake.

The Awakening

I boarded the plane and was waiting for takeoff. Reluctantly, I had decided to pamper myself and fly home first-class. Fighting to keep the internal lunacy of negative self-talk at bay, I thought again about the group of strangers I had just met during our weekend retreat. The more I reflected on our conversations, the more I began to realize that the reasons we gave for not fully committing to our dreams were nothing more than a charade. It was just a pretense to disguise all the internal fears and doubts that were controlling our lives. In other words, the phony excuses that may have seemed logical and valid to the average listener were simply a cover-up for the subconscious, and often less credible, reasons that were holding us back.

For instance, one of the countless reasons I gave for not fully committing to my goals was I didn’t want to neglect my children by not being there for them. Using this excuse kept me from feeling guilty about not fulfilling my purpose. What excuses are you using? Do you think it’s too late? Are you procrastinating because you don’t have enough experience, or the right connections? Perhaps you’ve been delaying going back to school to get the degree you need to obtain a greater quality of life because you’ve convinced yourself you don’t have the time, money, or support.

Or, is your excuse similar to mine — your loved ones (mother, father, son, daughter, spouse, etc.) — need you? Whatever your excuse, I’m here to tell you that it’s time to give yourself permission to live through your potential. As I pondered why I was once again beginning to talk myself out of advancing my life and career, I was interrupted by the flight attendant. She asked if I wanted a glass of wine. Exhausted, I said, “Yes, a Cabernet please. I really need one.”

“Rough day?” she asked.

“No, just overwhelmed with reality,” I replied in a tone of accepted defeat.

As I enjoyed the subtle aftertaste of berries, plums, and ripened grapes, I watched passengers board the plane. I wondered just how many of them were disguising secret fears and doubts. Were they feeling hopelessly locked into the day-to-day routine of merely existing? I wondered. If someone asked, what superficial excuses would they give for not going after the bigger things in life? What were their internal hang-ups? Was it the idea of failing, succeeding, or never trying?

I began having another mental conversation with God. Our talk quickly escalated to an intense, passionate plea. “God!” I cried, “I just spent three days with a group of people who were as lost as I am. Yes, the retreat helped reconnect me to my dreams and passion; and yes it was rejuvenating. But the plane hasn’t even left the ground yet, and I have already thought of a half-dozen reasons why I would never be able to implement any of the information learned. God, I really want to know why this keeps happening. Why can’t I break free from the internal heckler that keeps me focused on the limitations and impossibilities of life?

The announcement blasted over the plane’s audio system that the doors were about to close. So I handed my empty wine glass to the flight attendant, adjusted myself, and buckled my seatbelt. For a moment, my internal chatter settled down as I watched the flight attendant demonstrate the in-flight safety procedures.

As the plane ascended, I began feeling a sense of comfort in the puffy, white billows of clouds outside my window. The view was tranquil and relaxing. But instead of indulging in it, I became frustrated about the idea of returning home a failure. After all, nothing had really changed.

All the encouragement I had received during the retreat to embrace my passion meant very little in the scheme of things. No matter what I did, things would still be the same. Living my passion, accomplishing big things, having a purpose, experiencing success, hell, that’s for special people, I thought. And I ain’t one of them!

Suddenly, I felt overwhelmed by feelings of intense sorrow. Tears began to run down my face and I cried uncontrollably. Once again that dark “something” that is always hovering over my life took possession of my thoughts. Every time that happened, my efforts fell flat and I continued living a mediocre life. I was mourning another failed attempt to break free from the internal chains that kept me in my limited existence.

Every link of the chain had been forged over the years by the sadistic reminders of what I couldn’t do because of my race or gender. Now the painful thoughts that fortified this chain were reverberating in my mind. Every negative word that had been said to me over the years began to flood my mind. Things like:

“You’re a peon, and you’ll always be a peon.”

“You need to learn how to stay in your place.”

“You have a Champagne mind, with a soda pop purse.”

“You’re just like your damn daddy. He ain’t shit, and you ain’t gonna be shit either!”

“Women are supposed to be seen, not heard.”

“No matter how much education or money you have, a Black person will always be less than everybody else.”

“Get your head out of the clouds and face reality. Ain’t nothing special about you?”

“If God wanted you to have better, you would have it by now.”

“If your prayers are not being answered, then you’re not praying hard enough, fasting long enough, or paying enough tithes.”

“A Black person can’t, and a woman never will.”

The rattling of each link in this chain grew louder and louder, and I couldn’t make it stop! I felt an excruciating pain in my heart, but I couldn’t scream. It ached to the point of nausea. My sadness became more intense and the tears flowed incessantly. I wished that I could forcefully vomit out all the negative and malicious words locked inside my head, and the memories attached to them. Then I could be free from the darkness inside me that was always waiting to kill my hopes and sabotage my efforts. I kept thinking, If only I could throw up!

Having no control over my emotions, I continued to stare out the window of the plane, thankful that no one was sitting next to me. I figured that if the other passengers noticed me crying they would think it was because I had left a loved one behind.

My mind began to shift back to my conversation with God and why this one-step-forward, three-steps-backwards dance keeps happening. I also wondered again what God meant by me being responsible for my dilemma. I demanded that He tell me WHY? Why did success in life and love always seem to elude me? Why did I have to fight for everything I had, and still come up short? Why did I identify more with a victim mentality, and less with the mind of a champion? WHY?

Just as quickly as the crying started, a silent calm came over me. The disparaging thoughts had instantly vanished. A rare, indescribable peace swept over me. What just happened? I wondered. Maybe I had just experienced a momentary, psychological meltdown. Hell, maybe I was bi-polar and didn’t know it. I’m sure if a psychiatrist had observed my actions and heard my thoughts, he or she would have been writing me a prescription and scheduling my next appointment.

The Word is Given

While drying my eyes, I looked again at the billowy clouds. Then a word came over me so swiftly and powerfully that it literally shocked me. It was compelling and clear-cut. Yes, I had demanded an answer from God, but in all honesty, I didn’t expect to get an answer — well not right then. I was used to having to wait sometimes weeks or months for any kind of clarity of thought or wisdom. Sometimes, I didn’t get an answer at all. But it appeared this time I got the answer I needed just when I needed it.

I referenced an African proverb in the introduction, but it’s worth mentioning again: “When you understand the whys of life, you can endure any how.” The word God gave me helped me to better understand why I had unintentionally been sabotaging myself and living in mediocrity. It also gave me wisdom to finally move out of my own way and into a more powerful state of being. The word I heard was “PERMISSION.”

It came over me with such conviction that I said aloud, “WHAT?” Then I heard Him say the most astonishing thing: “It’s because you won’t give yourself permission to see a better reality for yourself. To be, do, think, or expect anything different. You would rather live imprisoned by your weaknesses, fears and inhibitions than give yourself permission to live freely in your possibilities and divine potential.”

Taken aback by the whole experience, I responded, “Oh, my God — that’s it!” (In fact I said it three times). It made sense. I had never, ever given myself permission to be or do anything other than live under the influence of the negative conditioning or experiences that had dictated my way of life. I had rarely challenged the status-quo, and when I did, I was riddled with guilt and a host of fears.

I immediately began to feel a release in my mind, heart, and spirit. Joy overtook me and my tears turned into laughter. It was truly an “awakening.” I would finally be able to live free of the internal torment that had undermined me practically all my life.

Totally oblivious to the things going on around me, I looked up to find the flight attendant standing in front of me with another glass of wine. It was as if I had actually asked her for it, but I hadn’t. As though she was aware of what had occurred, she handed me the glass of wine and with a gentle, affirming smile she looked me in the eye and said, “Reality is never as bad as it seems — is it?” Before I could answer, she walked away. Talk about God making a point! I’m convinced He used the flight attendant that day to reinforce that the Universe would work in harmony with me once I gave myself permission to be and do things differently.

For most of my life I had felt all alone, but something had just happened. A switch had just been flipped to the “on” position and I realized God has always been there. He heard me! He actually heard me, and He did care after all!

For the rest of the flight, my heart and mind raced with excitement. I had a ton of questions about this whole permission thing. I wanted to know what it meant to “give myself permission.” Was this some kind of newfound freedom? Would it be a whimsical free-for-all, an excursion of self-absorbed indulgence, or something completely beyond what I could comprehend? And if so, how would I learn it? Would there be principles to follow, steps to take, and how drastically would my life really change as a result of giving myself permission?

By the time the plane landed, I was ready to move full-speed ahead with the notion of giving myself permission. That day I was determined to share this new epiphany with everyone I met! And so my journey into exploring the self-permission concept began.

Not really knowing how to give myself permission, I tried everything from chanting daily mantras and affirmations to fasting, to taking spiritual sabbatical, to attending psychological counseling. I practiced the laws of attraction and took advice from life coaches. You name it, I tried it. Yet, when the cloud of euphoria cleared, I realized I was no closer to understanding what giving myself permission really meant. In fact, I was still burdened by the destructive habits of self-doubt and apprehension. However, I clung tighter to the notion of permitting myself to do, be, and think differently.

In my quest to give myself permission, I came to understand that I had failed to consider the mental conditioning I attained while growing up. Up until this point, I had subconsciously reinforced this mental conditioning by giving into my fears and inhibitions. It was a mindset that relegated me to a life that was defined by the deeply-rooted restrictions and limitations set by others. There I was, contemplating the unthinkable — to go against everything I had ever been taught, and instead of seeking approval from others I would now be self-approving. I would be “consciously” making the final decision.

Because my perceptual and emotional foundation had been distorted by years of abuse and was in need of major renovation, I misinterpreted situations, had unreasonable expectations, and often felt hurt or disappointed by the outcome of my efforts. I was quick to assert my control, set unreasonable boundaries, and in some cases, be overly self-protective. Somewhat frustrated by all the time I lost in previous years, I wanted to rush the journey of learning to be more self-approving. Bad idea!

A complete novice, I did a lot of things wrong, like writing my first book too soon. It was my first major attempt to introduce this philosophy. While I meant well, I was quite naïve in my timing and my understanding. The idea was relatively new then, and I really needed to have practiced the concept longer so that my readers could benefit from my trial-and-error experiences. If you read my first book Giving Myself Permission: The Simplest Path to Successful Living, you might have noticed that some of my thoughts were fragmented and disjointed. For that I apologize. In my pursuit to understand, I gained a greater sense of respect for the experience and the action of giving myself permission, and learned valuable lessons along this journey.

Since the inception of this philosophy in 2001, I have evolved in my understanding of what it really means to give myself permission. My experiences have taught me so much more than I can present in one book. In this book, I maintained the original integrity and purpose of the first book. I have even used some of the original content, but I’ve integrated new lessons learned over the years. In this journey I have come to the strong belief that giving yourself permission is an absolute prerequisite to achieving anything of value and meaning in your life. Without it, little if anything is possible. I will go so far as to say that we can’t truly receive the fullness of God’s love, until we give ourselves permission to. This is a truth I have lived.

Attitude is Everything!

The philosophy of giving yourself permission is grounded in theoretical research and exploration. In the first part of this chapter, I explained the origin of the self-permission philosophy. In the remaining portion, I will lay out a model that will help you to develop a mindset for giving yourself permission in life, love and success.

In my attempts to practice self-permission, I discovered something else. I call it “self-work.” I define it as the intentional, sometimes unplanned, act of soul-searching — examining your motives and methods and then telling yourself the truth in order to make positive changes and better decisions in life. To make the necessary changes in my life I had to exert some real effort to find out first “what” caused me to act and think the way I did. The process I am about to share with you helped me to accomplish that goal.

Self-work involves making small mental steps toward change. In other words, you must adjust the way you think. First, you must acknowledge the truth concerning many areas and things in your life. Second, you must have the courage to re-evaluate the attitudes and perceptions you have about yourself. Third, you must permit yourself to let go of things, people, and situations that cause you to betray or sabotage yourself. I’ll get into the specifics of doing your self-work in the next chapter.

When I became serious about changing my life so that I could be successful, I had to make three mental shifts. I’ll also discuss each of these in the next chapter. One of the ways I limited my success was by failing to prepare mentally for the success I wanted. In most cases, people have to engage in a type of mental preparation before they begin working toward their aspirations. Failing to do so will always result in temporary success. In other words, a person may be able to attain the goal he or she desires, but is unable to maintain it long-term because their unconscious attitude or mindset doesn’t match their conscious wants.

Many of our failed attempts at success occur as a result of a restricted mindset. We all want to be successful, but we’re not all able to handle it once we get it. How many times have you heard rag-to-riches-to-rags stories about people who finally achieved the success they wanted, and one self-sabotaging act caused them to lose it all? It happens in business, relationships, and even personal goals like losing weight, buying a house, or letting go of defeating behaviors. For example, people subscribe to a particular diet, lose the weight, and then gain back more because they adjusted their mindset for temporary change, instead of a lifestyle change. After they lost the weight, they went right back to their old habits.

The same thing is true when it comes to buying a house. A person saves up enough money to buy the house, but they fail to realize that it will take more than a monthly house payment to manage it. Ultimately, they lose their homes because they carried their apartment mindset into their new home and lost it all!

I have heard people say, “You can take the person out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the person.” Another saying goes, “You can take the person out of the ghetto, but you can’t take the ghetto out of the person.” The undertone of both these statements that applies to every area of our lives is you have to transform your attitude and mindset if you want to change the results you get in life.

Whether your goal is to be successful in improving your quality of life, getting or maintaining love, or fulfilling your life’s purpose, you have to cultivate a fertile mindset that will sustain the success you desire. By taking the time to do your self-work— changing your attitude about success — you will have a more confident and deliberate start. You will also avoid the unconscious tendency to sabotage your efforts, and experience greater results!

Self-Permission Challenge

For your first challenge, I want you to accept for just five minutes that it’s “possible” to put the fears or doubts you have in specific areas of your life in their place. Start by selecting the simplest area of your life that you want to experience success in. After you have identified that area, answer the following questions:

1. What is most gratifying to you about the positive choices you’ve made in this area of your life?

2. When you have experienced success in this area what do you attribute it to?

3. What in this area is important for you to keep, strengthen, or preserve?

4. Without considering any limitations, what would you like to happen in order to achieve success in this area?

5. Considering your responses to the first four questions, what is one small step you can make today that will get you closer to the outcome you want in this area?

There is no time span as to how long you work through this challenge, so don’t rush this process. This is all about allowing yourself to just experience the possibilities in your life.