Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Gifted: How to Live the Life Of Your Dreams by Daphne Michaels



Title: The Gifted: How to Live the Life of Your Dreams
Author: Daphne Michaels
Publisher: Daphne Michaels Books
Pages: 130
Genre: Personal Development/Spirituality
Format: Paperback / Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

In The Gifted: How to Live the Life of Your Dreams author, speaker and licensed psychotherapist Daphne Michaels celebrates the nine gifts that are our birthright, guiding readers in how to recognize and use them to transform their lives.  In her author's preface, Michaels reveals how her own journey of life transformation began when she was young and realized that human existence wore two conflicting faces--one of love and joy, and one of fear and despair. She decided then to commit her life to reconciling these two visions because she knew that, irreconcilable though they seemed, together these two faces held the secret to living a life of endless possibility and authentic happiness. Her personal journey and formal education in social science, human services and integral psychology led to the founding of the Daphne Michaels Institute, which has helped hundreds of men and women design the lives of their dreams.

In The Gifted Michaels shows us that the first three “gifts” we must recognize and embrace within us if we are to re-design our lives are Awareness, Potential and Stillness. These three allow us to identify and use the remaining six with a life-changing power:  Disharmony, Harmony, Ease, Clarity, Freedom and Engagement.  Each of these six relies on the “essential three” for its own power to change our lives, and each has its own gifts--its “children.” By approaching the nine gifts with real-world metaphors, Michaels answers in easily understood ways what for many readers have been lingering questions about personal transformation—such as how it works, what kind of commitment it takes, and why, if we’re committed, real transformation becomes inevitable—and addresses obstacles that readers may have encountered in the past in trying to reach in life a happiness every human deserves.

While the human universe’s face of love is celebrated in The Gifted, so is the face of fear that haunted a young girl decades ago. As Michaels shows us in her book, even Disharmony—the “quagmire” of life born of the human ego’s fear, defenses, delusions and despair—is a gift, too, and one as important as the others if we know how to see it clearly and use it. Once we understand Disharmony, we are ready to understand the real purpose of Harmony in our lives. Disharmony does not need to rule us.  It is ours to use as we design the lives of our dreams. 

The final gift in The Gifted, Michaels tells us, is the gift of Engagement. Engagement—with the universe and with ourselves—allows us to use all of the other gifts with more power and joy than we ever imagined possible.

That mountaintop decision never left me. It drove my life’s work and over the years led me to understand that there are gifts – nine of them, in fact – that we are all born with but rarely experience in their full glory and potential. These gifts – which make each and every one of us “The Gifted” of this book’s title – are the keys to living lives of endless possibilities and, in turn, achieving an authentic happiness that cannot be lost. They are, in other words, the keys to achieving the life of our dreams.

Book Excerpt:

Life’s greatest mystery is inside us. It is inside every living thing. Like the deep secrets of the universe, the mystery inside us will never be fully explained. By exploring it, however, we can discover gifts available to us that can change our lives forever.
Life’s great mystery is awareness. More basic than thoughts and more primal than instincts, awareness does not require a centralized brain, as scientists have proven through studies with invertebrates like starfish. While these beautiful creatures have no centralized brains, they possess awareness. Starfish, like all invertebrates, use awareness to perceive, eat, grow, reproduce, and survive.
Awareness is so intrinsic to life that it defines life: living means being aware. From the beginning of life – before we take an initial breath – humans demonstrate tremendous awareness. Prenatal psychologists have discovered that we experience, while still in our mother’s womb, not only light and sound but, even more astonishingly, emotion. We kick our legs when agitated by loud noises and sway pleasantly to beautiful classical music. Months before birth we grimace at the taste of sour amniotic fluid and drink heartily when it is sweet. Awareness grows as we grow.
As we develop as human beings, our awareness stretches in all directions – from awareness of our five basic senses to awareness of external events around us, from awareness of our emotions to awareness of our thoughts, from limited awareness of a topic that bores us to an expanded awareness of topics we feel passionate about. Of all the many dimensions of awareness, the highest form is self-awareness. With self-awareness we begin to appreciate just how far awareness actually extends. Just as ocean waters are deeper than the surface of the sea, awareness is deeper than the surface of our physical body or our conscious thoughts. The infinite depth and breadth of awareness is filled with gifts that are ours to receive.

Anvil of God by J. Boyce Gleason



Title: Anvil of God, Book One of the Carolingian Chronicles
Author: J. Boyce Gleason
Publisher: iUniverse
Pages: 440
Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

It is 741. After subduing the pagan religions in the east, halting the march of Islam in the west, and conquering the continent for the Merovingian kings, mayor of the palace Charles the Hammer has one final ambition—the throne. Only one thing stands in his way—he is dying.

Charles cobbles together a plan to divide the kingdom among his three sons, betroth his daughter to a Lombard prince to secure his southern border, and keep the Church unified behind them through his friend Bishop Boniface. Despite his best efforts, the only thing to reign after Charles’s death is chaos. His daughter has no intention of marrying anyone, let alone a Lombard prince. His two eldest sons question the rights of their younger pagan stepbrother, and the Church demands a steep price for their support. Son battles son, Christianity battles paganism, and Charles’s daughter flees his court for an enemy’s love.

Book Excerpt:

No one saw the second beast charge. It, too, followed the path of the V, although this time no shields were banged and no spears were thrown. The large animal crashed through the wood unchecked, heading directly for Odilo and Trudi. They, like everyone else, had been watching the fallen knight and remained unaware of the danger until the boar lunged at them.
Without a word, Odilo stepped to the right. Trudi spun away to her left. Then, in a fluid motion, their arms lifted and fell together, impaling the beast between them. It twisted under their spears, thrashing wildly as neither blow was a killing stroke. Odilo leaned down on the shaft of his spear, trying to drive its point further into the animal’s shoulder. As he pushed into the animal, it surged forward in an attempt to gore his leg. Trudi, having lost hold of her spear, drew her sword. The blade flashed above her head. She brought it down on the beast’s neck with both hands, severing its head in one stroke.
The hunters were stunned into silence. Blood spewed over Trudi’s legs and pooled at her feet. With a visceral shout Odilo swept Trudi into his arms and raised her hand high above their heads. The knights cheered and banged their spears against their shields. Odilo bowed theatrically to Trudi and the cheers grew louder.
He had never seen a woman wield a sword like that. Her strength and speed surprised him. She laughed, embarrassed at the applause, and he found it oddly compelling that she could be both strong and vulnerable. He studied the lines of her face and the curl of her hair. He took in the fullness of her lips and the light in her eyes. She was powerful, he realized unexpectedly, and quite beautiful.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Immortality Book Tour Highlights

It's so sad to see our authors go, but in tribute we do a recap of the highlights of their blog tour with us at Pump Up Your Book.  Today we're highlighting Kevin Bohacz and his Immortality Virtual Book Publicity Tour.  I am thrilled to say he's now a #1 Amazon Bestselling Author.  Kevin, you rock!

About the Author:
I am Kevin Bohacz the bestselling novelist of Immortality and a lucid dreamer… 

Welcome to my dreams. I am also a writer for national computer magazines, founder and president of two high technology corporations, a scientist and engineer for over 35 years, and the inventor of an advanced electric car system – the ESE Engine System (circa 1978). I was also a short order cook for I-Hop, flipped burgers at McDonalds, and delivered Chicken Delight. All of those careers and more are behind me now that I am a full time storyteller, a catcher of dreams. Thank you for reading my stories and making this all possible.

His latest books are Immortality and Ghost of the Gods.

Visit Kevin’s website at www.kbohacz.com.

About the Book:

Without warning, something has gone terribly awry. In the remote and unnoticed places of the world, small pockets of death begin occurring. As the initially isolated extinctions spread, the world’s eyes focus on this unimaginable horror and chaos. Out of the ecological imbalance, something new and extraordinary is evolving and surviving to fill the voids left by these extinctions. Evolution is operating in ways no one could have expected and environmental damage may be the catalyst. Once discovered, this knowledge changes everything.

Virtual Book Tour Highlights: 
Praise for Immortality:

"Is this a roaring good story that will keep you highly interested in what is going to happen next?  You betcha!  I am so looking forward to the next book in this series."

-- Vic's Media Room (Click here to read more) 

"This is a science fiction novel of a doomsday scenario that will leave you shaken. Only after having finished this book was I able to see a lot of similarities to Biblical stories which made it even more frightening if possible--and in some ways more believable. I certainly hope this NEVER happens!!"

-- Miki's Hope (click here to read more) 

"It's an "end of the world" type book with a twist and will leave you wondering about this "new type of apocalypse". I have read all kinds of ways that mankind ends but this one is definitely new. It also of course, brings out the bad side of the ones that are left and even drives one of the main characters insane to the point of forming his own army to fight against the people he thinks is responsible for this whole mess."

-- Mary's Cup of Tea (click here to read more) 

"I love a good apocalyptic story and Immortality certainly lived up to my expectations. I am looking forward to reading the sequel, Ghost of the Gods."

-- A Book Geek (click here to read more)

""Immortality" is a great read. It is seldom I read a book that makes me feel as though I've grown smarter for having read it. Before this book, Michael Crichton is one of the very few writers I have ever had that 'boy, I am smart for reading and enjoying this book" feeling. Bohacz has now been added to the list of top favorite authors. I cannot wait for the sequel.."

-- Booklover Sue (click here to read more) 

"Immortality is an intelligently written, engaging work that is well-researched. Kevin Bohacz writes in great detail about the characters and events in this book. I can’t wait to find out what happens – and am looking forward to the sequel, Ghost Of The Gods!"

-- Create With Joy (click here to read more)

Memorable Quotes:

"I’ve been writing since 1989. Immortality and Ghost of the Gods are my 3rd and 4th novels. The short answer to your question is the ideas come from my muse. The longer answer is that my novels come from daytime dreams as well as nighttime lucid dreams. When I am writing it does not feel like I am creating the material. It feels more like I am watching daydreams which come from somewhere other than me and I am merely typing as fast as I can to capture the daydream that is unfolding before my mind’s eyes. "

-- The Writer's Life (click here to read more) 

"I knew Immortality was a timely, entertaining, and marketable novel. Some extremely successful literary professionals, including more than one famous writer, had read it and told me they loved it. So here I was a published author unable to open a single door into the major publishing houses. Three years later I had reached the point where I either had to give up or publish it myself. Back in 2006 self-publishing carried the stigma of failure, but I had no choice. I knew in my gut Immortality was a fantastic story. So I started a small publishing company, hired an offset-printer, and proceeded to manufacture and sell Immortality."

-- The Book Connection (click here to read more) 

Click here to visit Kevin's official tour page.

 





Directory of Federal Prisons Book Tour Highlights

It's so sad to see our authors go, but in tribute we do a recap of the highlights of their blog tour with us at Pump Up Your Book.  Today we're highlighting Christopher Zoukis and his Directory of Federal Prisons Virtual Book Publicity Tour.

About the Author:
Christopher Zoukis is an impassioned advocate for prison education, a legal scholar, and a prolific writer of books, book reviews, and articles.  His articles on
prison education and prison law appear frequently in Prison Legal News, and have been published in The Kansas City Star, The Sacramento Bee, Blog Critics, and Midwest Book Review, among other national, regional, and specialty publications.

Mr. Zoukis is often quoted on matters concerning prison law, criminal law, prisoners’ rights, and prison education.  Recently, he was the focus of an article at Salon.com concerning America’s broken criminal justice system and potential solutions to the current crisis.

When not in the thick of the battle for prison reform, prison education, or prisoners’ rights advocacy, Mr. Zoukis can be found blogging at PrisonLawBlog.com, PrisonEducation.com, and ChristopherZoukis.com.

About the Book:

The DIRECTORY OF FEDERAL PRISONS: PrisonLawBlog.com’s Federal Bureau of Prisons Facility Directory by Christopher Zoukis and Dr. Randall
Radic is a comprehensive, yet succinct, guide to the contact information and basic character profile information of every prison within the Federal Bureau of Prisons, plus all private prisons under contract with the Federal Bureau of Prisons to house federal inmates.

It is an essential guide for everyone who knows anyone incarcerated within the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and sets the standard for basic character profiles and contact information for the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

This electronic guidebook enables attorneys, family members and friends of federal prisoners, journalists, government officials, prison volunteers, and members of the general public to quickly locate the contact information and inmate correspondence address of every prison within the Federal Bureau of Prisons and every private prison which houses federal inmates.

Virtual Book Tour Highlights: 

"My career as a writer has largely revolved around America's criminal justice system because I, in fact, am a federal prisoner. I am currently incarcerated at FCI Petersburg, a medium-security federal prison in Petersburg, Virginia. Due to my experiences with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a need was revealed. Prisoners are so often cut off from their families and loved ones due to restrictive correspondence policies. Likewise, it is a nightmare for journalists and reporters to obtain even basic information about the various Federal Bureau of Prisons' facilities. Thus this genre and the Directory of Federal Prisons. I aim to connect people, plain and simple."

-- Virginia Beach Publishing Examiner (click here to read more) 

"High-security institutions, also known as United States Penitentiaries (USPs), have highly-secured perimeters (featuring walls or reinforced fences), multiple- and single-occupant cell housing, the highest staff-to-inmate ratio, and close control of inmate movement."

-- I'm Shelf-ish (click here to read more) 

"The idea for the Directory of Federal Prisons was a natural outgrowth of my prison education and prisoners' rights advocacy.  In my work, I regularly field questions from prisoners' families, friends, attorneys, and even journalists who either need to get in contact with a federal prisoner or are in search of basic character profile information about a specific federal prison.  In an effort to help these diverse groups -- and more importantly, help keep families together -- I decided to compile the Directory of Federal Prisons.  The goal was to produce a product which would help connect people outside of federal prison with those inside.  I believe that this goal has been accomplished."

-- The Writer's Life (click here to read more) 

"There are few aspects of life that we hold so dear than the nearly instantaneous contact we have with our friends and loved ones. Mothers like to know that they can call their daughters on their cell phones to ensure that they are on their way home from school. Fathers like to call their sons to find out what parking lot to pick them up at when at the mall. And friends constantly text, instant message, and email about everything imaginable. This is the world we live in, and it has changed drastically with the technological revolution."

-- The Story Behind the Book (click here to read more) 

"The family members and friends of federal prisoners confined within the Federal Bureau of Prisons are a silent yet growing population in the United States.  As of December 2013, there were almost 218,000 federal prisoners housed across the United States in 189 federal facilities and 15 private prisons.  None of these federal prison inmates have access to a cell phone.  None can accept calls, they must place them at terminals in their housing units.  And none of them have access to regular email, instead they must use a restricted and scaled down service — Corrlinks.com and the BOP’s Trust Fund Limited Inmate Computer System (TRULINCS) — to send messages back and forth.  Their use of these communications can be prohibitively expensive, at a cost more than many make from their institutional work assignments each month."

-- Literal Exposure (click here to read more) 

Click here to visit Christopher's official tour page.

 





Wednesday, May 28, 2014

PUYB Virtual Book Club: Q&A with Leonard H. Roller, author of 'Darklight'



 Leonard H. Roller was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He holds a BA degree in journalism from New York University, an MA in comparative literature from Columbia University. He has worked as an actor and public relations executive whose clients included such stars as Audrey Hepburn, Kirk Douglas, Joan Crawford, Paul Newman, and others. He’s been a communications consultant for Lockheed, Mattel, and Hilton Hotels and Resorts. He has served as a French translator for the U. S. Army in France, where he spent leave time climbing in the Alps. The author of a communications training text The Profits of Persuasion  (International Resources, 1986), his poems have been published in The Lyric, Pearl, The Storyteller, Deronda Review, Ancient Paths, Snowy Egret, Space and Time Magazine, Thema, California Quarterly, and many others.

His latest book is a book of poetry, Darklight.

Visit his website at www.leonardhroller.com. 

Welcome to the book club today, Leonard.  Your poetry is definitely fascinating.  When did you begin to write poetry?

Leonard: when I was six years old - an ode to spring. Only five lines but fairly lyrical for a
six-year-old.

Where do you get most of your inspiration from?

Leonard: From God -- and I'm not kidding. Stuff just pops into my head - usually by some strange route from my heart.

Here’s a strange analogy and you can let me know if you agree with it or not, but when I’m happy I can’t write poetry but when I’m sad, that’s the greatest piece of work I’ve ever written.  Do you write when you’re happy, sad or both?

Leonard: I'm usually numb. Only kidding. Although I've written poems when I'm happy,l it's usually when I am sad or angry. Anger is a great kindler of poetry for me.

What do you think is the best piece of poetry you have written?  Would you like to share it with us?

Leonard:The one I haven't written yet. Of those I have written so far I don't exactly play favorites. One I like, from my book "Darklight" is:
           At the heart of every sun the blackness,
           At the heart of every joy the fear,
           At the heart of each black hole imprisoned light.
           The universe obsessed by warring day and night.

That was beautiful.  Where did you get the inspiration for it?

Leonard: From the universe.

What other books of poetry have you published?

Leonard: "The Profits of Persuasion," a text on spoken and media communications for spokespersons.

What’s next for you, Leonard?

Leonard: It's in the stars. More (published!) poetry, I hope.

Book of Dreams by Sylvie Michaud

Title:  Book of Dreams
Author: Sylvie Michaud
Genre: Children’s bedtime stories
Paperback: 24 pages
Publisher: Crafty Canuck, Inc. (March 28, 2012)
ISBN-13: 978-0-9782955-8-5 (Print Soft Cover)
Kindle: B00BTPBX0Q


Purchase at AMAZON

Book of Dreams sees Baby Raccoon’s parents use clouds to share their dreams of a better future. In the story, Mama and Papa use clouds to share their dreams about a healthy planet and vibrant future for Baby Ringtail. In the book, Baby Ringtail asks Mama and Papa, “Why is every cloud a different shape?” “Clouds are pictures in the sky that help us dream,” Mama Ringtail replies.

Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE

Burdened by Peiri Ann



Title: Burdened
Author: Peiri Ann
Publisher: Peiri Ann
Pages: 246
Genre: Paranormal Romance New Adult
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

Tracey Warren has everything an eighteen year old girl should. She lives a life of expectancies; go to school, please her parents, party with friends, and revel in life as a young adult. That is until she experiences an unexpected life changing accident caused by Nathan Newcomb; an illegally attractive yet perplexed guy who has her fumbling over her words and cracking her head on the concrete. In being enthralled by his overwhelming existence, Tracey neglects his promise of death (which never falls short of Nathan) and in ignoring his guarantee, she chooses to give into love over sanity and risks her life for the opportunity of being with him.

Nathan, knowing the risks gives into this want to have Tracey presuming it may be better to jeopardize their possible ending, than to allow her to endure the pain of his devoid. Nonetheless, with him being a burdened Sephlem, not only are they burdened by their adversaries who will risk everything but the exposure of their existence to see Nathan fall. But Nathan and Tracey come to find that their most sinister enemies lie under their same roof and regrettably share the same bloodline.

Book Excerpt:


The last week before a break, Mrs. Kimble’s class always lasts forever! I cannot wait for this week to be over. It’s almost spring break—the next best thing to look forward to, apart from summer. It’s the start of the warming days, when we can lose the coats and start letting some skin show. That earthy scent comes back, due to the freshly bloomed flowers and trees, and the newly grown grass.
Oh yeah, and the preeminent point—lack of class. My impatience for graduation, in a few months, also grinds at the back of my head.
Still three days to go, until I can enjoy our week of no school and not waking up early. Mrs. Kimble moves on to literary words that are meant to capture your feelings when you speak. Yeah, only three more days—if I can ever get out of this long-ass class!
“So,” Glen pulls me from my thoughts, tapping my back, “what do you have planned for our lovely break that’s coming up?”
I turn a quarter of the way to her, not wanting to draw attention to us. “Nothing much. I haven’t put too much thought into it. What about you?”
“Well, you know, Andrew Stevens is planning the next break party, I think it is Friday at 9, or maybe 10.” She looks up to the ceiling, then nods. “I heard it from Robert, in the hall.”
Break party, it’s what we call any party thrown the last day of school and the opening of a break. It seems lame, thinking of it now. I guess it serves its purpose though.
Intriguing, I think, as I speak. “Andrew is not known for throwing parties, especially at his place—his mother would murder him if she found out.”
“Well, he is apparently willing to risk it—that’s why everyone is planning to go. It so has to be worth it,” she chimes, in anticipation. “So yeah, very intriguing.”
“Tracey and Glen, is the talk of Andrew’s party more important than the study going on in this English class?” Here she goes. Mrs. Kimble, on another role of trying to embarrass her students by using her bionic ears to ease-drop on their conversations.
Today, Tracey Warren and Glen Richards are on her hit list.
Of course not, Mrs. Kimble!” Glen says with exaggeration. “Nothing is more important than what is going on within your exceptional English class.” Glen is the best smart-ass in existence. We have known each other since grade school. When her, her mom, and her older sister moved to Bennington, here in Vermont, she walked into my classroom and our third grade teacher assigned her the desk next to mine. I smiled at her and she offered me one of her princess erasers. We have been tied at the hip ever since.
“Now Glen, with your equipped sarcasm, you should try directing your efforts more towards paying attention to your studies,” Mrs. Kimble states calmly, while giving her a piercing look over the bridge of her glasses, “rather than towards being a smart-aleck.”
We have gotten each other into hell, and she has been the one to get us out; —in most cases. We are both eighteen, though she is a few months older than me; yet, I’m taller than she is. While I have dark-brown—almost black—hair, she has that pretty, sandy-brown hair that many girls color their heads to achieve. Freckles cover her cheeks, and I have a beauty mark resting aside my left eye. We both have curvy shapes that pull eyes as we walk, and Glen flaunts hers with an ‘I got it, girl’ attitude.
“Smart-Aleck!” Glen gasps. “Mrs. Kimble,” she says, slowly and with emphasis, “now, with your high expectations of me, you know I wouldn’t dare. I love being one of the students you go home thinking of, how you can make me into a better person before I leave this school.” She flashes her pearly whites and winks at Mrs. Kimble.
The other students in the class snicker and shake their heads. Mrs. Kimble—for a moment—only glares at Glen. The bell rings loudly, jarring her attention.
That bell may take forever to ring, but it is always right – on – time! Gathering my things, all I hear is giggling, rambles, and shuffling from the other students trying to rush from the classroom. Looking at each other, Glen and I attempt to make a run for it.
The last thing I need is for Mrs. Kimble to desire to keep me in this classroom any longer than the hour I already had to suffer through.

 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

In the Mirror by Kaira Rouda



Title: In the Mirror
Author: Kaira Rouda
Publisher: Real You Publishing Group
Pages: 214
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

What choices would you make if you knew you might die soon?

From the multi award-winning, best-selling author of four books, including Here, Home, Hope, a gripping and heart wrenching novel about a young mother who has it all. The only problem is she may be dying.

In her previous works including All the Difference, Rouda's characters "sparkle with humor and heart," and the stories are "told with honest insight and humor" (Booklist). 

"Inspirational and engaging" (ForeWord), these are the novels you'll turn to for strong female characters and an "engaging read" (Kirkus). 

In the Mirror is the story of Jennifer Benson, a woman who seems to have it all. Diagnosed with cancer, she enters an experimental treatment facility to tackle her disease the same way she tackled her life - head on. But while she's busy fighting for a cure, running her business, planning a party, staying connected with her kids, and trying to keep her sanity, she ignores her own intuition and warnings from others and reignites an old relationship best left behind.

If you knew you might die, what choices would you make? How would it affect your marriage? How would you live each day? And how would you say no to the one who got away?

Book Excerpt:

Rolling over to get out of bed, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and cringed. My reflection said it all. Everything had changed.
I looked like death.
I blinked, moving my gaze from the mirror, and noticed the calendar. It was Monday again. That meant everything in the real world. It meant groaning about the morning and getting the kids off to school. It meant struggling to get to the office on time and then forcing yourself to move through the day. It meant the start of something new and fresh and undetermined. But Mondays meant nothing at Shady Valley. We lived in the “pause” world, between “play” and “stop.” Suspension was the toughest part for me. And loneliness. Sure, I had visitors, but it wasn’t the same as being surrounded by people in motion. I’d been on fast-forward in the real world, juggling two kids and my business, struggling to stay connected to my husband, my friends. At Shady Valley, with beige-colored day after cottage-cheese-tasting day, my pace was, well –
I had to get moving.
I supposed my longing for activity was behind my rather childish wish to throw a party for myself. At least it gave me a mission of sorts. A delineation of time beyond what the latest in a long line of cancer treatments dictated. It had been more than 18 months of treatments, doctor’s appointments, hospitalizations and the like. I embraced the solidity of a deadline. The finality of putting a date on the calendar and knowing that at least this, my party, was something I could control.
I noticed the veins standing tall and blue and bubbly atop my pale, bony hands. I felt a swell of gratitude for the snakelike signs of life, the entry points for experimental treatments; without them, I’d be worse than on pause by now.
I pulled my favorite blue sweatshirt over my head and tugged on my matching blue sweatpants.
Moving at last, I brushed my teeth and then headed next door to Ralph’s. He was my best friend at Shady Valley—a special all-suite, last-ditch-effort experimental facility for the sick and dying—or at least he had been until I began planning my party. I was on his last nerve with this, but he’d welcome the company, if not the topic. He was paused too.
 My thick cotton socks helped me shuffle across my fake wood floor, but it was slow going once I reached the grassy knoll—the leaf-green carpet that had overgrown the hallway. An institutional attempt at Eden, I supposed. On our good days, Ralph and I sometimes sneaked my son’s plastic bowling set out there to partake in vicious matches. We had both been highly competitive, type-A people in the “real” world and the suspended reality of hushed voices and tiptoeing relatives was unbearable at times.
“I’ve narrowed it down to three choices,” I said, reaching Ralph’s open door. “’Please come celebrate my life on the eve of my death. RSVP immediately. I’m running out of time.’”
“Oh, honestly,” Ralph said, rolling his head back onto the pillows propping him up. I knew my time in Shady Valley was only bearable because of this man, his humanizing presence. Even though we both looked like shadows of our outside, real-world selves, we carried on a relationship as if we were healthy, alive. I ignored the surgery scars on his bald, now misshapen head. He constantly told me I was beautiful. It worked for us.  
“Too morbid? How about: ‘Only two months left. Come see the incredible, shrinking woman. Learn diet secrets of the doomed,’” I said, smiling then, hoping he’d join in.
“Jennifer, give it a rest would you?” Ralph said.
“You don’t have to be so testy. Do you want me to leave?” I asked, ready to retreat back to my room.
“No, come in. Let’s just talk about something else, OK, beautiful?”
Ralph was lonely, too. Friends from his days as the city’s most promising young investment banker had turned their backs—they didn’t or couldn’t make time for his death. His wife, Barbara, and their three teenage kids were his only regular visitors. Some days, I felt closer to Ralph than to my own family, who seemed increasingly more absorbed in their own lives despite weekly flowers from Daddy and dutiful visits from Henry, my husband of six years. Poor Henry. It was hard to have meaningful visits at Shady Valley, with nurses and treatments and all manner of interruptions. We still held hands and kissed, but intimacy—even when I was feeling up to it—was impossible.
So, there we were, Ralph and I, two near-death invalids fighting for our lives and planning a party to celebrate that fact. It seemed perfectly reasonable, at least to me, because while I knew I should be living in the moment, the future seemed a little hazy without a party to focus on.
“Seriously, I need input on my party invitations. It’s got to be right before I hand it over to Mother. I value your judgment, Ralph; is that too much to ask?”
“For God’s sake, let me see them.” Ralph snatched the paper out of my hand. After a moment, he handed it back to me. “The last one’s the best. The others are too, well, self-pitying and stupid. Are you sure you can’t just have a funeral like the rest of us?”
I glared at him, but agreed, “That’s my favorite, too.”
Mr. & Mrs. E. David Wells
request your presence at a
celebration in honor of their daughter
Jennifer Wells Benson
Please see insert for your party time
Shady Valley Center
2700 Hocking Ridge Road
RSVP to Mrs. Juliana Duncan Wells
No gifts please—donations to breast cancer research appreciated.
#
 At first, I had been incredibly angry about the cancer. Hannah’s birth, so joyous, had marked the end of my life as a “normal” person. Apparently, it happened a lot. While a baby’s cells multiplied, the mom’s got into the act, mutating, turning on each other. Hannah was barely two weeks old when I became violently ill. My fever was 105 degrees when we arrived in the ER. I think the ER doctors suspected a retained placenta or even some sort of infectious disease, although I was so feverish I can’t remember much from that time. All I remember was the feeling of being cut off from my family—Henry, two-year-old Hank, and newborn Hannah—and marooned on the maternity ward, a place for mothers-to-be on bed rest until their due dates. That was hell.
At 33, I was a pathetic sight. My headache was so intense the curtains were drawn at all times. I didn’t look pregnant anymore, so all the nurses thought my baby had died. That first shift tip-toed around me, murmuring. By the second night, one of them posted a sign: “The baby is fine. Mother is sick.” It answered their questions since I couldn’t. It hurt my head too much to try.
By the third day, my headache had receded to a dull roar. Surgery revealed that there was no retained placenta after all. I was ready to go home to my newborn and my life. So with a slight fever and no answers, I escaped from the hospital and went home to a grateful Henry and a chaotic household. I was weak and tired, but everyone agreed that was to be expected. I thanked God for the millionth time for two healthy kids and my blessed, if busy, life.
And then, not two weeks later, I found the lump.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Tea Shop on Lavender Lane by Sheila Roberts



Title: The Teashop on Lavender Lane
Author: Sheila Roberts
Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Pages: 352
Genre: Women’s Fiction/Romance
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

When it comes to men, sisters don't share! 

After a fake food poisoning incident in L.A., Bailey Sterling's dreams of becoming a caterer to the stars collapse faster than a soufflé. Now Bailey's face is in all the gossip rags and her business is in ruins. But the Sterling women close ranks and bring her back to Icicle Falls, where she'll stay with her sister Cecily.

All goes well between the sisters until Bailey comes up with a new business idea—a tea shop on a charming street called Lavender Lane. She's going into partnership with Todd Black, who—it turns out—is the man Cecily's started dating. It looks to Cecily as if there's more than tea brewing in that cute little shop. And she's not pleased.

Wait! Isn't Cecily seeing Luke Goodman? He's a widower with an adorable little girl, and yes, Cecily does care about him. But Todd's the one who sends her zing-o-meter off the charts. So now what? Should you have to choose between your sister and the man you love (or think you love)?
Book Excerpt:
The party was going perfectly until the hostess clutched her stomach with an agonized cry and crumpled to the floor in a heap.
Rory Rourke, her boyfriend and star of the new TV series Man Handled, knelt by her side and barked, “Someone, call 911.”
“Call her doctor,” said someone else.
“Call The Star Reporter,” the victim said faintly.
And that was when Bailey Sterling knew she was in trouble.
She’d been so excited to land this gig catering Samba Barrett’s party. Samba wasn’t an Emma Stone or Kristen Stewart but she was .... someone. Sort of. And with her catlike green eyes and red hair everyone said she was on her way up, like the rest of her party guests. And surely that had meant Bailey was on her way up, too. The West Hollywood apartment had been packed with hot young actors and actresses. As she’d slipped among them bearing trays of goodies she’d heard more than one person rave about the food and had envisioned a whole string of catering gigs after this one.
The shrimp salsa in Phyllo cups had been an especially big hit. “Oh, my God, this is to die for,” America Winston (from the new reality show Hard Ass) had raved. Bailey had smiled modestly and kept circulating, while her assistant Giorgio served up stuffed mushrooms. She’d been working hard for the last three years to earn a reputation as caterer to the stars and things were finally starting to happen.
Except now here was Samba Barrett, writhing on her living room floor, groaning in agony. Only twenty minutes ago she’d been eating those shrimp cups and laughing. Did she have food allergies she hadn’t told Bailey about? Samba had gone over the menu with Bailey, approved everything. How could this have happened? Was Bailey going to be known as killer of the stars?
Thirty people gathered around the actress, some offering advice, some taking pictures with their cell phones, others texting wildly. Bailey stood on the fringe and nervously downed one of her own appetizers.
“You’ll be okay, baby,” Rory Rourke assured Samba.
“I think I ate something bad,” she whimpered.
“Oh, no, that’s not possible,” Bailey protested and everyone turned to look at her. One woman aimed her cell phone at Bailey, capturing her miserable expression. This couldn’t be happening.
But it could. And it did. Now Bailey felt sick. She lost her grip on the tray of canapes she was carrying and down they went, the tray landing on a Jimmy Choos of one of the party guests who was busy recording her hostess’s misery on her cell phone.
The woman let out a yelp and jumped back, then glared at Bailey.
“Sorry,” Bailey muttered, and bent to scoop the mess onto the tray. In the process she managed to get in the way of another guest, nearly tripping him.
He didn’t settle for glaring. He swore at her.
Caterer hell, that was what this was. Bailey bolted for the kitchen and hid out, watching the drama unfold from behind the counter.