Thursday, January 28, 2010

Author Spotlight: Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin


Few works of literature are as universally beloved as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Now, in this spellbinding historical novel, we meet the young girl whose bright spirit sent her on an unforgettable trip down the rabbit hole–and the grown woman whose story is no less enthralling.

But oh my dear, I am tired of being Alice in Wonderland. Does it sound ungrateful?

Alice Liddell Hargreaves’s life has been a richly woven tapestry: As a young woman, wife, mother, and widow, she’s experienced intense passion, great privilege, and greater tragedy. But as she nears her eighty-first birthday, she knows that, to the world around her, she is and will always be only “Alice.” Her life was permanently dog-eared at one fateful moment in her tenth year–the golden summer day she urged a grown-up friend to write down one of his fanciful stories.

That story, a wild tale of rabbits, queens, and a precocious young child, becomes a sensation the world over. Its author, a shy, stuttering Oxford professor, does more than immortalize Alice–he changes her life forever. But even he cannot stop time, as much as he might like to. And as Alice’s childhood slips away, a peacetime of glittering balls and royal romances gives way to the urgent tide of war.

For Alice, the stakes could not be higher, for she is the mother of three grown sons, soldiers all. Yet even as she stands to lose everything she treasures, one part of her will always be the determined, undaunted Alice of the story, who discovered that life beyond the rabbit hole was an astonishing journey.

A love story and a literary mystery, Alice I Have Been brilliantly blends fact and fiction to capture the passionate spirit of a woman who was truly worthy of her fictional alter ego, in a world as captivating as the Wonderland only she could inspire.

Chapter One

Oxford, 1859

Off with their–legs. That was the curious notion I had as a child.

That certain people–queens, generally–lost their heads was understood to be a historical fact.

But in my world, legs were missing with alarming regularity as well. The men in their long academic robes, the women in their voluminous skirts; everyone skimming, floating, like puffs of cotton in the air–that is the first, and most vivid, memory of my childhood.

I knew, of course, that children possessed legs; yet the legs seemed to disappear as their owners grew up, and if I never questioned the logic of this it must be because, even then, I understood that Oxford was a kingdom unto itself. It was different from, and superior to, the rest of the globe (which of course meant Britain, for those were the years when the sun never set on Victoria’s empire), complete with its own rules, language, and even time; all the clocks in Oxford were set five minutes ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.

Naturally, it follows that if Oxford was its own kingdom, then I was its princess–one of three, to be precise–because my mother was, as everyone knew, its queen.

Remarkable for a woman who bore ten children–one would have assumed she was perpetually in a state of bearing a child, or waiting for a child, or getting over a child–Mamma made certain that the Deanery was the social center of Christ Church, which was of course the social center of Oxford. No one dared give a party or a bazaar or a dance without her approval. At times she even graciously made room for other queens; Victoria herself once stayed with us, although not even her plump, imperious personage intimidated Mamma.

Papa was merely the Dean of Christ Church, responsible for the education and religious upbringing of hundreds of gentlemen, including the sons of that same queen. Even when I was so young that the only place I could look was up, for I was all too well acquainted with the ground, I knew that he was quite important.

Instructors would bow to him, scholars would pale in his presence, princes deferred to him; entire halls full of young men would rise upon his entrance, as well as his departure. While at home he could scarcely make himself heard; he was entirely eclipsed by Mamma, and entirely happy to be so. There was even a silly rhyme that made the rounds of Christ Church in those days–

I am the Dean, and this is Mrs. Liddell She plays the first, and I the second fiddle
This did not reach my ears, however, until much later. For as the daughter of the Dean and Mrs. Liddell, I was sheltered, at least for a time, from most of the gossip that was the chief occupation of some of the finest scholarly minds of the age.
Privileged was how I would describe my early years, if only because I was told that they were such. I knew no life before Oxford, although Papa was, even then, a rising academic; domestic chaplain to Prince Albert, headmaster of the Westminster School in London. I was baptized in the Abbey, the fourth child, second daughter.

Ina was not baptized in the Abbey. I may have reminded her of this with some regularity. While we still lived in London, an older brother, Arthur, died of scarlet fever. Papa had difficulty speaking of him later; his kind face, with the aristocratic nose and decided chin (which I, unfortunately, inherited) would grow quizzical, his brow furrowing, as if he–such a learned man–could not understand the simplest, most frequently asked question of all:

Why?

I don’t recall that Mamma ever spoke of it one way or another.

Although surely that can’t be true.

When I was scarcely four–in 1856–we arrived in Oxford, upon Papa’s appointment as Dean of Christ Church. By then the family included Harry, the eldest; followed by Lorina, myself, and Edith–the three princesses. Ina was three years older than I, Edith two years younger. All of us–along with servants, fine china, heirloom silver, imported linens, and all the other necessities of a distinguished household–moved into the Deanery, which Papa had arranged to be enlarged and remodeled to accommodate our growing family. Even so, it was never quite large enough for Mamma’s ambitions.

It was in this world, this Oxford, that my first memories were made. It was a peculiar world for a little girl, in many ways; there were few children my age, as all the students and dons at the time were supposed to be celibate. Only the deans, the senior members of the college, were allowed to marry, and most of them were of an age where children weren’t possible. Papa was rather the exception to the rule, and I believe that he was proud of the fact.

Perhaps that was why there were so many of us.

Each night, after I was snug in bed, Old Tom, the bell in the imposing tower that was the centerpiece of Christ Church, tolled one hundred and one times (signifying the original number of students at the college); even as I struggled to remain awake for the first chime, I rarely made it all the way through to the end.

Our home, the Deanery, was opposite the tower, our front entrance part of the pale stone fortress of buildings bordering the flat green Quad; we also had a private entrance opening up to the back garden. Quite literally, we lived among the students; I remember walking with Ina and Edith–three little maids all in a row, always dressed exactly alike, crisp white frocks in summer, rich velvets in winter–in the Quad with our governess, Miss Prickett, as young men removed their caps and bowed low, exaggeratedly, at our approach.

Excerpted from Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin Copyright © 2010 by Melanie Benjamin. Excerpted by permission of Delacorte Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


Praise for Alice I Have Been!

"I highly recommend Alice I Have Been to readers of all genres. There is intrigue, mystery, literary based facts, history, romance and such a wide variety of genres, all brought together in one amazing and unforgettable story. I commend Ms. Benjamin on her work and eagerly await future novels from her!" -Cafe of Dreams

"Alice I Have Been is very beautifully written and plunges the reader into the world of the real Alice. The story is genuine and had me so emotionally invested that it brought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion. I would definitely encourage anyone to read it." -Elizabeth T., Luxury Reading

"Benjamin’s writing is impeccable...So, please, if you listen to anything I have to say this year, please let it be this….READ ALICE, I HAVE BEEN!!!! You will LOVE it!" -Passages to the Past

Melanie Benjamin lives in the Chicago area with her husband and two sons, where she is working on her next historical novel. Visit her website at www.melaniebenjamin.com.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Author Spotlight: How Obama Governed by Earl Ofari Hutchinson



Author and political analyst Earl Ofari Hutchinson takes a no-political holds barred look at President Barack Obama’s first year in office. He answers one compelling question: Did he fulfill the massive and sweeping promise he made to restore hope and effect change in America?

This promise energized millions, reshaped the nation’s political tapestry, and propelled the first African-American into the White House. Hutchinson examines where and how Obama kept his promise, and where and how he failed to keep it. He examines in laser detail the attacks and counterattacks from the GOP and the Democrats. He delineates the differences and similarities between Obama and Bush in waging the war on terrorism. He assesses the towering battles over health care, the economy, racial attacks, the GOP counterinsurgency, Afghanistan, and the Henry Louis Gates flap. He provides readers with a guide as to how Obama will continue to govern.

How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge offers a virtual political clinic on the crisis and challenges that the nation and its first African-American president faced his first year in the White House.


Author Says Obama Faces New Crisis with Election Loss of Top Democrats


The announcement that Connecticut Democratic Senator Chris Dodd and other leading Democrats won’t run for re-election puts poses a new crisis President Obama. In his new book How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge, author and political analyst Earl Ofari Hutchinson predicted that there would be major losses among Democrats in 2010. He noted that some of those losses would be among top Democrats.

Hutchinson notes that this could cripple Obama’s efforts to get his agenda on immigration, cap and trade, implementing health care reforms, and his judicial appointments through Congress. It will also mortally wound Obama’s efforts to make bi-partisanship the watchword of his administration.

“The loss, defection, and potential defeat of top Democrats in 2010 will stiffen the GOP in its opposition to much of Obama’s agenda,” says Hutchinson, “It will also put Democrats on the political defensive. This will present yet another major challenge to Obama’s administration to stem the tide of political reverses.”

In How Obama Won, Hutchinson gives a no holds barred assessment of the make and break issues that confront Obama in 2010. These are the issues that will determine whether Obama can really deliver on his lofty promise of hope and change.


Earl Ofari Hutchinson is a nationally acclaimed author and political analyst. Hutchinson is the author of ten books on race and politics in America. His three most recent books are: How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge, How Obama Won, and The Ethnic Presidency: How Race decides the Race to the White House

His featured interviews and comments on race and politics have appeared in Time, Newsweek, the New York Times, and ABC’s World News Tonight.

He has been a guest analyst on the Fox News John Gibson Show, the O’Reilly Factor, Hannity & Colmes, the Glenn Beck Show, PBS Lehrer Report, NPR’s Talk of the Nation and various CNN News shows.


Hutchinson is the National Political Writer for New America Media and a regular contributor to The Huffington Post.

Author Spotlight: Susie Larson and Embracing Your Freedom



While our culture places great emphasis on comfort, security, control, and success, there are deeper rewards for those who take hold of God’s promises and reach out in the Name of Christ. Adventure, faith, miracles, and a deep knowledge of Jesus Christ. This is what Susie calls her readers to realize.

Many women feel stuck in their faith. They are bored living in a Christian bubble and long for the greater adventure of significance God designed for them! But just how do we move past our fears and the lies that keep us bound to our past? And are we really called to change the world? Embracing Your Freedom: A Personal Experience of God's Heart for Justice will give you a deeper understanding of your freedom in Christ and a bigger view of God's heart for the world.

EXCERPT

“As you become more aware of God's heart for freedom, your heart will burn for it as well. If you will dare to put your foot down on the promises of God and refuse to relent until freedom becomes your reality, your appetite for the freedoms of others will increase as well. Take seriously what God has offered you here, because as a Believer living in this day, you are in a powerful position of influence." --Embracing Your Freedom

"'Embracing Your Freedom' was written for you--a woman who desires to live in personal freedom and is willing to help the helpless become free. Prepare to be challenged and emboldened. Prepare to change and become more like Jesus!" - Kendra Smiley, conference speaker, and author of Be the Parent, Journey of a Strong-willed Child, and Do Your Kids a Favor...Love Your Spouse

"In this important book, Susie invites women into life that really is life by naming them, naming us, as agents to extend God's justice to those who are bound. Women today are hungry for this kind of holy congruity. Thank you, Susie!" -Margot Starbuck, author of The Girl in the Orange Dress: Searching for a Father Who Does Not Fail


Ask Susie about her conviction for women, and she'll tell you, "The two pillars in my ministry, the two things I care most about are for women to be drawn into a 'deeper life in Christ' that they might live more 'powerful lives on earth.' When we pursue a thriving, personal, intimate walk of faith, we can't help but be compelled to make a difference in our world." With enthusiasm, humor, and conviction, author/speaker Susie Larson has spoken to thousands of women locally, nationally, and internationally. She is a member of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Women in Christian Media, and has served on the board of directors for the Christian Authors Network. Susie also regularly fills in as guest host for Along the Way - a two-hour talk radio show (AM Faith 900). Susie worked as a freelance writer for Focus on the Family, and published over fifty articles with them. She has been featured on radio and TV programs across the country, including Moody Midday Connection, Family Life Today, Chris Fabry Live!, The Harvest Show, and the LIFE Today Show with James and Betty Robison.

While in Washington D.C., Susie and her husband Kevin, along with Troy and Sara Groves, represented International Justice Mission's*concerns in meetings with Congress as part of their efforts to abolish and prevent human trafficking and slavery. The four of them serve as co-chairs for the IJM benefit banquet in Minnesota. Susie and her husband Kevin have been married since 1985 and have three wonderful, grown sons. Susie comes with a passion to share the love of a Savior who will never let us go. Susie's messages will help you to:

Cultivate a more personal and thriving relationship with Jesus
Understand God's promises and be more bold in your faith
Understand your value and the important call on your life
Comprehend God's heart for the least-of-these.

You can visit Susie online at http://susielarson.com/.

*IJM, among other things, rescues young girls from the horrific life of human trafficking. (visit www.ijm.org)



Monday, January 25, 2010

Author Spotlight: Mass Casualties by SPC Michael Anthony



“Look around,” the drill sergeant said. “In a few years, or even a few months, several of you will be dead. Some of you will be severely wounded or so badly mutilated that your own mother can’t stand the sight of you. And for the real unlucky ones, you will come home so emotionally disfigured that you wish you had died over there.”

It was Week 7 of basic training . . . eighteen years old and I was preparing myself to die.


They say the Army makes a man out of you, but for eighteen-year-old SPC Michael Anthony, this fabled rite of passage is instead a dark and dangerous journey. After obtaining his parents’ approval to enlist at seventeen, Anthony begins this journey with an unshakeable faith in the military based on his family’s long tradition of service. But when he finds himself in a medical unit of misfits as lost as he is, Anthony not only witnesses firsthand the unspeakable horror of war, he experiences the undeniable misconduct of the military. Everything he’s ever believed in dissolves, forcing Anthony to rethink his ideals and ultimately risk his career—and his freedom—to challenge the military that once commanded his loyalty.

This searing memoir chronicles the experiences that change one young soldier forever. A seasoned veteran before the age of twenty-one, he faces the truth about the war—and himself—in this shocking and unprecedented eyewitness account.

Praise for Mass Casualties!

“Michael Anthony’s memoir is not about the politics of Iraq. Instead it takes us deep inside the war, inside and outside the operating room, the barracks, the talk of the soldiers, the feeling of the situation. It joins the body of war literature in a unique and powerful way.”

—Howard Zinn, Civil Rights Leader, Historian
Author of: A People’s History of the United States



Anthony’s painful account of his time at war is at times difficult to read. This coming of age war memoir details the very gut wrenching journey he takes into manhood in the backdrop of grueling combat. His voice is unique and deserves to be heard. We may not all agree with why we fight, but I am proud to be of a generation with Warriors like Anthony, who are compelled to share these important life altering experiences.”

“—David Bellavia, Iraq Veteran
Author of: House to House: An Epic Memoir of War




Michael Anthony (MA) seemed destined to serve from the day he was born. The youngest of seven children, Michael has four brothers and two sisters, all but one of whom joined the military. His father and two grandfathers were also in the Military.

After graduating high school, he joined the Army Reserves, went through basic training, and then went through job training to become an Operating Room Medic. One year later he returned home and enrolled in college to begin his first semester. Almost immediately upon finishing his first semester he was shipped off to Wisconsin to train for four months before he would leave and spend his next year in Iraq. Michael is now back in the States and working toward a Bachelor’s Degree in creative writing.

You can visit his website at www.masscasualties.com

Follow Michael's tour all month long by visiting http://virtualbooktours.wordpress.com/

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sweet Pain by Charles Franklin Emery, Author of The Man and His Manic



Today's guest blogger is Charles Franklin Emery, author of A Man and His Maniac: The Bunkie Story - Second Edition.

A Man and His Maniac: The Bunkie Story – Second Edition, is a heartfelt memoir about Bunkie, the yellow Labrador Retriever Wonder dog. The memoir contains highlights of a 14-year chronological voyage through Bunkie’s and the author's life.

It won’t take you 14 years to read it; but it’s got 14 years worth of love, laughs and tears buried within. The memoir is primarily a humor piece, but has some serious components as well, and deals with the positive aspects of pet ownership as well as the grief associated with losing a loved pet and family member.



"The man gazes at the Boston Terrier puppy in the crook of his arm. The puppy is lying on his back and stares adoringly into the man's eyes. The man has seen that look before and once again, falls in love with a pup. He knows that loving look is a con and loves the pup all the more for it. Wishful thinking perhaps, but the man feels that his departed Lab is looking back at him from those deep brown eyes. The eyes are a window into the soul and the man likes what he sees within. He looks at the lady who has brought the puppy to him and nods acceptance. Transaction complete, the man places the pup on a camouflage jacket in the cab of his truck that lies next to him; that jacket has a history and scent from the man's beloved Lab. The puppy is instantly comforted and settles into slumber cuddled up next to the man. For the first time in a long time the man's soul is at rest."

I’ve always had a love for dogs.

When I was a kid I would always pester my Dad for a dog. Dad loved dogs too. In fact, Pop loved all animals.

We also loved to hunt, Dad and me. My Dad taught me to respect all life and to never take another life lightly. That meant that you eat what you kill, fish or fowl or furry critter, with the exception of killing varmints that were damaging your other animals or property.

I learned early on that my pets had a shorter life expectancy than me. I don’t care who you are, that’s a tough truth to deal with as a youngster and even as an adult.

It doesn’t matter how much you love your critter, that will not make them live any longer than what they are supposed to live. That’s a tough reality.

I describe the realization that you will have to deal with the death of your loved pet as a Sweet Pain. The sweetness comes from the unconditional love that you receive from your critter and the love that you deal back to your buddy. We all know where the pain comes from.

But you know what? It’s worth it.

All you have to know is that it’s not your fault that your buddy passes on; they were going to go anyway. You also have to know that when your buddy is/was with you that they lived a privileged life; that you loved them and made their existence on this world a good one. You can be proud of that and happy that you were able to make your friend happy when he/she was with you.

That is a GOOD thing. It is a SWEET PAIN.

I know that it hurts to put your friend out of his misery when the time comes. You must know that it is an act of love; nothing else. Do not second-guess yourself as to whether you did it too soon; in your heart you must know that it was the right time. You know that it was time, so do not beat yourself up over the inevitable. You had the courage to do what was right; never denigrate yourself over doing the humane thing for your loved ones, whether human or critter.

You love; therefore you hurt. The greater the love; the greater the hurt. What better testament can there be?

I may be naïve, but I also believe that if there is a final reward after this life we live, and I do, that our critter buddies will be there to greet and guide us into that life. In my heart I feel this.

I guess my message to you is this: don’t let the fear of loss keep you from taking another critter buddy into your home, arms and bed. It is a sweet pain that gives more than it takes.

My Dad taught me this and I believe it. You should too.


Charles Franklin Emery III was born in Los Angeles, California in 1956. He joined the US Navy Submarine force in 1977 and spent the following six years on Fast Attack and Fleet Ballistic Missile submarines as a Sonar Technician and Sonar Supervisor. He forged a career in commercial Nuclear Power and is now a Consulting Engineer to various electric utilities. He is an avid fisherman and hunter, enjoys working on his 1964 Plymouth Savoy and collecting colonial American coins. Drag Racing is also a passion and his 1964 Plymouth Savoy Nostalgia Super Stocker provides the needed outlet. He now resides with a Boston Terrier horde and his wife Sherry in Port Saint Lucie, Florida.

Charles’s early influences are Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes mysteries). Sprinkle in a liberal dose of Sports Afield, Popular Hot Rodding and Saltwater Fisherman magazines and that about wraps it up.
Charles always had an interest in dogs, as his father and he were avid hunters and nature lovers. Charles spent a large amount of his youth hunting and fishing the Coachella Valley in the Southern California desert. There he chased quail, dove and rabbits and fished the Salton Sea for Corvina, Sargo and Croakers.

Charles developed a love for muscle cars. He grew up in the Los Angeles suburbs in Bellflower surrounded by the raucous exhaust tones of the high horsepower years that defined the muscle car era. He is passionate about Mopars and thus his present ownership and obsession with his 1964 Plymouth Savoy.

Charles is also a mentor to various nuclear industry entities and enjoys teaching the next generation electrical power theory and relay testing techniques and regimen.
Charles owns and operates his own publishing imprint, Bunkiedog Press. The website address for Bunkiedog Press is http://www.bunkiedog.com.

Bunkiedog Press has published “Dad, Dog and Fish” & “A Man and His Maniac: The Bunkie Story” and “A Man and His Maniac: The Bunkie Story” – Second Edition”. He is currently working on the memoirs “Moondoggie and the Boston Terrier Horde”, “Gearhead” and “Bubblehead”.


Visit other stops on Charles's virtual book tour by checking in every weekday in January at http://virtualbooktours.wordpress.com/

Monday, January 18, 2010

Author Spotlight: Tales for Delicious Girls by Barbora Knobova


What’s in a word? Anything you want there to be! D for daring, E for enchanting, for loving, I for inspiring, C for captivating, I for intriguing, O for outgoing, U for unique, S for sophisticated: DELICIOUS.

Twenty-five exhilarating real-life stories about delicious women, eccentric men and stubborn dogs.

This book is meant to entertain you. It will make you laugh until there are tears in your eyes. It will become your faithful companion, and will help you find yourself. It was written for you because you’re delicious – the most delicious girl in the world.

Tales for Delicious Girls offers witty, refreshing, clever and ironic insight into relationships between men and women from all points of view. The book is a modern relationship manual, providing answers to the most pressing dating and friendship questions that strong, independent, modern women want to know. Tales for Delicious Girls deals with wishes, desires and dreams – as well as hilarious mishaps and dating disasters.

However, Tales for Delicious Girls is not simply a humorous book. In addition to entertaining the readers, the tales will inspire women to think about their own life and relationships, see themselves through different eyes and realize that they are their own best friend, the pillar of their own life, and the only person they can always count on. Tales for Delicious Girls encourages women to love, respect and appreciate themselves, to live the life they have always wanted, and become aware of their true uniqueness and deliciousness.

Tales for Delicious Girls contains over fifty beautiful, original illustrations by Nela Vadlejchova.

EXCERPT:

Looking back at some of my serious relationships, would-be relationships, love affairs and relationships beyond any definition, my mind boggles at all those things I was (almost) able to do for men. I almost became a Jew, a Muslim, a devoted member of the Anglican Church and a lover of mushy peas that I’ve hated since kindergarten. I put up with possessive mothers-in-law, admired jealous sisters-in-law, played with unbearably spoiled nephews and adoringly took care of senile aunts. I went on a four-day trek through the desert and ate matzo in a kibbutz, although I’m a convinced city girl. I celebrated Pesah, Ramadan and I almost had myself christened. I also almost moved a few times, changed my job and pretended that I was not at all cold in that awful chilly apartment with mold on the walls, and that it was an amazingly manly, bohemian pad. A week after a major surgery, I dragged myself through bleak December London by public transport only to prove what a cool and low-maintenance girl I was. Not to mention the emotional and financial damage that I suffered during all those enthusiastic efforts, and that I did not give a damn about until I completely sobered up and started to act again as a rational homo sapiens, that is, as a person compos mentis.

And why am I writing all this? Because of the extremely important word “almost”. Because of the little word “almost”, thanks to which I now recall all those crazy and idiotic escapades bordering on derangement with grace, amusement and with a smile on my face. Because of the word “almost”, thanks to which I actually like remembering them because l’aventure c’est l’aventure, or adventure is adventure, as a French movie with Lino Ventura claims. And adventure is necessary, adventure ensures that I will not get bored and that one day I will have something to tell my grandchildren (supposing I withhold a few unimportant details that I prefer not to admit even to myself).

However, some women have tough luck with the word “almost”, as it seems to avoid them. It keeps jumping back, hiding and reappearing. And from the heights of its own elusiveness, it laughs at them and mocks them. In the upshot, many of us end up with an empty bank account, with an empty apartment, with empty hands and hitting rock bottom. At the best, with bruises on our soul. At the worst, with bruises even on the soul’s outer wrapping.

Nevertheless, this chameleon syndrome implying “I will be what you want me to be” probably affects only women. If you know a man who, because of “the love of his life”, gives up his job, his family, his fat cat whose hairs you are allergic to, and his disgusting high school sneakers that are “as good as new”, introduce him to me. Introduce him to me and I will have him submitted to a thorough psychological examination as an absurd natural phenomenon.

A man is simply an inadaptable creature. A man goes to bed when he is sick, even if a windstorm takes away the roof above his head and his boss threatens to fire him. A man eats what he likes, in the pub that he has adored since college parties. A man does not pretend that his biggest dream is to spend the evening with you and your bitter high school friend “whom you can’t stand anyway, you told me that last Wednesday”. He does not walk your beagle if he hates dogs. And he does not join you on a guided tour in Madrid if he is all but enthusiastic about the gems of architecture. And a man does not care if you like it or not, if you fume with rage, cry or get mad and stop talking to him. He does not care what the others think of his decisions, choices and wacky opinions. He couldn’t care less, and actually, he wouldn’t even think of worrying about it because it’s a loss of time and especially of energy that needs to be saved for much more meaningful and much more entertaining stuff.

And that’s the point. Why do women trim their sails while men remain in their comfort zone? Why do we push ourselves to the limit, live on our nerves, give up our soul, our personality, the little things we love? Why do we pretend, fake, lie blatantly to ourselves and on top of that manage to become convinced that it’s making us happy? Why do we rigorously get rid of everything that makes us unique? What for?

Let’s try to put an end to it once and for all. Let’s try to love ourselves unconditionally; let’s protect ourselves and everything that belongs to us. Let’s not conform to the needs, ideas or demands of relationships in which we cannot be ourselves and in which we don’t even recognize ourselves anymore. Because men, lovers, admirers and potential (sometimes even real) fathers of our children come and go; some stay for awhile, some stay a little bit longer and some might stay forever, but that’s something we never know in advance. The only thing that stays forever is us. So don’t ever give up on yourself, because you are your own most precious possession.

READ WHAT THEY'RE SAYING ABOUT TALES FOR DELICIOUS GIRLS!

“I have five daughters and want them all to read this book. I want them to remember that you are your own best friend, and when the rest of the world seems against you, when love has given you the dirty end of the stick, you should be able to look in the mirror, hold your head up, and smile right back. Why? Because every female is a Delicious Girl = D for daring, E for enchanting, L for loving, I for inspiring, C for captivating, I for intriguing, O for outgoing, U for unique, S for sophisticated: DELICIOUS!” –Kelly Wallace

“The most important lesson that the female reader learns from this book is set out in the first chapter; this being that you are fantastic the way you are and shouldn’t change for anyone, and that you should love yourself. If you manage to form this relationship with yourself then the likelihood is that the right man will come into your life. You can’t change people, so why should you change yourself for them, whether it is your hair, what you enjoy doing or more serious parts of you that make you so very special.”
–Sarah Pierce

“This book is delish! sweet and adorable. I felt as though I could conquer the world after I finished it. It was such a nice twist over the usual self-help books that are always telling me (us) that we need to improve, develop and grow.” –Bookshipper



Barbora Knobova is a writer, relationship coach and expert in Delicious Life. A world traveler, she is one of those rare world citizens who live everywhere and nowhere. Barbora is a firm believer in female friendship, loyalty and bonding. She writes hilarious, sharp-witted, caustically apt, ironic, moving, true books for strong, independent, smart, fearless women. Barbora has also written several self-improvement books and teaches women about the importance of self-love in relationships and life in general. Barbora speaks eight languages and has found her home away from home in New York, London and Milan. She is always on the move, accompanied by her beagle Brinkley, the nasty dog from Tales for Delicious Girls. You can visit her website at http://www.barboraknobova.com/.

To follow Barbora's virtual book tour, visit http://virtualbooktours.wordpress.com/ during the month of January.

A great nutrient for the heart! by Dr. Jonny Bowden


Today's guest blogger is Dr. Jonny Bowden, author of The Most Effective Ways to Live Longer: The Surprising, Unbiased Truth About What You Should Do to Prevent Disease, Feel Great, and Have Optimum Health and Longevity.

In this entertaining and life-changing book, best-selling nutritionist Jonny Bowden, PhD explains how all diseases of aging really come down to four basic processes which he calls “The Four Horsemen of Aging”—Inflammation, Glycation, Oxidation and Stress. You’ll learn exactly how they age you and just what to do to prevent them.

You’ll learn how aging affects five major components of the body - the brain, the heart, the hormone system, the immune system and the bones and muscles; and how to prevent or slow aging in all these areas.

Finally, you’ll learn the secrets of the “Blue Zones”- those areas around the globe where people routinely live healthy and productive lives into their late 90’s and beyond. You’ll learn the surprising truth about what to eat, what exercises to do, and what simple lifestyle changes you can make to support a ten-decade life of autonomy, health, joy and productivity

"A great nutrient for the heart!" by Dr. Jonny Bowden

Here’s a story I’ll never forget.

My mother was admitted to the hospital in the last week of her 87-year life. The doctors diagnosed her with congestive heart failure.

I immediately asked that, in addition to whatever treatment the doctors prescribed, she be put on a high dose of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). The first doctor told me he didn’t know what that was. The second doctor said he had heard of it but it couldn’t do any good and wasn’t on their hospital pharmacy list. And the head nurse said, “Oh, that’s some kind of enzyme that the heart makes when it’s in trouble, right?”

I knew right there we were in for trouble.

It didn’t matter that I faxed them fifty pages of peer-reviewed literature from the National Institute of Medicine. They wouldn’t budge.

Let me be blunt: The doctors who told me that they didn’t know what CoQ10 was or that it couldn’t possibly help were pompous idiots.

“Although coenzyme Q10 represents one of the greatest breakthroughs for the treatment of cardiovascular disease as well as for other diseases, the resistance of the medical profession to using this essential nutrient represents one of the greatest potential tragedies in medicine,” says my friend, board-certified cardiologist, nutritionist, and noted author Stephen Sinatra, M.D. “If there is just one thing you do to help maintain your heart’s health,” says Sinatra, “make sure you’re taking CoQ10 daily.”

The combination of CoQ-10 and carnitine is even better.

L-carnitine’s job is to escort fatty acids into the cells where they can be “burned” for energy. Because the heart gets 60 percent of its energy from fat, it’s critically important that the body have enough L-carnitine to “shuttle” the fatty acids into the muscle cells of the heart. Nutritionists have long used the combination of L-carnitine and CoQ10 as an “energy” cocktail for just this reason. Though it doesn’t necessarily make you feel more “get up and go” (although for many people it does just that!), it definitely helps give your heart muscle the tools it needs to function optimally.

People who take L-carnitine supplements soon after suffering a heart attack may be less likely to suffer a subsequent heart attack, die of heart disease, experience chest pain and abnormal heart rhythms, or develop congestive heart failure (a condition in which the heart loses its ability to pump blood effectively). A well-designed study of seventy heart-failure patients found that three-year survival was significantly higher in the group receiving 2 g a day of L-carnitine compared to the group receiving a placebo.

If you think of your body as an automobile, then L-carnitine and CoQ10 can be thought of as agents (like spark plugs) that help turn the gas in the tank into energy to make the car go.

Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, a board-certified nutrition specialist with a master’s degree in psychology, is a nationally known expert on weight loss, nutrition, and health. A popular speaker and a former personal trainer with six national certifications in exercise, he was the acclaimed “Weight Loss Coach” on iVillage for twelve years, and is now a regular contributor to AOL, a columnist for Better Nutrition and Clean Eating magazines and a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of Men’s Health. He’s also the nutritionist for the popular website, www.eatdrinkordie.com, where his entertaining videos on food and nutrition can be seen daily.

His books have been acclaimed by a virtual who’s who in the field of nutritional medicine, garnering endorsements by Christiane Northrup, MD, Mehmet Oz, MD, Barry Sears, PhD. (who calls him “one of the best”), Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD (who calls him “the personal health coach I would want in my corner no matter what”), and many others. His book, Living Low Carb: Controlled Carbohydrate Eating for Long-Term Weight Loss has more than 100,000 copies in print. He is also the author of the Amazon best-seller, The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth: The Surprising Truth About What to Eat as well as The Healthiest Meals on Earth and The Most Effective Natural Cures on Earth and The 150 Most Effective Ways to Boost Your Energy.

He has been featured in The New York Times, The New York Post, Chicago Sun Times, Chicago Tribune, Time, GQ, Cosmopolitan, Oxygen, Remedy, Family Circle, Self, Fitness, Allure, Essence, Men’s Health, Pilates Style, Prevention, Woman’s World, In Style, Fitness, Natural Health and Shape and has appeared on Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC and CBS as an expert on nutrition, weight loss, and health.

Dr. Bowden is a member of the American Society for Nutrition and the American College of Nutrition and is adjunct faculty for Clayton College of Natural Health. He lives in the Topanga Canyon area of Southern California with his three dogs, Woodstock, Emily and Lucy.

His DVD “The Truth About Weight Loss” as well as his popular motivational CDs, programs and free newsletter can be found at www.jonnybowden.com.


Dr. Bowden is on a virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book Promotion during the month of January to discuss this book. You can follow his tour all month long by checking in each weekday at http://virtualbooktours.wordpress.com/.

Friday, January 15, 2010

When the Ordinary Become Extra-ordinary by Kay Marshall Strom



Today's guest blogger is author Kay Marshall Strom. Kay Marshall Strom is the author of thirty-six published books, including her most recent, The Second-Half Adventure: Don’t Just Retire-Use Your Time, Skills & Resources to Change the World. Her writing credits also include numerous magazine articles, short stories, curriculum, stories for children, two prize-winning screenplays, and booklets for writers. Kay speaks at seminars, retreats, and special events throughout the country. She and her husband Dan Kline love to travel, and more and more Kay’s writing and speaking take her around the word. To find out more about Kay, or for contact information, check her website at www.kaystrom.com.


"When the Ordinary Become Extra-ordinary" by Kay Marshall Strom

So, what kind of people seek out a Second-Half Adventure? Who decides simple retirement isn’t for them? That they would rather use their lifetime of accumulated skills and resources to change the world?

Well, lots of ordinary people. And some pretty extra-ordinary ones, too.

You would probably consider Charlie extraordinary—unless you also grew up in a mafia family. Charlie knew two things: power and money. He learned early how to get what he wanted, often through intimidation. As an adult, he started a financial planning business which was hugely profitable. Charlie was tough, he had money, he had power. True, at forty-three his third marriage was about to end, but he would see that it ended on his terms. Then a strange thing happened. Charlie’s wife started going to church. He mocked and ridiculed her, but she went anyway. Nothing he did stopped her. Grudgingly, he finally agreed to attend with her on Easter Sunday, and—miracle of miracles—Charlie encountered God.

Charlie soon discovered that Christians have the same money problems as everyone else. He offered his financial services, which were eagerly accepted, and he also began to teach classes on financial responsibility. “Most people are surprised to learn there is more in the Bible about money than any other subject,” Charlie says.

But Charlie did more than just teach; he lived his lessons. Within two years, he and his wife were debt-free. He sold his business and committed to work full time with Crown Financial Ministries—an interdenominational organization dedicated to teaching biblical financial principles and helping people apply them.

“Christians should model good financial stewardship,” Charlie insists. “Imagine if we pointed the way in these hard financial times by living without debt!”



Okay, so Charlie isn’t ordinary. But Kathy would describe herself that way. When her engineer husband, Clint, was tapped to go with a group from their Oregon church to Venezuela and make a business presentation to university students, Kathy decided to tag along. At the last minute, she put together packets of a quilt block she had developed and stuck them in her suitcase. Fifty of them.

Her husband never got to give his presentation. But to everyone’s amazement, an entourage met the team at the airport. It was there to meet Kathy. “We heard about the quilt and we’ve got a lot of women interested,” they said. “We hope you have enough supplies for ninety women.”

She didn’t. But Clint put away his presentation notes, picked up a pair of scissors, and got busy helping Kathy cut out the twenty-five piece sets—each piece represented an element of Jesus’ story of the Woman at the Well.

On second thought, Kathy and Clint aren’t so ordinary either. Kathy’s self-assurance and Clint’s gentle refusal to insist but-I’m-the-one-with-the-valuable-skills! are rare traits.

Now, John, though—he insists no one is as ordinary as he.

John spent his entire life as a bread delivery truck driver whose day started at four a.m. He retired two years ago, but a lifetime routine of getting up so early isn’t easily changed. John is still out of bed at four, but now he sits down immediately at his computer and logs in to his personal site at GMO, an organization that uses cutting-edge technologies to respond to spiritual questions from people around the world. “I’m never lonely,” John says of his early morning sessions. “Somewhere in the world, someone with a pressing question is always up at that hour.” And, thanks to the training GMO gave him, John feels comfortable offering answers. Even to people in Ghana… or Ethiopia… or India…

Come to think of it, second half adventurers are ordinary people who become extra-ordinary because of the way they choose to define retirement.


About The Second-Half Adventure

Whoever you are, whatever your skills and experiences, you can use what you have gained in life to help change the world. In connection with The Finishers Project, The Second-Half Adventure will enable you to analyze where you have been, where you want to go in the second-half of your life, and how to start preparing today.

Through the stories of individuals and couples who have found meaningful involvements—from business people to housewives, from engineers to artists—this book will help you infuse your special God-given years with purpose and eternal significance. The best adventure is yet to come

You can follow Kay's virtual book tour by checking in every weekday in January and February at http://virtualbooktours.wordpress.com/

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sahale Snacks Giveaway at Confessions of an Overworked Mom

Since this blog's title is Book Tours and More, I guess I can get away with promoting a non-book item here. My friend Ellen from Confessions of an Overworked Mom is running a giveaway for Sahale Snacks. They all look scrumptious, and all you need to do is check out the Sahale Snacks website and let Ellen know your favorite.

Blogging and tweeting about this giveaway will get you extra chances to win. The last day to enter is January 21, 2010, so get on over to Ellen's blog for the details and to enter this great giveaway!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Thirty Year Old Historical Fiction by Linda Dahl, Author of Gringa in a Strange Land


Today's guest blogger is Linda Dahl, author of Gringa in a Strange Land.

Gringa in a Strange Land brings back the exhilarating and confusing time of the “counterculture” in the early 1970’s.

Erica Mason, an American woman living in Mexico, is torn between working to become an artist and the lure of the drug culture.

Set mostly in the colonial city of Merida in the Yucatan peninsula, the story also moves among Mayan ruins, laid-back beaches and the cities of Belize and Oaxaca.

A host of bohemian expats and Mexicans, and the complex character of Mexico itself, infuse this portrait-of-the-artist-as-a-young-American, culminating in an unexpected resolution

"Thirty Year Old Historical Fiction" by Linda Dahl

I love good historical fiction. I once wrote a book set in New Orleans spanning the l800’s up to the l960’s. The research for the book was immense. There was a scene where the main character was cooking – good thing I did my homework, because the kitchen those days was a shed out back! But I never imagined when I dusted off the 30-year-old manuscript of Gringa in a Strange Land a few years ago that it, too, had become historical fiction. Erica Mason, the twenty-something American woman who hits the road and ends up living in Mexico, has no idea of this, of course, but I did. Above all, it has to do with technology. In the l970’s in Mexico, there were few telephones – no cell phones, of course – there was no internet, and a slow, inefficient mail service. In a foreign country, without recourse to the immediate, constant flow of communication, Erica becomes isolated in a way that is simply unimaginable today. (When I went to Africa a few years ago to Malawi, one of the least developed countries on earth, even there were cell phones and internet service at the hotels.

The huge challenge of coming to terms with the world is heightened for Erica in Gringa by the period in which she lives. If the book had been published when it was written, in the late 70’s, the isolation she experienced living in a “strange” land would have been considered normal. Then, when I rewrote the book many years later, I saw that Erica had acquired an old-fashioned, even somewhat exotic quality in terms of the technology boom that had followed in the late 20th century. And this must be especially so for any reader younger than my generation, the “baby boomers.” Meeting very few fellow Americans, thrown almost completely on her own resources, Erica in Mexico in l973 and ’74 has to learn to negotiate a foreign language and foreign attitudes to a degree that is no longer the case. Erica’s isolation both dramatically heightens her conflicts and it also, I think, compels her to move beyond her darkness itoward the light.


Linda Dahl has written extensively about Latin America, women in jazz, New Orleans and other topics that interest her over a thirty-year career as a published author. She has lived in Ecuador, Mexico, Brazil and New York and currently lives in an old farmhouse with lots of flowers and pets. A widow, she has a daughter and a stepson. Her website is www.lindadahl.com and blog about her new book at http://gringainastrangeland.blogspot.com.

You can follow Linda's virtual book tour every weekday in January by visiting http://virtualbooktours.wordpress.com/

Monday, January 11, 2010

Corrigan's Pool by Dot Ryan - Book Review



Be swept away by history and romance in Corrigans' Pool by Dot Ryan.

Ella Corrigan has long carried great responsibility. After her mother's horrific accident, her father turned to alcohol, leaving Ella to manage Greenpole, the family's Savannah plantation. While a good and fair mistress, romance has eluded her, and at twenty-four, she is on the urge of becoming a spinster.

When Gentry Garland, with eyes black as night, rides into Savannah from Texas, Ella's life brightens. Ella falls in love with the dashing horse rancher, but is brokenhearted when Gentry disappears without a trace. Chiding herself for her foolishness, Ella hastily marries Victor Faircloth, a man many years her senior, whose proposals she swore she would never accept.

Life at Faircloth plantation is hard on Ella and the many servants who sullenly work for Victor. While Ella's family has owned slaves for generations, for the first time, Ella begins to question the institution that is placed in jeopardy by the growing rumblings of civil war. As Victor's servants began to escape and mysteriously disappear through Corrigan's Pool, his anger rises.

As the years pass, Ella is forced to endure the deep sadness brought on by her hasty decision to marry Victor. Struggling against her husband's dictates and blackmail, and with memories of Gentry still taunting her, the war is just another reason to feel despondent over the future.

When Sherman's Union troops burn their way across Georgia and swarm onto her property, Ella musters her strength in the hopes of saving herself and those who depend on her. But what will she do when the past she has long blamed for her fate steps unexpectedly out of the darkness to face her?

An excellent debut release from Dot Ryan, Corrigan's Pool will leave you breathless and begging for a sequel. Ryan has created a story that perfectly mixes history and romance. The strength of this novel is certainly found in its many captivating characters: Ella, her sister Honor, her grandmother Beatrice Corrigan, Ella's father Adam, Gentry Garland, and the many servants whose names and stories will capture you.

While admittedly it took me a few chapters to be totally immersed in this story, once that happened, I never wanted to stop reading. So involved was I in Ella's story, and those of the people around her, that it took me only a few days to make my way to the final page. That one woman had to deal with so much responsibility, so much heartache, so much pain, made Ella a sympathetic character from the start. But that inner strength in Ella shines through all of it, and once she pulls herself together to do what must be done to save her family, there isn't any stopping her.

Outside of Ella, my favorite character would have to be Beatrice Corrigan. In some ways she reminds me of Aunt Jo from Anne of Green Gables, a woman whose rough exterior hides much warmth underneath.

The one question I would love to ask the author is how she created a dastardly character such as Victor. Actually, dastardly is too nice a word. Victor was pure evil. It never ceases to amaze me when an author can develop a character that you despise so much, and Ryan excelled in her creation of Victor.

If my "to be read" pile wasn't so high I would certainly read this book all over again. The last few chapters were superb, and the ending, out of this world.

According to the biography of Ryan featured on the back cover, she is hard at work on her next two books. I can't wait!


Title: Corrigan's Pool
Author: Dot Ryan
Publisher: iUniverse, Inc.
ISBN: 978-0-595-46740-2
SRP: $22.95 (U.S.)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Story Behind a Children's Classic by Melanie Benjamin



Today's guest blogger is Melanie Benjamin, author of Alice I Have Been.

Few works of literature are as universally beloved as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Now, in this spellbinding historical novel, we meet the young girl whose bright spirit sent her on an unforgettable trip down the rabbit hole–and the grown woman whose story is no less enthralling.

But oh my dear, I am tired of being Alice in Wonderland. Does it sound ungrateful?

Alice Liddell Hargreaves’s life has been a richly woven tapestry: As a young woman, wife, mother, and widow, she’s experienced intense passion, great privilege, and greater tragedy. But as she nears her eighty-first birthday, she knows that, to the world around her, she is and will always be only “Alice.” Her life was permanently dog-eared at one fateful moment in her tenth year–the golden summer day she urged a grown-up friend to write down one of his fanciful stories.

That story, a wild tale of rabbits, queens, and a precocious young child, becomes a sensation the world over. Its author, a shy, stuttering Oxford professor, does more than immortalize Alice–he changes her life forever. But even he cannot stop time, as much as he might like to. And as Alice’s childhood slips away, a peacetime of glittering balls and royal romances gives way to the urgent tide of war.

For Alice, the stakes could not be higher, for she is the mother of three grown sons, soldiers all. Yet even as she stands to lose everything she treasures, one part of her will always be the determined, undaunted Alice of the story, who discovered that life beyond the rabbit hole was an astonishing journey.

A love story and a literary mystery, Alice I Have Been brilliantly blends fact and fiction to capture the passionate spirit of a woman who was truly worthy of her fictional alter ego, in a world as captivating as the Wonderland only she could inspire.

"A Story Behind a Children's Classic" by Melanie Benjamin

I pride myself on thinking that I’m a pretty smart person, very well-read. But it turns out that I don’t know as much as I think I do, and I’m actually very grateful for that. A gaping hole in my knowledge of children’s literature is the main reason that I wrote ALICE I HAVE BEEN.

I knew nothing about Lewis Carroll beyond the fact that he wrote ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND and THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS. That was it. So when I happened to come across an exhibit called “Dreaming in Pictures: The Photography of Lewis Carroll,” I was curious enough to want to see it, because I had no idea that Lewis Carroll had ever taken a single photograph in his life.

Thank goodness for that! Because once inside this remarkable exhibit, I was completely taken aback by how little I knew about this man. For instance, I didn’t even know that Lewis Carroll was a pseudonym; his real name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, and he was a mathematics don at Oxford University in the 1860’s. So – the man who wrote two classics of children’s literature was actually writing under a different name; he was a pioneer in the art of photography; his day job was a mathematics professor.

How intriguing!

He also was a very close friend with a little girl named Alice Liddell; he took her photograph many times; he told her a story about a little girl who fell down a rabbit hole, which she then asked him to write down.

Curiouser and curiouser!

In fact, my curiosity was piqued so much that I couldn’t stop thinking about this little girl. I couldn’t stop wondering what happened to her after she grew up; I couldn’t stop imagining what happened between her and this very mysterious mathematics professor/photographer/storyteller, because something obviously had. The photograph he took of her was so very startling; she looked at the camera – and at him - with such an adult, worldly, wise gaze for a seven-year-old.

And the more I thought about it, the more I realized how little I knew of this entire story, the story behind ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND. And it occurred to me that other people might want to know about it, too. And so I finally just had to write it, not only to satisfy my own curiosity but to satisfy other people’s, as well.

If I had known any of this, I wouldn’t have written this book. And what a delightful, rewarding experience I would have missed! So I feel very blessed, in such a curious way, by my lack of knowledge. For it made me wonder, made me want to know more; it made me want to tell others about what I discovered, as well.
Many writers say you should write what you know. Maybe that works for them.
As for me, I decided to write about what I didn’t know. And I’m so very glad that I did.

Melanie Benjamin lives in the Chicago area with her husband and two sons, where she is working on her next historical novel. Visit her website at www.melaniebenjamin.com.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Author Spotlight: Greg Middleton and Real Men



Real Men is a book about the plight of males over the last century, how they have become displaced by the changes in our society and lost of a distinct role.

Over the past few decades something is seriously shifting in the way men are operating within our society. Men are no longer the undisputed heads of the household or the family. Women have equal rights under the law and can compete against men for some of the better and higher paying jobs. Without a decided edge men are loosing their “king of the hill” status. Something must be done to at least redefine the role men should play. Whatever that role eventually becomes men will most certainly need to make adjustments from the way things were done in the past.

BOOK EXCERPT

MARS AND VENUS CONCEPT

Much has been written and spoken about the differences between how males and females operate. It is not by accident that we have a different basic operating system. For example, we build motor vehicles as a means of transportation. We build calculators to assist us in computing numerical equations. One would not expect a calculator to serve as a means of transportation because it was not built for that purpose. In a broader sense, men and women were designed (built) for different purposes. From a design prospective, women were given operating systems to enhance the purposes of which they were created (built): Men were likewise.

For example, women were given the ability to conceive and have babies. They were also given the trait of nurturing and caring for their young. Part of their traits and operating systems were built around their design and purpose. This is not to say that women were only built for the purpose of having babies, it means that it is a unique function to them that men do not have. Since this function is unique to females, it is only natural that men are not equal to women in such capacities. Men were built to serve other functions within the human species of which the protectors and providers were arguably two of the traits that were uniquely designed within them. This does not mean that women cannot be good providers or protectors of the family, but that certain traits within their operating systems were not specifically geared for that purpose. Regardless as to how we choose to operate within humanity, we cannot ignore the fact that certain traits seem to be more prevalent in a particular gender than in the other.

Even in stating this supposition, it does not mean that people can't do as they choose. This is where free will comes into play. There are times when necessity makes the choice against what one may wish or hope to choose otherwise. With single-parent families on the rise many females are left with the total burden of raising and providing for their children. Regardless to what is natural, or the intended design specifications, once children are born into the world someone has to provide, care, protect, nurture, and otherwise raise them. In the absence of having both male and female guardians someone will have to do what is necessary. One gender, usually the female, will have to assume both roles and do as best as they can under the circumstances. Even though it may not have been a conscious choice to be in that situation, necessity dictates a different set of rules that must be obeyed.

In reference to the natural design regarding gender differences, we must understand that even though the design was different and the roles and purposes were different, at the end of the day, necessity and free will dominates the table. Understanding the differences between the natural, unique designs of the genders should assist us in relating to each other and affectively doing the jobs we find before us. Understanding your function and carrying out that purpose is part of your birthright. How you carry out your particular assignment is personal. It has a lot to do with the authentic person that resides in your shell called a human being. Even though we may not realize it, or consciously know it to be true, there is a power and a force in the universe that is far greater than we are. Individually we will die at a given point, but life carries on. A question we should inquire of ourselves is, when that final breath is taken, did you do your best with the plate that was placed before you.

Although this topic is specifically geared toward defining a real man, on a wider view we should be looking at becoming the most genuine person we are capable of being. With that as our primary goal, our natural given abilities will excel in the manner in which they were intended. Gender should not be an issue that we allow to create separation or dissention. Males and females were built for one another, as a hand and glove, to be the caretakers of this planet. If we abide by the natural order it will serve us well. If we do not, then the consequences will be on our shoulders.


Writing came to this author totally by surprise. God planted an urge in Greg to search for Him during the fall of 1999. That search led to a constant reading appetite of various spiritual, religious, inspirational, and even metaphysical subjects. After reading so much material he began taking notes of his many late night sessions in order to remember what he was learning. He later began expressing his personal views of what he was digesting and recorded it in his journal. This collection of notes became the pages of his first book, In Search of the Soul. It was published in 2002 by Dorrance Publishing Company.

From his first book Greg continued to read and record his thoughts and opinions as they were developing. Since that first book he has been writing feverishly ever since. His second book Pearls of Wisdom, was published in 2003 by GEM Publications. Cold Tree Press published his third book, Food for the Soul in early 2005. His goal is to get as many of his completed works as possible into the hands of the readers whom they were intended to inspire.

In addition to being a writer, Greg is also a professional musician, Realtor, and a Professional Seminar Speaker. He and his wife Cynthia make their “Empty Nest” home in Altadena, California, and are ready to start on Phase Two, enjoying the grandchildren. Be on the lookout for more works from this prolific writer in the years to come.

You can find Greg online at www.gregemiddleton.com. For more information about Real Men and Real Men Seminars, please visit http://realmenseminars.com/.


Monday, January 4, 2010

Author Spotlight: Gina Browning and Moonbeam Dreams



Moonbeam Dreams is an intricately rhyming bed-time story written and illustrated by Gina C. Browning. It takes the reader and listeners on a magical, Dr. Seuss-like romp to the Land of Beddie-byes, where they meet all sorts of wonderful and interesting creatures. There are butterflies with gems dripping from their wings, dragons riding in red wagons, Lycra-wearing newts skating on moonbeams, unicorns, a frog climbing a kite-string, extra large snails and cats with fish-tails, and many, many more fun creatures to meet. It’s a positive, up-lifting and fun story that encourages children that almost anything is possible if you can dream it and believe in it strongly enough. It also encourages children to not be afraid of the dark, and that they have the ability to take control of their dreams. It also encourages children to welcome the weird and wonderful things that they might see in their dreams.

It is a story with a vocabulary that a child can learn from and grow into. It is also entertaining and interesting for adults to read as well.

It contains some interesting rhyming mechanics, alliteration and 22 bright and colorful, entertaining illustrations.

Book Excerpt

“I once spied way up high a bright butterfly

looking lustrous from even that height.

It was covered in gems that dripped from the hems

of its wings- then they’d brightly ignite.

The ‘fly gave a quiver, then off with a shiver

flew all around, much like a sprite.

It flew down to my finger where there it did linger,

and then at last, did alight.”

Read what reviewers are saying about Moonbeam Dreams!

“Be swept away into a magical, lyrical fantasy land where all your dreams can come true…Moonbeam Dreams will captivate young readers and keep them turning the pages…” -The Children’s and Teens’ Book Connection

“Moonbeam Dreams is such a positive and wonderful book for children and people of all ages…It is sure to bring continuous smiles for years to come!” – Café of Dreams

“If your child likes to dream and take fantasy journeys then this would be an excellent book for them to get their hands on.” – 4 the Love of Books



Writer and illustrator, Gina C. Browning, says some of the verses in her poetry book first came to her in her dreams as she was recovering from surgery years ago.

The poems and illustrations in Moonbeam Dreams gradually evolved into “a keenly rhymed, fantastical romp through a fantasy land, with weird and wonderful characters for readers of any age to enjoy.” Her poetry truly is for the young at heart.

Browning thinks her dreams are fun and adventurous, as she always looks for the positive side to everything. Her book encourages children not to be afraid of the dark, and to believe in themselves and their abilities so that almost anything is possible. Browning says dreams can come true “either in daylight or night” if you believe in them strongly enough.

You can visit Gina online @ http://www.eloquentbooks.com/MoonbeamDreams.html



Friday, January 1, 2010

Real Men by Greg Middleton -- Book Review



Are you a "real man"? Real Men: What is Happening with Our Males? was written for males dealing with specific male issues. Addressing the serious shift in dynamics between males and females brought about by changes in laws and customs, changes in technology, and changes in the roles females now play in society, Real Men takes a look into our past, the present, and looks into the future to help men adjust their lives to today's reality.

I approached Real Men with a bit of trepidation because the synopsis I saw mentioned how men are no longer the "king of the hill" and I immediately began to wonder if this book would be sexist drivel about how men can reclaim what they've lost.

Thankfully, I was way off base, which is just another reason I feel you need to open the pages of a book and read some of it first before passing judgment.

What Real Men is truly about is how certain changes in our society have led to males playing different roles than their fathers and grandfathers, leaving many men to learn as they go, such as author Greg Middleton had to do. As Middleton points out, this cost him a great deal of wasted time until he had gained the experience he needed to be the father and husband he should be, the "real man" he always wanted to be.

In an attempt to instruct and guide men along this journey, Middleton has written an excellent book based upon his own experiences, which also includes some tables discussing statistics that back up what he has to say.

I found Real Men to be an informative, engaging read that I was able to polish off in one evening, but whose words will stick with me for some time to come. I'm considering passing this book along to my son, who at the age of 23, could benefit greatly from its contents. And now that I have read Middleton's Real Men, I'm eager to dive into more of his work.


Title: Real Men
Author: Greg Middleton
Publisher: Lulu
ISBN: 978-0-557-12071-0
SRP: $14.19

For more information about Greg Middleton, please visit www.gregemiddleton.com. You will find Real Men Seminars at http://realmenseminars.com/.

Greg Middleton will be on a virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book Promotion from January 4th - 29th. You may follow his tour by visiting http://virtualbooktours.wordpress.com/ weekdays during January.

Happy New Year!



Happy New Year from Book Tours and More! Thanks for visiting our blog. Keep checking back for more great books soon!