Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Greater Treasures Book Tour


Being a private detective in the border town of the Faerie and Mundane worlds isn’t easy, even for a dragon like Vern.  Still, finding the wayward brother of a teary damsel in distress shouldn’t have gotten so dangerous.  When his partner, Sister Grace, gets poisoned by a dart meant for him, Vern offers to find an artifact in exchange for a cure.  However, this is no ordinary trinket—with a little magic power, it could control all of mankind.  Can Vern find the artifact, and will he sacrifice the fate of two worlds for the life of his best friend?

Vern and I are going all out on this book tour, with lots of Vern posts and prizes, too.  Check out the schedule and hope to see you around the blogsphere!

Tour Announced
Interview *
Interview &Vern Talks About Duty *
5 Rules for Fantasy
Vern Talks Zombies
About the Cover
Interview *
Story Determines Style *
Interview & Review
Review & Interview 
Faerie vs. Mundane Investigation *
Interview *
Chat Ettiquette w/a Dragon
Battling Knights, and other Scams
Exclusive Excerpt
Vern on Global Warming
Review *
Self-Publishing Tips *
Variety in a World *
Live chat with Karina & Vern, 7 pm EST *
Interview *
Annoying Virgins
Becoming a Dragon PI *

On Writing Vern
Dragon Hobbies *
Self-Publishing Adventure
Live chat with Karina and Vern *
Growing Your World
Review *
Vern's Dogs
Interview *
Stories are Like Sonnets
Vern on Knights *
Vern On Motherhood *
About Cambridge Ramada
Writing Novellas *
On Amazon Ranks *
Review Roundup
Improving Your Writing *


Tweet Chat
Review Roundup

* indicates a prize being given that day, either a free e-book or something from Vern's warehouse.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Mini-Review: Full Asylum by Michael Isenberg

Summary:  The economy has crashed (again), the Nanny State is out of control, and software engineer Gimbel O’Hare just wants to do his job. Not easy, given that his boss is out to get him, the Department of Justice has him under surveillance, and one of his co-workers is suing him for sexual harassment. He finds refuge from the stress by indulging in spy movies, an obsession that leads him on an off-the-wall journey around metro-Washington. From the ruins of a once fashionable mall to a psychiatric ward in a military hospital, Gimbel is on the trail of a dangerous – and possibly imaginary – conspiracy to steal a presidential election and fundamentally transform America.

Mini Review:  Micheal Isenberg is a genius at political satire--not just intelligent, but smart.  He has a great combination of humor--from Abbot and Costello antics to biting wit.  It's an absorbing read with fun characters.   Enjoy the ride as Gilbert goes from a Dilbertesque existence to an adventure worthy of 007 himself.

Purchase on Amazon

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Weight Loss Update 3: How Real People Lose Weight

Time again!  Here are the before-and-after photos and stats on my weight loss/muscle gain development.  Just a reminder or note for those who are new.  I take circuit training five times a week and sometimes work out on Saturdays.  I've also decreased my sweets and sodas and increased my water.  I am not on a diet, because I don't have that kind of discipline for cooking and eating.

Not as easy to see, but I'm starting to get my hourglass back,  I've lost 12 inches in waist and abs combined, but only 3 in hips and 3 in bust.  That's how I like it!

Look!  My poochy belly is shrinking!

When I take these pictures, I try to do them in the same outfit and without any sucking in of guts or posturing.  This is the real me as you might see me coming out of the gym (messy hair and all!).  I hate those Before-and-After shots where the person is wearing make-up and tanned and obviously holding herself in a perfect posture when her before picture was schlumped.

15-Jan 19-Apr
total loss

weight 169 155
14 lb dec
body fat 38.5 35.7
2.8 dec
chest 38.7 36.1
2.6 dec
bust 41.1 38.5
2.6 dec
waist 39 32.9
6.1 dec
hips 42.8 39.5
3.3 dec
abs 42 36
6.0 dec
thigh 22 23.5
1.5 inc
calf 15 15
bicep 11.6 11.2
.4 dec
forearm 10 9.8
.2 dec
neck 15 14
1.0 dec

Total: 14 pounds lost and 23 inches gone overall.  I've not gone down a size yet in clothes, but all my clothes fit better now.  (Wardrobe-wise, I'm holding out for 145 and to be sure my husband has a post-retirement job, although when I reach 145, I'm buying a Biofit Bootcamp t-shirt regardless!)

If you are wondering what it's taking me to do this, may I suggest you start at the beginning and read my circuit torture adventures?   You can also put "Circuit training" in the search bar and they'll all show up.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Mini Review: A Pius Man by Declan Finn


Summary:  As the head of Vatican security, Giovanni Figlia must protect a new, African Pope who courts controversy every other day. The Pope's latest project is to make Pius XII, "Hitler's Pope," a saint. Things haven't gotten better since the Pope employed American mercenary Sean Ryan.

Then a body fell onto the Vatican doorstep.

Soon, a pattern emerges-- people who go into the Pius XII historical archives are dying. Each time, a priest has been in the background-- a priest close to the Pope. One of the victims was an al-Qaeda operative, drawing Scott "Mossad" Murphy of Israeli intelligence to Rome.

Soon, Ryan, Murphy and Figlia must join forces to unravel the mystery around the Vatican, as even the man Giovanni is supposed to protect looks like a suspect. To get out of this alive, they must discover if Hitler's Pope was a Nazi collaborator, or a pious man.


At that moment, part of the building they were passing exploded out and down on them. From six stories up, a set of windows shattered, pouring debris down on their vehicle.

And a moment later, a heavy object landed on the car hood, smashing the windshield. Giovanni Figlia instinctively swerved away from the explosion, and braked hard. The object on his windshield stayed there …

After a few seconds, Wilhelmina and Giovanni got out of the car and studied the scene, wondering if it was safe to go check the damage. She bounced up on her toes to check what had killed Figlia’s car. It was the body of a young-looking, olive-skinned male...without a face.

“Between 25 and 35?” Figlia asked.

“...Sounds like a serial-killer profile,” she answered.

Giovanni grunted and again wanted to reach for his gun. He glanced at the short, pixie-like woman and muttered, “Damn Americans. Here for fifteen minutes and Dante’s Inferno rises to surface level.”

The only carabinieri in the area ran to the scene, leaving his motorcycle behind. He let out a small string of curses, ran back to his vehicle, and immediately radioed for help.
The police were the first responders, followed immediately by the fire department. The firemen quickly moved to douse the flames with the fire hose when Giovanni Figlia tackled the main man on the hose, grabbing him before he could attach the hose to its water supply.

“What are you doing?” the fireman growled. He tried to fight back, but Figlia had already locked one arm into place, totally immobilizing him.

“You’re going to wash away all evidence of the bomb. Use a fire extinguisher or buckets.”

Figlia released him and pulled out his badge wallet before someone pulled a weapon on him. He flashed his identification. “Commandatore Giovanni Figlia, Vatican’s Central Office of Vigilance. That body over there is dead, and not only is my car a secondary crime scene, do you see that line?” He pointed to a white painted line on the cobblestone street. “Sixty years ago, the Nazis put that line down to clearly mark the territory. This side, right now, is Rome.” He sidestepped to in front of his car and pointed toward the colonnade of St. Peter’s Basilica. “Where I’m standing now is Vatican City.”

Mini Review:  If you enjoy thrillers that are big on excitement and action, and heavy on detail with a lot of research well applied, then A Pius Man is for you.  

Purchase from Amazon

Thursday, April 18, 2013

It's Out! Greater Treasures!

Here it is!  Greater Treasures is now available on Kindle!  (Print copy coming in a couple of weeks!

Being a private detective in the border town of the Faerie and Mundane worlds isn’t easy, even for a dragon like Vern.   Still, finding the wayward brother of a teary damsel in distress shouldn’t have gotten so dangerous.  When his partner, Sister Grace, gets poisoned by a dart meant for him, Vern offers to find an artifact in exchange for a cure.  However, this is no ordinary trinket—with a little magic power, it could control all of mankind.  Can Vern find the artifact, and will he sacrifice the fate of two worlds for the life of his best friend?

This is my first adventure into the self-publishing world.  No, I'm not discouraged by traditional publishing, but novellas and novelettes are harder to find homes for, and so I thought I'd put them out myself.  It's another arrow in my publishing quiver. I've learned a lot about publishing and have an even greater appreciation for my traditional publishers!

I'm looking at this as an investment in the DragonEye, PI, world, so it's only 99 cents on Kindle and I've also got it on the Kindle Select program, which means you can borrow it for free.  If you enjoy it, I hope you'll move on to the novels and tell your friends.  And write a review!  Vern LOVES compliments.

In the meantime, enjoy this excerpt:

Given the day I was having, it came as no surprise that when I got home, I found the dogs sprawled in a drugged sleep and the sounds of things being overturned from within the warehouse. I decided not to bother with subtlety, but I did resist the urge to burst in with flames going full-blast. I had questions first.
Naturally, I walked straight in to find an automatic weapon—yep, a bona fide black-market AK-47—and I thought only Faerie lived their clichés—and six other weapons of various types pointed at me. I didn't stop, just closed the door with my tail while I strolled in slow and placid-like. My visitors had shaved heads, faces painted white with clown paint, and black t-shirts with swastikas in white circles.
"If you're the housekeeping service, you're fired."
"You stay right there, or we gonna fire you!" said one guy from the sidelines as he held his nunchucks at the ready.
What'd he think he would do—whack me on the nose? I turned to the one holding the assault rifle. "Scraping the bottom of the barrel with that one, weren't you?"
"He's right. You just stay still while we search the place."
"The place" was a ten-thousand square foot warehouse with offices on the upper floor. Boxes I still hadn't opened line the walls and made a maze in the second warehouse room. I settled myself on the floor and rested my head on my crossed arms. "Go ahead. I get half of anything you find."
They stared at me, unbelieving. I smiled back. Mr. Cooperation, that's me. Finally, Big Gun snarled for the others to get to work. As he turned his back on me, Nunchucks muttered, "I got your half. Don't think I don't." Guess he learned such witty repartee in Hitler Youth Summer Camp.
I watched and listened and waited. With eight teenage skinheads trashing my place, it was only a matter of time.
"I wouldn't go in there if I were you," I suggested as Nunchucks made a grab for the doorknob to Grace's workshop.
"You gonna stop me?" He turned the knob.
"Nope," I said as I closed my ears and my eyes. Even so, I saw the otherworldly light and heard the harmonious roar of Divine Vengeance followed by Mundane screams.
"The Heavenly Host on the other hand…"
I waited until the screams died down to whimpers before opening my eyes and rising.
Four of the skinheads were unconscious. Three may as well have been; they were curled up in the fetal position, whimpering. Nunchucks was actually crying for his mommy. Big Guns had collapsed to the floor as well, the gun thrown away from him. He was sitting and rocking and making high-pitched keening through the roof of his mouth.
I'd tell Grace to tone down her wards some, except that the effect is directly proportional to the evilness of the intent. Suddenly, I was feeling a little shaky about my earlier entrance.
Knights out of the armor now. I went around, collecting weapons in the office trash can and poking through pockets. I found the usual stuff—driver's licenses, credit cards, petty cash… One kid had a condom; wishful thinking on his part, I knew. Another had a report card. MLK High. Wonder if he was the one beating up Faerie kids? Honor roll grades, too. Of all the years I've battled evil, there were still some things I didn't understand.
As I was returning Big Guns' (aka Rick Matherston's) wallet back into his jacket pocket, he blinked and focused on me.
"What was that?"
"Angels, kid." Actually a kind of magical shadow of the real thing, but close enough.
            "But I thought angels were—"
"There's a reason why their first words are usually 'Fear not!' whenever they meet a human."
His eyes returned to their unfocused stare. I almost felt sorry for him. Then I noticed the letters FARISLAR tattooed on his knuckles. Faerie slayer.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Circuit Torture...er, Training, Week 12: Baffling Body Sculpting

(Skipped a week to keep Margaret Realy's *A Garden of Visible Prayer* top on the blog.  It's an awesome book for the Catholic gardener, if you missed her Amazon Day, no worries, but go pick it up anyway: )

It's been two weeks since my last post, and not so great on the diet or exercise front.  I went on a trip with my daughter, so there was much restaurant food and sweets, and at home, cookie dough called to me.  I did exercise on vacation--the elliptical when the hotel had a gym, and going up and down a flight of stairs 50 times when it did not.  I also did isometrics for my abs in the car.  (That's where you tighten and loosen the muscles.)  Last week, I was home, and did the usual circuit torture, without running because my shins still hurt.  Jacob's Ladder and I are becoming fast friends.  Nonetheless, I went to the scale-and-measure expecting to backslide.

Turns out, I did gain a pound and 3 percent body fat, which is a bummer because I'd just gotten into the normal range.  However, what baffled me are the measurements.  I didn't gain anywhere.  In fact, I lost five inches in the waist and abs.I'm sure I wasn't mismeasured, either: at least one pair of pants no longer fit, and I can see my hourglass figure returning (albeit a larger glass.)

The body is a baffling thing, but know what?  I'll take those results and keep on!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Awesome Book on Creating Prayer Gardens, esp for Catholics

It's April 15th! Margaret's "Amazon Day!"  (Check out my Monday blog for more details.)

Are you Catholic?  a gardener?  Do you know a gardener who is Catholic?  This blog is for you!

My friend, Margaret Realy has written a wonderful book on creating prayer gardens.  This week, some of her fans and I are trying to bump up her sales and get it on the Amazon Top 100.  Why?  Because it's Spring--a time for new growth.  Because it's the Easter Season--a time for rebirth spiritually.  Because Margaret is a lovely woman living on her disability and deserves some help.  Most of all, though, because the book is a fabulous gift to anyone wanting to create a more prayerful surrounding.

Today, our goal is to get Margaret on the Top 100 on Amazon.  Please consider buying A Garden of Visible Prayer today, April 15, Margaret's "Amazon Day."  Use this link. 

Margaret has given us permission to reprint this article where she talks a little about her book:

FAITH Magazine Interview, March/April 2011 Issue
Margaret Rose Realy, Author, Garden of Visible Prayer: How to Create a Personal Sacred Space One Step at a Time.

Why did you write this book?
About five years ago I saw a need for gardens at St. Francis Retreat Center in Dewitt, MI. Specifically, prayer gardens where people could sit and draw closer to God who often speaks to us through nature. Retreatants would ask how I created these spaces and could I teach them to do the same in their own yards. Through this book I describe the step-by-step process of how to build personalized gardens that make prayer visible. In fact, that’s where the title comes from: “A Garden of Visible Prayer.” My hope is that the beginner or experienced gardener will use this book to create a personalized outdoor prayer space at home.
How does gardening integrate with our spiritual lives?
When working in a garden you cannot help but recognize the presence of God. To not feel God would be like standing next to a fire without feeling its heat. I read somewhere that to touch the earth is to touch the skin of God. One cannot but hope in the garden; we plant seeds and hope they sprout, we water and prune and hope for proper growth, we learn that winter always comes and we hope for rebirth. Here there are many similarities between gardens and gardeners, God and his children. Gardens are places of growth, not only for plants but for our souls as well.
How is this book an expression of your own faith?
There’s a quote I read in Magnificat; “Give me Lord what will rebound to your own profit,” which reflects my own faith in creating prayer gardens. What I do is done to promote His will, and to help other people quiet themselves enough so they too can find a way to communicate with God in His creation. There are so many ways to pray and each of us has our own. The question is how do we find it? I want to help answer this question, and that’s part of why I wrote this book.
What are one or two ideas from the book I can use in my own garden?
The book doesn’t start by telling you how to build a garden. Instead it tells you how to focus on your own intentions and faith.  I break the process up into three parts, “discern, design, and develop.” First you have to discern what type of garden is important to you by looking at your own spirituality and how you would translate your spirituality into an outdoor prayer space. For example, for some people rocks or boulders are great element to include in their garden because they are seen as solid or stable, and this is comforting to them. But because of those same qualities others could see them as cold and hard, not necessarily a loving reflection of God. Next, you design what the garden will look like while incorporating these spiritual elements. It’s helpful to flip through magazines or web images for ideas of how to arrange the things you want to include. Finally, the last step is developing, or constructing your outdoor prayer space.

Please consider buying A Garden of Visible Prayer today, April 15, Margaret's "Amazon Day."  Use this link.