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Rave Reviews Book Club’s Spotlight Author Sherilyn Powers

Today it is my pleasure to host Rave Reviews Book Club’s Spotlight Author Sherilyn Powers. In today’s post Sherilyn focuses on the phenomenon of “morphing” as it applies to allergies and sensitivities. It is a phenomenon with which I am all too familiar. I first heard about this so-called morphing in relation to allergies and sensitivities at the Environmental Health Center-Dallas, where I learned that when someone is sensitive to a food within a particular food family, it may not be long before that person develops sensitivities to other foods in that same family. To counteract this tendency for sensitivities to evolve, Dr. Rea, the center’s founder, recommended a four-day rotational diet to his patients. I followed this diet for about four years until I became so well after following Dr. Rea’s treatment program and receiving energy balancing from the healing team at A Healing Place in Richardson, Texas, that I was able to return to my normal eating patterns, based on a heart healthy diet with organic foods whenever possible and filtered water always. So … are you curious about morphing? See what Sherilyn has to say about it. While you’re at it, support her on social media and visit her website. You will find links below.

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Sherilyn Powers is the author of I’m Not Crazy I’m Allergic! In her book Sherilyn explores how exposure to seemingly harmless foods and substances could be related to reactions like panic attacks, depression, uncontrollable crying, brain fog, body aches and pains and many more.

I'm Not Crazy I'm Allergic by Sherilyn Powers

Morphing reactions?

Speaking to people with allergies every day, I’ve come across a very interesting phenomenon:  allergies/sensitivities that “morph” or change seamlessly. Sometimes so seamlessly that it takes a long time to realize it has happened.

And by “morph,” I’m don’t mean a worsening of reactions, though this can happen, too, but actually a change in the type of reaction and even the form of the food to which they react.

For example, a lot of people I know can’t drink milk. It gives them stomach aches, excess mucus and even diarrhea, to name a few symptoms. These people have no problems with yogurt, cheeses or even ice cream, so they don’t consider themselves allergic to dairy, just lactose intolerant.

It gets interesting, however, when suddenly someone’s reactions evolve from just reacting to milk to reacting to the next food up the line, which seems to be yogurt or ice cream. These new reactions can present with symptoms similar to those they had after drinking milk, or they can be totally different.

After that the softer cheeses, and finally hard cheese, can also provoke reactions.  Once that happens, dairy can sometimes no longer be tolerated at all, and drinking milk may cause debilitating reactions where it once only caused a bit of mucus.

I found the same type of thing happened to me with gluten.  Before I found out I had Celiac disease, I had a lot of very interesting reactions to gluten. I had eaten it my entire life and had never known it was the cause of my so-called “IBS” (irritable bowel syndrome).

When I finally started to suspect a wheat allergy (I knew nothing about Celiac disease at the time), I noticed I had lesser reactions with some gluten-containing foods than others (e.g., spelt and kamut), and I found I could more easily eat foods prepared one way rather than another (toast vs bread, for instance). At that time, I had no idea that gluten was a factor. I just knew I tolerated certain foods better than others. It was after I was diagnosed with Celiac disease that I was able to put it all together from my notes.

How many people would have noticed the difference between how they felt having milk and cheese or eating toast and then eating bread?  I probably would have missed it, too, but I had been sick and had eaten nothing but toast for a week. I went from that to eating an untoasted sandwich and my throat began to swell up. That rather caught my attention.

This doesn’t happen with everyone, but I’m using these examples to point out that allergies/sensitivities are not static. Just because drinking milk makes you sneeze one day, it does not mean that it will still make you sneeze three years from now, or that only milk, among all dairy products, will elicit a reaction.

When you are trying to discover what your allergies and sensitivities are, don’t forget that cooking and processing foods can sometimes not only change your reaction, but also can influence whether you have a reaction at all.

Sherilyn Powers’ contact information:

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/imnotcrazyimallergic

Twitter: @SPowersINCIA

Website:  http://imnotcrazyimallergic.com

 

 

 

Paying It Forward to Jan Sikes, RRBC Author

Today is the day I support fellow author Jan Sikes through the Pay It Forward initiative of the Rave Reviews Book Club. Each member is given the opportunity to “pay it forward” by supporting a fellow member and not promoting herself or himself that day.  If you are an author in search of a supportive home, then head over to the RRBC website and tell us that Jan sent you.

Jan’s creative approach to writing combines narrative and music, as she explains below. She is not only multi-talented, but she is also “multi-published” as well. You can check out her books and CDs below. Join the fun and support Jan on social media. Her links are listed below. Now here is Jan in her own words.

Jan_Sikes_Author_Picture

I am an Award Winning Author, screenwriter, songwriter and most of all an individual. I tell true stories in a creative and entertaining way. I love sharing what other authors are doing and any information I feel is useful to other authors. I also enjoy playing guitar and writing music. With each book I publish, I also release a music CD of original music that matches the time period of the book. This is something unique and I haven’t met many other authors who do this, but for me they go hand in hand. My stories all evolve and revolve around the music.

 

Click on the photos above for summaries of each book.

Jan’s links:

http://www.jansikes.com http://www.ricksikes.com
http://www.facebook.com/AuthorJanSikesBooks
http://www.facebook.com/RickSikesMusic http://www.twitter.com/rijanjks

 

Let’s Welcome Janelle Jalbert, RRBC’s Spotlight Author

As the very first Spotlight Author of the Rave Reviews Book Club, and yes, my fellow RRBCers, I will continue to remind you of that singular honor, I take great pleasure in hosting a Spotlight Author. If you’re not familiar with the benefits of membership in the Rave Reviews Book Club, then head on over to the website. Stay awhile and surf the menu. RRBC is a home away from home for a great group of congenial writers who help beginning writers as well as established writers to promote their work and have a good time while doing so. Today, Janelle Jalbert is in the spotlight, so if you decide to join this great group, say that Janelle sent you! Here she is in her own words.

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Birth of a Wingdog

Often, authors refer to their books as “book babies”, and I tend to be one of them. Each book is a special gift, at least for me, and has its own unique life beyond the covers. WINGDOG: Soul Pup continues that trend for me. It wasn’t started as a book. I had no illusions about being a memoirist. It started as a coping mechanism that blossomed into more than I originally ever thought possible.

The story behind WINGDOG started sometime in 2009. Have you ever gone through a period in life where everything seems to be touched by magic…where doors open to possibilities you couldn’t have imagined, and it seems as if you were given life’s golden ticket simply for waking up in the morning? That is where WINGDOG started.

I was transitioning out of the traditional classroom into online teaching and also working on a doctoral program in education while writing for an online startup. I’ve always had a wide range of interests and hobbies, including auto racing. In fact I used to get teased by my students for my motorsports enthusiasm.

By 2010, I was working two posts as a motorsports reporter/photographer in addition to my teaching career. Ninety days after covering a race weekend in Martinsville, Virginia, I signed a lease for an apartment in Charlotte, since my reporting was leading to more travel to the area. A month later, I officially moved from Southern California to North Carolina.

I didn’t have any personal ties to the area at the time. It was a leap of faith in many ways. A few months after I settled in, I began having problems with some neighbors and a couple of events had me thinking that I made a disastrous mistake. Still, I am not one to cower in the face of adversity, and my dog lover side made the solution easy. A pup would help me deal with the situation as well as be a much needed form of companionship in the aftermath of my move.

Little did I know the miracle that would arrive on an October afternoon.  I opened an email and was introduced to a pup with one brown eye and one blue eye. I fell in love instantly. By that evening, my wingdog, Goose, and I were a fresh little family. Goose not only worked his magic on me but also touched lives across the country.

A year later, I began writing the “Goose Tales” as a kind of writing therapy. My life had done a severe one-eighty, and I was struggling after my return to Southern California. It started as a series of vignettes to help me smile when I thought the proverbial bottom had fallen out from under me.

It took more than four years and several stops and starts to see WINGDOG: Soul Pup completed. What began as writing therapy, to help process the events of a remarkable time in my life, slowly shifted. I learned one of the major differences between fiction writing and memoir writing in the process. There’s therapeutic value in getting a story told, but sometimes it takes time for the full impact of a cycle of events to emerge. Time may heal all wounds, but it is also true that the unfolding of subsequent life events change the story behind the story. It was the permission to let the story emerge over time that was the key to WINGDOG: Soul Pup being more than just another canine-centric story.

WINGDOG: Soul Pup is subtitled ‘A Magical Mutt Memoir’ because what started out as a personal coping strategy developed into a celebration of life and love. The magic in life is not about spells, potions and other wizardly or witchy things. The magical side of life is about experiencing all that life has to offer; celebrating companionship in all its forms; seeing the love and humor in the everyday moments; experiencing the gifts of serendipity and synchronicity; and understanding that the present of life is often more than we can grasp in the present moment.

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Excerpt from Wingdog Soul Pup

First Date

Yes, I slept with him on our first date. It felt so good to have his warm body against mine. He was gorgeous and sweet as slumber set in, and I couldn’t help but curl up closer. We were already doing our own version of spooning, just hours after meeting. Everything was once again right with the world thanks to his warmth by my side. It was a case of love at first sight that grew deeper in the darkness of the bedroom around us.

I couldn’t help but run my fingers through his fur as his brindled coat rose and fell with deep, sleep-filled breathing. His fur was the perfect texture, not too course but without fluff. The hairs behind his bouncy ears were already my favorite, so silky fine. He sighed as I continued rubbing up and down his side before once more scratching behind his ear. With the ear rubs, he pushed closer into me. His sixteen pound body firmly tucked at my hip.

Ah, I’m home.

I wasn’t sure if it was my thought because it could have easily come from the pup at my side. For the first time in weeks, I began to doze off, peaceful and content. The neighbor problems that plagued my previous weeks faded away with his comforting presence.

Sometimes it does all work out. Bad things can lead to great opportunities.

The stress of moving from California to North Carolina evaporated. The distress that plagued me eased. It was what I’d been craving: a chance to forget and to enjoy life again. It was what my soul needed. I sighed and let go. All was good, at last.

The day started like most of late when I got sidetracked by my inbox after clicking on the message. A small, brown puppy snuggled face-to-face with a tabby kitten appeared. The expression in the picture wasn’t curiosity. It was more like a big brother protecting a younger sibling. The other picture was of the same puppy looking up at the camera. His brown ears were as big as his head. The look in his eyes was that of questioning intelligence, and only the slightest hint of his blue left eye opposite the brown one showed. He seemed to know it was not simply a picture being taken.

It took less than thirty seconds. I was in love.

Immediately, I hit reply. He’s adorable. I’d love to meet him!

With that, a flurry of emails was exchanged. I rushed out into the silvery, fall day, filled with clouds. I stopped at the ATM before getting on the highway for the trip down to Rock Hill from Charlotte. It felt odd to pull money out to buy a dog. Granted, I rescued pups before, but this felt different. Then, it hit me. There’s something not all together right about exchanging money for a living creature’s spirit, and that thought caught me off guard.

“What’s that all about?” I muttered as I turned down the onramp to Highway 85, heading south. I shook off the feeling with the thought that it helped pay for his care rather than buying him per say.

As I made the transition to the 77 near uptown Charlotte, I started thinking of names for the pup. Angie named him ‘Ace of Spades’ or Ace for ease, but that wasn’t right. I knew that instantly. My dogs have always named themselves. He’ll let me know. I thought, but still names flitted through my mind.

What do I want from all this? That made me laugh. It’s a dog adoption, not a marriage. The truth was already apparent. This was going to be bigger than a simple custody transfer. The anxiety over recent events with neighbors at my apartment complex threatened to rear up again. I needed someone…something…to help watch my back. I wanted a right-hand man…a wingman…or, in this case, a ‘wingdog’.

That’s it! Goose. Like the wingman in Top Gun, he’d be my extra pair of eyes and ears. I loved it immediately and settled on it before remembering that the dog does the choosing.

“Okay, just keep it in mind,” I mumbled as I got off the highway and made a convoluted trip to the apartment. I texted Angie from the parking lot because I couldn’t make sense of the numbers in the complex, so she agreed to bring him down to meet me. I waited in the car for a few minutes, laughing at myself for having a bit of ‘first date’ jitters about meeting a puppy.

They seemed to appear out of nowhere and stopped at the end of the walkway.

I got out, and as soon as I cleared the bumper, he spotted me. It was magic – a connection in an instant – as he leapt towards me despite his leash. His eyes lit up like I’m sure mine did. With a big smile and open arms, I walked up to him at Angie’s side and said hello. He barely reached my kneecap, but his eyes were wide and bright. I dropped to my knee. Given my earlier thoughts about marriage, I chuckled and shook my head to clear the whole proposal analogy from my head. He nuzzled into me immediately and toppled me onto my rear.

Who are YOU? I haven’t seen you before. He did a once over with his nose. Yep, you smell nice. You’re a good one. How ya doin’?

I smiled ear to ear as I situated myself, sitting cross-legged so the little guy could sniff away at will. If that isn’t an enthusiastic yes, I don’t know what is. My heart swelled as his furry little body shivered with excitement. His wild tail matched the leaping in my chest. I looked into his wide, trusting eyes: one brown, the other blue. It was a match. You choose me too! I thought as I wrapped my arms around the brindled bundle showering me in warm wet pup kisses.

“We found him on the highway. He was in bad shape, but we nursed him back to health. He’s been dewormed too.”

He sat listening to the conversation like he would chime in at any time, sneaking glances at me as Angie debriefed me about his circumstances.

How could someone be so evil to such an adorable boy?

“Several people have come to look at him, but the brindle coloring gives the impression of a pit bull.” Angie sighed. “He’s incredibly friendly, but the people who’ve come to see him have scared him as well as my husband and me. It’s like he knows they’re not right. My husband and I figured they were looking for fighting dogs, or even bait dogs, when they start asking about his bloodlines.”

A chill traveled down my spine at the thought of people looking to sacrifice a loving creature for a blood sport.

Angie continued, “That’s why we’ve been saying that he’s a Jack Russell mix. We’re not sure though, and we can’t keep him anyway.” Angie went on to explain about their impending move as Goose scanned the yard of the apartment complex.

Hold on. His name isn’t Goose yet. I thought as my mind and heart made the leap. He gets a vote. Remember?

“He’s big into sticks,” Angie stated as she reached up into the branches of a small, almost bare tree near us and broke off a branch for Goose. He immediately plopped down to tackle his new toy. “I was going to name him Lucky, but that’s too common. So, I thought that the Ace of Spades is a lucky card. That’s how he got his name.”

I noticed that he wasn’t too fond of the name either, since he didn’t even twitch when he heard her say it. Good boy! You’re definitely a smart one. I thought. I could tell Angie was stalling a bit with her continued chatting.

“He’s still damp. I was cleaning the bird cage in the bathtub, and he jumped right in too. He loves water.”

“Perfect! I’m a surfer girl who needs to be around water all the time.” I said with a laugh and smile. “Yeah, I know Charlotte’s not near the ocean, but we’ll be at the lake a lot.” I felt like I was selling myself to win favor.

“He loves going for rides too. My husband has to take him every time he goes to the store or wherever.”

“That works out perfectly too. Though I am teaching online classes fulltime, I’m a bit of a road warrior right now with a side gig as a motorsports reporter. That’s what brought me to NC. We’ll be going to California in a couple of weeks for the Phoenix race, Thanksgiving, and Champ Week. He’ll get the ride of his puppy life.”

Angie’s shoulders slumped as we transferred his things to the car, and I handed Angie a hundred dollars for both the pup and all of her supplies. There wasn’t much: a used cat collar, a small leash, some food and a bowl, but it was a start. The supermarket dog food was going to be replaced immediately.

You’ll be eating way better than that. I vowed silently. I could tell that Angie was both happy and sad. I passed the test. He was going to a good home, but it meant that he was leaving her.

Whether it was Angie’s demeanor or plain puppy energy, he grew restless, starting to explore the yard as much as he could while still on a leash. After Angie ran out of things to chit-chat about, I opened the passenger’s side door and cradled him in my arms. His warmth traveled to my core as the soft bundle of brown, black and white fur rested close to my heart. A sigh escaped as I held him to my chest before placing him on the seat.

Shotgun! He perked up and sniffed the interior, which was already filling with the smell of kibble.

His investigation stopped abruptly and he stared at Angie and me. He knew something was different. This wasn’t a casual, meet-someone-on-a-walk encounter anymore. It was a strange new car. He looked at Angie. Thank you. I’m happy. She’s a good one.

Angie sighed. “Bye, Ace. You’re a good boy.”

He seemed to smile as he stretched, puffing out his puppy chest. Then he got distracted by the straw to my iced coffee. He was at ease, and inside of two hours, I became a pup mom. Life wasn’t going to be the same again.

Website: www.janellejalbert.com

Amazon Author Page: http://bit.ly/JanelleJalbertRRBC

Twitter handle: @JustJJWriting

Facebook: Facebook.com/janellejalbert.author

WINGDOG: Soul Pup will be released on Amazon, March 7, with full release across most major retailers in June 2016

 

Kathryn C. Treat: Daughter, Sister, Wife, Mother, Grandmother, Author, and Loving Friend. RIP

A year ago today Kathryn Chastain Treat died suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage. I published this post in her honor after I heard the sad news from one of her daughters. To mark the first anniversary of Kathy’s death, I am re-publishing my 2014 post.

Nothing prepares you for sudden loss. Not training, not faith, not personal fortitude. When loss occurs suddenly, the first reaction is disbelief, followed by a nearly all-encompassing paralysis of thought. At least, that’s how it was for me when Kathy Treat’s daughter Laura told me of her mother’s sudden death this weekend due to a cerebral hemorrhage. How could it be otherwise? A person I had known as a vibrant fully engaged human being, someone who had been a dear friend to me for over twelve years, was suddenly gone. And the only thing I could think of in that moment, the thought that was repeating in my mind, was that I had to write about her. That thought drove me to my computer.

Book Cover

Kathryn Chastain Treat is the author of Allergic to Life: My Battle for Survival, Courage, and Hope. In her book, Kathy shared her years-long battle to recover from mold exposure in her workplace and detailed the various treatments she underwent, some of which worked and some of which did not. If there were dominant themes that tied her story of illness, survival, and triumph together, they were her out-sized courage and her decades-long quest to educate doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel about multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). And she was a great guide and friend to others with MCS. In her blog posts, she shared information about the various treatments that had worked for her and others, pointed a finger at the sources of pollution— industrial, commercial, and personal—that harm all of us, not just the chemically sensitive, and supported other bloggers who were helping to shine a light on the environment and health, as well as the increase in the incidence of MCS. She was also a loyal and dedicated member of the Rave Reviews Book Club, who served as the club’s first Membership Director until illness and the loss of her father required she take a less active, but still utterly engaged, role. Finally, and certainly most important to a retelling of who Kathy was, she was a devoted daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, and friend.

I met Kathy in January 2003 at Dr. Rea’s clinic, the Environmental Health Center-Dallas, under what were trying circumstances for both of us. I had been in Dallas since October 2002 under treatment for chronic and acute exposure to type II pyrethroid pesticides, which are still considered in the United States to be safe for people and pets. Kathy, who had initially been in treatment at Dr. Rea’s clinic for mold exposure in 2002, had returned to Dallas to have her uterus and ovaries removed in January 2003, an ordeal she wrote about in detail in her book. While a hysterectomy is stressful and debilitating for most women and recovery is not easy, Kathy’s was made even more so by the knowledge that her uterine and ovarian tissue contained high levels of trichothecene mycotoxins, toxic secondary metabolites or byproducts of mold.

Despite the obstacles to recovery Kathy encountered and the debilitating bouts of dizziness, compounded by anaphylactic reactions to medicines as well as to the testing of antigens that would eventually bring her allergic reactions under control, she remained determined to help herself and to be a friend to the other patients she met at the clinic and the Regina Coeli apartments, where we met.

As people do when they are joined in adversity, Kathy bonded with several patients, and I was one of those fortunate to meet and bond with Kathy. As she recovered from her surgery and became stronger, we shared the time we were not testing at the clinic, sitting in my apartment and not Kathy’s because in addition to MCS I had also unmasked for sensitivity to electromagnetic fields. In my apartment I was furthest from the strongest sources of EMF radiation in the apartment building, and I could manage best there. Kathy, considerate and thoughtful, made it her business to learn about EMF sensitivity and helped me with tasks I could not manage on my own.

One of those tasks was washing and drying clothing. I needed to avoid going into the laundry room when the washers or dryers were running. Since there was no schedule for use, invariably I found myself having to move my clothes to the dryer or take them out when someone else was already running a wash or dry cycle in another machine. I had been depending on friends I had made at the apartments, but finding someone at the right moment wasn’t always possible. Kathy said that Regina Coeli needed to have a laundry room schedule, and I agreed. We sat one afternoon working on a grid by two-hour time segments for the use of the washers and dryers in the laundry room. Later that evening when we had finished, I presented the grid to Earl Remmel, the proprietor, who loved the idea and hung up a grid-like sign up board in the laundry room for residents to fill in. EMF exposure problem solved! And it was Kathy’s idea.

When it was time for me to leave Dallas for an environmentally safe house in Santa Fe, Kathy and another friend, Anne, helped me pack up to leave. I had been in a healing crisis and was in too much pain to do much of anything except rest. In Santa Fe, Kathy and I kept in touch while she was in Dallas and after she returned home to Merced. Since I was still recovering from EMF sensitivity, we could only exchange handwritten notes. It was not until a few months later that I could begin to have telephone conversations, albeit short ones to limit my exposure to EMF.

As I healed from EMF sensitivity with help from Deborah Singleton and the healing team at A Healing Place, I could once again use a computer and speak on the telephone for longer periods. Then Kathy and I could exchange emails about the book I was writing and Kathy’s plan to turn her journal entries into the story of her battle with mold exposure. Kathy was one of my biggest supporters as I was dealing with the various stages of editing and proofreading with my publisher. In turn after she had decided to self-publish and had entered the editing process through a friend of her daughter Laura, we explored the many avenues to publication.

Kathy published Allergic to Life: My Battle for Survival, Courage, and Hope in August 2013. She planned and cooked for her launch party, choosing an outside setting, one that would make it easier for her to be in a large group of people. If everyone followed her request not to wear scent, then she could mingle easily and not be exposed to the outgassing of materials as she would have in an indoor setting. The party was a success, of course.

In December 2013 Kathy told me of a new online book club, of which she was to be a founding member. The brainchild of Nonnie Jules, Rave Reviews Book Club would promote Indie writers and their work. Although I was published by a small publisher in the UK, Kathy said I would be welcome, and she urged me to join. I am glad I did. RRBC has been incredibly supportive on social media and is a home away from home for beginning and seasoned writers. Their promotional activities have brought me and other writers followers on Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress and increased sales.

The fact that I have a WordPress blog at all is due to Kathy’s guidance and help. When my book website was hacked and used as a phishing site, it had to be taken down.  After working with a young computer geek for several weeks to try to restore it, I realized that it was a lost cause. Kathy volunteered to guide me in setting up a WordPress blog. She helped me style my page, connect it to social media with the right widgets, and taught me in telephone conversations how to edit and post. Within a day my blog was running, and I began posting.

Kathryn and her husband, Rick.

Kathryn and her husband, Rick.

Just as she was a loyal friend to me and to others, she was devoted to her family. And they figure prominently in Allergic to Life. Anyone who reads Kathy’s book will learn of her devotion to her parents, sister, husband, children, and grandchildren. She writes movingly of her feelings when she was in treatment in Dallas and had to miss birthdays and other celebrations with her daughters back home. Her family returned that devotion and love in many ways. They were supportive of Kathy while she was in treatment in Dallas and at home. Kathy shared photos of family holidays in her blogs, where her family wore Tyvek suits to protect Kathy from mold exposure. They de-scented themselves for her and made their homes as environmentally safe as they could so Kathy could visit. Kathy and I had heard stories from other clinic patients whose families were not supportive and made no effort to help the person in treatment. We had both felt so grateful that our families had stood by us through treatment and afterwards.

Kathy was an ordinary woman who walked an extraordinarily difficult path with courage and determination. She mastered the technical terms of the health consequences of mold exposure and educated those who would listen. She was a role model for me and many others. Her kindnesses and achievements will not be forgotten.

Kathy, I will miss you, my dear friend and fellow author.

Rave Reviews Spotlight Author April Adams and Inspiration

 

It is my pleasure to host April Adams, fellow Rave Reviews Book Club member and Spotlight Author. April shares her thoughts about writers’ inspiration. We all need inspiration as well as practical support. I encourage you to show your support for April by following her on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads. Pick up a copy of her book on Amazon. See April’s links below. While you’re at it, stop by the Rave Reviews website, a great place for authors and readers. If you join, tell RRBC that April sent you. Here is April in her own words.

April Adams

April Adams

 

How Inspiration Strikes and What I Do About It

Inspiration is a funny thing. It can strike without warning. One minute, I’m sitting there watching my infant being awesome, and the next my mind is swirling with a story line that just sort of blipped into existence! I love those moments. I can understand how the concept of a sentient being called “Muse” came about. It’s almost like a sudden possession. It isn’t there, and then it is! Magic!

Everybody gets inspiration at one time or another. I think what sets apart the thinkers from the doers is just the action one takes when inspired. I don’t let one of those magical moments pass me by. I will stop what I’m doing while the moment is fresh and record it somehow. At times it’s just scribbles on a notebook. Other times I make a voice or text note on my phone. I capture them before they can flit away like shooting stars.

Not every idea I get is worth a novel. Some of them aren’t even worth a short story. At least, not yet. My first book, Shattered, sat in my brain box for a long, long time. Since I was sixteen or so, but it was just an embryo then. Over the years I gathered experience and skills until one day, while watching TV, all of the pieces just fell into place.

One line, spoken by the right actor at the right time, let all the swirling bits coalesce into a beautiful (if I do say so myself) story of epic adventure, tender romance, and magical creatures, with a special twist on the classic good vs evil plotline. Shattered is available through Amazon at http://amzn.com/B00CH3T0DQ in paperback, ebook, and audiobook. The trilogy is complete now, so you won’t have to wait for the next book. I hope you’ll give it a shot. It was definitely inspired.

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Find me online!

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/April-Adams/e/B00CHRCD8G

Twitter:  @apriladamsnovel

Facebook:   www.fb.com/apriladamsnovel

Website:  www.writerapriladams.com

Goodreads:  www.goodreads.com/apriladamsnovel

 

The Highs and Lows of Writing a Series: Lessons Learned by Helen Treharne

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It is my pleasure to host Helen Treharne, fellow Rave Reviews Book Club member, published author, and lucky RRBC Spotlight Author, as she graces the websites of other fellow RRBC members during her blog tour. If you haven’t heard of RRBC or the club’s perks for Indie writers, check out the RRBC website. If you join, tell them Helen sent you. Better yet, plan to go to Amazon on February 14 to order your copy of Death in the Family. While you’re there, claim your free copy of Relative Strangers. Here is Helen in her own words.

 

Author Helen Treharne

Author Helen Treharne

 

There’s no way around it, writing a book is hard work; writing a series is perhaps even harder. You live with your characters for months, years in many cases.  Writing is not for the faint hearted. Within the confines of your creation lurk great risks. What if readers don’t get what you are trying to say? What if the story just doesn’t translate from your mind onto paper? What if they think your writing sucks? Perhaps people won’t root for your characters. When you write a series, this is essential. You want readers to warm to the ongoing plotlines and characters, even the villains. When the vampire genre is already pretty saturated, crafting stories and conjuring up people that feel fresh and interesting is stressful, I can tell you!

But along with the challenges of writing a series, there also come great rewards, not the least of which are the memories you forge along the way. It took two years to write Relative Strangers, the first book in the Sophie Morgan vampire series. I started it during a particularly busy time in my personal life and with lots happening outside the confines of my limited writing time.

My experience of writing Death in the Family was very different. I’ve forged great memories of the creative process. Improving my planning made a significant difference – as did finding a fantastic editor. This time around I also had the support of authors and readers I befriended following the release of Relative Strangers – that helped a lot! There are far too many to name, though I have acknowledged a few in the acknowledgements in the soon to be released sequel, Death in the Family.

I’ve learned some important lessons about writing a series along the way. Some of them about myself, others about my art. Here are just a few:

  1. Have an overall vision of where you want your characters to go. What’s the overall lesson or journey they will undertake through the course of the series.
  2. Keep proper notes of recurring elements and their features – characters, locations, appearance.
  3. Take time to plan at least an outline story before pen even touches paper.
  4. Choose cover designers who understand your vision and can commit to producing covers for each book in the series.
  5. Use some form of version control for your drafts. Scenes you delete now might be good to use in future books.
  6. Ask critical friends of other beta readers to take a look at a draft at an early stage. Try to use those who have read other books – to check for consistency. Also use those who haven’t, to ensure it makes sense to those who haven’t.
  7. Release books close together. You will have more success if people can move on to one book straight after the other. Sit on your hands if you have to, to prevent out hitting that ‘publish button on the first one.
  8. Read other series in your genre – get a feel for what readers expect, what sells and what won’t.
  9. Network with other authors and with creators of other series in particular. Writers are a friendly bunch and will happily share tips on marketing and craft, or just a hefty heap of motivation.
  10. Set yourselves some milestones. When will you finish each book? Will it be something that is wrapped up within 3/4/5 books, or will the books just keep going until you run out of steam? Once you’ve finished, how will you reward yourself (a nice meal out is always a good treat I think!)? Writing a series is a bit of a marathon, you’ll need to keep yourself motivated with little wins to enjoy along the way.

So, there you have it, my lessons so far.  I’m sure these will evolve over time.  Please let me know if there are any you would like to share. Please leave a comment on the blog or pop over to mine and say hi.

Helen Treharne Book Cover

 

Death in the Family will be available from Amazon 14th February – the perfect valentine gift for the vampire loving reader in your life! It is available for pre-order now. To celebrate the release, Relative Strangers will also be FREE to download from Amazon on 14th February.

 

Helen Treharne is the creator of the developing Sophie Morgan vampire series as well as short stories and other prose. Helen lives with her husband, three cats, an entrenched tea addiction and an increasing collection of stringed instruments. When she’s not writing, she spends her daytime hours working in communications and volunteers for a feline welfare charity.  She also runs a very successful book blog, reviewing and promoting the work of other indie authors. She also can’t stop purchasing stationery. She can be found at her blog, Facebook page and on Twitter.

 

In Loving Memory of Kathryn Chastain Treat

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Kathryn C. Treat passed away on Sunday, December 21, 2014, at 2:20 a.m. (California time).  On Friday, December 19, after having a wonderful time at the Rave Reviews Book Club’s virtual Christmas party, in a virtual chat room with her fellow RRBC VIP Lounge members, Kathryn said that she was not feeling well and was going to leave.  Shortly thereafter, she suffered a hemorrhagic stroke and then lapsed into a coma.

Kathryn was an honorary board member of the Rave Reviews Book Club, where she served as Membership Director from December 2013 until September 2014.  Kathryn is the author of ALLERGIC TO LIFE:  MY BATTLE FOR SURVIVAL, COURAGE AND HOPE  She inspired and encouraged many with this book, so if you have not had the pleasure of reading it, please head to Amazon and get your copy.

Book Cover

BOOK TRAILER

Kathryn was a dedicated member of RRBC until her passing, and she was one of the most supportive members the club had…not just to one, but to all.  Kathryn leaves to mourn her husband, her mother, her sister, her two daughters, a son-in-law and three grandkids (whom she adored more than life), as well as her entire RRBC family.

Let us remember Kathryn and honor her memory by always being kind to one another and by always offering our support to another.  It’s what she did.  It’s how she lived.  It’s who she was.  In honor, many blogs across the world are memorializing Kathryn today with the same post that you see here.  If Kathryn touched your life in any way, please share your memories and comments below.  Since everyone who knew Kathryn may not yet know of her home-going, we ask that you also share this page on all your social media forums.

We have erected a memorial page on the Rave Reviews Book Club site that will remain.  Please stop by to leave your comments and memories of Kathryn, so that her family will get a sense of just how loved she was by so many.

THANK YOU!

PS:  As a member of the Rave Reviews Book Club and someone whose life was touched by Kathy, I am participating in the worldwide blog today as Kathy is laid to rest. My thoughts are with her family, and I send them love. In an earlier post I wrote about Kathy and her courageous fight both to educate others about multiple chemical sensitivity and to survive a workplace mold exposure that had turned her life upside down. You can access it here: Click.

 

Authors Supporting Our Troops 2015 #ASOT2015

I stumbled across this wonderful program for authors to support our troops via Natacha Guyot’s blog. Authors, heads up! Support those who are defending freedom on behalf of us and our country. Armand, thank you for giving us authors a way of reaching out to our young men and women in the U.S. Military Services.

ARMAND ROSAMILIA

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Hard to believe we are only three months away from the official kickoff to the second year of Authors Supporting Our Troops. I figured now would be a good time to get everyone up to speed and explain the program again so I don’t have to spend so much time this year telling helpful people what we do and do not need to make this another successful year.

First off, we never really stopped collecting author-signed books, we just haven’t posted too much about it once the official end date of May 15th came and went. We collected 2,500 books from authors and publishers in the four months we promoted it. I think that is awesome.

Since then we’ve managed about 75 more books and sent out another shipment overseas to a soldier. the goal for 2015 is to break 3,000 books collected and shipped. We can only do that…

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Rave Reviews Spotlight Author Ronesa Aveela

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As the very first Rave Reviews Spotlight Author, it is always a pleasure for me to host a new Spotlight Author. Today the spotlight is on Ronesa Aveela, author of  Mystical Emona: Soul’s Journey. For all of you history lovers out there, now is your chance to learn a little more about a people who were contemporaries of the Ancient Greeks. And if you haven’t heard about the Rave Reviews Book Club, then mosy on over to the site to check out the club that supports, promotes, and propels members. Tell them that Ronesa sent you. Here she is in her own words.

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The Thracians

We knew little about the Thracians when we started to work on “Mystical Emona: Soul’s Journey.” When people mention Thrace, the only heroes who readily come to mind are Hercules, Orpheus, and Spartacus – if even those. But Thrace has a vast history beyond its mythology or the conflict with Rome. We enthusiastically rolled up our sleeves and researched their culture, religion, and customs. Our efforts were reward with a delightful review: “I love that there is a little bit of historical elements in this book, namely the stuff set in ancient Thrace. A history buff myself, it isn’t often I get the chance to read things about Thrace that don’t involve Spartacus. Major props to the writer for creating this wonderful tale.”

Quite often now when we mention the book, people ask, “Where is Thrace?” or “Who were the Thracians? Is that a country?”

So, let’s start with the easy question: “Where is Thrace?” The Thracians lived in southeastern Europe along the Black Sea, in the region that is now modern-day Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey.

Map

“Who were the Thracians” poses a more difficult question. What we can tell you is that they have been around for a long time. Since the people themselves did not have a written language, everything that is known about them comes from other sources. The first historical reference to them was in Homer’s “Iliad,” where it was mentioned that they were allies to the Trojans. But evidence of them as a distinct people exists as far back as 1500 BC.

They were a warlike tribal nation, living in mountains and valleys. But they were also great artisans, finely crafting delicate golden objects and painting beautiful murals.

A polytheistic people, they worshiped the Sun and Moon, both. Bendis, called the Great Goddess, was one of their primary deities. Better known, however, is Dionysus, the god of wine, whom the Greeks incorporated into their religion. It is through the story of Orpheus (you remember him; he went to Hades to retrieve his wife Eurydice) that the tale of this drunken god is probably best known. The story did not end well for Orpheus. The Maenads, followers of Dionysus, tore him apart. Yup, gruesome.

Even today, Bulgaria is known for its wine. Many myths and legends mention Thracian wine. Homer says the most popular wine, one with the best aroma and body, came from the Thracian city of Maroneia. Odysseus also used Thracian wine to put the Cyclops Polyphemus to sleep before he struck the beast in the eye with his spear.

When Christianity crept into the region, the Dionysian cult faded away. But even today the feast of Saint Trifon is celebrated, and the festivities trace back to the cult of Dionysus (for example, pouring wine and electing a king). But, that could be the topic of another entire blog.

“Mystical Emona” was highlighted on October 9 at Boston University during an event called “Bulgarian Voices: Love, Light and Rituals.” It is also available on Amazon US and UK. In addition, we are working on a non-fiction book that will describe many of these Bulgarian customs and others in more detail, as well as their Thracian origins. Look for it in December.

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Book available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Mystical-Emona-Souls-Journey-Volume/dp/1500616974

Website: http://mysticalemona.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MysticalEmona

Book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBQ7FJtb9vY

Pinterest—Rebecca: http://www.pinterest.com/tacrafts/

Twitter: @RebeccaCarter_E

Rave Reviews Spotlight Author Traci Sanders

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As the first Spotlight Author of the Rave Reviews Book Club, I warmly welcome the authors who enjoy their time in the spotlight. Today it is my pleasure to host Traci Sanders, an award-winning teacher and child advocate, who is also an accomplished author. You can visit with Traci on the Rave Reviews Book Club website. If you haven’t yet become a member of the club, which is open to both authors and readers, stop by to join and say Traci sent you. Here is Traci in her own words.

Traci Sanders

I doubt she even realizes it, but my mother has always been a huge inspiration for my writing. As a young girl, I watched her play the piano and write songs for church. Sometimes I would find her journal and read some of her songs and become inspired to write my own. I would also write poetry and short stories. Writing was my gift, and I realized this at an early age. As I got older, I began writing and singing songs in church. People told me I had an “anointing” from God, a power to heal with my words and my voice. That was a pretty powerful thing to hear at my age so I took it seriously.

 

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“When Darkness Breaks”

Local news anchor, Amber Woods, seemed to have it all – a thriving career, two beautiful children, and a doting husband named Drake. Life was perfect…until her world was turned upside down in one fateful night. While the incident causes Amber to renew her priorities; unable to deal with what happened, Drake begins sinking into a deep depression laced with infidelity and alcohol. Hoping a change of scenery will salvage her quickly deteriorating marriage, Amber agrees that a move to New York may be just what they need. Unfortunately, she quickly discovers that you can’t outrun your problems and the past is not always left in the past. Can Amber save her marriage without losing herself along the way? What will she do when darkness breaks her will to keep trying?

 

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About the Author

 

Traci Sanders

Traci Sanders

 

Author and mother of three, Traci Sanders has been composing poetry, songs, and children’s stories since the young age of ten. In 2003, she opened her home to young children in her community offering “beyond the basics” teachings. In 2008, she was recognized by the Child Care Resource and Referral Agency as Family Childcare Provider of the Year and was featured in two local newspapers. In 2010, she furthered her education by earning her Child Development Associates degree and was a recipient of the FIRST (First Incentive for Raising Standards among Teachers) Award presented by the Child Care Commissioner of her state. She continues to shape the young minds of the future through her home-based childcare program. Her daily interactions with these children provide constant inspiration for her writing and she plans to continue on this path until her story has reached “The End.”

Her first book was published in January 2013 titled Welcome to Poop Camp “The Truth, The Whole Truth, and Nothing but the Truth about Potty Training.” She released her first children’s book about family child care in May 2013. To date, she has published five books including her first novella When Darkness Breaks.

 

Twitter – https://twitter.com/TLCKids4915

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/TLCKidsPublishing

Website – http://www.tlckidspublishing.com/