Fierce, Funny, and Female: Guest Post

FIERCE, FUNNY,
AND FEMALE

A Journey Through Middle America,
the Texas Oil Field, and Standup Comedy

by
MARTI MacGIBBON
Genre: Memoir / Drama / Humor
Publisher: Stay Strong Publishing
Publication Date: March 20, 2017
Number of Pages: 412 pages
SCROLL DOWN FOR THE GIVEAWAY! 

This book is the celebrated prequel to the critically acclaimed, nationally award-winning and bestselling memoir, Never Give in to Fear. In her raw, vivid, and unabashed style, author Marti MacGibbon delivers a sometimes heartbreaking, often hilarious, always engaging account of her passage through trauma, betrayal, and loss in adolescence and young adulthood to discover her inner badass self. As one of the first women to work as a laborer in the Texas oil field, she set off explosives and staked oil wells before realizing her childhood dream of becoming a successful standup comic. Marti introduces readers to a wide range of characters in her life: from sleazy authority figures, wannabe Sixties musicians and crazed Corn Belt cult leaders, to Texas oil billionaires and wildcatters, to wild-eyed redneck coworkers who robbed banks on their lunch hour―in the company truck. The book includes scenes with iconic comedians, Hollywood entertainment industry moguls, and a legendary bluesman, and offers insights into resiliency, courage, and self-empowerment.
WINNER, 2017 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards in Humor
WINNER, 2017 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards in Women’s Studies 
WINNER, 2017 National Indie Excellence Awards in Women’s Health
WINNER, 2017 Beverly Hills Book Awards in Women’s Issues 
WINNER, 2018 Independent Press Award in Humor
WINNER, 2018 Independent Press Award in Women’s Studies 
WINNER, 2018 New York City Book Book Award, Women’s Studies
FINALIST, 2018 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Memoir (Overcoming Adversity)
PURCHASE THE BOOK
PRAISE FOR FIERCE, FUNNY, AND FEMALE:

“Being funny is a survival skill. Fierce, Funny, and Female is not only a survivor’s tale but an inspirational story of overcoming the unthinkable, again and again…Her courage and comedy make Fierce, Funny, and Female a winner.” — Foreword Clarion Reviews

“An effervescently witty…chronicle of perseverance and the power to overcome the darkest of days…Perhaps the most rewarding chapter in this chatty, affecting book is the concluding one, where MacGibbon lists the tried-and-true pearls of wisdom that continue to sustain her…” — Kirkus Reviews

Fierce, Funny, and Female is a thoroughly engaging memoir packed with witty observations, high adventure, and a glimpse of behind-the-scenes Hollywood. Highly recommended!” — Midwest Book Review

“MacGibbon is a natural storyteller, and her life story is a most interesting one. The characters she has run across during her life journey are well-drawn and absolutely fascinating, particularly the good ol’ boys in the Texas oilfields.” — San Francisco Book Review

GuestPost

Build Your Creativity and Invite More Fun into Your Life

You don’t have to be born a genius, a gifted person, in order to be creative; you can develop and build your own creative genius. The key to creativity is action. A person who thinks of innovative, exciting ideas, and then doesn’t act on them, is an imaginative person, but not a creative person. The act of creation brings something into being.

Whatever you think, whatever you believe, you become. Believe in your creative abilities and motivate yourself daily. Sometimes staying motivated means taking one or two baby steps per day. Other days, you’ll accomplish two or three giant strides. The key is to stay in the game. Keep chipping away at your project and it will take shape before you know it. Your genius will emerge, one day at a time.

Let go of limitations — open yourself up to opportunities. Throw your brain a curve ball — try something new: make changes in your daily schedule, drive a different route to work, rearrange your furniture, wear different colors or clothes than usual. Learn a new language. Shake things up. Free yourself to think outside the box. Avoid negative self-talk that stifles innovation. Instead, make affirmations such as, “I am creative,” or “I’m a prolific writer,” or “I have a unique vision and voice.” These are self-enhancing statements that build confidence and switch on creativity and charisma.

When it comes to unleashing your creativity, go “crazy.” The primitive part of the brain speaks of fear, listing all the “shoulds and shouldn’ts,” and the “ought tos” and “could’ves,” which hampers creativity. Often the craziest idea, the one most feared, is the one to explore. Try embracing the things that unsettle you, or the things you’re inclined to immediately reject — you may discover a creative wellspring which will feed your productivity. Allow your imagination free rein, never giving in to the urge to downplay who you are. Stay loyal to yourself and your goals.

While you’re creating, remember to have fun. Fun helps you stay energized and enjoying the process. Here are 11 ways raise your fun quotient and build creativity:

  1. When you wake up, take a few moments to visualize yourself surrounded by love and beauty, and filled with purpose and the power to realize your dreams. You can see it in your mind as a movie, a still photo, or a series of images. This action primes your subconscious mind to the idea that wonderful things can happen.
  2. Get outdoors and into nature. Take a walk in the park. Sit under your favorite tree and enjoy a beverage. Step outside at night and spend some time star gazing or appreciating the moon.
  3. Laugh whenever possible. Watch funny movies and television shows. Call up an old friend and reminisce about crazy, embarrassing, or ridiculous past experiences you’ve laughed about together. Reading humorous memoirs will help you remember/recognize ways to see the humor in your life. Watch standup comedy¾live or on TV.
  4. Join a group and share new experiences with new people. Take an art class. (Paintnite https://www.paintnite.com/ offers a night out in a restaurant or microbrewery combined with oil painting on canvas. Sierra Club can connect you with a hiking group. Try taking an improv class. The rule of improv is: Always say yes! Agree with what your improv partner has created, and go with the flow. You’re saying, “Yes, and…
  5. Do emotional check-ins. During the day, take a moment to observe your emotions, then describe them to yourself. This keeps you in touch with how you’re experiencing life. Use creative words for your feelings, that is, don’t use “good,” “great,” or “okay,” but be specific. This can be a fun word search, even if you’re feeling peeved or frustrated. Finding synonyms for annoyance and frustration can lead to sarcasm, then on to goofy hilarity.
  6. Crank up the volume on your favorite music! Jump up and dance to it. Lean back and luxuriate in it. If you’re driving, sing along with it, even at stoplights, and especially if you’re stuck in traffic. Don’t sweat the drivers around you, even if some stick-in-the-mud eyes you with disdain. You rock, so rock your commute! Fun is contagious, you might even spark a sing along in the next lane.
  7. Just before leaving the house, look in the mirror and tell yourself, “Dang, you’re cute!”
  8. Take a meditation class. Mindfulness meditation is easy, and it’s fun. The number one rule of mindfulness is, “Refrain from judging.” This is a cool way to open-up your mind to new attitudes and experiences, right?
  9. Do nothing. Yes, give yourself thirty minutes or an hour a day that is absolutely free and is only for you.
  10. Be kind to yourself and others. Forgive yourself and others. Give freely of your time or resources, to someone or something that serves the greater good. These are “feel good” acts.
  11. Take gratitude breaks during your day. Make a gratitude list on paper or in your head. Express gratitude to a co-worker, a neighbor, or a friend. Begin and end each day giving thanks.

A compelling speaker and storyteller, Marti MacGibbon delivers high-energy presentations and writes books on overcoming adversity, addiction and recovery, and inspiration, with humor and a genuine, down-to-earth style. She’s experienced critical situations that no human being should have to face. In the past, she hit rock bottom in every possible way as a hard-core drug addict, was homeless, and was trafficked to Tokyo and held prisoner by Japanese organized crime. Her story of triumph is testimony to the power of the human spirit. Marti lives her message. She reveals simple, effective strategies that anyone can use to get back on track, build resiliency, reduce stress, and cultivate a sense of humor.
Marti is a bestselling author, inspirational speaker, certified addiction treatment professional, Gorski certified relapse-prevention specialist, and member of the National Speakers Association. She’s been interviewed in Entrepreneur, Investor’s Business Daily, on ABC-TV, CBS-TV, and numerous radio shows. And she’s funny: Marti traveled all over the U.S. as a professional standup comic and performed at the Hollywood Improv and Comedy Store. She is founder, producer and host of Laff-aholics Comedy Benefit for Recovery, an annual charity fundraiser in Indianapolis featuring nationally headlining comedians. She also serves on the outreach committee of IPATH, Indiana Protection for Abused and Trafficked Humans Task Force.
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Each of Three Winners Gets a Signed Copy of the Book PLUS:

FIRST PRIZE:
$100 Spa Finder gift card + $25 Starbucks gift card + Moroccan oil sample collection
SECOND PRIZE:
Estee Lauder Limited Edition Gift Set + $25 Starbucks gift card
THIRD PRIZE:
$25 Starbucks gift card.
DECEMBER 12-21, 2018
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VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

12/12/18
Excerpt
12/12/18
Author Interview
12/13/18
Review
12/14/18
Playlist
12/14/18
Guest Post
12/15/18
Review
12/15/18
Excerpt
12/16/18
Review
12/17/18
Guest Post
12/17/18
Scrapbook Page
12/18/18
Review
12/19/18
Excerpt
12/19/18
Guest Post
12/20/18
Review
12/21/18
Review
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The Last Kingdom: My Review

The Last Kingdom is the first book in a series by Bernard Cornwell on the reign of Alfred the Great, A.D. 871-899. The title refers to the Kingdom of Wessex which was the last to holdout against the Danes after they raided and captured the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of Northumbria, Mercia, and East Anglia. The Danes sought to colonize what would eventually become England and replace its society with their own to include the worship of the pagan gods Odin and Thor.

 The story actually begins in 866 A.D. with the introduction of Uhtred of Bebbanburg who at age ten witnesses the death of his father at the hands of the Danes. The death will initiate a blood feud to regain his title and lands which in the course of time (Book One covers the next ten years) will see Uthred raised by the Danes but ultimately aligned with Alfred.

His allegiance will be tested repeatedly as he tries to reconcile his previous life and religious beliefs with the Viking warrior lifestyle and the promise of Valhalla.  It is a struggle of conscience between the piety of Christianity, belief in a loving God, and a place in heaven versus his predisposition toward the pagan gods, militarism, and the thrill of battle. Participation in Viking raids and fighting in a great shield wall earn prestige and status on earth while also promising an afterlife with endless merrymaking. The Church and priesthood, on the other hand, offer a life of quiet reflection and scholarly pursuits with the hope of saving one’s soul. 

Cornwell lets the reader know Uthred’s thoughts and inclinations by relating his tale from the perspective of an old man looking back on his life. The first person narrative combines humor and pathos to capture the significant historical events of the period, the people involved in them, and the savagery of the times. It also firmly establishes the series and subsequent books as must read experiences to know the outcome of Uthred’s story.

One final note, keeping up with the names of places will be a challenge to many readers. Refer to the listing of Anglo-Saxon place names at the beginning of the book for their spelling at the time of Alfred’s reign and their more modern versions. Similarly, character names and relationships can be confusing. Variations of the same name were common. As an example, “Ealdorman AEtheired, son of AEtheired, brother of AEthelwulf, father of AEtheired, and brother to another AEtheired who had been the father of AElswith who was married to Alfred.” Don’t let this dissuade you. It all sorts itself out, or will in the next ten books!

 

 

Covey Jencks: Guest Post

COVEY JENCKS
by
SHELTON L. WILLIAMS
Narrated by Kathy James
Genre: Mystery / Social Thriller
Publisher: Southern Owl Publications, LLC
Publication Date: February 10, 2018
Number of Pages: 229 pages
Audio Book Length: 6 hours, 38 minutesSCROLL DOWN FOR THE GIVEAWAY! 

Covey Jencks is a murder mystery with a social conscience. Set in West Texas with a cast of colorful and humorous characters, it follows a young lawyer from Washington, DC back to his hometown of Odessa, Texas. He wants and needs to solve a murder case from 1979 in 1993. The problem is that the Odessa Police Department has already found its man, and no one wants to re-visit the case of a black prostitute whose life was seemingly of no consequence to anyone. But Freddie Mae Johnson’s death matters to Covey, and eventually he discovers an old flame, JayJay Qualls, who also knew and loved Freddie. Together they undertake an investigation that uncovers not only the truth about Freddie but also the secrets of Odessa’s south side, Mexican gangs, a Boston mobster, and the fallacy of unexamined assumptions. Finding out who killed Freddie is one thing, but preventing their own demise is quite another! 
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PRAISE FOR COVEY JENCKS:
 
Williams seamlessly braids a murder mystery with a love story and a drama about the pervasiveness of racism in the South… The author’s prose is buoyantly eccentric, both insightful and self-effacingly humorous. And the clues Covey and JayJay track down are meted out to readers with impressive judiciousness: The author never prematurely surrenders so much information that the conclusion is rendered foregone while the tale’s swift pace prevents it from becoming tedious. An engrossing crime drama that’s both entertaining and provocative. — Kirkus Indie

 

GuestPost

BY SHELTON WILLIAMS

Covey Jencks has been with me a long time, but it took my grandchildren to bring him to life. Covey had been a character in a previous unpublished book, but I never forgot him. When my four grand kids started getting older, however, I told them “Deputy Dan Stories.” Deputy Dan was always as old as the child listening; he worked at his dad’s car wash; and he always solved a crime. After each case, Odessa’s sheriff awarded Deputy Dan a piece of wardrobe that made him more officially a crime solver: a cowboy hat, boots, a belt, and finally a star. The older they got, the more the stories related to current events. The confrontation at Charlottesville, VA., in 2017 prompted me to dust off Covey Jencks to help explain bias, why lives matter, and a bit of history. I thought that would be better than simply telling them: “It’s complicated.”

 

Shelton L. Williams (Shelly) is founder and president of the Osgood Center for International Studies in Washington, DC. He holds a PhD from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and he taught for nearly 40 years at Austin College in Sherman, Texas. He has served in the US Government on 4 occasions and he has written books and articles on nuclear proliferation. In 2004 he began a new career of writing books on crime and society. Those books are Washed in the Blood, Summer of 66, and now Covey Jencks. All firmly prove that he is still a Texan at heart.
My first part time job while I was in high school was announcing at the local radio station, and I had fun being “on the air” and using my sarcastic sense of humor.  I worked in the radio business for more than twenty years. My favorite pastimes are teaching figure skating, getting lost in a great book, and watching movies.  I narrate and produce audio books in my home studio, and I truly enjoy bringing an author’s characters to life with an audio book. I currently reside in Minnesota with my slightly overweight cat and two childlike golden retrievers.  
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VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
11/27/18
Review
11/27/18
Excerpt
11/28/18
Audio Review
11/29/18
Guest Post
11/29/18
Playlist
11/30/18
Audio Review
12/1/18
Author Interview
12/1/18
Character Interview
12/2/18
Review
12/2/18
Scrapbook Page
12/3/18
Review
12/4/18
Audio Review
12/5/18
Excerpt
12/6/18
Audio Review
12/6/18
Review
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A Grateful Heart

agriculture autumn background decoration
Photo by Toni Cuenca on Pexels.com

The Thanksgiving holidays and the recent Lone Star Book Blog Tour of Gratitude: The Art of Being Thankful by Vickie Phelps has me reflecting on the many blessings in my life and how I or anyone expresses one’s sincere gratitude.

It is not enough to say “thank you.” That expression is used daily, often without thought, as a polite response to something said or done on our behalf. It reflects civility and manners but no deep introspection. Sincere gratitude on the other hand requires effort. It is a conscious choice to acknowledge that every event, every person is a gift.

I sometimes struggle with my feelings over the loss of family and friends and the holidays only accentuate those emotions. It never gets easier to accept that there are empty chairs at the table. The premature loss of my two boys and my godson will always weigh heavily on my heart. Neither it is easy to reflect on dear friends and family members who succumbed to cancer while five years after my own diagnosis with the disease I am cancer free, nor to reconcile the combat loss of fellow brothers-in-arms while I somehow remained unscathed.

It would be easy to allow grief and acrimony to outweigh other considerations. However, while I’ve no doubt that in quieter moments I will shed a tear or two and ponder why everything occurred as it did, I thank God for every moment that I shared with each and every one of them. We can’t alter the past but we can choose to remember how blessed we are that our lives were forever impacted not only by events but by every person with whom they were shared.

Tomorrow is the appointed calendar date for public acknowledgement and celebration of divine goodness. Yet, because we live in an increasingly secular world where the presence of God in our lives is diminished, questioned, ridiculed, or rejected outright, the holiday observance too often consists of little more than watching parades and sports on television and consuming the Thanksgiving meal without a moment of silence or prayer wherein we acknowledge the many blessings given to each of us.

As you gather with friends and family consider your own circumstance and pause long enough in your celebrations to sincerely express your gratitude with a thankful heart.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Gratitude: The Art of Being Thankful – Guest Post

GRATITUDE:
THE ART OF BEING THANKFUL
by
Vickie Phelps
Genre: Non-Fiction / Inspirational / Devotional
Publisher: Inspire Books
Date of Publication: July 11, 2017
Number of Pages: 92, 4.5″ x 6″
 
Scroll down for Giveaway!
This ninety-two-page gift book is a compilation of devotions, poems, prayers, and lists of things to be grateful for. The difference between having what you want and having what you need is a principle some people never grasp. In the reading of this book, you may realize you have much more to be grateful for than you were aware of.  Use this little book as a daily devotional or pick it up at random times to remind yourself that you are a blessed individual.


PRAISE FOR GRATITUDE: THE ART
OF BEING THANKFUL:
This little gem of a book arrived before we left on vacation, so I took it along. It became our shared devotional and ‘thought for the day’ outlook…and colored our time away with gratitude. This unique discovery is one to treasure.” – 5 Star Review, Amazon verified purchase 

 

GuestPost

Guest Post by Vickie Phelps

For the past year and a half, I’ve been putting together a little gift book on the subject of gratitude. It’s a compilation of devotions, prayers, scripture, quotes, and lists of things to be thankful for. Before you think that I did this to teach you something, or because I think people aren’t thankful for what they have, let me assure you that I did this for myself as much or more than I did it for anyone else. I wanted to think about all the things I have to be thankful for. I wanted to remind myself of what I have. I wanted to jot down verses and quotes that I could whisper to myself in the middle of the night or when bad times come. I wanted to list those things that I sometimes take for granted and open this little book once in a while to refresh my memory.

For many years, we have lived in a country that has been prosperous and blessed. But I think we forget just how much we do have. It’s only when we experience some kind of loss or someone close to us does that we tend to think about our blessings. Often we think of blessings as big things, but sometimes it’s the little things that make us stop and think. Like the time a tornado swept through our town and left a lot of people without electricity. Suddenly, we couldn’t brew a cup of coffee, use our hair dryer, or turn on a light. If you’re a coffee drinker, like I am, you were fretting the next morning after the storm because you didn’t have that cup of coffee to start the day. You either had to do without it, drive to a restaurant or fast food place that still had power, or maybe hook up a generator for a limited power supply. And then Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc on the Texas coast, and we watched those people suffer great loss. And it wasn’t just our state or country, but all over the world, people were losing their homes and sometimes family members as a result of storms or some other tragedy.

All of these situations made me take a second look at how blessed I am, and I wanted a record of it. I wanted to write down my thoughts about these blessings and what I had to be thankful for. And I wanted to share those thoughts with others. The result is a little 92-page book titled, “Gratitude: The Art of Being Thankful.” I hope it will bless you and maybe you will make your own list of what you have to be thankful for.

Vickie Phelps writes to encourage, inspire, and influence. She has published 200 articles, devotionals, and essays in more than fifty magazines and contributed to several anthologies. Vickie is the author of the novels, Postmark From the Past,Moved, Left No Address, Waiting for Joy, and a devotional book, Psalms for the Common Man. Vickie is co-author with Jo Huddleston of the gift book, Simply Christmas, and Writing 101: A Handbook of Tips & Encouragement for Writers. 
 
 
 
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2nd Prize: Signed Copy of The Art of Being Thankful+ $5 Amazon Gift Card + Postmark from the Past & Waiting for Joy (holiday theme pack)
3rd Prize:  Signed Copy of The Art of Being Thankful

(US ONLY)
NOVEMBER 7-16, 2018

CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

11/7/18
Author Interview
11/8/18
Review
11/9/18
Review
11/10/18
Excerpt
11/11/18
BONUS Review
11/12/18
Review
11/13/18
Guest Post
11/13/18
BONUS Review
11/14/18
Notable Quotable
11/15/18
Review
11/16/18
Review



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Veterans Day

Military LogosDuty, Honor, Country is not a mere slogan to the men and women who wear the uniform. It is the creed by which they live.

The oath of enlistment or oath of office for commissioned officers states “I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.” These are not mere words either, but a promise to serve and protect the country and its citizens in peacetime and war.

Sunday, November 11th is Veterans Day; the national holiday will be observed on Monday. It will be a day in which the President of the United States places a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery, usually followed by speeches from various dignitaries honoring the men and women (past and present) from all branches of the military. All around the country schools and organizations will celebrate by flying the American flag, singing the National Anthem and renewing the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag. And in just about every American city people will observe of the holiday with parades, barbeques and Veterans Day sales.

In quieter moments those that truly understand the commitment and sacrifice required of military families and service members will reflect on loved ones currently deployed in hot spots around the world and those who have died fighting for their country. In many instances the thoughts of aging veterans like me will be of brothers and sisters in arms with whom we had the privilege to serve. These were individuals we trusted to always have our backs and whom we stood beside in good times and bad. Because time erases memories the names and faces of everyone we knew may have faded, but we remember time and place and circumstance and long to rekindle those bonds. I served twenty-four years in the US Army (1973-1997) in assignments that spanned the globe. In each of those postings I was thankful for the men and women, enlisted and officer, who served alongside me. Some became lifelong friends, many I lost track of, while others  succumbed to the passage of time or never made it home.

To each and everyone of you… a heartfelt Thank You.