21 February 2015

Privacy Freedome Challenge - Be Invisible Online (And Win an iPad Mini)

Have you declared your freedome yet? Today, I want to challenge YOU to declaring your freedome online. Why am I spelling "freedom" that way? It's because it's the new app by F-Secure called the Freedome App. You can download it today and receive a 90-day free trial.

So far since downloading the app, I've seen so many things protected and it's been such a safe feeling. I can't wait for the next time I'm using public Wi-Fi, I will not have to worry about my online security. Best of all, you don't have to worry about removing your existing security software. It runs right along side it.

Here's how you can get Freedome for 90 days free (and I know you'll be convinced to purchase it!). Just follow this link to download it and once installed, use the code:  qsf257.

Best of all, I am SO excited to announce that I get to giveaway an iPad Mini (16 GB Wifi) PLUS one year of Freedome.

Just use the Rafflecopter below and the giveaway ends on 2/27.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Have you declared your Freedome yet?

I received compensation for my work with F-Secure. All opinions are my own.

17 February 2015

Book Spotlight: ITGIRL4LIFE by Tamara Branch (Plus Win an iTunes Gift Card!)

I love to talk about books that inspire! Sometimes inspirational and motivational books though tend to be a little...longwinded, complicated, and not simplified to my own life. So when I had the chance to do a book spotlight on ITGIRL4LIFE by Tamara Branch and I read over what the book was about and what you can expect in the book, I knew everyone would love to hear about it.

About the Book

Writer, artist and speaker, Tamara Branch serves up 40 bite-sized chapters on how to build unshakable self-confidence, honor your life, and shine bright in the world, in ITGIRL4LIFE: How to bring out your special something and so much more. Packed with sage advice, life-changing insights and affirmations to help you soar, ITGIRL4LIFE offers ideas, tools and principles that you can reference and build upon, supporting you in becoming your best. Get ready to fall in love with your own wisdom, beauty and strength.

Whether you want to inspire yourself, or another lady in your life, this is a book that I think you should check out.

About the Author

"I believe in the power, beauty, strength and amazing potential of girls. I believe girls deserve to feel extraordinary. I believe that when girls shine their light, they are unstoppable!"
- ITGIRL4LIFE by Tamara Branch

Tamara Branch is from New York, born and raised in the Bronx. She is thrilled to share her first book release, ITGIRL4LIFE, kicking off the ITGIRL4LIFE self-esteem movement to empower girls to stand up, stand out and shine bright in the world.

Tamara has worked as a professional model and actor for almost two decades. She strutted down the runway for designers Calvin Klein, Donna Karen and Christian Dior, acted in a few independent films, co-hosted PBS New York’s education series, “What’s up in Technology” and appeared T.V. commercials and print ads for Levi’s, Old Navy, Hershey’s, Colgate, Kellogg’s Special K, Revlon, Hanes, Nike and many others. A Penn State alumnus and lifelong student of personal development, Tamara is deeply passionate about uplifting the human spirit.

After graduating from Institute for Integrative Nutrition, studying under Deepak Chopra, Dr. Andrew Weil and some of the top health and wellness experts in the world, she was inspired to raise the bar on her own ‘self care’ and support others in living more vibrantly. She is an abstract artist and teaches a dynamic dance class, where she gets to fuse her varied background, having trained in everything from jazz, ballet and modern to Afro-Caribbean and Salsa.

Tamara was recently asked to become a Female Visionary Author guest blogger for The Brave Heart Women Global Community.  She's a SAG/AFTRA member since 1998, a member of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and is represented by Abrams Artists Agency.

To find out more about Tamara Branch, visit her website, follow her on Twitter. find out more about Tamara at Goodreads and you can also read her blog.

Last not but not least, here's an excerpt I think you would enjoy:

YOU have IT. IT is the GREATNESS you were born with. IT is that unique special something that is all yours. Nothing and nobody can take IT away from you. IT is not something that you have one day and lose the next. IT is not fleeting. IT is not temporary. IT does not depend on the judgment or approval of others. IT is here to stay. Your job is to tap into IT. Your ITGIRL4LIFE adventure starts NOW. It’s about loving yourself, being authentic, taking charge and making a difference. You will need a great attitude, an open mind, the desire to grow and expand, the courage to create the life you want and the willingness to be your best self.
Are you ready? Your special something and so much more is right this way.

Doesn't that sound inspiring?? I know it does. I'm glad you stopped by because I'm also excited to bring you a $25.00 iTunes Gift Card giveaway. All you have to do is enter via Rafflecopter below.

If you are as excited as I am about this book, make sure you check out where you can purchase it:

ITGIRL4LIFE is available at Amazon.
Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.

Plus, you can discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

15 February 2015

How A VPN Can Protect Your Online Activity

I remember once when I was a mentor in college, a student told me, "Do you know how easy it is to hack into a computer that's using public Wi-Fi?" It's true too. Take a look at this article written by the Daily Mail showing you exactly how easy it is to hack into public Wi-Fi settings.

Or just check out this video here:

Well, these days I think internet security and protection is becoming more and more of a concern for people. I ran right into that problem over the weekend as I was looking online for a software I wanted to download onto my new tablet (I had used this software before on another computer). Well, I downloaded a link to what I assumed was that software and ended up downloading a virus. I eventually had to completely reinstall my system.

And it isn't just malicious software we have to worry about. With how much of our information is online, you want to take caution against what people see and how they can track you. That's why I was so excited to partner up with F-Secure and tell you about their newest software the Freedome app (compatible with most devices).

I downloaded this software to my tablet and I have been keeping an the program ever since I had it installed. You will not believe the type of malicious websites and [what else did you see it protecting] that it protected me from. Just take a look here:

You can use this software in addition to you're virus protection. It's that added layer protection that you need while you are online. It's privacy in addition to security. You can basically be invisible online and that's SO important for your protection.

First of all, downloading the program is EXTREMELY easy. It's just a few seconds. Next, it starts tracking immediately - you can turn it off and on as easy as you want. It also doesn't interfere with your regular security software.

This is such an important software to add to your devices. And I want to encourage everyone reading this to take a moment to download a 90 day trial and give it a try. You will be extremely impressed with what you find.

Simply follow this link here  and use the code qsf257 for your 90 day free trial.

What steps do you take to protect your identity online?

I received compensation for my posts. My opinions are my own.

12 February 2015

10 Book Titles That Would Make Hilariously Terrible Valentine Candy Hearts

I was perusing my GoodReads "to read" list and I spotted a couple of titles that I thought would make hilariously terrible Valentine's Day Candy Hearts. Since Valentine's Day is just around the corner, I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to compile the ten best bad candy heart book titles I found (plus one bonus one) in honor of the day. I want to preface this blog post by saying that all of the books I've collected actually have received excellent reviews. So the books themselves aren't bad, just their titles would just make terrible candy hearts.

1) I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You

Nothing like bragging about how awesome things are now that you are away from a person to give you the warm and fuzzies inside. This just screams Valentine's Day to me, doesn't it you? 

I actually read this book and it's extremely quirk and funny. However, the title as a candy heart could be pretty fitting for quite a lot of people. Maybe not a Valentine's Day love note, but more of a "hey, just admit it" kind of note.

3) Do You Remember Me Now?

This candy heart would just scream one night stand and you accidentally run into the person later on. Maybe that person turns out to be a coworker, employer, or someone that you are now forced to interact with on a regular basis. A-wk-ward.

This book title as a candy heart kind of screams an affair, doesn't it? If not an affair, it could also mean a bizarre and strange secret that you really hope doesn't get out in public. Or at least not out on Facebook.

I think this candy heart book title explains itself. 

I'm pretty sure there's a ton of people out there that would appreciate this candy heart.

It screams like something humiliating and horrible happened, doesn't it? Nothing like asking someone to forget about it for it to remain blazed in their memory.

Selfishness isn't romantic at all, and this would be such a terribly funny candy heart. You know, just a fresh little reminder, right?

So although this is a serious issue that's being talked about in the book, you have to admit, seeing this on a candy heart would be funny.

Doesn't this sound like a romantic Valentine's Day ahead of you if you got this candy heart?

I know there's so many self-help books that have titles that could make this list and I couldn't help but at least grab one. Nothing like someone telling you you're out of shape and messy to set the mood on Valentine's Day.

What book title would make an excellent terrible Valentine's candy heart? 

07 February 2015

Wintergarden by T.M. Wallace - Twitter Party Announcement! Register Now!

I am so excited to announce that I will be hosting a Twitter Party for author T.M. Wallace and her new book Wintergarden. The Twitter Party will be on March 21st at 8 pm EST (5 pm PST) and will last for one hour.

You must participate in order to receive prizes. Find out more about T.M. Wallace's book by visiting the GoodRead page here. It's an incredible tale about good versus evil and the magical world of fairies.

Register using the form below and the person with the most referrals receives a $25.00 Amazon Gift Card! Click to promote the Twitter party (and gain referrals!) by clicking this link:

Tweet: Join me on March 21st at 8pm EST (5pm PST) to celebrate the launch of @TMWallace1 new book #Wintergarden. RSVP here http://ctt.ec/adDau+

If you can't bring up the form, simply follow this link to RSVP. I can't wait to see you there!

Disclaimer: I have been compensated to host this Twitter party

04 February 2015

Protecting Your Web Domain [Guest Post]

When it comes to keeping your domain protection current, you ought to know well beforehand that this is a measure of the utmost importance. There are many reasons why you need to keep your domain well established and well protected. But if you're in any doubt about the importance of domain protection, this post ought to set you straight on the matter.

You Don't Want To Lose Your Place Or Your Face

Your domain is the place that you do business from. It's the place where thousands, or very possibly millions, of people visit you for the first time to make your acquaintance. Think about that for a moment. No matter how many people you meet in your life, you will very likely never shake hands and exchange pleasantries with a million people in person. But untold millions of people will visit your website over the course of your business career.

So, unless you've retired or sold off your business to others, it's vitally important that these millions of potential customers have a place to meet you - or, more precisely, your business, your goods, and your services. Considering that there are, indeed, millions of people who are searching the Internet every single day in search of a business that provides goods and services akin to yours, it's a tragic day for your wallet if your domain has expired and your website is "off the air".

Loss Of Domain = Loss Of Revenue

And this is where the crunch comes in. To put it quite frankly, loss of your domain = instant loss of revenue. Even if your website has only been up for a year and you've done the majority of your business at your "brick and mortar" location, the fact remains that your website has accounted for a sizable portion of your revenue.

You may not realize this, but a large percentage of your customers have found your business in the first place by surfing the Internet. Even if the majority of these customers have preferred to purchase from you at your physical location, a great many of these people have first perused your site to make sure that you have the goods and services that they're searching for.

These are only a few of the many, many reasons why you need domain expiration protection. If you don't have a plan in place, now is the time to get up to speed.

This is a sponsored guest post.

31 January 2015

5 Things I Tell Myself After a Negative Story Critique

I also contemplated rewriting this blog post title to, "How I Put My Writer's Ego Back Together."

Last year may have been the process of first drafts, but this year is the process of revising and rewriting. I have disciplined myself to not fill in blank notebook pages with illegible scribbles of a brand new story idea, but rather, I've decided to poor over the illegible handwritings of finished stories and turn them into typed, publishable pieces.

This means I'm also in the process of seeking critiques and submitting (while understanding these critiques and trying to weed out what I will and won't listen to). It isn't easy. In a way, I want to be told that what I've written is brilliant and the best thing ever, but that isn't the case for most of us after a first draft.

So when I read over the comments of others who make suggestions (and worse, read over the negative critiques and harsh jabs) at what I've written, there are a few things I have to tell my fragile writer's ego in order to back to the drawing board and make it possible for me to go through the process again (and again and again).

1) This is what you've signed up for.

While being told my story is amazing is fantastic for my ego, it's not what will help my story. As a writer, we're subject to criticism and what we've written isn't perfect (even after it's been published). So, when you're trying to get to that stage and you've actually asked people what they think and for feedback, you will more than likely be told about things they didn't like. I tell myself it's what I signed up for - I'm not asking people to just tell me it's good. I'm asking people to tell me how to improve it (aka tell me what wasn't good).

2)  Every draft - every rewrite - is better than the last one.

Each new draft of a story I create is better than the last one. Every plot line I tighten, character dialogue I sharpen, and setting I make more real takes my story that much closer to publishable work. It's better than the handwritten story it was when I first wrote it out - and it's better than the freshly typed draft I hadn't looked over yet - and the next one will be even better.

3) You don't have to listen to every single critique.

I've learned the best thing I can do when assessing critiques is to figure out the common thread. Best of all, what's a personal weakness in my stories overall  that I need to work on? What's a regular thing in my stories that I'm told I need to work on? If I can figure it out - whether it's better dialogue that's needed, stronger characterization, or vivid settings - I can approach my next first draft with even stronger writing skills. But I don't think you have to change your story based on every suggestion you get. Otherwise you run the risk of turning it into a franken-story.

4) You are a good writer.

I think everyone needs to tell themselves this and I think that needs to be part of a daily mantra. For me it's one of those repetitive things I tell myself when I need to hear it the most. A good writer isn't just defined how much stories he or she has had published (although that's definitely a good way to figure it out). A good writer is someone who keeps going back after falling off that horse. A good writer is someone always looking to improve, submit, rewrite, write, edit, and everything else that goes into the writing process.

5) Go and visit LiteraryRejections.com to feel better. Or read this post by blogger and author Chuck Wendig. Or heck, just google "famous published author rejections."

What do you tell yourself after you've received a lot of story critiques (especially those are that are not all that kind)?

22 January 2015

Enter to win Pereg Gourmet Foods! [Ends 1/25]

I recently had the chance to try out Pereg Gourmet Gluten Free Noodles as well as their Black Beans and Chili Beans. Come by and check out my review. Make sure you visit Pereg Gourmet's website to find out more information.

I am also giving away Pereg Gourmet Black Beans as well as a package of their Gluten Free Quinoa Noodles.

Enter via Rafflecopter below. Giveaway ends 1/25.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

12 January 2015

10 Sites to Visit If You Are Stumped for Blog Ideas

Although many of my blogging peeps would tell me only to blog when you are inspired, I thought about those times when you want to blog despite the lack of something to say. For those times, I made a list of sites that can inspire you to rev up those blogging engines and help you get some words out to the blog-u-verse.

1) StumbleUpon

A nearly forgotten realm of the internet, StumbleUpon features content after content of people who DID know what to say and said it well. Sometimes this can make me feel even more blocked, but sometimes on the rare occasion it will help me figure out something to say on my blog.

For example, I wouldn't have thought of this post if it hadn't been for going to StumbleUpon.

2) PsychologyToday.com

What is blogging but an expression of what goes on inside of our heads and our lives? I have found many blog post inspirations after reading articles on this site and I'm sure there are questions you can discover here that can only be answered via blog post.

3) Your Old Blog Posts

Remember that post you wrote three years ago about amazing apps you could use for social networking, blogging, or creative writing? The wonderful thing about technology is that what was popular three years ago is more than likely obsolete or vastly changed by now.

So brush off that old post about your favorite pieces of old school tech and rewrite it about your must-have new school tech. A lot can change in even just a year, including habits and lifestyles, so don't be afraid to write about them again too.

4) Read Other Blogs

If I'm uninspired on my own blog, I'll often check out the blogs of my fellow writers and see what they have to say. Sometimes another person's post will strike a chord so hard that I'll have to branch off their comment page and talk about my opinion on my blog.

5) See What's Trending

I think the two places that are the best to check for what's trending is Google Trends and Twitter Trends. For me, I'm most active on Twitter and it just makes sense that I would check there first. And with Google, well you're most likely to catch wind of what people are searching at any given moment and that really matters if you want to come up in their search results.

Figuring out what's trending can help inspire you to either talk about that subject or at least do a spin off post.

6) Take Advantage of Your "Media Collecting" Sites

If you are even a LITTLE active on sites like IMDB (Internet Movie Database), Goodreads, YouTube, or any other sites where you have a history of what you've read, watched, looked at, etc. you can easily use these sites to give you content to talk about. Heck, if you can't think of what to say, just write a review about the last book you've read or movie you've watched.

7) Visit AskReddit and Answer The Question On Your Blog.

I am a huge fan of reddit and there's all KINDS of places that give you inspiration for content. I highly recommend out of all of the forums on the website that you visit the Ask Reddit forum. You don't even need to log into the site to get inspired. From best tear-jerker video game endings to five words that can ruin a date, you are bound to figure out something to say to the world if you wander to this site for even a few minutes.

8) Visit the blog The Daily Post.

There's probably more of them out there, but this is one I keep my eye on regularly. They have a daily prompt and after you create your post you can share yours with the masses (and read what everyone else had to say). By visiting this site, you never will lack for content.

9) Visit OneMinuteWriter.com

This is another one of those sites that offer up writing prompts. It's a little bit exclusive to the "writing about writing" crowd, but it isn't ENTIRELY about the writing process, so if you don't consider yourself a creative writing writer, but definitely a blogger, I highly recommend it.

10). Utilize Pinterest

I put Pinterest last because I think it can distract more than it can inspire, but whether or not you have an account, I recommend you check out these blogging prompt pins people have already found for us! Just visit this link and click on the pins to gain access to the prompts and voila! You have yourself some blog-spiration.

What inspires your blog posts if you don't know what to write?

04 January 2015

My Top 5 Books of 2014 #AmReading

I hope it isn't too late for a "favorite books of 2014" post! But this past year, I've read a lot of great books, and some had been sitting in my "to be read" list for quite some time. In reality, I've never been great at tracking what I've read, and for the most part, my attempt at tracking what I want to read isn't any better. But I finally accepted Goodreads into my life and it's helped me (when I can remember) to keep track of what I want to read and what I've already read.

So far I've really gotten into series', and I've found a lot that are very good. So the first one on my list, is a book called, "The Compound" by S.A. Bodeen.

The Compound by S.A. Bodeen
It's about Eli, a teen living with his family in an underground compound after managing to avoid an attack and possible world destruction. For six years now they've been living underground, assuming the worst about some of their loved ones still on the outside. But things start to fall apart and everything is not as they seem. And Eli's father won't let them out or tell them what's going on.

Adults are definitely allowed to read Young Adult fiction, so for all you grown ups out there afraid to embrace your love of YA, don't be afraid, you are not alone. I love these books too!

I highly recommend this book and definitely think you should add this to your reading list this year. Visit Goodreads and this to your list or visit Amazon.com and purchase a copy.

You will probably notice that I've really gotten into science fiction this past year, because my next favorite book of 2014 is science fiction novel "American Elsewhere" by Robert Jackson Bennett.

American Elsewhere
It's about a woman Mona Bright who inherits a home left to her by her estranged father who just passed away. The home she inherited is in the middle of nowhere in a town called Wink. Yet, there's more to Wink that meets the eye and the neighbors and townspeople are beginning to seem more strange than normal as each day goes on. There are mysteries to uncover and secrets that happen only when it's dark.

I swear this book ushered me into the realm of science fiction. It's an intense book filled with aliens and dark places found beyond our universe. It doesn't start out overly complicated and without giving anything away I absolutely loved the ending.

So I really think you should add this to your reading list. Visit Goodreads and this to your list or visit Amazon.com and purchase your own copy.

Okay, the next book is a young adult apocalyptic novel with a dash of aliens mixed in there too (I told you I was way into science fiction in 2014!). It's called "The 5th Wave" by Rick Yancey. I've only read book one and I'm determined to get my hands on book two soon.

The 5th Wave
It's about a "wave" of attacks on the human race meant to destroy every trace of humanity left on Earth. Cassie and her family are in a fight to survive. When the 5th wave hits, Cassie realizes that she can't trust anyone but herself and her own instincts. Until she meets Evan Walker and she begins to wonder if she's met someone she can finally trust. Soon it becomes about more than just her own survival - it's becomes about survival of humanity.

This book was so exciting and I absolutely can't wait to read the second one. Ever since I got into the Unwind series by Neil Shusterman I've been dying to find a replacement (the Unwind series will reach it's end with the final book soon to come out!). This may just be the series that competes with that one.

Add this to Goodreads or purchase your copy.

Okay, for my next book, I'm going to move away from science fiction a bit, and tell you about an author I've discovered this year named Susan Hill! She's author of the book "The Woman in Black" (and yes, the book is better) as well as many other spooky gothic stories. These books are actually perfect to read during a foggy, cold, gray January so if you are looking for something to set the mood I highly recommend picking up a few copies of her books (any of them).

If I was to recommend one in particular I would say read 'The Man in the Picture." It's about a Venetian painting and the demons it hides. An old professor tells its tale to a former student and soon the curse of what lies within the painting finds more victims. It's a very quick read, but it leaves you feeling chilly and frightened.

Add this book to Goodreads (as well as ANY of her other gothic horror novels) or purchase your copy.

Last but not least, something completely opposite of any of these books is a book I found early in 2014 and I have yet to spot the second in the series in the library. It's an adorable, breezy summer read that you'll want to pick up the next time you want to go to the beach (when the weather isn't so awful). It's called "Seaside Harmony, Postcards from Misty Harbor Inn" by Evangeline Kelley.

Seaside Harmony
It's about these three sisters who visit the coast following the death of their late mother. They stumble across an abandoned inn and soon Caroline talks her sisters into purchasing the inn and breathing it back into life. I am a sucker for this type of novel because it's always one of those daydreams of mine to own an inn or a little bookstore or something on the coast. I get to live through these three characters as they revive the inn and uncover the mysteries of the past.

Make sure to add this to your reading list on Goodreads or purchase it on Amazon.

That's my brief recap of my favorite reads of 2014! Soon I'll be following with my must-reads for 2015.

What were your favorite books of 2014? Any recommendations you can give me? 
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