15 September 2014

Are You Open to the Power of Your Heart? #PoweroftheHeart [Book Review Pt 1]

I recently received the book "Power of the Heart" by Baptist De Pape, which features content from the amazing spiritual leaders of our time. Featuring advice and reflection from Maya Angelou, Deepak Chopra, Jane Goodall, and so many more, this book will lead you back to the core, back to the heart of things, of who you are.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be writing posts and reflections about the book and my own discoveries and insight while reading this book. I highly recommend you pre-order your copy, which you can do by visiting this link here.

One of the exercises in the book is called, "CONTEMPLATION: Walking in Silence."

The exercise instructs you to take a walk somewhere, around your neighborhood or a nearby park, in order to quiet your mind and listen to your "heart's voice." 

Once you are ready, you ask your heart,  "What do you want me to know?"

As a writer, this type of contemplation is so important to the writing process. I find when I'm blocked or if I'm trying to figure out a direction for a character or I'm trying to understand meaning of a poem I've written, so I can revise better, allowing my own brain to shut down and searching my heart for a direction can be so enlightening. For me, this is most especially important with poetry as this writing carries an understanding that I can only truly know by connecting with my heart and find out what it knows. 

One quote by Deepak Chopra from the book stood out to me -

"It's an old Indian story that God wanted to hide the truth and said, 'I want to make it interesting for people and the one place I want to put it in is their hearts, because they look everywhere else, only to discover later that the truth is in their hearts.'"

I'm only on page 50 and can't wait to share with you more about what I am reading. So far, I love the insights that Deepak Chopra gives throughout the book. 

To pre-order your copy visit the book's website PoweroftheHeart.com. Make sure to follow the book's Twitter page and like the book's Facebook page as well.

This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks and the Power of the Heart. 

Anyone Else Tired of Changing (And Remembering) Their Password?

With all of the hacking going on, whether it's online banking, emails, or social networking sites, the passwords we select are becoming more and more important. We all know that we shouldn't select "password" as our password, but as creative as I think I am, it's getting harder and harder to think of something unique for every new account I have to create (or for every time that I have to go in and change my password).

I'm partnering up with F-Secure to bring you a new app (as well as free software you can download to your computer) that will help all of us with problem.

The benefits I'm already finding by downloading this software -

1) Easy download.

This took me less than a couple of minutes to download and it didn't overwhelm my computer. I know the last thing you need is any additional security software, but I promise you this won't interfere with a thing and it will be a seamless process.

2) Easy to add password information.

I downloaded the PC version and I thought it was really simple to use. That is one key factor into getting me into using software like this - if it's easy to figure out, I'm more than likely to stay with it.

3) News alerts.

There are news alerts featured in the software that give you a head's up every time there is (yet another) data vulnerability, hacking alert, or anything that may put your information at risk.

4) Password generator.

I think this is the best feature of all - the password generator. I think this is the most important feature on the software - not only will it be easy to figure out what these passwords are (thanks to this software safely storing your information), you now can easily get secure passwords that aren't easily hacked. No more "password" passwords any longer! We can do so much better than that people.

This is just the beginning of course - there are so many more features to find with this software! You can download this for free too. There is a paid version and the benefit is that you can sync across devices (so, download to your PC and smartphone and you can sync up the passwords you have saved).

For me, I usually scribble down passwords into a notebook and this app is a lot better for me to use. I also don't have to worry about what will happen if I lose my notebook. Plus this is a lot safer than just asking Google Chrome to remember passwords for you.

So join me in this venture to get ourselves more secure online, download the F-Secure KEY app or software, by visiting this link. For more information about F-Secure, I highly recommend checking out this particular link that discusses their safety and how your information is secure.

Best of all, you get to try out the PREMIUM version for two months - free. Just use the code and follow the instructions below -


Redeem code:
Download KEY on Android/iOS
Android: Go to Menu-Help- Enter PREMIUM VOUCHER
iOS: Help Menu- Promotional Code
*After redeeming offer on mobile device PREMIUM works on PC/Mac as well

Has your account information ever been hacked into? Do you have any tips or tricks into thinking up new passwords? 

Download F-Secure Key.

This is a sponsored post for which I will receive compensation. All opinions expressed in this post are my own.

13 September 2014

Enter to Win Mrs. Renfro's Salsa!

If you are in the mood for great tasting salsa made of excellent ingredients, check out my review of Mrs. Renfro's Salsa over at Fancy That!.

Or if you just want to take the moment to enter to win, use the Rafflecopter widget below! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

04 September 2014

13 Literary Characters I'd Like to See on 'Dancing With the Stars'

We all know that the purpose of Dancing With the Stars is to turn around the career of a once-was celebrity or improve the career of a D-list celebrity. This means that you will have stars such as Sara Evans (a country singer I loved as a teenager, but never hear about anymore), Jerry Springer (think D-list), Joey Fatone (former boy band member), Rob Kardashian (D-lister),  and Melissa Gilbert (I used to love watching Touched by an Angel and Little House on the Prairie).

To be honest I don't think I've watched an entire season of this show, except I may have caught a few episodes at the gym, circa Kirstie Alley season. So, this made me think about the literary characters I'd like to see on Dancing With the Stars. I thought I would only choose five characters, but found out that Dancing with the Stars chooses 13 celebrities on their show. I figured it was only right I choose 13. So, ladies and gentleman, this is my dream cast of thirteen for our Literary Dancing With the Stars:

1) The Woman in Black

I chose this character because there is a Woman in Black 2 movie coming out soon and I figured what better way to improve the status of this character by casting her in a glitsy glammy television show! Although this may be troublesome for any of the kiddos watching.

2) Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice.

I prefer the Colin Firth version of Mr. Darcy.

I really think putting this out-of-the-spotlight character into Dancing With the Stars may be the best thing to happen for faux literary television.  I wasn't a huge fan of this particular book, but I think I may find a new interest in Mr. Darcy if I could see him doing the tango.

3) Nurse from Romeo and Juliet

In Romeo and Juliet, the Nurse always seemed to cast a joyful light into the scenes, and I enjoyed it every time she appeared. Plus with the Woman in Black dancing around it may be a good idea to have someone with medical skills on hand.

4) Ford Prefect from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

If you haven't read this book, you must. I still keep meaning to read the second one. I think we need a bit of new blood into our Dancing With the Stars cast members and Ford Prefect, the hitchhiking alien from the book, would make a perfect (or prefect, hehe) addition.

5) Matilda 

I'm thinking we all need to see what this young, vibrant character is doing these days! So let's bring her back and have her work her magic on this literary season of Dancing With the Stars! Plus this is for nostalgic purposes as this was a book I read as a kid and I loved it!

6) Nancy Drew

I chose the book cover because I didn't like the actress who played her in the movie.

Just in case The Woman in Black goes after Matilda, I think Nancy Drew needs to be on the case and ready to investigate the mysterious happenings that could go on. Plus, I want to know if the girl can dance.

7) Allie from The Notebook

Casting Allie from The Notebook may be a fantastic idea, especially because I think that I could totally see her going for Mr. Darcy (hey, this is my daydream and if I want to see her and Mr. Darcy as a couple I can). Plus she's from that whole era of knowing all those fancy formal dance steps. She'd totally kick butt!

8) Aragorn from Lord of the Rings

I have a long running crush on this character, and if it was entirely up to me, I would have him fall in love with me while I was hanging out on the set of this literary Dancing With the Stars. Move over Elven queen, he's my man.

9) Carrie

Granted this may be an unfair casting choice, considering her ability to move things with her mind, but wouldn't that make this entire show that much more fun?

10) Hannibal Lecter

Another potentially bad choice, and what more awkward dance moves to see but with a guy that needs a mouth cage, but we all want to see what he can cook up on the dance floor, right?

11) Anne of Green Gables

Another childhood revival! Let's bring her career back to life and see what else this spunky redhead can do!

12)  Pennywise the Dancing Clown from It

I mean we don't want just ONE redhead on the set, right? Plus, Hannibal Lecter needs a friend and kindred terrifying spirit. I don't want anyone feeling left out.

13) Rosemary's Baby

No, the actual baby. I mean, I'm sure the little one has grown up by now. Wouldn't it be charming to see him dance?

14) Oliver Twist

It's time for our childhood's favorite literary orphan to show off his footwork! Cast the older version of this character and see what quick footwork he can come up with - possibly that quick footwork might be him running in fear because these casting choices are turning a bit weird, right?

15) Mary Poppins

I think Mary Poppins would round out this cast nicely. Plus, she's a nice contrast to The Woman in Black and she'll probably be able to keep It and Hannibal Lecter in line.

That's my star cast! Which literary character would you like to see on Dancing With the Stars?

29 August 2014

Uncorked Ventures - Luxury Wine Club and Gifts! #Wine

Check out my review of Uncorked Ventures, an amazing wine subscription and luxury gift company with an amazing blog filled with vivid descriptions of their wine adventures!


28 August 2014

5 Things That Make me Re-Read a Book (And One Bonus Reason!) #AmReading

I'm re-reading a book right now for the third (yes, third) time. It's called "And Then We Came to the End" by Joshua Ferris. The main reason for the third round of reading is because I haven't stopped at the library for a new batch and want something - ANYTHING - to read.

There's more to it than that though. I have an overflowing bookshelf filled with books that I've read and some I probably haven't. So why this book? It made me wonder the reasons behind why I choose certain books to read twice (even three times) and others I don't ever crack open the spine to bother with again.

Mind you, this is a rarity itself. I almost never re-read a book.

So here's my top five reasons why I will re-read a book (with one bonus reason thrown in there too) -

1) I love the characters.

This is the reason I'm re-reading 'And Then We Came to the End.' I love the characters in this book so much that reading this book makes them come alive for me all over again. Their lovable and hate-able all at the same time. For that reason, I will probably read this book a fourth time in the future.

So if a book has vivid, memorable characters, I will more than likely return and revisit them again. That's partially why I love books that are series related because these characters DO come back to you!

2) I love the setting.

I personally love the office setting in this book I'm re-reading. Not enough authors use that setting. It's so real to me and fun that I can almost walk up to the water cooler myself and gossip with the characters. Also, another book I plan to re-read soon is "The Man in the Picture" by Susan Hill who uses the winter setting and the desolation that surrounds her characters to enhance the creepiness of her stories.

Another setting I love is a school or college setting. And one writer who does this effectively is Will Lavender! These are mysteries, but I just love the setting and this may be the exception to "not re-reading whodunit books," (see number 3) because the use of the college setting just takes me away.

3) There is more to the story than "whodunit" (once you know whodunit, what's the point?).

I hope to be proved wrong, but part of the thrill of reading murder mysteries and other books like that is the excitement in figuring out who the killer is. This may not always be the case, but the book I'm re-reading now doesn't have a big mystery to solve. This helps keep the entertainment fresh every time I return to it.

The exception here is if the book has other intriguing factors that draws me back in again! So far I haven't re-read a "whodunit" type of book yet, but there's always a first for everything!

4) Short story collections.

Another book that I've read a couple of times is "Twice Upon a Time" by Denise Little. I love the variety of short story collections and usually my first time around reading it, I don't read every story. So the second (or even third) I'll get something new out of it!

5) Seeing the movie.

Sometimes seeing the movie for a book I know I've read inspires me to re-read it. Because the second round of reading will let me compare the book from the movie! And I can learn why books are always better than the movie all over again (not all the time, but most times anyway!).

One book I've read before and now I really want to re-read is Amityville Horror! I saw the movie again recently and it's so creepy! Creepier this time around! So now I want to re-read the book.

6) BONUS REASON: Five or so years go by, and I still remember the book. Or I own it and have forgotten I read it.

I recently remembered the title "The Phantom Tollbooth" which is a book I read as a kid. I don't really remember a lot of the books I finished and I'm not too great about keeping track of them, so if a book stays with me over the years, I plan on going back at least once and re-reading it, just to refresh my memory!

Or if I'm browsing through my own bookshelf, if I spot a book that I can't remember reading, it may have a shot on getting in re-read VIP list. 

Do you ever re-read books? What reasons do you have for giving a book the second go around?

25 August 2014

Dark Hope by Monica McGurk #DarkHopeBook #AmReading [Book Review + Giveaway]

Author: Monica McGurk

About the Book
(read complete synopsis on Monica McGurk's website)

Years following a bizarre child abduction, Hope Carmichael lived a sheltered life with her father. Now as a teenager, Hope returns to her mother in Atlanta, Georgia to start her life as a "regular teen."  Not everything is quite what it seems, though. After getting hassled by a guy named Lucas, Hope meets an attractive rebel named Michael. He becomes her savior in more ways than one, beginning with an offer to drive her home, saving her from the bus bullies making her life hell. Things change once Hope starts working with class partner - and new friend - on a class assignment about human trafficking and discovers this cruel, criminal business is close to home. From the streets of Atlanta to the gritty glimmer of Las Vegas, Dark Hope by Monica McGurk "introduces The Archangel Prophecies, a saga of extraordinary love, vast mythological scope, and great moral urgency."

My Review

I was immediately taken with the high school world the author created. Although I never really took the bus as a kid, the few times I did in high school - usually during field trips - were awful and I felt Hope's isolating pain as she was picked on by a few selective bus bullies. One in particular named Lucas stands out and he never really goes away throughout the book. Another guy gets close to Hope, a rebel named Michael who stands between her and the hassles of Lucas and his minions.

All of these initial events have much more meaning as the book goes on, and I thought the book picked up speed once she gets the assignment to work with a partner on a topic of their choice. That's when Hope meets Tabitha, a goth preacher's daughter, who encourages the topic of human trafficking. This hits close to home for Hope and despite her reluctance, she accepts the topic. This sends the book into high speed and what was once just traditional high school hell becomes much more.

I did spot a few holes in the initial part of the book, but this didn't prevent me from enjoying myself. This book was quite a ride and I admittedly read this in one day. Also, there were biblical references throughout the book, if you aren't familiar with them, don't worry. They don't distract from the story and they certainly don't distract from the exciting and intense plot line. Either way, you will want to finish this (probably in one day, like I did!) I loved the character Michael especially and thought he was such a vividly written character (and especially enjoyed it when Tabitha came on the scene!).

I can't wait to read the second book and find out what happens to Hope, Michael, and everyone else that is impacted by the events surrounding her story.  Dark Hope is the first book in the Archangel Prophecies triology.

Visit this link to purchase your copy of Dark Hope by Monica McGurk.

Also, Monica McGurk is on social media! So, make sure to follow her on Twitter,  Facebook, and Pinterest.

And best of all, I get to giveaway a copy of Dark Hope by Monica McGurk! Enter via Rafflecopter below. This giveaway ends on 9/5.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own. I received compensation and a free copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

16 August 2014

4 Complaints about Writing in the Summer

writing in the summer

My best motivation comes from writing during the cold seasons. It hasn't helped that since the beginning of July, it's been close to 90 and above nearly everyday here in Portland.

And as mid-August roles on by and September peeks it's ahead around the corner, I'm looking forward to the colder fall and winter seasons.

Since I'm about to bid adieu to the long, hot days of summer, I'd like to tell you my five biggest complaints about writing during the summertime -

1) The laptop heats up like a fireplace whenever I use it.

The fact that I don't have air conditioning at home (can't afford it) makes my laptop the enemy in the summertime. The ideal is that I trek to the local Starbucks/bookstore/library to borrow their air conditioning, but that isn't always possible (or all that fun).

2) That feeling of restlessness doesn't go away even though I no longer have summers off.

I absolutely hated having all that time off during the summer as a kid, but now as an adult I wish I had those days back. Even now, I tend to be more restless during the summer. Although that DOES lead me towards writing new stories (I have a wonderful collection of short stories written out because of that), it doesn't inspire me to settle and edit (all of those stories are still handwritten).

3) Things just seem scarier in the winter than the summer.

Blame my enjoyment of the dark and cold winter days, but it's tough to get into the mood of horror and other paranormal stories when it's a glorious sunshining day with kids laughing and playing outside and conversations of barbecues and picnics all around.

4) Winter allows me to slow down and become introspective (or so confirms Psychology Today).

I'm sort of agreeing with the logic that I found on Psychology Today about winter time and it's affects on creativity (especially for "winter people" like me). For me, there aren't too many "winter blues" to deal with, but the burrowing feeling of hibernation and wanting to shut the world away.

Do you like writing during the summer? Or does the restless, stifling heat get to you after a while? What season is your best writing self?

01 August 2014

Addictive Reading Habits - The Best Worst Times to Read #AmReading

Link: http://xkcd.com/238/

I just finished reading the book, "The Woman in Black" by Susan Hill. She's one of the few authors I've read regularly (I've read about four or five of her books!) and although I hate to use the word favorite about any author or book (I don't want anyone to get jealous), she comes pretty close. The stories she writes are creepy and the settings are so vivid.

And once I started reading this book, I could barely put it down, it was that addictive. It made me wonder though about everyone else's reading habits. I had started this book over the weekend and I usually bring a book to work so I can read it on my way home. But I almost didn't have the patience with this one, I was so tempted to sneak it into a trip to the bathroom and read it in the stall!

I didn't, of course. I worried that someone would assume I was going # 2 and we wouldn't want that.

I decided to ask around to some other bookworms and see where their reading obsessions have taken them!

"I used to read while I was breastfeeding at night but they certainly weren't addictive books, they were all rubbish but my brain was mush and all I could cope with! I did see a woman walking along the street reading a book the other day - I thought to myself that must be a good book!"
-Clara W.

"Most awkward time? Probably at work and having my manager walk into my office and seeing me with book and bookmark in hand!"
-Michael L. 

"At a religious ceremony. I was 15 and was dying to see how this romance novel I was reading would end. I covered it up really well. Bad right? Lol. Sorry."
-Omi J. M. 

"I started a book then I had to take it to an awards dinner because I couldn't put it down."
-Gabrielle P. 

"When I've been stuck on hold waiting for a company to answer the phone... "You are tenth in the queue..." - time to read and stick phone on speaker phone while I wait!"
-Chrissie P. 

"I started a book on a trip to Italy. Arrived in Italy and stayed up all night to read it. Then I was too exhausted to appreciate the sights of Venice."
-Wendy J. 

"I discovered the Harry Potter books while working as an AV tech at the University of North Texas. I walked all over campus as part of the job, and so I just walked around campus carrying the books in front of my face and reading straight through, even reading while I did maintenance, etc., on the equipment. I may or may not have even read some while driving. I actually read through the first five books in a week."
-S. Kyle D.

"A wedding. I had my book in the car, and every little lull in activity I would duck out for 5 minutes for book time. I think people started thinking I was a closet smoker." -Jamie Jordan

I found these stories hilarious! Makes me feel a bit better about my reading habits!

This post contains an affiliate link for which I receive small compensation if a purchase is made.
Do you have any weird reading habits? What is the most awkward time you've pulled out a book to read it? 

31 July 2014

Want to Win Some California Ranch Olive Oil? [Giveaway ends 8/20]

Over on my review blog, Fancy That! I am reviewing California Olive Oil and I want to invite all my readers to hop on over and see what I think of this tasty olive oil and enter to win a bottle of your own!

For anyone just quickly stopping by, enter via Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received a complimentary bottle of olive oil in exchange for my honest review (linked above).
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