22 December 2014

One Year Ending, Another Beginning: 2014 Reflections

I would say that 2014 has been a year of writing. Although I've been less active on my blog, I have written more creative work this year than any other year. It's surprising too, because I have been under significant amount of stress, which usually leads me to writer's block. That wasn't the case this time.

What changed?

Who knows? A combination of maturity, discipline, and finding a niche all my own.

As I look ahead, I want 2015 to be the year of rewriting. I won't set any resolutions (like I read on a blog recently, resolutions are for people who want to stop eating cookies), I will say that I want to revise the stories I've finished this year. At least a few. One would be nice actually.

For my blog, I'll try to do better. Use it as the outlet I started it for.

If I don't post again this week...here's a somewhat perfect holiday message from my modest Instagram account -

17 December 2014

My Crowdfunding Campaign - Help Get My Mom's Car Fixed

One thing I will admit openly to all of you is that I'm awful about asking people for help (or expressing a need). But with the new year around the corner, I wanted to start the new year on the right foot and bring your attention to a crowdfunding campaign I've started.

My mom's car is on it's last leg. Right now, I'm the only one working in my family and we just don't have the money to fix it up. Since my mom is unemployed and so many other things that have happened this year, the car falling apart has been really difficult.

 So, I would love to surprise my mom this New Year's with money for the car repair. Not only would it making the entire process of job hunting easier, it would also really boost her spirits. Any amount you can donate at all would be massively appreciated. Or if you can't afford to donate, if you could share this campaign with people you know, that would be amazing too. And I have embedded a fancy widget into this post to, so you can easily see the details. Or if you can't see the widget, just click here to read more!

16 December 2014

Leading Film Cars Throughout the Decades

Whether you are a fan of the classics, have a penchant for romance or are amazed by futuristic themes, movies and cars go hand in hand like two peas in a pod. It is widely known that cars are a vital component of a film.

Check out these iconic movie star vehicles from films that span across the decades -

cinematic cars infographic

14 December 2014

5 Reasons Why I Like Writing in the Morning

Each morning I take the bus into work. It's about a 45 minute ride, and since I have to get up horridly early (6:45 is when I leave to catch the bus) to show up on time., it's a pretty dark ride until the very end. Yet, something about waking up in the early morning hour and sitting crammed in a bus seat, inspires me.

I've not considered myself an early morning person before, until I absolutely had to be, and wondered what the appeal of early morning writing was.

I put together a list of top 5 reasons why I like writing in the morning and I wonder if any of you can relate.

1) Nothing too awful has happened yet.

Unless I'm under the mellow spell of a glass of wine, if something crummy has happened in my day, it's hard for me to turn my brain off at night long enough to enter the realm of imagination. I'm usually obsessing, ranting, figuring out how to solve the problem or whatnot.

If it's early in the morning and I'm barely awake enough to register anything yet, it's the perfect time for me to use that creative muscle. This is a major reason why I don't install work email onto my phone. God help me if I read an annoying or worrisome email and it's 10:30 pm at night. Goodbye sleep.

The first appeal of writing in the morning is that nothing awful has happened. Nothing has gotten in the way of the creative process.

2) A dream filled night can inspire me.

I love when I dream vividly. Like the kind of dream I'll think about throughout the day. And because of this, my dream filled mind can inspire the story I'm working on and nudge the plot along or add a bizarre element that only a dream can throw in there.

3) It inspires the rest of the day.

Writing makes me happy. If I can start my day with something that makes me happy, I'm starting things out on the right foot. I will also feel more ready and confident to go back to that same story later on in the day, no matter what happens.

And since I rarely get rejected before 8 am, this is a good thing.

4) My mind is more open and less critical.

I don't think my inner critic likes to wake up early. I'm pretty certain it doesn't wake up until about 8 o'clock. When I'm writing early in the morning, I don't hear those awful thoughts that say this piece of writing isn't any good and that I really should work on something else. I'm much more at peace with my writing and the process.

5) I think the sunrise is my muse.

Something about watching the sky go from a dreary dark color to the beautiful array only the sunrise inspires me.

What time of day do you write best? What about that time inspires you?

11 December 2014

Enter to Win a Holiday Tumbler!

I invite you to come by Fancy That! and take a look at the latest giveaway going on! Enter to win adorable holiday tumblers by Reduce Base Brands via Rafflecopter.

Better yet, go visit their website and make a purchase as a gift for someone! They are priced at only $7.99 right now - such a great deal! Shop Now

a Rafflecopter giveaway

08 December 2014

How to Select the Perfect Domain Name

When it comes to selecting the domain name for your website, there are endless possibilities for choices. However, your domain name plays a large part in your brand identity and in your website’s visibility on the Internet, so choosing the right name is paramount for ensuring the success of your website. Here are a few pointers for selecting the right domain name. 

Brainstorm 5 Top Keywords

The first thing you need to consider when looking for a domain name is the keywords associated with your business. Have 5 or 6 different related terms or phrases ready when you begin your domain search. For example, if you are launching a financial website, consider terms like money, finance, interest rate, etc and play with those until you find something that clicks. 

Make the Domain Unique

Some people swear by having a domain name that is similar to one that is being used by a popular website. However, you wind up getting a lot of traffic that has no interest in what you are offering. Stay away from plurals, misspellings and hyphenated versions of popular names already in use. 

Stick with Dot Coms

When it comes to the general population, the only websites that really exist are the dot coms. Of course, there are a ton of extensions out there like .net, .org, .biz, and .tv to name a few, but using them means that you’ll miss out on a ton of traffic relating to those who will remember your domain name and not your extension. 

Make it Easy to Type/Remember

Good domain names will stick in the minds of your customers. Domain names should be short and be easy to type so that their fingers will find the keys naturally. Try to skip domain names that don’t use q,z,x, c and other hard to reach letters on the keyboard.

Create and Fulfill Expectations

You want your domain name to trigger an instant recognition when your customer hears it. Not only will customers be able to remember it more easily, it also takes less branding in order to draw more traffic. 

And these suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg. Your domain name needs to be able to tell a story in just a few characters and draw customers in. If you need more help to find domain name, you can use a domain name selection tool to help you. 

This is a sponsored post. 

06 December 2014

Getting That Story Back [A Computer Crash Success Story]

For those of you who have been with me for the long haul, I wonder if you recall the dreaded day my computer crashed. Let me tell you how awful that day was, especially because I'm not the type to back up my files. (Yes, I learned my lesson,)

I probably would have been MORE devastated had I not been such a devoted handwriter. But still, I felt the loss.

It's been over two years since the loss of that laptop and I do have a new one that I've been using. For a long time that old laptop sat at the bottom of my closet floor. I kept thinking one day I would take it in somewhere and have someone recover the files, but I never did.

Well, until the very last day of my Thanksgiving break, I decided to take the laptop out and try to recover them myself. And ladies and gentleman, it worked. Well, for the most part. I recovered some notes I took from my fantasy novel, mostly music, and a couple of other files. That wasn't my huge Eureka moment. My huge EUREKA moment happened when I recovered files off an old flash drive.

That's when the goods returned. I discovered old stories, poetry, notes, and other ides. This was a goldmine of creative writing. It's like a retrieved a part of myself.

My next task at hand is to print these stories out for safekeeping and for rewriting sake.

If you want to recover files of your own, in case you are curious, I used EaseUS Data Recovery for my flashdrive and Recuva for my laptop. Recuva gets installed on a flashdrive and you load it onto the computer from where you want files uncovered.

I can proudly say - Nicole: 1 Technology: 0.

01 December 2014

Enter to Win Cucina Antica Pumpkin Sauce!

I want you to check out my review of the tasty Cucina Antica Pumpkin Sauce! This was so good! It's perfect for the holidays!

Better yet, enter via Rafflecopter below! If you can't wait and want some now, I highly recommend you following this link to purchase the sauce.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

27 November 2014

What Are You Thankful for This Thanksgiving?

I just wanted to take the time to wish everyone Happy Thanksgiving! Today, I am thankful for my family, a warm and safe place to call home, good books, strong coffee, and all of my blog readers who have stuck by with each and every post.

I hope you have a wonderful time with your loved ones today and have tasty food.

What are you thankful for today? 

25 November 2014

Enter to Win Honest Amish Products!

I want to invite you to take a look at the review for Honest Amish Beard Care oil and Lavender and Clove soap.

Honest Amish is located in a small town in Pennsylvania and everything is made by hand and from scratch. Also, they're products are 100% natural, organic, and have sustainable ingredients.

Take a look at the review for their beard care oil and lavender and clove soap over at this link!

Or enter the giveaway via Rafflecopter below!

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23 November 2014

4 Books I've Read (And Don't Remember the Title)

Recently I recalled several books that left an impact on me and couldn't remember their titles.

The thing is I'm not very good at keeping track of book titles, even of ones I've liked! For me, it's the experience of the book I need and desire. To keep close track is too close to keeping a record book of every single experience I've had in my life down to the minute. After a while it just becomes a hassle and you enjoy less the experience and just love racking up numbers. I've only just recently accepted the idea of Good Reads.

So I thought I'd describe the books I've remembered and see if any of my fellow bookworms happen to know these books -

1) Young Adult Murder Mystery 

This was a book I read as a kid. I think it's from the 80's or early 90's. It isn't Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys or Boxcar Children. I'm fairly certain it's a series, but I'm not sure. It's about a coastal town or a lighthouse or area by the sea that the main character visits. The cover is dark and of a lighthouse or coast or something. I think the main character visits family or something. The thing is I remember that I hadn't wanted to read this at first, not thinking I'd be interested, but I read it and it was really good. Spooky. And kind of dark.

2) Vampire Story

I hate vampire novels. I only grabbed this at the library once on accident and got about a quarter way through before putting it down. The thing is there is a quote in this book that I loved. It starts out something like 'My name is Fate' and it says, 'Make a wish. Make sure, very sure. Because I'm going to make sure that's the one thing you'll never get.' I loved that quote. It was so creepy and chilling. This was a book some time in the early 2000s, late 90s.

3) Sci-Fi Novel

This is one I read over the last five years. The cover had a white unicorn with a blue horn standing in a white room. It was a science fiction novel about a guy waking up every day not knowing why he's n this room. And people come in one at a time trying to help him remember. I don't remember much else about it, though.

4) Literary Book Tour Assistant

I thought for CERTAIN this had been published by Joshua Ferris, but after several determined Google searches I know it wasn't. The main character would drive around authors, take them to their hotel, bring them to the bookstore they are presenting at, etc. Though, he wants to be an author himself, he has writer's block (and by the way, the author of this book was HIMSELF a book tour assistant (or whatever the job title is called)). Anyways, I'm a sucker for a book about the writing process.

Are there any books that you've read and enjoyed, but can't recall the title? Do you keep careful track of books you've read?

12 November 2014

Enter to Win Olives to Go Snack Packs!

I want make sure you check out my review of these excellent olive snack packs! They are great for packing in your lunch and are SO GOOD!

If you want to buy Olives to Go, check out where you can purchase Olives to Go near you!   Also make sure you follow Olives to Go on Facebook and Pinterest.

Better yet, I'm also giving away a four pack to a lucky reader! So visit my blog post to enter or enter via Rafflecopter below!

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08 November 2014

A Writing Lesson I Learned from a Guy on a Skateboard

Yesterday, during my lunch break, I sat in front of a small bakery and I noticed a guy on a skateboard. I've noticed him before and he's fairly regular to this particular street. He went back and forth down the small street on his skateboard practicing various tricks.

In my mind, I almost wanted to cheer him on and say, "You can do it!" Each time he failed, and screwed up on the trick, he swore under his breath (and sometimes not under his breath) and started again. Sometimes a car came and he stood to the side, patiently waiting to start again. Finally, about a half hour after I sat down, he nailed the trick. (In my mind, I also wanted to say, "Yay! You did it!" Of course, I was silent). I didn't see him make a huge celebration, but I just sensed a silent victory. He went down a different road, maybe to try something else, or put it away for the day.

As a writer, I think we all are experiencing this type of routine. We're all on that same narrow street and going back and forth with our own skateboards trying to nail a trick. Our trick as writers is the story that we're trying to finish.  There's a lot of times we don't get it right. A lot of times where we're swearing because it just didn't work out - rejections, bad critiques, our writer's block.

Cars will get in the way. Maybe that for us is stress - money troubles, family troubles, day job troubles. It makes us stand to the side, away from our creative work, and just hope it's over soon.

Once we finally nail that trick, and this is something I learned recently, we have a quiet celebration, usually. We share the news, bashfully accept the congratulations of those we've shared our work with, and even boast a bit on our social networks. But we go back to the drawing board because the next trick awaits for us to conquer.

The thing is we must always go back. We must go back to that same narrow street and try to nail the trick. Even as the skateboard slides out from under us half way through trick and we land on our back.

06 November 2014

Enter to Win Florida Coffee!

I want to encourage all of you to come by Fancy That! and enter to win coffee from Florida Coast Coffee Company! It's a must try coffee blend!

Check out the review by following this link (or enter quickly via Rafflecopter below)

Giveaway ends 11/15.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

03 November 2014

My Newest Video Poem!

Alongside writing stories, one of my favorite things to do is to create video poetry! I compile images and music alongside the poetry to enhance the message of the poem. My latest creation was inspired by a poem that my mom, Jackie Pontzious wrote entitled, "Whispering Reflections." I compiled the video and couldn't wait to share it with you all!

Feel free to share amongst your friends, if you would like! Also, if you have a poem you've written that you want developed into a video like this, let me know. I love creating things like this!

29 October 2014

Interview with Jeff Gunhus, Author of the Templar Chronicles and Night Terror

Yesterday I reviewed Jeff Gunhus' newest book Night Terror, about a young girl Sarah Tremont who is still recovering from being updated ten years later. Sarah and her parents and Joseph Lonetree must fight the evil still hunting for Sarah and others like her - as well as fighting the evil living inside of her. Make sure to check out my review - I know you will want to read it!    
But best of all, I had the chance to interview this amazing writer and get his insight into his writing process, find out what inspires him, and what he's working on next! 

The descriptions in the book Night Terror are vivid, terrifying, and more than occasionally grotesque. How did you get into the right mindset to write these scenes? 

I like to listen to film scores while I write so that really helps the atmospherics. I think the fun of writing is that when you're locked in and pounding away at the keyboard, the visual images at floating in front of you as if you were watching a movie. Once you're in that space, it's just play. However, for the more emotional scenes I try to imagine how I would react in a similar situation, especially if my own child was put in danger or harmed, and that's definitely draining. There is a father/daughter moment at the end of Night Terror that almost wiped me out. I also read in the genre I'm about to write to get into the right mindset. I had read Joe Hill's Horns right before writing this and felt liberated by it. Whenever I felt like I might have gone too far, I remembered Horns was way more gruesome.  

This book is the sequel to the book Night Chill. Did you intend to create this sequel?

I left the possibility open with the ending of Night Chill, but I wanted to gauge reaction to the book first. Night Chill is my bestselling book and readers seem to connect with it so the sequel seemed like a good idea. I was excited by it because I really enjoy the characters and I was curious what happened to them after the events of Night Chill. Now I know. 

I realized that while the book Night Terror is a sequel to Night Chill, Night Terror can pretty much stand by itself. How did you approach writing this book so that a reader who may not have read the first one, can still enjoy this second one? 

That is a challenge. Certainly I think the best experience is to read the books in order, but I tried to make it possible to jump in. Making that possible requires some dreaded exposition in the early chapters to get across the main history of the first book. The trick is to embed it and hide it the best you can. What you need to avoid is a character walking into a scene and spitting out a monologue of everything that's happened. It feels clunky and it can alienate readers of the first book who don't want to endure a summary. One technique is getting exposition out of the way during conflict which I use in Night Terror. 

Which authors influence your writing? 

In this genre, certainly Stephen King reigns as my greatest influence. Dean Koontz, Blake Crouch, Joe Hill.

What is your strangest writing habit? 

I have a ceramic steampunk skull on my desk that stares at me while a write. It's a reminder of my mortality, so I ask myself if I should be writing or if I should be spending time with my family. I tend to write before they get up for the day or once they are at school. On more than one occasion, I've heard my kids playing outside my home office, felt the stare of the skull and wrapped up for the day. 

What are you working on now? 

I'm working on the sequel to Killer Within, my thriller which is coming out from Thomas & Mercer in February. 

Why did you decide to self-publish your books initially? How was that process for you? 

I really enjoyed the creative control over every aspect of the process. I had published a non-fiction book with a traditional publisher and had not been happy with the cover selection and the editorial process. However, Thomas & Mercer acquired Killer Within recently and I've been having a great experience so far with their team. 

For aspiring authors, what advice can you pass along to them? 

Read Stephen King's book, On Writing. Part autobiography, part writing advice, pretty much every line of advice I give writers come from that book. My favorite is that to be a writer you have to read a lot and write a lot. Sounds basic, but ready every day and writing every day is essential. 

And one final non-writing question, what is your favorite amusement park ride? 

I like It's A Small World at Disneyland. I am a horror writer after all. What could be creepier than all those dolls staring at you, singing that song over and over. Yikes!

About the Author - Jeff Gunhus

Jeff Gunhus is the author of both adult thrillers and the Middle Grade/YA series, The Templar Chronicles. The first book, Jack Templar Monster Hunter, was written in an effort to get his reluctant reader eleven-year old son excited about reading. It worked and a new series was born. His book Reaching Your Reluctant Reader has helped hundreds of parents create avid readers. As a father of five, he and his wife lead an active lifestyle simply trying to keep up with their kids. In rare moments of quiet, he can be found in the back of the City Dock Cafe in Annapolis working on his next novel.

His latest book is the thriller/horror novel, Night Terror.  Visit Jeff Gunhus online by checking out his website, and connecting with Jeff on Facebook and Twitter.

28 October 2014

Night Terror by Jeff Gunhus - Horrifyingly, Excellent Horror Story [Review] #AmReading

I had the honor of reviewing another book by Jeff Gunhus. Previously on this blog, if you happen to remember, I read and reviewed Jack Templar Monster Humnter (The Templar Chronicles Series) last year! I thoroughly enjoyed book one and I've heard so many good things about the rest of the books in the series.

The thing is...if you were a fan of the Templar Chronicles, don't walk into the latest book by Jeff Gunhus with the same mind frame. Jeff Gunhus' latest book, "Night of Terror" will send you under your covers with a flashlight. This book is freaky, vivid, and scary all the way through. The descriptions are incredible and as a writer, I could learn a thing or two.

About Night Terror by Jeff Gunhus

Ten years after her abduction and near-sacrifice to the Source, Sarah Tremont struggles to be a normal teenager. As much as she’s tried to suppress the power inside of her, it’s grown dangerously strong and has drawn the attention of those who want to possess her power for themselves.
The nightmare that she thought was long over starts again as powerful forces descend upon Prescott City to seek her out. With her parents and Joseph Lonetree’s help, Sarah must stand up to an evil much more powerful than the one she faced in the caves a decade earlier. But in the end, she discovers the greatest danger might come from the power living inside of her.

What I Thought

I'm usually a fan of reading a book in one sitting but I actually had to take a few breaks when reading this book! This will send your mind into some pretty dark places. The plot and the intensity of the main character, Sarah and the evil she is dealing with, pulls you right back in. I thought the characters were vivid and most of all, the descriptions just jumped off the page. It actually made my skin crawl a bit, so if you are on the squeamish side, take warning! If you aren't, this is the perfect book for you. Although this book is the second in the series, you don't have to read the first one to enjoy it. It can definitely be a stand alone book.

About the Author - Jeff Gunhus

Jeff Gunhus is the author of both adult thrillers and the Middle Grade/YA series, The Templar Chronicles. The first book, Jack Templar Monster Hunter, was written in an effort to get his reluctant reader eleven-year old son excited about reading. It worked and a new series was born. His book Reaching Your Reluctant Reader has helped hundreds of parents create avid readers. As a father of five, he and his wife lead an active lifestyle simply trying to keep up with their kids. In rare moments of quiet, he can be found in the back of the City Dock Cafe in Annapolis working on his next novel.

His latest book is the thriller/horror novel, Night Terror.  Visit Jeff Gunhus online by checking out his website, and connecting with Jeff on Facebook and Twitter.

Make sure you come back to my blog tomorrow, because I have an interview with Jeff Gunhus! He will be sharing his writing process, how he got into the right mindframe to get those descriptions as vivid as they are, and so much more!

24 October 2014

No NaNoWriMo for This Writer (And Here's Why)

In just about a week or so, writer's everywhere will be giving up showers, eating, and blissful reading time to hit the 50,000 word mark for their potential novel in honor of National Novel Writing Month.

I've tried NaNoWriMo in the past and it hasn't worked out for me. First of all, lately, I've gotten more interest and involved in writing short stories. They don't have the same all encompassing quality working on a novel does, which I do miss sometimes, but I love the tightened quality of a short story.

But most of all, my biggest weakness right now isn't racing to finish a first draft. My biggest weakness is editing and rewriting. Getting critiqued and rewriting. Submitting, being rejected, and rewriting. Do you see a common thread here? I have the first draft part of things down. The huge chunk of finished, but not typed, short stories proves that.

So I will dedicate my November to not a first draft but to buckling down and actually getting stories typed, edited, submitted, rewritten, and repeat.

Will you be taking part in this year's NaNoWriMo? Or will you be pursuing a different challenge?  

18 October 2014

Read My Published Poem 'Immortality' - Featured on The Voices Project

I've had so much going on lately that I forget to share my published poem with you all! It was published about a month ago on The Voices Project. It was my first publishing success and I am happy to say that I've printed out the poem from their website and taped it to my bedroom wall next to a newly posted sign that says, "PUBLISHED." (You don't know how happy I am to have that on my wall now!)

Anyways, I want to invite you to read my poem and let me know what you think. Follow this link to read Immortality by Nicole Pyles.

17 October 2014

Enter to Win Coffee by Aroma Ridge [Giveaway Ends 10/30]

Looking for coffee to add to your kitchen cabinet? Enter to win coffee made by Aroma Ridge featured on my blog Fancy That!

Visit this link to purchase the Baba Roast and Mama Roast blends from Aroma Ridge. Visit this link to purchase the Black Tea by Aroma Ridge.

You can also follow Aroma Ridge on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Enter quickly via Rafflecopter below. Contest ends 10/30.
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08 October 2014

Yell and Shout, Cry and Pout - Learning About Emotions [Children's Book Review]

I purposely chose this book to review for the very subject that it handles. Yell and Shout, Cry and Pout by Peggy Krugertietz, Ph. D talks about emotions and what these emotions feel like and situations you may actually feel them.

About the Book:

Yell and Shout, Cry and Pout: A Kid's Guide to Feelings is an essential guidebook for adults in steering children through the confusing behaviors that emotions evoke. When you understand the purpose of emotions, behavior becomes understandable. Each of the eight emotions is clearly defined thorough vignettes and illustrations, keeping both adult and child captivated, thus creating an opportune time for discussion. By recognizing that all humans experience these emotions throughout their lives, the book provides a true sense of comfort. Emotions are not to be shunned, but rather embraced and explained to provide a positive development environment for all children.

In My Opinion

My mom and I have talked a LOT about how important it is for kids to learn about emotions and learn how to handle them.  We both read this book and both of us agree that this should be in every single classroom. 

Dr. Peggy Kruger Tietz
What I enjoyed most about this book is that it truly doesn't make emotions too complicated or too scary. We all feel angry and sad and afraid sometimes, and discussing these emotions are so important!  This book will generate discussions in your home with your child about emotions. It will get you talking about "what do YOU do when you feel such-and-such an emotion." 

About the Author

Dr. Peggy Kruger Tietz is a licensed psychologist and maintains a private practice in Austin, Texas. She sees a wide range of children with normal developmental problems as well as children who have experienced trauma. Her Ph.D is in developmental psychology from Bryn Mawr College. Before entering private practice Dr. Tietz treated children in multiple settings, such as family service agencies and foster care. Dr. Tietz, trained at the Family Institute of Philadelphia, and then taught there. She specializes in seeing children individually, as well as, with their families. She has advanced training in Play Therapy as well as being a certified practitioner of EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, for children and adults). She has conducted workshops on parenting, sibling relationships, and emotional literacy.

Her latest book is the nonfiction/psychoeducational book, Yell and Shout, Cry and Pout: A Kid’s Guide to Feelings.

For More Information about the Author

Visit Peggy Kruger Tietz’s website.
Connect with Peggy on Facebook and Twitter.
For More Information about the Book

Yell and Shout, Cry and Pout: A Kid’s Guide to Feelings is available at Amazon.
Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

I received a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

02 October 2014

My Thoughts on Passwords (And Who Won the iPad Mini?)

Talking about passwords has made me very conscious of my online security. One of the key pieces of information I learned through the process of talking about this and listening to your advice is basically staying "in the know" about the newest dangers impacting your security.

I find that staying active online and keeping informed through either word of mouth, social media, or national news on what accounts may be at risk. I have so many different online accounts that keeping up to date with everyone is so hard. That's why I was so excited to hear about F-Secure KEY and the ability to have at least one central place (aside from the notebook in my purse) to keep passwords (and keep them secure).

I also wanted to share with you an infographic that talks about passwords and keeping your information secure (and away from prying eyes)! (Click the image below to see a larger version!)

I highly recommend you download the app (or the desktop app) and experience the latest technology in online security. You can download the app here.

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

Last, but certainly not least, I wanted to announce the winner of the iPad Mini giveaway - Amanda S from Massachusetts! The winner has already been contacted (and the info is now displayed on the Rafflecopter Widget).

Congrats to Amanda and thanks to everyone who entered!

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

25 September 2014

Enter to Win an iPad Mini [Courtesy of F-Secure KEY] [Ends 10/1]

Is your online security THIS secure?
This is a sponsored post for which I will receive compensation. All opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Recently I talked about my discovery of F-Secure KEY and how important it is for your personal security online. It safely saves your password information on the app (and desktop app) and provides you with excellent password ideas.

I say 'excellent password ideas' as if I'm talking about a plot generating app, I know. But I get so obsessive about figuring out new password methods. I won't tell you my recent method, because I still use it, but if trying to figure out a new password is a little like trying to title your novel, you need this app.

And because F-Secure KEY is so excited about their new launch, I get to giveaway an iPad Mini for one of my lucky readers! I'm so excited for you!!

It is a 16 GB iPad Mini (Wifi capable) and I know you want this and I want you to get this!

Before you enter though, I highly recommend you download the F-Secure KEY app following the guidelines I listed 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

NOW, enter this amazing giveaway! Giveaway ends on 10/1.
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This is a sponsored post for which I will receive compensation. All opinions expressed in this post are my own. 

15 September 2014

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

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! 

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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?
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