Category Archives: Guest Blog

Guest Post from Nick A. Shepherd, author of Reflective Leaders and High-Performance Organizations

Inside the Book

Reflective LeadersTitle: Reflective Leaders and High-Performance Organizations
Author: Nick A. Shepherd and Peter J. Smyth
Publisher: iUniverse
Genre: Business and Economics
Format: Ebook/Paperback

An organization operating in the twenty-first century is different from one that operated during the Industrial Revolution. Today’s focus is on optimizing human potential; people are the enablers of most aspects of intangible value. People develop relationships with suppliers, customers, distributors, and other third parties through which work is executed. In Reflective Leaders and High-Performance Organizations, authors Nick Shepherd and Peter Smyth take an integrated view of organizational performance that blends a focus on both outcomes and relationships.

Reflective Leaders and High-Performance Organizations suggests a framework for developing and applying an improved approach to organizational leadership and management. In addition to philosophy and conceptual approaches, it presents tested practical tools and direction. It also delivers case studies of organizations that have applied Shepherd’s and Smyth’s ideas and realized measurable improvements in the day-to-day activities of the organization, along with measurably improved outcomes from the organizational activity.

Using over twenty years of practical consulting experience as well as careers in management, Shepherd and Smyth demonstrate how effective leaders can maintain a focus on organizational tasks and outcomes and do this while building and enhancing human relationships.

ORDER INFORMATION

Reflective Leaders and High-Performance Organizations is available for order at

amazon

Guest Post

“My boss is such a moron – she only occasionally listens to what I have to say and even then seems to ignore my ideas.” Sound familiar? While we may not have uttered the words directly it is quite possible that we may have heard it from others. How true is it?

The reality is that many people get promoted into leadership positions – not on their ability to lead but on their ability to get the job done. Yet once in a leadership position they often come to realize that they rise or fall based not on their own efforts but on the work of others; the result can be that they constantly hound their staff for results – thinking that is their job. Yet this creates dissention, unhappiness and an overall loss of morale.

What do effective managers do? In our book “Reflective Leaders and High-Performance Organizations” we share ideas developed over 25 years of working with individuals and groups. We describe how effective leaders must start by understanding their own personality and behavior and how this seen by others. Many of us see ourselves in a different way than others see us – and are surprised when we receive feedback that fails to match our own perceptions of ourselves. What “I think about myself” in my reality but unfortunately it may not be the reality of others!

Effective leaders learn to “look in the mirror” so as to start understanding how they are seen by others and how that determines how others respond to them. So to be an effective leader starts with the willingness to:

a. Have an open mind about opportunity for personal improvement;
b. Be willing to receive feedback from others in a “non-defensive” way, and
c. Be willing to take the feedback, learn from it and seek ways to improve.

People who are placed in leadership positions hold both the success of a department or an organization in their hands. It is almost a “sacred trust.” They have the potential to grow and develop other people in a way that maximizes their potential and brings the greatest benefit individually and organizationally. This is a critically important opportunity – there are no successful organizations only successful people – and successful people are encouraged and developed by effective leaders.

Meet the Author

Nick A. Shepherd has more than forty years of business experience. Since 1989, he has owned the management-consulting and professional-development company, EduVision Inc., which provides management-consulting and development services to public and private sector organizations.

Peter J. Smyth has over thirty-five years of experience in the fields of adult education and organizational consultation, counseling, psychology, social work, and mental health. He holds numerous qualifications in the areas of teamwork, leadership, coaching, emotional intelligence, and personal and organizational assessment.

Shepherd and Smyth have worked together for over twenty-five years facilitating workshops and helping clients enhance their teams and leadership capabilities.

 

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Guest blog from Andrew Barbour, author of The Blue Book





Title: The Blue Book
Author: Andrew Barbour
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Pages: 776
Genre: Science Fiction
Format: Ebook 

The Blue Book; The Ultimate Project is the Terrestrial Non Human Project to introduce us to their existence alongside us on this Planet. With unique photographs of interaction between a variety of Craft, also including arrivals and departures. It’s time to know!

ORDER INFORMATION

The Blue Book is available for purchase at

Authorhouse
amazon
 
 The Extra Terrestrial Disclosure Project
 
        The Beginning of the Extra Terrestrial  Disclosure Project was in 1979, when I witnessed my first anomalous object. It was a long dark cylindrical shape that disappeared into a cloud a fraction of it’s length, being only 10 years old and no concecpt of these matters accepted it was there and I
simply said ‘Hello’. It took 32 years to realise I had been heared that day, a simple act that I found influenced the course of my life, and eventually led to the assembly of The Blue Book; The Ultimate Project.
        At the age of 15 I encountered religion and decided if there was a God there must be a Devil, so in my naivety words were said that changed everything. Something heared those words and a tall humanoid shape in silhouette appeared next to my bed. What happened next I can only describe as being scanned. A band of energy worked its way from my feet to my head then blackness.
       This set the stage for the next 25 years, finding my way through forms of Christianity and Satanism. Both unconventionally practiced before finally enbarking on an equally unconventional Shamanic Path as a balancing point between the two extremes of Faith. By the end of this period I knew we were not the only beings on this Planet. But it still felt like I was waiting for something that was yet to come.
       Then in 2011 I wtnessed a silver squat ciger shaped  object hanging low enough that it appeared to be in the gap between two houses, the only visible features being two black bands around the object near the tapered end and what appeared to be a long silver rectangular box of set from the
    central line near the wider end of the object. For several months after this I had the feeling that what I was looking for was on its way. I searched the internet for a specific but unknown image, I knew I would know it when i found it. But I found it is hard to find a photograph that had not been taken.

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Affirmative Action and Ending Race-Based College Admissions by R.L. Byrd, author of Black Coffee

Title: Black Coffee

Author: R.L. Byrd

Publisher: R.L. Byrd Publishing

Pages: 304 

There are ALWAYS two sides to every story. In R.L. Byrd’s debut novel, Looking for Sweet Love, the Love Forum Divas told their side. 

Now it’s the Brothers’ turn. . . . The Love Forum is back and the relationship dilemmas continue within the infamous Dallas, Texas, urban radio station, K103.5. DK “Love” Niles, the popular Disc Jockey from the DK and Melissa Morning Show, takes over the reins of hosting the new Love Forum called The Brothers Speak, and man, are the Brothas talking.

DK, in his pursuit to finding good love himself, discusses relationships from a black man’s point of view and enlist the help of the husbands, boyfriends and lovers of the Love Forum Divas. Known as the Brotherhood; DK, Quentin, Miguel, Michael, Donnell, Pastor Levine, Dr. Houston and Brass aim to set the record straight and talk about dating black women, marriage, infidelity, personal struggles, what distinguishes a throw-back from a keeper, and answers the question the radio listeners really want to know: What really went down in their relationships? 

Along the way, the Brothers break the silence on some of the most pressing social issues challenging today’s black males: Disproportionate homicide rates, unintentional injuries, suicide, HIV/AIDS, and disparities in employment and graduation rates.If you thought the Love Forum Divas were dealing with issues, you may be surprised at what the brothers have to say about those relationship woes. In the end–when all is said and done–one Diva will be asking, “Am I drinking the right cup of Black Coffee?

For More Information

Black Coffee  is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

 

Affirmative Action and Ending
Raced-Based College Admissions
Prompting
leaders to accept the brutal facts about our environment.
What are the
Conservative Principles that based the decision to end race-based college
admissions in Florida’s colleges and universities?
This is the question I had after reading Robert Samuels’,
Washington Post article, “After
Bush order, Florida universities cope with shrinking black enrollment
.”
As the article states, the former Governor’s executive order
(similar, in part, to California’s
Proposition 209
and Washington’s
Initiative 200
) would 1) uphold conservative principles; 2) end race-based
admissions; and 3)help minorities as a result. Let’s review these three:
1: The Conservative
Principle Concerning Affirmative Action
It’s been noted that most Conservatives oppose Affirmative
Action
policies. They believe
giving special treatment to members of a certain group (race, sex, ethnic,
etc.) is not needed in regards to education, employment, contracting, and other
areas.
2: Ending race-based college/university
admissions; or a plethora of reasons not to
Race is, and has always been, an integral part of our being.
“The fabric of our lives” as the saying goes. A fabric interwoven into the red,
white and blue that majestically flies over the landscape of this land; from
the Atlantic, to the Great Lakes, to the Gulf of Mexico, to the Pacific and
beyond. To reject and deny its existence denies the suffering, struggles and
battles that so many have endured (and continue to endure), like:
Dred Scott’s
fight to become a free man in Scott v.
Sandford
; a case where the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that because Scott was
of African descent, people of African descent (whether free or slaves) could
not be, nor were intended to be, citizens under the U.S. Constitution and held
no legal rights—a ruling later discarded by the thirteenth amendment (abolition
of slavery) and fourteenth amendment (birthright citizenship for all).
W.E.B Dubois (a founding
member of the NAACP) and Booker T.
Washington
(founder of the Tuskegee Institute) championing for full civil rights when Southerners would
only guarantee “basic” educational and economic opportunities (and protesting
discrimination within the same “basic” educational and economic opportunities the
Southerners guaranteed); as well as protesting, and championing the end to lynchings
and the Jim
Crow Laws
of the South.
Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley,
Carole Robertson, and  Carol Denise
McNair of the Birmingham
Church Bombing
; Emmett
Till
and George
Stinney
, two of many children who died for
senseless reasons
; and the thousands of others who lost their lives
simply based on the color of their skin.
The thousands of men, women and
children (Virginia
Durr
, Rosa Parks, Medgar Evers, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Hosea
Williams, Fannie Lou Hamer, John Lewis, Malcolm X and a host of others too
lengthy to name for this article) who contributed to the Civil Rights era of
the 1950’s and 60’s to end discrimination and racial segregation; all of which
lead to the Civil Rights act, Voting Rights Act, Fair Housing Bill and other cures
to the disparities faced by blacks.
Understanding where African Americans have come from, the
struggles and tumultuous journeys to get to where we are today, and how much
further is needed to go is pivotal for any “true leader” involved in public
policy making. Additionally, understanding the Conservative Principle, and its
impact, is equally important. And, yes, I would concur with Conservative
thinkers that everyone should stand on their own merits when it comes to
education, employment, contracting and the like; but that’s only if the playing
fields are level. But as a senior, business executive reminded me, “The playing
fields are never level [especially for women and racial minorities].” Can one
truly think that 50 years of progressive movement, since the 1960’s Civil
Rights Act, can erase 200-plus years of denied freedoms and unfair treatment? Until
one walks in another man’s (or woman’s) shoes, I can totally understand the Conservative’s
basis of not being able to comprehend or understand the brevity of such an
argument—if one chooses to try to understand it in the first place.
Conservative Leaders (well, all leaders for this matter) should
embrace the Stockdale
Paradox
: Confronting the brutal facts about the current reality of one’s
environment. Had Governor Bush confronted
the brutal facts
about the current
reality of his environment
—the existence of racism, sexism, bias-based
injustices, and the disparities within the educational system —he may have had
a different outlook (or vision) concerning his decision to end race-based
college admissions by executive order; but I applaud his optimism.
3: The end of
race-based admissions would help minorities
 
As with California’s Proposition 209 and Washington’s
Initiative 200, both of which saw URM (underrepresented
minorities
) enrollment plummet at their flagship universities, Florida is now
(as the article suggests) dealing with the same impact at its flagship
universities—declining black enrollment. Now in a conundrum, the universities
are trying to figure out how to increase URM enrollments; but how do you do
this when you continue to guarantee spots to the top 20 percent of high school
graduates from a warped and biased educational system? How does this “pool of
graduates” help your cause, better yet, Florida minorities; especially when the
state has such a poor minority graduation record? Mr. Samuel’s article (and
data) appears to indicate that it has done exactly the opposite; negating and dismissing
the state’s brutal fact about its current
reality
as noted in the Tampa Bay 2011 article, “Florida
ranks at bottom for graduation rate of black men
”.
Perhaps the executive order would have been better served by
not restricting opportunities for those where the playing fields are not level, but by establishing ways to
improve and retain Florida’s graduation rates where the playing fields could be level.
The basis of the Conservative Principle and the relevancy of
Affirmative Action today, have fueled many a great debates. However, one must
be cognizant of the fact that Affirmative Action policies and practices were
put in place for a reason; a reason accepted by individuals who understood the brutal facts about their environment.

 

Author, R.L. Byrd

R.L. Byrd was born in the coastal town of Brunswick, Georgia, in a time where America and the South was growing and evolving. His early upbringing there, would shape his world not only as a person, but as a writer.

His passion for writing was delayed by a similar passion for Architecture which he pursued by obtaining a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1992.

After many years of carrying stories, characters and images in his mind, R. L. found them revisiting him on a more frequent basis as the years rolled by; and beginning in 2007, it wasn’t a day that went by that the pull to write didn’t lure him back to the pen and paper. Looking for Sweet Love (2010) was his debut novel, followed by the sequelBlack Coffee (2012, reissued in 2014).

He is currently working on his third novel, The Art of Scandal (a story inspired by true events), scheduled to be released soon.
For More Information

Connect with R.L. on Twitter and Facebook

Find out more about R.L. at his website

 

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Guest Post from Elle Emtage, author of Gray Skies

 


Title: Gray Skies

Author: Elle Emtage

Publisher: iUniverse

Pages: 170

Genre: Romance

Format: Ebook

Purchase at AMAZON

Dunstan’s dashing good looks, thriving business and exotic lifestyle made him one of the world’s most sought after bachelors; but none of this seemed to quell Dunstan’s desire for Destiny. As their courtship evolves their romance is woven from a tapestry of classical beauty and romantic places in the orange light of the Tuscan sun. To Destiny, her life once filled with endless days of meetings and long nights alone is now full of life and love in a whirlwind romance.

In the midst of their developing relationship however, tragedy rips them apart and she discovers a thread in time which links their existence to an unbelievable possibility. This possibility threatens their very existence, but Dunstan, fueled by his love, will stop at nothing until he reclaims what he has lost. A fantasy romance novel, Gray Skies demonstrates how true love can even overcome obstacles set by the universe.

 

amazon

Guest Post – Gray
Skies
As I’ve gone through life’s celebrations and challenges I’ve
come to the undeniable realization – Writing is in my DNA. My adventures are colored
in verse and rhyme, my thoughts are painted on a canvas of imagination and
experiences born in day and night dreams. I see events in words.
My writing is tempered by my emotions. If I’m not in a good
place then I can’t write – which is ironic because writing takes me to that
‘good place’. Very often I have to push myself to a chair to calm the thoughts
exploding in my head by putting them in print. Each and every time as soon as
my fingers touch the keyboard or finger the leaf of my journal (yes I actually
prefer a good old pen and paper) my initial hesitation disappears as if there
was never a cause for concern. So what happens when I can’t write? I write!
Writing is therapeutic for me. It soothes. It calms. It
provides the passageway into the recesses of imagination where life is
exciting, adventurous, predictably unpredictable, passionate, thrilling – I
guess all the things that real life (for me anyway) isn’t. Not that I’m unhappy
with who I am – I’m just overwhelmingly happy that I have an avenue that allows
me to escape into a fantastic reality without the use of any vices – a win-win
for me I think.
I’ve been asked on many
occasions – “Why have you decided to publish at this stage in your life? And
why a romance novel? That seems so unlike you!” And I had to sit back and
really ask myself the same question but with a twist – why on earth did I take so long to bring a dream
birthed in me from early childhood to fruition? What did I use to validate me
turning away from the path that made sense? I came up with a host of reasons:
1.       There
are so many writers out there – competing on the global arena will be tough…
2.       Agents
aren’t going to sign unknown writers, far less will big publishing houses…(and
from the Caribbean?)
3.       How
can I make a living, achieve the ‘things in life’ on peanuts?
4.       Can
people really get immersed in my style of writing?
5.       Do
people even really believe in real romance or true love anymore?
…And the list went on and
on….until I came to one important realization – if I didn’t live my dream,
or at least try at it, how would I know how successful I could have
been? And what is the measure of success? For me – it was turning the
pages of my very first novel and realizing that everything that I feared –
whether real or not – that the look on someone’s face when they get lost in the
characters and their lives made it all worth it.   And dare I say? This is
enough….
And so the birth of Dunstan and
Destiny and their fantastic tale of their lives and love. Gray Skies Gray Skies
is a wonderful page turner, centered on the characters Dunstan Moab and Destiny
Tallum. Dunstan’s dashing good looks, thriving business and exotic lifestyle
made him one of the worlds most sought after bachelors; but none of this seemed
to matter to quell Dunstan’s desire for Destiny. Gray Skies is weaved from a
tapestry of classical beauty and romantic places in the orange light of the
Tuscan sun. To Destiny, her life once filled with endless days of meetings and
long nights alone is now full of life and love in a whirlwind romance.
In the midst of their developing
relationship, however, tragedy rips them apart and she discovers a thread in
time which links their existence to an unbelievable possibility. This
possibility threatens their very existence, but Dunstan fueled by his
love, will stop at nothing until he reclaims what he has lost. A fantasy
romance novel, Gray Skies demonstrates how true love can even overcome
obstacles set by the universe.

 

 

Elle Emtage is a business professional and has been published in several media houses. Elle’s passion for writing has transformed throughout the years and she is sharing her love of romance and intrigue through the début of this novel. Elle and her family consider themselves fortunate to live on the beautiful island of Barbados.

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The Actor by Douglas Gardham Book Feature

The Actor Banner


The-Actor-200x300_resized_optTitle:
 The Actor
Author: Douglas Gardham
Publisher: iUniverse
Pages: 352
Genre: Fiction
Format: Ebook

Purchase at AMAZON

It is 1991 when Ethan Jones finally wins the role of his dreams in an upcoming, big screen movie. With the envelope holding the script clutched in his hand, he arrives at his California apartment where he can hardly wait to tell his girlfriend the exciting news. But when he finds the door unexpectedly ajar, he has no idea that in just a few seconds, the life he has fought so hard to obtain will be shattered.

Eight years earlier, Ethan is attending university in Ottawa, Canada. One evening after seriously contemplating suicide, he finds his way into a club where he meets Mila Monahan, a beautiful acting student who saves him from himself. After he watches Mila rehearse a university play, Ethan catches the acting bug and decides to pursue his own creative passions, causing a collision with his more secure ideals. But when Mila suddenly disappears, Ethan vows he will never stop chasing the dream she inspired in him, believing in a world entirely different from the one he is living in.

The Actor is a gripping tale of a young man’s unforgettable journey of self-discovery in overcoming the trauma of a personal tragedy. It is a story of love, hardship, persistence and overwhelming joy where The Actor learns he can portray anything he can imagine.

 

amazon

 

Douglas Gardham is a writer who loves music, movies, and books. He lives near Toronto, Canada, with his wife and dog. This is his first published novel.

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Finding the Guts to Write by Matt Shea

Meadowdale banner

The Meadowdale Community Project

Title: The Meadowdale Community Project

Author: Matt Shea

Publisher: Virtualbookworm.com Publishing

Pages: 233

Genre: Fiction/Family Life

Format: Paperback/Kindle

Demolition crews continue to raze abandoned and condemned structures in the sleepy town of Meadowdale – a city hit hard by the sluggish economy. A once-cherished building is now the dilapidated Meadowdale Community Center (MCC), where the handicapped and mentally-challenged sort recyclable materials and create artwork from refuse that catches their eye. This prompts many to consider the MCC a burial ground for lost causes. But a mysterious stranger in a wheelchair arrives and befriends an intellectually-challenged teen, Chase Mansfield. When the Community Center is condemned and Chase realizes the squirrel he feeds is about to become homeless, he comes up with an ingenious idea that changes his future – and the future of the community. Chase and his invention soon unite the entire city, breaking down barriers related to wealth, politics, age, mobility and intellect. In an age of fiction based on witchcraft, libido, and immorality, The Meadowdale Community Project is a family-friendly story for all ages, tastes and background.

For More Information

Finding The Guts To Write
By Matt Shea
Writing is a very personal way of extending oneself. It goes beyond the unique style that makes up our character. It also unveils our values based on what story line we create- and how we present it.
This is where the butterflies in my stomach come alive.
Q)  How often have we listened to a loved-one’s critique by hearing these immortal words?
                 “This sounds like you.”
A)   I believe every time.
Often, I’ve been somewhat chastised for how I went about presenting a story with,“This sounds like you,” being the first salvo.
Trust me; I’m the furthest thing from being perfect. For that very reason; I already have my personal struggles in life while trying to survive and make a difference. On occasion, the ‘peanut gallery’ will catch me on something legitimate like the correct spelling for the wrong word- or that misspelled one that should have be caught early.
We’re all human…
When presenting a manuscript that consists of thousands of words- and a subject matter that you-yourself selected; it’s a given to find at least a few kinks somewhere. Blemishes that range from gray areas- to outcries for not being politically correct await.
Our writing style is much like our fingerprints: it’s all one-of-a-kind and varies from person to person. It is tailor-made with our distinct methods of conveying a story that we feel must be told. Our way of drawing attention to a special cause or injustice.
Writing creates a different kind of double-edged sword that the author now faces. One that works both ways against him(her). Let me explain:
Each and every one of us lives in a world where we are condemned to be ‘imperfect’. Hence; we are all different. Strike one.
To compound things even further; we have an unlimited amount of tools at our fingertips. Words, verb tenses, sentence structures, phrases and a galaxy of other literary assets that are just waiting to be pieced together. An assembly that’s guaranteed to be different than the selection others would have used. Strike two.
A writer must convey their story within a guide line where others can easily understand. This is where it gets tricky. On one hand; we need to be correct with our writing skills. On the other; we must  ‘think outside of the box’. It’s crucial to finesse this effort in such a way where it becomes different than the other stuff out there. After going through the mill a few times; one questions if it’s even possible to write a story that will never have any backlash…
A famous editor named, Don Carter once explained to me that an author’s work can be edited over and over again by the experts. Since that’s the case; he stressed that a writer should simply take a deep breath and write how they truly feel.
At one of my writing groups we had the honor of having Jim Fisher join us. Jim is a seasoned editor who now teaches at a local community college. In class he addressed this issue by breaking it down with his genius. After the group went back and forth about ‘proper writing’ he had something to say:
“Ninety percent of acceptable writing is simply having a good story line.”
I was relieved to hear that because when I first broke into writing I felt like the game Pong. It was a frustrating ‘one ore in the water’ affair that resembled Abbott and Costello’s Who’s on First. It seemed whenever I followed the advice of one editor; it came under attack by another.
Things began to get better. It was pointed out to me that famous writers also receive their well-publicized criticism. Successful writers who have the following of millions.
My goal as a writer isn’t to become rich and famous. It’s to simply improve while I try my best to inspire others. Writing is my passion.
As a developing author it was a relief to find    that I was best off just being, ‘Matt’. This discovery allowed me to go forth and get my stories out there. It then put me into a league where I may not bat a thousand; but did find those who appreciated what I had to say; and how I said it. More important; there were those who met me half-way and gave their constructive criticism and encouragement.
It’s nerve-wracking to present your writings to the whole world. Such presentations are a way for an author to say, “Regardless of my imperfections; here is what I have to say and please love me for it.”
In closing, I am grateful to have taken the path I took to get published. My focus is to profile the unsung hero in society who catches the ball when needed. On a more personal note; my accomplishments and shortcomings never once had anyone question where my heart is. For that reason; I’ll continue to write win or lose.
 Thank you:
                                Matt Shea

Matt Shea

Matt Shea writes stories that are designed for both young and old. He profiles the average person in society that’s a little different or misunderstood. Matt also writes about the plight of those who are mentally disabled and senior citizens. He exposes their personal battles in life; with values being challenged- but never compromised.

When it’s all said and done such individuals are recognized for being a contribution to society. They also achieve their just reward: appreciation followed by acceptance.

His characters are nothing more than average people that represent all walks of life. People like you and me. Matt loves feedback from those that take the time to read his stories. He offers his email address and promises to do his very best to answer all who write him.
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Finding the Guts to Write by Matt Shea, author of The Meadowdale Community Project

Meadowdale banner

The Meadowdale Community Project

Title: The Meadowdale Community Project

Author: Matt Shea

Publisher: Virtualbookworm.com Publishing

Pages: 233

Genre: Fiction/Family Life

Format: Paperback/Kindle

Demolition crews continue to raze abandoned and condemned structures in the sleepy town of Meadowdale – a city hit hard by the sluggish economy. A once-cherished building is now the dilapidated Meadowdale Community Center (MCC), where the handicapped and mentally-challenged sort recyclable materials and create artwork from refuse that catches their eye. This prompts many to consider the MCC a burial ground for lost causes. But a mysterious stranger in a wheelchair arrives and befriends an intellectually-challenged teen, Chase Mansfield. When the Community Center is condemned and Chase realizes the squirrel he feeds is about to become homeless, he comes up with an ingenious idea that changes his future – and the future of the community. Chase and his invention soon unite the entire city, breaking down barriers related to wealth, politics, age, mobility and intellect. In an age of fiction based on witchcraft, libido, and immorality, The Meadowdale Community Project is a family-friendly story for all ages, tastes and background.

For More Information

Finding The Guts To Write
By Matt Shea
Writing is a very personal way of extending oneself. It goes beyond the unique style that makes up our character. It also unveils our values based on what story line we create- and how we present it.
This is where the butterflies in my stomach come alive.
Q)  How often have we listened to a loved-one’s critique by hearing these immortal words?
                 “This sounds like you.”
A)   I believe every time.
Often, I’ve been somewhat chastised for how I went about presenting a story with,“This sounds like you,” being the first salvo.
Trust me; I’m the furthest thing from being perfect. For that very reason; I already have my personal struggles in life while trying to survive and make a difference. On occasion, the ‘peanut gallery’ will catch me on something legitimate like the correct spelling for the wrong word- or that misspelled one that should have be caught early.
We’re all human…
When presenting a manuscript that consists of thousands of words- and a subject matter that you-yourself selected; it’s a given to find at least a few kinks somewhere. Blemishes that range from gray areas- to outcries for not being politically correct await.
Our writing style is much like our fingerprints: it’s all one-of-a-kind and varies from person to person. It is tailor-made with our distinct methods of conveying a story that we feel must be told. Our way of drawing attention to a special cause or injustice.
Writing creates a different kind of double-edged sword that the author now faces. One that works both ways against him(her). Let me explain:
Each and every one of us lives in a world where we are condemned to be ‘imperfect’. Hence; we are all different. Strike one.
To compound things even further; we have an unlimited amount of tools at our fingertips. Words, verb tenses, sentence structures, phrases and a galaxy of other literary assets that are just waiting to be pieced together. An assembly that’s guaranteed to be different than the selection others would have used. Strike two.
A writer must convey their story within a guide line where others can easily understand. This is where it gets tricky. On one hand; we need to be correct with our writing skills. On the other; we must  ‘think outside of the box’. It’s crucial to finesse this effort in such a way where it becomes different than the other stuff out there. After going through the mill a few times; one questions if it’s even possible to write a story that will never have any backlash…
A famous editor named, Don Carter once explained to me that an author’s work can be edited over and over again by the experts. Since that’s the case; he stressed that a writer should simply take a deep breath and write how they truly feel.
At one of my writing groups we had the honor of having Jim Fisher join us. Jim is a seasoned editor who now teaches at a local community college. In class he addressed this issue by breaking it down with his genius. After the group went back and forth about ‘proper writing’ he had something to say:
“Ninety percent of acceptable writing is simply having a good story line.”
I was relieved to hear that because when I first broke into writing I felt like the game Pong. It was a frustrating ‘one ore in the water’ affair that resembled Abbott and Costello’s Who’s on First. It seemed whenever I followed the advice of one editor; it came under attack by another.
Things began to get better. It was pointed out to me that famous writers also receive their well-publicized criticism. Successful writers who have the following of millions.
My goal as a writer isn’t to become rich and famous. It’s to simply improve while I try my best to inspire others. Writing is my passion.
As a developing author it was a relief to find    that I was best off just being, ‘Matt’. This discovery allowed me to go forth and get my stories out there. It then put me into a league where I may not bat a thousand; but did find those who appreciated what I had to say; and how I said it. More important; there were those who met me half-way and gave their constructive criticism and encouragement.
It’s nerve-wracking to present your writings to the whole world. Such presentations are a way for an author to say, “Regardless of my imperfections; here is what I have to say and please love me for it.”
In closing, I am grateful to have taken the path I took to get published. My focus is to profile the unsung hero in society who catches the ball when needed. On a more personal note; my accomplishments and shortcomings never once had anyone question where my heart is. For that reason; I’ll continue to write win or lose.
 Thank you:
                                Matt Shea

Matt Shea

Matt Shea writes stories that are designed for both young and old. He profiles the average person in society that’s a little different or misunderstood. Matt also writes about the plight of those who are mentally disabled and senior citizens. He exposes their personal battles in life; with values being challenged- but never compromised.

When it’s all said and done such individuals are recognized for being a contribution to society. They also achieve their just reward: appreciation followed by acceptance.

His characters are nothing more than average people that represent all walks of life. People like you and me. Matt loves feedback from those that take the time to read his stories. He offers his email address and promises to do his very best to answer all who write him.
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Guest Blog from Kevin D. Patterson, author of Small, Dark, and Handsome

Small Dark and Handsome banner


Small Dark and HandsomeTitle
: Small, Dark, and Handsome
Author: Kevin D. Patterson
Publisher: Dark Peak Publishing
Pages: 270
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Ethan Anderson desperately wants to find his soulmate and he’s convinced that his height of 5’6″ is limiting his options. Not wanting to end up like his friends with shallow lives filled with clubs and one-night stands, Ethan turns to a popular dating website where he connects with Anna Collins, a born-again Christian who just may be the woman he’s been looking for. But, when she’s ready for a committed relationship, will Ethan be able to ignore his friends, abide by Anna’s celibate lifestyle, and look beyond her five-inch height advantage to see a future with her before she gives up and moves on?

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WHAT IS SMALL, DARK, AND HANDSOME ABOUT?

Small, Dark, and Handsome is a romantic comedy about Ethan Anderson, a guy who desperately wants to find his soulmate. Historically, he hasn’t had much luck with love, and at 5’6″, he’s always felt that his height (or lack thereof) has limited his options. He knows that he doesn’t want to end up like his friends who are obsessed with clubs and one-night stands, so Ethan takes a different path and tries his luck with online dating. Eventually, through a popular dating site, he connects with Anna Collins, a born-again Christian who just may be the woman he’s been looking for. But, when it’s time for a commitment, Ethan has to decide if he can resist his misguided friends, abide by Anna’s celibate lifestyle, and look beyond her five-inch height advantage to see a future with her before she gives up and moves on.

I actually came up with this story way back when I used to hit the social scene and occasionally found myself spending more time observing guys in their often humorous attempts to pursue women, than focusing on my own pursuits. Throughout the years, I must have witnessed countless conversations between men and women of all shapes, sizes, and ethnicities in these environments, but I rarely saw any interactions between women and shorter men. When I started kicking around the idea about my novel with some female friends a few years ago, most of them were split about the importance of having a taller mate, but one thing was clear, a shorter guy was simply out of the question. I guess I took that as a direct challenge to create a compelling romantic comedy centered on a couple that deals with this unique height disparity, but must also overcome a host of other important issues that emerge throughout the story in order to find true happiness together.

So, that’s “what this book is about.” I sincerely hope that you get a chance to check it out, and if you’re the try-before-I-buy type, I’d encourage you to read a free chapter or two at your favorite eBook store. Last thing – In case you’re wondering, the story’s not about me. I’m 5’10” and a half, although a friend of mine told me long ago that people who add the half inch to their height, usually have some issues in that area. 🙂

Kevin PattersonKevin D. Patterson is an experienced marketing writer and has developed communications for many of today’s leading brands, including HP, American Express, Oracle, and Deloitte. After much encouragement from friends and family, he decided to pursue his passion for creative writing, and the end result was his debut fiction novel, Small, Dark, and Handsome. Kevin was born and raised in San Francisco, CA, and has also lived in Michigan, New York, and overseas in India. He currently lives in Plano, Texas with his wife and son. A graduate of the University of Michigan’s MBA program, Kevin is an avid sports fan and tennis player. You can keep up with Kevin and his upcoming projects at http://www.kevindpatterson.com

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How to Write a Novel Despite Your Day Job by Pamela Samuels Young, author of ‘Anybody’s Daughter’

ABOUT ANYBODY’S DAUGHTER


Anybody's DaughterTitle
: Anybody’s Daughter
Author: Pamela Samuels Young
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Publisher: Goldman House Publishing
Pages: 376

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Is Anybody’s Daughter Ever Safe?

Based on the real-life horrors faced by thousands of girls, award-winning author Pamela Samuels Young takes readers deep inside the disturbing world of child sex trafficking in a fast-paced thriller that educates as much as it entertains.

The opening chapter of Anybody’s Daughter introduces readers to thirteen-year-old Brianna Walker. She’s ecstatic because she’s about to sneak off to meet her first real boyfriend—a boyfriend she met on Facebook. But Brianna is in for a horrifying surprise because her boyfriend doesn’t exist. Instead, Brianna unwittingly becomes the captive of a ring of drug dealers-turned-human traffickers who prey on lonely girls from dysfunctional homes. But they’ve made a big mistake in targeting Brianna because she doesn’t meet either of those criteria.

Brianna’s Uncle Dre, a man with his own criminal past, is determined to find the niece who is more like a daughter to him. Rather than sit back and rely on police to bring Brianna home, Dre scours the dark corners of Los Angeles looking for her. He is stunned to learn that the trafficking of children isn’t just happening in other countries. It’s occurring at epidemic levels right in his own backyard.

Dre is not alone in his desperate search. Loretha Johnson knows this world well. A social worker who previously lived “the life,” Loretha now dedicates her time to saving as many young girls as she can find. She turns out to be an invaluable resource for Dre, who ultimately gets a lead on The Shepherd, a mastermind in the trafficking world whose every move is fueled by ego and greed. Dre vows to bring The Shepherd’s reign of terror to an end, even if he has to break the law to do it.

While Brianna makes a futile effort to thwart her captors, Dre is getting closer and closer to finding her. The woman he loves, attorney Angela Evans, knows the dangers faced by sexually exploited children because she represents them in juvenile court. Angela lends her moral support and, eventually, an important clue to Brianna’s whereabouts.

As he races against the clock, Dre ultimately comes up with a daring plan—one that puts many lives in danger, including his own. But will he find Brianna before it’s too late?

Kirkus Reviews called Anybody’s Daughter “A fast-paced, well-written thriller that’s grounded in important social issues.”

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How to Write a Novel Despite Your Day Job

I’m often asked how I’ve managed to write four novels while still practicing law. Simply put, writing is my passion. I love creating characters and stories with lots of unexpected twists and turns. That doesn’t mean it’s been easy. Balancing a demanding day job, my family life and my writing career have required lots of sacrifice and hard work. I’ve done it and you can do it too. Here are my top five tips for writing a novel despite your day job.

1. Prepare a Writing Schedule and Stick to It. 

Writing a novel is a daunting venture. You have to commit to making it happen. Plan your writing time the same way you plan your schedule at work. I usually plan my writing schedule for the week on Sunday evenings. Whether you have five hours of writing time or just an hour, plan your writing schedule in advance and stick to it.

2. Outline Your Novel.

You can save a great deal of time by thinking your story through from beginning to end before you start writing. You don’t have to prepare an elaborate outline, just jot down enough to serve as a reliable road map. And don’t worry about hampering your creativity. I’ve never written an outline that’s exactly the same as my final draft. My outline is just the map that gets me going. I always venture off course.

3. Start Writing, Without Rewriting Until You Have a First Draft. 

Don’t worry about producing a perfect manuscript the first time around. Just get through a solid first draft of your manuscript. When I start a new book, I make few, if any, revisions along the way. Once I get to the end, then I go back and spend as long as I need (usually a few months) perfecting my prose. The writing is in the rewriting.

4. Use Your Passive Time to Further Your Novel. 

Don’t forget that writing a novel also involves thinking about your plot and characters. Even when you’re away from your computer, mull over your story. I often work out plot lines when I’m stuck in traffic on the freeway, in the shower, in the beauty shop or waiting in the doctor’s office.

5. Ask Your Friends and Family for their Support. 

Writing is a lonely venture which requires you to be selfish with your time. Share your goals with those closest to you and ask for their support. Also, try to incorporate your family whenever you can. I often write about real places in Los Angeles. Once I’ve completed a solid draft of my manuscript, my husband drives me all over the city to visit the places I’ve described in my book to make sure I’ve described them accurately. It’s always a fun day and it gets him involved in the book.

Remember that writing is a creative process. One size does not fit all. Some of the recommendations above may work for you, some may not. Use those that work and ignore or tweak the ones that don’t so that they fit your needs. Above all, just keep writing!

ABOUT PAMELA SAMUELS YOUNG

When attorney and author Pamela Samuels Young isn’t practicing law, you can usually find her penning her next legal thriller. Described by one reviewer as “John Grisham with a sister’s twist,” Pamela is an award-winning author of six novels.

Pamela has always abided by the philosophy that you create the change you want to see. Fed up with never seeing women or people of color depicted as savvy, hot shot attorneys in the legal thrillers she read, the Compton native decided to create her own characters. Despite the demands of a busy legal career, Pamela accomplished her ambitious goal by getting up at four in the morning to write before work, dedicating her weekends to writing and even spending her vacation time glued to her laptop for ten or more hours a day. In the process, she discovered her passion.

Her debut novel, Every Reasonable Doubt (2006), won the Black Expressions Book Club’s Fiction Writing Contest, received an honorable mention in the SEAK Legal Fiction Writing Competition and was a finalist for USA Book News’ Best Books of 2006 awards in the mystery, suspense and thriller category. Her second novel, In Firm Pursuit (2007), was honored by Romantic Times magazine as a finalist for Best African-American Novel of 2007. Murder on the Down Low (2008), Pamela’s third release, was an “Editor’s Pick” by Black Expressions magazine and a finalist for the 2009 African-American Literary Awards in the fiction category. The Black Caucus of the American Library Association honored Pamela’s fourth novel, Buying Time (2009), with its 2010 Fiction Award, calling the book “a captivating, suspenseful thriller.” Attorney-Client Privilege (2012) was Pamela’s fifth legal thriller, followed by Anybody’s Daughter (2013), which examines the shocking world of child sex trafficking.

The prolific writer has also penned the short stories Easy Money, featured in the anthology Scoundrels: Tales of Greed, Murder and Financial Crimes (2012) and Setup, selected for the Sisters in Crime anthology, LAndmarked for Murder (2006).

A former journalist, Pamela began her broadcasting career with WXYZ-TV in Detroit and later worked as a news writer and associate producer for KCBS-TV in Los Angeles. Burned out by the news business, Pamela took a big and scary step a few months before her 30th birthday and entered law school—a long-held dream. Pamela currently moonlights as a mystery writer while working full-time as Managing Counsel for Labor and Employment Law for a major corporation in Southern California, specializing in employment law and social media law. Prior to that, she served as Employment Law Counsel for Raytheon Company and spent several years as an associate with the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers, LLP, in Los Angeles.

A graduate of UC Berkeley’s School of Law, Pamela has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from USC and a master’s degree in broadcasting from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. She formerly served on the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles chapter of Mystery Writers of America and is a diehard member of Sisters in Crime-L.A., an organization dedicated to the advancement of women mystery writers. A graduate of Compton High School, Pamela lives in the Los Angeles area and attends Hope in Christ Community Church in Compton.

Pamela is a frequent speaker on the topics of fiction writing, discrimination law and pursuing your passion. To read an excerpt of Pamela’s books or to schedule her for a speaking engagement or book club meeting via speakerphone, Skype, FaceTime or in person, visit her website at www.pamelasamuelsyoung.com or email her at authorpamelasamuelsyoung@gmail.com.

 

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