Sunday, October 16, 2011

Life is truly beautiful!

A few weeks back I posted about needing an ass kicking jaw jarring jolt to get myself out of the funky doldrums that I was stuck in. I'm beyond pleased to say that things are on such a positive high for me right now.

First off, the new position! I have toiled in the trenches for five and a half years, 2 1/2 in the current position, wondering when I was going to get back on my feet. I am on loan to A/P for another week and then it is off to the Global Mobility Department and to learn to be an expense analyst. The challenge is big for this job, the chance to grow in the department is also big. I am ready for it!

It also means that I will be able to get out on my own again. And that is an exciting prospect for me! I have already begun the apartment hunt. It won't happen until January, but I need to get plans rolling. Besides I need living room furniture (I have leather furniture which I hate and do NOT want to take to another place).

I have surrounded myself with a fabulous support system and some absolutely incredible friends.

I see a new year approaching and instead of beating myself up over what have I achieved, I see that I have actually taken huge steps forward and am ready to greet 2012. (I am ready to celebrate the rest of 2011, too.)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Guest Post: Inspired From The Heart by author, Heather Hummel


Inspired from the Heart

Heather Hummel

I was just nine years old when I had open heart surgery. As a third grader, this was naturally quite traumatic, especially in 1974 when medical advances weren’t near what they are today. I missed a significant amount of school due to the surgery and recovery. And yet, the fall of ‘74 signifies my earliest memory of focusing on being a writer. Certainly my writings were youthful in nature. Some were journal entries; some were short stories and poems. Yet, these were the beginnings of my interest in writing, and signified the pieces that I shared with the one writer who inspired me.

My grandmother, Dorothy Crispo, was not your typical fuzzy-top, spaghetti making grandmother. She was a dynamic, international traveler and business woman who spent much of her youth and early adult life in the 1940’s through ‘60’s between California, New York and South America. But it wasn’t until she put her suitcase down and picked up a pen that her writing career was defined. Though she penned two books, it was her gag writing that set her apart from other writers. As one of the top “gag writers” in New York City in the ‘40s and ‘50s, she wrote a newspaper column titled Dear Dorothy that was akin to Ann Landers, but with a saucy, spunky twist. The top cartoonists of those times sought her out as their gag writer for their submissions to periodicals such as the Saturday Evening Post. Her gag writing even launched the careers of comedians such as Joan Rivers.

It was this writer, Mima to me, who inspired me because she didn’t conform to one genre. She wrote from the heart, using wit and substance at the core. With seven fluent languages to her tongue, Mima,a stunning, elegant blond, whose wit was as sharp as her wardrobe was later a translator in the California court systems, hence her book How to Speak Everyday Spanish. Mima wrote about topics that inspired her, and in turn, that is what has inspired me.

There are authors who influence us, and there are authors who inspire us. Quite a distinct difference. For example, John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley is a book, among two others, that has influenced my newest novel $1 and $100. When $1 and $100 is published, I will be traveling much like Steinbeck did to talk to people of all walks of life about $1 and $100’s theme: how do you relate to money? Like Steinbeck, I too will be on a cross country voyage with my dogs (my eighth, their fourth), as I develop a documentary to balance the novel’s message.

As someone who has been inspired to follow her heart as a writer, I have taken on projects that range from my own novels to celebrity ghostwriting to my own nonfiction book. My career started out when I became a feature writer for a family magazine something I did while I taught high school English. Since those days, I have managed to find consistency in the seeming melting-pot of my career. I, like my grandmother, write from the heart. And, this governing theme became the core of my novel’s series…Journals from the Heart. The first two novels WHISPERS FROM THE HEART and WRITE FROM THE HEART focus on journal writing from the heart. From a high school English teacher who inspires her students through journal writing (WHISPERS) to a single woman who uses her journals as a reflection on lost loves and as anticipation of her future (WRITE), the essence of writing from the heart remains pure.



Certainly there are modern day authors whom I respect many whose works I’ve read, enjoyed and have even been influenced by. But, since I was inspired at an age and a time when I didn’t know if I would even see my teen years (due to my heart condition), let alone excel in adulthood as an author, the role model of my grandmother during my youth is singly my one inspiration.

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Thank you, Heather, for such a beautiful guest post. And thank you to Samantha, as always, for inviting me to participate in this blog tour.

Heather Hummel is the author of the Journals from the Heart Series. She is an award winning author and celebrity ghostwriter.
Her published works include:
Journals from the Heart Series: Whispers from the Heart (2011 eBook) and Write from the Heart (2011 eBook)
Nonfiction: GO BIKE & Other Signs from the Universe (2011 eBook) and Gracefully: Looking and Being Your Best at Any Age (McGraw Hill, 2008), - Merit Award of the 2009 Mature Media Awards,

Heather's books have appeared in newspapers such as: Publishers Weekly, USA Today and the Washington Post; and in magazines that include: Body & Soul, First, and Spry Living, a combined circulation of nearly 15 million.Visit Heather at her website
You can also find her at:
Heather on Twitter
Heather on Facebook

Leave a comment on Heather's blog tour page to be entered to win a $10 gift card to Amazon: Blog Tour Page
If you purchase your copy of Whispers from the Heart from October 7- 31 and send your receipt to Samantha (at) ChickLitPlus (dot) com, you will get five bonus entries!**

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Review: Whispers from the Heart by Heather Hummel



Whispers: The heart's way of speaking...

Madison Ragnar is a high school English teacher determined to connect with her students, to finish the next running race with a respectable time, and to avoid ever falling in love again.

But life has other plans for Madison. A man named Michael shows himself in the most unexpected places, raising questions from her best friend, Olivia, and issues around Madison's last relationship.

In the classroom, the death of a student prompts her grieving ninth graders to depend on her for answers. They turn to journal writing as a form of understanding the weight of what's happened in the walls of their teenage existence.

When Madison meets Phil, who throws a wrench in her declaration to not fall in love, it seems that her escape through miles of running is the only real footing she has in life.

Will fate determine Madison's life? Or will she have a say in its outcome?


I have to admit that this is a hard review for me to write up. I have started and re-started it numerous times over the last couple of days. There is so much I want to say and yet have to be very careful what I am saying so as not to spoil the book."Go read this book" doesn't do it the justice it deserves. Heather Hummel has wrote such a heartfelt and touching book. Madison Ragnar was such an intriguing character. One of those that made you want to hug her and tell her it is going to be okay.

I really loved that Madison's past was not delved too deeply into, just enough to let you know that there was a bad relationship and that Madison wasn't willing to put her heart into another situation where she could get hurt. I admit that I was very leery of Michael's presence and each time he showed up I kept waiting for a big bombshell. When it was finally revealed I have to honestly say I never expected it. And Phil...where in real life is a man like him? Because I am calling dibs on him! The swerve of the love story was handled so rationally. I don't know if I could have handled it that way, but I liked it.

The death of the student was handled delicately and it was heartbreaking. It showed so much strength in Madison to keep herself in control and not fall apart in front of the children in the classroom.

If you want a book that is going to pull at your heart in numerous directions, this is the book for you. I cried, I cheered for Madison to find herself, and I smiled as she learned to trust herself to love again. This is the first of a trilogy and I'm anxious to read the next book and find what Heather has in store for her readers.


Heather Hummel is the author of the Journals from the Heart Series. She is an award winning author and celebrity ghostwriter.
Her published works include:
Journals from the Heart Series: Whispers from the Heart (2011 eBook) and Write from the Heart (2011 eBook)
Nonfiction: GO BIKE & Other Signs from the Universe (2011 eBook) and Gracefully: Looking and Being Your Best at Any Age (McGraw Hill, 2008), - Merit Award of the 2009 Mature Media Awards,

Heather's books have appeared in newspapers such as: Publishers Weekly, USA Today and the Washington Post; and in magazines that include: Body & Soul, First, and Spry Living, a combined circulation of nearly 15 million.Visit Heather at her website
You can also find her at:
Heather on Twitter
Heather on Facebook

Leave a comment on Heather's blog tour page to be entered to win a $10 gift card to Amazon: Blog Tour Page
If you purchase your copy of Whispers from the Heart from October 7- 31 and send your receipt to Samantha (at) ChickLitPlus (dot) com, you will get five bonus entries!**

Monday, October 10, 2011

Island Time!

After working my morning away on a Saturday, I was in need of a little “island get-away”. And Hula’s Modern Tiki was just the place! I don’t remember where I had heard about this restaurant from, but have been dying to try it for a couple of weeks. It does not disappoint!

The d├ęcor is very Hawaiian and fun. As you can see from the awesome Tiki statues that lined the shelves above the tables. I wanted to take one home with me, in fact. (Cue images of “The Brady Bunch” in Hawaii and Oliver, the Tiki God, they had to return.)



One thing to be careful of is the time you are there. On Saturday and Sundays they only serve brunch, a very limited menu, from 10:30AM – ???. I ended up choosing the Kona coffee battered French toast with apple and plantain compote, bacon, and a side of scrambled eggs. Tina ended up getting a Caesar salad and lobster bisque and Abby had the macaroni and cheese.



Delicious!! For the price ($10 for the French toast and bacon and $1.50 for the eggs) it was a great deal. I had never had a plantain before and while it wasn’t my favorite taste, it was pretty good cooked up with the apples. I had a bite of the lobster bisque as well and that was also pretty tasty. Abby liked her mac and cheese, but she wasn’t overly fond of the truffle oil. She much preferred the Caesar salad as she kept eating from Tina’s.

The only complaint I had with the whole day was the fact that our waitress was extremely slow. After waiting for 20 minutes for her to bring back the check, which time we had NO idea where she had disappeared to, we called for a manager who took care of us.

I am definitely planning to go back, preferably at night so I can try something off of the delicious dinner menu.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Ummm...Guess what?

I GOT THE JOB!!!

*twirls around*

Ouch, that makes me too dizzy!

After five weeks of interviews, the job was offered to me. I'm still at the same company but moving into a different position.

To say that I am thrilled is an understatement!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Interview with Author, JF Kristin



1 - Did you always aspire to be a writer?

I've been writing since very early childhood, and before I could write stories down myself, I used to tell them to my parents. So yes, definitely! Reading and creative writing were my favorite parts of elementary school. While Rock Star's Girl is my debut novel, if you asked my parents, they'd probably tell you that it was really a short novel I wrote as a kid about the adventures of four dogs named Clover, Flower, Grass, and Leaf.



2 - Who or what has been your biggest inspiration?

Writing-wise, my biggest inspiration is anyone out there who launches a book, whether they're doing so independently or through a publisher. There is so much more that goes into getting a book out there into the world than completing that first draft. In terms of being part of the arts world, my biggest inspiration is everyone out there who follows their bliss and creates because they love it. Kudos to all of you.

Life-wise, my parents have been my biggest inspiration. They've encouraged my writing for my entire life, and always taught me that there are no limitations to what I can do. Their support and love have inspired me in all parts of my life, for my entire life.


3 - The rock star girlfriend dream is one that many women have at some point in their lives. Who was your rock star crush?


Although I've dated a few musicians, I'm not sure I've ever had a rock star crush -- actually, that's not true. When I was 16, I did have a rock star crush on the keyboard player in a Canadian band that will not be named, because a friend ended up becoming part of that band years later and so I've since met him! I think it was all about his hair. I will fully admit that I used to have a thing for rock star hair.

Right now I jokingly say I have a writer crush (not rock star crush) on Mikel Jollett of The Airborne Toxic Event. By that I mean that I have the utmost respect for him as a writer. Back in April, I ended up at a show the band did at the Troubadour in West Hollywood, and before that night, knew all of two songs by them. By the time they played a song called "All For A Woman" that night, I was hooked on the band's lyrics. Not long after, I was looking up something online and came across an article Jollett had written several years before the band's existence. To say his writing blew me away is an understatement. He has an ability to paint scenes, images, and stories with words that is remarkable and very rare.



4 - Have you thought about going back and telling more of this story? What further predicaments Emily can get herself into?

Given that Emily lives in L.A., there is probably no shortage of predicaments she can get herself into. The city is a non-stop adventure. I haven't thought about revisiting Emily yet, although I have had thoughts about two other "rock star" books involving different characters and entirely different aspects of the music world.



5 - How did you celebrate the selling of your first book?

I think I let myself have a nap, and the celebration happened the next weekend after I'd caught up on sleep and more books were sold. The days leading up to launching a book are incredibly busy, or at least they were for me. Because of that, and because I'm out celebrating friends' birthdays or other events, or going to concerts or comedy shows, or just meeting up with friends all the time, I think sleep can feel like celebrating!



6 - What's your advice for writers just starting out in terms of dealing with rejection?

Don't take rejection personally, and understand that writing is a business. If someone passes on your work, that isn't an agent or editor or publisher rejecting you personally, or even necessarily your writing skill. The last few years haven't produced an easy economy to work with, which can also make the writing world more of a challenge for new writers. Just keep writing, and believing in your writing, but also listen to any feedback agents, editors, other writers, and your readers take the time to give you.



7 – If you were to make your book into a movie, who is your dream cast?

I think I need a month of catching up on recently-released movies to truly answer this! The last year and a half has been really busy, so I haven't kept up on some of the rising actors out there who might fit the bill for 'dream cast.' I think Kristen Bell could make a really fun Emily, though.


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Thank you, Jennifer, for such a fun interview!

You should not only check out "Rock Star's Girl", which was such a great book, but check out Jennifer's bio. She lives by the mantra of "Dream Big" and I think her philosophy is fascinating.

Jennifer's website
Jennifer's Twitter

Thank you, Samantha from Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, for including me in this tour!

**Photograph used courtesy of Jeff Ryan Photography**

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Review: Rock Star's Girl by JF Kristin



Emily Watts just wants a weekend break from the workaholic hours she’s taken on to keep her business – a popular fashion-snark web site – up and running. What she gets is overnight celebrity and a career-killing media scandal.

While taking time out to attend a concert in support of friend Jesse Cinder, a struggling musician, Emily meets Cory Sampson, the lead singer of a chart-topping rock band. When she agrees to a date with Cory, making entertainment headlines is the last thing she expects. Even so, it’s a minor surprise by comparison to her discovery that in the music world, media notoriety trumps all. Tabloid allegations erupt when Cory and fame-hungry Jesse use Emily for personal gain, and her tarnished image spells disaster – personally and professionally. To save the web site and writing career she’s made her life and dream, Emily must go from being a pawn in the Hollywood headline game to becoming the media mastermind.


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Do you remember being a young girl and having that rock star girl fantasy? I do! It was Rick Springfield and I didn’t care if he was 20+ years older than me, I wanted to marry him. When Samantha from Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours asked me if I wanted to review JF Kristin’s book “Rock Star’s Girl”, I was hooked the second I read the synopsis.

I loved this book. I found it so fascinating for the little glimpse into the life of a rock star's “girlfriend”. In what appears to be such a superficial world, I loved that Emily kept her head together the best she could. And I love that she had that best friend, Shelby, to help keep her feet planted on the ground. I’m not a big fan of the tabloids (refuse to read them) or gossip sites (TMZ gets my attention every once in a while) because of the very reason they are portrayed in this book – they are there to cause drama.

The character of Emily was absolutely charming. She is your every girl that gets herself mixed up in the spotlight of fame and has to find herself while allowing herself to fall in love as well. The ending of "Rock Star’s Girl" was not typical, which I think worked perfectly for the situation that Emily found herself in. The supporting characters were interesting and tied the story together perfectly. I went back and forth over Jesse and Cory. Both had high and low points, too bad their desire for fame interfered with them honestly being in love with Emily. (Or allowing themselves to show how in love with Emily they were without needing to capitalize on publicity, as the case may be.)

I can’t recommend this book enough. If you are a fan of the music scene or ever just wondered “what if” about a rock star, this is going to grab your attention and hold it from page one through the end. The tale that JF Kristin wove is compelling, well thought out, and just when you think you know where Emily is going, you get hit with a twist.
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BIO:


(Picture courtesy of Jeff Ryan Photography)

J.F. Kristin (Jennifer) has been writing since the day she picked up a navy blue Crayola as a toddler and began scribbling on her parents' freshly painted white walls. When not writing novels, Jennifer writes about both writing and ecommerce, and previously spent a number of years as a freelance promotional writer and web designer for musicians. In the early days of the Web, she ran the Society for Preventing Parents from Naming Their Children Jennifer (SPPNTCJ), a tongue-in-cheek web site that welcomed millions of visitors during its run, received coverage from print, broadcast, and online media, was included in an academic textbook, and was studied on a college course. Jennifer is currently at work on her second novel.

Jennifer's website
Jennifer's Twitter

See what people are saying (and buy your copy) at the following:
Rock Star's Girl at Amazon
Apple iBooks
Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
Smashwords

Tune in tomorrow for a fun interview with Jennifer.
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