The Writer’s Toolkit Flash Sale

Last year, my book Book Building: A Beginner’s Guide to Crafting Your Book was included in the Writer’s Toolkit from Ultimate Bundles along with some other really useful stuff for authors and aspiring authors, which was awesome. What is even better is that The Writer’s Toolkit is on sale AGAIN for just a few days so if you missed it the first time around, you’ve got another chance. Isn’t that exciting?

From January 25 until January 27, you can get  6 eBooks, 30 eCourses,  1 Template, and 1 Membership Site for just $97. It’s a little more than many of Ultimate Bundles’ offerings, but having gone through it myself, it is totally worth it if you are an aspiring author (like me).

But that’s not all! The bonuses for this bundle are worth over $500. When you order your bundle you’ll get: 

  • 30 Day Trial and exclusive $15 discount code from Literature & Latte Ltd — worth $15
  • The Write Plan Planner from The Write Practice — worth $50
  • 50% off all book cover packages from 100 Covers — worth $150
  • $250 off 1000 Storybooks‘ start to finish Children’s Book Publishing Service — worth $250
  • FREE 12-Month Premium Candidate Membership from ProBlogger — worth $49

This is your last opportunity to get the Writer’s Toolkit with my book Book Building: A Beginner’s Guide to Crafting Your Book through Ultimate Bundles. If you are serious about jumpstarting your writing career, then don’t wait!

Countdown Timer

Free Webinar for writers

Have you wondered how to keep writing consistently even when you have no idea what to actually write?

Marion Roach Smith is a sought-after author and writing coach who has learned how to productively write — even on those hard days.

Marion is the author of four mass-market books published by some of the largest firms in the world. A former staffer at The New York Times, she’s written for Vogue, Prevention, The Daily News, Good Housekeeping, Martha Stewart Living, Discover, and The Los Angeles Times. She also runs a writing lab called The Memoir Project and teaches writing worldwide.

My friends at Ultimate Bundles teamed up with Marion to bring you a free webinar called 5 ways to become a more productive writer on Monday, January 24th at 12:30 pm Eastern.

In her free class, you’ll learn:

  • The secret to developing a daily writing habit
  • How to keep writing on days when you feel stuck
  • Why productive writing starts with a simple algorithm
  • What you must do before you start writing anything
  • How to end every writing session to set yourself up for success

I hope we’ll see you there! Just register for the free webinar here.

Fit Femme After 50: A Busy Woman’s Guide to a Strong, Attractive, Pain-Free-Body by Doug Setter

Rapidly approaching 50 myself, I picked up Fit Femme After 50: A Busy Woman’s Guide to a Strong, Attractive, Pain-Free-Body by Doug Setter with the idea that I could incorporate some suggestions into what I have determined will be my healthier lifestyle going forward. I hoped for some inspirational stories of women firming up in later years and several practical exercises for my routines. My expectations were partially fulfilled, which is saying something.

The author highlighted the stories of several women who were successfully fit and, more accurately, tough broads, like Iris Davis, body-building champion at 76, and Monika Kriedmann-Bleckenwegner, over 50, who completed the Austria Iron Man competition the day after having a tooth pulled. These women were definitely inspirational! 

Following that, the author gave several suggestions on how to motivate yourself, what to each, which vitamins to take, and some solid exercises to do, complete with clear pictures on how to do them. Honestly, it was great stuff. 

However, large sections of the book were irrelevant to me as a nearing 50 woman. The author included his personal experiences, including his time in the military, that, as a male, weren’t be experiences I could relate to. Statistically, only a little of 14 percent of the U.S. military are women anyway. While Canada, the author’s native country, has a higher percentage ranging between 13 to 19 percent depending on the service branch. 

Although there was a chapter on hormones, one of the most significant issues women at 50 face, the author failed to convince me that his suggestions were designed for women in that age group. The examples and personal experiences cited were, more often than not, male, like Abe Vigoda, Dan Brown, Louis L’Amour, the author himself. A quick google search turns up Susan Shapiro, Joan Wolf, Edie Meidav as women writers over 50 who incorporate exercise into their lives. As for performers, we have Jennifer Lopez, Madonna, Sharon Stone, Elle Macpherson, Sandra Bullock, Halle Berry as steller examples of fit and healthy women over 50.

Then, the English teacher in me cringed at each dash used instead of proper punctuation. Although I didn’t find any spelling or grammatical errors, this constant misuse detracted from my reading experience.

Despite the fallacies mentioned above, Fit Femme After 50: A Busy Woman’s Guide to a Strong, Attractive, Pain-Free-Body by Doug Setter contains solid fitness advice for anyone, male or female, to improve their physical and mental well-being.

I received an ARC from Reedsy Discovery. You can see my review here.

Nervous Nellies and the Puppers: Animal Antics South of the Border

The animal hijinks continue in Animal Antics South of the Border book two. Ride along with the Flores family as they wrangle goats, sheep, horses, chickens, cats, dogs, and rabbits during the 2020 pandemic lockdown in central Mexico. From keeping the Grim at bay to raising Elvis’ love children, what could possibly go wrong on the ol’ homestead?

Immigrant Secrets: The Search for my Grandparents by John Mancini

Immigrant Secrets: The Search for my Grandparents by John Mancini is a lovely tale of one man’s family history quest. The factual research done, including long-lost pictures, medical files, and official documents, is interspersed with imaginative scenes of what might have happened.

After the author’s father’s death, the author and his siblings began looking into the past. With nothing more than some tentative dates and names, the search started and what they found shocked them. The story of two struggling Italian immigrants and their disappearance was, sadly, a common one.

This story resonated with me, being the great-grandchild of immigrants myself. In fact, not only did my ancestors arrive through Ellis Island more or less the same time as the author’s grandparents, but they also settled near New York City, in Hunktown, Connecticut. The places named were therefore familiar to me. My mother did extensive research about my father’s immigrant origins, but the farthest back she could go was the ship manifest for Jan and Maria, who became John and Mary. 

The author’s writing style draws the reader in as each clue to the past is discovered, researched, and analyzed. Unfortunately, not everything was made clear. However, there was enough for the author to recreate plausible scenarios and well-researched commentary. The pictures of relevant buildings and documents made the story come alive. Immigrants Secrets is not the first story origin memoir I’ve read, but it was one of the most enjoyable.

There were a few instances where the information seemed redundant since the fictional sections and actual research process ran parallel, but nothing detracted from the story. There was also some allusion to a family friend who knew about his father’s family and married his father’s widow, the author’s mother, but the reader is never given more on that tangled story and the mystery is set aside.

On the whole, Immigrant Secrets: The Search for my Grandparents by John Mancini was a captivating read about the discovery of one family origin that anyone who has ever found a clue to themselves in the faces of the past will enjoy.

I received an ARC from Reedsy Discovery. You can read my review here.

New Cover and General Improvements for Wascally Wabbits and Zombie Babies

Wascally Wabbits and Zombie Babies: Animal Antics South of the Border was my first self-published book and it was in serious need of some editing. So that happened during the course of 2021 and a new book cover to boot!

These fascinating animal exploits begin when an ordinary family of three moves from the suburban U.S. to rural Mexico and buys a donkey. Over the course of a decade, their animal kingdom experienced oodles of triumphs and adversities. Who knew bananas, red rags, and phases of the moon have so much to do with livestock success? 

Reading Challenge 2022

I’m just not sure how much travel will be happening in my world in 2022. First, finances are a bit tight. And then, no one is quite sure what’s going on with the Covid pandemic. Is it safe? Is it not?

Regardless, I’m going to enjoy my year and to that end set up yet another reading challenge for myself. Looking over the categories, what would you suggest?

Calamity by Sam Winter

SWAT Officer Derrick Hart and his brother-in-arms Army Ranger Brandon Armstrong have taken on quite a task, keeping their wives and some stray tag-a-longs alive. The southern United States has been overrun by teeth-gnashing, super-fast, rabid zombies (or some such creature). Along the way, they meet up with the vice-president’s pregnant daughter and her bodyguards. They also come across Sharon, a mother separated from her family in the mad dash to safety, subject of government medical testing, and kidnapped by the radical Prepper group Sons of Liberty. How this ends is anyone’s guess!

Honestly, this book was so intense that I had to stop reading for short periods. I mean, constantly running from the zombie horde, evading military capture, and beating back the desperate masses, well, there’s only so much of that a girl can take at once. But, on the other hand, the intertwining plots made for exciting reading. You couldn’t help but put yourself in their dire situations and wonder what actions you’d take to keep body and soul together. 

Typically, my post-apocalyptic reading preference is for stories that begin after the calamity (pun intended), so this book was a new experience for me. It was maybe a little testosterone-heavy for me. I mean, Derrick and Brandon were the Rambos that would get the ordinary, unfit-for survival rag-tag band through to the promised land, right? So it was only natural there was some grunting, fist-fights, and shoot-em-ups. However, as a book that will keep you on the edge of your seat, this one takes the cake.

So if you are looking for post-apocalyptic science fiction non-stop action this holiday season, then Calamity by Sam Winter is the book for you!

The author provided an ARC for this review.

Living Through Alchemy: A transformational journey to freedom by Vi Vi Thai

Vi Vi Thai creatively illustrates her inner transformation in Living Through Alchemy: A transformational journey to freedom by Vi Vi Thai. In this book, the author shared her life from her birth in Vietnam through her Master’s degree in Bio-Medical Engineering at Cornell University as the backdrop to her personal transformation. Her real growth occurred after she started a new life in Canada as a van dweller. In addition to Vi Vi Thai’s personal story, the author includes journal prompts to aid the reader in their own transformation and a bonus chapter about her travel companion, Marco, the dog.  

This book might not be an effective medium for encouraging personal growth for individuals unfamiliar with tarot cards, which introduce each development period. For instance, chapter 4 began with card number 9 in the Rider-Waite tarot deck, the Hermit. There was a brief description of the card highlighting how to interpret it when it appears in a reading. Then the author talked about a period in her life that corresponded to this card, in this case, her return to Vietnam in shame resulting in social isolation. 

There were some misused phrases and terms resulting from the fact that the author’s first language is not English, but they were minor and did not detract from the understanding. The first few chapters are a bit repetitive. However, the author smoothes the storytelling out as the book progresses. 

There was a lot of information in the first chapter. In what is supposed to be an overview of alchemy, Thai discussed the definition of alchemy, the seven chakras, the caduceus, the eye of Horus and the Pineal gland, and the Hero’s Journey. This section might have been better focused on just the tarot cards and how they relate to the Hero’s Journey since there was little mention of the seven chakras, the caduceus, or the eye of Horus and the Pineal gland in the rest of the book. 

The transformational story Vi Vi Thai shares with the reader in Living Through Alchemy: A transformational journey to freedom was compelling. Marco’s story was sweet as well. It’s a great book to start the new year!

I received an ARC from Reedsy Discovery. You can read my review here.