Monday, March 13, 2023


                                             WHAT DRIVES AN AUTHOR?



I sat at a typewriter behind a closed bedroom door for a lot of my adolescence.  I can’t even remember what I wrote—probably some poetry and fantasies—but I do remember why.  I wanted to create a world that I controlled and that made me feel good. I  became amazed and confused by the weird person coming to life on the written page. I worried what would my parents think. In reality,  I was so ordinary and bland that I couldn’t stand my personality any more than I thought I could change it—but my imagination insisted that I try.


 Forty years later, I still have the need to explore any and all things roaming through my heart, mind, and soul.  Exploring gets me up in the morning. I’ve come to love my random ideas about character and plot. They don’t always come to fruition, although they sometimes reappear years later in a different guise with fresh impact.  Where do ideas originally spring from?  A dream or a memory, sometimes. Comments overheard at a funeral.  Reading an expression on a stranger’s face. Novels become unique alloys of conscious and unconscious feelings. I think that’s true for a lot of writers.


I’ve rarely missed a day of writing (even if it’s  just rewriting one or two sentences in a manuscript). I cling to habit and persistence like someone lost at sea with only a life preserver to hang onto.  My imagination/Muse would never forgive me if I gave up on her. I wouldn’t forgive myself, either. I wake in the night sometimes and work on a  particular story-telling challenge,  unable to go back to sleep until I write down my thoughts.  They may be gibberish in the morning but, hey, they got me through the night and into the next writing day .  I’ve convinced myself a good explorer knows the inevitability and value in getting lost.  Freaking out is when things really get  interesting.

Ghost with Two Hearts by Michael R. French

 Ghost with Two Hearts


Book Summary


Approaching 30, Adrian, a talented software engineer, takes stock of his wealth and accolades - and how unhappy he is. He doesn't make friends easily, dislikes social media, and was bloodied in a divorce. He finds no common purpose in a country defined by political vitriol, distrust, and inequality. Taking a leave of absence from his company, he travels to Japan with a samurai sword that his grandfather stole from a Japanese captain in World War Two. Adrian is determined to find its rightful heir. Doing the morally correct thing, he hopes, will make him feel better about his life.


Print Length: 193 Pages

Genre: Fiction, Cultural Heritage Fiction, Ghost Fiction

Publisher: Independently Published January 12, 2023

ISBN: 979-8370416842


Ghost with Two Hearts  is now available to purchase in print and as an e-book at  Add it to your GoodReads reading listing as well.


 About the Author Michael R. French

 Michael R. French graduated from Stanford University where he was an English major, focusing on creative writing, and studied under Wallace Stegner.  He received a Master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University.   He later served in the United States Army before marrying Patricia Goodkind, an educator and entrepreneur,  and starting a family.  

 ​In addition to publishing over twenty titles, including award-winning young adult fiction, adult fiction, biographies  and self-help books, he has written or co-written a half-dozen screenplays, including Intersection, which has won awards in over twenty film festivals.  He has also had a long business career in real estate, living in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  His passions include travel,  collecting rare books, and hanging with friends and family.   He describes his worst traits as impatience and saying "no" too quickly; his best are curiosity, taking risks, and learning from failure.


French’s work, which includes several best-sellers, has been warmly reviewed in the New York Times and been honored with a number of literary prizes.


Find Michael online at:


Author website:


Blog site:







Saturday, March 11, 2023

Guest Post: "Should I stay or should I go?" by Linda and Charlie Bloom

 Just Hang in There—But For How Long?                 


The opening line of the chorus of the Kenny Rogers song, “The Gambler”, goes: “You gotta know when to hold ‘em, and when to fold ‘em.” The same could be said about marriage. At what point do we decide that a marriage is no longer viable?


It does seem that over the last couple of generations, that there has been a swing from the idea of hanging in there until “death do us part” to an extreme reaction to assert one’s right to end a marriage for practically any reason. Having the opportunity to choose to opt out of a dead relationship is certainly, by just about any measure, preferable to being trapped in a hopeless situation.


We’ve seen many couples who have chosen to end their marriages without having given the relationship their very best shot. We’ve also seen couples that have stayed in unhealthy relationships much longer than is good for either of them. Some cancers exist in the body for years before the symptoms emerge. The same can be true for many marriages. And early detection is crucial in both cases.



The time to deal with our grievances is when we first become aware of them. At this stage of the game issues are much more responsive to our efforts and more manageable in scope.


We have also seen couples who waited too long. Their marriages could have been saved if it hadn’t taken them so long to get help. Many people have told us “If I knew then what I know now, I’d still be married.” What it is that they wish they had known has to do with ways of more skillfully managing differences.


Some marriages don’t deserve to be saved and some couples are truly mismatched. Some situations are genuinely unworkable. Yet in our experience, there are many more people who quit before they have done all they can do, than those who stay in a broken marriage too long.


The willingness to raise the difficult questions, express concerns, share feelings, and confront issues directly and openly is the best way to prevent the possibility of a long drawn out, deterioration of a relationship. The willingness to confront the serious concerns with or without professional help, is the best marriage insurance there is. Doing so won’t insure that your marriage will last till death do you part, but it will insure that regardless of the outcome, you will have the knowledge that you’ve done your absolute best. At the very least, the two of you will have brought a deeper level of integrity and truthfulness into your lives. And if you do divorce, the recovery period for both partners will be shorter and less painful than it would be otherwise. And by the way, you will also have increased the likelihood of not only staying together, but of deepening the love that brought you together in the first place.


Find more tips like this in the Bloom’s new book an End to Arguing: 101 Valuable Lessons for All Relationships.


An End to Arguing by Linda Bloom, LCSW and Charlie Bloom, MSW


An End to Arguing

Book Summary

 Now more than ever, couples need guidance for navigating conflict wisely and skillfully. Drawing on insights from their work with couples since 1975, the Blooms offer practical tools and strategies that apply to all relationships. An End to Arguing convincingly shows how destructive conflicts can be avoided, and provides stimulus for individual and interpersonal growth. They use compelling examples from their clinical work and their own fifty-year marriage, which has had its share of challenges.


An End to Arguing doesn't just provide a way of preventing differences from turning into painful conflict; it gives the reader an insight into what qualities are inherent in argument-free relationships. The way of getting there may be simpler than you think!


Publisher: Koehler Books

ISBN-10: 1646638085

ISBN-13: 978-1646638086

Print length: 306 pages


You can purchase a copy of the book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Be sure to also add it to your GoodReads reading list.


About the Authors


Linda Bloom, LCSW and Charlie Bloom, MSW have been married since 1972. Trained as psychotherapists and relationship counselors, they have worked with individuals, couples, groups, and organizations since 1975 and have lectured and taught at learning institutes throughout the USA and internationally, including the Esalen Institute, the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, Northern California Mindfulness Institute, The California Institute for Integral Studies, and the World Health Organization. They have authored five books, including the bestseller, 101 Things I Wish I Knew When I Got Married: Simple Lessons to Make Love Last (over 100,000 sold), Secrets of Great Marriages, Happily Ever After... and 39 Other Myths about Love, That Which Doesn't Kill Us: How One Couple Became Stronger at the Broken Places, and An End to Arguing: 101 Valuable Lessons for All Relationships. They are founders and co-directors of Bloomwork, based in Santa Cruz, California.


Visit them online:






Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Houdini's Fabulous Magic by Walter B. Gibson and Morris N. Young

Incredible escapes, fantastic sleight-of-hand-Houdini's most challenging performances are dramatically portrayed in Houdini's Fabulous Magic. Walter Gibson, co-author, was in close touch with Harry Houdini for a number of years before his death and worked with the master magician in preparing material for the book. It is with the aid of Houdini's own scrapbooks and notes that this book was written.


The spectacular highlights of Houdini's career are described-and explained-here. Included are the famous escapes: escapes from a padlocked milk can filled with water; from locked jail cells; from a water-filled Chinese torture cell while suspended upside down; from packing cases weighted under water. Again, in this book, Houdini walks through a brick wall, vanishes a 10,000-pound elephant and is buried alive. Once more, Houdini and his wife Bessie mysteriously exchange places in a locked trunk-in three seconds!


And Houdini the man is not ignored. His impact on the world in the early years of the twentieth century was enormous. He was a public hero who, in his own way, helped sweep out the cobwebs of nineteenth-century thinking. While doing so, he distinguished himself as a patriot, writer, collector of magic, aviator, movie idol, philanthropist, and crusader against fraudulent spiritualistic practices.


This is a technical manual for magicians, complete with illustrations and diagrams, but it is also an astute analysis of the best of Houdini's magic and a readable biography of a man who turned himself into a legend. It is a book for would-be conjurers, for professional necromancers, for those curious about the methods and means of one of the most enchanting men of the previous century.


Publisher: Vine Leaves Press

ISBN-10: 0517180747

ISBN-13: 978-0517180747


Print length: 249 pages


Purchase a copy of Houdini's Fabulous Magic on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or You can also add this to your GoodReads reading list.


About the Authors

 Walter B. Gibson (1897-1985)

Walter, a graduate of Colgate University, was a prolific writer including The Shadow novels under his pen name Maxwell Grant. For a time he was Houdini's personal secretary. Following Houdini's death, the attorney for the estate permitted Walter to examine many of Houdini's private scrapbooks and notes from which Gibson wrote Houdini's Magic and Houdini's Escapes. Houdini's scrapbooks, papers and other documents form the background for Houdini's Fabulous Magic. Also a magician, Walter toured with and wrote for magicians such as Blackstone (Sr.), Thurston and Raymond. He was a member of the Mystery Writers of America, the American Society for Psychical Research, the Magician's Guild of America and the Magician's Club of London.


Morris N. Young, M.D. (1909-2002)

Morris, a graduate of M.I.T., Harvard and Columbia University was Director of Ophthalmology at Beekman Downtown Hospital in New York City. Aside from his numerous professional memberships, he was a member of the Society of American Magicians (to which Houdini had helped him join as a young man), the International Brotherhood of Magicians and a member of the Inner Circle of the Magic Circle (London). He was a founder of the Magic Collectors Association including their publication MAGICOL. Along with his wife Chesley, he established the largest private holdings on memory and mnemonics which now resides at the University of San Marino. Along with his friend John McManus, in 1955 they established the McManus-Young Collections at the Library of Congress, The University of Texas, Austin and the University of California in Berkeley.  Morris' other book publications include Hobby Magic, Houdini on Magic (with Walter Gibson), Presto Prestige, Bibliography of Memory, How To Develop An Exceptional Memory (with Walter Gibson), The Complete Guide to Science Fair Competition (with John Stolzfus) and Radio Music Live (with John Stolzfus).


You can visit the website created by Morris N. Young's children, Charles C. Young and Cheryl L. Young:


Advance Praise of the Book


Teller of Penn & Teller says: "I've loved this books for sixty years. My first copy was borrowed from the Philadelphia Public Library when I was fourteen, and I kept renewing the loan till I could afford to own my own copy.  Houdini's Fabulous Magic has just the right blend of history, technical secrets, and romance to fire the passion of a young magician.  Four pieces of the Penn & Teller repertoire were directly inspired by Houdini's Fabulous Magic--four times more than any other book in my library".


John Cox in his "Wild About Harry" website (​ and blog said of the earlier editions:  Houdini's Fabulous Magic by Walter B. Gibson and Morris N. Young is the best forgotten Houdini book. I say that because when one thinks of books on Houdini's methods, one tends to turn to Houdini The Key by Patrick Culliton, The Secrets of Houdini by J.C. Cannel, or even Gibson's earlier work, Houdini's Escapes and Magic. Maybe because Fabulous Magic contains some reprinted material from the earlier Gibson book it tends to be thought of as a somewhat recycled work. But it's actually one of the very best books on Houdini's major feats and methods and maybe the best book for the layperson. It also contains historical tidbits that aren't found elsewhere. So let's remember it today!"

Monday, February 27, 2023

Travel Tips With A Cat


Butter Carmel Cupcakes


1 package of yellow cake mix (DO NOT follow instructions on the back).
Instead add:
1 cup of water
3 eggs
and 1/2 cup of butter melted down with a 1/4 cup of brown sugar. Bring this butter/brown sugar mix to a boil. I was able to make it happen in the microwave to be quick. 
Blend together very well.
Fill cupcakes 1/2 full
Bake for 20 min.

Part Two:
Caramel Sauce
1/2 cup butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 (14 ounce can) sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp of vanilla 
Bring to a boil the butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup. 
Reduce to medium heat and add the can of sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. Stir for 4 minutes. Remove from heat then let the sauce sit for 10 minutes.
Inject the sauce mix into the baked and cooled cupcakes. Drizzle on top. There will be lots of camel left over that you can also use for popcorn.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Strawberry-Pineapple Cupcakes - Cat Ears

Preheat oven to 350

 1 box of strawberry cake mix (I used Pillsbury)

         Do not follow recipe on the back! Instead add:

1 cup pineapple juice

3 eggs

1/2 cup of olive oil

Blend together very well.

Fill cupcakes 1/2 full

Bake for 20 min.

Decorate the top with whip-cream, strawberries, powdered sugar, or other fun topping. 

We used almond whip but I'm sure coconut whip would be yummy too.  

My youngest came up with the idea to make cat ears. 

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Guest Post: 14 Microchanges Guaranteed to Advance Your Career, by Marla J. Albertie CPC, APTD, M.Ed., USN Veteran Instructor of Psychology


14 Microchanges Guaranteed 

to Advance Your Career

Make these changes and watch your career take off!

As a career and life coach, I am often asked “how do I advance my career.” I always advise “depending on your goal you can do an array of things.” Everyone doesn’t have to perform the same tasks for advancement, however there are some universal slight changes you can make. I call them microchanges.

It will amaze you at what a slight change can do for your career.

If you want a raise or job satisfaction, try these simple tips for taking your work performance to the next level. They’ll pay off quickly.

Online Microchanges for Greater Career Success

The internet is the place to start because it is easy to gain knowledge and promote your visibility.

1.      Edit your LinkedIn profile. When was the last time you updated your LinkedIn profile? I updated mine right before I started my recent job.

I recommend looking at your profile every 2–3 months to make necessary changes. Let colleagues see your most recent accomplishments.

2.     Reach out to your network. Reach out to colleagues you have not spoken to in a while. Reconnect with past coworkers. You never know who holds the key to open your next door.

3.     Follow industry news. I can’t stress this one enough. You should always stay abreast with what your industry is engaged in. Spend a few minutes a day reading an article or two about what’s happening in your world of business.

4.    Monitor your life. It’s easy to lose track of time, since we cannot manage it, anyway. Set limits on your extra-curricular activities. Give yourself time to read and set up systems in your life.

Offline Microchanges for Greater Career Success

5.     Face-to-face interactions still have a dramatic impact. There is nothing like having a great conversation with someone while getting to know them. Maybe that’s even more true today when so much communication occurs electronically.

6.    Demonstrate initiative. Sometimes you will be asked to perform job tasks outside of your job description. How will you respond? I suggest you show initiative and step up.

7.     Be a team player. Identify what your manager considers the top business priorities so you know where to devote your efforts. Find a way to contribute that goes above and beyond your job description.

8.    Volunteer your assistance. You can volunteer your time at work or in your community. I suggest you try both. Find areas of interests and see how you can help.

9.    Speak up. In every meeting, there is always that one person who says nothing, and the manager has to call on them, don’t be that person. Make your voice heard on subject matters of interest. You don’t have to speak at every meeting, but you should speak at some meetings.

10. Show enthusiasm. Your manager will trust and value you more if you show that you’re invested in your career. After all, it is YOUR career. If you don’t have an interest in it, why would anyone else?

11. Express gratitude. Let your colleagues know how much you appreciate them all the time. Gratitude should be an ongoing effort. This does not mean act unauthentic, it means to show gratitude to your team on different occasions. Offer sincere praise and share credit for team projects. They’ll be more likely to return the favor.

12. Dress for the position you want. Appearances count whether or not you like it. If your career desires are to be a business manager, how does a business manager dress?

13.Join a professional association. I have mentioned this in my previous writings. There is no better way to meet people in your industry than to join the industry association. I am a member of a few of them and I love the connections I have made.

14. Use your vacation days. According to the Harvard Business Review, employees who take all of their vacation time have a 6.5% higher chance of receiving a promotion or a raise than their peers who are stockpiling their time off. Isn’t that amazing? Take the cruise which is my vacation of choice.

The average full-time work week in the United States is roughly 42.5 hours long. Wouldn’t it be better for you to have a strategy for career advancement? These microchanges will help you do a superb job and maintain harmony in your life.

Marla J. Albertie, is the author of The Ultimate Brag Book: A hundred questions about how awesome you are. She is a Certified Life Coach and Corporate Trainer. She blogs owns of the Truth Speaks Group, LLC, a multi-media coaching company dedicated to creating solutions for integrating work and life to create harmony. When she is not studying for her PhD, Marla loves to read, is a concert and comedy show junkie, and a cruiser for life. Follow Marla on Twitter @tspeakscoaching and IG @Tspeaksgroup


Sunday, February 19, 2023

Guest Post: Getting Your “Tribes” to Help Promote You and Your Book by Marissa Bañez


Getting Your “Tribes” to Help Promote You and Your Book


            We all have many “tribes” – family, friends, culture, ethnicity, gender, education, work, religion, politics, etc.  Most tribe members enjoy the vicarious thrill of success on the part of someone they know or can relate to: “One of us done good.”

            As a published author, you have given them that vicarious thrill.  Chances are, they’ll want to help you become even more successful, which will further heighten their vicarious thrill.  Seek out those people . . . but don’t just take; you must also give.  I call it “cross-pollination.”

            True stories:

1.      Someone I worked with decades ago published a novel (work tribe).  My vicarious thrill led me to post about it on social media.  Also, although we hadn’t spoken in about 40 years, I congratulated him through the magic of the internet.  In our emails, I mentioned my dream of publishing my children’s stories.  He then introduced me to his publisher, who is now my publisher too.  Since then, he has posted about my various endeavors to promote my book three times on his blog.  Each time, I re-posted his blog on my social media to give him a wider audience as well.

2.      My sister (family tribe) “cold-called” the editor of a newspaper that publishes about our country of origin and people (ethnic tribe).  The editor agreed not only to write about me but to organize a book launch party to introduce me to the community cultural leaders too.  I also agreed to be interviewed by her about a personal topic for a different publication.  Because that other publication has a wide audience, I spent the time and mental/emotional energy for the project in return for greater publicity.

3.      I contacted a different editor of a similar newspaper elsewhere (ethnic tribe).  She wrote an article about me, which in turn led to her publishing a personal essay I wrote, and an interview of me on a TV show.  Because of this exposure, the primary entertainment journalist of the U.S. arm of one of the largest multimedia conglomerates from my country of origin (ethnic tribe) is requesting an on-camera interview with me.

4.      My university alumni magazine agreed to include my book in an issue featuring alumni authors (education tribe), adding to their need for content. 

5.      Someone (friends tribe) recommended I join a Facebook group for certain moms (racial/cultural/gender tribes).  Because the group rules prohibit self-promotion, I made myself known by posting on issues that mattered to the group or that helped others in the group.  Several members googled me, saw my book, told the group about the book, and bought it for themselves.

* * *

            This will often feel like networking on steroids.  But because the current marketplace of competing ideas is overcrowded and noisy, your tribes can help you be seen, heard and, ultimately, read. 


Marissa Bañez is a lawyer and author of the children’s illustrated book, Hope and Fortune.  Her second book, Hues and Harmony (How the Rainbow Butterfly Got Her Colors) will be published on July 20, 2023.








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