Monday, June 27, 2016

Greetings from Utopia Park by Claire Hoffman - #review

In this engrossing memoir, Claire Hoffman recounts the remarkable years she spent growing up in an increasingly isolated meditation community in the American heartland.

When Claire Hoffman’s alcoholic father abandons his family, his struggling wife, Liz, tells five-year-old Claire and her seven-year-old brother, Stacey, that they are going to heaven—Iowa—to live in Maharishi’s national headquarters for Heaven on Earth. For Claire’s mother, Transcendental Meditation—Maharishi’s method of meditation and his approach to living the fullest possible life—promises world peace and Enlightenment just as their family is falling apart.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Friday Bookish Post - June 23, 2016


Thanks to Freda from "Freda's Voice" and Gilion at "Rose City Reader" for hosting these bookish link-ups!  Click one of the buttons to go to the link-up page.

Book 'Synopsis':

Shame is everywhere.

Whether related to relationships, body image, work, or a secret sin, we all experience shame. While shame manifests itself in fear, broken relationships, and regret, it ultimately points us to our fundamental need as fallen human beings: redemption.

Shame never disappears in solitude, and Heather Davis Nelson invites us to not only be healed of our own shame but also be a part of healing for others. She shines the life-giving light of the gospel on the things that leave us feeling worthless and rejected, giving us courage us to walk out of shame's shadows and offering hope for our bondage to brokenness. Through the gospel, we discover the only real and lasting antidote to shame: exchanging our shame for the righteousness of Christ alongside others on this same journey.


This is from the book's Introduction (on page 17).  It's also a departure for me to use a non-fiction book for these link-ups.  Cover is linked to GoodReads.

"I have always been terrified of public speaking.  I can trace it back to eighth-grade graduation, when I froze on stage in front of my classmates and an audience of hundreds."


I picked a random page (123) and came up with this quote:

"It would be easy to go through the questions listed above and identify the ways in which your husband or wife needs to change so there is less shame in your marriage.  When I wrote this list, I have to admit that my first impulse was to tell my husband, Seth, all the things "we" needed to work on for us to grow in shame-resisting intimacy in our marriage."


Book Blogger Hop   

Thanks to Billy B at the "Coffee Addicted Writer" for hosting this link-up!  Click on the buttons above to go to his blog.

This week's question comes from Elizabeth at Elizabeth's Reviews:

Do you have your picture in your profile?

I have my picture in several of my profiles (social media, etc), but not all.  And the picture is 13 years old, taken around the time our daughter was born.  In the picture with me are our two sons, now 18 and 19 years old.  My hair is shorter and grayer than it was in that picture.  One of these days I will update it.


Also sharing with:


Thanks to Ramona at Create With Joy, Janice at Mostly Blogging, and Tina at Mommynificent for these fun link-ups!  Click on the button to visit the sites to join in!  The more the merrier...really! :O)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Niche Sites - Brainstorming - Part 1 (of 10)

A day or so ago, I got an email from Doug at the Niche Site Project.  He espouses a 7-step process to get your website from bare (if any) bones to the transition from niche to authority site.

First off, you need a sufficient number of ideas for possible niche sites to make sure at least one of them is commercially viable.  I got this idea to do a "list of 100 possible niche site topics" - a journaling technique for brainstorming.  Once my list was finished, I went back through and put all the 1's (1, 11, 21, 31, etc....) together, all the 2's and so on.  Hopefully this would make sure that each list would not have markedly similar topics.

Having one post in this series for each of 10 weeks may hold up the whole getting-from-idea-to-money-making niche site process too much, so I might jump horses mid-stream and change to analyzing 25 ideas a week, to shorten the completion time to 4 weeks (4 x 25 ideas/week) from 10 (10 x 10 ideas/week).  If I have enough time over the weekend, I could even do it over the next 10 'business days' (Monday - Friday).  But I chose the number 10 arbitrarily, because at the time it seemed like having material for 10 posts was a pretty cool thing!

In any case, I'm planning on putting crazy links to other parts of the series so people can navigate from one to the other with relative ease.

Each week I will eliminate the ideas that are too far out there (and there are a number of them, as always happens when making a list of 100).  Funny thing is, there are also a few great ideas that weren't even on my radar when I started the process.  Put that subconscious mind to work!


This 'niche' is too broad.  Why would people come to my site vs simply going to their favorite online bookseller?  Luckily, I have several more book-related entries on my list in future installments of this series that may give me more viable results.

11.  PETS
Pets (in general) is also too broad a topic.  No sense starting out trying to be everything to everybody.  Again, there are smaller divisions of this topic later in the list.  Stay tuned.

This idea has at least some possibilities.  Even a site that is supposed to be making the site-owner money can benefit from the occasional 'freebie' to give away.  Just ask my Kindle. ;)

As I live in Kentucky, a lot of my ideas (including at least two in this post) have to do with my home state.  The danger here, of course, is that the site would have to be exceptionally popular within the state.  Just for giggles, I searched for "wives of Kentucky Governors" and went to the images section.  There I found one picture of a gubernatorial candidate's wife, several photos of Kentucky governors themselves, pictures of random celebrities (especially those from those 'real housewives' shows), several pictures of that county clerk who refused to give marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples, as well as a picture of a box of Viagra and the three witches from the movie Hocus Pocus - not together, though.

Sorry, I had to get that out, because I was laughing so hard.  It seems as more of a historial or educational site, as opposed to a commercial site possibility, though.

I'm not talking here about a gambling site.  (Eeek!)  The idea of the red tape necessary for that one makes my head spin.  I was thinking more like a history past and present site, and maybe souvenirs from some of the more famous races (Kentucky Derby, anyone?)

A definite possibility in the historic/vacation niche, but more difficult to develop (read time-consuming) , I think, than several others on the list.

I'm not talking only the home-brewing of alcoholic beverages, although a fair amount of that takes place already in Kentucky, of both the legal and not legal varieties.  There is one commercial brewery and one home brewing supplies company listed in a search, both in or near Lexington, but a quick additional search lead to their website where a pop-up announced, "Our store is closed."  This one could be a possibility, perhaps as a topic on a more comprehensive site.

A little too broad and/or vague.  Would need a narrower niche and a serious think about commercial potential for a site about other people's businesses.

This topic came to my mind, of course, from the fact that for the first time, it appears that a woman will get the nomination of a major political party to be their candidate for the office of President of the US.  How are the mechanics of entering into a campaign and running a (successful) campaign different for a woman (as opposed to a man).

Wow.  I would love to be able to take pictures (on site, of course) for a site like this.  I am, of course, obsessed with all things Scottish, which is why this general topic came up several times in my list of 100.  Weighing of the viabilities of various niches would need to be taken into account, and/or including information on Highland games in connection with information on the various Renaissance Faires that go on in the same area.


At first blush, looking back over the list and the details of each item, I think #21 (inexpensive dates) would be the one that has closer-to-my-heart-and-abilities and commercially viable in the best proportion.  There are several that are distinct possibilities, but would take more work (not that that is a bad thing)  The only topics I really have ruled out already are the categories that are just to general (like #1, #11 and possibly #71).

So, are you or have you been thinking about setting up a niche site?  Does this list give you any ideas for your own website, blog, or other creative endeavor?  I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

Future home of links to other parts of the series!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Come, Bitter Poison by Monica Knightley - #review #giveaway

Sexy film star. Long-held secrets. Murder by poison.

When international stage and film star Miles Elliot comes to Stratford Upon Avondale to play Macbeth, Maggie O’Flynn is thrilled. He’s been her actor crush for years. But when Miles ends up at the center of a murder investigation Maggie finds herself slipping back into the role of amateur sleuth. Before long many of her friends become suspects in not just one murder, but two. Maggie must discover who’s poisoning people associated with the Shakespeare Festival before one of her friends gets slapped with a murder charge. And she must do so while dodging paparazzi that are stalking her due to a supposed love affair she’s having with Miles Elliot.

With a bit of Shakespeare, copious amounts of tea, and a faux-English setting to rival anything the real England has to offer, COME, BITTER POISON is the second book in THE STRATFORD UPON AVONDALE mystery series. Though part of a series, COME, BITTER POISON can be read and enjoyed as a standalone. Lovers of cozy mysteries will find a cozy home in Stratford Upon Avondale.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Oliver Twisted by Cindy Brown - #review #giveaway

Orphans. Thieves. Murder. And an All-You-Can-Eat Buffet!

When Ivy Meadows lands a gig with the book-themed cruise line Get Lit!, she thinks she’s died and gone to Broadway. Not only has she snagged a starring role in a musical production of Oliver Twist, she’s making bank helping her PI uncle investigate a string of onboard thefts, all while sailing to Hawaii on the S.S. David Copperfield.

But Ivy is cruising for disaster. Her acting contract somehow skipped the part about aerial dancing forty feet above the stage, her uncle Bob is seriously sidetracked by a suspicious blonde, and—oh yeah—there’s a corpse in her closet.

Forget catching crooks. Ivy’s going to have a Dickens of a time just surviving.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Maggie Dove by Susan Breen - #review

When Sunday School teacher Maggie Dove finds her hateful next-door neighbor Marcus Bender lying dead under her beloved oak tree—the one he demanded she cut down—she figures the man dropped dead of a mean heart. But Marcus was murdered, and the prime suspect is a young man Maggie loves like a son. Peter Nelson was the worst of Maggie’s Sunday School students; he was also her late daughter’s fiancĂ©, and he’s been a devoted friend to Maggie in the years since her daughter’s death.

Maggie can’t lose Peter, too. So she sets out to find the real murderer. To do that, she must move past the grief that has immobilized her all these years. She must probe the hidden corners of her little village on the Hudson River. And, when another death strikes even closer to home, Maggie must find the courage to defend the people and the town she loves—even if it kills her.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Onyx Webb, Book 1 and 2 by Andrea Waltz and Richard Fenton - #review

Onyx Webb is a multi-genre mash-up that combines supernatural suspense, crime, horror, romance, and more. So the story... Onyx Webb is a ghost. Billionaire playboy Koda Mulvaney becomes obsessed with a girl he sees inside a mirror. Juniper Cole is on her way to the prom and... well, we don't want to spoil anything - we've probably told you too much already. How all these events are related is part of the mystery that is, Onyx Webb.