Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Guest Post by Indra Sena ~ Reviews: To Read or Not to Read

Reviews: To Read or Not to Read

I read endless reviews of books and the bad ones can be truly frightening, especially the ones in The New York Times. Imagine you and your work mercilessly vivisected by another writer? The scathing reviews in The Times book section makes even the harshest reviews on Amazon seem like child’s play.

While only a few lucky authors will be reviewed there, most all will be reviewed online by readers. The question for me became: should I read my book’s reviews? I looked online for published authors addressing the issue.

What I found was an interesting debate that spread across the web about author’s, readers, and reviews.

Many writers don’t read them. Other’s think they’re valuable feedback. One author who responds to negative reviews with tweets prompted a debate between her and some readers over whether reviews are “reader’s space.”

I decided not to read my reviews, but this was before I was published. I asked my sister to read them but as they piled up I found I could not resist a peek. After reading many positive and a few negative ones I felt a lot better.

Reader reviews are unique, filled with emotion, and very unlike a critical review. People come to gush they love my book or say they hated it. To me the reviews are clearly written for other readers so when a reader says, “I just couldn’t get into it” that doesn’t bother me. My book can’t be for everyone.

But then there are those sweet reviews from readers moved by my story. They talk about how they want to hug me, or how the book changed them, or how the story haunts them; those reviews are treasures. Those are the kind of reviews that make all the toil of creating a book worthwhile. I’m glad I read them.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Guest Post: The Glamor Girls Of The Sky

 There are no more stewardesses. 

The stewardesses on airlines morphed into flight attendants who are both male and females.  In the 21st Century flight attendants are the generally congenial people who walk down the aisle of the cramped plane offering you a small cup of soda, an even smaller bag of peanuts and tells you to stow your bags before take-off.

The glamor of air travel has gradually disappeared and most passengers who navigate the extensive security at the airport and then squeeze into the seat on the plane, hardly consider it a glamorous experience. 

There is nothing wrong with flight attendants but they are a far cry from the glamor girls of the 1950s and 1960s who were called stewardesses. In Life magazine in 1957, there was a cover picture and featured article called “The Glamor Girls of the Sky.” 

The article details the rigorous training and selection process a woman must endure in the hopes of being chosen by the airline to be a stewardess. 
The stewardesses of the 1950s and 1960s were something very close to movie stars and were widely admired by men as sex symbols and also were envied by women of the era.

This was the world where the female protagonist, Amelia Ryan, inhabits in my new mystery “Fog City Strangler.” Amelia is clearly a “glamor girl” and admired all the men she encounters. 

The attention and admiration at that comes to Amelia as a stewardess is a two-edged sword. 

I found an old job application for stewardesses from the 1950s. The requirements show how far we have come as a society and specifically how far women have come in their quest for equality in the work place.

Here is a laundry list of the requirements for stewardesses. They are:

Appearance: Height and weight proportionate
Attractive ("just below 
Hollywood") Standards
Gender: Female
Martial Status: Single, not divorced, separated or widowed.
Race: White
Age: 21 to 26 years old
Education: Registered nurse or two years of college
Height: Between 5 feet, 2 inches and 5 feet, 6 inches
Weight: 135 pounds maximum

I'm not sure how a woman is supposed to react to the qualification--"attractive, just below Hollywood standards." Is it a compliment or an insult to be told that you are "just below Hollywood standards?" It's astounding to think of a job application which would list the "qualifications" as "white, single, female, a range for height and of course, a weight restriction. The weight restriction was a sliding scale. For instance, the fictional character, Amelia Ryan is 5 feet four inches which means she could only weigh 125 pounds. If a stewardess shows up for a flight above weight, she is grounded.

The airlines wanted pretty young, single women to provide eye candy for their well-heeled passengers who flew--mostly affluent businessmen. Once a woman was over 26 or was married she was asked to resign.

That of course changed.

February 11, 1958, Ruth Carol Taylor was hired by Mohawk Airlines and became the first African-American flight attendant in theUnited States.

Ironically, despite her historic breaking of the racial restriction, Ruth's career ended just six months later due to another discriminatory barrier: she married and was dismissed by the airline. Incidentally, only stewardesses had the age restriction and the marriage ban. No other airline employees and especially pilots, were under the same type of requirements.

In my novel, stewardess Amelia Ryan falls in love with Sam Slater. They want to get married. But Amelia also loves her job. She has to choose between marriage and continuing as a stewardess. It was a great dilemma for her.
The glamorous world of stewardesses was one of the only avenues open to women in the 1950s to "see the world" and have a career. But it came at a great price. Sam and Amelia are secretly married in “Fog City Strangler.” They keep their union a secret so she can continue to work for the airline. 
In an earlier book in the mystery series—“San Francisco Secrets” another challenge rears it’s head for Amelia--sexual harassment.  

A womanizing pilot, Mark Silver, is essentially Amelia’s boss and aggressively pursues her with unwanted sexual advances. There was no such term as “sexual harassment” in the 1950s.  As she tried to fight off  Capt. Silver, Amelia ponders the avenues she has to protect herself. There are basically none. 
Amelia wonders if she goes to the airline to complain about Silver if it will cause her problems, not the pilot. She fears that when she complains about the “sexual harassment,” the airline will just say that “boys will be boys.” 

Stewardesses routinely had to evade grabby male passengers and the unwanted advances of pilots. 

Sam is upset by the groping of Amelia and complains about her work environment saying that if anyone is attracted to my girlfriend they can “take a sample.”

It would be several years before the stewardesses unionized and stood up to the airline. There was a series of lawsuits that knocked down the discriminatory barriers for women. 

Fog City Strangler Blog Tour Information:

About the Author:
Greg Messel grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and now lives in Edmonds, Washington on the Puget Sound with his wife, Carol.  Fog City Strangler is his seventh novel and is the fourth in a new series of Sam Slater mystery novels. Greg has lived in Oregon, Washington, California, Wyoming and Utah and has always loved writing, including stints as a reporter, columnist and news editor for a daily newspaper.
Follow news about Messel’s writings and books at

Connect & Socialize with Greg!

About the Book:

As 1958 nears an end San Francisco is being terrorized by a man who calls himself the “Fog City Strangler,” who preys on pretty young blonde women.  The strangler announces each murder by sending a note and piece of cloth from the victim’s dresses to the local newspapers.

Private eye Sam Slater is worried that the Fog City Strangler may be eyeing his beautiful blonde wife, stewardess Amelia Ryan. Sam’s angst mounts as the strangler continues to claim more victims. His anxiety is further fueled when TWA launches an advertising campaign with Amelia’s picture on a series of billboards plastered all over the city. Sam fears the billboards may attract too much attention--the wrong kind of attention.

Meanwhile, Sam and Amelia are hired to try to find the missing daughter of a wealthy dowager who fears she has lost her only child. The missing woman went for a walk with her dog on Stinson Beach, near San Francisco, and seemingly vanished into thin air. The woman’s husband arrived at their beach house and found the dog running loose but there was no trace of his wife. The police are stumped in their investigation.

As Sam and Amelia look into the disappearance of the woman on the beach they discover that nothing is as it seems at first glance. On a stormy night a shadowy figure sets fire to the beach house where the couple is staying--hoping to stop their investigation.

Fog City Strangler is a stand-alone thriller but is part of the Sam Slater Mystery Series--Last of the Seals, Deadly Plunge and San Francisco Secrets.

Purchase your copy:


Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Review: One Exquisite Night in Paris

One Exquisite Night in Paris
One Exquisite Night in Paris by Andre Phillip Hautecoeur

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have to say, this was a good book. It got off to a slow start, but then it picked up and I enjoyed it. I love Paris and this book took me back to my first trip to Paris. I enjoyed walking down some of the familiar streets with Andre and Eff. I also found some ideas of places that I would like to go the next time I am there.

This book is part love story between two people who initially don't speak the same language, part travel guide as it details life in New York and their trips to Paris. Their efforts to adjust to one another and to learn each other's language is interesting. They definitely had some ups and downs in there.

I think that I would love to try to follow their "One Exquisite Night in Paris" some time. I'm not sure if we would manage to get everything in or if we would end up doing something completely different, but the idea sounds like a lot of fun.

FTC Notice: I received a copy of this book from the author via the Virtual Book Tour.

View all my reviews

Guest Post: Andre Phillip-Hautecoeur


One Exquisite Night in Paris! Fantasy! Enchantment! Luxury!

I defy anyone to suggest anything more wonderfully romantic than One Exquisite Night in Paris!I’m in a state of perfect anticipation, looking forward to the elation I will feel presenting Eff with one exquisite night in Paris—an anniversary night away. Our enchanting fantasy will start in New York as a surprise. I will have done all the preparation and packing, suggesting we go for a night on the town, using taxicabs to easily get around and avoid the necessity of assigning a “designated driver.” As the taxi heads toward the airport, I will find the first appropriate moment to disclose in most romantic terms—by presenting her a hand-calligraphed invitation, on watermarked card with matching envelope, reading, “Forget the moon: Dinner in Paris!”—that our night on the town will unfold as one exceptionally special night, and a dream, in ParisFrance.

Accompanying the handwritten invitation will be a copy of the itinerary, defining each carefully chosen element, which perfectly culminates in our one unforgettable night. To start us off properly en route to the airport, it may be a good idea to have a half bottle of champagne, two paper cups, and some tissues at the ready. Of course, I will delay discussing what items I’ve packed since there will be no turning back.

  My simple wish was to craft a day packed with a whirlwind of activity, bounding breathlessly from one enthralling occasion to another, leading to a magical evening of superbly delicate dining and a memorable midnight fantasy moment; after a night of exhaustingly seductive revelry, we’ll run ahead of the rising sun into the passionate arms of warm, all-embracing love—an all-consuming excursion, where fantasy and obsession are the only prevailing sentiments.

Coming from New York, you naturally strain under the six-hour time difference, with Paris being ahead. The plane ride, though seven hours, isn’t seven restful sleeping hours. Whether in first-class or coach, if you take the Air France 7:15 p.m. flight and go to sleep immediately, you might get five full hours of restful sleep. Still, that’s more than enough to sustain you through the next day’s romantic marathon. I’ve done it several times, where once I get to Paris in the morning, I don’t go to bed till sometime the next day. Once awake, the following days are normal. That is the only real cure for le de’calage horaire (jet lag)—stay awake. Be reminded that this one exquisite night in Paris represents the highpoint of romance and adventure. Lovers should lust to wring every drop of passionate excess from one day and night in the most wonderful city on earth designed purposefully for just such a night. There is plenty of time to sleep when returning home with a dream and a memory to last a lifetime.

 Air France is always our first choice when going to Paris. Perhaps a small dose of Francophilia settles in even while at JFK. You get into the Air France plane, and—voila!—you’re already somewhere in French territory.   The 7:15 p.m. flight gets there at 8:35 a.m. And I don’t know how they do it, but even when we leave a little late, we still manage to get there on time. Maybe they just drive like mad.

Arrive in Paris8:35 a.m.

Arriving at Charles de Gaulle Airport to be met by our luxury sedan, a Mercedes S500 (driver with hostess): “Welcome to Paris!” I imagine we’ll float our way through the suburbs, crossing the city in early-morning traffic, and glide to the Plaza Athénée on Avenue Montaigne for a short stop to drop off our bags. Normally, unless you can arrange an exception, check-in isn’t until three in the afternoon; however, they will find some accommodation if you need to freshen up and change, probably at the luxurious hotel spa. A tight espresso and croissant croustillant at Chez Francis, a picture-perfect brasserie with outside seating, around the corner on the Place de l’Alma, facing the Eiffel Tower, would be as much as we’d need to freshen up and brace against the dawning day. The circle around the Place de l’Alma is always a hive of activity as tourists make their way to the Eiffel Tower while fashionably dressed Parisians focus on getting to their next appointments. Sitting with legs crossed at a sidewalk café directly facing the Eiffel Tower while sipping an espresso is the picture-perfect-postcard way to start the day in Paris.

About the Author:

Andre Phillip-Hautecoeur defines himself as, “…not a writer really.” He simply had an urge to write something about Paris.

It’s the city exactly at the intersection of romance, history, fantasy and enchantment; everyone faces Paris in some form of a dream. He came to know and love Paris hanging onto the hem of his wife’s skirt. She’s Parisian, she’s everything French without constraint; she makes understanding all of Parisness a pleasure. An understanding which made him want to write.

Together they make home between New York and Paris. Shuttling back and forth continues to be the ultimate dream.

His latest book is the contemporary romance, One Exquisite Paris Night.

Connect & Socialize with Andre


About the Book:

What’s the most amazing thing you’ve ever done?

Take a moment, close both eyes, summon your most exaggerated fantasy, and multiply by 1000.

Feel the extraordinary moment for a minute…then multiply it all by 1000 again.

That’s this story. It’s your story too.

If you were ever a little girl, or even a little boy with a romantic soul, you would have known very early on, that someday love would require you to do wonderfully ridiculous things.

And so, I’m going to explain to you, why the most intriguing thing you will ever want to do, is get on a plane and fly to an exotic dinner, at some elegant trois-étoiles across the ocean in Paris.

Purchase your copy at AMAZON

Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Guest Post: Wendy Tyson

Mystery solved: tips for a better image from an image-consulting sleuth

One of the advantages of writing about an image consultant-turned-sleuth has been the research.  Sure, I get to delve into interesting things like murder weapons, legal ethics, corporate misdeeds and police procedure, but I also need to dive into real-world image consulting.  Anyone who has read KILLER IMAGE will tell you that Allison is into much more than fashion, but the crux of her professional life is helping others succeed.  And part of that success is cultivating a great image.  I think Allison would tell you that a great image starts with a great self-image.  And the basis for a healthy self-image is learning to recognize the beauty and worth that lies within. 

Here are a few Allison-approved tips for feeling and looking good based on my research for KILLER IMAGE and my own background in counseling:

Cultivate gratitude.  A good image starts with positive feelings about yourself.  Too often, we judge ourselves by what we are not rather than what we are.  Learn to love and appreciate the inherent beauty of your own body.  When we stop to appreciate all the things our bodies can do, we cultivate positive feelings of gratitude.  So next time you feel like criticizing yourself for some perceived physical flaw, concentrate on the positive and think about the things you and your body can accomplish. 

Nurture your body.  Take care of your body and that care will show.  Treat yourself with healthy food, plenty of water and regular exercise.  While it’s tough to avoid stress, learn techniques for handling stress in healthier ways–go for a walk, write in a journal, talk to a friend or counselor, meditate, take a relaxing bath, get a massage.  The key is finding what works for you. 

Watch your posture.  Good posture can help you feel better and project confidence.  Confidence is incredibly alluring!

Learn to accept compliments.  I will admit, I am terrible at this.  When someone says something nice, I immediately feel awkward and want to respond with something self-deprecating to cover it up.  Don’t!  Learn to make eye contact, say “thank you” and leave it at that. 

Wear clothes that make you feel good.  Comfort is important–avoid anything too restrictive or tight that could make you feel self-conscious.  Think about the style you want to project, and then choose clothes that fit you well and make you feel good while projecting the look you want.  Below are a few things I learned about balancing fashion and comfort:
·         Invest in a few good pieces.  Pay attention to the details and focus on quality over quantity.  Good pieces–including good shoes–can go a long way toward creating a fashionable image while maintaining comfort.  A few basic, well-constructed pieces that fit your body appropriately can be the basis for a great wardrobe.  Don’t feel like you need to be a slave to whatever is the latest trend.  It’s more important that you choose clothes and shoes that give you confidence. Again, confidence is sexy. 
·         Consider before you buy.  Take a hard look at your closet.  What do you wear regularly?  What have you bought with the idea that it would look great, but in actuality you hardly ever wear it–either because it doesn’t fit right, is uncomfortable or because, while appealing, it doesn’t reflect the way you want to appear?  Be thoughtful about your purchases and learn from your own buying history. 
·         Add a splash of color.  Even if you have a job that requires very conservative apparel, you can add flash with color.  For example, a black or charcoal suit can be livened up with a colorful blouse, a fun scarf or a pair of shoes in an unexpected hue.
·         Accessorize.  Comfortable basics can be paired with jewelry, scarves, bags and watches.  This is another way to add color to a neutral wardrobe or to add flash in a way that doesn’t compromise how you feel in your clothes.  Plus, for those of us on a budget, accessories that cost less can help to stretch out a limited wardrobe.  I struggle with accessorizing (silver hoops are my go-to), but when I dress for my day job, I try to channel Allison.  Accessorizing is a simple way to perk up an image.

Do things you love.  When your mind and body are engaged in activities you feel passionate about, the enthusiasm shows in the way you express and carry yourself.  So, most importantly, remember to keep the joy in your life and have fun!

Killer Image Blog Tour Information:

About the Author:

Wendy Tyson's background in law and psychology has provided inspiration for her mysteries and thrillers.  Killer Image, published by Henery Press in October 2013, is the first novel in the Allison Campbell mystery series.  She has also authored The Seduction of Miriam Cross, published by E-Lit Books, the first in the Delilah Percy Powers mystery series.  Find Wendy at

Connect & Socialize with Wendy!


About the Book:

As Philadelphia’s premier image consultant, Allison Campbell helps others reinvent themselves, but her most successful transformation was her own after a scandal nearly ruined her. Now she moves in a world of powerful executives, wealthy, eccentric ex-wives and twisted ethics.

When Allison’s latest Main Line client, the fifteen-year-old Goth daughter of a White House hopeful, is accused of the ritualistic murder of a local divorce attorney, Allison fights to prove her client’s innocence when no one else will. But unraveling the truth brings specters from her own past. And in a place where image is everything, the ability to distinguish what’s real from the facade may be the only thing that keeps Allison alive.

Purchase your copy at AMAZON

Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Book Spotlight: Killer Image

Title: Killer Image
Author: Wendy Tyson
Publisher: Henery Press
Pages: 324
Language: English
Genre: Mystery/Psychological Thriller
Format: Paperback ($14.96) & eBook ($2.99)

Purchase at AMAZON
s Philadelphia’s premier image consultant, Allison Campbell helps others reinvent themselves, but her most successful transformation was her own after a scandal nearly ruined her. Now she moves in a world of powerful executives, wealthy, eccentric ex-wives and twisted ethics.

When Allison’s latest Main Line client, the fifteen-year-old Goth daughter of a White House hopeful, is accused of the ritualistic murder of a local divorce attorney, Allison fights to prove her client’s innocence when no one else will. But unraveling the truth brings specters from her own past. And in a place where image is everything, the ability to distinguish what’s real from the facade may be the only thing that keeps Allison alive.

Book Excerpt:

It started to drizzle. Cold, steely drops that threatened to morph into sleet. The rain hit Allison’s windshield, slithered in rivulets to the corners, and turned to ice, so that she had to scrunch down and squint to see the road. She fingered the envelope that sat on the seat next to her. Her head ached.
Home. She turned the word around on her tongue, flipped it backward and forward, and swirled it around until the nausea passed. At home lived a different Allison.  Fat ankles. Uneven bangs. A preference for peanut butter right from the jar.
“Self-reinvention is the key to survival,” Mia had told her when she was first hired by her mentor’s image-consulting firm. “In this line of work and in life.”
“Yeah, right. There’s no escaping the past,” Allison had wanted to say in response. But she’d been twenty-five, poor, and disillusioned. Funny how an empty bank account can make one into a believer.
And so she’d Jennifer Aniston-ed her hair and painted her lips and learned the difference between Gucci and Prada, first for herself and then for her clients. She traded her third-floor studio in Ardmore for a two-story townhouse in Wayne and learned to navigate ten courses worth of silverware. Eventually she married Jason, her mentor’s son, a man with a nice, normal American surname and then divorced him, keeping the name as a booby prize. Chalupowski would have looked awful on a book jacket.
At times, she missed the old Allison. She missed the energy of idealism and the ease with which someone who has nothing can move through the world. She knew this new life was based on the perpetuation of a lie, of a million little daily lies. But the lies, if told often enough and with enough enthusiasm, could become truth.
Just look at her.
Allison kept one hand still on the steering wheel and used the other to peel back the flap of the envelope. Wedged between the stiff edges of her mother’s official documents sat the sickly yellow of an old newspaper clipping. She knew without touching it, without reading the bold-lettered headline, what it said. Man Drives over Embankment in Apparent Homicide/Suicide Attempt. Her father. Her mother. And over twenty years later, the pain still blanketed her like a low-lying fog.
She pushed the article back into the packet. Miraculously, her parents had lived through the ordeal with few serious injuries, but the emotional wounds had never really healed. Your mother has Alzheimer’s, Allison, her father had said back then, as though that simple fact explained everything. It’ll be uphill from here. So the years before that, the mom-has-a-migraine-and-is-in-her-bedroom-make-us-some-dinner-watch-your-sister-Allison years, were the easy ones?
Allison shook her head. The contents of that envelope didn’t tell the full story any more than a pile of individual timbers resembled a finished house. Where were the court hearings, the social workers with their shopworn empathy and mind-fuck questions, the belt beatings, the experimental drugs and doctors’ visits and furtive glances when the electricity went off because no one had paid the bill?
The rain stopped.
Allison flicked off her wipers and made a left onto her parents’ street. Tiny ranch house after tiny ranch house, all with tiny yards and chain-link fences. She pulled up to their home, behind a grit-sprayed Ford. From the outside, nothing much had changed. Same peach-colored stucco, same white stone-filled flower beds, same crumbling walkway. Though it was nearly spring, a woven-wicker doe and fawn, leftover Christmas decorations, remained in the front yard. The doe lay on her side. The fawn stood over her, as though in mourning.


Killer Image Tour Page:

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Book Spotlight: "Why Am I An Independent Conservative"


 Why I Am an Independent Conservative
Genre: Political
Author: Karen Jourden
Publisher: iUniverse
Pages: 276
Language: English
Format: Ebook

Liberty is never free—it comes at a cost. Throughout the history of the United States, our freedom has been safeguarded through immense sacrifice. But without the truth and knowledge of the past, this liberty can be threatened.

Bringing to light some of the key incidents of American history, author Karen Jourden seeks to safeguard liberty by remembering the past in Why I Am an Independent Conservative. She delves into early American history, the writing of the US Constitution, the American Civil War, and Franklin D. Roosevelt’s massive government expansion during the Great Depression.

Urging all Americans to do their research, Jourden offers her straightforward,unvarnished opinion on the state of America today. She tackles tough subjects, including threats to our freedom of speech, the rise of the ACLU, liberalism, environmental activism, and much more.

Keeping America free requires hard work, dedication, and, above all, vigilance. This treatise seeks to light the path for concerned Americans to take a stand, urging them to protect liberty and justice for all.


Karen Jourden was born in Louisiana in 1951. She received a BA in business administration from Adams State College and an associate’s degree in office technology from Trinidad State Jr. College. Jourden lives in Colorado with her husband, Don, a retired disabled veteran of the US Navy.

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