Saturday, March 28, 2015

Meet Anne K. Edwards, author of 'This and That—Collection of Light and Dark Tales'

Anne K. Edwards enjoyed the printed word from the time she learned to read. In the third grade she got an honorable mention in a class writing contest where one had to add an ending to a story.  That was when she found how much fun and freedom there was in writing stories of her own and how much she loved writing them. Her twin loves of reading and writing finally brought her deep satisfaction when she was signed to that first publishing contract.  

Q: Please tell us about This and That—Collection of Light and Dark Tales, and what inspired you to write it.

A:  This particular book was written over a period of years in the form of short stories about a wide variety of subjects in various genres.  Each one was inspired by some new story idea or a twist to an old theme.

Q: What themes do you explore in This and That—Collection of Light and Dark Tales?

A: The themes of the stories vary according to subject. For instance, the old idea of vampirism--what would happen to a vampire if he drank his own blood? Or that old idea of the devil attempting to take over the world and outsmarting himself. Or what would happen if Death had to hire a detective to help him? I know those aren’t standard themes, but I actually like to write “What would happen if—“ stories using that as the theme.

Q: Why do you write?

A: Because I can’t not write. Ideas keep coming and in order to save what others might laughingly call my sanity, I must try to flesh them out. Writing can be called an addiction or something that won’t let me be until I get that idea down on paper.

Q: How picky are you with language?

A: I prefer to use a relaxed form of language as the formal version would never fit in fiction. And even in nonfiction, formal or proper language can be stiff sounding. Writing as one would speak is much easier and much more readable, particularly in fiction.

Q: When you write, do you sometimes feel as though you were being manipulated from afar?

A:  I don’t know. I do often wonder where ideas originate and how they reach my consciousness. It happens when I write, the results seem to be someone else’s words. 

Q: What is your worst time as a writer?

A: Starting a new work and getting that first chapter right. And though I know how a tale ends, I often have trouble reaching it and the result is the characters have other ideas and a new ending is necessary. Thus, doing things over and over is what I’d say is my worst time as a writer.

Q: Your best?

A:  Reaching those final words ‘The End’ and being really satisfied with the way the story is written and its outcome.

Q: Is there anything that would stop you from writing?

A: Only if I were to lose the ability to create. Scribbing for its own sake gives no reward.

Q: What’s the happiest moment you’ve lived as an author?

A:  The happiest moment would be the first contract as with most writers, but finishing a book is also a moment of great satisfaction. This however is balanced by the immediate intrustion into that happiness of new ideas and new characters demanding to be heard.

Q: Is writing an obsession to you?

A: It comes close. I have tried to quit a few times when disappointed in results only to find it nagging at me to start again and again and again.  Writing is a nagging voice demanding audience and only shutting up when the writer takes up a clean sheet of paper and starts to write or turns on the computer and presses those first keys. So I’d likely say the force that makes us write is the obsessive while the writer must let themselves be manipulated by it to find any peace.

Q: Are the stories you create connected with you in some way?

A: No. I find an interest in many things that have nothing to do with me personally, such as worrying about the end of the world as in one story, or what will happen to civilization as we know it if greed in its many forms takes over. Those things aren’t likely to happen in  my lifetime so I see no connection except the desire to write the story. I have reached into my past to select characteristics for people, and perhaps some places as backdrops for a tale, but that’s the limit.

Q: Ray Bradbury once said, “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” Do you agree?

A: I don’t think so. Reality is living everyday life, family, jobs, friends, and so forth and enjoying it.  Unreality is the fiction that can be based on reality, but isn’t the same. To write, one uses forms of reality as a base and then stretches it, like emotions in reality may run a course and then we move on, but characters in a thriller may become so locked in grief they become serial killers of the most horrible kind.  I know people suicide from reality, but it is usually a twisted perception that drives them or some experience that scars their psyche so badly they cannot bear the pain and this has nothing to do with writing.

Q: Where is your book available? 

A.    Amazon and perhaps the publisher First Realm Publishing.

Q: Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about you and your work?

A: Yes.  Be sure to meet my muse, Swamp Thingy in his column, One Muse’s Opinion

Friday, March 27, 2015

Guest Post from Elle Emtage, author of Gray Skies

Title: Gray Skies
Author: Elle Emtage
Publisher: iUniverse
Pages: 170
Genre: Romance
Format: Ebook
 Purchase at AMAZON

 Dunstan’s dashing good looks, thriving business and exotic lifestyle made him one of the world’s most sought after bachelors; but none of this seemed to quell Dunstan’s desire for Destiny. As their courtship evolves their romance is woven from a tapestry of classical beauty and romantic places in the orange light of the Tuscan sun. To Destiny, her life once filled with endless days of meetings and long nights alone is now full of life and love in a whirlwind romance. In the midst of their developing relationship however, tragedy rips them apart and she discovers a thread in time which links their existence to an unbelievable possibility. This possibility threatens their very existence, but Dunstan, fueled by his love, will stop at nothing until he reclaims what he has lost. A fantasy romance novel, Gray Skies demonstrates how true love can even overcome obstacles set by the universe.


Guest Post – Gray Skies

As I’ve gone through life’s celebrations and challenges I’ve come to the undeniable realization – Writing is in my DNA. My adventures are colored in verse and rhyme, my thoughts are painted on a canvas of imagination and experiences born in day and night dreams. I see events in words.
My writing is tempered by my emotions. If I’m not in a good place then I can’t write – which is ironic because writing takes me to that ‘good place’. Very often I have to push myself to a chair to calm the thoughts exploding in my head by putting them in print. Each and every time as soon as my fingers touch the keyboard or finger the leaf of my journal (yes I actually prefer a good old pen and paper) my initial hesitation disappears as if there was never a cause for concern. So what happens when I can’t write? I write!
Writing is therapeutic for me. It soothes. It calms. It provides the passageway into the recesses of imagination where life is exciting, adventurous, predictably unpredictable, passionate, thrilling – I guess all the things that real life (for me anyway) isn’t. Not that I’m unhappy with who I am – I’m just overwhelmingly happy that I have an avenue that allows me to escape into a fantastic reality without the use of any vices – a win-win for me I think.
I’ve been asked on many occasions – “Why have you decided to publish at this stage in your life? And why a romance novel? That seems so unlike you!” And I had to sit back and really ask myself the same question but with a twist – why on earth did I take so long to bring a dream birthed in me from early childhood to fruition? What did I use to validate me turning away from the path that made sense? I came up with a host of reasons:
1.       There are so many writers out there – competing on the global arena will be tough…
2.       Agents aren’t going to sign unknown writers, far less will big publishing houses…(and from the Caribbean?)
3.       How can I make a living, achieve the ‘things in life’ on peanuts?
4.       Can people really get immersed in my style of writing?
5.       Do people even really believe in real romance or true love anymore?
…And the list went on and on….until I came to one important realization – if I didn’t live my dream, or at least try at it, how would I know how successful I could have been? And what is the measure of success? For me – it was turning the pages of my very first novel and realizing that everything that I feared – whether real or not – that the look on someone’s face when they get lost in the characters and their lives made it all worth it.   And dare I say? This is enough….

And so the birth of Dunstan and Destiny and their fantastic tale of their lives and love. Gray Skies Gray Skies is a wonderful page turner, centered on the characters Dunstan Moab and Destiny Tallum. Dunstan's dashing good looks, thriving business and exotic lifestyle made him one of the worlds most sought after bachelors; but none of this seemed to matter to quell Dunstan's desire for Destiny. Gray Skies is weaved from a tapestry of classical beauty and romantic places in the orange light of the Tuscan sun. To Destiny, her life once filled with endless days of meetings and long nights alone is now full of life and love in a whirlwind romance. 

In the midst of their developing relationship, however, tragedy rips them apart and she discovers a thread in time which links their existence to an unbelievable possibility. This possibility threatens their very existence, but Dunstan fueled by his love, will stop at nothing until he reclaims what he has lost. A fantasy romance novel, Gray Skies demonstrates how true love can even overcome obstacles set by the universe.

Elle Emtage is a business professional and has been published in several media houses. Elle’s passion for writing has transformed throughout the years and she is sharing her love of romance and intrigue through the début of this novel. Elle and her family consider themselves fortunate to live on the beautiful island of Barbados.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Interview with Sands Hetherington, author of Night Buddies Go Sky High

Title: Night Buddies Go Sky High
Author: Sands Hetherington
Publisher: Dune Buggy Press
Pages: 144
Genre: Children's Book
Format: Paperback

 Young John Degraffenreidt and his red crocodile buddy, Crosley, show up at the Pineapple Cheesecake Factory and find Big Foot Mae lying on the floor, staring up at her Great Star Puzzle on the ceiling. Crosley only wants a new supply of pineapple cheesecakes, but what Mae points to on her ceiling will start the Night Buddies on a totally new fantasy adventure. A suspicious white dot has passed through the Corkscrew Constellation and is now moving underneath the Hound Dog Stars. Across the Borough, Crosley s brother Crenwinkle sees the same curious speck in the sky. It looks to be a long night for sleepyhead John, but thanks to the time spreader dingus with its sleep retardant setting, he gets right into their next escapade. Join the Night Buddies as they embark on another Program, this time taking them all the way into the stratosphere in their racing blimp.

For More Information

  • Night Buddies Go Sky High is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
Q: Please tell us about Night Buddies Go Sky High, and what inspired you to write it.

A: Hi, thanks for having me.
Night Buddies Go Sky High is the third book in the Night Buddies series, and as such, was inspired by the other two.  So I need to go further back.  When my son John was six, he invented a red crocodile named Crosley to be an after-lights-out companion.  Crosley got to be an important member of the family, and it eventually occurred to me that John and Crosley could be the basis of adventure stories.  Once I figured out why Crosley was red (he is allergic to water), the first story (Night Buddies and the Pineapple Cheesecake Scare) fell into place.  Most of my inspiration was the wacky character John had invented.

In Night Buddies Go Sky High, a mysterious new dot has appeared in the night sky, and our two friends decide they'd better investigate.  They modify their racing blimp to withstand extreme altitude and take off.  What they discover twenty miles up is jaw-dropping.  And that's only the beginning.  The phenomenon follows them back down to earth and does not mean well.

Q: What themes do you explore in Night Buddies Go Sky High?

A: The formula for the three Night Buddies stories is a young boy who isn't ready to go to sleep yet, and a goofy red crocodile named Crosley who sneaks him out of the house on adventures.  Crosley is nuts about pineapple cheesecakes.  He is forever on the lookout for them.  And there is a gang of six bad iguanas that the Night Buddies have to outsmart.

So that's the gist.

Q: Why do you write?

A: For the hoped-for good result.  I'm very deliberate and actually sweat during the process.  It can be a grind for me, except when the "endorphins" take over.  It's a little like Dorothy Parker said: "I hate writing.  I love having written."

 Q: How picky are you with language?

A: I like to use a lot of dialect.

Q: When you write, do you sometimes feel as though you were being manipulated from afar?

A: Not really.  I just get my green clipboard and Cross ballpoint pen and crank the stuff out.  Once in a while, happily, the business starts writing itself.  I don't feel at all manipulated then, though; I feel like I did in a 5K race once when I got a big shot of endorphins halfway through.  I feel like, Yeah, this is what I want, now I'm really getting it on, let's run with it!  When this happened in the race, I must have passed twelve people.  Would that such a thing happened more often.

Q: What is your worst time as a writer?

A: When I get stuck.

Q: Is there anything that would stop you from writing?

A: Discovering that I don't have it.  A massive stroke.  A visit from three spirits.

Q: What’s the happiest moment you’ve lived as an author?

A: When the seven awards for the series started coming in.

Q: Is writing an obsession to you?

A: No.  I just think it's a really cool thing to do.

Q: Are the stories you create connected with you in some way?

A: Only in the sense that my son invented Crosley.  I was the custodial parent, and John and I did a lot of bedtime give-and-take about Cros---what he had been up to that day, new attributes, and so forth.  This went on for over a year, and we really fleshed out the character.  The other protagonist (the boy) is based on John.  I suppose this amounts to somewhat of a connection.

Q: Ray Bradbury once said, “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” Do you agree?

A: Brother Bradbury isn't like most of us.  If that's what works for him, that's great.

Q: Where is your book available?

A: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, independent bookstores.

Q: Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about you and your work?

Sands Hetherington, the creator of Night Buddies series of chapter books, credits his son John for being his principal motivator. Sands and young John developed the Crosley crocodile character in the series during months of bedtime story give-and-take. They collaborated many nights on escapades starring John and Crosley, until eventually it occurred to Sands why it was that Crosley was bright red. That was when the first book came together.

 Sands raised his son as a single parent from the time John was six. He read to him every night during those formative years: all of the classic children’s stories from Aesop through the Grimms, Lewis Carroll, Frank Baum, Tolkien and Dahl, with a lot of Dickens and Hugo thrown in. When school was out they got in the car and toured Alaska, Canada and most of the contiguous states. John still gets around. So far he has lived in Germany, Scotland, Russia, England and Spain.

 Dogs have always been a part of the author’s life, beginning with Whiskers, a cocker spaniel. When his wonderful boxer Hube died, he despaired of finding a boxer who could match him, and instead got a Saint Bernard. He ended up breeding Saints for a number of years and at this point has had twelve as house pets. Sands says dogs can do you a power of good, and if you lose one, go out and get another the next day and you will be surprised at how fast your grief goes away.

 Sands is also a Civil War buff. He would like to spend a month of evenings with common soldiers from both sides to see how they felt about the business. And eccentric generals like Jackson, Sherman and Forrest, and most of all Lincoln. Because Lincoln never gets to smile in his pictures.

 The author was born in New York City but was transplanted a year later to Greensboro, North Carolina, where his maternal grandmother lived. He never really left the area and has a lot of the South in him. His grandmother was a prominent educator and became a great friend and mentor.

 Sands majored in history at the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) and has an M.F.A. in creative writing and an M.A. in English from UNC-Greensboro. He lives in Greensboro now, and hangs out with his longtime friend Ann and their Saint Bernards Dudley and Maggie. He likes visiting ancient Mediterranean sites in Turkey and Italy, and most of all Greece.

  For More Information

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

10 Tips to Becoming a Better Writer by author Andrea Michaels


Title: Reflections of a Successful Wallflower
Author: Andrea Michaels
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Pages: 340
Genre: Business Memoir
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Reflections of a Successful Wallflower can only be compared to reading the diaries of Andrea Michaels, considered to be the backbone of the special events industry. This multiple award-winning business woman shares openly and candidly, not only the public wunderkind but the inner woman. Discover the workings of one of the foremost event producers in the world. You'll laugh; you'll cry; you'll be in disbelief and fascinated at the same time. Andrea is a storyteller, and her stories and her life are great lessons for everyone.

For More Information

10 Tips to Becoming a Better Writer

Want to become a better writer? Here’s what’s worked for me.

1. Don't worry about chronological order, i.e. starting at the beginning and then working through until you have an ending. Just write down whatever you want in any order at all ... when you are done with all your thoughts,  it will find its own natural sequencing.
2. If you come to a block, start talking. Writing is really putting the spoken word on paper. It will find natural punctuation in your pauses and breaths. Have a conversation with yourself if there are various points of view to be explored.
3. Imagine you are watching a movie of your book. Who is doing what, what do they look like, how do they move, what do they say, what are they thinking?
4. Storyboard. Put down all of your ideas, no matter how insane they might be at the time. And then use as many of them as are valid and discard the others. There is no such thing as a bad idea.
5. Pick a person you are close to and write them a letter that begins with "Dear ????" and ends with "I love you, (signed with your name),  and then share all of your thoughts with them. Now take out greeting and signature, and you'll have part of your book written.
6. Read what you write aloud. If it doesn't sound good it won't read well either.
7. Remember Miles Davis' quote: His best music came from the notes he didn't play. Edit and don't fill space just to fill space. Every word needs to mean something.
8. Don't stop yourself if you don't spell well or punctuate well. That's what computers are for. And if you don't use proper grammar and it works, let it go. There are no rules.
9. You can either start with your title or it can come at any time. Now when you have it, does it really tell you what's inside the book?  Imagine yourself seeing a book on Amazon with that title. Would you buy it? If you open up to the first page, will you read beyond the first sentence?
10. Decide if it matters if anyone else reads the book. It's one thing to write merely for yourself. It's another when you want others to read it. For the first you can be indulgent. For the second, you cannot.

Winner of 39 Special Events magazine Gala Awards, Andrea was honored as the “Pillar of the Industry” during The Special Event Gala in 2014. This unique one-time-only achievement award, on the heels of the 25th Anniversary of Extraordinary Events, recognized Andrea for a lifetime of elevating the quality, integrity, creativity and impact of the events industry, as well as spearheading its international outreach. Andrea is also the first inductee into the Special Event Industry Hall of Fame and the recipient of the coveted Special Event Award of Excellence and a Lifetime Achievement Award. Additionally, she has won the M.P.I. Global Paragon Award and a SITE Crystal Award, among many other such honors. Andrea has planned and produced events since 1973, expanding from local Los Angeles based events to a dominant international presence.

How does Andrea stay ahead of the competition and consistently exceed her clients’ expectations? She listens. To her clients. To her vendors. To the industry. Then she integrates that very precise information in order to achieve her clients’ individual goals through creative marketing and integrated special events. What does this mean and how does it benefit you? It means that Andrea will promise that your needs are understood, your goals are met, and your budget is respected. All achieved through listening.

Andrea thinks of each event like a play…with an overture, acts, and finale, which brings a satisfying experience to all who attend her events. She believes in intense communication through marketing strategies designed to fulfill the goals of each individual project.

Whether it’s a multi-day festival at Mall of America, the opening of G.M. Place in Vancouver, hybrid events for MINI, the holiday spectacle for Go Daddy or multi-day programs throughout Europe, Asia or Latin America, no event is too small or too large. All are given equal attention.

Andrea’s conceptualization skills, logistical savvy, and ability to produce the mega-event for thousands of guests are legendary. Each event presented to her is analyzed for its specific needs. Her ever-growing clientele is loyal, and many clients have been with her for more than 20 years. These sought-after relationships are based on proven performance and enriched with trust and ethics. She listened carefully 25 years ago. She listens now.

Andrea is now a published author. Available on Amazon as a hard-bound book or on Kindle, as well as at Barnes & Noble book stores, her book, Reflections of a Successful Wallflower; Lessons in Business, Lessons in Lifeis a tell-all, in-depth glimpse into her personal and professional life and is quite a read! Other books co-authored by Andrea include: Stepping Stones to Success with Deepak Chopra and Jack Canfield;

Yes You Can! Reaching your Potential While Achieving Greatness with Dr. Warren Bennis and Jim Rohn; Bushido Business – The Fine Art of the Modern Professional with Tom Hopkins, Brian Tracy and Stephen M.R. Covey; and Mastering the Art of Success with Mark Victor Hansen, Les Brown and Jack Canfield.

Follow Andrea on and Twitter @extraordinaryev.

For More Information

Santo Nino, The Body of Christ by Romito S. Olaguer Book Feature - Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Title: Santo Nino, The Body of Christ
Author: Romito S. Olaguer
Publisher: iUniverse
Pages: 312
Genre: Religion/Christianity
Format: Ebook/Paperback
Purchase at AMAZON

 John 18:36 We, Members of the Body of Christ are not of this world, although we live in this world. Romans 8:31 If God be for us (Body of Christ) Who can be against us.


Romeo S. Olaguer is a retired offshore oil and gas production employee in the Gulf of Mexico and other parts of the world. He has a BS degree in Mechanical Engineering from Mapua Institute of Technology in Manila. This is his first book he is attempting to publish titled Santo Nino, The Body of Christ. He believes writing this book is the will of the Holy Spirit for he has no journalistic background. He has a great family living in California.

Romito is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Amazon Gift Certificate or Paypal Cash.
  • This giveaway begins March 16 and ends on March 27.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on Monday, March 30.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!


a Rafflecopter giveaway  

Silver Diaspora by Christopher T. Rand Book Feature - Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Title: Silver Diaspora
Author: Christopher T. Rand
Publisher: iUniverse
Pages: 320
Genre: Historical Memoir
Format: Ebook/Paperback
 Purchase at AMAZON

 At the outset, the members of author Christopher T. Rand’s family lived in a world of great wealth. They were among the richest people in the United States. But they then faced a dilemma: compelled to choose between staying on in their ancestral world or keeping up with the times in the nation around them and integrating themselves into the American mainstream. With each generation, the pressure on these individuals to choose between escape or immersion into the society became more and more intense. In Silver Diaspora, Rand examines his family’s roots in the northeastern United States and chronicles his journey through these times, against the backdrop of the family history. Embarking on a search of a better new world, Rand’s parents leave the East Coast and land in California. From here, this memoir follows Rand through college at Berkeley, travels abroad, work in the petroleum industry and his experiences as a writer. Describing the people, places and experiences that impacted Rand’s life, Silver Diaspora provides one man’s insight into the world in the latter two-thirds of the last century.


Christopher T. Rand has worked as a writer, consultant, and translator. He is the author of Making Democracy Safe for Oil and has worked on litigation with the Federal Trade Commission and the state of California. Rand lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, and has two children.

Christopher is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Amazon Gift Certificate or Paypal Cash.
  • This giveaway begins March 16 and ends on March 27.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on Monday, March 30.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!


a Rafflecopter giveaway  

Two Princes: The Biker & The Billionaire by Victoria Danann (Book Cover Reveal)

 About The Book 

Title:  Two Princes: The Biker and The Billionaire
Author: Victoria Danann
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher:  dba7th House Publishing, Imprint of Andromeda LLC
Publication Date: June 16, 2015

Preorder Book Buy Links:
Barnes & Noble
Apple iTunes

Brigid Roan is a graduate student at the University of Texas. She had no trouble getting her thesis approved, but finding a Hill Country motorcycle club willing to give her access to their lifestyle had started to seem impossible. Then she got a lead. A friend of a friend had a cousin with ties to The Sons of Sanctuary.

What she wanted was information to prove a proposition. What she didn’t want was to fall for one of the members of the club. Especially since she had set out to prove that motorcycle clubs are organized according to the same structure as primitive tribal society.

Brash Fornight was standing in line at the H.E.B. Market when his world tipped on its axis. While waiting his turn to check out, his gaze had wandered to the magazine display and settled on the new issue of “NOW”. The image on the cover, although GQ’d up in an insanely urbane way, was… him.

After reading the article, Brash threw some stuff in a duffle and left his club, The Sons of Sanctuary, with a vague explanation about needing a couple of days away. He left his Jeep at the Austin airport and caught a plane for New York, on a mission to find the guy who was walking around with his face.

Two brothers, one a player, one a playboy, are on a collision course with destiny and a woman who thought she won a prize when she was allowed a look inside the Sons of Sanctuary MC.

About The Author

Victoria Danann

Victoria Danann is the USA TODAY Bestselling Author of The Knights of Black Swan, which has won BEST PARANORMAL ROMANCE SERIES TWO YEARS IN A ROW (2013, 2014). Reviewers Choice Awards, The Paranormal Romance Guild.

Victoria writes cross-genre with uniquely fresh perspectives on paranormal creatures, characters, and themes. She is making her debut into contemporary romance with publication of the SUMMER FIRE ultimate romance collection anthology. It contains a novella intro to the Sons of Sanctuary MC series. The first full novel of the series will be released June 16, 2015.

Contact Victoria at:

Monday, March 23, 2015

Guest post: The Story behind ‘Seasons of Empowerment for Adolescent Girls’ by Irene S. Roth

Seasons of AdolescentsI have been teaching teens and young adults for over twenty five years, and I have discovered how vulnerable adolescent girls feel when they are in their early teens. I have also spoken to a few teens in my church and in other communities too, and they all expressed a very raw vulnerability, one that I remember very well.
I wanted so badly to help them. Yet, at that point, I had not done any research or work in this area. So, I kept reading for years and jotting my ideas down in my writer`s journal until one day something clicked:  I knew that I had to do something to help these wonderful girls to live the best life that they were capable of. And that is how the idea for the book was born.
It took me many more years to do a lot of reading and research. I also spoke to a lot of experts, psychologists at conferences and philosophers over the years. The more I spoke to these experts, the more I discovered that a book on empowerment for teen girls was a must. So, that is when I started writing this book, and continued writing the book until it was finished.
The first draft took me a few months to write. But the revising took years. But now that I am holding the book in my hand, I know that it was worth it. But what is more, the adolescent girls who have read my book are really transformed by it, and inspired.
Sometimes book ideas come and go. I have had many ideas for books over time. But after writing this book, I know what the true test for pursuing a topic is: if you are so passionate about a topic that you want to write it because you believe that the world needs to read about what you have to say, then go ahead and write the book. And don`t stop until it is done!
Irene S. Roth is an academic and freelance writer for teens, tweens and kids. She has written over 500 book reviews and 1,000 online articles on different topics for teens, tweens, and about the craft of writing. She also teaches workshops on writing and craft at Savvy Authors. She lives in Stratford, Ontario with her husband and cat. Visit her at
In Seasons of Empowerment for Adolescent Girls, Ms. Roth argues that there are four seasons of empowerment for adolescent girls. Sadly no adolescent girl can simply wake up one day, snap her fingers, and be empowered to tackle the world and all the forces that exist inside and outside. Becoming empowered to be who we are can be truly difficult. This book consists of a step-by-step guide to help adolescent girls achieve self-improvement.
Purchase at Amazon

Interview with D.J. Burr, author of I Just Wanted Love

D.J. Burr
Darrett “D.J.” Burr is a licensed mental health counselor in the Washington State; national certified counselor and a specialist in problematic sexual behavior. He has been in private practice in Seattle, WA for five years. D.J. is the co-founder, owner, and Executive Director of A.B.L.E. Counseling Services, LLC.

D.J. is the creator of ABLE Affirmations, ABLE Life Recovery, and the ABLE Care Clinic. D.J. published Unfinished: A GLBT Domestic Violence Workbook while completing his Masters in Community Counseling at Argosy University-Atlanta in 2009.

Born in raised in Marietta, GA, D.J. has been known to many as a survivor. His childhood was less-than-nurturing. D.J. spent the majority of his early years tending to other’s needs and wants; not knowing what his were. He kept fighting for more–more understanding of himself.

Unfortunately, D.J. lost focus after being targeted by a sexual predator. D.J. lapsed into addiction to numb the pain of the molestation, broken relationships, dysfunctional family of origin, and loss of his childhood. However, the addiction did not stop him.

Over 15 years later, D.J. has learned to live life instead of surviving life. D.J. found answers to his long unanswered questions, primarily, who loves me? Twelve Step recovery and rigorous honesty saved D.J. from a life of addiction. He can now say, “I love myself.” Loving himself allowed D.J. to stop chasing unavailable people, places, and things. He now focuses on his recovery, which impacts every facet of his life.

D.J. enjoys writing, watching movies, especially horror/suspense. His favorite band is Nickelback. His favorite R&B group is Destiny’s Child. D.J. is also a huge fan of old 80s-90s cartoons like Transformers.

You can visit D.J. Burr’s website at

Connect with D.J.:
Author Website:


 I Just Wanted Love

TitleI Just Wanted Love: Recovery of a Codependent, Sex and Love Addict
Author: D.J. Burr
Publisher: ABLE Counseling Services, LLC
Publication Date: December 31, 2014
Pages: 232 pages
ISBN: 978-0692299128
Genre: Memoir

D.J. Burr is a man on a mission; successful business owner, highly respected psychotherapist and survivor of a dysfunctional life. At a young age, all he wanted was to be loved, but instead found himself targeted by a sexual predator. D.J. slipped into a life of addiction and clawed his way through broken relationships and seedy sex clubs–looking for love in all the wrong places. D.J. will take readers on a roller coaster of emotions as he details his search for grace and love.

Book Excerpt:



Someone actually said they were addicted to me, and that was the straw that broke this camel’s back. I could no longer hold in all the pain and shame. I cried out in grief as I had this man inside of me and said, “Take the condom off. I need you. I am addicted to you too.” Every ounce of who I was washed out of me as I climaxed multiple times with this man who was not wearing a condom. When it got right down to it, I just didn’t believe I was worth anything. I wish I could say that I learned from my mistake that day, but I didn’t. I took that risk again and again with him and others.
At this point, I was utterly spent thinking about all the emotional baggage I had in my life. I just wanted to be wanted for me and who I was, but I didn’t know how to get there. Somehow, I thought I would find the answers to my questions at the bathhouse. The bathhouse I frequented was a place where men could freely have sex out in the open or in private rooms. There was porn, a steam room, and showers. The facility even provided vending machines that were stocked with lubricant, condoms, and candy.
I found a sense of false confidence when I visited the bathhouse. For example, when someone approached me and wanted to have sex, I felt empowered. After all, I could say, “yes” or “no.” I hardly ever said no. But, the joy of being needed by others was only temporary, and the power I felt was an inauthentic. It never lasted more than 10 minutes after I left. Always, I worried someone would see me walking out. Often, feared I might see a client there, and then what would I do?
With everything going on in my life at the time, I thought my business was the only thing worth salvaging, but I was wrong. I didn’t realize that through my obsessive sexual behavior, I was abandoning my own business too. I spent so much time worrying about my next sexual fix that often my focus and attention was not on my therapy practice and its growing clientele. Also, I was doing things that were actually illegal, such as videotaping men in restrooms or locker rooms. But what can I say? I got high from that kind of thing which temporarily relieved the pain and chaos swirling around inside me. The fact that I wasn’t getting caught was exhilarating. I actually thought this was normal behavior. In fact, I thought it was so normal that I never hesitated to send copies of my illegal videos and pictures to friends. They sent me their photos too.
I needed serious help. I started seeing a forensic psychologist who has been in the business for over 30 years. Every week I told him about my struggles, and every week he said the same thing, “Go to a meeting.”
But, I didn’t want to hear about going to meetings. However, my therapist was insistent; he wanted me to see how 12-Step meetings could work for me. During our sessions, he often pulled out the AA Big Book, having me read through “The 12 Steps.”
He encouraged me to go to Codependents Anonymous, but at the time, I didn’t get it. Along with “not getting it,” I didn’t want anyone to tell me about how I was “codependent.” Frankly, I didn’t have a real sense of what the word even meant. Most weeks, after therapy, I continued to walk down to the bathhouse to have sex for a few hours. Was I codependent on the sex?
Looking back at the summer after my sophomore year of high school, I now recognize this is when my codependence and sex and love addiction fully emerged. I wish someone would have told me that I was being targeted by a sick, child molester. While hanging out at my great-grandmother, Mama Sara’s house, I saw someone out of the corner of my eye. It was Kenny. I had always known him as one of my dad’s closest friends. While growing up, I had gone over to his home many times to play with his nephew. Kenny had always been friendly to me. He lived right across the street from Mama Sara.
After catching Kenny’s glance out of the corner of my eye, he walked over and asked if he could sit down next to me. I said, “Sure.” I had noticed that his wife and two boys were hanging out on his front porch…I didn’t really know them all that well. Kenny and I started talking, and he asked what was going on with me. Like always, he asked when was the last time I had spoken to my dad. Honestly, I couldn’t remember. Kenny always insisted that I call my dad and try to work things out. He was pretty much a broken record when it came to that subject.
After getting all the formalities out of the way, the conversation slowly turned to an awkward topic. In short, Kenny said he knew what was going on with my family and me. At first, I was puzzled. What he was talking about. But as he continued, it was like he had been a fly on the wall inside my house; he knew I was gay. I was baffled.
At first, I was angry and upset with Kenny. Then he told me he was interested in talking with me about it. He had genuine empathy for my situation, and he made an effort to understand what I must have been going through. Finally, I said to myself, here is someone who is finally willing to listen to me and possibly be objective about the whole thing. At that moment, I felt a ton of weight lifted from my shoulders. But the weightlessness didn’t last long.
After a while, the conversation between Kenny and I turned a little dark. It was like he was too supportive. It was like he was trying to coax me into saying something he wanted to hear, but I had no clue what that was. Throughout our conversation, I kept glancing at him, and he was just staring at me really intensely. His was a look I had never seen before in my life, and I started to get nervous. I felt shaky, and my hands got very clammy. Then, he popped the question I will never forget for as long as I live. He straightforwardly asked me to kiss him. I couldn’t believe my ears. This man was no less than two feet from my face, and he was asking me to kiss him. My heart started to race. At first I thought his gesture was some kind of joke, especially since his family was sitting on his front porch, directly across the street from us, probably wondering why he was even talking to me in the first place. And now, he was asking for a kiss?
I was now beyond nervous. I mustered up the courage to ask him what the hell he was talking about and why he was asking for such a thing, especially since his wife was right across the way. I asked if he was gay. He said he didn’t like “labels.” I thought this was kind of funny because I assumed his label as husband and father, should stand for a lot. But, I guess not. That’s when he told me he was interested in me. That was all I needed to hear to get totally freaked out. I had no earthly idea what to do next. I wondered, what interest could a 40-something have in a 16-year old? I told him I had to go inside, and he looked at me as if I were Juliet and him, Romeo. There was so much intensity in that look, and I was actually scared.
Now, I am aware the interaction I had with Kenny that weekend was his initial step in him “grooming” me for a secret, sexual relationship. It was a gradual, calculated process. Step 1: Targeting the victim Kenny sized my vulnerabilities up that day. He was empathic to my situation at home and assured me he was not going to be just one more adult interested in judging me for being gay. Kenny wanted to “protect” me.
I hurried into the house and went straight to my room. Once there, I began to cry. I was so confused. There were a billion questions rolling around in my head. I didn’t understand what had just happened. This grown man—my dad’s friend, a married man, a father—had just told me of his interest in me. He had asked for a kiss while his wife sat only 50 feet away. I was in total shock. Since I had no one to talk to, I had to deal with it all on my own. I definitely didn’t want to risk my family finding out. I cried myself to sleep that night.
Several days passed, and I hadn’t seen or heard from Kenny. I just kept thinking that the whole thing had to be some kind of joke. I tried my best to banish the incident from my mind. Well, no sooner did I try to do that, and I saw him again. Getting off the bus for my job at the mall, there he was.
We engaged in small talk. He told me he now worked a taxi route that included the mall.  When I heard this, I let out a scream in the back of my mind—this was all too much for me. If he was now working at the mall where I worked, this increased my chances of seeing him on a regular basis. Which really scared me. It occurred to me that maybe he was some sick man who lusted after young boys. If only I had decided to trust my own instincts. But eventually, I decided to throw that idea out the window because, if that were the case, why didn’t he do anything or say something before now?
One afternoon after working the morning shift, I walked across the street from the mall to catch the bus home. Kenny’s car was parked near the bus stop.  He had also been working that day, so we engaged in casual conversation at the bus stop for a few minutes. Our small talk wasn’t anything really dramatic, but I noticed more and more that I had these crazy feelings whenever I was around him. I found myself growing awkwardly attracted to this man who was old enough to be my father. After all, Kenny was 45 at the time, which was way older than my own dad.
Our conversation ended when the bus arrived. A few days later, I worked the evening shift and once again, rode the bus home. By the time I made it back to my neighborhood, it was dark. I got off the bus and headed down the hill to Mama Sara’s house. Everything was fine until I heard a car pull up behind me. I knew it was Kenny because his car made this awful sound. He stopped the car, and I turned around to see what he wanted. He asked if I wanted a lift to my place. Stage two: Gaining a victim’s trust I thought about it for a minute, and then I got into the car with him. That’s when he said he needed to make a quick detour to the local drugstore to pick up some ice cream for his wife.
We ended up talking all the way to the drugstore, and it was really interesting having such a lengthy discussion with him. I didn’t feel like a child when I talked to him. I felt as though he valued my opinions. I felt a connection with him. We walked into the store together to get what he needed and then headed back toward home.
On the ride back, the conversation took a turn to the topic of him and me. I still thought he was crazy. Why would he want me? I still hadn’t figured this man out. All I knew was that I was growing really attracted to him, and this became evident because I was so aroused around him. I couldn’t tell him whether or not anything could actually develop between us. I couldn’t think that far in advance at that moment.
The car finally reached his house and we got out and stood around on the sidewalk for a few minutes. Since Mama Sara’s house was right there, I was scared that someone would see me with him. As I started to leave to walk home, he pulled me back and held me. I froze. I liked it. I liked the feeling of his hands on me. But then, I quickly snapped out of it, pulled away from him, and hurried home. I knew right then I was in trouble. I actually liked this man, and he liked me. What was I to do? Kenny gained my trust, and I was on my way to “needing” him.
Stage three: filling a need A few days later I got a page on my pager. It was Kenny. I had totally forgotten I had given him my pager number. I called him back, and he wanted to know what I was doing and when I had to work. I told him I had to work that morning, and apparently, so did he. He gave me a ride to work, and it was so strange being in his car this time. I felt like a fugitive on the run. I rendezvoused with him further down my street so my family wouldn’t see me getting into his car. As he drove me to work, I kept an eye out for other family members’ cars. I just knew I would be dead if they knew I was with Kenny.
I finally made it to work undetected, and, afterwards, we planned to go to lunch. So after our shifts ended, we hooked back up in the mall parking lot and went to lunch at this little diner down the street. I felt so strange being with him. I was worried about what people might say. Maybe, they thought I was his son or brother? Maybe, they thought we were lovers? Hell, I didn’t even know what we were.
All I really knew was that someone was paying attention to me and thought I was valuable. He was interested in what I had to say and how I felt. I didn’t feel lonely when he was around. I didn’t feel scared anymore.
After lunch, we got in the car and headed back home. On the way there, he reached over and touched my leg. It felt good. I got this warm sensation. It was unreal. I liked his affection. I believe, on some unconscious level, I forgot this man had a wife and kids. Was I wrong for doing this? I didn’t know then. I was enjoying myself. After all the hell I had been through, I thought I needed to enjoy my surroundings, and he just happened to be a part of those surroundings. That’s what I told myself. I was a scared kid looking for safety.
We finally made it back to our street, and he pulled into his driveway. I looked back, and I could only make out part of Mama Sara’s house, so I doubted anyone could see me. He hopped out of the car and told me to come in. My heart sank. I couldn’t move. I told him there was no way in hell I was going into his house, but he kept begging me. He even came over to my door and playfully tried to drag me out. But still, I didn’t budge. Truth be told; I was terrified because of a serious look on his face, and I knew what was going on in his mind—he wanted to mess around. But, I knew there was no way I could do that. I knew I had to get my ass out of that car. He finally backed off, and I went home. I was relieved to be home, my heart pounding. I was all worked up.
The following days and weeks were filled with him trying to pursue me, and me not knowing what to do. He called me constantly. It didn’t matter where I was; he just kept calling. Having my pager going off so much was sort of nerve–racking, but I secretly enjoyed sneaking off to use the phone to see what Kenny wanted. Kenny called me from his home, work, anywhere—and this made me feel good. I felt like I was the only person in his life whenever I was around him. He paid so much attention to me, and I couldn’t have asked for anything more. Eventually, the fact that he had a wife didn’t seem to bother me at all, because soon he and I finally had sex.
It all went down one afternoon after he gave me a ride home from work. This time when he pulled into his driveway and asked me to come in, I didn’t hesitate. He took me to the back bedroom in his house.  There was a bathroom, mini-kitchenette, futon bed, and phone—it was like his own studio apartment. He showed me around the other parts of the house, and I saw his family portraits—he had a great-looking family. Step four: Isolation He closed and locked the bedroom door, and my heart jumped out of my chest.
At first, I tried to play it calm, walking around the room, hoping he wouldn’t try to do anything—but in the back of my mind, I wanted him just as badly as he wanted me. I had never been in a situation like this before. I had never even been interested in older men.
Step five: Sexualizing the relationship Then, it finally happened. He came up to me turned me around, and we kissed. I couldn’t feel my feet…I was floating on air. His lips tasted so good (smoker’s breath, but still good). The next thing I knew our clothes were coming off and we were having wild, passionate, uncontrolled sex. I had never had it like that before, so I just let myself go.
Kenny was so gentle with me. I felt so wanted, so loved at that moment. It was like nothing I had ever imagined or experienced. After we both had climaxed, he ran some bath water, and we both got in. I was in heaven. He washed my throbbing body, and it felt so, so good. We kissed some more and fondled each other in the bath.
I didn’t know what to think about the whole scenario that day. I was partially relieved because I didn’t have to keep telling him “no.” I was feeling very anxious because I worried that my family would find out. I became trapped in a web of lies and became even more isolated from my family and dependent on Kenny.
Step six: Maintaining control In the following weeks, we met secretly at his home, at work, around the block, in the shrubs near the mall—anywhere we could kiss and makeout. We would even sit out in broad daylight kissing in his car in the mall parking lot. It felt like a real relationship. I bought him sweet little cards from Hallmark, wrote him poetry, and did anything else I could do to show him how much he meant to me. He took me out to lunch occasionally. One time he even went to help me shop for school clothes. We bought matching “K-Swiss” t-shirts! Sometimes I looked out my window, and I could see him wearing his t-shirt, and I just knew it was some kind of sign that he was thinking about me.
Late at night, he came down to my house and talked to me while I sat on my screened-in front porch. He usually stood out in the street while we talked. One night, all hell broke loose. Mama Sara had apparently started noticing how Kenny was always coming over to talk to me (it was usually around 11 or midnight, but she noticed). Kenny and I were standing there talking about random things when my cousin, Samantha, came storming out of the house, demanding that Kenny leave me alone. She started ranting and raving about how he had no business talking to me. It was such a mess. I was pissed beyond belief. Kenny left, and I went inside demanding to know why in the hell she had decided I couldn’t talk to him.
I walked into the living room all fired up. I couldn’t believe Samantha had embarrassed me like that. I demanded an answer as to why I couldn’t talk to Kenny. That’s when Mama Sara said that she knew all about Kenny, and she knew he was trying to mess with me.
I told her that she had no right to tell me whom I could talk to or see. Then, she played the AIDS card. She went on and on about our neighbor whose son died of AIDS because he was gay. I had no clue why she couldn’t understand that anybody can contract AIDS, not just gay people. She got all emotional and started saying that she didn’t want me to be like all the other gays and die.
She then took it further by claiming that I was the cause of some fight Kenny and his wife supposedly had out on the street a few days back. I hadn’t heard about any fight. I asked how she knew about it. Just like I figured, she heard about it from all the neighborhood gossip. I was appalled. I wanted to get out of that fucking house so bad at that moment. I called Kenny and told him what went down. He claimed he had no idea what Mama Sara was talking about concerning a fight. From that day forward, everything at my great-grandmother’s house got worse.
Finally, it got to the point where I started lying about going to the library, so I could see Kenny. I thought my family was trying to take me away from the one that I loved so much. I had fallen hard for this man in just a month’s time. I wrote countless poems that expressed my undying love for Kenny. Here is a sample of one of the poems I wrote to him:
Piece of My Heart

Like a ray of light, you shined into my life.
You took my hand and held it tight.
I looked at you, very sweet, indeed.
You touched my soul and, like a thief in the night, you stole my heart.
I wasn’t willing to, give at first, but with your honesty and trust, I must.
Forever in a day, every second of every hour, every day of every month, I will always
Know you have a piece of my heart.
You cherish me, as I do you.
I may not be yours in the fullest extent, but in our hearts we’ll always be.
I love you with every inch of my heart, but remember only one piece is given when
We part.

I became even more isolated from my family that summer. Kenny had come into my life and became everything I thought I was missing. Every chance I could take to see him, I did. He told me he needed me. He told me he loved me. I was convinced that I was in love too. It wasn’t clear at the time, but I now know that my child molester had the ultimate grip on my reality.
It was as if I were under a spell. Never had I disobeyed my family like this and lied to so many people. I was different now; I was not myself. I became obsessed with Kenny. But, he knew I was only staying with Mama Sara for the summer, so he slowly tried to push me away. He finally succeeded when he asked me if I thought he would ever leave his family for me. I said I hoped that he would. He said there was no way he would.
And so, there it was. In a single instant, Kenny went from this caring, loving friend and lover to this evil user. But, I still couldn’t hate him. Before I left, he said he would always love me and cherish everything I had ever given to him. All of these moments ignited my addictions, but the stage was set much earlier in my childhood.

Author Interview

Can you tell us what your book is about?

I Just Wanted Love: Recovery of a Codependent, Sex and Love Addict is a book about my life as a person in long-term recovery from codependence, and sex and love addiction. I give readers a rigorously honest account of my life as a survivor of child abuse, as well as my life in active addiction and recovery.

Why did you write your book?

I thought it was important to tell a story that didn’t come from the lens of a celebrity “tell-all” or a tabloid account of a person in power being caught with his pants down. I wanted to tell a story of a young, professional, gay, black male whose life was turned upside down because of childhood abuse and found his way into the depths of utter despair as he looked for love in all the wrong places. Readers don’t hear a lot of stories like mine, if any.

What kind of message is your book trying to tell your readers?

The message is clear: you are not alone and there is help. Sometimes it is helpful to know that you are not the only person suffering with a problem. Having the knowledge that you are not alone bridges the gap between isolation and hope.

Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?

I have suffered from writer’s block. Music has been a great tool in conquering writer’s block. I am an eclectic music fan. My tastes run from classic r & b to hardcore rock. The beats and lyrics get my creative juices flowing. I often have headphones on while writing.

What would you do with an extra hour today if you could do anything you wanted?

I would be at the zoo taking pictures of tigers. They are my favorite animal and I believe I am spiritually connected to them. An extra hour with tigers would be a true blessing right now.

Which holiday is your favorite and why?

Christmas! I love to decorate and have people over to celebrate. I didn’t get to decorate much as a kid, so I go all out now. It’s so much fun. For the last three years, my friends have come over to help me decorate the Christmas tree. I typically cook up some yummy foods while they climb ladders and string up ornaments. It’s a fun time!

If we were to meet for lunch to talk books, where would we go?

We would meet at one of my favorite places in Seattle called Remedy Teas. It’s located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. They have over 150 specialty teas and their sandwiches are amazing. My favorite is the “Apple Pie” sandwich. It is warm and gooey and goes great with book talk!

What do you like to do for fun?

I write, listen to music, go to the movie theatre, travel, plan activities with friends, play video games, go to the park with my dogs, and bowling.

What do you like the most about being an author?

I like not being limited in the stories I can share. I can write about being an addict or create a fantasy novel that could rival the greats! I get to use my creative mind to do wonderful things and people are willing to read my stories. It feels good to have options in writing.

What kind of advice would you give other non-fiction authors?

Be kind, compassionate, and patient with yourself while writing. It is a process not an event.

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