Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Review of a personal memoir Bringing Hope by Debbie McKinney

Bringing Hope: A Disaster Relief Journey

c. August 2017, eLectio Publishing
$4.99 EBook
$14.99 Print
Buy on Amazon
ISBN 978-1632134066


About the Book
Sometimes the UNTHINKABLE happens!
When terrorists attack, tornadoes make homes disappear, or hurricanes have communities tumbling like building blocks, our hearts weep for those in need. With insight into a world most people are unaware of, Debbie McKinney brings us along on the true story of her volunteer adventures. Travel with her through both uplifting and emotionally challenging experiences. An engaging, honest, and heartfelt account of bringing hope to people after 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, northern New Jersey flooding, and Hurricane Sandy. Her daily journals provide a unique view behind-the-scenes of what a volunteer does, experiences, and feels.

My Review
If you’ve ever wondered what it was like for those who drop everything and purposefully run into trouble, McKinney’s book is for you. The author was a long-time Red Cross volunteer with understanding bosses in her field of college administration who allowed her leave time to go and help. Although no one could respond to every disaster when called, and McKinney didn’t, she was part of the recovery efforts of some of the worst natural and man-made disasters in modern American history. Bringing Hope chronicles her time rendering aid.

McKinney shares how she became a Red Cross volunteer, a little history of the organization, and the typical responses in both her large urban community of Milwaukee, and the smaller, rural community in northern Washington County. Then she shares her personal journals and recollections from heart-wrenching major disasters such as the terrorist attacks on New York in 2001, and two of the formerly worst storms to strike American coasts.

The book is personal as well as matter-of-fact, a tell-it-like-it-was account of her role in the aftermath of tragedy. Not an immediate responder for the biggest disasters, McKinney was part of the team to go in a week or more after the event and help people mitigate their losses. Some were easy to take care of; most involved hours on the phone, deliberate decisions of how much money to give, where to find the basic necessities, or counselors, all while living away from family sometimes for weeks in situations little better than the victims.

McKinney’s story doesn’t end with her personal account, it’s a call for action, encouraging readers to respond by finding ways to help others where they are. Bringing Hope is a great story that will touch your heart, make you see red, cry, and laugh even when it feels as though things will never be the same.

About the Author
Debbie McKinney is an accidental author, convinced to share the journals of her volunteer experiences after 9/11 in Washington, D.C., Hurricane Katrina in Mississippi, and Hurricane Sandy in New York. She grew up and began her twenty years of volunteering in Milwaukee. A former Financial Aid Director with a BA in Interpersonal Communication from Marquette University, McKinney currently lives in rural Wisconsin with her husband. She enjoys gardening, model trains, and traveling.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Little Girl Inside with Tonya Barbee

This is one of my stops during the two month tour for The Little Girl Inside: Owning My Role in My Own Pain by Tonya Barbee. This virtual book tour is organized by Write Now Literary Book Tours. This tour runs October & November. Follow the tour here.  Book your own tour here WNL

ISBN-10: 0692564802
ISBN-13: 978-0692564806
Genre: Non-Fiction

The Little Girl Inside is a prolific story of triumph and discovery of inner peace. With each page, the reader will be captivated while the author uses the writing pen as a sowing tool-seaming a garment of praise, banner of victory and fabric of joy. With imaginative color, the book is a perfectly designed combination of patterns expressing the maturation of a woman.

A uniquely designed transparent jewel every woman should own in her jewelry box. The Little Girl Inside is a ministry resource tool for women in search for transparency in the human heart. The author shows us how to overcome the inner battle of doing the right thing the wrong way, going from finding love in the wrong places to allowing love to be revealed in the right time and in the right place.

I made room for Sir Intellectual to bring what I thought were the remainder of hi things. I also made room on my health insurance policy just in case he didn't have any. Too bad it didn't occur to me to ask him. My ability to confront was non-existent. I decided not to wait until I returned to work to handle it. I contacted my carrier and updated my policy to include my new husband. 
The whole time I felt sad that he wasn't contacting his carrier to include me. I had a husband, though what caliber of husband, I wasn't sure. Sometimes I wanted to slap myself for being so needy that I overlooked important things and ignored flags, bells, and whistles.

TONYA BARBEE is a novelist and aspiring playwright. Her most recent published work is titled, The Little Girl Inside Owning My Role in My Own Pain. She is currently working on another project that complements this book. Tonya grew up in Durham, NC, a family of four daughters and one son. Her father, Woodrow served his country for twenty years as an Army officer, retired then taught ROTC for another twenty years and her mother, Doris, a college administrator. She is a proud 1980 graduate of Frank W. Ballou High School in Washington, DC. She worked in operations and management for Department of Agriculture for twenty years. For the past ten years, she’s worked as a project manager for Department of Defense in Washington, DC. She studied at National-Louis University where she earned her Masters in Business Administration in 2009.

Although she’s worked her way up the ladder in the federal government, she had no idea she would end up writing professionally however she has always enjoyed sharing her personal life through story telling with those she thought she could help. Then something clicked. As she writes, she is in hopes that her work reaches her readers that have been through something and have contemplated giving up. Her goal is to enable her readers to become empowered to keep moving forward to accomplish their dreams no matter what challenges they have been faced with.

Tonya resides in Bowie, MD with two of her youngest children, Christian and Zachary. Her eldest two, Andrew and Jessica left the nest years ago and have blessed her with seven beautiful grandkids.

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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Literary Search for Truth book review Ilago Villroth

Ilago Villroth’s The Inconsistencies: A Comical Tragedy in Two Parts
 The Inconsistencies: A Comical Tragedy In Two Parts by [Villoth, Ilango]
August, 2017
3.99 eBook
11.99 Print

I confess to reading this tale during a strange time in my life—newly set in a strange land in a home freshly built, so my review is strongly biased in this light.

Inconsistencies is surely that: if Kafka and Voltaire wrote together and had their essay edited by John Bunyan, perhaps part one, Confessions, would result. Augustine may not have been present much past Paris and the strange loss of a first love. It is a decades-long revision of a life of regret and experiment and more regret, and conclusion that something denied, God, is missing. Philosophical Confessions, then, becomes somewhat of a Pilgrim’s journey. Villroth’s principal narrator sets forth his reason in the opening: “This insignificant work of mine recounts my life’s Confession: all my terrible sins and failures are here told, as is my eventual journey toward Providence…my searching for and discovering Truth.”

Part two feels a bit like Ahab’s crew taking the Time Machine forward to a Brave New World with Robinson Crusoe, a land and culture well out of date and coherence, filled with characters all guiding the Pilgrim.

The Pilgrim’s last confession at journey’s end is that of repentance—“I destroy my altars! …let me repent, and so be converted, that I may be razed!”—before leaping into the watery depths to rejoin his long-lost true love.

This book is for readers who enjoy finding cues of theorists and philosophers, deists, visionaries in literature. Villroth explains his story is not necessarily “consistent”: both parts make up the whole, a cyclic story of realizing life is full of holes, many of which are self-inflicted, and the search for fulfillment. Highly literary, told in early nineteenth-century-enlightenment style.

Late Evaluate Your Life Day message from Suzette Webb

5 Keys to Trusting God’s Plan for You Even When Your Path Seems Unclear

from Lisa:
I'm so sorry this is posted late - but since pretty much every day should be "evaluate your life" day, the book and message definitely fits!
Thanks, Suzette.

CHICAGO, IL – October 16, 2017 – October 19 is Evaluate Your Life Day and Chicago entrepreneur and author of a witty and inspiring spiritual book says that trusting God is imperative at every turn in the road, especially at those that seem foggy or uncertain.  In fact, it is especially important that at those times when the path forward seems to be lost, we renew our faith in the Lord and in His ultimate guidance.

“When we find ourselves in an uncharted situation,” says Webb, author of Blues to Blessings: Moving from Fearful to Faithful, “it can be difficult to trust that God is still by our side, guiding our footsteps. However, it is precisely in those moments of uncertainty and doubt that we need to find the strength to rely on God’s wisdom. He is the one who will guide us to success and to happiness every time.”

Webb offers the following tips for putting your faith in God:

·         Be honest with yourself – Are you feeling uncertain? Are you beginning to doubt the path that God has set before you? Instead of ignoring your feelings, face them for what they are. Every faithful person has doubts at one time or another, but the key is that you need to confront them. Only then will you be able to move past them and into a space of complete and total trust in the Lord and His ways.
·         Get quiet – When you feel as though the walls are closing in and there is no easy way to move forward, you may begin to panic. However, allow your doubt and unfaithful thoughts to fester, you will not be able to see the path that the Lord has created for you. So, instead of allowing these feelings to overcome you, take a step back after you have articulated your feelings. Simply go on a walk or jog without music, or choose to ride in the car without the radio. However you choose to do it, take the time to get quiet and simply be in the moment.
·         Take Inventory – Examine your life both personally and professionally and recall all the blessings that God has given you. All that you have achieved at work and in your home is thanks to God’s infinite power, generosity, and guidance. Despite all the uncertain situations, hurdles, and setbacks that you have experienced in your past, you have arrived at this moment because of God’s expert guidance. Take a moment to give thanks for the myriad blessings He has brought your way so far and trust that more are on their way.
·         Set goals – Set 1 to 2 attainable goals that will allow you to have more faith in the Lord’s unfailing direction. Perhaps make it a goal to let go of a situation once you pray about it, or decide to wait for God’s sign before you act. In whatever way you decide to demonstrate your faith in the Lord, make it a goal to do so. That way, if your uncertainty begins to creep in, you can focus on your decision to trust God and the path He has laid for you rather than falling victim to any doubting thoughts.
·         Take action – Finally, make sure to be ready to take that first step as soon as the Lord shows you the way. Even though the road may not look like the one you envisioned, or may be more frightening or challenging than the one that you are currently on, have confidence in the Lord’s wisdom and take that leap of faith toward your miraculous future. If you remain faithful and go where God leads you, there is no doubt that you will find your miracle.

Blues to Blessings: Moving from Fearful to Faithful by [Webb, Suzette]
Blues to Blessings: Moving from Fearful to Faithful inspires people to leap from their comfort to their miracle by renewing their faith and trust in the Lord. With fitting Bible verses and engaging, powerful stories, it guides the reader to a place of deeper connection with God and with themselves to ensure they are living the fulfilling, purposeful life they were meant to live. For more information, visit www.bluestoblessings.com.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Life's Seasons

Charlotte’s Garden
By Shirley Johnson

Charlotte loved to work in her garden in the morning. She could hear the morning birds greet the day with a song. The refreshing dewdrops found rest upon the garden. The flowers seemed to smile back at the sun.

Charlotte worked hard at maintaining the presentation and growth of the garden. She knew with the proper care it would not only look beautiful, but create a peaceful atmosphere for those viewing it. From childhood, she knew which of the elements and garden intruders can interfere with the presentation and growth of the garden and which are harmless.

The garden often ministered to Charlotte. She embraced the seasons of the garden. It often shared reflections of life and whispers of hope.

While working in the garden a ladybug crawled on her sleeve. There was a time many years ago if this happened she would have panicked. She smiled and laughed to herself. She thought back to when she was a very small child. She was with her mom visiting at their friend’s home. The porch provided a favorite play area. Somehow a ladybug crawled right where she sat. She cried out to her mom for help.

Charlotte’s mom came running in response to her cries. While Charlotte saw a big intruder, her mother saw a simple little ladybug. “Oh, Charlotte.” “It’s okay,” said her mom. Her mom had gardened a long time and knew the difference between a harmless bug and dangerous ones. “This is just an innocent little bug that somehow landed in the wrong place.” She calmly scooped up the ladybug with her gentle hands, opened the screen door, and let it go.

Life’s seasons have a way of presenting itself with different problems. There are times when we have real problems, big problems that we need to face, address and solve. Sometimes though, we have little irritations that invade our space. They land right where we sit in life. They have us talking, repeating, agonizing and spinning our wheels. They interfere and distract us from the purpose and plan in our lives. They “bug” us.

When those little irritations land in our space,
look at them and determine how big they are.
Perhaps there are times when we too must open the screen door and let them go.

Shirley Johnson shares inspiration and encouragement through her writing. She is a member of SCBWI and ACFW. She loves to read and has volunteered at her local Public Library as an Adult Literacy Tutor. She shares her writing on her blog. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Say Yes to your Passion, Purpose, Power

Walking in Your Own Shoes
By Kolleen Lucariello

Here in my home state of New York, October ushers in the fun of pumpkins, apple picking and salmon fishing season. There’s also the beauty of leaves peaking, apple cider and cozy sweaters. Among the many things October has to offer, it has also been designated as Women Walking in Their Own Shoes month: a global call for women to say yes to their purpose, passion and power.

If you’re like me, fall also means it’s time to shed the flip-flops, put away the sandals, and slip your feet back into a pair of shoes. Preferably comfortable ones—it’s never enjoyable to spend a day in shoes that don’t fit.

Once, while visiting my parents, I slipped my feet into a pair of my mother’s shoes so I could retrieve something from the car. Immediately, I noticed we walk completely differently; she walks on the inside of her sole—I don’t. My feet in her shoes didn’t work well. Come to think of it, I’ve stood in the clearance section trying to squeeze my feet into the wrong size shoe all for the sake of cuteness. I’ve also clomped around in shoes too big out of convenience. Neither were comfortable. Did you know it’s possible to cause serious harm to yourself by wearing shoes that don’t fit properly?

Serious harm can also happen when insecurities keep you from walking in your own shoes. Just as there’s comfort when we slip our feet into our own shoes, comfort can be found when we slip ourselves into the purpose, passion and power God has given us.

Paul wrote, “It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone” (Ephesians 1:11-12, MSG).

When we say yes to Christ, we say yes to purpose because we discover what we are living for. We say yes to passion because we recognize who we are, and we say yes to power because we understand the kingdom of God is not based on talk but on power (1 Corinthians 4:20).

Cinderella was the only one who could wear the glass slipper.

You’re the only one who can walk in your shoes.


Kolleen Lucariello, #TheABCGirl, the author of the devotional book, The ABC's of Who God Says I Am, resides in Central New York with her husband, Pat. You can connect with Kolleen at as she pursues God’s heartbeat to change our identity—one letter at a time. 

Friday, September 29, 2017

Improve Marriage with Reading

One Proposal for An Improved Marriage
by Lori Lipsky

For the first time in our marriage, we decided to read a book at the same time so we could discuss it together. Credit for the idea goes to my husband, but I was excited about the plan and in total agreement with our book choice.

The Brothers KaramazovMy husband had once asked a well-read acquaintance we both respect to recommend several books that had been most influential in his life. One of the authors this man mentioned was Dostoevsky. We decided to choose Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. I’m a bit ashamed to admit what happened next.

I could make excuses, but the quick truth is my husband read the book right away and then patiently waited for years for me to complete it. I started in several times but got bogged down in the early pages by the long Russian names. Prior to this I had read Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina and some Chekhov stories so I’m not sure why I struggled. I guess I allowed myself to be distracted by life and by other books, and I put off the Dostoevsky. As I look back, I regret not making The Brothers Karamazov more of a priority. I eventually purchased an audio copy of the book and completed the novel.
After I finished listening to the book, we shared our impressions with one another. Remarkably, my husband remembered details of the book quite well. Since then, we’ve read or listened to dozens of books and discussed them. We have different tastes, but our interests intersect with authors like David McCullough, Louise Penny, and David Baldacci. When it’s time to order another Audible book, we’ll sometimes collaborate to choose a selection we agree on so we can both listen on our own, but then have the book in our shared reading history.

Our book talk is informal and brief, but it’s a treat to talk books with my husband. We’ve found discussing books often sparks interesting conversation. Good books teach me more about who I am, but each new book we share helps me learn more about my spouse, too. We’re learning together as a couple. We discuss dreams and ideas. Books get us talking, and in marriage, communication is a good thing.

About the Author:
Lori Lipsky is a writer and teacher. Her poetry and short fiction pieces have appeared in a variety of literary journals and magazines. She lives in Waunakee, Wisconsin with her husband, where she teaches piano at a private music school. You can find her at on Twitter @LoriSLipsky