Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dr. Phil, Reborn and Newborn Dolls, Christmas Hit?

Dr. Phil finally got around to exploring the continuing obsession with reborn and newborn dolls, along with reborners, reborning and all things related to these eerily lifelike dolls. For more, check out article click here to see article

There are tons of books out there on reborn dolls.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Interview with Tim Ferriss, Trial by Fire, Four Hour Work Week

Ihad an opportunity to interview Tim Ferriss, shortly before the debut of a show called Trial by Fire, a show I hope is picked up by The History Channel. In only 5 days, Ferriss used his talent and skill to learn the art of Japanese archery on horseback. See the rest of the article here, click here

Fascinating guy and I highly recommend learning more about him and his take on life.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

V is for Vibrators at Vermont Country Store?

Along with the usual books they carry at Vermont Country Store at, I was a bit surprised to see a new department, Intimate Solutions, which offered something a bit different from the old-fashioned, rustic goods I'd assumed were sold at Vermont Country Store. Every year, I looked forward to receiving this catalog and perusing the flannel nightgowns, the licorice sticks and items listed as practical and hard to find.

But...vibrators? I'm no prude but...vibrators at Vermont Country Store? Guess it is time for me to update my vision of the store's image!

Oh, yes...they do sell books there as well, including Nancy Drew mysteries and Raggedy Ann books. But I guess V is for Vibrators.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Reborn dolls and newborn dolls

Documentaries like My Fake Baby have gotten people more interested in reborn and newborn dolls, wanting to buy them or make them. What is your take on this form of doll collecting and doll artistry? Are they valid collectors' dolls - or a pale imitation of real infants? Check this out and feel free to comment: CLICK HERE FOR REBORN DOLL ARTICLE and MY FAKE BABY DOCUMENTARY I'll be taking a look at sites, books and sources of supplies so if you have any input about those areas, let me know

Monday, September 29, 2008

Best Christmas Books of 2008


If you're eager to know about some of the hottest Christmas books for 2008, listed below are some top picks. There are holiday novels as well as books featuring Christmas crafts, from making wreaths to decorating the tree. Children and animal lovers won't be disappointed either, with stories and books to delight them during the holiday season.

Here are my top picks: CLICK HERE

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Oprah's Risky Move - Picking Edgar Sawtelle for Book Club

Oprah's Risky Book Club Pick Please click on the words Oprah's Risky Book Club Pick to read of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle and the controversy and fuss about this one.

Or go here: Click here to see page to see more

If The Story of Edgar Sawtelle wasn't a novel on your radar screen before now, maybe the fact that Oprah Winfrey selected it as her Book Club Pick might perk your interest. I'd already been intrigued by this book before it was chosen for Oprah's Book Club since it was both among the most loved and hated books of the year, judging from reader reactions and comments I've been tracking at various book sites.

You can read about that at my other site, see link above, in an article called Why Edgar Sawtelle May be the Most Hated and Loved Book of the Year (August 28).

Picking this book could be a very risky move for Oprah and her viewers. Will they stick with a book that is over 500 pages and has a fair share of people who hated the book? If you read this book, you'd better be ready to either fall in love with it or hate it. There seems to be no in between. The Enigma of Edgar Sawtelle. Hope you share your take. For the record, I loved this book.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

From a friend's blog: questions about reading

This comes from questions from this blog:
I need to turn that into a link you can click but it is worth copying and pasting to get there.

The questions and answers:

What are you reading this summer?
Everything and anything -when I am not writing. I read often from online sources but did just start a book called The Historian, for the 2nd time, about vampires. I am a magazine addict and admit that. I have no hope of recovery. I also spend a great deal of time reading articles on Associated Content.

Recent books read include: books by Dennis Lehane, one by Timothy Sexton of AC fame (review to come up soon, I hope) and more. I am reading books about the economy as well as Six Good Innings (an advance review copy, nonfiction, about baseball and life).

What is the best book you have ever read? How many times have you read it?

I can't pick a favorite. It depends on my mood and needs and I do believe the right book comes along at the right time.

What was your favorite book as a child? Why?

So many! I liked The Red Pony, The Yearling, Lassie Come Home and many nature books, including A Squirrel in the Family. Also, To Kill A Mockingbird. These are just the tip of the iceberg. Lots of horse books, too!

If you could write your own book, what would you call it? I don't have a title yet.

What would it be about? I'm not sure but I would hope it would have heart and integrity and an unique style.

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Snow Queen - Sandra Dee version

Sandra Dee and The Snow Queen? If you think that is an odd combo, think again. Any Baby Boomers reading this one may have a vague memory of a cartoon seen in many kiddie matinees and then, later, on television.I'd suggest you find this in book form first as many editions exist. My favorite? Find the one with the name Jane Yolen attached to it. Incredible artwork, well told story.

Back to the film... the original film (the only one worth seeing, I think) was a translation of the Russian original, with one lovely song by Sandra Dee (Do What Your Heart is Feeling). It is worth looking up and you can get versions of it at Amazon or other dealers. Be careful to get the older DVD or VHS (and if you are fortunate enough to find an original recording, consider yourself blessed indeed). The soundtrack recording is now rare.

The soundtrack I love was made into an album from the English language version of the film, a 1957 Soviet produced animated musical film which was first released in the US in 1959, to the best of my recollection and researching abilities.

This was in the days when children were assumed to be able to listen to both the front and back sides of a long playing album, no video, sound only (like radio, only on a record player). My sister and I listened to that album so many times that I can still recite the song lyrics by heart and hear the voices of Patty McCormack, the ambivalent Angel, with her evil/good polarity... and the sweet, pained singing of Sandra Dee as Gerta. A classic movie! It was much better than the typical films shown at Saturday movie fests and I always cheered when it came up as part of the day's fare.

As a young romantic sort, I was entranced by the story of Gerta, the young girl who loves Kai (pronounced "Kay") so strongly and unconditionally that even when his heart is turned to ice by the Snow Queen, Gerta's love remains constant. She even goes in search of him, willing to face all sorts of trials for an uncertain future. One could do worse than to learn about unconditional love - and its challenges - at an early age.

Of course, you may want to introduce your children to other fairy tales, those which are on the page (not just film or record versions) as well. For children and adults who relate to multi-media presentations or are aural learners, the soundtrack or movie is worth searching out. Just get the original...sorry to be so repetitive about that, but it is worth stressing.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Why I'm Posting a NON book related post here

First off, I'm hoping Liz Pulliam - or another leading money columnist - will see this. I read financial articles regularly. If Liz or someone else doesn't see it, then I hope consumers will see this and think carefully about advertised sales and the wording of them. Liz is often a voice of reason in consumer matters.

A store made an interesting offer to us today. I posted about this on a website and over 80 comments later (and counting) everyone agreed with my take on the situation.

Basically, after complaining about the wording of an advertisement, I got a special "private and preferred offer" (my words) that gave ME 30% off everything I wanted in the store. It was a one time, one day offer, probably because I simply opened my mouth and squawked a bit.

I assume that many other customers did not get that advantage. We were told ONLY YESTERDAY that the card we got in the mail, the SPECIAL SALE CARD FROM A MAJOR RETAILER meant something different, according to "corporate instructions" and that the items in the store were already marked 30% down. The card meant nothing, really, and certainly not the implication that one could come in the store and get 30% off the price on the tags by bringing in the card.

A local manager agreed with OUR complaints about unclear or fuzzy wording, although he had to be called at home by a store rep before he instructed the store rep to give us 30% the already low prices on the items in the store.

I'll update you as the situation progresses and let you know - in this article - how it has progressed thus far.

But first..... how would you interpret this wording: " Find the fashion, accessories and home decor items you want right now at 30% off...." Would you not interpret that to mean that items in a store were 30% off?

Also, these words: " 30% off our original low prices on our best selection of Spring merchandise." as well as the words " Spring savings event - .....slashed 30% BELOW our everyday discount prices". And yes, the word, below, was in caps (as seen immediately above). I did not add that for emphasis.

I could understand the logic that only the "best selection" of Spring merchandise was 30% off. That sounded appealing to me. Gee, I thought, I could go into the store, look at the price tag and get an ADDITIONAL 30% OFF. Otherwise, why send me the card?

So the card was for a Spring sale with items priced 30% off the everyday low prices? If not, why send out a card? I assumed that customers who got the card would get 30% off the prices marked on the price tags on items in the store. I did NOT interpret this to mean that the prices on the prices tags were ALREADY marked down 30% and that you simply paid the price on those tags. This is where the confusion and communication with store management began...over the phone, first, as I voiced my complaints.

When asked about this card, I was told that ALL items I bought today would be 30% off if we spoke to a specific store representative.

I took this to mean that my logic, explained directly but in a controlled tone, was understood and the representative, IMO, indicated some acknowledgment of how confusing the card was to potential buyers.

In other words, by making a phone call and asking questions, I was offered a special and unannounced discount on all merchandise bought today, at 30% beyond what the average buyer probably got. While this gave me a "special savings rate" , my take is that it doesn't do much for most buyers walking through that store. They still pay the price on the price tags.

I think this goes beyond any savings that I myself get today. I think this has to do with consumer opinion, how buyers are treated and how information is processed by the "average consumer"

Maybe I'm just a total nincompoop and my interpretation is not yours. Everything here is accurate. This isn't a humorous article (today.....but life in our home being what it is, tomorrow could be different).

Please weigh in if you ever buy anything and you care about saving money and how things are worded in advertising. Please weigh in if you think I got an unfair advantage. Please weigh in if you think the card was clear - or unclear.

People at one site have already weighed in. Over 70 comments later, they would have interpreted the ad in the same way I did and been told they were "wrong". Hmmmmmmm......

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Interviews and Networking Info for Writers - Jane

I had some interviews come up lately so I'm providing info here for those interested in
promoting themselves. Here are some examples and tips for self-promotion follow:

How can you use this info to promote yourself:

1. Diversify. Don't discount the advantages of any site that contains material relating to your work. Book sites bring authors and readers together. If you are an aspiring writer or working on a book, read and review other books. You'll get the attention of readers as well as appreciative authors. Just write honest reviews. Those who don't will stand out like a sore thumb and won't gain points for that.

2. Network, chat, offer helpful advice.

3. Plug yourself in ways that also help others. Yes, this is a "you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours" mentality but it also is effective. If you truly like and praise the work of writers and others, the favor may well be returned.

4. Experiment. Sometimes the most unlikely resources turn out to be winners. Reviewing books earned me a blurb and recognition on the cover of a book. Networking on another site for the fun of it boosted page views on a site that pays me. Try to find your niche and related resources and sites.

Here's to getting noticed this year!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Ebay 101: by Steve Weber - A must read for all Ebay sellers -

Ebay 101: Selling on Ebay by Steve Weber

I read this book from cover to cover, amazed (and wishing I'd had this one with me when I STARTED on Ebay). What author Steve Weber has done with this book is to gather the information that can take sellers years to learn and created a virtual seller's encyclopedia of tips for selling successfully on Ebay.

What this means to you - the potential seller on Ebay - is the chance to hit the ground running, avoid embarassing blunders and come across as a professional seller, minimizing fumbles and keeping your customers happy and your profit margin...extremely profitable.

For the relatively modest price of this book, you'll get the free expertise of an Ebay seller who has racked up $1.4 million dollars in sales to 130,000 customers. Not only that but Weber had the wisdom to let other top sellers and users weigh in. They have written specific articles on such important areas as taking great photos, writing top descriptions, 10 major auction mistakes and how to milk market niches for maximum profits (rare fishing lures, vintage clothing or old video games are some examples.

Before you create your first listing, Weber suggests you do some research that I'd call "due diligence" or "taking a trial run to get a feel for Ebay." How do you do this? By being a buyer and actually bidding on items or using the Buy it Now feature to purchase 10 items. I think this is brilliant strategy, allowing potential sellers to get a feel for the buyer's end of things. You'll get a feel for dealing with someone you've probably never met face to face and the sense of novelty that comes from using an online auction site. Once you've been in a buyer's shoes, you have instant knowledge that should make you a better seller.

I wish I had the space to describe all the sections and related material in this book. From registering as a user to timing your auction, expanding your business and finding inventory, Weber explains every aspect of the Ebay selling process.

Consider this: he started out with $80, bought four bags of items and doubled his investment after selling only half of those items! From there he went on to sell enough to move from a tiny one-bedroom apartment to a nice house, all by himself. He makes a convincing case for the fact that if he can do it, so can you. I'm convinced, especially since I've used similar techniques and I know they work - and work well.

PLEASE NOTE: I have had the pleasure of reading and reviewing another of Mr. Weber's books, Plug Your Book. I'm including that information here for full disclosure but I have not ever been paid for any reviews of these books and my opinion is expressly my own. Both books are wonderful. If you are a writer, bookseller or interested in exploring ways to market yourself, books or sell on Ebay, Mr. Weber's books are "must reads"

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Patry Francis and The Liar's Diary and Cancer Update

You can see my first post here:
Patry Francis

I also urge people to read this wonderful update here on Gather: Patry Francis

Mr Lazar (a strong and talented writer himself) has provided an update about this writer. I couldn't do better so I'm referring readers to that. While there,I suggest you check out Gather. There is a strong, supportive group of writers there. Coming together for Patry Francis is just one example of the type of community writers can find there.

But today is for focusing on Patry Francis. She has an aggressive form of cancer. If you want to see reviews of her book, you can find them at Gather and Amazon. or I urge you to do so as well as check out these sites: Publisher phone number and/or website address:

Author's website:

Author's blog:

Thank you.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

One Writer's Journey: Aaron Lazaar, author of Tremolo: Cry of the Loon

One Writer's Journey: An Interview with Aaron Lazar, Author of Tremolo: Cry of the Loon

Before interviewing Aaron Lazar, author of Tremolo: Cry of the Loon, I had the pleasure of reading his book. I'll have a longer review up here shortly but did want to note that if you like mystery and suspense stories which are set in the past (but not too far back, to1964, which doesn't seem ages ago to me) then this book might be just the thing for you.

To get an immediate look at the author's website, check out this page:

as well as these sites:
This same interview and a review will also appear at Amazon as well as Associated Content and Gather at

I do urge readers to go visit any of these sites and comment to show support for the author and for pieces promoting authors and all things book and writing related, including Gather interviews and event announcements for writers.

If there is one thing I learned after interviewing this author it is the value of taking what you know, adding plenty of excitement and suspense to the mix, keeping readers guessing and wanting to know more. Do this and you, too, could end up with a solid and well-crafted book!

The basic story of Tremolo: Cry of the Loon? One summer in 1964, a girl goes missing at a camping area in Maine. Is she murdered or hiding from a possibly abusive peson? There are plenty of spooky events and a compelling young boy, Gus, passing from boy to man in the heart of Maine, making for a book that grabs the heart - and often makes it beat much faster. I highly recommend this one!

Like many writers, Mr. Lazar juggles many roles and yet he has managed not only to publish this book but has contracts for a series of mystery and other books. I thought it might be interesting for readers and writers to get a glimpse at his life, including the writing process.

Without further ado.....

An Interview with Aaron Lazar, author of Tremolo: Cry of the Loon

Questions: What is your earliest memory of writing and what did you write? When did you feel you wanted to be a writer and how did you sit down and start working on the LeGarde mystery?

Lazar: Hmmmm.That' s a great question. I remember writing stories in school for English class and writing a fantasy short story about meeting the Beatles for an English class, for a contest. I journaled profusely in high school.

It is probably easier to remember when the reading bug hit - that was in 3rd grade.I got in trouble for laughing during math class while reading a book that featured a kitten sleeping on a mattress in a store while thestore window had a sign that noted "Sleep like a kitten". I was severely reprimanded!

During my late teens and twenties, I just "knew" that I wanted to write a mystery series someday. I didn't commit to the Legarde series until my father died, in1997, an event that sent me into a tailspin. I'd lost eight family members in the previous five years and needed a release for the pain. I was completely bitten by the writing bug and it hasn't stopped pestering me since!

Questions:Could you discuss something about the time and place of Cry of the Loon and why that moment in history - the Beatles, Martin Luther King and other seminal events? I felt waves of nostalgia as I read this book.

Lazar: Nostalgia is what this book is about for me. I included pivotal events in 1964 because they affected me deeply. Kennedy's assassination remains fresh in my memory. I recall sitting with my father in our living room, watching the funeral. I'll never forget John-John and Caroline.

There was a time, believe it or not, when my library did not carry any of Martin Luther King's books and this was a northern town! I'd ask for them and be told, in hushed tones, that they weren't available.

Of course the Beatles were a huge part of my life. An inveterate Beatlemaniac, I saved every penny to buy the newest LP. Back then, a LP (long playing single, on vinyl) cost about three dollars and a single was less than a dollar.

Question: How and why did you pick a mystery, coming of age story, backed with suspenseful events?

Lazar: I've always adored mysteries. I'm not sure I can write anything but a mystery. The coming of age was a natural extension of Gus (main character) being only eleven years old.

Question: Did the plot come to you planned or with most of the details there?

Lazar: The plot didn't come to me planned. It just came to me as I wrote. No outlining went into this one. Usually, I collect a handful of loose ideas - setting, highlights, characters - and start writing. It can veer off into unexpected areas. As I wrote, I kept remembering my childhood summers in Maine with more and more clarity. I wanted to capture those summers - the joy of nature, the sheer wonder of lakeside summers and every little detail of a camp.

Since it has been torn down for condos now, it was especially important for me to record it for posterity. The actual plot of the story sort of came along for the ride, from missing girl to a mysterious woman. Theywere almost incidental to the strong sense of place, of a sense of"being there" and of returning to a place where I was supremely happy.

Question: What do you believe is most compelling about this book?

Lazar: There is the simple purity of a life lived without so many gadgets. I didn't intend to feature this aspect. Gus and his friends had no toys, television, computers or videogames. A walk in the woods, riding horses, swimming, fishing,boating...these things are so much better than the electronic cocoons with which we've surrounded ourselves. I'd love readers to see the value in that.

From a reader's perspective, I think, they will like the characters and the sense of being there. I hope they fall in love with Gus and his family and want to read the rest of the series.

Question: What have you learned that you'd like other writers to know?


Lessis more. Avoid adverbs and use stronger verbs. Avoid phrases that aren't needed but are commonly used. I've posted many of these on my website at:

Also, expect and even welcome rejection. If you aren't receiving lots of rejection notices, you aren't submitting often enough. Keep writing.The more you write, the more your skills develop.

Question: Who are your favorite writers?

Lazar: JohnD. McDonald, Dean Koontz, James Patterson, Clive Cussler, Laurie King,Lillian Jackson Braun, Rex Stout, Tony Hillerman, Dean Koontz, Bob Burdick and Lad Moore.

Question: Most recent book you read and enjoyed?

Lazar: Brother Odd, by Dean Koontz. I love his Odd Thomas series. His writing shines and he is an inspiration.

Question: Do you have a motto or favorite saying that guides you?

Lazar: "Take pleasure in the little things". When life has become unbearable due to family illness or loss, I enjoy what God has given us for free - a frosty field on a sunny wintry morning, cornflowers growing wild by the roadside, the flash of love in my grandsons' eyes or the taste of a freshly picked apple. These things comfort me and I think we should savor them and recall them in their full glory when things get tough.

Question: What other aspects of Tremolo would you like readers to know about?

Lazar: Family is important and it is paramount in Tremolo along with honor, bravery and friendship. Having a strong relationship with naturei s a key part of the book. Again, I'd like readers to consider spending more time outside, taking walks in the park, renting a rustic cabin by a lake (instead of going to a theme park). Simple pleasures.

Question: What do you think is essential for writers to do- besides write and persevere?

Lazar: Read Stephen King's On Writing. Find good, trusted critique buddies. More than anything, read. Find writers you respect and love and let them be your teachers. Read what you love - and then write what you love. Let your genre evolve from your passion.

For further information, please check out:

Two more books by this author will be coming out this year, Mazurka (the fourth in the Legarde mysteries) and Healey's Cave (the first in the Sam Moore paranormal series).

A quick note: if you are an author and think you have a book worthy of being noted here, drop me a line or leave a comment here or elsewhere (links above).

Thursday, January 3, 2008

A heads up to all Readers and Writers and Cancer Survivors.

I urge you to go to and read about this talented author. On January 29th, there will be a special mention of the author, a woman who has an aggressive form of cancer. You can read about her ups and downs on her Blog.

I want to note that I generally don't mention causes like this because...well, there are so many and I don't have the time. But this particular author has worked aggressive on her book and now is in the predicament of trying to promote it while ill. I can relate to that even though I haven't been in that position. Imagine throwing all your energy and time into your work and then not being able to make the most of those vital few weeks of promotion, the "make it or break it" period for most books.

I'm buying a copy of the book. I can't honestly say whether it is "excellent", "good" or whatever. But Dutton is a reputable publishing house and I enjoy many of the books published by them. I urge you to check out the author's blog, consider buying the book and doing YOUR part to help promote it. At times like these, I think it is good to think about how we'd want to be treated if faced with a similar situation. That is all I have to say about that but do urge you to think about this.