Friday, August 29, 2014

Review #SleepyHollow season 1

Yes. It is that good. It's better than that good. And if you're not watching it you need to. That, and you need to follow Orlando Jones on Twitter during the actual episodes-that man is funny!

Based on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, the show took it to the next level. Sure, the Johnny Depp movie wasn't bad, but this is just wow.

Ichabod Crane is totally lickable. Go on, look at his photo. Don't lick your computer screen, it's okay. I understand. And that British accent. Yum. Plus, the Ichabod wit on finding himself in the 21st century and his observations on (our) everyday activities is awesome.

"What's insane is a 10% levy on baked goods! You do realize the Revolutionary War began on less than 2%! How is the public not flocking to the streets in outrage? We must do something." Just one of many adorable and hysterical Ichabod quotes from the show. And that scene where he learns how to use a shower? Yes, as funny as you're now imagining.

But there is actually a plot, and much deeper than the wit and witticism of 21st century Ichabod Crane.

Thanks to his Wicca wife, he comes back from a Revolutionary War death in modern day. Katrina, his wife, is not only beautiful, but she has mad chemistry with Ichabod. I love their love story and I love what she's sacrificed to stop evil from permeating the new America.

Abby Mills, Sleepy Hollow cop, is absolutely  great. SHe's smart, tough, and an equal to Ichabod's character. She doesn't make silly "girlly" mistakes  but can own up when she is mistaken, the hallmark of a fascinating character. To use a well known quote, I think it's the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

All in all, if you haven't watched season 1, sadly only 13 episodes, you need to. This weekend. All at once because once you start you won't want to stop. If you like history, wrapped in a contemporary, with a heavy dose of the paranormal, then Sleepy Hollow is your thing.

5 stars all the way

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

#Interview with @LilasTaha Shadows of Damascus

Lilas Taha is a writer at heart, an electrical engineer by training, and an advocate for domestic abuse victims by choice. She was born in Kuwait to a Syrian mother and a Palestinian father, and immigrated to the U.S. as a result of the Gulf war in 1990. She earned a master’s degree in Human Factors Engineering from the University of Wisconsin- Madison. There, Lilas met her beloved husband and true friend, and moved with him to Sugar Land, Texas to establish a family. She is the proud mother of a daughter and a son. Instead of working in an industrial field, she applied herself to the field of social safety, working with victims of domestic violence.

Pursuing her true passion for creative writing, Lilas brings her professional interests, and her Middle Eastern background together in her debut fictional novel, Shadows of Damascus.

What would I tell a new author
Write what you want and trust your instinct. Chances are, you were drawn to this field because you had something pressing to write about, something specific to your experiences. So do it. Write what you have in mind. Write freely and with complete abandonment of censorship. Don’t think of who might be looking over your shoulder, wagging a finger or shaking a head in dismay. It is your story, your creation, and the only thing that matters is your relationship with the ink on the paper. 

There are rules to follow, and then there are rules to break and do away with. There is no formula to being creative. There are those who say you cannot start a book with a dream, or you shouldn’t jump from one point of view of a character to another, or prologues belong in the past and distract from the story line. I think if you do it right, if you weave the events of your story tight enough, no matter what style or sequence you chose, your creativity should shine through and bring forth a book that despite breaking some rules, still captures interest. 

It is important to point out that you have to determine who your audience is, or the genre you wish to delve into, before you set out on your writing adventure. There is also the business side to being an author, and if you are a novice like myself, you will have to learn about marketing and self-promotion no matter who acquires your work. There are social media strategies to think about, online presence to establish, and visibility to launch and increase. All that is meaningless if you don’t have a finished, compelling product. 

So keep writing. Be persistent and stubborn. Accept that your work will be rejected by agents many times, too many than you care to admit. But it is part of the process. Keep sending query letters, attend writers’ conferences, and meet with agents as much as you can. It’s not about luck, landing on an agent or a publisher who would acquire your work, it’s about perseverance and flexibility.


Bullet wounds, torture and oppression aren’t the only things that keep a man—or a woman—from being whole.

Debt. Honor. Pain. Solitude. These are things wounded war veteran Adam Wegener knows all about. Love—now, that he is not good at. Not when love equals a closed fist, burns, and suicide attempts. But Adam is one who keeps his word. He owes the man who saved his life in Iraq. And he doesn’t question the measure of the debt, even when it is in the form of an emotionally distant, beautiful woman.

Yasmeen agreed to become the wife of an American veteran so she could flee persecution in war-torn Syria. She counted on being in the United States for a short stay until she could return home. There was one thing she did not count on: wanting more.

Is it too late for Adam and Yasmeen?


Damascus, Syria
Summer 2006

The seductive fragrance of Damascus roses drifted through the open window and flirted with fifteen-year-old Yasmeen’s olfactory senses. The potent flowers in her neighbor’s yard delivered the best awakening. She loved beginnings, especially early, mid-summer mornings like these. Stretching across the bed, her imagination raced with possibilities for the promising day.

Thursday. The day her older brother’s friends visited and stayed well into the evening. Yasmeen ticked off potential visitors in her head, dashing young university students who loved to talk politics with Fadi. Today, she would do her best to discover the name of the quietest member in the group, the thin one with round-rimmed glasses. On her nightstand, the sketch she worked on during the last visit waited for his name, and more details around the eyes.

Peeling off the covers, she tip-toed to the window. Lively noises matched her optimistic mood. Nightingales sang greetings. Clanging dishes and pots resonated from surrounding houses beyond high walls. Mothers called out for their daughters to get breakfast ready. Men’s deep voices describing fresh fruits and vegetables with tempting traditional phrases drifted above hidden alleys. One vendor claimed his cucumbers were small as baby fingers, and likened his ripe apples to a virgin bride’s cheeks. Another boasted his plum peaches shed their covers without enticement, and his shy eggplants hid well in a moonless night.

Yasmeen succumbed to the enlivening chaos spilling in from her bedroom window, her own special and personal opening to the world. Tilting her head back, she exposed her face and neck to the sun, allowing its invigorating rays to paint her cheeks.

Today, her mother told her she would be allowed to take a coffee tray into Fadi’s room once all his friends arrived. What would she wear? She should tell her best friend Zainab to stop by earlier than usual to go through her wardrobe. She could help her decide. Perhaps one of Fadi’s friends would notice her. More than one? Why not?

Draping her arms on the windowsill, she looked at the neighbor’s yard, counting the blooming roses, a ritual she performed each morning since the season started. In the north corner of the largest flowerbed, two violet buds grabbed her attention, their delicate petals about to unfold. Once they came to full bloom, their deep purple color would dominate the landscape.

A knock sounded at her door.

“I am awake.”

Her father walked in. “Good. We have work to do.” He held a hammer in one hand and a couple of boards in the other. “Move aside, Yasmeen.” He approached the window.

She stepped away and pointed at the boards. “What do you need those for?”

Her father closed the windowpanes, locked them, placed one board across the frame, and hammered it in place.

“What are you doing?”

“This window is not to be opened again, child.”

She could not believe her ears. “Why?”

“Neighbors moved out last night.” Her father nailed the second board in place. “Mukhabarat took over their house.”

Thursday, August 21, 2014

#BookBlast My Life Interpreted by Wanda Octave

Wanda Octave lives with constant fascination and intrigue for life. Her amazing ability to extract spiritual messages out of everyday experiences, has kept readers captivated for years and is finally revealed in her new book My Life Interpreted. A former Marketing professional, Octave worked in the fields of banking, real estate and tourism before becoming a writer.

Hailing from the small Caribbean Island which produced two Nobel Laureates - Honorable Derek Walcott and Sir Arthur Lewis, Octave has set her sights on becoming an international best-selling author, hoping to again position Saint Lucia as a force of to be reckoned with. 

Learn more at or follow My Life Interpreted on Facebook:

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If you’ve ever pondered how you’ve ended up where you are in life, why things happen the way they do and what your life’s purpose is, then you’ll love My Life Interpreted. It is an uplifting book of ninety-nine inspiring reflections that seeks to demystify the questions of everyday life. Through real-life examples, Wanda Octave demonstrates how you can use your own life to decipher spiritual principles begging for attention.

The answers to life’s burning questions are often right in front of you and Octave shows in a practical and down to earth manner how to access those answers and live more fully.

What started out for Octave as snippets of her own life sent weekly to her list of newsletter subscribers has now been collected into one volume of inspiration. My Life Interpreted is a delightful daily companion or the perfect gift book for anyone seeking encouragement. 

Life Coaching

About ten years ago, I met a woman who confessed that the key to controlling her weight and staying healthy was her weekly appointment with her nutritionist. “Surely, if you have the tools, you don’t have to go every week,” I argued. “Perhaps once a month to make sure you stay on track…” But she insisted that weekly visits were essential and that her nutritionist had one of the highest success rates. Her clients had been with her for years.

I can’t remember what the fee was, but I remember it being high enough that my rough calculations had her nutritionist earning over a hundred thousand dollars a year. At the time, I seriously believed that the nutritionist was brainwashing her clients. Who needs to see a nutritionist every week?

Well, after a series of life improvements where I had direct assistance from a mentor, I realized that we all do. Anyone, who is committed to achieving anything in life, needs a mentor, a trainer, a coach, an expert…a qualified and experienced authority. You will find that you excel in all the areas of your life where you have a consistent coach. To stay in shape, follow the advice of a fitness trainer. To maintain a healthy lifestyle, subscribe to healthy eating newsletters and listen to food tips or get a nutritionist (I bow in shame). To achieve financial freedom, talk to a financial advisor, subscribe to money newsletters, listen to financial programs. To achieve spiritual clarity, feed your soul. Read insightful material. Learn about the laws of the universe, the theories and wisdoms that have been practiced for centuries. Search the web, watch documentaries, join groups, keep exploring, keep learning! You can find mentors and resources for every area of your life. Latch on; use them.

If you want to further your career, you upgrade your skills. Why should it be different with other areas of your life? I challenge you: If you want to be better at something, find a mentor, someone who will hold your hand and ensure you keep on learning. But be willing to reward them with payment for this assistance. Make it part of your soul budgeting. It’ll be worth every cent. 

Life is short…you need a coach!

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