Seeing Through God’s Eyes – A Re-Post


Every so often we meet someone who opens our eyes to a different view of the world or changes our perspective about people and the way society works. I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with Michelle Dobbins for a few months on Twitter, and she has really opened my eyes and has made me see that we are all human and we are all perfectly made in God’s eyes. Michelle has definitely earned my respect and is a true angel on Earth. She was gracious enough to share a very inspiring story with my readers earlier this week about her cousin Brian, that almost made me cry. I truly hope you like this post that Michelle has allowed me to re-post from her blog. I hope after reading that everyone sees yourself through God’s eyes. I also hope you will visit her blog and tell her Jason sent you. Michelle, God bless you for uplifting so many lives and changing the world, one heartfelt word at a time.

What Would Happen If We See With God’s Eyes?

Once I heard a woman describing how she was standing in a checkout line at a store, next to a woman who had been disfigured by fire. She turned to put her items on the counter and when she looked at the woman again, she was perfect. All of the lady’s burn scars were gone. This woman had the gift of seeing the perfection that existed within the burn victim. This made me wonder, how wonderful would it be to see everyone as God sees them? Not to see the scars, the extra weight, the wrinkles, or the fashion disasters that might cause me to judge. What would it be like to only see the perfect light of God that lives within each of us when I looked at someone?

photoI began to intend for this to happen and I asked myself more questions. How fun would it be to see everyone as God sees them? How would my interactions change if this happened? How much bliss would I feel? Would others be able to sense that I saw God in them? What would our world be like if we all saw everyone as God sees them?

I assumed that I would see everything like I was Shallow Hal. In this movie, Shallow Hal saw everyone for the true beauty within them. Some who were really pretty appeared ugly and lots of nice, but unattractive girls appeared gorgeous. I figured I would see everyone as gorgeous movie stars, because I believe we all have God’s light in us somewhere, even if we try to cover it up. Heavy people would be thin. Everyone would have smooth, peaches and cream skin. All of people’s flaws would be gone in my eyes, and I would see them as the beautiful beings that God sees them as.

One day, I was feeling quite blissed out from meditation and I went to Wal-Mart to do some shopping. It happened! I saw everyone in this store as the radiant creations that God must see them as. Here’s the twist: They weren’t any different. They all looked the same. They still had crooked noses, missing teeth, polyester pants, etc., but guess what? They looked beautiful! Glorious! Just as they were. So in order for me to see people with God’s eyes, the way they appeared didn’t change my idea of beautiful, I just saw them as beautiful they way they were. I had the best shopping experience of my life. People were nice, I found everything easily, the lines moved quickly and my checkout clerk was a doll. Yes, I was in Wal-Mart.

I don’t always have this experience, but I know how to create it now and it’s my intention to make it a habit. In fact, that’s my main New Year’s Resolution for 2013; to see myself and others as God sees us as much as I can.

Michelle 2012I hope you get a chance to see yourself as God does, because I can say for certain that you are more beautiful than you could ever imagine.

Love and Miracles,

Michelle

About Michelle Dobbins

Michelle Dobbins is a pre-published author, who shares tips for positive living and true stories of magic, creation and love in everyday life on her blog. You can connect with her and get her Magic Question of the Day on Facebook and Twitter.

Author’s Roundtable: Maggie Thom


How long have you been writing?

Pretty much my whole life. I know as a young child I used to like to write. When I was about nine I wrote my first “novel.” It was a one-inch by one-inch size book that was about forty pages long, with maybe ten words per page. You get the picture… not much of a story. And from there I wrote off and on over the years.

Has writing always been something you wanted to do?

Yes. I absolutely love writing. I think I might have been born with a pen in my hand. 🙂
 
What books or stories have you written? Published?

I have two published novels – Captured Lies and Tainted Waters.
 
Can you tell us a little about your books? What are they about?

CapturedLies - FINALCaptured Lies

She was kidnapped not once but twice and now someone wants her dead because of it….

Her life was a lie!

Bailey knew her upbringing wasn’t normal but she’s worked hard to stabilize her life. At 29, she finally has a good business, a stable home; her life is miles from that of her childhood. Then suddenly her mother dies, leaving a gaping hole and a discovery that they may not even be related. If Guy, the private investigator is to be believed, her life is a lie. Using the skills she learned on the streets, Bailey travels back through a sketchy and dangerous past to find answers. Dodging bullets, staying ahead of those who want her dead and convincing Guy she can do it alone are making it difficult to discover not only the secrets of her mother’s past, but that of a family claiming she is their’s.

Everyone seems to have a story… but who’s telling the truth? And who wants her dead? Is Guy part of the solution? Or part of the problem? To discover the facts, she’ll have to untangle a web of deceit, lies and secrets, dating back more than thirty years.

But can she do it in time…

Tainted Waters

He didn’t commit suicide but who’s going to believe her…

TaintedWaters800x1200Frustrated at being fired from her latest job and overwhelmed by her consolatory family, Sam decides to move to the family’s cabin at the lake. A place she hasn’t been since her dad committed suicide there twenty years before. Or did he? Snooping is something she’s good at but someone seems to be taking offense to her looking too closely at what has been happening at the lake. What she discovers is shocking. Now she must uncover what’s real and what’s not. All that she learned growing up may be false. Keegan, who has recently moved to the area to finish his latest book, is also trying to find out if his grandfather, who’d passed away ten years before, died of natural causes or was murdered? The descendants of the four families, who own the land around the lagoon, are dying off. Since Sam and Keegan are the only ones questioning the deaths, they find themselves working together to seek the truth. Are people being murdered? Who would benefit from their deaths? Why would there be barricades and armed guards at the north end of the lake? To stay alive, Sam and Keegan must find the answers and convince others, before more people are killed… including them.

“This is a book that will have you on the edge of your seat. Just when you think the story is over, think again.” Read Your Writes Book Reviews

How did you get inspiration for the characters/books?

The ideas for the books were things that just happened when several things came together at the right time. I love writing about family secrets and lies and what are the extremes of that. I like pushing the boundaries, and I love putting in twists and surprises.

Captured Lies – A plane flew low over us, and I wondered what if it crashed. I flew three times in three months (very different for me as I fly about once a year), and I watched a show about kids being kidnapped by their families. And I just started to play “what if.”

Tainted Waters – I have always been fascinated by people who have a cabin at the lake. And we had gone camping at a secluded, slough-like lake where we discovered big trucks drove by all night long, heading to a plant only a few miles away. And I just started to play “what if.”

Are the books based on personal experiences?

No. They for sure aren’t. However there are some real situations that led to the creating of them.

Is there any advice you have been given that you could give to a young up-and-coming writer?

Write. Write. Write. And write some more. And at some point take the leap. Ask others what they think of the story. Plot is the most important – grammar, punctuation can all be fixed but you need to have a compelling storyline from start to finish.

Can you talk a little about the benefits of getting your work professionally edited?

Editing is so important. You really need to make sure that not only do you go through your manuscript several times but that you get others to go through it as well. No matter what you are writing you need someone else looking it over who can catch all the spelling, the grammar, the punctuation.

What are some of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome as a writer, in order to be published?

Myself. I loved writing. I loved creating stories but I was always too worried about what others would think about what I wrote. Finally I realized that was what was holding me back. It wasn’t that my writing wasn’t good enough, it was that I was worried about being judged. So I took the leap. I’m learning as I go.

How do you find time to write your books?

I have always written whenever I could find five minutes. Now I try to write during the day when my family isn’t home. But I try to balance that with marketing my books. Sadly sometimes writing loses out.
 
Several of my guests have often said writing is therapeutic and relaxes them. Can you talk a little about how writing relaxes you? Any specific examples you can share?

It is definitely therapeutic. Often, it helps me work through issues, sometimes I’m aware of those issues and sometimes I’m not until I’ve written something about it. As for it being relaxing… sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t. I think the act of writing is relaxing but when I get into my stories, and I have the characters going through a lot of stuff, I too tend to go through it. I laugh when they laugh, I cry when they cry, I jump when something scary happens. I love writing because it takes me on an adventure that I’m never really sure where that is going. I love it. It’s almost as exciting as reading a good novel.

Has writing made you a better person?

Interesting question. Not sure but I’m not sure who I’d be without it. And it for sure helps me work through issues and see things differently. I know it has awakened me to a whole new world. I am finding the confidence of being an author.

Do you like to read? If so, what are your favorite genres and why?

I love to read. I always have one, two or three books on the go. I just don’t always have the time to read them when I’d like to. I read all genres but I prefer suspense, thriller, fantasy, mysteries… I love the puzzle, the “who done it.” I like twists and turns in a story. I like surprises, never really knowing where this journey is going to take me.
 
Can you talk about how important reviews are to writers?

Reviews are how we get found, get noticed in this sea of writers and authors. Reviews are really a word of mouth that shouts out to the world about our work, our books, our stories. I’ll admit that before I became a published author I never did a review on the Internet. I didn’t think anyone would care what I thought. And I had no idea what to say. Now I realize how important they are. I just state what I feel about the book. I never write disparaging or “put-down” reviews. If I don’t like something I just state it wasn’t for me but I always try to put some positive. The author worked hard on that story and should be recognized for that. I make a point of writing reviews and helping out other authors any way I can. There are many people who do reviews and I am forever grateful for those who do take the time to do so. Not only do reviews make a difference in being found but it really helps an author understand how their work is being received. I always use reviews as a learning tool. 

Would you mind sharing an excerpt from your book?

Since Tainted Waters is on a Book Review Tour this week (June 27 to June 21), I’ll share an excerpt from it.

“Hello, George.”

“Hello, Harry. Did anyone see you come in?”

“No, I was careful but even if they did I could say I was doing a story on this funeral or something.”

George stared at the man he’d personally groomed. This alliance served him well. Or it had. He smiled. “Can I offer you something to drink?” He moved over to what looked like an elaborate and intricately designed and carved feature wall. With a quick press on an obscure point, a panel swung down, exposing a myriad of liquor and mixes.

“Scotch, if you have it please.” Harry walked over the plush, leather sofa and eased himself down, only to find himself plopping backwards. “Couch is damn low, George.”

“Sorry. You’re right. I really should replace it. I just don’t seem to have time to do anything about it.”

Harry waved it off like he was swatting a fly. Keeping his back to him, he poured the drink, while allowing a momentary reaction of clenching his teeth as his whole body stiffened. His eyes darkened. Turning, he put on an amicable smile as he walked across the plush black carpet, which muted the sound of his steps.

After handing the drink to him, he stepped back and leaned against his oak desk. “What can I do for you? It’s kind of a busy day for me.”

He took several gulps before answering. “Yeah. Well… I seem to have a bit of a problem.”

“Oh?”

Harry looked around suspiciously before moving forward, which was really just leaning his head forward, his bulk didn’t bend. He spoke in a hushed tone. “I know I’m not supposed to talk to you about this but…”

“What is it? You sound really stressed, what’s going on?”

He finished off his glass of scotch. “It would seem that Mr. Ozz isn’t happy with me.”

George’s eyes widened. “Oh. What did you do?”

“I didn’t do a damn thing. That little bitch you had me hire is who did something. She has caused me nothing but grief.”

“You mean, Sam? I’m so sorry, Harry. I was just doing a favor for an old friend. I didn’t think it would be that big a deal.”

“Well, it damn well is. I fired her ass a few days ago but it would seem that wasn’t enough for him. I need you to talk to him.”

“Oh no. I can’t. I really don’t want to get involved.”

He waved his empty glass indicating he wanted another one. George immediately complied. “Well you damn well are involved. It’s your fault she turned out to be such a busy-body and stuck her nose where it doesn’t belong. You need to get me back into his good books.”

“I don’t know why you think I could do that.”

“When he hired me and set me up as CEO to the newspaper, he got you to show me the ropes – how to look like I was born for that role, how to act sophisticated, how to handle myself with dignity and confidence. You made sure that everything worked out. I know you have connections and are well liked in this town. You are a respected businessman. You make things happen.” He held out his glass for a refill. “I need you to fix this problem. He makes things…” Harry leaned forward or as much as his bulk would let him and whispered, “go away. And I don’t want to be one of those things.”

Anything else you’d like to share that I didn’t ask?

Thank you to everyone who reads my books and keeps coming back for more. You are why I keep writing. 🙂 My third novel, Deceitful Truths, the companion novel to Captured Lies, will be out late 2013. Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter and/or Goodreads.

Maggie 3 - 337 x 431About Maggie Thom

Maggie Thom took the challenge and leapt off, leaving a full-time twenty-year career in management, to write full-time. After her initial panic that she might need a straight jacket, she published her first book Captured Lies in October 2012. And now is excited to release her second novel, Tainted Waters in April 2013. Her third book, Deceitful Truths (sequel to Captured Lies) will be available this fall. An avid reader and writer her whole life, she decided to break the monotony of wishing to be an author by making it happen. Married to her best friend, she is learning that humor, love and patience help her navigate her way through her twins’ teen years. Her motto: Escape to read and read to escape. Maggie Thom writes a fast paced thriller laced with romance that keeps the reader interested and on edge!” InDtale Magazine

Check out Maggie’s website, become a fan on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, check out her Goodreads author page, check her out on Google Plus and find out what piques her interest on Pinterest

Buy Tainted Waters on Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords, Sony, Barnes and Noble, and Diesel

Buy Captured Lies on amazon.com, amazon.ca, amazon.uk, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords, Sony e-reader store and Diesel.

Souls Are Perfect


Souls Are Perfect

By Michelle Martin Dobbins 

In the Hamrick family, we’ve been blessed in many ways. We are a quite unique collection of people, and we have always been closer than most extended families. We have disagreements, and we have hurt each other unintentionally, but we always forgive. We hold family as important, and we get together often, even though we are scattered around the country and sometimes the planet. Homer and Roena Hamrick, my grandparents, knitted us tightly together.

My cousin, Brian, drew us in, too. Brian had cerebral palsy, and he spent his life in a wheelchair. He was a bright and shining light in our family, and we all loved him beyond measure. He loved music and was almost always smiling. When I was little, though, I was afraid of him. I was afraid of his chair and the sounds that he made, and I couldn’t understand him. I thought he was different from me.

BrianOne rainy afternoon with Brian changed how I saw him and the world forever. We were watching a parade, but as often happened in our town, the weather did not cooperate with the local festival. My aunt parked a camper along the parade route and the children watched the parade perched in the loft of the camper, peering out of the window. At one point in time, it was just me and Brian. He looked at me and clearly said, “Why are you afraid of me? I’m just like you, except that my body is different. It just doesn’t work the same way as yours.” Normally, I had difficulty understanding Brian’s words, but that day they rang our perfectly clear to me. He spoke to me from his heart. Although I was sometimes still shy around him, I learned something from him that day I will never forget.

I learned that all souls are perfect. Bodies can be disabled, minds can be damaged, and spirits can be crushed, but souls are created by God perfect and remain ever perfect. This knowledge welled up in me and overflowed as a desire to work with special-needs children. I went to college and spend eight years teaching special-needs children, until I left to have my own children. I loved my job, and I adored those kids. They lit me up. I saw my students differently than most people did. I connected with them on a soul level, and I could feel who they were. I didn’t see their disabilities. We can all do that with anyone if we try. I don’t know why we all come in to this life with different challenges, but I have experienced that many people who have physical or mental disabilities have stronger spirits. We all have challenges to bear, and people without apparent disabilities are no exception. We all have gifts to share, and people with disabilities are no exception. We are all more alike than different, so reach out and connect with everyone you can.

Brian died, unexpectedly, a few weeks after his fortieth birthday. Our family was sad to lose the person he was, but his perfect soul still exists and this gives us comfort. I am thankful for the love he shared with our family and how his spirit made us all closer to each other.

Michelle 2012About Michelle Dobbins

Michelle Dobbins is a pre-published author, who shares tips for positive living and true stories of magic, creation and love in everyday life on her blog. You can connect with her and get her Magic Question of the Day on Facebook and Twitter.
 
Michelle, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for letting my readers know that, yes, souls are perfectly and wholly made by God, and that we are indeed perfect in His eyes. We do all have something special to give, and I want to sincerely thank you for opening my eyes and showing me that everyone has their own struggles and difficulties. Sometimes I’m guilty of “assuming” that nothing is wrong with someone else, because I cannot physically see a disability. Thank you for your amazing gift that you’ve given me, the ability to see through to the soul of someone who’s truly a role model for others and has inspired not only me, but the countless students you’ve taught. God bless you.

Everyday Hero, Doing My Best


One of the things I get asked most often, especially if I am out taking pictures and writing an article for work about the local Veteran’s Day or Fourth of July parades on the Square is if I am a veteran. Most of the people who ask me are veterans themselves, currently on active duty overseas or having served in Korea, World War II or Vietnam. Now I can totally understand why they would ask… I’m in a wheelchair and could have suffered an injury fighting on the front lines in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Jason BourneI really hate to “burst their bubble” and tell them that I’m not a veteran (in the most-common sense of the word), but after talking with several veterans the past five or six years, I’ve come to understand that, in truth, I really am a veteran of a much bigger war. The war of everyday life. Let me explain because I know you have that “deer in the headlight” look right about now, thinking “What is this guy talking about?”

As most of you who’ve followed my journey may know, and for those who just joined the journey, I was born with spina bifida and have been in a wheelchair for more than 25 years. Every day when I get out of bed, I’m fighting some kind of battle, whether it be an aching back, not getting enough sleep, a stomach ache that never stops or seemingly trying to play catch up with the ever-changing pace of society and their attitudes toward people with special needs. No matter how much I get done at work, it seems like I’m always running on empty when I get home and just want to crawl in bed and go to sleep for eight solid hours. But I think I do have one thing in common with the U.S. military, and that is my work ethic and my determination to never give up and keep fighting because I know I’d be letting a lot of people down, epsecially my friends, family and co-workers.

I really hate to put my name in the same sentence with the U.S. military because nobody can compare to the bravery and courage of our men and women in uniform, but some days I feel like a soldier in the infantry on the front lines near Baghdad. I may just be “infantry” but I know the man right beside me, or the person in the next cubicle, is depending on me to get the job done and do it right. Sure I may make mistakes, but that’s one of the best things about being a team, whether in the desert of Iraq or at the office working the daily grind of a nine-to-five shift. A team sticks together and helps each other be the best they can possibly be, and God knows I would not be where I am today without the encouragement and support of my co-workers and friends. I’d probably be sitting at home, looking through the want ads for another job or out picking up trash on the side of the road, and definitely would not be living my dream and having the best job in the world.

In my line of work, I meet a lot of co-workers, in different departments, and have developed what I think are great relationships and friendships with most of them. Like I’ve said previously I’m out on the streets a lot, or in other departments, talking to people about what’s going on in the city where I work, and apparently from the e-mails and feedback I receive from co-workers, I must be doing something right. Here are several e-mails from friends and co-workers I’ve received the past couple years.

IMG_2477Heroes come from all walks of life and are heroes because someone thinks they are. We all think you are.

I know you’re a fighter.

Keep smiling. Don’t let the energy vampires sap your strength!!! They are everywhere, and positive people are their enemy. Fight on! 🙂

All your efforts are greatly appreciated, Jason.

A couple months ago, I went to an event celebrating Gone With the Wind, and met an author whose aunt worked as technical adviser on the movie back in 1939. She said I am a real hero. I don’t mind sitting here today and saying that I felt almost ashamed when she called me a hero. I haven’t done anything special. I am just living life and trying to beat spina bifida any way I know how. You have no idea how unworthy I am of being called a hero. Every day, police officers, firefighters, paramedics and the military put their lives on the line to keep our cities, counties and nation safe.

I’m sure everybody remembers the tragic events the past few months in Oklahoma, Texas and Boston. The men and women who saved countless lives after these tragic events are the REAL heroes and deserve so much more respect than I do. I’m just a man, doing the best I can with what God gave me. Sometimes it feels like I can do so much more, and sometimes I just want to go up to a soldier or a police officer and thank them for everything they do to protect the freedom I love so much. Next time you see a soldier, police officer, firefighter or paramedic, take a few minutes and thank them for everything they do every day. Most of them hardly see their families, and I cannot imagine how hard it must be for a family to sit and worry whether their loved one is coming home.

I remember a couple days after I talked to my author friend at the GWTW event, I e-mailed a co-worker for something and told her what the author called me. A few minutes later, my co-worker wrote back and said, “You are a hero and I applaud her for recognizing that!! With all the challenges you face each day, you still get up each morning, come to work, do an outstanding job and all with a cheerful, helpful, positive attitude. Do you have any idea how many people NEVER do that? You are a hero to me, too!”

I felt so humbled and honored that people do actually see me as a hero, but please understand something… I don’t do what I do for recognition or praise or awards. I don’t go out every day, beating my chest saying, “Hmm, I wonder who’s hero I can be today?” And I sure as hell wouldn’t put myself in the same category as the U.S. military or law enforcement. My accomplishments pale in comparison to what these people do for each and every one of us every day. I will say it again. I just take it one day, one step at a time and try to do the best I can despite the obstacles that are thrown in my way. I genuinely love helping people and if I can offer a hug, a word of encouragement, a hand to hold, a shoulder to cry on, or an ear to listen, then that’s what I’m going to do.

IMG_4622One thing I’ve learned the past few years is that a little pat on the back, a word of thanks, a hug or someone saying I’m proud of you can make all the difference in someone’s life, especially if that person has special needs. You have no idea how good it makes me feel to get an e-mail from a co-worker, a text from a friend or a thank you from someone I come across in the community. If you have a family member or a friend with special needs, please, please take the time to tell them how much they mean to your life, even if it’s just “Hey, thank you for coming to eat with us today. We’re really glad to see you.” Or “Hey, great job on that project at work. I know how hard you worked on it, and you’ve really done a great job. Keep it up!!” You’ll never know how big these seemingly small words can be to a person struggling to face their challenges every day.

As I close, I want to dedicate this post to anyone who has a disability or knows someone whose life has been impacted by a disability or cancer. You can do anything you set your mind to. Sure we may look a little different, or talk a little bit different, but one thing I can guarantee. We’re doing alright for the shape we’re in!!!

Do yourself a favor and connect with me on Twitter or send me an e-mail letting me know what you thought about this post. I’d love to hear from you 😉

Buy Mocha, Moonlight and Murder Free Through June 15


Mocha, Moonlight and Murder, a romantic suspense novel set in Reno, Nev., usually only $2.99 will be FREE for Kindle users Tuesday, June 11 through Saturday, June 15. Get your free copy here for great summer reading!

This book tells the story of 28-year-old Katherine O’Brian. One night she awakes and can’t go back to sleep. Hungry, but with an empty refrigerator and a pantry that holds little more than Ramen noodles, she decides to walk to a nearby all-night diner. Unfortunately, she comes face to face with a killer as he prepares to dispose of his victim. She gets away, but it doesn’t take him long to find out who she is, and he wants her dead. Katherine has recently gone back to college, to finish her degree, where she’s paired with Scott Mitchell on a class project. Scott left a broken engagement behind when he moved to Reno, and the last thing he needs is more melodrama, but that’s what he gets. It can be very distracting when someone is out to kill your lab partner. Together, they try to figure out 9781620151402-cvr_Createspace.inddwhat the police haven’t been able to—the identity of the murderer. Passions flare, but with Katherine’s life in danger, romance seems like more than a bad idea. Scott and Katherine will face jealousy, misunderstandings, lust and rivals, not to mention attempted murder—and all before their first real date.

Here are just a few of the great reviews

A MUST read!! Mystery, danger, drama, romance…it has it all! I gave this book five stars because it’s so cleverly written, I was hooked from the start! I read it in two days because I just kept speculating about what happens next. There are a lot of romance books out there at the moment, but let’s be honest, they’re mostly all sex and little depth to the story lines. This book has it all! Romance, kinky sex, and a storyline that will keep you on the edge of your seat! There are lots of twists and turns and when you think you’ve figured it out, you soon find out you haven’t. There is an unbelievable twist towards the end that left my mouth hanging!

I hate reviews that reveal too much, so I won’t say much about the twists, but I hope you’re ready to fall in love with Scott and Katherine….and Reno! The chemistry between these two is sizzling hot! This author is one to look out for, for sure. Looking forward to more from her.

Do yourself a favour and buy this book right away! Mocha, Moonlight and Murder is an excellent novel combining my two favourite genres – romance and mystery. I couldn’t put the book down and only wished that it was longer. I highly recommend this book – it’s an easy read which will keep you guessing right from start to finish. After reading it, I immediately tried to find out if Mary Ann had written any other books and was very disappointed that this was only her first novel (though this fact impressed me immensely). Hope to read a lot more from the author in the near future.

Newest PictureAbout Mary Ann Kempher

Mary Ann Kempher’s writing is infused with romance and mystery. Her love of romance stories goes back to her teen years spent living in Reno, Nev., where Mocha, Moonlight and Murder is set. Mary Ann’s travels have taken her to beautiful cities in Italy, southeast Asia and the sultry desert country of Qatar. She met her husband on one of her romantic misadventures while traveling. She has two children and currently lives in Florida, where she and her family share their home with two dogs and a cat. Her writing influences include favorite authors Jane Austen and Agatha Christie. She’s a huge fan of the Hercule Poirot mysteries. Her guilty pleasures are any and all sweets, including a good cup of mocha. For more about Mary Ann Kempher, visit mkempher.com.

If you’d like to connect with Mary Ann, she’s very active. Check her out on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and Pinterest.

Author’s Roundtable: Margie Miklas


How long have you been writing?

I only began writing three years ago so I still consider myself a newbie.

Has writing always been something you wanted to do?

Not really although I used to write limericks as a child, wrote letters to the editor occasionally, and wrote a humorous newsletter for my department in the hospital for several years.

What books or stories have you written? Published?

I have written one book, and have published numerous articles for various websites and an Italian-American newspaper.

Can you tell us a little about your books? What are they about?

My book is a true story, a memoir of the three months I spent in Italy traveling solo.

How did you get inspiration for the characters/books?

Since this book is nonfiction, all the characters in it are real.

Margie Profile 1Are the books based on personal experiences?

Yes, my book is a memoir based on three months I spent traveling through Italy.

Is there any advice you have been given that you could give to a young up-and-coming writer?

Other authors and writers have consistently told me to keep writing, and to write every day. I think this is good advice. I also had been told to discipline myself so that I set goals of word counts, either per day or per week, in order to accomplish my goal of finishing my book.

Can you talk a little about the benefits of getting your work professionally edited?

Yes, I published my book initially without the benefit of a professional editor, and found numerous typos and errors, which I edited myself and resubmitted.

I currently am working with a professional editor, on this already-published book, and her direction is immensely helpful, not only to correct typos, but to improve sentence structure, avoid repetitious words, and so on. I am still working on this.

What are some of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome as a writer, in order to be published?

Since I self-published my book, both the e-book and the paperback, I found the formatting to be very challenging. There definitely is a learning curve to self-publishing.

How do you find time to write your books?

I have to make time, create a specific amount of time each week to turn off the Internet and focus on writing.

Several of my guests have often said writing is therapeutic and relaxes them. Can you talk a little about how writing relaxes you? Any specific examples you can share?

Since I write about true experiences, I am almost re-living them as I write and edit the story, and this brings me a great sense of satisfaction, almost as if I am going to Italy again.

Book signing Event edit FB sizeHas writing made you a better person?

I think so, insofar as it has made me appreciate the amount of work that goes into writing.

Do you like to read? If so, what are your favorite genres and why?

I do enjoy reading, and wish I had more time to do so. Right now I have about ten books on my iPad partially read. My favorite genres are suspense, intrigue, courtroom dramas and biographies.

Can you talk about how important reviews are to writers?

Reviews are important to writers because they provide feedback and give a writer a sense of what readers expect.

Have you ever received a bad review? If so how did it make you feel?

Yes, and I think all writers have received at least one negative review. Being human, I felt bad reading it at first, but then let it go. I realize that not all readers will like my writing, and also sometimes a review is written by someone who is not in a good mood, or is having a bad day.

Would you mind sharing an excerpt from your book?

Of course. Here is an excerpt from Chapter 4.

It is now early Friday evening, and I am back in my hotel room in Siena. All of a sudden there seems to be a lot of noise outside, as though someone is announcing something on a loudspeaker. Today is Good Friday in Italy, and there is a cathedral around the corner, so maybe there is some outside religious event going on.

My curiosity gets the best of me, and I grab my jacket and leave the hotel to see what is going on, not wanting to miss out on what could be a major event. To my naiveté and surprise, the cathedral appears to be closed, yet the streets are filled with people and there are quite a few police. I’m noticing that the people are not strolling, as in la passeggiata, but instead seem to have an agenda, and suddenly it becomes clear to me what is going on.

Book cover print version Amazon (200x295)I can see the lights and the soccer stadium, which is right behind my hotel, and after inquiring from the police, I become aware that there is a soccer game between Siena and Venezia. Never having been to a professional soccer game, I make a snap decision to go to the game so I find out where to buy a ticket. I am thinking that if it is a reasonable cost, I will go. Fortunately for me, the ticket costs only eight euros, which is incredible. I am quite surprised that I need to show my passport to purchase the ticket, and I don’t have it with me. It is in the hotel. After a few minutes, the ticket seller feels sorry for me and maybe I look like I am not a security threat, and she lets me buy the ticket anyway. The other person, however, has to walk me to the gate and explain to the guy there that it is OK for me to get in. Again it is a process here just to get in to a soccer game. I thank them, and I am really happy that I am now experiencing my first Italian soccer game!

Italians are passionate about life but they are really passionate about soccer! I have always heard about this, but now have a chance to see this firsthand. I love being part of the crowd, hearing the fans singing, yelling, probably swearing in Italian and stomping their feet on the aluminum stands, which is making a deafening sound. It is a great time! I’m smiling and nodding my head to the people sitting near me whether I understand everything or not. I feel a part of it!

Anything else you’d like to share that I didn’t ask?

Maybe readers would be interested in knowing if I am writing any other books.

I actually have a second book half finished. This book is about my travel experiences in Sicily, and not as a solo traveler.

I think you covered it all, Jason, and thank you again for this opportunity. You are very special, and a real asset to writers. I really appreciate all that you are doing in support of writers.

About Margie Miklas

Memoirs of a Solo Traveler-My Love Affair with Italy is Margie’s first book, and it is based on her three-month solo adventure in Italy.

Margie Miklas is a writer, photographer and critical-care nurse, who has a passion for travel, with a particular love of Italy.

Margie is a contributor for Yahoo Voices, a contributing writer for La Gazzetta Italiana newspaper, a travel writer for Beachcomber Pete Travel Adventures, and writes travel and medical articles for several other websites.

DSCF6502 (1024x681)Margie writes a blog, margieinitaly, where you can follow her adventures through her writing and photography throughout Italy.

Margie first started writing as a young teenager, when she would amuse herself and her friends by writing limericks. A few years later, she became a headline editor of her high school newspaper in Elyria, Ohio. Later still, she developed, wrote, and edited a humorous hospital newsletter in Tampa, Florida.

Margie lives in Port St Lucie, Florida, where she works in a cardiovascular intensive care unit, and is always seeking out opportunities to travel, especially to Italy. When she isn’t working or writing, she enjoys spending time with her twin granddaughters, going to the beach, and working in her garden. Check out Margie’s blog, follow her on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook, and buy her books in paperback and on Amazon Kindle.

Heartbroken and Confused


I’d really planned to have a tribute to mothers everywhere today, in honor of Mother’s Day, but when I got to my grandparents’ house after church, my heart broke and it’ll take years to put the pieces back together. My mom, dad and sisters came out to get me, and they told me that my grandfather had passed away. I’ve been numb and in a daze all day, and want this damn nightmare to end and my grandfather to call me and tell me he loves me.

Of course, I know he’s in a better place and isn’t suffering from Alzheimer’s disease anymore. But that can never take the pain away. I’ll be away from the blog for a few days, I need to take care of family first… But I wanted to re-post something I wrote a couple years ago. It sums up everything I’m feeling and so much more. I can just see my grandfather now, on his green John Deere tractor, plowing God’s back forty.

I love you grandpa and miss you so much. Have a bowl of peach ice cream for me in Heaven with Andy and Barney, would you?

The last week, and the past few years, have been really tough on our family, and if you’ve been following the blog, you probably know what I’m talking about. My grandfather has Alzheimers, and it’s really hit me hard personally especially since I saw him on Thanksgiving, and I just wanted to share with all of you what’s been on my heart lately…

We had Thanksgiving at my grandparents’ (mom’s parents) house this year, like we normally do, and I had a great time seeing my aunts, uncles, granny and grandpa, but I noticed that my grandpa wasn’t acting right when we got ready to eat because he said he wasn’t hungry. It turns out that he wasn’t feeling good, and after everything he has been through the past few years I really can’t blame him. When we got ready to leave later Thursday evening, I went over to where grandpa was relaxing in his recliner and just held him for a few minutes. I sat there talking to him and told him how much I loved him, and if he needed anything to call us. While I was sitting there holding him and talking to him, the emotions just took over, and I started crying my eyes out and told my grandfather I loved him and didn’t want him to die. He said he didn’t want to say goodbye or have to make “a call.”

When he told me that, I started crying even more because I knew exactly what he meant. He doesn’t want to leave his family behind and have to say a final “goodbye” or have my grandmother make the most horrible phone call I think she ever will have to make. I thought about my grandfather all the way home and all that night. The next morning, I was talking to mom and I started crying AGAIN because I was telling her what my grandfather said. Then later Friday, or it might’ve been Saturday, my sisters were talking about Christmas and asked me when I was going to go shopping with them. Then I just broke down and lost all control…

I forget exactly what I said, but I remember I said something like, “Can’t we just skip shopping this year? Can’t we just go over and spend some time with grandpa and enjoy this Christmas? Doesn’t ANYBODY care about what I want???” Keep in mind I was frustrated and fighting back tears while saying this because I was and still AM heartbroken that my grandfather is slowly dying, and I’m having to just sit on the sidelines and watch.

Before I go any further, I want to back track and mention that I have always believed in God, and He has always, and I do mean ALWAYS, been there for me through a lot of sad times and a lot of great times. God has really lifted my family up the past few years, especially my mom’s family, having to deal with my granny’s diabetes and my grandpa’s Alzheimer’s, but lately I think my faith has been lacking in God’s ability to shelter us from Satan’s blows and attacks.

You see, sometimes I really have no idea what to pray for, or for that matter HOW to pray, and I just do not want to seem foolish or stupid to God. But yesterday morning, thanks to my very best friend and a dear co-worker, I now know I am never foolish in God’s eyes because He created me and He knew me before I was even born. I know my grandpa is going to heaven one sweet day to live side-by-side with our Heavenly Father, but lately I’ve been so caught up in my grandpa slowly dying that that’s all I can think about… Maybe I’m being selfish because I don’t want my grandpa to die and leave ME and his family, but I need to shift my focus to what waits for my grandpa on the other side. I know God already has a place for him in the middle of a beautiful meadow overlooking a valley or lake, with a new house where he will never be in any pain, won’t have to face the horrors and torment of a cruel world and can live forever rejoicing that he can remember who he is and who his family is. As I close, I am reminded of what Charles and Caroline Ingalls said when they found out their newborn son had just passed away….

Psalm 23

1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters.

3 He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.

5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

And Vince Gill’s moving tribute to his brother, which is a great reminder to all of us who’ve lost a loved one that they have gone to heaven “a-shouting, love for the Father and the Son.”

Or Brooks and Dunn’s amazing reminder that “There’s more to life than just what I can see.”

Or Carrie Underwood and Vince Gill’s powerful, heart-warming proclamation: “My God, How GREAT Thou Art.”