Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Book Review and Giveaway - Hot (Sweaty) Mamas

I am so excited to host a giveaway for Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom. This book is a fabulous how-to manual for any mom who wants to begin a fitness program or for the mom who wants to improve her fitness level. I've been in the fitness industry for over sixteen years and I still learned some new tricks and ideas from this book. I would highly recommend it to new moms and those of us who have a child or two or seven. My favorite quote from the book: "All we have is this moment, the present. And it's that art of mindfulness that teaches you to turn your attention to the present moment, whether it's to gaze lovingly into your child's eyes or work up a sweat. Learning how to make the most of each moment, being a mindful mama, is one of the basic skills of all fit moms." I love that thought. It's something I struggle with in my multi-tasking mind. Hot (Sweaty) Mamas is full of not only pearls of wisdom for getting you to workout and making that workout effective but wisdom for life. I am giving away two copies of Hot (Sweaty) Mamas. Yes, that's two, just in time for those New Year's Resolutions! Here are the rules: Mandatory Entry: Follow my blog and leave a comment. Extra Entries: (+2) Follow me on Twitter or Facebook Share the contest on Twitter or Facebook (+4) Share the contest on your sidebar or as a blog post. Open to residents of U.S. and Canada Contest closes: January 4, 2012

Buy Hot (Sweaty) Mamas

Hot Sweaty Mamas Blog

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The book is always better than the movie

I just finished watching, The Help. I laughed and cried and vowed to be a better mother, a better Christian, and a better person, but I have to admit that I still think the book is better than the movie. It's just not possible for a movie to give all the insights and depth that a book can give. I also love imagining the characters and scenes in my head. No television screen can match that. The only exception I would make is The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. I loved the book but I'm a romantic, I much prefer the way the movie ended with Edmund and Mercedes together. Plus James Caviezel as Edmund Dantes was an extremely good choice. Very nice-looking man. What do you think? Book or movie?
Monday, December 5, 2011

Guest Post - Hot Sweaty Mamas

On December 20th I'll be reviewing and giving away a copy of Hot (Sweaty) Mamas. Today co-author, Laurie, shares some fabulous tips for us. "Act Like Others Are Watching–Because They Are 10 Tactics for a Fit Family" by Laurie Lethert Kocanda It’s the last secret we mention in Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom (Andrews McMeel, 2011), but perhaps the most important of them all: Act Like Others Are Watching–Because They Are. We’re talking about mentoring here, both having a mentor and being a mentor. It’s about having another woman to look up to, one who seems to manage the messiness of life while still getting sweaty on a regular basis. It’s also about being that woman others look to for inspiration. But obviously the most important role you have as a mentor is providing a healthy and encouraging example for your children. Being a fit mom lets you demonstrate (actions speak louder than words) that fitness is a priority in your life. Dr. Todd Smith, a family practice physician in Cottage Grove, Minn., encourages parents to get out and get active with their children. “Kids see what their parents do and don’t do, so it’s important that parents take time to show their children the importance of physical activity.” Smith adds that genetics alone do not determine a child’s health; parent modeling and overall activity level are equally, if not more, important. Getting a little territorial? Maybe you like to think of your workouts as your much coveted “me time,” a chance to escape. Don’t worry, we’re not asking you to give up that solo time altogether. Keep your solo sweat, but consider adding in activities that let the whole family in on the fun. There are lots of ways to workout with your kids. Schedule time as a family to participate in fitness and outdoor pursuits, perhaps on a weekly basis. By spending family time together in an active setting, you are showing children the importance of family togetherness as well as health and fitness. Here are a few tactics to add to your fit family repertoire: 1. Let the kids help develop a list of potential activities. Create a list for each season so you’re never incapacitated by inclement weather. Head outside whenever possible, away from the TV and computer. 2. Focus on time, not intensity. Remind your kids that fitness is about endurance—a lifetime of activity. Enjoy the time and don’t worry about the caloric burn. 3. Invest in gear. Frisbees, bats and balls, even a water sprinkler can get the family moving. Just make sure there are lots of options. Investing in the (practical) essentials is worth your dollar, too. While positioned in a jogging stroller or bike trailer, kids get a similar adrenaline rush as you. The final blocks back to your home are the perfect place to let little legs work off energy. 5. Be creative. With the right attitude, simple tasks like washing the car, raking the yard, gardening, and snow shoveling can be fun family activities. Be creative with your time, too. If your children are taking swim lessons, think about jumping in an open lane yourself. Consider running around the soccer fields while your kids are at practice, or do some sit-ups and push-ups from the sidelines (who cares if other parents are looking… they probably want to join you!). 6. Look for local road races that offer opportunities for kids to compete too. When you run a race on your own, make arrangements so your kids can watch you cross the finish line (or cross the finish line with you). It’s important that they see you accomplish your goals and experience the rewards of hard work. 7. Hit the park, recreation center, or nature center. Just bringing your children to the playground on a regular basis encourages them to use their large motor skills and burn off energy. Look for nature paths, or paved park trails so kids can walk, run, or rollerblade with you in sight. 8. Let your children investigate sports alternatives in organized league play. Most community centers offer recreational leagues for soccer, basketball, and more. Call your local center to get a seasonal list of athletic offerings. Volunteer to coach if you can swing it and remember to focus on fun. 9. Encourage older kids to join you on runs, bike rides, or trips to the gym. Invite them to ride their bikes along with you as you run on local trails. Let them run with you at the track where they can go their own pace. 10. Emphasize fun. In order to build long-lasting behaviors, make sure kids are enjoying their physical activity. It is, after all, about building life-long habits and behaviors for the entire family. This guest post comes from Laurie Kocanda and Kara Douglass Thom, co-authors of Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom.
Saturday, December 3, 2011

Eccentric Son

My 5yo insists on reading Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott or Star Wars by George Lucas. I cannot imagine he can follow either one very well but he loves these books! He begs me to read them during the day, at storytime, at bedtime. Hilarious. How do I encourage him to read on his level without discouraging this obsession with some fabulous books?
Thursday, December 1, 2011

Book Giveaway - Cold River

I'm so excited to give away Cold River by Liz Adair. It would be a fabulous Christmas present for yourself or for that sister-in-law that you can't think of a good present for or better yet your child's teacher (think of the brownie points). To Enter: Mandatory Entry: Follow my blog and leave a comment. Extra Entries: (+1) Follow me on Twitter or Facebook (+2) Share the contest on Twitter or Facebook (+4) Share the contest on your sidebar or as a blog post. Open to residents of U.S. and Canada Contest closes: December 16, 2011 Thanks for stopping by!
Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cold River - Book Review

Mandy Steenburg thinks her doctorate in education has prepared her to run any school district - until she tangles with the moonshine-making, coon-dog-owning denizens of a tiny district in Pacific Northwest timber country. She's determined to make a difference, but the local populace still looks to the former superintendent for leadership. When Mandy lands in the middle of an old feud and someone keeps trying to kill her, instinct tells her to run. And though she has to literally swim through perilous waters, she finds a reason to stay and chance the odds.
My review:
Liz Adair is a master at creating delightful and intriguing characters. I loved every character in the book and kept guessing and pondering on who was trying to kill Mandy and who she was going to fall in love with. The setting of this book is delightful, the town one that I would love to visit. Cold River is another well-written book by Liz Adair.
What I liked: Loved the people, the setting, and the author's voice.
What I didn't like: I wouldn't have touted the book as a suspense. The plot was definitely intriguing and well-done but from the publisher's description I was looking for more suspense.
Audience: I would recommend this book to everyone.
Where to buy Cold River: Amazon or Deseret Book.
Check back tomorrow, I'll be posting a giveaway of Cold River. What a fabulous Christmas present that would be!

Working during the holidays

Sorry I've been out of it the past week. It was too much fun having all my boys home through the Thanksgiving break. Then I had to catch up with ten loads of laundry and a cute baby who thinks Mom shouldn't be more than two inches from his side at all times (usually he prefers in my arms, he's a 32 pound 15-mo who can't walk so it's a fabulous workout to carry him everywhere). I do have some exciting things coming up though. On this blog I'll be reviewing and giving away Liz Adair's new book, Cold River. I'm also really close to declaring my latest manuscript finished and sending it off. I promised myself it would be done by January, so I'll have to force myself to actually work instead of just bake December away. How do you fit in work during the holidays or do you just relax and enjoy and figure January is for working?
Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Changing my Attitude

My oldest son broke his foot last weekend and two of my other boys are really sick. Usually my oldest is my greatest helper, so without him I've been running ragged and not very happy about it. Last night I got everybody to bed and opened Miles to Go by Richard Paul Evans. The people in this book have just been through horrific things, the girl in this excerpt was severely abused and shuffled through foster care. See if this doesn't inspire you to appreciate life. "I heard someone say, 'There's no problem so big that whining won't make it worse.'" I laughed. "The way I see it," she said, "everyone has problems. It's how you choose to deal with them. Some people choose to be whiners, some choose to be winners. Some choose to be victims, some choose to be victors." I put my hand on her shoulder. "You're the type who thinks of the glass as being half full instead of half empty." "No," she said, "I"m just grateful for the glass." I read that to my 12yo and we both sat and thought for awhile. The I opened The Ensign and found this suggestion by President Thomas S. Monson to Elder Carl B. Cook, "It is better to look up." It hit me that I've been looking down, dealing with the drudgery of sickness and sadness and not turning to the Lord to help me through my trials. Because I truly believe that He cares about us through every trial, big or small. How do you keep a positive attitude and keep looking up?
Monday, November 14, 2011

Jabberwocky and Hatter by Daniel Coleman

I've been searching for fun reads for my 9 and 12yo boys. Lo and behold Daniel Coleman shows up to my critique group last week. When I heard about Jabberwocky and Hatter I knew I must get them for the boys. The books sounded interesting, are a very good price (.99 & 2.99) and based on the excerpt Daniel read to us that night he is an extremely talented writer. Jabberwocky's back cover blurb: “One, two! One, two! and through and through the vorpal blade went snicker-snack!” Blood pounded in Tjaden’s ears as he breathed in the acrid odor, and his sword didn’t falter. Not after the convoluted road that had led him to set out alone to find and slay the manxome Jabberwocky. But the secrets he’d learned about the Jabberwocky’s sorrowful past made it a sour victory. How different would the situation be if the girl he loved wasn’t at risk? Why didn’t anyone tell him the dark secrets surrounding the Tumtum tree? Jabberwocky, a short novel by Daniel Coleman, is the untold story behind Lewis Carroll’s beloved poem. Meet the characters and creatures that inhabit the world long before Alice ever fell down the rabbit’s hole. While staying true to every detail of Lewis Carroll’s masterpiece, Jabberwocky provides twists that will keep you turning pages. You might know how it ends, but you won’t believe how it happens. . Hatter's back cover blurb: There’s nothing wrong with a touch of madness. – Cheshire Cat Someday Hatta will save the kingdom. In his mind, at least. But his talents of uncharacteristic kindness and a passion for colors hardly qualify him for such a destiny. In a kingdom that doesn’t need saving, a young man ignorant of social norms is the unlikeliest of heroes. Along the way, the Cheshire Cat, Queen of Hearts, White Queen, and other familiar characters emerge to fill their eminent roles as well. Witness literature’s most lovable lunatic’s tangled ascent into madness.


Lately I seem to be spending less time working on my writing and more time reading Facebook posts. In my mind I'm not giving up on my dreams but I'm definitely not working towards them very quickly. Ian S. Ardern said, "With the demands made of us, we must learn to prioritize our choices to match our goals or risk being exposed to the winds of procrastination and being blown from one time-wasting activity to another." "Prioritize our choices." I love that. There was once a time when I would get the baby down for his nap, read an article in the Ensign, and then focus on my manuscript until the baby woke up. Now I'm wasting time on social networking, folding laundry, or taking a nap myself. Sometimes I need the nap but the laundry and social networking can wait. I'd really like to become focused again. How do you prioritize your choices? How do you teach your children this concept?
Tuesday, November 8, 2011

November Giveaway Hop

I am so excited to be a part of the November Giveaway Hop hosted by Tristi Pinkston and I Am a Reader, Not a Writer.

I will be giving away a copy of The Broken Path. It's no longer possible to buy the book in print form. Actually there is one copy available on Amazon for $999.97. So you could win my copy, resell the book (after you read it, of course), and have a very nice Christmas.

Involved in a debilitating accident at age six, Ethan Searle believes women eye him with a mixture of pity and disdain. He’s tried love before. He won’t again. Autumn Reader escaped her abusive marriage with her daughter, a stack of debt and fear. Autumn’s precocious two-year old becomes enraptured by Ethan. Autumn is on the path to following her daughter’s example when her ex-husband reappears.

You can enter three times for the giveaway.

Mandatory entry: Must be a follower of this blog and leave a comment below. (Open to US residents) Optional entry: Follow me on Twitter or like me on Facebook.

The hop runs from November 8th - 11th. Participating blogs:

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Middle Grade Book Help

My 9yo and I just finished the Peter and the Starcatchers series by Ridley Pierson and Dave Barry. Love those books! It's my second time through and they were still fun. But now I'm not sure which direction to go. Should we start Fablehaven or Harry Potter? Are those series still a bit above his level? My oldest (now 12) read Fablehaven and Harry Potter at nine but you all understand how each child is a bit different. My 9yo is very smart but hasn't been as passionate about reading as his older brother. I hate to start a series that's too advanced for him and frustrate him. Any suggestions for fabulous middle grade book series? My son likes adventure, humor, and scoring lots of points on AR tests. Maybe we'll just read Chickens in the Headlights again. He hasn't done an AR test on that one yet and Matthew Buckely is always great for a laugh.
Friday, November 4, 2011

It's Autumn Time

Fall is officially here - my leaves have fallen, I don't want to get out of bed in the morning because it's dark and cold, everybody but me is doing NaNoWriMo, and I've gained five pounds. I'm not doing NaNaWriMo because I'm polishing and not ready to start something new (good excuse, eh?). I've gained five pounds because of hot cocoa and cookies. I don't want to get out of bed because I stay up late reading to my boys (while drinking hot cococa and munching on cookies). Despite the five pounds and my barren trees I love autumn. What's your favorite thing about this time of year?
Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tribute Books New Young Adult Line

Nicole Langan from Tribute Books offered to share with all of us a little about their new venture as an ebook publisher of young adult titles. We're looking to work with authors who are savvy with social media - those who blog, tweet and update their Facebook status on a daily basis. Our preference is for authors who already have a book(s) published through a royalty-paying press. We want to work with those who are familiar with the ins and outs of the publishing process. We seek those who have experience having their work edited and know the effort required for successful book promotion. There would be NO charge for authors, and those selected would receive 50% of the net retail price in royalties. To begin, we're looking to work with 12 authors in 2012, publishing one per month. Cami: Are you willing to look at books that have already been published and are out of print? Nicole: Our preference would be for never released material, but if an author can provide proof in writing that a former contract is no longer active we would be happy to consider a previously published work. Cami: Would these books only be sold as ebooks or could print versions be obtained for friends, family, and book signings? Nicole: All of our YA releases in 2012 will be available only as ebooks. Cami: What number of copies sold would denote a bestseller for your company? Nicole: Since we are such a small press, a best seller would average about 25 e-copies sold per month. However, we are hoping to increase our sales figures by tapping into a larger YA-enthused readership. My hope is that we are able to recruit some talented writers of well-written, well-crafted stories in order to develop an eager fan base for the titles we publish. We want readers to be excited about the ebooks we produce. Young adult authors have the most devoted fan followings out there, and we'd like to introduce that audience to a whole new host of talent. Cami: What do you feel is the best form of promotion for an author? Nicole: I am a big believer in the power of social media. I even conduct monthly blog tours for outside publishers and authors in order to help them increase the online presence of a book. Book bloggers are a powerful force in the book industry. With more and more book stores closing and book review columns being cut from major newspapers, readers are depending on bloggers to help them find the books they want to read. They are turning to the internet as a reference point to fill this information gap. In my opinion, social networking is the bread and butter of any author's promotional efforts. Without it, it's like trying to paddle upstream without a canoe. Readers want to connect with the person who wrote the book. They crave interaction with an author. Nothing beats getting a writer to comment on a blogger's book review post or getting a personalized thank you tweet from your favorite author. The days of authors being isolated from their fans is over. They're now able to build an online following and receive instant feedback for their work. They have the opportunity to take part in creating their own literary community. We try to keep an active online presence with our web site , Facebook, Twitter, and blog. We'd love to have anyone who loves young adult literature to join us for the ride. Thank you, Nicole, for stopping by my blog. This looks like a great publisher for all the young adult fiction authors out there.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Workout Swap

For any of you workout nuts out there I am doing a workout swap on my fitness blog. It should be a lot of fun and hopefully motivate me to get out of bed and go to the gym. Lately there's been far too much cookie baking and far too little sweating. If you're interested in sharing or stealing workouts, please go to my blog and leave a comment. Thanks, Cami
Monday, October 24, 2011

The Walk by Richard Paul Evans

One of my secret dreams is to walk across the nation. Sadly I don't have the time (my four boys and husband might protest) or anybody willing to do it with me. In Richard Paul Evans book, The Walk, Alan Christoffersen sets off from Seattle to walk to Key West. He goes alone and quite often camps along the way (I'd only do it if I had a nice bed to sleep in each night). I also hope I never have the reasons Alan has to walk across the nation. I really enjoyed The Walk. Richard Paul Evans does a fabulous job of making a heartbreaking story into something that isn't just a learning lesson but is an intriguing and enjoyable story. I'm excited to read the rest of the series. What's your favorite Richard Paul Evans book? (The Sunflower is one of my favorites but I love them all.) Do you have any desire to walk across the country? (I think I've got my little sister talked into backpacking across Europe when all of our children are raised, but I'm still looking for a friend to cross the U.S. so let me know.)
Monday, October 17, 2011

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

I finally made time to read The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I thought it was phenomenal. I loved the characterization, the theme, the setting, the story. As you read a book like The Help it's impossible not to come up with your own ideas about how to change some of the heartbreak and prejudices in this world. The thought that kept coming back to me was that change has to be from inside. As we each try to be less judgmental and selfish and more loving and kind we'll treat people the way the Savior would. In my opinion that's when true change will come. The other thought I kept having was I didn't want to be a rotten, neglectful mother like some of the women portrayed in the book so I was a lot more conscientious about how I responded to my wild boys. If you haven't read The Help I definitely recommend it. If you have, what ideas came to you as you read?
Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Print copies of The Broken Path

I've had requests for a print version of The Broken Path. I searched and found that there are no print copies available. On Amazon you can buy a used copy for $999.98. Hilarious. Like anyone would buy that. I bugged the publisher and found that I could buy author copies of the book even though they aren't willing to release more print copies. If any of you are interested, please email me camichecketts(at)yahoo(dot)com. Sad to have one of my books go out of print. Have any other authors experienced this? What did you do?
Friday, October 7, 2011

Book Giveaway - The Alias by Mandi Slack

If you read my review of The Alias, you're probably searching for your own copy. Today is your lucky day, you can win The Alias just by leaving me a friendly comment. For extra entries: 1 extra entry for following either this blog or my fitness blog, or following me on Twitter or Facebook. 2 extra entries for sharing the contest on Twitter or Facebook. 4 extra entries for sharing the contest on your personal blog or adding the contest to your sidebar. Contest ends October 22, 2011 Open to residents of U.S. and Canada Please leave an e-mail address with your comment. Thanks for stopping by!

Book Review - The Alias by Mandi Slack

After a long and difficult divorce, Jacey thinks the worst is over. Little does she know she'll soon be forced to go undercover to protect her family, and in the process, she'll risk losing her identity, her future, and her heart. My review: As a mother I was immediately captivated by this book. My heart ached for Jacey and her son, Blaze. I loved seeing Blaze come out of his punk state (my 12yo lives here half of the time) and flourish on the ranch. Jacey's best friend, Melissa, was a fun character. She added a lot to the story. I'm hoping there's a sequel with Melissa as the protagonist. What I liked: I loved the touching relationship between Jacey and Blaze. I loved feeling at home on the ranch. The plot was interesting, the pacing was good, and there was just the right amount of romance. Definitely my type of story. What I didn't like: It's always heartbreaking to read about women escaping an abusive relationship. The author did a good job of showing Jacey's recovery and growth. Purchase The Alias here. The Kindle edition is only $3.99. Sweet deal. Mandi's Blog
Sunday, October 2, 2011

Interview - Cynthia Kocialski

Today I have Cynthia Kocialski, author of Startup From The Ground Up, answering some questions about entrepeneurs, business, and her book. What inspired you to write the book? Many entrepreneurs come to me looking for suggestions and advice. I’m afraid I disappoint them most of the time because they are usually looking for the magic or secret that will instantly propel their company and product to success. And it doesn’t exist, overnight business success doesn’t happen. What they need more than anything is inspiration. They need to know the challenges they are encountering are not unique to them, that they can work through them and prevail. Friends and colleagues encouraged me to write a book because they like hearing the stories about start-ups and what it is really like inside one of those famous successes. I think it’s the stories that are most helpful to the budding entrepreneur and their early stage businesses. What advice can you give other entrepreneurs feeling overwhelmed by the business, especially when a lot of things are going wrong at the same time? Every entrepreneur feels overwhelmed. It never seems as if there are enough hours in a day and everything seems to take longer than wanted. Until the new business takes on a life of its own, the entrepreneur will always feel as if they should be doing something more. The way to get past this feeling is for the entrepreneur to ask themselves whether what they did today moves their company closer to their milestones and goals. If it has, then you’ve done a good job, even if there is still lots more to do. My advice is to automate as much as possible. A working, highly productive computer is still less costly than labor. If something isn’t getting done because the entrepreneur can’t seem to find the time, then outsource the work. Eliminate tasks that don’t move the start-up closer to its goals. Lastly, realize that entrepreneurs are the captains of their ships. They set the tone and direction of the new business. Spending time thinking about the big picture and where the start-up is going may not have a tangible work result but is important. In this case, doing nothing is doing something. What other advice can you give women entrepreneurs? I ran into a researcher who was doing her doctorate dissertation on serial entrepreneurs. This candidate told me that before they started interviewing these entrepreneurs, they would not have hypothesized how different women and men approached entrepreneurship. While these entrepreneurs were all successful in the end, the paths they took were quite different. And this is what I’ve seen in my personal experience with women in business. As a woman entrepreneur you have to accept that “women are from Venus and men are from Mars”, and it’s unlikely you will reach your goal by emulating a path that a man took to success, which is unfortunate because the bulk of the proof points are men. As a woman entrepreneur, you are far more likely to have to take the path less trodden or forge a new path, and this requires creativity. How does this book help startups? It shows entrepreneurs how to think about creating a business, what are the basic elements beyond the product that they need to focus their attention on. It also shows entrepreneurs how other entrepreneurs have solved challenges and how they have addressed these challenges in creative ways, not in common industry methods because an early stage company can’t act like an established company. What marketing advice do you give new business owners? Marketing should be started as soon as possible, even before the product is ready for customers. Marketing creates demand for the product or service. Marketing builds awareness for your company and product. Like it or not, products don’t sell themselves. Customers always prefer to buy the familiar. In the customer’s mind, that which is familiar is less risk. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it? I find that writing forces one to organize and consolidate one’s thoughts. I found it immensely helpful to write about how to transform an idea into an early stage company. It made me think about all those start-ups, and what I’ve seen work and what I’ve seen not work, and question why. The thought process was enlightening and made me better understand the keys to making a company thrive and succeed. While not the actual writing of the book, I often relate my personal experiences to the creation of a new business. Like a first time entrepreneur, I had to learn about the book process as a first time author. The process of bringing a book to the readers and attracting an audience is a micro-version of an early stage start-up company. The book writing is the product development, and while a substantial effort, it is far less than the task of marketing the book and gaining an audience. The book process is also about assembling a team of various editors, publishers, consultants, marketing firms, and setting up sales and distribution channels. I’ve met many authors, who wrote and published books. Some told me few people bought their books. They quickly followed that up with how they weren’t willing to spend money and time to market and promote their book. That they didn’t realize at the onset what would be required of them. It’s just like an entrepreneur who believes, “If we build, they will come”. And then the realization sets in, that creating and building a company is a long, involved process. I’ve met successful authors and they talk about how long it took them to be successful, how they tried various different marketing avenues, and how they were forced to hire assistants and outsource tasks because as their audiences grow, there is more demand on their time. The title of your book what does it mean? The title is meant to imply the seed stage or early stage start-up company, those new businesses just opening up. The subtitle shows that it is a how-to business book, and was chosen to embrace target keywords for search engines. The book title itself was crowd sourced. I conducted surveys and asked recipients to name the book. I selected the best ones and conducted another survey to see which title was the best choice. My original title was Start-Up In The Sky, a variant of pie in the sky. I thought it was clever, but nobody liked it. How important should money be as a motivation for succeeding in business? Most entrepreneurs aren’t driven by the money. They are driven by their desire to create something and achieve a goal. Money is simply an indication of how well they’ve met their goals. For an entrepreneur money is like their Olympic gold medal. It’s not the medal itself, but what is represents and the accomplishment that matters. Entrepreneurs should focus on building the company and winning in the market place. If the entrepreneur aspires to be funded by investors then money as the end goal is very important. Investors care about the exit strategy and the return on their investment. Once the entrepreneur takes investors’ money, it means the stopwatch is ticking and the race is on. Investors mean oversight and the pressure to perform. Describe your book in 3 words. Practical Business Creation Why did you write Startup from the Ground Up? I see entrepreneurs and listen to their stories all the time. First time entrepreneurs follow the same paths. Often, the first phase is develop the product and then simultaneously try to market and sell it, and attracts investors at the same time. They eventually realize that marketing is not easy and investors aren’t impressed by a product alone. Investors point out that their proposal is a product, not a company and this leaves entrepreneurs in a state of confusion. After all, they’ve incorporated, they’ve named the company, they’ve got a product to sell, what do the investor’s mean by this statement? A second common approach is the entrepreneur starts by presenting the product idea to investors, hoping to get funding, and realizes that investors aren’t impressed by vapor designs, ideas, and non-existent, potential customers. The third approach is to go it without investors, to self-fund or bootstrap the company. In the second phase, the entrepreneur accepts that the product isn’t enough, they need the everything else that makes the project a company and not just a product (or the entrepreneur declares the non-believers to be idiots because the value and potential of their product is blindingly obvious to them). The entrepreneur starts delving into marketing, sales, distribution, pricing, finance, accounting, funding options, and every facet of a business. And while the general statement of needing marketing is good, the detailed and specifics become more than the entrepreneur can handle – attracting customers and convincing them that to pay for your product is never easy. The entrepreneur begins to feel overwhelmed with all the facets of business that needs to be addressed in detail, the workload is mounting, and entrepreneur is drowning and needs help. Here’s where the projects begins to fall apart, when the founders take on too much and no single effort gets enough attention to be done well enough to succeed. This is the purpose of my book. What the entrepreneur needs is way to simplify what they need to focus on and in a way that is doable and manageable for them, not an army of staff. Most implement the various aspects of a business because the other companies in the market are doing it, but that doesn’t make it the right choice or direction for their small start-up. What a big company like Microsoft can do, or a venture-backed company like Facebook can do, may not be what a bootstrapped start-up can do. Just because a company is mentioned in your competitive analysis doesn’t mean your start-up can act like them at this stage of your corporate life. The reality is best industry practices become common practices, and a start-up needs to differentiate itself from the crowd and not be common. My purpose is to get the newbie moving in the right direction from step one without getting them to be overwhelmed by the largeness of creating a company. Stop looking at the big companies as a model for a start-up, to build a company with a small staff you need get down to the basics and focus on a few key areas. How does this book benefit the reader? Hopeful, it gets the entrepreneur thinking in the right direction about building a business, not just a product. Every business is unique and there is no single way for a business to thrive, it’s impossible to tell an entrepreneur what to do about every aspect of every business. Startup From The Ground Up intent is to show the first time entrepreneurs HOW to think about creating the business and gives examples of how other entrepreneurs have tackled different hurdles. Who is your intended audience? The intended reader is the first time entrepreneur. It is mostly geared towards tech companies but applicable to small businesses that intend to stay small as well. The reality of the matter is tech companies are predominantly founded by 20- or 30- something men. It’s not intended for the seasoned entrepreneur, who has already encountered much of the challenges discussed in the book. It’s not intended for the person working in corporate America, which focuses on process improvements, efficiency, and optimizations. Even if they start a new product line, established companies have the power of their brand and the financial might of their balance sheets behind them. This is completely different than creating something from nothing. Thanks, Cynthia, I really appreciate you stopping by my blog and sharing such great information. If you're interested in Cynthia's book, click here for more info.
Friday, September 30, 2011

Guest Post - Cynthia Kocialski

Cynthia Kocialski, author of Startup from the Ground Up, is my guest today, sharing with us how to be a more successful enrepeneur. The Many Shades of Entrepreneurship By Cynthia Kocialski All entrepreneurs want to be successful. Everyone knows it’s not as easy as it seems. Every entrepreneur begins a new business with high hopes and enthusiasm; each believes they have the right stuff to be what success stories are made of. Before embarking upon their venture, each would-be entrepreneur is faced with choices. Do you begin with nothing and build a business from the ground up? Do you purchase or take an equity stake in a company that has gotten past the initial stages and just needs to be grown? Perhaps, do you purchase a franchise with a proven formula that simply needs execution? How big is your dream? Do you just want a very comfortable income or do you want to create the next Google and have fame as well? In my experience, these represent different people with different skill sets. The first step to becoming an entrepreneur is to know who you are, what you are best at doing, and what you want from the experience. Put a great entrepreneur in the wrong start-up, the new business will fail. People who like to build something from nothing thrive in ambiguous environments and like to create something of their own design. This type of person is creative, is very good at reaching out to search for answers, and is best when they are handed a general direction without detailed instructions. They like the challenge to see if they can pull it off. They are confident that they can figure it out or find the right people to advise them. They resent being micro-managed. At the opposite side, franchisees are more about execution. They like to be handed step-by-step instructions that are to be implemented according to someone else’s design. A franchisee feels comfort in knowing there is someone in headquarters to help them through the hiccups. Put the ground up person in the franchise, and they will try to change the system. Put a franchisee in the ground up environment and they will be lost, not knowing what to do, or how to effectively go about figuring out what they should be doing. Here is a simple example of creativity versus execution. Two chefs return to their homes at night to make dinner. The first has no specific plans. He opens up the refrigerator and then the pantry, and surveys the possible ingredients. He ponders for a moment, selects a handful and creates a fabulous dish to enjoy. The second chef returns home, opens a recipe book, and takes out all the ingredients he had earlier purchased just for the recipe. He makes a delectable dish too. While many people call themselves entrepreneurs, they are not all cut from the same cloth. It’s the start-up that choses the entrepreneur, not the other way around. About the Author Cynthia Kocialski is the founder of three tech start-ups companies. In the past 15 years, she has been involved in dozens of start-ups. Cynthia writes the Start-up Entrepreneurs’ Blog (www.cynthiakocialski.com) and has written the book, “Startup From The Ground Up - Practical Insights for Entrepreneurs, How to Go from an Idea to New Business” (www.startupfromthegroundup.com).
Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Witch Song by Amber Argyle

Brusenna is a teen who lives in the forest alone with her mother. The villagers shun them because her mother is a witch. She is shamed and humiliated and basically afraid of contact with other people. An unexpected visitor comes and her mother leaves to try to defeat a truly "wicked witch". Brusenna lives alone until danger faces her at home, it is her turn then to take up her mother's mantle as a witch and try to right the wrongs that have been inflicted due to the evil witches influence. This means that she must face her fears and venture into the outside world, alone. I don't usually read fantasy unless my boys beg, so the fact that I loved Witch Song by Amber Argyle is saying a lot. The pacing is quick, the story is intriguing, the description is vivid, the heroine tugged at my heart (facing danger with only her dog and being pretty tough about it), and the hero is really, really cute. If you enjoy young adult fantasy this is a must-read, if you don't typically read that genre this may be the book that will hook you. I'd definitely recommend Witch Song. Buy Witch Song here. Amber Argyle's website
Saturday, September 17, 2011

Book Review and Giveaway - Seven by Paige Agnew

Seven strangers. One purpose. One horrible thing in common - kidnapped. When seven people are pulled from their ordinary lives to be pawns in a madman's game of chess, the only way they will make it out alive is to put aside their differences and work together to escape to freedom. My review: This is one of the most intriguing books I have read. Paige Agnew's imagination is unreal. Seven is a book I didn't want to put down but also found a bit creepy (in a good way). I don't honestly know what to say without giving away too much information and ruining the novel for you. Read the book and then e-mail me so we can chat about it. What I liked: Loved the crazy plot twists. Very impressed with the way the author developed seven different characters so well. What I didn't like: A lot of typos and grammatical errors. Audience: Any age would enjoy the book but definitely targetted to the young adult market. Paige Agnew's Website Buy Seven here. Win a free copy of Seven. Please leave a comment below to win Seven (must be a follower of this blog). For extra entries: 1 extra entry for following me on Twitter or Facebook. 2 extra entries for sharing the contest on Twitter or Facebook. 4 extra entries for sharing the contest on your personal blog or adding the contest to your sidebar. Contest ends Septmeber 26, 2011 Open to residents of U.S. and Canada Please leave an e-mail address with your comment. Facebook Pre Virtual Book Tour Contest PRIZE - $25 Barnes and Noble gift card and other goodies for book lovers Submit your answers to StarlessSky2010@comcast.net Deadline September 12th Answer this question correctly to enter the drawing: If life without love is like a starless sky, what is the moon? Learn More Here http://paigeagnew.com/contest_284.html
Thursday, September 15, 2011

A.R. Tests

My 9yo asked me why I was reading a book that was obviously outside of my preferred genre. I told him I had been asked to review it on my blog. He cocked his cute head to the side and said, "Oh, so you take an A.R. test on it and then if you do good on it other people will listen to what you think about the book." I laughed and told him I graduated from college and was done with tests. He didn't like that very much! I explained to my son that Book reviews are mostly a personal opinion. There is no formula or test to show if the reviewer understood what they read. It made me think that I need to work harder to understand each book I've been asked to review and make sure my review is helpful to both the author and the reader. When's the last time you took a test? Do you think an A.R. test for reviewers would be helpful or just a waste of time?
Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fall by Jennifer Hurst Book Review and Giveaway

Women and construction shouldn’t mix. At least, that is what the client, Mr. Blackwell, thinks when Twenty-one year old Julia D. Halstead is promoted to project manager and tasked with remodeling a turn-of-the-century schoolhouse into a bed and breakfast in the tourist town of Torrey, Utah. However, the schoolhouse contains a dark secret that has been hidden for over a hundred years. A secret that will unleash the furies of Hell and cause the Angels in Heaven to weep as ethereal brothers, Matthew and Nathan battle over Julia’s very soul. My Review: Yesterday I realized that my review of Fall was scheduled for today and I was only halfway through. I put the boys to bed early and read until midnight. The truth is I would've read until midnight even if the review wasn't scheduled for today. This book was amazing. I loved the romance, the suspense, the characterization, the paranormal aspects (which is saying a lot for me, I usually only read paranormal for my boys). There were so many wonderful twists woven into this book. This book kind of reminded me of the Twilight series but for me it was more realistic (I actually believe in guardian angels but werewolves? Not so much). I can't wait to read the sequel. My only hope is the author doesn't take too long getting the next book out. What I liked: I liked it all. What I didn't like: That I had to read it so fast. When I have some time I'm going to read it again (slowly). Audience: Young adult on up Buy Fall here. Jennifer Hurst's website Thanks to Tristi Pinkston Blog Tours for including me in this tour. In conjunction with this blog tour, Jennifer is holding a contest. It will involve any of the blogs that Jennifer visits or where her book is featured and will close on December 31st, 2011. The entrants have to answer three questions about the book they’ve read (bought, borrowed, or stolen - shame on you) and post a link to Jennifer's website on their Twitter, Facebook, or blog (need link for verification). Then the names will be entered in a random name picker generator (http://textmechanic.com/Random-Line-Picker.html) and announced on Jennifer's website (www.jenniferhurst.com) on January 31st, 2012. The winner will receive a gift certificate for a night’s stay at the actual bed and breakfast where the story takes place. Other prizes include an autographed copy of FALL, and she will randomly select 3 contestants’ names to use in the sequel to FALL. Plus, they will receive a free copy of that book when it is published. Each blog that Jennifer Hurst visits will have a different set of questions people can answer, and they may enter as many times as they want - but they can enter once per blog site that they visit. So the more sites you visit, the more you can enter your name, thus increasing your chances of winning the gift certificate, a copy of the book FALL, and your name in the sequel. Get the book, read the book, and then read over the questions below. Once you have your answers, e-mail them to Jennifer. fall.jenniferhurst@gmail.com Your privacy is respected and your email address will NOT be used for anything but the contest. Once the contest is over - your email address will be deleted from the database. Here are the questions for you to answer: Who captured Quabin the first time? Who is the youngest Parker child? What kind of work did Matthew do for the project? If you would like to visit the other sites, go here for the master list of all participating sites: http://fallbyjenniferhurst.wordpress.com/ Best of luck, and thanks for participating!
Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Book Giveaway - Missing in Mexico

Today I'm sharing an interview with the author of Missing in Mexico, Stuart Gustafson. You can win a copy of his novel by entering below. Cami: What is the one thing you hope your readers take away from Missing in Mexico? SG: I’m going to beg for indulgence and sneak two in. The first is what every writer wants – that the readers truly think the story is an entertaining story. The second one is that the readers feel that San José del Cabo, Mexico, is a warm and enchanting place where they would feel welcome, and a place to put on their “Let’s go visit there in the next couple of years” list. We go there every year for several reasons: it’s convenient to get to from Boise, Idaho; the beaches are nice; the people are very nice; the food is great; the culture is charming; it is THE SAFEST PLACE to visit in Mexico. That’s not a plug from the Tourism Bureau – it is a fact that I can easily explain if people want to contact me privately. We love it there, which is one of the reasons I chose it as the primary setting for my debut mystery novel. C: I love finding a place like that to vacation. It sounds fabulous. I like that this book is more than a mystery, can you tell us more about that? SG: Of course. One of the complexities in Missing in Mexico that has come out in some of the reviews is the relationships that occur. I’m guessing that some people could probably come up with a half dozen different genres for the book, all perfectly justified in one place or another in the book. What is it? Is it Travel, Mystery, Intrigue, Foreign, Romance, Suspense, Fiction/Non-Fiction. See what I mean? Actually, all of these genres come into play into the book, which makes it really hard to classify it into one particular heading. Which one would you choose? C: That's tough. I really like the Travel Mystery. So, have you ever second guessed yourself in the writing process? SG: Please introduce me to the writer who’s never second guessed himself, and I’ll show you a writer who’s not been willing to show his work to others. Writing is all about taking chances, and if you’re always second guessing what you’re doing – nothing will ever make it from the keyboard to the page to the reader. Maybe it’s because I’m not taking on risky subjects that I don’t worry about second guessing myself, but I think most authors also realize the requirement to put yourself “out there” unless you want to be just like others who sit inside a lonely cocoon. C: I do that sometimes. It is wonderful to get out and meet other writers. Are you already at work on your next book? SG: Thank you for asking. The next mystery novel is underway, if you’ll pardon the pun. It’s set in Sydney, Australia, and I visited there 5 times last year conducting research on the general area as well as certain locations to ensure their descriptions are “spot on” as they say down there. The book introduces a new character that will be a featured character in future books as well, so it’s fun to bring him into the mix. I haven’t asked him where he wants to go next, but I think I know where it is, and it’s someplace that artists love. Hmmm, where could that be? C: Cabo, Sydney, and another amazing vacation spot soon, I want to be your research assistant. Thank you for dropping in and having a short chat with me. Is there anything else you would like to share? SG: Yes, my love of travel. I do love to travel, and I have the US Registered Trademarked name of America’s International Travel Expert®. Give me a reason to jump on an airplane, and I’m on it. I love to fly, and I’ve flown over one million miles on a single airline. I believe in sharing information, and I send out a free e-newsletter about travel; signing up is quite easy on my website, and you even get a great travel bonus just for enrolling – www.stuartgustafson.com. C: Thanks, Stuart. Best of luck with your writing and traveling. Please leave a comment below to win Missing in Mexico (must be a follower of this blog). For extra entries: 2 entries for sharing the contest on Twitter or Facebook 4 entries for sharing the contest on your personal blog or adding the contest to your sidebar. Contest ends Septmeber 16, 2011 Open to residents of U.S. and Canada Please leave an e-mail address with your comment. Thanks for stopping by!
Monday, August 29, 2011

Book Giveaway - Bloodborne by Gregg Luke

I'm so excited to do a giveaway of Bloodborne by Gregg Luke. I loved this book. Read my review here.
Please leave a comment below to enter (must be a follower of this blog). For extra entries: 2 entries for sharing the contest on Twitter or Facebook 4 entries for sharing the contest on your personal blog or adding the contest to your sidebar. Contest ends Septmeber 12, 2011 Open to residents of U.S. and Canada Please leave an e-mail address with your comment.
Saturday, August 27, 2011

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day - Book Recommendation by Christine Connor

I'm excited to share this book recommendation from Christine Connor. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day – A Hidden Gem Most true book lovers have so many books that, after a time, one wonders if their breeding behind your back. You decide that it’s best not to ever move house ever again because of the tremendous amount you’d have to spend on truck rental and you start to keep books in places no ordinary person would: kitchen cupboards, the garden shed or maybe even in your pillow cases. Anywhere that spreads out the tidal wave of paperbacks and makes your book habit look more like a vague interest than an all-consuming obsession. Although all of these books probably mean something to you there’s bound to be one that means more than all the rest. One that you will read time and again and each time it will make you laugh or cry or both just as it did the first time. That book, for me, is Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day by Winifred Watson. The Background Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day is a little-known gem of woman’s fiction written by Watson right before the war in 1938. When Watson originally wrote the work it was rejected and she had to barter with her agent just to get it published. Considering the intricate beauty of this work this is quite astounding. Once it was published, however, it did become a success and it was so well-loved that producers began planning a musical film version of the book. Unfortunately just as the film was about to go into production Pearl Harbour happened and the book and the film became buried as people focused on more important day-to-day concerns. For years it remained all but forgotten before, recently, being republished by Persephone Books who specialise in women’s fiction. Since then a film version has been made starring Frances McDormand in the leading role, originally, back during the war, it was supposed to be Billy Burke. Sadly we’ll never know how that version turned out. The 2008 film did its best to live up to the fun of the book but, like so many book to film translations failed to capture its spirit. The problem with turning Miss Pettigrew into a film is that it’s a very pacy book in a lot of respects and has you wanting to read the next chapter even though you’ll be late for work. Again. It’s quite difficult to recreate this on film. The Plot Like all the best stories Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day is a simple tale about a very poor nanny who accidentally goes to the wrong address when she’s given a job by an agency. Little does she know as she knocks on fortune’s door that a wonderfully exciting world waits behind it. Over the course of the book Miss Pettigrew, who is at the beginning insular and unsure, gradually grows in confidence through a serious of hilariously uncomfortable social situations and makes a big difference to the lives of the people she has happened upon. These people immediately accept her into their circle which is something Miss Pettigrew, being a poor nanny, is not used to at all and over the course of the book she finds new life-long friends. Reasons to love it When I picked up this book for the first time I wasn’t at all expecting the glorious journey it took me on. A friend had found it by accident at the library and had then begged me to buy it and read it for myself. It’s absolutely the best book purchase I have ever made. Not only is the story sweet, the characters genuine and well-rounded and the conclusion well thought out but the writing is actually very, very good. It’s delicately phrased without being too flowery and its witty, dry tone is guaranteed to have you smiling with every page you turn, I know that’s what happened for me. Perhaps the biggest reason to love this book, however, is Miss Petigrew herself. The character of the retiring nanny isn’t necessarily something we can all identify with but her persona is. She is constantly unsure, constantly hoping for the best but expecting the worst and in a way this reflects how a lot of us feel about our lives for a lot of the time. We’re always hoping that there’s a happy ending somewhere around the corner but never quite dare to believe it until it really happens for us. I won’t give away the ending but I do promise that, if you see this book through to its conclusion, you won’t be disappointed.
Thursday, August 25, 2011

Bloodborne by Gregg Luke

One ordinary afternoon, research specialist Dr. Erin Cross steps into a local deli to get some lunch and nearly takes a bullet instead. Thanks to timely intervention from a former Marine, she walks away from the seemingly freak incident. But when she returns to find her lab under security lockdown and her apartment ransacked, she realizes the attack was anything but random. Erin can’t make sense of the threat, given her low profile after a disastrous H1N1 vaccine trial. She doesn’t know that her former colleague has used the virus to develop a potent bio-weapon or that her recent research holds a key to his success. And she doesn’t know that his collaborators want her dead before she blows the whistle. Fleeing for safety with her research in hand, Erin unravels the threats with help from the timely Marine, former Special Ops agent Sean Flannery. But the closer they come to finding answers, the more questionable Sean’s behavior becomes. His erratic moods and suspicious communications are more fitting for an enemy than a friend. And as the crisis comes to a head, Erin can’t be sure who harbors more secrets — the bio-terrorists pursuing her or the one man who can give her protection.

My Review:

Definitely my favorite read of the summer. This book is intense, well-written, well-researched, and intriguing. It was one of those books that I kept reading even when it was one in the morning and I had to wake up at four. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fast-paced suspense.

What I liked: Loved the storyline and the main characters. Amazing how a male author could develop a female protagonist so well.

What I didn't like: I didn't enjoy the backstory dump as it interrupts pacing and I'd rather get to know the character slowly through dialogue, thought, and action. I always skip the backstory (someday I'll learn some patience).

Audience: I would recommend it to any adult.

Author's Website

Buy Bloodborne

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Back to school blues

I struggle with my boys leaving me for school. I love having no schedule, laughing at all their crazy games, and knowing the baby will be spoiled and protected when I take a shower or change a load of laundry. At the same time I have to admit I'm excited to have a semi-clean house, save on the grocery bill (you would not believe how much four boys can consume, $1.55 for school lunch is sounding mighty good) and maybe fit in some writing time. I wanted to do an informal poll. Do you want your children back in school or are you in mourning (or somewhere in the middle like me)? There are no wrong answers. It doesn't make you a bad parent if you're sick of cleaning up gooey popsicle sticks. Please leave a comment and share how you deal with back to school.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Book Giveaway - Just Shy of Paradise

Walnut Springs Press has offered to give one copy (signed by the author I might add) of Just Shy of Paradise to one of my blog followers. Lucky us! Please leave a comment below to enter (must be a follower of this blog). For extra entries: 2 entries for sharing the contest on Twitter or Facebook 4 entries for sharing the contest on your personal blog or adding the contest to your sidebar. Contest ends August 6, 2011 Open to residents of U.S. and Canada Please leave an e-mail address with your comment. Good luck! Read my review of Just Shy of Paradise here.
Monday, July 18, 2011

Just Shy of Paradise by Carole Thayne Warburton

When Lily's valuable fishing pole is stolen, her Native American friend, Sky, is charged with the crime. But things are not always as they seem in this intriguing tale of romance, secrets, and betrayal. I was thrilled to find a new book by Carole. I loved False Pretenses and A Question of Trust. Just Shy of Paradise is a different style than her others but I still loved it. The hero and heroine are both people you want to cheer for and get to know better. The storyline is very intriguing. Carole weaves a tragic historical event, The Bear River Massacre, into the storyline in a very effective and touching manner. I would definitely recommend this book. What I liked: Fun and interesting story with great depth of characterization and plot. I loved Lily (she eats a lot of ice cream, we could be pals). What I didn't like: Sometimes it moved a bit slow for me, but you all know how impatient I am. Audience: There is some graphic description of the Bear River Massacre so I would recommend sixteen and up (but I'm a bit overprotective of my kiddos). Carole's Blog Buy Just Shy of Paradise
Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Book Giveaway - Boost Your Revenues by Turning People Away

I was so impressed with this book I decided I needed to do a giveaway so one of my wonderful followers can be inspired to update their website like I was (give me a few weeks, I'm still working on it). Boost Your Revenues By Turning People Away is a fabulous how-to book. I learned a lot about how to startup or update a website but I also learned about promotion, marketing, and general internet info (that I probably should've known but didn't). I would recommend the book to anyone who is selling a product online. So how do you win? Must be a follower of the blog to enter. 1 entry for leaving a comment on this post. 2 entries for sharing the current giveaway on Twitter or Facebook. 4 entries for posting about the giveaway on your personal blog or putting it on your sidebar. Please include an e-mail address or other contact info. Contest closes August 1st. Contest open to residents of U.S. and Canada. Check out the Ideal Visitor website. Read my review of Boost Your Revenues by Turning People Away here.
Saturday, July 9, 2011

Don't Give Up

"The harder I work, the luckier I get." Michael Jordan One of my favorite nephews graduated from high school this year. He's a smart, good-looking, talented boy. He's also one of the nicest, hardest-working kids I know. The Michael Jordan quote was on his graduation announcement. I'm convinced his brains and talent (can't change the beauty part) have been developed to such a great extent because he learned to work hard at a young age. There are many different aspects of life where hard work is essential. My husband is riding his bike in a race called Lotoja. From Logan, Utah to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the race is 203 miles and almost 10,000 feet of vertical gain. In one day! I hurt just thinking about it. Other riders who have completed the race have told him it is 90% mind over body. Of course you have to train well and have the right equipment but the most important thing on race day: Don't give up. No matter what you want to succeed at, it is imperative that you put in the time, train hard, and get the right equipment or help but the most important thing: don't give up. Below are a few areas of my life that I want to succeed at but sometimes find myself becoming discouraged. Fitness: Becoming fit is extremely tough. Many people start an exercise regime and quit because they get injured or sore or just plain sick of it. Please don't give up. I promise you it will get easier. As you do an activity you will enjoy it more. I'm finally recovered from my fourth baby and I completely understand how hard it is to get back into shape. It hurts. But it gets easier and more fun. Keep a positive attitude, keep making yourself get out of bed (I know, I love my mattress too), and keep trying different kinds of exercise. The variety will help you become more fit and keep you mentally excited about exercise. Healthy Eating: As I exercise each morning I am convinced that I will eat healthy the entire day. By two p.m. my taste buds are hollering for their ice cream fix. I'm embarrassed to admit that most days I succumb. But it's okay to give in once in a while. You don't have to be perfect to be a healthy eater. I like the 90/10 diet plan (i): if you eat healthy 90% of the time, 10% of the time you can eat what you want. I try to eat low fat meals loaded with veggies so I can splurge on ice cream. Don't throw in the towel just because you slipped up on your diet. Enjoy the treat and do a little better next time. Or better yet, plan for the treat so you don't feel guilty or out of control. Writing (or any worthy goal): I know of many writers who keep a file filled with rejections from agents and publishers. Not me. I toss them in the trash, delete them from my computer, and try to erase them from my memory. Writing is a tough industry. It's rare to hear of a successful writer who didn't deal with rejection. It's brutal, but no matter what kind of industry you're trying to succeed at, you have to keep going. Learn from the setbacks and get up no matter how many times you get knocked down. Family: As a parent I repeat myself so often I get tired of hearing it. No wonder my boys tune me out sometimes. Parenting is one of those areas you can never give up on. Even though it seems like they're never going to get it we have to keep working, trying and praying. "No success can compensate for failure in the home." (ii) My focus has to be on my boys. When I start having those selfish nudges like wanting to eat a meal sitting down, I remind myself that they're growing up fast. I don't want to miss out on the opportunity to teach them but I also don't want to miss out on the fun. Spirituality: Endure to the end. How many times have you heard that one? It's always when I get kind of comfortable and think I'm doing things pretty well that the Lord reminds me of several areas I can improve. Never fun, but as we obey the commandments, pray our guts out, and listen to those promptings we can become more like the Savior each day. What goals or dreams are important to you? How do you keep going when you feel like giving up? (i) "The 90/10 Diet" by Joy Bauer (ii) Quote by David O. McKay, ninth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
Friday, June 24, 2011

Book Donations for CAPSA and CFSC

When my boys are having a hard day I read them a funny book. When I'm feeling depressed I reach for a favorite novel. When we just need a break from reality we turn to books. What if you were experiencing the toughest time of your life? Would you want to escape into a fantastic suspense or intriguing paranormal novel? Would you want to hold your child on your lap and laugh, cry, or teach them with a book? CAPSA (Community Abuse Prevention Services Agency) and CFSC (Child and Family Support Center) help families through nightmarish experiences the rest of can't even imagine or understand. The other night I sat thinking about the amazing people who run these agencies and wondering how I could help more. The families always need the basics: food, shelter, clothing, money. I know we all try to donate when we can. But it hit me that it would be very nice to provide these mothers, fathers, and children with books. Books might not be necessary for survival but they can comfort, teach, entertain, inspire, and bond. How can you help? Donate new or gently used books (they would appreciate children's, middle grade, young adult, and adult fiction and nonfiction) to one of these fabulous organizations or to your local family support or crisis center. If you want to donate to CFSC or CAPSA, email me camichecketts@yahoo.com. I can take the books in for you or give you the contact info you need. Whether you donate to CFSC, CAPSA, or your local organization, post a comment on this blog and let us know how many books you donated. I'll add the number to the counter on the right. Please help spread the word and share the number of donated books. I can't wait to see that number grow. Thanks for caring about the children, Cami
Monday, June 20, 2011

Author Interview- Alison Silbert

I learned so much from Boost Your Revenues by Turning People Away that I wanted to know a little bit more about the book and author. I hope you'll enjoy picking Alison's brain as much as I did. 1. What inspired you to write the book? A colleague had suggested I put commonly asked questions into a book that I could hand out to prospective clients. It seemed like a good idea, so I went ahead and wrote the outline, then found potential book publishers (two of which showed interest in the outline). I completed the copy of the book, resubmitted the full manuscript to the same two publishers outlining the pre-qualifying process I had already completed, and signed a deal. 2. How do you determine your ideal client? “I” determine my ideal client by asking myself “who do I want to help?”, “what characteristics are included in my definition of an ideal client?”, and “what are the top 3 problems my ideal client has that I can solve quickly and easily for him/her?” 3. How important is choosing the right business? Imperative. If you are marketing to the wrong business you are wasting time, energy and money. 4. What advice can you give other entrepreneurs feeling overwhelmed by the business, especially when a lot of things are going wrong at the same time? Have faith. Regardless of your beliefs, things have a way of working themselves out. There are numerous experts available, at various different price points, who are more than willing to assist you in generating the results you want. 5. What other advice can you give women entrepreneurs? Keep doing what you love. 6. The title of your book, what does it mean? Simply this: in spite of what most people use a website for (a glorified brochure available for everyone to see), it is possible to write website copy that builds ideal prospects’ trust in you and your business, and leads them to take some step towards starting the sales cycle for you. 7. Tell us about “Boost Your Revenues by Turning People Away”. “Boost Your Revenues by Turning People Away” is a compilation of all kinds of experiences I have had with clients over the past 10 years woven between many useful tidbits of information about how to get a website created and optimized so that it speaks only to your ideal client, rolled into one small book you can reference at a moment’s notice. Jam packed with useful tips on how to clarify the definition of your ideal client, three easy ways to put a website together and where to get the tools, and simple things you can do to increase your search engine ranking, this book is a must-have for any entrepreneur – seasoned or brand new. This book is also ideal for college/university graduates who want a leading-edge in a competitive job market. 8. How does this book benefit the reader? This book walks the reader through three distinct phases of creating a website. Phase 1: Clarifying who you want the website to speak to (i.e. clarifying who your ideal client is) and what message you want to convey through the website (i.e., what do you want your readers to know? What do you want your ideal prospects to do from your website?). Phase 2: Three simple ways to construct the website (choosing a professional, using a content manager and using a template). And Phase 3: Simple things that an average business person can do to increase the likelihood that the website will be seen by its ideal visitors (the business’s ideal clients). 9. Who is your intended audience? Anyone interested in learning for himself/herself how to put together an effective website that starts the sales cycle for them. 10. Tell us where “BOOST YOUR REVENUES BY TURNING PEOPLE” is available. The book is available from amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and from. http://idealvisitor.com/idealsite/book-2/. Thanks, Alison, for stopping by my blog. Best wishes for a successful book launch. I'm sure many other business owners will enjoy the book as much as I did.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Boost Your Revenues by Turning People Away

What’s the best way to increase your business? Boost Your Revenues by Turning People Away: How to Sell More to Your Ideal Client Online provides the answer in a nutshell. This informative guide that’s backed up by real-life situations is chock-full of business advice that makes success as easy as ABC, with C standing for Computer! Just how can you achieve your business goals? In three simple steps, you will learn to identify your ideal client, see how to design a website, and publicize properly so your ideal client can find your site! If you are setting up or revamping your website, you need this book. The book has everything you need to make an amazing website that will bring the clients your business needs. I read it from an author's perspective and found help not only for me but for my husband's mortgage business. I would definitely recommend it. What I liked: Easy to read and answered many questions I've had about website or internet issues. What I didn't like: Now I have to get to work updating my website! Audience: Targetted to business owners and anyone who maintains a website Ideal Visitor Website (you definitely want to check this out) Buy Boost Your Revenues by Turning People Away Youtube Video
Monday, June 13, 2011


While I was on vacation I crossed the mark - 201 followers. Amazing. Thanks to all of you who take the time to click on that follow button and even more thanks to those who comment. You're all wonderful! Alaska was amazing. I really needed that time to enjoy my husband. We had wonderful weather and spent most of our time hiking and biking which was a good thing as we ate and ate and ate. I gained four pounds. Don't want to think about how much I would've gained if we hadn't stayed active. Thank you again for following.
Friday, June 10, 2011

Pieces of Paris by G.G. Vandagriff

Is it possible to forget who you once were? Annalisse and Dennis seem to be living the American dream until Annalisse's secret past threatens to destroy their family. This skillfully crafted novel from Whitney Award winner G.G. Vandagriff explores the long-term effects of personal tragedy in haunting flashbacks of Annalisse's former life—flashbacks that are interwoven with a passionate romance to reveal a person entirely different from the woman Dennis thought he had married. But as Annalisse struggles with long-buried memories, Dennis's investigation of a toxic waste incident ignites the wrath of a former political ally and an industrial firm that will go to any lengths to cover up a shocking crime. Can Annalisse reconcile her past and present before it's too late? And can Dennis find a way to save his family and the town they've called home? I enjoyed this novel. It was different than anything I've read before and I really, really liked it. The author used flashbacks to Dennis and Annalisse's previous loves and it was effective. I usually don't like flashbacks but G.G. writes so well and the flashbacks were intriguing, I found myself looking forward to finding out what had happened in the past. What I liked: I loved how the author dealt with a very serious subject without depressing me. I also loved that Dennis and Annalisse worked through their issues (and they had huge issues) together. They didn't give up on their marriage and they turned to the Lord for help. It was wonderful. What I didn't like: The end felt a little abrupt. I wonder if the editor cut it because it didn't feel like something the author would do. But it ended well, no worries there. I would definitely recommend this book. Buy Pieces of Paris G.G. Vandagriff's website
Monday, June 6, 2011

Slowing Down

I'm a summer girl. I love having my boys out of school. I love being outside day and night. I also love writing out a list of chores we're going to accomplish each summer. The boys and I are going to deep clean and repaint every room in the house. The lawn will be free of trash and dandelions. My garden will feed the entire neighborhood. I will park my van and we will ride bikes everywhere (think of all the gas money I'll save). Summer reenergizes me. I usually update my New Year's Resolutions and plan to conquer my corner of Cache Valley. But life changed at the Checketts' home last summer. I used to feel I was efficient and organized. I used to have monthly goals and daily to-do lists and if I didn't work towards each goal every day I would get frustrated with myself. Baby number four has flipped our objectives and made us so much happier. I still want to deep clean the house (though maybe not repaint) and have a garden (thank heavens it's at the back of our property so no one will see how weedy it is). After having four children I finally conquered my obsessive-compulsive tendencies. Because I have no choice. My baby needs me. My older boys need me. My husband needs me. My goals had to change. My new goals focus on my family, serving the Lord, and savoring each moment with this chubby baby. If I don't make it to the gym, turn on my computer, or fold the laundry, I try not to obsess over my lack of ambition. Elder Dallin H. Oaks, in a recent general conference, taught, “We have to forego some good things in order to choose others that are better or best because they develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthen our families.” (i) Prioritizing is the hardest thing for me. Of course I'm not going to give up on my goals: my dreams of a garden, finishing my next novel, saving gas money by biking, or actually having a clean house. These are important things to me and I like to be motivated. We should always be trying to improve ourselves and the world around us. But sometimes we can go too far, get so wrapped up in the to-do list and forget about what's most important. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin said he feared that we might "feel the busier we are, the more important we are - as though busyness defines our worth." Slowing down so we can meditate, ponder, and pray more can help us focus. President Gordon B. Hinckley recalled that his father "never ceased growing because he made time for thinking, meditating, and pondering." (ii) Maybe as we write our list of summer dreams we can focus more on improving our spirituality and making it possible for us to slow down and enjoy family, serving others, and the things that matter most. This is especially true if you and your family are on overload (and who isn't most of the time?). Slowing down and focusing on the essentials will make it possible to accomplish the important things - scripture study, prayer, family meals, family activities, serving others, etc. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, "It is said that any virtue when taken to an extreme can become a vice. Overscheduling our days would certainly qualify for this. Therefore, it is good advice to slow down a little, steady the course, and focus on the essentials when experiencing adverse conditions. Strength comes not from frantic activity but from being settled on a firm foundation of truth and light. It comes from placing our attention and efforts on the basics of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. It comes from paying attention to the divine things that matter most. Let us simplify our lives a little. Let us make the changes necessary to refocus our lives on the sublime beauty of the simple, humble path of Christian discipleship—the path that leads always toward a life of meaning, gladness, and peace." (iii) I pray each of you will have a wonderful, productive summer and be able to accomplish the goals you're setting for yourself and attain your dreams while still focusing on what matters most. (i) "Good, Better, Best." Dallin H. Oaks, http://lds.org (ii) "Don't be in a Hurry." by John C. Thomas, Ensign, June 2010 (This is a fabulous article. I re-read it every time I start feeling frantic.) (iii) "Of things that matter most." President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, October, 2010, Church News
Friday, June 3, 2011


We leave in a couple of hours for an Alaskan cruise. I can't wait to enjoy my husband, see the beautiful scenery, and eat the terrific food, if I just didn't have to leave my boys. Hopefully the trip will also be good for the muse. The voices in my head haven't been chatty since I had my baby. Does a vacation help you with your writing or do you just go relax, enjoy, and not worry about anything?
Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Grateful I'm a Reader

I don't enjoy television. I'd much rather read a book, play with my boys, exercise, or be outside. The exception to this is The Biggest Loser. I love that show. We record it and watch it Friday or Saturday night. But last night I had to find out who won before somebody slipped and told me. Big mistake. My boys were wrestling, making up funny names for the contestants, giggling, and generally just driving me crazy. I actually said, "If you can't be quiet and listen to the show then go to your rooms!" Oh, ornery Momma. It hit me then how grateful I am that I usually spend my nights reading chapter books to my boys and I don't really have any must-watch shows (besides Biggest Loser). I like my sleep too much to stay up late watching television and I'm not sure how anyone watches with their children. But maybe the boys were just extra rambunctious last night. Do you have any favorite shows? If so, how do you fit them in?
Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Reading on the level

I love reading aloud to my boys, especially when they're ready for chapter books. My boys have figured out if they want to stay up late they just have to say, "One more chapter, it's so good!" Last night Double Fudge by Judy Blume made it so I didn't fold the laundry, clean up the kitchen, or get enough sleep. We have so much fun with different books, but I have to be careful about reading above their level of understanding. Today my five-year old asked me to read him the Star Wars Trilogy. Um, probably not something he's going to understand or enjoy. Is it wrong to read a book above their level of understanding? Parent's Corner has a great article about choosing "Just Right" books. Basically it's important for the subject matter to be something your child will enjoy and not be too far above or below their level so they stay interested. I usually try to follow these guidelines but after I've read picture books with my five-year old he climbs onto the top bunk and listens to his older brothers' books until he falls asleep. I hope I'm not messing him up somehow, but that's just how it works right now. How do you keep your children interested in reading yet challenge them? What works well for your family as far as a reading aloud schedule?
Monday, May 16, 2011

Keeping Up

I'll sleep when I'm sixty. At least that's what I tell myself as I drag my tired body out of bed at five a.m. each morning. I love my crazy, busy life but there is a small part of me that dreams for those days when I don't have so many responsibilities when I can sleep in and still fit in a workout and get some writing done. Then I talked to my mom the other day (who is sixty). She told me a list of all the things pulling at her - work, children, grandchildren, church callings, friends with cancer and other awful diseases, home, garden, etc. etc. I almost cried, "You mean I'm never going to get to sleep?" It comes back to what we already know - enjoy the journey. Keep a positive attitude through it and maybe some days sleep in just because your poor body needs a break. How do you keep up and still keep a smile on your face?

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