How Small Publications Can Play A Big Role In Your Publicity Efforts …
Another amazing author who visits Cat and his Rave Review! I love the ladies of Rave Reviews and they do exceptional book reviews like this of Author, Mark Bierman, and his release … ‘VANISHED.’ Cat
This is a Guest Blog Post about my novel, Vanished, that was kindly hosted by author Karen Ingalls.
I am grateful to Karen for this opportunity! Please click on the following link to view and purchase Karen’s novels: Amazon.com
Here is the Guest Post:
Author, Mark Bierman
I am pleased to have Rave Reviews Book Club Member, Mark Bierman, as my guest this week. Drawing on his work as a private investigator and a correctional officer, Mark combines unique experiences and imagination to create stories and characters.
His novel, Vanished, is a remarkable story about Human Trafficking.
When a shared tragedy strikes the lives of John Webster an his son-in-law, Tyler Montgomery, they seek healing by embarking on a good will mission to earthquake-ravaged Haiti.
The mission quickly changes from benign to perilous after a young girl is kidnapped by human traffickers, and the…
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“Donald Trump has brought us to the brink of nuclear war, obstructed justice, and taken money from foreign governments. We need to impeach this dangerous president. ~By Tom Steyer and The Folks of Need o Impeach
Donald Trump has obstructed justice over the investigation into Russia’s interference in our 2016 election. He has brought us to the brink of nuclear war through his reckless tweets. He has taken — and continues to take — money from foreign governments for his own personal enrichment.
He is, without a doubt, a clear and present danger to our nation. In December 2017, a panel of constitutional lawyers convened and agreed that there is more than enough evidence to begin the impeachment process. They argued that Congress has an obligation to act now.
Enough is enough. It’s past time for lawmakers to put country first. Our president is unhinged and must be removed from office. But too many members of Congress are afraid to take this necessary measure. They need to hear our voices and see the strength of our movement if we want them to do what’s right.
Will you join me and millions of your fellow Americans and add your name demanding impeachment? Add your name here by visiting this page: Sign The Petition for Need To Impeach Trump.
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! Just a few of the reasons WHY he needs to be impeached!! (Courtesy of Founder, Tom Steyer and “Need to Impeach” )
(SAN FRANCISCO, July 16, 2018)—Need to Impeach Founder Tom Steyer released the following statement following the meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin and subsequent press conference in Helsinki today: More
ALL 8 offenses are listed here: Impeachable Offenses!
Visit “Need to Impeach” and sign the petition today so your voice can be heard as an American. America was always Great …Until Trump!
~CAT Proud Democrat!
I am so thrilled and honored to once again have my dear friend and a fantastic musician and recording artist, John Tracy back with us. Now, your most likely wondering why Cat is spotlighting a musician since most of my spotlights are with authors and about books. Well, musicians are writers too!
Writing music I am sure can have a whole different set of challenges and be very rewarding when a new CD is finished like John’s new one titled “Quintessential.” So this time I am including a little interview with John on just how this new CD came about. Besides, Cat loves listening to music and I enjoy John’s sound of a little it soft rock with a dash of country twang … He makes a difference in the lives of the people who listen to and love his music on our “Journey of Life!” ~Catherine Lyon
Where were you born and raised?
What inspired your writing and the new release of Quintessential?
This album is mostly an accumulation of the most recent songs I’ve written. It’s always exciting to get the new stuff out into the world. According to Webster’s Dictionary, the definition of “Quintessential” is “of the pure and essential essence of something” and “of or relating to the most perfect embodiment of something.” When we started out working on this album, I don’t think we had an overall theme in mind. Like I said, these were just the newest songs written and I think they are my best to date.
However, once we got started, I think the overall theme of the songs we put together is the quest to find that pure and essential essence. Perhaps that’s in the love and peace in “Home,” or in the comfort of listening to the “Midnight Moon.” Maybe it is in finding the joy in “Blue Sunny Skies,” or the longing for that healthy relationship in “The Shallow Game.”
Do you have training in music or attended music school?
I don’t have formal music training. I had a couple of guitar teachers early on that showed me the basics. As far as my fingerpicking style of playing guitar, I developed that on my own, playing by ear. I had a reel-to-reel (ok, I’m dating myself here) and I would record favorite songs onto tape and then play them back bar by bar, teaching myself to play every note.
What music and other musicians do listen to and inspire you?
Early on, I was inspired by all of my musical heroes from the 70s – singer/songwriters like Simon & Garfunkel, Dan Fogelberg, Jackson Browne, James Taylor, Jim Croce, etc. That was an era to me when music really said something, lyrics were meaningful, and melodies were intricate and interesting.
To be completely honest, I find it hard to be inspired by many mainstream artists in this current musical era. The music is either too electronic or to manufactured (meaning it all sounds the same) and it just doesn’t move me. There are artists that are fun to listen to of course, but I don’t find a lot of inspiration for my own songwriting.
The cool thing about working with Kevin is that he honors who I am as a singer and a songwriter, allowing me to be myself while adding in elements that are modern and current without destroying the integrity of the songs.
How long did this CD take and why?
It took almost a year from first recordings to the final product. We do things a bit differently perhaps than most. We record a scratch or demo of the song (just vocals and acoustic guitar) and send that to our producer, Kevin McNoldy at Cphonic Mastering.
He then lays down the framework for the song – a bass line, drums, maybe some piano or electric guitar. From there, we go back and re-record the vocal and acoustic guitar tracks. Once we’re finished with our parts, it’s back to Kevin for more instrumentation and background vocals. We kind of go back and forth like this, bouncing around ideas, adding or taking away parts until we’ve carved out the perfect song. This is why it takes a little while.
However, we don’t get in a rush. We work the song until all three of us (my wife Teri, who is the co-producer, Kevin and myself) are happy. I have that luxury because I am an independent artist not beholden to a label. It allows me to make good quality music, not music that has to be forced into a formula or rushed through.
Your unique offer to do House Concerts is very different, how did this idea come about?
I’ll be really honest – these are the most fun and rewarding events for me. They are intimate, personal and the audience is really there to listen to what I bring. Unlike a bar or restaurant where there are tons of distractions and so much competing for the audience’s attention. Or like large venues where the audience is removed and separate that it’s harder to feel a connection with them.
My music is a bit more sophisticated than what is typically on the radio. So, it’s best appreciated when you can actually listen to and take in the lyrics and feel the melody move your soul. A house concert is the ideal setting for that. And the audience finds it ultimately more rewarding as well. Not only do they get to know the music, but they get to hear the stories behind the songs and get a glimpse into who I am not only as an artist but as a person.
If anyone out there is interested in learning more, just stop by my website
Where in any state is your favorite place or venue to play and why?
That’s a tough one! I’ve had the opportunity to play all across the US and in Europe. Honestly, anywhere that I have an attentive audience is a favorite for me.
I will share this story talking about house concerts. About three years ago, I met a radio host from Sweden on Twitter. We hit it off in our conversations online. In 2016, I had the opportunity to travel to Europe, so I talked to him about hosting a house concert. It was something he had never heard about before but was intrigued by the idea. So, he set it up, inviting friends and family from all over Sweden. Some came from as far away as Norway. Everyone commented about how much fun it was to get together, have time to visit and then be able to enjoy live music together. They had so much fun, they keep asking when I’m coming back.
“I consider my style to be a blend of Acoustic Singer/Songwriter, Contemporary Country, and Adult Contemporary. Take a listen to “Mightnight Moon” one of Cat’s Favorites!”
Tell us a little more about John Tracy, like, are you married? Have Kids? Pets? Hobbies?
I am married to my soulmate and my best friend Teri. Celebrating and coming up on 35 years together later this year. We have two grown girls, both out of college and on their own journey. We have a family pet – a Dachshund named Princess who has been in our family for 17 years now.
Aside from music, my biggest passions are food and movies. Favorite food is anything that doesn’t eat me first. We’re huge sci-fi fans in our family – Teri and I, our first date was watching “Return of the Jedi” and we indoctrinated our girls early in the way of the Force. Lol.
Lastly, what is one funny “Secret or Fedish” about your fans and new ones won’t read or find out about?
Well, funny and probably depends on who you are asking. I am a bit OCD and can drive my family crazy. I’m not sure if you remember the TV show “Monk” about a private investigator who was intensely OCD, making him a great detective. I’m not quite that bad, though my kids bought me the DVD set of the show for Christmas one year as an inside joke.
Well, John, you are in good company as I too have OCD and a few other challenges in that department! Lol. I thank you kindly for allowing me to share you and your new CD! I hope readers you have enjoyed this interview and learning all about John Tracy Music. I urge you to take a visit to his amazing official website here at John Tracy Music to take a listen to a few more of his song and you can SHOP and purchase unique CD packages there too!
AND? John is a writer and author as well! Another wee-bit-of info you all didn’t know. Check out his book titled; Of Life, Love, and Famly – John Tracy Wilson.
Now that you know John, please connect with him on Social Media below and tell him “CAT” sent you.
Since I know summer is the best time for reading good books, it seems our former President, Barack Obama is an avid reader too! Now, I have known this since way back when and while actually running for office. But recently I saw on his Facebook page his shares of summer reading he will be doing while traveling to Africa. I thought, “why not share what Barack will be reading this summer with all of you.”
Barack, while in office, was always a “surprise” visitor of bookstores no matter where he happened to be, or where he happened to be traveling as our President. He was never shy about saying “hello” to all the patrons and workers that happen to be inside the stores either! I feel that is some of what makes him such a special person. And there are many documented visits through the eight years he held office, just look them up on Google!
So here, courtesy of what he posted on his Official Facebook Page today is all about traveling to Africa and what he will be reading while on vacation. ~Catherine Lyon
“Over the years since, I’ve often drawn inspiration from Africa’s extraordinary literary tradition. As I prepare for this trip, I wanted to share a list of books that I’d recommend for summer reading, including some from a number of Africa’s best writers and thinkers – each of whom illuminate our world in powerful and unique ways.”
~Former -President Barack Obama
“This week, I’m traveling to Africa for the first time since I left office – a continent of wonderful diversity, thriving culture, and remarkable stories.”
I was proud to visit sub-Saharan Africa more times than any other sitting President, and I’ll return this week to visit Kenya and South Africa. In South Africa, the Obama Foundation will convene 200 extraordinary young leaders from across the continent and I’ll deliver a speech to mark the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birth. Kenya, of course, is the Obama ancestral home. I visited for the first time when I was in my twenties and I was profoundly influenced by my experiences – a journey I wrote about in my first book, Dreams from My Father.
Over the years since, I’ve often drawn inspiration from Africa’s extraordinary literary tradition. As I prepare for this trip, I wanted to share a list of books that I’d recommend for summer reading, including some from a number of Africa’s best writers and thinkers – each of whom illuminate our world in powerful and unique ways …
Barack Obama’s Summer Reading List:
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
A true classic of world literature, this novel paints a picture of traditional society wrestling with the arrival of foreign influence, from Christian missionaries to British colonialism. A masterpiece that has inspired generations of writers in Nigeria, across Africa, and around the world.
A Grain of Wheat by Ngugi Wa Thiong’o
A chronicle of the events leading up to Kenya’s independence, and a compelling story of how the transformative events of history weigh on individual lives and relationships.
Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
Mandela’s life was one of the epic stories of the 20th century. This definitive memoir traces the arc of his life from a small village to his years as a revolutionary, to his long imprisonment, and ultimately his ascension to unifying President, leader, and global icon. Essential reading for anyone who wants to understand history – and then go out and change it.
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
From one of the world’s great contemporary writers comes the story of two Nigerians making their way in the U.S. and the UK, raising universal questions of race and belonging, the overseas experience for the African diaspora, and the search for identity and a home.
The Return by Hisham Matar
A beautifully written memoir that skillfully balances a graceful guide through Libya’s recent history with the author’s dogged quest to find his father who disappeared in Gaddafi’s prisons.
The World As It Is by Ben Rhodes
It’s true, Ben does not have African blood running through his veins. But few others so closely see the world through my eyes like he can. Ben is one of the few who’ve been with me since that first presidential campaign. His memoir is one of the smartest reflections I’ve seen as to how we approached foreign policy, and one of the most compelling stories I’ve seen about what it’s actually like to serve the American people for eight years in the White House.
And This Includes READING … Happy Summertime Reading Friends!
~Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon
I went to a fast food restaurant for dinner the other night. The guy ahead of me had just come home from Afghanistan. He was buying dinner for his son and himself. The total came to over $20.00. He didn’t have enough. They said they would give him a 10% military discount. Still not enough. He started deducting his order until he could afford it.
Then I saw a man who had heard this haggling hand him $100 bill and say, “Thanks for your service.”
The soldier teared up and said, “You don’t know how much this means to me.”
The man smiled and said, “You don’t know how much what you do means to me.”
I posted this story on Facebook and it has gotten nearly 100 likes and 10 shares. It shows that people really want to care about those who wage war in defense of our nation’s freedom. I’ll confess, I was moved to tears watching this happening. There is still hope for human compassion in the face of so much hate.
The soldier could have been a Trump-supporter, the donor a devout Democrat. It didn’t matter at this moment. At this moment, it was one man giving back to another who had given so much to him, so much for all of us.
So what do we do with the hope this engenders?
First, go and do likewise.
There are over two million soldiers in the US. The average income for a front-line private is less than $2,000 a month. Personal gifts (monetary or material) to military men and women you know or can meet is a great place to start. Rather than post a scathing remark against high government wages or benefits of non-US citizens, put your money where your mouth is. Cultivate a culture of caring for those who give so much to us.
Second, watch out for wounded warriors.
Mental health experts both in the military and in the civilian society desperately scramble to learn more about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and how to treat it. No solutions are at hand. We may think if the experts don’t even know what to do, how am I going to help? Well, it doesn’t take an expert to reach out and be a faithful friend. And that goes a long way toward healing.
Third, stop celebrating war.
Former 5-star General and President Dwight D. Eisenhower knew the cost of war, both on the soldiers who fight, the families left behind, and the society as a whole. He spoke passionately against the military-industrial establishment with these words:
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.” ― Dwight D. Eisenhower
Eisenhower knew better than perhaps anyone how to build a strong military. And he warned gravely that stockpiling weapons of mass destruction was no way to win a battle against enemy aggression. Building a strong military meant investing in the lives of our soldiers and our society as a whole.
“Never in my wildest dreams would I have seen this opportunity coming in my life.”
WHY? Because, many years ago if anyone would have told me I would have gotten entangled in a gambling addiction, begin recovery and maintain recovery 11-yrs let alone become a published author twice, and begin a writing and book marketing career? I would have laughed at them and say; “not in my lifetime!” But here I am! I attribute these wonderful abilities and blessings for both maintaining recovery and writing as beautiful “Gifts from GOD.”
It truly is the only way I can really describe where these opportunities came from. When we let Christ take over in our lives, you never know what blessings or surprises are right around the corner. Nor do we know where his path, his lovingly laid out path for us will go. However, I am sure enjoying the literary ride with my co-writer!
Wishing you all a very happy and blessed 4th week! ~Author and Advocate, Catherine Townsend-Lyon
A Note From Vance Johnson:
It’s taken me 55 years to find myself. Since I was a child, I wondered why, why am I on this earth. When I started chasing fame, fortune, accolades, and acceptance, I figured it out, or at least I thought I had. My goals, success, fame, and being at the TOP of whatever I pursued was my mission. I reached those goals …I stood on the sidelines at Super Bowl listening to the National Anthem, remembering when I was 9-yrs old, telling myself and everyone else “when I grow up, I’m going to play in the Super Bowl” I then heard voices in my head, “Vance, you’re too short, too small, and a wuss. You have a better chance of making it to the moon. “WATCH ME! I said.
So, I’m writing my story, Co-Authored by, Catherine Townsend-Lyon who has guided me to be open, tell all, and learning transparency as we write. It has been an eye-opening experience, to say the least. Also, this coming season NFL films is doing a special “NFL Presents” about my journey, my sobriety, and my ‘Passion.’
Another new blessing has come, as I am excited to have been contacted by another nationally known group, a Los Angeles-based production company that creates premium documentary content. The company is run by a multiple ‘Emmy Award Winning Executive Producer and partner’ Some of their clients and partners include Netflix, CNN, A&E, National Geographic, History, Discovery, AMC, Turner, Oxygen, and Travel Channel. I won’t disclose who they are just yet, not until after they let me know their thoughts on what type of project they would like to do, hopefully with me. We will keep you posted!
Once upon a time, a young man made his dreams and God-given seeds of athletics come to fruition through faith. There he was, a young man standing, looking in awe at the crowds in the stadium and getting ready to play his first Super Bowl in 1986 as a Denver Bronco. The game, Denver vs New York Giants.
“I felt like a little boy standing there with my oversized Super Bowl Jersey on as a Denver Bronco. It was hanging off of me. At that moment I was seeing the super bowl crowds through the eyes as that little boy way back when with the drive and big dreams to make it to the NFL.”
“This is a Memoir and The Legacy of a former NFL pro–#82 wide receiver of the Denver Broncos. A man “Wide Open and Standing Redeemed” ~Vance Edward Johnson.
Note From Catherine: We have made the one year mark in our writing journey thus far. Challenging? Yes, but the journey of two writers can never be rushed. With a few roadblocks here and there, some nervous transparency decisions, and openness, and a whole lot of phone calls and transcribing, we are getting closer to “The End.”
Vance, born in March 1963 has had an interesting unique life. Not just about his college and NFL football careers, nor him making it as an alternate on the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics track and field team. God put him through some trials and tribulations to test his faith, his real abilities …Called Real Life.
Here are some highlights from the book in progress thus far. We both welcome your comments and ideas.
Excerpt One – Partial Intro Page
“There I was, a 50-year-old man chained to a hospital bed. Now a washed up broke former NFL football pro. My life spiraled out of my control. As I came out of my coma after 26 days, seeing dark shadows walking in and around my room. Looking at me while chained to my bed. I knew then it was my time. Those shadows were going to take me. Then, God came into my room, showed me his amazing power at that moment when I woke up. He showed me it wasn’t my time. I heard him whisper, “Son, I have much bigger plans and a purpose for you in your life!”
In 2012 I was hurting. Hurting emotionally and physically. My mom took me to the hospital in Colorado where I was living at the time. Since my son Vaughn’s passing, I’d gone off the rails, just killing myself with alcohol and pills. I wasn’t well. When I arrived in the ER they began some tests, and my blood work was all over the place. Before I knew what was happening the doctors put me in an induced coma in hopes to save my life.
I remained in an induced coma for 26 days. My pastor came and prayed over me as my daughter, sister, and family began to say their goodbyes. No one thought I would make it. Neither did I. I was broken, exhausted physically, mentally, and was spiritually lost and bankrupt. Another of the lowest points in my life other than my son’s passing and my suicide attempt years before.
Now looking back, as I share my life with all of you, I wondered if this was how it was all going to end. All the trials and tribulations I had been through, the loss of my son, broken relationships, many shattered marriages, hurting my family with my addictions and selfishness. Many children with a variety of women and denied some of them out of more selfishness.
As I lay in that hospital bed, still having hallucinations and visions of dark shadows and figures walking in and out of my room. Is this Satans enemy circling my bed as if to take me with him when I passed from this world? They came every day, the fear, becoming so unbearable, but they never took me with them. As a matter of fact, here is when my healing and recovery was about to begin.
Take a walk with me, and I will share with you how a man so broken can be “Redeemed, Uncovered, and once again Standing In Grace!”
My College Track & Field card and some 1984 Olympic pics where I was alternate for the USA Team, in the Long Jump.
Excerpt Two ~ High School Memories
When I began High School from 1978-81 I was a pretty shy guy at the time. My struggles with math and science seemed to follow me from middle school and became even harder. I didn’t have many friends, except for my best friend Frank who was Mexican. He said when we got to high school that we weren’t allowed to be friends any longer because Mexican’s and Blacks didn’t get along at the high school we were going to attend in Tucson, Arizona.
I was sad about this, and it hit me deeply. At that time there was still so much racism happening, and I began to notice it more when I did get to high school and like Frank told me. We never hung out much after that though. I started to hang out with the athletes, began to focus on sports more and more. I ran track and loved long jumping. I played football and a little bit of basketball. I spent most of my time in the weight room doing leg exercises because I didn’t have the upper body strength like most of the other athletes.
Being shy also meant I didn’t date initially, I did have one girlfriend, but she broke my heart early in our relationship. She had gotten pregnant by an opposing athlete who was a competitor on track and field. I focused mainly on sports; I still struggled in school a little bit with science and math, although I thought it was fun to play around and experiment in science class!
I was pretty good with shop class; I believe it was because I had been “noticed.” Was this my first taste of being a little famous? Art was my favorite thing to do, my art teacher was my favorite person in the world and spent a lot of time with her. Had never knew she was dying of cancer the whole time she was teaching our class. When I learned about it it really broke my heart.
During my first year of football, I was scared, because I wasn’t a large or tremendous sized kid. I was also not very masculine as these days it’s what you call metrosexual. I had long hair, I didn’t date, and had only had one serious girlfriend Anna. I would not go out and party, ever. I didn’t drink, didn’t smoke cigarettes or weed; didn’t even hang out with “the crowd” or even my teammates after games. I ended up getting injured after my first year of high school football and thought I would not play again to be honest.
I thought I might be too fragile or not cut out for it. Later on, I guess that’s why I always made touchdowns because I didn’t like anyone to touch me or tackle me hard. In my second year, I was moved to varsity in track and field, being the fastest in the school, and in varsity football. I did try varsity basketball but I stunk at it, in fact, I sucked. All the while domestic issues at home were still very prevalent.
My father continuously put his hands on mother. Subtle, but I remember the cries and muffled arguments late at night. Sometimes I would hope that my dad wouldn’t make it home. Maybe if he stayed out philandering and drinking all night, he would feel more guilty than pissed off. Amazing how as a child for some reason I always blamed it all on me. That just made me more determined to excel. Thinking it would make my dad less mean or not hurt my mother like he did.
So, I threw myself even more heavily into sports. I won most of all the awards, but because I was so shy? I had my sister go up and get them for me and give the acceptance speech for me too! I would always wait outside because of being too timid, shy and had a little stutter. I couldn’t speak in public because I was very nervous in front of crowds. HA, HA look at what I do now speaking all over the country and in front of hundreds all the time! …
“I realized something today after listening to my Pastor. He spoke of a conversation he had with Elvis Presley’s brother, and how his brother really died. It wasn’t Drugs, it was Fame.
It wasn’t alcohol or drugs that nearly killed me, Fame and the enemy did! Alcohol & drugs was merely a way to cope with the diminishment of my fame. It was a way to tranquilize myself because I had no identity outside of my “ego” and that fame. The cheers, accolades, commercials, 3 Amigos, a Bronco. When it all stopped, so did I.
We look at all these famous people like “Idols and Icons, wanting to be like them. Not knowing they go home and drink, do drugs just to sleep, drugs to wake up, drink and drugs to perform. Because like me, they were made into someone they were not created God to be, ICONS, self-absorbed, believing all of the hype they read about themselves.
I could go on and on about how blind I was, even the world in its pursuit to chase fame, fortune, and evil pleasures. Let me close with this.
Whatever you do, even chasing Fame, Fortune, and Popularity, do it for his good pleasure and Gods glory. Seek first the kingdom, and all these things will be added!
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.