Thursday, May 30, 2013

Bonus Review: Hadiyah Joan Carlyle

I was given the opportunity to review an extra book this month with the memoir Torch In The Dark, by Hadiyah Joan Carlyle. Taking on an extremely personal project like a memoir can be difficult, because this isn't a story someone made up to entertain...this is their life.
In reading Carlyle's story I found myself ricocheting between
a variable buffet of emotions.
Her life was frightening, sad, confusing, tragic, and infuriating throughout the story. I was torn between the conflicting emotions she had about herself, her mother and father, men in general, and her son.
Her imagery as she used the darkness to hide her, scare her, abandon her, and embrace her was particularly poignant for me. I felt the different senses, textures, and emotions of the dark because it is my world as well.
Her honest and brutal portrayal of the 60's and 70's reminded me of the truth of what kind of world we live in.
Carlyle did not filter or soften her portrayal of life lived in poverty, pain, and confusion. Torch In The Dark is a vivid exploration of the strength and power of one woman in her fight to claim a life in a world that doesn't understand or accept her. The parallel between her life experiences and the environment she found as a welder in a man's world portrayed her deeply held belief that she could find the peace she was looking for. She would become one lone torch in the dark.

Hadiyah Joan Carlyle grew up in a Jewish immigrant neighborhood in New Jersey, became active in the Civil Right movement of the sixties and migrated to San Francisco’s colorful Haight-Ashbury to be part of the counter-culture there. In the seventies, she was the first and only female shipyard welder in Bellingham, Washington, north of Seattle.

In the eighties, Hadiyah returned to the East coast to earn her MSW at Rutgers University. In 2003, she completed the certificate program in Memoir Writing through the University of Washington Extension. She is an active member of Seattle’s thriving community of writers.

Today Hadiyah lives in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood close to her son, Washington State 36th district Legislator Reuven Carlyle, his wife Dr. Wendy Carlyle and their four children. Activist, hiker, devoted grandmother, Hadiyah delights in the wild beauty of the Northwest while remaining connected to her gritty urban East Coast roots.

Though welding is no longer a part of her life, she continues to carry the torch for the empowerment of the oppressed.

You can find out more about Hadiyah Joan Carlyle, Torch in the Dark and her World of Ink Author/Book Tour at

Follow Hadiyah Joan Carlyle at
Twitter @CarlyleHadiyah

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Author Review: Jewel Kats

One of the reasons I love to read is the experience of meeting new people. Reading allows me the chance to not only meet fictional characters that I love admire and enjoy getting to know, but it also introduces me to other authors. One of the great gifts an author can use to invite his/her audience into a story is when the author releases his/her own emotions and experiences into the telling of the tale. I have enjoyed many peripheral relationships with author's who have let me as the reader into their world.
In author Jewel Kats collection of comic strips "Ditzabled Princess" this author uses her sense of humor and lack of inhibition to welcome her reader into the sometimes awkward and uncomfortable realities of a disability.
Making jokes about needing her make-up to keep up her reputation with ambulance drivers everywhere, lessened the sting of the life threatening side effects of her disability. Laughing at herself and those around her allowed her readers to see her as a regular person, not a side-show or an anomaly.
I greatly admire Jewels for her courage and talent and bringing her story to the public without filters.
My sighted readers tell me the artwork is fun and interesting too. you can find Jewel and more about her work below.
Once a teen runaway, Jewel Kats is now a self-made Diva. Her closet is stuffed with fashion and beauty accessories. You’ll catch her frolicking about with a hot pink elbow crutch. She’s overcome sexual abuse, disabilities, you name it… On top of that, Jewel’s authored seven books! Think: Loving Healing Press (USA.) Think: Marvelous Spirit Press (USA.) Think: Kube Publishing For six years.
 she penned a syndicated teen advice column for Scripps Howard News Service (USA) and TorStar Syndication service. . She’s won $20,000 in scholarships from Global Television Network and women’s book publisher, Harlequin Enterprises. Jewel also interned in the TV studio of Entertainment Tonight Canada. Her books have been featured in Ability Magazine twice. She recently made a guest appearance on Accessibility in Action.

Jewel appeared in a documentary series by the Oprah Winfrey Network (Canada) in September of 2012.



Katarina has made art her life’s passion. Her beginnings started with a crayon in her hand, and resulted in a Graphic Design diploma from Durham College. Along the way, she’s been honored with various awards, including: “Most Vision” by the Durham College’s design faculty and had her portfolio featured at the Design Exchange )in Toronto. She also interned as a Graphic Designer and Illustrator at Intellectual Design studio in Toronto, Canada after which she went to work as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator. Her past clients include: The Shopping Channel, Botanico Creative Decor and various specialized boutiques. She’s always ready to conquer new creative challenges, and hopes to take the art industry by storm!




*See more at*

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Author Review: L.R.W. Lee

Any author that takes on the challenge of writing a fantasy based story of any kind must first create a mythical or magical world that is fantasic and suspend the reader's belief in reality. Often the biggest stumbling block in creating a world such as this is the suspension of belief. I have read a number of stories that I am 100 pages or more into the story before I start to say: "okay, I can believe this world...might exist...if..."
I read the rest of a novel like this looking for the clues that give away the fantasy and prove the reality is stronger, because I am already questioning the suspension of belief and looking for proof that my instincts are right. inconsistencies between the reality and the fantasy become the strings of evidence I collect as I read. I never questioned the magical realm of Harry Potter, and I never searched for proof that it wasn't real. My son actually kept a list of spells he practiced because that fantasy world was so rich.
In L.R.W. Lee's "Andy Smithson: Blast of the dragon's fury" Her use of magical objects and symbols tied the reader to the fantasy world through the use of quirky wacky characters that were close enough to identifiable magical characters that the reader could believe her version. Her Dragon Slayer video game was a great symbol to ease her reader's into the realm of real dragons. The curse of the fog being chased away with the powerful smell of farting cows was brilliant and hysterical, and the perfect symblo for a young reader to identify with with and believe.
The entire story was laced with these crazy characters that were one step away from a real or realistic fantastic character that the suspension of belief was immediate. The connection between the tower chase on pegasus and the games playes with a snitch and broom from Harry Potter linked young reader's to this game. A fantasy they already believed. The team named "The Giants" who actually were giants.
The uspus box being a magical conduit. and finally the quest for the redd dragon all played a nonsensical but familiar magical role and made us root for Andy and his comrades in this magical world.
Andy Smithson and The Blast of The Dragon's Fury was a great book and a fun read for all ages. I am excited to see what her use of symbols and magical objects can do in her next Andy Smithson novel.

A middle grade (5th & 6th grade) fantasy adventure that entertains while teaching uncommon life changing narratives.

Publisher: Createspace
ISBN: 978-1482312645
ISBN -10: 1482312646
Available in eBook and Print
Publication Date: April 2013

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Finding Jewels

It is often  a challenge to review the work of other authors, especially if they write picture books. In the past I have employed the services of my neighborhood kids, my own children, and sighted readers in general to give me the full picture. This spotlight post was written by an author that has handed me an even greater challenge: To review her Graphic Novel.
It was such a pleasure for me to learn more about what she does and how she does it and I am sharing her work and inspiration today.
Comic Strips vs. Picture Books
By Jewel Kats: Visual Storyteller
That’s who I am.
This sounds so odd to even my own ears. (Yes, I read my work aloud!)
Now, you may be wondering what’s so “odd” about being a “visual storyteller.” Why am I questioning my professional identity? Here’s a quick confession: I barely passed art class. I’ve snatched up top marks in Language Arts throughout my life, but that’s about as close as an “A+” has EVER touched the word “art” in my report card.
Fast-forward: Now, artwork is my lifeline.
It’s funny how life turns out. I’ve grown up to become an award-winning children’s author, and a popular women’s reality-series comic strip writer. I totally rely on artwork to help unravel the stories that sit squashed in my brain.
Writing a picture book and a comic strip may seem totally different. They’re not! In my eyes, they’re much the same. I’m telling a story through words, characters, and of course, ART. In some cases, I’m working with manuscript pages. In other cases, comic strip panels are put into play. However, the end result—at least I hope--is a good story.
Many people ask me how I’ve managed to write so many books in a relatively short time. Reality is: It’s the process of seeing my thoughts come to life through artwork that gives me the momentum to keep galloping ahead. I’ve developed a healthy obsession with illustrations. They give me an instant euphoric high which just makes me want to write more, more, and more. And, so the circle keeps going.  
So, the next time someone asks me what I do for a living…I’ll tell them I’m a visual storyteller, and proceed to tell them what I just told you. Only, this time, I won’t be questioning my own identity.  
To learn more about Jewel Kats and her work go to
Office: 435-625-1743
Follow us on
Like us on

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Every Woman A mother

I was involved with a group discussion today with a group of wonderful women. Mothers grandmothers, the mothers of our future, and the women who have shaped out past. It was enlightening and emotiona as they each spoke of the lessons about life and love they learned from their mothers for generations.
To my mother I want her to know that as alike as we are, it is our differences that make me appreciate her. My mother has a never failing faith. No matter what trials life brings her she clings fiercely to her God, her faith, and her love of her family. She has taught me that true treasures in life can only be found in the hearts of those we love.
To my sisters and sisters-in-law. You are the anchors in my storm. When life throws me into a trial I didn't expect, it is your care of my children, acceptance of my weaknesses and love for my wild ways that keeps me grounded.
To all of my girlfriends, related to me or not: You have showed me the importance of being a good mother and caring for my children first and foremost. Thank you for your devotion to the greatest gifts God has given us.

The lessons I learned today about strength and courage boil down to the same thing...
Life is a classroom. Every woman that inspired and taught those diverse women in our discussion, were all learning from each other. Sometimes we inspire through our successes and sometimes through our failures.We are teaching each other: what to do, what to avoid, and how to love.
Happy Mother's Day to each and every one of You, and Thank you for showing me the way.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

I don't know about you...but I want to slay the dragon

It doesn't matter what sort of life you lead: whitecollar, blue collar, shirtless or shoeless. We all have dragons that need slaying in order to live fulfilling lives. The symbol and image of the dragon speaks to many readers from all genre's for this reason and always makes for a great story.
This month one of the books I will be reviewing is Blast of The Dragon's Fury by L.R.W. Lee.
Read on and learn more about this adventure.

Ten-year-old Andy Smithson lands with a thud on a cold, hard floor.  He hears the sounds of breaking glass, things falling and something fizzing. It’s pitch dark. Strange smells erupt around him.  So begin Andy’s adventures in the Land of Oomaldee. 

Unbeknownst to Andy, he has been brought to the Land to break a 500 year old curse.  Amidst adventures battling fire-breathing dragons, fighting vicious vulture attacks, escaping people-eating giants and more, Andy nearly destroys the castle.

Andy’s quest is the Dragon’s Lair to find an ingredient critical to breaking the curse - the scale from an elusive red dragon, the fiercest of all dragon species.  If you love fast paced adventures with unexpected twists, there’s plenty of action and suspense found throughout the Land of Oomaldee.
Since the age of eight, L. R. W. Lee knew she wanted to write a book. Fortunately or unfortunately, she required of herself that she have something significant to say; she sought to contribute to others in a way that could change their lives. Because a degree in Accounting at Cedarville University, as well as work in public and corporate accounting, did not provide riveting fodder for a best seller, she waited. Upon selling her business in early 2012, she had time to write and, more importantly, something significant to share.

L. R. W. Lee’s favorite musical is The Sound of Music. She hates scary movies, but loves piano and strings music, sunsets in Hawaii and a good cup of decaf, French press coffee (yes, decaf!). She also loves Ansel Adams prints and all manner of kinetic art. 

watch for Lee's review on my blog May 22 and go find her books on
ISBN: 978-1482312645
ISBN -10: 1482312646
Available in eBook and Print
Publication Date: April 2013
Genre: Middle Grade Adventure
You can find out more about L.R.W. Lee, her middle grade fantasy adventure series and her World of Ink Author/Book Tour at

Twitter: @LRWLee
To learn more about the World of Ink Tours visit