Writing Complicated Creatures – Insight from Author Alexi LAWLESS

Getting Real with Alexi LAWLESS

Complicated Creatures_ebooksmI’ve been asked several times who my favorite character is in Complicated Creatures. Is this where writers are supposed to say, “I love all my babies equally?” Because that’s how I feel to some extent. If I wrote the character, I thought about her or him and deemed that the character was worth the word count to create for the express purpose of interaction and to move the story forward. Ergo, each character in the book has tremendous value.

I’ve been asked, “Are you Sam?”

Oh, Hell, No.

Is the Vampire Lestat Anne Rice just because she imagined him?

I do think all characters are somewhat autobiographical since they’re born from the dark imaginings of a writer’s mind, but the closest I’d say Sam is to me is that she’s got some snarky one-liners that would absolutely come out of my mouth.

Now, do I base certain aspects of characters off of people I know? Oh, yes. Carey, Mitch, and Willa in particular are modeled off of real folks to some extent, though this is a work of fiction, and names/physical descriptions vary radically in order to protect the “innocent.”

Similar to the “who is your favorite character” question, I don’t think about my characters in a love ‘em or hate ‘em way. The key here is they must be interesting and bring something to the story. Otherwise, why bother? I’m not interested in wasting words anymore than you are interested in reading a story about mediocre characters with “meh” dialogue and unclear motives & intentions.

Now, are there some characters that are harder to write? Absolutely. I really struggled with the third major character in the book, because I couldn’t visualize him clearly in my head. When I wrote his character sheet, I had a lot of conflicting personality traits and his motives were unclear even to me. So what did I do? I stopped writing. When in doubt, consume a libation and take a break. That’s a trusted go-to.

I didn’t want to read someone else’s work while I was having trouble writing my own, so I ended up surfing around for the “best-written TV shows” according to the Writer’s Guild of America, and stumbled upon Friday Night Lights. I hadn’t loved the movie when it came out years ago, so I’d discounted the series. I decided to give it a try. After all, I already had a cold beer in my hand and football season hadn’t started yet. I was in Asia and feeling a little homesick for some good old-fashioned Americana, and I ask you, “What’s more American than high school football”? I watched episode one of the first season, saw Timothy Riggins’ character calling out, “Texas forever,” and BAM! There’s the third character I couldn’t figure out an hour earlier.

Moral of the story?

  • I don’t mess around with writing characters I don’t like. They each serve a purpose and they have to be interesting to earn space on the page and your time and attention as the reader.
  • When in doubt, drink. (Okay, I didn’t say get schlitzed–but you can use “drink” as a euphemism for “take a break” if it’s not your particular vice).
  • Character inspiration comes from some unexpected places once you let go long enough to let it happen.

If you want to know more about my approach to writing, feel free to check out the LAWLESS Rules for Writing Like a BOSS.

about Alexi

Alexi LAWLESS.

Corporate Runaway. Novelist. Wanderer. Bourbon Drinker.

Alexi LAWLESS has been a closeted writer for thirty-odd years—from way back when she was banging out stories on a Commodore 64 to her years writing the corporate strategies for some of the largest companies in the world. But it was two years ago, laid up after foot surgery, that she started to seriously consider whether it was time to come out as the novelist she’d always wanted to be.

Armed with a laptop and an around-the-world ticket, she quit the corporate scene and set out to see if her passion for writing was more than a pipe-dream. Less than a year later, Alexi’s debuting her first published novel, Complicated Creatures: Part One, with the second book due out this summer. And while you may catch her sipping a drink in Miami Beach, you’re more likely to find her indulging her nomadic tendencies somewhere in Latin America or Southeast Asia.

Interested in knowing more about Alexi? You can stalk her here at: AlexiLAWLESS.com.

Be sure to follow Alexi:

o       Twitter
o       Facebook
o       Google+
o       Amazon
o       GoodReads

Of course, if you LOVE the book, your review on Amazon and/or GoodReads it would mean a lot to Alexi, too!

Complicated Creatures by Alexi LAWLESS Blog Tour

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

I am so thrilled to be hosting the launch of the Complicated Creatures Blog Tour!

Complicated Creatures by Alexi LAWLESS is ON SALE for 99 cents through AUGUST 31, 2014. Grab it now!!

Complicated Creatures_ebooksmA message from Alexi LAWLESS:

LAWLESS Ones,

Welcome to the Alexi Lawless Complicated Creatures Part One Blog Tour! Thanks for stopping by.

Fun facts about Complicated Creatures:

  • Sam’s name was originally “Ray” for Rachelle and she was the amateur boxer, not Jack.
  • The first scene I wrote was the last scene of Chapter 2: Jack meeting Sam after watching her doing midnight laps in the pool.
  • The Whitney (the building Jack owns) is inspired by The Blackstone in Chicago, a gorgeous hotel I highly recommend.
  • I have to listen to music to write. It’s nearly impossible for me to get into “the zone” without it. If you’re interested, you can access my playlists.
  • Sadly, the brilliant A/P photojournalist Anja Niedringhaus, was killed in Afghanistan while I was finishing the book. I’d been a long-admirer of her work. She heavily influenced the career choice and shoot locations of the third main character of this book. R.I.P. to a phenomenal talent in modern journalism.
  • If Sam and Jack had a song, it’d be Mikky Ekko’s “Pull Me Down

_____________________________________________________________

Complicated Creatures Part One will be on sale for 99 cents on Amazon until 7pm June 27. It will be on sale for $1.99 June 27 at 7pm – June 30 at midnight.

Complicated Creatures Part Two is due out in August. Sign up to be part of the LAWLESS Ones here to receive Complicated Creatures 1.5 a FREE novella.

Be sure to visit the other stops on the tour:

COMPLICATED CREATURES PART ONE Tour Schedule

06/25/2014 MomsGetReal Launch celebration
06/26/2014 Literary Nymphs Hotlist Spotlight
06/27/2014 Write on Purpose Interview
06/28/2014 DadsGetReal Guest post
06/29/2014 MomsGetReal Guest post
06/30/2014 MamaKitty Reviews Spotlight
06/30/2014 Life With Two Boys Spotlight
07/01/2014 You Gotta Read Reviews Interview
07/02/2014 Sizzling Hot Books Spotlight
07/07/2014 My Crafty Life Guest post
07/10/2014 KrissysBookshelf Review
07/13/2014 Meghan’s Mindless Mutterings Review
07/14/2014 Ellie Reads Fiction Spotlight
07/19/2014 twoclassychics Spotlight
07/21/2014 Word Wenches Guilty Pleasure Spotlight
07/22/2014 Booklover Sue Spotlight
07/24/2014 Erotica For All Guest post
07/29/2014 Cowgirls Wear Tiaras Too Review
07/31/2014 Rowan’s mom’s blog Guest post

BADGE 2

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Read an excerpt:

Sam considered why she was so taken with him, examining the puzzle pieces of what she knew about him in the short time they’d spent together. Jack didn’t downplay himself or over amp. He was smart without the pretentiousness; affable and humorous with the right amount of self-deprecation. He was aware of his attractiveness without being shameless about it. But what she liked most, what she was most surprised by, was how thoroughly he lived life without simply languishing on his good fortune and family name. Rather, he enhanced that fortune, working around the conventions that came with his family ties with a slight rebelliousness that was so subtle; one might never see past the high polish he was so good at presenting. In the quiet moments she’d spent getting to know him, she liked that Jack was so unexpectedly grounded despite all the trappings. She could see why women flocked to him, even beyond the physical gratification and the spoils. She couldn’t blame Rebecca for her lapse of composure at losing him. Jack Roman was the real deal, the total package. Any woman would be lucky to have him. And she did have him. For now… Read more.

___________________________________________________

Complicated Creatures Part One is the debut of a five-part series:

  • Part One, which is available now.
  • Novella 1.5, which will hopefully be ready sometime in July to people who sign up on my website.
  • Part Two, which will be available at the end of the summer.
  • Novella 2.5, which will come out in the fall.
  • The Prequel to Complicated Creatures which will be a full-length YA story about Sam when she goes to college, available around Christmas/New Year’s. And finally…
  • Part Three, the conclusion to the Complicated Creatures series, available this time next year.

LAWLESS Links

Complicated Creatures on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1udzJfF
Amazon profile: http://www.amazon.com/Alexi-Lawless/e/B00JXYT5FA/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1
Website: http://alexilawless.com
Twitter
Facebook
Google+
GoodReads
Join the LAWLESS Ones.

Of course, if you LOVE the book, your review on Amazon and/or GoodReads it would mean a lot to Alexi, too!

about Alexi

Alexi LAWLESS.
Corporate Runaway. Novelist. Wanderer. Bourbon Drinker.

LawlessAlexi LAWLESS has been a closeted writer for thirty-odd years—from way back when she was banging out stories on a Commodore 64 to her years writing the corporate strategies for some of the largest companies in the world. But it was two years ago, laid up after foot surgery, that she started to seriously consider whether it was time to come out as the novelist she’d always wanted to be.

Armed with a laptop and an around-the-world ticket, she quit the corporate scene and set out to see if her passion for writing was more than a pipe-dream. Less than a year later, Alexi’s debuting her first published novel, Complicated Creatures: Part One, with the second book due out this summer. And while you may catch her sipping a drink in Miami Beach, you’re more likely to find her indulging her nomadic tendencies somewhere in Latin America or Southeast Asia.

Interested in following Alexi? You can stalk her here at: AlexiLAWLESS.com.

Exclusive Interview with Alexi Lawless, Author of Complicated Creatures

Full disclosure: Alexi Lawless hired my business, DaSh factor, for marketing & consultation. It was just a deliciously wonderful surprise that I’ve ended up loving her book (a curl up and read romantic-erotic-adventure) enough to recommend it here on MomsGetReal.

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

I sat down (long-distance, via Skype and email) with Alexi, my new FAVORITE author, for an interview to get to know the writer behind the well-paced, uber-exciting, now-available-on-Kindle Complicated Creatures.

[Tweet “Read my interview with Alexi LAWLESS, author of Complicated Creatures.”]

We skipped the boring questions and got straight to the meat.

MomsGetReal: What do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors?

Complicated Creatures_ebooksmAlexi: I’m a die-hard Anne Rice fan. She had me at “Lestat”. I think my mother was incredibly worried that my dream man was an 18th century vampire with a penchant for leather pants, hot blood and the debauched streets of the French Quarter. When I read “Exit to Eden” at fourteen, I was pretty certain being a Domme was my intended job description, and may actually explain a great deal of my career path in strategy and management consulting (those hard-ass executives seem to jones the most for chronic abuse after all).

I’m a big fan of some up-and-comers too. Tarryn Fisher writes an evil plot twist that makes me want to hurl my Kindle across the room and purr with pleasure at the same time. CD Reiss may write some of the hottest sex scenes I ever read (and that’s saying something given my proclivities for the dark arts) with some fantastic character development and CJ Roberts is both spell-binding and disturbing in an entirely Rice-esque way. (I think she may have actually been torn from Anne’s rib). Alice Severin writes a rocker like no other– she makes Mick Jagger look staid compared to her vision of Tristan and I thoroughly enjoy that woman’s turn of phrase.

Your profile says: “Corporate Runaway. Novelist. Wanderer. Bourbon Drinker.” What are your drinks of choice (besides Bourbon)?

[Tweet “Pinot I drink by the case. Bourbon I drink by the bottle. Martinis I drink by the glass. #ComplicatedCreatures”]

Writing is hard work. What inspires you?

Music. I can’t write without music. In fact, I’m so reliant on it, I find no matter where I am in the world, if I turn on my playlist for the book/scene/character I’m writing, I can transport to that pretty quickly.

Check out Alexi’s playlist.

Your book spans the globe, almost literally. Where are your favorite places to travel?

I spend a lot of time on the road. I think I’ve traveled something like 60% of the world. I just finished a several month stint in South America. Next up: the Middle East. But I’ve been all over Asia, Europe, North America, South America, Northern Africa, Western Asia, Eastern Europe and the Pacific Ocean.

What do you do for fun?

Travel. Read. Drink. Write. Read while drinking. Write while traveling. Sadly, the drinking while writing is rarely productive, so we had to put a curb to that.

Are you a curl up with a good book kind of girl or a discotheque ‘til 4am kind of girl? In other words, how similar is Alexi to Samantha?

In the words of Sandra Cisneros, “I’m an aim-well, shoot-sharp, sharp-tongued, sharp-thinking, fast-speaking, foot-loose, loose-tongued, let-loose, woman-on-the-loose, loose woman. Beware, honey.”

What are you working on now, Alexi?

I am knees and elbows deep into writing Complicated Creatures Part 2. I also spend a bit of time thinking about who I’d like to play the key roles in Complicated Creatures if it became a movie.

I’m grateful Alexi took the time to chat with me about herself…and I do HIGHLY recommend the book. This is not your typical read-it-in-an-afternoon romance. It’s a highly evolved, deep story about a very strong woman, Samantha, who alternates her time between dodging bullets and dodging heartbreak…and if you think she is awesome (she is) just wait until you meet Jack.

If you are a blogger interested in reviewing Complicated Creatures, we have review copies available. To join the blog tour that runs June 25-July 31, sign up here.

Find out more about Alexi LAWLESS and Complicated Creatures:

AlexiLAWLESS.com

Twitter  Facebook Goodreads Google+

 

The Sensory Child Gets Organized: A Must-Have Book for Parents

Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

9781451664287-1-198x300Most parents worry about organization before school starts, but for us, it takes a good month before we can figure out how we can best help our son, who has Asperger’s, which is either aggravated by or in addition to a sensory disorder. Organization is one of the most challenging areas for him. When you combine that with his other major challenge, communication, having tools and solutions in place to help him be successful at school become critical.

In addition to finally hitting the grade where everything “counts” – 9th grade – Parker also started a brand new school this year, as we moved across the country over the summer. At his old school, he had developed very comfortable routines and knew how to navigate his day. Organization was a problem, but most of his teachers were familiar with his challenges and with us, and knew to include us in every aspect of his academic planning.

All new teachers, all new school, all new routines…and Aspergers/sensory difficulties.

The Sensory Child Gets Organized by Carolyn Dalgliesh provides usable and easy to implement solutions for kids who struggle with sensory issues, anxiety, organization challenges, and other issues.

The book covers everything from creating safe spaces in the home for play, study, and living to learning how to travel with the sensory child. The most important sections of the book for me came toward the end. Because my son is 13 and we had late diagnoses for both the sensory disorder and the Aspergers (in part because we were already dealing with a seizure disorder and eye issues) we have already learned to cope with many of the things this book helps parents of younger kids deal with. But there is a treasure of resources Dalgliesh includes at the end – sensory child products for each “zone” that can help, and guidance for parents working to get support of either an IEP or a 504.

The best section, though, was the month-by-month guideline for surviving the school year.

In September, it’s simply a matter of helping them get used to the schedule.

In October, it’s managing all of the paperwork.

But as we enter November, and this is where, for our family, the struggles the school year will present really start revealing themselves (we know by now which teachers are flexible and which are difficult, and which parts of the day are most difficult for our son).  November is where Dalgliesh recommends a focus on homework strategies.  Following her monthly guide will be very helpful.

If you have a child who struggles with sensory issues or a lack of organization, The Sensory Child Gets Organized is truly a must-have book. It is one you will want to keep handy for quick reference as you discover new things about the challenges your sensory child is facing.

Raising a sensory child is never easy, but this book gives you ideas and tools to help you help your child be more successful.

Read a great interview with the author by Kristen Kemp on Parents.

The Mommy MD Guides – a Trusted Parenting Resource

Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

When my son was born, I went to the same doctor that my sister took her kids to. Her twins had only been born six weeks earlier, but she’d already had occasion to rave about how wonderful the doctor was. And oh, how I loved her.

She was a mom.

And she was a doctor.

I implicitly trusted that she was guiding me through the challenges I was facing with my newborn son with her heart as much as she was with her training. She treated my son for his first 18 months, until we moved to New York. While we’ve had great doctors since, there was really no one quite like her, and there were many times as I was desperately trying to survive the toddler years that I wanted to call her for advice.

I no longer have infants or even toddlers, as my two remaining under-18 kids are now 10 and 13. I’m dealing with things like, “Why can’t I have a cell phone?” and “I need new clothes” and “Do I have to clean my room?”

Mommy MD GuidesOf course, these years come with their own moments of fright and frustration, but as I was reading through the Mommy MD Guide to the Toddler Years, I realized how very glad I was not to still be in that stage. And while I do believe that teenagers are just bigger toddlers, complete with meltdown temper tantrums, the worries that parents have when the kids are toddlers are tough to deal with.

  • Should I take him to the doctor?
  • What IS that rash?
  • Why won’t she potty train?
  • When should I take him to the dentist?
  • Does that earache need antibiotics?
  • What foods can I introduce to my toddler?

How nice it would have been to have a book written by MOMS WHO ARE ALSO DOCTORS to guide me through those moments.

Lucky for you, Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH, and Jennifer Bright Reich launched Momosa Publishing LLC in 2009. They are the women responsible for the Mommy MD Guides book series and the resources at MommyMDGuides.com and DaddyMDGuides.com, featuring tips that Mommy MD Guides (doctors who are also mothers) and Daddy MD Guides (doctors who are also fathers) use for their own families.

They sent me their newest book, The Mommy MD Guide for the Toddler Years, and I’ve been impressed with how comprehensive the advice is. Everything you need to know about raising toddlers, from head to toe and inside and out, you’ll find in this book.

This book was provided to me for review purposes.

Fun, Family Adventures Just Perfect for the Holidays

I am thrilled to be able to introduce my readers to Daniel McInerny…a dad whose creativity with his own kids transformed into magical stories that engage tweens and keep them reading.  – Shadra
The Hilarious Kingdom of Patria series by Daniel McInerny
patraIt is said that the years from eight to twelve are the “golden age” of reading–the age in which a child’s love of books reaches its full flourishing. Publishers call children in this age range the “middle grade” demographic, and it is one of the choicest targets of their marketing efforts. Many of us fondly remember, even with a certain wistful ache, the impact that certain books had on us during those years.

What makes for the golden age of reading? Surely it has something to do with the child’s emerging ability to understand complex plots and complicated emotions. But it also has to do, I think, with the child’s growing desire to see and understand the world, to strike out (at least imaginatively) on his or her own, to have an adventure.

And it’s curious–middle grade adventures often involve a character discovering a kind of “golden” world. This is most obviously the case in so-called “high fantasy,” such as we find in Lewis, Tolkien, and Rowling. But golden worlds are also present in stories that are set squarely in this world. As long as the hero or heroine finds a place of haven, a place where he or she is called upon to grow in wisdom and courage, a place where he or she can truly love and be loved, then we can talk about that story as having a golden world.
Middle grade adventures tap into our deepest longings. In showing us a golden world, they paint for us a picture of what we would hope to achieve in our own lives. And because our longing for a deeper happiness starts to become self-conscious just as we are ready for middle grade books, such stories tend to leave a burning impression upon the heart.
Final Cover Art My name is Daniel McInerny, and I am the author of the Kingdom of Patria series: exciting, and laugh-out-loud, mysteries and adventures for middle grade readers. There are presently two books in the Patria series, Stout Hearts & Whizzing Biscuits, and its cavity-preventing sequel, Stoop of Mastodon Meadow. Both books are available as ebooks on Amazon, barnesandnoble.com, iTunes, and Kobo. Get started by clicking here and here. The print edition of Stout Hearts & Whizzing Biscuits is also available on Amazon by clicking here, and the print edition of Stoop of Mastodon Meadow should be available there any day. There is also an unabridged audiobook of Stout Hearts & Whizzing Biscuits available by clicking here.
Mastodon Meadow Cover FInalLike many writers of children’s stories, my apprenticeship began in a family room chair with kids on my lap as I made up a bedtime story. I vividly remember the first time I told a Patria story, sitting with my two little girls (now teenagers) in the big blue chair in our family room. They were very different stories then. Years later, as I began to write them down, the nature of the golden world of Patria changed. What began as a fantasy world, in the sense of “high fantasy,” became something “fantastical.” Patria as I re-defined it no longer was discovered in another world. Patria became part of our world–that is, given a rather whimsical take on ancient history.
A parent enjoys the privilege of experiencing the golden age of reading a second time, when his or her children fall in love with middle grade books. The experience may be personal to me, but my passion for middle grade literature became even more intense when I began to enjoy it with my children. And the most golden experience of all came about when the books I shared with them were my own.
I hope my Kingdom of Patria series can be a golden experience of fun and adventure for you and your children. Perhaps during the holidays, a Patria story can provide an occasion for you and your family to come together and enjoy a read aloud.
I also hope that together you will find pleasure in exploring the companion, interactive Kingdom of Patria website (kingdomofpatria.com), which includes free short stories in both text and audio, clubs for kids to join, character blogs, and even a downloadable map of Patria! To enjoy the golden age of middle grade literature a third time with your family would be, for me, a privilege indeed.
*          *         *
Daniel_McInerny_03.14.11trojantub_logo_300dpiDaniel McInerny is the founder and CEO of Trojan Tub Entertainment, a children’s entertainment company featuring his humorous Kingdom of Patria stories for middle grade readers. A native of South Bend, Indiana, he holds a PhD in philosophy and taught for many years at various universities in the United States. He now lives in Virginia with his wife Amy and three children, Lucy, Rita, and Francis. He can be contacted at danielmcinerny@kingdomofpatria.com.
Fans can like the Trojan Tub Entertainment Facebook page by clicking here. You can also stay abreast of the news from Patria by joining the Trojan Tub Entertainment email list, either by clicking the “Join My List” button on the Kingdom of Patria homepage, on the Trojan Tub Entertainment Facebook page, or by sending your name and preferred email address to info@kingdomofpatria.com.
And what’s up with the name, Trojan Tub Entertainment? Click here to find out!

The Smile Is Mightier than the Scowl

Getting Real With +Shadra Bruce, Owner of +MomsGetReal

A great new children’s book has been published that (especially in these post-election days) may need to be read by all the grownups in the world, too: Ripple’s Effect by Shawn Achor and Amy Blankson. This Mom’s Choice Award Winner is a fabulous story about Ripple the dolphin, who is struggling to deal with a gang of scary sharks.

Ripple is the new dolphin in a tank of sea creatures, all of whom have been bullied by Snark the Shark. Ripple was scared of Snark, too…until she realized that she could swallow her fear with a smile.

The smile, she learned, is mightier than the scowl.

The book is a great way to introduce the concept of bullying to a younger audience without having to get too serious or too scary. It’s brilliantly written, beautifully illustrated, and targeted at kids ages 4-8. Like I said, in this post-election era of needing to learn to get along, I think every member of Congress should read it, too.

Published by Little Pickle Press, Ripple’s Effect is an environmentally wise choice as well. All LPP books are written on recycled paper with soy ink and every title is available digitally as well. There are lesson plans available for teachers and homeschooling parents to accompany the book.

In addition to winning the Mom’s Choice Award, the co-author of Ripple’s Effect, Amy Blankson (mother of three) was named a Point of Light by both President Bush and President Clinton. (Bi-partisanship at its best).

The details:

Title: Ripple’s Effect

Written by Shawn Achor and Amy Blankson Illustrated by Cecilia Rebora

Hardcover $18.95 ISBN-10: 0-9829938-7-0 ISBN-13:978-0-9829938-7-3

Pages: 36

Publication Date: November 1, 2012

For Children Ages 4-8

About the authors:

Shawn Achor spent over a decade at Harvard University studying the principles of happiness before penning the national bestseller, The Happiness Advantage. He is also the founder of Good Think. To teach his happiness principles to younger readers, he collaborated with his sister, Amy Blankson, to write Ripple’s Effect. Watch his wildly popular TED talk and PBS special.

Amy Blankson is a positive leadership consultant and among her many achievements, has been named a Point of Light by Presidents Bush and Clinton. As a mother of three, she hopes Ripple’s Effect will inspire young people to make a positive difference in their world.

Cecilia Rebora belongs to a creative family of artists and lives in Guadalajara, Mexico. She has published more than thirty children’s books worldwide. When not illustrating, she enjoys sipping a hot cappuccino and taking in the sun on a chilly morning. She also loves spending time with her two small children.

All Little Pickle Press titles are available as enhanced ebooks and some are also available as interactive apps.

Buy Ripple's Effect on LittlePicklePress.com
Buy Ripple's Effect for Amazon Kindle

This review is part of a blog tour. Catch the rest here:

Super Cowboy Rides Is a Super Road Trip Read

Getting Real With Shadra (and Anika) Bruce

Daris Howard grew up on an farm in rural Idaho. Having lived in Idaho myself for 21 years, I know that his insight and experience is what makes his book, Super Cowboy Rides, so authentic and wonderful. Written for children, the book is a delightful treat for any age.

My daughter Anika, age 9, shares her thoughts:

I am reading Super Cowboy Rides. The first chapter is about a boy named Tommy, and he really wants a dog but his parents always say no. He thought that his parents had never had a dog until he saw a picture of a boy and a dog. He was amazed when he found out that the boy was his father! One day, his father said the family was going on a drive. The place they were going to was the Silverstien’s house. They went to the barn, and there were puppies! When Tommy found out that he could pick one of the puppies, he was very excited. This was the moment he’d been waiting for! He picked a boy, and they named it Tippy. When they got back to the house, Tommy’s older brothers set up a bed in the barn, but they had to move it because Tippy thought he was a calf. This is a great book! I can’t wait to finish it!

Daris Howard has a way with words. He writes books, plays, musicals, and short stories, as well as a popular weekly newspaper column called “Life’s Outtakes.”

One of my favorite books from Daris Howard is The Three Gifts. Centered on three young men who mug kids for their Halloween candy and get caught, it tells a poignant story about the men’s punishment: instead of jail, they are forced to babysit at a women’s crisis center for 100 hours.

Howard is delightfully funny, insightful, and a joy to read. Where he finds the time to be so prolific with his writing I’ll never know – he works as a math professor and he and his wife have ten children, eight daughters and two sons. He and his wife make their home in St. Anthony, Idaho and have been married for 28 years

On the road or curled up on a rainy day, Daris Howard writes books you’ll love to dig into.

Daris Howard and MomsGetReal have partnered together to make sure you can order his books for the best possible price. Please visit the MomsGetReal-sponsored Daris Howard page for more information.

Product was provided for review purposes.

FTC Disclosure

Dustin Maher Is Keeping Moms Fit for Life

Getting Real With +Shadra Bruce, Owner of +MomsGetReal

My kids are full of energy and incredibly draining. I love that about them, actually. I thrive on their energy. But between the pounding drums of my son’s music practice and the clacking of my daughter’s tap dancing practice, the cacophony alone is enough to introduce insanity.

I get to the end of the day sometimes, and all I want to do is sit down on the sofa, open a bag of Doritos, and wash them down with a glass of wine or three. Of course, I DON’T do that. Well, I don’t eat the bag of Doritos, but I’m pretty happy to relax with a glass of red wine on my front porch.

It’s a very big glass.

I am, however, always looking for ways to improve my energy level and find ways to improve my lifestyle. My husband and I have already given up the microwave, stopped eating fast food (for over a year now), eliminated high fructose corn syrup and trans fats from our diet, and try to exercise every day.

But motivation is sometimes hard to come by. Especially when there’s a lot of work to be done and I start at 5am and don’t end til nearly the same time in the pm.

Dustin Maher’s “Fit Moms for Life” is so helpful – it’s like a mom fitness bible, covering everything from diet and nutrition to exercise to motivation for lifestyle changes. Dustin’s plan is built on five pillars:

  • Mindset
  • Nutrition
  • Strength Training
  • Burst Training
  • Environment

Environment is the most important component from my perspective. Any mom can have the desire to change, can change her diet, can do exercises that will burn calories – but if she does not have a supportive environment, it’s almost impossible to really be successful.

What Dustin Maher points out, however, is that in most cases, moms have LOTS of control over their environment, having a say in the family’s activities, the family’s groceries, and the family’s social activities. In other words, moms have the power to mold their environment to help them be successful.

And when you add Dustin Maher’s “Fit Moms for Life” to that environment, your chances of success simply get better.

In honor of Mother’s Day, Dustin is generously giving one MomsGetReal reader a free copy of his fabulous book.

To enter to win “Fit Moms for Life” leave a comment below telling us what your biggest health challenge is.

For additional entries, you can:

1. Tweet the following message and leave link to your tweet in a comment:

Happy Mother’s Day from @MomsGetReal and @DustinMaher. Enter to win #FitMomsforLife! http://bit.ly/JzmiPs #moms

2. “Like” MomsGetReal and Dustin Maher on Facebook and leave a comment below confirming.

3. Share this post on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Pinterest. Each share will count as an additional entry.

A copy of “Fit Moms for Life” was provided to MomsGetReal so that we could provide an honest and thorough review. You can review the official MomsGetReal FTC policy here.

Bed & Breakfasts and Country Inns – the Must-Have Travel Book

Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

When you’re looking for a place to stay and don’t just want another night in a non-descript chain hotel, Bed & Breakfasts and Country Inns can be an appealing choice. These small, often locally owned and operated facilities offer a more personal touch for the traveler, but they’re also not as easy to find on the Internet since they can’t compete in search results with the major chains.

To really find a treasure trove of the best B&Bs in North America, let the most recent edition of Bed & Breakfasts and Country Inns by Deborah Edwards Sakach be your guide! In addition to offering details about unique and wonderful places to stay around the country, the book comes with a certificate for a free night’s stay. When you purchase a night at a participating Bed & Breakfast or Country Inn, the second night is free. More than 1400 locations participate in the certificate program.

The book is well organized, broken down by state and each state’s section begins with a map of the state orienting you to the location of the B&Bs and inns included in the directory. In addition to a comprehensive listing of available B&Bs and inns, the book provides details about minimum stays, cost range, type of meals included, and other pertinent information to help you make your decision.

The I LOVE INNS guide to “Bed & Breakfast and Country Inns” offers detailed descriptions about more than 1,200 inns all over the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. From California’s wine country to Niagara Falls, this guide is filled with great ideas for making your trip a little extra shine.

The certificate for a free night is the very first page of the book (warning: do NOT remove the page or you will void the certificate). This certificate will save you $100 – $650 on your next vacation, and you can purchase the book from I LOVE INNS or Amazon.com on sale right now for $16.47.

If you’re looking for something special in your next travel adventure, Bed & Breakfasts and Country Inns is the place to begin.

 One lucky reader can win a free copy of Bed & Breakfasts and Country Inns from MomsGetReal and ILoveInns.

Here’s what you can do to win…

1). Visit I LOVE INNS and explore their vast list of Bed & Breakfasts and Country Inns. Then come back here and tell us where you would like to spend a long weekend. Your comment indicating your choice will count as one entry.

2). Follow MomsGetReal on Twitter and send out this tweet: Win a FREE night at a B&B – the vacation you’ve been dreaming of http://bit.ly/HPXGzY!  @MomsGetReal & @iloveinns ends 6/15 (this can be done daily – just leave a comment with a link to each tweet)

3). Write a Review at I LOVE INNS for a B & B that you’ve stayed at. Then return here and tell us the name of the Inn.

4). Post about this Giveaway on your blog and leave a link in the comments below.

I’ll let Random.org choose the winner on Friday June 15.

A copy of this book was provided to MomsGetReal so that we could provide an honest and thorough review. You can review the official MomsGetReal FTC policy here.