My paper--Book talk on

Wednesday, November 26, 2014



I just finished 50,000 words of my novel today! I still have to polish it before it's ready for publication, but this is just a great accomplishment.

For more information, like this page on Facebook:

Photo: Mockup cover. Not final yet. I'm open to suggestions.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Color of the Season

Thank you for joining us for The Color of the Season Review Tour, with Julianne MacLean and Wordsmith Publicity! Visit the tour homepage to follow all the participating blogs.

Title: The Color of the Season (Color of Heaven #7) Author: Julianne MacLean Age: Adult Genre: Contemporary Women's Fiction Goodreads:

From USA Today bestselling author Julianne MacLean comes the next installment in her popular Color of Heaven series - a gripping, emotional tale about real life magic that touches us all during the holiday season… Boston cop, Josh Wallace, is having the worst day of his life. First, he’s dumped by the woman he was about to propose to, then everything goes downhill from there when he is shot in the line of duty. While recovering in the hospital, he can’t seem to forget the woman he wanted to marry, nor can he make sense of the vivid images that flashed before his eyes when he was wounded on the job. Soon, everything he once believed about his life begins to shift when he meets Leah James, an enigmatic resident doctor who somehow holds the key to both his past and his future…
 ** This is book 7 in the Color of Heaven series, but can be read as a stand alone. ** 

 Purchase The Color of the Season

Barnes & Noble:
Google Play:


25 winners will receive a print copy of The Color of the Season. Open Intl.
 a Rafflecopter giveaway


The Color of the Season (The Color of Heaven Series Book 7)The Color of the Season by Julianne MacLean
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is part of The Color of Heaven series. They are more of the heartwarming romance novels than steamy bodice-rippers.

In this book, we meet Josh, a Boston police officer who has just had his girlfriend break up with him. She found someone else. While on patrol that night, he gets into a shootout with a drug dealer who carjacked a van. Josh nearly dies. He is rushed to the operating table, and begins to experience himself floating out of his body, watching his surgery. He flashes back to his childhood friends Riley and his sister Leah. He is also there when Riley's sister Holly is born. Then he comes back to reality--or is it?

I don't want to give too much else away, because of spoilers. The scenes in the operating room where Josh is floating above his body reminded me of Heaven Is For Real. I'm not familiar with near death experiences, but this sounds very real to me. The narration goes from Josh to Holly in the middle of the book, which at first I found disorienting, but then I got used to it. When it switched back to Josh at the end, I was somewhat prepared for it. It does raise the question, are near-death experiences real? If they are, why do we come back. Parts of this also reminded me of The Sixth Sense ("I see dead people.") She's writing a sequel to this book called The Color of Joy, to be published in February 2015. I look forward to it.

View all my reviews

About Julianne MacLean 

Julianne MacLean is a USA Today bestselling author who has sold more than 1.3 million books in North America, and her novels have also been translated into many foreign languages, including Spanish, German, Portugese, French, Japanese, Turkish, Russian, and Dutch. She has written twenty historical romance novels, including the bestselling Highlander Trilogy with St. Martin's Press and her popular Pembroke Palace Series with Avon/Harper Collins. She also writes contemporary mainstream fiction, and THE COLOR OF HEAVEN was a USA Today bestseller. She is a three-time RITA finalist and has won numerous awards, including the Booksellers' Best Award, the Book Buyers Best Award, and a Reviewers' Choice Award from Romantic Times for Best Regency Historical of 2005. She has a degree in English Literature from the University of King’s College in Halifax, and a degree in Business Administration from Acadia University. She lives in Nova Scotia with her husband and daughter, and is a dedicated member of Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

My paper--Book Talk on

Monday, November 10, 2014

Stage Fright on a Summer Night

Stage Fright on a Summer Night (Magic Tree House, #25)Stage Fright on a Summer Night by Mary Pope Osborne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a review.

This is a kids' book, so it's not my usual reading material. I can only guess the ages this book is intended for by the ages of the main characters. Jack is 8 and his sister Annie is 7. This is part of the Magic Tree House series, book 25. Jack and Annie find a magical treehouse full of books. All they have to do is point to the book, and they go there. In this book, they go back to Elizabethan England, where they meet William Shakespeare himself. They have to help him with his production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, by taking the parts of 2 fairies. They also try to save a bear from having to fight for sport. Jack has to battle stage fright, and they also meet Queen Elizabeth I. Everything works out in the end, and Jack and Annie go back home, with no time passing.

Obviously, I'm not a 7 or 8 year old kid, so I don't know exactly how they'd react. I can only give you my reaction. The author does a good job of recreating Elizabethan England, simplified for kids. She doesn't shy away from the negative aspects, including the smell of that time, and the bear fighting. She includes some facts at the end to anchor the story in real life. The plot was simplified, but it carried well. All in all, a good book.

View all my reviews

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Food of Love--Concert by the Rochester Choral Arts Ensemble and Great River Shakespeare Festival in Winona, MN


Rating: 5 of 5 stars

"If music be the food of love, play on."--William Shakespeare, 12th Night, Act I, Scene 1.

This quote from Shakespeare's 12th Night was the theme of the concert this afternoon, a collaboration between the Rochester Choral Arts Ensemble in Rochester, MN,  and the Great River Shakespeare Festival in Winona, MN. The concert was at Central Lutheran Church in Winona. In the 400 years since Shakespeare wrote his plays, many composers have set his words to music. Some of those may have been for Shakespeare's performances. Today's concert was a performance of some of this music, combined with dramatic readings from the Shakespeare plays the lyrics came from. i don't know if it's been done elsewhere, but it was the first time here.

The concert started out with two of Shakespeare's sonnets, then into As You Like It. There were two settings of Blow, Blow Thou Winter Wind, which was especially appropriate today. (There is a winter storm watch for this part of Minnesota through Tuesday. It won't be long before Minnesota looks like Disney's Frozen. I keep expecting Olaf the snowman to come out and ask, "Do you need a hug?" But I digress.) The next selections were Under the Greenwood Tree and A Lover and His Lass, also from As You Like It. The next selections were from the Tempest, Macbeth, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. (By the way, I wonder about that superstition about Macbeth being bad luck. The performance tonight was from the play, and the song Double, Double, Toil and Trouble, and nothing happened. The theater didn't collapse or catch fire, and no one got seriously hurt. Maybe that superstition is nothing.) The performance concluded with a selection from Much Ado About Nothing, which will be performed by the Festival in 2015.

I sing in choral groups myself, and have for many years. It was actually nice to sit and watch a concert from the audience. I know the work they put in, because I've done it myself. The choir was excellent. One of the hardest things to do is to stay in tune on a capella songs. They did well, although on some of the 20th century songs, I couldn't tell what in tune was. They were intentionally dissonant, with some of the songs dividing into 11 parts. They have obviously put a lot of work into this, and it showed. At the end of Double Double, Toil and Trouble, the song called for them to shut their folders together. They were actually able to do it. I know I'd have problems with that. One of the songs was John Rutter's Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind. When I heard this, I remembered performing it at a high school choral festival. It still had the same wintry feeling that it did back then, and the chorus did a great job of bringing that to life.

Special shoutouts to Doug Scholz-Carlson and Tarah Flanagan from the Festival, who performed the Shakespeare readings. One great thing about Shakespeare is the you don't need a lot of staging to perform it. The words themselves carry the action. They did an excellent job bringing life to Shakespeare's words. Even though they were in formal wear, you could picture them in the forest in As You Like It, or contemplating Duncan's murder in Macbeth. (Special note to Doug Scholz-Carlson for his singing solo on one arrangement of Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind. It's an arrangement that written for him by Dan Kallman, and was first performed when the Festival performed As You Like It.)

All in all, a great concert. On one of the chorus's CDs. there was a song called If Music Be the Food of Love, Play On. This would be a great song for next year. (Hint, hint.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Road to Reinvention

The Road to Reinvention: How to Drive Disruption and Accelerate TransformationThe Road to Reinvention: How to Drive Disruption and Accelerate Transformation by Josh Linkner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from 12 Books in exchange for this review.

Reinvention. It sounds like one of those business buzzwords, like reengineering, downsizing, rightsizing, and so many others. What is reinvention? According to the author, it's the process of re-doing everything, in some cases starting over, and building something new. It's either this or die.

A lot of what he says has been said elsewhere. The 8 principles he lists are these:

1. Let go of the past.
2. Encourage courage.
3. Embrace failure.
4. Do the opposite.
5. Imagine the possibilities.
6. Put yourself out of business.
7. Reject limits.
8. Aim beyond.

He uses the standard technique of showing companies that have done this, and have gone on to great success. He focuses on small companies, since they don't have a lot of the issues that larger companies do. He also focuses on Detroit, where he's based. Detroit has had a lot of problems over the last several decades, from white flight, to the 1967 riots, to the decline of the auto industry, to ex-mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who treated the city treasury like his own personal piggy bank, to eventually filing for bankruptcy in 2013. He believes Detroit is coming back. We shall see.

One flaw in the book is that he doesn't address some negative issues on reinvention. He mentions the controversy with Lululemon and the see-through yoga pants. He uses this as an example of how a crisis can be uniquely averted. What he doesn't address is that the fallout from this caused their Chief Product Officer, Sherree Watson, and their CEO, Christine Day, to leave the company. He also doesn't mention a TV interview in which Chip Wilson, the founder of the company, blamed the customers for the problem. He later apologized for these remarks, but left the company less than a month later.

He also praises Wayne Huizenga, founder of Blockbuster, as an innovator, but fails to mention that Blockbuster no longer exists, mainly because of lack of reinvention. At one time, Blockbuster was the #1 video retailer in the US. They bought most of their movies for $80-90 per tape, and had a 3-6 month exclusive before the price dropped to $20 for sale. Then they got blindsided. First, it was the introduction of DVDs in the mid-1990s, which upset the price structure. DVDs came out priced to sell at $20 right away, which ended Blockbuster's exclusive window. In an interview in a video magazine, Wayne Huizenga said that he wanted the old pricing structure back. Then, Blockbuster got blindsided by Netflix. Netflix offered videos by mail, with no late fees (which made for very unhappy customers). Blockbuster tried its own mail service, but felt like a "me-too" approach, instead of innovation. They also revised their late-fee policy, but had to revise their advertising after complaints from the New Jersey Attorney General's office. Finally, Dish Network bought Blockbuster, but couldn't turn it around, so it folded. I believe streaming video from Netflix drove the last nail into the coffin. I bring Lululemon and Blockbuster up because this information should have been in the book. Reinvention needs to be an ongoing process, not "one-and-done". It also helps if you don't blame your customers for your problems.

Aside from this, the author does lay out a compelling case for reinvention. It's something companies can follow to be successful, but it won't be perfect. For every company mentioned in the book that became successful, there are many others who took these steps and didn't make it. With those cautions, it's a good book.

View all my reviews

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Will A Rival's Better Quality UI Suddenly Destroy Your Business?

Will a Rival's Better Quality UI Suddenly Destroy Your Business?Will a Rival's Better Quality UI Suddenly Destroy Your Business? by Doug Lescoe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for this review.

User Interfaces (UI) can be frustrating, or they can be helpful. I still remember the days of DOS commands, trying to remember what to type in. Then Apple came out with Macintosh, and later, Microsoft with Windows, and things got easier. UIs also encompass more than computers. How many of you have called customer support, only to get this message: "Thank you for calling [company name]. For [this department], press 1. For [next department], press 2." When you finally push a button, you hear, "All of our representatives are currently assisting other callers. Please wait for the next available customer service representative." [Cue elevator music.] Then, about 20 minutes later, when someone answers, you get put on hold again, with more elevator music. "This call may monitored or recorded for quality assurance purposes." Really? Then why hasn't the process improved any? This is an example of bad UI.

In this very short book, the author lays out reasons why UI is so bad, and why people accept it. UI is traditionally programmed by computer programmers, who don't usually worry about customers. (I learned that in the early days of computers, especially with DOS commands.) Customers put up with it because they believe that's the way it is. It doesn't have to be that way. Personally, I understand poor UI if it's a beta test, and they're trying to get customer input on how to improvement. For too many companies, however, the beta test doesn't end. This can be a problem. If no improvements are made, customers may eventually leave for a competitor. One of the biggest suggestions the author makes is to get programmers and marketers together to work on the problem. The one area that can be a problem is government. Unlike private companies, you can't just go elsewhere if you're dissatisfied.
All in all, a good little book. I wish more companies would listen. I'm still waiting for the phone interface to get better. [Cue elevator music.]

View all my reviews