Friday, February 28, 2014

Social Work Advocacy Day at the Legislature

Are you interested in advocacy and public policy?  Do you want to learn how the legislative process works?

The Social Work Advocacy Day at the Legislature will be held in Austin on Tuesday, March 4th, 2014. 

This is an exciting, educational day where students gather in Austin and talk about current social work issues. The full day will include education about issues relevant to Social Work, a keynote speaker and a panel that will address effective advocacy.

So clear your calendar and come out and show your support and lets change the system together!

For those of you planning to come, just a few minor adjustments in the plans:

Please ask students to keep personal belongings at a minimum for the program phase in the sanctuary from 9:30 to 12:30.  The venue space will be crowded if there are myriad book bags and backpacks.

No one is allowed to eat in the sanctuary and only bottled water is allowed.  The church has been most gracious to allow us to use their sanctuary space, so we must be respectful of this rule.  There will be coffee and snack bags available for all the participants, but these can only be consumed in the basement or outside the building.  

The sign-up sheet for Capitol Steps Speak Outs will be in the front entry of the church on the morning of the event.  The speak outs will occur between 12:30 and 1:30.  Since we have 753 participants, the 60 speak out slots are in great demand.  Please be mindful and only have a few students sign up to give each school an opportunity to be represented and Speak Out. There is also ample opportunity to speak directly to legislative offices. It is most effective if students make appointments in advance.

Killer Image (Allison Campbell Mystery #1)

Killer Image Description: Killer Image Author: Wendy Tyson Publisher: Henery Press Pages: 324 Language: English Genre: Mystery/Psychological Thriller Format: Paperback ($14.96) & eBook ($2.99) Purchase at AMAZON
As Philadelphia’s premier image consultant, Allison Campbell helps others reinvent themselves, but her most successful transformation was her own after a scandal nearly ruined her. Now she moves in a world of powerful executives, wealthy, eccentric ex-wives and twisted ethics.

When Allison’s latest Main Line client, the fifteen-year-old Goth daughter of a White House hopeful, is accused of the ritualistic murder of a local divorce attorney, Allison fights to prove her client’s innocence when no one else will. But unraveling the truth brings specters from her own past. And in a place where image is everything, the ability to distinguish what’s real from the facade may be the only thing that keeps Allison alive.

My Impressions: 

  I was a little apprehensive about reading this novel. So many of the last few mystery/psychological thrillers seem to have the same dull and predictable plot and outcome that they become tedious to even read through anymore. Wendy's book was the opposite of that experience. It was engaging, thought provoking, keep you on the edge of your seat, cannot put the book down good. A true psychological thriller that kept you guessing all the way till the end.It was fast paced with enough twists and turns that kept you wanting more without becoming unrealistic and boring.Alot of books I read fall short on really defining and giving life to their secondary characters, but Wendy did a fabulous job giving them enough detail and really breathing life into them.  It's hard to believe this is her first novel. I cannot wait to see what this author does next. 

My Goodreads Review

Amazon Review

About the Author:

Wendy Tyson’s background in law and psychology has provided inspiration for her mysteries and thrillers.  Killer Image, published by Henery Press in October 2013, is the first novel in the Allison Campbell mystery series.  She has also authored The Seduction of Miriam Cross, published by E-Lit Books, the first in the Delilah Percy Powers mystery series. Connect with Wendy on her website, Twitter, or Facebook.

Book Excerpt:

It started to drizzle. Cold, steely drops that threatened to morph into sleet. The rain hit Allison’s windshield, slithered in rivulets to the corners, and turned to ice, so that she had to scrunch down and squint to see the road. She fingered the envelope that sat on the seat next to her. Her head ached.
Home. She turned the word around on her tongue, flipped it backward and forward, and swirled it around until the nausea passed. At home lived a different Allison.  Fat ankles. Uneven bangs. A preference for peanut butter right from the jar.
“Self-reinvention is the key to survival,” Mia had told her when she was first hired by her mentor’s image-consulting firm. “In this line of work and in life.”
“Yeah, right. There’s no escaping the past,” Allison had wanted to say in response. But she’d been twenty-five, poor, and disillusioned. Funny how an empty bank account can make one into a believer.
And so she’d Jennifer Aniston-ed her hair and painted her lips and learned the difference between Gucci and Prada, first for herself and then for her clients. She traded her third-floor studio in Ardmore for a two-story townhouse in Wayne and learned to navigate ten courses worth of silverware. Eventually she married Jason, her mentor’s son, a man with a nice, normal American surname and then divorced him, keeping the name as a booby prize. Chalupowski would have looked awful on a book jacket.
At times, she missed the old Allison. She missed the energy of idealism and the ease with which someone who has nothing can move through the world. She knew this new life was based on the perpetuation of a lie, of a million little daily lies. But the lies, if told often enough and with enough enthusiasm, could become truth.
Just look at her.
Allison kept one hand still on the steering wheel and used the other to peel back the flap of the envelope. Wedged between the stiff edges of her mother’s official documents sat the sickly yellow of an old newspaper clipping. She knew without touching it, without reading the bold-lettered headline, what it said. Man Drives over Embankment in Apparent Homicide/Suicide Attempt. Her father. Her mother. And over twenty years later, the pain still blanketed her like a low-lying fog.
She pushed the article back into the packet. Miraculously, her parents had lived through the ordeal with few serious injuries, but the emotional wounds had never really healed. Your mother has Alzheimer’s, Allison, her father had said back then, as though that simple fact explained everything. It’ll be uphill from here. So the years before that, the mom-has-a-migraine-and-is-in-her-bedroom-make-us-some-dinner-watch-your-sister-Allison years, were the easy ones?
Allison shook her head. The contents of that envelope didn’t tell the full story any more than a pile of individual timbers resembled a finished house. Where were the court hearings, the social workers with their shopworn empathy and mind-fuck questions, the belt beatings, the experimental drugs and doctors’ visits and furtive glances when the electricity went off because no one had paid the bill?
The rain stopped.
Allison flicked off her wipers and made a left onto her parents’ street. Tiny ranch house after tiny ranch house, all with tiny yards and chain-link fences. She pulled up to their home, behind a grit-sprayed Ford. From the outside, nothing much had changed. Same peach-colored stucco, same white stone-filled flower beds, same crumbling walkway. Though it was nearly spring, a woven-wicker doe and fawn, leftover Christmas decorations, remained in the front yard. The doe lay on her side. The fawn stood over her, as though in mourning.
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Storytelling: The Indispensable Art of Entrepreneurism

Book Description:
  • File Size: 735 KB
  • Print Length: 135 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Twilight Times Books (October 31, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
The value of any new venture or sound new idea needs to be developed out of the nothingness of silence, ignorance and darkness. It ignites and illuminates the world only when the great storytelling entrepreneur lights the flame. “STORYTELLING: The Indispensable Art of the Entrepreneur” shows, with startling clarity and practical know-how, the process by which wealth and other things of exceptional value can emerge into the world literally out of nothing—nothing, that is, but the Art of Storytelling.

STORYTELLING takes you on a journey which reveals how the development, progressive modification and adaptation of your story is the golden thread and foundational core management practice which ties together all the others: building, focusing and motivating your management team, navigating through troubled times or excessive growth, maintaining positive momentum with investors and Boards of Directors and positioning the venture for a potential exit.

Award-winning author and entrepreneur, Rudy Mazzocchi, exposes his greatest secret of success and provides an enormous amount of “experienced-based” illustrations and nuts-and-bolts practical advice. He reveals how to create and evolve the story of your new venture in a way that energizes and breathes life into what may have started out as just an idea.

Everyone can benefit greatly from reading this book—whether or not you envision yourself as an entrepreneur. STORYTELLING: The Indispensable Art of the Entrepreneur applies universally to ventures of all types and is an essential element in the fulfillment of any dream—dreams which depend upon capturing the interest and sustaining the highly-motivated commitment of others.

~My Impressions~ 
As soon as I saw this book I knew I wanted to read it. I have a daughter who wants to write and publish her own line of children's books and we greatly needed some reasonable advise and this book is chalked full of very helpful advise that is realistic and understandable to those just getting started.  

Rudy has a great sense of humor through the whole book which made me feel I was talking to someone as opposed to reading about it. I really enjoyed all the "nuggets" that he provides throughout the book to really tie everything together and give the condensed version in a different way. The whole book is an interesting read that provides helpful insight for anyone that is looking to tell their story and get published. Think of it as having your own go to guy/mentor at your fingertips. I highly recommend this book  to the entrepreneur, and those seeking a deeper understanding of what goes into getting your business up and running.

~Fabulous Links~
Visit his website at
My Amazon Review

Connect & Socialize with Rudy! TWITTER | FACEBOOK | GOODREADS 

~About the Author~
Rudy Mazzocchi is best known as a medical device and biotechnology entrepreneur, inventor, and angel investor, with a history of starting new technology ventures throughout the U.S. and Europe. He’s been privileged to have the opportunity to see the newest innovations in healthcare and work with some of the most brilliant researchers, scientists and physicians in the industry.
Authoring more than 50 patents, he has helped pioneer new companies involved in cardiology, oncology, orthopedics, neurosurgery and even embryonic stem-cell development. Through these efforts, he has become the recipient of many technology and business awards, including the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in Healthcare (2004), Businessman of the Year Award (2005), and Global Entrepreneur of the Year Award (2013).

Combining these experiences and opportunities, with thousands of hours of travel and long evenings in hotel rooms, he found the initiative to start writing a collection of award-winning business/medical thrillers based on true events, known as The EQUITY Series. STORYTELLING was his debut non-fiction business book released in November 2013.

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No Greatness Without Goodness

Randy Lewis bet his career that he could create an inclusive workplace at one of America’s biggest corporations where people with disabilities could not just succeed, but thrive. No Greatness without Goodness is the powerful story of a corporate executive who, after watching the world through the eyes of his own child with autism, Austin, realized that we all have a greater responsibility to make the world a better place for everyone, including those with disabilities.

As the Senior Vice President of Walgreens, Randy Lewis has created thousands of full-time jobs for people with disabilities. No Greatness without Goodness offers a firsthand account of what it takes to lead with courage in order to change people’s lives for the better. Randy’s motto is “What’s the use of having power if you don’t use it to do good.” In this book, you’ll learn how to start working for good no matter where you are or how much power you hold. - See more at:

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (March 21, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1414383649
  • ISBN-13: 978-1414383644
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
Randy Lewis bet his career that he could create an inclusive workplace at one of America’s biggest corporations where people with disabilities could not just succeed, but thrive. No Greatness without Goodness is the powerful story of a corporate executive who, after watching the world through the eyes of his own child with autism, Austin, realized that we all have a greater responsibility to make the world a better place for everyone, including those with disabilities.

As the Senior Vice President of Walgreens, Randy Lewis has created thousands of full-time jobs for people with disabilities. No Greatness without Goodness offers a firsthand account of what it takes to lead with courage in order to change people’s lives for the better. Randy’s motto is “What’s the use of having power if you don’t use it to do good.” In this book, you’ll learn how to start working for good no matter where you are or how much power you hold. 

My Impressions

I adored this book. My uncle suffers with Multiple sclerosis and I hate seeing people treat him differential just because he does not look like everyone else and he cannot talk. I admire Randy for standing up for his son Austin and creating a wonderful avenue that people with disabilities can use to be productive citizens and at the same time allowing them to keep their self esteem in tact by providing for themselves at least on a small level.

This is a book for anyone who believes that one person cannot make a difference-because you can if you put your mind and heart to it. Every single person has a purpose in life that God has destined us to carry out, Randy found his through his son. What could have crippled this family, Randy used to to give his son strength, purpose, pride and above all showed him unconditional love and acceptance.

The only thing I really hate is the Special Wage Certificate Program, which permits nonprofits and companies to obtain a certificate that allows them to hire disabled workers “based on their abilities” at whatever wage they find appropriate, with no minimum. I am not saying that Walgreen's does this at all, it is just one of the injustices that are still out there that really upset me when I hear about companies taking a great thing and exploiting it for basically free labor.

I can easily suggest this book and have done so on many occasions already.  One person can change the world if they have the courage to stand up and let their heart speak. A disability does not make you useless, even though sadly so many in our society view people with disabilities as just that-useless, instead a disability  makes an individual unique and equipped with skill sets that are utilized differently, but they are not incapable and I have yet to meet a person with a disability that did not want to work and be productive and live a "normal" life.


Randy Lewis Randy Lewis, former Vice President of Walgreens, Peace Corps volunteer, Fortune 50 executive and accidental advocate, led Walgreens' logistics division for sixteen years as the chain grew from 1,500 to 8,000 stores. Randy introduced an inclusive model in Walgreens distribution centers that resulted in ten percent of its workforce consisting of people with disabilities who are held to the same standards as those without disabilities. Its success has changed the lives of thousands with and without disabilities and is serving as a model for other employers in the U.S and abroad.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Darkness of Shadows

Natalie’s parents weren't the nurturing type—and she has the physical and emotional wounds to prove it. For sixteen years she’s hidden behind a wall of sarcasm and decadent desserts, but now her father is back, and she has only one thought: to kill him before he can hurt the family that took her in.

But there’s more to his darkness than even his own daughter can understand, and a gun is no defense against magic that can raise the dead.

It turns out those scars he left on Natalie’s back were more than just a sadistic hobby. Now her father demands that she finish a ritual so ancient, so terrifying, that even the vampires and werewolves are nervous.

Can anyone protect her?

My Impressions
I adore a great mystery/murder /horror book and Chris did not disappoint. I was hooked in right from the get go for a wild and crazy ride filled with demons, witches, vampires, werewolves and so much more. Natalie's parents are the worst kind imaginable. They had her to torment and use and to fulfill their own deep,twisted desires of power. The book was brutal to read in some sections due to how graphic the scenes are described and just as heartbreaking in others with the torment and lasting damage left behind. The plot was fantastic and the book flowed smoothly. The characters appear to be genuine and I adored the connections that Chris wrote in between Natalie, Val and Val's family.  Be prepared for alot of sarcasm that really brings the book to life. 

Rating 4-5

About this author
Chris Little lives in New Jersey. No, she won’t tell you what exit. When she’s not trapped in a cubicle writing for corporate America, she turns her attention to the world of urban fantasty
You can find Chris on Facebook and her site


Universal Idols

"Dear children, keep yourselves from idols." 1 John 5:21

Most of us think of an idol as a statue of wood, stone, or metal worshiped by pagan people. But the concept of idolatry is much broader and far more personal than that. An idol is anything apart from God that we depend on to be happy, fulfilled, or secure. In biblical terms, it is something other than God that we set our heart on ... in short, it is something we love and pursue more than God (see Phil. 3:19).
Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 104.

Food for Thought

When was the last time you heard a pull-out-the-stops sermon on idols? How about a straight-up-tell-it-like-it-is book on personal idols? What about a conversation over coffee that kinda-sorta-talked about idols? Maybe every once in a while, but for the most part, we don't like to talk about idols. As Ken reminds us, they are always something very personal.

The Food For Thought line above usually has a question of some sort to prompt reflection. This time it has nothing but question marks -- four to be exact. Allow those four question marks to raise this question, "What are four things, besides God, that your heart is set on?" In other words, take time and identify four idols in your life. Not your spouse's life, or your co-worker's, or your neighbor's. Your life. Your idols. What are you depending on to be happy, fulfilled, or secure?

Then Like the Blind Man:Orbie’s Story

About the Book:

Title: Then Like the Blind Man: Orbie’s Story
Author: Freddie Owens
Publisher: Blind Sight Publications
Pages: 332
Language: English
Genre: Historical Fiction/Coming of Age
Format: Paperback & eBook

A storm is brewing in the all-but-forgotten backcountry of Kentucky. And, for young Orbie Ray, the swirling heavens may just have the power to tear open his family’s darkest secrets. Then Like The Blind Man: Orbie’s Story is the enthralling debut novel by Freddie Owens, which tells the story of a spirited wunderkind in the segregated South of the 1950s and the forces he must overcome to restore order in his world. Rich in authentic vernacular and evocative of a time and place long past, this absorbing work of magical realism offered up with a Southern twist will engage readers who relish the Southern literary canon, or any tale well told.

Nine-year-old Orbie already has his cross to bear. After the sudden death of his father, his mother Ruby has off and married his father’s coworker and friend Victor, a slick-talking man with a snake tattoo. Since the marriage, Orbie, his sister Missy, and his mother haven’t had a peaceful moment with the heavy-drinking, fitful new man of the house. Orbie hates his stepfather more than he can stand; this fact lands him at his grandparents’ place in Harlan’s Crossroads, Kentucky, when Victor decides to move the family to Florida without including him. In his new surroundings, Orbie finds little to distract him from Granpaw’s ornery ways and constant teasing jokes about snakes.

As Orbie grudgingly adjusts to life with his doting Granny and carping Granpaw, who are a bit too keen on their black neighbors for Orbie’s taste, not to mention their Pentecostal congregation of snake handlers, he finds his world views changing, particularly when it comes to matters of race, religion, and the true cause of his father’s death. He befriends a boy named Willis, who shares his love of art, but not his skin color. And, when Orbie crosses paths with the black Choctaw preacher, Moses Mashbone, he learns of a power that could expose and defeat his enemies, but can’t be used for revenge. When a storm of unusual magnitude descends, he happens upon the solution to a paradox that is both magical and ordinary. The question is, will it be enough?

Equal parts Hamlet and Huckleberry Finn, it’s a tale that’s both rich in meaning, timely in its social relevance, and rollicking with boyhood adventure. The novel mines crucial contemporary issues, as well as the universality of the human experience while also casting a beguiling light on boyhood dreams and fears. It’s a well-spun, nuanced work of fiction that is certain to resonate with lovers of literary fiction, particularly in the grand Southern tradition of storytelling.

Purchase your copy at AMAZON

My Goodreads REVIEW

My Amazon REVIEW 

My Impressions

Word of caution: There is alot of language in this book and since it is wrote from the stand point of the 1950's, the use of the "n" word is used throughout.

Set in rural Kentucky in the 1950's the story fills you with a sense of chaos and tension from the very beginning. This is a wonderful coming of age story for a young boy named Orbie,a curious lad filled with wonder,  love and a child's understanding of the world around him. This story has alot of different themes running through it: love, forgiveness, mercy, domestic violence, sexual abuse, religion, discrimination, racial tensions, violence, murder, death and right in the middle of it all is Orbie. Trying to understand his place in all of this and searching to find himself. The characters are well thought out and developed to the point I wanted to yell at Ruby for her blindness toward the evil in Victor and hold Orbie and console him and his sister. I also liked how Freddie worked in the grandparents with an emphasis on the important role they play in mentoring children and establishing morals and values into them. The dialect was so wonderful that I found myself reading with certain accents as characters changed and it helped really submerse myself into the story and time period. 

4 out of 5 stars

About the Author:

A poet and fiction writer, my work has been published in Poet Lore, Crystal Clear and Cloudy, and Flying Colors Anthology. I am a past attendee of Pikes Peak Writer’s Conferences and the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, and a member of Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop in Denver, Colorado. In addition, I am/was a licensed professional counselor and psychotherapist, who for many years counseled perpetrators of domestic violence and sex offenders, and provided psychotherapy for individuals, groups and families. I hold a master’s degree in contemplative psychotherapy from Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado.
Freddie Owens’ latest book is Then Like the Blind Man: Orbie’s Story.
Visit his website at

Connect & Socialize with Freddie!

Author Interview: 
Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Then Like The Blind Man: Orbie's Story. What was your inspiration for it?
I witnessed my grandmother wring a chicken's neck when I was nine. It ran about the yard headless, spewing blood and flapping its wings as the life went out of it. For the chicken and for the boy I was too, there was something existentially irreversible about this, something horrific and final. I wanted to write about it, not so much just to describe the horrors of a chicken's death but to say something about how I, a nine-year-old, experienced these. I wanted to get into the skin of the little boy I remembered and try to write from his point of view, which turned out to be quite fascinating. An alive, vibrant and vivid livingness manifested that I, as an adult writer, could not have matched without on a daily basis trying to slip into the boy's world. This was not always easy to do, but once achieved, all sorts of possibilities for writing opened up. 
What do you hope readers will get from your book?
I want readers to enter the book's fictional world without disturbances or distractions of any kind. That is perhaps the main reason I chose to write it from Orbie Ray's point of view - so that the reader would identify with Orbie and begin to see the world as he does. I can think of no better way to get caught up in a story than this - to begin to see the world with fresh eyes, even if only borrowed for a time.

Did your book require a lot of research?
It is regarded as an historical novel by some - and I suppose in a way it is - but I never wrote it with this in mind. I imagine a truly historical work would require a lot of research - to get the time line and facts right and so forth. I did not have to do much research on Then Like The Blind Man however, I think because I wrote it as a work of literary fiction. Many of the facts I knew purely from memory, from having lived through the era. I did have to do a bit of research with regard to the Pentecostal and snake-handling religion of the South. I also had to run down little facts like whether or not a 1950 Ford car came with an automatic transmission, which it did as I found out. In fact, it was the first Ford car to be available with an automatic transmission. It also came with vinyl seats.

What do you do when your muse refuses to collaborate?
I wait her out. Truly. If I do nothing but stare at the screen for three hours, which I have done on more than a few occasions, I count it as a session. Something will come, always, eventually, if not on one particular day then on another. There is in such doggedness and discipline a kind of devotion that no muse worth her name can long ignore.
How do you keep your narrative exciting?
If one tries too hard to spice up the narrative I think the effort can backfire and produce a narrative that sounds contrived and oddly (ironically) tedious. In order for the story to be believable, its tone, its coloring must ring true; it must not distract the reader from his or her feeling of involvement, of participating in the evolution of the narrative. For excitement to exist there must be contrast. I think that if there's too much tweaking for excitement - like you get in certain 'high concept' movies where exciting scenes follow one another in a crescendo of special effects - everything starts to take on an oddly tedious pitch with little room for breath. And I think that's an important consideration. Readers need to breath. Writers need to as well.

Do you have a writing schedule? Are you disciplined?
I do schedule myself to be at a certain place at a certain time every day in order to write - except sometimes I take off for a day or two on the weekend. I try to be consistent. I write in the afternoon on some days; on others it may be in the morning, three hours at a stretch, sometimes longer. I regard my scheduled writing time as I would an appointment with a doctor or dentist, the only difference being that my doctor or dentist, i.e., my muse, doesn't always show up. It's important that I do however. If the she sees that I am present, she might deign to be present too. I could then count myself lucky. 
How do you define success?
I used to think that if I wrote a book I liked and was satisfied I had done everything possible to make it a worthy piece of writing and that if more than a handful of people liked it and of course some independent reviewers did too, then that would be success enough. I think I did achieve at least this much, even as an independently published author - but since the advent of this 'success', the issue of earned money and how many books sold, etc. has reared its ugly head. I find myself now stuck in a sort of marketing whorl that never seems to end. That sucks time and energy away from the actual work of writing - not at all what I had envisioned. Success becomes money becomes marketing becomes developing a platform and a brand and on and on and on. Success defined this way is so elusive as to be almost unachievable - unless of course one has large sums of money to throw at the problem. It gets to be like pleasure in life - relentlessly pursued, rarely realized and always followed by pain. One must remember not to forget to write!

Where is your book available? 

You can get my book on Amazon in either paperback or Kindle version here. There's also a website on which the book is further described. I've started a blog there as well. Finally, a link to the book's trailer on YouTube, which I'm proud of and think is pretty cool, is here .

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion and review from PumpUpYourBooks 

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