Monthly Archives: February 2021

The Mirror by Neerav Harsh Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

An unnamed man goes through a psychological journey as he comes into contact with a man in a mirror, and sees two realities come shattering together in author Neerav Harsh’s “The Mirror”.


The Synopsis

This is the story of an unnamed man. One morning, he looks into the mirror and finds someone else looking back at him. His first reaction was not to jump into an adventure to unravel this mystery. He chooses to keep it under wraps. He is worried that it may affect his prospects of an upcoming promotion at work and tries to function normally in his dysfunctional marriage of 5 years to Lina. But the secret comes out and brings with it its own complications. It is learned that this, not the first time. The last time this happened, he was young. He was in school then.

For the safety of everyone, the man is locked inside a room. It is there that he first interacts with the man in the mirror (also unnamed) which opens a pandora’s box. His reality shifts constantly between the present and his childhood. He had always found the inside of a pea a little special. His mental journey to get rid of the outer layer is the center of this story. Slowly he starts losing touch with reality and the relationships he has outside of the room. What he doesn’t know is what changes as he loses this outer cover.

The Review

This is a short yet powerful and thoughtful thriller. The obscurity of the main character does a fantastic job of adding to the mystery and suspense of this narrative, while the author’s thought-provoking layering of the themes allows readers to go back and re-read chapters to see the things that may have been missed previously.

The themes themselves are so powerful and lend well to the emotional core of this narrative. Themes of identity, reality, and looking back and dealing with regret and what may have been all come crashing down around the protagonist as his life and the reality he knew begin to deteriorate the further and further he goes on this journey to understand the man in the mirror. 

The Verdict

An emotional, chilling, and psychologically deep narrative, author Neerav Harsh’s “The Mirror” is a must-read short story/novella. The reader will be enthralled with the author’s natural world-building and pacing in such a short yet powerful read and will want to read more of the author’s work to be sure. If you haven’t yet be sure to grab your copy of this amazing story today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Neerav is a trained salesman selling innovations by the day. He wrote his first poem at the age of 10.

He lives and works out of his home in Mumbai (India) and spends the holidays traveling and exploring the world with his beautiful wife, Rini.

A serious daydreamer, he can spend lazy afternoons dreaming of anything under the sun and beyond. He loves history, physics, philosophy. His favorite questions are 1. What is going on? Has this happened before? So, where is it all heading?

Guest Blog Post: Why the Title of a Story Matters By Jennifer Zhang

“What’s in a name?” Shakespeare asked. 

“Potentially the difference between a blockbuster and a flop, kid!” Hollywood answered, chewing on a cigar and pouring two fingers of scotch.

In all seriousness, it is unfortunately true that more than a few cinematic gems have been buried by their lackluster titles. A good title, by contrast, can get someone to click on a trailer, read a two-sentence description that can clinch the deal, or fill a theater seat on the power of the curiosity it has inspired alone. 

At the very least, a good title gets a moviegoer to ask, “tell me more”… and a really good title gets a moviegoer to say, “Okay, show me.”

And this is why Blake Snyder emphasizes in Save the Cat! – his methodology that revolutionized the language of storytelling – that you are not tasked with simply coming up with a title for your movie. 

You’re tasked with giving your movie a killer title.

It’s a mission so important—so absolutely paramount—that we hammer it home in great detail in the “Cracking the Beat Sheet” online course. We also offer an arsenal of tips and pointers because, after all, imagine pouring your heart and soul into writing a story for the ages, pulling every string to get it into the hands of a decision-maker (or at least an intern) at a production company or major studio, only to have them look at the title, and with a “meh,” toss it onto the “maybe later” (maybe never) pile.

Tragedy! One that would ruffle even Shakespeare’s… ruffles! So let’s prevent it!

“Legally Blond”

“The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”

“Fight Club”

We all know a good title when we read one. But what makes a title good? 

Years ago, Blake offered us an important clue to cracking that case. He pointed out that “a good title must say what it is! and yet give us a fresh, intriguing invitation to your party that gives us a hint of the type and tone of the festivities we’re about to attend. And that’s some tight writing right there.“

So as you can see—and as many of us have had the displeasure of experiencing—it’s no easy task, nor is it a small one. And to prove that it’s a task on which even the biggest films may stumble and fall, allow me to share the example we use in the Save the Cat! “Cracking the Beat Sheet” course:

In 2014, Tom Cruise starred in a movie called Edge of Tomorrow, which was phenomenal by both audience and critics’ accounts with a 90% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The premise was basically Groundhog’s Day in the middle of an alien invasion. A man with no combat experience is forced to relive the same day over and over again until he can figure out how to thwart a devastating extraterrestrial attack. 

The problem was, none of the excitement of that premise was hinted at or captured with the title “Edge of Tomorrow,” slick as it sounded. And one of the most vocal lamenters of the title’s failure was Doug Liman, the film’s director. He openly blamed this title, which was forced on the film, for the movie’s disappointing box office returns. 

“I ended up having to call the person (the Warner Bros. executive) and apologize for pointing out that they were wrong,” he said. “And they started titling it the title I always thought it should have, which is Live Die Repeat. But they tiptoed around it, and when we make the sequel, it’ll be permanently titled Live Die Repeat. The sequel will be Live Die Repeat and Repeat.”

Guess what? That’s a title that says what the movie is. 

Hopefully, you’re now fully convinced that a title matters a great deal, and you’re mentally running the “Say What It Is” test on your current script titles.  

And if you still only find yourself on the edge of inspiration, we’ve packed our online course with wisdom and tricks to tip you over.  

Happy writing! Or shall we say… live, write, repeat! 



Jennifer Zhang is a screenwriter and filmmaker who wrote, produced and sold her award-winning debut feature “The Evil Inside” shortly after working with Blake Snyder and adopting Save the Cat! storytelling principles in her screenwriting. She is the instructor featured in the Cracking the Beat Sheet” online course, and has most recently garnered early festival buzz for her feature-length independent thriller “Charon” which has picked up multiple official selections and “Best Writer” nominations.

About Save the Cat!

Save the Cat!® is the bestselling story methodology introduced by screenwriter Blake Snyder in 2005 with his first book, Save the Cat!. Snyder’s acclaimed ideas, methods, and software have provided thousands of writers with the resources they need to develop their screenplays and novels.

Save the Cat!’s

WOW! WOMEN ON WRITING TOUR OF Cracking the Beat Sheet


Story Development Cards

Tour Begins February 22nd

First, what is Save the Cat!®? 

Save the Cat! provides writers the resources they need to develop their screenplays and novels based on a series of best-selling books, primarily written by Blake Snyder (1957- 2009). Blake’s method is based on 10 distinctive genres and his 15 story beats (the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet). Our books, workshops, story structure software, apps, and story coaching teach you everything you need to unlock the fundamentals and mechanics of plot and character transformation. 

Find out more about Save the Cat! by visiting their webpage at

About the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet Online Course

This course is designed for writers to turn their idea into a movie or novel. This learn-at-your-own-pace online class helps you develop the 15 key “beats” or “plot points” of your story. Strung together, in the right order, these 15 beats make up the blueprint to a successful screenplay or novel. 

You’ll Turn an Idea into a Story by Learning to… 

• Create a solid beat sheet that will serve as the road map, and “backbone” of your story 

• Identify and know the key components of your story genre • Learn the clichés of your genre so that you can break them like an artist 

• Plot your hero’s journey and “transformation” • Troubleshoot your story idea for viability 

• Write a compelling logline or elevator pitch 

This Course Is for Those Who… 

• Want to troubleshoot an existing story 

• Have so many great ideas and struggle to choose “the one” 

• Are ready to write but not sure how to start 

• Are determined to finish a half-written story 

• Want to learn 

This Course Includes… 

• Over 3 hours and 17 minutes of original video production 

• 9 downloadable worksheets • 3 reading assignments (book not included) 

• 4 homework assignments 

Course Value: $59 

Find out more information about the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet Online Course by visiting

About Save the Cat! Story Cards

Introducing Save the Cat!®Story Cards, consisting of Save the Cat! Beat Cards and Save the Cat! Scene Cards, all designed to outline and develop your story. 

Save the Cat! Beat Cards 

Crack your story from the “Opening Image” to the “Final Image.” Save the Cat!® Beat Cards provide writers with the 15 key plot points to map out your script or novel. Every set contains 15 individual index cards with helpful explanations of each beat to form the foundation of your story. 

Save the Cat! Scene Cards 

Every scene of your story needs to communicate “place,” “basic action,” “emotional transformation,” and “outcome.” The Save the Cat!® Scene Cards help writers nail the purpose of every scene. Each set of cards contains 40 color-coded cards broken down by act, with 10 extra cards because we know you’ll need them. 

Cards Value: $10.95 

Find out more information about Story Cards at

More information about Save the Cat!:

Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet Online Course

Save the Cat! Website

Save the Cat! Best-Selling Books

Save the Cat! Story Cards


– Blog Tour Dates

February 22nd @ The Muffin

What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Grab your coffee and join us today over at our blog, where we launch another blog tour for Save the Cat! We talk about their online course and their story cards, interview the Save the Cat team, and host a special giveaway you don’t want to miss.

February 23rd @ Cathy Stucker’s Selling Books

Join Cathy as she reviews the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet Course. Perfect if you want to finally outline your novel!

February 23rd @ And So She Thinks

Join Francesca and read her review of the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet Course. You don’t want to miss this!

February 24th @ Chapters Through Life

Visit Danielle’s blog as she reviews her experience with the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet Course.

February 24th @ Margay Leah Justice

Join Margay as she reviews the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course and the Story Cards.

February 25th @ Author Anthony Avina

Join Anthony as he shares a Save the Cat! guest post about why the title of a story matters.

February 26th @ Writer Unboxed

Join Therese as she reviews the Save the Cat! writing course Cracking the Beat Sheet. Don’t miss it!

February 27th @ Jessica Samuels

Join Jessica as she shares her insights into the Save the Cat! Story Cards.

February 28th @ The Faerie Review

Visit Lily’s blog as she reviews the Save the Cat! Story Cards and shares her insights into the Cracking the Beat Sheet course.

March 1st @ Michelle Cornish

Join Michelle as she reviews the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course.

March 1st @ Memoir Writer’s Journey

Kathy shares the Save the Cat guest post discussing stress testing dialogue and scene.

March 2nd @ Cathy Stucker’s Selling Books

Visit Cathy’s blog again as she reviews the Save the Cat! Story Cards! Find out how this item will help you storyboard your novel.

March 3rd @ Knotty Needle

Visit Judy’s blog as she reviews the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet and the Save the Cat! Story Cards.

March 4th @ Author Anthony Avina

Visit Anthony’s blog where you can read his experience with the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course.

March 5th @ Quill and Books

Visit Kathryn’s blog and read her review of the Save the Cat! Story Cards.

March 7th @ Sioux’s Page

Join Sioux as she reviews the Save the Cat! Story Cards and her experience with the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course.

March 7th @ Help Me Naomi

Visit Naomi’s blog today and you can read her review of the Save the Cat! Story Cards and the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course.

March 8th @ World of My Imagination

Guest writer, Stephanie Anne, reviews the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course and Save the Cat! Story Cards on Nicole’s blog World of My Imagination.

March 9th @ Cathy Stucker’s Selling Books

Visit Cathy’s blog again where you can read a guest post from the Save the Cat! team about why structure is a friend, not a formula.

March 9th @ Sandy Kirby Quandt

Sandy shares her review of the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course and the Save the Cat! Story Cards.

March 10th @ Brooke’s Reviews and Sweeps

Join Brooke as she reviews the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course and the Save the Cat! Story Cards.

March 11th @ Jill Sheet’s Blog

Visit Jill’s blog today and check out her insights into the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course and the Save the Cat! Story Cards.

March 12th @ Finished Pages

Join Renee as she reviews her experience with the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet online course.

March 13th @ Writer Unboxed

Visit Therese’s blog again as she reviews the Save the Cat! Story Cards. You’ll want to check these out if you want to storyboard your novel!

March 14th @ The Margate Bookie

You’ll definitely want to catch today’s guest post where Save the Cat! discusses the power of the writer’s board.

March 15th @ My Heart is Booked

Join Danielle today where she reviews the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course and the Save the Cat! story cards.

March 15th @ LM Harley

Visit Laura’s blog and check out her review of the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course.

March 18th @ Cathy C. Hall Writes

Join Cathy as she shares her thoughts about the Save the Cat! Story Cards.

March 19th @ One Writer’s Journey

Visit Sue’s blog today as she shares her insights into the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet online course.

March 21st @ World of My Imagination

Join Nicole and read her review of the Save the Cat! Story Cards.

March 22nd @ Mint Miller Writes

Mint Miller treats us to a review of the Save the Cat! Story Cards. Don’t miss it!

March 23rd @ Karen Brown Tyson

Join Karen as shares a Save the Cat guest post discussing the benefits of using a board.

March 25th @ WOW’s Editor Blog

You don’t want to miss WOW’s editor-in-chief, Angela Mackintosh’ review of the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet online course.

March 26th @ World of My Imagination

Writer Kate Mahony is a guest reviewer at World of My Imagination and she shares her thoughts about the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course.

March 27th @ Joyful Antidotes

Visit Joy’s blog today where you can read her review of the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet online course.

Interview questions from Anthony Avina

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I started my career as a volunteer teacher in Sabah, Malaysia (North Borneo) during 1968-70. There, I became an international filmmaker and later a multimedia producer, working for development agencies and living in or traveling to countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and Russia until 2013. I had written three technical books and many journal articles during my career, for example on the role of communication in defeating the HIV/AIDS epidemic. But I never had time to write creatively until I retired. After my wife and I moved to Albuquerque in 2015, I began by attending Master’s-level workshops in creative nonfiction and poetry at the University of New Mexico. That’s when I started writing my Borneo memoir, Finding Myself in Borneo, and Guns and Gods in My Genes I drafted short pieces for review by my professor and fellow students in those workshops, and revised them after feedback. I also joined another evening workshop at the university on writing an outline for Guns and Gods in My Genes. This was helpful in focusing the manuscript on those very themes.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

After I retired from my main career, I visited my aging mother in Ontario, traveling from our home in Maryland a few times a year. My dad, who died in 2007, was always interested in family history but never had the time nor the skills to do much research or writing. I discovered the beginnings of interesting stories in his old files, and I reached out to cousins, one living uncle, and three remaining aunts. I found many leads on both sides of the family and interviewed family members, picking up more stories, photos, and records. One cousin, to whom the book is dedicated, had done a lot of the research leading to the Mayflower connection in the US. That’s when I knew I had another book to write, but I had to do or commission a lot more research to determine if the genetic connections were correct. Many more interesting ancestors emerged as I progressed, especially through the female lineage.

I wanted to write a book with wide appeal to anyone interested in genealogy and history, or searching their own family’s roots. I decided to do it on the theme of “guns and gods” and by “gods” I mean different interpretations of religion – largely Christianity – in North American history, and my discovery of some “godly” ancestors in my genes, as well as a real “rowdy man” and some who killed and enslaved Indians in New England in the 1600s. I believe focusing on some themes, such as these, is important. There are a lot of family stories that I left out. They are entertaining but not part of the themes I chose.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

One theme or message I would like readers to take away is that history and genealogy does not have to be boring if you reveal stories bit by bit and don’t overwhelm readers with long lists and many names of “who begat whom” in the first chapter. Besides online research, I dug up real stories of my ancestors and traveled to the places where they lived to meet historians and distant cousins who had more records and stories. I also read many historical works of interesting events that happened at the time my ancestors lived. For instance, I went to the actual location where my great-grandfather, Lafayette Haskins, was wounded in the Battle of the Wilderness in the Civil War. I walked beside the remains of Confederate trenches on a hill from which my ancestor was fired upon as he and his comrades were advancing up a hill. He was hit in the leg, thus ending his three years in the Union Army’s 7th Wisconsin Regiment. By going to the place where that happened, and walking down the hill into the woods, an eerie feeling came over me, allowing me to feel something of the pain and bewilderment he must have felt. This kind of experience happened many times during my travels.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

By genre, I believe you mean creative nonfiction memoir. I became involved because I have had such a rich and varied experience in life, both in my childhood and my 45-year career traveling and working all around the globe. In my mid-70s, I am lucky to have the health and good memory to write about experiences in a creative, nonlinear way. During my career, I wrote technical books and articles in my field and wanted to do something different during my final years. Creative nonfiction seemed to be a natural thing for me. I was never much interested in fiction, except for watching movies for relaxation.

5) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

1) Be prepared for very hard work. I put in about seven hours of research, writing, corresponding, and promotion per day and seldom take a day off (especially now with Covid-19 lockdown – a surprisingly good time for concentrated work since few distractions are possible).

2) Get reviews from readers and other writers before you publish, and make revisions accordingly, if you feel they are helpful. After all, readers should know. In my former communication work we call it “pretesting.”

3) If you have five or more years to wait, you can try to get a publisher. I had a couple of late offers for my Borneo memoir but the companies involved wanted to start over on the editing and didn’t want to put any money into promotion. With a good literary editor, copy editor, and designer, I set up my own publishing company, and print and distribute through IngramSpark This company sends out your book and e-book files to many distributors: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. It is one way to begin no matter what age you are. You have to be prepared to put a lot of time into promotion, however. I think that is the case for any author, for about 1,000 new titles are released in all genres in North American each day.

6) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

Since 2015, I have been working on another title as well, a prequel to my Borneo memoir, the manuscript of which is presently out for review and I expect it to be released later this year. Here’s a description:

Kid on the Go! Memoir of my life before Borneo is Neill McKee’s third work in creative nonfiction. It is a prequel to his first work in the genre, the award-winning Finding Myself in Borneo: Sojourns in Sabah. In this short book, McKee takes readers on a journey through his childhood, early adolescence, and teenage years, while growing up in the small industrially-polluted town of Elmira in Southern Ontario, Canada—now infamous as one of the centers for production of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. Each chapter is set to a different theme on how he learned to keep “on the go” to escape the smells coming from the town’s chemical factory and other pollutants, including manure from surrounding farms. McKee’s vivid descriptions, dialog, and self-drawn illustrations, provide much humor and poignant moments in his stories of growing up in a loving family. In a way, the book is a travel memoir through both mental and physical space—a study of a young boy’s learning to observe and avoid dangers; to cope with death in the family; to fish, hunt, play cowboys; to learn the value of work and how to build and repair “escape” vehicles. The memoir explores his experiences with exploding hormones, his first attraction to girls, dealing with bullying, how he rebelled against religion and authority and survived the conformist teenager “rock & roll” culture of the early 1960s, coming out the other side with the help of influential teachers and mentors. After finally leaving his hometown, McKee describes his rather directionless but intensely searching years at university. Except for an emotional and revealing postscript, the story ends when he departs to become a volunteer teacher on the Island of Borneo—truly a “kid on the go!”



Guns and Gods in My Genes

Tour Begins February 15th

Book Summary

Neill McKee, author of the award-winning travel memoir Finding Myself in Borneo, takes the reader through 400 years and 15,000 miles of an on-the-road adventure, discovering stories of his Scots-Irish ancestors in Canada, while uncovering their attitudes towards religion and guns. 

His adventure turns south and west as he follows the trail of his maternal grandfather, a Canadian preacher who married an American woman in Wisconsin, and braved the American Wild West from 1904 to 1907, finding a two-story brothel across from one of his churches and a sheriff who owned a saloon and dance hall, while carrying a gun with 20 notches, one for each man he had killed. 

Much to his surprise, McKee finds his American ancestors were involved in every major conflict on North American soil: the Civil War, the American Revolution, and the French and Indian War. In the last chapters, McKee discovers and documents his Pilgrim ancestors who arrived on the Mayflower, landing at Plymouth in 1620, and their Puritan descendants who fought in the early Indian Wars of New England. 

With the help of professional genealogical research, he tracks down and tells the stories of the heroes, villains, rascals, as well as, the godly and ordinary folk in his genes, discovering many facts and exposing myths. He also lets readers in on a personal struggle: whether to apply for Canadian-United States dual citizenship or remain only a Canadian.

Print Length: 352 Pages

Genre: Historical Travel Memoir

ISBN-13: 9781732945739

Guns and Gods in My Genes is available to purchase now on

About the Author, Neill McKee

Neill McKee is a creative nonfiction writer based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His first travel memoir, Finding Myself in Borneo, won a bronze medal in the Independent Publishers Book Awards, 2020, as well as other awards. McKee holds a Bachelor’s Degree, from the University of Calgary and a Master’s Degree in Communication from Florida State University. He worked internationally for 45 years, becoming an expert in the field of communication for social change. He directed and produced a number of award-winning documentary films/videos and multimedia initiatives, and has written numerous articles and books in the field of development communication. During his international career, McKee worked for Canadian University Service Overseas (CUSO); Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC); UNICEF; Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland; Academy for Educational Development and FHI 360, Washington, DC. He worked and lived in Malaysia, Bangladesh, Kenya, Uganda, and Russia for a total of 18 years and traveled to over 80 countries on short-term assignments. In 2015, he settled in New Mexico, using his varied experiences, memories, and imagination in creative writing.

Find him online at:

Author’s website:





Blog Tour Dates

February 15th @ The Muffin

What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Grab your coffee and join us as we talk to author Neill McKee and celebrate the launch of his blog tour for his travel memoir, Guns and Gods in My Genes. You can also enter to win a copy of the book yourself!

February 17th @ Choices

Join Madeline today as she spotlights Neill McKee’s travel memoir Guns and Gods in My Genes.

February 20th @ Bring on Lemons

Turn lemons into lemonade by visiting Crystal’s blog today, where you can read her honest review of Neill McKees insightful memoir, Guns and Gods in My Genes.

February 22nd @ CloudsGirls27 Reads Books

Join Melissa as she reads Neill McKee’s memoir Guns and Gods in My Genes.

February 24th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Come by Anthony’s blog today where he interviews author Neill McKee about his memoir Guns and Gods in My Genes.

February 25th @ What is That Book About

Michelle spotlights Neill McKee’s book Guns and Gods in My Genes.

February 26th @ Lisa Haselton’s Book Reviews & Interviews

Visit Lisa’s blog today where she interviews author Neill McKee about his book Guns and Gods in My Genes.

February 27th @ Boots, Shoes, and Fashion

Join Linda as she treats us to an interview with author Neill McKee and chats with him about his memoir Guns and Gods in My Genes. She also shares some insights about the book!

February 28th @ Lilly’s Book Wonderland

Join Lilly as she shares her insights into Neill McKee’s fascinating travel memoir Guns and Gods in My Genes.

March 1st @ World of My Imagination

Light up your imagination when you visit Nicole’s blog today! She shares her insights into Neill McKee’s memoir Guns and Gods in My Genes.

March 3rd @ Joy Neal Kidney’s Blog

Make sure you stop by Joy’s blog today and read her review of Neill McKee’s memoir Guns and Gods in My Genes.

March 3rd @ Memoir Memoir

Visit John’s blog today and you can read his review of Nell McKee’s memoir Guns and Gods in My Genes.

March 5th @ A Storybook World

Deirdra spotlights Neill McKee’s profound memoir Guns and Gods in My Genes.

March 8th @ Memoir Writer’s Journey

Join Kathy as she reviews Neill McKee’s memoir Guns and Gods in My Genes.

March 11th @ The Frugalista Mom

Join Rozelyn as she reviews Neill McKee’s fascinating memoir Guns and Gods in My Genes. You can also win a copy of the book too!

March 12th @ Memoir Revolution

March 14th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Join Anthony again when he reviews Neill McKee’s memorable memoir Guns and Gods in My Genes.

March 15th @ My Writer Blog

Join Carole as she reviews Neill McKee’s memoir Guns and Gods in My Genes.

March 16th @ Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire

Set your reading list on fire with Mindy McGinnis as she spotlights Neil McKee’s memoir Guns and Gods in My Genes. You also have the chance to win a copy of this fascinating book!

The Breakthrough In Two Acts: Breaking the Spell of Painful Emotions and Finding The Calm in the Present Moment by Frederic C. Hartman Audiobook Tour And Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Author Frederic C. Hartman utilizes a unique format of storytelling to explore deeper themes of human consciousness and emotion in the audiobook, “The Breakthrough In Two Acts”. 


The Synopsis 

In The Breakthrough in Two Acts, Dr. Fredric C. Hartman paints a compelling picture of emotional pain and its context within the human mind and brain. Set in the dramatic backdrop of a therapy session as a stage play, featuring Dr. Hartman as the psychologist and Human Consciousness itself as “the patient,” this is a practical guide for anyone locked within the grip of troubling memories and pain.

In his play, Dr. Hartman tells the story about our vulnerability to painful emotions, which flare up from the depths of our brains, casting spells over us. As the play unfolds, he develops two new experiences to help strengthen our consciousness: one, by actively breaking the spell of the two thoughts that lie at the heart—and generate the distress—in each of our negative emotions, and two, by embracing the strange, fleeting collection of conditions that come along with the present moments of our lives as they each flash by.

The Breakthrough in Two Acts is a complete, entertaining, practical plan for how to use one ‘part’ of our brain—consciousness—to quiet down another, chronically overheated ‘part’—the limbic system—which has ravaged our species with troubles ranging from emotional illness to war. Here is a blueprint for how to overcome emotional pain and embrace a calmer and more fulfilling way to experience life.

The Review

A powerful and thought-provoking read, the author does a fantastic job of finding a unique and creative way of delving into the study of emotions and their effect on consciousness by establishing a play of sorts, in which he takes on the role of a doctor while his “patient” is consciousness itself. Through this play, the author examines such questions as, “What is the mind and how does it work?”, as well as “Why do we have such powerful emotional breakthroughs?”. 

One of the most profound examinations came when Hartman himself examined what exactly got in the way of us making the changes to confront and rid ourselves of painful emotions. In the end, the author discovered that our society as a whole teaches us to ignore these negative emotions and refuses to make the work needed to keep a healthy and organized mind any sort of priority in our lives. The journey to get to this realization was powerfully written and narrated and did a brilliant job of bringing the discussion to life as the narrator and “consciousness” came to life in our minds. 

The Verdict

A memorable, engaging, and as entertaining as it is educational, author Frederic C. Hartman’s “The Breakthrough In Two Acts” is a must-listen and commanding audiobook. The narrators do a great job of delivering an almost cinematic experience that feels like a real play is being put on, putting the listener in a theater of the mind, while the information being provided does a great job of exploring the human psyche and the powerful impact emotions can have on us all. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of this remarkable read/listen today!

Rating: 10/10


Author: Fredric C. Hartman PhD

Narrator: Stefan Rudnicki, Gabrielle de Cuir, & Justine Eyre

Length: 6 hours 34 minutes

Publisher: Skyboat Media

Released: Dec. 15, 2020

Genre: Self-Development

Continue reading

Author Interview with JP McLean

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I grew up in Toronto, Ontario and moved to Vancouver, British Columbia to attend university. Within days, I knew I’d make the west coast my home. I fell in love with the mountains and the ocean and the vast rainforest. Where else can you ski, sail, and hike on the same day? I studied business and worked in human resources after I graduated. When we moved to our current home on Denman Island, I took a five-year hiatus to travel with my husband. 

I started writing professionally after we returned to the west coast. We’d spent five consecutive winters in the sunny south, two in Mexico and three in Arizona. It was late fall, and after we unpacked and settled back into the house, I found myself staring out at the cold, grey, rain-drizzled deck. The days were still getting shorter and the wet weather had just begun. I knew I needed to do something to keep from going stir-crazy. That’s when I started forming the story that would eventually become Secret Sky. And though there have been many bumps along the road since then, I’ve never looked back.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

While I was travelling, I got thoroughly hooked on urban fantasy. There were days I couldn’t put my book down—I’d be stirring a pot with one hand and holding a book in the other. I loved the idea of magic, supernatural abilities, and the paranormal. So, my inspiration were authors I was reading at the time, Deborah Harkness and her All Souls Trilogy, Charlaine Harris’s True Blood series, Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood, Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, and anything by Terry Pratchett or Neil Gaiman.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

If there is a message in these books, it’s perseverance. It’s about getting back up when you’re knocked down. It’s not giving up when you make mistakes but carrying on. I hope I’m able to capture the readers’ imaginations and create a sense of magic for them, an escape, a little vacation from the daily grind.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I’ve always been keenly interested in the supernatural, the paranormal, and magic. I’m especially drawn to stories where the supernatural walk among us. I think that’s because I would love to possess those supernatural abilities—oh, to be able to fly! And when supernatural beings are hidden within everyday society, then maybe—just maybe—they really exist. That feeling of possibility is what I want to create in my writing. It’s escapism, and we could all use a little more of that.

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

I’d like to sit down with Jolene Reynolds. She’s the woman who gifted Emelynn her supernatural abilities. When Jolene gifted Emelynn, she risked her own life. The transfer would have left her physically weakened and the odds are against her survival. The books haven’t told Jolene’s story (or not yet!) so if she survived, I’d like to ask her why she gave her gift away. I can’t imagine the emotional struggle and the pain she endured to get to the point where she’d give away such a wondrous gift, and risk her life to do so.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

It’s difficult to trace where the readers originate. My two main platforms are Twitter and Facebook. I probably have more engagement on Twitter, but people know me better on Facebook. So, it’s a tossup. Writers who are wiser than me suggest sticking to one platform that you enjoy and giving it your full attention. Wish I could be more helpful.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Write what you love because writing takes endurance. You’ll need to love what you’re writing to push through the inevitable difficult patches. And don’t wait for a big idea or the entire story. Write that one scene that is stuck in your mind or create that one character. You’ll be surprised how that simple act will spur your creativity.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

Yes! I’ve just finished writing a new book called Blood Mark. It’s the story of a young woman who bears a chain of scarlet birthmarks. The birthmarks are disfiguring, so she’s thrilled when, one by one, the marks begin to disappear—until she learns that the hated marks protect her from a mysterious and homicidal enemy. Now, she’s in a race against time to find this dangerous enemy before her last mark vanishes.


About the Author

JP (Jo-Anne) McLean is an urban fantasy and supernatural  

thriller author best known for The Gift Legacy series. The  

first book of the series received Honourable Mention at the  

Whistler Independent Book Awards. Her short story, Boone  

Park, won Honourable mention from the Victoria Writers’  

Society. Reviewers call her writing addictive, smart and fun.  

Her books include endorsements from Ethel Wilson award 

winning author Jennifer Manuel and bestselling author,  

Elinor Florence. The series has been described as fantasy  

light and is a good introduction to the genre for the  


JP’s body of work was included in the centennial anthology  

of the Comox Valley Writers Society, Writers & Books:  

Comox Valley 1865–2015. She is a member of the  

Federation of BC Writers and the Alliance of Independent  

Authors. Her articles have appeared in WordWorks  

Magazine, Wellness and Writing hosted by Colleen M  

Story, Mystery Mondays blog hosted by Kristina Stanley,  

and others.

Jo-Anne holds a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from the University of British Columbia’s Sauder  School of Business, is a certified scuba diver, an avid gardener, and a voracious reader. She had a  successful career in Human Resources before turning her attention to writing. 

JP lives on Denman Island, nestled between the coast of British Columbia and Vancouver Island.  Raised in Toronto, Ontario, JP has lived in various parts of North America from Mexico and Arizona  to Alberta and Ontario before settling on Canada’s west coast. 

You can reach her through her website at

Minor Assassin by Jackiem Joyner Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young boy who witnesses a horrific event is taken in and trained for the day he can deliver retribution in author Jackiem Joyner’s “Minor Assassin”.


The Synopsis

Jon’s carefree life in the suburbs of Las Vegas is turned upside down by a horrific crime, but he’s only eight years old — how can a kid fight back and hope to win?

Taken in by mysterious strangers, Jon starts a new life in a secluded village, but can he trust them to help him do what needs to be done? When Jon learns what really happened back home, a terrible resolve hardens inside him.

Will he ever be able to deliver his retribution? Transformation — when it comes — is irrevocable. Will he find his enemy? And can he survive long enough to reunite with what is left of his family?

Features Spy tech, intense martial arts, and weaponry

The Review

A powerful blend of action, vengeance, and family, author Jackiem Joyner does a fantastic job of showcasing powerful character development and almost cinematic level action and adventure. The novel takes the classic vengeance story to new heights, exploring what happens when a young boy must quickly grow up faster than he should, and instead become a weapon to take out his enemies. 

The unique part of protagonist Jon’s story is the fact that he experiences both painful loss and a mission to save the only family he has left, giving him a powerful motivation to not only endure the training he is introduced to but to put himself in danger to save the lives of the innocent. The author does a great job of utilizing powerful imagery to bring Jon’s story to life, creating vivid scenes of action and suspense throughout the narrative. From Jon’s emotional and bloody journey to his sister Jayna’s fight for survival and a detective’s mission to uncover the truth, the author has crafted a powerful new adventure like no other.

The Verdict

The Punisher meets Taken and Kick-Ass in author Jackiem Joyner’s bloody, action-fueled, and evenly-paced thriller “Minor Assassins”. The novel’s fast-paced character development and expert blending of imagery make this a memorable read, filled with gritty fight scenes, emotional scenes as Jon must grow up in the face of tragedy, and a heart-racing finale that will leave readers on the edge of their seat. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Jackiem Joyner has loved Science Fiction ever since he was a child, fascinated by all the stories and imaginations of futuristic worlds. But it wasn’t until later in his life, after experiencing huge success in the recording business, that he decided to put pen to paper – the result of which is his debut novel, Zarya.

Gathering from his experiences traveling the world as a recording artist, he developed a knack for good science fiction stories after reading several books a month. Having used and operated many devices from the future, he incorporated exciting equipment and imaginary scientific ideas into dramatic thrillers that are sure to keep readers on edge.

Jackiem was born in Norfolk, Virginia and spent most of his young adult life in Syracuse New York before moving to Los Angeles, California where he currently resides. In addition to writing fun stories, Jackiem Joyner has experienced huge success as a recording artist, with multiple songs peaking at number 1 on the billboard charts and 5 international records released.

The Smoke in His Eyes by Shane Wilson Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young musician who endures powerful hallucinations after witnessing a traumatic event as a child must discover where inspiration originates from in author Shane Wilson’s magical realism novel, “The Smoke In His Eyes”.


The Synopsis

When TJ—a musical prodigy—witnesses a traumatic event as a child, his senses are overrun with intense hallucinations. Over the years, his visions increase in frequency and intensity, but he hides them from those he is closest to, including his best friend and musical partner, Lila, who challenges TJ to reject formulaic creation in order to create something beautiful and unique. But when Lila signs a record deal, TJ feels left behind and alone with his art and his visions.

That’s when TJ meets an artist named Muna. In his eyes and visions, Muna is made of smoke, and as this magical woman helps him learn how to manage his visions and how to translate what he sees and hears into music and lyrics, she begins to disappear. His journey into Muna’s past is a journey to discover where inspiration originates and what happens to an artist when that inspiration is gone.

The Review

A truly powerful and emotional read, the author does a great job of embracing the magical realism genre in this book. The novel does a fantastic job of establishing a fully realistic and heartbreaking world for protagonist TJ early on, as the reader not only sees the traumatic event unfold in his childhood but sees the signs of the troubled life TJ endures for most of his life. 

While the magical element of the story and the relationship developed with Muna becomes a crucial part of TJ’s journey, the real heart of the story is his relationship with Lila. The author does a great job of balancing the story by showcasing the emotional struggle of both TJ and Lila, seeing the relationship from both points of view as love and music intertwine their friendship and romance throughout the narrative. What really stands out is how the author is able to capture the darkness and emotional toll that creatives, especially musicians, often endure in life, and brings it into a magical realism world to help highlight the power behind some of the great inspirations musicians can endure. 

The Verdict

A breathtaking, expertly written, and emotionally-driven read, author Shane Wilson’s “The Smoke in His Eyes” is a must-read novel. An evenly-paced read that explores the complexities and emotions that often come from a musician’s journey to find inspiration and love, the author has crafted intimate and engaging narrative readers and fans of the magical realism genre will not want to miss. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Born in Alabama and raised in Georgia, Shane is a child of the southeastern United States where he feels simultaneously at-home and out-of-place. He graduated from Valdosta State University in south Georgia with a Masters in English. He taught college English in Georgia for four years before moving to North Carolina in 2013.

No matter the temperature outside, there is always an iced coffee in his hand when he walks into class in the mornings. He tends to chase the day with a whiskey and a re-run of The Office.

Shane has published poetry in Tethered by Letters and the Stonepile Writers’ Anthology, Volume III. He is currently at work on a new novel as well as a collection of short stories based on the mythos of and set in the same town as A Year Since the Rain.

Reborn by Jenna Greene Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young woman destined for a life as a slave risks everything to save a young girl facing a horrific fate in author Jenna Greene’s “Reborn”. 


The Synopsis

Those who bear marks on their skin are doomed to a life of slavery. Lexil has seven.

Sold into servitude, Lexil must deal with brutal punishments, back-breaking labor, and the loss of every freedom. When a young child she has befriended faces a horrible fate, Lexil must intervene to protect her, no matter what the risk.

With the help of a boy named Finn, the trio flee into the Wastelands. There, they must evade those who hunt them while trying to survive a barren landscape. Lexil must face challenges she’s never imagined existed, all while learning what it means to truly be reborn.

The Red Queen meets The Hunger Games in this stunning new release. Buy REBORN now to find out if being branded a reborn is a myth, a curse… or a destiny.

The Review

A fantastic blend of fantasy and dystopian thriller, author Jennifer Greene has crafted an engaging world where the fight for freedom takes on a whole new meaning. Exploring a world where those born with marks on their bodies are known as Reborns, those who have lived past lives, and are considered property to serve the Once-Borns, this novel does an expert job of crafting wholly original mythology and a memorable cast of characters.

The author’s ability to blend a unique and creative new narrative with an important theme such as freedom and fighting against oppression makes this such an important read. The action and character growth are beautifully balanced with the world-building the author delves into, exploring how the fight for freedom comes from multiple sides, and there is often much more to the story than meets the eye. 

The Verdict

A shocking, entertaining yet thoughtful dystopian fantasy, author Jenna Greene’s “Reborn” is a must-read novel. Highly engaging and memorable, the author does a fantastic job of creating a great cast of characters, especially the protagonist and hero Lexil, as well as a wellspring of unique world mythology that readers will want to revisit over and over again. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of this amazing read today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Jenna Greene is a writer, podcaster, teacher, clumsy dancer, dragonboat coach, and semi-professional napper. She’s also the co-host of “Quill and Ink: A Podcast for Book Lovers” with Miranda Oh.

When The Sleeping Dead Still Talk: The Hotel #2 by Jennifer Anne Gordon Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

In this haunting sequel, author Jennifer Anne Gordon follows a man haunted by his past and traumatized by what could have been in the acclaimed novel, “When The Sleeping Dead Still Talk”, the second in The Hotel series. 


The Synopsis

From the Kindle Award Winning Author for Best Horror 2020,  author Jennifer Anne Gordon’s conclusion to The Hotel Series, with the sequel to From Daylight to Madness.

In one startling moment in the late summer of 1873 a tragedy fell like summer sun on the gray jagged shores of Dagger Island. Francis loses everything he thought his life was, and what it could have become. His heart breaks and his feet run, all the way back to his childhood home, he reaches for a past that may not exist.

He is there, in the little house in Dorchester Neck. A place haunted with missing time. He feels the comfort from walls that lean in too close, but then …He feels the trauma that ripped his life in two and in a blink of an eye he is back at the hotel. He can feel the memories fade as the cold fingers of winter wrap around him. He does not know how he got there, or indeed if he ever left.

Francis has lived his whole life veiled in the memories that are more alive than his present. The current days fade away before he can hold on to him. Everything he was or thought he could have been is gone. He realizes he may be a monster, and the person he has fallen in love with may not even exist. Francis holds onto the memories he thinks are real …until he is almost consumed by them.

Francis is isolated in a world of mesmerism, with his tormentor and healer Doctor Hughes.

Francis is a guest in this hotel with his past, his present, and who he believes to be his future. Isabelle. His world is a labyrinth … he feels her hand in his. The fingers intertwine and there is nothing left but her …

She is a memory, a ghost, and a hallucination.

He can almost remember the moment when his father’s glass shattered into his face…he can almost remember who he was before he was broken in two.

He can almost remember…

He can almost…

He can…


The Review

A haunting, beautiful, and engaging sequel, author Jennifer Anne Gordon continues to wow and amaze me. A fantastic story that continues to explore the concept that our pasts can be just as haunting as the ghosts that roam in and out of our lives, the story really does a fantastic job of delving into Francis’s character.

A supporting character in the first novel, this book expertly highlights the impact the loss of a major character from the first novel has on him, while also showcasing the profound impact his past has had on him physically and emotionally. The psychological deep-dive into his psyche makes for some thought-provoking scenes. 

What really stands out to me is the gothic horror-style writing the author employs here, utilizing atmosphere heavily to build suspense in a wholly original yet iconic way all at once. As a fan of recent series like The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor, the author has done a great job of capturing the essence of that style of storytelling while creating a story that draws the reader in and characters that highlight how sometimes the past and ourselves can be a whole lot scarier than the ghosts themselves.

The Verdict

A memorable, emotional, and deeply thought-provoking read, author Jennifer Anne Gordon’s “When The Sleeping Dead Still Talk” is a must-read gothic horror novel. The author does a wonderful job of crafting a narrative that draws the reader in deeper and deeper into the world they have crafted, while giving emotionally-charged scenes that highlight the depth of the protagonist, Francis, making for a complex and detailed read that fans of the genre will absolutely love. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of this memorable read today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Jennifer Anne Gordon is a Gothic horror novelist. Her work includes Beautiful, Frightening and Silent (2020) which won the Kindle Award for Best Horror/Suspense for 2020, and From Daylight to Madness (The Hotel book 1), and When the Sleeping Dead Still Talk (The Hotel book 2).

She had a collection of her mixed media artwork published during spring of 2020, entitled Victoriana: mixed media art of Jennifer Gordon

Jennifer is one of the hosts as well as the creator of Vox Vomitus, a video podcast on the Global Authors on the Air Network, as well as the Co-Host of the You Tube Channel “Talk Horror to Me”. She had been a contributor to Ladies of Horror Fiction, as well as Horror Tree.

Jennifer is a pale curly haired ginger, obsessed with horror, ghosts, abandoned buildings, and her dog “Lord Tubby”.

She graduated from the New Hampshire Institute of Art, where she studied Acting. She also studied at the University of New Hampshire with a concentration in Art History and English.

She has made her living as an actress, a magician’s assistant, a “gallerina”, a comic book dealer, a painter, and burlesque performer and for the past 10 years as an award-winning professional ballroom dancer, performer, instructor, and choreographer.

When not scribbling away (ok, typing frantically) she enjoys traveling with her fiancé and dance partner, teaching her dog ridiculous tricks (like ‘give me a kiss’ and ‘what hand is the treat in?’ ok these are not great tricks.) as well as taking photos of abandoned buildings and haunted locations.

She is a leo, so at the end of the day she just thinks about her hair.