• Virtual Book Tour

    No Innocent Affair by Edward F. Mrkvicka Jr.

  • Science Fiction

    Renegades by Sara Mason

  • Inner City Strength by Dwight Slaughter

    Sometimes the game is all you have to save your life.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Virtual Book Tour Pit Stop with Kim Upstone

Kim Upstone

All I Want is Everything

Genre: Self-Help/Women's Issues
Publisher: Infinity Publishing


Kim is one of 9 children born to a business entrepreneur father (still living) and a housewife (deceased). She has been married 32 years to her husband, Doug, who is a sports writer. She has I has two children, Melissa who lives in Hawaii, and Brent who is married and lives in Tempe, AZ and his wife. They are expecting their first child, Grace, in August. Kim and her husband care for her sister, Debbie (who is 5 years older than Kim). She has special needs and they have Frank, their 4 year old cocker spaniel! They moved to Arizona seven years ago to get away from the cold.

Kim Upstone is the owner of A New Day A New Vision which is not only the name of her company, but her life philosophy. Kim believes that each new day we can create a new vision for ourselves, home and environment. As an author, motivational speaker and intuitive designer she resides with her family in Scottsdale, Arizona. With a background in interior design and interest into the effects of environment upon individuals, accreditation in staging and feng shui soon followed. In addition, she has studied neuro- architecture. Her first book Step by Step To Sold and Feng Shui to Sell are reflections of those principals. Both books were written as guide for home sellers looking to prepare their home by combining Feng Shui and Staging techniques.

Feng Shui for Special Needs, her second book, is given out as a free ebook for people with life and learning challenges. Based on her own personal experience, the books help those who work with special needs children and adults to make enhancements to their environments all in an effort to allow them to flourish.

Her new book All I Want Is Everything released in December 2009 is drawn from her life's journey of searching how to find her everything and learning to dance in the storm. All I Want Is Everything is a guide to help women reclaim happiness and peace in the search for their everything.

About Kim's Book in her own words:

What do you want from your life? Do you want to discover for yourself what your everything is and then be able to live each day of your life with happiness and joy no matter what the circumstances. Do you want to have each day a realization of the gift you have been given to be here. Do you want to creating for yourself the vision of who you want to be?

I wanted everything too and from the outside, it appeared that I had everything, a loving husband and two beautiful healthy children and strong faith. I have great house and all the things that go along with it. But even with all of those things I still felt something was missing. There was piece to the puzzle I needed to find. If I could locate that missing part I would then be complete and happy.

My search lead me to look in many different directions, mostly outside of myself for the answers. It wasn't until out of desperation I asked for guidance and received it that I learned all the answers were all within me waiting to be discovered.

All I Want Is Everything, A Guide to Love, Peace and Happiness is my journey to find my everything. What I found was so much more than I could have ever hoped for. They were the questions that lead me to the answers only I could answer. What I have created is a guide for your journey. Questions for you to answer that will lead you to your everything. You too can discover the secrets hidden safely, waiting inside for you to choose to bring them into the light.

What inspired you to pen your first title?

My very first book was actually a result from all the questions I received from clients and realtors. One area of interest for me has been the effects of our environment upon our well being. For believers it is called Feng Shui and for non believers it is called Neuro-architecture. From my background in design and as an accredited stager I wrote the book so others would know how to use all those principals combined to prepare your home correctly to sell. Appealing to a buyer aesthetically as well as emotionally, creating a wonderful feeling to the home, as well as a beautiful home for people to buy.

My latest book began as a letter to my children. Many years ago, when they were very young, I had embarked on a spiritual journey to find “my everything” . When they both began asking questions about why we are different in our thinking and attitude than others I realized that they had lived almost their entire life in the brightness of the light from what I learned. They were raised differently and my relationship with my husband is different than most, in addition to the fact that we understand our place in the world and the way we live has served us all very well through pain and loss and even success. We know who we are and who we strive to be, we have a map to keep us on course and understand our great value to ourselves and the world, but do not compare ourselves to others, so our ego is not involved.

I was told by an angel while on my journey that I needed to go where there was no trail and leave a path. Until I wrote the letter to my children it did not dawn on me that the trail was my original journey and the path would be writing the books for others to share, a trail to happiness for those who choose to venture.

How long have you been writing?

I wrote poetry endlessly when I was younger and then stopped for a number of years, except for journaling. I took it up writing seriously again three years ago when I wrote my first book.

What was the hardest part about writing this particular novel book ?

This was a very personal experience for me. It was painful to pour over all my old journals from when I took my original journey, but it was an important part of being able to create that path for others. To go back and see how the darkness of unhappiness and negativity encompassed my world was sobering. What if I had not asked for guidance or missed the message the angel delivered to me, I understood quickly that my life would have been very different than the life I have lived.

Have any dreams been realized as a result of your writing?

My dreams were realized the moment a woman said to me after reading my book that her life had gone from ordinary to extraordinary and nothing had changed in her life but her thinking. If she is the only person I helped it would have been well worth it.

Is there a message in your novel book you want readers to grasp?

I hope they grasp much from the book, but I realize that each will take from it what they are ready for.If there was one thing I would hope that they understand that nothing of value comes free. It all takes work. Happiness, a peaceful heart, love, great relationships, raising children that are wonderful citizens of the world, these are all things that take hard work. In addition, I want them to understand that anything that you work hard for and value you are not so quick to give up on; children, relationships and happiness.

Where do you hope to take your writing in the future?

My most recent book is the first of a series of four books. I knew from the beginning there would be four books. The first book is all about us, who we want to be, defining what “our everything” is and creating a map to guide us through life.

The second will be about relationships. The third is about raising children and the fourth is about being successful and balancing remaining bright in your spirit while having abundance present.

What advice do you have for writer's just starting out?

Write because you love write. If you love it the rest will fall into place.

Anything else you would like to share with us today?......

I would love people to understand their importance in the world. Each of us was put here for a reason and we each need to seek out for ourselves, in whatever way works best for us, that purpose and passion that lies within us.



Kim's book is also for purchase on her website. Kim will give a donation for each book purchased to Global Orphans Project.

Purchase book on Amazon


Thank you so much for stopping in and chatting with us Kim.  It has been a wonderful pleasure.  Please be sure to leave a comment for Kim for your chance to win a copy of her book at the end of her tour.  Don't forget to stop by http://virtualbooktourcafe.weebly.com  and check out the updates as well.  Thanks for stopping in everyone.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

***** Review of I Will Remember by Roland and Gwen Higginbotham

I Will Always Remember by Roland and Gwen Higginbotham was a fabulous read!  Looking into the past when segregation was deemed a major issue in the 70's,  you are sure to be enthralled with this title.


Jill Young never understood racial issues.  From a very young child,  she never saw the difference between black and white.  When going with her grandmother to visit her great aunt,  she used to watch the black children play,  wishing that she could join in with them.  She knew it wasn't allowed though,  as each race was expected to "stick to their own kind". 


One day while watching the kids play,  the ball got away and landed right in front of her.  Unsure what to do as one of the kids came to retrieve the ball,  she stared blankly at the form standing in front of her.  When "Tiny",  as she decided to call him from the first day she laid eyes on him,  spoke to her,  she quickly came to the realization that they were no different than herself.


Through the years she watched from a distance.  Then high school came,  and "Tiny",  who she soon learned his real name was Mike,  attended the same school. After Mike had protected her from a boy claiming she was too good for black people,  their friendship flourished.  They were always together,  studying and hanging out,  all through their high school years.


Mike became a football hero,  and she was on the sidelines as a cheerleader.  As their relationship grew,  they endured the racial comments and gossip from their peers and other racist people from the town.  Not once did they let it interfere with their friendship.  After years of racial slander and ridicule,  they were both surprised when their relationship went a step further,  and they became lovers.


Hiding their true feelings,  they continued on their daily routines,  graduating from high school,  and both landing scholarships to college.  As they both accepted admission to separate colleges,  they took a break from each other,  letting things "relax"  as they started their studies. 


The day Jill got the call from Mike that he was injured and his scholarship was gone,  she was more determined than ever to not let him give up on his dreams of finishing college.  She was waiting for the right time to talk to him about the future,  when the headlines from the newspaper caught her attention,  "Local Prairie Football Star Arrested".


Thinking of nothing else than to clear his name,   Jill returns home.  Will Jill be able to get Mike off the charges pending against him?  Even more so, will they be able to pick up where they left off?


Find out in I Will Always Remember.  The Higginbotham's did a fantastic job grabbing the readers attention from the beginning to the end of this story.  I found myself unable to put this down until I had finished it in its entirety.  I Will Always Remember is a definite page turner,  and will leave you wanting more.  Full of excitement and suspense,  you will find yourself rooting for love as well as freedom.


I give I Will Always Remember ***** (5) Stars,  BK Walker,  http://bkwalkerbooks.weebly.com

Learn more about these authors and purchase a copy of I Will Remember today.  CLICK HERE.

BK Walker Books - All Rights Reserved

Monday, July 19, 2010

Book Tour - Twelve Roses for Uretta by Arlene Crenshaw

Please welcome my guest today,  Arlene Crenshaw,  author of Twelve Roses for Uretta.  Welcome Arlene and thank you for stopping in.

About the Book:  This is a true story told through the eyes of a child growing up with her mother, her name is Erica.  Erica's mother suffered horrendous abuse by her husbands;  Erica was the third child of Uretta.  Erica tells of her own suffering and guilt of not being able to reach out and help her mother,  because she at the time was too young,  as well as her sisters and brothers who were all too young to help.

Growing up with all her sadness and pain,  Erica finds herself in a situation that also added to the trauma of her life and caused her to be tormented from carrying so much guilt that it led to anxiety and depression throughout her whole life.  Erica never was able to let her mother Uretta,  know of the pain she endured or the suffering she carried from her mothers life.

Now in her own life,  she had a secret that was too unbearable to tell her mother about what happened to her at the age of fourteen.  She loved her mother so much she was never able to tell her the secret before her mother passed away.

This story is very emotional and heartbreaking,  guaranteed to grab your attention to want to read more....

Wisdom in Simple Words:

I believe that anyone can conquer fear by doing the things he fears to do.

It is not fair to ask of others what you are unwilling to do yourself.

Decision Making
It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.

People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built.

The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences.

We must want for others, not ourselves alone.

With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.

You must do the thing you think you cannot do.

These are words I feel strongly on and I hope a lot of women find their strength with these words also and what they stand for.

Author of Twelve Roses For Uretta by Arlene R. Crenshaw

My book can be purchased at lulu.com, lulu storefront and Amazon.com

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Book Tour - When I Remember Love by Trish Silver

Trish Silver is my guest author today.  She has written romance novel with a lot of originality,  When I Remember Love.  Please give Trish a warm welcome as she guest blogs today.  Welcome Trish.

Bio: I was born and raised in Whitefish Bay, WI. I went to college at the University of Cincinnati. I moved to Los Angeles in the turbulent 1960's and met my husband Ed. We have been happily married for 41 years and have two sons, Matthew and David. We also have two grandchildren, Jack and Sarah.
Book Info: When I Remember Love is my first book. It is a contemporary romance novel about a rock superstar, Aidan, who realized fame by winning an American Idol type of television reality competition. He falls in love at first sight with the beautiful Jenna and together they navigate through the rocky road fame presented them. You can learn all about it on my website: http://trishsilver.com. It can be purchased on my site, Amazon.com, and BarnesandNoble.com, and SmashWords.com. There is a Kindle version.
Who would have thought that I would ever write a romance novel? I am a big fan of American Idol and after watching the show one night, my story unfolded in a dream. It was like watching a movie; at that moment, I knew that someday my book would become a film. I could see the look on the face of my handsome pop star, Aidan, as he saw his beautiful Jenna for the first time. Jenna, star struck whispered in my ear," He's the one!" As the story came to me vividly scene by scene, I became a fan of my characters.
Personally, I wanted to help Jenna build Jenna's House, a home for the homeless. Also, I wanted my characters to overcome the many obstacles that sudden fame bestowed upon them. It's not like the usual romance novel; I took a chance and wrote outside the box. It was my intention that my readers look upon married love in its purest form without cheating or abuse of any kind. 

I wanted my readers to hear the music that Aidan sang to his audience and to Jenna and was lucky enough to become part of a brilliant songwriting team. You may hear it on my website: http://trishsilver.com. And you can get a preview of the story by watching the book trailer video on my site and hear one of our original songs sung in the background too. If you like a good love story like I do, you will adore this book. 

I was born and raised in Whitefish Bay, WI. I went to college at the University Of Cincinnati, School Of Journalism. I moved to Los Angeles in the turbulent 1960's and met my husband Ed. We have been happily married for many years and have two sons, Matthew and David and a wonderful daughter-in-law Kathy. We also have two beautiful grandchildren, Sarah and Jack. I always dabbled in writing and was told that I had a gift. I finally found my passion in writing my debut novel, "When I Remember Love." I'm in the midst of writing a sequel, "Price Of Love." and a children's book. Life has been good to me.

I'd like to share this excerpt from my book, “When I Remember Love.” It's long, but I believe worth the read. My songwriting team wrote the beautiful song that fits appropriately into the storyline. I hope you enjoy Jenna and Aidan's love story as much as I took pleasure in writing it. Trish Silver
Dinner was delicious. They whispered in each other's ears, entwined their arms, exchanged flirtatious glances and laughter, and looked like a couple who had just made love. 

After dinner, for entertainment, there was a pianist. Aidan was in the corner of the living room speaking to Alex about the tour. Harry and his significant other, Paul, were still seated at the dining room table where they were engaged in a heated conversation. Rita and Jenna leisurely walked hand in hand and sat down on the sofa next to the piano. 

Alan Tate introduced himself to Jenna and Rita before he began to play. Alan was an average-looking, middle-aged man who wore glasses and was balding. He tried not to stare, but he couldn't help himself. He couldn't believe how beautiful Jenna was in person. He had seen her on television and in magazines with Aidan. He had thought then that she was very pretty. In person, however, her beauty was equally flawless, and to add to that, she seemed very genuine and sweet. Alan had trouble concentrating on his music after seeing this gorgeous goddess, but he had promised his girlfriend Judy Dee (who was a devoted Aidan Price fan) that he would play the song that they had created together. When he started to play “First, Last, and Always,” Aidan strolled over to the piano to follow the melody. He sat down next to his wife and smiled at her as he reached for her hand and brought it to his lips for a quick kiss. 

After Alan finished playing, Aidan let go of Jenna's hand, stood up, and applauded. Jenna introduced Alan to Aidan. Aidan quickly shook his hand. 

“What a beautiful song,” Aidan said. “Do you have lyrics for it?” 

Alan nodded yes and took a folded piece of paper out of his back pants pocket. 

Aidan swiftly glanced at the words and asked Alan a little about the song. Alan told Aidan that it was a love song and that his lady had written the lyrics for his music. The song was about a man who wanted his wife to be a virgin before they got married and to be forever loyal to him. Aidan glanced at Jenna, raised his eyebrows, and winked. 

“Can I sing the lyrics while you play the melody?” 

Alan excitedly said that he would be honored to accompany Aidan. Alan went over the lyrics with him to familiarize Aidan with the song. Aidan started singing with his beautiful melodious voice: 

Take my heart,
It was yours,
From the start,
Forever more.
It's you I'm first and last and always thinking of.
Forever, first, and last you'll always be my love.
It doesn't matter how or why or where I've lived before.
My life began with you.
And every day I'm thankful for this time we share.
The thought of losing you is more than I can bear.
Please tell me that I am the one and only one for you,
First, last, and always, too.
Now that we have found each other,
We are making every day
Memories to last a lifetime,
To lovingly replay when we're old and gray
And now our souls have joined together,
All our dreams are coming true.
Blessings that I first discovered
The day that I met you.
I knew that
I've never loved another
How can I love another?
It's you I'm first and last and always thinking of.
Forever, first, and last you'll always be my love.
It doesn't matter how or why or where I've lived before.
My life began with you.
And every day I'm thankful for this time we share.
The thought of losing you is more than I can bear.
Please tell me that I am the one and only one for you
First, last, and always, too.
You are my first and last and always and forever love.
Please tell me I'm yours, too.
After Aidan belted out the beautiful ballad, everyone in the room stood up and gave him a standing ovation. Jenna had tears in her eyes. She knew that this song had been written about their love. 

If you like the lyrics to this original song written for my book, please visit my website: http://trishsilver.com and select the music menu item to listen to the original music written for my book. You can also listen to the title song, When I Remember Love by watching my book trailer video on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4QX9MDLYH4

Thank you so much for stopping in Trish.  As always it has been such a pleasure.  Trish loves to hear from readers so please be sure to leave her a comment,  plus you will gain an entry to win a copy of her book at the end of her tour.  Wishing you much success Trish!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Do You Love Big Cats? Read on for a touching story.....

Meet Diablo.  Diablo is a 7 year old male Siberian Bengal Tiger.  Diablo went to Forever Wild Sanctuary from an entertainer in Las Vegas that could no longer care for him.  His prior owner had him declawed,  and this caused a lot of pain for Diablo.  He had to undergo 4 surgeries to help his feet so he could walk without pain.  Watch Diablo's surgery here :                        


Diablo is just one of many 'big cats' at the Forever Wild Sanctuary in California.  What people don't understand is that these cats are meant to be in the wild.  They think its "cool" to own a tiger,  black panther,  mountain lion,  bob cat or even a lion.  They think declawing will help to keep them safe,  when all it does is create pain in these beautiful animals.

Meet Mia.  This tiger was found out in the cold,  1 of 2 survivors from an abandoned litter of 5 cubs.  3 were found frozen to death,  the remaining 2 were placed in an ad in a newspaper with the heading "Free To Good Home".  Who does that?  Especially with tigers of all cats.  This isn't your typical house cat.  Anyways,  Forever Wild saw this ad and called right away,  bringing the cubs to their sanctuary where they can live out their lives in a safe environment with people that know what they are doing.

So you may be asking yourselves,  Why is she writing about tigers?,  right?  Well let me tell you how I came across this sanctuary.  I was sitting home with my children,  and I don't know if any of you know Ty Pennington or not,  but he is the host of Extreme Makeover,  Home Edition.

Ty takes his design crew to various states across the nation helping deserving families to rebuild their homes.  It is a fantastic show and very touching.
This is where I first learned of the Almquist Family.  They had a love and a dream,  and turned it into a reality,  providing a home for wildlife,  abused or abandoned.  This story touched my heart and I wanted to share and maybe provide an increase in awareness and donations to support this great cause.  Most of all,  please don't take on a tiger for a pet.  They are in the wild for a reason,  and like all babies,  they are so cute when they are little but they do grow up to be 400 lb + animals,  with a wild streak. 

Watch this touching video : http://www.movieweb.com/tv/TEJCaONKS6XPOJ/VIo34ooqhKqwrq

Did you know that Forever Wild goes through 300 pounds of meat in a day?  The average 400 pound tiger eats 40 - 60 pounds of meat each day.  That is a lot of meat.  Can you just imagine how much that would cost?  Especially for several large cats?  The Almquist's never thought of costs,  and often put their own needs aside to help these animals.  This is a fabulous family with huge hearts among all of them.  They just want to be able to give these animals a home,  where they can be safe and live out their lives happy and loved.

So in an effort to create awareness,  Forever Wild is a cause that I am proud to promote.  Please join with me and help spread the word about this fantastic organization.  Please note that they are non-profit organization,  so they only get their funding through donations from people like you and me,  and establishments willing to donate to their cause.  A donation of any amount will help to feed a cat,  build housing and supply medical needs.  Even if you cannot donate,  please,  please help out just by spreading the word.  Add the button I created for Forever Wild using their logo to your blog or website.  Just by spreading the word and creating an awareness helps out and is greatly appreciated.

There are so many ways to donate and you can even adopt a cat,  receiving adoption papers, pictures and more.

Won't you join with me and support a great cause?  Visit http://foreverwildexotics.org today for more information. Grab the button below or from my sidebar.  Thanks for helping support this family and these animals.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Finding Inspiration with L.E. Harvey

Finding Inspiration
My partner is a chainsaw carver and I am a writer. Obviously, we make an interesting pair. I like to watch her and see where she gets her inspiration for her carvings. Most of them are animals and centered around mother nature. They're beautiful and they are fantastic replications of the natural world. 

But where do writers gain their inspiration? From EVERYTHING. 

As writers, we are fortunate enough to gain inspiration from the music that touches our ears. The paintings that dazzle our eyes can easily encourage us to write. The familiar smells from our kitchen stir our brains and get us writing. The people we love, the people who make us laugh are worth a good story. The trees, the fluffy white clouds and the bright orange sun are also fantastic sources of inspiration. As writers, everyone and everything on this planet is our inspiration. 

If you see a chipmunk playing in a field, you have a story. A homeless person just looking for some compassion can give you a story. Looking up at the top of the Eiffel Tower creates the story within. Your past, your present and your future all hold an infinite number of stories. Your family, your location, your travels - even your vehicle can all contribute to your story. 

We as writers have the entire world at our hands! How great is that?! Our sources of inspiration are endless! I have been able to create my stories from my life, my home, my friends and family; from the world around me. Loving Her is a fantastic collection of stories inspired by people I've seen or friends and my life in Philadelphia. Unbreakable Hostage is a wonderful story based on people and experiences from myself with the buzz of the city that intrigues me: Los Angeles as the backdrop. My next two works are based on self-reflection, music and the beautiful countryside of the American mid-west. My books are inspired from as many different elements from the world around me as possible. 

As a reader and a writer, a good book is one that is unique and is genuinely inspired. Not a carbon copy, but one where you can sense the writer's sense of awe in the story as much as you sense you own. Inspiration is a beautiful thing. 

Happy reading! 

 Thank you so much for stopping in Lauren.  It has been such a pleasure and I am wishing you much success in the future.  Please be sure to leave a comment for Lauren for your chance to win a copy of one of her books at the end of her virtual book tour :).

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Monday, July 5, 2010

Cara Mia by Denise Verrico

Book Synopsis:

Vampires Mia and Kurt become involved in a deadly mission to harness the power of immortality. Mia Disantini is a vampire whose greatest desire is to walk in the sun again. She is enslaved by her charismatic master, Ethan, and plunged into an ancient, unenlightened Immortyl culture. As Mia struggles for the freedom to live as she chooses, she is trained as Ethan's Bird of Prey. Soon she becomes the pawn of their powerful, enigmatic elder, Brovik, in his deadly games of deception and intrigue against his rival, Gaius, concerning their forbidden science experiments. When Mia is cast out by Ethan she joins forces with Kurt, and together the lovers steal fire from the gods and deliver it to Genpath Laboratories. The company CEO Lee Brooks deceives and imprisons the pair. While held captive, Mia calls upon the aid of Dr. Joe Ansari. The couple is hunted for their crime and time is running out. Will Mia and Kurt escape with their lives and succeed in their mission before their Immortyl enemies harness the power of immortality for evil purposes?

Image of Denise Verrico


Denise is a New Jersey native who grew up in Western Pennsylvania. She attended Point Park College and majored in Theatre Arts. For seven seasons, she was a member of the Oberon Theatre Ensemble in NYC. Denise has loved vampire stories since she was a little girl and a fan of Dark Shadows. She currently lives in Ohio with her husband and son and her flock of seven parrots. Visit her website for excerpts of Cara Mia and Book Two, Twilight of the Gods, character profiles and the Immortyl Lexicon at www.deniseverricowriter.webs.com and read her blog at www.ImmortylRevolution.blogspot.com.

 Please be sure to leave a comment for Denise for your chance to win a copy of her book at the end of her tour.

We Have a Winner!

Heaven Sent Husband (Love Inspired #298)

Our winner for Heaven Sent Husband and the booklight is Sandy Marshall!  Congratulations Sandy.  Thank you all for commenting with Susan Hanniford Crowley.  Sandy watch for an email from me for further details.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Write On! Your World with Dallas Woodburn

Today please welcome my guest Dallas Woodburn.  I am so impressed with this young lady,  and I think you will be too.  She is doing amazing things all in the name of Literacy.  Please be sure to check out her site as well so you can see what all she is accomplishing as she helps children across the nation.  Welcome Dallas and thank you so much for stopping in.

BIO: Dallas Woodburn is an award-winning author and journalist whose work has appeared in Family Circle, Writer’s Digest, The Los Angeles Times, and many other publications. For her volunteer work, she has been honored with a national Jackie Kennedy Onassis/Jefferson Award, a Congressional Award Gold Medal, and most recently a “Best of You” Award from Glamour Magazine. Learn more about Write On! For Literacy at www.writeonbooks.org

I published my first book, There’s a Huge Pimple On My Nose, when I was in fifth grade. The teachers in my elementary school asked me to speak to their classes about how I pursued my dream of publishing a book. At the beginning of my talk, I asked the kids if any of them were interested in writing, and a few shy hands raised. In contrast, at the end of my talk when I asked the same question, nearly all the hands in the class shot up. The students told me they didn’t know that kids could be writers. They didn’t think of writing as something that could be fun or empowering.
Writing and reading have opened the doors to so many amazing opportunities in my life: a scholarship to attend college, a semester studying abroad in England, a trip to New York City to be a guest on The CBS Early Show. Not only that, but writing gives me a healthy outlet to express my feelings and connect to other people.
I started "Write On! For Literacy" in 2001 to encourage kids to discover confidence, joy, a means of self-expression, and connection to others through reading and writing. My website www.writeonbooks.org features writing contests, book reviews, fun writing prompts, and more. I still frequently visit classrooms to speak to kids about my writing journey (another published collection of short stories and a novel followed There’s a Huge Pimple On My Nose) and I teach a Youth Summer Writing Camp every year in my hometown of Ventura, California. 
Perhaps my most rewarding project is an annual Holiday Book Drive that I started to collect and distribute new books to disadvantaged kids who do not have many books of their own. More than 11,000 books have been donated to date.

The biggest lesson I have learned is that it is okay to start small. The first year, my Holiday Book Drive only donated 125 books to the local Boys & Girls Club. Still, even small acts make a difference, and small acts often snowball into amazing contributions bigger than you ever dreamed.
What is your passion? How can you use what you love to help others? Get friends involved. Spread the word to your community. Overwhelmingly, I have discovered that people very much want to help, but they don’t always know what they can do. If you can supply a meaningful avenue for people to help, they will join your cause. 
One of my favorite quotes is attributed to the late, great basketball coach John Wooden: “Make each day your masterpiece.” Don’t wait until next week or month or year to make a difference. Start small. Start today. The most important thing you can do is begin! 
Thank you so much for stopping in and sharing with us Dallas.  I think you are doing such a wonderful job!  You would make any parent proud,  and I wish you much success in the future! 

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