Friday, January 31, 2014


My Review:
The Red Dress Diaries:

Confessions from the Heart


Coralie Cederna Johnson

                Coralie Cederna Johnson said in her latest book The Red Dress Diaries that she created it to give voice to the secrets that haunt. The women in her latest book are fictional, but their stories are not. The strength of a woman is internal – it resides in her ability to survive, to hide her truth, to forget the horror, to mask the pain, to deny, to pretend, and ultimately to forgive – journeys that influence each and every day of her life and the lives of those she loves. 

          Ms Johnson brings their stories to life in monologues about sexual abuse, domestic violence, eating disorders, isolation, bullying, homophobia, disabilities, and racism. The Red Dress signifies many things – to one the dress is independence, to another it signifies repression, to another it brings back memories of violence. These are their stories, the moments remembered, and the sensations that cannot be forgotten. The goal is to voice the pain, the horror, the unthinkable, and by doing so bring awareness of the truth that is woman. 

          We all know such women, some of us are them, but still, today, this the twenty-first century, we see in the news daily the struggle for respect throughout the world. We hear of military, gang, and high school heroes raping and then digitally sharing their disgrace with little to no punishment. Young girls fall victim to their caretakers, and the outcome is still one where the victim takes the blame and pays with a lifetime of regret and self-punishment. 

           Ms. Johnson not only gives voice to these atrocities she's opening a dialogue for all survivors - an opportunity for discussion, and she includes a discussion guide in her book. Ms Johnson writes: "Telling our stories empowers us to heal, forgive, and reflect. Sharing...divides the weight of our burden. ...Opening our hearts can set us free!"

          I recommend Ms Johnson's book The Red Dress Diaries to all readers, to men to help them better understand, to women still hiding, and to mothers, fathers, daughters, and sons who need a jumping off point to begin that discussion that no one wants to have.
Yolanda Renée 2014

"Let us honor these women and girls and their confessions for they are heroic survivors. Remember their voices."

Her plays have been produced on professional stages: Pigeons in the Park at Performance Network, Ann Arbor, MI and BEES at Boarshead Theater, Lansing, MI.

Coralie is also the author of books, The Wishing Years and A Tree Grows in Trout Creek.

The new book is now available for purchase! Go to  above to buy using Paypal.
… or
  To pay using a check or money order, please contact Coralie Johnson through email: 
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Brought to you by the Armchair Squid

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse

An online gathering of bloggers who love books.
The idea is simple: on the last Friday of each month, post about the best book you've finished over the past month while visiting other bloggers doing the same. 
In this way, we'll all have the opportunity to share our thoughts with other enthusiastic readers. 

 Please join us: HERE!


Do You Have A Goal?
Post it HERE and follow along with the rest of the goal setters to see who reaches their quest first!
Hosted by Misha Gericke
My original goal was to finish book 3 by 2014 - 
I didn't reach it, but headway has been made. 
So the new goal for 2014 is to finish and publish book 3 
as well as finish the first draft for the prequel!
What's your goal / s for 2014?

Monday, January 20, 2014


Thank you all for your participation in this marketing symposium for  
What Works and What Doesn't.

The brainchild of Arlee Bird, and hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh, Jeremy Hawkins, and me. I hope this becomes an annual event and that each year new successes are reported because of what we've all shared!

Here is my two cents!


Since my current business is writing and marketing what I write, I'll start there with my contribution. So far, what I've found is that when it comes to successfully marketing a book – the secret appears to be throwing as much money as you can at it. Buy ads, buy reviews, buy twitter friends, and hire publicists that promise for only $3000 we can make your book a best seller on Amazon. 

I know, cynical. That's why, when Arlee asked me to be part of this project I agreed. I don't have buckets of money to throw at my novels, so like most of you I am trying to do this the hard way, the way we're all told should work – build a platform, network online, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, etc. etc!

With all that in mind I created a page on Facebook for my novel, Murder, Madness & Love, but couldn't get the 'likes' I saw that others had, so I paid to advertise my page. I was able to get over 500 likes, but I'm almost positive those likes did not translate into sales. 

C. Hope Clark has a site called Funds for Writers and a book called The Shy Writer and I highly recommend all of it - if you're a new writer, a shy writer, or a seasoned pro!
Another positive that I've found for selling books is a review. It has always increased the sales figures, especially if posted on a blog

And in that regard, I made it my New Year's resolution to post reviews for all the books I've read. I'm behind on that goal, and I assume I always will be. Because for every book I've read and reviewed, I've added five more to my TBR list. It's an ongoing circle, but I will give it my best effort, I hope you and other readers will too!

 Have you had better success with Facebook? 
Do you find that a review increases sales?
Do you have a secret for getting readers to write a review?


In my opinion, if you're looking for success with your blog in regards to the numbers of followers and comments – a blog fest is the quickest way to meet new bloggers. The catch is in the commenting. When I get busy and can't reach all my favorites, I see the number of comments drop on my posts too. 

Another catch 22 because time is a valuable commodity and commenting takes a lot of time. The two most successful people I've seen are Alex J Cavanaugh, our Ninja captain, and Pat Hatt at It's Rhyme Time. Both are very successful with not only posting regularly, but they both respond to the commenters on their site while visiting other sites too. I am in awe gentlemen!

As well as paying to advertise my books FB page, I've also tried boosting (paying to advertise) blog posts, especially guest posts and book reviews. Facebook claims I had several thousand viewers for each post I boosted and the numbers all depend on how much you're willing to spend. Again I wasn't sure those viewers actually viewed the blog post. 

My opportunity to find out happened when I posted on Arlee's blog, I paid for a boost on Facebook and told Arlee what I was doing. Arlee said he saw an increase in the readers to that particular post, but it was nowhere close to the numbers that Facebook reported. My conclusion, I may have just wasted more of my hard-earned money.

What about you, have you boosted a blog on FB page and seen results?


I recently read another news report about a bookkeeper brought up on embezzlement charges. These stories always upset me because this kind of crime is so easy to avoid. As a former accountant I'm going to address that here even though it's not about marketing success or failure, but it is about successful management. Most all of the companies involved aren't large, most are churches, fire stations, car dealerships, etc. But the money stolen is huge!

So my advice to all business owners especially the small or not for profit, but truthfully - ANY BUSINESS - do not, and I'll repeat myself – DO NOT give one individual total access to your cash, your bank accounts, any of your funds! 

If you have an accountant, its fine to allow them be a signer on the bank accounts, but make sure, you, as CEO, owner, manager, or boss, are the second signer! Any check can be designed with two signature lines – and this is easily arranged with your bank. 

Also, when you sign those checks make sure that all the back-up paperwork is there!  Each check has to have an invoice and you should recognize the Payee. Know who your creditors are and ask questions when something looks odd. 

Again, I'll repeat myself - NEVER – EVER give one person signatory rights! I don't care if the person doing your books is someone you've known all your life or trust implicitly! 

Also, if you are the accountant or bookkeeper – no matter what company you're working for, insist on two signatures. This is your first line of defense too!

Consider doing an audit. It sounds expensive but like all things there are different types of audits with different costs, and if you can't afford to do it annually, do it at least every two years. The best way to keep someone from ripping you off is to make sure your books are checked regularly and that all your employees know this. If you're a small non profit, get volunteers to do the audit - everyone knows at least one accountant. Or barter for it!

Don't let anyone, even someone you trust have that kind of financial control
Okay I'm off my soap box.

That's it, my contribution to 
What Works and What Doesn't. 
I look forward to reading yours and learning something new. 
Thank you for participating!

Click HERE for the list of other participants!

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Friday, January 17, 2014


The cover of her book Amaranthine
 is an original painting by Cindy Parker.


My favorite form of expression has always been poetry. I blame it all on my grandmother's influence; she would always include a poem in her birthday cards or letters. So it's with great pleasure that I review another book of poetry by Cynthia (Cindy) Parker. And while poetry is a personal journey, and each reader interprets the words differently, I know you'll agree, Cindy Parker has a gem in Amaranthine

When I received Cindy's books, the poem Snow Stars made the biggest impression. Today, writing this review it was The Call of The Sandhill Crane. It changes as the day, the hour, and yes, the mood, which is why I find Cindy's poetry so beautiful! I have a shelf full of books of poetry and I find them as inspirational as music if not more so. 

Cindy's words have a rhythm, sometimes a rhyme, but mostly they are words that hit an emotional cord and leave the reader filled with satisfaction on a spiritual level. Thank you Cindy, for your inspirational work and especially for letting me share another of my favorites from Amaranthine!
Yolanda Renee 2014


I wade through the ice gray
stillness and wonder if this
is what artic twilight without
end is like, waiting for them

to return. Waiting
for them to sing their overture,
sweet serenade from heaven
at the edge of dawn. Week pass.

A few scatterings of earth's sole
star opens the eyes of March
heavy with snow. A single, faint,
distinct melody caresses my ears.

I rush to pull up the pane,
quieting again to listen, studying
the death white sky through
dormant branches. The call resounds.

And at last I see my feathered
harbringer of spring flying solitaire,
spirit – filled, at peace.
                   Cindy Parker ©2014


In myth and poetry, the amaranth flower came symbolize everlasting life. It appears in the writings of Keats, Shelley, and Milton's Paradise Lost. The long clusters, noted for their luxuriant red-purple color, were used as a dye by the Hopi people.

Amaranthine is not only the title, but the theme of this collection. A quest. A desire to find, experience, and embrace, the abiding essence of life in all we cherish and hold dear, all in a world of impermanence. For the strength of hope, for strength of soul, may we welcome and hold within, even if only for a time, all the amaranthine petals – and moments – we are given....


Amaranthine is Cindy's fourth collection of published poetry and includes both new poems as well as previously published poems from Spectrum, Origins, and Corundum.

Cindy's poetry also appears in the anthology,  Potter's Field, by The Lost Word Writers Group

 For the purchase of Amaranthine, you can reach Cindy at