do good, Uncategorized

Do Good April.15

Every month I feature a way to give back by sharing things I’ve found meaningful to champion. For April 2015 I chose The National Park Service (NPS week is April 18-26 this year!). It’s no secret I love all things NPS– the wilderness and wildlife, outdoor activities, historical places of significance and reverence, and myriad opportunities to learn and discover and go adventuring. The parks represent many wonderful things, including being an invaluable resource for everyone. I’m as happy to support the NPS as I am to get out and explore it. As I say with every park site I’ve visited: “This is just so great!”

Locate parks and sites #FindYourPark || Learn all the Ways To Give


Mission Statement:

The National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. The Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world.

Since 1916, the American people have entrusted the National Park Service with the care of their national parks. With the help of volunteers and park partners, we safeguard these more than 400 places and share their stories with more than 275 million visitors every year. But our work doesn’t stop there.

We are proud that tribes, local governments, nonprofit organizations, businesses, and individual citizens ask for our help in revitalizing their communities, preserving local history, celebrating local heritage, and creating close to home opportunities for kids and families to get outside, be active, and have fun.


Happy giving, in whatever way you choose to better your world!


Friday Fun Five

Happy Friday! This week’s guest is Elizah J Davis. Thanks, Elizah!

To know more about Elizah Davis, check out, find her on Facebook or see what she’s up to on twitter (@ElizahDavis). Her latest literary triumph is Making Nice and is available here.


1) You can only have one type of shoes for the rest of your life. What style are you going with?

Wow, playing dirty straight off the bat, huh? As much as I love my pretty heels and sandals, for the versatility plus comfort of one shoe type ever after, it’d have to be cowboy boots.

2) Polka dots or stripes?

Polka dots! No, stripes. No, no. Polka dots. Final answer.

3) Cuttlefish or hedgehogs?

Hedgehogs. They are so wee and roly-poly adorable!

4) What is your favorite word?

Indicative. I just love the way it feels when you say it out loud. Indicative.


5) Unlimited budget, but only for one room – which room would you make over?

The bathroom, no question. I sometimes actively fantasize about having a large, super fancy bathroom oasis. One of these fifty bathrooms for example. A gigantic tub and a fireplace, are you kidding me? And heated floor tiles, of course. This is the dream, friends. (#dreamer bathroom?)

Elizah J. Davis has lived in various parts of the United States, but currently resides in the Pacific Northwest, enjoying the abundance of coffee readily available there. Once upon a time she had journalistic ambitions, but switched to creative writing after she realized journalism involved too many facts and not enough unicorns. ShAvatare loves stories of all kinds, but has a particular fondness for romance and fantastical adventures.


Friday Fun Five

Happy Friday! This week’s guest is Poppy Dennison. Thanks, Poppy!

To know more about Poppy Dennison, check out her website at, find her on Facebook and Goodreads, or see what she’s up to on twitter (@PoppyDennison). Her latest literary triumph is Creature Feature 2 and is available here.


1) Do you have a routine or habits you always follow when you sit down at your desk to work?

My most important routine involves a vat of coffee and a clear mind. I make lists with daily tasks and make sure a daily word count is included in my goals for the week. I find it difficult to write when I have a ton of other things to do for my day job, so I have to schedule my time wisely so I can both write and work successfully. Some weeks are better than others, but I enjoy the challenge!

2) Wet dream choice–a tall drink of water: Tom Hiddleston or Chris Hemsworth?

Oh this is a tough choice! Not only are these two different in looks, but their personalities seem to be different as well. Hmm. I think I’ll have to go with Tom Hiddleston on this one. He intrigues me and I have a sneaking suspicion that he would charm the pants right off of me. (Here’s hoping, huh? LOL)

3) Wet dream choice–waterfront property: Ocean or mountain lake?

If I think of this in terms of a vacation home, I’d go with ocean property! I live in the mountains of East Tennessee so I get to enjoy their beauty every time I look out my window. I’d love to be able to sneak away for long weekends at the beach from time to time, though! I see pictures of beach cottages in the magazines I love to read and would love to have a little cottage to escape to. I’m sure I could decorate it easily based on the number of pins I have on my Pinterest boards.

4) What is your favorite word?

I embrace the Southern tradition of backhanded insults so my favorites are usually phrases that accomplish that. You’ll catch me saying things like “Bless your heart” and “Isn’t that precious?” And, like many other Southern women, if you hear me say “Oh hell no” you’d better run! LOL

5) You have an eight-hour layover in Anchorage–what do you do with the time?

Well, I suppose that depends on the time of year! If I’m in Anchorage in the winter, forget it. I’m camping out at the airport and finding something to read! (I’m not a fan of the cold…) If it’s not freezing, I’d make some time to go exploring. I’m actually heading to Alaska this summer for a cruise with my family, so I’m looking forward to doing some exploration in the ports along the way. I wonder if my answer will change once I’ve seen the state? I have scheduled intentional long layovers before. Once, I stopped over in London and made sure to have an overnight layover so I could go out to dinner with some friends before hopping back on the plane and heading home the next day. Traveling is one of my favorite things to do, so I’m usually up for some sort of adventure… you know, as long as I’m not cold.

A sassy southern lady, Poppy Dennison developed an obsession with things that go bump in the night in her early years i221v3-poppy-dennison-54f61ec5da82cafter a barn door flew off its hinges and nearly squashed her. Convinced it was a ghost trying to get her attention, she started looking for other strange and mysterious happenings around her. Not satisfied with what she found, Poppy has traveled to Greece, Malaysia and England to find inspiration for the burly bears and silver foxes that melt her butter. Her love of paranormal continues to flourish nearly thirty years later, and she writes steamy love stories about the very things that used to keep her up all night. If her childhood ghost is lucky, maybe one day she’ll give him his own happily ever after.


April.15 Book Rec

This month’s book recommendation: Land of Dreams by Cheryl St John. A sprawling frontier western about finding love–and believing in it when it finds you. Puts me in the mind of the first spring day when the breeze is warm, and you know long days of sunshine and green and growth are finally here.


I discovered Land of Dreams early in my romance novel reading career. While plenty of other titles have been read and redistributed, I’ve always held onto my copy of this book. It’s one I can’t ever quite part with; when I curl up with it for a reread, my impulse of keeping it is rewarded.

There’s a big story that takes place in big country here. There’s some intrigue, some action, and some wonderful sensuality, some great historical details, some great grit, and some great dailyness of the characters figuring out their places as dynamics change around them. But what I enjoy most are the two very real leads at its heart who work to make their happy ending true and deserved. I like who they are–individually and together–and love the life they forge, fight to keep, and eventually settle into.

Brew a pot of tea and enjoy!


Friday Fun Five

Happy Friday! This week’s guest is Geoff Symon. Thanks, Geoff!

To know more about Geoff Symon, check out or see what he’s up to on twitter (@GeoffSymon). He offers authors of all genres classes and personalized consultation on criminal investigation and forensics. His upcoming classes include SavvyAuthors and an in-person workshop at ThrillerFest this July.


1) If you could wipe your memory of any book so you could read it as brand new, what book would you choose?

My college Statistics textbook? Because if I picked it up as fresh now, I know I’d be all “What the hell is THAT????” and not waste memory space on it. 🙂

Seriously, I think I’d choose To Kill a Mockingbird. The truths in that book are still so relevant today. Every time I read it (which is often) I experience the world building and anxiety and sweetness and horror as if it were my first time anyway.

2) Time travel: Go back through history or forward into the future?

The fantasized version I have of myself is where I’d pick the future. I’d be a Captain Kirk/Frodo Baggins/Buckaroo Banzai and discover new lands/tech/cultures… but the truth of the matter is I know I’m actually a control freak who likes all of his ducks in a (very straight and precise) row, with no surprises around the corner. So if I’m being honest, I’d choose the past every time.

3) Red Vines or Twizzlers?

Twizzlers. Duh.

4) What is your favorite word?

Hence. We don’t have near enough hences anymore. (I’m German, so Schadenfreude is a close close second.)

5) Any obscure and quirky subjects you are fascinated with and thus read and research obsessively?

The physics of super-heroics. If a man was given the power of flight, how high could he really go before he blacked out from lack of oxygen or hypothermia? If he was invulnerable would he be able to feel a pencil enough so that he didn’t snap it every time he tried to write? If you’re in the Arctic would it be better to be the Human Torch where you generate heat for yourself or Ice Man where cold is your norm? You know — the kind of questions everyone asks/researches! Well either that or how to get viable fingerprints off of a deceased person in various stages of decomposition. But that’s not quirky.


Geoff Symon is a 20-year Federal Forensic Investigator and Polygraph Examiner. His participation in high-profile cases includes the attacks on September 11, 2001, the War in Iraq, the Space Shuttle Columbia explosion, tgprinthe 2002 bombings in Bali and the Chandra Levy investigation, among countless other cases. He has direct, first-hand experience investigating cases including murder (of all types), suicide, arson, kidnapping, bombings, sexual assault, child exploitation, theft and financial crimes. He has specified and certified training in the collection and preservation of evidence, blood-spatter analysis, autopsies and laboratory techniques. Today he uses this expertise to aid genre fiction authors in making their works vivid and factual.


Friday Fun Five

Happy Friday! This week’s guest is Susan Lee. Thanks, Susan!

To know more about Susan Lee, check out the blog she co-founded, or see what she’s up to on twitter (@SusanNYLee).


1) You get to resurrect a series (tv, movies, books) from your childhood! What will it be?

Ok… this is totally silly! But I was *just* thinking about this show the other day. There used to be this competition show called “Battle of the Network Stars.” And it would have all these actors from the shows on each network competing in silly games like Simon Says, tug-o-war, obstacle course, dunk tank. I used to LOVE this show… it was on maybe once a season! Anyone… anyone?  I guess with paychecks as much as they are these days, no way actors would risk something like this anymore. Sad.

2) Deep sea or deep space exploration?

I’m TERRIFED of the ocean. I’ve almost drowned twice (once parasailing, being dipped, and not being able to be pulled back up! and another time bodyboarding too close to a pier!). So, I think deep sea would paralyze me. But, I don’t have much desire to go into the black of space either! I guess I’m kind of a chicken when it comes to the unknown!

3) Magical Kingdom or Animal Kingdom?

Hmmm… this one’s tough. I grew up in Southern California so Disneyland lost a bit of its luster for me. I’d DIE to go to Harry Potter world though! Still, I think Animal Kingdom. Some of the animals that you come in contact with in their “natural” habitat are ones you’d never expect to see up close in your lifetime, ya know?

4) What is your favorite word?

Shit. I say it all the time. Without knowing it.  My least favorite word that I also say all the time without knowing it? Like.

5) What’s your dream vacation? Caveat: You get 3 days on an unlimited budget or 30 days on a limited budget.

If a limited budget included food enough to cook, and all the firewood I would need, I’d definitely do 30 days in a mountain cabin during winter. I love the snow and I also love the quiet/seclusion. I just got back from 4 days in a secluded mountain resort (so I guess unlimited budget) and it just wasn’t enough time! As much as I love living in New York City… the noise, the energy… I think it makes me need those quiet times even more!

Susan is a voracious reader, a sometimes blogger, a binge tv watcher, and a professional fangirl. She’s part of thesusan founding team at Boys in our Books, a review blog for LGBTQIA+ books, with reviewers in 6 countries over 8 time zones. Susan recently sold her first short story and is slowly, quietly, and laboriously putting more words to (digital) paper in her new role as wannabe writer.
do good, Uncategorized

Do Good March.15

Every month I feature a way to give back by sharing things I’ve found meaningful to champion. For March 2015 I chose helping good people help dogs. I love dogs so much! I can’t imagine my life (or a lot of my books) without them. But for every dog in a happy home, there are so many more who are still searching for one. Send a cheeseburger Hope For Paws’ direction and start getting great dogs into great forever families!


Hope For Paws || Hope For Paws Facebook & Twitter || Rescue videos on Youtube

Mission Statement:

Audrey and Eldad Hagar have been fostering hundreds of animals in their home for the past eight years.  They created Hope for Paws to help animals in this country who suffer and die every year because of negligence and abuse.  They also created a huge network of rescuers from all over the world on their Facebook pages.

Our fostered animals are a part of our family and are treated as such.  Too often, people undervalue their furry family members and abandon them in their backyards, on the streets or at the shelters.  These animals die from starvation, abuse, and euthanization because of the overcrowding at the shelters.

Pets are not items that can be thrown away or exchanged for younger models. Animals are sentient beings who feel pain, love, joy, mourning, and loss.  These valuable creatures help us whether it is assisting the blind or finding people under the rubble from an earthquake.  They help us in times of war and during human catastrophes.

We want to help both humans and animals alike live harmonious and fulfilling lives together.

Theo – Before & After:


Happy giving, in whatever way you choose to better your world!


Friday Fun Five

Happy Friday! This week’s guest is Suleikha Snyder. Thanks, Suleikha!

To know more about Suleikha Snyder, check out or see what she’s up to on twitter (@suleikhasnyder). Her most recent literary triumphs are Bollywood and the Beast and Opening Act, available from Samhain Publishing and Entangled Publishing, respectively.


1) If you could create a magical chimera, what animals would you combine?

Hmmm. Tough question. How about a kitten, an African grey parrot, and an otter. Mind you, I have no idea what it would look like, but it would be smart, chatty and extremely cute.

 2) Floral or spicy candles?

Spicy candles all the way! I find most floral fragrances cloying, so hook me up with sandalwood and other rich, earthy odors. Are there candles that smell like my mom’s home-cooked Indian food? Because I would be all over that!

3) Canoeing or yachting?

Neither. I’ll just hang out in the boathouse snacking on ice cream bars and Coronas until the rest of you come back to shore. I’m not a big fan of being out on the water.

4) What is your favorite word?

Without a doubt it’s “dude.” I use it as almost every part of speech. I have even exclaimed “Dude!” at some of my bosses and, red-faced, explained, “No! I don’t mean you’re a dude!” I have no idea where this affection for the word came from. I’m not from California. I don’t surf. Maybe the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?

5) You get to vacation for a week within any movie universe–which would you choose to enter?

Part of me wants to say the Marvel Cinematic Universe, because I love that whole franchise (Call me, Cap and Hawkeye!) but I have to go with Om Shanti Om. It’s a splashy, epic, colorful, hyperaware self-parody of the Bollywood film industry, and I think it’d be great to move around in that sphere and hang out on the movie sets in this film-within-a-film context. Plus, I’d finally get to be in a musical number! I’ve always wanted to be in my own montage!

Editor, writer, American desi and lifelong geek, Suleikha Snyder published her first romantic short in 2011, SuleikhaSnyder2015sm.joggoing on to multiple releases in recent years — including three Bollywood romances from Samhain Publishing, SPICE AND SMOKE, SPICE AND SECRETS and BOLLYWOOD AND THE BEAST, and a short in Cleis Press’ SUITE ENCOUNTERS anthology. These days, she’s hard at work on more South Asian-themed romance and erotic romance. Suleikha lives in New York City, finding inspiration in Bollywood films, daytime and primetime soaps and anything that involves chocolate or bacon.


Friday Fun Five

Happy Friday! This week’s guest is Rayna Vause. Thanks, Rayna!

To know more about Rayna Vause, check out or see what she’s up to on twitter (@Rayna_Vause). Her latest literary triumph is the sale of her urban fantasy novel, Demon of Mine, to Dreamspinner Press. Rayna is also the organizer of the Create Something Magical writers’ and readers’ convention, an annual event in Iselin, New Jersey. This year’s conference takes place March 21-22. For details visit


1) Is there a specific quote, essay, or even fortune cookie you once read that’s really stayed with you?

“Well behaved women seldom make history.” by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. This quote appeals to my inner rebel and my sense of adventure. I guess this explains why I’m always being accused of being a trouble maker.

2) Jewel tones or earth tones?


3) Snakes or spiders?

Absolutely snakes. When I was in high school, I volunteered in the Live Animal Unit at the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences. The LAU was home to a variety of animals most of which couldn’t return to the wild due to injury or domestication. In the unit, they had a room that just housed snakes and lizards. While I was working there I got the opportunity to handle ball pythons and boa constrictors. It was at first disconcerting, then sort of awesome. While I have no plans to go out and get myself a pet python, I did develop an appreciation for snakes.

Never been a fan of spiders. Ever since I saw the movie Arachnophobia they’ve really freaked me out. It was those eyes. Ugh, so creepy.

4) What is your favorite word?

Megalomaniacal. It’s the first thing that popped into my head. It’s not a word that I’ve used often, but I have managed to work it into a conversation. Not sure what that says about me. I like the word because it’s a bit of a tongue twister, but also because I’m a Pinky and The Brain fan.


5) You’re getting treated to lunch every day for always–but the meal will always be the same. What’s on the menu?

Tough question. There are so many yummy things to eat on a regular basis. I think I’d have to go with a variety of breakfast foods. Pancakes, waffles, omelets, the works. Of course, I’d need dessert too. The Borders near where I went to college used to sell these chocolate coated walnut brownies. Those would have to be included oh and Daiquiri Ice. It’s this sorbet like creation from Baskin Robbins that has lime in it with a hint of rum flavoring. Yum.

RAYNA VAUSE writes stories that mix a little action, a little adventure, and a little paranormal. Her books feature gay andRayna Vause-4096-color-sm straight couples because everyone deserves a happily ever after. A perpetual student, Rayna has collected more degrees and certifications then she cares to admit. She is also a cat lover, a martial artist, a video game enthusiast, a Disney fanatic, and a Pop Tart aficionado.


March.15 Book Rec

This month’s book recommendation: Watership Down by Richard Adams. A great read for the advent of Spring, and simply a great book.


Being read a chapter a night for bedtime was my introduction to this story. I was enchanted by the world created and thoroughly believing in these rabbits and their epic journey. It’s the first “adventure novel” I read, and primed me as eager to devour other classics in the genre. Also, a detail I find compelling and heartening as an author, Watership Down is another book in the grand tradition of having been rejected several times before a publisher took a chance on it (and thank goodness they did!).

I’ve reread Watership Down twice since those bedtime hours; in junior high for a book report, and as an adult after reaching for it on a whim on a rainy, quiet day. The story rewarded my loyalty and my enchantment returned with each read, even as I gleaned new insights about the rabbits and their tale.

I have named more than one stuffed animal and glimpsed rabbit hiding in the grass Fiver in my day. I became friends with a dog named Hazel who, upon inquiry, was confirmed it was for the stout heroine of this book. And for a long while, Bigwig was an endearment in my house.

This is a story about struggling to survive and overcoming great challenges. Maybe most of all it is a story about family–having and creating one.

Brew a pot of tea and enjoy!