Monday, August 18, 2008

Caught in the Headlights winner and Blog update

Congratulations to Margaret L Turley, winner of my Virtual Book Tour: Caught in the Headlights drawing! Thanks to the author's generosity, Margaret will be receiving an AUTOGRAPHED copy of Caught in the Headlights, directly from Barry K. Phillips.

Thank you to everyone who entered. Giving away books is fun. I'll have to do it again sometime. :-)


I have updated my medieval research with joyce blog with a post on the research book, Life in a Medieval Castle, by Joseph and Frances Gies. If you're interested in medieval research and research tips, check it out!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

JDP NEWS Updates

Hey, all! Good news for those of you who have (or are considering) entering my drawing for a copy of Caught in the Headlights, reviewed in my last post. The author, Barry K. Phillips, has most generously offered to AUTOGRAPH my prize copy directly to the winner! That may mean an extra day or two till you receive the prize, but trust me, it’ll be worth it. Thank you, Barry!

If you haven’t entered my drawing, there’s still time…not a lot of time, but still time. Entries must be in to me by midnight Sunday, August 17th. For details on how to enter, click here. (And have I mentioned what beautiful voices all the entrants have demonstrated so far? But you don’t have to be a great singer to win. Promise!)

That was good news for you. Now here’s some good news for me. Not only is my new book cover finished, but I finally have permission to share it with you! So for those of you who haven’t already seen it on my website or elsewhere, here it is, the unveiling of Loyalty’s Web’s new cover art:

And here’s the old version:

Which do you like best? I’m leaning towards the new version, but I may be prejudiced.

Loyalty’s Web’s release date has been pushed back just a little bit again, to September, but I think the wait will be worth it.

In the meantime, while you’re waiting for the new, improved version of Loyalty’s Web to appear at a bookstore near you (or on a weblink near you…maybe even better!), I’m offering some lucky winner a chance to get to know my heroine, HelĂ©ne, just a little better before Loyallty’s Web comes out. I’ve got a new drawing going on my website at Click on “News & Contests" when you get there for details on how to enter.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Virtual Book Tour: Caught in the Headlights

[Once again, I'm posting this just shy of my Monday morning schedule, because odds of me getting it posted by the Monday 8 AM deadline are slim to none. Hope nobody minds my early jump on the review!]

Book Review of Caught in the Headlights: 10 Lessons Learned the Hard Way, by Barry K. Phillips

From the back cover blurb:

Have you ever gotten what you wished for, only to discover that it's not really what you wanted after all? We've all had those deer in the headlights moments when we realize we've been chasing after the wrong things. Caught in the Headlights is a frank, insightful look at 10 key goals most of us think we want - only to discover our eyes are on the wrong prize. Barry Phillips not only entertains but also examines common values and enlightens us to the goals we should seek, and what to do differently now that we know better. From goals such as happiness, self-esteem, protecting our pride, or the perfect physique, Phillips takes a closer look at those aims prized by society and explores how we can pursue higher goals. A thoughtful, funny, and at times profound look into the real reasons we all have for the things we do, this book will entertain, enlighten, and inspire.

Caught in the Headlights takes us through a tour of ten currently vaunted and often sought after “virtues”, only to turn them on their heads with a spin that leaves us weighing the questions: (1) are they actually the “virtues” we thought they were, and (2) if not, what “virtues” should we be seeking in their place?

Warning: Caught in the Headlights is not a “politically correct” book. If you are easily offended by opinions that differ from your own (or the PC police), read this book at your own risk. The most hot-button chapter of this book will be the one on Tolerance, not because Phillips’ argument isn’t valid, but because of some of the examples he uses. Reading this chapter might actually be a test of just how “tolerant” you really are! Is Phillips allowed to have an opinion that might differ from yours? Only you, the reader, will be able to answer that.

Whether you can see past the “hot button” to Phillips’ real point in the Tolerance chapter or not, don’t put this book down in a huff. If you do, you will miss the very valuable lesson he is weaving throughout the course of the book. Do you want happiness in life? Or would you rather have inner peace? Personally, I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive. I think what Phillips is talking about when he talks about “happiness”, is seeking after an “outward” kind of happiness, the kind that is endlessly elusive, as opposed to that sweet inner happiness and peace that I believe go hand in hand. Caught in the Headlights will not only explain the difference between the two, it will tell you what you can actually do to achieve the latter. And it will do so with humor (his writing won more than a few chuckles out of me) and poetry—yes, poetry!—which, regardless of how good it may or may not be, often drives home his point with even greater clarity than the narration that precedes it. (Not that his narration isn’t good—it is! The poetry just carries an extra punch.)

My favorite line in the entire book is also the one that sums the book’s theme up most completely: “…selfishness is the anti-peace”.

Who can argue with that? Who would even want to? Read Caught in the Headlights and give its “So what do I do about it?” suggestions a try. You’ll be glad you did.
Caught in the Headlights can be purchased from Amazon.

You can learn more about Barry K. Phillips on his website or visit his blog.


Would you like to win a copy of Caught in the Headlights of your very own? (Unsigned. Sorry!) If so, type “Me-me-me-meee!!! while singing those words to the first 4 notes of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony (you're on your honor here), along with your name and email address in the comments section of this post. A winner will be drawn and announced on Monday, August 18th, so be sure to check back then!


And the winner of last week’s Virtual Book Tour Room for Two drawing is…Valerie Ipson! Congratulations, Valerie. A copy of Room for Two will be on its way to you, as soon as I confirm your mailing address. Thank you to all who entered!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Another Virtual Book Tour Feature: Room for Two


Review of Room for Two, by Abel Keogh:

From the back cover blurb:

"Sweetie, I'm home." I tried to put as much kindness into my voice as possible. I didn't want to have another argument - at least not right away. Silence. "Sweetheart?" A gunshot echoed from our bedroom, followed by the sound of a bullet casing skipping along a wall. Everything slowed down.

When a life is destroyed, when guilt says you played a role in its destruction, how do you face the days ahead? Twenty-six-year-old Abel Keogh chooses to ignore the promptings he receives concerning his wife's mental illness, and now he feels he is to blame for her choices. If only he had listened . . .

At some point in our lives, each of us face devastating afflictions and must eventually cope with loss. Regardless of how it happens, the outcome is still the same - we are left isolated, alone, wondering what we could have done differently, and where we can turn for peace. This is Abel's story in his own words. His search for peace and the miracle that follows is proof that love and hope can endure, despite the struggles and tragedies that shape each of our lives.

Please take this, not as a criticism, but as a mere comment about this book: If you are a “sensitive” reader, you might find the first three chapters of Room for Two a bit disturbing. Admittedly, I did myself (because I’m a “sensitive reader”).

That is by no means to say that there is not much of great value in Abel Keogh’s retelling of his journey to understand the reasons for his wife’s suicide, his struggles to forgive both her and himself for opportunities missed, and his difficult journey to find healing, peace and eventually, new love.

Because Keogh chooses to tell his story almost in novel fashion, rather than narrative, it is sometimes easy to forget that one is reading a “true story” and not a work of fiction. Swept along by the story, I frequently had to pause and remind myself that the experiences “Abel” was going through had happened to an actual, living, breathing person, and not to a character of fiction. The reminder is important, because that realization gives the book a whole different impact. In fact, the very incidents that disturbed me in the first three chapters, disturbed me because I knew they were “real” as opposed to “fictional”. A certain level of detachment usually comes with reading fiction. With that detachment stripped away, much of the opening became much more difficult for me, personally, to read.

Another difference: novels often tend to try to tie up difficult questions with easy answers. “Real life” is much more messy, and sometimes, there are questions that, quite simply, can never be answered. Keogh ultimately faces the “unanswerable” with honesty and faith.

This book should give readers new insights into an often overlooked segment of society. Divorces are so common, we are often quick to empathize with one side or the other. But a young widower of twenty-six? Keogh addresses the subject of awkward, well-meaning friends and family members seeking to help him “move on”, or, perhaps worse in all too many cases, to “hold back”. He also faces the challenge of a potential new love who finds herself struggling to overcome the “ghost” of the woman he lost, not by choice (as too often happens in a divorce), but by an unexpected death. A woman he was still deeply in love with when the tragedy happened.

Eventually, Keogh learns how to make “room for two” in his heart, and puts at rest his new love’s fears.

The struggles he goes through should open all our eyes to anyone working their way through a similar experience, and make us more compassionate, less judgmental, and more understanding of how we can be supportive (rather than awkward) towards someone facing this kind of suffering.

In the end, however, Room for Two is not about suffering, but about hope. I recommend this book for the new insights you will gain while reading it. But if you’re a “sensitive reader”, you might want to gloss through the first three chapters, and dive in around Chapter 4.

About the Author:

Abel Keogh is a columnist and editor of and host of the radio talk show The Abel Hour. He has been a website programmer and technical writer. Aside from writing, Abel enjoys running and lifting weights. He has a bachelor's degree from Weber State University. He and his wife, Julianna, are the parents of two boys and a girl.

Room for Two can be purchased on Amazon.

You can read more about Abel Keogh on his website, or visit his blog.

Abel Keogh can be contacted via email at



If you'd like a chance to win a copy of Room for Two (sorry, not autographed), leave a comment on this post with your name, email address, and the words: "Me me me! I want a copy of Room for Two!" (If you'd rather not post your email address here, you can send it to me at I'll hold a blind drawing on August 11th. So don't delay!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Latest Drawing Winner

Congratulations to Amy Smith of California, winner of my website "Leave a Comment, Win a Prize" drawing! Amy is the winner of a $15 gift certificate for Amazon.

Thank you to all who entered, and especially to those who shared comments about my website. I will be using many of your suggestions to improve my website soon!

Check out AuthorIsland for the winners of the 2nd Birthday Bash winners of the two Amazon Kindles!

Coming next week: The unveiling of the new cover art for Loyalty's Web. So stay tuned!