#WATWB – This Coffee Company Keeps Girls in School and Protects the Rainforest – Goodnet

Welcome to October edition of #WATWB – We are the World Blogfest, where bloggers join in and post something positive that is going on in the world, random acts of kindness.


This special coffee company is in a rainforest in Mozambique, with a mission to build 100 schools – helping to keep girls in school one cup of coffee at a time. Every bag of beans sold globally benefits rainforest deforestation, wildlife conservation, or girl’s education.



“Educating women is educating a nation”

“I don’t want to get married, I want to go to school”


This Coffee Company Keeps Girls in School and Protects the Rainforest


Many girls in Mozambique drop out of school by the fifth-grade because many families cannot afford secondary school for their daughters. And child marriages are prevalent in the country with 48 percent of girls married by age-18 and 14 percent by age-15 according to the organization Girls Not Brides.

The company’s mission, Eric Wilburn, director of Gorongosa Coffee, told Global Citizen, is for every girl who lives in the national park to complete high school. It could take 15-years for that goal to be fully recognized.

“It costs right now about $500 a year to send the girl to boarding school in Mozambique, and that’s for tuition, room and board, clothes, books, travel — yet most of these families earn less than $1 a day,” he said.

The coffee project’s website tells the story of its founding in Gorongosa National Park – one of the most biodiverse places on the planet –  and about the resiliency of the people and land of Mozambique.

After the 17-year civil war ended in 1992, the land and the people were scarred and suffering. It took a few years but a ground-breaking conservation project to restore the wildlife and ecosystems in Gorongosa National Park began in 2008.

Part of the restoration included investing in the health, education, and employment opportunities of the people who live there, the company said. This, “empowers them to be the guardians of Gorongosa.”

In 2015, the project partnered with local farmers and coffee growing experts to plant coffee on Mount Gorongosa with the goal of restoring the rainforest that had been destroyed by the war and unsustainable farming practices as well as to give farmer’s a dependable income source.

Coffee thrives in the region, and today, farmers are planting 200,000 coffee plants a year along with 100,000 rainforest trees that help the coffee grow. The Gorongosa Trust was set up to fund all the conservation and community efforts. . . continue reading


Original Source: This Coffee Company Keeps Girls in School and Protects the Rainforest – Goodnet


If you’d like to join in and share a feel good post, you can add your post to the #WATWB Facebook page HERE. We post the last Friday every month. This month’s hosts are:

Sylvia McGrath,
Mary Giese ,
Shilpa Garg,
Sylvia SteinBelinda Witzenhausen



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Techno Madness Woes – #WordPress Editor, #Facebook and Some Tips!

This is kind of a rant, but some good information for those of you who may be engaging with technical snafus yourself.

Mercury retrograde


I don’t know about you guys, but this Mercury Retrograde has been nothing but agro. Seems the tech gods are all over each other outdoing each other, overriding each other’s technology. And who pays for the madness, bloggers do for sure. I know about the tech snafus that have been plaguing me, and have heard the condemnations from others.


bitmo Tech update


I’ll begin with the ‘new’ Facebook layout – about hijacking my page as I knew it. And judging by the many bad reviews I’ve read along the way in my searches to ‘bring back the old Facebook’, I read lots of disgruntled complaints with others looking for their own fixes and sharing what works. About a month ago FB started their rollout of the ‘new’ and NOT improved FB. It’s stark white background. . . No, let me rephrase that – it’s blinding! Everything is moved around no headers show, and there is ‘apparently,’ an option where you can put the background in ‘dark mode’. But of course, when one day my FB screen suddenly went glaring white on me, I seeked help from a few writing friends who informed me they had the option to change the screen color. Nope, I didn’t, and after an hour of searching, I read that not everyone might get the screen option til later. Well, how about you leave my damn screen alone until you’re out of beta and forcing it on us? Just a thought. My eyes were sore after five minutes looking at the screen.

So naturally, I had to search for ‘there must be a way.’ I found a Chrome extension called Revert. I added it and presto! Old FB was back . . .until a few days ago. Then it was instant fade to white and the extension stopped working. After more searching around I found the alert Chrome had posted already saying that the extension won’t work anymore because FB has overriden the extension. But they left a hopeful message saying they were determined to come up with a fix. Waiting.

In the meantime, my gal pal Sally Cronin informed me about a little trick she’d been using to avoid the ‘white plague’. She discovered if you have a ‘group’ page on FB and you’re an admin on the page, and if you go to the page, there’s an offering to ‘go back to old layout’ for 48 hours. I’m on my 3rd – 48 hour refresher now, and Sally has been on it for weeks. We’re both hoping it keeps working until there’s a new fix.

Oh, and one more thing about FB – a notification popped up as my screen was morphing from old FB to shades of white, saying that by November 5th, FB will be taking away our titles on our ‘Pages’ – translation for authors – our author pages. So, our “Professional Skills”, will be removed from our Page. So what? Secret identities now? Lol.


If anyone wants to read the lowdown on all the tweaks Facebook has done, Lifehacker.com has an in-depth description with diagrams and all. 


Wordpress Woes


I’m self hosted, so I had – ‘had’ being the operative word, control over NOT changing over to WordPress Gutenberg Block editor. I added the ‘classic editor’ plugin when I heard ‘stirrings’ of losing the classic editor, so I WAS fine. But it’s like one guy’s technology must be superior to another’s again, like FB overriding Google Chrome’s ‘Revert’ extension, rendering it now useless. By keeping the classic editor, I had to find a fix for a temporary plugin to keep the other plugins playing nice until the code writer of my SEO program came up with new code to keep up with the WordPress big upgrade about a month ago. Crazy, and so much wasted writing time when you’re spending it Google searching instead.

And so yes, I’m stubbornly fighting off that new block editor, of which I have zero interest in learning. I just wish it wouldn’t keep interfering now with the way it will now no longer allow me to add line spaces. Yes. Our blogging freedoms seem challenged when we try not to conform.

I don’t have time to learn a new computer language. I’m already trying to learn proper Spanish (as opposed to the broken Spanglish I use in Mexico) using Duolingo, which I highly recommend btw, and that will be another post to come. But I digress, now, for my latesty discovery:

After the big WP update a few weeks ago, once again things weren’t working the same – mainly, my choice of line and paragraph spacing had evaporated. Lots of blogging friends have been complaining of weird shenanigans with their blogs lately. But the worst of it is putting together my Q & A interviews that won’t allow me to leave space  – and alas, I found the cure for adding my own spaces – two dots and white font!

After surfing around for fixes for hours one night, I discovered an easy fix for spaces. There were various methods offered that required code, and I’m not even going there. And finally I learned why I could no longer space my articles out the way I choose, it’s because of some glitches where the ‘new’ WP block editor is treating my writing page as though there are invisible assigned blocks. Kind of like it’s trying to bust in on my classic editor.

Say what? Enough of this crap! I took the easy fix – the one for laymen learning – hit enter at the end of a line then type in 2 periods – like this:  .. Then highlight the 2 dots and change the font to white (not purple like I’ve shown for demo purposes). Then hit enter and voila! A line space created. Want another line? Do the exact same thing. And it is for all these incidents and more that I highly recommend everyone PREVIEW your blogs before you post them. Amazing the funky things that show up NOT, like line spaces I have to fix – and of course, add lines.  Example again:  2 dots .., highlight them in white .. now they won’t show but they’ve taken up a line. Hit enter and repeat til your heart’s content.

Just Sayin'


And a word about word . . .

Word pisses me off. Every year they update the version and make it worse than it was the year before when it was already worse from the year before that. Microsoft, PLEASE stop changing the ribbon!

Okay, I’m done now. Thanks for listening to me rant as this mercury mania takes over my life. And I hope my findings may help someone else.


*I’ve added a note here to the original post. I wanted to mention to fellow bloggers that WordPress has also been hiding SOME blogs I follow regularly. First I thought, maybe a few have taken a week off, but no, they haven’t. I just popped over to the WP Reader and clicked on some of the blogs I follow but aren’t getting notified about. It seems WP has taken the liberty to ‘unfollow’ some of my favorite blogs! I’ve just re-followed. Check the reader for blogs you aren’t receiving notifications for and reset them!


Got a Facebook or WordPress woe you’d like to share?



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Smorgasbord Health Column – UnSeasonal Affective Disorder – The Missing Link – Vitamin D by Sally Cronin | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

For those of you who aren’t aware, Sally Cronin isn’t only an amazing author and blogger, but she is a certified nutritionist. And among her many series she holds at her Smorgasbord Invitation, Sally shares important information about health and simple things we can do to keep our bodies in check – especially as we age.

This a great accompaniment article to Sally’s Cholesterol series, today – Sally educates us on the importance of our bodies getting enough Vitamin D – especially in Covid times, today at Smorgasbord Health.

Sally also explains the link between Vitamin D and statin drugs and how to get enough of the vitamin in our diets, along with proper dosages.


Smorgasbord Health Column – UnSeasonal Affective Disorder – The Missing Link – Vitamin D by Sally Cronin



Normally I would refer to Seasonal Affective Disorder in February as the winter months take their toll on our physical, mental and emotional health. However, reading the various reports in the media on Vitamin D Deficiency being one of the causes for susceptibility to Covid-19 and raised concerns on the levels of mental health issues including depression, the comments from readers who are experiencing lack of energy and focus, I began to see some parallels to SAD, but six months ahead of schedule. You can find more about SAD in Part One

Regular visitors will have read my previous posts on Vitamin D but as one of the key nutrients for the efficiency of our immune system, I will keep banging this particular drum.

First a reminder if you missed the first post in this series of the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Unexplained weight gain and loss
  • Slow growth in children,
  • Overeating of carbohydrates and sugars
  • Insomnia
  • Increased infections.

In my recent series Project 101 – Resilience I shared some of the recent research into the nutrient’s connection to the current pandemic.

There have been a number of risk factors identified that put certain groups of the population at a higher risk of a critical outcome from being infected with Covid- 19 – one of these is a deficiency of Vitamin D which is also a key nutrient in preventing SAD.

It was initially thought to be more common in those living in the Northern Hemisphere. However, there is also evidence that shows that middle-aged women in countries such as Greece and Italy also suffer from Vitamin D deficiency, largely due to the fact that they tend to cover up and avoid the sunshine. Many countries now fortify dairy products and other foods and that does appear to help the deficiency status of the population.

There have been a number of studies to determine if in fact having sufficient Vitamin D levels offers protection or minimises the severity of Covid-19, and this is obviously going to be ongoing and interesting to follow. . . continue reading at Sally’s blog.


Sally Cronin's books

Visit Sally’s Books



Original Source: Smorgasbord Health Column – UnSeasonal Affective Disorder – The Missing Link – Vitamin D by Sally Cronin | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine



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Sunday Movie Review -The Glorias – #Feminism – #Docu-Drama – Gloria Steinem

Welcome to my special edition of Sunday Movie Reviews. I try to have a book read a week so I can share my reviews and introduce you to books you may be interested in – plus reviews are always a great thing to do for fellow authors. But as life isn’t always predictable and doesn’t permit my finishing on time, I like to share Movie Reviews in lieu of. I only post movies that draw me in and captivate – good subject matter plus good acting. This week’s movie I’m sharing is a well-done biographic movie, tastefully done as a biopic docudrama including some live footage – The Glorias – the life of Gloria Steinem and the beginnings of her rise to infamous feminist, excellently portrayed by actress Julienne Moore as the older Gloria and three other actresses portraying her younger years.



My review is for the movie, but I’m sharing the book here – My Life on the Road for those interested in reading some Steinem. I think I will get this book too.

If you click on the ‘buy’ link, you can scroll down  to the author bio and click ‘read more’. There is a copyrighted ‘excerpt’ of the book which plays out very close to how the movie was depicted, how the movie began with Gloria and her poor family, her love for her father and the sadness about her mother.


About the Author

Gloria Marie Steinem, born March 25th, 1934, is a writer, lecturer, editor, feminist, and political activist. In 1972, she co-founded Ms. magazine, and she remained one of its editors for fifteen years. In 1968, she helped found New York magazine, where she was a political columnist and wrote feature articles. Her books include the bestsellers Revolution from Within, Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions, Moving Beyond Words, Marilyn: Norma Jeane, and As if Women Matter (published in India). Steinem has received the Penney-Missouri Journalism Award, the Front Page and Clarion awards, the National Magazine Award, the Women’s Sports Journalism Award, the Lifetime Achievement in Journalism Award from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Society of Writers Award from the United Nations, the James Weldon Johnson Award for Journalism, and many others. In 2013, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.


Gloria Steinem—writer, activist, organizer, and inspiring leader—now tells a story she has never told before, a candid account of her life as a traveler, a listener, and a catalyst for change. Includes “Secrets,” a new chapter!

When people ask me why I still have hope and energy after all these years, I always say: Because I travel. Taking to the road—by which I mean letting the road take you—changed who I thought I was. The road is messy in the way that real life is messy. It leads us out of denial and into reality, out of theory and into practice, out of caution and into action, out of statistics and into stories—in short, out of our heads and into our hearts.

Gloria Steinem had an itinerant childhood. When she was a young girl, her father would pack the family in the car every fall and drive across country searching for adventure and trying to make a living. The seeds were planted: Gloria realized that growing up didn’t have to mean settling down. And so began a lifetime of travel, of activism and leadership, of listening to people whose voices and ideas would inspire change and revolution.

My Life on the Road is the moving, funny, and profound story of Gloria’s growth and also the growth of a revolutionary movement for equality—and the story of how surprising encounters on the road shaped both. From her first experience of social activism among women in India to her work as a journalist in the 1960s; from the whirlwind of political campaigns to the founding of Ms. magazine; from the historic 1977 National Women’s Conference to her travels through Indian Country—a lifetime spent on the road allowed Gloria to listen and connect deeply with people, to understand that context is everything, and to become part of a movement that would change the world.

In prose that is revealing and rich, Gloria reminds us that living in an open, observant, and “on the road” state of mind can make a difference in how we learn, what we do, and how we understand each other.

Praise for My Life on the Road

“Like Steinem herself, [My Life on the Road] is thoughtful and astonishingly humble. It is also filled with a sense of the momentous while offering deeply personal insights into what shaped her.”O: The Oprah Magazine

“A lyrical meditation on restlessness and the quest for equity . . . Part of the appeal of My Life is how Steinem, with evocative, melodic prose, conveys the air of discovery and wonder she felt during so many of her journeys. . . . The lessons imparted in Life on the Road offer more than a reminiscence. They are a beacon of hope for the future.”USA Today

“A warmly companionable look back at nearly five decades as itinerant feminist organizer and standard-bearer. If you’ve ever wondered what it might be like to sit down with Ms. Steinem for a casual dinner, this disarmingly intimate book gives a pretty good idea, mixing hard-won pragmatic lessons with more inspirational insights.”The New York Times

“Steinem rocks. My Life on the Road abounds with fresh insights and is as populist as can be.”The Boston Globe

“In person and in her writing, Steinem exudes a rare combination of calm, humility and honesty about her weaknesses that explains all she has accomplished.”Jezebel


My 5 Star Movie Review:

Four actresses played the gradual years of Gloria Steinem. Julienne Moore plays Steinem at her height of fame in the 70s and beyond. A journalist in the making in a male dominant world – almost Madmenesque in comparison is what  Gloria is faced with when she comes back from India in her early twenties and wants to publish the stories she wrote of the suffering, abuse and oppression of women of India, but a male dominant world isn’t interested in women’s opinions, much less allowing them to publish back in the 1950s. This is the story about how she became an organizer and a rising star for the Women’s Liberation Movement. She was a crusader, culminated from her many experiences of interviewing women, inspiring her to stand up against a culture so dominated by the male perspective.

Gloria educated women about themselves and their worth. She grew up questioning why a woman’s mind wasn’t as important as a man’s. And although her aim was to fight for women’s equality and rights, we learn about her stagefright and the women who cheered her on and taught her to use her voice publicly.

The movie begins in Steinem’s childhood years where her father was a poor traveling antique salesman with a wild imagination that encapsulated Gloria’s imagination. Her mother was a depressed woman, and as the movie doesn’t go into many details, Gloria learns her mother was a writer in her earlier life, of course under a penned name because women writers weren’t published under their own names in those times. As Gloria grows through the movie and thinks back on pivotal moments in her life, the movie has scenes where two Glorias at different ages are seen conversing with each other. These scenes, as well as some beautiful dramatized ‘dream’ sequences also take us right into her life.

At twenty, Steinem went to India to study, which opened her curiosity and the doors that led her to journalism and her rise to an icon as a leader for women’s rights. Despite her stagefright, Steinem was a woman who asked questions – why can’t women do that? Why do only men get to become journalists, as she got herself in her first journalist reporting job in a man’s world. She asks why only men were editors. She wasnt brash, just natural and honest.

Steinem faced a lot of male dominated pushback. She got her first articles published at the New York Times, where she was hired to write for the ladies column, which of course was a stepping stone for her, but writing ‘Susie Homemaker’ articles wasn’t her interest. She went undercover as a Playboy bunny to get a real feel for how woman were treated like objects, then took the verbal tauntings and sexual harassment at the Times, by powerful men journalists who were womanizers, expecting her to jump up from her writing to serve them coffee,  and subjected to sexual harassment. She’d had enough and left as we get a glimpse of the backroom politics of the era.

Steinem was a calm voice of reason in the midst of rising hatred and extremists. Her followers came from of all communities and walks of life – globally – all women of every race, creed and color looked to her as an icon of the times. Women’s equal rights movements were reborn again and this time millions of women around the world heard the call.

In the 1970s  Steinem co-founded Ms. Magazine, she was responsible for initiating the beginning of the acceptance of Ms. to become a legal salutation.

Gloria Steinem came from humble beginnings and remains humble to this day. Gloria was and is one of the most inspiring, influential, bold and legendary women of modern history.


*This movie is available free if you have Amazon Prime.


One poignant line caught my attention and had me nodding in affirmation:

“Writers and dancers have fear of public speaking they are used to speaking through the written word or their art.”



Quotes that resonated from the movie – These quotes are taken from a recent speech Steinem gave at the Women’s March in 2018, footage shown at the end of the movie:


“Thank you for understanding that sometimes, we must put our bodies where our beliefs are. Sometimes, pressing send is not enough.”

“We are here and around the world for a deep democracry that says, we will not be quiet, we will not be controled.”

“God may be in the details, but the goddess is in  connections”

“We are linked, we are not ranked. We are the people.”

“We have people power and we will use it. This is the upside of the downside. This is an outpouring of energy and a true democracy like I have never seen in my very long life. It is wise with age, it is deep in diversity. And remember the constitution does not begin with ‘I the president’, it begins with we the people.”


If you’d like to read more about Gloria Steinem




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Q & A with D.G. Kaye – Featuring Valentina Cirasola -#Travel – #Design

Welcome to my Q & A today where I’m featuring the colorful fashionista, home designer and author Valentina Cirasola and her latest book – The Road To Top of The World – Short stories in the land of Puglia. This book sounds like a glorious tour and tasting of her hometown in Puglia, Italy, in her personal travelogue. And Valentina also shares a sneak peek into her upcoming release.


Valentina Cirasola


Meet Valentina:

I am Italian born, my native city is Bari, a beautiful place in the South-East region of Puglia, on the Adriatic Sea. I began my design career in Italy as a fashion designer and worked in my own Atelier Valentina. Growing up in Italy, often I wondered what I could have possibly found beyond that horizon I was admiring every day. The saying goes: “Be careful what you wish for, it might happen.”

Well, it did happen. One day, as an opportunity was presented to me, I left my fashion work, my family, and friends to make a giant leap over the ocean. I landed in the United States where I  started a new life and a new design business all over again, without knowing a soul. It was very hard, and it didn’t come easy. At times, I even doubted myself to have done the right move, however, I am the type of person that when sets the mind on something gets it done, no excuses, and thus I went on pursuing my goals.

One of my clients suggested turning to design homes and to leave the fashion to the Italians. In the States, the majority of people don’t spend much money on fashion, but they invest in their homes and properties. She told me that and was right.

I went back to college, I was fortunate my Italian studies were fully approved, I only had to attend a few years to get certified in interior designing. That’s what I have been doing since then, which amounts to 30 years of design work between Italy and the USA. A few years ago, I also became a TV producer and added this fun activity to my design career. I am the host of my shows and produce them under my label: Valentina Design Universe.

In 2008 the country was under a heavy economic recession, it was the right moment to write that book I have always wanted to write. Up to that moment, I was writing articles for local magazines and papers, I needed to think of writing my first book. I did it and wrote five books after that and I opened up my three blog columns.

My books are non-fictional, they are practical suggestions in design, fashion, cooking, and travel. At the moment I am writing one more book in the design fields called: “Design Nature For A Colorful Home”. It will be published by Nov. 2020. I am also writing a study course for people who want to design their home by themselves without a professional designer. The course is called: ©Be Your Own Interior Designer. I enjoy writing about the subjects I know, and it doesn’t seem I will stop anytime soon.



The Road To Top Of The World is available on Amazon and Barnes&Noble. Paperbackhttps://tinyurl.com/y7tuyfh8 – Kindle – https://amzn.to/2H7ipGE



This book is a travel narrative of one trip To Puglia I organized with American friends and curious travelers willing to explore, learn, experience, taste and dream in a land they had never visited before and in a language totally foreign to them. A wheel of new emotions opened up before their eyes, they tried food didn’t even know existed, learned to cook in ancient kitchens; they learned to appreciate the nightlife, learned to live without phones, watches and technologies; copied Italian fashion, learned about traditions, rituals, country and folk celebrations; they all tried to learn local dialects and some succeeded well. Their perspective to life was forever changed.


Excerpt: The Road To Top Of The World


“The town of Gravina di Puglia has changed so much since I was a teenager going there with my parents to visit relatives. It is not as small as I recall it. Gravina of today looks like a modern town, it is vibrant, culturally different and too many cars for my taste crowding the small streets. No longer I see farmer’s tractors stockpiling grain, and flocks of sheep in the streets walking at their leisure.

We park the car near the center piazza or villa, as it was called long ago. The villa was a place where on Sundays all the young women went to show themselves off to promising young lads. The procession of women heavily and smartly adorned with the latest fashion went on for hours under the watchful eyes of relatives walking by casually, as if they found their way there by chance. Something always happened between boys and girls, giggling, laughing, or simply a small talk to study the energy or to enjoy the charisma of the other person. Just like in all the courting scenes, rejection of a bothersome lad was common if his look and talk was not quite convincing or didn’t meet the woman’s expectations. Rejection, however, was not always a real rejection in all its meaning, it was another way to prolong the pleasure of making the man waiting for a YES.

In Italian there is a saying: “se la donna si nega, l’uomo si piega” (if the woman doesn’t give herself away, the man bends to her will).

In that villa stroll, it was common for pretty girls to receive an invitation to a dancing party in someone’s home (we didn’t go to a discotheque then) or an invitation to go out for a simple walk. Thinking back, those times seem now so romantic and so innocent! Everything revolved around putting on the best behavior and the best clothes to get a good catch.



L. Carmichael

Reviewed in the United States on July 26, 2020

The Road to the Top of the World is a travelogue written by Valentina Cirasola, a wonderful author, designer, and artist who hails from Italy. I’ve read a few of the writer’s books in the past, but this one is special because I received a signed copy from her in the mail. Of course, it was already on my reading list… and as Tropic Storm Fay descends upon NYC today, I decided to embrace the culture of Puglia, the heart of this book. Though I’m typically a fiction reader, this one appeals to me for many reasons. Not only is Valentina a brilliant creative mind, but she brings an inspirational outlook on life through her words and pictures. It’s unusual to have a witty and knowledgeable expert who’s lived in the area and visited it as a guest once moving to the USA. Through this perfect combination, we’re lucky to experience something few others get to in their lifetime.

Imagine a few weeks spent in Puglia, traveling through shops, gardens, homes, restaurants, museums, and so much more. Valentina takes us on a whirlwind tour of making our own foods, exploring the history of civilization in the area, and viewing art we might not see unless we went in person. I learned some wonderful tips or making my own pasta sauce differently than I already do! By incorporating her personal opinions, and those of her traveling group, we receive a well-rounded viewpoint of the trip. Sometimes I felt like I was there… others, I was marking down things I must see in a future trip. The best part of the book is the way in transports you into a new world… and while reading it, I remembered what it was like to be in Italy a few years ago.

Europeans, perhaps more specifically Italians, have grasped La Dolce Vita, and this author can bring you much closer to it. Valentina’s words and natural love for the area shines in her messages here. Life can be short. Experience it as best you can. Make your own foods. See how others live. Understand the limitations of the past and how it created the amazing gifts we have today. Someone had to discover all these things… pasta, sauce, pizza, limoncello… and here, you can come pretty close to it by sampling a few pages of her book. You’ll enjoy the author’s personality, an Americanized version of an Italian soul, one who knows exactly how to convey all that we are missing here! Part personal itinerary, part memorable journal, it will make you smile and grow hungry. Is it too early to visit Italy again?


Well, I’m thrilled to have Valentina here today and get to know a bit about her and her exciting life stories. Italy happens to be my favorite country so I am eager to be transported soon when I read it. So let’s get to know Valentina:




Do some of your own character traits or personal experiences spill into your book’s characters?
My books are non-fictional practical ideas to apply in the home, fashion, cooking and travel.
My character traits and personal experiences showed up only in one of my books, it is a travel narrative and I am the person telling the stories.
D.G. – I can identify, as a nonfiction writer myself.
What hobbies do you enjoy when not writing?
I have many hobbies, most of them are in the creative arts.
I love to paint unfinished furniture with raw wood or makeover used furniture.
I love to crochet very extravagant pieces, and I love to remake clothes in a new way. I am with a camera in my hands all day long because I love to take pictures of anything interesting to my eyes. I take care of my garden and grow a bit of food, something I learned only a few years ago when I moved to California.
At night, I love to watch foreign films.
D.G. – I can only imagine how busy you are between all your creative projects.
What are your writing goals for this year?
I am just about ready to publish another book on home design subject, which it will the 6th published book of my list. This one is about the relation between nature and the interior of our home. I am also writing a study program for those people who want to be their own interior designer and design their own home without hiring a professional designer.
D.G. – Wow! I suspect that will be a most hopeful book for homeowners. I know from owning a few homes, the important things I take in consideration about nature when looking for a home – especially which direction the sun glares in the hot afternoons.
Tell us something about yourself we’d never have guessed.
Cooking is one of my greatest passion. I am an autodidact in culinary arts, I have professional culinary kills, and I cook like a chef. I like to organize theme dinner parties at my home, like a Renaissance dinner I did a couple of months ago. My challenge is to find the closest ingredients to make an original dinner of a particular era. Guests receive the theme in advance, to give them time to research and be prepared to converse at the table.
One other time, I organized an October fest dinner, German style, with rivers of German beers, huge pretzels, a load of Würstel home-made by a German butcher, and much more. During the dinner each guest had to tell a curiosity of a real Bavarian beer fest, something they had personally experienced or something they learned. My dinner themes are learning, creative experiences while enjoying food of a different era or country. It keeps people from fighting about political divergent views, or other subjects that might offend someone.
It happens often in one of friends’ home. She invites people for dinner, she slaves in the kitchen for hours or days, and the guests end up fighting after a few glasses of wines as they don’t agree on anything. Imagine that….I would throw them out the door.
D.G. – I think that would be so much fun to go to one of your themed parties. I wish I lived closer. 🙂
Do you have any advice you can share for new writers?
Write with your own voice and style, about anything you like. There is a place for everybody in this world, there will always be people who like to read about your subjects.
D.G. – I wholeheartedly agree!
How has writing changed your life?
Being a writer opened many doors I could not open before. People see me in a different light and want to hear about what I have to say when I speak in public or organize book presentations, which is a more personal way of selling books than online.
D.G. – There’s nothing like personal presentations to connect with readers.
What would you still like to learn more about as an author?
I have not learned yet everything there is to know about being an author, however, I would like to learn to write for a theatre comedy, or a play.
D.G. – And the thought of screenwriting somehow appeals to me too.
Valentina has another new and soon to be released book –Design Nature For A Colorful Home, and she’s sharing a bit of sneak peek:
Design Nature
“If you pick up a camera and take a picture of anything that strikes your eyes, it doesn’t have to be a real object, or something with a meaning, just study that picture you took and you will see the reason why you immortalized that “something”. One day, I took a photo of a succulent plant in my garden, not
because it was particularly beautiful, but because I was attracted by the yellow decorative butterfly light inside the pot and by the yellow ceramic piece outside the pot. This told me I was craving “Yellow Vibrations”
Going to the grocery shop, taking pictures of the flower bouquets in the store, and forgetting to buy food is not something common people do. The sight of beautiful flowers with attractive colors and the well-arranged bouquets were, every time I was at a food store, a higher distraction than the need to bring back groceries.
I have chosen to talk about nature and the relations to colors for home interiors because nature is our best friend and companion, she always gives us the pleasure of beauty, harmony and peace. This book focuses on how to take advantage of nature’s colors and turn them in doable solutions.
The home has a spirit that will love you if you create an inspiring, healthy, vibrant home for the body, mind and spirit. Everyone will feel comfortable in a home conceived in such a manner and love will grow. Shall we start from the colors of flowers?”
Connect with Valentina:
Social Links:
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Writer’s Tips – Submissions, Website Essentials, Author #Marketing Tools

October edition of Writer’s Tips. This edition has some great lists on what’s open for submissions, what you need for an effective author website, and apps for authors to help create marketing ads.



Doris Heilmann of 111 Publishing offers an extensive list for writers to submit

Writers: Lots of Grants, Fellowships, and Prizes for YOU


Joan Hall is over at the Story Empire with some helpful tips on the essentials for your author website



Author Judith Briles is featured at the Bookdesigner’s blog offering up some helpful apps for authors to use for marketing

A Few of My Favorite Author Marketing Tools


Question: Authors, have you used Book Brush? If so, I’m interested in learning how you think it differs from Canva?



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Sunday Book Review – The Emissary – Book 3 – Love Hurts by Marcia Meara

My Sunday Book Review is for Marcia Meara’s new release – Love Hurts – book 3 in her Emissary series. Jake and Dodger were chosen, after they died, for the first emissary program by their boss, the angel Azrael. They are like heaven sent earth angels who live in their former human forms and save people from either themselves, or from doing something criminal.




The archangel Azrael created his emissaries to help mortals avoid choices that would doom them for eternity. He hadn’t planned on the youngest member of the team falling in love with one. In Marcia Meara’s final installment of her Emissary Trilogy, a Riverbend spinoff series of novellas, we find our heroes facing a new problem, and it’s all because Dodger died before having a chance to learn what love was all about. His request that Azrael help him correct that situation causes a multitude of problems no one could have foreseen. Except the angel, himself.


Azrael’s emissary program was growing daily, but it still met with stubborn opposition from many on the Council of Angels. Dodger’s request to be allowed to experience what falling in love was all about didn’t help matters, but Azrael thought the boy was onto something. He agreed emissaries who’d shared a loving relationship during their mortal lives would have a deeper understanding of human emotions and motivations, thus enhancing the skills needed to do their jobs.


With that in mind, Azrael gave Dodger one chance to search for true love. He then laid down a daunting set of stringent rules and guidelines that could not be broken under any circumstances lest dire happenings occur. But while the angel sincerely hoped Dodger would find a way to make this endeavor work, he feared an avalanche of unintended consequences could be in store for his youngest emissary.


Sometimes even angels hate to be right.


Will Azrael ever tire of popping up behind Jake just to see his first emissary fall out of his chair in shock? Will sharp-eyed motel owners ever notice a big red-and-white semi mysteriously appearing and disappearing from their parking lots overnight? And will Dodger be able to track down the mystery girl who caught his eye two weeks earlier to see if she’s really The One?


To find the answers to these and other angelic or emissarial questions, come along on one last adventure with Jake, Dodger, and that ginormous, glowy-eyed archangel, Azrael. They’re waiting for you!


My 5 Star Review:

This is book 3 in Meara’s Emissary series where Jake and Dodger run into a new situation while doing their jobs as emissaries – Dodger learns hard what love is all about, how amazing it can feel, and how it can hurt.

In their duties as emissaries, hired by the angel Azrael, Jake and Dodger continue to help humans they come across who are on the brink of either committing crimes or close to taking their own lives by helping them see the errors in their ways. They are the voice of reason and saviors. They were sent to earth instead of heaven after their own human deaths and chosen for the new emissary program by the angel Azrael. Immortal now in their old human forms.

Along with taking human form, Jake and Dodger are also cognizant of human emotion and in this novella, the younger, Dodger has his heartstrings pulled when he falls in love with librarian Juliet. But love isn’t always grand, especially when Juliet is mortal and Dodger is no longer, and when Dodger realizes he cannot lead a fulfilling life with his new love because of the two worlds they live in. He is faced with making painful human decisions as he struggles with the decision to tell Juliet his dilemma or keeping silent about who he really is.

Dodger has never known such love in his past life so all the new wonderful feelings he’s experiencing are also his problem as he must figure out how to live in love with a mortal. Azrael keeps a tight watch on his two emissaries and pops in from time to time to both applaud and catch his two new emissaries when they make mistakes.

With lots of good life lessons and empathetic characters, Love Hurts is a wonderful read that will touch on all your emotions.



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#BlogTour – #Poetry – Balroop Singh – Magical Whispers

Today I’m featuring Balroop Singh who is on a big blog tour to announce her newest booklaunch – Magical Whispers – poetry to sooth the mind and inspire.


Thank you for hosting me, Deb.



Book Blurb:

I wait for whispers; they regale my muse. Whispers that can be heard by our heart, whispers that ride on the breeze to dispel darkness and ignite hope. I’m sure you would hear them through these poems if you read slowly.
‘Magical Whispers’ would transport you to an island of serenity; beseech you to tread softly on the velvety carpet of nature to feel the ethereal beauty around you. The jigsaw of life would melt and merge as you dive into the warmth of words.

In this book, my poems focus on the whispers of Mother Nature, whispers that are subtle but speak louder than words and breathe a quiet message.
Each day reminds us
It’s the symphony of surroundings
That whispers life into us.


Book Information:

Title: Magical Whispers

Author: Balroop Singh

Genre: Poetry

Available at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08KJQ6K5D


Why I love poetry?


Poetry is my first love
We wander in the woods together
Hand in hand we walk into wilderness
Sharing dreams of land unseen.
A world that is really green
Where clouds of kindness hover
With promises of peace.
Soaring on the wings of words
Glistening with a halcyon hope
Brightened by enchanting thoughts
We recline on the stratum of stars
Cooing gently that they would be ours
One day when elixir of love
Would caress the feet of humanity.

© Balroop Singh




Sublime Sky

If you just look at the dark clouds
They may share your anguish
But they offer no solace
They drag you into deeper dumps.
If you look at the moon
It would speak to you calmly
Telling you timeless stories of change

And purge your heart of all regrets.
If you look at the sun and his hues
It would unravel stories of life
From dawn to dusk it spreads gold
And fills your heart with delight.
But I beseech you to look at the azure sky
When the sun’s amber song begins
Permeating through pink clouds
A melody that springs hope and light.

© Balroop Singh


Balroop Singh


Meet the Author:

Balroop Singh, a former teacher and an educator always had a passion for writing.
She is a poet, a creative non-fiction writer, a relaxed blogger and a doting grandma. She writes about people, emotions and relationships. Her poetry highlights the fact that happiness is not a destination but a chasm to bury agony, anguish, grief, distress and move on! No sea of solitude is so deep that it can drown us. Sometimes aspirations are trampled upon, the boulders of exploitation and discrimination may block your path but those who tread on undeterred are always successful.
When turbulences hit, when shadows of life darken, when they come like unseen
robbers, with muffled exterior, when they threaten to shatter your dreams, it is
better to break free rather than get sucked by the vortex of emotions. A self-published author, she is the poet of Sublime Shadows of Life and   Emerging From Shadows , both widely acclaimed poetry books. She has also written When Success Eludes , Emotional Truths Of Relationships Read FREE with Kindle Unlimited and Allow Yourself to be a Better Person .

Balroop Singh has always lived through her heart. She is a great nature lover; she
loves to watch birds flying home. The sunsets allure her with their varied hues that
they lend to the sky. She can spend endless hours listening to the rustling leaves
and the sound of waterfalls. The moonlight streaming through her garden, the
flowers, the meadows, the butterflies cast a spell on her. She lives in San Ramon,

You can visit her blog at: http://balroop2013.wordpress.com


Connecting links:








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