Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Interview with professional organizer Laurie Palau

My special guest today is professional organizer and writer Laurie Palau. She’s talking with me about her new non-fiction book, HOT MESS: A Practical Guide to Getting Organized.

During her virtual book tour, Laurie will be awarding a FREE 30-minute phone consultation to help address specific organizing challenges to a lucky, randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too.

Laurie Palau is the founder of simply B organized, host of the weekly podcast, This ORGANIZED Life, and author of the book HOT MESS: A Practical Guide to Getting Organized available in paperback and kindle on amazon or Barnes & Noble.

She is a go-to Organizing Expert whose advice has been featured in The New York Times Parenting Section, Family Circle, and Home + Table Magazine.  Laurie can also be seen sharing tips on the CBS Philadelphia’s Morning Show & WFMZ in Allentown, PA. Whether speaking or working with clients Laurie is authentic, relatable, inspiring, and highly entertaining.

When not organizing the world, Laurie can be found at home in Bucks County, PA with her husband Josh, 2 girls (Zoe and Logan) and 2 dogs (Jeter and Oliver).  She loves coffee and Tito’s Vodka (not together), and in her spare time she is actively involved with The St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which raises money for Pediatric Cancer Research.

Visit for a complete list of service offerings including free organizing checklists, links to her podcast, blog and social media.

Welcome, Laurie. Please share a little bit about your current release.
It’s a quick-read survival guide to helping you get to the root of your clutter issues so you can focus on specific strategies to navigate through the chaos of clutter. It’s peppered with real life stories and anecdotes, keeping it lighthearted, humorous, and informative.

What inspired you to write this book?
Over the years I’ve read lots of books about organizing, and the common theme was either get rid of everything, or that you had to do something a certain way.  I wanted to write something that was practical and relatable so the reader could go, “now THAT I can do!”

Excerpt from HOT MESS: A Practical Guide to Getting Organized:
Before we get too far, I think it’s important that we all get on the same page. For most people, the word clutter conjures up scenes from Hoarders, or Grey Gardens with its mazes of magazines lining the hallways. You may even imagine feral cats, rodent droppings, and indistinguishable mounds of who-knows-what.

I’ll be honest; I can count on one hand (with three fingers to spare) how many times I’ve encountered a true hoarder. Yup, twice—you guessed it! It was very early in my career as a professional organizer, and it didn’t take me long to realize it wasn’t the right fit for me. It’s not so much that I was in over my head (no pun intended); the reality is that their struggles go deeper than piles of paper, overflowing loads of laundry, and rooms filled with toys. I am not a licensed psychologist, although I often like to think of myself as one, and the level of help they need is beyond what I can offer.

The majority of my clients are like you and me. Their days are spent running between work, school, PTA meetings, soccer practice, dance lessons, grocery shopping, overseeing homework, making dinner, looking after ailing parents, and whatever else we can fit into our days.

The result of all this life-madness is often a cluttered home, and with that, I can help.

What exciting story are you working on next?
My next book will more than likely focus on digital clutter, since we are all inundated with emails, photos, and social media overload!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I suppose when I started writing a column in 2010, but as far as considering myself an author, that’s still a little weird to say!

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
During the day I run my professional organizing business, Simply B Organized and host a weekly podcast called, This ORGANIZED Life.  I do a lot of my writing at night and on the weekends, which is why my book took so long to finish!

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Sometimes I talk to myself while I am writing.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to work in a flower shop like Janet in Three’s Company

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
If you want to get an idea of what my book is about, check out my podcast, This ORGANIZED Life!


Thank you for being a guest on my blog!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Interview with novelist Jon Reeves

Today’s special guest is author Jon Reeves. We’re chatting about his musical comedic coming-of-age novel, My Name Is Tom.

Jon Reeves has an unconditional love for music. His desire to discover new sounds and learn about how musical history has allowed that music to grow has been with him for as long as he can remember. He has met some amazing people and musicians along the way, who have inspired him to use his experiences to write stories to share with others. He believes in growing, emotionally, every day, and attempting to take positives from every situation, while keeping a realistic perspective.

Welcome, Jon. Please tell us about your current release.
Some describe Tom’s obsession with music as “unhealthy.” Growing up in the 1970s and early ‘80s middle England, developing his love for music and building a record collection to rival that of people twice his age, Tom becomes fascinated by the musical cultures of the day.

In 1989, he turns 18 and becomes part of his own culture, the Rave scene, selling all his beloved record collection along the way to fund his new lifestyle. After a while, he decides it is time to regain his lost collection. He makes a list, and at the top is a small list of rarities he regrets selling the most. As he follows the trails of the records he sold, each one reveals alarming information involving a close friend and a group of people he thought he had left behind. But to what extent is Tom involved?

What inspired you to write this book?
My book is very autobiographical, so my own life and the lives of those who have always surrounded me inspired me more than anything. Music is a constant theme through my life and more often than not I will talk about it for several hours before I realise that no one is listening. I listen to albums more than singles, as I see them as a story of where that band were when they wrote it.

Excerpt from My Name Is Tom:
This is from quite early in the book – no spoiler alerts required.

The following Saturday, just as I was about to enter the record shop to spend my wages, I noticed Trevor heading up the street in my direction. I quickly ran into the relative safety of the shop and hid in the funk section. I watched as Trevor walked in. He didn’t look particularly unhappy. He was clearly looking for someone and that someone was likely to be me. I continued to hide amongst the funk but as he moved, I was forced to do the same in order to maintain my cover. By the time he headed for the counter I was deep in the Prog Rock section.
“What you doing down there?” Said the shop keeper “You like Prog yeah?”
“Yeah… I mean, no” I didn’t really know what Prog Rock was but had heard it talked about quite negatively once on a programme about Punk, and I liked that, so I didn’t like Prog.
“I’m hiding from that bloke, I think he wants to punch me”
“What that bloke there?” He said. I confirmed the identity of Trevor.
“That’s Trevor” he said
“I know, I think he wants to punch me. He’s going out with my sister Tracey and I think he might be a bit upset with me”
“Seriously, Trevor and Tracey?” He laughed as he said it, as did I, still crouched down. Trevor heard us and made his way over.
“Trev, this lad thinks you’re gonna punch him. You aint gonna punch him are you?” The shop keep seemed incredibly amused at the idea of me being punched by an oaf twice my size.
“Course I’m not” Trevor said. “We had a minor disagreement outside his sisters bedroom the other day, didn’t we Tim?”
“My names Tom” I said.
“I know” he said laughing uncontrollably to himself. This forced me to stand up and lose my cover, which was pretty much gone anyway. The hostilities seemed to be over.
Trevor put his arm around me and led me to the New Wave section. His attitude towards me was completely different to our first meeting. I felt immediately suspicious of this given his association with my sister but I decided to play along and see what would happen.
He began to talk in depth about his love of music. I was fascinated. He told me how he had seen The Jam play live twice and The Sex Pistols once but that the set was cut short due to a fight in the audience that he was not involved in. But I could tell that he was involved. It was obvious.
It seemed unlikely considering our brief and turbulent history but I was really beginning to like Trevor. However, there was still something in the back of my mind telling me that he was likely to punch me at any minute, but as the minutes passed, it seemed less likely until the point arrived where I didn’t think it at all. It was a relief as he was quite a sizable chap and at the end of the day, also had access to my house.
We conversed about music all the way to the counter. Turned out that he also wasn’t aware of the demise of the Jam and subsequent formation of The Style Council which was strange given the stories he had just told me, you would have thought he would know that. Anyway, we were now friends. I was pleased. He was pretty cool. Well, cooler than me anyway.
At the counter the two of us perused the chart listing for this week. It was time to decide what single to buy. The shop keeper who I had now found out is called Bob, was only too keen to help me select my purchase. He played me several songs based on what he knew about me from our musical discussions so far. I liked most of them but it was ‘The Lovecats’ by The Cure that I was most taken by.
It had entered the charts that week and I knew nothing of them. The record box didn’t contain any songs by them despite Bob informing me that they had been around for a little while now. This made me think for the first time that maybe my cousin wasn’t as up on things as I thought he was. And also made me think that maybe I was.
The front cover was colourful and had the name of the song and the band emblazoned upon it, along with a picture of two cats dancing, brilliant. It was a far cry from the plain blackness of the Speak Like A Child cover which didn’t even feature the name of the song on it. The song itself also had a very different sound to it. The vocal was amazing and scared me a little bit. The overall melody of the song was unmistakably my sort of thing. I bought it, bided farewell to Trevor and Bob who seemed to quite like me, as did I them, and then made my way home to listen.

What exciting story are you working on next?
Currently in the process of publishing the sequel to my novel ‘My Name Is Tom’. Its set around 5 years after Tom finishes and is mostly set in Australia. Also, about three quarters of the way through writing the third book in the trilogy.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Right after I first realised that I wasn’t going to be a musician. So, a few days ago. But tomorrow, I may well write a song that makes me reconsider. And then the next day, I’ll be a writer again. I basically just like being creative.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
During the day I am a Business Analyst for a large construction company here in sunny England, which pays the bills and keeps me off the streets. But - and don’t tell my boss this, although I suspect he already knows - I spend more time writing whilst at work than I spend doing my job. But I’m in charge of my own diary, so as long as the job is done, it doesn’t really matter. But still don’t tell him. The rest of my life is spent with my amazing Zimbabwean wife and looking after my somewhat annoying, octogenarian, quite unwell, parents. I love them really, though.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
My writing style is indicative of the way me and my friends have always talked to each other. We all like to think we are extremely funny, but often people are laughing at us and not with us. But either way, as long as they’re laughing, it’s all good. Also, as is the case in general life for me, I relate everything to music.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Musician – still do. Or a dentist.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Yes - listen to the Beatles more. But if you already are doing that, listen to Joy Division more and if you’re already doing that, listen to New Order more – I won’t go on, but you get the general idea. And take comfort in your own thoughts.

Website | Facebook 

Thanks for joining me today, Jon.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Interview with novelist Alan S. Kessler

Welcome, readers. I’m kicking of a new week with author Alan S.Kessler. He’s sharing a bit about his new novel, Gables Court.

Welcome, Alan. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Married, with four children and a cat that likes me to pet her so she can take a bite out of my hand. When I’m not writing I teach karate, many of my students on the autism spectrum

Please tell us about your current release.
Samuel Baas is a romantic and virgin who wants love and marriage before sex. After moving from staid New England to the hothouse world of Miami, he falls in love with Kate, the college girl he wants to marry.

She isn’t interested in becoming anyone’s little wife. For her, sex is recreational.

A lawyer, Baas represents an accused Nazi war criminal and Haitians who, if deported, face retribution from the murderous Tonton Macoute. Head of a crime family, his father takes a special interest in his son’s legal career. In this complicated world, Baas dates and tries to answer the central question in his life, “Is love for someone else?”

Loneliness isn’t gender specific nor is alienation just a phase.

Over a span of ten years, Samuel Baas journeys toward intimacy--and his people.

This novel isn’t erotica or faith-based fiction but as romance, with a small r, it is about the resilience of the human spirit in our quest to find love. Although the language is adult, the scenes of intimacy aren’t graphic. I appreciate how Pearl S. Buck handled sexual matters in The Good Earth with the simple sentence: she taught him.

Gables Court also isn’t intended to moralize about what is right or wrong. Without borders or mass, a mixture of joy, heartache, confusion, and mystery, love follows its own rules.

What inspired you to write this book?
Central to the story is what I, a male author, perceive as a gender stereotype: the young male as sexual hunter, interested in copulation and if love follows it's an unintended consequence. Samuel Baas isn't religious. His motivation for wanting love and marriage before intercourse isn't a value rooted in faith or family values. God for him is an abstraction. His father is valueless, a murderer; his mother loves cocktails and parties at her country club. No, Baas' quest comes from only one place. His heart.

I wanted to write about innocence, about a young man who, perhaps like many young women, searches for romance and in his journey finds heartache, joy, disappointment, mystery, while hoping if he finds love he will possess the courage, wisdom, and strength to accept it.

What exciting story are you working on next?
A post apocalyptic novel called The Butcher.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Not even now. I am just someone who likes to tell stories.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I write in the morning. Teach karate in the afternoon.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Sitting at a desk without taking a break.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I never thought that far in the future.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Without readers, we write only for ourselves which although guaranteeing wonderful feedback isn’t much fun.

Thanks for joining me today, Alan!

Friday, February 23, 2018

Interview with writer Penny Sansevieri

Writer Penny Sansevieri joins me today to chat about her brand-new non-fiction book, How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon.

Penny C. Sansevieri, Founder and CEO Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. She is an Adjunct Professor teaching Self-Publishing for NYU. She is the author of fourteen books, including How to Sell Your Books by the Truckload on Amazon and Red Hot Internet Publicity, which has been called the "leading guide to everything Internet."

Welcome, Penny. Please tell us about your current release.
The book is about how to understand and work within the Amazon algorithm system. Which means getting more exposure for your book amidst the millions of other titles on Amazon. In almost every case, the author selects their wrong keywords, which won’t help their book show up in search. So this book teaches authors about keywords, categories and other things authors can do to boost their exposure on Amazon for their book(s).

What inspired you to write this book?
Mostly it was curiosity. I’ve worked a lot in the SEO market (search engine optimization) and it struck me one day that I believed the Amazon site worked the same way. Also, with 4,500 books published every day, authors need to know how they can master this online giant.

Excerpt from How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon:
To start off, let’s talk about what this book is and what it isn’t.

Many Amazon gurus out there will tell you that theirs is the quickest, easiest, and most efficient way to make sales on Amazon. And while I don’t necessarily doubt their expertise, I’ve learned through the hundreds of classes I teach and the research I’ve done that if you don’t start with a basic understanding of what Amazon is and isn’t, your book or product will never gain traction.

Though many experts talk about keywords, categories, and pricing, few experts mention this important fact: Amazon more a search engine than a store. In fact, Amazon is literally the “Google” of online buying.

And with this model in mind, I need to tell you right up front that there is no instant anything when it comes to ranking on Amazon. There’s a lot of shortcut software out there, and keyword apps, but time and time again I’ve been reminded that there’s nothing like good, old-fashioned hard work to make your Amazon page soar. Much like ranking on Google, people are always searching for shortcuts, and they rarely work.

Understanding Amazon and knowing how to use it to your advantage is vital to keeping those sales up. Amazon is the place for book marketing today. In an article in June of 2014, SEOMoz, a popular search engine optimization blog, talked about Amazon and their ranking system. They said, “If you’re an author you don’t care about ranking on Google, you want to rank on Amazon.”

Everyone in the search engine world knows that Amazon ceased being “just a store” several years ago. Now they are the go-to for anything from books and electronics to pet food.

And there’s another twist: in November 2014, SEOMoz reported on Amazon’s new travel service, Amazon Travel. Now, on the surface this seems fairly benign. I mean, so what, right? Amazon sells everything else, why not travel?

The problem is that this digs right at the heart of Google’s business. Think about it. With Amazon Travel you can get access to the best pricing and possibly the best reviews, which means that sites like Yelp and Google’s own review system will start playing second fiddle to Amazon’s long-standing and quite extensive review system. And if Amazon Travel is successful, you could go to this one-stop-shop to find everything from a trip to Maui to a contractor for your room addition.

And let’s not forget Amazon Music, Amazon grocery stores, and their Echo technology. Think I’m crazy? Ten years ago, no one thought Amazon would sell anything besides books. This company is making serious moves.

It means, essentially, that Amazon is gearing up to play a whole different game, a game that means more and more people will be searching on Amazon for practically everything they need.

And if it isn’t already, Google should be worried.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I have another book coming out soon about how an author can boost their book exposure by re-launching their book. A lot of authors don’t realize that sometimes a book makeover can help boost a book in significant ways. So the book takes authors through the steps of doing this, and relaunching it on Amazon as well.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I was 10 I started writing poetry and from there started crafting stories. So I guess you could say I’ve always had the writer ‘gene’!

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I wish I could write full time! I work with authors, helping them market their books. So mostly I write on the weekends. During the week I’m writing blog posts.

Sometimes it’s hard to find time to write, but I think a routine is helpful. So I know that Sunday morning is my time. Yes, I should probably be writing daily, but I try to give myself realistic deadlines so I’m able to spend the week working with our authors and dedicating my time to promoting their books!

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I love writing at Starbucks, crazy as that sounds. The coffee shop “noise” helps me concentrate.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A librarian!

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I am so lucky to do what I love. When I started this business 18 years ago I had a quote on my desk that read: do what you love and you’ll never work another day in your life.

I’m writing, publishing books, working with authors and living the dream!


Thanks for joining me here today, Penny!