Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Ampersands: Pretty Is as Pretty Does

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers
Have you noticed how ampersands turn to gibberish when they are entered into some blog services like Google's That is only the beginning of problems ampersands cause for editors, and publishers of all kinds. Many of the difficulties they cause go unnoticed except by the publishing pros we would all like to impress like agents, librarians, bookstore event directors, and the acquisition editors at Knopf! 
That's why I added a new section to the second edition of the winningest book in my #HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers, The Frugal Editor. Because ampersands seem to be so popular these days, it's especially important for editors and authors who publish books to know a little about their history, how to use them, and how gatekeepers and readers of Lynn Truss's famous zero-tolerance approach to grammar might view them. So, I thought I'd share this excerpt from The Frugal Editorwith you today, even though it's only one tiny part of presenting ourselves and our books in the most professional light possible. 
The ampersand is a real pretty little dude, but it isn't a letter nor even a word. It's a logogram that represents a word. Its history goes back to classical antiquity, but interesting history and being cute are no reason to overuse it in the interest of trying to separate one's writing from the pack. Better writers should concentrate on the techniques that make a difference rather than gimmicks that distract. Here are some legitimate uses for the ampersand.
  • The Writers Guild of America uses the ampersand to indicate a close collaboration with a writing (or other) partner--closer than a situation in which one writer is brought in to rewrite or fix the work of another. For those in the know, it is a convenient way to subtly indicate that one writer has not been brought in to rewrite of fix the work of another.
  • Newspapers, journals and others choose to use it when they are citing sources. That's their style choice, not a grammar rule.
  • In similar citings, academia asks that the word and be spelled out.
  • Occasionally the term etc. is abbreviated to &c, though I can see no reason for confusing a reader with this. Etc. is already an abbreviation of et cetera and the ampersand version saves but one letter and isn't commonly recognized.
  • Ampersands are sometimes used instead of andto distinguish the andwhen it is part of a name rather than the typical conjunction used when naming a series of items. Here, too, it feels like a stretch and more confusing than helpful. Wikipedia gives this example: "Rock, pop, rhythm & blues and hip hop." This also seems like an unnecessary affectation if we would but use the traditional serial comma like this: "Rock, pop, rhythm and blues, and hip hop."
For a style guide from the point of view of academia go to
Many of my clients tell me they use the ampersand to make their writing stand apart from others or "because it's pretty." As an editor, I discourage them from this choice. Used this way it is distracting for many. The first thing we want in our writing no matter the genre is clarity, the last is reader distraction. 
Readers of my multi award-winning The Frugal Editor will find a free offer in the backmatter of that book—a gift from graphic and cover artist Chaz DeSimone ( His free poster series illustrates the creative use of the ampersand, one based on the authenticity of its simply being visually attractive. Maybe that's an ideal way to feed our longing for "pretty" and help us avoid the other traps ampersands can lead us into. 
Carolyn Howard-Johnson brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, and retailer to the advice she gives in her HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers and the many classes she taught for nearly a decade as instructor for UCLA Extension's world-renown Writers' Program. Both the first and second editions of The Frugal Book Promoter and The Frugal Editor are multi award-winners. The latter is her winningest book which includes awards from USA Book News, Readers' Views Literary Award, the marketing award from Next Generation Indie Books and others including the coveted Irwin award. Her third book in the HowToDoItFrugally Series is How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically. It was released to acclaim from The Midwest Book Review and others.
Howard-Johnson is the recipient of the California Legislature's Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award, and her community's Character and Ethics award for her work promoting tolerance with her writing. She was also named to Pasadena Weekly's list of "Fourteen San Gabriel Valley women who make life happen" and was given her community's Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts. 
The author loves to travel. She has visited eighty-nine countries and has studied writing at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom; Herzen University in St. Petersburg, Russia; and Charles University, Prague. She admits to carrying a pen and journal wherever she goes. Her Web site is

Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Multi award-winning poet, fiction writer, and author of the HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers
Twitter: @frugalbookpromo
Featured Author at 

Finally a definitive guide to gorgeous home design

In ​Designed Right, ​renowned designer Kelly Heaps​ ​not only shares the industry secrets behind her award-winning designs...she gives you the tools to do it yourself!  

Kelly's guide takes the fear and uncertainty out of the design process, giving you a simple understanding of the basic formulas that every professional uses. 

If you've ever wanted to design a home that reflects your personality, feels joyful to be in, and looks professionally crafted, Designed Right will help you make it a reality.

Inside, you'll find:    

● Easy, start-to-finish formulas anyone can follow    
● Steps to choosing the right palettes for your home and personality   
● The logic behind design decisions, and the confidence to make your own!   

You don't have to hire a professional designer to bring your dream home to life. You don't have to second guess your every decision. You can gain the confidence and know how to make your space your own.

By the end of Designed Right, you'll see your home - and yourself - in a whole new light.

PO Box 1223
Conifer Colorado 80433-1223

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Monday, November 26, 2018

Secrets, lies and denial

"I found this compelling reading, almost more a novel than a memoir. AJ does a great job of getting her readers to turn pages, because they cannot wait to find out what is going to happen next."

-Bill Worth - Editor, and Author of the novels: "House of the Sun: A Metaphysical Novel of Maui", "The Hidden Life of Jesus Christ: A Memoir",  "Outwitting Multiple Sclerosis: How Forgiveness Helped Me Heal My Brain By Changing My Mind."

In the prime of her life, AJ seemingly has it all - a successful career, three thriving children and a marriage that spans two decades. Her hard-fought, adult life beams bright and in sharp contrast to the dark, gun-wielding, serial-parent changing, and starkly silent world she grew up in.      
On the heels of her father's sudden and tragic death, AJ finds herself questioning the life she has so carefully architected. Estranged from her mother, she seeks comfort in the revival of her relationship with her two brothers, all that remain of her childhood nucleus. The three siblings find themselves in a sad, yet familiar place as they bond in the midst of their loss, and relive together similar times from the turbulent and siloed childhood they shared.      

In the months following her father's funeral, AJ's reminiscences compel her to see her current circumstances through a fresh lens. Concerns that her husband is leading a secret life turn from suspicion to fact as the void in their relationship widens, creating a troubling likeness between her marriage and the dysfunctional relationships she witnessed as a child. She struggles with the decision to honor her intuition and end her failing marriage, but the consequences of divorce still loom ominously in her memory. She realizes that she can no longer deny her buried past, nor its implications on her current situation.      

This is a fascinating true story of one woman's journey to overcome childhood trauma, and to listen to the inner voice that she has been ignoring for years. Written as a novel, her memoir traverses past and present, all the while painting vivid pictures of both her childhood and adult worlds, the similarities of which have become too numerous to ignore.                 

PO Box 1223
Conifer Colorado 80433-1223

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Border Crisis? Border Cities

This book is more than a guide for project managers who must deal with governmental agencies but often face corruption at the very top levels.
This book also offers a practical solution for the border crisis unfolding today.
A manual describes how to detect and manage building projects hijacked by political agendas.

Based on their own considerable experience, the Osmans (Buildings, Projects, and Babies, 2017) have written a book specifically designed to help the managers of construction projects undermined by furtive political schemes. For example, an undertaking can be commandeered by a surreptitious plan to embezzle government resources for private gain or redirect them to fund illegal activity. The authors provide concrete guidance regarding how to spot such ulterior motives that can potentially destroy a project; for example, irrational anomalies in spending or hiring, an inexplicable indifference to quality, and a penchant for gratuitous delay on the part of the client might be signs of political skulduggery. The Osmans also counsel readers how to delicately manage such a predicament should it arise. The crux of their advice is that managers, whenever possible, should satisfy their project obligations and adapt to whatever challenges might be produced by clients' unscrupulous intentions. The authors illustrate their lessons by fashioning fictionalized cases; for example, a massive project in Bolivia is hampered by a client's late-in-the-game demand for a two-story penthouse, a request specifically aimed at slowing down development. 
The Osmans also persuasively argue that part of the problem is that project management is largely unregulated, bereft of the standard licensing requirements so common in other professions.They propose and describe a Federal Department of Project Investigation to devise and enforce standards and protect project managers from nefarious clients. The book is both clearly and cleverly written, crafted around an analogy between the primary players on a project and the team that delivers a baby (the project manager is the nurse and the father the client). The authors are veterans in the field, and their professional expertise is unquestionable...
The Osmans have determined that the border crisis could be resolved by creating border cities protected on either side by a wall of sorts. These small towns would inspire the residents themselves to take pride of ownership for development and protection as they would have a personal stake in its security and success. 
An indispensable resource for project managers. 

PO Box 1223
Conifer Colorado 80433-1223

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Friday, November 23, 2018

Wow! The rave reviews prove this is what literature is all about

I absolutely loved it. I felt each and every character, felt like I was part of the family that Jim described and I even could relate to the anti-semitism at the end. The further paradox of attitudes of both the police and the priest brought home what people must live with especially when the prejudices are hidden behind the uniforms of the church and law enforcement. The sadness of Jim and Ma were so real that I am certain it was autobiographical. It's truly a terrific read.
-- Gary Goldberg, Financial Advisor, Suffern NY

An Ambition to Belong, second book of the Leaving Home Trilogy, is an astute and insightful psychological journey into the inner life of Jim, an adolescent who is trying to forge his own identity. Trapped in two different worlds, he belongs nowhere: at one end his Polish immigrant inner-city Catholic family and its Eastern European peasant beliefs and terrors; and at the other a late-1950s upper-class suburban Jesuit college-prep high school in suburban Detroit where he is totally unprepared to deal with that world of money and arrogance he finds there. At home, raw gut emotion; at school emotionless intellect. At home he is a member of The Royal Lancers, a street gang where his life is threatened by Donny, a psychotically deranged fellow gang member; at school, because of his dress, especially his Ford Motor Company issue black work shoes, he is perceived as a non-entity, a non-being who has little or no existence. Confronted with racism and a savage incident of anti-Semitism, Jim rises to find the strength that forms the first layer of his conscience and his conscious sense of self.

PO Box 1223
Conifer Colorado 80433-1223

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Monday, November 19, 2018

Jack Canfield loves this book

"Gold in the Cracks is an invitation to pick up the broken pieces of your life, embrace your emotional scars, and transform your life. Your scars are proof that despite life's hard knocks, you have emerged strong and beautiful. It is time to embrace your imperfections and find happiness. Let Rani St. Pucchi be your guide as you go on your journey to find the treasure within by making peace with your past." 
-- Jack Canfield, coauthor of the Chicken Soup for the Soul® series and The Success Principles™ 

     In this inspiring book, award-winning designer and international bestselling author Rani St. Pucchi draws from the wisdom gained from having helped more than 20,000 women in her 30-year career as well as from her own life experiences.

     Using the principle of Kintsugi, a Japanese technique for repairing broken pottery with gold lacquer, Rani takes you on a journey to wellness and wholeness. Rani reminds us that all beautiful things have imperfections--not perfect is perfect. Wounds and healing are honest parts of our history and should be celebrated, not hidden. When you embrace your flaws and wear your scars proudly, that is when true beauty emerges.

     Gold in the Cracks offers you:

  • Insightful questions to help you reflect on your past and illuminate your path forward.
  • Beautifully presented analogies and stories that highlight key concepts.
  • Affirmations to use as a simple, powerful tool to invite happiness into your life.
  • Worksheets for journaling your thoughts.

This is not a book to read, but a life plan to follow!

By reframing your story, you can heal from your hurt and own all your parts. Your life is your story. There is beauty to be admired in broken things because they allow light to shine through like never before. Pick up your pieces one by one, then lovingly fill your cracks with gold and transform your life.

PO Box 1223
Conifer Colorado 80433-1223

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Thursday, November 15, 2018

A beautiful Irish saga

For those who've wondered about their roots or care to learn their origin...causing one to embark, if they desire, upon a path to discovery. For this particular "clan" one feels the stark living conditions, the familial pride or more often shame....which unfortunately is passed from one generation to the next but at the same time underscores the family psychology which returns again and again to one very strong willed individual within a family divided by secrets born of heritage.  ~ Lorie Carroll

A truly remarkable account, Not Forgotten traces the growth of one family from a small Irish town to a wide network stretching across the globe. 

In 1920s Ireland, a whirlwind romance ends in pain, heartbreak and poverty for one young woman. This pain will echo down through generations of sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, leaving the family broken and scattered.

This is the story of Kitty, a girl who suffered throughout her life and yet managed to grow into a strong, independent woman. It is also the story of the Irish diaspora: the lives, loves and losses of the thousands who left their homes and families behind to seek their fortune abroad. But most importantly, it is the story of a family.

Russell Vann
PO Box 1223
Conifer Colorado 80433-1223

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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

When dreams become nightmares

"Fear of Dreaming mines a rich vein of material in the two-fisted confines of a fighter's life... a solid read!"  - EUGENE S. ROBINSON, AUTHOR OF FIGHT: EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT ASS-KICKING... (HARPER COLLINS)

Orphaned seventeen-year old Miro has found his life's purpose as a mixed martial  artist. His world revolves around his dreams of becoming an MMA world champion one day. To succeed, he trains day and night, pushing his body to the limits while scraping to get by on a meager income. Just a few months away from the biggest fight of his career, he now must face the single toughest opponent anyone has ever met inside a cage - an opponent that has turned his ambitious dreams to recurring nightmares. 
Looming large before him is the question of his origin. Miro knows next to nothing about the circumstances of his birth. What happened to his mother after he was born? Who is his father? Can he track down clues long lost in the fog of history? The defining fight of his career dominates every second of his day, yet he finds himself increasingly obsessed and distracted from his training by a quest for the truth about himself. A truth that he must unearth before it destroys him. Who is he?
Set in the year 2045, the tale is a blunt portrayal of a dystopian future that increasingly muddles reality with simulation and bots with humans. In this world, the question isn't whether one's dreams are worth dreaming. The question is, how does one cope when the day's dreams become nightly terrors?

Russell Vann
PO Box 1223
Conifer Colorado 80433-1223

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Friday, November 9, 2018

He sought a special relationship with the divine

Two young men leave their families and businesses to walk the dusty roads of ancient times with hopes of excitement and adventure. An ordinary nineteen-year-old man, Daniyyel, observes miraculous moments in his friend Matityahu's life and wonders what gift his friend has. Daniyyel asks Matityahu how and why he has it. Daniyyel desires that same awareness and ability in his own life.
Amongst the many unexpected events, from hard physical labor to saving lives after a natural disaster, is the effect of a beautiful strong, intelligent, capable young woman on Daniyyel. He has never met such an intriguing and mesmerizing woman in his short life. Could this adventure introduce him to the love of his life?
Although we don't see Daniyyel, aspire to become a healer or to create miracles, he does value the gentleness, kindness and passion that his friend, Matityahu displays. 
During their travels from city to farm to villages and on, many unusual, synchronistic events occur. Surviving tragedy, meeting new people daily, Daniyyel is changed. After questioning, studying and trying out Matityahu's spiritual practices and suggestions, we see Daniyyel's growth from traditional religious thinking to an awakening of his own spiritual nature and new awareness. Daniyyel changes his life and develops awareness and love and closeness to God. 

The journey portrays passage to newfound Oneness, an illustration of possibility accessible to everyone today. 
Their story continually discusses and questions religion and religious teachings but isn't meant to depict a particular religion. Instead, it is meant to show how religion influences our thinking and our behavior and how we must examine what we learned as we grew up and decide for ourselves what has merit and what we decline. An unexamined life could be a mediocre life. Here we see Daniyyel repeatedly realize he accepted everything he was taught and now is considering a greater depth to the spiritual teachings of his people and changes his thinking and his vocabulary. His personal experience of God was nonexistent then gradually once he realizes this becomes a seeker and gets stunning results. 
Daniyyel's awakening, like ours in current times, is gained through simple consistent action. Matityahu, Daniyyel's friend and teacher, is also a teacher for the readers of this small book. Their story serves as a guide for us in our own journey of awakening.
Russell Vann
PO Box 1223
Conifer Colorado 80433-1223

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Thursday, November 8, 2018

Congratulations, now get over yourself

Congratulations! Now Get Over Yourself, Confessions of a Management Development Coach is a Leadership expose into what it really takes to lead a group of diverse people, "You need to be humble and strong with your hat in one hand, and a big stick in the other," Ralph says. 

This book will help you identify Common Management Pitfalls,Including:
  •        How to Overcome the Management Complex - You're not                   "God!"
  •        How to stop running people over - You're not a bus driver
  •        How to Kick Butt with a soft shoe - Even Ninja'swear slippers
  •        How to stay out from under the bus - Look both ways!
  •        How to Buck up and Write up Employees - If you don't, they               won't
  •        How to get out of your own way - Get a map
  •        How to Get Over Yourself and Lead - Trust me, you don't need         a ladder

Russell Vann
PO Box 1223
Conifer Colorado 80433-1223

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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Unlock the best version of you with The Biskinds

As Jack Canfield said, "The Biskinds are the real deal...I highly recommend them and their work...they have an amazing ability to shift energy and remove blocks on very deep levels."

Did you know you have unseen codes in your DNA that are controlling your life?
YES. The way you repel or attract relationships, the way you maintain or push away someone you love, how you feel about yourself, your motivation, your energy & zest for life and even the level of success you'll allow yourself.
What if you could uncover these hidden codes that have been running your life and neutralize them once and for all?

You CAN!

Sandra and Daniel Biskind are International #1 Bestselling Authors, Speakers & Spiritual Teachers who for decades have been transforming the lives of Global award-winning business owners and spiritual leaders.

They are Jack Canfield's energy shifters of choice and now YOU can experience the depth of their work that takes these codes locked in your DNA, trapped in programs within your neural pathways, and finally get yourself free - without having to pay thousands for one-on-one but instead, through experiencing their revolutionary book that shows you step by step what YOU can do to unlock the best version of YOU...right away. 

There's healing and high frequency energy even encoded within the book itself.
Their legacy work, CODEBREAKER: Discover The Password To Unlock The Best Version Of You and its perfect companion the CODEBREAKER Journal reveals a system that helps explain the mind, body and soul connection. 
As you read through and absorb the PLATINUM password you will experience deep and meaningful shifts and feel like the book is speaking directly to you.
Get yours NOW so you too can become a high frequency codebreaker and breakthrough your unconscious mind that has been running your life - to being free to have what you want.

Finally, fall in the love of your life, or shift your relationship or feel happy and alive, on fire with purpose once and for all. 

Now with CODEBREAKER, YOU decide. YOU create (not your hidden programs running the show).

The Law of Attraction is a universal law, like gravity. It has the power to allow you to manifest what you want for your life.  Unfortunately, we all have unconscious limiting beliefs that sabotage this potential, frustrating your efforts to manifest your hearts' desires. 

Despite personal growth training and huge investments in coaching and therapy, unconscious programs often persist and undermine attempts at reaching one's highest goals and aspirations. These can show up as "unsolvable problems" ― patterns that continually repeat and seemingly cannot be broken.

CODEBREAKER & the CODEBREAKER Journal present a ground-breaking mind training system that teaches tools and techniques to resolve these hidden issues. The training is easy to implement and leads to life changing shifts that last. 

As you absorb the information you are encouraged to learn and enjoy this life-changing system which will empower you to break free of your blind spots and create what you desire in life. This system is understandable and applicable for beginners as well as invaluable to experienced professionals and students of personal growth, spiritual transformation, and enlightenment.

Included in the teaching are stories that are original and insightful as well as entertaining and engaging.  They help you apply the insights making the system fast and effective. The books are deeply spiritual and at the same time fun, warm and practical.  Making sense of the mystical and magical, the concepts become useful and relevant in everyday life so you can achieve maximum results in your personal growth.

Sandra and Daniel reveal the sexiest trait on the planet as well as the secret to getting off the wheel of karma. As you learn to identify and neutralize your hidden programs, you will be amazed as you are transformed into a high frequency codebreaker yourself!  

As a high frequency being you will be empowered to transform not only your life but the lives of those you interact with and love.

Here's to living your ideal life NOW....

Russell Vann
PO Box 1223
Conifer Colorado 80433-1223

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