Monday, October 15, 2012

Guest Post: Some of My Children's Favorite Books by Ken Myers

Some of My Children’s Favorite Books

When my children were small they loved when we had reading time together. We have so many great memories of the stories we enjoyed. Some made us laugh, some taught us lessons, but we all had fun being together and sharing. There are so many books I could tell you about that my children loved, but I will just give you a sampling of some of their favorites.

1. Hank the Cow Dog Series – by John R. Erickson

This was one of my son’s favorite book series. He absolutely loved these books. We even got some of the books on tape for him to listen to as we traveled on vacations. It’s all about a ranch dog and the people on the ranch and the adventures they have.

2. The Truck Book – Harry McNaught

This is a picture book about all the trucks and construction equipment you could imagine. My son was so into construction equipment because his dad is an electrician and would take him out on the job sites and show him the equipment in person. He loved looking at pictures of the machines his dad had used. I know most boys love anything construction and would love this book as well.

3. Where the Sidewalk Ends – by Shel Silverstein

This collection of children’s poems was a favorite of my daughter’s. She could quote many of the poems by heart and loved to make up poems of her own that were similar. The poems were funny and sweet and had great illustrations with them that we could all enjoy.

4. Miss Nelson is Missing – by Harry Allard and James Marshall

Both of my children loved the plot of this story, as they were both very good students. The idea is that a nice teacher’s class was very bad and treated her poorly, so she dressed up as a substitute who was strict and mean. The class shaped up and appreciated the nice teacher when she returned.

5. Goosebumps Books – by R.L. Stein

This series of books was creepy but not too scary and usually had a happy ending. My daughter was not very much into scary stories and she still loved them, so that will tell you something. They had so many of these books that a child could read them for years and never get through them all.

6. My Teacher is an Alien – by Bruce Coville

My daughter was big into science fiction tales like this one. Three kids find out their teacher is an alien in disguise that is planning to destroy the earth. One kid is a pretty girl, one’s a nerd, and one’s a bully. They have to learn to work together to unmask the teacher, but in the process they also learn about each other and why they are different.

7. Aliens Ate My Homework – by Bruce Coville

A boy comes home to discover miniature aliens eating his homework. They tell him that his father was an alien that left a secret message in his brain and they have to bring him back to their planet to extract it. They also inform him that a bully in his class is an evil alien that is after the information. They are going to shrink him with their shrink ray to get him home when their ship breaks down so they have to fight the bully there. Eventually the bully escapes and the boy is safe… for now.

8. Monster of the Year – by Bruce Coville

This book had both my kids rolling with laughter. Two boys get to design a billboard so they create a pretend monster of the year contest. Only there is a problem. Monsters start to show up at their house and they have to decide how they are going to pick a winner and survive the losers! The monsters are funny rather than scary as Dracula drinks warm V-8 juice and the Creature from Black Lagoon won’t get out of the bathtub.

9. Under Alien Stars – Pamela Service

Aliens have taken over the earth! A boy’s mother works for the aliens and he’s mad at her. He decides to kidnap the head aliens’ daughter so they will leave. However after his successful kidnapping, worse aliens attack. The alien girl and the human boy have to figure out a way to get her back to her father so that she can help her father fight off the aliens. Along the way they learn they are not so different after all.

10. Stinker from Space – Pamela Service

An alien crash lands on earth and is dying so he transfers his mind into the nearest living creature, which happens to be a skunk. With the help of two children he tries to repair his spaceship so that he can get vital information back to the space fleet that is protecting Earth from evil alien invaders.

11. The Being of Two Minds - Pamela Service

Two children who live on different continents and never met each other have dizzy spells and can see into each others minds. No one believes them, but one of the children is a prince who gets kidnapped and his only chance of rescue is the little girl from far away who can read his mind. She travels to Europe to enlist the help of his butler and together they track down the kidnappers and free the prince.

12. Bunnicula - by James and Deborah Howe

A great ‘spooky’ story that my daughter loved, narrated by a dog! How cute! A typical suburban family finds a rabbit in a box at a Dracula movie. They take him home with them and name him Bunnicula because of the movie and because his black and white fur has a cape pattern. The paranoid cat thinks the rabbit is evil, because the rabbit sucks the juice out of the carrots, but the dog protects the rabbit from the cat because he thinks the cat is a bit crazy. The cat thinks the rabbit is going to hurt the family and does everything he can, from garlic to steaks (yes, meat) to stop him. Funny and cute, this series just gets better with time.

13. The Borrowers - by Mary Norton

My son loved the idea of little people living in our house! Probably because that way he could blame someone else when he lost something. The tale of little people who borrowed things we lost is one that will stir children’s imagination. The resourcefulness and bravery of the tiny family is inspiring.

14. The Plant that Ate Dirty Socks – by Nancy McArthur

Another one of my daughter’s favorite books (notice that she had a lot of them) this story is about two boys who must share one room. One brother is messy and the other one is neat. When the messy brother cleans out his closet he finds two strange seeds. The brothers each take a seed and plant them in pots at the end of their bed. The messy brother feeds his plant by sticking leftovers in the dirt and watering it with cola. The neat brother carefully measures out plant food and waters drop by drop. As the plants grow, however, the boys start noticing something strange. Their socks have started disappearing. They stay up late one night to see what happens, but what they discover is more shocking then they could ever imagine. A funny and upbeat series that will keep kids laughing!

These are just a sampling of the books my children loved to read. There are so many more that I could spend all day telling you about them. Hopefully, however, this list will give you some help in finding books your children will love to read over and over again. 

Author Byline:
Ken Myers as an Expert Advisor on multiple household help issues to many organizations and groups, and is a mentor for other “Mom-preneurs” seeking guidance.  He is a regular contributor of “”.  You can get in touch with him at

Monday, October 8, 2012

Excerpt from Wrong Side of the Tracks: A Memoir by Ron McElroy

Excerpt from Wrong Side of the Tracks: A Memoir
By Ron McElroy

Introduction: Wrong Side of the Tracks is full of stories about growing up in a dysfunctional family. This excerpt gives a brief look at the dynamics between my parents and how my mom made sure we always had what we needed to get by.

I was no stranger to these family search-and-rescue missions. Sometimes it was my dad we were dragging home. He was usually marooned at one of the many bars in the neighborhood, rehydrating with the rest of the after-work drinkers. Always a treat to find his unmistakable dirty, bright orange, early model Ford pickup. We kids would get to sit and watch my four-foot-eleven Mom try to yank my six-foot-one angry Dad away from his ice-cold brew and inebriated cronies.
Mom is and always has been fighter for what she wants. Sometimes I question exactly why she wanted Dad, but that’s all water under the bridge by now.
After they got married in the VA hospital, Dad eventually wound up attending the Ringling School of Art in Sarasota and working part time at several jobs to support the family. He could draw pretty well, and had done portraits of his friends in the navy to make extra money. He intended to become a commercial artist, I guess, but that didn’t work out. Billy was born in 1955, Susie came along in 1957, and I followed one year later, in 1958. By that time, Mom had had it with Florida and missed her family.
In 1959, with Dad only a few months away from graduation, Mom decided to take us kids and move back to California to live with her brother Clarence. Every Monday morning, Dad would send her a check. Then one day he just showed up.
 “One morning there was a knock on the door, and there was your dad,” she told me. “He missed us so much that he packed the car with all our belongings and drove all the way to California.” It sounds romantic, the way she tells it.
So Dad didn’t finish art school, and never did become a commercial artist. But Mom 
always finished what she started, and then some. She had started out as a shipping clerk when she first started working for North American Aviation. She only took off work for a 
few years when we were little, at my dad’s request. But Dad just couldn’t cut it as a 
full-time breadwinner. He had an asphalt paving business the whole time we were 
growing up, but when he was drinking he wasn’t working, so his company never 
amounted to much in those days. 
So Mom got her job back and went back to work with a vengeance. She made sure the 
mortgage was paid, the kids had food, and the lights stayed on. She was smart, focused, 
and a great worker, so she was promoted to secretary and then administrative assistant to a team of engineers. She worked at North American and a few other incarnations of the 
same company—thirty-four years in total. 
Meanwhile Dad was working just enough to go out and drink. My dad made money and 
lost it all over the years of his rocky life, but Mom left her job with a great pension and 
Social Security to carry her through the rest of her years. 

About the Author:
Ron McElroy was born into poverty in Southern California where he survived discrimination, police violence and self-destructive peer group pressure. His mother “Tutu,” is an indigenous Hawaiian who grew up on the islands and was the greatest influence in his cultural and ethnic identity.  Street smart and reckless, McElroy graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Spending summers with his mother’s family in Hawaii, he learned to surf and became a high-ranking amateur surfer. But Ron discovered his true calling: real estate, gradually becoming an entrepreneur with his own companies in the shared office industry plus vacation residence and rentals in Mexico and Hawaii. He has three children, sons Brett and Cameron, and daughter Lockley, and lives with his wife Elizabeth in Laguna Beach, California. Additional information is available at  

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Something Wicked Comes! Author Interview with Brett J. Talley, author of That Which Should Not Be and The Void

Something Wicked Comes....bringing Zombies, Werewolves, Vampires, Ghosts, Witches and more. Oh My!  What is this wicked thing?  Why a month long blogging event celebrating all books paranormal/supernatural or Halloween related.  Every day during the month of October there will be several stops.  Each blogger will be featuring a favorite paranormal book and offering it for a giveaway.  Think of it as a month long Blog Trick or Treating Event...

Will Spook For Books!  
Go HERE to get the full schedule...

As much as I love chocolate, if everyone in the neighborhood was giving away books, I'd be more excited about trick-or-treating than my kids! :-)
Today's guest is one of my favorite authors, Brett J. Talley. Brett is no stranger here, and I'm sure if you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you've seen me occasionally rave about his writing talents (or maybe tossing a War Eagle his way). I had the privilege of interviewing him just before he released his debut novel, That Which Should Not Be, about a year ago. If you'd like to check that out, you may do so HERE.
This year, Brett has released a new novel, The Void, which I reviewed here yesterday. 
So, to really get the Halloween season going, Brett was so kind to stop by and hang out with us again, AND he is offering up a SIGNED COPY of either one of his novels to one lucky winner.  Find the details after the interview. And, please, show Bretty some love! Buy his books! Spread the word! :-)

Author Interview
Brett J. Talley
That Which Should Not Be
The Void

GL: Welcome back, Brett! For anyone that might not be familiar with you, please tell us a bit about yourself.

Brett: Great to be back! I’m just a guy from Alabama who likes to spin a horror yarn every now and then. I’m a lawyer, though I’ve been working on Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign for the last six months or so. When that finishes up, I’ll head off on another adventure.

GL: I didn't know you were working on his campaign! Wow. 

GL: Now, for anyone that hasn’t gotten on the wagon (I mean, really…), tell us about That Which Should Not Be. Please feel free to toot your own horn ;-)…

BT: Well, That Which Should Not Be is a little Gothic horror novel that I wrote, set in the late 1800s/early 1900s.  It's the story of Carter Weston, a student at Miskatonic University who is sent on a quest by one of his professors to recover an ancient book that has turned up in a small fishing village on the Massachusetts coast.  But by the time he arrives, a nor'easter has struck, and he is forced to take shelter in a local pub.  There he comes upon four men, each of whom has a story to tell.  As the stories unfold, Carter realizes that they are connected and lead directly to the object he seeks.

I’ve been really gratified by the reception the book has received. People seem to love it, and last year it was a finalist for the Bram Stoker award, the highest honor in horror writing. So yeah, I’m pretty pleased.

GL: As you should be! Definitely ranks among my very favorite horror novels...

GL: This summer, you released another novel with JournalStone. What is The Void all about?

BT: In The Void, we follow six people on a routine, deep space mission. But all six have something to hide, and in the dreams that come with space travel those secrets are revealed. And madness follows.

GL:  How is The Void different from That Which Should Not Be, and why did you choose to go in that direction?

BT:  The Void is very different from That Which Should Not Be. It’s set in the future in space rather than in the past. But while the setting is different, much of the style is similar. It’s still psychological, and it’s still about the unknown. I wanted to do something as different as I could, while sticking with my style. I think I accomplished that.

GL:  Will either of these novels turn into a “series” or will you release any related books?

BT:  The Void is definitely stand-alone, but That Which Should Not Be will probably become a series. There’s so much left unsaid in TWSNB, so many stories left to be told. That’s probably my next project . . .

GL: Yay! :-)

GL:  Did you decide to write The Void based on the short story (“The Substance of Shadow”) or did someone else suggest it?

BT: As soon as I finished “The Substance of Shadow,” I knew there was a book there. Science fiction really does present a fertile field for horror. So much is unknown. The horror comes when you start poking around in the shadows.  Who knows what you will find? And if something is hidden, maybe it’s hidden for a reason. We still see that same mystery on the edges of science and in science fiction.  That’s one reason I wanted to focus on such mysteries in The Void.

GL:  How was the publishing process different for The Void compared to That Which Should Not Be?

BT:  It’s nice having a publishing contract. No query letters, no piles of rejections. But there is more pressure to finish when you are already working with a publisher. TWSNB was a pretty leisurely process. The Void? Not so much.

GL:  Would you rather warp through space and have horrible nightmares or face a mythical beast and save the world?

BT:  That’s a great question. I think the former, just because I would absolutely love to go to space. But I have to equivocate a little bit. I have a love affair with the turn of the century, and fighting mythical beasts to save the world while living in that era would be pretty sweet.

GL:  I think I'd have to go with facing mythical beasts myself. I'm pretty sure I couldn't pass the first astronaut test! :-) I'm on the verge of a panic attack just thinking about it...

GL:  What was the first Lovecraft piece you ever read?

BT: A story called "Dagon." It’s very short, and rather rough. It was one of the first Lovecraft ever wrote. But you can see the genius there and the beginnings of the Cthulhu mythos. He was a true literary giant and an inspiration to anyone who’s written horror since.

GL:  Are you dressing up for Halloween this year? What will you be? If not, what is your all-time favorite costume? (Or answer both!)

BT:  Sadly, I probably won’t dress up for Halloween. I love Halloween. It’s my favorite holiday. But for whatever reason, I’ve never been big on dressing up. My favorite costume was probably a pirate from when I was 6. I always liked pirates. Arrr.

GL:  What is the last book you read? What did you think about it?

BT: The last book I read was J.G. Faherty’s latest, The Burning Time. Great book with clear Lovecraftian influences. I’ve read a lot of his books, and they just get better and better. This one will be very successful, and I encourage everyone to pick it up when it’s published.

GL: I haven't read that one yet, but I'm a big Faherty fan too! Can't wait to pick it up...

GL:  What about the last movie you watched? Thumbs up or thumbs down?

BT: The last movie I saw in the theaters was The Dark Knight Rises. Simply fantastic movie. Not as good as The Dark Knight, but pretty close and much better than any other movie I have seen this year.

GL:  What are you working on currently?  What do we have to look forward to?

BT: I am working on a shared world anthology with several other authors including Jonathan Maberry, Joseph Nassise, Benjamin Kane Ethridge, and Anne C. Petty. All of them are quite successful, and I am honored to join them. The idea behind the book is to have five authors write five separate stories that all take place in the same world, in this case, a world in which exists the shadowy employment agency named LIMBUS.

GL:  Please tell everyone where they can find out more about you and your books.

BT: I’m all over the web these days. People can find me on Facebook, twitter, or they can just go to my website, There they’ll find short stories, interviews, my reviews of other people’s books, and their reviews of mine. Hopefully, they’ll get a little scare as well. 

GL: As always, thank you so much for hanging out with us today! You're super awesome :-)... And thank you for offering up one of your novels. Can't wait to see who the lucky reader will be...

So, here's your chance to get your hands on a signed copy of one of Brett's fantastic novels. Just fill out the Rafflecopter below (or, if for some reason you can't, email your entry--Name/Email/FB/Twitter/Etc. to with "Something Wicked Giveaway" in the subject line). The contest will close at the end of the day, October 31st - Halloween night! Good luck!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Feature: The Void by Brett J. Talley

The Void
by Brett J. Talley
ISBN: 9781936564439
Published July 13, 2012 by JournalStone
Available Format: hardcover, paperback, ebook

My Rating: ★★★★

Publisher’s Synopsis:  In the deepest reaches of space, on a ship that no longer exists, six travelers stare into the abyss . . . and the abyss stares back.

Man has finally mastered the art of space travel and in a few hours passengers can travel light years across the galaxy. But, there's a catch—the traveler must be asleep for the journey, and with sleep come the dreams. Only the sleeper can know what his dream entails, for each is tailored to his own mind, built from his fears, his secrets, his past . . . and sometimes his future.

That the dreams occasionally drive men mad is but the price of technological advance. But when a transport on a routine mission comes upon an abandoned ship, missing for more than a decade, six travelers—each with something to hide—discover that perhaps the dreams are more than just figments of their imagination. Indeed, they may be a window to a reality beyond their own where shadow has substance and the darkness is a thing unto itself, truly worthy of fear.

I’ll admit, I felt like the first bit was pretty slow and sometimes hard to follow. I did read the ARC rather than the final product, so some of the errors and such might have been tweaked out afterward, but it wasn’t terribly distracting—not like some things I’ve come across, for sure! The swapping from first names to last names, and vice versa, did confuse me a little at first, but then I learned the characters and had no problem.

Once things really started happening, I couldn’t put the book down. In fact, I read the last sixty-five percent or so in just a few hours.  Late at night. Just before bed. And I quickly started thinking maybe reading a creepy book about crazy nightmares might not be the best choice I could have made. But, I was okay. J

I don’t think The Void outshines That Which Should Not Be by far, but I still admire Brett’s writing skills and his ability to absolutely creep someone out. I think maybe the sci-fi aspect wasn’t really as interesting to me (as opposed to the mythological feel of TWSNB), and the jumping from one character to another and to different times and places made things a little harder to follow. The character and scene shifts were much more defined in TWSNB, and the narrative flowed a little more smoothly.

I hate to keep comparing the two novels and I hate that it seems I have more negatives than positives.  I really did like the book. I really did love the ideas behind the book. I’ve always been a big “dream” person. And who hasn’t wondered what might be lurking in the shadows? I absolutely enjoyed the short story that was the inspiration for the book. And Brett is still one of my favorite authors. I’m just hoping that his next novel will showcase his talents a bit better. :-)

Be sure to stop by tomorrow for an interview with Brett, where you'll be able to enter to win a signed copy of one of his books!!!