Category Archives: Guest Post

A Visit to Bar Harbor, Maine – Guest Post by Heather McCoubrey, author of Back to December


A Visit to Bar Harbor, Maine – Guest Post by Heather McCoubrey, author of Back to December

A Visit to Bar Harbor, Maine – Guest Post by Heather McCoubrey, author of Back to December Back to December by Heather McCoubrey
Published by the author on June 20 2014
Genres: Romance
Pages: 372
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Thanks to an abusive mother and an absent father, Anna Blackhurst has only known the love of two people: her Gram and her best friend, Niki.

When Anna meets Cooper Reed in a smoky club, she’s immediately drawn to his good looks but isn’t prepared to open herself up to a relationship. As time passes, Anna finds herself falling in love with Cooper and she begins to rethink her future. Maybe, despite her childhood, she can have a happy-ever-after.

But when her mother is in a terrible accident, she again sinks her claws into Anna and Anna’s world is thrown upside down. Despite Cooper’s unwavering support, Anna walks away only to regret it immediately. In order to heal, not only herself -- but also her broken relationship, Anna must stand up for herself and accept that the only way she's going to be happy is if she grabs ahold of it herself.

Today, Heather is taking us to visit one of the setting locations from Back to December.

When Cooper invites Anna to go away for a weekend, he takes her to a little town called Bar Harbor, Maine. Bar Harbor holds a special place in my heart: two days after my wedding, my husband and I packed a moving truck and moved from Virginia to Maine. Between my husband, my sister-in-law and myself, we drove three vehicles north–the moving truck broke down twice and we had to constantly pull over to fill it with oil. We arrived in Maine in the early hours of the morning and spent the night in a hotel. The next morning, we woke to do the final walk-through, and on approximately four hours of sleep, we closed on our house. We spent the next two days unloading the moving truck and then we decided to it was time to finally take our honeymoon. So we left our brand new home, in a shambles–boxes everywhere and nothing unpacked –and drove the scenic route north on Route 1, which follows the coast of Maine.

If you’ve never done a scenic drive along the coast of Maine, I highly recommend it. You will pass through many quaint little towns, like Bar Harbor. If you take the time to stop and visit, you’ll even learn much about each town and find some treasures along the way. From incredible restaurants to antique stores to souvenir trinkets, you won’t be disappointed or bored. We stopped at a little diner on our way north, and even now when I drive by, I think of it fondly and try to stop in for a delicious meal. One of the great things about a trip like this is the memories that stay with you forever!

We stayed at the Primrose Inn, a gorgeous bed and breakfast that was built in 1878 by Col. William Holland, a banker from Savannah, Georgia. That same year, the St. Saviour’s Episcopal Church finished construction on its new sanctuary. Christopher Starr Leffingwell became the first Pastor for the church. Originally, Col. Holland built the house to be his summer home but sold it to Mr. Leffingwell in 1882, allowing Mr. Leffingwell to be closer to his church and parishioners.

This inn was the setting for Cooper and Anna’s weekend getaway. I chose the room my husband and I stayed in as Anna and Cooper’s room. I took a little creative license with the inn and the room by moving the inn closer to the harbor and having their room overlook the harbor, rather than the front of the property.

Bar Harbor is a great little town–it’s historic, quaint, and is the entryway for Acadia National Park. Acadia National Park is home to Cadillac Mountain, the highest point along the North Atlantic seaboard and the first place to view the sunrise in the U.S. from October through March. Acadia National Park has many opportunities for fantastic outdoor activities, including hiking, bird-watching, leaf-peeping, climbing, swimming, horseback riding, scenic drives . . . the list goes on.

Cooper takes Anna to Cadillac Mountain, and while their plan was to watch the sunrise, neither was up early enough to watch it. When they finally do get up and moving, they go hiking, picnicking, whale watching, watch a movie in the old movie theater, and enjoy the view from Cadillac Mountain.

Maine is full of quaint little towns like Bar Harbor. Towns that mix their Down East Maine fishing village heritage with quiet community charm. I hope you enjoyed learning a little more about one of the settings in Back to December.

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About Heather McCoubrey

Heather McCoubrey is a native of Maine but having moved all over the U.S. as a child, she doesn’t sound like one. She’s been writing since middle school when a teacher taught her she could create her own stories instead of just reading them. That year she had some of her first poems published in the school magazine and from there she graduated to writing a full-length novel in high school (which has been collecting dust on her shelf ever since!).

She is the self-published author of To Love Twice and Back to December. The novel that’s been collecting dust on the shelf, Emily’s Choice, was released in March 2016. Her fourth novel is scheduled to be released early summer 2017.

Heather resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, two children, Rex the chihuahua, Psycho Killer the outside cat, and Fatty the goldfish. When she’s not being super-mom and wife, she ekes out time to write, watch football, practice her British accent and dream of living on an island where it’s eighty degrees year-round.

Guest Post by Lauren Carr, author of A Fine Year for Murder (with giveaway)

Guest Post by Lauren Carr, author of A Fine Year for Murder (with giveaway) A Fine Year for Murder by Lauren Carr
Series: Thorny Rose Mysteries #2
Published by the author on January 30, 2017
Genres: Mystery
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After months of marital bliss, Jessica Faraday and Murphy Thornton are still discovering and adjusting to their life together. Settled in their new home, everything appears to be perfect … except in the middle of the night when, in darkest shadows of her subconscious, a deep secret from Jessica’s past creeps to the surface to make her strike out at Murphy.

When investigative journalist Dallas Walker tells the couple about her latest case, known as the Pine Bridge Massacre, they realize Jessica may have witnessed the murder of a family living near a winery owned by distant relatives she was visiting and suppressed the memory.

Determined to uncover the truth and find justice for the murder victims, Jessica and Murphy return to the scene of the crime with Dallas Walker, a spunky bull-headed Texan. Can this family reunion bring closure for a community touched by tragedy or will this prickly get-together bring an end to the Thorny Rose couple?

An Author By Any Other Name ….
By Lauren Carr (aka Jack’s wife, Tristan’s Mom, Marilyn Mayhem, and Beast Master)

Occasionally, I receive an email from an author terrified of using Facebook, the Internet, or any social media for fear of friends and relatives identifying them. Once, I received an email from an author afraid to promote his upcoming book. “I have relatives out there who I don’t want to find me,” he said.

I’m certain there’s a great story behind this, but he refused to tell me.

I was surprised when I first started conducting workshops in using social media to discover that many writers are terrified of promoting their books online for fear of their friends and family finding out that they’re published authors. So, I offer this solution: Use a Pen Name!

Read on to learn about my not-so-secret identity.

My husband has been the financial director at our church for over twenty years. Yep, this mystery writer, who spends her days researching how to kill people is a middle-aged church lady. Since I am somewhat a local celebrity, our church’s gift shop carries my books. While we don’t endorse murder, my mysteries are clean of profanity, graphic violence, and explicit sex. Therefore, our senior pastor (a fan) allows my titles to be sold in our bookstore.

One afternoon, I was coming down the hall outside my husband’s office when I heard our office manager telling a woman, “You really should ask Lauren Carr about that. She might be able to help you.”

“Lauren Carr?” the woman replied. “Do you have her number?”

“Of course,” Jill answered. “She’s Jack’s wife.”

Hearing my name, I stepped into the office and a woman, a church member who I had known for years, turned around. When she saw me she said, “That’s not Lauren. That’s Marilyn.”

Laughing, Jill explained, “She’s all three of them. Lauren Carr is her pen name. She’s also Jack’s wife. He calls her Marilyn Mayhem. But her real name is Terri.”

The woman’s eyes got wide. “Jack is married to Lauren Carr!” Judging by her expression, you would have thought I was Nora Roberts (another author that uses a pen name) living undercover as a middle aged church lady called Marilyn by her close friends.

My true identity is not exactly a state secret. Yep, Lauren Carr, Jack’s wife Marilyn (which is another story), Tristan’s Mom, Beast Master to three dogs—they would all be me.

Pen names are nothing new. Authors have been using them for centuries. Some names are famous: Mark Twain was really Samuel Clemens and Dr. Seuss was Theodor Geisel. Ann Landers was Esther Pauline Friedman. O. Henry was William Sydney Porter.

Why would an author change his or her name to hide his or her identity from the real world rather than step forth and take all the glory they deserve for having completed the daunting task of writing a book?

There could be any number of reasons:

In Mary Ann Evans’ case, she was writing at a time when books written by men were more successful than those written by female authors. So Evans assumed a man’s name (George Eliot) to relate better with her readers.

Likewise, award winning mystery author L.C. Hayden, says that when she first started writing by her real name of Elsie Hayden, she received rejection after rejection until she changed her name to L.C. to give publishers and readers the impression that she was a male writer.

Another author I had worked with used a pen name because his first book, fiction-based-on-fact, said some not so nice things about some real people and he wanted to hide his identity. During my career, I have met more than one writer considering the use of pen names for just this reason.

In the case of Stephen King (Yes, even Stephen King used a pen name!) he didn’t want to risk saturating the market with Stephen King books. At the beginning of Stephen King’s career, publishers limited authors to one book a year. In order to increase his publishing, he convinced his publisher, to print a series of novels under a pseudonym, Richard Bachman.

My reason for using the pen name of Lauren Carr is not quite so grand, or even interesting. Frankly, I don’t like the name Terri. I never did. That’s why my husband calls me Marilyn. (No, that is not my middle name. … It’s a long story.) When I was growing up, I realized that since I wrote fiction, which is not real, then I was free to take on a not-real name and I could be any one I wanted.

What a kick!

I thought long and hard about my name. I gave as much thought to it as an expectant mother, because that was who I was going to be, even if only on the cover of a book. I chose Lauren because my sister’s name is Karen. I was convinced that if my mother was thinking straight, that Lauren, not Terri, would have naturally followed Karen. Don’t ask me why or how I came to this conclusion, I just did. Carr was my late stepfather’s last name.

So, I became Lauren Carr, a pen name that I have had longer than my real name. I was Lauren Carr before I married my husband and took on his name. Little did I realize that as my career has grown, that Lauren Carr would become a whole other identity, which is also a kick.

Is it fun? Sure is.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a mystery dinner theater in the small town where we have lived for close to a quarter of a century. I hosted the event. During the performances, I would be introduced as Lauren Carr to the audience. Jaws did drop. Many people in the audience had read Lauren Carr books, written by the local author, but they didn’t know Tristan’s mom and Jack’s wife wrote those murder mysteries. “She seems so normal!”

Other questions that writers considering using pen names ask me:

What about when customers write checks? Do you have to make them sign them under your real name? Check with your bank. When I first started making public appearances, I contacted my bank and explained the situation, which they thought was cool. This bank said they would accept checks made out to my pen name as long as I deposited the whole amount into my account, which is under my real name.

Yet, when we opened an account at a different bank, this one stated that they would not take a check made out to Lauren Carr because Lauren Carr is not a real person.

Post Office: Let the post office and your mail carrier know that mail addressed to your pen name is for you. Otherwise, it might be returned as wrong address.

Email Address: Very simple. Many people who don’t have multiple identities have more than one email address. I have one email that I use for my personal accounts, one for Lauren Carr for my writing business, and yet another for my social media accounts (which I rarely check). I get more emails to Lauren Carr than I do for my real identity.

I also have different signature lines set up in Outlook. If it has to do with writing, the signature line is from Lauren Carr, author. If it is a grocery list to my husband, it is Marilyn. Terri doesn’t have a signature line.

Social Media: For book promotion, I have a Lauren Carr account and a separate personal account for my personal life. Not too long ago, a friend said that she had to friend Lauren Carr because I never used my personal account.

However, I don’t put truly personal information out there on the social media. The foremost reason I use it for promotion. Therefore, never—I repeat—never put anything personal out there on the Internet that will reflect poorly on your public image. Example: You have a fight with your husband—don’t go onto Facebook to announce that you married a doofus and then provide a blow-by-blow account of your side of the fight. That’s not going to sell books and will alienate some of your readers. Constantly think about your public image and how you want to present yourself. Don’t upload that video of you wearing the beer hat and dancing naked on the kitchen table while singing “I’m a Little Tea Cup.”

Security is a big thing that most authors are concerned about in using social media. We have all heard stories about maniacs hunting down people who they have been following on the Internet. A few years ago, I received a phone call at home from someone who had found my mailing address on the internet. He knew he lived in the same town where I lived and GoogleMapped it. He claimed he lived only a few streets from me. After a few long emails from him and phone conversations, I went on the Internet and removed my address from everywhere I could find it.

Make an effort to not give away too much about your personal life even if you use a pen name to hide from long lost relatives. I don’t post pictures of my house. I refrain from posting pictures of my son and my husband. Not too long ago a reader who realized she lived in the same town I did posted questions on my timeline on Facebook trying to find out where I lived and if we knew the same people. At one point, when she had put it together, instead of sending me a message off-line, she posted on Facebook “Are you …” I refused to say yeah or nay. If she had sent a message off-line instead of my timeline where everyone could read it, I would have answered her.

What’s the point, or the fun, of having a pen name if you don’t get to live behind a veil of mystery? As an author, with a pen name, you can be whoever you want to be.

Are you a middle-aged church lady on the outside with a young adult cozy writer buried deep inside you? Or maybe you’re a shy kindergarten teacher harboring a thrilling romantic suspense author behind those reading glasses.

Then maybe you might want to unleash your alter-ego and give her a name.

It’ll be fun!

Enter the Giveaway!!

Ends April 22

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About Lauren Carr

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, romance, and humor.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, son, and four dogs (including the real Gnarly) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

The Missing Link in the Diet Industry: Guest post by Dede Barbanti, author of Transform: The Secret to Unlocking the Perfect You


The Missing Link in the Diet Industry: Guest post by Dede Barbanti, author of Transform: The Secret to Unlocking the Perfect You

The Missing Link in the Diet Industry

It’s unfortunate, but the diet industry has tricked people into believing that they have to continuously consume their breakthrough product, pill, shake, boxed meals or follow their program if they want to lose weight. Most popular diet programs or products give you that glimmer of hope that maybe this time this one thing will be different and you’ll finally get the results you so desperately seek; but most of those programs will completely destroy your metabolism. They severely limit your calories by replacing nutritious meals with shakes or by changing your appetite with some type of diet pill. Or they provide you with sodium-and preservative-filled prepackaged meals to make it easier for you to stay on track, but they cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars in the long run. And they never show you how to tackle the real problems that cause the merry-go-round.

The diet industry is a multibillion-dollar industry for a reason, my friends: everyone is looking for the easy way out. But Trojan horses can only provide you with a temporary fix, and they are designed to keep you on them forever. Just think about it. If you are replacing any nutritious meal with shakes that claim to have as many vitamins and nutrients as a well-balanced meal, what happens when you stop taking those two shakes a day and start eating like a normal human being again? You will just gain the weight back—and then return to the shakes because you were duped into believing they are the only thing that actually works and can give you results.

As a single mom that has always had to make every minute and penny count, this makes me furious! None of these things provide you with the tools you need for real, lasting results. Just take a moment and think. Why would the “diet industry” want to give you the answer to permanent results? Why? If they did, they would lose residual revenue. They want you to have to stay on their programs or keep going back; this is why they only give you half of the answers. I firmly believe that if you bring balance to three key areas in your life, you will transform your body, life, relationships, and most of all; it will change you from within. When you realize that you can do anything you set your mind to, the sky’s the limit! I am in my fabulous forties, a single mother of three great kids, and a fitness and lifestyle coach, but life has not always been the glitz and glam that it is now. (Note the slight hint of sarcasm?)

To sum up my life before as quickly as possible, I was on top of the world, with a successful fifteen-year career as a professional choreographer and competitive dancer. In my late twenties I got married, got pregnant, and left dance entirely. I ended up getting a regular nine-to-five in real estate, and with tremendous success in sales eventually became a licensed broker. During this same time, I had two more children and got divorced, and the real estate market crashed. I found myself very overweight, eating and drinking a lot, totally broke, and alone. So yes, there is a lot that I am not going into detail over because that could literally take forever and would be a novel in itself!

So what happened to me? At some point during all of this, I totally lost who I was, my passion for life, and my passion for myself. I had always been active and fit, and I had always known what I wanted. I always had direction, but that person had disappeared. What I was facing in the mirror was an overweight, empty version of my former self. Now, don’t get me wrong. My kids are my passion and what I live for, but as you all know, it’s very easy to lose who you are when all you do is give to everyone around you. How could I raise my children to be happy, confident, independent, successful individuals when I wasn’t modeling that in my own life? After some serious reflection, I had to accept where I had gone wrong.

I am a firm believer that the best teachers, coaches, and mentors are the ones that have been there themselves. How can one truly guide someone else if they haven’t experienced the same struggles? Nobody is perfect. I’m just a regular mom who has been through many of the same obstacles you have faced and come out on the other side. This doesn’t mean my life is perfect or that my way is the only way. I’m just very resilient, and what I did worked for me. It has changed the lives of countless people I’ve had the pleasure of working with, too.

It’s unfortunate that most people want to put their precious time and energy into a quick fix. They are willing to believe in any magic concoction or program with a good pitch. It saddens me to see that people are so quick to waste hard-earned time and money on this stuff, but are not willing to slow down and focus inward. I believe that diets, pills, weight loss shakes, and other Band-Aid types of superficial weight-loss programs and products are pure crapola! Sure, you can starve and malnourish yourself by living on shakes. Of course you can waste your hard-earned money on sodium-and preservative-filled prepackaged meals. But what happens when you are ready to go back to normal life? You can’t live on shakes and prepackaged foods forever! Not to mention the diets that claim you will lose a certain amount of weight in thirty, sixty, or ninety days. What happens when those thirty, sixty, or ninety days are over? Ask yourself why you are always bouncing from diet to diet or product to product. Why? Because they only provide you with a temporary fix. None of these things provide you with the tools you need for real, lasting results, and like I said before, it all starts on the inside. The majority of people who overeat are overweight because they are using food as a reaction; their obesity is a byproduct of their external and internal circumstances. Overeating, weight gain, lack of motivation to exercise, and lack of consistency and commitment are the symptoms of not dealing with the core barriers and bringing balance to your mind, body and inner self.

The missing link in the diet industry is that they don’t help you identify your core barriers. They don’t help you identify what needs to be adjusted internally so you have the solid foundation to achieve want you want externally. By keeping you tied to their products, they prevent you from achieving and maintaining your goals. They have no reason to teach you how to change your negative patterns! That would take money out of their pockets. The truth is, I can teach you all day long how to eat correctly. I can show you all the right exercises for burning fat and building muscle. But in the end, if you don’t deal with whatever is causing your self-sabotaging habits and blocking your logic, vision, and commitment, you will not be able to build a solid foundation that can maintain your results. You will only find yourself on that endless, frustrating carousel that you and many others have been on time and time again. You and you alone have the power to achieve your weight-loss and fitness goals. You have everything you need to achieve the life balance and body you have dreamed of. You do not need to starve yourself, pollute yourself with diet pills or drugs, or spend thousands of dollars or hours at the gym. You have all of the tools within yourself and in your home to get the body you want, but first you have to build that foundation. Weight loss my friends begins on the inside, not the other way around.

Let’s face it—things go wrong, plans change, people will let you down; but it’s what you do and the choices you make that determine your happiness. So before you try to blast me with excuses like “I have kids,” “There just isn’t enough time in a day,” “My husband/ex doesn’t help me,” “I work too much,” or “I’m too tired, and this is why I have to buy into these band aid diet products;” don’t even bother. Been there, done that. I know every excuse in the book. I am a firm believer that if you follow your passion, you will find your life’s purpose. When you want something bad enough, you will not let anything or anyone stand in your way. So you can sit there and make excuse after excuse, but the truth is,

“If you want it bad enough, you will do whatever it takes. Only you have the power to create the body and life of your own design. But the first step is to take that first step.”

The Missing Link in the Diet Industry: Guest post by Dede Barbanti, author of Transform: The Secret to Unlocking the Perfect You Transform: The Secret to Unlocking the Perfect You by Dede Barbanti
Genres: Self-help, Health
Pages: 257
Buy on Amazon
Add on Goodreads

Finally, a book that will provide you with the answers that change your body and your life! TRANSFORM really is the SECRET TO UNLOCKING THE PERFECT YOU. Once weighing over 200 pounds, Fitness and lifestyle expert Dede Barbanti not only gives you the tools to achieve your weight-loss goals, but helps you dig deep to fix the core issues that keep you from lasting success and your true potential.

This is not your traditional weight-loss book. Most diet books focus on the outside by changing your eating and exercise routines,but they fail to find the root cause of your bad habits: what, why, and where they all started. These band-aid treatments never treat the problem, only the symptom, and most people find themselves back at square one, frustrated and defeated. Dede's no-holds-barred approach gets your booty into gear by tackling the real issues of your weight loss merry-go-round; so you can stop the madness and unlock the perfect you.

You can continue reading all of those other diet and lifestyle books that ultimately keep you repeating the same old story and never seems to get you anywhere, or you can get real with yourself and finally bring about the changes that you have always wanted...permanently!

About Dede Barbanti

Dede Barbanti is a renowned fitness & lifestyle coach, certified soul memory discovery facilitator, author, motivational speaker and single mother of three. Once weighing over 200 pounds, Dede has dedicated her life to developing innovative methods that have literally changed the face of weight loss, fitness, dieting and lifestyle!

Through the creation of her first format Boogie Box (BBX) and the “Un-Diet” nutrition and weight-loss program; Dede lost over 70 pounds in less than 6 months and has since helped countless people from all over the world. Since forming BBX, Dede has released two groundbreaking workout DVD’s “Boogie Box LIVE” & “BBX Hardcore.”

Her groundbreaking techniques and work have been featured on shows such as: Dr. Oz, Shark Tank, Fitceleb, OnAir, Good Day Utah, ABC, KTLA and FOX News, as well as several media productions. Dede was also named one of OC Metro Magazines “Top 20 Women In Business.”

Dede’s passion, training and experience has helped countless people from all over the USA transform their bodies and lives through her unique and “straight shooting” methods.

Pulling from her years of experience, Dede has written a complete lifestyle guide, TRANSFORM: The Secret To Unlocking The Perfect You. In it, she shares her three principles to obtaining the body and life of your own design!

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