Beyond the Books

Self-Help Spotlight: Energize Your Life!


Energize Your Life!
By: Del Millers, PhD


Are you suffering from a personal energy crisis?Are you constantly running through your day, feeling chronically exhausted? Are you desperately overcommitted? Do you find yourself sacrificing your health, family time and quality of life just to meet the never-ending demands on your time? Are you exhausted when you go to bed at night and still tired when you awake? If the answer is yes to any of the above questions, then you may be suffering from a personal energy crisis.

Unfortunately, this way of living — and working — not only robs us of our health and puts a strain on time and energy resources, it blocks our access to our most essential sources of energy, leaving us feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally drained.

In his new book, Energize Your Life, Dr. Del shows you simple things you can do everyday to fuel your life and work with positive energy. Drawing from his years of experience consulting with executives, entrepreneurs, small business owners, career changers and self re-inventors, as well as the wealth of new research over the past two decades on positive psychology, employee engagement and play, Dr. Del demonstrates how you can program the brain — and the subconscious — for productive, beneficial action.

Energize Your Life is different from other positive energy books and personal energy management programs. Its unique advantage is that it shows you how to fuel your life and work with positive energy from seven distinct sources.

And why is it important to increase your daily dose of positive energy? Well, several studies have clearly demonstrated that chronic stress and negative energy shuts down the creative problem solving brain, slows your productivity and puts you in fight or flight mode where very little gets done.

Energize Your Life will challenge and inspire you to develop a personal action plan to fuel your life and work with positive energy everyday. Thereby, improving your personal well being, enhancing your work engagement, and helping you feel more alive.


Amazon / Barnes & Noble

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Dr. Del Millers is the founder of,, and author of eight books on nutrition, fitness, and personal growth.

A PhD Nutritionist with a Masters degree in psychology, Dr. Del teaches simple mind-body principles to busy entrepreneurs and professionals to help them energize their lifestyle, improve their personal wellbeing, and enhance their work engagement.

Dr. Del has appeared on FOX Television (Good Day LA), E-Entertainment TV (DR 90210), numerous nationally syndicated radio shows, and in magazines, and newspapers throughout the United States and Australia (LA Sports & Fitness, Australian Ironman, Health & Fitness, Stuff, Fighting Fat and others).

Dr. Del’s greatest passion is sharing what inspires him with others. He lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife and three daughters.

Buy any of Dr. Del’s books and forward your receipt to for Dr. Del’s special bonuses worth hundreds of dollars. Subscribe to Dr. Del’s weekly podcast at

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

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Captain Hawkins Book Blast



Join us for H. Peter Alesso’s CAPTAIN HAWKINS Book Blast today! Please leave a comment to let him know you stopped by!
Captain Hawkins
Author: H. Peter Alesso
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 207
Genre: Science Fiction
Jamie Hawkins was living on an obscure planet in the twenty third-century when on one fateful night—his life changed forever. His heroic effort to save the lives of innocent women and children, caught in the cross-fire of war,
placed him squarely in the crosshairs of avenging soldiers.
A former marine, Hawkins was stunned when his rescue effort was seen as treachery. Unfairly convicted of treason by a corrupt judge, he was sentenced to life imprisonment at hard labor on an infamous penal colony.
Once in prison, his courage and perseverance won him the admiration and trust of his fellow convicts. While he was plotting his escape, an enemy attacked the planet–giving this daring warrior his chance. Together with his fellow prisoners, he launched a bold assault and high-jacked an enemy warship.
From then on, the rebel ship Indefatigable, engaged in multiple ship-to-ship and fleet actions until the exploits of Captain Jamie Hawkins became legendary.



Book Excerpt:

The black of night had fallen, but Jamie Hawkins couldn’t sleep. Though the surgeons had patched up his many wounds, the remorseless pain persisted, even now, months after his medical discharge from the Marines.
Despite his desire to ignore the unwelcomed thundering blows, he answered the door to his country home and found his neighbor, tall scrawny seventeen year old Joshua Morgan, gasping for breath.
“Captain Hawkins, come quick! Come quick, or they’ll all be killed!”
“Who? What are you talking about, Joshua?”
“I’ve just come from the city—it’s a war zone. People are dying,” Joshua’s voice broke. “The hospital is taking care of the wounded and sheltering women and children, but its force shield is buckling.” He finished in a breathless rush, “It’s only a matter of minutes before it fails.”
A troubled frown creased Hawkins’s face. Their mothers had been friends and he had known Joshua since he was born.
Has the boy been drawn into the turmoil? He wondered.
Hawkins had listened to the broadcasts throughout the day, absurd in every detail; demonstrators declared that they were only protesting injustice, while the government insisted the violence was a last resort against rebels.
Which is the greater lie?
I told one of the doctors, I knew someone who could help. My flyer’s right outside, sir. You must come,” begged Joshua, his expressive eyes pleading.
A more kindhearted man, who possessed his insight, might have agonized over what was happening in the capital city, but though Hawkins was not unsympathetic, past adversity had left him more hardboiled and cynical than most.
“That’s not my concern anymore,” he said.
Joshua’s desperate voice squealed, “You’re a veteran. You could make a difference, sir.”
Hawkins put his hand on his hips, threw his head back, and barked, “Ha!”
Then, giving vent to a deep inner passion, he demanded, “What difference can one man make?”
As a Marine, Hawkins had been a hot-blooded warrior, always quick to action, so at this moment of great upheaval, while frenzied violence was playing out in the capital, he surprised himself with his reluctance to act. As he ran his hand over the long jagged scar that marred his chest, one thing was certain, the foolish mutinous passions of the people could only lead to ruin.
But the look that spread across the boy’s face was indescribable—it was as if he had just lost his hero.
“Alright, if you won’t come, at least tell me how to maintain the shield,” said Joshua, showing a daring and persistence beyond his years. “I’ll go back alone, but you must tell me what to do.”
“You have no idea what you’d be getting yourself into. All hell has broken loose. Can’t you see, you can’t contribute anything worthwhile, and most likely something terrible will happen?
“I must go back, my mother is a volunteer at the hospital,” said Joshua. Throwing back his shoulders with a determined jerk of his chin, he challenged Hawkins’s jaded gaze, pleading, “Please. Tell me how to fix the shield.”
Hawkins opened his mouth, but the words froze on his lips. The boy’s courage was a splash of cold water in his face, stinging his sense of honor. It wasn’t in his nature to send this boy to certain deathfor Joshua could never accomplish what had to be donenor it was in his makeup to let innocents be condemned to death with the hospital’s destruction.
A gritty resolve washed over Hawkins. He said, “Let’s go.”
Wearing a brown pilot jacket, tanned rawhide trousers with knee-high leather boots, calfskin gloves, and goggles, Hawkins skillfully maneuvered the single seat flyer at breakneck speed. Joshua desperately clung to him to stay on the back of the motorcycle-like vehicle–his arms wrapped tightly around Hawkins’s waist.
What they saw was a madhouse–Newport was ablaze with savage fires that lit up the horizon–scores of them. Just hours before it had been a vibrant city, the capital of Jaxon, renowned for its culture and history, thriving with
business and commerce, home to over a million inhabitants going about their ordinary daily lives, now it was a battlefield.
Though his home was a mere two dozen kilometers outside the city, it was impossible for him to fly directly there. There were several sharp mountain peaks in their way, one tremendous one, flanked by two smaller ones, causing
Hawkins to race the engine of single-seat turbojet to gain altitude. The noise and vibration of the straining sputtering engine roared into the dark rainy night until they were able to ascend to three thousand meters.
When they reached the outskirts of the city, they descended to a hundred meters, but skyscrapers rose in their path causing them to fly directly over a paved highway that connected the planet’s capital to the suburbs. It was swollen with traffic–pedestrians, motorcycles, trucks and cars–choking the road. There were people of every description; disheveled housewives and construction workers, unskilled laborers and local tradesmen, reeking hobos and sharply dressed businessmen, young and old, men and women alike, all seeking safety. Some carried cherished possessions while others brandished antiquated bullet guns, since the government had already confiscated most laser and plasma
weapons. This crowded mass of human unhappiness snaked its way along its ill-chosen path intent on escaping the terrifying violence.
Is Joshua’s mom in that mob? Hawkins wondered.
Those remaining in the city suffered under a shower of high explosive aerial bombs intermixed with artillery shells. With sirens wailing, Hawkins saw bombers overhead dropping death from the skies and heard the repeated firing of artillery in the distance. He couldn’t tell who was doing the shooting.
After his initial reluctance to come, he agonized over whether he would arrive in time. A nearly impenetrable wall of smoke, flame, debris, and explosions added extra heart wrenching minutes to the journey.
Every two minutes a new wave of jets would be overhead and a new barrage of artillery shells would join in. The roaring fires pulsed, like the blind fury of an agitated buzzing beehive. Little fires grew into big ones, right before his eyes. Big ones died down under the valor of firemen, only to break out again a few moments later.
Hawkins saw the panic in the street. The city’s civil-defense included shelters that were now overflowing with refugees. Many had left their homes and defied the flames to run to the bomb shelters distributed throughout the city, only to find there was no room for them. In addition to the death and injury, everywhere there was evidence of psychological trauma–children sat in rubble–their dead parent’s bodies nearby. It was impossible to gauge how much more the citizens could take. Panic and raw nerves grew tighter with each passing minute. The people prayed for a respite–but there was little hope for mercy on this night.
Hawkins heard the crackling of the closest flames and the screams of victims and firemen, alike. Smoke blurred his vision and seared his lungs.
Nevertheless, he kept going with Joshua clinging to his waist.
“Arf! Arf!” choked Joshua.
“Here cover your mouth with this handkerchief,” yelled Hawkins over the uproar around them.
The sirens wailed.
Hawkins cursed.
“Oh, no,” said Joshua. “Are we too late?”
“We’re almost there,” said Hawkins.
They heard detonations high in the air. The sky was alive with a deadly dance of destruction.
Then another–
Farther down the street, Hawkins could see soldiers breaking through the defensive ring of some diehard demonstrators, sending them fleeing in every direction. He couldn’t quite make out what the people were yelling, but he could see one oversized banner fall to the ground.
It read, “Beware the Wrath to Come!”



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About the Author


As ascientist and author specializing in technology innovation, H. Peter Alesso has over twenty years research experience at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). As Engineering Group Leader at LLNL he led a team of scientists and engineers in innovative applications across a wide range of supercomputers, workstations, and networks. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy with a B.S. and served in the U.S. Navy on nuclear submarines before completing an M.S. and an advanced Engineering Degree at M.I.T. He has published several software titles and numerous scientific journal and conference articles, and he is the author/co-author of ten books.


Beyond the Books: Colorado Dream Book Blast!

We’re happy to host Charlene Whitman’s COLORADO DREAM book blast today! Please leave a comment to let her know you stopped by!
Author: Charlene Whitman
Publisher: Ubiquitous Press
Pages: 450
Genre: Sweet Historical Western Romance
Yearning to become a concert musician, a young woman from New York travels to Colorado to purchase a violin, but when she meets a wild, untamable cowboy, her dream is threatened and her heart torn …
In New York in 1877, Angela Bellini longs to become a concert violinist and get away from her abusive father. When her dream takes her to Greeley, Colorado, to purchase a violin from a master instrument maker, she learns she must wait three weeks until her violin is ready before she can head home.
Angela is determined not to let anything or anyone waylay her dream, but when she meets rough-and-tumble cowboy Brett Hendricks, her heart is torn. He is her opposite in every way—uncouth, cocky, and reckless. But she is hopelessly drawn to him, like a moth to flame.
Brett Hendricks is on the run—not just from an angry rancher who is tracking him down for shooting his son but from a dark and troubled past plaguing him with guilt and shame. A wild, untamable cowboy, Brett can break any horse with a soft touch and soothing word, but nothing in the world can bring him peace. He fears he will never stop running, never see his dreams of ranching realized.
But then, one evening, he hears sweet violin music that seeps deep into his soul–music that floods him with peace. He falls hard for Angela but knows she plans to leave Colorado. All his attempts to win her heart fail disastrously, and though he buries himself in the cattle roundup, when he helps thwart a rustling outfit, his enemies multiply.
Somehow he must find a way to gain Angela’s heart and trust. And somehow Angela must break past her distrust
of men to discover the love awaiting her with open arms.
Pick up your copy at:


Book Excerpt:

Chapter 1
September 9, 1877
New York City, New York
The slap on Angela Bellini’s
cheek burned, but not as fiercely as the hurt in her heart. The pain and
disappointment smoldering there sizzled like hot embers, threatening to reduce
her to a pile of ash. She glared at her father’s back as he stomped out of the
Why couldn’t her papá
understand? She would not marry Pietro, no matter how wealthy his family was,
no matter how many years her papá and his had planned such an arrangement. “It
is our way, Angela,” he had told her again, his face hard and eyes dark and
menacing, leaving no room for debate. “And you will marry him. You are twenty
years of age—you are lucky he is still willing. You’ve made him wait long
When she forced her objections
past the rock lodged in her aching throat, she knew what would follow. What
always followed. Her papá’s rage erupted in a torrent of Italian curses that
ended with a slap that knocked her nearly senseless against the foyer wall
before he stormed out the apartment.
As she slid down in a heap by
the front door, she had caught a glimpse of her mamá in the kitchen, her back
turned to her in unspoken submission. Angela huffed. I will never marry and
become like you, Mamá—squashed under the thumb of some man who wants only
subservience and a crowded apartment full of squalling babies.
She swallowed back
tears. She would not cry—not today. Today she would take the first steps—real
steps—toward her dream. And no one, not even the powerful and prominent Giusepe
Bellini could stop her.
Their tiny stuffy apartment
rumbled—as it always did six times a day and twice each night—from the Third
Avenue El Train fifty feet away. The noise of the wheels clacking and the
platform rattling mingled with the loud voices of her downstairs neighbors
arguing—Mr. Paolino’s tenor to his wife’s shrill soprano. Outside her window,
carriages clattered on cobblestones in sharp staccato, and shoppers and
merchants carried on in boisterous conversation, sounding no more pacifying
than an orchestra tuning their instruments.
On most days Angela could
drown out the suffocating symphony of Mulberry Bend by rehearsing violin caprices
in her head, imagining her fingers flying over the fingerboard, her right hand
bowing the strings, eliciting the sweet and sonorous timbre of her instrument.
But on this stifling, humid
September afternoon, the many pieces she’d memorized—no, absorbed into her very
soul, as if food that nourished her—flitted away, out of reach, as she pulled
down the heavy carpetbag from the hall closet—a bag that she’d found months ago
stuffed behind a stack of wool blankets.
She stopped and listened. Her
mama was humming in the back room as she folded laundry. Her two younger
siblings were off playing with neighborhood children—in the street, no doubt,
as the sweltering heat was worse indoors.
Angela’s hands shook as she
dabbed her perspiring forehead and neck with a handkerchief and went through
her mental list of all she would need on her trip. Not much—she’d only be gone
ten, perhaps, twelve days, if all went as planned. She pushed from her thoughts
her papá’s impending fury at her insolence and the resulting punishments that
would await her upon her return. But she had made her decision, and there was
no turning back.
Hurry, she told herself. Her papá had gone downstairs to the corner market,
and while he often spent an hour or more on Sunday afternoons smoking cigars
with the men of the neighborhood, discussing the politics of her close-knit
Italian community and their various business ventures—and arranging their
daughters’ marriages
, she thought bitterly—he could return at any time.
In her bedroom, she gathered the
neat stack of clothes she had put in her bottom dresser drawer, then stuffed
them into the traveling bag along with her few womanly items, her prayer book,
some sheets of music, and a spare pair of shoes. She checked her reticule and
found the roll of bills—the money she’d earned over the last two years from
babysitting and teaching music lessons through Signore Bianchi’s instrument
shop on Second Avenue. She hoped it would be enough for the quality of violin
she planned to buy.
Mr. Fisk hadn’t answered her
inquiry regarding pricing in his letter. He merely assured her he would provide
her with an exceptional instrument and that they would work out the financial
details once she arrived in Greeley, Colorado.
Would her meager savings be
enough? It had to be, for she couldn’t return to New York and face the audition
committee without a proper instrument.
The director’s words still
stung. “You’re a talented musician, Miss Bellini. But you bring shame to
your craft by playing on such an inferior violin. Come back when you have an
appropriate instrument.”
The three committee members had politely frowned
when she flustered an apology and hurried to the exit of the symphony hall,
pressing down her humiliation and frustration as tears welled in her eyes.
Her papá could well afford to
buy her a violin of exceptional quality, and every year at Christmas she begged
him to indulge her love of playing with the purchase of a new one, but he only
laughed in cool disdain and waved her away. “Give up your foolish dreams,
Angela. Your place is in the home, with a husband and children. Not on the
Her papá regarded music appropriate only at holidays and festivals
and family gatherings, and only traditional song and instrumentation. He
didn’t—couldn’t—understand this dream she nursed. The dream to play in the New
York Philharmonic, to play on stage before an audience, to be a part of the
creation of ethereal music that filled a great performance hall and moved
listeners to tears.
To make matters worse, her
older brother, Bartolomeo, sided with their papá, constantly nagging her to
“get married already and stop being a burden on the family.” Although he was
but two years older, he and Dora had three children. And Dora—and most of
Angela’s other girlfriends from her school days, who were also married—gave her
constant looks of pity, as if Angela was missing out on life’s greatest joy.
But they just didn’t understand.
She had to fan the tiny spark
of her dream to keep it alive, to prevent it from being snuffed out by her papá’s
stern expectations and society’s demands. And it had nearly been extinguished a
month ago, upon her papá’s brash public announcement of her engagement to
Pietro—an arrogant youngest son of a successful wine merchant who had no love
for music—none whatsoever. She harbored no hope that he would ever understand
her passionate need to play the violin, and no doubt he’d forbid her pursuit of
her dream.
And then she’d read an article
in the Times about one George Fisk, a master violin maker in a newly
founded town in the West—a place called Greeley. On a whim she’d written him.
Why? She didn’t know. She could purchase a violin in Manhattan—one of
sufficient quality. But there was something about the description of this man,
Fisk. The way he spoke about the instruments he made. The care and time and
love he put into each one. He built his instruments with a passion and love for
beauty and music that resonated with her. For, she wanted more than a good
violin. She wanted one that spoke to her soul, one made just for her. George
Fisk promised he could provide just that. But she had to travel halfway across
the continent. Was she willing? he’d asked her.
Yes, she wrote him. Yes,
more than willing.
Although, she’d never traveled outside of the city, and
the thought of venturing into wild country, alone, made her stomach twist. But
Fisk had told her not to worry. He would see to her accommodations and show her
around his “wonderful little Western town.” And she had to admit—she was ready
for an adventure.
She looked around her cramped
tiny bedroom situated in a crowded apartment in a busy, noisy city. I’m more
than ready for peace and quiet, and to get away from Papá’s mean spirit and
violent temper.
What must it be like to stand
under a wide-open sky spattered with stars, with no neighbors quarreling or
trains rattling or horses’ hooves clacking on stones? Her heart yearned for
such open space, for such silence. Silence that longed to be filled with
beautiful music. She imagined nature itself performing a symphony of birdsong
and coyote howls and water cascading over rocks. Those were some of the images
her mind drifted to as she played, and she longed to merge her own musical
voice to that of creation, if even just for a day or two.

About the Author


The author of “heart-thumping” Western romance, Charlene Whitman spent many years living on Colorado‘s Front Range. She grew up riding and raising horses, and loves to read, write, and hike the mountains. She attended Colorado State University in Fort Collins as an English major. She has two daughters and is married to George “Dix” Whitman, her love of thirty years. The Front Range series of sweet historical Western romance novels (set in 1876) includes Colorado Promise, set in Greeley, Colorado; Colorado Hope, set in Fort Collins; Wild Secret, Wild Longing, which takes readers up into the Rockies, and Colorado Dream (release date 11/15/16) and Wild Horses, Wild Hearts (release date 1/1/17).

Join Charlene’s mailing list to get free books, news, and sneak previews of upcoming books and covers:



First Chapter Reveal: On Top of the World (Until the Bell Chimes) by David Lamb

on-top-of-the-worldTitle: ON TOP OF THE WORLD (UNTIL THE BELL CHIMES)
Author: David Lamb
Publisher: Woolly Mammoth Books
Pages: 240
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Contemporary Romance/Multicultural/Humor/Satire

2016 BEST FICTION-Pacific Book Awards. FROM THE FUNNY AND NATURALLY BRILLIANT DAVID LAMB, award-winning playwright of the New York Times celebrated play, Platanos Y Collard Greens, comes a modern spin on Dickens’ classic tale that perfectly combines humor and romance in a story re-imagined for our digital, consumerist age. This version of Scrooge and Belle is familiar, yet unlike any you’ve come across before. Scrooge, or rather Scrooje, is music’s biggest superstar, with one hundred million albums sold, fifteen million devoted YouTube subscribers, two and a half million Facebook likes, and twenty-five million fanatical Twitter followers known as Scroojites. Belle, is a legal shark who gulps down her opposition voraciously and whose beauty and stunning figure causes traffic accidents as she zips through the sidewalks of Manhattan stylishly adorned and taking no prisoners. They never imagined being music’s most powerful couple, but that’s exactly what happened when Belle fell head over heels and gave the Coke-bottle glasses wearing, plaid and stripe attired, scrawny, biggest nerd on her college campus the ultimate makeover, turning him into a fashion impresario whose style sets trends from Milan to NY Fashion Week and who can be seen courtside at the NBA Finals sporting a perfectly-fitted cashmere suit. Then it happens. Belle realizes too late that she’s created a chart-topping monster as Scrooje’s ego explodes and he starts acting a fool. Now, it’s been three years since they ve spoken. But tonight at Hollywood s biggest red carpet event, with the whole world watching, they’ll be given a second chance. Will Scrooje listen to the ghostly-advice of Marley, his best friend since the fourth grade, who at the time of his untimely drowning at his Brazilian poolside birthday bash was as big a star as Scrooje? Will Scrooje finally do right by his number one artist, Cratchit, a genius comedian, who Scrooje invariably rip offs every chance he gets? And with twenty-five million viewers tuned in will Scrooje finally shed his ego, jeopardize his image and declare his love for Belle, the one he betrayed and let slip away? Second chances don’t often come around. Will Belle even give him a chance? Mixing heart, soul, bling and romance in a fresh, original satire about race, class and celebrity worship Lamb establishes himself as one of the most talented and amazing writers today. And leaves no doubt that the Pacific Book Awards chose wisely when they selected On Top Of The World as the year’s Best Fiction.

Purchase Information:

Amazon | iTunes | B&N

First Chapter:

Life’s a Beach; I’m just playing in the sand. I had to thank Lil Wayne for that one. It was my motto. I had it inscribed on the door of my office underneath my crown.

Why did I have a crown?

Because I’m musical royalty. That’s why I’d insisted the government carve my face on Mt. Rushmore. People said I was crazy spending $5 million suing to make it happen. But hey, a king must get his due.

Look, I know the Revolution of 1776 liberated America from the grip of kings. But I was a new kind of king, one who’d created an empire no poor boy had any business ever dreaming of. Yes, Fitty netted $100 million when Coca-Cola gobbled up Vitaminwater, whoop-de-damn-do. And yes, Jigga sold Rocawear to Iconix for $204 million, big damn deal. Peanuts. I had my eyes on the man Forbes proclaimed the richest human being who ever walked the earth—my own handsome ancestor (and one day, DNA tests will prove this), Mansa Musa, the emperor of Mali whose face adorns history’s most famous map, the Catalan Atlas, where he’s pictured seated regally and holding a big-ass gold nugget. The man Forbes estimated to be worth $400 billion.

Now, this wasn’t to say my wealth was in Mansa Musa’s neighborhood (truth be told, I was still trying to reach Diddy’s financial zip code), but no one could deny what I’d achieved. Musical royalty; forty million albums sold; a $100 million concert tour; the hottest-selling clothing lines; and my sneaker sales were on the road to making Air Jordan’s look like chump change.

This was my destiny.

From the moment of my birth, I was enamored with my own distinction. How do you think I was so motivated to beat those millions of others racing for the prize? I guess the blame for what some deride as my massive ego goes to the boisterous celebrations sweeping the country the year I was born. Two hundred and some odd years after the Thirteen Colonies declared independence; I happily broke free from nine months of solitary confinement in my mother’s belly. It was 1984, and once I escaped, I couldn’t wait to get the party started. From the first slap on my bare behind to my first scream that soon followed, I absorbed America’s Olympic celebrations like a sponge. I decided right then and there I wanted my name to live forever.

Okay, so that sounds a little much, but just imagine if you’d grown up a little Black boy named after a Charles Dickens’ character. Your ego might be a little warped, too.

So please, before you judge, hear the whole story. Before I was headlining concerts, people had no idea how to pronounce my name; and even today, most believe it’s my nom de plume, completely unaware that it’s my family’s legacy, the result of an overseer’s bitter attempt at vengeance. How else could I end up with a name like “Scrooʝe?”

Yes, today Dickens is one of the world’s most beloved writers. But that wasn’t always the case. Back in the 1840s, a young Charles Dickens decided to, as the English say, “take a trip across the pond” to see what life was like in America.

When he published his travel memoir, American Notes, nine months later, the excrement hit the fan.

Dickens had unmasked the brutality of what the good folks of the South called “the peculiar institution,” thereby helping spur Britain’s expansion of abolition with the passing of the Indian Slavery Act of 1843, and pissing off slaveholders that Dickens had opened his big fat mouth in the first place.

As fate would have it, in this overheated atmosphere, my great-great-great-grandfather was born on a plantation run by Virginia’s cruelest overseer. Who, according to the family history my grandma passed down to me, was so angry when he learned Dickens had printed one of his runaway slave ads in American Notes, that his face turned red as an apple while he cursed like a sailor. He then promptly ordered “ten Nigras whipped” because Dickens had the gall not to recognize how kind such a fine gentlemen as himself was to the slaves. Not one to take insults lightly, the overseer started a petition to have Dickens’ books banned from the States then tried to sue him for libel. A year and a half later, after having failed on both fronts, he vowed to extract his revenge by naming the next slave born on the plantation after Ebenezer Scrooge. And just to be sure to pour a little extra salt on the wound, he decided to change the order of the names because as he said, “Nigras get everything ass backwards.”

So that was how my great-great-great-grandfather came to be named Scrooge Ebenezer.

Miraculously, despite enduring indescribable brutality on the plantation, Scrooge Ebenezer ultimately triumphed. During Reconstruction, he became one of the first Black congressmen. Since that time, all of his male descendants have been named “Scrooge.” As the decades passed and times changed, my father decided to give the spelling some Ebonics flair.

Now you have to understand, my father (in his youth) had been the embodiment of cool, so much so that he’d once run a marathon at high noon in August in Arizona—without so much as breaking a sweat, all while delivering up-to-the-minute analysis of the race as he ran. Naturally, a man whose magnetism was so strong that college debutantes patiently waited in line to ask to be his high school prom date, wanted to bestow some of his overflowing charisma on his firstborn son. So when Dad came up with his Ebonics-inspired translation, he proudly proclaimed: “Now if that ain’t cool, I don’t know what is.”

Unfortunately for me, it was the first time in my father’s life his cool barometer was off. All of the fallout from Dad’s ill-timed miscalculation fell upon my scrawny shoulders (or more accurately, upon my young ears). On a daily basis, my classmates took unbridled delight in twisting my name into unflattering caricatures.

“Screwed-yuh,” was at the top of the list, but there were plenty of others. “Screw-gee poop” and “Scrooʝenezer” were popular. But “Ebonsneezer” was the hardest to shake because it had a revival every allergy season when I would have sneezing fits so loud and powerful, I felt like I could blow the windows off their hinges. Even my teachers, who weren’t trying to make fun of me, struggled with the pronunciation, mangling my name so many times I lost track. I would cringe every time Mr. Manigold came to my name when he checked attendance. “Scroogie Ebon-eye-zer” was the closest he ever came to getting it right, and that was only after a half-dozen other mess-ups.

As a little boy, I’d lie awake wondering why my father couldn’t have just kept the original spelling. I promised myself that if it were my destiny to be named after a Victorian character then one day the whole world would know my name.

I kept my promise.

Wish my pops were here to see what I’ve done. Sometimes onstage—even with twenty-two thousand people screaming my name—I’d feel all alone and retreat inside the music, letting the rhythmic bass lines invade my soul until I was one with it. Then everything would stop, and I could sense my heart pulsating on the downbeat. I’d close my eyes and imagine I was three years old again, laughing as my father spun me in the air, telling me I could achieve anything.

And it felt beautiful.


Guest post: “Let’s Talk About Jane Fonda,” by Robert Wideman, Author of ‘Unexpected Prisoner’

I was a prisoner in North Vietnam for almost six years. I am very familiar with the treatment of POWs in North Vietnam during those six long years. Today most people think that the North Vietnamese tortured me 24/7 for six years. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I describe my treatment as a nightmare for the first two months, a country club for the last three years, and like law school the two and a half years in between, your basic miserable existence.

Jane Fonda visited us during the summer of 1972.  She told the world, “The American POWs are being treated well.” I listened very carefully to what she said. At the time the North Vietnamese treated us better than the Geneva Convention required. We got outside five to six hours a day, we received three meals a day including sweet toast or sweet milk for breakfast, we received water buffalo meat once a week with gravy, we wrote home every month, and we received packages from home every other month.

The POWs called Jane Fonda a liar. Go figure!!

I have tried to tell the whole truth about the treatment of POWs in my book, Unexpected Prisoner. When we first came home, our government and the senior American POWs told the world and the American people that never in the history of warfare have POWs been treated so badly. That was just wrong.

Many senior American military and political leaders knew that the Vietnam War was a loser but said nothing, because they did not want to jeopardize their careers. Instead they preferred to have American boys die on the battlefield. Those same senior military and political leaders ridiculed and demeaned those brave and courageous Americans who opposed the Vietnam War including Jane Fonda.

Thank the Lord for Jane Fonda and those courageous Americans who opposed the Vietnam War. But for them, we would still be in Vietnam.



Title: UNEXPECTED PRISONER: Memoir of a Vietnam Prisoner of War

Genre: Memoir

Author: Robert Wideman


Publisher: Graham Publishing Group

Find on Amazon

About the Book:

When Unexpected Prisoner opens, it’s May 6, 1967 and 23-year-old Lieutenant Robert Wideman is flying a Navy A-4 Skyhawk over Vietnam.  At 23, Wideman had already served three and a half years in the Navy—and was only 27 combat days away from heading home to America. But on that cloudless day in May, on a routine bombing run, Wideman’s plane crashed and he fell into enemy hands. Captured and held for six years as a Prisoner of War in Vietnam, Wideman endured the kind of pain that makes people question humanity.  Physical torture, however, was not the biggest challenge he was forced to withstand.  In his candid memoir, Unexpected Prisoner, Wideman details the raw, unvarnished tale of how he came to understand the truth behind Jean-Paul Sartre’s words: “Hell is other people.”

A gripping, first-person account that chronicles the six-year period Wideman spent in captivity as a POW, Unexpected Prisoner plunges readers deep into the heart of one of the most protracted, deadliest conflicts in American history:  the Vietnam War. Wideman, along with acclaimed memoirist Cara Lopez Lee, has crafted a story that is exquisitely engaging, richly detailed, and wholly captivating. Unexpectedly candid and vibrantly vivid, this moving memoir chronicles a POW’s struggle with enemies and comrades, Vietnamese interrogators and American commanders, lost dreams, and ultimately, himself.

With its eye-opening look at a soldier’s life before, during and after captivity, Unexpected Prisoner presents a uniquely human perspective on war and on conflicts both external and internal. An exceptional story exceptionally well-told, Unexpected Prisoner is a powerful, poignant, often provocative tale about struggle, survival, hope, and redemption.


About the Author:

Robert Wideman was born in Montreal, grew up in East Aurora, New York, and has dual U.S./Canadian citizenship. During the Vietnam War, he flew 134 missions for the U.S. Navy and spent six years as a prisoner of war. Wideman earned a master’s degree in finance from the Naval Postgraduate School. After retiring from the Navy, he graduated from the University of Florida College of Law, practiced law in Florida and Mississippi, and became a flight instructor. Robert Wideman holds a commercial pilot’s license with an instrument rating, belongs to Veterans Plaza of Northern Colorado, and lives in Ft. Collins near his two sons and six grandchildren.

Connect with the author on the web: Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn





How To Eat Your ABC’s Book Blast!


Author: Theresa A. McKeown
Publisher: The ABC’s of Everything, LLC
Pages: 30
Genre: Children’s Picture Book
How to Eat your ABC’s” is a cleverly written and illustrated book, which encourages children to get excited about healthy eating, while also developing a genuine love for reading. Each letter of the alphabet is represented by a fresh
fruit or vegetable and is narrated by BuzzBee, (a friendly honeybee who adores children). Written entirely in rhyme with a melodic tone, it is meant to be read aloud. Not only will it inspire kids to fall in love with fresh healthy food, but it will also build their vocabulary and phonemic awareness.
“How to Eat Your ABC’s” will instill a healthy, happy, conscious way of looking at life from a young age.
We invite children and parents alike to follow BuzzBee and his friends as they show everyone how to eat their way through the alphabet.


Book Excerpt:



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About the Author
Theresa McKeown spent over two decades in the entertainment arena before embracing her true passion of writing children’s books. After producing hundreds of hours of television for a host of cable and network outlets, Theresa is now on the path of what she considers her highest calling.

Theresa and her sisters have created “The ABC’s of Everything, LLC”, a family endeavor solely focused on publishing several series of children’s books, digital content, and educational curriculums. All will be written and produced with an awareness of the true possibilities that children of the 21st century can realize.

As an author, Theresa is dedicated to estimating rather than underestimating the wisdom of children. Her philosophy is that kids are fully adept at understanding nuance and meaning and it’s not necessary to talk down to them. She is dedicated to creating a new paradigm in the children’s book world by introducing work that fully embraces the insightfulness, perception and unlimited intellectual potential of today’s youth.

Her books are meant to plant the seeds of education and awareness early in a child’s development, knowing full well that children will ultimately blossom into the best versions of who they are meant to be.

In her role as producer, Theresa traveled worldwide, filming from locations as diverse as the White House, NORAD, the Pentagon, FBI headquarters, maximum-security prisons and from the top of the World Trade Center. Along the way she “tail-hooked” onto an aircraft carrier in the Pacific, yachted through South America with jet setters and chased bad guys with the LAPD in a helicopter.
Yet, with a background like this, building a community to celebrate children promises to be the most exciting adventure of all



Character Interview: Brandi from S.K. Nicholls’ crime romp, ‘Naked Alliances’

nakedalliances_jpegWe’re thrilled to have here today Brandi from S.K. Nicholls’ new crime romp, Naked Alliances, the first volume in the Naked Eye Series.  Brandi is a twenty-nine year old exotic dancer living in Orlando, Florida.

It is a pleasure to have her with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you so for this interview, Brandi.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

Thank you for having me. Sorry I was late, but there was a Snorlax in my nearby sightings and I found him right around the corner. My author did a wonderful job portraying me in Naked Alliances. The private investigator in our story claims I’m irresponsible, but I saved his butt more than once.

Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?

Colorizing is an interesting choice of words. I’m biracial and transgendered. My author took great pains to make certain that I wasn’t stereotyped, but Richard Noggin, a.k.a. Dick Head, P.I., certainly seemed to have some images of me that are stereotypical. I hope we’ve cleared the air on a few of those in the first book, so the author doesn’t have to work so hard in the next. I also appreciate that my author was able to demonstrate that I am quite capable of being a nurturing soul, even if things didn’t start out that way.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

I take crap from nobody. Especially not a bumbling P.I. who can’t seem to keep hisself out of trouble. He’s smart man with crummy luck, but I’m no dummy. I’m a former Explosives Ordinance Disposal Specialist in the U.S. Army, and did a brief stint as a cop. Dancing and entertaining men are not the only things I do well. I am highly skilled. And I’m certainly not gonna take any crap from some mastermind of an organized crime ring.

Worse trait?

Admittedly, I have two bad traits. First, I have a horrible fear of guns. It came about after my Army days when I was working as a cop and had a serious incident trying to talk down a woman with a gun. Things didn’t turn out well. And finally, not so much a trait as a habit, but I smoke cigarettes. At least I did when the author wrote the book. But I’ve quit the cigarettes since then and now I vape, make my own e-juice, and wrap my own coils.

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?

Chablis from “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”. She’s my heroine. Loved the movie and loved the book by John Berendt. She was not only the heroine in the book, but played herself in the movie. RuPaul has some characters that might do the job well, but I can’t think of one that’s better than me.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

I like to think I’m confident about my sexuality and I have loved. Truth is, I’m recently transitioned, so I’m still sort of struggling with my sexuality and since the book is set in a nudist resort that has a significant population of swingers, I had opportunity to consider my options. I still can’t decide if I’m more attracted to males or females. I’m attracted to both for different reasons. Richard is kinda cute, but with his attitude, I’m not sure we could ever really be more than friends.

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

When Richard showed up at the nudist resort all angry at me for leaving our little friend, Cara, alone I thought he was gonna send me on my way. But after finding out what a bad day he’d had, I was able to smooth things over. Then, there was a time when he took off on his own to settle a score and I was really worried.

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

Tim Morrison, the former mayor of Orange County and current Administrator of Growth and Development. He plans to run for Governor, but leads a double life. He tries to keep too many secrets. I put it all out there. He’s more sexually confused than I am, and sex-trafficking is rampant in his community. I wouldn’t want his job. Not only did he lose his wife to murder, but he could very likely lose his kids. He’s an unhappy man, and his personal assistant is an arrogant a**hole. I’d fire him in a minute.

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

I’m glad our author insists on having a satisfying resolution for each book in the series. I want to know what’s going on with everybody in the books, but hate cliff-hangers.

What words of wisdom would you give your author if s/he decided to write another book with you in it?

I really need a new purse. That military green, oversized messenger bag from my Army days holds a lot, but it’s cumbersome, Richard hates it, and it’s just not fashionable.

Thank you for this interview, Brandi.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

I sure hope so. My author is eager to see how well we are received in the reading community with this first book. If everything goes well, and I’m talking reviews here, she’s promised me a starring role in the next book. (As if I wasn’t the star of this one.) She loves to hear from people about what they liked and didn’t like about her work. You can write to her at 

This was my most fun interview to date!



Genre: Mystery

Author: S.K. Nicholls


Publisher: Brave Blue Heron Books

Purchase on Amazon

About the Book: In Naked Alliances, novelist S.K. Nicholls takes readers on a witty, wild, wickedly fun romp that exposes a side of Orlando tourists rarely see. The debut release in The Naked Eye Private Investigator Series, Naked Alliances introduces lone wolf P.I. Richard Noggin.

 When a young immigrant woman and an exotic dancer are forced to flee men with guns and have no place to hide, Richard Noggin, P.I., can’t turn his back—even if helping out makes him a target. Richard plans to impress an aspiring politician by taking on a big white-collar case that could take him from the streets to an air-conditioned office. Instead, he’s handed a cold case and quickly finds himself sucked into a shadowy world of sex, secrets and…murder. Marked for a bullet and stretched thin by his investigations, Richard reluctantly teams up with the unlikely, brassy custodian of the young woman on the run. With bodies piling up, Richard and his companion are forced to go undercover in a most unlikely locale: the Leisure Lagoon, a nudist resort.  Going undercover in this instance will mean going uncovered…but lives are at stake—and this Naked Eye will have to juggle to keep his balls in the air and connect the dots before anyone else is murdered. As his pulse-quickening quest for answers leads from the dark corners of Orlando’s Little Saigon to the sunny exposure of the Leisure Lagoon, Richard will be put to the test. Just how much will this Naked Eye have to bear…or bare? The heat is on in this quirky Sunshine State crime thriller.


About the Author: S.K. Nicholls’ family owns and operates one of the oldest and largest nudist resorts in the nation located in Central Florida, Cypress Cove. Her experience gives her a deep understanding of the lifestyle choice and how it is extremely different from the sex industry, yet harbors clandestine elements of intrigue and fascination. Social issues are at the forefront of her writing. A former sexual assault nurse examiner, she has a special interest in the subject matter of sex-trafficking. A native of Georgia, she lives in Orlando, Florida with her husband, Greg.


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