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Friday, October 28, 2011

Book Review: "The Alias" by Mandi Slack

Haven’t we all fantasized about changing our identity and slipping into another world at some point?  Ok, maybe I’m revealing a little too much about myself now.  (wink)

Blog tours for new book releases are a lot of fun, but I’m so busy that I don’t normally participate in many.   My blog post today concludes a tour that features newbie author, Mandi Tucker Slack, whose first book caught my eye and made me want to jump on the blog tour train.  I love a good man-on-the run story, especially when he’s innocent, and especially when he’s a woman!   Mandi’s suspenseful story reminded me of Julia Roberts’ movie “Sleeping With the Enemy,” which I got a real kick out of.

Without any spoiler alerts, here’s the gist of Mandi Slack’s tale:  Jacey’s ex-husband is wanted by the FBI.  To protect her son, Jacey flees to a small town and attempts to hide their identity, but her past is never too far behind.  Neither is the FBI.  Throw in a little romance, and it’s a fun, quick read, perfect for when I was taking a long flight, escaping from my own personal world on a quick business trip.

Jacey’s son’s name is Blaze, the same name my family gave our pet dog.  Every time I read the name Blaze in Mandi’s book, I imagined my sweet Papillon as a shapeshifter in her story.  Their personalities are somewhat similar…young, adventurous and not quite a man.  What mother doesn’t want to protect her son?  I have four sons and could relate very well to the mother-bear mentality of doing whatever it takes to keep them safe.  The author is a playful mother of three who lives in beautiful Utah, where the story takes place. 

In an interview with Mandi, she explains “I love to incorporate my hobbies and interests into my writing.”  My favorite thing about writing is being able to create my own adventure. I was a tom-boy and as a child I craved adventure. I explored exotic countries and conquered high mountain peaks all from the comfort of my own back yard. I had a very vivid imagination and that love of creativity followed me into adulthood. I have so much fun when I am able to sit down and pound out the ideas floating around in my head, and I enjoy writing the type of stories that I love to read.”

To learn more about Mandi Tucker Slack and her new book “The Alias”, visit her blog at:

To purchase her book online, go to:   

The Kindle edition is only $3.99!  To read more reviews about Mandi’s new book, check out the rest of the blog tour stops:

October 1st –   DebbieDavis
October 3rd –   KimberlyJob
October 4th –   JulieBellon
October 5th –   CindyHogan
October 6th –   CamiChecketts
October 8th –   LauraBingham
October 11th – Aimee Brown
October 12th – Steve Westover
October 13th – Mindy Holt
October 14th – Holly Barnes
October 14th – Danyelle Ferguson
October 15th – Lynn Parsons
October 17th – Janice Johnson
October 18th – Kaylynn England
October 18th – Maria Hoagland
October 19th – Rachelle Christensen
October 21st – Alice Gold          
October 25th – Tristi Pinkston  
October 28th – Heather Justesen

By the way, if you’re a new author or even a seasoned one, take note of Tristi Pinkston’s excellent marketing techniques.  She’s the one who put this blog tour together and is a master at networking in this industry! 


Monday, October 17, 2011

Amazon Enters the Publishing Business

In publishing news today:
Amazon will soon be competing with the publishing houses that supply it.  The gigantic company is set to publish 122 books this fall in both physical and e-book form. Amazon has signed deals already with self-help author Tim Ferriss and film director Penny Marshall, and is said to be aggressively targeting top authors.

“Publishers are terrified and don’t know what to do,” says Dennis Loy Johnson of Melville House. Amazon has hired publishing veteran Laurence Kirshbaum to run the operation, which will publish both fiction and nonfiction.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

PoetryTurned Into a Vegas Show

“Jabbawockeez is the best show I’ve seen in Vegas by far” was what my 16 year old son posted on his Facebook status last night, after seeing their fun show at the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino.  We live in Sin City and my son has seen quite a few shows, so that’s really saying something. 

Even if you don’t have a break-dancing teen in your family, you’re sure to enjoy this world-famous dance crew’s high energy show. (Old folks near the stage will want to wear ear plugs.) Picture comedic mimes doing some of the coolest hip hop dance moves you’ve seen, add some fly costumes designed by Kara Saun, the runner up on Bravo’s “Project Runway” Season 1, and put it all on a hip stage set and you’ve got 90 minutes of good, CLEAN entertainment, perfect for families.

The Jabbawockeez first gained fame in their national television appearance on America's Got Talent in 2006, before winning the MTV hip-hop dance reality series, Randy Jackson Presents America's Best Dance Crew in March 2008. They’re considered to be the ultimate dance crew these days and have inspired countless kids to get out there and bust a move.  Does anyone say “bust a move” anymore or did I just reveal my age?

While the target audience is most definitely the young club set, we were surrounded by an amused older crowd in the audience as well.  The dancing is accompanied by a spliced mixed tape of sorts that features musical fan favorites and movie audio clips that span several decades, causing the audience to cheer and clap in excited spurts.

The crew’s signature look includes white masks and white gloves, but even without faces, the dancers’ bodies gave effective expression, often communicating with hesitant volunteers from the audience for some delightful comedy sketches.  In fact, the performers don’t take themselves too seriously at all and the show is almost a comedy routine mixed with some impressive flares, locking, popping and dime stopping.

Without a word from the dancers, they were able to weave a faint story throughout the show of how anyone can find their muse (the show’s title “MUS.I.C” is read “Muse I See”.  I’ve seen several Vegas shows start with a janitor sweeping the stage (get in your seat at least fifteen minutes early to enjoy his pre-show antics), but this blue collar Wockee maintains his faceless identity during the whole show and attempts to teach us that anyone can dream big by bringing “the colors of sound” to life.

One of my favorite sections of the show was a ninja showdown that featured some glow-in-the-dark antics that were fun with the lights off and hilarious when the lights came back on to reveal their secret tricks.  The Jabbawockeez know how to poke fun at Vegas too, dressing up as Elvis, Blue Man Group, Carrot Top, and a show girl.

The original crew consists of seven members: Kevin Brewer, Joe Larot, Phil Tayag, Chris Gatdula, Ryan Paguio, Jeff “Phi” Nguyen, and Ben Chung “B-Tek.” Before being accepted as official members of Jabbawockeez, Jeff and Ben Chung had to participate in a dance battle with one of the three founders.  I did a head count during the Vegas show and soon learned that MTV’s “America’s Best Dance Crew” Season 2 winners Super Cr3w perform nightly with Jabbawockeez, adding some extra athleticism and acrobatics to the show.  In fact, at times there is so much going on the stage that it’s hard to know which performer to focus on.

The name Jabbawockeez is derived from Lewis Carroll’s poem Jabberwocky, briefly alluded to in the show when the janitor starts to read the book and then falls into a dream state.  By the way, don’t sit in the first three rows if fog machines bother you. Although the show started off a little slowly, the packed audience was eager to award the crew with a standing ovation at the end.

And now a few bummers…I talked to several adoring audience members who had their wallets out, ready to buy merchandise before and after the show, but were quickly discouraged by the ridiculously steep prices, leaving the dope signature masks and t-shirts in the store.  I was surprised that the dance crew didn’t take their masks off at the end of the performance like they so often do, and a bit disappointed that they didn’t come outside the theater to greet the audience and take photos.  (I had my Flipcam ready to film them becoming best friends with my son.)

The crew’s success in Vegas means that the show has been extended through spring 2012.  Performances are Thursday at 9:30 p.m., Friday at 9:30 p.m., Saturday at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. and Sunday and Monday at 7:30 p.m.  Tickets start at $52 (plus tax and fees).    For more information, please visit or

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Writers Get New Support Online


In writing news this week:

Writing can be a lonely task. It can be tricky to motivate yourself, and without proper feedback, it’s hard to know how to improve. Several websites already exist to encourage writers, through classes, workshops, online forums and more. Tomorrow, a new site called LitReactor adds its name to the list.

Created by the team who built Chuck Palahniuk‘s website, which itself has hosted writing classes and more, LitReactor uses a combination of engaging content and smart gaming mechanics to encourage writers to gain both new skills and new trusted friends.  Check it out!