Thursday, June 28, 2012

Interview with author Bill Birnbaum-

Born and raised in New York, Bill spent his middle years in Southern California. There, he raised two sons and enjoyed a twenty-five year career as a self-employed management consultant. For twenty years, Bill published and edited the Business Strategies Newsletter. He authored two business books, including, Strategic Thinking: A Four Piece Puzzle. Published in 2004, that book is currently in its third printing.

In 2007, Bill and his wife, Wendy, were ready to write a new chapter in their lives. They sold their home, put everything they owned in storage and purchased one-way tickets to Arequipa, Peru. They spent the next eight months living in Peru, six of those months working voluntarily in a poor community in the Peruvian Andes. In 2008, the Birnbaums spent an additional four months traveling in Ecuador, Patagonia, Chile and Argentina.

Bill holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from The City College of New York, School of Engineering and a Master’s Degree in Business from California State University-Fullerton.

Thanks so much for your time!  You have a varied background that led you to write! 
Q: Tell us briefly about your book.

A: In my newly-published memoir, A Lifetime of Small Adventures, I relate my stories of adventure from my mischievous boyhood to my mountain climbing adulthood.  As a boy, I flooded the basement of my home – quite by accident, I assure you.  As a young man, I acquired the habit of picking up hitchhikers.  Fortunately, only a few of my passengers were seriously dangerous. 
In my memoir, I also relate my lessons learned.  I point out that we citizens of modern society are too busy  and too often concerned about things which aren’t important at all. 

About my writing style – I think of it as easy-going.  Others have described it as both humorous and friendly. 

Q: How did you feel the day you held the copy of your first book in your hands?
A: Holding my first book in my hands was an absolute thrill.  The feeling of elation was my reward for having spent all of those months working on the book.  I was especially pleased that I could finally share my stories and my thoughts with my readers.

Q: What type of music, if any, do you listen to while you write? Do you need the noise or the silence?

A: I’m one of those writers who prefers a quiet working environment.  I find music to be a distraction.  And it isn’t just while writing that I need quiet.  I even have trouble reading while a TV or a radio is playing. 

Q: I am always amazed when I see others doing several things while reading!  If you could live in one of your books, which one would you live in?  

A: If I could live in one of my books, I’d live in my recently published memoir, A Lifetime of Small Adventures.  And since it’s a memoir, I actually did live in that book.  My two earlier books are business books, and while I’m proud of having written them, they’re both descriptive of intellectual adventure, rather than physical and emotional adventure.  My business books describe my lessons learned as a business consultant.  But my memoir describes my lessons learned while experiencing life’s adventures.  Whenever I read a chapter in my memoir, I enjoy re-living the adventure.

Q: How great to live in one of your books!  How do you balance out the writer’s life and the rest of life? Do you get up early? Stay up late? Ignore friends and family for certain periods of time?

A: I confess that I’m an undisciplined writer.  I don’t really have a set writing schedule.  Instead, I catch a few hours here and there.  And I’ve drafted quite a number of my ideas and stories in hotel rooms and on airplanes.  Inspiration, at times, strikes me at some very odd moments – like when riding my bicycle or paddling my kayak.  I then play with the idea in my head for a while.   At my first opportunity, I sketch the idea on paper, and later draft the idea at my computer. 

Q: When growing up, did you have a favorite author, book series, or book?

A: While growing up, my favorite author was Mark Twain.  I was especially enamored with his book, Roughing It.  For in that book especially, his dry sense of humor was at its peak.  Twain had a talent for telling a story which initially seemed true.  Then, as the story progressed, he’d depart from reality and, before too long, I’d realize that the story was simply too fantastic to be real.  But exactly where in his story Twain moved from truth to fiction was impossible to know. 

Q: I love how you describe Twain’s writing... very beautiful description.  When they write your obituary, what do you hope they will say about your book/s and writing? What do you hope they will say about you?  

A: When they write my obituary, I’d like them to say that I was an adventurer throughout my lifetime and that I had a talent for relating my stories with both humor and insight.   

Q: Where you have lived and what you have experienced can influence your writing in many ways. Even with your book being a memoir, are there any special locations or experiences that have popped up in your books?  

A: Part Three in my memoir, A Lifetime of Small Adventures, is entitled “Two Special Places.”  There, I tell of Baja California, Mexico and Toroweap Point in the Grand Canyon.  I returned to those two places, again and again, seeking yet another adventure.  Part Five of my memoir is entitled, “Adventure Retirement.”  There I write of my adventures and my lessons learned while living and working voluntarily in a poor community in the Peruvian Andes.   

Q: What is your writing space like? Do you have a designated space? What does it look like? On the couch, laptop, desk? Music? Lighting? Typing? Handwriting?  

A: I work on a laptop computer both in my office and while traveling.  A spare bedroom in our home serves as my office. There are lots of windows for ventilation and window shades to adjust light levels and reduce glare.  The only sound I hear comes from the birds at the bird feeders outside my window.   

Q: Is there any particular book that, when you read it, you thought, "I wish I had written that!"?  

A: I found Michael Crichton’s memoir, Travels, to be fascinating.  Not only were his stories of adventure exciting, also his writing was so very reader-friendly.   

Q: It’s one thing to write a book and another to edit it. How do you feel about the editing process? What was it like to edit your book?  
 A: I know that many authors dislike the editing process, but I actually enjoy it.  For me, it’s fun to watch my work improve with each editing step.   

I print my draft double-spaced, then read it slowly – sometimes aloud – while editing with a red pencil.  Then I return to the computer making corrections on disk and, in the best of cases, this one edit does the trick.  Far more often however, I’ll repeat this process – double-spaced hard copy, red pencil, edit on disk – two or three more times.
Use this space to tell us more about who you are. Anything you want your readers to know. Include information on where to find your books, any blogs you may have, or how a reader can learn more about you and writing.

I’ve recently completed writing my third book, a memoir entitled, A Lifetime of Small Adventures.  When asked to describe the book, I simply refer to the subtitle, Stories of Adventure, Misadventure, and Lessons Learned Along the Way

I live in Sisters, Oregon with my adventurous wife, Wendy, a red kayak and a well-worn pair of hiking boots.

For more information, please visit: 
My business book, Strategic Thinking: A Four Piece Puzzle, is available from bookstores and on-line book sellers.  Here’s a link to the book’s descriptive page on

My recently published memoir, A Lifetime of Small Adventures:  Stories of Adventure, Misadventure and Lessons Learned Along the Way, is also available from bookstores and on-line book sellers.  Here’s a link to the book’s descriptive page on

Also I write the Adventure Retirement blog at:

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tips for Keeping Kids Engaged in Learning

How do you keep kids engaged in learning during Summer Breaks from school especially if parents work during the day or obligations keep you from traveling to far away places?

Here are some tips for keeping your kids engaged and reading, writing, and doing math skills up to their grade level and beyond during long summer days.

  • Take advantage of the internet. Give your child a topic and let them explore the internet within limits for information about it. Make topics original, age appropriate, and pertinent to their interests. Example:  If your child loves baseball let them plan a virtual trip to visit Fenway Park in Boston. Let them search for the history behind the park, google a map, let them plan a fictitious vacation including the cost, mileage, meals, and hotels. Give bonus points for historical information.
  • Encourage a reading contest between siblings and offer points for the winner of the most books.
  • Give your older children the amount of the family income and the general monthly payments including food and entertainment. Let each child make a family budget. Give bonus points for the best budget that offers the family the best savings/spending plan. Initiate the budget for a month and reward the kids with points for success. They can write out the bills as if they were really writing checks and attempt to balance the family budget or look into easy investments. Kids need to learn about the financial aspect of running a family so make it realistic and fun. After working their budget for a month, use the savings for a family outing.
  • Plan fieldtrips to inexpensive places in your town or surrounding areas. Find an interesting museum, a historical figure from your area, a park, or statue with some history to learn about.
  • Build something with your child. Birdhouses, butterfly houses, bat houses, or garden beds can be interesting crafts but also a fun learning experience.
  • Teach your child to cook or prepare an easy desert. Kids love to make food items or to work with their hands. Measuring ingredients and reading a recipe are good ways to increase reading and math skills.
Use your imagination to encourage your child to develop a new interest or start a new hobby. Look to nature for inspiration for craft ideas or search the library or book store for inspiration. With some encouragement such as a point system or a reward your child can keep learning while having fun and without loosing the skills gained from the school year.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Book Review: Moo Kitty Finds a Home

Title: Moo Kitty Finds a Home

By: Valerie Lee Veltre and Liz Leonard

Published by: Squidgy Press  Date:  2011

ISBN: 978-1-60800-010-4

Price:  $16.95

Ages: 5 and up

Rating: 5 stars

Reviewed by: Wayne S. Walker

     Synopsis:  If you were looking for a pet housecat, where do you think would be the best place to find one?  Moo Kitty, so named because he looks like a black and white Holstein cow, lives with his human, an elderly lady, on a tree-lined street in a nice brick house surrounded by flower gardens and rose bushes.  However, after many happy years, Moo Kitty’s human goes to heaven.  Moo Kitty is removed from the house along with all the furniture and put out with the trash cans.  That night, while he is sleeping, three angel cats, Fred, Calvin, and Maybelle, promise that even though he won’t see them they will always be with him.  The next day he meets a lady who takes in stray cats but she has so many that there’s no room for another.  He also meets a man who feeds him but can’t keep him because his wife is allergic to cats.  So he is taken to an animal shelter.  Moo Kitty makes a lot of friends there, but they all end up being adopted and he is left alone.  Will he ever find a home?

     Overall thoughts:  Moo Kitty Finds a Home is based on the true story of a real cat which author Valerie Lee Veltre, of Bee Tree Farm in the heart of Kentucky’s bluegrass horse country, rescued and gave a home to.  It is not only a lovely story that will tug at the hearts of children, especially cat lovers like our family, but also encourages people to consider obtaining an older pet from an animal shelter rather than buying from a breeder or pet store.   In fact there are several pages in the back of the book which provide a list of benefits to, and tips for, adopting an adult pet.  An additional advantage is that youngsters will take comfort in the assurances of the three angel cats which appear to Moo Kitty.  And they will find the charming illustrations by Pennsylvania artist Liz Leonard to be adorable.  Also, publisher Squidgy Press has set up an affiliate program to help shelters financially in their critical mission.  Moo Kitty is an uplifting tale that deals with an important problem of our day in a way that kids can understand and appreciate.

     Links: (book), (publisher)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Summer Safety Tips

Summer fun is so exciting but with it comes safety concerns that you don't have in the winter. The heat of the summer sun can in itself cause sunburn so your first safety tip of course includes skin care.

1. Use sunscreen. Use it no matter your age. Use waterproof sunscreen if you are swimming or boating. And use it often.

The heat of the sun and the humidity can also cause concern for heat stroke and over heating. Safety to prevent this type of illness includes providing cooling methods and hydration.

2. Prevent dehydration by offering children frequent drinks. Water, Popsicles, and low sugary drinks are best. Avoid carbonated and caffeine drinks as those can add to dehydration. Take breaks in the air conditioning often and sit in the shade when possible. The elderly need just as much protection from the heat as do our young children so watch out for those who are older who may be out in the heat especially at family functions. Seek medical attention for anyone who becomes confused for no reason or who becomes faint due to the heat.

Near drownings increase during the summer months when family pools are open and families spend time at nearby lakes and ponds.  The major safety tip when it comes to preventing these accidents is to be diligent with children around pools and water.

3. Keep gates locked and ladders up when not using the pool. Toddlers and young children are not afraid of the water and don't remember when told about the danger. It is essential to be diligent when owning a pool or taking young children around water. Don't over look the dangers of teens that may be too confident around water. Lakes with undertows can be equally dangerous to older children who know how to swim as pools to younger children.

Burns are another high incident accident that can be preventable. Grills, campfires, and fireworks are the major source of burns in both children and adults during the summer.

4. Prevent burns by keeping children away from hot grills. Use precaution when around the camp fire. Keep blankets away from the fire and have children use proper roasting sticks that keep them far enough from the coals to toast a good marshmallow but keep them from burning fingers or face. And supervise any sparklers that older children use. Fireworks should be done by an adult in a safe area away from small children.

Summer is fun and offers so many opportunities to gather and entertain as a family. Don't let a lack of concern for safety keep your family in harms way. Follow a few safety rules and tips for a fun and active summer for you and your children.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

New Release: The Nameless Prince



New YA fantasy to be released by Twilight Times Books in July 15th, 2012

Seth Bauman has issues. His Mom split ten years ago, right after his birth, and guardian Uncle Troy won't discuss the past. Seth's only friend is Mexican immigrant Elena, whom he must walk home from school through Silverlake's gang-ravaged streets. When Elena is abducted by local gang 'the Mayans,' Seth has no choice but to follow the Boatman of the L.A. River into the sprawling network of sewers and metro tunnels concealing Mayan headquarters. To Seth the great labyrinth unfolds as a magical realm called 'the Interior,' whose residents immediately deem him the 'Nameless Prince' of prophecy, sent to save them from peril.

    To find Elena, Seth embarks on an odyssey of riddles and self-discovery. Only in 'Interia' is it safe to discover the truth about his past, and the forgiveness that will set him free. In rescuing Elena he rescues his own innocence. In fulfilling prophecy by learning his name, Seth discovers the greatness that lies within.

About the author:

Dominick Domingo is a veteran Animation Artist (Lion King, Pocahontas, Hunchback, Tarzan, Fantasia.) who's illustrated YA books for Penguin, Random House, Lowell House, Disney Publishing, Hyperion Books, and Harcourt. Developing original screenplays as a filmmaker led to a growing writing resume. To capitalize on it, Dominick recently penned a collection of Narrative Nonfiction essays titled "Jesus Shoes," two of which have been included in anthologies. One of the essays, 'L'Epiphanie,' was awarded the 2011 Solas award in the humor category for 'Best Travel Writing.' The Nameless Prince represents Dominick's foray into Young Adult urban fantasy. He'd be happy to retire as a full-time author. He lives in the Silver Lake neighborhood of L.A., surrounded by hipsters.

Book info:

Title: The Nameless Prince
Author: Dominick Domingo
Author web site:
Publisher: Twilight Times Books
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Print ISBN: 978-1-60619-243-6
Format: 5.5 x 8.5 trade paperback; 236 pages; $16.95 USD
Distributors: Brodart, Follett, Ingram

eBook ISBN: 978-1-60619-242-9; 254 pages; $6.50 USD
Format: ePub, Kindle, .mobi, pdf, .prc
Distributors: Amazon Kindle; Apple iBookstore; Nook; eReader; Fictionwise; Kobo Books; OmniLit; Sony eBookstore, etc
Release date: July 15, 2012

Monday, June 18, 2012

Summer Reading Ideas

I love summer reading . Summer is such a great time to read books just for fun.

Books for summer reading come in all kinds of topics and all kinds of genres. Fun books,  books that help you hone your reading, spelling, and learning skills, and books that take you on adventures that you could never have in real life.

Local libraries often have reading contests or summer reading programs that include crafts, field trips, or guest speakers. Librarians are a great resource for good summer adventures or mysteries appropriate for a specific age child or reading level.

Picture books for younger children, toddler books for little ones, or chapter books for older kids are all choices that parents can make to help kids understand the fun that books can bring. The other good news about reading books from the library besides the variety are that ideas and topics are endless and the library is free. In this economy that is a win win for parents who want to find entertainment for kids that doesn't cost an arm and a leg.

Visit a new country, investigate a famous person in history, or go on a fantasy or science fiction adventure. Whatever you choose, you can find it in a good book. Visit your local library or book store this week to beat summer boredom.

Other reading ideas:

  • Challenge your siblings to see who can read the most books by August 1st.
  • Ask mom or dad if they would donate a dollar for every book you read and donate it to a children's charity at the end of summer.
  • Collect used children's books from your neighbors and donate them to a women's shelter.
  • Read several books for your reading level and then write a similar book yourself. Draw your own illustrations.
  • Read a book on a new hobby or craft and teach yourself how to do it.
  • Visit the website of your favorite author and learn how they find their ideas.
Reading is a skill that you can use in so many fun ways this summer and it can all start with a good book. Happy reading.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

June '12 Book Lovers Blog Hop & Giveaway

Book Lovers June '12 Blog Hop:
Make friends, share the love of reading and be entered to win a FREE book!
All you have to do is post the Book Lovers Blog Hop and World of Ink Tour Banners below to your blog. You are free to copy any of the content here on this blog hop page to help promote the Book Lovers Hop and World of Ink Tours on any social network. 
Tweet it once to twice a day, share on Facebook, LinkedIn, SumbledUpon, Pinerest, etc and then follow others back that leave you a comment. 
By joining the Book Lovers Blog Hop, you are automatically entered in our Book Giveaway! There will be three (3) winners for this Book Giveaway. The winners will win a copy of one book. 

First place winner will receive In All Things: Giving Thanks When Hope Seems Lost by Laura Smith
Second place winner will receive Porcupine's Seeds by Viji K. Chary
Third place winner will receive Out and About at the Zoo by Jo Linsdell

Note: One book per winner.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

  (right click to pick up this button)

  (right click to pick up this button)

(right click to pick up this button) 

Hop Rules:

1.      Follow the Top link of the hop! Hop Host: Families Matter 
       2.      Grab the button for the hop and place it in a post, sidebar, or on a blog hop page and let us know where it is in the comments section below. This will help the hop grow and gain us all new followers. It's a Win-Win for everyone!
     3.      Grab the buttons for the World of Ink Tours and place it in a post or side bar. Make sure you let us know where it is in the comments section below.

Please play nice and follow our simple rules! Make sure to FOLLOW AT LEAST ONE PERSON and as many other blogs as you'd like to have more follow back. This is what makes Book Lovers Blog Hop work, so if you're not willing to follow, please don't link up.
Remember to leave a comment on the blogs you follow to let them know you found them here at FAMILIES MATTER, and if someone follows you, be sure to follow back. If you follow us and leave a comment, we'll definitely follow you too!
Book Lovers Blog Hop is Open…
  Sunday June 17, 2012 at 12am MST!
If you want to become a World of Ink Host and do a review or interview shoot me an e-mail: 
Please make sure you Follow the top link of hop if you want to link up!
Note: You can use all or parts of this post for your post about the Book Lovers Blog Hop.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Book Review: In All Things; Giving Thanks When Hope Seems Lost

About the Book:
Experience an incredible journey that will make you laugh out loud and cry tears of joy and sorrow. Learn how one miraculous encounter with God created an unshakeable faith that would later give Laura Smith the strength to face the near death of her oldest daughter.

About the Author: 
Laura Smith works as a medical coding and reimbursement specialist in Northern Minnesota. She spent her youth on a small dairy farm in Northeast Minnesota. She was married two weeks after her high school graduation. Three years and two children later, she was facing divorce and single parenthood. She moved to a college town in north central MN where she hoped to earn a degree and make a life for her and her two young daughters. There she met and married the love of her life. Together they embarked on a life together as a ready-made family facing all the challenges that comes with it. They had no idea that the life experiences they walked through early on and one life altering event would prepare them for the ultimate challenge, the possible death of their daughter.

In All Things: Giving Thanks When Hope Seems Lost is Smith’s spiritual journey through, divorce, single parenting, raising a bipolar child, desiring a baby so desperately and then after being told it wasn’t possible, becoming pregnant and then losing the miracle through miscarriage. “I share the most intimate and painful moments through those experiences, and the amazing vision the Lord gave me when I was at the deepest part of despair that instantly healed my broken heart, gave me hope and a purpose to live again,” shared Smith.

Her book is touching and Smith opening shares about a faith so strong it caused instant healing and allowed her to be hopeful in all things life throws at her. Smith shared, “Knowing that He has a plan and we just need to see things through His eyes, to see the gold in these life issues; because there is ALWAYS gold.”

Get a sneak peek of the book at

Laura Smith is currently in a virtual book tour with World of Ink Network and working on scheduling a few speaking engagements at some local Women’s Aglow meetings. You can find out more about Laura Smiths’ World of Ink Author/Book Tour at

You can find Laura Smith’s book at Halo Publishing:
As well as all major online booksellers such as, Barnes & etc. You can purchase either the paperback copy or as an e-book.  Of course if you purchase the paperback through Halo, you will receive an autographed copy.

You can follow any other events and upcoming books on Laura Smith’s Facebook and Twitter pages, which she regularly updates.


*Stories for Children Publishing, LLC. (SFC) and its divisions do not receive any compensation for product reviews beyond a sample and/or limited access to a paid website. SFC donates all books sent for review to a charitable organization. SFC may do a contest or giveaway of samples we receive.