It’s A New Life – Mom is Gone – A Memoir about Living Independently with Severe Cerebral Palsy – By Steven Salmon – A Book Review

It’s A New Life – Mom is Gone – A Memoir about Living Independently with Severe Cerebral Palsy

By: Steven B. Salmon

Robert D. Reed Publishers, P. O. Box 1992, Bandon, Oregon, 97411, 9781944297152, $ 12.95, 2017, 154 Pages

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake,

A Candid Message of Living with the Difficulties of Severe Cerebral Palsy

“It’s A New Life – Mom is Gone – A Memoir about Living Independently with Severe Cerebral Palsy” is Steven D. Salmon’s story.  This is an amazing Story of the aspirations, determination, dedication, and diligence that have motivated Steven in his passion to become a recognized, successful, and accomplished author. Steven shares his story of overcoming challenges to write about the physically disabled. He serves as a voice and advocate for the many who do not have a voice that is being heard

Steven’s mother dedicated her life to help him succeed. Steven has a Bachelor of Science degree in English with a writing minor from the University of Wisconsin- Stevens point and a Liberal Arts degree from Madison College. All these years his mother served as his primary care giver, so he could go on to pursue a writing career

When his mother could no longer meet all of Steve’s physical needs, health attendants were hired to become a care team. Things dramatically changed the day his mother fell several times. Steven alerted the family with a call for help. When help arrived his Mom was taken to the Emergency Hospital, she never returned home. She died of a cardiac arrest.

The realization that “Mom is Gone” thrust Steven into a new stage in his story. He now had to face the challenge of living independently with severe cerebral palsy.

I found it hard to put Steven’s book down. There were other times when he was so gut wrenching honest it was hard to go on reading.  I felt uncomfortable. As I continued to read Steven’s story, I begin to see life through a new set of eyes. I felt ashamed and embarrassed for living in an uncomfortable vacuum of hypocritical empathy, without recognizing the dignity or character of the individual in a wheel chair, quietly seeking acknowledgement, affirmation, or maybe even an act of friendship.

Steven has ignited a new flame and refueled my passion to write with the reminder to:  Believe in yourself, be patient, never give up. He encourages us to exchange our fears, failures, and impatience for hopes and dreams of success. This is the advice and encouragement he received from his friends, and now passes along to his readers.

I am left with an indelible picture of Steven at his computer, in four hour blocks of time, using a Morse code word choice program.  Since he cannot use his hands, he uses his head to tap out his words.

“It’s A New Life – Mom is Gone” is a gripping story of the severe physical limitations, the pain of loneliness, of feeling being lost, scared, and tired; all while in the pursuit of bringing an influential message of hope to a unique people who have been looked upon as unemployable, who are relegated to become wards of the state living in group houses, highly medicated, forgotten victims of the “system.”

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.




Stop Chasing Influencers – The True Path to Building Your Business and Living Your Dream by Kimanzi Constable and Jared Easley – A Book Review

Stop Chasing Influencers – The True Path to Building Your Business and Living Your Dream,

By: Kimanzi Constable and Jared Easley

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Proven Steps to Making Your Dream Become a Reality

Kimanzi Constable and Jared Easley take the mystery out of “building your business and building your dream by adapting the concepts presented in their book “Stop Chasing Influencers” In twenty-two short, fast moving, chapters the authors provide the reader with the reason for pursuing personal dreams, with strategies and ideas that will produce the results to make your dream become a reality.

Constable and Easley use examples from their own experiences to illustrate how these principles can and do work in areas of social media, public speaking, writing, professional and personal life coaching, mentoring, and marketing, and in business and economics.

I was reminded of the importance of focus, using time wisely, and having a right mind set as I learned valuable ideas for innovation and implementation. I received fresh insight into becoming an influencer by expanding my vision, and by exploring my personal assets to successfully develop and accomplish the opportunities available to me for successfully accomplishing my goals.

Whatever your dream, “Stop Chasing Influencers” will give you the tools, creative concepts, proven strategies, tips, ideas, technology, and techniques to enable you to fulfill your dream, to find balance, and to enjoy your family to the fullest.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Sound Wisdom, Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257, 978-0768408935, $ 14.99, 2015, 192 Pages

Creative Strength Training – Prompts, Exercises, and Personal Stories for Encouraging Artistic Genius by Jane Dunnewold – A Book Review

Creative Strength Training – Prompts, Exercises, and Personal Stories for Encouraging Artistic Genius

By: Jane Dunnewold

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Aids to Becoming the “Self-Actualized” Artist We Are Capable of Becoming

“Creative Strength Training – Prompts, Exercises, and Personal Stories for Encouraging Artistic Genius” is designed to help the reader discover strategies that combine writing with hands on art and to develop a unique voice.

The table of contents reads like of a menu, filled with so many choices of mouthwatering delicacies and aromatic scents that it is difficult to know where to start. The catchy chapter titles grabbed my attention with key words and descriptive phrases that offer rewarding results and bright colored illustrations that offer irresistible prompts, and strength training exercises that focus attention on detail and cultivate imagination. Each uniquely formatted page contains a myriad of approaches that reinforce the theme of the chapter.

The exercises from How to Distill and Edit Your Story grabbed my attention. The suggestions on mining content, writing, distilling and editing your story are well worth the time and effort of implementing.

Jane Dunnewold understands all aspects of the creative process. Jane’s book “Creative Strength Training” will resonate with artists and writers alike.  The inspiring stories of artists, mentored by Jane, tell how they have benefited by applying Dunnewold‘s exercises and prompts in unique ways in their art.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

North Light Books, Cincinnati, Ohio, 978-1440344954, $ 16.70, 2016, 144 pages



Our Journey with Alzheimer’s – Notes from my Journal – June 28, 2016

“God usually answers our prayer so much more according to the measure of His own magnificence than our asking that we do not recognize His benefits to those for which we sought Him.”              Coventry Patmore


On April 1, 2007 I made this note in my Caregiver’s Journal.

“Today I became a writer.  I had an epiphany – an “aha” moment for me.  I hurried to the car to find a pen. I scribbled a note on the back of my Target sales receipt.  I didn’t want to lose my nugget of wisdom.  Later in the day I grabbed a pen while shaving.  I didn’t want to lose another gem, a perfect descriptive phrase.”

Over nine years have passed since my remarkable epiphany. Two years later in the fall of 2009 I had another epiphany of sorts. I’ll describe it this way: in an excerpt from an assignment in a writing workshop series sponsored by the Bridgman Library, I wrote:

I have a great idea. I know what I’m working on. I just need a push in the right direction and some guidance through the inevitable pitfalls along the way.

 I naively completed a questionnaire stating my premise of writing A Caregiver’s Journey – One Man’s Commitment to Caregiving. I then prepared a time line of weekly goals I needed to achieve in order to write a rough draft of from 35,000 to 60,000 words. I had set a goal finishing the rough draft ready for my first edit.

A lot has happened in the nearly seven years since then. The manuscript was not completed as planned.

The story is still in the making.  Today is a new beginning of another chapter on an unknown story of our journey; a day at a time in a walk of faith with Thelma, an amazing lady.

“…so walk…just as you were instructed…overflowing with gratitude.”   From the writing of the Apostle Paul in a letter to the Colossians.











Questions Writers Ask – Wise, Whimsical, and Witty Answers from the Pros by Karen Speerstra – A Book Review

Questions Writers AskQuestions Writers Ask: Wise, Whimsical, and Witty Answers from the Pros
By: Karen Speerstra
Robert D. Reed Publishers, P. O. Box 1992, Bandon, OR 97411
978-1934759325, $ 16.95, 2010, 312 pages
Reviewed By Richard R. Blake

Age Old Questions Writer’s Ask – Fresh Contemporary Answers

“Questions Writers Ask” is a surprising gift, a compilation of nearly 6,000 quotations addressing questions asked by real writers. Karen Speerstra has been painstakingly scrupulous in her task of gathering and selecting the quotes for this project.

Writers from the past some contemporaries, well known greats, recognized authors, and a number of upcoming more recent writers provide bits of wisdom, wit, insight and advice participating in a worldwide forum in dialog across an imaginary common table.

Using a conversational approach, Karen presents fresh writing insights and small gems of wisdom explaining why writers write, practical ideas on play writing, poetry, comedy and satire. The quotes she uses are often funny, sometimes profound, and always enlightening or entertaining.

Among the twenty topics covered in the book, I personally appreciated the information on editors and publishers, the thoughts on handling criticism, and where writers get their ideas. I plan to implement many of the thoughts on personal writing: journals, diaries, and memoir. Getting started and facing up to writer’s blocks were also very helpful. The chapter on writing specifically for children and adolescents is packed with information and inspiration.

Karen is the perfect one to compile this book. Her thirty year career in publishing encompasses writing, acquisitions, newspaper columns, curriculum writing, and developmental editing.

“Questions Writers Ask” is destined to become a classic. I am adding it to my own permanent library to be read and re-read often for sheer enjoyment.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Book Review: Why Do We All Love Dr. Seuss? by Lois Einhorn, Ph.D.

Why Do We All Love Dr. Seuss? Discovering the Mystery and Magic of an Icon

By: Lois Einhorn, Ph.D.

Robert D. Reed Publishersm P. O. Box 1992, Bandon, Oregon 97411, 978-1934759585, $ 11.95, 2012, 144 Pages

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

A New Awareness – Seeing the Extraordinary in the Ordinary

Dr. Einhorn introduces her observations and interpretations of the writing of Dr. Seuss by sharing her insights on some unique often overlooked subtleties. The Dr. Seuss books:

  • Encourage the building positive values and vision
  • Emphasize important character traits
  • Expand a child’s awareness, curiosity, and creative imagination
  • Entertain with humor, clever illustrations, and comical visuals
  • Embolden children to think for themselves
  • And offer the reader an opportunity to, experience the joy of reading aloud with an attentive, appreciative audience of children

Dr. Einhorn draws noteworthy parallels from the stories of Dr. Seuss and classic thinkers, spiritual leaders, writers, and others. The message is timeless, the teaching universal. She includes quotes from people like: Albert Einstein, Edwin Markham, Khalil Gibran, Howard Thurman, Eric Hoffer, and Cicero to re-enforce her observations.

I personally, begin reading Dr. Seuss stories to my own children, then to my grandchildren, and now to the great grand kids. Thanks to Dr. Einhorn’s keen insights, I now better understand why it is important for me to pass along this important source of core values, exemplifying: Trust, unity, courage, integrity, gratefulness, and so many more wonderful lessons.

“Why Do We All Love Dr. Seuss?” is entertaining, informational, giving the reader a new awareness enabling them to see through the eyes of Dr. Seuss’s characters the extraordinary in the ordinary. Highly recommended.

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own. As reviewed for Midwest Book Review.

Book Review: Writers’ Report by Mark Shaw

Writers’ Report

By: Mark Shaw


Practical Advice for Every Aspiring Author and Writer


Mark Shaw’s “Writer’s Report” is filled with practical tips for every aspect of writing, especially designed for the new writer or the aspiring author.  Mark’s writing demonstrates the techniques he suggests in his narrative. He is passionate in his purpose – that of helping writers right.


Much has and is changing in the publishing industry. Good writing is a competitive commodity and always in demand. Some of the key points Shaw makes very clear and relevant today include:


  • Assessing market potential
  • Built in promotion
  • Motivation and writing credentials (platform)
  • Developing and Honing writing skills
  • Research techniques
  • Story telling technique and strategy
  • Word and grammar usage
  • The creative writing process and regimen
  • Examples of various writing styles
  • Elements of outlining
  • Writing poetry as a training ground


I found the chapter summaries, the writing tips check lists, suggestions for manuscript techniques, and suggested exercises especially important and helpful.


“Writer’s Report” includes storytelling ideas, creative tips, and over 100 ways to improve your writing skills. Highly practical – essential resource for the beginning writer.

Book Review: Writers in the Spirit by Carol J. Rottman, Ph.D.

Writers in the Spirit By: Carol J. Rottman, Ph.D.

FaithWalk Publishing, Grand Rapids, MI 49417, 1932902430, $ 11.95, 2004, 175 Pages

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

A Treasure Trove of Writing Nuggets

In the eight years since the publication of “Writers in the Spirit” was published, major changes have and are taking place in the industry. Carol Rottman, Ph.D. addresses practical and innovative writing techniques important to writers at every stage of their journey.

I especially found these features helpful, inspiring, and motivating:

  • The awe inspiring meditations
  • The informative essays
  • The comprehensive end notes and bibliography
  • The side bar writing challenges, tips, hints, and advice
  • The short two sentence prayers

This is a book for every writer who hopes to offer their reader a message from the Christian perspective.

Highly recommended.

Book Review: Characters and Viewpoint

Characters and Viewpoint

By: Orson Scott Card

Writer’s Digest Books

Tools for Creating Vibrant Memorable Characters

In “Characters and Viewpoints” Orson Scott Card provides the writer with the tools for constructing colorful credible characters. Card grabbed my attention as I scanned the table of contents. I immediately followed this by perusing the bold headings within the chapters. The book is divided into three parts.  Card begins with pointers on inventing characters, where they come from, potential audience, and choosing names. He moves on to help the reader/writer construct characters, including the protagonist, supporting, and minor characters. I particularly needed help in the area of voice, presentation, and person. Card included illustrations from well-known authors to reinforce the writing principles presented throughout the book.

“The Elements of Fiction Writing – Characters and Viewpoint” is an important tool for new writers. The book is filled with definitive techniques for creating vibrant memorable characters.

Book Review: Writing the Memoir

Writing the Memoir

By: Judith Barrington

The Eighth Mountain Press, 624 Southeast Twenty-Ninth Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97214, Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Steps to Move from Memory to Memoir

I was pleased to find the second edition of Judith Barrington’s “Writing the Memoir” in our public library. This edition was updated and published in 2002. Since then the publishing industry has been in a constant state of fluidity. However, there are certain basic elements of writing that never change.

Barrington’s suggestions for writing the memoir are invaluable. She provides the reader with guidelines for getting started, finding form, with suggestions for what to include.

Some features I found especially helpful include:

  • The highlighted guidelines for specific topics: Voice, tone, verb tenses
  • Guidelines for writing about living people
  • Tips on inner dialog
  • Suggestions for connecting with the world
  • Handling rejection letters

The “Suggestions for Writing” included at the end of each chapter offer material for stimulating exercises as well as provide excellent ideas for inclusion in your manuscript.

Judith Barrington writes with clarity. Her work is well researched and documented. I found the suggestions for critique groups, the article “memoirs and the law” and the comprehensive index to be an added bonus. The claim on the front cover of “Writing the Memoir” is understated. It simply says: “A practical guide to the craft, the personal challenges, and ethical dilemmas of writing your true stories.” I found this to be true along with lots more – highly recommended. This is a must read for anyone seriously considering writing a memoir.