Shelley L. Hallmark began her blog after she published her first book back in 2011. Once Upon a Blog is a collection of those blog posts that share her struggles and how she remains positive. Hallmark is a single mother of a special needs child and writes short, positive, and honest accounts of her life. All of her posts share how she maneuvers life and the lessons she embraces along the way. Reading the blog posts provides a sense of connection, for the struggles you relate to and those you can’t, Hallmark is still giving her personal motives, hardships, and balance in a way that encourages the reader.
The book is well organized, laying out the blog posts with their dates and titles. Each post is easy to read but heartfelt. I found the book to be a beautiful read, the honesty of the author made this feel stronger, inviting readers to connect on a deeper level. To open up your life in this way is a brave and I appreciate the feeling of being let into someone’s world; like listening to a friend talk about their life. I truly loved the positivity that this book exudes even while discussing real life struggles that pull at the heartstrings. Hallmark writes in a way that makes the reader feel like she is writing to them, aned for them, which strengthens the connection between writer and reader. This book is a well written memoir of one woman’s life. It’s a memoir delivered over six years through blog posts, and compiled in this novel for easy consumption. I always appreciated the advice delivered as it was gentle, but still resonated with truth. I greatly enjoyed reading this book and feel like I have benefited from it. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a true story that is full of love, life, and wisdom.
Pages: 342 | ASIN: B07C2JZRK6
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Love After Life follows Kathleen and James as their souls try to find each other after death. What was the inspiration for the setup to this emotional novel?
In 2015, Ryan Hammons, a young boy, his mother, Cindi, and Dr. Jim Tucker were interviewed on The TODAY Show about a situation that many Americans would summarily dismiss… Ryan claimed to have had a past life in 1930s Hollywood.
As an agnostic on the idea of reincarnation when I watched the interview, Ryan’s story intrigued me. The facts that Dr. Tucker confirmed during his study of Ryan’s claims led to only one conclusion – Ryan’s claims simply could not be dismissed. My intrigue caused me to purchase Dr. Tucker’s book, Return to Life, to learn more about Ryan, and other children. I also purchased Tom Shroder’s book, Old Souls, to learn more about these children.
A story started bouncing around in my head. I thought, what if there were two young lovers and they died much too soon. Could they find each other in their next lives and, even if they could, who would ever believe them, especially in a nation that does not embrace the concept of reincarnation?
Kathleen and James share a deep bond that I found to be rare and profound. What were the ideals you wanted to capture in their relationship?
For me, the deep, deep love felt by Kathleen and James made it easier to believe that the crash that ended their lives would be somehow remembered in the next life. One of the common claims found in cases where children claim a past life is that in the past life the person died a violent or unnatural death. While a car accident certainly would qualify as one of those, the deep bond shared by a pair of young lovers who should have had many years together would deepen the pain of a lost soul.
Within their story, you see a deep attraction, loyalty, mutual respect and so many more characteristics present within their loving relationship. While it is a cliche, love conquers all. That is the story of James and Kathleen.
When you first started writing did you know this was going to be a story about reincarnation or did that happen organically?
I knew this was going to be a story about reincarnation. As I discuss above, the stories of children claiming a past life was the inspiration for this novel. It definitely started as a story about reincarnation.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
The next book is Justice After Life. It is not a continuation of the love and lives of James and Kathleen. It’s a new story and I intend to release it in 2019. Doctor Simms, the psychiatrist in Love After Life, is the only character who is also a character in this second novel.
Can it be true that soulmates can share a love so deep that it can transcend more than one lifetime? That is what James tell his loving wife Kathleen before they suddenly die in a tragic car accident that snuffs out their lives and perhaps their love. Will they be able to find each other in the next life to rekindle the love they share, and who will believe them if they do?
Joseph, only six years old, is haunted in his dreams by a woman and scenes he doesn’t initially recognize. Sweating heavily while twisting and turning in his bed, he sees flashes of the mountains, the beach and a beautiful young woman. He awakens suddenly, hearing himself scream, “Kathleen(!).” He is drenched and dazed, not realizing that his dream is a replay of the final scene of his past life as James with his wife, Kathleen. A few years later as his dreams continue, he recalls more clearly Kathleen’s soulful singing, bubbly personality and sweet smile as well as his deep love for both photography and her.
As a teenager, Joseph loves to watch singing competitions on TV shows, especially when teenage girls are singing. One day he sees and hears Kimberly singing on one of these shows and his heart skips a beat. He does not know why, but her singing consumes him. Kimberly grew up a sad little girl. She knows that something is missing in her life, but for the life of her, she cannot identify what it is. Only singing lifts her spirits, even if just for a little while. Joseph is drawn to her immediately. He has to meet her.
What happens when Joseph meets Kimberly? You can find out by reading Richard Sieg’s novel, Love After Life.
Posted in Interviews
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Agile Scrum: Your Quick Start Guide with Step-by-Step Instructions tackles project management in an approachable way that I found to be highly enlightening. How has your experience in project management helped you write this book?
I am thankful for all of the disruptors, innovators, and visionaries who contributed to the colorful heritage of agile and Scrum. In particular, I thank Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka. Scrum was modeled after their groundbreaking paper, “The New New Product Development Game,” published in the Harvard Business Review in 1986. My book was informed by their article and 115 additional sources—listed in the bibliography—along with my first-hand experience launching Scrum in organizations.
I’m the Founder and CEO of Exceptional PPM and PMO Solutions, an Inc. Verified Business, which helps our clients achieve their business needs through world-class project leadership. I had the privilege to work with a client in a division of a global entertainment business on their successful journey for improved responsiveness to changing business needs, faster delivery speed, higher satisfaction, and continuous improvement—which made them even more competitive and fueled their growth. That fantastic agile transformation experience and result was the inspiration for my book. I thank that client.
I also helped diverse organizations achieve their business needs through project management related services prior to Exceptional PPM and PMO Solutions. I’m a former vice president of a provider of diverse consumer products and services over the Internet including social networking and internet access. Before that, I worked in organizations with businesses ranging from advanced technology products and services to business services, retail, e-commerce, manufacturing, and entertainment. I have experience with consumer, business, reseller, government, and international customer markets, as well as international experience spanning 20 countries.
In addition to hands-on experience, a deep understanding of project management (project, program, portfolio, and PMO management—inclusive of agile, traditional, and hybrid frameworks), engagements with professional associations, involvement with global standards, knowledge of leading practices, and professional credentials also shaped what and how information was presented in the book. Some examples follow. I have a bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a focus in Human Factors. I hold six certifications: Certified Scrum Professional (CSP), Certified ScrumMaster (CSM), Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO), Project Management Professional (PMP), IT Service Management Foundation (ITIL), and Lean Six Sigma Green Belt (LSSGB). And I’m proud to be a member of the Scrum Alliance, Project Management Institute (PMI), Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), IEEE Computer Society, IEEE Consumer Electronics Society, IEEE Broadcast Technology Society, IEEE Internet of Things Community, and the IEEE Consultants Network.
I owe a tremendous debt to the technical editors: Chris Hare and Colin Giffen. Each offered insights that greatly improved Agile Scrum: Your Quick Start Guide with Step-by-Step Instructions. I thank them for helping to make this book more clear, consistent, and valuable.
Agile Scrum is often used in technology projects, but do you think Agile Scrum can have a wider application?
Shifting customer needs are common in today’s marketplace. Businesses must be adaptive and responsive to change while delivering an exceptional customer experience to be competitive. Traditional development and delivery frameworks are often ineffective. In contrast, Scrum is a value-driven agile approach which incorporates adjustments based on regular and repeated customer and stakeholder feedback. And Scrum’s built-in rapid response to change leads to substantial benefits such as fast time-to-market, higher satisfaction, and continuous improvement—which supports innovation and drives competitive advantage.
Agile and Scrum were once the sole domain of software development. However, the benefits and results have not gone unnoticed by others. Practices are being adopted by additional departments and industries. The State of Scrum Report: 2017 Edition revealed that 21% of Scrum projects are run by departments outside of Technology such as Marketing, Finance, and Sales. And a New York Timesarticle in 2016—”The New Workplace is Agile, and Nonstop. Can You Keep Up?”—noted agile’s use in diverse industries. Examples ranged from a museum in Sydney, Australia, to an automobile dealership in Maine. Agile/Scrum is being used broadly.
What is one common misconception you find people have about the Agile Scrum methodology?
There are different frameworks supporting the development and delivery of products and services, and most methodologies fall into one of two broad categories: traditional or agile. Traditional practices (sometimes called waterfall) engage sequential development, while agile involves iterative and incremental deliverables. Organizations are increasingly embracing Scrum—the most popular agile framework—to manage projects, and best meet their business needs of rapid response to change, fast delivery speed, and more.
There’s a widely-held view that agile is new. But agile was used decades before it became well-known. A few examples follow. Software was developed in half-day iterations in 1958 for Project Mercury, the United States’ first human spaceflight program. Harlan Mills of IBM promoted in 1968 that “software development should be done incrementally, in stages with continuous user participation and replanning.” In 1980, Tom Gilb introduced the Evolutionary Delivery Model, an incremental alternative to traditional development.
While agile (which includes Scrum) is not new, many innovators and visionaries have advanced principles and practices over time. For those who would like to learn more, there’s a one-minute video—”Agile Has a Long and Colorful Heritage”—at https://vimeo.com/259429846.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have two works in the pipeline. Currently, however, there is no detail on content or publication dates for future books.
Shifting customer needs are common in today’s marketplace. Businesses must be adaptive and responsive to change while delivering an exceptional customer experience to be competitive.
There are a variety of frameworks supporting the development of products and services, and most methodologies fall into one of two broad categories: traditional or agile. Traditional practices such as waterfall engage sequential development, while agile involves iterative and incremental deliverables. Organizations are increasingly embracing agile to manage projects, and best meet their business needs of rapid response to change, fast delivery speed, and more.
Agile Scrum is for those interested or involved in innovation, project management, product development, software development or technology management. It’s for those who have not yet used Scrum. It’s also for people already using Scrum, in roles such as Product Owners, Scrum Masters, Development Team members (business analysts, solution and system architects, designers, developers, testers, etc.), customers, end users, agile coaches, executives, managers, and other stakeholders. For those already using Scrum, this guide can serve as a reference on practices for consideration and potential adaptation.
Posted in Interviews
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Karly is a medium hired to get rid of a ghost haunting an Inn but is caught between her job, the sexy innkeeper, and her painful past. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting novel?
The hero, Thayne Harper, heir to one of the largest hotel chains in the country comes from a world of wealth and privilege. His inn is a reflection of his upbringing. Karly, on the other hand, has had to work and struggle her whole life. When she has no choice but to move into the inn to banish the ghost, she becomes a fish out of water, which leaves her feeling vulnerable and brings up past insecurities and doubts. I think everyone can relate to being in such an uncomfortable position on some level. From there, I try to add in as much conflict as possible by using the ‘what if’ factor. What if someone that didn’t believe in ghosts found himself living in a haunted inn? What if there was this intense chemistry pulsing between him and the medium he was forced to hire to banish said ghost? The more ‘what if’s’ I add to the mix, the more dimensions it lends to the characters. The goal is torture them through this journey before they reach that HEA. Hopefully, it’s what makes readers turn the pages long into the night.
The relationship between Karly and Thayne is visceral and sultry. How did you develop their relationship and what themes did you want to capture?
I do a lot or prewriting beforehand but the relationship really took shape as I wrote the story. The physical attraction between the two polar opposites was undeniable and so fun to write! Granted, it was not love at first sight, but it was incredible lust at first sight, which I do believe in, the kind of chemistry with another person that literally knocks you on your ass. In terms of a theme, I wanted to really drive home the concept of letting go of the past before you can move forward. Both characters are holding onto past wounds that prevent them from ever fully committing to another person. Only when both have worked through their issues are they able to finally come together and open themselves up to love.
This is a fantastic romance novel, but I also enjoyed the paranormal-horror aspect that really increased the tension. Where did the idea for the ghost come from and how did it change as you wrote?
The idea for the ghost is actually based on two separate ghost stories combined into one. A friend once told me about a custom home that was built by his step father as a present to his mother. He had pieces flown in from a very old estate in England. Apparently, some of those pieces came with a ghost that floated through the walls of the house and left cold spots in his room. The Logan inn in New Hope, which is featured in the first chapter of HAUNTED has been known to have a resident ghost that resides in room number six I incorporated certain nuisances and interesting details about that ghost into the story. The ghost changed as I wrote mainly due to the fact that I had to create a believable backstory for her, so the reader understands what caused her to become this way. Yes, she’s a villain, but she was also a victim in her time as well. I actually wrote a short story from the ghost’s point of view to make sure her motivations were warranted. When you truly understand what she’s been through you can then empathize with her story. I had to add layers to make her a three dimensional character. I’ve been asked by many readers to know more about her and where she came from. Who knows, maybe I’ll create a novella for the ghost of Emily and you will really get to see her story.
What is the next story that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m working on a three book series at the moment. It’s a contemporary revolving around three best friends, all who are navigating high-powered careers and love in the Big Apple. I cannot say at this point, but you will be the first to know! Thank you Literary Titan so much for having me!
When medium Karly Matthews agrees to move into a haunted inn, she’s not sure what’s more dangerous, the ghost or the sexy innkeeper she tries to resist. She can’t deny the intense rush of desire she feels every time he’s near. When she agrees to embark on a no-strings-attached relationship, she finds herself thrust into a world of mind-blowing pleasures. Now she must face the aching truths of her past.
Hotel heir Thayne Harper has a laser-like focus on success that doesn’t include the help of his family. He’s always been the black sheep, living in the shadow of his dead brother. His dreams are put to the test when a supernatural entity threatens to ruin everything. The one bright spot is the woman who intrigues his mind and heats his blood. If only he can convince her that, despite his bad-boy ways, he can change for the good. Her love becomes his only salvation. Passion burns white-hot as a dark threat looms. The ghost doesn’t want them to be together and sets her sights on Thayne, luring him to a place that goes beyond death. Will Karly be able to save him before it’s too late?
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Future World Rocks! is an eclectic science fiction novel involving Nazi research of UFO’s, time travel, and secret underground beings. What was the inspiration for this fantastical detective fantasy?
Actual reports on Die Glocke or the ‘bell’ as are found in UFO and 2nd World War archives. Similar research revealed the Janos race of aliens, and Richard E. Byrd’s USA expeditions to the South Pole. Plus, Google maps of a metal cover to an entrance at one of the magnetic poles, led to reports showing the possible existence of a hollow earth.
Time travel comes with a host of problems, how do you handle time travel in your novel to keep it as believable as possible?
What host of problems? Professor Hawkins claims you can only travel forward in time, not backwards, or you could end up killing a direct ancestor and therefore no longer existing. I think that is bunkum! If you cease to exist when you already do, I would say that reversal of existence is totally impracticable and unfounded. If you go forward in time, the assumption is that no one yet exists, which negates the findings of those who predict an apocalypse, like the sinking of the Titanic. If you find no future, how can you move into it? If there is a future, what happens if someone else kills the time traveler from the past? Confused? Don’t be. The science behind time travel is explained by research into alien technology and I’m happy that what I’ve read is valid, if you find out where to look. Sorry, but I’m not providing the shortcuts!
The story occurs against a backdrop of Rock n’ Roll music, because of course “future World rocks to its core!” What motivated you to include this element in your story and was it difficult to accomplish?
Yes, very time consuming. But the clues are given in the song titles and extracts, which invariably can be found quickly by googling them, as provided. The reason I did it was the misused expression, ‘Space Opera’. How can you call something a ‘Space Opera’ that has no music in it?
What is the next story that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have a title and storyline already established, which will focus on the plight of existing characters. Ready in about seven months, once my esophagus starts functioning correctly.
The first focuses on the aftermath of Nazi research into UFO based systems. Primarily it concerns a flying time travel craft called the ‘Bell’ and its disappearance after those early days when the U.S.A. took over its research.
The second occurs in the future, when alien refugees seek asylum with us on our planet. They come from a planet destroyed by one of its own moons and have wandered the stars, looking for a place to stay.
Soon they are introducing us to other beings, secretly living under the surface of the planet and mining the moon. Naturally, whodunit problems arise for our crime detection agents to resolve.
All this occurs to a backdrop of Rock n’ Roll music, as Future World rocks to its core!
Posted in Interviews
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The Literary Titan has been recognized by Feedspot as one of the top 100 book review blogs for book readers and authors. Visit their website to see “the Best Book Review blogs from thousands of top Book Review blogs in their index using search and social metrics.” Thank you for this great honor.
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The Rashade tells the tale of Mara, a strong willed woman whose life mission revolves around avenging the death of her father. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?
My dad died due to medical mal-practice when I was 16. I was depressed and unwilling to talk about it. So I began to write. The initial thought was simple what if my character could get revenge. Then I began asking questions. Who was she? Who killed her father? Why? The more questions I asked and answered the more the story developed.
Not everybody in the story is who they seem and I enjoyed the progression of each character. What was your favorite character to write for?
My favorite character to write in this set of books is Mara. I created Mara to do everything couldn’t, she’s my extreme alter ego. I loved putting her in impossible situations and getting her back out again. Then there is her complicated personality. I think any time the character is a complex combination it is always more interesting and more fun to write.
The Rashade is a set in medieval fantasy type world that is very detailed. What were some sources that served as inspiration for the world you created?
Some of my favorite movies growing up were The Conan movies and Red Sonja. It wasn’t a surprise that when Xena came out I watched the series every week for years. Then in high school a friend introduced me to Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series. A short while later I found Dave Duncan’s Seventh Sword series in a used book store. The Rashade‘ seems to be a conglomeration of all those things.
The Rashade is the first book in the Chronicles of the Coranydas series and delivers an adventure filled with magical characters and valiant warriors. Where will book two in the series take the story?
There will be a few new characters and you’ll meet other magical races. Mara has a few roadblocks left in her path, one them being her mother. But I couldn’t let Laran get away with murder. There is going to be a war of blades and magic. Only the strongest will survive.
After her father was murdered before her eyes, Mara Coranyda traded a life of privilege, for one devoted to vengeance. Shortly into her quest to find the mage that murdered him, Mara discovered it wouldn’t be an easy task to accomplish. Not only would she have to find the magical artifacts to destroy him, but she would also have to raise an army to stop his conquest of her homelands.
Posted in Interviews
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