Book Review: Zen: How to Live Your Life the Zen Way – Beginners Guide to Zen Meditation

This is another book about Zen  and Buddhism written by Alias Axmar. Alias began his life as a financial advisor but had a mental breakdown. He decided to volunteer in Africa to help children in small villages and eventually moved to China to learn Buddhism.

Because of his unique life experiences, I expected more from this book. This book was too short. It barely scratched the surface of Zen. Just when I thought it was going somewhere, it ended abruptly. It started out great and gave a perfect breakdown for Zen students.

It had a few good tips on overcoming impatience as a newcomer to Zen by using breath to let it go.

He describes 3 aspects ( attitude, attention, and intention) that beginners should be aware of.

Then it ends with an advertisement for another of his books.

Very disappointing for someone who has much to offer. Hopefully, his next book will redeem him as a writer with much to offer.


Book Review: How to Practice Buddhism in Your Everyday Life

This is one of the best books on Buddhism that I’ve read and I’ve read quite a few.

I don’t agree with the author’s (Elias Axmar) every interpretation of Buddhism. On one hand, he says our suffering in this life is due to our bad deeds in our past life. But the Buddha said life will always involve suffering. So unless I was Hitler or Ghangas Kahn in a past life, my present life’s suffering is just about this life to me, the one I live now.

He explains that Buddha’s first teaching is to accept nothing on blind faith but to investigate its legitimacy. There is much in Buddhism I don’t believe but I do find the main philosophies to be something worth emulating.

The author discusses Kamma (Buddhism’s version of the Golden Rule), the four knoble truths and the eightfold path.

If you are looking or a book to explain Buddhism in a simple way so you can learn more about it or how to practice it, this is it.


Book Review: Self Discipline: Self Discipline Guide to Improve Self Confidence, Gain Will Power and Achieve Your Dreams

This book is poorly edited fluff. This writer did not bother to proofread his own work or hire a proofreader. Lesson one authors: hire a proofreader. It is both aggravating and irritating to try and read a book only to have to pause and realize that the author didn’t bother to proof his own work. It takes away from both the message and the author’s credibility.

This entire book reminded me of a very long Yahoo article of fluff and was basically Amazon unlimited click bate. Although the author had a few nuggets of good information in there, all of those nuggets of good information could be found in multiple other sources by writers that actually know how to write a book.

This is more of a pamphlet than a book. If you’re looking for something that is not challenging to read, has no complex vocabulary, doesn’t cite studies the author alludes to, and will put you to sleep, then this is the book for you.

A Writer’s Gotta Eat


Photo by roblesse on


When I was working a collections job about 10 years ago, I remember not quite stretching my paycheck as far as I would have liked and eating spaghetti for lunch and dinner for up to a week at a time.  This was before I started writing.

And trust me when I say, I don’t miss my spaghetti days.  So I generally do office work around my writing. Today I was turned down for a great job working with disabled and injured dogs in a therapeutic setting. I would have loved it. I’m a huge dog lover.

Unfortunately they wanted someone who was a vet tech or physical therapy student but they interviewed me because I had a good resume and I was tenacious about getting an interview.

Even though it is disheartening that I didn’t get the job, I also realize it’s a good thing. I would have had to regularly lift 50 plus pound dogs and I had recent back surgery.

But it got me thinking about the kinds of jobs I want to apply for. Sure a writer has to eat but not at the cost of working in another horrid job again.

I decided to start applying for writing and editing jobs in addition to learning more about pitching to journals and magazines.  Most of my writing has been blogging and content writing and I found myself lacking confidence to branch out.

I survived back surgery. I can walk long distances again. I can go to festivals and walk for hours with little pain. This return to health has given me the confidence to branch out and take on the laborious work of pitching and applying for writing and editing work.

This writer’s gotta eat but she’ll be damned if she does it by calling people and harassing them for cash again.

Shared blog from the Renegade Press: Introspection & Loss — The Renegade Press

I recently celebrated my fourth anniversary of blogging here at The Renegade Press. As with the three anniversaries prior to this one, the moment was a bitter-sweet affair of pride and introspection. Blogging has become a passion, and a source of endless pleasure that I approach with great reverence as I attempt to pour my […]

via Introspection & Loss — The Renegade Press

I’m sharing this because it is well written and is an important topic in the creative community. Many writers, including myself, suffer from mental illness. Studies have been done to find some link between creative minds and depression. Many are inconclusive, saying there is a correlation but are unsure of a causation.

Many writers like Renegade find solace in writing. Do whatever you have to do to get better. Get a therapist and psychiatrist. Seek out alternative treatments such as meditation, using adult coloring books, and walk in the sun to change your mood. One study said brisk walking 3 times a week is as effective as an antidepressant. Get help. Don’t give up.

Book Review: Extinction Series by Nicholas Sansbury Smith


Photo by Nicholas Sansburg Smith. Published with author’s permission.


If you love to read or write sci-fi, you should read this series.

Though I rarely do this, I think I’ll start doing it more often. I emailed Nicholas Sansbury Smith, the writer of the “Extinction” series. He wrote back very quickly and is a friendly guy. We chatted about overcoming writers block and carving out writing time that should be uninterrupted. There you have it. Advice from a best-selling novelist.  You can also follow Nicolas on Facebook.

About Extinction:

A group of scientists attempt to create a biological weapon with the power to strategically take out the enemy. The goal of the program is to save American soldiers from having to go intro the field.

The weapon is hidden on an island off the California coast. Contact has been lost with the facility that houses the weapon.. Now a team of special soldiers has been called in to find out what happened at the facility and if the weapon can be saved.

The book series slowly reveals the mystery and deadly mix that makes the weapon – VX99- so lethal to the human race.

When the superweapon gets out, it not only demolishes humanity but the scientists and solders that are needed to save the people who are left standing.

There are 5 books in the series.  I read up to 4 since book 5 is in th preorder stage.  The series could have easily ended there but Smith decided to add another. The last book, called “Extinction: Aftermath,”takes place in Europe, where the battle still rages.

I have Kindle Unlimited so I read the first four on my $9.99 per month plan.  You can also buy them individually or as a set.

“Extinction: Horizon” is the first book in the series and has over 1800 reviews on Amazon. Each book is available through Kindle, as a paperback or through Audible.

Reading books in your genre of choice that are well written, emotional, and scary as hell is a prerequisite for being a sci-fi writer.