Author Spotlight – Phebe Phillips


Author Spotlight

Welcome back to another episode of Author Spotlight, starring Texas Indie-Author, Poet, Illustrator, Blogger, Podcaster, Certified Raw Vegan Cuisine Chef, Felt Maker, and Cat Lover, Phebe Phillips.


Phebe lives in the top of a high rise in Dallas, Texas with her husband, and their tabby striped cat named Harold-of-God—you may see him on Instagram at #HaroldofGod. Her husband, Mac Hargrove, grew up on cattle ranches in South Texas. Today, he is a CFP and works in finance with the investment bank, Alex. Brown. They have both eaten a plant-based diet for almost seven years, and have a daily 20-minute meditation practice.

She graduated from Southern Methodist University with a BFA in Film & Journalism, and began a toy company under the brand name, Phebe Phillips when she was in college. In 2010, a government regulation changed her toy business. She also changed by picking herself up and going back to school for science, which lead to culinary.

She is certified as a Raw Vegan Chef from the Matthew Kenney Academy. Phebe has worked in one of the most famous raw vegan kitchens in the world, The Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center in Patagonia, Arizona under the direction of Dr. Gabriel Cousen’s. While there, she served in the kitchen and in the Sprout House becoming a master at growing micro-greens and sprouts. Through eCornell and the work of Dr. T. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study, she learned about plant-based nutrition. She attends seminars and studies closely with both Dr(s). Campbell and Caldwell Esselstyn, the Cleveland Clinic Cardiologist and author of Reversing Heart Disease and the Engine 2 Diet.

When she returned to school for Science, she fell in love with Biology, MicroBiology, Chemistry and Genetics. After learning how special the human body is, and precious that we are alive, endowed with gifts and inspiration to offer the world, she realized the best way for her to inspire was to apply her newfound science knowledge to food for creating the best fuel for becoming the best-self she could be!

She found that what she put in, and on, her body greatly affected the quality of her life, and her daily meditation practice. The result of all this was the brand new life path mentioned in the above paragraphs. Almost daily, she gets asked questions. She hopes to speak to those questions through her blog. Her favorite saying is, “Simplicity of Life Allows Freedom”..

Her first book, Why Me? Positive Verse for Loss and Sadness brings her characters to life using poetic verse and art illustrations.

Why Me? Positive Verse for Loss and Sadness eloquently guides both young and old readers through life’s sometimes catastrophic events. Using poetic free verse, Phebe Phillips leads her readers into awareness that each of us is special and that indeed, each of us is loved. Why Me? is designed to bring words of comfort to those affected by life-changing events such as a death, the heartbreaking loss of a pet, a change in family structure, or one of life’s many challenges and disappointments. Beautifully illustrated in chalk pastels, Phebe frees each reader to use their own imagination as she weaves her story to include diverse portrayals of ethnicity and gender while using animals in human form. Many illustrations hold a deeper meaning than what may be seen upon first glance, such as in the illustration for “Sometimes things leave…” which represents the ladder to the sky as a DNA double helix marked with hydrogen bonds.

This story was originally created at the suggestion of the Dallas Chapter of the American Red Cross to address positively the hard subjects of loss and sadness. Since its beginning, 4000 copies have been placed in the ARC’s Emergency Response Vehicles for distribution to those in need of comforting words.

Here’s the Amazon Link

Phebe also writes a lot of serious poetry. One poem, Pilot’s Story, was published November 2017 by the U.K. Publisher Lost Tower Publications. Beyond the Hill is their thirteenth book. It’s topic is Stunning War Poetry by Select International Poets.

She has more details on her personal website: Connect with Phebe on Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest, or email her at

Author Spotlight – Mark Rounds


Author Spotlight

Hello, and welcome back to Author Spotlight. Today I’d like to introduce you to Mark Rounds.

markThe first book Mark read, other than See Spot Run, was Rocketship Galileo in the second grade. He was restricted from the library in the third grade because it was such a wondrous place, that he forgot to do his “real” homework. Things haven’t changed much since then.

Mark has been an Air Force officer fuzzing radars in B-52’s, a bouncer in some of Spokane’s least classy bars, a consultant in information technology, geek in a cube in a couple .com’s, folk singer, and currently faculty at the University of Idaho in MIS. He has published papers and conference proceedings on Computer Security, Hacking Motivations, Geographical Information Systems, and Grizzly Bear Habitat. Academically, Mark has a BS in Computer Science from Montana State University in 1978, MBA from University of North Dakota in 1985, MS in Computer Science from Washington State University in 2000, and a PhD at the University of Idaho in 2014 focusing in Cyber Security. Mark has promised his wife that he will enter into a 12 step program to kick his education habit.

When he was younger and more foolish, he competed as an IPF powerlifter and has a first ascent in Glacier Park on Red Rock Point. Mark’s current hobbies include Civil War Reenacting, Reading, Folk Guitar, competing in Practical Pistol meets, and cooking gourmet food for his wife of 40 years and 3 kids. Mark is also known as a gamer and has recently published his fourth novel, Commonality Games.

The Plague Years series

Hell is Empty

hellHell is Empty and All the Devils Are Here is the story of Chad Strickland, his family and friends as they try to survive the onslaught of a virulent plague. The setting is in the near future in Central Washington. Chad and Mary Strickland, along with their neighbors, Dave Tippet and Heather Tunney band together to protect their children and their way of life. Along the way, Chris Vaughn and Amber Hoskins join their group as they are hounded out of their homes and forced to go on the road to escape a gang of infected bikers led by Special Agent Macklin, who is in turn part of a bigger plot to overthrow the US Government and take control.

At This Hour

At This Hour, Lie at My Mercy All Mine Enemies is the sequel to Hell is Empty and All theat this hour Devils Are Here. This is the second chapter in the story of Chad Strickland, his family and friends as they try to survive the onslaught of a virulent plague. The setting is in the near future in Central Washington. Chad, his family, and his friends old and new, were in a gravel pit at the top of the Vantage grade in central Washington. Chad’s hot rod Camaro had been shot up pretty bad by the plague infected people holding the bridge as had his friend, Chris Vaughn. But his friends and family and the Bikers Against Child Abuse chapter out of Wenatchee, Washington had banded together to cross the bridge; the BACA members to rescue one of their kids and Chad’ family to find a new home after being hounded out of their homes in the Tri-Cities. Their world had collapsed when they took in Chris Vaughn and Amber Hoskins. Amber was a remission case from the Plague that was bringing civilization to its collective knees, and Chris was her fiancée. Now this unlikely band of allies was facing a new day.


This Thing of Darkness

darknessIn this third installment of the Plague Years series, the Strickland family and their developing clan has settled in the rolling Palouse Hills in Moscow, ID. Most of America is in chaos; either under the control of petty crooks and jumped up warlords or badlands populated by those unlucky enough to have caught the Plague.

Major David Tippet and his friend Captain Chad Strickland have been tasked to gather intelligence and to begin to reassemble the isolated pockets of uninfected people in eastern Washington. They have been assisted by the local National Guard unit, ROTC detachments at the Universities in the area and by regular people who are stepping up to do their part.

Meanwhile in the aftermath of the attack on Fairchild AFB near Spokane, General Antonopoulos and a ragtag assortment of firemen, aircrew, and others are trying to escape former Special Agent Macklin as he leads his band of mercenaries and Infected in an attempt to capture the general and further disrupt the already unraveling fabric of civilization at the behest of his powerful sponsor, Nergüi.

The fate of civilization in the Northwest and indeed the world may rest on whether these disparate forces can reorganize and again march towards a peaceful and prosperous future.

Get your copy of Hell is Empty,  At This Hour , and This Thing of Darkness


Commonality Games

 commonAliens have taken over the Earth and installed their own government and rebuilt the economy of the planet. Poverty is mostly eradicated and the masses of Earth’s population are growing. The new diversion is the Games. Gladiators done the clothing and equipment of many historical eras and brawl to entertain the masses. Taol Ubner and his friends are drawn into the Games and must be victorious or die in the attempt.

Commonality Games is available on Amazon.

Connect with Mark on Facebook

Author Spotlight – Mary A Russell


Author Spotlight

maryToday’s author spotlight shines on Mary A Russell.

Mary spent five years researching and writing Secret Keepers and Skinny Shadows. Her unique research methods allowed her to uncover information that might have ordinarily escaped scrutiny. Russell believes her novel reveals corruption that often goes unnoticed in small towns in the United States that are secluded from the outside world. The story is driven by the information presented in Lillian’s letters.


Let’s take a peek at Secret Keepers and Skinny Shadows

keepersWhen Bert Grayson is murdered, it sets off a chain of events to apprehend a relentless killer who would not be stopped.

Don’t trust anyone, Lee and Miranda were warned! But they risked their own lives in this heart stopping race against time.

Lillian Grace, a woman with her own secrets, had loved Bert. Her rambling letters, written after his murder, are the only link 50 years later to what really happened in that alley the night Bert was found with his throat slit.


2016 Kindle Book Awards Semi-Finalist: Crime Romance Murder Mystery Series

Purchase your copy of Secret Keepers and Skinny Shadows on Amazon 


Connect with Mary on Facebook or Twitter @marysloft5


Setting the Stage

snoopySetting is such a crucial piece of a story. In order to have a great story, a writer must not only have dynamic characters, but a setting to put these characters in. All stories have some sort of setting, whether it is in an imaginary land full of mythical creatures or takes place during the 1800s. Setting helps paint a picture for the reader and initiates the main backdrop and mood for a story.

Setting is broadly defined as the location of the plot or where an event takes place. Setting is both the time and geographic location within a narrative or work of fiction. This includes region, geography, climate, buildings, and interiors.

Selecting an appropriate setting for your story must go beyond just you liking it. The behavior of fictional characters often depends on their environment. Setting sets the stage for what happens to your characters. Why does the character need to be there? What part does it play in your character’s journey or their past? Characters need to interact with the setting.

When building your setting, don’t do it all at once. World building should happen over the course of your entire novel, layered into every scene. The goal is to create a well-designed background for your characters without overwhelming the scene or interrupting the story. Carefully balance introducing readers to your world while maintaining plot. Let the setting unfold as the characters move through the scene. Build in elements of weather, lighting, the season, and time. A good rule of thumb is not to spend more than 3-4 paragraphs on setting at a time. Start with the bigger picture then zoom in on the details. Don’t try to include every tiny detail in your description. Focus on things your characters would notice, keeping in mind that different characters will see and interact with the scenery in different ways.

Help the reader picture themselves in the story. Include different senses when describing the setting. In real life, we explore and experience our surroundings through our senses. Through our experiences, we respond with an emotional reaction. Your characters need to do the same.

Utilize the internet and do research. Look up maps, tourist information, and photos of specific places you’d like to include in your setting. Gather information and use some of it when writing your description. If you are able, visit these places in person. It can add depth and flair to your writing.

For more information on setting, see the links below.

Writer’s Edit

Writer’s Digest

The Importance of Story Setting

Common Setting Mistakes

Writing World

Location, Location, Location

Author Spotlight – Harry Hoover


Author Spotlight

harryhooverWelcome back to this week’s episode of Author Spotlight, featuring Harry Hoover. Harry is a self-improvement author, freelance writer/copywriter, blogger and content developer. He writes on self-improvement topics, business and marketing, social media, and tourism.

The 1976 graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill studied broadcast journalism and political science. After graduation, he spent six years as a radio and newspaper journalist, covering cops and courts, hosting a daily call-in talk show, serving as a columnist and managing editor, as well as performing color commentator duties for UNCC basketball.

He was a government public information officer, then worked at a PR firm and an advertising agency, prior to starting his own agency in 2001. Harry started marketing agency, My Creative Team, in 2007. He has stepped down from daily duties with the agency and has returned full-time to his first love: writing.

Harry publishes You, Improved, a blog designed to help readers improve their bodies, minds, spirits, and lives. Harry and his wife, Terry, a mystery author, live near Lake Norman where they are often visited by their son, daughter and grandsons.

Get Glad: Your Practical Guide To A Happier Life 

GET GLAD 500x750 border

Quotes from Get Glad

Gratitude is the shortest path to happiness.

Happiness comes when you are grateful for what you have and not grasping for what you don’t.

The first battle when you are unhappy is deciding that being miserable is not for you.

It’s natural to be unhappy sometimes. No amount of positive thinking is going to change that. But the truth is that you can avoid many things that cause unhappiness and be happier.

Get Glad is available on Amazon


Born Creative: Free Your Mind, Free Yourself

BornCreativeQuotes from Born Creative

Everyone is born creative – it’s part of your human birthright.

You may not be artistically inclined like Picasso or da Vinci, but you can think creatively.

The more you believe you are creative, the more creative you become.

The notion that geniuses such as Shakespeare, Picasso, and Mozart were any more `gifted’ than you is a myth.

Get your copy on Amazon (Kindle version is always free)


His first book, done at the request of a publisher, is Moving to Charlotte: The Un-Tourist Guide


Get it here!


Follow Harry on:

Twitter @harrywhoover

Instagram @harryhoover

Facebook You, Improved page

Facebook Moving to Charlotte page