Sunday, March 20, 2016

Of All The Gin Joints... 414! Pizza & Pub

I love it. I practically live it. Hell, I have my own hashtag for it. #RokeQueen (Although I am known by my nickname "B.B." at most karaoke places.)

For someone like me with progressive hearing loss (hence the #DeafGirl), karaoke is the ONLY way I'm able to indulge my love of singing with my love of theatrics and not get booed. I am, for three and a half minutes at a time, a revered and applauded rock star. It doesn't matter if I was in tune; it doesn't matter how well I sang. What matters is that I picked a fun, energetic or beautifully moving song, was damned entertaining, and was courageous enough to get up in front of strangers and sing. And what also matters is when it comes time for other people to sing, I cheer and dance and interact during their time to shine. 

That is what karaoke is: a chance to interact, be a little over dramatic (but in a good way), and not focus on whether or not someone has talent or skill. (Although we all enjoy when one of those remarkable singers just blows our socks off too.)

Given my - ah, let's say - limitations of voice, it's probably of little surprise that I am at karaoke often. Here in the Phoenix metro area, there are dozens of gin joints to choose from, and I've been to most, if not all, of them. It's about time I take my passion for writing and combine it with my passion for karaoke. 

I introduce to you: Of All The Gin Joints...Karaoke Review!

414! Pizza & Pub

414 S. Mill Ave.
Tempe, Ariz.
(480) 757-7536

One can't ask for a friendlier, cooler atmosphere than 414! Pizza and Pub. 

Delicious pizza, wings, and the traditional bar foods (think loaded fries, cheese steaks, and more), the prices on 414!'s food and drinks are incredibly reasonable, the taste is always superb, and the portions are generous - to say the least. Drink specials (with a good selection), holiday specials, and dance parties are always going on at this place. They really love to party!

For those of you who want sports, 414! still has you covered. With multiple TV screens, there is always something on to watch and the staff is great about finding you the specific game you're looking for too. Sit at the bar, a table, or one of the comfortable horseshoe booths and relax with your favorite drink and a game.

Now, on to the karaoke!

414! offers karaoke 7 nights a week, making it, easily, one of my favorite gin joints in the Valley area. (It's convenient location to my home is a huge plus as well.) 

Spencer G, the owner, is the DJ. He has an impressive song collection. Just about anything I can think of (and I sing some pretty non-traditional fare like more obscure punk rock to international folk music) whether it is mainstream or eclectic, Spencer has it. And if he doesn't? He will get it. He is more than happy to download any song you've found and sang at other places. He'll even do it right there on the spot for you to sing that same night. Or, if you want several things (which I've done before), find them, let him know, and he will download those too. (Naturally, it is just polite to reimburse him for the downloads if, like me, you're asking for a lot of stuff downloaded.)

There's a fairly steady crowd of 414! karaoke regulars, but the joint is always rotating through people since it's located right on Mill Ave at the heart of ASU (Arizona State University). It doesn't matter if it's a Friday night or a "slow" Tuesday, 414! always has people floating in and out, some for only a quick drink and a slice of pizza, or others who come for karaoke.

In my experience, when you enter a karaoke bar, you can usually judge what kind of a night it will be by the clientele and what the first three singers choose. Not at 414! Everyone is different, and song styles and choices vary widely depending on the crowd of the moment. There have been evenings when I've arrived and thought "Okay, it's a musical type of crowd" and then 20 minutes later (or about 4-5 singers) the crowd has shifted and we're all onto punk rock. It's great and really keeps you entertained!

Service at 414! couldn't be better. There are several mainstay bartenders who really know their job, are friendly and down to earth, and (when we're really lucky) even entertain us by singing while pouring our drinks. And the waitstaff are johnny-on-the-spot with orders and drink refills. I've never had slow service, not even on the nights when the place has been so packed it's standing room flooding out onto the smoking patio only.

The only piece of advice I can give about 414! is that, since the place is so popular, if you want to sing, Get There Early and get your name in the rotation first thing. While Spencer does try to make sure everyone gets a chance to sing, some nights it's impossible to get everyone in to sing in a timely fashion, especially if you show up at 1:30 AM and want to sing (karaoke ends at 2 AM even though the bar is open until 4 AM for food). And I highly recommend you remember to tip your servers, your bartender, but also Spencer, your DJ. They all do an amazing job of making sure your night out is a true celebration, even if it's just a plain ol' Monday night you just felt the need to sing and dance a little.

Follow my blog for more karaoke bar reviews. 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Ebook Giveaway: Becoming Human and Altered Reality by Eliza Green

Dystopian Sci-fi author Eliza Green is running a giveaway this week on BC Brown Books for Four copies of Two of her post apocalyptic novels.

Becoming Human and Altered Realty, Books 1 & 2 in the Exilion 5 Trilogy, both multiple five star reviewed novels, are free in this special giveaway for this week only.

Becoming Human

"It was exciting and it had mystery." Masquerade Crew

"The plot is intricate, involved and intense. Eliza Green had me from page one." Top 500 Amazon Reviewer

Earth is overcrowded and polluted. 
A new planet, Exilon 5, has been located.
But Exilon 5 is already occupied.

Two Worlds. Two Species. One Terrifying Secret.

In 2163, a polluted and overcrowded Earth forces humans to search for a new home. But the exoplanet they target, Exilon 5, is occupied.

Having already begun a massive relocation programme, the World Government on Earth sends Bill Taggart to monitor the threat level of the Indigenes, the alien race that lives on Exilon 5. Bill is a man on the edge. He believes the Indigenes killed his wife, but he doesn’t know why. Until now.

Stephen has every reason to despise the humans and their attempts to colonise his planet. To protect his species from further harm, he must go against his very nature and become human.

Laura O’Halloran is losing her daily battle with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Her only chance at recovery is leaving the dark Earth for the sunnier climate of Exilon 5. She hopes her credentials as a World Government employee will secure her a one-way trip, but with the ever increasing relocation demand that is not a guarantee.

Her discovery of a deadly secret threatens her life and that of Bill and Stephen. A secret so great it could rip apart both worlds.

Altered Reality
"Eliza Green brings excitement and a true feeling of urgency to her well-written tale." Top 500 Amazon Reviewer

"Altered Reality is an entertaining read for science fiction fans." Top 100 Amazon Reviewer
Stephen is haunted by a series of disturbing dreams.
Anton is trapped in a medical facility on Earth.
Bill Taggart is searching for Anton.
What Bill discovers forces him to change course
He must warn the Indigenes.

Being different is accepted. Being special could get you killed.

Under orders from Earth’s World Government, Dr. Caroline Finnegan studies the imprisoned Anton’s genetic code in detail. But when a colleague turns up on the table in her medical facility, her curiosity about the Indigene soon shifts to fear for her own safety.

Forced to leave Earth without Anton, the Indigene Stephen is haunted by a series of disturbing dreams. Are they a manifestation of his fear for his friend’s safety, or a psychological link to Anton?

Knowing what the World Government has done to the Indigenes puts Laura O’Halloran’s chances of moving to Exilon 5 in jeopardy. With the extra attention on her at work, she believes her life might also be in danger.

Bill Taggart focuses on two things: the search for Anton, and deciphering the coded letters from his wife. What he learns forces him to change his focus. He enlists Laura’s help to find a way to warn the Indigenes before it is too late.

Enter to Win!

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Long Walk by June Hardison

The Long Walk by June Hardison
Inspirational Fiction

Donovan Evans, high school baseball standout, has everything going for him, including his ego. Trying to escape the pressures of parents and prospective college coaches, Donovan finds himself arrested and headed towards community service, where he makes an unlikely friend who reminds him of the person he was intended to be. This is a story about an athlete and a multi-disabled young man, and how two people from very different backgrounds can change each other’s life.

“Hey, do you mind if he sits with me today?”
As carefully as he could, Josh grabbed a milk. His hands shook as he placed it on his tray next to his sandwich. The kids behind him, visibly perturbed, let out sighs and rolled their eyes at how long it was taking Josh to get his food.
“Uh…sure,” Kate slowly said. Her eyes narrowed with curiosity seeping around the edges.
Donovan whispered a “thanks” and quickly walked over to Josh to help him out.
“You know, the food isn’t good enough for you to be thinking so long and hard about what you’re going to get,” Donovan said when he reached Josh.
Josh looked up with a startled expression on his face. “D? What you doin’ here!”
“Just here to help a dude out. That’s all.”
“Man! No, I dot it,” he said as Donovan reached for his tray.
“Are you sure, because I can carry your tray, man.”
“No, D. I do it,” he said with a smile.
“Ok, well come on and sit with me today.”
“You serious?” His eyes wide, he picked up his pace with his walker.
“Of course. I already told your sister that you would be sitting with me. Its tons better than having to listen to all their girl talk, right?” Donovan nudged him with his elbow.
“Oh, yeah,” Josh laughed.
They made their way across the cafeteria to Donovan’s table. It was a long walk by Josh standards. He would lift and place his walker down carefully so he didn’t spill his food, take two steps, and then repeat the process. Donovan stayed with him the whole way. 10, Krysta, and the others at the table stared with mixed expressions. Steve smiled, Matt looked confused, and Krysta narrowed her eyes. Donovan’s heart beat quickened and for a moment he wondered if he had made the right decision by bringing Josh over. The last thing he wanted was for Josh to become a target on Krysta’s gossip page. Donovan took a deep breath and then looked at the group with a smirk. Time for them to broaden their horizons, he thought to himself with a laugh. He would protect Josh from Krysta.

About the Author
June grew up in southeastern New Mexico playing sports and reading books. Married with two boys, she is having a blast watching those two boys grow up into men. Her time is mainly spent with family
and helping others through her job with working with special education students. She feels blessed to be able to share stories that entertain and inspire.

Connect with June:

Friday, February 12, 2016

Author Interview: Sherri Rabinowitz

Today I'm privileged to have the talented Sherri Rabinowitz on my blog to learn more about this wonderful radio hostess and author.


I would love to have been one of the bright young things in London during the 1920’s.

A bit of the exotic but familiar with London. And the 1920's were definitely a singularly magical time that have also held a nostalgic, romanticized pull for me as well. I admit I've shared this same idea. Only it was France during the 1920's for me. It was London during the 70's & 80's, during the emergence of punk rock.


I read a lot, I meditate, I do yoga and swim.

I'm big on meditation as well. Although I'm only just exploring yoga. Many of my friends swear by it for overall health and wellness, and it appeals to my personal need to explore the self. I'm not much of a swimmer myself, although I know how many benefits it has and I also adore the water. But I'll confess I can't swim much more than a dog-paddle so I do fear deeper water that I can stand up in. Swimming lessons are on my must-do list.


I used to be far more naïve and gullible, I am rather cynical now, sadly that comes with experience.

I agree that a cynical nature can come with wisdom and experience. Myself, I try to balance that cynical nature with deliberate hope. I've found that hope allows me soften the hard edges of cynicism.


I am actually quite shy and insecure.  In some ways I seem to tell everyone everything but if the truth be told I am actually very private.

That kind of outreach with telling people the world can be our insecurity reaching out for connection. Since we are looking for reassurance, sharing ourselves with others is one way to look for it, but I don't believe it dims the want for privacy any. By telling people things, you are actively sharing your life - inviting them in so to speak - but you'd feel a sense of invasion if people "dug up" that information on you.


The Bobsey Twins

Strangely enough that is one series I never read growing up. Of course since my sisters are ten and eleven years older than I am, I didn't read many "kid" books or series in my youth. Naturally I wanted to be like my big sisters so I tended to read, or have them read to me, whatever they were into. It was a lot of Stephen King, Isaac Asimov, and comic books in my more formative years. I didn't read many of the classic children's books until I was a young adult.


I am re-reading Sherlock Holmes.

Wonderful! I've been picking one or two classic Holmes to read each year as well. 


Too many beloved books to have a favorite.

I understand. It is often acutely difficult to narrow down favorite books. I tend to narrow them as far as 3 top favorites in each genre.


That’s hard; all of my writing is important to me, they are like my children.  I think my collaboration with Anja Gruber for Different Is Beautiful though is something special.

Our work often touches us in many different reasons. It would also be difficult for me to pick one I am most proud of. 


[I] wanted to do something to stop bullying, and I felt it starts with what we teach children as they grow. [T]his was my contribution to bring love, acceptance and understanding to this generation.

Bullying is a real problem today. I'm not saying kids are any meaner or more aggressive than in past generations, but we've certainly become more cognizant as a society of the impact children have on the emotional development of other children. I'm glad many people like yourself are keeping that awareness up. 


The late Ray Bradbury, he wrote so brilliantly and he was such a lovely man.

Ray Bradbury is a wonderful choice. He was a brilliant writer. To speak with him and be able to ask him intimate questions would be like getting to drink from a fountain of wisdom, in my opinion.


I am afraid I would never do that.  It's just not in me.

It's good you're so grounded as a person and writer to know that wouldn't be something you'd be capable of. I think I'd be all too capable, but it would take a piece of my soul I'd never get back.


I am writing a YA novel and historical romance.

Hopefully you'll give us a few sneak peeks along the way...? ;)


RM Alexander, Mary Dee, Marie Trevithick

Now for some random questions!


You bet, it is a bit arrogant to think we are all alone in this big vast universe.

I couldn't agree more. Statistically it doesn't compute we are all alone.


A bird so I could fly. 

I share the same want. My dreams often consist of me having the ability to fly, or being a big that can fly.


Star Trek, (though I do love Star Wars I never became obsessed by it, except by Harrison Ford but that is category all by its self).

Definitely a kindred soul here. I enjoy Star Wars. I know a lot about it too. But I adore Star Trek.


Gosh, that’s hard, I really love both of them for different reasons but I guess I will go for the first one that touched me, Kirk.

From the original series, for me, it was always Spock. Captain Picard has always been my ideal however.


 I don’t know, I hope he does well, I am just hoping for the best.

So far I think the general notion has been he is doing a good job. I don't doubt he will continue to try to live up to the expectations of fans since he himself is a big fan.




I did do Star Trek role playing through the mail for a bit, but I never got into it.  I love playing cards, all kinds of games of chance. I love to play Monopoly and chess.  When I play chess I think of my Dad.  I also love Mah Jong. I learned [to play it] from my Mom.

Ah, so you've done some role playing, if not D&D. I haven't ever played a Star Trek role playing game, while I have done a Star Wars series of games before. While I'm not a big fan of Monopoly (I'm more of a Clue kind of gal), I adore card games! A childhood friend taught me chess. I'll admit I'm not terribly good at it though. I've always wanted to learn Mah Jong, but I've not had anyone to teach me or play with however.


A lot.  I am usually reading books for my show, and reviews.  But I love to just read for pleasure too, and I read a lot of fan fiction as well.  I am always reading.

That's interesting. My own reading tends to be smaller in content. Usually because I try to only read within whatever genre I am currently writing. Sometimes that includes multiple genres (like currently epic fantasy and contemporary fiction) but juggling multiple projects and trying to juggle corresponding reading content is difficult.


All three. [S]orry, I am too curious to stick to one.  But when I read a book I prefer to have an actual book in my hands, it is just comforting and beloved that way.

I own a Kindle. I use it (maybe) a third of the time to read. I too love the feel of a real book in my hands. There's something visceral about the aroma, feel, and weight of a book.


(Dead) Dorothy Sayers and (living) J K Rowling.

Big Rowlings fan here. (Duh, fantasy!) I'll confess I don't know Dorothy Sayers. Yays! A new author to look into. :)


Dorothy Sayers’ because mysteries was the first genre I fell in love with. [S]he was my first favorite and Agatha Christie’s favorite so I had to read her.  I find her books both addictive and fun.  A deadly combination. For JK Rowling, I am such a Harry Potter fan! I enjoyed her two other books but Harry is still my favorite; I just became so engrossed in that world.  My Dad, brother and I would talk about it all the time, it was special. [S]ince I lost my Dad i[t] is elevated to the eighth degree.

Having that connection with someone we love and something we've shared, whether it is a book, movie, or anything, keeps more of a bond, an impression. It becomes something to cherish because it was shared.


To be accepting of others differences,  love for the excitement and adventure of reading, to think and choose for themselves, and to nurture any form of creative expression they display. 

All incredibly important values to instill in our children.

Thank you, Sherri, for chatting with me today about you, your life, and your art. 

Sherri has been writing since she was a small child. She was inspired by Ray Bradbury and Agatha Christie. She had always loved writing but has had to make a living in a varied number of ways. She worked as an actress, a travel agent and in several forms of customer service. Her passion though has always been writing. She loves and enjoys both reading and writing fan fiction.Her first book Murder Inc. was a fan favorite, Fantasy Time Inc. was nominated for a Global Ebook Award. Her brand new book; Different Is Beautiful is already a best seller. It has been #2 in hot releases, #2 in Early Childhood Education and #3 in Preschool & Kindergarten on Amazon! And it won the Gold (First Place) for Global Ebook Awards for Children Picture Books Fiction category! Sherri was nominated for the Shorty Award! Sherri is the host of Blogtalk Radio's Chatting With Sherri.  

Sherri is the producer of Sherri's Playhouse and the home of The Chatty Award!! 

Entering My Second Half; Ebook;

Monday, February 8, 2016

Eliza Green's 5 Myths of Writing (Guest Post)

Thanks to BC Brown for having me on her blog. I’m really excited to share with you some of 
my experiences as a writer. When I started writing, I had some silly notions about what I 
needed to do to succeed. So here are my top five myths about writing. Yes, I’ve fallen for all 
of these.

1: Putting words down on paper makes me an author.

No. Writing makes you a writer. Changing your story into something people will want to 
read, then polishing that work with a good cover and use of an editor makes you an author. 
That’s a very simplified view, but it’s where you start. The first story I wrote was a women’s 
fiction book. I sent it out to agent after agent and received dozens of rejections. If I was to 
re-read that book today, I’d say I just threw a story down on paper with no care given to 
how it was structured or no attempt to make some characters more than one-dimensional.

2: All good authors wait for inspiration

If we all hung around for that, we’d be a long time waiting! Sometimes you’ve got to coax 
the ideas out. I’m lucky. Some people don’t remember their dreams but mine are vivid and 
interesting. The better ones I jot down. It’s not an idea for a book but a strand, a morsel. If I 
leave it there long enough, it might percolate in my mind. Or maybe I’ll just forget about it. 
Walking is good to help tease out the ideas. If I’m stuck on how to move a story on, I’ll walk 
to make sense of it. 

3: If I publish a book, people will find me.

Oh, how I wish that were true! I started writing in 2009. I’m going into my fourth year of 
publishing with four published books to my name. I started to see traction on my books in 
2015 when readers were finding me organically. Before that, I hounded reviewers (in a 
polite, friendly way). I featured on as many blogs as I could until two years later I burnt out 
and pared my activities right back. Now, I’m ramping up the activities again, but in a much 
more focused way. Finding readers takes time and lots of patience. I’m not the most patient 
person in the world 

4: Now that I’m an author, I can quit my day job.

If only! I still work full time and every other minute of my time goes to my writing career. If 
you’re in this for the long haul, sacrifices must be made. You have to slog it out during your 
personal time until you’ve reached your acceptable bottom line figure, the amount of 
money you can comfortably support yourself on. This year I’m ready to make a change. I 
want to move from full time to part time so I can write more frequently and increase the 
number of books I have. I can’t wait!

5: Authors should expect good reviews if they’ve put the work in.

And authors can comment on bad reviews, right? Wrong. It’s a cardinal sin to expect 
anything in this industry. If you put your best polished story and genre-appropriate cover 
out there hopefully readers will like what you’ve written. But being an author means more 
than hitting a publish button. It means taking criticism and learning to separate out the good 
from the bad. You learn from the good but you have to be open to it. Being humble goes a 
long way in this business. Readers don’t owe you anything. You’ve got to earn your place. 
It sounds like a lot of work and it is. But believe me, the rewards are amazing!

Becoming Human

Tasked with determining the threat level on Exilon 5, Bill Taggart hunts the alien he believes murdered his wife. But what he learns about the race living there forces him to rethink everything he believes.

Back Cover:

Two worlds. Two species. One terrifying secret.
In 2163, a polluted and overcrowded Earth forces humans to search for a new home. But 
the exoplanet they target, Exilon 5, is occupied. 

Having already begun a massive relocation programme, the World Government on Earth 
sends Bill Taggart to monitor the threat level of the Indigenes, the alien race that lives on 
Exilon 5. Bill is a man on the edge. He believes the Indigenes killed his wife, but he doesn’t 
know why. Until now. 

Stephen has every reason to despise the humans and their attempts to colonise his planet. 
To protect his species from further harm, he must go against his very nature and become 

Laura O’Halloran is losing her daily battle with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Her only chance at recovery is leaving the dark Earth for the sunnier climate of Exilon 5. She hopes her credentials as a World Government employee will secure her a one-way trip, but with the ever increasing relocation demand that is not a guarantee.

Her discovery of a deadly secret threatens her life and that of Bill and Stephen. A secret so 
great it could rip apart both worlds.

Buy links


Barnes and Noble