Thursday, 12 November 2015


Bonjour everyone and welcome!

Did you know I love pictures? Well, I do. I love taking pictures and I love sharing them. I love color pictures, and I love black and white pictures. I love pictures in frames, in blogs, and in books (the more the better). I love thought-provoking pictures, and I love pictures I can rub my crayons all over. In short, a picture really is worth a thousand words (can my next ms be just pictures?) and to prove my point, below is a picture I took a couple weeks ago......


And a few days ago, I took this beauty....

What exactly do you mean metal box when you say,
"Your computer was unable to start."

Just look at these pictures, they hold so much emotion, frustration, and betrayal. We see the battle between man woman and machine. There are lives and files at stake... These images personify the dying of the light and the motherboard. It is death and rebirth and then death again. It is a portrait as I curse, cry, yell, and curse some more. In these pictures I see a desperate soul trying to reformat (twice) a piece of crap computer. Ultimately, it was all for nothing.


The metal box died five days ago.

This is my first post from my new computer which runs on Windows 8 (which sucks, seriously what is so complicated about opening docx files? Windows 7 can do it!) . Looking back, I should have thrown the metal box of cookies and crippled rams over a bridge, at least it would have been therapeutic. But enough about me and my pictures, you should see the pictures in Mark's book REVIVAL!
(I'm a black belt in transitioning can't you tell?)

But seriously, I'm excited to be part of Mark's blog tour for REVIVAL and today he's going to talk about the many pictures that were included in the memoir and how they were chosen. So check it out, and don't forget to sign up for the rafflecopter at the end to win a bunch of prizes!

                                         Take it away, Mark! ----->>>>>



Nearing the middle of the Tour for my new book,
REVIVAL – The Donald Braswell Story, we find ourselves in France where Elise is so kind to let me parlais about pictures in a memoir—and how do you choose a final set?

 When I first suggested to Donald that adding pictures to the memoir would bring so much more to the story, he was immediately on board, but he soon emailed me with the same question: How do I choose?

I checked my battered copy of What To Expect When You is Memoir-ing, but when that offered little (except to get enough sleep before launch day), I asked Donald to send fifty pics that basically covered the timeframe of the memoir (early ‘20s to late ‘40s.)

I went through the multitude of emails, and because of age and technology (anyone remember how a scanned 4x6 Kodak can appear?) it wasn’t hard to whittle the first round down to a final selection.

Donald sent rough cutlines for each “finalist,” and now REVIVAL ended up with about thirty pictures sprinkled throughout its 236 pages (thanks to our publisher,
Pen-L Publishing.)

 (When I read a section, and then saw the corresponding picture, it really drove home how a picture really does tell a thousand words. Just as well… with thirty pictures, gosh, I’d still be writing :)

 Has a picture ever helped or hindered your writing?


Merci buckets, Elise. You rock, as does the Eifel Tower at night.
I’m stopping by MJ Fifield on Friday, and she’s curious about the challenges involved in memoir writing.




Title: REVIVAL - The Donald Braswell Story
Subtitle: How a Tenor Lost his Voice, but Found his Calling
Author: Mark Koopmans
Category: Non-fiction
Genres: Memoir, Biography, Inspirational
Publisher: Pen-L Publishing
Length: 65,000 words
Release Date: November 03, 2015

Tour: Every weekday in November

Back Blurb:
Five years removed from his 1990 Juilliard graduation, Donald Braswell is set to be “the next Pavarotti.” Braswell’s successful career ends, however, not with a standing ovation at Carnegie Hall, but alone, lying in a dirty ditch.

Following the hit-and-run accident that steals his voice and future, the “Texas Tenor” struggles with depression and despair—until the night his daughter, Aria, is born. Understanding this new and immediate life change, Braswell fights to relearn how to speak, sing—and share this gift of second chances with others.

Working as a plasterer, a car salesman, and many jobs in-between, it takes thirteen years—and a musical miracle—for Braswell to battle back and sing on a professional stage. His dreams and ambitions collide with a tired and angry crowd when he auditions for America’s Got Talent. For his family, his faith and his entire future, can the Rocky Balboa of the operatic world find the courage and strength to win just one more fight?  

Purchase Links

  • Amazon Kindle
  • Nook
  • iTunes
  • Kobo


Donald Braswell II is an American actor, classical crossover tenor and composer. Braswell was on a fast track to become an internationally acclaimed opera singer when he suffered a car accident in 1995that made him unable to speak for almost two years. After that, he lived a quiet life outside of the spotlight until his appearance on the 2008 season of America’s Got Talent where he was a Top 5 finalist, which gave him another chance at a career in entertainment. Since then, he has entertained audiences both internationally as well as shore to shore in the United States in concerts, television appearances, inspirational speaking and radio. He boasts an international fan club with fans from over 25 countries.

Braswell has reentered the world of music by singing in concerts starting with the Symphony of theHills in Kerrville, Texas in June 2009. He performs a variety of musical genres ranging from pureclassical repertoire to soul to mainstream pop. He engages people of many cultures by singing invarious languages outside of English, including Spanish, Italian, Neapolitan, French and Russian. Hisconcerts are generally multilingual, and he has performed pieces that are themselves in more than onelanguage. Some of these include: Mario Frangoulis bilingual version of “Nights in White Satin” (Italiantitle “Notte di luce”), originally by The Moody Blues; “The Prayer”; and Andrea Bocelli’s “Vivere”(English title “Dare to Live”). His other non-English repertoire includes Aqustin Lara’s “Rosa” (Spanish),Mario Frangoulis’s “VincerĂ², perderĂ²” (Italian) and the Neapolitan standard “O sole mio”.Some of his many compositions can be heard on his recent album We Fall and We Rise Again.Donald is a testament to the powers of the human spirit in difficult times and he inspires all who come to know him.   Find him at


Mark Koopmans is originally from Ireland. After working in Holland, Spain, France and England, he won his U.S. “Green Card” in 1994, and is an American by choice since 2003. Koopmans began his writing career with a feature for a regional magazine in California. Since then, he’s worked as a staff writer for newspapers in Florida and Texas. Koopmans is also a proficient blogger and is working on his next book, a novel. Koopmans lives in Virginia and is a married, stay-at-home dad to three active boys under the age of nine. He writes at night.


GRAND PRIZE (2 winners): Donald Braswell to sing (Happy Birthday/Anniversary) via
Skype or phone call. (A unique gift idea!)
1ST PLACE PRIZE: Signed Donald Braswell CD/REVIVAL book combo
2nd, 3rd and 4th PLACE PRIZES: Signed copies of REVIVAL (by Donald and Mark)
5th, 6th and 7th PLACE PRIZES: Signed copies of Donald Braswell CDs
8th, 9th, and 10th PLACE PRIZES: Signed Donald Braswell 8x10 picture

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

IWSG: POV and Tense

Developed by author and blogger Alex Cavanaugh, IWSG is a bloghop for writers by writers. To find out more about the IWSG monthly bloghop or the IWSG website, click the links. 
Thank you Alex and the co-hosts this month for another great hop!


After 6 months running a B&B, our season is finally closed until next year. Let me tell you how F-ing happy I was to see the last of our clients leave at the end of September. Not to complain, too much… but running a B&B was so much work that by the end, I was physically and mentally exhausted. Spent. There were however,  a few interestings aspects about the B&B that I’d love to talk to you about, but this is IWSG and now that I’m back, I’ve hit the ground running and writing--the only way to hit the ground in my opinion. So let’s get on with it!

My insecurities this month are two fold. The first, stems from being out of touch with all you guys and the writing blogosphere. In short, I have no clue what's going on anymore. If you came out with a book or book cover this summer, I missed it. If there were bloghops, I missed them. If you had any kind of awesome sauce news to share, I’m so sorry, but yeah, I missed that too. That’s what sucks when you’re gone for a few months. But, I’m hoping to elbow my way back into the asylum if there’s still room. Is my bunk bed still available? ;)

The other thing that’s been making me bite my fingers is an anthology. Recently, I was asked to contribute to an anthology that’s due to come out sometime in the beginning of next year. The theme is turning points. I’m not going to talk much about the details because I’m not sure it’s time, but that’s not the problem. Here’s what’s giving me a hard time. 

POV and tense. 

From the beginning, I’ve been struggling on what POV to use and for some reason, I started writing in third person present tense which isn’t common in fiction writing. Plus, I rarely write presence tense, it’s not easy to pull off, and I suck at it. I’m much more mainstream with my narrative and usually write in first person or third person past tense. Anyway, I’m worried that I’m heading out into deep waters, writing in a tense I don’t have much experience in, and of course worried I’m going to muck it all up. The thing is, the more I read my story, the more I like it. Usually, when I start a new project I’m all super excited about it and love it to death, that is until I get to the editing and rewriting phase, to which I start doubting myself and then I end up hating everything I’ve written. Sound familiar? Well with this project, I started with a slow burn, a glimmer of an idea and slowly started writing. I’m still uncertain where to take it, but the more I keep going, the more I like it. I’m having a hard time remembering when I’ve ever felt like this over a writing project. So as you can see, my first week back and I already have a bunch of stuff to figure out.

Anyway, I hope everyone had a fun and productive summer. Enjoy the bloghop, I know I sure will and I can’t wait to see what you all are writing about. And, if you all have any suggestions, I’d love to hear from you! 

Wednesday, 5 August 2015


Developed by author and blogger Alex Cavanaugh IWSG is a bloghop for writers by writers. To find out more about the IWSG monthly bloghop or the IWSG website, click the links. Thank you Alex and the co-hosts this month for another great hop!


So the other day I came across this video by science communicator/philosopher, Jason Silva. In this particular clip, he talks about the creative process and mentions something I hit on in my last IWSG post, which is getting out of our way to move forward, or as Silva calls it, entering "no mind." I wish I could tap into these flow states whenever I wanted to write without my inner critic getting in the way. But, I can't right now. I'm still swamped with work until end of September and with the kids on vacation....well my 'flow state' is a 'no show state.' However, I did get in a few hours of writing today, so there's that. 

Anyway, I know everyone is busy so I'll make this short and just leave you with the video (I hope it works) for you to watch if you like. It's short. Like me. :P

So until next time, have a good one and just go with the flow...  :)

Art As An Escape
THIS is the only thing getting in your way.
Posted by Jason Silva on Thursday, July 16, 2015

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

IWSG: Just Get Out The Way

The first Wednesday of every month is the Insecure Writer’s Support Group bloghop. It's a day where writers/bloggers reach out and post their fears and doubts about their writing, but also share their triumphs, no matter how big or small.

So some of you may already know I started a B&B a few months ago. Lately, I've been drawing parallels between running a B&B and writing. Here's what I've gotten so far:

1. No matter how hard I try to be perfect or make everything look perfect, there will always be that one negitive person who will never be happy and who cannot help but critisize.

In other words, you can never please everyone, no matter how hard you try. However, you can reach a point where you can please the majority, and that's good enough. 

2. Sometimes it only takes one positive comment to change your crappy day into a good day. I remember one day in particular, I was feeling extra crappy and had to force a smile across my face when the new guests arrived. They turned out to be the nicest people, and speaking with them for just a few minutes was all it took to turn my mood around. But the best, was when a guest left a hand written thank you note in the room after they left. That was awesome, kinda like getting fan mail. :)

In other words, never underestimate the power of a positive comment or a kind word. You never know how much those words mean to someone or how badly they need to hear it. 

3. Recommendations / Reviews are so important. Authors know how important reviews are to book sales, well this is the same thing. Several of our guests have been nice enough to leave positive reviews on a B&B website about our room. The reviews are only a few sentences long, and yet they carry a lot of weight in the eyes of potential clients looking to book a room. As a result, we're booked for most of the summer. 

As I think about this list, it's easy to see that many of the insecurities I have about my writing creep up in my work with the B&B, which begs the question....what if... what if it's not my writing that's the problem.... what if the problem is me? 

Well, duh! 

Of course I'm my biggest obstacle with my bemoaning insecurities. I really need to get out of my own way sometimes. :) 

Well, that's it for me today. If you haven't already noticed, my blogging schedule has slowed to a crawl since I started the B&B. Sorry! But I'll be back on a more regular schedule in September when we close our activity for the fall/winter season. Thanks for stopping in, I wish you the very best in your writing endeavors and for crying out loud, get out of your own damn way and just write! :)  

Thank you, Alex Cavanaugh for another great bloghop. And a big thank you to all the awesome co-hosts this month! 
To find out more about the IWSG monthly bloghop or the IWSG website, click the links.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

IWSG: Writing and Trying to Run a B&B

The first Wednesday of every month is the Insecure Writer’s Support Group bloghop. It's a day where writers/bloggers reach out and post their fears and doubts about their writing, but also share their triumphs, no matter how big or small.

My name is Elise Fallson, and it’s been a whole month since I’ve blogged. *hangs head in shame*  

Last month was supposed to be my come-back month, but instead, it’s been one of the worst for me writing wise. In fact, it’s been so bad, I’ve put up my laptop to go old school… pen and paper.  

Anyway, part of the problem is that we’ve started a small B&B activity that occupies most of my time. And though it’s only going to run from April to September, my writing time has been slashed. And I’m so tired. Like all the time. But one of the positive points about running a B&B has been meeting so many different people. Every couple that stay at our B&B is different and each has had a slightly different way of doing things. It’s been an interesting study in human behaviour, as well as in the art of small talk and chitchat. For a writer and introvert, this is pretty valuable stuff.

I know this first year is going to be the most difficult. But, I’m hoping with practice, and a new washing machine (mine broke last week and I had to do laundry at my Mom’s for a week---ffffuuuuuuukkkk), things will get easier. But working in the service industry, no matter how small, is stressful. I could write on and on about that, but you know…. time…..

I hope to  write more about the people I meet. I’ve already met some pretty interesting characters, luckily, they’ve all been lovely people--so far. 

Well, that's it for me, hope you all are doing well and finding the time you need to write. And as always, take care and catch up with you soon... I hope! :) 


Thank you, Alex Cavanaugh for another great bloghop. And a big thank you to all the awesome co-hosts this month! 
To find out more about the IWSG monthly bloghop or the IWSG website, click the links.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

IWSG: What's My Name?

The first Wednesday of every month is the Insecure Writer’s Support Group bloghop. It's a day where writers/bloggers reach out and post their fears and doubts about their writing, but also share their triumphs, no matter how big or small.

The biggest issue I have this month is one I've struggled with for as long as I can remember, and that's time. I know most of us struggle with the time issue. We try squeezing seconds out of our busy lives to write a chapter or two, or heck just a few sentences would be great. But I don't want to talk about the time issue today because it so often comes down to prioritizing and re-evaluating personal goals. What I do want to talk about is something that's been bugging me lately, and that's the name game. I'm usually pretty good at naming characters. However, ever since I started writing this sci-fi  story, I can't, for the life of me, seem to come up with a good name for my main character. It's gotten to the point where it's become a mental block. I'm having a hard time writing freely without her name. 

Why? *shrugs* 

I know many of you refer to certain characters as "The Bad Guy" or "Sexy" in your writing until you find a real name. But I can't even do that. I have a few pages where I refer to my main character as XX, but that just hurts my eyes and distracts my train of thought every time I see it. 

So how do you guys settle on names? Do you have a technique, or does it just come to you somewhere between morning coffee and the evening sherry? ;)

Other than that, hope everyone is happy, healthy and writing. :) 
Have a great weekend all.


Thank you, Alex Cavanaugh for another great bloghop. And a big thank you to all the awesome co-hosts this month! 
To find out more about the IWSG monthly bloghop or the IWSG website, click the links.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

I Spy: Z

Welcome to I Spy...from A-Z!

Yikes! I can't believe I forgot Yikes for my Y post, plus that's a word I like to use for time to time.... I must still be jet lagged, :P 

So here we are, last day of A-Z. I can't believe we made it! If you hung out with me this month, I just want to say THANK YOU! Virtual hugs, you are all I Spy Masters. Also, a little crazy--just sayin... ;) 

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the challenge, it was fun seeing what kinds of words you all came up with, given the limited time you had to spend at each blog. I know it wasn't always easy. The only thing I regret is not having more time to put into visiting blogs. Doing the A-Z while on vacation is not ideal to say the least. But, I am looking forward to catching up with you guys, I should be back on a regular schedule beginning of next week. 

Ok, enough bla, bla, bla, you all know the drill>>>

....without further ado.....

I spy with my little eye things that begin with the letter...


My Y answers:

 Yesterday, Year, Yellow sign, Yawning aligator (I know, this is stretching it a bit... :D )

And... I'm not going to make you come back tomorrow for the Zs

--It's been grand I Spyers!--

My Z answers:

Zany *that crazy girl in the picture :P,  
"Zoinks!" (one of Shaggy's favorite sayings), 
Z wine cork 


Thanks everyone for playing along and for all your comments and creative answers, it's been a lot of fun. And MEGA thanks to the A-Z team for putting together another great blog hop this year!

I Spy: Y

Welcome to I Spy...from A-Z!

Y, I think we're almost done! :D

Only one more day and the A-Z challenge will be over. I have to say I've really enjoyed doing this I spy game with you guys, my only regret is not having the time to interact with you all more, and having computer problems near the end. 
But, c'est la vie... :) 

Anyway, to change things up a bit before the end of the challenge, I posted a funny video for you guys in addition to the pics. Enjoy and I'll see you all tomorrow for the grand finale

So now, without further ado.....

I spy with my little eye things that begin with the letter...



My X answers:
Xmen, Xmen symbol, and that's all I got. :P 

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

I Spy: X

Welcome to I Spy...from A-Z!

Welcome back my I spy freinds. I find X to be a pretty aggravating letter. Many words begin with the X sound, but few actually begin with the letter X. (e.g. Excellent, Extra, Ex boyfriend, Export, Expert). I mean, why put the E in front of all those words in the first place? I need to know! *makes mental note to bug JE Oneil at Still Writing about this.* 

Anyway, here I am writing to you, on the fly from my Mom's house, because my internet is still down I love you all, and to give you the letter X! It wasn't easy to find X eXamples, so forgive me for the lack of variety today, but I refuse to post a picture of my kids xylophone--too easy. :)     

So now, without further ado.....

I spy with my little eye things that begin with the letter...


My W answers:
Worm, Weird, Wet, Wiggly, Welcome Pineapple**

**The pineapple has a long history as being a symblom of hospitality and luxury and is commonly called the Welcome Pineapple. I saw many stone pineapples in front of wealthy homes in North Carolina when I visited my Dad. You can read more about the history of the Welcome Pineapple HERE.

Monday, 27 April 2015

I Spy: W

Welcome to I Spy...from A-Z!

Hi guys, I'm finally home, sad to have left my Dad and the US, but happy to be back. Anyway, today is W for a lot of things, but especailly for: What The Hell, commonly written as WTH. Let me explain.... you know in my last post when I said I should be back into a more regular blogging schedule.... well guess what?! When we got back Saturday night from our vacation, I quickly found out our internet connection was down. Seriously? WTH! We called our provider to find out our internet box is fried and they are sending us a new one which in French translates to, a few weeks if you're lucky. So at this point I'm screaming WTF as I once again, have to finish my challenge at my Mom's house in sporadic, by-the-seat-of-my-pants, Elise fashion. The same thing happened to me in the middle of my A-Z challenge two years ago.... or was it three years ago... I forget, all I remember was that my internet service went down in the middle of the challenge and like now, I had to finish it using my mom's computer. History likes to repeat itself and kick me in the teeth on the way......I swear.... alot.

Anyway, I hope you all have enjoyed the challenge, good job with the V words, and again, thanks to everyone who has stopped by to play along.  *Only a few more letters left..... Phew* :D For those of you joining us, this is a game of I Spy. You'll figure it out. :D 

So now, without further ado.....

I spy with my little eye things that begin with the letter...


The last time I visited Florida, I found this creature on 
the ground. After freaking out, I took a picture (on left).
Doesn't it remind you the alien thing in Prometheus (pictured on right)?
Who wants to go to Florida now?!

My V answers:

Visitor, View, Velocity, Very high in the sky (Ok so I'm reaching a bit), Veteran (the patch was to honor a soldier of the Korean War) Victims, Victory (this word poped into my head though I agree with some of you who pointed out that no one truly 'wins' this kind of war.) 
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