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Spotlight and Review|Pinterest for Business: a Complete, Updated Guide for Ultimate Success

In Guest Blogger, Pinterest on July 12, 2013 at 1:19 am

If you are not already on Pinterest – you should be. Personally, I am fast becoming addicted to this image-driven site, but it has often occurred to me that perhaps I am not using it to my best advantage, and I should really be benefitting from this phenomenon; not just having fun. After all, this is one of the fastest growing sites on the web, where users just love browsing image after image; it just screams “use me well”.

So I am more than pleased to welcome my guest, and dear friend, Christine Corretti, with her new book about just that subject. Knowing of Christine’s expertise on Pinterest and seeing her fast-growing numbers of followers, I couldn’t wait to buy this. And, I wasn’t disappointed.  (Please scroll down and read my review of this very insightful book).

Welcome to my blog, Christine, and thank you so much for being here and sharing your invaluable know-how.

Pinterest for Business - Book Cover

And now over to Christine to tell you a little more about her must-have book

Have You Joined Pinterest Yet?

Whether you are an author, small business or other entrepreneurial minded individual, you should consider joining Pinterest.  Why?  Simply put, the visual nature of Pinterest will take your advertising and promotion to new levels of efficacy.  As my new book, Pinterest for Business: a Complete, Updated Guide for Ultimate Success (2013) explains, there are many ways to design and curate a Pinterest Page that will attract and keep a massive consumer base.  Most of the methods I present in this text are new.  They are the result of much personal experimentation and truly work.

For example, if you are an author, your book boards should entice potential readers through strategic juxtapositions of word and image.  Consider creating one board for your first novel, cover included, along with a note about what inspired you to become an author and what your current writing projects are.  Book trailers are ideal as pins because they too make a lasting (visual) impression on the viewer.  Another board might feature a novel that has just been released.  Here, offer a plot “summary” whose ending can only be found on your website, where the reader will find an invitation and link to purchase the novel.

In short, Pinterest boards should not only drive traffic to your website, but also be windows that open up to little worlds of images that tell stories, offer friendships, etc. — all while showing who you are and what you do.

Now, I’d like to invite you to click on the following link to my book, open it and get a glimpse of what Pinterest has to offer you!  Amazon

Connect with me on Pinterest  and my website

About the Author

Christine Corretti, Ph.D. is an art historian, artist, author, and Pinterest expert. Her appreciation and love of all things bookish and beautiful inspire her work and nearly every aspect of her life. “Pinterest for Business” is Christine’s second book to appear on Amazon. “A Father’s Wish: the Tale of King Big Bear the Fat,” which includes illustrations by the author, was her first. Both titles are available in paperback and digital editions on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

My Review of Pinterest for Business: a Complete, Updated Guide for Ultimate Success by Amelia Curzon

A lot of people find Pinterest a little overwhelming, and consequently are put off using it; and some… well, they just don’t get it. And, of course, many of us love it. Whichever camp you have a foot in, ‘Pinterest for Business’ explains simply and clearly the steps needed to succeed; from getting started, for absolute novices, through to maximizing your boards to increase your sales, for the more experienced pinner. In short, there is something for everyone. The book explains the value and the power of Pinterest, and how to harness that power. It gives a completely fresh take on how to make best use of the vast range of possibilities there are. It gives little known proven ways to get traffic and sales, and some impressive background information on those who have already succeeded.

The text takes you through each part step-by-step with the author using visuals of her own boards to illustrate just how to engage your audience by pinning strategically and in an aesthetically pleasing manner. It is hard to go wrong. If you are in business it is a godsend. Though primarily it is for businesses, authors are not left out. Authors can learn how to build and make best use of their boards.  Simply uploading a book cover is no longer enough, but Christine proffers some very specific ideas on how to optimize your boards to draw traffic to your blog, and how to portray yourself and let people get to know you. It’s a bit like Facebook really, but with pictures. And, to quote the author; “in the near future Pinterest’s following will be explosive. So now is the time to establish your Page and curate your best content”

I like the way this book is written; reading it was like having a tête-à-tête with the author. I bought the book not just to find out how to use Pinterest properly, as I am fairly new to it, but also to learn how to make the most of it. And I have learnt a lot. Though there are other books on offer addressing the same subject, Christine’s book on Pinterest is the one I have found easiest to understand, and the most helpful, and the one I now constantly refer to. Since I have been using it I have, slowly but surely, increased my followers and am getting hundreds of repins every day, and referrals to my website. I consider that a success. Kudos to Christine for her originality here as well.  A great book!



Thomasina Burke Dedicates Bridge of Fire to Fallen Granite Mountain Hotshots

In Causes, Guest Blogger on July 9, 2013 at 10:16 pm

I am thrilled to welcome, once again, my guest, Thomasina Burke. With her usual show of compassion and generosity Thomasina is dedicating the full proceeds of her latest book to the family of one of the fallen firefighters of the recent Yarnell disaster.  Welcome to my blog, Thomasina.

Arizona recently suffered a terrible tragedy with the deaths of nineteen of our young firefighters who were battling a blaze in the Bradshaw Mountains on June 30, 2013. One of those was a hometown boy from the nearby small town of Crown King, Arizona. I had the honor to work with Tony Rose on the Crown King Fire Department for five years, an amazing young man who died a hero as part of the Granite Mountain Hotshot crew. I wrote about the dangers of fighting fires in the forests around Crown King in my recently published novel, Bridge of Fire, and I am dedicating this book to the memory of all of those men who perished in a firestorm while trying to save the small town of Yarnell.

The prequel to Bridge of Fire is Magic Bridge, and it is available as a free Kindle download this week 07-09-13 through 07-13-13. Download here at Amazon

Bridge of FireHow far would you travel to keep a promise to someone you love? The tiny hamlet of Crown King, Arizona is the setting for this story about love, travel, and completing an epic journey. Bridgette Madden and Matt Decker crash into each other-literally-in the wilderness of the Bradshaw Mountains and begin a love story with each other, Arizona, and world travel. Their adventure circles the globe; castles in Germany, the gentle beauty of Ireland, Nepal’s Himalayas, the seas of Honduras, Italy’s shimmering Cinque Terre, and finally back to Arizona where it all began. Bridgette finds the strength to honor a commitment to her husband and return to the places they loved the best.

Bridge of Fire is now available for download on Kindle for $2.99 at Amazon

In Magic Bridge, Bridgette Decker travelled the world to fulfill a promise to her late husband, and completed an epic journey of commitment and adventure. Now, in Bridge of Fire, she must learn to travel through life on her own and find the strength to move forward in the face of adversity and insurmountable pain. Follow the indomitable Bridgette as she returns to the island of Roatan, Honduras, to change the lives of orphaned children, finding love once again in the least likely person. Cross the bridge of fire with her as she battles an inferno in Arizona, finally finding peace on the other side.

All proceeds from the sales of Bridge of Fire will be donated to Tony Rose’s fiancée, who is expecting their baby daughter in October.

Thanks, Amelia, and all of your readers for sharing and caring.

Guest Post: Boxes of Books! by Tara Fox Hall

In Charities, eBooks, Guest Blogger on June 2, 2013 at 12:03 am

Once again, I am pleased to host my guest Tara Fox Hall with another of her charitable causes. This time she has come up with a cracker, which should suit many of us; a unique way to put all those books to use that we may never read again. Welcome Tara, and thank you, as ever, for being here.

Tara Fox Hall guest blogging on Carte Blanche by Amelia CurzonThank you to Amelia Curzon for once again letting me guest at her blog about one of my charities.

If you’re a voracious reader like me, it’s likely that there are many bookshelves in your home piled with books. Inevitably, with the regular influx of new books, those bookshelves get overcrowded, then heaping, then spill over onto the floor. While the advent of e-readers and e-books has helped slow this process in recent years, I find it still happens to me, especially as I grow older and my tastes in books change. When I do a “book purge,” there are usually boxes and boxes of books that need a new home.

What to do with all the books? Usually libraries used to take them for book auctions, and sometimes organizations like the Salvation Army would take book donations. But for those that would like to help out a charity, I offer another option: Operation Paperback.

Here is a little about Operation Paperback:

Operation Paperback is a non-profit organization incorporated in the State of Pennsylvania that collects gently used books nationwide and sends them to American troops overseas, as well as veterans and military families here at home. Since 1999, we have shipped over 1.9 million books to locations around the globe.

Our service members and their families make sacrifices every day for our country. It takes so little to let them know that they are appreciated. When you donate to Operation Paperback, you will let America’s military know that you appreciate their service and their sacrifices.

I joined them in the fall of 2011 in an effort to get some of my books out in print form. With each shipment, I usually sent a copy of Lash Book #1 or Promise Me Book #1. Originally, I just sent to troops overseas. In 2012, Operation Paperback included veteran organizations to their list of book recipients. Now in 2013, military families can also receive books.

Volunteers do have to register to participate, but the procedure is surprisingly easy to do. Operation paperback accepts most kinds of reading material, including magazines, comic books, hardcover books, etc. (but no erotica). If you have extra books that you aren’t going to read again, consider donating them to this worthy charity. For more about Operation Paperback, click here:

Tara Fox Hall’s writing credits include nonfiction, horror, suspense, action-adventure, erotica, and contemporary and historical paranormal romance. She is the author of the paranormal action-adventure Lash series and the vampire romantic suspense Promise Me series. Tara divides her free time unequally between writing novels and short stories, chainsawing firewood, caring for stray animals, sewing cat and dog beds for donation to animal shelters, and target practice.

Taken For His Own - Book CoverTaken For His Own by Tara Fox Hall

Blurb: After learning Theo is alive, Sar immediately embarks on a mission to find him. Reunited, the lovers return to New York; Danial, Terian and Theo uneasily combining forces to protect Sar from Al’s assassins still seeking her. But when Sar is taken prisoner in an all-out attack, only one man can save her: her old adversary, Devlin.

Buy Links:


Melange/lulu link for Print, PDF and HTML copies                                      

All Romance E-books


“What about what you did to me?” I whispered, gazing at him and biting my lip.

“That wasn’t a whim,” Devlin said, dropping his eyes. “That was my bad judgment. Sadly, it wasn’t the worst mistake I’ve made in my life.”

“What was?”

Devlin didn’t answer. I reached out and took his cool hand in mine.

“When you lead others you must do whatever you have to in order to save your people,” he said with a sigh. “Compromising values should matter less than saving lives.”

“I agree with you,” I said. “If you rule others, you have a responsibility to them above the responsibility to yourself. But even then, I think your family should come first.”

“They should,” Devlin said in a cracked voice. He swallowed hard. “But the past can’t be undone.”

I squeezed his hand. “What happened to Danial wasn’t your fault.”

“Yes, it was,” he said softly.

“How is it your fault?” I said curiously, easing closer to him.

“Because I should have known what the thing was when it attacked. I didn’t know anything back then, except strategy and tactics. I was too concerned about rising through the ranks as fast as possible, so I could leave my family behind and become someone important.”

“What did you want to be?”

“A commander of men, either soldiers or police.”

I was surprised that Devlin would want to uphold the law or spend his life guarding others. Yet it made sense. When he’d taken me from my house years ago, he’d insisted on taking me to Danial, because I wore the choker. He was here putting himself in danger now to keep me safe.

“I knew something had attacked a few people on that road in that last month,” he continued. “I knew that there was a chance we might be attacked transporting the prisoner. But the road was the quickest way to our destination. I’d been assured that if I made the journey in good time, I’d get the promotion I wanted, and Danial would get my old position.”

“You aren’t at fault for what you did. It wasn’t for an evil reason.”

“Yes, I am,” he said despondently. “It was my greed and pride that doomed us.”

Carefully, I reached for Devlin and put my arms around him. He tensed at my touch, then relaxed.

“You did the best you could. You aren’t damned.”

“Yes, I am. You have no idea what I’ve done.”

I shifted uneasily.

“And I wouldn’t want you to,” Devlin added, his arms snaking around me loosely. “My ends have always justified the means, no matter what they were. I’ve done great evil in the hope of averting worse evil. Sometimes it worked and sometimes not. Still, it’s likely that given the chance to do my life over, I’d do the same things, make the same choices. I’d find myself here, at this same point in time, a fallen king.”

“In case you’re wondering,” I said deliberately. “I’m waiting for you to add into your speech somewhere that you regret everything you did to me while you were king…um, ruler.”

“I regret hurting you,” Devlin said quickly. “Yet I don’t regret coming for you that night or taking you to Danial.” He looked up at me. “You might not have gone back to Danial after Theo went missing, if I hadn’t. Theoron might not be here. I can’t regret any action of mine that led to him being born.”

I didn’t reply, considering his words.

Devlin laid his head against my chest, and his arms tightened on me slightly. We lay there like that for a few moments, not speaking, then I slipped into sleep.

I woke sometime later when Devlin stirred. According to the bedside clock, it was almost dusk.

“I have only one regret,” Devlin said finally, propping himself up on his elbow, his expression intent.

“What’s that?” I said, covering my yawn with my hand.

“That it wasn’t me you found in your quarry that night,” Devlin said, kissing the back of my hand with cool lips. His golden eyes locked on mine, transfixing me, as he drew my hand away from my face.

He was going to kiss me. My lips parted as my breath caught in my throat.

Where to find Tara:

Goodreads Blog

Facebook Page




Guest Post: The Heretic in Me by Kathleen Maher

In Guest Blogger, writing on May 19, 2013 at 11:01 pm

To quote the very eloquent Kathleen Maher, “Readers’ taste in fiction is so subjective, and the writing of it so difficult, that it still takes all my nerve to continue. Yet I can’t imagine stopping”. This will probably strike a chord with most writers, it certainly does with me, so I am thrilled to be able introduce Kathleen with this great guest post. Welcome Kathleen, and thank you.

Kathleen Maher - AuthorMany thanks to Amelia for giving me this platform to write about my passion, which is writing fiction.

I wanted to write fiction, it seems, as soon as I knew what is was. As a child I could see that fiction presented life as art. It distilled and validated my impressions. In contrast, non-fiction was interesting but rarely affected me to the core.

When I first attempted creative writing in elementary school, I earned praise without knowing why. This encouraged me, but, without guidance, it took years to find my way. I didn’t stop because the challenge of writing fiction filled me with such adrenaline that hours passed like minutes. Readers’ taste in fiction is so subjective, and the writing of it so difficult, that it still takes all my nerve to continue. Yet I can’t imagine stopping.

In the late 1990s, I woke up one morning with the character of Malcolm Tully, the diarist of Diary of a Heretic, at large in my mind. His comical sincerity, self-scrutiny, and hypersensitivity would not let me rest.

Malcolm is a reluctant cult leader, so I researched cults, and as the plot grew palpable (albeit vague as usual) I wrote the first draft. As thoroughly as Malcolm had claimed me, putting his story in words took me five years.

Rewriting has always been especially difficult for me, because sheer passion is not enough to carry it off. So in 2006, I created a blog, named after Malcolm’s diary (Diary of a Heretic), and began rewriting his entries as posts.

Serial online fiction is not especially popular, but serves me well. The form forces me to construct every line toward the conclusion. Online episodes cannot carry a superfluous word, let alone a tangent; few atmospheric descriptions or overwrought introspection. Diary of a Heretic, being a diary, depends on both. But the blog forced me to pick up the pace. Malcolm’s voice remains florid, but the final version, imperfect as it is, improved because of the blog’s forced discipline.

I rewrote Diary of a Heretic many times and put it away, I thought, indefinitely. My husband, who’s a wonderful writer and editor, revived it, because after reading it countless times, he still finds it entertaining. He formatted it for Amazon’s Kindle. Now I am reading it with fresh eyes, and although I see much to improve, I am happy to see my character Malcolm alive on the page.

Much of Malcolm’s diary is unsuitable for a family blog, but here is a short passage that conveys a bit of Malcolm’s (and my) passion:

We both stared at our feet until I couldn’t stand it, and blushing horribly, tried this: “Is it just me or what? Remember when people would say that?”

She smiled, answering, “When I was fourteen, I said, ‘Is it just me or what?’ And, ‘Whatever.’ And, ‘As if.’ ”

“‘As if’ came later, I think.”

We hugged. I pressed my cheek into her hair, which wasn’t as blonde as I remembered it, but much softer and straighter, smooth and reassuring. A veil of pure silk dried in balmy air after a fresh rain. I rubbed my cheek there and my hand played with the feminine waves. A sigh escaped and she pulled away. “I missed you, too, Malkie.”

…I never know what’s going to bring on a crying jag. “Is it just me or what?” was never, before or after its currency, said in earnest. People never said it unless they were referring to something indisputable, guaranteed to draw consensus.

So which do you think? Is it just me or does the irreversibility of time never let up? Is it just me or are there days when you, too, can’t get past every moment lost? I want every moment back: The good because they passed too fast, and the bad because perhaps with another chance, I could make them right.

Kathleen Maher is the author of Diary of a Heretic, a novel available on Amazon Kindle, and Underground Nest, a novella available in most e-book formats. She is a lifelong writer, with a number of short stories published in literary journals, print and online. Her fiction has won finalist and semi-finalist status in numerous literary contests, including the Iowa School of Letters Award for Short Fiction, and the Drue Heinz Literature Prize. Her blog, Diary of a Heretic (, features serialized short stories and novellas.

Amazon’s Author Page
Diary of a Heretic on Kindle
Underground Nest on Kindle
Facebook Author’s Page
Twitter: @kathleenmaher

Underground Nest Book CoverDiary of a Heretic Book Cover

Spotlight: Hearts for Sale! A Buyer’s Guide to Winning in Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, Guest Blogger on May 10, 2013 at 5:30 pm

I think the best introduction I can give to this immensely readable and inspiring book is to quote one of the many 5 star reviews it has received.

“Farzana Marie has done a HUGE service to us all, first by having been there in Afghanistan, serving the Afghan peoples and building the kind of rapport and respect that she talks about in the book. Second, she has told her story beautifully and tactfully, letting us experience a bit of the wonder of connecting two very distinct cultures and peoples using some very simple and thoughtful approaches. Third, she has provided a clear map of how to move forward towards a truly helpful, respectful and supportive relationship between our two countries that could actually make a difference! I’m sharing this opportunity with others. Everyone should read this book.” ~ John Hervey 

Hearts for Sale: A Buyer’s Guide to Winning in Afghanistan by Farzana Marie - Featured post on Carte Blanche by Amelia Curzon
Hearts for Sale: A Buyer’s Guide to Winning in Afghanistan is a powerful blend of story and strategic insight, Farzana Marie provides a unique and timely perspective on the conflict in Afghanistan. Realistic and optimistic, she draws on over ten years of personal connection with Afghanistan, including two years deployed as a U.S. Air Force officer, to urge clear thinking and action in the national interests of both the United States and Afghanistan. Arguing that it is not too late for humble, victorious partnership with Afghanistan, “Hearts for Sale!” advocates a vision-oriented, rather than numbers-oriented U.S. policy approach that honors the profound sacrifices made and heeds the desires of informed citizens.
In these pages, Farzana tells true stories of her engagement team’s 350 plus missions around Afghanistan, including a near-miss motorcycle accident, a gutsy trip to the Panjshir Valley to visit Massoud’s grave, an unusual ceremony at the Governor’s mansion in Herat, the infamous “bread incident,” and “Lunch with the Taliban.” Placing these stories in the context of poorly understood realities about the conflict in Afghanistan, Farzana clarifies why Americans should care about what happens there, makes the resounding case for the possibility of positive outcomes, and gives clear recommendations for how to achieve them.
“Amazing. I never heard such hopeful words from Afghanistan!”  ~ Andrew Strauss
“Farzana offers us a deeply strategic analysis combined with heartrending stories of triumph in human strife and war. I do not use the word lightly, but there is genius at work here; the blending of intellect and emotion is poetic and brilliant.”  ~ Emma Rhodes

Farzana2About the author:
Farzana Marie is a student working on her PhD in Middle Eastern Literature at the University of Arizona’s School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies.  Her research focuses on Persian literature, especially Afghan women’s poetry.  She also writes and translates poetry.  She holds a B.S. in the Humanities from the U.S. Air Force Academy and an M.A. in English from the University of Massachusetts, Boston.  She served as an active duty officer for over six years, including two consecutive years of deployed service in Afghanistan (2010-2012), where she previously served as a volunteer teacher in Afghanistan orphanages (2003-2004).  It was in 2003 that she received the gift of her Afghan name, Farzana, which has since become her writing name and part of her identity.
Farzana is the President of Civil Vision International, a non-profit charitable organization focused on positively influencing international relationships through connecting, informing, educating and inspiring citizens.
Hearts for Sale book cover
 Hearts for Sale is available to buy on
100% of the proceeds will go to Civil Vision International, the non-for-profit organization that Farzana Marie is President of.

Guest Blogger Invitation

In Guest Blogger on May 7, 2013 at 12:18 am

Carte Blanche by Amelia Curzon

Hi everyone,
If you are looking for some extra exposure for your work, I now have open guest spots on my blogs again.  If you would like to take part, you can contact me at amelia(dot)curzon(at)gmail(dot)com  I love meeting and working with other Bloggers, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Here is the link to my other blog, for you to check out.

You can also see the varied and talented work of my fantastic past guests by scrolling down to the bottom of the page on both. Feel free to ask for availability on either blog.

Guest Blogging Submission Guidelines

Mungai and the Goa Constrictor by Amelia Curzon Book Cover

A Heart Full of Horses by Kandy Kay Scaramuzzo

In Horse Rescue on March 28, 2013 at 10:04 pm

Kandy Kay Scaramuzzo - Guest Blogging on Carte Blanche by Amelia Curzon

There is something totally primal about the connection between horses and people.  Alexander the Great thought so much of his horse he made it a senator.  Napoleon would only ride one horse into battle.  General Robert E. Lee’s horse, Traveler is almost as famous as he is in the history books.  All these examples may seem a bit off to someone who has never had horses in their lives, but to me they totally make sense.  I don’t think I would go so far as to make any of my horses public officials but some of them are definitely influential by being merchants of hope.  The thing about riding only one horse into battle makes perfect sense to me. There are some horses you are just more comfortable on than others.  I love John Wayne’s quote, “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway”.   Been there and done that one also. So what is it about these magnificent and delicate critters that make a seemingly normal person turn into a “Horse Diva”?

I am a seventh generation Texan so I guess I am just doomed in the old DNA locker to be programmed to adore horses.  I have always loved them but was never able to actually own any until my adulthood. I guess it was worth the wait because now I can keep them. As a youngster finances were never my strong suit and I would hate to have them and lose them because of something stupid I did. I can totally understand the recklessness of youth, because we were all young and dumb at some time, even though we don’t want to admit it. That being said, I have absolutely no patience with the stupid, yes, I said the word, actions of adults who should know better.  I guess that is what drew me to horse rescues.

Dusty the rescue horse featured on Carte Blanche by Amelia Curzon

Dusty when he first came to stay

My first horse I rescued was a massive brute about 16.1 and large-boned. He was actually woolly like a musk ox in the winter.   When I first saw Dusty he was in a barn alleyway with his head down heaving to breath into a fan on a hot summer day.  This is the barn where we boarded my daughter’s horse.  I was concerned so I asked about the horse. I was told that he had foundered, and they were waiting to see if he would survive this one.  For those of you that don’t know, founder is a very serious condition that affects a horse’s hooves and circulation.  It is potentially deadly. A horse that goes from founder suffers miserably and slowly.  Many times it can be corrected by special shoes, sometimes nothing can be done because the bone rotates through the foot.

I asked why he didn’t have shoes on, and they didn’t want to waste money on the expensive shoes if he wasn’t going to make it. They really didn’t think he would because he had foundered five times that year alone. I found out later they kept taking off the special shoes.  I visited the horse every day and he got to where he looked for me. He was still in the alleyway and still heaving for breath. This went on for about a week. I couldn’t stand it anymore and asked if they would sell him. Of course, they would, that is why they brought him to the stable in the first place.  I promptly bought him for 1800.00 with the stipulation that if he died, there would be no refund.

Dusty the rescue horse featured on Carte Blanche by Amelia Curzon

Dusty six months later

I called the farrier and he came out that same day and fitted him with special shoes. That made standing for the guy a little easier. I had a fan in his stall and fed him the best quality hay.  I even went in and sifted the sand in his stall so no rocks would get into his sensitive feet.  They told me when I bought him, he was 12, I found out later he was every bit of 25. He was my first old guy rescue.  Turns out he also had Cushing’s disease, which is brought about by acute cases of founder.  That was what was causing his really shaggy coat in the winter.  Under my care, Dusty Krow Horse recovered. He never foundered again while I had him.

I used Dusty as a trail horse and we had a few issues to work out. Whenever the terrain would change from flatlands, he would buck. He didn’t get me off all of the time but if you’ve ever been bucked by a large horse, you know that can hurt as much as hitting the ground. The shockwaves through your body are felt for days. I guess it is like whiplash.  We worked it out where I would dismount and walk beside him up or down the hills. He stayed right with me and stood quietly for me to mount when the ground was level again.  A lot of people made fun of us, but I didn’t care, I knew the old man had a reason for his actions and I honored that he trusted me.

Several years later Dusty started dragging one of his hind legs when he walked. I had the vet x-ray and he told me that his hip had been broken completely in two and had healed crooked.  The horse should never had been sold has a ride able animal.  It was then I understood why Dusty could not take anything other than flat terrain.  Dusty was retired on that day to never be ridden again, but he was loved and cared for until his death five years after I got him. The old horse had given me everything he had and then some. It was the least I could do for him. I found out later that the Cushing’s should have done him in years before, but he hung on and had a few good years at the end.

The last couple of years were rough. He had to have more and more special shoes. He couldn’t shed his winter coat so we had to shave it for him, but he never gave up being that special boy that adored me whenever I came to the barn.  We lost Dusty to a brain tumor that was caused by the Cushing’s, but I was so glad that I was there to give him those last five years of happiness.  I shudder to think what would have happened to him if I had left him.  It wasn’t a dramatic rescue on TV or in the courts, but it was rescue all the same.

I have continued to bring in rescue horses from bad situations, some I outright buy and some are just handed over.  These horses become part of me and I love them for it. The emotions involved are intense and you can lose them in a heartbeat, but the joy they give me while they are here knows no bounds.  I take a page out of Dusty’s book, I give them everything I have and then some and they do the same. I can’t even imagine another way of life. A friend told me that my horses are my heart; I guess she knows me pretty well, because they are just that, my heart.

Here are some more of my beloved rescues. Hover over the images to find out who they are.

Payable Doc - A rescue horse featured on Carte Blanche By Amelia Curzon Rebel- A rescue horse featured on Carte Blanche by Amelia CurzonDurango and Pie, pasture buddies featured on Carte Blanche by Amelia CurzonBiography

Kandy Kay Scaramuzzo is a seventh generation Texan who has her own brick at The Cowgirl Museum. She has taught in alternative education for over twenty years. Ms.Scaramuzzo is a member of the 2012 Strathmore’s Who’s Who. She has a BA in Criminology and MAedCT. She works in horse, dog, cat and snake rescues. Ms. Scaramuzzo has been a tester observer for therapy dogs for nine years. She ran a therapy horse riding program for autistic children for five years. She has been a recognized animal behaviorist for over 20 years. This is her first book about an exceptional horse. She feels it is important Ceasar bowing for treats featured on Carte Blanche by Amelia Curzonto give back to maintain the balance of a civilized society.

Pie | An Old Brown Horse by Kandy Kay Scaramuzzo– Book Description

This is the story of a twenty five year old ranch horse that was injured and pretty much left to die. He was brought to a stable and sold, even though no one really expected him to survive. He was reborn into a merchant of hope. His amazing spirit and calmness  helped many people over the next 13 years as he became the most amazing mentor and therapy horse. This is Pie’s story as he tells it about the most amazing second chance at life and his travels through it. You will meet his person, a shy young girl who he helps grow into adulthood. He will introduce you to the other horses and people that helped shape his journey. His influence has known no bounds throughout this last 13 years and he continues to shine his light even at the ripe old age of 38. This is a feel good story about life, love, second chances and giving back.

Pie - An Old Brown Horse - Book Cover

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I’ll Take Manhattan by Diane Cimine

In Guest Blogger, New York on March 20, 2013 at 10:57 pm

Diane Cimine I’m a New Yorker, born & bred. But I’m not who you think I am, nor is the town I call my home.  You see we tend to get a bad rap or at best, are seen through distorted lenses.  Visitors are whisked into midtown, surrounded by grime and blaring horns.  And the lights! Vegas doesn’t hold a candle to Times Square when all the signs are fired up. Some love it.  Personally, I don’t.  It’s garish and crude and frankly, easy to replicate.  Most importantly, it’s not really Manhattan.

Times Square  - Guest post by Diane Cimine on Carte Blanche by Amelia Curzon

The true Manhattan reveals itself in unexpected ways, gradually over time. It’s a kaleidoscope of cultures, each with their own neighborhood and foods and customs.  There is truly something – and someplace – for everyone. And perhaps most surprising, it can be a great place to live.

Not that I’ve always lived here.  On the brink of parenthood, my husband and I fled the city to a lovely village in the northern suburbs for all the reasons parents do: more space, open land, great schools.  We found this and more, though as life goes, many things changed over the next decade.  We moved homes three times, not counting a year long stint in London.  Our little boy soon grew up and our marriage dissolved, though I stayed on in Irvington, in hopes of providing stability.

My return to New York came about rather suddenly.  In 2002, my son moved to Boston for college and I was home alone, launching my communications consultancy, while managing through treatments for breast cancer.  While I loved my beautiful home, I was beginning to feel isolated in a world where I no longer fit.

Then a casual conversation at the tail end of a holiday party changed everything.  A neighbor was looking for a house just like mine, and made an offer I couldn’t refuse, provided I could vacate in 2 months.  I was equal parts exhilarated and terrified.  A brand new path had opened wide and I knew it was time to come home.

Moving day was glorious and as I traveled down the highway to my downtown digs, I felt like a kid again.  The energy was palpable along the early spring streets and I was smitten by the sounds and sight. “It’s good to live it again- the gleaming rooftops at sundown… It lifts you up when you’re down” cooed Billie Holiday in Autumn in New York, one of my favorite tunes.

I was snap happy that first year back, photographing everything, finding wonder and beauty at every turn.  It was a vibrant time downtown with much effort turned on revitalizing the area in the wake of 9/11 and I was a sponge lapping it up.

Chinese New Year, ChinatownWhy the exuberance?

Because it’s all here – the breath of it and best of it, round the clock and across the calendar. Of course, there is theater and art and music of every measure – enough to make your head spin, much of it for free.  But did you know we have parklands galore  and greenways being built every day?

New York is an incredibly green city – surprisingly so! I live in America’s first residential green tower, built to LEED Gold specifications, utilizing natural energy sources and materials throughout.  We face the Hudson River, where you can picnic in summer on the lawns of Rockefeller Park, take in musical events and Queen Mary passes Staten Island Ferry, New York Harborwatch elegant sailboats and majestic cruise ships waft by.

Certainly, Central Park is our main oasis with 250 acres of lawns, 24,000 trees, 150 acres of lakes and streams and 80 acres of woodlands, but in the last decade, the city has revitalized other grand parks that had fallen into disrepair.

You can run or bike or blade 13 uninterrupted miles along the Hudson River on our Greenways.  You can take free ferry rides to Staten Island that pass the Statue of Liberty and provide iconic views of Lower Manhattan – or you can visit the newly opened Governor’s Island, a historic preserve first conquered by the Dutch Washington Square Parkin 1624.

And if you’d just rather meander, there’s the new High Line, a public park built on an historic freight rail line elevated above Manhattan’s West Side in the Chelsea Art District, where regularly changing exhibits compete for your attention with the local birds and mixed architecture.

New York is meant for walking. I’ve been without a car for 7 years now and rarely miss it. Wherever I can’t get on foot, the subway takes me or if it’s late and I’m tired, there are always plentiful cabs.  We’re a city on the go and one that trulyView from the High Line never sleeps.

Clearly, I could go on and on – but I won’t and I can’t, since I’d need well more than a blog post to do the topic justice.

Those blind to New York’s charms shake their head when they see the size of my apartment, wondering how I manage – and why.  It’s all about access I tell them! You can’t possibly be lonely or bored living here.  Life indeed happens beyond your front door.

Next week marks 10 years that I’ll have been back. It’s been the best of times and the worst of times.   I’ve lived through major blackouts and monster storms. I’ve tasted fame and fortune. I’ve loved and lost. Yet my life has been all the richer for it and as I stand on the brink of another chapter, a friend’s Facebook post says it all:

“Once you have lived in New York and made it your home, no place else is good enough.” ― John Steinbeck

Sadly, I’ve learned – that’s so.


Winter Garden, World Financial Center

Diane Cimine fancies herself a renaissance woman whose broad interests defy categorization. With university degrees in philosophy and mathematics, she has held executive positions at major corporations, ad agencies and media associations before launching her own communications consultancy in 2002.  She loves to capture life on film or paper and is a certified yoga instructor, teaching a weekly class to cancer survivors.




Tea for Two by Diane Cimine

In Guest Blogger, Poetry on February 14, 2013 at 5:51 pm

Diane Cimine featured on Carte Blanche by Amelia CurzonI lost my dear brother to cancer a few months ago.  He had been living in New York with his partner of 7 years, and while oceans apart we have supported each other in our grief.  Recently she shared a poem she wrote in her bereavement group and it so touched me, I asked if I might post it here on my blog. Although it takes many forms, grief is a universal language.

Tea for Two

When are you coming home?
You’ve been away too long
I’ve pruned and polished every corner
Sifting and sorting the useful from the never used and badly worn
Making more space, allowing more light

You’d be proud how I managed to work the DAC
See – I was watching when you thought I couldn’t care less about
Your Audio System
True – I’d rather be outside in the sun, running through the rain
It makes me feel alive

But tea for 2 at 4 was our place in the middle
You’d ask ‘shall I put on the kettle?’ which would always make me laugh
Just make the tea, please and pour it into the matching cups
Blue calm elephant for you
Black hyper elephant for me

We’d sit silently, serene and content
Nowhere to go, nothing to do, a simple perfect moment that wove us together
It’s 4pm now and I’ve put on the kettle
One cup sits waiting rather than two
When are you coming home?

Diane Cimine – 2013

Elephant Teacups

Guest Post: Read, Reflect, Review by Cathy Speight

In Guest Blogger, Reviewing on December 9, 2012 at 12:01 am

I am absolutely thrilled to introduce my latest Guest Blogger, book reviewer Cathy Speight. In this wonderfully informative post, Cathy shares some very constructive tips, and much of her own wisdom, on the criteria which make for a good review and a good reviewer. A very big welcome to you, Cathy!  And thank you so much for accepting my invitation to be my guest here.

Hello everyone!

Well, I won’t bore you with a long and dreary bio, but just so that you know a little about me, my name is Cathy Speight, I live in Bristol, UK, am married, have twin daughters, and three (nearly four) grandchildren.  I opted for retirement four Cathy Speight Reviewer Guest Blogging on aecurzon.wordpress.comyears ago when the company I worked for relocated to London and then last year, I did two things:  I signed up to Facebook (I’m a late developer), and I bought myself a Kindle.  Those two things are actually how I find myself here.  Thank you, Amelia, very much indeed for inviting me along.

The Kindle revolutionised my reading.  After only one eBook  I was well and truly hooked, and I joined a number of Facebook book groups where I met a hitherto unknown (to me) group of people:  indie authors.  I discovered an Aladdin’s Cave of indie books, got chatting to lots of authors and—long story short—I found myself creating my own review blog.  For me, clicking the last page of the book wasn’t quite The End. Complete closure was writing about what I thought of the book.  And lo, Cath ‘n’ Kindle Book Reviews was born—an album or an anthology of all my Kindle books.

Having reviewed for a couple of book-reviewing sites, I picked up some very useful hints about writing reviews, and together with what I personally like to see, I’d like to share those elements I believe make a good review and offer some ‘tips and wrinkles’ (where did that expression come from?) about becoming a reviewer:

  • Read the book from beginning to end (not as obvious as it sounds!) and carefully. (I have been known to read a page three times if I thought I hadn’t read every word).
  • Were the characters well-conceived, varied enough, did you like the heroes/heroines?
  • The plot—was it well-structured? Were there any loose threads?
  • Did you like the author’s style—was it suited to the genre?
  • The pace of the story—too fast, too slow?
  • Did it evoke any emotions? Did you cry or laugh?
  • Was the dialogue natural?
  • Was it well edited?
  • Would you recommend the book?
  • Would you read another book by the author?
  • A detailed synopsis of the story isn’t too important as there is always one at the point of purchase—but of course, it’s difficult to talk about the book without reference to the story, so keep it short with no spoilers—please, no  spoilers.
  • Try and be sensible about the length of your review—too short, and there are too many unanswered questions for the potential reader: ‘this was a good book, couldn’t put it down, I could relate to the heroine, and loved the ending’ isn’t going to influence a reader very much.  By the same token, if your review is too long—you will lose a reader’s interest—not just in the review, but maybe even in the book.
  • Most importantly, if you expect a well-edited, well-presented book from an author, I feel the very least you can do is give the same in return, so there should be no typos, spelling mistakes, etc.


  • What didn’t you like and why?  This is the most ‘delicate’ part of reviewing. Don’t be afraid to say if you didn’t like a book—but be constructive, try to be helpful, and above all, don’t be nasty or abusive.  Not liking the book because you didn’t like the subject matter is, well, a bit of a non-starter.  Don’t read a book in a genre you know you don’t like or deals with a subject in which you have no interest or would prefer not to read about;  you just won’t be able to give an objective review

Try to take a bigger-picture view.  Not long ago, I posted a review on Amazon of what I thought was an excellent book. I discovered nearly 60 reviews, most of them good. I don’t often read reviews after I’ve read a book, but I was intrigued (and surprised) by the one- and two-star reviews. I thought it was a very good book, how could it possibly be worth only one or two stars? Had these readers put their reviews on the wrong page? Of course, we all have different tastes, and one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, but when I looked at these reviews more closely I thought they were a tad harsh.

The review was for a detective thriller. Amongst others, there were comments about certain issues that would never have happened in real life. Well, no, quite possibly that was true, but this is fiction. Isn’t that part of why we read? To escape from an ordinary real life? Isn’t that true of all entertainment, films, and drama shows? How many times have you said to yourself, yeah, like that really happens. But it’s drama, so we cut a little slack. Because it’s all good fun. Poetic licence is allowed.

Every book that lands in my lap for review is to me an extraordinary achievement by another human being and one I could never accomplish.

So before slapping one star on a book you didn’t like, it’s worth taking a moment to step back and reflect how that book got to be on your Kindle/eReader. It didn’t just happen. It may have taken years of hard work and dedication, first by the author and then a team of people doing their best, both parties keen to continue to improve in their respective crafts.  A little encouragement is one of the things that helps this process along.

A very handy tip for authors when they self-edit, is to step back from their potential bestselling masterpiece for a few weeks, even months, before rereading it.  A little break before writing a review is something I also advise.  Not weeks, though:  if you’re anything like me, I’ve forgotten characters’ names almost as soon as I’ve dived into the next book.  But after a few days, it’s surprising how differently you feel about a book.  I have sometimes upgraded from a two-star rating to a four-star rating after having had a few days to ‘digest’.

Judging by the number of books I have waiting to be read and reviewed, it would appear that there can never be enough reviewers!  Your to-be-reviewed list will grow rapidly to almost daunting proportions. Authors—especially indie authors—surf the ‘net searching for book reviewers and their blogs, and if their searches find you, you’ll be overwhelmed by requests.  Keeping to the genres you like (but don’t be afraid to try one you think you might) will keep your review list to a manageable level (says she whose TBR is quite off the radar).

Finally and most importantly, enjoy yourself: have fun writing your reviews, start a review blog, and share them!

Cath ‘n’ Kindle Book Reviews

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