Thursday, April 13, 2017

What IS Invasion of Privacy?

Even if you've never listened to a podcast in your life, you may have heard of this one:

It was only six episodes of about a half an hour each, but Missing Richard Simmons made a huge impact. It was the top podcast in iTunes for much of its run and it put the fitness guru back in the news.

Spoiler alert: Richard Simmons isn't being held against his will. He isn't ill or transitioning or any of the other "theories" the podcast explored. As he said in a statement last June, he simply wants to live quietly

Missing Richard Simmons was created by Dan Taberski, a former Daily Show producer and customer at Simmons' fitness studio. Taberski, calling himself a "friend," claimed genuine concern for the celebrity as he dug into this "mystery."

Simmons and Taberski

Simmons has confirmed he's okay. Police have conducted welfare checks and confirmed he's okay. His spokesperson has repeatedly confirmed he's okay. Yet the podcast attempted to get to the heart of this "mystery" and possibly draw Simmons out of retirement. (Because people are "missing Richard Simmons"...get it?)

The question is, at what point are we just invading someone's privacy for our own entertainment? Tabloids and legitimate news sources have dug into the lives of celebrities for years, occasionally even after they've left the spotlight. With a podcast, though, it goes beyond a simple news story...or does it?

This story does have a twist, though. Earlier this week, Simmons' manager announced the celebrity has signed a merchandising deal and may emerge from hiding soon.

Does it feel like an invasion of privacy now???

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Introducing Lies We Tell by Kelly Hashway

First, I have to thank those who helped me with my blog tour last week. It was so much fun!!! And today, I get to congratulate Shirley, Sandy, and Lidy Wilkes, who each won free signed copies of Piper Morgan Makes a Splash.

And now...on to today's post!

Kelly Hashway is a prolific and talented writer whose books I always look forward to reading. This month, I get to add this one to my to-read pile...and I think you should, too! We're celebrating release week with her today, so be sure to scroll down and read all about her new book, Lies We Tell.


Madison Kramer thought her past was behind her. With a new name and a career as a best-selling author, what could go wrong?

She never expected Trevor Lockhardt to walk into her book signing, offering his services as her publicist, or that she’d end up falling for him. But what she really didn’t expect was a stalker sending her messages, both written and in the form of dead bodies.

Madison can’t escape her parents’ murder any longer. But is it their killer coming to finish what he started fifteen years ago? How long can she keep her past a secret before her lies come back to get her?

Add it on Goodreads.

Buy Links:

Amazon | iBooks B&N Kobo


Kelly Hashway fully admits to being one of the most accident-prone people on the planet, but that didn’t stop her from jumping out of an airplane at ten thousand feet one Halloween. Maybe it was growing up reading R.L. Stine’s Fear Street books that instilled a love of all things scary and a desire to live in a world filled with supernatural creatures, but she spends her days writing speculative fiction. Kelly’s also a sucker for first love, which is why she writes romance under the pen name Ashelyn Drake. When she’s not writing, Kelly works as an editor, and also as Mom, which she believes is a job title that deserves to be capitalized.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Introducing My Seventh-Grade Life in Tights by Brooks Benjamin

A guy at a children's book writing conference is about as rare as a Bigfoot or UFO sighting. But Brooks Benjamin is not only a successful middle grade author, he's also everywhere. Attend a book event in the Midsouth and you'll see him there!

Today, Brooks is celebrating the paperback release of his first novel. I've been so excited to read this one, so I figured to take the opportunity to help give his big release a push. You have to admit this is one intriguing title! Scroll down to read all about it and order your copy.


Football hero. Ninja freestyler. It's seventh grade. Anything is possible.

All Dillon wants is to be a real dancer. And if he wins a summer scholarship at Dance-Splosion, he’s on his way. The problem? His dad wants him to play football. And Dillon’s freestyle crew, the Dizzee Freekz, says that dance studios are for sellouts. His friends want Dillon to kill it at the audition—so he can turn around and tell the studio just how wrong their rules and creativity-strangling ways are.

At first, Dillon’s willing to go along with his crew’s plan, even convincing one of the snobbiest girls at school to work with him on his technique. But as Dillon’s dancing improves, he wonders: what if studios aren’t the enemy? And what if he actually has a shot at winning the scholarship?  

Dillon’s life is about to get crazy . . . on and off the dance floor in this kid-friendly humorous debut by Brooks Benjamin.

Buy Links:


In sixth grade, Brooks Benjamin formed a New Kids on the Block tribute dance crew called the New Kidz. He wasn’t that good at dancing. But now he’s got a new crew—his wife and their dog. They live in Tennessee, where he teaches reading and writing and occasionally busts out a few dance moves. He’s still not very good at it.

Author Links:

Monday, April 10, 2017

Mystery Monday: Brian Shaffer

It's Monday, which means it's time for another...

Barhopping is one of the most dangerous things a young person can do. So many of the missing persons/mysterious death cases I hear about happened while a young person was partying late at night with friends. Such is the case with today's mystery, which takes us back to 2006, when a man with a very promising future headed out on the town with friends:

Brian Shaffer was a 27-year-old second-year medical school student at Ohio State University. He and his girlfriend, Alexis, were leaving the next morning for Florida on spring break. Some have said they thought he might have been planning to propose on that trip.

At approximately 9pm on March 31, Brian met up with his friend Clint for a night out on the town. This was something they did on a regular basis. Alexis was spending the weekend with her family. When she spoke with him on the phone, everything seemed normal.

Image credit: Dateline NBC

Brian and Clint visited several bars, drinking at each, before heading to the Ugly Tuna Saloona, a seafood restaurant in Colombus, Ohio.

A camera was set up at the entrance to capture those coming up the escalator that led to the restaurant. The camera captured Brian, Clint, and Clint's friend Meredith. Brian was in front, leaning on the handrail.

Inside, Brian ran into some girls he knew and was "doing his usual thing and was talking to those two girls," Clint says. At 1:55 am, Brian appeared on the video for the last time. He was talking to some girls at the front, near two security guards. The camera catches him walking back toward the restaurant. He's never seen again.

A few minutes later, it was closing time. Clint and Meredith searched the entire restaurant for him and couldn't find him. They said the last time they'd seen him, he was heading to the stage to talk to the band.

Assuming he'd left, they went home. The next morning, his girlfriend repeatedly tried to reach him. They were supposed to be at the airport for a morning flight. He didn't show up.

Since that night, there has been no activity on his credit cards or cell phone. But the biggest mystery of all? How did he get out of the bar? There were cameras at every exit and police have scrutinized every second of tape--no sign of him leaving the bar.

There was one exit without a camera...but it required navigating through an area that was heavily under construction. Would he have gone out that way on his own? Why?

Police believe it was foul play. Even if he'd walked out on his own, the trip back to his apartment would involve walking through a rough neighborhood, drunk, alone. But true crime fans like to believe missing people like Brian simply walk away to start a new life somewhere.

What do you think happened to Brian Shaffer?