Thursday, May 25, 2017

Aloha to Luda Gogolushko and INCLUDAS Publishing

The most rewarding experience at the RT Booklovers Convention is meeting other readers who inspire. Luda Gogolushko, founder of INCLUDAS Publishing, is one such individual.  From her bio (link),

Luda holds a BS in Recreation and a MA in Communication Studies from California State University of Northridge (CSUN), where she conducted an auto ethnographical study entitled, “Negotiating Space: An Autoethnography on Wheels.” The study found that: the chair is accommodated, but the person is segregated; the world is designed for the able-bodied population by the able-bodied; spaces and places hold nonverbal signs that either hold messages of exclusion or messages of inclusion; language and signs that are used to label someone as ‘disabled’ are inaccurate.

Born with muscular dystrophy, Luda Gogolushko has lived her entire life with limited mobility. Losing the full ability to walk at age nine, due to gradual weakness of the muscles, she has never stopped dreaming big. There is nothing easy about living life for someone who uses a wheelchair in a world run by the fully mobile-bodied population, but she is determined to present a different way of living, understanding, and interacting with the world.

“My goal is not to reshape perspective, my goal is to restructure thinking because that is when a new sense of culture begins to emerge.”

I invited Luda for a cozy chat ....

Kim: We love travel here at SOS Aloha! California - what is your favorite sight, sound, and smell of the Golden State?

Luda: I am currently in southern California and I love the warm weather to go swimming, the freshness of outdoor hiking, and the sounds of the crashing waves on the beach.

Kim:  I enjoyed meeting you at RT - what inspired you to attend RT? What were your expectations? What did you learn from RT?

Luda: RT 2017 was actually my second RT, and last year my first, conference as a newbie trying to research and get an understanding of the book world, with not much thought that is was a romance convention, but I learned a lot, nonetheless. This year was to learn even more, experience the culture of romance land, and see some old faces from last year. I attended a few socials, sessions on the business side of things, publishing trends, and tips of strengthening writing.

Kim: Equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) are buzz words in our society today. What do those words mean to you? How can readers promote EDI in their every day lives?

Luda: Equality, diversity, and inclusion are current hot topics, and a few years when the buzz first started, I was excited because for once I wouldn't have to fight to be included. But I quickly learned that that did not mean inclusion for someone with limited mobility was part of that buzz, so it wasn't hard to spot the need for advocacy for the disability community. In sum, for me, EDI means fostering a safe space for everyone to feel welcomed and valued at. Readers can promote EDI by every day interactions of treating everyone with respect and kindness, because at the end of the day, we're all humans who have feelings, emotions, and dreams. The minute that segregation--whether mentally, socially, or physically--transforms into integration, we can be a stronger nation, together.

Kim: Tell us about INCLUDAS Publishing - how can we support you?

Luda: INCLUDAS Publishing is a press dedicated to representing authors who identify with a particular ability status, as well as main characters (or content of a book, in general) of a story who have a disability. Support comes from being open and excited about diversity because I personally am always not sure how the public will react or not react; will it be of importance to them at the end of the day or not? If someone wants to get involved with INCLUDAS or its mission, send an email to inquiries [@] (or of course, if you want some cool swag and braille stickers).

Kim: What's next for Luda Gogolushko?

Luda: The next big adventure is going to the SCBWI conference in July, in Los Angeles (kid's book stuff, since majority of our books are kid's related). We are also looking for submissions for a cookbook project (info at, so submit if you have any recipes or kitchen accommodation tricks. And of course, getting ready to launch our first few books next year.

Mahalo, Luda, for joining us today! I am giving away a sample of books and swag from the RT Booklovers Convention.  To enter the giveaway,

1. Let's chat about Luda's home state of California - what do you love about the Golden State?  I enjoyed my visit to San Diego last summer - just gorgeous!

2. Comments are open through Sunday, May 28, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3. I'll post the winner on Monday, May 29.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

A seagull in La Jolla .... 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Aloha to Weekly Winners, Roger Moore, and James Bond

We have winners at SOS Aloha - Library Pat and Carol L. win a book choice from my convention stash!

I wasn't sure what I would feature today ... until I read the news about Roger Moore's passing at age 89.  He was my first Bond. James Bond.

As a teen, I enjoyed my first Bond movie, THE SPY WHO LOVED ME. At the time, I was intrigued by everything Egypt - my interest was fed by King Tut's world tour of his glorious artifacts. While the movie poster promises Egypt's antiquities, the opening scene takes us to Switzerland and the spectacular parachute jump with the Union Jack.  A few notes on the piano leads to Carly Simon singing ...  

Nobody does it better
Makes me feel sad for the rest
Nobody does it half as good as you
Baby, you're the best.

Roger Moore took Bond in a different direction than his predecessor, Sean Connery.  Moore's Bond was tongue in cheek with spy gadgets, karate chops, and his signature drink - Martini, shaken not stirred.  Moore starred in seven Bond movies - the most of all the Bond actors.  THE SPY WHO LOVED ME remains my favorite with FOR YOUR EYES ONLY as a close second.  What's not to love about the Greek ruins, a take control heroine, and sky high monastery?

Aghia Triatha, Meteora, Greece

After he gave up the Bond role, Moore became a UN Goodwill Ambassador at nudging of his Swiss neighbor, Audrey Hepburn.  Even in his passing, Roger Moore will always be remembered for his twinkling eyes and inviting smile.

I am giving away a book choice from my book stash to one randomly selected commenter. To enter the giveaway,

1. Leave a comment about Roger Moore - did you enjoy him in other roles?  Do you have a favorite Bond movie, location, or song?

2.Comments are open through Sunday, May 28, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3. I'll post the winner on Monday, May 29.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Barbara Bach as Russian Agent Triple X
with Bond in the Karnak Temple
Luxor, Egypt

Friday, May 19, 2017

May is Military Appreciation Month

May is Military Appreciation Month.  Last Friday was Military Spouses Appreciation Day. Tomorrow is Armed Forces Day.   From the Department of Defense (link),

President Harry S. Truman led the effort to establish a single holiday for citizens to come together and thank our military members for their patriotic service in support of our country.

In 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of an Armed Forces Day to replace separate Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force Days.

The single day celebration stemmed from the unification of the Armed Forces under the Department of Defense. 

The National Military Appreciation Month (NMAM) website offers tips on how to appreciate our military families (link) - I added a few of my own suggestions:

1. Display the American Flag at home and work.

2. Engage media to highlight military and veteran events.

3. Send a care package to a soldier through USO Cares (link). Romance author Megan Mitcham is also accepting thank you letters for military/veterans at this link.

4. Encourage elected officials at all levels to recognize our military and veterans.

5. Thank anyone in uniform ... or those who wear military ball caps, T-shirts, etc. Most likely they are a veteran.

6. Hire a veteran.  Support businesses owned and operated by veterans.  

Image result for sos aloha us flag

I am giving away a box of books from authors connected to the military - active duty, veterans, spouses, brats, and other family members.  To enter the giveaway,

1. Can you add to our list of how to appreciate our military families?  Can you recommend any organizations that support military families?  Do you know any businesses operated by veterans?

2. Comments are open through Sunday, May 21, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3. I'll post the winner on Monday, May 22.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Joint Military Color Guard 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Aloha to Ellen Byerrum and the CRIME OF FASHION mystery series


We have a winner from my RT Recaps - Di wins a sample of books and swag from the RT Booklovers' Convention.

During my travels to/from Atlanta, I read several books in Ellen Byerum's mystery series, CRIME OF FASHION.  I started with DESIGNER KNOCKOFF - Book 2 (I now have to find Book 1):

When fashion columnist Lacey Smithsonian learns that a new fashion museum will soon grace decidedly unfashionable D.C., it's more than a good story-it's a chance to show off her vintage Hugh Bentley suit. And it's not long before the dapper designer himself spots Lacey in the crowd. A reporter at heart, she manages to get all the juicy details about his past-including a long-unsolved mystery about a missing employee. Could it be linked to the disappearance of a Washington intern or the recent Bentley boutique robbery? Lacey sets out to unravel the murderous details in a fabric of lies, greed-and (gasp!) very bad taste... 

I suspect Book 1 explains how Lacey Smithsonian became a fashion columnist rather than a roving reporter.  Still, Lacey appreciates vintage fashion courtesy of a steamer trunk she inherited from Aunt Mimi - a woman of good taste in the 1940s. When Lacey needs to think, she opens the trunk, taking a step back into the past and even wears some of the timeless clothes. As such, Lacey "arms" herself to put on a brave face for her "couture" assignments for the Eye Street Observer, Washington's third rate newspaper. Yet hemlines often lead to murder, giving Lacey the opportunity to thread together the fashion clues, landing her to a byline in the crime section.

Lacey lives in Old Town Alexandria. She works in Washington, DC, "the city fashion forgot". Byerrum incorporates all the cliches associated with our nation's capital - corrupt politicians, conspiracy theories, and monochrome suites to create a cozy mystery series that delivers a heroine to cheer. Lacey turns to her eccentric friends to help her dig in to the mystery and dig out of the trouble. Given my proximity to Washington, DC, I enjoy following Lacey in her capital adventures.

Learn more about Ellen and her books at


I am giving away a book choice from my convention stash to one randomly selected commenter.  To enter the giveaway,

1. Have you visited the Nation's Capital?  If so, what was your favorite "thing" to see, experience, or eat? If not, what would you like to see, experience, or eat?

The National Cherry Blossom Festival is a sight to behold each March - the trees were given by the Japanese Government as a symbol of friendship.  Learn more at this link.

2. Comments are open through Sunday, May 21, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3. I'll post the winner on Monday, May 22. 


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Saturday, May 13, 2017

RT Recap - Grand Finale

The Giant Book Fair is the jewel in the crown of the RT Booklovers' Convention.  I swam through the crowds to meet Sara Flynn, the pen name of Meg Tilly.  From Amazon,

She may be best known for her acclaimed Golden Globe-winning lead performance in the movie Agnes of God. However, Meg Tilly is taking on an exciting new persona these days, as debut romance novelist Sara Flynn.

Set on an island in the Pacific Northwest, SOLACE ISLAND tells the suspenseful story of a woman, dumped by her business partner/fiancé during her bachelorette party, who discovers a rewarding new career, romance and threats on her life in an idyllic vacation community. Two more Sara Flynn romances set on Solace Island will follow.

Tilly has three grown children and resides with her husband in the Pacific Northwest. She is currently at work writing that second Solace Island novel.

I chatted with Sara for a few minutes - she is a fan of Lorraine Heath!  I purchased SOLACE ISLAND and look forward to posting a review in the future.


On Sunday morning, as I was exiting the hotel, I spotted Charlaine Harris.  I thanked her for her son's service in the Army.  Outside, as I waited for my cab, I offered to share it with Helen Hardt.  From Goodreads, 

#1 New York Times bestselling author Helen Hardt's passion for the written word began with the books her mother read to her at bedtime. She wrote her first story at age six and hasn’t stopped since. In addition to being an award winning author of contemporary and historical romance and erotica, she’s a mother, an attorney, a black belt in Taekwondo, a grammar geek, an appreciator of fine red wine, and a lover of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. She writes from her home in Colorado, where she lives with her family.

She then noted E.L. James was standing next to us.  Not one to waste an opportunity, I introduced myself to the author of FIFTY SHADES OF GREY.  We chatted about her home in England. I mentioned that my mother hailed from Torquay in Devon.  E.L. paused and replied, "Oh, I had a night in Torquay."  Perhaps we can expect a book in the future about Torquay ...


Thank you, RT Booklovers' Convention, for an action packed week in Atlanta!  

For this week of recaps, I am giving away a sampling of books and swag from RT. To enter the giveaway,

1. Leave a comment about beaches - do you have a favorite?

2. Comments are open through Monday, May 15, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3. I'll post the winner on Tuesday, May 16.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Babbacombe Beach in Torquay - Nicknamed the English Riviera

Friday, May 12, 2017

RT Recap Day 5 - Historical Lunch, Spectacle of Lights, and Awards Ceremony

The best part of RT is spending time with favorite authors!  I invited a group of historical authors to lunch to exchange information about the Historical Romance Retreat (link). Elizabeth Hoyt, Elizabeth Essex, and reader Anna attended last year ... and Anna Harrington, Janna MacGregor, Cathy Maxwell, Kate Pearce and reader Tamara are attending this year.  Rounding out our table was my partner in crime, Kim Rocha, and Author RX founder, Mel Jolly.  A lady never discusses the secrets she hears ...

Fortified with a delicious lunch, I helped set up for Avon Presents A Spectacle of Lights:

Enter a Kaleidoscopic swirl of color and light at Avon's annual party at the RT Booklovers Convention, where special photo stations will be set up for readers to take pictures with their favorite Avon and William Morrow authors. There will be plenty of complimentary books and eBooks for attendees, as well as sweet reading surprises! As always, sweets will be served, and readers can raise a toast to romance as they mix and mingle at this prismatic Friday night party. 

Appearing(s): Ilona Andrews, Jennifer L. Armentrout, Lenora Bell, Viola Carr, HelenKay Dimon, Megan Frampton, Alison Gaylin, Shelley Shepard Gray, Lorraine Heath, Beverly Jenkins, Laura Kaye, Cathy Maxwell, Charis Michaels, Julia Quinn, Alisha Rai, Lia Riley, and Karin Slaughter.

Once the doors opened, I served an an author assistant to ... Cathy Maxwell!

I had just enough time to change for the RT Awards ceremony cohosted by actress-turned-author Meg Tilly and former Mr Romance Mark Johnson.  Meg was wonderful - she truly loves romance books!  I sat next to Lenora Bell who had not eaten ... so I shared my grapes.  I cheered for Lenora, HelenKay Dimon, Lorraine Heath, Cathy Maxwell, and many more.  

Image result for sos aloha flowers

For this week of recaps, I am giving away a sampling of books and swag from RT. To enter the giveaway,

1. Leave a comment about flowers - what is your favorite? Like authors, I love all flowers!

2. Comments are open through Monday, May 15, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3. I'll post the winner on Tuesday, May 16.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Image result for sos aloha flowers

Thursday, May 11, 2017

RT Recap Day 4 - Military Tribute, Avon Romance, and Margaret Mitchell

How about a cowboy to start off the day?  I attended the Librarians/Booksellers' special program - In Conversation with BJ Daniels, Lorelei James, and Lorraine Heath:

Cowboy books have never been more desirable--Meet some of the genre’s biggest stars - they will share personal anecdotes, the history of the genre, where they think it’s headed and how they started out.

Image result for SOS ALOHA COWGIRL

I moseyed on over to the annual SOS Military Tribute:

Our military is the backbone of our country. They pay the price for our freedom through all of their sacrifices. This military tribute is a multi-author-sponsored event to pay a moving tribute to our military and all they have done for our country. This event is open to all. Tables will be decorated by authors representing Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, etc.

Hosts included KaLyn CooperCristin HarberElle JamesCat JohnsonKim Lowe, JM MaddenTrish McCallanDonna MichaelsMegan MitchamCaitlyn O'LearyElla QuinnJulie RoweSusan Stoker, Natasza Waters, and Sabrina York.

It amazes me each year how much readers appreciate our military. Thanks to the authors who made this an emotional event.

Image result for sos aloha military ducks

I reported for duty at the Avon Romance Reader Party - Clinch It:

How daring are you? Find out at this fun game-show style event, which will pair readers with Avon authors in a series of fun challenges, with participation judged by a panel of judges. Earn points for participation! Winners take all ... the books, that is! The winning team will win totes generously stuffed with books and swag, compliments of Avon.

Authors included Lenora Bell, Viola CarrHelenKay DimonMegan FramptonLorraine HeathBeverly JenkinsCathy MaxwellCharis MichaelsAlisha Rai, and Lia Riley.

I was honored to be asked by Pamela Spengler-Jaffee, Senior Director of Publicity for Avon Romance, to serve as a judge along with historical author Beverly Jenkins and editorial director Erika Tsang.  I put my math skills to use as the scorekeeper, too.  Let me tell you this was the best reader party, second only to the SOS Military Tribute. Readers were laughing, singing, posing, and conspiring with the author at their table to win the big prize - a tote bag stuffed with romance books and a bottle of wine! Charis Michaels belted out THE DEVIL WENT DOWN TO GEORGIA to lead her team to victory!


Clearly Avon was on my mind as I followed the historical authors to the Margaret Mitchell House for a special Q&A with Lenora Bell, Megan Frampton, Lorraine Heath, Beverly Jenkins, Cathy Maxwell, and Julia Quinn.  Charis Michaels moderated this lively discussion of historical romance in one of Atlanta's sacred homes.  Thanks, Avon Romance, for a fabulous day!

Margaret Mitchell House 

For this week of recaps, I am giving away a sampling of books and swag from RT. To enter the giveaway,

1. From the authors I have listed in today's blog, who would you like to meet? 

2. Comments are open through Monday, May 15, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3. I'll post the winner on Tuesday, May 16.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Margaret Mitchell House

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

RT Recap Day 3 - Breakfast, Bingo, and Historical Babes

Wednesday brought the first full day of the RT Booklovers Convention. Tamara and I skipped the crush of readers attending the kick off party to enjoy a leisure breakfast in the hotel restaurant - we loved the vegetable hash made from sweet potatoes with a egg on top!  This hardy meal fortified me for BEACH BLANKET BINGO with:

Christi Barth, Julia  Day, Eileen Dreyer, Elizabeth Essex, Avery Flynn, Maggie Mae Gallagher, Andrew Grey, Heidi Hormel, Jessica James, Harper Kincaid, Geri Krotow,Tamra Lassiter, Rae Latte, Ann Lethbridge, Siera London, Janna MacGregor, Stacy McKitrick, Kate Pearce, Ella Quinn, Julie Rowe, Jessica Ruddick (AKA: Jessica Linden), Dawn Ryder, Joanna Shupe, Teri Anne Stanley, and Beth Williamson

Bingo took a back seat to singing - the Historical authors sang Abba's DANCING QUEEN, the spicy authors sang Pat Benetar's FIRE AND ICE, and the contemporary authors sang the Beach Boys' KOKOMO.  Thanks to the authors for joining the fun! 

Once we cleaned up, it was time for an early dinner!  I dined with Tracy Solheim, Kate Pearce, and two other readers at SWEET GEORGIA'S JUKE JOINT (link).  The combination of Southern food and jazz music was the perfect setting for winding down after a busy day. 

After dinner, I peeked into the Romance Rockabilly Street Festival.  Publishers hosted game booths while the band played swing music.  Many readers dressed in polka dots dresses and rolled up jeans. Cathy Maxwell and Heather Graham showed us how to dance!
For this week of recaps, I am giving away a sampling of books and swag from RT. To enter the giveaway,

1. What song would you have sang with authors ... feel free to name any song!  Or what is your favorite Southern food?

2. Comments are open through Monday, May 15, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3. I'll post the winner on Tuesday, May 16.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Below is the historical authors at the Pistols and Petticoats party ... 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

RT Recap Day 2 - Catching Up with Friends

On Tuesday morning, I enjoyed breakfast with Rae Latte, a book blogger in the Washington, DC, area.  Check out her blog at this link. We chatted about her first RT convention last year in Las Vegas ... and what she expected this year in Atlanta. I loved her enthusiasm for all things romance!

I later met KC Bateman (link) for morning coffee.  KC is a British ex-pat now living in the US ... and writing historical romance.  She charmed me with tales from her alter ego as a fine arts appraiser and on screen antique expert for British reality television shows.


I lunched with my roommate, Danielle Gorman, a book blogger who created Ramblings From This Chick (link). She is also an author assistant at Author's Pal (link) - an assistant I recommend!  After lunch, we took the skywalk to the Marriott ... where scenes from the second Hunger Games movie were filmed.

We joined the growing crowd for the first workshop of the week - RT Advantage with Liz Berry, cofounder of 1001 Dark Knights (link). Liz was spot on with her advice for authors - published and aspiring - to make the most of the RT Booklovers Convention. Thanks, Liz, for your guidance!

After hobnobbing in the lobby, I walked over to the Hard Rock Cafe with my sisters in arms - Navy surgeon Tamara W. and Air Force Veteran Julie Day (link).  I was among those who are good with their hands!  Multi-genre author Sara Humphreys (link) stopped by our table to chat.


For this week of recaps, I am giving away a sampling of books and swag from RT. To enter the giveaway,

1. Have you visited any movie or TV locations? Naturally, I toured several locations for Hawaii Five O. And H50 came to Hickam AFB multiple times ... I even spotted LL Cool J at this link for a crossover episode with NCIS: LA.

2. Comments are open through Monday, May 15, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3. I'll post the winner on Tuesday, May 16.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Atlanta Marriott 

Monday, May 8, 2017

RT Recap Day 1 - Aloha to Atlanta

Last Monday, I landed in Atlanta for the annual RT Booklovers' Convention. I spotted several writers on my flight from Baltimore, including Laura Kaye. I sat next to Michelle (an aspiring author) who offered a ride to the hotel with her pick up driver, Siera London. Thank you, Siera, my sister in arms as a Navy Veteran!

After settling into my room, and connecting with other bloggers, we walked over to Poor Calvin's Eatery.  

The Restaurant

Established in November 2012, Poor Calvin’s is a unique oasis in Downtown Atlanta that offers a rare cuisine of Thai fusion with Southern influences. Originally from Vietnam but raised and classically trained in Germany, owner and chef Calvin Phan has brought his perspective of international culinary fusion to the front line of Poor Calvin’s. 

Owner and Chef

Chef Calvin Phan was exposed to the restaurant business at an early age, having come from a family who owned several restaurants, of all calibers, in Europe. After completing his training, Phan worked as a chef in Switzerland for two years before moving to Georgia; where he opened and ran a Thai restaurant in Statesboro for 3 1/2 years before moving up to Atlanta in November to work within a larger scale.

The food was fabulous, the company entertaining, and the waiter could have been a cover model. In fact, I invited him to mingle at the hotel and hand out his business card!  

Thanks to Kim Rocha, Book Obsessed Chicks, for the restaurant recommendation! 

For this week of recaps, I am giving away a sampling of books and swag from RT.  To enter the giveaway,

1. What would you name your restaurant?  What would be your specialty?

I would hire a Hawaiian chef to offer Pan Pacific dishes in A PINEAPPLE IN PARADISE.

2. Comments are open through Monday, May 15, 10 pm in Baltimore. 

3. I'll post the winner on Tuesday, May 16.


Kim in Baltimore 
Aloha Spirit in Charm City