Thursday, October 1, 2015

Vegas to Varanasi and Menopause to Matrimony by Shelly Hickman (VNBtM, guest post, excerpt and GIVEAWAY) GFT

I have the pleasure of sharing words from author Shelly Hickman who muses...

SH:  I’ve been trying to think of an interesting topic for my guest post here, so I started perusing some of my older writing to see if I could find anything the least bit relevant to my tour. Thankfully, I stumbled upon something I wrote as a sample for a poetry assignment I gave my students back when I taught fifth grade. (I now teach middle school.)
Kiran, the male lead in my Fortytude series, was overweight and bullied as a teenager, and he still deals with the lingering effects of that experience into his fifties. Having worked with kids—and now teenagers—for several years, I’m especially sensitive to this issue. Although I understand there are any number of reasons why people bully, I have no tolerance for it whatsoever. As I’ve often told my students: mean people suck.

Anyway, here’s the little poem I wrote. Just a few things I wish young people would keep in mind when tempted to be hateful. We all have feelings that can easily be trampled, and a little kindness goes a long way.

Just For a Moment

Just for a moment
Pretend that you’re me,
And you’re a lot heavier
Than you’d like to be.

Fatty and lard ass
Are all that they see.
How would you feel
If you were me?

Just for a moment
Pretend that you’re me.
You toil and you struggle
Just for that “C.”
Moron and stupid
Are names that you get.
How does it feel?
Not good, I bet.

Just for a moment
Pretend that you’re me.
Your family can’t buy you
That trendy new tee.

Ghetto and trashy
Are what you are called.
How does it feel?
Does it hurt at all?

Just for a moment
Pretend that you’re me.
You try to fit in,
But it’s not to be.

Loser and freak show
Are words that you hear
How does it feel?
Is it getting clear?

When you are eager
To cause someone pain
Ask yourself this,
“What do I gain?”

If truth be known
I think you will find
Your spirit feels better
When you have been kind.

To lift someone up
Can lift you up too.
Resist all the cruelty
That others may do.

The next time you’re ready
To bash what you see
Instead stop and think
And pretend that you’re me.


by Shelly Hickman



BLURB FOR Vegas to Varanasi 
FREE on Amazon and at other places!
Anna has never been the beautiful one; she’s always been the nice one. So when the gorgeous man sitting across the table at a wedding reception remembers her from high school—and quite fondly at that—she’s taken off guard. 

Formerly overweight and unpopular, Kiran has never forgotten Anna, the one person who was kind to him when no one else could be bothered, and Anna’s a bit flustered as she slowly comes to grips with his intense attraction for her. 

In what feels like a romantic dream come true, all-grown-up, hunky Kiran invites Anna on a trip to Varanasi. But her troubled, whack-a-do ex-boyfriend starts interfering, creating drama at every turn, which begs the question, “Can nice girls really finish first?”

The sequel to "Vegas to Varanasi" catches up with Anna and Kiran a couple of years after the event that brought the once “ugly duckling” high school acquaintances together. But will their romance continue to flourish in the face of a whole new set of insecurities brought on by middle age? 

First, there’s Kiran, who has an unexpected health scare. While his doctors assure no permanent damage has been done, there seems to have been some damage to his personality, as the normally respectful and reserved Kiran begins behaving erratically and overtly. Anna wants to hope that this is temporary, sparked by the visit of Kiran’s womanizing, free-spirited cousin, Seth. But is this just the midlife Kiran surfacing? 

Anna has midlife issues of her own. Now forty-eight, she’s navigating the onset of perimenopause and all the delights that come with it, from facial hair to mood swings to body temperature issues. On top of that, her two-year-old granddaughter is starting to show signs of a behavior disorder, bringing with it a whole other level of stress and worry. 

Will Anna and Kiran finally find their happily ever after? Or end up stuck in a midlife mess in this romantic comedy of accepting change, and “the change.”



Kiran folds his arms over his chest and his expression sobers. “Before we take the trip into old town, I have to make sure you’re prepared for the bathrooms. Did you do your homework on bathrooms?”

I don’t like his somber tone and furrow my brow. “No... But I used the bathroom at the Delhi airport.”

“That’s different. They have western toilets there. Have you ever heard of a squat toilet?”

Oy. “Is that sort of like a port-a-potty?”

Kiran tries to contain a grin. “No. It’s not like a port-a-potty.” He walks over to the computer in the corner of the living room and turns it on. “It’s time to pull up some YouTube videos.”

No, no, no. Please tell me I’m not going to sit here with Kiran and learn how to go to the bathroom in India.

“You’ll want to make sure you carry toilet paper with you while in the city.”

Not such a big deal. That’s good practice in the States while on a road trip. Many rest stops won’t have toilet paper.

“Okay. I brought a bag that can accommodate a roll of TP.”

Kiran sits me down in the chair in front of the computer and pulls up a video on how to use squat toilets. A very questionable looking fellow proceeds to talk about “the art of laying cable” and “how to take a dump, by the book,” all in subtitles.

Buy links:

B&N Vegas to Varanasi
NOTE: "Vegas to Varanasi" is now perma-free on multiple platforms


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Living in Las Vegas since she was two, Shelly Hickman has witnessed many changes in the city over the years. She graduated from UNLV with a Bachelor of Art in 1990, and in her early twenties worked as a computer illustrator. In the mid-90s, she returned to school to earn her Masters degree in Elementary Education. She now teaches computer literacy and media technology at a middle school in Las Vegas. She loves to write about people, examining their flaws, their humor, spirituality, and personal growth. Shelly lives with her husband, two children, and their dogs, Frankie and Junebug.
Amazon author page



a Rafflecopter giveaway

The tour dates can be found here 



  1. How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?

    1. Mai, I usually just choose names that I like. Occasionally I will use names of people I know or family members, but sometimes it's not even a conscious decision. When I wrote "Vegas to Varanasi" I did have to look up Indian names for Kiran and his family members. I don't have a special resource that I use -- just Google. Thanks for the question! Sorry I never could think of an example for your last one. Sometimes I'm braindead. LOL.

    2. Great question as usual, Mai. I think a lot of authors also use baby name books as resources.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. Replies
    1. You are quite welcome. Thanks for taking the time to interact with my visitors and good luck on the tour!

    2. My pleasure! I'm excited to see people stopping by. Thank you again. :)

  4. Love the poem, I think those lessons need to be taught often in school. Great excerpts---Rae

    1. I agree kids should have frequent reminders.Thank you, Rae! :)

    2. I thought it was a very nice poem, Rae. Thank you for taking the time to visit!

  5. Replies
    1. Glad to hear that, Rita. Thanks for dropping by!

  6. Replies
    1. Glad you think so, I liked it as well. Thanks for popping in!

  7. Great post, sounds like an awesome series :)

    1. Great to see you, Victoria. I am sure the author will appreciate your sentiments!

    2. Thank you for commenting, Victoria! I hope you'll consider checking out the first book which is free. :)

    3. I definitely will Shelly..thanks :)

  8. Thank you for the post and the giveaway!