Reviews and Awards

Book Reviews

If the title doesn't make you laugh, reflect, and then laugh again, the contents certainly will.  I love it!

— Heather McNamara, Editor-in -Chief, Chicken Soup for the Soul

"No question, the most powerful book I've read in a while.  Retrospect, I've found is the best way to judge literary matters.  How long does the item in question stick around the grey matter I call a brain.  So much writing is like a spoonful of sugar - immediate burst and gone in 30 minutes.  Dancing Naked is a piece of work much like a loaf of whole wheat bread, some of which sticks to the mental hips forever, some of which goes to build better mental arteries and veins and some of which goes on to run the brain at peak performance for a long time."

"I've put  down the book and moved  to other reading, but Carmen continues to make me think.  I find myself urgently wishing I could meet this astonishing lady,  just to sit and talk with her for a while would be so enlightening.  Seriously.  She puts so much of herself on public display in this book.  As a writer myself, I don't know if I could be that bluntly honest with my readers.  I don't share many of my personal library library's books and this one for absolutely sure won't be shared.  I probably will insist my daughter read it when she gets to high school.

"...More importantly, I know (this book) will work for the people who need to read (it) to draw inspiration to overcome their fears.

"The title is hilarious...I'm just running out of ways to say how good this book actually is!  Sure, I could put it on dozens of must read lists, but that only matters to people who read lists.  ...I could see (Oprah) recommending this one to her viewers.

All I can say now is please continue to write.  The world needs it.

— Judge, Benjamin Franklin Awards (The judge is, and must remain, anonymous by rules of the PMA.)

Wise and witty Carmen Richardson Rutlen whirls, twirls, and swirls us into the dance of life.  She is a true philosopher queen who helps us to discover what we didn't' know we knew about the amazement of being human.

— Dr. Richard Lederer, Best-selling author of Anguished English and A Man of My Words

Everyone gets inspired.  Unfortunately, only some have the good sense to carry around a notebook and pencil to record those fleeting bolts of truth, inspiration, and enlightenment when they strike. The rest rely on memory alone, and therefore, stutter and stumble most days through a smattering of lackluster observations, half-truths, and forgotten punch lines.

Thank goodness then, for this author.  By some gracious act of volunteerism on behalf of the aforementioned memory-reliant rest, Rutlen seems not only to have carried - but also to have recorded and published - a witty and meditative notebook.  Part poetry, part confessional, part literary dance recital, this book engages the reader as both audience and partner through the various dances of life.

Each of the six chapters steps to a different beat.  "Fandango: dedicates itself to friends and family; "Tripping the Light Fantastic" discos with God; "Tango" is, of course, set aside for love.  Like any instructor worth her tap shoes, Rutlen leads readers with a light but firm touch, alternately skimming and delving into the depths of emotion, with a mix of sentimental narrative and thought-provoking observations on love, loss, happiness, hatred, menopause, and everything in between.

The title of this book is a lighthearted relation of the various stages of life to various dances. The Fandango is family and friends, a dance of lively rhythms. Modern Dance represents today's world, fast, hectic, and changing. The Tango represents the dance of love, a dance where partners move as one. The Flamenco is the miscellaneous stuff that makes up the bulk of life, at times slow and pensive, at other times fast and furious. Tripping the light fantastic is the search for and relationship with God. And finally the Charleston, the dance of aging, adjusting, accepting and changing.

In each of these sections author Carmen Rutlen shares vignettes of her life and about life in general. At times humorous, at times wise and deep, at times very general, at times very personal. Although each one is very short, lasting from just a couple of lines to a couple of pages, it is hard to put it down and you find yourself involved in the dance of life with Carmen.  "Dancing fuzzy red slippers" is a delight to read.

— Midwest Book Review -- Harold McFarland

I opened "Dancing Naked..." and I was hooked:  204 pages in one sitting, which is normally hard to do, but this book is like fine wine and chocolate, or Haagen-Dazs ice cream -- just couldn't put it down!

There are so many times in life, for all of us, when we feel so alone - rejection, death divorce, motherhood.  Sometimes it feels as if no one has ever felt this way before, and you wonder where the answers are --where is the instruction  book for all this?!  "Dancing Naked..." isn't the instruction book,  Carmen doesn't have all the answers -- that's not what this is about.  This is the conversation you wish you could have with your mother, an older sister, or good friend -- she's been there, done that, and she has survived, with grace, style and humor.

"Dancing Naked..." is the perfect blend of essay, anecdote, observations and poetry from the heart and soul of a beautiful, wise woman.  This is a wonderful gift book for the women in your life.

— Sherri Caldwell, co-author, The Rebel Housewife Rules: To Heck with Domestic Bliss!


Stories from Dancing Naked… have also been published in:

  • A Fifth Portion of Chicken Soup for the Soul
  • Chicken Soup for the Inspirational Soul
  • Office Humor - by Allen Klein
  • Chicken Soup - A Christmas Treasury
  • Chicken Soup for Every Mother's Soul
  • Hot Mom's Handbook - Jessica Denay


  • Benjamin Franklin Award
  • "Book of the Year" - In Humor and Inspiration - BAIPA Award
  • "Achievement in Letters" Award - National League of American Pen Women

Dancing Naked… in fuzzy red slippers has recently been published in Korean.

Joe O'Hehir Design