Monday, February 26, 2018

Q&A with Children's Book Authors Patrick & Shani Muhammad @playintopay

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South Florida based janitor turned serial entrepreneur, Patrick Muhammad took what some would call an unconventional route to his newest venture.  “What I do now has evolved.  It truly took my passion and has turned it into a profession for me. I can see myself mentoring and sharing my story with young people easily for the next 20 years.  I love talking to young people and showing them, what entrepreneurship looks like. I love sharing my stories of how I came to be.  I didn’t just wake up one day and have all the answers.  My wife and I bumped our head A LOT.  I just want to say to them, look…here’s the blueprint.  Start now, don’t wait until you’re 30.  Passion has no age requirement, and has no limit on how many you can have. I started out as a janitor, then became a baker now I am into motivational speaking. They just have to have the passion and guidance. Anything is possible.”

“Patrick Turns His Play Into Pay” is the 1st book in a series of children’s books authored by husband and wife writing partners, Shani and Patrick Muhammad. The idea for the book was created one night while trying to explain the reason there was a gigantic, neon, pink and orange food-truck, now sitting in their front yard to their then 4 year-old Qadeer.   Patrick and his wife came up with the idea that they would write a keepsake item for all their children, detailing the road they took to becoming entrepreneurs.  The primary message is simple. By tapping into your passion early in life you can turn your playdays into paydays.  Once the book was published they both realized that the story could not only inspire their own children to entrepreneurship, but others as well. Shani figured out how to self-publish it and Patrick would take it to different youth groups in his community.   “I began shopping the book around to childcare centers and non-profits that served young people in the projects and the adults loved it.  “They really loved the idea that it was based on a true story and that the message was coming from a black male perspective. A story their children could relate to.  The images were brown like them and I just always got a positive response.  We took that book everywhere with us, and the response was this is a message that’s needed.  Children can’t be what they can’t see.”
Patrick currently lives in South Florida with his wife and three of his youngest five children.  He has a passion for planting the seed of entrepreneurship and carving out wealth building opportunities for his children’s generation. When he’s not writing books he’s on tour, speaking to groups of young people about basic principles of financial literacy and the benefits of early investing using cryptocurrency as a vehicle to establish future financial goals. When he’s not doing that…he’s on a creek with a fishing pole in his hand.

Shani Muhammad has been married to Patrick for 17 years now.  Together they have 5 children and 3 grandchildren.   Shani has spent the past 15 years in a classroom as a teacher. She too is a serial entrepreneur and has in the past owned a one-price shoe store, group homes and several online businesses. When she’s not working on the next children’s book in their series, she too enjoys researching and investing in crypto currencies and planning her family’s next “staycation.”

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

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About the Book:


The first book in a series, "Patrick Turns His Play Into Pay", details the journey of an entrepreneur, through the eyes of a child. The book uses vivid illustrations and lively words, to explain the road little Patrick took into the world of entrepreneurship.  It demonstrates the benefits of tapping into your passion early in life.  “Patrick” tapped into his passion of baking to help solve a money problem.  This book also shows the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur.  You witness a 9-year old take the power and control of his future into his own hands. You also see what happens when “Patrick” finds help in a friend, to help grow his business. Above all, this book motivates both young and young at heart and serves as a reminder that we all have the ability to turn our playdays into paydays.



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Thanks for this interview, Patrick.  When did you determine that writing for children was for you?

Growing up I never wanted to be a writer. Prior to writing this book, I was a janitor for 25 years. I kind of fell into writing.

The idea for the book was created one night while trying to explain the reason there was gigantic, neon, pink and orange food-truck, now sitting in their front yard to our then, 4 year-old Qadeer.   My wife and I came up with the idea that we would write a keepsake item for our children and God-willing…grandchildren, detailing the road we took to becoming entrepreneurs.  The primary message is simple. By tapping into your passion early in life you can turn your play days into paydays.


What was the inspiration behind your children’s book, Patrick Turns His Play Into Pay?

My children and grandchildren were my inspiration.

How do you get into the mind of a child to create a fun reading experience?  Are you around kids?  Are you a kid at heart?

I just imagined the book being read by my then, 4 year-old Qadeer. Also, I’m a kid at heart.  The main character in my book is named “Little Patrick”. That’s basically me.

What was your favorite book as a child?

The Bass Pro fishing catalog book.

What kind of advice would you give writers who would like to write children’s books?

Don’t write books that preach or lecture and don’t talk down to them. Their smaller than adults, not dumber.


What are your goals for the future?  More children’s books?

Yes, this is the 1st book in a series. The next one takes you on a journey using crypto-currency. Of course, it too will be a picture book. It’s entitled Patrick Turns His Play Into Pay using Bitcoins.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Book Teaser: Abuse of Discretion by Pamela Samuels Young #bookteaser @authorpsy

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Abuse of Discretion, by Pamela Samuels Young, Mystery, Goldman House Publishing,352 pp., $3.99 (Kindle Edition)


A Kid’s Curiosity … A Parent’s Nightmare

The award-winning author of "Anybody’s Daughter" is back with an addictive courtroom drama that gives readers a shocking look inside the juvenile criminal justice system.

Graylin Alexander is a model fourteen-year-old. When his adolescent curiosity gets the best of him, Graylin finds himself embroiled in a sexting scandal that threatens to ruin his life. Jenny Ungerman, the attorney hired to defend Graylin, is smart, confident and committed. She isn’t thrilled, however, when ex-prosecutor Angela Evans joins Graylin’s defense team. The two women instantly butt heads. Can they put aside their differences long enough to ensure Graylin gets justice?

Unbeknownst to Angela, her boyfriend Dre is wrestling with his own drama. Someone from his past wants him dead. For Dre, his response is simple—kill or be killed.

Graylin
“What’s the matter, Mrs. Singletary? Why do I have to go to the principal’s office?”
I’m walking side-by-side down the hallway with my second-period teacher. Students are huddled together staring and pointing at us like we’re zoo animals. When a teacher at Marcus Preparatory Academy escorts you to the principal’s office, it’s a big deal. Nothing like this has ever happened to me before. I’m a good student. I never get in trouble.
Mrs. Singletary won’t answer my questions or even look at me. I hope she knows she’s only making me more nervous.
“Mrs. Singletary, please tell me what’s wrong?”
“Just follow me. You’ll find out in a minute.”
I’m about to ask her another question when it hits me. Something happened to my mama!
My mama has been on and off drugs for as long as I can remember. I haven’t seen her in months and I don’t even know where she lives. No one does. I act like it doesn’t bother me, but it does. I’ve prayed to God a million times to get her off drugs. Even though my granny says God answers prayers, He hasn’t answered mine, so I stopped asking.
I jump in front of my teacher, forcing her to stop. “Was there a death in my family, Mrs. Singletary? Did something happen to my mama?”
“No, there wasn’t a death.”
She swerves around me and keeps going. I have to take giant steps to keep up with her.
Once we’re inside the main office, Mrs. Singletary points at a wooden chair outside Principal Keller’s office. “Have a seat and don’t move.”
She goes into the principal’s office and closes the door. My head begins to throb like somebody’s banging on it from the inside. I close my eyes and try to calm down. I didn’t do anything wrong. It’s probably just—Oh snap! The picture!
I slide down in the chair and pull my iPhone from my right pocket. My hands are trembling so bad I have to concentrate to keep from dropping it. I open the photos app and delete the last picture on my camera roll. If anyone saw that picture, I’d be screwed.
Loud voices seep through the closed door. I lean forward, straining to hear. It almost sounds like Mrs. Singletary and Principal Keller are arguing.

“It’s only an allegation. We don’t even know if it’s true.”
“I don’t care. We have to follow protocol.”
“Can’t you at least check his phone first?”
“I’m not putting myself in the middle of this mess. I've already made the call.”

The call? I can’t believe Principal Keller called my dad without even giving me a chance to defend myself. How’d she even find out about the picture?  
The door swings open and I almost jump out of my skin. The principal crooks her finger at me. “Come in here, son.”
Trudging into her office, I sit down on a red cloth chair that’s way more comfortable than the hard one outside. My heart is beating so fast it feels like it might jump out of my chest.
The only time I’ve ever been in Principal Keller’s office was the day my dad enrolled me in school. Mrs. Singletary is standing in front of the principal’s desk with her arms folded. I hope she’s going to stay here with me, but a second later, she walks out and closes the door.
Principal Keller sits on the edge of her desk, looking down at me. “Graylin, do you have any inappropriate pictures on your cell phone?”
“Huh?” I try to keep a straight face. “No, ma’am.”
“It’s been brought to my attention that you have an inappropriate picture—a naked picture—of Kennedy Carlyle on your phone. Is that true?”
“No…uh…No, ma’am.” Thank God I deleted it!
“This is a very serious matter, young man. So, I need you to tell me the truth.”
“No, ma’am.” I shake my head so hard my cheeks vibrate. “I don’t have anything like that on my phone.”
“I pray to God you’re telling me the truth.”
I don’t want to ask this next question, but I have to know. “Um, so you called my dad?”
“Yes, I did. He’s on his way down here now.”
I hug myself and start rocking back and forth. Even though I deleted the picture, my dad is still going to kill me for having to leave work in the middle of the day.
“I also made another call.”
At first I’m confused. Then I realize Mrs. Keller must’ve called my granny too. At least she’ll keep my dad from going ballistic.
“So you called my granny?”
“No.” The principal’s cheeks puff up like she’s about to blow something away. “I called the police.”



Pamela Samuels Young has always abided by the philosophy that you create the change you want to see. She set giant-sized goals and used her talent, tenacity and positive outlook to accomplish them. Pamela consequently achieved success in both the corporate arena and literary world simultaneously.
An author, attorney and motivational speaker, Pamela spent fifteen years as Managing Counsel for Toyota, specializing in labor and employment law. While still practicing law, Pamela began moonlighting as a mystery writer because of the absence of women and people of color depicted in the legal thrillers she read. She is now an award-winning author of multiple legal thrillers, including Anybody’s Daughter, which won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Fiction, and her new release, Abuse of Discretion, a shocking look at the juvenile justice system in the context of a troubling teen sexting case.
Prior to her legal career, spent several years as a television news writer and associate producer. She received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from USC and earned a master’s degree in broadcasting from Northwestern University and a law degree from UC Berkeley School of Law. She is a frequent speaker on the topics of teen sexting, child sex trafficking, self-empowerment and fiction writing.

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Monday, February 19, 2018

How to Write a Memoir (If Every Part of Your Life Has Been Memorable) l Rhonda Shear @rhondashear

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How to Write a Memoir (If Every Part of Your Life Has Been Memorable)

I had never written a book, much less a memoir, when I sat down at home in St. Petersburg, Florida, to start pulling the majestic mess that’s been my life into some sort of coherent storyline. And as I started listing all the stuff I’ve done, it quickly became clear that I was in trouble. I mean, I could have made the case for a table of contents that looked like this: beauty queen, dancer, Playboy model, candidate for office, actress, human-sized doll, late-night celebrity, comedian, woman in love, entrepreneur, designer, philanthropist, shopping channel star and mother of dogs (just think of me as Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones, but with Chihuahuas and a Yorkie instead of dragons).
             
Whew. How do you get a handle on something that you have no perspective on—namely, your life? How do you step back and see which episodes, people and stories are worth including and which ones aren’t? I can only tell you how I did it, but I hope what I learned will help you in your writing.
             
First of all, get professional help. No, not that kind. Talk to an editor or memoirist, someone with experience who can help you sort through all the material and figure out the thread of your story. Is there a common theme throughout your life? A high point that everything leads to? A tragedy or lesson that shaped you? When you’re so close to your story, you can miss what’s obvious to someone else. I talked to a professional writer who helped me figure out the theme of my story: that I had always been a feminist without even knowing it.
             
Then get organized. Break down your book into stages of your life, even create a table of contents. I couldn’t have written Up All Night if I hadn’t broken it down into more bite-sized sections based on my days in New Orleans, Hollywood and Florida. Doing that, then breaking things down further into chapters, helped me get my head around the stories, photos, people, dates and events that I needed to write about.
             
Another thing to do: talk to friends and family who’ve known you well. You might think you have a great memory, but we all forget things. Our memories can even mislead us. People who were there for the story of your life can correct you when you get something wrong and remind you of people and events that you may not recall. In writing my book, I talked to my husband, Van, my siblings, my cousins, colleagues from Hollywood and comedy…everyone who I thought could help me tell a better story. They were a goldmine of memories, funny tales, and valuable critiques and ideas. I wouldn’t have been able to write it without them.
             
Last but not least, find a small (and I mean, small) circle of people you can trust to read your memoir as you’re writing it and give you useful feedback. This is tricky. People who will tell you every word is gold are useless, for obvious reason. Hyper-critical people who will poke holes in everything you write are also useless. You need readers who will be honest and fair, giving you credit when something works well but offering constructive criticism when something flops. My advice? Find three or four people at most who fit this description and send them chapters as you finish them. Then take their comments seriously. I did, even though it meant more work for me. The result was a much stronger book.
             
That’s it. Now, go write that memoir!

           
 Kisses,

           
 Rhonda

About the Author

Actress. Comedian. Award-winning entrepreneur. Builder of a $100 million apparel brand. Television star. Former Miss Louisiana. Candidate for elected office. Philanthropist. And now, author. There aren’t many hats that Rhonda Shear hasn’t tried on, and she’s worn them all with style, moxie, southern charm, and a persistent will to be the best.

A New Orleans native, Rhonda started her journey to the spotlight by dominating local, state, and national beauty pageants from the time she was sixteen—including three turns as Miss Louisiana. In 1976, in the wake of a Playboy modeling scandal that cost her a coveted crown, she became the youngest person ever to run for office in Louisiana, losing her fight for a New Orleans post by only 135 votes.

After that, Hollywood called, and she quickly moved from Bob Hope specials to guest appearances on hundreds of television shows, from Happy Days and Married With Children to appearing on classic Chuck Barris camp-fests like The Gong Show and the $1.98 Beauty Show. Rhonda’s big break came in 1991 when she became the sultry-smart hostess of late-night movie show USA: Up All Night, a gig that lasted until 1999 and made her nationally famous.

After Up All Night ended, Rhonda pursued her love of comedy and quickly became a headliner in Las Vegas and at top comedy clubs like The Laugh Factory and the Improv. At the same time, she reconnected with her childhood sweetheart, Van Fagan, who she hadn’t seen in twenty-five years. After a whirlwind, storybook courtship, they married in 2001.

Rhonda’s latest chapter began when she appeared on the Home Shopping Network to sell women’s intimates. Her appearance was a sensation, and she and Van quickly started a company, Shear Enterprises, LLC, to design, manufacture and sell Rhonda’s own line of women’s intimate wear. Today, that company has grown to more than $100 million in annual sales, and Rhonda has won numerous entrepreneurship awards—though she still refers to herself as a “bimbopreneur.”

Today, Rhonda and Van live in a magnificent house in St. Petersburg, Florida, where she engages in many philanthropic projects, supports numerous charities for women, and works on new books.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

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About the Book:


Title: UP ALL NIGHT
Author: Rhonda Shear
Publisher: Mascot Books
Pages: 275
Genre: Memoir/Women’s Self-Help

BOOK BLURB:
Up All Night combines memoir and self-help to follow Rhonda Shear’s incredible journey from modest New Orleans girl to bold, brassy, beautiful entrepreneur and owner of a $100 million Florida lingerie company.

Along the way, Rhonda has been a beauty queen, a groundbreaking candidate for office, a Playboy model, a working actress, a late-night TV star and sex symbol, a headlining standup comedian, an award-winning “bimbopreneur” and a philanthropist who uses her success to help women of all ages be their best and appreciate their true beauty.

Up All Night is also a love story. Rhonda reconnected with her first love, Van Fagan, after 25 years apart, and after a whirlwind romance in The Big Easy, they married in 2001. Now they share a fantasy life of luxury—but it hasn't come easily. In this book, Rhonda shares the lessons she’s learned along the way: never let anyone else define you or tell you what you can’t do, make your own luck, and do what you love.

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Grounding the Fantasy of The Apothecary's Curse in Historical Authenticity l Barbara Barnett @B_Barnett

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Grounding the Fantasy of The Apothecary’s Curse in Historical Authenticity
There's an old Paper Lace song from the '70s called "The Night Chicago Died." It refers to the "east side" of Chicago. Except. There IS no East Side of Chicago. The East Side of Chicago is called Lake Michigan. There's a North Side, a South Side, a Northwest Side and a West Side, but no "East Side." Full stop. Always enjoyed that song, but it always caused a snicker when, as kids, we would play (or sing) the song.

The same is true for all fiction: novels, short stories, television scripts and series. Nothing takes you out of a story faster than screwing up the setting. Conversely, nothing grounds fiction better than a sense of authenticity. And nothing provides authenticity better than knowing whereof and who-of and how-of you speak.

In writing The Apothecary's Curse, I took great pains to research every assertion, setting, and, yes, even, word I used. Was the word "hooligan" in common use in 1837 London? What did an apothecary do in London? What was King James VI take on the supernatural back at the very end of the sixteenth century.

There's a pivotal scene in The Apothecary's Curse where my main character has a motorcycle accident north of Chicago along the Lake Michigan coast. People who do not live in Chicago (or perhaps some that do) are often unaware that to the far north of the City, along the lake, the terrain is far from the flatland with which Chicago is often associated. There are high bluffs, deep ravines, plunging eighty, one hundred, even one hundred fifty feet to the rocky shore. Who'd have thought?
I used the idea because I knew people would find it strange, and maybe a bit fantastical (after all The Apothecary's Curse is a fantasy), but before I put a number on the height of the cliff, I researched everything I knew (and didn't know about the shoreline and the quite mystical ravines that line the shore from Wilmette to the Wisconsin border).

Although I know the Chicago setting quite well, and felt comfortable playing with it, the same is not true of the early Victorian setting of 1837-1842 London. I chose Smithfield Market as the location for Gaelan Erceldoune's Apothecary Shop for some very specific reasons. Smithfield is a place where the immortal Gaelan could be more or less anonymous. Having moved locations after ten years in the posher environs of Hay Hill, he needs to reboot his life, and Smithfield is perfect. He's also needed there. Few physicians (mostly gentlemen) would dare not dirty their hands in the "vile zoology" that is Smithfield (and by the way, that is exactly how accounts for the time describe place, so I copped the description and put into the story).

Also, Gaelan's heritage comes into play here (although not so much in Apothecary's Curse as it will in the second book, which looks back on when Gaelan first moved to Smithfield in 1826 (11 years before events in The Apothecary's Curse). My research uncovered the fact that William Wallace (AKA, The Wallace, a Scottish hero) was executed in Smithfield, perhaps even right on the very same corner that Gaelan's shop sits. Hmm. So the locale was very carefully chosen.

William Wallace was a contemporary and confederate of Lord Thomas Learmont de Ercildoune, Gaelan's ancestor--a figure that is steeped in supernatural legend, but who also existed in medieval Scotland! History, meet mythology, meet fantasy!

So, by placing the fantasy in a real location with a real history related to the ancestor of a historical figure, I hope that grounds the story in history as well as the legend that so pervades the story.

I also underlaid the story with real people in cameos who lived during the times in which the story takes place (or in its back story): Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his medical mentor Joseph Bell (who is related to Gaelan's frenemy Simon Bell), Sir Isaac Newton, Paracelsus (though only indirectly). There is also a scene midway through the novel in which I wanted to trigger an argument between Gaelan (who's always up for a good verbal row) and Simon's cousin Dr. James Bell.

I had a particular date in 1842 in mind, so I scoured the London Times from July 1842 and came up with the perfect news item: an assassination attempt on Queen Victoria by a mentally and physically disabled, shunned little man. Gaelan, of course, would side with the disabled man, who, after all shot paper "bullets" at the queen.

All of this is to say that no matter whether you're writing historical fiction (for which accuracy is an imperative when dealing in the "actual" factual world) or speculative fiction, everything has to make sense (at least within the world you've built. And if the world you've built is fantastical, but set (even partially) in the real world, attention to detail, gentle use of tropes, diction, setting--and fact, can give your fantastical creation an air of authenticity.

And, if you are interested in reading The Apothecary's Curse, you can find it at your local booksellers, Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble or local library. If you've read it, I would of course appreciate a kind word on Goodreads or Amazon :) And be sure to visit my website and sign up (in the right sidebar) for my mailing list.
You can follow me on Twitter @B_Barnett

About the Author
Barbara Barnett is author of the Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel The Apothecary’s Curse  (Pyr Books), an imprint of Prometheus Books. She is also Publisher/Executive Editor of Blogcritics Magazine (blogcritics.org), an online magazine of pop culture, politics and more, for which she has also contributed nearly 1,000 essays, reviews, and interviews over the past decade. She published in-depth interviews with writers, actors and producers, including Jane Espenson, Katie Jacobs, Doris Egan, David Goodman, Jesse Spencer, Jennifer Morrison, Robert Carlyle, Lana Parilla, David Strathairn, Russel Friend, Garrett Lerner, Elie Atie, Wesley Snipes, and many, many more.
Her book on the TV series House, M.D., Chasing Zebras: THE Unofficial Guide to House, M.D. is a critically-acclaimed and quintessential guide to the themes, characters and episodes of the hit show.
Always a pop-culture and sci-fi geek, Barbara was raised on a steady diet of TV (and TV dinners), but she always found her way to the tragic antiheroes and misunderstood champions, whether on TV, in the movies or in literature. (In other words, Spock, not Kirk; Han Solo, not Luke Skywalker!) It was inevitable that she would have to someday create one of her own.
She is an accomplished speaker, an annual favorite at MENSA’s HalloWEEM convention, where she has spoken to standing room crowds on subjects as diverse as “The Byronic Hero in Pop Culture,” “The Many Faces of Sherlock Holmes,” “The Hidden History of Science Fiction,” and “Our Passion for Disaster (Movies).” Most recently, she gave a lecture at MENSA “The Conan Doyle Conundrum,” which explored the famous author’s life-long belief in fairies.
Barbara is available for signings and other author appearances as well as radio, print and television interviews. She also loves to speak at writers and other conferences! Feel free to contact her directly!
She is represented by Katharine Sands at the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency in New York City. You can reach Katharine at katharinesands@nyc.rr.com.

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About the Book:

Title: THE APOTHECARY’S CURSE
Author: Barbara Barnett
Publisher: Pyr Books
Pages: 345
Genre: Historical Fiction/Gaslamp Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

BOOK BLURB: 
Between magic and science, medicine and alchemy, history and mythology lies the Apothecary's Curse…
         
A 2017 finalist for the prestigious Bram Stoker Award and winner of the Reader’s Choice award at this year’s Killer Nashville, The Apothecary’s Curse is a complex tale of love and survival set in a very different Victorian era where science and the supernatural co-exist. The Apothecary’s Curse transports readers between Victorian London and contemporary Chicago, where two men conceal their immortality….

In early Victorian London, the fates of gentleman physician Simon Bell and apothecary Gaelan Erceldoune become irrevocably bound when Simon gives his dying wife an elixir created by Gaelan from an ancient manuscript. Meant to cure her of cancer, instead, it kills her. Now suicidal, Simon swallows the remainder – to no apparent effect. Five years of suicide attempts later, Simon realizes he cannot die. When he hears rumors of a Bedlam inmate—star attraction of a grisly freak show with astounding regenerative powers like his own—Simon is shocked to discover it is Gaelan.

When Machiavellian pharmaceutical company Genomics unearths 19th Century diaries describing the torture of Bedlam inmates, Gaelan and Simon's lives are upended, especially when the company's scientists begin to see a link between Gaelan and one of the unnamed inmates. But Gaelan and Genomics geneticist Anne Shawe find themselves powerfully, almost irresistibly, drawn to each other, and her family connection to his remarkable manuscript leads to a stunning revelation.

Will it bring ruin or redemption?

Meticulous historical detail infuses the narrative with authenticity, providing a rich, complex canvas. And playing off Simon’s connection to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Apothecary’s Curse draws on both the Sherlock Holmes canon and Sir Arthur's spirituality, as well as Celtic mythology, the art of alchemy, and the latest advances in genetics research.

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Monday, February 12, 2018

New York Is A Character l Diana Forbes @dianaforbes18 #NewYork #writing #historical #fiction

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Diana Forbes’s debut, Mistress Suffragette (Penmore Press, 2017), was inspired by Diana’s passion for old New York, ancestry, and untold stories. Here she explains how New York is not merely a setting for her, but a character.

 New York Is A Character

Readers always tell me that “New York is a character” in my novel, Mistress Suffragette. When I walk through the streets today, I imagine how it was back in the nineteenth century. The smell of horses sweltering on a humid summer day. The splinters of sawdust jettisoned in the air from the constant construction. I can almost hear the pigs running through the gutters. (These animals substituted for city services since pigs are remarkably clean.)

I retrace my protagonist’s footsteps whenever possible, and I have her walk a lot in my novel. As a stranger, she acutely feels the cold shoulder the city casts on outsiders. Missing for my heroine are many of the social introductions that would make old New York accord her more respect. For her, New York offers up steaming sidewalks and screaming barkers. She sees the seamy underbelly of the city stripped of any gilded lining.

She moves to New York because she has to, in order to achieve her career aspirations, and stays in spite of the city’s haughty snobbishness, not because of it.
She has difficulty acclimating to its congestion, strange rhythms, myriad neighborhoods, and lack of trees. Looking out at the walls of linens drying in the courtyard makes her miss her childhood home; and yet once she’s situated in New York she can never return home. Not really.

To her, New York is too brash and too expensive. At best, the bond she forges with the city verges on love-hate. My heroine also has the chance to experience how cruel New York can be during a hurricane, shattering glass and ravaging lives.

But, like a character, New York has layers. She is complex, ever evolving, and a bit secretive about her past. She has stories to tell if one will only stay long enough to listen. And over time, it is impossible for any resident, my heroine included, not to occasionally be caught off-guard by the city’s grandeur or at least charmed by its quirky residents.

As a writer, I am an archaeologist, and it is my task to dig out New York’s past and reveal it in a way that is true to her identity. 
About the Author

Diana Forbes is a 9th generation American, with ancestors on both sides of the Civil War. Diana Forbes lives and writes in Manhattan. When she is not cribbing chapters, Diana Forbes loves to explore the buildings where her 19th Century American ancestors lived, loved, survived and thrived. Prior to publication, Diana Forbes’s debut won 1st place in the Missouri Romance Writers of America (RWA) Gateway to the Best Contest for Women’s Fiction. A selection from the novel was a finalist in the Wisconsin RWA “Fab Five” Contest for Women’s Fiction. Mistress Suffragette won 1st place in the Chanticleer Chatelaine Award’s Romance and Sensual category, and was shortlisted for the Somerset Award in Literary Fiction. Mistress Suffragette won Silver in the North American Book Awards and was a Winner of the Book Excellence Awards for Romance. Mistress Suffragette was also a Kirkus Best Indies Book of 2017. The author is passionate about vintage clothing, antique furniture, ancestry, and vows to master the quadrille in her lifetime. Diana Forbes is the author of New York Gilded Age historical fiction.

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About the Book:

Title: MISTRESS SUFFRAGETTE
Author: Diana Forbes
Publisher: Penmore Press
Pages: 392
Genre: Romance/Historical Fiction/Victorian/Political/NY Gilded Age Fiction

BOOK BLURB:
A young woman without prospects at a ball in Gilded Age Newport, Rhode Island is a target for a certain kind of “suitor.” At the Memorial Day Ball during the Panic of 1893, impoverished but feisty Penelope Stanton quickly draws the unwanted advances of a villainous millionaire banker who preys on distressed women—the incorrigible Mr. Daggers. Better known as the philandering husband of the stunning socialite, Evelyn Daggers, Edgar stalks Penelope.

Skilled in the art of flirtation, Edgar is not without his charms, and Penelope is attracted to him against her better judgment. Meanwhile a special talent of Penelope’s makes her the ideal candidate for a paying job in the Suffrage Movement.

In a Movement whose leaders are supposed to lead spotless lives, Penelope’s torrid affair with Mr. Daggers is a distraction and early suffragist Amy Adams Buchanan Van Buren, herself the victim of a faithless spouse, urges Penelope to put an end to it. But can she?

Searching for sanctuary in three cities, Penelope will need to discover her hidden reserves of courage and tenacity. During a glittering age where a woman’s reputation is her most valuable possession, Penelope must decide whether to compromise her principles for love.

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Playlist for Searching for Gertrude l D.E. Haggerty @dehaggerty

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Playlist for Searching for Gertrude

Nowadays, authors often include playlists with their novels. It’s a great way to bring your characters and story to life. And it’s fun! With my previous novel, Fat Girl Begone!, a playlist was super easy. The novel was, after all, about a girl who gets jilted. Heck, if I was feeling uninspired, the only thing I’d have to do would be to go through Taylor Swift’s discography. No disrespect to Ms. Swift but, man, the girl can hold a grudge!

In many ways, Searching for Gertrude doesn’t lend itself to a playlist. The novel is set during the 1940s. While I certainly can enjoy some big band music, it’s not exactly popular. I still wanted to make a playlist, however, so readers can get an idea of the mood I’m trying to set with the novel. So, here goes.

1.      Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd. As the title of the novel gives away, the story is first and foremost a quest by the hero, Rudolf, to find the love of his life, Gertrude. What better way to start this playlist than with a song about wishing someone was with you? 
2.      Overcome by Live. Although this song is associated with September 11th, I can’t make a song list for Searching for Gertrude without including it. I’m sure the lyrics ‘Cause we're runnin' out of time’ are words the heroine Rosalyn herself thought as she watched Hitler and his armies roll across Europe; seemingly without much resistance.
3.      Imagine by John Lennon. Peoples prejudiced views of religion and people of faith is what keeps Rudolf from his beloved. I imagine if Rudolf ever heard the lyrics ‘Imagine there's no countries ~ It isn't hard to do ~ Nothing to kill or die for ~ And no religion, too ~ Imagine all the people ~ Living life in peace...’ he would vehemently agree with Lennon’s words.
4.      The Times They Are A-Changin’ by Bob Dylan. It’s impossible to make a playlist about troubling times such as the Second World War without including a song from Bob Dylan, the singer/songwriter is the poster child for revolutionary music after all. But which song? I chose this song because it talks of battles raging and waking people up to take a stand. During the first half of Searching for Gertrude, the US has yet to join the Second World War, and Rosalyn is incensed that America maintains its isolationist polices while innocent men, women, and children are being slaughtered.
5.      Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton. I waffled about putting this song on the list. Don’t get me wrong, I think it belongs here. I just wasn’t sure if it was too much of a spoiler. In the end, I couldn’t not include it. I won’t tell you why the song’s on the list, though. If you want to know that, you’ll have to read the book.
6.      Make you feel my love, written by Bob Dylan, performed by Adele. What other love song could I possibly include on this list? This song epitomizes exactly how Rudolf feels about love. He will do whatever he has to in order to have his love returned to him. 

And now that I’ve finished this list, I realized I was wrong. It’s not hard to find a playlist for Searching for Gertrude. There are tons of songs about war and peace and overcoming adversity. The novel is about more than the war in which Rosalyn and Rudolf find themselves embroiled, but these songs set the stage for reading their story in the right frame of mind.

About the Author

Dena (aka D.E.) grew-up reading everything she could get her grubby hands on from her mom's Harlequin romances to Nancy Drew to Little Women. When she wasn't flipping pages in a library book, she was penning horrendous poems, writing songs no one should ever sing, or drafting stories, which she is very thankful have been destroyed. College and a stint in the U.S. Army came along and robbed her of any free time to write or read, although on the odd occasion she did manage to sneak a book into her rucksack between rolled up socks, MRIs, t-shirts, and cold weather gear. After surviving the army experience, she went back to school and got her law degree. She jumped ship and joined the hubby in the Netherlands before the graduation ceremony could even begin. A few years into her legal career, she was exhausted, fed up, and just plain done. She quit her job and sat down to write a manuscript, which she promptly hid in the attic after returning to the law. But being a lawyer really wasn’t her thing, so she quit (again!) and went off to Germany to start a B&B. Turns out being a B&B owner wasn’t her thing either. She polished off that manuscript languishing in the attic before following the husband to Istanbul where she decided to give the whole writer-thing a go. But ten years was too many to stay away from her adopted home. She packed up again and moved back to the Netherlands (The Hague to be exact) where she's currently working on her next book. She hopes she'll always be working on another book.

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About the Book:

Title: SEARCHING FOR GERTRUDE
Author: D.E. Haggerty
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 250
Genre: Historical Romance

BOOK BLURB:
While growing up in Germany in the 1930s, Rudolf falls in love with the girl next door, Gertrude. He doesn’t care what religion Gertrude practices, but the Nazis do. When the first antisemitic laws are enacted by the Nazi government, Gertrude’s father loses his job at the local university. Unable to find employment in Germany, he accepts a position at Istanbul University and moves the family to Turkey. Rudolf, desperate to follow Gertrude, takes a position as a consulate worker in Istanbul with the very government which caused her exile. With Rudolf finally living in the same city as Gertrude, their reunion should be inevitable, but he can’t find her. During his search for Gertrude, he stumbles upon Rosalyn, an American Jew working as a nanny in the city. Upon hearing his heartbreaking story, she immediately agrees to help him search for his lost love. Willing to do anything in their search for Gertrude, they agree to work for a British intelligence officer who promises his assistance, but his demands endanger Rudolf and Rosalyn. As the danger increases and the search for Gertrude stretches on, Rudolf and Rosalyn grow close, but Rudolf gave his heart away long ago.  

How far would you go to find the woman you love?

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Thursday, February 8, 2018

Back Story l Stairway to Paradise by Nadia Natali @nadianatali

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 Back Story: Stairway to Paradise by Nadia Natali

This memoir is about my bumpy journey toward truth and authenticity with the hope that those of you who read it can glean some value.

You may believe fame and wealth bring happiness. That was not my experience.
My mother, sister of George and Ira Gershwin, and my father who invented color film were the primary models in my childhood. Growing up with such talent as I did, you learn early on that it distorts values.

I unwittingly set my brilliant father up as an authority figure, even though he was terrifying and unpredictable. And because the family dynamic was unhealthy I didn’t know whom to trust or even that trust was possible, especially in myself. Later as a young woman I turned away from my background and looked to teachers and professionals for the truth. It took some time for me to realize that their expertise could only take me so far.

After one false start and then another I found a caring partner, Enrico, whom I initially turned to, believing he could impart a way for me to find my own direction and answers, as he seemed to have found for himself. What was so radical to learn was how and where to look. What I learned was going to sensations in the body rather than the thinking mind was where the key to change and transformation lay.

We married and moved out to the wilderness where we faced floods, fire, rattle snakes, mountain lions and bears. In the years it took to build a house we lived in a teepee. We tried to create our own paradise where we raised and homeschooled three children.

Our life turned upside down when the kids became teenagers. Paradise crashed and my relationship with Enrico deteriorated. The grown children struggled to find a place in the outside world. We faced tragedy and I, cancer. This was when my hard earned ability to experience the somatic (inner experience as sensation) helped regulate me and provide me with a chance to find authenticity and authority, as well as a more mature relationship with Enrico. I was able to use this inner working as a way to help others, which I call DanceMedicine, a healing through movement.

We are still living in the wilderness and offer workshops and retreats to anyone who is interested.
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About the Author


Nadia Natali, author of the memoir, Stairway to Paradise: Growing Up Gershwin, published by Rare Bird, Los Angeles, 2015, and The Blue Heron Ranch Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from a Zen Retreat Center published by North Atlantic Books, Berkeley CA, 2008, is currently working on a second cookbook titled Zafu Kitchen Cookbook. 
           
Natali, a clinical psychotherapist and dance therapist, specializes in trauma release through somatic work. She earned a master’s degree from Hunter College in New York City in Dance/Movement Therapy and completed another masters degree in clinical psychology with an emphasis in somatic psychology at the Santa Barbara Graduate Institute. Nadia is a registered practitioner of Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy (RCST) and is also a certified Somatic Experiencing Practitioner (SEP) who trained with Peter Levine.

DanceMedicine Workshops is Natali’s creation where participants move through their trauma with dialogue and dance. She also offers the Ojai community, DanceMedicine Journeys. In addition to her private practice, Nadia and her husband offer Zen Retreats at their center.

Born into a famous family that was riddled with dysfunction, Nadia Natali made the choice to turn her life inside out and step away from fame and fortune. Against her parents’ consent she married an artist and moved to the remote wilderness in California. It was there that she found grounding as she and her husband raised and homeschooled their three children and opened a retreat center. As she gathered her own momentum, she enrolled in a doctorate program finally becoming a clinical psychotherapist specializing in psychosomatic work. She and her husband live in Ojai California.

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About the Book:

Title: STAIRWAY TO PARADISE: GROWING UP GERSHWIN
Author: Nadia Natali
Publisher: RareBird Books
Pages: 304
Genre: Memoir

BOOK BLURB: 

Growing up as Frankie Gershwin's daughter, the sister of George and Ira Gershwin, was quite a challenge. I didn't have the perspective to realize that so much unhappiness in a family was out of the ordinary. But I knew something was off. My mother was often depressed and my father was tyrannical and scary, one never knew when he would blow up. I learned early on that I had to be the cheery one, the one to fix the problems. Both sides of my family were famous; the Gershwin side and my father who invented color film. But even though there was more than enough recognition, money and parties I understood that wasn't what made people happy.

As a young adult adrift and depressed I broke from that unsatisfactory life by marrying Enrico Natali, a photographer, deeply immersed in his own questions about life. We moved into the wilderness away from what we considered as the dysfunction of society. That’s when we discovered that life had other kinds of challenges: flood, fire, rattlesnakes, mountain lions and bears. We lived in a teepee for more than four years while building a house. Curiously my mother never commented on my life choice. She must have realized on some level that her own life was less than satisfactory.

Enrico had developed a serious meditation practice that had become a kind of ground for him. As for me I danced. Understanding the somatic, the inner body experience, became my way to shift the inner story.

We raised and homeschooled our three children. I taught them to read, Enrico taught them math. The kids ran free, happy, always engaged, making things, and discovering. We were so sure we were doing the right thing. However, we didn't have a clue how they would make the transition to the so-called ‘real world’. The children thrived until they became teenagers. They then wanted out. Everything fell apart for them and for Enrico and me. Our lives were turned upside down, our paradise lost. There was tragedy: our son lost his life while attempting to cross our river during a fierce storm. Later I was further challenged by advanced breast cancer.

It was during these times that I delved deeply into the somatic recesses of myself. I began to find my own voice, a long learning process. I emerged with a profound trust in my own authority. It became clear that everyone has to find his or her way through layers of inauthenticity, where a deep knowing can develop. And I came to see that is the best anyone can offer to the world.

Enrico and I still live in the wilds of the Lost Padres National Forest, a paradise with many steps going up and down, a life I would not change.

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