Saturday, November 29, 2014

Interview with Mary-Lou Stephens, author of relationship book 'How To Stay Married'

Mary-Lou Stephens studied acting and played in bands before she got a proper job -in radio. She writes whenever she's not behind the microphone or heading off to a meditation retreat.

Mary-Lou has garnered rave reviews for her memoir Sex, Drugs and Meditation, the true story of how she changed her life, saved her job and found a husband, all with the help of meditation. She lives in Australia with that very same husband, their dog and a hive of killer native bees. 

How To Stay Married is the sequel to Sex, Drugs and Meditation and is the truth behind the happy ending.

Mary-Lou is a blogger for The Huffington Post, a columnist for Holistic Bliss and a regular at writing festivals and events.

Visit Mary-Lou’s website at

About the Book

Title: How to Stay Married
Author: Mary-Lou Stephens
Nelson Bay
Pages: 203
Genre: Self-Help/Relationships/Love and Romance
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

Do you dream of finding the right person to spend your life with? Are you in a strong relationship already and want to keep it that way? Or perhaps your marriage is a little tarnished and you hope to make it shine again? 

You’ve come to the right place. While How to Stay Married isn’t your regular ‘how-to’ book, it is about creating the kind of relationship you want. 

This is the story of a marriage; a journey from fear, resentment and financial devastation, to a place of love, joy and trust. 

Mary-Lou Stephen’s first book Sex, Drugs and Meditation chronicled how meditation changed her life, saved her job and helped her find a husband. How To Stay Married, is the truth behind the happy ending. 

How to Stay Married takes us around the world; from the glitter and glare of Las Vegas to the sub-zero temperatures of the French Alps and the tropical heat of Thailand, all with cabin luggage only. 

The discoveries Mary-Lou makes regarding herself and her marriage are a modern day parable about learning to travel light in life, love and relationships.

Can you tell us what your book is about? 

How To Stay Married is the sequel to Sex, Drugs and Meditation - the true story of how I changed my life, saved my job and found a husband, all with the help of meditation.

How To Stay Married is the truth behind the happy ending. It’s  the story of a marriage; a journey from fear, resentment and financial devastation, to a place of love, joy and trust. 

Why did you write your book?

When my husband and I traveled around the world with cabin luggage only, my friends told me I should write a book about how to travel light. I didn’t think that subject alone would make an interesting book until I saw it as a metaphor for my marriage.

How to Stay Married takes us around the world; from the glitter and glare of Las Vegas to the sub-zero temperatures of the French Alps and the tropical heat of Thailand, all with cabin luggage only.

The discoveries I made regarding myself and my marriage are a modern day parable about learning to travel light in life, love and relationships.

What kind of message is your book trying to tell your readers?

While How to Stay Married isn’t your regular ‘how-to’ book, it is about creating the kind of relationship you want.  There’s a list of Seven Tips For a Happy Marriage (and one from my mum) at the end of the book and by the time you’ve read the book you’ve seen how these tips have played out in my own relationship. But really it’s the tip from my mum that sums it up best:

On her deathbed my mother gave our marriage her blessing. “Remember darling,” she said. “Love is a decision. Every day you make the decision to love the person you’re with. Keep making that decision every day and you’ll have a long and happy marriage, even when it’s not all that happy.”
With the help of all these tips and with everything we’ve learned, The Hubby and I continue on our journey with hope and with love. My wish for my readers and the ones they love is for happy trails and many adventures along the way.
Is it hard to publish a nonfiction book?

The publisher at Pan Macmillan, who published my first book Sex, Drugs and Meditation, asked me why I didn’t use my contacts as a presenter for ABC Radio to get a book deal. I answered that I wanted to get a deal the same way anyone else would. I didn’t want to muddy the waters. I’m constantly approached by the publicists from publishing companies to interview their authors and I didn’t want to make that situation awkward for anyone.
I submitted Sex, Drugs and Meditation through the open submission process that all the big publishers have at present. After many emails and a few hoops to jump through I was offered a contract. I was over the moon.

When Pan Macmillan decided not to publish the sequel, How To Stay Married, I was disappointed but not surprised. My first book hadn’t sold enough copies to warrant them including a sequel in their list. But I love this book and a lot of heart and hard work has gone into it. It’s a very good book. So I thought I’d jump into the waters of self publishing.

It is hard being as honest as you need to be to make a memoir truly shine. I did a lot of soul searching before the final draft of Sex, Drugs and Meditation was ready. I could have lost my job because of what’s written in those pages. I took the risk and I have a fabulous book and I still have my job. I’ve been described as brave by readers and reviewers alike. How To Stay Married makes me braver still.

Which author(s) do you admire?

I admire any one who writes a book, who gets to the end and then writes another draft and then another and another, who does many edits and takes on advice from their editors. I admire authors who support authors, who are generous with the little time they have left over from their own writing, their day job in many cases, and all the other work that goes into the business of writing. Walter Mason is a great example of such a writer. His own books are poignant, personal and humorous travel memoirs. He’s always promoting other writers and is constantly generous with his time and knowledge. And he’s a wonderful writer.

What would you do with an extra hour today if you could do anything you wanted?

I would read more. I love reading but I usually squeeze it in at the end of the day when I’m tired and my eyes just want to close. There’s nothing better than reading in bed and I could easily do an extra hour of it everyday.

If we were to meet for lunch to talk books, where would we go?

You’d come to my place and I’d cook you something delicious (I love cooking and somehow a recipe always ends up in my books). We’d talk about the books in my book shelves, some you would have already read others would interest you. We’d compare notes and you’d give me some recommendations of books you’re sure I would love too. (And you’d drool over my impressive collection of cookbooks.)

What kind of advice would you give other non-fiction authors?

If you’re writing memoir - be brave. I had strong interest from a literary agent many years ago after she’d read the first chapter of Sex, Drugs and Meditation.
She asked to see the rest of what I’d written. This was early on in my writing career and I hadn’t learnt the lesson yet of never showing anyone first draft material. As Stephen King says, “Write the first draft with the door closed. Write the second with the door open.”
The literary agent told me that if I was going to write the book she wanted to read I would have to get honest, really honest. That advice scared me so much I stopped writing the memoir and wrote a novel instead. When I found my courage I finished the book and after many more drafts was offered a publishing contract.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Four Noble Truths by J.D. Buxton

Title: Four Noble Truths
Author: J.D. Buxton
Publisher: iUniverse
Pages: 397
Genre: Action/Adventure
Format: Paperback/Kindle

 Dragon is a handsome, passionate and deeply devoted young man with a hidden, horrible past that haunts him into his present life. After suffering unimaginable abuse in a child pornography ring in Taiwan and an addiction to Heroin, Dragon’s only light on a path of darkness is his love, Raven, who more than fulfills his physical and emotional needs. United by the organization that found and ultimately saved Dragon, he and Raven happily bask in the love of an adopted family of lost souls touched by similar pasts that includes their mentor Sensei, and Wax and Sarge, Dragon’s right-hand men. As they execute their missions to explore the underbelly of the world of human trafficking and the sex trade, and serve the purpose of the organization: to right the wrongs, they have no idea the path they are on will lead them to unlock the door to their freedom. In this compelling story about redemption, love and fate, a young man, his love and his devoted team embark on a dangerous journey to execute vigilante justice for one purpose; to seek out and eliminate the perpetrators of the very crimes from which they all suffered.

 J D Buxton was born and raised in Southern Ontario. After graduating from college, she pursued a career in sales and marketing and lived in Vancouver, British Columbia and Calgary, Alberta where she raised her family. She is married with three children and currently resides in Southern Ontario where she enjoys all things equine, country and western music and home cooking.

Winter Wolf by RJ Blain ~ Book Blast / Contest Giveaway

Winter Wolf

Title:  Winter Wolf
Author: RJ Blain
Genre: Urban Fantasy / Thriller / Supernatural Suspense
Publisher:  Pen & Page Publishing
Publication Date: November 24, 2014
ISBN:  978-1-928148-00-5

Book Description:
The Hunted Wizard
When Nicole dabbled in the occult, she lost it all: Her voice, her family, and her name. Now on the run from the Inquisition, she must prove to herself—and the world—that not all wizards are too dangerous to let live.
The savage murder of a bookstore employee throws Nicole into the middle of Inquisition business, like it or not. Driven by her inability to save the young man’s life, she decides to hunt the killer on her own. Using forbidden magic to investigate the past, she learns that the murderer is in fact a disease that could kill the entire werewolf race.
Forced to choose between saving lives and preserving her own, Nicole embraces the magic that sent her into exile. Without werewolves, the power of the Inquisition would dwindle, and she could live without being hunted.
Nicole’s only hope for success lies in the hands of the werewolves she hates and the Inquisition she fears, but finding someone to trust is only the beginning of her problems. There are those who want to ensure that the werewolves go extinct and that the Inquisition falls.
But, if she fails to find a cure, her family—including her twin sister—will perish…

Book Excerpt: 
Almost everyone in the store had a phone. Dormant devices, from reading lights to mobile chargers, littered the tables. One woman, browsing books nearby, had four battery-powered devices in her purse. One was a phone, and like mine, it hungered. Its need was strong; its battery waned to the point of failure.
If I wanted, I could charge it for her.
No one would notice if I did. Maybe the woman would wonder how her phone hadn’t died before she got home. It only had a few minutes left. It’d take me all of ten seconds to fix it for her. If I did, I wouldn’t be so aware of it. But to do so, I’d have to touch her—or her phone. Some things I could manipulate without having a direct conduit, but cell phone batteries were tricky, greedy things.
I cringed a little, setting the thriller book down. I picked up the next nearest title. I flipped it over, not reading the text on the back. Did I dare? Out of the corner of my eye, I watched the woman browsing through the books. All it would take was a few seconds. I could charge it without her noticing.
That was one thing I was actually good at.
I put the novel I held down and wandered to the same table, careful not to look at her. Book by book, I investigated the titles, circling to where she stood.
“You’re Nicole Thomas, aren’t you? The actress. You’re her.” My quarry appraised me with a pleased expression.
People normally recognized the mainliners, people with beautiful faces and voices to match, people who didn’t avoid crowds.
In short, people other than me.
I met her gaze, abandoning my perusal of novels. “I am,” I replied, wincing a little at the sandpaper-rough quality of my voice. At least I hadn’t been reduced to a whisper—yet. My fatal flaw was my rough, grating voice. Chronic laryngitis did that to a person. It ruined careers, as it had mine, though I hadn’t quite given up on being an actress. I’d already lost the ability to sing.
I wasn’t going to let a stupid disease take everything away from me.
The woman smiled, not seeming to mind talking to someone who sounded more like a zombie than a human. “You’re taller than I expected. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
She thrust out her hand.
We shook.
I left her phone alone.
“They keep putting me next to giants,” I quipped. It was true. When I did manage to get on the silver screen, I worked alongside actors easily a foot-and-a-half taller than me. “It’s a pleasure to meet you too.” I matched her smile. She didn’t tell me her name, and I didn’t ask for it.
It took all of my will not to fiddle with her phone. All it would take was a murmured word and a thought, and it’d be done. It would have been easy to charge the battery when our hands had been clasped together, but I hadn’t dared.
If, sometime later, she noticed her phone had magically been charged—literally—she might remember me. She knew my name.
And in true cowardice, I couldn’t bring myself to help her. If she connected the strange behavior of her phone with me, she might tell someone. If she did, I’d be as good as dead—or worse. I had dabbled in the occult, and the occult had dabbled back, and there were those who didn’t like when that happened.
The last thing I needed was them finding me.

Purchase Book at:

RJ Blain
RJ Blain suffers from a Moleskine journal obsession, a pen fixation, and a terrible tendency to pun without warning.
When she isn't playing pretend, she likes to think she's a cartographer and a sumi-e painter. In reality, she herds cats and a husband. She is currently on a quest for a new warrior fish.
In her spare time, she daydreams about being a spy. Should that fail, her contingency plan involves tying her best of enemies to spinning wheels and quoting James Bond villains until she is satisfied.

Favorite Books & Series (In no particular order):
Anne McCaffrey's Pern
Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar & Gryphon Series
Jim Butcher's Codex Alera & The Dresden Files
Brandon Sanderson's Elantris
Patricia Briggs' Alpha and Omega, Dragon Bones, & The Mercy Thompson series
Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time

Contact RJ at:

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Contest Giveaway

Pump Up Your Book and Author RJ Blain are teaming up to give away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive the prize.
  • This giveaway begins September 3 and ends on November 25, 2014.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on November 26, 2014.
  • Winner has 72 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Book Blast Event Schedule

Book Blast Event Schedule
November 24, 2014

Laurahonest Reads
The Great Reads
The ReviewNotes
Mythical Books
Lilac Reviews
My Life, Loves & Passion
Book Reviews Etc
Paranormal & Romantic Suspense Reviews
Jersey Girl Book Reviews
The Writer's Life
As The Page Turns
Beyond The Books
The Book Rack
Literary Speaking
The Literary Nook
The Story Behind The Book
Read My First Chapter

Friday, November 21, 2014

Interview with Glenn Bassett, author of Wordplay

Wordplay Title: Wordplay
Author: Glenn Bassett
Publisher: Organization Diagnostics
Pages: 270
Genre: Business
Format: Paperback/Kindle

 WordPlay lays out the functions of language as the foundation of what is loosely called mind. Studies of language in primitive cultures by anthropological linguists demonstrate the existence of a basic set of words called semantic primes in every cultural setting. Language is extended and elaborated on the foundation of semantic primes to construct a mental map of the perceived phenomenal world. Once in place, a rich culture of language is passed on from each generation to the next by example. Words ultimately become so ubiquitous and necessary that they take on a reality all their own. Mental maps become more real than the reality of direct experience. Establishment of a critical capacity for knowing truth demands a study of psycholinguistics. The fund of social psychological research made available through research over the past century offers a window on the way words are used to captivate, illuminate, intimidate, inform and imbue us with intelligence. WordPlay is a compilation of the most salient research that pertains to language use. It is a layman’s introduction to psycholinguistics. The emphasis is on how words shape behavior and become the substance of the mind. This is knowledge of those habits of mind that can interfere with straight, clear thinking. It is antidote to functional social ignorance of our rich language culture.

For More Information

Q: Thank you for this interview, Dr. Glenn Bassett.   Can you tell us what your latest book, WordPlay is all about?

The sub-title of WordPlay is How Words Captivate, Illuminate, Intimidate, Inform and Imbue Us With Intelligence.  The book explores the ways that language shapes us as individuals, determines how we think and sometimes takes over and runs our lives.  The first chapter concludes with this rhetorical comment, The ultimate question may be, who is in control, the words or the human being.  That tees-up the book precisely.  If you choose to be academic about it, this is popular psycholinguistics, quite unlike any other treatise on the subject you can find.

Q: How did you come up with the idea?

A: One of the two legs of my doctoral program was Social Psychology, which is probably the most solidly practical kind of Psychology you can find.  Social Psych often deals with the ways that words manipulate and confuse people.  My long time interest in primate language acquisition took on meaning when I noticed that teaching chimps to communicate with their trainers with American Sign Language was based on behavioral conditioning, the most practical and applied form of Social Psych.  Imagine, chimps can be turned into social beings using standard psychological protocol.  Wow!  Everything took off from there.

Q: What kind of research did you do before and during the writing of your book?

A:  I was already partially steeped in Neuropsychology from deep exposure to the split brain experiments of Nobel lauriate Roger Sperry and his colleague, Michael Gazziniga.  I needed to fill out that field to get clear on how the brain handles language at the neurological level.  In my preparatory research I came across reference to the early twentieth century cross-cultural language research of Edwin Sapir and Benjamin Lee Whorf.  That led to the work of Anna Wierzbicka, a present day cultural anthropologist who specializes in comparisons of meaning across diverse cultures.  That opened the door to the power of culture in forming and transmitting language.  The influence of philosophy on the intellectual development of language required a thorough review of the history of Philosophy.  The psychological study of essences, words that seem to reflect reality but do not, brought me full circle. 

Q: If a reader can come away from reading your book with one valuable message, what would that be?

A:  You can either be in control of the effect of language has on your life, or otherwise, language will be in control of you.

Q: Can you give us a short excerpt?

A:  Here are two paragraphs from the first chapter –

The importance of language as a primary means of social connection gives words much of their emotional power.  Personal status, access to food, clothing, housing, and mating all require language competence.  A complex economy of skill specialization where few grow their own food, build their own shelter or spin fabric for their personal clothing requires each person to find a place in the social system.  Negotiation of personal need within the cultural envelope demands language use.  Language itself becomes a survival, or at a minimum, a coping tool.  Without language, life is hard, very hard.  Words loaded with emotion become cultural messages that describe and forewarn of life’s opportunities and threats.  

The sense of real concreteness that saturates words is equally amazing.  Even before they become associated with sentiments, words are more than mere labels for things, events and ideas.  They are permeated with meaning so rich that they become those things, events and ideas.  Branded deep in the inner recesses of the brain, they are our world, our environment, ourselves.  Language is a remarkable capability that sneaks up on and takes over the mind.  Language is not so much learned as it is absorbed.  A child listens, imitates and, somehow, finds meaning in the words spoken by parents, siblings, relatives, neighbors, and others in the common speech culture.  Once speech is mastered, there is no memory of former speechlessness, no awareness of having learned.  Once acquired, the words that play on our lips are as familiar and unnoticed as the air we breathe.  We cannot imagine living and acting without them.

Q: In your own experience, is it hard to get a nonfiction book published today?  How did you do it?

A:  Academic quality books written by credentialed professors can usually find a publisher but the price of the book will be far out of range for the standard book store.  Popular non-fiction of a social science sort is treated as entertainment and is often very limited in depth.  Real social science that is readable and entertaining probably seems to be too big a risk for a mass publisher to take on.  This book and its distribution would not happen without the self-publishing support of New Shelves.

Q: What’s next for you?

A:  The power of ideology to drive lives and governmental policies both disturbs and fascinates me.  I have partially drafted a study of the influence of ideology on economics and government policy over the last century.  Much important experience with the power of ideology has been forgotten and deserves to be recovered.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Dr. Bassett.  We wish you much success!

A:  Thank you for the opportunity.  It has been a pleasure!!

  Dr. Glenn Bassett is Professor Emeritus of Management and former Dean of Business at the University of Bridgeport.  A graduate of Berkeley and Yale, as well as a former corporate staffer at General Electric, Dr. Bassett’s career has focused on applied Social Psychology.  WordPlay is the result of exended research into the science of psycholinguistics. He is the author of numerous articles and published books, including The Managers Craft. For More Information

A Dead End in Vegas Book Blitz

We're happy to be hosting Irene Woodbury and her A Dead End in Vegas Book Blitz today!

About the Book:

Title: A Dead End in Vegas
Author: Irene Woodbury
Publisher: Synerg Ebooks
Pages: 248
Genre: Women's Fiction
Format: Paper/Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

As Dave Sloan is leaving for the Denver airport to pick up his wife, Tricia, the phone rings. It’s the cops in Las Vegas.  His wife is dead.  Her nude body was found that morning in a hotel room at the Bellagio.

Dave is stunned and devastated.  He thought she was in Phoenix at a week-long teachers’ conference.  A lie, of course, concocted by Tricia, who flew to Phoenix, then drove to Vegas to meet her Internet lover, the handsome, charming, and very much married Joe Daggett of Chicago.

When Joe can’t join her, Tricia’s a mess.  He calls a close friend, Al Posey, who lives in Vegas, and asks him to take her to dinner.  Al and Tricia hit it off and wind up in bed.  On Saturday morning, he walks out of her hotel room at nine.  Three hours later, her lifeless body is found by a maid. 

A DEAD END IN VEGAS is a searing exploration of how Tricia Sloan’s tragic, mysterious death shatters, and later transforms, the lives of her family and friends. 

Book Excerpt:

Dave interrupted Pam.
“Excuse me,” he said sharply.  “Your husband claimed the suggestive e-mails were written by a hacker?  Who on earth could that be?”
                   “How should I know?” she snapped.  “Maybe some
disgruntled student who didn’t like the grade they got on a term paper, or a tech major trying to make a name for himself.  This is a college campus.  There are always precocious students who are bored with regular class-work and amuse themselves by hacking into professors’ e-mail accounts to make trouble.  They have some laughs over a few beers and move on to the next victim.  It’s everyday life on a college campus.”
                   Dave sighed.
“So you’re telling me that my wife was an Internet
stalker, and the e-mails and photos came from some student hacker?”
“Yes, that’s right,” she confirmed with a nod.  “My husband was the victim, not the perpetrator.”
“Excuse me, Mrs. Daggett, but I can’t sit here and listen to this garbage one more minute.  Your husband is a liar!”  Dave charged, rising from his chair and grabbing his briefcase.  He opened it with a flourish and dumped the contents on her desk.

About the Author: 

Irene Woodbury’s second novel, A DEAD END IN VEGAS, is a dark, probing look at marriage, infidelity, revenge, and grief.  Immersing herself in drama and dysfunction for months on end was a challenge for this upbeat author, whose first book, the humor novel A SLOT MACHINE ATE MY MIDLIFE CRISIS, was published by SynergEbooks in 2011.  At first glance, the two novels seem quite different, but both deal with midlife confusion and chaos, and the complexities and unpredictable nature of the human heart.  And both, of course, are partially set in Las Vegas, a city Irene got to know well during her years as a travel writer.  Between 2000 and 2005, her stories appeared in major newspapers in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Irene, who graduated from the University of Houston in 1993, lives in Denver with her husband, Richard, a retired correspondent for Time Magazine who edited both of her novels.  The couple miss traveling, but, after two novels, Irene insists there’s no greater journey than the one into your own heart and mind. 

For More Information

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Interview with Timothy Spillane, author of Four Before Their Time

November is "National Prematurity Awareness Month" (Nov. 17 is "World Prematurity Day").There are nearly a half million babies born prematurely in this country every year. 

Title: Four Before Their Time
Author: Timothy Spillane
Publisher: Skitterbird, LLC
Pages: 342
Genre: Memoir
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Anne had it all. She was a physician, an Army officer, and a great wife. She'd be a great mom, too. But the joy of pregnancy is short-lived after an ultrasound reveals that Anne isn't just pregnant, she's really pregnant - with quadruplets! Now her dad, Tim Spillane, is a grandfather four times over, and much too soon. Just 24 weeks into her pregnancy, Anne delivered, and not one of Tim's grandkids weighs more than half a mug of coffee. So underdeveloped that even calling them babies feels wrong, the odds of just one of them surviving - let alone all four - are heartbreakingly low. And even if the children pull through, they face the likelihood of disabilities so severe that they'd have no real quality of life. It all seems hopeless until Tim's wife observes that just seeing the quads is like "being allowed a glimpse into the miracle that grows in a mother's womb." Four Before Their Time is the true story of four babies surviving on a razor's edge, one mom's overwhelming and guilt-ridden entrance into parenthood, and an entire family's experiences with extreme premature birth. It will take all the faith, hope, and resilience the Spillane family can muster - along with more than a few miracles - just to get the quadruplets home.

For More Information

  • Four Before Their Time is available at Amazon.
Q: Thank you for this interview, Tim. Can you tell us what your latest book, Four Before Their Time: A Story of Hope, Resilience and Miracles, is all about?

A:  It’s a family memoir. Our daughter Anne is a physician, an Army officer and a great wife. We knew she’d be a great mom, too. But the joy of pregnancy is short lived when she learns she isn’t just pregnant, she’s really pregnant – with quadruplets.
   When Anne’s health deteriorates so rapidly that her pregnancy threatens her very life, the babies are delivered at 24 weeks. Not one weighs as much as a half a mug of coffee. They are so underdeveloped that even calling them babies feels wrong, and the odds of just one of them surviving – let alone all four – are heartbreakingly low. Hope begins to surface, however, when Anne’s mom notes that just seeing the quads is like “being allowed a glimpse into the miracle that grows in a mother’s womb.”
   Four Before Their Time tells the gut-wrenching story of my four grandbabies’ struggle to live, my daughter’s guilt-ridden entrance into parenthood, and our entire family’s experiences with extreme premature birth. Ultimately, it’s a triumphant story of love and survival that is almost too remarkable to believe.

Q: How did you come up with the idea?

A: Well, I wouldn’t have picked this experience for my family if I had a choice. But I wouldn’t trade what we’ve gained through this journey for anything, either.

Q: What kind of research did you do before and during the writing of your book?

A: There was an amazing amount of medical detail to sort through. I avoided it as much as possible while the babies were in the midst of their worst struggles. It was my coping mechanism. But to tell the story I knew I’d have to get a good grasp on what exactly they endured. Fortunately, two of our daughters are physicians and my wife is an EMT. They were an invaluable resource.

Q: If a reader can come away from reading your book with one valuable message, what would that be?

A: Hang onto hope. When it slips away, grab for it again. Miracles come from doing that.

Q: Can you give us a short excerpt?

A: I think writing about personal faith is one of the most challenging things for any author. I was reluctant to do it because I didn’t want this book to be seen as overtly Christian…
   “I don’t know exactly when it happened, only that it did. It wasn’t miraculous. I didn’t see God walking in the corridors of Wilford Hall [Hospital], just Timmy, Edda, Lily and Wyatt resting peacefully in their cribs one afternoon. Looking down at them I saw for the first time what God must have always seen in me. And what I saw was nothing. These tiny lives lying helpless in the NICU possessed nothing; prostrated, they could offer nothing; their only hopes were those given to them by others. Pitiable as they were pathetic at birth, their condition desperate as it was wretched, they could no more conceive of what they needed than they could ask for it. The wonderful paradox was although there was nothing the babies could do to make me love them there was at the same time nothing they could do to make me stop. Realizing that truth led to another: I could never love the babies in the way I did except that God had loved me like that first. As surely as His eyes were on Timmy, Edda, Lily and Wyatt, they had also always been on me. He saw my life no differently than I did theirs: lying helpless before Him I possessed nothing to gain His love, prostrating myself I could never merit it, forlorn of hope I could not even conceive of the possibility that He loved me.
   But He did. He had to. He could not help Himself.”

Q: In your own experience, is it hard to get a nonfiction book published today?  How did you do it?

A: We contacted scores of agents without any success. In the end, I decided our best route was to self-publish. I’m glad I did. Good stories need to be told. I believe this story had to be told.

Q: What’s a typical day like for you?

A: I’ve recently shuttered my construction business that I’ve owned for 25 years. It’s given me tremendous flexibility to work on this book. But I miss the routine that I’d known for so long. Being an author can leave you on something of an island. I don’t really have “typical” days anymore, and that can be unsettling.

Q: What’s next for you?

A: I’m thinking about writing a children’s book – a book that parents of premature babies can read to their children during those long, scary days in the neo-natal intensive care unit. I write in my book about reading to my daughter’s babies while they were still in her womb. The story I read them – Annie Proulx’s wonderful short story, Deep-Blood-Greasy-Bowl – was hardly a children’s story, but I believe that sharing it created a bond between us. And my daughter loved that I did it.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Tim.  We wish you much success!

A: You’re welcome!

Tim and his wife live in Chester County, PA and are the parents of three daughters. They became grandparents when their daughter, Anne delivered quadruplets in April, 2010. A graduate of Colorado College (1979) with a degree in English Literature, Tim returned to school to earn his Masters of Public Health from Drexel University in 2005. He has worked in residential construction for more than three decades but is now focusing full-time on his writing. He currently serves on the executive board of Graham's Foundation, an organization for parents and families going through the journey of prematurity. 

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Warrior of the Way by Nathan Chandler

Warrior of the Way Title: Warrior of the Way
Author: Nathan Chandler
Publisher: iUniverse
Pages: 376
Genre: Fantasy
Format: Ebook
 Purchase at AMAZON 

Civil war is a curse that touches everyone, including King Tashdar of the Mulamar. When he is ordered by a powerful and mysterious stranger to send warriors toward Kanai and Kadisha to slaughter everyone, Tashdar has no choice but to obey. As the Hebari emperor’s palace is invaded, only one man escapes—a captain of the guard to whom the emperor has entrusted the safety of his remaining two children. Moments later, the emperor’s legacy is erased from the face of the earth. More than forty years later, Pasha Nuvahli of the Sashramans tribe, greatest of the king’s warriors, is devastated when his wife is murdered and his son is kidnapped. Overcome with despair as war and a dangerous sorcerer threaten the southern tribes, Pasha soon finds himself in a crisis of faith as he ponders why Daiyu has allowed such sorrow to befall him. But after he learns of an ancient prophecy and his hidden connection to the last emperor of the south, Pasha is sent by King Juktan to seek an alliance with the five other Hebari tribes and lead them against an ancient enemy from the north. Suddenly, his life takes on a new meaning. In this compelling story, a worried king looks to his greatest warrior to unify the south with the hope the young soldier can save his people before all is lost forever.


 Nathan Chandler received an associate’s degree in technical Spanish translation from Oklahoma State University–Oklahoma City and currently attends the University of Oklahoma, where he is majoring in international business with an emphasis in Chinese language. Nathan resides in Norman, Oklahoma, where he continues to write.

Interview with Debra Mares, author of children's book 'It's This Monkey's Business'

For Independent Author Debra Mares, violence against women is not only a topic in today's news, it's a topic in her crime novels, cases she handled as a county prosecutor, and now it will be the topic in her first children's book It's This Monkey's Business.  Debra is a veteran county prosecutor in Riverside currently specializing in community prosecution, juvenile delinquency and truancy.  Her office has one of the highest conviction rates in California and is the fifteenth largest in the country. You name it - she's prosecuted it - homicides, gang murders, domestic violence, sex cases, political corruption, major fraud and parole hearings for convicted murderers. She is a two-time recipient of the County Prosecutor of the Year Award and 2012 recipient of the Community Hero Award.

Debra is the granddaughter of a Mexican migrant farm worker and factory seamstress, was born and raised in Los Angeles, was the first to graduate college in my family, and grew up dancing Ballet Folklorico and Salsa. Her own family story includes struggles with immigration, domestic violence, mental health, substance abuse and teen pregnancy, which she addresses in her novels. She followed a calling at 11 years old to be an attorney and voice for women, and appreciates international travel and culture. Her life's mission is to break the cycle of victimization and domestic violence. 

Debra is also the co-founding Executive Director of Women Wonder Writers, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization implementing creative intervention and mentoring programs for at-risk youth.  In 2012, Debra self-published Volume 1 of her debut legal thriller series, The Mamacita Murders featuring Gaby Ruiz, a sex crimes prosecutor haunted by her mother's death at the hands of an abusive boyfriend. In 2013, Debra released her second crime novel, The Suburban Seduccion, featuring "The White Picket Fence" killer Lloyd Gil, who unleashes his neonatal domestic violence-related trauma on young women around his neighborhood. 

To bring to life "Cabana," Debra partnered with 16-year-old Creative Director Olivia Garcia and Los Angeles based professional illustrator Taylor Christensen

16-year-old Creative Director Olivia Garcia attends high school in Panorama City, California, is the Los Angeles youth delegate for the Anti-Defamation League's National Youth Leadership Mission in Washington D.C., an ASB member and AP student and enjoys reading, crafting and knitting.

Taylor Christensen is a Los Angeles-based illustrator holding a BFA from Otis College of Art & Design, focuses on fantastical creatures and surreal imagery, and produces artwork for illustration, character and concept design.
Her latest book is the children’s picture book, It’s This Monkey’s Business.

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About the Book:

"Cabana," a young spider monkey is brought to life to tell her story It's This Monkey's Business to help children who are affected by domestic violence and divorce. Cabana, who lives with her parents in a treehouse high up in a rainforest canopy, becomes startled one day from her Mama's scream, when she is waiting atop a tree branch for her Papa to teach her how to swing. After falling to the forest floor, Cabana frustrated from her parents' fighting, decides she will search for a new family to be part of. Her persistence is cut short when she braves the river to play with a pink dolphin, unaware she cannot swim. The tragedy brings her parents together to realize they can no longer live together. Cabana reconnects with her Papa, realizing he is the only one that can teach her how to swing.

It's This Monkey's Business is an approximately 756 word children's book targeting ages 4-8, which is set in a rainforest and featuring "Cabana," a young female Spider Monkey, her parents and rainforest animals. The book is approximately 30 pages long and features full spread color illustrations. 

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  • It’s This Monkey’s Business is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Can you tell us what your book is about?

Thanks for taking the time to interview me about It’s This Monkey’s Business, my first children’s book.  The main character Cabana is a juvenile spider monkey who is brought to life to talk about her exposure to domestic violence.  It’s written in narrative poetry with rhyming couplets to help deliver a story with a strong message to children in a friendly enough way.  The book is set in a rainforest and introduces other animals like Cabana’s monkey parents, a jaguar and toucan to name a few.

Why did you write your book?

I wrote my book to bring awareness to domestic violence and help all families and children acknowledge it, talk about it, process it, and most importantly, know they are not alone.

I hope the story will support a strong message to children of domestic violence that they are not alone, it is not their fault, it’s okay to talk about it and abuse is not right.  I also hope to encourage parents to acknowledge a child’s feelings, allow them to express their fear, and talk about what has happened to them so they can move forward, heal and thrive, even when their family goes through this. 

For all kids who read the book, even those not affected by abuse, I hope the story supports a strong message of empathy.  Being able to put themselves in the shoes of another youngster who is experiencing violence at home can be powerful, so others can be supportive, tell someone if they suspect it’s going on, and be nice to the youngster instead of blaming them, gossiping about them or bullying them. I also hope the story helps to start a conversation early on in childhood about healthy relationships, open and honest communication where both people can grow, learn and develop into strong people and emotionally healthy people who help decide things together about the relationship. It’s important to start having these conversations early, especially when studies show 1 out of 3 women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.

Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

The rainforest setting does play a major part of the story because Cabana is forced to explore it during her journey in ways I don’t think she anticipated.  She’s used to riding on her mama’s back among the tallest trees in the canopy.  So the story develops in large part through the use of the rainforest setting.

Open the book to page 6.  What is happening?

At page 6, Cabana has fallen from a tree after becoming startled from her mama’s scream from the treehouse and lands upon the forest floor, a place she’s unfamiliar with.  She begins to formulate a plan to get away from her dysfunctional treehouse and sets out on her journey, which takes us through the rest of the book.

Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?

I’m glad you asked that, because It’s This Monkey’s Business was written in an effort to overcome my writer’s block.  Writing a children’s book was completely unconventional for me.  I had written two legal thrillers, The Mamacita Murders and The Suburban Seduccion, which I had released in October 2013.  Later that year around Christmastime, I started to develop It’s This Monkey’s Business.  I just went with it and started developing a children’s book idea, having no idea what I was doing.  It was more important for me at that point to create something...anything, because I had abandoned my daily writing ritual for a couple months.  I began plotting Cabana’s story and then turned my attention to researching children’s books. I think it all worked out for the best, but that remains to be seen!

Which holiday is your favorite and why?

My favorite holidays are Halloween and Thanksgiving.  I love the fall and how the seasons change.  For Halloween, costumes come out.  It’s fun to hide behind things, put on masks and dress up.  The weather starts to change and I love fantasy, pretend and supernatural.  A part of me growing up, always had to pretend to be something I wasn’t out of fear that someone would discover what was going on; that’s what happens to a lot of children affected by domestic violence.  They don’t talk about things because from an early age you learn things are a secret and not to leave the home.  Halloween feels like home for me; a chance to pretend that things aren’t as they really are.  I also really like Thanksgiving because it represents the things I value so much: giving, food and family. I just love cooking at home, with spices lingering and family relaxed, calm, and basking in the tryptophan.  It’s such a peaceful and safe site, something rare for me, growing up.

What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors?

The advice I’d like to give to fiction authors is to just keep writing and to explore writing in different genres.  I think it’s important for writers to challenge themselves regularly, because writers grow with every new challenge they take on.  To avoid writer’s block from setting in, it’s important to treat writing like a job, not a hobby.  Everyday, we go into work, and likewise, everyday we should write.  I believe most fiction stories need to be told, just like the nonfiction ones, because they are beautiful ones.  No matter where they originate, like other stories, they entertain us and deliver important messages, which need to be shared.

Thank you so much for the interview and the opportunity to talk about this important issue!