Tag Archives: Guest

Guest #Author #Shehanne Moore

Shehanne MooreShehanne Moore writes dark and smexy historical romance, featuring bad boys who need a bad girl to sort them out. She firmly believes everyone deserves a little love, forgiveness, and a second chance in life.  When not cuddling inn signs in her beloved Scottish mountains alongside Mr. Shey, and spending time with her lovely daughters and grandbaby, Shehanne can be found playing the odd musical instrument and relishing, what in any other country would not be defined as hill-walking. The dudes are her wee companions, hamsters (excuse me, hamstahs) who have a penchant for telling it like it is 🙂

** Find Shehanne’s books here and here. **

Welcome, Shey and Dudes!

 

So Tina, first of all can I just thank you for asking me here today to talk about myself and my work. And not just me. You were kind enough to ask the dudes. As you can see they are very happy. Thrilled, in fact, to be here.

Shey, I’m thrilled to host you and the dudes. All of you were such gracious hosts when I visited your blog, so I’m even more delighted you accepted my invitation to visit mine.

Shehanne Moore

I’m nothing if not sensible, my dear dudes. Thank you for noticing! 

Shehanne Moore

D.G. Kaye Uh-oh . . . 

Shehanne MooreOf course! That goes without saying. 

Shehanne Moore

Dudes, little guys, can we just can it, thank you?

Shehanne Moore

Tina didn’t ask you here to talk about you.

Um . . . Shey? It’s okay if the dudes talk a little about themselves, because our followers adore them 

Shehanne Moore

Shehanne Moore

But dudes, we never.

Shehanne Moore

Shehanne Moore

Shehanne Moore

But guys……

Shehanne Moore

Shehanne MooreShehanne MooreShehanne Moore
Shehanne MooreShehanne Moore

Shehanne Moore

Shehanne Moore

Shehanne Moore

Dudes, you haven’t mentioned the Time Mutants.

Shehanne Moore

Shehanne Moore

Shehanne Moore

Shehanne Moore

Shehanne Moore

Shehanne Moore

Shehanne Moore

Well…….. I wouldn’t exactly say—

Shehanne Moore

https://shehannemoore.wordpress.com/blog-3/

Shehanne Moore

Err….. Tina, what can I say, but sorry?

No need for apologies, Shey. I think the dudes did a fine job promoting you and your books. All of you are welcome here anytime. Thank you for being such lively and charismatic guests. 

Excerpt from The Viking and The Courtesan
            She glided closer. She had come to speak with him, wife to husband. And she had chosen here to do it because it was public. Those who thought the sun shone from the backend of his brown velvet breeches had a lot to learn.  Was it enough to propel her forward into the alcove though? Or should she turn, make her excuses and go?  Foisting a foundling on a man, even a man as bad as Cyril, did seem a hugely significant step to take. One that probably did not speak well of her character. Think of the life it would have though.  She closed her eyes, letting the jasmine scented pleasantry waft through her senses. That room off the Ratcliff Highway seethed with every smell imaginable. Not one of them was nice. She must do this. She opened her eyes, took a deep breath.
               “My lord.”
              Of course, she might have known Cyril would be more interested in looking at her breasts than her face. Maybe she should have ventured in here topless? Still, at least he was looking at her.
              “Cyril. Husband.”
              Now that jerked his chin up. If ever there was a way to bring a dog to heel, this was surely it.
              “I knew I should find you here before me, my dearest. And involved in a wager too. My lords, you must excuse Cyril, especially when he does not possess the money to pay any debts. And, we are shortly to require every penny we own.”
              “Malice?” He peered at her closely. “Malice? Is that you?”
              “Most certainly it’s not Aunt Carter’s silver teapot, my dearest husband.”
              She would keep with the endearments for the time being. It would not do for anyone here to think she was anything less than fond—the sole reason she clasped his wrist. “I know you find every time you see me like a first time, but caution yourself. It is not seemly to behave in this manner here.”
              “Malice, what the hell are you doing here? Let go of my—”
              She lowered her voice to a whisper. “When I have come to talk divorce, I advise you to stop tugging. I will let go when I am good and ready to let go.”
              “Divorce?”
              One little word to guarantee complete obedience from the damned dog.
              He cleared his throat, elegant in the fall of lace. Then he stood up. “You want to talk divorce? Divorce with me, Malice?”
              “I am looking, but I don’t see any other man here I am married to. Do you?”
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I hope you enjoyed this colorful post of the dudes defying promoting their human with charm and flavor. Please visit Shehanne’s sites, like and share. Thank you so much for stopping by  ❤
Learn more about Shehanne:    Blog    Website    Amazon US               Amazon UK   Barnes & Noble    Kobo   The Dudes   Twitter   Facebook   Facebook   Pinterest   

Guest #Author #Luna Saint Claire

Luna Saint ClaireI’m delighted to feature Luna Saint Claire, an author and costume designer who describes herself as an eclectic bohemian. She lives in Los Angeles, CA with her husband, a philosophy professor. Luna’s début novel is The Sleeping Serpent.  Purchase it HERE. Welcome, Luna!

 

Tell us a little about yourself.  I recently left a career as a Hollywood costume designer for film and television, and I am currently splitting my time between New York and Los Angeles. My darling husband of a great many years is a philosophy professor and author. I enjoy a variety of musical styles. I was a ballet dancer, so classical music is a big part of my life. My fashion style can best be described as eclectic bohemian, mixing vintage pieces and well-worn jeans. I was adopted as an infant and learned quite early about my Native American heritage, which informs my life and my work.

What is the title and genre of your latest book? Who published it?  The Sleeping Serpent is a woman’s struggle to break an obsessive bond with her yoga master. Published by Compelled Books.

Tell us a little about your book.  Bored with her conventional and circumscribed existence, Luna feels herself becoming invisible. When she meets Nico Romero, a charismatic yoga guru, his attentions awaken her passions and desires. Infatuated, she becomes entangled in Nico’s life as he uses his mesmerizing sexuality to manipulate everyone around him in his pursuit of women, wealth, and celebrity. Immensely erotic and psychologically captivating, it is the story of a woman’s obsession with a spellbinding guru and the struggle to reclaim her life.

Purchase Luna’s books HERE.  
Excerpt

Gazing into his eyes, she descended into a dark green pool of
memories and familiar feelings from long-ago. Again, she heard her name in the foreign tongue Nico was chanting. Tumbling deeper and deeper, she spiraled down a funnel of undulating rivers, fragrant pine trees, and the sweet scent of oranges. She felt a flood of understanding and knowledge—that time no longer existed, and there was no self and no other, they were one. Nico reached over and placed a garland of herbs around her neck, then he wrapped them around her wrists, like bracelets. Stroking her hair, he held the staff above her head while chanting her name, and she descended further into the elliptical galaxy of his eyes—right into his soul.

What inspired you to write it?  I became embroiled in the lives of a The Sleeping Serpentspellbinding yoga guru and his entourage of beautiful, intelligent, successful women in Hollywood. Luckily, I wasn’t in a romantic relationship with him. Yet, he still had influence over me. Nico is a gifted healer but uses his power for the dark side of self-interest—to acquire wealth and fame. Luna believes she can heal him because he has awakened something inside her she thought was lost. He has made her feel that anything is possible.

What inspires you to write in general?  I love the creative process. I have been a dancer, a painter, and costume designer, and now an author. I consider myself a creator and I cherish the introspection that writing offers. Reading other authors’ fiction that is well crafted and thought provoking gives me the motivation. But ideas that come from the universe and poke me in my soul are the inspiration.

When and what did you first start writing?  A college friend I hadn’t spoken with in years helped me understand that I had become an addict. I never considered my obsession with a person as an addiction. As I researched relationship abuse, I began to comprehend how one becomes compelled and loses themselves in the process. She encouraged me to write the book as a healing device. All the characters, places, and events are fiction but I drew emotionally from my experience to create the characters.

What authors have most influenced you? How and why?  A few authors that come to mind are Isak Dinesen. Her stunning memoir Out of Africa is a work of beauty and sorrow. Everything by Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake, Interpreter of Maladies, and Unaccustomed Earth. There is one book, Cold Mountain by James Frazier, whose stunning characters leave you breathless. Another extraordinary stylist I idolize is Ian McEwan (Atonement, Chesil Beach, Comfort of Strangers), and I mustn’t forget to include Cormac McCarthy’s brutal coming of age Border Trilogy. I have always been inspired by Jim Harrison (Legends of the Fall is a favorite) whose style and stories are not unlike Hemingway.

How do you write – outline or free flow?  The Sleeping Serpent was written with an outline. My WIP is being written with a Hero’s Journey arc, but no outline.

What genres do you like to read? For the most part I read Literary Fiction and Memoir.

In what genres do you write?  My debut novel, The Sleeping Serpent, is psychological women’s fiction because it is a woman’s journey to reclaim her life. Women’s Fiction are stories women can talk about, and say, “Hey, I’ve gone through that.” I hope with my story women will learn they are not alone.

Black, Blue, & Purple PainWhere and what time of day do you like to write? Why?  I like to begin just after breakfast. Shut down my phone and Facebook and write all day until I stop and go to the gym. But there are days, like this one, where I am doing an interview instead.

Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it?  I recently hit a wall and I suppose you can call it writer’s block. I read authors that inspire me and hope I am mystically communing with the inspiration gods and calling them to me.

If you have a blog, what subjects do write about?  I don’t have a blog. I do have Tumblr where I post book reviews, interviews, excerpts, and often pieces about relationship abuse and narcissistic personality disorder.

How do you schedule your time between writing and keeping your physical life together?  My husband and I do a lot together and we have some flexible time. For myself, I go to the gym to stay healthy and in shape.

Do you have other publishing credits? If so, what are they?  I am a contributing author in Black, Blue & Purple Pain – a domestic violence anthology.

How and where have you marketed your work?  My book is available worldwide on Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, IBookstore, and Kobo. As for marketing, I have done eight interviews and been featured on nearly fifty blogs. I am active in the author/blogger/ reader/reviewer community on Facebook, participate in Facebook events, and do author takeovers on Facebook Blog pages and in groups.

E-book or paper – do you have a preference?  I am probably about 50/50.

What is your current writing project?  My WIP, tentatively titled The Serpent Awakens, is also a psychological spiritual journey. I have been researching the mystical shamans of the Andes as well as the shamans of the Amazon jungle that utilize psychotropic substances such as ayahuasca to heal.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing? Any hobbies?  My husband and I enjoy traveling when time allows. We enjoy hiking as much as we enjoy art gallery hopping. We love cooking (which includes dancing around the living room) almost as much as dining at our favorite restaurants.

What advice would you give a new writer?  I would ask myself why I want to write? If you find it is a necessity that you must write, I believe you will be fulfilled. The esteemed Anne Patchett, whose books never fail, wrote a little memoir titled, Truth and Beauty, about her friendship with Lucy Grealy. In it she writes, “Writing is a job, a talent, but it’s also the place to go in your head. It is the imaginary friend you drink your tea with in the afternoon.”

What do you wish to say to your readers?  I hope you find my book moves you in unexpected ways. I hope it challenges your views on love and friendship and that you leave it having a greater understanding and even compassion for those afflicted with narcissistic personality disorder, a devastating mental illness. Sociopaths target victims by keenly identifying their vulnerabilities, and playing to their desires. Charming and magnetic, they appear to be perfect—the answer to your prayers. Truth is, they have targeted you.

What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book?  I am always honored when a review reads, “Incredibly well written and vividly told!”  “A suspenseful seduction!” or… “Great storytelling with richly written and exposed characters. You won’t forget this book.” It would also be lovely if they put the thought out into the universe, “This would be such a compelling TV series!”

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I hope you enjoyed learning more about Luna, her writing, and her books. Please visit her sites, like and share. Thank you so much for stopping by  ❤ 
Luna’s Sites:  Website   Amazon   Facebook   Twitter   Goodreads Pinterest   Instagram   Tumblr   Spotify   

Guest #Author #Jan Sikes

I’m delighted to feature Jan Sikes on my blog today. Jan is a dear friend and multi-award winning author of five books.

Jan Sikes

Find Jan’s books here and here.

With the publication of each book, Jan also releases a CD of original songs appropriate to the story’s time period, because “the stories revolve and evolve around a passion for music.”

Jan lost her husband, friend, and soulmate in 2009. Her novels are “true stories about the journey of two people moving through adversity in order to grow and learn to become better humans.”

Featured below are a back cover blurb and short synopsis of two of Jan’s books, along with my review of the first.

Home At Last

HOME AT LAST

Back Cover Blurb

With empty pockets and a heart full of dreams Luke Stone leaves behind the nightmare of fifteen long years in Leavenworth prison, not giving it a backward glance.

Eyes firmly on the future, he boards a Greyhound bus bound for Texas…for freedom…for the one who holds his heart. The unjust conviction no longer matters and revenge haunts him no more. Darlina Flowers, the woman who takes his breath away, waits ahead and with her by his side, nothing can stop him.

He is headed HOME AT LAST.

Short Synopsis

When Luke Stone gains freedom from prison, he heads home to Texas, to family and to the woman he loves. Though his pockets are empty, his heart is full – full of hopes, dreams and plans. He knows it won’t be easy starting over with nothing, but he believes in the power of positive thinking and hard work.

Darlina Flowers has spent her entire adult life waiting to be Mrs. Luke Stone. She’s never been more ready than now to welcome Luke home, into her arms and into her bed.

Trying to carve out a new life for their little family proves to be a challenge. At times Darlina wonders if she’s strong enough to be the woman Luke needs.

Together, they face extreme hardships from poverty to a near fatal heart-attack. None of it is easy, but their love is mighty.

My review Jan Sikes CD

One of the elements that makes Jan Sikes’ novels compelling is that they’re autobiographical. I was so moved by her second book, The Convict and the Rose, that I knew the third book would prove equally poignant.

Luke Stone is finally released after spending 15 grueling years behind bars for something he didn’t do. Darlina Flowers meets him at the bus station, filled with anticipation and hope for the life together that was denied them when Luke was imprisoned. With little money and no home of their own, their deep and resolute love determines to imbue their lives — and the lives of Darlina’s 2 young daughters — with joy and meaning.

Austerity greets them head-on, but Luke and Darlina never fail to ride the waves with conviction. They remain focused on carving out a better future and seldom look back on past obstacles or tragedies. Damaged and awkward family relationships in need of renewal are handled with warmth, hope, determination, and a sprinkling of raw veracity. When problems threaten to sabotage their happiness or undermine their stability, their solid love for one another always helps them prevail. The adversity they’re forced to deal with would crush a less immutable nature. But Luke and Darlina’s firm resolve, tenacity, and enduring love see them through the hard times as well as embellish the joyful times.

This review might read like that of a fairy tale, but the characters depicted are real people, and this is their story. It’s both tragic and triumphant. It exhibits the depth the human spirit can reach in order to not only survive, but also thrive. It exemplifies the long-held truth that believing makes it so. Energy follows thought. And Luke and Darlina show us how to manifest our heart’s desire.

'Til Death Do Us Part

TIL DEATH DO US PART 

Back Cover Blurb

Over the course of Luke Stone’s life, he’s been everything from a simple farm boy to a singing star, from a convict to a family man.

Only one woman has managed to keep his out-of-kilter world on track. When Darlina Flowers danced her way into his heart so many years ago, he never dreamed she’d stick by him through the best and worst.

He should be satisfied. Yet, the lifelong dream he harbors deep in his heart – the dream of making music again – won’t let him rest. He grabs at one more chance to prove that he still has what it takes.

But, Luke’s body is failing him and he faces catastrophic changes that might end more than his re-born music career; they may end his life. He’s more determined than ever to provide for his family and share the music in his heart with them and the world in the days he has left.

In the dead of night when the world is silent and still, the forlorn hoot of an owl, his spirit animal, sends a warning up his spine too strong to ignore.

Will fate allow him to sing his last song?

Short SynopsisJan Sikes CD

Things for Luke and Darlina finally start to get a little easier. Luke is writing and performing music again and this time, Darlina is participating with him. He’s even going into the studio to record a new CD. And just when it looks like he will have a shot at another music career, he suffers a leg amputation and winds up in a wheel chair.

But, Luke doesn’t let anything keep him down. He and Darlina continue to find ways to make lemons out of lemonade. Together they are writing songs and pitching them everywhere they can. Luke opens a music store and begins to teach students to play guitar.

Luke is compelled to leave behind a legacy for Darlina and for his family. He won’t let anything stop him…until it does.

***

Join Luke and Darlina on an emotional and powerful tale of the life they build together and feel inspired at their determination to wring the most out of every minute they are given. Love is an elixir like none other and they find there is an endless supply in their hearts, even in death.

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I hope you enjoyed learning more about Jan and her books. Please visit her sites, like and share. Thank you so much for stopping by  ❤ 
Jan’s Sites:  Website  Blog  Twitter  Facebook  Pinterest  Amazon  

 

Guest #Author #Sally Cronin

Sally CroninSally Cronin is a prolific author and blogger, a nutritional therapist, an ardent supporter of indie authors, and has worked on radio and Internet television as producer and presenter. She is originally from England but has lived and worked all over the World. Her books can be purchased through Amazon USAmazon UK, and Moyhill Publishing. I’m thrilled to feature her as my guest today, as we celebrate the launch of her new book.                Welcome, Sally!
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Thank you so much, Tina, for this lovely invitation to join you today. I am only sorry it is not in person, but perhaps that might happen this year.
I’m hoping we’ll meet up at the Bloggers Bash, Sally. Keeping my fingers crossed. In the meantime . . .  

 

Tell us a little about yourself.  I am a 64-year-old explorer. I have What's in a Name
done the tough bits on the knees climbing mountains in reality and have climbed a few metaphorical ones too. Great life, wonderful people and a sense that there is always something more to come. Adore reading and writing and cannot imagine doing anything else. I have been married to David for 37 years. He is my partner in life and in my work. He makes me laugh, likes the same movies that I do, loves books and keeps me grounded. Can’t ask for more than that.

What is the title and genre of your latest book? Who published it? We have just published What’s in a Name, which is the first volume of 20 short stories that feature men and women in alphabetical order. One for Anne and one for Alexander. The first volume goes up to the letter J and includes tales of loss, murder, revenge, romance, rebirth and a couple of ghosts. Something for everyone I hope. I am self-published under our own label, Moyhill Publishing.

Tales from the GardenYou have written in several different genres. What motivates you to write?  I believe that I have always been a good communicator. My mother tells me I was talking out of turn at a very early age! Most of my jobs relied on good communication, both oral and written, especially when managing large teams. I was writing songs and poems from the age of ten or eleven, which coincided with my thirst for reading; not just fiction but also non-fiction books, particularly about animals and adventure. That balance of the two crept into my writing and motivates me to share subjects of interest to me, as well as ones that are a product of my imagination.

How do you write – outline or free flow?  Both I would think. For my novels, I would outline the chapters and what I am planning to cover in each of them, and then flesh out the characters and the major events and locations etc. For my short stories, I tend to write them in my head first; and when I have them more or less complete, I sit down and put them on paper. I may make a change as it flows, but invariably it stays true to the image in my head.

How do you schedule your time between writing and keeping yourTurning Back the Clock
physical life together
?  Both David and I are what some might call workaholics. When we went freelance 15 years ago, we had to put the hours in across our various projects to make ends meet. Neither of us has ever been a 9-to-5 person. But lines have to be drawn to avoid being in a stressed environment. I have worked out strategies that work for me with regard to combining an active online routine and my own projects. But we take healthy breaks during the day for exercise and meals, and if something slips by . . . Well, it is not life threatening.

What fostered your love of animals?  Growing up, we either had a cat or a dog. I have been on the receiving end of their unconditional love since then. This includes my own dogs and cats who have shared my home in the last forty years. I have had three Rough Collies – Sasha, Sabre and Sam – and several feral cats who have adopted me. Once you have experienced that kind of unconditional devotion, it becomes impossible not to love and respect all animal life.

Just an Odd Job GirlWhat inspires you most in life?  You made me think quite a bit about this, Tina.

I am not really motivated by money as long as the bills are paid and there is some left over to buy books, movies, the odd trip out for a meal; oh, and a little retail therapy from time to time.

I think what inspires me most are the people around me who smile at my writing or are moved by it. The feedback I receive online and in person motivates me to do more and to do it better.

Have you ever had a paranormal experience?  I have had several strange encounters. When I was a young manager of a steak house, I used to do a stock take late Sunday nights to reconcile meals sold and remaining stock. I would go through the bars and kitchen and basement storage and then to an attic room to do the figures. I would be sitting there for about ten minutes when the hair on the back of my neck would stand on end and I would feel that someone was looking at me intensely. I found out from one of our oldest regulars that the first owner of this big Victorian house had starved Size Mattershis wife to death in the attic. There have been a couple of other incidents; stories for another time.


Aside from your lovely eclectic blog, what are your plans for 2017?
I am planning on doing more reading and have freed up time at the weekend to do so. It is my first love, even before writing. And last year, with our move and work on the house, everything took a back seat. I also want to get another four books finished that are sitting in my files glaring at me; two nonfiction and two fiction. I think that will keep me out of mischief for the time being. Well, perhaps not!

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Thank you so much, Tina, for allowing me to share the things I love doing with you and your readers. I value your incredible friendship beyond measure.  
You’re most welcome, Sally. It’s been such a pleasure having you as my guest. We’ve learned a little more about you, which always delights fellow authors, as we tend to have an insatiable curiosity about the face behind the name on the books we love to read. I treasure your friendship and am blessed to have you in my life.  
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I hope you enjoyed learning more about Sally, her writing process, and her books. Please visit her sites, like and share. Thank you so much for stopping by  ❤

 

Learn more about Sally:  Blog   Facebook   Twitter   LinkedIn   Amazon US   Amazon UK   Moyhill Publishing

 

GUEST POST ~ #Danny the Dog

My very special guest today is none other than the dauntless and debonair #Danny the Dog, who has kindly contributed one of his adventure stories. Danny’s person, best-selling author Andrew Joyce, will begin by introducing our celebrated canine friend.

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Andrew JoyceMy name is Andrew Joyce and I write books for a living. Tina has been kind enough to allow me a little space on her blog to promote my new novel, Yellow Hair. I think it’s a good book, but what do I know? Anyway, I’m kinda shy about tooting my own horn. So I think I’ll turn things over to my dog Danny. He always has a bad attitude and usually does not speak highly of me. But please understand that we co-exist as the old Soviet Union and the United States once co-existed. We tolerate each other. So without further ado, here’s Danny.

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Danny the DogAndrew woke me up from a nice nap to help him out here. I was dreaming of hot dogs. Yummy! For a person that works with words for a living, he has very little to say in real life. He wants me to tout his book for him, but I don’t think I will. Instead, I think I’ll tell you about my latest adventure. I’m always having adventures. I like to write about them and what I write is 100% true.

In way of introduction, it is I, Danny the Dog, everyone’s favorite dog. I haven’t written anything for a while because my human, Andrew, has been using the computer. He was working on his new book. I told him I’d write it for him, but no; he said I don’t write in the same style as he does. Well duh! I’m so much a better at writing than he is.

I have a story to convey that I am not proud of. At first, I was not Danny the Dog
going to tell you this story, but Andrew said that if I’m going to write about myself, I have to tell of my foibles as well as my strengths. I didn’t know I had foibles, but if I do, perhaps I should see a vet and have them checked out.

Well, I’ve dilly dallied long enough, here’s my sad tale (no pun intended).

Andrew has this friend, a female friend. Yeah, I know. I too was surprised that he had a friend, let alone a female friend. But during my long life, I’ve been witness to stranger things. So this friend, whose name is Suzanne, came to visit last week and she brought her dog with her. Now, I am a peaceful dog, I come from a long line of peace-loving dogs. In fact, my father was so peaceful, he only bit the mailman once a week. But as all of my canine readers will attest to, when a new dog comes onto your turf (or boat in my case), you have to assert your dominance. And in this instance, that was not going to be a problem.

Danny the DogThe little critter was tiny. I wasn’t sure if it was a dog or a hairy rat. Andrew, knowing my ways, tied me to a tree so I couldn’t get to the little monster. But I wasn’t giving up. I barked my head off and strained against that insidious leash. And ultimately my efforts paid off, but now I wish they hadn’t. I was tied to a thin branch and it finally broke, freeing me to go and teach that interloper a lesson. I wasn’t going to hurt her, just let her know who was boss.

I ran full force right at the little thing, but instead of cowering or running away as any normal small dog would do, she turned and faced me, bared her teeth and started barking at me! I was so unprepared for this turn of events that I screeched to a halt (and this is the hard part to tell), turned tail and ran. I ran right to the boat, jumped inside, and hid under the bed. And do you want to know what the worst part was? As I ran, I could hear Andrew laughing his rear end off.

The conclusion to my sad story is that eventually I made friends with the little terror. Her name is Maui, and for a little female rat-dog, she’s not a bad sort. But she does tend to boss me around a lot.

And as for Andrew, he will never let me forget it. Sometimes when
he’s at the computer, he’ll break out laughing, turn to me, and in a Danny the Dogsickening, sugary voice say, “How’s my big brave doggie doing? You better watch out, there are a few mean-looking cats around.” I could just strangle him at times.

I have to be going. I have an appointment at the vet’s to get my foibles looked at.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot—go out and buy Andrew’s book. It’ll make the old guy’s day.

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This is Andrew again. On behalf of Danny and myself, I would like to thank Tina for having us over. It’s been a real pleasure.
You’re welcome, Andrew. It has been my pleasure to host you and Danny.
Learn more about Danny:  Blog   Facebook   Learn more about Andrew:  Website   Blog   Amazon   Facebook   Twitter   LinkedIn   

Guest Post – Author, Tina Frisco

I want to thank Jan Sikes for featuring me on her lovely blog and giving me the opportunity to introduce my new book to her followers. Please visit and take a peek at Jan’s award-winning books. She is an exceptional author 💖

Writing and Music

Meet my guest today, Author, Tina Frisco. tina-4a

She has a brand new book release and I am happy to share it here.

Thank you for inviting me to be a guest on your blog, Jan. I appreciate this opportunity to talk about my new book, Vampyrie: Origin of the Vampire.

Vampyrie is not your typical vampire novel. It’s based in science and brings the myth of the vampire into the realm of possibility. Although the book is not part of a series, two primary characters from my first novel, Plateau, play major roles.

One day during my morning walk, the word Valkyrie came to mind. As you may know, a valkyrie is one of a host of female helping spirits of the god Odin in Norse mythology. Depicted as both loving and bloodthirsty, valkyries decide who lives and who dies in battle. They also assist Odin in transporting…

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Andrew Joyce, Author

I am thrilled to welcome Andrew Joyce as my guest today.

Andrew Joyce

Andrew is a brilliant storyteller whose continuing adventures are kept on a short leash by his canine companion, Danny the Dog.

Danny XXlI read and reviewed Andrew’s Huck Finn trilogy after having devoured each of the three novels. You can find my rave reviews here.  Although, if you go to Andrew’s Amazon page and click on each of his books, you will find them rife with 5-star reviews.  Apparently, I am only one among myriad Andrew Joyce fans!

Andrew is here today to tell us about the journey that inspired him to write his latest book, Yellow Hair.  Welcome, Andrew! It is a pleasure to host you on my blog.

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book-andrew-yellow-hair-2Thank you, Tina. My name is Andrew Joyce and I write books for a living. Tina has been kind enough to allow me a little space on her blog to talk about my latest, Yellow Hair.

Yellow Hair documents the injustices done to the Sioux Nation from their first treaty with the United States in 1805 through Wounded Knee in 1890. Every death, murder, battle, and outrage depicted actually took place—from the first to the last. The historical figures that play a role in my story were real people and I used their real names. I conjured up my protagonist only to weave together the various events conveyed in my fact-based tale of fiction. Yellow Hair is an epic tale of adventure, family, love, and hate that spans most of the 19th century. It is American history.

The inspiration for the book came to me when I was reading a short article and it made reference to the Great Sioux Uprising of 1862. It also mentioned that the outcome involved the largest mass execution in the history of the United States. That piqued my interest.

When I started my research into the incident, one thing led to another and before I knew it, I was documenting the entire history of the Sioux, who are also known as the Dakota, vis-à-vis the relationship between them and the United States.

Because the book exists only because I read the phrase, “the largest mass execution in the history of the United States,” I’ll tell you a little about that. What follows is an extremely abbreviated version of events.

The Dakota signed their first treaty with the United States in 1805 when they sold a small portion of their land to the Americans for the purpose of building forts. It was right after the Louisiana Purchase and President Jefferson wanted a presence in the West. At the time, “the West” was anything on the western side of the Mississippi River.

In the treaty of 1805, the Dakota sold 100,000 acres to the book-andrew-resolutionAmericans. The agreed-upon price was $2.00 per acre. But when the treaty came up before the Senate for ratification, the amount was changed to two cents per acre. That was to be a precursor for all future treaties with the Americans. There were subsequent treaties in 1815, 1825, 1832, 1837, and 1851, and basically the same thing happened with all those treaties.

In 1837, the Americans wanted an additional five million acres of Dakota land. Knowing it would be a hard sell after the way they failed to live up to the letter or spirit of the previous treaties, the government brought twenty-six Dakota chiefs to Washington to show them the might and majesty that was The United States of America.

The government proposed paying one million dollars for the acreage in installments over a twenty-year period. Part of the payment was to be in the form of farm equipment, medicine, and livestock. Intimidated, the Indians signed the treaty and went home. The United States immediately laid claim to the lands—the first payment did not arrive for a year.

The significance of the 1837 treaty lies in the fact that it was the first time “traders” were allowed to lay claim to the Indians’ payments without any proof that money was owed . . . and without consulting the Indians. Monies were subtracted from the imbursements and paid directly to the traders.

By 1851, the Americans wanted to purchase all of the Dakota’s remaining lands—twenty-five million acres. The Sioux did not want to sell, but were forced to do so with threats that the army could be sent in to take the land from them at the point of a gun if they refused the American’s offer.

“If we sell our land, where will we live?” asked the Dakota chief.

book-andrew-molly-lee“We will set aside land for the Dakota only. It is called a reservation and it will be along both banks of the Minnesota River, twenty miles wide, ten on each side and seventy miles long,” answered the Commissioner of Indian Affairs.

The Dakota were offered six cents an acre for land that was worth at least a dollar an acre. The payment would be stretched out over a twenty year period and was to be made in the form of gold coins. One year later, in 1852, the Americans took half the reservation, the seventy miles on the north side of the river. The Dakota were now reduced from a nation of fierce, independent people to a people dependent on hand-outs from the ones who stole not only their land, but also their dignity.

The Dakota were forced to buy their food from the traders who ran trading posts at the Indian Agency the U.S. Government had set up on the reservation. All year long the Dakota would charge what they needed. When the yearly payment for their land arrived, the traders would take what they said was owed them. Subsequently, there was very little gold left for the Dakota.

By 1862, the Dakota were starving. That year’s payment was months late in arriving because of the Civil War. The traders were afraid that because of the war there would be no payment that year and cut off the Dakota’s credit. The Indian Agent had the power to force the traders to release some of the food stocks, but refused when asked to do so by the Dakota.

After they had eaten their ponies and dogs, and their babies cried out in the night from hunger, the Dakota went to war against the United States of America.

They attacked the agency first and liberated the food stock from the book-andrew-redemptionwarehouse, killing many white people who lived there. Then bands of braves set out to loot the farms in the surrounding countryside.

Many whites were killed in the ensuing weeks. However, not all of the Dakota went to war. Many stayed on the reservation and did not pick up arms against their white neighbors. Some saved the lives of white settlers. Still, over 700 hundred whites lost their lives before the rebellion was put down.

When the dust settled, all of the Dakota—including women and children, and those people who had saved settlers’ lives—were made prisoners of war.

Three hundred and ninety-six men were singled out to stand trial before a military commission. They were each tried separately in trials that lasted only minutes. In the end, three hundred and three men were sentenced to death.

Even though he was occupied with the war, President Lincoln got involved. He reviewed all three hundred and three cases and pardoned all but thirty-eight of the prisoners.

On a gray and overcast December morning in 1862, the scaffold stood high. Thirty-eight nooses hung from its crossbeams. The mechanism for springing the thirty-eight trap doors had been tested and retested until it worked perfectly. At exactly noon, a signal was given, a lever pulled, and the largest mass execution to ever take place in the United States of America became part of our history.

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Short bioAndrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until decades later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written five books, including a two-volume collection of one hundred and fifty short stories comprised of his hitching adventures called BEDTIME STORIES FOR GROWN-UPS (as yet unpublished), and his latest novel, YELLOW HAIR. He now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his dog, Danny, where he is busy working on his next book, tentatively entitled, MICK REILLY.

Learn more about Andrew:   Website   Blog   Facebook   Twitter   LinkedIn  Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Smashwords   iTunes   Kobo

 

Working with Other Authors – Guest Post…

The Story Reading Ape’s guest today is Jemima Pett discussing the benefits of authors working together to promote their writing and books…

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

14821489 - chat communicationFree Image Copyright amasterpics123 / 123RF Stock Photo

My writing career really took off when I started working with other authors. It was a little thing that started it all. Sally Harris, author of the wonderful Diary of a Penguin-napper, suggested we got together to do a promotion of the first chapter of our books in a volume called Love Middle Grade Actually in February 2013. Through that I got talking, and made friends with, a dozen other authors. I’d not really done much blogging then, not like we do now, joining in challenges with other bloggers, doing blog hops and the like. And it takes a bit of nerve to approach someone you don’t know (and maybe think is so much better than you, and so much more knowledgeable).

The way we worked together on a project, being brought together by Sally, made me want to do it…

View original post 439 more words

Natacha Guyot, Author

natacha-guyot

Natacha Guyot is a French researcher, author, and public speaker. After studying at Paris III Sorbonne Nouvelle and King’s College London, she relocated to Texas in summer 2016. There, she has embarked on a new academic journey: she started doctoral studies in Arts and Humanities at the University of Texas at Dallas.

Welcome, Natacha!

Tell us a little about yourself.  I was born and spent most of my life in France. I lived one year in London and relocated to Texas in summer 2016 to start a Ph.D. in Arts and Humanities at the University of Texas at Dallas. I am a Christian and a Science Fiction/Fantasy nerd. I have strong feminist bones. I love cats, books, and Earl Grey tea. I have been a storyteller since I was a child and wrote my first book when a teenager. I only published fiction a few years ago, though I published academic papers and nonfiction prior to that.

What is the title and genre of your latest book, and who book-natacha-dream-crusherpublished it?  My latest book is Dream Crusher, a Science Fiction novella. Like my previous titles, it is self-published. It has been a very compelling learning curve over the past years to learn more about this process. I enjoy the versatility and creativity control coming with it, especially since I write such diverse kinds of titles.

Tell us a little about your book. Dream Crusher takes place in another planetary system, generations after Earth was destroyed. Some of the human survivors became settlers in this system where multiple species had cohabited for a very long time. A special agent finds out about a biological weapon in the making. He has to team up with the targeted species, the Prisias, to prevent the genocide. He and his team must go against orders to keep quiet because what matters to them is to save lives.

book-natacha-clairvoyanceWhat inspired you to write it?  The inspiration for Dream Crusher came from a male character I wrote in another setting at some point. He was the inspiration for Morden Avachk, the protagonist of the novella. It was a challenge for me as I normally have female main characters. Yet, a lot resonated to me with Morden. The world comes from ideas for older stories and thinking in a more immersive way because of playing many video games at that time. Diversity became one of the most important elements in it, although it isn’t a novelty in my work. I liked being able to see what humans may bring to another setting, as being the foreigners, and how this isn’t always positive. It originally was a short story and then I decided to expand on it and turn it into a novella. It also sets the universe for other books, though not direct sequels.

When did you first start writing?  Since I learned how to write, so when I was in first year of elementary school. Prior to that, I have some memories of making up stories already. Storytelling and imagining worlds have always been a strong component of my personality.

What authors have most influenced you? How and why?  This is a book-natacha-galaxydifficult question. From a fiction point of view, I would say C. J. Cherryh, Anne McCaffrey, Joan D. Vinge, Timothy Zhan, Philippa Ballantine. My fellow author and friend Rose B. Fischer has also been very inspirational over the years. From a nonfiction/ academic point of view, I have to include Joseph Campbell, Frederick Turner, Clarissa Pinkola Estes. I am fairly sure I am forgetting other names that have had an impact on my writing, but right now my book collection is still in France so I don’t have it within reach!

What was the first book that touched you deeply?  I loved fairy tales when a child, and some beautiful fairy tale books from then are also coming to Texas within the next couple months. They have had a strong influence on me. C. J. Cherryh’s Serpent’s Reach, Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonflight are two outstanding examples that touched me so much they inspired me to write more and understand it was my calling.

book-natacha-talynWhat genres do you like to read?  Fiction-wise, I mostly read Science Fiction and Fantasy, unless it is for classes. Nonfiction- wise, I read a lot pertaining to my field of interest: the aforementioned genres, film studies, gender studies, fan studies, mythology, writing craft, publishing and marketing. I also read a lot of Christian nonfiction.

How do these books affect your writing?  Reading in my favorite genres help me continue to get new ideas as well as keep up with some of what’s being written in them, especially since I write for these. Nonfiction helps me get broader understanding of life, of my fields of interest, and become more educated and have my attention directed to elements I might not have considered to include in my writing. It doesn’t always happen on a conscious level, and sometimes I reflect on it when revising or promoting one of my titles.

Where do you like to write? Why?  I love writing at my desk. This is book-natacha-j-winchestermy favorite place! When I moved to Texas and had to get a new desk and live at a new place, making sure that I liked my desk and where it was in my room was important. I enjoy being able to sit at the desk and work on the computer. I always carry a notebook and pencils with me, but direct writing is something I prefer doing on the computer (in Word). I also like having my stock of Earl Grey tea and my electric kettle nearby!

What time of day do you like to write? Why?  That depends, really. I tend to get up early and go to bed really early, so this happens during daytime. I normally write when I am not on campus, although lately I have been mostly working on class papers instead of original writing; but the same preferences apply.

book-natacha-before-makoIn what genres do you write?  All of my books, whether fiction or nonfiction relate to Science Fiction or Fantasy (and complex female characters). Most of them are in English, and my first novella that I published in French a few years back should be released in English in a couple of years. I am more comfortable with collections of short stories (Clairvoyance Chronicles Volume One) or novellas (La Cite de Sharianth, Dream Crusher). My nonfiction work for film studies, gender studies, fan cultures, tends to follow a similar pattern, with collections of essays (A Galaxy of Possibilities: Representation and Storytelling in Star Wars) or interviews (Sci-Fi Women Interviews: The 2015 Collection) or individual essays (Before Mako Came Yoko: Comparative Studies between Pacific Rim and Yoko Tsuno, John Winchester’s Orchestrated Fall from Grace in Supernatural, Talyn’s Heroic Journey in Farscape). I am also looking into writing more about faith and Christianity in the upcoming years.

E-books or paper ~ do you have a preference?  Regarding my own book-natacha-sci-fi-womentitles, I stick to eBook only for shorter pieces or ones I keep available for free. Otherwise, I offer my titles in both eBook and print. As a reader, I much prefer paper! I have some digital titles and use the Kindle app on my computer, but I much prefer reading physical copies.

How and where have you marketed your work? I market primarily online, via my social media platforms. I also have wonderful fellow bloggers, authors, and friends writing reviews, inviting me for interviews (thank you, Tina!) and for guest posts. I also talk about my work offline when I get an opportunity. I hope to be able to attend some small conventions and author events in the future, especially now that I have relocated to Dallas.

book-natacha-gender-dynamicsDo you have other publishing credits?  I have been publishing a fair number of titles over the past years. Besides my self-published titles, I have also published several essays internationally and also co-edited a couple of academic volumes. You can find a complete list of my publications on this page (with links whenever possible). I have also been a public speaker at various academic events.

What is your current writing project?  Right now I am focusing on class projects, as well as the promotion of Dream Crusher. When I get time to work on original fiction again, I will return to the English translation of a novel I wrote in French a decade ago that is also in need of heavy revision. I hope to publish this as serial fiction around 2019. I also need to write the second Clairvoyance Chronicles volume, so these are the two next writing projects I want to tackle.

If you have a blog, what subjects do write about?  I do have a blog. I book-natacha-la-citewrite mostly about writing, Science Fiction, popular culture and feminism. I have been developing a monthly feature for almost two years now: Sci-Fi Women Interviews celebrates a woman creating, writing, enjoying, promoting Science Fiction every last Friday of the month. I also interview authors that work within my fields on a regular basis. I hope to include more about faith and Christianity in the upcoming months, as I am still pondering on how to best do that.

Where can your books be purchased?  My free eBooks are available on Smashwords. All of my paid titles are available Amazon. If they are available in print format, you can purchase paper copies through Createspace store as well as Barnes & Noble’s website.

book-natacha-feminist-bloggersWhat advice would you give a new writer?  The long version would be my blog series The Digital Quill’s Writing Tips. The short version would be to read and write a lot. Educate yourself through various types of resources and understand that practice is crucial.

What do you wish to say to your readers?  Thank you for your support! I am grateful that my books resonate with you, and I hope you will continue to enjoy more of my books. I am always happy to speak with you, so don’t hesitate to reach out to me via email, comments, or social media.

Thank you, Natacha, for being my guest. It was a pleasure to learn more about you.

Natacha’s main fields of interest are Science fiction, Gender Studies, Children Media, and Fan Studies. Besides her nonfiction work, she also writes Science Fiction and Fantasy stories. She is a feminist, nerd, Christian, cat lady, book dragon, and Earl Grey drinker. Her new Science Fiction novella, Dream Crusher, is coming out in Kindle and paperback format in November 2016.

Learn more about Natacha:   Website   Twitter   Facebook   LinkedIn   Goodreads   Amazon   CreateSpace   Barnes & Noble   Smashwords

 

D.G. Kaye, Author

d-g-kaye

Debby Gies is a Canadian nonfiction/memoir author who writes under the pen name of D.G. Kaye. She was born, raised, and resides in Toronto, Canada. Kaye writes about her life experiences, matters of the heart, and women’s issues.

Welcome, Debby!

Hi Tina. I’m excited to be here guest appearing on your wonderful blog and mingling with some of your readers. Thank you so much for having me here today.

Debby, it’s my great pleasure to have you here. We’re looking forward to learning more about you, your writing process, and your outstanding and informative books.

Tell us a little about yourself.  I’m a nonfiction/memoir writer and blogger. All of my books are written from my point of view, taken from experiences I’ve encountered. While my memoirs, P.S. I Forgive You and Conflicted Hearts are of serious subject matter, I do like to inject some humor in some of my other writings.

What is the title and genre of your latest book, and can you tell us book-debby-p-s-i-forgive-youa little about it?  My newest book, P.S. I Forgive You, is my story about finding forgiveness for my narcissistic mother before she died, and for myself for remaining with my decision not to go back to her after banishing her from my life several years prior to her death. This is Book II to my first book, Conflicted Hearts; but because of the subject matter, it could easily be read as a standalone.

What genres do you enjoy reading?  I love reading biographies/memoirs, self-help books, books on writing, and stories about people who have overcome adversity.

Where do you like to write and why?  I love to write at home in the quiet. I’m easily distracted, so no TV or music while I’m writing. I wish I was one of those writers who could pack up my things and go write in a public cafe, but I know I’d get lost in observing my surroundings; so I find I can discipline myself better at home.

book-debby-words-we-carryWhat time of day do you like to write and why?  I love to write first thing in the morning after my coffee. I’m a multi-tasker, and once I get on the computer, I can get lost for hours between my emails, social media, blog, etc. So I have to do my writing first thing in the morning, or it’s not going to happen; although some of my best ideas come lurking in the wee hours of the night. In those instances, I have a handy journal I keep by my bedside to jot down ideas that will be elaborated on in the morning. If I don’t jot them down, I can consider them forgotten the next day.

When did you first start writing?  I was writing as far back as I can remember when I learned to write. I had an active imagination and was highly in-tuned with my growing up in an environment of dysfunction. I started writing poems and making up Hallmark–like cards for loved ones and friends. Valentine’s Day was my favorite holiday for making cards. As I grew into my teens, I began journaling about my observations of my family life, and I continued to journal through life. I wanted to write books for years but hadn’t developed enough self-confidence to do so.

Tell us a little about your newest book.  P.S. I Forgive You is a sequel book-debby-conflicted-heartsto Conflicted Hearts, a memoir about my narcissistic mother, the psychological hold she had on me by instilling guilt and fear when her demands weren’t complied with, and the heartache she bestowed on her loved ones. This sequel is a stand-alone in its own right. It’s a new journey about discovering and overcoming the narcissists inflictions and ultimately learning forgiveness, both for myself and my mother. The story is a completion of a life cycle, the cutting of the cord with all its frayed ends.

.Ebooks or paper? Do you have a preference?  I love both! They each serve their own purpose for me. I love ebooks for their portability. I read on my kindle at night in bed for pleasure reading. But all of my books pertaining to the craft of writing are in paperback. I need a physical book for my writing needs as I need to be able to make it personally mine by highlighting passages, folding important pages, and whatever else I can do to leave reminders or important things I want to go back to for reference.

book-debby-meno-whatIf you have a blog, what subjects do you write about?  I sure do run a blog. My blog is comprised of articles that I find informative about writing or self-publishing, random things I find interesting or unjust, and I have a new Sunday book review series where I choose a book I’ve read and enjoyed to share with my readers.

What was the first book that touched you deeply?  The Thornbirds written by Colleen McCullough. It’s a beautiful story about broken people living in a small town in Australia, encompassing undying and forbidden love.

What advice would you give a new writer?  Try to write every day. book-debby-have-bagsI’m not one who is disciplined by word counts. I just sit and write, whether it’s for a book I’m writing, ideas for a new book, a blog post, or just choosing a word prompt to keep the juices flowing. I may only crank out a paragraph or a page, or perhaps get lucky with a thousand words or more, but it’s daily exercise for the brain and good fuel to keep the writing keen. If we write something every day, it’s surprising how in a few months time we can have a rough draft written for a new book. Also, I recommend writing in the genre your comfortable in. Not all of our writing will appeal to everyone, so it’s best to write what you’re comfortable with, and eventually you will find your tribe.

Thank you so much Tina for inviting me here today to your blog to share a bit of myself and my newest book, P.S. I Forgive You: A Broken Legacy.

You’re very welcome, Debby. I’m delighted to share you and your work with my readers. Congratulations on the recent publication of your newest book! I wish you continued success as a published author, and I hope your books are read by many across the globe.

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P.S. I Forgive You is now available on Amazon.

Blurb:  I hurt for her. She wasn’t much of a mother, but she was still my mother.

Confronted with resurfacing feelings of guilt, D.G. Kaye is tormented by her decision to remain estranged from her dying emotionally abusive mother after resolving to banish her years ago, an event she has shared in her book Conflicted Hearts. In P.S. I Forgive You, Kaye takes us on a compelling heartfelt journey as she seeks to understand the roots of her mother’s narcissism, let go of past hurts, and find forgiveness for both her mother and herself.

After struggling for decades to break free, Kaye has severed the unhealthy ties that bound her to her dominating mother—but now Kaye battles new confliction, as the guilt she harbors over her decision only increases as the end of her mother’s life draws near. Kaye once again struggles with her conscience and her feelings of being obligated to return to a painful past she thought she left behind.

Excerpt: The End Is Near

My mother had been dying for years, and through those years she refused to surrender her bitterness and remained in denial of her flaws. The many times I heard she was dying reminded me of the boy who cried wolf. I almost believed she was invincible, and even though I never wanted her to suffer, she did.

I thought it was just a horrible and sad way to die—holding hatred for those she had chased out of her life, living in bitter seclusion, knowing her days were numbered. Her once vibrant life had diminished into a mere existence of watching TV and complaining. She’d also given all her caregivers a difficult time, bitching at them all and letting them know how useless they were to her because of what her life had become. Nobody was exempt.

I asked my brother Robby why God didn’t just take her out of her misery and pain during one of the many times she was on the brink of death. Why would he not spare her from suffering? He replied, “God has his own plans.” I couldn’t help but wonder if he was letting her suffer because she had hurt so many people in her lifetime, but in my next thought I couldn’t believe God would play those cruel games, tit for tat.

About the Author:  D.G. Kaye writes to inspire others. Her writing encompasses stories taken from events she encountered in her own life, and the lessons taken from them. Her sunny outlook on life developed from learning to overcome challenges in her life and finding the upside from those situations. Her refusal to accept the word No or the phrase I can’t keep her on the path to positivity. Kaye loves to look for the humor in whatever life can dish out, and when she isn’t writing intimate memoirs, she’ll bring her natural sense of humor into her other works. She writes with a rawness and honesty, leaving readers with something to take from her stories.

Learn more about D.G. Kaye:   Website       Twitter       Facebook   Google+       LinkedIn       Amazon

Greg Marcus

greg-marcusGreg Marcus, Ph.D. is a practitioner, facilitator, and innovator of American Mussar, a 21st century spiritual practice for an authentic and meaningful life. He has a Ph.D. from MIT,  has worked for ten years as a marketer in the biotech industry, and is the author of The Spiritual Practice of Good Actions: Finding Balance Through the Soul Traits of Mussar.

Welcome, Greg!

Tell us a little about yourself.  I am a regular guy whose life was changed by a spiritual experience 9 years ago. It didn’t seem like it at the time, but it put me on a path to where I’ve evolved from a marketing professional with a Ph.D. to a full-time writer, speaker, and spiritual seeker. What do I seek? A path to be the best person I can be. When I’m not doing those things, I am a stay-at-home dad. I have two teen daughters and two 7-year-old cats who are brothers.

What is the genre of your latest book, and who published it?  It is a book of Jewish spirituality, and the publisher is Llewellyn. Kabbalah, the more widely known branch of Jewish spirituality, is spiritual mystical. Mussar is spiritual practical.

Tell us a little about your book.  Mussar is a 1,000-year-old Jewish book-2-greg-marcusspiritual practice that teaches us how to find those things inside that cause us to get stuck, and it offers a practical step-by-step path towards balance and healing.

We all have what it takes to be a mensch, a person of outstanding character. What we lack is a guidebook, a set of instructions on how to conduct ourselves in everyday life. Mussar teaches us how to balance our soul traits, things like Patience, Humility, Trust, and Truth. Too much of a soul trait is just as bad as not enough. Too little Patience leads to anger and frustration; too much leads to staying in a bad job or relationship.

What inspired you to write it?  The Spiritual Practice of Good Actions grew out of a class that I created and taught for 3 years. Mussar is an amazing practice. It has changed who I am for the better, and I watched as dozens of others became better people.

greg-marcus-soul-trait-patienceIn the book, I share a story of how one person went from being a curse-at-everyone driver to being “the most polite driver in California.” How? When practicing patience, she decided to deliberately let every car marge in front of her. That decision transformed her entire experience of driving. The frustration and impatience were gone. I want to help others have a similar experience.

Would you tell us a little about Mussar?  Mussar is a practice that gives concrete instructions and guidelines to help you live a meaningful and ethical life.

The fact of the matter is that we all have issues, whatever our religion or level of spirituality. Mussar teaches how to find those things inside that cause us to get in the same situation over and over again. And it provides guidance for how we can begin to make small changes in our lives to help bring healing to the Soul through greater balance. Rabbi Elya Lopian (1876-1970) defined Mussar as “making the heart feel what the mind understands.” I love this definition, because so often we know what we should be doing, but we just can’t seem to make ourselves do it.

greg-marcus-soul-trait

When did you first start writing?  I’ve done some work-related writing over the years; I’ve created business plans, marketing plans, strategy documents, and an occasional case study. I started writing my first book in my early 40’s.

What authors have most influenced you? How and why?  Alan Morinis, one of my Mussar teachers, wrote the book Everyday Holiness that served as the foundation of my Mussar practice. Alan personally is an inspiration to me. He, like me, is an ordinary guy who entered on a spiritual journey after a rough time in the business world. Malcolm Gladwell, who writes about complex and counter-intuitive truths with a sense of wonder, has also been a great influence on me. I try to emulate his ability to present information in an accessible way. Also, I love the way Brene Brown shares her personal story in an authentic way that people can relate to.

What was the first book that touched you deeply?  Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, which I read the summer before my senior year in high school, influenced my evolving sense of identity and sensibilities.  I related to the protagonist’s struggle to be seen; the way the storytelling unfolded just blew me away.

What genres do you like to read?  I almost exclusively read science fiction for fun. I also read a lot of books about Mussar, spirituality, and Jewish wisdom.

How do these books affect your writing?  To me, science fiction is a liberating genre. Science and spirituality both concern a search for answers. When I’m reading Sci-Fi, I never ask, “Is that possible?”  We make assumptions about the universe that the author has created. When I wrote the Spiritual Practice of Good Actions, I offered readers four assumptions that summarize the backstory of thousands of years of Jewish wisdom. You may or may not agree with it, but if you assume it is true, the practice holds together. The books on wisdom and Jewish spirituality inform my own Mussar practice, which I in turn offer to my readers in a modern context.

Where do you like to write? Why?  My book exists in part thanks to every barista within 10 miles of San Carlos, CA. I do most of my writing at Philz Coffee. I love the energy, being around people, and the coffee is great!

What time of day do you like to write? Why?  I write in the morning. I drop off my daughter at high school, drive over to Philz, and write for 30-40 minutes. Sometimes I write later in the day, but a good focused half hour is much better than 2 hours of stop-and-go writing.

In what genres do you write?  I am a practitioner, facilitator, and innovator of American Mussar. I write non-fiction to help people on a journey of personal transformation. My first book was on work-life balance, and my second is on spiritual balance. Writing fiction is on my bucket list. Someday.

E-books or paper ~ do you have a preference?  I prefer to read paper books, but I read many e-books too, especially when I travel. I own hundreds of books and love seeing them around my house. My wife owns even more.

How and where have you marketed your work?  As someone who spent ten years as a professional marketer, I find book marketing much harder. I do a lot of Facebook marketing. I write blog posts and then boost them to my readers, and sometimes I target certain audiences who I think will like what I have to say.

I have a free quiz on my website that people love – you can get your greg-marcus-soul-trait-profile-quizown personal Soul Trait Profile and see your current balance across 13 soul traits. Most importantly, you get a cool graphic when it is over. Pictures communicate something on an emotional level that we don’t get from words.

 

Do you have other publishing credits?  Yes. In 2013, I self-published Busting Your Corporate Idol: Self Help for the Chronically Overworked. I’ve done a number of guest posts and articles for website publications. One of my more recent works is “Join the Mensch Movement” on Tikkun.org. I wrote about the Democratic sit-in at the House of Representatives, which was led by John Lewis. Lewis is a mensch because his work is about other people, not himself. And he practices so that when the difficult choice arises, he is spiritually ready to do the right thing.

What is your current writing project?  I don’t have a current project. I am starting to teach a class on Mussar parenting, and I  suspect that class will evolve into a book as well. The class is Mussar with a focus on particular soul traits relevant to parenting. There are many books and approaches on how to parent children. The challenge for us is, “How to we parent ourselves? How do we hold it together, to be less stressed and more patient?” I’m teaching this class because there are skills that I need to develop. As I facilitate, I learn. We all learn from each other.

If you have a blog, what subjects do write about?  In my blog, I write about my spiritual journey and the lessons I learn about the real world. Mussar involves everyday life, and when I observe that I am challenged in Humility, Truth, or whatever soul trait I am working on, I write about it. Sometimes it is very unexpected, like when I realized that my book was published on the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek. I am a lifelong Trek fan, and I even wrote about Star Trek in the book.

There is one episode in which Kirk is split into a good Kirk and an evil Kirk. The good Kirk is nice, but he can’t make decisions. The evil Kirk is confident and decisive but frequently harmful, because he is driven exclusively by his base and selfish desires. This reflects the conflict that goes on inside each of us. But we can’t get rid of our “evil” side because it is a source of strength. We need to guide it and channel it.

Where can your books be purchased?  You can find my books on Amazon and in bookstores like Barnes and Noble. You can learn much more about The Spiritual Practice of Good Actions on my website, AmericanMussar.com, but the site will send you to Amazon to buy it.

What advice would you give a new writer?  Find a community of other writers. Non-writers may not get why you do what you do, but other writers will. And they can be a great source of feedback and encouragement.

What do you wish to say to your readers?  We all have the capacity to be a Mensch, a person of outstanding character. We just need to learn to get out of our own way and journey towards personal transformation. Real, lasting change happens by a series of small steps. I heartily invite you to visit my website or to delve into my book to learn about Mussar.

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A heartfelt “Thank You” to Greg for being a guest on my blog. Learn more about Greg here:  Website   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Twitter  Facebook  LinkedIn