Saturday, November 29, 2014

Interview with Mary-Lou Stephens, author of 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

Thank you for this interview!  I’d like to know more about you as a person first.  What do you do when you’re not writing?

I’m a radio presenter for the ABC on the beautiful Sunshine Coast, the Australian one not the Canadian one. I also love to cook, except for the times when I have to.

When did you start writing?

I wrote songs for years when I used to play in bands. I didn’t think about writing prose until about 12 years ago when I went on an overseas holiday and came back with a few out of focus photos taken on a disposable camera. A friend said “Clearly photography’s not your thing. Why don’t you write about your holiday instead?” So I did and I’ve been writing ever since.

As a published author, what would you say was the most pivotal point of your writing life?

Taking six months leave without pay to write. Up until then I’d written newspaper columns and short stories but never anything longer. I wanted to know whether I could write an entire book and then having done so if I ever wanted to do it again. The answer to both questions was yes. Oh, and landing my first publishing deal that was definitely pivotal.

If you could go anywhere in the world to start writing your next book, where would that be and why?

I’d return to Chamonix-Mount Blanc. I live by the ocean in a flat country. We have hills but not really any mountains. Chamonix-Mount Blanc is the opposite of the geography I live and work in, the balmy sunny days, the endless sandy beaches. I love the drama of the alps and the extremes of the seasons. Those giddy heights, the different languages. And the Orangina.

If you had 4 hours of extra time today, what would you do?

Walk on the beach for an hour, read for another, write for an extra hour and then do as little as possible for that last remaining delicious hour.

Where would you like to set a story that you haven’t done yet?

I have plans for three novels at present. One set in Scotland, one in New York City and the other in the wilderness of south west Tasmania.

Back to your present book, How To Stay Married, how did you publish it?

I guess I’m what you’d call a hybrid author. My first book was with a major publisher and now I’m self publishing How To Stay Married. I’m thrilled about it. I’ve been on a steep learning curve and I’ve had lots of help along the way. One of my frustrations with Sex, Drugs and Meditation was, and still is, that I had no control over the pricing of the ebook. My publisher has never done a special on it or dropped the price. I’m in negotiations to have my World erights revert to me so that I can tie it in with How To Stay Married, do bundles and specials and deliver value to my readers.

In writing your book, did you travel anywhere for research?

Yes, 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. When my husband and I returned home 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.

Why was writing How To Stay Married so important to you?

When I read self-help books I turn straight to the case studies, the stories. I think human beings are hard-wired for stories, we love them. When I realised my life read like one of those case studies I wondered if other people would be interested in my story. My early attempts to write my first book Sex, Drugs and Meditation weren’t successful. A literary agent read some of it, saw potential but told me I had to get really, really honest if I was to continue. I wasn’t brave enough at the time so put the manuscript away and write a novel instead. When I found my courage I rewrote Sex, Drugs and Meditation and eventually landed a publishing deal with Pan Macmillan. How To Stay Married is the sequel.

Once again How To Stay Married, is a brave and personal book. It touches on areas in a relationship that not many people have the courage to expose. My husband has been my biggest supporter. He gave me permission to write anything I needed to, even though some of it was very tough on him. I’ve been toughest on myself though, often not painting myself in a very good light, but that’s what being honest is about.

Our early married life was a nightmare to tell you the truth. But the lessons I learnt and the hurdles we overcame to get to where we are now make fascinating reading. We’ve just celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary and are happier than ever.

Where do you get your best ideas and why do you think that is?

Meditation has been the biggest source of my creativity. In the fast-paced world we live in we don’t give ourselves time to sit and do nothing. Meditation is the perfect excuse. In that doing nothing time the mind has the chance to unfurl and imagine. Yes, I know in meditation we’re supposed to observe the thoughts and let them go. But why not benefit from those thoughts before letting them go.

Any final words?

My wish for my readers and the ones they love is for happy trails and many adventures along the way.
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.
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Friday, November 28, 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
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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.
What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life?
I’m most proud of being a good husband and dad. Although I’m only starting now as a grandfather, I think I’m going to be okay as a “Papa”, too. Family is the most important thing.
How has your upbringing influenced your writing?
I was fortunate to have loving and supportive parents. A strong family is the best foundation for a successful life. My father encouraged us to believe in ourselves.  My mom insisted that we value education. She wouldn’t abide poor grammar. 
When and why did you begin writing?
I liked drawing more than writing when I was young. My dad encouraged me to put my drawings into stories. My mom made sure that I knew the importance of being able to write well. Funny thing is that though I could write well from an early age I never really felt I had a story to tell until my grandchildren were born.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I always believed there was something innately powerful – almost spiritual – about writing. It took me a long time, however, to understand how important the act of storytelling really is.
When did you first know you could be a writer? 
It was a breeze to get an “A” in English Composition, quite the opposite in Algebra. I was never going to cut it as an engineer.
What inspires you to write and why?
Being able to effectively communicate our thoughts through the written word is one of the most important things people can do. I like the challenge in that.
What genre are you most comfortable writing?
I could always write academic papers. Writing a memoir is something altogether different. You have to comfortable in your own skin to do it. I’m just learning that now.
What inspired you to write your first book?
Four Before Their Time is my first – and only – book. The story it tells is of a remarkable journey of survival and love through incredible circumstances. It’s a story I felt had to be told.
Who or what influenced your writing once you began?
I kept returning to what my daughter Anne had experienced. She suffered so much when her pregnancy collapsed after only six months. Her four babies were left with little hope for survival. But they did and Anne is the now most amazing mother. I wrote the story for her.
What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?
Sticking to the story. I get so carried away with the craft of writing, or writing about what I want to say, that it’s easy to lose sight of the story. Nothing matters more than the story you have to tell. Everything else just gets in the way. It’s always necessary to keep that in mind.

Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it?
Believe in the value of your story. If it doesn’t have the power to impact other people, why write it at all?
Do you intend to make writing a career?
I’d like to, but that is still a goal that seems out of reach for me at this time.
Have you developed a specific writing style?
I don’t know. It’s so hard to view your work objectively. I guess I’d want people to say that my writing is honest.
What is your greatest strength as a writer? 
Being able to finish. So many writers keep pushing the finish line further and further away.
What is your favorite quality about yourself?
The most important human quality is compassion. I want to be compassionate. I’d like to be humble, too.
What is your least favorite quality about yourself?
Selfishness. Sometimes I see the world as revolving around me. Thank goodness it doesn’t.
What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?
In the Book of Proverbs it says: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3: 5, 6)

That’s a compass for me. 

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. 

For More Information
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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

First Chapter Reveal: Night Terror by Jeff Gunhus

Title: Night Terror
Author: Jeff Gunhus
Publisher: Seven Guns Press
Pages: 400
Genre: Supernatural Thriller/Horror
Format: Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

Ten years after her abduction and near-sacrifice to the Source, Sarah Tremont struggles to be a normal teenager. As much as she’s tried to suppress the power inside of her, it’s grown dangerously strong and has drawn the attention of those who want to possess her power for themselves.

The nightmare that she thought was long over starts again as powerful forces descend upon Prescott City to seek her out. With her parents and Joseph Lonetree’s help, Sarah must stand up to an evil much more powerful than the one she faced in the caves a decade earlier. But in the end, she discovers the greatest danger might come from the power living inside of her.

First Chapter:

Charlie Winters didn’t scream. Not because the pain had stopped, because it hadn’t. Every nerve in his body was still on fire, bursting with electric signals to his brain that the bag of meat, sinew, and bone that was supposed to protect it was being systematically destroyed. Pound by pound, his flesh was eaten. Ounce by ounce, his blood was guzzled down.

His screams stopped only because his vocal cords were raw and bloody and had ceased to function. None of the dozen or so attackers had bothered to silence him when they started the feast, and Charlie had screamed and screamed until he could do so no more.

Even with his throat filled with blood, he still tried to cry out, expelling a spray of red mist. The men feasting near his head enjoyed this and breathed in the vapors of his bloody exhalation. One of the men’s thick fingers dug into Charlie’s left eye socket and scooped out his eyeball, giving a quick yank to pop it loose from the strand of nerves attached to it. Charlie felt another man put his lips around the empty socket and suck hard at the juices inside his head. Nails clawed at and then ripped off the small pad of meat on his cheek, a delicacy on ten-year-old boys as much as it was on suckling pigs.

Charlie closed his eyes and begged for death.

An hour earlier he had been a regular boy, just like anyone else.

But then again, he knew that wasn’t really true. He’d never been like anyone else. And now it had finally cost him.
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Monday, November 24, 2014

Interview with David Bernstein, author of I've Got Some Good News and Some Bad News: You're Old

Title: I've Got Some Good News and Some Bad News: You're Old Author: David Bernstein
Publisher: Dynamic Learning
Pages: 202
Genre: Health/Fitness
Format: Paperback/Ebook

 Life is an aging process. Each of us will go through it in our own way. How we lead our lives when we are old, particularly as we near the end, is, I believe, worth pondering. In this way, "I've Got Some Good News and Some Bad News: You're Old" serves as a guide for all of us as we age, providing topics for contemplation and discussion with friends, family and colleagues. "You're Old" uses real patient experiences to explore what happens as we age-physically, mentally, and socially. The book also examines the tremendous abilities of medicine today as well as its limits, and the social issues that adults in America face as they age. Each chapter concludes with Notes on Living Longer, and a resource section, providing topic-specific information on organizations, websites, and other expert sources that can help the reader better understand and prepare for the prize of surviving youth and middle-age: becoming old. "You're Old" is written for the aging and the aged, their children, and younger people who aspire to grow old. It is written for the physicians, nurses and other providers who care for the elderly. The experiences explored in this book include the "good news and the bad" as the inevitable ravages of age intrude into the lives of Dr Bernstein's patients. From the most mundane situations to the truly sublime, the tales illuminate the emotional, psychological, and spiritual aspects of aging along with the diverse strategies people use to adapt to its realities.

For More Information

  • I've Got Good News and Some Bad News: You're Old is available at Amazon.
What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life?

Accomplishments I am most proud of in my life are graduating medical school and becoming a physician, raising successful children, and publishing my first book.

How has your upbringing influenced your writing?

My upbringing had a major impact on my life and writing. As I was growing up neither of my parents read very much but they were both devoted to their children and insured we all got a good education. My parents had great admiration for writers and authors and I know that inspired me in one way or another. My parents, especially my father who was a WW II combat wounded veteran imparted on me that I was capable of anything if put my mind to it.

When and why did you begin writing?

I really haven't been much of a writer until I published my first book. I had written short articles in my medical school newspaper, hospital newsletter, and was involved in writing at least one article in a professional journal. I wrote my book because I had wonderful stories to tell and lessons to share with my audience

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

My interest in writing began at my high school graduation. The graduation address was delivered by David Fisher. He had been a graduate from my high school 10 years earlier and I admired the fact that in such a short period of time he had become an accomplished writer. On that day I vowed to write and publish a book one day.

When did you first know you could be a writer?  

I don't know exactly when I knew I could be a writer, but as I mentioned earlier, my parents instilled in me that I could do anything I  put my mind to.  To me, that included writing a book!  Additionally, during my medical training, I learned how to do things by following this philosophy taught by my professors; “See One, Do One, Teach One”.  I applied that philosophy to writing a book.  Once I committed myself to writing my book, I told my family, friends and patients, knowing full well that they would hold me accountable; and they did.

I have always been able to tell great stories and motivate my patients with the lessons each of the stories had. I realized that I had messages to deliver as well, in one way or another.  I decided in 2007 that I would put those messages down on paper so people other than my patients could experience what I have to say.

What inspires you to write and why?

I have been inspired by the everyday stories I have heard from patients I have treated throughout my career. Each and every story has brought me such joy and inspiration. Writing the book has taught me a lot about myself and what I needed to do to make myself become a better person and become healthier.

What genre are you most comfortable writing?

I am most comfortable writing nonfiction and using short vignettes and stories to illustrate that in the world “common things are common”, and there's a lot we can all learn about the common things in life; we don't have to look very far.

What inspired you to write your first book?

I was inspired to write my first book by the author, David Fisher. Additionally, my patients and friends who told me I had a gift of telling stories that stimulated them to ponder and become motivated to make major life-changing decisions.

Who or what influenced your writing once you began?

Once I determined I was going to write, I was influenced by several great medical writers: Jerome Groopman, MD, Naomi Reman, MD, Atul Gawande, MD and by the nonmedical writer Malcolm Gladwell.        

What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?

The most challenging aspects of writing has been finding the time in my very busy schedule to organize my thoughts around the different stories, and translate them into sensible, coherent and meaningful material for the reader.  In addition, as a physician I have always held myself to a higher standard of getting things right, and this is a challenge to “get it right the first time” as a part-time writer.      

Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it?

It's hard to itemize all the things I learned while writing my book.  It took five years to write and during that period of time, I learned something new just about every day. Once I completed the book I had a great deal to learn about the publishing industry. After that, I spent at least two years learning how to market my book and prepare for my next. From the standpoint of subject matter, once I organized my chapters and dug in to the research, I learned even more about the secrets to a happy, healthier, longer life. Furthermore, there is limitless wealth of information about the subjects I plan to write about.

Do you intend to make writing a career?

I intend to continue to write and practice medicine. Over the next five years I anticipate transitioning from the day-to-day practice of medicine to more writing speaking and teaching.

Have you developed a specific writing style?

The particular writing style that I enjoy the most is telling a story about real life situations. The feedback I have received from my readers is that this style is what immediately grabbed their attention and interest in my book. Furthermore, the supplemental data and resources that follow in each chapter reinforce self-directed learning on that topic, as well as a very clear list of “Lessons to Live By”   that readers can immediately incorporate into their lives.

What is your greatest strength as a writer? 

My greatest strength as a writer at this point is my 30+ years of experience as a physician and nearly 60 years as an observer of life. I have the great fortune of having wonderful relationships with my patients who will share their innermost thoughts, trials, and tribulations including their own personal flaws, and lessons they've learned.

What is your favorite quality about yourself?

My favorite quality about myself is that I am sincere, I like to laugh, and I genuinely enjoy being kind to people.

What is your least favorite quality about yourself?

My least favorite quality about myself is that I have high expectations of myself and others.

What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?

I have many favorite quotes. The following quote that stands out that I use periodically, (especially with my patients who may be in despair) is from M. Scott Peck; “Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult-once we truly understand and accept it-then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.” What I particularly like about this quote is that it has a great ability to defuse people (including myself) when expectations are high life should be fair, but it generally isn't.

David Bernstein, MD is a highly respected physician who is board certified in both Internal Medicine and Geriatrics practicing in Clearwater, Florida. His 30+ years of experience have provided him with opportunities to observe and empathize with thousands of adults as they age. His compassion and ability to see the souls of his patients has compelled him to share his stories in his book “I’ve Got Some Good News and Some Bad News You’re OLD: Tales of a Geriatrician What to expect in Your 60s, 70s, 80s and Beyond” Dr. Bernstein has served as chairman of his hospital’s Pharmacy and Therapeutic committee for 20 years helping to improve patient safety and outcomes. During this period of time, he also served on the board of the local Jewish Family service and as chairman. As an associate clinical professor in the department of medicine at the University of South Florida College of Medicine, he has taught the skills he has acquired over the years to first and second year students. Dr. Bernstein has been a nursing home medical director for 20 years. He was responsible for addressing administrative and quality assurance issues. “When you give, you get back” he says about what his patients have told him and taught him about life and aging. His writing style of telling stories about his patients allows the reader to understand the complex emotions and struggles of growing older and losing independence. He lovingly tells these stories adding his own insights about this complex process. Dr Bernstein is an avid public speaker, addressing various medical topics with his colleagues and with the community at large with a focus on families facing the complex problems as they near the end of life. For More Information
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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Guest Blogger: Evolution of a Writer & Meeting My Husband At The Same Time by Joel Craig

Evolution Of A Writer & Meeting My Husband At The Same Time
by Joel Craig

My history of writing has been journal writing, play and screen writing and eventually comic books.  In the early 2000’s, I started a theatre company with my friends called Off Hollywood and we wrote plays and performed them on the Hudson Avenue stage that we
rented in Hollywood. We were able to workshop plays that myself and my friends wrote. Once we are satisfied with the staged readings (so we could hear our work out loud) we would plan a production so that others could see our work. Also I met my future husband Donovan for the first time when he came in to audition for Off Hollywood  for the company. Luckily he was chosen to be part of the company. We performed together in the play, The Son’ll Come Out Tomorrow by Christopher Reidy (one of the co-founders) and the rest is history. Eventually the theatre company disbanded but our work has lived on. Reidy’s play just performed in September at the Roanoke Diversity Center in Roanoke, Virginia. Stephen Foster (another co-founder) wrote a play about Joan Crawford, Bette Davis and Judy Garland fighting to play the lead in the movie version of Joan of Arc called Legends & Bridge. That play is being performed this December in Rahway, NJ at the UCPAC Hamilton Stage just twenty minutes from New York City.

After I became an RN, my work schedule was erratic. I worked every other weekend so that made performing in theatre impossible so I turned to writing short screenplays and eventually drawing cartoons about my work. I would add fantasy dream sequences about conversations I had with rock singer, Madonna so that my writing was not just about work. Why her? Because I’ve wanted to be like her my whole life. She is a successful business woman who is also creative and even she, the most famous woman in the world, is a failed actor. Adding fun and imagination into my story really opened my writing up. And I could go to the moon and back and not spend a dime. I didn’t just write about two people on a stage or film screen but I could go anywhere and do anything and not worry about if I could fit it onto a stage or having a runaway film budget.  The possibilities were endless. That excited me. My cartoons were easier to share with the world. The cartoons were on paper so anyone could read it at anytime, not just on the weekends at the Hudson Avenue theatre in Hollywood.

Another factor which was a key to my writing at the time when I first became a nurse was that I started working on the night shift. Most of my friends worked during the daytime so not only was I working at night but I was isolated from my friends. Donovan worked nights too but one time (luckily only 2-3 months) he worked on the nights that I was home and vice versa. More isolation. Yuk.

My graphic novel started out as two booklets called zines. Each zine had thirty-six pages. I took my zines to comic book shops and they carried my work on consignment. That is when the store agrees to sell your work and the two of you decide on what money percentages each gets. Usually it is a 50/50 split where the author gets 50% and the store gets 50%.  In some cases the author gets 60% and the store gets 40%. I like that one better. Meltdown comics on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood sold my comics which sold alright. Sales were slow. I may have sold ten comic books. But I just got Skylight Books in Los Feliz (which is right next door to Hollywood) to carry my graphic memoir Welcome To Nursing HELLo, a Graphic Memoir on consignment. This happened only a few weeks ago so I will wait and see what happens.

One store that worked well for me was  this store online called Microcosm Publishing, which also sold zines and books on consignment on the Internet. I sent them one of my zines not thinking they would want to carry them but they did! I was excited. Since they started carrying my work around 2010 I have probably sold 150-200 zines. (I really need to keep close track of my inventory but I admit I am unorganized.) I won’t be quitting my day job over this but I am excited that people are reading my work.

Would I have written my 190 page graphic memoir if I had not become an RN ? Who knows. But I have my book that people can enjoy. My book is funny and has non-nursing things in there such as: an awful job interview, the “Mood Swing”, fighting with my husband in Venice and why I made Madonna cry. So run (don’t walk) to a computer terminal to order my book on Amazon and if you are a writer keep writing.

JOEL CRAIG is a nurse who works at a busy hospital in Los Angeles and lives with his husband, Donovan. They have been married twice with the second time finally being legal. In addition to writing about nursing, Joel is also an actor, having appeared in the films, Sideshow and Sordid Lives. Currently
he is acting in the web series, What’s My Intention? He's working on his next graphic novel, Vampire Nurse in Hollywood

His latest book is the graphic memoir/nonfiction, Welcome to Nursing HELLo: A Graphic Memoir.

For More Information

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Pieces of Me by Daron Kenneth

Title: Pieces of Me
Genre: Poetry
Author: Daron Kenneth
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Pages: 108
Language: English
ISBN - 978-1-46852-289-1

Pieces of Me, is Daron Kenneth's newest offering of poetry that takes the reader on the real and often surreal ride through the mindscape of the author's soul. Pieces of Me is an electric journey into some of life's richest and most memorable moments.

Purchase your copy:



Author, Daron Kenneth, a teacher, writer, play wright and poet gives us his current collection of poetry and insightful observations about the things that mean the most: life, love, friendships and relationships.
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The Straw That Broke Book Blitz - Win $25 Amazon Gift Card!

We're happy to be hosting Tom Whalen and his The Straw That Broke Book Blitz today!

About the Book:

In his rollicking new novel, THE STRAW THAT BROKE, author Tom Whalen continues his ENCYCLOPEDIA MOUSE series, a challenging and funny roller-coaster ride through the outer margins of science-fiction, philosophy, and word play. Readers who reveled in previous books in the series, such as THE CAMEL’S BACK (called “the Moby-Dick of mice” by poet and critic R.H.W. Dillard) and ROITHAMER’S UNIVERSE (which science-fiction writer Rudy Rucker termed “giddy fun”), are sure to greet the arrival of THE STRAW THAT BROKE with anticipation and joy. Lovers of such visionary writers as Kafka, Borges, Vonnegut, Lewis Carroll, and Douglas Adams (THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE series) also will find a kindred spirit in Tom Whalen, as will readers of all tastes who are looking for a thrilling literary adventure.

The main “character” in THE STRAW THAT BROKE is the Encyclopedia Mouse, who, according to the author, “is the one creature who can save the multiverse.”  In Whalen’s synopsis of THE STRAW THAT BROKE, “Bulwer Zetford’s work-in-progress, The Cosmic Messenger, is about to take a strange turn, and the multiverse with it, when Roithamer of Relix “beads” once again and brings swirling into Zetford’s Kaduza M-mon processor the Encyclopedia Mouse … Tale twines tale as the mouse battles his Doppelgänger in cyberspace, Heidegger, in his Black Forest hut, and a hyper-crazed Roithamer. Death is everywhere, but the mouse, birling (if only barely) in his Binding Nexus Drive, is determined to narrate the universes away from their demise.”

Whalen describes his style as “playful, parodic, philosophical, lyrical. I wanted THE STRAW THAT BROKE to be thick with character and plot and at the same time alive with language.”

“The word play is part of the novel’s texture, as well as being embedded into the plot and character of the mouse,” Whalen also explains. “No need for the reader to pick up all the formal play. It’s enough that this exists on a subliminal level.”

Whalen’s ultimate goal, he says, is to have the Encyclopedia Mouse books published in one volume “and eventually turned into a wide-screen baroque masterwork of cinema.”

In the meantime, THE STRAW THAT BROKE is available in print, ready to delight all readers.

What the critics are saying about the ENCYCLOPEDIA MOUSE series:

 “Pollinates post-cyber-punk with headier poetry than the genre has yet known.”
Andrei Codrescu
Author and NPR commentator

“Storytelling which is subtly, wickedly funny.”
The New Orleans Times-Picayune

“Tom Whalen is one of the most gifted and prolific of contemporary American avant-garde writers … a master of this genre.”
George Garrett
Dictionary of Literary Biography

“Tom Whalen twists our notions of what is real.”
Christine Spivey
New Orleans Review

172 pages.
Softcover, $13.46; ISBN:  13-978-0692259436
Publication date: August 1, 2014
Published by Black Scat Books
Available at, Black Scat Books.

About the Author: 

Tom Whalen is a novelist, short story writer, poet and critic who has written for Agni, Asymptote, Bookforum, Brooklyn Rail, Chicago Review, The Iowa Review, Film Quarterly, The Literary Review, the Washington Post and other publications. His books include Dolls, Elongated Figures, The Birth of Death and Other Comedies: The Novels of Russell H. Greenan, and the novels Roithamer’s Universe and The President in Her Towers. Whalen currently lives in Stuttgart, Germany, where he teaches film at the State Academy of Art and Design. See author on You Tube at:

His latest book is the science fiction, The Straw That Broke.

Visit his website at


Tom Whalen is giving away one $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.
  • This giveaway begins November 3 and ends November 29.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on Monday, December 1.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!


a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Guest post by Ed Grizzle, author of It's Your Decision

It's Your Decision
Title: It’s Your Decision
Author: Ed Grizzle
Publisher: iUniverse
Pages: 128
Genre: Family Relationships/Parenting
Format: Ebook
Purchase at AMAZON
Children are gifts from God, but parenting those children can often be a difficult task. In It’s Your Decision, author Ed Grizzle shows how parenting can be successful when it’s carried out according to God’s plan.
Using his life’s experiences as a guide, Grizzle explores the importance of making the right decisions in life—from choosing the right lifestyle and the right mate and to raising children according to what God has planned for you. It’s Your Decision discusses
• planning for children;
• knowing what children need;
• being aware of the important years in a child’s life;
• understanding that children will test parents;
• valuing the role of grandparents;
• dealing with abused children;
• communicating openly and honestly;
• clarifying family roles.
Grizzle presents a guide to strengthening lives and making your family life more enjoyable. He shows how this is possible when you accept Jesus Christ into your life; he will show you the way in the difficult times.


My name is Ed and I lived a horrible childhood like many young people are living today. After meeting my wife to be, things started to change for the better. My parents didn't seem to care much about me but Mary did. That is why the book was written. I wanted to tell people who are having a difficult life that a life with Jesus Christ can and will make all the difference in the world for the way you live your life. I got involved with smoking and drinking at an early age. My dad divorced my mom when I was 13 years old and that was when I committed my first burglary. That was the beginning of my criminal career.
After meeting Mary and getting married, my life turn completely around. Mary introduced me to Jesus Christ and we were both baptized into Him and started to live for Him, not necessarily for ourselves. We raised our children and they are now raising their children the same way we raised them. Bottom line is this. If we live according to Jesus Christ's way, we can have a beautiful life. Mary and our family did. So can you. The decision is up to you.

Ed Grizzle started a ministry called It’s Your Decision that helps addicts, prostitutes, and others who face difficult circumstances. He and his late wife, Mary, raised two children. Grizzle currently lives in Illinois
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