Monday, March 30, 2015

Crystal Stranger, Author of Pro-Choice - A Financial Guide for Women

financial guide for women, pro-choice book, crystal stranger, pro-choice financial guide
Today we are interviewing Crystal Stranger, author of the personal finance book Pro Choice- A Financial Guide for Women.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m an Enrolled Agent (EA) professionally, owner of the online tax firm 1st Tax and I also do financial consulting. I live in Honolulu, Hawaii with my boyfriend and 18 month old daughter.

Describe the purpose of your book in a few sentences.
I want to set an example for my daughter and create a guide that will help women everywhere be more financially together. Also, finance is such a complex subject and it seems like many advisors take advantage of this and brainwash people into feeling like they are dumb about money. It’s really not that difficult to learn, and no broker is ever going to care as much about your finances as you do.

Who do you think would most appreciate this book?
Millenials have been deemed 'savers' by the financial community. While there are useful tidbits in the book for people of all ages and income brackets, I think young women who are saving and just starting their investing timeline can especially benefit from this.

What inspired you to write a financial guide for women?
When I was pregnant with my daughter it wasn’t an easy situation, I had been living in Norway and her biological father wanted nothing to do with us. Many of my girlfriends opened up to me at the time that they had abortions because they couldn’t see how they would support a child on their own when in similar situations. It’s where the silly title for the book came from. I’m supportive of people making any choices they want, but I don’t think that the really important decisions in life should be stymied because of financial choices,

What do you think is the most important think for women who are interested gaining more control of their financial situation?
I think for many women the most important thing is viewing finances objectively, stepping back and looking at the big picture. There is always money for saving and investing somewhere, or options to make more money, but sometimes it takes a new way of looking at the situation to find where that may be.

In your book, you write about how you believe women have an advantage in investing and business. Can you elaborate on this?
This isn’t just my belief, statistics have shown this to be true time and again. I think there are a number of reasons this proves true, but a large factor is the same thing that my helicopter instructor always told me was why he thought women make better pilots. He called most of the men who would come and take lessons flying 'cowboys' and said they always thought they knew more about flying than they really did. Whereas women are less ego attached and more likely to research an answer or ask for help when needed.

How do you think reading your book will impact women?
My hope is that it will help many women make better financial choices in their lives so they can be of greater benefit to their families and communities.

What do you have in mind for your next writing project?
I have a couple more projects in the works, a tax guide for expats and a book about ethical investing I started years ago but haven’t had time to finish.

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your book?
I was really surprised when researching this book how few good examples of self-made female investors I could find. It was really hard to find enough to start each chapter with a story, and I hadn’t anticipated that. If you google ‘investor’ all the pictures that show up are men, even though Geraldine Weiss had one of the greatest annualized returns in history, second only to Warren Buffett. I feel really inspired by these women and hope that the readers of my book will feel inspired by their stories as well and take it the step beyond and take their lives to the level where they will be the success stories others look up to in the future.

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Saturday, March 28, 2015

John Hazen, Author of Journey of an American Son

journey of an american son, john hazen
Today we are interviewing John Hazen, author of the historical suspense novel Journey of an American Son.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I came to writing novels relatively late in life. It was always one of those things I wanted to do but “never had time for”. Well, once I started I haven’t looked back as Journey of an American Son is my third published novel and I’m putting the finishing touches on my fourth. I have degrees from Rutgers, The New School and NYU that buttress a lifelong passion for learning and a love of history (all of my novels have a historical component to them). My wife, Lynn, and I will be celebrating our 35th anniversary this June. We live in New Jersey and I’ve worked for the State of New Jersey for thirty years. We love to travel, and the experiences of those travels often find their way into my writing. My reading tastes are eclectic, ranging from histories to classic novels to an occasional piece of modern trash. My absolute “must reads” are Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series and Doris Kearns Goodwin’s No Ordinary Time.

Describe the plot of your book, “Journey of an American Son,” in a few sentences.
In 1920, Benjamin Albert, who had been sent on a business trip to India, is framed for murder and thrown in a Calcutta jail after he asks to many questions about his company’s operations there. Abandoned by his own government, his wife, Catherine, takes matters into her own hands and battles a ruthless and unscrupulous corporation abetted by a corrupt colonial government to prove his innocence and free him. Spanning the globe in an era of great change, Journey of An American Son takes readers from the Jewish ghettos of 19th Century Eastern Europe through American immigrant-clogged streets, the trenches of war-torn France, the geisha halls of Japan and the grimy backstreets of Calcutta. 

Who do you think would most appreciate this book?

This book will appeal to history buffs, to fans of suspense and to those who simply love a good story.

What inspired you to write a book about a man framed for murder and his case complicated by prejudice?
The original inspiration for this book came from a diary my grandfather kept on a trip he made from Boston to Calcutta in 1920. Of course, his trip was a lot more mundane than what’s presented in this book, although he did encounter lepers, geisha girls, British army officers and silent film starlets. Anyway, I decided this trip made a great backdrop upon which I could build a story. I always try for my books to have a broader message beyond just the story and, being aware of the conditions at the time both in America and in India, it seemed to come together that there were abuses and arrogance on the part of corporations and governments that would silence a man who asks too many questions. Add to this the fact that the man is Jewish who is asking questions about the treatment of dark-skinned Indians, it seemed to be an explosive combination.
Tell us about the protagonists, Benjamin and Catherine.

Benjamin is a composite of a number of people I’ve known or heard about over the years. He’s part my father, part my father-in-law, part my grandfather. He is, in a word, brilliant. He’s very matter-of-fact but also self-assured about his brilliance. He’s a non-observant Jew but he’s keenly aware that he is Jewish and that is how the world views him. Despite he himself being the subject of prejudice, he is prejudiced against “coloreds”, as he calls him. It isn’t until he makes this trip that he has a sort of epiphany on the subject, which in turn proves to be his downfall.

Catherine came entirely from my imagination. I’ve been told that a key ingredient of my writing is that I write about strong women. She is perhaps one of the most complex characters I’ve ever written. On the one hand, she’s a modern woman, being college-educated at a time when many women were not. On the other, she’s old-fashioned being content to be an at-home mother once her son, Harry, is born. She is not Jewish but is willing to face the stigma of the time of marrying outside her faith. When she hears about her husband’s conviction and incarceration 8,000 miles away, she nearly loses all hope but is soon able to draw on an inner strength she didn’t even know she had and she takes on seemingly invincible forces.

How did you capture 1920s India?
As I mentioned, the main source I used was the diary my grandfather kept on his trip there. My grandfather was a research chemist and, like a good scientist, he was extremely meticulous in his recordings. I’ve also done a fair amount of reading on the time and place to give me the feel.

Is there an author who influenced your writing style?
I can’t specifically cite one author over another as an influence. As I mentioned, my tastes are eclectic. Generally, I know what I like when I see it but often I can’t make a definitive statement as to what component of that author’s style that I like.

What do you have in mind for your next project?
I have several things in the works. I’m actually reworking the first novel I ever wrote but had never released, hoping to get that ready for publication. I’m also working on a sequel to my book, Fava. It’s the only book of mine that readily lends itself to a follow-up book. I’m also attempting to turn a couple of my books into screenplays. I’ve been told that my books would make good movies and I have a friend in the industry so I figured I’d give it a whirl.

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your book?
Just that I’m confident they’ll like Journey of an American Son and hopefully they’ll walk away with something meaningful after reading it. One person who read it said that my motto should be: You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll think. I like it!

An excerpt from Journey of an American Son: 
I first met Ben in the spring of 1916. Our initial encounter could have been disastrous. I worked at the Rutgers College library. It wasn’t that I needed the money. My mother demanded that I work part-time to build my character. I’m still debating whether that worked or not. She was a close friend of Mabel Smith Douglass, who was leading the drive to open Rutgers to female students. Mother wanted me poised to enroll the minute that happened. She figured that physically working at the university gave me an advantage. She also paid for an apartment in the middle of New Brunswick for two of my friends and me. I felt quite the independent young lady.
Anyway, it was a Saturday afternoon on a beautiful day in late May. The library was practically deserted. I was wheeling a cart full of books I had to return to their shelves in the biology section. I turned a corner and saw him sitting alone at a table, surrounded by his notes and a number of volumes.
He didn’t see me at first. He was studying very intently, but he wasn’t staring at his books. He was concentrating on a dollar bill he held in his hand. I was fascinated by his catatonic state as he gazed at this bill. I found him to be quite handsome, too, with his chestnut colored wavy hair and penetrating dark brown eyes. He was dressed in what could best be called workman clothes, a blue denim shirt, black somewhat worn but still serviceable slacks and rubber-soled light brown shoes. He certainly was not the typical college student I ran into every day. I decided to walk over and speak to him.
“So, is that the first dollar you ever earned?” I airily asked as an icebreaker.
My voice startled him as he sat upright from his slouched position. I could tell he was weighing his answer. He later told me that he actually mulled over the possible responses he could make to this question. He was in a foul mood and his initial inclination was to say: “Just because I’m Jewish doesn’t make me a miser!” But when he looked up from his seat in the library and saw (his words) the most beautiful hazel eyes he’d ever seen in his life, he quickly reconsidered. I had no idea at the time (nor did I really care) that he was Jewish and he made a wise choice in not responding in the way his original instincts guided him. I probably would have turned and stormed away, never speaking to him again.
Still, though, it wasn’t in his nature to make a breezy, witty retort. Instead he said:
“No, actually it’s the last dollar my father earned before he died.”
I stood there a few seconds, uncomfortable and dumbfounded.
“I…I’m so sorry.”
I turned to walk away as he called after me.
“No, wait. I’m the one who should apologize for my rudeness. Please, won’t you sit down? I could use the company.”
I slowly lowered myself into a seat across the table from him, but I still didn’t know what to say after that.
Ben couldn’t keep his eyes off of me. I have to admit I was rather a stunner back then. He said he especially loved the dimple that appeared in my left cheek when I smiled. I was hoping he’d be determined to do whatever it took to keep me smiling for a long time.
“My name’s Ben Albert.”
“I’m Catherine Jackson. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“Pleasure’s mine, Catherine.”
There was silence for a few moments more until I asked the question most on my mind.
“Is that really the last dollar your father earned?”
“Yes, one of them. He got sick when I was three years old. I never did get a straight answer what he had but from what I could gather I always suspected it was cancer. The doctor told him it would be best for his health to go to a warm climate for a while. He traveled to North Carolina, worked two days in the tobacco fields down there and then died that night. He made all of five dollars for his efforts. Each of his four children got a dollar as a remembrance. My mother has the other.
“My sister, Bessie, spent hers within a week. As far as I know, the rest of us still have ours. I carry mine with me all the time. Occasionally, when things are going tough I’ll pull mine out and look at it. It puts things in perspective for me when I think of what he had to go through, immigrating to America with only about twenty words of English in his vocabulary, living in the tenements of New York before settling in New Brunswick to raise his family and build a new life. Then cancer cut him down before he could really get going. Looking at the dollar reminds me of my obligations and responsibilities.
That’s why you find me here in the library on a gorgeous Saturday.”
“You said your father died when you were three? Do you have any memories of him?”
“Only very vague ones. As time goes on, I’m less and less sure which are real and which I’ve invented from the stories I’ve heard about him over the years. My mother’s still going strong, though. I live at home with her. What about you?”
“Well, I live in an apartment with a couple of friends not too far from here on Church Street. I know it’s very scandalous, three un-chaperoned females living on their own in the city. It was my mother’s idea actually. She lives up in Westfield and she could not see me traveling every day back and forth. Besides, she wants me to be independent. Like she is. My earliest memories revolve around accompanying her to suffrage meetings. Hopefully, you’re not one of those who wish to keep women from voting, are you?”
“No, not at all. Women can’t do any worse at choosing leaders than men. You mentioned your mother. Is your father dead?”
“No, they divorced when I was young. He lives up in Boston. He’s been very generous financially to my mother and me, but he’s never wanted much to do with my life. It’s okay, though.”
The look on his face showed that it wasn’t okay. He changed the subject.
 “So, what’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon? Shouldn’t you be getting ready for a date or something?”
“Well, I work here. I have to work until 6:00, or at least be here until 6:00. I don’t think my supervisor would exactly classify what I’m doing now as ‘working’ but she’s nice. And no, no date. No nothing tonight, I’m afraid.”
“I refuse to believe that a beautiful woman such as yourself does not have a line of men waiting at your doorstep on the off chance you’ll honor them with your attention.”
I laughed, but was very taken by the compliment.
“I’m sorry to disappoint.”
“Well, as it so happens I find myself similarly unoccupied and uncommitted for this evening. Would you like to grab a bite, perhaps at Timothy’s Pub, when you get off? Unless of course you don’t want to be seen with a man who still lives with his mother.”
“Well, when you put it that way, it does seem a lot less desirable.”
He smiled back but then just as quickly got serious again.
“Or unless you’d feel funny about going out with a Jew.”
 “No, that doesn’t bother me in the least.”
“I’m glad to hear that. I like to be upfront to see where I stand. So, can I pick you up at your place around 7:30?”
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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Eric Arnow, Zen Buddhism Blogger

Today we are interviewing Eric Arnow, writer of the bumblebuddhist blog.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I find myself in a 66 year old body, born of an American Reformed Jewish family, majored in German literature.

After graduation in 1970, I  fulfilled my aspiration to study Zen at the San Francisco Zen Center, where I had lived, worked and studied after college.

In 1984, I decided that I needed to learn about how money worked, and went into the life and health insurance business. Worked in that industry for about 18 years.

I got tired of that, and In 2004, went to Thailand, where I felt freer to pursue meditation practice. I stayed at many temples in Thailand, Burma, and eventually, starting in 2010, many Chinese Buddhist temples and monasteries.

Following successive financial crashes, 2000 dot com crash, recession in 2003, crash in 2008, commodities crash 2011-the present time, I decided to get into the ecommerce business, to shore up my finances.

So currently, I am starting an online business, continuing my Zen practice, and also, bearing witness to the ongoing paradoxical evolution/devolution of the world, culturally, spiritually, politically, economically. In a small way, attempting to alert people to a reality outside of what people are bombarded with by 'The Mighty Wurlitzer'. (That is the CIA's term for its total control over 90% of the media and information content in the USA.)

What sparked your interest in Zen and Buddhism?

In Chinese, there is a popular term, Yuan Fen. It is often translated as Destiny, Fate. Or alternatively, Affinity, or perhaps Synchronicity. At the age of 9, I, a kid from a typical middle class family, was watching a dramatization of a party. There was a guy who looked different from the people I was used to seeing. He had a beret, a beard (Unthinkable in 1950's America!), was waving a funny looking cigarette, and talking about 'Zen'. I had no idea at the time, but he was what was being portrayed as a 'Beatnik'. I thought, "What's Zen????. Five years later, I wandered into a corner store, for a treat, was gazing at a paper book rack with dime novel. But there was a book "Zen Flesh, Zen Bones".

I thought, THERE'S THAT WORD!. I bought the book and loved it. When I went to college, I was majoring in German, and found that many of the writers and even scientists, like Heisenberg and his Uncertainty Principle, were raising fundamental questions about life and society. My country was in the process of destroying Vietnam, my family had many problems, too. So I decided that the wisest course to take was to stop, take stock of my own life. A Zen community in San Francisco offered a way to do that, without having to deal with the 'dog eat dog' world that I saw as the usual life path. So I took it.

You've done a lot of traveling through Asia. What are some of the places you've traveled to? How did you select these places?
While many people assume (maybe, if they scratch the surface of the word "Zen") that Zen is a Japanese thing, in fact, Zen developed in China, especially from the 5th-12th centuries. Having read about the places where Zen developed, I had the idea that, to pay my respects to my 'spiritual ancestors', I needed to go, first to Thailand, where Buddhism in its earlier form is still practiced, but more importantly, to the historical places where Zen actually developed. Where the teaching stories, called Koans, actually occurred.

In other cases, because I have an affinity for China, I visited places that are famous from a cultural point of view.

In 2010, I visited (and a shout out to Author and Translator, Bill Porter, aka Red Pine, who introduced me to the Abbot) the 4th Ancestor temple, ( Chinese: Si Zu Si). From there, learned of other places to visit and stay.

In 2012,  I also visited the most impressive caves in Gansu Province, at Dun Huang, and associated places, famous for their cave art.

In 2013, I did a pilgrimage of the most important Zen (in Chinese, it is called Chan) Temples, most famous in the development of Chan or Zen Buddhism: Yang Shan Xi Yin Temple, Dong Shan Temple, Huang Bo Temple, Baijiang Temple, Gao An, Linji Temple, and several other important but lesser known temples. Also climbed two of the 5 Mountains Sacred to Chinese Buddhists: Wu Tai Shan " Five Plateau Temple", and Jiu Hua Shan, Or Nine Precious Temple, which was home to a famous Buddhist Saint, called Earth Store Bodhisattva, or in Chinese, Di Zhang Pusa.

To a lesser degree, I also visited some of the more noteworthy places in Beijing, such as the Emperor's Forbidden City, and various other tourist sites.

I'm sure the knowledge and wisdom you've gained from your travels are invaluable and voluminous. What are a few of the things that stand out the most when reflecting on your traveling experiences?
On a social level, I have been totally moved by the kindness and helpfulness and friendliness of Chinese people to me. Everywhere I went, people went out of their way to help me.  And families often took me in to stay with them. Temples were very happy to let me stay with them. Sometimes, after I gave them a donation, they would give me a donation! 

Another thing I feel is the sense of Culture. Chinese are very aware that they have an ancient culture. They often ask, "do you know about Chinese culture?"  People practice calligraphy with Chinese characters. Many practice musical instruments, even the ancient Chinese instruments, like the Gu Qin, or flute.

What do you have planned for your next pilgrimage?

Not sure at the moment.

In your blog, Bumble Buddhist, you document a lot of your travels. Do you have any plans to further share about your studies and travels in a book?
As noted, I have a blog, which I contribute to, though not so much recently. Indeed, people have encouraged me to write a book, and much of the material for it is already written on my blog. It just needs to be organized and edited.

What advice do you have for someone interested in Buddhism?
Buddhism is not a belief system, really, but a way of seeing and being in the world.
A famous Japanese Zen Master, who brought Chan back from China to Japan, said, "To Study Buddhism is to study the Self. To study the Self is to forget the Self. To forget the Self is to be Enlightened by all things."

The Buddha, who lived 2500 years ago, said, "All we are is a result of what we have thought".

And another Chan Master, who had an exchange with a provincial governor over 1000 years ago had this to say, in response to the question, what is the truth of Buddhism. "Do good, do not do bad, purify your mind". The governor responded, "Well, any 3 year old knows that!", to which the master replied, "True, but how many 80 year olds can actually do it."

Think about that story in the context of our current predicament. What government official nowadays would even consider such a conversation?

On a practical level, there are many many books written both by modern Buddhist teachers and writers. A visit to the web along with some curiosity, will yield a lot of information. Youtube has many videos of talks by Buddhist teachers. Those are two approaches to learning 'about' Buddhism. But to really understand Buddhism and especially Zen Buddhism, you have to 'Just do it'.

The Buddha himself was a crown prince, destined to be a world leader. He gave up the luxuries of the palace, and went to get answers to his most pressing questions. Eventually, he determined to 'just sit', quiet his mind---no easy task--- and allow the answer to unfold within.

So I recommend that people practice meditation. Sitting meditation, but also, practicing Mindful Awareness as much as possible, throughout one's daily activities.

A simple google search, "How to practice Chan in daily life" or "how to practice Zen in daily life", will bring up many suggested sites to visit, articles to read, videos and so on. But the key point is, as the last words in the evening of a Zen retreat exhorts us Zen Students:

"Carefully listen everyone! Life and death is a grave matter
All things pass quickly away!
Each of you must be completely alert,
Never neglectful, never indulgent."

Or put another way,

"Row row row your boat
Gently down the stream
Merrily merrily merrily merrily
Life is but a dream"

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Duncan MacLeod, Author of 5150 - A Transfer

5150 book, 5150 a transfer, duncan macleod
Today we are interviewing Duncan MacLeod, author of the mental health memoir 5150 - A Transfer.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was transplanted from California to Boston for boarding school in the 1980s.   When my mental health declined, I dropped out of Columbia University and moved back to San Francisco, which is when this memoir begins.  Years later, I still have to deal with mental health issues, but they haven’t stood in the way of my dreams, which include publishing this novel.  I earned my MBA from the University of Southern California and now I live in a ranch style house in the San Fernando Valley with my husband, my dog, and a swimming pool.

Describe the plot of your new book in a few sentences.

When young, gay Ethan Lloyd comes unglued at a seance, he becomes convinced he has been kidnapped by the phone company and taken to another planet.  It turns out to be jail.  The transfer from jail to the mental hospital (called a ‘5150’ transfer) appears to Ethan as a rebirth into a new body.  As he gradually regains his mental faculties, the reader is released from the intense first person present narrative style and allowed to breathe in the third person past tense.

Who do you think would most appreciate this book?

Anyone who wants to know what psychosis is like will benefit from reading this novel.  It is aimed at friends, families and loved ones of young teens who are trying to cope with their beloved’s mental state, and want to understand where they are coming from.

What inspired you to write a book about a character who experiences psychosis?

There is nothing more frightening than losing touch with one’s faculties and ability to reason.  Ethan is suffering and frightened, but you will see that he is still in there, despite all the confusion, and he is able to make his way back to reality with the help of a lot of love, medicine, and time.

What techniques did you use to relay the psychosis to the reader?

First person present tense is the best way to make the reader feel psychotic themselves.  The identification is so complete.  The narrator is unreliable - telling the reader that things are happening which really are not.  That is what psychosis feels like.

What made you decide to set the book in 1980s San Francisco?

Since this is a loosely disguised memoir, I made no effort to change the setting where the events took place.  Like the teachers of writing say, “write what you know”

Are there any authors who have influenced your writing style?

William Burroughs, Allan Ginsberg, Vladimir Nabokov, William Faulkner and anyone else who uses the unreliable narrator.

What can readers expect from the next book in the series?

The next book, 1/2, is a continuation of Ethan’s recovery, this time moving from the 3/4 of the way house to a halfway house.  Along the way, he falls down a new rabbit hole and meets the weavers of his fate in the court of the Faerie Queen.

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your book?

Mental illness is heavily stigmatized, and that is a serious problem.  One way to help reduce the stigma is to portray it just as it is, warts and all.  The result is often hilarious and heartbreaking in the same moment.  There will be five books in this sequence - the “Psychotic Break Series” so if you love this book, get ready for more excitement and madness with Ethan.

An excerpt from 5150:

Sue is older, more experienced, and very cool. She doesn’t have any job ideas for me. But she’s going to a séance at Wanda’s house, do I wanna go?  Yeah. Wanda lives just a few blocks away in the Lower Haight. It used to be an all-black neighborhood, but recently some punks moved in, and it’s starting to change. Wanda lives in a pink stucco apartment building with aluminum windows, the only modern building on the block. Sue giggles as we enter Wanda’s house. Wanda is sprawled out on the peach-colored sofa, watching the Prince Special on MTV. Wanda is a beautiful, buxom blond from West-by-God-Virginia who shrieks when we walk in.  
“Suzie!  Where did you find the fop?  He’s just a Little Lord Fauntleroy of Dickensian foppery on a wheeled stick!”  
“This is Ethan. A new inductee to your coven!”  Sue giggles as she says “coven.”
“Ethan!  Oh, we’re glad to have you. I’m hoping we can get to the bottom of my linoleum mystery.”
I’m feeling bashful in spite of the fact that I immediately like Wanda. I’ve never met anyone as smart as Wanda before. She looks at me and says to Sue, “Where did you find him?”  
Sue just snickers and says, “The Stud.” 
Wanda grows earnest. “Sue, you find so many valuable things down there at the Stud. It’s just a treasure trove of gay fabulousness.”
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Samceeh, Author of Politipiggle

politipiggle, samceeh, uk politics
Today we are interviewing Samceeh, author of the political humour/cartoon book Politipiggle.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi, my name is Samceeh, and I'm the creator of Politipiggle. I'm usually a novelist- cartoons and artwork is something of a departure from the norm for me.

Describe the purpose of Politipiggle in a few sentences.
I wanted to cut through the spin and coverage and help people perceive establishment figures in a new way. These images, these outlines…this is what they are when the curtain is pulled back. Politipiggle reduces politicians to people.

Who do you think would most appreciate Politipiggle?
Anyone interested in UK politics, and anyone keen for a fresh perspective.

You include a wide range of public figures in your work, from Emma Watson to the Pope. How did you decide who to include?
I didn’t decide all of them—the media did that for me. The big names like Cameron, Miliband, Clegg, those ones I picked. But half of the faces are in there because they’ve made their voices heard this year in the build up to the election. I was also constrained by time—I only had the idea for PP around December last year, and it has taken so many evenings after work relentlessly working to get it completed in time.

What was the creative process like for Politipiggle, from the initial idea to the published book?

In my day job I work in depth with newspapers and media outlets of all shapes and sizes. It means I’m constantly reading news articles, many of them about politics. I can watch a story break as it happens, watch it spread and get syndicated. When something worthy of a Politipiggle came up, I’d make a note of it. Then I would craft the image. And finally, I’d add the statement. And onto the next!

How do you think reading Politipiggle will impact people?
I’m hoping it will give people a little bit of fresh perspective. In a society that is constantly bombarded by campaigning in the build up to the election, I’m hoping PP will help people take a step back.

What do you have in mind for your next writing project?

I’m currently editing a novel based on some time I spent in Cambodia. Images are merely for illustration in this one though!

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about Politipiggle?

Only that Politipiggle is a work of love. And if you have any interest in UK politics, I think you’ll love it too.

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Pamela Goodwin, Author of A Party When the Wolves Come Home

a party when the wolves come home, horror novel, pamela goodwinToday we are interviewing Pamela Goodwin, author of the fiction/horror novel A Party When the Wolves Come Home.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a African American mother of two kids. I went to Holy Names University and majored in History. I live in Oakland, Ca but was born in Riverside, Ca. When I first became an author, I published my first five books with in five months of each other. I sometimes work on two books at the same time. I love writing books because it relaxes me.

Describe the plot of your new book in a few sentences.
The plot of, A Party When the Wolves Come Home, is interesting. It starts of sad how Stanley, the main character, is basically wasting away. He is successful with a house and a business. His sister is about to loose all of her caring emotions towards her brother if he doesn't get himself back on track and become responsible again. The doctor that he meets looks as if he's not human. He talks funny, he walks funny, he even reacts funny when Stanley gets into a rage inside the office. Stanley is scared of the doctor but sees how desperate his sister is at wanting him to change his dangerous lifestyle. When he goes into the treatment center, he realizes that things are not what they should be. From the drugged bus ride to the tiny cell like rooms they place people in. One man who was sent to the treatment center, escaped, then later snuck back in, shows Stanley what's really going on and they both escape the center together. From there, they work together to find out all the information they can on the creatures to get other people who haven't been taken over to help them get rid of the creatures.

More Country in the Summer Please.

Who do you think would most appreciate this book?
I think readers who don't want a roller coaster ride with a book will appreciate this one. I tried to be as descriptive as possible in this book so that readers can have a clear view of the scene and what the characters are doing, feeling, and thinking.

What inspired you to write a story about people trying to expose aliens’ plans?
My inspiration for writing this book is my dream. Most of my books come from dreams that I have had. That is one of them!

Tell us about the protagonist, Stanley.
The main character in this book, Stanley, is a Black man who was living what he felt was his American Dream. When his wife died, he felt that dream had ended and he now had to try to find a way to slide through the rest of his life as best as he could with the least amount of emotion as possible. He is still strong in some sense but he's become a weak person because of his lost. 

Flesh of Stone by Pamela Goodwin.
A Party When The Wolves Come Home will be featured in the London Book Fair. Can you tell us a bit about this?
I registers this book for the London Book Fair, which is next month! So that means for those three days, whoever attend the book fair will have a chance to see my book on the display shelf along with other authors' books. Also, my book and it's information will be in a catalog that the visitors can take home with them for ordering. More exposure for me! I also plan on having more of my books in two other books fairs later on this year.

What are your goals as a writer for the next ten years?
For the next ten years, my goals as a writer is to have published tons of more books in several genres for everyone's reading pleasure. I hope by then that I have become a known author of fiction with my own fan club. I want my son and daughter to feel that I have created a legacy for them to be proud of that will benefit them greatly.

Do you write with a computer, typewriter, or pen and paper?

I use my laptop when I'm writing because it's more convenient. It's one of those little Acers, so taking it places with me is a breeze. I can pop it up and get to work with no effort at all. And editing is very simple.

What do you have in mind for your next project?
For my next project that I'm working on, it is a urban fiction. A story about a young woman who meets a man out of town and he becomes her sugar daddy. I'm having fun writing this book because I'm using some of my experiences in the book!

More Information

Follow Pamela on Facebook
Buy A Party When the Wolves Come Home on Amazon

More Books by Pamela Goodwin
Flesh of Stone
Pretend You're Alone

More Country in the Summer Please
The Empress
The Empress: Challengers of the Empire

Jedediah McClure, Author of Myths of Christianity

myths of christianity, jedediah mcclure
Today we are interviewing Jedediah McClure, author of Myths of Christianity: A Five Thousand Year Journey to Find the Son of God.

Describe the purpose of your book in a few sentences.
The purpose of Myths of Christianity is to put aside any religious agenda and provide an honest and faithful study of the history and foundation of Christianity. While my book may appear at times devout and others subversive (in the best sense), its goal is to distinguish between uplifting Christian principles and stifling customs so we can better understand the life-affirming role Christianity is meant to play in our lives.

Who do you think would most appreciate this book?
Christianity is the world's largest religion claiming over two billion followers. However, with the vast proliferation of information over the last couple decades I am beginning to see two polar shifts: The first is a general skepticism (dare I say pessimism) toward religion and God in general. The second appears to be a fundamental, and even radical, response in the opposite direction to the growing skepticism. Many people want the truth but aren't satisfied with the status quo answers they receive in Church and so they jump to one extreme by rejecting religion in general. On the other hand, many people go to the opposite extreme by throwing themselves blindly into a specific denomination, supremely confident in the truthfulness of their group's beliefs. I think my book will appeal to anyone still in the middle ground - those who seek historical truth and want to know how Christianity can still play a role in their lives. My book is meant to temper the extreme beliefs of absolute certainty while showing the skeptics there is still good to be found in believing.

Jedediah McClure, author of Myths of Christianity.

What inspired you to write a book on Christianity’s origins?
I have always been a seeker of truth. I was raised in a staunch Christian home and believed the scriptures to be the word of God. I had all the best verses memorized, singled out for their life-changing counsel or wisdom and I truly believed I had a strong understanding of Christian doctrine. That is, until I actually studied the scriptures. In Seminary I realized the scriptures were full of contradictions, inconsistencies and inaccuracies. Not only did verses disagree with each other, but they often disagreed with the modern teachings I was hearing in church every Sunday. Every Christian denomination, I knew, believed they had the true gospel and each used the Bible, often the exact same verses (interpreted in their own special way) to support their own particular beliefs. I also noticed that many modern Christian teachings were not Biblical at all. I began to wonder where so many modern Christian traditions originated, if not the Bible, and why modern interpretations based on the Bible appeared to be so confusing. Because of my questioning nature, I wasn't content to just sit back and accept things that appeared confusing or contradictory.

My quest to discover Christianity's origins led me to extensively study the writings and history of early Christian leaders as well as world mythologies. I discovered that regional mythologies and religious practices were often incorporated into the religious practice of the Christians. This resulted in countless variations of Christianity. Church leaders began calling for Ecumenical (unifying) councils in an attempt to establish a single, universal doctrine, often compromising on beliefs to make as many people happy as possible. But it didn't work. After over 1500 years of councils and treaties, Christianity is still as divided as ever. Worse yet, we are still attacking and "bashing" each other over variations in our beliefs. I felt it was time to start a discussion about Christianity's origins. My hope is that by understanding the origins of our own beliefs we will become more tolerant toward fellow Christians who's views differ slightly from our own. My book attempts to start that discussion.

In your book, you state that Christianity took root in a chaotic era. For people who aren’t familiar with the period, could you describe it a bit?
This may come as a bit of a surprise to many Christians, but early Christianity was by no means homogeneous. There were many competing factions within the early church, each holding different interpretations of who/what Jesus was (human or divine) and the role Jesus played in his life and death (was he a failed Hebrew king or apocalyptic Savior). In my book I identify sixteen different "Christian" groups that each believed in Jesus, in one form or another, but who competed with each other for followers. Some of these groups considered Jesus the mortal Messiah prophesied of old but did not believe he was resurrected or born of a virgin. Other groups believed Jesus was fully divine but despised anything Jewish, including the Apostles and the Hebrew Old Testament. These disputes escalated, sometimes violently. Eventually, in the fourth century at the Council of Nicaea, the questions of Jesus' identity and divinity were settled by vote (though not everyone agreed). From that time forward those who disagreed with the council were branded heretics and zealously ostracized from the Christian community.

To add to the confusion of these competing "Christian" factions, you have to consider the environment in which this religion developed. This was an era dominated by Roman occupation and pagan influence. An era overshadowed by the destruction of Jerusalem and with it Jewish nationalism. It was also a period inundated in apocalyptic fanaticism: countless prophets, preachers and charlatans alike trekked across the empire performing "miracles" and each spreading their own versions of the Word of God. This was an age of confusion and competition! The apostles and first generation of Christians (those who actually knew Jesus) were all dead. For the second and third generation of Christians, all that existed to tie them to Jesus were the oral traditions surrounding Jesus and the Apostles and a few of Paul's letters. Access to authentic "gospel" texts (and thus authentic Christian teachings) were in limited supply while countless contradictory "gospels" vied for legitimacy. As a result, long-standing local traditions from region to region were incorporated into Christianity to fill in the doctrinal gaps that were missing. This altered (sometimes dramatically) the manner in which Christianity was practiced.

How did you access texts related to early Christianity for your research?
I have, proverbially, stood on the shoulders of giants here. I rely very heavily on the research of the best scholars, both past and current, and I had a great deal of help from experts in translations. Biblical scholars will likely not find anything new in my book, as most of the research has been around for a long time - in academic circles. Sadly, the mainstream public knows very little about the topic of Christianity's origins, and some of the information may come as quite a shock to many people. My book takes thousands of years worth of history, culture and doctrinal evolution and synthesizes it into a book that is enjoyable and easy to understand.

What was the most interesting thing you uncovered while researching Christianity’s origins?
Would it be cheating to say it's ALL interesting? I don't want to give away too much, but I think people will be fascinated to learn where the idea of the "One True God" originated, as well as the actual origin of the Devil (Spoiler Alert: It wasn't from the ancient Hebrews!)

How do you think reading your book will impact people?
Thus far, the responses have been amazing! It has caused some people to question some of the more dogmatic religious traditions that too often become divisive or damaging to one's faith. It has also helped others who are struggling with their faith see they are not alone, and while they might have reasons to doubt, Christianity has many good things to offer as well.

What do you have in mind for your next writing project?
Not a day goes by that I don't have an idea and say, "Now, that would make for a great book." For a while now I have been working on a book I have tentatively titled, "Why Won't My Faith Move Mountains?" It is focused on those Christians who struggle with their faith or who think their faith has failed them. The premise is that because of long-standing, dogmatic traditions, we may no longer understand God. Instead, we've chosen to trade in the actual God for a God of convenience who seemingly blesses us when we are good and let's Satan punish us when we are bad; A God who always answers our prayers (even if that means not answering them at all); and who allows bad things to happen to us for too many reasons to list. Essentially, we created a God that is great when we want Him to be great and a God for whom we make excuses when things fall apart. This God can't stand up to intense scrutiny and as a result we are seeing a growing crisis of faith across the entire Christian community. We need a new understanding of God, free from dogma and excuses, if God is to remain relevant in our lives.

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your book?
The Myths of Christianity is written to be informative but also fun and relatable. I use a lot of personal stories and modern comparisons (including Bruce Lee, several politicians and even Disney cartoons!) This is an entertaining and uplifting book intended to help the reader set aside the dogmatic and often divisive traditions so entrenched in our culture by revealing their forgotten origins. You may be surprised, you may be overwhelmed, you may even be troubled, but you will certainly never look upon Christian tradition the same way again.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Marica Love, Author of Married to the War

married to the war, marica love, marriage novel, novel marriage, self married
Today we are interviewing Marica Love, author of Married to the War.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
Marica Love’s passion for humanity, music, creativity, and living an abundant life is rivaled only by her love of children; motherhood is the root of her greatest successes.

Born and raised in Australia, Marica is the eldest of four siblings. She moved to Europe at the age of eighteen and stayed until the end of the Croatian War of Independence in 1995. Marica’s personal journey is candidly chronicled in her new book, Married to the War, the first in a series.

Once hailed by a newspaper photographer as “Nice, friendly, flamboyant and savvy”, Marica embraces those accolades and flourishes in every role she undertakes. She was the station manager, a member of the board of directors, on on-air presenter and program manager with WOWfm 100.7 for five years and was the producer of her television show ‘Unsigned & Inspiring’ on CH31 in Sydney. Music serves as an endless source of motivation and inspiration to her. As the owner of The Cake Pop Emporium Pty Ltd in 2013, she had the honour of serving political dignitaries, the Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard and MP David Bradbury in her store.

Marica is not influenced by other’s opinions and expectations. When the calling came to start over in life again, she embraced the opportunity. She is guided from within and will continue to bring her ideas to life with the influence of God and her Angels. A strong will, tenacity and compassion are virtues which enabled her to begin again and she is thriving.

She currently lives in Sydney with her beloved pup, Ellie Mae. When not writing or furthering her skills, Marica enjoys hanging out with her adult children, traveling, the beach, cooking, movies and pampering sessions.

While she continuously grows as an individual, passing on the gift of creativity and self-discovery is important to her.

Please visit her Facebook Fan Page – ‘Marica Love’ for news and updates.

Describe the purpose of your book in a few sentences.
Following my soul’s calling to write about my life’s journey.  My book is about my personal experiences in a war zone, like everyday living for five years.  Going from a free country Australia to a war torn country, former Yugoslavia to be with the one I love at the age of 18.  It is about one’s strength, endurance, spiritual growth, learning, survival and more.

Who do you think would most appreciate this book?
Because I wrote it from my heart and soul.  My book is long awaited and it is a piece of history.

What inspired you to write down your five-year journey through the Croatian War of Independence?
My children, my 23 year old son and my 18 year old daughter were my main inspiration and drive.  There were a lot of other individuals along the way too.  I love writers and successful artists who followed their inner calling and passion.  I look up to them. 

What was it like revisiting those memories from the war?
It was a huge emotional rollercoaster.  I would close my eyes, put my headphones in and go back in time with my mind eyes while I listen to the music I feel at the time.  I cried a lot, had scary moments, some fun moments, but a lot of lonely times.  It was therapeutic in a way.

married to the war, marica love, marriage novel, novel marriage 
How do you think reading your book will impact people?
Hopefully, people will say no to war and spread love.  I think people will find it interesting and unique.  I am looking forward to hearing from my readers!

What do you have in mind for your next writing project?
I am writing my sequel, ‘married to the war, memories’ and the aftermath. I have already been asked when they are being released by readers who have enjoyed my first book. I am finishing my two cookbooks called ‘my recipes from Croatia’ one are cakes and the other are meals. I will be publishing 13 books in total over the next few years. Its my lucky number.

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your book?
Yes, there was one morning when it started bombarding and I sat my son on my lap as I listened to the civil defense sirens sound off.  I looked at my son and said, ‘one day we are going to write a book about this war and tell everyone what we are going through.’  Well, that time is now, my book is born.  Words are powerful, believe in your dreams and yourself.  I believed we would survive and we did.

10% of my book sales will go toward animal charities my son and daughter choose.

Thank you
Love and light with many blessings I wish you, marica love.

More Information





Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Roger Hickman Jr, Author of Profit or Property

Today we are interviewing Roger Hickman Jr, author of Profit or Property.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m married with four adult children. I have been investing in real-estate for over 20 years.

Describe the purpose of your book in a few sentences.
To teach everyone above a third grade education how to safely invest with the government and no credit required.

Who do you think would most benefit from reading this book?

Written for someone that has no knowledge of this product.

What inspired you to write this book?
My friends and family got tired of asking me question and said you need to write a book, so I did. I wrote this book because I wanted to share my twenty years plus journey with everyone who is seeking a way to generate income without having a lot of money to invest. Even the little people can get in the big game of investing in real estate. I did my best to take out all the jargon that can potentially be misleading. I want everyone that read my book to know that, they do not need investing experience, a license or have to pay a professional investor to conduct business for them.

When did you first get interested in real-estate tax lien investing?
About 27 years ago, I’m 50 now.

How does your book differ from other books on the topic?
This book contains information and links that will help you get started investing today. It covers why tax liens and deeds exist. It will educate the reader on who to contact about tax auctions, what questions to ask, what is needed to start investing and many other important details. It tells you how to go after it, “so what are you waiting for” If generating supplemental income with little effort is your goal, then this is the book for you.

What was the most interesting thing you uncovered while doing research for the book?
How little we all know about investing with the government.

How do you think reading your book will impact people?

They love how detail my book has been written and once they try tax lien investing they will never invest any other way.

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your book?
It’s the best kept secret!

More Information

Buy the book on Amazon

Monday, March 23, 2015

Melissa Martineau Alexander, Author of Anatomy of an Affair: Part 1

anatomy of an affair, part 1, melissa martineau alexander, romance, adultery
Today we are interviewing Melissa Martineau Alexander, author of the suspenseful romance novel Anatomy of an Affair: Part 1.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a forty-two year old mother of two currently living in Rhode Island with my husband, Stephan and children, Maxim (age 5) and Melina (age 3). 

From the time I was young, I always loved writing, whether it be poems, short stories, essays or just writing in my diary.  In high school I would participate in our school’s annual Literary Arts Festival, usually submitting and reading various essays or poems I had written.  I’d always had the desire to write a novel and attempted this several times over the years, only to become overwhelmed and quit after writing ten pages or so. Honestly, I have no one to blame, but myself for not having the discipline to finish during that time.

Up until I had children, I had a career as a commercial real estate paralegal and title insurance underwriter.  Once becoming a mother in my late thirties, I wanted to look for a way to continue to stay home raising my children, while finding a satisfying career to bring in income.  I began working only a couple days a week as a paralegal, which I enjoyed and did allow me time at home with my children, but…I wasn’t fully satisfied.  Something still felt missing in my life, creatively. 

I began pondering the idea of writing a novel again shortly after the birth of my daughter.  It started as a little voice in my head at first, then slowly became louder and more forceful as time went on.  Finally, I woke up one day with this story in my head and just started writing.  I found it so easy and the words just flowed onto the page. There was a fire inside me to finish that I never found in any story I attempted to write in the past.

Thus, Anatomy Of An Affair was born.

Describe the plot of your new book in a few sentences.
It is about a woman now in her early forties, who wants to sit with the reader and tell her story.  Lily Wentworth is at a point in her life where she can’t fathom her actions over the years, specifically, her affair with Kyle O’Reilly, her husband’s best friend.

Lily decides to open up and reveal her life, not to make herself sympathetic to the reader, but in an attempt to trace her steps leading to the current point she is at in her life. She feels if she dissects her life and actions, she will discover the “anatomy of an affair”.

Who do you think would most appreciate this book?
I think people will appreciate that this is less a story about romance, but more of a character study about understanding how essentially good people can behave in a way that is detrimental to themselves and the people around them.  Without divulging too much, I think every person who reads this book will have some part inside of him or her that is relatable to Lily.

What inspired you to write a book about a woman who has an affair with her husband’s best friend?
Specifically, I once dated a man on and off who, during that same time, got another woman pregnant and married her.  When he called me stating he was on vacation visiting his parents, he was actually on his honeymoon.  I never had a clue until I mentioned I was seeing this person to a friend. Not only was I surprised that she knew him, but she also proceeded to tell me that his wife just had their baby the week prior…while he was still seeing me!  Of course, I immediately stopped seeing this person. 

When I confided this to my closest girlfriends, they too, had stories that blew my mind.  There was so much dysfunction in relationships and marriages that I was never privy to.  Outlandish behaviors were more prevalent than I realized.  The more we divulged our various tales, the same expression kept being said and soon became our mantra, “You just can’t make this sh** up!”

That experience made me fascinated with how people behave the way they do. Maybe I should have studied psychology, but I found my outlet to be writing a saucy piece of fiction instead.

Tell us about the protagonist, Lily Wentworth.
Deep down, Lily Wentworth is a selfless loving person, but she’s complicated.  At times she’s very aloof and cold.  Other times, she’s as vulnerable as a child.  She a walking contradiction and I enjoyed creating her with so many layers.

How do you hope readers will respond to your book?
I hope readers find it entertaining and find something he or she can relate to among the various characters.

Without giving too much away, what can fans expect from part 2 of the series?
Lily is still on her way to finding the answers with some twists and turns along the way.

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your book?
There are people who will constantly live their lives going around in circles because it’s safe, easy or just all they know. There are others who’ve finally had enough and are willing to stop the cycle, no matter how difficult the road takes them.  This series is about surrendering and finding hope.

An excerpt from Anatomy of an Affair:

“Oh, and one thing I want to state up front.  If you think I’m going to bash my husband in this, then you are sadly mistaken.  I have no attempt to create a negative picture in a feeble attempt to create a shred of your sympathy.  No matter if he is the greatest husband in the world or the biggest asshole, it does not take away from the fact…the plain and simple fact…I should have NEVER entered into this affair.  He is not and will never be a scapegoat for my behavior.”
More Information
Pre-order the book on Amazon 
Visit the author's website
Follow the author on Twitter

Barry Mangione, Author of No Easy Answers

no easy answers, barry mangione, no easy answers barry, no easy answers book, no easy
Today we're interviewing Barry Mangione, author of the self-help book No Easy Answers.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I'm an author, musician, singer/songwriter, life coach, and pediatric physical therapist. Over the past several years, I've overcome depression, divorce, bankruptcy, alcoholism, and thoughts of suicide to become the happy, healthy, and hopeful person that I am today.

Describe the purpose of No Easy Answers in a few sentences.
Without self-awareness, there can be no self-help. In order to truly know yourself and be able to help yourself, you first have to ask yourself some hard questions. The purpose of this book is to share the questions that helped me transform my life in an effort to help and inspire others do the same. Each chapter is a question that I asked myself during my personal transformation, and the reader is encouraged to ask the same questions of themselves.

Who do you think would most appreciate No Easy Answers?

I think anyone who is in the process of changing their life for the better will appreciate this book. It's divided into three sections: recovery, redemption, and reinvention. If you can identify with any one of these stages of life's journey, there's something in No Easy Answers for you.

What inspired you to write a book about your transformation from a struggling individual on the verge of suicide to a happy and successful person?

I realized that I had a choice. I could either keep this knowledge and experience to myself, or I could share it with the world in the hopes that someone else going through similar struggles would find hope, inspiration, and the individual empowerment to overcome their personal adversity.

During the period of your most difficult challenges, what motivated you to strive to be a better person?
My love for my children motivated me to keep going, and a burning desire to express myself through music and writing. If I did not have music and writing as a creative outlet during those times, I'm not sure where I would be today.

How do you think reading your book will impact people?
My hope is that people will ask themselves the same questions that I ask myself in the book, and that the process of answering those questions for themselves will lead them down a path of greater self-awareness and inspire them to do great things. I hope people will come back to the questions in No Easy Answers throughout the difficult times in their lives for guidance and wisdom.

What do you have in mind for your next writing project?
My next project is tentatively titled, Weapons of Hope. The idea is to further explore all the concepts, ideas, and practices that kept hope alive for me during the darkest of times and that still motivate me to strive for more today. Rather than using the framework of questions as I did in No Easy Answers, I'm using the framework of weapons to view hope not as something you wish for, but as something you fight for.

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your book?
A portion of the profits from sales of No Easy Answers will be donated to Appalachia Service Project, a nonprofit organization with which I'm personally involved. Their mission is to make homes in the poorest regions of Appalachia warmer, safer, and drier for the people who live there. I talk about some of my experiences with Appalachia Service Project in the book.

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Don and Stephanie Prichard, Authors of Stranded

stranded, don & stephanie prichard, don prichard, stephanie prichard
Don and Stephanie Prichard are the authors of the suspense novel Stranded.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
Don and I joke that we're co-authors and still happily married. We started our debut novel about ten years ago and have found it hugely rewarding. Don is a retired architect and a Viet Nam veteran who served in the US Marine Corps Reserves for thirty-two years before retiring as a colonel. I'm an army brat and have lived in many countries around the world and loved it.

Describe the plot of your new book in a few sentences.

All Marine Corps reservist Jake Chalmers wants is to give his dying wife a last, romantic cruise to the Philippines. Unable to save her in a mass murder aboard ship, he washes ashore a jungle island, where he discovers three other survivors. Heartbroken that he failed to save his wife, he is determined not to fail these helpless castaways.

Federal prosecutor Eve Eriksson rescues a young girl and her elderly great-aunt from the same ship. They badly need Jake's survival skills, but why is he so maddeningly careful? She needs to hurry home to nail a significant career trial. And, please, before Jake learns her secret that she's responsible for his wife's death.

Who do you think would most appreciate this book?

Readers who like a fast-paced story of survival with lots of suspense and a spiritual dimension.

What inspired you to write a book about a struggle to survive on a jungle island?

Don came up with the basic story by asking himself what gut-wrenching event would test a man's heart and soul. From there, he worked backwards to the beginning of the story. I love survival stories, so when he asked me to join him to "bring the characters to life," I jumped in with glee.

Tell us about the two protagonists, Jake Chalmers and Eve Eriksson.

Jake is devastated when he fails to save his wife's life, so he is determined to protect the three other castaways' lives. As a Marine Corps reservist, he is well qualified. Eve, however, has a different agenda--get off the island, at whatever the cost.

It’s hard for a lot of readers living in the comfort of their homes to imagine the hostile environment of the jungle. How do you capture the challenges of surviving in the jungle for readers?

Through using the five senses to bring home the experience. We want the readers to feel the grit of sand under their feet, the stench of their swampy armpits, and the pounding of their hearts as the snout of a croc nips at their heels. Oh yah, readers love it!

Are there any writers who have influenced your writing style?

I studied novels like The Hunger Games to learn how to write a page-turner.

What do you have in mind for your next project?

We've been delighted at the demand for a sequel to Stranded, so that's tapping off our keyboards now.

What is one of your favorite quotes from Stranded?

Well, speaking of crocs … “The beast was huge. If there’d been elephants on the island, the croc could have eaten them for breakfast and still been hungry for dinner.” 

A short excerpt from Stranded:

The heavens faded from black to dusky blue, arching like an inverted bowl over the inky waters below. Sprawled across a fragment of boat, Jake Chalmers scanned the horizon. Darkness cloaked the expanse to the west, but in the east the circle of the earth etched a line of gold between ocean and sky. Pushing himself chest high, arms shaking, he studied the line for movement. Nothing. Nothing but the rising sun.

He rolled to his back and threw an arm over his eyes. Seawater dripped off his sleeve, stinging the cracks in his lips. He winced and pressed them together. A scum of brine coated the inside of his mouth, numbing his tongue and the back of his throat. Swallowing to generate saliva blazed a trail of salt down his esophagus. His stomach heaved, but there was nothing to expel, not even bile.

So thirsty. The craving ground like fine sandpaper against every cell in his body. Forty-two years old and he'd never experienced misery like this, not even in Nam. He raised his arm and flexed his fingers, blinked until the crinkled skin on the back of his hand came into focus. Were the wrinkles a symptom of dehydration? Or the result of floating five nights in the ocean?

He shifted back onto his stomach and hooked his left arm over the edge of the fragment to keep his balance. The flat-bottomed vessel, split in half lengthwise by the explosion and flipped into an upside-down V, barely accommodated the stretch of his six-foot-two frame. The submerged air compartments that had doubled as tourist passenger seats kept the damaged craft afloat, but the V tipped precariously with each swash of a wave.

He'd count, clear the haze from his mind. Count the days since he'd boarded the cruise ship. The days alone on the ocean after the explosion. The hours, the minutes, every second of the rest of his life he'd spend hunting down Captain Emilio.

He sat up, catapulted by the heat of rage. The boat fragment jerked, and he fell on his back and slid, grasping with outflung arms at the wet surface. The ocean swallowed his feet, his chest. The bucking craft smacked his head as he slipped off. Blood filled his mouth, stinging his tongue where his teeth slashed it. He caught the edge of the vessel, pulled, up, and spat. Crimson dots spattered the craft's white paint.

Ginny. The ache for her pressed against his chest. Where was she? Floating like him in the ocean? Or had she slipped under the waves to a briny grave? He closed his eyes. Tired. So tired. Wanting to save her. Failing. His throat tightened.

He repositioned his grip and willed himself not to leg go. Willed himself to fill his lungs and release the air in a slow exhale. Willed himself to crawl back onto the broken sea vessel. He lay on his stomach and stretched his limbs into a sprawl.

God and man may have abandoned him, but he wouldn't yield body and soul easily. The ocean would have to wait.
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