Sunday, August 25, 2019

Dr. Joyce Addo-Atuah, Author of The Power of Thanksgiving: A Blueprint for Contentment, Fulfillment, and Well-Being through Gratitude



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Today we are interviewing Dr. Joyce Addo-Atuah about her Christian inspirational book, titled “The Power of Thanksgiving: A Blueprint for Contentment, Fulfillment, and Well-Being through Gratitude.”

You are a new author and so it is important that people get to know who you are. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a pharmacist by profession but since 2008, I have been in full time academia as a college professor at the Touro College of Pharmacy in New York City. I am a very passionate educator, teacher, speaker, motivator, and storyteller. I have spoken and taught on several professional as well as Christian platforms and have travelled widely to nearly 40 countries. My husband and I are blessed with 4 children, all young adults now. Although I have been writing in the scientific world as a college professor is expected to do, this book, “The Power of Thanking: A Blueprint for Contentment, Fulfillment, and Well-Being through Gratitude” is my first one in the non-academic world.

Describe your new book, “The Power of Thanksgiving: A Blueprint for Contentment, Fulfillment, and Well-Being through Gratitude,” in a few sentences.
One reader of the book has described it as “the Genesis through to Revelation of thanksgiving.” Genesis is the first book of the Bible and Revelation is the last one so I believe that this reader meant to say that the book is a comprehensive text about thanksgiving and indeed it is.

It starts with why we should be thankful, to what we should be thankful for, followed by how to express gratitude to God and people, to how to develop a lifestyle of gratitude, through to the physical, mental, relational, and spiritual benefits of a gratitude lifestyle. Chapter 7 calls every reader to action to begin their individual life journeys of gratitude. The chapter describes a 4-step process of Acknowledgment ( of our brokenness as people), Reconciliation (with friends and family), Giving (paying it forward; doing good to others in appreciation for all that we have); and ending with the Sustainable Lifestyle of Gratitude stage in order to obtain the full range of the benefits of thanksgiving over the long term.  

What inspired you to write The Power of Thanksgiving?
You see I am naturally a very grateful person and so taking stock of my life and reflecting on all the opportunities that God in His infinite mercies has brought my way, I have since 2013 felt a strong urge to write a book that will publicly thank Him and the people around the world He has used to bless me in diverse ways. For example, I dedicated a section of the book to write about my encounter with and appreciation for all the assistance and support I received for my PhD program in the United States because of Dr. Dick R. Gourley (Professor Emeritus and former Dean of the College of Pharmacy at the University of Tennessee in Memphis and his wife Dr. Greta Gourley who I met in year 2000. 

Let me state here that I have spelt out my 3 goals for writing this thanksgiving book in the chapter “Why I Wrote This Thanksgiving Book.” So my first goal as explained above is to thank God and people who have contributed to my life in diverse ways. My second goal I will address in answer to the next question.  

But my third goal which is the most important to me is to demonstrate in concrete ways that I am grateful for all that I have received in life by paying it forward. So I would like everyone to know that proceeds from this book will provide the seed funding for the Shalom: Health & Education in Ghana (SHEG) Foundation which I am planning to set up to assist in meeting the basic health and educational needs of people in Ghana, especially those in the rural areas. I have seen heart-wrenching pictures of pregnant people sleeping on the bare floor in healthcare facilities or others being turned away for lack of hospital beds. In the area of education, school children in many areas don’t have properly constructed classrooms, even basic structures; some learn under trees siting on pieces of stone or on the bare floor. My passion is to make a difference here. 
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Author Dr. Joyce Addo-Atuah.

What do you hope readers gain from reading your book?
By the way, the book is available in 3 formats-Ebook, paperback, and audiobook. So whether people read or listen to the audiobook, I sincerely hope that both readers and listeners of this book would learn about the wide-ranging benefits of a lifestyle of gratitude, starting from increased happiness and translating into good physical and mental health, better relationships, a positive outlook on life, higher productivity, and long life among others. Not only will they learn about these life-transforming benefits of thanksgiving but I do hope that they will take the 4-step process to initiate their own gratitude life journeys in order to actually experience these benefits over the long term. I also do hope that readers and listeners of this book will gain even more benefits when they realize that they are actually contributing to a worthy cause bigger than themselves and do whatever they can to partner with me in accomplishing the goal of improving the education and healthcare resources for rural Ghana.

Who do you think would most appreciate your book?
I think everyone, no matter their background, would appreciate The Power of Thanksgiving. This is because everyone is happy when appreciated for an act of kindness. Also the wide-ranging health and relational benefits that people who practice gratitude derive is not limited to any group of people. However, because I wrote the book primarily to thank God and the people who have been kind to me in my life thus far, and because of my Christian background, some chapters in the book, especially chapters 3 and 4, is scripture heavy and so may turn off the non-Christian reader. Having said that, every person, no matter the religious or cultural background, stands to benefit from developing and demonstrating gratitude (Chapter 5), experiencing the health and social benefits of a gratitude lifestyle as described in chapter 6, and the call to action as has already been described in chapter 7. 

It seems more and more people are discontent and unhappy with their lives. Do you think social media and technology are factors in creating a materialistic culture?
Technology has certainly made it possible for people to show off their lives to people around the world on social media. Whether these seemingly exotic lives are the reality all year round is another matter but they create images which may evoke feelings of inadequacy in people who may be prompted to compare themselves and their surroundings to those depicted by those they see on social media. This certainly may be one of many sources or causes of discontent and unhappiness among people today. This may be true for people of all ages but may be even more so for the younger generation because of peer pressure.

One of the strengths of your book is it draws from science, scripture, and your experience. Was it challenging to write about this vast amount of information while still making the book relatable?
I must say that the connection between a gratitude lifestyle and good health and well-being among others have already been established by science although I must admit that I didn’t know about it or the extent of the studies. I chanced over these priceless scientific findings when reading another book on thanksgiving which made references to these scientific studies and that drove me to get to the source of these fascinating research findings. These findings greatly enhanced my desire to write The Power of Thanksgiving: A Blueprint for Contentment, Fulfillment, and Well-Being through Gratitude because I realized that I now had 3 sources of evidence regarding the benefits of a gratitude lifestyle; i.e. Scripture and my own life experiences buttressed by scientific evidence. This makes this book unique because it has something for everyone no matter who they are or their background.

In addition to easy-to-follow methods for seeing God’s hand in our daily lives and advice on how to be grateful, your book also contains Bible passages and hymns. How did you select the scripture and hymns to include? Do they share a theme?
Yes, the Bible passages and hymns in the book all share the same theme of thanksgiving and gratitude to God for His love, protection, provision, opening of opportunities for His people and so on. 

The specific scriptures selected and where they appear in the book depends on what is being discussed in that particular section of the book. For example, I bring in the Bible passage of David fighting and killing the giant named Goliath to demonstrate one of the many reasons we have for being grateful to God-giving us protection from our enemies and supernatural abilities to overcome difficult situations. 
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Are there any people in the Bible who standout as inspirational examples of practicing gratitude?
I quoted extensively about King David because, as I stated in the book, he was a shining example of someone who knew where God had taken him from, a shepherd boy alone in the fields taking care of his father’s sheep, to be anointed by Samuel on the direction of God to become arguably the greatest king of the Jewish nation in his time. He did not hide his gratitude to God; even as king, we are told that he could sing and praise his God with careless abandon of his status as king. Let’s remember that in gratitude to God, he had the intention to build a temple for Him, although he was told that it was his son Solomon who was to do the building. However, King David made sure to make all the things required for the temple building ready for his son before his death. It takes a heart of gratitude to do all these and let’s also not forget that he wrote the majority of the Psalms of praise and worship in the Bible.

What was the most interesting thing you uncovered while doing research for the book?
When I started to write this thanksgiving book, I decided to watch the daily practice of people with respect to thanksgiving and gratitude. I began to look out for people who were showing gratitude and those who were not and the circumstances under which these practices occurred. So for example, during my morning commute in the New York City subway system, I began to take note of various acts of ingratitude which I had previously overlooked. These acts of ingratitude included people taking seats vacated by others for them without even a nod of acknowledgment; some people also waved off attempts by others to vacate their seats for them often to the embarrassment of the philanthropic person. It was really interesting to watch these everyday human interactions in the context of gratitude and thanksgiving. 

Did writing the book take you to unexpected places or reveal things you hadn’t thought about before?
I can definitely say here that writing this book reminded me of so many things in my life and that of my family which I had forgotten about or taken for granted. As I began to write, I was reminded of these life experiences that reflected whatever section of the book I was writing about. Recounting these life experiences I sincerely believe would make the message of the power in thanksgiving much more real and relatable to both the readers and listeners of the book. 

You have an interesting background, as a Pentecost Bible College board member and college professor, in addition to being an author. What drew you to writing as a way to share your message? Did you always know you wanted to write?
You see, as a college professor I have to write in order to see any career progression. We have a saying in academia which goes like “Publish or Perish.” So I have many published papers and book chapters to my credit in the academic world but as I have already stated “The Power of Thanking: A Blueprint for Contentment, Fulfillment, and Well-Being through Gratitude” is my first non-academic book. Now that you’ve asked, I remember that during my primary school days in Ghana, I wrote a story entitled “My Grandmother’s Funeral” which described vividly the elaborate burial proceedings for my loving grandmother who was very much alive and well at the time. I still don’t know why I chose that topic because I truly loved my grandmother and didn’t in any way wish for her death, but what I remember is that the story won the inter-schools’ essay competition for my school. That’s when I realized that I have a writing talent.

What are some of the common mistakes people make when they decide to start practicing gratitude?
Practicing a lifestyle of gratitude is a 2-way street which involves the person showing appreciation for kindness received both in word and deed. The latter includes paying it forward by showing kindness or doing good not only to the person who was the initial benefactor but also to other people. What is important to remember though is that not everyone would show appreciation for the good that we do on their behalf; some people may even do things intended to harm us in spite of our kindness to them.  If we don’t take care, we may allow these inevitable cases of ingratitude to make us bitter or angry and we may even decide not to follow the path of gratitude any longer. What we need to remember is that by aborting the gratitude path, we actually hurt ourselves and deprive ourselves of all the long-term benefits of gratitude and thanksgiving.

Do you have any advice for people who are intimidated by the process of changing their lives to practice gratitude?
I encourage people to start small, wherever they are and at whatever stage in life they may be right now. They can start the practice of gratitude by appreciating the “small things” in life. Research has shown that even writing down one thing that one is grateful for on a daily or weekly basis yield measurable health and other benefits. 

What was the most challenging aspect of writing the book?
I would say the most challenging aspect of writing this book was finding the time, the commitment, and the determination to start and complete it. By joining a community of writers and would-be writers through enrolling in the Self-Publishing School was the best investment I have made for my self-development for a long time. Because by hearing and seeing the results of community members’ achievements in their writing and publishing journeys gave me the impetus and determination to start my own writing journey and to become a published author in November 2018 after a 3-month period of focused work.

How have readers responded to your book so far?
I thank God that readers and listeners of The Power of Thanksgiving: A Blueprint for Contentment, Fulfillment, and Well-Being through Gratitude have really responded positively to the book. I have over 30 five-star ratings on Amazon from verified customers and everyone who has read or listened to the book say it has reminded them to be thankful and not to take anything for granted. The book has also received excellent editorial reviews from the Readers’ Favorite (Five star) and a 4/4 star rating from the Online Book Club of over a million members. More importantly, the book has won 4 awards this year alone-a winner in the National Indie Excellence Awards, a Bronze Medal winner in the Global Ebook Awards (Christian Non-Fiction), a finalist in the Book Excellence Awards and also a finalist in the International Book Awards (Christian Inspirational).  So all in all the response has been very positive across board. 

Where can people get copies of the book to buy?
People can get copies on Amazon in the U.S. and also in Canada, Europe, India, and Australia, among others. Other outlets include Barnes & Noble, Books- a-Million, Hudson books, and independent bookstores supplied by Ingram Spark. People can also check with their local bookstores and recommend this book for them to stock copies if they haven’t done so already. The Audiobook is available through Amazon, Audible, iTunes and many other audiobook outlets.

You said one of your goals for writing this book is to get seed funding to assist in providing resources for education and health for people in the rural areas of Ghana. That is a very laudable goal. So how can our audience help in achieving this goal? 
I am appealing to individuals and corporations, institutions, influencers, society icons, for profit and not for profit organizations, and communities of faith to get involved and put their weight behind this very worthy cause. Let’s promote this book to become the go-to thanksgiving book for all people all year round in order to generate the funds needed to improve the education and healthcare resources for Ghanaians especially those in rural communities. Libraries and bookstores can contribute their quota to the success of this project by stocking copies of the book and partnering with me to promote the book through book signing, book reading and similar book promotional events and activities. 

Readers and listeners would be contributing a great deal by posting reviews of the book at the sites of their purchases and also encouraging their family and friends to also get involved.   

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers and listeners to know about your book? Any closing remarks you would want to share with potential readers?
Yes, I would like to announce that we are running a 7-day Kindle countdown deal on Amazon for the Ebook beginning on Friday, September 13 with a starting price of $1.99 which will be increased gradually through to September 20, 2019 when it returns to the normal retail price. This is a deep discount from the normal price of $5.99. I encourage people to take advantage of this great discount to get their kindle copies on Amazon because this purchase would qualify them to get the audiobook for only half the price. For those who may be doubting the value of the audiobook, please read the experience shared by an Audible member below:

“I enjoyed this audiobook. I intend to listen to it over and over again. I found a lot of peace listening to each chapter. We are reminded to be humble in all that we do and that God’s grace sees us through. The nice aspect of the audio version of this book is that one can hear the music (piano versions) and it’s a lovely addition.”

I would like to thank you all for your support for this book and for making the project in Ghana possible for the benefit of the less privileged. I am truly grateful and appreciate you all.

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Saturday, August 24, 2019

Ian Primmer, Author Hometown: The Puget Sound Kids of the 1990s

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Today we are interviewing Ian Primmer about his new novel, “Hometown: The Puget Sound Kids of the 1990s.”

Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Ian Primmer. I am an Pacific Northwest author. I reside in Washington State and have lived there for most of my life. I have a wife and five children.

Describe the plot of your new book, “Hometown: The Puget Sound Kids of the 1990s,” in a few sentences.
The story is about a boy named Cody Muller growing up in the Pacific Northwest in the 1990s. A young misfit who experiences quite an array of wild adventures and crazy encounters. Cody struggles his entire life to find himself, making one mistake after another. He suffers loss and small victories like no other. In essence, Cody is the poster child of what not to do, and how not to act in this 90s circa theme. 

Tell us about the troubled young man who is the story’s protagonist.
Cody Muller struggles his entire life to find himself, making one mistake after another. He suffers loss and small victories like no other. In essence, Cody is the poster child of what not to do, and how not to act.

The main character struggles as a result of poor decision-making. What kind of poor decisions does he make? How does he cope with his situation?
Suicide attempts, smoking oregano in the band room, shooting Darrius Rucker in the rear with a pellet gun on the golf course, popping all the number pads off of the lockers so other kids cannot retrieve there items between classes, assaulting a political figure with a paintball gun, Cody almost can’t help himself. He wants to make good choices and is by no means morally bankrupt. He just can’t quite get a grip on psyche and behavior. 

Can you tell us about us about the main character’s relationship with his friends?
Making friends is not a challenge for Cody. However, choosing his friends is. This is Cody’s downfall. With the exception of his childhood best friend Wesley, Cody struggles to find a friend as worthy after Wesley moves to Seattle.

Tell us about the setting, 1990s Pacific Northwest.
The Pacific Northwest in the 1990s was a prosperous times for all ages. The economy was pretty good, and the Seattle music scene was considered revolutionary to most living in the area. 

Was it difficult to capture the 1990s with your writing? Did you have to do much research?
As the author, I had a significant advantage as I was raised in the Pacific Northwest during the 90s and didn’t need to do much research to capture the circa. However, I did have to double check some of the dates given movies and music to match the age of the protagonist at times. 

What draws you to the coming-of-age genre?
Childhood youth is universal and relatable. 

Grunge music was a big part of the 1990s Pacific Northwest. Did you draw any inspiration from this culture?
Absolutely! Before the explosion of Seattle’s grunge scene. Music was kicked off by an up-and-coming band called “Mother Love Bone.” In my opinion, this eventually led to Temple of the Dog, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden. Kurt Cobain and Nirvana were a given. A freight train couldn’t stop that movement from happening and Jerry Cantrell along with Alice in Chains simply couldn’t be passed over. For many of us, we felt a sense of great pride growing up in an area that was so recognized musically. Many of us were devastated by the loss of Kurt Cobain. 

Are there any authors who have influenced your writing style?
Hemingway…

How long have you been writing? How has your writing changed since when you first started?
I started writing after a long and exhausting family court battle in my early twenties. I couldn’t understand how a lawyer could charge so much money for writing in such an argumentative form. After awhile, I attempted to mimic the style and began to like writing. I later ventured in to technical and political writing and eventually wanted to write my own stories. 

Who was your favorite character to write?
Cody’s mother Doris Muller. I have an emotional attachment to the character similar to my own mother. A sweet innocent victim of a toxic teenage wasteland. 

How do you think you've evolved as a writer since when you first started?
Honestly, I believe I’ve got a long way to go. We never stop learning and I really wished I would have furthered my academic career before diving head-first in to my writing ambitions.

Are there any aspects (e.g. character building, world building) of your writing that you've been practicing?
Yes! I am proud to say that I have been using the Novelist app on my google chrome laptop. The app allows you to build and mold each character before writing the story. 

What are your goals as a writer for the next ten years?
I’d like to finish my next book entitled “Hang em’ high”- The modern punishment for an active shooter. I would also like to complete a box set series of small town stories throughout several cities in my home state. 

How have your readers responded to the book so far?
I think “Hometown” is still a little new to the market. I have not received any reviews yet. 

Is there any aspect of writing you don't like?
No. I love all aspects of writing. 
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Author Ian Primmer.

Have you ever had writer's block? If yes, how'd you deal with it? If you have not had writer's block, why do you think you haven't?

I have had writer’s block. Fortunately, it never lasts very long. I always have several book ideas floating on the Novelist app at all times. I have also found that in times of writers block. This is the best time to work on the book cover. Working on the cover snaps me out of any anger or frustration from the block, and motivates me back into my work and generally creates a new perspective or idea that snaps me right out of writer’s block. 

What do you have in mind for your next project?
My next project is entitled “Hang em’ High” – The modern punishment for an active shooter. I am deeply saddened and concerned about our current social situation. I am dedicated to writing ideas to assist in preventing active shooter situations. Nobody should have to suffer the wrath of an unstable human being firing high powered weapons at will in any situation or scenario. My next project is solely dedicated to the victims and families who have suffered due to these unspeakable acts of domestic terrorism. 

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your book?
Despite the trials and tribulations contained in this novella. It is honestly an interesting short read. It can be done in a few hours. Follow along as Cody, family, and friends make there way through life in this coming of age story. 

An Excerpt from “Hometown: The Puget Sound Kids of the 1990s,” Chapter 4: Officer Glenn:
The following morning was Memorial Day, and Cody's parents did not have to work, and Cody did not have to attend the school that day either. However, Cody was rudely awakened by the sound of pounding at the front door. Cody found it strange that his parents had not responded to the banging at the door. He quickly threw on some basketball shorts and a T-shirt and ran to the front door to see who was at the door. Before answering the door, he peered through the living room window to see who it was. All he could see was his stepfathers' brown 1980 Chevy Silverado parked along the street in front of the house in the early morning fog. Had he lost his keys? Cody wondered while he rubbed his eyes trying to quickly shake off the cobwebs from being awoken from a dead sleep. That can't be right Cody thought as he tried to reexamine the situation, he wouldn't have been able to drive home as the house key is on the key ring to his truck. Cody opened the door anticipating an angry stepfather to instead an angry police officer with a black eye. Cody immediately slammed the door in the cop's face yelling "just a minute officer." Cody rushed to the stairs and met his mother halfway down.  
"Who is it?" Doris asked Cody. 
"It's the police" Cody responded back.  
"What in the hell do they want at this hour?" She asked.  
"I don't know, is dad home?" Cody asked. 
 "Yes, he's upstairs, and nobody better wake him, you know how he gets, he got in late last night," Doris said.  
Doris walked towards the front door to speak with the police officer.  
"Go back to bed," she shouted at Cody. Yeah right, this ought to be good Cody thought to himself.  Doris stepped outside and shut the front door behind her. Cody tried to listen in from the living room but had a hard time trying to make out what was being said between his mother and the officer. Finally, Cody heard shouting "he took my god damn car" coming from who assumed to be the police officer.  
His mother then opened the front door and walked out to the garage.  
"Get your ass back to bed Cody, I'm not kidding young man," she ordered. She then opened and closed the door to the garage from the house behind her. Cody could hear the garage door open. He then ran to the living room to see if he could get a view of anything happening in the driveway from the living room window, but the outside of the garage blocked his view. Moments later, Cody saw the police officer leave in his patrol car, and his mother moved the truck and parked it back in the driveway.  
"I thought I told you to go back to bed," she screamed at Cody.  
"What happened?" he asked.  
"Apparently Ben and officer Glenn had an incident last night after your father left a bar in town and the two of them got their cars mixed up somehow, now get back to bed and don't wake your father" she replied. 
More Information
Buy the book on Amazon. 
Visit the author’s website. 
Like the author on Facebook. 

Friday, August 23, 2019

Dawn McLaughlin from Positively Publishing Kids


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Today we are interviewing Dawn McLaughlin about Positively Publishing Kids, a multicultural book publisher. 

Tell us a bit about POSITIVELY PUBLISHING KIDS.
PPK is a multicultural book publisher. We work with kids to create books. We write and they illustrate our stories. Our goal is to provide kids with financial opportunities through book sales and to help close the diversity gap in children's literature.

What inspired you to start a publishing company for kids who have a story to share?
Actually we have the stories, we look for kids to work with, creating illustrations for us. A few years ago, after over 20 years of trying to get my stories published I decided that I needed to find another way to make it happen.  At the time I was working in Newark, NJ at Big Brothers Big Sisters and had met so many amazing children and realized that there was no lack of talent or creativity, just outlets and opportunities. So I decided to create a publishing company working with kids to get our stories out there. Creating both creative and financial for kids, while helping to close the diversity gap.

You have a unique process for getting the author’s story out there. Tell us about the process of publishing a book, from the initial idea to the published book.
The story is given to the student. It is broken down in pages. The student then creates the illustration for each page. They are given creative freedom. It does take some time, going over the illustrations and tweaking them. From there the book goes to a graphic designer to get designed and then off to print.

Why do you think it is so important for kids to be able to express themselves creatively?
I believe kids have a lot to teach us, but I also believe that as humans we are meant to create. I think today children have limited opportunities to be creative and it is important that they have this as an outlet.

Publishing multicultural kids books is a big part of your publishing company. What made you decide to make diversity a cornerstone of the books you publish?
There is a big issue in children's literature when it comes to diversity. Even though the statistics have changed for the better the last few years, it is still not good. Only 1% of kids books have Native American representation, 5% Hispanic, 7% Asian Pacific, 10% African American, 27% animals and 50% white. I don't think that is an accurate view of the world. A lot of kids aren't seeing themselves in books. Why would they want to read or think books are for them if they can't see themselves? I also think that we shortchange the 50% that are represented because they are not given a fair view of the world. We are doing all of our children a disservice.

Tell us a bit about one of your latest book, “Who do you think I am?”
This is our first book, we are currently working on our second title. However, “Who do you think I am?” is about possibilities. Your child can be anything they want to be. It was illustrated by Hannah Rowe, who was a teenager at the time.
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For someone looking to buy one of the books, how do they go about purchasing a copy?
Right now they can head to our website, positivelypublishingkids.org.

Are you still accepting submissions for new work? How does a young author or illustrator submit his or her work?
Yes! We are looking for stories and artwork. Students can email us their work at dawnolson@positivelypublishingkids.org.

What are your goals for POSITIVELY PUBLISHING KIDS for the next ten years?
We would like to become a successful independent book publisher, creating diverse literature, guiding our illustrators and authors to success, financially and professionally.

How have your readers responded to the books so far?
So far, everyone that has purchased the book has really been happy with it. It is a really positive and uplifting book. You can check out some of the reviews on our website

What is the most challenging part of running POSITIVELY PUBLISHING KIDS?
Getting our name out there so that people can see what we are doing!

More Information
Check out the Positively Publishing website. 
Follow Positively Publishing on Facebook. 
Visit Positively Publishing on Instagram. 
Connect with Positively Publishing on Twitter. 

Alexandra Killworth, Author of A Shot in the Dark

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Today we are interviewing Alexandra Killworth, author of a coming-of-age / young adult novel, titled “A Shot in the Dark.”

Tell us a bit about yourself.
Alongside writing, I also enjoy freelance photography and I do my own art, both of which is also available on my Instagram. I'm one of the youngest authors in the UK and I write in a variety of genres, so there's something for everyone to enjoy.

Describe the plot of your new book in a few sentences.
Alison, a teenager recovering from depression after the loss of her father, finds her passion for photography with the help from her best friend and a mysterious man online. The two of them become closer, connecting over their passions and losses, but can two damaged souls find love over distance?

Who do you think would most appreciate this book?
I think teenagers and young adults, especially those with an interest in photography, would really appreciate this book. It features mature characters and relatable character development that people will really empathise with.

Tell us about the protagonist, Alison.
Alison used to be a very curious girl by nature, and very creative. Now, although she longs for that creative spark, she can be quite down. However, she still cares for her friends and family and is very relatable for teenagers who suffer from depression, since we watch her grow and mature through the story.

Alison suffers a tragic incident. How does this affect her perspective on life?
The tragic incident is what causes her to abandon her love of photography, which defined a lot of her personality as a young girl. It prevents her from exploring her hobbies and creativity, as many other young people will probably relate to.

Alison meets a young man online and emotions run high. What are her first impressions of this young man?
At first, Alison is quite awkward when talking to him. She starts off awkwardly polite and well mannered, finding his friendliness unrealistic or uncharacteristic for someone of her age group, and struggles to match his charismatic attitude.

Alison is a huge fan of photography. What does she like about photography? And why is it so important in her life?
Alison likes all photography, but what she loves the most is astrophotography, which is photography of the night sky, stars, planets, etc. She loves taking photos of the night sky because they are all completely unique and individual, no two skies are the same, and she feels at peace watching the stars at night. It's important to her because her father was also a  photographer, he was the one who introduced her to it.

What inspired you to write a novel in the coming-of-age / young adult genre? What are some of the challenges of writing in this genre?
It's my age (17) and previous relationships that have inspired me to write this particular story and genres. I feel that young adults and teens are looked down on, often being thought of as immature, so I wanted to challenge this with real character development. The challenges were keeping the characters' youthful attitudes while still putting across a story about mental health, trying to find the right balance.

Is there an author that had a major influence on your writing style?
My absolute favourite author, Marcus Sedgwick, has had a huge influence on my writing style. He inspires me to try and keep my writing descriptive but efficient at the same time, without spending pages of exposition or description, to keep it effective.

How long have you been writing?
I started my first book when I was 14, and it took me 2 years to finish, so I finally published it at 16. Even before that, I've been writing little stories here and there for years, since I was 8 at least.

Who was your favorite character to write?
My favourite character to write was the young man Alison meets online, Randall. I love his perky, friendly attitude, but also the reasoning behind his motivations and his personality. He's what I want to be.

How do you think you've evolved as a writer since when you first started?
I think I've become a lot more mature in my writing. My first book was quite dark, but since then I've incorporated a lot of real life problems into my writing will still keeping it imaginative, so I think my maturity has evolved a lot.

Are there any aspects (e.g. character building, world building) of your writing that you've been practicing?
World building is something I have been working hard on lately. Not for this book, but for my next two (fantasy and horror genres) because their worlds are so unique and the culture is different, it's something I want to definitely get right.

What are your goals as a writer for the next ten years?
Write at least 8 books (I've written 4 so far) and reach bestseller once. Possibly attend a literature festival as a speaker, too. That would be absolutely amazing.

How have your readers responded to the book so far?
So far, I've had a lot of support from teenage girls in schools where I live. They've said that they love the character development and representation of depression, while also enjoying the realistic relationships portrayed.

Is there any aspect of writing you don't like?
I don't particularly like the editing part. I've made a lot of obvious mistakes in the past due to avoiding editing so it's something I am working on.

Have you ever had writer's block? If yes, how'd you deal with it? If you have not had writer's block, why do you think you haven't?
I got a lot of writer's block during my first book, 'Immunity' and at the beginning of this one. For me, starting a book is always the most difficult stage, because there's just so much to write and so much to do. That's why I try to break it down into stages and small steps, and make goals like 'In the next two pages, this and this should have happened' so it's not so overwhelming.

What do you have in mind for your next project?
My next projects are two books I'm writing at the same time. One is a horror sea story and the other is a low medieval fantasy. I'm really looking forward to finishing these, I think they have a lot of potential.

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your book?
This book does feature realistic portrayals of mental illness, such as depression and PTSD. The descriptions aren't graphic, but it can be sensitive to some. It's not over dramatic, it's realistic and provides a lot of depth to my characters.

More Information
Buy the book on Amazon UK.
Buy the book on Amazon US.
Visit the author’s website. 
Follow the author on Twitter.
Like the author on Facebook.
Check out the author on Instagram.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Lance McNeill, MBA, MPAff, Author ofThe Resilient Entrepreneur: The Methods and Mindset to Help You Succeed on Your Entrepreneurial Journey

Lance McNeill, Entrepreneur, resilient, resilience, small business, the resilient entrepreneur, entrepreneurial journey, business book
Today we are interviewing Lance McNeill, MBA, MPAff about his business book “The Resilient Entrepreneur: The Methods and Mindset to Help You Succeed on Your Entrepreneurial Journey.”

Tell us a bit about yourself.
Born and raised a Texan, Lance McNeill wears many hats. An entrepreneur, a teacher, a coach, and a father; he is also a published author. There is no stop with Lance. Whether it was during his time in the Peace Corps in Namibia or teaching at Austin’s Community College he is constantly seeking new challenges, while trying to inspire new entrepreneurs. He holds dual master’s degrees in both business administration and public affairs. 

Lance currently works for the City of Austin’s Small Business Program. When he manages to find the time, he enjoys vacationing with his wife and daughter in the mountains or jamming out on the guitar. Lance’s passion for self-improvement is contagious, often inspiring those around him. 
Lance has written several books and continues to build his reputation with each new release. His latest book, the Resilient Entrepreneur is now available on Amazon and other retail sites. To find out more about Lance and his remarkable career you can follow him on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lancejmcneill/

Describe your book, “The Resilient Entrepreneur: The Methods and Mindset to Help You Succeed on Your Entrepreneurial Journey,” in a few sentences.
What factors help a burgeoning entrepreneur move forward and persevere through the hardships of the startup phase? Why do some entrepreneurs get stuck in the idea stage, while others are able to successfully implement their idea and grow their business? Why do serial entrepreneurs continue to start new businesses even after experiencing one failure after another? What helps existing small business owners weather the storms and bounce back from setbacks? These are some of the questions we explore in the Resilient Entrepreneur.
Resiliency, like entrepreneurship, is a learnable process. It is comprised of three main phases:

1. The adverse experience and absorption of its resulting effects
2. A period of rehabilitation and regeneration
3. Reflection on the meaning of the adversity and lessons learned

Looking at how people navigate these phases, we explore frameworks for better understanding entrepreneurial resilience in terms of emotional, cognitive, and social resources we need to persevere. The practical tools and methods outlined in this book equip new entrepreneurs with the knowledge and confidence they need to take the bold leap of becoming an entrepreneur.

Who do you think would most appreciate this book?
This book is written for the early stage entrepreneur and small business owner, regardless of industry. This book is designed to help them on the early and most turbulent stages of the startup journey. 

What inspired you to write a book to help new entrepreneurs move through the hardships of starting a company?
I’ve been teaching entrepreneurship at the local community college for a few years now and I noticed that my students had the same hesitations around making the leap from working 9 to 5 to becoming their own boss. They cited fear and anxiety about moving forward on an unknown path without support. I wanted this book to give them confidence that they can do it – many have before them and there are so many resources that will help them along the way.

What are some common mistakes new entrepreneurs make?
In my book I talk about a concept I call serial ideation. Plenty of aspiring entrepreneurs never get past the idea stage. When the entrepreneurial journey starts to get a little bumpy, they take the first exit ramp they see. Later they’ll come up with another idea that they will fall in and out of love with all over again. I call the aspiring entrepreneurs stuck in this loop, serial ideators. They’re the window shoppers of entrepreneurship. They adopt and abandon one idea after another without ever moving beyond the idea phase.

Entrepreneurship is hard and can be intimidating. The idea of entrepreneurship can be enticing, but starting a business is a huge investment of time, energy and resources, and the investment is a risky one. It’s estimated that at least 50 percent of all new businesses fail within five years of their inception.274 Other studies estimate that six years after discovering an entrepreneurial idea, approximately 66 percent of aspiring entrepreneurs either give up on entrepreneurship altogether or are still stuck spinning their wheels in the idea or startup stage.i; Kellogg School of Management Professor, Steven Rogers, says that the average entrepreneur fails about four times before succeeding.ii; If we measured entrepreneurial success using the traditional return on investment (ROI) calculation used by large corporations, 95 percent of all startups would fail to produce an acceptable financial return in a reasonable timeframe.iii 

What does that mean though – that their business failed?
A failure in business often means that you gave up and quit or you were unable or unwilling to learn and pivot in a new direction. In fact, not pivoting quickly enough away from a suboptimal decision (misaligned product-market fit, poor hiring, etc.) was cited as one of the top reasons why startups dissolve.iv 

Yet, despite the high failure rate, the path of entrepreneurship can be exciting and liberating, and for many, a journey worth pursuing. Entrepreneurs get the unique opportunity to blaze their own path – to write their story of self with a sense of control and ownership that few other professional endeavors allow. Despite the high failure rates, there are still millions of entrepreneurs who have found a path to success.

Resiliency is the main theme of your book. How difficult is resiliency to learn? What are some of the steps that new entrepreneurs must take to become more resilient?
Resilience is something we can learn and measure. We can become “conditioned to cope”. For example, let’s look at how helpful support networks and resources make us more resilient. Of all the research on resilience, the most consistent finding is the relationship between the number of high-quality relationships in our lives and our ability to overcome adversity.  

Immigrant communities are a great example, as they regularly access diaspora and familial networks to support one another’s entrepreneurial endeavors.12 Research conducted by Dr. Rocio Rosales, Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of California Irvine, highlights one such community in Los Angeles. Dr. Rosales estimates that there are more than 1,000 fruit vendors or fruteros operating in Los Angeles County - many of them self-employed immigrants. 

These fruteros often operate their businesses illegally because local permitting regulations and ordinances restrict their commerce due to concerns about health, public safety, and the right of way. Setting aside the various policy debates about immigration and local permitting regulations, what intrigued me most about these entrepreneurs is how they came together to overcome their shared challenges. Dr. Rosales refers to their coping mechanisms as survival strategies.

Ricardo is one of the fruteros she discusses in her study. When Ricardo’s fruit cart was seized by the local health department regulators, he borrowed $1,000 from his cousin to purchase a new one. This new cart was again seized about two weeks later, and again his cousin lent him the money to purchase a new one. When this cart too was eventually seized, the same cousin who lent Ricardo money twice, hired him as an employee in his own business. While working to pay off his debt, Ricardo moved in with his cousins to save on rent and other living expenses. The responsive support offered to Ricardo is typical of many immigrant communities. We can learn from Ricardo’s resilience by identifying our own support networks that we can call on during times of need.

What advice do you have for new entrepreneurs?
Your entrepreneurial journey will often begin with the recognition of a challenge or opportunity followed by an idea about how to solve it. The idea emerges in your mind and you begin to pursue an implementation plan. You initially set off on this quest alone – one person with a grand vision. 

The challenge is this journey is new to you and the outcome is unpredictable. That novelty and unpredictability, according to Dr. Sonia Lupien, Director of the Center for Studies on Human Stress, are two prominent drivers that can lead to toxic stress.  Higher levels of resiliency are required to cope with the stress of starting a new venture.

Entrepreneurs are more likely to be successful when they’ve built up resiliency to face the obstacles and adversity that comes with starting a business. It’s those entrepreneurs that are more quickly and frequently able to access supportive resources and implement the techniques laid out in this book that will be more resilient.

One of the strengths of your book is you break down entrepreneurial resilience in an easy-to-understand framework. Was it challenging to write about such a complex topic in an approachable, concise manner?
This is a really interesting question. When the idea for this book first started emerging, I saw some meaningful connections between resilience and entrepreneurship. It wasn’t until I dove deep into the research that I learned just how critical the concept of resilience is in business startups. The more I read and researched the topic of resilience, the easier it became to see those connections clearly and the roadmap for the book sort of emerged from there.

Are there any entrepreneurs who stand out as a good example of entrepreneurial resilience?
When we think about untiring, persistent entrepreneurs, who comes to mind? We might typically think of the all-stars of entrepreneurship: Elon Musk, Sara Blakely, Steve Jobs, Lori Greiner, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Sir Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos, etc. Yet, there are so many more and in my book I share anecdotes from these superstar entrepreneurs as well as inspiring stories from entrepreneurs who you’ve probably never heard of.

More Information

References
i. Reynolds, PD. Entrepreneurship in the United States: The Future is Now. New York. Springer. 2007.
ii. Maxwell, John. C; Wooden, John. Sometimes You Win - - Sometimes you Learn: Life’s Greatest Lessons Are Gained from Our Losses. Center Street. 1 Sep. 2015.
iii. Gage, Deborah. "The venture capital secret: 3 out of 4 start-ups fail." Wall Street Journal 20 (2012).
iv. CBInsights. Top 20 Reasons Why Startups Fail. https://www.cbinsights.com/reports/The-20-Reasons-Startups-Fail.pdf?utm_campaign=Report%20-%20Content%20Emails&utm_medium=email&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-_UAWhs4peZ1801pJOxPYX6MnCm0A7FO-jTZtpoVeMAY1za7xPTN1NzFFOIaJZ89K9ZNJWHj9xLZr-a__j3r8yNhYZgD9pOjOFplpFa6MgcZYDXCKc&_hsmi=24695183&utm_content=24695183&utm_source=hs_automation&hsCtaTracking=61ab122e-019b-4f59-8699-c9c960ead242%7Cfed300a8-9488-4239-92b3-bb641191e0d0

Dennis Torii Jr., Author of The Green Horse

dennis torii jr, the green horse, magic book, children’s fantasy, children’s fantasy horse, children’s horse book, children’s book author, writer interviews
Today we are interviewing Dennis Torii Jr. about his children’s fantasy / magic book titled “The Green Horse.”

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born in Chicago in 1966 from a family that was half blue blooded and half immigrant with my father being half Japanese. I tested at the college level at age six and attended some of the finest preparatory schools in the world (By age 10) while having the chance to live in places like France, Austria, Switzerland and Germany. By eighteen I was on a Special Weapons team (nuclear) in the field artillery in the U.S. Army on the border of East Germany at the height of the Cold War.  After the Army I attended college towards the end of going into the intelligence community where I ultimately began the process of attaining the patents for all configurations of monitored firearm storage (U.S. Patent nos. 5,416,472 and 5,598,151) ranging from monitored child-proof gun safes, weapon racks and holsters with GPS and data transmission which became the original Smart Holster project for the DOJ.

I worked at many professions while trying to market my patents and get monitored gun safes in the schools before Columbine happened and in the cockpits of jets before 9/11 only to be stymied due to politics and governmental ineptness in assisting a then young inventor trying to do what is right. I have worked in the restaurant business where I was once a MaĆ®tre D’ of Tavern on The Green in NYC, high end sales, Wall Street broker, Banker and now a federal officer with the TSA in the Department of Homeland Security in Orlando Florida.

Describe the plot of your new book, “The Green Horse,” in a few sentences.
The Green Horse is the story of a magical land where there exists magical horses of different colors with different powers that a young man named Nicholas uses to save a princesses life after solving the puzzle of what the power of the Green Horse was. The quest to save and hopefully marry Princess Gabriella leads Nicholas on an adventure that requires him to use his curiosity, ingenuity, bravery and speed to save the princess and the kingdom she would one day reign.

Who do you think would most appreciate this book?
I think ages 6 through 12 will most like the book but it will appeal to all ages as a family story that I am confident will become a classic family story with endless possibilities for marketing from toys to theme park additions.

Tell us about the main characters, Princess Gabriella and Nicholas.
Princess Gabriella is the sole child of the king and Queen in the kingdom and her parents wish to find a proper suitor to marry her.  Nicholas is a good, God fearing boy who worked on his family’s farm who studied hard. He lived according to the Golden Rule of treating people the way they wanted to be treated. He heard the royal family was seeking a young man to marry their daughter which would also make him king one day. He knew in his heart this was to be him.

The Green Horse has a mysterious power. Without giving too much away, what can you tell us about this horse?
The power of the Green Horse is a power which is restorative to that which it feels needs to be restored.

Tell us about the antagonist, the evil sorceress.
The evil sorceress Kashaptu seeks to overthrow the kingdom and sought harm the princess with a cursed spider. Her powers are great and mysterious.

The story is very imaginative and fantastical. Was it difficult capturing the whimsical nature of this story?
I think the whimsical nature of this story comes from the positive view in which I view the magic of life itself that I have tried to capture in this book with truly magical horses.
dennis torii jr, the green horse, magic book, children’s fantasy, children’s fantasy horse, children’s horse book, children’s book author, writer interviews
Author Dennis Torii Jr.

Where do you draw your writing inspiration from?
My inspiration comes from having a level of awareness that makes me see the world in all of its full beauty and the not so beautiful side as well. I simply love God and see that children are His greatest gift and the magic we can keep in this world for them is so important lest the Light of love for them and all that is good disappear.

Are there any authors who have influenced your writing style?
The author that inspired me most for this book which is now a trilogy would have to be C.S. Lewis who authored the Narnia Chronicles.

How long have you been writing?
I have been writing for about 4 years, but have written many essays, thesis, and much of my own patents.

Who was your favorite character to write?
My favorite character to write was Nicholas because he embodied what I believe I and my actual son Nicholas would be like in his circumstances.

How do you think you've evolved as a writer since when you first started?
As a writer, I am evolving rapidly having just completed The Green Horse Trilogy and am now writing a screenplay about a new order based upon the original U.S. Constitution that will be wrapped in a fact based sci-fi thriller. I want my works to have the purpose of ultimately saving the world when I am done.

Are there any aspects (e.g. character building, world building) of your writing that you've been practicing?
I have been working on character development and scenario creation for my next work The Omega Plan which is the screenplay I am currently working on. It is important the reader or audience get to know and in most cases care about the main characters. Also the world you are creating must be substantial to the degree that it transports the reader or viewer.

What are your goals as a writer for the next ten years?
My goals as a writer over the next ten years are to write screenplays and create films that change the world and or create pure magic for children.

How have your readers responded to the book so far?
I have not gotten many reviews yet as marketing is relatively new but those that have responded have said they enjoyed the book. This is going to be a classic without a doubt.

Is there any aspect of writing you don't like?
I am not the best at typing sadly but I am getting better, AGAIN. While typing is a hindrance (45wpm) I appreciate being able to slow the thought process down for review purposes.

Have you ever had writer's block? If yes, how'd you deal with it? If you have not had writer's block, why do you think you haven't?
Writer’s block happens when the story just is not there yet. It can be like going on a boat voyage without a destination. You have to have a general feel for the complete story and then it is fill in the blank and polish it up.

What do you have in mind for your next project?
My next project is the screenplay The Omega Plan which will serve as the template for the world as the true plans needed for a Global Republic of ten nations based upon the original Pre-Progressive Era (pre-1913) U.S. Constitution. The will be a New Order which will preserve life, love and freedom. Ten nations that stay out of our lives.

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your book?
The Green Horse is now followed by two sequels, the second book being The Fire Horse and the third book is The Four Horses of Ishtar.  The Green Horse Trilogy takes the reader on an adventure that spans from the magical land of Ishtar to present day in our world. Nicholas and the magic horses do what they must to save not only their world, but ours too.

More Information
Buy the book on Amazon.