Monday, March 12, 2018

Blog Tour: When a Stranger Comes by Karen S. Bell

WHEN A STRANGER COMES by Karen S. Bell, Thriller, 224 pp., $12.00 (Paperback) $2.99 (Kindle edition)

Author: Karen S. Bell
Publisher: KSB Press
Pages: 222
Genre: Thriller

Achieving what you crave can also bring the terrifying fear of losing it. For Alexa Wainwright, this truth has become her nightmare. Born Gladys Lipschitz, the daughter of an unwed Soviet-era Jewish immigrant, her debut novel, A Foregone Conclusion, soared to number one on the bestseller’s list and became an international sensation. The accompanying fame and riches were beyond her expectations. Unfortunately, her subsequent work has yet to achieve the same reception by critics and readers. Yes, they have sold well based on her name recognition, but she dreads the possibility of becoming a mid-list author forgotten and ignored. She vows to do whatever it takes to attain the heady ego-stroking success of her debut. But is she really?

Witnessing an out-of-the-blue lightning bolt whose giant tendrils spread over the blue sky and city streets below her loft window, Alexa doesn’t realize just how this vow will be tested as she’s magically transported to an alternate reality. In this universe, the characters from her books are given the breath of life and she meets publisher, King Blakemore, who just might be the Devil himself. At first, she shrugs off her doubts about this peculiar publisher and very lucrative book deal offer because the temptation of riches and refound fame is too strong. But all too soon, Alexa realizes she’s trapped in an underworld of evil from which she desperately wants to escape. For starters, she finds herself in an iron-clad book contract that changes its wording whenever she thinks of a loophole. Desperate to get her life back, she devises schemes to untether herself from this hellish existence. She’s also aided by the forces for good who attempt to help her. However, King Blakemore is cleverer and more powerful than she can begin to understand. Playfully, he decides to give Alexa a second chance to save herself from eternity with him and to be free. He offers her the prospect of a rewrite, as most authors do as part of the writing process. Given this chance, will Alexa make the same choices and the same mistakes again?

Alexa, as the MC, is relatable, likable, and vulnerable with a keen sense of humor. Her world is very small because writing is her life and so she is an easy target for entrapment. Her pact with the Devil is an allegory for the evil lurking in our midst. The social decay of modern society with its excessive greed, the ignorance of our political leaders, and our indifference toward the survival of all species from the effects of climate change, among other environmental pressures, are perhaps brought forth by the darkest forces of human nature.

When A Stranger Comes is available at Amazon.

Order Your Copy!

When she opened her eyes, it had taken Jodie a moment to realize she was lying on the living room floor. Automatically checking her wristwatch that now had a cracked plastic face, she saw that she had been unconscious for about 20 minutes. She was alone. That was good. There was blood all around her. That was not good. It had been difficult to get up and walk, but she needed to see the damage and tend to her wounds. Shuffling over to the front door, she engaged the deadbolt just in case he decided to come back. Usually, after one of these brutal fights, he stayed away for several hours getting so drunk that his rage turned into remorse.
            She turned on the bright florescent lights and looked in the bathroom mirror. What she saw was so shocking that she stared at her image in disbelief. Her left eye was swollen shut and the surrounding skin was dark purple. Her bruised and battered lips were swollen, cracked, and caked in blood. Two teeth were missing right in front giving her face the frightening hint of the homeless beggars she saw sleeping in the alleyways and picking through garbage. It hurt to keep her pummeled mouth open but her broken nose made breathing difficult. The metallic taste of blood oozing on her tongue and dripping down her throat made her gag. Her chafed skin, where his fists pounded on her chest and neck, was achy and throbbing. Gaping sores, almost to the bone on her arms and legs, were from where he kicked her with his heavy work boots after he knocked her down. Their exposure to the air or where they contacted her torn clothing stung as if touched by a hot poker. Ugly, chilling mementos of his snarling, wild-eyed mania as he bashed her again and again.
            With shaky hands, she turned on the water and noticed her swollen black and blue knuckles most likely from when she punched him hard in his face. She moistened a hand towel and carefully brought it to her eyes. The warm compress felt good and she stood like that for several minutes until a wave of nausea hit her. She grabbed for the sink feeling dizzy and broke out in a cold sweat. You fucking bastard, I hope I punctured your eye and scratched all the skin off your face! For a split second the horror of that fight gripped her again and she swallowed hard, her bloody saliva choking her. Trying to take deep breaths was excruciating, so she took quick shallow puffs of air in an effort to calm herself, but her heart was racing and pounding like a drumbeat in her chest. Focusing on her wounds, she tried to regain her composure as she gingerly washed the blood off her face and body but kept dropping the wet towel in the sink.
            And then the doorbell rang.
            She froze, as a spontaneous paralyzing fear shot through her. Quickly, she turned off the water silencing any noise. Maybe whoever was there would go away if they thought she wasn’t home. No one can see me like this. Then the banging started and for one frightening second she thought he had come back, angry that she bolted the door. “I know you’re in there.” It was Kerry, her next door neighbor. She hadn’t realized she was holding her breath until she started breathing again. “Are you okay?” Kerry yelled. “I almost called the police. Open the door and let me in. You might need to go to the hospital. Jodie? …Jodie?” Then she got annoyed. “Suit yourself.” And the yelling, banging, and doorbell ringing stopped.
            Waiting a few minutes until she thought it was safe, Jodie came out of the bathroom and sat on her bed. She looked at her packed suitcase, the empty threat that had started this most recent vicious confrontation. No more. Now she was certain. She had to leave. To get out of there. Right now. He used his fists on her…again. He had kicked her...hard. Next time he might kill her. Beaten to death. Another homicide in this godforsaken white trash part of town. Why am I so stupid? Why have I stayed with this guy? I thought we had something, a future. Said he was so sorry the last time. Said he loved me. Said he’d never hurt me again. Lying scumbag!
             She left without so much as a goodbye note. Why would he care anyway? The prick. But before she walked out, her wounds opening anew, her blood dripping on everything, and her hands trembling, she poured the remaining whiskey in the 2-liter bottle on the crappy sofa. Her rampage gaining momentum, she bashed the flat-screen-52-inch-TV with the empty bottle knocking it off its stand, causing it to crack in several places. Nearly passing out again, she managed to smash all five bottles of his precious booze on the cheap linoleum floor. Shattered glass flew everywhere making the whole room a minefield for bare feet. Good! I hope he comes home in the dark and walks on this in the morning.
            Her frenzy in full froth, she wobbled into the kitchen. Every dish crashed to the floor. Wine glasses. Crash. The pretty porcelain candlesticks they bought at the fair. Crash. Holding on to the kitchen counter to gain some strength before she grabbed her suitcase still on the bed, she found scissors in one of the drawers. Stumbling over to his closet and then his dresser, she cut up his shirts and pullovers, scissored the pant legs off his jeans, and clogged their bathroom toilet with his underwear. As an afterthought, she slashed the mattress, gouged the feathers from the comforter, cut the foam in the pillows into wedges. With a final relish, and gathering up all her remaining might and power, she slammed his laptop against the wall.
            Then she hobbled as fast as she could. Threw her suitcase out the door and onto the pavement, it being too awkward to carry in her condition while negotiating the few stairs. Luckily, her car was parked close. Easing herself into the driver’s seat, her lacerations making her wince, she stepped on the gas and left town, calming down only slightly when the trailer park was out of range of her rear view mirror. She did not speed. She did not want to get pulled over looking like someone’s punching bag. At least she could see okay out of her good eye. Driving carefully, she took the highway heading north. Anywhere but here. Any town but this. Another ending, another lonely drive to nowhere…and then a sliver of hope. Always that sliver of hope. A new beginning. A fresh start. I’ll figure things out. Be smarter. And finally get it right. Yeah, this time, I’ll get it right. Find a decent guy with a good job. Find a guy who doesn’t drink. Find the life I’ve always wanted.

When a Stranger Comes…is Ms. Bell’s third novel. Her debut, Walking with Elephants, was initially published by a small publisher who went out of business. Subsequently, she took over as an indie publisher. It went on to win the Awesome Indies Seal of Excellence and was a top-five finalist in the Kindle Book Review’s 2012 contest for the best indie books. Sunspots, her second novel, was awarded the Seal of Approval for good writing. She holds a Master of Science in Mass Communication and for 15 years, she was an editor/copyeditor for a “Big Four” public accounting firm. Ms. Bell was also technical editor for an accounting industry magazine.
Here are some reviews of her previous work published in the Florida Times Union:




Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Meet the Author: Jeffyne Telson, Author of Cat Tails: Heart-Warming Stories of Cats and Kittens of RESQCATS

Jeffyne Telson grew up in Dallas, Texas but has spent most of the last half of her life in California. Although she has Bachelor of Arts degree in graphic design from Texas Tech University, she has devoted the last two decades to the pursuit of her real life’s passion…caring for stray and abandoned cats and kittens.

In 1997, Jeffyne founded RESQCATS, Inc, as a non-profit organization dedicated to the rescue, care and adoption of stray and abandoned cats and kittens.

In the ensuing 20 years, with the help of a small group of dedicated volunteers, Jeffyne has grown RESQCATS well beyond her dreams, into a highly respected rescue organization that has placed more than 2700 cats and kittens with qualified families and individuals.

Today, in addition to being the President of RESQCATS, Jeffyne and her husband, Mitch, share their Santa Barbara, California home with 14 unadoptable cats, 9 collies and 15 giant African sulcata tortoises…all rescued of course!



Author: Jeffyne Telson
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 332
Genre: Animals/Cat Rescue

In 1997, Jeffyne Telson founded RESQCATS, Inc, as a non-profit organization dedicated to the rescue, care and adoption of stray and abandoned cats and kittens.
In the ensuing 20 years, with the help of a small group of dedicated volunteers, Jeffyne has grown RESQCATS well beyond her dreams, into a highly respected rescue organization that has placed more than 2800 cats and kittens with qualified families and individuals.

And now, she has written a book about her journey of creating a cat rescue, the challenges and opportunities she has faced, and most important of all, the valuable life lessons the cats and kittens have taught her.



What first inspired you to write or who inspired you?

I wrote articles for my RESQCATS, Inc. newsletter as a way to keep supporters informed and as an incentive to donate since RESQCATS is a 501c-3 non-profit organization. I included stories about some of the special cats and kittens that we saved and challenges we faced in saving them. They were called "Believe in Miracles" stories. My good friend was touched by the stories as she read the newsletters and encouraged me to write a book. For years, I resisted the idea as I am so busy running RESQCATS for nine months during kitten season. She continued to encourage me and finally, one day, I took her up on it!

Has writing always been a passion for you or did you discover it years later?

I discovered my passion for writing many years later, beginning with the articles I wrote for the RESQCATS newsletter. What I learned is that writing about my feelings of love, loss, the challenges of rescue and my passion for animals was a way for me to express my emotions in a safe, less vulnerable way by putting pen to paper. Writing became a healing avenue during loss. And it has been a way of raising the bar for people who care about animals. It has always been my personal mission to be the messenger for animals and hopefully inspire more compassion for them.

Do you have a day job?  What do you do?

I am the President and founder of RESQCATS, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to the rescue care and adoption of stray and abandoned cats and kittens. The organization was founded in 1997 and since then, over 2800 cats and kittens have been placed in qualified homes. I do not have a salary, nor is anyone paid...RESQCATS is all volunteer. My job is from dawn to dusk eight to nine months of the year during "kitten season." That left little time to write my book, that is why it took four years to complete!

Can you name three writing tips to pass on to aspiring authors?

Be honest
Write from your heart
Remember, "obstacles create opportunity!"

Do you let unimportant things get in the way of your writing?

I am very focused on my writing. Ideas and words come to me overnight. Every morning, I sit and watch the sun come up over a chai latte and those ideas become clearer in my head. Most often, clarity on exactly how I want to communicate something in writing comes to me when I am on the treadmill! So, no, when that inspiration comes, I write!

What hours do you write best?

Day light hours! I am NOT a night person!

How often do you write?

Several times a week. My writing is not just for newsletters or for the book. I use social media and websites to promote the adoption of the cats and kittens at RESQCATS. So being creative is almost a daily thing! I love writing about the cats and kittens to promote their adoption. It is my creative outlet during the busy days of running RESQCATS.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on the RESQCATS Spring 2018 newsletter and fundraising campaign for an injured kitten in our care.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Book Blast: Good Intentions Bad Consequences by Phillip Nelson - Win a $25 Gift Card

Title: Good Intentions Bad Consequences: Voters' Information Problems
Author: Phillip Nelson
Publisher: AuthorHouse 
Genre: Social Science/Sociology
Format: Ebook

A new approach to understanding voter choice with important implications. There is a substantial class of voters who would like to do “good” but ignore important consequences of their attempts to do so—naïve altruists. The book both shows why such a class exists and tests the implications of that group’s behavior in a setting where other voters are self-interested, others are traditionalists, and imitation plays a big role in voter choice. The book also looks at the policy implications of such behavior accepting as desirable, but not fully achievable, the democratic ideal in which sufficiently informed citizens are given equal weight in political choices. Naïve altruists ignore the anti-growth consequences of redistribution from the rich as a class to the poor as a class. That ignorance produces too much of that redistribution in terms of the democratic ideal.

Phillip Nelson has specialized in two fields. The first is information economics in which he has produced seminal work in consumer economics. The second is public choice in which he has written many articles and the book, “Signaling Goodness.” This book melds these two fields producing new insights about voter information problems. He has spent a lifetime teaching graduate courses in these specialties and microeconomics theory at Binghamton University, Columbia University, and the University of Chicago.



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  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Gift Certificate to the e-retailer of your choice
  • This giveaway begins February 19 and ends on March 2.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on March 3.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone! 


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Monday, February 26, 2018

Interview with Mary Lawlor: 'I loved words and knew I wanted to spend my life thinking about and playing with them' @marylawlor5

Mary Lawlor grew up in an Army family during the Cold War.  Her father was a decorated fighter pilot who fought in the Pacific during World War II, flew missions in Korea, and did two combat tours in Vietnam. His family followed him from base to base and country to country during his years of service. Every two or three years, Mary, her three sisters, and her mother packed up their household and moved. By the time she graduated from high school, she had attended fourteen different schools. These displacements, plus her father?s frequent absences and brief, dramatic returns, were part of the fabric of her childhood, as were the rituals of base life and the adventures of life abroad.

As Mary came of age, tensions between the patriotic, Catholic culture of her upbringing and the values of the sixties counterculture set family life on fire.  While attending the American College in Paris, she became involved in the famous student uprisings of May 1968.  Facing her father, then posted in Vietnam, across a deep political divide, she fought as he had taught her to for a way of life completely different from his and her mother’s.

Years of turbulence followed.  After working in Germany, Spain and Japan, Mary went on to graduate school at NYU, earned a Ph.D. and became a professor of literature and American Studies at Muhlenberg College.  She has published three books, Recalling the Wild (Rutgers UP, 2000), Public Native America (Rutgers UP, 2006), and most recently Fighter Pilot’s Daughter: Growing Up in the Sixties and the Cold War (Rowman and Littlefield, September 2013).

She and her husband spend part of each year on a small farm in the mountains of southern Spain.


At what age did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I knew I wanted to be a writer in first grade. One day during recess a Vietnamese girl came up and started talking to me,  as if she thought we should be friends. She told me she came from a different place in the world and that her family spoke a different language. My mind reeled. I was amazed at the thought of a language other than my own, a completely different set of words and ways of saying things. I asked her how to say “lipstick” in Vietnamese. “Son môi,” she said. Dazzled, I tried to say it myself. She laughed at my clumsy pronunciation but helped me get it right.

You might take from this that my inspiration was to be a translator but it was the magic of words themselves, designating something in particular that could also be designated in another language that the Vietnamese “lipstick” made so vivid.  It lit a fire in my brain. I loved words and knew I wanted to spend my life thinking about and playing with them.

Has writing always been a passion for you or did you discover it years later?

Since first grade, as I just recounted, writing has been a passion for me. I’ve always wanted to make up stories and spent a good deal of my girlhood fantasizing. Since my family moved a lot I often found myself among strangers and discovered early that I could make things up about myself. Nobody knew my background so I could exaggerate or even fabricate things. I could tell other kids my grandparents had a castle in Ireland, that I had a tiara, that we went to Paris in the summers. In reality my father was an Army pilot, and neither he nor my mother had inherited any family money. We could hardly afford such things as summers in Paris. I’m sure the other kids thought l I was pretty strange and probably full of baloney.

At some point I started writing stories instead. The interesting thing was they became more realistic. They weren’t as fantastical as the things I made up for other kids at school. Something about writing made me think the story had to be believable. Maybe it was the idea that written words were tracks, records left behind for anybody to check out later, whereas I must’ve thought spoken ones evaporated like I did when I moved.

I wrote during school, after school, during vacations into my early college years but only took a creative writing course quite late in the game. That course confirmed my desire and some ability, but I didn’t follow up until much later. I studied literature in graduate school, thinking this would help me write; but ended up becoming a professor instead. I produced a couple of academic books before writing Fighter Pilot’s Daughter. In the end, the years in literary studies prepared me well for creative writing but it took a long time to get there.  

Can you name three writing tips to pass on to aspiring authors?

Trust your inner ear—listen to it and take it seriously, even if you don’t know entirely what it’s saying.

Write every day, even if only for twenty minutes.

Keep your work to yourself until it’s really ready to be shown; and then show it only to those whose criticism you trust won’t be motivated by anything but care and thoughtfulness.

Do you let unimportant things get in the way of your writing?

Inevitably. Most of the time I at least try to resist them. Sometimes, if I see it as the sign of a need for a break, I’ll give in to the impulse to get up and do something else. At others, the anxieties of other demands are overwhelming. To ensure I get some stretch of time to keep writing through the day, I to away to a writing residency or find a retreat somewhere a couple of times each year.

What are you reading now?

I’m reading a long list of classics I haven’t read in ages (or in some cases ever). These include novels of Balzac, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Henry James, Virginia Woolf, Willa Cather, Thomas Mann, and others. These grand old story tellers are not remembered and taught all the time for nothing: they have a fantastic sense of plot and ability to shape unforgettable characters. They all have an amazing sense of the narrative power of history and its influence on peoples’ lives. And of course they have style, style, style. The old masters are endless writing teachers.

I’ve also been reading wonderful current fiction recently: Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See, Thomas Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge, Don DeLillo’s Zero K, Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend, Nell Zink’s The Wallcreeper

What are you currently working on?

I’ve just finished a novel called The Time Keeper’s Room which my agent is showing to publishers. It’s set in Spain and tells the story of a young woman whose mother is American and whose father is Spanish. She struggles with identity on several levels—personal, familial, national. Travel in Spain and Morocco, visionary experiences, and the love of her boyfriend helps her work through the most difficult of her dramas.

I’m also working on another novel titled The Stars Over Andalucia, also set in Spain, about an American woman who’s trying to find a place for herself in a small Andalusian town and figuring out what it means to be a foreigner: how to understand her differences from those around her, how to recognize when she’s accepted, where she never will belong, what the benefits, pitfalls, and ethics of foreignness are in the twenty-first century.

I live in Spain for half the year and have done so for quite some time. The experience of being a foreigner in a place I love and whose landscape enchants me has been a theme in my thinking and writing for some time. The Time Keeper’s Room and The Stars Over Andalucia both take up this idea and play it out in the lives of different American, English, and Spanish characters of different ages and backgrounds. 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Meet the Author: D.E. Haggerty, author of 'Searching for Gertrude' @dehaggerty

Dena (aka D.E.) grew-up reading everything she could get her grubby hands on from her mom's Harlequin romances to Nancy Drew to Little Women. When she wasn't flipping pages in a library book, she was penning horrendous poems, writing songs no one should ever sing, or drafting stories, which she is very thankful have been destroyed. College and a stint in the U.S. Army came along and robbed her of any free time to write or read, although on the odd occasion she did manage to sneak a book into her rucksack between rolled up socks, MRIs, t-shirts, and cold weather gear. After surviving the army experience, she went back to school and got her law degree. She jumped ship and joined the hubby in the Netherlands before the graduation ceremony could even begin. A few years into her legal career, she was exhausted, fed up, and just plain done. She quit her job and sat down to write a manuscript, which she promptly hid in the attic after returning to the law. But being a lawyer really wasn’t her thing, so she quit (again!) and went off to Germany to start a B&B. Turns out being a B&B owner wasn’t her thing either. She polished off that manuscript languishing in the attic before following the husband to Istanbul where she decided to give the whole writer-thing a go. But ten years was too many to stay away from her adopted home. She packed up again and moved back to the Netherlands (The Hague to be exact) where she's currently working on her next book. She hopes she'll always be working on another book.

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Author: D.E. Haggerty
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 250
Genre: Historical Romance


While growing up in Germany in the 1930s, Rudolf falls in love with the girl next door, Gertrude. He doesn’t care what religion Gertrude practices, but the Nazis do. When the first antisemitic laws are enacted by the Nazi government, Gertrude’s father loses his job at the local university. Unable to find employment in Germany, he accepts a position at Istanbul University and moves the family to Turkey. Rudolf, desperate to follow Gertrude, takes a position as a consulate worker in Istanbul with the very government which caused her exile. With Rudolf finally living in the same city as Gertrude, their reunion should be inevitable, but he can’t find her. During his search for Gertrude, he stumbles upon Rosalyn, an American Jew working as a nanny in the city. Upon hearing his heartbreaking story, she immediately agrees to help him search for his lost love. Willing to do anything in their search for Gertrude, they agree to work for a British intelligence officer who promises his assistance, but his demands endanger Rudolf and Rosalyn. As the danger increases and the search for Gertrude stretches on, Rudolf and Rosalyn grow close, but Rudolf gave his heart away long ago.  

How far would you go to find the woman you love?

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Has writing always been a passion for you or did you discover it years later?

From a young age, I was always writing something. I wrote my first novel while traveling on a yellow school bus to school in 6th grade. Over the years, the passion for writing has ebbed and flowed depending on what else was going on with my life. When I realized I wasn’t going to find a career I loved, I finally decided to give writing a go as a career instead of a hobby. I’m still here.

Do you let unimportant things get in the way of your writing?

Yes. *Blushes* This has been a huge issue for me this past year. I took on way too many commitments, and they all got in the way of my writing. I was not a fun person to be around. Fingers crossed, I can get myself sorted in 2018.

What hours do you write best?

Call me crazy, but I love to write in the early morning when it’s still dark out. I even have a string of Christmas lights around the fireplace I plug in all year round for ambiance. For some reason sitting behind my computer while the rest of the world sleeps gets my creative juices flowing.

How often do you write?

As often as I can manage. Writing every single day doesn’t work with my crazy schedule, but when I’m working on a new novel, I try to write at least four times a week. Try being the operative word here.

Are you an avid reader?

Replace avid with obsessed and you’ll get close to my level of reader. I read a few hours most days. On days I can’t read, I’m very, very grumpy.

What are you reading now?

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, Peter the Great: His Life and World by Robert K. Massie. Unless it’s a guilty read, I read several books at a time. I gobble up guilty reads and can’t stop until the last page is read. Bedtime is never a barrier when it comes to guilty reads.  Other editions
Enlarge cover

What are you currently working on?

I’m starting a new mystery series. The heroine is a 40-something whose husband left her. She discovers a mysterious object while cleaning out the house and decides to investigate. Hopefully, laughter will ensue at this point.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Book Blast: Malayan Enigma by Nicholas Snow - Win a $25 Gift Card

Title: Malayan Enigma: An Andrew Bond WWII Adventure
Author: Nicholas Snow
Publisher: AuthorHouse UK
Genre: Military/History
Format: Ebook

Malaya, 1941 – a fool’s haven from the devastating war raging elsewhere in the world Sent to Singapore towards the end of 1941 to evaluate the intentions of the Japanese Empire, Lieutenant Andrew Bond finds himself embroiled in a series of events accelerating towards all-out war in the region. The city, a heady, exotic blend of cultures teeming with intrigue, is oblivious to what lies ahead. Facing betrayal, incompetence, Japanese spies, and the Yakuza underworld, Bond manages to gather a band of trustworthy companions, including the striking beauty Liu-Yang. In a desperate race against time, he must force his way through enemy-infested jungles and seas to bring home a device that will help change the course of the war – the Malayan Enigma!

Nicholas Snow is the pen name of Nicholas C. Kyriazis, who holds a diploma and Ph.D. in economics from the University of Bonn, Germany. He has acted as visiting professor at Harvard and at the University of Trier. He has worked as a consultant to the Directorate General of Research of the European Parliament, to the National Bank of Greece, and to the Ministries of National Economy and of Defence, and has served as secretary general of Public Administration. Professor of economics at the University of Thessaly, he is a member of the board of Alpha Trust Investment Fund (listed on the Athens Stock Exchange), vice president of Ergoman Telecommunications, and vice president of the Kostas Kyriazis Foundation. He has contributed more than sixty papers to academic journals and has published eight books on economics, history, and strategy as well as a volume of poetry. Poems of his have been translated into English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Maltese. As a novelist, he has published eighteen books in Greece, several of which have been translated and published in English, including Themistocles (Kosbil Publications, 2004), The Shield (AuthorHouse, 2005), Assassins (AuthorHouse, 2007), and, in collaboration with Guy Féaux de la Croix, Last Love (Plato’s Last Love) (AuthorHouse, 2014).



Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Gift Certificate to the e-retailer of your choice
  • This giveaway begins February 19 and ends on March 2.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on March 3.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone! 


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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Meet the Author: Nadia Natali, Author of 'Stiarway to Paradise: Growing Up Gershwin'

Nadia Natali, author of the memoir, Stairway to Paradise: Growing Up Gershwin, published by Rare Bird, Los Angeles, 2015, and The Blue Heron Ranch Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from a Zen Retreat Center published by North Atlantic Books, Berkeley CA, 2008, is currently working on a second cookbook titled Zafu Kitchen Cookbook. 
Natali, a clinical psychotherapist and dance therapist, specializes in trauma release through somatic work. She earned a master’s degree from Hunter College in New York City in Dance/Movement Therapy and completed another masters degree in clinical psychology with an emphasis in somatic psychology at the Santa Barbara Graduate Institute. Nadia is a registered practitioner of Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy (RCST) and is also a certified Somatic Experiencing Practitioner (SEP) who trained with Peter Levine.
DanceMedicine Workshops is Natali’s creation where participants move through their trauma with dialogue and dance. She also offers the Ojai community, DanceMedicine Journeys. In addition to her private practice, Nadia and her husband offer Zen Retreats at their center.
Born into a famous family that was riddled with dysfunction, Nadia Natali made the choice to turn her life inside out and step away from fame and fortune. Against her parents’ consent she married an artist and moved to the remote wilderness in California. It was there that she found grounding as she and her husband raised and homeschooled their three children and opened a retreat center. As she gathered her own momentum, she enrolled in a doctorate program finally becoming a clinical psychotherapist specializing in psychosomatic work. She and her husband live in Ojai California.



About the Book:
Growing up as Frankie Gershwin's daughter, the sister of George and Ira Gershwin, was quite a challenge. I didn't have the perspective to realize that so much unhappiness in a family was out of the ordinary. But I knew something was off. My mother was often depressed and my father was
tyrannical and scary, one never knew when he would blow up. I learned early on that I had to be the cheery one, the one to fix the problems. Both sides of my family were famous; the Gershwin side and my father who invented color film. But even though there was more than enough recognition, money and parties I understood that wasn't what made people happy.
As a young adult adrift and depressed I broke from that unsatisfactory life by marrying Enrico Natali, a photographer, deeply immersed in his own questions about life. We moved into the wilderness away from what we considered as the dysfunction of society. That’s when we discovered that life had other kinds of challenges: flood, fire, rattlesnakes, mountain lions and bears. We lived in a teepee for more than four years while building a house. Curiously my mother never commented on my life choice. She must have realized on some level that her own life was less than satisfactory.
Enrico had developed a serious meditation practice that had become a kind of ground for him. As for me I danced. Understanding the somatic, the inner body experience, became my way to shift the inner story.
We raised and homeschooled our three children. I taught them to read, Enrico taught them math. The kids ran free, happy, always engaged, making things, and discovering. We were so sure we were doing the right thing. However, we didn't have a clue how they would make the transition to the so-called ‘real world’. The children thrived until they became teenagers. They then wanted out. Everything fell apart for them and for Enrico and me. Our lives were turned upside down, our paradise lost. There was tragedy: our son lost his life while attempting to cross our river during a fierce storm. Later I was further challenged by advanced breast cancer.
It was during these times that I delved deeply into the somatic recesses of myself. I began to find my own voice, a long learning process. I emerged with a profound trust in my own authority. It became clear that everyone has to find his or her way through layers of inauthenticity, where a deep knowing can develop. And I came to see that is the best anyone can offer to the world.
Enrico and I still live in the wilds of the Lost Padres National Forest, a paradise with many steps going up and down, a life I would not change.


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-Can you tell us what your book is about?
One may believe genius, fame, and wealth bring happiness. That was not my experience. My mother, sister of George and Ira Gershwin, and my father who invented color film were the primary models in my childhood. Growing up with such talent as I did, I learned early on that it distorts values. That was my first lesson. I turned my life around when I met Enrico who was to become my husband and partner in life. We moved out to the wilderness and met with many obstacles while raising a family. We turned all the apparent false values of the social system inside out and then had to face the consequences.
During those years I discovered my own truth, a journey that took me inward to body sensation, an inner experience, rather than looking to authority or others for answers. Perhaps most importantly was how I found my boundaries, my authenticity and my voice, which led me to find meaning in my life and a meaningful way to help others.
-Why did you write your book?
It was an urge that had no direct path. I just knew I had a story to tell and hoped others would find it valuable. In a sense it wrote itself.
-What kind of message is your book trying to tell your readers?
I believe that my message might inspire and inform readers how to shift from turning to others for answers to finding one’s own truth within.
Learning that you are the utmost authority on being human was huge for me. And finding out thinking is not reality was at the bottom of it all. I had to turn inward, to the inner experience, to feel when I looked for an answer. I prefer to hear from people’s experience rather than to read a how to book and I hope my journey will provide such a context to others.
-Who influenced you to write your book?
A good friend who teaches writing at UCLA said to me, “You have such an interesting story to tell you ought to write a memoir”. Her suggestion confirmed an impulse I had been holding, which was to write how being part of such a famous and wealthy family was completely at odds with my finding a wholesome life and then the challenging journey I took to find it.
I joined my friend’s weekly writing group and found it daunting as I listened to the other professional writers read their pages. After months of feeling painfully inadequate I stopped participating and wrote the rest of the book at home. Luckily my friend was very encouraging and without all those listeners I realized I was better off working on my own.
-Is it hard to publish a nonfiction book?
I first self-published my memoir and sent it out to other publishers.
I found someone who would do PR for me at a given cost. Since they were also a publishing company and liked my book, I asked if they would publish mine if I paid for the printing. It has been a mixed experience.
-Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?
There were times I felt an uncomfortable sensation in my belly as I wrote challenging parts of my story. I believe my belly was telling me that what I was writing was either not genuine or off center. My desire to be authentic pushed me to rewrite whatever was necessary to go to a deeper level that allowed both authenticity and integrity. Sometimes the sensation was there and I had no idea why but I had to rewrite until it disappeared.
-What would you do with an extra hour today if you could do anything you wanted?
I would bake something.
-Which holiday is your favorite and why?
I like Thanksgiving because I love to cook and love good food.
-If we were to meet for lunch to talk books, where would we go?
I would go to a really good but quiet Japanese restaurant
-What do you like to do for fun?
I enjoy cooking and writing my cookbook. I love technology and am on the computer a lot reading the news as a break from my writing.
I also love my animals, three German Shepherds, four cats and lots of chickens.
They all roam freely on our property out in the national forest.
-Can you tell us about your family?
My family of origin was full of genius and trouble and I tried to create a new paradigm with my current family, one of wholesomeness and integrity.
The life my husband and I created in the wilderness felt like an antidote to society and its apparent pitfalls. We home schooled the kids and ran into serious trouble when they entered their teenage years. My world turned upside down. We lost one of our three children in an accident. I have spent my life trying to find my own voice and have written about it in my memoir.
-What do you like the most about being an author?
I like having to be authentic and real and that challenge is equally a part of my life.
-What kind of advice would you give other non-fiction authors?
It took many years to write, Stairway to Paradise: Growing Up Gershwin. In some way I felt I had a hand at my back that pushed me through the whole process. It was very hard work but for me there was little or no resistance. You really need to want to do it; if there is any doubt I imagine the process could be agonizing.