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Why We Need to Challenge the Pronatalist Offspring Assumption by Laura Carroll

Why We Need to Challenge the Pronatalist “Offspring Assumption”

By Laura Carroll

On June 22-24, 2012, the Rio+20 Conference occurred in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Government delegates from all over the world talked about findings from an analysis done by a group of international scientists that deserve all of our attention. The scientists report that the Earth is in a “critical transition,” and reaching a “tipping point” when it comes to irreversible destruction of the global environment.

What are the problems that are bringing the mounting pressure on the Earth’s environmental health? “Unchecked population growth, the disappearance of critical plant and animal species, the over-exploitation of energy resources, and the rapidly warming climate.”

And if it continues the way it’s been going, according to the lead scientist Anthony Barnosky,  the Earth could reach this tipping point at a “time scale of a century or even a few decades.”

As David Perlman writes in the San Francisco Chronicle article, “Close to the Tipping Point of Warming, ” the problems include:

- “Rapid growth in the world’s human population – to 9 billion by 2050 and possibly 27 billion by the end of the century – is quickly consuming available resources.”

-Fossil fuels are being burned at a “rapidly increasing rate.”

-Vast”dead zones” in the ocean (where there are no fish) are growing.

-Loss of biodiversity on land – “40% of Earths land mass was once biodiverse, and now, it “contains far fewer species of crop plants and domestic animals.”

-Loss of animal and plant species – we are seeing more extinctions than ever before.

-The impacts of the rising global temperature – in the next 60 years, it will be “higher than it has been since humans evolved.”

To slow or reverse the critical transition we are in, the scientists urge “international cooperation to slow population growth, curb dependence on fossil fuels, increase the efficiency of food production, and manage both lands and oceans as reservoirs of biodiversity.”

What do we need more of at an individual level?  When it comes to decisions to bring more children into the world, as David Paxson, President of World Population Balance, insightfully puts it, we have to come to terms with the fact that we are now in a time where “a person’s biological right to have children must be mediated by his or her social responsibility not to have too many.”

As the Offspring Assumption chapter discusses in The Baby Matrix, given the population and environmental realities we face, it is time to challenge pronatalism’s assumption that we all have the right to have as many biological children as we want.  We need to shift from a mindset that adulates the birth if another child, to one that hold couples who choose to adopt, or have one or no biological child in the highest regard. Why? Because they are doing their part to mitigate the catastrophic impact of a rapidly growing population on resource decline, rather than what they might personally want first.

The Baby Matrix also address why we need to do some serious rethinking about the supposed problems with having only one child and negative myths about adopting, and how policies need to change so that rather than encouraging births, they provide incentive to reduce biological births.

It’s time to shift away from pronatalist offspring assumptions that harm our society and natural environment. Each person’s existence has an environmental impact, which affects other humans and other species. We’ve reached a time, even the tipping point, to where it is up to all of us to choose reproductive action that lessens that impact.

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Laura Carroll is the author of The Baby Matrix: Why Freeing Our Minds From Outmoded Thinking About Parenthood & Reproduction will Create a Better World, Families of Two: Interviews With Happily Married Couples Without Children by Choice, and Finding Fulfillment From the Inside Out.

In addition to writing nonfiction books, she has worked over the last 15 years as a business and litigation psychology consultant and used her expertise in behavioral sciences, psychology, and communications to advise business, legal, and nonprofit professionals on their communications strategies and goals.

Laura is a seasoned leader of personal and professional development seminars, and has appeared on a variety of television shows, including Good Morning America and The Early Show. She has been a guest on many radio talk shows to discuss social science topics.

You’ll also find her online at her nonfiction book site, LiveTrue Books, and her top blog, La Vie Childfree.

To get your copy of The Baby Matrix by Laura Carroll at Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Baby-Matrix-Parenthood-Reproduction/dp/0615642993/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1339007434&sr=8-2

Pick up your ebook copy at Barnes & Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-baby-matrix-laura-carroll/1110625478

To get your e-copy of The Baby Matrix by Laura Carroll for your Kindle:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Baby-Matrix-Reproduction-ebook/dp/B0081HSF3S/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1339007434&sr=8-1

To learn more about Laura, go to her website: http://lauracarroll.com/

Visit Laura Carroll on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/LauraCarroll88

Like Laura Carroll on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TheBabyMatrix

Find out all about The Baby Matrix at Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13641241-the-baby-matrix

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THE BABY MATRIX: Interview with Laura Carroll on Parenthood, Reproduction and New Book

Laura Carroll is the author of The Baby Matrix: Why Freeing Our Minds From Outmoded Thinking About Parenthood & Reproduction will Create a Better World, Families of Two: Interviews With Happily Married Couples Without Children by Choice, and Finding Fulfillment From the Inside Out.

In addition to writing nonfiction books, she has worked over the last 15 years as a business and litigation psychology consultant and used her expertise in behavioral sciences, psychology, and communications to advise business, legal, and nonprofit professionals on their communications strategies and goals.

Laura is a seasoned leader of personal and professional development seminars, and has appeared on a variety of television shows, including Good Morning America and The Early Show. She has been a guest on many radio talk shows to discuss social science topics.

You’ll also find her online at her nonfiction book site, LiveTrue Books, and her top blog, La Vie Childfree.

To get your copy of The Baby Matrix by Laura Carroll at Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Baby-Matrix-Parenthood-Reproduction/dp/0615642993/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1339007434&sr=8-2

Pick up your ebook copy at Barnes & Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-baby-matrix-laura-carroll/1110625478

To get your e-copy of The Baby Matrix by Laura Carroll for your Kindle:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Baby-Matrix-Reproduction-ebook/dp/B0081HSF3S/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1339007434&sr=8-1

To learn more about Laura, go to her website: http://lauracarroll.com/

Visit Laura Carroll on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/LauraCarroll88

Like Laura Carroll on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TheBabyMatrix

Find out all about The Baby Matrix at Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13641241-the-baby-matrix

___________________________________________________

Q: Thank you for this interview, Laura. Can you tell us what your latest book, The Baby Matrix is all about?

The Baby Matrix looks at long-held beliefs about parenthood and reproduction, and unravels why we believe what we believe. It boils down to a set of beliefs that has influenced society for generations called “pronatalism.” So many of the beliefs that make up pronatalism have become so embedded we think they are “true,” yet are not, and negatively affect us, individually and collectively. The Baby Matrix lays out what is true, and explains why society can no longer afford to leave pronatalism unquestioned.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for your book?

My previous book, Families of Two: Interviews With Happily Married Couples Without Children by Choice, received international attention and paved the way for me to become an expert on the childfree choice.  After its publication, I wanted to delve deeper and get to the core of why society finds this choice hard to fully accept. My research led me down a path to not only talk to many more childfree, but to parents, those who want to be parents but are not by circumstance, and the child “less,” — those who want children but do not have them.

The path got even more interesting when it led me to “pronatalism” and to the surprising fact that most people remain unaware of it. Realizing this along with seeing how much pronatalism does a disservice to society fueled the fire to write this book!

Q: What kind of research did you do before and during the writing of your book?

I dug into lots of books and many research studies, and talked to subject matter experts. Sometimes the research turned into interesting detective work. For example, in researching the historical origins of pronatalism, I found books that were over 30 years old. I tried to find the authors, and after quite the hunt, found some authors, but learned others had passed away. This was not a dead end however; like with any book, there is magic that happens along the way. For those I did not find, I found others who ended up taking me in the direction my research needed to go.

Q: If a reader can come away from reading your book with one valuable message, what would that be?

Question what you have been taught to believe about having children! Understanding, questioning and letting go of pronatalist beliefs will make for better parenthood decisions, not just for ourselves, but for our loved ones, society and our world.

Q: Can you give us a short excerpt?

This excerpt is from the Introduction:

“It’s time to take another hard look at pronatalism. Many people have begun to question its tenets, and rightly so. They are waking up to the fact that this set of implicit assumptions furthers the agendas of power structures such as the church, state, and industry—not individuals. They are questioning how they’ve been unconsciously influenced to accept beliefs that ultimately serve others’ agendas, and how this negatively impacts not just themselves but people from all walks of life. Pronatalist assumptions dictate how we’re supposed to follow the “normal path” to adulthood. They also put unwarranted pressure on us to have biological children (and the “right” number of them), fail to foster a society in which those who are best suited to become parents are the ones who have children, and do a disservice to children who are already here in need of loving homes. The assumptions also result in inequitable workplace and tax policies that favor parents over people with no children. And they work against leaving future generations a better world.

It’s time for all of us to understand why we can no longer afford to leave pronatalist assumptions unquestioned and why now is the time to transition to a “post” pronatal society.

Q: In your own experience, is it hard to get a nonfiction book published today?  How did you do it?

Getting a book published in the traditional way remains very competitive. However, more than ever, authors can get great work out there without having to solely rely on the traditional publishing route.  With the digital book world the way that it is today, I decided to self-publish The Baby Matrix. I worked with excellent freelance editors, an interior design and cover artist to develop the book. And I’ve had the help of great digital and other media publicity experts for savvy promotion.

Q: What’s a typical day like for you?

I greet the day with dark roasted coffee, and get news from a variety of sources. I work on website management and book promotion for most of the morning. At mid-day, I do some sort of physical activity–a walk, yoga, aerobics or resistance training. I always devote a good part of the afternoon to the current book I am working on. In the evenings, I love to cook!

Q: What’s next for you?

I am definitely percolating on my next book, but am primarily focusing on getting The Baby Matrix message out there right now. I will say the next book will be nonfiction as always, be about my quest for the answer to a question I am passionate about, and include something I love to do in developing my books-interview lots of people!

Thank you so much for this interview, Laura.  We wish you much success!

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A Conversation with NeonSeon, author of “Life of Shouty: Food and Fitness”

About NeonSeon

Creating Shouty Mack as a comic strip for a high school newspaper, NeonSeon developed Life of Shouty as a book series for children in 2010. NeonSeon grew up in Chicago’s Hyde Park community and currently resides in Atlanta. Honors include a Mom’s Choice Award for Life of Shouty: Good Habits.

For more information, visit www.SHOUTY.com.

The Interview

What is your favorite quality about yourself?

My ability to relate to others and see life through multiple perspectives.

What is your least favorite quality about yourself?

I can be too critical of myself.

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

“What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” attributed to Robert H. Schuller. I love this quote because it frees me to think about a wide-open future.

What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life?

I’m most proud of my ability to learn new things and acquire new skills year after year.

How has your upbringing influenced your writing?

My home was filled with positive and motivational books, and these themes are found in the Life of Shouty Series. My upbringing was also very creative, and without that, I probably wouldn’t have volunteered to be the cartoonist for the high school newspaper, and thus create the comic strip Shouty Mack.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

Certain books gave me so much joy that it was natural to want to elicit that in others through writing. I read Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities” in eighth grade and it blew me away.

When and why did you begin writing?

I wrote short stories for fun when I was younger, and I had several writing internships in college. I was an English major so I was always writing papers. I have always enjoyed writing.

How long have you been writing?

The Life of Shouty Series came out in 2010, but I’ve been writing since I was able.

When did you first know you could be a writer?

I’ve always known I could be a writer.

What inspires you to write and why?

The human condition inspires me, and the journey of growth. Laughter. Play.

What genre are you most comfortable writing?

Non-fiction comes easiest but rhyming is fun.

What inspired you to write your first book?

My character, Shouty. I knew I had to write and develop a series for him. He is relatable, lovable and imperfect.

Who or what influenced your writing once you began?

I like to let the story unfold so I would say it’s more of a stream of consciousness process guided by rhyme. “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron helped to get me out creative blocks, as well.

Who or what influenced your writing over the years?

What has helped me the most over the years is looking at other people’s edits or suggestions of my work. For that moment, I get to see how their brains work and in so doing, it expands the possibilities I see in the act and process of writing.

What made you want to be a writer?

I didn’t necessarily want to be a writer or set out to be one. I just wanted to tell a story and bring a character to life, and writing was the medium I chose.

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

Getting over your own doubts to realize the project and developing a good arc for the story.

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

I’ve struggled with making healthy choices most of my life and writing Life of Shouty: Food & Fitness taught me you can still contribute something of value in an area you’ve yet to conquer.

About Life of Shouty: Food and Fitness

Life of Shouty Food and FitnessShouty returns with a new challenge: his health. The second book in the Life of Shouty™ series by award-winning author and illustrator NeonSeon shows Shouty’s ups and downs on the path to wellness.

Like many of us, Shouty places a premium on being a productive person, and crossing items off his daily to-do list. While healthy food and fitness don’t make his list of priorities, Shouty is unaware of the impact this has on his declining health. Over time, Shouty becomes painfully aware that he must make lifestyle changes to improve his health, quality of life, and self-esteem.

Touching on themes of overeating, obesity, and inactivity, Shouty’s journey is illustrated in a way that captures his despair, as well as his ultimate triumph.

Debuting on Child Health Day, it is NeonSeon’s hope that this book affirms the importance of making healthy choices in one’s life and helps readers envision healthier versions of themselves. If you’ve ever found yourself on either end of the health spectrum, or are making your way somewhere in the middle, Shouty hits several notes on his path that will surely sound familiar.

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Interview with Fantasy Author David Brown

About David Brown

David BrownDavid Brown was born in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, and first conceived the idea of the Elencheran Chronicles at college in 1999. He spent ten years compiling the history of Elenchera, resulting in 47,000+ years of events, 500+ maps, 2000+ pages, several short stories and many much-needed acquaintances with Jack Daniels.

David also has a blog, The World According to Dave (http://blog.elenchera.com), which features reviews, stories and dramatic tales of the horrors of owning cats.

David now lives in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, with his wife, Donna, and their six cats.

Fezariu’s Epiphany is his first novel. David is currently working on his second.

Q: Thank you for this interview, David. Can you tell us what your latest book, Fezariu’s Epiphany, is all about?

The novel follows the character of Fezariu who suffers a disruptive childhood after being abandoned by his mother. He longs to escape from his past and turns to the Merelax Mercenaries – a prestigious force of hired hands. Fezariu becomes a success but the past refuses to let go and he has to face it once and for all.

Q: Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

Fezariu is the central character, a gifted mercenary but very withdrawn following the events of his past. He maintains contact with his childhood friend, Alycea, who works in a bakery and remains his only link to the past. In the mercenaries Fezariu has friends in his teacher, General Bayard, as well as three fellow recruits – Tessera, Vintaro and Arshea. Each character has a significant part to play in Fezariu’s journey, giving him the strength and belief to overcome his fear of the past and move on with his life. Finally, there is Fezariu’s mother, Jessamine, who abandons him when he is just a boy but continues to haunt him into adulthood.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

They largely come from my imagination but certain traits of people I have known sometimes creep in. Vintaro’s jovial nature and love of drinking could be attributed to many people I know. General Bayard’s selective hearing is based on a former work colleague.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

The main aspects of the plot are generally in place before I start writing but once I have begun I may find that the characters make changes and seem to decide for themselves how they want to get from A to B! Those are the best moments for me when writing. You almost don’t have to think as the characters take charge and you become a passenger, writing what they tell you to.

Q: Your book is set in Elenchera. Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?

Elenchera is the fictitious world where all my novels will be set. Fezariu’s Epiphany begins in a city called Clarendon in Odrica but moves to neighbouring Merelax Island where the mercenaries are trained before heading overseas to the colonies of Emeraldon and Himordia where dangerous fighting takes place. I wanted to give the reader a good taste of Elenchera and I feel that the novel does that.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

The colonies are spoken of frequently in the early stages of the novel and they are the ultimate dream for every Merelax mercenary, full of potential riches and rewards. While Fezariu is training his mind is focused on the assignments out in the colonies but back home the city of Clarendon holds the key to his turbulent past and it is there that Fezariu must return to be free of the ghosts from his childhood.

Q: Open the book to page 69. What is happening?

Fezariu’s mother has abandoned him, leaving him with his stepfather and childhood friend, Alycea. The three people left behind are struggling to pick up the pieces following the departure of Jessamine. This is where Fezariu’s childhood begins to damage him severely.

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

From Chapter 20:

From the stern of the flagship, Fezariu observed the mercenaries in the ocean closing on the harbour and immediately sheathed his sword.
‘Over the side,’ he said to the nearby mercenaries.
‘What do you mean over the side?’ Vintaro asked, incredulous. ‘They’re abandoning the city. There’s nothing we can do about it.’
‘We still have an assignment here and I am not going to let the cowardice of these merchants prevent me from fulfilling my duties. These ships won’t survive the night but we will if we abandon them now.’
‘I’m with you, Fezariu,’ Tessera said, securing her bow over her shoulder.
Together, Fezariu and Tessera leapt from the stern of the flagship and began swimming towards Redemption leaving behind a gathering of indecisive mercenaries.
‘He must be mad,’ Vintaro growled, before a projectile flew narrowly past the flagship and struck another merchant vessel, causing irreparable damage and a mass exodus of mercenaries into the ocean. Vintaro grimaced and looked back at the fading forms of Fezariu and Tessera before puffing his cheeks. ‘Madness has never seemed more appealing.’ With that, Vintaro secured his axe by his side and abandoned the flagship as well.
Arshea watched Vintaro initially struggle in the cold water before finding his rhythm and swimming quickly away from the flagship. To his left another of the merchant ships was struck by the valkayans’ projectiles and immediately capsized in the face of the mortal wound inflicted upon its hull.
‘This may be foolish,’ Arshea said, looking up at the fiery skies and thinking of Melea, ‘but I love you too much to see our story ended on this night.’
Arshea leapt from the stern into the ocean, descending briefly beneath the surface of the water before re-emerging to the sound of a heavy splash in the water. Another projectile had struck the ocean, almost hitting Mattias’ ship. Arshea whispered Melea’s name, promising he would give everything in Redemption for their future but would return alive.
Now only the flagship still stood though its sails had been torn by projectiles that had narrowly missed their target. The missiles continued to hit the ocean close to the ship, drawing ever nearer with every attempt from the meticulous valkayan rebels. On the stern the bulk of the mercenaries remained in a hopeless cycle of indecision. The farther away Redemption became the less inclined they felt about committing themselves to the dark and uninviting waters below.
On the prow Mattias had been desperately trying to regain control of his ship and steer her back towards Redemption but he was now sitting on the far side of the deck with his hands bound. He beseeched his crew to at least take the vessel away from its straight course but they saw no value in listening to the pleading words of one who would have sailed them into the cesspit of their own doom.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, David. We wish you much success!

Thank you for having me. I’ve really enjoyed the questions and hope that your readers have enjoyed learning more about Fezariu’s Epiphany.

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Interview with Daisy Jordan – Author of Love Means Zero

Daisy Jordan is an obsessive tennis fan and wrote this book so she could live out her dream-job fantasy through Hilton. Before deciding to write a book about the tennis tour, she wrote six other books, including Everything Happens for a Reason…, the Spin the Bottle series, and All That Sparkles Isn’t Real Sapphire. Even before that, she grew up in Indiana watching tennis all summer every summer on TV, and even attended a few pro tournaments. She now lives in Denver and religiously fills out brackets for every Grand Slam with her brother Josh.

You can visit her website at DaisyJordan.com

Q: Thank you for this interview, Daisy. Can you tell us what your latest book, Love Means Zero, is all about?

A: Love Means Zero is about Hilton, a recent college grad with a dead-end job at a portrait studio, unexpectedly landing a freelance role with Game Set Match magazine, which she refers to as “the Us Weekly of tennis.” Hilton has always dreamed of traveling the world and taking gorgeous photographs, and suddenly, she is doing just that. It’s about the best life she can imagine—partying with the players and their famous girlfriends, seeing fantastic tennis every day, and jetting off to a new place every week. But for her boyfriend Luke, it’s about the worst life he can imagine. He’s stuck at home in Indiana finishing law school, and the more Hilton’s gone, the less she seems to miss him. As he closes off from her and harbors a relationship-changing secret, Hilton, a happy-go-lucky believer in love and fate, laughs off her feelings for one of the world’s top-ranked tennis players as nothing more than a celebrity crush. But then, in one intense, heart-wrenching, thrilling, and thought-provoking moment, Hilton’s world turns upside down as she starts to see that love may not be as powerful or fate-determining as she thought.

Q:  Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

A: Hilton is easygoing, free-spirited, and in love with life. She believes everything happens for a reason, but she also believes in going out and making things happen for herself. She is head-over-heels in love with her boyfriend Luke, whom she’s been with for almost six years. She is intuitive, thoughtful, confident, and spontaneous, and her friends mean everything to her. However, she also knows she sometimes has to put herself first, even if it could mean hurting someone else.

Luke is tall, good-looking, and laid-back. The most important people in his life are Hilton and his other two roommates, Jill and Todd. He is 100% happy with his current life—living with them while he finishes law school. After that, he imagines marrying Hilton and basically continuing with their life as it is—fun-filled times with great friends.

Jill has been Hilton’s best friend since ninth grade and is the only person to whom Hilton can truly tell everything. She is wildly in love with her boyfriend Todd, who has long been the guy of her dreams. Jill has experienced a lot of tumultuous rollercoasters in her life, and in the past, Hilton was usually the one with the awesome relationship, while Jill was usually single and struggling with guy issues. In this book, their roles begin to reverse.

Tanner grew up in Aspen, Colorado, moved to Vero Beach, Florida to play tennis when he was fourteen, and now is ranked No. 3 in the world. He quickly became a fan favorite on the tennis tour because of his funny and gracious personality…and his killer looks. He is part boy next door, part New York City partier. He is genuinely interested in people, he supports animal charities, and he loves to go out and do crazy things in the spotlight—both on and off the court. Tanner always has fun with whatever he does, and his magnetic energy draws in everyone around him.

Haidin is tennis’ most notorious bad boy. Ranked No. 5 in the world, his press conferences have to air on tape delays because of his penchant for profanity and outrageously offensive comments. He dates model/actress Aubrey Gage, and their scandal-filled relationship garners him as much, if not more, media attention—and backlash—as does his complete lack of sportsmanship in tennis. There’s a reason he acts like he does, but it’s one nobody would ever guess.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

A: My characters are almost completely from my imagination. I do occasionally give them traits of real people I know, which I usually do to make my friends and family laugh. For example, in Everything Happens for a Reason…, which is about Hilton, Luke, Jill, and Todd in college, I made one of their guy friends a really terrible dancer. I knew this would make all my college friends laugh, because it would remind them of one of our guy friends who was a really bad dancer. Hilton being a somewhat obsessive tennis fan is based on me, to an extent, although Hilton, being an actual tennis player, has a way better excuse to be an obsessive fan than I do. My friends and family think I’m slightly crazy, so they all kind of shook their heads and laughed when I told them Hilton was getting a job traveling with the tennis tour in my new book. For the most part though, my characters are unique, and one of the most fun parts of writing is developing them and getting to know them.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

A: I am usually consciously aware of one or two big things that will happen over the course of the book, but I never make an outline or plan things in detail ahead of time. I just start writing and let the ideas flow. They always do, and sometimes those big things I had in mind before I started writing don’t even happen, or they happen differently from how I originally pictured. I would call my style of writing “go with the flow.” I let things happen naturally, I let the characters react to what happens, and the plot then takes a more realistic path.

Q: Your book is set all over the world.  Can you tell us why you chose this format for the setting?

A: I find travel invigorating, and I also know it can change the way people think and feel, especially when they travel for long periods of time. Hilton has always wanted to travel, and once she gets a taste of that life, nothing else is enough for her. She is dissatisfied and uninspired back at home in Indiana. When she travels, she takes something from each place she goes, whether it be a feeling, a memory, or a new way of looking at some aspect of life. Eventually, this does change the way she feels about her relationship with Luke, and about love in general, which never would have happened had she stayed in Indiana her whole life. I also use the different settings to invoke a thrill in readers. I absolutely love to travel, and reading about faraway places always makes me want to jump on a plane. I think a lot of people feel this way, and Hilton’s lifestyle, along with each section of the book taking place in a different location, adds excitement to the story.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

A: It absolutely does, in a couple of different ways. As Hilton travels and Luke sits at home growing more and more miserable, they begin to drift apart, and both of their views on the relationship—which at the beginning of the book was rock-solid—change. This probably never would have happened had they both stayed home and continued life as they had always known it. There is also one particular setting in the book, New York City, that plays a major part in the development of the story. Hilton spends much of her time there between tournaments, and she comes to see it as her “home away from home.” She names it as her favorite city in the world, and there comes a point when she is more comfortable there than she is in Indiana. There are also a couple times when something major happens, or doesn’t happen, because of Hilton being in New York.

Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

A: Hilton is in Paris on her first assignment for Game Set Match. One of her jobs is to sit in the hotel lobby at night, follow tennis players when they go out, and try to get scandalous pictures of them. She has seen all the big-name players cross through the lobby at least once during her first week there…except for Tanner Bruin. She is almost positive he isn’t staying in the hotel, and she wonders if he has a secret girlfriend. She sees him as a mystery and is intrigued by him, because he’s also her favorite player. Later that night, she talks to Luke on the phone and describes being in Paris with Game Set Match as “going from zero to sixty in like, two seconds.”

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

A: I’ll give you one of the best ones that doesn’t give away anything big, but hints at several key aspects of the story that you’ll see when you read the book! This excerpt happens on Middle Sunday of Wimbledon, and it takes on greater significance later in the story, in more than one way.

The four of them went to a dark, crowded, noisy pub right across the street from their hotel. When they walked in, they had to walk down a set of steep, creaky stairs into the main room, and Hilton liked it, because down here below ground it was warm and cozy and they were secluded from the rainy gloom outside. It was horribly smoky, but Hilton figured she could deal with it for one day. The atmosphere was festive; all over people were talking and laughing loudly while they downed pint after pint.

“Oh my gosh!” a girl behind the bar shrieked when they approached. “Oh my gosh. You’re Tanner Bruin. And you’re Bryony Adams. Oh my gosh! I read about you guys in Game Set Match. Hold on, I’ll clear a table for you right away.”

Tanner smiled his easy, sexy smile. “It’s okay, we’ll wait.”

The girl couldn’t take her eyes off him. “Oh my gosh.”

“What do you guys want?” Tanner asked, turning to Bryony, Hilton, and Luke. “First round’s on me. For Luke’s birthday.”

“Thanks, man,” Luke said. “What’s a good English beer? I feel like trying something new.”

“What would you recommend?” Tanner asked the girl.

“Ummm…” She was star-struck and could hardly seem to think. “How about Bass? It’s one of our best pale ales. It’s probably our most popular. I think you’ll like it.” The last comment was directed toward Luke, but Hilton laughed to herself as the girl’s eyes immediately darted back to Tanner. She only wanted to impress Luke because he was part of Tanner’s party.

“Oh no, we don’t want pale ale,” Tanner said. “Give us something dark. Something with some bite. You pick something. I’ll trust you. Whatever you think is best.” He grinned at the girl again. Bryony looked at Hilton, and they laughed.

“Okay! You want that in pints?”

“Sure.” Something about the way he said it was so sure, so confident yet warm. Hilton felt little tingles all over. Everything he did was such a turn-on. And he always looked so good too; he was wearing dark jeans with a blazer again, like in Paris, but this time he wore the blazer over a fairly tight-fitting Aerosmith T-shirt, and he wore black Adidas shoes with white stripes. Hilton loved the mix of casual and classy. Bryony was wearing dark skinny jeans and a long slinky purple shirt with a low V-neck that clung to her body and showed off how thin she was. Hilton was wearing jeans and a dark green lingerie-like top with thin spaghetti straps under a tight long-sleeved black shirt with a V-neck that went down almost to her stomach and showed off a lot of the shirt underneath. Luke had on jeans and a lightweight black long-sleeved shirt from The Buckle. It was tight and showed off his toned-but-not-too-huge upper body. Hilton thought he looked delicious too.

“Okay!” The girl scurried off a few feet and was back merely seconds later with their drinks.

Tanner pulled out a wad of cash.

“Oh, no, it’s on the house.” The girl beamed at him.

“Oh, well thank you.” Tanner slid a fifty-pound note across the counter, then picked up a pint and handed it to Bryony.

“That was like a hundred dollars!” Hilton hissed in amazement. “Wow. It’s her lucky day.” She laughed.

“Was it?” Tanner shrugged. “I don’t really know the conversions. I go so many places I can never remember the ones like here, that have their own currency. I’ve got the euro pretty down, but I can never remember pounds.”

“Must be nice not to have it matter,” Luke laughed.

“Hey, I see a table!” Bryony pointed, and they all rushed over.

They ordered food and talked for a few hours. Tanner and Luke asked each other lots of questions about where they’d grown up and what they liked to do, and Hilton loved how well they got along. She learned a lot about Tanner too; she’d known for a long time just from watching his matches on TV and listening to the commentators that he’d been born in Aspen, Colorado and had moved to Vero Beach, Florida with his family when he was fourteen to train, but now she was learning all the details. He said he missed Aspen like crazy; he hadn’t been skiing in three years because he never had time. He’d grown up skiing every winter, all winter long, and had looked forward to being on the alpine ski team in high school. Even though he was modest, Hilton got the idea he’d been pretty awesome at it. But he had been doing really well in some regional tennis tournaments, and when he’d realized he had the chance to make it big in that, he’d decided to go for it. He said someday he wouldn’t mind moving back to Aspen though; his family had moved back when he’d joined the pro tour. He told all kinds of stories about growing up there; his dad had worked at a ski resort so his family had always had free unlimited ski passes, and Tanner had started skiing when he was three. He’d snowboarded too, but he said that was more just for fun; he hadn’t ever planned to be competitive with it. He’d started playing tennis when he was three too, at the courts at the resort, and that was what he’d done all summer when he wasn’t skiing. He told about how when he was sixteen and back in Aspen for Christmas, he’d asked out a girl he’d liked back in middle school and taken her skiing, and she’d broken her leg on the first time down the slope. She’d lived in Aspen her whole life but hadn’t ever been skiing; her dad had forbidden her from it because his brother had died in a skiing accident. So Tanner had thought it would be romantic and bad-boy-like and adventurous to take her, and then after she’d broken her leg, her dad had told her she could never talk to Tanner again, but Tanner had only been in Aspen for another week after that anyway.

The four of them were practically rolling with laughter by the time he finished, and Hilton could tell Bryony was hearing all this for the first time too. After all, she’d only known Tanner since April. Hilton had tears streaming down her face. She loved the image of Tanner as a teenager, really liking this girl and trying to be reckless to impress her…it was totally hot and just reinforced her image of his personality.

He told them other stories about Aspen too, like how it wasn’t out of the ordinary at all to walk into the grocery store and see a celebrity—tons of them owned homes in Aspen and the neighboring Snowmass Village—and how a lot of people who worked in Aspen and Snowmass couldn’t even afford to live there and had to live in neighboring, less ritzy towns. As he talked…about the Aspen Music Festival every summer, the Winter X Games, how he and his friends would ski anytime they possibly had the chance…she could hear the love for Aspen in his voice. She felt a bond with him; she, Luke, and Bryony were hearing him talk about stuff not a lot of people ever got to learn.

“Do you ever wish you wouldn’t have left?” Hilton asked.

Tanner looked thoughtful. “I don’t think so. But I think about how it would’ve been different, where I’d be in life right now.” He smiled. “Maybe I would’ve made it big in skiing and gone to the Olympics and Bry would’ve seen me on TV anyway.” He flashed his gorgeous smile in Bryony’s direction, and she laughed and shoved into him with her shoulder.

“Probably, but I might not’ve been able to tell he was hot, if he was all bundled up in ski stuff,” she said, and they smiled easily at each other.

Hilton laughed, but she felt a little twinge of jealousy. She shook it off, knowing she was being ridiculous.

“No,” Tanner said, turning back to Hilton, “I really do think about it sometimes…what it would’ve been like. I think I would’ve had a blast going to high school there and stuff, and then who knows, maybe I would’ve played tennis in college and ended up going pro anyway. But I think part of me would’ve felt like I missed a chance, like I was too scared to take it.”

Hilton nodded thoughtfully. “Yeah, I can see that.”

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Daisy.  We wish you much success!

A: Thank you! I loved doing this interview, and I appreciate you giving me the opportunity!

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Christmas Memories: A Texas Christmas by Beverly Stowe McClure

Holiday Memories is a month long series of heartwarming holiday stories from authors all over the world.  We at As the Pages Turn hope you will enjoy and have a happy holiday full of good and happy memories!


A Texas Christmas
by Beverly Stowe McClure

On December 22, 2005, my husband had a heart attack and complications. We celebrated that Christmas in the hospital. He didn’t hear the carolers as they strolled down the hallway singing Christmas songs. He didn’t see the visitors who came to call. He wasn’t even aware it was Christmas.

The next year, we made Christmas special. Except for one daughter-in-law who was ill and was missed very much, our whole family came to share in a Texas Christmas. We had a houseful, including our eldest son, Rex, from South Carolina. (His wife, Kristina, had to stay home.) Our middle son, Scott, and Ann, his stepdaughters Briana and Kylie, live next door which is wonderful. And our youngest son, Kelly, wife Amy, and children Shawn, Scottie, and Katie drove from California. Rex’s daughters, Amanda, Courtney, and Felicity, along with their mother, Anna, were here. Amanda is married, so she brought her hubby, Paul, and children, Riley, Paige, and Henry. And of course, there was Jack and me. As you can see we had a houseful. Best of all, Jack was alive and well.

The younger grandkids decorated the Christmas tree. It was unique, the bottom half overloaded with ceramic mice, icicles, candy canes, keepsake decorations my students gave to me throughout the years I taught, and my own sons’ creations. The top half was sort of bare, except for what the older girls and I added since we were the only ones who could reach that high. The angel on the top added the finishing touch. All of us being together made it perfect, and I have a video for the memories.

Since everyone was together for the first and possibly only time since everyone lived so far apart, we decided to have a family photo taken. Finding a photographer that was working during the holidays was almost impossible. I did finally locate a sweet lady who was intrigued about doing a photo shoot for such a large family, something she’d never done before. Her photographs on the Internet were gorgeous, so we made the appointment. Even with a wiggly baby, a boy who hates having his picture taken, and a sick boy, the photographer did a marvelous job. The photos now hang on my wall as a reminder of that lovely Christmas when we shared the joy of the birth of Christ Jesus and our good health.

To me, family and Jesus are what Christmas is all about.

Beverly S. McClure started her writing career early—though she approached it kicking and screaming—when her eighth-grade teacher sent her poem “Stars” to a high school anthology and it was published in Young America Sings. She graduated from Midwestern State University and became a teacher. As soon as she discovered Dr. Seuss and other great children’s stories, she willingly put pen to paper and had stories and articles published in Ladybug, Focus on the Family Clubhouse Jr., U. S. Kids, Jack and Jill and other leading children’s magazines, including an article that was reprinted in a Scott Foresman Pre-K anthology and a breakout article that appeared in the June 2007 issue of Writer magazine.

A multi-published author, Beverly’s Listen to the Ghost, Secrets I Have Kept and Rebel in Blue Jeans are available in trade paperback. Her latest book is Just Breeze, and she has four more books under contract. A member of the National Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and their North Texas Chapter, Beverly is the mother of three grown boys and lives in the country with her husband, Jack, where an occasional deer, skunk, or armadillo come to visit.

Visit Beverly at http://beverlystowemcclure.wordpress.com

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Mailman, where are you?

the-obama-revolution1What an exciting day! I’m telling you, if you told me I couldn’t do something, I’d at least try, especially when the passion takes over, but I received an email from the author of this book right over here to the left. Yes! I know you can’t believe it, either! Now, if Obama sends me a note, I believe I will have done everything in this life and don’t need to do anymore.

Putting political persuasion aside, no matter who you voted for, Obama is our President and he’s going to be a very good President. Trust me on this one.

But look, I’ve got to tell you about my note from the author of The Obama Revolution. I had emailed him through a form on his website, or was it Facebook? I’m not sure, anyway, the message got through to him and look what he left in my email box!

Hi Dorothy,

Thank you so much for your kind email! I am excited that you will be reading and reviewing The Obama Revolution. I have been extremely impressed by Phoenix Books and the professional manner in which they turned this book around in record time. Like you, Barack Obama’s campaign kindled a fire in me that continues to burn. The book gives the first in-the-trenches look at a campaign that made history not only by the excitement it generated but also by the participation it garnered from Americans everywhere. I hope that you will have the opportunity to get a copy soon and let me know your thoughts!

Best,
Alan

Is this guy the bomb or what? I am so thrilled to be reviewing this book. Mailman, where are you???

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