Tag Archives: Guest Blogger

Special Guest: The Three Bears of Publishing by Kevin Bohacz

44We have a wonderful guest today.  Kevin Bohacz, author of Immortality, is here to discuss publishing – his way.  Enjoy!


 

My first novel, Dream Dancers was conventionally published in 1993 in a deal closed by the agent I had at that time. In 2003 when Immortality was finally completed I assumed I would be able to get it published since I was already a published author. I soon found myself waist deep in rejection notices from both agents and publishers. All the rejection notices basically said, “We are sure this is a wonderful book but we don’t have the time to read a long manuscript by an obscure author.” In other words, I wasn’t able to even get into the Three Bear’s house, let alone try the porridge or sleep in Immortality 7their beds.

I knew Immortality was a timely, entertaining, and marketable novel. Some extremely successful literary professionals including more than one famous writer had read it and told me they loved it. So here I was a published author unable to open a single door into the major publishing houses. Three years later I had reached the point where I either had to give up or publish it myself. Back in 2006 self-publishing carried the stigma of failure but I had no choice. I knew in my gut Immortality was a fantastic story. So I started a small publishing company, hired an offset-printer, and proceeded to manufacture and sell Immortality.

In 2007 Immortality took off becoming a #1 bestseller on Amazon. Using my bestseller success as bait, I was able to sign with an agent who had represented a smattering of NYTime’s bestsellers. My agent proceeded to shop Immortality to all the big publishing houses. My wife, Mazelle and I were deliriously thrilled. This time the responses from publishers were very different from when Immortality was unpublished and I was un-agented. Across the board the feedback was surprisingly similar, “We love the book but who are you?” What the publishers were really saying was I had no massive following. I did not have a million readers chanting in unison, “We want to buy more books by you…” In other words, the porridge was too cold.

Fast forward to 2010, Immortality was still selling almost as well as it was in 2008, constantly a bestseller in its genre and often hitting #1. In fact 2010 and half of 2011 was one of my best grossing periods ever. By now my agent had done all he could and given up six months prior in 2009. He loved Immortality and was very frustrated and baffled by his inability to close a deal. It was then that I was contacted out of nowhere by a veteran NYC agent who was a senior member in a super-agent firm. This agent told me they had read Immortality and loved it! This agent was convinced they could sell the book. Mazelle and I were wildly excited and told the agent to go for it. This new agent got the book read by a different group of more senior editors. This time the responses really threw me. The feedback I got was essentially, “We love the book but why should we buy it when you have already sold the heck out of it?” In other words, the porridge was too hot.

At this point I felt like I just could not win. Years ago I didn’t have a big enough following, and now that I had a following, it seemed the publishers wanted something more. They wanted an unpublished book. I explained that 95% of the copies of Immortality had been sold on Amazon, which meant that I had tapped less than 50% of the potential market for a book in this genre. So while it was a #1 bestseller, a lion’s share of the meat was still on this bone yet no publisher was interested in the feast. With fractional market penetration I had made a pile of money but there was many times more to be made if a big publisher would get behind the book. Yet it now felt like with regard to attracting a publisher, success was my worst enemy.

Today, three years later I now have a new amazing NYC agent from a top firm, Inkwell Management. This agent has closed deals for other indie authors in exactly the same “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” predicament as me. In the last six months I have received glowing critical reviews, including Publisher’s Weekly who has awarded STARRED reviews to both Immortality and Ghost of the Gods. Both Immortality and Ghost of the Gods are on the bestseller’s lists at the same time. Immortality hit #1 again achieving it’s best ranking ever and Ghost of the Gods was crowned by Amazon as the #1 hottest new techno-thriller. Later this year my fourth novel titled Dream Signs will be complete and a fifth novel is in the works. There is even interest from Hollywood in making Immortality into a movie. I have every confidence that this time we’ll succeed by getting a publishing deal for all three books. In other words, I am hoping the porridge is just right.

About the Author:

Kevin Bohacz 8Kevin Bohacz is the bestselling novelist of Immortality and a prolific lucid dreamer! He is also a writer for national computer magazines, founder and president of two high technology corporations, a scientist and engineer for over 35 years, and the inventor of an advanced electric car system – the ESE Engine System. He was also a short order cook for I-Hop, flipped burgers at McDonalds, and delivered Chicken Delight. All of those careers and more are behind him now that he is a full time storyteller, a catcher of dreams… and he want’s to thank you for reading his stories which has made all this possible.

Visit his website at http://www.kbohacz.com/.

Amazon Link to Book:

http://www.amazon.com/Immortality-Kevin-Bohacz/dp/0979181518

http://www.amazon.com/Ghost-Gods-Kevin-Bohacz/dp/0979181534

 

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Special Guest: The Call That Had To Be Made by Cary Smith

44The Call That Had To Be Made

By Cary Smith, author of Four Corners, Or a Book That Will Tickle Your Intellectual Nipple

I struggled and struggled to find any interest in my work and to make that first sale. I think the title drew people away, “…Tickle Your Intellectual Nipple,” doesn’t seem to sit Four Cornerswell with people in this day and age. Then I thought, “My writing is probably not that good.” Then I went to the next thought, which was, “Why did I write a book? Why didn’t I just write a TV show or a movie?” Then I went to the final struggling thought that, “Maybe I’m insane. Maybe the idea makes sense in my head, and makes sense as I write and re-read it myself, but to anyone else, it makes no sense, because I’m insane.” Then I struggled even more with why there was no interest, why there were no sales. I turned to Facebook, but all that got me were some thumbs up and likes on a screen…no actual sales. I had a radio interview with a guy who kept saying, “You’re listening to the world famous so and so,” every two minutes, and his only question was, “Describe your book some more,” so I knew it wasn’t going to go well and no sales would follow.

So I struggled and struggled for my first sale, until I finally made a call that had to be made. It was a call that was completely necessary. I needed to make that first sale. I called my mom and told her I had written a book and I was going to publish it…and most importantly, I left out the fact that I had not made a single sale. Thirty minutes later after the call to my mom I had made my first sale.

About the Author

Cary SmithCary Smith, the nom de plume of Greg Hawkins, lives in San Jose, CA. He became interested in books and writing because of a teacher. His favorite book is “Hocus Pocus,” by Kurt Vonnegut or “100 Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. He is currently either going to finish his collection of short stories next or turn one of his short stories into a novel, which would be a new take on the ghost genre.

His latest book is Four Corners, Or a Book That Will Tickle Your Intellectual Nipple.

Visit him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/tickleintellectual.

 

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Special Guest: The Story Behind Directory of Federal Prisons by Christopher Zoukis

44The Story Behind Directory of Federal Prisons

By Christopher Zoukis

There are few aspects of life that we hold so dear than the nearly instantaneous contact we have with our friends and loved ones. Mothers like to know that they can call their daughters on their cell phones to ensure that they are on their way home from school. Fathers like to call their sons to find out what parking lot to pick them up at when at the mall. And friends constantly text, instant message, and email about everything imaginable. This is the world we live in, and it has changed drastically with the technological revolution.

Directory of Federal PrisonsNow, imagine that your husband had a heart attack, your daughter was in a car crash, or it was Christmas night and you just wanted to speak with one of your kids. Imagine that you went to pick up the phone, but there was no number to call. Better yet, there was no phone to call. This is the exact situation millions of Americans find themselves in. Sadly, it’s not only the case when emergencies present themselves, it’s every single day for days, months, years, and decades on end.

The family members and friends of federal prisoners confined within the Federal Bureau of Prisons are a silent yet growing population in the United States. As of December 2013, there were almost 218,000 federal prisoners housed across the United States in 189 federal facilities and 15 private prisons. None of these federal prison inmates have access to a cell phone. None can accept calls, they must place them at terminals in their housing units. And none of them have access to regular email, instead they must use a restricted and scaled down service — Corrlinks.com and the BOP’s Trust Fund Limited Inmate Computer System (TRULINCS) — to send messages back and forth. Their use of these communications can be prohibitively expensive, at a cost more than many make from their institutional work assignments each month.

With so many roadblocks to electronic communication, families and friends of federal prisoners must use traditional correspondence: they must write letters if they want to communicate. Even that method of communications has changed. Contacting an inmate may require using the exact mailing address, something which must be adhered to or letters will not be delivered to those incarcerated within the Federal Bureau of Prisons. While those in prison do have families and friends, it can often feel as though they are isolated from them; alone on an island of violence and hatred.

The Directory of Federal Prisons: PrisonLawBlog.com’s Federal Bureau of Prisons Facility Directory (Middle Street Publishing, 2014) was designed to connect families and friends with their incarcerated loved ones. It was also designed to provide attorneys, journalists, and members of the general public with basic character information about every federal prison and private prison which houses federal prison inmates. The Directory of Federal Prisons profiles every prison which houses federal prisoners. It informs readers of the prison’s name, gender of prisoners incarcerated therein, security level, federal judicial district, population, and if the prison has an adjacent satellite prison camp. But this is not all, the Directory of Federal Prisons also provides the official contact information for every federal prison — including the street address, phone number, fax number, and email address — and also the exact inmate correspondence address which is required to send mail to any federal prison inmate.

While observers have repeatedly noted that prison regulations concerning postal mail correspondence are absolute and atrociously rigid, few have stepped up to the plate to alleviate this problem. The Federal Bureau of Prisons certainly hasn’t produced a guide to help family members, friends, attorneys, journalists, and others contact federal prisoners. Neither have many others who have a vested interest in connecting prisoners with their families, friends, and attorneys. But we — the staff of http://www.prisonlawblog.com — have because we feel strongly that contact with a loved one is not a privilege, but a right. This is an ideal that we’re willing to put our blood, sweat, and tears into.

As Americans, it’s important that we stand up for the rights of our fellow citizens who can’t advocate for themselves. One such politically disadvantaged and seemingly powerless population are those housed within the Federal Bureau of Prisons. While the Directory of Federal Prisons won’t solve the current prison overcrowding crisis, it will help connect families, friends, attorneys, and the outside world to those incarcerated in federal prisons. And this is a laudable step in the right direction.

The Directory of Federal Prisons: PrisonLawBlog.com’s Federal Bureau of Prisons Facility Directory is the book for everyone who wishes to communicate with those incarcerated for a federal crime. At the touch of a button it enables families and friends of federal prisoners to locate their friend’s or loved one’s mailing address and the street address of the prison so that visitation planning is so much easier. For attorneys, it provides the official contact information so that scheduling legal visits or legal phone calls is a breeze. And for journalists, it provides basic character information about every prison within the Federal Bureau of Prisons and every private prison which houses federal prison inmates.

If you know anyone incarcerated within the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the Directory of Federal Prisons is a must have. It will alleviate so much stress and worry. But most importantly, it will ensure that the lifeline to a loved one, friend, or client in federal prison is never severed.

————–

Christopher ZoukisChristopher Zoukis is an impassioned advocate for prison education, a legal scholar, and a prolific writer of books, book reviews, and articles.  His articles on prison education and prison law appear frequently in Prison Legal News, and have been published in The Kansas City Star, The Sacramento Bee, Blog Critics, and Midwest Book Review, among other national, regional, and specialty publications.

Mr. Zoukis is often quoted on matters concerning prison law, criminal law, prisoners’ rights, and prison education.  Recently, he was the focus of an article at Salon.com concerning America’s broken criminal justice system and potential solutions to the current crisis.

When not in the thick of the battle for prison reform, prison education, or prisoners’ rights advocacy, Mr. Zoukis can be found blogging at PrisonLawBlog.com, PrisonEducation.com, and ChristopherZoukis.com.

His latest book is The Directory of Federal Prisons: PrisonLaw.com’s Federal Bureau of Prison Facility Directory.

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Overcoming Fear by ‘Lifetime of Achievement’ by Jordan Maylea Ramirez

Fear is one of the major factors that stands in the way on our path from where we are today to where we want to go. Fear of failure, of course, but also the fear of the unknown, the fear of others and the (most often overlooked) fear of ourselves.

Lifetime of AchievementOne of my favorite quotes is by Maryanne Williamson and it states, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and famous?’…”

Have you ever asked yourself that question? “Who am I to be… ____________?” Who are you to be successful in this career? Who are you to be the best mother, wife, father, husband? Who are you to put yourself out there and expect the best not only of others but of yourself?

Who are you?

It is the second part of the quote that is my favorite part: “Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in all of us…”

All of us. That means me and that means you. We were created for greatness. It is OUR responsibility to not let fear stand in the way of that greatness.

I have a technique I use when I am afraid. I will admit, fear is one of the thing I struggle with most. I know that nothing productive can come from fear and worry, and yet I still continue to find myself scared of the outcome of certain situations.

When I begin to feel afraid I ask myself, “What is the WORST possible thing that could happen from me doing this?” Then I proceed to let my imagination run wild until I reach what truly would be the worst possible scenario. I then ask myself, “Then what?”

What will you do then? What will you do when faced with the worst-case-scenario?

It may be hard. Depending on the situation it may be the most difficult thing you have ever done. But chances are you will deal with it. Your life is not going to end. You will be okay. Fear is often False Evidence Appearing Real. The consequences we create in our head are often far worse than what would actually happen in reality.

We often make the mistake of allowing our minds to run wild with the “what ifs” but never asking ourselves, “Then what?” What would you do? How would you deal with it? Your own strength may surprise you.

Another thing to ask yourself is, “What is the WORST possible thing that could happen from me NOT doing this?” The answer may surprise you. You may find out that the consequences of not trying are far great than of trying and not succeeding.

Think for a moment about what I’ve said as you read the final part of this quote:

“And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Today I am choosing to be liberated from my own fear. I hope my courage inspires you to do the same!

 ———————–

Jordan Maylea Ramirez 2Jordan lives with her husband Robert in Lubbock, Texas with their 3 dogs and two horses. Because both her parents have always been self-employed, she had an entrepreneurial spirit from an early age and began her first business at the age of 17. It was at that time that she first became fascinated with the subject of personal development and the impact a personal education can have on a person’s life. She grew up riding horses and competing in Dressage shows all across Texas and New Mexico. The sport continues to be one of the primary passions in her life and if she is not working or spending time with her family you can usually find her at the barn. Jordan has two younger siblings, Clayton and Paige, whom she is very close to, and she greatly enjoys spending time with her family. She and Robert enjoy entertaining friends at their home (especially during football season – Go Red Raiders!) and they love to travel the world and experience new countries and cultures together.

Her latest book is Lifetime of Achievement.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK

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The Story Behind Lifetime of Achievement by Jordan Maylea Ramirez

Writing has always been something that’s come easily for me. I love to read, have been inspired by many books throughout my life (both fiction and non-fiction), and the idea of inspiring someone in that way is something I’ve always aspired to do. Thankfully, the career path I chose put me in the position to do just that!

Lifetime of AchievementMy parents have always been self-employed, so I caught the “entrepreneur bug” at an early age. I started my first business as a junior in high school by partnering with a direct sales company; although I had always excelled academically, I dropped out of college after my first year so I could pursue my business full-time. That was 7 years ago, and I’ve never looked back!

What really intrigued me about the direct sales industry was that virtually all the top earners were also die-hard personal development fanatics. They became successful by working on themselves first, and they continue to help others do the same. The stories of personal transformation really fascinated me – this stuff had really changed a lot of people’s lives, and their results told the story!

About two years into my entrepreneurial journey I went through a really hard time personally. Several months in I decided to pick up an unread book that had been on my shelf for several years; “Maximum Achievement”, by Brian Tracy, literally changed my life!

The principles I learned from that book really took hold of me, and it wasn’t long before I began experiencing results of my own that I wanted to share. My life is what it is today because of my journey with personal development, and I’ve made it my mission to help as many people experience its benefits as possible.
One of my mentors teaches that if you really want people to follow something, you have to make it simple for them – that’s the mission of my book. I took principles from some of my favorite personal development authors and combined them in a format that is easy to read and simple to implement. If my book helps just one person accomplish a goal they’ve been afraid to go after, then it’s accomplished its purpose!

—————————–

Jordan Maylea Ramirez 2Jordan Maylea Ramirez lives with her husband Robert in Lubbock, Texas with their 3 dogs and two horses. Because both her parents have always been self-employed, she had an entrepreneurial spirit from an early age and began her first business at the age of 17. It was at that time that she first became fascinated with the subject of personal development and the impact a personal education can have on a person’s life. She grew up riding horses and competing in Dressage shows all across Texas and New Mexico. The sport continues to be one of the primary passions in her life and if she is not working or spending time with her family you can usually find her at the barn. Jordan has two younger siblings, Clayton and Paige, whom she is very close to, and she greatly enjoys spending time with her family. She and Robert enjoy entertaining friends at their home (especially during football season – Go Red Raiders!) and they love to travel the world and experience new countries and cultures together.

Her latest book is Lifetime of Achievement.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK

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Guest Blogger Helen Smith: Work with Survivors of Torture Inspires New Dystopian Novel

 

Work with Survivors of Torture Inspires New Dystopian Novel

By Helen Smith, author of ‘The Miracle Inspector’

I was inspired to write my dystopian novel The Miracle Inspector after volunteering for several years as a writing mentor with exiled writers in London through an organization called Freedom from Torture (formerly The Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture.)

The people I met through Freedom from Torture were resilient, courageous, grateful to have found sanctuary in England — and desperately sad to have left friends, family, home and possessions behind in their country of origin. As part of our work as mentors, the other volunteers and I helped them tell their stories in poetry and prose. Rather than try to retell those stories in a book of my own, I began to wonder what it would be like if I could no longer live in London and had to flee. What kind of reception would I get if I turned up in another place without money, and with little cultural understanding of the place where I was seeking sanctuary? What if I had led an insular, protected life and didn’t know enough about how the world worked to know who to trust?

I came up with a young married couple, Lucas and Angela, who are living in London after some unspecified political upheaval that has led to England being partitioned. An ignorant fear of everything from terrorism to pedophilia has led to schools being shut down and women kept inside the home for their own protection, unable to work. There is no communication with the outside world. There is no air travel. London is surrounded by a big fence. Men are constantly being arrested and taken away to prison, so it’s rare to see anyone older than about thirty-five, and uneducated young men are in positions of power.

In my country, there is increasing surveillance of citizens. New powers of search and detention have been introduced ‘for our own protection’ and these are open to abuse. Some people will argue that it doesn’t matter if large numbers of people are inconvenienced and their privacy invaded, or even that innocent people are arrested and questioned, if it means that just one child is saved. But what if that child was never in danger anyway? What if there is no need for that transaction and we are paying to save that hypothetical one child with the wrong coin?

All these thoughts were going through my head when I was writing the book. I am at the stage in my life when the country seems to be going to the dogs… and yet I know that that feeling is partly a symptom of growing old. Plenty of things are better than they were when I was a child. Some are a little bit worse. Mostly it’s different. Importantly, everything is cyclical, and each generation will rebel against the previous one. In free societies, things eventually right themselves. But in somewhere like Iran, for example, though I think that the political situation will change, it might take longer than one generation before women can choose whether or not to wear the veil again.

The Miracle Inspector is a blackly comic book with some funny lines in it, and I have deliberately portrayed a society that is absurd. Though one of the characters is arrested and tortured, you never see what is happening to him. You don’t even get to imagine it. I wouldn’t want to read about something like that and don’t feel qualified to write about it. In my book, this character tries to escape what is happening to him by imagining a journey taken by another character that becomes increasingly surreal. Is she really on this journey or is the whole thing in his mind?

I’d like readers to find something in the book that seems relevant to them. They might find comparisons with what has happened in Iran, they might see hints about what is happening in their own country, or they might celebrate the fact that they live in a free society and, though I have depicted a bleak, dystopian London, that is something that could never happen. Perhaps they will end up asking the questions that I started out with.

Helen Smith is a member of the Writers Guild of Great Britain and English PEN. She traveled the world when her daughter was small, doing all sorts of strange jobs to support them both – from cleaning motels to working as a magician’s assistant – before returning to live in London where she wrote her first novel which was published by Gollancz (part of the Hachette Group).

She is the author of bestselling cult novel Alison Wonderland. She writes novels, poetry, plays and screenplays and is the recipient of an Arts Council of England Award. She’s a long-term supporter of the Medical Foundation for the Victims of Torture and mentors members of an exiled writers group to help them tell their stories.

Her latest book is the dystopian thriller The Miracle Inspector.

Visit her website at http://www.emperorsclothes.co.uk.

Friend her on Twitter:  www.twitter.com/ emperorsclothes

Become a fan at Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/authorhelensmith

Friend her at Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2833648.Helen_Smith

Pick up a copy of The Miracle Inspector at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Miracle-Inspector-Helen-Smith/dp/0956517056

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King Arthur – History or Legend? by Donna Fletcher Crow

King Arthur, History or Legend? Arthurian Britain: The Anointing of the King

By Donna Fletcher Crow, author of ‘Glastonbury: A Novel of the Holy Grail’

The ancient tale, the one we all know and love— told by bards and minstrels in royal courts and around the fireside in simple cottages since Medieval times and retold by every generation as each age has remodeled the story to stress the qualities that age valued most, whether valorous warskill, gallant lovemaking or spiritual virtues.

The story of Arthur, the boy who would become king, whose shining kingdom of Camelot would stand as a beacon of the ideal. Was Arthur a matter of historic fact? I’m always asked.

And I reply, “Some mighty warlord won the peace and kept it for a space of time. Someone held the barbaric Saxons at bay from the west country. Someone held the kingdom for long enough that when the new rulers came they were Christian. Someone held a torch against the dark, waiting for the light. We might as well name him Arthur.”

My Arthur proclaims his goals when he is anointed by Archbishop Merlinus Dubricius at Caerleon:

Then Arthurius stood, with his queen beside him, his face shining in the light of a hundred candles from the shimmer of the anointing oil and from a radiance deep within. All were silent, as if holding their breath. Not a man to whom speech-making came naturally, Arthurius knew what he would say. “My friends, my people, I declare to you that this is Logres— the true Britain— the land of truth to which God led Joseph of Arimathea with the light of truth, the land which God’s Holy Spirit had prepared to receive His Word in the fullness of His time.

“But the dark is rising against this light as it has countless times before and will countless times after us. And as in every age men will be called on to repel this darkness in the name of the God of Light, so are we called for our age. We have been given a space of time to build in peace. So must we build well so that our space can be filled with His light that will radiate beyond our own time. Long and long have I dreamed of a land of peace where the weak are protected from the strong, where the good are triumphant over the evil. With your help, I shall go forward from here to make this dream into truth.”

And so began the Camelot years. A time of flowering for the people and for the land. But it could not be forever. AT last even the mighty Arthur received his fatal blow as he battled for the peace. Arthur and his Guenivere are laid to rest by the brothers on the Holy Isle of Avalon watched over by the faithful Baudwin, the only one of Arthur’s band of valiant knights to survive the final battle:

As the monks turned to go, Brother Breden, youngest of their number and yet not so young anymore, said, “We are so few. Are we all that is left of Logres? Does the flame flicker so dimly?”

Gildas stopped still and, for once unfrowning, turned to his brothers. “I would speak to you in comfort the words of our long gone-away Archbishop Merlinus Ambrosius Dubricius who said, ‘The light was before the dark, righteousness before evil, grace before sin. God the Creator existed before Satan the destroyer. So will light outlive dark, so is righteousness stronger than evil, so will grace overcome sin.’ The darkness closes over us, my brothers, but the light will shine again. And this light— the shining of Logres— will be remembered on the other side of the dark.”

The brothers made their silent, brown-shadowed way up the path to the chanting of their nighttime prayers in the Old Church, leaving Baudwin alone by the grave of Arthurius High King and Gwenhumara High Queen. He sat on the evening dew-damp grass and brought from the soft golden doeskin bag on his shoulder the harp he had carried with him from Camel Hill. A night thrush sang from the overhanging branch of a flowering apple tree, and he waited until her song was finished, for the bard would not stifle his sister. Then his fingers moved across the strings.

“The Summer Kingdom has gone. It could not last upon this earth. It was but a vision, a foretaste of what is to come for those who love— for those who love Him who is the King above all High Kings. His Kingdom of Summer, of peace, and of love will come for all time.” The words came out in a strange chanting to a random plucking of strings, not at all the flowing bardsong Baudwin was wont to make. Yet the words rang with conviction. They were the words he found in his heart, and he knew they were true.

“But even so the end is not yet. The evil will not triumph forever. All that you did, my Arthurius, all that you lived for, my king, will rise again. It will live for generation unto generation. It will come again and again to each age with its own truth. Truth, like light, cannot die.

“It is given unto man— even such a man as you, my Arthurius— for you were but a man— once to die. In the end, all must die. But what you lived for, lives beyond and beyond.

“The triumph will be ours.”

_________________________________

Donna Fletcher Crow is the author of 40 books, mostly novels dealing with British history. The award-winning Glastonbury, A Novel of the Holy Grail, an Arthurian grail search epic covering 15 centuries of English history, is her best-known work. Donna and her husband live in Boise, Idaho. They have 4 adult children and 11 grandchildren. She is an enthusiastic gardener.

Donna is also the author of The Monastery Murders: A Very Private Grave and A Darkly Hidden Truth, as well as the Lord Danvers series of Victorian true-crime novels and the romantic suspense series The Elizabeth & Richard Mysteries. To read more about all of Donna’s books and see pictures from her garden and research trips go to: www.DonnaFletcherCrow.com.

Visit her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/DonnaFletcherCr.

Become her fan on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/?ref=tn_tnmn#!/pages/Donna-Fletcher-Crow-Novelist-of-British-History/355123098656.

Pick up your copy of Donna Fletcher Crow’s Glastonbury: A Novel of the Holy Grail at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Glastonbury-Novel-Holy-Grail-ebook/dp/B00846FWYG/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1339097353&sr=1-3

Purchase your copy of Donna Fletcher Crow’s Glastonbury: A Novel of the Holy Grail at Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/glastonbury-donna-fletcher-crow/1103281249?ean=9781581341621

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Why I Love Steampunk by SM Blooding, author of THE HANDS OF TAROT

Why I Love Steampunk!

By SM Blooding

There are many reasons why I love Steampunk!

In the era Steampunk is usually written, which is the beginning of the Industrial Age, we literally thought anything was possible. We’d just seen the horse and buggy, which had been used in various stages for the past several millennia, replaced by a vehicle that worked with gears and a motor. We flew with power and control that a hot air balloon just can’t compete with. We conquered the Wild West. Women made their mark, started going to universities. We pushed railroad through unapproachable territories. The sky was the limit! The feeling of this era is intoxicating. I mean, just picture yourself in that time; watching your first movie, hearing your first radio show, going on your first airplane ride, driving a car for the first time.

I had the opportunity to talk to my grandmother when I was younger, and she was still alive, and she had all these stories. At the time, I poo-pooed what she said. I ignored the wonder in her eyes as she talked about all these things, but as I got older, I started thinking of the stories I would tell my great-great grandchildren. What had I seen? What had my generation done? Hers had won a world war. Her generation had shown the world that we were the strongest nation. Her generation dared to be different, paved paths that were previously thought to be impossible.

I think the thing that draws me the most to Steampunk is the sense of wonder. We literally thought at the beginning of the 20th century that we would have cities under the sea, that we could build cities in the air. We thought the common mode of transportation would be flying cars. We had such big dreams and huge hopes for the future.

That was the route we actually took, though. In Steampunk, we kinda follow that same path, but we veer left. We use resources that are easier on our environment, and toy with renewable energies. Instead of shooting bullets that run out, we shoot electro-static, which is, in theory, is easy to generate while it’s working.

That, I think, is the second biggest reason I love Steampunk. We have planes that flap their wings, airships that use steam. The weapons that were thought up in Steampunk works are just as interesting. Electro-static, electric-array, plasma-pistols. What you don’t typically see are expendable sources. You see vehicles that are just crazy (the spider in The Wild Wild West for instance) and can run forever, weapons that are insane and never run out of ammo.

During this time, we had some pretty ingenious inventors; Nikola Tesla, Albert Einstein, the Wright Brothers, Ida Henrietta Hyde, Andrew Alford, Henry Ford. Things were being invented on nearly a daily basis. The Band-Aid, the ballpoint pen, the radio, crayons, the light bulb, the zipper.

So when you think “Steampunk”, we’re talking about an age when anything was possible. You could be in a situation, and you need a widget in order to survive. It would be nothing to just whip up said widget using a nail, a spring, cayan powder, and a glass bottle. Presto! The widget was born!

With that, however, there are many failures, and that’s almost more fun than the things that worked. You’d find yourself in a gun fight, and your inventor hands you a pistol that doesn’t work! Remember when Grandpa would get up and smack the TV because it just stopped working? Can you even imagine smacking your TV now? Oh, no. No, no!

My Steampunk isn’t on planet earth, but the society that I wrote about in The Hands of Tarot is just breaching this age. We’re playing around with different inventions. We’re discovering what we could build, embarking on a new age. It’s a lot of fun! There are things that aren’t working so well, and a few that are. Steampunk is for the geek. It just is. If you’re a geek, a nerd, a dork, then Steampunk is for you! Take it. Own it. Geek is the new black!

The thing I love the most about Steampunk is that the heroes are scientists. That is freaking amazing!

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About the Author:

SM Blooding lives in Colorado with her pet rock, Rockie, and Ms. Jack, who’s a real bird. She’s still learning to play the piano and guitar, which is going marginally better, and for those of you looking for an Arabic update, she has successfully learned one word, “Yalla, people yalla!”

She’s dated vampires, werewolves, sorcerers, weapons smugglers and US Government assassins. Yes. She has stories.

Her latest book is the YA steampunk, The Hands of Tarot.

Visit SM Blooding on the web at  www.smblooding.com.

Stop by SM Blooding’s blog at http://www.smblooding.com/blog/.

Follow SM Blooding on Twitter:  https://twitter.com/#!/SMBlooding

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Friend SM Blooding at LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/profile/edit?locale=en_US&goback=%2Enpe_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1&report%2Esuccess=jgJxTlkGP726Ky-c5KwR61IrRQHo7WkbEMb_CbEDa703MvofkxsDCc06MMP3wv3vgcoytKSrRn0L_rsfDgJjp8-

Don’t forget to check out Colorado Paranormal Rescue: http://www.coloradoparanormalrescue.com/?q=content/about-us

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About the Book:

She imprisoned and beat him.

And now she thinks he’s her trophy.

Synn El’Asim will do almost anything to prove her wrong. But he’s only proving her right.

Queen Nix awakened his Mark of power and inducted him into the House of Wands. She knew what she was doing. The son of the two most powerful Families standing against her is the ultimate prize. What she didn’t take into consideration was that maybe he was too strong for her.

Maybe.

The Families are weakened, and it’ll take a lot more than one young man with a powerful Mark to take on…

The Hands of Tarot.

Watch the Book Trailer:

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Guest Blogger: Exploring the Morales Dictatorship in Plant Teacher by Caroline Alethia

Caroline Alethia is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in newspapers, magazines, on radio and in web outlets. Her words have reached audiences on six continents. She lived in Bolivia and was a witness to many of the events described in Plant Teacher. Plant TeacherYou can visit her website at www.plantteacherthebook.net. Website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon | Amazon Kindle Store | Official Tour Page

ABOUT PLANT TEACHER

Hailed by Huffington Post contributor Joel Hirst as a compelling and powerful story, Plant Teacher begins in 1972 when a hippie in Oakland, California flushes a syringe of LSD down a toilet. Thirty-five years later, the wayward drug paraphernalia has found its final resting place in Los Yungas, Bolivia, the umbilical cord between the Andes and Amazonia. Enter into this picture two young Americans, Cheryl Lewis, trying to forge her future in La Paz and Martin Banzer, trying to come to terms with his past in the same city. The two form an unlikely friendship against the backdrop of a country teetering at the brink of dictatorship and revolution. Bolivia sparks the taste for adventure in both young people and Martin finds himself experimenting with indigenous hallucinogenic plants while Cheryl flits from one personal relationship to another. Meanwhile, the syringe buried in the silt in a marsh in Los Yungas will shape their destinies more than either could anticipate or desire. Plant Teacher takes its readers on a fast-paced tour from the hippie excesses of Oakland, to the great streams of the Pacific Ocean and to the countryside, cities, natural wonders and ancient ruins of Bolivia. It reveals­ the mundane and the magical, and, along the way, readers glimpse the lives of everyday Bolivians struggling to establish equanimity or merely eke out a living during drastic political crisis.

Exploring the Morales Dictatorship in Plant Teacher

By Caroline Alethia

 

I happened to be in Bolivia from 2007 to 2008. If you haven’t kept up with your modern Bolivian history, this time period was when President Evo Morales exerted his first heavy thrusts toward consolidating power. Within an armed encampment, and underwritten by only his supporters, Morales amended the national Constitution to extend his term limit. Thousands of people marched the streets in protest. Three of these protesters were shot and killed. City centers were crippled for weeks by hunger strikes. A governor spoke out against a disingenuous plan to federalize the government and was promptly arrested.

 

In the meantime, the North American media continued to report on Morales as a popular and populist leader. Brief months before the U.S. ambassador was expelled from the country, I buttoned up my educational project and returned to the United States, knowing that I needed to write about Bolivia.

 

The novel that followed, Plant Teacher, explores the lives of an expatriate community living in Bolivia during this troubled time. In my early forays into writing the novel, and as I fleshed out the different characters, my initial impulse was to write the story in the first person, told from the viewpoint of a young American of Bolivian descent, Martin Banzer, who travels to La Paz to explore his roots.

 

It soon became clear to me that there was much about Bolivia that could not be exposed through Martin’s limited impressions. To begin with, there was the country’s rich history with its indigenous and its colonial roots which Martin would have known very little about. I wanted to color Plant Teacher with native folklore and traditional narratives: the Inca creation legend; the Amerindian trichotomy of inner Earth, outer Earth, and the celestial realm.

 

Deciding to switch to third person in order to bring in these traditional and historic elements immediately also freed me to develop a pantheon of characters, each seeing the upheaval in Bolivia through his or her own perspective prism. I was able to delve into the fears and confusion of an orphan overwhelmed by the loss of his mother, and into the banal and very realistic life of a cleaning lady concerned mostly about staying healthy and, thus, being able to keep her job. The mestiza waitress at the tony coffee shop was able to feel roused by the president’s weekly radio address while the omnipresent cholitas—Bolivia’s bowler-capped Amerindian women—could worry about their loss of sales and the disappearance of tourists.

 

Additional expatriate characters also came to life with the freedom of the third person. Initially intended as the main character, Martin soon had to share the stage with two other Americans. Cheryl, a young woman drawn to Bolivia for the adventure, grew into a full-fledged main character with her own peculiarities (agnostic on religion but with a religious fervor for Austrian depth psychiatrist, Alfred Adler). Her sparring partner became Gus, an older missionary with more of an interest in economic development projects than in saving souls.

 

While I planned for these characters to tell the story of a Bolivia in upheaval, I found, as I progressed in my writing, that something very different happened. Like the real people I came to know during my time in this South American country, the characters in Plant Teacher come to develop an almost schizophrenic approach to life. While marchers and hunger strikers and rioters occupy the streets, Martin and Cheryl and Gus drink cappuccinos, go fishing, and write poetry. Humans, I have come to understand, need normalcy, and they will create it even—perhaps especially—under the most trying of conditions. The third person narrative allows Plant Teacher to explore individuals, communities, politics, history and culture. And, in so doing, it allows the book to tell a story that is unusual, if not unique, but also deeply real and deeply human.

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Guest Blogger: What the World Needs Now – Authentic leadership by Andreas Dudas

Andreas Dudàs has more than 20 years leadership experience gained in top executive positions in over 25 countries. Visionary entrepreneur, mentor, motivational speaker & expert on authentic (life) leadership, he is the author of Do You Dare To Be Yourself? Learn more at www.andreasdudas.com.

What the World Needs Now – Authentic leadership by Andreas Dudas

On the one hand, never throughout the entire history were human beings offered such a bewildering array of opportunities to foster personal growth, accumulate wealth or build great nations. Each time I leave the new airport in New Delhi, for example, I am overwhelmed with the rapid change of the environment driven by a mind-boggling growth rate of the economy. On the other hand, never has humanity faced so much misery: A rising number of armed and violent conflicts, water and air pollution, congested highways, a rapid shift in weather conditions and the exploitation of natural resources without considering even the most basic environmental regulations.

Many scholars claim that the dramatic challenges we witness are mainly driven by two key factors: a sudden and startling surge in human population and a fast acceleration of the scientific and technological revolution, which has provided us with a sheer unimaginable power to affect the world around us. Some scholars tend to assert that new technologies, genetic engineering or other innovative products will be the keys for coping with our pressing problems. I completely disagree! Only a new leadership paradigm will remedy the current havoc.

For nearly 2000 years, the worldview has been driven by a leadership paradigm based on autonomy, separateness and control. These have also been the root metaphors influencing religion, business and science mainly in the Western world. This traditional archetype supports not only autonomy and freedom, but also control and manipulation. Nothing was wrong with such an approach, up to a point, for it was the basis for an enormous technical advancement on earth. But at the same time, this old paradigm has led us into a disaster and is now in big trouble not just that it relates to the environment, but across many fields such as politics, education and business. Already in the early 1990s, many renowned personalities emphasized that the shortcomings of command-and-control management were becoming apparent. The hierarchy of bosses organized in ranks with each superior exercising authority over subordinates who do exactly what their boss wants, has long been dominant. Many companies underwent a drastic paradigm shift in their leadership style over the last two decades. However, daily news on “poor management” suggests that not a lot of things have really changed.

What our planet needs now is a drastic shift towards a leadership paradigm embracing values such as interrelationship, cooperation, integration, balance, holism and especially love. These are exactly the values found in individuals living authentically. Such people have learned to act in accord with their core values, preferences, and needs as opposed to acting merely to please others or avoid punishments through playing a role. Such individuals have found the power of speaking up and lending a caring hand to our planet by reaching deep into their hearts. Only a huge investment of self-awareness and self-respect has nurtured their immense power to show respect for others and for the earth as a whole.

The sad news is that business, politics and education are not rewarding authenticity yet. We all are growing up in a command-and-control society, which nurtures our constant fear of not amounting to anything or loosing praise and recognition if we dare to live up to our innate principles and values. Furthermore, success in our society is still measured against the amount of money we accumulate or how fast we advance in our career, which spurs an ego-rooted rather than a heart-centered behavior. It often favors competition rather than cooperation. However, the greatest leaders of all times have set a stunning example of what one can achieve through leading from the heart. At the time of Mahatma Gandhi’s death, his personal possessions were valued at less than two dollars. His power and strength was derived from internal depths of his soul. Gandhi showed that the human heart is a source of tremendous power holding the capacity to change the course of history. We all have the birth right and even obligation to live up to our authentic self, which in turn feeds the power of living up to values so much in need, such as cooperation, appreciation and balance, and supporting a sustainable development of our planet. Since most of us stuck in the “comfort and fear zone” we need strong leaders empowering us to live authentically and promoting the strength to value respect for others. Reach deep in your heart, stand up for your true self and become one of the future leaders empowering others to reclaim their authentic presence!

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