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Blog Tour + Interview: Whitney Stewart, author of ‘Give Me a Break: No Fuss Meditation’

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Whitney Stewart began writing young adult biographies and meditating after she met and interviewed the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, the subject of two of her books, and lived with a Tibetan family in India. For her next biographies, she trekked with Sir Edmund Hillary in Nepal, interviewed Burma’s Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi in her Rangoon home, and climbed along China’s Great Wall to research the lives of Deng Xiaoping and Mao Zedong. In 2004, Stewart published a picture book about the Buddha, which contains a foreword and a meditation suggestion from the 14th Dalai Lama. In addition to nonfiction books, Stewart has published three middle-grade novels. In August 2005, Stewart was trapped in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina and evacuated by helicopter from a rooftop. She returned home and volunteered as a creative writing teacher in the public schools. She discovered that her students suffered from post-Katrina stress. Using meditation, improvisation, and word play, Stewart taught her students to write about their lives.

Her latest book is Give Me a Break: No-Fuss Meditation.

You can find more about Whitney Stewart at her website at http://www.whitneystewart.com.  Follow her at Twitter at www.twitter.com/mindfulneworlns and www.twitter.com/whitneystewart2 and Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/New.Orleans.Kids.Author.

About Give Me a Break: No-Fuss Meditation

Whitney Stewart’s straightforward, non-denominational guide makes meditation simple. It covers the basics in a concise thirty-three pages: Why meditation is good for you, how to sit, how to let your mind rest, even what to do if you feel weird or uncomfortable during meditation. Most important, it provides sixteen accessible, useful meditations you can easily learn at home. Age ten to adult.

Stewart’s top reasons to meditate:

*To focus inwardly

*To slow down internally

*To develop awareness

*To understand your mind

*To increase tolerance

*To experience “BIG MIND”

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Q: Thank you for this interview, Whitney. Can you tell us what your latest book, Give Me a Break: No-Fuss Meditation, is all about?

My ebook is a simple, nondenominational guide to meditation. I include a short introduction and sixteen meditation practices that will help focus the mind. I also include answers to common questions people have about meditation

I wrote this book to communicate the benefits of meditation to anyone who wants to reduce stress, improve health, develop inner wisdom, lead a happier life, and experience a natural state of mind.

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

I have been a meditator for over twenty-five years, and I see how it has changed my life. During Hurricane Katrina, my son and I were trapped in a building in downtown New Orleans. We had to wait five days for helicopters to rescue us. During that time, I used meditation as a means of staying calm, alleviating fear, and being mindful. When I returned to New Orleans, I volunteered as a creative writing teacher in a public school. I discovered that my students were often stressed, unhappy, and frightened every time the weather turned stormy. They could not concentrate on their work. I taught them to meditate before we did our creative writing exercises. Many of them told me how much they loved to meditate at the beginning of class. This gave me the idea of writing a nondenominational meditation guide that was easy enough for children and detailed enough for adults. My guide is meant for beginners.

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

I first learned to meditate when I was in high school. And then in 1987, I joined a meditation center and studied with several Tibetan Buddhist teachers. That led me to taking multiple trips to Tibet, Nepal, Burma, Thailand, Japan, and India where I practiced meditation with teachers. I also have a full personal library on Buddhism and meditation.

I have written two children’s books on the 14th Dalai Lama, which were based on interviews with him. In one interview, he suggested a meditation technique that was simple enough to teach children. I included this technique in my picture book Becoming Buddha: The Story of Siddhartha. Readers asked me for more techniques like that one, so I wrote this book, in part, because of their request.

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

That meditation is a path to discovering your relaxed, open, natural state of mind.

Q: Can you give us a short excerpt?

Why Meditate?

Let’s face it. Life knocks you around. One minute

you’re happy. The next you want to scream. You don’t get

everything you want, and you don’t want everything you get.

You need a break. Meditation could be the answer.

Meditation calms you down. It helps you find your own

wisdom. It settles your nerves and fills your mind with

space.

 

Lots of people meditate——athletes, actors, dog

trainers, writers, and people like you. They do it wherever

they find a quiet spot——in the living room, in the back

yard, under a tree, in an empty classroom, in the library,

in a tent, on a mountaintop. You don’t have to join a

religious group to meditate. And you don’t have to change

anything about yourself. Meditation is about accepting

yourself with all the bumps and bruises.

 

So go ahead and see for yourself. This book gives you

different meditation exercises. You may not like them all.

That’s fine. Try them and see which ones work for you.

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

Yes, it is hard to get any book published by a reputable publisher. I started publishing twenty years ago. I researched what publishers wanted and submitted selectively. I also researched my books thoroughly. I started by writing biographies of Nobel laureates and adventurers. If they were still alive, I interviewed them and people who knew them. I tried to find both a narrative hook and a marketing hook; I wanted to give my readers something they had not read before.

Q: What’s a typical day like for you?

I wake up, meditate, and exercise (yoga and cardio) in the early morning, and write for the rest of the day, every day. Sometimes I take short meditation or movement breaks while I am writing, but I don’t answer the phone or chat with friends until my day’s writing is done. I work at home and often have to wear headphones and listen to ambient music to block out the noise of construction and lawn mowers in the neighborhood.

Q: What’s next for you?

I just finished revising a middle-grade novel set in New Orleans and sent it to my agent. It’s the story of a 14-year-old boy who is accused of a crime he didn’t commit. I look forward to the sale and publication of that book. I also have a picture book coming out with Windy Hollow Books in Australia. It’s a companion book to my Becoming Buddha and will be illustrated by the same illustrator, Sally Rippin. Last Spring I started writing an edgy young adult novel, and I hope to return to that manuscript in January.

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

 

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Pump Up Your Book announces Julia Madeleine’s ‘No One to Hear You Scream Virtual Book Tour 2011’

Julie MadeleineJoin Julia Madeleine, author of the thriller novel, No One to Hear You Scream (Black Heart Books), as she virtually tours the blogosphere June 6 – July 29 2011 on her first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book!

Julia Madeleine is the youngest daughter of Irish immigrant parents from Belfast, Northern Ireland. Born in Canada and raised in a small town in southern-western Ontario on the shores of Lake Huron, Julia honed her duel passions for art and fiction writng from the time she was old enough to hold a crayon. As a teenager she moved to Toronto and graduated in Media Writing from Sheridan College. She wrote for a number of entertainment magazines, while spending all her free time writing fiction, and then in 2000, her passion for art led her, quite by accident, into a career in the tattoo industry.

Home for Julia is Mississauga, where she lives with her husband and teenaged (future tattoo artist) daughter. For a year she lived in the country on a 30-acre property in the middle of nowhere, which became the inspiration for her second novel, No One To Hear You Scream. Currently she is working on the sequel to her first thriller, Scarlet Rose (2008) which will be released sometime in the fall of 2011.

No One to Hear You ScreamIn the quiet environs of upstate New York, a family can get a great deal of land, a beautiful home, and a chance to live in the throw-back, bucolic world of small town America. For Brett and Pamela Jameson of No One to Hear You Scream, that opportunity arose when a house they loved went into foreclosure. What they didn’t know was that this dream home was about to turn into their worst nightmare. Former owner, Irish emigrant and violent ex-gang memeber Rory Madden, is out of incarceration and wants his house back, and he will stop at nothing to get it. Rory unearths the secrets hidden within the Jameson family, and begins to leverage his knowledge to slowly drive wedges between them. When their seventeen year-old, mentally unstable daughter Justine falls for Rory’s advances, the devious mind of a career criminal turns her against her own parents, setting off a series of increasingly treacherous events that culminates into a charged climactic moment. At once a classic noir and a modern cautionary tale about the roiling truth lurking within the depths of twenty-first century suburban America, No One to Hear You Scream is a freight train to the heart of an unspoken terror inside everyone who has ever dreamed of a bright future, while nevertheless wary of what the dark past may one day bring to their door.

You can visit Julia’s website at www.juliamadeleine.com or her blog at www.juliamadeleineauthor.blogspot.com.

No One to Hear You Scream

For more information on her virtual book tour, you can visit Julia’s official tour page here.

Pump Up Your Book is an innovative public relations agency specializing in online book publicity for authors looking for maximum online promotion to sell their books. Visit our website at www.pumpupyourbook.com to find out how we can take your book to the virtual level!

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Interview with Alexandrea Weis, author of ‘Recovery

Alexandrea Weis began writing at the age of eight. In college she studied nursing and went on to teach at a local university. After several years in the medical field, she decided to pick up the pen again and began her first novel To My Senses. Since that time she has writen several novels and sold two screenplays (White River and Blood Will Tell). Blood Will Tell is currently in pre-production with Buyer Group International. Her work has been critically acclaimed and is continually growing in popularity.

Her most recent book is Recovery, the second novel in the Nicci Beauvoir series which takes readers on a Big Easy thrill ride when a lover’s murder is solved and a spy with a bulletproof bravado quickens Nicci’s broken heart.

Alexandrea is also a permitted wildlife rehabber and works rescuing orphaned and injured animals. She recently has been working to aid oil soaked birds in the Gulf disaster.

You can visit Alexandrea’s website at www.alexandreaweis.com or connect with her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/alexandreaweis.com and Facebook at www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/pages/To-My-Senses/113609858681394.

Q: Thank you for this interview, Alexandrea. Can you tell us what your latest book, Recovery, is all about?

Set amid the backdrop of post-Katrina New Orleans, the story is about Nicci’ Beauvoir’s soulful search for Recovery. Once a darling of New Orleans society, Nicci pens a novel about her departed love, the artist David Alexander. While promoting her book in the Big Apple, she’s approached by David’s former boss, Simon La Roy, who has a theory about David’s death that devastates Nicci. She learns David’s murder may be linked to someone from her past. Enter Dallas August, an elite member of Simon’s organization of corporate spies prized for his ruthless ability to get the job done. Playing the part of Nicci’s lover, Dallas returns to Katrina-ravaged New Orleans with her to flush out the killer. But everything is not what is seems in the Big Easy, and soon the couple finds themselves trapped in a psychotic’s twisted game of revenge.

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

Nicci Beauvoir, the heroine, is a burgeoning writer drawn into the hunt for David Alexander’s killer by Dallas August, a distant man with a tragic past.  Together the two clash but then the common bond of searching for the murderer turns their relationship from adversarial to amorous. Nicci is supported by a rather sharp-tongued group of family members, whose wit and charm help to bring some wonderful humor into the story. The most prominent of these are Nicci’s father and uncle. Their brotherly banter provides a little bit of insight into why Nicci is the way that she is.

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

I feel it is a little of both. I find that every character I write has elements of people I know in them. I believe if you talk to any writer they will tell you that some of their best characters are based on people they have known. After all, isn’t that what fiction is all about? Reality blended with bits of imagination makes for the most compelling dramas.

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

It develops as I write. I always see the end of the book first and then go from there. A book is an adventure to me because I never know where the story will take me.

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

I am from New Orleans. It is the most eclectic, culturally diverse, and intriguing place I know. I have traveled a good bit in my life, but no place has ever been more interesting to me than the Big Easy. It is the most unique place on earth, and despite its negative press and sinister reputation, it is a part of me, and a part of everything that I write. Everyone always says write about what you know. Well, I know New Orleans.

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

Yes, I feel the characters recovery from their past emotional upheavals mirrors the rhythm of the resurrecting city of New Orleans. In the end, neither the city of New Orleans, nor Nicci Beauvoir, learns that they can ever forget about their tormented pasts. Instead, they both learn to grow from what they have been through and move on.

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

Dallas and Nicci are discovering that they make each other uncomfortable. It is a pivotal point in the book where the reader can feel the sexual tension building between the two main characters. For Nicci, it is the first moment where she realizes that Dallas has awakened something inside of her that she thought had died with David.

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

The world had suddenly become a little darker for me, and for the first time in my life, I feared the future. I had survived the sharp-tongued insults of a snobby southern upbringing, the heartache of my mother’s death, betrayal, intrigue, engagement to a moron, and the loss of the only man I had ever loved. Even the devastation of Katrina had not dampened my belief in the eventuality of good. From all things bad something good does come, I was once told, and up until that moment in my life, I had believed it. But how do you sustain such hope when your faith in the certainty of tomorrow is threatened? What do you believe in when another is killing for control of your destiny?

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

Thank you for having me today, and thank you to all of your readers. I hope you enjoy my second installment in the Nicci Beauvoir series and look forward to hearing what your readers have to say about Recovery.   

 

 

 

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