Traits and Emotions of a Salvageable Soul by Keeshawn C. Crawford is certainly among the most interesting books I had the pleasure of reading this year, if not the best. This piece of non-fiction is an apt example where in the author delves into a personal need of an individual for that special word of inspiration.
This book has a clear vision of it’s purpose and direction and was a really good read. The focus of the writer is crisp and smooth. We are observing a world today that is experiencing more and more women raising their voice against violence and sexual aggression of men in power and influence. The first topic thus selected, aptly deals with the intrinsic build up of the common woman, and to take care of herself.
The subsequent topics have been laid out in a well-defined manner, starting with happiness, love and the concept of helping. The book further delves into other topics which form an important part of moral principles such as sacrifice, strength in troubled times, empathy, and many others. The author also touches on other equally important topics such as parenting, the ingredients for a well-nourished relationship, and accepting criticism constructively to become better. The author balances this with wise words of caution against weakness, ignorance and greediness.
There are many other word gems in this book as well, such as the ones highlighting wisdom of elders, the notion of self-respect, signs of a true friend, just to name a few. I was a bit bewildered at first at how much these moral principles influence, affect and shape our lives, and of those with whom we interact. The author however, seems adept in corralling these principles together with the physical constructs. I feel it important to point out that this book is not meant for speed reading to be just done away in a few days time. The real pearl of this work lies in soaking up the meaning in the words and continuously striving to build a strong mental platform upon which you can work to see your behavior change and be improved by the many areas which the author has pointed out in every chapter. The author fervently impresses upon the reader to conduct oneself in such a manner that would make it more pleasurable for others to follow their lead.
This book can be categorized as a self-help book, but it goes beyond and compels you to think and continuously strive to be a better individual and a good citizen. I am already looking forward for the next book from this author.
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From the Heart is a series of short stories about human passions and emotions and how they come to the fore when people face challenging circumstances. Why was this an important collection for you to write?
Mario Llosa Vargas once said that love is the most important human activity. I think it is what makes us human. In these stories the need for love is paramount – from the child’s clinging to a safe world, to the desperation of a feared loss of a life partner, or to the family love that stays strong through tough times. But I was surprised to realise how powerful the need for companionship and support is in later life; it is precious and one of the few things that can ward off the pain and terror of the losses ahead.
It strikes me that bonding and the joys of feeling loved and safe are so easy to lose, and also, so easy to build – with understanding and good will. I guess I keep trying to make the story come good in the end.
Mouse Mat was my favorite of the stories. What was your favorite story in the collection and why?
In “The Legacy You Leave” I enjoyed seeing the selfish bully losing his power as the sons stood together to highlight the real hero, their father.
Did you write these stories separately or did you write them knowing that they would be published together?
No, the stories came alive independently. Often a character or a scene of conflict take hold in my mind, and I keep returning to it until the problem is solved. At an unexpected moment I realised the stories formed a whole, and the title just fell out of the theme.
What is one thing that you hope readers take away from your stories?
Definitely: don’t let despair, loss or tyranny take away your opportunity for joy, and joy in others.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m planning the sequel to Choose: Snakes or Ladders, which should be let loose in November. But it’s facing a bit of competition from other stories in the world of #MeToo, and similar instances of standover and exploitation.
o Heart Buddies
o Life After
o Mouse Mat
o A Worm Among the Flowers
o The Legacy You Leave
o Love in a Teapot
Carlo seems a perfect husband. Why can’t Nicky go with the happiness within her reach?
Paula worked really hard to live up to it all. And then she failed. How can something good come from all the pain?
A child lies in bed, scared and alone. Will Daddy and Mummy be there for her? Finding an answer takes a lot of growing up. But the lessons of the good times remain to help.
The ladies bridge club. Long time friends struggling to hang on as the Autumn leaves fall around them.
What was the secret to Greg’s ability to be loyal to his work and foster his dreams for his sons? And what toll did it take?
Sue and her mother had formed a tight bond, a wall against the conflict and pain in their life. But when does that wall become a prison?
Moving and heart-warming, these short stories about love and the emotions that get in the way, are an antidote to the fears that haunt the nights of all of us.
If you enjoy Amanda Prowse, give these stories a try.
Posted in Interviews
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The Woman Behind The Waterfall follows Angela as she struggles to help her mother find happiness while trying to avoid her dark past. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
When I started writing The Woman behind the Waterfall, I was at a crossroads in my life. I had turned 30, decided to leave my job running a business to write full-time, and had recently moved country to live in Barcelona. I was at a stage where I was evaluating what had happened in my life to date, and what I could consider mistakes or positive choices; also the example I was setting for my daughter, and the patterns I was consciously or not consciously following from my mother. Thus, the original idea was an exploration of choices and their consequences within the framework of generations. As the novel progressed, this developed into the wider theme of the search for happiness, and what happiness means at different ages and in different generations.
The writing in your story is very artful and creative. Was it a conscious effort to create a story in this fashion or is this style of writing reflective of your writing style in general?
I had always dreamed of being a writer, and at the age of 30, after many years of scribbling stories and poems, I decided to write full-time. This was my chance to create a novel that I hoped would be published and offered to the world. The language that came out when I wrote it was intensely poetic and full of dream and emotion. It wasn’t a style that I had written in previously, but it was the language that I found to express the story of the book – the generations and the regrets and choices, woven into the dream world of the subconscious.
As a contrast, in my second novel, I wanted to write in a style that was a clean, straightforward narrative. After the intense poetry of The Woman Behind the Waterfall, I wanted to focus on story and character rather than the beauty of the words.
Both Angela and her mother are both detailed characters that continue to develop in the story. What were the driving ideals behind the characters’ development throughout the story?
The character of Angela was intended to express the pure creative state that children exist in before their thought-patterns have been set by the surrounding world. I had observed in my own children this magical state when they hadn’t yet been told what was true and what was not, and so everything was possible. With Angela, I take this a step further and allow her to merge with the natural world. However, as the book progresses, she understands that she will lose this ability as she becomes an adult.
Lyuda, the mother, also goes through a transformation. She has been trapped in a debilitating depression and holds on for the sake of her daughter. When her daughter starts to see and be affected by this, Lyuda has to make a choice to come out of her internal world. This progression was really inspired by the idea of the things we pass on to our children, and the responsibility there is in being a parent, where each of your actions can create a pattern that can pass into your family for generations.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
I published my second novel, The Unity Game, in May of this year, and I’m currently working on several projects which should be ready starting from 2019. The Unity Game was as different as possible to The Woman Behind the Waterfall, and is a speculative Science Fiction novel set in New York, a distant planet and an after-life dimension. It was a lot of fun to write and it has been getting some great feedback.
For seven-year old Angela, happiness is exploring the lush countryside around her home in western Ukraine. Her wild imagination takes her into birds and flowers, and into the waters of the river.
All that changes when, one morning, she sees her mother crying. As she tries to find out why, she is drawn on an extraordinary journey into the secrets of her family, and her mother’s fateful choices.
Can Angela lead her mother back to happiness before her innocence is destroyed by the shadows of a dark past?
Beautiful, poetic and richly sensory, this is a tale that will haunt and lift its readers.
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I Spy With My Little Eye: A journey through the moral landscape of Britain, written by Linnea Mills, is a novel written in an attempt to understand the morals, norms and values held by Britain’s current society. It is based around the seven deadly sins and seven heavenly virtues and uses these ideas as metaphors for the current issues present in society. There is a combination of statistics, quotes and recent topics to illustrate the consequences of economic divides, celebrity status, money, power and greed. It will leave you wondering- what is your interpretation of wealth, happiness and success?
I Spy With My Little Eye is a masterpiece that analyses and discusses our changing behaviours as a society. Prepare to reconsider your personal views and be confronted with statistics and studies that prove just how much of our lives are shaped by media, “celebrities” and power.
It challenges the norms held by today’s social standards and instead encourages the reader to consider whether the behaviour we partake in is a reflection of our true intentions and beliefs or are we just following the crowd mentality. It also pushes you to contemplate whether your behaviours actually contribute to any form of personal or societal gain. At times I felt as though I could see the world in a new light, especially reading alarming studies about what children aspire to be or the implications of the celebrity phenomenon on our culture and identity.
Even though the chapter titles are based around Christian values, the author stresses that this is not a religious book and instead uses these sins and virtues to simply reference problems in Britain’s society- with a cheeky nod to our internal moral compasses. At what point does wealth become an addiction as opposed to a simple goal? And is it moulded by society or what truly makes you happy?
One of my favourite chapters was one that discussed Envy. With social media being such an integral part of most people’s lives, it was interesting to see the comparative statistics of happiness between those who continued to use the social media platforms or compared to those who gave them up. It also discusses trolls, consequences of online abuse and the implementations of social media on politics.
I was impressed at the depth of knowledge presented in the book as well as the sourced quotes and studies. The staggering statistics are mind-boggling and emphasise the manipulation of greed in positions of power. Linnea Mills also uses current events and trends to strengthen her arguments further and increase the validity of her ideas.
I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone! It a perfect balance of social issues, philosophy and facts, combined to create a piece of literature that challenges your belief on what makes you innately happy.
Pages: 145 | ASIN: B077PLR3FK
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Humans are on a constant quest for self-actualization. We have a deep need to live in genuine serenity, to discover selves. People always seek to have full control of their mental faculties such that they can meditate without struggling too much.
Anam Cara: Your Soul Friend and Bridge to Enlightenment and Creativity will get one on the right path. To open the floodgates of creativity, one needs to have peace of mind and be free of emotional baggage. This audio book is a road map to using the soul friend to achieve these. The soul friend is a non-judgmental confidante who helps an individual live to their full God-given potential. The book urges the importance of the body in accessing the mind. The science of breathing is used as an example of how one can access their mind. By breathing properly, one relaxes and eventually accesses the deepest parts of their mind. The science of breathing is often used in meditation. One may argue that the soul friend would best be a therapist or religious leader but that defeats the purpose. The point of anam cara is candor and intimacy.
This book also guides the reader through the 42 confessions to the soul, these are essential in spiritual growth. Among the most important aspects of self-empowerment is selfless service. Glenville Ashby talks about being completely used up by the time of death. Giving oneself to the society with no expectations by doing the simplest of things like offering comfort to a troubled friend. Mr. Ashby also talks about thoughts creating reality. God would not punish his own creations by blessing some and leaving others in anguish. Humans are meant to create their own blessings through hard work. This is a very interesting point of view. It makes a lot of sense upon reflection. To further affirm his stand, Glenville talks about Hellen Keller and Stephen Hawking. Their outstanding positivity and contributions to the world are awe-inspiring. The author also introduces the master keys that unlock the portal to the soul. First on the list is gratitude. This is a testament to the adage; no man is an island. The responsibility to be genuinely grateful awakens a flame within humans.
Glenville Ashby has not written this book to malign other therapies but rather to give a counterproductive approach to enlightenment and creativity. The ideas in this book, supported by views from Buddhist principles and Christianity, will force readers to do a thorough audit of their lives. It calls for a shift in practice and thought. The book is well written and inspiring. It is a useful tool for one who seeks to put themselves on a path to true happiness and fulfillment. To live authentically and unencumbered by travelling back and experiencing the magic of humans’ true essence, the soul.
Quality of life is dependent on the choices one makes and the things they focus their energies on. Achieving self-actualization is a great place to start in seeking to live the best life possible. Anam Cara: Your Soul Friend and Bridge to Enlightenment and Creativity is a necessary audio book.
Listening Length: 2 hours and 27 minutes | ASIN: B01DCHO3XW
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Triple Bagger is the intricately woven story of one man’s experience in a company that takes him everywhere but leads him nowhere. Why did you want to write a novel that took a close look at the corporate world?
After twenty years of corporate career, I felt exactly how you describe: nowhere despite having had everything and been everywhere. It felt devastating, like I had lived inside a me that wasn’t me, and as such wasn’t worth very much to me at all. And I felt a powerful compulsion to write up about that life that had past, above all to try to make some sense of it, of why I had ended up going through with it, hoping perhaps that it would help me see a way forward.
With this novel you are able to once again capture everyday life and put an interesting twist on it. What is your writing process like?
This was in essence the first novel I wrote, fresh from abandoning the corporate world, although it was not the first I published, and I can confess that the writing process was chaos. There were certain difficult large themes I knew I had to treat in the book because they were at the core of what had deeply upset me for years and ultimately broken me. Firstly, I carried out ample research around these themes to convince myself these were rightful themes and that I wasn’t just being mad and imagining that they were. I needed to convince myself that my account was not to be a one sided rant, but that other people had and would care about the backbone behaviours I would discuss. This was the first phase. Yet after setting the grand map, I constantly battled with whether I should punish, absolve or laugh at the twenty years of past life I had drawn in front of me. So there was the tone to think of… Next, there was the problem of feeling in the detail without making it too dry, too boring or too close to the truth… I definitely didn’t want to take myself too seriously!
I felt that the story had a lot to say about the loss of oneself within the complexities of ladder-climbing and the desire to succeed. What were the morals you were trying to capture while writing your story?
There were a few. Firstly, to beware that in corporate elites we are often chosen not for the strength underlying our ambition but for its vulnerability, in that it inculcates a fear in us of not succeeding which can make us more pliable. Secondly, to resist corporate life when it looks to uniform us, shape us around a common fiction spelling our superiority and fuelling a fantasy around our limitless ability. To fight becoming dependent, to fight growing a fear of anything outside what they have taught us. Thirdly, to question the relentless drive and the virtuosity of endurance preached in corporate life. And finally, to never let work turn us into a robots. Whatever we do, never to let our emotions be turned off.
What is the next story that you are writing and when will it be available?
Caro M, is a short novel exploring the hurricane-like devastation unwavering love is capable of. In it: a woman, alone but for her dog, shares memories with her old tesoro; a wife trusts her sweetheart psychiatrist blindly through her divorce; and a young girl lands a fairy tale wedding soon to turn into a nightmare her cousin yearns to fix. I guarantee you it’s immersive, witty, tender… It will be available October 2017.
A book about identity and… management consultancy! ‘Epic, a wonderfully interesting reading experience, ‘ DeAndra Lupu @unbounders. Meet Vittal. He is a self-and-dad-made man carrying his family’s expectations on his shoulders. He has landed a vocation to work for the most renowned, most secretive, highest-priced, most entrusted, most detested organisation of all times. Vittal should be happy, or maybe frightened, after he is told that he will work with people with an unusual quality of character and, with time, he will become those people. When he meets Peter who reeks of success like a true world shaper, Vittal clings to the saving idea that he wants to become him. But as he climbs through stages at Enterprise over the next decade, life loses its meaning and he grows into a swinging smudge of mortality that advances and retreats with his employer’s tides. He is lonely, surrounded by emotionless, manipulative schemers, under a haunting fear that someone somewhere may be happy and it will never be him. And by the time Lucy arrives to discombobulate this sorry state of affairs, Vittal has become like the others, numbed, out to reach something he does not understand anymore. Lucy won’t be able to save him nor him her from Peter, from Enterprise. He won’t be able to save Peter or Enterprise either. And five years later, Vittal thinks that writing his story for Nuria can rescue him. It might, but not in the way he had thought! Triple Bagger is a story about being enslaved in a world of emotional unavailability and whether vanity, fear and control could be a shortcut to happiness; a tale of shredded life in three acts: Desire, Discipleship and Demise. It treats themes around collective faith and individual identity, stability and disintegration, the sane, the insane and who decides. Parallel to the main narrative there are reflective letters between Vittal and his editor Nuria discussing why we write, to leave a trace, out of revenge, or for redemption. There are as well as visual short passages of hotel encounters between two unknown lovers. The novel is ultimately about whether one person can make the difference when they live up to being that person.
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Elizabeth Antonucci’s Fractured details the author’s own revelations and strides toward bettering herself both mentally and physically. Her idea for the book stems from a car accident which cost her dear friend his life and almost took her own. Antonucci, a successful entrepreneur in the world of theater, begins her story with details of the car accident and the ensuing trauma that brought her closer to those around her. Throughout the book, Antonucci touches on several intensely personal events from her teen through young adult years which ultimately helped her evolve into a young woman who has learned to find peace, satisfaction, and happiness within herself.
Elizabeth Antonucci’s life seems equally filled with tragedy and victories. For every horrific experience she has had, she has been able to triumph. The basis for her book, the accident which took her friend David’s life and so greatly altered her own, draws the reader in during the first chapter. Antonucci has done a wonderful job of engaging the reader in a conversational style of writing and is straightforward with her descriptions of the accident, her recovery, and the therapy that followed.
The writing of Fractured itself appears to have been a type of therapy for the author. As I read, I could feel the cathartic effect it had on Antonucci. She gave herself many permissions, and, as she says, she “spoke her truth.” Antonucci reveals a past riddled with body dysmorphia and a life-long struggle to find her own voice. As a young woman making her way successfully as an actress and entrepreneur, she spends many years finding it easier to be others than to be herself.
As a mother and a woman who battled anorexia in her teens, I thoroughly appreciated Antonucci’s candor regarding her addiction to diet pills and the long uphill battle she faced tearing herself from them. There is no sugar-coating the impact dieting had on her both mentally and physically. She clearly expresses her hope that her words will find their way into the hearts of her readers. I believe she has more than accomplished her goal.
Romantic relationships are yet another area about which the author bares her soul. More men and women than we would all care to admit are involved in emotionally abusive relationships. Antonucci was one of those women. Remaining attached to a boyfriend who controlled her every move changed the dynamic she had with her own family and, ultimately, changed her as a person. She relates a genuine account of how she overcame that obstacle with her father’s gentle words and guidance.
It is difficult to find anything lacking in the author’s personal account of her life-changing events. The introduction was powerful, the conclusion drives home each point Antonucci strives to make throughout the retelling of her life and the many revelations she has had. Her chosen style of writing makes this an easy recommended read for anyone who finds him or herself faltering on the road of self-discovery.
Pages: 258 | ASIN: B072M3TYXG
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The Perfect Teresa follows a 43 year old woman that has hit rock bottom and is given a 2nd chance at high school by an ancient Aztec deity. What was the inspiration for the setup to this imaginative story?
I think we all have those moments we wish we could go back and re-do for whatever reason, whether it be an embarrassing childhood experience or something you wish you’d done differently as an adult. Of course, none of us can go back and do anything over, at least not without something completely absurd and fantastical happening. That’s really how this story came about. The “what if” question was, “What if there was some way, some kind of cosmic intervention that would allow someone to go back in time and re-do an experience?” And, yes, I’ve thought of what I’d do in a situation like that! So little by little, the pieces began to fall into place, and authors like Christopher Moore and Jenny Lawson really helped me to see that sometimes the most absurd things made the most sense. So, yes, an unemployed Aztec deity sending a woman back in time to do a talent show over again? Makes perfect sense to me!
Authors can often fudge the details in time traveling stories, but I felt that the 80’s was captured perfectly in The Perfect Teresa. What kind of research did you do to get it right or did you pull from experience?
So I guess I’ll date myself and say that a lot of the stuff in this novel is from experience and memory because I did attend high school in the late 80s! It was a fun process to re-discover 1988 New York City, and it involved everything from getting back in touch with childhood friends through Facebook, to doing lots of searches on Google Images and Google Maps. My old buddies really helped me piece together our old neighborhood (like remembering the Susan Terry store on the corner of Ditmars and 31st Street), while Google Maps helped me walk through some old haunts and rediscover old landmarks. The other big part of this process was music. I love music, and in 1988 I was really big into the underground metal scene. So just being able to put these playlists together and listen to these old metal and 80s pop songs really helped me situate the story. You can find a YouTube link to this unofficial soundtrack for the story on my website!
Teresa’s character is intriguing and well developed. She can’t move forward and is trapped in this sad, drunken life where happiness eludes her. What was your inspiration for her character?
Thank you! In some ways, Teresa embodies a lot of the self doubt and self sabotage that I’ve had to overcome throughout my life. But in many ways, her character was inspired by Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day, which I think is the one of the great stories about personal redemption through service to others. Like his character, Teresa starts off very unlikeable, very self-centered, and, as you said in your review, unwilling to take accountability for her actions. She’s got a long history of dumb, self-destructive tendencies, and she never wants to acknowledge that this is why her life is in ruins. But I wanted her story to be about self-discovery, and about realizing that her selfish actions have real consequences for others. So like Murray’s character, she has to learn through this new experience that there are things more important than a silly talent show, and that there’s real happiness in providing help and happiness to others. I hope that by the story’s end, we find her journey plausible and redeeming.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m working on two projects. One is a new time-travel sci-fi series tentatively called Quality Jones and the Time Keepers. But I’ve also started work on the sequel to The Perfect Teresa, titled The Perfect Vicente. I’m hoping to publish one of the other by the end of the year!
Lucky for her, an unemployed Aztec deity applying for Quetzalcoatl’s Trickster Department offers to grant Teresa her wish. He’ll send her back to 1988 to re-do the talent show! Catch? There’s no catch! After all, he’s a fully licensed deity with a Masters in Temporal Displacement Theory and a bachelors in Trickster Sciences and Cosmic Mischief. Besides, a talking coyote can be trusted, right?
For Teresa, it seems like the chance of a lifetime. But she soon finds that changing the past won’t be as easy as she thought, especially without Wikipedia. And that in a desperate effort to make her life better, she might end up making things much, much worse.
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