Executive Hoodlum: Negotiating on the Corner of Main and Mean by John Costello is a story about the Vice President of Business Development and Government Relations for Microsemi Corporation. He has a number of titles that he has earned throughout his life, from being friends with movie stars and other high profile individuals to being a Golden Glove boxer. You would think with his long list of accomplishments that he came from a fancy upbringing with rich parents and unlimited resources. Actually, the opposite is true. He was raised in a blue collar neighborhood in Chicago. His father was a somewhat violent man with mob connections and his mother struggled with addiction. John overcame quite a bit of turmoil in order to become the man he is today.
This was a very interesting story from the very first page. Knowing that this was a true story made it even more of a page turner for me. I am often intrigued by true stories of people overcoming their personal struggles and hardships to become the people they are. While we all have our own issues we deal with, I find it great to be able to step into another’s shoes and try their life on for a while.
So many people that have a tough childhood and upbringing use it as an excuse to not reach their real potential. Not John Costello. He adapted to the hand he was dealt and overcame it all. It would be tough to find someone that has had it worse in this country. His story is inspiring and makes you put your own issues into perspective and makes you look at how you can overcome them as well! He used the lessons he learned in a very negative world and has twisted them in a way that is useful in the corporate industry he has climbed into.
I found myself chuckling in some places and holding back tears in others. The storytelling was on point and very relatable. In some ways I could see this being an inspiring box office movie. The situations where was struggling to get out of, yet finding himself falling back into those situations. You find yourself pulling for him to break away from those situations, and the delivery of those small moments are so incredible. I started this book a little while before bed and ended up staying up later than I had intended. The story was just that good. I literally struggled to find a point in which I could put the book down. The next morning I was up and trying to squeeze in the time to finish the book between my other priorities.
Executive Hoodlum by John Costello is a great story for anyone that loves to read about people that overcome adversity in order to become a bigger and better person. I think anyone that has a tendency to think they can’t do something because of where they are from should pick up this book and realize that nothing can hold them back if they put their mind to it.
Pages: 261 | ASIN: B075H1HXK3
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The LGBTQ Meditation Journal offers contemplative spiritual adventures to enhance confidence and tranquility. Why was this an important book for you to write?
Your question necessitates a brief history of the Meditation Journal genesis.
Mary Sheldon originated The Meditation Journal concept, back in the mid-1990s. By the end of that decade, three highly successful books of guided meditations had been published, namely, The Meditation Journal, Meditations for the Twenty-first Century, and Meditations on Relationships.
Our first three volumes flew out of Costco and Target stores nationwide, as well as traditional bookstores. We were surprised by their immediate success. For a while, we considered a fourth volume, Meditations for Teenagers, but for various reasons, the book never happened.
Five years ago, Christopher signed on with Laura Baumbach’s MLR Press, a publisher of primarily LGBTQ fiction, and he has subsequently written three novels and four short stories for the Press.
Ever since becoming an MLR Press author, I have thought about an LGBTQ Meditation Journal. In the summer of 2016, at Mary Sheldon’s housewarming party, I asked my non-LGBTQ co-author, if she would write it with me. She said, “Yes!” and soon thereafter, I pitched the book to Laura Baumbach. The publisher greenlighted the project and then blessed us with her amazing Executive Editor, Kris Jacen, as our editor.
When trying to improve any area of our lives, Mary Sheldon and I turn to the real and eternal, namely the spiritual, rather than to the erroneous and temporal, to wit, the material. So, for the both of us, it is organic to improve all of the conditions of our lives with the metaphysical discipline of meditation.
So, it follows that it was important for us to help others help themselves by using the same spiritual approach that we use effectively in our own lives.
But even though the LGBTQ Community was our focus, we were determined to write guided meditation adventures that could benefit everyone, LGBTQ, or not.
I felt that there was a focus on self-love and acceptance in this book. What were some themes you tried to capture while writing?
Yes, self-acceptance and self-love are essentials for healthy, successful living. We both believe that everything made by the Creator originated spiritually and perfectly. And so, Christopher and I ask readers to employ a spiritual perspective when using our meditation adventures. We ask everyone to think of themselves as the perfect, spiritually-created, externalized ideas of the Creator’s making, and not as the flawed material beings reflected in the mirror. Our point of view reflects Divine Science rather than Earth’s limited material sciences.
And, regardless of the current conditions in their lives, we want everyone to know they have value and worth; quite simply, they matter.
After reading this book I felt that my open-mindedness of the world was reinforced. What do you hope readers take away from this book?
We hope readers will open their minds and hearts, and come to an understanding that self-acceptance, love, peace, pride, and dignity are essential. And we want them to know that if these qualities are now in short supply, our guided meditation adventures are one excellent method of enhancing them.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
Christopher and I would like to write The Children’s Meditation Journal.
Of course, winning a contract for such a book is largely contingent on the current book being successful.
Right now, Christopher is in edits with the second volume in his series of Minnow Saint James Metaphysical Adventures novels. It is named The Coming of Beth, and it will be MLR Press published in the first half of next year.
For the fourth in their highly successful series of guided meditations books, Christopher Stone and Mary Sheldon focus upon the LGBTQ Community, offering a month’s worth of contemplative spiritual adventures to enhance confidence and tranquility while inspiring self-acceptance, love, peace, pride, and dignity. Edited by Kris Jacen, the book explains the process of focused attention known as meditation and it offers a simple relaxation technique to induce a meditative state of mind.
Editor’s Note for eBook readers: For those that do look at page counts between print and ebook files, there is a big discrepancy between the print and ebook editions of this journal in PDF format. Don’t worry, you are not missing any content. The difference is that the print version of the book contains space to note several months observations for each meditation.
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The Glass Demon is a supernatural novel that dives into the world of spirits and haunting’s. Why was this an important book for you to write?
I was really into a TV documentary program called, A Haunting. It was about real life hauntings told by the people who lived through them. My goal was to make a fictional story that felt real enough that it could be believed to be based on a true story. I also had just watched The Rite with Anthony Hopkins. I knew I needed to write something that was super intense and scary.
What I liked most about this book was the depth of knowledge of demonology presented in the story. What type of research did you have to do to keep things accurate?
I have several books on true ghost stories and encyclopedias about the supernatural. One such book is: The Encyclopedia of Demons and Demonology by Rosemary Ellen Guiley. I own about 4 of her books. The encyclopedia has profiles on some infamous demons known to plague people’s sanity and also true stories about demonic occurrences. Additionally, I did a lot of internet research about demons, and books on demons, and types and names of demons. It was purely academic with a desire to entertain, but it made me feel like I was on the borderline to receive the wrath of God. Needless to say, research was extensive.
William has had a complicated life. His avoidance of childhood demons leads him to an addiction to booze and pills. What was the inspiration for his character and backstory?
Most heroes seem to be blessed with an infinite amount of strength, courage, and knowledge. My heroes tend to be flawed. William’s journey is meant to be a humbling one. He believes there is nothing he can’t handle; even though he never dealt with his own past. When he walks into this next case he is smug. He’s most likely thinking that he is going to walk around, find someone who doesn’t know he’s dead, tell him to move on, he moves on, William gets paid and then goes home. It turns out to be much more complicated than that.
William is almost foolish in the beginning and doesn’t appear to be someone who can help the Glass family, let alone himself. He is on a slippery slope to self-destruction and then takes on the hardest haunting he has ever had; one that fights back. He’s also used to being the one who is in control. The fact that the demon knows William’s past and he does not takes the ball out of his court. He goes through an intense torture before he is finally able to become a hero and that’s only with the help of the supporting characters. Without them he would have failed.
I also wanted to answer an age old question, why do bad things happen? William went through a lot of bad things, but in the end that is what he needed to become a better person. Most horror stories just want to shock and unnerve you, and the characters are all pawns who can die at any time. William brings a character-driven arc to the storyline that makes this a little more than just a horror story.
Do you have another horror story in the works? Or are you currently working in a different genre?
I did leave this story open for a sequel. I was combining ideas that will bring most of the characters back together to solve an even larger haunted case involving multiple city blocks. I remember reading about a similar event about unexplained hauntings across several small nearby towns. The sequel will share this trait. “If you think one house was bad… try 100.” It looks cool in my head with an almost Hell erupting feel to it, but I have yet to put words on paper. Hopefully one day…
William Corgel is a clairvoyant medium who is hubris, doubts his faith and a heavy drinker who finds comfort in pills. Believing there is nothing he can’t handle he soon finds himself in a home with a demonic presence and the possession of a teenage girl. The demon continually taunts and attacks him while claiming to know William’s suppressed childhood memory centered on his mother.
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Shadow of the Moon follows Special Agent Trakes and Detective Meeker who are sent to a shocking crime scene where a faceless man sparks the beginning of a thrilling investigation. What interested you the most about writing this novel?
This is, at its core, a werewolf story and we all know the werewolf can be extremely violent. I started the story with the vicious crime to establish that part of the werewolf character. A few years ago, I read a novel and I was really disappointed by how the werewolves were described. The story bothered me and I kept thinking, “I can write a better story than that.” Shadow of the Moon is the result of that process and I hope I accomplished what I set out to do. I wanted to tell a story that held true to the idea of the werewolf being a top of the line predator, but I also wanted the wolf to be caring for the family and have a deeper character than is usually portrayed.
This story provides a lot of really great lore and information about werewolves. What kind of research did you do for this book?
Thank heavens for the internet. I did several searches in an effort to build as complete a history for the animal as I could. I wanted the reader to have a little fun and wonder if they just might be out there.
The story takes place in New York. Why choose this place and time for the setting of the story?
Special Agent Trakes is a throwback to the “G-men” of the 30’s and 40’s. She cares nothing about political ramifications and only focuses on getting the “bad guy.” I wanted her to be placed in a situation where she was handicapped and had to develop other strengths. I also wanted the contrast between the city and the country, where the Lloyds live. I wanted Trakes, who is tough and sure of herself to be off-balance.
What is the next story that you are working on and when will it be available?
“Shadow” will be a trilogy at minimum and book two, “Reflection of the Moon,” is planned to be out early next spring.
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A Chronicle of Rebirth: The Magus is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a romance, fantasy, and suspense as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
The Fantasy genre crossing with the romance genre was deliberate. I had always felt as though there could be more books with those two genres mixing. As for the suspense aspect, it was entirely organic. Originally, the project was started by me and then my husband and co-author James joined me. We had never thought of our writing as suspense, but we are happy that we achieved that with our story.
Nelina and the Magus are both interesting and well developed characters. What was your inspiration for their characters and their relationship?
The characters were developed slowly over the years. My Husband developed the character Ru’ark while playing Dungeons & Dragons and kept the character through his years of gaming. Nelina developed as a mix of several of the characters I have played over the years. Their relationship is in part a reflection of the relationship my Husband and I have together. We always love each other and have one another’s back. However, unfortunately neither of us have any magical smoke ability. One other correlation to Nelina and Ru’ark is how fast they fell in love. My husband and I met because I read his poetry online. After talking on the phone, he hopped on a Greyhound bus a few days later and travelled from Maine to Illinois to meet me. The moment he stepped off the bus, he swept me off my feet and kissed me before even saying hello. Well, last August 4th 2017 was our 11 year wedding anniversary, so 12 years in total we’ve been together.
What was the writing process like for the two of you working as a team? How do you toss around ideas and decide on what goes in the story?
Our story goes through a basic brainstorming process, which tends to involve Dunkin Donuts and coffee. At first, as we toss ideas back and forth sort of sketching out the outline for the book, then depending on what chapters call to one of us, that person will write the rough draft. From there we pass the it back and forth, adding things and removing parts until we are both happy with the finished product. The ideas that tend to stick are the ones that fit the story most. We have a simple credo that we write by- it’s all about the story. If either one of us feels that a part of the draft doesn’t serve the story as a whole, then it gets nixed.
This is book one in the series. Where does book two take readers and when will it be available?
In Book two, the readers will learn that Nelina’s promised powers at the end of book one are not quite what the Magus expected them to be. Also, they will be learning what is happening back in Danthamore with the Queen ruling her kingdom without the Magus exercising his influence. Plus, readers will find out what has become of Elian, Adar, and Claire. Malark and the Outlander will definitely be making an appearance in the second book as they journey out of the Waste. I’d love to be able to give a solid date to book two’s release, but I simply don’t have one to give other than in 2018. What I can say is that the book is worked on every single day, barring emergencies and natural disasters. So far, we are half way done with the 1st draft.
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Project Bodi focuses on Google Health and the impact that artificial intelligence has on the future of work. What was your inspiration for this book and why was it important for you to write it?
One day I was driving to San Diego and I had an idea – what if mindfulness meditation can enhance creativity and innovation? Mindfulness is very popular right now with apps like Headspace, 10% Happier, etc. It occurred to me that mindfulness was a way to tap into the subconscious mind and solve the challenges in our lives. I decided to write this book on that drive to San Diego, and I used the same techniques for harnessing innovation to write the book itself, which is why I wrote the book in only 8 weeks. Mindfulness really does enhance innovation, and I have this book to prove it.
Beth and Austin are interesting and well developed characters. What was your inspiration for their relationship?
It’s based on my own experiences in the corporate world. In many companies, the younger, entry-level employees are often ignored and they fall into a void of obsolescence. But in fact companies do best when engage their young employees and set high expectations for them. So the relationship between Beth and Austin is something quite common in the work force in my opinion.
This book has some scary parallels with our current world? Is there anything that worries you about our current level of AI or do you have a positive outlook?
A.I. has the potential to be a bright, powerful force for humanity that can enhance our lives, but there’s no denying the dark potential as well. It will depend on the motivations of our leaders, as described at the end of the book.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
It will happen when the idea comes to me. You can’t force innovation; just like Austin learned, you should let your subconscious mind bring the brilliant ideas to you. Just be patient and it will arrive on its own.
In 2029, Google is the most dominant company in the world. Dr. Bethany Andrews heads the company’s Artificial Intelligence Department and leads Project Bodi, the world’s most advanced Augmented Reality smartglasses that will one day revolutionize the tech space. Her lead programmer is Austin Sanders, a 26-year-old psychonaut who loves Burning Man and electronic dance music. Together they embark on a life-changing journey to design the product of the decade, and along the way they discover the mind’s inner source of insight and innovation.
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In Lucy Meets the Family a kitten is brought home to meet her new family and has a hard time adjusting. What was your inspiration for this second book in the Lucy’s Tale series?
The reaction our existing pets had to Lucy’s antics when we introduced her to our family, helped bring Lucy Meets the Family to life. The first time Lucy encountered the litter box, she jumped in it and started digging until all the litter was on the floor. She made a huge mess! This appalled our older cat, who watched her with a disgusted look on his face. Later, Lucy jumped up on the kitchen counter, which prompted our Jack Russell to bark until Lucy got down. And then there was the time Lucy decided to take a nap on the dog’s bed. Our Greyhound whined until Lucy finally moved. All our pets play together and even sleep together occasionally now. But there was a period of adjustment for everyone.
What do you think is one of the hardest things to adjust to when bringing home a new pet?
Trying to make the new pet comfortable and feel welcomed in their new home, while remembering to be patient with the established pets. The established pets may exhibit bad behavior and/or need extra attention until all the animals find their place in the family.
I loved the image where Lucy drops drops a doughnut on the floor. What was your favorite image from the book?
That is one of my favorite images too! Another one of my favorite images is towards the end of the book, when all the animals are playing together.
What will book three in the Lucy’s Tales series be about?
Lucy will, once again, finds herself getting into mischief as she tries to help the family prepare for Christmas day. Lucy’s First Christmas will be released later this year.
Lucy is a small kitten who recently found her forever home. But when she is introduced to the family she discovers not everybody is excited to meet her. Lucy finds herself getting into mischief as she tries to figure out her place in her new family.
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To Never Know depicts the story of Steven and how he is affected by his life choices and forces beyond his control. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
The story is loosely based on the time period I was in high school up until the time I reached my mid-twenties. I always wondered what life could have been like had I taken more risks when I was a teenager. I was in Florida at the time of 9/11 and right as it happened, I wondered if any of my friends or acquaintances had been affected. There was no Facebook back then so it was more difficult to keep in touch with old friends and classmates at that time. The idea became a story which I felt should be told regarding love, loss and the importance of taking risks in life. You never know when it will be too late to reach out to someone. Therefore it is so important to make good choices today and always follow your heart. As I wrote the novel, I explored the notion of reaching out to someone who lost a daughter in 9/11. I believe this storyline made the novel more powerful. I hope the reader will be moved.
Steven is an interesting and relateable character. What was the inspiration for the main character’s traits and dialogue?
This character is all me. He speaks like me and acts like me especially during the time period the book is set in. I have changed considerably in some respects but most of the dialogue and traits I carry with me to this day.
What were the morals you were trying to capture while creating your characters?
The moral of the story is that we must move forward and learn from our mistakes. We will make mistakes but we can’t beat ourselves up over them. We must try to value the beauty of life and take pleasure in the little things. I have a fascination for the minor details of life. In the end of this story, lives have been transformed due to the events that took place during the course of the novel. I want people to come away with a feeling that anything is possible if you are just willing to take risks in life.
What is the next book that you are working on and when can your fans expect it to be out?
The next book is called The Separation and is a sci.fi. book. It was supposed to come out in late August but due to the passing of a friend, I couldn’t make the Booklife contest I wanted to enter so I delayed the release to late November. It will definitely come out then. Expect to be moved. It’s a very thought-provoking story.
Steven Lewis is a young man with no concrete plans for his future after school. For a short time during high school, he wanted to ask a girl named Kelly out on a date but never had the courage to do so. As his life is taken in a different direction than he had hoped, he holds on to the thought of actually getting to know Kelly. Even after several years pass, he is determined to find her again. His quest to know her leads him to a tragic discovery. When he meets her mother, Emily, his life will never be the same. This is a story of love, loss and hope. It is an unforgettable personal journey about the quest for happiness after tragedy.
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Mademoiselle Alice tells an intimate tale that takes readers on a personal journey through life and love. What was the inspiration that made you want to turn Alice’s life into a story?
I spent three years writing a history book called Alice & Eiffel, A New History of Early Cinema and the Love Story Kept Secret for a Century. As soon as I finished it, my girlfriends said: “We want a novel!” Alice wrote a memoir that is very cryptic, only 120 pages. I felt that she had a lot of secrets which she alluded to, particularly about her father, her experiences at the convent, and her relationship with Eiffel.
Why did you choose to write the novel in the first person?
When I started the novel, I spent several months writing Alice’s story in the third person, but it felt distant. I felt like I was flying over the rooftops, getting an occasional peek through a crack in the curtains. The novel didn’t start to come to life until I switched to first person and told it from Alice’s point of view.
Being basically kidnapped from her grandmother’s home at four and then being dropped off at the convent at six were the heartbreaks in her childhood that most captured my imagination and sympathy. Then of course when her father died when she was seventeen, that was the coup de grâce for her. In her memoirs she began with “My destiny was no doubt traced before my birth,” and I think she was referring to the early connections between her father and Eiffel since Eiffel really did go to Chile the year before she was born.
Alice Guy Blaché was a pioneer with so many accomplishments. What was the one thing that surprised you the most about Alice?
The biggest surprise was that although Eiffel was wildly successful and a very attractive person, Alice is more compelling. I think the story-telling gene that she developed was a result of her early experiences and not a function of ambition to make it in the movies which did not exist when she started.
The first film she wrote and directed, La Fée aux Choux, remains iconic in symbol and mystery. In one minute she tapped into the deepest themes of human experience: romantic love, sexual attraction, and family. We know it when an artist touches that chord, cuts to the core of something deep.
The temptation with a biography of a famous or accomplished person is to stack up their achievements in an intimidating tower. You can do the same thing with Eiffel. Would you like to read about all forty of the bridges he built culminating in his famous tower? That has been the outline of all the biographies about him. They don’t get close to the real person.
What kind of research did you have to do to maintain the historical accuracy of the book?
I look up all kinds of quirky things. It is not at all efficient, but you have to cast a very wide net. I read French and American newspapers from 1890s through the 1920s, and it is surprising what you run across, such as a column entitled “What makes a woman charming?” The old newspapers reflect how people thought back then. The phrase “gender roles” wasn’t coined until 1955. In Alice’s time, being a wife and mother were a woman’s duties, not roles she chose. The “old maids” were viewed as having missed the boat of life.
What is the next story that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am working on scripts for Mademoiselle Alice. I think it would make a good television series starting with the California Gold Rush. Many people came from France to California during that period and I believe Alice’s father was among them. Everyone wonders how Alice was able to do cowboy and western films. I think it was in her DNA.
A deeply evocative story inspired by real events: the love affair between two unforgettable people—Gustave Eiffel, the builder of the Eiffel Tower, and Alice Guy Blaché, a pioneer in the art of cinema. Mademoiselle Alice steps out of the shadows into the reader’s mind as an endlessly intriguing and entirely relatable young woman. Told through Alice’s eyes, we get to know her, her family, and Monsieur Eiffel. Eiffel is not looking to fall in love—he is a widower who has everything—wit, wealth, fame, and brilliance. He was a friend of Alice’s father who died when she was seventeen, and the story she tells of falling in love with him is funny and emotionally intimate. Alice and Eiffel forge an enduring romantic and intellectual bond. But while she wants to marry him, he refuses because he is so much older than she is. Out of her desire to have a family, she marries a handsome Englishman and travels to the United States, where she works with D. W. Griffith and then opens her own film studio. Some of her emotional experiences find expression in the scenarios she writes for film. Her relationship with Monsieur Eiffel continues on in her mind and leads to some surprising developments. Mademoiselle Alice tells us much about women’s lives during the silent film era in France and the United States. Combining a biographer’s knowledge of her subject with the novelist’s gift for narrative, Janelle Dietrick has crafted a novel that will capture the interest of every reader.
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