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Learning To Balance Darkness And Light

Author Interview Patricia Leavy

Shooting Stars follows an author that meets the love of her life and realizes she must face the trauma of her past before they can live happily ever after. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

There’s an expression “hurt people hurt people.” Sometimes that isn’t true. Sometimes people in great pain are able to love others in extraordinary ways, and they only hurt themselves. That’s what I wanted to explore. I wanted to look at how people with both visible and invisible wounds can love each other unconditionally, and how in turn, that may help them heal.

Tess starts off confident but it is a facade, as that shell breaks away she transforms into a stronger person. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Tess is my favorite protagonist from any of my novels. In many ways, she’s an aspirational character. She’s enormously talented and successful, which has afforded her an enviable life on the surface. She’s also deeply kind—she sees the humanity in each person and treats others with grace. Despite all she has going for her, she’s haunted by trauma survived in her childhood, and for a long time she struggles to find any genuine happiness. While the details may differ and be more traumatic in Tess’s case, I think many of us carry deep wounds. So often people see our highlight reel on social media and may have a false sense of our lives, when in fact we may be struggling. So as I developed Tess, I wanted to peel back the layers, from what we see on the surface, to what she’s really dealing with on the inside.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

For me, this is a story about learning to balance darkness and light in our lives. It’s also about the healing power of love in all forms—romance, friendship, love of art, and love of community.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I fell so completely in love with Tess, Jack, and all their friends that after writing Shooting Stars I wrote 5 more novels based on these characters, for 6 in total. Each novel takes place about a year later—so it follows the characters for about 7 years. Each novel has its own story and theme; however, the collection as a whole also has an overarching narrative. It’s an epic love story about balancing darkness and light so that we may ultimately live in full color. There’s romance, laughter, tears, and some unexpected twists and turns. The title is Celestial Bodies: The Tess Lee and Jack Miller Novels and it comes out June 1. I’m so proud of it. Truly, of all my work it’s what I love and revisit the most. Reading it is a bit like being wrapped in a big hug. Here’s the amazon link: https://tinyurl.com/4c5nrtvc

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook | Website

Tess Lee is a novelist. Her inspirational books explore people’s innermost struggles and the human need to believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Despite her extraordinary success, she’s been unable to find personal happiness. Jack Miller is a federal agent. After spending decades immersed in a violent world, a residue remains. He’s dedicated everything to his job, leaving nothing for himself. The night Tess and Jack meet, their connection is palpable. She examines the scars on his body and says, “I’ve never seen anyone whose outsides match my insides.” The two embark on an epic love story that asks the questions: What happens when people truly see each other? Can unconditional love change the way we see ourselves? Their friends are along for the ride: Omar, Tess’s sarcastic best friend who mysteriously calls her Butterfly; Joe, Jack’s friend from the Bureau who understands the sacrifices he’s made; and Bobby, Jack’s younger friend who never fails to lighten the mood. Shooting Stars is a novel about walking through our past traumas, moving from darkness to light, and the ways in which love – from lovers, friends, or the art we experience – heals us. Written as unfolding action, Shooting Stars is a poignant novel that moves fluidly between melancholy, humor, and joy. It can be read entirely for pleasure, selected for book clubs, or used as supplemental reading in a variety of courses in communication, psychology, social work, sociology, or women’s studies/gender studies.

Shooting Stars

When Author Tess Lee met Federal Agent Jack Miller by chance, the two experienced what many consider love at first sight. The couple became inseparable, and nothing made them happier than to be together. They soon introduced each other to their friends who all agreed that this was a match made in heaven. After a whirlwind romance, the couple gets married. Jack soon discovered that Tess had been traumatized as a child, and the only thing that helped her overcome her trauma was Jack’s love.

Shooting Stars, written by Patricia Leavy, is a beautiful love story about the true value of love and friendship. Tess finally allows herself to love and be loved when she realizes that Jack will never hurt her and will always be there to protect her. Jack soon learns that Tess would not have become the person she did become had it not been for her close friends, who came to know and accept her just the way she is. Life is complicated, and if we can find someone to help us through the tough times, we can consider ourselves fortunate.

In addition to being a love story, it is a story about survival and resilience. Tess must learn about trusting her chosen family and herself. This novel is about healing and overcoming your past to keep it from stealing your future happiness.

I love Patricia Leavy’s succinct and easy-to-read writing style. Each character is introduced individually, and the reader learns more about their background, allowing you to connect with the characters. A few surprises are woven into the plot, which makes the novel more interesting and adds a new dimension to Tess and Jack’s relationship. Anyone who reads Shooting Stars will experience the importance of treating others with dignity and respect.

Shooting Stars is a heartwarming literary fiction novel about finding love, learning to trust, and discovering what it means to live. Anyone that enjoys a feel-good romantic story will find this novel hard to put down.

Pages: 155 | ASIN : B08THRSHPX

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Farm Boy, City Girl: From Gene to Miss Gina

Farm Boy to City Girl is a unique, historical retelling of Gene’s (Miss Gina’s) discovery of their sexuality across decades. What makes this LGBTQ+ biography truly special is that it’s told in 3 parts – Farm Boy (1931-1949), Transition (1950-1959) and City Girl (1960-). Instead of getting just a glimpse of what life was like for LGBTQ+ people several decades ago, or in current times, we get what is truly a rare treat – following Gene’s (Miss Gina’s) story through many very important shifts in society and its acceptance, understanding the rights surrounding the LGBTQ+ community. 

Farm Boy to City Girl is essentially two life stories connected by a transition. It begins with Gene’s life growing up on rental farms in Iowa during the depression as a strict catholic farm boy. It’s here that we get an understanding of not only the time period but of Gene’s family life and how that eventually plays into the story of his sexuality and the struggle he has with acceptance. From there we enter the transition years, where Gene moves to Cedar Rapids and eventually St. Louis, which is where he begins to fully accept his sexuality and gender identity, exploring gay bars and drag shows, lovers and friends and ultimately begins living his life in the city as Miss Gina. Life as Miss Gina is suddenly put on hold after a sudden death that sends him back to Iowa to live on his family’s farm and face the difficult family drama that waits for him there. Gene eventually returns to city life in Cedar Rapids and St. Louis and dives fully into his identity and life as Miss Gina, through the ups and downs of what faced and continues to face LGBTQ people in the Midwest. We see just what courage it takes to live unapologetically in a world that will do everything to make being truly yourself harder.

I absolutely loved the rare glimpse into what it meant to be gay and gender-fluid in the 20th century. We get so many stories of what it is to be LGBTQ in our modern day but rarely do we get to see a story that not only sheds light on the depression-era 20th century but also every era between then and now. My only issue is that the first part (Farm Boy) can be a little difficult to follow as there are lots of names being thrown around given Gene’s large family, but if you take the time to flip back to his explanation of the family tree in the very beginning of the book it becomes easier to grasp who he’s talking about and how they play into the story and the family as a whole. Overall, this is such an important book.

Pages: 260 | ASIN: B088JVPBJ5

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The Turmoil of Future Existence

Charles R. Reid Author Interview

Charles R. Reid Author Interview

The Philosophical Future discusses the social and psychological challenges facing people in the 21st century. Why was this an important book for you to write?

Man is of course a creature of needs, which are easily misunderstood and in a confrontational world often taken by the individual as absolute imperatives. Violent actions and reactions, and more broadly aggressive behavior in general, tend to satisfy only, and too often, wrongly perceived needs of an instant. Long-term consequences are imprudently ignored. But it is too late as a rule to correct the mistake.

To avoid this familiar trap, nothing avails save the self-aware use of individual will — a learned capability — to survey each situation as it arises, and then rationally decide on and carry out a plan of action (including non-action) suitable to the circumstances. In an overly crowded world, and given today’s climate of festering person-to person and group-against group hostility, however, nothing appears to succeed other than violence or a threat of it. Whatever deprives the “other” of his ability to remain a self-respecting combatant can be employed. This wholly negative world view leads down an unsustainable road — in fact to social chaos.

Calls for meaningful change fall on mostly deaf ears. They do not convince. Nonetheless, the burden for positive change rests with individual minds. Such social unanimity as does occur is forced, and unless or until enough self-discipline takes hold in individual minds, and without coercion, this millennial consummation seems just as probable as another..

This book was written with such global issues in mind. Its significance lies in the message which it conveys to minds honestly aspiring to achieve a personal knowledge of what they may expect to encounter in the way of social, psychological, and moral trials in years to come.

You have an M.A. from the University of Wisconsin and an Ed.D. from the University of California, and you taught at many different schools. How has this experience helped you write this book?

Teachers, much akin to dispensers of religious doctrine, today more than ever share a burden of communicating to students more than mere facts or supposed facts originating with cultural authority. The effective teacher has also himself both learned and understood the “material” of his lessons. Even so, automatic transfer from one mind to another is a misconception. Not all learning experiences can be summed up in this formula. Even the substance of what there is to be learned erodes in this migration.

The basics of language and social skills can of course never be taken for granted. This includes all knowledge that can be reduced to a common parlance, including number, letter, names, places, dates, and even some rules of interpersonal behavior. The tyro can usually master this domain with aid from a teacher who himself studied and retained not only the rote aspect but some of the life-value of its content. Still, more than ever beyond this one needs certain more fundamental elements to make his way in life.

Most individuals, sadly enough, while they do achieve a grasp of these lesser aspects of behavioral competence, fail to move past them. Even many teachers may not learn to question themselves, to seek beyond their already memorized data base to explore the deeper significance of being human. For all further, higher knowledge, the kind needed to live with meaning, though built on a firm foundation of “the basics,” requires a yet greater step, and the true teacher recognizes this. All such higher knowledge demands a learner, as well as his teacher, who together strive for genuine understanding — so that each of them in the web of his own experience questions both himself as well as the “why” of things, basic and abstract alike.

I think this book does a fantastic job of delivering complex ideas in an understandable and meaningful way. What do you hope readers take away from your book?

To those whose developing interests include a genuine curiosity about conditions of life over the longer tomorrow, and assuming they are looking for an unvarnished view of today’s global scene, with some adumbration of what lies ahead, this book aims to provide some, but not all, and never absolute, answers. It is not indeed a prediction but an advisory. It deals only with the possible, in an age of few if any certainties.

Most young people, but also readers in general, tend to live on two levels of thought: On one hand they have a vision of society as some kind of mechanical entity; its fundamental workings go on at a comfortable distance; unless one becomes caught in their legal entanglements, they can be ignored. On the other hand, when society calls on them as individuals to participate actively in its formal activities (such as jury duty), thought and intelligence must be brought to bear; even so, the passive state of mind dominates. Typically (even in the jury room) one follows the herd.

For this typical reader this book then cannot help but sound a wake-up call. Neither mechanistic nor presumably-more active approaches to life in society in fact suffice. Knowledge of the whole and of its salient moving parts and of one’s own capabilities for adaptation to the turmoil of future existence — these will be key to genuine success in the art of living.

Where do you think society is headed and what can an individual do to ensure they are successful in that future?

The question of where society is headed and how it is likely to get there cannot be answered without giving thought to the individual’s plasticity of character and his motivations as a moral being. If individuals en masse pay no heed to what serves the common good, then the way forward becomes rife with predictable social decline. But this view overemphasizes the dark side. Neither man’s overall world outlook nor his web of relations in a complex environment ever reduce to a simple unidirectional pattern, at least in the short run.

History reveals one singular truth: In its gradual development, and often without conscious control, society “fixes” some problems, analyzes others without acting on them, and simply ignores those it cannot deal with. So we cannot rationally envision either a future utopia or dystopia. There is no end-point. The real wild card remains the “average” individual’s capacity for directing his powers either to improve the common good along with his own sense of social stability, or to give way to mental and moral negation, with destructive results in society.

Men are not prisoners of history, as is often claimed. But there is just so much any generation can do in a practical sense to unleash itself from on-the-ground conditions and the relatively passive state of mind it inherits. Revolutions come and go, yet underlying capabilities cling to their natural limits. The process is slow, unseen, and does not involve conscious volition other than to a limited degree. So the likeliest condition of society a century hence, barring an atomic or planetary disaster, will represent in essence only a repetition in substance (though not in detail) of what have been the commonplace evils of our time: over-population and consequent mass poverty; ever increasing global hysterias; police-state governments; continued lack of education and subsequent bewilderment over how to live a meaningful individual life in a complex and demanding environment. The true individual may disappear as this process works itself out. Yet fortunately, his eventual reappearance cannot entirely be ruled impossible either. And how this unresolved dichotomy is then resolved will make all the difference.

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This book surveys the breadth of mankind’s postmodern malaise, which is achieved through a discussion of the major challenges, social and psychological, which every individual faces in the effort to live fully in the twenty-first century. These challenges lay in broadly familiar domains: self- and group-consciousness; common man and his place in a future society in which mental activity dominates; work and leisure; knowledge and values accruing from it, both for self and others; possibilities in education; civilization, with its “Dark Age” phenomena and its dreams of progress; the role of the past in contemporary life; and power, both in society and within the sovereign individual who, though bound by physical and intellectual limits, functions as a seeker after the freedom and self-fulfillment which are so wholly integral to the human condition. And finally a serious question: What fate awaits the perpetual non-conformist, whose views, however unwelcome in his own time and in a contemporary environment, may in fact anticipate future living conditions?

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The Warrior Teenager: Let Go of Self-Sabotage & Embrace Your True Power

The Warrior Teenager: Let Go of Self-Sabotage & Embrace Your True Power by [Fernandez, Mary Lynne]

In this world where everything is fast paced and competitive, one can feel a little overwhelmed. They can feel lost in the crowd. They can feel like they are drowning in their inability to measure up to society’s expectations and standards. It is not easy. It is not ideal but it is what it is. There is nothing more to do than equip the future generations with the skills to ignore all the news. The wherewithal to see the standards but not bend to them. The ability to understand that the only standards worth measuring up to are ones set by one’s own self.

Mary Lynne Fernandez, with her extensive experience and brilliance, seeks to do exactly that with this book. She seeks to guide teenagers through life. To arm parents with tools to efficiently and successfully navigate the mucky and turbulent waters that is parenting to teenagers. She seeks to shine a light on this depression and suicide epidemic. She seeks to weed it out. She seeks to ensure teenagers seek help before they seek the noose. The only way to achieve this is by harnessing one’s own true power. To embrace and overcome. Suicide is not the way out. Staying alive to fight and exorcise those demons is.

The author has done an excellent job of appealing to her demographic. She does not tell the reader to just get over it. She outlines practical steps with passion and affection. Her delivery and presentation are powerful. She lays a strong foundation for her message with vivid writing that uses simple but powerful language. She is not looking to provide answers but rather a road-map to realization. The subject matter is relevant, relatable, and rings true. She has addressed the conversation in a sensible and sober way.

I think this book is aimed at two demographics. The first is the teenagers, of course. They need to understand just how stacked the deck is and how to play the game. They need to understand the truth about the world they live in. Parents of said teenagers will also find this book useful. The author does a good job of addressing both generations. I felt that she understood and appreciated the different situations and thus successfully speaks to both parent and teen.

This book is inspirational and useful by providing ingenious insights that are both practical and applicable. If you go into the woods, you may bring a wilderness survival book. If you’re becoming a teenager you may want to take this book along with you. This book will help you approach your thoughts and passions with fresh eyes. Read it. Understand it. Utilize it.

Pages: 188 | ASIN: B07CSF7PPN

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Looters and Grabbers, 54 Years of Corruption and Plunder by the Elite, 1963-2017

“While Kenyatta initiated corruption, and made it a pastime for well-placed government officials, Moi institutionalized it and made it routine within all ranks of society.”

Looters and Grabbers, 54 Years of Corruption and Plunder by the Elite by Joe Khamisi is a detailed account of the historical and contemporary corruption plaguing the African country of Kenya. It details corruption from the highest levels of government down to average citizens. Each chapter is dedicated to a specific theme of corruption spanning from 1963 to 2017 and encompassing four presidencies; Presidents Jomo Kenyatta, Daniel arap Moi, Mwai Kibaki, and Uhuru Kenyatta.

I started this book thinking there would be some kind of a silver lining at the end, but there isn’t one. What you’ll find is a detailed account of the pervasive corruption that is literally everywhere in Kenya. Time and time again it’s shown how corruption is despised by all but is undertaken at every opportunity. It seems that anti-corruption is the political rallying call, but profit is always the underlying goal.

This is a historical book in that it does describe the rise of four of Kenya’s presidents, Kenya’s independence from Britain, and the development of Kenya’s modern government, but it does all of this with a focus on corruption; from it’s inception into it’s many manifestations in every part of Kenya’s government. One thing that I learned is how corruption in Kenya is not a local affair, but a global enterprise. European, Asian, and Western countries have had their turn profiting from corruption in Kenya.

One thing I did enjoy was how we get to see the country develop, through stories of corruption, into modern times. We go from President Kenyatta who is the first president when Kenya receives its independence from Britain, to president Uhuru who its noted as having a large Twitter following. At one point even mentioning Paul Manafort and his company helping the Kenyan President resuscitate his global image.

This is a good book for those interested in history, African culture, political science students, and most of all corruption. If you’re interested in learning how corruption is instituted, contributed to, and perpetuated, then this book is a master class in delivering specific examples.

What concerned me the most after reading account after account was that, as the author states, these are the corruption cases that we know about, and have been documented or reported on by the media. I’m sure there are plenty more that we don’t know about.

This book is exceptionally researched with a wealth of references. Joe Khamisi has done a fantastic job turning a list of corruption cases into a linear narrative that is compelling and thought provoking.

ISBN-10: 9966192123

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Lessons from a Difficult Person: How to Deal with People Like Us

Lessons from a Difficult Person: How to Deal with People Like Us by [Elliston M.A.T, Sarah H.]

Lessons from a Difficult Person: How to Deal with People Like Us by author Sarah H. Elliston is a guide for those who find themselves dealing with people they find difficult and want to know how they can better communicate and work with them. This book is told from the perspective of Elliston who discovered one day that she was a difficult person.

The tone of the book and the opening story regarding Elliston’s own experience being a difficult person invites the reader to take part in a personal story . This opening section helps the book feel like it is not condescending toward those who are difficult but paints the book as an effort to help those that are considered difficult and offers ways to help with communication in the workplace and in life.

The book opens with a summary of what the book covers, which is incredibly helpful in guides like this because not only does it let you know what you will learn but allows you to find what is most relevant to you. The first chapter was particularly interesting for me because it addresses how difficult people are clueless about what they are doing and who they are. This is important to realize, as it was for me, because a lot of the frustration comes from the thought that difficult people are doing it on purpose.

If you find that you are dealing with someone that is difficult, or have a nagging feeling that you may be that difficult person, I think this book is an important read. Even for students or readers interested in psychology or sociology. While reading this book I came to several realizations, the one stated earlier and I also realized how, when communicating, it is important to remember that we all come from different places and understanding the experience of others can improve the way we interact with those around us. And I think that is what this book is about, understanding the experience of others.

I enjoyed reading this book as it was well written and informative, but what I wasn’t ready for, and was pleasantly surprised by, was how much I was going to relate to the information in this book. This book is about an important topic, but it is written in a casual tone, so it is an easy read. Whether you are a difficult person, or know a difficult person, this book will help you understand each other better.

Pages: 178 | ASIN: B01NCJM76V

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Embrace Adversity

Annella Metoyer Author Interview

Annella Metoyer Author Interview

Dare to Be the Change tells the story of your life and how you overcame adversities to be the change you wanted to see in the world. Why was this an important book for you to write?

It was important for me to write this book to give the readers a glimpse into some of the adversities that women and people of color face in corporate America. More importantly, how to embrace adversity and make it your advantage by becoming the voice for others.

You grew up in a small town in Louisiana, in a time where racism was prevalent in the community. How has your perception changed of that time and place now that you’re an adult? 

I do not feel my perception has changed now that I am an adult. However, as an adult, I do understand the WHY behind why some things happened.

 I found this book to be inspirational and motivate me to help others seek change. What do you hope readers take away from your book?

Since the book published, I have received countless emails, phone calls, text messages from all cultures. The book is doing exactly what I hoped it would do. First, giving individuals a platform to talk to each other about a sensitive subject versus talking at each other. Secondly, it’s an opportunity for each person to tell their own story. And finally, its reenergized individuals to stand up and be the voice in the room.

What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?

My next book Stronger than Fear is a children’s book scheduled to be published late summer 2018. It’s about a boy named Christopher and his dog Loki experiencing bullying by members of their species.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebookWebsiteLinkedIn

 In Dare to be the Change, Annella Metoyer courageously shares the details of her life’s challenges, her family’s dedication to positive change as well as offers hope for readers through her struggles and accomplishments. Starting with the integration of her small town public school, she encounters a life-changing experience that sets her on a path of “being the change.”

Not only did she face the challenges when women were not the voice in the room, but she also did so as a person of color. From coworkers to disgruntled customers’ discrimination, she lived the evolution of attitudes. With each adversity, she became more determined to take the challenge and turn it into an advantage.

Annella Metoyer was blessed to experience many firsts. She was the first person of color employed by a local bank and ultimately became the City President for a large corporate bank. Her journey later took an unexpected turn when she transitioned from employee to entrepreneur.

Dare to be the Change will resonate with anyone that has ever faced adversities. As you read the story, you will rejoice in the strength that Annella finds within to help others and to make this world a better place.

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