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How To Bust A Player

How to Bust a Player is a romantic novel filled with humor. This entertaining novel follows the story of three friends, Myisha, Rochelle, and Shalece, as they contend with the messy side of relationships. Throughout their years of marriage and dating, they have come to know that unfaithful men are just a part of the game. That is why they learned how to bust a player, and now they’re teaching you. The novel is a spin on the 90s film, How to Be a Player. If you enjoy books with themes like Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man: What Men Really Think About Love, Relationships, Intimacy, and Commitment, this book may be for you.

Author Jerri Smith-Baker starts the story with background information on how men and women operate, particularly in sexual and intimate relationships. The provocative language used in the book is not for the faint of heart. However, Jerri is blunt and honest with her descriptions and assessments.

The story’s plot is captivating, and I wanted to know more about these women and their stories. I found myself connecting with Myisha, Rochelle, and Shalece because they are hard-working women who have had bad experiences dating, and at the end of the day, they are there for each other. I felt like I was reading a play, especially the way the author sets up each of the women’s backstories for the reader.

How to Bust a Player follows three women who experience love, lust, and disappointments, but at the end of the day, they are strong women who just want to be in a committed relationship. I recommend this book to those who want to enjoy a story of friendship and the trials and tribulations of relationships.

Pages: 192 | ISBN: 145209716X

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Morgan wanted out. After spending her childhood with her abusive mother, alcoholic father, and successful sister, she wanted nothing more than to carve her own path in life as a film director. Likewise, Alayna wished to have a picture-perfect family, even if it meant putting her dreams of singing behind her. Separated by the trauma of their past and brought back together by the death of their mother, these two sisters want nothing more than to move on with their lives. But that’s easier said than done, especially when home means old ghosts are lurking around every corner.

Inspired by the music of Lana Del Rey, author Zachary Ryan tells the compelling story of two sisters trapped by circumstance and family ties as they try to right the wrongs of the past in his newest novel, Ride. The story itself is a beautifully written tale of trauma and healing. As the chapters flip between Alayna’s and Morgan’s perspectives, the reader is welcomed to the full scope of the story and both sides of the sister’s harsh upbringing. In this gripping book, Ryan doesn’t stray away from difficult topics such as suicide and drug abuse but accepts them as a brutal part of life. His willingness to discuss both the good and the bad brings the story to life.

Zachary Ryan tells a narrative that makes it hard not to feel genuine sympathy as you watch the sisters work their way through old ghosts and drudge up long-buried trauma. He writes the story in a way that allows you to bury yourself under the words. With the exception of a few jarring jumps between past and present, this book was a captivating and smooth read, and I found it hard not to put it down.

Ride is a compelling women’s fiction novel about the strained relationship between sisters and the struggle to work through past trauma. Readers will be taken on a journey of self-discovery and reflection as the sisters heal from their upbringing and find a way to move forward in life.

Pages: 341 | ASIN: B0BKYHV2PT

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Fearless by Paula Dail is a book adapted from a real-life story. It revolves around Maggie Corrigan, a 17-year-old Catholic girl who’s the eldest of seven children in South Chicago. Oppressed by patriarchy and religious boundaries, this is an empowering tale of a woman who survived nonetheless. When she is faced with the choice of either marrying and bearing more children or joining the Convent, her choice is clear. Maggie instantly realizes that she can’t possibly raise more children, and since the cause of her mother’s death was extensive childbirth, she decides to dedicate her life to God. In the turn of events, when the wider women’s movement takes control, Maggie openly stands up for women’s reproductive rights in a male-dominated society, and that’s when people realize that Maggie Corrigan is truly fearless. 

Paula Dail has written an incredible masterpiece that is one of a kind. Fearless is an empowering book that is guaranteed to wake the feminist inside you. The fact that it is based on a real-life story makes it even more special and inspiring. Dail has written amazing characters that are fun to read about. Dail’s ability to write vivid details, a realistic setting, and lovable characters made this book easier to visualize.

The protagonist, Maggie Corrigan, is a strong-headed female character who’s seen as a Saint by some and a heretic by others. She is seen surviving in a patriarchal society where she is oppressed and bound by religious obligations, but that doesn’t stop her from voicing her demands. Maggie’s fearlessness and strength to stand up for women’s reproductive rights are applause-worthy and a source of inspiration for several young women around the world who are stuck in similar situations.

Fearless contains an important lesson: no matter the circumstances, if someone is dedicated and courageous enough, they can use their voice to stand up for their rights and succeed. This stirring book is an emotional roller coaster and contains an amazing message.

Pages: 388 | ASIN : B0B5B8Z36G

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What Lies Beneath

Marion Ehrenberg Author Interview

The Language of Dreams explores the relationship between a psychologist and her patient and the ethical quandaries they face. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?

The relationship between a psychologist and patient is unique and intentionally focused on the client; the psychologist reveals very little, if anything, about her personal life. There are good reasons for this; the sessions are all about the patient and only the patient, unlike any other relationship in the client’s life. The client need not worry about overburdening the therapist, a feeling she might have when leaning too heavily on a friend, for example. The client also doesn’t have to be careful about offending the psychologist.

For example, in a friendship, a person might refrain from expressing her fears about getting the COVID vaccine because she knows that her friend is pro-vaccine and feels said friend appears harsh and judgmental in her attitude. We might not say things in a friendship for fear of conflict, out of worry about losing that friendship, or concern that it will just make one’s problems worse. My experience is that most patients find it a great relief to be able to speak freely to their therapist.

The psychologist as a “blank slate” is essential for the all-important “transference” process; with time, the patient projects her feelings and attitudes rooted in other relationship experiences—often the family of origin—onto the psychologist. The psychologist knows this and can gently and skillfully work with the patient to shed light on the family-of-origin dynamics that tend to be unconsciously repeated and don’t serve the client.

For example, an adult abandoned as a child may—very understandably—mistrust everyone and, therefore, miss out on trustworthy relationships that would help them heal and thrive. Or they might err in the opposite direction, trusting everyone too quickly and being hurt again. The psychologist, who is not known personally to the patient and is certainly not going to abandon them, is armed with therapeutic skills and is in a perfect position to help the client. In the comfort of a safe relationship, the client can grieve losses experienced in early relationships, recognize realistic signs of who should and shouldn’t be trusted, and learn that reliable connections can exist.

So that’s the theory. But things are messier in real life. It’s normal for the client to be curious about the psychologist. At times, the patient may find it quite unfair, even threatening, that the psychologist knows so much about her and they know nothing about the psychologist. Young Clare, in The Language of Dreams, feels this way. The psychologist is human, too; I try to make that point in my story. The therapist may be preoccupied with her issues and may make mistakes that blur the boundaries between the psychologist and the patient, like the psychologist Avery did in my story.

Many years of experience in psychotherapy practice and training young psychologists are the inspiration for the boundary problems that arise immediately between Avery and Clare. I tried to take things to an extreme to make a point about how boundaries can become blurred between psychologist and patient; after all, just two human beings in the same room. I imagined the worst thing that could happen in a highly charged first session between a seasoned but personally preoccupied psychologist and an angry young client mandated into treatment. And so, in the first chapter, Clare barges into the psychologist’s private bathroom (which the psychologist forgot to lock) and snoops around to find Avery’s two negative pregnancy tests in the trash can (that the psychologist should never have done at her place of work and then discarded there). Suddenly, Clare has usurped the unfair power dynamic she perceives in her relationship with this shrink. She has discovered the middle-aged psychologist’s Achilles heel; Clare is clever and intuits that Avery wants a baby, and it’s not going well. We aren’t surprised that the therapeutic relationship is a rollercoaster ride from the beginning. Now, what???

Avery and Clare are intriguing characters. What were some driving ideals behind their character’s development?

Clare is an angry young woman who steals stuff, taking what she pleases because she feels entitled. On the surface, she isn’t likable and seems a bit like a spoiled brat. Stealing gets her into trouble with the law, which lands her in Avery’s office, much to Clare’s chagrin. But what lies beneath Clare’s defensive façade? As the story unfolds, Avery discovers glimpses of Clare’s pain, her talents, and her potential for change. Even as a seasoned and skilled psychologist, Clare is Avery’s toughest customer. Maybe the reader will like this young woman a little or a lot. It might depend on the extent to which the reader identifies with Clare. Perhaps, we shouldn’t accept the outer crust of a person as their whole story.

The poised and caring Avery is an experienced professional who always follows the rules. On the surface, her life looks pretty good. But she is missing the one thing she wants the most; a baby and the fullness of family she lacked growing up. Like Clare, Avery is haunted by her past. At first, the reader might be disappointed by Avery’s acceptance of her fate that a baby is not in the cards. Can Avery rise up? Can she conquer the fear that holds her back?   

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

A key theme in The Language of Dreams is that the story lets the reader into the private world of psychotherapy. Beyond an engaging story, the reader experiences some of the remarkable things that can happen between a skilled therapist and her client. Readers of earlier drafts of The Language of Dreams consistently felt a sense of hope when they read some psychotherapy scenes; I felt good about this, and it made me realize that encouragement can be felt in authentic yet fictionalized accounts of psychotherapy.

The second theme in my story is this; the client and the therapist are both vulnerable human beings. Therapists need therapists, too. Ideally, what the psychologist learns from processing their historical hurts—and we all have them—can make them better therapists. However, I don’t want to overstate this because the psychologist must also be well-adjusted, have insight into themselves, and seek consultation immediately if they feel things are not going well with one of their clients.

A third theme reflects my absolute fascination with the potential of human transformation. Yes, people can change; they can become calmer, more insightful, and more resolute. Growth and transformation can occur in psychotherapy, but that’s only one avenue for human change. The non-verbal agents of change are as important as the verbal exchanges in The Language of Dreams. My book explores how dreams can help us to connect with our unconscious. Clare is an artist and a lucid dreamer who paints her dreamscapes in search of clues about her lost parents. Avery found refuge in ballet during a difficult childhood, and her return to the creative outlet of dance and movement as an adult becomes essential to finding herself again.

What was one thing that excited you the most about writing this book?

I have spent most of my professional career writing non-fiction, such as published papers about research studies or how-to chapters for clinicians. I do not downplay the importance of research studies and practice papers. Yet it was so refreshing to write a story with a plot! It was exhilarating to return to my love of literature and roots in creative writing, to throw myself into coursework and learning experiences, and to write my first novel. I am passionate about creative writing that has the potential to raise awareness about mental health and offers authentic accounts of what happens in psychotherapy; all of this is embedded in an entertaining story rather than a textbook. #MentalHealthFiction #TherapistsAreHuman #WitnessTheExcitingArcsOfHumanTransformation

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook | Website

Twenty-two-year-old Clare Thomas Lane begins therapy by court order, not by choice.Clare is sure that she doesn’t need the help of a shrink. Clare’s fortysomething psychotherapist, Avery Frontiera, doubts her own ability to connect with this prickly young shoplifter. As Avery and Clare begin their sessions, each woman faces a major life crisis. Clare grapples with an unwanted pregnancy; Avery struggles with a fractured marriage and unrealized hopes for motherhood. Both are haunted by dark family secrets.The strict boundaries between psychologist and client are blurred from the first session, and although Avery struggles to regain control over the tumultuous therapist-client relationship that unfolds, she manages to get past Clare’s defensive shell and bond with her most vulnerable self. Guided by the insights of their therapy sessions and their dreams, Avery and Clare must uncover the shocking truths of the past to face the crises of the present and walk into the future transformed.

No Limitations

Anne Harding Woodworth Author Interview

Gender explores gender roles through two compelling stories that are told in an engaging mix of free verse, form, and rhyme. What inspired you to write these stories?

Who knows where ideas come from when there are no limitations to what you can do with them? A poem, or a plot, seeps into my consciousness unbidden. But there it is. For “Martin/Martina” I pictured a woman of the 11th century dressed in finery and lying in a glass coffin, remembering her past and acutely aware of 21st-century life surrounding her in the chapel where she lies. I place her resting place somewhere in a Mediterranean area, perhaps something like Orta San Giulio, a beautiful lakeside town in the north of Italy. When my husband and I were there, we visited the island out in the lake where in the basilica the remains of San Giulio lie in a glass casket. I extrapolated from that and invented Mother Martina’s glass coffin, gave her a voice, and let her speak, as her past played itself out.

I used to live in Athens, Greece, where I heard about St. Marina, who gave me the idea of Martin/Martina. Marina dressed as a young man and entered a monastery. S/he was accused of fathering a child. That was the inspiration for me to create a story about Martina’s life as a man and father. Near the church of St. Marina in Athens, there is a cliff where pregnant women or women who wanted to be pregnant or did not want to be pregnant or wished for a safe delivery, used to slide down in hopes their prayers would be answered. As Martina lies in her coffin, women pray in a similar manner to her.

At the time we were in Orta, sainthood was being sought for Padre Pio, and his face appeared on the blank exterior wall of a building. That may easily have been considered a miracle. That gave me the idea to have Martin/Martina’s face appear on a wall.

As for the inspiration behind “Aftermath,” I started out with a poem that compared an apocalyptic band of survivors to a beehive. But things changed quickly in my mind, and I invented my own society. I didn’t want a “queen,” though the weavers, or females, as in a real beehive, seemed like the most important of the tripartite group. Builders were asexual beings, and the Fennel Men were the sexual ones, but where the fennel part of it came from, I really don’t know. It just seemed rightly erotic to have a fennel bulb dangling down from the waist of these men.

In today’s world many of us think about the destruction of our planet or at least our way of life. Climate change is going in that direction, as we witness tremendous flooding, wildfires, rising oceans, to name a few of the causes that might be behind a future apocalypse.

What were some challenges you set for yourself as a poet with these stories?

The challenges were the craft of poetry. I knew “Martin/Martina” would be free verse, with Father Ralph providing the occasional contrast with his rhymes. I wanted to make him likable, albeit eccentric.

In “Aftermath,” after writing the introductory poem in terza rima, I just couldn’t stop myself from wanting to rhyme. The story just kept begging me to rhyme. I used all kinds of rhyme schemes in order not to get tied down to anything predictable, and I hope it works.

As for challenges for both stories, I wanted to make them “almost” believable to readers. I want readers to believe that Mother Martina in her glass coffin really is a sentient being whose experience spans a thousand years. I want her story to be moving. I want Martin as father to Dino and friend to Bronwyn to be true. I want metaphor to occur to a reader. When Bronwyn says to Dino, “A father who has nothing of the mother in him is not a real father,” I hope the reader sees how gender should combine in all lives. One could easily say, “Gender Does Not Matter.”

What are some poets or poetry that you feel inspired this collection and you as a writer?

Well, in a small and in no way comparative sense, Dante inspires me a lot, which is why I began “Aftermath” with terza rima. I majored in Italian in college, took lots of Latin in high school and college, and have read quite a few stories in verse, not to mention the books we all grow up with as children.

Cormac McCarthy’s book The Road was not a favorite of mine, and I have to confess I enjoyed parodying it in a sort of book review I wrote some time ago, “The Book Reviewer’s Diary.” But the idea of apocalypse that McCarthy explored is of great interest to me.

Two fiction pieces of verse that drew my attention were Brad Leithauser’s Darlington’s Fall and Vikram Seth’s The Golden Gate. These books prompted me to write my first novella in verse in 2008, Spare Parts.

My favorite poets are, though this is not by any stretch a complete list, nor is it in any order, and who knows if their work has influenced me?: Emily Dickinson, T.S. Eliot, Walt Whitman, Lucille Clifton, Ilya Kaminsky, Hayden Carruth, Ada Limon, Langston Hughes, Carl Sandburg, Ellen Bass, Edward Hirsch, et al.

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

I am working on a New and Selected. After eight books of poetry and four chapbooks, I would very much like to bring a few poems from each together in the same volume and add some of those I’ve been working on lately.

I just finished a chapbook-length manuscript in verse, The Spare Parts Saga, which is based partly on the U.S. Postal Service, as we know it today. The main character of the chapbook, which is a novella in its own right, is my novella in verse from 2008, Spare Parts.

Author Links: Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Website

In Gender, the sexes are everything.

Anne Harding Woodworth has brought together two novellas in verse that share a look at the role of male and female. In Martin/Martina a young woman dresses as a man, is accused of fathering a child, and as the boy’s father, raises him. In Aftermath, a member of an asexual group-among three survivor groups that have formed after cataclysm has destroyed most of civilization-becomes pregnant.

Two not dissimilar landscapes set the stage for these stories, somewhere in (perhaps) a Mediterranean place of the eleventh century, as well as one of today and of the future. Regardless of time frame, the atmosphere in both novellas lures us into lives of sex, parenting, labor, confusion, and friendship, all in a mixture of free verse, form, and rhyme.
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