“The Gift” by Rebecca Hubbard Book Tour & Raffle

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The Gift by Rebecca Hubbard

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  • Paperback:62 pages
  • Publisher:CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (July 23, 2015)
  • Language:English
  • ISBN-10:1515181839
  • ISBN-13:978-1515181835

ABOUT THE BOOK

All eleven-year-old Pip wanted was a best friend. When Pip gets a horse for her birthday, she’s delighted. She thinks that the horse she names Buck will be her best friend from the moment that they meet. But she finds out that friendship does not come that easily.

Pip’s father gently guides her so that Pip can discover for herself how to make Buck a true friend. Pip’s new friend, Buck, has a story of his own. After leaving his own herd, to move to Pip’s house, he is looking for a relationship that will help him feel safe. He, too, learns that making a friend takes patience and understanding.

Told from the perspectives of both Pip and Buck, The Gift is a heartwarming and valuable lesson about friendship, trust and love that will appeal to a wide variety of readers.

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AND NOW FOR SOMETHING SPECIAL

Character Interview with Pip’s Dad

What was it like for you to watch Pip struggle to make friends with Buck?

Unfortunately, I have had a lot of practice with watching someone I love struggle. Pip’s mama was diagnosed with cancer when Pip was three years old. I watched her fight for her life for two years and watched Pip grieving her loss. It was excruciating to see them both hurting so much and to know there was little I could do. That experience more than anything else, taught me that I cannot take away someone else’s pain, and the only thing I can do is control own emotions.

It’s hard for me to hear how hard things are for Pip and see her confused and upset. I don’t want her to experience any more pain in her life. Losing her mama is more than enough pain for a lifetime. When Pip was smaller I hated to see her cry. The sound of it caused my heart to break. When she was little I did almost anything I could to keep her from crying. That meant I did a lot of things for Pip that maybe she could have done herself. Pip’s mama always said, “There’s no harm in struggling. The harm is in struggling alone when you’re a kid.” I always try to remember that since she isn’t here to remind me.

The truth is it is still hard to see Pip cry but I do things differently now than I did then. I realized that by doing things for Pip I was keeping her from learning. Not only learning how to do things but learning about herself. Pip is a smart kid but she is short on patience. I reckon the way to build patience is to have things that try your patience. But it is hard to watch, that’s for sure. I know it’s my job as her dad to be supportive of her so she has what she needs to be successful in life. I could have gone down to that pasture and worked with Buck myself, but if I did that Pip wouldn’t be any closer to a friendship with him. If you want a friend you have to make a friend yourself. Nobody can do that for you, no matter how hard it is.

Did you worry that it might not be safe to allow Pip to interact with Buck alone?

 No, if I were worried about that I would have never done it. Horses are pretty good at taking care of themselves. The way I see it, if they feel unsafe in a situation they usually run. Unless a horse has been hurt by someone or has something wrong in his brain, he will run if given the chance. If they can’t run for some reason or feel that running isn’t going to solve the problem then they might strike out with a hoof kick or even bite you or run you over. That horse of Pip’s has a good head on his young shoulders. He just hasn’t had much handling, that’s all. I have no worries about Pip’s safety.

What made you give Pip a horse for her 11th birthday?

 I promised Pip’s mama that I would get Pip a horse when Pip was old enough. I think I probably waited too long, eleven is kind of old. I was worried about how hard it would be on Pip and I wanted to protect her. I guess I will always want to do that. Something about your child losing a parent makes you even more protective of them. I wanted to make sure she could handle the feelings I knew would come up and the challenges having a horse would bring. I never worried about the responsibility part of it. Pip is a responsible kid. She gets herself up in the mornings and she does her chores, but she has a hard time hanging in there when things get tough. I knew she was ready to learn how to be responsible for Buck and her eleventh birthday was the perfect opportunity.

How do you know so much about horses?

 Honestly, I don’t think I know that much about horses. My family had a few horses on the farm where I grew up. One of those horses was Kink, a black horse my daddy won in a bet. Kink and I became friends. My daddy and I had a few arguments about how I should treat Kink. He said I should show him who was boss. That just didn’t feel right to me. So I set out to have the kind of relationship with Kink that I wanted. I learned a lot about life from Kink. He taught me how to see things from another set of eyes. When I’m working with a horse, and trying to figure out what to do, I just ask myself what I’d want if I were him.

Do you think Pip’s friendship with Buck will help her throughout life?

 I strongly believe that Pip’s friendship with Buck will help her in many ways, like learning how to pay attention. Paying attention to things is important and that horse is really teaching her how to do that. In this world, paying attention to things is half the battle. If you can pay attention to what you are feeling and thinking then that’s good. If you can do that and pay attention to what someone else might be feeling and thinking then that’s even better. As Pip grows up with Buck they’re going to learn a lot from each another. That friendship will teach her things that friendships with people just can’t.

Like what types of things?

 Well, Buck is teaching Pip how she presents herself to others and what that tells them about her. He is also teaching her how to control her body, her feelings and the intensity of her feelings. From Buck, Pip is beginning to understand her impact on others.

I try to help Pip understand that inside each of us, and all around us, is energy. I think that’s important for her to understand because that’s how animals understand us. For example, when a mountain lion is hunting he has an intense focus on his prey and a strong desire to kill it but on the outside he appears calm. A horse doesn’t pay attention to the outside calm. He feels the intensity from deep inside the mountain lion. That’s the energy he’s responding to when he takes off running so he can keep himself safe.

Horses are very good at noticing when the outside of something and the inside of something don’t match. You can’t feel really angry and pretend that everything is okay and expect a horse to come to you. They won’t. They can feel the anger that’s inside of you in the form of energy. The outside of you isn’t matching the intensity on the inside of you, which makes them even more suspicious and wary of you. Buck is helping Pip understand her energy and the importance of her inside and outside matching.

You know how people are really good at taking something until they can’t take it any longer? It’s confusing for kids for an adult to accept a certain behavior for a long time then one day start hollering at them because the adult is sick and tired of it. Well, horses don’t do that. If they don’t like something from the start they let you know. They might let you know in a small way at first but they’ll keep showing you until you understand that they don’t like it. Horses are real honest and that helps us learn things from them that’s hard to learn from people.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

 Yes, just one more thing. I hear people say that horses are magic because peoples’ lives change from being around them. Believe me, it isn’t magic; it’s hard work. Really getting to know a horse and seeing him as an equal partner in your friendship changes your life. It changes how you communicate, how you interact with others and how you see the world. When you stop trying to control someone else and just control yourself things go much better for everyone. Sometimes you have to help horses learn that they can control themselves, but heck we have to teach our children that too. Relationships with people can teach us the same things if we let them. But most of us won’t let that happen with people. I suppose that’s because people hold on to things and horses give us more opportunities to do things over without bringing the past into it.

Rebecca Hubbard Author Photo 2

ABOUT REBECCA HUBBARD

Rebecca J. Hubbard is a master’s level Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with over twenty years of experience working with children and their families. She began writing short stories as a child for her own amusement and enjoyment. Rebecca discovered that she could facilitate the healing of her young clients by writing stories for them.

Currently, Rebecca works at Spirit Reins as a clinician and as the clinical supervisor where she practices Natural Lifemanship, ™ a Trauma-Focused Equine Assisted Psychotherapy™ model.

Rebecca is a native Texan, who enjoys spending time with friends and family, including her two dogs, Idgie and Sully, and her two horses, Cash and Cloud. She also loves to read, paint and garden. Rebecca encourages readers to connect with her via her website and Amazon Author Page.

 

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Stacy Harshman and Beamer, The Headstrong Lamb

I’d like to welcome Stacy Harshman, author of Crowning Glory, back to my blog with her special story of Beamer, a headstrong lamb.

Stacy Harshman and Beamer Photo

Beamer

Last year I saved Beamer, one of my best friends from death.

Beamer is a sheep.

After a period of severe depression last year, I moved from New York City to work and live on a therapeutic working ranch community in Vermont.  I needed to be around people and have a meaningful schedule, every day. While I worked on many jobs with people around the ranch the being that opened my heart the most was Beamer

I went to the pasture and hung out with the little bottle baby. He loved being around people. Due to a traumatic birth Beamer had big, bulging eyes and was knock-kneed. But he was a lovable goof. He and I would cuddle together in the field, basking in the sunshine. I was in heaven. This was the best therapy.  One day he put his head down and started backing up like he was going to charge me. I yelled, “Beamer!” and he stopped.

All was well for a while, but then he did it again and this time he rammed me, full force, right in the knees. I had to kick him away.  Then I ran away, over the fence.

Beamer had a botched castration and his hormones had taken over. He began to ram everyone and chase the lady sheep.  I wanted to be exempt from his aggression since we’d spent the summer and fall bonding, but he rammed me just like everyone else. I felt sad that my sweet little sheep wasn’t my friend any more.

The night before the ranch was going to “send him to auction” which meant slaughter, I found out and was heartbroken and responded.

 I’ve heard many accounts that Beamer will be sent to auction soon … maybe even tomorrow.  I find this upsetting on many levels.  

 I know your point of view is that an animal on a farm must be productive.  So, with this mindset, Beamer has no place here.  I disagree with that.  I know spending time with him has calmed and cheered me in a way that was not possible from other people.  That has great value.  

I also believe that a strictly utilitarian philosophy for the farm and the animals here is not in line with the greater mission of the Ranch– which is to help people heal and recover through working together.  The farm should support that mission, not that of a commercial farm, and shipping Beamer off to slaughter without having a discussion will cause distress. I know he has been ramming people, and I understand that is definitely a problem.  But I don’t think this issue is being dealt in a creative, respectful or open manner.  

 I know I am not alone with this.   I just haven’t had time to organize peoples’ voices and since I heard, late tonight, that Beamer will go to auction tomorrow I would not be at peace with myself if I didn’t speak up right now.   

I ask you not to send Beamer to auction tomorrow and open up a dialogue.

My letter worked.  Beamer was given a new home, complete with his own harem of lady sheep.

ABOUT STACY HARSHMAN:

Stacy Harshman recently relocated from NYC to Vermont where she currently works on a therapeutic farm. After a Midwestern childhood in a family of designers, antique dealers, and equestrians, Stacy traveled extensively before finding a home in New York City, which she still maintains.

Always driven toward creative expression, Stacy writes fiction, memoir and essays, and has written and recorded five albums of original music.

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Her passion for color and pattern led to the launch of Andarina Designs, a custom lighting design company. Stacy is inspired by women all over the world, working in community partnerships to produce beautiful and sustainable work. Currently, her favored form of expression is mixed media painting-collages. She devotes her time to animals and to the healing arts.

Stacy invites readers to connect with her on her website and on Facebook.

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Guest Post by Stacy Harshman, Author of Crowning Glory

Stacy Harshman, author of Crowning Glory shares her creative process.

Stacy Harshman Author Photo 2

I’m very kinetic when I create, whether it be writing, painting or making music. When I get inspired, I feel the creative, kinetic idea and energy inside my body. It is a tangible feeling. When I have this feeling, I know I’m going to create something that speaks to me. I might not even know what it is, but I follow that feeling and work until the art on the outside matches/satisfies the feeling I have on the inside.

For example, I’m very inspired by color. I create paintings on glass with dried pressed flowers, special glass paints, and encaustic wax.   I can become completely inspired by the colors in a flower and then I create a palette of paints and waxes around it. Once I have everything ready, I let loose and play. The way I paint is very fluid and playful. I actually pour the paint onto the glass and let it move around and morph into different shapes and blend with other colors. Then, I add flowers and wax and keep building form there. I know when a painting is done. I can feel it. I can also feel when I’ve over-painted it! There’s a fine line!

Stacy Harshman Original Artwork

It makes me happy to create. I feel like it completes something inside of me. When I am anxious and feeling ungrounded, creative expression is what I need. I bring something into the world and then can share it with others. It’s a way of connecting with myself and the world.

ABOUT STACY HARSHMAN:

Stacy Harshman recently relocated from NYC to Vermont where she currently works on a therapeutic farm. After a Midwestern childhood in a family of designers, antique dealers, and equestrians, Stacy traveled extensively before finding a home in New York City, which she still maintains.

Always driven toward creative expression, Stacy writes fiction, memoir and essays, and has written and recorded five albums of original music.

Her passion for color and pattern led to the launch of Andarina Designs, a custom lighting design company. Stacy is inspired by women all over the world, working in community partnerships to produce beautiful and sustainable work. Currently, her favored form of expression is mixed media painting-collages. She devotes her time to animals and to the healing arts.

Stacy invites readers to connect with her on her website and on Facebook.

UPDATE!

7/18/2016

What an honor and terrific prize! I won an original painting by Stacy Harshman and I LOVE IT!

Geri Stacy Harshman Artwork

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Crowning Glory, Stacy Harshman’s SOCIAL EXPERIMENT

An exciting interview and book you’ll want to read!

Crowning Glory by Stacy Harshman Book Tour BannerPlease tell readers a bit about your new book, Crowning Glory:

Crowning glory is a book that is a social experiment combined with a memoir. It started when I bought a long, red wig one late night on eBay. When I put the wig on, I felt transformed into a fiery, sexy and bold woman. When I wore the wig out into the world, people reacted to me very differently. Men and women both stared. One man threw his briefcase down on the ground, kneeled and asked me to take him home with me. I got a lot of attention. And I admit I loved it. I started wondering what it would be like if I had the same long hair, but different colors. How would I feel as a blond or brunette? How would people react to me?

I decided to find out and concocted a 5-week long experiment where I would live the life of a redhead, a blond, a raven-tressed woman and brunette, plus the last week was me with my own hair. I even hired an accomplice/spy to accompany me at all times and record data, like stare stats. The book is about the experiment and the adventures my spy and I have along the way, plus it is the story of my struggles with bipolar disorder and how the experiment helped me heal in ways I couldn’t have predicted.

Your book is certainly a unique one! How did you come up with the idea?

Wearing the initial red wig out and about in Manhattan and getting so much attention gave me the start of the idea. I was amazed at how different I felt — fiery, confident, and fun – which was a huge change from how I had been feeling. I had been fighting a long bout of depression, and this wig wearing was a weird miracle. It helped me feel good and gave me energy.   I decided to do the experiment out of curiosity and also give myself a steady structure and focus.

I was wondering about how I would feel and how people would react to me wearing the same wig but with different hair colors. As I pondered the idea of doing some big hair experiment and writing about it, I walked under David Letterman’s “Late Night” marquee and realized that people do “Stupid Human Tricks.” That was all the encouragement I needed!

What would you say was the most important thing you learned from your experiment?

To avoid comparisons with other people. That’s a hard thing to do. It’s cliché, but if you are jealous of someone then try to improve yourself in those areas you covet, but do it for yourself.

I’m proud of myself for doing the experiment. At the time, I was in a deep depression and a great deal of social anxiety. I needed something drastic to pull me out of it. I was isolating and stuck in my apartment and head. The experiment and spending so much time with my spy/assistant was a big challenge for me. It might sound like a simple thing to do, but it took guts on my part. I had to go against all the internal messages of “No way! I can’t! I won’t …”   I found out I was stronger than I thought. I needed the support, structure and friendship I found in the experiment. That helped me heal.

So, sometimes throwing yourself into something new and scary, even playing dress up for a month straight, can lead to unforgettable adventures and experiences that show you who you really are.

What did you learn about other people?

Other people are affected by your appearance. You are judged by your appearance. I think once someone gets to know you that judgement lessens as they see the bigger/deeper picture of who you are.

What did you learn about yourself?

I’m affected by my own appearance! I judge other people by their appearance, at first, too. I think we all do, on some level. I try to drop that judgement as soon as I have it and have an open mind.

During the experiment, I judged people less and opened up to others much more when I started to feel better and more confident about myself.   I think any negativity or criticism I felt towards others stemmed from the fact I wasn’t happy with, and didn’t have confidence within, myself. I was afraid of being judged “unworthy’ or deemed “unwanted.”

I see from your website that you’re not only an author; you’re an interior designer, an artist and a musician. Tell us a little about each of these aspects of your life:

Well, the writing manifested in “Crowning Glory.” I also have a play called “Portraits of Vivienne” which is right on the verge of being finished. I just have to dive back in and figure out the ending! I also have a children’s book in the works, called “Blub Blub the Baby Blue Whale.” Bulb’s quest is to let the world know about the noise pollution in the ocean, which severely hurts whales and other aquatic mammals.

My music adventures began when I first arrived in NYC, back in 2002. I wrote, played and recorded five albums of music. I mainly sang, but also accompanied myself on keys, which I played out with my guitar player. I had many fun and challenging experiences.

During my interior design career, I sold antique tribal rugs and also created a lighting design company. Sourcing the rugs and then selling them was so much fun for me. I really appreciate, admire and love handmade beauty that has a history. My love of it and enthusiasm carried over into my customers. They were thrilled with there finds and grateful to learn about the history and stories their new pieces of fiber art contained.

I also started a lighting company, called, Andarina Designs.   I was inspired by the antique, colorful glass swizzle sticks that I would see in vintage stores. One day, I saw sunlight shining through a bunch of them and though, “I want to make a lamp out of that.” So, I started to experiment and came up with two different lines of lighting. That was a lot of fun for me.   The first lamps were made with original vintage swizzle sticks. Then I discovered that a huge glass rod color palette was already available. Combining colors and making my own palettes was heavenly!

Where the heck do you find the time to do all these things?

I’ve actually taken a break from living in Manhattan and doing all these things. I’m in Vermont now. I volunteer on a therapeutic farm/ranch. For example, today I’ve been planting onions in the garden, and tomorrow I will be taking care of llamas. I still paint and teach people my multi-media technique here at the ranch.

You’re clearly driven. Where does your ambition and drive come from?

I want to make meaningful art and and have a meaningful connection with people. I think that desire to connect fuels my drive and ambition. Sometimes, I don’t feel connected and that is a painful place to be.

Living in NYC must have been exciting, since it put you right in the center of the arts, fashion and entertainment industry.

Well, my life is very different now since I live in Vermont and work on a farm.   I was having a hard time with depression last year, and I decided I needed to move and get help. So, I came to Vermont, and lived and worked on a Therapeutic Farm called Spring Lake Ranch. I don’t live there anymore, but I do volunteer during the week.

How much has your life changed since moving from your hometown in Illinois?

Wow. I’ve had so many lifetimes since then. I’ve lived in Central America, Europe, Canada, New York and now Vermont.

In Illinois, I lived in a very secluded community and didn’t have much news from or dealings with the outside world. Obviously, this has completely changed.   I do feel like my explorations have led me to a small, working community here in Vermont where I feel more comfortable. So maybe I’m still a country girl afterall.

Do you have any new books in the works?

I want to finish my play, “Portraits of Vivienne.” It deserves to be finished.   I’d also love to find someone to help me with “Blub Blub the Baby Blue Whale.” I really feel strongly about educating kids about the noise pollution in the ocean and what it does to whales and dolphins.

What advice would you give other writers who may be sitting on the fence about publishing their book?

Well, I would first work with an experienced, professional editor before you publish. At first, I didn’t want to do it. I thought my book didn’t need it. My book was well-served by doing this. It gives me reassurance that grammatical issues aren’t going to get in the way.

I really wanted an agent to pick up my book. I was disappointed when that didn’t happen, but I think going ahead and self-publishing is the way to go. I think you should get it out there, in whatever way that works best for you. You’ve worked this long and hard – you and your book deserve to be heard!

Stacy Harshman Author Photo 1

ABOUT STACY HARSHMAN:

Stacy Harshman recently relocated from NYC to Vermont where she currently works on a therapeutic farm. after a Midwestern childhood in a family of designers, antique dealers, and equestrians, Stacy traveled extensively before finding a home in New York City, which she still maintains.

Always driven toward creative expression, Stacy writes fiction, memoir and essays, and has written and recorded five albums of original music.

Her passion for color and pattern led to the launch of Andarina Designs, a custom lighting design company. Stacy is inspired by women all over the world, working in community partnerships to produce beautiful and sustainable work. Currently, her favored form of expression is mixed media painting-collages. She devotes her time to animals and to the healing arts. Stacy invites readers to connect with her on her website and on Facebook.

*Author Interview prepared by Susan Barton, eBook Review Gal.

 

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Q & A with Robert Germaux Author of Hard Court

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Why a novel about a private detective?

I’ve always loved mysteries, starting when I read the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books as a kid. As I got older, I enjoyed Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct novels, and eventually I also got hooked on the characters of Spenser, Elvis Cole and Myron Bolitar, among others. When I decided to write my first full-length novel, there was no doubt in my mind that my protagonist would be a private detective.

How would you describe Jeremy Barnes, Bob? 

There’s an old line about people you wouldn’t want to run into in a dark alley. Well, if you did end up in that dark alley with one of those people, JB’s the person you’d want covering your back. He’s a tough guy with a soft spot in his heart for life’s underdogs, and while he’d much rather diffuse a tense situation with his sense of humor, if push comes to shove, he’s more than capable of handling himself that way, too.

Is JB based on anyone in particular?

There’s a little bit of several people I’ve known in JB, but mostly he’s a product of my fertile imagination. Actually, other than the fact that he’s bigger, stronger, younger, smarter and better-looking than I am, we’re remarkably similar

How do you come up with the plots for your books?

It’s a combination of finding subjects I’m knowledgeable about and things I have an interest in. For example, in Leaving the LAW, JB attempts to help a young man who’s involved with gangs at the school where JB used to teach. In the early 90s, I was teaching at a Pittsburgh high school that the local cops called Gang Central, so I had some personal experience with that whole scene.

Why first person narrative?

I can’t imagine writing about JB in any other way. When I write my Jeremy Barnes novels, I’m right there inside his head. At those moments, we’re one and the same. He’s definitely my alter ego.

You’ve said you can’t see yourself ever writing a character interview with Jeremy. Why is that? 

Jeremy exists in the world I created for him, and I’m very comfortable writing about him in that world. But bringing him into this world just doesn’t work for me. It would be sort of like the literary equivalent of breaking the fourth wall in a stage production. I’m sure some authors can pull that off, but I’m not one of them.

Do you have a reading group?

Yes, and the group’s name is Cynthia. As soon as I finish writing a chapter, I give it to my wife. Cynthia knows my characters as well as I do, so I almost always end up using her comments/suggestions.

How important was it for you that Jeremy would have a love interest in the character of Laura Fleming?

I knew from the start that Jeremy would have a woman in his life, a soul mate. The scenes with JB and Laura are my favorite to write, whether they’re discussing one of his cases, talking about her kindergarten kids or just sharing a candlelight dinner at one of Pittsburgh’s hilltop restaurants.

Okay, Bob, last question. Are there other Jeremy Barnes mysteries on the horizon?

I’ve actually written three other books about Jeremy: Small Bytes, Speak Softly and the aforementioned Leaving the LAW. If there’s a demand, I will definitely publish them, too.

Robert Germaux Author Photo

ABOUT ROBERT GERMAUX:

Both my parents were readers. I’m talking stacks-of-books-on-their-nightstands readers. So it’s no surprise that at an early age, I, too, became an avid reader. Everything from sports books (especially baseball) to Nancy Drew to the Hardy Boys to almost anything about distant and exotic places.

Hard Court by Robert Germaux Cover Photo REDUCED  (532x800)Although I’ve always enjoyed putting words on paper, the writer in me didn’t fully emerge until I retired after three decades of teaching high school English. I quickly wrote two books aimed at middle school readers, at which point my wife urged me to try a novel for adults. As is usually the case, Cynthia’s idea was a good one.

Over the next few years, I wrote several books about Pittsburgh private eye Jeremy Barnes. I took a brief hiatus from the detective genre to write Small Talk and The Backup Husband. Now I’m back and I just released my first Jeremy Barnes novel, Hard Court, on April 11.

In our spare time, Cynthia and I enjoy reading (of course), going to live theater productions, watching reruns of favorite TV shows such as “Sports Night” and “Gilmore Girls,” and traveling to some of those distant and exotic places I used to read about as a child. So far, we’ve been fortunate enough to walk in the sands of Waikiki, swim in the warm waters of the South Pacific and share a romantic dinner in Paris.

I love interacting with my readers and getting their input on my characters and stories. Please feel free to contact me via my website.

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Advice for aspiring authors: write!

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Advice for aspiring authors: write!

(From an interview with Julie Tetel Andresen by Linda Lee Williams..see link below!)

If you are a writer, you have a story to tell that you can’t not tell. So, you’re killing yourself if you’re gazing at a television screen, driving around, or doing anything other than writing your story – especially because I know that while you’re doing these things, you actually have the story you’re dying to tell roaming around in the back of your head…and it’s frustrating you.

So, end your frustration and write. Of course, a new frustration will arise, namely the difficulty of actually writing. But this new frustration is better than the old one of not writing.

Your job isn’t to determine whether the story is good enough. Your job is to get it down. (Editors come in handy at this point. I would never dream of working without one.) Julie Tetel Andresen

Fascinating Interview With Julie Tetel Andresen Author & World Traveler!

Love and Happiness by Ben Burgess, Jr.

 

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ABOUT “LOVE AND HAPPINESS:

Karen has it all: a handsome husband, beautiful twin daughters, a lovely home and a great job. Karen also has a secret; she’s cheating on her husband, with not one man, but two.

On the outside her life seems perfect, but on the inside Karen feels neglected, bored and unappreciated. Yearning for affection and excitement, she falls into the arms of first Raheem and then Tyrell. Out of fear of losing her husband and breaking up her family, Karen ends the affairs but things don’t turn out how she planned. When Karen’s dirty secrets are revealed she must fight to keep her family together.

Chris is doing all he can to hold his marriage together. He loves Karen but she grows more distant every day. When she starts coming home later and later, he suspects she is being unfaithful. When Chris accidentally takes her cell phone what he finds changes their lives forever.

When tragedy strikes, Karen must decide if she should sacrifice her happiness for her husband’s love, and Chris wonders if he should stay with Karen because he still loves her despite her infidelity. But if they do stay together, will they ever find love and happiness again?

Sexy and relatable, insightful and inspiring, Love and Happiness shows us both sides of Chris and Karen’s story, and reminds us that sometimes to have it all, you must first lose it all.

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Love and Happiness is a romance story that makes you think. It’s told from both Karen and Chris’s perspectives so you can see where both of their heads are at. Karen is cheating on her husband Chris, with not one man, but two. On the outside, her life seems perfect, but on the inside, Karen feels neglected. Out of fear of losing Chris and breaking up her family, Karen ends the affairs but when Karen’s dirty secrets are revealed,
Karen must decide if she should sacrifice her happiness for her husband’s love, and Chris wonders if he should stay with Karen because he still loves her despite her infidelity.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

Where do your story ideas come from?

My first novel “Monster” was based on my personal life and experiences.

My second novel “Wounded” came about while I was actually working on “Love and Happiness.”

“Ken” from “Monster” makes a cameo appearance in “Love and Happiness.” I didn’t want fans to think I was a one trick pony or feel that my book was derivative so I was stuck with how I would write it.

My co-workers (Who happened to be lesbians) asked me to write a book with a Lesbian protagonist. At first, I thought it wouldn’t be possible since I wasn’t a woman, and I knew nothing about being Gay or the LGBT community. My co-workers decided to
take me to a Lesbian bar. (They took me to the Cubbyhole, which is the first bar I mentioned in Wounded.) After going there with them and talking to the women, I decided to work on the book. To make the book feel as authentic as possible, I did a lot of research. I interviewed fifteen women and five couples, to hear their thoughts, feelings, and philosophies about being a Lesbian, and life. I also used one of my family members as a basis for my character development, so I felt personally invested in creating “Samantha.”

For my latest novel “Love and Happiness,” I used real life relationships as m
y inspiration. I talked to several married and divorced couples. I asked them what they enjoyed and hated with marriage. I wanted to know what they wish they could change or what they regretted not doing. With all of my novels, my goal is to make people think. I want to help people see things from different perspectives to help the world to be more open minded.

Do you have a favorite character?

My favorite character to write would have to be Karen because she was more of a challenge. To write as a woman when you are a male is hard. I did a lot of research. I interviewed close to twenty women, asking them all types of questions about marriage and infidelity. It’s a lot of work to develop a female character as a male author, but I loved showing the different layers of her personality.

Have you always known you wanted to be a writer?

When I was in her 8th-grade class, I read Richard Wright’s “Native Son” I r
ead that book, and it was life changing for me. I knew I wanted to one day write something that could have the same effect on people. Do you remember the first thing you ever wrote? While in 8th grade, my English teacher Mrs. Marcus gave the class a poetry assignment. My poem was on basketball. I don’t remember what I wrote, but I remember my teacher was blown away by it. She encouraged me to keep writing. She was
one of my most influential teachers, and I promised her if I ever wrote a book, I would write a poem about the Holocaust for her. (She was Jewish and had family that were survivors.) My dream was to publish a poetry book. I continued to write throughout high school and college.

How do you work through writer’s block?

When I have writers block, I do several things. Sometimes, I’ll force myself to continue writing. Sometimes, I’ll read a book that is a different topic than the one I’m writing. Sometimes, I’ll take a break from writing altogether to recharge my creative batteries.

What do you think makes a good story?

I think a strong plot with strong dialogue and believable characters help to make a good story.

Do you think most authors understand the importance of marketing their own work?

I think most authors have difficulty marketing their book because there isn’t an exact formula for success with marketing your book. What works for some authors, might not work for another. I try to observe different authors and stick with what I found helped and was effective.

What are some of your methods for self-promotion? To sell your book effectively, I believe it starts with you. You have to talk to all types of people. Personally, I set a goal to sell (5) paperbacks a day to five complete strangers. To sell a lot of books, people have to know your book exists. I search for credible reviewers on Amazon and Goodreads. I also do research on the internet for other well know reviewers. Word of mouth is definitely important, but it can only go so far. I use all of the popular social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, and Pinterest) to advertise. I use press releases, advertise in local newspapers, and enter book contest to promote and spark interests for potential readers and reviewers.

What’s your writing schedule like?

I write whenever I have the time or as soon as I have an idea. I have a Samsung Note 5 so if an idea comes to mind, I literally write it down or use the voice memos to record my thoughts and write them out when I get time. I try to write something every day, even if it’s only a paragraph. I’m a huge perfectionist so I’m constantly editing and re-editing while I’m writing. Once my project is completed, I edit again to try to make my work the best it can be. When I’m writing, I can have music or a movie playing in the background, but I totally zone out and focus on writing. I turn the internet off when I’m working on my laptop because honestly, I usually end up looking at Facebook or checking out stuff on ESPN.

To include my daughter in my writing process, she puts her desk next to mine while I’m writing and practices writing her letters and/or doing her homework.

What kinds of things do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love playing with my daughter. I like doing puzzles with her or playing sports with her. I love basketball and boxing. Those are two of my favorite sports. I love to read of course, and I’m a big movie buff. I love going to the movies and watching all types of movies.

Who would you say has been a major influence in your life?Ben Burgess Author w: daughter

My biggest inspiration/motivation is my daughter. As a parent, I want nothing but the best for my child. I look at her as an extension of myself. I didn’t have a great childhood. My parents didn’t have a lot of money, I was insecure about myself, I lived in poverty, and I missed out on opportunities due to a lack of funds. While my childhood wasn’t the best, I had a great role model – my mother. I watched my mom struggle to pay bills, work two jobs, put herself through school all the way up to her doctorate, and moved us out of the dangerous neighborhood we lived in, into a house in the suburbs. She did all of these tasks on her own. My mother did the best she could to push for me to have better opportunities than she did. She drove me to want more out of myself and to become the best person I could be.

That is exactly what I wish to do for my child. I want to instill in her that strong work ethic and will. I want her to realize that with hard work and dedication, she can do anything she puts her mind to. I want her to see how I juggle being an NYPD detective, personal trainer, father, and author. I love her, and I want to be that positive role model she looks up to like my Mother was for me. Every achievement, every award, every acknowledgment I receive, I want her to understand that I put 100% into everything I do. I pray that it pushes her to be a great person.

Do you ever use friends, family members or acquaintances as character models?

I love to people watch and I’m constantly thinking, so when I observed different relationships I felt this book “Love and Happiness” needed to be written. I felt the story would help both men and women think and that is what I always try to do when I’m telling a story. When I’m developing my characters, I like them to be layered. I don’t want to make perfect characters because no one is perfect. I develop characters that have strengths and flaws because I feel that makes it easier for readers to connect. I put pieces of myself into every character, but I also look at the personality traits of strangers, family, and friends to inspire me for my character development. I like to do research also by interviewing strangers to get different perspectives on topics.

How do you deal with criticism?

There are different strokes for different folks. There will be some that just don’t feel my style of writing or the story I’m telling. In this business, you have to have thick skin, you can’t take everything personal. I listen to constructive criticism that I feel is helpful. As a writer, I try to work on my flaws and improve with every book, but it’s impossible to please everyone. I work hard to write stories I believe a majority of people will enjoy.

What types of books do you like to read? I

like to read Urban/African American Fiction, Drama, and Contemporary Romance. What would readers be surprised to know about you? I think readers would be surprised to know that I’m actually an NYPD Detective.

If you could spend the day with a famous author who would it be?

I would want to spend the day with my favorite author, Eric Jerome Dickey. He was crucial in my decision to become an author. He has also supported me and has given me advice about the literary industry.

How would you spend the day together?

I would probably ask him questions about the industry.

Are you working on anything new now?

My next project is titled “Daddy’s Girl” Which will be a story of the trials and tribulations of a single father raising a bi-racial daughter on his own. The daughter character in this book will be “Lynn” from my first novel “Monster.” Here, you will see her origin, and learn more about her character. After that novel, I will begin working on another book called “Black and White.”

What advice would you give aspiring authors?

There will be lots of times when you want to give up. There will be times when people will talk bad about your book or sales might be low. Never give up. Believe in yourself and believe in your work. Listen to critiques and push your pride to the side. It doesn’t matter how great of a writer you think you are, you can always improve.t of a writer you think you are, you can always improve.

There will be those who will not be fans of your writing, but you should never give up. Keep growing and learning your craft. Edit and re-edit. (*always have your books professionally edited. You want people to take your book seriously and not feel that it is amateurish.) Learn from your mistakes, take classes and read other authors. Research the industry.

Two of the most important things to do are:

1. Find a credible editor

2. Promote, promote, promote!

You have to put your heart and soul into your work. While it will be hard and you will go through trials and tribulations, in the end, it’s worth it when your book is entertaining people and it’s successful.

Ben Burgess Author

 

ABOUT BEN BURGESS JR

Ben Burgess Jr is the author of the award winning novels “Monster”, “Wounded”, the poetry book “Times Have Changed and Life is Strange” and the new novel “Love and Happiness”

He is an active performer of spoken word poetry. Ben uses his love of writing to inspire and influence youths to strive for what they believe in, and to never give up on their dreams. His poetry book “Times Have Changed and Life is Strange” and his novel “Monster” are currently used in schools on the lower east side of Manhattan.

Ben Burgess has a BA degree in Business Management, and a MA degree in Educational Leadership. He is the proud father of his daughter Jaelynn and is active in trying to improve urban neighborhoods and communities.

Ben Burgess Author Award

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Tour media kit provided by Susan Barton, My Book Tour

 

 

My Guest K.N. Smith Author of The Urban Boys

The Urban Boys by K. N. Smith Book Tour Banner

K.N. Smith Author Guest Post

Like authors of any other genre, YA fiction writers can learn many new things if they’re open to the process. One of the keys to a successful book for a young audience is character believability. This is much easier said than done. Imagine spending multitudes of hours crafting a personality out of thin air. What we do is wholly visualize the character, dissecting every single detail about him or her, with the remaining time spent articulating that to the reader. It’s part of the craft that needs a lot of attention, even being worthy of visually sketching-out or pre-determining the characters’ events from chapter to chapter, just to stay on track. Something not to be forgotten is the emotion and passion each character will need in order to bring the story to life.

For me, the reason this post is focused on character development relates to recent reviews I have received, and second, the enjoyable experience I recently had watching the movie Goosebumps starring Jack Black about the adventures of Author R.L. Stine. While reviewing some of my recent reviews, I was encouraged to reflect more deeply on character development in preparation for the next book in the series.

I felt transported to another world just by experiencing the lives of these incredible characters who are so true to life and authentic-feeling, yet unlike any I’ve met before.

When I saw the movie Goosebumps, I was immediately attracted to the excellent character development happening within the scenes. The fear, the excitement, the emotion in those characters was quite brilliant! You could see and feel what they were going through in a very real way. In particular, the “Chump” character was great! He really displayed quite a number of emotions, and was extremely believable.

I love this aspect of writing, and I implore you to dig deep when it comes to developing your own characters. They need to come to life. You should give yourself enough time to really study them, grow them, relate the dialogue to their distinct personalities, and make them believable and real. And trust me, characters have flaws. They have ups and downs, and strength and weaknesses just like you and I. Therefore, if you think about yourself and your own experiences, and those of the people around you, you will have all the backstory you need to create a memorable, lasting, and exciting narrative for your next project. Thank you for allowing me to share with you today, I hope you enjoy the excitement of The Urban Boys!

 

ABOUT K. N. SMITH:

K.N. Smith is an American author and passionate advocate of childhood and family literacy programs throughout the world. She continues to inspire students of all ages to reach their highest potential in their literary and educational pursuits.

An established non-fiction writer, Smith chose the teen fiction genre as a way to enhance her daughters’ (then) high school literary experience, and to engage other youth in literacy development. Her creative literary flair sweeps across pages that twist, turn, and grind through elements of paranormal and action-adventure in diverse, exciting, edge-of-your-seat narratives.

As an ardent supporter of youth and family literacy programs across the globe, she states, “My hope is that The Urban Boys will spark imagination in a wide variety of readers while elevating global literacy efforts. It’s important that we have diverse families of readers for generations to come.”

 

The Urban Boys by K. N. Smith Cover PhotoThe Urban Boys by K. N. Smith Back Cover Photo

  • Series:The Urban Boys (Book 1)
  • Paperback:300 pages
  • Publisher:Two Petals Publishing (September 3, 2015)
  • Language:English
  • ISBN-10:0989474755
  • ISBN-13:978-0989474757

BOOK SYNOPSIS:

The Urban Boys: Discovery of the Five Senses is an action-adventure story about five teen boys who are mysteriously exposed to a foreign energy source that gives them extremely heightened senses. Sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell become hypersensitive gifts that forever change the world. The story chronicles their effortless interrelations and later exposes the testing of their deep bonds. It introduces the reader to an array of supporting characters who alter the boys’ lives forever.

The Urban Boys offers young and mature readers central themes of loyalty, responsibility, honesty, fear, and triumph, which become artfully integrated with cinematic-level action and high drama. The story twists, turns, and grinds through elements of paranormal and action-adventure in a diverse, exciting, edge-of-your-seat narrative! Intriguing, intelligent, and full of action, The Urban Boys: Discovery of the Five Senses offers a memorable, emotion-packed, thrilling ride for young and mature readers alike!

WHAT READERS ARE SAYING ABOUT THE URBAN BOYS: DISCOVERY OF THE FIVE SENSES:

Five friends do something considered taboo by the townsfolk and enter the mysterious, forest-like preserve. But something otherworldly awaits them among the trees. Yet just as the five can then sense each other, so, too, can three others sense them, and one of the trio is a killer. Smith’s book blends action and mystery with elements of the paranormal. Additionally, the novel overflows with positive thematic pointers relating to the importance of family, honesty, etc. The presence of these moments of encouragement make her story worth reading.
4-stars – John E. Roper, The U.S. Review of Books

“Author K.N. Smith uses her mastery of the written word to weave an entrancing, yet powerful tale of adventure that keeps you turning pages in an unquenchable desire to find out what happens next. The author’s matchless prose details cinematic fight sequences and fully developed characterizations especially in a final, stupendous scene that will take your breath away and leave you limp with spent emotions. Five stars for this imaginative and inspiring story, sure to be as appealing to general audiences as it will be to the YA crowd!”
5-stars – Don Sloane, Publishers Daily Reviews

“An energetic YA adventure debut with stellar action sequences. Smith’s writing is intelligent and often lyrical. Her exuberant prose never fails to dazzle.”- Kirkus Media

“Read the Prologue and fasten your seat-belts! – The URBAN BOYS: Discovery of the Five Senses is the kind of thrill ride you’d expect from a seasoned action and adventure novelist, not in a first novel by a writer just entering this genre. The URBAN BOYS really grabs you. There’s the beauty of the scenes described, the eerie, mysterious source of the boys’ new power, and the suspense you will feel in every engagement that rivets you to every page. The URBAN BOYS creates a whole new world of emotions, suspense, danger and drama. It’s a great read!” 5-stars – Melvin Tag 

PURCHASE THE URBAN BOYS ON AMAZON.COM

K.N. Smith has over twenty years experience in writing, communications, and creative design. She lives with her family in California.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

WEBSITE

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TWITTER

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YOUTUBE

*Book Tour Media Kit provided by Susan Barton, My Book Tour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ben Starling’s Something in the Water

Something in the Water is fundamentally a love story—with a bit of adventure in the tropics thrown in too.

SITW Ben_black spot reflect double.jpg

The sealed box Teal finds in the street contains more than just a mystery…

What if to be with the man of your dreams…you had to give up your life?

On the verge of losing her job, side-lined journalist Teal is forced to travel to the South Pacific to profile a powerful businessman. But with her almost-but-not-quite fiancé Bear discouraging her every step of the way, she may not be able to save her career or her relationship.

When corporate criminals invade paradise, Teal teams up with a former boxer turned marine-biologist to investigate. As she discovers the true intentions behind their new canning operations, she must either accept the plum promotion that will save her career or—with Perry—defend the island with more than her life.

Hand+Whale.pngSomething in the Water, An Ocean Romance is available on Amazon. http://bit.ly/SITWbtour2am

INSPIRATION

Something in the Water was inspired by the loss of my partner at forty-five years of age to ovarian cancer in 2012, just thirteen weeks after her diagnosis. In the aftermath, an old friend challenged me to turn that grief into something positive.

Remembering a conversation with a charismatic Polynesian fisherman (I visited there once) about his people’s vision of death and the afterlife, I began to write. Through the written word, I hoped to explore and capture several extraordinary events that happened around the time of my girlfriend’s death. The novel and the series kind of took off from there…

What can we look forward to next from you?

Something in the Water will be supported by a series of short stories that reveal the backstories of the major characters in this world.

The first in the series, Something in the Air, is available now free at my website as well as free on Kobo (also available at Amazon) and the second short story in the series, Something on the Fly, will be released in the Spring!

Something in the Water available on Amazon http://bit.ly/SITWbtour2am

Something in the Air

Something on the Fly – coming soon!

 EXCERPT

Something in the Water – Chapter 1 begins…

New York, September

He didn’t look like the hotel guests, the business people, or the tourists. He didn’t move like them either.

He brushed past me as I climbed off my Vespa, stilettos in hand, outside the entrance of the Waldorf Astoria. Had he smiled at the radiance of my scarlet ball gown? Or was he amused by my battered Converse sneakers?

As a valet approached to take my scooter and helmet, I spotted my boss, Malcolm, waving hello from the lobby. He was approaching the glass doors that separated us when I noticed a small wooden box on the ground. Two steps later, I had picked it up. Who could have dropped it?

No one was close by, so I turned. The only man who’d passed me was already a half block away, gliding beside the cars that waited for the lights to change at the end of the block. Was it his?

What I knew for sure was that now wasn’t the time to be tracking down the little box’s owner. I should hand it in to reception and concentrate on the evening ahead. For a few seconds, I relaxed as I studied the hotel’s confident, soaring opulence—a world unknown to me before my arrival from Nantucket four years ago. The smooth texture of the box, however, drew my thoughts back to it. Was there something valuable inside? What if it did belong to that man, and he never returned to collect it? I turned the box over—and caught my breath.

“How on earth…?”

Malcolm emerged in front of me. “Hello, darling, you look absolutely—are you okay?”
I thrust my sparkly evening shoes into his hands, and hitched up my shawl. I was about to give chase when a convertible Ferrari lurched to a stop beside me.

“Going my way, babe?” its driver shouted, over the thrum of the engine.

But my dress was redder, and I got the better start.

You can find the rest of Something in the Water, Chapter 1 at

ttp://ben-starling.com/chapter-one/ 

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BIO & SOCIAL MEDIA

 Ben Starling is passionate about marine conservation and boxing, both central themes in his upcoming novel. His interest in marine life has taken him across three continents over the past three decades. He is Oxford’s only ever Quintuple Blue (varsity champion five years running), was Captain of the university boxing team, and coached and boxed competitively until about five years ago. He is 6’3”and 185 lbs. Ben graduated from Oxford University with a Master of Arts and an M Phil. He was born in the USA but has lived in the UK since childhood.

 

Check out my previous interview with Ben!

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