Jack Canon's American Destiny

Broken Pieces

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Writing is a Skill That Can Be Learned, Says @CarinKilbyClark #WriteTip #IndieAuthors #AmWriting

Writing is a skill. And like any skill, it can be learned. And even for those who are naturally gifted in writing, there’s always room to improve. You can learn to become a better writer –with study, practice, and commitment to the craft.
When I first started writing about a year and a half ago, I wondered how some of the best writers do it. How do they write such powerful pieces – and make it seem so easy and effortless. It wasn’t until I had a conversation with my writing idol, where she indicated she rarely feels like a great writer, that I realized the most important aspect in becoming a great writer – staying humble – and always looking for ways to hone your craft.
Any writer can be great. It just takes a little time, and a lot of effort. For anyone looking to improve their writing, here are my five best tips for becoming a better writer.
1) Become a better writer by writing more. Sounds so simple, I know. But I can’t tell you how many writers I talk to that are frustrated with their ineffective writing process. The only way to improve the process is to practice. Write, write, and write some more. At some point, writing will be easier. But it takes time, and lots of practice.
2) Become a better writer by being consistent. Writing consistently is one of the most important things you can do in order to improve your writing. Set a publishing schedule and stick with it. Being consistent will also help you build your following. And your readers are what will keep you going.
3) Become a better writer by following other writers. Find a few writers whom you admire and really like to read. Don’t ever try to copy them, but let their writing entertain you, and inspire you to continue on in your own writing career.
4) Become a better writer by networking with other writers.  Networking with other writers is a great way to meet people that have similar interests and find the folks who will support you as you move forward in your writing career.
5) Become a better writer by staying abreast of industry trends. It’s important to know what’s happening in the industry if you want to become a better writer. Trends, challenges, and opportunities are always there – you just need to know about them and be able to use that information to strengthen your posture as a writer.
Carin Kilby Clark is the author of the ebook, Time Management Made Easy for Busy Moms: 5 Simple Tips on How to Control Your Time and Get Things Done (April 2014, Clue Consulting, LLC). If you want to learn how to finally put time on your side, then this book has the goods that you need – and for less than the cost of a cup of coffee. Buy your copy today!

Do any of these excuses sound familiar?

I’m just too busy
I have too much on my plate
There’s never enough time
I have to do it all
I don’t know how to manage it all

If you answered yes, then prepare to put an end to the overwhelm once and for all. In Time Management Made Easy for Busy Moms, Carin Kilby Clark shares five simple tips that moms can implement right away to improve how they control their time and get things done.

Time Management Made Easy for Busy Moms offers insight into the one major block that prevents us from maximizing our time, gives readers practical information that is easily applied to everyday life, and helps you along the path to your “aha” moments about how and why you’ve been ineffective in managing your time; and how to to finally put time in its rightful place {on your side, of course!}.

As the mother of three very active children who also works full-time, runs a business in her “spare” time, publishes a lifestyle & parenting site, manages a growing motherhood community, and regularly contributes parenting advice to many popular sites in the parenting/family life niche, Carin’s advice is solid; based on methods that she has successfully implemented in controlling her time and getting things done.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Parenting, Relationships
Rating – G
More details about the author
Connect with Carin Kilby Clark on Facebook & Twitter

Saturday, September 27, 2014

INSIDE/OUTSIDE by Jenny Hayworth @JennyHayworth1 #Abuse #Memoir #AmReading

The breathing is what I remember noticing first. Heavy, rapid, and sharp intakes of breath increasing in volume as whoever it was came closer. It struck me as odd in the library setting I was in, sitting at a computer. I looked up from processing my Internet banking and hesitated.
Then I heard a female voice speaking rapidly and heard fear and panic intermingled in her words. “Someone tried to abduct her. He had her by the arm and on the ground.” The voice rose in volume. I stood up as the breathing became louder and laced with sobs, and a stab of pain went through my chest and caught there within a block of fear as I recognised the sobs were coming from my eleven-year-old daughter, Rose. She suddenly materialised, walking out from an aisle to the right of me, with a lady alongside her, holding on to her.
Everything then erupted.
Rose, the instant she saw me, became hysterical, screaming out, “Mum, Mum.” She took great gulps of breath, and the only clear words I could hear as she forced them out of her lungs, which were constricted by a lack of oxygen and panic as she hyperventilated and collapsed on the ground in front of me, were, “Man….He was touching me, Mum….I couldn’t get away.” I was holding on to one side of her, with the lady I didn’t know on the other side, trying to pull her up.
“Mum, my legs don’t work,” Rose said. She was heavy in my arms. A chair appeared in front of us by the information desk, and we half dragged and half carried Rose the last few feet to sit on it. I stood up and kept my hand on her shoulder.
People were moving around, appearing in front of me and disappearing. I could hear voices around me, but wasn’t aware of their meaning. It must have been only a couple seconds, but it felt like minutes until a lady tapped me on my shoulder. She had two policemen by her side. Suddenly all the sounds and voices became louder and clearer to me, and I was conscious of all the people looking at us. I felt like we had to get away.
“Please, can we move somewhere more private?” I asked, and this time all the held-back emotion came through me and sounded in my voice. I nodded to the doorway I thought led to the sorting room.
“Yes,” said the lady.
I remembered my handbag with everything in it next to the computer about ten feet away. I said, “I just have to get my bag,” and I ran back and grabbed it.
I was conscious of about four other people at each side of me and behind me, staring at their screens and typing. As much as I was grateful that they didn’t meet my eyes or speak to me, as I wanted to rush as quickly as I could, I was also silently asking myself, What are they thinking? Why aren’t they talking to me? Do they blame me? And the huge question, What happened? I could feel my face burning and my heart pounding as I turned and ran back to Rose.
We walked through the door into the back room, and I felt the relief of not being on public view. I could feel that Rose was starting to shake all over. I wanted to pull her onto my knee and hold her and ask her what had happened, but I didn’t.
We sat down at someone’s desk, and papers and items were moved from in front of us. I put my bag on the floor, under the legs of the chair, and suddenly a librarian appeared and said, “Sorry, but we need to ask you these questions quickly so we can try to catch him. What was he wearing? What did he look like?”
Rose said, “His hands were dirty and felt rough on my legs.” She started crying. “He was kissing me all over and on my neck, and I kept telling him to stop, and he wouldn’t.”
The minute she said his hands were rough, I went cold all through me. When I had been assaulted as a child, one of the main things I remembered at the time was how sharp his fingernails had felt and how dirty his hands had been.
It was all swirling around in my head, emotions from past and present. My own emotions and awareness of them and my awareness of my daughter’s emotions and how I needed to keep mine in check for her. The heaviness and weight in my chest tightened, and my head felt light and dizzy.
Someone called out that a librarian had chased him, and they had the registration number of his car. I immediately felt so relieved and grateful for whoever had done this, as I knew it could make a big difference in catching him. Two other women came over with the police and sat down next to us. One of them was about seventeen years old and was crying. They introduced themselves as Julia and Candice, and the older lady said, “Candice saw what happened. She called out to me, and when I came around the corner the man started pulling on Rose’s arm and trying to drag her with him. Then he dropped her and ran out the door.”
Then one of the police said, “We need to speak to Rose on her own and take a statement.” The librarian showed them the kitchen next to us, and they went in there with Rose. It didn’t feel right letting her go in with them on her own, but when she hesitated and looked nervous, one said to her, “It’s all right. Your Mum is right next door, and you can go back to her as soon as we have finished speaking with you.” I gave Rose a quick kiss and hug, and she went with them through the door.
When the door shut, and I was left with Candice and Julia, I asked them, “What did you see happen?”
Candice said, “I came around the corner and looked up, and I saw Rose crouching on the floor with her arms over her head. The man was leaning over her, and she was saying, ‘Leave me alone, leave me alone.’ I first of all thought he was her Dad, the way he had hold of her, but something didn’t feel right or look right about it. He said to me, ‘What are you looking at?’ and I looked away, but Rose was crying. I just called out, ‘Mum’ as she was in the next aisle. Mum came around the corner, and I started to cry and point. The man was dragging Rose by the arm toward the door. He looked up and saw my Mum, and both of us called out, ‘Hey,’ and he dropped Rose’s arm and started to run out the door. A librarian heard us both call out and saw the man run and Rose on the ground, and she chased him out the door.”
I thanked Candice and her Mum repeatedly for what they had done and for helping Rose. I said to Candice that if she hadn’t come around the corner when she did and taken notice of her gut feeling that something wasn’t right, who knew what might have happened.
When Rose at last came out of the staff kitchen after having given her statement to the police, I was so relieved to see her again. She seemed calmer. She sat next to me and smiled, and laid her head on my shoulder.
Candice said, “Are you all right, love?”
Rose said yes and smiled at them and me.
She told me he kept kissing her neck and face, and his hands were all over her breasts and legs and up her skirt. He kept saying something under his breath like, “So beautiful, so beautiful….” Then she started crying again. I felt like crying, but nothing would happen.
I just held on to her. I felt sick and upset and angry and in shock. I couldn’t believe this had happened to my girl, and even more, going through my head was the question, “Why Rose?” Why, out of all the people in the library, did he have to pick on Rose?
She was the only one out of my three eldest children who had not been sexually abused, and now she had. It seemed unbelievable, especially as it was ten o’clock in the morning, and we were in a public place. We had to keep waiting in the library until police took all the statements from everybody concerned. Rose had to walk the police through the library and show them exactly where everything had happened. They took her books, which the man had held on to, for fingerprinting reasons, and that upset Rose again as she had been looking forward to reading the ones she had chosen. The police surveyed the closed-circuit television camera footage and identified the man walking directly behind Rose and me as we had entered the library, and following her as she went to the young-adult section.
We both were hungry, and the police let us walk over to the shopping centre, which was five minutes away, to buy something to eat and come straight back. Once we were in the mall, I noticed Rose’s head moving around, looking everywhere, and she clung to my hand tightly.
“What happens if we see him, Mum?” she whispered to me with tears running down her face.
I held her hand tightly and said, “He can’t hurt you anymore. I am here, and he would run a mile if he saw you now, as he would know he is in trouble.”
When we were standing in line, people were walking past behind her and bumping into her. She kept grabbing me; she was terrified. I was so upset and angry that this man, a stranger, had in one instant taken away her sense of safety in the world. Her ability to stand in a public place and feel safe and not worry about whether someone would grab her or touch her inappropriately had disappeared.
After we walked back to the library, we had to go down to the police beat for Rose to describe the man to a sketch artist, who would do a “wanted” poster from it. After we had done that, we were allowed to go home. By that time it was nearly three in the afternoon. We had been at the library since ten that morning. Both of us were exhausted. I had rung Rose’s Dad and arranged for him to go pick Thomas from school, and to let him know what had happened. It was a boiling-hot day. We had parked just down the road from the library, and as we got back into the car to start it, I couldn’t help but think how much had changed from when we had parked it there that morning.
Then the car wouldn’t start.
I turned the key in the ignition for half an hour. Both of us sat in the car with sweat pouring down our faces and backs as the sun poured in the windows and I tried to start it. I felt like bursting into tears. I wanted a cold drink, and I knew Rose did too, but I had no money left to buy one. I desperately wanted friends and family around for support.
Eventually the car started, and we drove home.

***Award winning book (finalist) in 2014 Beverley Hills International Book Awards***
Jenny Hayworth grew up within the construct of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, which she describes as a fundamentalist cult-like religion. She devoted her life to it for over thirty years. Then she left it. The church “unfellowshipped” her-rendering her dead to those family and friends still committed to the church.Hayworth is a sexual abuse survivor. The trauma changed her self-perception, emotional development, trust, and every interaction with the world.
Inside/Outside is her exploration of sexual abuse, religious fundamentalism, and recovery. Her childhood circumstances and tragedies forced her to live “inside.” This memoir chronicles her journey from experiencing comfort and emotional satisfaction only within her fantasy world to developing the ability to feel and express real life emotion on the “outside.”
It is a story that begins with tragic multigenerational abuse, within an oppressive society, and ends with hope and rebirth into a life where she experiences real connections and satisfaction with the outside world.
Those who have ever felt trapped by trauma or circumstances will find Inside/Outside a dramatic reassurance that they are not alone in the world, and they have the ability to have a fulfilling life, both inside and out.
Foreward Clarion Review – “What keeps the pages of Hayworth’s life story turning is her honesty, tenacity, and sheer will to survive through an astounding number of setbacks. Inside/Outside proves the resilience of the human spirit and shows that the cycle of abuse can indeed be broken”
Kirkus Review – “A harrowing memoir of one woman’s struggle to cope with sexual abuse and depression while living in – and eventually leaving – the Jehovah’s Witnesses”
Readers Favourite 5 Star Review – “The book is an inspiring story for those who are going through traumatic times…”
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Memoir
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
Connect with Jenny Hayworth on Facebook & Twitter

Kirsten Mortensen on How #Writing & Dreams are Not That Different @KirstenWriter #SelfPub #Authors

Writing and Dreams. Not That Different
By Kirsten Mortensen

I love to dream. And not just because it’s so night to get a good night’s sleep. I love to dream because I’m utterly fascinated by the experience of finding myself in a strange world—often occupying a strange identity—that seems utterly complete and coherent while I’m inside it. What a marvelous thing, consciousness is, to be able to send us into dream worlds!

I also believe my love of dreaming is very closely related to my writing.

In fact, I think writing—especially writing fiction—is very similar to dreaming. You might even say that writing fiction is a kind of controlled, waking dream.

Think about it.

When you dream, you relax. You turn your attention from everyday life. And you let another part of your mind—one that exists independently of the mind where you live while you’re awake—take over. It creates characters, settings, plots, story lines. Things “happen” that cause you to react emotionally. Problems present themselves—and so do solutions.

Now think what happens when you write fiction. You relax your waking mind, and turn your attention away from everyday life. You let another part of your mind take over. And it starts creating characters, setting, plot twists . . .

With me so far?

Now how about this: suppose that paying attention to your dreams helps you to build bridges between the part of your mind you use to create fiction, and your waking consciousness—the part of your mind you need to capture what you’ve created and write it down.

Isn’t that an intriguing thought?

I know that I’ve been paying close attention to dreams my whole life, and during many periods of my life I’ve kept dream journals. And something else: there are times—especially when I’ve been getting enough sleep—when I’m able to consciously control my dreams. Sometimes I realize I’m dreaming (an experience known as “lucid dreaming”). Other times, I feel like I’m a movie director. If I don’t like what’s happening, I’ll change it.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to believe that this practice has helped me as a writer. It’s very subtle, but I can feel it when my mind “switches” to a different mode, the mode where I’m generating fictional characters, fictional worlds.

I believe there’s a connection. Scientists know today that when we practice any task—whether its navigating city streets, doing Sudoku puzzles, or memorizing poetry—our brains become better at that task.

I’ve written about this topic at length in a non-fiction book I published, called Writing, Dreams, and Consciousness.

And I believe that the work I’ve done as a dreamer is one reason that the world I created in my latest novel, Dark Chemistry, is so vivid that readers tell me it makes a strong impression on them. That world really does exist—I know. I’ve dreamt it!

So here’s my proposal: paying attention to dreams—keeping a dream journal, for example, and writing down what we can remember of our dreams when we wake in the morning—is a way of training our brains to create fictional worlds.

What do you think? Do you remember your dreams? Have you ever kept a dream journal?

And if you decide to try, to see if it helps you develop a writer, please let me know. I’d love to hear about your experience.


A woman's worst nightmare

Drugged by something...that makes her think she's fallen in love.

All Haley Dubose has ever known is beaches and malls, clubs and cocktail dresses.

But now her father is dead.

And if she wants to inherit her father's fortune, she has to leave sunny Southern California
for a backwater little town near Syracuse, New York. She has to run RMB, the multimillion dollar
chemical company her father founded. And she has to run it well.

Keep RMB on track, and she'll be rich. Grow it, and she'll be even richer. But mess it up, and her inheritance will shrink away before she gets a chance to spend a dime.

Donavon Todde is her true love. But is it too late?

He's RMB's head of sales – and the more Donavon sees of Haley, the more he's smitten.
Sure, she comes across at first as naïve and superficial. But Donavon knew Haley's father. He can see the man's better qualities stirring to life in her eyes. And Donavon senses something else: Haley's father left her a legacy more important than money. He left her the chance to discover her true self.

Donavon has demons of his own.
He's reeling from a heartbreak that's taking far too long to heal. But he's captivated by this blond Californian, and not only because of her beauty. It's chemistry. They're right for each other. But has Donavon waited too long to woo this woman of his dreams? Because to his horror, his beautiful Haley falls under another spell. Gerad's spell.

A web of evil.

Gerad Picket was second-in-command at RMB when Haley's father was alive. And with Haley on the scene, he's in charge of her training. But there are things about RMB that Gerad doesn't want Haley to know.

And he must control her. Any way he can.

Romantic suspense for your Kindle

Will Haley realize that her feelings are not her TRUE feelings?
Does Donavon have the strength left to fight for the woman he loves?
Will the two of them uncover Gerad's plot to use RMB pheromones to enslave the world?
And even if they do – can they stop it?

Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords
Genre – Romantic suspense
Rating – PG-13
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Connect with Kirsten Mortensen through Facebook Twitter

HIGH MAGA by Karin Rita Gastreich @EolynChronicles #Fantasy #GoodReads #Excerpt

Akmael unsheathed the sword, Kel’Barú, allowing its long silver blade to capture the vermilion flame of the rising sun. Wind lifted his cloak and filled cliffs and crevices with dark whispers of troubling dreams. Behind him he heard the shouts of men and the clatter of tools. Heavy canvas fluttered as they dropped tents in preparation for the next stage of their journey. Far below, the Tarba River roared through the narrow canyon along which the Pass of Aerunden had been cut, a rough road wending precariously over steep descents. Fit for mules, but most unaccommodating to his royal procession.
“My Lord King.” Sir Drostan interrupted Akmael’s thoughts, pausing at a respectful distance. Though massive in frame, the knight’s age had begun to show in the lines around his eyes, in the silver streaks of his red beard. “Our preparations are complete. We depart at your command.”
Akmael nodded and beckoned him to approach. “What do you know of this place? Of the people who built it?”
They had camped among the crumbled foundations of an old fortress, its remains little more than intersecting trails of stone smothered by dense brambles. A single tower struggled against the unforgiving passage of time, leaning precipitously toward the gorge below. The keystone that guarded its arched doorway was weakened by a fracture through its heart, dooming the structure to imminent collapse.
“I am not certain,” Drostan admitted. “Judging by the workmanship, I would say the tower was built by the early Kings of Vortingen, perhaps during the conquest of Moehn. Or before that, even, in the great battles against the People of Thunder. Whatever its history, it has long since been lost.”
The gusts picked up again, and Kel’Barú responded with an unusual hum, a bright tone layered over its typically mournful cadence.
Eolyn, it murmured. Eolyn, Eolyn, Eolyn.
Drostan raised his brow. “It would seem the sword knows its destiny.”
Akmael frowned, shook his head in doubt. For years he had tried to divine Kel’Baru’s song without success, frustrating as he had never encountered a weapon he could not understand. “Even a mage cannot see into the future. How then can a sword? No, I do not believe Kel’Barú suspects our destination. It only repeats her name, as it has from the time they were separated.”
Like an echo of his own heart.
Drostan said quietly, “The Maga Eolyn will not want this sword.”
“It was her brother’s weapon.”
“That is why.”
“This is the only sword that has ever spoken to her. It belongs with Maga Eolyn, though I have long tried to convince it otherwise.”
“She has no interest in tools of death,” insisted Drostan. “Even if she did, this is a Galian sword, infused with strange wizardry. Such weapons have no place in our traditions. They are unpredictable. Suspect. Leaving it with the maga could invoke dangers unknown.”
Akmael drew a breath and sheathed the weapon. He had thought through this matter at length, and despite his own misgivings, would not be dissuaded. “This sword is her inheritance. What to do with it will be her decision.”

Lands Ravaged. Dreams destroyed. Demons set loose upon the earth.
War strikes at the heart of women’s magic in Moisehén. Eolyn’s fledgling community of magas is destroyed; its members killed, captured or scattered.
Devastated yet undaunted, Eolyn seeks to escape the occupied province and deliver to King Akmael a weapon that might secure their victory. But even a High Maga cannot survive this enemy alone. Aided by the enigmatic Mage Corey, Eolyn battles the darkest forces of the Underworld, only to discover she is a mere path to the magic that most ignites their hunger.
What can stop this tide of terror and vengeance? The answer lies in Eolyn’s forgotten love, and in its power to engender seeds of renewed hope.
HIGH MAGA is the companion novel to EOLYN, also available from Hadley Rille Books.
Buy Now @ Amazon & Kobo
Genre – Epic Fantasy
Rating – PG-13
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Connect with Karin Rita Gastreich on Facebook & Twitter

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Superhuman Nature by Brandon Overall #Excerpt #SciFi #AmReading

He turned back to the apple and tried to shift the focus of his thoughts to mimic how he had felt.  He thought about the apple the same way he thought about his arm, or his toes.  He wiggled his toes and moved his arm up and down and tried to capture the sort of sensation it gave him to know that these parts of his body were under his control.  He looked at the apple and tried to imagine how it would feel for the apple to be part of his body.  He commanded the apple, as part of his body, to roll off the stump to the left.
Neil’s eyes tracked the movement immediately.
The apple rolled off the stump.  He watched it fall to the ground almost in slow motion.
“YES!” He exclaimed, “FUCK YES, I DID IT!!”
Neil felt the rush of excitement.  His heart started beating faster and he got a sudden burst of energy…until he felt the breeze.  The damn wind had blown it off.  His mood sank almost as quickly as it rose.  He picked up a stick, threw it at the can, missed, and sat down on the ground, defeated.
Neil tried for another 20 or 30 minutes in an attempt to make something…anything happen to the apple and the can, but nothing worked.  He decided he was tired of wasting his time looking foolish and walked over to the stumps to retrieve his produce, feeling embarrassed.
As Neil was walking towards the apple, he felt a tickling sensation on his cheek and heard a buzzing noise.  It took a split second for him to realize that a bug had landed on his face, and a split second longer for him to raise his hand to try to swat it off.
He was too late.  He felt the sharp pinch and realized that the bug was a bee, and his cheek was throbbing with pain.  His temper immediately flared from the sudden sting.  He knew he needed to swat off and kill the damned bee, so that’s what he did.  Instead of raising his arm to do it, he reflexively used the other part of his body – the new part of his body that he hadn’t used before – the red spherical part of his body that he sensed had untapped potential that could be used in this very situation to kill a bee.
Before he realized what he was doing, he felt a baseball sized object smack into the side of his face, explode into tiny juicy pieces, and knock him to the ground.  He laid in the dirt and leaves, staring up at the sky.  He tasted something on the corner of his mouth.  It tasted sweet, and then it dawned on him what it was that hit him in the side of the head.  He had just killed the bee with an apple.

Superhuman Nature is Brandon Overall’s first novel. It was written and published during his first deployment to Afghanistan as a 2nd Lieutenant in late 2013.
Neil Hitchens was a senior ROTC Cadet in college. He was just weeks away from graduating and becoming an Officer in the United States Army, until a strange dream set off a chain of events that would twist his life into something he could have never prepared for.
In the days following his dream, several strange happenings occurred that he began to suspect were the result of his own actions. Before long, he discovered that he had the ability to control the world around him with his mind.
What started out as an unpredictable ability quickly evolved into an extraordinary power that had the capacity to change the world. It didn’t take long for the government to find out what Neil could do.
They knew having such limitless potential on the side of the US Military could give them limitless political influence, and they would stop at nothing to get Neil to do their bidding. They would find out what happens when you back a dangerous animal into a corner.
Neil spent his whole life believing he would amount to greatness, but he never expected how greatness could corrupt even the most innocent of minds.
Buy @ Amazon & Smashwords
Genre – Science Fiction
Rating – PG-13
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Connect with Brandon Overall on Facebook

The Three Sisters #Excerpt by Bryan Taylor #AmReading #Satire #Religion

Shakespeare was Theodora’s favorite playwright, and she persisted in requesting that we visit the Folger Shakespeare Library. Eventually, I agreed to go to Washington, D.C. with her. A fellow participant at one of our platonic orgies had suggested that we visit Victor Virga while we were in D.C. because he was looking for people like us who would work at his new place of business. Until then capitalism had failed to recognize my unique talents, and consequently, I had been forced to live a less than luxurious life. I wanted the life of a poor, suffering artist to be a cliché, not a reality.
Victor had just opened up the Kennedy Center for the Performing Parts a few months before, and he was having only moderate success. Victor had held numerous jobs with various companies before then, but had rarely stayed with one for more than a few years because he didn’t follow the rules like he should have. Verily, here was a man after my own heart. He had gotten tired of working for others and this time was running his own business. Victor’s forte was in being able to sniff out a market, create a product or service, and provide that famous American managerial know-how to turn a profit.
He knew plenty of people from the upper crusts of society, one happy consequence of going to the right schools, and of getting fired too many times, and he was determined to use this knowledge to his advantage. Victor was corporate handsome, not model handsome, and was slim, both because he kept in shape and because he was constantly, frenetically moving around. He was headstrong with a temper, something I could easily identify with. When he was angry, he could launch into a tolutiloquent tirade that would tax anyone’s tolerance of him. He seemed to edit words out of his sentences so as not to waste time. Like the Russians, he found definite and indefinite articles to be a waste of time and rarely used them, but other than that, this capitalist had little in common with his communistic counterparts.
Some people thought Victor worshipped Mammon as others worshipped Christ, but to Victor money was just a way of keeping score. He thrived on the whole process of competition and the creative destruction that drove it. Victor knew where to build, whom to hire, how to lure the elites in, and what the elites really wanted.
Victor’s inspiration for the Kennedy Center came from one of his visits to the Bohemian Grove in upstate California which he had been invited to through his contacts in the government and in the motion picture industry. His idea was to create a year-round Bohemian Grove, though with women available, where the elites could gather. “Great nations of past had cultured demi-mondes for the rich—Japan, France, Rome. Sign of high cultural achievement. Why shouldn’t we?” Victor asked Theodora and me.
To get ideas for my artistic creations, I asked myself, what did Washingtonians want from life? Why were they in the nation’s capital? What services could we provide that would draw them in like lemmings? A visitor only has to be in Washington for a few minutes and see the marble and stone Cathedrals of Government Power that the politolatrous Bureaucrats built to themselves to realize that most of Washington’s automatons probably think God is just another taxpayer to serve them. It was quite obvious to me why there was no official Patron Saint of Government Workers.
After spending a month in the capital, the answer to my Marketing 101 questions seemed obvious. Washingtonians are a bunch of cultured, egotistical, lumpen-elitist snobs who live in their own dream world completely divorced from the rest of the country. Everything they do had to show that they The Bureaucrats are superior to the poor miserable souls in the rest of the country who only exist to pay for their masters’ existence. To ensure this, the government provides cultural events galore for its workers. One need only visit the city and see all the galleries, theaters, orchestras, ballets, and other centers of artistic creation, happily supported by government grants, to discover how true this is.
What is the essential nature of a Washingtonian? (God, I’m beginning to sound like Aquinas). Whether they are politicians, members of the military, businessmen, foreign diplomats, reporters or lobbyists, Washingtonians want power. They want to be at the center of action where they can control and manipulate their chosen area of political interference
The Kennedy Center as created as a mollitious Mecca for millionaires and politicians where all their dreams could come true. We created an ersatz cultural milieu at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Parts so visitors could escape their dull bureaucratic lives and the pressures of daily power plays to live in the aristocratic world they knew they deserved. Who in Washington wouldn’t want to bethink themselves a member of royalty served by artists who could provide mental and sexual stimulation? Money created a world of fantasy that had never existed, but which the customers wanted to believe in. Thus the Kennedy Center, which never received any money from the National Endowment for the Arts, took on those inveterate values of good taste, elegance, and culture that were the secrets of its success.
The officials and bureaucrats in Washington wanted to change the world, and I wanted to change them. At last I had the forum I needed to convert Washington to my Weltanshauung. As I saw it, in America, there was a revolving door of power between Washington, Wall Street and the Ivy League academics. Influence one and you influence them all.

Nuns just want to have fun! But when three former Catholic nuns have too much fun and get in trouble with the law, they become nuns on the run.
Driving back to Washington D.C. where they work at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Parts, the three sisters are arrested in Tennessee. After defeating the local deputy in strip poker, they escape from jail, and are pursued by the zealous Detective Schmuck Hole, who has personally offered a $10,000 reward for their capture on The 700 Club. Little do they know that when the three sisters visit the Washington Monument, their lives will change forever.
Set in 1979, The Three Sisters is a sacrilegious satire that skewers not only organized religion, but the government, the media, intellectuals, corporate greed and every other part of the establishment. Maybe not the greatest story ever told, but possibly the funniest.
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Genre – Humor, Satire, Catholicism, Politics
Rating – R
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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Kevin Sterling on The Quandary of Sex in Mainstream Novels @KSterlingWriter #AmWriting #Thriller

It wasn’t originally my idea to include sex in my books. In fact, the thought didn’t even occur to me when I initially became serious about writing. Instead, it was the first editor I worked with roughly two decades ago who told me the novel I had written would be so much better with sex. I resisted the idea at first, but eventually succumbed to his advice. And you know what? He was right.
I locked away that particular book in a virtual drawer long ago, probably never to be seen again, but not before I discovered the sex scenes brought so much life, passion and intimacy to the characters, not to mention richness to the experiences they were going through. And it transformed my thoughts about sex in mainstream novels.
I am often quoted for saying that sex is the most emotionally charged part of our lives, so living it through a book character completes the window into his or her soul. And, when you add those exhilarating scenes to the suspense and intrigue of an action thriller, you kick the reader’s experience to a new level and connect with all of his or her sensibilities.
The problem is that sex, particularly in American society, can be a taboo subject. Perhaps that makes the experience of it in a book more titillating, hence the tremendous success of Fifty Shades of Grey. But it also pushes a large number of readers away.
I have a friend who often says a line when he introduces me to other people: “This is my friend, Kevin. He writes porn.” My friend is just kidding around, of course. But for some people, that’s not too far off the mark. They will overlook the fact that my novels are primarily about action, mystery and suspense, and fixate on the erotica, believing that it’s the true, underlying focus of the book. They just can’t see it any other way.
Then why, you may ask, do I include sex at all? Why would I voluntarily alienate a sizable cross-section of readers who would otherwise enjoy my geopolitical intrigue, espionage, exotic locales, international cuisine, wine, cars, existentialist philosophy, and sarcastic humor?
Because I want my books to touch every corner of the reader’s body and soul, making their reading experience complete and delicious. And if that makes some people uncomfortable, I have to respect their feelings and let it go. I can’t let the prospect of lost sales dictate my craft.
But you want to know what’s really exciting? The knowledge that there are people out there who are on the verge of breaking through their inhibitions and will serendipitously find themselves ready to feel the whole gamut of sensual experiences while holding a Jack Lazar novel in their hands. Can you imagine the rush, the shock, and the rapid heartbeats as they try to process those steamy scenes along with action and suspense of the rest of the story?
I’ve received messages of gratitude from people who’ve experience exactly that, and I can’t tell you how rewarding it is to know I’ve touched them in such a meaningful way. That, more than anything, makes me want to write books for the rest of my life.
Nevertheless, everyone has different thoughts on this subject, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But for me, it’s safe to say I’m on board with putting sex in my novels, and I doubt I’ll ever turn back.
Happy reading, writing and…heavy breathing.

"James Bond Meets Fifty Shades of Grey"

Immerse yourself in the world class novels that combine action, mystery & suspense with tantalizing and tastefully written erotica. You’ll find all your sensibilities roused at once with Kevin Sterling’s ultra-sexy, action-packed Jack Lazar Series.

In this fourth action-packed thriller, Jack travels to Denmark for a business venture, but what seems to be a textbook transaction turns into a nightmare after he gets involved with Katarina, a vivacious Danish girl who apparently lacks a moral compass, not to mention an off button. After naively believing their liaison was just a random encounter, Jack discovers she’s connected to his business deal, and there’s a dangerous political group with skin in the game, too.
Katarina makes a convincing case of being a victim, not part of the conspiracy, but can Jack really trust her?
The firestorm gets out of control as Jack digs deeper, unearths the convoluted plot behind it all, and discovers that innocent people are being heartlessly killed. He’s not only horrified by the reason why it’s happening, but how it’s being done, and there appears to be no way to stop it from occurring again.
Then the scheme’s real objective emerges, launching Jack into action with intelligence operatives to prevent it. But that’s not so easy with assassins on Jack’s tail, forcing him to struggle for survival while trying to prevent Katarina from getting caught in the crossfire.
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Genre – Action, Mystery, Suspense
Rating – R
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Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Newbies Guide to Surviving Bad Reviews with Amy Lewis @AmyLewisAuthor #AmWriting

The newbies guide to surviving bad reviews

It was already a bad day when I read her review, only half paying attention to the words, because it was 6 am, and I had not slept well. I got a full three sentences in before I realized, "Wow, this lady really hated my memoir." Not only is she trashing my writing, she's trashing me, and not so subtly accusing me of lying. She suggested not everything in my memoir really happened to me. Despite the good reviews that had been rolling in, as a first time indie author, I could not stop thinking about this lady who hated my book. I knew I shouldn't care. I knew as an artist I put my work out there and welcome good and bad feedback. Art is subjective. I know that. But still my mind obsessed. If my book had been fiction maybe her review would be easier to take. She thinks my heroine sucks - no problem. But this was a memoir. She was basically saying "you're worthless, your story is worthless and you should have written it in a diary and kept it to yourself." Ouch. I googled how to deal with bad reviews. I visited sites that list all the horrible reviews that famous, award winning books received. I laughed and felt in very good company ... but only slightly. I was not a famous writer. I’m guessing bad reviews don't hurt as much when you're sitting on a pile of money and holding your Pulitzer Prize.  I considered writing her back. I know this is a huge no-no. I found myself reduced to age 11 and wanted to say horrible and childish things to her. I came up with many creative insults, but I kept them to myself.

It took a few days for me to cool down and begin to see the bigger picture. I finally got my "aha" moment as people like to say. This lady's review actually could be a huge gift. Huge! I should actually be thanking her.  I have struggled all my life with people pleasing and holding my self-expression back to fit in and be liked. I learned from a young age to read people and give them what they wanted, what would make them happy. I've been aware of my accommodating tendencies for decades, but breaking out of them has been a challenge. The more I relaxed and let go of my anger, the more I smiled when I thought of this book-hating lady and her nasty review. Someone doesn't like me or my book. Big f-ing deal. My world didn't shatter. I didn’t stop breathing. In fact, nothing happened. There is nothing wrong with hating someone's memoir, and there is no crime in sharing in vivid detail your feelings in a book review. I even began to smile at how much she must dislike me to take the time to write that particular review.

The real problem here is not the review or the fact that I got upset. The real problem is when I or when any writer, artist or human chooses to stay silent, to not play the game of expressing what is inside that screams to come out, just because we are afraid we won't be liked or accepted. The world does not need any more people like that. The world needs bold artists whose desire to express and create is way bigger than their fears of how their work will be received. I am happy and proud to say I am one of those artists. And this bad review helped me to realize that.

I leave you with one tip for dealing with bad reviews. When all else fails, get a copy of the Frozen soundtrack, crank up Let It Go and belt it out along with Idina Menzel ...

Let it go, let it go
And I'll rise like the break of dawn
Let it go, let it go
That perfect girl is gone!

Here I stand
In the light of day
Let the storm rage on,
The cold never bothered me anyway!


Diagnosed with Borderline Personality disorder, Amy struggled with depression and an addiction to sharp objects. Even hospitalization didn't help to heal her destructive tendencies. It took a tumultuous relationship with a man named Truth to bring her back from the depths of her own self-made hell.Amy's marriage to dark, intriguing Truth was both passionate and stormy. She was a fair-skinned southern girl from New Orleans. He was a charming black man with tribal tattoos, piercings, and a mysterious past. They made an unlikely pair, but something clicked. During their early marriage, they pulled themselves out of abject poverty into wealth and financial security practically overnight. Then things began to fall apart.

Passionate and protective, Truth also proved violent and abusive. Amy’s own self-destructive tendencies created a powerful symmetry. His sudden death left Amy with an intense and warring set of emotions: grief for the loss of the man she loved, relief she was no longer a target for his aggression.

Conflicted and grieving, Amy found herself at a spiritual and emotional crossroads, only to receive help from an unlikely source: Truth himself. Feeling his otherworldly presence in her dreams, Amy seeks help from a famous medium.

Her spiritual encounters change Amy forever. Through Truth, she learns her soul is eternal and indestructible, a knowledge that gives Amy the courage to pursue her own dreams and transform herself both physically and emotionally. Her supernatural encounters help Amy resolve the internal anger and self-destructive tendencies standing between her and happiness, culminating in a sense of spiritual fulfillment she never dreamed possible.

An amazing true story, What Freedom Smells Like is told with courage, honesty, and a devilishly dark sense of humor.
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Genre – Memoir
Rating – PG-13
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