Friday, July 12, 2019

What to Do During a Hurricane Watch

July 12, 2019

Today we prepared for the onslaught of rain, possible flooding, here in New Orleans. We took in all patio furniture and umbrellas to keep it from blowing away, bought provisions, including batteries for flashlights etc. Please keep all of us in the Gulf South in your prayers.

Knowing that I have a great deal of time on my hands and possibly with electricity, I'm prepared to do some reading. I have several books in my arsenal that I haven't read yet or want to read again. So, reading downtime here I come. Also, I have seven grandchildren who will more than likely be with me too; so, finding a book or two to read with them is also on my agenda. If you are in the same situation or just want some good books to read for yourself or with a child, here is a list of my recommended readings.



By R H Kramer
“I am going to tell you about my favorite flower and fruit. A seed has to be covered under layers and layers of dirt, in darkness, loneliness, dealing with crap and is nearly drowned. At that stage, the seed has nothing but hope that it will eventually sprout. However, every seed does not sprout. Once the sprout has undergone sufficient growth, it can be classified as a tree. This tree has no idea whether it will blossom or not, for every tree does not. The only goal is to survive. To always be stronger than before. There are plenty of obstacles; cold winter snow, wet, cold spring, hot dry summer, bitter cold of fall which leaves the tree bare. Only once this tree grows in spite of the obstacles set up against it will it be strong enough to produce blossoms. Blossoms that are easily the most beautiful ever seen. The blossoms are special as they will grow to bear fruit. Fruit that, when harvested, can sustain the lives of others. This is the ultimate form of love.”

Experience a year of life-shattering moments in Aurora’s life -- a woman with nothing left to give is given hope. Hope that leads to her life’s reconstruction until she can find the strength inside of her to grow. Grow until she is strong enough to Harvest Love.

Alperose: Love Where You Least Expect it

By Michel F. Bolle

If you liked the magic of "Pretty Woman" and "Notting Hill", you will just love this touching and inspiring story! "Alperose" is an ambitious romance story written by Michel F. Bolle, confirming his talent as an outstanding storyteller. Captivating from the first moment by adding surprising turnarounds and great characters, this story will nail you to your seat until the end. It is the story of Alice and Robert.

Two complete opposites that meet one day somewhere lost in the middle of the swiss alps. Robert and Alice did not know that they were about to be held ransom by destiny. Would it be a kidnap or a beautiful memory to remember? It was all in their hands to decide. Or let's say almost...

Never Stop Running

By Dr. Melissa Caudle

A modern visionary and one of the newest authors to come from America, Dr. Melissa Caudle combines a suspenseful thriller and the search for truth in regard to past lives and reincarnation in this mind-bending novel in the tradition of “This Body: A Novel of Reincarnation” by Laurel Doud, “Journey of Souls,” by Michael Newton, and Past Lives, “Many Masters” by Brian L. Weiss. The result is a masterful original fiction novel as profound as it is awe inspiring. “Never Stop Running” is a page-turning thriller that begs to be read in a single sitting as this mental time travel spanning centuries and numerous past lives through regression hypnotherapy unfolds.Based on a true story of one woman's struggle to recover her memories after a devastating accident left her with retrograde amnesia. This is an astonishing novel from an unforgettable author and is a must read.What happens when the unthinkable occurs? What would you do if your loved one all of sudden woke up and didn't know who you were or for that matter who your family was either? For David and Jackie Hennessey they had the perfect white picket fence life, marriage, family and careers until the unthinkable happened - an accident that left Jackie with no memory. The couple struggled to find the balance between what they once shared and their new life. After David discovered Dr. Grayson, a well-known regression hypnotherapist, he convinced Jackie to seek his services in order to retrieve her subconscious memories. During her sessions, her memories surfaced only to uncover her past lives which crisscross centuries in her mental time travel. Faced with a moral dilemma of believing the dreams were once a reality and twisting her religious convictions on reincarnation, Jackie questioned her sanity and feared for her life after seeing her deaths in her previous lives. She believed she could never stop running as her marriage degrades and falls apart. Based on real events of regression hypnotic sessions of one brave woman, this is a tale of destiny and soul mates not to be missed. The most intriguing book you'll read all year. You don't have to believe in reincarnation to enjoy this tale, but it will get you to thinking about the possibility.

Never Stop Running is also availble in Audible narrated by Jessie Drum. Listen to an excerpt now.


"The Christopher Daring Adventure" series, is a teen and upwards fantasy saga. 

By Stephen J. Willis

Throughout the series, Christopher and his friends must overcome various despicable foes as they battle with riddles, codes, creatures of the night, deathly spectres and secret orders, as they go in search of Christopher’s missing brother and father. The general theme of each book varies, but the common thread of mystery ties them all together. 

With an unusual mix of science, technology, cosmology, fantasy fiction and a dash of the spiritual self, the Christopher Daring Adventures is a thrilling ride into the impossible. Watch the trailer below.

Becoming Miss Izzy

By Sue Zook and Mary Lazarski

Elizabeth Ann Tantin, dubbed Miss Izzy, by her grandmother, Momo, is a ten-year-old girl like most others. She enjoys hanging with her two best friends and listening to popular music. She loves her dogs, Harmony and Hudson, and loves food even more. Is it any wonder her initials spells eat? She is ordinary enough except she worries she might be too "chubby" or maybe even fat. While fat has its own problems, something else is more worrisome. Deep inside, something makes Elizabeth think and act differently from most girls getting ready for middle school. Elizabeth can't put her finger on it. A small quiet voice in her head causes her to wonder and worry. Watching and paying attention to others often fills her day. Sometimes things make little sense to her and add to her worry and concern. Often, she knows stuff but wonders how that is possible. Other times, she is not sure what to believe and gets confused. Does this happen to other kids, too? On a quest for answers to her most pressing questions, am I fat? What's up with those mean kids? Am I good enough? Did the doctor say I will die? How will I survive the start of middle school? Can I become the girl of my dreams? Elizabeth experiences the worst day of her life at the end of fifth grade. Here spirits crushed by that horrible day, her mom and Momo come to the rescue. Overwhelmed and filled with doubt and fear, Elizabeth embarks on a summer adventure that will change her life forever in more ways than one. Difficult changes with yourself, friends, family, and everyone in between become easier to handle when you learn a few things in life and come to accept who you are becoming, just like Miss Izzy.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

How to Calm Down

July 11, 2019

As I write this blog, I am listening to the weather report for New Orleans; that's where I live.  Wow! We're in for some really heavy rains and flooding. My house has flooded before and after Katrina there was so much damage we couldn't live at the house for two years. I am asking for prayers for all of us in the Gulf South as this storm approaches, makes landfall, and leaves.

On a little lighter note, thank goodness I know about a book called "A Guide on How to Calm Yourself Down," by author C. Kruse. I'm going to need it through this weekend. I highly recommend this book for anyone who needs help. The information in the book is excellent. Here is an interview that I did with him.

Tell your readers a little about yourself, where you grew up, where you live now, where you went to school etc. Let them get to know the personal you.
I grew up in Elgin, Illinois.  It’s a fairly large suburb of Chicago, about forty miles west of downtown.  There, I spent my days riding bikes, sneaking Oreos from the top of the refrigerator, and not liking girls.  At least, until I turned 14.  After that, I still liked Oreos, but almost everything else was different.  Fast forward to sometime later, I went on to graduate from Judson College with a double major.  Then, I got married.  Then, had some kids.  I now pursue writing as a passion, a hobby, and a way of making a living.  Fortunately, my life hasn’t given me a shortage of things to write about, because I have a strong poetic side, which sees the world through a somewhat ironic lens.  It has always been quite natural for me to express myself in original, creative ways.  My wife will attest to this if you doubt me.  Other things?  Let’s see… I was in a rock band for about 9 years.  We played in Japan twice!  I won a scholarship contest at Judson for writing a short article about success.  I have a small group of friends that I’ve known for a long time.  I try to stay in touch with them regularly.  I love fishing.  And, kayaking.  And, both at the same time.  What could be better?  Maybe, doing all that… with an Oreo cookie!
 What inspired you to author this book?
Well, I talk about that a little bit in my introduction.  Basically, I was having the worst tantrum of my life and realized that I was on the verge of making life-altering stupid decisions.  But, some part of me was still smart enough to see that the real problem wasn’t what I thought it was.  The real problem was inside me.  Fortunately, this more-rational part of my brain prevailed, and, rather than engaging in bad impulses, I decided to look for help.  However, that’s when I also came to the realization that help was scarce, and that there weren’t many helpful resources that I could find easily, or which applied to my situation exactly.  I decided to try to write down what I was feeling and found that it gave me clarity.  The next time I was upset, I did this again.  And, again.  Soon, I realized that I was already well on my way to writing my own book.  I had come up with valuable insights that wouldn’t just help me, but anyone who was struggling with the same thing.

Where did you get the inspiration for your book’s cover?
This took me a long time, actually.  At first, I tried making my own cover, which was a total failure.  I think I was using Microsoft Paint.  Yeah… the sparks weren’t really flying.  Upon realizing that I was light years away from designing the masterpiece I wanted, I searched for pictures that reflected the way I feel when I’m worked up.  Yet, I couldn’t find a winner.  They all were either too plain, too serious, or too goofy.  I consulted a designer who helped me land on the right idea, and together, we were off.  She put together this cover, which I think perfectly demonstrates what a worked-up person is feeling.  And, what a worked-up person needs – to have a fire extinguisher blasted at them!
Who has been the most significant influence on you personally and as a writer?
That’s a tough one.  I suppose it depends on the genre.  When it comes to self-help type material, I really admire Brene Brown.  Some of her work has been phenomenal.  I pretty much like (and can relate with) anything she puts out.  I also really like Dale Carnegie’s work.  He helped me learn how to speak better.  Work more confidently.  And, win friends and influence people.  When it comes to fiction (which is not really my specialty as a writer), I’d have to say that I really liked Suzanne Collins’ work in The Hunger Games.  Also, Michael Connelly’s series, featuring Harry Bosch.  I think he is brilliant.
What were your struggles or obstacles you had to overcome to get this book written?
Time.  Having a family will do that.  You have to take advantage of every free second you get.  Also, I found it challenging to organize all of this into one large book.  This book is closing in on 40,000 words, which is larger than anything I’ve made to date.  Oh yeah… another big obstacle was that self-sabotaging voice within, saying, “You’re just a phony.  A liar.  A hypocrite.”  Many times, that voice has rung loudly in my ear, reminding me of all my own imperfections and trying to use them as proof that I don’t have anything valid to offer.  After all, even though I’ve written a book, I still blow it sometimes.  Part of me is always afraid that someone who’s seen me at my worst will find out that I wrote a book about calming down, and laugh.  Or, that someone who read my book might one day bump into me on the street when I’m throwing a tantrum.  Seriously.  It’s not out of the question.  I think that, as a writer of self-help, you have to wrestle with this concern often.  And, you have to take it seriously, because it’s not invalid.  You really don’t want to be a hypocrite.  But, I’ve always taken some comfort in knowing that there wouldn’t be any good self-help books out there if only perfect people were writing them.   And, while I may not have a PHD in all of the subjects I write about, I am the world’s leading expert in my own life experiences.  And, if I can figure out something that helps me out in my own life, it can probably help anyone.  That always speaks louder to me than anything that my nagging accusation voice says!
Tell your readers about your book.
My book is a combination of things.  First, it talks about what it means to be worked up.  The problems that it poses and their significance.  Then, it talks about a lot of the phony narratives that are going through our heads when we’re worked up, and sheds light on what is actually true.  Then, it dives into actual strategies you can use (right now, there are 30) to pull yourself together quickly.  In the end, I talk about a number of different principles that can be focused on that will help you to become more well-rounded overall, and inadvertently, make you better at calming down.
Who is your target audience, and why?
My target audience is really just average people like me, who have similarly looked for answers and found that there just isn’t much to turn to.  If you’ve been there, you know.  You need something that works, or you’re only going to continue on that negative spiral downward.  And, you usually don’t have time to take a warm bubble bath or play a leisurely round of golf.  By then, the crucial moment will have passed, and you’ll have already done or said something stupid that can’t be taken back.
If you were going to give one reason for anyone looking at your book to read, why should they buy it?
Here’s why.  When I’m worked up, I usually want someone else to calm down.  I think they are the problem.  I think that they should get help because of how they’re upsetting me.  But, this is the wrong conclusion.  First of all, I can’t change other people.  I can only change myself.  Second of all, the truth is that I usually am the one who needs to change.  Even when it’s true that everyone around me is worked-up, it doesn’t help when I lump myself in with them as just another guy who needs help.  This book helps drive that point home and points to actual solutions.  I believe that there are many other people out there who need this message pounded into them often – as badly as (or more than) I do.  So many of the people I’ve talked to have said, “Oh, I need to get that book for my husband,” or, “Let me know when you’re done.  My kids need to read it.”  Sure, that may be true.  But, I would say that the people saying this need it all the same, because they’re not realizing how much someone else’s upsetness is upsetting them!  This book offers simple (and effective) advice that works far better than blaming.  We don’t need more complex, scientific jibber jabber that we can’t understand.  We need something that we can relate with.
 Tell me about some of the other books you have written.
Honestly, my writing subjects are a bit ironic, because I find myself writing mostly about things that I’ve struggled with.  Like this book, my others too have started out with just me and a pen – desperately trying to make sense of a problem.  Then, my mind goes to work.  My own creativity helps me bring together a wellspring of solutions for problems that I (and most people) grapple with.  My other books have largely been about relationships.  My most recent book prior to this one, called “How To Connect With The People In Your Life,” talks all about connecting with people, which is strange coming from me, because I’m a total introvert.  I am the guy who would be quite content in Tom Hanks’ scenario in Castaway.  An island adventure with no people?  Great!  Can I stay another week?  Introversion offers some strengths, but I’ve learned it can also take me too far away from the crowd.  Into loneliness.  Into isolation.  That is exactly why I needed to learn (and write) as much as I could about connecting. It was a great and needed experience for me.  It helped me piece together a lot of stuff about my own poorly-maintained relationships.  I learned so much about myself.  A few other books I’ve written are “How not to be defensive,” and “Marriage is Work.”  For me, marriage is work!  Probably, because I’m defensive.  Okay, enough joking.  I’m able to laugh at myself because I know that my work is quality.  I’ve been validated many times by my readers.  Some tell me that I am the one person they are able to relate with.  I get the impression that they’d rather hear from someone who’s dealt with real struggles and isn’t afraid to be honest about it.
What do you consider your greatest success in life?
Staying married.  It truly is hard.  Being a dad.  Having a wife.  Having a mortgage.  Trying to manage it all at once.  It’s an insane juggling act, and I think it’s nothing like any of us predicted it would be when we were younger.  Working to maintain important relationships is probably the hardest (and most rewarding) endeavor that I (or any human) can take on.  That is why I’m so passionate about subjects that deal with this.  Death and taxes are guaranteed.  The good stuff in life is not.  It has to be wanted.  It has to be worked for.
What one unique thing sets you apart from other writers in your genre?
It’s no secret that most genres now are oversaturated with low-quality material.  A lot of people are just trying to make a quick buck, and it’s become hard to separate the real from the fake.  There are seriously people out there who do nothing but pay ghostwriters in the Philipines to crank out cheap books all day.  Then, they slap on a chincy cover and put them up for sale.  You already know this if you’ve taken some chances on Amazon, purchasing a lame, poorly written pamphlet disguised as a book that only empties your wallet of three dollars.  I’m not trying to say that I’m Hemmingway – I just truly do put a lot into what I write.  A lot of heart.  A lot of research.  A TON of time.  I care that my readers have a good experience.  I care that they want to come back.  I care that they’re interested in what else I have to say.  I will edit and re-edit a single paragraph dozens of times so that it says EXACTLY what I want it to say.  I will cut out large sections if I don’t think they fit – even though I am emotionally attached to them.  By the time my book ends up in your hands, it’s been scrutinized, developed, and trimmed down so much, that it’s barely even comparable to what it was when it started.  I don’t think all authors in my genre care so much about their content.
How do you overcome writer’s block?
Raising kids.  They’re great, but they’re hard work, and they get you into a problem-solving state of mind.  Before you know it, you have an idea that you just can’t wait to write down.  Soon, a whole list of ideas.  Your writer’s block is gone.  Poof!  Up in a cloud of smoke.  Writer’s block is a supply/demand type of problem.  You have a demand for words, but your mind can’t supply them.  Life has a way of flipping that around.  You get so immersed in something (like being a dad), and soon you have more to say than you do time to write it.  Fortunately, writer’s block isn’t really a problem for me.  I am rarely lost for words on most subjects that matter to me then, I happen to express them best in the form of writing.  I’ll have to get back to you on this if I ever truly find myself struggling.  Maybe I’ll write a book about it then?