Book Review: Saving Sophie by Debbie Schrack

Blurb:

Seventeen-year-old Gabe Hunter knows he has a purpose in life. He has always strived to be the “best of the best,” but lately nothing has gone his way. Gabe was devastated six months earlier when his half-brother Josh had a drunk driving accident that killed four members of a family and left a sixteen-year-old girl named Sophie an orphan. Josh went to prison and Gabe struggles to forgive him because how can he forgive the unforgivable? When Gabe reluctantly agrees to do math tutoring for his senior service project, he discovers that the girl he will be tutoring is also named Sophie. But in a town of eighty thousand people, what are the odds it will be the same person? Astronomical, Gabe figures.

Gabe soon discovers, though, that it is the same Sophie. A former National Merit Scholar finalist, Sophie had a severe brain injury in the accident. She has seizures, amnesia, and can barely read or write. When he meets her, Gabe realizes what his purpose in life must be—to help Sophie and make amends for his brother. His plan is to spend the rest of the school year tutoring Sophie, then say goodbye and go quietly off to college without ever telling her that his brother was the one who killed her family. What Gabe doesn’t count on is falling in love.

Review:

A very well-written book for young adults with a story that is very much relatable to the lives of today’s young adults. The characterization, the plot development and the story as a whole will interest even adult readers. I love how the author has given equal importance to the male and female lead characters that they resemble the youth’s of this era in terms of the way they communicate and the aspects of their everyday life. A great entertaining read!

Author Interview with Jeffery L Cheney

Jeff has worked as a civilian contract mechanic for the US Army, a heavy equipment mechanic, a High School teacher, and currently works in high technology computer chip manufacturing.

Jeff has been writing science fiction and fantasy stories for enjoyment for over thirty-five years and has published four SF novels with his brothers; Dead Reckoning, Day of Reckoning, Force of Reckoning and Final Reckoning. They have also published a collection of short stories, Outward BoundForged by Betrayal is his first solo SF novel.

He enjoys coaching youth basketball, working on cars and doing woodworking when the time allows.

He has three grown children and he lives in a small town in NW Oregon with his wife of 34 years.

Describe yourself in five words

  Quiet, relaxed

What fact about yourself would really surprise people? 

 I am ultra-competitive at sports and games to the point where I had to quit playing board games and card games at my In-Laws to avoid conflicts.

How do you work through self-doubts and fear? 

This has been a problem all of my life. I had to go see a Doctor at the age of 5 because I was developing an ulcer due to stress and anxiety. I just focus on the end goals and continue to work hard. I try to ignore any doubts and just keep going.   

What scares you the most? 

A lack of perfection.

What makes you happiest?

Finishing a project. I can always see how many problems there are with any book or story. It can never be perfect. But being able to say, this is done, this is good enough to publish and be okay with that. Any problems that are left are minimal. I’m happy just to be able to say, ‘I’ve finished.’

Why do you write? 

This I’ve had stories inside my head since I was little. When my kids were young, I’d tell them bedtime stories that we would make up every night. It was great to get these stories out of my head. Writing lets me do that.

Have you always enjoyed writing? 

Writing is not the path that I headed into early. I wrote stories in High School and always had stories in my head but I was a science and engineering guy in High School and College. I never thought about writing as a career until two of my brothers asked me to write with them.

What writing are you most proud of? 

I think that my first novel with my brothers Dead Reckoning, will always be the book I am most proud of. Mostly because it was the first novel that I completed from beginning to end. The persistence needed to get to that point is tremendous. There are so many points where it would be easier to quit. Just being able to finish made me feel like I was really a writer.

What are you most proud of in your personal life? 

I’m proud that my 2 daughters and my son have grown up to be good, happy adults. That they learned how to be happy and make choices that allow them to live lives that will let them do the things they want to do.

What books did you love growing up? 

My mom started reading to us when I was very young. She started with the OZ books and then went on to mysteries, like the Bobbsey Twins and Hardy Boys and finally when I was about 8, she introduced me to Robert Heinlein science fiction books. I was hooked. I have been reading science fiction and fantasy books ever since then. I still read a diverse grouping of genres and I still love mysteries.

What else do you do, other than write? 

I still work full-time in the computer manufacturing industry; I also work on rebuilding cars with my son and I enjoy woodworking.

What other jobs have you had in your life? 

This I have done many things in my life including working as a civilian contractor for the US Army, repairing tanks and armored personnel carriers. I’ve been a Heavy Equipment Mechanic, I’ve taught High School Auto Mechanics, Welding, Wood Shop, and coached High School Football and Basketball. I’ve also taught Computer Programming, Javascript, C++, Unix and computer hardware repair.

If you could study any subject at university what would you pick? 

This is a hard one for me because as you can see, my interests are wide-ranging. I don’t know for sure if I would change my path or try to be more focused. I am happy with the path of my life so I don’t know if I would change anything. Although, maybe if I went back and became a pharmacist…

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? 

This is also a hard question for me. I lived for a couple of years in Ecuador and visited limited parts of Peru. A few years ago, my wife and I spent six weeks traveling in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. These are all beautiful places and I have met great, wonderful people in each of these places, I could live in any of them comfortably. They are all wonderful places. I would probably be more comfortable somewhere in South America because I learned the language while living there. But for me, anywhere that is quiet and peaceful is where I want to be.

Tell us about your family?

First of all, I started writing with 2 of my brothers so I need to start with them. I have six brothers, five of them are younger than me. Several years ago, Craig, Jared and I were all working in the same area and we started meeting for lunches on Fridays. While we were doing this, we started planning and writing a novel. It took us several years to complete and get it published but we have continued writing together, even though we no longer live or work together anymore.

My wife and I have been married for 34 years and live in a small town in the woods of NW Oregon. Our 3 children are all grown and living in Boston, MA, Utah and Oregon.

We also have three wonderful granddaughters.

How do you write – lap top, pen, paper, in bed, at a desk?

I like to write with a laptop while sitting in my recliner. I’ve tried various methods and I even have two different desks set up to write at but this is the way that I seem to write the most. Because of a back surgery several years ago, it is hard to sit in a desk chair for vary long so I usually end up back in the recliner. 

How much sleep do you need to be your best? 

As time goes on, I find that I only need about 5-6 hours of sleep per night to function, as long as I take a 30 minute break in the middle of the day and rest completely, maybe nap for half an hour and then finish the day. I do find that I do most of my best work in the morning.

Is there anyone you’d like to acknowledge and thank for their support?

My wife Gienah is a great support. I couldn’t do anything if she didn’t put up with me and all of the time I put into my writing.

It is vital to get exposure and target the right readers for your writing, tell us about your marketing campaign?

I am changing my campaign at this point. I had been doing a lot of FB ads and BookBub ads but I just hadn’t been getting in front of SF readers in a way that seemed to be effective. This is part of my new start so I will see how this goes. I’m looking at getting onto book blogs instead of my past ads.

Tell us about your new book? Why did you write it?  

My newest book, Forged by Betrayal, was started as a project for a course I was taking at Arizona State University. The course was called ‘My Novel Year’. As a process of the course, the students would create a manuscript for a novel and would learn how to craft the characters and the plot. I was taking the course to help build my skills as a writer. When the course was completed, I had the novel completed but wasn’t happy with it. It took me several years and three rewrites before I was happy with the story. The main story is the same but I like the flow of the plot much better now. The story takes two arcs, the first is a Marine lieutenant arriving at a new planet, just before it erupts into a revolution. She works hard to keep her Marines alive and to track down the cause of the revolution, to try to end the war. The second arc of the book is the daughter of the hereditary planetary governor who is brought out of the palace during the revolution by the last two remaining members of her protection detail. They try to keep her alive as the revolutionaries hunt her to either kill her or control her.

I loved writing this book and finally getting it to a place where it felt right.

When you are not writing, how do you like to relax?

Like many writers, I am a great reader. I spend a lot of time reading when I am not writing. I also like to do woodworking, I like to build things so I spend a lot of time in my woodshop. I am just starting to build a small grandfather clock for my son’s wedding gift. 

What do you hope people will take away from your writing? How will your words make them feel?

As I said before, I am a great reader. There is a great feeling when you have read a book or story and know those characters are part of you forever. I just want to write stories that touch people that way.

An Interview with Author Ewandro Magalhaes

I am a conference interpreter with 30 years of experience interpreting for world leaders, pop stars and ordinary people from every walk of life. The list includes heads of State like presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Lula da Silva, and the Dalai Lama.

As a former Chief Interpreter in the United Nations system in Geneva, I helped blaze new trails in the use of technology for the remote, multilingual delivery of language services.

Of the many things I do, writing is what I enjoy the most. It is also what I have done the longest. Putting ideas on paper is a passion that goes as far back as I can remember.

I am the author of fiction and non-fiction works. I contribute regular articles to specialized journals in the field of language, and I have three books in print. My latest book — The Language Game — provides a behind-the-scenes look at one of the most stressful occupations known to man: simultaneous interpreting.

I have also authored two viral TED-Ed Lessons that have been watched millions of time. I am also a TEDx Speaker and international keynote speaker.

I am a national and a permanent legal resident of the United States. I speak five languages and I have lived on three continents before settling with my family in New York City.

Describe yourself in five words

I am a conference interpreter (a.k.a. simultaneous translator), former Chief Interpreter in the United Nations system, writer, and international TEDx speaker. I am also the co-Founder of a startup that is reinventing the multilingual online meeting space.

What fact about yourself would really surprise people? 

I am originally from Brazil. I have lived in California, Washington, D.C., Geneva, Switzerland, and Brazil before settling in New York City with my family. Now, here is a fact that I believe most people will find interesting. My name – Magalhaes – which is almost impossible to pronounce in English, is the original Portuguese name for Magellan (the seaman who first sailed around the globe). So, if you don’t know how to say it, you can call me Magellan. It makes me feel extra proud!

How do you work through self-doubts and fear? 

Fear is an interpreter’s constant companion, and in time you learn to work through it. I do the same when I am writing. At the end of the day, facing one’s fears is an act of reconciliation, rather than confrontation. It is accepting our imperfections and presenting ourselves as a work in progress, in all our vulnerability.

What scares you the most? 

The thought of never changing, daring or going beyond one’s comfort zone. I guess I am the opposite of most people in that regard. I am always moving, always trying new things. It is the only way to live life, if you ask me.

What makes you happiest? 

Spending time with my family (my lovely wife, our three children, our grandson, and Freddie, our little Yorkie (who just turned 15 today!)

Why do you write?

I write to share knowledge and memories, basically. I am not an imaginative fiction writer, but I produce very imaginative and engaging non-fiction (or so I was told). We all have knowledge to share, which could be beneficial for others. It would be a shame and in a way selfish to keep it to ourselves. 

Have you always enjoyed writing? 

I don’t enjoy writing as much as I enjoy ‘having written’ a book or tale that was dying to get out there. What I am trying to say is that I utterly enjoy the feeling once the book is done. But the writing part is often laborious and emotionally packed. It is a rich experience, but not always light.

What motivates you to write? 

I have been privileged with opportunities and challenges that most people would only dream of: living abroad, rubbing shoulders with the powerful and famous (as an interpreter), getting to witness firsthand some historic moments, founding and growing a multi-million dollar company. I feel obliged to share my story. I feel it my duty to help blaze the trail for those who come after me.

What writing are you most proud of?

My first book on interpreting, written in Portuguese (Sua Majestade, o Intérprete) springs to mind. It meant a lot to me, of course, but it meant a lot for the interpreting profession. It was the first book ever written in Portuguese about the craft of interpreters.

I am also very proud of an animated TED video I authored, under the title of How Interpreters Juggle Two Languages at Once (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXNTArhA0Jg). It has reached over 1.5 million views and it introduced the craft of interpreting to a mass audience.

What are you most proud of in your personal life? 

My biggest success is my family, especially the incredible children my wife and I raised. I say children, but the youngest is now 25! My career is also a source of much pride. I am mission driven, and I took many calculated (and not-so-calculated) risks that eventually panned out. From very modest beginnings in Brazil, I went all the way up to land a job as the Chief Interpreter of a United Nations agency in Geneva and to later quit that job and found a very successful start-up. If anybody had told me as a kid that I would do any of those things, I would suggest having their heads examined.

What books did you love growing up? 

I learned to read on my own (with the help of my fathers battered Remington typewriter) and I spent most of my formative years reading anything I could lay my hands on. Through most of my teens, I was a very avid reader of fiction as well as non-fiction. There were times when I was reading one book a day.

What do you hope your obituary will say about you? 

I find it a bit egotistical to want to be remembered long after we are gone. I don’t have any expectation that my name will survive those who actually shared their space and their love with me. Yet for those, I would like to remain as a positive reminder of someone who tried very hard to be kind, fair, and fun.

Location and life experiences can really influence writing, tell us where you grew up and where you now live? 

I was born and raised in Brazil, and I lived in Brasilia, the country’s capital, until the age of 45, when I then left the country to study. Brasilia is a city built from scratch in the late 1950s as a way to integrate a continental country such as Brazil. By bringing the capital inland, we were able to claim and develop parts of the territory that otherwise would have been claimed by our neighbors in South America.

Now, in my day, Brasilia was pretty much a ghost city, with a population of foreigners living under a rather odd climatic and social atmosphere. It was also a city without crossroads, with everything divided into sectors, and wide enough to discourage any walking. No-one had a template of how to live in a place like that, and we had to write the user’s manual as we went.

That gave us a lot of freedom to explore and carve our own niches. I guess that, in a way, made me the entrepreneur I later became.

But I also traveled the world, with long trips to Africa, Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, and Asia. I have seen a bit of it all.

How did you develop your writing?

I guess at first I just wanted to imitate my father and grow in his image. Dad was a very talented writer of short stories. He was my first and perhaps only role model in writing.

What is hardest – getting published, writing or marketing? 

It used to be getting published, but now, with the advent of Amazon and other online retailers, that it taken care of. So, I would say writing remains as the most laborious, gut-wrenching experience. Marketing is hard enough, but there are rules you can follow. You can’t say that about writing.

 What marketing works for you? 

I do a lot of bulk sales in connection with my speaking gigs. Other than that, word of mouth and some limited online promotions seem to do the trick.

Do you find it hard to share your work? 

Not really. I am often engaged as a speaker, and although I do not talk specifically about the book, I always look for ways to schedule a book signing along with most talks.

Is your family supportive? Do your friends support you? 

My family, especially my wife, is absolutely supportive. I could not do any writing without their understanding and support.

What else do you do, other than write? 

I am a conference interpreter by training. I have spent my life (well, the last 30 years, at least) lending my voice to heads of state and government, pop starts, Nobel laureates, and ordinary people from every walk of life. I translate their speeches in real-time, from English into one of my working languages and back. I have interpreted for 5 Brazilian presidents, 2 American presidents, the Dalai Lama, Lenny Kravitz, Alanis Morrisette, and dozens of prime-ministers and politicians from all over the world.

What other jobs have you had in your life? 

Oh, my. I started as a PE teacher and swimming instructor (I have a BA in fitness and physical education). I then proceeded to land a dream job at the Brazilian Congress, where I stayed for about 7 years. It paid really well, especially for someone in their mid 20s, but I was getting bored out of my mind. I eventually quit that job and started my own business –a translation agency—which I ran and grew for the next 17 years, having my wife as my partner. At the time I grew a lot as an interpreter, and we eventually decided to come to the U.S. for a Master’s degree in interpretation (at the Monterey Institute, in California –now called Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey).

After that I became a high-level diplomatic interpreter, working for the IMF, the World Bank, the State Department, the OAS, and other multilateral organizations. Then came the United Nations (7 years in Geneva) and my experience as a co-founder and Chief Language Officer of KUDO, a language technology company (my current occupation).

Oh, wait… I also worked for Lufthansa Airlines for about two years. Those were fun days, travelling carefree –and for 10% of the lowest fare—anywhere in the world.

If you could study any subject at university what would you pick? 

I love psychology and history. So, one of these two, for sure.

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? 

I kind of did! We have been fortunate to live in the most scenic places in the world: Monterey, CA, Washington, D.C., Switzerland, and, of course, Brazil.

But if you ask me where I belong, I will tell you Brazil, hands down.

Tell us about your family? 

I guess I already did. I have been married to Mena, my loving wife, for 30 years. We have three beautiful children (two girls and a boy) and a 6-year-old grandson. Freddie, the Yorkie, is also part of the family. He’s been with us for 15 years.

How do you write – lap top, pen, paper, in bed, at a desk? 

I haven’t used a pen in 20 years. I do all of my writing on a computer (a MacBook Air, these days).

How much sleep do you need to be your best? .

I am good with 5 and a half hours of sleep. In fact, I wake up groggy if I try to sleep beyond that.

Is there anyone you’d like to acknowledge and thank for their support? 

No-one is self-made. As I said, I would not be here without the loving support of my wife and children. I also have a debt of gratitude towards my father, for being such a great role model in writing, and to my mother, who very early on filled the shelves of our home with books, especially poetry. That really left a mark on me.

Every writer has their own idea of what a successful career in writing is, what does success in writing look like to you? 

To me, the most rewarding experience is not in the numbers, but in the feedback I receive from my readers. To hear that I helped them through, or that they felt inspired to change something about their lives, is priceless. I guess, at a deeper level, I write to transform. And those testimonials, that kind of feedback, shows me I am on track.

 It is vital to get exposure and target the right readers for your writing, tell us about your marketing campaign? 

I have none! My readers are mostly interpreters or, more accurately, aspiring translators and interpreters (young men and women who speak different languages and would like to do something with that skill).

Tell us about your new book? Why did you write it? 

The Language Game: Inspiration & Insight for Interpreters is a compilation of stories and advice to anyone who loves languages and looks for ways to apply their skills in the real world. The book is the result of 30+ years of experience as a professional linguist. But it is a very relatable book, with stories and trivia that will appeal to non-interpreters as well. Language is such a fascinating subject! My book unlocks a number of secrets employed by interpreters. It brings the reader into the interpretation booth for a close-up look at one of the most exciting (and most stressful) occupations known to man.

If you could have a dinner party and invite anyone dead or alive, who would you ask? 

I would love an opportunity to catch up with dad. He left us in 2001, still at a very early age. We would have a great time finishing some of the conversations we left pending.

When you are not writing, how do you like to relax? 

I am a former PE teacher, remember? So, relaxing for me equals exercising. If the sun is shining, you will probably find me outdoors, on my bike, running or walking. If it is cloudy, I will probably hide in the gym for some resistance workout.

What do you hope people will take away from your writing? How will your words make them feel?

I hope my improbable journey –of how someone from Brazil, who didn’t speak English until late in his teens, ends up interpreting for kings and queens, at the United Nations and beyond—will excite them and encourage them to pursue their dreams.

I believe my website does a good job of summarizing under one roof a lot of information about me: https://ewandro.com

Book Review: They Called Him Marvin by Roger Stark

Blurb:

They were just kids, barely not teenagers, madly in love and wanting to be a family, but WW2 got in their way. Three hundred ten days before Pearl Harbor, buck private Dean Sherman innocently went to church with a new friend in Salt Lake City. From that moment, the unsuspecting soldier travelled a remarkable, heroic path, falling in love, graduating from demanding training to become a B29 pilot, conceiving a son and entering the China, Burma and India theater of the WW2. He chronicled his story with letters home to his bride Connie that he met on that fateful Sunday, blind to the fact that fifteen hundred seventy-five days after their meeting, a Japanese swordsman would end his life. His crew, a gaggle of Corporals that dubbed themselves the Corporalies, four officers and a tech Sargent, adventured their way across the globe. Flying the “Aluminum Trail” also called the Hump through the Himalayas, site of the most dangerous flying in the world. Landing in China to refuel and then fly on to places like Manchuria, Rangoon or even the most southern parts of Japan to drop 500 pounders. Each mission had its challenges, minus fifty-degree weather in Mukden, or Japanese fighters firing away at them, a close encounter of the wrong kind, nearly missing a collision with another B29 while flying in clouds, seeing friends downed and lost because of “mechanicals,” the constant threat of running out of fuel and their greatest fear, engine fire. Transferred to the Mariana Islands, he and his crew were shot down over Nagoya, Japan as part of Mission 174, captured and declared war criminals. Connie’s letters reveal life for a brand-new mother whose husband is declared MIA. The agony for both of them; he in a Japanese prison, declared a war criminal, and she just not knowing why his letters stopped coming. Lilliyana Shadowlyn’s review: This was an amazing book. This isn’t a look at war through rose colored glasses, but one that shows the reader what life was like for people from many backgrounds. A soldier, his love left behind on the home front, and those that were considered the enemy at the time. This was an intimate story that doesn’t focus only on the war and pulls the reader in quickly and easily. Historical fiction lovers, those with an interest in war history, and anyone just looking to take a few steps back in time will greatly enjoy reading this. Another reviewer explains: “I am a fan of historical fiction and this story did not disappoint. It was sweet, tragic, personal, and moving. Gradually and almost imperceptibly, the story of two wartime sweethearts begins circling the drain of a tragedy you know is coming. The book begins with the ending, but by the time you get there you have convinced yourself that it can’t possibly be the case. I enjoyed every moment, even the ones that left me in tears. The letters between Connie and Dean provided a fascinating glimpse into wartime life. Reading the experiences of people both at home and abroad was very engaging. I found myself eagerly awaiting the next letter, right along with the young couple! Lastly, the book left me with an overwhelming acknowledgement of the universal trauma and tragedy of war. The Sherman’s are not the only family we meet in the book and the weaving together of several different narratives added a depth to the story that’s hard to put into words. I definitely encourage anyone to read this book, especially if historical novels are not something you typically read. This is a story about people and you won’t want it to end.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Review:

If you love reading stories from the past and those on wars, you will enjoy this story. I love how the letters between Connie and Dean depict the love between them, the losses, yearnings and hard time during war. The letters are the real letters the couple sent to each other during the war. A mix between fictional story and true events based on research, this story hooks readers of the modern world, especially in the post
pandemic time, when we have gone through separation and pain, that can evoke the emotions people would have felt back in World War 2. It also beautifully depicts the challenges soldiers go through in their
daily lives, one that is full of emotional pain and the anxiousness in not knowing what is to come next in life, given the uncertain nature of war. As Connie becomes a mother, her husband goes through a difficult time and the letter exchange between them abruptly stops. This is when the readers are brought into a real emotional roller coaster.

An Interview with Author Anthony Jordan

Hi, I’m Anthony Jordan. As a young child, I enjoyed and played a variety of sports. And as a young adult, I still enjoy sports, and being a coach has been one of the things that brought me joy. I’ve always had a passion for writing, although I didn’t know it would lead me down this current path, especially because I acquired my degree in business management. As a young adult, the challenges I have experienced in recent years have increased my desire to share my experiences to inspire and encourage others. My new novel ‘Remembering You’ was born out of my tremendous grief of losing my fiancé and a desire to bring self-healing. My new direction is to continue writing, doing philanthropy work, traveling the world, and sharing my experiences.

Where are you from?

I am from Central Florida

Why do you write?

To inspire and encourage others to find the tools they need to find themselves again by sharing my life experiences.

What do you write about? 

I’m a new author. So, my debut novel was about trauma, grief from the tragic loss of my fiance, and self-healing. There’s other niches that I’ll be venturing into, but with the way my novel ends I don’t want to reveal anything just yet.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I’m not sure yet. I’ve been told that I have a unique style. For now, I’ll say my writing style is raw.

What are obstacles that come in the way of writing? 

Getting stuck in my own head. I found myself enjoying the brain storm process a little too much.

What’s the most memorable thing asked/said by a reader about your work?

One person told me that they felt all the emotions I poured into my book and recognized how therapeutic it must have been for me.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing poetry since I was in high school. And I’ve always kept a journal, in which I crafted a few book and movie script ideas.

When did you first realize you wanted to become a writer?

In 2020, when the pandemic put the entire world on pause.

What is your work schedule like when you are writing?

I find that I am the most productive when everyone in my world is asleep. So, I’ll write from 3 pm EST until 6 or 7 am EST.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I like to handwrite most of my thoughts before I enter them into my manuscript.

How long does it take to write a book?

It took me 17 months to write my first novel, including the editing process.

Do you have suggestions on how to become a better writer?

Read a lot of books and reach out to a few beta readers and editorial review companies in addition to your family and friends for feedback, and always seek the assistance of at least two different editors.

What challenges do you come across when writing/creating your story?

Finding a quiet space and being decisive. It takes me a while to organize my thoughts.

What do you think makes a good story?

One that makes you feel like you’re in the story, but leaves a few details to the imagination.

What does your family think of your writing?

They’re impressed with my ability to hold their attention throughout the story.

Do you see writing as a career?

Yes. Writing has always been a passion of mine. I love the freedom of coming up with an idea and turning into something people will enjoy and can benefit from the content.

Do you have anything specific you’d like to tell the readers?

Take time for yourself to live life to the fullest and thrive, because you’re worth it.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When ‘Remembering You’ was released. I could finally call myself an author, as my idea was officially a novel.

An Interview with Author I.Y. Maslow 

-Have you always enjoyed writing?

Yes, ever since I was 12 years old. It’s always been my escape from the world. Whenever my parents were fighting or life was too tough, I turned to writing.

-What writings are you most proud of?

My new novel: In The Back Of My Head. Which I published at 18 years old.

How do you write?

People are going to be surprised by this but most of my book was written on my iPhones notes app. I find I’m most creative there, but if I ever get writers block, I pull out good old fashioned pen and paper.

-What else do you do besides write?

I happily assist developmentally disabled adults in their day to day tasks.

-How much sleep do you need to be your best?

Depends, without coffee 10 hours. With coffee 6.

-What’s the most memorable thing said by a reader about your work?

Honestly, everything a reader tells me is memorable, but the single most memorable thing was a reader genuinely telling me my work could rival Stephen King’s.

Author Interview with Catalina Tagarta

Nothing is harder than writing about myself. I’ve been working as an editor since university. I also ” tested out” as a teacher for a very short time, alongside being a journalist, only to realise that although I love working with children, I love writing more and more.

In my 10+ years in journalism and a few years in public relations, I’ve had the idea several times to create a blog, where I could put my thoughts, but this only came to life after I had my second child. That was when I was writing the last pages of the memory book I had started when I delivered my first son. And as more and more people asked me how we were doing in the formula of 4, I thought maybe it would be helpful to leave my notes out for others to see. And that way I’d have access to our memories, too, when I wanted to. That’ s how http://www.tagarta.ro was started, a soul project that is just beginning.

Author Catalina Tagarta:

“If I manage to help even one person with my book, then all my work has not been in vain”

1. Describe yourself in five words!

Five words to describe me? Well: dreamy, generous, sensitive, faithful, diplomatic or conciliatory.

2. What fact about yourself would really surprise people?

For a while I had very low self-esteem, because of some events I went through. It took me a long time to understand that it wasn’t my fault. Not even my child’s illness is, although we mothers tend to blame ourselves when we find out something is wrong with our children. It was necessary to work hard on myself to get rid of the limiting beliefs I had, I invested a lot of time and money in personal development, training and coaching programs, because in turn I want to help mothers who are going through the same challenges that I had to deal with.

3. How do you work through self-doubts and fear?

I thought that’s what you were going to ask. Self-doubts can manifest in many forms. It may have to do with the fact that you haven’t prepared yourself well enough for what you want to do, or that you have had similar experiences in the past that didn’t work out well for you, or that you think about how you might be perceived by others. It helped me to make a list of 100 of the values I hold, and to read it daily, and when I discover something new, to add to it. In addition, my mentor at the time challenged me to write down the limiting beliefs I have in my diary, and next to each one to write down the action that benefits me. For example, under the limiting belief:

“I fear failure – others have succeeded, but I will not”, I write down: “I am human, just like others, so I can succeed just like them. If I don’t try I will never know if I would have succeeded or not”. Mistakes are constructive. The important thing is to act every day in the direction of our dream. Am I afraid? It’s normal to feel that way. But I want to live a constructive fear, which does not panic me, but leads me to act rationally, towards my main goal.

4. What scares you the most? 

That there will be no peace in the world. I have kids… and I want to know they are safe.

5. What makes you happiest?

The gratitude of the people I help in one form or another. And the happiness that I see on my children’s faces when I play with them.

6. Why do you write?

I write out of a desire to help those around me, to add value through the messages and experiences I share that may prove life-saving for a few.

7. Have you always enjoyed writing?

Yes, for all my life. When I was little I loved literature class, I used to write stories on any topic. And later I worked as a journalist. I love doing interviews, but I like more to write from the heart, about my experiences.

8. What motivates you to write?

If I manage to help even one person with my words, or my book, then all my work has not been in vain.

9. What writing are you most proud of?

I am proud of the book “Mom of Two. Parenting tips for raising healthy and confident children – Study case: Erik and gluten-free life at 3”, inspired by our life. I put my heart and soul into the book and I’m sure there are many moms who will relate to the story.

10. What are you most proud of in your personal life?

I am proud of my children. I feel fulfilled, because I waited for them for a long time. I’ll probably write a memoir about that, soon.

11. What books did you love growing up?

Among my favourites were The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, after all, I’m a dreamer, I like to keep my wings spread, to fly. Of course, I also liked the stories about fairies and fairy-tales. At this time I’m studying John C. Maxwell’s books a lot. I’m proud to be a member of the John Maxwell Group for a while.

 12. What do you hope your obituary will say about you?

What a good question! I want people to perceive me as a warm person, who adds value to those around him through his words and actions. After all, we don’t take anything with us into the afterlife. But we will have the satisfaction of having done, or not, a lot of good throughout our lives.

Link to the author’s book on Amazon

13. Location and life experiences can really influence writing, tell us where you grew up and where you now live?

I grew up in a small town and spent my school holidays with my grandmother, being originally from Eastern Europe. What a beautiful childhood I had there! I like to travel a lot, so now I can say I am a little bit of every place I go.

14. How did you develop your writing?

I have simply written, always.

15. What is hardest – getting published, writing or marketing? 

I think the hardest part is what you don’t quite master, that part where you don’t have enough experience. In my case it’s marketing. I started studying marketing strategies a while ago, but I don’t want to spend too much time on that, because I want to stay focused on writing. I have a few more titles in mind.

16. Do you find it hard to share your work?

Very hard. And I’m still excited. I’m curious what feedback I’ll get, but, like I said… if my message helps at least one person, I declare myself satisfied. As the John Maxwell Team mentors always suggest: “If someone is out there waiting for your message, go help them! You don’t have the RIGHT to stand by and do nothing to help!”

17. Is your family supportive? Do your friends support you?

Yes. And that’s very helpful.

18. What else do you do, other than write? 

I love cooking, travelling and I’m passionate about photography. As my husband likes to joke: “I turn into a paparazzi when I grab the camera”.

19. What other jobs have you had in your life?

Editor/ journalist and public relations specialist.

20. If you could study any subject at university what would you pick? 

I have finished my university studies and have a Master’s degree in Ethnology and Anthropology, currently studying personal development materials. If I had to go to another university, I would probably choose Psychology. It would help me to address people better.

21. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?

Wherever my family is. But preferably in a warm country.

22. Tell us about your family?

I’m a committed family person. Married for… a little over 10 years, I have two young boys, spoiled by grandparents, uncle and maternal aunt. My husband is an amazing man, who supports me in everything I do and is a wonderful father.

23. How do you write – laptop, pen, paper, in bed, at a desk?

I usually write on my computer/laptop, but there are days when I also jot down my ideas on my phone or on a piece of paper when I’m on the go, then when I get to the computer I create the story around that idea.

24. How much sleep do you need to be your best?

I need at least 6 hours of sleep. I know the ideal would be 8, but with two young kids and lots of projects… it’s hard to get everything done just during daylight hours. I do my most writing late at night, when it’s completely quiet in the house.

25. Is there anyone you’d like to acknowledge and thank for their support?

There are several people, but I wouldn’t want to list and omit anyone. Most of all I am grateful to God… and I thank him daily for all that I have and all that I am.

26. Every writer has their own idea of what a successful career in writing is, what does success in writing look like to you? 

A successful career as a writer, for me, means having my audience resonate with me and my ideas, waiting each time for a new release with the hope that this time too they will have something to learn, or simply relax reading my work.

https://www.facebook.com/catalina.tagarta

27. It is vital to get exposure and target the right readers for your writing, tell us about your marketing campaign?

As a beginning book writer, I don’t have a great marketing strategy in place yet. I’m still working on it. My targets are mothers who feel overwhelmed, mothers with sick children and mothers who want to become a better version of themselves. I resonate with people who are constantly in the process of growing, developing.

28. Tell us about your new book? Why did you write it?

The book started as a game. When my almost 3 year old boy was diagnosed with celiac disease, I was constantly struggling to explain to him WHY he was no longer allowed to eat gluten. So I started making up stories. Every night, I used to tell him about a little boy, Eric, who doesn’t eat gluten. And how he manages to overcome all the challenges. When appropriate, I also introduced his little brother, giving him examples of how Eric managed to handle conflicts with him in a way that no one got hurt and everyone had the most to gain. I started writing the stories, and then I got the idea to put them all together in a book. A book in which I also added valuable medical information, provided by a specialist doctor who is also a patient, so she knows very well what it means to keep such a strict diet. You can find it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3JSVSfE The title is: “Mom of Two: Parenting tips for raising healthy and confident children – Study case: Erik and gluten-free life at 3 years old”.

29. When you are not writing, how do you like to relax?

I like to meditate.

30. What do you hope people will take away from your writing? How will your words make them feel?

I remember when I had no children and I used to search the forums for any question about fertility, for example. Then, after I had my second baby, I desperately searched through books and the internet for solutions on how to divide myself between my two children, how to meet their needs and connect equally well with both of them… There will always be people looking for such things. It’s inevitable. And through my stories, I hope to shed some light into the lives of these readers. If after reading my book they’re left with at least 2-3 ideas, I declare myself satisfied.

Book Review: IF MUSIC BE The FOOD Of LOVE by Lenny Cavallaro

Immortal Beloved meets Fifty Shades of Grey, Sophie’s Choice, The Godfather, and The Reincarnation of Peter Proud in this spell-binding love story that involves classical music, kinky sex, the Holocaust, the Mafia, the psychic/occult, “soul fractions,” and a 2,000-year-old curse.

For twenty-eight years the Curse has lain dormant, waiting and gathering strength. Soon it will strike one last time, a lethal blow designed to destroy them.

Twenty-eight years earlier, the Curse relied upon a viper to deliver a fatal dosage of poison, but somehow Elena Bianchi survived. Next time the Curse will have far more dangerous weapons at its disposal.

Elena is more astute than the others. The Curse realizes that unlike her predecessors, she can somehow sense its presence and anticipate its movements. Her skills are great, but the Curse now knows where she is most vulnerable.

As the saga begins, Elena and Giovanni move freely between the worlds of classical music and extremely kinky sex. However, only Elena will develop a spiritual awareness of the true history they share.

In this four-part series, the battle lines are drawn. Either Elena will die, or she will put an end to the Curse, once and for all.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

If you are a fan of 50 Shades, you would love reading the work of Cavallaro. A kinky story intertwined with musical saga, and some sci-fi elements, rendering it an unusually great read, leaving the reader feeling refreshed and energized. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for an out-of-the-norm kinky read.

An Interview with Author Robin Brooks

Robin Brooks is a new writer, and author of the gratitude series Attitude of Gratitude: 30 Day Gratitude Journal. An educator at heart, Robin has spent the last several years researching the importance and benefits of gratitude, mindfulness, and happiness. Robin has enjoyed reading self-help books for years and began creating journals and habit trackers three years ago. Robin lives and works in her hometown of Washington, DC, and spends her free time traveling and researching. If you are interested in making gratitude a daily habit, look no further, Robin’s journals are sure to help.

Where are you from?

I am from Washington, DC.

Describe yourself in five words

I am funny, thoughtful, genuine, smart, and kind.

What fact about yourself would really surprise people?

A fact about myself that would surprise people is that I am a homebody. I enjoy relaxing around the house and creating crafts or writing.

What do you write about?

I enjoy writing self-help books. Gratitude and mindfulness are my areas of interest. Both gratitude and mindfulness can have a long-lasting impact on one’s life by improving our emotional health and physical health. 

Why do you write?

I am a new writer. I realized last year after losing my grandmother that I wanted to pursue my passion for writing. I’ve just begun to self-publish books beginning with gratitude journals.

How long does it take to write a book?

It takes me about a week to write a gratitude journal. I like to take time and be thoughtful about the journal content.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

My interesting writing quirk is that I like to appeal to everybody. I have gratitude journals for women, men, and children.

How do you work through self-doubts and fear?

I work through self-doubts and fear by being completely present in the moment.  I do a lot of positive self-talk to combat self-doubts and fear. I’m big on speaking things into existence, so I say a mantra or set an intention for myself.

How do you write – lap top, pen, paper, in bed, at a desk?

I do my best writing on my laptop at a desk.

How much sleep do you need to be your best?

I need about 6 hours to be at my best.

Is your family supportive? Do your friends support you?

I would like to thank my family and friends for their support. No matter what, they are always in my corner and rooting me on. I love them!

Tell us about your new book? Why did you write it?  

My latest book is a gratitude journal for pregnant people. I wrote this journal so pregnant people can take note of the moments that they are most thankful for during their pregnancy. A little something to help them receive a positive mindset for themselves and their baby.

What do you hope people will take away from your writing? How will your words make them feel?

I want people to take away that my journals were designed to be simple and yet thoughtful. They were designed to serve as a self-exploration tool to make you feel more thankful and build a new outlook on life. These journals are perfect for oneself or as gifts.

Book Review by Jas: Brick – by – Brick – Reshape Your Thinking

Be Inspired, Reshape Your Thinking, and See Life From A Different Perspective – Achieve Greater Things and Understand Who You Are as a Person. Rebuild the Foundation of Your Life and Heal From Past Traumas With These 11 Bricks!

Have you always wondered why you are the way you are?

Do you bury past problems in hopes of never seeing them again?

Would you like to heal yourself and rebuild the foundation of your life?

Many people fail to realize that the reason they aren’t able to move forward in life is because they’ve spent so much time ‘digging’ holes to bury away problems and trauma. We believe that by hiding those small problems, we’ll never have to deal with them again.

But, in the end, those minor problems are just amplified and grow larger and larger until they begin to bring you down. 

We must understand that in order to heal, we must face reality.

With Brick-by-Brick, see your life from a different perspective and reshape your thinking. Realize that the more you ‘dig’ and the more you convince yourself you don’t have a problem, you’re going further down.

In this book, you’ll discover:

  • The 11 Bricks to a new life: Learn the 11 essential building blocks for a healthier and happier life.
  • Prepare a new life: Bring more stability to your life and finally live the life you’ve always wanted.
  • A solid foundation: Build a newer and more solid foundation brick-by-brick, one step at a time!
  • Never look back: See your life from a new perspective and never have to dig another hold ever again.
  • Heartfelt guidance: Be guided every step of the way of your journey and know there’s nothing to be afraid of.

Facing your inner demons doesn’t have to be so scary. 

Scroll up, Click on “Buy Now”, and Get Your Copy Now!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I like how, despite the book being a short one, has delivered quite a lot of important pointers in laying out a solid foundation in reshaping the mindset. The two important ones for me are the facts that we need to set boundaries even with family and friends, and avoid listening to the feedback from people who are not looking at the best interest of our lives, and that can be our family members, which is hard to do at many instances.

Another aspect is the importance of councellor or therapists and how they are not similar with friends. I totally agree with this as friends are definitely not the ones to go to when we have issues as they lack the ability to offer us advices from a neutral point of view.

In a nutshell, the 11 bricks laid out here are definitely essential ones that help to reshape our mind.