Friday, August 18, 2017

Book Feature: My Brain is Out of Control by Dr. Patrick Mbaya







Publication Date: September 2016
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Formats: Ebook
Pages: 76
Genre: Biography/Autobiography
Tour Dates: August 14-August 25

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Although Dr. Patrick Mbaya’s illness caused a lot distress and nearly took his life, the emotional symptoms of the depression he developed helped him understand and empathize with patients and how they feel when they become ill. In My Brain is Out of Control, Mbaya, fifty-five and at the peak of his career, shares a personal story of how he suffered from a brain infection in 2010 that caused loss of speech, right-sided weakness, and subsequent depression. He tells how he also dealt with the antibiotics complications of low white cell count and hepatitis. He narrates his experiences as a patient, the neurological and psychiatric complications he encountered, how he coped, and his journey to recovery. Presenting a personal perspective of Mbaya’s illness from the other side of the bed, My Brain is Out of Control, offers profound insight into battling a serious illness.








Dr. Patrick Mbaya is a medical doctor specializing in psychiatry. He is a consultant psychiatrist and honorary clinical lecturer in psychiatry at the University of Manchester, United Kingdom. He has a special interest in mood and addiction disorders.

BOOK FEATURE: BITE THY NEIGHBOR BY ESMAE BROWDER




Title: BITE THY NEIGHBOR
Author: Esmae Browder
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Pages: 300
Genre: Erotic Paranormal Romance



Some neighbors suck...literally.

Quirky Maisy Harker spends her time daydreaming about her sexy husband, Jensen Helsing. Though their marriage is one of convenience, Maisy wishes the sparks of heat she feels around him were reciprocated. Sexually starved, she also lusts after her mysterious neighbor, Adam. True, his incisors do look a bit sharp, and he never seems to drink or eat anything—but hey, maybe that’s how he keeps that yummy, drool-worthy physique!

Yet Maisy knows something’s not quite right, and it isn’t long before she learns Adam is a centuries-old vampire embroiled in a gypsy curse placed on the women of her family. All her female ancestors have been drawn to the vampire and bound by his desires, experiencing a terrible side effect of the curse and resulting in death.

It's up to Maisy to find a way to break the curse once and for all before she, too, falls under his spell.

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You’re the one I’ve been waiting for,” Adam whispered. “And I’ve waited a long time.”
I was unable to fight being aroused by this sexy man with the fierce, dark eyes. His lips were a pale red, and as I looked at them, my mind instantly pictured us in a heated lip lock, our tongues ravishing each other. All my senses jumped to high alert.
“I don’t know what you mean,” I whispered back, unable to keep the shake out of my voice. “You don’t know me. And…and I’m a married woman.”
“Married?” he scoffed and grabbed my hand, kissing it lightly. “That doesn’t matter when it comes to destiny.”
Damn. His lips on my skin set my heart skipping. I started to feel a little tingle between my legs.
“Destiny?” I asked, shifting slightly.
“Don’t play dumb with me, my sweet Maisy.” Adam smiled and then stood in front of me so quickly I didn’t see the actual movement. “You can’t deny the passion you feel for me,” he said, going to his knees. “I’ve been in your dreams. I know your desires.”
He put a hand on my bare leg, sliding it up to my thigh as light as a feather.
“That’s not possible.” I shivered, wondering if he would slip that hand higher and discover how vulnerable I was without panties. “You’re teasing me.”
“Am I?”





Esmae Browder is an ex-catholic school girl who loves romance and vodka tonics. When not reading a spicy novel, she enjoys creating them by combining elements of well-known tales and updating them for our modern world. She is the author of the Naughty Shakespeare series, as well as, the paranormal romance Bite Thy Neighbor—a sexy Dracula meets Wisteria Lane style novel.

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Interview with Leslie Karst, Author of 'A Measure of Murder'

The daughter of a law professor and a potter, Leslie Karst learned at a young age, during family dinner conversations, the value of both careful analysis and the arts—ideal ingredients for a mystery story. Putting this early education to good use, she now now writes the Sally Solari Mysteries (Dying for a Taste, A Measure of Murder), a culinary series set in Santa Cruz, California.

Originally from Southern California, Leslie moved north to attend UC Santa Cruz (home of the Fighting Banana Slugs) and after graduation, parlayed her degree in English literature into employment waiting tables and singing in a new wave rock and roll band. Exciting though this life was, she eventually decided she was ready for a “real” job, and ended up at Stanford Law School.

For the next twenty years Leslie worked as the research and appellate attorney for Santa Cruz’s largest civil law firm. During this time, she rediscovered a passion for food and cooking, and so once more returned to school to earn a degree in culinary arts.

Now retired from the law, she spends her time cooking, gardening, cycling, singing alto in her local community chorus, reading, and of course writing. Leslie and her wife and their Jack Russell mix split their time between Santa Cruz and Hilo, Hawai‘i. 

Mayra Calvani: Please tell us about A MEASURE OF MURDER, and what compelled you to write it.
Leslie Karst: Although my Sally Solari mysteries focus on food, cooking, and restaurants, there’s a secondary theme to each of the books in the series: one of the human senses. Dying for a Taste concerns (obviously) the sense of taste, and A Measure of Murder delves into the sense of hearing—more specifically, music.

Music has long been one of my passions. I studied clarinet as a youngster, later fronted and wrote the songs for two different bands, and for the past seventeen years have sung alto in my local community chorus. So when it came time to plot the story about the sense of hearing, there was no question but that it should focus on music.

As with Sally, one of my favorite compositions is the sublime Mozart Requiem. But in addition, the piece is perfect for a mystery novel, as the Requiem itself is surrounded by secrets and mystery: who commissioned it, who completed it after Mozart died, which parts were composed by whom. So, truly, how could I resist? 

M.C.: What is your book about?
L.K.: In this second book, A Measure of Murder, Sally Solari is busy juggling work at her family’s Italian restaurant, Solari’s, and helping plan the autumn menu for the restaurant she’s just inherited, Gauguin. Complicating this already hectic schedule, she joins her ex-boyfriend Eric’s chorus, which is performing a newly discovered version of her favorite composition: the Mozart Requiem. But then, at the first rehearsal, a tenor falls to his death on the church courtyard—and his soprano girlfriend is sure it wasn’t an accident.
Now Sally’s back on another murder case seasoned with a dash of revenge, a pinch of peril, and a suspicious stack of sheet music. And while tensions in the chorus heat up, so does the kitchen at Gauguin—set aflame right as Sally starts getting too close to the truth. 

M.C.:  What themes do you explore in A MEASURE OF MURDER?
L.K.: As noted above, the sense of hearing plays an important part in the story, with Sally not only joining the chorus to sing the Mozart Requiem, but also along the way learning the importance of truly listening in general—listening to your inner feelings, and paying attention to what’s going on around you.

The book also explores the themes of family and the food movement, and how the two create a conflict between Sally and her father. The Solaris are descended from one of the original Italian fishermen who arrived in Santa Cruz in the late 1800s, and Sally’s dad is fiercely proud of the family’s traditional, old-school Italian seafood restaurant out on the Santa Cruz Wharf. But Sally is also very much aligned with the food-conscious folks who have arrived in town over the past two decades—even more so now, after inheriting her aunt’s trendy restaurant, Gauguin.

The dynamic between Sally and her father—who is hurt that his daughter no longer wants to work at Solari’s, and who thinks she now looks down on her family heritage—is very much at the forefront of the story in A Measure of Murder.


M.C.:  Why do you write? 
L.K.: I’ve been fascinated with language and grammar from a young age. Being the daughter of an academic who took sabbatical leave every few years, I was fortunate to live in a variety of different cultures as a youngster, and I think spending time in non-English speaking countries triggered my life-long passion for language. There are few activities I enjoy more than playing around with sentences, getting the words and syntax just right. And when you get down to it at a nuts and bolts level, this is pretty much what writing is all about. 

M.C.:  When do you feel the most creative?
L.K.: In the middle of the night I sometimes get what, at the time, seem like the most fabulous ideas. I’m always sure I’ll remember them, and then wake the next morning with only the vaguest recollection of what had struck me as so brilliant at two a.m. But when I do remember, I usually realize the idea is in fact completely ridiculous or inane. 

M.C.:  How picky are you with language?
L.K.: I try to keep the language in my books fun and accessible, but I’m a stickler for grammar—except in dialogue. Because people don’t really say “It is I.” (Okay, I actually do sometimes say that, but it tends to elicit strange looks.) For me, writing dialogue is where I truly get to be creative, crafting language that most colorfully brings my cast of varied characters to life. 

M.C.:  When you write, do you sometimes feel as though you were being manipulated from afar?
L.K.: When I’m plotting and outlining I do sometimes get flashes of ideas that seem to emanate from the ether (though I wish that happened more often than it does). And when I’m writing the story, the characters sometimes seem to shove me aside and say, “No! I would never do that. I need to do this, instead!” Which is kind of freaky, actually, but I’ve learned it’s generally best to let them have their say. 

M.C.:  What is your worst time as a writer?
L.K.: If I have wine with lunch, it’s useless to try to write in the afternoon. I’m way too sleepy, and what I think is brilliant at the time usually turns out to be far less interesting once the wine has worn off. 

M.C.:  Your best?
L.K.: I generally get the most writing done in the first part of the day, after I’ve checked my email and social media pages, read the newspaper, and finally sit down at my desk with a strong cup of Joe. 

M.C.:  Is there anything that would stop you from writing?
L.K: Probably not, short of being run over by a Mack truck and rendered permanently unconscious. 

M.C.: What’s the happiest moment you’ve lived as an author?
L.K.: That’s a hard question, because there have been many wonderful moments. But the one that immediately springs to mind is the book release event I recently had for A Measure of Murder at my local bookstore, Bookshop Santa Cruz. Because the story concerns the Mozart Requiem, I asked a few members of the Cabrillo Chorus, with whom I sometimes sing, if they’d be willing to perform one of the movements from the piece at the event. I figured I’d be lucky if nine or ten singers showed up.
That night, after giving a short talk and then reading a passage from the book, I invited the chorus members to come forward to sing the “Lacrymosa.” The shock that swept over me when some thirty people stood up from their seats was profound. And as I listened to them sing their hearts out while I conducted the piece, I was moved to tears.

M.C.:  Is writing an obsession to you?
L.K.: Well, I have felt a compulsion to write from a young age, when I penned a story about some dogs and cats making a cross-country trip to return to their home (a blatant rehash of The Incredible Journey, which Disney movie I’d recently seen). Then in college, I started writing poetry, later moving on to to rock ’n roll songs. And I did have a career as a research attorney. drafting memos, legal briefs, and appeals. So I guess writing might just be an obsession for me. 

M.C.:  Are the stories you create connected with you in some way?
L.K.: Very much so. Like my sleuth, I am an ex-lawyer who is obsessed with food, loves dogs, bourbon, and cycling, and lives in the beautiful beach town of Santa Cruz, California. However, unlike Sally, I am not, alas, tall and thin, or Italian, nor do I drive a ’57 T-Bird. And I would be absolutely terrified if I ever came across a dead body. 

M.C.:  Ray Bradbury once said, “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” Do you agree?
L.K.: No. My novels incorporate a blend of fiction and reality, and it’s the reality aspect that gives them relevance to our time. For instance, one of the themes running through the Sally Solari mysteries concerns the modern food movement, and its juxtaposition with the old-fashioned Italian culture in which Sally was raised. I believe that even the most exotic, other-worldly fantasy stories appeal to us largely because of how they reflect on the reality in which we live.

M.C.:  Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about you and your work?



Book Feature: An Unconventional Lifetime Journey by Bill Faulhaber







Publication Date: August 2016
Publisher: iUniverse
Formats: Ebook
Pages: 724
Genre: Biography/Autobiography
Tour Dates: August 14-25

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An Unconventional Lifetime Journey: My 269 Daily E-mail Stories collates and presents hundreds of short stories that provide humorous, touching, memorable, and insightful glimpses into the life of William Faulhaber. Retired after a long career in the sporting goods business, he began to e-mail reminiscences to a list of his friends. Hearing encouragement to keep writing, he wrote about a surprisingly wide array of topics: America’s bicentennial, golf-club shafts, plow horses, vacuum cleaner sales, pontoon boats, bingo, and miracles. To truly appreciate the reach of these stories, one must dive into the collection and explore its vast wealth. Many histories take as their topics the great and cataclysmic events: wars, the rise and fall of nations, discoveries that change the direction of human evolution. If you enjoy history, you may find room on your shelf for a book that takes the time to look at the little comings and goings that make up the life of one person among many who live in the world shaped by those big events. If that is the case, then An Unconventional Lifetime Journey: My 269 Daily E-mail Stories promises to give you that fine-grain detail that brings one man’s story to life.

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William Faulhaber had a long successful career in sales and management of sporting goods, focusing mostly on the golf market. Now retired from Spalding Equipment, he and his wife, Delores, are enjoying their seventh decade of marriage and are in the midst of their fifth decade living in North Palm Beach, Florida.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Book Feature: Evolution Now by David Penny







Publication Date: March 27, 2017
Publisher: XLibrisNZ
Formats: Ebook
Pages: 229
Genre: Science
Tour Dates: August 14-25

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This is a very Popperian approach to evolutionary study. Karl Popper was a philosopher of science, who took science very seriously, and had a profound influence on the chemists and zoologists where I did my undergraduate degree. The book starts from about 1600, when people accepted that life continued to arise “naturally,” and then moves to the pre-evolutionary concept of the fixity of species. Darwin started as a geologist in the Hutton-Lyell tradition and quickly became convinced that current causes were sufficient to explain geology, and he then moved to biology. I gave an account of his theory in some detail. However, there is also an update on what we have learned since Darwin. This is followed by a chapter on human evolution, especially human speech and the Out of Africa theory. This is followed by two chapters on beliefs that maybe incorrect (one of which is the extinction of dinosaurs from the extraterrestrial impact at the K-Pg boundary—maybe incorrect). The other is the direction of change between eukaryotes (which have a true nucleus) and akaryotes (without a true nucleus). The book finishes with a section on what is left for the future. In good Popperian style, there is a lot left for us to discover!






David Penny is a 'Distinguished Professor' at a New Zealand University, and has a PhD from Yale University. He is a New Zealander by birth.



Meet John Herrick, Author of 'Beautiful Mess'

A self-described “broken Christian,” John Herrick battled depression since childhood. In that context, however, he developed intuition for themes of spiritual journey and the human heart.

Herrick graduated from the University of Missouri—Columbia. Rejected for every writing position he sought, he turned to information technology and fund development, where he cultivated analytical and project management skills that helped shape his writing process. He seized unpaid opportunities writing radio commercial copy and ghostwriting for two nationally syndicated radio preachers.

The Akron Beacon Journal hailed Herrick's From the Dead as “a solid debut novel.” Published in 2010, it became an Amazon bestseller. The Landing, a semifinalist in the inaugural Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, followed. Publishers Weekly predicted “Herrick will make waves” with his next novel, Between These Walls.

Herrick's nonfiction book 8 Reasons Your Life Matters introduced him to new readers worldwide. The free e-book surpassed 150,000 downloads and hit #1 on Amazon's Motivational Self-Help and Christian Inspiration bestseller lists. Reader response prompted a trade paperback.
His latest novel, Beautiful Mess, folds the legend of Marilyn Monroe into an ensemble romantic-comedy.

Herrick admits his journey felt disconnected. “It was a challenge but also a growth process,” he acknowledges. “But in retrospect, I can see God's fingerprints all over it.”

Find out more about Beautiful Mess on Amazon

INTERVIEW:
Mayra Calvani: Please tell us about Beautiful Mess, and what compelled you to write it.
Author: I love ensemble casts and wanted to write a fun ensemble romantic-comedy. The original inspiration for the Marilyn Monroe angle hit me after reading J. Randy Taraborrelli’s biography of the actress. I learned she spent time—against her will—in a mental institution. I couldn’t shake that fact. I wondered how the experience might have affected her. Did it leave scars? Did it make her paranoid? Did it break her heart?
I also noticed how many people have received Academy Award nominations, or perhaps won them, then seem to disappear into obscurity. I wonder if some of them envisioned their careers soaring in the spotlight, only to watch their opportunities fade. Del Corwyn, my protagonist, is one of those actors.
Somehow, the Marilyn Monroe and fading-spotlight ideas crossed paths.
M.C.: What is your book about?
Author: Del Corwyn is desperate to return to the spotlight. He hasn’t had a hit film since his Academy Award nomination 40 years ago and now teeters on bankruptcy. He’s a forgotten legend. One day, while going through personal memorabilia, he discovers an original screenplay written by his close friend, Marilyn Monroe, who named Del as its legal guardian. News of its discovery goes viral. Suddenly, Del skyrockets to the A-list and has a chance to revive his career—if he’s willing to sacrifice his friend’s memory and reputation along the way.
Beautiful Mess is a humorous coming-of-age story about a 78-year-old man who lives in his own fictional world. The novel incorporates lesser-known facts about Marilyn Monroe and imagines the further impact she might have made on pop culture if her life hadn’t reached an abrupt end.
M.C.:  What themes do you explore in Beautiful Mess?
Author: As you might expect, I explore some Marilyn Monroe history, including some lesser-known facts. But Beautiful Mess is Del’s story, how he views himself and interacts with those around him. The novel delves into the vulnerable, human side of those we laud as celebrities. It touches on the fears and regrets that come with aging, examines how people find creative ways to adapt to their “misfit” environments, and brings together characters across multiple generations. I loved having the opportunity to feature a protagonist who is 78 years old but considers himself a perpetual 29. What a fun character to develop!
M.C.:  Why do you write?
Author: Honestly, I feel like I’m dying a slow death inside if I don’t! Maybe it’s a coping mechanism. But from the creative side, I enjoy developing characters, sketching their life stories, and figuring out why they are who they are, then placing them in situations and seeing how they react. I love giving them the freedom to act in accordance with their unique personalities. I watch how they respond to challenges and how they interact with other characters, and I write down what I see.
M.C.:  When do you feel the most creative?
Author: In the past, I would’ve told you it was late at night. But I’ve discovered advantages that come with getting up early and tackling everything fresh (despite the yawing!). So I’ve learned that creative work is less about feeling creative, and more about simply showing up and letting the creativity follow suit. You can buy little trinkets, decorate your surroundings, and do other things to ignite your creative juices, but ultimately, creativity is a part of who you are. You carry it inside you whether the feelings are there or not. The idea that “Creative people need this or that” seems ridiculous. If you’re an artist, all you need is a desk and a keyboard (or the equivalent for your art form). For me, the key is to show up and trust God that something will happen.
M.C.:  How picky are you with language?
Author: Very picky, especially with dialogue. And since contemporary fiction incorporates an implied POV even when you write in third-person, that means your narrative is a reflection of a character’s inner dialogue. So the words I use as a writer need to fit whatever goes through that character’s brain and heart. Beyond that, as far as synonyms or the perfect word goes, I do my best to represent what I want to get across. I’m a big believer in excellence. But I’ve also learned readers are savvy enough to read between the lines. I’ve purposely hid nuggets in my stories, such as character motivations, and I’ve seen readers find the evidence, draw the intended conclusion, and post it on their blog or in their book review! So I trust the intelligence of my readers to fill in the gaps where I fall short. That sets me free to worry less about perfection and concentrate more on giving my readers a rewarding, character-driven experience.
M.C.:  When you write, do you sometimes feel as though you were being manipulated from afar?
Author: It might not be manipulation, but I do get caught up in my characters’ lives, especially when they’re in the midst of a gut-wrenching struggle. I feel their pain because I know them better than anyone else. I know the psychological torments they endure and why they struggle the way they do, and I walk through it with them daily. Bear in mind, writing occurs on a slower timeframe, so what takes a reader five minutes to read might have taken me five hours to write. So by the time you factor in the planning, first draft, and revisions, I’ve often spent a year or two in that character’s dark place. So if I’m not careful, their emotional torment can become a source of emotional torment for me.
M.C.:  What is your worst time as a writer?
Author: Standing still! After working several years in the IT field, I developed a weird need to move forward and just get it done. But there’s a time for everything, and that means ideas need a chance to ripen before you can carry them through to the end. Waiting is a discipline, an appropriate one, but it still makes me nervous.
M.C.:  Your best?
Author: Hearing from a reader that a book impacted their life. I love the rush of exploring characters and completing the novel, but when I die and get to heaven, the books I’ve written won’t exist there. The readers will.
M.C.:  Is there anything that would stop you from writing?
Author: To tell you the truth, I depend a lot on God to give me what I need—the ideas, the words, the heart, the stamina. So if He ever removed those from me, either I’d be unable to write or the quality would be contrived and awful.
M.C.: What’s the happiest moment you’ve lived as an author?
Author: Taking something I’ve learned along the way and sharing it with another writer to help them grow. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a teacher and used to play school with my dad. (He fell asleep in class each night!) When someone doesn’t understand a concept, I seem to be able to explain it in a way they understand. I never lost that desire to teach and help other people grow. Granted, I have a ton of progress to make and will never stop learning, but I have more to offer other writers today than I did ten years ago—including what I’ve learned from mistakes!
M.C.:  Is writing an obsession to you?
Author: Maybe it’s more accurate to say I’m obsessed with the need to make constant progress, and writing is the creative channel where that happens. If you’re doing your job as a writer well, you only spend a portion of your time telling the story. You also spend a lot of time revising, which is your chance to sharpen your skills; researching, which expands your knowledge base and enhances the quality and credibility of what you write; and planning, which is where you develop your characters, construct your plot and subplot arcs, and identify any holes in your logic. I consider all of those factors writing, even when I’m not telling a story.
M.C.:  Are the stories you create connected with you in some way?
Author: While my stories aren’t autobiographical, I do believe a piece of the writer finds its way into every story that writer tells. So you can find nuggets of my personality and background in there. Sometimes they show up in significant ways, sometimes in minor ways. And some characters have symbolized my personal emotional conflicts, so I’ve undergone therapy through them.
M.C.:  Ray Bradbury once said, “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” Thoughts?
Author: The creative flow is therapeutic for me and helps me fight depression. In that way, it has kept destruction at bay! I don’t live in a fictional world; writing isn’t a form of escapism or denial for me, but it does help me stay balanced.
M.C.:  Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about you and your work?
Author: Yes! I’m at www.johnherrick.net. I LOVE hearing from people! (Except those peddling Viagra.) I read all the messages that come my way (again, except those peddling Viagra). You’ll also find my Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads links there.