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Sunday, 22 June 2008
Getting to Know Linda Ballou
Topic: Author Interview
Linda Ballou the person:

1.  What three words do you think describe you as a human being?

I am an Earthiest. (One who seeks balance and harmony in nature.)

2.   How do you think others would describe you?

People see me as a wildly adventurous and independent woman. Some even view me as inspirational because I embrace life with such intensity. Others just think I'm crazy.

3   Please tell us what you are most passionate about outside of writing.

I love to be outdoors.  I love, gardening, hiking, horseback riding, kayaking -just about any excuse to get out in it.

4.  Do you have any pets?  If so, introduce us to them.

The big animal love of my life was my mare Ginger. She was short on legs and long on heart. We did cross-country jumping courses, dressage and explored every trail in the Agoura Hills of Southern California together. She was my best girl friend and I will always love her.

5.  What is your most precious memory?

That's a hard question because it precludes others of equal intensity.  Perhaps, those days with Ginger when I was living out my favorite childhood  fantasies  are the most precious in the "beloved dear" sense of the word.

6.  What is your most embarrassing memory?

I actually went to a Halloween party wearing egg on my face. I used to give myself a skin-tightening facial using egg whites. I always found the way it distorted my face in the privacy of my own bathroom amusing. I thought it would have the same affect on others if I went to the party as a burn victim. It did not. The people on the crowded dance floor were repelled by my appearance and moved away from me in waves. I learned a lesson that night about how people's perceptions of you can be stronger than the reality of who you are. I washed the egg off my face and returned to the room feeling quite sad.


7.   If you weren't a writer, what would you be doing with your life?

Selling Real Estate to support my eating habit and traveling to as many beautiful places as I can before they are no more. In short, the same thing I have been doing, I just wouldn't be taking notes of my stay. This would leave room in my life for home and backyard makeovers as a fun, creative outlet.

 8.   In two paragraphs or less write your obituary.

Gallivanting travel writer and photographer, Linda Ballou, died in her sleep at the age of 103. A self-proclaimed gusto grabber, it was expected she would do a header off of a horse, or get caught in a keeper in a fury of white-water. But, no!

She lived a long and glorious life. She got to most of the places she wanted to experience and finished most of the writing she started before she went to the other side.

 Her legacy includes Wai-nani, High Chiefess of Hawaii, the culmination of a long-standing love affair with the Islands; Lost Angel Walkabout, a spirited collection of one traveler's tales and The Cowgirl Jumped Over the Moon, a young adult story that let her be the grand prix jumper she could only be in her dreams. Her ashes are to be scattered in the Queen's Bath, a lava rock pool, on the edge of Secret Beach on the north shore of Kauai, her spiritual home.

Linda Ballou the writer:

9.  Can you describe the time you realized you were indeed a "real" writer?

I took a sabbatical after I graduated from Northridge University in California with a B. A. in English Literature. I moved to Kauai and lived on the north shore for one year to answer this question. I needed to know in my own mind if my work warranted the discipline, dedication and "setting apart from the rest of world" that writing requires. While there, I wrote what is arguably the worst screenplay in the history of God, but I enjoyed the process and decided that indeed I am a writer. I made a pact with myself to work hard to perfect the craft and made the inner commitment to the sacrifices required to become a good writer.


10.  What is going on with your writing these days?

The thrill of getting Wai-nani out my drawer and into the streets for starters! This frees me up to get back to Lost Angel Walkabout, my travel collection that is more than half way home.

11.  What are your future goals for your writing?

Finishing my travel collection is on the top of the list. But, I have also been working on a series of Great Outdoor Days in L.A. for about the last decade. I hike in the Santa Monica's regularly. The lovely trails I wander provide me with sustenance and time to digest input and prioritize actions. I have hundreds of wonderful photos of the flora and distinctive landscape. One fine day that book will be done. Plus, the rewrite of Cowgirl is moving up to the top of my ever growing list. In between larger projects I do soft-adventure travel articles.

12.  Can you describe a typical writing day for you?

I read something at night that will enlist my subconscious to provide me answers in the morning for a given project. I review notes in the morning over my coffee. Then I go to the computer immediately, avoiding opening distracting emails, and write. I work for a couple of hours undisturbed by calls or business matters. This way I am not frustrated about not getting my work done and my mind is freed up for the material world by noon. After lunch, I go outdoors to do either a domestic walk in various neighborhoods enjoying the lovely gardens in California, or I hike in the mountains. In the evening when I return, I research topics on the net and attend to marketing jobs.

13.  Why do you write?

It gives purpose and continuity to my life.  It has also been a way of coping with emotional challenges. At one point I was crawling around on my hands and knees in mind-bending pain from a back injury. That was the beginning of Cowgirl. Writing that story distracted me from the nagging, chronic pain I was experiencing. I think one of the best books on writing was written by Steven King while he was coping with injuries incurred when he was run over by a van. It also gives me a great deal of joy to share my work with others and allows me to raise my voice in the chorus of twittering artists.


14.  What writer most inspires you?  Why?

Jack London, not just because he was America's greatest adventure writer, but because he lived life with such fervor. He was true to himself. He gave of himself to budding writers and cared about his fellow man. He said story is desire, struggle, and realization which equals character arc. This is the essence of all great stories.

15.  How do you define your writing?

It is the best of me.

16.  In one sentence-what do you want people to say about your writing in fifty years?

Timeless, evocative, informative,  sensual, caring, insightful, fun to read are all adjectives I would like used when describing my work.

Linda Ballou the details:

17.  Can you tell us where to find more information on you? Website?  Blog?

At http://www.lindaballouauthor.com/ you may click on numerous travel articles, I have a photo gallery on my site that people enjoy. If you purchase Wai-nani from my site you receive free shipping. If you go to the About Linda page your reward will be to discover the "Secret of Youth".

18.  Is there a place where readers can reach you?

Lballou6@sbcglobal.net

19.  Can you list all your book titles so people can look for them?

Wai-nani, High Chiefess of Hawaii-Her Epic Journey is my debut novel.

20.  For new readers-what can they expect when they read Wai-nani?

Bare minimum they will come away with a better understanding of the Hawaiian point of view and a greater sensitivity to the nuances of their culture. They will be able to decide whether my heroine should be revered s the Mother of the People, or whether she should be remembered as the "flaw that brought down the chiefdom." I have tried to capture the poetry and sensual beauty of the Islands as well as the deeply spiritual aspects of the Hawaiian people. Hopefully, the reader will feel that Wai-nani has taken them to a place that they can't get to any other way.

They should come away with a greater empathy for the Hawaiian people and their sorrow in the loss of their gods, land, and laws to outsiders. Their culture has been enriched in some ways and diluted in others from the influx of people to what Mark Twain dubbed "the prettiest fleet of islands ever to anchor in the Pacific." Even though their numbers have been decimated by intermarriage, disease and wars and there are only a few full-blood Hawaiians alive today, the mystique and romance of their heritage lives on.

In conclusion:

21.  Take as much space as necessary to speak to our readers-what would you like them to know about you and your writing?

Emerging as a writer is a bit like a butterfly scratching out of its homely chrysalis. The earth laughs in flowers, but the butterflies spread her joy.  I hope to be a butterfly that brings enlightenment and appreciation for nature's jewel box in a creative non-preachy way.  All of my travel stories, books and essays bring the reader closer to nature's rhythms, balance and beauty.  An earthiest is one who strives to achieve balance and harmony in self, and therefore family and society, through a close and personal relationship with nature. The Navajo's call this condition Hozho, the Hawaiian word for the state of perfect harmony is Pono.  I say many roads lead to the same truth. The fun is finding your own way.


Posted by joyceanthony at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 22 June 2008 3:53 AM EDT
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Saturday, 21 June 2008
A Visit With Linda Ballou
Topic: Blog Tours

The best way to introduce you to author, Linda Ballou is in her own words, which are too beautiful to change :-)

 

The secret to youth is to fill your mind with beauty.       
  

There you have it. The answer to the question that sent Ponce de Leon through treacherous mosquito infested jungles on a futile journey to the New World. The quest that prompts millions to spend billions on potions in a jar, or on surgical nips and tucks, ends with this truth. It is the absorption of the beauty, found free of charge in nature, that will keep your heart clear and your mind cleansed.

Thoreau, our nations’ first self-proclaimed nature nut, walked four hours each day. He sauntered through the woods and over the hills and fields of New England so that his thoughts were “absolutely free from all worldly engagements.”  I have sold Real Estate in the city of Los Angeles for thirty years. Without my daily sojourns into the Santa Monica Mountains, I would not be able to divest myself of the inherent stress generated in this most worldly of professions. My walks allow me time to digest the constant stimulation of urban life and the opportunity to reflect and recycle thoughts in the format that is, hopefully, satisfying to readers.

My connection with Mother Earth began in my teenage years in Southeastern Alaska.  Lonely walks along misty shores allowed tumultuous adolescent thoughts to settle. According to an anonymous source who etched the following into a cliff wall at Anza Borrego Desert, “Solitude is not something you hope for in the future. It allows a deepening of the present and without it you will never find it.”  The desert landscape supports this theory. From a distance it looks barren, but as you come closer and examine it in silence, you see creatures scurry at your footfall and plants spring to life from parched soil.

The quest for genuine solitude has taken me to far flung places. As a lone hiker on the Seduction Trail in Haines, Alaska, while keeping a constant vigil for bears, I stumbled into the pond of a bull moose; in Bartlett Cove in Glacier Bay, I nearly got “caught out” for the night by a fast rising high tide. I made the hand over hand climb to the top of Mt. Manaia, the Protector on the North Island of New Zealand, a sacred place to the Maori people, to view the world unfettered by the flotsam of mankind.

Fired by the vivid, loving descriptions of John Muir for his Range of Light, I followed in the wiry, little Scotsman’s footsteps to the Sierra Nevada. An unfortunate misstep brought about the story Falling in the Footsteps of John Muir, written after I was airlifted out of the Sierras with two broken ribs. The pain of my injury has passed, but the magical beauty of the alpine meadows veined with luminous, tinkling rills is with me still.

My appreciation for nature’s jewel box took me to Kauai, the most luxuriant of all the Hawaiian Islands with velvet, pleated cliffs and treacherous seas fending off newcomers. Here on this sacred isle where the mantle of mana (spiritual power) is so great that Kauai evolved in unmolested solitude, I plugged into the cosmic mainline. This was the beginning of a thirty year love affair with the Islands and the People of Old that culminated in my historical fiction/fantasy novel, Wai-nani, High Chiefess of Hawai`i : Her Epic Journey.  For Hawaiians, all life on the land comes from the sea. My protagonist, Wai-nani, or Beautiful Waters, is half-human, half fish without the benefit of a mermaid’s tail.

Today, my mission is to get to as many naturally beautiful places as I can before they are no more! I have hiked, biked, kayaked, and ridden on horseback through some our most precious wilderness areas. My soon-to-be published collection of travels essays, Lost Angel Walkabout speaks of the healing power of the wild. Gretel Ehrlich, of “The Solace of Open Spaces” fame, reminds us that “we humans do not save beauty; rather, beauty saves us.”
*****
Through the eyes of high chiefess, Wai-nani, experience the Hawaiian society as it existed when Captain Cook arrived at Kealakekua Bay in 1779; ride the billowing seas with Eku, the wild dolphin she befriends; learn why she loved the savage, conflicted ruler, Makaha; walk with her as she defies ancient laws and harsh taboos of the Island people; share the love she received from all who knew her and learn how she rose to become the most powerful woman in old Hawai’i.
More information on Linda and her writing can be found at
http://www.lindaballouauthor.com/

Posted by joyceanthony at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 21 June 2008 12:07 AM EDT
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Friday, 20 June 2008
Life is a Game by Jim Copeland--A Review
Topic: Book Review

Every so often, a book will come along that has the potential to literally change your life--this is the case with Life is a Game, written by new author James Copeland.  Don't let the small size of this book fool you,  it packs a mighty punch.

One line jumped out at me and it seems to me to be the essence of this book.  In Mr. Copeland's words: You prepare, you declare, you decide, and then you strive, because it all starts inside.  Read that statement again, there is a lot of meaning in it.

Jim Copeland goes step by step through the process that will enable anyone to be a success.  He breaks the steps down to the bare basics and uses examples from his own life to illustrate.  This book doesn't just tell you to think positive; Mr. Copeland shows how intention needs to be paired with action--and self-understanding--in order to work. 

By the time you have finished Life is a Game, you will be inspired to set about becoming successful--and if you follow the steps in this book, you WILL see results.  I hope Mr. Copeland has plans for further works.


Posted by joyceanthony at 2:54 AM EDT
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Thursday, 19 June 2008
Getting to Know Jimmy Copeland
Topic: Author Interview
Jimmy Copeland the person:

1.   What three words do you think describe you as a human being? 

I believe three words that describe me as a human being are integrity, character, and compassionate.  I believe every person has certain qualities that make them who they are.  I believe these 3 words should be lived, and not just spoken of.  I believe that these things are rooted within me, thus exhibitive from me. 

2.  How do you think others would describe you? 

I believe others would describe me as outgoing, positive, and diligent.  I am a communicator; I received my Bachelor's Degree in Speech Communications.  I have been told I talk too much.  So I have learned how to curve this strength, hone it, and use it to my benefit.  The greatest skill I have learned as a communicator is to listen.  This is a bit of advice that I have picked up.  If you listen enough to people in a variety of situations, most people will end up telling you their life, without you even saying a word.  Most people just want someone to listen to them, and encourage them.  The sad thing is that a lot of people in society are always talking and they end up talking louder and louder just so that someone will listen to them.  Another thing, I have learned is that when you speak, make your words count.  Its not the quantity of words spoken, but the quality.

3.  Please tell us what you are most passionate about outside of writing. 

 My family.   I am a firm believer that life is full of regrets.  Most people on their death bed don't wish they had more money, more business, and were more popular.  Most people wish they would have spent more time with their loved ones.  I try to maximize this I am also passionate about encouraging others to be the best they can be.  I am passionate about speaking positivity into people's life and planting a seed.  Every great man or women, has root in their life where can kind word was spoken or they were encouraged by an action.  Someone planted a seed in their life.  The greatest seed one can plant in someone's life is time.  I believe if I can encourage others and plant this seed, than I won't affect just one person, but I can affect multitudes.  Everyone needs a kind word or a helping hand.

4.   Do you have any pets?  If so, introduce us to them.

I have two cats.  Cake and Cookie, they are kittens are new presents for my daughters.

5.   What is your most precious memory?

My most precious memory was when I said I do when I married my wife, Tiffany.  At that moment I felt  and also knew that I was truly becoming a part of something greater than myself.  My second most precious memory is when my girls, Essence and Trinity were born.  It was a miraculous day knowing that I had the responsibility of a Life.  Everyday I live, I cherish, because each day I pray that God inputs on my heart as a memory.  Children grow up fast, and we have to take the time out of our busy lives to cherish each moment.  One day they'll be independent, gone and pursuing their passions in life.

6.   What is your most embarrassing memory? 

My most embarrassing memory was when I was playing college football for Texas A&M University-Commerce.  I was on defense playing free safety.  The game was almost over.  We were winning 28-0.  The opposing team was desperate to score.  So the quarterback called a play and threw the ball at his wide receiver.  I was playing defense so I jumped as high as I could to intercept the football.  The football went through my hands, (it actually touched my hands), and the opposing team's wide receiver caught the football.  He ran it in for the score.  The stopped are chance for a shut out.  I felt really bad after that.  My coach looked at me, shook his head, and sent me to the bench.  This game was a home game, so all the University Fans saw my blooper.

7.   If you weren't a writer, what would you be doing with your life? 

I am a Special Education Teacher by trade.  I love teaching.  I am certified through the state of Texas Early Childhood through 12th grade.  I also love Education as well.  It gives me joy to help people discover things about themselves or things that they can accomplish.  It is like a parent who teaches their child how to ride a bike.  The look on their child's eyes when they are riding by themselves for the first 30 feet is life changing, the look of fear, excitement, and expectation all rolled into one.  They have the security knowing that the parent is their to help, but the excitement knowing that they are doing things by themselves.  Teaching to me is about encouraging people to be successful through academics.  Once they learn something new, it changes their mindset and opens the heart to the new adventures in learning.

 8.   In two paragraphs or less write your obituary.

Here lies Jimmy Henry Copeland III.  Jimmy was a 3rd Generation Copeland, named after his grandfather Jim Copeland Sr. Jim made it a goal to encourage others to look within themselves and bring out their best.  He loved people and loved it when people realized how great they are and walked in it.  Copeland loved his family and cherished every moment he had with them.  Copeland realized that he is here for a purpose, and believed that everyday spent breathing was in effort to accomplish the task of fulfilling that purpose.  Copeland is survived by his wife, Tiffany, and his daughters, Essence and Trinity. 

Jimmy Copeland the writer:

9.  Can you describe the time you realized you were indeed a "real" writer?

I realized I was a real writer when I woke up writing and went to sleep writing.  All I could think about was conveying my message, and when I was done, I was at peace and felt complete. 

10.  What is going on with your writing these days?

I am currently working on a writing piece, which discusses the battles we face in life.  Are we prepared for these battles?  Will we win the war of Life?  This piece will explore different adversities people face, how we need to gear up for them, why we are defeated, and how we need to prepare.  The goal of this piece is to encourage others to live victoriously in every aspect of their life.  At this time, however, it is in its infancy.

11.   What are your future goals for your writing?  

My goal is to change the world through a word.  In other words a Word decides whether we live or die, marry a person, or feel love for the first time.  I believe through my writing, my goal is to inspire others to be positive and push toward their goals.  Never giving up is a pathway to success, but we must make sure that we are not running blindly.  My goal is to inspire others to run, but to run with their eyes open wide and a smile on their face because they are having fun doing what they love to do.  When you are doing what you love, you run hard and long.  You don't pace yourself because your passionate about what you are doing.

12.   Can you describe a typical writing day for you? 

A typical writing day is a day is full of jumbled up thoughts and sayings.  I try to write them down as fast as I can.  They are not in sequence, nor in order, but are springboards for the future.  Sometimes I might hear something notable so I write it down.  The world is full of books and stories.  The sad thing is that so many people die with theirs.  I am a firm believer that there is someone in this world that can benefit from your story.  The sad thing is that there is a good chance they will never hear it.  That story could inspire them and change their life forever.  When you walk around and listen, you can pick up wisdom and understanding from a variety of different sources and people.  You learn about consequences, good, and bad.  You learn also about mistakes people make in life, of course it is up to you whether or not you to choose to learn from it.  As I said before a lot of people are talking and few are listening.  If we listen, we can learn about different paths to take and risks to make.  We can also learn how to live victoriously.  Most writers are not made because of all the knowledge they have, but they are made because of all the applied understanding they have gained from others.  We are a product of others, from the books we read, household we are raised in, and demographics we are born into. A typical writing day contains a little bit from everyone.

13.  Why do you write?

I write to inspire and encourage others to find peace within themselves, and that their skills, passions, and giftings lie within themselves.  All they must do is expound on their skills and maximize their potential.  It is an honor to speak positivity and encouragement into others lives, especially using my life as an example.  If you notice in our society today our children have low self esteems, more adults are suffering from depression, and even obesity.  People just don't feel good about who they are.  People need to be inspired and encouraged, and this is not by me, but by who they are and what they can be.  If people could truly look in the mirror and evaluate themselves they would see that they are an over comer and are somebody who can make a difference.  It is OK to be different.  Every great man in our lifetime, had to take a risk and be different.  They are known as trendsetters or the elite. 

14.  What writer most inspires you? 

Martin Luther King Jr., and Edwin Louis Cole Sr.

Why?

Martin Luther King Jr. was an educated man of integrity and character. He was bold in expressing his views on equality and faith. This one man changed the world with an open heart, spirit-filled life, communication, and a passion for people.

Edwin Louis Cole also was an educated man filled with wisdom, which has encouraged me to be the best man I can be for God, country, and family. He encouraged and demanded that men live and walk with character and integrity and only settled for God's best in their lives. His wisdom and words have touched millions and his books have transformed my life.

15.  How do you define your writing? 

Positive, Inspiring, and Passionate

16.  In one sentence-what do you want people to say about your writing in fifty years? 

His writing encouraged, uplifted, and exhorted people in being all they could be. 

Jimmy Copeland the details:

17.  Can you tell us where to find more information on you? Website?  Blog?

Here recently in April an Article was written in the Beaumont Enterprise about me. my family, and the release of my book.  The title of the article is called Unlocking Life's Secrets.  If they were to put this title in their search engine or look up Beaumont Enterprise, than click on features and scroll down, they can find the article.  They can also see find more information about me at http://gettingpublished.ning.com/profile/JimCopeland5


18.  Is there a place where readers can reach you?

They can reach me on my blog site at http://jimcopeland.weebly.com/index.html

or

http://gettingpublished.ning.com/profile/JimCopeland5

or

They can also reach me through Living Waters Publishing Company. 

 

19.  Can you list all your book titles so people can look for them?

Life is a Game

20.  For new readers-what can they expect when they read your book(s)?

I expect readers to be encouraged, and uplifted.  I expect readers to read the novel and be exhorted to get up and do what they are passionate about doing.  For those who are working within their gifts and passions, I hope they will find that need in society in which there is a demand for their skills and fill that need. 

In conclusion:

21.  Take as much space as necessary to speak to our readers-what would you like them to know about you and your writing?

Dear Readers,

I appreciate your support and investment.  My goal is to inspire you to be successful in all your endeavors.

This book is for everyone, however, I have a special message for young people, Teenagers and Pre-teens, alike I do understand how hard it is to find yourself.  I have moved 27 times in my lifetime.  I went to 3 different high schools. I am 28 years old.  I am the product of a military family.  I understand how it feels to break ties with friends and move forward.  I know how it feels to be forgotten.  I know how it feels to be alone, and trying to fit in.  Through my trials and transitions, I found that the harder I tried to fit in, the more I lost myself.  When I say losing myself, I mean I lost my identity.  I was so busy trying to fit in, that I became more like them for acceptance and less like me.  I slowly began to see through negative and positive choices that all I need is within me, and all I have to do is to be myself.  Being who God created me to be is all that is necessary for me to have joy and peace in my life.  There is nothing wrong with being an individual.  All great men and women in the past had to stand-alone for a season.  After standing alone, people gravitated to them.  People gravitate to strong people, because they have something that they need.  You have what they need, so be that trendsetter and strong person.

Readers, sometimes you have to go where no one has gone, to be something no one has been.  I work in a Federal Penitentiary with some of the most violent people in the world.  My job is to provide educational services to them, through counseling, and direct instruction.  I love what I do because I love to communicate and teach.  I know also that in this field I can aspire to be the best.  Not many people want to do what I do, but it gives me joy, and I know and the end of the day I have peace.  Knowing that I gave it my all and provided an opportunity for someone to be successful is life changing for me.  I also know that I look forward to going to work everyday.  I believe you can be even better.  I do have my bad days, but I have to count up the cost and search myself to see where my passion and commitment lie.  Do I want to give up?  A lot of times, the guys I teach aren't very nice, however, I know if I can touch that one person's life, maybe he can make a difference in his child's life.  If he can make a difference in his child's life, then maybe his family may be changed.  One positive seed sewn (word of encouragement or good deed) can change the world.  Will we be world changers or changed by others?

One of the most dangerous things in life is contentment.  It causes us to be lazy, and limits our accomplishments.  It's time to break that string of contentment.  I hope this book inspires you to look into yourself and get up and do something.  Revisit those ambitions, passions, and gifts that are within you.  It's time to walk in those giftings.  This book is short and simplistic, the book is not meant to be a novel or a 3-week reader.  I hope this book gives you a jolt of encouragement that causes you to think about what gives or gave you joy, and assess where you are today.  I also hope it causes you to think of where you want to be tomorrow.  Life is a game; your success lies in how you play it.

I know this book will encourage you and re-affirm some things you have within you.  All I ask is that if you know someone who might need encouragement or a positive word.  Please share this book with them.  It is a short and simple read.  I believe this book to be one you can read several times and draw new insight from it.  If the book has blessed your life, please write a review about it.  I challenge you to live with integrity.  Your past makes you who you are, but your passion determines whom you can be.


Posted by joyceanthony at 3:27 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 18 June 2008
A Visit With Jimmy Copeland
Topic: Blog Tours

For the next couple of days, we will be visiting with author, Jimmy Copeland. Mr. Copeland has written a wonderful inspirational book titled Life Is a Game.  Today we will meet Jimmy Copeland and view the cover of his book.  Tomorrow, I will be presenting an interview with Mr. Copeland and the following day a review of his book.  I hope you enjoy his visit--and please leave him a note!!

Jimmy H. Copeland III was born in Fayetteville,North Carolina. His father, a now retired Army Lt. Colonel/Psychologist and his mother, a Social Worker, encouraged their son to take advantage of their military lifestyle to see the world and to embrace diversity through culture and education.

Educated at Texas A & M University-Commerce, Mr. Copeland received his Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Communications and his Masters’ Degree in Secondary Higher Education. Certified by the State of Texas in Special Education, Mr. Copeland current works for the U.S. Department of Justice as a Special Education Coordinator for the Federal Prison System.

The recipient of numerous awards and accolades for his leadership ability and community involvement, Mr. Copeland is also a public speaker. He currently resides in Texas with his wife, a professional photographer, and their two children.

Forethought...

I cannot tell you how life will begin or end. We do not control our beginning but we might have a say in our ending. The choices we make determine our destiny in life and whether success or disaster is achieved. We either elevate to greatness or descend to obscurity. Some choices are made for us, but we can choose how to react to them. Will we make the most of our circumstances, or will we complain of the “iron fi st” that has ruined our life?

The game of life can be played several ways. Some spend their life chasing dreams. Others spend their life making their dreams a reality. Which one will we be? In life, it is important for us to use our strengths as assets in achieving our goals. If we focus too much on our weaknesses, we can and will end up average. Focusing on your strengths will allow you an opportunity to achieve your goals at a faster rate.

Life is a game; your success depends on how you play it.


Posted by joyceanthony at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 19 June 2008 3:44 PM EDT
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Monday, 16 June 2008

Today, we are visiting with Owen Fiddler, the main star of Marvin Wilson's current book.  Marvin, just sit back and let Owen answer the questions (but please be ready to jump in and put him back in line if necessary...this is a family-friendly blog!!).  Okay?

(Joyce) Owen, I'd like you to go back to the age of -let's say 35-and write a letter to your future self.

(Owen - to Marvin) Is this in my contract? Do I have to do this Mickey Mouse (bleep)?

(Marvin - to Owen) Afraid so, buddy boy. Falls under the self-promotion clause. Do like the lady asks. And be nice. And watch the language.

(Owen) Well, OK. Ahm, I'm thirty five - ten years ago, huh? What would I want to say to me now. All right, ah - Dear future Owen Fiddler. In ten years time I'll bet all you've done is screw up your life even more than it's screwed up now. But I know it ain't your fault, cuz you probably haven't gotten any more breaks than I have.  Here's hopin' the next ten years will bring you some good luck. But I doubt it.

(Joyce) Owen, when I first met you, I sensed your extreme negativity.  I must say I can't understand how a person can remain so negative all the time, would you like to explain your reasoning?

(Owen) Negativity? Says you. I call it realism. Life sucks and then you die. Ain't my fault an average guy can't catch a damn break when he needs one. All I've ever wanted is to be happy and have a good time. But, nooooooo - no way ... my life has to turn out like this.

(Joyce) Owen, you have been known to "blame" all your hard luck on your growing up years. How do you account for the fact that your brother, Paize, who had the same home, turned out so well?  Do you think it might be a matter of coping skills?

(Owen's face reddens, his hands clench into fists) That little suck-up, he always got treated better than me. Mom was always praising him for his good grades and his ambition and self-motivation. The little jerk would even do chores around the house without her asking him to! Then he rats on me and gets me in trouble and I wind up running away and ... Agh! Can we change the subject?

(Joyce) How would you describe the feeling of suddenly realizing that there is nobody to blame but yourself?  Does it make you consider the need to examine yourself deeper?

(Owen to Marvin) What the (Bleep) is she talking about? (Owen back to Joyce) I'm to blame here? Everything's my fault? That's what you're trying to say? (Owen bolts up and starts fuming around the room) I need to examine ME deeper? Ain't that a crock. Jesus - I need a drink. And a smoke. (Owen pulls out his cigarettes and lights one)

(Marvin) Owen, take it easy. And put that cigarette out. Calm down and have a seat. Joyce was just trying to let the audience know more about why your life story has such relevance. (Marvin to Joyce) He hasn't read the end yet. The out-of-body experience. In fact, I don't think he's read the book at all yet.

(Owen) Nah, I don't read. Too much work. If they make a movie of it, I'll go to that. At least when it hits the dollar show, I'll go then for sure. Out-of-body experience. What kinda crap are you writing, anyway? 

(Marvin) The truth. It's all in your own story if you'd just read it. Everything is written in your book of life. Always has been and ever will be. You can see a whole lot by just looking - I think Yogi Berra said that.

(Owen) Now don't go draggin' one of the greatest ball players of all time into this mumbo-jumbo-spiritual-spooky crap. Hey, I'm sorry - time's up. Five o'clock - I'm outa here and headin' to the pub. Ma'am, nice meeting you, Marvin, if you need me you know where to find me. Chow. (walks out of the room)

Marvin sighs, look at Joyce) I'm sorry - I warned you he can be difficult. I would've brought the 46 year old enlightened Owen fiddler, but I thought your audience would get a better idea what kind of character the book is about - BEFORE his awakening experience. Were you done? Did you have anything else you wanted Owen to answer?

(Joyce) Well, yes - just one more. Maybe you can fill in for Owen. From the standpoint of today, after having gone through the events Owen has, if he were to write a letter to himself at age ten-what do you think he would say?

(Marvin) Well, I'm sure Owen of today would want to tell little Owen that his own thoughts, attitudes and actions are weapons that he is capable of destroying his own life with, as well as the lives of those around him. He would tell him that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. That to love and forgive others is to love and forgive yourself. And I know one bit of practical advice he'd give him for sure. "Don't steal that bike, Owen. It's not yours and you know it. Leave it right there leaning up against that tree and walk your butt home."

Joyce, thanks so much for having us on your blog today. It's always a pleasure. Believe it or not, I think Owen had a good, time too. He was actually in a pretty good mood today.

Note to the readers: You can visit and communicate with Owen Fiddler at his myspace, at: www.myspace.com/owen_fiddler - OWEN FIDDLER the book is available at: http://www.amazon.com/ and http://www.cambridgebooks.us/ or at your favorite bookstore. The official OWEN FIDDLER booksite is: http://www.owenfiddler.com/ - Marvin Wilson's myspace is at: www.myspace.com/Paize_Fiddler and he LOVES to hear from readers at: marvwilson2010@gmail.com


Posted by joyceanthony at 1:16 AM EDT
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Sunday, 15 June 2008
A special guest is coming!!
Topic: Miscellaneous

On Monday, I am honored to annnounce we will have a special guest here to talk with us--Owen Fiddler (and his sidekick Marvin Wilson!).  Marbin is going to choose one commentor from all Owen's stops (see dates below) to win a copy of Owen Fiddler.  In addition--EVERYONE who leaves a comment will receive a free first chapter sample of OWEN FIDDLER--so get those comments in folks--and don't forget to leave an email address so Marvin knows where to send your fre gift.

Here is a list of all of Owen's stops--I'm sure he's welcome you stopping by:

         OWEN FIDDLER 2008 - The No Dead Trees Cyber Tour

Hosts

Joyce Anthony    June 16 - blog  https://joyceanthony.tripod.com/blog/

Peggy Bell    June 18 - blog   http://peggyullmanbell.com/sappho_sings.blog/

Janet Elaine Smith   June 19 - radio show http://internetvoicesradio.com/

Phil Harris     June 20 - blog   http://philipharris.blogspot.com/

Bradley Simpson (aka Veldane Darkhosis)  June 21 - blog http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfmfuseaction=blog.ListAll&friendID=11425927

Beckie Joki    June 22 - blog   http://360.yahoo.com/chevynova71us

Kwame    June 24 - blog   http://kwameswritings.blogspot.com/ 

Lisa Haselton June 28 blog http://lisahaselton.tripod.com/reviewsandinterviews

Billie Williams   July 1 - blog  http://printedwords.blogspot.com/

Ron Berry  July 4 - blog      http://here-it-is.tripod.com/kritterwriter/        

 


Posted by joyceanthony at 1:24 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 15 June 2008 2:53 PM EDT
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Saturday, 14 June 2008
Getting to Know Sarah Avery
Topic: Author Interview
 

Sarah Avery the person:

1. What three words do you think describe you as a human being?
 

Curious, whimsical, and kind.

2.  How do you think others would describe you?

They'd say I have the longest attention span you'll find anywhere outside a Buddhist monastery.  The ones who have visited museums with me might say this with some frustration, because I take forever looking at stuff.  They'd say I'm persistent, maybe downright stubborn, and that I finish projects no matter what it takes, even when finishing may not be the best idea. They'd say I'm a good foul-weather friend-a person who's not great at keeping in touch when everything's going smoothly, but I show up with a casserole and a mop and a will to help out when the people I care about hit hard times.  And they'd say I'm easily amused, which is a fine thing.  Life is more fun if you're good at laughing at it.

 

3.  Please tell us what you are most passionate about outside of writing.

My family.  My husband and I have been married fourteen years, and after trying to start a family for most of a decade, we have a seven-month old son.  I've had the blessing of falling in love with my husband anew as I've gotten to know who he is as a father.  My baby is, very simply the best thing that ever happened to me-and some pretty good things have happened to me.

4.  Do you have any pets?  If so, introduce us to them.

We have a cat, Sonia, who is a quiet being of simple soul.  She was one of a litter of barn kittens whose barn cat mother disappeared when they were only five weeks old, so Sonia was dropper-fed by humans from very early on.  She has no predatory urge to speak of, and is happiest on a lap or a computer keyboard.

5.  What is your most precious memory?

It's so hard to choose just one, so I'll pick a writing-related memory.  When I was seven years old, my mother made me the most wonderful toys.  They were polygonal cylinders with different numbers of sides and different colors, depending on the parts of speech she gave them, with a different word on each face.  The nouns were red, the verbs were green, and the adjectives were yellow.  I think I had some articles (a, an, the) to throw in as needed.  The game we'd play was that I'd roll the cylinders down the length of my room to generate random sentences.  That was how I learned about parts of speech and word order.  I discovered that I could make the dragon eat the princess, or I could make the princess eat the dragon, and the two sentences were grammatically the same.  It was silly, and absolutely absorbing, and a total revelation to my seven-year-old brain.

6.  What is your most embarrassing memory?

That's easy.  When I was in grad school, I had to take a bunch of fairly grueling oral exams to get the master's degree and qualify to keep working on my doctorate.  The orals themselves went fine, and afterward my husband and my grad school friends went out for a celebratory lunch.  We were making a lot of goofy Star Wars jokes in our mock Darth Vader voices-once I was the learner but now I am the master, that sort of thing-and laughing the giddy laughter of the exhausted, because a bunch of us had done our orals all in the same week.  Sounds innocent so far, right?  The trouble was, we were making all these goofy jokes about being masters in an Ethiopian restaurant whose staff was mostly African-American.  The waiters and waitresses were trying to figure out what kind of racist jerks we were, and we were so caught up in the little world of academia, we didn't notice for most of half an hour. You'd think a bunch of grad students in literature could be counted on to remember that words mean different things in different circumstances.  When we realized that we'd given offense, I went up to the hostess's station to explain that three of us had just finished our master's degrees, and that defused the situation.  We left the biggest tip ever.

 

7.   If you weren't a writer, what would you be doing with your life?

I'd be an English professor at some small liberal arts college.  That's the life I trained for, and I almost got stuck in it.  It's not that there's anything wrong with being an academic.  It's just that I had to choose between writing books I believed in (genre fiction), and writing books I didn't believe in (literary criticism), and I concluded that life is too short for writing books you don't believe in.  When they say publish or perish, they're pretty specific about what kinds of books you're supposed to publish in order to avoid perishing.

8.      In two paragraphs or less write your obituary.

Only if I get to decide how long I'll have lived and how much I'll have done by the time I get there!  Let's see...I'll need at least sixty years, and maybe some spare change, if I'm going to finish all the projects on my to-do list.  Come to think of it, I want to decide how many kids I'll have had, too.  Okay, here goes:

Sarah Avery, age 102, died quietly in her home, surrounded by family and friends.  She was the author of the wildly successful Rugosa Coven stories and the long-running classic epic fantasy Spires of Beltresa series, as well as several books on contemporary Neo-Paganism, and a number of volumes of poetry.  Although she left teaching as a profession in her thirties, she mentored numerous younger writers over the years, occasionally taught at writing workshops and conferences, and was a priestess in a teaching coven in the Blue Star Tradition of Wicca.  She is survived by her husband, her two children, five grandchildren, and ten great-grandchildren, as well as a Wiccan lineage of several daughter covens.

Sarah Avery the writer:

9.  Can you describe the time you realized you were indeed a "real" writer?

A close friend was dying of cancer.  It was a long, painful process, exactly what you would never want to happen to someone you cared about.  His wife, also a close friend, saved my stories to read in the worst moments, because she knew she could count on them to lift her out of her life, to turn her temporarily into someone else with totally different problems.

Our whole community was struggling with George's illness and trying to support Cat.  The day my friend Sabrina realized the end was near for him and it was time to say goodbye, my friend Jen handed her the manuscript for "Closing Arguments" and said, "Take this to read on the train.  I've been saving it as a treat, but I think you need it more than I do."  That night, Sabrina called me to say, "The only reason I didn't lose my mind with grief right there on the train is that I had your manuscript with me."

During the last week of George's life, I started writing a series of blog posts that were a sort of prayer in story form.  A lot of people who loved George followed that story and found comfort in it precisely because it was grappling with the prospect of losing this person we all cared about so much.  I realized that my writing was doing two of the best things that writing can do:  It was offering people an escape from suffering, and it was offering people a way to engage more closely with their suffering. My friendship with George brought a lot of wonderful gifts into my life.  The recognition that I'd become a real writer was one of the most unexpected.

10.  What is going on with your writing these days?

I'm in the weird position of writing to editorial request for the first time.  I've written a lot of stuff-nearly a million words of genre fiction just since I left academia five years ago-and all of it with no certainty that any editor would ever want it.  Now, if my current e-book does well, and its sequel does well this fall, Drollerie Press will publish a print volume collecting those two novellas with a third one, which is still in progress.  Just when I finally have a home for my writing, I'm struggling more than I have in years to protect my writing time.  I'm a first-time, stay-at-home mom, my baby is changing every day, and I tutor part time.  The daily writing rhythm I had before my son was born doesn't work anymore, and I'm still playing around with the structure of my day, trying to find a new writing rhythm that will work.

11.  What are your future goals for your writing?

The Rugosa Coven characters are a lot of fun to write.  I want to do a lot more with them.  I can imagine returning to their adventures for many years to come, but so far they seem to be strictly short fiction plots, novellas and shorter.  A Rugosa novel is theoretically possible, but I don't know if that's what the muses have in mind.

I also have an epic fantasy series, very different stuff, that I'm hoping to place with one of the big print publishers.  When I finished my Ph.D., I decided to write an anti-dissertation, a book that would contain everything that entertained me and nothing that didn't.  At first, I thought it would just be a little hobby that would amuse me while I was between teaching jobs, but pretty soon I was writing four to eight hours a day, and I was happier than I'd been in a decade.  It's a family saga about a democratizing revolution that brings a lost ancient magic back into its world.  The first volume's written, and I have two other manuscripts in the series half finished.  One of the spin-off short stories has been accepted by Black Gate, and some other spin-off stories are making the rounds with other fantasy magazines.  So far, I've pitched series to several agents at writing conferences, and the agents have nearly all requested the full manuscript of the first volume, but it's too long to be an easy sale in the current market, considering that it would be a first novel by an unknown.  I'm hoping the Rugosa stories will help fix the problem of being unknown.

12.  Can you describe a typical writing day for you?

I spend the day taking care of my son and running household errands.  During his naps, I do research for my writing-at the moment, I'm researching horological astrology, the Jersey Devil, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.  My husband comes home by six, and we sit down to our family dinner.  Then I go out to tutor while my husband puts the baby to bed.  I come home from teaching and hang out with my husband until he goes to bed.  Then I write until I drop.

13.  Why do you write?

So many reasons!  I love it when my unconscious mind dreams up some really funny thing for my characters to do, and I wake up at three in the morning cackling with laughter.  I love figuring out the puzzle of the story, taking the pieces apart and putting them back together, adding and lopping parts, until it works just right.  I love having conversations with my characters, learning from them what the story's heart will be.  I love getting feedback from readers, finding out that my work means something to them, and what that something is.  Oh, and the first time I ever got a check for a story I sold, and I could finally say I'd made a professional sale, I loved that, too.

14.  What writer most inspires you?  Why?

The poet I wrote my dissertation about still inspires me.  Her name was Hilda Doolittle, but she published under her initials-as you might, too, if you had a name like Hilda Doolittle.  And in 1913, when she started her writing career, it helped that readers couldn't tell right away that she was a woman.  H.D. was a sort of comeback kid.  She got famous right away, inasmuch as poets can be famous in their own lifetimes, and then went through several cycles of being forgotten and rediscovered.  She never gave up.  Within the space of two years, her brother died in WWI, her father died when he got the bad news about the brother, her husband lost his mind to shell shock, and the influenza epidemic nearly killed her and her baby.  She climbed out of all that, studied psychology with Sigmund Freud, and reinvented herself as a writer.  During WWII, she started writing long, visionary poems as offerings of thanks for her family's surviving the Blitz, and those are my favorites.  The Walls Do Not Fall, Tribute to the Angels, and The Flowering of the Rod are collected in a volume called simply Trilogy, and I'd recommend them to anyone who has a good grounding in mythology.  The first one was published while the Blitz was still going on-imagine living in a city that was being shelled almost every night for nine months, and you'll have some idea of what she and her audience were going through.  In her very idiosyncratic way, she gave voice to the disorientation, the terror, and the gratitude of the people who survived those months.

15.  How do you define your writing?

I try not to define it.  One of the things I enjoy about my writing is that it can surprise me.  After all, if I never surprise myself, how can I surprise my readers?  I want to keep growing as a writer, and if in five years I'm doing things I would not now expect of myself, I'll count that as a success.

16.  In one sentence-what do you want people to say about your writing in fifty years?

She told the truth about the human heart.

Sarah Avery the details:

17.  Can you tell us where to find more information on you? Website?  Blog?

My blog, Ask Dr. Pretentious, can be found at http://dr_pretentious.livejournal.com/.  My website, http://www.sarahavery.com/, is under construction at the moment, but I have reason to hope it'll be up before the end of June.

18.  Is there a place where readers can reach you?

People are welcome to comment on my blog.  The website will have a contact form on it at some point, too.

19.  Can you list all your book titles so people can look for them?

Closing Arguments is the only book that's out so far.  Its sequel, Atlantis Cranks Need Not Apply, will be coming out in the fall.  The planned print volume doesn't have a title yet, but if we do it, that'll be sometime this winter, late 2008 or early 2009.  They're all from Drollerie Press (http://www.drolleriepress.com/), and they'll all be available at the publisher's website, as well as Amazon, Fictionwise, and Mobipocket.

20.  For new readers-what can they expect when they read your book(s)?

They can expect ensemble casts of varied, vivid characters who will stay with them a long time after the stories end.  They can expect a sense of humor, crackling dialogue, and the occasional stunning twist.  They can expect that I've put everything I've got into every story I send out into the world.

In conclusion:

21.  Take as much space as necessary to speak to our readers-what would you like them to know about you and your writing?

My process depends absolutely on revision.  I write my first draft to find out what's possible, and I try out a lot of stuff that doesn't (and shouldn't) appear in the final version.  My characters appear in my dreams to correct me when I get their inner lives wrong.  I make huge bulleted-point lists of options at the big decision points in the story, and sometimes I write three or four mutually exclusive scenes, just to see how they play.  I jump around the chronology, writing whichever scene I can see most clearly, even if I haven't the slightest idea what its function in the finished story might be.  When I've got the piece about halfway roughed out, a structure begins to emerge, and I can start thinking about things like pacing.  By the time I write the last scene that comes to me, which is often in the middle, the first scenes I roughed out have often been worked over fifty times.  Literally fifty times.  Some of the scenes in my sprawling epic have been reworked more than that.  There are people who are able to write more efficiently using index cards, or the snowflake method, or whatever, and I've tried a few of those methods out, but I think the method I use works better for me.  I just plain get better results through trial and error than I do with a front-loaded process.

My way only works because I give myself permission to be imperfect-or even to be awful-on the first attempt, and because I refuse to accept anything less from myself than my best when I'm on the last pass of revision.  If I got stuck in perfectionism or sloppiness all the way through the process, nothing worth reading would ever emerge.


Posted by joyceanthony at 4:03 AM EDT
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Friday, 13 June 2008
The Bounce Back Book by Karen Salmansohn--A Review
Topic: Book Review

From the moment your hands touch the bright-red rubber cover of this book, you know you can expect something different than the usual self-help books.  You won't be disappointed. 

The Bounce Back Book is written is a short, somewhat sassy, tone that gives those who hav gone through adversity, setbacks or losses a way to cope with the feelings involved and then move onward--and upward.

Karen Salmonsohn has written this book in short, easily-readable tidbits--75 to be exact.  She starts with a general statement and then explains a bit further.  On many of the sections, she gives assignments to help readers incorporate the advice she presents. 

Both from experience and from a background in Psychology, I can tell you the tips within this book do work!!  Unlike many self-help books, the exercises are both practical and easy--yet the results can be incredible.

For anyone wishing to learn coping strategies that WILL work, this is a must-have book.


Posted by joyceanthony at 3:42 PM EDT
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Thursday, 12 June 2008
A Word From Karen Salmansohn
Topic: Blog Tours
My Vortex lasted about a year, during which time so many bad things happened, I kept waiting for a Candid Camera crew to appear from behind the planter in my living room. First, the real estate broker, real estate lawyer, and moving company I hired found sneaky ways to rip me off. Next, a longtime business buddy hired me to package new groovy chocolate bars, then never paid me.

But those were nothing compared to the lowest point in my Vortex: a sexual assault-which came out of nowhere-by someone I knew as an acquaintance. As soon as I managed to get free and far away from my assaulter, I called my close friend Eric Gertler, an ex-boyfriend and ex-lawyer. I figured because he knew both the law and me intimately, he'd be a wise adviser. We met at our regular café. I was in tears.

"How could someone be so...so...so evil?" I asked.

"People aren't evil. They're weak," said Eric.

Weak? This word somehow calmed me.

Later when I tried to understand why I preferred the word "weak" to the word "evil," I realized that "weakness" meant there was at least hope for change in someone who'd done something evil-and most importantly, hope for me to find a way out of my Vortex by choosing not to be weak myself.

That's when it hit me. In life, you always have a choice.

Be weak or be strong.

Whichever of these paths you choose will determine your ability to bounce back from life's myriad setbacks, crises, or traumas. If you want to survive life's many challenges, you must put in the conscious effort and discipline to be a strong person. It's essential you create a fiery will from within-harness that power of decisiveness-and choose to be your strongest self. I realize that it's easier to lounge around in depression and angst than to rise above challenging circumstances. Believe me, I know because at first I chose to follow this weaker path.

Initially I was totally traumatized by my sexual assault. I started experiencing anxiety around people. If I'd be writing in a café and a stranger chatted me up, my left eye would twitch. And no, it wasn't the caffeine. (Trust me. I'm a pro at espresso. And I'm a pro at casual conversation with strangers.) Basically, after the assault my automatic tendency was to keep all people at a distance. I had trouble trusting anyone. Even people I'd known for years. After all, I'd witnessed how people could change in a moment. And so I pretty much became paranoid about everyone I came into contact with. Especially men.

Then I gained weight-12 pounds-which is a ton on my 5-foot-3 frame. Maybe subconsciously I figured there was safety in creating a big wad of fat between me and men's sexual urges. It was easy to gain weight. I had all this chocolate around my apartment from the nonpaying chocolate business buddy. He was a bad businessman, but he made some damn good chocolate!

Soon enough, this upward weight gain created a further downward emotional spiral. I began feeling bummed about my bigger bum, which further increased my yearning to stay inside away from people and close to my chocolate bars. I was a self-help author! Why couldn't I help myself get through this? Sometimes, when I saw the growing discrepancy between who I was and how I was behaving, I'd mutter to myself in a kind of mock-voiceover: "Behind the scenes of the self-help book author..." as I unwrapped another chocolate bar

Who you truly are as a person is best revealed by who you are during times of conflict and crisis. It's easy to be your strongest, highest self when things are rolling along smoothly. But how you handle life's setbacks and traumas reveals your authentic character. If you can be strong during challenging times, then...well, you truly ARE a disciplined and spirited person. And this identity makes you not only a very cool person but a very happy person.

Just as it takes willpower to choose to stay on a healthy diet during times of great temptation, it also takes willpower to choose to remain a positive and happy human being during times of crisis. Basically, to live a happy life-with all of life's multiple challenges-takes effort and work. Happiness is not for namby-pambies!

For this reason, you need to develop a long-term vision for what you uniquely value-what you know makes you the happiest-so you can stay focused on these values, no matter what your trials and tribulations. I know what I value: I need to feel loving, loved, creatively charged, healthy, sexy, self-confident, and as if I am continuously growing. (Note: not in thighs but in mind and spirit!) I also know: Life is constantly testing our ability to feel those things.Actually, if there were a single instructional goal for living your best life it might be "Keep your eye on the prize of happiness, even when caught in the eye of the storm-or Vortex."

Guess what else? Lucky unlucky us: Often the greatest happiness in life comes from going through a crisis-and growing into a stronger, better person. In fact, Aristotle, one of my favorite philosophers, wrote in great detail about how true happiness does not come from experiencing pleasures of the body and ego but from having experiences that stimulate your core self-your "soul"-challenging and inspiring you to grow into your highest potential as a person. You know how sharks need to keep on moving to stay alive? We humans need to consciously keep on moving forward emotionally if we want to keep our spirits alive-or else our spirits will fizzle and fade. Basically, you're either growing into a bigger, better person or shrinking into a lowly, bitter person. And by "growing," I don't mean simply reading lots of self-help books, doing yoga, eating granola bars, and having highfalutin', ego-tootin' intellectual conversations. There's an old expression: "There are those who know where it is, they just don't know WHAT it is." It doesn't matter how many books you read or meditation classes you take if you're only going through the motions without experiencing true inner growth

So WHAT is "growing"? Putting in the emotional effort to improve who you are as a person-facing your core pain-and working to stretch yourself to become your strongest, wisest, highest-level self. Yes, I believe the greatest reward out there is actually not OUT there at all. It's an INSIDE job! The greatest reward is knowing that you are refusing to settle for being anything less than you can be. And there's nothing more fulfilling and thrilling than discovering yourself to be a stronger person than you ever dreamed yourself capable of being.

My Vortex made me who I am today, and the good news is, I actually like myself more because of it. My Vortex challenged me to make that choice:

1. Be weak. 2. Be strong.

And when push came to shove, I chose "be strong," baby!

In the movie Wag the Dog, every time Dustin Hoffman's character faced a new challenge in his TV production, he kept repeating, "This is nothing! This is NOTHING!" I relate. After going through my Vortex, I now feel better prepared to deal with future challenges that lie ahead. And you know what? Unlucky things will continue to happen to me. And not just to me, to everyone. We might not like it, but unlucky events are as much a "given" on this earth as gravity. You might as well accept the reality now: Your life will continue to have ebbs and flows. There's no such thing as endless flow. Unfortunately, life can sometimes feel like ebb, ebb, ebb, brief-flash-offlow, more ebb, ebb. And so it's essential to develop the right coping tools for dealing with life's all too plentiful challenges. There's an old Buddhist expression that goes something like: "A man can't cover up all the infinite stone-covered, jagged paths of this world with a layer of soft, cushy leather. But a man can wear soft, cushy leather sandals on the soles of his feet to protect himself on the journey." Ditto for unlucky events. You can't rid them from this planet. But you can develop the coping tools, techniques, and philosophies to protect yourself-and give yourself the wherewithal to keep moving forward.

That's where this book comes in. My goal in writing The Bounce Back Book was to share with you all the tools and lessons I learned during my return from my Vortex. In the pages ahead you will find 75 Tips grounded in happiness research, medical studies, positive psychology, Eastern meditation, even Greek philosophy; in each one I've distilled the wisdom of an expert to a short, easily-digestible, potentially life-changing tip on how to bounce back from adversity-along with the research that makes it so compelling. I've also included in some of the "Bounce Back Assignments" actual exercises and techniques from therapists to help you reframe your challenges so you will be able to think differently about them-and thereby be able to feel differently about them.

I recognize that one book cannot be all things to all people at the same time. Some of you reading this book might be recovering from a deep personal tragedy while others may be going through a life setback that challenges you in different ways. As a result, some Tips in this book will be more appropriate and helpful than others depending on the nature of your trauma and where you are in the process of recovery. I'm hoping that the majority of the Tips will be immediately inspiring and useful. But if you find some of the suggestions "too light" for the heavy burden you're dealing with right now, feel free to skip past them and consider returning to them when you're further along in your recovery. And, as usual in my serious self-help books, I use humor because I believe humor is a terrific "enlightening device"-immediately lightening your mood-getting you outside of yourself, so you can experience that needed enlightenment!

Finally, everything I'm preaching in this book, I practiced. It works.

Wishing you strength in abundance,

KAREN SALMANSOHN


Posted by joyceanthony at 3:17 AM EDT
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