Friday, January 30, 2009

CPSC Grants One Year Stay on Testing & Certification Requirements of Certain Products

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced today that it would grant a one year stay on the testing and certification of certain products under the new Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA).

Individuals and groups have been contacting the CPSC with their concerns and there is even a petition requesting that the CPSIA be repealed.

Consumers who purchase products for children 12 and under--including books--should keep on eye on what happens over the next year as opponents of the current version of the CPSIA continue their efforts to get the law repealed or amended.

You can read a press release about the one year stay from the CPSC here.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Divinely Inspired: Spiritual Awakening of a Soul by Jerry Pollock--Book Review

A candid and courageous memoir of one man's spiritual journey can be found in Divinely Inspired: Spiritual Awakening of a Soul.

Jerry Pollock is born into a less than ideal family where his neglectful mother and neurotic father do not and cannot provide him with the love and nuturing all children deserve. It will not be until many years later, when Jerry begins Primal Therapy, that he will discover the repressed memories of his childhood.

Divorced from his first wife, now a full professor at Stony Brook University, and planning to marry Marcia, Jerry hears the words that will eventually change his life.

After being diagnosed with Bipolar disorder at age 50, enduring the collapse of his career, attempting suicide, and encountering a cult, Jerry returns to those words he heard a decade ago. His spiritual journey brings him past the memories, the hurts, and the disappointments of his earlier years, and moves him forward to a life of enduring richness and meaning.

If you read and enjoyed Pollock's not-so-fictional novel, Messiah Interviews: Belonging to God--which we reviewed here--you'll want to pick up a copy of Divinely Inspired.

In true memoir form, Pollock shares his life in a candid way, holding nothing back, and the reader will be left amazed by some of the things that the author has endured. The dedication of his wife, Marica, that is also so lovingly portrayed in Messiah Interviews, also shines through in Divinely Inspired, as she supports and loves her husband through many difficult experiences.

The addition of an Epilogue that shares the author's spiritual insights is a brave move. Having spent his life as a scientist, Pollock shares his belief that Evolution and Creation are not mutually exclusive because God is the Master Scientist. Divinely Inspired will also shed further light on the happenings in Messiah Interviews.

A true companion to Messiah Interviews, but also a book that will be enjoyed by those interested in reading how one man's spiritual journey leads him to inner peace, Divinely Inspired by Jerry Pollock, is a unique way to discover the wisdom of God.

Title: Divinely Inspired: Spiritual Awakening of a Soul
Author: Jerry Pollock
Publisher: Shechinah Third Temple
ISBN: 978-0-9817212-5-5
SRP: $15.00 (U.S.)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Canadian Author Yvonne Prinz Talks about Clare

Our special guest today is Yvonne Prinz, author of the Clare series, which includes: Still There, Clare, Not Fair, Clare and Double-Dare Clare, all of which we reviewed here. We’ll talk to Yvonne about this wonderful series and find out what Clare and friends will be up to next.

Welcome to The Book Connection, Yvonne. It’s a thrill to have you with us!

Thrilled to be here!

I have to tell you that I loved all three books in the Clare series. I’m going to hold onto them for when my girls get a bit older.

Before we talk about Clare and her friends, let’s find out more about you. How long have you been a writer?

I’ve always written but I started writing seriously after our record store, Amoeba, was up and running. That was about ‘94

The Young Adult market is extremely competitive. Why did you decide to focus on writing for young adults?

I really had no idea what I was doing. I was very idealistic about the whole thing. I just created a character and started writing. Since then I‘ve explored the market a lot and I’ve become more savvy, although I still shy away from workshops and writing groups and big gatherings of YA writers. Not because I don’t think they’re effective but because I’ve developed a voice and I’m running with it, lone wolf style.

Other than the competition, what are some of the other challenges you face in the YA market?

Publisher issues. My first publisher, Raincoast, has shut down it’s publishing arm and that makes it tough. Fortunately, I found a new agent and she sold two of my new books to Harper Collins so I feel more secure. Things are really tight in the market now and you have to be doing something really unique to get noticed. I’m personally not a big fan of fantasy writing and there seems to be a glut of it in the YA market right now. If I were starting out I think I’d stay away from that genre.

Let’s turn our attention to Clare. Where did the inspiration come from that made you sit down and write that very first book?

I based Clare on myself at that age but I made her a little more plucky and clever than I was ever allowed to be. Much of STC is based on real events that happened in my own life. The second and third books veer away from my real experiences but by the time I wrote those I knew Clare through and through and I could do anything with her.

In Still There, Clare, your main character will soon turn thirteen and she’s decided she’s too old for her imaginary friend, Elsa. Because Clare has an imaginary friend, can the reader assume she doesn’t have a lot of real friends and that this is going to be a huge challenge for her this year?

Yes, Clare’s not great at making friends, she’s quirky and a bit awkward and nothing really comes easy to her, but she evolves over the three books. By the third book she’s really quite confident and self-possessed. All kids have their challenges. I find that kids who have to work hard to find their niche generally grow up into very interesting adults, where popular kids face the challenge of finding that in the real world things may not come quite as easy as they did in grade school.

What is it about imaginary friends that makes them so special?

They’re created by us and they’re our alter-ego’s. An imaginary friend is you, only prettier, smarter, a different sex, older, more popular, whatever. In Clare’s case, Elsa’s got great fashion sense and loads of confidence and BIG opinions.

What other challenges does Clare have to deal with this year?

Tons. Her eccentric aunt starts dating her gym teacher whom Clare happens to have a crush on. Her only real friend, Paul, is leaving for private school and she’s finally figured out that he actually means something to her, she has to figure out a way to grow some breasts before school is back in, and her mom has given up a law career to become Clare’s new best friend.

When readers catch up with Clare in the next book, Not Fair, Clare, things have changed a bit for her. She’s got a new “real” friend in Allison and the two have a lot in common. What do you like best about their friendship?

Well, I adore Allison. I wish I’d found a friend like her when I was twelve. Clare and Allison are both physical in that they both like to run but neither of them takes it too seriously. They both have a dark sense of humor, although Allison is slightly naïve where Clare is deeply cynical. Allison is very matter-of-fact about boys and she could take them or leave them where Clare would give her left arm for some boy action. Allison’s influence on Clare is interesting. She boosts Clare’s confidence without even knowing it.

One thing that stayed the same for Clare is how she is treated by her rival, the ever popular Ginny Germain. You did an excellent job of creating the tension between them. How did you tap into the intimate workings of a relationship between a girl who is not in the “in" crowd and the girl who runs the “in" crowd?

That part is all me. I was an outsider and a girl named Jenny I went to school with traveled with a posse of pretty girls and basically ran the school. Her ladies-in-waiting dated only the boys that Jenny wasn’t interested in and she made life hell for shy girls like me who didn’t have a clue about hard core grade school politics.

Elsa also appears in No Fair, Clare. Has her relationship with Clare changed at all?

Yes, you’ll notice that as the series goes forward, Elsa is only called upon in dire circumstances where Clare needs an ear or when she suddenly finds herself alone or out of ideas. Clare is slowly developing her own way of dealing with the world and needs Elsa less and less.

Now, in your latest release, Double-Dare Clare, Allison and Clare are in Eighth Grade and looking forward to winter break. Clare’s only other friend from the first book—Paul—comes home for a visit during break. Does Clare get a chance to see Paul in a different light? How does she feel about it?

She’s a little jealous, the way that you can be when you see someone through someone else’s eyes. Allison sees Paul as boyfriend material but Clare has never seen that side of him. She’s always treated him as a geek, a secondary friend that she would see if she didn’t have anything better to do. Clare also feels threatened when Allison starts spending time with Paul and becomes less available to her.

There’s also that little thing with Clare where she decides to do something that her friends warn her not to do. Does Clare’s decision in this case show how she has matured throughout the books?

I wanted to create an encounter where Clare has to make a big moral decision on her own. Most young girls are faced with their first irresistible “Bad Boy” at some point, the guy who asks you to do something that you know you probably shouldn’t but you want him to like you so badly that you’re willing to do anything to be with him. I think that Clare is frightened by it, but she ultimately does the right thing.

One of my favorite characters from the books is Aunt Rusty. Can you talk about her a bit?

My Aunt Rusty was my crazy Aunt Jean. She and I drove around a lot together listening to cool music, going to record stores, going on long road trips. I just had to put her in a book (or three). Rusty is the opposite of Clare’s mom, completely unfocused, bad with men, a bad example. I don’t have kids of my own so I appear to some of my friend’s kids as a sort of Aunt Rusty. I teach them all the bad stuff. I really love this character

Other than Clare, do you have a favorite character?

Other than Aunt Rusty, I adore Allison and Patience (Book 2 and 3). Ginny was the most fun to write and in my supporting cast. I love the gift wrapper from the mall and Paul’s mom.

You’ve written three Clare books now. What is it about Clare and her friends that keeps you writing more stories for them?

They’re family.

Now here’s the important question—what does the future hold for the Clare series?

There’s a TV show in development with The Family Channel in Canada and the series has received some attention lately. Not Fair Clare was nominated for a Red Maple award, an award I’m fond of because kids have to read the books and vote. All this could mean that the series gets reprinted or sold to another publisher. It could even mean a fourth Clare book.

I sure hope so!

Where can readers purchase copies of the Clare books?

At any bookstore. If you don’t see it, ask for it. Online at Amazon, Powell’s, Barnes and Noble, Indigo, they should all have them.

Where can readers find you online?

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Turning off the computer, television, video game, is a young girl’s first step out into a world beyond her own. It’s so important to make time to quietly enjoy a good book. Support libraries, indie bookstores, and, most of all, reading.

Thank you for spending so much time with us today, Yvonne. I hope to hear more great news about Clare soon!

Thank YOU!

We reviewed all three Clare books at The Book Connection. Look for Still There, Clare, Not Fair, Clare, and Double-Dare Clare.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

American Library Association Seeking Library Advocates to Help Push through Amendments to CPSIA

This was posted on the American Library Association's Issues & Advocacy page:

A public meeting was held January 22, and Cheryl Falvey, General Counsel for the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), stated that a decision should be made by the first week of February regarding libraries. She advised libraries not to take any action at this time, and we are hopeful that the Commission’s decision will exempt libraries.

Even with her assurances, we must let the CPSC know how important an issue this is to libraries. Please call the Acting Commissioner, Nancy Nord, at (301) 504-7901. When you call this number, wait for the automated directory to give you directions to reach Nancy Nord’s office. Explain to the Commission that it is simply impossible for libraries to remove all children’s books from the shelves and/or ban children under 12 from the library and still provide the level of service that is needed.

You can find more information on how you can help at the American Library Association site.

Impact of CPSIA on School Libraries

As the official enforcement date of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) gets closer and closer, there still seems to be a lot of uncertainty about the law's impact on books and how CPSIA will impact school libraries.

I recently attended a meeting at a school in our district and they had not even heard of CPSIA, so perhaps that's good news. Until we know for sure, however, you might want to read this article that I found on the American Association of School Libraries blog.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Katie & Kimble: A Ghost Story by Linda Thieman--Book Review

Follow the adventures of a girl and a ghost in Katie & Kimble: A Ghost Story by Linda Thieman.

Katie Russell, her two-year-old brother, Toby, and her parents move into a big, empty house in the country. Well, at least they think it is empty. But after moving in, Katie begins to find objects laying around that don't belong to anyone in the family. Oh, and there's that girlish laughter Katie hears too.

Kimble, the ghost of a ten-year-old girl, appears to Katie and asks her to help find out what happened to Kimble's mother. So Katie and Kimble set out on an adventure that leads them to a graveyard, the granddaughter of the man who started the town's newspaper, and a forest, to uncover the truth.

An excellent start to a new series of chapter books for young readers. Katie & Kimble: A Ghost Story explores friendship and the loss of a loved one in such a way that the reader is immediately drawn into the story. In our interview with Linda Thieman, she mentioned the importance of dealing with grief in a realistic way. Katie & Kimble does this, as the girls discover together what happened to Kimble's mother.

There is nothing that will scare a young reader within this book's pages. The mystery is there. The suspense builds as Katie and Kimble investigate what might have happened to Kimble's mother. But at no point is the material presented in such a way that a young reader will experience fear.

Thieman did a wonderful job of portraying both Katie's youth and her growth. Katie is forced to make a decision between helping Kimble and obeying her parents. In the end, this delicate issue is handled well and addressed in an appropriate fashion.

The black and white illustrations by Kim Tharp truly bring Katie and Kimble's world to life in a special way, and one of these illustrations adorns the front cover.

A bit of mystery, a budding friendship, and some wonderful adventures await young readers in Katie & Kimble: A Ghost Story.

Title: Katie & Kimble: A Ghost Story
Author: Linda Thieman
Publisher: Pale Silver Rainplop Press
ISBN-10: 0-9794396-1-2
ISBN-13: 978-0-9794396-1-2
SRP: $5.95 (U.S.)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

My Father, My Don by Tony Naopli--Book Review

A gripping and raw true story of a father and son's relationship and the world of organized crime can be found in My Father, My Don by Tony Napoli with Charles Messina.

James "Jimmy Nap" Napoli was a mob kingpin who ruled over the largest gambling empire in America for almost forty years. In this no-holds-barred autobiography, James's son, Tony, describes his own life in the mob under the influence of his father and depicts the sometimes tense, but always cherished relationship he had with his father.

My Father, My Don opens with a powerful, graphically violent scene. But it is this scene that sets the tone for the telling of such a brutally honest story, and it is a scene that will be revisted toward the end of the book, when Tony has come full circle and is on the road to sobriety and healing.

This truly is a book that is about more than just two lives in the mysterious world of organized crime. It is the story of a boy whose family came to America from Italy on a banana boat looking for a better life. It is the story of a young James Napoli, seeking to be a man in the way he wished, instead of seeking the life his father wanted him to live. It is the story of Tony Napoli, who grew up the son of a mobster, loving his father, feeling his influence, but ultimately wanting to be himself. Most of all, it is a story of family--the ties that bind and the lengths to which one will go to protect his own.

From the first word to the last, this book will be one you won't be able to put down. You'll be disturbed at times and astounded at times, but more often you'll be moved by the level of respect and the amount of love one man has for his father. While exploring a world that is vastly different than what you might have experienced, you'll gain fresh insights into the intriguing and complicated world of organized crime. And there is at least one scene that will move you to tears.

Fascinating and gritty, My Father, My Don is a must read for anyone intrigued by organized crime or powerful stories of coming to grips with the past and moving on.

Title: My Father, My Don
Author: Tony Napoli with Charles Messina
Publisher: Beckham Publications Group, Inc.
ISBN: 978-0-9802380-5-1
SRP: $14.95 (U.S.)

You'll find our interview with Tony Napoli here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Encourage Good Reading Habits with Linda Thieman's Chapter Book series, Katie & Kimble

We’re delighted to have with us today, Linda Thieman, author of the chapter book series Katie & Kimble. Linda is a former English teacher who has turned her attention and abilities to helping young people learn to read.

Welcome, Linda. It’s a pleasure to have you with us.

Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Let’s get started by learning a bit more about you. How long did you teach, where, and what grades?

I taught in Iowa for about 3 years—a lot of English as a Second Language classes and also a year teaching French as a grad assistant at the University of Northern Iowa while I was getting my MA. In between my BA and MA, I tutored in France for a year. Then later, I taught English at Kuwait University for 3 years, and then at an American university branch campus in Japan for 5 years.

What made you turn your attention to writing? Did you have a target market in mind when you started?

I’ve always been a writer. In high school, I wrote and published my own Star Trek fanzine. Had a healthy subscriber list, too! Then, out of grad school, I published in professional journals and newsletters, wrote and edited the faculty newsletter while in Kuwait, wrote much of and edited the faculty handbook while in Japan. Then I got into freelancing—did radio ad copy for six months, wrote advertorials, and loads of articles on business start ups and, when I could, articles on alternative health. I also ran a blog for over two years before I passed it off to someone else.

While I was still teaching in Japan, my love of fiction writing started blooming and I wrote an unpublished novel and a short story (or perhaps it’s really a picture book without pictures yet). I had also done a lot of materials development as a teacher, writing for low-level adult learners. So the turn to children’s fiction seemed a natural outgrowth of that.

Tell us about Katie Russell. What will readers like about her? How will they relate to her?

Katie, as a character, does seem to be very popular with the readers. She turns nine near the beginning of the book, so she seems to be growing in independence daily. Katie has a good sense of humor, she’s always interested in something, she’s friendly, she likes people and likes to help them, and she’s got a good, kind and loving heart, but she’s also a pretty tough cookie. She’s quite practical and unafraid, and she waits to panic until there are no other options!

I think there are any number of ways that readers relate to Katie. A lot of kids can relate to moving to a new town and not having any friends. Katie has a loyal dog, named Twinkle, and it’s her job to feed the dog. She also got to choose Twinkle’s name, which, it is my understanding from comments I’ve read, is a big deal in a child’s life. She comes from a pretty average family. She’s excited about seeing her new school, which I always was when we moved. Also, at that age, a child’s first instinct is still to run and share everything with her mom, and Katie does that, but she also holds back a little and keeps some things to herself to think over on her own. It’s part of that growing independence. Lastly, I’d say kids can relate to the fact that Katie does try to mind her parents, and she actually minds pretty well, but in spite of that, she sometimes gets into trouble anyway! It’s one of those typical “hazards” of childhood.

In Katie & Kimble: A Ghost Story (book one), Katie discovers Kimble for the first time and they set out on a quest to find out what happened to Kimble’s mother. How did you approach the topic of ghosts and the mystery of what happened to Kimble’s mother without making it frightening to young readers?

What happened to Kimble’s mother is the central mystery that guides and motivates everything that Kimble, the ghost of a 10-year-old girl, does. So, it was a topic that needed to be addressed.

It was really important to me to deal with grief in a realistic way. In so many children’s books, the author sort of glosses over death and grief as if it’s not really that big of a deal, all in the interest of moving the plot along. But it is a big deal. If a spirit can be earthbound because of unhealed grief, then that grief must be dealt with or the author is just cheating the reader.

In Katie & Kimble: A Ghost Story, Kimble needs to know what happened to her mother, and she needs Katie to help her. So Katie goes to visit a neighbor lady who has old newspapers dating back a century or more, and Kimble tags along so she can listen in.

Katie and Kimble learn about the death of Kimble’s mother by reading one of these old newspapers. There is no description of the death, just that Kimble’s mother died from the Great Influenza of 1918 two days before Kimble did, so Kimble never knew. She was simply too ill to be told.

When I was seven, my best friend lost his mother. He was so sad and he looked so lonely and I felt so sorry for him, but I did not suddenly acquire the fear that I might lose my mother, too. It never occurred to me. Also, later that year, a girl my age who lived down the street died. I knew she’d been sick because she only rarely could come out and play. When she died, I was sad and I felt so sorry for her parents, but I was not suddenly afraid that I was going to die, too. So I think that the fact that in order for any ghostly character to appear in any story there must first be a death is more of a given and children understand that.

Some parents might be concerned that the topic of death could scare a child. But I don’t really think that living with the fear of death is the natural state for children at this age. I think that is a fear that is acquired as one ages and becomes more aware of his or her own mortality. But I strongly believe that children at this age understand death and feel it keenly when it affects them.

I lived through two major deaths at a young age—one at age five and one at age six. I understood these people were out of my life forever, my heart ached at the loss, and I cried my eyes out. My mom told me that these people were now in heaven living with God. That was enough to satisfy me at the time and it was a great comfort. Life goes on, it changes form, but it is never truly gone.

Near the end of the story, Katie also helps Kimble track down the final resting place of her mother so that Kimble can say goodbye. For Kimble, this provides a sense of closure and healing. She is now less of a victim, and on her way to having a better understanding of why she is an earthbound spirit.

Tell us about the reading skills worksheets and classroom materials that teachers and homeschoolers can download from the Katie & Kimble Blog - Do you have other learning materials available?

It is my belief, and I think this is a fairly standard belief that has emerged in the elementary education community, that reading a chapter book series with continuing characters can be a great way to enhance the reading experience for young learners. For one thing, by the time you get to the second book, the characters are familiar, like old friends. And because not everything is new every time in every book, it helps with reading comprehension.

As an English language teacher, I spent a lot of time writing and developing materials. So it felt very natural to me to want to create materials to go with the Katie & Kimble books that teachers and homeschoolers could download free of charge. One of the problems when chapter books were introduced into the Iowa school systems as a kind of “more natural” way of reading was that now teachers were stuck having to write their own materials. This is very time consuming for teachers and it was my desire to help out.

So, in the summer of 2008, I took two or three months to study the national standards for third grade, research cognitive development and learning styles for that level, and figure out how reading classes were run. I then set about to create a set of six activity packets for each of the first two Katie & Kimble books, with seven activity pages in each packet. Readers fill out the different types of exercises as they read the book, which also helps reinforce reading comprehension because even every language skill, like compound words or synonyms, is done in the context of some part of the story that they’ve already read.

I also created an awards system. As each activity packet is completed and the pages are checked off, the reader is awarded a ribbon that can be printed out and colored in. There is also a bigger ribbon for when they finish each book. I’ve also included various classroom activities, and writing prompts to go with the Katie & Kimble stories and also to go with funny stories I’ve posted on the Katie & Kimble blog about my own childhood when I was the same age as the Katie & Kimble readers.

How many Katie & Kimble books have you written?

Right now, there are two Katie & Kimble books in print—Katie & Kimble: A Ghost Story, and Katie & Kimble: The Magic Wish. I am in the middle of writing the third book, Katie & Kimble: The Golden Door. Loving every minute of it! I hope to bring it out in 2009.

Do you have any Katie & Kimble events planned at local schools or libraries?

Not at the moment. Hey, this is Iowa! The weather outside is frightful, to quote the old holiday standard.

What does the future look like for Katie & Kimble? Where do you see them going?

In the third book, I am introducing a new continuing character—a ten-year-old boy named Danny Garcia. I love this kid! He’s friendly and enthusiastic and open-minded, and he even ends up being a bit protective of Katie. At the same time, Kimble is being more fully integrated into Katie’s family, almost like a daughter in ghostly form. And it’s a bit disruptive, so boundaries begin to be established. But it is largely Kimble’s longing for a mother that drives her behavior—first for her own long-gone mother and then later, when her heart latches on to Katie’s mom, who is so kind and reasonable and loving.

Each book finds Katie awakening more and more to her ability to help people, and Kimble becomes less and less a victim and much more empowered to make her choices consciously.

I’ve got books 4 through 6 planned out, too, and there the themes of love, healing and empowerment continue while at the same time, we learn quite a bit more about Kimble’s family. These books aren’t just Katie and Kimble go to the beach! There are some big surprises coming up! Each book is true to the human feelings of all characters and because of that, they pack a real emotional wallop.

Where can readers purchase books 1 and 2 of the Katie & Kimble chapter book series?

Both of the first two books are available at

Is there anything you would like to add?

The one thing that so many of the kids have commented on is how funny the books are. They are light, friendly, comforting books with a real sense of optimism. And both Katie and Kimble have good senses of humor and can see the irony in situations and make comments about it to tease each other. There’s a real sense of camaraderie and friendship, which is one of the main social skills teachers try to focus on at this level.

Thanks for joining us today, Linda. We wish you and Katie & Kimble a fun and exciting future!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

On Inauguration Day: How Obama Tackled the Tough Issue of the Economy along the Campain Trail

In celebration of Barack Obama's Inauguration, we are featuring an excerpt from Earl Ofari Hutchinson's book, How Obama Won--which we reviewed here.

It Was Still the Economy Stupid

In a two minute nationally paid campaign broadcast billed as a "presidential style" talk to the nation in mid September, 2008, Obama talked about one issue, and one issue only, the economy. There wasn't much new in his talk. But it really didnʼt have to be anything new. Polls by then showed the economy; or rather the train wreck of the economy was really the only thing on voterʼs minds.

Obama again vowed to cut taxes for the middle-class, clean up Wall Street's mess, and create lots of jobs for everybody. He aimed to firmly seize back the high ground on the defining issue of economic misery of the middle and working class, the Bush-GOP caused economic misery that is. This was widely regarded as his sure fire ticket to the White House. It was a play on the old political truism that it's the economy stupid that wins or loses presidential elections.

From day one of campaign 2008 the enshrined article of political faith was that voters were so furious at Bush for causing massive plant closings, farm failures, corporate bungling, fraud and corruption, the housing collapse, soaring gas prices, and the wholesale flight of jobs to the far corners of the planet, that all a Democratic presidential contender had to do to win was pass the breath test on Election Day.

Excerpt taken from How Obama Won by Earl Ofari Hutchinson

You can read more about Earl's opinions on our new President and the economy at

Order How Obama Won at

Friday, January 16, 2009

Who Says Americans Don't Read?

According to Book Business Magazine, a recent survey performed by the National Endowment for the Arts indicates there has been an increase in the overall rate of adult readers of literature. The 2008 National Endowment for the Arts Survey of Public Participation in the Arts shows a seven percent increase in the overall rate of adult readers since 2002. This survey began in 1982 and is taken every five years.

Doumented findings show that the young adults category (18- to 24-year-olds) experienced the most significant increase at nine percent and that for the first time in the survey's history literary reading increased among men and women.

You'll find the entire article here.

Louise Lewis Says No Experts Needed

About the book:

Losing a job always delivers a hard blow, but it was especially hard for forty-something author Louise Lewis, one of many victims of the technology industry's dotcom implosion. No Experts Needed: The Meaning of Life According to You! tells the story of how she pulled herself together and discovered a new life of meaning.

Just minutes after being "set free", Lewis, a single woman with a mortgage to pay, sits in the San Jose, California, airport panicking over her future. While toying with the option of giving into depression, she receives a powerful message from God that instantly releases the weight of her worries. "This is just a new chapter in your life. You hold the pen, I'll guide your hand, and together we'll write one hell of a chapter." Through Spirit's continued involvement, Lewis is inspired to ask normal, everyday people to answer Spirit's question: what is the meaning of life?

No Experts Needed: The Meaning of Life According to You! weaves through a vast collection of spontaneous, thought-provoking answers and inspirational stories that demonstrate how the simple act of listening to Spirit can add meaning to every moment of your life.

About the author:

Louise has two decades of experience in marketing and advertising, having held senior-level positions on the client, advertising agency, and ad sales sides of the business.

She considers herself a self-growth junkie, continuing to seek light, love, and wisdom in her daily life.

With an innate passion for spiritual growth, she has a strong desire to give back to the world. Along with the inspiration and direction received from Spirit, Louise continues to touch the lives of all she meets.

She volunteers at Children’s Hospital of Orange County.

Louise earned a bachelor’s degree in Communications at California State University in Fullerton. Born and raised in Louisiana, she resides in Southern California.

To learn more visit


The NO EXPERTS NEEDED VIRTUAL BLOG TOUR '09 will officially begin on January 5 and end on January 30. You can visit Louise's blog stops at in January to find out more about this talented lady!

As a special promotion for all our authors, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour to a published author or a $50 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors' blog stops. More prizes will be announced by Pump Up Your Book Promotion as they become available.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Meet Beverly Stowe McClure's Rebel in Blue Jeans

Today we're going to learn more about Rebel Ferguson from Beverly Stowe McClure's Rebel in Blue Jeans. We reviewed this title here.

For whatever reason, whenever I read the title of this book out loud, I automatically think of the song Forever in Blue Jeans by Neil Diamond. Whoops, I just showed my age there. LOL! I hope you enjoy learning more about Rebel as much as I enjoyed reading her story.

You can find Beverly online at and you can visit Rebel's blog at

Name: Rebel Ferguson
Age: 16
Born: Whispering Springs, TX
Loves: Most animals and her friends
Hates: Snakes and drummers in rock bands
Dreams: Long term: To be a veterinarian
Immediate: Get her parents back together

Favorite things to do: Ride her mare, Sunrise, swim, shop with her friend, Josie, and play with her puppies and cat. She also rehabilitates wildlife and loves to tease the Garret boys.

Rebel, the only child of Liz and Phillip Ferguson, has the perfect life: a beautiful home in the country, a mother and father who adore her, friends who support her, and a menagerie of animals she loves. Then one spring morning, her mother walks out of Rebel’s life and her world will never be the same.

To add to Rebel’s family troubles, her friendly relationship with the Garret cousins on the neighboring ranch changes from an easy friendship to a serious perhaps-I’d-like-to-date you relationship. If that isn’t enough to deal with, a handsome college guy with a bad reputation takes an interest in her.

Rebel in Blue Jeans tells the story of how Rebel faces each challenge with courage and sometimes a touch of humor as she decides to do three things: One, bring her mother home where she belongs. Two, show Will and Sully Garret she isn’t interested in a serious relationship with either of them. Three, prove to the Garrets, and herself, that Rick, the cute college guy, is a gentleman. Along the way she discovers that people are not always what they seem.

You'll find an excerpt from the book here.

You can order Rebel in Blue Jeans at


The REBEL IN BLUE JEANS VIRTUAL BLOG TOUR '09 will officially begin on January 5 and end on January 30. You can visit Beverly's blog stops at in January to find out more about this great book and talented author!

As a special promotion for all our authors, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour to a published author or a $50 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors' blog stops. More prizes will be announced as they become available.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

How Obama Won by Earl Ofari Hutchinson--Book Review

On January 20th, the world will witness an historic event--the inauguration of Barack Obama. If you seek to learn more about how Barak Obama inspired a nation and captured the White House, you need to look no further than the engaging and fair, How Obama Won by Earl Ofari Hutchinson.

A leading political analyst and social commentator, Hutchinson follows up his last two titles, How the GOP Can Keep the White House, How the Democrats Can Take it Back and The Ethnic Presidency: How Race Decides the Race to the White House, with an exploration into Obama's campaign from start to finish: what he did, what he didn't do, and what challenges he faced.

Americans' desire for change--something that Hilliary Clinton as an insider couldn't provide, how important or unimportant race would be in the 2008 Election, the state of the economy and the Wall Street Crisis of September 2008, Sarah Palin, and other issues that floated around from the day that Obama announced his intentions to seek the Democratic nomination, are put under a fair and balanced light to illuminate for the reader the elements that came into play and the decisions that were made to help catapult Barak Obama to the highest position in the land.

Conservatives, liberals and everyone in between will appreciate Hutchinson's writing style that allows even someone who does not regularly follow politics to understand his opinions, and yet, How Obama Won contains the right type of information to attract readers who have a working knowledge of the American political landscape. I can see this book being blogged about for months to come as polticial anaylsts dissect every facet of Obama's campaign strategy and continue to follow Obama's presidency.

While some readers may not agree with Hutchinson's assessment of Barack Obama as a "moderate centrist Democrat" and the author's comments about the Bush Administration, Hutchinson does an excellent job of showing how dissatisfaction with the current Administration played a huge role in Obama's win.

How Obama Won by Earl Ofari Hutchinson will not only be enjoyed by adults with an interest in politics, it would make superb high school and college reading material for social studies and current events classes of all kinds.

Title: How Obama Won
Autor: Earl Ofari Hutchinson
Publisher: BookSurge Publishing
ISBN-10: 143921929X
ISBN-13: 978-1439219294
SRP: $13.95 (U.S. Paperback) $9.95 (U.S. eBook)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Vivian Eisenecher Finds the Road to Recovery in Recovering Me, Discovering Joy

Today's guest blogger Vivian Eisenecher, author of Recovering Me, Discovering Joy/Uplifting Wisdom for Everyday Greatness.

About the Author:

Author of Recovering Me, Discovering Joy / Uplifting Wisdom for Everyday Greatness, Vivian Eisenecher has been an inspirational speaker, mentor and writer since 1996. Using her experience, strength and hope, she is committed to helping educate and enlighten the general public about the puzzling aspects of the addiction/recovery process and the strong correlation between anxiety, depression and alcoholism. Vivian holds a marketing degree in Business Administration (magna cum laude). Her other published works include articles for The Chicken Soup for the Soul series, Woman’s World, Viewpoint, and JUST FINE: Unmasking Depression and Anxiety Disorders (due out in 2009). She is featured on the 2009 Faces of Recovery Calendar and is a Board of Director for A New Path (Parents for Addiction Treatment and Healing). You can visit Vivian Eisenecher's website at:

How I Found the Road to Recovery
By Vivian Eisenecher

People ask all the time, “If the drink or drug is ruining somebody’s life, why doesn’t the addict or alcoholic simply put the drink (or drug) down?” For years and years, families, loved ones, medical professionals and society in general have repeatedly asked this question. In Recovering Me, Discovering Joy, I have an answer for the “why” of addiction. I can only speak for myself but in so doing I know that I speak for others unwilling (understandably) or unable (completely understandable) to come forward with their story.

Crazy as it seems, I didn’t like the way I felt when I was sober. That’s why I drank. Imagine that! I could not recover from alcoholism until my social anxiety and dysthymia (a chronic low-grade depression) were successfully treated. These two disorders drove my alcoholism. They were “why” I drank. The biggest problem for me was that they were never diagnosed. The miraculous thing is that they were finally and simultaneously treated only after I could (or would not) stay sober and the treatment center was throwing every available tool into the mix to treat my alcoholism. It was serendipitous because what was thrown at my alcoholism worked wonders for my anxiety and depression. The tool that has kept me sober to this day is the successful treatment of my social phobia and dysthymia. After numerous tries at sobriety and numerous relapses, my shrink threw his hands in the air and said, “Let’s try an antidepressant.” I knew sitting in his office right then that this would be a life-changing event for me. And it was.

It took awhile after anti-depressants were introduced for medical professionals and the public to understand their wide spread implications (and effectiveness) to relieve a number of different ailments. I know, I know there is so much negativity and so much derogatory information being disseminated in the media about anti-depressants. But rarely has the incredible stories of transformed lives ever been talked about! To share my profound story of hope is one of the main reasons I wrote Recovering Me, Discovering Joy. I am passionate about spreading how I found successful recovery.

My life has been transformed by the miracle of modern day medicine. The serotonin levels needed to be corrected in my brain. That’s it! Just like those people prone to high blood pressure take medications to keep from having a heart attack or stroke, I take medication to keep from losing my life to alcohol. Drinking again would be a death sentence for me for sure.

To reduce the incidence of substance abuse, we must continue to look at the underlying factors that fuel it. And by so doing, we will not only help prevent drug and alcohol addiction but we will improve the quality of life for so many. Please read Recovering Me, Discovering Joy for fresh insights into the ongoing societal battle against substance abuse and for an inspiring tale of redemption. You, too, can recover. In Recovering Me, Discovering Joy I show you how. God bless you and yours…

About the Book:

Recovering Me, Discovering Joy reveals how to recover (from any ailment or condition) not to normal but to a better normal. After numerous attempts at sobriety, stints in more than three rehabs, followed by repeated relapses, Vivian shares the “secret” that finally brought her lasting recovery and profoundly changed her life. In an effort to improve the success rate of recovery and quite possibly save lives, one of the book’s main goals is to raise awareness about the profound correlation between depression, social anxiety, and alcoholism. Vivian has struggled with these disorders and is in recovery from all three.

In addition, Recovering Me, Discovering Joy is a remarkably honest book of creative non-fiction about the positive nature of life’s problems. It is about the journey to know oneself. With a sense of humor and an uplifting spirit of gratitude, Vivian suggests ways to live a more meaningful life. She offers a fresh look at enduring truths which we all tend to forget in our day-to-day fast-paced lives. By using stories from people in recovery, famous quotes and personal reflections, she re-establishes the importance of faith in the healing process. Her experience, strength and hope provide the reader with keys to living a richer, easier and happier life.


The RECOVERING ME, DISCOVERING JOY VIRTUAL BLOG TOUR '09 will officially begin on January 5 and end on January 30. You can visit Vivian's blog stops at in January to find out more about this talented lady!

As a special promotion for all our authors, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour to a published author or a $50 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors' blog stops. More prizes will be announced as they become available. One winner will be announced by Pump Up Your Book Promotion at the end of each month.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Sandi Kahn Shelton and Kissing Games of the World

Today's guest blogger is Sandi Kahn Shelton, author of Kissing Games of the World. Sandi is the author of three novels, all contemporary novels about relationships and family, including What Comes After Crazy, A Piece of Normal, and the latest, Kissing Games of the World. She’s also the author of three nonfiction humor books about parenting, and is a feature reporter for the New Haven Register. For years she wrote the “Wit’s End” column for Working Mother magazine, and she has been a contributor to Redbook, Salon, Reader’s Digest, and Woman’s Day.

You can visit her website at,and her blog at

Thank you so much for inviting me to come and write a guest post on your wonderful blog! It’s lovely to be here.

I love writing about quirky relationships. Most of my novels are about the ways in which families matter to us—and how sometimes we have to go out and find and create the families we need, if the ones we have aren’t doing the trick. My protagonists are often funny, edgy women who have been disappointed by love in the past, and who (like me and my friends) are mainly trying to make the best of things and just get their lives to settle down some. Oh, yeah, and they’d like to find a guy to love, too, but that’s not the main thing they’re looking for. In my books, a guy often shows up—but I’d leave it kind of up in the air whether he was going to be The One.

But when I set out to write Kissing Games of the World, I knew I wanted to make the story a real, genuine (gasp) LOVE STORY. Now I was a little embarrassed about this, you understand. I wasn’t sure I could pull it off, actually. You know, when you start writing about all that love stuff and romance and kissing and I-love-you-more-than-you-love-me-no-you-don’t-oh-yes-I-do stuff…well, I didn’t see how I could type and still keep my self-respect. (Thinking about it now, maybe I was teased too much as a kid if I had a boy I was interested in. I was used to people falling over themselves, guffawing, if I tried to talk about love feelings.)

So when the main character, Jamie McClintock, showed up and started talking to me, she wasn’t one bit interested in falling in love…which, call me crazy, I did not see as a HUGE impediment to her being in this love story I was writing. She was an artist and a single mother disappointed by love, and she was raising her little boy who had asthma, and that was the main thing on her mind: doing her art and making ends meet, and also keeping enough inhalers within easy reach so that Arley (that’s the little boy) wouldn’t die. She shared a house with an elderly man, the former town rascal and womanizer who was now tamed and raising his grandson, and everything was just fine by her. But—well, in fiction, you have to give people troubles, so I knew I needed to have the old guy drop dead (mean of me, I know) and then have his son Nate–a son he’d talked bad about to Jamie—come back with the plan to sell the house, toss Jamie and her kid on the street, and take his little boy and leave town.

Only I knew that he and Jamie were going to have to fall in love.

The trouble was, I could not figure out how to get them to like each other! Jamie was all prickly and worried and untrusting, plus she was grieving for the loss of her friend and very sad about the idea of losing the little boy, the old man’s grandson whom she’d come to love. And Nate was a salesman who has had his heart broken by his father’s abandonment of him as a child. Plus, he’d lost his wife four days after the baby was born, and after a lifetime of disappointments, he’d finally found something he was good at: travelling the world selling communications systems. And now he had to come back to the small town where he grew up and accept the fact that his dad is gone and that he now had to figure out how to be a father to his sad little boy, who kind of hates him.

It was a puzzlement how to get this to work. I walked around for weeks with a frown on my face, wondering how (or if) these two particular characters were going to be talked in to doing what I intended for them.

But it was a delightful challenge just the same. Whereas usually in my books, the main woman character tells me the whole story, almost like she’s dictating it in my ear, in this book, Nate DEMANDED to tell his part, too. So I had both these characters giving me alternating chapters, and their voices couldn’t have been more different. Nate was exciting, cynical, sexy, over-confident about his ability to be a parent and yet at the same time, scared out of his mind. Jamie was stubborn, serious, and also scared out of her mind. The two of them fought passionately about everything. They even kept me up nights with all this back-and-forth.

But I honestly did not know if I was going to be able to pull off getting them to get together. And when you’ve set out to write a love story, you certainly don’t want the reader to be rooting for the two of them to NOT get together. I’ve read books or seen movies in which I’ve thought, “Oh, NOOO! These people have to break up FAST. It’s all wrong, and someone needs to step in and stop this!”

I don’t want to give away everything about how it worked out, but I’ve been pleased when reviewers have said that this book goes deeper than a typical romance, and that it has twists and turns that make you feel that they earn the ending they come up with.

Because, honestly, I didn’t push them to fall in love. I feel as though they took care of that all on their own. And I couldn’t have been more relieved when the best-selling author Patricia Gaffney said in her endorsement of the book, that Kissing Games of the World is the “funny, genuinely touching story of two incomplete people finding the rest of themselves in each other.”


The KISSING GAMES OF THE WORLD VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '09 will officially begin on January 1 and end on January 30. You can visit Linda's blog stops at in January to find out more about this talented lady!

As a special promotion for all our authors, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour to a published author or a $50 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors' blog stops. More prizes will be announced as they become available. One winner will be chosen by Pump Up Your Book Promotion each month.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Dos and Don'ts of Virtual Book Tours

Social media consultant Angela Wilson interviewed me recently on the topic of virtual book tours. The virtual book tour is a relatively new online promotional tool for authors. You can read The Dos and Don'ts of Virtual Book Tours at Angela's Market My Novel blog.

One thing that I didn't address in this article is the advantage of being a tour host. If you are a blogger who would like to draw more traffic to your blog, hosting virtual book tours might be the way to go. You can email me if you're interested in talking about it.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Loveology University's Search for the World's Best Lover Contest

Love Guru Dr. Ava Cadell, founder of, invites romantics to submit a FREE entry listing why their lover is the best. They will receive a FREE certificate for their partner attesting to this loving tribute. This is a perfect Valentine's gift at no cost. Each person who submits an entry will also receive a FREE copy of the ebook 52 Sizzling Sex Secrets. Deadline for submissions is February 7th, 2009. The winner will be announced on Valentine's Day and they will win a $2000 scholarship for Loveology University or $1000 cash.

Dr. Ava's latest book is titled, The Loveologist Guide to Tantra. This workbook is for couples, singles who date online, anyone who want to develop a solid loving relationship, people who want better sex lives, life coaches who want to become love coaches, nurses, students, massage therapists, counselors and newlyweds.

Below you'll find another article by Dr. Ava. You can find more of her articles and books if you visit the Loveology University website at

Sex Is Good For Your Health by Dr. Ava Cadell

“Sex with someone you love is the best prescription for good health. It keeps you young, keeps your sexual organs in good working order, and it boosts your self-confidence. Nothing else stimulates all the senses quite like sex. It just puts a glow on you that no other activity does.” - Dr. Ava Cadell

I believe that regularly occurring and frequent sex will produce certain emotional and physical health benefits. It’s long been established that there are myriad of health benefits related to sexual activity. This awareness has been recorded in our culture for centuries in the form of old wives tales such as “Use it, or lose it.” Just as if you don’t use your common household appliances regularly, they’ll also become rusty and break down.

A consistently active sex life can be directly beneficial for the cardiovascular system, particularly for men. The increase in heart rate is directly beneficial to the circulation, and can reduce the likelihood of a heart attack. The British Medical Journal published an article in 1997 that reported that men who had the highest number of orgasms had a better quality of life and lived the longest.

Sexual activity can also regulate and exercise the respiratory organs. In short, that heavy breathing with someone you love is healthy. Sex benefits neck and back muscles which increases blood flow to the brain and can alleviate certain types of headache…so, the next time your partner says, “I’ve got a headache, ” you can say, “Good, let’s make love and get rid of it.”

In the post-coital phase of sex, the relaxation of muscles can even alleviate insomnia. The release of tension can lead to a deeper, quicker sleep.

Believe it or not, sex can work as a laxative, toning and controlling the lower abdominal muscles.

Sex as pain medication may sound far fetched, but consider this: Just before the point of no return, high levels of oxytocin flood the body and release endorphins that relieve pain. Sexual activity can also help to relieve menstrual cramps by providing a natural decongestion.

No more flu or pesky colds is a good reason to have sex at least once or twice a week. That’s what research showed at Wilkes University in Pennsylvania. They discovered that people who had regular sex had 30% higher levels of immunoglobulin A, an antibody which boosts the immune system.

If you think you’re overweight, there’s no better way to lose it than with increased sexual activity. It not only burns calories, but can also help turn fat into muscle more quickly than any other forms of exercise. Sex will burn a significant amount of calories but over eating will still cause weight gain. The most concise research shows that the act of sexual intercourse burns of about 200 calories, which is equal to running on a treadmill for half an hour.

Having sex keeps your organs healthy. Just as exercising the other muscles of your body contributes to your well being, sexual activity contributes to the flow of blood to your organs and helps to keep everything in good working condition from top to bottom.

There are also many wonderful psychological benefits. Sexual activity releases pleasure endorphins from the brain, which flood the body and literally de-stress it.

Sex can be an effective anti-depressant because it releases feel-good neurotransmitters from the brain called Dopamine. The physical and emotional aspect of sex can work together in improving self-esteem and adds to a sense of confidence.

Sex can help to get those creative juices flowing. Since sexual fulfillment also involves your brain, it can improve a variety of mental functions, including your concentration. Sex can make the mind more active and an imaginative approach to sex can not only spice up your love life, but it can create that wonderful feeling of sexual anticipation.

One of the most important psychological benefits of an active sex life is that it can reduce anxiety. The sedative effect of sexual activity is conducive to fighting the effects of daily tension. The emotional fulfillment that comes from an intimate sexual encounter results in the relaxation of your muscles in your brain.

Sex can improve your sense of smell because after lovemaking, prolactin, a hormone, flows to the brain and develops new neurons in the olfactory bulb, which is the brain's smell center.

The unique sense of intimate connection with the person you love cannot be duplicated by any other activity. Nothing else stimulates all the senses quite like sex.

There has been an enormous amount of research in the field of psychology focusing on the relationship between sexuality and mental health. Recent medical discoveries by the American Heart Association have confirmed the physical benefits of an active sex life. The American Association of Urologists and significant medical school studies at the University of California and Indiana, just to name two, have documented studies about the health aspects of an active sex life. Forbes magazine did a cover story on why sex is good for your health in 2003 with statistics from major universities and medical journals.

Let’s face it, sex is really an integral part of a healthy life and can help you emotionally, psychologically, and physically. In summation, sex is good for you health in terms of the cardiovascular system, respiratory system, menstrual cramps, acts as a laxative, burns calories, keeps your organs healthy, acts as an anti-depressant, a mild sedative, can stimulate creativity, concentration, reduce stress,…and it feels great!

Friday, January 9, 2009

When Good Intentions Go Astray--Looking at the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008

Children's author, Elysabeth Eldering--whose State of Wilderness, Book 1 of the Junior Geography Detective Squad series we reviewed here--turned me on to information regarding the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) that President Bush signed into law in August 2008.

Publisher's Weekly has written an article about the negative impact to the children's book industry that compliance with this law will ultimately bring.

CPSIA can only be described as a law where good intentions have gone astray. Instead of targeting the true culprits--toy manufacturers whose products manufactured overseas have been recalled due to lead content and small parts unsafe for children--this ill-written law will cover "all consumer products intended for use by children 12 and under. That includes books, audiobooks and sidelines, no matter where they are manufactured, even though most books have lead levels that are well below the Act’s most stringent safety standards."

According to the Publisher's Weekly article, "The CPSIA dictates that each children’s book SKU, shipped to retailers, catalogues and e-commerce sites as of February 10 must have been tested by a third-party lab to ensure that lead levels are below 600 parts per million. (Acceptable levels drop to 300 ppm in August and 100 ppm in 2011.) Some books also must be tested for phthalates, an acid used to soften plastic. The importer or domestic manufacturer must provide a Certificate of Conformity (usually posted on the Internet), and the product must be labeled appropriately. Older products on shelf must fall within acceptable safety standards but do not need to be accompanied by a Certificate, according to recent comments by the Consumer Products Safety Commission."

This translates into a huge additional cost for publishers; and if we think the book industry has seen a lull in this tough economy, just wait until February 10, 2009 when all these products are required to be tested.

Vivian Zabel of 4RV Publishing has provided the names and address of committee and subcommittee leaders on her Brain Cells & Bubble Wrap blog. These leaders have the ability to call for hearings on the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 and advance critical legislation to resolve some of the issues.

Please consider writing letters to these four men to express your concerns about the CPSIA as it is currently written.

Don't let good intentions gone astray squelch the dreams of aspiring children's authors. Don't let an ill-written law put small publishers out of business. Write your letter today!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Dr. Ava and The Loveologist Guide to Tantra

Love Guru, Media Therapist, Author and World Speaker, Dr. Ava is an accomplished author of seven books. When TV shows want ratings, they call Dr. Ava who has appeared on numerous national shows including Good Morning America, Extra, Montel, Geraldo, Anderson Cooper 360, Scarborough County, Fox News Live and a variety of shows for MTV, VH1, Discovery, Lifetime, TLC, ‘E’ and A & E.

Dr. Ava has a doctorate in human behavior from Newport University, CA and a doctorate of education in human sexuality from the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco. She is also a certified hypnotherapist, certified AASECT Sex Counselor, Continuing Education Provider for the CA Board of Behavioral Sciences and CA Board of Nursing.

Through her private practice in LA, she counsels people on personal issues that range from anger management, fear of intimacy, communication problems, performance anxiety, infidelity, love and sex addiction, lack of desire, power struggles, and parental concerns.

Her new workbook, The Loveologist Guide to Tantra is for couples, singles who date online, anyone who want to develop a solid loving relationship, people who want better sex lives, life coaches who want to become love coaches, nurses, students, massage therapists, counselors and newlyweds.

You can find out more about Dr. Ava and Loveology University at

Below you'll find Dr. Ava’s 10 Powerful Principles for a Lasting Relationship


Communicate your needs positively & politely.


Share your contentment and gratitude for what you have together.


Collaborate together to form a stronger bond and create lasting memories.


Compliments are the bedrock of romance so give them daily.


Find as many ways as you can to contribute to each other's lives.


Forgive mistakes; have the courage to say “I’m sorry” first.


Always be kind and considerate of your partner’s feelings.


Show curiosity in your partner’s daily life, goals, and dreams.


Build trust by reviewing and renewing your commitment together


Celebrate your love and life by laughing every day.

Personal Experience Inspires Jerry Pollock to Pen Debut Novel

Today's special guest is author Jerry Pollock. Jerry has written Messiah Interviews: Belonging to God. In this book, the protagonist must satisfy his biblical interviewers―the angel Gabriel, Methuselah, Chanoch, Seth, King David, Moses, Jacob, Abraham, and the prophet Isaiah―and prove that he has the wisdom and character to be the Messiah. As the tale unfolds, the challenges of the interviews go beyond the protagonist and become relevant to the lives of each one of us.

You can view a video trailer for Messiah Interviews: Belonging to God here.

I asked Jerry how he came up with the idea for this "not so fictional" novel. Here's what he had to say:

It’s difficult to tell you how I came up with the idea for the writing of the Messiah Interviews without some background information. So here goes:

Most people acquire their faith and belief in God without Divine Providence. I acquired mine after I was blessed with Divine miracles. When I wrote and published the first edition of my spiritual memoir, Divinely Inspired: Spiritual Awakening of a Soul in 2003, I wasn’t able to determine why I was so blessed by the Creator. By the time I published Messiah Interviews: Belonging to God in January of 2009 along with the Second Edition of Divinely Inspired, I knew. The secret lies in my spiritual ‘not so fictional’ novel, the Messiah Interviews but I won’t tell you. That’s what secrets are meant to be, and besides, secrets are more fun when you discover them for yourself.

When I wrote Divinely Inspired, I was motivated by my own self interests, although not entirely. The memoir also offered a way to give back to my Creator for what he has given me. The book, therefore, highlights an old message of the affirmation of the recognition of God’s presence in our world. What remains is for God to come out of the shadows into the daylight and reveal Himself openly and publicly as He did with the giving of the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai some thirty-three hundred years ago. Divinely Inspired was also written for the forgotten members of our society, the mentally ill whose lives have been stolen from them like a tree stump steals the life of a tree. I will always be a Bipolar just like I will always be a scientist. However, I have moved on with my life because of the Divine help given to me by the Creator. In fact it’s been twelve years since my last manic depressive episode. It feels like I have kicked out Bipolar Disorder out of my body, as it is not welcome inside of me anymore.

In 1982, I twice heard God’s Voice in my winterized summer cottage near Stony Brook University on Long Island where I was Professor of Oral Biology & Pathology in the School of Dental Medicine. In 1982, there was no Bipolar Disorder. It wasn’t until ten years later that I had my first manic depressive episode. It wasn’t really fun as I not only was manic but I was psychotic. I heard voices, had hallucinations, and played chess in my disturbed mind with Saddam Hussein during the Gulf War. I guess you could consider this humorous because I don’t play chess. I eventually came out of months of the clinical depression that followed the mania in this episode but neither antidepressants nor electroshock treatments helped. In fact the latter turned me into a blithering idiot.

It was in December 1994 that I had an acute mixed Bipolar episode. I fell into a severe clinical depression that lasted nine months. The clinical depression was accompanied by an unyielding agitation (from the manic side) that didn’t allow me to sit in one place for even seconds. The medical term is akathisia, but I don’t think that this term adequately describes the monster inside of me. As if this wasn’t enough, I also had an anxiety that felt like worms crawling in my chest. If you have never had severe or even moderate clinical depression, let me paint you a picture. Imagine that you are in a bubble. You can see out of the bubble and even hear sounds but there is no joy coming in. Ahedonia, a lack of joy, is the medical term to describe this most unpleasant condition. Now take away all sounds. You now are left with air molecules surrounding the bubble , but the molecules of air give off subliminal sounds. In late 1994, my words were, “oh shit, I’m going into a depression.” By March of 1995, I had attempted suicide and just missed by a hairsbreadth of being dead. You might want to read Divinely Inspired to see how I survived. It’s quite a miraculous story. By September of 1995, I again came out of the depression for no apparent reason. I then just got better and better ditching all my Bipolar medications, which weren’t doing me any good anyway. I did this surreptitiously as my psychiatrist was not aware of my actions. In all of my four hospital stays, I dreaded the doors being shut locking me inside. I felt each time that my life as I knew it was over with and that I never was getting out. This was especially true of the 1994 episode.

And then more of God’s miracles. In December of 1998 and January of 1999, unusual events to say the least. Seeing names and photos of myself in the Florida sky including the word Ruth spelled out in cloud-like letters. Then more miracles in both New York and South Florida followed by spiritual rays of blue light. I was flying and my journey on the spiritual road began then essentially ten years ago. My first book that I read was from the Hebrew Bible and it was the Book of Ruth. For the next two years I read the bible and books on religion, the soul, anthropology, evolution and the origin of life. I became a student of the Torah, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible. I dabbled in the New Testament and the Qu’ran. I was ready to write Divinely Inspired, and I self-published my memoir in 2003.

You might have concluded that Divinely Inspired was written because of the miracles I experienced. And you would be correct. I also wrote an epilogue for the book, where I discussed Creation and Evolution and God as the master scientist responsible for both. The epilogue also gave me the opportunity to bring in the Ten Commandments and my own imperfections and sins. I never thought I would write a second book but I did. I wrote the Messiah Interviews in late 2007 early 2008 but for different reasons than Divinely Inspired.

Yes, I wanted to give back to my Creator even more, as I experienced further miracles that I write about in the Messiah Interviews. I had been growing spiritually and reading voraciously on anything that related to spirituality. I filled up about forty plus large notebooks with facts and my own interpretations of what especially was written about a Jewish Messiah and a Third Temple at the End of Days or in the End Times when the Messianic Age will commence. I realized that I could write a new book, Messiah Interviews, which contained unique knowledge not written anywhere else with the breadth and scope that I would be able to provide. I wanted a public forum of this knowledge that I could impart in a book to an interested reader. It became clear to me that I couldn’t write a nonfiction because I was dealing with topics that related to God’s world and not our human world. None of us understands God’s Essence, so we can only speculate. God just is.

I decided that the best venue was a fictional novel. But who would be the characters and how could I tie them into the Messianic Age? And how would I be able to tie in the diversity of knowledge that I wished to discuss? And then it came to me. I remembered reading about the Seven Shepherds or the Seven Princes that would assist the Messiah, Jewish or Christian (Jesus), at the End of Days. I felt that each of these seven men could question the main character in the book, whom they were interviewing to be the Messiah. The Seven Princes are Methuselah, Chanoch, Seth, King David, Moses, Jacob and Abraham. The interviews were to be rigorous and the bar was set at an impossible height. There was also to be a first interview with the angel Gabriel and a last interview with the Hebrew prophet Isaiah. The eight interviews were to take place in the Third Temple in Heaven and the last with Isaiah in the future Third Temple on earth.

I felt this was a wonderful opportunity since each interviewer brought with him to the table a whole host of topics to discuss. Gabriel would slant his conversations towards the relationship between man and angels, Methuselah would talk about aging, Chanoch about resurrection, Seth as Adam’s third son about the Divine and Animal Soul and good and evil, King David about Repentance, Moses about the Ten Commandments, Jacob about the Twelve Tribes and the Lost Tribes, Abraham about monotheism, and finally the riddles in the bible on who could be a Messiah with Isaiah who prophesied in flowery riddles. It is interesting that in all my reading, I’ve never seen anyone address the riddles. Of course there would have to be a vote in the end on approval or disapproval of the main character in the book. I’ll say no more so as not to spoil the book for interested readers.

I loved writing the book. I loved the characters and I loved the format of the Interviews. The Messiah Interviews would make a good stage play. If anyone has any contacts in the theatre, would you please let me know. I encourage you to go to our nonprofit website to learn more about our spiritual efforts and more about the books. Links are provided on the website and on the Blog for purchasing books. If anyone wishes to contact me, they can email me at I would be glad to speak to anyone who is a serious caller and is interested in a spiritual conversation. I know we live in awful economic times, so please also contact me so we can make some kind of arrangements for you to read the books. I’m in no position to give away free books but I will do my best to help out if you can’t afford a purchase. You can also email me at Might I suggest that you go to my blog (I’m just learning) on the website and click on the Inside Scoop Live radio show interview. Also check out the Reader Views Interview which discusses the relationship of Jesus as the Messiah and a Jewish Messiah descended from King David’s lineage among other interesting questions.

I promise you that the Messiah Interviews is a good read and worthwhile buying. You can then read the prequel, Divinely Inspired to see how it all began. Thank you to The Book Connection for this opportunity to share.

Jerry Pollock, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus
Stony Brook University
Website: or

Shechinah means Divine Presence. May the Shechinah be with you. Does this statement sound familiar? May the force be with you. It fits God.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Award-winning Documentary Producer/Director William Petrick Brings His Experience to The Five Lost Days

Today's guest blogger is Emmy Award-winning documentary producer/director William Petrick. Petrick has created documentaries for National Geographic, Discovery, MTV, Court TV and many other cable and broadcast networks. He is currently a senior producer with Bill Moyers Journal on PBS. You can find out more about his book, The Five Lost Days, by clicking here. This book is available at

In the article below, Petrick answers my question of how his experience helped him in writing The Five Lost Days. This novel tells the story of struggling documentary producer Michael Burns, who has traveled to the remote Maya Mountains of Belize to capture exclusive footage of the last surviving curandero. The traditional Mayan healer may hold the key to discovering new medicines among the vast, uncharted flora of the rain forest. But with a violent civil war spilling across the border from neighboring Guatemala - and Burns inexplicably drawn to the aging curandero's American apprentice - the filmmakers stumble into a more explosive story than they ever could have imagined.

"I don't think I could have written this novel--or wanted to--without the experience of working in documentaries. The best reporters and producers really want to get the story right when they travel to far-off places and conflicts. But, many times, there comes a time when the story you thought you were going to cover doesn't materialize and, suddenly, there you are in a JOB--someone's paying you to get a story and feed it to the media beast. At that moment, what's truth and what isn't can get blurry as can your own perceptions. The pressure to tell a story--any story--takes over with unforeseen consequences. It's not always bad, of course. Sometimes this professional panic can yield truth no one was expecting--especially the filmmaker.

As in many other professions and lines-of-work, there is also a very peculiar culture to the documentary and news business. I don't always like it but I am perpetually fascinated by the women and men who choose to do it for a living. They're in this novel in all their courage, insanity and just plain loopiness. When I think of a crew member, I think of the people on Burns' crew (the main character) who will do anything, risk anything to GET THAT SHOT. They're like bush pilots in the wilderness who risk all as a matter of routine."

You can read excerpts from The Five Lost Days here.

THE FIVE LOST DAYS VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on December 1 and end on January 30. You can visit William's blog stops at in December and January to find out where he is appearing!

As a special promotion for all our authors, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour to a published author or a $50 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors' blog stops. More prizes will be announced as they become available. The winner will be announced by Pump Up Your Book Promotion at the end of every month!