Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Love Fool: A Rome-antic Comedy by Lorenzo Petruzziello

Synopsis - 

Set in Rome. Follow the whirlwind antics of a publicist as he struggles to manage his first TV chef client, his new life, and an unexpected visit from his ex-girlfriend.

Alex recently moved to Italy for an opportunity at a PR firm in Rome. His first client is the beautiful Danish chef Pernille Bjørn, a popular model, TV personality, and cookbook author just entering the booming televised cooking show market in Italy.

Alex's single-minded career focus is soon thwarted by Emily, an ex-girlfriend he hasn't heard from in almost a decade.

​Italy's modern culture and enchanting sights set the backdrop to this Rome-antic comedy.

Buy the Book: Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Indiebound ~ Chapters Indigo ~ Amazon.ca ~ Add to Goodreads

Interview - 

You came to writing at a later age, after earning an MBA and working in the field of PR/Marketing. What was your journey from that career to writing and publishing your first book?

Well, to start, I never thought I would be a writer of a whole book. I’ve written press releases, promotional scripts, and web content, but never had to really write a long form piece – other than at university. I’ve always had ideas for stories, but I never really gave myself the push to actually write them. I’ve taken notes, jotted ideas down, and daydreamed about stories, but never took the opportunity to write any of them. Maybe it was time – finding the time to write is very difficult. 

It wasn’t’ until I moved to Rome temporarily in 2011, that I had that time. I was working freelance blogging about food in Rome, which forced me to walk around and explore the city well. But the gig was part time – and finding a full time gig was difficult - so I had a lot of free time to explore. But I wanted something to give my time in Rome a purpose. One morning I woke up and thought – I should write and see if I can write a book. I started and immediately the story just flew out of me. But without that time, I don’t think I would have written THE LOVE FOOL.

Where did the inspiration for THE LOVE FOOL come from? For the characters who make this story come alive?

The city of Rome itself had a lot to do with the inspiration for THE LOVE FOOL. I walked around the city and got to know her well. I fell even more deeply in love with her. Immediately, I knew I would set my story there – and not just make Rome the setting. I wanted to make the city a part of the story itself. My story was influenced by Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, I wanted a celebrity. In the film the celebrity was a Swedish movie star, but in THE LOVE FOOL, I kept her Scandinavian, but instead of a movie star I made Pernille a model TV chef – because it seemed to be the popular thing. Pernille’s work forced Alex to have a similar profession to my past – pr/marketing for cooking and travel shows in USA – because it was what I knew and thought it would be interesting. The romantic and not so romantic part of the story… well, that’s just my Italian passion on display.

What research did you need to do to make sure the details were accurate?

Fortunately, my part-time gig – writing about foods of Rome – required me to bop around the city, meet locals, and taste the delicacies. A very daunting task as you can imagine – joking. But this is what helped me really put Rome inside THE LOVE FOOL.

How does the writing process work for you? Do you schedule a time every day, work madly when inspiration hits or ?

Writing is very tough. Especially when working full time. But I come up with ideas usually when I’m commuting to work and back. I have to repeat the ideas over and over until I get to my destination and type them out. If I can write them down in between, I do. And I found that listening to music helps me to write. So, when I’m home on weekends and inspired to write – because you have to be inspired – I put on some music and type away.

What did you enjoy about writing process? What felt like a chore?

Letting all the ideas out and letting them flow. I just write whatever comes to mind and worry about editing later. I know the first attempts are crap, so I don’t bother with how bad it is. I just let it out and then go back to it all later to edit or adjust. It’s not a chore – otherwise what is the point? I write because I enjoy it. If it were to become a chore, then I worry it would reflect in the writing and the story I try to tell.

What would you most like readers to know about you?

I’m a bilingual Italian-American born and raised in the USA and spent my summers in Southern Italy. I love to travel. I go to Europe once a year – mostly Italy. My travels inspire my writing and I blog about it on my website magnusmade.com. When I need a mental break from writing, I enjoy cooking and baking.

Do you have ideas rolling around for a new storyline or perhaps a second book in progress?

Writing THE LOVE FOOL was a challenge to myself to see if I could actually write a whole book. It feels awesome to see that I achieved that! I want to challenge myself again with another book, but kick up the challenge by switching genre. I’m attempting to write a noir-style story – we’ll see what this new story will end up becoming, but noir is the goal for now.

Any advice you can offer to others who are working full-time, but still dream of writing a book?

I want to reiterate a couple that I’ve mentioned and a couple more. 
  1. Time is important. Set aside that time. Uninterrupted time. Even if you’re not inspired to write. Just make the time to let your mind relax, and eventually ideas will come. 
  2. Write anything. Just write it. It doesn’t matter if it’s bad, just get it out. You may not like it, but you never know if you’ll look at it later and that crap you wrote may end up inspiring you with something more. Just write. 
  3. Repeat. When you think of scenes, just keep repeating that scene in your mind over and over. Eventually new details and new ideas pop up.
  4. Don’t give up.
Meet the Author - 

Lorenzo Petruzziello holds an MBA in global marketing from Suffolk University in Boston, Massachusetts. His background includes publicity and marketing for many of public television’s popular cooking and travel shows. He lives in Massachusetts focusing on his writing. THE LOVE FOOL is his first novel.

Connect with Lorenzo: Website ~ Blog ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram

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Saturday, August 11, 2018

Interview With William R. Leibowitz, Author of Miracle Man and The Austin Paradox

Can you share a bit about your journey to becoming a writer/published author? Looking back were there any early signs you would become a fiction writer?

I can’t say that there were any early signs that I would become a fiction writer--but I was always the person at the dinner table that entertained everyone with stories—so maybe it was there and I didn’t realize it.

Where did the inspiration for Miracle Man and The Austin Paradox come from? For the main characters that make this story come alive?

I wanted to create a believable modern day ‘superhero’ who was not a comic-book character and who had no interest in being a celebrity. I thought that such a person could be inspirational when contrasted with the meritless celebrities that dominate media today (e.g., the reality TV stars who are famous for being famous, but have no real talent). I wanted my protagonist, Robert James Austin, to be an alternative to the cult of celebrity that dominates our society.

I also wanted Miracle Man and The Austin Paradox to be vehicles within which I could convey, in an entertainment context, certain spiritual and humanistic messages that mean a great deal to me. One of the underlying themes in these books is the sanctity of each and every human life. As the story of Robert James Austin unfolds, I think the reader will understand that one can never predict the ramifications of one person’s death. Austin should have died as a newborn, but he was saved in the most unlikely of manners; he then went on to change the world in extraordinary ways. His life was not expendable. 

We all are bombarded every day by statistics of death –how many people died in the latest war, or from famine, or epidemic or other manmade or natural cataclysm. People’s lives are jumbled together by the media as meaningless numbers. But what I want the reader of my books to think about ---is the individual. The unknown and undiscovered Robert James Austins in the world. Has anyone ever thought how likely it is that the person who would have cured cancer was killed in a Concentration Camp? That’s why Miracle Man begins with the quotation from Scriptures – “To destroy one life is to destroy an entire world, and to save one life is to save an entire world.”

Review HERE!
Were the two books conceived as a series from the beginning or did the inspiration for the second come after the first was finished.
About halfway through writing the first book – Miracle Man – I realized that it would take more than one book for the full story of Robert James Austin to be told. At that point, I decided that there would be three books in the series. The Austin Paradox is the second.

How does the writing process work for you? Do you schedule a time every day, work madly when inspiration hits or ?
I try to be disciplined about writing on a regular schedule, but I find that the best time to write is when the muse summons—and then I can sit for hours writing without a break. I envy those authors who are “full-time” writers; unfortunately, I still have to spend most of my time on my “day gig” –i.e., being a lawyer.

As an author - what do you enjoy most about writing process? What feels like a chore? 

My favorite part of the writing process is coming up with the twists and turns in the plot. I work hard to avoid the obvious—and to create surprises for the reader so that at the end of each chapter –the reader is tempted to “read just one more”. What can feel like a chore sometimes (but not always) is the tremendous amount of research that I have to do so that my stories ring true and are plausible. This has required me to do extensive research for both Miracle Man and The Austin Paradox on such matters as: (1) the nature of human intelligence (particularly genius); (2) diseases, treatments, attempted cures—and the medical/scientific methodology relevant to formulating cures; (3) ways in which money is laundered internationally; and (4) bio-terrorism. I know that in order to really engage the reader—I have to be detail oriented and know what I’m talking about.

Review Coming Aug. 17th
There are many times in Miracle Man where the reader follows the thought processes of your main character - Robert James Austin - as he works to discover new approaches to the curing of an illness. What type of research did you need to do to bring a sense of hard logic reality to these musings?

I did hundreds of hours of research regarding the physical/genetic make-up of various diseases, the types of cures that were attempted but failed, what cures are in the planning stages, prevalent theories, etc. I knew that to make believable the “cures” that Robert James Austin was inventing ---I had to give the reader enough information so that the cures which I conjured up—seemed plausible. Ironically, I’ve received letters from MDs who have complimented me on the “cures” I invented –and said things like, “I really like your autoimmune cure. Someone needs to check that out and see if it could possibly work.” Frankly – when I get letters like that, although I appreciate the compliment, I say to myself –“Oh no. We are really screwed if doctors like my ideas on curing diseases.”

Do you have any new books in the planning or writing stage?

Since I only recently finished writing “The Austin Paradox” –I’m taking a “breather” now, but in the back of my mind, I’m scoping out the third book in the series—which will be quite a departure from the first two.

Any advice for young authors wanting to write books in this genre?

My advice would be to first create a highly detailed plot outline—and take your time doing it. Within the plot –figure out how characters develop as the story progresses. Above all –don’t rush. Writing a good novel is not a race!

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

Miracle Man (Book 1 in the Miracle Man Series) by William R. Leibowitz

Miracle Man is the winner of a Best Thriller national award, and was named by Amazon as ONE OF THE TOP 100 NOVELS OF 2015, a TOP 10 BEST SELLING THRILLER and a TOP 10 NEW YORK TIMES/AMAZON BEST SELLER

Synopsis - 


​The victim of an unspeakable crime, an infant rises to become a new type of superhero. Unlike any that have come before him, he is not a fanciful creation of animators, he is real.

So begins the saga of Robert James Austin, the greatest genius in human history. But where did his extraordinary intelligence come from?

As agents of corporate greed vie with rabid anti-Western radicals to destroy him, an obsessive government leader launches a bizarre covert mission to exploit his intellect. Yet Austin’s greatest fear is not of this world.

Aided by two exceptional women, one of whom will become his unlikely lover, Austin struggles against abandonment and betrayal. But the forces that oppose him are more powerful than even he can understand.

Review - 

Miracle Man is the first in series of books listed under the categories of mystery, thriller and suspense, but it's much more. For me there is a touch of sci-fi in its "what if" look at the future.

What if a super intelligent child grows up to focus selflessly on solving the riddle of illnesses with only treatments and no cures.  What if he chooses to give away those cures away in a way that assures even the poorest of people would have access to them. Sounds like something the world would welcome - right? Unfortunately in Miracle Man the answer is no.

Robert James Austin - the genius trying to do just that - is plagued by the government men who made his accelerated education possible. They want him to use his intellect to give his country world superiority. Then there is the  pharmaceutical industry desperate to halt the new cures as their deep profits rest on treatments that have to be taken for long periods of time at the high prices they set. Cures would mean losing millions of life-long customers.

The author warms the story up by winding by bringing in personal notes such as a wonderful mentor and later, a love interest. We also feel the personal toll to Robert's health and mental well-being as he disappears down the rabbit hole when he is fully immersed in new research.  Then there is intrigue as we follow the government's dealings, as well as the danger he faces from a contract killer hired by a pharmaceutical czar.  But there is also a significant part of this book that follows his research thoughts - first as he is growing up and making new discoveries, and then as he approaches finding a cures. And this part of the book does take a bit of patience.

Despite those slower sections, I enjoyed reading this book. And the end, when it comes, will surprise you.

Buy the book: Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ iBooks ~ Kobo ~ Add to Goodreads

Meet the Author:
Fab Author Interview - HERE!

William R. Leibowitz practices law internationally and prefers not spending too much time in any one place. He is a graduate of New York University and Columbia University Law School.

​Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

Friday, August 10, 2018

Hamburger and Potato Hobo Dinner Foil Packets

Recipe and image from Spend With Pennies
I still have family living in the Midwest of the US and then post some of the more interesting cooking ideas I see.  This one has arisen a few times.  As we are having a rare hot week here, I have found myself loath to cook a hot meal.  However, if it can be cooked outside, then the house doesn't get heated up.

When the video from Spend With Pennies for their version of Hobo Foil Dinner Packets filled with hamburger, potato, onion and carrots popped up on my Facebook newsfeed again, I sat up.  They can be either baked in the oven or cooked outside on the grill. And you can change up the vegetables to something you have in your fridge already - for me that means green beans today. 

I suspect you need something that can stand up to cooking for 45 minutes, so carrots, green beans, golden beets, brussel sprouts and other sturdier vegetables would be a better choice than those that much easily like zucchini.

First I had to head out to the store to snag the 2 ingredients I was missing.  I really only took minutes to assemble, so the most time spent was simply my run to the store. I can't speak for the baked version as we cooked it on the grill outside, but it was good home food.  Nothing gourmet - just filling, tasty and super easy.

This time I chose to use the dry onion soup mix and the condensed soup. I have learned the hard way to try it their way the first time. The next time I make this, I may try to come up with my own made from scratch seasonings and sauce - a healthier version using less processed foods. 

Tried to get their video to appear here but couldn't so if you would like to see it go to https://www.facebook.com/ispendwithpennies/videos/hobo-foil-packets/1809958699020392/

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Hobo Dinner Foil Packets
4 packets/servings
For bigger eaters increase the meat and put 2 patties in each package

Ingredients - 

1 lb       Lean ground beef
1 pkg    Dry onion soup mix
4           Small potatoes peeled and sliced
2 C       Carrots chopped or sliced
1           Large onions, sliced (or 2 small)
2 T       Olive oil
1 tsp     Garlic powder
Salt & pepper to taste
1 can    Condensed mushroom soup

Instructions - 

Preheat oven to 375.

Combine ground beef and dry soup mix in a bowl. Form into four patties and set aside. In a large bowl combine all remaining ingredients except mushroom soup. Toss until well mixed.

Spray a 12″x18″ piece of foil with non-stick spray. Place 1/4 of the vegetable mixture in the center of the foil. Top with 1 beef patty. Add 2 tablespoons of condensed mushroom soup on top of each patty. Seal foil packets well. Place beef side up on a large baking sheet and bake 35-45 minutes or until potatoes and carrots are tender.

OR cook on preheated grill at medium heat for about 45 minutes or until potatoes are tender and ground beef reaches 160 degrees.

Friday, August 3, 2018

The Collision of Grief and Gratitude: A Pursuit of Sacred Light by Rosanne Liesveld - Review & Author Interview

Synopsis -

Day 209

"And so each day goes; the grief and the gratitude fighting for the bigger spot in my heart. The tug of war between these emotions exhausts me most days. If you see me in the grief mode, you'll think I'm a wreck. But if you see me in gratitude mode, you'll think I m doing well. Neither is 100 percent true. I am what I am most days, leaning toward finding more gratitude than grief as the days turn into weeks and the weeks into months."

After the unexpected death of her husband, Rosanne Liesveld felt a desperate need to communicate gratitude to those who helped her through the shock that death left in its wake. The day of Curt's funeral, Rosanne wrote a Facebook post expressing how, in the midst of profound grief, she found a space in her heart for gratitude. The next day, she wrote another post; then another.

Rosanne's daily posts throughout her first year of widowhood attracted hundreds to follow along on her journey. Her words inspired those who were not only grieving in some way, but those who wanted to build stronger relationships or live life with more intention and gratitude. It was messy. It was raw. And it was healing.

Rosanne's posts have been compiled into this 366-day journey and are accompanied by beautiful photos taken by Curt.

Buy the Book: Amazon  - Add to Goodreads

Author Interview - 

Please share a little bit about your career as a coach, teacher and speaker?

I've spent the last 32 years at Gallup as a strengths coach, and a teacher and speaker around the theory or strengths development. I love to coach people on their Clifton Strengths results so that they can aim their strengths at the outcomes that are important to them. I will be retiring soon from Gallup and anticipate doing similar work within my own business.  

Did you dream of writing from a young age?  Had your explored writing before this book?

That's an interesting question. The short answer is yes. My late husband and I wrote five-year goals shortly before he died and one of them was to co-author a book.   

I know your journey to writing The Collision of Grief and Gratitude began with a single Facebook post on the day of your husband Curt's funeral.  What led you to write that first post and what kept you writing a new post day after day for over a year?

Honestly, I had a second wave of grief that came over me when I realized how many people had done things for me during the days following his death and yet, I could hardly remember them all, much less know how to tell them how much I appreciated them. At the same time, my son encouraged me to look at both my husband’s and my Facebook pages to see how many notes of condolence and support had been posted from all over the world. Those two things spurred the idea that perhaps I should write an entry thanking people for their support. After a few days of thanking people, I realized what power there was in the gratitude I was feeling. So, I chose to not just look for people to thank, but for any moment of gratitude in each day, no matter how difficult that day had been.

How did you find something new to write about each day? Did you ever have days where you struggled to sit down at your computer and come up with a new thought to share?

Honestly, I didn't find it hard to come up with things to share. Because I was determined to be authentic, I simply poured out my heart about what was going on in that day, both practically and emotionally. I didn't ever plan what I would write. I would simply sit down, put my fingers on the keyboard and start to write.  As corny as it sounds, my heart just poured out on the keys. 

What brought you joy as you continued posting about your journey?  What did you find difficult to face along the way?

There was so much joy along the way. I often said that it was like having all this support every single day as I went through this horrible time of my life. There were times when I found it hard to express the reality of grief when I knew not everyone would want to read about it. However, I got to the point where I just needed to write.  My son often said it was easier for him to drop me off at my house at night after I had spent time with his family, because he knew I would have those Facebook friends to be with me at the end of the day.  

Can you please share a bit how your journey from writing daily posts to offering them in book format? (e.g. Where and when did the arise. What was the process like, etc.) 
I certainly never intended to make these posts into a book. I never intended to keep writing them for 366 days. I'm not sure I intended anything. It was totally something that happened without a plan, but clearly, became a part of my grief process. About half way into the writing, people started to suggest that I should keep the posts and put them into something permanent for others to read in the future. I had people close to me and people I didn't really know all that well reach out to me with compelling reasons for me to put the posts into a book. At the end, it was three different people who finally said things that really made me feel like it was something I needed to do.  One person said, "this was the book you were meant to write, even though you didn't know it," referring to the fact that Curt and I were planning to write a book. That was powerful to me.

You chose to include pictures in this book. How did you decide what pictures to use. Was it an emotional process to choose them?

 Yes, it was a very emotional process to choose them. (What a good question!!)  I am a very visual person and aesthetics are important to me. My husband was a great photographer, and I felt like it was a way to honor him. I used his photographs to introduce every month, but I also used other photographs to make the posts personal just as I had done originally on Facebook.  I debated about including pictures, as I knew it changed the tone of the book, but again, I wanted the book to remain true and authentic to the original nature of the posts and intention of my writing.

What do you most hope readers will take away from your book?

Oh, gosh, everything. I think most people think this book is for people going through grief, and of course, it is. But I hope it is a book that is an inspiration for people to just take their life to the next level. So many people that commented on the posts were simply inspired to invest more in their marriages, their faith, their families, their relationships and their lives in general.  That's why I now say the book is about living life with more intention and gratitude.

What is coming up for you in the next few years? Will you be writing other books, creating a workshop based on this one or? 

I am retiring soon and looking forward to having my own business where I can work with people on living that life with more intention, gratitude and with more of an eye on using their God-given strengths. I would love to write another book!  Stay tuned!  

Rosanne is available to chat with groups or book clubs either in person or via Zoom. Contact her at roseliesveld@gmail.com.

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Meet the Author -

After the unexpected death of her husband, Curt, Rosanne Liesveld went on a year-long quest to find a glimmer of gratitude each day. She posted her daily journey on Facebook. Those posts become her book, The Collision of Grief and Gratitude: A Pursuit of Sacred Light.

As a coach and teacher for more than thirty years with the Gallup Organization, Rosanne has helped people discover and lean into their strengths. She now speaks to groups about how to build stronger relationships, and live life with more intention and gratitude.

Connect with the author - Facebook

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Mexican Quinoa Salad

Recipe and Image from
Where I live in the Pacific Northwest, summers are generally not hot in the traditional way. We get sunshine and warm days in July and August in particular, but I wouldn't call them scorchers. 

This week - out of the blue - we're having what could be described as more traditional hot weather with the sun beating down. I was out riding transit, walking on concrete sidewalks and climbing broken up-escalators yesterday and came home sweating buckets. I almost immediately had to start cooking the hot meal I had planned.  That was the moment I realized I needed to pull out a few cool salads to take us through the next few days.

I have a lot of quinoa in my pantry now, so first on my list is this vegetarian salad with a Mexican flavour. I saw the how-to video on Facebook, so headed over to their website - Green Healthy Cooking - to snag the recipe.

Anything make-ahead works for me and in this rare hot streak, one that is marinated and comes right out of the refrigerator at dinner time is a blessing. Add a few rolls and I'm done.  However, my husband and the one son I have left at home are serious meat-eaters so I may offer some cooked chicken on the side they can add in. 

One note - I've made marinated salad recipes with avocado before and honestly like them best when they've had a bit of time to marinate.  The avocado softens and a bit of it becomes part of the dressing, making the salad creamier. So I suggest making this in the morning so it has all day for the flavours to blend.  And if you're lucky - you'll have enough left over for lunch the next day!

As the original site shares, this could be a side salad as well, but for me it's going to be a full meal deal. If fact I'm making it tonight, but will be serving it tomorrow night as we have a dinner date with friends tonight. Makes tomorrow a breeze.

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Mexican Quinoa Salad


1 C          Quinoa
1-1/2 C    Vegetable stock
1/2           Red onion, washed and diced
1 C          Cooked black beans or canned, well rinsed
2              Tomatoes, washed and diced
1              Cob cooked corn, cut off kernels after cooking
2              Small avocado (ripe but firm), diced
2              Hand-fulls cilantro leaves, washed and minced
1-2           Red chillies, washined and diced
2              Limes
Salt, Pepper - to taste


Place quinoa and stock into a pot and bring to the boil. Once boiling reduce heat immediately to low and cover tightly with lid. Cook for approx. 15 minutes or until done.   While it is cooking wash and prepare all the vegetables.

Once quinoa is cooked, fluff with a fork. Add to bowl with all other ingredients. Season with salt, pepper and a lot of lime juice. Stir and serve.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Boy on the Beach by R.D. Maddux

A strange twist of events threatens to destroy Andrew’s dreams, but as he searches for answers, a sudden revelation offers hope of a future he never imagined. 

Synopsis -

Andrew Foster, a real estate developer in San Diego, is a man suddenly haunted by his past. Memories, like specters from his former life of sex, drugs and rock and roll have come crashing into his current world of business in this sunny coastal city. The ominous, repeated appearance of a black SUV at the beach where he meets his sister each week, has triggered fears that it’s payback time for a bad choice he made years ago.

​To add to his frustrations, his hopes of a big breakthrough in the San Diego real estate market haven’t come to pass. He’s starting to wonder if his visions of success will ever come true when an investor offers to finance his dream project. Soon things start to fall into place for Andrew in business, life, and even love. He starts dating the beautiful and business-savvy Nicole but even with her at his side he can’t seem to shake the ghosts of his past. As the relationship with Nicole deepens, Andrew opens up to her about the many loves and adventures that have taken him from the crazy days of living in Big Sur and Joshua Tree to business success in San Diego. Her wise insights help him face the character flaws that have caused him to fail in his past relationships.

Rounding out his social life is his once-a-week task of assisting his sister with her nanny job watching a young boy named Chandler. They build sand castles on the beach and enjoy the beauty of nature together. But the now ominous weekly appearance of a strange car at the beach has awakened Andrew’s fears. Is the boy in danger? Or worse, has an enemy from Andrew’s past come seeking revenge and now Chandler’s caught in the middle?

Review - 

To the author - well done.  I was intrigued by this book as it offered me something different than the titles I have been reading lately.  The pace was slower. The author took more time to allow the story and it's characters to develop, letting us savor the journey as we read. And the flashbacks were into a time from my past I remember well.

Maddux develops this intriguing story by following the lives of several characters. We meet the main character - Andrew Foster - in current times where his life has not turned out the way he had hoped. Then we are introduced to those in his circle both past and present.  As I read, I felt I had truly met each of them and through these characters, was slowly drawn in to the intrigue of their past and for some, what was motivating their actions in current time.

Hints arise that perhaps Andrew's difficulties are related to his karma working out some hidden unworthy actions in his past. Slowly over the course of the book, the story of his past is unfolded for us through well-timed flashbacks.  It's never an easy task to run 2 parallel storylines - past and present - yet the author handled it seamlessly. I found myself often anxiously anticipating the next look back to get another piece of the puzzle.

The end of the story when it came, was the perfect conclusion. I'm looking forward to reading more books by this talented author.   

Buy the Book: 

Meet the Author -
Fab Author Interview - HERE!

R.D. Maddux has story telling in his blood. Since he was young he’s always loved a good tale. He’s been writing seriously since he was in high school and college. His novels range from Mystery and Intrigue to Sci-fi/fantasy. With Boy On The Beach he’s set the story in modern America, to be exact, on the West Coast of California. He’s a native of the golden state and has been a resident of San Diego since 1987. Before that he grew up in northern California and lived in the Sacramento Valley and Bay Area with sojourns in some of the beautiful parts of our state.

Living in California for over 60 years he couldn't help but watch the way things have changed in our culture and the impact this coast makes on the rest of America and the world. So even though Boy On The Beach is fiction, like most serious novels, it is not without a context and comment on issues we all face in our changing world. It takes place in real locations that are very familiar to him and its characters, which are fictional, no doubt have their counterparts in the real world. Boy On The Beach is a story of intrigue, suspense, revenge, love and redemption with flashbacks to the era when sex, drugs and rock and roll set our culture on it's inevitable journey to our present day. This idea has been rattling around in his heart and mind for a decade and it's finally coming to the page.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram
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Interview With R.D. Maddux, Author of Boy on the Beach

Can you share a bit about your journey to becoming a writer/published author?

I studied creative writing both in high school and college but didn’t get around to actually writing seriously until I was my early 30’s. I completed my first novel back in 1978. It was Sci-Fi/Fantasy novel in the tradition of C.S. Lewis and Tolkien with a little Star Wars thrown in. It was with a high profile publisher and did ok. I rewrote it years later. Since then I’ve done some non-fiction books and another novel. Two of these were published by established publishing houses but I saw very little royalties. Now, I do all my books as self-published. I believe an author has a much greater chance of seeing any revenue from his work when he or she self-publishes.

You share in your bio that from quite a young age, "...storytelling is in my blood." Please share your journey from this early interest to becoming a published author. Looking back is there a funny or interesting story you can share?

I’ve always loved to tell stories, whether it was around a campfire as a kid or making up a tall-tale to tell my college hippie friends years ago when we were high. But getting them into print has been the big challenge. It’s one thing to make a story but to put it in writing is the big challenge. My latest book, Boy On The Beach, has been rumbling around inside of me for years. The idea popped into my head one day and I shared it with a whole bunch of people. That was the easy part. The hard part was getting it on the page. I believe it’s going to make it to the screen either as a movie or a series on Netflix or something like that. I’m working on a screen play right now. So, I first wrote it out as a “treatment”, something you do to pitch it to a studio. That went nowhere so I finally decided to write it as a novel. That’s worked, and I’ve been greatly encouraged by the excellent reviews I’ve gotten so far. So I’m still actively pursuing my dream of getting it on the screen.

Your previous book was in the sci/fi genre. What led you to switch genres to write a mystery/thriller/suspense?

Well, I’ve always loved mystery and suspense novels and movies, and I had this idea brewing in my mind for some time. As I ruminated on it I realized that it would work much better in a contemporary real-world situation with a lot of intrigue. Plus, as a native of California it made a lot of sense setting here in my home state. Over the years I’ve been all over California from top to bottom, so I felt I could make the setting work in a real way. But getting back to the reason I wrote a mystery/thriller/suspense has also been a genre I really enjoy so it was a natural thing just to go for it in this genre.

Review HERE!
Where did you find the inspiration for your storyline in The Boy on the Beach? For the characters whose lives we follow?

As I said in the previous question, I’ve been all over the state of California. I’m a native and my family on my mother’s side came here in the 1840’s. I’ve not only been all over California, but I’ve met a lot of interesting people over the years in some of the most unusual settings (Big Sur hippie commune, lake side camping with beautiful people in the Mt Shasta region and years living in San Diego hanging out with all kinds of fascinating people.) All of these experiences and acquaintances makes for a great back log of knowledge that’s come in handy in writing my novels and other books.

I was really impressed with how you handled the 2 parallel story lines - following the main character's difficulties in the present while slowly unfolding events from his past that led to this moment in time through flashbacks. How did you plot this out so that it blended so smoothly?

It took a lot of thought and some rewriting to get everything to fall into place in the story line. I realized that the best way of keep the intrigue alive in the book was to slowly unravel the mystery in a way that would keep the reader guessing. I like the use of flashbacks in books. I did it in my Sci-Fi/Fantasy novel, Gem Of The Wanderer. I know some readers and writers don’t like it but it’s an approach that’s used a lot in novels and movies and I’ve always enjoyed it personally. So, like I said earlier, it took a lot of thought and I actually moved things around after I’d finished them because I realized it would make the story unfold in a more interesting way.

As an author - what is easiest or most enjoyable about the writing process? What feels like a chore or is the hardest?

As an author, I love it when an idea gets ignited in me. I’ve often found that sweet spot where you can’t get the thoughts out of your head and onto the page fast enough. It’s a great feeling. That’s what I enjoy most about writing. What feels like a chore is getting started. On a typical day it’s the first hour that’s the hardest but I’ve noticed that once I get past that 60-minute point, the juices have started to flow and everything seems to be downhill after that. 

How does the writing process work for you? Do you schedule a time every day or work madly when inspiration hits or? How much time is spent on research outside of your writing time?

I usually set a goal of completing a book by a certain date. I don’t write full time but being semi-retired I do have open days. So, when I’m in the middle of a project, I try to set aside a few days a week and make sure I have at least 6 to 8 hours of uninterrupted time to work on that project. As far as research, it depends on the book. My novels have taken less time because a lot of it comes from my imagination or my experiences so I’m just recalling things but I when I wrote Boy On The Beach, I did do a lot of internet searching to make sure I got some of the details right. When it comes to my non-fiction writing, I’ve done a lot of research in other books and online.

When not writing, what type of books do you like to read?

I enjoy reading all kinds of books. A good novel is a delight if I’m on vacation or have some extra time on my hands. But mostly I like non-fiction history, biography and contemporary issue books.

Any new books in the conceptual, planning or writing stages you can share with us?

Like I said earlier I’m working on a screen play of my latest novel, Boy On The Beach, and also thinking about a series of detective type novels set in San Diego that involve issues on both sides of the border here. I’ve got a couple of intriguing scenarios that are quite fascinating. I hope to get to them soon.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Meet the SHINE2018 Team - Justin Voitic

Please share a little bit about who you are and what you do. 

I am a Fashion Blogger / Influencer & also the Manager at IN Salon in Yaletown. I started off as a blogger and model in the Vancouver fashion industry in 2010, then I gained experience coordinating backstage at different fashion shows and events, as well as Eco Fashion Week & Vancouver Fashion Week (while continuing to walk in shows).

This mixture of being in the spotlight while working behind the scenes simultaneously gave me the experience and courage to launch my own Fashion Agency - The FIVE Agency in 2011. I then closed it down to pursue different career paths which led me to where I am today where I feel like I have the best of both worlds managing IN Salon while continuing to keep my finger on the pulse in this city and remain an Influential Public Figure in the fashion & entertainment industries here.

How did you meet Dean Thullner?

I first met Dean Thullner while covering his amazing event RED for the Positive Living Society of BC as media. I then reconnected with him in preparation for the first SHINE event, where I joined the team as the Fashion & Lifestyle correspondent. I worked on the Instagram account last time, did FB live videos and lead up interviews with the designers involved to create an awareness of this amazing event. Then was there during and after the event to assist in any way I could. Dean is such an inspiring leader in our community and our city, and his events have helped raised funds and awareness for causes that are close to my heart. He really inspires me, and so many of us, and I am grateful for our friendship!

You are part of the SHINE2018 team. What is your position on the SHINE team and what does your work entail?

I will be returning as the Fashion & Lifestyle corespondent this year, a title that was created for me to add some JV sparkle to all that is SHINE! This year, since I now run the show as the Manager of IN Salon, I will also have a secondary role. I will help coordinate the hair provided by some of our generous and VERY talented stylists at both IN & IS salons (owned by the wonderful Erin Moore) - as we are working on two designer sets this year. Both are designers who I love & admire - Connally Mcdougall & Jennifer Kappler.

What is your "why"? Why were you drawn to offer your talents in support of this specific charity fundraiser?

As someone who has experienced anxiety at different points in my life, SHINE is a cause that is very close to my heart. I feel like my charisma, positivity, love for creativity, and respect for the designers and those involved is why I was also drawn to support this fantastic fundraiser.

SHINE2018 has the hashstag #nostigma, and the funds raised are earmarked for programs servicing those struggling with mental illness and addiction. Was this a part of your reason for volunteering? If so, please share a little bit about your passion for this cause.

As mentioned, I not only have friends and family members who have worked in the field of mental health, but also have suffered from mental illness and/or addictions. I have gone through points in my life where I have experienced PTSD & anxiety due to traumas. I also am a member of the LGBTQ+ community and have so much love and support for anyone who is currently suffering or struggling with what I have mentioned. Being part of this event makes me feel like I am helping to make a difference, and that is something I’ve always wanted to do with my fashion career.

What are you most looking forward to at SHINE2018 in terms of the amazing show being created?

Definitely the fashion! I cannot wait to get a glimpse of the fantastic pieces that are being designed by our talented designers, and of course to see everything unfold on the day of the show! I’ll be there with my social media in hand ready to capture the action for the viewers at home!

Any last thing you'd like to share - a quote, a thought, an encouragement for people to attend and/or donate.

Please, bring your family & friends to this amazing event - it will be an unforgettable evening of art, fashion, and inspiration. All for an important cause!

Links - 
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Get your tickets as early as possible as this is a SELLOUT every year. They are available on Eventbrite at https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/shine2018-tickets-41429908973

For more information on Shine 2018, please visit their website at www.shinenostigma.ca/.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Meet The SHINE2018 Team - Lisa Callender

Please share a little bit about who you are and what you do.

I’m an Ottawa native who fell in love with Vancouver and am happy to be able to call the coast home for 13 years now. I’m an Aries who loves the sun and the ocean and I am a hairstylist at Volume and a teacher at Blanche MacDonald.

How did you meet Dean Thullner?

I met Dean back when SHINE was still called “Brilliant”. I came on as the lead creative director for the school’s portion of the show. Dean is an amazing person and I am so fortunate to have been asked to join the team. It’s been four years and I love more every year!

You are part of the SHINE2018 team. What is your position on the SHINE team and what does your work entail?

Well I started as creative director for the students, but in 2015 I was asked to also be the assistant stage manager in tandem with the creative director role. Then I was honored to be the stage manager for “Red” – the positive living society fundraiser – in 2017. This year, I’ll be the stage manager for SHINE. Being a part of “SHINE” has allowed me to wear lots of different hats and it’s been a wonderful learning experience – and lots of fun!

What is your "why"? Why were you drawn to offer your talents in support of this specific charity fundraiser?

I first heard about “SHINE” back when it was called “Brilliant” through one of my colleagues at Blanche MacDonald. I thought that it was an awesome cause and I wanted to get involved right away – I mean, doing what I love while also making a social impact? – it was a no-brainer.

SHINE2018 has the hashstag #nostigma, and the funds raised are earmarked for programs servicing those struggling with mental illness and addiction. Was this a part of your reason for volunteering? If so, please share a little bit about your passion for this cause.

Living in Vancouver has been a real eye opener in terms of recognizing what far-reaching impacts addiction and mental health can have on a person’s life. But it is actually a cause really close to my heart – a close family member suffers with depression and I’ve lost friends to overdoses. It’s hard to see or know that someone is struggling with something and you feel powerless to help. So I guess this is my way of fighting for those friends and family in the best way I know how.

What are you most looking forward to at SHINE2018 in terms of the amazing show being created?

Everything!! Collaborations with designers and salons, performances, even the late nights – it’s all so much fun and I can’t wait to get started!

Any last thing you'd like to share - a quote, a thought, an encouragement for people to attend and/or donate. 

I think Margaret Mead said: “All social change comes for the passion of individuals” – and that is exactly what “Shine” is all about.

Links - 
= = = =
Get your tickets as early as possible as this is a SELLOUT every year. They are available on Eventbrite at https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/shine2018-tickets-41429908973

For more information on Shine 2018, please visit their website at www.shinenostigma.ca/.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Meet the SHINE2018 Team - Tanya Billingham

Please share a little bit about who you are and what you do. 

My name is Tanya Billingham, I’ve been a makeup artist for almost 15 years. I started in freelancing, mostly grads and weddings, and then moved into Fashion Shows and now do YouTube and teach online makeup classes about inner and outer beauty. I’m a mom to two amazing boys, they are the centre of my world. Both play competitive sports and that has become my focus over the last 2 years. But I still do Shine every year because it is close to my heart. See #4

I started working as a makeup artist to help people see and understand that beauty comes from within, makeup doesn’t make you beautiful it only enhances what’s already underneath.

How did you meet Dean Thullner?

I met Dean the very first year of Brilliant, I was working as a volunteer and then got asked last minute to step into a lead role. After that show I walked up to him and asked him if there was anyway I could take on the makeup side of the show the next year and he agreed. He is now one of my closest friends, my biggest supporters and a part of my family. 

You are part of the Shine 2018 team. What is your position on the SHINE team and what does your work entail?

I am the Head of Makeup for the show. It’s my responsibility to get the leads and the artists. Connect them with their team, make sure the looks get created and then done properly on the day of. Our team of artists is about 80 people and I over see them all. This show is always fun because nothing is ever the same, every look is a true work of art, it allows every artists to truly be creative and create something they are proud of. 

What is your "why"? Why were you drawn to offer your talents in support of this specific charity fundraiser?

So what pulled me in was the mental health side of it. I am Bi-Polar type 2 with borderline personality traits. Being in the system I know what the system is lacking, I know what it’s like to feel shame and not understood. Mental Illness is like every other illness you just can’t see it so a lot of people don’t believe it. This show and it’s constant effort to remove the stigma around mental health is what brought me in but also what keeps me coming back.

I was diagnosed and sent home with some meds, I’ll never forget it, I didn’t know what to do with myself. My whole life had changed with just 5 words. I didn’t know how to function, how to parent, how to explain to people what was wrong with me (that’s how I felt at the time), and I had no idea of who I was anymore.

Shine 2018 has the hashstag #nostigma, and the funds raised are earmarked for programs servicing those struggling with mental illness and addiction. Was this a part of your reason for volunteering? If so, please share a little bit about your passion for this cause. 

Over the years I’ve grown into my mental illness but I’m different from a lot of others, I’m an extremely strong advocate for myself, not everyone with mental illness can be that way, I fought hard to get the help I needed. I do this show in part because I want others to not have to fight so hard, I want people to start seeing the signs earlier and I was resources to be available to everyone! 

What are you most looking forward to at SHINE2018 in terms of the amazing show being created?

For me, surprisingly, it’s not all about the makeup. It’s about watching it all come together. The looks, the fashion, the hair the makeup. Seeing what each team whats you to see on the runway. It’s always special and it’s always mind blowing. Shine has this amazing community surrounding it, people who have watched this show for years and years and come back again to see what new things we can create. It’s not like any other fashion show you have ever been too.

Any last thing you'd like to share - a quote, a thought, an encouragement for people to attend and/or donate.

“If I had changed anything, it would have changed everything”

Links -
= = = = 

Get your tickets as early as possible as this is a SELLOUT every year. They are available on Eventbrite at https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/shine2018-tickets-41429908973

For more information on Shine 2018, please visit their website at www.shinenostigma.ca/.