Thursday, November 23, 2017

Interview with write Doug Carnine

Writer Doug Carnine joins me on this holiday to chat about his spiritual, self-improvement book, How Love Wins: The Power of Mindful Kindness.

During his 35-year career at the University of Oregon, Douglas Carnine, Professor Emeritus, taught about, conducted research on, and advocated for improved education for vulnerable children—the poor, handicapped, English language learners, and children of color. He has over 100 scholarly publications, has lectured around the world, received the Ersted Award for outstanding University teaching, and received the Life Time Achievement Award from the Council for Exceptional Children. He received a presidential appointment to the National Institute for Literacy and was confirmed by the U.S. Senate, serving as program committee chair for three years. Simultaneously he developed his meditation and kindness practice and became a Buddhist lay minister. Since retirement, he has developed a mindful kindness project that includes a prison ministry, two books—Saint Badass: Transcendence in Tucker Max Hell and How Love Wins: The Power of Mindful Kindness and a related website.

Welcome, Doug. Please tell us about your current release.
“Be kind. It sounds simple, so why is it so difficult? Most of us recognize that being kinder and more present would not only improve our own lives and the lives of our loved ones, but also strengthen our communities and even our world. In fact, numerous scientific studies have confirmed that both living mindfully and being kind to others offer a host of benefits — from stronger relationships to longer life. Yet even if we truly care and are motivated to change, we find that old habits keep us coming back to the same self-centered cycle.

With his book How Love Wins, Buddhist and educator Doug Carnine offers another path. In this simple but powerful guide, Carnine leads the reader through a 12-step process of transformation, opening a toolbox of skills and techniques that anyone can use to live more fully in the moment and be more kind to themselves and others. A lay Buddhist minister who has worked with hospice patients and prisoners, Carnine reassures us that everyone is capable of building a mindfully kind life — and making it stick.”

What inspired you to write this book?
Personal experiences of profound kindness, scientific findings about the power of kindness, and the central role of kindness in all the world’s religions. These points are elaborated in the “CADRE speech.”

Excerpt from How Love Wins: The Power of Mindful Kindness:
The Case for Mindful Kindness
You may have read a lot about mindfulness in the media recently— for example, according to a recent article in the New York Times, mindfulness has become a “mainstream business practice and a kind of industry in its own right.” However, when is the last time you really thought about what it means to be kind? In fact, while mindfulness is a hot topic with many different meanings in the fields of spirituality, personal development, and business, you may not have had a conversation about kindness since elementary school. And yet there are good reasons why you should. Plenty of research shows that when we practice kindness, the people who bene t the most are ourselves. Acting with generosity, altruism, compassion, cooperation, forgiveness, empathy, and gratitude consistently results in better relationships, a more satisfying career, and a longer, happier, and healthier life.
That’s not to dismiss the value of mindfulness. On the contrary, this ancient practice has become popular for good reason. Mindfulness comes with its own slate of proven benefits both for our physical health (through less stress and lower blood pressure) and for mental health (including less worry about the future and fewer regrets about the past, less preoccupation about success and self-esteem, and more deep connections with others).
I like to use the word kindful to describe how we can combine being kind with being mindful. If mindfulness is how we can “be” in the world; kindness is what we can “do” in the world. Being kindful frees people from the o en-unpleasant need for distractions that can lead to addictions and violence. Spending less time with distractions gives us more time to be kind to others and to reap the benefits of that kindness. This book describes the value—to us and to society—of fusing kindness and mindfulness in all aspects of our lives. I want to show you why you should make kindness one of your life goals and explain why and how mindful- ness can help you be more kind to yourself and others. Most important is the hands-on advice for adopting habits of kindfulness and meditation that will change your life and the lives of those around you.
What exciting story are you working on next?
“My life was the result of my crazy childhood.” With these words began an extraordinary correspondence, between Roy Tester, a double-murderer serving a life sentence in the notorious Arkansas prison Tucker Max, and Doug Carnine, a professor emeritus at the University if Oregon and lay Buddhist minister on the other side of the country. In the letters that followed — more than 600 over seven years — these two men, along with three other prisoners at Tucker, developed a profound spiritual partnership that changed all of their lives. Saint Badass: Transcendence in Tucker Max Hell tells the inspiring story of these unlikely friends in their own words, and follows their journey as they rediscover their humanity in one of the most inhuman places on Earth. You can follow their journey after the book ends by going to

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I started academic non-fiction writing when I was a 21-year-old junior at the University of Illinois National Science Foundation fellowship program to accelerate the training of experimental psychologists. By the time I was 27 I was middling academic writer, not becoming proficient until in my 30s. I have not yet become proficient in writing trade books such as How Love Wins; the clarity of the writing is strongly influenced by the developmental editor Ilima Loomis.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I write two to three hours a day: revising this book, preparing course proposals using my two books, writing my blog, responding to emails about my books, and responding to letters that come out of my prison ministry.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I am obsessed with getting feedback on everything I write and making revisions based on that feedback. I rewrote this book probably 20 times over a ten-year period.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
In 7th grade, I told my parents I wanted to be a psychology professor.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
When I first started writing this I thought that the purpose of kindness was to help others. I now realize we need to practice kindness so that our own lives will have meaning and lead to times of contentment.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon

Thanks for joining me today, Doug.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Interview with writer Kimberly Love

Writer Kimberly Love is under the spotlight today. We’re talking about her memoir You Taste Like Whiskey and Sunshine.

During her virtual book tour, Kimberly will be giving away a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too!

Kimberly spends her days writing about serial killers and playing on her blog while trying not to get sucked in by her Facebook notifications or get into the whiskey decanter (just kidding...kinda).

Welcome, Kimberly. Please share a little bit about your current release.
There's an evil queen, a demented father, some amateur boxing and a trailer park story. Even a silver fox makes an appearance. Why wouldn't that entice you?

If you are looking for something different from the rest of the books out there, something that might make you question your sanity then you will love this book.

Seriously! The comedic and sassy perspective will make you see things differently, and you may even find yourself laughing out loud. It's a good story and one that I truly believe needs to be told. Period.

It’s dark, raw and takes you to a door that keeps all my innermost secrets. I hope that the book makes you laugh, makes you cry, and inspires you to be the best version of yourself.

What inspired you to write this book?
Raising my daughter was probably the best inspiration that I had for the book. I’ve had to go through a lot of healing in my life in regards to things that happened to me in my children and then subsequently in my dating life. I wanted to show her that it’s okay to be brave and to talk about the things that happen to you in the hopes that it can help others as well.

Excerpt from You Taste Like Whiskey and Sunshine:

    Mom? Are you reading this? Maybe you should have a drink first. Can we get a rum and coke over here? She’s gonna need it...
    I might as well add the disclaimer to anyone who has made some impact in my life, good or bad. I’ve changed the names to protect the wicked but if the words “oh shit” entered your head when you heard this book was coming out, you might not want to peek inside. Or, better yet, ride the rollercoaster with me, baby!
    A lot of people have asked me throughout this process, why I would want to write this book. There are a few reasons why I decided to completely expose myself for the world to see, but certainly, one particular moment comes to mind. During a heated argument with my ex-husband, post-divorce, he blurted out that he thought I was incapable of loving another human being. It’s one of those things you hear that is so shocking to you that the argument just ceases. I was speechless, I didn’t know what to say. Normally I would have chalked it up to the fact that he was, in fact, a disgruntled ex because it wouldn’t be the first time we got down and dirty in an argument, but this time I didn’t. I never forgot that comment, mainly because I wondered for years if it was true. There was just something about the way he said it that made me wonder if I was really that irrevocably screwed up. So, I decided to delve into my past, for my sake as well as my daughters, to find out why I walked out on a relationship that everyone thought was perfect. ​
    Well, the truth is, I’m pretty fucked up…hahaha…no really, I am. Call it a twisted DNA strand mixed with a childhood that was anything but boring, throw in a couple of jerks (men) and you end up on the wrong side of crazy. I wish it weren't true but I’ve accepted it, in fact, you might be hard-pressed to find a woman who isn’t. I assure you, as much as you don’t want to believe it’s true, we aren’t born this way. Something happens to bring us to this point. Thankfully, the people in my life have embraced my crazy and love me for it. My best friend once told me, “Kim you’re insane, you know that right? It’s okay though, I dig it.”

    I loved him for saying that. I know that the men that have managed to stick it out with me, despite the fact that I have a straitjacket similar to that of Beetle Juice’s blazer hanging in my closet because they really love me. I’m not an easy person to love, so I hold tightly to the people who, no matter what, never leave my side. Those are the gems and those kinds of people are really hard to find. If you have people like that in your life, don’t let them go.

    So, I’m a crazy girl. What now? I’ve accepted the fact that I must live amongst normal humans trying to live accordingly to rules of the somewhat sane--rules made by people that, more often than not, make no sense to me. In this world, it’s impossible not to make waves and I no longer apologize for the ripple effect that I have on the people around me. I love deeply and strongly and do my best for the people in my life. If anything, being me means that there is never a boring moment.

    I wrote this book as a means of not only telling the story of who I was or who I have become but more to accept the things that have happened to me in my life and acknowledge that it has made me the person that I am today, which is a good thing. It’s important to my own journey through this hell we all call home that I say out loud that I lived. I’m wild and raw and take no prisoners in any aspect of my life. I hope that this book opens your eyes and, above all else, makes you laugh. If you are lucky enough to be along with me for the ride, you won’t regret it.

What exciting story are you working on next?
My next project is actually going to be in the realm of dark romance/thriller, so from here on I plan on writing fiction. It’s a story based on the true story of a serial killer that wreaked havoc in Thailand in the early 90’s. I’m pretty excited about it because it’s almost finished.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I don’t think that there was ever a point where I “decided” to become a writer, it’s just always been there. I used to journal as a child, so I was always creating stories. I guess the decision to become a professional/full-time writer came later on in life, really in my thirties when I knew that I wanted to start a career based on something that I loved doing.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I do write full-time, which means I write a lot and for hours on end. I usually like to start my morning with journaling and a cup of tea. I use part of my day completing ghostwriting projects for clients and then the other half of the day working on my own books. It can be a juggle at times, but both are important to me, so I make sure I make time for both.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I play episodes of Law & Order: SVU in the background while I write. It’s super weird, but I work from home and so I’m alone a lot. Cabin fever can creep in so hearing voices from the TV show helps pass the time and it alleviates such a quiet house.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An actress, I would often picture myself accepting an Oscar for Best Actress. I studied acting and was in various plays before I moved from acting to writing.

Thank you for being a guest on my blog!

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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Interview with writer Jane McCulloch

Writer Jane McCulloch joins me today and we’re chatting about her novel, which is based on a true story, The Brini Boy.

Welcome, Jane. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.   
I spent most of my life working in theatre and opera, for which I wrote and directed. This work took me all over the world and I was lucky to work with many famous people including Judi Dench, Derek Jacobi, Timothy West, and Patricia Hodge, and in the world of opera, Jessye Norman and Sir Thomas Allen. Over 40 years, I ran two companies, English Chamber Theatre and Opera UK. Four years ago, I retired from both and began writing fiction. Since then I have written a trilogy of novels and this year published The Brini Boy, based on a true story. All my work is published on Amazon.

Please tell us a little bit about The Brini Boy.
It is 1919 in Plymouth Massachusetts. Trando Brini, a promising violinist and the child of Italian immigrants, is 13 years old and living quietly with his parents and their lodger, Bart Vanzetti. This is not a good time for Italian-Americans. Assassinations and bombings committed by a handful of Italian Anarchists on US soil has resulted in a tense climate of suspicion and paranoia. When known Anarchists Bart Vanzetti and Nick Sacco are arrested for their alleged roles in a fatal holdup, Trando knows for certain his friend Bart Vanzetti is innocent, because he was with him at the time of the robbery. Thus begins seven years of trials and appeals during which Trando, his community and a growing number of political activists and famous intellectuals, challenge a biased American Justice System. It is a struggle between David and Goliath, in which the ‘Brini Boy’ must risk everything – his musical career, his first love and the life of his dearest friend.

What was the inspiration for the book?
I came across the Sacco and Vanzetti case several years ago. It is a notorious miscarriage of justice and a compelling story, but what struck me most was that a boy of 13 went through a long ordeal on the witness stand to give his friend an alibi, and when that failed he stood by him through seven years of appeals to get the guilty verdict reversed. He never gave up, in spite of being threatened and having his musical career put in jeopardy. There is great tension and drama in Trando’s story, even a love story as well, and through the years of struggle he developed into an exceptional young man.

In this true story of courage, bravery and determination we can more fully understand the America of the present by revisiting its turbulent past.

You can find an excerpt of The Brini Boy here.

What exciting story are you working on next?
My next book is in the planning stages – but will be about a war correspondent, who after long years in terrible war zones has returned to England and is trying to adjust to a life at home.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I started writing at a very young age, about six! It was verses and short stories at first, then I went on to write plays and a pantomime at school. After leaving drama school I decided rather than be an actress I wanted to write for theatre and direct. Then five years ago, at the age of 72 I started writing novels and am now working on my fifth!

Do you write full-time?
Yes, I do in the sense that I have no other occupation. A book starts with plenty of planning and notes. Once this is completed I write quite quickly. I am not very disciplined in that I write so many words a day, but I usually work all morning and then late afternoon and evening I go over the work I have done and make corrections.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I started out wanting to be an actress but by the time I got to drama school, this had changed. Although I still wanted to work in theatre, it was more as a director and writer.

Since I began to write fiction I think my main aim has been to make the books entertaining and interesting to the reader. I have been careful in trying to avoid making the characters into caricatures.

Thanks for being here today, Jane.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Interview with mystery author Mary Maurice

Today’s special guest is mystery author Mary Maurice. We’re chatting about her new suspense, Burtrum Lee.

Welcome, Mary. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
After attending Western Michigan University for two party filled years, I decided to leave academia and explore the real world to learn what life is truly about. For fifteen years I've traveled the country working in restaurants, writing and doing readings wherever I was welcome.

While living in Minneapolis during my twenties, I was fortunate enough to be tutored by Dr. Jonis Agee, who was at the time head of the creative writing department at St. Catherine's College in St. Paul. Her lessons were imprinted in me for all of these years, and have influenced my writing ever since.

My adventures landed me in San Diego, Chicago, San Francisco, and Oregon, finally leading me to the Land of Enchantment where I've resided since 1994. Living in Santa Fe, and the beauty and isolation that surrounds me, has inspire my creative muse in ways that no other place has. While still working in the hospitality industry, my passion for the craft of writing has never been stronger. And I know with each sentence I write, and every paragraph I compose, my ultimate goal is to find the perfect word.

Please tell us about your current release.
It’s a story about a woman, Burtrum Lee Conner, who finds out that the life she’s been leading is a lie, and that her family has been deceiving her since the day she was born.

What inspired you to write this book?
The desire to tell this story.

Excerpt from Burtrum Lee Burtrum Lee:
As Katie Lee floats out of her seat, a sensation of being in space surrounds her. Glancing over, she watches as her husband catapults through the windshield. She, following right behind into the white darkness.

What exciting story are you working on next?
The Suicide Letters of Jack Monroe, is my next novel. Jack Monroe tries to save a woman, Susan Jordan, from committing suicide by writing letters to her in hopes of giving her strength and courage so she’ll change her mind. It’s a twister!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Since I first learned how to write. And then when I wrote my first poem in the ninth grade, which set fire to the simmering embers, I knew there was no going back.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
That is my ultimate dream, to write full-time, but since I do have to support my simple life-style, I wait on tables, and work on my writing daily. No matter if it’s for fifteen minutes, a half hour, or three, I work on my writing every day. One might say I have a writing problem!

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I have a recording on an old answering machine of my cat, Emily, who’s been dead for nine years now, meowing. And every time I sit down to work I listen to her, because she would always make such a fuss when I sat down to write.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
First, as I’m sure most kids do, I wanted to be a doctor. Then, I believe it was a cowgirl, after that, it was Dorothy Hamel, then I think, Chris Everett, and finally I was happy with being just Mary Maurice.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Let’s not allow one of the most ancient art forms, writing, to be discarded by the waste-side. Not everybody can play music, not everyone can paint a picture, or sculpt a David. But everybody, in some form, can write. And the one thing that keeps the writers writing, are the readers. So, thank-you, and keep on bookin!


Thanks for being here today, Mary!

Feel free to visit Mary's other stops to learn more about her and her writing.

Monday November 13th @ WOW! Women on Writing
Interview and Giveaway.

Tuesday, November 14th @ Create Write Now
Mary Maurice is today's guest author at Mari McCarthy's Create Write Now Blog - don't miss this intriguing guest post titled "Moving Beyond Writer's Block " and learn more about Maurice's scientific mystery "Burtrum Lee".

Wednesday, November 15th @ Beverley A. Baird
Beverley A. Baird reads and reviews Mary Maurice's scientific mystery "Burtrum Lee" and shares her thoughts on this page turning novel!

Thursday, November 16th @ CMash Loves to Read
Today's guest blogger at CMash Loves to Read is none other than Mary Maurice. Hear from her on the topic of "Finding My Muse." and learn more about her scientific mystery "Burtrum Lee".

Friday, November 17th @ Bring on Lemons
Crystal Otto reviews Mary Maurice's Scientific Mystery "Burtrum Lee"! – don’t miss this opportunity to learn more about Mary Maurice and find out more about this page turning novel "Burtrum Lee".

Tuesday, November 21st @ Margo Dill
Mary Maurice visits the blog of fellow author Margo Dill. Hear from Mary on the topic of: "What's So Hard About Being Nice?" and learn more about Mary's scientific mystery "Burtrum Lee".

 Wednesday, November 22nd @ World of My Imagination
Nicole Pyles reviews "Burtrum Lee" - the Scientific Mystery by Mary Maurice.

 Thursday, November 23rd @ Writers Pay it Forward
"Who Left the Skunk on the Side of the Road" is today's topic at Writers Pay it Forward as Mary Maurice pens today's guest post and discusses her book "Burtrum Lee - A Scientific Mystery".

Tuesday, November 28th @ Choices with Madeline Sharples
Mary Maurice writes an intriguing guest post at Choices today. She talks about "Keeping Readers Engaged". Don’t miss this post and opportunity to learn about "Burtrum Lee - A Scientific Mystery".

Thursday, November 30th @ Women of Wonder
Ginny at Women of Wonder reviews "Burtrum Lee - A Scientific Mystery" by Mary Maurice and shares her thoughts with readers. Don't miss this exciting blog stop!