Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Book Feature and Giveaway! Mestlven by Jesse Teller

Revenge, Insanity, and the Bloody Diamonds 

Meredith Mestlven was abused and betrayed by her nobleman husband. After a desperate fit of retaliation, she fled for her life and lost her sanity. Now nearly 20 years later, she returns to her home at Sorrow Watch to destroy her enemies and reclaim her jewels. How far will she go to satisfy her revenge? Dark, cunning and beautiful, Mestlven will win your heart or devour your mind.

Jesse Teller fell in love with fantasy when he was five years old and played his first game of Dungeons & Dragons. The game gave him the ability to create stories and characters from a young age. He started consuming fantasy in every form and, by nine, was obsessed with the genre. As a young adult, he knew he wanted to make his life about fantasy. From exploring the relationship between man and woman, to studying the qualities of a leader or a tyrant, Jesse Teller uses his stories and settings to study real-world themes and issues. 

He lives with his supportive wife, Rebekah, and his two inspiring children, Rayph and Tobin. 

Author links:

Please click on the picture for details on how to enter this fabulous giveaway!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Any Hope of Redeeming Our Eroding Democratic Foundations Must Begin With a Clear Recognition of How Bad Things Are by Burt Hall, author of The Right-Wing Threat to Democracy

For over thirty years, World War II veteran and author Burt Hall assessed accountability in government and national security. Now, this seasoned, professional analyst delivers a tough account of what went wrong in our politics and system of government over the past two decades and what we can do about it. 

The right wing (not to be confused with Conservatism) has hijacked the Republican Party and wrecked havoc on our nation. It exploited basic flaws in our system to gain power and a series of major setbacks and a weakened democracy have followed. 

The Right-Wing Threat to Democracy lays out clearly what the basic flaws in our system are and how they can be fixed. The danger is that an ongoing shift of political power to the very wealthy and suppression of voting rights is silencing the voice of the average citizen. 

If elected officials do not fix the basic flaws, the American people have alternatives in our democracy and must take matters into their own hands.

By Burt Hall
The American people are deeply frustrated with not being fairly represented in Congress and not having a voice in our democracy. They are demanding an end to our great political divide and a return to a working democracy. For years politicians have been well aware of these concerns and the need for the two parties to be civil and work together. And, they well know that trust in government has been at an all time low. But, the problem persists unabated.
The only sure way for change may be to confront politicians with the results of their mishandling of government affairs and insist on public accountability.   Government mishandling for three decades and their adverse effects are described in this article. It concludes with how we can restore our democracy back to normal in partnership with the voting public.
Our great political divide began in a big way when, after owning the White House for 12 years, Republicans lost it to the Clinton presidency. They were outraged at the loss, considered his victory illegitimate and believed he had to be driven from office. The political environment that followed has continued to the present day and is best expressed by Republican George Voinovich. After serving as an outstanding mayor and governor, he worked across the aisle during two terms in the Senate (winning all 88 Ohio counties) and always had the ear of the president. He confessed at Senate retirement that the attitude of his colleagues was “We’re going to get what we want or the country can go to hell”.

To get what they wanted, Republicans dishonored the integrity of the American ballot with two strategies. First, they dramatically changed their response to presidential elections from honoring the “people have spoken” to one of no presumption of legitimacy of an elected president. Second, Republicans limited voter participation of groups likely to vote Democratic and then diluted the voting power of those who did vote.
The Republican no presumption of legitimacy strategy led to immediate refusals to accept presidential election results. In the case of President Clinton, baseless investigations and impeachment plagued his tenure and were employed in a failed coup to remove him from office. The vast majority of Americans, members of Congress, law professors and historians favored censuring Clinton for having lied under oath about a private affair -- a public reprimand.
However, obsessed with impeachment, House Republican leaders railroaded it in a lame duck House session by blackmailing their members to get the necessary votes. House leaders knew Senate conviction was out of the question; their intent was to simply force Clinton to resign, as Nixon had done. He did not. The impeachment had nothing to do with Clinton’s performance in office and it violated the U.S. Constitution (Protecting American Democracy Against Internal and External Interference, pp 2-3).
The Republican strategy of Limited voter participation led to control of legislatures across the nation and in Washington and gave Republicans the power to obstruct presidents, gridlock legislation and shutdown government. They did so relentlessly during the Obama presidency. He was delegitimized and ruthlessly obstructed nonstop during his tenure in an attempt to force his presidency to fail. It did not. Among the many legislative obstructions were refusals to consider rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and reforming our immigration system – matters that still are unresolved today.
Both Clinton and Obama had been duly elected for two terms and weathered the storm. Historians now rank them near the top ten of all U.S. presidents. Throughout their four terms, the American people suffered with a negative political environment during which much more could have been accomplished for them economically and otherwise. The first Republican administration to follow was the Bush/Cheney presidency and the second is the one we have now, the Trump presidency.
The attempts to nullify Clinton’s presidency and the related media frenzy led to the close presidential election that followed. The Supreme Court elected George W. Bush, by overstepping its judicial authority and stopping the Florida recount of the closest election in history. Soon afterwards, two independent media recounts showed that the Supreme Court had elected the wrong president.
Retired Republican Justice Sandra Day O’Connor later acknowledged they should not have taken the case. This is not the only time that an overreaching and politicized Supreme Court has been no friend of our democracy. They also unleashed, with Citizens United, massive amounts of money into our system of elections – a form of legalized bribery -- and gutted the Voting Rights Act (ibid, pp 11-12).
The Bush/Cheney Republican presidency did not maintain President Clinton’s priorities on balanced budgets with surpluses or on responding to the gathering threat of international terrorism. Osama Bin Laden had already declared war on the United States and attacked us several times, including a1993 bombing of the World Trade Center that failed. The terrorist leader was captured, prosecuted and jailed. Clinton responded to the rising threat by appointing a chief of counterterrorism to the White House who reported directly to him. They developed a series of anti-terrorism capabilities and a bold plan of attack to destroy Osama Bin Laden’s network in Afghanistan. It was to be activated after the FBI confirmed responsibility for a 2000 attack on the Navy destroyer, USS Cole.
During transition, the Bush/Cheney White House was fully informed of the gravity of the terrorism threat and the network headed by Osama Bin Laden by President Clinton’s national security team, the CIA Director, the White House chief of counter-terrorism and two separate U.S. national security commissions, one on terrorism and the other on threats of the 21st century. Nevertheless, the Bush/Cheney White House (1) let a CIA death warrant on Bin Laden lapse and refused twice to renew it, (2) demoted the chief of counterterrorism who no longer reported to the president and (3) disregarded the Bin Laden attack plan despite his responsibility for the USS Cole attack.
During the spring and summer that followed, the U.S. received extraordinary warnings from heads of state of England (twice), Jordan (twice) Russia (“in strongest possible terms “) and from intelligence agencies of other countries, such as the top ones of Germany and Israel. Warnings included the hijacking of U.S. aircraft for use as missiles and that twenty al-Qaeda members had slipped into the U.S., four of whom were training to fly. Israel gave us a terrorist list of persons residing in the U.S. and four of them were the actual hijackers. Another warning reported the 9/11 code, “The Big Wedding”.
The CIA Director informed the White House that “attack preparations have been made. Attack will occur with little or no warning …This is going to be a big one … of catastrophic proportions.”
In July, when there was still no response, the CIA Director made an emergency unannounced visit to the White House to present his case for a military response at that “very moment”. Again there was no response -- no serious precautions taken, no rounding up of al-Qaeda agents reported to be in our country, no screening of flying schools and passenger lists, no locks put on cockpit doors and, most damaging, no warnings made to the American people as President Clinton had done with far lesser terrorism threats (ibid pp 3-5).
Following the 9/11 breach of national security, the White House recklessly responded with two unnecessary wars with no end in sight, while allowing Bin Laden to escape without pursuit. Neither of the wars were justified based on information known at that time. (ibid pp 5, 6). Cover-ups of these colossal errors in judgment followed and permitted reelection of the failed presidency for a second term. The Katrina disaster, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, a plummeting stock market and huge job losses followed.
Why no accountability? Some possibilities are (1) the 9/11 Commission feared the White House and their supporters in the media and elsewhere would undermine recommendations in their report, (2) media management feared confronting a sitting president with something as charged as 9/11 and life-and-death accountability and (3) the Democratic Party has not been able or willing to defend against an overly aggressive Republican Party that was out to win at any cost. Had the shoe been on the other foot, Democrats would have been held accountable in spades (ibid pp 10, 12, 15).
The damage done by the Bush/Cheney presidency was astronomical in terms of total loss of life, injury, forced displacement of millions of innocent civilians and a massive worldwide increase in international terrorism. They also handed over to a new president a long-term federal debt of massive proportions structured for decades, an economy losing 800,000 jobs a month, a housing market in crisis, a dying auto industry, a tumbling stock market and a decline in world leadership. Future historians will find it difficult to estimate the devastation done.
As to limiting voter participation, the votes of Democrats and Independents willing to leap voting hurdles erected by Republicans were rendered worthless by legislative boundaries drawn to elect only members of one party. Voters could no longer choose their elected officials; party officials had already done it for them. In general, those who might vote against their candidate were exported and those who were likely to favor their candidate were imported. For example, legislative boundaries were drawn to pack African Americans in large voting districts and create many small white districts likely to vote Republican.
These distorted and discriminatory voting districts contributed to landslides in 9 out of every 10 House races in 2016. In 2017, they contributed to two special election Republican wins. For example, not even a strong Democrat candidate with a $39 million war chest could overcome the GOP engineered map for Georgia’s sixth district. It has been safe for 21 straight elections (The Secret Behind Latest Democratic losses, Hedrick Smith). Among other things, this unconstitutional practice offers candidates safe seats and freedom to be totally partisan. And, it discourages competition from worthy candidates of the other party. While both parties do this, Republicans did it four times as much as Democrats using a very effective high-tech computer-aided method.
It is clearly unconstitutional to rig voting systems for personal and partisan gain of the political party in power. At the state level, illegal districts with legislative majorities permit passage of unconstitutional bills, such as voter suppression and discriminatory bills that hurt everyday Americans. At the federal level, illegal districts permit obstruction of a president of the other party or, when their party owns the White House, the passage of bad legislation, such as the recent healthcare bills. If there were any justice, guilty legislatures would be barred from passing new laws, other than essential government functions, until their districts were redrawn and new elections held.
The courts are taking an eternity to deal with problems of voters’ rights, rigged partisan voting maps and big money influence over elections while legislation languished in Congress that could have corrected these problems long ago.
Now, our two-party system is broken and too divided for any president to govern and we are living in an entirely different world today because of it. Our worldwide admired democracy has been abandoned. And, unless civility returns to our politics, we are heading for a national crisis of unknown proportions.
Is it OK for Republicans to interfere for decades with our electoral system, but wrong for Russia to do it in the 2016 election? Is Russian hacking worst than voter suppression and partisan drawn maps diluting power of those who do vote? Do Americans have some special privilege to interfere with their elections that outsiders don’t have? Do we need protection from both? A cartoon in the Richmond Times Dispatch said “What makes you think the Russians can do a better job of undermining our democracy than we can?”
Trump is just a symptom of our unraveling democracy. We must deal with the underlying problems or symptoms will surface again in different ways in future elections. Any hope of restoring our democracy and revitalizing the Democratic Party must begin with a clear recognition of how bad things are today and holding public officials accountable for their mishandling of government affairs. Only when confronted with these facts will Republicans reform their win–at-any-cost political strategies and regain the trust of the American people. And, as their own Republican governor John Kasich recently said, “No one will ever remember you if you don’t put the country first.”
Overall, the mission of the Democratic Party should be to turn our politics around to the better days of the last century when our country was mostly unified and exceptional (ibid, pp 13 and 16-19). Developing a way to do that will be difficult. One way is to conduct a week-long session, when Congress is on recess, to brainstorm a message and a strategy for its execution that is in the public interest. During these deliberations the Democratic Party must figure out what it stands for in our democracy. Otherwise, it can’t win anything. The week-long session should include the best thinkers and leaders of the Democratic Party, including past presidents and vice-presidents.
The ultimate aim of the Democratic message should be to address reforms of our electoral system so that future members of Congress will (1) be elected to provide fair representation in accordance with our Constitution, (2) accept how their actions affect the country at large and (3) protect the public against interference with our political system, whether foreign or domestic. The Democratic message must close the gap between rural and urban communities with policies and an economy that are fair to both. The message must change the culture in Congress to the successful bipartisan one of earlier decades, promote youthful Democratic leadership and encourage return of disappearing Republican moderates who contributed so much to our exceptionalism of the past century (ibid, pp 13, 14). Ideally, the message would be led by a persuader-in-chief with potential of becoming the next president.
Encouraging a participatory democracy of ideas and feedback as our democracy is restored will lead to overwhelming grass roots support and resources to assist in coming elections. Relying on an anti-Trump strategy would be unwise and detrimental to the future of the Democratic Party. History will simply repeat itself. In the end, Democrats must correct the corrupt political system that stole their power and Supreme Court seat and hold public officials accountable for inexcusable mishandling of government affairs. Until Republicans begin to accept responsibility for their misconduct, they will not be either ready or entitled to serve in office.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Interview with Raymond Floodgate, author of Life 2 the Full

Life 2 the Full is a self-help book that shows the reader how to improve health and well-being by preventing Illness from happening in the first place. This book will guide you through the elements needed to help you live your life to the full. Life 2 the Full covers such subjects as health and well-being, food, exercise for the body, and exercise for the mind. Stress is also covered in this book, including ways to eliminate it. Other topics include breathing, relaxation, meditation, money, and abundance. The goal is to help the reader achieve a life that is lived to the full. If you are struggling with your life through constant recurring illness, stress, food-related problems, or lack of purpose, Life 2 the Full will teach you how to change the life you are living now into a life that you never thought possible. The book is written in plain English, is easy to understand, and will give you an insight into how easy it is to change your life should you want to.


Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?

Life 2 the Full explains the reader how they can live their life to the full. I wrote this book in order to present to the reader the 5 element suggested in the book which, when practiced, will help them to live a life without illness and stress and with a mind that is focused and a body that is fit and healthy.

How did you come up with the idea?

After many years of training and studying the subject matter, I realised it was time to put this information into a book and give anyone who was interested the chance to change their life.

What kind of research did you do before and during the writing of this book?

Everything in the book has come from the lifestyle I have been living over the past forty five years I have a daily training regime that includes Tai Chi, Qigong and Meditation; any other information has come from many hours of contemplation or from my own experiences.

Can you give us a short excerpt?

Can you imagine a world, especially your world, being a place where the common cold does not exist, where all major diseases and illnesses no longer occur in the body or in the mind? In your world right now, you may be 40 or 50 or 60 or 70 years old, but still only feel 25 years old. You may notice that friends, relatives and acquaintances who are about the same age as you, are starting to take shorter steps when they walk and their back may be starting to hunch slightly but your strides are long and your back is straight, your muscles are strong and your joints are flexible. Your mind is particularly sharp and alert while those of a similar age to you are starting to dither and be forgetful. When you can be aware of the way you are in your world, and notice how others are in their world, it may concern you a little to see the people you know and love beginning to deteriorate before your eyes, you will then realise that you are now living your life to the full.

In your own experience is it hard to get a nonfiction book published today? How did you do it?

I wanted to get my book out there, so I went down the route of self publication but that also its problems. Promoting, marketing and publicising the book is extremely expensive and doesn't necessarily mean the book will become successful.

Raymond Floodgate is a certified Reiki master and teacher, a qualified practitioner of energy healing, and an energy healing teacher. He was a practitioner and instructor of Shotokan karate for twelve years but now focuses on preventing illness. To this end, he has studied Tai Chi, Qigong, and meditation.

Interview with Bob Smith and Sara Rhodes, authors of Iniquities of Gulch Fork

In the worn and tired town of Gulch Fork, Arkansas, certified nursing assistant Samantha Caminos heads to her patient Rob Dean's home and wonders how she can find common ground with the aloof, disabled Vietnam veteran who suffers from not only PTSD but also severe neuropathy caused by Agent Orange. As Samantha approaches the house, she has no idea that very soon their lives will take a new turn. Gulch Fork, a town once filled with Ozark tranquility, takes on an aura of evil when bizarre events begin to affect Rob and two other war-scarred veterans, Peter Ness and Ron Woods-Samantha's father. But when Samantha learns that two elderly couples without living relatives in the area have fallen prey to fraud and embezzlement by a man who claims to be a pastor, she sets out on a quest to piece together a complex mystery fueled by those hell-bent on taking advantage of citizens too fragile to defend themselves. In this compelling novel based on true events, three veterans seeking peace and serenity from PTSD fall victim to injustice, prompting a young health care worker to investigate the evil that has infiltrated their once peaceful Arkansas town.


Could you please tell us a little about your book? 

This is a book about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from two viewpoints. A) From a Vietnam veteran who spent one year in a war zone. B) From the daughter of a veteran with PTSD who’d grown up as the victim of one who suffered from PTSD.

Who or what is the inspiration behind this book? 

When a veteran and his caregiver begin discussing PTSD they find they have many experiences in common. By writing about their personal experiences it helps them understand the disorder better as well as serve as a form of therapy to improve their insight and understanding.

What cause are you most passionate about and why? 

Animal welfare. Why? Because animals are the best source of therapy for people with severe PTSD. Also, they are the purest souls.

Do you have any rituals you follow when you finish a piece of work?


Who has influenced you throughout your writing career?

Bob- I always loved Edgar Allan Poe Sara- Robert Frost

What are some of your long term goals? 

Bob- To see the book be a success. Sara- Continue working with people like Bob, and when his health permits maybe do another book. 

Bob Smith is a naval officer who had Agent Orange spilled on him in Vietnam and suffers from severe PTSD in addition to disabling neuropathy. After living in Spain, he returned to America and settled in the Ozarks, where he is happily pursuing his dream of writing. Sara Rhodes is a wife, mother, and certified nursing assistant who originally lived in Alaska before moving to the Ozarks with her family. Bob is her former patient whose teachings about PTSD helped her recognize her own father's battle with it. Both Bob and Sara find animals to be a great source of comfort.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Book Feature: Demons and Devils by Amanda Jayne Forbes

This is a compelling story about the evil that lives among us from day to day. There are many demons and devils. You may ask how one may know the difference. To most people, you may not, but I have realized from a young age that I have an exceptional ability to see through people—I mean, right through people. Sometimes it was as if they were not there at all. Then I realized this was some sort of block from that particular being. I would go, like, completely blind. It would be like a warning that this person is from what we call the dark side.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Book Feature: The Trials of Allura by Dina El Shammaa

Allura’s life is a testament to the strength and resilience of educated Middle-Eastern women in the modern age, who are railing against a life that makes little sense, with all its twists and turns. A tower of courage and energy, her enthusiasm to challenge life’s obstacles and temptations reflects some of the mind-blowing hardships various women face. Bound by passion, linked by need, Allura offers readers a better understanding of life in a cross-cultural environment, where women are wrongly perceived by the outside world as spoilt, reclusive, and vulnerable. Social constraints, family upheavals, and unexpected tragedies force Allura to stand on her two feet at a young age and make life-changing decisions, which is when her whole world begins to unravel. Join Allura on her extraordinary journey of highs and lows, humorous encounters, and fateful experiences, which transform her from a shy and sheltered teenager to a courageous, resolute, fiery, and tempestuous woman.

An author inspired by innocence, simplicity and beauty, Dina El Shammaa’s extensive writing background helps her uncover unexpected daily occurrences that affect the lives of millions of women in the region and beyond.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Interview with Dr. Patrick Mbaya, author of My Brain is Out of Control

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


Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

I am a medical doctor, specialising in psychiatry. I share my personal story after I suffered from a brain infection in 2010, which caused loss of speech, right sided weakness, and clinical depression. I also suffered from antibiotic complications of low white cell count, and hepatitis. I narrate my experience as a patient/doctor (on the other side of the bed), neurological, and psychiatric complications I suffered, how I coped, and my journey to recovery.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced writing it?

My illness was very traumatic to me, and nearly took my life. I found it very difficult to write down what I went through. It took me four years before, I could gather the courage to write the book.

Do you plan subsequent books?

Maybe in future.

When and why did you begin writing?

Following my serious mystery illness in 2010, I wanted to share my personal story, although it took me four years before I could do this. What I went through was very difficult for me, and for my family, and although I was writing down what I was going through during my illness, it took me four years before I was comfortable enough to share my story by writing the book. I also felt it is important for doctors to see things from the patient’s perspective, and also to give hope to people with depression or brain disorders, and their families.

What is your greatest strength as an author?

My greatest strength is that I am a medical doctor specialising in psychiatry (psychiatric physician), and I suffered from a serious brain infection causing physical, psychiatric, and antibiotic complications. I discuss the clinical conditions I suffered from, in simple, and easy to understand language. People who are not in the medical field, will be able to understand, and follow the story.

Did writing this book teach you anything?

Writing the book has been therapeutic, and has helped me try to come to terms with my illness. It has also made me understand what sort person I am, and what I need to do to make myself a better person!

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

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Interview with Sondra Luger, author of Enter Venus

In ENTER VENUS the Goddess of Love comes to earth to save a marriage that’s falling apart. In the course of her magical ministrations, the art masterpieces at the magnificent Frick mansion spring to life and into action and a torrential downpour sweeps characters from a New York City street to Venice, Italy.

How did you come up with the title?

It suits this fairy tale and indicates that the goddess Venus  plays a controlling part in the story.

What is your writing environment like?
A comfy living room chair where I put pen to paper  and write.

What are some of the best tools available to writers? 
Imagination, a knowledge of human nature and a  Harvard outline (or similar).

What inspires you to write?
A desire to see love rule the world in general and  our lives in particular.

Did you learn anything while writing this book?
It reinforced my belief that love can overcome obstacles.

What is your favorite quality about yourself?
Compassion. I'm interested in people, why they behave as  they do.

Sondra Luger taught English in a New York City high school. Her first romantic novel, RICH, NEVER MARRIED, RICH was inspired by Jane Austen’s PRIDE & PREJUDICE, and her second, BACK FROM BORA BORA, was inspired by the business world of the young and the resilience and energy of the so-called aged. Her mysteries, DROP ME OFF IN HARLEM and MURDER ON BROADWAY, both of which feature the same female fashion model detective, are a tribute to the Roaring Twenties and to the author’s mother, who was a high fashion model. Sondra comes from an arts-oriented family with musical talent, and she has recorded a music CD with her sister, singer and songwriter Carolyn Luger. The songs were written by music icons of the twentieth century. The album is TAKING A CHANCE ON LOVE.