Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Book Review: Chicano Homeland by Louis R. Negrete #review

April 24, 2019 0 Comments





Title: CHICANO HOMELAND
Author: Louis R. Negrete
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 136
Genre: Historical/Nonfiction

BOOK BLURB:

Los Angeles author-educator Dr. Louis R. Negrete lived and now tells the compelling, dynamic story of the movement for the rights of Mexican-Americans in the USA, particularly those In California.  In his riveting, powerfully written historical book, CHICANO HOMELAND,  retired college professor Dr. Negrete vividly describes the issues that sparked the Chicano civil rights movement, that saw unbridled police brutality, institutional poverty (that still even exists today, he says), demands for better schools, the  anti-Vietnam war protests and the support for undocumented immigrants.

Mr. Negrete’s CHICANO HOMELAND captures in its historical pages the early Mexican settlement in Los Angeles to the 1950s Zoot Suit riots in L.A. to where Chicanos stand today in the California culture. He gives us a colorful, vivid history of a people that every Hispanic should read, especially as he says, “Chicanos and Chicanas, so they can know where they came from, how they got here and be inspired to chart a course to a genuine, lasting political power for what is now the largest ethnic minority in the United States.”

Commented author Dr. Louis R. Negrete on his book, “I believe that Americans must fight back against racism and national politics. The Chicano movement was a success but resistance to racism must continue, especially with the anti-immigrant policies popular today. I wrote the book based upon my experience growing up in Los Angeles, aware of persistent demands for justice and an end to racism. Younger Mexican-Americans and other minorities should know this part of United States history.”

ORDER YOUR COPY:

https://www.amazon.com/Chicano-Homeland-Movement-American-Equality/dp/1519355262/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1460931222&sr=8-1&keywords=chicano+homeland

 

REVIEW:

I must admit from the get go that I'm from the other side of the fence. I'm a natural born white, non-prejudiced American woman. But, the reason why I wanted to review Chicano Homeland is that I wanted to hear it from the other side of the fence - from one person's POV who actually had grown up during the years back to the beginnings of the Mexican movements.

Louis R. Negrete didn't disappoint.

We start the book with the author's point of view on the roots of activism. So when did political protests against Mexicans start? There are differing opinions on that but as a young boy, Louis watched sailors in uniform chase down his uncle in Watts. His uncle escapes by running into a movie theater and the sailors turned away. Now..if I could put myself in Negrete's impressionable shoes, I would be led to believe at a young age that white sailors were to be avoided at all costs. The Civil Rights movement evolved later. Mexicans started to believe things would get better and they did; although there was still a fight for unbiased opinions toward them as a nationality.

The author also tells us what it was like in the fifties and sixties growing up in California. "It was the time of controversy," the author says, "with major, sometimes contradictory, turns in political and social life" and goes on to tell us about police abuse and neglect by the city's government. Once JFK was elected president, Mexicans had hope and were given promises, but after the election, the author feels that they were once again put on the back burner and nothing was ever realized regarding their living conditions or the attitudes toward the Mexican American population.

1964 becomes the year of urban unrest and riots after the assassination of JFK. The Watts riots began. While the newly appointed president Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, things still didn't improve. While Mexican Americans were paying their fair share of tax, only 1 percent went to the rehabilitation of their communities. Over half of all Mexican Americans were involved in drugs and one third of all Mexican American highschoolers dropped out of school. Mexican Americans were outraged to the war in Viet Nam and more activist groups were founded. By the late 60s, the Mexican American activists became more restless. They were tired of no jobs, tired of police brutality directed at them and wanted an end to the war. More groups were founded such as Young Citizens for Community Action. The Brown Berets led by David Sanchez and Carlos Montes became visible at most Chicano protest demonstrations.

What an exciting read. Negrete's book takes a deep look into the protests and the hardships of a people who just wanted to be treated like everyone else. It was actually an eye opener of events, many I had not heard about, that needs to be addressed, acknowledged and to learn from. We all need a voice without being violent. It will get us nowhere. But looking over the events that have unraveled over the years, it's no wonder Negrete wanted to get his book out there. An informative and eye-opening read!



Tuesday, April 23, 2019

A Conversation with Rachel Marie Martin, Author of 'The Brave Art of Motherhood' @finding_joy #interview

April 23, 2019 0 Comments

“One November day, I stood at my bedroom window watching as a sharp wind stripped the remaining leaves from the trees. Seeing those limbs laid bare, I felt similarly exposed. I realized I'd been lost in my own life, waiting for something to change. But I couldn't wait any longer.

So I started fighting. Reclaiming the lifeless spaces, unearthing joy in motherhood, and finding hope and purpose. No longer did I hide behind the words "When the kids are grown, I will. . . "

I changed one thing: my mind.

Now my kids are happier than they have ever been. And so am I.”

From The Brave Art of Motherhood by Rachel Marie Martin

Rachel Marie Martin believes in the power of the human spirit to overcome, to thrive and to find deep joy and because of that she pours out her heart via these platforms: she is the writer behind the site FindingJoy.net, partner of BloggingConcentrated.com, co-host of the Amplify Podcast, and a featured writer for The Huffington Post. Her top blog post, "Why Being a Mom is Enough" has surpassed 1.9 million Facebook likes and she has had her articles translated into over 25 languages. Her site reaches millions of visitors and has a robust, engaged Facebook community. Her articles have been featured in The Huffington Post, iVillage, The Today Show, Star Tribune, iVillage, Stuff New Zealand, PopSugar, Parents, What to Expect, Mamalode, NBC Parents, Dr. Greene, and many more. Her first book, "The Brave Art of Motherhood", published by Penguin Random House, was released on October 9, 2018. She speaks worldwide about a variety of empowering topics ranging from motherhood to social media marketing to website strategy to writing to creating an authentic community. She believes in living each day intentionally and loves working with others to cultivate a vision, realize their potential and see their dreams become a reality.

Book Description:

Full-time FindingJoy.net blogger, speaker, marketer, podcaster, and single mom of seven, Rachel Marie Martin presents a wake-up call to those of us who have found ourselves stuck in the 'I'm just a mom' phase of life.

Yes, this book is about motherhood . . . but really, this book is about finding yourself again and following your passion WHILE being a mom. Inspired by her incredible story, Rachel's words always come straight from the gut; they are visceral, real and soul searching. She challenges you to find the courage to break cycles, to take off masks and not let fear take control. This book is a balance of tough, "no excuses" ways of approaching life, while allowing breathing room and grace for yourself, for as we all know, life and mothering are not perfect.

After inspiring and conversing with thousands of women, Rachel has surmised there is always a reason to hope, to move forward and a reason to dare doing what you thought was impossible. (Yes, including what you are skeptical of accomplishing right now). She encourages you to say yes to your dreams and stop waiting for "someday" or "one day" or "when something happens".

Prepare to change the way you think about yourself and your life. This will be a book you read over and over armed with a highlighter in one hand and a journal for introspection in another.
Interview:

Q. Welcome, Rachel!  Your new book, The Brave Art of Motherhood, would be perfect for Mother’s Day. Can you tell us how you came up with the idea to write this book?
               
I’ve been writing my website Finding Joy for over ten years and one of the most common questions I would receive was regarding if I had a book. My readers had seen me go through tremendous life challenges – divorce, dealing with finances, starting a successful business – and wanted to learn the steps to finding joy, happiness and purpose again. At a certain point you either look at opportunity and run after it or you ignore it. Clearly, I chose to follow opportunity and from that The Brave Art of Motherhood was born.  


Q. Can you tell us a little about your family?

 I’m the single mom to seven amazing kids aged nine to almost twenty-three. You can figure the math, but there were many many years where I lived with a child under five in my home. Those years of busy taught me a great deal about patience, goals and grace. Now my oldest two live in Seattle, I have a son who attends school in Minneapolis and the other four attend school here in Nashville. It’s a busy life, indeed, but I’ve grown accustomed to this story and love the adventures my children bring.  

Q. What do you believe was the hardest part of raising seven children?

Truthfully, the noise. By nature, I like things chill and quiet, and having seven is the antithesis of that. At my house in Minnesota I would often establish the main floor as the “quiet level” just to help that part of me out. But, beyond that, it’s probably also the amount of food those kids can eat - especially once they hit their teenage years.
  
Q. What would you say to single women having to raise their children alone?

That you are strong, even if you are tired of being strong, and that I want you to reclaim your strength. I know that there are times when you just want a break, or a breath, and part of being strong is deciding to cultivate that in your own life. Don’t listen to the critics or the statistics, but instead fight for your family, show up the best you can and love fiercely. Your love, even in the moments when it feels like it doesn’t matter and doesn’t measure up, is truly a life giving gift.

Q. Can you tell us more about FindingJoy.net?

 I started Finding Joy just over ten years ago. It was originally a place for me to get that quiet, that chill, and to think about (and share life). As the site began to grow it moved from being a hobby to now a full time career. We have reached over 40 million people and our Facebook page is a vibrant community of women who live with deep authenticity, purpose and joy.



Wednesday, April 17, 2019

A Conversation with Kevin C. Alston, Author of 'The 'Real' American Diet @kcasrkev1 #diet #interview

April 17, 2019 0 Comments
“IF YOU’VE BEEN dieting forever with very mixed results, then you’ve finally come to the right place. These lifestyle changes that I am recommending will be like no diet that you have ever attempted, so if you combine what I’m about to teach you with the proven methods that Dr. Joel Fuhrman teaches you in his books—Eat to Live is the best one to start off with—you will be well on your way to attaining your goal of losing the dreaded weight that you have been desperately seeking to get rid of for so long.”
--From The ‘Real’ American Diet by Kevin C. Alston

Born & raised in the small town of Mullins, SC, by God-fearing parents who instilled religion into his life at an early age, Kevin C. Alston has an insatiable appetite for knowledge since birth. God blessed him with a keen, analytical mind, & an almost feverish desire to help others. He is a U.S. Air Force veteran, married to the love of his life, with five wonderful kids, & a deep passion that still burns within him to help the less fortunate, through whatever means necessary.  The correlation between what we eat & the epidemic-like rise in diseases of today has the author on an impassioned mission to get to the bottom of what he thinks is a big conspiracy by our government & Big Business.
His latest book is The ‘Real’ American Diet.

This book is a culmination of the author's life, but mainly the past 10 years, where personal tragedies have led him to discover more about the correlation with food, nutrition & the diseases of today, & how it affects us all.

This program is an experiment of sorts, with the author using himself as the guinea pig, with positive results having been discovered, & hopefully, in time, even bigger positive results yet to come.
Between our government & Big Business, we, the people, are already involved in an experiment.  It's like a big laboratory.  With all of the harmful toxins that are allowed in our air, food, &  water, diseases are at epidemic-like levels, & the author, for one, would like to know if there is more to this than is being told to us. It speaks volumes when other nations refuse to accept grains & meats from us, or at least it does to the author.

Most of the ailments we suffer from today emanate from our guts, & our poor diets keep the sickness-wheels turning, costing each of us millions of dollars, a whole lot of heartache, pain, & suffering.  It's time to make a change, & that change started with the author's experiment on himself.




Welcome, Kevin!  Your new book, The ‘Real’ American Diet sounds like something we all could use today. Tell us what was the pivotal moment when you decided you should write about book that discusses the correlation with food, nutrition & the diseases of today and how it affects us all?
Kevin: Boy, can it be used today! After my mom died from cancer back in '10, I thought about it. When my 'other' daughter passed, from cancer as well, I had had enough ( my 'other' daughter  is my oldest stepdaughter ). I actually saw my other daughter's long struggle against, first, breast cancer, & then, liver cancer. It was not something any human being should have to experience.
You mention in your book that you have a ‘routine’ that you use every day. Can you tell us what that routine is?
Kevin: I start my day off the exact same way, no matter what time I actually get up ( crazy work schedule having a lot to do with it ). I start off with at least 40 ounces of water ( I've gone from tap water to alkaline water, probably about 4 years ago, I made the switch ) that I squeeze fresh lemon juice into, & I add probably almost a 1/2 capful of apple cider vinegar. Every day is begun that way, no exceptions.
Would you say you ate well or poorly as a child? Were you allowed sweets?
Kevin: No. I wouldn't say that I ate poorly, but we did get our 'bad' things in. At the top of the list of the bad is probably the kids' cereals that we all were bombarded with growing up. Those things are loaded with sugar! Is that really the way we want to start our days off, with a bowl of sugar? It's no wonder diabetes is rampant. They've got us consuming more & more sugar. But, thank God my mom also taught us, me in particular, the importance of eating your green vegetables. The greener, the better. I try to have something green with every meal. The key word is 'try', but trust me, I will get it in that day, for sure, somehow.
Where do you buy your vegetables and fruits? Is it important to stay out of the grocery stores and buy fresh?
Kevin: There's a store called Nino Savaggio's, which in essence is a Big vegetable/fruit market. They've got everything there, pretty much, but the fresh fruits & vegetables are the main draw, at least for me it is. I'm there quite often. I do still go to grocery stores, but not for my fruits & vegetables.
How can your book help me with my diet?
Kevin: My book doesn't try to get you to stop doing anything that you are already doing. It just focuses on starting your day out right, incorporating a few new, good habits into your life, & in doing this, it will entice you to make better decisions about what you ingest.
What’s your view on soda? Is it okay to drink in moderation?
Kevin: My view on soda, we call it 'pop' up here. I haven't had a pop since '98. I just one day decided to stop drinking it, mainly because I knew it was mostly sugar, & since I didn't really drink a lot of them, it would be much easier to quit, & I did, cold turkey. Juices, in my opinion, are just as bad as pops, especially if it's not fresh-squeezed.
What’s your most favorite vegetable and fruit?
Kevin: My most favorite vegetable & fruit. My favorite vegetable is probably steamed okra. The sliminess turns a lot of people off, but not me. As for fruit, watermelon & peaches are probably neck-n-neck, in my book. But there are a few others that come close for both fruits & vegetables. I'm not a picky eater, & I love all food.
In closing, do you have anything you’d like to tell your readers?
Kevin: If someone was slowly poisoning a friend or loved one, what would you do about it? That's where I come in, because I have lots of friends & loved ones, & from the past sufferings of quite a few of them, I felt compelled to try & help the others, as well as myself, because we are all being slowly poisoned by the powers-that-be, all in the name of the almighty dollar. Our air, our food, our water. That's why there are so many ailments today that seem to be in epidemic-like occurrences. We need to stop the mad scientists! The money isn't in a cure. It's in keeping us sick, to keep the prescriptions being written, to keep the money train chugging along, full speed. Good health is your greatest wealth!


Monday, March 25, 2019

A Conversation with Children's Book Author Karen Carew Oakes #children #books #interview

March 25, 2019 0 Comments

Karen Carew Oakes, has been writing for many years and her articles have been included in the Lutheran Advent, as well as an article in several magazines. She is a mother and grandmother. She lives in Helotes, Texas with her two schnauzers Ella and Mackenzie. Her stories are based on true experiences her children encountered growing up.

Visit her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/karencarewoakes.  



About the Book:

Title: DREWSILLA THE SHELTER PUPPY
Author: Karen Carew Oakes
Publisher: Archway Publishing
Pages: 22
Genre: Children’s Picture Book

BOOK BLURB:
When Drewsilla and her siblings are tiny puppies, an accident steals their mother away. A kind stranger rescues them and takes them to a shelter, where the staff works around the clock to care for the pack of newborns. Soon, her brothers and sisters begin to thrive. Drewsilla has a beautiful black coat, intelligent eyes, and ears that stand straight up.
Drewsilla, though, is scared. She seems afraid of everyone and everything and hides in the back of her cage when families come to visit. As her friendly siblings each get adopted, lonely Drewsilla remains. The staff even worries that she might never find a home. Then, one day, something amazing happens.
The Johnsons come to the shelter to look at another dog and see Drewsilla, who miraculously finds the courage to stop hiding and say hello. All shelter dogs deserve the chance to find a loving family, and this is the true story of Drewsilla -- how she overcomes her fears, finds her family, and gets a second chance at a happy life.

ORDER YOUR COPY:


Thanks for this interview, Karen.  I’ve always wanted to write children’s books.  When did you determine that writing for children was for you?

Actually, I have been writing all of my life. As a kid I would write alternate story lines for books and comics I read.

What was the inspiration behind your children’s book, Drewsilla the Shelter Puppy?

Drewsilla the Shelter Puppy was inspired by Drewsillas adoption by my daughter and son inlaw.

How do you get into the mind of a child to create a fun reading experience?  Are you around kids?  Are you a kid at heart?

Everyone likes a story with a happy ending. Drewsilla was a very shy withdrawn puppy because of the way she was found. She was very tramatized and the shelter was not sure if she would find a home. She chose my daughter and son inlaw.

Children love stories about animals and Drewsillas story also teaches the importance of adopting. There are so many animals in need of home

What was your favorite book as a child?

As a kid I loved a good mystery. Robin Kane mysteries and Nancy Drew were two of my favorites series.

What kind of advice would you give writers who would like to write children’s books?

I would say make sure you know your audience. I actually read my stories at local schools in the library and to friends childrens. 

What are your goals for the future?  More children’s books?

I am in the process of putting illustrations together for my series of books The Misadventures of Kelly and Radar. These are fun and informative books children can relate to.

Friday, March 22, 2019

A Conversation with Lee Matthew Goldberg, Author of 'The Desire Card' @leematthewg #interview

March 22, 2019 0 Comments

“A shadow passed behind a tree, bigger than any animal. He propped himself up against a rock, too exhausted to move any farther, closing his eyes and waiting to die. He could see tomorrow’s headlines declaring his death as a mugging gone wrong.”

--From The Desire Card by Lee Matthew Goldberg

Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of SLOW DOWN and THE MENTOR (St. Martin’s Press), which was acquired by Macmillan Entertainment with the film in development. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the 2018 Prix du Polar. The first two books in a thriller series, THE DESIRE CARD and PREY NO MORE, are forthcoming from Fahrenheit Press in winter 2019. His pilots and screenplays have been finalists in Script Pipeline, Stage 32, We Screenplay, the New York Screenplay, Screencraft, and the Hollywood Screenplay contests. After graduating with an MFA from the New School, his writing has also appeared in the anthology DIRTY BOULEVARD, The Millions, The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, Essays & Fictions, The New Plains Review, and others. He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series (guerrillalit.wordpress.com). He lives in New York City. Follow him at leematthewgoldberg.com and @LeeMatthewG.

Book Description:

Any wish fulfilled for the right price. That's the promise the Desire Card gives to its elite clients. But if the Card doesn’t feel like they’ve been justly compensated, the “price” will be more menacing than the clients could ever imagine.   

Harrison Stockton learns this lesson all too well. Harrison has lived an adult life of privilege and excess: a high-powered job on Wall Street along with a fondness for alcohol and pills, and a family he adores, yet has no time for. All of this comes crashing to a halt when he loses his executive job and discovers he has liver cirrhosis with mere months left to live.

After finding himself far down on the donor list, Harrison takes matters into his own hands. This decision sparks a gritty and gripping quest that takes him to the slums of Mumbai in search of a black market organ and forces him under the Desire Card’s thumb. When his moral descent threatens his wife and children, Harrison must decide whether to save himself at any cost, or do what’s right and put a stop to the Card.

THE DESIRE CARD is a taut international thriller that explores what a man will do to survive when money isn’t always enough to get everything he desires. It’s the first book in a series followed by PREY NO MORE that focuses on other people indebted to this sinister organization, where the actual price is the cost of one’s soul.


On Writing

Welcome, Lee!  Your crime/suspense novel, The Desire Card, sounds thrilling!  Why did you decide to write a whole series around a sinister organization where the actual price of being in the organization is the cost of one’s soul?
                
Lee: The sinister organization has a motto, Any wish fulfilled for the right price. The book came about when I thought of a character so desperate to attain his wish that he would do anything for it. And of course, some evil company would come up with idea to make money off of desperation.  

On Characters

Can you tell us a little about the main characters in The Desire Card?

Lee: The main character is Harrison Stockton, who works on Wall Street in Mergers & Acquisitions. He has a wife Helene and two kids who he never sees. His goal in glife has been the sole pursuit of money along with drinking and pills. When he finds out his has liver cirrhosis, he assums he can just pay to get to get a new one. But after being placed far down on the donor list, he resorts to more unsavory measures to get a new liver.  

On Pivotal Point

They say all books of fiction have at least one pivotal point where the reader just can’t put the book down. What is one of the pivotal points in your book?

Lee: There are a few big twists in the book that the readers will not see coming. One takes place about halfway through. The other about 2/3rds into it and then a final big twist at the end. I like twists so if someone reads a book a second time they can see all the clues that foreshadow the twists. And thrillers must keep readers turning the pages.

On Message

Do your novels carry a message or written for pure entertainment?

Lee: I would say entertainment first, message second. I want readers to be transported into another world but also to think. I would say this book is a literary thriller. It is certainly a page-turner, but also about morality. We might think we know our own morals, but in times of desperation, we might not be as ethically sound as we think.

On Cover

Can you tell us what was it like when you saw your book cover for the first time?

Lee: I just saw it! I absolutely love it. It is ominous and eye-catching. The design team at Fahrenheit Press did a fantastic job getting the feel for the book. 
    
On Growing Up

What did you want to become when you were a kid?

Lee: I have always wanted to be a writer. Since I was about six, I was writing stories. I remember one about my dog and a cat staying at a spooky hotel.

On Happy Place to Write

Where is your happy place when you are writing? You know – the place where imagination flows and a feel good environment to write your books?

Lee: My happy place is definitely writing in Central Park, which I call my outdoor office. From about April through November, I have a few spots in the park where I bring my laptop and write under a tree. The Desire Card was written during a mild winter where I bundled up and wrote it wearing gloves.

On Happy Place to Unwind

Where is your happy place when you just want to unwind?

Lee: I love the beach and to travel. Traveling is really the only time I take a break from writing. I love Santa Monica beach. I go there a lot.
  
On Final Thoughts

Is there anything you’d like to tell your readers and fans?

Lee: If you are looking for a fast-paced, high-stakes thriller that will also make you think, The Desire Card is for you. It will also be the first book in a series. The second book Prey No More will be coming out soon. I have finished a draft of the third book and I am working on the fourth book right now, which is an origin story of the sinister organization set in 1978.


Tuesday, March 19, 2019

A Conversation with M.D. Fryson, Author of 'Meridian Chronicles: Black Widow Curse & The Coven' @madelyn_fryson #interview

March 19, 2019 0 Comments


Meridian couldn’t help but keep looking at the ghost.  John took her by the hand and helped her walk to the back where the bathrooms were.  John was kissing Meridian all over, and it was obvious that he wanted more.  Relic and the rest of the guides, along with Luna, walked to the bathrooms and watched.  Meridian and John had gone into a bathroom stall, and he began to pull her underwear down from underneath her skirt. As the pair continued to get to know each other in the stall, the ghosts hovered above and watched with a look of concern.”

--From Meridian Chronicles: Black Widow Curse & The Coven by M.D. Fryson

M.D. Fryson is a wife and mom to three boys as well as an animal lover especially horses she used to ride, train and show. Her favorite books are anything astrology, self help, motivation, romance and humor. She loves chocolate, coffee and her family (not in that order), and the beach. She likes to garden, hike, jog, swim and travel. Her most recent release is the paranormal romance, Meridian Chronicles: Black Widow Curse & The Coven. The third installment to this series comes out September 2019 and she is nearly finished with the last book to the series that comes out in 2020.

Meridian Chronicles 2
Book Description:
 MERIDIAN’S curse has left her in a state all her own of amnesia. She is on Earth lost and afraid with only fragments to piece together her mysterious circumstance. The curse has taken the unimaginable from her, but that is just scratching the surface. The Black Widow curse will reveal itself through the demon’s riddle, the Coven and the Fairy Nymphs.

A trip back to Salem is just what the psychic ordered, but treachery lurks with an ex coven member who calls on demons. The demon realm offers more riddles than answers, but a stroke of luck from the high demon court, brings in a sophisticated demon, Lahash who has grown tired of the games.
The curse hides Meridian's identity and her memory will unlock the Universal secret of her twin soul to find her way home. As Meridian finds Aiden so do the impacts of her curse and what it could do to their budding relationship.

Meridian’s soul and fate are in the cross hairs, while the odds rise between the demons, witches and the fairies.

Finally having found Aiden, the Fairy Queen comes through to send aid to Meridian, but she still doubts herself and contemplates running away from it all. Who is Meridian's twin soul? Will she go back to Etheria or will the curse reign down on Meridian?

Find out in this dark and twisted paranormal romance.

Interview:

Welcome, M.D.!  Your new paranormal romance series sounds thrilling! Can you tell us how you came up with the idea?
M.D.:  Hello and thank you Richard for the invitation for the interview!  The core of the story is around the protagonist, Meridian who is a realm born spirit guide, in that she was born of her realm of Etheria, versus how the majority of the spirit guides came to be, through the process of living several lives, learning their lessons the universe has sent for them, so that they can at some point, transcend to becoming a guide, to watch over human kind.


Meridian is young in terms of the time in a realm born guides existence that they are released to watch over humans.  She doesn’t get that chance because in the first book Hall of Souls & The Book of the Fairies, she is cast out by the realms leader who has his own secrets and covert agenda.  As she arrives on Earth, she doesn’t recall much of her previous life and she is very much like a child in that, she doesn’t understand what being a human is like and the situations that present their selves.
The idea came to me, from my own life experiences in that the curse is a bit figurative for how I felt about myself in a dark time in my life. Many people that I have had an experience with, gave rise to the traits in many characters, good and bad.  Which brings me to my next point. 

Life is full of good and bad and I think for me, being able to write a genre I love, fantasy, wrapping up elements of my own views, feelings and experiences into fictional characters while weaving a couple of messages in the story was how I came up with the idea.


The ideas and concepts of a past life, reincarnation and karma is something that a lot of people believe in.  Many believe that there are other beings at work such as guardian angels, spirits etc., so I wrapped them into the story as well.  Having been exposed to a plethora of beliefs, there are some I find easier to write about.  It isn’t necessarily that I believe in all of them, but I appreciate the different view points and they make up the world we live in.  I wanted the story to be fantasy/paranormal but in a way that hopefully some readers could relate too.
Can you tell us a little about the main characters?
M.D.:I mentioned Meridian.  She goes through quite some prolific changes through the series. There are two more books to this series (and I am thrilled that I am finished writing them already, now just editing) Anyway, another character is Aiden, he is inspired by my husband from his physical features all the way to his music taste and a little of his background.  His wonderful personality is in there, right along with a bit of his sarcastic side. 

Relic, a spirit guide who in his previous life, was a rock star.  If someone were to ask me how to describe him, my husband shouted out, that Relic reminded him of a guitar player from Motley Crue, Nikki Sixx.  I decided that was pretty close.  His personality is very sarcastic, witty and he is very full of himself, but he is tolerated by his group because deep down he is a good spirit, he just doesn’t like to be vulnerable. In a way, a lot of his banter is inspired by my husband who is very witty.

Selena is the Fairy Queen and what can I say, she is very cold and calculating in the first book, but some events that take place between her daughter and her, humble her a bit and in the second book readers will get to see her go through the realizations that despite she may feel strongly about certain things, she needs to help the spirit guides and win her daughter’s approval.  She has the power to turn spirit guides back from fallen, that the leader of Etheria has cast to Earth as a form of a demon.

Warrick is the main antagonist, but in this book I introduce another one, a witch named Raina.  Now she is certainly a dark witch with an agenda and she finds out Meridian’s secret and wants to capitalize on that for her own reasons.


Warrick is the leader of Etheria who is threated by Meridian and the gifts she has yet to realize about herself.  He carries a big secret in the first book, that in this book, gets exposed. I can’t tell you or it would spoil the story!
They say all books of fiction have at least one pivotal point where the reader just can’t put the book down. What is one of the pivotal points in your book?
I would say when Warrick’s identity and the way to break Meridian’s curse is exposed through a ritual conducted by the Queen and other fairy nymphs along with a witch coven in Salem.  They help Meridian unlock the mystery.
Do you proofread and edit your work on your own or pay someone to do it for you?
M.D.: Yes.  After I get the first draft, I reread and rewrite for the second draft.  My last book I wrote, I sent to beta readers and then had a small rewrite and proof read before it went to the editor.  After that comes back, I rewrite again for another draft, it goes to the editor.  Then I reread, then to a proofreader then I reread again before I am finished.  Whew!
Do you believe a book cover plays an important role in the selling process?
M.D.:  Very much so.  I believe when a readers sees the cover, it generates a feeling and an idea.  I think that it is important to convey the tone of the story through the cover, so that a reader can feel for their selves and carry with them through the pages as they read.
What did you want to become when you were a kid?
M.D.:  Well, an astronaut!  To this day I binge watch the space channel because to me the Universe is fascinating to me in that there is so much out there that we have yet to discover.  If I had it to do over again, I would have studied to become an astrophysicist.   But I settled for a Business Degree in Marketing, because math was too scary for me! That degree has allowed me to have experiences in the investments/management and advertising worlds.  
Do your novels carry a message?
M.D.:  Absolutely!  Now I will say that aside from the message, my books all end in cliffhangers, (you have been warned)  My life at one point felt like a never-ending precession of cliffhangers, so I have to be true to myself when I write.


 However, in the books and through out the series, the message I convey is that no matter how far you fall off track, that there is always hope no matter how dark it gets and there is always a light at the end of the tunnel if you simply look and push through the hard times.  Life is a gift and we can either allow our mistakes to define and rule us, or we can choose to be an inspiration to someone who may have went through something similar.  Taking the high road isn’t the hard part.  Finding the high road to me is the toughest and once you are there, keep going. The energy we put out into the world always finds its way back, just may take some time.
Is there anything you’d like to tell your readers and fans?
M.D.: If you get the chance to read the book, I hope you enjoy it!

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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Book Feature: Love and the Mystery of Betrayal by Sandra Lee Dennis, PhD

March 13, 2019 0 Comments



LOVE AND THE MYSTERY OF BETRAYAL by Sandra Lee Dennis, Relationships/Spiritual/Self-Help, 290 pp., $19.95 (paperback) $9.99 (Kindle)




Betrayal of love inflicts a unique, unprecedented pain you can only comprehend once you have experienced it. If you are suffering from an intimate betrayal, you know. Betrayal is stunning. It is mind-boggling. You feel paralyzed, mystified, enraged, panicked, bewildered; but, mostly, you hurt. Betrayal is a make-or-break event that marks a cataclysmic divide in your life. It changes you. When you believe in someone so completely and then realize they have been deceiving you about their love and loyalty, the worst thing happens: Your faith in yourself crumbles. The shock lifts a veil from your eyes, and you can never see yourself or the world in the same way again.

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In the messiness and ignorance of our humanity we struggle to cope with the demands of being human. We all make mistakes, especially in our closest relationships. Everyone can recall times of disappointment with friends, companions, family members, advisors, teachers, or coworkers when we have felt betrayed or betrayed others or ourselves. We gain self-knowledge and learn to apologize and to forgive as we work through the many ways we let each other down. There are minor, everyday betrayals, and then there are the life-exploding disclosures that I explore in this book, the ones that break your heart, fracture your world, and threaten to destroy your soul. I specifically address betrayal in love—a shattering of trust by the one you have been most
intimate with and relied on to protect you from harm.

If you are suffering from an intimate betrayal, you know. Betrayal is stun-ning. It is mind-boggling. It traumatizes you and upends your life. Mostly, it hurts. Betrayal inflicts a unique, unprecedented pain you can only compre-hend once you have experienced it. Interpersonal trauma changes you. It lifts a veil from your eyes, and you can never see the world in the same way again. Yet we live in a culture that is blind to both the depth of wounding and the heart-expanding potential of such a blow.

Before your trust was shattered, you lived shielded from the indescribable pain you feel now that the veil has lifted. Such havoc betrayal wreaks, the multilayered torments of body, mind, and soul are so extreme that it can feel like nothing less than torture. No wonder we tend to turn away, minimize, and bury the hurt. If you are like me, you also do not want anyone to know what is happening to you. It is humiliating and maddening to be in pain, obsessing about someone that has left, deceived, or cheated on you. You can begin to feel like a character in One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Friends and family tend to look the other way, too. No one likes to see a person so out of control of their destiny.




I know because I had the veil lifted from my eyes, in a familiar way known to many. The man I loved left me. With virtually no warning, my partner of six years walked out a few weeks before a big wedding we had planned. When he went from “I’ll love you forever” one day to “I’m finished with you” the next, it stopped my world. His wholly unanticipated exit from our home and my life led me to suffer more than I believed was humanly possible. At the same time, the distress awakened depths of my heart that took my capacity to love into uncharted territory.

Meanwhile, friends and family advised me to get over it and move on as quickly as possible. They were right, I reasoned, I would move on…I tried, but it was not to be. Once the initial shock lessened, I began to grasp that my trust in life had disappeared. My entire world had suddenly turned hostile, or so it seemed, because of the faithlessness of one person—albeit one very central person, the one I had counted most in the world to be there and care for me. His abrupt about-face marked a cataclysmic divide in my life.

Prior to the moment he walked out, I had considered myself a together, self-aware person. After he left, I was more like a delusional broken heap. I put on a self-assured face, but wandered around like a Swiss cheese, shot full of holes, bewildered, with a secret, stabbing pain in my heart. I vacil-lated between rage, panic, and bouts of grief. Often I could not stop crying. Falling apart was to be expected—“everybody has been there”—after a tough breakup. But the problem was, as time went on, my condition got worse, not better. Instead of a few weeks or months, it went on for years.

I could not comprehend why I had gone from competent professional to terrified, whimpering child, unable to do much of anything, let alone “move on.” It was only later that I realized this was no ordinary breakup. Eventually, I realized how deeply I had been traumatized, and that the nightmare of post-traumatic stress had set in.

Mine is not an obvious or sensational horror story of betrayal and abuse. I was not hit, or cheated on, raped or stolen from, yelled at, or bullied into submission, not even abandoned dramatically at the altar. I wrote this book to help show how relational trauma these days is often not obvious. Many of us have become too educated, smooth, or sophisticated for such overt aggres-sion. The damage to my trust and the erosion of the quality of my life came from mind-bending subtleties, primarily half-truths concealed as exceptional honesty: from bouts of seduction and warmth laced with withholding and withdrawal; insincere profusions of praise, affection and loyalty, interspersed with blame and criticism; important omissions of personal history; sexual manipulation masked as the deepest love; systematic devaluation; and finally



a complete Jekyll-and-Hyde character reversal. Abandonment and replace-ment were only the final and most obvious blows to my sanity and stability.

Emotional abuse and mental cruelty can be more damaging than blatant physical abuse because, at least when someone beats you, or cheats on you, it is clearly their problem. When you have a dagger plunged into your heart while being held in a loving embrace, on the other hand, you do not know what hit you. When you are betrayed with charm and a smile, it is stunning and crazy making. If you have given the benefit of the doubt to and believed in your partner, it can take a long time to get the hook out and make sense of your world again. Meanwhile, you wonder if you are fit any longer for human company, or if you should have yourself committed for observation.

As I tried to make sense of what happened, my mind flooded with ques-tions. Perhaps the most painful was, “How could I not have seen this com-ing?” When you believe in someone so completely and then realize they have been deceiving you about their love and loyalty, the worst thing happens: Your faith in yourself crumbles. The instincts you relied on to perceive and under-stand your world have misled you, and you do not know how you will ever be able to trust yourself again. It alarmed me when I realized I had lost faith, not only in myself, but also in other people—and, most disturbingly, in life itself.

My heart goes out to you if you are in a similar situation. Perhaps what I share will help you sort through the bewilderment and confusion, regain trust in your own perceptions, and get through the worst. I had lived a lot of life and had a lot of psychological experience and inner resources when this ax fell. If anyone “should” have seen this coming and been prepared when it did, it was I. But I was not at all prepared.

To make it through this ordeal, I turned instinctively to my spiritual prac-tices: mindfulness meditation, inquiry, yoga. I coped by sitting for hours each day, breathing and watching the chaos, tracking sensations, thoughts, and feelings. I was astonished at how much I learned—more, I thought, in two years than I had in the ten previous. As a former college psychology professor, and a teacher at heart, passing on what I learn comes almost as second nature.

I did a lot of research in the effort to understand what I was going through. I read hundreds of books and talked to scores of people. I researched a wide range of subjects and touch on many here—trauma, posttraumatic stress, domestic violence, subtle-body experiences, attachment theory, projection and splitting, death and dying, faith and conscience, grief and forgiveness, Buddhist meditation and Christian contemplation and prayer. I found that prescriptions and advice abound on how to survive the loss of love, to heal from a broken heart, to endure a dark night of the soul, to put your life back




together, and to move on after being betrayed or abandoned. But for a long time, I found little that validated my extreme experiences.

Those around me, and even I, considered being abandoned by the person I intended to spend the rest of my life with an unfortunate, but minor event to be swept aside and forgotten, the sooner, the better. After all, people readily recover from far worse things. Conventional wisdom, I discovered, was way off with its clichéd treatment of heartbreak and betrayal as minor blips on the screen of life that you tend to for a while before moving on to better things.

The shame I felt about the depth and duration of the pain, along with the fact my friends, family, and even counselors did not understand, encour-aged my silence. The lingering effects on those of us who receive such a shock become a secret we do not want to share with anyone. We even want to hide the life-changing repercussions from ourselves. Amidst my struggle to recover, I recognized that many who had undergone similar experiences had simply shut down. For a time, I feared I would do the same. The continuing torment of having my heart torn out by someone I believed loved me deeply and to whom I had committed my love and life was just too much to bear.

When you hurt this much, instinctively you want to help make it less difficult for anyone else in pain. I never set out to write this book, but once it started pouring out of me, I felt how much I wanted to bring more light to the facts of what an experience like this actually does to a person. There was so much to learn about this underrated trauma—the “most difficult of all woundings,” as one author put it. I decided to base this book first on immer-sion into the lived experience, a type of phenomenological research. I believe this approach led to the emergence of a more nuanced perspective and a deeper understanding than a study based on analysis and theory alone could offer.

The orientation that guided me was to turn with curiosity toward the suf-fering, rather than stifling the pain or distracting myself. This approach will be familiar to many spiritual seekers and to those who have struggled to come to terms with great loss—the way out is through the darkness. What it takes to make this turn, to go from theory to practice in the midst of prolonged psychological pain, tells an unforeseen story for each of us.

Taken to heart this way, I found betrayal to be an initiation into an unknown self. The shock launches the betrayed on a “night sea journey,” that stage in spiritual growth known in mystical traditions as a dark night of the soul. In this mythological descent you are taken suddenly into deep waters and swallowed up by a sea dragon. Like Jonah, you are stripped bare and robbed of what is dearest to your heart. The metaphors of darkness and night apply because you do not know what is happening. You feel as if you must be dying



and you are. Some part of your old nature is being shorn away to make way for the new you cannot imagine, and over which you have no control.

Ultimately, we each have to find our own way in the dark, until we are thrown back onto land and the light of day. I share my truth, knowing no one can tell another what it takes to welcome this unwanted journey. It took me years to recover myself, and I fought it all the way, but I finally came to recog-nize that betrayal and trust form two poles of experience. Apparently, we can-not embrace one until we have drunk deeply of the other. Through destroying my trust, and taking me into more suffering than I had ever known, betrayal catalyzed a transformation inside that awakened qualities of faith, compas-sion, and love I barely imagined were possible.

During the long days and nights of blame and rage, of tears and star-ing off into space, beneath my awareness, strange mystic moments penetrated through the pain. These elusive flashes of truth, fleeting at first, but arrest-ing, planted seeds of renewed faith and trust in the ground of my own raw heart. With time, against all instinct, I learned to embrace the humiliation and heartbreak as the terrain I needed to pass through in order to deepen into secrets of a love my soul was hungry to taste.

Never before had I felt such intimate kinship with life around me. Never had my heart beaten in such rhythm with others in pain. Never had I sensed such a fervent need not to harm anyone else with my actions. Never had I felt the vast sadness I had carried in my bones my entire life. Never before had I sensed the touch of the “hands of light” comforting me, or the gentle power of the earth and sky supporting me, or the tender stirrings in my heart of what I could only call divine love flowing toward me.

All this took time, much more than I approved of. Meanwhile I thought the pain would never end. A turning point in my struggles came when I began to question the true source of my torments. One day, in one of those flashes, I intuited that the obvious villain—the person who had hurt me so griev-ously—had been but an instrument in the hands of an unseen destiny. I real-ized the peace I needed to make was not with my errant partner, but with my own heart, my fate, my God. The insight came and went, but the truth had touched my core.

While each story of love’s betrayal is unique, as are the individuals involved, betrayal is an archetypal experience. It is an event that we each carry in our collective memory, from the moment of being born into this world. Because of its archetypal core, the study of betrayal’s dynamics and impact has something to teach us all. If, however, you have been spared the trial of an intimate betrayal, what I describe may not make much sense to you. It may seem extreme, exaggerated, even melodramatic. That would have been



the case for me before I passed through this ordeal. I would not have had the slightest interest in a book such as this one. I had no idea.

For this reason, I offer this book primarily, and believe it will be most help-ful, for those who have been betrayed, now or in the past, by someone they loved and trusted; and for those wishing to help another navigate these waters. I offer my story and my perspective, along with the results of my research, not as an authority, but as a fellow traveler. I offer companionship, validation, and solace if you are going through this harrowing time. I admit right now that in the extended darkness, I despaired of ever trusting or caring enough to engage life again. While I hoped against hope that the proverbial “pearl of great price” was waiting to be found in the ruins of my torn-up heart, my doubts were grave. I chronicle many of those doubts here.

I can report that finally the miracle of saying yes to what I wanted least in my life did take root in my soul. To my surprise, the shattering of my world had magnetized a grace that was teaching me how and what to trust. As I write now, nearly five years later, recovering myself is a work in progress. But I have learned the greatest lesson in my life to date. Deep suffering invites us into mystery: The pain speaks a message we need and long to hear. The rage and yearning are prayers for truth, for love. At the point of utmost brokenness, I did indeed find a golden pearl—the longing cry of my own heart for a love that endures, a greater, divine love that cannot and does not die.

Please let my words resonate with your own experience where and how they will. I know I cannot speak for what anyone else is going through. But I trust that the universal core of this journey into and through the heart broken in love will ring true for many. I wish for you, too, to find your gold.

*  *      *          *          *

This book is divided into four parts, some of which may only be of interest to certain readers. Part I revolves around the shock and shattering of intimate betrayal. In terms of a rite of passage, this section deals primarily with the radical separation from one’s past life a traumatic betrayal initiates. Included in this section is the overall narrative of “my story” (chapters 1 and 2) and of my early efforts to cope with the trauma and make sense of what happened. Some may be inclined to skip the story segments. Starting with chapter 3, I discuss the psychological dynamics of betrayal and introduce a number of themes, such as recognizing and coping with the ego-shattering trauma, and the spiritual perspective that will be developed more fully later in the book.

Part II shifts the focus to the mystery of relationship itself. I explore the impact on the subtle body of intimate relationship through the lens both of my husband’s death and of the abandonment that impelled me to write this


book. This is a section that I imagine will be most accessible to other women. Sexual bonding, wounds to the etheric body, adultery, the role of psychologi-cal projection in intimate relating are all considered. This section also includes a discussion of the cultural blindness to betrayal.

Part III focuses directly on the dark night or threshold phase of initiation: the shock and suffering. I begin with an in-depth discussion of the trauma and dive into the details of the dark night passage, including the opening up of earlier trauma, infantile and existential, the unloading of the unconscious, a travelogue through isolation, fear, shame, rage, helplessness, meaninglessness, and more. The spiritual perspective emerges as acceptance of pain becomes a prayer of the heart.

By Part IV the book moves more directly into the shift to the awaken-ing heart that is taking place. I chronicle the grief that pours forth as the deep heart opens, explore the role of conscience, and grapple more fully with forgiveness. The desperation of the dark time leads gradually to surrender, to prayer, to the acceptance of grace and love, and finally I discuss the challenges of the return to ordinary life coming back from the descent. If you are inter-ested in the narrative, read the book from the beginning. Otherwise, please just dip into topics of interest to you.

*  *      *          *          *

Because I write from personal experience, I speak from the perspective of a woman betrayed by a man. I am, of course, aware that women play out this same dynamic with men and other women, and that men betray other men. I have chosen the orientation of a woman speaking to other heterosexual women for the sake of consistency, and because it best reflects what I have lived. I believe that our common humanity transcends gender, and that the descriptions of betrayal as an often unwitting abuse of power on the psycho-logical level, as well as an initiation into the mysteries of heart on the spiritual, will also resonate for those in same-sex relationships and for men betrayed by a woman. That said, please forgive whatever gender bias has slipped into the telling.

I ask your forgiveness also for whatever blame, harshness, or hurt may still accompany my tone with regard to “the betrayer.” I have tried my best to restrain the impulse to character assassination, and, I think, have at least partially succeeded: but I have plenty of blind spots, I am sure. Opening to the compassionate heart that can hold it all in love is a work in progress, the work of a lifetime.


Please be forewarned that I often use the word God in this writing. I use God to refer to the unknowable mystery that animates our world. Other terms that point to the same indescribable source of life include: Spirit, cre-ator, Christ or Buddha nature, the Divine, Atman, Allah, Holy Spirit, source, Higher Power, Divine Mother, the Tao, the mystery, love, truth, silence, still-ness. Maybe these words should all be capitalized to indicate a compelling, alive presence, both independent and yet part of us. Some people by tempera-ment experience this reality as a presence or a being, others as a place, or a state of mind. My inclination is toward the personal. In this writing, they are all pointers—to the living love that surrounds us, the creative source of all that is.
 





SANDRA LEE DENNIS, PhD, is an author, teacher and explorer of the interplay of depth psychology and spirituality. She holds an MA in Psychology and a PhD in Integral Studies/ Psychology and Religion. She has been on the faculty of several universities, as well as the San Francisco Jung Institute.

Sandra’s writings bridge the world of scholar and visionary. She loves to bring light to those subtle interior spheres that defy description, and can appear frightening or unreal to the logical mind.  Her deep-diving explorations have helped many to “translate their darkness” — to name and bring compassion to their grief, anger, confusion and pain.

She was a teacher in the Gurdjieff tradition for many years, an Ananda Yoga instructor, and a long-time student of Diamond Heart work.  Currently, she is enjoying life in the Bay Area.

Website Address: www.sandraleedennis.com
Blog Address: http://www.sandraleedennis.com/healing-a-broken-heart-blog/
Twitter Address: https://twitter.com/Sandraleedennis
Facebook Address: https://www.facebook.com/SandraLeeDennisAuthor





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