Thursday, January 29, 2015

Mother of a Millionaire by Raoji Patel Book Feature

Mother of a MillionaireTitle: Mother of a Millionaire
Author: Raoji Patel
Publisher: iUniverse
Pages: 238
Genre: Biography/Autobiography
Format: Ebook/Paperback
Purchase at AMAZON

 Children of Indian descent often move to the United States in search of a better life. Other Indian children, born in America, are often materially successful, but they lose touch with the values of traditional Indian culture, including a deep love and respect for parents and gratitude for the parents loving sacrifices to aid them on their life’s path. In Mother of a Millionaire, author Raoji (Ray) M. Patel provides insight into the issues, both Indian children and their parents face, as they make their home in a new country with different customs and ways of living through eleven short stories. In some stories, a spouse’s selfishness creates a rift within the family. In a few cases, the sons rebel against the parents’ interfering ways, and they grow apart from their parents, or they simply banish the parents from their lives. In other stories, a father slips from his patriarchal responsibilities, creating family discord and a loss of respect. This collection of short stories shows how Indian parents strongly believe forgiveness—one of the most difficult challenges to face—makes one happier and healthier and frees one from sin. But as an ancient Indian scripture says, forgiveness is “the greatness of the great” because it creates unprecedented greatness in the forgiver.


Raoji (Ray) M. Patel earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering from MS University of Baroda, India, and a master’s degree in industrial engineering from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Patel is a retired small businessman cum engineer, and lives in Northern California with his wife Sushila and two adult children.

Raoji is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Amazon Gift Certificate or Paypal Cash.
  • This giveaway begins January 266 and ends on February 6.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on Monday, February 9.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Interview with Marija Bulatovic, Author of ‘FANTASTICAL: Tales of Bears, Beer and Haemophilia’

Marija Bulatovic 2014Please welcome Marija Bulatovic, debut author of the memoir, FANTASTICAL: Tales of Bears, Beer and Haemophilia. Born in Yugoslavia in the 1970s, Marija immigrated to the U.S. in the 1990s just ahead of the 1990s Yugoslav wars and the breakup of the country.  She’s an accomplished business professional with years of experience driving enterprise business with Fortune 500 companies, and a graduate from Colgate University. She currently lives in Seattle with her husband and son.
Welcome to Blogcritics, Marija! Tell us, what compelled you to write this memoir?
My inspiration for writing FANTASTICAL: Tales of Bears, Beer and Haemophilia was to provide amusement, lift spirits from the mundane set of activities and transport readers to another place and time, fantastical in my memory, that has vanished from the map but not the mind.
My goal was also to tell stories about 1980s Yugoslavia, this beautiful country and time that was magical and very special to those of us who had the opportunity to be touched by the richness of its people, culture, its Slavic soul that embraces melancholy with a twinkle in the eye.
What was the hardest part while writing it?
I really loved writing these stories and would wake up delighted every day to have an opportunity to share them with the broader audience.
The hardest part was entrusting this very personal work of passion to others to polish it and help me bring it forward.  Many people are involved along the authoring process and finding quality experts to edit, illustrate, layout, publicize FANTASTICAL was the most challenging part.
I was very fortunate to identify very talented experts to help me bring FANTASTICAL to my readers.
What obstacles or fears must a memoir writer face? Any tips on how to overcome them?
Front Cover hi resI think the biggest concern is whether or not the audience will also find these personal stories and memories interesting and engaging, as does the author.  Obviously, this is very personal and potent material for the author, but the goal is to make them personal and interesting to readers that generally have little or no connection to the time, space and characters described.
As for the tips, let people in your circle of friends and family occasionally read parts of your memoir and get their honest reaction. If they feel engaged, the rest of the audience will likely feel the same way.  I used to like to ask: was reading this a good use of your time?
What makes a good memoir?
A good memoir is more than just recounting of the historical records.  It’s a work of passion, part tribute, part love letter to a time, place and people that the author holds dear.  At the same time, it can’t be narcissistic.  Its charm is to bring all of those elements together and engage, involve, amuse and transport the reader into another world.
Do you also enjoy reading memoirs? If yes, would you recommend a few good titles?
Yes, I do enjoy reading memoirs and learning about other people’s lives and experiences. I really loved and delighted in Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie and Poehler’s Yes, Please.
How did you feel when you finished writing your story?
Elated that I’ve been able to pen something that I deeply believe others can enjoy and benefit from.  My hope with FANTASTICAL has always been to provide a positive, good experience to my readers and take them on a wild journey of dancing bears, gypsies, black and white magic, outrageous gossip, with a healthy dose of dark humor.
I also hope that readers will get a sense of curiosity about another time, place and enjoy some of the cultural elements FANTASTICAL presents.
Finally, I wish for my readers to experience some of that Balkan stardust in their lives too and to believe that life is more than a sum of mundane activities, but it’s rich with love, connection and wonderment.
What advice would you give to aspiring memoir writers?
Just do it! Write your book, engage deeply with your project, commit to your work of passion and see what happens.  Most likely, more good things will happen than if you don’t embark on the journey.  And most importantly, Good Luck!
My interview was originally published in Blogcritics

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Fading Shadows by Abettina Dell'Orfano Morano Book Feature

Title: Fading Shadows
Author: Abettina Dell'Orfano Morano
Publisher: iUniverse
Pages: 582
Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: Ebook/Paperback
 Purchase at AMAZON

 The author would like to invite the reader to take a journey with her back in time. I am writing this novel about my family who lived in the late 1800s. My parents, Michael and his wife Filomena Dell’Orfano, were born 1878 and 1882, respectively. Chusiano di San Domenico d’ Avellino is a small town in the Province of Avellino in the Region of Campania in Naples, Italy. Raffael and Camella Dell’Orfano lived there with their sons, Massimeno and Michele. The Dell’Orfano family and others in that area were identified as Bianco or “whiteheads“ due to their fair skin, blond and red haired. During the day, the boys went to school and afterward worked in the fields, and learned the value of hard work at a young age. Later, Michele became interested in a young lady by the name of Filomena, though his father disapproved. After a longtime disagreement between father and son, Michele, decided to marry his long time girl friend, Filomena, and left the homestead where he was born and raised. Later, Michele made his way to America, to build a new life for his family. Creating a new identity is never easy. They struggled, but their love keeps them strong as they remember the old country and looked forward to their new land.


Abettina Dell’Orfano Morano is the last of eleven children in her family. She worked as a medical assistant and was a certified licensed phlebotomist. Later, Abettina worked for the Registration Board of Medicine for Doctors and Nurses at the State House in Boston, Massachusetts.

Abettina is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Amazon Gift Certificate or Paypal Cash.
  • This giveaway begins January 19 and ends on January 30.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on Monday, February 2.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Interview with Mike Hartner, author of I, James

Mike Hartner was born in Miami in 1965. He's traveled much of the continental United States. He has several years post secondary education, and experience teaching and tutoring young adults. Hartner has owned and run a computer firm for more than twenty-five years. He now lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, with his wife and child. They share the neighborhood and their son with his maternal grandparents.

Mike won first place blue ribbon for the 2013 Chaucer Award for Historical Fiction and first place blue ribbon for the 2013 Dante Rosetti Award in the YA category for I, Walter.

His latest book is the historical fiction/romance, I, James.
For More Information

Can you tell us what your book is about?  

I, James is the tory of James Crofter.  It is the second book in The Eternity Series.

Why did you write your book? 

I wrote this book as a proper sequel to Book One, I, Walter.   Walter, the title character of Book One is James’ father.

Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting

The two main characters are James Crofter, son of a Princess and an English commoner, and Rosalind, grand-daughter of a well-to-do English family, and daughter of a rogue.

Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination? 

I’ll say imagination.  They are real characters, but I don’t have adequate proof to show their records.

Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel or do you discover it as you write? 

Plot gets discovered as I’m writing.  Upon starting a book I know of one, maybe two, of the characters.  The rest comes during the write.

Your book is set on the waters of the Indian Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.  Can you tell us why you chose this setting in particular?

These waters were chosen because they were a continuation of Book One, where, at the end, James was kidnapped.

Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story? 

I believe setting always plays a major part in story development.  My settings, however, are usually a product of the characters, not the other way around.

Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

P.69 is in the middle of James’ slavery.  He is on a tobacco farm in east Africa, and is using his powers of observation to try to find was of escape.

Is it hard to get a historical fiction book published?

My books cross several different genres, including historical fiction, romance, historical romance, young adult, and memoir. Any one of those may be okay, but a book that crosses many of them needs special marketing.

Is it hard to promote a historical fiction book and where do you start?

I’ve started with blog tours, with Goodreads giveaways, and other online promotions.

Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?

Usually, when I suffer from writer’s block it means that there is something I’m trying to write that I need to learn more about.   I go back to the research and try to iron it out.

What would you do with an extra hour today if you could do anything you wanted?  

Write, write, write.

Which holiday is your favorite and why? 

All of them are favorites, because I enjoy spending time with my family.  But, if I had ot single one out, I think Christmas would be it

If we were to meet for lunch to talk books, where would we go?

Within walking distance of my home there are public libraries, and a very good seafood restaurant.  Either would work.

What do you like to do for fun? 

Write, spectate my son’s sports, DungeonMAster my sons DND adventures, bike, swim, bake, and work puzzles.

Can you tell us about your family?

My wife and I have been married  for close to 25 years.  We have a teenage son, and two eighty plus year old parents.

What do you like the most about being an author? 

My ability to put pen to paper and write new episodes in life.

What is the most pivotal point of a writer’s life? 

Reviews and feedback from the readers.

What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors? 

Several pieces of advice: 1) Write what you want (thank you, Rachel Thompson)… you don’t need anyone’s permission to write what you feel or want. 2) Edit, edit, edit.  Get a professional editor to help you to polish it so that your mss is the best it can be… and 3) Enjoy it.  Have fun writing it.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Rarity by D.A. Roach Book Feature

Rarity Title: Rarity
Author: D.A. Roach
Publisher: Amazon Digital
Pages: 197
Genre: Young Adult
Format: Paperback/Kindle

 It's her junior year at Stanton High. Brogen, an empathic teen, is looking forward to another uneventful year with her buddy Meg at her side. Meg and Brogen are not in the in-crowd, actually, they aren't in any crowd. They are content keeping a low profile and doing their own thing.

 But the first day of school brings Becca, the blonde babe, and Jay, the charismatic guy who doesn't fit any stereotype. These two new students pull Brogen out of her comfort zone and into a new social situation. And with the good parts of this new situation...comes the bad.

 Becca is attracted to Jay and is prepared to stomp on the competition when it comes to making Jay her boyfriend. Brogen wants no part of any high school drama, but life...or fate keeps putting Jay and Brogen on a path together. This puts a target on Brogen's back and she's not sure Jay is worth the wrath of Becca.

 As they journey through their school year, several life changing events alter the relationship between Jay and Brogen. But the question remains, should they give in to fate and give love a chance? Or fight it and take the easy road?

  For More Information
D.A. Roach lives in the midwest with her 3 kids and husband.  In her free time she enjoys reading, writing, music, and art.  She has had a diverse job list including teacher, pharmacist, and factory worker.  Her life is rich with vivid characters and stories and she enjoys taking inspiration from these characters and tales to create new stories.

  For More Information

 Visit D.A.’s website.
Connect with D.A. on Facebook 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Guest post by Linda DeFruscio, author of 'Cornered'

I have been a note taker all my life. I love details, and since they can get lost or minimized if you rely on memory alone, I make an effort to document them. I guess a diarist does basically the same thing. The difference might be that my record keeping is more immediate. When I want to remember something, I often jot it down right then and there, while events are still unfolding. This means I might have to write on a post-it or a napkin or even a paper plate. Another difference might be that I don’t try to lyricize my notes. I just write what I observe and the notes wind up in a box that I may never look at again.

On the other hand, some notes prove to be very useful. I had boxes and boxes of notes regarding my association with Dr. Richard J. Sharpe, the Harvard-educated physician who wanted to become known for finding a cure for cancer and instead became known as the “cross-dressing millionaire dermatologist who killed his wife.” My notes were about him, but they were about things going on in my life during the years I knew him too. And of course they covered the territory where our lives overlapped. Added to my notes were newspaper clippings regarding his crime, his trial, his incarceration, his suicide attempts and his death. I had copies of the Court TV tapes that introduced him to millions of viewers nationwide. I had notes regarding my conversations with the various other players in his life, including the many women who sought him out after his incarceration. I even had letters various women wrote to him while he was in prison. (He’d asked his brother to hold on to them, but when his brother became ill and realized he was going to die, they were sent to me for safekeeping; my reputation precedes me.)

My story of knowing Richard Sharpe is fairly incredible. He had been my friend long before he committed his terrible crime. I knew him as a man of science who was driven to do good in the world. Because he was a dermatologist and I was (and am) an electrologist and aesthetician, our business lives intersected. When hair-removing lasers first got FDA approval in 1997, Richard Sharpe had the foresight to see that they would be the next big thing and he bought a couple of them. He then formed a coalition, with 18 area skin care professionals, whereby he would lease his lasers to people like me who couldn't afford a laser of their own. Everybody made a ton of money during this time; making money was another aspect of his uncanny genius. But all of the new found wealth depended on him, and when he fell to pieces, the coalition went down like a house of cards.

After the crime, I didn’t want to talk to anyone, least of all Richard Sharpe. But he pleaded with me, through mutual acquaintances, to get in touch with him, not to turn my back on him in his darkest hour. It took a while, but I made the decision to continue to know him. Perhaps it was easier for me than for others because my father had been in and out of trouble for many years and I had visited him in prisons from a very young age. I already knew the protocols for entering a prison. More importantly, I already knew that you can hate what someone does and still find a way to care about the person.

My decision to remain friends with Richard Sharpe impacted my life in ways that were unimaginable to me at the time. I suffered a great deal of loss; and I gained a few insights too. I think any reader who has experienced shifts in their life as a result of their association with a difficult or strong-willed or mentally-ill person—whether it is a child or a spouse or a friend—will identify with my journey.

Even those who can’t imagine ever befriending a criminal are sure to be intrigued by my story. Certainly my clients and friends were. They asked me hundreds of questions about his activities while the drama was unfolding, and they continued asking me questions when they learned I was thinking of writing a book.

When I decided the time had come to actually start writing Cornered, I had all those boxes and boxes of notes to go back to. Then it was time to let lyricism play its part, leaving some incidents on the cutting room floor and gluing others together. Now I’m working on two other books, one about skin and hair care, and one a compilation of profiles of transgender people, many of them based on my transgender clients. Note taking, which began as a hobby for me many years ago, has apparently blossomed into something much more substantial.

Linda DeFruscio is the founder and president of A & A Laser, Electrolysis & Skin Care Associates in Newtonville, MA. In addition to Cornered, her memoir about her friendship with Richard Sharpe, she is currently writing a book on skin care and completing a book of profiles based on interviews with transgender people, many of whom are her clients. While Cornered is her first book, her skin care articles have been published in magazines for years. Connect with the author on Facebook and via her website.

About the Book

In the year 2000, Linda DeFruscio was forced to make an unthinkable decision. Someone whose genius she admired immensely, a business associate and dear friend, committed a terrible crime. In response, she could cut off their friendship and avoid the risk of losing friends, clients and her own peace of mind—or, she could trust her gut and try to save some aspect of her friend’s humanity.

Cornered is Linda DeFruscio’s story of her long and often complex association with Dr. Richard J. Sharpe, the millionaire dermatologist from Gloucester, MA who was convicted of killing his wife. Beautifully written and surprisingly tender, Corneredallows the reader an upfront view of the fragility of genius and the decline into madness, all while casting a second light on how one woman’s refusal to turn her back resulted in momentous changes in her own life.

Find out more on Amazon.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Chapter Reveal: ‘Going From Undisciplined to Self-Mastery: Five Simple Steps to Get You There’ by Harris Kern

self-mastery-198x300Genre: Non-Fiction
Author: Harris Kern
Publisher: Koehler Books
Going from Undisciplined to Self-Mastery is not a clone of all the other self-help books in the marketplace today. It is the proof not the hype. This book, based on hundreds of successful case studies featuring people from all walks of life, facilitated by the author’s life coaching and organization performance mentoring business to give them the discipline they needed to overcome the issues the author dubbed as The Dirty Dozen:
  • Severe procrastination
  • Failed goals
  • No motivation
  • No sense of urgency
  • Disorganized
  • Lack of structure
  • Not focused
  • Not managing sleep optimally
  • Poor performance
  • Poor time management
  • Lack of energy
  • Inconsistency
The author’s business focuses on helping people and organizations achieve self-mastery.
A key component for a successful life is acquiring discipline. The author believes that self-mastery is the defining element in your life. With it. you can achieve almost anything; without it you will struggle to exist.
To reach a level of self-mastery you first need to develop your self-discipline, by learning how to overcome The Dirty Dozen. The Five Steps you’ll need to take are:
  • Institute Structure
  • Prioritize Your Life
  • Manage Time
  • Hold Yourself Accountable
  • Seek Perfection
The author not only mentors his clients using these principles but he has actually been practicing what he preaches for more than four decades.
I was contacted by Roger Bengtsson after he searched the Internet using the keywords self-discipline and mentor. He sent me the following email:
“I’m not proud about my self-discipline lately. Too much television, no regular sleep rhythm, and so on. I’m ashamed. Not long ago I had self-discipline and I felt fine and I probably had my best days in life. And now, back to zero again. No goals, no hunger for a new day.”
He had other challenges:
  • Severe procrastination
  • Slept too much—nine-to-ten hours
  • Wasted two-to-three hours lounging around in bed every day
  • No motivation
  • No sense of urgency
  • Not energetic
His career was going nowhere. He was a security guard in Sweden. At the age of  forty-two his life seemed pretty dismal. His only consolation—he wasn’t alone. Most people I meet have very little, if any, self-discipline. No matter how intelligent or creative someone is, without being disciplined it is almost impossible to excel in life.  That’s why the self-help industry is a multi-billion dollar gold mine. So-called experts know that very few people become successful just by reading a book, listening to motivational audios or attending a seminar on success.
Roger was no different; he read several self-help books and was constantly listening to audios for inspiration,  everything he tried was a short-term fix. He needed more than canned advice. He needed a mentor who walks-the-talk, has a time-tested process and who could hold him accountable for his daily routines. He needed a roadmap—not a lecture.
Although we lived on different continents, I felt that I could turn his life around. This book is designed to take you on a similar journey from being an undisciplined casualty of bad habits, like Roger had been, into a master of your own fate. It will walk you through the time-proven five steps needed to become more productive and enthusiastic about life. These easy-to-follow steps you’ll take on this journey will help you develop the self-discipline you’ll need in order to live the rest of your life in a constant state of high level enthusiasm and purpose. Once you master all five of these steps, you will be able to combat the top issues affecting many people in the world today—I refer to them as The Dirty Dozen:
  • Severe procrastination
  • Failed goals
  • No motivation
  • No sense of urgency
  • Disorganized
  • Lack of structure
  • Not focused
  • Not managing sleep optimally
  • Poor performance
  • Poor time management
  • Lack of energy
  • Inconsistency
Even though this may seem like quite a list, really it’s just the tip of a very large iceberg. Individuals the world over are struggling every day to do more with less.
For your benefit, this book is divided into three major sections.
  • The first section is an Executive Overview. It highlights all Five Steps with simple flow diagrams and brief descriptions.
  • The second section describes the Five Steps in detail.
  • The third section highlights The Proof not the hype to help individuals and organizations get structured by featuring:
─   Easy to-follow process flow diagrams of the five steps.
─   Case studies from dozens of one-on-one life coaching sessions and actual organization consulting engagements from Fortune 500 companies.
─   Multiple examples and exercises to help you get proficient in time management.
─   Exercises to help you train your mind to hold yourself accountable.
In the event you are wondering just who would buy this book consider the following.
  • Every dieter, who can’t stick to a plan,
  • Everyone who wants to get into shape, but lacks the motivation,
  • Every college student going out into the world for the first time,
  • Every job seeker looking for that edge,
  • Sales managers who want to get more out of their team,
  • Real estate agents who need to remain disciplined through slow periods,
  • Companies that need to be more cost-effective,
  • Pretty much anyone or any organization that wants to be more productive.
Going from Undisciplined to Self-Mastery describes how to acquire the most important ingredient for optimal success in one’s lifetime: Discipline. Those who are willing to work hard to acquire discipline will not have aspirational roadblocks.
What does it look like? How does this system work? Here’s how we plotted a path for Roger.In the first half of the table below, I documented the actions taken to mentor Roger, and in the second half of the Table are the results attained from our one-on-one mentoring sessions.
Action Taken
1I facilitated an assessment of Roger over SKYPE. I asked approximately one hundred questions covering every area of his personal and professional life. The first step was to understand his strengths, weaknesses and goals. Once I completed my discovery exercise, we reviewed my findings and discussed a strategy to move forward. After the evaluation we established three priorities:careerhealth and relationships (family and girlfriend).
2I designed a strategy based on his goals and three new priorities. The strategy also included mentoring him to develop his self-discipline skills using the five steps highlighted in this book:
1.     Institute Structure
2.     Prioritize Your Life
3.     Manage Time
4.     Hold Yourself Accountable
5.     Seek Perfection
3We established a new routine to help Roger be more productive. I wanted him to treat everyday equally. My objective was to eventually train his mind so he can hold himself accountable . The routine included:
  • Training seven days a week.
  • Writing thirty minutes a day.
  • Practicing English daily.
  • Following and maintaining his to-do list every day!
  • Maintaining structure throughout the day.
  • Reducing sleep time from nine hours a day to six.
  • Eliminate lounging in bed.
  • Wake up with a purpose.
  • Focus on daily milestones not his goals.
4I continuously reminded him that it’s now or never, that the old Roger is dead and gone. He needed to quickly make up for the years of laziness. I wanted to instill a sense of urgency.
5I made sure he created a to-do list each evening.
6I held Roger accountable several times a day, even though he resided in Sweden, using SKYPE calls and email. We reviewed his milestones¾what worked and what didn’t work.
7I trained him to follow the same routine, to-do list and constantlyreminding him that he doesn’t want to go back to the lazy and unproductive Roger. We had many conversations throughout the week to ensure ongoing success.
1Roger is productive every day.
2He trains each day.
3Writes consistently, both blogs and books.
4He holds himself accountable.
5He makes every minute count.
·       No longer watches TV for hours at a time.
·       Doesn’t lounge around in bed.
·       Doesn’t procrastinate.
6New goals are thoroughly planned with realistic milestones.
7He’s always organized and clutter-free, which allows him to be creative and even more productive.

How it Started

My neighbor, Jim Jarman, was in his forties when I was thirteen. What a specimen: intelligent, handsome, exercised every day, great physique. I looked up to him.
On one of those typical warm summer California days, Jim was outside mowing the lawn with his shorts on and his shirt off. We would always be clowning around together, trading sarcasm. On this particular day, he said the five magic words to me that changed my life forever: “Harris, you look like shit.”  (As you can imagine, we were pretty good friends.)
I could tell immediately that he was serious. He was right; I knew it. At the time, I stood six feet tall and weighed 135 pounds.  If I turned sideways, you would not be able to see me. I was that skinny. It was a disgusting sight!
I looked at Jim and said that I knew it, but genuinely did not know what to do about it. I ate everything in sight but could never gain a pound. “Harris,” he said, “Eating massive amounts of food is not the way to approach your problem. Your body needs a major overhaul, and it doesn’t start with your mouth.” At thirteen, I did not understand what he was trying to tell me. How else do you gain weight?
“If you decide to follow my instructions to the letter than I will help you out.” I said sure, not having a clue as to what was forthcoming. “I want you here every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday after school. What time do you usually get home?” I get home at 3:45 p.m. each day. “Okay, on those three days, I want you at my house by 4:00 p.m., and don’t be a minute late. If you’re late, the deal is off—no second chances.”  This was Saturday, so we started that Monday.
I was really looking forward to my first session. Maybe, just maybe, I could obtain a body like his in no time.
What a rude awakening. He put me through hell! A very stern exercise program. What do I mean by stern? I mean three days a week of torture, always pushing me harder than the week before. There was weight training, running, swimming and most importantly lecturing me as we were exercising. He would always keep me focused on the exercise and our long–term objective. It was continuous badgering. There was no time or place for social talk.
He would also teach me not to rely on anyone for help. Why not? Is it not okay to rely on your friends occasionally? Not for acquiring Discipline. It is one hundred percent you and no one else. Athletes know that 80% is upstairs (in the mind), where it all starts, especially on those days that you’re too tired, or stressed out and not in the mood––that’s when you need to push yourself the most. He was training my mind more than my body, although I did not know it at the time.
Jim was like a drill sergeant. He was instilling me with Discipline. I figured if he was willing to give up his precious time to help me out, the least I could do was show up on time. Besides, after I agreed to do this, he actually dared me to quit or show up late. He tested me every day.
Looking back now, I realize what an illusory mind game this entire ordeal was. His tactic was very effective, scaring me into never being late. I did not know it back then, but he was training my mind, starting with the easiest form of Discipline: punctuality.
Do you realize how difficult it was for a thirteen-year old kid to pull this off? Think back in time to the number of distractions you had to constantly deal with as a young teen.  Yet I never missed a day.

Walking the Talk

There are many successful self-help gurus out there with many publications to learn from, however what sets me apart from the pack is the fact that I have walked the talk for decades and even now while in my sixties my passion to accomplish and excel is second-to-none.  For me, life ia sll about accomplishments and leaving behind a legacy.
I am highly successful and growing my legacy by leaps and bounds. My children and the love of my life Mayra are going to be the beneficiaries of more than just a hefty bank account. They will inherit prime real estate property and multiple businesses. They would also have a vast collection of books I authored in the family library and vivid photographs on the mantle to remember me by. In my mind, they would continue to abide by the morals their mother and I instilled in them. I also assumed they would adhere to the same top three priorities that I did  and continue to develop their self-discipline so they’d wake up every morning for the rest of their lives with a purpose. Just like their dear old dad, I wanted them to accomplish as much as possible every day. Faith, balance, and discipline would always be the catalyst for their own success.
Looking back over my sixty plus years of existence, there were plenty of major accomplishments to write home about. One of the things I’m most proud of is the fact that at the age of sixteen, I purchased, in cash, a brand spanking new car and paid for my own insurance. My disciplined mannerisms and tendencies manifested themselves at an early age. At the age of thirteen, I threw myself into the labor market with a vengeance.  I desired money and truckloads of it—quickly, especially after having netted approximately $700.00 in cash, checks and bonds and at my Bar Mitzvah in 1967.
To appease my never-ending hunger for money, I worked multiple jobs after school and on the weekends. There was no job big or small that I wouldn’t do; yard work, babysitting, delivering newspapers, filing brochures at a travel agency. At one time, I even worked at an auto junkyard pulling batteries from old clunkers. It was a dirty and dangerous job but someone had to do it. I’ll never forget the day that I pulled out a battery from a car right before it was being hoisted up for demolition. As I stood there and watched it being lifted by a crane, a large rattle snake fell out and scared me. That was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. I never went back after that.
These jobs were all performed between the ages of thirteen to sixteen, with one hundred percent of the income being deposited into my savings account. It was the only way I could purchase a new car by my sixteenth birthday. Growing up, I was mentored to be frugal and save money. My parents always used to tell me:“Never purchase small insignificant items like  records, beer, media paraphernalia, and knick-knacks at the mall. Forget all about the latest craze and  always eat at home.” Their sound advice has served me well throughout my entire life.
While other teen-aged boys were busy scamming for girls or getting into all kinds of trouble, I had already entered the corporate world. I was only eighteen years old when I accepted an entry level position in the Information Technology (IT) Department of a large company in the San Carlos California. Back in 1972, it was referred to as Data Processing and shortly thereafter as Management Information Systems (MIS). Removing the carbon sheets from computer generated printouts wasn’t exactly a glamorous job. Although it was a dirty job, it was the proverbial foot in the door that I needed to gain full admittance into the very exciting world of technology.
It was a full-time job, but I completed my duties in approximately five hours time. The rest of my day was spent helping out in other departments—learning, growing and striving to get on the management’s radar screen as a quick learner, efficient, and someone who had a ton of initiative. My goal was to be promoted out of that function as quickly as possible—the sooner, the better.  I had bigger fish to fry.
As long as I live, I’ll never forget what my dad said to me at an early age. “Son, if you rent an apartment or house it’s like flushing your hard-earned money down the toilet.” Needless to say, I took these words to heart. Living on my own became a goal of mine, one that turned into reality at the age of nineteen, when I purchased a home in the San Francisco Bay Area.
My life changed drastically when I bought my first home without any financial help from anyone. It was a two-bedroom townhome about fifteen minutes south of San Francisco. I was scared to death of getting tied down to a mortgage at such a young age—it was nerve-racking to say the least. However, it was a fairly conservative strategy, putting down a larger down payment of 20 percent so the monthly payments wouldn’t strap me down. Investing in property at an early age was one of my smartest undertakings.  After two years, I sold it for a nice profit and moved to a nicer neighborhood.
After dabbling in real estate, I turned my focus to muscle cars. There were millions of nice muscle cars out there but I wanted to have so much more than just another fancy hot rod. What I yearned for was something wholly unique that would win “Best of Class” at all the premier car shows in the U.S. At the age of 21, my muscle car and matching speed boat were featured on the front cover of  the July 1975 issue of Hot Rod Magazine.
The top speed boat and muscle car with a matching maroon with flames paint job, which belonged to me, were showcased at the granddaddy of all car shows in Oakland, California. They won the top prize—best of show. I named the boat Dirty Harry and the car Sano SS. Winning “Best of Show” was the ultimate honor for the combo until I received a phone call fromHot Rod Magazine a few weeks later. A representative saw the car and boat at the car show and wanted to feature them in one of the magazine’s summer issues. Wow, what a great feeling when it hit newstands and stores in July of 1975. I’ll never forget driving in my award-winning muscle car to the lakes throughout California with matching speed boat in tow to water-ski. I made quite a spectacle cruising on the streets and highways.
Early on in my career, I knew that management was the right path to take. After all this is where the big bucks were along with once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and character building challenges. Having good communication skills, always thinking strategically, possessing excellent leadership skills and being passionate about developing a highly efficient organization was my true calling. At the age of twenty-three, I was promoted to my first management position. From that point on, I climbed the corporate ladder at nearly a record-setting pace and went on to become Vice President of IT in my early thirties.
By the time I reached my 38th birthday in 1992, I was financially set—a multi-millionaire. One million dollars worth of equity in property and another cool million in cash constituted success for me, at the time. I invested wisely—mostly in property, worked hard, and never put all my eggs in one basket. I made it a point to make sure there was always a steady stream of income coming in several small consulting firms—just in case that big reduction in force happened.
In 1982, my corporate job of 10 years ended abruptly—everyone was given a pink slip, including yours truly. Being unemployed for the first time in my professional life was downright scary, but having a healthy savings account and multiple sources of income to pay the mortgage and living expenses for approximately two years eased the burden considerably. In a matter of a few months, I was recruited by a large Japanese electronics company in Silicon Valley.
Once I got back into the corporate world, my goal was for the name Harris Kern to become synonymous with IT and self-discipline.  At the time, based on my research, there were many one book wonders. But that wasn’t going to cut the mustard with me. I wanted an impressive bio that would clearly stand apart from the pack, which could also be used as my resume, one that would open up any door.
My first IT related book was published in 1994 by Prentice Hall and it quickly became a best-seller.  Shortly thereafter, the president of Prentice Hall called to congratulate me and he asked me, “When are you going to write another book?” Little did he know that my mind was already actively strategizing to write a series of IT management How-to books.
I was invited to attend a conference in 1997, which was facilitated by Prentice Hall in San Diego, California.. All of the top-level publishing executives  were in attendance, including my executive editor and his boss.  My objective was to get my own imprint of books named Harris Kern’s Enterprise Computing Institute. I presented my plan to them with conviction and they agreed. Over the next few weeks we worked out the contractual issues. The imprint published its first book in the series in 1997. It worked flawlessly with dozens of new books being published under my imprint on a regular basis. Overall, I published more than 40 books with Prentice Hall and a few other publishers as well. On the Richter scale of personal success, I considered myself to be a rock star as a management consultant, author, publisher, motivational speaker, and business/individual mentor.
What makes my recipe for life so wonderful is the way I live life as a process—with a philosophy for living.  I’ve had my share of hard times, disappointments and temporary setbacks. The way they’re handled really influence our ability to recover, move on and stay on track.  For me, Discipline is key.

Hope For a Better World by Monique MItchell Book Feature - Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Hope For a Better World Title: Hope for a Better World
Author: Monique Mitchell
Publisher: iUniverse
Pages: 244
Genre: Biography/Autobiography
Format: Ebook/Paperback
 Purchase at AMAZON

 The book is basically my memoir; however, there are some fictitious characters but all is based on real events. Flashback to my childhood in Madagascar: country with a fascinating history and a unique population, with ethnic characteristics in my own family. Recollecting past personal tragedies in childhood and situating myself in the present where loving people( my family and church friends) are surrounding me, motivating me to be a good person and see life in a happy perspective. In particular, feeling as a great privilege to be part of the melting pot in the USA. Recollection of the life at the Faculty of Medicine (Angers), France and the following years in Paris, graduating in social studies. Identifying the influence of the French culture as a pivotal factor in my life and grateful to Bon Papa (grandfather)who, by becoming a naturalized French citizen enabled his descendants to benefit from their French education, while identifying their difference and /or alienation, could also choose individually, how to find a balance between a dual culture they were./are exposed to (their own native and the acquired one). An interesting trip to the Champagne region through the wine road and to the east of France (Alsace), rich in war (WWI) memories. And there also, exhilarating history about the Statute of Liberty: designed and constructed (before being brought to the USA) by the French architect, Frédéric August Bartholdi. Marriage to an American business man and birth of son in 1965 but early on, had to raise her child as a single mother due insurmountable challenges in the marriage. Worked for 20years for the UN in 9 countries in Africa and Asia, all called hardship posts, including those for peace-keeping missions located in politically challenged and/or war-torn countries. For each country, there is a description, besides my administrative work, of history, culture, population etc… Farewell trip to Madagascar visiting the tomb of my grand parents with great sadness, fond memories and gratefulness for having raised me as a Christian child with the moral values I still carry with me at this day. Joining my American family on a permanent basis to be with my beloved son. Birth of granddaughter, Jade, who is now a teenager and praying for all members of my family to be blessed by God in the country where I am now conveying my message for love and tolerance in my book “Hope For a Better Work”.

 Born in Madagascar and now living in the USA where I joined my family following a long search for what the Creator of the Universe meant me to be, and that search is now well defined. It started to emerge gradually from my childhood and my adolescent years in France, and became more discerning during my 20 years as a UN staff member in various countries of Africa and Asia. As a result of that search, I wrote a book in order to convey the well defined message from the “We the peoples” of the UN Charter: peoples are different, have differences, but all should “hope for a better world”,with love and tolerance.  

Monique is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Amazon Gift Certificate or Paypal Cash.
  • This giveaway begins December 8 and ends on December 19.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on Monday, December 22.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Interview with Jinna Van Vliet, author of Crystal Lotus

Crystal LotusTitle: Crystal Lotus
Author: Jinna Van Vliet
Publisher: Xlibris
Pages: 129
Genre: Biography/Autobiography
Format: Ebook
 Purchase at AMAZON

 The Harmonic convergence in 1987 launched the awakening of the Mass Consciousness into the realization that human consciousness is rising into a higher frequency. Coined as the Big Shift it created many guidelines to help with this transition process. Crystal Lotus is just one such guide gifted to us by the Divine Feminine Creator Energy through one of her Aspects, the Goddess Quan Yin.

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

My latest book is called QUAN YIN SPEAKS. This book is all about the messages of the Goddess Quan Yin as she takes us on a historical journey of the human spiritual adventure.

How did you come up with the idea?

The Goddess encouraged me to publish this information that it may help humanity.

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

I read other spiritual books with the same concepts and also spoke with some of the known spiritual authors.

Can you give us a short excerpt?

“In the eyes of the Creator, everything happens in an instant, in one inhaling or exhaling breath as time does not exist within the eternal awareness of All That Is. Within the Universal Mind of God, there are no mistakes and all human events, circumstances, situations or relationship issues are unfolding in perfect timing within the intelligence of the Divine Plan.”

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

It is not hard for there are many publishers available. All one needs is the patience and the finances to get the book published. I searched for the one that could give me the best possible service for a self-publishing author.

Andra Watkins' NOT WITHOUT MY FATHER Release Day Blitz!

We're happy to be hosting Andra Watkins and her NOT WITHOUT MY FATHER Release Day Blitz today!

About the Book:

Title: Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444 Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace
Author: Andra Watkins
Publisher: Word Hermit Press
Pages: 240
Genre: Memoir
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

Can an epic adventure succeed without a hero?

Andra Watkins needed a wingman to help her become the first living person to walk the historic 444-mile Natchez Trace as the pioneers did. She planned to walk fifteen miles a day. For thirty-four days.

After striking out with everyone in her life, she was left with her disinterested eighty-year-old father. And his gas. The sleep apnea machine and self-scratching. Sharing a bathroom with a man whose gut obliterated his aim.

As Watkins trudged America’s forgotten highway, she lost herself in despair and pain. Nothing happened according to plan, and her tenuous connection to her father started to unravel. Through arguments and laughter, tears and fried chicken, they fought to rebuild their relationship before it was too late. In Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444-Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace, Watkins invites readers to join her dysfunctional family adventure in a humorous and heartbreaking memoir that asks if one can really turn I wish I had into I’m glad I did.

About the Author: 

Andra Watkins lives in Charleston, South Carolina. A non-practicing CPA, she has a degree in accounting from Francis Marion University. She’s still mad at her mother for refusing to let her major in musical theater, because her mom was convinced she’d end up starring in porn films. In addition to her writing talent, Andra is an accomplished public speaker. Her acclaimed debut novel To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis was published by Word Hermit Press in 2014.

Her latest book is the memoir, Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444 Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace.

For More Information