Interview with Subhash and Sujata Kommuru Author of Chatur

KommurusBIO:

Subhash and Sujata hail from India. They migrated to the United States along with their memories of childhood and youth. Now that they are parents, just like every immigrant they crave to introduce their child to the culture and values of their upbringing. Yet it is challenging to teach something while you are in the midst of adjusting to a different culture yourself.

Subhash and Sujata both work in different disciplines and have different styles and backgrounds, but it is the upbringing of their son that brings them on the same page. That exact place where they meet is captured and reflected in their stories, where Subhash can express in words, and Sujata can illustrate them beautifully. Where he puts it in black and white, she adds color to it. You get the idea!

These stories are their attempt to share a glimpse of their childhood days with their son. He is their inspiration to write short stories that have meaning to them and provide teaching in some shape or form.

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About Chatur

CHATUR is a hilarious and entertaining picture book written in Hindi (also with Hindi phonetics) for kids.
CHATUR is a wise laundry man. MAND is a loyal, reliable, albeit sluggish, partner in Chatur’s trade. He is a lazy donkey whose mantra is “Na Na Na hum to aaram karenge!”

Chatur’s ambition and Mand’s attitude doesn’t blend well. So Chatur comes up with a wise plan to reverse his fortune. He brings ATAL the elephant to do Mand’s job.
The plan starts out well and it did reverse his fortune substantially, but How?

Read Chatur(Hindi) a comical and fun read for kids. It is sure to tickle your funny bones. Bright illustrations are sure to engage readers. Chatur has a humorous theme with a subtle message and young readers not only have a laugh, but towards the end connect with each character and sympathize with them.
The book is written in Hindi script and also in Hindi phonetics to make it easy for everyone to read
Book Excerpt

Hindi:
Yeh kahani hai Chatur dhobhi aur mand gadha ki. Aalsi Mand ka naara hai “NaNa hum to aaram karenge” aur Chatur ki nazar sirf taraki par hai. Jab Mand ka tevar chatur ko khatakne laga, to usne dikhai apni chaturai. Kya chatur ko apni chaturai mehnga padega?

English:
This is a story about Chatur, the Dhobhi and Mand the donkey. Chatur is smart and progressive by nature and his Lazy donkey Mand’s answer to any request was “No No No, I gotta take it easy”. Chatur realized that his success is limited by Mand’s attitude, So Chatur thought of a smart idea, will it work or will it hit him back?

 
INTERVIEW:
Chatur-CoverQ: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Subhash. Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

A: Chatur is my third published book, first one being Bargad which are written in 2 languages Hindi and English.

Q: What was the name of your very first book regardless of whether it was published or not and, if not published, why?

A: Bargad is my first published book. I never tried my hands into traditional publishing because that meant committing to writing as a career and profession. I am a father and that is my sole reason to write so self-publishing was the route for me.

Q: For your first published book, how many rejections did you go through before you either found a mainstream publisher, self-published it, or paid a vanity press to publish it?

A: I never tried my hands into traditional publishing. I am a father and that is my sole reason to write so I decided to self-publish. Self-publishing gives me a lot of flexibility one among them is ability to pick my subject and say it the way my son understands. I don’t have to do any market research ahead of time and figure out what is hype in market. I just write and deliver.

Q: How did the rejections make you feel and what did you do to overcome the blows?

A: Rejections can always be looked upon as a chance for improvement and a feedback. I have never tried to get into traditional publishing so I don’t have any rejections of that sort to share about. But I did get a taste of it when I got my first round of review on then unpublished Bargad. Everyone in friends and family speak greatly of it but hearing it from outsider forced me to rethink. So I ended up reaching quite a few folks and challenged them to just critic it. I summed them up and found that they all like the story line and the end lesson for kids so it was only vanity or the decorator words that needed addressing so that eased me a lot and the final product did hit the bulls eye. Chatur had an advantage that way. After Bargad I never take my story on just what I believe. I run it by a large group and ask them only to comment on shortfalls and then deliver the final story.

Q: When your first book was published, who published it and why did you choose them?

A: Self-publishing is a great way to express yourself. I highly recommend everyone especially parents to try this route. Every parent has a way to entertain their own kids but it’s never formalized. But publishing gives it a structure. And there are tons of kids out there just like yours and would love to hear your stories and trust me, you will be amazed as to how many different angles they learn from a simple naïve story. When I presented Chatur to few kids and narrated the story, the only thing common was the laughs and giggle. Starting from which character they enjoyed the most to what they learned were mind blowing. I feel that sometimes even grown-ups cannot analyze a story as good as kids too.

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

A: It was great feeling. We did not tell any of our friends until the day of publishing. To garner early feedback we sent manuscript to them without any credits and simply said that there is this story which someone wrote and are asking for your feedback. The day we got published it was a shocker for everyone, for atleast a week both me and my wife, Sujata, were on phone continuously telling people about book and how satisfying it felt.

Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?

A: Especially as a first time author you tend to live in a dreamy world and we were no different. We were banking heavily on friends and family and it worked but after week one you realize now what? So we were dumb struck just like a deer in front of the headlight.

Q: If you had to do it over again, would you have chosen another route to be published?

A: No not at all. I love to self-publish.

Q: Have you been published since then and how have you grown as an author?

A: After Bargad and now Chatur I have two more titles. One is The magic of friendship and another Mother’s love can conquer any fear! I have made myself a promise before writing stories that I will always write sensible stories, no short cuts. I want to be able to tell stories that my son not only appreciates but learns a lesson or two from them. It won’t be just for entertainment or with any one goal. It has be multi-faceted and as he grows I want my writing to reflect his age.

Q: Looking back since the early days when you were trying to get published, what do you think you could have done differently to speed things up? What kind of mistakes could you have avoided?

A: I come from an IT background so part of reason of getting published was the ease with which you can do things. For every question there is a tool that can help you. So my expanded my horizon from writing into my profession of IT and use some tools for book layout, creating pdf, ebook etc. While the whole thing was fun but it was time consuming. Just for the knowledge sake of it, it was well worth it but if I were to think of how much time it consumed I would have been better of trusting professionals to do that job.
Book layout is about 25% technical but most of it is an art.
Chatur from get go has been in the hands of a professional, Nayan Soni. He is a very talented illustrator and designer. I am very happy of my choice and he did an awesome job by bringing his own style and putting life the story.

Q: What has been the biggest accomplishment you have achieved since becoming published?

A: There is this very cute little girl her name is Ashwina, she is same age as Arya. I read Bargad to her just once. After the story I asked her how did she like the story, she said in a very calm voice “It was very very nice.” I was happy to get the praise and felt proud. That was that, or so I thought.

After almost a month, one day in Ashwina’s school they were asked to do a free drawing meaning draw anything that comes to your mind. She drew a scene from Bargad and told her teachers the story of Bargad. While most of the credit goes to Ashwina to retain the story, images for such a long time, but I am extremely proud to have a meaningful story that she wanted to hold on to.
That has been my biggest accomplishment.That alone is the reason I always advice fellow children’s author to always write sensible stories and don’t flaunt on using slang just to make it sound funny, kids grasp those things while it may sound funny and help you sell but it leaves a wrong impact on kids.

Q: If you could have chosen another profession, what would that profession be?

A: I am an IT consultant.

Q: Would you give up being an author for that profession or have you combined the best of both worlds?

A: I don’t think I will give up on writing. I started it only for Arya but now that I am writing, I have found a great venue to invest myself in. I don’t have too much time in hand to say that writing fills those voids, but it gives me a different direction and gives me an outlet when I need one.

Q: How do you see yourself in ten years?

A: That’s a very interesting question. You are making me think now. Up until we had Arya we would always think about our profession and our lives but now when we talk about future we always think of what Arya would be like 10yrs from now. I haven’t seen that far for my writing career or atleast haven’t mapped out game plan, may be in that time I would have written some YA books too.

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

A: Thank for your giving me the opportunity to share my opinion on your distinctive blog and exceptional readers and besides all the other great authors visiting here. I migrated to US from India and brought with me memories of land rich in culture and beliefs. For as long as me and wife were by ourselves we never took a moment to think about our cultural heritage and our values. But once we had Arya, our son, our perspective changed. He was growing up fast and seeing American culture all around him. That’s when we realized that there is a treasure called “India” which he is not exposed to and will never get to know unless we do something about this. Sure we can take him to local gatherings, temples, celebrate one of two festivals but that simply is not enough. Kids learn a lot from many different channels, One of those most effective channel is books. For Arya any time is story time, no matter how sad or how mad he is a book can always come to rescue.
So that got me into making up stories and morals that we have learned as a kid and narrate those stories to him. But I had to pick up a pen when he started to demand that I tell the same stories over and over again and use same immersive words every single time. So I decided to pick up a pen and start writing something with cultural significance, something that he cannot learn anywhere else and put it on paper so every time I read it will be exactly the same.
I am presenting lessons that can make a better person, be able to see good from bad, be able to see through evil and understand mechanics. Be able to differentiate right from wrong. But channel will always be an Indian theme.

I believe every parent has a children’s book writer in them. I strongly urge everyone to pick up a pen and start doing it for this industry needs sensible story. While professional writers are good but only a parent can speak to what their kid wants.

 

Character Interview: Erik Burks from Beverly Stowe McClure’s Middle Grade paranormal novel A PIRATE, A BLOCKADE RUNNER, AND A CAT

pirate-blockade-runner-cat-333x500We’re thrilled to have here today Erik Burks from Beverly Stowe McClure’s new Middle Grade paranormal novel, A PIRATE, A BLOCKADE RUNNER, AND A CAT. Erik is a thirteen-year-old student living in Folly Island, SC.

It is a pleasure to have him with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you so much for this interview, Erik.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers? 

Yes, I think I was fairly portrayed. I had a hard time adjusting to a new home and new friends, but it all turned out okay. At times, I tried my mom’s patience. Hey, I’m a kid. I’m not perfect.

Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently? 

Yeah, Ms. McClure showed my personality pretty much accurately. After my parents split up I tried to be nice to my mom cause I knew she was having a hard time. But a guy can take only so many “nights out with the girls,” meaning my mom and aunt. I sometimes did things with my twin neighbors that I didn’t tell Mom about, like sailing up the Carolina coast with a couple of ghosts.

What do you believe is your strongest trait? 

Gee, that’s a tough question. I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging but I’m great at baseball. Is that a trait?

Worse trait? 

Umm, I’d say holding a grudge against my dad for leaving me.

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?

A movie about me? Wow! Let me think. Maybe Zachary Gordon. He’s a little older than me, but in the movies they can make you look any age.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

You’re kidding, right? I’m thirteen, and to tell you the truth, I don’t understand girls. Star’s cute but she’s a pain too. Always reading my mind dream. That’s embarrassing sometimes.

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

When we were on board the “Revenge,” Pirate Stede Bonnet’s ship and Blackbeard showed up it got kind of scary. The pirates fought each other with their cutlasses. Sharp, let me tell you. And Blackbeard trapped the twins and me in these spider-like webs. I was afraid they’d make us walk the plank or just toss us overboard. I’m not telling what happened, but I don’t want to see those pirates ever again.

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

I wouldn’t want to be Stormy. He has to live with his mind-dream reading sister, Star. It’s bad enough when she reads my mind when we‘re together, but imagine never having a break. Twenty-four hours a day she knows all of Stormy’s thoughts. I shudder at the thought.

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away? 

I guess the book ends the way it has to. I have a feeling, though, it’s not really an end, but maybe a beginning. If that makes sense.

What words of wisdom would you give your author if s/he decided to write another book with you in it?

Haha. Good question. I’d like to be a bit smarter in the next book and not so intimidated by Star and her mind reading. I’d like to solve my problems easier. You hear that Ms. McClure?

Thank you for this interview, Erik.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

Thank you for the neat questions. I smile. No more books have been planned, but you never know. I feel the ghosts are restless, that something is left unfinished in their lives.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title:   A Pirate, a Blockade Runner, and a Cat

Genre:   Paranormal

Author:  Beverly Stowe McClure

Website: http://beverlystowemcclure.wordpress.com

Publisher: MuseItUp Publishing

Purchase on Amazon

Thirteen-year-old Erik Burks’ life is falling apart. When he discovers a lace bra in the glove compartment of his dad’s car, his mom leaves his father and drags Erik from being king of the hill in Texas to the bottom of the pits in South Carolina. No Dad, no baseball, no friends, just Starry Knight (a girl who reads minds) and her equally weird brother, Stormy, the twins that live down the block.

Just when Erik thinks life can’t get any worse, while hanging out at the beach one evening, he and the twins notice lights radiating from the lighthouse. Stranger still, a ship materializes in the moonlit harbor. Curious, the twins and a reluctant Erik investigate and discover the ghost of a blockade runner, a cat, and a pirate who prowls Charleston Harbor, and the fun begins.

Bev_medium

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

When Beverly Stowe McClure was in eighth grade, her teacher sent her poem “Stars” to the National High School Poetry Association, and she was soon a published writer in Young America Sings, an anthology of Texas high school poetry. Today, Beverly is a cum laude graduate of Midwestern State University with a BSEd degree. For twenty-two years, she taught children to read and write. They taught her patience. She is affectionately known as the “Bug Lady” because she rescues butterflies, moths, walking sticks, and praying mantis from her cats.

Most of the time, you’ll find Beverly in front of her computer, writing the stories little voices in her head tell her. When she’s not writing, she takes long walks and snaps photos of clouds, wild flowers, birds and deer. She also enjoys visiting with her family and teaching a women’s Sunday school class at her church. Her articles have been published in leading children’s magazines. Two of her stories are in CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL ANTHOLOGIES, and she has nine novels published, two of them award winning novels at Children’s Literary Classics and other competitions.

http://beverlystowemcclure.wordpress.com

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Interview with Donna Galanti, author of paranormal romance ‘A Hidden Element’

Donna GalantiDonna Galanti writes murder and mystery with a dash of steam as well as middle grade adventure fiction. She is an International Thriller Writers Debut Author of the paranormal suspense novel A Human Element, the short story collection The Dark Inside, and Joshua and The Lightning Road.

She’s lived from England as a child, to Hawaii as a U.S. Navy photographer. Donna dreamed of being a writer when she fell in love with the worlds of Narnia and Roald Dahl attending school in a magical English castle where her dark imagination ran wild in an itchy uniform (bowler hat and tie included). She now lives in Pennsylvania with her family in an old farmhouse. It has lots of writing nooks, fireplaces, and stink bugs, but she’s still wishing for a castle again—preferably with ghosts.

Her latest book is the paranormal romance, A Hidden Element.

Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Donna. Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

I have several works published so far, with more on the horizon. A Hidden Element, book two in the Element Trilogy, is my recent paranormal suspense novel out now. Book one, A Human Element, released in July of this year. I also have a short story collection out, The Dark Inside, featuring stories about characters in the Element Trilogy, and the first two books in my children’s book series, Joshua and The Lightning Road, A Hidden Elementreleases in 2015.

Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?

I chose a small press publisher for my debut novel as she believed in the story. It was a hard sell being a cross-genre novel. And while my debut novel was published with a small press, I was lucky to get my rights back this year and breathe new life into it by having it re-branded with the sequel by my new publisher, Imajin Books. Yes, there are second chances even in the publishing world!

Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?

It took six months. Publishing with a small press generally means getting the book to print faster, often in less than six months. My publisher for my children’s fantasy series, Joshua and the Lightning Road out in 2015, is much more traditional with an 18-month window time from acceptance to publication.

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

I had a book launch party at my local independent bookstore to celebrate with friends and family.

Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?

I scheduled a blog tour. And what a fun experience it was! I had the chance to talk about so many topics in my book that came from my personal life like being adopted, and being a U.S. Navy photographer stationed in Hawaii, and growing up on a mountaintop as an only child. Being part of a blog tour is a great way to connect with readers through book bloggers on a personal level and let your personality shine through.

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

I’ve learned that this is the most exciting time to be an author, and the most challenging. We have multiple paths to choose from to become published yet we must also understand how the industry works and keeps changing, and we must be social media and marketing savvy. We have to get out of our comfort zone and take risks to keep moving forward to make our author dream come true, in the face of great adversity. I don’t regret any of the lessons learned along the way as they all add to my knowledge about the writing craft and publishing industry. My first publisher for my debut novel may not have been the ideal experience, but it opened many doors for me as it enabled me to become an International Thriller Writers Debut Author. In that role, I presented my novel at ThrillerFest and made many wonderful connections with legendary, bestselling, and other debut authors that have enriched my path as a writer. I’ve also learned that we must keep improving on our writing craft and challenging ourselves as writers.

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

That it is much more complex than I thought and in a continual state of evolution that I have to maintain pace with.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?

So many wonderful things counteract the tough days. A favorite love is the camaraderie amongst writers to help each other and lift each other up. This isn’t a competition. We all can be successful and are eager to share what we know and pay it forward. Then there’s the times I hit a low in my writing and think “I can’t do this! Why am I a writer?” Well, every time I think this – I remember how I sat down in my grief and wrote my first novel without knowing anything about writing a book. And I remember how it came from my heart and came from the deep places inside me where I most love, where I most hurt. And then I think about all the wonderful reviews I’ve gotten for that debut novel, A Human Element, and how people love the story and I KNOW. No matter how much I think my writing is terrible at times – I KNOW that I am a true storyteller. And this is what I was born to do.

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

Get out of your writer’s cave and join writer communities and organizations now, no matter what level of writing you are at. I wish I’d done this before I finished writing my first book as there is a great camaraderie amongst writers. Also, I wish I’d learned about how to write a book before writing my first book. I took writing workshops after I finished that first book and it required going back and fixing a ton of things! However, I don’t regret the learning that took place afterwards because it taught me how to write a better book from the beginning. Keep learning your craft and keep filling your writer’s toolbox! And remember that this writing business is not GOING to be easy – it’s going to be worth it! Visit my Writers Corner for inspiration, advice, and resources on writing.

 

 

 

 

MIRACLE MAN BOOK BLITZ

Miracle Man book blitz banner

We’re happy to be hosting William R. Leibowitz and his Miracle Man Book Blitz today!

About the Book:

Miracle Man 7

Title: Miracle Man
Author: William Leibowitz
Publisher: Manifesto Media Group
Pages: 428
Genre: Cross-genre Thriller
Format: Paper/Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

REVERED   REVILED    REMARKABLE

The victim of an unspeakable crime, an infant rises to become a new type of superhero.

Unlike any that have come before him, he is not a fanciful creation of animators, he is real.

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

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

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

Book Excerpt:

A tall figure wearing a black-hooded slicker walked quickly through the night carrying a large garbage bag.  His pale face was wet with rain.  He had picked a deserted part of town.  Old warehouse buildings were being gutted so they could be converted into apartments for non-existent buyers.  There were no stores, no restaurants and no people.

“Who’d wanna live in this shit place?”  he muttered to himself.  Even the nice neighborhoods of this dismal city had more “For Sale” signs than you could count.

  He was disgusted with himself and disgusted with her, but they were too young to be burdened.  Life was already hard enough.    He shook his head incredulously.  She had been so damn sexy, funny, full of life.   Why the hell couldn’t she leave well enough alone?    She should have had some control.

He wanted to scream-out down the ugly street, “It’s her fucking fault that I’m in the rain in this crap neighborhood trying to evade the police.”

But he knew he hadn’t tried to slow her down either.   He kept giving her the drugs and she kept getting kinkier and kinkier and more dependent on him and that’s how he liked it.   She was adventurous and creative beyond her years.  Freaky and bizarre.  He had been enthralled, amazed.  The higher she got, the wilder she was.  Nothing was out of bounds.  Everything was in the game.

And so, they went farther and farther out there.  Together.  With the help of the chemicals.  They were co-conspirators, co-sponsors of their mutual dissipation.  How far they had traveled without ever leaving their cruddy little city.  They were so far ahead of all the other kids.

He squinted, and his mind reeled.  He tried to remember in what month of their senior year in high school the drugs became more important to her than he was.  And in what month did her face start looking so tired, her complexion prefacing the ravages to follow, her breath becoming foul as her teeth and gums deteriorated.  And in what month did her need for the drugs outstrip his and her cash resources.

He stopped walking and raised his hooded head to the sky so that the rain would pelt him full-on in the face.  He was hoping that somehow this would make him feel absolved.  It didn’t.  He shuddered as he clutched the shiny black bag, the increasingly cold wet wind blowing hard against him.  He didn’t even want to try to figure out how many guys she had sex with for the drugs.

The puddle-ridden deserted street had three large dumpsters on it.   One was almost empty.  It seemed huge and metallic and didn’t appeal to him. The second was two-thirds full.  He peered into it, but was repulsed by the odor, and he was pretty sure he saw the quick moving figures of rodents foraging in the mess. The third was piled above the brim with construction debris.

Holding the plastic bag, he climbed up on the rusty lip of the third dumpster.  Stretching forward, he placed the bag on top of some large garbage bags which were just a few feet inside of the dumpster’s rim.   As he climbed down, his body looked bent and crooked and his face was ashen. Tears streamed down his cheeks and bounced off his hands.  He barely could annunciate, “Please forgive me,” as he shuffled away, head bowed and snot dripping from his nose.

About the Author:

William Leibowitz

William R. Leibowitz has been practicing entertainment/media law in New York City for a number of years.  He has represented numerous renowned recording artists, songwriters, producers and many of the leading record companies, talent managers, merchandisers and other notable entertainment businesses.  At one point, he was the Chief Operating Officer/General Counsel for the Sanctuary Group of Companies, a U.K. public company that was the largest ‘indie’ music company in the world (prior to its acquisition by the Universal Music Group).

William has a Bachelor of Science degree from New York University (magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) and a law degree from Columbia University.  He lives in the village of Quogue, New York with his wife, Alexandria, and dog, George.

William wrote Miracle Man because of its humanistic and spiritual messages and because he feels that in our current times – when meritless celebrity has eclipsed accomplishment and the only heroes are those based on comic books, the world needs a real hero –and that, of course, is Robert James Austin, the protagonist in Miracle Man.

For More Information

Book Review: ‘Bible Bands: Rubber Band Jewelry’ by Katreina Eden

bible bandsBible Bands is a fun, educational how-to book for children who love making jewelry. Not only does it teaches how to make lovely designs, but it also strengthens children’s faith by combining hands-on creativity with Bible verses and stories.

Rubber band jewelry seems to be the hottest new craze, so Eden’s book comes at the right time. Though at first glance, when you look at the jewelry, it might seem complicated and difficult to make, especially for kids, the author demystifies it with simple step-by-step instructions accompanied by colorful photos. I found the language and descriptions clear and straight-forward, easy for most kids to understand, though the younger ones will need guidance from an adult, at least at first. There are over 12 designs, from the simplest to the most elaborate.

Eden incorporates faith with verses and symbols, such as a blue and white pattern to symbolize Christ’s baptism, a heart design to remind you of God’s love, and a multi-colored weave to match Joseph’s coat of many colors, among others.

Bible Bands doesn’t come with the looms or bands, but you can find these at most craft shops. This will make a lovely gift for any child, especially those who are into crafts. It is also a good book for those long summer and Christmas holidays, as it will keep children entertained for hours. Recommended!

Find out more on Amazon.

My review was previously published in Blogcritics.

Unlocking Your Spiritual Greatness Book Blitz – Win $25 Amazon Gift Card

Title of Book # 1: Unlocking Your Spiritual Greatness
ISBN:  978-1-105-46980-0
Genre: Spiritual Maturity, Christianity, Discipleship Training
Publisher: LuLu Enterprises, Inc.
Publication Date: 2005, 2011
Just like there are specific physical exercises that are good for physical conditioning, there are specific spiritual exercises that are good, in fact, essential for our spiritual conditioning and growth. If you want to grow spiritually, you have to do spiritual exercises. (1Timothy 4:8)
This book looks to Jesus for “duplicate-able” activities for the model for our growth. For years Christian writers have identified specific activities regularly evidenced in his earthly life and called them Spiritual or Christian Disciplines. I believe that if it was useful for Jesus to be disciplined in his worship and praise to God, then it is useful for us as well. Further, I believe that the inclusion of Christian Disciplines in our lives, or what I call the Disciplined Training Approach places us in obedient submission to God and that is where we are supposed to be. 
Book excerpt:
God has outlined a plan for living that when followed will bring us into a closer fellowship with Him. All the treasure in the world will not purchase it, but God will provide it for free to whosoever really wants it. No matter how worthless you may think you are, you can become one of the greatest treasures in the world.  You can become the person God wants you to be, equipped with all the supernatural power for the Kingdom work He wants you to do!  
Simply put, if you hear what God tells you, trust that He will not lead you astray and do what you’re told to do, you will experience the peace God planned for you. More than that, the consequences of ignoring God can be anxiety, frustration, depression and even eternal separation from Him.
People, however, are not simple.  In fact, we go to great lengths to take something simple and complicate it.  Our relationship with God should be personal, based on the time we spend with Him.  We can’t manufacture a relationship with Him, but we can come to know him based on our personal experiences.
If you want to be blessed, comforted or reassured in a small way, then exercise a small amount of faith.  If however, you need your life changed… it may take more. It starts with regular prayer, regular meditation and regular listening. It continues when we do things outside our comfort zone and that’s exactly where faith begins.
Your life will change when you realize God’s ability
zone is greater than your comfort zone.
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Title of Book #2   God’s Answer, Praying the Scriptures Back to God
God gave us the Bible as a constant reminder of His love and plan for us. More than a historical document, it is truly alive. As we read His Word and become heart-linked with Him, a supernatural transformation begins to take place in us.  God’s Word is alive and we can’t comprehend it all at once. That explains why you can read a passage several times over weeks or months and receive a different message from the same verses.
God gave us prayer as an avenue or vehicle that He designed for us so we could be in constant communication with Him. God’s Answer seeks to bring you to His Throne of Grace, where prayers are answered, (Hebrews 4:16) so that you can claim the promises God makes about today’s problems. That’s a tall order, so let’s look at what He said about prayer in His Living Word, the Bible.
Several times He promises us that He will hear and in fact, answer our prayers. It would be great to think that we always get what we want or that we could just name it and claim it, but that simply is not the case. What we can claim is the promises God makes and we will be exploring those. Let’s examine a few passages and see what they reveal beyond God hearing us and answering our prayers.
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Title of Book #3        A Place of Faith, When There is No Place Else to Go
What or where is the place of faith?  Is it a physical location? No, it is where we are when we step out into the unknown in a blind, yet obedient faith because that is all we have left.  Our Christian vocabulary is filled with ideas, quotes and even promises from God that are meant for comfort and reassurance. As real as God’s Word is, what happens when all has been recalled and rehearsed and we still find ourselves alone at the place of faith. A Place of Faith defines faith from a real and practical viewpoint, then develops it’s progression from a measure of faith, to a step and then a leap of faith.  Most importantly, time is spent on the Enemy of Faith and the Trial of Faith and finally, The Results of Faith. Each chapter concludes with a hymn that reinforces the points made in the chapter and a few reflection questions.
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Title of Book #4  Living on the Dark Side of Faith
While faith has two sides, they are both sides of the same thing. The word faith cannot be substituted for the word belief or theology. It is more than a collection of thoughts about religion. It is more than simply believing in the existence of God, the demons in Hell do that. The faith we speak of is in God and how, though we may not see how, He will provide for His beloved. The faith we have is certain; it is the evidence of things to come. It begins with a measure and increases with experience and that often means a trial or test of our faith.
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About the author:

 

Jim Greene makes his home in Knoxville, TN in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. An avid backpacker, his countless hours in the outdoors have often blessed him with many topics to write about.
As a layman Sunday School teacher, he challenges himself and his class to strive for and enjoy a closer relationship with God. Each of his books look to God as the ultimate authority in our lives. He is the author of Unlocking Your Spiritual Greatness, God’s Answer, A Place of Faith, When There is Nowhere Else to Go, and Living on the Dark Side of Faith. His next book is entitled, When Waiting isn’t Working.
Jim feels God speaks to him personally through journaling and his books primarily came to answer a question in his life. They may just help you too.
Pump Up Your Book and Jim are teaming up to give 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 the prize.
§  This giveaway begins September 2 and ends on September 26, 2014.
§  Winner will be contacted via email on October 1, 2014.
§  Winner has 72 hours to reply.
§  VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.
Good luck everyone!
ENTER TO WIN!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Interview with C.H. MacLean, author of ‘Two Empty Thrones

C.H. MacLeanTo young C. H. MacLean, books were everything: mind-food, friends, and fun. They gave the shy middle child’s life color and energy. Amazingly, not everyone saw them that way. Seeing a laundry hamper full of books approach her, the librarian scolded C. H. for trying to check them all out. “You’ll never read that many before they expire!” C. H. was surprised, having shown great restraint only by keeping a list of books to check out next time. Thoroughly abashed, C. H. waited three whole days after finishing that lot before going back for more.

With an internal world more vivid than the real one, C. H. was chastised for reading in the library instead of going to class. “Neurotic, needs medical help,” the teacher diagnosed. C. H.’s father, a psychologist, just laughed when he heard. “She’s just upset because those books are more challenging than her class.” C. H. realized making up stories was just as fun as reading, and harder to get caught doing. So for a while, C. H. crafted stories and characters out of wisps and trinkets, with every toy growing an elaborate personality.

But toys were not mature, and stories weren’t respectable for a family of doctors. So C. H. grew up and learned to read serious books and study hard, shelving foolish fantasies for serious work.

Years passed in a black and white blur. Then, unpredictably falling in love all the way to a magical marriage rattled C. H.’s orderly world. A crazy idea slipped in a resulting crack and wouldn’t leave. “Write the book you want to read,” it said. “Write? As in, a fantasy novel? But I’m not creative,” C. H. protested. The idea, and C. H.’s spouse, rolled their eyes.

So one day, C. H. started writing. Just to try it, not that it would go anywhere. Big mistake. Decades of pent-up passion started pouring out, making a mess of an orderly life. It only got worse. Soon, stories popped up everywhere- in dreams, while exercising, or out of spite, in the middle of a work meeting. “But it’s not important work,” C. H. pleaded weakly. “They are not food, or friends, or…” But it was too late. C. H. had re-discovered that, like books, life should be fun too. Now, writing is a compulsion, and a calling.

  1. H. lives in a Pacific Northwest forest with five cats, two kids, one spouse, and absolutely no dragons or elves, faeries, or demons… that are willing to be named, at least.

His latest book is the YA fantasy, Two Empty Thrones.

For More Information

Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, C.H.. Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

Two Empty Thrones is my second published book and is the second book in the Five in Circle series. Fire Above, my third book, about a young man who dares to dream and starts the first dragon-human war, should be published in the winter of 2014/15. The third book in the Five in Two Empty Thrones 2Circle series will be released shortly after that.

Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?

After a few nibbles but no bites from mainstream press, my research on the publishing world led me to a bevy of information about self-publishing. The information challenged my previous biases against it. I decided to self-publish for several reasons, the two main being the amount of control I have over my work and the ability to keep my book in print for as long as I want.

Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?

Once I decided to self-publish, all the extra work such as formatting, cover art, and so on, took about six months.

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

I saw it lying on the counter and my first reaction was, wow, that looks like an interesting book. Then came the shock of, Hey, that’s my book! I’m sure the grin on my face was ridiculous. Of course I celebrated by giving my love a big hug and kiss!

Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?

I started with requests for book reviews, including Goodreads and LibraryThing giveaways. I really wanted to have readers’ honest opinions of the book as my promotional foundation.

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

Having a real book out there, seeing my name on books only inspires me to write more. The stories just tumble out now, and I can see I’m getting good material down more quickly.

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

I was humbled when I realized how much work goes into publishing a book. I guess my idea of self-publishing deserved to be crushed. I hoped it just meant all you have to do is write, upload a file and poof, you’re published. But there are so many things that have to get done: formatting, proofing, cover design, book blurbs, sales descriptions, etc.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?

I love knowing that someone out there is enjoying reading the story. I cherish reading and know how much I enjoy a good book. Hearing that someone else is having that same feeling from my book is the best.

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

Keep writing. Pour your heart and soul out for the readers. When you get tired or stuck, remember them and just keep writing.

 

 

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