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In the Bookish Spotlight: Spirituality for Badasses by J. Stewart Dixon

Title: SPIRITUALITY FOR BADASSES
Author: J. Stewart Dixon
Publisher: PIE Publishing
Pages: 268
Genre: Spirituality / Self-Help / Humor

BOOK BLURB:

J. Stewart Dixon, award-winning, best-selling humor and self-help author of Spirituality for Badasses has a bone to pick with conventional therapy and pharmaceutical companies concerning our collective bounce back and healing from the stress, anxiety and depression of Covid-19.

Asserts Mr. Dixon in the introduction to his book: “So you see…I really do get it. I used to be depressed, anxious, too smart for my own good, opinionated and unhappy…a real loveless, badass-hole. But now I’m just a spiritual badass.   Spirituality removed the hole. I transformed. I changed. I grew up. I learned some hard lessons. And I did all this without ever losing my cool, integrity, smarts, libido, sense of humor or soul. And that’s just what this book is going to help you do. “

Kirkus Reviews – the prestigious book review media outlet wrote this about the book: “A motivational work blazes a spiritual path for those who consider themselves too cool for such things. A jokey yet earnest and useful guide to enlightenment for badass readers.”

On a whirl-wind virtual tour of radio station and podcast interviews J. Stewart Dixon has been offering his “calm island in the middle of the hurricane” solution to eager hosts such as celebrity chef Pete Evans from Perth, Australia and sportscaster i-Heart radio-DJ Ken Broo from Cincinnati, Ohio. “It’s about noticing that part of you, which hasn’t changed your whole life. If you can notice and nurture this inner badass part, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by its’ ability to heal, help and restore.”

Mr. Dixon knows first-hand about finding an inner badass, as he suffered from years of depression during his early adulthood. “I didn’t throw myself into spirituality to become a saint or a purist– I did it because I was hurting and in pain.  I did drugs and alcohol.  I tried therapy and Prozac. None of it worked.  I was dragged kicking and screaming into spirituality and mindfulness practices and what I found was that, lo’ and behold, this sh%# works.”

A common question Mr. Dixon receives is, of course – Why all the swear words and humor? “I love the title Spirituality for Badasses because it instantly disarms any preconceived notions about spirituality and renders it friendly, approachable and down-to-earth. I think many of us are burned out by absolute truths, cures and opinions right now. So– I’m simply offering an alternative non-pharmaceutical “cure” that worked for me.  As a bonus, I’ve thrown in some humor, and to keep it real, a few swear words.”

Mr. Dixon’s background as an engineer and business owner has also shaped his opinion about spirituality and mental health. “As an engineer most of my adult life, I’ve been hired to reduce complex systems into bite-sized, manageable portions.  In Spirituality for Badasses I do the same: Mental health and spirituality is, to say the least, complex. I spent decades sifting through and integrating it, and what I came up with – which I’m proud of and grateful for today- was a process that worked both for myself and the thousands of readers who are now finding their own inner badasses.”

PRAISE

“In his new book, Spirituality for Badasses, J.Stewart Dixon has written an irreverent, exuberant, free-wheeling, stream-of-consciousness saga that chronicles the spiritual journey in ways that are unique, humorous, challenging and a hell of a lot of fun.  Gone are the heavy-handed, esoteric pontifications so often included in books about “living like a spiritual warrior” and, instead, J.  focuses more on de-mystifying this eternal quest by successfully normalizing its ordinariness. So, buckle up and be prepared for a wild ride that’s readable, accessible and eminently  relatable. Two enthusiastic thumbs up! Highly recommended!”
-Chuck Hillig,  Licensed Psychotherapist, Spiritual Teacher& Author of Enlightenment for Beginners, The Way IT Is, Seeds for the Soul, Looking for God, and The Magic King 
 
“Spirituality for Badasses is The Way of the Peaceful Warrior for the rebels among us who are tired of sickly-sweet approaches to spirituality and have a sincere need to laugh out loud on the regular.  J. Stewart Dixon is a true original … He’s your irreverent, potty-mouthed best friend and big brother, but don’t let the humor fool you: the teachings offered here are profoundly liberating, important pointers to awakened awareness. Dixon teaches us all to en-LIGHTEN-UP with his special blend of hilarious, profound, crazy-ass wisdom.”
-Erin Reese, M.S., Spiritual Counselor & Teacher & Author of Truth Seeker: A Spiritual Journey of Love, Loss, and Liberation & The Adventures of Bindi Girl: Diving Deep Into the Heart of India 
 
“Accessible. Compulsive. Irreverent. Fun. Practical- All the while lacking nothing in richness or depth.  Take an adventure with J – a spiritual guide that comes off more Han Solo than Obi Wan Kenobi on the surface – as you journey along with the R-rated spiritual everyman with a lizard draped over his shoulders on a path that winds inside and out, through valleys and up mountains, volcanoes and earthquakes, as you make your way toward becoming more your badass true aware self.   This book is rich!”
-Zac Cannon, Pastor

Book Information

Release Date: January 21, 2021

Publisher:  PIE Publishing / Awakening Resource Center, LLC;

Soft Cover: ISBN: 978-0-9858579-9-8; 329 pages; $15.99; E-Book, $5.99

Book Website: www.spiritualityforbadasses.com

Amazon: www.amazon.com/dp/B08SMP9982

About the Author

J. Stewart’s new book,Spirituality for Badasses, blossomed out of J. Stewart’s life as a spiritual seeker, finder and coach/teacher. He teaches based on his direct experience, twenty-nine years of interaction with numerous nonduality-advaita-zen-unorthodox teachers, his ongoing education / certification in modern mindfulness and a degree in communications / engineering from Syracuse University in Syracuse, NY. He makes his home in Virginia.

Visit his website at http://www.spiritualityforbadasses.com or connect with him on Facebook.

Book Excerpt Exclusive: Your Mid-Career GPS: Four Steps to Figuring Out What’s Next by John Neral @john_neral #bookexcerpt

Our exclusive book excerpt for today is from John Neral’s new book, Your Mid-Career GPS – Four Steps to Figuring Out What’s Next.

Are you considering a career change but doubt yourself or get easily overwhelmed by the entire process?

Are you a mid-career professional ready to level-up, but unsure of what steps to take?

What if there was an easy and supportive way to plan your next career destination?

Your Mid-Career GPS will guide you to create your own professional roadmap so you can find the job you love or love the job have. John Neral, Certified Professional Coach, will help you strategically position yourself in the marketplace while teaching you how to leverage your unique skills from a place of value and service for any organization.

Learn how to prepare, position, and promote yourself as you create a tactical and strategic plan by building Your Mid-Career GPS. Let this book be your guide to answer many of the current questions you have about creating your next advancement opportunity.

Book Excerpt:

Introduction

My career path has been messy. It’s had its share of ups, downs, spirals, and turns. There were incredible moments of joy, along with sheer frustration, pain, and stress. I’ve worked with some of the most memorable and incredibly talented people you could imagine. I’ve also worked with a few people who weren’t my favorites, but I have learned a ton from them and will always be grateful. And I’ve learned this is very common.

In Herminia Ibarra’s Harvard Business Review article, “Reinventing Your Career in the Time of Coronavirus,” Ibarra states, “Even in happier times, career change is never a perfectly linear process. It’s a necessarily messy journey of exploration – and to do it right, you have to experiment with, test, and learn about a range of possible selves.”

Reinventing your career isn’t new. We’ve been doing this as long as there has been “work.” But the pandemic made us pause, reflect, and consider what’s next for us professionally, perhaps a little more than during pre-pandemic times. That’s why you need a plan to help you get wherever you are going professionally, and it’s why I believe having a GPS is vital to your success.

Your career path is defined by particular moments where you’ve fought for whatever you wanted – be it a promotion, more responsibility, increase compensation, or more time with family. It’s during these moments when you are entirely committed and engaged in achieving the goals you’ve promised yourself and you are not going to settle. And while the outcome is important, you can’t overlook the steps you took to get there. Yet, sometimes, when people hit mid-career, they forget what those steps were.

You’re reading this book because you are feeling stuck in your career or feeling undervalued. You know you are capable of more. It has been years since you graduated high school or college, and you are easily overwhelmed by all of the things you think you need to do. And while you know you should get your résumé updated, the problem is you can’t find it, or it’s been years since you’ve written one. You believe you should be more engaged on LinkedIn but don’t know how to do that. You say you aren’t good at networking and interviewing, yet you know these things are integral to your success. Your thinking is continually putting you in a deficit, rather than focusing on what you are good at and taking a realistic inventory of where you can improve. You lie awake at night worrying about how you will navigate this career transition, and at times, it’s too much. It’s one of the many things  keeping you up at night.

If you attended college, I’m willing to bet there was a time when everything flowed. You moved through the process. You enrolled, got accepted, took your courses, and four years later, exited with a degree, and hopefully, a job. You thought you had it all figured out. You knew what to do and were getting acclimated to that thing we call “adulting.”

Now, you may feel far removed from that time. Your strategic career plans may have derailed a bit, leaving you feeling alone, perhaps a bit shameful, and beating yourself up because you believe you should have figured this all out by now. You fear being perceived as irresponsible for not liking your job or wanting a change, but you don’t want to settle. You haven’t come this far to settle. You refuse to let go of your dreams.

What if you made a decision that you were going to welcome all of the new opportunities coming your way? Reading this book is one of the first things you will do to helping you build Your Mid-Career GPS, and it’s a great place to start.

It can be challenging to make a change mid-career. I know because I did it on several occasions. Many people doubted or questioned my career moves and gave me a reason to think I was foolish. It’s time to quiet the noise and get clear about what you want. Making a career change is just a circumstance. Your thoughts around an upcoming career change are an opportunity for you to hear what’s going on inside your head and decide how to help you take action.

This change for you is personal and may look very different from other mid-career professionals’ changes. For example, you may be seeking an internal promotion because you have spent several years at a company, have done great work, and value loyalty, so you want to stay and see if there is still room for you to grow.

You may have all the information you need to know that there isn’t a path upward for you at your current organization. Thus, you are looking to leverage your talents and expertise, take them to a new organization, seek a new and perhaps, more exciting title, and increase your salary. You want to work somewhere you feel more valued. 

You may be looking to do something completely different. Navigating a career pivot can undoubtedly be exciting, but may cause tons of questions about whether or not such an opportunity is possible.

People struggle with SHOWing UP when they are fearful of the outcome. We are accustomed to ruminating on potential outcomes, only to waste energy about how things will play out, ultimately holding ourselves back from going after what we want. People often ask me how they can get out of their way. The answer is all about how you want to SHOW UP.

Throughout this book, you will notice that I always write SHOW UP in capital letters. My first book, “SHOW UP – Six Strategies to Lead a More Energetic and Impactful Career,” uses SHOW UP as an acronym for these strategies: Set Ground Rules, Have Intentional Conversations, Own Where You Are, Welcome New Opportunities, Use Your Genius, and Protect and Promote Your Brand. As you read this book and see this reference, I hope you will think of SHOWing UP in the context of these six specific strategies, what they mean for you and your career, and reflect your mindset and actions toward SHOWing UP. There is a section devoted to SHOWing UP later in the book.

For this book, I will use the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) definition that a mid-career professional is someone with more than 10 years of professional experience. You will reach certain guideposts or mile markers that distinguish the early, middle, and later stages of your career. You have experience. You have achieved some level of success in your work, you’ve been recognized, and perhaps earned a promotion or two. You are more focused and confident about the work you do and don’t want to do. Identifying as a mid-career professional is also a reflection of your mindset.

In my mind, you are a mid-career professional when you identify as being in the “middle” part of your career. I agree with OPM’s definition but I also see where some people like to divide their careers into thirds. After graduation, be it high school or college, you could easily have 39-45 years of gainful employment. That means you would define each third based on every 13-15 years. Typically, the majority of my clients fall in that 32-50 age range.

Whether or not you identify as a mid-career professional, the strategies outlined in this book will help you create your career GPS so you can take steps to help you reach whatever professional destination is next for you.

Mid-career professionals may find themselves in a constant battle between maintaining the status quo and doing something they’ve always dreamed of doing. While they are proud of their accomplishments, there is also a part of them that regrets not obtaining the level of success or recognition they thought they would’ve achieved by now. Maybe  they’ve lost sight of how amazing they truly are. If this sounds like you, keep reading.

Additionally, by the time mid-career has happened, you’ve experienced a lot of life events. You may be married or divorced. You may have been in several long-term relationships or trying to figure out what a relationship looks like for you. You have certain hobbies but often struggle with finding time to do them because of your job and family pressures. You may have aging parents and struggle with the difficult shift of being their primary caregiver. I know only too well how difficult and emotionally wrenching that can be. Yet, you get up every morning, put on a happy face, and do the best work you can because that is the kind of person you are.

The clients I work with are heart-centered professionals and leaders. Their default is always to put everyone first, sacrificing their needs for the sake of a project or a dear colleague who needs their help. They struggle to find what work-life balance looks like for them. They know they want it, but they are not sure how to obtain it. Additionally, you find yourself in an energetic battle to keep your tank full. Because you are always giving to others and your employer, you run the risk of burning out at a moment’s notice, as your tank seems to always be on or close to empty.

In this book, I will ask you to define certain moments of your career. One of the most defining moments in my career happened in my 11th year as a middle school mathematics teacher. I loved where I was working, the people I was working with, and I certainly had a fantastic time with the students I got to teach every year. One day, as I was beginning to teach a lesson on multiplying fractions, I looked at 25 students’ faces staring back at me, and the voice in my head said, “You can’t do this anymore.” It was as if that voice came out of nowhere, but it was loud, and I needed to listen to it. I felt happy. I enjoyed what I was doing. But I wasn’t satisfied knowing that this could be it for the rest of my career. I wasn’t ready to settle. As I continued to deliver the lesson, I gave myself permission to question what I was doing with my career and why I wanted more from it. Have you ever had one of those moments?

What transpired over the next few months was an opportunity to honestly evaluate where my career was going and what I wanted. I had a fantastic consulting relationship with a Fortune 500 company along with a successful tutoring business outside of my teaching duties. I was learning that I wanted to shift my focus from teaching students to working with teachers. This would look like some kind of administrative position or an opportunity to level up, but I was unsure of what that was.

I talked to my closest friends and colleagues and told them I was considering making a significant career change. I had my résumé professionally written. I updated my LinkedIn profile. I started networking, looking for jobs, and sharpening my interviewing skills. And then the rejections came.

I got to several last-round interviews for a handful of positions that I not only wanted but also believed I would’ve been great at, only to learn I wasn’t the selected candidate. If someone were kind enough to give me some honest feedback, I would hear things like, “You made it a difficult decision for us, but we went with someone who had more experience.” These are comforting words amid disappointment and perhaps something you also have experienced recently.

My opportunity to make such a change came three years later, when I was 40. I accepted a position as a Professional Development Specialist for the District of Columbia Public Schools. In this role, I would work with and supervise 21 instructional coaches across 13 middle schools. I was going to help teachers be better teachers. I got the job I wanted and a fantastic opportunity to stretch and grow. While the job came with an advanced title, it also came with a pay cut. I relocated from New Jersey to Washington, D.C., for a professional and personal opportunity. My husband and I had been dating long distance for two years, and because he was happy with his job, I decided I would be the one to make a move since I was looking for a new job. Yes, you could say I made a move for love, but it was not only for the love of my husband but also for the love of my career. Relocating wasn’t part of my plan, but it was a welcomed detour and new destination for my Mid-Career GPS.

That move over 10 years ago accelerated my career. It gave me opportunities I would have never had if I decided to stay in my previous position. I had an opportunity to work as an administrator in a larger and high-profile district. From there, I went to go work at the State Superintendent’s Office. From that position, I leveled up to take a job at an educational nonprofit as a Training and Staffing Director. And then, I took an even bigger leap into entrepreneurship. I have never regretted any of these moves, and I continue to have an exciting career. I get to go to work every day. I get to coach amazing clients and help them figure out what’s next for them professionally by helping them create their mid-career roadmap to find a job they love or love the job they have. I’ve launched two podcasts. The first is called #SHOWUP2020 and highlighted everyday people who do extraordinary things because of how they choose to SHOW UP. My second podcast is “The Mid-Career GPS Podcast,” and it’s an extension of this book. You can listen to it wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.

I would be remiss if I didn’t take some time to talk about a defining and universal moment in all of our careers. That is the effects that the COVID-19 pandemic had on us both personally and professionally. Together, we saw a record number of people unemployed due to the pandemic. According to the Pew Research Center in an article titled, “Unemployment rose higher in three months of COVID-19 than it did in two years of the Great Recession,” Rakesh Kochhar writes, “The COVID-19 outbreak and the economic downturn it engendered swelled the ranks of unemployed Americans by more than 14 million, from 6.2 million in February to 20.5 million in May 2020. As a result, the U.S. unemployment rate shot up from 3.8% in February – among the lowest on record in the post-World War II era – to 13.0% in May. That rate was the era’s second-highest, trailing only the level reached in April (14.4%).”

We saw industries brought to their knees because life as we knew it had changed. People stopped traveling and staying in hotels. People stopped going to restaurants and instead learned how to cook. While food delivery services saw an uptick, we must acknowledge that many small businesses and restaurants closed because of the pandemic.

Millions of people were either furloughed or laid off. When 2020 began, many companies were positioned to have their best year. Their strategic plans, dreams, and goals quickly changed by late spring when COVID-19 didn’t appear to be going away anytime soon.

And with increased vaccinations and a potential return to “normal” on the horizon, it will take years, if not decades, for us to recover from the personal, professional, financial, and mental health impact this pandemic has had.

As an executive and career transition coach, I share this with you because I spent the majority of 2020 working with my clients about what their career roadmap would look like. Just like you, things changed for them. And while 2020 certainly gave us time to reflect and consider, it also hit our savings accounts and checkbooks; affected our mental health, families, and relationships; and caused moments of intense isolation. We missed milestone events and celebrations. Where possible, the majority of the workforce transitioned to a virtual platform, and running out to get your coffee in the morning or midday wasn’t something you were typically doing anymore. Gone were the casual, in-person conversations you had with dear friends and colleagues. Gone were the moments when you would stop by someone’s office and see if they could take a walk or grab a cup of coffee with you. Now, your dining room table or favorite chair has been turned into your home office or classroom.

2020, in my opinion, will go down as one of the most challenging years for us professionally. Whether you had a job for the entire year or didn’t, it took a toll on you. While you were grateful to have a job and a steady paycheck, I know many people who experienced a form of survival guilt and were hesitant to complain about something at work because they had a job and people they knew did not. You may still be unemployed as a result of the pandemic, and I hope the information in this book not only provides you with relevant and tactical strategies to help you navigate and create your mid-career roadmap, but also gives you some inspiration and motivation. Let me ask you this: How would you SHOW UP if you knew your value was non-negotiable? As you go through this book, I hope you will find an answer to that question.

How would you SHOW UP if you knew your value was non-negotiable?

My book will help you create Your Mid-Career GPS to create a plan to get you from where you are to wherever “Point B” is for you. In this book, I’m leveraging my coach training and experience to help you explore and consider all of the options you have in front of you by asking questions to help you reflect and decide on a course of action you see as best for you. By the end of this book, you are going to have a plan, a roadmap, a GPS to help you chart a path to whatever is next for you professionally. You have an opportunity to go after what you want – this isn’t an opportunity for you to settle. Lastly, I have no judgment on any client’s decision regarding their career path because I know they are making the best decision for them. This means that I have no personal stake or agenda in how a client reaches their best conclusion. My role is to facilitate the process of helping them get there. Let this book be a guide or a resource to help you create Your Mid-Career GPS.

Throughout this book, you will see a combination of information, both from my experience and experts in various fields, along with coaching questions designed to help you think, reflect, and explore the actions you want to take. They all combine to help you create a step-by-step roadmap, or a personal career GPS, to navigate whatever is next for your career. The ultimate goal is for you to increase your overall job satisfaction, know your value and worth, and be happier than you have ever been professionally.

Periodically, I will share my background and experiences that have helped shape these tips and strategies while supporting that information with research and additional expert information. Some topics in this book are virtually impossible to capture all of the information you may need or question. That is where Google is best. Do not hesitate to put the book down and search for things on Google that have piqued your interest or are not answered in this book.

This book will walk you through four specific stages to help you build Your Mid-Career GPS. In the Prepare section, you will explore your current career situation, along with your attitudes, strengths, and value to help you identify any move you want to make. In the Position section, you will look at best practices for writing your résumé, optimizing your LinkedIn profile, and creating your “Unique Professional Value Statement.” Once you have prepared and positioned, the next step is to promote who you are and what you do. In the Promote section, we will talk about building your networking and interviewing skills. More importantly, you will learn how to tell your story from a place of value and service, so you can get people interested in who you are and what you do, rather than just finding you interesting. The last section is an updated version of my #SHOWUP6Strategies. It was important for me to revisit these strategies because of what we experienced in 2020. I’ve updated these strategies through a lens of helping mid-career professionals SHOW UP to find the best ways they can make an impact and increase their job satisfaction.

Roadmaps are not created overnight. As you navigate the information in this book, you may find yourself taking detours and visiting various topics of interest to you right now. For example, if you pick up this book and have an interview tomorrow, I strongly suggest you immediately jump to the interview section and read it. However, I hope you will move sequentially through these sections. It will help you gain greater insight into the kind of work I do with my clients in helping them create their Mid-Career GPS over several months of working together.

As I say on my podcast, it’s time to start building Your Mid-Career GPS. Let’s get started!

John Neral, MA, CPC reawakens, energizes, galvanizes, and innovates the mind think of employees, corporations, associations, and systems. A celebrated executive/career and professional development coach and in-demand, mindset-shifting public speaker, John’s professional walk included a 25-year career in education and a longstanding corporate consultant for Fortune 500 giant, Casio America, Inc. He now leads John Neral Coaching, LLC, one of the most progressive, mindset-shifting professional and organizational coaching and public speaking firms in the U.S. He is the author of Your Mid-Career GPS – Four Steps to Figuring Out What’s Next and SHOW UP – Six Strategies to Lead a More Energetic and Impactful Career and the host of “The Mid-Career GPS Podcast.”

__________________________________________________________

As a Master Practitioner in the Energy Leadership Index, John’s experience has made him an impactful and valuable coach to his one-on-one and group coaching clients and organizations. With Energy Leadership™, John identifies where people perform at their optimal levels and when they are under stress. Combining the Energy Leadership™ principles, a client’s workplace strengths, and their “unique professional value,” John helps his clients create their career GPS so they can take action toward achieving their professional and personal goals.

A former church organ prodigy, John is an avid traveler–having sojourned to 5 of the 7 continents, a professional bowler and the winner of a Professional Bowlers’ Association Regional Title (2010), and a game-show fan, having appeared on previous episodes of GSN’s Chain Reaction and Make My Day. John is happily married and lives with his spouse and their rescue cat, Amy Farrah Meowler (named after the Big Bang Theory character), in the heart of Washington DC’s Dulles Technology Corridor, Tysons Corner, VA.

You can visit his website at https://johnneral.com or follow him at TwitterFacebook and Goodreads.

Book Excerpts: Tutankhamen Speaks and Sons of the Sphinx by Cheryl Carpinello

Title: Tutankhamen Speaks
Author: Cheryl Carpinello
Publisher: Beyond Today Educator
Pages: 81
Genre: Teen / YA / Ancient Egypt Historical Fiction

From over 3000 years ago comes the voice of the Boy King.

Scrolls found buried in the basement of the Egyptian Museum. Transcribed in an ancient hand. Record the words of King Tut for all to read.

Tutankhamen answers all of the lingering questions, including the big one.

Discover the real story behind this famous pharaoh. Transport yourself back to an Ancient Egypt filled with mystery, magic, and danger!

Book Excerpt:

Growing up in Akhet-Aten

From the time I was able to walk, I had the run of our palace. Usually it was just me and Ankhesenpaaten. We played the normal childhood games.  We would run through the palace chasing and hiding from each other. The gardens and the pools were great places to hide. All too often one of us would fall into one of the pools as we raced by. Then we would move the game outside into the heat so that our clothes would dry. In Egypt’s heat, it didn’t take long. [missing text]

Sailing toy boats

When I was small, palace carpenters made me toy boats. Sometimes these were made to resemble the barges that would carry crops and animals down and up the Nile from one settlement to another. Some were fully outfitted royal barges complete with sails and the poles used when the barge was moving up river. I started playing with these in the palace pools. Later, as I got better at loading them and maneuvering them, I would find a place near the palace where the Nile ran slower. There I would dig out canals for the boats to float in. Sometimes Ankhesenpaaten would help me. One time we had so many canals built that it took all afternoon for our crop barges and the royal barges to enter into the canal system and then sail through and re-enter the Nile. I loved those days with Ankhesenpaaten and the Nile.

Senet

 In the evenings we would play Senet. My sisters and I became skilled Senet players, and our games would often last late into the night. My favorite were the casting sticks.

Title: Sons of the Sphinx
Author: Cheryl Carpinello
Publisher: Beyond Today Educator
Pages: 189
Genre: Teen / YA / Ancient Egypt Historical Fiction

A grandmother’s gift usually bring happiness. Rosa’s gift: a very different story. Hearing the dead alienated her from classmates. Not good for a 15-year-old.

Many times very insistent, the dead cared little for her surroundings. They even bothered her in class. Dates? Forget that.

Then one day, he shows up in her room. An old dead guy. A really old famous dead guy. In living human form!

Thrilling story of battling good and evil in an ancient world.

Book Excerpt from Chapter 11:

A well-traveled dirt road leads back into the valley formed by the hills on either side. Although not high by my experience, rising up from the sandy floor, the Theban Hills are impressive. Jagged crevices run up and down the sides of the hills, and in many places, man-made square arches can be seen. The Tombs of the Pharaohs. I’m walking in the footsteps of an ancient people. How cool.

I hurry to catch up with him. A mistake, sweat stings my eyes and grit scrapes my cheek when I wipe my face. My shirt is sticking to me by the time I come even with him. Does Re never find a cloud to hide behind? Did I say Re? Now I’m starting to think as an Egyptian. Good grief. Must be the heat. There is no shade anywhere. Like a shimmering mirage on a hot highway, the heat rises in waves off the barren hillsides. No trees can withstand this burning furnace. The only shelter exists under the entrances to the tombs.

Tut hurries ahead, but I may never get here again, so I take my time. We pass one entrance, and I walk over closer to it. Heavy wooden doors covered in hieroglyphs bar the way. Ancient rope—rough, scratchy, and strong—twisted around the door handles and knotted tight, holds them closed. On the right door handle there is a clump of mud molded like those wax seals used on letters. It covers the handle and the rope. Symbols are pressed into it.

“Tut, what is this for and what does it say?”

He hurries over, curious.

“Why the rope and this lump of mud?”

“Lump of mud? Oh Roosa, you are looking at the Necropolis Seal placed here by the priests. That it is still here means that the tomb is intact. No one has entered since the burial.”

“Does the seal say whose tomb this is? Is it a pharaoh?”

“No, not a pharaoh. Here.” He points to a set of hieroglyphs. “These state that this is the tomb of the dignitary Ramose.” He pauses. “I remember hearing stories about him when I was young. He was the governor of Thebes during Thutmosis IV’s time.”

“Do all the tombs carry this seal?”

“Yes, but even in my reign, it was becoming difficult to keep the tombs sealed. Thieves continually broke in to steal the property of the dead.”

“Tomb robbers.”

“Yes. When they were caught, their hands were chopped off.”

I gasp at such horrible consequences.

“You are shocked. I understand that in your time, there does not exist an undisturbed tomb here.” He waves his hand around the entire valley. “Who are these people who think they have the right to touch a Pharaoh of Egypt, even a dead one? They disturb our sacred resting places and steal the items left for our journey into the afterlife. May they all be cursed along with their families.”

I stand beside him, my mouth agape. Up to now, Tut has been determined in his mission, angry at Horemheb, but he hasn’t lost his composure. Until now. I try to find words to soothe him.

“They only want the world to know about the pharaohs of ancient Egypt. How magnificent they were. How they lived.”

He turns on me. “You don’t learn about a people by stealing what is sacred to them. In my time and yours, they are nothing more than common tomb robbers!”

“Scholars have shared what they learned. They search for knowledge. I learned about you from the artifacts in the exhibit.”

“Harrumph! What do you and they know? Nothing. Nothing at all! All you do is seek the treasures and the gold to make yourselves rich.” He spits in the dirt. “You wouldn’t know wealth if you were buried in it. Tomb robbers, the whole lot.”

He stomps away almost at a run, propelled by his anger. I hurry to keep up with him. We round a bend and to the left a small path winds up a cliff and then disappears. His chest heaves with ragged breaths and he’s actually vibrating he’s so enraged.

“We aren’t all like that, you know.” I whisper, wanting to avoid a harsh response. “Some of us understand that true wealth comes from within, from one’s heart, from love for others, and from respect for family.” I pause. “Some of us do.”

He says nothing; he doesn’t turn to look at me, but his breathing slows; his fingers unclench.

Cheryl Carpinello taught high school English for 25 years. During that time, she worked with numerous students who didn’t like to read for a variety of reasons. However, she discovered that even the most reluctant readers became engaged in the classroom and in reading when she introduced units on King Arthur and the works of ancient world writers. Upon retiring, she set out to write fast-paced, action-filled stories in these setting to encourage young readers to read more. When not writing, you can find her reading, spending time with family, and traveling.

“In 2008, my husband and I spent three weeks traveling around Egypt via train and visiting all those magnificent archeological sites. Since we returned home, Egypt has never been far from my thoughts. I truly believe that I left part of my soul in that ancient land. To satisfy my longing to return, I wrote Sons of the Sphinx and Tutankhamen Speaks.” Visit her on Twitter and Facebook.

OTHER BOOKS BY CHERYL CARPINELLO

Click Here for More Information…

Sponsored By:

In the Bookish Spotlight: My Feats in These Shoes by Ronda Beaman

Title: MY FEATS IN THESE SHOES: A SOLELY ORIGINAL MEMOIR
Author: Ronda Beaman
Publisher: Adelaide Books, NYC
Pages: 190
Genre: Memoir / Inspiration

BOOK BLURB:

If memoirs, done right, tap the right sort of personal journey to ignite fresh insight and inspiration into the human journey, then what better way to humorously and poignantly illuminate the sequential steps and stages of life than with shoes?

“My Feats in These Shoes” is an exuberantly spunky woman’s spirited and irrepressible romp—slips, missteps, leaps, scuffs, and twirls—toward becoming something bigger, something better, something more.

Far from serving up trauma porn (or emotional bunions), this memoir is an upbeat, humorous, affectionate and affecting coming of age memoir that ends each chapter with a ‘Put Yourself in My Shoes’ section for readers to consider their own strides in pursuing an out of the shoe box life.

I have never known anyone great who didn’t face hundreds of pebbles in their shoes as they climbed their mountain of purpose, contribution, and meaning. What do they do? They untie their shoes, pick out the biggest pebbles, throw them underfoot, put their shoes back on and then put all their weight into pulverizing the remaining gravel holding them back or down—and then they keep climbing.


Dr. Ronda Beaman has been Chief Creative Officer for the global research and solution firm PEAK Learning, Inc., since 1990. As a national award-winning educator, Dr. Beaman is Clinical Professor of Leadership at The Orfalea School of Business, California Polytechnic University. She is Founder and Executive Director of Dream Makers SLO, a non-profit foundation granting final wishes to financially- challenged, terminally-ill adults, and serves on the Board of Directors for the National Pay It Forward Foundation. She was recently named a Stanford Fellow at the Distinguished Career Institute.

Her national award-winning book, You’re Only Young Twice, has been printed in five languages. Her memoir, Little Miss Merit Badge, was an Amazon bestseller and was featured at The Golden Globe Awards. Her children’s book, Seal With a Kiss, is designed to improve skills for beginning readers and is offered at Lindamood-Bell Learning Centers internationally. My Feats in These Shoes will be released in Spring 2021.

Dr. Beaman is an internationally recognized expert on leadership, resilience, fitness, education, and life coaching. She has conducted research in a host of areas, written many academic articles and books, and won numerous awards. She was selected by the Singapore Ministry of the Family as their honored Speaker of the Year and named the first recipient of the National Education Association’s “Excellence in the Academy: Art of Teaching” award. She has been selected as a faculty resource for the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO) university in Argentina, Kyoto and India, where she received the highest speaker ratings among 36 elite faculty. She has been featured on major media including CBS and Fox Television, USA Today, and is a national thought leader for American Health Network.

Dr. Beaman earned her doctorate in Leadership at Arizona State University. She is also a certified executive coach and personal trainer with multiple credentials from the Aerobic Research Center. Her family was named “America’s Most Creative Family” by USA Today and she won the SCW National Fitness Idol competition.

WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM

Sponsored By:

Compulsion by Jennifer Chase Book Blast!

When Serial Killers Terrorize a California Beach Community, One Woman Stands in Their Way…

By Jennifer Chase

Title: COMPULSION: EMILY STONE THRILLER SERIES BOOK ONE
Author: Jennifer Chase
Publisher: JEC Press
Pages: 235
Genre: Crime Thriller

BOOK BLURB:

Emily Stone doesn’t have a badge. But that hasn’t stopped her from tracking down some of the West’s most dangerous child-killers. Armed with a digital camera, laptop computer and her trusty Beretta, Stone uses her innate gift for detective work to identify the perps — and then anonymously e-mail the evidence to the cops.

Now, the hunt for two brazen serial killers on the loose right in her own coastal California town threatens to expose Stone’s identity — unraveling her carefully constructed cover and jeopardizing her life’s work. But when she gets too close to the action, this razor-sharp hunter becomes the hunted. Cooperating with the handsome local police detective could be the only hope for stopping the rampage directed at unsuspecting young women — and saving herself. Can they piece together the clues in time? Compulsion mixes CSI-style investigation with a ripped-from-the-headlines plot and a dose of romance for a keeps-you-guessing, fast-paced and savvy thriller, right up until the shocking finale.

PRAISE

“Jennifer Chase’s Compulsion is an all-time great fiction suspense thriller. Jennifer takes her knowledge of forensic science and criminology to new levels of understanding and entertainment. This is one edge-of-your-seat who-dun-it that will keep you enthralled from the first page to the last.” —Sandra E. Graham, BookPleasures, author of Amos Jakey and Nicolina

“…The new novel Compulsion by Jennifer Chase is a captivating thriller that will keep you guessing until the last page is read. The careful character development results in real, three-dimensional men and women, even if some of them are almost unimaginably horrifying. The plot, with its slowly revealed layers, is one that engages the readers immediately and takes them on quite an adventure…” – Amazon Reader

“…It is really a fantastic book… It is a fresh and fun read. I really had trouble putting it down…” – Amazon Reader

“This truly is a top-notch mystery – thriller of a read. One that has thought out characters, defined so well that you feel as if you are part of their lives, and a storyline that is mysterious, and chilling, yet delivers a personal touch that brings realism to the mix. CSI fans will love this book, as will any mystery/thriller fan, for it is definitely one that delivers.” – Amazon Reader

“Pot boiler will keep the pages turning… If you enjoy crime fiction with a local [California] flavor, you might wish to try this debut novel. Hang on; this one also has a wild ending with some major eye-popping developments that will take you by surprise.” – Amazon Reader


Arizona, Wednesday 0900 hours

The man strolls down the gravel driveway to his makeshift torture trap disguised as a late model Chevy Suburban. It is in fact a hideous, retrofitted, rolling snare designed specifically for the secure confinement of the innocent. He has already stalked and captured several children between the ages four and ten; they had been simply taken from their safe homes and familiar yards. They are never to be seen alive again. Their only mistake was their innocence and inexperience of the inexplicable evil that relentlessly wanders the neighborhoods across the nation, sporting a simple psychological mask of normalcy.  

Dressed in khaki shorts, cheap superstore sneakers and a loose fitting blue and yellow Hawaiian shirt, the clean shaven, dark-haired man in his late-thirties looks almost like any other man who might have had a decent day job and perhaps even a family of his own. He doesn’t have a single care in the world. He feels a sense of peace and even a deep relaxation; he’s both tired and re-energized. 

This particular man has a desire: a dark secret of an unfulfilled need to prey upon the innocent, snatch them from their secure lives, torture them, murder them, and then leave their tiny remains isolated away from civilization. This driving compulsion will never be satisfied, and the hideous crimes will never be fully solved. The police will never find the little victims’ remains, and families will never receive closure for their unimaginable loss.

Only one promise will prevail, the crimes will continue, remain unsolved and with time eventually be forgotten by the general public. The continuous fantasy re-enactment will never stop as long as the killer is left alive. Death poses the only logical solution to stop this tormenting cycle of death.

The man opens the creaky back doors of the Suburban and takes out two white five gallon buckets setting them down on the trash littered street. The back of the vehicle is cluttered with miscellaneous tools and paint supplies that a painting contractor would most likely use. Upon closer inspection, deeper inside the cargo area, there are handcuffs and shackles fixed to stationary hooks reminiscent of medieval torture chambers. The windows are coated with a thin opaque vinyl that ensures complete privacy.  


Jennifer Chase is a multi award-winning and USA Today BestSelling crime fiction author, as well as a consulting criminologist. Jennifer holds a bachelor degree in police forensics and a master’s degree in criminology & criminal justice. These academic pursuits developed out of her curiosity about the criminal mind as well as from her own experience with a violent psychopath, providing Jennifer with deep personal investment in every story she tells. In addition, she holds certifications in serial crime and criminal profiling.  She is an affiliate member of the International Association of Forensic Criminologists, and member of the International Thriller Writers.

Website: https://authorjenniferchase.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jchasenovelist

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJenniferChase

Dead Game (Book Two)

Dark Mind (Book Three)

Dead Burn (Book Four)

Dark Pursuit (Book Five)

Dead Cold (Book Six)

More Books by Jennifer Chase…

Sponsored By:

Book Excerpt: THE FRAGILE ONES by Jennifer Chase

Title: THE FRAGILE ONES
Author: Jennifer Chase
Publisher: Bookouture
Pages: 300
Genre: Crime Thriller

Purchase: https://amzn.to/38AVsdG

BOOK BLURB:

“Please Mommy, can Tessa and I go play on the swing by the creek?” the little girl begs, pushing a blonde curl from her eyes. “We’ll stay together, and we promise to be safe.” Hours later, their mother waits anxiously for her darling girls to arrive home with a list of reasons why they are late. But the front door never opens…

When the bodies of eleven and twelve-year-old sisters, Tessa and Megan, are found at the bottom of a ravine—dressed in matching pastel summer outfits, their small bodies broken from the fall—Detective Katie Scott is called to one of the most shocking and heartbreaking crime scenes of her career.

Carefully picking through the fragile remains, Katie makes the first of many disturbing discoveries: the girls were not biological sisters. The youngest, Megan, is a DNA match to a kidnapping case years before. The tiny number burnt into her skin the mark of a terrifying killer intent on keeping count of his collection.

Her PTSD from the army triggered, Katie is left reeling as she maps other missing children in the local area. Has this twisted soul found a way to stay nearby his victims? Could he be watching now as Katie hits one dead end after another?

A wild storm building, matching a fiber found during the autopsy to a nearby boatyard is the break Katie needs. But when another girl goes missing, just as lightning strikes and the power goes out, Katie only has her instincts, her team and her service dog to rely on. As time runs out for Katie to finds the stolen child alive, who will become the next number on this monster’s deadly list?

Fans of Lisa Regan, Rachel Caine and Melinda Leigh, you better buckle-up for the ride of your life! BEWARE – this gripping crime thriller is guaranteed to keep you up all night!

PRAISE

Wow!!!… a page-turningnail-biting crime thriller!!… absolutely fantastic… had me completely hooked… filled with nail-biting suspense… keeps you on edge.’ Bookworm86, 5 stars

Excellent… nail-biting… had me enthralled from page one gripped through each twist and turn… jaw-dropping and totally unexpected… brilliant.’ NetGalley reviewer, 5 stars

My heart was in my throat… kept me tapping my e-reader screen.’ Robin Loves Reading, 5 stars

Oh, my goodness!… non-stop!’ Diane is Reading, 5 stars

THERE WAS NO WAY I WAS PUTTING THIS BOOK DOWN!!!!!… I was literally holding my breath… I HAD TO KNOW!!!!! As for the explosive ending? WOW definitely not what or who I was expecting.’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

BOOK EXCERPT:


“Please can we go?” whined Tessa as she followed her mother through the living room and into the kitchen. “Please,” she said again, pushing her blonde curls away from her eyes. “I really want to go to the swing by the creek.”

“Not by yourself,” countered Mrs. Mayfield, ignoring her daughter’s angry stare. “We’ve talked about this before.”

“Yes, and you said I couldn’t go alone, and I’m not. Megan will be with me.” Tessa’s older sister was barely a year older and her best friend. Her mother began emptying the dishwasher, putting plates and glasses away in the cabinet. It was unclear if she was thinking about what Tessa had said or not, so she tried again. “I’m almost eleven and Megan is almost twelve. We’re practically teenagers,” she said. “Besides, Janey and her brother will probably be there.”

Mrs. Mayfield laughed. “You know, you would be a good lawyer the way you make your case.”

“I don’t want to be a lawyer. I’m going to be a vet,” Tessa said, grinning.

“Well, I know you are going to be whatever you want to be.” Mrs. Mayfield laughed to herself as she slipped the last piece of silverware into the drawer and turned to face her daughter. At the sound of her name, Megan had joined Tessa in the doorway and they both stood quietly waiting for an answer. Glancing at the wall clock with a sigh, she said, “You both have to be back by four thirty, not a second later. Understand?”

“Thank you! Thank you!” Tessa said, grabbing her sister’s hand in glee. Both girls were in denim shorts and pastel T-shirts with their favorite matching blue sneakers.

“Be home on time,” their mom called after them.

“We will,” chimed the girls.

Mrs. Mayfield heard the front door shut, followed by the sound of running footsteps.

She smiled and went back to her chores as the afternoon ticked by.

At 4:45 p.m. Mrs. Mayfield was waiting impatiently to hear the girls enter the house with a list of a dozen reasons why they were late—but the front door never opened. An hour after that, unable to wait any longer, she looked outside, thinking that the girls might be in the yard.

Debris from a croquet set littered the lawn; the wooden mallets abandoned and colored balls scattered as if the girls had been playing only moments ago. The trampoline in the corner had one of the girls’ bright blue sweatshirts hanging on the edge. It swayed slightly in the breeze.

There was no sign of them.

She ran through the house to the backyard, but it, too, was deserted. No whispers. No giggles. No shrieks of laughter. The wind was picking up and whistling through the branches and leaves of the surrounding trees—almost whispering a warning.

Mrs. Mayfield pulled off her apron and reached for her coat, deciding to walk to the creek and bring the girls back herself. At this point, she was more angry than concerned, knowing how they could be forgetful when they were having fun, and often lost track of time.

But surely they would be on their way home by now? she thought to herself asher pace quickened from a fast walk to a jog. Against her better judgment, and knowing that she couldn’t shelter them forever, she had crumbled and let them go down to the creek where one of the neighboring boys had constructed a swing that they loved to play on.

And now fear ripped through her body. “Tessa!” she yelled. “Megan!” Terrible scenarios shuffled through her thoughts as she tried desperately to keep her emotions on an even keel.

“Tessa! Megan!”

She yelled their names over and over until her voice went hoarse. Her chest felt strangely heavy and her vision blurred as she ran, but her strength and mother’s instinct pushed her forward, down the trail leading to the creek. The trail was well-worn by local kids looking for adventure and fun. Stumbling as she ran, she frantically turned left and then right. There wasn’t a soul around… She was alone. She kept moving.

Looking up at the tall pine trees, everything spun in a dizzying blur of forest and darkening sky. She squeezed her eyes tightly shut and open again, then stopped for a moment to listen.

The swing was only visible at the bottom of the path just above the creek and she could hear the water rushing below. Peering over the edge, there was no sign of them—or anyone. She kept turning, expecting to see her girls everywhere she looked. They weren’t there. All around her were discarded candy wrappers and remnants of fast food containers. Proof that children played here often.

There was no sound apart from the whisper of the trees. No children laughing nearby.

“Megan! Tessa!” she yelled again, but there was only silence. She ran all the way up the trail to the street, still calling their names in a full-blown panic.

Mrs. Mayfield turned her attention up the road, her mother’s instinct in high gear. Something blue lying beneath a bush caught her eye and she ran towards it.

She leaned down and her hand trembled over the light blue canvas before she forced herself to grab the abandoned blue sneaker.

“No,” she said, barely breathing.

Written on the side tread of the shoe with a thick black pen was one word: Tessa.

Jennifer Chase is a multi award-winning and USA Today BestSelling crime fiction author, as well as a consulting criminologist. Jennifer holds a bachelor degree in police forensics and a master’s degree in criminology & criminal justice. These academic pursuits developed out of her curiosity about the criminal mind as well as from her own experience with a violent psychopath, providing Jennifer with deep personal investment in every story she tells. In addition, she holds certifications in serial crime and criminal profiling.  She is an affiliate member of the International Association of Forensic Criminologists, and member of the International Thriller Writers.

Website: https://authorjenniferchase.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jchasenovelist

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJenniferChase

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2780337.Jennifer_Chase

Book Excerpt: The Fragile Ones by Jennifer Chase

We’re so excited to welcome Jennifer Chase, author of The Fragile Ones

THE FRAGILE ONES

The Fragile Ones

“Please Mommy, can Tessa and I go play on the swing by the creek?” the little girl begs, pushing a blonde curl from her eyes. “We’ll stay together, and we promise to be safe.” Hours later, their mother waits anxiously for her darling girls to arrive home with a list of reasons why they are late. But the front door never opens…

When the bodies of eleven and twelve-year-old sisters, Tessa and Megan, are found at the bottom of a ravine—dressed in matching pastel summer outfits, their small bodies broken from the fall—Detective Katie Scott is called to one of the most shocking and heartbreaking crime scenes of her career.

Carefully picking through the fragile remains, Katie makes the first of many disturbing discoveries: the girls were not biological sisters. The youngest, Megan, is a DNA match to a kidnapping case years before. The tiny number burnt into her skin the mark of a terrifying killer intent on keeping count of his collection.

Her PTSD from the army triggered, Katie is left reeling as she maps other missing children in the local area. Has this twisted soul found a way to stay nearby his victims? Could he be watching now as Katie hits one dead end after another?

A wild storm building, matching a fiber found during the autopsy to a nearby boatyard is the break Katie needs. But when another girl goes missing, just as lightning strikes and the power goes out, Katie only has her instincts, her team and her service dog to rely on. As time runs out for Katie to finds the stolen child alive, who will become the next number on this monster’s deadly list?

Fans of Lisa Regan, Rachel Caine and Melinda Leigh, you better buckle-up for the ride of your life! BEWARE – this gripping crime thriller is guaranteed to keep you up all night!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Walmart | BookBub

Excellent… nail-biting… had me enthralled from page one… gripped through each twist and turn… jaw-dropping and totally unexpected… brilliant.’ NetGalley reviewer, 5 stars

Enjoy an excerpt from The Fragile Ones

PROLOGUE

“Please can we go?” whined Tessa as she followed her mother through the living room and into the kitchen. “Please,” she said again, pushing her blonde curls away from her eyes. “I really want to go to the swing by the creek.”

“Not by yourself,” countered Mrs. Mayfield, ignoring her daughter’s angry stare. “We’ve talked about this before.”

“Yes, and you said I couldn’t go alone, and I’m not. Megan will be with me.” Tessa’s older sister was barely a year older and her best friend. Her mother began emptying the dishwasher, putting plates and glasses away in the cabinet. It was unclear if she was thinking about what Tessa had said or not, so she tried again. “I’m almost eleven and Megan is almost twelve. We’re practically teenagers,” she said. “Besides, Janey and her brother will probably be there.”

Mrs. Mayfield laughed. “You know, you would be a good lawyer the way you make your case.”

“I don’t want to be a lawyer. I’m going to be a vet,” Tessa said, grinning.

“Well, I know you are going to be whatever you want to be.” Mrs. Mayfield laughed to herself as she slipped the last piece of silverware into the drawer and turned to face her daughter. At the sound of her name, Megan had joined Tessa in the doorway and they both stood quietly waiting for an answer. Glancing at the wall clock with a sigh, she said, “You both have to be back by four thirty, not a second later. Understand?”

“Thank you! Thank you!” Tessa said, grabbing her sister’s hand in glee. Both girls were in denim shorts and pastel T-shirts with their favorite matching blue sneakers.

“Be home on time,” their mom called after them.

“We will,” chimed the girls.

Mrs. Mayfield heard the front door shut, followed by the sound of running footsteps.

She smiled and went back to her chores as the afternoon ticked by.

At 4:45 p.m. Mrs. Mayfield was waiting impatiently to hear the girls enter the house with a list of a dozen reasons why they were late—but the front door never opened. An hour after that, unable to wait any longer, she looked outside, thinking that the girls might be in the yard.

Debris from a croquet set littered the lawn; the wooden mallets abandoned and colored balls scattered as if the girls had been playing only moments ago. The trampoline in the corner had one of the girls’ bright blue sweatshirts hanging on the edge. It swayed slightly in the breeze.

There was no sign of them.

She ran through the house to the backyard, but it, too, was deserted. No whispers. No giggles. No shrieks of laughter. The wind was picking up and whistling through the branches and leaves of the surrounding trees—almost whispering a warning.

Mrs. Mayfield pulled off her apron and reached for her coat, deciding to walk to the creek and bring the girls back herself. At this point, she was more angry than concerned, knowing how they could be forgetful when they were having fun, and often lost track of time.

But surely they would be on their way home by now? she thought to herself asher pace quickened from a fast walk to a jog. Against her better judgment, and knowing that she couldn’t shelter them forever, she had crumbled and let them go down to the creek where one of the neighboring boys had constructed a swing that they loved to play on.

And now fear ripped through her body. “Tessa!” she yelled. “Megan!” Terrible scenarios shuffled through her thoughts as she tried desperately to keep her emotions on an even keel.

“Tessa! Megan!”

She yelled their names over and over until her voice went hoarse. Her chest felt strangely heavy and her vision blurred as she ran, but her strength and mother’s instinct pushed her forward, down the trail leading to the creek. The trail was well-worn by local kids looking for adventure and fun. Stumbling as she ran, she frantically turned left and then right. There wasn’t a soul around… She was alone. She kept moving.

Looking up at the tall pine trees, everything spun in a dizzying blur of forest and darkening sky. She squeezed her eyes tightly shut and open again, then stopped for a moment to listen.

The swing was only visible at the bottom of the path just above the creek and she could hear the water rushing below. Peering over the edge, there was no sign of them—or anyone. She kept turning, expecting to see her girls everywhere she looked. They weren’t there. All around her were discarded candy wrappers and remnants of fast food containers. Proof that children played here often.

There was no sound apart from the whisper of the trees. No children laughing nearby.

“Megan! Tessa!” she yelled again, but there was only silence. She ran all the way up the trail to the street, still calling their names in a full-blown panic.

Mrs. Mayfield turned her attention up the road, her mother’s instinct in high gear. Something blue lying beneath a bush caught her eye and she ran towards it.

She leaned down and her hand trembled over the light blue canvas before she forced herself to grab the abandoned blue sneaker.

No,” she said, barely breathing.

Written on the side tread of the shoe with a thick black pen was one word: Tessa.

Copyright © 2021 by Jennifer Chase. Shared with permission.

Jennifer Chase is a multi award-winning and USA Today BestSelling crime fiction author, as well as a consulting criminologist. Jennifer holds a bachelor degree in police forensics and a master’s degree in criminology & criminal justice. These academic pursuits developed out of her curiosity about the criminal mind as well as from her own experience with a violent psychopath, providing Jennifer with deep personal investment in every story she tells. In addition, she holds certifications in serial crime and criminal profiling.  She is an affiliate member of the International Association of Forensic Criminologists, and member of the International Thriller Writers. Find out more about Jennifer and her books at https://authorjenniferchase.com/. Follow her at Twitter and Facebook.

Character Interview: Bianca Brosnan from Lyla Oweds’ YA urban fantasy novel ‘The Grimm Cases series’

We’re thrilled to have here today Bianca Brosnan from Lyla Oweds’,  Young Adult Urban Fantasy, The Grimm Cases series. She is coming to us all the way from the Northeast United States.  It is a pleasure to have her with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you so for this interview, Bianca. 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?

Thank you for having me! To be honest, I have so many things to say—I don’t even know where to begin. For starters, everyone around me keeps throwing out the words ‘trauma’ and ‘recovery’, but I think they really don’t understand me at all. I’m completely fine. So what if I’m a little paranoid and anxious. As Finn finally admitted, almost everything I’ve ever worried about happens anyway, so it just means I’m right. I don’t understand why people can’t just take me at face value.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

I’m clear-headed and logical. It’s everyone else who doesn’t get it.

Worst trait?

I have a tendency to be too trusting. Just look at what happened the last time I let someone in? My own best friend had me institutionalized.

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?

Demi Lovato

Do you have a love interest in the book?

I’m kind-of dating these four guys, but they’re not allowed to have a steady girlfriend either. So, it’s complicated.

But we are best friends.

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

Yes. I was positive I was going to be used in a cannibalistic ritual.

I was eventually right (or at least, they tried).

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?

Finn. Because I hate him.

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

Well, my story is still ongoing, but as of right now I feel like I’ve made a lot of progress. I can be around other people without having an anxiety attack at least.

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

I would say to stop putting me in all these dangerous situations. I’m really tiring of having to kill people. I’m a pacifist at heart.

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

You sure will, I have thirteen more books to suffer through before Lyla finally gives me my happy ending.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lyla Oweds is an Amazon bestselling paranormal romance and urban fantasy author who resides in the beautiful Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania. She grew up near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and is a native of Baltimore, Maryland, and has a deep appreciation for the paranormal, hauntings, and Edgar Allan Poe. As such, she loves all things fantasy, mystery, crime, and horror.

When not reading, writing, or working as a web programmer, Lyla can be found doing adult-y things such as being a mom to small children, cleaning, and gardening. She also frequently enjoys makeup videos, massages, wine, and coffee.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

Website: http://lylaoweds.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lylaoweds

ABOUT THE BOOK

The things I see aren’t for the faint of heart.

And I am no longer willing to ignore them. Not even when my family, and my best friend, tell me to keep quiet about what’s happening. They say people will think I’m crazy.

Maybe I am.

But the spirit haunting my professor’s house is definitely trying to tell me something, and I’m the only one who can see it.

The one person who can help me is my best friend’s brother. But I don’t know if I can trust him or his friends. Or if I can step outside the protective bubble I’ve built around myself.

At this point it’s a toss up: the ghosts will kill me or my panic attacks will.

Either way, I figure I’m going to die.

ORDER YOUR COPY

Amazon → https://amzn.to/3r4qCRt

Interview with Kathleen Shaputis Author of His Kilt Dropped Here

Kathleen Shaputis, author/ghostwriter, lives in the glorious Pacific Northwest with her husband, Bob, a clowder of cats, two pompously protective Pomeranians with little social aptitude, Brugh and Miss Jazzy, and an overgrown adolescent blue tick coon hound, Juno.

If not writing during her lifestyle in an acre of forest, she keeps busy reading from her never-ending, to-be-read pile and watching romantic comedies. Her hygge in the woods.

Her latest book, His Kilt Dropped Here, finds Rogue Bruce enjoying running a Scottish castle turned bed-and-breakfast with her Aunt Baillie from America. They specialize in hosting romantic Elizabethan-themed weddings, complete with resident ghost, Lord Kai. But love is something Rogue is not the least bit interested in. Content with her work, she requires no male accompaniment for happiness.

A new delivery service brings Bruce MacKenzie, a Thor look-alike in plaid and denim, fetching more than the usual number of groceries from town, while Jonathan Olson, a snobbish, dark, Rhett Butler type, arrives at the castle to administer a writing seminar for aspiring authors. With two men after the heart she’d thought safely locked away, Rogue is flattered and confused. But when things start to take a sinister turn, danger befalls Rogue and those dear to her. The musical soundtrack of Rogue’s life flares from complacent, to dizzyingly romantic, to heart-thumping scary in this sizzling triangle.

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

I am grateful to say I am a multi-published author, a childhood dream come true. I’ve done a nation-wide book tour and I’ve taught classes to new writers. One last checkbox is having one of my books made into a movie and I have a walk-on part.

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?

My first book published was with 10 Speed Press, a non-fiction titled Grandma Online. I was peddling a rom com at writers conferences, and got a few nibbles, nothing exciting. I had been at two good-sized events, earlier in the year, where I heard a lot of “nonfiction is easier to sell.” I don’t write nonfiction as I am not an expert at anything. Around the end of summer, I woke up one morning and heard myself say, “I am a computer technician at work and a grandmother. What if I wrote a book for grandmothers about using a computer?”

I bought a copy of Eva Shaw’s book, Writing the Nonfiction Book. I studied every page about book proposals. My next conference was in January. I sold my pitch to the publisher over a glass of wine the first night. She had just had twins and her mother lived in Australia, she understood the concept immediately. We shook hands over a sweet deal.

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

The book came out about fourteen months later. First there was a word count problem. After I turned in my manuscript, per the contract, and a month early, I was hit with a demand for thirty-thousand additional words in two months. The contract should have read 60,000 words and not 30,000 words.

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

The night I shook hands over accepting the offer, I dashed up to my hotel room to call my husband. He wasn’t home. I called my sister. No one. Now this was before cell phones and I didn’t bring my address book with me, so I couldn’t call any of my girlfriends. I watched Run-away Bride on pay per view and ate some delicious cookies a dear friend had made me for luck to take with me.

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

I decoupaged a copy of the book’s cover onto a pair of earrings. Then made a couple of badges that said, “Ask me about Grandma Online.” I also bought a box of special pens with purple ink for book signings. The purple went with the purple cover.

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

Having a few nonfiction titles and a half-dozen novels, I’ve learned and stretched in a variety of ways. Grammar issues tend to jump out now. JK Rowling started one of her Harry Potter books with, “It was…” and I about had a fit. I was furious with her. An important part of a good story starts with a hook in the first line.

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

Publishing a book is hard work whether you self-publish or with a publisher. Having any modicum of success takes hard work plus luck. The industry contracts and expands constantly. There is never a “right” time to publish – there is just now. You can’t live with “if only…” If only I’d lived in the 1800’s like Jo in Little Women publishing would have been easier. eBooks did not kill hard cover or paperback books. And the Seven Sisters of New York Publishing are now the Big Five. Things will keep changing.

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

Being recognized by a fan, or when someone understands and loves one of your favorite characters.

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

Walt Disney said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” This is my motto. Write the book you dream of. When things open up, sign up for a conference. Or take an online writing class. The creative energy of being around or with other writers in intoxicating, uplifting, magical. Learn, know, succeed.

Interview with Rev. Dr. Leonidas A. Johnson, Author of ‘Phenomenal Vision Eyesight to Life Sight’

Rev. Dr. Johnson attended Evanston Township High School. From there he went on to study at Illinois Wesleyan University.  His professional education for his Doctor of Optometry degree was completed at the Southern California College of Optometry, now known as Marshall B. Ketchum University.  Rev. Dr. Johnson received his Master’s degree at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University. “I plan on leading a crusade against blindness due to age related cataracts. I’m able to do all these things because I serve a great God who does great things and He has allowed me to do great things,” commented Rev. Dr. Johnson. He has set up a foundation known as the Rev. Dr. Leonidas The Optometrist and The Miracle Eyes Foundation. See this web site for more information http://www.revleonidastheoptometrist.org. Due to his work demands – Dr. Johnson lives in both Chicago and Los Angeles.

In Rev. Dr. Johnson’s book, Phenomenal Vision Eyesight to Life Sight, readers will experience a concept called learning by comparison. Comparing physical vision with spiritual vision will help the readers see themselves and the world God created in a whole new light. Readers will see the world God created from a physical, mental, and spiritual vantage point that will enrich their lives, Rev. Dr. Johnson says. These vantage points help build a foundation for developing a decision-making strategy that is both liberating and biblically sound.

Beyond the Books: Nice to meet you Rev. Dr. Johnson. I’d like to begin by asking you how you found the time to write your book, Phenomenal Vision: Eyesight to Life Sight with your busy schedule?

Rev. Dr. Leonidas A. Johnson:  As with many things in life, you make time for the things you feel are most important and passionate about. Unfortunately following your dreams and passions can often conflict with what’s practical and required for survival. It can be a difficult balancing act at times but that’s one of the things in life that makes life’s journey interesting and exciting.

BTB: I’m really interested in finding out how vision plays an integral part of your book. How can we connect physical vision with spiritual vision?

Johnson: Vision is a physical, mental and spiritual phenomena of enlightenment. The physical eye is the part of the human body responsible for physical vision. The way we see physically can be studied, demonstrated, and illustrated. This mental understanding of how we see physically can be used as a template to illustrate how we see spiritually. This type of learning is called learning by comparison.

In the Bible physical light is contrasted with physical darkness and that understanding is used to draw a comparison between spiritual light and spiritual darkness. In the Old Testament when God talks about the Messiah, He talks about the Messiah coming to bring light. In the New Testament the theme of Jesus as the light can clearly be seen. Also, in scripture physical blindness is compared to spiritual blindness. In the Bible physical blindness is used as metaphor to represent the human condition of corruption and fallenness and the inability to comprehend Divine truth and spiritual realities. 

BTB: Do you remember your calling as a minister?

Johnson: When I accepted God’s call, I was already a licensed optometrist and I was serving as an ordained deacon in a Baptist Church. Also, at that time I was attending night school at a seminary as a part-time student. I realized my calling during a project to publish some of my father’s sermons.

BTB: I know your book is full of wisdom. Can you give us an excerpt from your book?

Johnson: “How do we keep looking and moving forward in life? Focus on the positives. I tell you as my father taught me, “Accentuate the positives, de-emphasize the negatives.”  P. 46

BTB: Where can people buy your book?

Johnson:  My book webpage is still being built because the ebook conversions are still not finalized. Currently waiting for iTunes. You can search the full title and find the book on Amazon, Barnes& Noble, iTunes, AALBC, etc. and buy from your preferred source.

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