Daily Archives: October 8, 2015

Book Event – Brimbank Shopping Centre


The awesome team over at Oz Authors is coming to the Brimbank Shopping Centre for the week starting 12th Oct 2015.

If you are in the area be sure to drop in and support Australian authors by buying a copy of their books.

ASJ Publishing authors, Max Davine and yours truly will be there signing copies of our books on October 17th.

Max Davine will be on from 1PM til 3PM, signing copies of his book, Dino Hunt.

I will be on from 11AM til 1PM, signing copies of my novel, Rise Of The Darkness.



Book Tour – With New Eyes: The Power of Perspective



Title: With New Eyes: The Power of Perspective
Author: Heidi Siefkas
Genre: Memoir / Inspiration

Heidi Siefkas lost her health, her career, and her marriage after she was struck by a one thousand-pound tree branch. While she made great strides in her physical and emotional recovery in the months that followed—an arduous process that she chronicled in When All Balls Drop—Heidi wasn’t content to merely survive her setbacks. The time was right to build a new life. One she could live on her own terms.

But what would a redesigned life look like? In her quest for answers, Heidi returned to her childhood home in Wisconsin, dove into the South Florida dating scene, revisited old flames in New England, sold her first home, jumped out of a plane, and traveled alone to South America. Every leg of her journey provided a healthy dose of perspective.

With New Eyes is full of mishaps and bold decisions, all seasoned with sassy humor. Through her signature down-to-earth vignettes, Heidi inspires you to conquer your fears, head for adventure, and be the captain of your own ship.

Author Bio
Heidi Siefkas is an author and adventurer. Originally from small-town Wisconsin, she lives in Kauai and also calls the Midwest and South Florida home. Heidi is currently writing her third book, Cubicle to Cuba, which features a humorous collection of stories about her travels to Cuba, Peru, New Zealand, Italy, and other far-flung places.

Heidi invites you to share photos on social media that show where you are enjoying With New Eyes (#withneweyes). You can connect with Heidi at http://www.heidisiefkas.com, Facebook, and Twitter.

Buy the Book
B&N link: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/with-new-eyes-heidi-siefkas/1122444660?ean=9781627872607
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26089577-with-new-eyes
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/New-Eyes-Power-Perspective/dp/1627872604/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8


Book Excerpt

Just Let Go

With my heart racing and chilled to the bone, I gripped the edge of the airplane door. Harnessed between the long legs of a man I’d met only a half hour before, I had to focus on Randy’s words.

“Okay, Heidi, head back and cross your arms,” he commanded. “And . . . let’s . . . GO!”

Jumping at ten thousand feet—that was when I just let go. Arms extended and eyes wide open, I was free-falling through the frigid air. Everything was flapping, from my forehead to my cheeks and lips. I could hear the light blue material of my jumpsuit beating violently like a sail in an ocean storm’s wind gust. Suddenly, I focused in on a jumper nearby, the videographer filming us. In tandem, Randy and I were heading straight for him.

I watched the videographer falling flat-backed, his abdomen toward the sky, as if in an orchestrated scene in an action thriller. Then Randy quickly grabbed his legs. From there, the three of us—like synchronized swimmers—did circles in the air again and again and again. All of my fear and anxiety had been overtaken by these moments of dancing at high speeds. It felt effortless!

Totally in awe, I screamed, “Hoooooly shit!”

Within a matter of seconds, Randy released the videographer’s legs. We separated like magnets with similar poles, and I quickly lost sight of him. Then Randy pulled the parachute cord. Together, we jerked to a forced reduced speed, which didn’t feel all that slow to me. Although we had free-fallen for about sixty seconds, we still had a long way to go before hitting the flat field below. To give us more breathing room, he loosened the harness, creating a contrast to the intimate and intense contact of the past few minutes.

“This isn’t your first jump,” Randy shouted so I could hear.

“Oh yes, it is. And that was fuckin’ awesome.”

“But you didn’t seem afraid of it at all. You’re embracing the jump as if it were routine.”

“I’ve gone through one hell of a year. I broke my neck and got a divorce. Need I say more?”

Juggling Lots of Balls

Only a year prior to throwing myself out of that airplane, I was juggling a lot of balls: a happy marriage to a successful Brazilian chef; a home outside of Fort Lauderdale, Florida; and a physically active lifestyle, partaking in all the outdoor sports that the sun, sand, and water of Florida have to offer. The most consuming “ball” was a sixty-hour-a-week career as an ambitious, globetrotting travel-industry executive.

I thought I was Superwoman.

But despite my belief that I had things under control, it all came crashing down. Exactly one year before this skydiving adventure, all those balls I juggled—health, marriage, and career—dropped when a thousand-pound tree limb struck me down in New York’s Hudson River Valley. The limb broke my neck and left me unconscious for days.

If you have read my previous book When All Balls Drop, you followed me through the pain and frustration of recovery from such a traumatic injury while my marriage disintegrated and my career vanished. When I could, I returned to Poughkeepsie, New York, to revisit The Tree. Doing so sparked a shift in perspective that guided me to redesign my life. Standing in the same place with the same tree—but seeing it with new eyes—marked the end of one agonizing chapter of my recovery and the beginning of a wholesale life change.

That’s why on the anniversary of the traumatic tree accident, I was tied to another man’s waist, embracing life not close to the edge but off that edge, celebrating the gift of seeing the world with new eyes.

After that game-changing visit to The Tree, much healing still lay ahead. With New Eyes picks up where When All Balls Drop left off, starting with a pilgrimage back to my home town in Wisconsin.

Book Tour – Not in God’s Name: Making Sense of Religious Conflict

Not in God's Name banner

Title: Not in God’s Name: Making Sense of Religious Conflict
Author: Paula Fouce
Publisher: Paradise Filmworks International
Pages: 254
Genre: Nonfiction/Religion
Format: Paperback/Kindle/Nook/iTunes

“We’re all praying to the same Divine, which is called by many names or no name at all.” In her new book, NOT IN GOD’S NAME: MAKING SENSE OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT (based on award winning film that aired on PBS “Not in God’s Name: In Search of Tolerance with the Dalai Lama”), Paula Fouce searches for solutions to end the escalating violence between religious groups. She has lived and worked in many South Asian countries including India, Tibet, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Kashmir, where she experienced a variety of vast cultural and religious diversity. But Fouce came face-to-face with the destructiveness of religious-based conflict while in India when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards.

As a result of Gandhi’s murder, thousands of Sikhs were massacred. Fouce escaped unharmed, but she was shaken by the explosion of violence from a people who had treated her with care and compassion before the death of their leader. The experience prompted Fouce to undergo a personal quest to understand the reasons behind the intolerance. What was the genesis of violent religion-inspired conflicts – the underlying chaos that has led to major violent conflicts such as the Crusades (1095–1291), the Partition of India in 1947, the 2009 Mumbai attacks, the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, the 2015 Paris attacks, and other religion-inspired conflicts?

In NOT IN GOD’S NAME: MAKING SENSE OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT, Fouce shares her journey for spiritual enlightenment that began after she survived a car crash in which she was thrown from the vehicle. After her recovery, Fouce traveled to India in 1974 for a semester of study focused on Hindu and Buddhist art. During an early trip, Fouce met Mother Teresa. She returned to India after graduating from college to continue her spiritual exploration, export art, and guide luxury tours.

NOT IN GOD’S NAME: MAKING SENSE OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT discusses the histories of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity, as well as Jainism, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism, and other religions. Fouce spoke with several leaders in the religious tolerance movement, including the Dalai Lama; Mark Juergensmeyer, professor of Religion at the University of California, Santa Barbara; Dr. Karan Singh, a member of India’s Upper House of Parliament; and Dr. Joseph Prabhu, a trustee of the Council for the Parliament of the World’s Religions. In the book, the author asks probing questions of faith leaders and scholars in order to devise solutions for ending the violence among religious groups.

“Although there are differences, we can develop a deep respect for all faith traditions that contribute untold richness to our civilization. Religious tolerance is our greatest tool for promoting world peace,” Fouce says. She identifies specific causes of religious intolerance and offers solutions for bringing the world’s faiths together.
After escaping the Indian religious riots in 1984, Fouce was “was struck with how religion had been twisted and used to create dissention and violence, the antithesis of its intention. My point of view is focused on how to bridge our differences; and my book goes into detail, even describing the compassion training that is now taught in many top universities.” Over the three-year period that Fouce worked on NOT IN GOD’S NAME: MAKING SENSE OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT, she used the transcripts from interviews for the film documentary of the same title (which was aired on PBS stations nationwide) and researched news stories of current religious conflicts. “Education is sorely needed to ensure a peaceful world where it is understood that diversity is not a threat or a detriment to one’s own good. Diversity is to be celebrated,” Fouce says. “Our unquestionable right as human beings is to freely worship the God of our understanding and to follow that spiritual path whose practices support our doing so.”
Fouce’s purpose for writing NOT IN GOD’S NAME: MAKING SENSE OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT is to help the reader to understand that there are solutions to religious intolerance. “How do we change the minds of violent fundamentalists? This is the real task ahead, together with preventing people from being attracted to such ideology in the first place. Can we find a middle ground, a live-and-let live coexistence? Herein lies the only answer to the challenge of creating a peaceful future with acceptance. The continued existence of the human race depends on it.”

Not in God's Name

For More Information

  • Not in God’s Name: Making Sense of Religious Conflict is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Download your copy at iTunes.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

About the Author

Paula Fouce

Paula Fouce is a critically acclaimed filmmaker and author. Her film credits include Not in God’s Name: In Search of Tolerance with the Dalai Lama, Song of the Dunes: Search for the Original Gypsies (PBS stations), Naked in Ashes, Origins of Yoga, and No Asylum. Her new book, NOT IN GOD’S NAME: MAKING SENSE OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT, delves deeper into the subject of religious intolerance and offers solutions that are aimed at uniting all faiths. She was partner and director of KRCA TV Channel 62 in Los Angeles and served as co-chair of the Southern Asian Art Council at Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Fouce is the owner and president of Paradise Filmworks International, a production company based in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. She is currently working on a book that chronicles her experiences living and traveling with the yogis in the Himalayas.

For More Information

Book Excerpt

In the countryside outside Delhi, our car sped past endless miles of yellow mustard fields gently rippling in the warm breeze.  It was 2002. My friend Arif was taking me to visit madrassas, Muslim religious schools, in the small agricultural villages. A Kashmiri Muslim, Arif was keen to help me comprehend the causes of religious bigotry. He too had witnessed strife between followers of different religions. I had met him years before in India, when we were both immersed in the peaceful lifestyle of the Himalayas.  It was an idyllic time.

Turning off the main road onto a dirt path, we dodged ancient bullock carts lumbering past. The air was clean out here and I inhaled deeply. The village was peaceful and picturesque. Our car pulled up to a rambling clutch of cement buildings. One was quite elaborate, bearing a striking resemblance to a mini Taj Mahal.

As we climbed out, Arif said, “You don’t know much about Islam, so here’s your chance, to ask this guy whatever you want.”

“True, I’ve been living with Hindu yogis, but this will be totally different.”

Yogis eschewed society’s distractions to seek the answers to the deepest questions of life. They allowed me to accompany them on the ancient footpaths to sacred shrines high up in the Himalayan Mountains. I had spent time photographing them for a book on yogis, Shiva that I wrote with my friend, Denise Tomecko. “The way the Hindus embraced me, their kindness was overwhelming! They invited me into their temples and homes, and offered me their only piece of bread.”

“That’s right, in India our favorite saying is, “Guest is God,” he laughed.

“That’s when I know the snacks and milk tea are coming. Even though they have so little.”

It felt a little strange accepting the boundless offerings they showered on me. I had grown up privileged in Los Angeles with loving parents, and had been fortunate to attend the best private schools. “The yogis and lay people viewed me only as spirit, as an expression of God.”

“That’s India,” Arif laughed.

“You’re right, this is a good chance to talk to a Muslim holy man!” Walking across the powdery dirt clearing surrounded by yellow mustard flowers towards traditional buildings covered in intricate Islamic patterns, we were greeted by young Muslim boys attired in colorfully embroidered baggy trousers and long loose shirts, with skull caps, their huge smiles revealing perfect bright white teeth.  A man with a long beard sitting on a hemp cot, greeted us with the traditional “Salaam halekum,” and motioned me to sit. Hindu, Muslim and Sikh villagers were gathered at his feet in rapt attention as he sat relaxing outside.

Arif explained, “As the head of the madrassa, school they seek him out for prayers and healings, they scribble their problems and those of loved ones onto those small slips of paper”.  The faithful folded the scraps and dropped them on the cot where the holy man prayed over them.

He requested one of his young students to bring tea, as well as his massive, aged and dog-eared copy of the Quran. He stood and made a point of showing me passages in the holy book about Jesus and Mary.

He read in Urdu and Arif translated, “If somebody had leprosy, he would be healed. And he would go to the graveyard and tell the dead people, “get up,” and they would rise. And he would tell the people what was in their house, and the house would be many miles, five hundred miles away. He knew all, this was a symbol of Jesus Christ.”

I asked him, “What is Jesus called in the Quran?”

“Isa Massi. There are two stories about Christ in the Quran. This is another one.” He turned the pages. Arif continued translating, “It’s about Mary now. She was taking a bath in the jungle, cordoned off with cloth. Gabriel came. She was under a date tree, and she would just shake the tree and eat the dates during her pregnancy. And there was a spring right there, where she used to get the water, right there in that place. It’s written in the Quran. And she came with the child, and people sort of looked down upon her wondering, how, where did she get this baby? And the child spoke at that time. He was ten days old. ‘I am God’s follower and I am sent by God, and I have come with the Bible, the book of God. And I will always listen to my Mother.’”

“He went to Israel, that is where he was crucified. From there he vanished. And he’s alive up there,” he pointed skyward. “And he’ll come back again to us,” the Muslim man smiled.

I was touched by how he sought to find common ground with me, pointing a bony finger at the Islamic script as if I could actually read every word; he enthusiastically recited the passages aloud in his gravelly voice.

The wizened holy man then led us into the madrassa where a row of boys sat on the floor huddled over a long, low wooden table supporting massively thick Qurans. Their haunting melodic voices recited from the holy book for hours as they tried to memorize its’ words. “By the time they are eighteen,” Arif explained, “they will know the entire Quran by heart.

Not in God’s Name: Making Sense of Religious Conflict
by Paula Fouce

Nowadays every time we look at a newspaper or hear the news, we are confronted by hatred in the name of religion. Today divisions between faiths ravage our world. At any given time, there are fifty conflicts being fought in the name of religion.  Not in God’s Name: Making Sense of Religious Conflict examines why religious clashes are on the rise, and why these different creeds often don’t live in harmony with each other.  Since time immemorial humankind has searched for something greater than ourselves, and has found immense inspiration through belief in a high power. But religion, a source of great peace is sometimes used to create division and strife. Not in God’s Name is a non-fiction book examining the question – “Why do people kill in the name of God?”

I began to ask this question after a life-altering event 28 years ago, when I witnessed first-hand violent acts committed by people in the name of their faith. In 1984, following the assassination of India’s Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards, I was trapped in a religious riot when a bus I was traveling on was halted by Hindus who were looking for Sikhs to murder in revenge. The country exploded in days of blood letting. India, with a population of 1.2 billion, is a microcosm of our world, and the cradle of many of the world’s great faiths. Normally these religions co-exist peacefully despite extremely close quarters. But sometimes things go terribly wrong.

Throughout South Asia I lived and studied with yogis, monks and teachers of several faith traditions; and worked in Kashmir, Pakistan, Tibet, and Afghanistan. My experience up to the time of the riot was steeped in peacefulness and acceptance. But when many of these regions transformed into hotbeds of violence, it became important to search for solutions, and write about the advice offered by many great religious leaders.

My quest for answers to the global problem of violence committed in God’s name took me on a journey to the doorsteps of the leaders of many religions, including Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism and Jainism to examine the causes for religious strife. I visited madrassas and met hard liners as well as peaceful students of Islam.

Perhaps the most famous of the leaders I met are Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama. In his interview, the Dalai Lama shares his insights into ways to break the tragic cycle of intolerance that has escalated, in some cases, to the point of nuclear confrontation. Even in the United States, where freedom of religion is a fundamental right of every citizen, differing religious views have caused deadly consequences over such matters as abortion rights, and have forced airport security to tighten. Not in God’s Name scrutinizes the role that politics, territorial disputes, the exclusive claim to truth, and the lack of economic opportunity play in perpetuating this cycle of aggression. This book is very important as the plague of religious intolerance, and the actions it triggers threaten the peaceful existence of our world.

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