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VBT – How Not to Succeed in Hollywood

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About the Author

Marissa Thomas

Marissa Thomas left her home in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to pursue her dream of acting in Hollywood. Without industry contacts, she had to educate herself about the business. In How Not to Succeed in Hollywood, Marissa shares her experiences, both good and bad.

In addition to writing, Marissa is a licensed hair stylist. She also enjoys painting and produced the artwork for the cover of How Not to Succeed in Hollywood.

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About the Book

How Not to Succeed in Hollywood

Title: HOW NOT TO SUCCEED IN HOLLYWOOD
Author: Marissa Thompson
Publisher: Harlequin
Pages: 436
Genre: Humor/Fiction

BOOK BLURB:

In HOW NOT TO SUCCEED IN HOLLYWOOD, Marissa Thomas offers readers an inside view of one young woman’s journey to fulfill her dream of becoming an actor. The personal and humorous story of Lisa reveals the often difficult and inspiring process of navigating the entertainment industry.

The acting bug bit Lisa during her first elementary school talent show. After receiving positive reviews for her performance from her fellow students and impressed parents alike, Lisa basked in the high she felt from being on stage. She ventured further into the acting world as a teenager when she enrolled in a twelve-week acting program. Although plagued with some doubt about her potential to become an actor, the experience reignited the spark that had originally lead her down the road of performance.

HOW NOT TO SUCCEED IN HOLLYWOOD follows the staggered path that Lisa took on her journey to achieve her acting dream. Her love for acting expanded when Lisa entered college and began auditioning for plays produced by the theater department. Reassured by the exhilaration she felt while acting, Lisa made the decision to leave her home and move to Hollywood to pursue her passion, but first she had to tie up a few loose ends. After a whirlwind romance with a fellow student, Lisa found herself moving into her own apartment while juggling school and work, as well as taking the steps to fill out her acting resume. A car accident that resulted in serious physical injuries led to a slowdown in her momentum. However, Lisa’s best friend, Mike, who already had a solid plan to move to Hollywood, gave her the encouragement she needed to overcome multiple obstacles so that she could move forward with her goal.

Marissa wrote HOW NOT TO SUCCEED IN HOLLYWOOD to give “anyone curious about Hollywood culture another point of view from someone coming from a completely different world, aka the Midwest, taking the plunge, and immersing herself in a new life.” Marissa says the book is “the story of my life. I can’t tell anyone any surefire methods of getting cast for your dream project. I’m just sharing my life experience. Anyone with a relentless dream has to find sanity in the limbo between a self-motivated fantasy career and the harshness of having to survive real life in the process. We’re all human, and sometimes all you can do is laugh. Set a goal, and break a leg.”

 

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Book Excerpt:

“I’m glad you get to come to opening night of the play,” I said to my boyfriend, casually, while we started digging into our boxed dinner.

“I know. I’m glad, too.  You’ve been working hard, and it seems pretty important to you,” he replied.

“It is. We’ve all been working on it for months,” I reminded him.

“Well, is it because you’ve been spending all this time on it, or is it because it’s something you really want to do?” he asked.

It seemed like a very obvious question. I hadn’t thought about it that way. Why do we put all the time and effort into projects like this? Projects that don’t provide a paycheck, cause us to rearrange our schedules, and even add stress due to the unwritten requirement to provide a quality performance. He really made me think. It wasn’t even a conscious decision on my part. I welcomed the chaos of the production into my life. The answer to his question was as obvious as the soy sauce on the egg rolls.

My mind started to wander. I almost felt like I was becoming a part of an actors’ anonymous group and professing my addiction. My name is Lisa, and I’m an actress. I could picture the scene:  Beautiful people sitting in a circle, each of them with a monologue in hand. And everyone waiting his or her turn to speak about the repercussions, good and bad, that the industry has had their lives. It was like a support group, to help each other through the bad auditions, drop hints about where to find the legit ones, and tips on how to nail them. Who knew how true that statement was? After a brief moment of fantasy, I was back to reality.

“I do. I really want to do it.” I turned back to my food and continued eating. “It’s something I want to pursue.” It felt good to say it out loud, and to admit it to myself.

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VBT – You Can Change the World

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About the Author

Bever-leigh Banfield, M.F.A. is a writer, actress, voice over artist, host and speaker. She has penned numerous celebrity interviews, one of which, published in Essence magazine, won the American Diabetes Association National Media Award for journalism. As an actress, Bever-leigh has performed in television shows, movies, Broadway and off-Broadway theater and national commercials. Her voice has been heard in TV and radio ads, as an ABC network announcer, in animated films and cartoons, and as narrator of planetarium space shows at landmark Griffith Observatory in Hollywood. Ms. Banfield holds an M.F.A. from the Yale University School of Drama and a B.A. from Stanford University. She has lived in Europe and the Caribbean, and traveled in Africa, South America, and across the United States. She has been gifted with psychic perception since childhood, and as an intuitive, has experienced a vision of world peace. Creating is her joy. Her debut non-fiction book You Can Change The World is about helping you be who you are meant to be, and do what you are meant to do – live your dreams, and change the world for the better!

Bever-Leigh Banfield

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About the Book

Title: YOU CAN CHANGE THE WORLD: BE A CHANGE WIZARD AND GET IT LIKE YOU LIKE IT
Author: Bever-leigh Banfield
Publisher: Twinkle Entertainment
Pages: 366
Genre: Nonfiction

You Can Change the World

BOOK BLURB:

You have an ultimate magic within you, capable of transforming yourself, your life and everything that exists. You needn’t fear change, leave it to others, or get stuck with whatever happens next. You can pull heaven right out of your hat with the alchemy of your heart and mind. You just have to know how to use your abracadabra presto change-o. You can make things disappear or pop up because you are the change you crave. Your dream is a reality somewhere, ready for you to experience it by making change your BFF. Tap into who you’re meant to be, and the special thing you’re meant to do – with this book about your mission in life, and how you can have it materialize to be happier, healthier, wealthier, wiser, and make the world a better place.

Book Trailers:

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tovJ5uT-k3M

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7hNHl18qJo

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Book Excerpt

Welcome. I’m so glad you’re here. You are my brothers and sisters, and I’m excited to get into this. Okay, first let’s claim your ideal life—because it is ready to bring you joy. Your ideal life is the one the world is waiting to experience, watching to see it reveal and unfold.

When you envision the life you most want to lead, what do you see? Great health, of course. Maybe the perfect body, at the weight and shape that makes you feel invincible, relatable, and up for anything at any time. A high-paying, cool job, with health benefits—or maybe self-employment you can’t wait to get to every day. Let’s toss in some work that fulfills you, stretches your talents and abilities, and challenges your mind. Perhaps you desire Prince Charming too, riding up on his mighty steed to take your hand, or a Sleeping Beauty awaiting your sexy kiss to awaken her love. You might only long for a roof above your head that doesn’t leak, or that new car that doesn’t break down, puff smoke from the tailpipe, or embarrass you when you pull up to valet park. You may simply desire security, whatever your concept of that is. Maybe you crave a weekly mani-pedi or massage, relaxing vacays in exotic ports, a closet full of designer clothes, the latest tech, some diamond bling, a pair of name-brand athletic or red-soled shoes and cozy creature comforts. You could be aiming to play a sport, or pursue a hobby you adore. And who doesn’t want some excitement, adventure and fun to liven up their days? If you’ve chosen to have children, you will want them to grow up happy, healthy, prosperous, kind, educated and free. You will want all that’s good for them, and resolve to help that happen.

Though you might not want any of these, it might also be true you want all of them. And yet, there is something you must want most. Are you in touch with what that is? If not, then this is the time to seek it out and have it come to you. When you’re alone—or not alone—in the dark at night with your active mind, or when you wake up in the morning and realize the universe has gifted you with another day of living your life, what do you want to do with it? Do you want your life to shine, or are you content to just get through it, putting one foot in front of the other, surviving as the clock ticks and the years fly by like soaring jets.

When someone discovers an abnormality in some vital body part, or loses a parent, a child, a marriage, their business or a job, or is presented with some other ginormous hill to climb to reclaim their life, things tend to zoom into focus. Disparate ideas seem to coalesce into helpful realizations. They’re given to epiphany, become open to insights they’ve never received before. They often drop all pretense, and become able to skirt trivialities that might have irked them earlier. Other people in their life come closer or fall away. Those remaining are held cherished, and communication blossoms. Longrepressed yearnings surface that may cause them to rethink their choices and mull over past mistakes or missteps they may feel have brought them to that point. People look for the meaning of their lives, and seek to address and fulfill it when the rubber is meeting the road, the chips are down, and their back is to the wall.

Why wait for such a cataclysm? Life is occurring with every breath. Every now gives way to another now that presents great opportunity. Every instant is calling you to rise up and reach your highest consciousness, and nothing is standing in your way. On the contrary, even the beat of your heart is designed to uplift and support you.

You are the answer to all of your questions.

You are the change you’ve been waiting to see.

CHANGE CHALLENGE

How To Be A Change Wizard In Seven Steps

by Bever-leigh Banfield

Here we are in the holidays again! And you may be asking why all those things you thought would magically change this year may not have morphed as quickly as zombies transmute in The Walking Dead. It might feel like this year has streaked by at the speed of light and left nothing to show for it. That five pounds that was going to melt away still clinging and turning into ten? Still no date for New Years Eve? Drinking too much or sleeping too little? Closet still packed with clothes you never took the price tags off of and never wore or, worse yet, are still sporting despite their, shall we say, tattered appearance, advancing age and glaring out-of-styleness? Well, help is here. Or at least on the way – depending on how you transform your life by changing your state of mind.

Change is an inside job that can happen in the blink of an eye or at glacial pace. The good news is it’s up to you. You are The Changer and you are The Change. When you change, you change the world. You can commit to BE the change and work to see it come about. You can decide to work for change and make change work for you. Not just any old change, but change for the better. Change big enough to change the world.

You’re wired for change. You’re supposed to transform. It’s the reason you’re alive. Feeling you need to change is not an embarrassment or a sign of weakness. It’s the seed of greatness planted in you germinating, sprouting, budding, signaling it’s time to bloom. Change is what you’re here for – to become much more of YOU. 2018 is calling your name and you’re ready. Here’s how to take it on for you and those around you. You’re entering the realm of the Change Challenge now. Ready? C’mon, let’s go!

STEP ONE – DECIDE:

Decide that you want to change, that you’re willing and ready and up for change. That you’re able to change anything you want – from top to bottom, from inside out. Take a breath. Close your eyes. Envision yourself. See your loftiest self where you most want to be. What are you doing? Who are you with? How are you at your happiest? Explore this. Touch it. Taste it. Smell it. Hear it. Capture the feeling. Meditate on your miracle.

STEP TWO – EXPLORE:

Identify what you need to change. Is it your living situation? Is it the state of your finances? Is it a job that you’ve outgrown? A relationship that doesn’t serve you anymore or never did? Is it the way you treat yourself, your parents, your mate, your kids, your friends? Whatever it is, call it out. Nail it down. It’s on its way to change.

STEP THREE – COMMIT:

Commit to implementing change to make yourself healthier, happier, more effective, more at peace. Commit to letting yourself be changed for the better in every way you can, and to changing the ills around you, by your example if nothing else. Claim the life you want to live and the way you want to live it. Realize that you change the world every glorious minute of every day, with every thought, word and deed you bring to it, every vibration you emit. You’re lifting up people in your sphere or causing derision in your midst. You’re encouraging people or tearing them down. You’re creating or destroying. You’re an up or a Debbie or Donald Downer. Face it, you matter, you have an effect. Commit to being a benefit.

STEP FOUR – DREAM:

Dream a huge dream, and make it good. Set your imagination free. Set goals that can bring about lasting, impactful changes as far as your eye can see. Imagine a better world that works for everyone, everywhere, all the time. Let it come into focus as sharp as a camera lens or magnifier. Protect your dream from negatives. Be convinced that your dream life exists somewhere, that it’s yours and it’s meant to come true.

STEP FIVE – PLAN

Take the time to make a plan. It can change and become more detailed as you go, but you must have a plan you can implement to bring what may now just exist in your mind into form that the world can experience. Brainstorm the steps you’ll need to take. Write them down. Make notes as your ideas form. Create as coherent a plan as you can. You may only be able to see the first step when you start. Have faith. A plan will form.

STEP SIX – TASKS     

Plot the tasks your plan demands and set out to perform them one at a time. You can multitask if you do it well, as long as you focus on one thing at a time and you prioritize. Keep in mind what’s important and do that first. Organize a team to help you.

STEP SEVEN – PERSEVERE

A determined mindset is key to ensuring maximum performance. Avoid letting anything get in the way of doing what you know you must, or allowing people, circumstances or events to dissuade or discourage you. Be brave. Stay on course as it twists and turns. Be consistent and flexible. Research. Learn. Keep going until your dream comes true.

I’m rooting for you and I send you love. Go out and change the world!

 

Blog Tour – The Solicitor

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About the Author

Sean Keefer

While growing up in South Carolina, Sean didn’t realize it, but he was absorbing the styles, mannerisms, idiosyncrasies, dialects and the culture of his home.   Add to this the time he spent traveling the other Carolina for school and then North America for work, he collected a vast array of experiences and observations from which to draw upon and bring together in his writing.

After studying law in North Carolina, Sean settled in Charleston, South Carolina and instantly became enamored with the people as well as the city.

One day he started writing and the words, generally, kept flowing. A page became a chapter which ultimately became a book known as The Trust.  After this the process started again and The Solicitor was the end result. Hopefully, if you are reading this you either have, or soon will have, your very own copy of one or both.

The experience of taking two novels from conceptualization to print has been one of frustration peppered with increasing amounts of reward.  Each step from the first words hitting the page to ultimately holding a book in hand has been a personal reward.

When Sean is not writing he practices Family Law and works as a Domestic Mediator and lives with his Wife and an ever-expanding pack of rescue canines – the current count is 4.  As well, Sean can frequently be found wandering the lowcountry of South Carolina with his camera, playing guitar in assorted venues around Charleston or exploring the underwater world of the southeast.

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About the Book

 The Solicitor

Title: THE SOLICITOR
Author: Sean Keefer
Publisher: Four Hounds Creative
Pages: 386
Genre: Mystery

BOOK BLURB:

When you make your living fighting for justice, the last place you expect to wake up is behind bars.

Attorney Noah Parks has spent his life keeping people out of jail.  When he’s charged with the murder of a candidate for Charleston County Solicitor he finds himself on the wrong side of the law for a crime he says he didn’t commit.

No longer fighting for others and now relying on the help of the few people he does trust, Noah must fight to clear his name and find the real killer before it’s too late.

His search will lead him through a maze of deceptions, lies, family turmoil and treachery that spans generations.

The Solicitor is set in historic Charleston and the surrounding South Carolina Lowcountry where under the surface things are not always as genteel as they appear.

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Book Excerpt

Prologue

The sun’s arrival just as it cleared the horizon had always marked my favorite time of day. It wasn’t unusual to find me at dawn on the Carolina shore gazing to the east in anticipation, the ocean breeze softly brushing my face. The fleeting moments when the first rays of sunlight painted an explosion of color were more than enough to leave me knowing I was fortunate having witnessed it. Those, those were my favorite mornings and anything that followed was a bit less complicated, easier to handle.

I found myself in desperate need of such a morning.

But today there would be only cold concrete.

For the past five days, my sunrise had been a sliver of light crawling across the floor of my jail cell.

At first, I’d looked forward to it, but on the third day I realized I’d need a lot more to get me through the day, otherwise, that mere slice of sun would soon be pushing me into the icy grip of depression.

I’d quickly learned jail had a way of ushering in melancholy, even for the most optimistic. Most everyone inside, even the guards, were simply miserable.

My bail hearing had been a waste of everyone’s time. Accused murders don’t get bail with their first request, sometimes not on the second, if at all. The fact I’m a lawyer wasn’t helping. The last thing a judge wants to do is give the impression that a lawyer, particularly a criminal attorney like me, is entitled to special treatment.

Things change fast. Days earlier, my life, while not perfect, had been good.

I’d taken my girlfriend to the airport to catch a late-night flight to Chicago. She’d recently relocated to Charleston, but was wrapping up her ties to Chicago.

After returning from the airport, I turned on ESPN, eager to hear what the talking heads had to say about the South Carolina Gamecock’s next football game. As was the case for most Gamecock fans, their football season sanity ebbed or flowed with the team’s weekly performance.

It was a cool fall night and the windows were open as I watched TV from bed, my dog at my feet. Both he and I looked up as we heard a car outside–odd for that time of night in our quiet neighborhood.

The sound of the doorbell was even more unexpected, so much so I didn’t immediately get up. Rarely did anyone just drop by, especially near midnight. The second ring was immediately followed by a knock. I got out of bed, pulled on jeans and a T-shirt and went down the stairs. Austin, my Australian Shepherd, was barking and jumping beside me as I unlocked the door. He sat on my command.

I opened the door to the sight of a tall black man in plainclothes with a Charleston Police Department badge on his belt. Three uniformed Charleston County deputy sheriffs flanked him. Three police cars occupied my drive. An unmarked cruiser in the cul-de-sac completed the scene. Thankfully none had their lights on. I shifted my gaze back to the officers. Not a smile among them.

This couldn’t be good, I remember thinking.

“Noah, how about I come in?” Emmett Gabriel said. He looked me straight in the eyes. We were the same height, just under six feet tall, but the lack of a smile, his badge, and the deputies that flanked him made him feel bigger and much stronger than me.

I’d heard his voice many times before. At the police station, in his backyard, over a meal, on my back deck, other times through the years but never near midnight with other police officers standing on my front porch.

“Since when have you ever asked permission to come in the house?  What’s wrong?”

“Noah, let’s talk inside?”

I just stood in the doorway. Silent and motionless.

One of the officers behind him coughed, jarring me back to reality.

I stepped to the side. “Sorry, certainly, come in.”

“Wait outside,” Gabriel said to the deputies.

We walked down the short hallway into my living room in silence.

“Where’s Anna Beth?”

A feeling of panic ran through me as he asked about my girlfriend.

“Is she okay?”

“As far as I know. She not here?”

“No. Chicago trip.”

The feeling of panic faded to one of wonder, wondering why at midnight a detective I knew was standing, unannounced, in my living room while three other anxious officers were staged on my front porch. I asked why he was here. Wonder quickly faded with the next words I heard.

“The officers outside have a warrant for your arrest.”

Having never been one to miss the obvious, I remember uttering my insightful reply, “A warrant?”

“Yes, for the murder of Andrew Stephens.

 

VBT – Depression in Later Life

About the Author

Dr. Deborah Serani is a psychologist in practice over 25 years, an associate adjunct professor at Adelphi University and a TEDx speaker on the subject of depression. She is also a go-to expert on psychological issues. Dr. Serani is the author of the award-winning books, Living with Depression, Depression and Your Child: A Guide for Parents and Caregivers and Depression in Later Life: An Essential Guide published by Rowman & Littlefield.

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About the Book

Title: DEPRESSION IN LATER LIFE: AN ESSENTIAL GUIDE
Author: Dr. Deborah Serani
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
Pages: 286
Genre: Self-Help/Psychology

BOOK BLURB:

The geriatric population, defined as men and women 65 years and older, is the fastest growing population in the world. Little attention has been given to the mental health of the aging, and often treatable disorders are overlooked entirely. Depression is one of the leading mental disorders in any age group, but among the elderly, it is often viewed as a normal part of aging. But it’s not. Depression at any age requires attention and treatment.

Depression in Later Life is a go-to guide that introduces readers to depression among the aging and elderly. It looks at both sufferers who’ve been diagnosed in their younger years as well as those with a new diagnosis, and reviews the symptoms, the diagnostic process, treatment options including alternative and holistic approaches, and long-term care for those experiencing mild, moderate, or severe depression. With real stories throughout, the book illustrates the many forms depression can take, and Dr. Serani offers a compassionate voice alongside practical advice for sufferers, caregivers, and families.

BOOK IS AN AWARD WINNER: 2016 Gold Medal Winner, Psychology, Foreword Review https://www.forewordreviews.com/awards/books/depression-in-later-life/.

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Book Excerpt

What is Late-Life Depression?

I know depression because I’ve endured it my entire life. I had it as a child and it worsened as I became a teenager. And it still lingers in the margins of my life at age 55. For me, depression was a chronic illness that left me in despair and frighteningly unaware of its grinding misery. I didn’t recognize the symptoms – and neither did any family or friends. In fact, as my depression worsened as a college student, I sank into a featureless existence, either awake in a fatigued haze or sleeping the entire day away. Gradually, the bitter brine of depression flooded my mind with hopelessness. I didn’t care about the future and I couldn’t find purpose in the present. It didn’t occur to me that anything was out-of-sorts, short-sighted or even peculiar as my thinking became more corrosive. When I attempted suicide at age 19 with a handgun, it felt right. It felt comforting.

Of course, looking back, I was in deep emotional and physical pain and believed I found a way to make it stop. But it wasn’t a healthy choice. I was making a decision from an incredibly distorted reality. Luckily my plan was interrupted and I immediately got help. I began intensive psychotherapy and discovered that I’d been living with dysthymic disorder and that it escalated into a major depressive episode. Having both these disorders was called a double depression, and I learned how to replace the quiet agony of my illness with tools to live a more meaningful life. The experience I had with talk therapy was so life-changing and life-saving that it inspired me to become a psychologist. I combined my personal experiences with depression with my training as a clinician and became an expert in mood disorders. I realized that my personal experiences with depression offered enormous insight to those who sought treatment with me because I know the talk and I walk the walk.

In the 45 years of personally living with depression and the 25 years of professionally treating it as a disorder, this is what I’ve learned:

Depression doesn’t care if you’re rich or famous, poor or homeless.

It doesn’t care if you’re young or old.

Or if you’re ordinary or superlatively gifted.

Depression cuts across social economic status, is found in every culture and in every country around the world.

Depression will drape its chokehold over men, women and children – and thinks nothing of how it decays your mind, siphons your soul and crushes the glimpse of possibility, hope and freedom at every turn.

Depression is not an experience that fades with the next sunrise or can be shaken off with a newfound attitude. It won’t be cured by tough-love. Or rectified by ignoring it. You can’t snap out of it or will it away either. And if you try to minimize its wrenching hold on your health, it’ll root itself even deeper. Depression can’t be ranked alongside adjectives like blue, sad, dejected, down, melancholy or unhappy. Those words just won’t do… because they don’t even come close to describing what depression feels like.

Depression demands you to see it for what it truly is – an illness. And while it’s a serious illness, it is treatable. The key to success in living with depression is early identification, consistent treatment and planning to manage your illness.

Defining Depression

Depression is a complex illness that significantly impacts the way you feel, think and behave. According to the World Health Organization, depression involves feelings of worthlessness, decreased energy, hopelessness, poor concentration, negative thinking and disrupted sleeping and eating patterns, just to name a few. The most predominant of these symptoms is a depressed mood, and because of this, depression is classified as a mood disorder. Sometimes called affective disorders, mood disorders are the most common mental illness, touching over a hundred million people worldwide. Mood disorders aren’t the result of a weakness of character, laziness or a person’s inability to buck up and be strong. Mood disorders are a real medical condition.

The Geriatric Population

It’s important to know that depression can occur at any age, but in this book, we’re looking at depression in later life. Specifically, the geriatric population – which are individuals 65 years of age and older. Sometimes referred to as seniors or the elderly, geriatric citizens are the fastest growing population in the world.  In America, alone, the baby boomer generation now makes up over 50 million of the senior population. With people living longer, and the combination of medical advances and technology improving the state of healthcare, the senior population is expected to soar to 72 million by the year 2030. More specifically, The US Census Bureau reports that in the next 45 years, people over the age 65 will double, and people over the age 85 will triple. And now more than ever, centenarians, people 100 years of age and older, are not just reaching these amazing ages, but living richly textured lives.

While gerontology, the study of the aging process in human beings, has brought insights about the physical, emotional and social needs of this population, little has been done to train geriatric health professionals. In fact, 97% of medical school students have no training in geriatrics, and the rate of doctors graduating with a geriatrician degree are lower now than ten years ago.

Even geriatric psychology, or geropsychology, the specialty that focuses on the mental health of the elderly, isn’t gaining the kind of traction needed to help those living in their golden years.

This makes identifying and treating depression in later life difficult. But with the help you get in Depression in Later Life, you’ll be equipped to see the early warning signs and know where to get help.

Book Trailer:

VBT – NADYA’S WAR

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About the Author

 CSTaylor Headshot

C.S. Taylor is a former Marine and avid fencer (saber for the most part, foil and epee are tolerable). He enjoys all things WWII, especially perfecting his dogfighting skills inside virtual cockpits, and will gladly accept any P-38 Lightnings anyone might wish to bestow upon him. He’s also been known to run a kayak through whitewater now and again, as well give people a run for their money in trap and skeet.

His latest book is the historical fiction, Nadya’s War.

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About the Book

Title: NADYA’S WAR
Author: C.S. Taylor
Publisher: Tiny Fox Press
Pages: 300
Genre: Historical Fiction

BOOK BLURB

Nadezdah “Little Boar” Buzina, a young pilot with the Red Army’s 586th all-female fighter regiment, dreams of becoming an ace. Those dreams shatter when a dogfight leaves her severely burned and the sole survivor from her flight.

For the latter half of 1942, she struggles against crack Luftwaffe pilots, a vengeful political commissar, and a new addiction to morphine, all the while questioning her worth and purpose in a world beyond her control. It’s not until the Soviet counter-offensive at Stalingrad that she finds her unlikely answers, and they only come after she’s saved the life of her mortal enemy and fallen in love with the one who nearly kills her.

Nadya's War

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Book Excerpt

Seven of us zipped through the overcast sky, a dozen meters beneath the cloud layer. Gridnev flew lead and a girl named Tania from First Squadron flew on his wing. Alexandra and I cruised next to them about thirty meters away. I pictured myself as a modern version of my ancestors who rode into battle on horseback, courageous and strong. If only they could see me now, sailing through the air to drive off the invaders. I wondered if they’d be proud or jealous. Maybe both.

The four of us escorted a flight of three Pe-2s from the 150th High-Speed Bomber Regiment across the snowy landscape. That unit was led by Lieutenant Colonel Ivan Polbin who I’d heard was quite the commander. I’d also heard he enjoyed music and sang well, like me, which made me think we’d get along—even if he was a die-hard communist and loyal to Stalin.

The twin-engine Peshkas flew nearly as fast as our fighters, something I was grateful for. I’m certain the three crew members inside each bomber were thankful as well, since unlike the German Heinkels and Stukas, these planes were tough to catch for any aircraft. That being said, I was glad I was in my Yak-1. I wouldn’t have wanted to fly one of those bombers at all, no matter how prestigious they were. They were still big targets, and far less nimble than the fighter I had. I prayed we’d keep them safe.

All the Pe-2s, however, did have fresh, winter paint jobs. Their off-white and tan colors hid them well in the surroundings, and if I wasn’t paying close attention, I’d even lose sight of them from time to time. Their target was a rail depot the Germans were using to bring in supplies and troops headed to Stalingrad. Obliterating it would disrupt logistics and force the Luftwaffe to keep it safe once rebuilt.

With luck, the Germans wouldn’t spot the Peshkas until the bombs were already dropping and they were headed home. I fantasized about how easy of a mission this could be as we went deeper into enemy lines. Those thoughts almost turned into dreams as the drone from my fighter’s engine combined with the dreary sky nearly put me to sleep, despite the digging pain in my arm.

“Tighten up, Little Boar,” Gridnev called out over the radio.

My eyes snapped to the formation. I’d drifted away from the bombers by a good fifty meters sideways and at least that in altitude. I glanced over my shoulder to see Alexandra off to my right. She’d stayed with me even as I wandered. “Reforming now. Thought I saw something below and wanted a better view.”

The Inspiration Behind ‘Nadya’s War’ by C.S. Taylor

Some nameless, late night many moons ago, I was doing what I do best when trying to write, namely surfing the web and finding every excuse—and inventing a few more—I could to not look at MS Word and actually type something out. Somewhere between articles telling me that “These ten unexpected, cuddly things will kill you” and “which type of mason brick are you?” I stumbled upon an article dealing with the Night Witches and was mesmerized.

For those who know little or nothing about them (and most don’t) the Night Witches were a group of female pilots in the Red Army Air’s 588th night bomber regiment during World War 2. The group was one of three all-female regiments that had been put together by Major Marina Raskova, a national heroine at the time and a fantastic pilot. The young women of the 588th flew the Po-2 biplane, which was made in the late 1920s and was really only good for training and crop dusting. It wasn’t a combat aircraft by any stretch of the imagination. But they flew it nonetheless to drop bombs on the Germans. They got the name Nachthexen (Night Witches) by the Germans because the girls quickly learned to cut their engines just before they went on a bombing run, so they were completely silent until the bombs exploded.

Fascinating stuff, I thought, and something that deserved a book or two. Also, since I love flying and in a prior point in my life, I was intent on flying for the USMC, I thought writing a book that centered around the Night Witches seemed to be a great idea.

So with that thought in mind, I began fleshing out a plot and characters, but the more I did my research into the Night Witches, I realized that their sister regiment, the 587th (who flew the Pe-2 medium bomber), met my needs in terms of the story better. So I shifted my focus to the 587th and kept at it.

I kept at it for a few weeks and soon discovered that some of the historical characters I wanted in my book didn’t survive the timeline I was after as the 587th didn’t see combat until 1943. And since I was writing historical fiction, I couldn’t exactly have one of them pop up in the story when he or she was supposed to be dead.

It was about that point when I realized I really wanted more dogfights in my book overall, and thus, settling on the 586th fighter regiment was an easy choice. My decision to go with the 586th was reinforced even more when I realized that there weren’t any books on these women at all, at least on the historical fiction side. There were a few dealing with the Night Witches and some female pilots who were in male units, but the 586th was untouched, which is very appealing as a writer.

So with the 586th firmly settled, it was just a matter of changing a few things from my rough outline because my main character, Nadya, was going to be a fighter pilot and not a bomber pilot.

Building Nadya as a real person took a lot of work, and the details of her life came from a variety of sources, mostly interviews that had been recorded with surviving members of the 586th, 587th and 588th.

The stories I read were not only from the pilots, but the navigators, bombardiers, mechanics, and ground crews, and I drew a lot of inspiration from all of them as their tenacity and bravery was nothing short of legendary. I really wanted to capture that with Nadya’s War with not only Nadya herself, but with all of the supporting characters, too. Most of all, I wanted to ensure that Nadya was crafted in such a way that her story would slide neatly in between all the others I read, not overshadowing any of them in terms of what she goes through, heroics, etc., but accurately mirroring what each young woman in all three of these regiments dealt with day in and day out.

I like to think I managed to pull that off. Hopefully readers will agree.

 

VBT – THE MIRROR SAID YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL

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About the Author

Austiage is a former national-level champion fencer who was born in Washington, DC. She speaks seven languages, attended American University, and is the founder of the Star Individuality Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports youths in developing their unique individuality. Her book The Mirror Said, “You’re Be-You-Tiful” explores the societal pressures that many people are faced with today and offers a game plan for nurturing individuality and owning one’s beauty.

Author

You can visit Austiage’s website at https://www.austiage.com/.

About the Book

 The Mirror Said You're Be-You-Tiful 3

Title: THE MIRROR SAID YOU’RE BE-YOU-TIFUL
Author: Austiage
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 212
Genre: Self-Help

BOOK BLURB:

In her motivational self-help book, THE MIRROR SAID, “YOU’RE BE-YOU-TIFUL, former elite athlete Austiage offers readers a foundation for embracing their unique beauty in a world that doesn’t always value diversity and individuality. Writing in a welcoming, conversational style, Austiage outlines a plan for embracing a positive self-image that develops from the inside out.

An unexpected question (“Does the mirror make you feel ugly?”) was the spark that led Austiage to pen THE MIRROR SAID, “YOU’RE BE-YOU-TIFUL.” She met the young girl, Julianne, who posed the question while donating supplies to a children’s hospital. After talking with the girl about beauty and what it means, the author felt moved to share her thoughts with others on this delicate subject, which many people—young and old, male and female—frequently struggle with. The book has a powerful message that begins by focusing on the individual.

Austiage asserts that beauty is much more than aesthetic. She emphasizes that character is an essential component of beauty and encourages readers to bolster their character by being positive and kind to themselves and others. The author repeatedly stresses the importance of having a strong belief in one’s self and explains how this belief affects how people see themselves, the type of people they invite into their lives, and the manner in which they take care of themselves and pursue their goals.

THE MIRROR SAID, “YOU’RE BE-YOU-TIFUL” takes an in-depth look at the necessity of self-care including eating well without foregoing pleasure, incorporating fitness and relaxation in one’s daily life, using makeup to highlight and enhance one’s beauty, discarding fear and doubt to follow opportunities to find one’s passion, and reevaluating relationships to make conscious decisions about the people in one’s life.

Austiage says, “In my point of view, my book is about helping those who are at the point in their lives that they want to feel better about themselves. I think my book will help people understand that they aren’t the only contributing factor in feeling good or bad about themselves. Rather, the everyday lifestyle choices they make, the people they surround themselves with, and the words they use all merge to develop a feeling unique to how they feel about their identity. Learning how to break down different aspects of daily life and to reevaluate them will dramatically change the way they perceive themselves.” Austiage wrote THE MIRROR SAID, “YOU’RE BE-YOU-TIFUL” “to help everyone understand that they have the ability to feel beautiful. Ultimately, I want readers to step away from my book feeling happiness, beauty, and pride from the inside out.”

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Book Excerpt:

Getting Motivated for Your Purpose 

Finding your skills and talents—and using them—helps you become your best, beautiful self. Maybe you know exactly what your talents are, or maybe you need to find them. But everyone has a purpose on earth, and it is found through our talents and passions. If you don’t know what your purpose is, you can find it. In reality, you actually do know what your purpose is—you are the sole authority on who you are. Maybe your talent is hidden and you have to find it. Or maybe you have taken your talent for granted and no longer look upon it as a talent. Either way it is there and it has always been there and all you have to do is notice it and embrace it.

To identify your purpose, ask yourself, “What makes me smile? What makes me happy?” Then analyze your answers. It may not always seem clear at first, so keep thinking. For example going out to restaurants with your friends and trying new foods makes you the happiest. Most likely your purpose is not eating, but it may be becoming a chef who creates new foods. Pay particular attention to environments you are attracted to. What you enjoy doing, where you enjoy being, who you enjoy spending time with—these are all part of your purpose in life.

When you feel lost in your life, remember that no one is born found; at some point we need to be lost in order to be found. When I’m feeling lost, I’ve learned not to say that I am lost (that has a negative connotation); instead I say I am currently on the path to becoming found.

Your purpose cannot come by force, finding passions and your purpose in life will come when it is time. You will find it even if you are feeling lost and destroyed. Many times we need to break in order to be rebuilt into who we are supposed to become.

Once you’re purpose is clear, you become motivated. Self-motivation is so beautiful and attractive, although it is not something aesthetic. Be the person who wakes up with a purpose in life. Be the person who will chase their own dreams. People will only start to motivate you when they realize that you already are motivated.

Being self-motivated is not only something that others are attracted to, but being a self-motivated individual gives you a purpose in life which is then going to create confidence within oneself. Feeling beautiful always comes down to feeling confident and pride in ones self.

So many times when we think of being self-motivated as something that is difficult or we wonder if we have it in us to motivate ourselves. In reality becoming self-motivated is 4 simple P’s: Passion, Purpose, Position and Positivity.

Passion: Ask yourself the questions: What am I passionate about? What do I love? What do I never get tired of doing? If you can find something you are genuinely passionate about you will always have a feeling of motivation regardless of how hard you need to work to accomplish the goals you have set. When you are also focused on doing something that you have a passion about you will also be a happier person overall. Purpose: you now have a passion you want to be involved in, now comes the tricky part is to determine what your mission is. You can find your purpose my asking yourself these questions: What about my passion inspires me? When determine what inspires within in a certain topic you have purpose because you know understand how you want to be involved within your passion.

Position: Being able to figure out what it is that you want to do within this topic is crucial. The best way to do this is to just get our a piece of paper and pen and just start to brainstorm all the different positions you could to take on with that passion, and once you have a list then just starting to number then in order of priority—based on your skills and goals. From there you’ll be able to determine what position you want to take on.

Positive: Finally the last key on being able to being a self-motivated individual is to always have a positive outlook on the situation. Obviously there are highs and lows in life, so even if you are involved with some- thing that you are passionate about there are going to be times where not everything will go as you had planned. But understanding these situations and anticipating them will allow you to keep a positive outlook and will allow you to stay self-driven.

Book Teaser:

VBT – Stairway to Paradise

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About the Author

 Nadia Natali

Nadia Natali, author of the memoir, Stairway to Paradise: Growing Up Gershwin, published by Rare Bird, Los Angeles, 2015, and The Blue Heron Ranch Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from a Zen Retreat Center published by North Atlantic Books, Berkeley CA, 2008, is currently working on a second cookbook titled Zafu Kitchen Cookbook. 

Natali, a clinical psychotherapist and dance therapist, specializes in trauma release through somatic work. She earned a master’s degree from Hunter College in New York City in Dance/Movement Therapy and completed another masters degree in clinical psychology with an emphasis in somatic psychology at the Santa Barbara Graduate Institute. Nadia is a registered practitioner of Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy (RCST) and is also a certified Somatic Experiencing Practitioner (SEP) who trained with Peter Levine.

DanceMedicine Workshops is Natali’s creation where participants move through their trauma with dialogue and dance. She also offers the Ojai community, DanceMedicine Journeys. In addition to her private practice, Nadia and her husband offer Zen Retreats at their center.

Born into a famous family that was riddled with dysfunction, Nadia Natali made the choice to turn her life inside out and step away from fame and fortune. Against her parents’ consent she married an artist and moved to the remote wilderness in California. It was there that she found grounding as she and her husband raised and homeschooled their three children and opened a retreat center. As she gathered her own momentum, she enrolled in a doctorate program finally becoming a clinical psychotherapist specializing in psychosomatic work. She and her husband live in Ojai California.

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About the Book

 Stairway to Paradise

Title: STAIRWAY TO PARADISE: GROWING UP GERSHWIN
Author: Nadia Natali
Publisher: RareBird Books
Pages: 304
Genre: Memoir

BOOK BLURB:

Growing up as Frankie Gershwin’s daughter, the sister of George and Ira Gershwin, was quite a challenge. I didn’t have the perspective to realize that so much unhappiness in a family was out of the ordinary. But I knew something was off. My mother was often depressed and my father was tyrannical and scary, one never knew when he would blow up. I learned early on that I had to be the cheery one, the one to fix the problems. Both sides of my family were famous; the Gershwin side and my father who invented color film. But even though there was more than enough recognition, money and parties I understood that wasn’t what made people happy.

As a young adult adrift and depressed I broke from that unsatisfactory life by marrying Enrico Natali, a photographer, deeply immersed in his own questions about life. We moved into the wilderness away from what we considered as the dysfunction of society. That’s when we discovered that life had other kinds of challenges: flood, fire, rattlesnakes, mountain lions and bears. We lived in a teepee for more than four years while building a house. Curiously my mother never commented on my life choice. She must have realized on some level that her own life was less than satisfactory.

Enrico had developed a serious meditation practice that had become a kind of ground for him. As for me I danced. Understanding the somatic, the inner body experience, became my way to shift the inner story.

We raised and homeschooled our three children. I taught them to read, Enrico taught them math. The kids ran free, happy, always engaged, making things, and discovering. We were so sure we were doing the right thing. However, we didn’t have a clue how they would make the transition to the so-called ‘real world’. The children thrived until they became teenagers. They then wanted out. Everything fell apart for them and for Enrico and me. Our lives were turned upside down, our paradise lost. There was tragedy: our son lost his life while attempting to cross our river during a fierce storm. Later I was further challenged by advanced breast cancer.

It was during these times that I delved deeply into the somatic recesses of myself. I began to find my own voice, a long learning process. I emerged with a profound trust in my own authority. It became clear that everyone has to find his or her way through layers of inauthenticity, where a deep knowing can develop. And I came to see that is the best anyone can offer to the world.

Enrico and I still live in the wilds of the Lost Padres National Forest, a paradise with many steps going up and down, a life I would not change.

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Book Excerpt

We’d caravanned in separate vehicles, hauling all that we could carry in and on top of our cars, in addition to a foldout trailer hitched to Enrico’s Toyota jeep. At the end of a long, winding two-lane road that followed Matilija Creek, a brown metal gate barred our way. Beyond the gate lay the Los Padres National Forest, wilderness, and a mile farther up a dirt road through the canyon, our property. We had to wait for a key to open the lock, a key that a forest ranger was going to hand over—the key to our new life. I gazed toward the jagged and intimidating mountains that leaned over the canyon. Inhaling the sweet smell of the dry chaparral, I couldn’t help but compare it to the lush, green landscape of my childhood home in Connecticut. This is going to be a very different life, I thought. My privileged upbringing seemed the polar opposite of this place, and maybe that was what attracted me to it. Observing the struggles of my family and seeing that money and fame had failed to bring happiness, I’d learned I needed to find my own path. I had not fully formulated my goal, but it was something unique and original, and I had to find it on my own.

Behind the Scenes of Stairway to Paradise: Growing Up Gershwin

This memoir is about my bumpy journey toward truth and authenticity with the hope that those of you who read it can glean some value.

You may believe fame and wealth bring happiness. That was not my experience.

My mother, sister of George and Ira Gershwin, and my father who invented color film were the primary models in my childhood. Growing up with such talent as I did, you learn early on that it distorts values.

I unwittingly set my brilliant father up as an authority figure, even though he was terrifying and unpredictable. And because the family dynamic was unhealthy I didn’t know whom to trust or even that trust was possible, especially in myself. Later as a young woman I turned away from my background and looked to teachers and professionals for the truth. It took some time for me to realize that their expertise could only take me so far.

After one false start and then another I found a caring partner, Enrico, whom I initially turned to, believing he could impart a way for me to find my own direction and answers, as he seemed to have found for himself. What was so radical to learn was how and where to look. What I learned was going to sensations in the body rather than the thinking mind was where the key to change and transformation lay.

We married and moved out to the wilderness where we faced floods, fire, rattle snakes, mountain lions and bears. In the years it took to build a house we lived in a teepee. We tried to create our own paradise where we raised and homeschooled three children.

Our life turned upside down when the kids became teenagers. Paradise crashed and my relationship with Enrico deteriorated. The grown children struggled to find a place in the outside world. We faced tragedy and I, cancer. This was when my hard earned ability to experience the somatic (inner experience as sensation) helped regulate me and provide me with a chance to find authenticity and authority, as well as a more mature relationship with Enrico. I was able to use this inner working as a way to help others, which I call DanceMedicine, a healing through movement.

We are still living in the wilderness and offer workshops and retreats to anyone who is interested.

Cover Reveal – CIRCUMVENT

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About the Author

 S.K. Derban

Born in the United States, S.K. Derban moved to London within the first three months, and remained in England until the age of five. Her mother was involved with the London Royal Ballet Company, and a great fan of the arts. Even after returning to the United States, S.K. Derban’s life was filled with a love of the theatre and a passion for British murder mysteries.

Her personal travel and missionary adventures also help to transport readers virtually across the globe. S.K. Derban has smuggled Bibles into China, and has been to Israel on seven missionary trips. When writing, she relies on all aspects of her life, from a strong faith in the Lord, to her unique combination of professional experience. The many personal adventures of S.K. Derban are readily apparent as they shine through into her characters. Circumvent is the third mystery novel for writer S.K. Derban.

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About the Book

Title: CIRCUMVENT
Author: S.K. Derban
Publisher: Touchpoint Press
Genre: Mystery

BOOK BLURB

Imagine living in a quaint, beach front cottage on the Hawaiian island of Maui. You have an amazing job, combined with the pleasure of working from home. Lunch breaks become a daily picnic on the sand. Dessert is always included because of your marriage to a famous pastry chef. Life could not be any better. Or so it seems… When French born, Nikki Sabine Moueix travels to Hawaii for a special work assignment, her job of writing an article about a famous Swiss pastry chef generates more than a magazine piece. They fall in love, get married, and Nikki becomes Mrs. Ruggiero Delémont.

When another assignment calls for Nikki to spend three weeks in France, Ruggiero’s schedule prevents him from joining her. She travels alone, advancing straight into danger. After a threatening confrontation, Nikki wakes up in a French hospital with no knowledge of her past. When she fails to check in, Ruggiero panics and pushes for an immediate investigation. But as he closes in, Nikki’s new found friend moves her to another city. It becomes a game of hide and seek with Nikki as the prize.

CIRCUMVENT allows readers to form a bond with Nikki as they yearn for her to remember. They will cheer for Ruggiero and his relentless determination to locate his beloved wife. This is a story about two people who never lose their faith in God, and find amazing friends to help them along the way.

Not An Ordinary Woman

 

Book Excerpt

When the plane leveled at a cruising altitude, Nikki reclined her seat back and reopened her novel. Her seat mate appeared to be napping, and Peter Safin was busy preparing his work area. Nikki’s curiosity flourished when she realized her reclining position provided a clear view of his laptop screen. But, as his fingers danced along the keyboard nothing on the illuminated display made sense. She was reading a combination of letters and numbers that appeared to be some sort of code. Maybe he’s a spy, Nikki amused herself in thought. A Russian spy. No, wait! Her mind raced. Maybe he’s a mole, or even a double agent.

Nikki almost laughed aloud as she refocused on the book within her hands. It was the latest spy novel, written by one of her favorite authors. Maybe I should switch to romance.

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