Wednesday, October 31, 2012
About the book:
About the author:
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Mary A. Molloy author of the book Design Your Own Destiny stopped by to share with us a piece she wrote.
Earning a living is hard. Whether you work for someone else or are your own boss there are times when more hours simply does not translate into more income. Even the most dedicated and brilliant person will experience diminishing returns and a loss of productivity unless they are able to create and maintain a proper work life balance.
Life coach and counselor Mary A. Molloy’s new book Design Your Own Destiny tackles the challenges of establishing a proper work life balance head on.
“Every person’s life is most happy and fruitful when they are in balance,” she says. “Even if you work really hard at your business, it’s crucial that you not neglect your relationships and personal life. The way you do this best is by creating a roadmap to your life – a life plan that helps you take the right steps and avoid the potholes you encounter.”
Are You Out of Balance?
Mary has done hundreds of life plans for people of all walks of life. One of the most insightful areas of her book is where she boils the most common actions people identified that they needed to address to get work/life balance restored. They can be grouped into four main areas: Intellectual, Physical, Spiritual and Emotional.
These are the most common areas that people everywhere want to see improvement in their lives so that they achieve the balance they seek. What do you do next?
Make the Right Decisions the Smart Way
Among the many powerful techniques contained in Design Your Own Destiny that help you evaluate the choices you get to make is the Ben Franklin T Chart (example), which allows one to get specific and see the forest through the trees. Here’s what you do:
- Write down the problem and the specific option.
- Identify the specific pro’s and cons for that option.
- Identify what you need to know.
- Identify the action needed to get you all the information you need to know to make a decision.
About the book:
About the author:
She lives in Waterville Valley, NH.
Monday, October 29, 2012
About the book:
About the author:
Sunday, October 28, 2012
I just wanted to give you a general update that I may be MIA for the next few days (weeks?) due to Hurricane Sandy's impact in Connecticut.
Although we're not in the direct hit line we are expected to be hammered by horrible winds which may mean downed power lines and no power which, in turn, means no blogging.
I'm not saying that I will lose power (I'm hoping beyond hope that I won't) but after last year's October storm and Connecticut Light & Power's epic fail in restoring power to its customers (it took them eleven days with me) I'm just preparing for the worst case scenario.
If you don't hear from me for a while know that it is CL&P's complete disregard for their customers that is preventing me from posting, not my choice.
Here's hoping my warning my not even be needed and I retain power throughout the storm!
Paul Batista author of the book Extraordinary Rendition stopped by to share with us an excerpt from his book.
When the guard left, the iron door resonated briefly as the magnetic lock engaged itself. Byron sat in a steel folding chair. Directly in front of him was a narrow ledge under a multi-layered, almost opaque plastic window, in the middle of which was a metal circle.
Ali Hussein seemed to just materialize in the small space behind the partition. Dressed in a yellow jumpsuit printed with the initials “FDC” for “Federal Detention Center,” Hussein, who had been described to Byron as an accountant trained at Seton Hall, in Newark, was a slender man who appeared far more mild-mannered than Byron expected. He wore cloth slippers with no shoelaces. The waistband of his jump suit was elasticized—not even a cloth belt. He had as little access to hard objects as possible.
He waited for Byron to speak first. Leaning toward the metal speaker in the partition and raising his voice, Byron said, “You are Mr. Hussein, aren’t you?”
The lawyers at the Civil Liberties Union who had first contacted Byron told him that, in their limited experience with accused terrorists, it sometimes wasn’t clear what their real names were. There were often no fingerprints or DNA samples that could confirm their identities. The name Ali Hussein was as common as a coin. It was as though genetic markers and their histories began only at the moment of their arrest.
“I am.” He spoke perfect, unaccented English. “I don’t know what your name is.”
The circular speaker in the window, although it created a tinny sound, worked well. Byron lowered his voice. “I’m Byron Johnson. I’m a lawyer from New York. I met your brother. Did he tell you to expect me?”
“I haven’t heard from my brother in years. He has no idea how to reach me, I can’t reach him.”
“Has anyone told you why you’re here?”
“Someone on the airplane—I don’t know who he was, I was blind-folded—said I was being brought here because I’d been charged with a crime. He said I could have a lawyer. Are you that lawyer?”
“I am. If you want me, and if I want to do this.”
All that Ali’s more abrasive, more aggressive brother had told Byron was that Ali was born in Syria, moved as a child with his family to Lebanon during the civil war in the 1980s, and then came to the United States. Ali never became a United States citizen. Five months after the invasion of Iraq, he traveled to Germany to do freelance accounting work for an American corporation for what was scheduled to be a ten-day visit. While Ali was in Germany, his brother said, he had simply disappeared, as if waved out of existence. His family had written repeatedly to the State Department, the CIA, and the local congressman. They were letters sent into a vacuum. Nobody ever answered.
Byron asked, “Do you know where you’ve come from?”
“How do I know who you are?”
Byron began to reach for his wallet, where he stored his business cards. He caught himself because of the absurdity of that: he could have any number of fake business cards. Engraved with gold lettering, his real business card had his name and the name of his law firm, one of the oldest and largest in the country. Ali Hussein was obviously too intelligent, too alert, and too suspicious to be convinced by a name on a business card or a license or a credit card.
“I don’t have any way of proving who I am. I can just tell you that I’m Byron Johnson, I’ve been a lawyer for years, I live in New York, and I was asked by your brother and others to represent you.”
Almost unblinking, Ali just stared at Byron, who tried to hold his gaze, but failed.
At last Ali asked, “And you want to know what’s happened to me?”
“We can start there. I’m only allowed thirty minutes to visit you this week. Tell me what you feel you want to tell me, or can tell me. And then we’ll see where we go. You don’t have to tell me everything about who you are, what you did before you were arrested, who you know in the outside world. Or you don’t have to tell me anything. I want nothing from you other than to help you.”
Ali leaned close to the metallic hole in the smoky window. The skin around his eyes was far darker than the rest of his face, almost as if he wore a Zorro-style mask. Byron took no notes, because to do so might make Ali Hussein even more mistrustful.
“Today don’t ask me any questions. People have asked me lots of questions over the years. I’m sick of questions.” It was like listening to a voice from a world other than the one in which Byron lived. There was nothing angry or abusive in his tone: just a matter-of-fact directness, as though he was describing to Byron a computation he had made on one of Byron’s tax returns. “One morning five Americans in suits stopped me at a red light. I was in Bonn. I drove a rented Toyota. I had a briefcase. They got out of their cars. They had earpieces. Guns, too. They told me to get out of the car. I did. They told me to show them my hands. I did. They lifted me into an SUV, tied my hands, and put a blindfold on me. I asked who they were and what was happening.”
He paused. Byron, who had been in the business of asking questions since he graduated from law school at Harvard, couldn’t resist the embedded instinct to ask, “What did they say?”
“They said shut up.”
“Has anyone given you any papers since you’ve come here?”
“I haven’t had anything in my hands to read in years. Not a newspaper, not a magazine, not a book. Not even the Koran.”
“Has anyone told you what crimes you’re charged with?”
“Don’t you know?”
“No. All that I’ve been told is that you were moved to Miami from a foreign jail so that you could be indicted and tried in an American court.”
There was another pause. “How exactly did you come to me?” Even though he kept returning to the same subject—who exactly was Byron Johnson?—there was still no hostility or anger in Ali Hussein’s tone. “Why are you here?”
In the stifling room, Byron began to sweat almost as profusely as he had on the walk from the security gate to the prison entrance. He recognized that he was very tense. And he was certain that the thirty-minute rule would be enforced, that time was running out. He didn’t want to lose his chance to gain the confidence of this ghostly man who had just emerged into a semblance of life after years in solitary limbo. “A lawyer for a civil rights group called me. I had let people know that I wanted to represent a person arrested for terrorism. I was told that you were one of four prisoners being transferred out of some detention center, maybe at Guantanamo, to a mainland prison, and that you’d be charged by an American grand jury rather than held overseas indefinitely. When I got the call I said I would help, but only if you and I met, and only if you wanted me to help, and only if I thought I could do that.”
“How do I know any of this is true?”
Byron Johnson prided himself on being a realist. Wealthy clients sought him out not to tell them what they wanted to hear but for advice about the facts, the law and the likely real-world outcomes of whatever problems they faced. But it hadn’t occurred to him that this man, imprisoned for years, would doubt him and would be direct enough to tell him that. Byron had become accustomed to deference, not to challenge. And this frail man was suggesting that Byron might be a stalking horse, a plant, a shill, a human recording device.
“I met your brother Khalid.”
“At a diner in Union City.”
“He said it was his favorite, and that you used to eat there with him: the Plaza Diner on Kennedy Boulevard.”
Byron, who for years had practiced law in areas where a detailed memory was essential, was relieved that he remembered the name and location of the diner just across the Hudson River in New Jersey. He couldn’t assess whether the man behind the thick, scratched glass was now more persuaded to believe him. Byron asked, “How have you been treated?”
“I’ve been treated like an animal.”
“In what ways?”
As if briskly covering the topics on an agenda, Ali Hussein said, “Months in one room, no contact with other people. Shifted from place to place, never knowing what country or city I was in, never knowing what month of the year, day of the week. Punched. Kicked.”
“Do you have any marks on your body?”
“I’m not sure yet what your name really is, or who you really are, but you seem naive. Marks? Are you asking me if they’ve left bruises or scars on my body?”
Byron felt the rebuke. Over the years he’d learned that there was often value in saying nothing. Silence sometimes changed the direction of a conversation and revealed more. He waited.
Hussein asked, “How much more time do we have?”
“Only a few minutes.”
“A few minutes? I’ve been locked away for years, never in touch for a second with anyone who meant to do kind things to me, and now I have a total of thirty minutes with you. Mr. Bush created a beautiful world.”
“There’s another president.” Byron paused, and, with the silly thought of giving this man some hope, he said, “His name is Barack Hussein Obama.”
Ali Hussein almost smiled. “And I’m still here? How did that happen?”
Byron didn’t answer, feeling foolish that he’d thought the news that an American president’s middle name was Hussein would somehow brighten this man’s mind. Byron had pandered to him, and he hated pandering.
Ali Hussein then asked, “My wife and children?”
No one—not the ACLU lawyer, not the CIA agent with whom Byron had briefly talked to arrange this visit, not even Hussein’s heavy-faced, brooding brother—had said a single thing about Hussein other than that he had been brought into the United States after years away and that he was an accountant. Nothing about a wife and children.
“I don’t know. I didn’t know you had a wife and children. Nobody said anything about them. I should have asked.”
It was unsettling even to Byron, who had dealt under tense circumstances with thousands of people in courtrooms, that this man could stare at him for so long with no change of expression. Hussein finally asked, “Are you going to come back?”
“If you want me to.”
“I was an accountant, you know. I always liked numbers, and I believed in the American system that money moves everything, that he who pays the piper gets to call the tune. Who’s paying you?”
“No one, Mr. Hussein. Anything I do for you will be free. I won’t get paid by anybody.”
“Now I really wonder who you are.” There was just a trace of humor in his voice and his expression.
As swiftly as Ali Hussein had appeared in the interview room, he disappeared when two guards in Army uniforms reached in from the rear door and literally yanked him from his chair. It was like watching a magician make a man disappear.
About the book:
When Ali Hussein—suspected terrorist and alleged banker for Al Qaeda—is finally transported from Gitmo to the US mainland to stand trial, many are stunned when Byron Carlos Johnson, pre-eminent lawyer and the son of a high-profile diplomat, volunteers as counsel. On principle, Johnson thought he was merely defending a man unjustly captured through Rendition and water-boarded illegally. But Johnson soon learns that there is much more at stake than one man’s civil rights.
Hussein’s intimate knowledge of key financial transactions could lead to the capture of—or the unabated funding of—the world’s most dangerous terror cells. This makes Hussein the target of corrupt US intelligence forces on one side, and ruthless international terrorists on the other. And, it puts Byron Carlos Johnson squarely in the crosshairs of both.
Pulled irresistibly by forces he can and cannot see, Johnson enters a lethal maze of espionage, manipulation, legal traps and murder. And when his life, his love, and his acclaimed principles are on the line, Johnson may have one gambit left that can save them all; a play that even his confidants could not have anticipated. He must become the hunter among hunters in the deadliest game.
About the author:
A prolific writer, Batista authored the leading treatise on the primary federal anti-racketeering statute, Civil RICO Practice Manual, which is now in its third edition (Wiley & Sons, 1987; Wolters Kluwer, 2008). He has written articles for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The National Law Journal.
Batista's debut novel, Death's Witness, was awarded a Silver Medal by the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA). And his new novel, Extraordinary Rendition, is now being published—along with a special reissue of Death’s Witness—by Astor + Blue Editions.
Batista is a graduate of Bowdoin College, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and Cornell Law School. He’s proud to have served in the United States Army. Paul Batista lives in New York City and Sag Harbor, New York.
Saturday, October 27, 2012
Francine LaSala, author of the book The Girl, The Gold Tooth, and Everything, stopped by to share with us an excerpt from her book.
About the book:
Mina Clark is losing her mind—or maybe it’s already gone. She isn’t quite sure. Feeling displaced in her over-priced McMansion-dotted suburban world, she is grappling not only with deep debt, a mostly absent husband, and her playground-terrorizer 3-year old Emma, but also with a significant amnesia she can’t shake—a “temporary” condition now going on several years, brought on by a traumatic event she cannot remember, and which everyone around her feels is best forgotten. A routine trip to the dentist changes everything for Mina, and suddenly she's not sure if what's happening is real, of if she's just now fully losing her mind... especially when she realizes the only person she thought she could trust is the one she fears the most.
About the author:
Francine LaSala has authored and collaborated on more than 30 works of nonfiction (biography, cooking, lifestyle, sex, humor, and more) including Carny Folk: The World's Weirdest Sideshow Acts, and edited numerous works of bestselling fiction through her company, Francine LaSala Productions. She's helped top authors create and shape their books, from Eileen Goudge and Patti Callahan Henry to Douglas Clegg and Shane Briant to Linda Evans and Alana Stewart. Rita Hayworth's Shoes is her first novel. She lives in New York with her husband and two daughters, and will not admit how many pairs of life-changing shoes she has in her closet. Visit her online at www.francinelasala.com.
Friday, October 26, 2012
Paris, 1774. At the tender age of eighteen, Marie Antoinette ascends to the French throne alongside her husband, Louis XVI. But behind the extravagance of the young queen’s elaborate silk gowns and dizzyingly high coiffures, she harbors deeper fears for her future and that of the Bourbon dynasty.
From the early growing pains of marriage to the joy of conceiving a child, from her passion for Swedish military attaché Axel von Fersen to the devastating Affair of the Diamond Necklace, Marie Antoinette tries to rise above the gossip and rivalries that encircle her. But as revolution blossoms in America, a much larger threat looms beyond the gilded gates of Versailles—one that could sweep away the French monarchy forever.
Received for review.
While this was a beautifully written and faithfully reproduced the era and characters it really didn't do much for me. I'm all for Marie Antoinette books and movies but this really just tried to make her into a sympathetic character instead of the spoiled, petulant, delusional brat history has proven her to be. I was not thrilled by the poor little rich girl portrayal.
If you do find Marie Antoinette a sympathetic character you may find this intriguing, otherwise give this propaganda a pass.
★★☆☆☆ = Just Okay
Thursday, October 25, 2012
For years, heavily armed Somali pirates have been capturing and holding for ransom massive cargo ships, violently demanding millions of dollars for their return. Each time an owner pays big for the return of their ship, the pirates immediately capture again, enraging the Pentagon. That is, until the "Somali Marines" make a big mistake, seizing at gun point two United States ships and demanding a $15 million ransom.
Hero Mack Bedford, previously encountered in Diamondhead and Intercept, is deployed to SEAL Team 10 to form The Delta Platoon. His objective: obliterate the Somali Marines in the middle of the Indian Ocean, at all costs, once and for all.
Received for review.
This was my first experience with the author's work and I was pleasantly surprised.
The book was very readable with an intriguing, well developed concept. The plot's twists and turns were reminiscent of a Jason Bourne, despite the military lingo which could be confusing at times.
I certainly recommend this to military and action fans who should thoroughly enjoy it.
★★★☆☆ = Liked It
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
About the book:
On a normal day we face choices average; non-threatening, haunted by his tortured past one man seeks vengeance on his former Special Operations Team. Unleashing a band of mercenaries bent of his revenge chasing down trained warriors, his former brothers. As the body count rises F.B.I. Agent James Degler will face choices on a grand scale to stop this madness and put his team at risk or walk away. Buildings will crumble, people close to him will die, and the body count will rise as flames kiss the sky. Just as the mercenaries close in on their targets chaos will strike back, forces will merge. Spanning across the U.S. a trail of deception, blood and pain will spread knowing no limits or fear. Twist and turns salvage yards to the New York sewers who is safe who will be next, can Degler protect those he cares for? One wrong choice and the house of cards will fall all around them; unstable doesn’t even describe what will happen next. Will the mad man bent on revenge be stopped or will he succeed and destroy everyone’s lives? The truth is bent and warped as the web spreads and destruction follows. By the end one question will remain for Agent Degler: Who is left he can trust?
About the author:
Robert grew up in Chesapeake, Virginia where he graduated Great Bridge High School in 1994. Since then Robert has served in the U.S. Navy, after serving on two ships and his deployment he learned he belonged in the small boat community. While overseas Robert started working on writing, this was a good thing due to the fact he was a single parent. After putting his daughter to bed everynight after dinner had been cooked and the house cleaned he would sit and work on a chapter at a time. After serving overseas he returned to the states and began his time in the small boat community. During his five years assigned at was the Navy's best kept secret, he was part of several anti-terrorism drills and instructed over a 100 personnel in tactics. While at the command he earned his Small Craft POIC or "small boats pin" After leaving this command Robert was assigned to the Phib Seabee's where he worked on tugs and was the lead supervisor of the largest sand blasting facility on the east coast. During his time with the Seabee's Robert was also part of the security team during field exercises, getting qualified with the M16 and MK19, and explosives driver he blended well with the Gunners Mates and Master At Arms. Now Robert is assigned with his family his wife and three kids on the northern east coast as he trains a unit on maritime boat handling and ant-terrorism tactics. He is also involved in his commands security threat assesment and physical security program as the representative to the commands security officer. Robert is also working on his Bachelor of Arts Security Management Degree. In his spare time he enjoys to write and is working on the follow up to Contracts to Kill.
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Bob Curran, author of the book American Vampires, stopped by to share with us a piece he wrote.
Of all the supernatural monsters that we know, maybe we know vampires the best. After all we’ve read about them in books, watched them on film and television and even played them in board and video games. We know all there is to know about them. For instance, we know what they look like – gaunt and pallid East European noblemen wrapped in dark capes, or some angst-ridden acned teenager attending High School somewhere in America. We know where they are to be found – some gloomy castle in Transylvania; a Gothic mansion in New Orleans; some everyday College. And we know how to get rid them – stake them through the heart; show them a crucifix; shake a bulb of garlic at them. They are the dead, risen from the grave that come to drink our blood at nightfall.
And if you think all of that, then boy are you wrong! You maybe don’t know vampires at all. Vampires are not the familiar things we read about in our books or watch in our films and tv programmes. They are much more varied and dangerous than that. For a start, vampires don’t have to be dead; nor does every vampire drink blood. Heck, they don’t even have to be human! What would you think if you were told that you might be sitting in a vampire chair? Or that you were drinking from a vampire well? Or that the plant growing in your garden rockery was actually a vampire being? Still think you know all there is to know about vampires?
Vampires are in fact the shadowy figures which emerge from the nightmares of differing cultures – each vampire reflects the fears and perceptions of the society that spawned it. And there is nowhere where such cultures clash so strikingly as in America. It is of course tempting to look at America as a young, thrusting modern country with all the trappings that brings with it. America, however, is not like that and beneath that brash, shiny modernity lies a land where old and shadowy ways and histories still linger. Over the centuries, many people have made their way to American shores from other parts of the world, bringing their own history and beliefs, their perceptions and their fears with them. Some were English and brought tales of wandering revenants which later centuries turned into wispy ghosts and the notion of the nightwalking dead certainly features in American legend; but there were other immigrants too who believed in dark and evil spirits which could inhabit inanimate objects and use them to their malicious advantage. And of course there were the Native Americans, already living within the continent who and beliefs and perspectives of their own.
Nor is it true to say that all vampires drink blood – that is largely a European concept. Vampires can draw on many things for their sustenance. They can drink things like sweat or semen from sleeping individuals or amongst some Spanish and Native Americans they can sustain themselves simply with energy which they leech from their victims through a process akin to osmosis. They do not necessarily drink from the jugular vein in the neck – how about the soles of the feet or the crook of the arm? Neither do all vampires have to be dead
About the book:
Vampires are much more complex creatures than Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Twilight, True Blood, or scores of other movies and television shows would have you believe. Even in America.
American vampire lore has its roots in the beliefs and fears of the diverse peoples and nationalities that make up our country, and reflects the rich tapestry of their varied perspectives. The vampires that lurk in the American darkness come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can produce some surprising results. Vampires in North Carolina are vastly different from those in South Carolina, and even more different from those in New York State. Moreover, not all of them are human in form, and they can't necessarily be warded off by the sight of a crucifix or a bulb of garlic.
Dr. Bob Curran visits the Louisiana bayous, the back streets of New York City, the hills of Tennessee, the Sierras of California, the deserts of Arizona, and many more locations in a bid to track down the vampire creatures that lurk there. Join him if you dare! This is not Hollywood's version of the vampire--these entities are real!
About the author:
Dr. Bob Curran was born in a remote area of County Down, Northern Ireland. Since leaving school, he has travelled throughout the world, fascinated by the myths and stories that he has found. He has written a number of books looking at culture and lore, including The World's Creepiest Places; Vampires; Lost Lands, Forgotten Realms; Zombies; and Werewolves. Curran lives in Northern Ireland with his wife and family. Find him at drbobcurran.blogspot.com.
Monday, October 22, 2012
About the book:
About the author:
Sunday, October 21, 2012
Joyce Morgan and Conrad Walters, authors of the book Journeys on the Silk Road, stopped by to share with us an excerpt from their book.
Under cover of darkness, a figure quietly crept from the caves to Stein's tent beneath the fruit trees later that night. It was Chiang, and he was carrying a bundle of manuscripts. Wang, he whispered gleefully to Stein, had just paid him a secret visit. Hidden under the priest's flowing black robe had been the first of the promised scrolls. What they were, Chiang wasn't sure. But Stein could see that the paper they were made of was old, at least as old as the roll the helpful young monk had shown him on his first visit to the caves weeks earlier. The writing was Chinese and Chiang thought the documents might be Buddhist scriptures, but he needed time to study them. He returned to his quarters at the feet of the big Buddha and spent the night poring over them.
At daybreak, he was back at Stein's tent, barely able to contain his excitement. Colophons, or inscriptions, on the rolls showed they were Chinese versions of Buddhist texts brought from India. Moreover, they were copies from translations by the great Xuanzang himself. It was an astonishing coincidence. Even the usually skeptical Chiang suggested that this was a most auspicious omen. Auspicious and convenient. Chiang hastened to Wang to plant the seeds of this "quasi-divine" event. Had not the spirit of Xuanzang revealed the manuscript hoard to Wang ahead of the arrival from distant India of the pilgrim's devoted "disciple" -- Stein? The untutored Wang could not possibly have known the connection these manuscripts had with Xuanzang when he selected them from among the thousands of scrolls and delivered them to Chiang the previous night. Surely this was proof that opening the cave would have Xuanzang's blessing.
All morning, Stein kept away from Wang and the Library Cave, busying himself with photographing elsewhere. But when Chiang returned a few hours later with news that Wang had unbricked the cave's door, Stein could wait no longer. No one was about on that hot cloudless day. Even the soldiers who had tailed him all morning had disappeared for an opium-induced siesta as Stein made his way to the cave. There he found a nervous Wang. With Stein beside him, Wang opened the rough door that lay behind the dismantled wall. Stein looked on in wonder: "The sight of the small room disclosed was one to make my eyes open wide. Heaped up in layers, but without any order, there appeared in the dim light of the priest's little lamp a solid mass of manuscript bundles rising to a height of nearly ten feet."
He was looking at one of the great archaeological finds of all time.
There was barely room for two people to stand in the tiny room, about nine feet by nine feet, and certainly no space to unroll or examine the stacked bundles. Much as Stein wanted to remove every scroll from the cramped niche to a large painted temple where he could readily study them, he knew Wang would not agree. Wang feared the consequences if a foreigner was spied examining the contents of the cave he had been ordered to keep sealed. He could lose his position and patrons if rumors spread around the oasis. He was not going to jeopardize all he had worked for. Even in the quietest times, pilgrims occasionally visited the caves to light incense, ring a bell, and pay homage before the Buddha. But the abbot did agree to remove one or two bundles at a time and allow Stein a quick look. He also agreed to let Stein use a small restored cave chapel nearby that had been fitted with a door and paper windows. Screened from prying eyes, Stein set up what he called his "reading room."
As Wang busied himself inside the Library Cave, Stein looked for any hint of when it had been sealed and a clue therefore to the age of the manuscripts hidden within. Two features drew his attention: a slab of black marble and a mural of bodhisattvas. The three-foot-wide block was originally inside the cave, but Wang had moved it to the passageway outside. It was inscribed to the memory of a monk named Hong Bian with a date corresponding to the middle of the ninth century. This suggested the cave could not have been sealed before then. On the passageway wall were the remains of the mural -- a row of saintly bodhisattvas carrying offerings of divine food -- that helped conceal the entrance to the Library Cave. Fortunately Wang's restorations had not extended to these figures. To Stein, hungry for clues, they provided more earthly nourishment. Their style suggested they were painted no later than the thirteenth century. So somewhere between the ninth century and the thirteenth, the cave had been filled, then sealed. If his deduction was right, whatever was inside the cave would be very old indeed.
Stein at first believed the cave had been filled in great confusion, and from this he formed a theory about why it was concealed. "There can be little doubt that the fear of some destructive invasion had prompted the act," he wrote. But he also found evidence for a conflicting theory: that the cave was no more than a storehouse for sacred material. He noted bags carefully packed with fragments of sacred writings and paintings. "Such insignificant relics would certainly not have been collected and sewn up systematically in the commotion of a sudden emergency."
Scholars agree the cave was plastered shut around the beginning of the eleventh century, but the reasons why remain unclear. The cave's guardians may have feared Islamic invaders from the west. The sword of Islam had already conquered Dunhuang's ally, Khotan, in 1006. Invaders did come from the north, but these were Tanguts who, as Buddhists themselves, seem an unlikely threat to Buddhist scriptures.
But there is also support for Stein's other thesis, that the cave was a storeroom or tomb for material no longer needed by local monasteries. The printed Diamond Sutra, for example, showed signs of damage and repeated repair and may simply have been judged to have reached the end of its useful life. Buddhists did not simply throw away sacred material. They buried it reverentially. Even today Buddhism has rites surrounding the disposal of spiritual writings.
The cave does not appear to have been sealed ahead of an unrecorded exodus from the sacred complex. Nearby Dunhuang was still a bustling oasis when the cave was hidden. The area had a population of about 20,000, including about 1,000 monks and nuns in more than a dozen monasteries. The caves too were thriving, with some of their most beautiful chapels still to be created. Indeed the caves continued to thrive after the arrival of Genghis Khan in the thirteenth century. Although the Mongol chief ransacked Dunhuang, he not only left the caves undamaged, his rule saw new ones commissioned. The caves were still flourishing 300 years after the Library Cave was sealed. The last cave is believed to have been painted in 1357, just before the start of the Ming dynasty. Soon after, the Silk Road was abandoned, and the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas sank into a long decline.
Whatever the reason for its sealing, the Library Cave -- or Cave 17 as it is prosaically known today -- wasn't always used to house manuscripts. It was initially a memorial chapel for the monk whose name was on the marble slab, Hong Bian, who died around the time the Diamond Sutra was being printed. He was an important monk -- so important he had the right to wear the highly prestigious color purple. A statue of him, seated in meditation posture, was initially installed in the cave. It was placed against a wall behind which was painted a decorative scene including two attendants -- one holding a staff, the other holding a fan -- and a pair of trees from which hang his pilgrim's bag and water bottle. The statue was removed when the cave was filled with scrolls and has since been found to contain traces of purple silk. When and why the cave changed from being a memorial chapel to housing the scrolls remains a mystery.
The above is an excerpt from the book Journeys on the Silk Road: A Desert Explorer, Buddha's Secret Library, and the Unearthing of the World's Oldest Printed Book by Joyce Morgan and Conrad Walters. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.
Reprinted with permission from Journeys on the Silk Road: A Desert Explorer, Buddha's Secret Library, and the Unearthing of the World's Oldest Printed Book, by Joyce Morgan and Conrad Walters, published by Lyons Press 2012.
About the book:
When a Chinese monk broke into a hidden cave in 1900, he uncovered one of the world’s great literary secrets: a time capsule from the ancient Silk Road. Inside, scrolls were piled from floor to ceiling, undisturbed for a thousand years. The gem within was the Diamond Sutra of AD 868. This key Buddhist teaching, made 500 years before Gutenberg inked his press, is the world’s oldest printed book.
The Silk Road once linked China with the Mediterranean. It conveyed merchants, pilgrims and ideas. But its cultures and oases were swallowed by shifting sands. Central to the Silk Road’s rediscovery was a man named Aurel Stein, a Hungarian-born scholar and archaeologist employed by the British service.
Undaunted by the vast Gobi Desert, Stein crossed thousands of desolate miles with his fox terrier Dash. Stein met the Chinese monk and secured the Diamond Sutra and much more. The scroll’s journey—by camel through arid desert, by boat to London’s curious scholars, by train to evade the bombs of World War II—merges an explorer’s adventures, political intrigue, and continued controversy.
The Diamond Sutra has inspired Jack Kerouac and the Dalai Lama. Its journey has coincided with the growing appeal of Buddhism in the West. As the Gutenberg Age cedes to the Google Age, the survival of the Silk Road’s greatest treasure is testament to the endurance of the written word.
About the authors:
Saturday, October 20, 2012
About the book:
Let’s face it, dealing with customers isn’t easy. They aren’t always right—or even pleasant—but knowing the right words to use can make all the difference.
Powerful Phrases for Effective Customer Service shares over 700 phrases and scripts that have been proven time and again to defuse even the most difficult interactions. Covering 30 challenging customer behaviors and 20 tough employee-caused situations, this indispensible reference makes it easy for readers to assess the circumstances, find the appropriate response, and confidently deliver satisfaction to every customer. In addition, readers will learn how to incorporate language into their daily routine that communicates welcome, courtesy, rapport, enthusiasm, assurance, regret, empathy, and appreciation. Every chapter includes helpful Do This! sample scenarios that bring the phrases to life as well as Why This Works sections that provide detailed explanations.
Practical and insightful, Powerful Phrases for Effective Customer Service ensures that employees will never again be at a loss for words when dealing with customers.
About the author:
Renée Evenson has worked in customer service management and training for over 30 years, including nearly 20 years at BellSouth Telecommunications, and has been writing about how to provide exceptional customer service for more than a decade. Her previous books, Customer Service Training 101 (now in its second edition) and Customer Service Management Training 101, were both published by AMACOM. She has a degree in organizational psychology and lives in Saint Simons Island, Georgia (Jacksonville,FL dma).
Friday, October 19, 2012
In today’s high-speed culture, sensible human nutrition has been sidetracked by convenience foods and fad diets. Attempting to cut through the hype can be overwhelming for anyone, even when you have the best of intentions about adopting healthier eating habits and committing to long-term wellness. Fortunately, wellness expert Brett Blumenthal has created a straightforward diet and nutrition program to demystify the secrets of healthy eating once and for all. She identifies five simple principles, founded in fact, that can easily be applied in everyday life. Her “GET REAL” toolkit outlines tips on establishing proper portion size, shopping smart at the grocery store, and making healthy substitutions in cooking, along with advice about exercise, hydration, and stress reduction. And with forty pages of simple, satisfying recipes at your fingertips, you can jump-start your nutritional makeover the tasty way, at breakfast (Mushroom and Asparagus Egg-white Omelets and Pleasantly Surprising Whole-grain Pancakes), lunch (Spinach, Raisin, and Chickpea Salad with Chicken and Farm Fresh Italian Calzones), and even dessert (Grandma’s Chocolate Clusters and Summer’s Over Apple Crumble).
Hailed as “the ‘diet book’ for people who hate diet books,” GET REAL and STOP Dieting! will inspire, empower, and motivate you to live a healthier, happier life.
Received for review.
While this is a small book it provides all the relevant information in a clear, concise manner. It really doesn't need extra pages to get its message across.
The author, who is female by the way, presents her five simple rules of healthy eating in a friendly, accessible way in the first part of the book. The rules are common sense and easy to follow and can be adapted for all diets - including vegetarians.
The second and third portions focus on how to follow said rules in real life and a series of recipes that adhere to the rules.
I was actually quite impressed with the author's no-nonsense style and her ability to cut to the heart of the matter without psychobabble or faux science.
The shopping lists could be helpful for some, but most readers should be able to apple the rules and maintain their normal shopping establishments.
The recipes left a bit to be desired. They were a bit on the crunchy granola side for me, but they give one a jumping off point at least.
All in all, I would certainly recommend this to anyone who is looking for a non-diet diet book for real people in the real world.
★★★★☆ = Really Liked It
Thursday, October 18, 2012
Matt Mumber, MD and Heather Reed, authors of the book Sustainable Wellness, stopped by to share with us a piece they wrote.
Don’t Just Change…Transform!
The athletes who competed in the London Olympics are models of persistence and what it takes to maintain change. Change as it pertains to most high-level competitive sports entails working out 2-5 hours per day with the goal of making small improvements over the course of an entire year. For example, competitive swimmers will work for years to drop a single second off of their best time. One one-hundredth of a second can often make the difference between gold, silver, bronze or making the team at all. Of many sports, it’s likely that swimming is oriented most to the individual. As such, it offers some lessons on how we can sustain change in our lives as we search for the balance with our internal and external environment we call health.
There are two approaches that help create sustainable change for a competitive swimmer. These are the mechanics, or translational tools, and the intangibles, or transformational approaches. Certainly change can occur with one and not the other, but it will not be sustainable or optimal.
The mechanical/translational approach includes the practical aspects of the sport that can be translated to anyone, anywhere. These include a knowledgeable coach, a good pool, a practice routine with a set time and place, and appropriate workouts with an emphasis on specific techniques and conditioning. In this category, the talent levels of the individual swimmer and the coach are variables that affect outcome.
The intangible/transformational aspects are completely individual and cannot be imposed on anyone—they must come from within. These include the creation of desired goals, the meaning a swimmer attaches to participation, how practice and competition are viewed, and whether he or she swims out of a desire for success or out of a fear of failure. This category is often understood as “the will to win” or “the heart’s desire.”
Which is more important? Certainly without the mechanical, practical pieces in place there would be no way to begin. Yet, how often do we see the outcome of sporting events deliver victory not to the most talented, but to those with greatest camaraderie, heart and desire? Optimally, the heart, mind, and body can work seamlessly to provide what is needed at just the right time.
The ability to be aware of what is going on right here and right now is the magical elixir that helps an athlete to balance the resources necessary for success. We can be aware of who we are, including our strengths and weaknesses. We can frame our present situation with a clear understanding of where we have been in the past and where we wish to go in the future. A balanced mind, body, and spirit fill us with reason to wake up in the morning, with an ongoing expression of who we really are. When we are out of balance, goals can become a source of judgmental striving that can never be satisfied and are never enough.
Vince Lombardi, legendary football coach and motivator, famously said: “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” Later in life, he came to regret those words. Instead, he wished he’d emphasized that giving 100% effort is what’s most important. In any endeavor, whether a quest to improve athletically or to experience health more completely, it is feeling that we have given our highest and best individual effort that counts the most. The time has come to expand our methods purposefully and to tap the resources of our heart and mind.
What does all of this have to do with our health? Wellness is the experience of that balance we call health. In order to create a sustainable wellness, we must know where we are right here and right now. Once we know where we are, we can choose to explore who we are – the good, bad, and the ugly. If we are able to look at our individual self with the merciful eyes of a grandparent, we can more fully understand why we are who we are. We can then begin to explore where we want to go in the future.
When our being informs our actions it creates a constantly renewing system in which we can catch small imbalances before they become large obstacles. Whether we finish first, second or last, our highest and best effort is always enough. Seeing our self and the world with a new set of eyes provides the renewable fuel of transformation that powers the vehicle of change.
About the book:
For nearly a decade, award-winning radiation oncologist Dr. Matt Mumber and yoga instructor Heather Reed have led retreats for people facing health challenges of all kinds. Through their eight-week Sustainable Wellness program, participants have found that using simple tools consistently creates remarkable health benefits.
Whether you're looking for improved physical health, better ways to manage stress, or just a greater sense of inner peace and wellness, Sustainable Wellness offers a simple but powerfully effective plan for transformation.
You will learn how to:
- Empower yourself to reclaim your health and play a more active role in shaping it
- Become aware of the daily choices that affect your health and how you can transform them in a positive way
- Let go of destructive habits and embrace new ones that enhance wellness
About the authors:
Dr. Matthew Mumber is an awardwinning, board-certified radiation oncologist and codirector of the MD Ambassador Program and Integrative Oncology Program at Harbin Clinic in Rome, Georgia. He gives talks, leads workshops nationally, and writes extensively on integrative approaches to oncology, health, and wellness. Dr. Mumber is the founder of the nonprofit organization, Cancer Navigators Inc. He was named a Health Care Hero by Georgia Trend Magazine.
Heather Reed has been teaching yoga since 1996. She specializes in using yoga and meditation techniques for people living with cancer, post-polio syndrome, and other chronic illnesses. Reed currently facilitates Cancer Navigators residential retreats and support groups in person and online from Austin, Texas.
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
I've had a few requests for different ways to enter the giveaways I host so I've updated my giveaway options, adding a few new ones and making some available so you can do them once a day, for all giveaways going forward. You can see them in the Rafflecopter form, but I thought I'd give you a detailed list here.
The only mandatory entry for each giveaway is that you are a GFC follower. All others are optional.
I've tried to incorporate all the suggestions for a wide variety of options for everyone but if you have any you'd like me to add let me know.
So, what do you think of the new options? Good? Bad? Neutral?
GFC Follower: Be a public Google Friend Connect follower (once)
Facebook Fan/Twitter Follow: Fan or follow the publisher and/or author and/or me (once)
Tweet about the Giveaway: Tweet about the giveaway using the button on the form (daily)
Facebook Post about the Giveaway: Post about the giveaway on your Facebook wall (daily)
Comment on any Facebook Post: Comment on any post on my Facebook wall (daily)
Comment on any blog post: Comment on any other non-giveaway related post (daily)
Blog About the Giveaway: Blog about the giveaway (daily)
Grab My Button: Place my button on your site (once)
Subscribe via E-mail: Subscribe via e-mail (once)
Give Me Klout: Visit my Klout page and give me Klout on any topic (daily)
Follow on Networked Blogs: Follow me via Networked Blogs (once)
Visit the Animal Rescue Site, the Hunger Site, or the Rainforest Site: Visit the site and click the Donate button (daily)
About the book:
For hundreds of years, Los Guardianes de la Paz – the Guardians of Peace – have enforced an uneasy truce between humans and vampires. When vampires kill two Mexicans on the Rio Grande, everything changes. The vampires must now find a new place to live – and a reliable, clean food supply. Meanwhile, former DEA agent Robert Mackie is on a simple – but dangerous – mission: ferret out the turncoat who had blown his cover as a dedicated employee of a notorious East Coast drug lord. Through a twist of fate, however, his quest for justice ends up putting his niece and nephew in grave danger. Suddenly, the children are thrown into the mix of an enormous vampire family in the higher reaches of the Guadalupe Mountains in West Texas. One of the children there, 13-year-old Greg Pike, is about to find himself the star attraction in the vampires’ version of a fox hunt – unless he can escape first. Now Carlos Santiago, the eldest of the Guardians, must find the help he needs to put an end to the violence and set things right with the world again. But nothing is as it seems, and death lurks around every corner. Combining elements of the thriller, mystery, and the occult, Guardians is a fast-paced and thoughtful look at a collision of cultures both human and otherwise.
About the author:
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Tim Meyer, author of the book Demon Blood, stopped by with a quick Q&A courtesy of his publicist.
What separates your novel from other demon/apocalyptic tales?
I think most books within the same genre cater to a specific audience. I set out to write an epic horror novel. I wanted lots of characters, lots of story, and an intricate plot. Because there are numerous complex characters, it is very easy for the reader to relate to at least one character in some way. Whether you can relate to the unconditional love that Maggie has for her possessed daughter, Amelia, or the grief that Danny and Andrea are experiencing with the loss of their spouses, you can find someone to root for.
Because it's fun! And horror isn't always blood and guts. There can be drama, suspense, and sometimes humor. I think blending all these things together is appealing as a writer, and a reader.
What character from the book can you personally relate to and why?
I think, in some fashion, they're all pieces of me. They're all lost, in a sense, and they spend the novel searching for answers, trying to find their place in this crazy world. I think we can all relate to that.
How long did it take to complete your novel and what was your biggest struggle in finishing the story?
From the first word in the first draft to the last word on the final draft, about two years. It spent a year trying to find a home with a traditional publisher, and another collecting digital dust. I'd say about another year to get it ready for self-publication. I didn't really struggle at any point during the writing process. The characters pretty much dictated where the story flowed. If anything, the hardest part was figuring out when to stop!
About the Book:
If you're looking for an epic horror novel, Demon Blood: Enlightenment is it.
The story follows several strangers coming together to prevent the end of the world. A lonely drifter, following the gruesome murder of his wife and unborn child, is struggling to find his purpose in a world filled with evil and insanity, as he searches for the entity that led his life astray. A low-budget horror producer—and recent widow—has traveled across the states to seek out a man she believes to know the truth about her husband's mysterious suicide. Two brothers are left homeless when demonic spirits ransack their quiet country home, setting it ablaze, violently killing their parents, and forcing them into an enduring pursuit toward the truth. A mother's world is shattered when she realizes her daughter's soul has been taken hostage by one of Hell's most dangerous villains. Ultimately, their separate paths interweave seamlessly as they come together in order to prevent disaster. They must stop a darkness from which no one will emerge. Even if victorious against the infernal forces, not all of them are guaranteed to survive.
Between Heaven and Hell... Stands Humanity.
About the author:
Monday, October 15, 2012
About the book:
About the author:
Sunday, October 14, 2012
Emma Cornwall, author of the book Incarnation, stopped by to share with us an excerpt from her book.
About the book:
In the steampunk world of Victorian London, a beautiful vampire seeks out the author of Dracula–to set the record straight . . .
If one is to believe Bram Stoker’s legendary vampire tale, Lucy Weston is Dracula’s most wanton creation, a sexual creature of the night who preys on innocent boys. But the real-life Lucy is nothing like her fictional counterpart—and she demands to know why the Victorian author deliberately lied. With Stoker’s reluctant help, she’s determined to track down the very fiend who transformed her—from the sensual underworld where humans vie to become vampires, to a hidden cell beneath a temple to madness, and finally into the glittering Crystal Palace where death reigns supreme.
Haunted by fragmentary memories of her lost life and love, Lucy must battle her thirst for blood as she struggles to stop a catastrophic war that will doom vampires and humans alike. Ultimately, she must make a choice that illuminates for her—and for us—what it means to be human.
About the author:
Emma Cornwall is a pseudonym of an established author who has written New York Times bestselling historical and contemporary fiction.
Saturday, October 13, 2012
About the book:
Suddenly, Victoria’s dream life is broken as she begins to battle a mother’s greatest fear. In 2008, her daughter, Ali, began experiencing unusual symptoms of blurred vision and an ache in her eye. Ali’s test results led to the diagnosis of Neuromyelitis Optica. NMO is is a little understood, incurable, and often fatal autoimmune disease that can cause blindness, paralysis, and life-threatening seizures, and afflicts as few as 20,000 people in the world. At the age of 14, Ali was given a terrifying prognosis of four to six years to live.
Saving Each Other: A Mother Daughter Love Story begins just as Victoria and Bill learn of Ali’s disease, starting them on a powerful journey to save Ali, their only daughter, including bringing together a team of more than fifty of the world’s leading experts in autoimmune and NMO-related diseases to create the Guthy-Jackson Charitable Foundation.
Told in alternating viewpoints, Victoria and Ali narrate their very different journeys of coming to terms with the lack of control that neither mother nor daughter have over NMO, and their pioneering efforts and courage to take their fight to a global level.
Bringing their story to light with raw emotion, humor, warmth, and refreshing candor, Saving Each Other is the extraordinary journey of a mother and daughter who demonstrate how the power of love can transcend our greatest fears, while at the same time battling to find a cure for the incurable.
About the authors:
A recognized trailblazer in the infomercial industry, Jackson altered a global beauty aesthetic with her “no makeup makeup”—a foundat ion that was the cornerstone of her eponymous line Victoria Jackson Cosmetics, which has enjoyed over a half billion dollars in sales, and continues to grow.
Jackson has also garnered a devoted following through her two briskly selling books: Redefining Beauty: Discovering Your Individual Beauty, Enhancing Your Self-Esteem and Make Up Your Life: Every Woman’s Guide to the Power of Makeup, a deeply personal account of her experiences in business.
Today, Victoria’s primary focus is the Guthy-Jackson Charitable Foundation, which is dedicated to funding biomedical research in the search to understand the pathophysiology and biochemistry of Neuromyeltis Optica (NMO) Spectrum Disease. It is her greatest hope that “together we will reverse the effects of NMO and eventually cure this disease.”
Married to husband Bill Guthy of infomercial giant Guthy-Renker, Victoria Jackson is the mother of three children and together they reside in Los Angeles.
Ali Guthy, a student at the University of California, Santa Barbara, has kept a journal since she was a young girl. At The Buckley School in Los Angeles, she served as co-editor-in-chief for her high school’s award-winning newspaper, The Student Voice. She is also the managing editor of The Spectrum, the newsletter she created with the Guthy-Jackson Charitable Foundation. While at Buckley, she had record-setting achievements on the tennis court, finishing with an overall winning record of 165-22. Ali also received Buckley’s coveted Head of School Award—given to a student who demonstrated leadership, academic achievement, character, and service on behalf of the school and community. Ali has also been honored with numerous awards and in the media for giving a public face to NMO and for her leadership in reaching out to newly diagnosed patients and their families.