Tag Archives: memoir

Tiny Yellow Hat by J. Michael Chamberlain Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Author J. Michael Chamberlain takes readers on a humorous journey through his life through anecdotes and true life experiences in his brilliant book, “Tiny Yellow Hat”. 

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The Synopsis

This wildly entertaining book is laced with wicked concepts, cheap shots and a few bright ideas; a feast of funny words and clever notions without once mentioning vampires or zombies. J. M. Chamberlain created the perfect blend of madcap rants and true life experiences guaranteed to put a never-ending smile on your face. Actually, a never-ending smile might be cause for alarm; if your smile lasts longer than four hours, please call a doctor. In a nutshell, this extraordinary slice of life is almost too good to read, but I suggest reading it anyway. I also suggest telling forty or fifty of your closest friends to read it, because www.peopleneedtolaugh.com 

The Review

This was a truly entertaining and engaging read. The author found the perfect balance between humor and personal reflection that this memoir needed. The quick-wit the author employs through his writing while regaling readers with relatable experiences like stage fright, brushes with death, and so much more made this a driven read. 

With such a storied and memorable career as this amazing author has had, it was so fascinating to see the author hone in on both the career aspect of his work as a stand-up comedian/actor and how it relates to the life lessons and memorable moments that stood out to him within his personal life. The author’s poetic delivery of witticisms and humor to explore these lessons will have readers laughing while also connecting to the author personally, something all great memoirs hope to do.

The Verdict

A remarkable, heartfelt, and funny memoir, author J. Michael Chamberlain’s “Tiny Yellow Hat” is a must-read book of 2021! The author’s creativity and life experiences will have readers enthralled, and the charming delivery of his life will have readers chuckling and smiling as they engage with the author’s writing on a very personal level. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Originally hailing from Brooklyn, New York, J. Michael Chamberlain, the doctor of comedy, began his career as the class clown with cohort Larry David, co-creator of Seinfeld and resident neurotic on Curb Your Enthusiasm. After a brief stint with a brokerage firm on Wall Street, the bestselling author signed up as a horse-and-carriage driver in Central Park. Comical tours through the park steered the way to stage doors, television studios, and major motion pictures. Soon, the gifted performer was working alongside Gene Wilder in The Woman in Red and Ed Harris in the timeless Irwin Winkler production, The Right Stuff. As a young actor and writer in Hollywood, he performed in over thirty motion pictures and countless television productions. When he isn’t penning bestsellers and appearing on The Late Show with David Letterman, he can be found playing the blues across America and enjoying the good life with his spouse and their rescued hounds, Charles Beresford Tipton and Gracie Poochinella Pants.

Interview with Amanda Blackwood

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I always wanted to be a writer. I remember writing stories in elementary school to go along with the drawings I would create. One particular teacher in the 6th grade really encouraged me when I wrote five pages in twenty minutes on a two paragraph creative writing project. I was upset that I had to turn it in because I wasn’t done yet. He took it anyway to grade it with everyone else’s. Then he asked me to turn it in again for extra credit when I was done with the story because he wanted to know what would happen to the characters I’d created. He told me I’d be a published author someday. Sadly he passed before I could make that happen, but I think he’d be proud. 

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

Too many people talk about human trafficking as they know without a shadow of a doubt what it means or why it looks like. Even when I stand on stage and tell my story of survival, I still can’t fully show or explain to someone the levels of fear involved, nor the torture I lived though to make it to the other side. I knew that if I was ever going to really move forward in my own life, I needed to get it all out in the open. Ironically, less than two months after my book was published I got engaged to the man of my dreams and I have finally, fully, totally moved on. 

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

Human trafficking can happen to anyone, regardless of upbringing, age, gender, race, religion, personal beliefs or relationship status. Nobody is immune, and it will NEVER look how you think it will or should. 

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I’ve lived a strange and amazing life. I also wrote science fiction post apocalyptic takes (who better to predict the end of the world than someone who already lived through it?) but this venture of nom-fiction autobiography seems to be what I get asked the most about. Truth is stranger than fiction. The fact I’m still alive is a miracle to be celebrated, and if it can help even one other person to do the same then my story deserves to be in the open. 

5) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Lately I seem to have more following on Facebook, though my social media skills haven’t been focused heavily on other platforms to really expand the following in other ways. I hope to do more of that in following months. 

6) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

It’s impossible to edit nothing. Getting started can be so intimidating for everyone, including the seasoned writers. Don’t let that hold you back. Get stuff written down to start, even if it’s just ideas. You can edit and add later. 

7) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I actually have my next book in a series being published on October 1st. My first book was published in January of 2018 and this next book will be book eight for me. I’m averaging two books per year right now while also balancing a personal life and full time job. I don’t plan to slow down anytime soon. I’ve had people tell me that I’m too ambitious and that this is an impossible pace. I just want to remind those people that it’s not impossible, and if they want to write a book the only thing holding them back is themselves. They just have to decide how much they really want it. Apparently I want it badly enough twice a year that somehow make it happen. 

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About the Author

Amanda Blackwood is a survivor of human trafficking and an avid writer. A portion of every book sale goes to local organizations in the state of Colorado to help rescue other victims of human trafficking and offer them a better chance at life.

Check out more books by Amanda Blackwood on Amazon.

– Detailed Pieces of a Shattered Dream

– The Miller Miles

– Twisted Fate – poetry from a survivor

– Thirty Synchronized Woodpeckers

– The Shack in the Woods

– The Unlikely

– Custom Justice

– New Hope

…More coming soon!

Interview with Author Sverrir Sigurdsson

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I was born in Iceland and lived there until graduating from high school at 19. Since Iceland is a small country, it’s common for Icelanders to go overseas to study. I went to Finland to study architecture. Afterwards, I launched a three-year plan to see the world. Three years turned into 50 some years and travels to 60 some countries. My international career as an architect took me to the Middle East to build a ruler’s palace and harem, and to poor countries in Africa to construct schools. My last job was with the World Bank, a UN affiliate and the world’s largest agency in international development. I now live in the U.S. with my wife and coauthor, Veronica Li.

In my retirement, I became the newsletter editor of the World Bank retiree group. The quarterly featured news about members. I soon got interested in the lives of several founding members of the retiree association. They’d worked at the Bank since its inception, when the organization was established to reconstruct the war-torn countries of the Second World War. One of them was a hundred years old! Realizing this was the last chance to capture their stories, I interviewed them and wrote a short bio about each. These stories were collated and published as a book by the association. Then I decided I had an interesting story to tell too.

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

I love telling stories of my international adventures. My friends encouraged me to write them down. So I did and saved them as “episodes” on my computer, kind of like dumping photos in a shoebox. Then I showed some pages to my wife Veronica, who’s a published author. She read them and said, “Wow, Sverrir, you’ve had a fascinating life!” From then on, she helped me put my episodes into a memoir called Viking Voyager: An Icelandic Memoir.

We wanted to make it a human-interest story that appeals to a wide audience. At the time of our writing, Iceland was a tourist hot spot. (The country, which has a population of only 360,000, hosted 2 million tourists in 2019!)  The literature on Iceland, however, was mostly travel guides. We decided I could tell tourists about my country by introducing them to my family, our way of life, and the road we’ve traveled to be where we are today.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

There’s a saying: travel broadens the mind. After reminiscing about my own travel adventures, I must add to the adage: travel has also expanded my soul, strengthened my character and enriched my life. My Viking forefathers traveled the world to loot and plunder and bring home riches. Modern-day Vikings don’t do that anymore, thank goodness. We travel to learn, study, and to contribute on the world stage. At the end of my life, I can say I’ve found my fortune in an exciting career that required me to work with people of diverse cultures. Those experiences are worth more than any treasure.

My message to people of any age but especially to the young is: travel, spend some time in a foreign country. You’ll be surprised at what you’ll discover about other people but most importantly, about yourself.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I’m drawn to memoirs/biographies because I grew up with the Sagas, which started out as biographies of real people. The first Saga, called The Book of Settlements, tells us about the first settlers in the country more than a thousand years ago—where they put down roots in the uninhabited island, whom they married, and who their descendants were. It’s a dry, and some would say boring, account of who’s who in Iceland in the 9th century. As time went by, various writers embellished the stories and turned them into what’s comparable to today´s historical novels. The stories became increasingly fantastical and the realistic historical novels gave way to tales of superheroes performing magical feats. The writing finally ceased during the Little Ice Age in the 14th century, when the country descended into poverty and misery. But itinerant story tellers told and retold the stories as they traveled from farm to farm to entertain the inhabitants.

I’m an eclectic reader of many genres, including thrillers, mystery, and historical novels. After a lifetime of reading, my conclusion is that every fictional story, no matter how fantastic, has a real-life element to it.

5) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I find Facebook and Twitter most useful. Being an old geezer who had no time for social media, I had to start almost from scratch. On Facebook, finding friends turned out to be very easy. Without much effort, I added to my friends list my connections from all over the world. I posted news of my publication, and soon I was hearing back from relatives, childhood friends, former colleagues, and even friends of friends.

The covid lockdown also forced me to look into virtual book tours. I did so reluctantly and was pleasantly surprised at the result. For two weeks, the tour host tweeted several times a day about my book and interviews at various blog sites. From zero followers on Twitter, I quickly gained a respectable following. 

The posts on Facebook and Twitter created a snowball effect. Contact with one book blogger led to another, and their reviews added to my credentials on Amazon and Goodreads. This network of friends in the book world is invaluable to any author. For example, I never knew there was such a thing as contests for indie authors. I entered one, The Wishing Shelf Award run by a group of UK authors, and was most happy to receive a prize. 

6) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

If you’re interested in writing your memoir, I’d say, start writing now. Even if you don’t know what you want to say, you can always begin by putting down your most salient memories. After a while, you may be able to connect the dots and see the big picture. This was what I did—the “pantser” style of writing.

Fortunately, my wife and coauthor is a “plotter.” She taught me the importance of the theme. Once the theme is established, the episodes fall into place and become the building blocks of a plot. In the absence of a theme, a memoir can end up a mishmash of anecdotes, with no meaningful message for readers to take away.

During the writing process, I learned a lot about creative writing from Veronica, who insisted on painting vivid pictures of places and people in order to transport readers to a different world. When I said I couldn’t remember the specifics, she threatened to exercise a coauthor’s right to creative license. Of course, I couldn’t let her turn my life into fiction. So, I dug into my memory, did some research, and found the details to flesh out the scenes. From its birth as a factual and dry account, the story evolved into a visual canvas for the reader. 

One suggestion to aspiring memoirists is to put their experiences in the context of their environment. Their stories will resonate with readers who share their culture and history, while those who come from a different place will learn something new. Since my memoir starts in Iceland, a little-known country, readers appreciate the Viking heritage and the country’s development described in my book.

7) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I’m working on publishing the Icelandic edition of Viking Voyager. I’ve translated the book myself, with the help of an editor, and an Icelandic publisher is aiming to release the book before the end of the year, in time for the “Christmas book flood.” The Icelandic tradition is to give each other books as Christmas presents. Iceland is known to be one of the most literate nations in the world. Given our long, dark winters, there’s nothing better than curling up with a good book.

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About the Author

Sverrir Sigurdsson grew up in Iceland and graduated as an architect from Finland in 1966. He pursued an international career that took him to the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and the U.S. His assignments focused on school construction and improving education in developing countries. He has worked for private companies as well as UNESCO and the World Bank. He is now retired and lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and coauthor, Veronica.

Sverrir Sigurdsson Author | Facebook

www.linkedin.com/in/sverrir-sigurdsson-29b51732

Interview with Author Denise Bossarte

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I have alwasy been a writer. I wrote short stories and poems in elementary and high school. And enjoyed creative writing and journaling as an outlet into my adulthood. I got more serious about writing and publishing when my friend and I created a “novel” club to help with the sci-fi book he was writing.I enjoyed the creative process and was inspired by his success in self-publishing (he was later picked up by 47North Amazon imprint).I decided to try my hand at publishing a series of beach poems I had written and had an artist friend do the accompanying illustrations- just to try out the self-pulishing process from end to end. From there, I decided to work on a fantasy novel that had been begging for some attention. I ended up writing the award winning novel Glamorous and 3 novellas in that series.   

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2) What inspired you to write your book? 

I had wanted to share my story of abuse and healing for a long time. My husband encouraged me saying my story could help other survivors. But being a survivor with what I would consider PTSD, my memories were not always accessible or cohesive, and often difficult to put in the context of the other events in my life. I thought if I couldn’t write a detailed memoir then I couldn’t share my story.Then the news came out about Dr. Larry Nassar and his abuse of hundreds of female gymnasts and my heart broke for them. Those women need healing help, I thought to myself. If I can’t write a memoir, I can write about all the things I did to help myself on my healing journey. So their stories inspired me to write a book to help all survivors heal from their abuse.  

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

The abuse was not their fault. They have the strength to let go of the hold the past has on them.They are capable of healing from the abuse and living a life they love. 

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

Self-help was the best way to share my story and the activities for healing that I had incorporated into my healing journey. I didn’t just want to write about my abuse. I wanted to create a blueprint for others for helping them on their healing journey. I wrote the book I wished I had had when I started my healing work!  

5) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Twitter. I can share about my book and about the various healing activities I enjoy practicing.  

6) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there? 

Read a lot of good books in your genre!

Do your research for the genre you want to write in to learn what works for genre from storyline, characters, book covers, etc.

Connect with other authors and find ways to share your writing with people who can give constructive criticism to your work. Their are author groups online, so no need to limit yourself to who is local!

When you are finished writing, get a good editor to help you take the book to the next level.


 7) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?


 Right now I am focusing on my other artistic talents – photography. I teach contemplative photography and am working on putting together an online course. There are several novels playing around in my head, so you might see some of these stand alone novels some time in the future! 

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Author Bio


Denise Bossarte is an award-winning poet, writer, photographer, and artist. Denise is a certified meditation facilitator and contemplative arts teacher. She is an information technology (IT) professional working for a large urban school district. Denise holds a BA in chemistry, an MS in computer science, and a PhD in developmental neuroscience. And she is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.

Awards

Thriving was Quarterfinalist in the 2019 BookLife Prize Nonfiction Contest, Self-help Category (as  an unpublished manuscript.)

Thriving was honored with a GOLD AWARD by the Nonfiction Book Awards, via the Nonfiction Authors Association! https://nonfictionauthorsassociation.com/book-award-winner-thriving-after-sexual-abuse/.

Check out the awesome review here: https://thrivingaftersexualabusebook.com/awards/
 
And Thriving was selected as a semi-finalist in Non-fiction in the 2021 Kindle Book Awards! Finalists announced Oct 1st, Winners announced Nov 1st.  https://www.thekindlebookreview.net/2021-book-award-semifinalists/
 
Thriving was selected by Kirkus Reviews Indie editors for the August issue. According to Kirkus Reviews, less than 10% of Indie authors are selected for this. The review is 1 of 35 reviews in the Indie section of the magazine! You can read the full review here: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/denise-bossarte/thriving-after-sexual-abuse-break-your-bondage-to-the-past-and-live-a-life-you-love/
 
And finally, Thriving’s book cover was selected as a finalist in The Wishing Shelf Book Awards Best Book Cover – Adult contest. https://www.thewsa.co.uk/finalists2021/

Social Media

https://thrivingaftersexualabusebook.com

https://thrivingaftersexualabusebook.com/blog/

https://twitter.com/AmThrivingAfter

https://www.facebook.com/thrivingafter

https://www.linkedin.com/in/denise-bossarte-phd-39975841

Viking Voyager: An Icelandic Memoir by Sverrir Sigurdsson and Veronica Li Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Authors Sverrir Sigurdsson and Veronica Li take readers into the heart of modern-day Iceland as Sverrir goes on a voyage around the world in the same vein as his Viking ancestors in the book, “Viking Voyager: An Icelandic Memoir”.

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The Synopsis

This vivacious personal story captures the heart and soul of modern Iceland. Born in Reykjavik on the eve of the Second World War, Sverrir Sigurdsson watched Allied troops invade his country and turn it into a bulwark against Hitler’s advance toward North America. The country’s post-war transformation from an obscure, dirt-poor nation to a prosperous one became every Icelander’s success. Spurred by this favorable wind, Sverrir answered the call of his Viking forefathers, setting off on a voyage that took him around the world. Join him on his roaring adventures!

The Review

A truly magnificent and engaging read, this book really does capture the adventurous spirit and rich history of Iceland and author Sverrir’s Viking forefathers. The balance of history, culture, and life experiences through travel was great to see unfold here, from Sverrir’s family history to setting out into the world and studying in Finland, to making a life and home after years of travel with his wife and co-author Veronica Li, this book really does a great job of educating and allowing the reader to identify with the authors and their journeys. 

What really stuck out to me however was the way the authors managed to tie their more “modern” adventures around the world to the ancient Viking culture. As a people known for their travels and explorations, it was interesting to see the cultural note that so many Icelandic people have to make a name for themselves and learn from distant lands in order to bring more knowledge to their home country, in an effort to become the best. It felt like the perfect chord that brought the past and present together as one and really shows how ancient cultures still have an impact on our world today. 

The Verdict

A masterful, thoughtful, and culturally-driven memoir, authors Sverrir Sigurdsson and Veronica Li’s “Viking Voyager: An Icelandic Memoir” is a must-read book. The attention to detail really brought the personal and broader history of Iceland and the author to life, while the teamwork and chemistry of both authors and their writing styles allowed the information and culture of this book to be absorbed by the reader. Even the utilization of images and guides to highlight Iceland and its language was both informative and engrossing all at once. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Authors

Sverrir Sigurdsson grew up in Iceland and graduated as an architect from Finland in 1966. He pursued an international career that took him to the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and the U.S. His assignments focused on school construction and improving education in developing countries. He has worked for private companies as well as UNESCO and the World Bank. He is now retired and lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and coauthor, Veronica.

Veronica Li emigrated to the U.S. from Hong Kong as a teenager. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and her master’s degree in International Affairs from Johns Hopkins University. She has worked as a journalist and for the World Bank, and is currently a writer. Her three previously published titles are: Nightfall in Mogadishu, Journey across the Four Seas: A Chinese Woman’s Search for Home, and Confucius Says: A Novel.

Sverrir Sigurdsson Author | Facebook

www.linkedin.com/in/sverrir-sigurdsson-29b51732

Interview with Author William Hart

1) How did you get into writing?

     I’m pretty sure it was my mother who inspired me to become a writer, when I was very young. She was a public school teacher responsible for kindergarten and first grade, and by the time my brother and I came along she had developed a most arresting manner of reading stories to her classes. She mimicked the character’s voices, adding her own highly amusing facial expressions to create entertainment at least as involving as the early television shows we were watching. The stories I remember best were taken from the Pooh Bear books, Winnie the Pooh and those that followed. Mom’s performances in our living room held my brother and I mesmerized—like her students must have been. The experience of her reading to us is unforgettable, and I believe it had much to do with both John and me becoming writers.

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

     When I was fourteen, I joined a roller racing team at my local rink that turned out to be one of the best speed skating clubs in the country. Many of my teammates were national champions and so it was easy for me to set my goals high as I was developing as a skate racer. I was a varsity sprinter on my ninth grade track team, and those skills translated well to my new sport. Within a year I became one of the fastest roller racers my age in the country. As I was developing my skills, I attracted the attention of a very pretty girl my age who had taken second at nationals a week or two before she asked me to join her in a couple’s skate. Both of us, having found the mate of our dreams, fell in love for the first time, and for two intense, thrilling years that girl hung the moon for me. Both my new sport and my first romantic relationship made that period the most memorable of my life. Once I became a writer it was natural for me to want to write about those heady days of my youth, though it took me decades to figure out how to do it.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

     There were many pretty girls at our roller rink. In addition to my girlfriend, who was slow to develop physically, there was a second girl my age who developed a woman’s body a little early. When my girlfriend balked at pursuing a complete physical relationship, both because she didn’t feel ready and because she didn’t want to become a party girl like her quite irresponsible mother, I became frustrated and dropped her for the girl who was much more willing to give me what I thought I wanted. Later, I realized I’d made a terrible and costly mistake. I’ve felt guilty all my life for what I did when I was sixteen. The primary message of Roller Rink Starlight is that sex is a poor substitute for love. When confronted with a choice between the two, pick love, because it is more valuable, much rarer, and holds the promise of a relationship that is deep and long lasting. There are many other messages in my book, but that’s the main one.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

     I’m usually a writer of fiction, and so it was natural for me to try to tell the story I most wanted to tell as a novel. Over many years, as I was writing other things, I tried three or four times to write my novel about love and sex at the roller rink. But every time what I produced seemed false to me, like music that is tinny, or an argument based on lies. Finally, as a senior citizen, I tried telling the story exactly as it happened, except that I changed some names to protect privacy and to avoid hurting people. Written as a memoir, the story came pouring out of me, true to life and I believe moving and meaningful. Apparently the story meant so much to me I had to tell it like it happened, full of the ecstasies and warts of real life. 

5) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

     I’m not active on any social media. For example, I have a Facebook account and over 300 Facebook friends, but only rarely do I interact with them in that forum. Basically I’m reactive rather that proactive. That is, if one of my Facebook friends messages me, I answer. But I don’t often message others first or try to sell my literary works on Facebook.

6) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

     I don’t have much advice, because each writer is unique in talent, so that what works for me probably won’t work for many others. But I do have one tip for those beginning on the writer’s career path. Most of us, at the start, are so fired up by our calling that we dream of our creativity providing our income, allowing us to write all the time. A very few are able to accomplish this. But most of us spend a long time developing the skills needed to earn significant money. In fact, the vast majority never become self-supporting from writing alone. Therefore, I advise finding other work that doesn’t conflict with the writing, but that pays the bills. I did this and received a bonus I didn’t expect. More than half my books have come from jobs I took in order to survive financially. 

7) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books on the horizon?

     I’m currently working on a lightly fictionalized memoir about one of my friends, a quadriplegic marijuana dealer operating outside the law. He was my dealer for about twenty years before California passed medical marijuana legislation and I decided to go legal as a buyer. His story is interesting to me partly because his life is interesting, especially from the time his mother’s boyfriend accidentally sent a .38 caliber slug spinning through his fifth cervical vertebra, sentencing him to a wheelchair for life. My friend, needing caregivers daily, hired two undocumented immigrants from Tijuana, one a terribly attractive 18-year-old Chicana fashion model, the other her older sister, less attractive physically but an incredible workhorse, capable of succeeding at three outside jobs in addition to her work for my buddy As luck would have it, my friend fell head over heels in love with the beautiful sister, while the less beautiful sister fell in love with him. The story takes place in a south central L.A. neighborhood with street gangs and an assortment of unusual and entertaining characters, including two other paraplegics that my friend met and bonded with in his rehab hospital. If you think the paralyzed can’t live wild, turbulent, yet productive lives, read my book to find out how they can.

8) Are you a plotter or a puntster?

     Back when I was a teacher, I planned every course meeting in detail rather than “winging it,” so it shouldn’t be surprising that when my writer’s hat goes on I plot everything except short poems. I do let my creativity flow, but when I do it’s in the context of an established plot that I can modify while writing as I see better ways to tell the story than exist in my plans. For me, mixing carefully detailed planning with creativity is the best way to go, because it draws strength from two very different methods of accomplishing the job.

9) Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?

      I read every review I hear about and I try to thank every reviewer, even those who are negative. Generally speaking, reviewers provide the most effective promotion that books receive and it strikes me as wrong to bite the hands that are feeding me. I might feel differently if most of the reviews of my books hadn’t been quite positive. Overall reviewers have been kind to my literary efforts, and some of those who have been critical have helped me improve as a writer. It so happens that reviewers are writers too, and it seems silly on my part to be disrespectful to those I want to respect my work. I sometimes review books for other authors and from that I’ve learned reviewing isn’t easy, though it is usually easier than the creative act.

10) How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way they sound or the meaning?

     I believe names are important in anyone’s writing, and in fiction, which I write most of the time, I create the names of characters very carefully. That’s because I strive for realism, and nothing jars with that style more than names that sound made-up. Some writers create names with symbolic meaning, but I don’t. I rarely run across a symbolic name in real life. I do pick names that match a character’s national origins, and I pick names that suggest to me the character’s personality, though I can’t describe that process with any precision. I choose names I like for characters I like and names I don’t like for characters I dislike. It often takes a long time to get a name just right, but it’s worth the effort because it helps readers see the fictional person as real and hints at what that person is like. A character name that is on the money works not only for readers but for me as author, because it helps me buy into the fictional world I’m trying to establish.     

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About the Author

William Hart is a novelist and poet living in Los Angeles. He writes while helping produce the documentaries of PBS filmmaker Jayasri Majumdar, his wife. Hart’s work has appeared in several hundred literary journals, commercial magazines, newspapers and anthologies, and fourteen books.

Wasted Youth: A Flint Punk Rock Memoir by John Ribner Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

In a bid to escape toxic and abusive surroundings, Flint, Michigan native J.P. Ribner found solace in his pursuit of Punk Rock glory, and in this memoir the author holds no punches as he explores his journey to find self-worth and in the end discover himself in the memoir, “Wasted Youth: A Flint Punk Rock Memoir”.

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The Synopsis

In Flint, Michigan, the water isn’t the only thing that’s toxic!

Growing up in Flint left its mark on J.P. Ribner. Punk rock offered an escape from his abusive surroundings. At 16, he set out to become the singer in a punk rock band.

In this gritty, hard-hitting memoir, Ribner shares his experiences with:

  • Dysfunctional family dynamics,
  • Back-stabbing band politics,
  • A drive-by shooting,
  • Being de-platformed,
  • A drugged drink,
  • Violent identity politics,
  • Divorce,
  • The loss of friendships,
  • And much more.

Ribner’s writing pulls no punches. He daringly shares the blistering details of his desperate search for self-worth. He ends with a brutal deconstruction of his fiery disaster.

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, he offers hope by sharing life lessons he’s learned along the way.

The Review

This was such an insightful and gritty memoir! The author does a fantastic job of painting a picture of life growing up both personally and as a whole in Flint, Michigan in the 1980s and beyond. The detail and the emotion that the author puts into his writing as he describes some of the harrowing moments of his life, from his first betrayal from a former band member to the abuse both verbally and physically he suffered at home and even the shocking events that led to the author losing the friends who had always been in his corner. 

What really stands out in this narrative is the expertise with which the author balances setting with a theme in this memoir. The town and era for which this story takes place really capture the real experience of not only life in Flint, Michigan but the familiar but crucial nature that drove so many young people to embrace and love the punk-rock scene. As a fan of the rock genre overall, it’s always fascinating to see the path that brought musicians of all kinds to the bands and genres they loved. This, blended with the introspective nature of the memoir’s narrative that saw the author examining not only the foundation for his youth’s hardships, but his role in both his failures and his successes later in life, made this a true one-of-a-kind read.

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The Verdict

A brilliant, honest, and engaging memoir, author John P. Ribner’s “Wasted Youth” is a must-read nonfiction book. The relatable and memorable way the author delivers the heartfelt and at times brutal reality of his life growing up, and the lessons that led from heartbreak to hope found, made this a mesmerizing and enlightening read. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Born in Flint, Michigan. Raised by narcissists. Novelist. Singer. Songwriter. Martial artist. Social critic. Victim of a drive-by shooting. Author of “Wasted Youth: A Flint Punk Rock Memoir” and four other books.

Custom Justice by Amanda Blackwood Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

TRIGGER WARNING: BOOK DEALS WITH SUBJECTS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING, ABUSE, AND THEMES RELATED TO THESE SUBJECTS. READER DISCRETION ADVISED.

Author Amanda Blackwood shares her harrowing story of survival after escaping human trafficking and striving to get her own brand of justice through sharing the truth in her memoir, “Custom Justice”. 

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The Synopsis

It’s hard enough to escape human trafficking, but how does someone survive the aftermath of continually being hunted for years to come? I was young when the abuse started. It came from every angle. Struggling for many years, I wasn’t sure I’d ever have a chance at a normal life with real love and true happiness. At the age of 31 I figured I was too old for that sort of thing. I’d been abused in the past, but this time I was finally going to have a happy ending. I was moving to a foreign country to get married to a police officer I’d known for seven years. I would finally be happy. I had no idea that my entire life would change once more, and I’d be forced to either subject myself to abuse beyond anything I could ever imagine, or end my life unceremoniously, death by train. The man I thought I loved exploited me beyond comprehension. The damage he left behind will haunt me for the rest of my life. There is no way to seek court justice across international borders against a police officer in a corrupt system. Instead, I seek my custom justice simply by sharing the truth with the world. It’s been 10 years since I escaped, beating all odds. Most don’t survive. I know that now, I didn’t know that then.

The Review

This is a heartbreaking yet vital read for those who want to educate themselves about the perils of human trafficking, what constitutes human trafficking, and overcoming abuse as a whole. The vulnerability the author writes with when exploring her past and the moments that defined so much of her life really bring this subject to life vividly, exploring experiences far too many people have in general in the lives that they never knew could be considered abuse or a form of trafficking. 

The balance of personal memories and emotions with the descriptive and haunting way the author delves into her experiences makes this book feel important and engaging with the reader. The way the author writes also showcases an underlying theme of overcoming the odds, finding hope again, and making a life outside of the one filled with trauma, which so many people can relate to. 

A Mountain of Entertainment

The Verdict

A harrowing, emotional, and well-told story of survival and hope, author Amanda Blackwood’s “Custom Justice” is the must-read non-fiction memoir that any and all survivors of abuse and trafficking will not want to miss. Educational for those who have not experienced this before, the author’s story is important and memorable, and while often painful to read the more harrowing experiences the author shares from throughout her life, reading these experiences may well one day help others to feel connected and not alone, leading this book to be a must-own story. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Amanda Blackwood is a survivor of human trafficking and an avid writer. A portion of every book sale goes to local organizations in the state of Colorado to help rescue other victims of human trafficking and offer them a better chance at life.

Check out more books by Amanda Blackwood on Amazon.

– Detailed Pieces of a Shattered Dream

– The Miller Miles

– Twisted Fate – poetry from a survivor

– Thirty Synchronized Woodpeckers

– The Shack in the Woods

– The Unlikely

– Custom Justice

– New Hope

…More coming soon!

https://detailedpieces.com/

Reflections of an Anxious African-American Dad by Eric L. Heard Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A father speaks to his son on the experiences of his own childhood in an effort to connect those experiences to the anxiety and challenges of parenthood in author Eric L. Heard’s “Reflections of an Anxious African-American Dad”. 

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The Synopsis

The purpose of this book is an awkward discussion of Eric Heard’s life to his son. He talks about his life in a candid way that tries to explain his anxiety as an African American dad. It is an open and honest account of his life through the life of a child that has been through a lot in his life. It is a reflection on his life that has been shaped by his childhood experiences.

The Review

This was such a brilliantly written and emotionally driven memoir. The personal nature of this particular memoir really helps readers to feel connected not only to the message this novel creates but to the author himself and his struggles both with his past and his anxiety to be the best parent to his son possible. Stemming from a fear that his son would go down a path of chaos and bad decisions, the author recognizes his behavior not only directly impacts his son and his perceptions of the world, but how his own past and the adults in his life have impacted his actions in the present. 

This is not only a great examination of learned behavior and environment on the growth of a child, (examining the author’s life and childhood growing up in the American South during the ’70s, 80’s and beyond), but in particular, this is a much needed and thoughtful look at the experiences African-American children undergo and the added pressures that African-American parents have to help raise their child in a nation that still houses too much racism. Combine this with the personal stories the author shares of his relationship with his parents, his grandparents, and the relationship between his parents and his grandparents together, and the reader gets both an intimate look into the author’s life and a broader look into the life of an African-American parent in the United States today.

The Verdict

A meaningful, insightful, and thought-provoking memoir, author Eric L. Heard’s “Reflections of an Anxious African-American Dad” is a must-read nonfiction book of 2021. While a short read, the book has a major impact, speaking to parents and in particular African-American parents as the book takes an intimate look into the author’s personal stories and showcases how our childhood and the way adults interact with children do have an impact on their lives later on. A truly meaningful book that is not to be missed, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Eric L. Heard currently lives in Bowling Green, Kentucky with his wife, Sonya, of 17 years and his son, McKinley. Eric is a graduate of Florida State University with a BS in Engineering. He also has a Master’s Business Administration from Indiana University and Master’s of Manufacturing Operations from Kettering University. He is an Army Brat who has lived in the Southeast United States, Germany, and Japan. Please contact me at ericlheard@hotmail.com, if you have any questions or need to contact me.

https://www.bookbub.com/books/reflections-of-an-anxious-african-american-dad-by-eric-l-heard