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Archive for May, 2008

Norwegian waters turn to blood with the start of the annual whaling season. This year alone, Norway, Iceland and Japan plan to kill over 2,500 whales with cruel, primitive methods that go back to over a century.

Why is this ugly tradition still alive when 1 in 4 Norwegians under 30 are against it, and when so many people are aware of the high intelligence of these mammals and their ability to experience pain and suffering?

In this e-mail interview, Sharanya Prasad, marine mammal program officer, World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) USA, talks about the origins of whaling, the methods the whalers use to kill the whales, what people can do to stop it, and the importance of educating the public, among other things.

First of all, for those readers who aren’t familiar with Norway’s whaling season, could you give us a bit of background on how this practice began?

I would like to begin by thanking you for giving me this opportunity to discuss whaling and the associated welfare issues with you.

Whaling refers to the hunting of whales for their meat and other products. Whaling dates back to the 9th century when the first large-scale whaling took place. By the end of the 19th century many countries had invested in this industry and developed major whaling industries. Today Japan, Iceland and Norway collectively kill over 2,500 whales annually, using methods that have not changed in over a century.

Why kill whales? What are they used for?

The development of modern whaling techniques was spurred in the 19th century by the increase in demand for whale oil, whale bone and baleen. Over time some species were hunted to the brink of extinction and it became apparent that sustainable whaling could not continue on such a large scale. Thus in 1986 the International Whaling Commission (IWC) adopted a worldwide ban on commercial whaling.

Whale oil has long been replaced by fossil fuels, and whalebone corsets are not considered fashionable anymore, thus modern whaling primarily has commercial value as a food source (whale meat). Countries that continue to whale have repeatedly announced their long-term intention of continuing whaling and resuming commercial trade in whale meat and products.

Despite the 1986 worldwide ban on commercial whaling, loopholes in the treaty still allow Japan, Iceland, and Norway to hunt whales. The three types of whaling conducted today are commercial whaling, aboriginal subsistence whaling, and so-called research whaling. Iceland and Norway both hunt commercially under an objection to the ban, allowing them to award themselves quotas outside the of the IWC’s recommendations. Japan hunts under the guise of conducting scientific research. The US, Greenland, Russia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines conduct aboriginal subsistence whaling. Whaling also occurs outside the IWC’s control by countries not party to the treaty such as Canada and Indonesia.

How are whales hunted down and killed?

The methods employed to kill whales have not changed in over a century and were originally developed by Norwegian whalers in the late 1800s. The weapon used is the penthrite grenade harpoon which is fired from a canon mounted on the bow of a ship. The harpoon is intended to penetrate into the whale before detonation and kill the animal through injury to the brain and spinal cord. The grenade creates a large, painful wound, which triples in size when the harpoon’s barbs hook into the whale’s body.

Despite the power of the explosive harpoon, a second penthrite harpoon or a rifle is often required as a secondary killing method used on whales who do not die instantaneously. The common use of secondary killing methods reflects the inefficiency of the primary killing methods.

Given the constantly moving environment in which whales live and are hunted and the sheer size and body mass of whales, it is impossible to guarantee instantaneous death for a whale being hunted at sea. If the weather, sea conditions or the motion of the vessel do not allow for a properly aimed shot, then there is a significant risk of a poorly placed harpoon or bullet causing an extended time to death and associated suffering.

How long does a whale take to die?

It has long been established that whales are intelligent, sentient individuals who are capable of experiencing pain and suffering. Data from the Norwegian Government itself reveals that 1 in 5 whales suffer long and painful deaths, some taking an hour or more to die after being hit with explosive harpoons. During this time, whales can suffer terribly. Whales’ bodies’ are adapted for diving and going without oxygen intake for long periods in water. This may mean that whales are able to experience pain over a period significantly longer than suggested by the current IWC criteria for determining death in whales.

What is WSPA’s position on whaling?

WSPA believes that there is no humane way to kill a whale at sea. This is due to the high number of uncontrollable factors (such as visibility, sea conditions, movement of the boat, distance, speed and gunner accuracy) which make a single guaranteed lethal shot almost impossible. A whale can almost never be killed in this way without it first enduring prolonged suffering. On these grounds alone, WSPA believes all whaling should be stopped.

WSPA also believes that responsible and sustainable whale watching which is now a multi-billion dollar segment of the eco-travel industry should be pursued as an economically viable and animal-friendly alternative to killing whales.

Are dolphins killed as well?

In addition to the large whales, tens of thousands of small whales, dolphins and porpoises, collectively known as small cetaceans, are killed annually in hunting activities not regulated by the IWC. Some of the species hunted include pilot whales, pygmy killer whales and bottlenose, stripped and spinner dolphins. Some examples of these annual hunts include the dolphin drive hunts in Japan and the pilot whale hunts in the Faroe Islands. Furthermore, some whaling is conducted in Grenada, Dominica and St. Lucia.

I understand the plan is to kill 1,052 whales in 2008. That’s a pretty specific number. What is the reason and who comes up with this number?

Since Norway is not bound by the whaling ban, their government’s fisheries department has come up with a quota of 1052 whales in 2008. I cannot speak to how they came up with this particular number.

We all know that dolphins and whales are mammals just like us, and that this quality sets them apart from their other sea companions. In terms of their intelligence and family life, would it be fair to say that harpooning a whale with explosives is like harpooning a domestic dog in the same way ?

Cetaceans are extremely intelligent, social and sentient wild animals who are capable of experiencing pain and suffering. One of the analogies used to describe the harpooning of a whale is attributed to Dr. Harry D. Lillie (1947) who spent a season as ship’s physician aboard an Antarctic whaling ship. Dr Lillie said “If we can imagine a horse having two or three explosive spears stuck into its stomach and being made to pull a butcher’s truck through the streets of London while it pours blood in the gutter, we shall have an idea of the present method of killing. The gunners themselves admit that if whales could scream the industry would stop, for nobody would be able to stand it.”

Why does Norway’s hunt continue despite the fact that Norway is a member of the International Whaling Commission and that 1 out of 4 Norwegians under 30 do not support the whaling in their country?

As I mentioned earlier, despite the 1986 worldwide ban on commercial whaling, loopholes in the treaty still allow Japan, Iceland, and Norway to hunt whales. Norway hunts commercially under an objection to the ban, which allows them to award themselves quotas outside the of the IWC’s recommendations. As for why they continue to hunt despite the lack of support among young Norwegians, this would be a wonderful question for a representative of the Norwegian government and if you or any of your readers gets an answer from them please let WSPA know.

What can Norwegians who are against this practice do to help stop it?

Norwegians can participate in petitions and events organized by WSPA’s member society the Norwegian Society for the Protection of Animals (Dyrebeskyttelsen Norge). To find out how you can support WSPA’s work around the world please visit http://www.wspa-usa.org/pages/8_ways_to_help.cfm.
What can non-Norwegian people do to help?

WSPA urges all readers to tell their government that it is time to refocus on whales. You can help WSPA remind the world that the argument should not be about kill quotas, but protecting whales from suffering by signing the petition at www.endwhaling.org.

Why do you think there still is so much indifference in the world when it comes to animal suffering?

In my opinion, awareness of animal welfare issues, sensitivity to the needs of animals, and the understanding that they are capable of and do experience pain and suffering determine the sensitivity of people to animal suffering. Educating people about animal welfare is crucial to animals, people and the environment. WSPA understands that real change in animal welfare does not come unless you can change hearts and minds of people, and therefore education is a central part of all our programs.

What can parents and schools do in order to instill human compassion toward animals to our children?

WSPA promotes humane education programs in schools to encourage respect for animals and responsible stewardship. We provide training on the humane treatment and care of animals and strive to put in place the laws and enforcement structures to provide legal protection for animals. WSPA’s aim is to develop compassion, a sense of justice and to teach others to respect animals and we have plenty of resources for educators to help them achieve this goal. If any of your readers are interested in learning how they can help instill these values in their communities they should contact us at wspa@wspausa.org. You can also learn more about our programs by visiting our website at www.wspa-usa.org.

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Dan Ronco's latest novel is a suspenseful techno-thriller filled with adventure, romance and greed. A former successful engineer and businessman, he used his knowledge and experience to craft Unholy Domain, a story that delves into controversial, provocative themes like the ethics of genetic engineering, the question of what limit to put on technology, and the reconciling of religion and science. The novel also focuses on the relationship between a father and a son. With issues of such magnitude, Unholy Domain promises to be a thrilling, entertaining read. Ronco was kind enough to give me a few minutes of his time to answer my questions.

Thanks for being here today. Why don’t you begin by telling us a little about yourself?

Born into a tough neighborhood in Newark, New Jersey, I learned powerful lessons about family, friendship and violence. My escape was fiction, and I spent many hours reading in the local library. Nurturing a passion for technology, I went on to gain a BS in Chemical Engineering from NJIT. Not enough challenge. Always fascinated by new technologies, I was awarded a full fellowship at Columbia University and gained a MS in Nuclear Engineering. Although I designed submarine nuclear reactors for three years, I discovered I enjoyed software development more than reactor design, so I changed career direction and achieved a second MS; this one in Computer Science from RPI.

Fascinated by virtually all areas of software development, my expertise grew to include coding, design, project management, quality improvement and finally, general management. My niche was software consulting and my team assisted many large corporations and governmental organizations. Always looking for the latest challenge, I built and managed several consulting practices. I'm especially proud of two accomplishments – assisting AT&T greatly improve the quality of the first commercial UNIX release and helping Microsoft to create a world class consulting organization. Positions held during my consulting years included Senior Principal with an international accounting/consulting firm, President, Software Technology Management Inc. and General Manager with Microsoft.

When did you decide you wanted to become an author?

Eight years ago I decided to leave consulting and concentrate on a long held desire to write fiction. A successful engineer and businessman, I had the breadth of experience to understand and synthesize rapidly evolving strands of technology. It became clear that fundamental change would turn our society upside down within the next few decades. Humans will have to adapt rapidly to gain the advantages of these changing social and technological innovations. Indeed, we will have to adapt rapidly just to survive.

I scoped out a trilogy of novels to expose three oncoming challenges; computer viruses enhanced with artificial intelligence (set in 2012), the oncoming clash between religion and technology concerning what it means to be human (2022), and the beginnings of the integration of human and artificial intelligence into a network entity (2032). Each novel is written as a thriller – packed with adventure, sex, greed and romance – as well as realistic science and technology. The three leading characters – Dianne Morgan, a female mega-billionaire obsessed with power; Ray Brown, her onetime lover and a brilliant software architect; and David Brown, Ray’s genetically gifted son – are fascinating and all too human.

PEACEMAKER, my first novel, was released in August, 2004 with outstanding feedback by critics, authors, and most importantly, by customers. My next novel, UNHOLY DOMAIN, was released April 2, 2008 by Kunati Books, with an excellent response. The final novel of the trilogy, tentatively entitled TOMORROW’S CHILDREN, should be released next year.

Tell us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write such a story.

UNHOLY DOMAIN delivers all the excitement of a great thriller while also delving into provocative themes: the bioethics of genetic engineering, the question of what limit (if any) should be placed on technology, the problem of reconciling faith in God and respect for his creation with the technological promises of artificial intelligence, and the age-old issue of family ties and the loyalty of a son to his father. How could anyone not be inspired by issues of such magnitude?

UNHOLY DOMAIN features David Brown, a brilliant but troubled young man raised in the dark shadow of his long-dead father, a software genius who unleashed a computer virus that murdered more than a million innocents. When David receives a decade-old email that indicates his father may have been framed, he plunges into a gut-wrenching race with the real killers to discover the truth about his father … and himself. As David tracks through his father's startling history, he stumbles into a war between the Domain, a secret society of technologists, and the Army of God, a murderous cult with a sacred mission to curtail the spread of technology and roll civilization back to a simpler era. Hunted by killers from both organizations, David unravels his father’s secrets, comes to terms with his own life, and then falls in love with a woman from his father’s past.

Did your book require a lot of research?

My novels are set in the near future, so it’s my responsibility to bring the reader into a world that is realistic, compelling and consistent with existing trends in science and culture. My stories exist at the point advanced technologies threaten our institutions, beliefs and even our survival.

As a result, I read constantly in subjects such as artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, robotics and other advanced technologies. I have a passion for technology, so reading isn’t a chore, it’s a gift. I am equally fascinated by human values and culture, such as economics, politics and religion. Searching for stress points, I attempt to project current technologies and trends two or three decades into the future. UNHOLY DOMAIN, for example, explores the potential for conflict between religious fundamentalists and scientists on the leading edge of artificial intelligence.

What is your opinion about critique groups? What words of advice would you offer a novice writer who is joining one? Do you think the wrong critique group can ‘crush’ a fledgling writer?

I have been in a critique group for seven years, and it has been a positive experience. The five of us meet once a week and we each read our most recent compositions, usually about ten pages. Each reviewer provides feedback describing good and bad aspects of the writing. We offer advice with the intent of helping the author; nobody shows off. The author considers the feedback and decides what, if anything, should be modified.

Actually it’s more than just a critique group. Our coach and group leader begins each session with a twenty minute discussion of a writing topic. While the coach leads the discussion, we all participate. I’d have to say we are many things: a critique group, a workshop, and a gathering of friends.

The secret of our success is compatibility and talent. We keep the group small and invite an occasional new member only if she gets along well with the existing members. It is also important that her writing skills are at a reasonably good level. Bringing a novice into the group wouldn’t be fair to anyone.

How was your experience in looking for a publisher? What words of advice would you offer those novice authors who are in search of one?

One of the biggest mistakes I made with PEACEMAKER, my first novel, was to not check out the publisher thoroughly. When he called me, I was thrilled, and it seemed that everything was working out. Wrong. The publisher was a nice guy, he was very enthusiastic about my novel and we seemed to hit it off. However, he had a couple of problems: he had been in business less than a year and really didn't know much about book marketing; and he was underfunded, so he couldn't hire talented, experienced professionals. As a result, his business went underwater and all his authors were left scrambling. That's why I had to become the publisher for PeaceMaker, which consumed a great deal of my time.

So the lesson is to not become dreamy-eyed when a publisher offers to pick up your book. Treat it like making an investment. Check out the size, experience, financial resources, number of employees, references from other authors, bookstores that carry his works, etc. Better to walk away than sign up with someone who doesn't have a good track record. I checked out Kunati carefully, and they have been an excellent publisher for UNHOLY DOMAIN.

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?

Yes, please stop by www.danronco.com to say hello, read an excerpt of UNHOLY DOMAIN, read my blog or view the incredible trailer for the book. And there’s much more: the complete PEACEMAKER novel, cool videos, book reviews and articles by guest authors. If you enjoy science fiction or technology thrillers, this is a great place to visit.

Thanks for stopping by! It was a pleasure to have you here!

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Award winning freelancer Andrew Jalbert has been a professional archaeologist and scuba instructor for over 15 years. During that time, he has worked throughout the Great Lakes region, the Caribbean, Central America, Southern Africa, the Florida keys, and Hawaii. His written and photographic work focuses on tropical subjects-both above and below the water-and he is a regular contributor to scuba diving, natural history, fitness, and travel magazines. Andrew recently published his first work of fiction, West Across the Board, an historical novel set in the Florida Keys during the 1930s. Currently based out of Madison, Wisconsin, Andrew is vice president of Strata Morph Geoexploration, Inc., a firm specializing in geo-archaeological research and consulting.

Visit his website at Jalbert Productions.

The Book…

Based in the colorful Florida Keys, West Across the Board is an historical novel that ties together the eventful era of the 1930s with the turn of the following century. Click for reviews, a more detailed description of the story, or a list of discussion questions for your book club. Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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Welcome to the fourth day of the Women, Words and Wisdom Blog Tour!

The winner of Lara’s $10 Starbucks gift card is SHELL!!!!!!!

Initially I was planning on posting a short story titled, “Killing the Writer’s Block: A Story,” but then I changed my mind. While it has to do with writing and women’s wisdom, I think it’s propably too ‘kinky’ for this blog tour (sorry about that!) So instead I’m going to post an excerpt from my chick-lit novel, Sunstruck, coming next spring from Zumaya Publications. The novel takes place in hot and steamy San Juan, Puerto Rico.

At the bottom of the excerpt I’ve put a question. Send me the answer to mgcalvani@hotmail.com for a chance to win an ebook copy of one of my books, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing, Dark Lullaby, or Embraced by the Shadows (your choice!)

Good luck and I hope you enjoy the excerpt!

Excerpt:

When Daniella steps out of the shower she finds Tony throwing a big spoon of Quick into a glass of milk. He begins to stir the milk desperately, as if he can’t wait to drink it.

“How’s the painting going?” Daniella says. She’s wrapped in a bright green towel and her long damp hair smells of apples-and-cinnamon shampoo.

Tony glances at Daniella. “You smell like apple pie,” he says. He tilts his head back and noisily gulps the chocolate milk like a barbarian.

It’s Wednesday night and even though both windows are open, the air feels hot and muggy inside the apartment.

Commando is sitting on the windowsill, staring down at the passersby on the street with a disdainful expression on his face. He seems to be thinking, “I used to be sacred, you simple ordinary mortals. Three thousand years ago people used to pay me tribute at the Temple of Bubastes. Those were the days of glory! I used to be revered and adored and adorned with precious stones and mummified and buried with kings.”

Commando throws Daniella a quick, resentful look. Ever since Daniella gave him that rubber mouse, two weeks ago, Commando has been acting funny. Daniella believes she hurt his feelings when she gave him that rubber mouse. Commando had looked at it with an incredulous, insulted look on his face. Daniella had clearly read the indignation in his eyes: “What do you think I am? Stupid? You think I can’t tell the difference between a real and a synthetic mouse?” But Daniella hadn’t wanted to hurt his feelings. She had just wanted him to have a rubber mouse.

“I don’t know,” Tony says, putting the empty glass in the sink and going back to his surrealist painting, propped up on a worn wooden easel in the middle of his incredibly messy work area. From where Daniella stands his work area is so messy it’s almost frightening—a sharp contrast to the rest of the studio, which she keeps spotless and reeking of Lysol. Daniella suspects this dual, surreal state of her apartment symbolizes her life.

Tony squints into the canvas. He grabs the palette and brush from the table and once again submerges himself in his work.

“What do you think?” he whispers, not caring in the least for an answer. He’s wearing nothing but white jockey shorts and white socks. Dear God, he’s so hairy. An alien humanoid or a werewolf making art.

Fifi Santos is going to exhibit Tony’s paintings this weekend. That’s why Tony has been working frantically during the nights for the past few weeks. He’s also been edgy and annoying. Okay, so an art exhibit can bring a lot of stress and pressure into your life, but that doesn’t mean you have to act like a Neanderthal.

Daniella herself has been working on an important project for her design class. She’s designing a huge modern shopping center, nine stories high, with inner gardens and water fountains and a big roller-skating rink There’s even a skyscraping tower built in the center of it, with a gambling casino, a bar, and restaurant at the top. The walls of the tower are made of glass so that people can see the view as they go up inside the elevator, but outside, the entire structure is painted in a Day-Glo pink-and-black checkerboard pattern.

“An ambitious task, no doubt,” her professor had said.

Daniella had scowled at him. It’s a disadvantage to be in a class were there are only four females and more than thirty males If you’re of normal intelligence, they condescend and patronize you like you’re some sort of pet who dared to dream too high. But if you prove you have above-average brains, it’s even worse. You become a sociological curiosity. She’s still trying to figure out in what category she’s in.

Daniella’s stomach is making strange persistent noises. She opens the refrigerator and studies the possibilities. A half-eaten bag of nacho chips, a jar of mustard, a small bowl with some kind of unrecognizable, stale moldy food in it, two cans of Budweiser, a box of Cocoa Crispies, a plate of hummous Tony made yesterday. She would like to eat the hummous but there’s no pita bread and she can’t eat hummous without pita bread.

“There’s nothing here,” she says, not surprised.

She reaches for the box of Cocoa Crispies, but when she pops a handful into her mouth she notices they’re not crispy anymore. She’s supposed to meet Mari Carmen and some friends from the university at El Patio de Sam at eight-thirty. She’ll have to stop at the supermarket on her way back. There’s one in El Condado that’s open till midnight.

Trying to forget about her hunger, she takes her underwear out of the freezer and starts getting dressed (she got the idea from a Marilyn Monroe film—an ingenious way to fight the heat!) She’ll eat something out.

She glances at Tony and frowns. She can’t help feeling a twinge of envy. She wishes she could concentrate on her studies as much as he concentrates on his paintings. When he paints, the world stops rotating. Right now he isn’t even aware she’s in the room. Yes, she has to give him credit for that. He’s hardworking. All day long struggling with Los Chinitos, all night long struggling with surrealist nightmares. He even runs an hour every morning before going to work. If it weren’t for the drugs, he’d be a saint.

“I’ll stop at the supermarket on my way back. Do you want anything special?” she says when she’s ready to leave, her hand clasped around the doorknob.

After what seems like an eternity, Tony grunts, “Huh?”

“I asked you if you want anything special. I’m going to buy some stuff on the way back.”
He looks up at her. Suddenly he seems surprised, as if she’s an apparition from the lower world. “Where are you going?”

“I can’t believe this. I told you three times. You were not listening to me.”

Tony tries to run a hand through his hair, but his hair is so tangled the attempt is unsuccessful. “I was listening to you.”

Daniella folds her arms across her chest. “All right. Where am I going?”

Tony grins. He doesn’t have an idea where she’s going. He puts the palette and brush back on the table—he’s back on planet earth. He says, “Okay, okay. You win. I wasn’t listening to you. I know I’m an ass. Now can you tell me where you’re going dressed like that?”

“What do you mean?” She’s wearing a jade-green mini dress and high-heeled black pumps, her brandy-carrot hair falling like a long satin cape down her back.

“I mean where are you going dressed like that? Don’t you know that wearing clothes like that at night can be damn dangerous? We’re not in Disneyland. Don’t you read the papers? Are you trying to get yourself raped and killed or what?”

He looks like he’s getting angry, which in a way pleases Daniella because it shows that he cares for her, but in another way mortifies her because it shows that he’s deeply influenced by the chauvinist pigs of Latin America.

“There’s nothing wrong with what I’m wearing,” Daniella protests. “How come all of the sudden you’re so interested in what I’m wearing or where I’m going? Five minutes ago you were hardly aware of my existence.”

Tony sighs. “Are you going to tell me where you’re going or not?”

Commando seems to realize there’s more action going on inside the room than out on the street. He jumps down from the window sill and leaps up on the bed, settling himself on one of the pillows. Apparently elated with this new turn of events, his odd-colored eyes shift from Tony to Daniella, from Tony to Daniella. He yawns.

“I’m going to El Patio de Sam,” Daniella snaps. “Mari Carmen is waiting for me.”

“Mari Carmen can go to hell. What’s wrong with you? Don’t you read the papers? There’s some nut loose slashing women’s asses.” He rummages around the room for the newspaper, but his efforts prove futile. “Damn it! You can’t find anything in this damn place.”

Daniella wants to tell him that if he can’t find anything it’s because of his continuous messiness, but instead she keeps her mouth shut.

“This damn place is filled with cat hairs. No wonder I feel so worn down all the time. I’m inhaling and eating cat hairs. And that cat is Turkish. Do you know what caused the bubonic plague in Europe?” He puts his hands on his hips and stares at Daniella, demanding an answer.

Daniella stares back at him, perplexed. What does the bubonic plague have to do with what they’re talking?

He answers his own question triumphantly. “Turkish rats! That’s what caused the bubonic plague. Turkish rats!” He finally collapses on the bed and starts rubbing his forehead.

Daniella shakes her head. “You look ridiculous, talking about Turkish rats in your underwear. And when was the last time you shaved, anyway? You look like a terrorist. I’m going. I’ll see you later.”

“Wait!” Tony says, suddenly seeing the newspaper tucked under the pillow where Commando is sitting. “It’s here, I found it.” He tries to reach for it, but Commando gives him an icy, threatening hiss, forcing Tony to pull back his hand.

“I can’t believe this is happening. And he’s sitting on my pillow. How did I end up sharing my pillow with a psychotic cat? I’m going to have that paper, you son of a bitch,” Tony says. He snatches the newspaper from under the pillow just in time to see one furious paw with five sharp claws coming at him. “Shit! I’m going to kill you, you son of a bitch!”

Commando swiftly jumps down from the bed and Tony starts swatting him about the room.

“Stop it! Are you crazy?” Daniella says, blocking Tony’s way in order to protect Commando.

“Look at my hand! It’s the hundredth time that cat scratches me! I’m going to kill him!”

“If you do something to that cat, I’m the one who’s going to kill you. Look at yourself. You’re acting hysterical.” She examines his hand. “It’s nothing, Tony. Just a little scratch. Do you want some orange juice? I’ll bring you some juice. And I hate it when you talk like that. You know I can’t stand foul language.”

“I don’t want any orange juice. Bring me a beer.”

“Juice would be a lot better.”

“I said I want a beer, Mother Theresa.”

Daniella scowls.

Tony snickers. He can feel the small wound on his hand stinging, throbbing. He can see it clearly, the ferocious battle going on inside his body. Thousands of microbes and other single-cell organisms rushing into his bloodstream and shouting “divide and conquer!” and some of his cells, the brave ones, attacking the nasty intruders, the others running away like cowards. Human beings are so defenceless. No fangs. No claws. No fur. Only a squashy, flabby, slimy, disgusting-to-look-at mass of grey cells floating inside their heads. Good for what? Thinking about sex and nuclear weapons.
Daniella hands him the beer and in less than fifteen seconds Tony drains the whole can.

“This is the reward I get for trying to protect you—being attack by a deranged cat that probably has rabies.”

“You know he doesn’t have rabies.”

“You should see the way he acts when you’re not here. I’m telling you, he only pretends to be good in your presence. When I’m alone he takes pleasure in hiding and darting out to attack my leg when I walk by. The animal is diabolically possessed, I tell you! Or at least brain-damaged.”

“Will you listen to yourself?” She raises her eyebrows. “You were really trying to protect me?”

“Look at this.” He shows her the newspaper.

Daniella reads the headlines: ZORRO STRIKES AGAIN!

“This is the third time in three weeks and the victims were all wearing mini skirts at the time of the attack. The stitches they put on the third victim—a rich lady who was out from a health club on her way to her car—got infected and she’s suing the whole damn hospital. They say she won’t be able to sit for months and she’ll be permanently scarred for life. I don’t want any lunatic slashing your—”

“Stop whining!”

“On top of that, young girls seem to be disappearing everywhere and no one knows why. This island is degenerating into hell itself.”

“Since when are you so concerned about other people? No one’s going to do anything to me.” She tosses the newspaper back on the bed. “Really, Tony. I can’t let an article in the newspaper tell me how to dress. I like mini skirts. In most parts of the world women wear mini skirts and live to see their grandchildren.” She starts toward the door. “I’m going to El Patio de Sam and I’ll have a nice time with my friend and then I’ll stop at the market. If you’re always so worn down is because of malnutrition, not because of any cat hairs.”

“Mari Carmen is radical. I can’t imagine what you two talk about. You have nothing in common.”

“Just like you and I, Tony darling?” she asks sweetly.

Tony sighs. “Don’t go.”

I turn around. There he is, standing in his underwear in the middle of the room with his arms extended toward me, a pleading, puppy-like look in his eyes. I should ignore him, teach him a lesson and walk out the door. But I just linger here. And then he takes advantage of my momentary confusion and slowly begins to approach me, like a cat stalking a bird. With one hand he pulls me toward him and with the other he curls a lock of my hair around his finger. He rubs his cheek against mine and I feel the scratchy stiffness of his beard and smell the musky scent of his flesh. I must be in a trance because I feel as though I’m not here. I mean, I’m here but I’m not here.

“Don’t go,” Tony whispers.

“Why should I stay here? So that you can go back to your painting and ignore me?”

“I won’t ignore you, I promise. And the painting is almost finished. After I’m done with it we’ll cuddle up in bed and watch TV. There’s a horror movie tonight.”

“Even if I don’t meet Mari Carmen, I still have to get some food. We don’t have anything to eat.”
“Okay, go and get some wine and beer and when you get back we’ll have a little party. What do you say?”

“We need some food, Tony.” Daniella peers into his eyes, uneasy. Lately Tony never wants to eat solid food and has manipulated her again with his luring, animal charms.

“Whatever you say, little fox. Bring some Ben & Jerry’s, cookie dough.”

When Daniella comes back from the supermarket she finds Tony sprawled on the bed and Commando stretched out on top of his stomach, placidly licking his paws.

Tony props himself up on his elbows. His pupils are fixed and dilated and strangely glittery. He looks comatose.

Daniella stands by the door, paralyzed, each arm holding a bag of groceries. The stereo is playing Metallica and on the TV an old woman is stabbing a man in the chest with a pair of knitting needles.
Tony smiles and raises an arm towards her. He’s offering her something. She can’t see what it is but she knows what it is.

“Would you like a one-way ticket to hell?” he says.

QUESTION: Why doesn’t Tony want Daniella to wear mini skirts?

Send the answer to mgcalvani@hotmail.com. The winner will be announced on Caridad Pineiro’s blog tomorrow!

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The Women, Words and Wisdom Blog Tour starts today, May 19th! Visit the authors' blogs for a different story each day. Each author will be offering prizes (books, goodies, gift certificates) to people who leave a comment.

Here's the line up:

May 19 – Mary C. (http://marycastillo.blogspot.com/)
May 20 – Barb Ferrer (http://fashionista-35.livejournal.com/)
May 21 – Lara (http://www.lararios.blogspot.com/)
May 22 – Mayra (http://www.thedarkphantom.wordpress.com/)
May 23 – Cari (www.caridad.com/blog)
May 24 – Jamie (http://jamiemartinezwood.blogspot.com/)
May 25 – Berta (http://bertaplatas.blogspot.com/)
May 26 – Tracy (www.tracymontoya.blogspot.com)
May 27 – Kathy (http://thecraftychica.blogspot.com/)
May 28 – Misa (http://chasingheroes.com/)

Happy reading and good luck!

Best,

Mayra Calvani (my story will be posted here on Thursday, May 22nd)

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It’s a Dog Life, but It’s Your Carpet
By Justine A. Lee, DVM
Three River Press
ISBN: 978-0-307-38300-6
Copyright 2008

Author website.

This latest book by author and veterinarian Justine A. Lee is a must for dog owners and dog lovers alike. The book answers many fascinating questions seldom answered in regular dog books.

Have you ever wondered if a Chihuahua and a Great Dane can mate? Are dogs ever gay? What are the top ten dog toxins? Can you teach an old dog new tricks? Is table food really bad you’re your dog? Why does your dog lick his private parts? Why do dogs like to sniff butts? Is it okay to let your dog sleep on your bed? Why do dogs chase their tails? Do dogs dream? Why do dogs lift their legs when they pee? And many, many others.

The book is written in a highly informative, yet witty, humorous style. Some of the author’s remarks are downright hilarious, making this book a pleasure to read. You get the feeling that it’s your veterinarian best friend who’s offering you advice. This would make a great gift for any canine lover, or one you’ll definitely want to add to your shelf if you own a dog. For feline lovers, the author also has a similar book written specifically about cats.

*My review of this book first appeared on Armchair Interviews.

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When did you decide you wanted to become an author? Do you have another job besides writing?
I started writing books around the year 2000. My first novel, Corporate Porn, was published in 2005 through Silverthought Press. During the day I work in the corporate world of New York City.

Tell us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write it.

Emotionless Souls is a short story collection of twenty tales. Stories of pick pockets, aspiring adult movie stars, and co-workers suspected of stealing cocaine make up this collection of transgression fiction. Despite each story standing on their own, all relate in that you find characters in dark places finding redemption in the most unconventional of ways.

How would you describe your creative process while writing this book? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline?

Regardless of the length of story I write a high level outline. For whatever reason I need an ending, even though I rarely go with my initial thought of an ending. Once I have my “crutches” in place I am usually able to flow through the writing of the story, rarely looking back at my initial notes.

From the moment you conceived the idea for the story, to the published book, how long did it take?

Approximately five months. It just happened that I had all of the stories ready to go and Brown Paper Publishing was looking for a specific collection that just so happened to be Emotionless Souls.

Are you a disciplined writer?

Yes, in that when I’m writing a novel or story I continue to work until finished, binging if you will. No, I may take notes for months and until I’m ready to start a novel I will not write one sentence, only notes.

How was your experience in looking for a publisher? What words of advice would you offer those novice authors who are in search of one?

Initially it was difficult. For my first novel, Corporate Porn I had to deal with a lot of rejection from agents and publishers until finally finding a great match in Silverthought Press. As far as advice: Keep writing and be persistent, I am proof this works.

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?
http://www.davidsgrant.com

Do you have another book on the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects?

Bleach|Blackout, my rock and drug fueled double novel is now available through Offense Mechanism, an imprint of Silverthought Press. Bleach details the character Jeremy returning home to the Midwest for the holidays, reliving past New Year’s Eve parties, leading up to the mother of all parties. Blackout, the sequel takes the reader two years after Bleach. The crew is in Las Vegas for an incredible bachelor party and wake up with the worst possible hangover: A police officer standing over them with guns drawn.

Thanks for stopping by! It was a pleasure to have you here!

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The Author…

Michaela Riley grew up in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia in a town that borders the Ohio River and is surrounded by beautiful rolling hills.

As a child Riley would spend most of her time reading every book she could carry home from the school library. She admits, “Being a writer was a fairytale for someone else’s life. Then I found a story that needed to be told.”

Riley left West Virginia to join the Army in 1981 and quickly realized that the quiet life of West Virginia was very different than the screaming platoon sergeant. She decided early in her military career that she would go to college and that law was her first career choice.

During her college years and after completion of her active duty tour during the Gulf War, she supported herself in a variety of healthcare positions. She plans on retiring from the Army Reserves this year and smiles as she says, “It was the best job and career I have ever had. I love my country.”

Nearly twenty six years later Riley has completed a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing and a Master of Business Administration degree. She has been practicing as a Registered Nurse for almost twenty years and is the CEO of her own Professional Development Company.

Riley began to pursue writing when she had the misfortune of spending time in a local court room. Research revealed increasing rates of plea bargaining and malicious prosecution. “I have always been an advocate for people in need. When your right to speak for yourself is prevented, something has to be done. The story must be told, everyone has a story. Writing has become something I am passionate about and I am working on two other fiction novels.”

Riley lives near the Eastern Shore of Virginia. She has a son and a Labrador retriever. When not writing, Michaela gardens, cooks, and enjoys the outdoors with her family. Her favorite pastime is spent reading, going to movies or walking on the beach.

The Book…

What if everything in your life was changed because you opened a mysterious package?

Jennifer Campbell is a beautiful, talented woman with ambition and drive to succeed in corporate America. Moving to Virginia into the tightly knit community of Norfolk was a dream come true. A house on the beach, family and security for the first time in many years providing the comfort and serenity Jennifer had searched for.

All is well, until the fateful day Jennifer received a telephone call. “Jennifer, go someplace and hide; don’t trust anyone. You can’t trust the police or internal affairs. Just go somewhere you can’t be found. I’ll call you in a few hours.”

To watch the book trailer, and learned more about the book, visit the author’s Homepage.

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Interview by Penny Sansevieri

Each year we get a lot of questions about Book Expo (BEA). Authors and publishers are wondering if they should go, how they will benefit from it and most importantly, how best to maximize BEA. This year I decided to ask AME’s Publishing Consultant, Jerry D. Simmons for his take on BEA. Having spent countless hours at this event, I thought he would be a perfect candidate to share some valuable insight on this big publishing event!

1) For those who are reading this who don’t know what BEA is, can you explain what it is?

Book Expo America is the annual showcase for the largest publishers in the world. It’s a place where companies rent booth space to display their goods and services. The convention hall includes publishers and related businesses, both large and small, which offer products and services to industry professionals directly or indirectly related to the industry.

2) Someone reading this might wonder, why would I attend BEA? Do you think it benefits anyone in publishing to go to an event like this and if so, why?

If you’ve never attended, it is fun to attend at least once just to get a feel for what the bigger world of publishing is all about. Depending on your particular situation either as an author or business person, it is the one place where all related companies gather to display their offerings so if you want to see what the industry is all about and how you or your business might fit, it’s worth the visit. Book Expo can be as much or as little as you want out of it, but if you derive your revenue from books, publishing, or anything related, you should attend at least once.

3) Can you explain the setup of BEA? It seems that the big 6 New York publishers are always taking center stage of this event, is that true? Is it a case of “whoever can throw the most money at this event gets the biggest booth?” Or is BEA generally a primary focus of corporate publishing?

BEA is focused around the six big publishers, no doubt, without them the BEA would hold little relevance to the general public. As it stands today, the media is interested simply because of the celebrity authors and future bestsellers that are on display. Each of these big companies may spend well in excess of $1 million on this show so it is a big deal for them and they spend a lot of time in New York preparing.

Booth placement is key for this show and the sponsors do the best they can to make everyone happy. Size of the booth is indicative of how much money the sponsors are receiving from the big publishers. Having attended more than 20, I would have to say that the BEA as it now stands is as much representative of corporate publishing as anything else.

4) So, let’s say I’m a small publisher looking for more exposure for my books. How would I strategize BEA to my best advantage?

For small publishers BEA becomes a necessity to attract the kind of attention it takes to build your business and sell books. If you are small and do not attend, then industry wide you are not seen as a “player” in the publishing business. The best way to strategize if you are a small publisher is to make sure your booth reflects who you are or who you want to be as a publisher. You have to promote your company to the industry, such as agents, authors, and other publishers. It’s important for you to put forth the perception that you publish quality product and are serious about your own development as a company. The BEA is the place where you have an opportunity to capture the attention of the bigger players regardless of their area of expertise. This is especially true if your books rarely get reviewed in the traditional media and if you are not based in Manhattan.

5) As a small publisher, what’s my best plan of attack? How should I prepare for this event?

The first thing you have to do is make sure you have developed an image you want to portray to the industry. If your focus is quality fiction then you need to have large images of your covers, with free and review copies available, and complete marketing plans, including promotion, publicity and advertising. You have to mimic what the big publishers are doing which gives the impression you can compete even if you are on a smaller scale.

6) I’m a vendor looking to acquire more business. Let’s say I’m a publicist or marketing person – why would I want to go to this event and how could it benefit me?

The first thing I would do is walk the halls and get the lay of the land, in other words, determine where the big publishers are located and what all the other booths are about. It’s one thing to read the BEA catalog or read Publishers Weekly for the convention layout, it’s quite another to walk the hall to see for yourself what each of these businesses are all about. The employees of all the big companies constantly walk the halls looking at their competition, and not just the big publisher booths, but the entire hall.

As a vendor trying to acquire more business, I’d gather as much free information in the form of handouts as you can possible carry, including catalogs from everyone. I would also gather as many business cards as you can and shake hands and speak with as many people as you can meet. Then at night in your hotel pour over all of this information looking for opportunities. I’d pick up as much competitive information as possible and then use this information in acquiring more business.

7) As an author, how could BEA impact my career? How could BEA help me?

Depending on where you are in your writing career attending a BEA for the first time should open your eyes to the possibilities. The books you see from the biggest publishers could easily have been written by you, it’s all about understanding the market, positioning your manuscript, having knowledge of what the big guys are looking for, how they purchase rights to publish books, and then knowing how to market yourself as an author. As you walk the hall you will get a sense of just how big the industry, how serious you need to approach your writing, and how extremely important it is to know how the business operates. The authors of the books you see in the catalogs of the big publishers are no more talented than you, but they know something about the business and how to market themselves and their writing. If you’re serious about a career as a writer, you can learn what you need to know to be successful by keeping your eyes open and developing your plan.

8) As someone who’s attended many of these events, what are some insider tips you can share about event networking and attracting new business at an event of this magnitude?

The idea that you can walk into any booth and make a cold call on an editor, publisher or any business and accomplish something is the easiest way to be seen as an amateur. When that happens, no one will take you seriously. The BEA is not the place to try and transact business; it’s the place to meet people that will hopefully allow you to transact business in the future. The only way for anything to get accomplished at BEA is to have established some contact prior to the show and then set an appointment to meet during the show. That is the only way. Dropping in on people and sticking your hand out with a business card is the quickest way to ruin what reputation you might have established.

9) Many people say that “deals are made at Book Expo” but is that true, are there deals made on the event floor?

The biggest deals the largest publishers make is international rights transactions. I can’t say that deals are never done on the floor, but if there are, then BEA is the end point, not the beginning. Discussions are held that lead to business being conducted, but rarely do agents and authors, service and product vendors initiate contact at BEA that result in business being conducted at that moment. The atmosphere is more festive and most executives hate to have serious discussions on the floor. BEA is the place for introductions, exchanging of information, but not serious business.

10) As a service provider, publisher, or author – what are some things to look for in book placement, catalog placement, or promotional pieces that might clue me into new trends, or vendors one might want to connect with.

First of all depending on the product or service you provide, you need to scope out the competition. Who else is offering the same and how are they presenting themselves to the public? This is very important. If you are looking for opportunities from publishers’ catalogs, look for books that are similar to ones you have worked on in the past. Particularly check out the marketing of these titles and make a mental note on those which you have something to offer that is new and exciting for the publisher.

If you are a small publisher again, take note of the competition. Publishing is about perception; compare your presentation to your competitive publishers. Does your catalog compare? What about your marketing plans? Prices? Page counts? What are they doing differently? The goal is to figure out how to compete effectively.

As an author, there are tons of free and review copies available on the floor of the big publishers at all times, these are the titles they are heavily promoting. Pick them up and read them, this is what is selling today, compare the story, not the writing and pay attention to what publishers are doing to promote their books. Regardless of how you publish, there are plenty of marketing ideas floating around, right in front of your eyes, pay attention because chances are you can take those ideas back home and use them.

11) What type of information gathering do you recommend someone does prior to the event? What’s the best way to prepare for Book Expo?

Remember, the BEA is not the place to transact business; it’s the place to meet people who you can eventually do business with. It’s okay to have a plan of how you want to tour the hall, especially if your time is limited. But the best preparation is hunting and gathering as I’ve discussed before. The BEA has plenty of information to share, take advantage of the free offering in one location, and it happens only once per year.

The best way to prepare for a BEA is REST! Attending a BEA can be exhausting, go in with your eyes open and don’t let the show overwhelm you. It can be daunting to walk in and see all the huge displays and walk away feeling like you’re lost. This is the place to see what’s going on in the world of publishing. I tell my clients that the bookstore is their laboratory, where they can find out what’s being published and how books are being marketed. If the bookstore is your lab, the BEA is the PhD program for students of the business. There is a lot to learn and much you can gather at a BEA.

As a final note, let me share with you what the independent bookstores around the country are looking for when they attend BEA. There are searching for non-book product that is compatible with their store and shows promise of selling. They are not looking for books. Yes of course they drop by the big publishers’ booths and visit but they rarely make appointments. If they do, they typically are promoting their stores to the publicity department asking for more author events. For those book professionals BEA is not all about the books, but the industry as a whole.

Jerry D. Simmons is a Publishing Consultant with 25 years experience with corporate publishing. He’s worked on such bestselling titles as: Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Scarlett, Bridges of Madison County and thousands of others. Jerry consults with publishers seeking to expand their line, increase their revenue, or maximize their sales potential. He consults with authors on marketing and publishing possibilities and, together with Author Marketing Experts, Inc. has recently launched a book management service that will guide authors step-by-step through the publishing process. Jerry will be teaching a series of free teleclasses: Successful Publishing is More Than Just Publishing the Right Books. FMI on this call and planned dates, please email us at: info@amarketingexpert.com. Jerry can be reached via email at jerry@writersreaders.com.

You can get more information on heading to BEA by visiting their web site at: http://www.bookexpoamerica.com/. It’s being held in Los Angeles this year: May 30, 31 and ends on June 1.

Reprinted from “The Book Marketing Expert newsletter,” a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques. http://www.amarketingexpert.com

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Melissa Zollo is an imagist, speaker, self-motivation specialist, and author of various cd audio programs: Discover the Power of Imagination, The Art of Intentional Creation, and How to Unleash the Power With and Attract Money. In this interview, she talks about why people often lock their minds to success and the common reasons why this happens. She also talks about her programs and techniques. 

I'm intrigued by your website's statement, "Unlocking Minds to Create New Realities". How do we unlock our minds and why do they become locked in the first place?

The entire Universe lives in our deeper mind but many of us are just beginning to realize who we are and what we are capable of creating. Our lives are shaped and influenced by the quality of our thoughts and mental images yet many suffer from the impairment of the imaginative process. They are imprisoned in thought patterns and unwanted habits that they learned or acquired. "Unlocking Minds to Create New Realities" refers to discovering the process of manifestation and the unfailing laws that determine our failure or success in life. The greatest treasure in life is locked within the depths of our consciousness. The Treasure House I am speaking of exists in the realm of ideas. To free ourselves from anything that blocks our path to wealth, happiness, success and health demands that we take charge of our thoughts and control our thinking.

In order to eradicate a negative message that was programmed into our minds, we must have a desire for something greater, look within ourselves and take action by re-programming ourselves until we build a new belief. Once we know how to harness the power of our imagination, we can learn how to free ourselves from limiting habits and attract the fulfillment of our dreams. Your mental images, thoughts and feelings are controlling your destiny so it is vital to take complete control over mental blueprints and emotional moods. Once we know how to bring the incredible power of our conscious and sub-conscious mind under our direction and how to formulate the mental equivalent of our dreams and goals we become master of destiny rather than a victim of circumstances and the past.

We were unconscious or unaware of the Power of the Mental over the Physical. At an early age, each one of us was impressed by suggestions from others. Since we did not have the tools or the awareness to protect ourselves from the endless stream of negative messages, we accepted many ideas that hindered our growth and imprisoned our potential to create, laugh, enjoy, and live a full, rich and rewarding life. But that was then and this is now. Now we each have the power to examine the origin of our beliefs and see if they play a significant part in bringing about health, happiness, success and peace of mind. We can accept or reject suggestions. Negative suggestions from the media, organizations, newspapers, and other people will no longer hold you captive and have power over you unless you accept the suggestion.

What are some of the most common factors that may stop a person from achieving his or her goals?

Lack of self-belief, fear, the inability to activate their latent powers and lack of awareness of the Life-Principle may stop a person from realizing his or her goals.

To believe something as true means we accept it.

Belief is the most common factor that stops a person from realizing his or her goals. Think of all the false ideas you have accepted about yourself and you will see how you built your prison and sentenced yourself to failure, lack and limitation.

Why do we accept ideas like:

"I'll never be financially secure. I can’t make ends meet"

“I am not smart enough and I don’t have the right connections.”

"I'll always be fat and anyway I am just not good enough."

"They said there’s no cure."

"I'm not smart enough. I feel like a loser .I am sure it will fail."

"I’m to old no one is going to want to hire me."

Many of us fortify these negative messages with our self-talk and daily conversations and we don’t even know we're doing it. Yet we reject new messages of approval, hope, acceptance and love because they don’t fit our error patterns and negative self-image. Did you know that your ability to attract the fulfillment of your dreams becomes possible when you have a strong belief in yourself and feel capable of achieving your dream regardless of appearances?

One negative message/ belief can paralyze a person. Once fear is in control it can keep you from taking action and moving forward in any area of your life. When we have beliefs fueled from love, courage, confidence, hope, and gratefulness we have opened the doors of life to a greater awareness and possibility. Courage rises above fear.

It is important for all of us to think about that for a second.

How 'powerful' is the power of imagination?

Before anything can be created by anyone it must first be imaged, pictured/imagined. What you imagine you become and what you feel you attract so I would say that imagination is extremely underestimated and very powerful. The person of imagination sees what their outer senses deny. Everything you see in the physical world is a projection of someone’s mental image and blueprint. All things are brought forth through the creative use of imagination.

Who is the target audience for your program?

Every person who has a desire to fulfill their dreams, and advance spiritually, mentally, emotionally, financially, professionally, socially and personally. My work is for the person who wants to learn how to retrain their imagination, apply spiritual laws and live in tune with the Living Spirit and achieve their goals.
Tell us a bit about your audio program, "Power of Imagination", as well as your various other works in ebook and CD forms.

In Discover The Power Of Imagination, I give you the tools you need to help you unlock the secrets of success in whatever endeavor you choose. The fulfillment of dreams is not the right of a select few. It is your birthright, too. Once you have this program, you will discover how to make that right a reality. 

Program One: This lecture gives you an in depth understanding of the creative process and how to IMAGE FIRST, the first step to attract all that you desire (and less of what you don’t want).

Program Two: This lecture is filled with examples of imaging; how to anchor an image and how imagination animates beliefs. It holds the secret to how financial, personal, professional and emotional security can be realized in a practical, imaginative, and non-competitive manner. I lay out the process by which you will improve your financial, personal, and professional life.

Program Three: SUNRISE contains timeless wisdom for directing the Power Within and feeling good fast! Change your Mental Images and Blueprints; Change Your Life! This program gets you to Activate Your Imagination and create successful money, health, career, and relationship blueprints and emotionalize them. You will open your own doors to whatever you may want to be, do, or have. Build confidence. Enhance relationships, overcome bad habits. Use it every day until you understand that the conditions of your life reflect your habitual thinking and that all things come from the subconscious.

Program Four: With ALOHA you treat your body and mind to deep relaxation. Experience the Power of Breath for healing, and vitality. Reach for Aloha when you need to retreat from the outer world and stress of the day.

Program Five: SWEET DREAMS is perfect to use before, during, and or after surgery. Unburden your mind as you glide peacefully into sleep. Perfect for those challenged with a health crisis.

Program Six: SERENITY AND VICTORY FOCUS RENEW, revitalize and refocus your mind in just 15 minutes.

Program Seven: This CD-Rom provides you with the option of printing out, or viewing, the entire transcript of the Power of Imagination program (Discs 1 and 2) on your computer. It also includes an instructional guide. 

In How to Unleash the Power Within and Attract Money, you will discover how to turn ideas into money, wealth and riches and live the life you imagined for yourself and your family.

· Create a consciousness of wealth

· Build your foundation for financial success from the inside out

· Learn the secrets of focusing your thoughts on what you want

· Replace negative self-talk and change inharmonious mental habits

· Learn why your feelings are worth a fortune

· Take charge of your financial beliefs

· Become master of your life as you work with the most powerful force in the universe!

· Increase your income as you learn how to magnetize yourself to wealth

· Learn how your mind creates everything.

· Discover that you are the dreamer and dream maker of your life

In Melissa’s Secrets on the Law of Vibration, I explain this very important law and how to Dream Your Life into Being. It will show you why your feelings are worth a fortune.

Daily Appetizers to Make Life a Feast (ebooks) contain a hundred nuggets of inspirational tips to uplift and support you throughout your day. Each thought for the day breathes life into the application of Universal Principles as well as gives you a taste of subjects on Spirit, the Law of Identical Harvest, prosperity, and the creating power of thoughts, feelings and words.

What type of techniques do you use when working one to one with a client?

Every session is different. Should someone want or need personal one-on-one assistance I share whatever is needed for them to attract what they want in my consultations. I personally walk you through each step of the Discover the Power of Imagination process. The goal is that they impress their subconscious mind and get answers that enable them to lead a full rich, happy life. Many people who are consulting with me or using my audio programs have moved forward in their lives. They have activated their imagination and conquered limiting beliefs. This in turn enabled them to attract the fulfillment of dreams.

Some have started a new business. Others are attracting vibrant health, new found happiness, better relationships, and increased sales. Then there are those who are healing from traumatic memories, divorce or even better, they are experiencing love!
Take a second and check out their success stories. They followed a proven system based on my Power of Imagination CD program and Universal Laws. It works. Day after day, year after year this process will work for you if you understand, practice and apply it. In fact, once you learn how to create and use this process consciously – it will keep working for you. Did I say it was magic? No, I did not. It takes practice, persistence and perseverance and the right tools.

I understand you're available as a guest speaker. What can a person expect to learn from one of your seminars?

Anyone interested in contacting me for a speaking engagement can reach me at www.presentmemory.com or through the New Voice Speakers Bureau.

Anyone who attends one of my seminars can expect to learn how to discipline, control and direct their imagination, the force behind all creativity and find their way to prosperity, joy and peace of mind. They will learn what the Law of Attraction means, how it and all of the Spiritual Laws govern the manifestation of our dreams; how to increase creative awareness and create the life you dream of; how thoughts creates results; how to wipe out a poverty, failure, mental slum; how to focus and concentrate on answers and discover new ways to problem solve. I show you how to provide the subconscious mind with a new blueprint for success, wealth, and health and help people make positive changes in their inner state of consciousness and emotional point of attraction and I provides tools (audio programs) to apply everything that they learn. This enables an individual to move forward and emerge successfully from any crisis.

You also have a newsletter, the Imaginal Dynamic Newsletter. Is it free? How may one subscribe and what type of information does it offer readers?

The Imaginal Dynamic is free and intended for those who are in pursuit of knowledge, uplifting ideas and who want to live in the present moment. Each newsletter is designed to offer Spiritual Nutrition for the Mind. It offers readers tips on how to turn their life around and how to become a magnet to success with my 'Million Dollar' Tips. You may sign up at www.presentmemory.com and receive a free MP3 radio interview with me.

Are there any other special books or authors you would recommend to people who are interested in this topic?

My own book will be out soon, so stayed tuned!

Do you have a website where people may find out more about you and your work?
Yes, my website is www.presentmemory.com.  

Anything else you'd like to tell our readers?

May you put all of the challenges of your life into perspective and use them to go deeper and deeper into your true nature. May you find refuge on your spiritual journey and grow and advance beyond ignorance and suffering. May you harness the power of imagination and always remember, it takes patience, persistence, and practice to IMAGE FIRST and rebuild new beliefs until they fit into a new pattern of acceptance and love. May you always use the power of your subconscious mind to find true happiness, wealth, success and fulfillment.

Dare to create the life you want. Imagination is power and your feelings are worth a fortune. Take up the challenge. Begin now to rule your mind and you will rule your world. When love, confidence, hope, gratitude and joy fuel your mental images and memory, life responds. In ways you know not of, doors that were closed will open and your self imposed solitary confinement will end. Then, you will find yourself the wonderful person you always dreamed of being.

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