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Archive for January, 2018

Fix Your Diet Fix Your Diabetes

Fix Your Love of Fructose

Fixing your “sweet tooth” may help save your life. Why fructose and most refined sugars should be public health enemy number one and why you should avoid them.

Research has confirmed that consuming the various forms of refined sugars is harmful to your health. The “bitter truth” however as explained by Dr. Lustig, Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco, is that refined fructose is the deadliest from of refined sugars and should be avoided. This substance causes many medical conditions as well a metabolic damage to the body.

Fructose increases your risk for:

  • Insulin resistance, diabetes, and obesity
    • Elevated blood pressure
    • Elevated triglycerides and elevated LDL
    • Depletion of vitamins and minerals
    • Cardiovascular disease
    • Fatty liver disease, cancer, arthritis, and gout

Why is fructose bad:

  • The organ that metabolizes fructose is your liver which is a different process compared to glucose. This puts an unusually high burden on the liver leading to a fatty liver in many cases.
    • Our consumption of refined fructose is high, allowing its negative metabolic effects to occur.

Fructose from fruit is good and refined fructose is bad:

  • Fructose from fruits and vegetables is okay because it is eaten with fiber, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and beneficial phytonutrients, all which moderate any negative metabolic effects. Refined fructose eaten in high doses causes negative metabolic effects.

When did we start eating fructose and why:

  • Fructose was invented in 1966 in Japan and introduced to the American market in 1975.
    • In 1972, Richard Nixon reduced food costs as part of his “war on poverty.” After partnering with USDA he subsidized the production corn resulting in its increased production and helped increase its export around the world. When corn prices fell and a surplus developed, Earl Lauer Butz (U.S. official under Nixon) championed the spread of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Due to the low costs of fructose, manufacturers switched from sucrose (table sugar) to fructose.
    • In the mid 1970s, dietary fats were blamed for heart disease (thanks to researcher Ancel Keys as mentioned in my video: http://bit.ly/FixYourFearOfFat), resulting in a reduction of fat in our diet. Fructose was used to make fat-free products more palatable.

Why is fructose different as explained by Dr. Lustig:

  • When you eat fructose, 100 percent of the metabolic burden rests on your liver leading to a fatty liver. The liver only has to break down 20% of the glucose you consume.
    • Glucose is a more pure form of energy utilized by your cells. Fructose, however is turned into free fatty acids (FFAs), VLDL (the damaging form of cholesterol), and triglycerides, which get stored as fat. Fructose makes you FAT!
    • The fatty acids created during fructose metabolism causes fatty liver and insulin resistance. Insulin resistance leads to metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
    • Fructose metabolism results in waste products that increase blood pressure and causes gout.
    • Glucose suppresses the hunger hormone ghrelin and stimulates leptin, which suppresses your appetite. Fructose has no effect on ghrelin and interferes with your brain’s communication with leptin, resulting in overeating.

Alternatives to your sweet addition:

  • First realize that you may have a sugar addition. So stand up, look at your audience, admit you have a problem, and start your journey fixing you “sweet tooth”. It’s hard to imagine but I promise your new life will be much better.
    • If you must, use organic cane sugar or raw honey but only rarely and in moderation. They are less harmful than fructose.
    • Avoid ALL artificial sweeteners, which can damage your health even more quickly than fructose. If you must a substitute, use Stevia or Xylitol.
    • Avoid agave syrup since it is a highly processed sap that is almost all fructose.
    • Avoid soda, natural juices, energy drinks, and sports drinks because they are loaded with sugar, sodium, and chemical additives. Better options are water first followed by teas and at times coffee. Try teas with a variety of flavors. Try coffee with non sugar creamers (I like coconut cream) and use vanilla flavor, nutmeg flavor, cinnamon flavor, and others.

About the Author

Tony Hampton

Dr. Tony Hampton has been treating patients with multiple chronic conditions for nearly two decades. In addition to his role as an Advocate Medical Group (AMG) family physician over the last nine years, Dr. Hampton currently holds multiple responsibilities within the Advocate Healthcare, including Medical Director of AMG Beverly, Vice-Chair of AMG’s Governing Council, Chair of Health Outcomes Committee and Co-Chair of Executive Diversity Council.

Over the last two years, Dr. Hampton has worked closely with AOS, successfully piloting advancements in AMG’s operations management systems. He is a champion for change that results in greater work-life balance for physicians and an enhanced patient experience. His interpersonal skills, clinical knowledge, and desire for strong patient/team engagement will continue to make Tony an asset to the AOS team.

A regular speaker for the American Diabetes Association and consultant for the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Initiative to Improve Diabetes Care, Dr. Hampton is passionate about empowering patients by changing old beliefs to new ones which better serve them using evidence-based medicine. Educating them on the root cause of disease processes and the importance of diet provides the path to positive health outcomes for diabetics, borderline diabetics, and patients not at their ideal body weight.

He is a Certified Physician Executive (CPE) and earned his MBA from the University of Phoenix. Tony authored the book Fix Your Diabetes, Fix Your Diet, Your Dietary Solution to Reversing Diabetes which was published in April 2017.

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Title: ABUSE OF DISCRETION
Author: Pamela Samuels Young
Publisher: Goldman House Publishing
Pages: 352
Genre: Mystery

BOOK BLURB:
A Kid’s Curiosity … A Parent’s Nightmare

The award-winning author of “Anybody’s Daughter” is back with an addictive courtroom drama that gives readers a shocking look inside the juvenile criminal justice system.

Graylin Alexander is a model fourteen-year-old. When his adolescent curiosity gets the best of him, Graylin finds himself embroiled in a sexting scandal that threatens to ruin his life. Jenny Ungerman, the attorney hired to defend Graylin, is smart, confident and committed. She isn’t thrilled, however, when ex-prosecutor Angela Evans joins Graylin’s defense team. The two women instantly butt heads. Can they put aside their differences long enough to ensure Graylin gets justice?

Unbeknownst to Angela, her boyfriend Dre is wrestling with his own drama. Someone from his past wants him dead. For Dre, his response is simple—kill or be killed.

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Chapter 1

Graylin
“What’s the matter, Mrs. Singletary? Why do I have to go to the principal’s office?”
I’m walking side-by-side down the hallway with my second-period teacher. Students are huddled together staring and pointing at us like we’re zoo animals. When a teacher at Marcus Preparatory Academy escorts you to the principal’s office, it’s a big deal. Nothing like this has ever happened to me before. I’m a good student. I never get in trouble.
Mrs. Singletary won’t answer my questions or even look at me. I hope she knows she’s only making me more nervous.
“Mrs. Singletary, please tell me what’s wrong?”
“Just follow me. You’ll find out in a minute.”
I’m about to ask her another question when it hits me. Something happened to my mama!
My mama has been on and off drugs for as long as I can remember. I haven’t seen her in months and I don’t even know where she lives. No one does. I act like it doesn’t bother me, but it does. I’ve prayed to God a million times to get her off drugs. Even though my granny says God answers prayers, He hasn’t answered mine, so I stopped asking.
I jump in front of my teacher, forcing her to stop. “Was there a death in my family, Mrs. Singletary? Did something happen to my mama?”
“No, there wasn’t a death.”
She swerves around me and keeps going. I have to take giant steps to keep up with her.
Once we’re inside the main office, Mrs. Singletary points at a wooden chair outside Principal Keller’s office. “Have a seat and don’t move.”
She goes into the principal’s office and closes the door. My head begins to throb like somebody’s banging on it from the inside. I close my eyes and try to calm down. I didn’t do anything wrong. It’s probably just—Oh snap! The picture!
I slide down in the chair and pull my iPhone from my right pocket. My hands are trembling so bad I have to concentrate to keep from dropping it. I open the photos app and delete the last picture on my camera roll. If anyone saw that picture, I’d be screwed.
Loud voices seep through the closed door. I lean forward, straining to hear. It almost sounds like Mrs. Singletary and Principal Keller are arguing.

“It’s only an allegation. We don’t even know if it’s true.”
“I don’t care. We have to follow protocol.”
“Can’t you at least check his phone first?”
“I’m not putting myself in the middle of this mess. I’ve already made the call.”

The call? I can’t believe Principal Keller called my dad without even giving me a chance to defend myself. How’d she even find out about the picture?
The door swings open and I almost jump out of my skin. The principal crooks her finger at me. “Come in here, son.”
Trudging into her office, I sit down on a red cloth chair that’s way more comfortable than the hard one outside. My heart is beating so fast it feels like it might jump out of my chest.
The only time I’ve ever been in Principal Keller’s office was the day my dad enrolled me in school. Mrs. Singletary is standing in front of the principal’s desk with her arms folded. I hope she’s going to stay here with me, but a second later, she walks out and closes the door.
Principal Keller sits on the edge of her desk, looking down at me. “Graylin, do you have any inappropriate pictures on your cell phone?”
“Huh?” I try to keep a straight face. “No, ma’am.”
“It’s been brought to my attention that you have an inappropriate picture—a naked picture—of Kennedy Carlyle on your phone. Is that true?”
“No…uh…No, ma’am.” Thank God I deleted it!
“This is a very serious matter, young man. So, I need you to tell me the truth.”
“No, ma’am.” I shake my head so hard my cheeks vibrate. “I don’t have anything like that on my phone.”
“I pray to God you’re telling me the truth.”
I don’t want to ask this next question, but I have to know. “Um, so you called my dad?”
“Yes, I did. He’s on his way down here now.”
I hug myself and start rocking back and forth. Even though I deleted the picture, my dad is still going to kill me for having to leave work in the middle of the day.
“I also made another call.”
At first I’m confused. Then I realize Mrs. Keller must’ve called my granny too. At least she’ll keep my dad from going ballistic.
“So you called my granny?”
“No.” The principal’s cheeks puff up like she’s about to blow something away. “I called the police.”

About the Author

Pamela Samuels Young has always abided by the philosophy that you create the change you want to see. She set giant-sized goals and used her talent, tenacity and positive outlook to accomplish them. Pamela consequently achieved success in both the corporate arena and literary world simultaneously.

An author, attorney and motivational speaker, Pamela spent fifteen years as Managing Counsel for Toyota, specializing in labor and employment law. While still practicing law, Pamela began moonlighting as a mystery writer because of the absence of women and people of color depicted in the legal thrillers she read. She is now an award-winning author of multiple legal thrillers, including Anybody’s Daughter, which won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Fiction, and her new release, Abuse of Discretion, a shocking look at the juvenile justice system in the context of a troubling teen sexting case.

Prior to her legal career, spent several years as a television news writer and associate producer. She received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from USC and earned a master’s degree in broadcasting from Northwestern University and a law degree from UC Berkeley School of Law. She is a frequent speaker on the topics of teen sexting, child sex trafficking, self-empowerment and fiction writing.

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Abby Bardi is the author of three novels: Double Take, The Secret Letters, and The Book of Fred. Her short fiction has appeared in anthologies and journals, and she has written academic articles on Roma (Gypsies). She grew up on the South Side of Chicago and now lives in Ellicott City, MD, the oldest railroad town in America.

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Would you call yourself a born writer?

Yes and no. Yes: I have been writing since I was a little kid, and I kept it up because my parents thought it was cute. No: But on the other hand, I have to work really hard at writing—it’s not something that comes easily, and it seems like the more novels I write (I’ve published three so far), the harder it gets. But yes again: writing is essential to my existence.

What was your inspiration for DOUBLE TAKE?

Like my main character Rachel Cochrane, I was once (very long ago) a waitress at a restaurant that was a front for a drug and burglary ring. Much like Rachel, I was pretty naïve and didn’t realize at first what was going on, but it gradually became apparent and instead of being freaked out by it, I found it fascinating. At the time, there were a number of mysterious people who came and went at the restaurant, and for years I wondered about them—in fact, the people I grew up with have a Facebook page where we have long threads wondering whatever happened to that guy the police were looking for, or the woman who shot heroin under her tongue….I’ve always loved mysteries, and the Sixties were full of them, so in DOUBLE TAKE I went back and solved some. For the record, Rachel Cochrane is way cooler than I ever was.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

I don’t do this on purpose, but it has been pointed out to me that a common thread in my novels is an exploration of what a family is, and what it means to be a family in unusual times. I also seem to gravitate toward protagonists who are caught up in something they don’t really understand. And I love life’s mysteries; DOUBLE TAKE is a traditional mystery in that it’s about unsolved murders, but my other two novels have mysteries in them, too—or maybe I mean enigmas.

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

Oh, only about thirty years. I took some breaks.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

Yes, I am very disciplined—I have to be because my job involves reading and grading other people’s writing, so I have to find time for my own. I write every morning for about an hour before moving on to other things.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

Knowing when it was finished. I thought I’d finished it a bunch of times and then ended up going back and doing more to it.

What do you love most about being an author?

 I love the act of writing itself. Being all alone (I write in the morning when no one else is awake yet) in a world I have created. And I love talking to people about writing.

Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?

My first novel, THE BOOK OF FRED, was published by Atria, a division of Simon & Schuster, and my second (THE SECRET LETTERS) and third (DOUBLE TAKE) were with HarperCollins Australia. I was very happy with both publishers—very nice people and great editors.

Where can we find you on the web?

My website is www.abbybardi.com  and I also have a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Abby-Bardi-1057384604291418/

About the Book:

 

Set in Chicago, 1975, Double Take is the story of artsy Rachel Cochrane, who returns from college with no job and confronts the recent death of Bando, one of her best friends. When she runs into Joey, a mutual friend, their conversations take them back into their shared past and to the revelation that Bando may have been murdered. To find out who murdered him, Rachel is forced to revisit her stormy 1960s adolescence, a journey that brings her into contact with her old friends, her old self, and danger.

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Gabriel Valjan is the author of the Roma Series and The Company Files from Winter Goose Publishing as well as numerous short stories. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts, where he enjoys the local restaurants, and his two cats, Squeak and Squawk, keep him honest to the story on the screen. You can visit him at his website. He’s here today to talk about his new suspense series.
Thanks for this interview, Gabriel. Tell us about yourself.
I hide my love of dogs from my cats. English was not my first language, and I read fiction in more than one language. I was a sponsored triathlete. Cancer survivor. I weighed one pound at birth. Hearing-impaired. Ambidextrous. I went to school with Peter Dinklage.
Have you always been creative? When did you start writing fiction?
As a writer, no. I drew and painted at a young age. I read voraciously as a child, but when I did take an interest in creative writing, it was poetry. My first publication was a poem in 1989.
In this your new series, The Company Files, you move from the present Rome of your Roma Series to historical post-war Vienna. Why did you choose this particular time period?
I should state up front that I wrote The Good Man before I wrote Roma, Underground. To answer your question…History interests me. For those who don’t know, Vienna was divided into four zones, the American, the British, the French, and the Russians after World War II. Vienna would become, for a brief time, a Wild West.
It’s not the first time a city or country had been divided after a conflict. Vienna, however, bears a crucial distinction in that it became the crucible for the Cold War and the birthplace for the post-war intelligence community. Modern nation states in Europe then were designated as either friendly to US-led Western Bloc or to Soviet-led Eastern Bloc countries. There is, of course, the fun of researching the social mores of the era. Leslie in The Good Man and Bianca in The Roma Series are a half-century apart, and yet confront similar issues of survival in a man’s world.
The book is described as historical noir. For readers who aren’t familiar with this genre, can you tell us about it?
First, noir is a cinematic term. Film noir is, in my opinion, a visual display of Existentialist philosophy. The prevailing undercurrent to film noir and the crime fiction it inspired is that the Average Joe is doomed no matter what he does. He’ll make one bad decision after another, whether it’s planning a heist that goes wrong, keeping found money and unwittingly inviting the bad guys into his life, or lusting after the wrong woman. His life is a blues song. If he didn’t have bad luck, he’d have no luck at all.

Historical noir, as I use the phrase to describe The Good Man, is when characters make decisions within a certain context. The world is still morally compromised and fatalistic. The historical circumstances offer both flavour and plot device. The reader has the advantage of hindsight. November 22, 1963, for example, has only one inevitable conclusion. Genre sets the expectation, and I leave it to the reader to decide whether I abide by or violate those rules. Is there justice in the end? Does the guy get the girl?

Like in your Roma Series, you pay particular attention to team work among your characters. What draws you to this quality?
The Good Man is the result of my love for what I call the middle period of noir fiction, the 1940s. I’m not hard-boiled as Hammett’s Continental Op and Sam Spade from the 1920s, nor as violent as Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer in the 1950s. I envisioned a softer cynicism found in Raymond Chandler’s Marlowe.
In reading contemporary crime fiction, which I think harkens back to hard-boiled, I can appreciate the antihero and the protagonist who can’t catch a break, but I find most of it too nihilistic. While I don’t believe that Good always triumphs in real life, I found myself asking: Are we so cynical as to find value in the bleak and ultra-violent stories? Does it take visiting the darkest depths to feel better about our own lives?
Don’t get me wrong about violence and profanity. Mexican cartels are violent, but the Average Joe criminal is not that sadistic. My complaint is that there’s no glimmer of hope in a lot of contemporary crime fiction, unless it’s the razor blade on the sidewalk. Algren, Bukowski, and Fante wrote to show how the other half lived, but so did Upton Sinclair and Steinbeck. What is the point, if there’s nothing positive in the universe?
Writers have to compete with movies, with visual media, so why not work the vein of human relationships in close quarters? I’m not saying people can’t be flawed. The series Breaking Bad is a perfect example. People pushed to extremes are forced to work and trust each other, to some degree. In The Good Man, there is a triangle of characters who entrust their lives to each other. Jack, Walker, and Whittaker have a foundation – their shared war experiences – for trusting each other. Another triangle in the story is Leslie, Sheldon, and Tania: they have to prove themselves. There is history, camaraderie and debts, recognized and repaid.
Tell us about your protagonists and what makes them stand out.
Jack Marshall is the leader, principled but agile. Walker is the romantic, the fellow caught up in history’s current and unsure of his abilities. Whittaker is the doer, which doesn’t always require brains. Each man makes questionable decisions. Leslie is a woman with skills in an unappreciative world and she’s acutely aware of it. Sheldon is savvy, almost suicidal. Tania is precocious, another survivor, and a damaged soul.
Jack and Walker fought in the war together, depended on each other and owed each other something. In a life and death situation, would they choose friendship over duty?
Jack and Walker have a moment in The Good Man where they question Whittaker’s loyalty, but they extend the benefit of the doubt. Political pressure is hammering both men. Friendship and duty coexist and are in conflict with each other. The question is how long can they hold out. Jack and Walker choose Loyalty because of what they’ve experienced together. Few would understand it.
I found Walker and Leslie’s relationship sad. Does love have a place in their dangerous professions?
Their story continues in the sequels, The Naming Game and Diminished Fifth. My take on their relationship is that Leslie realizes times are changing and she is trying to hold onto her independence. The social mores of the day were especially hard on women. Women during the war years experienced a few years of financial freedom before the country asked them to return to the kitchen and home.
Leslie knows she has the credibility for a career in intelligence, but how much of that can she keep or maintain if she is perceived as ‘attached’ or ‘compromised’? I also believe Leslie is better grounded than Walker. He is trying to find his place in the world. I’m not sure Leslie can wait for him, or sacrifice what she has accomplished on her own. Their profession adds the complication that their lives are shrouded in secrecy and they must be ciphers to most people around them.
There are a number of intriguing secondary characters, like Sheldon and Tania. Were they difficult to write about? What challenges did you face getting into the mind of a vigilante and a 13-year-old Lolita-type character?
They weren’t difficult since I didn’t have to venture far to create them. As I mention in the Afterword, there were Jewish concentration camp survivors who were incensed that known war criminals were evading justice, so they became ‘vigilantes’ and hunted them down. Sheldon is a complex character and his “activities” are ambiguous, depending on your moral compass. The late Simon Wiesenthal hunted down former Nazis to have them arrested or exposed because so many escaped the courtrooms.
My opinion is that justice was selective and in the hands of the dominant player after World War II, the United States. There were businessmen and companies who benefitted from Nazi labor camps. Have a look at the I.G. Farben Trials, and note that none of the defendants was American, though Ford Motor Company, General Motors and IBM benefitted from their dark alliances with Hitler’s Third Reich.

The plot for The Good Man revolves around Operation Paperclip, where the U.S. collaborated with allies to shield former Nazis. The physicist Wernher von Braun is a notorious example. His work accelerated the U.S.’s space program. Reinhard Gehlen, another example, traded in his Nazi Army shoulder boards to become a Communist hunter. Eichmann’s whereabouts were not a complete mystery to U.S. intelligence, but it took the Israeli Mossad to defy both the U.S. and international laws to kidnap him from his apartment in Buenos Aires in order to bring him to Jerusalem to stand trial.

Tania was a wonderful creation. She’s flirtatious and, like most victims of sexual abuse, she acts precocious and manipulative. Her pedigree as a victim, however, runs deeper. As a Slav, she had dodged the Nazis, who would’ve worked her to death in the camps; had she presented herself as a refugee seeking asylum in Vienna, the Americans would’ve seen her as a Communist. There is also her ideological heritage: her father was a casualty of a Stalinist purge. She is a young girl without a country.
Were you thinking of Sheldon when you came up with the title?
Yes, but I think the question, “Are you a good man?” can be put to Jack, Walker, and Whittaker, too.
Post-war Vienna came alive for me in the story. Tell us about the importance of settings.
Context and circumstances are everything. I tried to develop the noirish aspect of time and place. I mentioned earlier that Vienna was a unique historical situation. Vienna was a playground for intrigues and for the Cold War, the silent world war. Whereas Berlin had a literal wall to divide antagonistic ideologies, hotels and landmarks designated the governing powers in Vienna.
With the War over, the Americans and British were now uneasy allies. Russia, an ally for the Americans, was now the new enemy. The bad guys, the Nazis with special insider information, became tentative allies. That the entire drama plays out in a German-speaking Austria was not lost on me. Austria, Hitler’s birthplace, while German speaking, is not Teutonic in the sense that it’s Protestant and its division into Bundesländer, or city-states, came after the dissolution of the Austrian-Hungarian monarchy.
In the café scenes, I tried to capture this sense of a world that had fallen away from what Stefan Zweig called The World of Yesterday. Walker is out of his depth in not knowing the German language and Austrian culture well, and both he and Jack are also caught up in the clashes of American and European, and West with East, when they encounter Sheldon and Tania. 
What appeals to you about European settings? Have you been in the places that appear in your books?
Differences in perception and outlook. Travel and living abroad have educated me. My use of settings is more than just ‘colour’ in my novels. While I have not been to Vienna, I’ve visited Austria. I’ve travelled around Great Britain (attended graduate school there), been to France, Germany, Italy, and the former Yugoslavia. I try to illustrate and incorporate cultural differences; how people interact with each other and relate to authority. In the Roma Series, I explore the unresolved North and South divide in Italy, among other sensitive issues.
I witnessed a balance between Work and Life in Europe that does not exist in America, whether it was Ferragosto in Italy, or strikes in France by all workers to protest raising student fees in France. Americans work longer and harder and our health suffers for it. If American education and healthcare were run according to the business model of rewarding performance, then there would be true reform.
I find it morally reprehensible that, for a country of such wealth and resources, the U.S. has the worst rate for maternal deaths in the Developed World, with 26 deaths per 100,000 live births. Sense of perspective: The World Health Organization tracks 180 countries and the US ranks 137 on that list for maternal deaths. Other findings are sobering and irrefutable. Will McAvoy, a character on Aaron Sorkin’s The News Room, summarized it in his answer to the question, “Can you say why America is the greatest country in the world?” You can find the clip on youtube.com
Experiencing Europe, I realized that Americans and European society are socially engineered around a different definition of ‘citizen.’ I’m not naïve: Europe is a tiered society and mobility is limited, but I think it’s disingenuous to think America doesn’t have a class society. I’m not blind to disconcerting parallels between the U.S. and Europe, such as the uncanny similarities between Berlusconi and Trump.
Americans, however, have drunk the ideological Kool-Aid and I’m afraid we are losing our standing in the world. I cited ‘citizen’ as an example, so let me provide an example of distorted logic. There were protests against Obamacare. The idea of national healthcare is still derided as ‘Socialism’ and ‘Communism.’ Protestors claimed that in other systems, a patient died waiting for care.
There is no such evidence. President Obama himself said he watched his mother worry not about the ovarian cancer that would claim her life, but rather how she would pay for healthcare. I’ll set aside the obvious ignorance that Socialism and Communism are apples and oranges, but nobody has considered the European view that healthcare is a citizen’s right, and that healthy citizens are an investment in Society.
For this book, how much and what type of research did you have to do?
With any topic that is not native to your experience, research is required; it’s a matter of ethics. I had to read history books and memoirs about the period covered in The Good Man. I cited some of them in my Afterword. With respect to people who lived during that time, those I knew are dead now. I am aware that with people I knew, the material is anecdotal and subjective, the lens of history made hazy.
The Good Man tries to show decent people in terrible situations. Mistakes were made, people fooled, and terrible compromises made. There was also a consolidation of extraordinary power in individuals such as the Dulles brothers at the CIA, and J. Edgar Hoover at the FBI. The United States would see a similar nexus of power again with the Kennedy brothers.
I do believe that the CIA was founded on the noble (and necessary) premise of national security, but the nature of spy craft and politics is such that it’s a losing proposition. When governments resort to secret agencies or programs, or leverage the methods of their former enemies Hermann Göring’s propaganda and Stasi surveillance methods are alive and well then what do we have? Enemies yesterday, friends today; and friends today, enemies tomorrow. Case in point: President Reagan continued Operation Cyclone to counter the Soviet presence in Afghanistan, funding mujahedeen leaders who would later become the founding members of the extremist al-Qaeda.
In general, what do you struggle with as an author?
Visibility. It’s a struggle because there are so many books out each month.
What is a regular day like for you? Do you set yourself a minimum amount of words or hours on a daily or weekly basis?
I write in the mornings. I find that my mind is clearer and focused then. While I understand setting goals as a form of discipline, Word Counts mean nothing to me. I don’t lack discipline. The way my imagination works is that I envision a scene and I write until it is done, whether that takes one day or several days. I see writers posting daily Word Counts, and I don’t know what to make of it. Quantity over Quality? A form of humblebrag? Jack Torrance sat every day at his typewriter and typed, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy …” and look how that turned out for him.
How do you set yourself challenges and grow as an author with each new book? For example, what lessons did you learn with your first series that you now implement in this new series?  What are you discovering about yourself as a writer while writing these new series?
I challenge myself by writing in different genres. Horror. Crime fiction. Cozy mystery. Genre gets bashed as low-brow, and not as “Literary Fiction,” which I think is nonsense. Genre is like poetry. You have to know the rules, the meter, and the expectation. Break the rules after you’ve mastered them, but learn them first and appreciate their inherent challenges. The same approach applies to reading in and out of your comfort zones. I mentioned earlier that I read foreign literature. Translators have made other writers available. Read a French ‘polar’ and ‘policier’ and observe the space dedicated to describing violence and exposition. As with any foreign culture, note workplace hierarchy and formalities.
What can readers look forward to in the sequel? When is the next book coming out?
The Naming Game delivers more of the Walker and Leslie relationship. Readers will become acquainted with the turf war between the nascent CIA and J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI during the Red Scare in Los Angeles.
What do you look forward to as an author in 2018?  
I look forward to reading more of Andrea Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano. I hope to meet readers at conferences such as Malice Domestic, and New England Crimebake. I have not made a decision about attending Bouchercon in Florida.
What else would you like to tell readers?
If you are at a conference and know that I am there, please stop me and say hello.

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View More: http://aislinnkate.pass.us/joejoseph-miniBorn and raised in Florida, M.J. Joseph maintains membership in the English Goethe Society, the Siegfried Sassoon Society and other literary associations. He is a supporter-member of the Society for the Study of Southern Literature, as well as an Associate of Lincoln Cathedral. Prior to retiring, Joseph enjoyed a lengthy and rewarding career with an industrial firm where he served as CEO and managed the company’s merger with a larger international corporation. He divides his time between Europe and his home on Florida’s northern coast. M.J. Joseph and his wife Ann have two children and reside in Florida.

Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, The Lübecker. To begin with, can you give us a brief summary of what the story is about and what compelled you to write it?   

A: Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to spend time with the Phantom! First, The Lübecker may be regarded as a work of historical fiction, set primarily in the American South, Western Europe and the Middle East between 1882 through 1915. It is structured upon individual narratives of a merchant’s son from the Hanseatic German city of Lübeck and an American doctor’s daughter and their families. While the mythos of the book is not confined to any particular age, the story utilizes the milieu’s erumpent social, religious and intellectual issues and the political dynamics roiling nineteenth-century Europe and the Near-East, finally culminating in World War I.

I was motivated to write The Lübecker as a result of my interest in the life and work of Lou Andreas-Salome, philosophical and religious considerations, my family history and the incredible variegation of conflict and changes in nineteenth-century Europe and the Ottoman Middle East.

9781614935247-JacketGray_Lubecker COVER.inddQ: What do you think makes a good novel? Could you narrow it down to the three most important elements? Is it even possible to narrow it down?

A: Frankly, I enjoy a wide range of fiction, where elements of plot, character, intellectual challenge and pace are given varying degrees of dominance, depending on the author’s preferences, ability and discernment. I do really enjoy reading novels utilizing demanding plot structures, well-developed characters and ideas.

Q: How did you go about plotting your story? Or did you discover it as you worked on the book?

A: Developing the book was challenging, as I conceived it as the first book of four to convey a story.  The Lübecker was designed to steep the reader’s imagination in the arc of the narratives, the characters and their fates, while preserving a good deal of the story’s depth for the next three books, some told from points of view of individual characters.

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist and how you developed him or her. Did you do any character interviews or sketches prior to the actual writing?

A: I approached the development of both protagonists, remember, there are two, very distinct narratives, by concentrating on the development of important, ancillary characters, especially those whose points of view will carry the story in the subsequent books. This enabled me to sketch the protagonists as responses to the developed characters and shape them as I moved them within the narratives.

Q: In the same light, how did you create your antagonist or villain? What steps did you take to make him or her realistic?

A: Nearly all the important characters, and some minor characters, were conceived to represent archetypal concepts and very basic, elemental forces. The villains were not exceptional in this and in executing some of the period’s most proscribed immoral and illegal behaviors, they were given context within the looming conflicts that would eventually inform the story.

 

Q: How did you keep your narrative exciting throughout the novel? Could you offer some practical, specific tips?

A: Because great weight was given to the development of the book’s protagonists and main ancillary characters, the story was moved along in part by carefully timing the reintroduction of the narratives, building latent elements into the story and bringing the protagonists into the same conflict.

A tip: don’t hurry.

Q: Setting is also quite important and in many cases it becomes like a character itself. What tools of the trade did you use in your writing to bring the setting to life?

A: The Lübecker moves in its action among several different settings, each reflecting the milieu and the progress of the Bildungsromane of the protagonists.

Q: Did you know the theme(s) of your novel from the start or is this something you discovered after completing the first draft? Is this theme(s) recurrent in your other work?

A: Yes, I began the project by defining the theme.

Q: Where does craft end and art begin? Do you think editing can destroy the initial creative thrust of an author?

A: Editing, at least for me, is an essential part of inspiring and nourishing creativity. The initial creative thrust provides an edifice to build a story upon, but, for me, exploiting it editorially allows the formation of more ideas and images to bring the project to fuller realization.

Q: What three things, in your opinion, make a successful novelist?

A: Three, very fundamental requirements to be a successful novelist are: an intense fascination with words and language, erudition and the ability and willingness to devote a sufficient amount of time to writing.

Q: A famous writer once wrote that being an author is like having to do homework for the rest of your life. What do you think about that?

A:  Fiction-writing, at least in my case, is fundamentally a very selfish exercise, done only to meet my own self-imposed requirements. I believe that I understand what the author means by “homework”, but I just don’t relate to the statement very well.

Q: Are there any resources, books, workshops or sites about craft that you’ve found helpful during your writing career?

A: I would urge any writer to seek-out and explore websites and periodicals offered by literary societies representing the work of authors they appreciate. Reading short-form work available in popular magazines and popular, formulaic, relatively short novels is useful to anyone seeking to improve their ability to render ideas clearly, explicate plot and develop a style. Finally, I would recommend spending time auditing literature classes at a local community college, college or university, and participating in any discussion groups that might attend the courses.

Q:  Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers about the craft of writing?

A: I really believe that everyone has a book in them, and those who wish to bring their books forward must find that the act of writing their book is sufficiently fulfilling.  The author must be prepared to accept the idea that, perhaps, their book will have value and interest only to later generations who happen to find the banker’s box into which the author proudly committed it, unpublished.

 

 

 

 

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the-good-man-by-gabriel-valjan_1Title: The Company Files: The Good Man

Author: Gabriel Valjan

Publisher: Winter Goose Publishing

Release date: December 2017

Pages: 251

Genre: suspense/espionage

Find out more on Amazon

It’s 1948, post-war Vienna. In this tale of international espionage, friends and ex-army buddies Jack Marshall and Walker are trying to gather intelligence for the Company in a time when Americans are ruthlessly trying to keep ahead of the Russians. To do so, they must sort Nazis out and question them. But a vigilante with a vendetta against former Nazis is getting to them first. Can Jack and Walker trust a vigilante killer to help them, and if yes, at what price? Add to the mix a beautiful Company analyst as well as a young Russian refugee girl who happens to be under the care of the vigilante. And at the core of it all, a rare priceless coin. As tension escalates one of them must become bait in order to unmask the traitor amongst them.

In a world of intelligence and counter-intelligence where an ally can turn into an enemy—and vice versa—at the flip of a coin, who can you trust? The Americans, the Russians, the British? Who is working for whom in this ruthless race for power?

I thoroughly enjoyed this historical noire. Valjan’s skillful and often witty prose flows elegantly through the pages. The setting is excellent and post-war Vienna comes to life during winter, especially the refugee areas with their gritty bleak streets, run-down cafes and dark cold rooms. There’s an array of interesting and well-crafted characters and the mystery accelerates at a steady pace until the very satisfying ending. In sum, I recommend this read for lovers of spy and international intrigue novels a la James Bond.

 

The Company Files: A Good Man is book one in Valjan’s new Company Files series. He also has another series of international suspense set in the present titled The Roma series. Check his Amazon author page to learn more.

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

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

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

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

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK

Q: We’d love to find out more about the publishing process. Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning? When did you come up with the idea to write your book?

A number of years ago a good friend who teaches writing at UCLA said to me, “You ought to write a memoir you have such an interesting story to tell”. I’d been thinking of it and her suggestion confirmed my impulse to write. I joined her weekly writing group and found it daunting as I listened to the other professional writers’ read their pages. After months of feeling painfully inadequate I stopped participating and wrote the rest of the book at home. Luckily my friend was very encouraging and without all those listeners I realized I was better off working on my own.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

It took many years to write, Stairway to Paradise: Growing Up Gershwin. In some way I felt I had a hand at my back that pushed me through the whole process. It was very hard work but for me there was little or no resistance. You really need to want to do it; if there is any doubt I imagine the process could be agonizing.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

Initially I self-published then I sent out the book to various agencies. The agency that took my book was also a publisher, Rare Bird Books. After our initial agreement I asked if they would publish my memoir if I helped fund the printing. They agreed and revised the whole book. They did some PR but it was not enough. They told me recently that the distributors and bookstores really like the book but no one knows about it. Few people go in asking for it. My publisher said I needed to get out and sell it to people. I have no idea how to do that. I am not good using social media and needed to find someone to help me

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

My first book, The Blue Heron Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from a Zen Retreat Center, was published by North Atlantic Books. I was disappointed with what little effort they put out to publicize it.

Q: What other books are you working on and when will they be published?

I am working on anther cookbook called, Zafu Kitchen: Recipes for Better Health.

I may self-publish again.

Q: What’s one fact about your book that would surprise people?

The memoir reveals how the values of our society cause deep discontent and is fundamentally contrary to our deepest hopes and needs.

Q: Finally, what message are you trying to get across with your book?

Fame and money are not a good formula for happiness. I grew up in a family with great fame and with plenty of money. As a young adult I distanced myself from them in search of a more wholesome life. In my journey I learned that personal integrity, authenticity and inner authority were my means to a much more satisfactory life. I was surprised to find that the most effective way to uncover these attributes was through the somatic, the internal sensations, rather than through the thinking mind.

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