Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for November, 2021

Our guest today is J. Stewart Dixon, author of the irreverent self-help book, Spirituality for Badasses. Spirituality for Badasses and 21 Days blossomed out J. Stewart’s life as a spiritual seeker, finder and teacher. He teaches based on his direct experience, twenty-nine years of interaction with numerous nonduality-advaita-zen-unorthodox teachers, his ongoing education / certification in modern mindfulness and a degree in communications / engineering from Syracuse University.

He has been interviewed by Rick Archer on Buddha at the Gas Pump, was the meditation editor of the mind/body/spirit blog All Things Healing, was a board member of Sevenoaks Retreat Center (a nondenominational spiritual retreat center in Madison, VA) and is the owner/founder of a tech design -install firm called Charlottesville Audio Visual Services.

J. Stewart Dixon has been a very creative individual for most of his life. In addition to two self-published books, he has written and produced a rock musical, has two professionally produced and recorded CDs with his former band Alchemy and has dabbled in abstract art.

He lives in central Virginia with his family. When he’s not working or creating he can be found cavorting with the fish, bears, and bald eagles on the local rivers with a fly rod in his hand.

Visit his website at http://www.spiritualityforbadasses.com or connect with him on Facebook.

What made you decide to become a published author?

Spirituality for Badasses is my second book.  The first was written ten years ago.  I’ve had multiple false starts on a second book over the years.  I’d write a chapter or two and then resign it to the dust bin. Spirituality for Badasses came about after a frustrating attempt to make a more conventional version of my work fly. It didn’t fly. It flopped. So, in frustration, I said fuck it, and wrote the first few chapters of Spirituality for Badasses in one sitting. (Including the title)  I gave those chapters away for free and it immediately flew. 

Would you consider your latest book, Spirituality for Badasses, to be a one of a kind?  How so?

Well, maybe not one of a kind- but rare.  It’s a self-help adventure book where you – the reader- are actually in and a part of the book.  I speak to the reader both from the POV of book in hand and then as if the reader is with me on the adventure. 

Actually, I can make this can one-of-a-kind guarantee:  It’s the only self-help book ever written with a chapter about getting mindfully drunk off of tequila in a biker bar.

Where is your writing sanctuary?

My office computer in the basement.

What do you believe a writer should not do as far as getting his or her book published?

I’m self-published and wouldn’t have it any other way. More control. More creativity. More profits. Screw the big 5 major publishers – they only publish people who are already famous with reality TV shows and who are related to the Kardashians. Yuck.

What inspires you?

Underdog creatives hitting it big.

What is one thing you learned about your book after it was published?

It appeals to tons of people who would never have bought or read a conventional self-help book.

You’re concocting a recipe for a best selling book.  What’s the first ingredient?

The cover and title

What’s one fun fact about your book people should know?

Lenny, the iguana in the book, is in reality my muse and a metaphor for being aware and happy.  I don’t actually own an iguana.

Did any real life experiences find their way into your book?

A ton. My book wouldn’t fly without reference to my own experiences.

Aside from writing, what’s your passion?

Fly-fishing. 

What’s next for you?

I’m writing the workbook version.

Read Full Post »


Based on a true story!


Frazier, the Very Special Cat is a sweet, heart-warming story for young children! It teaches love for animals, counting, the senses, and encourages discussion and problem-solving.

Frazier is a stray blond tabby not doing very well on his own, but things get worse when he gets hurt. Fortunately, the author is able to trap him and bring him to the vet. Now, all he needs is a permanent happy home…but who will want to take a chance on a one-eyed cat? Not to despair, for a fully happy ending awaits this sweet kitty!

Frazier, the Very Special Cat is Book 3 in the Stray Cat Stories series, and it is the perfect tale to read at bedtime or discuss with an adult in a home or school environment. The rhythm and repetition make it a fun read-aloud picture book. A charming addition to any child’s cat bookshelf!

The book is available in Kindle, paperback and hardcover. Find out more and get your copy on Amazon

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Faye Rapoport DesPres is the author of the memoir-in-essays Message From a Blue Jay (Buddhapuss Ink, 2014) and the Stray Cat Stories Children’s Books Series (Writer’s Coffee Bar Press). She earned her MFA at the Solstice Creative Writing Program at Pine Manor College and has published creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry in a variety of literary journals. A life-long advocate for animals, wildlife, and the environment, Faye donates a portion of the proceeds from her children’s books to non-profit animal rescue organizations. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her husband, Jean-Paul Des Pres, and their rescued cats.

Connect with Faye on the Web:

Websitewww.fayerapoportdespres.com 

Twitter: @FayeRapoDesPres

Instagram: FayeInBoston

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100058817963789 

Follow the author on Amazon and receive updates of her new books in this series. 

Read Full Post »

Title: SPIRITUALITY FOR BADASSES
Author: J. Stewart Dixon
Publisher: PIE Publishing
Pages: 268
Genre: Nonfiction / Self-Help / Humor

Stewart Dixon, award-winning, best-selling humor and self-help author of Spirituality for Badasses has a bone to pick with conventional therapy and pharmaceutical companies concerning our collective bounce back and healing from the stress, anxiety and depression of Covid-19.

Asserts Mr. Dixon in the introduction to his book: “So you see…I really do get it. I used to be depressed, anxious, too smart for my own good, opinionated and unhappy…a real loveless, badass-hole. But now I’m just a spiritual badass.   Spirituality removed the hole. I transformed. I changed. I grew up. I learned some hard lessons. And I did all this without ever losing my cool, integrity, smarts, libido, sense of humor or soul. And that’s just what this book is going to help you do. “

Kirkus Reviews – the prestigious book review media outlet wrote this about the book: “A motivational work blazes a spiritual path for those who consider themselves too cool for such things. A jokey yet earnest and useful guide to enlightenment for badass readers.”

On a whirl-wind virtual tour of radio station and podcast interviews J. Stewart Dixon has been offering his “calm island in the middle of the hurricane” solution to eager hosts such as celebrity chef Pete Evans from Perth, Australia and sportscaster i-Heart radio-DJ Ken Broo from Cincinnati, Ohio“It’s about noticing that part of you, which hasn’t changed your whole life. If you can notice and nurture this inner badass part, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by its’ ability to heal, help and restore.”

Mr. Dixon knows first-hand about finding an inner badass, as he suffered from years of depression during his early adulthood. “I didn’t throw myself into spirituality to become a saint or a purist– I did it because I was hurting and in pain.  I did drugs and alcohol.  I tried therapy and Prozac. None of it worked.  I was dragged kicking and screaming into spirituality and mindfulness practices and what I found was that, lo’ and behold, this sh%# works.”

A common question Mr. Dixon receives is, of course – Why all the swear words and humor? “I love the title Spirituality for Badasses because it instantly disarms any preconceived notions about spirituality and renders it friendly, approachable and down-to-earth. I think many of us are burned out by absolute truths, cures and opinions right now. So– I’m simply offering an alternative non-pharmaceutical “cure” that worked for me.  As a bonus, I’ve thrown in some humor, and to keep it real, a few swear words.”

Mr. Dixon’s background as an engineer and business owner has also shaped his opinion about spirituality and mental health. “As an engineer most of my adult life, I’ve been hired to reduce complex systems into bite-sized, manageable portions.  In Spirituality for Badasses I do the same: Mental health and spirituality is, to say the least, complex. I spent decades sifting through and integrating it, and what I came up with – which I’m proud of and grateful for today- was a process that worked both for myself and the thousands of readers who are now finding their own inner badasses.”

PRAISE

“In his new book, Spirituality for Badasses, J.Stewart Dixon has written an irreverent, exuberant, free-wheeling, stream-of-consciousness saga that chronicles the spiritual journey in ways that are unique, humorous, challenging and a hell of a lot of fun.  Gone are the heavy-handed, esoteric pontifications so often included in books about “living like a spiritual warrior” and, instead, J.  focuses more on de-mystifying this eternal quest by successfully normalizing its ordinariness. So, buckle up and be prepared for a wild ride that’s readable, accessible and eminently  relatable. Two enthusiastic thumbs up! Highly recommended!”
-Chuck Hillig,  Licensed Psychotherapist, Spiritual Teacher& Author of Enlightenment for Beginners, The Way IT Is, Seeds for the Soul, Looking for God, and The Magic King 

“Spirituality for Badasses is The Way of the Peaceful Warrior for the rebels among us who are tired of sickly-sweet approaches to spirituality and have a sincere need to laugh out loud on the regular.  J. Stewart Dixon is a true original … He’s your irreverent, potty-mouthed best friend and big brother, but don’t let the humor fool you: the teachings offered here are profoundly liberating, important pointers to awakened awareness. Dixon teaches us all to en-LIGHTEN-UP with his special blend of hilarious, profound, crazy-ass wisdom.”
-Erin Reese, M.S., Spiritual Counselor & Teacher & Author of Truth Seeker: A Spiritual Journey of Love, Loss, and Liberation & The Adventures of Bindi Girl: Diving Deep Into the Heart of India 
 
“Accessible. Compulsive. Irreverent. Fun. Practical- All the while lacking nothing in richness or depth.  Take an adventure with J – a spiritual guide that comes off more Han Solo than Obi Wan Kenobi on the surface – as you journey along with the R-rated spiritual everyman with a lizard draped over his shoulders on a path that winds inside and out, through valleys and up mountains, volcanoes and earthquakes, as you make your way toward becoming more your badass true aware self.   This book is rich!”
-Zac Cannon, Pastor

Book Information

Release Date: January 21, 2021

Publisher:  PIE Publishing / Awakening Resource Center, LLC;

Soft Cover: ISBN: 978-0-9858579-9-8; 329 pages; $15.99; E-Book, $5.99

Book Website: www.spiritualityforbadasses.com

Amazon: www.amazon.com/dp/B08SMP9982


I get it. I really do.
You’re a badass.Cool, hip, down-to-earth, together, sane, practical, tough, smart, confident, fringe, alternative, creative, funny, athletic. However, you want to quantify your badass-ness.You’ve been this way your whole life, or maybe it took a couple of decades for you to cultivate it, or maybe it just kicked in yesterday at 3:09 p.m. Who knows…and who cares, right?Because something is missing.It seems that being a badass just isn’t – enough.Is it?Let me make this easy for you. I’m also a badass……except that for most of my adult life I’ve been involved with spirituality. And maybe you can relate here – this badass has always had…um, a slight issue: He doesn’t really love spirituality, being spiritual or hanging out in spiritual circles.No thank you.This badass…well, eh…he loves beer.

Amazon →  www.amazon.com/dp/B08SMP9982

Spirituality for Badasses and 21 Days blossomed out J. Stewart’s life as a spiritual seeker, finder and teacher. He teaches based on his direct experience, twenty-nine years of interaction with numerous nonduality-advaita-zen-unorthodox teachers, his ongoing education / certification in modern mindfulness and a degree in communications / engineering from Syracuse University.

He has been interviewed by Rick Archer on Buddha at the Gas Pump, was the meditation editor of the mind/body/spirit blog All Things Healing, was a board member of Sevenoaks Retreat Center (a nondenominational spiritual retreat center in Madison, VA) and is the owner/founder of a tech design -install firm called Charlottesville Audio Visual Services.

J. Stewart Dixon has been a very creative individual for most of his life. In addition to two self-published books, he has written and produced a rock musical, has two professionally produced and recorded CDs with his former band Alchemy and has dabbled in abstract art.

He lives in central Virginia with his family. When he’s not working or creating he can be found cavorting with the fish, bears, and bald eagles on the local rivers with a fly rod in his hand.

Visit his website at http://www.spiritualityforbadasses.com or connect with him on Facebook.

Sponsored By:

Read Full Post »

The authors of The Bronze Scroll are excited to announce the publication of their first book in the Knights of the Lost Temple adventure-romance series. This groundbreaking novel, co-authored by Paul Donsbach and Alia Sina, tells the story of Sam Romero, an investigative attorney who has uncovered and solved hundreds of high-profile corporate crimes and scandals. But nothing has prepared Sam for the mysteries of his latest investigation—an ancient treasure map stolen by corporate thieves, an Israeli land-permitting official murdered, and a local reporter kidnapped and held hostage by a rogue executive, Roy Griffin III. Racing against the clock to rescue the beautiful reporter, Rebecca Schreiber, Sam has only hours to prove that he can solve the mysteries of an ancient bronze scroll and find the Temple treasures hidden during a time of war.

“We want to surprise our readers with stories of making the ‘impossible’ become real,” said co-author Mr.  Donsbach.  “The world is truly ours to remake with a vision of unity, diversity, and inclusion. Through our fictional characters, we will work to show that “ordinary” people can accomplish seemingly miraculous feats through friendship, inspiration, and love. In fact, history teaches that this is the only way that positive change happens. “

Remarked co-author Alia Sina on creating their book: “While on our own separate journeys, we found ourselves working on a story that flowed with ease given each of our strengths that complimented one another in the world of fiction. We each were working on our own novel and, at the suggestion of our moderator for our writers’ workshop, we began working with each other. What was intended to simply be an “experiment/project/let’s see what happens” turned into a commitment we both developed to the characters and their story. As a fan of supernatural suspense novels, and now as an author, it never ceases to amaze me how real the characters could become. Having written my first novel with Paul, I feel the characters waiting to continue their story.”

A New-Age Journey of Discovery: For their first novel in the Knights of the Lost Temple series, co-authors Paul and Alia chose the so-called Copper Scroll (which is actually made of bronze) as a central element in the characters’ story. One of the Dead Sea Scrolls found in a desert cave in the 1950s, this artifact is a treasure map listing tons of gold and silver hidden at vaguely described locations that scholars had given up on deciphering. As a supposedly “unsolvable” mystery, the Copper Scroll would serve a symbol of the discontents of modern life, in which the great, achievable dreams seem to have already been accomplished.

There was just one problem. The Copper Scroll wasn’t unsolvable after all. As Sam and his friends work to decipher this ancient treasure map, its mysteries unravel one by one. By searching for the listed treasure descriptions in the e-book version of the ancient historian Flavius Josephus’ writings, Sam and his friends discover that most of the treasure sites involve metaphors or legends important to the leaders of the Judean provisional government at the outbreak of the Great Revolt in 66 CE. They realize that this treasure map must have been made for a peace speech before the Bronze Gate to the Jerusalem Temple in May of that year, in which one of the leaders (probably the chief high priest) urged negotiations with the Romans to end the revolt.

The high priest’s speech would have begun with treasure site 1—seventeen talents (about 900 pounds) of gold and silver hidden in the Valley of Achor. This matches the seventeen talents of gold and silver that Josephus recorded as being stolen from the Temple by the Roman governor, triggering the revolt. As the high priest would explain to his audience, the Valley of Achor was a biblical location where a thief was executed for stealing gold and silver from the Temple. Having condemned the Roman governor in this manner at the beginning of his speech, the high priest would move on to the other metaphors in the treasure sites listed on the Copper Scroll, including the 900 talents (sites 3, 56 and 58) that Josephus identified as the annual taxes paid to Rome by Judea and the other Jewish client states, and the 300 talents of gold (site 47) that Josephus described as being allocated by King David for his son Solomon’s use in building and furnishing the inner sanctuary of the Temple.

A Sacred Relic of the Exodus from Egypt: As they decipher this ancient treasure map, Sam and his friends realize that the 300 talents of gold that site 47 says were hidden underground on the west side of the Pool of Siloam match another legend of hidden Temple treasures being recorded on a bronze scroll. They learn of a legendary account in the so-called Treatise of the Vessels of a bronze scroll being made during a time of crisis, as a permanent record of King Hezekiah, or one of the other listed leaders, hiding the Ark and the gold from Solomon’s Temple in an underground cistern near the Gihon Spring (the water source adjoining the Pool of Siloam), to be revealed at the time of the Messiah, son of David.

But, the characters wonder, is this what treasure site 60 means when it says that the Book of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) is the “deciphering scroll” explaining each of the hidden treasures? After all, its famously enigmatic epilogue (chapter 12) cryptically refers to the Exodus story (almond blossoms and locusts), the Tabernacle (a silver cord and a golden pitcher), a spring and a cistern, and “every hidden thing,” to be revealed at the time of judgment. Could this be a secret biblical code recording that the lost Ark and the gold from Solomon’s Temple were hidden in a underground cistern by the Pool of Siloam near the Gihon Spring?

A Time for Peace: As the adventurous Bronze Scroll novel moves toward its surprise ending, the characters decipher more of the Copper Scroll’s metaphorical treasure descriptions (including the cursed son of King David at site 48, the Samaritans’ version of the lost Ark legend at site 57, and the bronze sacrificial altar at site 59). Using mysterious spiritual powers that he has long resisted, and the protection of a secret knighthood that he discovers, Sam must learn the scroll’s remaining mysteries before Roy makes good on his threats. He must learn the explosive truth needed to save Rebecca and, in the process, uncover the true spiritual meaning of this ancient bronze scroll.

But what could that be? Is it Kohelet’s message about a “time for peace”? Or does an ancient scroll found soon after modern Israel’s independence tell us something about the time of judgment? As the Knights of the Lost Temple series begins with this first novel, Sam and his friends start an exciting journey of discovery in search of this hidden truth.

The authors of this new adventure-romance series invite you to join them on this voyage. Currently working on the second book in the series, the authors believe that the world’s diverse spiritual traditions hold answers for our troubled times. Paul, who identifies as “spiritual but not religious,” and Alia, a “new-age Muslim” from an Afghan American family (writing under her pen name), believe that greater understanding among the world’s different faiths and beliefs is essential to solving the world’s current problems. Recognizing that even the smallest miracles—like an ancient treasure map found in a desert cave—can make a big difference, the authors welcome you to share this journey together.

For More Information:

Publication date: August 11, 2021, 291 pages; an independent publication of Knights of the Lost Temple, LLC.

E-book:     $9.99; 978-1-7373978-0-9

Paperback:          $19.99; 978-1-7373978-1-6

Hardback: $29.99; 978-1-7373978-2-3

Book website: https://www.knightsofthelosttemple.com/

Rebecca’s blog (under pen name): https://veilsofdesire.com/

Amazon Selling Page: https://amzn.to/3BcelQr

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Knights-of-the-Lost-Temple-105963305136800

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/knightsofthelosttemple/


Note from author: One of our favorite excerpts comes from page 9. The protagonist, Sam Romero, has just explained the “unsolvable” Copper Scroll to the old man sitting next to him on the flight to Rome. He told the old stranger that the scroll is an ancient treasure map that has been written off as undecipherable.  Then Sam explains that he thinks he can solve it:

“Now, here’s what I think,” Sam said, leaning toward Solomon. “It’s a story. It always is.””What do you mean?” asked the old man. “It’s like you said in your poem,” Sam said, patting the old man’s shoulder. “Gold and silver aren’t really treasures. It’s in the eye of the beholder. A treasure is something you’d die for. An idea, a person, a moment. The scent of a lover,” he went on, noticing Elena walking back up the aisle toward the galley. “Gold and silver are like chasing the wind. Or whatever your poem said. Nice to have, but you can’t take them with you. I just have to figure out the story. This scroll – copper, bronze, or whatever – has a story to tell. I just need to know how to decipher it.

Amazon →  https://amzn.to/3BcelQr

Co-author Paul Donsbach is a Texas native and a lawyer. Raised in an era when those working for social progress were rooted in religious faith, he believes that many of today’s problems likewise require a renewed commitment to spiritual ideals.

Co-author Alia Sina was born and educated in the greater San Francisco Bay area. She was raised in a first-generation, close-knit Afghan American family. Some of her formative experiences  involved her interactions with people who embrace cultural diversity, as well as those who are hostile to families from a different background.

For More Information:

Book website: https://www.knightsofthelosttemple.com/

Rebecca’s blog (under pen name): https://veilsofdesire.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Knights-of-the-Lost-Temple-105963305136800

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/knightsofthelosttemple/

Read Full Post »

It’s hard work, even when you’re writing a children’s book.

Faye Rapoport DesPres earned her MFA from the Solstice Creative Writing Program at Pine Manor College and has published creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry in a variety of literary journals. Faye’s first book, Message From a Blue Jay, is a personal essay collection published by Buddhapuss Ink in 2014. A lifelong wildlife advocate and animal lover, Faye donates a portion of the proceeds from her children’s books, the Stray Cat Stories series, to non-profit animal rescue organizations. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her husband Jean-Paul Des Pres.

Q: Congratulations on the release of your book, Frazier: The Very Special Cat. What was your inspiration for it?

A: Frazier is a real cat, as is (or was) the subject of each of my children’s books. I wanted to write his story because he is indeed a very special cat. I knew his story would both delight children and inspire compassion.

Q: When did your passion for children’s books begin? Did you have a favorite book when you were a child?

A: I began writing children’s books several years ago because I wanted to share the stories of some of the cats I’ve helped rescue. I thought the stories would both entertain children and teach them about animal rescue.

I remember reading the Beatrix Potter books when I was a child and feeling very inspired by them. I borrowed every Beatrix Potter book from our small, local library in upstate New York.

Q: Did you take any workshops or courses before you started writing?

A: I took several classes in poetry writing earlier in my life before earning my MFA in Creative Writing in 2010, focusing on creative nonfiction. I also studied and worked in journalism earlier in my career.

Q: How was your creative process like during the writing of this book and how long did it take you to complete it? Did you face any difficulties along the way?

A: This is my third children’s book, so I was prepared for the process in a way I wasn’t with the first book in the series. My process was to draft the story itself and then create my own rudimentary layout, imagining the illustrations. My editor and I then went back and forth with the text a number of times. Then, the illustrator began her work based on the text and the preliminary layout plan. The entire process from beginning to publication took a little over a year. Working as part of a team (author, editor, illustrator, publisher) has its challenges when you all live in different states and are working on different projects at the same time — never mind the life challenges everyone was facing during the pandemic.

Q: What do you find most challenging about writing for children?

A: For me, understanding how the text has to flow with the illustrations was sometimes a challenge, along with letting go of some of my own preferences for the text in order to make everything work well together and for kids. Sometimes my preference for a more “poetic” text didn’t quite work, so edits had to be made.

Q: What is your writing schedule like and how do you balance it with your other work and family time?

A: I usually write early in the mornings. That makes it easier to complete my writing work before the pressures of teaching and the rest of my life starts taking over.

Q: Tell us about your publisher and how you found it.

A: My publisher for the picture books is Writer’s Coffee Bar Press. It is a small imprint owned by the former owner of Buddhapuss Ink, the independent press out of New Jersey that published Message From a Blue Jay. Buddhapuss Ink is sadly no longer in business, but owner and publishing pro MaryChris Bradley continues with the new imprint.

Q: What was it like working with an illustrator and how much control did you have over the artwork?

A: I have known my illustrator, Laurel McKinstry Petersen, since we were in high school. She is a really talented artist, and I love her work. I had almost no control over the artwork — Laurel and the publisher handled that side of things. I did have an opportunity to look at the illustrations and make comments or suggestions, and if something was really important to me I was able to say so.

Q: Do you think that becoming an author entails sacrifices?

A: Yes, absolutely. You have to sacrifice some time and freedom if you want to dedicate time to writing on a daily basis. Some people wouldn’t consider that a sacrifice if you love writing and you’re doing what you love. However, writing isn’t easy — at least not for me. It’s hard work, even when you’re writing a children’s book.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring children’s writers? Do you know of any helpful resources you’d like to share?

A: I would advise them to learn as much about children’s books as possible — to read a lot of children’s books and talk to those who have written or published them. I know there are a lot of online resources, and some organizations can help writers.

Q:  What’s on the horizon for you?

A: I am working on a number of writing projects at the moment. I have to wait to see what comes together and works! I am also currently teaching online writing classes for children I might expand to writing workshops for adults, as I taught college writing for five years.

Connect with the author on the web:

Website: www.fayerapoportdespres.com

Twitter: @FayeRapoDesPres

Instagram: FayeInBoston

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100058817963789

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: