Friday, June 21, 2019

Hi everyone,

Stopping by to let you know that I am taking another small break from the blog. It has been fun to be back to posting, but I just don't have the same capacity with school and work full time. I hope to make it back, but for now I pushing PAUSE.

Thanks for understanding! 

Happy Reading!

Book Promo: Under Currents

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Summary from Amazon:
For both Zane and Darby, their small town roots hold a terrible secret. Now, decades later, they've come together to build a new life. But will the past set them free or pull them under?

Zane Bigelow grew up in a beautiful, perfectly kept house in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Strangers and even Zane’s own aunt across the lake see his parents as a successful surgeon and his stylish wife, making appearances at their children’s ballet recitals and baseball games. Only Zane and his sister know the truth, until one brutal night finally reveals cracks in the facade, and Zane escapes for college without a thought of looking back...
Years later, Zane returns to his hometown determined to reconnect with the place and people that mean so much to him, despite the painful memories. As he resumes life in the colorful town, he meets a gifted landscape artist named Darby, who is on the run from ghosts of her own.
Together they will have to teach each other what it means to face the past, and stand up for the ones they love.

Disclaimer: I was awarded this book from the publisher. Though I did not pay for the book or have a chance to review, it looks interesting! Hope you check it out.


Happy Reading!

Excerpt from The Shaman's Guide to the Power of Animals

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Hi Everyone! I am excited to be here to bring you an excerpt from Lori Morrison's book, The Shaman's Guide to the Power of Animals.


The Shaman's Guide to Power Animals
by Lori Morrison

Excerpted from The Shaman’s Guide to Power Animals. Published by Four Jaguars Press. Copyright © by Lori Morrison. https://lorimorrison.com

It was a rainy day in the Pacific Northwest. I lifted my five-year-old body into my father’s delivery van. Our cargo was buttermilk pancake mix, maple syrup, bacon, potatoes, carrots, and canned goods. We were heading to my family’s logging camp on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State in the early 1960s. The road narrowed after we got to the Quinault Indian Reservation. Because over one hundred inches of rain fall there each year, the fir trees towered above us like a cathedral as we drove between them. Moss hung like lace from their branches. My father slowed the vehicle to allow a family of Elk to cross the road.

This trip is my first memory of being out in the woods far away from the bustle of civilization. Although dedicated to logging, my father’s heart was so grateful for the forests that he was always proud of his efforts to ensure they were replenished after clearing the land. Many of the trees he planted on the Olympic Peninsula are mature and thriving fifty years later. His heart walked a tightrope between human development and preservation, a complicated balancing act in those early years of logging.

Continuing down the logging road with its rain-cut crevices, we soon arrived at the camp. Young and old loggers smiled as we pulled up to the makeshift kitchen ready to provide them the ingredients for their next meals. My father jumped out the driver’s side and called for some help to unload the van. After greeting us, the cooks checked items off the list of things they had ordered by radio a couple days before. Invited to sit down to a lumberjack breakfast, seven plate-size pancakes appeared on the table in front of me. I did my best to dig into them, but my stomach was swiftly overwhelmed. For his part, my father chowed down heartily. We’d been driving for several hours.

After breakfast my father took me by the hand and we walked along the banks of the Quinault River, me more successfully than him, as my weight was perfect to prevent me from sinking deeply into the clay and mud of the shoreline. Arriving at the edge, I was awestruck. Thousands of bright coral Salmon were in the water flip-flopping and struggling to make their way upstream to their spawning grounds. My father pointed upstream to a community of Bear engaged in a feeding frenzy. They had no interest in us as their focus was on the mass migration of Fish that was taking place.

This was the first moment in which I realized that something greater and wiser than me existed beyond the walls of my colorful nursery full of stuffed animals. There was a natural power ready to be discovered out in the world.

On the way back home, we bounced down the same dirt road and this time we saw a Duckling that was alone on the side of the road. I remember my mind wondering if this fluffy creature was a sign from nature intended for us. My father stopped the van and got out and, after much searching for Duck’s mother, realized it had been abandoned. He picked up the tiny Duck, put it in an empty carton and handed it to me. I felt so blessed by this gift from the forest as I held the box with the Duckling on my lap all the way home.

During my childhood I often spent time in nature alone. In those days, a young girl could venture about the bustling logging town of Aberdeen, Washington, on Grays Harbor in safety. Our neighbor had a large Koi pond where I would sit for hours watching pairs of Dragonfly dart about as several Koi peeked out from under the lotuses. Frogs would sit waiting for the next insect to land on their lily pads. The pond was a microcosmic world of its own, the world of the water spirits.

Life changed as I grew older. My connection to nature diminished as I embraced a more materialistic view of the world. Other than an occasional zoo visit, or a Sunday evening spent watching Wild Kingdom on television, the animal world was a distant thought or interest.

Moving to El Salvador in my late twenties changed that, as I became the keeper of eighty acres of land on the slopes of a dormant volcanic crater that held Lake Ilopango. I was handed my first machete and bought myself a good pair of sturdy boots, and with my civil engineer husband, Tino, started to open a road through the peninsula that we owned. Months of adventure ensued as we darted to avoid Snake, peeked at Panther and Fox, helped Armadillos make their way, discovered an audience of Iguanas watching us from the trees, and enjoyed the curiosity of a multitude of tropical birds. In the late afternoon, Vultures would prepare for the hunt and Opossums would climb up the
palm trees for the night. Agoutis would feed on the tender vegetation and Duck, Egret, Kingfisher, Owl, and other creatures abounded on and around the lake.

Every night, Tino and I would drive our boat to a cliff where trees hung over the water to see the arrival of hundreds of birds who would sleep in its branches overnight. I was steeped in the circle of life; the animal kingdom was my neighborhood. Our dedication to the protection of this property evolved into maintaining a private sanctuary for many animals that were brought to us after being rescued from being offered for sale as pets in the central market.

Our love of wildlife took us on many other adventures. We traveled to Yellowstone National Park in the United States—another volcano! —and had thrilling experiences there with Bear and Buffalo. In Alaska, we flew by helicopter to the top of glaciers and spent time with Brown Bears that we discovered on Dog sleds as we ventured into the snowy banks near Juneau. We watched Whales in Prince Rupert Sound and enjoyed Seals floating on chunks of ice. More travels took us to Antarctica where we saw pods of Killer Whale and Leopard Seal, and I spent a day sitting on the beach in the Falkland Islands with a colony of Penguin.

Shortly after that, my husband and I took a trip that truly captivated me and deepened, even more, my perception of the animal world. We went to Africa. With local trackers for our guides, we went off the beaten path to find a male Leopard. Giraffe galloped alongside our jeep and Rhinoceros and Water Buffalo often stood only a few feet away. One day I sat for hours watching a female Leopard and her two cubs playing in the sunshine. During an outdoor lunch, my meal was stolen by a Baboon.

The moment that was most profound was when seven Lionesses joined us, moving stealthily alongside our open jeep as we moved along slowly. I could have reached out and touched them, although that would not have been a good idea. As the Lions were in stalking mode, I sat insanely still. Suddenly a Lioness took off perpendicularly to us, while the others stopped in front of the jeep and waited. Moments later, a herd of Gazelle came running in front of us, right into the trap that had
been set. One Gazelle couldn’t escape the ambush and became the victim of a feeding frenzy that I reluctantly watched. When finished, the seven Lionesses all lifted their bloody faces from the carcass and walked off.

Our next stop was Botswana, where I enjoyed watching Elephant swimming across the river from us with their trunks like snorkels peeking out of the surface of the water. Staying in a tent, a Hippopotamus decided to sleep next to us all evening, which made for a very nervous slumber party. We floated in a boat on the Okavango River for hours, watching the arrival of Zebra and observing how the massive Alligator in the river protected their babies, which would swim happily by our craft. The morning we arrived in Johannesburg for the return flight home, I got teary about leaving. I had just had three weeks of a major hakuna matata (no problems) moment and I would never be the same again. That trip was the ultimate immersion into another world, and I had the realization that there was so much more to the animal kingdom than I understood with my relative oblivion to the natural
world beyond my garden walls.

I took home with me from Africa to El Salvador the sacred wisdom that when something dies it gives a new life to another and that, from the smallest insect to the largest mammal, each of us is participating in the balance of nature. We are all connected. The animals understood this, while we humans are the least aware of our role in this dynamic existence. The insight that everything is connected including the minerals, trees, and plants shook my human foundation. My ego shrunk,
becoming small and insignificant. This was the first of many steps toward a spiritual awakening.

After a major shamanic initiation by ancestral spirits in 2010, I was able to see, hear, and experience animal spirits. At my home on the edge of Lake Ilopango my ordinary reality and perceptions cracked open and the spirits of four Jaguar became my teachers through a challenging shamanic initiation. After that, a Haitian shaman performed a power animal ceremony with me and blew a Lion spirit into my heart chakra, which, to this day, is my constant companion. This spiritual event was the accumulation of a journey into the Lower World, the place where the spirits of animals reside.

My experience with Lion has been more than remarkable. Its guidance and teachings have been beyond what any shaman or earthly being could have ever taught me. Lion is constantly teaching; I never leave her school. We have learned to merge, and I have come to accept her powers so that I may help people heal. This partnership continues to amaze me. Lion’s eyes are like x-rays into the body of the sick. Lion’s powerful spine supports me to take on negative energy, chewing it up and spitting it out of me and those who seek our healing powers. Lion completely wipes away fear, as if with the flip of a switch. I am never alone. Our relationship is one of great honor and respect for both of us. Lion has learned my hardiness and my weaknesses and uses everything she finds to our advantage.

At times, I have called in other animal spirits to help me, such as Condor to give me a wider view of the world, Snake to transform energy, Beetle to fine tune my psychic powers, and numerous Birds that continue to arrive with messages from the deceased for their loved ones. I have had Hawk land on branches above my head, Fox appear after leaving a drumming circle, and Deer peer into my office window during a healing session. The spirit world is alive and well through the generosity and concern that the animals show for us as humans, even if we do not yet see our role in the natural order as they see theirs. By opening our hearts to Power Animals, we will come to know ourselves
and our place in the dynamic circle of life.

About the Author:

Lori Morrison is the author of The Shaman's Guide to Power Animals. She is a best-selling author, inspirationalist and mystic. She is part of a rare breed of lightning shamans who have received a spontaneous awakening of shamanic knowledge. Lori first journeyed into the shamanic underworld in 2010 where she found the spiritual realm of Power Animals.  Her teachers were Mayan Ancestors who took her through a two year initiation with the spirits of four Jaguar. Her later intimate connection with Lion, given to her by a Haitian shaman has been an extraordinary experience and has enhanced greatly her healing powers. By merging and forming a sacred relationship with animal spirits she is able to support her clients with insight and change through her cutting edge shamanic counseling practice in Sedona, Arizona where she resides. For more information, please visit https://lorimorrison.com and follow Lori on Facebook and Twitter.

Happy Reading!

Interview with Kathalynn Turner Davis

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Hi Everyone!

Stopping by to share with you an interview post today.


An Interview with Kathalynn Turner Davis, 
author of KISS ME, SWAMI

1.     In the 1960’s and 1970’s, your beauty led you into the world of pageants and Hollywood.  Do you feel that beauty pageants are a positive force for women or do they serve a darker role in our society by objectifying women?
When most people think of Miss America, they usually only think of it as a beauty contest; and it is, however, that's not all it is.  There are many components that go into competing for Miss America, which is one distinguishing characteristic from other beauty pageants, as they are not all alike.  For example, young women were encouraged to work hard in school and think about their futures, because among the prizes was money toward education that many of them never would have had.  For me, personally, I feel that partaking in the Miss America pageant motivated me to refine my talent, which helped instill the focus and discipline to which I credit a lot of my future success.  It was a platform, via which many women, myself included, were able to elevate their circumstances.  
That being said, I will acknowledge that it instilled in me a belief that beauty is competitive.  I was trained to see another woman's beauty as a threat, which had a damaging effect on my self-esteem.  The implication that a woman's value is tied into how she scores alongside an arbitrary set of aesthetic standards is wrong.  For that reason, I cannot one-hundred percent support the practice of beauty pageantry and did not encourage my daughters to partake.
            To the great credit of the Miss America Association, I have noticed over the years that 
not only has the standard of beauty opened up to include a much broader range of size, type, and ethnicity, but also the emphasis on beauty as a whole is markedly diminished in favor of much less superficial qualities, emphasizing service and empowering young women to make a difference in society.  And that, I am very happy to see.  

2.     You left home as a teenage virgin and moved to Hollywood alone during the sexual revolution.  What did you discover when you got to Los Angeles?  How did the Hollywood establishment treat young women in those days?  Was there rampant sexual harassment?  Was the free love movement a good thing in your opinion?
Moving from Maryland to Los Angeles in the late sixties as a twenty-year-old with zero experience or even knowledge, really, of sex was a culture shock, to say the least.  My Disney concept of romance was dashed pretty quickly upon arrival.  I learned about one-night stands and casual relationships.  I also witnessed some nudism, and orgy-type situations, but I never felt especially pressured to partake in anything that would have made me uncomfortable.  Overall, my personal experience, when compared with other people's accounts of the time, was pretty tame.  
In my opinion, the free-love movement was not one-hundred percent a good thing.  I do not mean to romanticize the era beforehand, where people lived in fear of their sexuality and were completely suppressed; clearly evolution of our culture called for some liberation in that regard.  However, I think just as is the case with many social movements, the sexual revolution went too far.  Instead of liberating women to explore their own wants and desires, my opinion was that the pressure to keep our legs closed was simply repackaged as pressure to open them.  If a woman didn't feel sexually expressive, she was made to feel un-hip.  Words like 'loose' were exchanged for words like 'frigid,' which is equally suppressive and unfair.  
As far as objectification and sexual harassment within the industry goes... it was rampant, but everyone knows that.  The standard of beauty shifted from that of the golden age, but that didn't make it any easier.  All the women I knew, myself included, were convinced that gaining a pound would be the end of the world.  I saw women and girls put themselves through physical and mental torture over the pressure to maintain a size that was minimum ten pounds underweight, as the expression "The camera adds ten pounds" was repeatedly drilled in our ears.  
In addition, there were very few women in positions of power at the time.  We women had no choice but to rely on men to open doors and that kind of power often lends itself to corruption.  The difference between sexual harassment then vs. now is the naming of it and the acknowledgment that it is a bad thing, as opposed to accepting it as simply the way things are.  Thankfully, over time, and recently with the #MeToo movement, women have begun to reclaim their power and the days where predators can hold professional advancement over women's heads in exchange for sex are coming to an end.

3.     Your life reads like a fairy tale…a middle-class girl from Maryland wins the title of Miss Washington, DC, moves to Hollywood, loses her virginity to Troy Donahue, kisses Elvis Presley, dates Frank Sinatra and Don Ho, and then moves to The Dakota where your neighbors are John Lennon, Yoko Ono, and Leonard Bernstein.  Does your life seem surreal to you at times?  How did you end up schmoozing in such rarefied circles?
No life is a fairy-tale, all stories have ups and downs, mine included.  Were there elements that looking back, I think 'wow, that seems surreal?'  Sometimes.

When I lived in Hollywood, it wasn't strange at all that I was dating and socializing with movie-stars.  Hollywood was much more of a small town back then; you'd see movie stars out and about.  It would have been weirder to show up at a party and not see celebrities.  If you were a young, attractive, and half-way talented girl, men took interest, and those were the men we knew!

As for the celebrities I met living in the Dakota, I was aware of who my neighbors were, but seeing people in the context of day-to-day living takes a huge chunk out of the mystique.  When I think of Paul Simon, for example, in the context of the world, it seems surreal that I knew him.  But at the time, he was just another guy walking his little boy, Harper, to school.  Lenny Bernstein was just the friendly quirky old man next door who adored my kids, and little Sean Lennon was just another child around the birthday party table.  

4.     You’ve had the privilege of leading a glamourous life, but you’ve also led an introspective life, seeking spiritual understanding through a variety of different programs like Science of Mind and the Sedona Method.  What have you learned from these spiritual methods?  Are you still a seeker?  
I have participated in tons of workshops, seminars and trainings. In addition, I was a major in World Religion and travel to many places to get a firsthand experience. However, what has stayed with me is The Science of Mind and The Sedona Method. 
Science of Mind is a beautiful and practical teaching that has shown me the power of my mind.  It has helped me direct my mind and understand that I can change many things in my life that I don’t like. It’s more than just positive thinking, it’s a way of looking at life and yourself. It starts with the premise that I am whole, and complete as I am. I am not, at my core, a flawed individual, never was and can never be. I have that divine right where I am. That is the Swami within me that I speak about in my book.  
The Sedona Method has been a gift that keeps giving. This profound, simple, powerful and unique tool in ‘Letting Go,” has freed or helped me in every area of my life. Letting go is something that every religion and teaching I have studied tells me to do. The Sedona Method tells me how to do it. It has given me the way to let go of painful or unwanted feelings at any moment in time. It’s all my choice and sometimes I decide to hold on, but when I decide to let go, miracles often happen.  I would be lost without it. It’s my go-to when things get tough, like a magic bullet. However, you have to use it, you have to do it and no one can do it for you.  I would highly recommend The Sedona Method because regardless of what religion you practice or if you believe in nothing, it’s valuable. 

5.     We all have dreams as a child of what our lives will be like as adults. What has your journey taught you about the possibilities and challenges of fulfilling those dreams? Are there moments in life when it’s best to do some course correction?
As a child I was a daydreamer. At night I wished upon stars for the life I imagined myself having. I believe that I focused and programmed my mind to achieve a lot of what I imagined myself to have and be. However, I was also programmed in negative ways. I never though deep down that I was good enough or had what it took to be the things I wanted to be and to have some of the things I wanted to have. I was limited in my mind and therefore I experienced limitation a lot of the time. My life may seem like a fairy tale; however, I had many deep-seated insecurities to overcome. Most of my journey has been doing what I could to overcome the negativity deep within myself. 
My journey has shown me that all of us can let go of these limiting beliefs.  It’s not easy, but it can be done. All of us have to make a strong decision to change. We have to make a strong commitment to that decision and make it more important than the resistance that will come up to defeat us. 
Sometimes we have goals that just are not realized. I have seen people that will not let them go even if the time in life where it was possible has passed. It’s a fine line between letting go and giving up; however, I believe we are all intelligent people and deep inside we know what to do.  Sometimes we need to change course in life.  It’s the intelligent and healthy thing to do.  I have changed course many times in my life.
6.     What advice do you have for young people trying to live as their authentic selves? How does one find their authentic self and how can one defy social pressure to conform?
I would recommend that they find their own spiritual practice and commit to it. Our authentic selves are always within us. It never goes away, but it sometimes does get buried or covered up with false beliefs and programming that blocks us from expressing ourselves. It’s work to chip away at these things.  As we do chip away at what is false, our true nature begins to emerge. 
I think as we become more of our true selves, we are able to discern as to what is right for us and take the pressure to conform off. Of course, having said that, there are so many rules in any society that we need to conform to. We do not live alone on this planet and we have to respect others people and have the appropriate boundaries. 
7.     What is an authentic person? How does authenticity impact one’s life journey? 
To be authentic I believe we have to be in touch with our feelings and values and not lie about how we feel or think to please others and get their approval.  This means not conforming to what other people think. We can think for ourselves and stand behind out own truth. It’s really coming from that place inside where you are not looking to control others or seek their approval.  We live by our own values and always express what we perceive as the truth. As the quote goes, “To thy own self be true.” 
Of course, this impacts our journey. When we are coming from a place that is authentic, we discern and make choices that add to our own happiness and inner peace. We are not people pleasers or go into a profession that someone else, usually our parents, wants us to go into. We are clear about or own wants and needs and are true to that.  How many people wish that they could do certain things over? How many people wish they had followed a different career path? So many!  It takes most of us a lifetime to get this.
8.     You took some life-changing trips to India and Israel in search of spiritual awakening.  After years of learning from some of the world’s leading spiritual gurus, you realized that you, in fact, are your very best guru, your own Swami.  Is that a more liberating way to view one’s spiritual path? 
Every great enlightened being tell us that God is within us. Jesus talked about the Father within. It all points to ourselves.   When we realize this, we no longer look to others or to things for our security and begin to see that the love we are seeking is the love we are. It is not about seeking… it’s about being.  

9.     You gave up your promising acting career to become a wife and mother.  Any regrets?  Do you think it’s easier to day for women to balance both a family and career?
I loved acting and still love it; however, it was not my destiny or my choice to have an acting career. At times, I see a play or a film and say to myself, “I wish I could sink my teeth into that role.” But I have no regrets. I am pretty much at peace with my life. 
I love being a mother and did from the very first moment I saw my first baby. 
The balance of motherhood and career depends on the individual woman. Some can do it and some cannot.  I think women are less judged today if they are mothers and have a successful career. However, it’s always been and still is a tightrope to balance them both at the same time.  After all, we are only one person and have so much time in one day. 

10.  You struggled with insecurities—whether you were pretty enough, talented enough, worthy of people’s love.  How did you finally decide that you were worthy of all your accomplishments, success, and the life you were leading?
I don’t know if there was a time when I just decided that I was worthy enough. I have worked on letting go of beliefs that held me back for 45 years.  I chipped away at the programs and beliefs that limited me and brought me down.  Over the years, I have become much freer and these old beliefs don’t have a grip on me or control me like they used to. If they do arise, which they still sometime do, I just let them go and know that they are only feelings that can be released. Also, I have to say that I do accept myself with all of my blemishes, insecurities and screw ups. I certainly am not totally free, but I realize that I have done the best I could and some things are not in my control… and that’s okay.    

11.  Living in The Dakota with John Lennon, Yoko Ono, and Leonard Bernstein seems like a fantasy.  What was life really like in one of the most famous buildings of NYC?
It doesn’t seem like a fantasy. Celebrity is not strange to me. Remember, I was coming from Hollywood.  It was like any other nice building in the city, with the exception of the constant gathering of people standing outside of the gates to get a glimpse or autograph from John Lennon. 
Another unique aspect of living there was a sense of community. We had a pot luck dinner every fall in the courtyard where neighbors would sit together. The community was tight and the children in the building played together, trick or treated together and attended to each other’s birthday parties. People respected each other’s privacy, this was not a stage, it was home. 
After John was shot and killed the building lost sort of its innocence and openness.  For sure, with the exception of vigils held on the anniversary of John’s death, no one was allowed to stand around outside of the building .

12.  You describe Greenwich, CT as stifling, a place where there’s pressure to keep up with the Joneses.  Do you regret your time there?  What are some of the positives of this particular community?
Greenwich was such a different world from where I had lived before. In New York, I was in a theatre community and living among artists. Many of the artists I knew, especially in the Dakota, had money but didn’t flaunt it. Greenwich, a Wall Street Community for the most part, was very much about money. I could not keep up with the Jones’, but I did my best to have a good appearance. 
I chose to go to Greenwich and allowed myself to feel stifled in the beginning.  However, not always, I grew to appreciate what Greenwich had to offer me and my children. I learned to respect many people there and that not everyone has to be an actor or artist. It broadened me, and it taught me a lot. It was there I learned to give back through charity work, it was there I learned to entertain and to dress well. Most of all it was while living there I got my undergraduate and graduate education. I would never regret living there and I consider my time there a gift. 

13.  You’re now living your best life as a single woman.  What’s it like dating in your 60’s and 70’s?  Do you expect more from men today than you did decades ago?  How do you handle yourself differently?
Dating at this age is very different and more difficult than when I was young. When you are young, you have a lifetime ahead of you and when you are older, most is behind you. Your goals are very different. At this age, people come with lots of so-called baggage; some good, some not so good.  Most men have children and grandchildren that they are close with and so do I.  It’s sometimes hard to imagine yourself a part of their family. The men that have never been married are strange to me and the ones that do not have kids are sometimes a bit selfish and can’t understand their importance.  Dating at this age involves a lot of compromise from both parties. The expression “They are set in their ways,” has a lot of truth to it.  I think I handle myself much more confidently. I am clear on what I want in a man and am willing to have or not have a man in my life.  

14.  You had a lifelong friendship with Gary Marshall, one of America’s most beloved movie directors.  What was he like and how did he encourage you to cultivate your talent and find your authentic self?
Garry always supported whatever I happened to be doing.  He was a big family man and was very interested in my children. He became very close with my youngest daughter Genevieve and they worked together in his last movie (Mother’s Day) and also in a Neil Simon play (I Ought to Be in Pictures.)  The last time I saw Garry was in his office when my daughter Caitlin came to visit with two of her daughters, Aliana and Kaylie. He invited all of us to visit him. The following week he passed. 
He very often expresses how proud he was of me and encourage me to do some acting again. He was very pleased that I was acting in New York and urged me to keep writing my memoir. 

15.  You got to work with and became friends with Stella Adler, an acting coach legend.  What was she like and how did the two of you become friends?
Stella was the wisest and most brilliant person I have ever met. It was an honor to have her as a teacher and friend. She was always interested in what I was doing and after my divorce, the men in my life. I really don’t know why she took an interest me, but I was always grateful and valued the time I spent with her. 


More about the author:
KATHALYNN TURNER DAVIS has a Masters in Social Work from Columbia University. A life coach and spiritual counselor, she lives in Los Angeles. Like Forrest Gump, Kathalynn found herself in the midst of the zeitgeist, a protagonist swept into a series of cultural movements. But she’ll be the first to say that while she was there, she never felt truly part of any of it. Hence her unique take.  Combining her raw honesty, acute insight, and biting wit, Kathalynn Turner Davis’ KISS ME, SWAMI takes readers on an exhilarating ride that reveals how she learned to connect to the deepest spiritual forces and manifest her destiny.

Happy Reading!

Excerpt from Rogue: A Novel of Beauty and Rivalry

Monday, June 17, 2019

Hi Everyone!

Stopping by to share with you an excerpt from a new Novel, out today! Be sure to check it out :)


From Rouge: A Novel of Beauty and Rivalry. Copyright © 2019  by Richard Kirshenbaum and reprinted with permission from St. Martin’s Press. 

Chapter 1


New York City, 1933

A Technicolor sky hung over the city even though it was only early May. At times, even New York City seemed to have caught the bug. The pear trees that bloomed like white fireworks every April may as well have sprouted palm trees. Everyone, it seemed, had just stepped out of a Garbo movie, and Josephine Herz (née Josiah Herzenstein) would be damned if she would not capitalize on this craze.

A young, well-kept woman was the first to grace her newly opened, eponymous salon on Fifth Avenue. With bleached-blond “marcelled” hair, a substantial bust, and a mouth that looked as though it had been carved from a pound of chopped meat, her new client had all the ammunition to entrap any man in the city, to keep him on the dole, and her cosmetic hygienist, in this case Herz Beauty, on the payroll. She lowered herself onto the padded leather salon chair like a descending butterfly and batted her eyes as though they too might flutter from her face.

“I want thickah,” she whined. She said this in a Brooklyn accent that would have killed her chances had she been an actress transitioning from silent to talkies.

Josephine nodded and reached into her arsenal, procuring the favored Herz moisturizer for a dewy complexion. She removed and unscrewed the glass jar, leaned over her client, and began to apply it to her cheekbones in soft, round swirls.

“No!” The client swatted her hand away as though to scold and dispose of a landed bug. “Not my skin,” she said. “My lashes.”

“Oh.” Josephine withdrew her hand and held it, poised high above her client’s face, as though hovering a spoon over a boiling pot.

“I want thicker lashes,” said the blonde. “Like Gloria.”

“Gloria?” Josephine was perplexed.

“Swanson!” the client said, shaking her head, miffed that she was not understood.

“I see.” Josephine replaced the glass jar in her holster bag and procured a separate, zippered case. “For the thick-eyelash look, you have two options: tinting or application.” She removed both a small black cake and a moistened brush to apply the pigment and a plastic box of spidery lashes and displayed them as though they were a cache of jewels. The tube of adhesive gum came next.

The blonde’s eyes widened. She shook her head and sat bolt upright on her chair. A convalescent, revived from the dead. “Ya don’t mean you want to glue them on?”

Josephine took a long, deep breath. “How else do you think women get them?” she said. “If there were a drink ve could drink to grow them, I assure you I’d let you know,” she said in her Polish-tinged English.

“I just assumed…,” said the blonde. Miffed, she reached into her pocketbook and produced a magazine clipping from a crumpled stash. She unfurled a luminous, if wrinkled, image of Gloria Swanson, the Hollywood glamour girl, from the latest issue of Motion Picture. All lips, pouting like a put-out princess. She had the brow of an Egyptian goddess, the same distinctive beauty mark, and the eyelashes of a jungle cat. “Like that,” she said, pointing at her eyes. “I want to look like that for a party tonight.”

Josephine’s perfectly lacquered blood-red nails grazed the wrinkled page. She studied Gloria’s fabulous face, the brow, the lash, the pout.

Application,” Josephine said, returning the image.

Geez,” said the client. “You’d think by now you people would come up with something better than that.”

It was her duty, Josephine had come to feel, to tolerate stings and slights like this. But a new thought occurred to her as she prepped the lashes for application, as she meticulously heated and applied the adhesive gum. Her client was right. She often worked the floor to do just that: to listen to her patrons, her clients. And now that she was in New York, she knew enough never to be too far away from what real American women wanted. And so she took in the woman’s request with deep reverence, as she knew nothing was more important to her future sales than her clients’ needs. Blanche or Betty—or whatever the tacky blonde’s name was—was right. It was high time someone came up with something better. Josephine was certainly up to this task. The only problem was that across town, a woman named Constance Gardiner was doing the very same thing.

* * *

Josephine Herz was not, of course, the first to invent mascara. But she would be the first to invent one devoid of mess and fuss and to make it available to the masses. As early as ancient Egypt, women found their facial fix. Considered to be a necessary accoutrement in every woman’s and man’s daily regime, kohl, a combination of galena, lead sulfide, or copper and wax, was applied to the eyes, the eyebrows and lashes, to ward off evil spirits and to protect from sun damage. Most any image of Egyptian gods or goddesses will reveal hieroglyphs, not only on pyramid walls but on the Egyptians’ faces. The bold, black lines on the female face lost fashion over the centuries, especially in more recent times when Victorian ladies eschewed color of all kind on the face. But it was not long before women craved—and chemists created—a new brand of adornment for the eye. Coal, honey, beeswax—all the traditional ingredients had to be tested and tried. Josephine could smell a market maker from a mile away, and in this, she sensed a new moment for the eye. From Los Angeles to Larchmont, women were craving new ways to look like the stars of the silver screen, new ways to dress, look, and behave in a modern woman’s ever-changing role. These women needed a product that would make them look and feel like Garbo or Swanson, something simpler, cleaner, and quicker than the application of false eyelashes every six to eight weeks. These women needed a product that was cheap, fuss-free, and less mess than the old option made from charcoal, which, in the very worst cases, caused blindness.

Copyright © 2019 by Richard Kirshenbaum


RICHARD KIRSHENBAUM is the author of Rouge: A Novel of Beauty and Rivalry (St. Martin’s Press). He is CEO of NSG/SWAT, a high-profile boutique branding agency. He has lectured at Harvard Business School, appeared on 20/20, was named to Crain’s New York Business’s40 under 40” list, and has been inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame. He is the author of Under the Radar, Closing the Deal, Madboy, and Isn’t That Rich? and the New York Observer's "Isn't That Rich?" column. He lives in New York City with his wife and three children.

Happy Reading!

Guest Post with Susan Welch

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Hi Everyone!

I am excited to bring you a guest post from Susan Welch, author of a Thread So Fine. Please help me welcome her to the blog!


At forty-six years old and settled in my life with a wonderful husband, two young boys, and a comfortable career, I had a perfectly acceptable story I’d forever told myself about my childhood. Most of us do, I suppose. The night my brother invited me to dinner and revealed in his deadpan way the family secret he and my parents had kept for decades, my own personal narrative unraveled before even the appetizers were served. I had absolutely no idea that I’d been adopted as a baby—and when he told me as much, anyone nearby could’ve knocked me over with a feather.

As my brother spoke the words, “Mom and Dad adopted you when I was six…”, I felt as if someone put an entire bagel in my mouth, insisting that I figure out a way to swallow it whole.  I was dumbfounded—and slightly nauseous.  Months later I would explain to concerned friends: the revelation wasn’t like discovering I had a life-threatening disease, nor was it winning the lottery, but the long-hidden truth about my identity rocked my world all the same. 

In the first nights after that long conversation with my brother, I could not stop my mind from reeling, from unpacking age-old memories, from yearning for a chance to talk with my deceased parents, from imagining, or re-imagining my own life’s beginning with no facts to go on.  My sister, with whom I’m very close and who also did not know, could not look at me without both of us laughing hysterically—if one of us were truly adopted, we’d both have put money on it being her, not me. She was the questioning rebel. I was the go-along easy one.

Sleep did not come willingly. Gratefully, I am a writer and one thing I’ve always known is that telling myself stories about invented characters and their dilemmas can soothe a racing mind. I go through the day fictionalizing all sorts of things from my daily life, often in my mind and sometimes on paper if the storyline is at all inspiring.  Even as a child, I found comfort in doing this – as if by creating characters I could define-and-control, I could perhaps figure out ways to improve myself and to control my own being or circumstances.  At the very least, I could entertain myself while life played itself out chaotically around me.

Eliza and Shannon Malone came to me in those early sleepless nights as I thought about my mother and my newly-revealed-but-yet-unknown birth mother.  I imagined them in a dream-state as two sisters coming of age together in mid-century Minnesota, just after the war.  Inspired by Dodie Smith’s novel, I Capture The Castle, the two girls were well raised and cared for, and more than a little naïve. They began to take shape as the daughters of an Irish-Catholic professor and his mysterious wife, Nell. The girls felt optimistic and loved, although secrets in the family abounded. One sister would be introverted and artistic—even quirky; the other, bright, confident and capable of almost anything—including caring for her only sister as almost a mother would.  As the book took shape, one sister would quickly endure an unexpected tragedy, and the other would face a far more sinister threat before long.    

The central questions I wanted to explore with my two fictional sisters, their mother, Nell, and ultimately the next-generation child, Miriam, were these: How did young women such as my own adoptive mother and (then-unknown) birth-mother navigate their most challenging circumstances in decades before #MeToo, or modern medicine? How might they have found courage to carry on in a society that from today’s perspective seemed laden with secrecy, shame and disempowerment for women? Post WWII American society saw not only rising access to affluence, but rapid and turbulent social change that lasted for decades. Did the seeming intransigence of the Catholic Church and its social mores make it more comforting or more difficult for women who faced dramatic challenges of health or circumstance?  Or did the Church contribute to solidifying an era of secrecy, shame and loss around unwed mothers; and judgment around unmarried women? Even more broadly, I wanted to explore the nature of family – the invisible threads that almost irrevocably bind us to one another—as mother, daughter, sister, aunt, brother, uncle, father, son....  What is the deepest nature of those threads and how, if at all, do they change when secrets are – or aren’t – revealed?

The story of the Malone family was mostly imagined, although vignettes and characters from my own mother’s years in quarantine for tuberculosis weave in and out of Shannon’s experience over that dramatic year at Milner Hospital. My deceased mother-in-law and her sister, also closely-knit but vastly different women, inspired Shannon and Eliza’s relationship so much that I’ve kept their photos as babies and grown girls pinned to my bulletin board.  The lives and spirits of many other women--my sister, sister-in-law, myself and even my birth mother whom I finally met two years ago--are among the infinite invisible threads that have inspired me, and that I’ve tried to weave together in a story about women’s relationships to one another and the wondrous nature of family.

Thanks for the post!! 

Happy Reading!

Goodreads Summer Challenges

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Hi Everyone,

Just stopping by to let you know about an awesome summer reading challenge hosted by Goodreads! There are different levels, so there is something for everyone. Be sure to check out their post for full details :)

Happy Reading!

Book Promo: Donna Has Left the Building

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Happy Belated Book Birthday to this book-out June 4th!

Author: Susan Jane Gilman
Summary from Amazon:
From the beloved, New York Times-bestselling author of Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress comes a hilarious, timely, and big-hearted new novel about rebuilding life in the face of disaster.

Forty-five-year-old Donna Koczynski is an ex-punk rocker, a recovering alcoholic, and the mother of two teenagers whose suburban existence detonates when she comes home early from a sales conference in Las Vegas to the surprise of a lifetime. As her world implodes, she sets off on an epic road trip to reclaim everything she believes she's sacrificed since her wild youth: Great friendship, passionate love, and her art. But as she careens across the U.S. from Detroit to New York to Memphis to Nashville, nothing turns out as she imagines. Ultimately, she finds herself resurrected on the other side of the globe, on a remote island embroiled in a crisis far bigger than her own.

Irresistibly funny, whip-smart, and surprisingly moving, DONNA HAS LEFT THE BUILDING spins an unforgettable tale about what it means to be brave -- and to truly love -- in a tumultuous world.

Disclaimer: I was awarded this book from the Publisher.  I have not had a chance to read it yet, but I am really looking forward to it. Though I did not pay for the book, the opinions are strictly my own.

Happy Reading!

Guest Post with Fred Waitzkin

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Hi Everyone!

Excited to be here to bring you a guest post from Fred Waitzkin. Please help me give him a warm welcome to the blog.

Finding Treasure in Writer’s Block

Young writers often ask if I am sometimes afflicted by writer’s block and if I’ve discovered a cure. Most writers wrestle with this malady from time to time.  Over the years my relationship to the illness has evolved, and as an older writer I see it as a frustrating companion who at times can offer profound advice.

All authors relish days feeling on fire with a story when sentences pour out, almost without effort or thought. They spill into paragraphs and pages. It feels like riding a magic carpet that will soar on forever. I call such periods, writing within the bubble. But then after days or weeks, inevitably, life gets in the way.

Consider this scenario:  I’m just home from a ten-day fishing trip, determined to get back to my manuscript when my grandson Jack begs me to take him to tomorrow’s Mets game. Instead of going to my office I take Jack to the game. We’re both excited as hell about our trip on the subway…. It’s okay. I’d been on a roll with my story. Another day won’t matter at all. As we rumble toward Mets stadium, I pleasantly recall the feeling of riding the carpet, the story pouring out of me…. I’ll be back there tomorrow.

 The Mets lose. Jack cries, inconsolable in his new Mets cap as we’re leaving the stadium. “Why do the Mets always lose, Baba?”

I’m thinking about Jack’s sorrow and the Mets string of losing seasons. I’m disgusted with the Mets, a thickening edifice forming between me and my story.

Next morning I’m finally back in front of my computer after an eleven-day break. I take a look at my last chapter…. Pretty good. I sit at the computer waiting for the words to flow…. Nothing. I wait. Nothing. Four more days pass of nothing. I’m pulling what’s left of my hair. Now I’m living outside the bubble.

Okay, seven days of writer’s block. I’m back in my office at 9:30. I make a cup of tea. I pace around a little. I have a lunch date at 12:30. I’m looking forward to that. I stare at my Mac like it’s the enemy. I begin to pace around. I sip tea. I look at my computer. No way I’m sitting there to suffer any more. I snap on my old radio and listen to sports talk radio, a discussion about the Mets falling apart after a promising start to the season. Every year they do it. They cannot hit…. It’s now 11. I look at the computer, shake my head, no way. I pace in the hall. I come back into the office and read the paper. Now it’s 11:50. Almost time to leave for lunch. Not yet, Waitzkin, not yet. I stall another five minutes, pressure building. It’s twelve. Suddenly I throw myself into my chair in front of the keys. I need to leave my office for lunch in 18 minutes. It’s now or never…, and if I’m lucky, the dam breaks. Words pour out. I’m feverishly typing words that wouldn’t come for days. They are gushing out now when I hardly have time to write them, trying to catch them in the air like butterflies, get them into the machine… I’ve written some of my best paragraph this way, when it was do or die.

Another trick for writer’s block: I always carry around a tiny notebook in my shirt pocket. When I’m riding my bike home along the river, thinking about the Mets losing streak, an idea pops into my head. I stop the bike and jot it into the book. I’m talking to my wife Bonnie and an idea suddenly appears. I’m talking to my son. He shakes his head, annoyed, while I scrawl treasure into my notebook. “Dad never listens to me.”

Two days ago, I was stumped how to end an essay about my artist mother. I woke up after a two-hour nap and suddenly I could see the words hanging in the air in front of me. I wrote them in the notebook before they disappeared…. Carry a notebook. Just having it with you elicits ideas.

I wrote my new novel, Deep Water Blues, without once having writer’s block. It was pure bliss, beginning to end. I’d decided I was going to write a short book, 150 pages or less, something I could hold in my head without having to turn back to see what I’d written two or three years earlier. I was determined to write this one fast. And also, I’d gone into it after having written a screenplay, my first. I wanted this new book to move like a movie.

Deep Water Blues describes a gruesome disaster that takes place to a little island civilization—an island once gorgeous, and peaceful, almost Eden like, and in the aftermath, the island becomes decimated by greed, out-of-control ambition, violence and murder. At the heart of it, Deep Water Blues, which was inspired by true events, is an adventure story. I wanted to tell the story fast, fast and violent with no looking back, no flashbacks, mostly taut bold scenes as in riveting film…. Writing this book took me over like a runaway train.

There was no room for writer’s block in my new book. Pace and length and a harrowing story were the key elements. Maybe I’ll try that again.

Thanks Fred for the post!

Happy Reading!

PS. I am still on break for another week or so, but since this one is released today, I wanted to be sure you got the info! :)