Saturday, June 15, 2019

Review: It’s Time to Start Living with Passion! My Journey to Self Discovery, by Jean Paul Paulynice



Title: It’s Time to Start Living with Passion! My Journey to Self Discovery
Author: Jean Paul Paulynice, MBA
Publisher: PAULYNICE CONSULTING GROUP, LLC
Publisher’s contact info: INFO@PAULYNICECONSULTING.COM
Non-Fiction
Genre: Self-help/Inspirational
Publication Date: May 30, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-7330427-9-6 (Hardback)      $16.99
ISBN: 978-1-7335601-9-1 (Paperback)    $9.99
ISBN: 978-1-7330427-0-3 (eBook)           $3.99
ISBN: 978-1-7335601-2-2 (Audiobook)   $3.95

Do you feel as though you’re on autopilot, going through the motions every day—wake up, go to work, come back home, have dinner, sleep, repeat—without real meaning, depth, and purpose in your life?

Even if you have a fulfilling job and earn a good salary, that doesn’t mean you’ve found your passion in life. The problem is, finding your passion can be elusive, especially in our present society where we are constantly seeking external validation from others and are being judged in public platforms more than ever (i.e. social media). Perhaps the wisest statement in this book is that “the moment you start to listen to yourself, you can start shutting out all the noise.” This little book is all about soul-searching, self-analysis, and reflection. Sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone and seek out your passions. Sometimes you have to change your mindset and shift your perspective about things in order for transformation and growth to take place. Likewise, it’s also about the choices you make, not so much the major ones but the little ones you make on a daily basis.

In his light, honest, and engaging prose, Jean Paul Paulynice encourages you to do some introspection so you can begin your path toward finding your passion and bliss in life. For those who journal, the reflection questions he asks make very good journaling prompts. A very quick read, under fifty pages, It’s Time to Start Living with Passion! is a little morsel of goodness and wisdom that will help on your journey to self-discovery.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Meet the Author: Michael Houtz, Author of Dark Spiral Down


After a career in medicine, Mike Houtz succumbed to the call to hang up his stethoscope and pursue his other passion as a writer of fast-paced thrillers. A rabid fan of authors such as Clancy, Mark Greaney, Vince Flynn, and Brad Thor, Mike loves series writing with strong characters, fast pacing and international locations, all of which explode into action in his debut novel, a 2017 Zebulon Award winner. When not at the keyboard, he can be found on the firing range, traveling for research across the globe, or trying out the latest dry-fly pattern on a Gold Medal trout stream.

He lives at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.

His latest book is the thriller/international/action novel, Dark Spiral Down.



                          https://www.facebook.com/mike.houtz.77




 Can you tell us a little about the main characters of your book?

The main protagonist, Cole Haufner, has led an interesting life. He was born in Massachusetts to a Chinese mother and German father. At the tender age of 6, he is stranded in China at a Shaolin monastery, along with his older brother. At the age of 15, he moves back to the U.S., finishes high school and college before embarking on a meteoric rise in mixed martial arts. Funny thing is he hates fighting. He prefers a quiet existence which brings him even more fame and attention. The dichotomy perplexes him.

Butch “Dragon” Haufner, the older brother, is a Delta Force team leader in the U.S. army. He’s part of a task unit that works primarily in the Pacific region and finds himself operating back on his old home soil.

Ron “Hammer” Thompson is Butch’s second-in-command. He’s a former linebacker for Univ. of Texas who gives up a possible career in the NFL to serve his country. He’s forced to teach Cole, on-the-fly, basic military tactics when the two meet on foreign soil.

“Lilly” is a 19 yo Chinese girl who is one of the world’s top computer hackers. She helps her adoptive father, a former CIA operative with various tasks. She’s sweet, naïve, and only wants to escape her existence in southwest China.

Barret Jennings, offspring of a wealthy railroad magnet, is a former CIA employee living in exile in southeast China because of a key failure twenty years ago. He groomed Lilly from an early age because of her extraordinary intellect and his multitude of illicit activities.

Commander Park is a notorious North Korean agent and sociopath bent on obtaining an invention capable of producing clean energy. He’ll kill anyone and anything in his way.


If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would that be?

Believe in yourself. It’s a long process of becoming a published author and too much time and outside influence can strain a commitment to write. Any new skill takes time to accomplish a certain level of proficiency, and writing takes a little longer than most others. Trust in the habit of constant improvement.




What would you say is one of your interesting writing quirks?

For action scenes, I crank the heavy music to get fired up. You’re not in a life or death situation without a massive dose of adrenalin. I find my mind sharper for deadly struggles if my blood is pumping.


Do you hear from your readers?  What do they say?

I’m very fortunate that readers actively seek me out. I get a rush when they start telling me about their favorite scenes. Their excited voices are really satisfying to hear. Our conversations are really unique in that no two people seem to focus on the same things. That speaks to the individual experience. I hear words like “shocked”, “intense”. or “I never expected that” most frequently.


What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author?

I received feedback from a contest judge saying, “Good thing you have the option of self-publishing, though I wouldn’t recommend it for this work.” Two months later, I won a big award and landed a contract. Suck it, Mr. Judge.


What has been your best accomplishment?

For writing, it was winning the Zebulon award which launched my budding career. My most important accomplishments usually have something to do with my kids—my primary focus in life. I happened to save a number of lives in my medical career—a major milestone in my desire to help others.

Do you Google yourself?

Only when I was figuring out how social media plays into the writing career. I was already pretty familiar with the things I’d accomplished (insert smirk). I’m not famous enough to have too many erroneous mentions about me, but I’m hoping that changes.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I have two WIPs—the follow-up to this book launch and a medical thriller I’m working hard on. There’s a 3rd in my head, but I have to put my foot down somewhere.

Fun question – if you were princess or prince, what’s one thing you would do to make your kingdom a better place?

As a prince, I’d get rid of all lawyers and bring back pistol deuling.

Do you have anything specific that you would like to say to your readers?

Just that it’s my sincerest goal to entertain you all, and I welcome the chance to interact with everyone, whether in person or social media. I know what a thrill it is when I get to interact with my favorite authors, and I’m hoping I can be there for people who might look to me in that same way. Nothing makes me happier than someone who read my work reaches out and tells me they’re glad they chose to spend time with my book. High five!


Title: DARK SPIRAL DOWN
Author: Michael Houtz
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Pages: 377
Genre: Thriller/International/Action

COLE HAUFNER is a reluctant superstar in the professional mixed martial arts world. After his latest fight, his wife and child perish in a car crash. His grief deepens when his brother, BUTCH, a Delta Force operator, is absent from the funeral and reported missing by two furtive strangers who show up unannounced at the burial. Despairing, and acting on a tip, Cole travels to his childhood home in southeast China, looking for his brother.

Butch and his teammate, HAMMER, are the sole American survivors of a gun battle between their unit and North Korean commandos, both sides fighting over possession of a stolen suitcase containing a miniaturized fusion device that could either provide unlimited clean energy or be converted to an undetectable bomb seven times more powerful than a nuclear explosion. Leading the North Koreans is the sociopath, Commander PARK. Pressed into helping the Koreans is a disgraced former CIA operative, BARRETT JENNINGS.

Cole meets with the uncle who raised him, MASTER LI, and is warned to stop his search for Butch. Barrett discovers Cole’s identity (with the help of a genius computer hacker, LILLY), which opens a twenty-year-old wound when Barrett was blamed for the disappearance of Cole’s father, along with the man’s invention. Barrett enlists the 14K organized crime syndicate to help capture Cole. Hammer, separated from Butch during the fight for the device, thwarts the gang’s attempt to kidnap Cole, and the two then set off to find Butch and the device. All parties converge on the city library where Butch, now disguised as a monk, is attempting to communicate with the Pentagon. Barrett and Park capture Butch, while the 14K gang nabs Cole.

Danger mounts as Chinese authorities begin investigating foul play within their borders. Cole fights his way free of the gang and reunites with Hammer.  Both men find Barrett’s apartment and discover Lilly (the man’s stepdaughter), who divulges Barrett’s identity and plan. Cole clashes with Hammer, who is willing to sacrifice Butch in order to recover the fusion device. Lilly offers her help in exchange for her and Barrett’s rescue from Park’s grip. Meanwhile, Barrett discovers the true nature of the case the North Koreans are pursuing and, sensing he and Lilly are to be assassinated by Park once he has the device, frees Butch. Butch, trusting Barrett was sent to rescue him, leads the turncoat to the site where he hid the device. Barrett, hoping to make a quick fortune selling it, shoots Butch before escaping with the case.

Cole, along with Hammer and Lilly, arrives at the location of Butch and finds him gravely wounded. Butch fingers Barrett for shooting him and for stealing the case. Cole wants only to save his brother but Butch makes him promise to kill Barrett and recover their dad’s invention. The revelation that the device is his father’s scientific discovery propels Cole forward to fulfill his brother’s mission. Cole is forced to abandon Butch at a hospital. Cole pursues Barrett to a remote dock where the ex-CIA man is planning to escape China by boat. With the Chinese military now actively looking for Cole, Cole confronts Barrett and Park sparking a gunfight. Barrett kills Park. As Barrett turns the gun on Cole, Hammer kills Barrett. Cole, Hammer and Lilly escape via the boat, and the fusion device is safely returned.

Readers Love Michael Houtz!

“If you’re in the market for a fast paced, action filled, page-turning thriller, Mike Houtz delivers a must-read novel. I highly recommend this emotional rollercoaster of a book for every die-hard thriller reader…Get it ASAP!”
~Lima Charlie Review
~*~
“…this work proves that author Houtz is undoubtedly a rising star in the publishing world.”

~Andrea Brunais, Author

~*~
“Mike Houtz takes us on fast-pace adventure in Dark Spiral Down, a thrilling ride along the border between China and North Korea, where Cole Haufner is in pursuit of his Delta Force brother and a device that has the potential to change the world forever or destroy it.”

~Dan Grant, Author

~*~
Dark Spiral Down is a phenomenal debut novel by Mike Houtz. This book has everything readers of the genre love: a great plot, memorable characters, and a powerful voice. It’s a must-read!”
~Ammar Habib, Bestselling & Award-Winning Author, Editor-in-Chief of Thriller Magazine

Amazon


Thursday, May 30, 2019

Author Interview: Steve Starger, Author of Misfits and Supermen


Steve Starger is a journalist, author, and musician. His 2006 book, “Wally’s World: The Brilliant Life and Tragic Death of Wally Wood, the World’s Second-Best Comic-Book Artist,” was short-listed for the Will Eisner Industry Award for Best Comics Related Book of 2006.






As a book bloggin’ and book luvin’ Princess, I’m always curious to find out how authors got the ideas for their books.  Can you tell us what your book is about?

Misfits and Supermen is a memoir about my relationship with my older brother, Melvyn, who was afflicted with multiple psychiatric disorders that kept him institutionalized most of his life.

Can you give us an excerpt?

1 Ardman Drive, circa 1950:
My father, my brother and I are seated at the kitchen table. I am 10 years old; my brother is 18. We all have glasses of tomato juice; Melvyn and I also have milk. My father has a cup of coffee. It’s too early for the daily tension to roll in, so the mood is relatively cordial. My father is reading the paper or cracking one-liners, which make us laugh. My mother is preparing salami and eggs and toast. In the middle of one of my father’s jokes, Melvyn starts to flap his arms, which is one of the ways he shows joy. (I find out in later years that psychiatrists call these actions “stimming,” or self-stimulation. They are most prevalent in people with autistic spectrum disorders.) This activity, coupled with Melvyn’s abnormally thin frame, transforms him into some kind of wild bird, flapping his wings excitedly. No one knows where this sudden behavior comes from but it appears harmless, so no one gets upset. It happens frequently, and if it means that Melvyn is feeling happy about something, it’s all to the good. For my young self, it’s like watching a Daffy Duck cartoon. I laugh when he does it—not with him, but at him. In a sudden flip of his arm, Melvyn’s hand hits his glass of tomato juice, sending the red liquid flying across the table like a storm surge. Everything stops. My father’s paper is soaked, as is the entire table and all of us there. My father looks disgusted, or perhaps just defeated, accepting another inevitable calamity caused by Melvyn. My mother turns around, and her face sinks at the chaos. One more disaster to clean up. She grabs a towel and begins to sop up the mess, which is now seeping onto the floor. While my mother fights a losing battle with the juice, my brother jerks his hand again and hits his glass of milk. The white liquid spreads over the red pool on the table, mixing like watercolors. Melvyn is the first to speak, a kind of triumph for him. “F-first t-t-he milk, t-t-hen the juice,” my brother starts to chant. My father looks at his older son and his face changes, lightens up, chasing away the chaos that has suddenly engulfed his morning. I pick up the phrase, and soon we’re chanting in unison, “First the milk, then the juice!” My mother is not amused. She continues cleaning, using up towel after towel. Breakfast will have to wait. My mother turns off the stovetop and stands still, on the verge of tears. If God would strike her dead at this very moment, it would be a mitzvah (a blessing).
It never occurs to me that Melvyn has the same range of emotions as I do. I laugh at him, but worse, I resent his existence in that rudimentary manner that characterizes youthful solipsism. I view my brother as an alien in the house, someone dark and unfathomable who threatens my unformed and uninformed self. I fight back with anger and insults, which contributes in no small way to the tension that fills our home, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, with precious little relief.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would that be?

Study the great writers to see how they did what they did; beware of adjective creep and adverb bombardment; write true; pay attention to your inner and outer worlds!

What would you say is one of your interesting writing quirks?

I don’t know how interesting it is, but I generally cannot continue writing until I have the right lede. I don’t really want to know the ending up front, but the lede is what takes me into the piece.

Do you hear from your readers?  What do they say?

Readers occasionally contact me; mostly, it’s positive re the work or the style. Sometimes, I get good, constructive criticism as well.

What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author?

I think it goes back to college English papers, and the implication that bull**** well said is still bull****.

What has been your best accomplishment?

In writing? My current book, Misfits and Supermen.

Do you Google yourself?

Yes, occasionally, mostly to see what’s out there.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

The usual box-full. I sometimes pick at those to find something I might be able to use for another work.

Fun question – if you were princess or prince, what’s one thing you would do to make your kingdom a better place?

Princesses and princes really aren’t my thing.

Do you have anything specific that you would like to say to your readers?

I appreciate you very much. You make us who we are.



The bond of brotherhood is hard to break, but a lifetime of dealing with familial expectation, bitterness, and psychological disorders can bend and warp it into something nearly unrecognizable. This story tells the tale of two brothers: Melvyn, the elder, whose amalgamation of disorders leave him completely unable to function within society; and Stephen, the younger, whose own emotional and psychological issues are overshadowed to the point where he becomes little more than a pale and twisted reflection of his brother.

On different ends of the same spectrum, Melvyn is blissfully unaware of their troubling connection (or so his brother can only assume), but for Stephen, it is undeniable. He lives with it every day, sensing his own otherness in every twitch, outburst, and inability of his brother to overcome his inner demons. Left largely on his own to deal with his peculiarities-while carrying the burden of being "the normal one," of whom much is expected- Stephen begins a complicated and unpredictable journey, one which will take him as far from his brother as he can manage to get, even as it brings them inexorably closer.

A portion of proceeds from this book will go toward the Camp Cuheca Scholarship - Melvyn D. Starger fund at Waterford Country School, Quaker Hill, CT., to help fund a two-week summer residency at the camp. For more information about Waterford Country School, please email development@waterforddcs.org.

“A finely crafted, affecting memoir of two brothers.”
-- Kirkus Reviews
If you want an honest book about life with mental illness in the family, this is it. Great writing. Brutally honest. Hard to put it down. Great stories about CT, NY and CA from the 1940s to 2000.”

--Amazon Reviewer

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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Greg Messel's New Historical Fiction Dreams That Never Were




Title: DREAMS THAT NEVER WERE
Author: Greg Messel
Publisher: Sunbreaks Publishing
Pages: 296
Genre: Historical Fiction


On June 5, 1968 Senator Robert F. Kennedy, then a candidate for President, is mortally wounded by assassin Sirhan Sirhan in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Among the innocent bystanders who were also shot that night is a young idealistic reporter from San Francisco, Alex Hurley.

The tragic incident changes his life as he’s swept up in the turbulent events of 1968.  Alex is conflicted about the Vietnam War after spending several months there as a reporter. The war costs him his first marriage and threatens to tear his family apart. However, he meets a woman who’s love restores his hope and together they forge a new life set against the backdrop of the war, the civil rights struggle and political upheaval in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Alex Hurley’s story is part political thriller and partly a romance in “Dreams That Never Were,” the latest historical fiction novel by award winning author Greg Messel.

The title comes from a famous quote of Robert F. Kennedy’s “Some men see things as they are and say, ‘Why?’ I dream of things that never were and say, ‘Why not?’”
______________________







I heard unfamiliar voices talking.
“He’s starting to open his eyes,” someone said.
“That’s a great sign,” commented another.
I detected a pain in my side, just below my rib cage. I tried to open my eyes, but they seemed to be glued shut. The voices resumed—talking about me as if I wasn’t there. Finally, I blinked my eyes, trying to focus, and soon realized  I was in a hospital bed. Standing by me, with concerned looks etched on their faces, was an odd collection of people from my life. 
Through my bleary eyes, I saw my ex-wife Brenda; John Greer, my photographer pal from San Francisco; and Darlene Harvey, the reporter from the Los Angeles Times, I’d been admiring from afar since I had arrived in Southern California. 
Brenda moved forward and tenderly gripped my hand in a way that she had not done for a long time. 
“How are you, Alex?” she asked softly. 
I gave a weak shake of my head. “I dunno. What happened?” 
“Don’t you remember, mate?” John jumped in. 
“Remember what?” I mumbled blankly, as my weak voice tailed off into nothing.
“He’s still coming out of the drugs. Give him a minute,” Brenda pleaded. “They’ve been keeping him kind of doped up since the surgery. This is the first time I’ve been able to talk to him.”
“Surgery?” I asked. 
Brenda shushed me and gently ran her long, slender fingers through my hair. “Take it easy. Don't try to talk right now. Take your time. Then we’ll help you understand what happened.”
I groggily attempted to get my bearings. “We were at the hotel. Everyone was celebrating Bobby’s victory. I was following him out of the ballroom, and there was like a riot. I was suddenly on the floor and couldn’t get up. It was strange. All of these people kept stepping on me—on my arm and on my legs.” 
I glanced at my right hand which was heavily bandaged. “I got knocked down. I’m sorry. Everything is a little hazy. I’m having trouble getting my brain to work.”
The three people hovering over me could not have been more different—two beautiful women and John, with his long black hair pulled back in a ponytail and a scruffy beard covering his face. The trio exchanged concerned glances, whispered, and nodded at one another. I started to shift in my bed and was met with a jolts of pain in my side and my leg. 
Brenda attempted to lighten the mood. “I was afraid you’d wake up in your hospital bed, see your ex-wife standing over you, and think you’d died and gone to hell.”
I gave her a weak smile, while the others chuckled to break the tension. 
Brenda was trying to make sure my re-entry was a slow descent, but that strategy was quickly dashed when John started blurting out all the details of the last 14 hours. “Take it easy, Alexander. You’ve had surgery. You were shot, man. They removed the bullet. The doc says you’re going to be fine. Some people from San Francisco are on their way down here, including our boss. Everyone’s been worried about you after they saw the news.”
“The news? I was shot?”
Brenda glared at John. “Way to go slow, John. Senator Kennedy was shot. You and some other people were also wounded by the assassin.”
“No, no, no!” I yelled. “Bobby was shot? No, not this time! This wasn’t supposed to happen! Assassin? Is Senator Kennedy going to be all right?” 
John moved closer. “Bobby’s just down the hall. He’s still alive, but he’s not doing very well.”
“Not doing very well?” I snapped with rapidly accelerating alarm.
John blundered ahead. “This place is like a fortress. It was hard to get in here especially onto this floor. Cops are everywhere.”
“Maybe we should go,” Darlene said shooting a glance at John. “We’ll come back later, Alex. We just had to see you. We were so worried.” 
“No, no, don’t leave right now,” I pleaded. I repeated what I had been told to try to take in the enormity of the news. “Senator Kennedy was shot. How could… how did it happen?”
Brenda nodded to John and Darlene. “I’ll stay with him. I know you must be very busy.”
Darlene leaned over and kissed me on the cheek. She was dabbing tears from her eyes. “It’s been a long night. We’re all living in a nightmare. I’m so sorry, Alexander. It’s good to see you awake.”
Darlene grabbed John by the elbow and pushed him towards the door. John flashed a peace sign. “Peace, my brother. I’ll see you a little later. Take it easy and get better. I’ve got to call San Francisco. Everyone’s anxious to hear about you.”
After they departed, I tried to shift to get a better look at Brenda. She looked great. Her long black hair cascaded onto her shoulders. It was longer than I had ever seen her wear it. She wore a lime green mini dress with white trim and white boots. 
“Where am I, and what time is it?” I quizzed Brenda. “Actually… what day is it?”
“It’s Wednesday,” she checked her wrist watch. “It’s about a quarter to two.”
“At night? What happened to Tuesday?!”
“You had surgery earlier today, and I just got to town. I came straight to the hospital. I flew down as soon as I heard about the assassination attempt. Your name was on the television as one of those wounded with Bobby. I caught the next plane to LA to see you.”
“Uh… wow… that’s… I mean, I’m overwhelmed. That’s a lot of money. Is that all right with Tom?”
“I was very upset, and Tom immediately offered to fly me down here to see you.”
“That’s very nice… of you… and your husband.”
“Alex, I don’t think you’ve grasped what’s going on outside this room. It’s a national crisis. I wish you could look out the window at the street below. There are barriers up, and hundreds, if not thousands, of people are lining the street in the front of this hospital. News about the shooting is on TV constantly.”
“Where’s Senator Kennedy now?” I groggily asked.
“Here. Eric Sevareid and Walter Cronkite have been on CBS saying something has happened to the fabric of our nation. There are signs everywhere that say ‘Pray for Bobby.’ The raw footage of the shooting has been shown over and over again on NBC. You’re right. After the shots were fired, it was like a riot. When I turned on my television, not only did I see Bobby bleeding on the floor in the pantry, but I saw you on the ground with a pool of blood under you. You were wearing a blue blazer, lying on the floor on your side against the wall.”







 








Greg Messel grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and lives on the Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, with his wife, Jean DeFond. Dreams That Never Were is his 11th novel and is a historical fiction account of a young reporter caught up in the events surrounding the assassination of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy in 1968. Greg has also written a series of mystery novels set in San Francisco in the 1950s. He has lived in Oregon, Washington, California, Wyoming and Utah and has always loved writing, including stints as a reporter, columnist and news editor for a daily newspaper. Greg won a Wyoming Press Association Award as a colunist and has contributed articles to various magazines.

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