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Interview with Randolph Baltimore, author of From My Heart


 
From My HeartTitle:
 From My Heart
Author: Randolph Baltimore
Publisher: Xlibris
Pages: 34
Genre: Poetry
Format: Ebook

Purchase at AMAZON

“From My Heart” is my first publication, my labor of love I have worked on for many years. It is the fruition of the many trials, tribulations, ups and downs that life has dealt me over the years. May you be inspired and enlightened by the words on these pages. amazonCould you please tell us a little about your book?

It is a book of poetry about various situations in life, love and relationships.

Who or what is the inspiration behind this book?

About 7 years ago I was around some people who had been through some very difficult situations in their lives. As they were sharing their stories with me I began writing some of the things down and later turned them into poems. As I began sharing what I had written with them they encouraged me repeatedly to make it into a book.

What cause are you most passionate about and why?

I really care about our young kids getting the education and tools they need they need. One of heart’s desires is to have affordable learning facilities.

Do you have any rituals you follow when you finish a piece of work?

I proofread it for what seems like a million times because I want to make sure I am getting the message across to my audience.

Who has influenced you throughout your writing career?

My first influences were the writers of the early Motown era. In particular Smokey Robinson, Eddie and Briand Holland, Lamont Dozier and Nicolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson.

What are some of your long term goals?

I want to continue writing poetry books. I am also working on a novel and I would also like to write children’s books. I also have completed the audio version of my first book.


A Chat with Eliot Baker, author of ‘The Last Ancient’


Eliot BakerEliot Baker lives in Finland. He teaches communications at a local college and runs an editing and translating business, but would be content singing for his heavy metal band and writing novels full-time. He grew up near Seattle, got his B.A. in World Literature at Pitzer College, and got his M.S. in Science Journalism from Boston University. He was an award-winning journalist at the Nantucket Inquirer and Mirror, and before that he wrote for the Harvard Health Letters. He spent four years pursuing a career in the sciences while at the Harvard Extension School, during which time he spun old people in NASA-designed rocket chairs and kept younger people awake for 86 hours at a time in a sleep deprivation study. He likes good books, all music, and bad movies, and believes music and literature snobs just need a hug.

His latest book is the supernatural thriller/historical mystery, The Last Ancient.

Visit his blog at www.eliotbakerauthor.blogspot.com.

 About the Book:

The Last Ancient 2Around Nantucket Island, brutal crime scenes are peppered with ancient coins, found by the one man who can unlock their meaning. But what do the coins have to do with the crimes? Or the sudden disease epidemic? Even the creature? And who–or what–left them?

The answer leads reporter Simon Stephenson on a journey through ancient mythology, numismatics, and the occult. Not to mention his own past, which turns out to be even darker than he’d realized; his murdered father was a feared arms dealer, after all. Along the way, Simon battles panic attacks and a host of nasty characters — some natural, others less so — while his heiress fiancee goes bridezilla, and a gorgeous rival TV reporter conceals her own intentions.

Thank you for this interview! I’d like to know more about you as a person first. What do you do when you’re not writing?

It’s a pleasure to be here. I’m a regular American guy living in an irregular context. That context is Finland, where I run a small English/Finnish translating and editing business, and teach communications at a local college. On top of that I am raising two kids with my Finnish wife and I am singing in a heavy metal band.

If you could go anywhere in the world to start writing your next book, where would that be and why?

I’d love to head off to the ruins of ancient Mesopotamia, Persia, and Egypt to absorb some of the forgotten gods and culture of the region. My next book involves five extraordinary youths from around the world who are bound together by tragedy and destiny. While it takes place primarily in Seattle and Finland, it draws heavily from ancient religion and myth, particularly Zoroastrianism. I can’t help myself. I find mythology and ancient religion to be irresistibly fertile grounds for fantastical ideas and funky beasties.

What do you find fascinating about the dark fantasy genre?

Dark fantasy is gritty enough to feel real, and fantastical enough to transport us from the daily grind. It creates adult fables that entertain and enlighten us about our selves and our world. And by “dark,” I don’t mean a miserable slog through pain and suffering punctuated by an unhappy ending. The darkness I’m fascinated by is the stuff that we’re reluctant to typically face – be it change, or failure, or death, or heart break – behind which can be discerned a hopeful light as cast through the prism of fantasy. For example, I like going through a hard day of work and then on the drive home turning my mundane struggles into zombies that must be dispatched by the dozen; or reading a particularly powerful series of stories in the paper and fabricating a conspiracy that links them all together with magic and ancient creatures. Fantasy can make reality more comprehensible and interesting.

When was the adrenalin rush – writing that first chapter or the last and why?

The first step down the rabbit hole is the most thrilling.  My entire book began with a single sentence: “Gunshots crow across the windswept prairie of Nantucket.” The moment I hammered those letters into my computer, I was transported into a misty world of mythology and mystery, conspiracy and media, which vivified upon every keystroke. The first chapter, for me, is the crush on the mysterious woman at the party; it’s soaring into love with a kindred spirit. The last chapter is saying your vows after getting to know her as a person, for good and for less than good.

What is the most important thing about your book that we as a reader should know?

The Last Ancient takes a bag of genres and throws them into a blender: fantasy, science fiction, thriller, mystery, historical fiction, and romance are shredded and mixed together until their DNA is indistinct from each other. That’s what I love about The Last Ancient. It contains deeper interlocking messages on global trends and personal transformation and love and mythology, all of which required an unusual genre-glue for cohesion. While it does work as a whole, some folks might find it hard to read a mystery that also has mythological creatures and alchemy alongside arms dealing and corrupt politicians, propelled by a pretty great love story.

Your best friend is an aspiring author and his book really sucks.  What would you say to him?

Keep writing. You’ll get it eventually. This sounds like a cop-out, but it’s not. Everyone’s book has some good aspects, be they located in the writing itself or the idea. Well, every book a best friend of mine would write (grin). My first book didn’t work out; several of my friends read it all the way through and tactfully said that I had talent but neither I nor my book were ready. They were right. I loved it at the time but it was in actuality just a raw idea pulped with emotion rather than sculpted with skill. It takes practice to develop skill. Keep. Writing. Best. Friend.

You’re sitting at a dinner party and seated next to NY bestselling authors.  They are intimidating indeed and one of them remarks that your book sucks.  What would you say to him or her?

Oh, this sort of happened to me recently! I was at a conference surrounded by highly accomplished literary authors, all of whom I greatly admire. We were getting along really well, geeking out about books and the writing process and whatnot, when they asked me what my book was about. I told them it involves mythological creatures and alchemy, and contains sexual content. The silence was awkward. The looks on their faces–frozen between horror and incredulity–were priceless. Then I added that The Last Ancient involves heavy research into history and politics and science, that it contains layered commentary on this and that, and that I’d had a Kirkus featured review and Novel of the Year from my publisher, yadda-yadda-bla-bla-bla, and we kind of agreed to disagree as to whether my book was awesome or another sign of the illiteracy apocalypse they’d been warning against all weekend.

You catch someone sitting on a park bench reading your book whether on a e-reader or the real McCoy and you walk over to him or her and what do you say?

Did you catch the type-o on page 6? And can you believe that author’s lame picture? He looks like he’s going to sell you Amway. Oh, uh, yeah sure, I’ll autograph that for you.

You’ve just been offered the Pulitzer Prize.  Who do you thank?

First, Mr. Sandman for bringing me such a great dream. Then, if I don’t wake up, my mother. Sharon Baker, a sci-fi author of three novels in the 1980s, inspired me as a  writer in every way.

Any final words?

If you’re thinking of writing, do it. If you’re writing a book, finish it. If you’ve finished your first draft, have a glass of champagne and write your second draft. If you’re staring at a pile of rejection letters and are about to give up, DON’T. We write because we love to. We love books. We love stories. And you have a story to tell. You will eventually find your voice to tell it. When that happens, you will be unstoppable. Every stress and heartbreak up to that point  you will see was necessary, and it will all sublimate into a feeling like none other. In the meantime, have adventures—they help broaden your writerly horizons. Tend your friendships and relationships—they help deepen your writerly worldview. And read everything you can—there’s no simpler way to improve your writing than by reading.


Notes From A Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World By Tsh Oxenreider

four-stars

Publisher:  Thomas NelsonNotes from a Blue Bike by Tsh Oxenreider

Release Date:  February 4, 2014

Pages:  272

Genre:  Non Fiction

About the Book:  Life is chaotic. But we can choose to live it differently.

It doesn’t always feel like it, but we “do” have the freedom to creatively change the everyday little things in our lives so that our path better aligns with our values and passions.

The popular blogger and founder of the internationally recognized “Simple Mom” online community tells the story of her family’s ongoing quest to live more simply, fully, and intentionally.

Part memoir, part travelogue, part practical guide, “Notes from a Blue Bike “takes you from a hillside in Kosovo to a Turkish high-rise to the congested city of Austin to a small town in Oregon. It chronicles schooling quandaries and dinnertime dilemmas, as well as entrepreneurial adventures and family excursions via plane, train, automobile, and blue cruiser bike.

Entertaining and compelling–but never shrill or dogmatic–”Notes from a Blue Bike “invites you to climb on your own bike, pay attention to who you are and what your family needs, and make some important choices. It’s a risky ride, but it’s worth it–living your life according to who you “really” are simply takes a little intention. It’s never too late.

Wanda’s Review:  Tsh Oxenreider shows how it can be possible to live our lives contentedly with intention by creatively changing little things in our lives.

The chapters are divided into seven topics.

I – Awakening – “We were made to live slower then our fast-paced Western culture deems normal. But it means paddling upstream through strong currents.”

II – Food – The Slow Food approach – wanting to feed the family nourishing food and supporting companies and farmers by buying local. Eating right requires making deliberate choices about ingredients and growing methods.

III – Work – Starting your own business and being able to work from anywhere. It will require finding a work-life balance and prioritizing your family values.

IV – Education – Schooling options – to homeschool or not to homeschool. Be intentional about you kids’ education, thinking through both the benefits and the negative consequences.

V – Travel – The modern-day technology of travel. There were days when the family felt like heading toward the airport and hopping the next plane to wherever. The kids all had updated passports. It requires bravery, but allows you to investigate life up close. Certainly not routine, but creates much adventure as a family.

VI – Entertainment – In all its forms, entertainment is so easily accessible in our technology-soaked culture – always within arm’s reach.

VII – Revival – Taking care of yourself is essential to making life-changing decisions that can have an effect on your family. Sometimes slowing down is necessary to enjoy living more intentionally. It can be a blessing to live for something beyond yourself.

To young couples raising a family I would recommend this book more quickly. Realistically, the suggestions are not for everyone. I would assume that most families would not be able to just pick up at anytime and hop a plane to wherever. But the author reassures the readers to live according to their needs and resources. Also included, in the back of the book, are interesting discussion questions. I could see this book being read by a young couple’s book club.

My only quibble with the book – sometimes the chapters felt disjointed.

I wavered between a 3-4 rating, finally deciding on 4 because of the great writing style. I found this book to be a relaxed and easy read.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publisher in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author:  Tsh Oxenreider is the main blogger behind The Art of Simple, a blog dedicated to the art and science of living simpler. Tsh is the author of Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World, One Bite at a Time: 52 Bites for Making Life Simpler, and Organized Simplicity. Tsh also records a podcast with Homefries called The Art of Simple Podcast, which during one week ranked second under NPR’s This American Life in most listened-to podcasts.. Tsh is also an advocate for Compassion International, is a regular contributor at (in)courage, and is an A-List Expert with Real Simple magazine. She thinks a library card, a Netflix subscription, and a passport are some of the greatest parenting tools in the universe.