Steampunk is all the Rage

Steampunk is all the Rage

Gabbing with author Laurel Anne Hill about her steampunk novel, The Engine Woman’s Light

Laurel Anne Hill is the author of the award-winning steampunk novel, The Engine Woman’s Light. The story is set in an alternate 19th century California where steampunk and spirits are the new norm. A young Latina spiritualist is given a mission by her ancestors to save the lives of unwanted passangers on a train headed for misery.  Mysticism and adventure, the alternate reality of the novel incorporates Mexican and Native American cultures with steampunk enchantment.

 

Laurel drew inspiration for the novel from her own love for family, brushes with death, and belief in a higher power.  Step onboard the locomotive as we gab with the author of this exciting tale.

 

Q. What is something interesting/cool/unbelievable you discovered while researching your book?

A. I learned that my paternal Mexican great-grandmother, Hipolita Orendein de Medina, had been politically active, even in her teens. I also learned how to run a steam locomotive.

Q. Do you believe in ghosts? Why or why not?

A. I’m not sure about classical ghosts, but there are spirits out there. The spirit of my deceased husband, David, has made himself known to me upon a number of occasions.

Q. If your book was turned into a film/TV show, who would you tap to play the lead(s)? Why?

A. Hollywood isn’t known for its plethora of young Latina stars. Can anyone figure out how to call up the spirit of Selena Quintanilla-Perez? She might have some suggestions.

Q. Tell us something about you that no one else knows.

A. As a young child, I used to torture ants when they invaded the bathroom. Then I’d cry and apologize to their dead bodies.

Q. What is something you’ve always wanted to try but are afraid to?

A. For many years, I wanted to try sky diving. Fortunately, I grew out of the impulse before I grasped the opportunity to break every bone in my body.

Rapid Fire Questions and Answers

Star Wars or Star Trek?

Star Wars

The beach or the mountains?

The beach

Marvel or DC?

Marvel

Zombies or aliens?

Aliens

Alice in Wonderland or Harry Potter?

Harry Potter

London or Istanbul?

London

Selfie or group photo?

Group Photo

Kanye West or Taylor Swift?

May I ignore both of them?

Evening gown or yoga pants and a hoodie?

Evening gown

Cats or dogs?

Dogs

Find your copy of The Engine Woman’s Light on Amazon. 

America, Land of the Time Travelers?

America, Land of the Time Travelers?

An insight into the motivation behind the all-American book, Journeyman.

Mark Rose, author of Journeyman, has a fascination with the challenges humanity faces as technology rapidly evolves and interacts with science and society.  Rose goes back to a simpler time – colonial America – to take a look at America’s beginnings and the people who helped build our nation. During a tumultuous time in present-day American politics, Journeyman paints a refreshingly optimistic picture of America’s future using the colors of its past. Just in time for the 4th of July!

Mark Rose is the author of the new series Matt Miller in the Colonies. Journeyman, book one of the two book series, tells the tale of a 21st century man who time travels to colonial America only to find himself trapped, unable to return home. Now he must learn the skills required to survive in the new world as he gains the trust and friendship of his colonial brethren.

 

Q. Your genre, time travel/sci-fi, is popular right now, why do you think that is?

A. We are all fascinated with having the power to travel back in time and fix our mistakes, or to know the future so that we can prepare. Humans are the only creatures on the planet that sense time. As a scientist, I believe there is more to time than just its tendency to pass, and that our minds are just on the very edge of comprehending this other dimension. When humans sense that something is possible, they usually find a way to make it happen. We will eventually master time travel because we’re motivated by a deep emotional need. Until then, we’ll live our time-travel fantasies through good stories.

 

Q.  What is something interesting/cool/unbelievable you discovered while researching your book?

A. There are a number of phrases that we use today that have their origin in colonial times. One example is the phrase “saved by the bell.” I always thought this had something to do with modern boxing, but it actually comes from the fact that people were sometimes accidently buried alive in the eighteenth century. Because of this, they began tying a string to people’s wrists before they were buried and they would run the string to a bell on the ground of the cemetery. If you woke up in your coffin and pulled the string, you were known as a “dead ringer.” The people they hired to sit in the cemetery and listen for ringing bells worked the “graveyard shift.” Their job, then, would be to dig you up as quickly as possible. That’s cool stuff.

 

Q. What is the core message you want to deliver to the world through your writing/books/stories?

A. I want people to resist the temptation to try to judge colonial Americans based on the standards of today. These were good people and they were very progressive for their time in history. Colonial Americans created a system of government that hasn’t been fundamentally improved since the writing of the Constitution in 1787. Granted, it took a while for us to realize their dream of equal rights for everyone and we may still not be there, but that shouldn’t detract from their legacy. The United States has pulled more people out of poverty and tyranny than any society in the history of the world, and we owe it all to colonial America. Our first feeling towards our founders should be awe, plain and simple.

 

Q. What book haven’t you read that you know you must?

A. I’m halfway through “Crime and Punishment.” I set it down and never finished. Also, I bought a copy of “The Origins and History of Consciousness” by Erich Neumann. He was a student of Carl Jung. I’m hoping both books will help me sort out human emotion and motivation. I’d like to use this information in my writing as well as a way to help me understand the increasing negativity in US politics. We live in the greatest society the world has ever seen and have historically low poverty rates, yet it feels like we’ve become more and more miserable. What does it take for a society to be optimistic and happy?

 

Q. What advice do you have for other writers?

A. 1. Plan a time to write and then sit there and write, whether you feel like it or not. I’ve heard a number of successful writers say that they’ve done their best work in those times when they have felt the least inspired.

 

  1. There is no good writing, only good rewriting. It’s a lot more fun, too.

 

Rapid Fire Questions and Answers

Q. Guardians of the Galaxy or XMen?

A. Guardians of the Galaxy

Q. The beach or the mountains?

A. Mountains

Q. Zombies or aliens?

A. Zombies

Q. Sponge Bob Square Pants or Bugs Bunny?

A. Bugs Bunny

Q. Coachella or Broadway?

A. Coachella

Q. Chess or Candy Crush?

A. Chess

Q. Invisibility or mind reading?

A. Invisibility

Q. London or Istanbul?

A. London

Q. Hippies or hipsters?

A. Hippies

Q. Reading or writing?

A. Writing

Bringing awareness to Mental Illness, One Laugh at a Time

Bringing awareness to Mental Illness, One Laugh at a Time

A Chat with Laurie Finkelstein, Author of Next Therapist Please

Next Therapist Please was inspired by author Laurie Finkelstein’s real-life events and struggles. Laurie weaves her personal experiences with mental illness into her hilarious, sidesplitting story. Grab a cocktail and enjoy this one-on-one chat with Laurie.

The novel tells the story of Janie, a free spirit and endearing main character who marches to the beat of her own drum. Janie has passed through so many therapist offices she cannot keep track, so she has started referring to each therapist by number. While some have helped Janie, others were duds. Janie recalls her experiences with a cocktail in one hand and a paint brush in the other.

Awesome fact about Laurie: She is so passionate about bringing awareness to mental illness, that she donates 10% of each book sale to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Q: What’s one interesting quirk about you?
A: I believe in Numerology. It’s the study of the symbolism of numbers. You can determine one’s personality and inner needs through it. It has helped me learn more about myself and others.”

Q: If you could give your book to one celebrity, who would it be and why?

A: Ellen DeGeneres. She would love the book and want to bring me on as a guest to talk about breaking the stigma of mental health one laugh at a time. All audience members would receive the book, and Ellen would bring out a big check donation to NAMI, The National Alliance on Mental Illness. I donate 10% of my sales of Next Therapist Please to NAMI. With the rash of celebrity suicides it is essential we reach as many people as possible to give a message of hope.

Q: What advice would you give to Janie in your book and why?

A: Embrace and love herself for who she is despite her challenges. To be gentle and kind with her when depression or anxiety intrudes her day. Janie needs to know her mental illness does not make her less of a person. Learn and practice mindfulness, which will help manage her illnesses more effectively. I need to take that advice LOL!

Q: If your book were turned into a film/TV show, whom would you tap to play Janie? Why?

A: Leslie Mann is my ideal Janie. She has great comedic timing and plays tragedy really well. Love her voice and look.

Q: What three books are on your To Be Read list this summer?

A: LOL – that’s like choosing your three favorite Jelly Belly combinations. Checked by Jennifer Jamelli, Hypnotic Seduction by L.L. Kellogg, and Baker’s Dozen by Autumn Doerr are three of many.

Q: What is the core message you want to deliver to the world through your writing/books/stories?

A: I want to champion the underdogs, the leftovers. I want to be an example of successful living with mental illness in all its messy roadblocks and detours. I want to help people talk about mental illness openly and freely. I want to raise awareness and money for research and treatment of the mentally ill.

Rapid Fire Questions and Answers

Q: Guardians of the Galaxy or XMen?

A: XMen

Q: Meat or Veggies?

A: Veggies

Q: The beach or the mountains?

A: Beach

Q: Kittens or puppies?

A: Kittens

Q: Ninja or pirates?

A: Pirates

Q: Selfie or group photo?

A: Group Photo

Q: E.L. James or J.K. Rowling?

A: J.K. Rowling

Q: London or Istanbul?

A: London

Q: Hippies or hipsters?

A: Hippies

Q: Miley or Selena?

A: Selena

Want more? Grab the novel on Amazon!

Kickstarters and Crowdfunding: The Musical Way

Kickstarters and Crowdfunding: The Musical Way

Music has been a central element in many people’s lives, bringing story, language and resonance to our experiences and cultural identities. Through music, we may connect in a meditative way and bring about inner peace and greater focus in ourselves. Over the past decade, there has been a shift in the way we interact with music. The Ukulele has grown in overwhelming demand and for the first time ever; the instrument has sold in greater volumes than the guitar. The tiny and affordable instrument offers a poetic tone, demonstrating that learning an instrument can be accessible to everyone.

The Internet has created a booming stage for music lovers who wish to learn how to play the ukulele. With YouTube videos, music websites, and apps at your fingertips, it is becoming easier than ever to learn new chords and to become a self-taught musician.

The universal platform of the ukulele is expanding even wider as new developments allow you to take the instrument wherever you go. Developed by Novako Music, the Ava Ukulele is making waves as the perfect travel companion for adventurers across the world. Its novel features include compact storage as well as earphone compatibility so you may enjoy playing music without disturbing others in your environment. The instrument also produces electric signals to initiate amplification through a loud speaker. With the Ava Ukulele, travelers can delve into the introspective journey of the instrument, and share with others along the way.

Considering the universal nature of the instrument, it makes sense that the Ava Ukulele has received its grand echo of success through Crowdfunding.

In recent years, Crowdfunding has become a popular means for connecting diverse individuals and garnering support for entrepreneurial ventures. Put simply, crowdfunding involves gathering funds through local, national and international means. The act allows entrepreneurs to extend their project, cause or idea into a wide network that wouldn’t otherwise be possible and seek support in an efficient space.

There are a variety of crowdfunding websites welcoming ventures from various backgrounds. While some seek to represent ventures in niche themes and utilities, others provide an open environment for accessibility.

Kickstarter is a resource that is typically used by small businesses and start-ups. The website is aesthetically focused, encouraging businesses to promote their products in the most visually attractive way possible. Through visual storytelling, Kickstarter gives businesses an extra push to launch their ventures in a compelling way. Since mid-June, Kickstarter has helped to fund more than 145,000 projects, thanks to its fourteen million ‘backers.’

Platforms like Kickstarter are being supported tremendously by the power of social media. Through social engagements, campaigns are reaching wider audiences with a viral potential and connecting more deeply to potential funders through associations with the individuals behind the campaign. Crowdfunding provides incentives, both physical and digital, compelling active involvement.

The nature of contribution on this platform provides for accessibility as well. With multiple tier options and an attitude of ‘everything helps’, potential funders no longer feel pressured to unfist a tremendous amount of cash upfront. Instead, campaigns become an effort of building together.

Just sixteen hours following the launch of its Kickstarter campaign, the Ava Ukulele attained its $30,000 goal. The early success of the product is a nod to the impact of global sharing and a success story for adventurers, entrepreneurs, and music lovers across the world.  Whether its sharing music, a project, or an idea, we can all play our part in supporting inspiration and our universal passions. Working together, we are all connected.

 

How Cozy Do You Want It?

How Cozy Do You Want It?

A Look Inside the Mind Behind the Break-Out Cozy Summer Mystery: Baker’s Dozen

Autumn Doerr is the author of the must-read summer mystery novel, Baker’s Dozen: A Lexi Fagan Mystery. The book was inspired by a real fire she witnessed in San Francisco in the 80s. That experience evolved into the first book in the series. It makes for the idea summer book.

The book tells the story of Lexi after she moves to San Francisco and lands a job working at a local bakery. Tragedy strikes when her lover, who is also a firefighter, turns up dead in a devastating fire. Suddenly, she’s caught up in the murder investigation and begins to uncover secrets that could get her killed.

Q: What makes your book a must-read?

A: If you enjoy a good mystery, can appreciate an old-fashioned bakery and get a kick out of San Francisco, or have always wanted to visit, “Baker’s Dozen” is for you.

Q: What is something interesting/cool/unbelievable you discovered while researching your book?

A: For opera buffs, before the 1983 Fall season, there were no English supertitles at the San Francisco Opera. La Traviata, the opera that’s in the book, was the opera that popularized the practice. (Hint: there are supertitles at the La Traviata, in “Baker’s Dozen”.)

And for those of you into more gruesome research: The inciting event in my mystery book is a fire at the Cathedral Hill Hotel in San Francisco. I witnessed this fire in 1983 and, over 20 years later, it sparked the idea for my mystery book. Through research, I discovered that the December 18th fire had taken two people’s lives and prompted Mayor Diane Feinstein to require sprinklers be installed, along with smoke alarms, in all hotels to bring them up to code. At the time, I didn’t even know two people had been killed as a result of the fire.

Q: If your book was turned into a film/TV show, who would you tap to play the lead(s)? Why?

A: For some reason, Rooney Mara comes to mind for the main character, Lexi Fagan. She has such a range and looks very young. She can play naive and smart, not a combination you see too often. Denzel Washington for Detective Robert Reiger, of course; though he doesn’t have a big part in Book 1, he does play a larger role in the second book that I hope to publish later this year. In case Mr. Washington is busy, hem hem, I also think Donald Faison from Scrubs or Cedric Yarbrough (Reno 911 and Speechless) would also be smashing.

Q: Tell us something about you that no one else knows.

A: I can tap dance (barely) and love to cut a rug on the dance floor to early disco.

Q: Recommend a book that is similar to yours. If people like X, then they’ll love your book because…

A: If you like Sue Grafton’s Alphabet series, you’ll like “Baker’s Dozen.” Grafton’s novels are known for their interesting, and often older, characters. Her descriptions of the fictional town of Santa Teresa ground her stories so you feel as if you’re there. I tried to do the same thing with descriptions of my beloved San Francisco. And, finally, Grafton protagonist, Kinsey Millhone, gets caught up in a lot of hairy situations; something that Lexi Fagan has a habit of doing.

Rapid Fire Questions and Answers

Q: Meat or Veggies?

A: Meat

 

Q: Kanye West or Taylor Swift?

A: Taylor

 

Q: Coachella or Broadway?

A: Broadway

 

Q: Selfie or group photo?

A: Group photo

 

Q: Hardcover book or Kindle?

A: Hardcover

 

Q: Chess or Candy Crush?

A: Chess

 

Q: Cookies or cake?

A: Cake

 

Q: Firefighters or cowboys?

A: Firefighters

 

Q: E.L. James or J.K. Rowling?

A: J.K. Rowling

 

Q: Kittens or puppies?

A: Kittens AND puppies!

Bakers Dozen, Cozy Mystery BookReady to unravel this tasty mystery for yourself? Find the book on Amazon.

 

The Book that Predicts a Battle of Women vs. Men Is Blowing Our Minds

The Book that Predicts a Battle of Women vs. Men Is Blowing Our Minds

A Conversation with the Creators of XX v XY: The Final World War

XX v XY: The Final World War is a dystopian novel that feels like it is coming true. As tensions flare between women and men, women’s voices are being heard louder than ever before thanks to #MeToo, #TimesUp and #BeattheOdds.

We’re digging into the heads of the creative team who produced the book everyone is reading this summer. Bobby Goldstein is the idea guy. The executive producer and creator of the hit TV show Cheaters, he has an insider’s perspective of what triggers women and men.

Christina Cigala is the author. By day, she’s a TV writer and producer — by night, she’s a must-watch author who bled words into a book that is downright creepy in the way it depicts characters who match many of today’s players. For example, the book features a maniacal President X who, just like our current POTUS Donald Trump, runs a beauty pageant. The correlations between this made-up world and our own has people wondering if we truly are on the edge of an all-out battle between the sexes.

Q: Your book’s genre is popular right now, why is that?

A: Goldstein — The subject matter/genre of XX v XY speaks to a shifting paradigm at this moment.  Humanity is made up of groups and subgroups, all of which are rising up from history and tradition to take a stand against prior poor treatment of yesteryear. The ascent du jour happens to be women now who have been under-appreciated and under-rewarded for centuries by patriarchal societies. If one is not part of the spewing lava, then at least one likes to watch the spewing lava because it is a train wreck, which people like to watch.

Q: What was the hardest part of writing XX v XY: The Final World War?

A: Cigala — Sitting down and writing. I was on set most of the time I was writing this, and it was really hard to find the time.

Q: What was the most rewarding part of writing XX v XY: The Final World War?

A: Cigala — Gaining the confidence that comes from writing a book — no one can take that away from you.

Q: If XX v XY: The Final World War was turned into a film/TV show, who would you tap to play the lead(s)? Why?

A: Goldstein — Charlize Theron, Amy Adams, Halle Berry, Julianne Moore — these are my rolling stones; I love them all. Why? Because they give off so much power with their eyes. They all just make me want to say, “Yes ma’am” and “No ma’am”.  But I’d like to kick back and watch it with Jennifer Aniston because she was a big fan of Cheaters.  

Q: What makes XX v XY: The Final World War a must-read?

A: Cigala — I’m a really creative writer and it’s weird and fun and short.

Q: If you could give your book to one world leader, who would it be and why?

A: Goldstein — The crown prince of Saudi Arabia.  He’s just now allowing women to drive. Imagine if he got caught up on the set of 9 to 5.  Where would those women have sent him?  

Q: If you could give your book to one celebrity, who would it be and why?

A: Cigala — Amy Sedaris because I love her so much.

Rapid Fire Questions

Q: The beach or the mountains?

A: Goldstein — Beach for sure

Q: Cats or dogs?

A: Goldstein — OMG, get them all away from me. They smell and would eat your food without regard.  

Q: Ninja or pirates?

A: Goldstein — Pirates

Q: Alice in Wonderland or Lord of the Flies?

A: Goldstein — Lord of the Flies. It has come true.  

Q: Sponge Bob Square Pants or Bugs Bunny?

A: Goldstein — Bugs Bunny. I was called the rabbit at the courthouse because nobody could catch me.  

Q: Thor or Hulk?

A: Cigala — Alex Mack

Q: Miley or Selena?

A: Cigala — Miley does a great Dolly cover.

Q: Game of Thrones or The Sopranos?

A: Cigala — Mother of Dragons or bust.

Q: Hardcover or Kindle?

A: Cigala — I love an audio book!

Q: Formal attire or yoga pants and a hoodie?

A: Cigala — Girls in tuxes are the best thing.

XX v XY: The Final World War is shocking statement about our times. Find the book on Amazon and from bookstores and retailers everywhere.

 

Fans Worry For Khloé Kardashian’s Health After Skinny Selfie

Fans Worry For Khloé Kardashian’s Health After Skinny Selfie

Khloé Kardashian has fans going crazy after she recently posted a photo of her slim waist with a waist-trainer on. The 32-year-old has been open and public about her change in lifestyle and how she has decided to go from the “fat sister,” to someone who goes to the gym and works out religiously, and changed her diet. After her divorce and split from ex-husband, Lamar Odom in 2013, Khloé had turned over a new leaf and wanted to reinvent herself.

Recently, she has been looking better than ever, showing off her workout routines with sister Kourtney Kardashian on her Snapchat and Instagram profiles, but, after sharing a new photo of her slim waist, fans are worried the reality TV star has gone too far.

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Khloé posted this photo of her slim waistline sporting a festive waist-trainer that she uses to synch her waist to appear smaller. But, while many women use these devises, they are not always safe. Some fans reached negatively in comments thinking that Khloé has gone “too far” and looks “unhealthy.”

ANGELINA JOLIE IS STRUGGLING TO KEEP THE KIDS HAPPY POST-DIVORCE

ANGELINA JOLIE IS STRUGGLING TO KEEP THE KIDS HAPPY POST-DIVORCE

According to a source close to the family, Angelina is having a hard time keeping her children happy after the filing, especially because they’re getting a little “homesick.”

“It’s been weeks since the kids moved out of their home and they are getting homesick,” the source said. “The children are sad, miss the huge house they grew up in, and have been complaining to Angelina that they want to go home. The older children are not happy with the situation while the younger ones are having trouble understanding why they can’t just go home.”

The divorce was based on irreconcilable differences, but news quickly turned to Brad’s questionable parenting skills. The FBI ended up investigating Brad’s parenting style, specifically with his oldest son, Maddox.

The father and son allegedly had a physical altercation on the family’s private jet a while back, which sparked the decision to open up an investigation into child abuse. However, the case came back negative, and Brad was given permission to see the children periodically and with a counselor present.

The whole family underwent counseling, both together and separately, and Brad and Angelina are reportedly being as mature and civil as possible during this transition. Obviously, no divorce is easy for the children—especially when there’s six all under the age of 16—but if the parents are as civil as they claim, maybe they can return to their California home soon.

The Real Reason Blac Chyna and Rob Named Their Baby “Dream”

MZ reported on Thursday morning that Blac Chyna was indeed in the hospital getting ready to give birth to she and Rob Kardashian‘s daughter. That’s right, baby Kardashian is coming early!

The outlet reported that Chyna arrived at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and that Kris Jenner and her boyfriend Corey Gamble had arrived there, as well. According to the source, Chyna was set to give birth in the same suite that Kim Kardashian had delivered her two children. The C-section was apparently scheduled for 8:30 a.m. PT.

TMZ also reported that there was a bit of drama at the hospital due to Chyna and Rob’s decision to film the birth of their daughter. According to several outlets, Rob and Chyna both decided to end their season of Rob & Chyna with the birth of their daughter. However, with some hospitals forbidding media in delivery and surgical units (such as Cedars-Sinai) there were some issues amongst cameramen, the family and the hospital staff.

However, E! News reported that the newest member of the Kardashian family had arrived at 9:18 a.m. – Dream Renee Kardashian. That’s right, Dream Kardashian has officially entered the world.

BRAD PITT MAKES FIRST PUBLIC APPEARANCE SINCE DIVORCE FROM ANGELINA JOLIE

Brad Pitt has made his first public appearance since the news of his divorce from Angelina Jolie made headlines last month. Since the news broke, Pitt has been keeping a low profile in public and in the media as he gets his affairs in order with his ex-wife, Jolie. The two had been in a brutal custody battle that ended in a temporary hearing on Monday, and since then, Pitt has stepped out on the red carpet for the premiere of his new film, Allied. 

Pitt also spoke to E! News on the red carpet and opened up for the first time about how he is doing after the divorce and custody battle. He told the source that he is doing good and that he’s greatly appreciative of his fans who have shown him nothing but support over the last month.

“It’s really sweet, everyone has been really kind out here. It’s really nice to have all the support.”

On Monday, however, a representative for Jolie reported that an agreement had been reached by the ex-couple in terms of legal custody of their children. According to the agreement, Jolie will have sole custody of her six children, while Pitt is allowed to see them with a therapist or a counselor present during visits.

According to reports, Jolie still does not “trust” Pitt with her children. The Mr. & Mrs. Smith actress had filed for divorce from her husband just days after he had a domestic dispute with their 15-year-old son, Maddox  on an airplane. A source close to Jolie said filing for the divorce was for “the health of her family,” and well-being of her children.

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A representative for Angelina Jolie spoke out in a statement on Monday saying:

‘In accordance with this agreement, the six children will stay in their mother’s custody, and the children will continue therapeutic visits with their father. This has been determined by childcare professionals to be in the children’s best interest.’  

‘We are not in a position to discuss the details. We hope now that it is clear that the events which led to the dissolution filing involved minor children and their wellbeing, there will be understanding of the sensitivity of the family situation.’

‘We believe that all sides are committed to healing the family and ask for your consideration during this difficult time.”