Sunday, October 23, 2016

Kimberly Benjamin on Writing a Novel Even When as Busy as a Lawyer | Attorney by Day, ...

Kimberly Benjamin talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by about her book, Attorney by Day, Novelist by Night: Bring Your Book to Light While Still Practicing Law.

“If you have that passion, and you’ve had it for awhile, it’s there for a reason.” ~Kimberly Benjamin

Kim might not be an attorney, but she grew up in a family of attorneys and worked with them before, so she knew a lot of them who felt they had great stories to tell but who never got these stories to print, for whatever reason. She had also worked with her sister, who is a lawyer, for five years on a novel, and that experience helped prod her to write Attorney by Day, Novelist by Night. Although the book might seem to be geared for attorneys, anyone who has a busy job or professional life can pick up the book and get a great deal from it.

Kim remarks that lawyers might read and write a lot as part of their profession, but what they write is so highly regimented, so outside their work hours they want to get into something more creative, with Kim remarking that some of the attorneys she knows are writing poems and country Western music. She notes that how busy attorneys are depends on the kind of practice they have, with litigators being swamped when they’re preparing for cases at particular times and corporate attorneys and those in contract work being freer with their schedule. Kim also remarks that all lawyers need to read a lot, and that deadlines are critical, as making these could make one’s case and missing these could cause one’s case to get thrown out. She also noted that, while attorneys need to tell a story about their case, these need to be presented in a way that is more cut and dried than creative, which is why writing a novel is a freer and more creative process than writing up cases.

Kim remarks that around eighty percent of the attorneys she knows write, or want to write creatively, and that one of the things that keep them from writing a book - being placed in a position of public exposure and vulnerability - is common to all would-be writers; and attorneys in general need to consider how well they need to protect their name and professional reputation. She also notes that passion has to be present in anything one does, and that writing creatively can help attorneys who are somewhat discouraged with their profession reconnect with what they enjoyed about reading and writing in the first place. Kim also knows of two full-time attorneys, with their own law firms, who have written novels which are now poised to be published.

To would-be novelists, Kim says that, if they have a story to tell, then tell it, no matter how long it takes, and to start now, because they have been given a message to share, both for themselves and for their readers.

Kimberly Benjamin’s website for her book, Attorney by Day, Novelist by Night: Bring Your Book to Light While Still Practicing Law, is

Purchase on Amazon: Attorney by Day, Novelist by Night: Bring Your Book to Light While Still Practicing Law by Kimberly Benjamin

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Deborah Shouse and Caring for a Loved One with Dementia | Creative Activiti...

Deborah Shouse and Ron Zoglin talk to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by about their book, Connecting in the Land of Dementia: Creative Activities to Explore Together.

“What we really want in all our relationships is meaningful moments of connection.” ~Deborah Shouse

Deborah got involved with dementia when her mother was diagnosed with the condition, and she wrote a journal to help her get a handle on the situation, while Ron, for his part, got involved when, first, his mother, then his father, became similarly afflicted after Deborah’s mother had passed on.

It was at a literary gathering when Deborah had a reading of one of her pieces on dementia, and when, after that reading, several people came up to her, remarking that their own relatives were going through it. Both Deborah and Ron realized that there was a need to share such stories with the world. This became the basis of Deborah’s first book, Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver's Journey, and it was after that - and after watching the documentary, Alive Inside, when Deborah wrote Connecting in the Land of Dementia with Ron’s help, even though she originally wanted to write a book on Dan Cohen, the doctor featured in Alive Inside.

Deborah and Ron noted that creativity and imagination are still very much intact, and may even be heightened, in a person afflicted with dementia, even if the cognitive parts are no longer intact, and Deborah gathered information not only from people whose relatives had dementia but also from experts in the field, while doing research for this book. It became clear that new methods are presently being developed to enable those looking after people with dementia to connect with them, as the old methods of connection no longer work.

Ron noted that there have been lots of changes done in the field of dementia done in the past few years, and that these center around creative activities by which caregivers can connect with those they look after. Art, music, gardening, movement, poetry and other methods are used to enable such a connection and create something that both can do together, with Ron and Deborah mentioning stories where cooking and food was a way for caregivers and their charges to connect with each other. Deborah then noted that the caregiver has to accept the person they are looking after as they are, and must be the one to journey to where that person is, which takes practice.

Deborah noted that there is a social stigma associated to living with dementia, but that at the end of the day, our basic need to want to be active and engaged doesn’t stop with a cognitive impairment. She noted that “dementia” is actually an umbrella term that applies to different types of cognitive impairment, of which Alzheimer’s is just one type.

As connecting with people afflicted with dementia was something that Deborah and Ron experienced while looking after their own parents, and Ron remarks that the creative techniques presently available were those he wished he could have used while he was looking after his own parents, as these have just been newly brought out. Deborah noted that most people respond at some level to their favorite music, and that food is a common experience to everyone, hence its viability as a method of connecting.

Deborah was surprised by the breadth of ideas and activities that are explorable, and noted that open-ended questions can be used successfully to prompt people with dementia, as such questions don’t create judgment or let those with dementia feel that they’ll be corrected. Deborah remarks that caregivers need to connect with others to get the support they need, rather than feel isolated as they look out for their charges, to take care of themselves, and to appreciate the journey they are on, as it could be a wonderful, spiritual journey, while on the other hand, according to Ron, humor and flexibility are what are important for caregivers.

The website for Deborah Shouse’s and Ron Zoglin’s book, Connecting in the Land of Dementia: Creative Activities to Explore Together, is

Purchase from Amazon: Connecting in the Land of Dementia: Creative Activities to Explore Together by Deborah Shouse with Ron Zoglin

Monday, October 10, 2016

Monica Burch on Speedy's Strength, a Children's Book about a Fighting Fish

Monica Burch talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by about her book, Speedy's Strength, a children's book about a little Fighting Betta Fish.

“When you have to develop, it takes a little time and effort.” 
                                                                    ~ Monica Burch

The concept for Speedy’s Strength actually began several years ago, when Monica’s oldest son brought home a Betta Fish from his school to look after (“fish sitting,” in Monica’s words). Monica found Betta Fishes to be an interesting species and began writing a story based on that. The story grew as the years went by, with Monica telling her son these so often that her son began to complain about hearing about the fish yet again, and one of the interesting plot elements of the book - changing environments, and the possible changes in personality with this change - came about when her son changed schools. Where the main character is concerned, this change was from the somewhat freewheeling kind of fish, who did things differently before he was captured and put into a fishbowl, back into what he was bred to do, which was fight other fish.

Monica’s target readers are pre-kindergarten to third grade and she also wrote the book essentially for parents to read to their children. She remarked that it was written in such a way that people can pick up different stories or lessons from it, with one of the lessons being that one has to work to get what one wants, and another being that one needs to work on oneself to develop oneself, and yet another being that one can change one’s nature if one really applies oneself to doing so. She admits that she was influenced by her sons’ experiences in making the book, such as when she included a section on Speedy training after reflecting on her son’s training in the sport of fencing.

According to Monica, Betta Fishes are beautiful looking fish that have been bred by humans to fight, and there is a short section at the back of the book that gives more information on the species itself. She found it interesting that only one Betta Fish can be kept in a fishbowl at any one time, because of their aggressiveness, but in the wild they can coexist with other fish species. She admits she made a Betta Fish a protagonist because she liked such fishes a lot, and that she originally intended to write a fun, information-based book on Betta Fishes, remarking that she could have included a lot on technology in it had the book turned out that way.

Monica has two other Speedy stories possibly in the works, with one being a prequel of Speedy while he was with his family, before he was captured, and another where Speedy encounters a Robotix Spider Robot. She also wouldn’t mind seeing Speedy as a cartoon franchise character, remarking that such could teach important lessons to children, and hopes that it can be around for decades due to this.

You can find Monica’s book, Speedy's Strength, on, and can contact her at

Purchase from Amazon: Speedy's Strength, a children's book about a little fighting Betta fish by Monica Burch

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Gina Catalano on Tandem Leadership Management

Gina Catalano talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by about her latest book, Tandem Leadership: How Your #2 Can Make You #1.

“Execution is what’s going make your big idea a great idea.” ~Gina Catalano

Gina had run a few manufacturing companies before starting her own consulting business, where she noticed that entrepreneurs were brilliant with the product or service they delivered but struggled to build their business team, particularly with people who could do the duties they themselves did. Gina worked with these entrepreneurs, using the principles she learned to scale up their businesses.

The book, Tandem Leadership, was originally intended for entrepreneurs of small companies who are seeking to expand their business, but it turned out to be useful to anyone. It sprang from a comment made to her at a seminar, when someone told her that a book on leadership would help out companies that were struggling with their management team. As one of the reasons she wrote it was to help others whom she couldn’t help out in her consultancy business, Gina had originally created the book in a standard “how to” format. But after some conversations with her editor, she reverted to writing the book in storytelling format, akin to fiction, which was fine with her, since she had always thought of writing a novel. In addition to telling a part of the story and presenting the principles Gina wanted to point out, each chapter has a few questions for the reader to reflect on.

Gina agrees that not much attention is paid to the COO (#2) position where management books and doctrine are concerned and mentions that she originally intended to write Tandem Leadership from the point of view of the #2 organizational leader. She points out that even solopreneurs have key partners or a virtual assistant who acts as their #2 and that, over the course of her career, she has had the opportunity to be both a COO and a CEO. She uses the metaphor of the bicycle to make her point about how much easier the work is when two people are involved.

Gina remarks that, the sooner an entrepreneur thinks about the things that the entrepreneur is doing (which can be passed on to someone who can do the work for a lesser cost than the entrepreneur does), the better, even if hiring someone is still months down the road.
Gina works with entrepreneurs to create the future that appeals to them (such as having more time to be with their children) and which they can look forward to with all the available free time and resources that come with handing off some responsibilities to others and earning more money.

Gina admits that entrepreneurs usually don’t have a picture of what it’s like to have a #2, or what kind of #2 they would have. She remarks that #2s should complement the CEO rather than being just like the CEO (which emphasizes the blind spots both would have) or being the opposite of the CEO (which creates some loopholes). Gina says that CEOs are outwardly focused, while the COO is internally focused, is better at the CEO at some things, such as handling people, and are more interested in getting things done than in getting credit. She recommends that CEOs just tell their COOs what needs to be done and then let the COO to do things by themselves, rather than running close herd on them. Gina recommends that a CEO meets with his or her CEO regularly and effectively, meeting more often and in shorter time spans rather than getting involved in long meetings.

Gina is presently working on her next book, which is intended for #2s, and may also write something regarding succession in family businesses. She also remarks that being open to doing things in a different way, and then sticking with it long enough to master it, will get one further down the road than changing things every so often.

Gina Catalano’s website for her book, Tandem Leadership: How Your #2 Can Make You #1, is

Purchase on Amazon: Tandem Leadership: How Your #2 Can Make You #1 by Gina Catalano

Friday, September 16, 2016

Jennifer Reich on Why Parents Reject Vaccines

Jennifer Reich talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by about her latest book, Calling the Shots: Why Parents Reject Vaccines.

“In the end, parents see themselves as primarily responsible for their own children.” ~Jennifer Reich

Jennifer is a sociologist by training whose research, for the past twenty years, centers on how parents care for their families under the initial assumption that all parents do what they believe is right for their children. Her book, Calling the Shots was ten years in the making and focuses on the question of parents who refuse to have their children vaccinated over concerns over vaccine safety. Jennifer has spoken to parents on the decisions they make, to pediatricians about the care they provide, lawyers representing families who may have been harmed by vaccines and vaccine researchers, just to name a few, to get as many viewpoints as she could on the question of vaccinating children.

Jennifer’s first book was an exploration of the child welfare system, wherein she researched on legal issues about parenting, and it was while she was mulling over which topic to focus on that George W. Bush announced vaccinating people against smallpox as a counterterrorism measure. At the same time, there was an uprise in the issue of parents not wanting their children vaccinated, and Jennifer then latched onto these issues. She feels that the book is part of a conversation about the subject, one that opens up a dialogue by avoiding the polarizing tone that previous books on the subject have taken by being respectful of the various viewpoints around the issue.

Jennifer notes that vaccination allows parents to think about the legal aspects of parenting, as in the United States vaccination has been enforced through the school system since the 1960s, as the belief is that putting together several children in a schoolhouse increases the risk of infection, and vaccination is necessary for parents to access educational resources. That said, states allow for parents to opt out of vaccination for particular reasons, such as religious beliefs, and it is the latter that a lot of parents resort to in order to keep their children from being vaccinated.

Vaccination was around even before Edward Jenner conducted his ground breaking vaccination work, but the method back then was to use living smallpox viruses in an attempt to avoid smallpox infection, which sometimes caused the person so vaccinated to be hit by the disease itself. Edward Jenner, however, was the first person to use a non-infectious agent (the cowpox virus) to vaccinate against smallpox, and even then, the conversation around the pros and cons of vaccination was present. Jennifer points out that a threshold percentage of the population - eighty to ninety percent - need to be immunized to keep an infectious disease at bay, and that not everyone can be vaccinated, due to such reasons as personal physiology.

Jennifer points out that the concerns around vaccination stem from the present context of individual parenting, wherein the parent is responsible for everything about their children, and health is related to individual responsibility, and thus individual parenting. She points out that bad luck plays a role in one’s life, which is something that parents who attempt to control everything they could - a possible byproduct of the context of individual parenting - don’t fully understand, and that the reason that a lot of parents who choose not to vaccinate their children come from higher income families is because these parents can devote more time to their children’s concerns, rather than with making a living

The issue of whether or not to vaccinate thus stems from a larger issue about parenting, and Jennifer points out that public health isn’t personalized to individuals, whereas concerns about health vary from individual to individual, which is why some parents regard the public health system may not apply to their individual children. She also points out that, while the short-term concerns about possible adverse effects from vaccines have been debunked and that longer-term adverse effects are hard to relate, given the length of time between the time of vaccination and when these supposed effects do show up, Jennifer believes that better information should be given to parents to enable them to get a clearer picture of how useful vaccinations are, particularly since the issue is a contentious one amongst families, with the older generation, who lived through polio, finding it difficult to believe that the younger generation of parents don’t want their children vaccinated.

Jennifer believes that the conversation about vaccination now needs to be done in a context of lack of blame and disbelief and contentiousness, and also believes that parents who do have concerns should ask questions to clarify their issues.

Jennifer Reich’s website for her book, Calling the Shots: Why Parents Reject Vaccines, is

Purchase from Amazon: Calling the Shots: Why Parents Reject Vaccines by Jennifer Reich

Monday, September 12, 2016

Rachel Dunn on How Making Better Videos Creates More Clients

Rachel Dunn talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by about her latest book, Better Videos: Stand Out. Be Seen. Create Clients.

“Don’t listen to the limiting beliefs of what you think that thing stands for.” ~Rachel Dunn

Rachel has been in the television industry for over two decades now, and as early as the age of fifteen she knew she wanted to be a video director, which everyone around her, at the time, regarded with askance. She worked with a lot of TV stations and created a company, Girl Director, which she uses to help empower other people to create videos.

Rachel wanted her book to essentially be a kind of mentor to people who want to create videos and who have been in the video business for a long time but who might have lost sight of what they wanted, as well as people who haven’t done videos before and who are trying to create these. Rachel hadn’t intended to write a book, but after meeting with publisher Angela Lauria, she found that Angela’s goal of making a difference in writing was congruent with her own desire to make a difference with videos. She admits that writing out the book helped boost her confidence greatly and gave her an additional tool by which she could help others.

Rachel remarks that the technology, where making videos, has progressed greatly in the past few decades. As an example, just fifteen years ago, she needed to use huge machines in a studio or in a room in a building, whereas nowadays people can make a video on their laptop, wherever they are. She remarks that everyone can make videos as time goes on, with the communication eventually being “mind-to-mind.” The biggest market today is for businesses, with their creating content for their customers, with one kind of video being client testimonials.

Rachel remarks that people who make videos should know why they want to make the video in the first place, as a “how-to” video, for example, would be different from one intended to create clients, after which she then recommends that they create a strategy to make the most of the video. Rachel remarks that videos for business give others a snapshot of the business itself and see the person behind the business that they could relate to. She remarks that high-budget videos still exist, but the proliferation of easily accessible technology can enable anyone to create an ad that is similar to the kind that high-cost advertising firms can produce, which is why the latter are now facing challenges.

Rachel has had a lot of experience with clients who have transformed themselves, such as a client that was undercharging whom she was able to help see the value of his work. Rachel, herself, was transformed by video when she created a documentary on elephants, as she had felt insecure about being in front of the camera - and in the documentary, she needed to be in front of the camera.

To those who want to get into the video business, Rachel says that they should have a clear vision for themselves, and then do whatever it takes to get there. She also remarks that one shouldn’t listen to limiting beliefs in pursuit of their goal, then pick a niche that one is interested in and then do it well and charge their worth. Properly mentored, anyone interested in getting into the video industry can become proficient within a few months.

To someone who would want to create videos, Rachel would say, create emotion with the video and share a story about a mistake one has solved. She hopes that people would gain the confidence that they need, and foresees herself writing books about videos in the future, with possible developments that will make videos even easier to make and share. To those who are stuck in anything, Rachel remarks that she asks herself “What would it take to show up?” She remarks that the answer will pop into one’s mind if one just listens to it.

Rachel Dunn’s website for her book, Better Videos: Stand Out. Be Seen. Create Clients, is

Purchase on Amazon: Better Videos: Stand Out. Be Seen. Create Clients by Rachel Dunn

Friday, September 2, 2016

Monica Burch on Teaching STEM Using Robotics

Monica Burch talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by about her latest book, Inside ROBOTICS.

“When you work hard at something, you usually become better at it.” ~Monica Burch

Monica is an electrical engineer who had worked with several companies before deciding to stay home with her kids. She observed that they liked gaming and wanted to teach them some engineering concepts that she liked as an alternative to just playing video games. She discovered Robotix kits shortly after she set up her own company, ConstructU, and has found these to be handy when working with her own kids. She used the kits to work with other kids to teach them the essence of STEM - science, technology, engineering and mathematics - in a way they could easily understand and experiment with. Monica also notes that such early exposure would enable kids to handle such “hard” subjects as Physics when they encounter it later in their studies.

Monica founded ConstructU on the basis of creating a world where kids loved to learn and to create universal thinkers, where kids can learn hands-on, engineering activities as well as to expose them to STEM, as there presently isn’t much around at present to involve children where STEM is concerned. She teaches using Robotix kits that kids could easily incorporate into their lives - build, take apart, rebuild and take their creations home, teaching them, from the inside out, about the various things that would make a robot work and teaching the kids math and science along the way. Monica likes using the Robotix system because kids can relate to such things as toys and bricks to construct something, and because the kids can actually see what works and what doesn’t through a process of hands-on trial and error, enabling to retain what they’ve learned. She considers the kit to be an excellent teaching and learning tool.

Monica wrote Inside ROBOTICS from her realization (after speaking to several people) that a relatively inexpensive means of instruction (other than hiring her) would be useful to a lot of people attempting to teach STEM. The book is intended to be read and used by parents, teachers and just about anyone who would want to introduce kids to STEM. The book and the projects within are easy to follow. She found that writing the various steps involved was the most challenging part of writing for her, and she was thankful that she found people who would check her on this. Writing about the personal stories was both hard and easy, in that telling these were challenging, but their being around to be used by her were easy.

Monica is involved with the Maker Movement and considers her work to be a “Constructor Movement,” which she regards as a subset of the Maker Movement. Continuous learning is something that she believes is important to everyone, as people - particularly kids - essentially need to know what goes on in something in order to make it, with electrical circuits being the example she gave. As her work involves exposing everybody to STEM, she notes that even those without a scientific bent can get some familiarity with it through Robotix, pointing out that she recently held a course on programming which was attended by kids who were more interested in programming than in building things.

To those who would like to teach kids about STEM, Monica would say that the kids who are interested in this may not become engineers or scientists but can find positions in other fields, such as medical technology or even baking, and suggests researching the Internet, particularly the Future Channel, to see a list of professions and careers that are related to STEM.

Purchase from Amazon: Inside ROBOTICS by Engineer Monica Burch.