Friday, December 16, 2016

Felix Hartmann: Author of Dark Age, on Writing His Debut Novel

Felix Hartmann talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by about his book, Dark Age.

“The best way to make somebody think, to expand their paradigm, is by telling them a story and then making them immersed in it, and then they start to question.” ~Felix Hartmann

Felix is an immigrant who came to the United States in 2008, and even before then, in his native Germany, he loved writing stories as a child, recalling that he rewrote J. R. R. Tolkien’s works as a child and had been writing stories since then. He started writing Dark Age in 2012, originally as a video game which he would create in conjunction with his programmer brother, and it was influenced by the Arab Spring that took place in that year. As Felix continued to develop the story, he got more and more involved in it, so much so that his storymaking ran far ahead of his brother’s capacity to develop it. Felix counts Shakespeare, George Orwell, T. A. Barron (who replied to an e-mail Felix sent him) and Mary Shelley as his literary influences.

Felix is attracted to books that make him think, hence is being attracted to the kind of literature that others would call “dark,” as he doesn’t believe in stories where the good guy is all good and where the evil guy is all evil, but are rather complex individuals whose flaws and strengths show why they are who they are. Felix remarks that dark themes enable a more complex and thorough investigation of humans as they are, enabling him to challenge the reader’s paradigms, rather than the somewhat shallow treatment they would get in a sunny kind of storyline, and also points out that, in all his reviews to date, nobody has commented that Dark Age is “just like (this book).”

Where writing the book is concerned, Felix began with a bare outline and then let the story grow based on that outline, giving an interaction with some villagers in his book as an example, as that scene wasn’t included in his original outline. He mentions that the first draft is likely not to be the way the story will finally turn out to be, and that authors should know the beginning, know the end and then think two or three steps ahead. He says that he did at least a dozen rounds of editing and that the edits should revolve around the needs of the story.

Felix doesn’t believe that one should have just one passion, but should have several, and it shows in his life in that, in addition to being passionate about writing, he is also presently in his last year as a college student and is setting up his own company. He also remarks that writing a novel in his second language was a good way to practice English, noting that his first draft had a lot of errors in it, where the English language is concerned. He also notes that English is the best market to write a book in, noting that he has readers in places like Japan and Africa. He encourages writers to go ahead and put their books out in the world and remarks that, had he put out Dark Age two years previously, he would have gotten good feedback that would enable him to bring out a better second book that much sooner. Felix decries the attitude that reading should only be done in school, pointing out that reading books enables the expansion of the mind.

Felix Hartmann’s website for his book, Dark Age, is

Purchase from Amazon: Dark Age by Felix Hatrmann

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Kathrine LaFleur on Moonlight Hunting, Book 2 of The Cardonian Chronicles Fantasy Series

Kathrine LaFleur talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by about her book, Moonlight Hunting.

“One of the things I love about writing is when the characters take over and all I have to do is sit there and move the pen and they tell the story.” ~Kathrine LaFleur

Kathrine started writing early in life, and she counts, as her influences, Edward Ormondroyd, Edward Eager, Daphne du Maurier and Louise Penny. She dabbled in short stories before writing novels and only began writing with the intention of being an author around ten years ago, writing The Elephant Girl before writing the Cardonian Chronicles series. Kathrine admits that the series had had a lot of false starts, and that the plotline “came out of the characters,” rather than outlining an entire plot prior to writing the stories, which was a point of learning for her. She admits that writing the series required a lot more effort compared to the stories she had written before, because of more plotlines and characters to work on. The first book took a whole year to create, while writing the second book was somewhat easier. She needed to do a lot of research for her upcoming third book, as it takes place in the desert and she didn’t know much about desert environments.

Kathrine admits that she has been curious about telepathy since childhood, and she decided to make these natural in her world of Cardonia. She admits that the characters in the series come from people and characters whom she has known or read about, and her favorite is the protagonist, Moonlight, whom she remarks has her vulnerabilities and faults as well as strengths, just like ordinary people. Kathrine admits that writing about conflicts is somewhat difficult for her. That said, she admits that conflicts are necessary, particularly when she finds herself “writing in circles,” where the story then doesn’t progress.

Kathrine has a daily quota of pages to write, and she takes the time, after her day as a teacher, to go to a coffee shop where she reads for about an hour and then write for an hour or so before going home, preferring not to write at home because of all of the distractions there. Kathrine keeps notecards “around an inch thick” with notes on each character, as well as additional notes in her computer, which include details such as hair type and eye color, inventions they created and the like, to keep any loopholes from showing up. She admits that she’s concerned about maintaining consistency with what goes on amongst the characters rather than focusing on every single detail, and if these don’t correlate to reality, well, it’s not an issue for her since the book’s a work of fiction and the world within is her creation, after all.

With Moonlight Hunting, Kathrine has discovered that she’s capable of writing a fiction series, which seemed impossible for her to do five years ago. She hopes to write a mystery novel once she is done with the Cardonian Chronicles. To would-be authors, she says that it is better to try, (knowing that they might fail), than to not try at all, and that this could also apply to any dream that one has.

Kathrine LaFleur’s website for her book, Moonlight Hunting, is

Purchase from Amazon: Moonlight Hunting, 2nd book of the Cardonian Chronicles, by Kathrine LaFleur

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Yuki Oikawa on How The Laws of Justice Can Bring Peace

Yuki Oikawa talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by about Master Ryuho Okawa’s book, The Laws of Justice: How We Can Solve World Conflicts & Bring Peace.

“World peace should come from peace within.” ~Yuki Oikawa

Master Ryuho Okawa is a best selling author who writes on various topics, including lifestyle, spiritual and political issues, and is the founder of Happy Science, which is a spiritual movement, based on Buddhist principles but which also includes other religious principles, that was founded thirty years ago, in Japan. The subject of The Laws of Justice is politics, but one which has a uniquely spiritual viewpoint, and Happy Science itself also runs schools in Japan and has recently created a political party, the Happiness Realization Party, likewise also in Japan.

Yuki himself used to work in Merrill Lynch in New York, then joined a financial company in London, both in the capacity of a financial consultant, and it was then that he, as a Protestant, found Master Okawa’s books, became intrigued with the teachings and then joined Happy Science itself. He is presently the international director for the Happiness Realization Party. Although raised as a Christian, he became aware of various other spiritual views.

The Laws of Justice takes note of all the conflicts that are presently ongoing in the world, and Master Okawa wrote it with the thought of getting back to the starting point of what justice is, which should come from God’s will. Although the book covers politics, it is directed more towards ordinary people so they could understand politics from a spiritual context. Yuki points out, as an example, that Christians don’t have enough knowledge about Islam to understand it, and vice versa, that solving the problem of conflict between the two religions requires one to open one’s mind, and that justice is essentially an awareness of what is right and what is wrong from the point of view of God’s will. That said, the book doesn’t specifically state any particular laws of justice but is more of a way for a reader to discover the laws of justice on one’s own, through meditation and similar spiritual practices, as Master Okawa believes that, by finding the answers on one’s own - and Yuki admits that finding such answers isn’t easy - one can achieve peace and, from there, help humanity progress towards international harmony.

Yuki then ventured that there may be no such thing as absolute right or wrong, but that we need to seek better answers to better divine God’s will. He also noted that the human mind is not perfect and is full of negative thoughts, and that we human beings have the tremendous potential hidden within our minds and the ability to develop this, which is where mediation can come into play. He then ventured a bit into the present issues around Asia and the United States, and where the American election of November 8, 2016 is concerned, he ventured that Donald Trump would be a better American president where Asia is concerned, as Hillary Clinton would maintain the status quo, which would be detrimental to Asia particularly where China is concerned, and Japan is presently concerned with North Korea and extremist groups in Asia. He also favors Trump to create a new relationship with Putin, particularly where Japan’s imminent signing of a peace treaty with Russia is concerned, as Putin seems to regard Japan in a friendly light.

To anyone who desires justice, particularly when it comes to redressing a wrong suffered, Yuki would say that God is still alive, and that God loves that person, to remind one of god’s existence.

Master Ryuho Okawa’s website for, The Laws of Justice: How We Can Solve World Conflicts & Bring Peace, is

Purchase from Amazon: The Laws of Justice: How We Can Solve World Conflicts & Bring Peace by Ryuho Okawa

Monday, October 31, 2016

Lisa Danylchuk on Recovering from Trauma and Stress

Lisa Danylchuk talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by about her book, Embodied Healing: Using Yoga to Recover from Trauma and Extreme Stress.

“The slower you go, the faster you get there.” ~Lisa Danylchuk on Embodied Healing

Lisa is both a licensed marriage and family therapist and a registered and certified yoga teacher who has worked with various people, such as those in low-income areas, on issues related to stress. She wrote the book so she could reach those whom she couldn’t reach directly. It is primarily intended for those people who deal with those suffering from trauma, giving a foundation of treatment and yoga philosophy, as these presently exist, to help those suffering from trauma. There was no single incident that made Lisa think about writing the book; rather, it was a long-time process that arose from her yearning to write a book.

Lisa noted that stress is not necessarily a bad thing, as a certain degree of such is necessary in our daily life and is good for us. Extreme stress and trauma, however, impacts the entire human system - mind, body, energy, spirit - particularly the nervous system, which gets either hyper-aroused (which results in such emotions as anxiety and anger) or hypo-aroused (a parasympathetic reaction which results in such emotions as depression and dissociation, or numbness and “checking out”). She notes that traumas can spring from physical threats (such as physical violence) as well as emotional threats (such as bullying), and that different people respond differently from the same situation - depending on personality, how they were raised and other factors, with one person suffering long-term trauma from one situation while another would just shrug it off.

Lisa stresses that such reactions are a normal human reaction to an abnormal environment or situation, such as physical abuse in the home and chronic violence next door, and the treatment depends on how the person so traumatized reacts, rather than on the situation itself. A proper treatment thus needs to be tailored to the individual concerned, and knowing what questions to ask and what choices to make are thus very important.

Lisa noted that different populations have different percentages of people who suffer from trauma, and she remarked that, while trauma has been a recognized condition ever since it was first labeled as “shell shock” in World War I, the traditional therapies, which included electroshock therapies, weren’t based on a full understanding of trauma, and were thus crude. Lisa noted that, even in the past twenty years, trauma treatment has progressed a great deal, but that there also is more to learn. She also remarked that she has a wide variety of methods she can use and chooses the particular treatment for a particular patient, and that shame is still a major obstacle for people who are seeking help for trauma, which makes a good relationship between the patient and the therapist vital to the process itself.

To someone who is suffering from stress, Lisa would first ask how they want to feel, and that, as instilling hope is very important, she would then tell them that it is possible to heal and recover from trauma, that there is help available out there and that they should get help. Lisa notes that those who have healed from their traumas are happy to share their experience, and that trauma is not about the person involved, since bad things happen to anyone.

Lisa wants to write a book on healing in general in the future.

Lisa Danylchuk’s website for her book, Embodied Healing: Using Yoga to Recover from Trauma and Extreme Stress, is

Purchase from Amazon: Embodied Healing: Using Yoga to Recover from Trauma and Extreme Stress by Lisa Danylchuk

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. 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

D.J. Bodden on Writing Black Fall, Volume One of the Black Year Vampire Saga

D.J. Bodden talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by about his book, Black Fall, Volume One of the Black Year Vampire Saga.

“If you have this perfect line, say it, and if you have this perfect action, do it.” ~D.J. Bodden

D.J. had a very varied childhood, being born in the Cayman Islands and then spending his childhood in Monte Carlo and being educated in the French educational system. It was when he was seventeen that he realized that he didn’t particularly take well to the thought of the career track that he foresaw being laid out for him with that system, as he was a storyteller at heart. Being a Marine veteran, D.J. remarked that military veterans had a lot of stories to tell, even those they didn’t tell anyone else, and was attracted to the stories behind the boxes full of “neat things” that they had. He spent thirteen years in the military, which he was able to do as he held both British and American passports, and it was while he was in the naval academy that one of his professors suggested that he major in literature.

It was towards the end of his final deployment in Afghanistan that he wrote his first book, one which, he admits, was “horrible.” He then worked with editor Michael Garrett, Stephen King’s first editor, who gave him a great deal of constructive advice. D.J. then spent the next two years after that researching and working on his craft as a writer, as well as becoming an editor, helping other writers. It was while he was doing that when he met with writer Joe Cleveland, who came to him with a concept which D.J. became invested in, to the point that he began altering the story, with Joe Cleveland’s assent, and made it more his own. Joe ultimately didn’t like the direction the story was taking, so when Joe offered to essentially sell the rights to D.J. for a particular sum, D.J. took the offer; and it was thus that Black Fall came into being.

D.J. was familiar with the classic stories of vampires, such as Bram Stoker’s Dracula and The Vampire Lestat, so he found the kind of vampires in such stories as Twilight somewhat funny. For him, vampires are intellectual creatures that are outliers of human society, and through the book, he explored what it would be like to have such creatures exist in the practical, everyday world we all live in. He also.notes that various literary movements become popular because people, at the time these movements are popular, wrestle with questions about certain sectors of society which are reflected in these movements, and it is in this context that D.J. writes about vampires.

D.J. took six weeks, after buying Joe out, revising it so that it would be the start of a book series, which is designed to follow the lead character, Jonas Black, from adolescence to his sixties, through literally world-changing events that also change him. The characters in the final version of the book aren’t as originally conceptualized by Joe Cleveland, in conformance with the change in the concept of the story. He filled out the characters’ back stories in particular, such as the one for Doris, to make them more three-dimensional than they had originally been, noting that he spent “thousands of hours” doing research and re-imagining the characters. He hated the kind of style that focused on setting, which he experienced while learning French literature, and so focuses on a more visual style of description, keeping the descriptions of setting at a minimum.

D.J. believes that a reader should never be bored, and points out that people buy the books in the series one day after the other; and it is for the reason of “trying not to get people bored” that he cuts out any scene that he gets bored with. D.J. also remarks that he learned something new every single day when he was writing the book, admitting that he is obsessed about the characters and the story when he is working on them, and that some of the most important story points came while he was just walking around.

D.J. advises that people approach everything, particularly things which they have assumed to be true all their lives, as if they were approaching it for the first time, without any preconceived notions, and that, once one has figured out what one needs to do, then one should do it, as one might never get the chance again.

You can find Black Fall on D.J.’s website,

Purchase on Amazon: Black Fall by D.J. Bodden

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Hiroshi Yaita: Getting into The Heart of Work by Ryuho Okawa

Hiroshi "Henry" Yaita talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by about Master Ryuho Okawa’s latest book, The Heart of Work: 10 Keys to Living Your Calling.

“Try to follow the ten keys in this book. You will see your workplace in a different way.” ~Hiroshi "Henry" Yaita

Happy Science was founded in Japan by Master Okawa in 1986, with the intention to enable people all over the world to find happiness in their lives. Since then, it has expanded to several countries in Europe and Asia, in the United States and in Russia, and is presently expanding into education and politics.

Henry himself was with a company that traded in metals some thirty years ago and wasn’t very happy with it, because he had some conflicts with his superiors when his mother loaned him a book by Master Okawa, and after applying those teachings his attitude towards work changed. He then joined Happy Science as a member and became a full-time staff member in 1994, as he was excited by the possibilities of spreading, throughout the world, the concepts that had changed his life.

Master Okawa attained enlightenment and, according to Henry, has written 2,100 books in Japanese based on what he learned, particularly after 1991, when he was finally able to converse with spiritual beings and was convinced that spirituality was needed as a foundation for human happiness. Master Okawa himself used to work in a trading company in Japan and was assigned to New York to work there, thus gaining knowledge of Western business practices as well as Japanese business practices, and as such, wrote the book so that people all over the world, be they ones who follow Japanese or Western work ethics, can be helped by the ideas within.

The Heart of Work was originally intended for up-and-coming young businessmen who wanted to achieve success, but it is actually intended for everyone, be they employees, housewives or entrepreneurs. According to Henry, the book is based on a deep understanding of humans as beings who come from the spiritual world and who have an objective to fulfill while they’re on the Earth, based on a life plan that we created before coming to this physical plane, and recognizes that we, as humans, seek out work as a fundamental aspect of being human. Henry also notes that, perhaps the most important key noted in the book is the one where work and love are related (Chapter 5 in the book), as, according to Master Okawa, work and love are the same, and that love should be the basis of all relationships with other humans, particularly since no one can do their work or achieve their objectives alone, and creating and maintaining relationships thus essential to one’s success.

One’s calling is what one intends to achieve in one’s lifetime, and Henry remarks that one can determine what one’s calling is based on one’s own interests and skills. He also mentions that one can know what one’s calling is by figuring out which activities give one pleasure through experience, such as going through several jobs, and that one needs to find one’s inner desires and strengths through inner reflection. To those who are dissatisfied with their work and their lives, Henry points out that people think about what they can get from their workplace, such as praised and promotions, but this isn’t the way to achieve happiness and success. Focusing on other people’s needs and serving these from the standpoint of wanting other people happy, however, enables one to find pleasure, happiness and gratitude. He also emphasizes that the work we do is a blessing from God, who wishes us to find the pleasure of creation through work, and that jobs aren’t punishment but ways by which we could attain this pleasure of creation.

Translating Master Okawa’s books is the main thrust outside Japan, and according to Henry, five such translated works will be published this year, such as a book on justice and two others on meditation and enlightenment.

Master Okawa’s book can be found on and at

Purchase on Amazon: The Heart of Work: 10 Keys to Living Your Calling by Master Ryuho Okawa

Friday, August 5, 2016

Rory Flynn on His 2nd Eddy Harkness Detective Novel, Dark Horse

Rory Flynn talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by about his latest book, Dark Horse, an Eddy Harkness detective novel.

“All good writing is just bad writing that’s been edited.” ~Rory Flynn

Rory likes to write dark fiction generally in the category of crime, but he has been writing short stories since he was child, and he having read the works of such authors as Agatha Christie and Georges Simenon. He was a crime reporter for a few years and thus got a bit of an insight into police work, and he released his first novel in 1992; Dark Horse is actually his seventh book (the first five were released under his real name), and the second in a planned ongoing series.

Rory, along with several others, founded Concord Free Press, which is a publishing house that has a unique approach to book distribution. It is based on the concept of a gift economy, and authors publish their original works and give these away for free through the press, while still retaining the rights to their stories. The paperbacks are delivered free to the book’s buyer, even free of shipping charges, and in exchange, the buyer of the book is encouraged to donate to a worthy charity or do some act of active generosity. The Press has been very successful, as Rory remarks that millions of dollars have been raised for various charities, such as the rebuilding from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, with one of the most successful ones written by Gregory Maguire, who wrote the novel Wicked, on which the play was based. His book proved to be so popular that the press needed to allocate particular times to handle the volume of requests.

The series of which Dark Horse is the second book for revolves around the work of the lead character Eddy Harkness, and Rory intends that all of titles in that book are those of fictional illegal drugs. His characters are all quirky in their own particular ways and also have their own particular mannerisms, and Rory just loves putting them together in a scene to let them just go. He also notes that drafts enable him to figure out just how much the characters will show up, and that writing enables him, as with all writers, to explore the various aspects of human character and relationships, both bad and good.

Rory notes that the drugs featured in his books are fictional ones, and also notes that drugs are part and parcel of American life unfortunately, with a lot of Americans under the age of 14 already abusing one form or another. Corruption, Rory remarks, is found all over the world, and while his experience as a crime reporter gave him an insight into how police operate, he admits he only wants to get the details plausible, rather than get bogged down in the details and minutiae of policing. He admits that the cops in his books would not be found in the real world as his creative license makes them too different and that Eddy Harkness, if he were real, would likely get fired for his actions in the book.

For Rory, writing a book is second nature, with each one being an evolution from an idea to exploration and to the final product, and while he realizes that the job of the writer is to engage others. He also tells young writers that, just because a topic is interesting to them, it may not be interesting to others and challenges them to constantly ask the question, "Who would care?" where the topic is concerned. Where Rory is concerned, the world is "endlessly fascinating," so if he gets interested in a topic, he might get a story from it, although he does want to make sure that the story hasn’t been written before and wants to make sure that others would be interested in it.

Rory Flynn’s website for his book, Dark Horse, is

Purchase on Amazon: Dark Horse an Eddy Harkness Novel by Rory Flynn

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Cassie Parks on Manifesting Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000) & What You Want in Life

Cassie Parks talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by about his book, Manifest $10,000: Learn How to Manifest $10,000 by Using the Law of Attraction and Improving Your Money Mindset.

“It’s possible to create whatever you want to create.” ~Cassie Parks

Cassie grew up in a family where her father worked eighty-hour weeks to make the money he did, and not surprisingly, she thus grew up believing that it was hard to make money and that she would never have enough money. While working sixty-hour weeks and spending money on things that she didn’t love just so she could enjoy the feel of spending money, she decided to work on her mindset and used the techniques she would eventually teach in her “Manifest 10k” program to become financially independent, and she now views money as sacred and spends forty hours a day working on coaching, which is something she loves and which, for her, isn’t something she views as hard work.

Manifest $10,000 comes from Cassie’s experience with running her “Manifest 10k” program, where she worked with people to change their money mindset and attract more money into their lives. The book outlines the process that Cassie had been teaching, and she was inspired to write the book from all the results the people who undertook her program actually experienced, to help others who could use the principles within. She chose $10,000 as the target as it is reachable but not overwhelming (compare working for getting $10,000 in 90 days to getting $2,000,000 in 90 days, for example) and which will require people to stretch themselves. Although she doesn’t have exact numbers, Cassie estimates that the average person who takes her program averages $2,500, which is still a substantial amount, although she notes that some of her clients have manifested as much as $100,000. She remarks that the exact amount depends on how much her client had been using the Law of Attraction.

According to Cassie, one’s thoughts and beliefs about money will determine how money is attracted to a person. An unsuccessful mindset consists of such thoughts and beliefs as money being hard to get, “I’m never gonna make it,” “Can’t do this,” and this has an impact on people, in that, even if a person with that mindset can attract a lot of money, something will happen where they will need to spend the money they attracted. A successful money mindset is based on trust, one where one believes that one will always have money, and where one is capable of handling and honoring money. She also notes that self-love is also involved with a successful money mindset, wherein one believes that one is worthy of that money and the life that one wants.

For Cassie, the Law of Attraction is basically that like attracts like; thus, how one comes across to the world determines what is attracted to one, which she remarks is something like the way magnets work. She also notes that there is a neurological aspect to using the Law of Attraction, in that our brains see only that which we want it to see, because the brain can’t process everything, and this creates the filters which either hinder or help us discover opportunities that would enable us to achieve financial independence. She notes that people need to work on the Law of Attraction for more than three or four days to attain permanent results and that our brain works best when given a lot of information, so visualization and feeling are very important when it comes to attaining one’s goals. With regard to goals, Cassie remarks that one shouldn’t just think of manifesting $10,000 but should also be clear on what that money is for, for the process to become truly successful, as people don’t want $10,000 itself but what that money can buy.

For Cassie, writing the book has enabled her to reflect on the first eighteen months she ran her program and made her present to how much she had come as a coach.

People can register for Cassie’s “Manifest 10k” program at, and while only $1 is the initial registration fee; the rest is 10% of whatever one manifests.

Cassie Parks’s book, Manifest $10,000: Learn How to Manifest $10,000 by Using the Law of Attraction and Improving Your Money Mindset, can be found on

Purchase on Amazon: Manifest $10,000: Learn How to Manifest $10,000 by Using the Law of Attraction and Improving Your Money Mindset by Cassie Parks

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Petter Amundsen and the Oak Island Treasure Revealed in Hidden Codes in Shakespeare

Petter Amundsen talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by about his book, Oak Island & the Treasure Map in Shakespeare.

“The search for the Oak Island treasure has been a treasure in itself for me.” ~Petter Amundsen

Petter Amundsen is a church pipe organist by profession, and while he admits that may be a strange profession for someone writing a book on hidden treasure, he remarks that his training as an organist is similar to that of a symbologist, as it includes learning about languages and symbols.

Petter’s initial experience with Shakespeare didn’t impress him, but while he came across a story about a cipher on Shakespeare’s gravestone while investigating the stocks and futures markets, he became so fascinated with this that he dropped his investigation into stocks and futures to pursue the cipher angle. He bought a facsimile of Shakespeare’s original folio of thirty-six plays and when he began looking for cryptic patterns, he found several, not only in the original folio of thirty-six plays but also in the original collection of Shakespeare’s sonnets, which translated to a celestial map that could correlate with locations on the ground.

Cygnus or The Northern Cross with the star, Deneb.
The pattern he found is a square-and-compass celestial pattern that mimics some aspects of some societies such as those of the Masons, and Petter then mentioned features that locked in a source point on the map, such as the star Deneb. Petter then went on to say that, if the original zero meridian of the day was used, one which ran through west of the Canary Islands rather than the modern-day meridian based on Greenwich, that celestial point corresponds to the coast of modern-day Nova Scotia, on Oak Island itself.

Petter noted that the Rosicrucians probably had a hand in the publication of Shakespeare’s portfolio, and notes that the Rosicrucians created patterns in their own publications of the day and invited people to search for these. So for them to place patterns in Shakespeare’s work wouldn’t be far-fetched. Petter theorizes that Shakespeare wasn’t the author of all of his plays, acting more like a “front man” for the speculated actual three authors of the plays attributed to him, pointing out that the children of the man called William Shakespeare were illiterate - something that would be highly unusual for someone who virtually codified the English language.

The Money Pit in 1931. 
Petter gave a brief rundown of the official, historical story behind the supposed discovery of the Oak Island Money Pit, remarking on the various layers that the original diggers had discovered as they went deeper down. He then remarked that the people who got involved with finding the supposed treasure in the Money Pit spent or are spending all of their lives attempting to get it. He notes that there are different theories on the exact location of the Money Pit, and that, around the present site, there have been many cave-ins. Petter speculated that a lot of people had to be involved in creating the Money Pit, including slaves and convicts, likely from Spain, selected specifically for a lack of understanding of English in order to maintain secrecy, and, as mining was done in the area at the time, going deep shouldn’t have been a problem for the available technology.

Petter Amundsen has put an X mark on Oak Island where there could be hidden treasure. It coincides with a point on the Magnetic Resonance Image map of the island revealed on The Curse of Oak Island show on the History Channel, which shows a junction of underground tunnels.

Petter then went into the cross pattern discovered by Fred Nolan, a land surveyor who had the entire island mapped with the help of students during one summer. It was in 1981 when he realized that there were five large boulders, each one weighing at least ten tons. Petter noted how the lengths of the arms were exactly 360 feet distant (with the number 360 being mathematically significant) and that the boulders most likely refer to five of the ten points in the Sephiroth, the Tree of Life, which is a cabalistic symbol - and the Rosicrucians were Christian cabalists. He then went on to say that, when Fred Nolan dug into the ground at the intersection of the paths created by the stones, he found a sandstone block, and Petter himself, during an expedition with Oak Island stakeholders, brothers Rick and Marty Lagina (for the History Channel show, The Curse of Oak Island), found two more stones possibly related to the Sephiroth. Petter hypothesizes that the stones discovered will indicate the X that marks the spot of what he believes is the entrance to the cave complex that holds the treasure.

Petter remarked that the quest for the treasure has been a treasure in itself for him, as he learns something new each time he investigates.

Petter Amundsen’s book, Oak Island & the Treasure Map in Shakespeare, can be found on

Purchase on Amazon: Oak Island & the Treasure Map in Shakespeare by Petter Amundsen