Monday, February 4, 2019

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

Title: It’s Time to Start Living with Passion! My Journey to Self Discovery
Author: Jean Paul Paulynice, MBA
Publisher’s contact info: INFO@PAULYNICECONSULTING.COM
Genre: Self-help/Inspirational
Publication Date: February 28, 2019
Price: (print, ebook, audio)
ISBN: 978-1-7335601-0-8 (Paperback) $12.99
ISBN: 978-1-7335601-1-5 (eBook) $6.99  
ISBN: 978-1-7335601-2-2 (Audiobook) $9.99

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

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

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

Interview with Dwaine Rieves, Author of 'Shirtless Men Drink Free'

Dwaine Rieves was born and raised in Monroe County, Mississippi.  During a career as a research pharmaceutical scientist and critical care physician, he began writing poetry and creative prose.  His poetry has won the Tupelo Press Prize for Poetry and the River Styx International Poetry Prize.  His writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Georgia Review and other publications.  He can be reached at

Tell us about your book! What is it about and what inspired you to write it?
Shirtless Men Drink Free is a novel about souls and the bodies that won’t let them go.  In more earthly words, the novel is the tale of three highly successful professionals altering their lives in attempts to redeem the troubling deaths of their parents.  The story is set in Atlanta 2004, when the state is in the midst of a gubernatorial election.  Dr. Jane Beekman’s mother has just died of an overlooked cancer while her husband Dr. Price Beekman must confront the reasons behind his father’s suicide, a suicide that just may impact the election of the state’s next governor.
In short, Shirtless Men Drink Free deals with how a parent’s death impacts his/her grown children—the need for making something noble or at least meaningful from the death.  As the book cover notes, Shirtless Men Drink Free makes vivid the human soul’s struggle in a world bedeviled by desire and the fears that leave us all asking—Why? 
Tell us about your publishing process. What was it like? Did you go indie or the traditional way?
What an experience to tell!  My novel is a work of literary fiction, so I initially sought the assistance of an agent experienced in this genre.  With the completion of a final working draft, I queried over 200 agents.  Yes—over 200!  The vast majority never responded.  Probably a dozen responded, and six requested the full manuscript.  The feedback I received from these six agents was consistent—“Dwaine, the writing is great and the story compelling; but it will be hard to sell this work.  The market is so tough now, unless you have a connection, a track record or fit clearly into a market niche, the big houses are just not going to take you on.  Sorry.”
Indeed, one well-known agent called to apologize for not being able to take on the novel because: “You just can’t write like this initially.  You have to have a track record of more accessible, popular novels.  Then, you maybe can go experimental with a traditional publisher.”
I have heard many versions of “sorry.”  Being a poet, I guess I’m used to rejection.  Too, I knew Shirtless Men Drink Free, would never be an “easy sell.”  It wasn’t supposed to be “easy.”  The novel makes no apology for its Southern soul, which is not an easy commodity for the market.
Shirtless Men Drink Free is being published by Leapfolio, an imprint of Tupelo Press, which published my first poetry collection. 
Leapfolio is a form of a hybrid press—a creature I had never heard of until Jeffrey Levine at Tupelo Press introduced me to the Leapfolio model. In this model, the press and the author invest time, sweat and finances into the book’s production.  I particularly like the model because Leapfolio allowed me to make the final sign-off on all aspects of the book’s production.  I have a friend who recently had a novel published by a traditional publisher, and I was surprised to hear of how little control the author had over the book’s presentation.  Perhaps I’m a control freak!  But after working twelve years on a novel, I sure wanted the final presentation to align with story itself.
How did you choose the title for your book? Did it come to you right away, before you started writing it, or did it come later?
Shirtless Men Drink Free is a slogan from the gay bar that has a role in the novel.  I chose the title—even at the risk of it sounding somewhat pornographic—because it carries a strong metaphor.  The freedom within quenching a thirst with no penalties or constraints of the world or body.  That title came to me at the close of the book, following discussions with my publisher.  Initially, I had considered solely Shirtless Men.  But, no doubt some readers would have been looking for pictures.
Tell us about the cover design process. Did you have a basic idea of what your book cover would be like?
I wanted the book cover to be engaging and coy—an image that suggests a mystery, some narrative awaiting discovery.  Of course, one idea was to picture a shirtless man, but no way!  That sort of image would have really carried us into the gay porn world, which would have disappointed a great many readers interested in a lurid story about shirtless men.  Instead, we settled on an iPhone image shot—a serendipitous discovery of a fairly typical man contemplating something serious.
Who is your cover designer and how did you find him/her?
I worked with the cover-design folks at Leapfolio, vetting many cover options—abstract images of artwork, digital creations, various photographs from museum pieces.  Ultimately, we settled on an image from my iPhone, a photograph I had taken because the light in that moment appeared almost magical in its redness.
How was your experience working with the designer?
Leapfolio was top-notch.  With the teamwork approach, I believe we achieved exactly what we were looking for in a cover.
What has been the readers’ response to your cover?
To date, readers have been engaged.  Red seems big this year, more saintly than bloody.
What tips would you give to authors who are looking for a cover designer?
Don’t settle for less than the “Yes, Indeed!” cover.  I believe the author should have the final say on any cover, although I also believe it is so useful to have others (cover designers or not) help vet the cover options. 
Anything else you’d like to say about your book?
Yes, Indeed!  Here are some of the advanced review comments:
“This is brilliant and rare work, as attentive to an absorbing plot as it is to a poetic, chiseled cadence."—Paul Lisicky, award-winning author of The Narrow Door: A Memoir of Friendship
“These characters are all too real. Rieves, as Faulkner, McMurtry and Larry Brown, writes people and story that will worm, burrow into you.  Change you even.” Adam Van Winkle, Founder and Editor, Cowboy Jamboree
“Vividly sensuous, this novel is full of textures, sounds and smells.  Rieves tells a terrific story with the sensitivity of a poet.” —Margaret Meyers, author of Swimming in the Congo
Published by Tupelo Press joint venture partner Leapfolio, Shirtless Men Drink Free will be published in trade paper (ISBN: 978-1-946507-04-4, 326 pages, $16.95) and eBook editions.  The novel will be available where fine books are sold, with an arrival on January 22, 2019.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Interview with Judge Debra H. Goldstein, Author of the Cozy Mystery 'One Taste Too Many'

Judge Debra H. Goldstein is the author of One Taste Too Many, the first of Kensington’s new Sarah Blair cozy mystery series. She also wrote Should Have Played Poker and 2012 IPPY Award winning Maze in Blue. Her short stories, including Anthony and Agatha nominated “The Night They Burned Ms. Dixie’s Place,” have appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies including Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Black Cat Mystery Magazine, and Mystery Weekly. Debra is president of Sisters in Crime’s Guppy Chapter, serves on SinC’s national board, and is president of the Southeast Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. Find out more about Debra at

Tell us about your book! What is it about and what inspired you to write it?

One Taste Too Many is the story of culinary challenged Sarah Blair, for whom there’s only one thing scarier than cooking from scratch—murder!

Married at eighteen, divorced by twenty‑eight, Sarah Blair reluctantly swaps her luxury lifestyle for a cramped studio apartment and a law firm receptionist job in the tired town she never left. With nothing much to show for the last decade but her feisty Siamese cat, RahRah, and some clumsy domestic skills, she’s the polar opposite of her bubbly twin, Emily—an ambitious chef determined to take her culinary ambitions to the top at a local gourmet restaurant.

Sarah knew starting over would be messy. But things fall apart completely when her ex drops dead, seemingly poisoned by Emily’s award-winning rhubarb crisp. Now, with RahRah wanted by the woman who broke up her marriage and Emily wanted by the police for murder, Sarah needs to figure out the right recipe to crack the case before time runs out. Unfortunately, for a gal whose idea of good china is floral paper plates, catching the real killer and living to tell about it could mean facing a fate worse than death—being in the kitchen!
Because I love cozy mysteries, those were the fun type of books I instinctively wanted to write. My first two efforts were published, but orphaned. Frantic, I talked with agents and editors who all advised me to “write something new.” The problem was what? My skills and familiarity with the usual cozy crafts or food topics was lacking. I decided to write what I knew - a cook of convenience who prefers making easy recipes like spinach pie using Stouffer’s spinach souffle and believes Peg Bracken’s “The I Hate To Cook” cookbook is the Bible.
Tell us about your publishing process. What was it like? Did you go indie or the traditional way?
My publishing process always began the traditional way. The new Sarah Blair series is completely traditional. When Maze in Blue was orphaned, I still had almost six months of speaking engagements lined up. In order to continue having print on demand books for these events, I republished the book through Create Space.
For me, the traditional manner of publishing, where I write the book and handle a lot of the pr, but turn over most of the details of the publication process, worked best. My decision was made after weighing the time limitations created by my job, volunteer and family obligations, and the learning curve it would have taken for me to acquire and coordinate the details necessary for indie publishing.
How did you choose the title for your book? Did it come to you right away, before you started writing it, or did it come later?
I’m usually horrible at titles, but in this case, One Taste Too Many was a natural because a mean character dies in the first few pages after having a taste of rhubarb pie.
Tell us about the cover design process. Did you have a basic idea of what your book cover would be like?
Kensington designed the cover (and I think they did an excellent job). When they asked for my input, I told them I wanted something simple that featured RahRah, the Siamese cat who is a major character in the book. Rather than an entire room design, I preferred open space on the cover. They nailed it.
Who is your cover designer and how did you find him/her?
Kensington has an art department. They asked for my suggestions, but then handled all the details of designing the cover.
How was your experience working with the designer?
Although I didn’t see the cover until it was finished, the process with Kensington was a pleasure. They listened to me and did an excellent job translating my wishes into an inviting cover.
What has been the readers’ response to your cover?
Readers’ response to the cover has been overwhelmingly positive. Many have told me the cat on the cover is a ringer for their own pets. I think the simplicity, plus the intriguing nature of the cat, combine to attract readers’ eyes to the cover.
What tips would you give to authors who are looking for a cover designer?
Although I didn’t have to seek out a cover designer, I would tell authors to ask friends who did their covers and to get references and prices before handing over the job. I also think it is important to have an open dialogue with the designer about the main themes in the book in case the designer fails to read the manuscript.
Years ago, I saw a well-designed cover that used a stock photo depicting the book’s setting. Anyone glancing at the book, immediately recognized the setting and the book sold well. When that same book was given a new cover after its mass market rights sold, the designer got hung up on a word I the title’s pun. The outcome had nothing to do with the book.
Anything else you’d like to say about your book?
One Taste Too Many is meant to be a fun read. It is the type of book one can enjoy at the beach, on an airplane, in the bathtub, during lunch hour or at night reading before bed. The protagonist, Sarah Blair, her cat, RahRah, and the other characters in One Taste Too Many are designed to become friends the reader will look forward to seeing evolve through the additional books in the series.