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Friday, December 21, 2018

An Interview with Marcy Stone

Available on Amazon and where books are sold
Q. Does writing energize or exhaust you?
I find writing energizing and healing

Q. Does a big ego help or hurt writers?
I would think a big ego would hurt you regardless of whether you are a writer or not. The balance needed is not there and you would become righteous in your words vs. compassionate.

Q. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
No, because what I write is personal and is to help people find their way in time of personal crisis. That means to me that they need truth and to know who is behind the words and have I walked my talk so to speak.

Q. Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
No, that would feel unauthentic. I write from the heart.

Q. Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly? 
To me, writing is a form of communication a message with passion just like music lyrics and art. 

Q. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
While the “The Voice of an Angel” can definitely stand alone, I do feel another book coming that can align with it nicely as it shares the before and how we lived. But in the backwards “Star Wars” kind of way (meaning the order will be backwards, getting the end first and then how we did it after)  The cookbook, “The Best of Both Worlds Cookbook, Heavenly Recipes with a Healthy Twist”, will be a series of sorts. We plan on creating a few more bite-size books in 2019 with healthy options in honor of those that we lost.

Q. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be? 
Be kind to yourself and have patience. Know, going into writing, that you are going to uncover some pretty cool things about yourself that you may not have realized before. Have faith that you can accomplish anything, ESPECIALLY on the tough days.

Q. How did publishing your first book change your process of writing? 

I am no longer worried about making a mistake. The process of writing and publishing can be intimidating the first time around but once you find comfort in the process, you can find ways to simplify. 

You can pick up a copy of her latest book "The Voice of an Angel" on Amazon


About Marcy Stone
Following the tragic death of her youngest daughter, Marcy's world shattered, but she knew her Angel was watching over her helping her take that first step, and then the next. This book shares how she found her way through her loss and how she continues to move forward.

Marcy is an accomplished Intuitive Life Guide for over 15 years and holds advanced certificates in several healing modalities in addition to having over 17 years of business leadership experience.

She is a lifetime student of the healing arts and brings her passion for growth and self-empowerment into her work and life. Marcy is married has two beautiful daughters, one that walks with her and one that watches over her.
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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

An Interview with Ray Rao

         Ray Rao spent his formative years in India before coming to America over three decades ago to become an award-winning academic endocrinologist. His abiding love for India's history, traditions, and people underpins a deep understanding of its spectrum of religious and ethnic contrasts, ranging from the sublime to the grotesque.
         Bloodbath is the first in a planned series of suspense thrillers set at the intersection of his intimate knowledge of Indian society, his life experiences as a world traveler and physician, and his study of the martial arts. He is widely published, and the author of over forty medical publications, including a book on the unique influence of culture and tradition on medical education in Japan.

Q. Does writing energize or exhaust you? 
        It energizes me!  I love getting deep into creating something that reflects my unrequited dreams of adventure. There is a lot of hard work involved, of course, like the research required to create a factually accurate backdrop of history and location or to craft realistic combat sequences.  But once in a very great while, you find yourself in a zen state in which the story flows almost effortlessly for a few pages—when you don’t have to think what you are writing about and the only thing holding you back is how fast your fingers can type. That occurs less than 1% of the time, but those all-too-rare magical moments are what make the grunt work required for the remaining 99% totally worthwhile!

Q. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? 
        Yes, I did consider it initially.  I assumed—wrongly as it turns out!—that using the same name for both my fictional and professional writing might somehow diminish the latter’s gravitas. I abandoned the idea, realizing that each stands on its own, creating an alliterative version, Ray Rao, by dropping my middle name and using a short form of the first.

Q. Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly? 
        Definitely not.  If you can’t feel your characters’ emotions—their fears, hurt, joy, anger, sorrow—yourself, they can never come through to your reader in the words you write.

Q.   Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
        Definitely the latter! I feel far too invested in my characters to stop at one book—it would be like killing them off if I didn’t continue their saga! 

Q.   How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? 
         The second book in the series, titled “Swordplay”, is in the final stages of editing by me, before I send it to my professional editor to shrink even further.  The third, tentatively titled “Payback”, is in the early stages of conception.

Q.   Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?
        Yes, it is, in the sense that it relates to the inner spirit, with no religious connotation. To my way of thinking, writing can be compared to a form of yoga.  It is, in many ways, a form of meditation—an intellectual pursuit that calls for dedication, commitment, persistence and, above all, the conquest of frustration, and acceptance of failure (rejection). 

Q.   What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
        “The biggest challenge any man can face: (is) trying to realistically portray a woman’s thoughts and feelings.”  That is what I wrote in acknowledging in Bloodbath the debt I owe to my wife and two daughters.  Their withering critiques of “my cluelessness” taught me how to realistically portray the reactions of my female protagonist. Therefore, any authenticity I may have achieved is directly attributable to the three wonderful women to whom Bloodbath is dedicated.

Q.  What was your hardest scene to write?
        The scene I found most difficult to write was the first meeting between Alexis and her father, Jonathan.  I actually wrote it only after the rest of the book was written.  It was my first experience with writer’s block, finding now way to reconcile her hatred of him for his perceived betrayal, with his lifelong obsession with rejecting any claim of filial relationship as out-and-out fraud.  The ‘aha’ moment came when I conceived the idea of Jonathan’s ‘ghosts’, leading to a shattering realization that, but for that obsession, he might have found the daughter he never knew he had.  Then, the scene came together

Q.   What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
        Staying grounded in the need to keep the reader’s needs at the forefront as you write the story—I find that I can sometimes be so seduced by the characters and plot that I end up adding details and descriptions that might be interesting to me, but are actually unnecessary, maybe even boring, for the reader.  Guarding against that can be difficult when you get wrapped up in your writing!

Q.   Does your family support your career as a writer?
        I would never have been able to write without the unqualified support of my wife. It is a measure of her strength and love that I was able to do it while also pursuing a full-time career as an academic physician.  Her commitment to me and my writing never flagged, despite my spending many late nights and weekend evenings in seclusion.

Q   Do you believe in writer’s block?
        Yes, I do—I have experienced what I believe was writer’s block.  I was halfway through writing my second book, Swordplay when I suddenly hit a dead end.  I knew how the book was going to end but I had no idea how to get there from where I got stuck.  So, I just wrote the ending, thinking the connection would fall in place if I did.  It didn’t, even though I made many unsuccessful attempts to write that part.  Each successive attempt turned out to be worse than the other, so I finally gave up trying and left it unfinished for several months.  Then, one day it just hit me and I started writing again and everything fell in place almost effortlessly.  That, I believe, qualifies as writer’s block.

Q.   Were you good at English?
        I had the good fortune to attend a school run by Irish priests in India, and complete my high school education with a diploma from Cambridge University, with honors in English Language, and English Literature, including such greats as Shakespeare, Dickens, Keats, Tennyson, Wordsworth.  Growing up at a time and in a country without TV, and with parents who were highly educated and fluent English speakers, I read classical literature in my spare time, enjoying the works of Stevenson, Defoe, Sewell, Verne, Hardy, Austen, Dumas, and so many others.

Q.   What are you working on at the minute?
        The final edit of Swordplay, my second book involving the series.

Q.   How much research do you do?
        Extensive background research is essential to maintain the authenticity of plot details involving weapons and ordnance, as well as martial arts maneuvers. For instance, it took me almost two years to track down one obscure book on weaponry in India in the late nineteenth century to verify that an extremely small number of highly-skilled Gurkha warriors did learn to throw the kukri, an unwieldy machete-like weapon.

Q.   Why do you write?

        To satisfy a long-held desire to express myself creatively in the written word (as opposed to professionally).

You can also find Ray on Amazon:
Official website for the book:

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Saturday, December 1, 2018

An Illustrated Overview of the Bible

An Illustrated Overview of each Chapter of each Book of the Bible, using the shape of the chapter's number as an illustration.

If you are like me, you would like to say like the Psalmist in chapter 119:11 "I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.", and like me this is something that you struggle with.

You would be amazed to find that most Christians do not know the word of God... We know some verses here and there but we don't know where to find them, the context in which they are in or much of what the book is about... This is an attempt to provide all believers with a basic overview of the Bible.

This idea came to me when in Discipleship I was tasked to memorize several key verses, themes and outlines of various books of the Bible. Though I memorized the verse word by word I couldn't remember its book, chapter and verse.

Struggling with the method of repetition I started sketching things that would remind me of the verses I was trying to memorize... The chapter numbers and verses only stuck to short term memory, so... I started using the shape of the numbers as a key reference as to remember what they were about, and it worked for me! If you are a visual learner like me, I hope this would be of benefit to you.

I call it, "An Illustrated Overview of the Bible"

If you think you should help, please visit the Kickstarter page here to learn more. 
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An Interview with Tom Whitesel

    During my 17 months of recovery, God did several miracles in my life. I have never personally experienced the uniqueness and frequency of God’s moving, as He did for me during those months of recovery. I'm happy to share them with you now. 
    - Pastor Tom Whitesel

     Q.On your Websites, you mention that you experienced burn-out while in ministry. What led to your burn-out?   
      A. I started working a second job, to help the church with expenses. I received health insurance from my second job so that the church did not have to pay my insurance. I thought it would last about 1 year. It ended up being 5 years. My body eventually shut me down. I had nothing left. I unexpectedly had to resign from my church position of over 20 years. Since it was all unexpected, I had no plans of what to do next. I had no job lined up. My church had promised me 6 months of pay to help me recover. After a month of my leaving, attendance and finances had dropped so much, that they told me that they could no longer afford to keep their commitment to me. I had barely begun the process of recovery and I was in no condition to be looking for another job in ministry. So, I had no job, and no money coming in.

Q. What did you do next?
A. The day after I resigned from my church, a local pastor called me just to see how I was doing. He did not know me well, but was concerned about me. He wanted to have breakfast with me to talk about things. He was heading out of the country and his schedule was totally full for one month. We agreed to meet in one month. Our scheduled meeting was THE DAY AFTER my church told me that they could no longer keep their financial commitment. I did not really want to tell the pastor that my former church could not keep their commitment, but he continued to press until I told him about it. As we were finishing breakfast, he told me that during his prayer time earlier that morning… God had let him know that his church was going to need to step out on faith soon. After hearing my story, he told me that he knew that I WAS THE ONE that God was referring to in his prayer time. He told me that his church would finish paying the rest of the financial commitment. His church supported me financially, every week for 5 months so that I could continue in my recovery!

Q. What were your first steps toward recovery?
A. Through God’s leading, I found a Christian therapist, who I met with serval times. Secondly, I signed up for a website that offered me a free E-book once a month. Each month for about 6 months, the book that I got free, was amazingly the very book that I needed to read.

Q.. You weren’t pastoring at that time. What was it like to go to a church and not be the pastor?
A. [It was very humbling. But I was in no condition to lead others. I would wait until church would start, then sneak in while the lights were low… and then leave before the service was over, so that I did not have to talk with people. For nearly 6 months, I did not feel it within me to sing during church, nor did I take communion when it was offered.]

Q. Did you want to become a pastor again?
A. [It took a year for that to happen. I was mad. I had no desire whatsoever to get back into ministry.]
[As the weeks passed, I began to heal. Therapy was so helpful, plus there were major lessons that God was teaching me about myself - areas that I needed to grow. One of those areas was my personal prayer life. In brokenness and desperation, God taught me how to pray. This had a major impact on my recovery]

Q. How did you come to the point that you desired to look for another job in ministry?
A. [About 12 months into the recovery. I began to apply for several positions. To my surprise, it became clear that churches were looking for younger pastors. (I was 52). I applied for many churches, but could not get very far, even though I have so much experience and have had a great track record. I soon became convinced that I WAS TOO OLD FOR MINISTRY. That type of thinking led me into anger at God, as well as depression.

Q. What happened next?
A. [Several months went by. I kept applying for churches, but was not hearing anything. I was working two jobs. My wife as as well. In reality though, it wasn’t about my age. The delay was because God wanted to teach me more lessons of growth. I didn’t realize this until later]

Q. How did you finally end up back in ministry?
A. [I learned several major things while in recovery. After each major lesson, I figured that I was now ready to go back into ministry. Yet, there was one more thing that I needed to do. I needed to forgive someone who had betrayed me relationally. This person had played a major role in the circumstance that led to my stress level of working two jobs… become unmanageable… pushing me over the edge into burn-out. God literally put that person and I together, officiating the same funeral of a former parishioner. God made me have the conversation with the person that I needed to forgive.]

[After that conversation, more miracles began to happen, as God began opening doors for me to get back into ministry. A church from Virginia called and seemed to have genuine interest. Yet, I was still convinced that I was too OLD. The church wanted to do a Skype call with me. I told my wife that they would never be interested in me… because even though I could SOUND young over the phone, once they SAW me on the Skype video… they would get the impression that I was too old! I believed that with all of my heart.

Q. What happened next?
A. [My wife felt so bad for me, that she privately prayed that God would show me some kind of sign that I was not too old. The very next day, I was in a park, and a total stranger approached me, and through our conversation… he told me that God had led him to come and talk to me. The word that he told me were: “You will go on to touch many more lives for God”…. -I will elaborate on this story much more]
[That same day, another church called, and within 10 days, I had 5 churches that were seriously interested in me!]
[I ended up telling 4 churches that I had decided on another church. I accepted the Senior Pastor Position in a church in Michigan.

Q. How are things going now?
A. [From my first week at the new church, things have gone amazingly well. - there is actually a story that happened that first week, which connects to my time of struggle and recovery]
[The church here in Michigan has seen major growth and the blessings of God in my four years here. We have grown by about 100 people.]
[After being at my new church for a little over a month, I was able to go back and visit the church  who had supported me for 5 months. The pastor allowed me to share my story (available on my Podcast). The cool thing was that the church did not know that they had been supporting me. I was able to tell them and to thank them for what they did. It was amazing.
[My websites are devoted to teaching people to live day to day and trust that God will take care of them as He did me.]

You can find Pastor Tom online:

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