Thursday, September 24, 2009

Teresa Jones and Return to Your First Love


Return to Your First Love is not the typical self-help/relationships book filled with anecdotes and quotes from experts. Readers are invited to sit in the front row to experience actual events that dig deep and expose carnality and misconstrued ideas about Christianity, which will in turn guide them to a path of true intimacy with God.

Author Teresa Jones walks readers through decades of her life, and share valuable lessons that have been both beneficial as well as costly. Her life experiences will speak to anyone no matter the stage of life. Return to Your First Love is a timely message that edifies, exhorts and encourages in times of uncertainty. Readers will be compelled and encouraged to seek a loving relationship with Jesus Christ.

EXCERPT:

“Dad, I love you very much.” For a moment, he continued to sit upright in his bed with his eyes closed, as I waited anxiously for a response. All of a sudden, my dad mustered up enough strength to raise his arm, as he gently placed his hand on the side of my face, and he looked directly into my eyes. He spoke no words, but his eyes spoke volumes. His look expressed that he would miss me and that he loved me very much too! This snapshot in time lasted about ten seconds, but it will resonate in my mind always.


Teresa Jones is a writer for the Neighborhood Writing Alliance (NWA), which publishes the award-winning Journal of Ordinary Thought (JOT). Teresa is a member of Toastmasters International and the National Association of Female Executives (NAFE). Teresa is faithful member of the Apostolic Faith Church, where she serves as a prayer counselor for the Prayer Line Ministry. She and her husband, Alexander, have been married for 16 years and have two children. You can visit Teresa R. Jones website at www.teresarjones.com. You can contact Teresa at teresa.jones@revelation2-4.com.

Did you miss some of Teresa's stops in September? You can see them all at http://virtualbooktours.wordpress.com/.

Gwen Cooper and Homer's Odyssey



Once in nine lives,
something extraordinary happens...

The last thing Gwen Cooper wanted was another cat. She already had two, not to mention a phenomenally underpaying job and a recently broken heart. Then Gwen’s veterinarian called with a story about a three-week-old eyeless kitten who’d been abandoned. It was love at first sight.

Everyone warned that Homer would always be an “underachiever,” never as playful or independent as other cats. But the kitten nobody believed in quickly grew into a three-pound dynamo, a tiny daredevil with a giant heart who eagerly made friends with every human who crossed his path. Homer scaled seven-foot bookcases with ease and leapt five feet into the air to catch flies in mid-buzz. He survived being trapped alone for days after 9/11 in an apartment near the World Trade Center, and even saved Gwen’s life when he chased off an intruder who broke into their home in the middle of the night.

But it was Homer’s unswerving loyalty, his infinite capacity for love, and his joy in the face of all obstacles that inspired Gwen daily and transformed her life. And by the time she met the man she would marry, she realized Homer had taught her the most important lesson of all: Love isn’t something you see with your eyes.

Homer’s Odyssey is the once-in-a-lifetime story of an extraordinary cat and his human companion. It celebrates the refusal to accept limits—on love, ability, or hope against overwhelming odds. By turns jubilant and moving, it’s a memoir for anybody who’s ever fallen completely and helplessly in love with a pet.

Excerpt

Prologue: The Cat Who Lived

Tell me, O Muse, of that ingenious hero who traveled far and wide…
--Homer, The Odyssey

The routine when I get home at the end of the day is always the same.
The ding! of the elevator is the first cue to sensitive ears that my appearance is imminent, and by the time my key hits the lock I hear the soft press of paws on the other side of the door. I’ve found that I tend to open all doors—even those in other people’s homes—with enough caution to prevent any furry miscreants from tumbling outside. Rather than seeking the floor, however, it’s only a matter of seconds before those paws have found their way from the door to the front of my legs, and a tiny black cat makes his best effort to shimmy his way up my body as if I were a tree trunk.

To prevent injury to either my clothes or the skin beneath—his claws are small, but highly effective—I squat down with a cheerful, “Hi, Homer-Bear!” (A nickname given when he was a kitten on account of his glossy black fur, like a grizzly bear’s coat.) Homer takes this as his cue to jump onto my knees, placing his front paws on my shoulders and rubbing his nose against mine with much loud purring and a series of short, clipped mews that sound uncannily like the yips of a puppy. “Hey, little guy,” I say, scratching him behind his ears. This sends Homer into veritable convulsions of delight, and—no longer content with mere nose-to-nose contact—he presses his entire face to my forehead, sliding it down to my cheek and back up again.

Squatting in the high heels I typically wear (I’m only 5’1”, but I refuse to live life as a short person) is even more painful than it sounds, so I pick Homer up and deposit him back on the ground, rising to my feet and finally entering the apartment I share with my husband, Laurence. Keys, coat, and bags are quickly stowed away. When you live with three cats, you learn that the best way to prevent fur accumulation on the clothes you wear publicly is to change into “knock around the house” garb immediately upon arrival. So from there I head to the bedroom and make a quick change.

A fuzzy shadow trails my steps through the apartment, leaping to the tops of any and all furniture along the way. Homer jumps effortlessly from floor to chair, from chair to dining room table, then back to the floor again, like Q-bert on speed. As I make my way from the living/dining area to the hallway, Homer’s up on top of a side table, then hurls himself recklessly to the third shelf of the bookcase diagonally across the hall, perching for a precarious moment until I’ve passed. Then he’s down on the ground once more, zipping along ahead of me and occasionally, in his enthusiasm, running smack into one of my other two cats until he reaches the doorway to the bedroom. Stopping at precisely the same point each time, he pauses for an infinitesimal moment, then cuts a hard left through the bedroom door, as if he were drawing a large capital “L”. He jumps to the top of the bed, where he knows I’ll sit to remove my shoes, and crawls into my lap for another round of purring and face rubbing.

This routine is the same from day to day, but what changes is the closer survey of the apartment I take once I’ve changed clothes. Homer is a creature of many and varied hobbies, and it’s hard to know from one week to the next what new projects he’s decided to immerse himself in.

For a while, his goal seemed to be setting the world record for number of items pushed from the top of a coffee table in a single day. Laurence and I are both writers, so we have the usual writers’ effluvia—pens, pads, and scraps of paper with notes we’ve taken—scattered among the magazines, paperbacks, tissue boxes, ticket stubs, sunglasses, matchbooks, breath mints, remote controls, and takeout menus. One day we came home to find our coffee table swept entirely clean—books, pens, remote controls and all, spattered across the floor like a Jackson Pollock canvas. We restored the items to their rightful place (not without a certain amount of shamefaced tidying up), but this pattern continued for several weeks. We weren’t sure which of the cats was our phantom housekeeper until the night I came home and caught Homer in the very act, quivering with pride at his accomplishment and wholly unrepentant.

“Maybe he’s objecting to the clutter,” I suggested to Laurence. “It’s probably disconcerting for him to have everything in a different place whenever he jumps up onto the table.”



Laurence isn’t as prone as I am to examining the hidden motivations of our pets. “I think the cat just likes pushing things off the coffee table,” was his reply.

We’ve also learned to tie closed the sliding closet doors in our home. It’s apparently easier than one would think for a small cat to hoist the full weight of his body up a hanging pair of jeans (denim being a nice, sturdy material that’s well-suited to climbing), then propel himself onto a top shelf where boxes of old photos, wrapped birthday and holiday gifts (which make a delightful crinkling-paper sound when they’re clawed open), and comfy piles of soft clothes make their homes. Garbage cans—no matter how tall—can be leapt into and toppled onto their sides. Scratching posts made of coiled rope can be completely unraveled, given enough persistence. Bookcases can be scaled and hardcovers hurled from their highest shelves. The same goes for records, CDs, and DVDs stacked in an entertainment center. With enough imagination, the acts of general mischief and minor destruction that one small cat can discover over the course of an average workday are endless. If there’s one valuable life lesson I’ve learned from Homer, in fact, it’s the importance of finding worthwhile projects to occupy one’s time.

Most recently, Homer has trained himself to use the toilet. Why, at twelve years of age, he suddenly chose to add this feat to his bag of tricks, I couldn’t tell you. I’ve heard of cats being trained by their owners to use the bathroom instead of a litter box, but I’ve never heard of a cat taking the mastery of this particular task upon himself.

The first time I discovered his latest achievement was by accident. I awoke early one morning and stumbled into the bathroom. Flipping on the light, I found that it was…already occupied, Homer balancing on the edge of the toilet seat.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” I said automatically, still half asleep. It was only after I left, considerately closing the door behind me, that I thought, Wait a minute…

“Our cat’s a genius!” I gushed to Laurence later that day.

“When he teaches himself to flush, he’ll be a genius,” Laurence replied.

It’s true: The art of the flush is still beyond Homer’s grasp. So checking toilets is another item I’ve added to the mental checklist I go through when I get home at night, while I survey the apartment for overturned picture frames, pried-open cabinets, and knocked-over knick-knacks.

Because I never know exactly what to expect when I walk in the door—and because seeing Homer can be a startling sight all on its own for the uninitiated—I try to prepare guests when they visit for the first time. In the years since I met Laurence and stopped dating, and as I reach an age where the number of new friends I make becomes fewer, this is something I’ve had to do with less frequency.

Still, I remember one occasion when I failed to give a new boyfriend the run-down before a first-time visit. At the outset of the evening I hadn’t expected to invite my date back to my apartment. By the time the decision was made, talking about my cats seemed like the sort of thing that might kill a romantic mood.

Homer, in those days, was particularly enamored of playing with tampons. Having encountered one by chance, he was fascinated by the way they’d roll around, and by the string at the end. He liked them so much, he figured out where I kept them stored in the cabinet below the bathroom sink and—with unerring patience and accuracy—mastered the task of forcing open the cabinet door and raiding the tampon box.

When I walked in with my date, Homer ran to greet me at the door as usual. And there, hanging from his mouth, was a tampon. The whiteness of it stood out against his black fur in vivid, mortifying relief. He scampered around in gleeful triumph for a moment, then promptly ran over and sat expectantly on his haunches in front of me, tampon clutched between his jaws like a dog with a rawhide bone.

My date looked taken aback, to say the least. “What the…is that a…” He stammered for a moment, before finally managing, “Did something happen to your cat?”

I hunkered down on my heels, and Homer happily climbed into my lap, dropping the purloined tampon at my feet. “He’s fine,” I answered. “He doesn’t have any eyes, is all.”

My date appeared staggered by this piece of information. “No eyes?!” he asked.

“Well, he was born with eyes,” I explained. “But they had to be removed when he was a kitten.”

There are some ninety million cats residing in roughly thirty-eight million U.S. households, according to Humane Society estimates—and so, in a sense, Homer is entirely typical. He eats, sleeps, bats around crumpled-up balls of paper, and gets into more trouble than I can keep him out of half the time. And, just like any other cat, he has very fixed opinions when it comes to what he likes and what he doesn’t. Happiness, in Homer’s world, is tuna fresh out of the can, climbing anything that can support his weight, pouncing with mock ferocity on his two unsuspecting (and much, much larger) sisters, and napping in the patch of sunlight that falls into the living room just before sunset. Unhappiness is being the last of my cats to score a prime spot next to Mommy on the couch, a litter box that isn’t immaculately clean, permanent denial of access to our apartment’s balcony (blind cat, high ledge—it’s easy math), and the word “no.”

But Homer looms larger than life in my imagination, and I often think his story can only be thought of in epic terms. He’s the Cat Who Lived—an orphaned, half-starved stray who survived an illness grave enough to take his eyes at two weeks of age, and who nobody wanted to give a home to once it was clear he would pull through. He’s Daredevil, the famed Marvel Comics superhero who lost his sight in an accident while saving a blind man, but who gained superhuman use of all his other senses. Like Daredevil, Homer’s senses of hearing and smell, his ability to map and negotiate all obstacles in an unfamiliar room simply by walking through it once, border on the preternatural. He’s a cat who can smell a single flake of tuna fish from three rooms away, who can spring straight up, five feet into the air, and catch a buzzing fly in mid-flight. Every leap from a chair back or tabletop is taken on faith, a potential leap into the abyss. Every ball chased down a hallway is an act of implicit bravery. Every curtain or countertop climbed, every overture of friendship to a new person, every step forward taken without guidance into the dark void of the world around him is a miracle of courage. He has no guide dog, no cane, no language in which he can be reassured or made to understand the shape and nature of the hurdles he encounters. My other cats can see out of the windows of our home, and so they know the boundaries of the world they inhabit. But Homer’s world is boundless and ultimately unknowable; whatever room he’s in contains all there is to contain, and is therefore infinite. Having only the most glancing of relationships with time and space, he transcends them both.

Homer initially came into my home because nobody else wanted to take him. So it never fails to amaze me how fascinated people are—even people who aren’t particularly interested in cats—when they meet him, or even when they just hear about him. He’s the ultimate conversation starter, something I hadn’t anticipated when I first adopted him. Ninety million cats out there means there are at least ninety million cat stories, but—at the risk of sounding unbearably prejudiced—I’ve yet to encounter a cat as remarkable as mine. At least once a week, every week for the past twelve years, he’s done something that has amused me, infuriated me, or flat-out astonished me—and he’s never more astonishing than when I see him for the first time all over again through somebody else’s eyes.

Oh, how sad! is often the first thing people say when they hear that Homer’s eyes had to be removed at two weeks of age. I usually respond that if you can show me a happier, more rambunctious cat anywhere in the world, I’ll give you a hundred bucks just to get a look at him. How does he get around? they’ll ask. On his legs, I answer, just like any other healthy cat. On occasion, when he’s especially enthusiastic in his play, I’ll hear the bonk! of his little head bumping into a wall or table leg he’d forgotten was there. It’s something that always draws a laugh from me, even while my heart cracks down familiar lines. I laugh because anybody who’s witnessed a cat in a playful frenzy, falling backwards off a sofa or charging headfirst at a closed glass door, can’t help but chuckle. And my heart breaks because, in the best of all possible worlds, Homer would have been found a week earlier, when the eye infection he’d had might have been diagnosed as “serious” rather than “incurable.”

Of course, in that world, Homer almost certainly wouldn’t have entered my life in the first place.

My favorite moment in the celebration of Passover—the holiday commemorating God’s leading Moses and the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery and into the Promised Land—is always the Dayenu, a joyous song sung loudly and accompanied by much clapping of hands and stomping of feet. Hebrew for “It would have been enough,” the Dayenu recounts the miracles God performed on behalf of the Israelites, insisting after each one that it, all on its own, would have been enough: If He had brought us out from Egypt and not carried out judgments against them, dayenu! If He had carried out judgments against them and not parted the sea for us, dayenu! If He had parted the sea for us and not supplied our needs in the desert for forty years, dayenu!

And so on.

Living with Homer, over the past twelve years, I’ve composed a Dayenu of my own. If Homer had simply managed to live beyond two weeks of age, it would have been enough. If he had simply learned to find his food bowl and his litter box all on his own, it would have been enough. If he had simply taught himself how to get from room to room in our home without any guidance, it would have been enough. If he had simply learned to run, jump, play, and fearlessly do all the things they told me he might never do, it would have been enough. If he had simply made me laugh out loud every single day for over a decade, it would have been enough.

And if he had done nothing more than become one of the most loyal, affectionate, and courageous sources of daily joy and inspiration I’ve ever known…well, that would have been more than enough.

In a seemingly hopeless situation, when no rational person could expect anything good, yet somehow ends up receiving everything good—these are things we call miracles and wonders. A few of us are lucky enough to see such wonders in our everyday lives.

So this book is for the others like me, but also for the ones who’ve given up on believing in everyday miracles and heroes; for people who love cats and for people who consider themselves firmly anti-cat; for those who think “normal” and “ideal” mean the same thing, and for those who know that, sometimes, stepping slightly to the left of what’s normal can enrich your whole life.

To all of you I introduce Homer, the Wondercat.

Dayenu!


Praise for Homer's Odyssey


"I am certain it would be impossible to meet Homer without falling in love with him and it is just as difficult to read this loving account without coming away with a renewed faith in the unique bond that can sometimes arise between two alien species. Gwen Cooper writes with humor, with wit, with candor and most of all with irresistible warmth for this astonishing little feline who will steal your heart the way he stole hers."
—Jeffrey Moussaief Masson, New York Times bestselling author of The Nine Emotional Lives of Cats and When Elephants Weep

“This tender and affecting book reveals Homer's lessons about love and acceptance—and how he transformed Cooper into the woman she had always wanted to be.”
—Publishers Weekly



Gwen Cooper is the author of the novel Diary of a South Beach Party Girl. A Miami native, she spent five years working in nonprofit administration, marketing, and fundraising. She coordinated volunteer activities on behalf of organizations such as Pet Rescue, the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind, the Miami Rescue Mission, and His House Children’s Home. In conjunction with Hands on Miami and Barnes & Noble, Gwen initiated Reading Pen Pals, an elementary school-based-literacy program in Miami’s Little Haiti. Gwen currently lives in Manhattan with her husband, Laurence, and her three perfect cats—Scarlett, Vashti, and Homer, who aren’t impressed with any of it.

You can visit Gwen online at http://gwencooper.com/.


Did you miss some of Gwen's stops in September? You can see them all at http://virtualbooktours.wordpress.com/.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Interview with Jimmy Root, Author of Distant Thunder: Book One of the Lightning Chronicles


Joining us today is Pastor and author, Jimmy Root Jr. As a pastor, Jimmy wishes to be a Voice of Truth and to further the Cause of the Kingdom of Christ. Through his writing, he seeks to re-awaken an understanding of Biblical Prophecy through Distant Thunder and the Lightning Chronicles. We’ll talk to him about these topics and see what the future holds for his writing.

Welcome to The Book Connection, Jimmy. We’re thrilled to have you with us. Can you please begin by telling our readers a bit about yourself?


Thank you. It is a joy to be with you. Let me start by saying I’m as ordinary a guy as you’ll find. I was born and raised in the plains states of Kansas and Nebraska and hold to that easy-going lifestyle as tightly as I can. I am married to a wonderful woman named Jean, have three grown children, and have a Jack Russell terrorist to keep me humble. I am the lead Pastor of Family Worship Center, an Assemblies of God church in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri, and have been an ordained minister since 1982. We have had the great privilege of serving for a seven-year stint as missionaries to the country of Colombia, South America, and have personally planted five different churches. Although I may sound like I’m getting old, I am only fifty and haven’t garnered too much attention from AARP.

When did you first receive your calling from God? How did this turn into your current ministry?

The first time I felt God tugging at me to pursue a call into full time ministry was when I was sixteen years old. It was during an intense, after-service prayer time and I could almost hear his voice. However, being the son of a long-time pastor, my response was a resounding ‘NO.’ I had witnessed some very negative actions directed at my parents and that turned me sour to entering any sort of ministry. So, I pursued and achieved a degree in computer programming. However, God is full of grace and never quits calling. When I was nineteen, I listened and obeyed. Needless to say, my degree in computer programming was obsolete the second the PC was invented. The ministry is never obsolete.

According to your website, a Christian pollster made some startling discoveries about “Born Again” believers. Can you share some of those discoveries and your opinion on why things are this way?

The George Barn Research Group, a Christian polling organization much like Gallup, conducted a nationwide poll of those who claim the born again experience. This makes up most of the Evangelical wing of Christianity in which a person understands and believes one must have a personal, transformational, experience with Jesus Christ.

In that series of polling, Barna uncovered something startling within the Evangelical community. He discovered that only nine percent of Evangelical, Born Again believers actually held a Biblical worldview. There are five basic doctrines that describe a Christian worldview. First, Jesus was miraculously born of a virgin. Second, Jesus lived a sinless life as the one and only Son of God. Third, that Jesus physically died and was raised from the dead. Fourth, that Jesus ascended to the Father and is the only way to heaven. Fifth, that Jesus will physically return to earth to rule and reign.

The stark reality is that more and more followers of Christ are accepting the lie that there may be more than one way to get to heaven. The fact is, you cannot believe in Jesus as your savior while believing that some other figure might also be held in that category.

When did you begin your Bible Uncensored radio broadcast?

I began the Bible Uncensored radio broadcast in April of this year, shortly after I came across the above mentioned statistics. It is one small way that I can hopefully have a voice in speaking the truth while demonstrating a great amount of grace.

What can listeners expect to learn from your radio show?

I have attempted to build a format that would be similar to sitting down with a cup of coffee and having a conversation. At times that comes in the form of an interview. I also use a Q&A styled conversation as well. The idea is not to preach, but to have a conversation in order to show that Truth is relevant, not relative. The listener can expect to learn from the Word of God and then have the tools to apply what they hear.

Let’s talk about Distant Thunder and the Lightning Chronicles. Where did you get the idea for this trilogy?

I am a life-long student of Bible prophecy. It is a passion. That forms the foundation of Distant Thunder and the entire Lightning Chronicles series. As you will surely remember, a series called Left Behind recently captured the imagination of millions. It was a fictional story dealing with a prophetic time called the Tribulation. That period is described in the Old Testament book of Daniel, and the New Testament book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, commonly called the Revelation.

After having read that series, I felt someone needed to create a story that deals with life right up to that point. I believe in what is called the Rapture of the Church, a moment in the near future when Christ comes to snatch the church from the earth just before he pours out his judgment. As I do not believe the church will be around during the setting of the Left Behind series, I thought it appropriate to do something more relevant to where we are in current world events right now.

What is your goal for this trilogy? Why did you decide to write it?

My goal for the series is two-fold. First is to demonstrate that the Bible is more than a devotional book. A reader who has never had much to do with the Bible or Christianity can pick up Distant Thunder and enjoy a plausible, thrilling story, all while seeing that the prophecies found in the Bible are true. It will spur them on to discover that everything about the Bible is true, including God’s plan of salvation.

The second goal is to awaken a sleepy American church. I am afraid that most churches in America have lost their passion for the soon return of Christ. Knowing that the prophecies concerning his return revolve around the re-birth of the nation of Israel, I felt a new awareness of current prophetic fulfillment might restore some of the fervor and urgency that believers should have in the spiritual life.

The prologue for Distant Thunder—which readers can find on your website—begins in 568 B.C. and then moves forward to Russia in the summer of 1991. Tell us why you did this? Can readers expect more of this time change as they move through the novel?

This method of launching a story is certainly not new to me. One of my favorite authors is Clive Cussler. In his Dirk Pitt novels, he always begins with an historic event that will eventually form the plot. I felt something similar would work perfectly for a genre using Bible prophecy. Rather than quoting a verse I simply started the story with the prophet Ezekiel as he received the vision of the re-birth of Israel, as well as the coalition that will attack it. I continue this format in the prologue and epilogue of each of the three books. The reason I jumped to Russia was to bring current events into play.

How long did it take you to bring this book from the first draft to the final published product?

I began on a cold, blustery morning on December 2, 2007. Exactly two months later, on February 2nd of 2008, I had my first draft completed. It may sound as if I wrote non-stop during that time, but that is not the case. My primary function was, and remains pasturing a thriving church. However, I was so excited about what was flowing I simply used every spare moment to write. Oddly, I never designed the story as a trilogy. But as the pages kept pouring out, I realized I had way too much story for just one book.

Were there any special obstacles or challenges you faced during the publishing process?

The real challenge for a new, unknown author is actually finding a publisher. It is extremely difficult because of the cutthroat nature of publishing in today’s market. It seems to be mostly about money. For this reason many go the route of self-publishing. That was something I did not want to do. First, I didn’t have the money. Second, I had no clue in the area of marketing. So, I sent out approximately 250 query letters to publishers and agents. I am told that my experience was miraculous, because it only took four months to receive a contract for the first two books.

Pastor Tyler Dempsey and Israeli pilot Moshe Eldan are the main characters in Book One. What can you tell us about them? Will we see them in the other two books?

Pastor Ty is a young, single minster of a church located north of Kansas City, Missouri. His journey takes a terrible turn at the beginning of Distant Thunder as he stands over the grave of his younger brother. The young Marine was killed during a haphazard withdrawal from Iraq. As Ty goes through the process of grieving that loss, God begins to open his eyes to the relevance of several Old Testament prophecies as they compare to current events. His trouble really begins when he preaches those prophecies to his sleepy little church. It nearly costs him his ministry. However, Ty is vindicated by the horrible events that take place.

Moshe Eldan is an F-16 pilot. The Israeli’s call their version of that fighter jet the ‘Lightning,’ thus the formation of the chronicles. Moshe is a secular Jew. He is irreligious, meaning he believes their might be a God, but God is unconcerned about his creation. The last thing Moshe wants is to pursue any type of faith beyond the machine he flies. However, Moshe’s wife, Tasha, comes into contact with the Truth of scripture and her life is transformed. She then begins to share with her husband a series of Bible prophecies that perfectly describe what is happening beneath the wings of his fighter. He cannot help it. He is practically forced onto a journey to find faith.

I will not give any details, but Pastor Ty and Moshe Eldan are connected in strange and miraculous ways throughout Distant Thunder. Both form the main characters of the entire trilogy, with one or two more being introduced as the series progresses.

Where can readers purchase a copy of Distant Thunder?

Distant Thunder is set for national release on August 10, 2009. Ideally, it will be available at both Christian and secular bookstores. However, being a new book by an unknown author, you may have to ask. In fact, I encourage the reader to go to every bookstore they can find and ask for the book by name. That is one way a book gains popularity.

Distant Thunder can also be ordered directly from my website. There are three methods of payment from either myself or the publisher. If you order directly from me, I will sign the copy and mail it out within a day of receiving the order.

Where can readers find you online?

The Book website is www.lightningchronicles.com
My Ministry website is www.jimmyrootonline.com

I also have a blog built around prophecy and current events at www.prophecyalert.blogspot.com, and a blog to encourage budding authors at www.lightningchronicles.blogspot.com. People can also follow me on Twitter: http://twiter.com/jimmyrootjr/ and Facebook at http://facebook.com/jimmyrootjr.

What is up next for you? When can readers expect Book 2 to be available?

Book Two of the Lightning Chronicles, A Gathering Storm, is in the hands of the publisher and is in the editing process. I expect it to be available sometime in the late spring of 2010. In the meantime, I continue to write Book Three, Then Comes Lightning. After the Lightning Chronicles series is complete, I plan on developing a longer fictional series built strictly on the life of the Old Testament prophet, Daniel. In fact, Daniel makes an appearance in the Chronicles trilogy.

Would you like to share a little bit of what the next book is about?

A Gathering Storm picks up right where Distant Thunder ends. It is absolutely stunning in its pace and takes up the fictional span of only two days. In it, Ty Dempsey’s heroism begins to surface, and Moshe Eldan gets ever closer to a living faith in Yeshua Messiah (Jesus Christ). But the main conflict of the book is based on the prophecies of Ezekiel that describe a coalition of nations that will form to attack and destroy Israel. It is literally today’s current events being splayed out in a fictional story.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I want to reiterate that Distant Thunder and its sequels are just stories. The prophecies behind the story are true and will find their fulfillment. That makes the book relevant to anyone who reads it.

Thanks for joining us today, Jimmy. This trilogy sounds exciting! I wish you much success.

Thank you, very much.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Jacquleine Klosek and The Right to Know



The Right to Know is a resource book for citizens seeking to understand, use, and defend their right to know their rights under the freedom of information laws in the United States. It educes practical lessons from dozens of case studies of how the reader can use our freedom of information laws in order to protect the environment, public health and safety and to expose governmental and corporate crime, waste, and corruption.



Jacqueline Klosek is a Senior Counsel in Business Law Department of Goodwin Procter LLP, where she practices in the Intellectual Property Practice Area. Her practice focuses on advising clients on various issues related to data privacy and security. She also drafts and negotiates various technology agreements and advises on different aspects of the law related to intellectual property and technology.

Jacqueline is a frequent writer and lecturer. Her most recent book is The Right to Know: Your Guide to Using and Defending Freedom of Information Law in the United States. Her prior books include: War on Privacy (Praeger, 2006); The Legal Guide to e-Business (Greenwood Publishing, 2003) and Data Privacy in the Information Age (Greenwood Publishing, 2000).

Jacqueline (along with James R. Silkenat and Jeffrey M. Aresty) is also an editor of the recently released 3rd edition of the ABA Guide to International Business Negotiations: A Comparison of Cross-Cultural Issues and Successful Approaches.

Jacqueline is a Certified Information Privacy Professional, Ms. Klosek is on the Advisory Board for The Privacy Advisor of the International Association of Privacy Professionals , and is the co-chair of the International Working Group of that organization. She is also an active member of American Bar Association, the International Bar Association and the International Association of Young Lawyers.

Jacqueline has been recognized for her professional expertise. In 2004, Ms. Klosek received NJBiz magazine’s “40 Under 40” award, given annually to the top 40 achievers in New Jersey with an established record of leadership who have taken on key decision-making roles at an earlier-than-usual stage in their lives. She was also the recipient of the Telford-Taylor Fellowship in Public International Law.

She is a graduate of the Vrije Universiteit in Brussels (LLM, European and International Law); Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law (JD, Law) and New York University (BA, Psychology)

For more information about the book and author, please visit http://www.jacquelineklosek.com/

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Douglas Jacobson, Author of WW2 Historical Novel, Night of Flames, Shares How It All Began

Today's guest blogger is Douglas W. Jacobson, author of the WWII historical novel, Night of Flames.


In 1939 the Germans invade Poland, setting off a rising storm of violence and destruction. For Anna and Jan Kopernik the loss is unimaginable. She is an assistant professor at a university in Krakow; he, an officer in the Polish cavalry. Separated by war, they must find their own way in a world where everything they ever knew is gone.

Anna’s father, a prominent intellectual, is deported to a death camp, and Anna must flee to Belgium where she joins the Resistance. Meanwhile, Jan escapes with the battered remnants of the Polish army to Britain. When British intelligence asks him to return to Poland in an undercover mission to contact the Resistance, he seizes the opportunity to search for his missing wife.

Through the long night of Nazi occupation, Anna, Jan, and ordinary people across Europe fight a covert war of sabotage and resistance against the overwhelming might of the German war machine. The struggle seems hopeless, but they are determined to take back what is theirs.

Night of Flames, How It All Began by Douglas W. Jacobson


A funny thing happened on the way to college. My daughter’s college, that is. In 1991 we sent our daughter off to the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire, an excellent mid-size university campus four hours from our home in Milwaukee. It was difficult at first having her that far away, but like all parents of college-age kids we took a deep breath thinking it could be worse, she could be going to New York or California. Hah! Little did we know!

As time passed, a nice young man entered her life, a nice young man who was not from New York or California . . . but from Antwerp, Belgium. And so, the journey began.

As it turned out the young couple got married and eventually moved to Belgium. That was fourteen years ago. If having our college-age daughter four hours away by car was tough, having our newly married daughter an eight-hour plane ride away was a bit tougher. The remedy, of course, was traveling to Europe . . . often.

Now I have always been interested in WW2 history. Over the years I’ve read everything I could, both fiction and non-fiction, about this incredible world conflict which changed the course of human history. As I’ve often said in the talks I give about my book, for an American interested in WW2, spending time in Europe changes your perspective. As an example, consider this: In the memory of most Americans, WW2 began with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. By that time, more than three million Europeans had died in the war. By the time the war ended, four years later, that number would be more than thirty million . . . and eighty percent were civilians.

Over the years, as my wife and I traveled to Europe 2-3 times a year, we developed many relationships, including a very close friendship with my son-in-law’s parents who were children during the German occupation of Belgium. They didn’t talk about it at first; in fact they never talk about it all, except when someone like me-—whom they know and trust is really interested and really wants to know. And, in time, they did tell me about it. They told me about living in the cellar during the shelling of their working-class neighborhood near the port of Antwerp. They told me about foraging for food in the streets then rushing home before the German snipers could shoot them. They told me about the day in 1941 when the Gestapo barged into their home during dinner and took away my son-in-law’s grandfather. Four years later he returned, having walked home from Hamburg, Germany where he’d been a forced laborer.

Much has been written about the great battles of World War Two in Europe, the epic clashes of great armies at Normandy and Stalingrad, in the mountains of Italy and the deserts of Africa. But what has really inspired me were the stories of courage and perseverance of the common people caught up in this titanic struggle. Stories like those of the women and teenagers of the Comet Line who rescued hundreds of Allied aviators shot down over Belgium and Holland. Stories like those of the Armia Krajowa, Poland’s Home Army who risked their lives every day for six long years trying to preserve what little they could of their humanity.

In his book, World Crisis, Winston Churchill said, “When the trumpet sounded every class and rank had something to give. But none gave more, or gave more readily, than the common man and woman.” In those eloquent words lies the essence of what I have tried to honor in my historical novel, Night of Flames.





Douglas W. Jacobson is an engineer, business owner and World War Two history enthusiast. Doug has traveled extensively in Europe researching stories of the courage of common people caught up in extraordinary circumstances. His debut novel, Night of Flames: A Novel of World War Two was published in 2007 by McBooks Press, and was released in paperback in 2008. Night of Flames won the 2007 OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT AWARD from the Wisconsin Library Association. Doug has also published articles on Belgium’s WW2 escape organization, the Comete Line; Poland’s 1st Armored Division; and the liberation of Antwerp. Doug has just completed his second novel set in Europe at the end of WW2. You can visit his blog at www.douglaswjacobson.blogspot.com.

To see where Douglas stops next on his virtual book tour, visit http://virtualbooktours.wordpress.com/.

Seven False Assumptions - That Caused the Housing Crisis by Eddie Godshalk



Today's guest blogger is Eddie Godshalk, author of The Missing Keys to Thriving in Any Real Estate Market. It seems that the past year has meant news of record foreclosures in most cities and towns. In this post, Godshalk discusses the seven false assumptions he believes caused the Housing Crisis, and expands on the first false assumption.

Seven False Assumptions - That Caused the Housing Crisis by Eddie Godshalk

Here is the list of seven false assumptions that caused the housing crisis:

False Assumption 1: Real Estate Has Always Gone Up in Value, Thus It Will Continue to Go Up in Value

False Assumption 2: Existing Systems for Risk Management, such as FICO Scores and Rating Agencies, Are Adequate.

False Assumption 3: The system of Gaussian copula function was adequate and reduced risk of MBS.

False Assumption 4: Appraisals and MLS information are adequate to assess local risk and make a buying decision.

False Assumption 5: Licensed Real Estate Professionals, and the Web, Have the Most Current Information Available.

False Assumption 6: There is No Need to Have Current Local Information, Demographics, Economics, or Hyper-Local Forecasts, Since Macro Metro Yearly Data Is Adequate.

False Assumption 7: The Current Systems for Access Risk and Rates of Return of Real Estate Portfolios ARE Adequate.

Let's look at False Assumption 1: Real Estate Has Always Gone Up in Value, Thus It Will Continue to Go Up in Value.

Real estate prices in the United States have historically been on an upward trend, rising on average 1.6 percent in real terms between 1970 and 2005. However, this does not mean that prices increased every year in that period and by the same percentage in all locations within the country. For instance, between 1990 and 1995, inflation-adjusted prices of homes in the United States declined by 1.1 percent. If any individual purchased a house for residence or investment in that period and sold it before the market recovered, he or she may have realized a capital loss on that property because prices declined.

Moreover, the claim that real estate has always gone up in value, and thus it will continue to do so is a generalization that may not necessarily apply to specific localities. Real estate markets are local markets, in which any market’s stability and growth are affected by location-specific factors that influence supply and demand and therefore home values. Consider, for instance, the recent spurt in foreclosures, which has had a disproportionately heavy toll on real estate markets in, say, California and Nevada. An increased supply of distressed properties in those markets lead to large drops in home prices. However, foreclosure activity within each state may be concentrated in specific local communities, such as the Silicon Valley in California, which has seen a surge in unemployment.

Furthermore, there are over 1,200 Census Block Groups or hyper local markets in Silicon Valley. Income ranges from under $20,000 to over $400,000, prices range from under $100,000 to over $2,000,000, and the number of Short Sales ranges from near zero, to over 20% for some Census Block Groups. In addition, the medians are not correlated to the ranges, and the medians have changed over 8% since the yearly data was published by the free vendors that many sources quote.

Thus, any such local markets, including that in the Silicon Valley, CA, may have seen larger declines in home values than the state of California as a whole. Besides, these precipitous declines in California or Nevada may be taking place against home price increases in other parts of the United States. One example is Cambridge, MA, which recorded a 16 per cent annual increase in prices last year.

The Home Value Predictor™ ™ integrates various local market data into a model that forecasts price movements down to the level of a particular local community. Its broad and block-level market forecasts thus help avoid making investment decisions based on generalizations about real estate prices for the nation as a whole or for any particular local market.

For more information about The Missing Keys to Thriving in Any Real Estate Market by Eddie Godshalk visit www.homevaluepredictor.com For more of Godshalk's false assumptions that caused the Housing Crisis, visit his blog.

Eddie Godshalk bought his first investment houses in 1987, where he was a licensed agent in the Eastern U.S. From those humble beginnings, Eddie has gained more than 20years of real estate investment, business development and mortgage experience. Recently, Eddie gained praise for his ability to help average investors generate exceptional wealth using his revolutionary Home Value Predictor web-based real estate system.

Eddie received his MBA from San Francisco State University (SFSU) with a focus on building automated valuation models (AVM’s) and real estate finance. Using the Home Value Predictor technology, Eddie has purchased numerous properties with little money down, netting greater than two thousand percent return on equity investment per property.

After collecting more than four years’ worth of micro block data, Eddie and a team of SFSU and Berkeley PhD’s tested and back-tested algorithms. After testing more than eight mapping software applications, from Open Source to ESRI, the latest public version of Home Value Predictor was launched in mid 2009.

Eddie is committed to bringing the most accurate, reliable and relevant information to the real estate market Home Value Predictor is poised to redefine the way we think of real estate in the 21st century.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Rest in Peace Patrick Swayze


It's not often I steer away from writing and books at this blog, but the passing of Patrick Swayze can't go unmentioned. I fell in love with him in Dirty Dancing, and I became a life-long fan after that.

No matter what he did, he was graceful and cool; the strong man whose beauty and grace flowed freely. Someone posted a video clip of Patrick dancing with his wife, Lisa to All the Man That I Need by Whitney Houston and I just about cried.

I think, too, that to lose such a talented and creative person so young, is very difficult. I remember when Michael Landon passed away, he was also working on a new project. Some people wonder if Michael Landon would have had a place in today's world of television, but I feel that now, more than ever, we need the touching family shows that Michael created. Landon was only 55 when he lost his battle with pancreatic cancer.

It amazes me when I think of how diverse Swayze's career was that he could pull off so many different roles and leave you satisfied in his portrayal 10 times out of 10.

While I am sad that Swayze is gone, it is good to know that he is no longer suffering the horrors of such a dreadful disease. My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife and family.

Interview with Bob Brooker and Kaye O'Dougherty, Authors of Football is for Lovers


Joining us today are Bob Brooker and Kaye O'Dougherty, authors of Football is for Lovers. I’m not sure how football and sex are related, but the authors will be able to provide us with some humorous insight, I’m sure.

Welcome, Bob and Kaye. Why don’t you start by telling our readers a bit about yourself?


Bob is an old saloon singer who, as Bobby Brookes, recorded for RCA Victor and Capital back in the day; Kaye has trouble carrying a tune in a bucket. Even so, after we met at a recording studio on 42nd Street (yes, that 42nd Street), we began a decades-long partnership as Brooker and O'Dougherty, collaborating on a variety of theater, film, TV and video projects, performing, writing, directing, managing, and producing. Football is for Lovers (which can be found at www.footballforlovers.com) marks our debut as book authors.

You’ve collaborated on a variety of other projects, but this is the first book you’ve written together. Why?

Yes, Football is for Lovers is our first book. After years of being an entertainer, Bob's stroke a few years back ended his life on the wicked stage. His light-footed days treading the boards were definitely at an end. And Kaye has never spent a light-footed day in her life. So a book seemed like a good idea.

What do you enjoy most about your collaborations? What are some of the challenges of working together?

Although one of the pluses of the collaborative method is that it brings broader, more diverse perspectives to the table, it is nonetheless true that, at the end of the day, it can only work if the collaborators have the same ultimate vision. That is, to use interior decorators as an analogy, if one wants to do a French Provincial room in shades of off-white and mauve, and the other is more into psychedelic retro post-modern in hot pink and chartreuse, there could be a problem. So even though we fight – a lot! – about how to get there, we always seem to agree on where we're going. Even so, the preliminary fighting before we get to our goal can get a little intense. So I guess our greatest challenge over the years has been not to kill each other.

Tell us about Football is for Lovers?

We thought it was a shame that a cool game like football was apparently causing conflict in a lot of relationships. Val, our favorite bank teller, admitted she didn't know anything about the game, but she still swore she hated football. Well, obviously, if Val didn't know what the game was about, it couldn't really be football that she hated, now could it? A brief discussion of the subject revealed that it was being ignored by her boyfriend from August pre-season through the February Super Bowl that was putting a strain on their couplehood. So we wrote Football is for Lovers as an antidote to what seems to be a rather common problem. In the book, we not only make understanding the game as easy as buttering toast, but also we give you the tools to make football work for your relationship, not against it. Football is for Lovers gives you a whole new way of looking at football that can end the TV clicker wars, spice up your love life, and maybe even get you some M&Ms into the bargain. Not bad, huh?

Where did you find the inspiration for this story?

Football is for Lovers is humorous non-fiction, so there's really not much of a story line. But since it reflects our rather off-kilter view of life, I guess you could say we're our own inspiration. For us, human behavior is a constant source of . . . well, many things. Most of it defying logic. So we can't help but laugh . . . especially at ourselves. And we kind of like the idea of the rest of you crazy humans laughing along with us.

I’m one of those women who dreads football season. Not so much because the hubby ignores me, but because I really don’t understand football and don’t find it very interesting. Can your book help me?

Absolutely!!! It's like the stop action button when you're watching the running of the bulls at Pamplona. And what makes it even easier than the bull thing is that where everybody is running to is more clearly defined. Plus each team wears a different color uniform, so you can tell the bad guys from the good guys. Better yet, you get to pick which is which! We note in the book that football is chess on Astroturf. And at one level, it can be. But it can also be understood and enjoyed at the checkers level. Maybe even the sub-checkers level. In Football is for Lovers, we bring it down to the sub-checker basics. As one of our readers notes, it's nice to learn something and be able to laugh at the same time. If you read the book, you can – and you will!

There’s also some humor in this book. How does it all come together to make football widows happy?

It makes them widows no more! Really, that's the point. Speaking of basics, the basic premise of Football is for Lovers is that sharing is good. And when there's something this easy and this much fun to share – and believe us, it is – why choose widowhood? The thing is, we take the pain out of the learning process. Not only does this book give you sufficient education in the fine art of football so you can follow along with the action on Sunday night, but we've even included some fine art of the more classic variety (two illustrations of works by Jean Dubuffet), plus a Burma Shave sign and enough weird factoids to help you sound clever at cocktail parties. As if you weren't clever enough already. So why be a widow when good times can be yours just by flipping a few pages? Oh, and did we mention there are some rather hot . . . uh . . . relationship tips in there as well? Hey, it's all good!

Will men enjoy this book too?

We think so. Football is for Lovers offers so many one-up tidbits that we're pretty sure most men will get something out of it. We're willing to bet there are facts in there that they don't know. Like Terrell Owens' middle name. Or who the Cleveland Browns are named after. That's another thing: if you know the answers first, these items are great for making bets. We even suggest some interesting pay-offs. Plus the book is well-researched and accurate, and treats the game of football with respect. Because we do.

Where can readers purchase a copy Football is for Lovers?

They can order the book online on our website, www.footballforlovers. There's a direct link to our publisher for shipments inside the United States, plus a link to Amazon for our International clientele.

What else will people find at your website?

Besides the links for ordering, the site has excerpts from the book, a Family Album, attire to wear while watching the game (which we explain in some detail in the book), and a bunch of articles. So y'all come see us, hear?

What is up next for you?

We're working on our second book – also humorous non-fiction – He's Not the Guy (God Didn't Do It!). It bothers us when we hear those stories about things like, say, a building collapsing and ninety-nine people being killed. And the sole survivor says, "It was a miracle! God saved me!" So - uh – exactly what does that mean? God killed the other ninety-nine? We think not. And we intend to set the record straight.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Might as well pull out the old clich̩: life is short. The thing is, if you have the chance to share something Рyes, like football Рwith someone you love, we say: for goodness sake, do it! Because . . . yeah: life is short.

Thank you for stopping by today. Good luck with your book!

To see where Bob & Kaye are stopping next on their virtual book tour, visit http://virtualbooktours.wordpress.com/.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering September 11th

c) 2001 The Record, (Bergen County, NJ).

Just as those who are old enough to remember where they were when they heard of John F. Kennedy's assasination, people of our generation can vividly recall what they were doing when radios and televisions shared reports of the Twin Towers being struck.

I was home with my month-old daughter, still on maternity leave. The phone rang and my husband asked me to turn on the television to let him know what news stations were saying. He was at work and gaining access to the Internet was almost impossible with so many people trying to find out the latest details of what was happening in New York.

When news came of the attack on the Pentagon, I called my husband back and immediately felt that we were at war.

I would find out later, that my brother-in-law was supposed to be at the World Trade Center that morning, but at the last minute his meeting was changed to an alternate location. Our family was spared...but many others were not.

As our country honors those whose lives were lost on that fateful day, I personally hope that the many families affected by this horrible tragedy have begun the road to healing; that they have found some way to carry on after the unexpected loss of their loved ones; and that they may know the peace and comfort only God can provide.

God Bless America!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Happy Labor Day!




Here's to all of the workers who have and continue to make a difference in the American way of life. For a brief history of Labor Day, visit history.com.

Happy Labor Day!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Double Out and Back by Lisa Lipkind Leibow


Not every woman who rides the fertility treatment roller coaster winds up like Octomom!

Who will find friends, family, and fertility?

Three women’s lives are intricately intertwined, as Amelia Schwartz and Summer Curtis struggle with the complex dynamics of intrafamily embryo adoption, and Chandy Markum strives to make her patients’ dreams a reality.

After more than a decade, of mourning her parents’ deaths, anal-retentive Amelia Schwartz decides to take control of her life, pursuing single motherhood via embryo adoption. While her fertility doctor, Chandy, is preoccupied with the destruction of the cosmopolitan Cape Town of her youth and her first love in apartheid-torn South Africa, believing all is lost, her niece, a young, married, overachieving attorney Summer Curtis, juggles zealous career ambitions, demanding bosses, and friction with her husband over family and fertility issues. They must confront the painful reality that, no matter what technology humans devise to manipulate reproduction, prolong life, and construct family units, they have not yet mastered control over their beginnings and endings.

Thrown all into this is one story that can make or break. Are you up to it?

You can view a video trailer for Double Out and Back at YouTube.


Born and raised in Leominster, Massachusetts, Lisa had a flare for drama. As a child, when asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, she answered on any given day anything from airplane pilot to zookeeper. She left her home town in 1984 to attend George Washington University in Washington, DC. She studied radio-television communications where she loved writing, directing, and performing, as well as public policy and regulation of mass media and telecommunications. After college she sought a "practical" career by going to law school.

Prior to pursuing the literary dream of novel writing, Lisa practiced law for over a decade, drafting legal briefs and memoranda much like the young attorney in her debut novel. This professional environment was the inspiration for the characters and settings in Double Out and Back.

After being stuck at her office on 9/11, a month-long siege on metro Washington, DC by a sniper, and discovering that the other parents at her twins’ preschool thought her au pair was her sons’ mom, Lisa could hear these words echoing in her ears. "If I knew this was what it was going to be like to have it all, I would have settled for less." (Lily Tomlin: The Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe)

Lisa didn't really settle for less. She settled for different, and traded the billable hour lifestyle for fiction writing. Making up stories is much more fun than negotiating contracts, attending hearings, and deciphering statutes and regulations for clients. More than that, it has given her an excuse to pretend to be anyone from airplane pilot to zookeeper!

Lisa's work can be seen in the Pisgah Review. Double Out and Back is her debut novel released by Red Rose Publishing (mainstream fiction).

Lisa lives and writes in Northern Virginia with her husband, three children, a couch potato of a dog, and two red-eared slider turtles.

You can visit Lisa Lipkind Leibow at www.LLLeibow.com and www.LisaLeibow.blogspot.com


Pick up your copy of Double Out and Back at Red Rose Publishing.com.


WIN PRIZES!!!

DOUBLE OUT AND BACK VIRTUAL BLOG TOUR '09 will officially begin on September 1 and ends on September 25th. You can visit Lisa's blog stops at http://www.virtualbooktours.wordpress.com/ in September to find out more about this great book and talented author!

As a special promotion for all our authors, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour to a published author or a $50 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors' blog stops.