Monday, January 31, 2011

Interview with Author Haleh Rabizadeh Resnick

Haleh Rabizadeh Resnick was born in Philadelphia. She graduated from Rutgers College and then later Rutgers Law School. After practicing law for several years, it was time to focus on her family. She has taught religious school part time for about twenty years and is the mother of five.

The book moves so fast, what an interesting story and so much to learn. I love the quick reference tips throughout the book.”

Hello Haleh. Your book is supposed to help parents partner more effectively with their doctors and not be in the dark. Please tell us about your new book.

I have two children, one with severe multiple allergies who actually was still on formula when he was two years old, and another who was diagnosed at birth with a severe hearing loss. As it turns out, my child with allergies eats all kinds of food now and is doing wonderfully and my other son’s hearing was misdiagnosed and he does not even need hearing aids. The book reads like a short novel and is engaging from the start. But since Little Patient Big Doctor is written with the aim of helping others navigate any medical crisis, there are a number of sections throughout the book dedicated to helpful tips of partnering with doctors and incorporating alternative strategies of care.

Yes, that happens. Many times our children can be misdiagnosed. What inspired you to write this book?

I wrote Little Patient Big Doctor because of the challenges I faced working with my medical doctors. I truly believe that were it not for my background as an attorney and teacher and the approach that I had toward their medical care, my children would not be where they are today. It breaks my heart when I speak to individuals who are dealing with a health crisis and think they could be handling the situation in such a way so as to have a better result.

I was impressed with what one reviewer said about your book: “We had our hands full with our son, who was born premature. We completely relate to Little Patient Big Doctor.” Tell us what you think about this review.

My eyes have filled with tears many times as I speak to people who have read Little Patient Big Doctor. The story resonates with parents and gives them support. I’ve been hearing many stories of medical success beyond doctor’s expectations since I wrote the book. 

Are there any Tips in the Book you would like to share with us?

The most important message is to have a vision of health that you want and be unrelenting. Question and advocate. This is the basic formula. There are specific tips on organization, searching for alternative remedies, and communicating with your doctor - such as making sure that your doctor has a list of your concerns even before an appointment. 

Thank you, Haleh. I appreciate this interview. If anyone has questions to ask Haleh at this time, please ask away. Okay, tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

It’s interesting as a woman to have worked so hard for my graduate degree and then turn my back on it - at least for a while - to give hair cuts to my sons along with the bald spot that comes with it, to cook for a large family and trigger the fire alarm so often that the local firefighters know me by name, and to decorate my entire kitchen with my children’s art – so that it is literally wallpapered in every spot. Before kids? Right now I just can’t remember.

That was great! I could picture every detail as you listed them. And yes, it seems as if we can’t remember what it was like before kids. Now we know the real you! Haleh: a lawyer, mother, barber, cook, an art decorator, chauffeur, and an author who literally attracts firefighters! Whew! Now that’s quite a list.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Interview with Christian Author Cary Franklin Smith

Cary has been a pastor to several Baptist Churches in Texas, California and Nevada. He has done construction, worked for a crop duster, made bricks, stuffed turkeys into bags, cleaned out chicken coops, played in a rock band, pumped gas, sacked groceries, stocked shelves, packaged nursing home supplies, sold windows, drove a school bus, delivered fertilizer, fixed cars, delivered printing, taught school and co-hosted a radio program. Cary has a loving wife, is the father of 3 sons and the grandfather of 5 (plus 1 more in February).

Hello Cary. Whew! That’s quite a list. I’ve never known anyone with so much background. It seems like you’ve done it all. Okay, it’s time to tell us about your new book.

The Year of Leland Thomson tells the story of a sixteen year old boy who had a dream. For most of his life he had heard something calling to him from the distance. He was willing to follow but, after all, he was a poor, sawmill boy whose future lay in the mill, as had his father’s and grandfather’s before him. Along with the dream, Leland also had the gift. He played the cello with incredible passion and sensitivity, demonstrating a skill that far outstretched his age and circumstances. His family believed God had gifted him to play.

When he is discovered by Ralph Watkins, a Regent at The New York Conservatory of Music, a plan is laid to have Leland play at Carnegie Hall. But Leland prays each time he plays, giving honor to the One who gave him the gift. Ralph can’t accept Leland’s spiritual connection and tries to separate him from that which gives him his identity and ability.

Leland’s story is one of accepting ones culture, ones beliefs, ones dreams. These themes are also woven around side stories of other characters. The Year of Leland Thomson is a captivating story full of country charm and wit. It is appropriate for all ages but will have special meaning to those trying to find their place in the world.

What an inspirational story! J. Reuben Clark once said, “We get nearer to the Lord through music than perhaps through any other thing except prayer.” I believe it. Where did you get the inspiration for your novel?

There are actually two sources for inspiration. My dad grew up in and around sawmills in Southeast Texas. His dad was a foreman at many of them and actually owned a planer mill. During his latter days, my dad spoke a lot about his old sawmill life and about the stigma of being “sawmill trash.” Though I moved the story to Arkansas, his past history gave me the backdrop.

Musically, my youngest son, Jody, is our Leland. He began playing cello when he was ten or eleven and learned quickly. He became quite an accomplished cellist. It was as though he had a natural gift to play. I hear Jody when I describe Leland playing.

My mother believed that music was an important part of life, so she made sure all four of her kids had music lessons. Many people refer to those who play an instrument as having a gift. You said, “God gave Leland the gift.” Please expound your feeling about this statement.

We had the same beliefs. My wife teaches music at a Christian school and I play guitar and bass. We decided early on that our boys would be able to play an instrument. We told them they could pick out whatever instrument they wanted (except drums and accordion) and we would buy it for them and provide lessons. Their job would be to practice. (I secretly told them they would also learn to play the guitar.) Cory picked the bass guitar, Josh the violin (at age 4) and Jody wanted a cello. Not long afterwards they each added guitar and keyboard. What we noticed was the unique connection each boy had to his instrument. They learned with little struggle and played very well. It was as though they came equipped with this ability. They just needed the opportunity. I believe God gifts us for life: first with faith and then the ability to live out that faith. He then grants us grace to accomplish things that bring great fulfillment to Him, us and others. For Leland, that was in music.

I agree. David O. McKay said, “Music is truly the universal language, and when it is excellently expressed how deeply it moves our souls!” Yes, good music does affect us. This novel is called the Sawmill Series. What is this series about?

From the setting in the Ozarks, we discover good, simple, honest people struggling with the same issues most folks struggle with: family, society, race, faith and crisis. The question is not whether we will face difficult challenges in life; it is how we will deal with them. There is not an “in your face” tone to dealing with issues in this series, just the natural flow of faith and family. I wanted the Christian life being lived out to be genuine, not sterile and especially not artificial. The first book of the series, The Year of Leland Thomson, introduces us to a family whose beliefs are a natural expression of who they are, even when challenged by others. The second book, As Embers Fly, will deal with a secondary character in the first story, Frank Massey, and his dad, Claude. Claude is a detached, alcoholic father whose wife leaves him. They travel to California to find her and bring her back. It’s a story of self-discovery and choices. The third will deal with tragedy, loss and God’s ability to give beauty for ashes. I already wrote a portion of it and found myself weeping as I wrote. 

Your series sounds so touching to me. It’s about real people in real life situations who need faith and a loving Heavenly Father to help them through their trials. Okay, now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

Let’s see: I cut the tail off of my cat when he came home with it nearly severed, because it was going to cost nearly $300 for the vet to do it. I shot my mom’s favorite variety of bird when I was a kid and tried to get my cat to eat it to transfer the blame; he wouldn’t. I heard a noise in our attic and put my cat up there to see if it was anything that might get me when I went up…just in case.

Man! You were a mischievous little boy. Once my dad told his friends that he could make his cat eat a pickle. They didn’t believe him so he brought them home to prove it. He got a nice plump pickle and his pet cat. When it let out a disgruntled meow, dad stuffed the pickle in his mouth. The cat began chewing like crazy and dad won the bet. I asked him how he did it. He said he pinched the cat’s tail and made him mad enough to eat the pickle. Little boys can be so mischievous at times, but my dad grew to be a gentle man and a spiritual giant in my eyes. Okay, tell us more, Cary.

I came up with a great idea of how I could install my pull-down attic stairs in my garage by myself. I lifted the unit into the attic and screwed on support boards across the opening from below. Then I got up in the attic and set the stairs in place and secured it. Everything was perfect until I realized I couldn’t get down. My support boards blocked the stairs from opening. Fortunately I had my cell phone and called my son to come and get me down. Additional problem: I had the screw gun with me and he had to go find a screwdriver and unscrew the boards manually, which left me in the hot attic way too long. My writing career began soon afterwards.

This is just too hilarious!!! Now we know the real you! A Carpenter at heart, a Pastor, and an Author all rolled into one. Hey, now that’s quite a combination.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Interview with Author Cherie Burbach

Cherie Burbach loves football and is obsessed with anything having to do with the Green Bay Packers or Tudor history. She enjoys crocheting and has been a blogger with a 20-year background in marketing and business. Cherie is an author of six books and a poet of three poetry books, including Father’s Eyes, which received the 2008 Editor’s Choice Award by Allbooks Review.

Hello Cherie. This book involves helping others to cope with diabetes. Tell us about your new book.

My latest published book is 21 Simple Things You Can Do To Help Someone With Diabetes. It's a part etiquette/part guidebook on the personal side of diabetes. It's meant to start a dialog between diabetics and their families on things like what to say, how to provide support, and which foods to have in the house.

I didn’t realize that dialog would be an issue. Where did you get your inspiration for your book?

I've been a Type 1 diabetic for 20 years, and over time I've noticed that many of my friends and family say and do some really dumb (and sometimes hurtful) things in relation to my disease. Things like commenting on what I have on my plate, telling me how I "gave" diabetes to myself, or even just refusing to have sugar-free beverages around because they don't drink them. I don't think people mean to be hurtful, I just think if you don't have the disease, you view it from the assumptions and misinformation you've heard.

I wanted to write a really short, simple book (much shorter than the space I'm taking here to explain myself! LOL!) that people could breeze through quickly and yet still find a nugget that would change their perception about diabetes. 

Wow! You have really opened my eyes. You include stories based on your own experiences to illustrate your point. Can you briefly share with us one of these stories?

Sure. One woman I worked with used to comment every day at lunch at the amount of fruit I ate. I'd typically have a piece in the morning and then a piece of fruit at lunch. She'd scream for the whole office to hear, "I'm telling! You're diabetic and you're not allowed to have fruit! My niece is diabetic so I know better."

Obviously she didn't. Diabetics can, and should, eat fruit. For that matter, diabetics should eat a balanced diet like everyone else. Balanced is the key. Bottom line, though, this woman heard somewhere that diabetics couldn't have fruit, and she decided to become "the food police" with me. It was not only rude, but incorrect.

That must have been difficult to handle. A Reviewer wrote, “Often writers say if they can touch just one life or change one person for the better by telling their story, that their mission is accomplished… I was a prime target for this book; one of the guilty uneducated and judgmental non-diabetics with a friend who has diabetes.” Tell us what you think about this review.

I was really touched at this comment. It's true, if even one reader gets the point you're trying to make, it was worth writing the book. I loved that the reviewer was honest in admitting that even though she had a diabetic friend, she really had no idea what the disease was all about. Those kind of reviews make it all worthwhile as an author!

I understand completely what you mean. What a wonderful review! Now it’s time for the not-so-serious question. Tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

I met my husband through online dating, and on one of our first dates he made me dinner. I thought this was so sweet, and I started to think "Hey, I am really falling for this guy." I even let the thought "he's the one" float into my mind as we ate his delicious (albeit rich) meal of ribs, Texas toast, and macaroni and cheese.

A few hours after the meal, I started to feel bad. I had lots of pain that got worse and worse, to the point where I couldn't stand any longer. We were still on our date, and he was very concerned. I kept trying to shake it off, but he had to call an ambulance and follow me to the hospital! I kept thinking, "This guy is so going to dump me after this date!" LOL!

Turns out his rich meal helped set off a gallbladder attack. I had to have surgery and have it removed. From now on, we call his ribs "Emergency Room Ribs" because of that story.

Oh my gosh! Well, there’s one thing I can say. You have found a real gem of a man, a person who cooks delicious ribs. Not everyone is so lucky to find a man who cooks. Yum! I like the new name, “Emergency Room Ribs.” By the way, that happened to me, too. I fixed this luscious casserole for my husband and I promptly took him to the hospital that evening and found out that he had gallstones. The casserole was very rich and clashed with his system, setting off a gall bladder attack. So my husband sympathizes and understands completely.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Dreaming of Books

Follow your dream! 

Jenny Roberts has many dreams, but will she be able to fulfill them all? She says, “Dreams are an important part of life, and without them, life would be dull. If we can envision it, then I believe it can be accomplished.” Jenny Roberts yearns to escape her small hometown of Paris, Idaho and accomplish many dreams. Her dreams include falling in love. After she realizes that Will means more to her than she thought, she must now choose which dream to follow. Jenny soon finds herself in the middle of drama, adventure, and romance as she struggles to gain the power of forgiveness and the ability to face new possibilities.

Allison King, from Allison’s Attic, wrote, “Linda Weaver Clarke has captured the essence of reaching for your dreams, no matter what happens to throw you off the path of getting there. Jenny’s Dream is a book for all ages that can wrap you up and make you feel all warm inside with the love and hope that dreams can come true if you believe hard enough.

The Enchanted Meadow

As Jenny rose from the grassy meadow, she laid her book and straw hat on the grass, kicked her shoes off and then curtsied to an imaginary person. She smiled a charming smile and said, “Did you say you’d like to dance with me? You have chosen me out of all these lovely women?” Her hand gestured toward some imaginary ladies. “Of course, I’d like to dance with you.”

Jenny gracefully placed her arms in a semi-circle and began dancing. As she danced and twirled with the breeze, in the arms of her imaginary prince, all worries and cares disappeared and she felt exhilarated. She was dancing to the music of her dreams and each step she took brought joy to her soul. Jenny’s charming and delightful laughter rang through the meadow as she danced to the imaginary music in her heart.

Little did she know that she was being watched. Will had passed by on his way home and saw movement through the branches of the trees. When he stopped to peek through, he noticed an imaginary person asking Jenny for a dance. When he heard what she had said, he grinned and tried to stifle a chuckle as he watched in secret. As she danced, Jenny looked as light as a feather with each movement she made. Her charm and gracefulness seemed like fairy-gifts from heaven. She had purity about her that he could not describe, such that you would imagine in a child. Her large blue eyes seemed to bring out her innocence and charm. Even from his distant hiding place, he could see they were the color of the clearest blue sky he had ever seen.

As Will watched, he realized that each movement seemed to have confidence and purpose, as if she were revealing her emotions through her dancing. Each step she took was full of grace and elegance. As she danced, the combs that held her hair in place fell to the ground and her long wavy tresses softly cascaded to her shoulders and floated with the breeze. Will’s eyes widened with delight as he saw the beauty of this young woman. He could not tell which was the greater pleasure to watch—her graceful movements or her natural beauty. She was absolutely charming!
He noticed this field had an enchantment about it, one that she was clearly a part of. He watched her pale blue dress as it floated gently around her ankles with every movement she made. Her throat was long and slender and her dark eyelashes seemed to flirt with the breeze. When he looked at her eyes, they seemed to be far away in a dreamland.

They had never been formally introduced but he had heard plenty about Jenny from Melinda. She had told him that Jenny just returned from college and this impressed him a great deal since most young women did not consider college as an option. Will had seen her in passing and was interested in meeting her, but had not had a chance as of yet. Maybe he could take the opportunity to meet her now.

When Jenny stopped dancing, she held her skirts with her fingers and curtsied. With a charming smile, she said, “Thank you, my prince.”

Will smiled at her gesture. He was about thirty feet away from her when he stepped out from his hiding place and took a chance to speak to her.

Out of the corner of her eye, Jenny saw movement from the thicket. She was startled and gasped. She whirled around to see who had trespassed upon her reverie. When their eyes met, her hand flew to her mouth and her eyes widened with surprise. She was instantly embarrassed and her face flushed a rosy color. There was an awkward pause, and then she quickly grabbed her shoes and dashed out from the meadow leaving her book and hat behind.

Will felt terrible. He didn’t mean to startle her and wanted to call out to her. But it was to no avail because she was out of sight before he had a chance to get his senses about him. He had intruded on her privacy and embarrassed her. He felt awful. It had not dawned on him how she might react to his presence. Why had he been so bold as to step into her solitude and disturb her, especially right after dancing with an imaginary person? Will looked down and noticed that she had forgotten some of her belongings. He picked the book up, looked at the title, and then he placed it on a large flat rock for Jenny to retrieve later. Then he went to the field and picked up her combs and put them with her book, placing the hat on top of them. This would protect them from the damp dew of the night. Will knew that she would be back tomorrow to regain her possessions.

Jenny ran all the way home without stopping and was out of breath when she burst through the door. Melinda looked up from the salad she was preparing and was instantly concerned. “Is anything wrong, Jenny?”

Jenny shrugged her shoulders and walked toward her room to get washed up. She didn’t want to tell anyone about the encounter. In fact, she was not quite sure what had happened. She didn’t know why she ran away, but that man had invaded her privacy unnoticed and uninvited. How embarrassed she felt!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Interview with Arthur Bradley

Arthur T. Bradley, Ph.D., is a father of four, Army veteran, homeschooler, and NASA engineer. Like so many others, Arthur was deeply affected by the tragedy of 9/11. Rather than be consumed with worry, he decided to prepare his family for our world's many dangers. He began by reading nearly every disaster preparedness book on the market. When he didn't find a single book that met his family's needs, he put together a 540-page handbook that he hopes readers will find to be a “complete, well-reasoned approach to practical preparedness.”

Arthur defines a "disaster" as: “A calamitous event, especially one occurring suddenly and causing great loss of life, damage, or hardship.” This broad definition encompasses many potential threats, including hurricanes, earthquakes, pandemics, financial collapse, and even more personal events such as the loss of a job. 

Hello Arthur. I love your website and how every few seconds the picture at the top of the site changes to a new disaster. I sat watching each picture, mesmerized by each photo. For those interested, visit his website. Your book teaches us to prepare for disasters. Please tell us about it.

Thanks! The website is kind of cool. The images at the top are meant to reflect just how many different types of disasters we face. When people hear disasters, they tend to think of the biggies: hurricanes, tornados, floods, and earthquakes. But there are many other equally destructive threats, including flu pandemics, food shortages, riots, and nuclear accidents.

The Handbook to Practical Disaster Preparedness for the Family is just that, a family preparedness guide. It is not written to scare anyone. I firmly believe that preparedness should be motivated out of love, not fear. The book outlines the fourteen basic human needs that every family must meet during any crisis. The most obvious ones include food, water, and shelter, but there are many others, including transportation, communication, and financial security.

I never thought about flu pandemics or riots before. Where did you get the inspiration for your book?

I was a Boy Scout and Army infantry soldier, so I've had the importance of preparedness drilled into me for many years. However, it wasn't until I became a father that I truly felt the need to get ready for hard times. There's something about having others, especially young children, depending on you to push you into action. Now that I've become an official "prepper," I can't see living any other way. Having the supplies and skills necessary to survive dangerous events really gives my family a sense of security.

Some of the most recent major events that come to mind are the Indian Ocean tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, earthquake in Haiti, Gulf oil spill, and floods in Pakistan. The sad truth is that disasters occur on almost a daily basis all over the world. Most people don't realize that the US experiences more severe weather events than any other country on Earth! This is in part due to its large size, the abundance of oceanfront property, the direction of the ocean currents, and our general geographic conditions.

I didn’t know that. Interesting! Are there any “Basic Steps” to getting started?

Absolutely! Everyone likes top 10 lists, so here's mine for basic preparedness:
1. Stock up on consumables, such as food, water, candles, batteries, fuel, etc. But don't think that throwing money at the problem will get you prepared. You can prepare on a shoestring budget if necessary.
2. Start paying attention. Get a weather radio. Monitor local and national events. Be more aware of your surroundings and things that may affect your family. I live by the simple rule: Stay Alert = Stay Alive!
3. Shore up your shelter. Take time to inspect your dwelling to make sure it is in good repair.
4. Put together a small emergency kit for your automobile (see the Auto Kits page on my website
5. Review your insurance policies, and adjust or supplement them as needed.
6. Build up an emergency fund. Most experts recommend a fund capable of carrying your family for three to six months. Yes, this is tough to do, but so very important!
7. Learn first aid and put together a well-stocked kit that you know how to use.
8. Maintain a minimum 30-day supply of important medications and supplies.
9. Create (or join) a network of like-minded individuals committed to working together to survive dangerous events. There is strength in numbers.
10. Consider the special needs of children, the elderly, and pets within your household

What are “Just the Basics” for a roadside emergency kit?

The "Just the Basics" roadside emergency kit is a list of items that every family should keep in their automobile to be better prepared. The list includes: a cell phone and charger, small gas can, folding shovel, battery booster (or cables), flashlight, roadside triangle reflectors or flares, small tool kit, first aid kit, tow strap, notepad and pen, ResQme device, duct tape, windshield scraper, spare tire and jack, warm blankets, comfortable walking shoes, maps or GPS unit, and a few bottles of water.

Now that’s quite a list. I never thought about being that prepared while traveling somewhere. In fact, I travel a lot to teach my workshops. I guess I had better put my “Just the Basics” together before my next trip. Okay, now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

I'll tell you about how I met my wife, Lalia. It's a story that I love to share. On my first day at Auburn University, I walked into the classroom with a group of buddies. We were a little late in arriving and had to scan the room for available seats. Everyone headed to the back, but I took a moment to consider my options. Little did I know that the moment of indecision would shape my life. There were 32 students, 30 of which were guys (such is the life of an engineering student). Of the two girls, one was drop dead gorgeous, long blonde hair, tall and beautiful, and remarkably sitting all alone. I decided to take the seat right behind her and politely introduce myself. It being her first day also, she was incredibly shy, but also seemed happy to be making friends. Once class started, I realized that I'd forgotten to bring my book. Not knowing what else to do, I asked if I could scoot up beside her and share her book. She gave me that million-dollar smile, and said, "sure." And so our love was born. All these years later, I frequently wonder how different my life would be if I hadn't made that simple choice. I should mention that my wife still doesn't believe that I forgot my book. *grin*

What a wonderfully romantic story! I love it. It’s about time I heard something romantic from this question. And it came from a man, of all things!!! Okay, now we know the real you! You’re a romantic at heart, a man of indecision, and sneaky but smart! Why? Because you won the heart of a lady simply by forgetting your book and choosing the right seat!