Thursday, January 22, 2015

Get Your Thrills This Weekend #Thriller #TheHealer

Who doesn't like a good thriller that keeps you squirming in your seat and unable to stop reading until the last page? I know that's my favorite kind of book! Today I'm happy to host a new release by an amazing author, Christoph Fischer. Here's a glimpse. 

When advertising executive Erica Whittaker is diagnosed with terminal cancer, western medicine fails her. The only hope left for her to survive is controversial healer Arpan. She locates the man whose touch could heal her but finds he has retired from the limelight and refuses to treat her.  Erica, consumed by stage four pancreatic cancer, is desperate and desperate people are no longer logical nor are they willing to take no for an answer. Arpan has retired for good reasons, casting more than the shadow of a doubt over his abilities. So begins a journey that will challenge them both as the past threatens to catch up with him as much as with her.  Can he really heal her? Can she trust him with her life? And will they both achieve what they set out to do before running out of time?



About the author...
Christoph Fischer was born in Germany, near the Austrian border, as the son of a Sudeten-German father and a Bavarian mother. Not a full local in the eyes and ears of his peers he developed an ambiguous sense of belonging and home in Bavaria. He moved to Hamburg in pursuit of his studies and to lead a life of literary indulgence. After a few years he moved on to the UK where he now lives in a small hamlet, not far from Bath.  He and his partner have three Labradoodles to complete their family. 
Christoph worked for the British Film Institute, in Libraries, Museums and for an airline. ‘The Luck of The Weissensteiners’ was published in November 2012; 'Sebastian' in May 2013 and The Black Eagle Inn in October 2013. "Time To Let Go" , his first contemporary work was published in May 2014, and “Conditions” in October 2014. His medical thriller "The Healer" was released in January 2015. 
He has written several other novels which are in the later stages of editing and finalization.





Monday, January 19, 2015

Revolt Against the Bully Culture #inspiration #BlogChat

Photo courtesy of Campaign to Unload


Lately I feel as if I've entered a time warp. In a country where the word "freedom" is tossed around to excuse everything from gun violence to hate speech, one odd trend persists---bullying others into silence. 

Last week in my son's sociology class, the teacher actually told the class that no one should question the government. Thankfully, I've raised a rebel who openly challenged her statement. This example is simply one of many in what's become a bullying culture. 

Passionate about a cause? Shh...you'll probably be called hateful names or lose a few "friends" if you speak up. Oh, and if you happen to have a public career, you'd better check yourself before you wreck all you've established--at least that's what your peers will tell you. 

Upset about being mistreated and feel it necessary to set some boundaries? Well, you'd better suck it up because if you stand up for yourself you'll be called a bitch or attacked for holding your ground. 

The sentiment of "who do you think you are" has become too embedded in our daily lives. Who do you think you are to tell me no? Who do you think you are to have an opinion contrary to mine? Who do you think you are to state exactly what you will or will not tolerate? Who do you think you are to expect respect? Who do you think you are to question what's happening in the world? Who do you think you are to question at all? 

I know who I am. I know what resonates with my soul. I am a liberal and proud of it. I love other people as fellow human beings striving to enjoy this planet. I believe in a higher power and that we are all connected. I believe we all have a voice that needs to be heard and respected. I trust myself enough to let people go who don't respect my feelings. I respect myself enough to say "this is unacceptable and I deserve better." 

Bullying is usually only spoken about in schools, but I've discovered that bullies never grow up. They are becoming more and more powerful in today's world thanks to social media and what appears to be a lack of common decency shown to fellow human beings. 

As an author, we discuss trolls all the time. Trolls are people on the internet who attack authors with one star ratings and false reviews for the sake of "taking someone down" or "proving a point." Dare to speak up directly and you'll be attacked even more. This is common place. Just last week a fellow author dared speak up about this phenomena only to be criticized by her peers and attacked by more trolls. As the "attacks" intensified, I heard peers of mine actually say she deserved it for speaking out. Do you see what's wrong with this picture? This is so common that no one in the industry blinks--but don't dare speak up. Shh...the bullies have the power. 

What would you do if you saw someone being attacked in the street? Would you think they deserved it? Would you intervene? Would you avert your eyes and pretend you didn't see it? Would you record it with your phone and post it on Twitter later? 

Compassion, common decency, and humanity are not words of weakness but of strength. It takes more courage to do the right thing than the wrong one. 

As for my son's sociology teacher, she must not be familiar with the saying 'dissent is the highest form of patriotism.' Is she not familiar with how this country came into existence?

Revolt! Be true to yourself and your integrity. Don't allow someone to make you feel as if your voice isn't valued. It is. We've become silent unless hiding behind an anonymous screen name. We mutter behind closed doors or with like-minded people who we deem 'safe' rather than saying exactly what we feel for fear of retribution--either public or personal. 

The bullies are winning. They want us to remain silent, to forget our personal power, to cower away from conflict, to embrace fear, to ignore the causes that resonate deep with our hearts. Why are we allowing this? Have we forgotten what the word 'freedom' truly means? It doesn't belong to a select few who are louder and meaner than you--freedom belongs to us all and we have a duty to ourselves to speak up and stand strong. 

Who do you think you are to dare speak your truth? No. The real question is: who are you to dare remain silent? 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Gotta Love Curvy Girls! #Romance #AuthorInterview

I'm so happy to host Kristabel Reed today for an author interview and a peek at her new release, Princess Curvy: A Curvy Italian Affair. Love, love, love it!

Welcome, Kristabel!  Please tell us a little about yourself—things that aren't necessarily in your official author bio: 

I have a very demanding corgi. If she doesn’t get her “official writing treat” by the time I sit down to write, she gets very upset.

Food of the gods: Pizza and chocolate

Okay, thinking about this and realizing I spend a lot of time writing and making up things. If I didn’t write fiction, I’d be a pathological liar.

I love your honesty! I know what you mean about the pathological liar bit--I'd probably be in a straight jacket talking to my imaginary friends if I didn't write. 
How would you describe your books to a reader who hasn't read your work yet?

Princess Curvy, the 5th in my Curvy Girl series is great fun and I had a blast writing it. The entire Curvy Girl series is my counterpoint to the media’s obsession to ultra skinny. The song, “All about the Bass” came at a very opportune time for me! I feel it reflects what I was trying to get across with the Curvy Girls.

Why write in this particular genre? Do you have any other genres that interest you or is this one your main passion?

I write in multiple genres, but chose this one because a dear friend of mine has a plus size blog (www.sugarplumplus.com) and in talking with her I realized there was a desire for this sort of fun, curvy stories. As a curvy girl myself, I enjoyed writing these heroines. And wonder why I hadn’t before!

I think many women can relate to the curvy girl--or should I say "real woman" persona. As far as the creative process goes, do you have a story idea or a character concept first?

Story idea! Always the story first. I tweak my characters to go with the story and figure out what character will work with, or challenge really, the story concept.

Please tell us about a current work-in-progress (or latest release):


Natalia Dolcini had dusted off an old Italian title to launch her fashion line—Princapessa Natalia for curvy women. A line that made women look sexy, young, and gorgeous. And she loved every minute creating it. She led a charmed life in Milan and knew it.

Until Adam Clayworth waltzed into her life. Infuriatingly handsome, the sexy banker had an old-fashioned charm to him Natalia found hard to resist. So she didn’t. When he asked her for an introduction, she was more than happy to comply—only for it to end in shouts and accusations. Her temper got the best of her when she promptly threw Adam out of her house.

What she hadn’t expected was for that night to bring her into a banking intrigue Adam investigated. Or for Adam to become her lover. But then Adam’s investigation turns dangerous.

Natalia finds it difficult to keep her own heart safe as they race from Milan to Portofino and back again. Will their Italian affair end after the danger does? Or will it be an affair to remember?

Ooo...it sounds so good! As an author, what do you want readers to take away from your stories after they read the words 'the end'?

A couple things: I want them to have enjoyed it, of course! But specifically with the Curvy Series, that no matter what size you are, you are desirable, fun, smart, and can be anything you want to be. You shouldn’t believe you can’t have anything good in your life. Because you can.

What do you do for fun that doesn't involve writing or reading?

Travel. Not to exotic far off places, though I want to. But to the beach or the mountains; I like walking along the different areas and exploring. Then the normal things: family, playing with the dog, museums (I love museums!), friends.

What is the most adventurous thing you have done either personally or professionally?

I’ve been parasailing in St. Maarten (awesome fun!) and took an unescorted tour in Western China on a train that most westerners don’t get to experience. It was an experience, let me tell you!

That last one sounds like a story in the making! Good for you. Let's take a look inside Princess Curvy...

Excerpt...

She’d left early. Natalia had ignored the shocked and somewhat knowing look Violet had given her when she’d announced her departure. She’d flat-out ignored Gina as her American assistant asked if she had a hot date.
Because she wasn’t leaving early to get ready for said definitely-not-a-date. She was leaving early because her mind had been nowhere near her designs or budgets or production. Natalia was angry with herself.
She’d done all the dinner party preparations, calling in Piero, a local chef she used from time to time, to do the actual cooking. Carlotta was many things, but a fine dining cook was definitely not one of them. Mostly, Natalia had wondered why she’d chickened out. Chickened out? Was that the right term?
Yes, she’d heard Gina use that phrase. It was correct. Mostly. She wouldn’t have done that before, not with a man she was attracted to. A man she wanted in her bed.
Now, standing in front of her wardrobe, Natalia cursed herself for pulling back.
Idiota.”
Her entire life, she’d railed against women not feeling good about their bodies. Her line was especially designed for women with curves, to make them feel sexy and confident.
Turning for the mirrors, she glared at herself even as she ran her hands over her full hips. She loved her curves, her voluptuous breasts and wide hips. Confident and sexy, yes, but more she was comfortable in her own skin, with her body.
This was Italy and she knew her body was appreciated in the usual Italian ways—pinched and whistled at. She was amazed she wasn’t black and blue all the time. Other cultures thought it sexist, and Natalia admitted it was, but…
But what? She was more than attracted to Adam. The dark eyes that took her breath away, the way he watched her, so mysterious and yet knowing. They held secrets, ones she wanted to slowly unwrap, layer by layer. They also told a story, one Natalia had been shocked to discover she’d also wanted to know.
He probably looked at everyone that way, watching them from an aloof stance at the corner of the room. Yes, that description fit him perfectly. Fit Adam and intrigued her. He was so utterly different from her—the reserved British man who definitely held all his secrets closely to his chest.
And she was the complete opposite. Bold and brash, with no true secrets, open for all the world to see. And, normally, very sexual. Except, apparently, when it came to Adam. Natalia couldn’t believe she’d backed away from him in her showroom. She hadn’t joined in the dance he’d started and that still shocked her.
Natalia prided herself on flirting with the best of them. Apparently not Adam Clayworth.
And that needed to change.

Keep reading! Buy it now!


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

#Grief and the Holidays

Christmases with my deceased husbands weren't always the best. I remember that last Christmas before he died when the kids and I ate McDonalds' at the Sheraton because he'd come home drunk off his ass and we'd needed to flee on Christmas Eve. The bed had been lopsided and the pool had been closed, but the kids had been little and we'd had a "party"--just the three of us--while I muttered to them about "it's all going to be okay."

How many times have I said that to them?

One Christmas to the next, some better than others, with one constant--me promising that everything will be okay.

But sometimes they aren't okay, no matter how bright the Christmas lights or how many presents are piled beneath the tree.

This year there are no presents beneath the tree and they're old enough to question my promises of "it's all going to be okay." My health is the worst it's been and my own mortality is at the forefront of my brain while I plaster on the smile and tell them and everyone that "it's all going to be okay."

Grief is always challenging, but when the holidays creep up, the pressure to be "fine" is amplified. Perhaps there is an ornament that brings back a special memory, a stocking with a name on it that you debate about hanging on the mantel until--finally--you put it back in the box, an empty chair at the dinner table, a gift you find that would be perfect for the one who's gone, a song that makes you smile with a tear in your eye, or a story you'd like to share with that person who is no longer here...or maybe it's just that you feel extra alone.

As the years pass, people forget about those of us who have lost a loved one. Society always has a timetable and, in my situation, the time is up! No one even thinks of us anymore--too much time has passed and our loss is no longer mentioned. The first year after a loss is filled with concerned people, but as the years pass, we find ourselves more alone than ever. It's still just us three--but we didn't "move on" per society's expectations so we've been abandoned.

I haven't remarried.

I haven't relocated.

And, oh yeah, my husband killed himself and I'm still alone so there must be something really wrong with me, right?

It's my fault...my fault...all of it...even then...should have done this, said that, done more...Society is right, there must be something wrong with me for still caring, still missing him... The whispers of guilt dance beneath the festive songs and linger on the winter wind.

Why should I miss someone who was so lost that his own family had to flee on Christmas Eve? Well, I don't miss that person...the addict...I miss the man I loved before it all went to hell. I miss the promise of us, of an ideal. I miss the security that once was long ago. No, I don't miss the addict, but now that's it's Christmas Eve, I remember that last one with such clarity that I can smell the french fries in that lonely hotel room and it makes me sad.

Grief is not only about death...it's about loss of trust and loss of innocence, too. Grief is complicated and layered and tricky and messy.

Many people out in the world aren't fine. They may be hiding behind a smile and pretending that they've moved on so that you feel comfortable, but more than likely, they're thinking of broken promises and dreams, of what-ifs and never-mores.

Yes, it's the season of miracles and compassion. So if you know someone who's lost someone--even if it's been several years--let them know you care with a text or a simple email. One word of love can reassure someone that "it's all going to be okay" and that they're not alone.

Hope is in the air. It always is when we choose to feel it, but sometimes it's lost beneath the sorrow.

***Amber Lea Easton is the author of the inspirational memoir, Free Fall, that has been named 4th on the "10 Most Inspiring True Stories Everyone Must Read" list.  Her intention with discussing issues of addiction, grief and suicide are simply to make the topics less taboo so that those who have survived similar circumstances never need to feel isolated. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

There Comes a Time #Inspiration #life

There comes a time...

to stop pretending to be fine

to say what you really feel

to reject conformity

to question everything

to embrace your power

to confront the bullies

to take a risk

to take a stand

to let go of the past

to forgive

to love again

to be fearless

to kiss

to kick ass

to dance

to nap

to shout

to sing at the top of your lungs

to demand respect

to say screw it and screw you

There comes a time to break free and be true to your soul. 

Time.
Can you feel it sleeping through your fingers like tiny grains of sand?  

AL Easton
The Movie Viewers, 1952--Photograph by J.R. Eyerman

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Free Fall, 4 of "10 Most Inspiring True Stories" #Inspiration #AmReading

I'm proud to announce that my nonfiction book, Free Fall, has been named 4th on the "10 Most Inspiring True Stories Everyone Must Read" list (http://goo.gl/r14kgv). It's shocking for me, and I mean that honestly, to receive not only such high praise from industry professionals, but to receive emails from all over the world thanking me for sharing this story. All of it exceeds my expectations. 

When I sat down to write this book--when I opened up tear-stained journals written during the worst time of my life and cried all over again at the sheer pain in those pages--I asked myself an important question...why do I want to do this? 

Why open up those wounds? 

Why expose my life to the world?

One answer came to me time and time again: I wanted to share my story so that no one else would ever feel as alone as I did during the darkest journey I'd ever undertaken. 

Suicide is a word that most people feel uncomfortable talking about. They want to change the subject or skim over it with statements that may seem 'polite' but are often hurtful. This book is not only for those who have experienced a loss of this nature, but also for everyone to gain a better understanding of what it's truly like to walk that lonely path. 

People from around the world now share their stories with me and thank me for opening my heart to them. I feel honored and humbled when I read their words and realize that I fulfilled my intention. My why served its purpose...and perhaps my pain did as well. 

Free Fall's blurb...

"Understanding suffering always helps the energy of compassion to be born." 
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

In an instant my husband stripped away my identity as wife, stay-at-home mom, and best friend. With his suicide, our world changed forever. He'd been the center of our universe, but then he was gone. 

Grief is a dark journey, one often tainted with judgment and false perceptions. Add the word 'suicide' to the mix and more complications arise. This memoir, Free Fall, is intended for those who may be facing their own tragedy and feeling alone, hopeless, confused, scared, and misunderstood.

Free Fall is the journey of piecing our lives back together—overcoming children's anxiety as we traversed the brutal grief and trauma process, learning to say the words 'widow' and 'single mom' without cringing, surviving the fall out with friends and family who simply couldn't understand our healing process, triumphing over the stigma of 'suicide', forgiving my husband, and finding peace after chaos.


Free Fall is for widows, widowers, parents, survivors of suicide, family members or friends of one who mourns. This story is for anyone who needs encouragement that there is another side to grief. There is. We're there now. We're looking back and holding our hands out to you saying, "hang in there, you're not alone, and you'll get here, too."

An excerpt...
“I wore your promise on my finger for one year
I'll wear your name on my heart til I die
Because you were my boy, you were my only boy forever.”

Chapter Five
It's the day of the funeral. I didn't sleep at all last night. The kids won't let me out of their sight so they slept in my bed, which is fine.  I stayed up writing all night, trying to get my eulogy right. I must protect Sean, that's all I can think. Everyone has their ideas of him and his death, I've already heard the claims. "How selfish of him, how cowardly."  Well, today is not a day for that. I won't have it.  I'm determined to stick up for him. That's my job as his wife, his widow. I must protect him...like I did in life, I suppose. I can't help feeling like I failed at that given where I am at the moment.  
I crumble to my knees in my closet, the same place he died.  I hold my black dress to my body. Despair ravages through me. Raw. Unyielding. 
"How could you leave me?" I ask the place on the tile where I'd given him CPR. "How could you leave us? I don't know what to do or what to say or where to begin or how to do any of this alone. I am so mad at you, do you hear me?"
I curl up with my dress in my arms and sob. I want him back. I want this all to be a nightmare. Silent, body curling sobs roll through me. 
"I love you so much," I manage to say against my fist. "I'm so sorry I didn't save you." 
Jo appears out of nowhere and grabs my shoulders, "It's going to be okay. You can do this."
"I don't know how to do this."
"You do. Come on. You can do this." She pulls me up. "One day you'll realize that you're better off."
No one knows what to say to me. No one knows the right words. 
I get dressed like a zombie, not caring about how I look. 
The funeral home is on the phone, my mom says. I need to pull it together, handle things.  
"Your father-in-law is requesting half of Sean's ashes," the woman on the phone tells me.  
Half of what? My hands shake on the phone. The idea of splitting Sean's body up like that even more...the fact that the man hadn't had the respect of asking me directly or even to give me his condolences the other day...and there's that bit about him not speaking to his son for the past three years.  
"He has no right to them," the woman continues when I remain silent. "You're the widow, you paid for this service. He has no right to them unless you give me permission."
"No," I say.  
CrazyLand, USA, I swear.  
The term "stranger than fiction" enters my mind while I convey the story to my family as we get ready to leave for the church. I'm scared of going to the church, actually. I don't expect anyone to be there. Sean and I were each other's best friends so our social circle was limited.  We did everything together.  It's the last day of school so I don't expect any of the soccer parents to be there. What a shame, an empty church for a wonderful man. 
But people are at the church. Jo and my family had put together a picture collage of Sean. One of the photos had been taken exactly one week ago while we'd been snorkeling in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, as a family of four.  I squeeze the kids' hands a bit tighter and we walk to the front pew. I don't want to greet people or talk yet, not until I give the eulogy. My entire body is shaking. I don't want to be here. I want to be back in Mexico with my gorgeous husband walking on the sand.  
The music, the hymns that I chose, all are happening around me. I go through the motions. Sit. Stand. Sing. 
Then it's time for me to talk about him—my moment to make sure everyone knows he is more than a man who committed suicide.  That's when I look up and see the people who've shown up for us. The entire back two pews are full of men who worked for Sean—they're crying. I see my cousins, my brother, and my parents, all who've traveled a great distance to be here. I see friends. I see Sean's side of the family; his mother bent over in tears, his stepfather and biological father, relatives from California.  All are looking at me.  
I don't know if I have the strength to speak. What was I thinking? I glance at my pastor who has tears in her eyes. 
Then I feel as if I'm being held up—I feel a presence at my side, holding my arm, keeping me from falling.  I look at my two little kids and speak.  
I tell the room of a man who dragged us outside in the middle of the night to watch meteor showers, who loved the ocean and mountains, who loved his family, who enjoyed his job working outside every day. I tell them all how he taught his daughter to boogie board, both kids to ski before they could walk, and how he taught me to push past my comfort zone.  I speak only of the man I loved. 
I never take my gaze from my kids' faces. I do this for them. I want them to remember my words. I want them to remember their father for who he was, not how he died.  

Reviews...

5 stars via Author Susan Hawthorne:Have you ever wondered what you should say... or not say... or were afraid to say anything at all, read this. The insights are deep and true.
I'd recommend this book to everyone. We all suffer loss at some point and this book lights the path. (see full review here: http://amzn.to/15PXtsu)

5 stars via ChristophFischerBooks:
I cannot recommend this book strongly enough. From the moment Easton finds her husband, to the humiliating and insensitive behaviour of the emergency and police services on the scene, to family and friends unable to provide appropriate help to dealing with the long term consequences of bereavement this book is an emotional tour de force that will stay with me for a long time.
A remarkable woman, an inspiring book, outstandingly told and indispensable on the self-help / inspirational publishing market. Tragic, raw, without make-up but with a message of hope and encouragement for others. (see full review here: http://amzn.to/15PXtsu)

5 stars via Pastor Jennifer Swier: Free Fall is a helpful and encouraging look into one family's journey with the pain and healing of losing someone deeply loved through suicide. Her sharing is warm, loving, encouraging, and thoughtful. I found I couldn't put it down once I began. Amber's writing is compelling and will connect with all who share the journey with a family member or friend who is healing following the tragic death of the person they love: that we may begin to imagine what they are going through only because we hear the story they share.  (see full review here: http://amzn.to/15PXtsu)

5 stars via linz: 
This book has helped me with my own grief. I would recommend this book to anyone. But more to those who don't understand losing someone to suicide.
She is very honest in laying out her and her family's experience. It's refreshing to read true experience rather than text book advise. (see full review here: http://amzn.to/15PXtsu)

Amazon (Universal link): getBook.at/FreeFall
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/H0QBCr
OmniLit (all ebook formats): http://goo.gl/QFZa7G
iTunes  http://goo.gl/d5COKx