Sunday, April 2, 2017

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Stephen Jared, Author and Actor

Stephen Jared, Actor and Author
NEED MORE ROAD
Stephen Jared’s newest novel, NEED MORE ROAD, offers what Jared describes as his own “temperament” on a “classic subject”—a bank heist turned into romance. He uses the setting of the 1950s in Barstow, Calif. to support his plot and develop his characters. Reviewers applaud his “insight into human nature” and add that his books are “dramatic, adventuresome, and infused with real emotion.”

In addition to writing novels that include adventure stories set in the 1930s and 1940s, Jared is also an actor and has appeared in movies such as He's Just Not That Into You, and on television series such as iCarly and Criminal Minds. He is currently Associate Producer of a documentary on the illustrator Richard Amsel. And he is busy writing his next adventure story and plans to release it the end of the year.

Q: Would you characterize your newest book, NEED MORE ROAD, as a romance or suspense novel? What drew you to write this story?

Stephen Jared: A million bank heist stories have been told. So, once I had the idea, I began thinking of it like how a painter might approach a still life or landscape. There’s only one reason to paint such a thing, and that’s to express one’s own temperament through a classic subject. As such, it evolved into an eccentric romance. It starts with suspense surrounding a crime but, for me, it’s more interesting to see where the characters go from there. Without a doubt, there’s some genre-bending going on. I saw that as a good thing but some readers have been thrown by it.  

Q: I know you’ve written many novels set in the first half of the 20th century. What draws you to this time period? Would NEED MORE ROAD have been a different story if set in present-day rather than in the 1950s?

Stephen Jared: Some writers capture their own era so beautifully. Fitzgerald and Hemingway leap to mind. I’m not that smart. I’m confused by our modern world. I can’t get enough of a handle on it to write about it. When I look back to an earlier era, however, objectivity and generalizations become easier. As example, NEED MORE ROAD is set in the 1950s, and I gave a lot of thought to why the 1950s was a car culture. Obviously, people had more money after the war, but that doesn’t answer why people would drive to a restaurant and have dinner brought to them in their cars. People were cruising and drag racing. Teenagers were getting cars and parking while on dates. People were going to Drive-Ins and watching films in their cars. I wondered if there was a lot of anxiety and restless energy after the war, and maybe cars helped alleviate some of that. You could put things behind you faster behind the wheel of a car. Some of these ideas found their way into NEED MORE ROAD. The distance from iconic elements of an era maybe gives my mind some room to think.    

Q: A reviewer says of your protagonist, Eddie, that you’ve created “a poignant character study of a lonely man living in quiet desperation.” Is NEED MORE ROAD more about your characters, particularly Eddie, than about the plot?

Stephen Jared: I think the book’s success or failure pivots on the degree to which readers find Eddie engaging. What appealed to me was this guy who has always lived vicariously through fictional characters, now he’s almost fifty, meets someone, and feels he’s plunged into a different world, and it’s a world he wants to stay in. In order to continue, he takes a massive risk. Reality proves hard, fraught with dangers. Reality lands every punch and it’s brutal. But only in reality can Eddie lose the loneliness that’s plagued him his whole life. The plot ended up driven very much by what I wanted to express through the character.  

Q: Do you consider Eddie a hero? Why or why not?

Stephen Jared: He’s dysfunctional. He’s cowardly. He’s an unhappy guy. Constantly questioning everything. When he pulls his head out of the cinema long enough to see himself as he really is he goes so far as to involve himself in a crime with hopes of becoming someone new. Of course, people can’t change overnight, but in going down a different road he finds strength he didn’t have before. He gains some satisfaction. He actually begins living a life not so different from the fictional characters he used to envy on the silver screen. It’s hard to change your life, to leave everything you know behind. Eddie does a heroic thing. But, no, he’s not a hero at all. 

Q: Why did you set NEED MORE ROAD in Barstow, Calif.? Does this location support your plot or help develop characters?

Stephen Jared: 1950s Barstow was small. It was a place people passed through without paying much attention to it. It lacked glamor. It lacked significance, and it was surrounded by nothing but desert. I felt it offered a reflection of Eddie Howard, the main character.

Q: Reviewers hint that NEED MORE ROAD is different from your other books, which are more hard-boiled pulp fiction.  Do you agree?  (Please do not divulge the end of your story to respond to this question.)

Stephen Jared: I see it as an extension of what I was doing with the last one, THE BRUTAL ILLUSION, which was something more introspective. I love hard-hitting noirs and adventures, but if you remain really true to the form the stories risk becoming nothing more than homage. I think you have to offer something different. I think uniqueness is found in self-expression; you just have to be careful about becoming overly self-indulgent. 

Q: How helpful is humor at developing your characters or plot?

Stephen Jared: Humor is a plus. I think especially so if you’re working with a melancholic character like Eddie. You have to lighten things up here and there.

Q: As an actor, can you apply aspects of script-writing to writing a novel, e.g., scene development, dialogue-based, showing rather than telling?

Stephen Jared: Both require some similar skills. I don’t think one is easier than the other but the function of each demands a very different discipline. A script is more like an architect’s blueprint for a house. The readers of a script are fellow craftsmen. A novel isn’t assigned dozens of interpretive artists to jump on board and move it through a long process before it hits the marketplace. It begins and ends with the written word.

Q: What’s next?

Stephen Jared: I’m currently at work on another Jack Hunter adventure. I hope to get it out in the Fall.

Q: What have you been doing recently in addition to writing?

Stephen Jared:  I’m Associate Producer of a documentary on the illustrator Richard Amsel. It’s a film by Adam McDaniel, and there’s probably no one better suited to be making a film about Amsel. It’s been great to be supporting him however I can. I’m also still acting. I recently did an episode of The Young and The Restless, which aired a couple of weeks ago.

About Stephen Jared

Stephen Jared grew up in a small Ohio town in the late 1970s/early 1980s. He was at the cinema every weekend. When considering what he might do as an adult he only had one idea: he wanted to work in movies. In the summer of 1989 he moved to Los Angeles. He was twenty-one years old. Since then, he’s appeared as an actor in movies such as He's Just Not That Into You, and on television series such as iCarly and Criminal Minds.

In 2010, he wrote JACK AND THE JUNGLE LION, a novel inspired by 1930s Hollywood. Having received much critical praise, Solstice Publishing began releasing his work, starting with TEN-A-WEEK STEALE, hailed as a “fantastic work in the tradition of the old pulp/noir masters.”  THE ELEPHANTS OF SHANGHAI continued on from where JACK AND THE JUNGLE LION left off, and went on to take Second Place at the 2013 Hollywood Book Festival. 2014 saw the release of THE BRUTAL ILLUSION, considered by many to be his best work.   

While remaining busy as both author and actor, Stephen is also Associate Producer of an upcoming documentary about movie poster legend Richard Amsel who created classic illustrations for Flash Gordon and Raiders of the Lost Ark, among others, in the late 1970s/early 1980s. 


Eddie lives a life of uncommon routine. At nearly fifty-years-old, he’s only ever lived in one house. Bored with his bank job, he spends evenings at the movies where he lives vicariously through Rock Hudson and Robert Mitchum. With one screen in town he often sees the same picture repeatedly. He finds Hollywood fantasies infinitely more enticing than reality. Late one Friday, a woman walks into the bank. Her name is Mary Rose, and she looks like Marilyn Monroe. Her father came into money and the two are looking to settle in a small town. Infatuated, Eddie breaks from routines and spends time with her. While she couldn't be sweeter, her father is different. He has a roughness about him, an edge. This becomes especially clear when he requests Eddie's help with a bank heist. Mary Rose’s interest in Eddie was only to lure him into helping her father. Eddie understands this now. Walking away is the obvious move. He knows it’s the right thing to do. Yet her attention and affection and beauty have made him feel alive for the first time. All he has to do is unlock a door.

Links

Twitter...@stephen_jared









Wednesday, March 29, 2017

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Chioma Nnani, Author, Publisher

Chioma Nnani, Author
BECAUSE HOME IS
FOREVER THERE FOR YOU
Welcome back Chioma Nnani who brings us her second book, BECAUSE HOME IS, “a collection of short stories about finding home, going home, and being home.” Previously, she told us about her novel, FOREVER THERE FOR YOU, a coming-of-age, chick lit, modern romance, contemporary fiction book. She wrote the short stories in BECAUSE HOME IS because she wanted to explore why people run to and away from something—and the concept of home helps answer the question.

In addition to writing, Nnani also started her own publishing house to give herself more control over her own books and also to help “internationalize” African authors’ works for publication. She holds multiple degrees, including a law degree, and has won many awards for her writing. She definitely plans to continue writing and is working on more short stories, her second novel, and a trilogy targeted at teenagers which she plans to release this summer. Given her schedule, her most prized past-time is “sleeping.”

Don't miss the excerpt from BECAUSE HOME IS following the interview.

Q: What drove you to write short stories about BECAUSE HOME IS? Were your experiences with your own home particularly meaningful?

Chioma Nnani: I read a novel a long time ago by Faye Kellerman, in which one of the characters – a police officer – said that everyone is either running away from or towards something. But over time, it dawned on me that people run because they are uncomfortable. Discomfort can come in different ways. You stop running when you have peace. Home is where you have peace.

Q: How do you define “home?” I frequently think of Robert Frost’s definition: "Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in." Would that definition fall within your descriptions or experiences?

Chioma Nnani: Home is a person, place or thing where you can be naked and unashamed. You don't have to run any more when you get home. There are various routes to home because it's different for many people and it takes different lengths of time for everyone to get there. But when you get there, you're there. Safe. You can be challenged or kept on your toes, but you're safe. Home and dry.

Q: Do you believe that the experience of “home” contributes to a positive approach to life? Or do negative people also have a “home” they can relate to? Does even the most heinous criminal comprehend the concept of home?

Chioma Nnani: Hmm … I'd like to think that the contributions of home are always positive and this is bearing in mind that 'positive' is a subjective term. However, there are people who will cover for even the most heinous criminal. And as uncomfortable as that sounds, even they have a home of some sort.

Q: Do you write that home is a concept of the future for people, i.e., it is what we search for? Or is home where we’re from? Both?

Chioma Nnani: I find it tends to be one or the other. Sometimes, you're looking for or you think you're looking for something and there are times when it's right in front of you. Or you find that you're enough.

Q: What would restrict or amplify the meaning of home: wealth, freedom, environment?

Chioma Nnani: Freedom. Freedom in every sense; you can't beat freedom. A place, relationship or job where you have no freedom is a jail cell; that's not home.

Q: You have also published a novel, FOREVER THERE FOR YOU, and have won numerous writing awards, earned an LLB degree, and founded The Fearless Storyteller House Emporium Ltd., a publishing company. How do you carve out time to write? Do you have a routine?

Chioma Nnani: (laughing) The company is actually a media and publishing company, so the publishing bit is literally just one department. There's a department that works with entrepreneurs and SMEs, providing done-for-you services to enable them focus on their real business. And there's another department that focuses on screen, stage and audio productions. Another whose remit is online and offline training.

So, I do have a bit of a routine. I work with 90-day plans and each entry on the plan is a specific goal with a definite completion date. So, there are four for this year. We're in March so I'm working my way through the first one and it's going pretty well. It helps me with accountability and discipline, because it's not just about writing down “X must be completed by so-and-so date”. There's also a column in which I write something like “B is the repercussion if X is not completed by the specified date.”

I take a look at the plan twice a week to be sure of where I am and what it is I need to be doing, or even what part of the company needs immediate attention. Many of my blog posts and social media posts are scheduled, so I don't have to live on my social media accounts or on my blogazine. I am very brutal with my time; I don't even attend events or stuff that I don't want or have to.

Q: When would you choose to write a short story over a novel? Is it topic- or plot-related? Or does one require more character development?

Chioma Nnani: Oh gosh, I think a short story takes a level of discipline and bravery that's different from a novel. With a short story, you have it at the back of mind that you've only got so many words to play with. It's not a novel, you don't have the luxury of 80,000 words or whatever. I mean with BECAUSE HOME IS … each story is 5,000 words and having to condense everything – plot, flow, character, climax, everything – in a way that still leaves an impact and is a complete story in itself; it's not hard, it's just different.

Q: What drove you to create your own publishing company?

Chioma Nnani: I wanted more creative control and I like a challenge. And I wanted to help other aspiring authors across Africa who didn't know where to turn. It's one thing to have a company agree to take on your work. It's another thing for the company to respect your work and not strip it of its essence. Many of my authors tell purely Afro-centric stories and it does mean a lot to them to have a publisher who gets where they are coming from and can tweak their voice for an international audience without compromising them.

Q: What writing project are you currently working on? What can we expect to see next: another novel or more short stories?

Chioma Nnani: More short stories. I am actually working on my second full-length novel and a collaborative autobiography. But before those come out, there are three books (a trilogy) aimed at teenagers to be released this summer.

Q: What have you been doing to relax lately, assuming you have time?

Chioma Nnani: Sleep!

About Chioma Nnani

Chioma Nnani is an award-winning storyteller, as well as a two-time UK BEFFTA (Black Entertainment Film Fashion Television and Arts) Award nominee, in the 'Best Author' category. Chioma was a 2016 DIVAS OF COLOUR finalist (in the category of “Diva Author”), a 2016 CREATIVE AFRICAN Awards finalist (in the category of “Best Fiction Writer”), and was named “One of 100 Most Influential Creatives” in 2016 by C.Hub Magazine. She holds a Law (LLB) degree from the University of Kent and a Postgraduate Certificate in Food Law (De Montfort University, Leicester). She is the founder of THE FEARLESS STORYTELLER HOUSE EMPORIUM LTD, and runs the “Memo From A Fearless Storyteller” blogazine at www.fearlessstoryteller.com for which she won the 2016 BEFFTA (Black Entertainment Film Fashion Television and Arts) Award for “Blog of the Year”.

BECAUSE HOME IS … is her second book.


Some say that "Everyone is running from, or towards something".
But you run till you get 'home'.

Everyone wants to go home. You run till you get 'home'. Because 'home' is that person, thing, or place where you can be naked and unashamed.

BECAUSE HOME IS... is a collection of short stories about finding home, going home, and being home.

Excerpt

They first met in his office. Victor ran a diagnostics outfit in one of the plushest areas of the Nigerian capital – a clinic you went to if you wanted people who knew what they were doing. She had come seeking a second opinion with regard to a blood test she had taken somewhere else. From the second he laid eyes on Patricia Ezekwe, Victor Cobham thought she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. He knew her by reputation; Trisha was the industrious young woman behind a lifestyle brand whose products were sweeping through the African continent like wildfire. Stories of her intelligence preceded her. She looked as good as she sounded; her voice was like music to his ears and the stories of her intelligence preceded her. From what he had heard, brands paid her to mention them on social media. He didn't even understand how that worked, but it seemed to work well for her. She was one of the richest, most eligible spinsters in Abuja. Her honesty was refreshing; if she didn't think something was a good fit for her brand, she would refuse to touch it. She expected the same of the staff employed across the businesses that made up Trisha's Emporium – there was a website through which she sold clothes and other fashion items, sourced from upcoming African designers; a luxury concierge shopping service for the super-wealthy looking into specific pieces of real estate all over the world; and a healthy eating mini-empire, which was responsible for the creation and marketing of cakes, smoothies, fruit drinks, cereals and alkaline water. That was how Trisha managed to have women of different classes, ages and financial standing falling over her – she had at least one product or service aimed at them.

It turned out she had been right to seek a second opinion on her blood test; the previous laboratory results had been flawed due to what turned out to be a clerical error. Victor felt an immense rush of relief, when he told her what she needed to know. Asking her out, hadn't been as easy. There were so many reasons for her not to want him. His last girlfriend had said as much, which was part of the reason that she had become an ex. He didn't even like remembering her. So sour was the taste she had left in his mouth. Yet, there were a lot of things about Trisha that made him feel inadequate.

Victor was one of the most eligible bachelors in the city, but he didn't see himself that way. He was consumed with work and didn't really have time to date. It didn't help that there weren't very many prospects for him to date. The ones who were actually available seemed incapable of holding a conversation. Oh, they were physically beautiful, but they tended to fall short in the brains department; there appeared to be some sort of competition among women to see who could be the least intelligent. It was like it was a badge of honour or something. But it was obvious that Trisha had not received that memo. What was all the more frustrating was that there was no way she would be interested in him.

Trisha found it frustrating, too. She thought she felt vibes that told her that this guy liked her. Yet, he confused her. He wouldn't get too close to her, always acted like he was afraid of touching her. In the end, she was the one who asked him out.

It was something he savoured, jut as much as their kisses. He also enjoyed talking to her and being with her. She was very energetic, and she had a heart of gold. When he told her that he had liaised with some ophthalmologists to quietly give out cataract operations to people who could not afford them, Trisha was dumbfounded. She just did not understand why he was so quiet about it. True, he was telling her but there was no media coverage whatsoever. It took Trisha the next three months to learn a lot of things about him – that he was intelligent and dedicated, kind and thoughtful. She also discovered that she was in love with him.

He told her he loved her. So, the next turn of events shocked her. One day they were talking about the future, the next, she received an email from him saying that he didn't think it wasn't a good idea for them to continue their relationship! When she tried to call him, he ignored her calls. As he did all the text messages she sent. He didn't explain. That was when she got really angry and shot back with a truly scathing email. How dare he do this to her? To them? But his reply had been a curt “Leave me alone.” That really burned. There was no way she was going to his house or office. If he didn't want to be with her, fine!

Links

BECAUSE HOME IS... is available for sale on 

Author Links





Tuesday, March 21, 2017

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: John Achile Yusuf, Author

John Achile Yusuf, Author
SURVIVAL
John Achile Yusuf wanted to envision what it would be like to need to survive. In his recently-published novel, SURVIVAL, he tells the story of a group of students who crash in the jungle. He places everyday people in the extraordinary setting of a jungle where they face a choice of waiting for help or figuring a way out.

Yusuf, who says he’s not much of an outdoors person, did travel to the forest to get a feel for what it’s like to be alone there. He also checked in with others on how it feels to survive. He considers this first novel to be adventurous literary fiction and plans to continue writing.

Don't miss the excerpt at the end of Yusuf's interview.








Q: What inspired you to write SURVIVAL? Would you characterize it as “action and adventure” or “literary fiction?” Why?

John Achile Yusuf: My inspiration for SURVIVAL came to satisfy my curiosity. A friend of mine had died in a car accident and I couldn't shake the thought that he had survived and was somewhere in the forest waiting to be rescued. Added to that, I was fresh out of secondary school with no direction whatsoever. I seemed lost myself and needed to go on a journey of discovery. SURVIVAL is what you want it to be to you. To me it is an adventure and literary fiction. Though the regions exist, the settings are fiction as are the characters. So to me, it is an adventurous literary fiction.

Q: Do you have experience “surviving” in a jungle? If not, how did you envision your characters’ actions and responses to their setting?

John Achile Yusuf: I have not had a near-death situation in the jungle if that is what you mean, but I have been in the forest a few times during the writing of the book, not to spend days but to have a feel of what it would be like to be lost. I've stayed while it rained with no covering but trees, after a while the raindrops begin to hit you. I made sure to have some of the experiences firsthand, that way I could relate with my characters. Other aspects of experiences were gathered from other sources. I remember getting information from a soldier on surviving in that kind of environment for days and how it would begin to wear you down.

Q: How do you help readers engage with your characters? Why do we care what happens to them? Have you based them on real people? Are your characters heroic or normal people set in extraordinary circumstances?

John Achile Yusuf: My characters are based on everyday people, but to draw the reader to engage with the character I try to make the character outstanding in a particular aspect. Everyone has fantasies of what could be, and when you see someone with what you wish you had, you'll want to know how it plays out; one could relate with a particular character because it reminds him/her of someone and so on.

This will make you care what happens to the character, because you have either linked the character to yourself or someone you know; better still, you'll care because at that moment (reading the book) you have become a part of that world and you'd want to know how the characters fare.

The characters are mostly based on real people. But the trick is to take traits from a couple or more people and merge them into one character. The characters are not heroic, they are just everyday people plunged into extraordinary circumstances.

Q: By setting the book in the jungle, you were able to present specific circumstances to your characters in order to tell your story. How did your setting support your story?

John Achile Yusuf: In order for an adventure to take place, there has to be events and these events had to be created. In this case the setting is in a jungle. It was an open-ended setting. They have a chance at life; wait to be rescued – if at all help will come – or try to find a way out. In life people are programmed to survive, this story reflects the struggles young people go through when faced with decisions. Without proper guidance, many are lost and are never recovered.

Q: Is SURVIVAL a story to inform readers? Or to entertain?

John Achile Yusuf: It serves as both entertainment and a lesson to inform about the struggle for survival and the urgent need for guidance

Q:  Are there villains in SURVIVAL? What characteristics contribute to a compelling villain?

John Achile Yusuf: Not villains per say, just everyone playing out their roles and trying to survive. A compelling villain will be at the center of the story, working his way into the hearts of the readers/audience, make them hate, despise, blame or even like him/her. Not all villains die, by the way. But a compelling villain knows he is a villain and would do anything to protect that title.

Q: How do you create the tension or suspense to cause readers to want to turn the page?

John Achile Yusuf: We have the setting, the storyline and the characters. The most important thing for me is to create a flow and keep at it. Each scene linked to another and making sure not to drop into the black hole of boredom. So I read three to four scenes back before creating a next scene. This keeps the tempo for me and if the tempo drops beyond a certain mark, I cancel and create a different scene.

Q: Do you use humor to create characters or tell your story?

John Achile Yusuf: I use humor to tell story more than I use it to create characters

Q: What’s next? Do you plan to continue writing?

John Achile Yusuf: I have various write-ups I need to work on, and yes, I hope to continue writing

Q: Tell us about John Achile Yusuf. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

John Achile Yusuf: I read, watch documentaries and movies. I am not much of an outdoor person so good movies and good music keep me going. I don't like to cook alone but I like to help when the cooking is going on.

About John Achile Yusuf

John Achile Yusuf holds a Bachelor's Degree in Geography and Planning from Kogi State University, Anyigba, Nigeria. SURVIVAL is his first book.

About SURVIVAL

When the plane carrying a group of Nigerian students to South Africa for the annual African Colleges Competition, crashes into a Congolese jungle instead, there's a lot at stake. These students were chosen to represent the nation, because of their academic brilliance and sportsmanship; their ability to beat competitors is the reason they are their country's hope.

But in the jungle, there are different sets of rules … and some are being made up along the way. Thrust by Fate into hostile territory, it's not just a question of who will survive. There's also the issue of what – their friendships, innocence, sanity, sense of right and wrong, and hopes for the future.

Excerpt

Prologue

The quiet air of the Congo jungle was suddenly broken. A fierce-looking, young man leaped over a log and through the shrubs. He was running breathlessly, cutting his way through marshy lands, hanging vines, low branches, twigs and the thistles. In his left hand, he clutched a white cowboy hat. The hat had been reduced to a dirty, brownish moistened piece of clothing, but its owner was not ready to let it go. In fact, he had just killed a man for this same hat—this same dirty brownish piece of clothing. In his right hand he held on tight to a re-curve folding knife.  It was The Commander.

He scuttled through the jungle, trying to keep from falling due to exhaustion. He kept at it. He was fleeing for dear life. There was nothing else on his mind, but to make a getaway. With no destination in mind, he ran aimlessly.

Hard on his trail were two vicious 4-foot-tall men with spears in their hands. They were quite familiar with this jungle so their feet went faster than his and began to gain on him. As he ran through the jungle, his mind raced over what would happen if he were caught. He began to think of those he had left behind, his friends who were in the hands of these brutal pygmies. It was with a jolt, that he remembered the two men he had stabbed. Had he really killed two men?

“Don’t be a fool,” he thought as he sped on.

He took a quick glance at the knife in his hand as if to make sure the bloodstain was really there and to confirm he had really stabbed the men. To his dismay and relief, there was blood smeared along the shaft of the 3-inch blade. He ran, swinging it through the air.

His blows had been precise and he had sliced the right nerves and veins, so their continued existence was out of the question. Come to think of it, taking their lives was worth it. If the men died, then he had done a good deed.

Femi was injured and it was by the arrows of one of these men. So what if he had killed them? It was in self-defense, he encouraged himself. Then his mind returned to the escape.

He had to lose these men as soon as possible, then think of what to do. As he thought on these things, his legs gained ground, vigor returned and he began to run faster. He only began to slow down when he listened but heard no footsteps behind him. He came to a sudden halt and turned around sharply. He didn’t know why he decided to stop, but a thought was forming. Perhaps he could fight these two men and take their lives as well.

But when he turned, there was nothing. Apart from the chirping of a few birds, the croaking of distant frogs looking for mates and the crickets making their evening appearance, it was just quiet. He dropped his jaw wider and let in as much air as possible—he needed the jungle air.

He remained alert. He scanned the area with his eyes and his grip on the handle of the knife became firmer. It was too quiet for his liking. He had expected his pursuers to burst through one of the openings. But they didn’t. He waited. Then, his nerves began to relax. He managed to drag himself to the hidden shades of a thicket, before beginning to sob. He went down on one knee, then on all fours, weeping hysterically.

Links
SURVIVAL  is available for purchase on 


Twitter https://twitter.com/achilegodson 

Monday, March 6, 2017

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Nataša Nuit Pantović, Author, Trainer, Yogi and Spiritual Researcher

Nataša Nuit Pantović, Author, Trainer,
Yogi & Spiritual Researcher
TREE OF LIFE
Nataša Nuit Pantović brings us her ninth book, TREE OF LIFE, as part of the Alchemy of Love Mindfulness Training series. She considers the Alchemy of Love Mindfulness a spiritual rather than a religious endeavor. TREE OF LIFE is poetry— spiritual not religious—that is an “inspirational and motivational encounter with various spiritual journeys into Love, Consciousness, Bliss.”

Nataša Nuit Pantović has traveled widely and currently lives in Malta with her two children. At the moment she is working on her next book, “Conscious Creativity.”








Q: You’ve just published the ninth book of your Alchemy of Love Mindfulness Training series. What is love mindfulness and what drove you to write this series?

Nataša Nuit Pantović: A team of spiritual researchers worked hard for 5 years to give birth to a serial: Alchemy of Love Mindfulness Training, non-fiction and fiction books that explore the alchemy of soul, and our inner quest to reach our highest potential. The serial includes 2 books on Mindful Eating (exploration of a vegetarian and vegan life-style), 2 courses on Mindful Living (Mindful Being and Conscious Parenting), 12 modules of a personal development journey that inspire creative thinking with hundreds of transformation tools, 2 spiritual poetry books (Art of 4 Elements and Tree of Life) and a Spiritual Fiction Novel set in Macau at the Time of Enlightenment (17th century) called: Ama Alchemy of Love.

Q: TREE OF LIFE is your newest book. On what aspect of love mindfulness does it focus?

Nataša Nuit Pantović: TREE OF LIFE is a spiritual poetry book that explores our relationship to Divine. Through the meditation poetry, mindfulness poems, alchemy meditations, we enter a yin & yang journey into Tao. Spiritual not Religious the book is inspirational and motivational encounter with various spiritual journeys into Love, Consciousness, Bliss.

Q: Why did you select poetry as the best way to communicate TREE OF LIFE?

Nataša Nuit Pantović: Tree of Life in various religious interpretations, within myths, and as a mystical concept represents the inter-connectedness of all life on our beautiful planet. The Tree of Life is considered to be the symbol of 'Creator'. Mayan believed that Heaven, Earth, and Underworld are connected by the ‘world tree’.  The world tree flows out into four directions. I am deeply fascinated by the four directions, the four manifestation of life on Earth and the symbolism that connects Eastern and Western mythology and philosophy.  The cross with branches passing through each of the layers of existence - underworld, earth, and the sky. The poetry expression is the easiest way to express this most amazing journey.

Q: You’ve traveled widely and researched multiple approaches to “love mindfulness.” Does one approach appeal to you more than another?

Nataša Nuit Pantović: The Eastern and Western approaches to God and spirituality developed in different directions. The western thrived exploring science, music, sports while the eastern focused on the interconnectedness of all, with a greater emphasis on myths, occult, micro-macro relationships. There are Yin and Yang approaches to life. Within my novel A-MA: ALCHEMY OF LOVE, I explore these in greater details. A-MA is set in 17th century China, at the time of first real contact of Eastern and Western civilizations, first printing books, first Universities that translated ancient works, first enlightened minds that saw that the merge of the two could lead to an amazing wisdom sharing.

Q:  Could you list 3-5 tips on how readers can practice and/or achieve love mindfulness. What’s most important in their quest?

Nataša Nuit Pantović: We all have a wish to live our highest potential and with a conscious effort we can learn to listen to our Souls. Mindfulness is a Spiritual Transformation Tool that works with Mind Training and it just cannot be compared with any 'fast food' recipe, or quick 'out of the box' enjoyment technique. Learn from the elements, from water the vastness of Blue, “Allowing oneself to Be in Silence, to Be with Nature, explore various Spiritual Exercises,…, respecting each unique Being, our Mother Earth and our amazing Matrix of Causes and Effects.” Nuit (Mindful Being quote). We waste tremendous time and energy with all the technology gadgets. I have never had a TV or a mobile phone, and I use my Internet only to work, does this fact resonate with you? Can you imagine the amount of creative time you would gain if you would learn how to “control” your technology addictions and focus on creativity, love, relationships?

Q:  You have included CONSCIOUS PARENTING in your series. Can children be taught to engage love mindfulness? Vice versa, can adults embrace it without childhood exposure? Or do we need to be reared to be mindful of love?

Nataša Nuit Pantović: After helping Father George (a most inspiring Priest who works in Africa) build a school in a remote area of Ethiopia, I decided to enter the most amazing world of parenthood adopting two angels from Ethiopia as a single mum. My 25 years of yoga and meditation, and my spiritual exploration journey through Theosophy, Zen, Tantra, Antroposophy, Yoga, my yogic vegetarian life-style where I danced barefoot in the rain, meditated for hours in search of God, read 1,000s of spiritual books still could not prepare me for the joys and troubles of parenting. My children Ema and Andrej are my biggest Conscious Parenting teachers. They took me on to this mindfulness journey of parenting taking me out of my comfort zones. It is us parents that need to engage and train Mindfulness and Love, it is us parents that need to go back to inspiration, creativity and contact with Soul, Nature, God.
'Soul stands at the center of the children growth and development, as an Essence, an Observer, consciousness coming forth to experience the magic of Life. Be tentative to the Soul’s whispers. A child has a deep longing to discover that the world is based on truth. Respect that longing. In our attempt to help children grow into inspired adults, we wish them to carry the youthfulness of their souls, and the wonders of childhood into their old age.' Nuit, Conscious Parenting

Q: You have been to many countries (50+) and exposed to many people and cultures. Do you see differences between the poor in developing countries versus the more affluent in Western developed countries regarding love mindfulness?

Nataša Nuit Pantović: My soul is the one of a nomad and I learn tremendously every time when in a different country. Travelling through Christian, Buddhist, Muslim or Hindu countries often as a single woman or without a lot of money helped me see that we are all One in our search for God, Oneness, Inspiration, Beauty, that we just call God different names. Once you hugged a 3,000 year-old Kaori tree, been chased by an elephant on your way through Savana, shared tea with Bedouins in Sahara, faced a lion walking with a Maori guide, prayed with Tibetan Buddhists, Hindu Priests, Portuguese Alchemists, within Orthodox Christian caves, you know that this amazing mix of cultures help us enter the space of New Consciousness.

Q: Do you consider love mindfulness a religion? Why or why not?

Nataša Nuit Pantović: The Alchemy of Love Mindfulness Training is Spiritual not Religious endeavor: we do not represent any Religion or a Sect. There is NO attempt to sell the offering as an offering of a ‘Guru’. The spiritual exercises from various Gurus and Philosophers are used within our mindfulness courses. We also do not want to sell ‘Instant Happiness’. No ‘Get Rich in a Day’ messages, with a firm belief that if we do learn how to listen to our Soul we will be able to live our Highest Potential.

All the major religions in the past, together with New Age philosophies, have used practices such as: mindfulness, meditation, prayer, music, dance, singing, writing, art, sports etc.  These practices improve health but also help in living a better life. Exploring the field of Mindfulness we found our mission. It is to help the explorers grow as conscious human beings. Alchemy had the same goal. We do not attempt to answer questions but to inspire the search and research within this area.

Q: What’s next? Will you continue to write love mindfulness training articles?

Nataša Nuit Pantović: At the moment I am preparing a new book called: “Conscious Creativity”. Working as Head of Business Development of a UK IT company for 10 years left me with some inspiring personal development tools that I wish to explore further within a course that has a “Creativity” focus, creativity as a divine inspiration.

Q: Tell us about Nataša Nuit Pantović. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Nataša Nuit Pantović: Nature, friends, family, books and learning something new. I learned to roller-blade when I was 25, started my Chinese and piano lessons when I was 40, went into deeper explorations of Astrology when 30. The world is full of exciting explorations and I am its very devoted explorer.

About Nataša Nuit Pantović:

Nataša Pantović Nuit is author, trainer, yogi and spiritual wesearcher who lives and works in Malta. She is the author of 9 Mindfulness Books called Alchemy of Love Mindfulness Training.

Nuit has traveled through more than 50 countries and lived in 5: UK, New Zealand, Holland, Serbia and Malta. She Worked as Head of Business Development, Trainer and Organizer of various Body Mind Spirit Festivals. In Malta, she now writes and lectures about a variety of spiritual and self-development topics.

Always fascinated with energies of: Love, Divine, Power of Mind, Creativity, Tao, Living one's Highest Potential, Nuit writes self-development courses, poetry, novels exploring topics of inner-development, esoteric or occult teachings, and New Consciousness. The main theme of her Mindfulness Books is our alchemy transformation, the alchemy of soul, our everlasting quest to find the gold within, discovering the stone that transforms metals into gold.

She holds a BSc Economics, Belgrade.


Tree of Life Spiritual Poetry Book Spiritual Poetry. The beauty and wisdom of alchemy is in transforming a soul into its highest potential. Within the Nordic cultural myths we find Yggdrasil, the tree that provides a magical spring-water of knowledge. In Chinese mythology a Taoist story tells us of a peach magical tree that produces a peach every three thousand years. The one who eats the fruit becomes immortal. At the base of the Tree of Life is a dragon, and at the top is a phoenix. Climbing the Tree of Life, enjoy my poetic spiritual exploration into alchemy, meditation, Tao, Tantra, magic and mysticism and feel free to create your own journey.


About A-MA: ALCHEMY OF LOVE Novel

A-ma Alchemy of Love Novel Spiritual Historical Novel. A-Ma is a historical spiritual novel set in the 17th century Macao that follows lives and spiritual insights of settlers of this little
peninsula in the middle of China. A-Ma main protagonist is Ama, an African alchemist, Goddess, a guru, a lover, a story-teller that inspires and gathers artists, preachers, priests, philosophers from all around the world within the magic settings of her coffee house. She believes in a Spiritual truth that we all can live our highest potential, discovering the gold within. Traveling through space and time, we find ourselves in the midst of an amazing blend of Chinese, Portuguese and Africans that live together on this little peninsula. This magic place that is rapidly growing as a center of trade offers a consciousness pot for the highest alchemical practice ever, the alchemy of humanity, creating an energy matrix that will change the lives of generations to come.

Links

Link to Amazon for TREE OF LIFE
Link to Amazon for A-MA ALCHEMY OF LOVE 

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Twitter @alchemylovenuit