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.








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 

Published by Artof4Elements
Twitter @alchemylovenuit