August Book Releases

Check out our new August releases just in time for the dog days of summer! Enjoy one of these titles while soaking up the last of the summer sunshine.

August’s Featured Title: Helping Them

By Yashavi Upasani

As his life seemed to grow more boring, Mr. DeRenzo gets thrown into a plot that gives him more excitement than he ever dreamed of. Dominic Frost, the cousin of Charles Markson, has been pronounced missing and Charles, as well as his friends Antonio, Samantha, and Emily, are worried sick about the poor boy. Hearing about the kids’ plans of taking action to find Dominic, Mr. DeRenzo offers his assistance in the search. From daily lunch meetings to breaking into hotels, the five of them go to extraordinary lengths to find the missing child. As the kids and Mr. DeRenzo strive to find Dominic, they realize that they might learn a little bit about friendship along the way as well.

The Adventures of Kiko and Pez

By  Jane Jimenez  

Raising twins is not easy by any stretch of the imagination—and raising Kiko and Pez, two super competitive boys, is even harder when you’re a single mom. Their mom made sure they were raised to be best friends so they would always have each other (and a built-in friend). As close as they are, they grew to be very competitive and challenged each other at every turn. The Adventures of Kiko and Pez relates a series of challenges which spill into every activity they encounter. Oscar, their best friend, adds to their daily adventures and provides them with constant material to egg them on.

This book is published in memory of author Jane (Cookie) Jimenez, whose family felt it was important to finish what she started. We hope you like the characters—they are loosely based on her children and other family members. Half of the proceeds from the sale of this book will be made in Jane’s memory to the American Cancer Society, and the other half will be shared equally between her twin boys, Josh and Randy, for their education and well-being.

Euphrates Yield 

By David H. Hanks

The third and final installment in David H. Hanks’ Carson Griffin series takes Griffin outside of the INWA’s jurisdiction to investigate a hidden nuclear reactor site along the banks of Syria’s Euphrates River. The Jihad Terrorist Symbol joins forces with Doku Umarov, a well-known Chechen terrorist, to smuggle parts and nuclear material into the region supplied by a rogue North Korean general with the goal of creating the most powerful weapons of mass destruction on Earth.

To save the world from nuclear annihilation, Griffin has to stop the technology from falling into JTS’s hands—all while battling the grief of losing his wife. Can he put his need for vengeance aside and stop the radical terrorist cell before it’s too late?

Freckle-Faced Foodie: Journey of a Young Chef

By Marlin Adams with Ariel Fox

Fourth-grader Ariel’s weekend is turning out to be a disaster. Her friends are coming over for a sleepover on Saturday night and a movie on Sunday, but she can’t get it together to write her homework essay about heritage and cultural traditions that is due on Monday. Her two best friends know everything about their cultures, but Ariel knows nothing about her own. As she reflects on the maze of changes surrounding her after her parents’ divorce and her mother’s remarriage, she reminisces about her early years in Colombia, her summers spent in Hawaii and the Pacific Northwest, and her current life in the Monterey Bay beach town where she now lives with her mom and her new dad. From her Caribbean grandma’s patacones to her Pacific Northwest grandma’s blackberry pie, Ariel discovers that food keeps emerging as a theme in her life. It’s a theme that helps her gain a stronger sense of self, and one that just might save her before the Monday morning deadline.

The Leader Launchpad: Five Steps to Fuel Your Business and Lift Your Profits

By Howard M. Shore

“Howard has distilled his vast experience, identified the key levers for acceleration, and conveyed them through real-life stories that are interesting and illuminating.” Brad Smart, author; president and CEO, Topgrading™️ Inc.

Sooner or later, every business owner finds themselves working too much “in” the business rather than “on” the business. Despite working harder than ever, they know their organization could be growing faster and generating greater profits. To stimulate the traction and significant growth that leaders seek, they need strategies to create and sustain a successful business as well as ways to break through the invisible barriers that prevent forward movement.

In The Leader Launchpad, growth expert and master business accelerator Howard M. Shore offers a five-step, clear-cut, actionable plan to help leaders feel in control of their professional destiny. Packed with practical information, The Leader Launchpad includes profit-actualizing and scale-enhancing systems for:
• Identifying mindsets essential to creating great companies
• Recognizing the crucial steps to increase employee engagement
• Developing a strategy that leads to faster growth and higher profitability
• Aligning teams with priorities to significantly impact results
• Ensuring the right people are in the right seats doing the right thing
• Building a culture of accountability

Engaging and compelling, The Leader Launchpad is a must-read for any leadership team looking to create a massively successful and enjoyable business.

My Hair Went on Vacation

By Paula Quinn

This story is about Rosie, who lives in Chicago.

Within three weeks she lost all of her hair and asked, “Where did it go?”

Rosie loved to rock the bald, without even skipping a beat.

She happily wore sunscreen—not even a hat!—in the summer heat.

At bedtime, Rosie would tell her own stories with a smile on her face.

She’d imagine her hair going on magical adventures all over the place.

From a young age, Rosie loved herself and was not phased by her look,

So her mother decided to share her spirit to teach others through this book.

Come on this adventure with a confident bald girl,

Who tells us ”Bald is beautiful!” as she smiles with a twirl.

We hope this book can inspire you to love others as they are,

And to love yourself every day, whether your hair is near or far.

Pivot & Go: The 29-Day Blueprint to Redefine and Achieve YOUR Success

By David Nurse


Most of us run on an endless string of vague goals and should-haves, with true, empowering change always just out of reach. Many of us feel stuck in our day-to-day routine, without the proper tools to break the mold and live our best lives every single day. David Nurse, a renowned life optimization coach of more than 150 NBA players and CEOs, knows it doesn’t have to be that way.

Pivot & Go is a compelling, hands-on blueprint to changing course and leading the life you want to live—today. In this energizing, adventurous, and actionable guide, David outlines a clear 29-day plan—not to living the life, but to living your absolute best life. His key is to make mindful mindset pivots that allow you to shift your perspective by incremental yet powerful degrees. Focusing on success, failure, passion, joy, and confidence, Pivot & Go is here to help you find your genuine rhythm—one that will carry you through each chapter of life with the energy and ability to make the most of every day.

Punctuated with stories from his own journey to leading a full and rewarding lifestyle, as well as featuring never-before-told stories of triumph from some of the top NBA athletes in the world, David has delivered a book like no other. Not only will it give you the power to change your life, it will give you the strength to do so. Get ready to banish negative thoughts, live to the max, and become energized and ready to tackle each and every day.

The Opportunity Agenda: A Bold Democratic Plan to Grow the Middle Class
opportunity agenda

By Winston Fisher and Sly James

On paper, New York business and civic leader Winston Fisher and former Kansas City mayor Sly James seem to have nothing in common. They come from different generations, backgrounds, geographies, and professions. Despite their apparent differences, they share one central belief: the Democratic Party is overdue for major disruption.

In The Opportunity Agenda, Fisher and James propose a new path forward that focuses on what really matters: appealing to the people. The 2016 presidential election revealed the extent of the deep economic anxieties felt by working- and middle-class Americans across the country—an insecurity that reshaped American history with the election of Donald Trump. Democrats failed to make a compelling case to promote their vision for the future. Equipped with a refreshing arsenal of bold ideas to expand the middle class, Fisher and James offer a plan to grow the party’s base, win over moderates and independents, and explain in no uncertain terms what Democrats will do for you, the American voter.

In this era of increasing political turmoil, old habits, stale messaging, and a “get even” mentality, any momentum the Democratic Party once had has stalled. It will take innovative solutions to shake up the Democratic establishment and energize voters across the political spectrum. That’s where The Opportunity Agenda comes in. Insightful, accessible, and compelling, it outlines tangible strategies the Democratic Party needs for long-term success. This is a must-read for anyone invested in the future of our country and the forgotten middle class.

Voices of LGBTQ+: A Conversation Starter for Understanding, Supporting, and Protecting Gay, Bi, Trans, and Queer People

By Lynda Wolters

Why do so many in our modern society reject those who are different?

Though the mainstream acceptance of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, and Queer community has made leaps and bounds over the past few years, many pivotal groups within our modern society still respond to the LGBTQ+ community with an overwhelming, knee-jerk reaction of “us” vs. “them.” Despite the progress that has been made, misunderstanding, hatred, animosity, aggression, and violence still affect this community on a deep level. Lynda Wolters knows firsthand: a strong ally, she has come to know, understand, and have a deep respect for the community through her son, who is gay.

Including highly personal, real-world anecdotes, Voices of LGBTQ+ helps outline some of the most critical challenges the community faces today, with topical insights into:

  • Homelessness
  • Hate crimes
  • Suicide
  • Economic challenges
  • Discrimination and lack of equality
  • Religious and biblical conflicts

Though judgment and divisiveness still run deep in our society, Wolters highlights the first key distinction, among many others, that will help eradicate bigotry: those who are different are not choosing to be, they simply are, and it’s our differences that make us stronger. Voices of LGBTQ+ helps educate, dispel fears, and start positive conversations about what knowing, loving, or simply peacefully and positively coexisting with someone in the LGBTQ+ community really means. After all, there is no “us” vs. “them.” We are all human.

What Color is Love?

By Lou Spaventa

Does love have a color? That’s what Katie the chameleon wants to know. She asks her mother, and together the two chameleons explore the many colors of love we find in the beauty of nature. Can you guess all the colors that Katie and her mother find?

The Secret of Sondra Byer’s Second Grade Class

By Susan Schwartz 

Everyone knows the legend of Ms. Sondra Byer, the enigmatic teacher who returns to Cory Hall every five years to teach one group of second grade students, and then disappears again, leaving magic and mystery in her wake. When the longed-for letter arrives on crisp, white school stationary announcing their placement in Ms. Byer’s class, her students think they know what lies ahead, but none of them could have anticipated the enchantment that awaited…

The Secret of Sondra Byer’s Second Grade Class follows the adventures of a group of  second grade students as they discover parts of the world, and parts of themselves, they never could have imagined. 

When the Day Ends and Dreams Begin #3

By Don Rose & Javier Lopez

When the Day Ends…and Dreams Begin 3 is the final book in the When the Day Ends…and Dreams Begin trilogy. Books 1 and 2 have been Amazon Books best sellers. Continue the journey with Rocky the Rock. Two Sides to a Story 3, is back. Uncle Frank, the red headed dog, is back having more adventures. Meet Willy, a very interesting guy. The Best Job will have you laughing. Who is The Boss? We’ll let you decide. My Culture, a poem we all fit into. Meet Barry the Brick: what a life he has! Grandparents are the best.

Freeda the Frog and the Two Mommas Next Door

By Nadine Haruni

In Freeda the Frog and the Two Mommas Next Door, Freeda and her family meet some new friends: Jessica and her two mommas, Morgan and Irene. The tadpoles have never had a friend with two mommas before, but they soon learn that it makes no difference. By getting to know Jessica’s parents, the tadpoles discover that families do not have to all look the same, and that all you need is love.

The Spinner Sagas: The Heir 

By KJ Moullen

She did not understand where she was, who she was, or why she was a prisoner. However, there was one thing she had discovered: she could do magic.

Entrusted with the safekeeping of the Book and the wickedness contained in it, Blaine and Elian embark on a journey filled with unusual creatures and a looming prophecy in the unfamiliar and ancient land of Vestia. First, they have to find their way back to each other, trusting new allies and befriending old foes along the way.

With time running out and the fate of the universe resting squarely upon their shoulders, Blaine and Elian face an unknown foe who will stop at nothing to unleash the evil soul trapped in the Book. But Elian knows a secret about Blaine’s destiny. Will the secret prophecy divide their pathways, letting doubt and fear sabotage all they have accomplished?

The Spinner Sagas: The Heir is the second book in The Spinner Sagas series.

Please note this title will be released on August 25th 2020.

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May Featured Title: The Conscious Marketer

“Brands can no longer market to consumers but instead have to market with them. In order for a brand to do that, it must be conscious of the world in which we all live together.”

Our May featured title is The Conscious Marketer: Inspiring a Deeper and More Conscious Brand Experience by Jim Joseph! We asked Jim about his writing process, how social media is changing the brand experience, and his best tips for brand managers.

1. As the Global President of marketing communications agency BCW (Burson Cohn & Wolfe), and the recipient of Entrepreneur of the Year, Agency of the Year, and Consumer Launch Campaign of the Year (just to name a few), why did you decide to write The Conscious Marketer and share your knowledge with others?

As a passionate leader and follower of brands, I’ve been carefully watching with fascination how marketers are starting to take a stand on social issues. I’ve also had many clients ask if they too should take a stand on social issues. So I decided that this was an issue that I’d like to tackle, as a way for fellow marketers to think about how what’s going on in the world affects their brand activities

2. What was your writing process like for The Conscious Marketer? How did this process differ from your first book with the Mascot/Amplify team, Out and About Dad?

I’m an early riser and an early writer, so I write a lot when I first wake up. And I’m also an editor by nature. Every morning I would write another chapter and then constantly edit it until I felt it was perfect—which is also why I wrote the book in quick little snippets so that people could read it easily piece by piece. My writing process for this book was a bit different than for Out and About Dad where I did most of that writing while I was traveling. That book was more of a long-form story so I wrote in longer segments to get the story to flow together. I’ve learned to love writing!

3. At the beginning of The Conscious Marketer, you tell (or warn) readers that the tone of the book will be casual—like a two-sided conversation. You use a similar style and tone of voice in your blog, where you post frequent, succinct blogs about a wide variety of topics in the marketing world. Why do you think this type of content is so consumable and convenient for readers?

In many many cases, people are reading on the fly and on mobile devices—at least when it comes to business books. My perspective is to give readers the ability to quickly grasp a concept, think about it, apply it to what they are doing, and then move on! I think it’s more actionable that way.

4. You also have a strong following on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Why do you think it is important to engage with your audience and post frequent, useful content? How has social media changed the brand experience?

I think that thought leadership should be a constant flow of information, not an occasional brain dump. I like to post content on an almost daily basis so that people can get a little dose of thinking to motivate their work for the day. And then the next day. And then the next day. As for the brand experience and social media, well, social media is the brand experience these days. Particularly in our current COVID-19 world. Everything is online and everything is a two-way dialogue. Social media is a great place to be a brand and to live along side your consumers.

5. What are the main takeaways that you hope readers will understand from the book?

It’s vitally important for a brand to be aware of what’s going on in thier consumers’ lives and take it into account when forming marketing programs. Brands can no longer market to consumers but instead have to market with them. In order for a brand to do that, it must be conscious of the world in which we all live together.

6. What’s next for Jim Joseph? Any future books on the horizon?

I’m thinking about a sequel to Out and About Dad. So many people have asked me if it’s coming, so I’m starting to write it in my mind. I need to decide if it’ll go from my mind to a piece of paper!

Amplify, an imprint of Mascot Books, specializes in game-changing political, business, and current affairs titles. Want to learn more about Amplify? Visit the Amplify website and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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April Feature: Making It Delicious

Our April featured title is Making It Delicious by Chef Jamie Daskalis, a cookbook with an emphasis on Southern food, but with a twist! From fun spins on the classics to indulging your sweet tooth, Chef Jamie’s recipes star simple and fresh ingredients that encourage creativity in the kitchen. We promise you’ll find a new favorite dish within these pages! 

Chef Jamie Daskalis
is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America with a degree in baking and pastry. She has worked in the restaurant business for more than fifteen years, and was recently awarded Chef of the Year by Grand Strand Magazine and The Myrtle Beach Hospitality Association. Chef Jamie is the owner and head chef of Johnny D.’s Waffles and Benedicts, one of the hottest breakfast spots in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. A working mother of a child with special needs, she understands the importance of fast, affordable, and family-friendly food, and hopes that she can help families through this cookbook. 

An Interview with Chef Jamie

  1. When creating recipes, what is the brainstorming process like? Is there a trial and error? 

When I create new dishes, sometimes it is something that I really think about, but more often than not, it is opening the refrigerator and pantry and grabbing a few things. I tend to cook every dish with the same attitude, simple. By simple, I mean, simple ingredients and simple techniques but never simple flavors. Cooking at home should not feel like a job in itself. Many of us work all day or are taking care of the kids and by the time it is time to eat, we are exhausted. That’s why when I put together the collection for Making It Delicious, I kept that in mind. I did not want my recipes to exhaust anyone. Some of the recipes are a little more time consuming and have more steps then others but sometimes you have more time and energy. I tried to give it a good balance. 

When I am doing a dish for a competition or event, I do tend to brainstorm a lot, sometimes too much.  If I am cooking for a special event, I always make a round of whatever I am going to serve to adjust any techniques or seasoning before getting to the main event. I need to know exactly what it is going to look and taste like before the event. I always try to make sure I have a salty, sweet, and crunchy component with all the dishes I make in competition. I find that I receive the best feedback if I can get all three on a plate. And of course, I always put together a little research and development team to give me feedback beforehand.  

  1. Food tends to bring people together. Do you have a favorite moment of people bonding over a dish you made?

When I first moved to South Carolina, I met my friend Stephanie, who at the time was living across the street from me.  The first time I invited her and her husband over for dinner, I felt the need to show off a bit. So I prepared fresh homemade fried pork dumplings for an appetizer, a stuffed flank steak with veggies, and a fresh fruit tart for dessert. The rest was history and we have been best friends ever since. I am not saying we are best friends because of the food I cook, but it definitely gives me the edge!

  1. Which of your recipes do you think is the easiest to make and which one is the most advanced?

I think that the breaded pork chops with the sauteed apples and risotto is the hardest.  Only because the risotto needs to be watched closely and at the same time you need to prepare the pork chops and apples. Now when I say hard, I don’t really mean hard, like you need a special skill set to prepare this recipe.  You just need to take a minute, read the recipe and get yourself ready to cook. I would have to say that one of the recipes I think is the easiest and is a favorite is the shrimp tacos with corn salsa. The shrimp cook up in a matter of minutes, and have great flavor because of the seasoning, and the jalapeno ranch can be prepared quick as well. The corn salsa takes a few minutes to prepare because of the chopping but it is easy and you end up with enough for 2 dishes.  There are a few other recipes that use corn salsa, so you can plan a second meal, or a snack with some chips.  

  1. Which recipe is your favorite?

My favorite recipe in Making It Delicious is the Mediterranean meatball hero. It wins big over the rest for me because it reminds me of my mother. Throughout the years, she has made us these Greek meatballs and we ate a lot of them. When I was preparing for a big event, I decided I wanted to make a “gyro.” But since it was a tasting size serving, I decided to make a deconstructed “gyro” with meatballs  that mimicked my mother’s. I served it with a little dressed cucumber pico, but with Mediterranean flavors, a couple slices of pita bread, and my mother’s Tzatziki sauce. Needless to say the guests and the judges LOVED it and I took home the judges choice for my Mediterranean Meatballs. The best part of the night was that my mom was at the event to witness the win.   

  1.   Cooking can be fun and creative, as you’ve shown. What advice do you have for people who now have more time on their hands and are looking for new ways to improve their cooking skills? 

I would tell them to keep it simple. You do not need to have fancy or specialty ingredients. Good quality proteins, fresh fruit and veggies, some salt and pepper, lemon and butter go a long way. You would be surprised how often I just use lemon to add a burst of acidity and freshness when finishing a dish. Cooking does not have to be complicated. If it is complicated it is not fun to me. I do not want to sit down to eat and be exhausted from cooking. 

I would also suggest picking up a few fresh herb plants and keeping  them by a window. And don’t forget to water them. Fresh herbs, to me, are the best way to add big flavor to any dish. If you always have them sitting on the window or in a garden you will be more inclined to use them. Purchasing them each time could be costly, and because of this you may pass on the opportunity. I always have basil, dill, rosemary, thyme, and mint growing at my house to use as I wish. 

Making It Delicious is a great kitchen tool to help you learn and understand that ingredients can and should be utilized in many different ways. This will help save you money and time at the grocery store. It has different recipes for sauces to keep handy, tips and tricks throughout the book, a quick red meat cooking guide, a temperature guide, tips to setting up a breading station and 98 recipes to help and teach you some new dishes. This cookbook was designed for the home cook in mind. I hope you love it!

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March Featured Title: Coral’s Quest

“You can avoid plastic by refusing, reusing, reducing, and recycling. Try replacing just one thing that you use all the time that is plasticlike your straw, your cup, or your utensils. Eventually you will do it with many things and it will become a habit that helps the earth.”

Our March featured title is Coral’s Quest by 10-year-old Zoë Williams! We chatted with Zoë about ocean conservation, her collaboration with Ocean Ramsey, and her big plans for the future!

coral's quest

1. You have been a dedicated advocate for ocean conversation since age 7, helping to organize local beach clean-ups and educating kids and adults through public speaking, art, music and writing. Now 10 years old, what inspired you to write Coral’s Quest?

What inspired me to write Coral’s Quest was how much I wanted to educate more people on plastic awareness who don’t live near me.

2. The beginning of the book includes a foreword from Ocean Ramsey, a very notable Marine Biologist and Dive Tourism operator. How did you and Ocean Ramsey first get in contact with each other? Why do you think Ocean Ramsey’s message is so important for us to understand?

We first met on Instagram and then we started talking to each other through comments and sharing posts. We have actually never met and I would LOVE to meet her someday! When I wanted to ask her to write the foreword, I mailed her a letter. I was so excited when she said yes!

It’s important for us to understand Ocean’s message because she is explaining how plastic affects us and the ocean. She is very inspiring and she focuses on plastic awareness and sharks, which is also my favorite animal!

3. What do you hope readers will learn and take away from this book?

What I hope people learn from my book is that plastic is really bad for the planet. They can start acting now towards fixing this problem.  The more people who focus on this problem, the healthier and happier the planet will be.

4. What does the future hold for Zoë Williams? Any more books on the horizon?

What I am planning for my future is I will make books with Sandra Aros about shark fishing, the climate, and captivity.

5. How can we all be a little more environmentally-conscious in our everyday lives?

You can avoid plastic by refusing, reusing, reducing, and recycling. Try replacing  just one thing that you use all the time that is plasticlike your straw, your cup, or your utensils. Eventually you will do it with many things and it will become a habit that helps the earth.

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February Featured Title: Chemo Muscles

“We will all encounter difficult things in our life, adversity and trauma.  We never know what life has in store for each of us.  Being resilient means coping the best way you can when life throws you curve balls.  It means figuring out a way to get out of bed by putting one foot in front of the next.  It also means trying to feel gratitude that your situation is not any worse, because you can always find worse.  Resiliency is about mustering our inner strength and resources, and channeling our human spirit.”

Our February featured title is Chemo Muscles: Lessons Learned from a Psycho-Oncologist and Cancer Patient by Dr. Renee A. Exelbert. Renee answered our questions about her inspiration behind the book, her advice to cancer patients and their friends and family, and her plans for the future!

1.) What inspired you to write Chemo Muscles
and share your experience with others?

I was dealing with so many emotions throughout my journey with breast cancer.  I believed that I could offer a very unique perspective, as I was privy to having worked professionally as a psycho-oncologist with cancer patients, and knowledgeable about a great deal of coping resources relevant to adjusting to cancer.  I also felt that there was a lack of resources that addressed the visceral, emotional experiences of someone walking the path of cancer.  My book was the book I wish had existed when I was diagnosed. 

2.) As a psycho-oncologist, an Adjunct Professor of Psychology, and a certified personal trainer, you offer readers your unique and professional expertise throughout the book. From a professional standpoint, what  do you hope readers who may be going through a similar experience take away from Chemo Muscles?

I hope that readers learn many things, but I want to emphasize that this book is not just for individuals with cancer.  There is a plethora of useful information for individuals who are supporting someone with cancer, as well as information for all healthcare providers. I hope that patients learn that they have a choice in their healthcare, and that they should exercise this power wisely, because their relationship with their healthcare team can actually impact their survival rate.  I hope individuals with cancer learn that there are important coping techniques that can facilitate their adjustment to cancer, such as the use of humor, gratitude, social support, positive cognitions, touch, visual imagery, diet and exercise, amongst others.  I also hope individuals with cancer can learn to advocate for themselves, and in turn, feel a greater sense of empowerment and control over their illness.

I hope that individuals supporting someone with cancer learn how to offer assistance that is concrete and directive, and better suited for someone who is already feeling disconnected and no longer comfortable asking for more help.  I hope that these same individuals can learn ways that they may be inadvertently disempowering their friend or loved one, and to try to steer clear of these common pitfalls.  I hope that healthcare providers can understand the gravity of their words and actions and can learn ways to better treat the patient with dignity and respect.  These include, but are not limited to, behaviors like paying attention to their non-verbal cues, delivering important test results in a timely manner, being aware of trauma research, and seeing the patient as a whole person rather than a diagnosis.  Additionally, ethical questions are posed for healthcare providers who are struggling themselves with illness, such as whether they have the responsibility to disclose their diagnosis to their patients.

3.) While you do offer readers your professional expertise, you also offer your raw, emotional, and personal experience. As a patient, a mother, and a survivor, what do you hope readers will take away?

I hope that readers will better understand the emotional journey of someone coping with cancertheir fears, their insecurities, their identity fluctuations, their need to maintain some sense of self and control.  I am hoping that they learn that not everyone with a cancer diagnosis experiences the same things, and that there is not a “one size fits all” for how people cope.

I was one hundred percent candid with my emotions in this book, and I held nothing back.  I hope that this elicits greater understanding from both loved ones of someone coping with cancer and healthcare providers treating individuals with illness.  I hope that readers will understand what it must be like to have to speak to one’s own children about a cancer diagnosis, and how support or lack thereof from friends and family members can impact the cancer experience dramatically.   I also hope that individuals with cancer will know that their feelings are valid and respected.  By making myself vulnerable, I have allowed others to see how much I struggled, and that it is possible to grow from trauma and go on to live a good life.

4.) As you became more and more involved in your fitness journey, you realized that you were “regaining control of your body”. How can disciplined diet and exercise help those recovering from trauma?

Beyond my personal experience with feeling tremendously helped and empowered through diet and exercise, there is much research corroborating the positive effects of both.  Disciplined diet and exercise can dramatically help those recovering from trauma.  Exercise reduces your risk of many diseases, including cancer (women who exercise regularly can expect a 20% to 30% reduction in the chance of getting breast cancer compared to those women who did not exercise).  Exercise also reduces the risk of breast cancer recurrence and can even help people with cancer live longer. 

On a psychological level, exercise improves self-esteem, cognitive functioning and body image.  Exercise has also been shown to be an effective adjunctive treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.  A reduction of trauma symptoms occurs through a renewed sense of determination and hope, increased quality of life, and the cultivation of positive self-identity.  Exercise can make individuals feel like they are active agents on their environment.  I believe there is no greater way to feel in control of yourself and your body than to do a push-up.  You are literally holding yourself up in the world.  Metaphorically, when life pushes you down through trauma and adversity, you can push yourself back up. 

In terms of our health, diet plays an extremely important role.  In particular, the growth of cancer has been proven to be heavily impacted by diet, such as the evidence that sugar feeds tumors.  Getting certain nutrients through eating whole and non-processed foods can help block tumors.  One important fact is that many people who have cancer feel out of sync with their body.  For me, I looked healthy and never felt sick, but the experience inside my body was harboring a different reality.  As such, I felt as though my body had betrayed me.  Diet and exercise were the two places where I could exert total control, and my body would listen.  I would do chest flyes and see my pectoral muscles grow.  I would consume protein, and see my body follow with the growth and development of muscle.  Every time I lifted weights, I felt strong and healthy.  Every time I grew muscle, I felt further and further away from being sick.  And every time I ate healthy foods that I knew nourished me and were thought to have antioxidants that fought free radicals, I felt like I was taking an active role in keeping my cancer at bay and staying healthy.  It was a science that was pure and concretecancer had taken that synchronicity away from me, but diet and exercise brought it back.   

5.) At the end of the book, you write a beautiful passage comparing trauma and the human experience to the kaleidoscope:

“What we see in the kaleidoscope is that when the contents settle, we are exposed to something new and beautifulnew constellations of colors, new arrangements. The hope is that after a life trauma we can be resilient. However, not only be resilient, but experience new meaning and growtha new way of seeing things; and increased perspective.”

What does it mean to you to be resilient? What advice would you have for readers who are fearful of the unknown and life after trauma?

We will all encounter difficult things in our life, adversity and trauma.  We never know what life has in store for each of us.  Being resilient means coping the best way you can when life throws you curve balls.  It means figuring out a way to get out of bed by putting one foot in front of the next.  It also means trying to feel gratitude that your situation is not any worse, because you can always find worse.  Resiliency is about mustering our inner strength and resources, and channeling our human spirit.  It is about maintaining a sense of faith in ourselves, in those around us, and in the universe.  Humans are bound by our common joys and pain.  Reaching out to others who have experienced trauma can also help us not feel alone.  Resilience is about knowing that we are imperfect, and that our scars and bruises are things we should wear with pride.  They are badges of honor and serve as symbols of the obstacles we endured and persevered through.  These scars deepen us and help us grow into more developed people.  Resiliency is also about learning from your pain, and figuring out if there are any gifts that you received from this pain.  For individuals who are fearful of the unknown, I would say that we are all fearful of the unknown.  We are all frightened to have bad things happen to us or someone we love.  However, we must know that the best predictor of our future behavior, is our past behavior.  We must look at other difficult experiences we have survived, and trust that we can get through this next difficult scenario as well.

6.) What is next for Dr. Exelbert? Any more books on the horizon?

I will be promoting Chemo Muscles: Lessons Learned from Being a Psycho-Oncologist and Cancer Patient for some time.  I will also continue to lecture on topics related to mind-body.  I have caught the “writing bug,” and cannot wait to get started on my next book.  Stay tuned….

Renee was recently featured on Thrive Global, IdeaMensch, and the Suburban Folk podcast!

To learn more about Renee, visit www.drexelbert.com, or follow Renee on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Renee will be having a special book signing event at Book Revue on March 4, 2020. To RSVP, click here.

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January Featured Title: Our American Dream

“I hope that America continues to be a beacon of hope for immigrants from all around the world. I hope that the idea of the American Dream—the idea that you can come to a place, work hard, create opportunity for you and your family regardless of background—remains a perpetual part of America’s narrative.”

Our January featured title is Our American Dream by Fiona McEntee! Upon its release, Our American Dream was the #1 New Release in the Children’s Tolerance and the Children’s Books on Immigration categories on Amazon!

We chatted with Fiona about her experiences as a naturalized U.S. citizen and an immigration lawyer, her inspiration behind the book, and her hopes for America’s current and future immigrants. Read our full interview with Fiona below!

1. As a naturalized U.S. citizen yourself, immigration is an issue close to your heart. How has both your personal journey and experience as an immigration lawyer deepened your relationship to immigration?
Immigration is a deeply personal matter for me. Growing up, I was always very interested in social justice. When I came to the U.S. for law school in my early twenties, I was drawn to studying immigration law and doing internships in this field. Almost from day one, I knew that I had found my calling and since then I’ve viewed the practice of immigration law as not just a job but a vocation. I’m also keenly aware that I’ve had a very privileged immigration journey and I believe that I have a duty to fiercely advocate for all immigrants. 

2. When did you know you had to write Our American Dream?
I’ve been working as an immigration lawyer for twelve years but, without a doubt, the past two and a half years have been the most challenging years of my career. We have witnessed this Administration implement horrendous anti-immigrant agendas and policies that have directly impacted the most vulnerable of immigrants. It has made the whole country contemplate the very meaning of the American Dream. Immigration issues are constantly in the media and our children are watching and taking note. I have two young kids—Rose (six) and Perry (three and a half)—and they started asking me about some of it. Why is mama on TV at the airport? Why are they separating children from their parents? Why do they want to build a wall? I read to my kids regularly, and I found myself wishing there was a book that touched on some of these concepts in an age appropriate way. I wanted to change this, and I began writing Our American Dream!

3. Some of the characters are based on real clients. How did this influence your writing process?
Our American Dream highlights different immigrant stories and yes, it is inspired by my real-life clients, family, and friends. When I sat down to write the book, I knew exactly what stories I wanted to share with children. I drew direct inspiration from the Dreamers, my Russian artist client Yulia, my sister-in-law Faith, who was adopted as a baby from the Philippines, the families at the border, a tech entrepreneur client, and many more. Our American Dream is the first in my series of books on immigrants and immigration. There are many more stories to tell, and I believe the need to share these stories with our children has never been greater.

4. How has the idea of the “American Dream” changed in recent years, in your opinion?
I do feel like the very idea of the “American Dream” has been shaken to its core over the past few years. However, I really still believe in the American Dream and in the American people. I know we will emerge stronger than ever but now, we need to stand up and speak out. We are in a pivotal time in our nation’s history and we need to think about the country in which we want our children growing up and the values we want to teach them. Our children are watching and listening to usthey need us to share the true story of immigration and of the American Dream. 

5. What do you hope that readers, both children and adults, take away from your book?
My hope is that Our American Dream serves as a vehicle to have some conversations around immigration in homes and schools all over the country. I hope that both children and adults see the importance of treating people equally no matter the path of their journey and understand that we all have our own version of the American Dream. No one version of this dream is more important than the next. I also hope that the book becomes a platform for immigrants to share their own stories.

6. Why do you think diversity in children’s literature is so important?
I think it’s important that children read about all kinds of diversity from an early age. Many studies show that when we learn about diversity from a young age, we are less likely to buy into hateful, discriminatory rhetoric, and are more likely to see people as people. Talking to children about diversity increases cultural competence and sensitivity which allows them to be empathetic to the experiences of others. “We look not to build walls but to make tables longer. We gather side by side, because diversity makes us stronger.”

7. What do you hope for America’s current and future immigrants?
I hope that America continues to be a beacon of hope for immigrants from all around the world. I hope that the idea of the American Dreamthe idea that you can come to a place, work hard, create opportunity for you and your family regardless of backgroundremains a perpetual part of America’s narrative. I also hope that Congress can come together to enact some meaningful immigration reform that protects and honors the contributions that immigrants have made, continue to make, and could make if given the opportunity, here in the U.S. on a daily basis. While America’s light may be a little dim right now, the future is most certainly bright as the American Dream is too important to disband.

To learn more about Our American Dream, visit ouramericandreambooks.com and follow Fiona on Instagram and Twitter @USVisaLawyer. 

A portion of the proceeds from Our American Dream will be donated to FWD.us I Stand With Immigrants Initiative, and to the American Immigration Council. Get your copy of Fiona’s book here.

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December Featured Title: Joy of Financial Planning

“We have a chance to transform our pessimism into optimism; our confusion into clarity, our passion into action; and our potential into real life success.”

Our December featured title is Joy of Financial Planning by Jason Howell! We chatted with Jason about his extensive political and financial career, his involvement as an alumnus of George Mason University, and how we can reclaim our American Dreams through financial planning. 

1. As President of the Jason Howell Company, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, and a former U.S. Congressional candidate, you have a very extensive background in finance and politics. What inspired you to share your knowledge with American families through your new book, Joy of Financial Planning?
When I left politics, I became a financial planner so I could make a living while still serving the community. What I found over the years is that only so many people could choose to hire a true financial planner. Writing the book was a way to reach a larger audience who wanted (needed) the information, regardless of their ability to hire a professional.

2. In the preface of your book, you address the idealization of the “American Dream”, and how it has evolved over time as a result of inflation and other economic challenges. What does it mean for us as Gen X’ers and Millennials to reclaim our American Dreams?
It means we have a chance to transform our pessimism into optimism; our confusion into clarity, our passion into action; and our potential into real life success. This generation of adults has so much potential but we need the success principles of financial planning more than any other generation in US history. We face unique economic challenges but we also have unique opportunities. This is the generation that will face the effects of climate change, social unrest and income inequality. The “JOY of Financial Planning” allows us, through intentional actions, to solve problems and create opportunities for ourselves, our families and our communities.

3. You outline the steps that we can take to reclaim our American Dreams in seven distinct parts. Why did you choose to structure the book this way? What was your writing and researching process like?
I separated the book into seven distinct sections so people weren’t overwhelmed. In my family wealth practice, I have found that clients usually come to the table with a particular financial struggle that has their attention. Without that attention, they would have never picked up the phone and I wouldn’t have been able to show them all of their other opportunities. What I wanted readers of the book to be able to do was skip to what has their attention and discover the rest over time. My writing process was a mix of research, personal and professional experience. Unlike many of the other “personal finance gurus” I am still in practice as a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional. This means I face real problems from real families and work to solve them in a current, practical way. And my personal financial situation is reflective of the dual-income professionals my firm tends to attract. Readers will enjoy that the book is a mix of academic, professional and personal content.

4. You are a very active alumnus of George Mason University, where you were recognized as a Prominent Patriot in business and was twice the distinguished alumnus speaker for the School of Business graduating class. During one of your keynote speeches, you notably said the following quote:

“Twenty-one years ago, somebody told me I was going to be an alumnus. I had no idea what that actually meant. I think it means you come back.”

Why do you feel it is so important to give back to your school, and to share your experiences and knowledge with aspiring businessmen and women?
George Mason University was good to me. My experience was more valuable and rich than I expected. I believe everyone of us has value to share and it’s not just a nice thing to do, it is necessary. Academic institutions require resources from the state, from the faculty, from the staff and from the alumni to remain relevant in an ever changing society. Northern Virginia is a great example of a thriving, changing society and “coming back” to Mason is my way of contributing to a community that I have benefited from for over 30 years.

5. What are the key takeaways from the book that you hope will help readers to take ownership of their financial joy and success?
I hope readers recognize that we can still achieve our potential and reclaim their version of the American Dream. And with that reassurance, I hope readers talk more regularly about money with their significant others, write down their personal values and aspirations, balance their priorities and make the best use of their time on earth. I bet you thought I’d say something like reduce debt right? Yes, that’s in the book but the takeaways listed here are just as important.

Get your copy of Joy of Financial Planning at the Mascot Bookstore.

To learn more about Jason, visit www.joyoffinancialplanning.com and www.Jason Howell.com, and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Amazon.

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November Featured Title: Darcy and Daisy the Christmas Puppy

“It was such a fun, true story and I immediately thought it would make a great children’s book.”

Our November featured title is Darcy and Daisy the Christmas Puppy! We chatted with author Karin Hoving about her inspiration behind the book, Darcy & Daisy’s extremely popular Instagram account, and whether she herself is more like Darcy or Daisy. 

1. You lead a very interesting career. As a TV Producer, you’ve done everything from holding baby chimps to filming on the site of an active volcano. What made you want to embark on a new journey and write a children’s book?
I love collaborating with people to tell unique stories and I have been lucky enough to work on a lot of fun, kid-friendly shows. I also have a 13-year-old daughter and we used to spend hours a day reading and telling stories to each other, so it seemed very natural for me to segue into writing a children’s book. 

2. This book follows the adorable true story of when you added Daisy to the family. When did you realize that Darcy needed a new furry friend? What inspired you to tell the story?
Darcy really was quite depressed when the foster kittens left-I actually minimize in the book how sad he was! We even took him to the vet because he seemed so gloomy and he had stopped eating. We realized then that we either needed more foster kittens or we should get him a puppy sibling. It was Christmastime and my husband and I quite spontaneously brought in a new puppy. My daughter couldn’t believe it. It was such a fun, true story and I immediately thought it would make a great children’s book. I just did a video about making the book that has a lot of adorable footage of Darcy as a puppy, the actual foster kittens, and Daisy as a puppy when she entered the scene. Here is the video, which I hope makes you smile: 

3. Darcy and Daisy have a very large following on Instagram (follow them @darcyanddaisy). When did you first start this account? What was your goal in creating it?
I’ve always loved photography and had tons of photos on my phone of the dogs. I would dress them up in holiday attire and take fun pictures, but the photos would just sit on my phone or in a photo album. I decided to start this Instagram in the summer of 2016 because I wanted to connect with people in a way that was purely positive, joyous, and fun. It has been such a delight to share the images and I’ve made friends with people around the world! 

4. The back of the book features an “are you more like Darcy or Daisy?” quiz. Are you personally more like Darcy or Daisy?
Haha! That depends on the day. Right now I’m feeling more like Darcy because I’m in a friendly mood and just took a long walk. There are days when I’m more of a Daisy. We included the quiz because my daughter and I had two books with interactive quizzes and those were always our favorites. So far kids love it!

5. What would be your advice to people who are thinking about writing their own children’s book for the first time?
Just do it! I’m a big believer in actually doing what you want to do as opposed to talking about doing what you want to do. I would also do a lot of research and look at hundreds of children’s books.  The most important thing is to find good people to collaborate with and then trust them to do their jobs. I loved working with the editor and the graphic designer and with the artist Alycia Pace. They all really helped elevate the story. It was such a rewarding process and I’m so thrilled to have written my first book! 

Click here
to get your copy of Darcy and Daisy the Christmas Puppy.

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October Featured Title: Voices of Cancer

“While I never wanted this diagnosis, I would never change what I have gained from my experience. What I offer to you is a glimpse into the minds and hearts of people with the disease so that you may understand their needs and feelings better. I also offer some ideas for what to say to them, what not to say to them, and how they want to be treated.”

Our October featured title is Voices of Cancer by Lynda Wolters . Lynda answered our questions about her writing process, her own experiences and findings as a cancer patient, and her tips for people who are trying to console a loved one who is battling with cancer. 

Partial proceeds from Voices of Cancer will be donated to Epic Experience.

1. What was your primary goal for writing Voices of Cancer?

It surprised me to learn that being a cancer patient put me into a marginalized community, in that people had no idea how to talk to me or treat me and therefore, many in my personal circle of friends and even my family members, simply avoided me. I learned through numerous conversations with dozens of other cancer patients, I was not alone with this – that nearly everyone following their diagnosis felt marginalized and abandoned to some extent by friends and family. I therefore realized the cancer community needed a voice in order to help educate those outside the community learn how to interact, communicate and help cancer patients, and Voices of Cancer is a useful tool to show how to do this.

 2. As a cancer patient yourself, did you find the writing process to be cathartic or was it difficult to put your story into words?

Initially, I began an online journal shortly after my diagnosis and was quite faithful in posting. Prior to writing Voices of Cancer I wrote a memoir wherein I told the backstory of each of those journal entries. That writing project was completely open, raw and in places, perhaps more than anyone would ever want to know. The memoir was totally cleansing and healing for me. However, as it was so extremely personal, I was not ready to have others read it and I put it on the floor of my office and it is still today. The process of the memoir allowed me to write Voices of Cancer with a more all-encompassing lens without focusing wholly on my story; it too was very cathartic.

3. You mention how expressions like “You got this,” “Stay in the fight,” and “I’ll be praying for you” are not always the best thing to say to someone going through cancer treatment. What are some more practical things you could do or say to a loved one battling cancer that they might appreciate more?

The cutesy little sayings are not at all helpful, and unless you know a person’s religious affiliation, saying you will pray for them may actually be an insult or at least, miss the mark. Therefore, it is much better to say something along the lines of, “I will keep you in my thoughts,” or “I cannot understand what you are going through but I will listen if you would like to vent.” If you are close enough to actually help out, picking up the patient’s kids for an afternoon, or taking their caregiver out for coffee is wonderful. Remember, the patient will likely never ask for anything and will tell you, “everything is fine,” but they would love to have a meal delivered. Don’t ask them, tell them, “I will be bringing over dinner for you and your family on Tuesday, will six o’clock work for you?” If a meal is not something you can or want to do, stopping in at the clinic or hospital for a five minute visit can absolutely make the cancer patient’s day; it simple, it’s free, and it shows how much you care much more than any little off-the-cuff statement  that is better saved for a tee-shirt.

4. In your book you discuss how cancer patients can be considered a marginalized group. Are there other marginalized groups that you’d like to bring into focus with the Voices book series?

Having cancer opened my eyes to what it is like to be a marginalized person, therefore, following Voices of Cancer will be Voices of LGBTQ, which is a book designed to help educate, dispel fear and promote positive conversation regarding those in the LGBTQ community. This book will show the sameness of all people rather than the separation by difference. I will be working on Voices books for other marginalized communities in the future.

5. You’re donating a portion of the proceeds from your book sales to a non-profit called Epic Experience. Can you tell us a little bit about the work they do and your connection to this organization?

Epic Experience is an adventure camp for adult cancer survivors, located in the mountains of Colorado. It’s design is to encourage cancer survivors and thrivers to push beyond their often-times self-imposed walls, and find their physical abilities following their cancer treatments. Epic Experience has helped over four hundred warriors learn to live beyond cancer. I was fortunate enough to be a camper in 2018 when I was completely drained physically and mentally following my intense treatment and needed a push to get back into my non-cancer life. I had so many personal ah-ha moments and breakthroughs and have since become completely immersed in the Epic Experience culture and organization. I am currently a member of the alumni team, helping behind the scenes with thank you notes, letters, grant writings and volunteering. I would highly recommend any adult who has ever gone through cancer to apply for an adventure with Epic Experience – it truly is a game changer.  

To learn more about Lynda and her book, visit http://voicesbookseries.com/

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