Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Burlesque of Graceless Acting by Mark Van Aken Williams

Mark Van Aken Williams is not only an International Book Award Finalist but an incredible author. He paints masterful brushstrokes for the canvas of the mind, though common themes blend their way throughout, including music, philosophy, and the nature of humanity. Mark Van Aken Williams is the author of two books of poetry: A Season of Industry and Circus by Moonlight. In September 2012, Williams released The Burlesque of Graceless Acting, a novella that features a discussion between a poet and confidant.

Mark's Website

When I read a book for review, I underline passages that strike me with insight, the beauty of sensory language or mental representation. Typically, by the end of my reading I've underlined a dozen or two passages at most. My copy of The Burlesque of Graceless Acting, however, is filled with such markings. There are few pages without something underlined. Such a plethora of insights and suitable sentences make it challenging to do justice to the book.

This book explores the conscious states of our mind and with the simplicity of a neuropathic process the reader will fall into a deep trance. One example is when the author states, "As the shadows wink of darkness boiled down, the patois of their thick-coming soliloquy becomes the burlesque of graceless acting. Congratulate the walk-on who poses in quietness and poise, so that the vision may come. I am pale by comparison with the diffuse light of the unblinking."

My interview with Mark Van Aken Williams

One thing that I appreciated in the book was that each dialog was purposeful and contained elements of complexity. The use of Paracelsus, Canon of Polyclitus, dijn, to the ghost of Rasputin illuminates the curiosity to the past, present and unknown. Much like one is discovering a new idea the reader will be able to explore and understand this unique and beautifully written form of prose. My favorite quote in the book was, "I could see the wheels spinning. He was thinking again, drawing an outline around the shadows cast by his apperception.. Soon, no doubt, he would claim that the shadows were real. There was a sign above the bar that read- This establishment only serves syntax without semantics. I pointed to it. We departed." I felt this line was brilliant.

Mark with his beautiful wife Janice Phelps Williams (Her Website)

Mark is unique in that respect and he really brings forth a novel that is both thought provoking and full of knowledge. It's a book that you find yourself slowly not because it's much to handle but it is to be relished. I seriously recommend The Burlesque of Graceless Acting by Mark Van Aken Williams to everyone. I admire an author that can leave you reeling and thinking for weeks (for me, months) after reading the book.

Shakes, Shivers, and Dithers (Mark's Canine Muse Tyler)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Planting seeds of Mindfulness!

Imagine That! Planting the Seeds of Possibility by Kevin Mullani

            Now dear reader, I want to tell you about author named Kevin Mullani. He has been described as a spiritual being having a human experience, happily married to his soul-mate Stephanie, and proud father of two beautiful, amazing children. They reside in Boise, Idaho where Kevin and Stephanie enjoy helping each other expand their spiritual mindfulness. Kevin wrote a book titled, Imagine That! Planting the Seeds of Possibility.

Click to purchase!

     There is nothing like a story to spark children’s imaginations and help them learn about different places. When children see pictures of African animals, European castles, Egyptian Pyramids, Asian temples, or any other cultural scene with stories from these far-off lands, it transports them to these places. Sharing books together as a family is a perfect time to have conversations about the world and the unique ways that people live. However, Kevin Mullani takes his novel a step further. His mindful story and guide for parents will foster limitless potential of children, build resilience, and develop a positive mind-set both with intrapersonal skills with developing ideas from thought to reality. 

            I expected this book to provide exercises and the like which ignite or launch an imagination process. In a sense it does however, I was so sparked by the creativity of the author with the use of a poem at the beginning. Kevin Mullani’s writing is crisp and engaging and the book is a pleasure to read. I was comfortable using the parent guide with my 10 year old son and his friend. There are nine steps that are given to explain or to expand on the child’s growth. This book can be used for children age 3 to adulthood. 

My interview with Kevin!
I found myself contemplating on several points such as
-Step Six.   Don’t let negative people get you down or put limits on you.
-Step Eight.  Accept the growth of your ideas with gratitude, regardless of how fast or slow it is growing
-Step Nine.  There is always another idea seed, so don’t ever stop creating! 

Natural Girl Diary Facebook Page


Stephanie Mullani ‘s illustrations are a treasure. She has a unique style that combines Fauvism influences with a modern flair. She paints brightly colored, organic looking objects, people, and animals that convey emotion and invite empathy. This is a visual equivalent of a great short story, it seems that every color and line adds to the value of the narrative; yet her achievement remains informal and friendly.

Check out the website!

            This husband wife team or “soul mates” embraces the central theme of Imagine That is mindfulness with imagination. As stated by the author, “Your mind is the planting ground for all idea seeds, your joyful emotions are the sunlight it needs to grow, and the actions you take to achieve your goals are equivalent to tilling the soil, pulling weeds, and watering your plant.” There's a satisfying warm glow one gets after reading this book; discussing this book evokes similar feelings especially with a child. Although praised by many for Kevin and Stephanie Mullani’s outstanding talents, I still somehow feel that this book deserves even more. Perhaps a journal for children to express themselves and an adult workbook will be explored as an accompaniment.  This book would be extremely valuable with schools, families, and religious organizations. There are so many amazing books on the shelves in the children's section, but this one is not to be missed. I love any book that sparks a dialogue with your kids and encourages spending more time together. I highly recommend Imagine That! Planting the Seeds of Possibility. By Kevin Mullani.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Happy Birthday Burl Barer

Today is author Burl Barer's birthday.  I was introduced to his books when my husband and I lived in Naples, Italy and I have remained a loyal fan ever since. Three years ago, I joined Facebook and was absolutely thrilled when I was "friended" by Burl. Many do not know that I started my book reviews because of Burl. He had posted on his wall that his nephew was giving away books to anyone that would write a review, I jumped at the chance while wondering "Who was Lee Goldberg?" I don't watch much television and his book, Top Suspense, was intriguing. 

Burl's Website

I began writing book reviews and the next thing you know, I am asked to join the Creating Calm Network! Guess who my very first author interview was? That's right, Burl Barer! I was so nervous that I completely stuttered as soon as I heard his voice. I was in complete awe! 

Burl can be heard every Saturday on True Crime Uncensored

Burl loves both of his children Anea and Jordan. Anea once shared with me: 

"As far as special memories of times with my Papa, there are so many. However, whenever I am feeling sad or lonely I think about our family vacations when I was growing up. We always went to this place outside of Spokane, WA called Granite Point Park on Loon Lake. The whole family (uncles, cousins, etc.) would go for a week or two. We would stay in little cabins, rent tin can boats with coffee cans full of cement for anchors and go night fishing every night. While bundling up, bringing tons of candy, and soda we would go out for a few hours where we would tie the boats together, laugh and tell stories. Sometimes, we would even catch fish. When we would come in from fishing we would drink hot cocoa, watch bad movies on the tiny television my Papa would sneak with us on the trip and continue our family tradition of staying up too late."

Anea and cousin Lee

  Burl has not only become a legend with his many award winning books and his true crime radio show, but has created a legacy. One of love for his children Jordan and Anea, respect for his ethics, and a loyal fan base. I often joke that when I mess up a bit on the radio or my reviews that one can "Blame it on Burl." However, I am honored by this charming, talented, and witty man. I highly respect Burl and am truly blessed to be able to count him among my friends. Happy Birthday My Dear Burl! 

Burl and his son Jordan

Burl with his daughter Anea

Now, Go check out and purchase a few of Burl's Books! I highly recommend him. Or go to a local book store. You never know what post it notes you might find. (wink)

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Life is Better When Reading Sylvia Petter!

Life is Better When Reading Sylvia Petter!

      If Sylvia Petter’s Mercury Blobs were a bottle of wine, I would be drunk! Her collection of short stories is a thought provoking read.  Mercury Blobs contains forty short stories, each written elegantly and with incredible perfectionism. These stories are excellent works of realism that give the reader a glimpse into the days of strangers, each at different points in his or her life. I found the work of Sylvia Petter through a friend that attends the Geneva Writers’ Group located in Switzerland.  Next, I located her website and Facebook page. I was intrigued! She is a very accomplished author having received numerous awards as well as high praises from Robert OlenButler, a Pulitzer Prize recipient.
Sylvia Petter's Blog

       The stories offer a kind of voyeuristic experience, almost as if we are peeking in the windows of people living their lives, unaware of our existence.  For example, in the short titled Widow’s Peak, Jean-Pierre, a hair dresser, is blissfully unaware of his female client who is recalling the murders she committed against Wayne Smothers and Enzo. I became awestruck with the line at the end when she said, “And besides, I’d never married a hairdresser.” This gives the reader an opportunity to create their own ending and left me wanting more!  I also love the stealthy farce that Mrs. Petter provides the reader in the short Chubby Goes to Yale. How many times have we experienced the overboard, smothering parent that constantly inundates the child with the best, to be the highest, and when the child refuses, the old cliché of “let him fall on his face” is often whispered? Yet, Chubby not only does it his way but is successful at it! This is exactly what Mrs. Petter has accomplished too! She does it her way and this book is a success!
     Mercury Blobs is written with determination, and no word is wasted - no story goes on longer than it should.  The tales are not only polished but very well crafted and designed.  Interestingly, her writing career began much later in life. While working in Geneva, Switzerland, Mrs. Petter would wake up two hours early and write before her “day job” began. After work, she would often stay up till midnight to continue her progress.  This determination of success is why I feel the author is so able to give the reader a variety and flexibility as you read each tale.  I also admire the author’s word choices and descriptions. The characters are refreshingly honest and not a single story line feels contrived or dated.  In the short, Stiletto Condoms, the dialog between the two lovers over pock marks on the parquet floors offers humor and the ridiculousness that one places over objects compared to people that we have a relationship with.  One can sense the tension in a room or feel the stress of an individual with each word and emotion that Mrs. Petter relates. This has been done to a precision and level of perfection with the tales Fences and Necropix

My personal favorite short was The Burka. Sylvia Petter’s true talent as an author and expert wordsmith are seen. I felt, I was at a table nearby having my own mint tea and completely mesmerized with the conversation that I was eavesdropping on. Then the author completely surprises me and leaves me in a state of shock as she relays the tale of Trashion Passion. She teases and creates a foreplay of images that has this reader wanting to continue the journey.  I can’t help wondering if these two stories were connected in some possible way. This happens with two other shorts also.  I highly encourage you to connect with Sylvia Petter’s book, Mercury Blobs. It is a modern, intelligent, thought provoking masterpiece that I highly recommend. 
Sylvia Petter's Author Facebook Page


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