Thursday, March 17, 2016

Little Things Blog Hop

Amazing Giveaway!!!

This is just one of 117 stops on the Little Things Blog Hop

Make sure you visit each stop and enter the posted giveaway. 
Keep an eye on the big one - A rafflecopter with a $50 Amazon gift card grand prize and a ton of other prizes! 

Who doesn't like winning cool prizes?

Click on the book image below to get in.

Next you will want to click on this link and visit Author Maryann Jordan! 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Nudity: Beyond the Controversy

Kim: "When you're like I have nothing to wear LOL" 
Probing the blurred lines between female empowerment,
naked protests & sheer exhibitionism 

Last week, as the world marked the International Womens Day, a bizarre cycle of creative ferment rocked social media over Kim Kardashian’s naked selfie Instagram post, which, in a way, was surprising since it was not the first time the reality star “broke the internet.”

Nevertheless, it got television personality, Wendy Williams wondering if Kanye West had hijacked his wife’s phone. It also prompted former CNN presenter, Piers Morgan to offer, derisively, to buy her clothes in response to the puckishly captioned post, “When you’re like I have nothing to wear LOL.”
Bette Midler, who actually set the tone for the ferment, wrote the hilarious tweet, “If Kim wants us to see a part of her we’ve never seen, she’s gonna have to swallow the camera.”

Moms share nude snaps following Kim's internet offering 
And Kim, in a rather uncharacteristic reaction to the hoopla, did what some called ‘pulling a Kanye’ (which seems to be another way of saying ‘taking the bait’ especially if it involves engaging in a twitter feud). She said afterwards, “I am empowered by my body. I am empowered by my sexuality. I am empowered by feeling comfortable in my skin. I am empowered by showing the world my flaws and not being afraid of what anyone is going to say about me. And I hope that through this platform I have been given, I can encourage the same empowerment for girls and women all over the world.”

She did, in fact, ‘encourage’ some British mothers to feel empowered enough to strip for the camera. This week, the London-based Sun Newspaper published nude photos of five new moms who stripped off to show, according to the paper, what REAL post-pregnancy women look like naked.

But beyond the utterly pointless controversy over Kim’s nude selfie, many now see the line between naked protests aimed at female empowerment and the sexy stereotypes that feminists scorn becoming steadily blurred. And the question they are asking is, does nudity really prove the point?

Protesters at the Pamplona bull run
In a Vice Media blog post, Bertie Brandes wonders if “It’s time for women to rethink naked protests.” Analyzing the adventures of Heather Varley, a 22-year-old British student, who traveled to Spain last year to participate in a PETA-inspired protest against animal cruelty during the Pamplona bull run, Bertie offered interesting insights. While other protesters sprayed red paint on their bodies, Heather chose instead to protest topless. “I’ve got an inkling,” Bertie wrote. “Just an inkling—largely due to the total disregard of the equally nearly-naked male protester next to Heather in the story—that yes, yes! Heather’s nipples might have been what got this protest into the news.”

FEMEN protest against EURO 2012
The truth, though, is that over the years, nudity has been effectively employed in protests to attract public attention to a cause. But nudity, according to Bertie, might not have much to do with animal rights, all the same, Heather understood that the only way to get attention was to strip because of the power still carried by the image of a woman’s naked body. Further, Bertie observed that nude protests had worked for FEMEN (a group of Ukrainian topless female activities) up to a point. “The problem is that their argument was entirely undermined when it turned out that these beautiful women who risked their lives to campaign against stifling sexism had apparently been auditioned on the basis of their attractiveness.” Her verdict? “Exploiting other women’s confidence and trust on that level is pretty depressing.”

Mollie King
In fact, many pundits hold the opinion that a line should be drawn between nudity as a form of protest for a specific cause and nudity for the sheer purpose of exhibitionism. 

Last November, the British newspaper columnists, Jan Moir, in her piece in the Daily Mail captioned, “Why these X-rated red carpet dresses betray women,” went as far as saying that those guilty of this indecent exposure were deluding themselves and demeaning their sex.
Down on the red carpet and up on the stage, a new frontier in feminism is being established,” she wrote. 

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley
“Battle lines have been drawn in a crusade where she-celebrities seem to be competing to see who can wear the least the best, all in the name of emancipation and fashion forward self-expression. Who dares to bare wins? Everyone loves a bit of sexy glamour, but stars are stepping out in ever more terrifying outfits: barely there frocks that seem to get skimpier, tighter, more outrageous and revealing than before. First there was actress Salma Hayek in eye-popping ruffled plunge, showing more breast than a 10lb turkey. Then there was Marks & Spencer model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley in the kind of navel-grazing sequins that might give Jessica Rabbit pause for thought. Pop singer Mollie King wore a dress slit to the navel - from both directions - which was so revealing we could all see she had dutifully kept her waxing appointments…That is why it is rather depressing to see that, within the Tinseltown confines of show business, so many of them seem to be content to reduce themselves to the kind of sexy stereotypes worshiped by men.”
Salma Hayek

As with other aspects of feminism, the talk about women’s freedom to express themselves through nudity and fashion is an ongoing debate.
In this context, Angelina Chapin, the Blog editor of the Huffington Post said that “Some of the most important moments in modern feminism have been the result of tensions between feminists.” 

In her opinion piece in the Ottawa Citizen entitled, “Why Feminists Should Argue Over Kim Kardashian’s Selfie,” she asserted that “We should also ask questions older feminists did not, such as why Serena Williams’ body is shamed while Maria Sharapova’s is celebrated and why a white woman’s assault matters more than an Aboriginal woman’s murder.”

Caitlyn Stasey
It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that the argument, inevitably, touches yet again on the body issue, which the Australian actress, Caitlyn Stasey had a rather unusual response to early last year. 

Caitlyn, according to a report in the Mail Online, in a bold move to show her dissatisfaction with the way women were being presented across all forms of media, launched what she called a female-empowerment website complete with a series of full-frontal photographs. 

While the initiative was positively received, pundits are still struggling to find a convincing answer to the all-important question, does nudity really prove the point?

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Q&A with Hartford Books Examiner

Augustine Sam 

'The Conspiracy of Silence'

From AuthorSuite Books

Sam is the author of “The Conspiracy of Silence” (AuthorSuiteBooks). A bilingual Italian journalist and an award winning poet, he is also a member of the U.K. Chartered Institute of Journalists. Sam was formerly Special Desk editor at THISDAY newspapers, an authoritative Third World daily first published in collaboration with the Financial Times of London. He later became correspondent for central Europe. His poems have been published in two international anthologies: “The Sounds of Silence” and “Measures of the Heart.” One of his poems, Anguish & Passion, was the winner of the Editors’ Choice Awards in the North America Open Poetry contest, USA. Augustine’s debut novel, “Take Back the Memory,” a contemporary Women’s fiction, received a Readers’ Favorite 5-star medal. His second book, “Flashes of Emotion,” a collection of poems, was the 2015 International Book Award Finalist. Sam lives and works in Venice.
“The Conspiracy of Silence” was published last September. Tracy Edingfield, lawyer and author of “The Law Firm of Psycho & Satan,” praised: “This fire-cracker female lead is a force of nature who drives her powerful enemies to their knees. She’s smart, she’s brave. She’s sexy as hell. Sam’s tale of the mob’s tenacious grip on American politics is bared in some of the best courtroom scenes ever written.” Further, TFLReader (Top 500 Reviewer) noted “This is definitely one wild ride from start to finish …”

From the publisher:
An exposé on the murky world of high-stakes politics...a depiction of the life-and-death struggle of a young female lawyer who goes to great lengths to outwit a diabolical trio in order to save her lover from a murder rap.
The conscience of a town steeped in sexism, vanity and hypocrisy is pricked by the brutal murder of a mysterious woman in an LA park. But the shock is transformed into a steamy, seductive scandal when the corpse turns out to be Susan Whitaker, the flamboyant wife of the governor of California.
A secret lover/blackmailer theory leads to the indictment of Hollywood's most influential black celebrity. It is only the beginning, for Susan Whitaker, in fact, did not exist.
Little does anyone realize that this colossal fraud is a mere curtain raiser to a chilling world of ugly skeletons dating back to the assassination of a U.S. senator in a Washington hotel sauna, skeletons connected to riveting sex scandals in high places, skeletons the FBI and political kingmakers will kill for...
Now, Augustine Sam offers up his testimony in the matter of “The Conspiracy of Silence” …

John Valeri: What inspired you to write “The Conspiracy of Silence” – and how did you find the process to compare to that of writing your first novel?

Augustine Sam: Actually, “The Conspiracy of Silence” was motivated by a play I wrote for broadcast many years ago—a 30-minute radio play about a musician accused of a murder he did not commit. His sister, it turned out, was the only person alive who knew he was innocent though the evidence pointed to his culpability; her desperation to prove his innocence, of course, was the core of the play. When it was aired, I felt that it was too short to convey the kind of emotion that should naturally accompany a tense plot such as that, so I decided to write a novel about it with all the powerful ingredients that were missing in the play.
My first novel, “Take Back the Memory” on the other hand, was a different ball game. It involved the creation of a flawed character whose struggles with her inner demons had the sole purpose of helping us, as literature often does, to understand ourselves as humans. It was a kind of psychological exploration of the human mind, in this case, a woman's mind; a woman unable to fall out of love with her childhood sweetheart who had abandoned her for priesthood. She decided to embark on a very curious kind of vendetta.
In a way, the process of writing both books was similar in that I delved into what some might call political incorrectness.

JV: Your protagonist, Rita Spencer, is a defense attorney. How did you endeavor to get into her head – and where did you draw the line between authenticity and creative license in terms of depicting her profession?

AS: Rita Spencer is thrust into the limelight she dreads by a murder of which her lover is accused. It is important to note two things: (1) she happens to be a good investigator whose strength lies in the kind of dirt she's able to dig up in any given case, and (2) like any woman in love, she is desperate to save her lover from the murder rap. Based on that premise, the writer in me undertook the pleasurable task of getting into her head through what I would call a normal creative process. The line between authenticity and my creative license in depicting her profession is not drawn but designed to blend with reality. In the evolution of the story, her conduct as a person (or what you might call behind-the-scene maneuver) is distinct from the tricks she pulls in the courtroom, the process of which is presented in as authentic a manner as it is in real life. In fact, one former practicing lawyer describes the legal process portrayed in the book as "some of the best courtroom scenes ever written." Of course, I am honored by the compliment.

JV: In your opinion, how does setting enhance narrative – and in what ways have your own international experiences informed this work?

AS: The setting of any novel is imperative to the narrative. It highlights the story, makes the characters real and identifiable, gives a greater understanding of the plot, and puts the events in their proper environmental perspective. It is true for all genres including thrillers, which, in addition to the setting, have the advantage of a fast-paced trait that helps the author simulate the mood of his readers by providing that sudden rush of excitement, and exhilaration that eventually drive the narrative.
In answer to the other question, well, the only way I see my international experiences as informing this work is in my ability to free myself from being pigeonholed with a single idea or perspective; it goes a long way to inspire open-mindedness, which I consider healthy for creativity.

JV: Though fiction, your story resonates as timely and topical. How do you see this work as being relevant to the current political climate – and in what ways can fiction be a particularly effective vehicle for illuminating real-life issues?

AS: Literature must be relevant to its times. It must be both timely and timeless. It must resonate with the people and the period in which it is set, and contribute to the discourse, political or otherwise, as well as put events in their proper historical and social contexts. To that extent, I'm glad that this work comes across as topical. I would say it is relevant to the current social and political climate in that it doesn't shy away from exploring same. Fiction, used properly, can be a very effective vehicle for expounding on real-life issues because it can, by its nature, get away with many things. And it doesn't necessarily have to be politically correct.

JV: You have a background in journalism and poetry. How do these disciplines influence one another – and what appeals to you about alternating between them?

AS: Though my background in journalism definitely helps in terms of research etc., I generally try not to think as a journalist when engaged in literary writing. Journalists, as someone noted, can be a pretty soul-less bunch at times, and while they are great at communicating hard facts they are often less adept at expressing their feelings and their sensitivities. So, it's difficult to approach poetry, for example, with the mind-set of a journalist because sometimes with poetry you really must bare your soul. But poetry appeals to me because it brings out thoughts and expressions in ways that other genres suffer deficits. However, it is important to say that my background in both fields does not create any kind of contradiction, in fact, in a curious sort of way, it creates a mental balance for me.

JV: Leave us with a teaser: What comes next?

AS: A new book, of course; I am currently working on the first part of a trilogy that's a blend of Literary and Romantic Suspense.
John Valeri
John Valeri was an independent contractor for from 2009 to 2016. His Hartford Books Examiner column consistently ranked in the top ten percent of all Hartford, National Books and National Arts & Entertainment Examiners. His reviews have been excerpted in more than fifty titles written by popular authors ranging from Wally Lamb and Debbie Macomber to James Patterson and Marcia Clark. John regularly moderates author interviews and book discussions at bookstores, conferences, and libraries throughout Connecticut; he has also appeared on television and radio. John will make his fiction debut in Tricks and Treats, a Halloween-themed anthology due out from Books & Boos Press this fall. John currently contributes to, The News and Times, The National Book Review, Suspense Magazine, and The Strand.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

AuthorSuite Women's Day

#8March - #IWD2016 - #PledgeForParity

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”     
– Maya Angelou

“Destiny is a name often given in retrospect to choices that had dramatic consequences.”  
                      – J. K. Rowling

“It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union…. Men, their rights and nothing more; women, their rights and nothing less.”  – Susan B. Anthony

About International Women's Day 2016

International Women's Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

International Women's Day (IWD) has been observed since in the early 1900's - a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies. International Women's Day is a collective day of global celebration and a call for gender parity. No one government, NGO, charity, corporation, academic institution, women's network or media hub is solely responsible for International Women's Day. Many organizations declare an annual IWD theme that supports their specific agenda or cause, and some of these are adopted more widely with relevance than others.

"The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to anyone organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights," says world-renowned feminist, journalist and social and political activist Gloria Steinem. International Women's Day is all about celebration,reflection, advocacy, and action - whatever that looks like globally at a local level. But one thing is for sure, International Women's Day has been occurring for over a century - and is growing annually from strength to strength.

“A lot of people are afraid to say what they want. That’s why they don’t get what they want.” – Madonna

“The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” – Ayn Rand

“If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.”  – Katharine Hepburn

Women have always been the strong ones of the world. The men are always seeking from women a little pillow to put their heads down on. They are always longing for the mother who held them as infants. 
      - Coco Chanel

Performers dressed in period costume re-enact a march on Parliament by the 
suffragettes during a rally by feminist organisations to demand equality
for women in London.
Honor your daughters. They are honorable.  - Malala Yousafzai

You see a lot of smart guys with dumb women, but you hardly ever see a smart woman with a dumb guy. - Erica Jong

After all those years as a woman hearing 'not thin enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough, not this enough, not that enough,' almost overnight I woke up one morning and thought, 'I'm enough'.”  - Anna Quindlen

A Femen activist, Sarah Constantin, is hanged from a noose-like
rope from a Paris bridge to call attention to the large number
of executions in Iran as she stages a protest against visiting
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Paris, Thursday,
Jan. 28, 2016


Friday, March 4, 2016

Anniversary Edition




Free...with Kindle Unlimited

Flashes of Emotion - the 2015 International Book Awards Finalist - a book of romantic poetry. It is both timely & timeless. It is a selection that allows the reader to tap into the poet's insights on a wide variety of topics from life and love to death and drudgery. Contemporary poetry with a classical edge, a 'must have' for anyone who has ever experienced love, pain, defeat, or joy ...

"A rare poetry collection" - Book Readers Review 


Acclaim for Flashes of Emotion

Author, poet, journalist Augustine Sam lives in Venice, Italy - that most romantic of all cities - and offers this collection of his poetry for romantics and those looking for meaning in the many challenges life offers. Augustines poems glow with musical invention and the manner in which he elects to place his words on the page enhances the meaning and the beauty of these works...Liquid flowing music from a poet who understands passion. His eloquent poems speak to each of us as private as a whispered conversation. Brilliant.”  
-  Grady Harp
    Hall of Fame | Vine Voice

Flashes of Emotion by Augustine Sam has a classical edge, yet feels current in its raw energy. Poetry, simply put, is not like this anymore, which makes it all together unique and refreshing. I enjoyed the deep description and rhythm as they are quite different from my own writing. You won’t find words or thoughts like these at slams, or online, therefore it is well worth your time.
-  Ben Ditmars
    Author of Night Poems & Haiku in the Night

Fifty-two poems, intellectual and emotional - Sam's vocabulary is large, as is his geography. You will find imagery, as in 'Italian Cemetery.' You will find relationship galore here, for example in 'Gestures & Allusions.' If you are looking for a sad love poem, turn to 'The Greatest Gift.' Sams style may take a bit of getting used to, but that voice produced several favorites in my notes. Five stars it is, and extremely recommended.
  -  Jim Bennett
     The Kindle Book Review

Masculine, Effective & Pristine - In Augustine Sams Flashes of Emotion, the use of language and allusions to cultural norms is masterful, while his tone plays the chasing dawn of a morning sun were unwilling to wait and see. This collection affected me... those poems Augustine Sam rocked were outstanding. I recommend Flashes of Emotion to every poetry lover who wants love songs and outside angles from a tender, masculine perspective.
 -  Melissa Ratel
     Vraeyda Media – Canada

This collection deserved to be published. Its well-composed verses are a prime example of thought-provoking poetry—a marriage of Old World charm and modern day romance. A ‘must have’ for anyone who has ever experienced love, pain, defeat, or joy.
-  Anna Marie Fritz
    Author of The Dream Garden & Anna-Versery poetry series.

Sam knows how to put across emotions and thoughts, and they resonate from every poem.
Lit Amri
    Readers' Favorite

Creative, intriguing, and impressive.
Gwen Dickerson
    Poet & writer

Gems in an elegant setting.
John Zimmerman

International Poet of Merit
Silver Award bowl
Journalists can be a pretty soul-less bunch at times, and while they are great at communicating hard facts they are generally less adept at expressing their feelings and their sensitivities. That’s not true of all journalists, of course, and it certainly isn’t true of Augustine Sam who has somehow managed to combine a career in mainstream journalism with an equally successful career as a creative writer and poet extraordinaire, picking up awards and accolades left, right and center for his amazing poems. This anthology allows us to tap into Augustine’s insights on a wide variety of topics from life and love to death and drudgery - a collection that showcases this journo-poet’s lively, refreshing, and innovative style.” 
- Andy Smith FRGS FCIJ
  Editor, The Journal of the Chartered Institute of Journalists, U.K.