DA Kentner writes the column THE READERS' WRITERS for the (Freeport) Journal-Standard and GateHouse News Service. My alter ego KevaD lives under a stairway of dreams where he writes stories and grumbles about everything. Click the pic to visit KevaD's blog.
Drop me a line at dakentner@yahoo.com

I invite you to read my award-winning short story posted on Calliope Magazine's web site.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Word Rocker Cyndi Dawson

While exploring the raw and magnetic music of Babs Martin, I came across a video titled “Magus” by Cyndi Dawson. The work is Dawson’s poetry set to a calming melody.

“This is the dream of the holy man, of the man of sorrow, who waits by the split sea like Moses.”

I wanted to know more about the author behind the words and visual concept, which led me to Dawson’s book of poetry “Outside Girl.”

In “Outside Girl,” Dawson takes us into the off-the-grid NYC club scenes of the eighties, into the filth of bathrooms with junkies feeding their habits, false bravado thumped by those needing to fit in, the genuine lost souls, the hopes and dreams that will be left behind, and the beautiful hearts of those who will emerge from that era a little tattered, but all the wiser and stronger for the experience.

Dawson shares that world from her own experiences, her own viewpoint of the life she was living. As a “word rocker,” Dawson has performed her poetry to music in clubs around the world, always growing, always – in her terminology – evolving.

I think that’s one of the things that made her word artistry stand out for me. Dawson views life as a personal evolution. Because, after all, if we aren’t evolving, we’re stagnating.

A rocker at heart, Dawson (from the Cynz’s Facebook page) “and longtime musician friend Henry Seiz joined forces, grabbed fellow musicians Matt Langone, Bob Stockl and Patrick Schoultz, and put together what is being talked about as 'the closest thing to the sound of 1977 CBGB's since 1977'” - the band Cynz. Cynz is a hard hitting stage from which Dawson’s lyrical prose melds with skilled guitar licks, a solid bass foundation, and Stockl’s percussion perfection.

One of their most popular songs to date? “Evolution,” of course.

‘Actress’ Cyndi Dawson has appeared on Law and Order, Advil commercials and other film and TV projects. Her poetic prose has appeared in over fifty anthologies and magazines, as well as two other collections she published, “Dream Sequences” and “Inside of Outside.” As a performance artist, Dawson has enthralled international audiences. And yes, “artist” most accurately describes Dawson. She is a painter of words, and life is her canvas.
http://www.myspace.com/insideofoutside
“Magus”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Ftd8zSp7hA&feature=related

Q) You founded the poetry and music venue 'Poets and Angels Music and Poetry Series.’ Would explain for our readers what that venue is?

A) I wanted to create a safe space where people could explore their work without having to be a 'professional' writer. I found a perfect cafe in town where i live and they gave me free reign to start the series up. Since I worked with musicians doing my poetry pieces, it evolved into a poetry AND music series. It was very organic. We all allowed it to become it's own animal, so to speak, and it was a beautiful one.

Q) I read a blurb that you once stood in for Madonna. When and why?

A) I was an actress in the 80's, and my agent called me one night and said I was to be on set 6am for a movie as a stand in. I asked for who, and she said, 'Madonna'. Well, you know Madonna was HUGE at that point. I was a dancer so our bodies were very similar at that point, though I look nothing like her in the face. But as her stand in they could use me to set up shots and to do shots where she would have been filmed from behind or running, etc. This film was 'Who's That Girl'.

Q) You truly are a language artist wielding a verbal brush sometimes caustic, other times graceful and serene. Poetry isn’t known for its ladders to success. Why devote so much of your life to it?

A) Art yields little financial success, almost as a rule for most. I can only say that, like breathing, it is essential for living to someone like myself. I've written poetically since I was a child. I think my thoughts in poetry. I have mild aspergers so learning how to outwardly reveal my emotions in a safe way made writing the same as oxygen for me. I am very comfortable writing or moving my body physically as a mode of communication.

Q) Which leads us to this question – in your mind, what is “success”?

A) Success is when something you do that connects you in a positive way to the world gives you great satisfaction. It's obviously not about the money to me, although how I admire those who DO make their living doing what it is they love. That's a bonus, but not necessarily success.

Q) Performance art and small clubs allow for interaction with the audience. Do the people who come to your Cynz’s performances inspire your work, and if so, how?

A) Absolutely. The interaction with the audience can make or break a performance. It's an alchemy of energy. You try and bring everything you've got to every show. I've never experienced a dead audience at any of our shows so far, whether we had 100 or we had 20 people. They all move towards the stage and you can see it in their faces. We are definitely experiencing some shamanic exchange of purge during our performance. I often think the audience NEEDS me to cut loose and get that scream out. It's OUR scream, together!

Q) Any parting thoughts for readers not yet familiar with your poetry?

A) Jair-Rohm Parker Wells wrote that gorgeous music for 'Magus'. I've worked with some wonderful musicians over the years.

As for my words, I think the one thing I try and create is a set of 'unrules'. Craft is important. I hope more young writers learn how to edit and workshop. I am a 'street poet' but I still try and make sure every line is essential, that the piece doesn't go on too long just for my own ego, and that it isn't so written for myself that a reader couldn't grasp any of it. In that case, keep a journal of your work, but don't necessarily post it places. I find younger writers posting 2-3 times a day just to get comments and the work wasn't well thought out in regards to editing or crafting to make it really great. So- yes, no rules in terms of free style poetry, but having said that, at least take more time on your work to make sure it's not the best expression of the message you want to speak and/or share with readers. I write from where I live. Not every word is in chronological order, but most of my work is gleamed from my life or thoughts pertaining to bits of mine and/or another's.

I find if you write from a place of truth, there's a sense of urgency in the words you just can't fake. And the reader knows this.
DA Kentner is an author and journalist. http://www.kevad.net/

Friday, March 23, 2012

Author and Biochemist Robert L Switzer, PhD

Retired Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry Robert Switzer’s work centered within the University of Illinois’ research program studying the regulation of metabolism as exemplified by the control of biosynthetic enzymes during bacterial growth and differentiation.

Yeah. I don’t know what he did either.

What I do know is that his character and moral foundations resulted from the sweat, tears, and joys of ancestors who broke ground and cared for livestock all their lives to raise their family and provide a nation with food. Dr. Switzer is the proud product of a dying culture…the family farm. In an age where corporations are steadily redefining the concepts of agriculture, keeping the voice alive for those who worked sunrise to sunset for little to nothing is gaining more importance with each passing day. It is quite probable a generation is being born who may never see a family farm that doesn’t include the word “incorporated” at the end of the name.

Switzer’s book “A Family Farm: Life on an Illinois Dairy Farm” is his own family’s rich history and loving devotion to the life they chose. Within the pages live four generations, from the start of the farm in 1916 to its heart wrenching dismantlement under an auctioneer’s gavel in 1991. “A Family Farm” isn’t just the journey of the Switzer farm, it is our own odyssey as a civilization, and a warning that if we do not tend to the strengths, labors, and devotion that provided our foundations, we too could become an interesting exhibit in a quaint museum.

Readers won’t just learn about the rigors of farm life, but about the people themselves as we follow the author’s mother filled with dreams of a scholarly future, only to see the Great Depression snuff those dreams, and her return to the farm with her husband who performed his chores and taught in a rural schoolhouse as well. The story is an emotional rollercoaster, because that’s what small farm life is.

Buy this book. Treasure the lives that will continue to live because of people like Robert Switzer who refuse to let them be forgotten. By the way, it won’t be available until April 15th, but readers can preorder now either through Amazon.com or your local bookstore. Publisher: Center for American Places at Columbia College, Chicago
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Q) You and your brother Steve left farm life to pursue other careers, thereby unknowingly dooming your family’s farm. Is this book a strand of conscience cleansing as well as the documenting of a rich history?

A) Near the end of his life Dad coaxed Steve and me to keep the farm in the family, even though he knew that neither of us were free to operate it. It was a painful moment, but we wouldn’t lie to him—we intended to sell the farm after he was gone. Economic and practical factors overrule sentiment in the passing of small family farms.

On a more personal level, I think the decision hurt Steve more than it did me. I confess that I was happy to leave the farm, and I was fortunate to be able to pursue a career in scientific research and education that I loved. Brashly, I never looked back until I was much older.

Q) I have to ask. Just what did you do – in lay terms, please?

A) It gets buried in technical jargon pretty quickly doesn’t it? I studied the ways in which cells regulate the activity of their genes and enzymes in response to nutritional and environmental signals. They are amazingly good at this, and through evolution they have developed a large array of remarkably clever mechanisms for doing it. My students and I uncovered quite a few new ones. We worked with harmless laboratory strains of bacteria, but the strains we used were close cousins of bacteria that are important in disease and commercial processes, so our results applied to all of them. 

Q) What do you believe first inspired your grandparents to choose farming in NW Illinois, especially considering they primarily utilized outdated methodology for their time?

A) They were like many rural people of the time: they stayed where they grew up and they did what they knew. Neither Grandpa nor Grandma had an education beyond the eighth grade, and they had grown up on farms. They were slow to adopt new methods and equipment because they were always cash-poor. Grandpa had an additional handicap: he suffered from narcolepsy, so he was afraid of falling asleep while operating motorized machinery.

Q) As your parents’ early dreams had involved scholarly pursuits, how instrumental were they to your decision to bring your academic dreams to fruition?

A) Their influence, especially the influence of my mother, can hardly be overstated. She had been an excellent student, completed a college degree with honors in 1931, and had an opportunity to pursue graduate studies in biology at Cornell, but was frustrated by the Great Depression. In some sense, I was acting out her dream in becoming a university professor. I think Dad’s feelings were more ambivalent; he was proud of what I accomplished, but hurt a bit by my rejection of the farm life he had chosen. In his own way Dad was something of an intellectual, though. He enjoyed discussing history, politics and literature. I recall him reciting fragments of French poetry while we were milking cows.

Q) You wisely elected to include photographs and artwork in your book. How supportive has your and your brother’s families been to this project?

A) My family was more than supportive—this was a family project. Our son Brian, who is a professor of design in Germany, did the graphic design for the book and contributed the woodblock prints of his grandfather’s farm. My wife Bonnie, an artist, added four of her watercolor paintings insipired by the farm. The older photographs were in my parents’ collection, which passed to us after they died. The photos from the ‘70s onward were taken by several family members, including my brother Steve. All read early drafts of the text, and both Brian and our daughter Stephanie wrote beautiful descriptions of their memories of their grandparents’ farm. 

I doubt that my grandparents or parents, who are no longer living, would be been happy with some of my unsparing description of their lives, but I was determined to present a truthful and unsentimental story. My love and respect for them is obvious.

Q) Any parting thoughts to share with potential readers?

A) This book is intended for the general reader who would like an intimate picture of life on a small family farm throughout the twentieth century and an understanding of how so many such farms ceased to exist as separate farms. Millions of these family stories—often sad ones—could be told, but they are rapidly being lost. This is just one of them.

Although it is intended for the general reader, the book integrates a gentle scholarly shell that documents general trends in US agriculture and rural life throughout the period with end notes and references tucked in the back for those who want to dig deeper into the great decline in family farming. There is also an appendix that details the story of the farm from 1857 to 1911 written by Frank E. Barmore, the great grandson of N. J. Barmore, the patriarch who built the 1860s buildings that still stand and acquired adjacent land for his many children. The appendix includes beautiful architectural drawings of the old house and barn. So, A Family Farm is also a resource for specialists, but not obtrusively so. 
DA Kentner is an author and journalist. http://www.kevad.net/

Friday, March 16, 2012

Author Stacy Bierlein

“A Vacation on the Island of Ex-boyfriends.” Heaven or Hell?
Heaven for the reader of this refreshing collection of short stories by debut author Stacy Bierlein. For the two friends who land on such an island, maybe the answer lies somewhere in the discovery that both words begin with “He,” and there aren’t any signposts beyond the women’s hearts, desires, and dreams. Of course, a little feminine guile never hurts either.

Each story within “A Vacation on the Island of Ex-boyfriends” is itself an introspective look through the keyhole of a woman’s intelligence, strengths, and the weaknesses that both mold and damage her. Yet, through Stacy’s wit and heartwarming storytelling ability, the reader will gladly follow these characters as they travel their individual journeys in search of that elusive happy ending we all believe we deserve and yearn for. Is the grass greener on the other side? Was what we wanted always within reach, but too close to see? Would we really risk our life for love? Does destiny exist and find us no matter how far we run?

Stacy isn’t new to the literary scene. A southern Californian, she edited the award-winning anthology, “A Stranger Among Us: Stories of Cross Cultural Collision and Connection,” and coedited “Men Undressed: Female Writers and the Male Sexual Experience.” She is a founding editor of the independent press Other Voices Books, and co-creator of the Morgan Street International Novel Series. Her articles about writing, publishing and the arts appear on various websites.

In this collection of delightful short stories, Stacy serves up the ever present reminder that love is never guaranteed, there is danger in surrendering our hearts, and sometimes the leap of faith is off a cliff. But Stacy also reminds us that sometimes that leap can land us where we were meant to be all along, and the trip can be well worth the fall.
http://www.erpmedia.net/books/AVacation.html

Q) Why debut with a short story collection and not a novel?

A) I have always preferred short fiction, as both a reader and a writer. I like the challenge of the short story—the quest to achieve the emotional range of a novel but in less than 10,000 words. I like the precision and control a writer needs in shorter works. It makes perfect sense to me that many of our finest contemporary poets write stunning short fiction, an vice versa. One needs to slow down, to fine tune. Novel writing requires a certain bravery and momentum that I’m not sure I have ever been able to sustain, although certainly I would like to try. Novel writing is a longer journey into the unknown.

Q) There are highs (rave reviews and sales) and lows (poor reviews and no sales) to having your name on a book. For an author, “published” can be a blindfolded roller coaster ride. Coming from the “unseen” side of publishing – editing - is being a published author what you expected?

A) I really like this question because the blindfolded roller coaster ride description is right-on. Being a published writer is what I expected, actually, because I knew what I was getting myself into. Publishing is a difficult business from all sides and I suspect it is easier for writers to keep realistic expectations when they have previously experienced this in some way. We have all seen truly brilliant books receive very little attention—for any number of reasons sometimes beyond the writer’s control, like neglected publicity efforts or poor distribution—and basically disappear. At the same time we see books that are rushed to print without proper editorial support, books that aren’t quite there yet, hitting bookstore shelves and managing to do notably well in spite of their failings. In my case, I feel proud of my work and my publisher’s enthusiasm for it and that’s really the very basic formula one hopes to have. From there anything can happen. On a blindfolded roller coaster ride you cannot be sure if your car is slowing to come to a stop or to shoot into some kind of crazy upside-down whirl.

Q) What inspired this collection of short stories?

A) For years it seemed that my closest friends were embarking on definitive journeys—both literal and emotional ones. I wanted to get both the beauty and uncertainty of those moments onto the page. I also wanted to describe accurately the intensity of female friendships. I am surprised by how seldom I encounter deep female friendships in literary fiction. As a culture, we tend to leave this arena to genre fiction and television writing. When I described my need to get onto the page the language female friends use when alone with one another, a friend told me “Oh honey, ‘Sex and the City’ has already done that.” I thought “Sex and the City” was daring and often lovely but I didn’t think it was showing us the true way women speak to each other. I thought it was how a team of extremely clever television writers wanted New York women to speak to one another. My women had some essential things in common with them but didn’t sound like them exactly.

Q) Much has been said by reviewers (almost all praise worthy) about your characters and their choices where love is concerned. What was your purpose in creating such a kaleidoscope of characters and international locations?

A) I think I possess more than my fair share of wanderlust. I have always been a traveler and deeply interested in who people are when they are away from home. Likewise I question whether home is really a place at all. Maybe we get that wrong and home is actually another person—at the risk of sounding too precious—a person who really understands your heart.

I was thinking about wanderlust as it relates to reading habits. Most of the literature I loved when I was a child involved children embarking on some kind of extraordinary or dangerous journey. I remember a book I treasured in grade school called King of the Dollhouse, where the king was a homebody who raised eleven princes and princesses while the queen went on adventures all over the world. I loved both the king’s devotion to his babies and the queen’s relentless curiosity. I wanted to be both of them. When I was a teenager I failed to love reading the way I once had. The stories I was to read suddenly lacked that kind of adventure—everything became more serious and realistic. This isn’t true for teenage readers today of course. Today’s young adult fiction is far more impressive in range and diversity. But most of my writing peers admit to this—a time in their late teens and early twenties when their reading often failed to capture their imagination. They wondered how they could become writers when they were less than enchanted by reading. Luckily in college we discovered Kafka and Gogol and Woolf as well as contemporary writers like Donald Barthleme and Robert Coover and Richard Brautigan. Reading became magical again. Today we have brilliant writers like Lydia Millet, Miranda July, and Aimee Bender writing important adult stories that remind us why we so loved reading as children. I think I often set my stories in distant places because I want the act of writing them to recall in some way the feeling and wonder I had for characters from my childhood reading, for those very devoted kings and wonderfully restless queens.

Q) What can we expect next from you?

A) I am working on a few things now. I’m writing an essay for TheNervousBreakdown.com on demolition and architecture, a discussion of what we destroy and what we preserve. I’m preparing to interview one of my favorite authors, Josip Novakovich, about his forthcoming essay collection, Shopping for a Better Country, for The Rumpus. I’m also tinkering with a novella that is a modern-day Sleeping Beauty story. Sleeping Beauty wakes up after 100 years of sleep and is seriously pissed off that the first thing she is expected to do is to marry. She is an insomniac now. Of course this is where her real trouble begins ….

Q) Any parting comments for those readers yet to pick up a copy of “A Vacation on the Island of Ex-boyfriends?”

A) I want to say how excited I am that my book has released in spring 2012—a very strong season for fiction with some notable titles by women I admire. Pam Houston’s new novel, "Contents May Have Shifted," is extraordinary. Two memoirs of note, Claire Bidwell Smith’s "The Rules of Inheritance" and Cheryl Strayed’s "Wild," discuss overcoming loneliness and so much more. Both are full of moments that made me stop and say, “Oh yes, I’ve known this feeling, I’ve just never had the words for it before.” And I’m looking forward to the release of Elizabeth Crane’s novel, "We Only Know So Much." So I hope you will read "A Vacation on the Island of Ex-Boyfriends" of course, but please do not stop there. This is an exciting year of innovative and inviting fiction.
DA Kentner is an author and journalist. http://www.kevad.net/

Friday, March 9, 2012

Reading Proponent Dawn Roberto - Author Raine Delight

What readers of this column may not know is I don’t get paid to do this. Nope. Not at all. I interview authors solely to introduce readers to authors and books they might not be familiar with. So, when I meet someone else actively promoting authors and their work to readers while pushing their own books into the background, my interest piques.

Dawn Roberto hosts the popular Internet chat group Love Romances Café where authors and publishers are free to promote their books, and readers can chat live with those authors. She also hosts a blog where authors can, again, market their work. Dawn doesn’t profit from any of this. It’s a free service to readers and writers. In fact, in order to maintain the integrity of her efforts to promote reading, she created the pseudonym Raine Delight as the author of her own books. Furthermore, this interview is one of the rare times Dawn allows her two personas to sit down together.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LoveRomancesCafe/

Now, Raine Delight is a bit of a personality in her own right and has become known for her more than cheeky comments and rhetoric. Raine pens erotic romance. Her tales are sometimes heart wrenching, suspenseful, sometimes sprinkled with humor, but always entertaining, and, yes, the bedroom door is always open.

Raine was unveiled with the introduction of the paranormal Devon Falls series, “Sticky Magic” being the first book released. Four others followed, the latest being “Moonlight and Magic,” the story of a rare white were-tiger and the one woman who can tame his heart.
Departing from Devon Falls, but continuing to remain within the paranormal genre, Raine has now released “Fantasies Unbound.” Skye Andrews is a woman fed up with life and men, until a Faberge egg opens a doorway to a Fae Prince in search of the love that can make him whole. If you’re a reader who enjoys wonderfully told tales of open hearts in worlds limited only by the imagination, and steamy romance, Raine is waiting to share a story with you.
http://authorrainedelight.com/

Q) What motivated you to create Love Romances Café, which also sponsors reader voted annual awards for outstanding books and authors?

A) Dawn: Hi David and thanks for having me here. Actually the LR Café was at first a book club where they would read and talk about a specific book once a month. Then the person who ran it decided she didn’t have the time for it and I stepped in. In the few years since then, I changed the name-LR Café-made it a chat place for readers and authors to enjoy and try to showcase the best authors each year and tried to make it a place where readers, authors and publishers can enjoy themselves in a relaxed format. It’s a lot of work at times but I am passionate about getting books out to readers, for them to chat with the authors and for authors to meet their reading public. Because face it, I get all fan-girl whenever I talk to an author I admire and love.

Q) How did the name Raine Delight come about?

A) Raine: Well actually, I was tossing ideas around after reading really awful book years ago and when I opened the door to my inner muse, I came about with an idea but needed a name that is separate from Dawn, as I try to keep bother personalities separate. An author friend, Skylar Sinclair, offered up Raine and I came up with Delight. From then on it has been history…

Q) Why paranormal, and do you have plans to write in other genres?

A) Raine: I love paranormal genre. The skies the limit and I can indulge my inner love of shapeshifters, mages and more there. Currently I am immersed in a sci-fi universe that I am creating for a new book and plan to dive back into the paranormal world with two more new trilogies in the future. I would love to do a historical but the research is daunting.

Q) Raine enjoys a harem of men lavishing luxury upon her. Dawn is a hard working homemaker trying to hold things together within a shrinking budget, and totally devoted to her family. How much of Raine is Dawn’s escape from routine, if any?

A) Raine/Dawn: Actually now that you mentioned it that might be true. *laughs* I actually created ‘Raine Delight’ to keep my reviewing separate from writing. I didn’t want to show favoritism to publishers I was with or have a conflict of interest so to speak. And I needed an outlet, I think, for the stories that long simmered in my head and finally had a chance to be out in the open.

Q) On Dawn’s blog “Dawn’s Reading Nook” Raine’s books aren’t marketed, nor even mentioned. Why do you normally strive to keep Dawn and Raine so separate?

A) Dawn: I try to keep things in perspective and try to not show I favor ‘Raine’s’ books over anyone elses’s. I have had my persona Raine on the LRC loop chatting with readers, etc but for me as Dawn, Raine gets enough publicity on her own in her own way that she doesn’t need my help in getting sales. Will that change? Maybe, maybe not. *shrugs* When I first started writing under Raine’s name, I wanted something different than my reviewing. Everyone knows I review, love to talk to authors and readers, etc but Raine is something a bit different. She is the one aspect of my personality that is wild and crazy. She can create some sexy, erotic scenes and not bat an eye and as Dawn I blush reading BDSM stories. LOL

Q) Any parting comments for readers not familiar with your work?

A) Raine: Thank you David for having both my personalities here. Does that make me sound like a mental case? *laughs* I love hearing from readers who love Happy Ever Afters that encompass people of many different colors and find that romance is universal, and hope they take a look at my blog or my website for my books.

Dawn: Thanks for having us here David. I love books and finally found something that I can pass on to others who love books just as much as I do. I hope readers pop in my blog and the LRC Loop for all the fun I have there.
DA Kentner is an author and journalist. www.kevad.net

Friday, March 2, 2012

Author and Wellness Expert Ellen Whitehurst

At the mere mention of Feng Shui, I instantly used to fear my wife would ask for my help in rearranging our furniture. That was before my friend, publicist Imal Wagner, sent me an interesting paperback titled “Make This Your Lucky Day: Fun and Easy Secrets and Shortcuts to Success, Romance, Health, and Harmony” by Ellen Whitehurst.

To be honest, I had no idea who Ms. Whitehurst was. Obviously, I need to get out more. Millions of readers follow her articles on DoctorOz.com, ‘The Huffington Post’ and John Edward’s InfiniteQuest.com among others. She’s also a former monthly columnist for both ‘Redbook’ and ‘Seventeen’ magazines. Recognized as the country’s premier expert in Feng Shui and other empowering modalities such as holistic medicine, aromatherapy, astrology and conscious cooking, she also pens a daily inspirational tip for iVillage.com currently reaching over a half million opted-in subscribers each day.

Still, I wasn’t sure what to expect in a book called “Make This Your Lucky Day.” Then I read this question in chapter one: “What would happen if there were no money in the world and we all had to barter with one another to exist?” At that moment, Ms. Whitehurst’s logic sledgehammer hit me on my thick noggin. This wasn’t a book insisting I twist my legs into shapes my arthritic knees would never allow, or hum chants while inhaling burning fruit slices. Through everyday prose, Ms. Whitehurst was simply encouraging me to discover my self worth – my inner talents and what I love to do.

Ms. Whitehurst opens doors we all have closed at some point in our lives when necessity and circumstances demanded it. But she also reminds us that we aren’t alone in the problems that can feel insurmountable. The topics in “Make This Your Lucky Day” include career, wealth, marriage and partnership, children, and creativity. Yes, there are holistic suggestions. Primarily, Ms. Whitehurst offers some simple deviations from our established routines that could in fact change our luck… if we’re willing to take the chance.
http://www.ellenwhitehurst.com/  www.facebook.com/EllenWhitehurst

Q) What event first drew your interest in Feng Shui as a lifestyle you wanted to share?

A) Many years ago I myself was struggling with some issues and agendas that each of us might stumble upon as we go about growing and living inside our own lives. My husband and I had been trying to conceive for some time and weren’t having any success, and, then, both of my parents – who had not yet reached the age of 60 – became concurrently and terminally ill. In my efforts at figuring out alternative modalities to support my efforts at having a baby and, more importantly, in my quest to find different ways to offer my beloved folks some quality of life while they transitioned, I met and started studying Feng Shui from a wonderful teacher. But it was when I, personally, experienced the profound and magnificent shifts that can occur from embracing this ages-old wisdom that I became a crusader on the path to sharing this life-altering philosophy with anyone wanting or wishing for more empowerment, fortune, happiness and, yes – even luck – in their lives.

Q) Many of the folks reading this aren’t familiar with your techniques. What is the primary reason a working mother of three who barely has time for three sips of coffee should read your book?

A) Anyone, even a crazy busy working mother (ahem!) can really get such huge benefits and blessings simply by realizing the role that the outer environment plays and contributes to what’s going on in the inner one. And in quick and easy to understand manner, that’s essentially what the book is about. If I can share with just one person how waking up (or even going to sleep) and looking at something or someone that/who makes you HAPPY will actually have a positive influence and impact, not only on the entire day but on their entire life, well, who wouldn’t want to take advantage of a concept so simple yet a result that is so spectacular? If the working mom knew that the first thing she saw every morning could have such a tremendous impact and then did something PROACTIVELY to make her own life a better place to be by putting the laundry away and positioning a picture of a beautiful field of flowers instead, then I’ve done my job, the book will have been worth the read, and she’ll enjoy those three sips more than before she read any one page.

Q) Same question, different person. What benefit would a teen soon off to college glean from “Make This Your Lucky Day”?

A) Well, without getting too specific, although, if anyone does, that sort of information is provided in the book as well. But, sprinkled all throughout the pages of “Make This Your Lucky Day” the reader can find dictates from this Feng Shui philosophy that are culled from lessons learned from the wisdom of the ages. Some of that wisdom holds that the colors blue and green are the primary colors that should be used in a sleeping space simply because they evoke an energy of peace and calm and even healing (think hospitals and green.) As well, the use of imagery as previously mentioned can also elicit and prompt a subtle psychological/subconscious response that could be considered supportive to whatever the intention is. So a boy heading off to college should bring a blue or green comforter for his bed to allow him to ‘chill’ when the day is done and he should be placing images around him that support his dreams of the future. Of course I get much more detailed in the book (always keep a desk lamp on the opposite side of the hand you write with lest it cast a shadow that can cause headaches, etc.) but in the bigger scheme, the idea of an outer environment supporting and shifting anyone’s inner one (even a rising college kid) also supports the notion that we indeed can create our own lucky opportunities!

Q) To turn your own question against you, if you hadn’t followed the path you’re on, what other career would you have chosen? In other words, what else captures your imagination and passion?

A) I was born to write. That much I know. It’s in my DNA. And my heart and soul as well. What I would eventually write about was always a question mark, but the fact that I would write was a given. That said, I spent the first 20 years of my ‘career’ life as a successful analyst, and, then, eventually a successful commodities trader working on Wall Street. During that time I did, however, also write a nightly newswire for all of E. F Hutton’s commodity traders detailing the fundamentals and technical swings and situations of that day, so, still writing. See? Can’t shake it.

Q) Your son Grayson means the world to you. How has Feng Shui changed his life?

A) I wouldn’t so much say that Feng Shui has changed my son’s life since he hasn’t really known any other way. He was born to a mom who had eagerly embraced the entire philosophy before he came along. But I will say that he is a well-adjusted, happy, polite and wonderful kid who is attending one of the country’s premier International Baccalaureate programs in the county and has a deep and overriding passion for filmmaking. His eyes are set on NYU Tisch Film School for college. I tell you this because he has, at various times, had images of Spielberg, Tarantino and even Hitchcock in his bedroom. His inner world is rich and diverse and he seems grateful (most of the time!) for what’s happening in his outer one. And I attribute a great deal of that peace of his to our implementing the powers of Feng Shui. I will share one more as well, I have a great social network of friends where I live, and, as you might imagine, not everyone is as, well, um, ‘passsionate’ about Feng Shui as I am. But when they experience our everyday ordinary life, whether they are believers or not, the first time something concerning happens with one of their kids, I am one of the first calls they make. For professional assessment. So, yeah, there’s that!

Q) Any parting comments for your readers?

A.) I am passionate and pure in my motivation to share with them my expertise. For no other reason that I KNOW, unequivocally and without a single reservation that even trying ONE thing from my book will make their world a healthier, happier, more loving, prosperous and better place to be. I KNOW this. And I know as well that I am incredibly honored, humbled and blessed to be even able to make that statement. Here’s what else I know too – if just a single one of us does a single little thing to improve our own lives, we then experience the ripple/butterfly effect of improving everyone else’s life too. Immeasurable the gratitude I feel when I think about my own lucky days. Now, I want everyone else to have theirs as well.

Thank you so very much David for this opportunity. I feel your great energy and your graciousness and I am very much blessed for both of those opportunities. I hope to meet you someday but, for now, will send all my love and blessings, Ellen W.
DA Kentner is an author and journalist. http://www.kevad.net/