Introduce Yourself: Introducing Guest Author Jo Ann Maxwell

Welcome to Introduce Yourself, a new and exciting blog segment of The PBS Blog dedicated to introducing to you new and established authors and their books.

Today I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Jo Ann Maxwell. Welcome to The PBS Blog! Let’s get started.

What would your perfect writing/reading room look like?

It would have lots of windows and be situated in a forest area.  Somewhere in the mountains would be perfect. And a beautiful lake or river outside as well.  It would stay at a perfect 68° no matter the weather. The walls would be a pale robin’s egg blue. I would have a sound system that would play my favorite Christian music. I would have a sturdy couch with an ottoman when I want to put up my feet. It would have a small refrigerator with bottled spring water, and fruits and nuts.  It would also have an attached bathroom.  There would definitely be no TV or phone!

No TV or phone, I hear ya. What skill would you like to master? 

I would like to learn how to fly a plane. Just a small plane. I don’t need to go fast. Just want to get up close to the clouds and look at the earth from that perspective. It would be a little like God looking down from heaven and seeing us.  Our perspective is so narrow and immediate focused. He sees the big picture.

In your own words, what is humility? 

Humility is choosing someone else over yourself. Humility is being willing to be wrong. Humility is making sure those around you are successful. Humility is the opposite of self-righteousness. Humility is not being submissive and allowing abuse to continue. Humility is grounded in love for yourself. When we love ourselves, we can love others! And as we love others, humility is a byproduct of that love. There is no competition, needing to be right, nor a desire to control others.

What would be the most amazing adventure to go on? 

I would like to travel around Italy and sample the wines and cheeses throughout the country.

Fearless, is available now at WestBow Press, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble.

That sounds lovely. Jo, tell us about when published your first book? What was it like?

My book was published in the fall of 2016. It is called Fearless. It chronicles my journey through grief and depression to rely on my faith to gain victory in spite of living with a chronic disease; multiple sclerosis.

Can you talk a little bit about what Multiple Sclerosis is for those who may not know?

After my diagnosis, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) was my first and continues to be my go-to source for information. According to NMSS, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) involves an immune-mediated process in which an abnormal response of the body’s immune system is directed against the central nervous system (CNS), which is made up of the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. The exact antigen—or target that the immune cells are sensitized to attack—remains unknown, which is why MS is considered by many experts to be “immune-mediated” rather than “autoimmune.”

  • Within the CNS, the immune system attacks myelin—the fatty substance that surrounds and insulates the nerve fibers—as well as the nerve fibers themselves.
  • The damaged myelin forms scar tissue (sclerosis), which gives the disease its name.
  • When any part of the myelin sheath or nerve fiber is damaged or destroyed, nerve impulses traveling to and from the brain and spinal cord are distorted or interrupted, producing a wide variety of symptoms.
  • The disease is thought to be triggered in a genetically susceptible individual by a combination of one or more environmental factors.
  • People with MS typically experience one of four disease courses, which can be mild, moderate or severe

What small things makes your life easier? What makes it difficult? 

I have been living with a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis for a little over four years. What makes it easier for me is to have several rest periods throughout the day.   I swim three days a week and do my physical and occupational therapy. This doesn’t necessarily make my life easier, but it doesn’t make it more difficult. I need to exercise and be strong in all the ways I can while I still can.  Stress and busyness make it difficult for me. Before I was diagnosed, I was a teacher for 17 years and then a nonprofit manager for 19 years.  So I’m used to a very high activity job that requires multitasking. Now looking at all the emails that come in to my two email accounts I get overwhelmed. I have to take a while to digest the information, regroup, and then tackle it.  I was used to be able to go to three or four stores in the morning and still have lots of energy left over. Now I  can only do two or three errands, especially if one is a drive-through. I think it is the fatigue that is the most annoying symptom that I have. The fatigue has caused me to radically change my lifestyle.

What is your favorite historical figure? 

That would have to be Jesus, hands down. He has influenced my life in ways that I can only repay him by walking as closely to his word as I can.  It is the amazing love of the father who sacrificed his son so we could have the Holy Spirit living inside of us.  Almost too amazing to even think about.

I take it you’re religious?

No I am not religious. Religion is a set of rules you have to live by. I have a relationship with Jesus my Savior. I love spending time with him, and he wants to spend time with me. Just like any relationship, it takes effort on my part to make it rich and meaningful. 

What is the most thought-provoking book you’ve ever read?

It has to be Magnificent Obsession by Anne Graham Lotz.  She goes through the life of Abraham and paints beautiful pictures of how we too can be sold out to God and his plans and guidance for our lives.

If you had one superpower that could change the world, what would it be?

It would be a research scientist with the power to find the cure for all of the currently incurable diseases in the world. That would include cancer, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, dementia, polio, Parkinson’s, Lupus, influenza, diabetes, asthma, and mental illness.  And I would also coordinate the research projects so that all scientists can work together rather than separate in their own little silos.

Thank you Jo for spending this time with us! Because of you we know more about Multiple Sclerosis!


Jo Ann Maxwell, used with permission.
Bio
I was suddenly diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at the age of 60. Many of the symptoms I had throughout my life suddenly became clear. My faith, independence, and fearlessness were threatened. In my book I talk about my struggles to find hope again.  I had a successful career as a teacher and a senior-level nonprofit executive. Since retiring I have been assisting my aging parents in North Carolina. I try to stay active as a volunteer at the Billy Graham training center in Asheville North Carolina, read, play mah-jongg,  do puzzles, and exercise as much as I can. Right now my walking is very limited, but I get in the pool and swim three days a week, and I can work on a recumbent cross trainer.  As a physical educator, I know the great advantages of exercise. It’s also important to stay as strong as I can and not let the MS get the better of me!  My book chronicles how my faith was stretched and strengthened and how I find victory in spite of living with a chronic disease. 

Are you a new (or not so new) author? Looking for more exposure? Learn more about my Introduce Yourself Feature HERE.

Intention

It is the soul of our reasons why and the breath of purpose. It drips from our thoughts and can be smelled through the pores in our actions. Intention is the unseen fabric of the heart; the thing that either manifests dreams or turns them into nightmares. What will be is dependent upon its reason for creation. Intention is foresight. It marches ahead of now and reveals the future of an action. Are we cold hearts or warm ones? Bloody hands or clean ones washed in genuine? Intention is genuine and does not lie. Invisible though it may be it floats alongside us still and like a shadow reveals what is real versus what is being portrayed. A helpmate and a companion, intention is rib. Intention is Eve. Intention is by the side of action, the soul of our reasons why and the breath of purpose. The question is not what you will do. The question is, what’s your intention for doing it?

I’m Still Here

Just so you know, I have not fallen off the face of the Earth. I miss you guys!!

And, I’ve still been reading your blogs, commenting, liking, and sharing on Twitter and all that good stuff. I just have not been blogging but I am in tune. I don’t think I’ve spent this much time away from the blog since I’ve started! What in the world is going on?

A lot actually. Some good and some not so good. I definitley have a lot on my mind but let’s talk about the good.

Let me get you up to speed:

Blog Posts – I have some articles written up and saved in my files so I have still been writing and will have plenty for you soon. We’ll also get back into the usual blog segments, Black History Fun Facts, Throwback Jams, etcetera.

No laptop – You are not going to believe it but I have been traveling and left my laptop in Memphis! Here’s how it happened: While leaving my in-laws, I saw the bag in the trunk of the car  and thought the laptop was in it instead of checking to make sure it was. Long story short, I won’t get it back until next week sometime so all those blog post ideas we just talked about are uhh….stuck in Memphis.

Introduce Yourself – This thing is growing! I think I may put a listing somewhere so you can see what dates are available. Would you like that? Authors? Right now I am booking for August. (Wait, no. There may be one more slot left for July) That’s just how much it’s grown! Because of this, despite my absence, you can look forward to being introduced to a new author and his/her work every Monday. Those are scheduled to go out so even if I am not around you’ll get those. (This feature also introduces established authors as well or authors who are not necessarily new.)

Travels – So, where did I go?? Out the country? Nope. I wish! I went to Chicago and Memphis but I’ll give you the short version.

Ethiopian Diamond

In Chicago, I sat in on a Lecture presentation at the Dusable Museum of African American History, visited some family and ate at the Ethiopian Diamond restaurant downtown for the first time. (Despite growing up in Chicago I’ve never eaten there.) For those of you who have never been or have never had Ethiopian food, the style is like a community where everyone at the table eats with their hands from a large platter of food (see image). While everyone can order their own food, it is all on the same platter and designed to be a sociable experience. I can honestly say there were no looking down at the phones. There were a few of us so we were at different tables and at my table we had three large platters. On the bottom is a flat, round stretchy pancake-like injera bread with the other dishes on top in a circle.

These dishes include a combination of several stews like key wat (beef stew), tibs (lamb, beef or goat cubes which is what I had), ground beef (those beef patties or whatever you call them were delicious), and several types of lentil and split pea and tomato stews. You basically tear off pieces of the bread and use it to scoop up food you want to eat. Don’t just stick your hands in like I did at first lol. All in all, I enjoyed the food, the tangy flavor of the injera, the stews, salads, and of course, the quality family time.

Coffee – Speaking of which, the restaurant let us take home a container of coffee beans! Hubby and I had fun roasting them ourselves the other day. It was easier than I thought. Just brown them in a cast iron skillet (don’t put anything in it) and once they brown to your liking (dark roast, etc) grind them up in a coffee grinder and bam, coffee.

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I thought it would be stronger since we made dark roast but it was flavorful nonetheless.

Introduce Yourself: Introducing Guest Author Stevie Turner

Welcome to Introduce Yourself, a new and exciting blog segment of The PBS Blog dedicated to introducing to you new and established authors and their books.

Today I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Stevie Turner. Welcome to The PBS Blog! Let’s get started.

Go ahead and Introduce yourself. Tell us your name and where you’re from.

I’m Stevie Turner, born and bred in London, but now live in the East Anglia region of England.

How many siblings do you have?

None, unfortunately.  I am an only child.

What songs have you completely memorized?

I’m very musical, and find it easy to memorize the lyrics to songs.  Therefore, there must be hundreds that I can sing from start to finish, but probably only if they were a hit before 1990!

Lol. What’s your favorite color?

Yellow.

Yellow is beautiful. What was your childhood dream?

To become a doctor, but as I’m virtually number illiterate, that was never going to happen.

A House Without Windows is Available Now on Amazon

As you know, we be in here jamming it out on Throwback Thursday so I have to ask, what kind of music do you like?

Rock, reggae and blues, probably in that order.  Also like some classical, but not opera or jazz.

Not Jazz!? What is wrong with you Stevie! Lol. Let’s get a little serious, what do you think of this world we live in?

Technology has advanced so much since I was a child in the 1960’s.  It has now given us people addicted to social media who are looking down at their phones all day. What with online bullying of schoolchildren these days who are afraid to play out in the street, global warming, and terrible ‘music’ that just sounds like people shouting, I’m glad I was born in the late 1950’s, that’s all I can say.

Man, you are so right. I love hearing stories from that time. It is also why I loved your memoir. Can you tell us about some of the major differences you see between let’s say 1960 and 2017 that you haven’t already mentioned?

There were no mobile phones and microwave ovens in 1960, and not all homes even had washing machines or a landline phone (I was 18 before my parents got a landline phone and a washing machine).  Our TV in 1960 had 3 channels, and the last program finished at 10pm, when the National Anthem played.  However, children like myself didn’t watch a lot of TV.  I played outside for hours in the streets with friends, roamed around my local area unsupervised, walked to school on my own, and stayed at home by myself from the age of 9 during school holidays while my parents worked, making my own decisions, right or wrong.  Children were free.  My granddaughters are guarded 24/7, and if the 11-year-old even goes across the road to call for a friend, her mother is constantly ringing her phone to make sure she is okay.  My granddaughter complains to me that she is given no freedom.  I feel so lucky that I was a child in the 1960’s!

Wow. I asked my in-laws this same question and my mom-in-law gave the same answer. She said that when she was little it was safer for her to go out and play. My dad-in-law said people treated each other better. I love hearing stories about the 50s and 60s. I will sit and ask you questions all day lol. What TV channel exists but really shouldn’t?

MTV.

In your own words, what is truth?

Truth is how we are meant to live, to live true to ourselves.  If we are living a lie it will make us unhappy.  Truth is being able to sleep with a clear conscience.  Truth is the way forward.

Repent at Leisure is Available Now on Amazon

“Truth is the way forward.” I like that. What do you hate most about writing advice?  What do you love?

I hate reading blogs about writing where the blogger has stated advice that is common sense and doesn’t really need to be stated, obviously because he / she cannot think of anything else to write about.  Stop it! However, I love it when I actually read some great advice and learn something from it.

But common sense is anything but common, right? What if what is common sense to you is confusing and unclear to someone else?

Yes, you have a good point Yecheilyah. What is common sense to me might not be to somebody else.  As with all the other answers, I have given my own opinion.  However, there are some blogs which I read and I think to myself…does this really need to be said?

True, true. You’re right. Speaking of blogging, does it help you to write?

No, it distracts me from writing. Time has to be taken ‘building up a platform’ and that includes publishing a blog every day to gain a wider audience. It has to be done, but I’d rather be writing a novel.

Interesting. What skill would you like to master?

To play the piano.  I could only master up to Grade 4.

I would LOVE to play the piano. What would your favorite writing / reading room look like?

A view out to open fields, air conditioning, and total silence.  Hey, it seems I already have that in my front room!

What takes up too much of your time?

Marketing and promoting my books.  A necessary evil I’m afraid.

I feel you. If you had unlimited funds to build a house that you would live in for the rest of your life, what would the finished house look like?

At least 6 bedrooms for the children and grandchildren to stay in when they like, three or four bathrooms, a swimming pool, a gym, and a huge room for parties.  My house would be in the arse end of nowhere in the countryside, all on its own.  I’d have my own writing room as well!

What’s your favorite drink?

Water, closely followed by green tea.

Yea, I have to admit, green tea is the bomb.

Stevie, we learned a lot! Thank you for spending time with us!


Stevie Turner retired early from her post as a medical secretary in a busy NHS hospital to concentrate on writing suspense, women’s fiction, and humorous novels. She won a New Apple Book Award in 2014 and a Readers’ Favorite Gold Award in 2015 for her book ‘A House Without Windows’, and one of her short stories, ‘Checking Out’, was published in the Creative Writing Institute’s 2016 anthology ‘Explain!’ Her psychological thriller ‘Repent at Leisure’ won third prize in the 2016 Drunken Druid Book Award contest, and her thriller screenplay ‘For the Sake of a Child’ won a silver award in the Spring 2017 Depth of Field International Film Festival, and it will now be read, along with the other winners, by a major independent film production company in Los Angeles.

Stevie lives in the East of England with her husband Sam, and she signed a contract with Creativia Publishers in 2016. She has also branched out into the world of audio books. ‘The Daughter-in-law Syndrome’, ‘A House Without Windows’, ‘No Sex Please, I’m Menopausal!’, ‘The Noise Effect’, Lily: A Short Story, ‘A Rather Unusual Romance’, and ‘Waiting in the Wings’ are all available as audio books. Some of her books have also been translated into German, Spanish and Italian.

Stevie can be contacted at the following email address: stevie@stevie-turner-author.co.uk

Website http://www.stevie-turner-author.co.uk

Amazon page http://bookShow.me/B00AV7YOTU

Blog    https://steviet3.wordpress.com/


Are you a new (or established) author? Looking for more exposure? Learn more about my Introduce Yourself Feature HERE.

My Poems on Soundcloud

I am back on Soundcloud and am in the process of uploading audio poetry of the poems I’ve published to this blog. Follow me HERE and listen to the poems that you’ve already liked and loved. This is also my opportunity to introduce my voice to those of you who have never heard me speak.

Yes, I am shy and those of you who meet me in person will see for yourself. However, I was inspired to do this for two reasons:

a. I went through the recorder on my phone and noticed I had recorded poems that were just sitting there.

b. Because I have poems just sitting there I figured they aren’t doing any good. The least I can do is upload them and try reaching as many people as I can. Even if it’s just one person I hope that these pieces are a blessing to your life.

I have uploaded several but more are on the way. Like I said, I am uploading audio versions of all the poems I’ve published to this blog so it will take some time to get through them all. Consider this a virtual Open Mic Night  ; )

LISTEN HERE

Peace

– EC

Self-Publishing – Is it worth it?

Authors! Don would like your feedback! Check out this post.

“This post calls out to those of you that are authors. I’m trying to open a dialogue and share my experiences in an effort to see if we have a commonality in our goals and how we get there.”

Don Massenzio's Blog

authorThis post calls out to those of you that are authors. I’m trying to open a dialogue and share my experiences in an effort to see if we have a commonality in our goals and how we get there. I am always torn on  this blog to identify as an author who is selling books. That’s why I started it, but it has evolved into something much more.

horn

I am someone that is extremely reluctant to blow my own horn. Building myself up is not one of my strong points. In fact, people who know me will tell you that I am the first to put myself down in order to diffuse others’ attempts to do so.

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This past April marks three years since I jumped feet first into the self-publishing arena. Has it been all rainbows and unicorns? Not exactly. Have there been times when I’ve given up hope…

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