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.

Introduce Yourself: Introducing Guest Author Jessica Bakkers

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 Jessica Bakkers. Welcome to The PBS Blog! Let’s get started.

What is your name and where are you from?

Jessica Bakkers but my friends call me Jess. I’m from Down Under else-wise known as Australia. Victoria specifically.

You like the cold huh?

No but I’m well insulated *double chins shake with laughter*

Loll. What is the most annoying habit you have?

Either road rage or grammar nit-picking. Or snoring my husband might say.

What job do you think you’d be really good at?

Er, writer *smiles*

Yea, I guess that was pretty obvious lol. Jess, what was your childhood dream?

Er, writer… *bigger smile*

Lolll. In your own words, what is love?

Love is feeling thirsty so going to the fridge and getting 2 cans of Pepsi because I know he’ll be thirsty too. Love is sending a text message to him that simply uses the poop emoji and he answers with, “bad day at work, spaghetti for tea”. Love is him letting me warm my ice-cold feet on his back when we get into bed at night.

Oohhh. Nice! What’s your favorite drink?

Pepsi Max for the win!

What songs have you completely memorized?

Most of the entire works of Alan Jackson, George Strait, Diamond Rio and Little Big Town. Everything Pink Floyd. Most Leonard Cohen and Nice Cave. The entire Rocky Horror Picture Show album and Carry on Wayward Son.

OK, OK. What’s your favorite food?

Savory: spaghetti. Sweet: everything.

I love spaghetti. Actually, I love pasta in general. *Weakness*. I think we’re going to be friends. Who is your favorite writer?

Whoa. Why not ask me which is my favorite child!

Lol. Answer the question Jess! Spit it out. Inquiring minds wanna know ; )

I’m very partial to the King that’s Stephen), and I adore Steven Brust – he as such great dark humor in his novels. Maybe it’s a Stephen think…

If you could live in a movie, which would it be and why?

I’d go Rocky Horror again because fishnets! And singing!

Who is your best friend?

My husband.

Awwue. How long have you been married?

16 years in November.

Happy early anniversary! Children?

Yes. By children I’m assuming we’re talking dogs, right? Two. Holly and Shilo.

No, Jess. We are not talking about dogs but I’ll let you slide. What takes up too much of your time?

My day job.

What is it that you do?

I am the writer formerly known as social worker. April 21st, I gave that away to focus on freelance writing because, as I mentioned, day job was taking up too much of my writing time. This is the one time I’ll be serious; nothing should come between a writer and her writing…except chocolate.

I heard that! And chocolate definitely gets a pass. Jess, what do you wish you knew more about?

What happens next, after death.

Interesting. What small things make your life easier? What makes it more difficult?

Easier: chocolate, texting, supernatural, fitted sheets, automatic windshield wipers.

More difficult: bad drivers, phone calls, my day job, headaches, rap music.

Rap music loll. The music today is out there. WAY out there. What are your thoughts on race?

Even if we (humanity) were all ‘skinned’ some skeletons would still ostracize others based on the shape of their bones or size of their skulls. Humans will always find a way to make difference a bone of contention (pun fully intended).

True. What’s your favorite TV show / movie?

SupernaturalSupernaturalSupernaturalSupernaturalSupernaturalSupernaturalSupernaturalSupernaturalSupernaturalSupernaturalSupernaturalSupernaturalSupernaturalSupernaturalSupernaturalSupernaturalSupernaturalSupernatural

*Slap*

That’s it. Snap out of it. Supernatural is pretty good though. Speaking of supernatural, religious?

I believe in science and evidence.

What’s the most difficult thing about being a writer? The most exciting thing?

Difficult: explaining to someone that I’m a writer and watching the skepticism and judgment come to their eyes.

Exciting: explaining to someone that I’m a writer and watching the wonder come to their eyes.

What do you love about yourself?

My eyes. Pretty and the only bit of me not fat.

Jessica Bakkers you stop it right now! Lol. I can guess what you don’t like about yourself then huh?

Yeah pretty much every other physical attribute.

What genre do you write in and why?

I write in all sorts but I LOVE gritty, dark fantasy fiction. I can write a really good antihero as my protagonist in this genre and as these guys (anti-heroes) are my very favorite characters to write, I get to play with them every book!

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Jess, it was a pleasure. Thank you for spending this time with us!


Bio

I am a creative and freelance writer, I have been writing for over 25 years. I am a published ghostwriter (nah sorry, can’t say which books!) and am preparing my own novel, Guns of Perdition, for publication soon.

My style is generally dark fantasy with a smattering of romance, and usually filled with brooding anti-heroes.

My major love affair is with the written word; specifically creative writing. I allow myself to indulge and rendezvous with this secret lover whenever time allows… and then we make beautiful poetry together!

Jessica is in the early stages of her first book, “Guns of Perdition”, a fantasy western.

You can follow Jess online at:

Social media handles

Twitter: @jessicabakkers

WordPress: jessicabakkers.com

Tumblr: heroicjdog

Linked In: http://linkedin.com/in/jessica-bakkers-b4aaa786

Wattpad: @jessicabakkers

Facebook page: The Written Word @jbakkersTheWrittenWord


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

(Psst. This is a scheduled post and I am not at home. Please forgive any delays in responding to commentary.)

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.

3

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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Inciting Moment: What It Is and Why You Should Care

What is an inciting moment? Andrea breaks it down.

A Writer's Path

by Andrea Lundgren

Recently, I was explaining the concept of an inciting moment to my five-year-old (he’s a bit young, but one might as well start early, right?), and it got me thinking about how critical the concept is.

Some writers may call it an inciting incident, and others have probably never heard of it, including the idea without any formal title or understanding of how it works, but the inciting moment is what happens to make the world of the story change. One of the many rocks dropped in the story-pond that set off a series of ripples. It’s the spark that jolts the story to life.

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Editing Mock-Ups in Photoshop (In 12 Steps)

I didn’t plan on sharing this but as I was editing some mock-ups I thought it would be nice to share what I am doing.

I am not a professional photographer, and I don’t always have a chance to take professional images. Therefore, I love using free mock-up templates to create professional images of my books. I am learning Photoshop also because if I can master it, I can also start to create my own book covers! (OK, that’s a far way off but a sista can dream).

But, while I am finagling (am I the only one who thinks finagle is a funny word?) around with this, I decided to put together a quick tutorial on what I am doing for those of you who use Photoshop. It’s super easy and if you have Photoshop, you should be able to get started right away.

Note: I’m not a professional “Photoshopper” and have instead found my own way of editing mock-ups because this way is easier for me but there are lots of other ways to do this.

Step One

Get Photoshop. You can get Photoshop CC for as low as $10/month. For me it’s worth the money because I use mock-ups often. However, there is a free trial you can use for seven days if my memory serves correctly. http://www.adobe.com/ (There are also plenty of free ways to create 3D images. I use Photoshop because the quality of the images is top notch.)

Step Two

Once you have Photoshop, find a free mock-up that you like. Be sure the license allows you to use it. Most of them do as long as you don’t try to sell the mock-up as your own. You can find some great ones at http://covervault.com/

Step Three

Download a mock-up you like. I’m going to use this one.

Step Four

Click on the zip file and double click on the Photoshop file to open it.

OK so you can pretty much change anything on here to make it your own. Eliminate the background, upload your own images, change colors, etc. But…

I’m just gonna show you how to change the book covers.

Step Five

Go to the side panel here. Let’s start with the front book cover. Click on the arrow next to Front Book, scroll down to front cover and double click on the space where the front book cover is…right where my arrow is.

It will bring up the mock cover here..

Step Six

File > Open > Find the cover (or image) you’d like to use on your computer and click on it….and

Screenshot (601)Screenshot (602)It will open in Photoshop. When it does, unlock it at the bottom. If you don’t unlock it, you cannot edit it.

Step Seven

Click on your cover and drag it to the mock layer.

Step Eight

This one has lots of special effects I don’t need. If ever you don’t want something in the image you can either delete the layer or hide it. Click on the eye next to the layers to hide them. I want to hide the mock-up text and other things…

If you did it correctly it should leave only your cover and look like this (below)…if you look at the layers next to where my marker is you will see that the eye is closed. This means I am hiding these layers so they don’t show.

Step Nine

As you can see, when you move your cover to the layer (see step seven) it will be too big. On your MAC click command T to highlight it to resize. On PC click ctrl T. Now just resize it to fit the space.

Step Ten

Save your resized cover. File > Save as (save it under a name you will recognize. You will need to remember where you saved it.)

Screenshot (621)Screenshot (627)

Step Eleven

Go back to the panel and right click in the space next to the front cover.

Step Twelve

If you did it correctly, it should bring up the box below…where you see replace contents, click on that.

When the box opens, find your saved image from Step Ten and replace the mock image with your own.

And that’s it!

For the back cover follow the exact same steps:

  • Click on the arrow next to back cover.
  • Double click on back cover
  • File > Open > Choose the image for your back cover
  • If it’s locked, unlock it
  • Click and drag your cover to the mock layer (you can’t move it if it’s locked)
  • Hide any layers you don’t need/want
  • Resize image > Command T (MAC) or Ctrl T (PC)
  • File > Save as to your PC
  • Back to the panel, right click in the space next to the back cover > Replace contents
  • Find saved image > place

The last thing you will do when you have both the front and back cover done is to File > Save as > PNG

You’re done.

Renaissance: The Nora White Story Book One. July 15, 2017. yecheilyahysrayl.com

5 Things I Learned About Marketing my First Book

Good info for new and experienced writers on marketing our books.

Nicholas C. Rossis

HomeWorking Club | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's booksThis is a guest post from Ben Taylor, a British freelance writer who spent several years living in Portugal and wrote a book about the experience. He now lives back in the UK, where he founded Home Working Club, a site dedicated to helping people explore freelance opportunities – in writing and various other fields.

5 Things I Learned About Marketing my First Book

Moving To Portugal | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books Read on Amazon

I never intended to write a book.

It came about by accident, after I started a blog about moving to Portugal from the UK. While I won’t pretend that I didn’t hope people would read and enjoy the blog, I never had particularly big plans for it. I figured that, if nothing else, it was a good way to keep a journal of the experience.

However, after I’d been going for a year or so, the site got rather popular. It…

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