Tuesday, February 28, 2023

10 Things You Might Not Know About Altered by Rob Kaufman



When Frank Devlin walks into Justin Wright’s office, the renowned New York City clinical psychiatrist decides to take on one of the most challenging cases of his career. After their first session, it’s obvious Frank has multiple personalities (“alters”) and each one couldn’t be more different than the other. Justin must get to know each individual alter to discover the best route to take so that Frank can live a full and happy life. He must also delve into Frank’s past, one filled with mystery, darkness, and trauma — the true causes behind his personality split.

As Justin deals with Frank’s issues, he’s also confronted with his own demons: the kidnapping of Michael, his youngest son, seven years earlier… a wife he adores, Mandy, who refuses to accept her son is gone… a constant struggle with his oldest son, Dylan, who was watching over Michael the day the boy was taken. And his problems get worse as, unbeknownst to Justin, Frank and his alters are secretly weaving themselves into his life in ways that will affect the Wright family forever.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3BlpCjs  

Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdLxyAEoQY4



1. “Alters” is short for "Alternate Personalities”

2. Justin’s son, Dylan is named after the son of one of Rob’s best friends

3. Mandy Wright, Justin’s wife, works in the same building Rob worked in twenty years ago

4. Justin’s son, Michael, is loosely based on one of Rob’s closest childhood friends

5. A person living with DID - Dissociative Identity Disorder - can have as many as 100 alters

6. Names of alters often have a symbolic meaning. In Altered, Frank (the host personality) means “free” 

7. Frank’s last name (Devlin) is a play on the word “devil"

8. Justin Wright’s Type A personality is based on the author’s personality, with a little OCD peppered in

9. The title Altered has two meanings: A person who lives with a number of personalities and lives that have been changed (altered) due to horrific experiences. 

10. The book cover was created by a designer in the UK


Rob Kaufman novels are known for having characters with whom people can relate, while at the same time, bringing them on a journey from which most people would crumble. His degree in Psychology was the first step toward getting beneath the surface of the people in his life. What followed was a lifelong search for what makes people tick – what forces them to become evil when deep down they are yearning for love. Rob’s characters walk this search with him, deep into the human psyche, creating psychological thrillers from everyday events. Rob’s books are perfect for those who enjoy thrillers but also need strong emotion to keep them deeply involved with the characters. “All my books hit home for me,” says Rob. “There are always parts that make me laugh out loud as I write them... and many, too many, that make me cry. And the great thing is, I’m finding that many readers of my books experience the same emotions.” Rob's books receive both national and international praise with most reviews noting that his storylines are extremely "unique" and "sobering" and the twists and turns are "masterful".

Website or Blog:  www.authorrobkaufman.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/AuthorKaufman

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorRobKaufman

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/745558.Rob_Kaufman

Saturday, February 25, 2023

A Look at How Women Were Treated in the South Pre-feminism by author Norma Watkins


Lillian Creekmore grows up at her family's popular rural spa. She successfully runs an entire hotel, yet longs for a husband. Then she meets Will Hughes. Velma Vernon accepts life on a small, struggling farm until a boy she barely tolerates proposes marriage. To accept means duplicating her parents' hard life. Alone, she leaves for the city and triumphs, not as a wife, but by being the best at her job. Velma is content until the most beautiful man she has ever seen walks into her office. This moving and darkly humorous novel follows the intertwined lives of women willing to surrender everything to a man. Purchase a copy of In Common by visiting Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Bookshop.org. Make sure you also add In Common to your Goodreads reading list.


A Look at How Women Were Treated in the South Pre-feminism

 My novel In Common, contains two characters, Lillian and Velma, who make choices that seem insane in our post-feminist time. We forget how little agency women had back then. In the 1940s, ‘50s and early ‘60s, women in the South had no power, little money, and few jobs of their own. The goal of any well-brought up white female in those days was to become a southern lady. A southern lady was not required to wear a burka, but she never left the house unarmored. A shopping trip to downtown Jackson, Mississippi, in the middle of summer, with no air-conditioning and the temperature hovering near ninety degrees, began with a bath, followed by a coating of talcum powder (in the hopeless attempt to prevent clothes from sticking to the skin). Then came the panty girdle and brassiere (worn to prevent the unseemly movement of body parts), nylon stockings, a full-length slip, and finally a nice dress. To this, she added a matching purse, hat, shoes and gloves. Thus encased, she was ready to be seen on Capitol Street, Jackson’s downtown shopping center (where she never chewed gum, or smoked, or ate anything in public).

The goal of all this trouble was to be a lady, that prized creature, treasured by men, and kept carefully on her pedestal, away from the hustle of politics or commerce. Having no money of her own, she was to wisely manage the allowance provided by her husband, run the household, have a nice dinner ready for him at night, and give birth to at least one son. She would share her husband’s politics and not bother him with complaints. Women, nice middle-class women like my mother, were not supposed to work. Working outside the home meant your husband could not support you (or perhaps control you), an insult to his dominance. A woman at one of my readings said that when she was in school in the ‘60s, she was required to take a six-week course in Communism (this was in Texas), where the most horrible part of Russian life, they were told, was the women worked.

In my family, we had plenty of formidable women. My aunt, Miss Hosford, ran a sixty-six-room hotel. One of my father’s sisters was an English professor at the local college, but only, she told me, because the public high schools did not allow married women to teach. Another sister was a lawyer and a partner in the family law firm. Aunt Leigh met my Uncle Doug in the ‘30s when she came to Mississippi buying and selling oil leases for her boss in Texas. She taught Uncle Doug the business, after which he tried to make her quit, embarrassed to have a wife cleverer at the trade than him. She pretended to stop and kept a lovely house, but she kept her own oil properties and her own bank account. She operated with sweet guile: buttering her husband’s toast and serving him breakfast in bed while she spent her money as she pleased. “Buy yourself a nice dress at Frances Pepper,” she’d whisper, “but don’t tell your Uncle Doug.”

These powerful women were treated as aberrations. My mother was not to work after she married, though she too knew how to run a hotel, could organize dinner parties for a dozen or a hundred, and copy any dress she saw in a magazine. When she tried to set up as a boutique couturier, my father made fun of her efforts. When the small business failed, he nodded, satisfied. Women should stay home where they belonged. Hard to rebel when you were legally the property of your husband. Unless a woman remained single—the dreaded old maid, a spinster—she could not have a charge account in her own name. She could not borrow money, buy property, or serve on a jury. The moment she married she lost her name. If her picture appeared in the newspaper, she was Mrs. Fred Craig or Mrs. Tom Watkins. Women were chattel, treasured chattel they were told, but entirely the possession of their husbands.

My father’s secretary Mildred went to work for his law firm right out of high school and saw more of him than my mother. Mildred accompanied him to court, took down every word said by both sides, and typed the notes at night. The next morning, back in court, my father began with the advantage of having read the previous day’s transcript. When I suggested to him that he might want to create a career ladder for talented women like Mildred, so she could move on to being a para-legal, or maybe a lawyer, he laughed. He said a career ladder was how you lost a good secretary. A year after Mother died, Daddy married Mildred and made her quit her job. She went from superb secretary to housewife, a role for which she had no preparation and little skill. Every day, she and Annie the cook sat in the kitchen watching soap operas and deciding what to have for supper. These rules were only for white women. Black women worked. If we’d had the sense to notice, we might have seen that those women cleaning our bathrooms and cooking our food were models for the strong, independent women we hadn’t yet dreamed of becoming.

I was trained to be a southern lady, but I was a willful child and became a willful adult. I rebelled against the rules and my place in the pre-feminist, Jim Crow South. After Brown v. Board of Education declared segregated schools unlawful, I argued for equality at the dinner table for years. My father won those arguments, and I usually left the table in tears. In my books, I am still arguing.




About the Author: Raised in the South during the civil rights struggles, Norma Watkins is the author of In Common and two memoirs: The Last Resort, Taking the Mississippi Cure (2011), which won a gold medal for best nonfiction published in the South by an independent press; and That Woman from Mississippi (2017). She lives in northern California with her woodworker husband and three cats. You can find her online by visiting her website or reading her blog.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Using Illustrations in Children’s Illustrated Books by author Marissa Bañez


Hope and Fortune is a modern-day fairytale, featuring multicultural, multiracial (e.g., Filipina, African-American, Latina, Asian, Muslim, etc.), multigenerational, and multigender (including a boy) fairies of different shapes and sizes who help a sad little child who has lost her way to find her path.  Each fairy represents an ideal - Hope, Innocence and Wonder, Truth and Virtue, Generosity and Kindness, Strength and Courage, Respect and Dignity, Confidence, Imagination, Happiness, Beauty, Wisdom and Intelligence, and Love and Friendship. Although the protagonist is a little girl, the life advice given by the fairies is non-gender-specific and could resonate with anyone facing a difficult situation at any point in her/his/their life. Purchase a copy of Hope and Fortune on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Bookshop.org. You can also add this to your GoodReads reading list.


Using Illustrations in Children’s Illustrated Books to Add Depth and Meaning to the Story’s Text

“A picture is worth a thousand words.” In contrast, illustrated children’s manuscripts are usually limited to only 1000-1500 words in total. Authors would be well-advised to carefully curate each illustration not only to complement but, more importantly, to supplement the book’s text to give their stories greater depth and meaning. Unlike publishers who don’t allow the submission of illustrations with manuscripts because they want to use their own illustrators, my publisher gave me a list of illustrators and told me to just submit the completed work for final approval. That was ideal for me because I had a clear view of what I wanted the illustrations to portray. I chose an illustrator willing to give me full creative control.

I wrote Hope and Fortune to be a multi-layered story. At face value, it’s a modern-day fairy tale in which a child finds herself in a scary situation. Twelve fairies give her life advice and then show her the way to safety and security. Beyond that, I wanted to introduce the reader to the concept of diversity. First, I sketched the characters to be multiracial, multicultural, multigender and multigenerational of different sizes and shapes. Then, I learned that numbers, colors, and animals symbolize certain ideals and principles that dovetail nicely into what I wanted to say in the book. For example, in spiritual traditions of certain cultures, people use animals to represent kindred spirits to guide or protect them through their life journeys. The various spirit animals I sketched personify the views and ideals of their respective fairies. The illustrator made the computer-generated illustrations according to my exact specifications.

The Fortune Fairy of Strength and Courage is an example.

Female Asian warriors are the epitome of strength and courage. Red is traditionally associated with the idea of courage. As a symbol of protection and agility, the black cougar (her spirit animal) represents a fierce protector, just like the fairy. Am I asking too much for my readers to read beyond the lines? For those who choose not to do so, I hope they’ll still enjoy the story and lovely illustrations. For others, I want to present a challenge for them to see more and become curious about what I included in the illustrations and why. I want Hope and Fortune to grow with the child and, with each reading, for the child to see and appreciate new things. There’s so much that illustrations can convey. Barring a publisher’s limitations, authors should expand the breadth of their storytelling by judiciously curating each illustration to create a more meaningful experience for readers.


About the Author: A first-generation immigrant to the U.S. from the Philippines, Marissa Bañez is a graduate of Princeton University and a lawyer licensed to practice in New York, California, and New Jersey. She has published legal articles for the prestigious New York Law Journal and the American Bar Association, but her true passion is in her children's stories. She currently lives in New York City with her husband and daughter, whose childhood was filled with many original stories and puppet shows made up entirely by her mom. In her free time, Marissa likes to travel, design and make clothes, cook, binge-watch Star Trek shows and Korean dramas, and occasionally strum the guitar. She is currently working on her second book, Hues and Harmony (How the Singing Rainbow Butterfly Got Her Colors), a story about mixed or multiracial children, self-discovery, and respect for others as told through the life and adventures of a caterpillar. It is scheduled for publication on July 20, 2023.You can find her online:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marissa.banez.7/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/marissa-banez/ 

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Where To Start Book Marketing? by author Claudine Wolk

It Gets Easier!...And Other Lies We Tell New Mothers 

Every new mom learns pretty quickly how difficult new motherhood is but also that nobody tells the truth about it. Author and narrator Claudine Wolk learned the same lesson after her son was born but decided to speak the truth about motherhood with humorous insight and reality-based suggestions. A few crucial tips can make motherhood a bit more controllable and a lot more enjoyable.

Purchase a copy of the audiobook on Libro.fm, Audible or Audiobooks.com. You can also add the book to your reading list on GoodReads.com.


Where To Start Book Marketing?

Book marketing can be scary for some authors. It represents the step of making their imagined book a reality. But it doesn’t have to be scary, especially if the author has a good starting point. The first step in book marketing, ironically, has nothing to do with book marketing.

The first step in effective book marketing is to identify your publishing goals.

How do you want to publish your book? Do you want to see it in every Barnes & Noble Store and on every online retail outlet? Do you want to simply create an eBook and pop it on Amazon? Are you an expert who wants to hand out a paperback to participants in your workshops and classes? Do you want a keepsake to hand out to family and friends? Take a minute to think about the answers to these questions. Once you know the way you want to publish you can start to think about the book marketing tasks that will best support that type of publishing. For most authors who would like to see their book in every brick-and-mortar store as well with online retailers, they will have to decide between traditional publishing and self-publishing. In a nutshell here are your publishing choices:

Traditional publishing: the publishing company (i.e., Harper Collins, Sourcebooks) handles everything to create your book. They then distribute it and sell it. The publisher owns the book. The author provides the manuscript, edits and supports the book marketing.

Self-publishing: You create your book, distribute it and sell it. You own your book. You could create a formal publishing company yourself (as a business) and THEN publish your own book in a traditional manner. I created a publishing company, for example, and called it New Buck Press. New Buck Press purchased ISBNs, hired an editor and a book designer, secured a distributing contract, and printed and fulfilled orders for my first book, It Gets Easier and Other Lies We Tell New Mothers in 2008. Today, (lol, just 15 years later) it is not necessary to create your own publishing company entity to self-publish but it is a business just the same – especially if you are serious about marketing and selling your book.

Book Marketing Step Two (Bonus)

Once you decide your publishing method you can move forward with your book marketing plan. Most first-time authors would like to try to secure a publishing contract even if they eventually self-publish. So, the next step in book marketing your book (you get a bonus here with step two!) is to create a pitch, query, and book proposal. Even if you decide to self-publish, I promise you, the time taken to create a pitch, query, and book proposal will be time well- spent. You will use the content from these items in every book marketing step you take.

To Sell Your Book You Need a Tool Box: Pitch, Query, and Book Proposal

The best way I have come up with so far is to explain the process of creating a pitch, query, and book proposal is through the use of analogy: a tool box. Every profession has a toolbox – items that are needed to complete a job properly. As an accountant, my toolbox included a computer, a ten-key (a calculator), an audit box, a GAAP manual, pencils, erasers, working papers, and working paper binders. A painter has his paint rollers, turpentine, paint, primer, thinner, scraper, etc. You get the idea.

A book marketer’s tool box includes the items that she will use to pitch her book to media/agents/publishers for interview, mention, or review. If you, as a book marketer, take the time to create the right tools with care, thoughtfulness and creativity, your marketing efforts will yield the best results for increased sales of your book.

The tools that you need in your book marketing toolbox:

Tool #1: Query | Pitch: A query is most commonly sent to an agent or publisher. It is a one-page pitch that describes your book, why it is needed, who it serves, and why you are the person to write it. You will use the ideas and persuasions that you include in your query again and again in your other tools so take the time to write, re-write, review, and edit your query. Writing a query is a great place to start to create the book marketing tools for your tool box.

Pitch: Elevator Pitch. A one-line description of your book that you could share in the time an elevator ride takes.

Tool #2: Book Proposal: A book proposal is a standard “book industry” document that covers a few of the aspects that you already included in your query plus a few more. It digs deeper than a query. It is a bit like a book report, forgive the pun. One of my favorite books to teach book proposal writing is Write the Perfect Book Proposal, by Jeff Herman and Deborah Levine Herman. It is a great book to help you with your book proposal. It includes standard book proposal components and their description plus actual book proposals that sold and why they sold.

Continuing with the book report analogy, a book proposal includes its own table of contents describing what will be in the proposal that follows. You generally start with an “overview” of the book (you will use what you included in the query) and add your description of the book and why you are the one to write it.

There is an “author” section that is all about you. Again, dip into your query a bit. You want to include why you are the perfect person to write this book plus other biographical information that hopefully demonstrates how your background will help sell your book. Are you a professional doctor, lawyer, psychologist or specialist who adds credentials to this book, for example? Perhaps you are writing a book about trees and you are a botanist? You get the idea.

With these first two steps completed you will be in great shape to market your book.


About the Author

 Claudine Wolk is a writer, radio talk show host, podcast host, and book marketing consultant. Her first book, It Gets Easier and Other Lies We Tell New Mothers has affectionately become “the perfect baby shower gift.” Claudine is working on her second non-fiction book aimed at helping writers who want to publish and market a book in the same fun, practical way as her first book. Claudine lives with her husband, Joe, in Bucks County, PA and has three grown children and a baby grandson. More at www.ClaudineWolk.com Other places you can find the author online:


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/claudinewolk/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/claudinewolk/

Twitter Link: https://twitter.com/help4newmoms

Stories and Strategies for Woman Podcast: https://storiesandstrategiesforwomen.buzzsprout.com

Monday, February 20, 2023

Saying Affirmations Daily Works by author Marla J. Albertie



Can you imagine all the things you like, love, and adore in one book? Let’s be honest. We tend to forget how amazing we really are. It is easy to see it in others, but when it comes to seeing ourselves, we tend to have bad vision. This is why I wrote this book! All your favorites are captured at one time with space to write more. How often do we brag about ourselves, take time to think about what makes us happy, or do the things we like? If I had to guess, not as often as you would like. You deserve to brag about yourself, so why not? Not only is this a bragging book, but it is a book of ideas you can use to start your next project, business, career move, or anything your heart desires.

In this book, you will learn:

     How to vision board your next big career move

     How to inspire yourself by seeing you

     That you are worthy

This book is for everyone who wants to see themselves as the person they are. You deserve to be your own cheerleader. Grab this book today and start bragging about yourself!


Saying Affirmations Daily Works

20 Daily Affirmations of My Own

I am a firm believer in affirmations. I say them daily.  Some people have different opinions about affirmations. I have heard people say,” You can’t just say something, and it happens.” Well, of course affirmations are not meant to be magic. You first have to believe what you want is already yours. As the Law of Attraction states “you have to be on the right vibration” to receive and saying affirmations helps you to get there. Everything is determined by your beliefs. If you want to understand more about this read As A Man Thinketh by James Allen and Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. If you don’t believe what you’re saying or believe you can have what you’re saying, then affirmations will be a waste of time for you. It takes belief for affirmations to work. It takes belief in something you do not see in the physical, but you know it is yours, after all your brain does not know the difference. For example, if y0u want a certain type of car, start to say, “I am grateful and happy to have my new sports car.” Your brain does not know if you are driving a pinto or a sports car, it know what you believe and how you feel about it. If you feel good about it, watch how you will start to see sports cars everywhere. Affirmations are a major a part of the Law of Attraction. When you say affirmations, you are paying attention more and now your actions will align with what you say. Here are 20 affirmations I say daily:

1.       I am successful in all I do.
2. I define my own success.
3. I am healthy and loved.
4. I have peace.
5. I am attracting joy in my life.
6. I have great friends.
7. I can do anything.
8. My life is abundant in all ways.
9. I get what I want.
10. I am a seven-figure writer, coach, consultant, speaker, and teacher. 
11. I am fully equipped and have everything I need to succeed.
12. I lack nothing.
13. I pay it forward daily.
14. I am debt-free.
15. I make wise financial choices.
16. My investments perform well.
17. I am a money magnet.
18. I am a best-selling author.
19. I love cruising five times a year.
20. I love flying first class.

Again, these are just some of mine. Take some time and write affirmations for yourself and repeat them for 30 days. If you don’t see any change—intentional change that is—you can stop.


About the Author: Marla J. Albertie has lived on board a United States carrier therefore, she feels she is unstoppable. As a native of Jacksonville, Florida she loves to read, travel, and shop. Many of her travels have been on cruises as she has taken 16 thus far. Marla believes life is a journey and we all can create the life we want so why not; you only live this life once. She has a passion to see growth in peoples’ lives and wants others to pay it forward. As an energetic visionary, she is the owner and founder of the TruthSpeaksGroup LLC, a multi-media company that creates strategies and solutions for work-life integration/harmony (WLI/H). She is also the founder of MJA Notary Services LLC., MJA Publishing LLC., and JEMA Holdings LLC. and Being the founder of I/O for Teens Inc. is her greatest work yet!

 Marla doesn’t believe in work-life balance as she believes all areas of our lives can be integrated and we can create harmony in our lives by means of I/O Psychology and Positive Psychology methodologies. However, harmony cannot happen if we are not in tune with who we are, therefore The Ultimate Brag Book was born. Marla’s mantra is to #TeachTrainEducate working woman who desire to understand their truth and live a life of success defined on their own terms. Marla's one word philosophy is #Learn. 

Friday, February 10, 2023

TV Series Review: Crossfire

Crossfire is a British drama series in which Jo Cross, a security consultant and former police officer, takes her family with a group of friends on holiday in the Canary Islands. Her marriage is falling apart but all her domestic issues fade into oblivion when the hotel, located in a relatively out of the way place, is attacked by two gunmen who manage to wangle their way into the heavily secure resort. The story unfolds as the guests are plunged into a nightmare of death with bullets flying and the innocent being picked off seemingly at random by the shooters. Can Jo pick up the threads of her former police training and assist the overwhelmed security officer with help on the way but evidently (by the rising body count) not soon enough?

Keeley Hawes is one of those bankable and very watchable British actresses that you follow, no matter what they are in. She is the pivot around which all the action centres. Her character is also the central focus, to a large extent, of the group’s friendships. Sadly, she is not as good a friend to one of the parties as she could be, with a flirtation gone a bit too far being the catalyst for the holiday itself. Other familiar faces include solid performances by Lee Ingleby, Daniel Ryan, and Josette Simon.

The series got mixed reviews and you’ll see why if you watch it. Although the action starts off with a bang and the shooting begins almost immediately, much of the pace is hampered by flashbacks of relationships etc that end up being a bit out of place and the thought of ‘who really cares about these when people are dying in the present’ comes to mind. What I appreciated most was the ‘reality’ aspect. The drama unfolds without the added oomph of big screen movies where the hero swoops in and the action is carefully curated so there is never a dull moment. The terror, the panic, the confusion, the horror, and unreality come across well because this could have happened in real life. The director chose to make it real, and the events are not exaggerated. People do stupid things and make the wrong decisions, and they die.

Jo falls at many hurdles and finds her police training has deserted her. It’s easy to sit in one’s chair screaming at the screen and wondering why the character doesn’t make this or that more sensible choice. But that is real life, and I think it made the whole story all the more terrifying, especially when the culprits and their reasoning for the attack are revealed. There are some heart-stopping moments, and I wondered what I would have done in those circumstances. Alas, this relatively good series stumbled in the last episode with a shmaltzy, socially woke, and extremely unlikely wrapping up of people’s lives. The director and producers would have done better to end with the finale on the island. But that’s just me. Should you watch it? Most definitely. Consider what you would do if two gunmen started shooting people around the pool at your holiday resort and you have no idea where your children are...

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

10 Things You Might Not Know About Catherine Devore Johnson, author of The Panacea Project


Calla Hammond has always been a loner—a product of the foster system and avoided by others because of a skin condition. When doctors discover that her immune system holds the key to curing cancer, she struggles to advance lifesaving research in a world that sees her only as a means to an end. Yet along the way, Calla gains the one thing she has always longed for: a chosen family. But when a group of unscrupulous people joins forces to sell Calla's blood to the highest bidder, she has to dig deep to find the strength to retake control of her life, her body, and her story.

“There’s nothing better than reading a novel that deftly weaves the most pressing issues of the day—the war for control over women's bodies, bigotry, stigma, patriarchy, capitalism—into an engaging and thoroughly human page-turner. Catherine Devore Johnson has managed to do exactly that in her beautiful debut.”

Emily Wolf, author of My Thirty-First Year (And Other Calamities)

“Calla’s story captivated me until the end. This fast-paced novel brought up so many emotions and made me think about the ways that humankind sucks the marrow out of things that sustain us until those things are gone. This story will stay with me for a long time.” —Tabitha Forney, author of Paper Airplanes

“A beautiful combination of engaging fiction and bitter reality. . . Touching upon complicated emotions, The Panacea Project leaves an unforgettable mark upon its readers.” —Readers’ Favorite

“In an era where medicine and vaccines are hotly debated, this well-written and thoughtful story will inspire both hope and terror about what the futures holds.”

 —Editor’s Pick, Publishers Weekly BookLife

“The Panacea Project is both inventive and thoughtful and captures the way in which the scientific search for truth and humanitarian relief can take on an inhumane form.” Kirkus Indie Review 

 10 Things You Might Not Know About Catherine Devore Johnson

  1. I was born in Chicago, Illinois, moved to Springfield, Missouri for a couple of years, and was subsequently raised just outside of Houston, Texas in a sprawling, master-planned community called The Woodlands.
  2. I ran track at Yale University—the 200-meter dash, the 400-meter dash, and the 4x400 meter relay. It was a great experience, but all of that pounding exacted a toll on my feet and hips, so these days I stick to long walks.
  3. I drink way too much coffee.
  4. I used to drink way too much Diet Coke, but have since replaced it with Topo Chico, which I believe to be the best of the sparkling waters. However, during the pandemic-related Topo Chico shortage, I discovered that Jarritos’ Mineragua is a totally acceptable substitute.
  5. I volunteer with a phenomenal organization called Casa de Esperanza, which provides foster care services to children in need in Houston.
  6. I love exploring Houston’s restaurants. My hometown is one of the most diverse cities in the United States and has an incredible culinary scene.
  7. I used to fly (very small) airplanes. After my husband was diagnosed with cancer ten years ago (he recovered!), we decided it was high time to actually do some of the crazy things we had always dreamed about doing. So, I started taking flying lessons at a municipal airport in Sugar Land, Texas. (I should mention that, at the time, I was absolutely terrified of flying, so this also functioned as a form of exposure therapy.) I got far enough in the training to do my solo cross-country flight (just me, a Cessna Skyhawk, and a flight plan that covered a total distance of 150 nautical miles with full-stop landings at 3 different airports). It was hands down the scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life. And, once it was over, one of my proudest moments. I never did get my private pilot license (circumstances and some pesky cardiac issues conspired against me), but the training did help me conquer my fear of flying.
  8. I was an extra in the farmer’s market scene in the movie “The Lost Husband.” A friend was the director and invited a group of people to come out to Austin for a day of filming. If you can spot me, I do a very convincing job of buying a cup of coffee (see #3 for my qualifications). And I can confirm (from afar) that Josh Duhamel is, in fact, as handsome and charming in person as you might imagine him to be.
  9. Before my life as a mom and a writer, I was an attorney. I worked in corporate bankruptcy and then as a MUD lawyer (the fancier term would be “municipal finance attorney” but my firm primarily represented special entities called municipal utility districts, or MUDs, and MUD lawyer is way more fun to say, right?).
  10. I am a card-carrying member of the “sandwich generation.” Five years ago, my mother had two strokes in one week. After several months of intense rehabilitation, she recovered enough to live independently, but she no longer drives and relies on me for a lot of assistance. I’m also a parent of two teenagers and work part-time, so I’ve had to learn how to balance being a caregiver, a parent, a spouse, and an individual with my own ambitions.



About the Author: Catherine Devore Johnson is a former attorney turned writer. Her work has won or placed in competitions held by the Houston Writer’s Guild and the Writer’s League of Texas, and she has published an essay in The Houston Chronicle about caring for her mother after two strokes. She works as a writer and editor at a children's hospital and lives in Houston with her husband and two children. The Panacea Project is her first novel.

 Website:  https://www.cdjohnsonauthor.com/

Twitter:   https://twitter.com/cdjohnsonauthor

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/catherinedjohnsonauthor/

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Movie Review: Plane!

Plane is a 2023 action thriller movie starring Gerard Butler, Tony Goldwyn, Mike Colter, and Paul Ben-Victor. The story starts innocuously enough with commercial Trailblazer Airlines Flight 119 flying from Singapore to Honolulu via Tokyo. Of course, the weather is bad and of course the greedy bosses at the airlines insist the pilot (Butler) fly above the storm to make their destination in time. The plane suffers damage during the storm over the South China Sea, but pilot Brodie Torrance (Butler) ably assisted by his co-pilot Samuel Dele (Yoson An) makes an incredible landing on a seemingly uninhabited island with the loss of only two lives; an air hostess and the RCMP officer who is escorting fugitive Louis Gaspare (Colter) back to face justice. Of course, this is no ordinary island. It is home to a villainous gang that kidnaps foreigners, holds them to ransom to make their origin countries pay, and if not, they are executed. Could it get any worse? Yes! Prepare to perch on the edge of your seat and shovel that popcorn down in handfuls. This is not your usual air crash disaster movie.

I love disaster movies, especially airplane disasters, and I am a big Gerard Butler fan. After all, he has saved the American president thrice from terrorists (Olympus/London/Angel Has Fallen), has steered a nuclear submarine safely through heavily mined Russian waters (Hunter Killer) and saved the world from ecological disaster (Geostorm). When the end of the world comes, I want him on my team. Butler plays Torrance as not quite the anti-hero, but an ordinary man doing everything noble because, as the captain, he is responsible for the lives in his care. He is fighting for the survival of everyone on the plane, including himself. He does this without being schmaltzy or corny. Tony Goldwyn is excellent, as always, as Scarsdale, a former Special Forces officer who swoops in to run point at the airline’s headquarters. Louis Gaspare and Torrance team up to push the rescue mission while waiting for possible help to arrive. It’s a good team and you’ll be rooting for Gaspare to either escape or be vindicated. Surprise factor on that point!

This is an exceptionally good action movie with no soppiness and no long staring into the distance moments. The actual crash and dramatic events come thick and fast and although some elements are a bit far-fetched (the co-pilot manages to revive the electronics), well… who is going to point this it as not being credible. Not me. I’m no pilot. This is a happy ending with everyone, characters and viewers, being scared witless. The one sobering element is that much of the background story is true. Rebels and separatists do kidnap people for ransom; many are executed, and the Philippine government is probably too scared to send in troops without massive international backup. Pretty young women like a few of the characters on the plane would most likely be sold off to the highest bidder, never to be seen again. The suspense is incredible and isn’t that what an action thriller movie aims to achieve? Watch it. You won’t be disappointed. Don’t forget the popcorn. You’re going to need it.