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Monday, January 24, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: "Come Sunday Morning" by Terry E. Hill


by Cyrus Webb for Conversations Book Club/ www.conversationsmag.com

After an almost eight year hiatus, author Terry E. Hill returns to the literary scene with what is a complete literary treat: Come Sunday Morning. While his first novel (Inside The Fall) took us into the complicated and sometimes corrupted world of politics, Hill's sophomore offering leads us right into the church and the double life of celebrated Pastor Hezekiah T. Cleaveland. He seems to have it all: a massive and adoring congregation as well as a equally compelling wife and beautiful daughter, but as in so many cases in life, nothing is ever as it appears to be.

Though the back cover explains a great deal of what the book is about, Hill once again gives us a backstory and character development that makes him such a gifted storyteller. You see, not only is Pastor Cleaveland being unfaithful to the vows he made to his wife and the church, he is being just as unfaithful to himself. In his quest to have everything that he wants, he loses himself and becomes a mirror that reflects the hopes and aspirations of others.

Ironically,though, it is during his unfaithfulness that the Pastor is able to finally admit the truth. "I've never loved anyone, or even myself, as much as I love you," he says to his lover. "No one has ever forced me to look beyond myself and my own needs or my own ego...You've made me realize I've never really cared for anyone and didn't think I had the capacity to. My world has always been about me, and what I desired more than life itself. I wanted power and all that came with it---fame, wealth, and respect. Well, I've done it. I have it all, and when I got it, I began to hate myself more than I had ever hated my worst enemy. All I could see staring back at me in the mirror was a hollow, lonely man who had traded his soul just to be recognized when he walked down the street..."

What a remarkable confession, and it is one that no matter what your profession many can relate to. How many of us have given up what we really want just to go after what we feel like will make us look the best to the world. Pastor Cleaveland showcases that not only do we have the potential to destroy ourselves but those that we have involved in our facade of a life---sometimes with irreversible consequences. It is also important to realize that with much of life, what's done in the dark will ultimately come to the light.

Come Sunday Morning is just the kind of book we needed to start off the year, not just because it is an entertaining read, but as any literary work worth its salt, it sparks a much-needed discussion. Kudos to Terry E. Hill for once again showcasing that some things get better with age. This is a book that will be talked about for some time to come.

To find out more about the author, visit www.terryehill.com.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Author Alean McIntyre Adams: Traveling Through Pisgah and Beyond

by Cyrus Webb for Conversations Book Club/Conversations Magazine

At the age of 75, Mississippi author Alean McIntyre Adams has seen more than her fair share of change in Mississippi and around the world. In her new book WAY BEYOND PISGAH, she takes readers into the journey that has been her life and allows us to see how the events she has lived through have shaped the woman she has become.

While talking with Adams, it is impossible to deny her excitement for life. She explained to me that she was always a person who questioned things instead of just accepting whatever she was told. "I knew there had to be a better way of life," she says. "God wouldn't want it to be that way."


"That way" growing up was in a segregated world in Mississippi. She saw alot of prejudice, but thanks to strong people like her mother around her, the young girl knew that better days were possible. "My mother told me that we could do anything," she reflects, and that was something that she never forget.

Throughout her childhood and into her adulthood, Alean Adams fought against the challenges she was faced with and realized what was possible with hard work and dedication. To her, though, she was just doing what she knew was right. "I was doing what I did for my family and to make the world a better place," she told me. She hopes her book will allow younger generations to see that progress that has been made, what it took to bring about change and realize their role in keeping it going.

An important chapter in Adams' life was her work in the Civil Rights movement. The reader gets a chance to see why some felt the need to speak up and out about the injustice they saw, and the results of such action. You are also able to see how fear of the unknown kept others from moving forward. In the end, though, it is a culmination of all of the events of her life that makes Alean who she is.

And the meaning of the book title? In the book the author tells of an experience when she was visiting a doctor and he commented on her use of correct English. In the exchange with her he made the statement that she probably hadn't been away from Pisgah. Today the author has been far from Pisgah, traveling around the world, and that is what is possible for others to attain as well.

Adams doesn't allow others to dictate the course of her life. She realizes that she has the power to bring about the life she wants. What better message than that to share with others!

For more information about Alean McIntyre Adams and her book, contact her at 601.829.2702.

In Mississippi the book can be found at Milestone Christian Bookstore in Pearl, MS and available to everyone by mail order.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Patricia Singleton, Incest Survivor: Using The Past To Brighten The Fu ture


by Cyrus Webb

As we look to 2011 as a year of new beginnings, there are few people that I have met in my life that exemplify what it means to be a survivor like Patricia Singleton. As a child she experienced betrayal that no one should have to endure, but as an adult she is using her life as an incest survivor to not only help others through their journey from abuse but spark a conversation that is long overdue.

I was privileged to have the first radio interview with the Arkansas resident in 2010 (http://www.blogtalkradio.com/show.aspx?userurl=conversationslive&year=2010&month=04&day=29&url=cyrus-webb-presents-the-patricia-singleton-story-o), and as we were making plans for the New Year, I knew we had to share Patricia's story with our magazine audience.In this conversation she talks about the decision to start blogging about her experiences, how that has affected her and what she has to say to those who might feel as though they are suffering with abuse alone.

Patricia, first of all I want to say how much I appreciate what you are doing in giving a voice to abuse survivors worldwide.  Can you tell our readers when you decided to start sharing your story?

Thank you, Cyrus, for giving me the opportunity to share my experiences as an incest survivor.  I first started sharing my story in 12-Step meetings back in January 1989.  I talked and cried and talked some more, breaking the bond of silence created by my abusers.  The flood gates were open.  For more than ten years, when I was talking, I was writing in journals.
 
I have always known that one day I would write about my experiences as an incest survivor.  Why?  Because writing about my experiences, sharing with other survivors was the only way that I could think of to make something good come out of the darkness that was my childhood which was created by the abuse.  I always thought that this writing would be in the form of a published book, and it might still be one of these days.
 
On June 1, 2007, I posted my first blog article on Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker.  A very dear online friend sold me a tutorial that took me through the steps of setting up my blog.  I have now been blogging for about 3 1/2 years. 
 
Through your blog you are able to not only give encouragement but listen to others as well.  What does it feel like to know that your words and your story is sparking a real dialogue?
It is very gratifying and humbling to know that my words can help and encourage other survivors.  Having others leave comments on my blog telling me how much hope they receive from my words makes me feel so good.   Then is when I know that what I do is worth sharing.  When I took my own first steps toward healing, I didn't know how many others were out there in the world feeling just as hurt and just as alone as I did.  Today, because of the internet, no one has to do their healing alone.  My readers inspire me as much as they say I inspire them.  The dialogue, in the form of the comment section, can often give just as much information as the articles themselves.
 
 
We have been hearing alot about people taking their lives after suffering from abuse or even bullying and ridicule.  What would you say to all of us about the importance of us getting to love people for who they are, getting to know them before judging?
My dad was a bully and dictator.  That was how he ran our family.  In trying to understand my dad, I discovered that bullies are frightened, angry children no matter what their biological age.  They feel threatened by anyone who is different than they are.
 
I have learned that it is our differences that make our friendships and other relationships more interesting.  Bullies bully because they are afraid of those differences.  Children who feel loved by their parents don't bully.  Children who love themselves and know that they have value don't bully.  Children who are taught to feel compassion for others do not bully.  When you value yourself, then you value all others too.
 
Expressing compassion to another can sometimes be that one thing that keeps that person from taking their life in an act of desperation.  I believe that it is that deep down feeling of lonliness and helplessness that brings a person to pull the trigger or to down that bottle of pills because they believe that no one cares.  They grow so tired of the struggle.  Letting someone know that you care about them, that you understand how they are feeling can make the difference sometimes in whether they continue or not.  That is why I blog about my incest issues, to let others know that I care.  I am not the only one.  More and more of us are speaking out as survivors.  Giving someone else hope is the most rewarding thing that I can do.
 
Patricia, we talked about the difference about being a victim and a survivor.  How important is it for you to be seen as the latter?
As long as you see yourself as a victim, others will see you as a victim and treat you as a victim.  Victims don't always survive the bullies of life.  We will always attract people into our lives who will treat us the way that we expect to be treated.  People treat us the way that we allow them to treat us.
 
As a survivor, I learned that I didn't deserve to be mistreated by anyone.  I learned to love myself, and in loving myself, I saw myself and the world differently.  In learning to love myself, I was able to learn to love and be loved by others.  That is a major difference between a victim and a survivor.
 
As a survivor, I learned to feel, and in feeling, I worked my way through the pain of being sexually abused as  a child.  As a survivor, I learned that not all of life is painful, lonely, discouraging and rageful.  There is joy and laughter in my life.  Love does exist.  The world can be a safe place to live and to love in.
 
Social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook have done a lot to get the word out about the seriousness of abuse in the home and beyond.  What have they done for you in getting the word out?
Cyrus, I met you not very long after I started using Twitter and Facebook.  We might not would have met otherwise through our mutual friend.  Not long after I started Tweeting on Twitter and posting my blog articles on Facebook, the number of my subscribers  to my blog more than doubled in a very short time and has continued to grow at a constant rate.  I have met many new friends on Twitter and Facebook.
 
One of the topics that I have found out about on Twitter that I knew very little about is Human Sex Trafficking.  The Industry is second only to Drug Trafficking in the U. S. for the amount of money that it generates.  The average age of a person, usually a girl child, is 12 years old when she is first sold as a sex object in the U. S.
 
Any advice you have for others who have remained silent about their own challenges and abuse and would like to know the best way to move forward with sharing and healing?
If you were abused as a child, please join the rest of us who have left being a victim behind.  Find a safe person that you can tell about your abuse.  If you are in an abusive situation or relationship, leave.  Do what is necessary to take care of yourself and to survive.  Your safety comes first.
 
Find a good therapist who is trained in working with abuse survivors.  If you have addictions, if you are an Adult Child of a Dysfunctional Family like me, find a healthy 12-Step meeting to go to.  Once you are there, talk, talk, talk your way through your pain.  Build yourself a support system.  Allow yourself to feel, to get angry, to cry and to grieve.
 
You can heal.  Know that you deserve to have love and joy in your life.  Know that you are worth it.  Know that everything that I, as a survivor, have done, you can do too.  You aren't alone.
 
Thank you for your time, Patricia.  Please tell our readers where they can go to communicate with you online.
You are very welcome Cyrus.  My blog is called Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker.  You can find it at  http://patriciasingleton.blogspot.com.You can connect with me on Facebook and Twitter through my blog.

Monday, January 17, 2011

MICHAEL SILAS: Dancing Into His Destiny


by Cyrus Webb

The first time I ever heard of dancer Michael Silas was on BRAVO's reality show STEP IT UP AND DANCE, but his career began long before that national experience. For many, being on a show like that would be the momentum needed to open up doors for the future. In Michael's case, he had been knocking down doors long before that tv appearance, and he hasn't stopped since.

You see, for Michael, dancing is not just something he does. It's a reflection of who he is and what he is capable of in the future. So far his skills have granted him access to working with celebrities like Chris Brown, Mary J Blige, Neyo, Christina Aguilera, Hilary Duff, Kelly Rowland and Lady Gaga; and his brand continues to expand has he is featured in movies like The Longest Yard and commercials.

At the end of the day, though, Michael is not defined by who he works on but the work in progress that he sees himself as being. This interview has been three years in the making, and I'm pleased to share a glimpse into the world of man that is truly using his abilities to dance into his destiny.


When did you realize that dancing was something you were passionate about?
To be honest, my passion with dance for awhile was something I struggled with. The
inconsistency of the dance hustle was truly a test on my whole being when I first moved to LA. I thought I knew passion, but I would soon discover that my passion for life and dance would pull me through. My appreciation for passion became more understandable when the movement called Lady Gaga entered my life. To see something I love called Dance change my life the way it has is when I really knew this would for ever be my passion. So to answer Dance is still becoming my passion on a daily basis. It never stops...

Michael, confidence is something that many young people struggle with. What about you?
Confidence will always be a on going struggle for people, its the way society works
in away. Always judging people or things, I call it people being absent minded to there own ignorance. Including myself. Confidence starts from within, it;s a daily struggle because each day brings a new test. So inside I tell myself, I am a special person born to be my own individual the way god created me: beautiful, unique, gifted and a Rock Star!

So no matter what people think or say about you, know it's ok to be different and walk in confidence with your head held up!

Have you always been confident in your abilities and what you were able to do?
Yes and no. You have to be confident within yourself before u can truly approach it
head on. The mind can be a tricky thing, but I reverse the doubt and utilize it to prove myself wrong! If you think u cant do it, guess what then you won't. I learned a valuable quote from Laurie Ann Gibson that I have really applied to my own life: You are only as great as you allow yourself to be, so be great dammit! (laughs)


Before you were on national tv, you had the pleasure of working with many well-known individuals. Give our readers a rundown of some of the people you have had the pleasure to work with.
See when I get asked this question it always makes me feel some kinda way, I never
want anyone to think I'm cocky when I talk about what I like to call blessings in my
life. I'm so grateful and humbled by the journey I've been blessed to be on. I've worked with artist like Lady Gaga, Chris Brown, Mary J Blige, Neyo, Christina Aguilera, Hilary Duff, Kelly Rowland, Solange Knowles, Cassie. When it comes to choreographers, I have worked with Laurie Ann Gibson, Brian Friedman, Hi Hat, Frank Gatson, Richard Jackson, Mikey Minden, Jerri Slaughter, Tabitha & Napolean, Dave Scott, Leville Smith, and Todd Smith. I also been fortunate to do movies like The Longest Yard as well as commercials for AT&T Go Phone, and Puma.

Michael, how did the experience of being on BRAVO's STEP IT UP AND DANCE assist you in getting the word out about who you were and open up new doors?
It did help me a bit, but I was already a professional dancer before the show so I had some small buzz from that and being a former Mr Gay Texas. Step It Up And Dance open the doors on a universal level,I had no clue that it would air outside of the USA. That took me off guard and when I began to travel abroad on the Tour I started seeing that it really did get my face out there.


When I caught back up with you last year you were on tour as part of the Haus of Gaga. How has this experience changed your life?
I don't even know where to begin, because its done so much for my life and being. I've learned so much about myself through this journey, it's brought a over whelming amount of happiness to me being able to live out my dreams on THIS type of stage while traveling the world with such amazing people...priceless, however its taught me no matter how high you go in your life always stay grounded and true to yourself for these blessings come from a higher power. Patience is key in the journey to happiness, and let the simple things in life bring that to you!

With all of the attention you have been able to get, what do you hope those who might look at you as an example will take away from your journey so far?
That I go through it with most genuine approach that I can, inspiring people with my story and testimony. Don't be afraid to really be who or whatever you want to be, u don't have to live in the box called society's standards! Beat to your own drum and know what beat that is for it's the very being of who you are!

Success is a word that can be personal for each person. At this point in your career, what does success mean to you?
To me success is my happiness these days, as a kid growing up I use to have these
outrageous goals that I never dreamed possible. Well now that my dreams are reality on a daily basis its surreal that I can say I've become successful! I've developed this new love for teaching workshops around the world and through them I spread the message that success and happiness is such a personal thing, don't hold it to anyone else's standards but your own. You can't please them all so always make sure its starts within self!

What do you hope people take away from your life and how you are living your dreams today?
I hope I can inspire or make someones day with my story. I know how it feels to live life not feeling like you fit in or feeling different. Use that very uniqueness god created you with to be a INDIVIDUAL. To Laurie Ann Gibson, Richard Jackson, and LG thank you so much for showing me what it is to live with your wings spread, go through life fearless and staying true to self. Doors are always meant to be knocked down if not opened for you! So make sure you have a strong foot!

Thank you for your time, Michael. How can our readers find out more about you and keep in touch with you?
You can find me online at www.Facebook.com/iammichaelsilas or www.myspace.com/groovin_4me. My personal website coming soon!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

TAKE TEN with Author Stephen Jay Schwartz

by Cyrus Webb for Conversations Magazine

(Note: This profile appears in the January 2011 issue of Conversations Magazine.)

Stephen, when would you say you realized that writing was something you were not only good at but wanted to pursue?
I intended to be a filmmaker, and I made Super 8 films with friends growing up in Albuquerque – crazy James Bond stuff, where I learned to ski backwards, without poles, so I could hold the camera and cover the action. I was always the villain because I loved to ski down enormous moguls with a plastic machine gun in my hands and, after getting “shot,” take a two-story, slow motion wipe-out into a tree. Fun stuff. But when I was in college I wrote a short story that was heavily influenced by my father’s suicide and it won two national contests. That was the moment I realized I had something unique to say as a writer.

Having interviewed you on Conversations LIVE after the release of your second book BEAT, it seems obvious that you put a great deal of yourself in your work. Has than been an easy decision for you to do, and do you feel as though this adds to the realness readers get from your books?
I’ve always put my personal life into my writing and my films. The first short film I made was called Meditations on a Suicide, and I opened up entirely about the relationship I had with my father before his death. For me, art is about exploring the meaning of life, my life in particular, since I’ve got a front-row seat in the theater of my own mind. I like to explore what it means to struggle, to sometimes fail. Failure and success are part of the same cycle, but sometimes people fall deep into the failure hole, they take a long time to hit bottom before starting that long climb towards the top. I had my own struggle with sex-addiction and it nearly ended my marriage, which would’ve had a profound effect on my children. My wife and I worked hard together through therapy and Twelve Step meetings to overcome my addiction and my novels became the catharsis borne from our efforts. The whole reason to write the books was to be open about my experiences, so that people who might be caught in a similar cycle of sex addiction, people like Hayden Glass, might recognize themselves within the pages and seek help. I think my personal experience gives the character a three-dimensional realness that might not have existed if I’d only done traditional research.

You have been praised not just by avid readers and critics but fellow authors as well. What has that been like to see those you respect in the industry enjoy your work as well?
It’s been heavenly. It’s hard for me to express the gratitude I feel when authors—who I consider mentors and heroes—have chosen to address me as a peer. The praise has given me the confidence necessary to “stick to it,” to keep writing no matter what obstacles I might face along the way.


In BEAT we are taken into the life of Hayden Glass who is a hero to so many but a complex individual even to himself. If you don't mind, take us into the creation of Glass and what you hope we the reader learn from him and the way he handles his weaknesses.
Hayden is complex in that he wants to be good, he wants to be normal, but his actions defy his intentions. He has a sponsor, he goes to the Twelve Step meetings. He’ll get 30, 60 or 90 days of sobriety and then he’ll slip. He has so much potential, if only he could pull himself together. And his addiction seems so ambiguous—what does it mean to be addicted to sex? Most people don’t believe his addiction even exists. And yet he’s ruled by it. In BEAT he meets his “counterpart,” San Francisco Homicide Inspector Anthony Locatelli, who is what Hayden would be if Hayden had his act together. And yet we learn that Hayden has a talent, a “gift,” that others like Locatelli don’t. Maybe Hayden’s weakness, his addiction, is behind it. Maybe he knows a little more than the rest of us through his struggles.

Stephen, you write your books in a way that we can picture the words coming alive in front of us. I think it's important for our readers to remember that you do have a history in film. How do you feel as though that background enhances your storytelling abilities?
I do love film. I love the visual language. I try to tap into visual imagery when I write. And I love great cinematography, the kind you see in films like The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, Schindler’s List, Searching for Bobby Fischer, The Seven Samurai, Taxi Driver…the list goes on. I spent a number of years as the Director of Development for filmmaker Wolfgang Petersen and I watched a lot of great films and read a lot of thriller scripts. A good screenplay is tight, like a poem, with well-defined acts and escalating action. Screenplays are plot-driven—there’s not a lot of room for much else. So, having written screenplays, I understand that my novels must have a well-defined three-act structure and the kind of pacing that makes the reader want to turn pages.

With that being said, what can we expect from Hayden Glass and you this year?
2011 is going to be a quiet year for me. I won’t have anything on the shelves, since I’ve just started writing my next novel. I’m putting Hayden aside for a while and concentrating on a dark, international thriller set in the U.S. and Europe. I’ve done most of my research and I’m having fun writing the book. I’m also juggling this with a screenwriting assignment—a big, 3-D zombie-type thriller. Pretty fun stuff, and it’ll get me back into the film biz a bit. I still have plans for another Hayden novel—I think I’ll place him in the San Fernando Valley next; the heart of the porn industry. That ought to tickle his addiction. Poor Hayden, I don’t give the guy a break.

Any words of encouragement you want to give to aspiring writers that want to make the new year their time to get published or at least move in that direction?
My standard advice, the advice that was given to me: Finish the Book. Just get it done. Write “The End,” take some time off, then go back and read it from the beginning, and do the rewrite. Repeat. And then, when you have something that looks pretty good, have four or five people with a little experience give you feedback. Listen to the feedback. Find the common denominator—what is everyone saying? Do they agree on certain criticisms? If so, you probably have a problem with that. Go back in for another couple rewrites. You’ve got to learn the craft. It’s about the writing, not the selling, not the “fame.” You’ve got to love the process.

I would be remiss in not asking about your use of social networking sites when it comes to not just promoting your brand but keeping in touch with your fans. What do you enjoy the most about sites like Facebook when promoting a new book?
Facebook is perfect for promoting my books and upcoming events. I love being able to send a sharp-looking invitation to dozens of readers at once. I love being able to quickly update my activities. But you can get lost in it, addicted to it even, and then the writing day (or night) is gone. Facebook has definitely slowed my writing schedule. It’s a necessary balancing act.

I'm always interested in how people who are living their dreams personally see success. How do you define what success is for you today and has it changed any from when you first began your career as an author?
I said once that a writer is successful if he is writing. Everyone has excuses for not writing, and all the excuses are valid. Still, you have to write, despite all the obstacles. It must be done. And, if you manage to slip in an hour or two every day…you’ve succeeded.
Now that I have two published novels, I’m defining success a bit differently. If I can support myself as a writer, I’m successful. If I can just do this full-time. Juggling my writing career with a day job has become counter-productive. But I have overhead and I’m responsible for the lives of my wife and kids. I don’t want to drag them through the trenches just so I can feel like a “real” writer. Again, it’s the balancing act. I’m about to jump into it full-time, for the first time in ten years. I hope this time it’s permanent.

We appreciate your time, Stephen. Happy New Years to you. How can our readers stay in contact with you and find out more about your books?
You can find me at www.stephenjayschwartz.com or friend me on Facebook. If you come to my website you can get a free download of my short story prequel to Boulevard, called CROSSING THE LINE.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

How Connected Are You? by Toya Bryant


Connected to what? Technology, social networks, the viral web. These all fall under the umbrella of the Internet. People take pride in their ability to be connected to the people, places and things that can only be found in the digital world.

So here's the question again. How connected are you?
Here's a short quiz to answer that very question.

When I go to any event I:

a. Sit back and enjoy it

b. Make sure I tweet or post an update or pic about everything that happened later

c. How did I forget to bring my phone?? This night stinks

While I am having dinner with friends I:

a. Turn off my phone and enjoying eating and chatting it up with my pals

b. Text my significant other all night while I talk to my friends (I'm a multi-tasker)

c. Have my head buried in my phone so long that I don't notice that everyone has eaten and is leaving


When I'm in class I:
a. Pay attention to the teacher and take good notes in case there is a quiz

b. Listen while looking over the shoulder of the person in front of me trying to read their text messages

c. Secretly upload video and commentary about my Professor onto YouTube



If you chose "a" for any of the questions you are not overly tied to any type of technology and get your enjoyment in life purely from your immediate surroundings.



If you chose "b" for any of the questions you are simply a person who knows his/her way around technology. You are a pretty typical person who knows how to combine technology with the real world.



If you chose "c" for any of the questions you are completely tech savvy and like to stay connected at all times. However, with or without your knowledge your level of connection may be affecting your personal life.



But, how are you offline? How connected are you?


We live in a world in which every action we engage in can be combined with technology. How have you fared in keeping a firm grasp on the things and relationships that do not exist in a virtual world?

Millions of people are now able to interact with one another through social networks. Whether it be a long lost relative, an old flame, a former boss or a present friend we are virtually plugged in at all times. Many would argue that the benefits of being up-to-date with what's going is a necessity in the modern world, but to what extent are we willing to do this?

The way we communicate has changed dramatically in the last ten and even five years, but there is no substitute to the interpersonal connections that can be built with those closest to us. If we allow it. Sometimes technology can enhance these relationships when distance is involved, but it can also drive a wedge between them when technology becomes a hindrance to our ability to communicate with each other face-to-face.

Disconnecting from the web is really about reconnecting with your life and those that matter most. While society has made it acceptable to put the digital life above the physical one we ultimately have to learn to create a harmony between the two.

If you are a parent like I am who also uses technology for professional reasons the ability to step away from the digital and give time and attention to our children is vital. Or in some cases vice versa.

Children in the digital age are born playing video games, texting and surfing the internet. Many are proficient on the keyboard even before they can write well. So it is necessary that parents are able to teach children very early on about how to make their use of technology not be their primary focus. The best way to do that is not by words, but by example.

So now that we have grown accustomed to life in a digital world we need to appreciate our life in the real one by staying "connected" to the things that matter most.

Toya Bryant is a Freelance Writer who focuses on positives changes and actions that impact the family and the community. Not only writing about them, but doing them in her own life by making her primary work volunteer service. She has written for various online publications as well as print magazines. Currently you can find her writing about ways to create a balance between the digital world and the real one at www.DisconnectU.com.

Nigeria's U.D. Abdul Kareem: Encouraging Reading One Person At A Time


When it comes to the importance of reading, U.D. Abdul Kareem knows firsthand it can mean the difference between success and failure. The 33 year old native of Kaara vilage in Nigeria currently lives in Bonny Island, Nigeria where he is in the Nigerian Navy. In 2010 he celebrated the release of his debut novel AFRICAN COWBOY. He talks with Cyrus Webb of Conversations Magazine about hs life, his love of reading and what he hopes his book does to inspire others.

(As a member of the Shadow Play Entertainment family, U.D. Abdul has also joined the TAKE TIME TO READ campaign. See details at www.taketimetoread.com)


UD, you come from a large family. How many brothers and sisters do you have?
I am from a polygamous family of 35. My father married four wives and had 21 males and 14 females. I'm the ninth of eleven children of my mother. I had eight sisters and three brothers.

Looking at your country, what population of Nigeria do you believe can't read or write well?
According to the current census by UNICEF, the Nigerian population that can not read or write are 57.1%.

How important is reading to you?
Reading is the only secret in which you can know others' intention, motives, feelings and information. I always create time to read books, newspapers and magazines despite the schedule of my life. Some information is entertaining while other is educational. I love reading. I believe more of what I read than what I heard. If you want to know what happened years ago or how to do something that is difficult for you to understand, go through books.


What made you decide to write the book African Cowboy?
I decided to write African Cowboy to share my experience with the rest of the world, which illustrates nagative view of gender discrimination, the importance of education and the terrible effect of illiteracy, especially to the developing and under-developped countries where education is regarded less importance. It's not my autobiography, but it's a true life story.

What do you hope people get from your book?
I want people to understand that female or male children deserve equal rights. No one is better than the other. The major character of the story "Bappa" mistreated one of his daughters and eventually as life goes on, he came to look for a job from her to survive not knowing that she is his daughter. She saved his life while he was at the point of death. If you train a female child she can equally do even better than the males.

The second message that I want people to get from African Cowboy is to bear in mind that the sky is the limit to the educated person, while illiterate persons have very limited opportunities. Illiteracy kills talents, dreams and creates inferiority complex and restrict freedom of expression.

What do you think people in the United States and around the world can do to help address the problem of illiteracy?
You know, the must difficult aspect of success is the first step, because the first thing you'll encounter at the first move is a challenge. That is where a coward would back off. It is only the hero that can face the challenge and conquer. What I'm trying to say is that someone has already made a move to fight this terrible epidemic {illiteracy}not only in the United states but all over the world, and that is Cyrus Webb. Mr Cyrus has already paved the way to fight illiteracy all over the world. All what we need to do is to give him a maximum support.

Governments and other agences such as UNICEF and the rest, should work together to achieve one goal. Something urgent need to be done to tackle illiteracy in the world, especially in African countries. We that are privileged to be literate can not fold our arms seeing others suffering without any effort to rescue them. It's a collective war. Let everybody contribute in one way or the other. If you can rescue only one person from illiteracy God will definitely reward you for that.

Thank you for the compliment, U.D. and for taking out the time to talk with us. How can our readers find out more information about you and the book.
You can go to my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=100000209190857. You can find out more about the book and get your copy here: http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/AfricanCowboy.html

Saturday, January 8, 2011

(Fri. Jan. 7, 2011) Mississippi Welcomes Author Jackie Carpenter, Day 1

 

(Fri. Jan. 7, 2011) Conversations Welcomes Author Jackie Carpenter
(Friday, January 7, 2011) Shadow Play Entertainment and Conversations Book Club welcomed Jackie Carpenter, author of THE BRIDGE, to Mississippi on Friday, January 7, 2011 to begin her two day promotion of the book and how her faith helped guide her through a dark chapter of her life.
Hosted by Conversations' President Cyrus Webb and co-sponsored by Stanley Clark of For The People Productions, the day began at Medgar Evers Library in South Jackson. There Carpenter shared snippets of her life story and how the inspiration for the book came about.
Those in attendance listened intently as she explained that it was never her intention to become an author, but God had other plans. Before leaving the library, she also donated a copy of her book to them so it can be shared with the patrons.

While in Jackson, Webb and Carpenter stopped by Clear Channel's radio offices to drop off a copy of the book for Nikki Dulaney of Hallelujah 95.5 FM for consideration for her book club selections.
From there, the group was on its way to Pearl, MS where Webb introduced Carpenter to some of the staff at the Pearl Public Library, and she donated copies of her book THE BRIDGE to them for use by their patrons.
As it would be, Conversations Book Club supporter and evangelist Diane Johnston was also present at the library, and was able to get a copy of Carpenter's book as well!

Next stop was Milestone Christian Bookstore where Carpenter was able to talk with management about her book and even laid the groundwork for a future signing at the stop when she returns to Mississippi!
The final stop of the day was at DSI, the renal center where Webb's grandmother is on dialysis. Several nurses from the Mississippi State Hospital had expressed interest to Webb about their love of books, and he was able to introduce them to the visiting author, share her book and the message she hopes they get from it.
The overall message that Jackie Carpenter shared was this: "I had to go through the test in order to have a testimony, and I had to endure the mess so I could have a message." What an incredible way to look at tests and trials that we all go through!

Find out more about Jackie Carpenter and her inspiring book at
www.bridgetoamiracle.com. Shadow Play Entertainment and For The People Productions thanks the author, her family and everyone who shared the day with them. Day Two will include events in Brandon and Pearl, Mississippi. Details can be found at www.thebestbookclub.info.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Author Jackie Carpenter's "Bridge" To A Miracle


Georgia native Jackie Carpenter never intended on becoming an author, however, the events that took place in her life in 2009 set in motion a literary work that she believes is divinely inspired.
THE BRIDGE (Between Cell Block A and a Miracle Is Psalm 91) allows you to go into the events that would have destroyed many but seemed to fortify those involved. Jackie shared her thoughts on her life and how her faith was refined with Conversations' Cyrus Webb in this heartwarming interview.



First of all, Jackie, congratulations on the success of your book THE BRIDGE. How does it feel to have something that came from a tragedy inspire so many people?
It feels like for the first time my life has a “real purpose” and that purpose is to share “what God can do” with all of the hurting people who do not need help in their lives, “they need Miracles! I am learning for the first time that there is nothing in this life as satisfying as telling others what God can do!

Before the events that happened in your life that prompted this book, did you ever think of being an author before?
Before this tragedy I never even so much as entertained the thought of writing a book.

Take us into your world growing up. In reading the book, it's obvious that faith was instrumental to getting you through your trying times as an adult. When did you realize the power of faith?
I had a great childhood. God blessed me with Christian parents and also a Christian sister. My sister Susie and I were raised in the country. Playing barefoot in the dirt, running through mudpuddles, and having fun all day. My dad was a hardworking man and my mom was a homemaker. We were always involved in the church. I gave my life to the Lord when I was 13 yrs. old. I always thought that I had faith that would conquer anything, but that’s easy to think when it hadn’t had to conquer anything. But when my world was turned upside down, how did I build my faith strong enough to turn it “right side up”? That’s a whole different ballgame!

Jackie, for those just hearing about your book THE BRIDGE, tell them what the book is about.
My 28 year old son, married to a beautiful wife with a 7 year old son, was a homebuilder. He was also a victim of copper theft in his under construction homes. After numerous thefts, each theft costing approximately $6,000 a deputy agreed to meet my son at the construction site to give him advice on how to handle these thefts. The bad advice that this deputy gave my son resulted in the death of a young man. Due to “false accusations” by so many people, my son was “falsely accused” of Felony Murder.

This book is totally inspired by God. I am not a writer, but God wrote a Best Seller. This book was inspired about 2 months following my son, Jason’s “high profile murder trial”. This “Tragedy” is something that could happen to anyone on any given day. The early morning hours of June 28th, 2008 just happened to be my day. Never in my life did I ever think for one split second that our family would ever experience anything like this. But the call came at 2:00 a.m. on June 27th, 2008 just the same!

How did this happen? Why did this happen? Upstanding citizens of the community, Christians, always trying to give back , always trying to do what’s right. How in the world could something like this be happening? What do we do now? We have never dealt with anything like what we were dealing with now.

This book is written from my perspective as “Jason’s mom” as to what happened over a ten month period in our life. I can only describe what I felt. Everyday I felt as though I was dying, physically mentally, and emotionally during the first six months of this ordeal. In December 2008 I underwent a blood transfusion, when released from the hospital I went to CVS pharmacy to pick up my prescriptions. While in there I saw a book on the “Choice Book stand” titled “Psalm 91, God Shield of Protection". IT SAVED MY LIFE.

God was my only hope. Things were dire. Money was of no value. All news was bad news. Without God’s renewed strength in my body I would not have been able to take another breath or walk another step. I moved my life into the Book of Psalms. I read Psalms day and night!

“The Bridge” takes you on the journey of “utter helplessness” that our family endured, and the strong Faith that brought us to the place of Victory. Ten long months we lived in the very pit of hell where Satan viciously attacked our family continuously. Day after day after day after day. But on April 16th, 2009 Thursday afternoon, 3:40 in the afternoon, Coweta County Courthouse, Third Floor Courtroom, “The Jury has reached a decision”, Jason, “please rise”. And GOD SHOWED UP!!!

Looking back on it now, do you think the trials that your son and your entire family went through were in some ways a larger testimony of what God is able to do in all of our lives?
YES! God doesn’t make mistakes. He could have stopped this tragedy at any time. What if Jason had not gone down there that night? What if I had not bought that “Psalm 91” Book? What if the “deceased” had just cooperated until the police arrived? What if the police had not got lost? What if the gun had not misfired? What if I had gone down there with him? What if a “bad cop” had not given Jason “bad advice”?

For 10 months I wrestled with the “what if” factor. What if God doesn’t help us? What if God let’s Jason go to jail even though he’s innocent? It was all those “what if” questions that weakened my Faith. It was only when I stopped doubting and started trusting that I received “Peace” and now God is showing me the next piece of the puzzle. He is allowing me to share “what He did for our family” with countless others who need for Him to do the same thing in their lives. He is affording me the opportunity to tell them “He is there for them”!

There are people reading this interview who might not be going through a situation like you experienced, but they are dealing with their own difficulties. What advice would you give them?
This book is totally based on what I experienced “start to finish” from a great life, to a tormented life, from the arrest of my son until the last day of his “Murder Trial, and everything that I experienced along the way. I experienced humility. I experienced what it means to be “Scared to Death” I experienced embarrassment. The Newspapers were Relentless. I experienced the maximum in the “frustration arena”. I experienced what it’s like to “Bottom Out’ as a Mama.

Even if the reader has not experienced this tragedy, they may have experienced the same feelings in dealing with their own hurt that they are facing. If they haven’t experienced these feelings “Hold On My Friend” before June 27th 2008 neither had I. But God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He can do the “supernatural”. He can take the devices of the wicked and make them to non-effect. God can take the crooked road and make it straight. God is the Only One that can do this. God is the Only one that can “heal a broken heart”. There is nothing too big for our God! Amen

As a first-time writer that is getting the recognition that so many aspiring writers want, what would you say to them about following their dream when it comes to writing?
This is a difficult question to answer because I never dreamed of becoming an aspiring writer, but God is an “Inspiring Writer”. He wrote a bestseller you know!

Just when everyone in the family had started moving on from this tragedy approximately 2 months after the verdict , as I was sitting at my desk working , God asked me this question: “Jackie, what was the worst part of this ordeal for you? I answered: Oh God, that was when my son was in Cell Block A. God then asked me, “Jackie, what was the best part of this ordeal for you? I answered: Oh, God that was our Miracle Verdict. He then asked me” Jackie, what was that “Bridge” that joined the worst to the best? I replied: Oh God, that was Psalm 91 that I claimed for my son all of those tormenting months. God said: “Very Good, now let’s start writing!” You have to share it with others, you cannot hide it! Miracles are meant to be “shared”!

On a personal note, you are going to be visiting my home state of Mississippi in January promoting the book and sharing your story. What do you hope your book does in encouraging others?
I am so excited that God is affording me another opportunity to share our Miracle. This time through you Cyrus, to come to Mississippi and share His awesome Power. Unfortunately, tragedy is no respecter of persons. Bad things do happen to good people, even the good people of Mississippi. The question becomes not will tragedy strike your family, but what will you do when tragedy does strike your family?

My book is a “Treasure” that all families need in their homes, in the most treasured part of their home, because it has the answer that you will need when the time comes. It is a book that needs to be passed along to your children so they will know what to do when their time comes.

This book is a book that God wrote. Jackie only let Him use her fingers to type the words that He spoke and inspired. What a valuable tool to have in your possession. A book that offers help to the helpless, hope to the hopeless, rest to the restless and life to the lifeless! There is another book that God wrote that does a much better job of this “The Bible”.

Congratuations again, Jackie, on the book and everything that you are accomplishing along your journey. How can our readers stay in touch with you and find out more information about the book?
I try very hard to keep my website updated with everything that is going on with this book: The Bridge (Between Cell Block A and a Miracle Is Psalm 91). Visit www.bridgetoamiracle.com.

(NOTE: Carpenter was a guest on Conversations LIVE with Cyrus Webb. Listen to the interview here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/conversationslive/2010/07/15/author-jackie-carpenter-and-marketing-expert-miche )

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Two Young Ladies Team Up Urging The World To "Let's Stop Rape"

by Cyrus Webb


They are two young ladies living in two different areas in the country, but together they are using the internet and Twitter in particular to raise awareness about a very important topic: rape. Taylor Cole,15, of Texas and Halea Filley,13, of Missouri co-run "Let's Stop Rape" on Twitter (www.twitter.com/letsstoprape), using the social network to share important facts about rape as well as uniting a coalition to help spread the word.

In this conversation* Taylor and Halea share how the "Let's Stop Rape" campaign began, what they hope to share with the world, and how they hope the work they are doing inspires other young people to get involved in worthwhile causes as well.

Why did you start the organization Let's Stop Rape?
T. C.: I started this organization because I was so shocked when I heard the statistics, and I wanted to make people more aware and help them keep safe.

You seem quite young to be tackling such an important yet powerful subject. How did you decide this was something you wanted to do?
T. C. : I found out about some rape that had been going on in my family, even as young as five, and I didn't want anyone else to have to go through that.

What are the statistics that you want us to be aware of when it comes to rape?
T. C.: A woman is raped every two minutes in the US. I think thats terrible. You never really know how often it happens!

What's been the response from the public?
T.C.: The response from the public has been really really great. We have alot of supporters who are willing to help us spread the word.
H.F.: The people on Twitter really appreciate what we're doing, alot of people thank us for having it on Twitter!

How have social networking sites like Twitter helped you get the word out?
T.C.: Twitter has been our biggest help here. If we get one person to follow us, then they can tell their followers and more and more people find out. Its really awesome.
H.F.: We get to interact with people from all over the world, and they are different ages too, and Twitter allows us to tweet them, and to post stats about rape.

What do you hope comes from your organization?
T.C.: You know, I'm not sure just yet. I just know that if I can make a difference in the life of even just one person, I've met my goal. I just wanna help people!
H.F.: I hope that people see Taylor and I as people who really want to make a difference, because thats what we're aiming for!

Any advice from other young people who would like to use their lives to make a difference like you have?
T. C.: If you find something that you feel strongly about, go out and really raise awareness. You'd be surprised how good it makes you feel. It's the best feeling in the world.
H.F.: That no matter who tells you you're too young to make a difference, don't believe them, because anyone can make a difference no matter where your from, or how old you are. Just believe in yourself, and you'll go a long way.

Congratulations on everything that you all are doing to raise awareness of this important topic. How can our readers find out more information about you online?
T.C.: They can check us out on Twitter (www.twitter.com/LetsStopRape) , Facebook, or visit www.letsstoprape.webs.com.



* Listen to Taylor and Halea's interview on Conversations LIVE with Cyrus Webb here: http://tobtr.com/s/1458265

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Recording Artist K. Drew: Following His Passion & Fulfilling His Dreams


At the age of 20, recording artist K. Drew is giving the music industry a run for its money. Born with music in his blood and destined to make it in the business, he knew early on that no matter what, he had to pursue his passion. Instead of waiting around for the perfect deal, the New Jersey native took his career in his won hands, began his own company and has been garnering fans from all around the world ever since.

With a new year here, K. Drew* has already set his goals high, touring and even releasing an album. He talked with Conversations Magazine's Cyrus Webb about the journey, the drive and what his tens of thousands of fans can expect from him next.

(*     Listen to K. Drew's interview on Conversations LIVE Radio with Cyrus Webb here: www.esnips.com/web/kdrew.)

When did you first realize that you were interested in singing and music?
I must have been around 13 or 14 when I got interested in the creation of music but music has always been a part of my life ever since I was born. So there was never a realization of what I was doing, it just came naturally and I always loved doing it.

Was it something that your family encouraged?
Most definitely, my dad was a musician and touring with a band when I was growing up. So when I decided to do music after high school, my family completed understood.  

When you look back at your own musical interests, who have been some of your influences?
Growing up I listened to everything from Pop to Rock-N-Roll and even classical. My main influence was definitely Michael Jackson but I feel that many rock bands such as Sound Garden and the Beatles influenced me a great deal as well.

 

K, can you tell us when you decided that this was something you really wanted to pursue?
Once high school ended, I decided to give college a try for my parents, however, my heart wasn't into my classroom studies, but in a music studio. I lasted about two weeks – I kept cutting class to come into New York City and work in the studio. At that point, I knew I wanted to be a music artist/producer and I am really lucky my parents have been beyond supportive of my decision to make a career out of my love for music.

 

How would you describe your style?
Well growing up I listened to all types of music. And also being a producer allows me to explore other musical tapestries. I guess you can say my music is fused between Rock, Pop, Urban and Dance.

 


Many people look up to those in the public eye as role models. With that being said, what kind of pressure, if any, do you feel about the way you represent yourself?
If anything, making sure I always remain true to be myself no matter what happens. I think a lot of artists become commercialized then end up having nervous breakdowns because they are portraying to be someone they are not. I promised that I would stay original and keep my moral values. Motto: Stay Positive Always. 

 

Can you tell us about what your fans can look forward to from you in 2011?
Stay tuned for my EP album coming out this February. 

 

Social networking has done alot to help artists in promoting themselves. What does it feel like to have so many interested in your music?
I love it. I have 100,000 Facebook fans who reach out to me all the time and help inspire me to make more music. 

 

Thanks for talking with us and continued success to you. How can our readers find out more information about you and your upcoming projects?
You can connect with me anywhere. Twitter.com/KDrewMusic,  Facebook.com/KDrewMusic, Myspace.com/KDrewMusic, and www.KDrewMusic.com

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Herschel Dixon: Pulling His Own Weight In The Fight Against Obesity

 

 by Cyrus Webb

The journey of Herschel Dixon is one that men and women across the world can relate to in some way.

Growing up, sports were more than just a hobby for the Cuba, Alabama native. Beginning at the age of four, he had found something he not only enjoyed but was good at. Growing up in Aurora, IL, he did well in school academically, but by the age of 12 or 13, he was already thinking of making football his profession in life. He trained hard, lifting weights and tried to take care of himself inside and out.

In high school Herschel was at the top of his game in football as a member of the Waubonsie Valley Warriors with numerous scholarships and college opportunities at his feet. By his junior year attending college at Western Kentucky his battle with his weight led to depression and threatened to derail his hopes for the future. But the worst was yet to come.

Herschel would not see his dream of playing ball professionally come to light. Though he left college,he didn't leave behind the eating habits that he had picked up. "Fast food was my biggest weakness," he confesses. "I looked at food as my way of escaping my problems instead of dealing with what was really bothering me."

By 2009, he found himelf married with two children and at a dangerous weight of over 380 pounds. It was at that point Herschel looked at his life and knew that he had to make a change. "I love my family with all my heart," he says, "I knew that if I kept on the path I was on, that I wouldn't be here for them in the future."

In August 2009, Herschel began to take steps that would change his life. After weighing his options, he decided to undergo the gastric band procedure, but he knew that was only a fraction of the equation. In order for him to make a real difference in his life, he was going to have to change his lifestyle as well---and that included what he put in his body.

Exercise, dietary supplements like Optimum Nutrition and making healther choices when it came to food became part of a new routine for Dixon. It also brought about a new mindset as well. "I look at food as something I have to do," he says. "I understand it's not my friend."

A little over a year later and after losing over 80 pounds, Herschel may not be playing professional football, but he is making the most of each day. The 31-year old is hosting his own weekly radio show called "Herschel D's Weekly Sports Wrap-Up" and is a supporter of literacy programs like The Write Stuff and even has his own project in the works called Read Or Die. Dixon even co-wrote the Hip Hop and Books theme song "Get Your Read On" that was inspired by Cash Money's "Get Your Roll On".

Success looks different to him now. It's not about a big contract or even fame. "Success for me is about being the best husband, father and individual that I can be," Herschel says. "I want others to be able to look at me and what I've done and say that I encouraged them in their own fight. If I can help others, then that is all I could ever ask for."
 
Herschel Dixon is a member of the Shadow Play Entertainment family and a sports contributor to Conversations LIVE Radio and Conversations Magazine.  He can be reached at herschel.dixon24@yahoo.com.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

(Feature) DAFNA MICHAELSON: Her Journey To All 50 States and Beyond



by Cyrus Webb

In 2009 Dafna Michaelson gained worldwide attention for her decision to visit all 50 states talking with ordinary individuals who were making a difference. The Denver, Colorado resident wanted to shine a light on the good that was taking place all around us that doesn't always rise to the level of media attention as the negative stories we hear so much about. The project was called the 50 In 52 Journey.

In the process of interviewing hundreds of individuals from all walks of life and sharing their stories with the world through blog postings, pictures and videos, Michaelson united a group of people that shared a common thread of wanting to bring out the best in those around them. This was no small feat for a mother of two who was able to accomplish this journey with close friends helping out with the planning and the assistance of social media and other helpful sites on the internet. The result has been not only a spotlight on what one person can do to bring about change. It has also shown how much more we have that unites us than separates us.

Having personally had the opportunity in late 2009 to meet Dafna in Pearl, Mississippi and be interviewed for the project, I was able to see firsthand the passion she had for what she was doing. It was obvious she didn't create 50 In 52 Journey for the fame. I believe if she had, there is no way it would have been as successful. I have no doubt that what she was able to do in one year was just Dafna being Dafna: a woman who believes that the good of the world is worth sharing, no matter where it might be or where it might lead us.

After all 50 states were covered by the end of 2009, the next phase of the "journey" was already taking shape and being announced. Dafna formed the Journey Institute to bring together thought leaders from across the country to address the problems she had seen while on the road. This was a larger effort to unite people who were tackling various issues and allow them to find solutions together. The family of problem-solvers was growing once again.

In explaining its existance, the Journey Institute's websites explains that "the 50 in 52 Journey project sought to bring awareness of people across America who have taken an idea to solve a problem or build community and turned it into reality. The Journey Institute will now seek to help those who have an idea for solving a community problem or in some way building community, but have no idea how to take the idea off the couch and into the community." Once again Dafna was urging the country to act.

Yet it wasn't just her efforts through the institute that she was contending with in 2010. As the year went on, the world learned that Dafna Michaelson the woman was going on a journey of a different kind in her personal life. With the threat of cancer in front of her, she made the decision to undergo a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy. "With two lumps just waiting to turn into cancer I had to act," Michaelson said regarding the discovery. "I could not afford to wait for the ominous day that my oncologist would declare me in active cancer."

As she had done before, Dafna allowed her friends and supporters to take this more intimate journey along with her through her blog postings and articles on Examiner.com. In one entry before the procedure she shared this: "I have written before about the discovery and the testing but have found it incredibly difficult to talk about, let alone write about, what is next for me. On the surface my results from testing were very good. After all, I don’t have cancer...yet. Yet. It is that very 'yet' that has left me in this limbo, this place of gamble... My oncologist, a phrase that still catches in my throat when I say it aloud, told me that I was looking at when I get cancer, not if."

After weighing the options before her and making her decision, Dafna Michaelson has once again rallied us in the way she attacks life and the problems we all face. What I'ved learned from her over the year or so since we met is the increasing power of One. When one stands up for what they believe is the right thing to do, others will know that they are not alone, no matter what the challenge before them.

It is with great pleasure that I announce that Dafna Michaelson is Conversations' Person Of The Year For 2010. We salute her not only for what she has done, but because of what she has urged us all to do and become. She is a model not just for her children or even for women. She is an example of what it really means to be humane, and the world is better off because of the journey she has started us on.

To see the recap of Dafna's journey complete with pictures and videos, visit www.50in52journey.com. Additional information about the Journey Institute can be found at www.journeyinstitute.org.
www.50in52journey.com

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Introducing The January 2011 Issue Of Conversations Magazine!

Shadow Play Entertainment is pleased to announce the January 2011 issue of Conversations Magazine will be available on Thursday, January 6, 2011. The theme? A Year of New Beginnings!

Cyrus Webb, President of Shadow Play Entertainment and Editor-In-Chief of the magazine had this to say about the new issue: "If people found the December 2010 issue informative, then the contents of the January magazine will surely blow people away." In less than two months, Webb has seen over 500 subscribe from all around the United States to the monthly magazine which gives you the best in the arts, books, fashion, health, food and entertainment. Here is what you can expect in the January 2011 edition:

* Falling In Love With You
* DAFNA MICHAELSON: Her Journey To All 50 States & Beyond
* A NEW BEGINNING: Conversations' 2011 Book of the Year
* Lesson From Toya Bryant's Disconnect University
* Mary E. Gilder's Motivational Message
* Bullying and the Act of Engagement
* Gail Ambeau's Definition of Style, Part 1
* Chef Bruce Tretter's Quick & Easy Cooking Tip
* "Prescription For Life" From Michele Howe
* PROFILE: Recording Artist K. Drew
* PROFILE: Rockin' The Nations
* MICHAEL SILAS: Dancing Into His Destiny
* Two Young Ladies Team Up, Urging The World To "Let's Stop Rape"
* Christopher Lakeith Price: Inspiring Others To Stand Alone
* PATRICIA SINGLETON: Using The Past To Brighten The Future
* Author M. Beatryce Shaw: Using Childhood Pain To Teach Lessons Of A Lifetime
* Jackie Carpenter's Bridge To A Miracle
* PROFILE: Author Stephen Jay Schwartz
* Ballin' With Books
* Singing Sensation B. Slade

To order your copy of the January 2011 issue of Conversations Magazine now for only $6.99 (shipping included), click here:
https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=ZV7JGFR7W4LY2. To get your 12-issue yearly subscription for only $24.99, visit www.conversationsmag.com.

Interested in advertising in an upcoming edition of Conversations Magazine or want to find out how you can be featured? Contact Cyrus Webb at cawebb4@juno.com or 601.896.5616.

Conversations Magazine: Feeding Your Love Of Life! www.conversationsmag.com

(Opinion) "Bullying and the Act of Engagement" by Anzour S. Jallouqa


"Bullying and the Act of Engagement"
by Anzour S. Jallouqa
Special to Conversations Magazine and www.conversationsmag.com

The need and desire to feel significant and superior has been -- always will be -- present in our society. Way too often, bullies are perceived as negative, self motivated types of individuals acting put toward others in an aggressive manner whether emotional, psychological or physical manner. They are perceived to be operating within a self proclaimed paragotive to some degree. However, I beg to differ -- as unconventional as that may seem to most -- and state that bullies are merely operating within a multi-facited system within society.

Therefore, I reference "Systems Theory" to stress my point and share my perceptive on the topic. Systems Theory may be defined as a transdisciplinary study of the abstract organization of phenomena. Mutually exclusive in their substance, type and/or temporal scale of existence.

Real systems are open to, and interact with, their environments, and that they can acquire qualitatively new properties through emergence, resulting in continual evolution. Social engagement between two or more individuals in an real system is continuously evolving and requires to recall or aggressive reformation to take place (no bullying in this type of a system). Rather than reducing an entity to the properties of its parts or elements.

Systems theory focuses on the arrangement of and relations between the parts which connect them into a whole (role assessments and labeling takes effect in this type of system structuring and bullying is often likely to manifest). Often times, a family and its member play roles within their household. Some roles are self-selected while others are undesirably attained through process of elimination.

I.E: Billy is a the eldest son in the family and wants to be a doctor. Therefore, Susie can not be a doctor and must consider picking another roles or professional in order to be an active member in her family and accepted by society.

Thus, bullies are often lacking affirmation and the attention of those who matter most in their lives (family, friends) or are in a constant state of disappointment and fear which causes them to lash out at others because they can not attain a sense of control intheir own personal household.

Consider this, a bully is constantly trying to supress their fear and redirect that fear toward aggression to feel significant. Consequently, as long as there is a desire for people to feel a sense of significance, the world will always have violence and bullies.

NOTE: The views expressed in this article by Anzour S. Jallouqa do not necessarily reflect those of Shadow Play Entertainment or Conversations Magazine. You can find out more about Anzour S. Jallouqa online on Facebook and Twitter.

A NEW BEGINNING: Conversations' 2011 Book Of The Year


(Sat., January 1, 2011) Shadow Play Entertainment and its subsidiaries are pleased to announce that their choice for Book of the Year for 2011 is A NEW BEGINNING by Alfred Langer.

"It was an obvious choice for us this year," says Cyrus Webb, President of Shadow Play Entertainment and Conversations Book Club. "Our theme for 2011 was "A Year Of New Beginnings". We want people to look at themselves, evaluate their circumstances and look at their past as a catalyst to do more in the future. Today is a new day, and everyday we are alive is a chance for a new beginning. With that in mind, Langer's book chronicles just that message and should give all of us hope for the future."

The readers of A New Beginning will experience a remarkable journey. Through the heart, mind and eyes of a young Alfred Langer they will have a new comprehension and understanding of the horrors of war, sense the tragedy of homelessness, and appreciate the reality of losing everything they own. But through the massive heartbreak and callous misfortune they will also be exposed to and learn unforgettable lessons of family values and uncompromising faith.

As reader Katy Chilcoat, in Columbus, Ohio recently observed, “A New Beginning is a powerful example of survival and overcoming rejection and seemingly insurmountable odds in order to achieve the American dream. Mr. Langer’s persistence and determination are not only extremely inspirational, but a study in personal responsibility. This is an important book, laced with stirring and touching motivation, which should be read by everyone.”


(Webb seen here with Conversations' Book of the Year, A New Beginning) Alfred told Shadow Play Entertainment that he was extremely pleased and enormously honored to have A New Beginning chosen as the Book of the Year. Many of his readers have expressed their thanks for his literary efforts and indicated that this is a book, which will touch your heart and stay in your mind long after reading the final chapter.

To celebrate the choice, Langer's book will be featured on all of Shadow Play Entertainment's main webpages. To find out more about Langer and the book, visit www.langersnewbeginning.com.

Listen to the author's interview with Cyrus Webb on Conversations LIVE Radio here.