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Friday, May 20, 2011

Dr. Jeanelle Lanham: Showing Young People How To Live With S.W.A.G.


by Cyrus Webb for Conversations Magazine

If there was an individual who understood the tough times that today's teens are dealing with it is Dr. Jeanelle Marshawn Lanham. The Marion, Indiana native has had to contend with her own feelings of insecurities as well as those heaped upon her by those around her. It was only with time and the belief in herself and her ability to make a difference that she was able to keep those naysayers from destroying her dreams altogether.

Today she is using her resources and her own personal journey to help young people, and young boys in particular, to realize their own potential and give them the motivation they need to keep going when others tell them they should just give up. Now living in North Glendale, AZ, Dr. Lanham is living proof that hard work does pay off and she wants to show others how they can live their lives with "S.W.A.G."

Here is our conversation.

Jeanelle, thank you for taking out the time to speak with us. You have committed your life to working in bringing out the best in young people. We'll talk about your current projects in a moment. Why don't we begin, though, by talking about your own evolution in life. When you were growing up what were some of the challenges you faced and had to deal with?

Growing up for me, was very interesting because although I had good times physically I was traumatized mentally. I was bullied my whole life by family, friends, enemies which eventually grew into my own thoughts. They didn't hit me to hurt me but they did use their words to make me feel horrible but they would say it was "ok" because they were "just playing"!

When I was 7 years old a cousin of mine told me that "everything bad that happens around me was my fault" because I told her this guy was going to fall off his skies, and he did. At the time I believed her and struggled with it for all of my early years. My family teased me for being the skinniest by saying that I was adopted and my mom would say my kisses taste like dead birds. Friends would say I was ugly, boyfriends would compare me to other girls. I felt so bad i wanted everyone to like me and it seemed like no one ever did. I had dreams of success and my friends (even NOW) always tell me I dream too big and that I'll "never" be "that"! It was all mental abuse I had no idea how to combat until my mid 20's when I started attending WCCI then World Changers Church in Atlanta Ga, Pastor Creflo Dollar. He taught me How to Trouble My Troubles and I knew I needed to share it with teenagers; they Should Not Have to WAIT until they were adults to learn that important information. It's my duty to share this knowledge with them and I know how to in a way that rocks their world & SWAG appears! 

Some have a hard time coping with adverse situations. Was it difficult for you to come to terms with the hand you were dealt in life?

It was at first because I felt it unfair that people treated me so mean when all I ever tried to do was try to please others and make them feel good about themselves. One day I had an epiphany and decided i didnt like feeling this way and I wasnt going to use my past as an excuse not to succeed, so i started renewing my mind!

What motivated you to move on and forward in spite of your difficulties?

The dreams that kept coming up in my head. I would always day dream and see myself more than what I was at the time and more than what others said I would become.

Jeanelle, it's one thing to find a way to cope with your own woes in life. It's a totally different thing to want to help others as well. When did you realize that what you had been through put you in a unique position to be of assistance to others?

I realized i was in a uniques position to assist others when I heard others speak of the same feelings they had as a teenager that I felt and needed a solution, a solution I have.  I really realized I had an opportunity and "talent" to help Teen when I had kids and saw Them go through the common Teen Challenges. I now had the chance to use Programs I had created to have proof to be an affective way to get positive results! Once I saw the transformation in my boys I knew that I had to share my Programs with every teen and parent i meet.

You said to me in a conversation recently that having sons have influenced your decision to want to work with boys. Can you share why with our readers?

Did you know 4 out of 5 boys 13 - 19 says "When their mom compliments them they feel more confident in what they do"! When a Mother tells her son(s) how special they are and that they have worth their behaviors improve and treat others, especially the opposite sex, with respect. And after having my boys I realized it was true. I also found it a challenge finding things for them, whether it was buying clothing, finding places specifically for boys to hang out, to finding anyone that gave them sympathy or empathy when in trouble; it was nothing like the opportunities and options available for girls. When my youngest son had challenges at school (because he had ADHD) it was handled differently because he's a boy; most teachers, especially, looked at boys as a nuisance and was less likely to encourage them but would rather yell, confess something negative over them and then shun them. I noticed that when ever a boy made a mistake that mistake would exemplified compared to if the mistake be made by a girl. Human nature, unfortunately, sees boys as destructive, emotionless, and even heartless at times and that's not the case they have feelings too! I knew boys needed an advocate; they deserve to get the same positive attention, events, mentoring as girls do and it became my passion  i realized that when I or another female complemented boys they felt much more confident than when a male complimented them and I decided to use that for their good!


What are some of the projects you already have in place to help and encourage young people?

I have a Teen Book Ive written "Teens Learn to Trouble Your Troubles" available on my website, Amazon and Barnes and Nobles. The book gives teens tool to overcome bullying, depression, avoid teen pregnancy, respect authority and more. I started a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Teen Cafe - "Hodge Podge the Teen Cafe™" currently online soon to be in a physical building. Our website offers group counseling and one on one. We have Q&A on Twitter every week to stay interactive. We help teens overcome the challenges they face that are "real" to them. This is our "S.W.A.G Camp™" - this is a program that will be available next summer. Its a 8 week Teen Program created to show teenagers the special qualities/talents within them ultimately encouraging them to walk with S.W.A.G (Strength Wisdom Assurance Greatness). We are starting a Teen Radio Station giving our teens a chance to express themselves musically as I know the importance of the Arts. Our unique activities cater to each gender as well as interest because we know that each needs the same encouragement, just in different ways.

Jeanelle you have made yourself available to do public speaking, not just for the youth but adults as well. Was that an easy decision for you to make, and what's been the response to some of the things you have shared?

It was easy because I understand that it was important to encourage the parents too. They also need assistance raising teenagers because it's not the easiest but it can be less stressful. In the end I want successful families that will continue to pass down to their kids what they've learned from myself and our Programs. My goal is to help everyone involved in the lives of teenagers! The response has been great, sometimes my honesty can leave a little sting but once it's gone their minds are changed and renewed and they appreciate it.

You know as well as I do that the internet has been a major factor in the lives of young people today. How are you using it and social networking sites to reach your target audience?

Yes the Internet has been a major factor in the lives of our teenagers like the computer was to our generation. Unfortunately, the Internet has been tainted and gotten a bad reputation due to cyber bullies and inappropriate material on the Internet but it has its good side too. Since I know teens text, surf the net are active on such sites as Twitter & FaceBook I use these and my Blogs to make being online a positive experience. I post uplifting quotes, I even answer questions to some who live in other countries, I give solutions instead of answers. BUT MOST OF ALL IM VERY REAL AND HONEST TO TEENS. I use the Internet as a tool to let teens and parents know they are not alone.

The summer is upon us, and it is during this time that our young people will definitely be tested. Many may feel as though they are going through situations alone. What would you say to them, and what can all of us do to help the younger generations in our own community.

Yes the Summer, a time parents worry most about keeping teens busy entertained and out of trouble. Until I am able to open a Hodge Podge in every state I suggest they come to my sites to find helpful tips on what to envolve their teens in. Ask local churches or schools to have camps longer than a week; give them more to do, things they like to do. Involve them in the planning process; their minds because their brains are growing, and it needs to be exercised like a muscle in order to grow to great capacities. if we occupy their minds with positive things they wont think and eventually do the negative things. 

Thank you for all you are doing, Jeanelle. Continued success to you. How can our readers find out more information about you and your services?

Thank you for having me. And for your readers, they can contact me at www.TheSWAGDoc.com  or www.HdgPdg.com  or 480.389.3894 for inquiries about Speaking Engagements, Counseling (group or individual) and our Teen Programs. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

AGELESS JOURNEY by Helene Weinberger

(May/June Conversations Magazine)

What really matters on my "aged" birthday? For one magical moment I share time with my great-granddaughter, 19 months old, who scrawled a "frog" to greet me - a special memento! And our weekly breakfast, always the same, but the ultimate expression of time fully shared and enjoyed!

And the remarkable cards from people who always reach deeply into my soul, like Maya Angelou's words, "A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer; it sings because it has a song!" For this one moment I am that bird and that song!

Or my "adopted" son's comment: "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning how to dance in the rain. ." This is the year that I shall perform that ritual dance! Or from my very intellectual cousins who have an exciting life of concerts, theatres, and books - who wrote: "It's not age or appearance or lifestyle that makes a person young. It has a lot to do with attitude
and openness to life and reaching out beyond yourself. It's something that many people never figure out, but, lucky you...it's what you're all about."

It matters not that I'm a year older, and a trifle more slow in my responses! Or that my limbs will not always behave as I wish them to?

Not at all! Life moves on; we change and grow with the years, or we decay and refuse to more forward!

In essence, we are all one, doing the best we can with what has been apportioned to us; it is our challenge each day to create our own sunshine and warmth, to share with those who live in our own small firmament!

Helene Weinberger is a 87-year old World War II veteran that devotes a great deal of her time to volunteering. You can contact her at hmwtcb@gmail.com.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

(Tues. June 28, 2011) MS Welcomes NYT Bestselling author Wahida Clark


Conversations Book Club is excited to announce that New York Times Bestselling author & the first lady of Cash Money Content Wahida Clark will be visiting the state of Mississippi for the first time on Tues. June 28, 2011. This is in association with the author's JUSTIFY MY THUG tour and is a one day only event!

Conversations Book Club President Cyrus Webb has coordinated the schedule for Ms. Clark and welcomes all readers from books clubs and reading groups from across the state and beyond to support this historic visit.

"This is something the state of Mississippi will not soon forget," says Webb. Since Nov. 2006 he has coordinated over 90 author events in TX, AL, TN, LA, GA and the Magnolia State, including the only book tours for recording artists and authors Corey "C-Murder" Miller and Jacki-O. "We are excited to be working with Ms. Clark and Cash Money Content/Simon and Schuster in making this visit possible."

Below is the public schedule:

--- 9:30-11am., "Breakfast with Books" (Subway Restaurant * 112 Service Dr. *
Brandon, MS )
--- 1-3p.m., Meet & Greet/Signing (Medgar Evers Library * 4215 Medgars Evers Blvd *
Jackson, MS)
--- 5-7p.m., Booksigning (Borders Bookstore * 100 Dogwood
Blvd
* Flowood, MS 39232

The host bookstore for Ms. Clark's visit is BORDERS BOOKSTORE (100 Dogwood Blvd * Flowood, MS 39232).

For questions about any of the events, contact Cyrus Webb at cawebb4@juno.com or 601.896.5616. You can also visit www.thebestbookclub.info  or www.wclarkpublishing.com .

JOIN THE ADDICTION: Get hooked on books!

Monday, May 16, 2011

SPOTLIGHT: Celebrity Photographer Anthony Tilghman


by Cyrus Webb for Conversations Magazine

Anyone who has ever thought you can't have your cake and eat it too obviously hasn't met Anthony Tilghman. He has been able to take his passion for all things unique and beautiful and harness it into a business that has ripples from his base in Washington D. C. around the world.

Whether he is photographing another influential client or noteworthy event or assisting in brand development and marketing, Tilghman seems to be able to do it all and do it well.

I had the opportunity to interview him for the radio program Conversations LIVE, and it was obvious that the reason he has found success in his life is because he has learned how to get out of his own way. In this interview with Conversations Magazine he talks about that journey, what pushes him and what he has to say to those who wish to follow in his footsteps.

Here is our conversation...
 

Anthony, I think once people take a look at your website and view your work, one word that has to come to mind is passion. You definitely love what you do. When did you develop that passion?
I think I developed this passion a long time ago when I wanted to be different and stand out from the rest. My major focus is helping others excel in what they do cause I don't want to be known for just take photos or marketing. I think it goes beyond that, and show others that you can set out to do what you wanna do if you work hard and be patient for the results.

I know from an interview with you for Conversations LIVE that photography is something you have only been doing for a few years, but you couldn't really tell by the success you have had. Tell our readers how this chapter of your life began. 
Well photography starting about 2 1/2 years ago when I use to work with alot of photographers and they didn't really see what I was looking for in the imagery. So I decided that I had to take myself to the next level and start doing photography myself. I have worked with alot of great photographers so i know the move was going to be hard, but I was determined to make it happen, learn the ropes and set out to be a great.

Branding is important for anyone who is serious about their career path, but attaching yourself to successful brands is also a plus. How much do you think having recognizable names acknowledge your work has benefited you?
Well of course having a recognizable name helps your brand, but also having the determination to work at developing yourself can help also because alot of great people didn't always have that fame and they started out just like everyone else to become that brand they are now. I would just say u have to be focused and work at establish yourself and it will work out.

You have gone beyond photography. Tell us about some of your recent ventures you've been involved in.
I want to be known as a brand, so I took the things I love which are fashion, beauty and marketing. I started my woman's clothing line Elegance Collection which is something I always wanted to do. I love seeing beautiful women looking nice yet elegant about their appearance. I added photography and marketing to my portfolio, because I want to help others become the best and use marketing and social media to establish their brand and accessibility beyond the local perimeter.

Looking back on everything you've done, what have been some of the highlights for you?
U know what's funny: I think my biggest highlights of everything I've done is the learning experience, because I remember sitting and thinking of my next move everyday and just making it happen. I have done alot in the past 2 years and so, but the most rewarding part of everything I do is looking back and realizing it happened and I am proud of the results.

We all have our highs and lows from day to day, whether we love what we do or not. Like it or not, we are going to have bad days. How do you stay motivated?
Well the best way I try to stay focused is to just keep thinking of different ways to be creative and market myself and my brand and know that its takes effort and hard work to be successful. I have already been at rock bottom before so I am not planning on going back.

Is there anyone you want to work with that you haven't had a chance yet?
My dream is to work with Halle Berry because she stays elegant, and I love the way she presents herself. I would love to work with her to create a image of what she represents which is beauty yet elegance in her day to day appearance.

Anthony, there will be some who are reading this that are not doing what they want to do or have a passion for. What would you tell them in regards to whatever their passion might be?
Well I believe that everyone has a talent, and I have a saying that I often say on twitter which is "You can meet alot of talented people but the most talented person you meet everyday is Yourself.."

Thanks for your time, Anthony. How can our readers stay up on everything you are doing?
Well you can always catch up with me on Twitter (@anthonytilghman) and also visit my website everyday at www.anthonytilghman.com and check out my work and also read my blog.

Friday, May 13, 2011

PROFILE: Author Russell Brooks


Russell, thanks for talking with Conversations Magazine. I think it would be good for us to begin by talking about your novel PANDORA'S SUCCESSION. How did the idea come about?
Thanks for inviting me for an interview, Cyrus. The idea for Pandora’s Succession came after the events surrounding the Tokyo Subway Sarin Gas Attacks in 1995. When I learned that a cult was behind the terrorist attacks, I was amazed at how a single cult leader could be so powerful as to brainwash so many people into following him and committing such horrific acts. Even more shockingly in 2001 was the Anthrax-mail attacks, perpetrated by military scientist, Bruce Ivins. The stories were so incredible that they appeared, in my mind, to come straight out of a thriller novel. I spun my own twist on both of those events and came up with Pandora’s Succession.

Are your family and those who grew up around you surprised that you have a book published?
My family knew that from the time that I was 12 years old, I was drafting a novel. So I don’t think that they were surprised because they knew me as a person with goals. I’m like a bulldog, once I sink my teeth in, I won’t let go.

What about yourself? When did you realize that this was a dream that you wanted to see realized?
Storytelling has always been an interest to me since I was in elementary school. When I didn’t read one in front of the class, I’d write my own for fun to share with my classmates. In grade six, my French teacher, Ms B├ędard, spotted me with something that I wrote on paper (yes, written, because I didn’t have a PC nor a dot-matrix printer back then)—stapled together to look like a book. She took it and read it to the class with great enthusiasm. She then led the class into applause and encouraged me to keep writing, telling me that she looked forward to the day that one of my books would be published. That’s when I decided to keep writing whatever was in my imagination. I’m glad that I didn’t stop.

Going back to PANDORA'S SUCCESSION what do you hope readers take away from it?
I just want readers to be on the edge of their seats and have so much fun reading the story that they’ll tell their friends and family about it. There aren’t any hidden messages of any sort for anyone to discern.

What should our readers be reading next from you?
I have a short story suspense trilogy called Unsavory Delicacies that is now available through Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com, and Smashwords.com as an eBook. I’m also putting the finishing touches on a mystery/suspense novel, my second after Pandora’s Succession. Expect it to be available by December 2011. The best way to keep up to date with what I’m doing—from new releases to any special events that I’ll be taking part in—would be to join my mailing list at www.russellparkway.com or join the Russell Brooks Fans page on Facebook.

Thanks again for your time, Russell, and congratulations on what you have accomplished. How can our readers take in contact with you?
Your welcome. I hope to do this again soon.

Josh Hadar: Creating Beauty, Awareness One Piece At A Time


"Artists have a responsibility to not only create visually pleasing installations but also a social need to be leaders in the environmental movement and I hope that my work will not only excite the art community but also inspire change."
--Josh Hadar


Josh Hadar is the Founder and Owner of Hadar Metal Design , an eco-conscious design group that creates one-of-a-kind custom bikes and environmental installations. Josh began Hadar Metal Design after a storied career as a proprietor in the nightlife and theater worlds. Through ownership of those venues, Josh's love and appreciation for design grew to new heights and Hadar began pursuing a passion for metal sculpture.

His early work with reclaimed building materials and broken bicycles from the streets of New York developed into an exploration of the relationship between biological and technological forms. Hadar was drawn to the art of metal sculpting by its structural fluidity and lack of strict aesthetic rules, which encouraged the self-taught artist to learn the particulars of metal design in order to create original installations. Eventually, Hadar learned so much through experimentation that he began making hybrid bikes, for which he envisioned glass, rather than metal, gas tanks. To realize his vision, Josh spent a few weeks training and eventually learned how to blow glass.

Hand blown glass gas tanks are not the only element of Hadar's design installations that are infused with meticulous attention to detail. He also shapes metal without any heat or electric equipment (often around lamp posts, trash cans or trees), the leather is hand stitched and each step involved in the creation process is intended to reduce energy emissions.
Today, the team at Hadar Metal Design is working to develop new sculptural art installations that bring evolving environmental technologies to the forefront of the art world. The shop is fully equipped with solar power and is exploring new applications of alternative drive systems and power sources for their bikes and tricycles. The results of this work has earned an enthusiastic and diverse global audience of fine artists, craftspeople, environmental scientists, engineers, technicians and social activists who bring their knowledge and energy to the development of new projects. Josh Hadar and Hadar Metal Design will continue to create intelligent, visually stimulating, functioning works of art that will remain eco-conscious and culturally admired as he persists within the design industry.
 
For more information and to view Josh's work please visit:
http://hadarmetaldesign.com/

Choosing Life Over Death: "The Karli Butler Story"


by Cyrus Webb (May/June Conversations Magazine)

It has been six years to the month since the incident that changed Chicago native Karli Butler's life forever. It was at that time that she was drenched with acid and expected to die a painful death. The person that survived that vicious attack and that exists today is a woman who understand the importance of life and how none of us can afford to take even one day for granted.

When her story was brought to my attention, I couldn't help but think about the challenges in our lives that sometimes want to make us just give up. Karli Butler's experiences will cause you to rethink all of what you think you know about life and what really matters. We had a chance to talk about the life-changing experience, remolding her way of thinking and living afterwards and how she now looks at each day.

This is The Karli Butler Story. Here is our conversation.

Karli, thank you for sharing your story with us. Take us into the incident that reshaped your life.

In 2006, I was brutally attacked twice. The first attack on March 15, 2006, began with a violent beating that escalated to kindapping by three male attacker. It occurred in the enclosed parking garage of my condo building and thankfully, I was able to escape from tge trunk of my car while it was in motion. During the second attack on May 25, 2006, I was held at gunpoint by two women and doused with acid. Consequently, I was severely scarred physically and emotionally. I spent six and a half weeks in the Intensive Care Burn Unit and endured over a dozen surgeries. As I'm sure you can imagine, I was totally confused as to why I was attacked. It turns out that I was attacked because of my boyfriend at the time. I was informed by the police that he was allegedly involved in some illegal street activity and they concluded that instead of the people he'd upset retaliating against him, they retaliated against me. I was guilty by association.

When you look at what has happened to you in the past, what keeps you motivated today?

 I've finally accepted the fact that bad things happen to good people every day and I just happened to be one of them. What mattered most when I was attacked was not what happened to me, but how I handled it. Knowing that I have the power to make positive changes in my own life is something that motivates me on a daily basis. Once you've come close to death you realize you only get one life and you've got to either fall to pieces or make the best of it.

You said in an interview with Goddess Magazine that "It's not what happens to you; it's how you handle it.  You can turn that negative into a positive." That is not an easy revelation to come through, especially when you have gone through something as devasting and traumatic as you. How did you get to that point?

It definitely wasn't easy. I had some really dark days that I hope to never experience again. After finally going home from the burn unit, I was angry with the world. I was angry that I was scarred, I was angry that I was in pain, I was angry that my life had changed dramatically, but I was most angered by the fact that everyone else got to move on with their lives except me. That anger and resentment only dragged me down. After watching the news and hearing about other stories of people who weren't as fortunate as me to make it through, I realized that I was being ungrateful. That anger and hatred wasn't doing anything positive for me. It was kind of like an "aha" moment and it was then that I decided that I didn't want to live like that anymore.

One of the things you have done as part of your emotional and maybe even spiritual healing is to share your story with others. Why has that been important to you.

When I first started sharing my story with others, I got a really strong reaction like, "Wow! Really?" It was almost as if my listeners were hearing the story of a hero--someone I did not identify with. I had no idea that I'd done anything special. I'm able to laugh about it now, but I jumped out of the trunk of a moving car because I wanted to live. Wouldn't anyone do that to save their own life? I still have trouble thinking that I've done anything special. Today, I've become more accepting of the power of my story. I get so much positive feedback from my audience that it reminds me that I've done the right thing by sharing my story with others. When I first started speaking I had no idea that something as small as telling my story would be both emotionally healing and empowering for ME, as well as postively impact others. It's transformed my life in ways I'd never imagined and I'm so thankful. As a survivor of violence, I feel empowered to have a voice. I can tell MY story on MY terms and no one can take that away from me. I think that's important for anyone who's been victimized.

For our readers we are looking at 2011 as a year of new beginnings, a time to reset our lives and the things under our control. With that in mind, do you feel as though each day is a new beginning for you in a sense?

Absolutely! Every day we have the opportunity to grow and change. It's never too late. Just imagine if you did not have tomorrow. What regrets would you have then?

Alot of our readers are dealing with their own personal demons, those seen and unseen. What advice would you have for them when it comes to how they treat each day that they have been given?

I try my hardest to be my best self everyday, but it doesn't always happen. No one's perfect, so forgive yourself if you forget or get consumed by the daily grind. What's most important is that you value you your time here and make the most of it according to your standards. I think we'd all be remiss to believe that we're the only one with issues. Everyone has issues of some sort. After coming so close to death, I really appreciate my life so much more now. I'd strongly advise everyone to remember that you don't know when it's your time to go, so appreciate every second because it could be gone just as quickly.

Thank you again, Karli for sharing your story. How can our readers find out more information about you and how they can get in touch with you?

Thank you for allowing me to share with you. You asked some very insightful questions, so thank you for pushing me. Readers can follow me on Twitter @KarliSpeaks or join my Facebook Group called "Acid Attack Survivors." I'm also a motivational speaker, so please consider booking me for your next event. I speak about everything from dating violence to forgiveness to self-esteem. My publicist, Briahna Gatlin, can be reached at 312-480-8700. Thanks again!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Her Bright Light: A Look At Bestselling Author Danielle Steel


by Cyrus Webb (May/June Conversations Magazine)

One of the great things about what I do professionally is the opportunity to meet fascinating individuals who I in turn can introduce to my readers, listeners and viewers. Sometimes it is someone in the public eye but Conversations has also brought attention to ordinary people who are doing extraordinary things.

When it comes to writers, it is no secret to many who know me that I have a "Wish List" of authors who I would love to talk to about their journey and success. At the top of the list of those I haven't yet interviewed are Stephen King, Judith Krantz, Jackie Collins, Dean R. Koontz and Danielle Steel. Each of them have influenced the literary community in so many ways and thrilled millions of readers for years.

WHY DANIELLE STEEL RESONATES

Ms. Steel has managed to do what so many desire but never achieve: she gets to the heart of the reader, forming a connection that is not only genuine but something that people of all walks of life can relate to. Her stories are not just about the glitz and glamour of a world seemingly beyond our grasps. They are accounts of those who know what it's like to love and and experience loss as well as the great things that are available in life.

For her, these are just extensions of our own life experiences. For all of her success--with over 600 million copies of her books sold---she has known the challenges that life can bring, including the lose of a son. Instead of shutting down and allowing the world to consume her, she pressed forward and strived to do more. When it came to the loss of her son there seemed to be only one way to proceed. "I wanted life to become bigger, not smaller," she said in an interview with NY Daily News in Oct. 2008. "All of us (the family) have been on missions to do good works because of him." Her book HIS BRIGHT LIGHT tells the story of her son's life and death.

It is that determination that so many of us love about her characters and her as well. And when there is a Danielle Steel book turned into a movie, we all watch because we know those characters are going to speak to us in a way that will help us keep our own lives in perspective.

MS. STEEL'S MESSAGE TO ME

Periodically I send an email through Danielle Steel's website highlighting my feelings towards her books and what I feel as though she has done for individuals like myself who have traveled the world through her characters. She has over 70 titles in print, all of which have become bestsellers. I have read and own over 30 of her titles (see below). Though I knew she is not quick to do interviews, I asked for what I believe is the fourth time for the opportunity to talk with her on my radio program. It was a long shot, but I am never afraid of a challenge.

Well, imagine my surprise when I was opening my email recently and got the following from Ms. Steel herself:

"Dear Mr. Webb,

"Thank you so very much for your lovely letter about my books, which has
just been forwarded to me. I was very touched to hear how you have been
reading them for twenty years and what they have meant to you. It's a real honor
to hear that you run a book club and my work produces so many interesting
discussions. I write the stories with caring and heart, and I like to think
my readers enjoy them in the same spirit.

"I'm sorry that I almost never do interviews or public appearances, although
I do appreciate your kind invitation. Thank you again for sharing your
good words with me. I appreciate hearing from a reader like you, and I send
your book club my warm regards.

"With best wishes,

"Danielle Steel"


I can't really tell you what this email meant to me, but it really illustrates why I do what I do. You never know what you can accomplish with a little hard work. True, I still don't have my interview with Ms. Steel (not yet, at least), but my perseverence is definitely paying off. This is a lesson that I hope others will recognize in their own lives as well.

Though I look forward to the time when I can tell her personally, for now I want to say here to Ms. Steel: Thank you. Thank you for being a person that is devoted to her craft and the objective of giving readers something they will remember long after the book is closed. Thanks for approaching life in a way that is thoughtful yet allows all of us to remember our own mortality and importance of living each day to the fullest. I think most of all, I thank you, Ms. Steel, for sharing all that you are with the world.

To keep abreast of Danielle Steel's latest work, visit www.daniellesteel.com.

 

Discussing "A New Self, New World" with Author Philip Shepherd


by Cyrus Webb (May/June issue of Conversations Magazine)

Like many of you I have gone through times in my life when I felt as though I either needed a fresh start or at least the opportunity to rebook. When I read the book NEW SELF, NEW WORLD by author Philip Shepherd I became aware of the fact that for some this is a literal process while for others it can take a psychological and even spiritual journey.

In this conversation with the Canadian native he shared with me how his travels began years ago and why by looking at the world with a renewed sense of purpose we can do the most good.

Philip, thank you for taking out the time to talk with us. As you have traveled around the world and gotten to know yourself better, when did you decide you had to share some of what you had learned with others?

That actually happened about 25 years ago, when I began teaching workshops to help people learn how to center themselves in their bodies.  So many people were out of touch with their own creativity, and didn't know how to remain present, and it was exciting to see that what I'd learned could make a significant difference to them.  Along the way, I probably learned as much as they did.  In fact, the impetus for my book really came out of those experiences as a teacher.

Writing can be such a personal process for some. Was it easy for you to share what you had discovered and what's surprised you the most about the response?

What was difficult was working my way through to the sort of clarity that made my discoveries easy to share.  I mean, to discover something for yourself is one thing – it has a certain resonance for you – but to find the clarity that enables you to share it with others requires a relentless questioning.  You need to ask all the questions they might ask, until finally what you are sharing can stand in its own integrity.  That's why the book took me ten years to write.  And I suppose what most surprised me about the responses I've had from readers is that the book – which after all is merely words on paper – has had such an effect in helping them to provoke real shifts and insights and renewed experiences for themselves; that those words can help readers reunite with the intelligence of their bodies.  It's amazing to me that books can do that, and it's why they remain such a potent part of my life.



For those who haven't read it, the book is called NEW SELF NEW WORLD. Tell our readers what you hope they take away from it.

Well, the book shows how our culture has developed a story about what it means to be human – and it's a story we've been developing for over 10,000 years; but because each of us has lived in it and absorbed it since childhood we don't see it, or rather we mistake the story for reality itself.  So it's like an invisible force in our lives that affects everything we do and think about, and because it's so hard to question what you can't see, we tend to remain trapped inside it.  And unfortunately it's a story that disconnects us from ourselves, our neighbors, our community and the world of nature.  So the book exposes that story, and its long history, and readers find that it's an immense relief to recognize its hold on their personal lives, and liberate themselves from it, because that allows you to come home to yourself, and home to the world around you.  And that's my hope, really, that readers would take away from the book a renewed sense of themselves and of the world they live in.

Throughout the book you talk about the importance of standing still and absorbing what is going on around you. Why is that important, especially since all of us live such hectic lives?

One of the major effects of our culture's story is to make us live in our heads, which means we are always doing, doing, doing, in a way that is disconnected from our being.  That disconnection has come to feel normal to us, but actually, it's a killer.  I mean, it starves the soul to the point we may even forget we have one, and it leads to actions that are damaging to 'being' in general – to the being of those we live with, and to the being of the world that sustains us.  As a culture, we have lost the skills that would allow us to just 'be'.  And you cannot 'be' if you are living in your head; you cannot reason your way into the present.  Being present really requires that you drop into the receptivity of the body – drop into a place of utter stillness deep in your core – and fall in love with the transient moment. 

I had the pleasure of interviewing you for the radio show as well, and in that last conversation we talked about faith. Share with our readers the role that faith continues to play in your life today.

There's a line from my book that states, "There are no obstacles, there is only guidance."  The soul is a little like a lump of bread dough.  The deep, all-aware, mindful present will knead and pummel and stretch your soul in order that it might rise and grow into the warmth of the world's glow.  If you don't recognize that, then the kneading will be mistaken as something that hinders your journey or keeps you from it – when it is actually the journey itself.  If you resist its compassionate challenge, the wheel will get stuck.  But once you recognize that the kneading is the guidance necessary to move your soul nearer to the world's light, you can actually celebrate it.

With the book reaching readers around the world, Philip, what's next for you?

The next phase is actually underway.  Since January I've been giving talks and workshops based on the book, and I love introducing the material to people, and helping them recognize divisions within themselves.  And sometimes those divisions have held people back from a full experience of their lives for decades.  Anyone who grows up in our culture is susceptible to them.  But I've found that the workshops can initiate a transformation that undoes those divisions, precipitating real change – life-altering, long-lasting change.  To help facilitate that in people is just thrilling.  So I've been traveling across the country, and Canada as well, giving the talks and the workshops, and I hope to continue doing that for the foreseeable future.

Thank you for your time. How can our readers find out more about the book and yourself?

There's lots of information on my website philipshepherd.com  It has stuff about me, the book and the workshops. It also has the book's Foreword by Andrew Harvey, the Introduction and the Table of Contents, so people can read those and get a feel for the book.  They can also visit the Facebook page for the book. Thanks so much, Cyrus, and all the best.

Conversations' 50 Summer Reads of 2011


by Cyrus Webb for Conversations Book Club/Conversations Magazine

What does it take to be a great Summer read? For me the book has to be entertaining, educational and worth my sharing its message with others. In the past, Conversations has recognized 25 titles that I think would be perfect to take along with you during the Summer months and enjoy during your down time. Since I am celebrating my 36th birthday in July of this year, I then thought it would be fun to extend the list to 36 titles worthy of your consideration. So how did I end up with a list of 50? To be honest, the roster of authors I have had the pleasure of reading over the past year have made it much too difficult for me to narrow it down any further.

Here you have the titles that I have personally read and enjoyed and believe you will as well. For the first time in the 4 years I have compiled this listing, I am also including the publisher's information. Why? Because I think they deserve credit for producing what I consider to be amazing books. As is my custom I put all books on a level playing field, meaning you will find self-published authors here as well as established authors. This is important, because I think it shows how the world of publishing has changed and that what matters is not how you are published but what you are publishing.

Enjoy this roster of non-fiction and fiction titles, and make sure to let the authors know that you appreciate what they are doing for the world through books.


NON-FICTION TITLES (Listed in no particular order)

"The Paper Garden", Molly Peacock (Bloomsbury)
"A Happy You", Elizabeth Lombardo, MD (Morgan James)
"Pharoah", DaPharoah69 (KOE Publications)
"Lord Jennings", DaPharoah69 (KOE Publications)
"Sue Ellen's Girl Ain't Fat, She Just Weighs Heavy" , Shellie Rushing Tomlinson (Penguin)
"The Warmth Of Other Suns", Isabel Wilkerson (Random House)
"Miracle Man", Robert B. Haas (Bascom Hill)
"Black and Bulletproof", Marcus Hardie (New Horizon Press)
"Evel", Leigh Montville (Doubleday)
"I Had Every Excuse To Fail, But I Chose None", Sebastian K. Young (Skybash Publishing)
"Running Scared", Robert Leon Davis (Kregel Publications)
"Soulshaping", Jeff Brown (North Atlantic Books)
"Life Is What You Make It", Carl Mathis (Tate Publishing)
"Year Of Our Lord", T. R. Pearson (Mockingbird Publishing)
"What Every Fat Girl Wants", Roxanne Harris (Unknown)
"Expand This Moment", John Selby (New World Library)
"Bad Dog (A Love Story)", Martin Kihn (Pantheon Books)
"The Way Of The Happy Woman", Sara Avant Stover (New World Library)
"Incognito", Michael Sidney Fosberg (Incognito, Inc.)

FICTION TITLES (Listed In No Particular Order)

"The Loss Of Certainty Series (Jackson/The Gamble/River Rising)", T. P.Jones (Synergy Books)
"Journal Of A UFO Investigator", David Halperin (Viking Publishing)
"Soul Trapper," F.J. Lennon (Atria)
"In The Shadow Of Swords," Val Gunn (Errant Press)
"More Boy Than Girl," Tony Lindsay (Penknife Press)
"The King Of Diamonds", Simon Tolkien (St. Martin's Press)
""Heartbreak Of A Hustler's Wife," Nikki Turner (One World/Ballantine)
"Private Sessions," Nigel Barto (I Universe)
"The Kitchen Daughter," Jael McHenry (Simon & Schuster)
"The Disgruntled Wives Club," Portia A. Cosby (Distinct Publishing)
"Dancing Her Dreams Away," Alretha Thomas (Diverse Arts Collective)
"Come Sunday Morning," Terry E. Hill (Urban Renaissance)
"Diary Of A Stalker," Electa Rome Parks (Urban Renaissance)
"Witches Of East End," Melissa de la Cruz (Hyperion)
"The Map Across Time," C.S. Lakin (Living Ink Books)
"Suspicions," Sasha Campbell (Dafina)
"Killing Them Softly," Roy Glenn (Escapism Ent.)
"The Butterfly's Daughter," Mary Alice Monroe (Simon & Schuster)
"Just Wanna Testify," Pearl Cleage (Ballantine Books)
"L. A. Summer," Sheryl Mallory-Johnson (Wanasoma Books)
"The Murderer's Daughters," Randy Susan Meyers (St. Martin's Griffin)
"Contrary Creek," Tom Walker & Mary Walker Baron (Wheatmark)
"Exposure," Therese Fowler (Ballantine Books)
"Caught In The Middle," Jennifer Luckett (nHouse Publishing)
"Split Second," Catherine Coulter (G. P. Putnam's Sons)
"Finding Frances," Janice M. Van Dyck (Winston Higgins Press)
"Now You See Her," Joy Fielding (Simon & Schuster)
"Stalina," Emily Rubin (Amazon Encore)
"Southern Discomfort," LaTonya Jones (Plenary Publishing)
"The Dawn Country," Kathleen O'Neal Gear & W. Michael Gear (FORGE)
"The Sandalwood Tree," Elle Newmark (Atria)

Our Summer Reads Of 2011 will be included in our Summer Issue of Conversations Magazine that is being released on June 13, 2011. Find details at www.conversationsmag.com.

To find out information about past titles featured on Conversations' Summer reading list, visit www.thebestbookclub.info. CONVERSATIONS: Feeding Your Love Of Life!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

PROFILE: Discovering Your Amazing Marriage with Jason Coleman


by Cyrus Webb (for the May/June issue of Conversations Magazine) www.conversationsmag.com
 
As someone who has never been married I don't even attempt to try and understand the challenges that today's couples face. If you look at the statistics, over half of all marriages fail. Why? There are many factors, but for me I always try and look towards the solution instead of focusing on the problem. For that I am happy to know individuals like Jason and Debby Coleman.
 
They have faced the highs and lows of life as a couple and understand firsthand how difficult things can be. What I love about them, however, is that they didn't allow the bad to outweigh the good in their relationship and they fought against all odds to make their marriage work---and that fight continues today.
 
How were they able to move forward when so many have given up? I asked Jason Coleman that question and more as I tried to understand and better appreciate how they made the decision to use their experiences to help others.
 
Here is our conversation.

How did your wife and you come to the decision to write the book DISCOVERING YOUR AMAZING MARRIAGE?
About four years before it came out Debby got the idea for the book while we were at a conference in Cannon Beach, OR. We were listening to a preacher talk about theology (at a Bible college level) and she had tuned him out and her mind started wondering. She says it was during that message God gave her the basic principles and outline for the book. Later that day she told me she thought we should write a book on marriage and I told her she was crazy! We put the idea on the shelf as something we may consider in the future and didn't discuss it again for about a year.
 
During that time we had been meeting with five couples that we know on a semi-regular basis and had been mentoring them and giving advice on their relationship. One night while having coffee and discussing some of the problems these friends of our were dealing with, we decided that it was time to share our experiences and advice. Over the years people have come to us and have asked us what we do in our marriage that is so different. People have naturally been drawn to us and have asked is what "it" is that we have that they don't have. We decided to write the book to encourage others that marriage is worth fighting for and the choice to love one another and stay together "no-matter-what" is worth it. If people can relate with some of the problems we have overcome, perhaps we can encourage them and help them discover how amazing their own marriage can be.
 
Considering the personal challenges that you all had experienced in your own marriage, how did you decide what you were going to share in order to provide the most help to readers?
This was our biggest decision and one that didn't come easy. Initially we wrote about our experiences and problems with only vague references to the depth of our problems and didn't actually talk about the infidelity. We offered solutions to our problems but didn't specify the extent of our problems. We were having coffee with some close friends of ours and we asked them to read several chapters of the manuscript and give us some feedback. Mark, in his wisdom, leaned back after reading chapter one and said, "You guys haven't been through anything. What credibility do you have to help other couples when your problems are only minor disagreements and inconsequential fights?" He challenged Debby and I that if we really wanted people to listen to our advice, we have to let them know that we've been through the fire and have dealt with some of the most destructive behaviors and choices and have overcome tragedies.
 
Debby and I discussed in great length how much of our "dirty laundry" we would share with our readers and decided that Mark was right; you can only lead someone as far as you've travelled yourself. We revised the manuscript to include more about the infidelity we faced as well as the communication problems we had to overcome. At the time we decided that it would not add any value to the book or our solutions if we identified who the cheating spouse was, so those details were left out. I figured most people would assume it was me who had cheated, but discussing the affair in that specific of detail wasn't necessary.
 
After the book was released, we were doing a live radio interview in Seattle and to my surprise, Debby shared with the hosts and listeners that she was the offender in the affair that it was time to come out and talk about our problems in full. Since then we have discussed the affair in much more detail in radio interviews and conferences we've spoken at, and we have found that our transparency has allowed us to help others more effectively and has opened up some excellent conversations and dialogue. When people hear that we've restored our relationship from the brink of disaster and have endured nearly every marital challenge from financial stress to extended illness, rebellious children and even infidelity, it resonates with people that maybe, just maybe, there is hope for their marriage as well. The best part of this experience is hearing stories from people who have read our book and have applied some of our suggestions and strategies, and are seeing positive changes in their relationship.
 
The book really champions the power of communication in helping you have a great relationship. Why do you think this has been such a problem for couples.
We believe that the majority of relationships suffer from poor communication and unmet expectations at times. When we have expectations of one another that are not met, the instinctive reaction is disappointment, which develops into anger, and then bitterness and resentment sets in. Most often this disappointment, anger, and bitterness can be avoided if we discuss our expectations in advance. I believe couples, or people in general, have a problem with communication because of insecurities and a lack of trust. They feel insecure and afraid to be honest with their partner when it comes to discussing expectations and many people don't know how to communicate their feelings. We have discovered over the years that communicating our needs, desires, and expectations to one another in advance has helped us avoid fights and disappointment.
 
Another strong factor in your personal marriage has been faith. Do you think you would have been able to overcome the obstacles that presented themselves in your life if you had not relied on a higher power to see you through it?
Our faith has played a key role in our lives and our relationship and no, I do not believe we would have survived the infidelity as well as other problems if it wasn't for our faith in God. We know there is nothing we can do to make God love us more, and there is nothing we can do to cause God to love us less. Understanding the power of forgiveness and restoration has been a powerful factor in allowing us to overcome the infidelity and the numerous problems we faced. We acknowledge that people worship in various ways and their faith may differ somewhat from ours, but since our faith plays such an important role in our lives we can't share our story without mentioning the complete forgiveness and the power of God in changing lour lives.
 
For those that are reading this and finding out about your book for the first time, what would you say to them about why if they are either dating or already married they need to pick it up?
We certainly don't claim to have all the answers or a "quick-fix" solution to a struggling marriage, but we have endured so many challenges and problems early in our relationship and may have made so many different choices if we knew then what we know now. Our desire is that people can read our story and relate in some way with the challenges we overcame. If our example can help someone avoid making similar mistakes, our purpose will be fulfilled. Our book isn't necessarily for people with struggling marriages only, it can be used for encouragement to strong marriages as well as newlyweds. In fact, at book signing events we have sold more books to be given as gifts at weddings than to people looking for answers to their own marital problems.
 
Thank you, Jason, for opening up and sharing with us. How can our readers find out more information about you and the book as well as order online? 
Our website is www.youramazingmarriage.com and our book is available on amazon.com as well as most major online retailers. Your readers can also ask for it in their favorite bookstore. There are links on our website to previous radio interviews and articles we have written. We would love for your readers to send us some feedback on how they are overcoming problems in their marriage, or contact us with questions they may have. "Discovering Your Amazing Marriage" is available for the Kindle and Nook as well as in paperback.

AUTHOR DAVID A. ROSS: Fulfilling His Literary Destiny


by Cyrus Webb for Conversations Magazine (May/June 2011 Issue)

Author David A. Ross has garnered quite a following not only because of his writing abilities but his desire to help others fulfill their literary dreams as well. After learning about him about a year ago, I was able to connect with the author early in 2011 thanks to Facebook and invited him to be a guest on the radio show and then Conversations Magazine. He accepted both invitations, and the result of the latter is the conversation you are about to enjoy here.

Joining me live from his home in Greece, Ross talked about how his journey as a wrter fulfilled the dream the wish of his grandfather, his novel THE VIRTUAL LIFE OF FIZZY OCEANS, the internet and the future of publishing and why you might have to wait a while for the next David A. Ross novel.

David, thanks for taking out some time to talk with us. Before we get into your
newest book, share with our readers when you first realized you had skill with words.


Thank you, Cyrus, for the opportunity to connect with your readers. I think I
have always had a way with words. I was a pretty precocious kid, and my father sometimes
became exasperated with me for talking too much. I was not the epitome of the child who
should be seen and not heard. Once I began writing at the age of eight, I taught myself
cursive before I learned it at school, just so I could write my stories faster than by
printing out the words. By the age of nine I had quite a collection of stories, which my
aunt kept until her death. Another interesting thing, that I learned much later, is that
my grandfather always wanted one of his children to become a writer. None of them did,
but I fulfilled that wish a generation later.

Looking back over your career thus far are you surprised that you have been able to
stand the test of time and changes to the publishing industry when so many have not?


Standing the test of time is a matter of love of the art, perseverance, and maybe
a bit of stupidity. I am a lifelong artist - not only as a writer but also as a musician
and a photographer. I'm fifty-eight now, so I guess there is no turning back. You know,
the years just seem to pass. Over those years I have watched many in the arts throw in
the towel - mostly to make a better living. To be committed, as I have, to writing, one
must be willing to sacrifice (to a certain extent) some of the material pleasures
available to those who do not work in the arts. Maybe that is a sad fact, nevertheless a
truth. However it has turned out on a commercial level, I cannot imagine having taken any
other course. I have no regrets.

As for the changes in publishing, I could not be more thrilled with what is happening
these days. The move from print to digital publishing has saved not only my career as a
writer, but many others, I suspect. Over the past thirty years, the large publishers have
moved from quality publishing, where they nurtured and developed writers, to bottom line
publishing. I think this has had a devastating impact on the literary arts. The door was
closed to many fine writers simply because they could not produce the type of economic
return that the big publishers were looking for. What developed, I think, is a void. I
can name no less than thirty superstar writers who were publishing their novels during
the 50s, 60s, and 70s - people like Mailer, Kerouak, Saul Bellow, Kurt Vonnegut, Philip
Roth, Joe Heller and many more - but today you would be lucky to name two of that
stature. That void was created by the 'economic' rather than the literary model of
publishing. EBooks and open source publishing has changed all that, and I think we are in
for a literary renaissance something akin to what happened to music in the 60s and 70s.

Your book THE VIRTUAL LIFE OF FIZZY OCEANS manages to marry the real world that we have to contend with each day and the reality we are able to create and enjoy thanks to technology. Where did the idea for the book come from?

Quite simply. I have Philip Rosedale, the creator of Second Life, to thank for
the inspiration. That and the fact that a good part of my own life is lived each day in
the virtual world.

When it comes to technology and more specifically social networking, how do you
think it has aided in your connecting with fans and marketing yourself to new readers as
well.


Again, it is an absolute necessity. Facebook, I think, is the greatest marketing
tool to come along since television. And it is interactive. I believe it accounts for a
good number of my book sales.

David, aside from your own career as a writer you have been cultivating other
literary talent as well. Why is that so important to you?


Simply because I can... As I said, I think there has been a long dry spell in
really good literature, and I also think the time is right for new writers to emerge. My
own voice is not the only important one, so I try to help others along the path. So many
really creative people are just waiting for a chance to be heard, and if I can help them
achieve that, I am more than happy to give my time, experience and effort to that end.

Could you give us an idea of what we should be on the lookout for next?

As far as another novel, I'm not sure whether or not I will write one. Usually, I
take at least a year off between major writing projects. The Virtual Life of Fizzy Oceans
took three and a half years to write. It also represents more than a million words
published for me. So I'm not sure anyone really wants to hear more of my particular brand
of lunacy. Right now I'm concentrating on publishing other writers. I take a lot of
satisfaction from that effort.

Thanks for your time and congrats on your success. How can our readers stay in
contact with you?


My door is always open, Cyrus. I suppose the best way is to 'friend' me on my
Facebook page: David A. Ross. Or anyone can drop me a message at: david@corfumagazine.com

Cash Money Artist and Urban Author Collab On Literary Soundtrack



It all began with a chance meeting over two years ago, now Young Money Cash Money
Billionaire's recording artist Big Chief and Mr. Mean Mug, author of TATTOO TEARS, are announcing their collaboration on a book/mixtape combo called Eat Greedy Girls: The Last Supper.

"Big Chief was doing a concert at this venue,and I was doing a booksigning at the
same event," says Mean Mug, explaining how this all came about. "Chief's
manager had read my book TATTOO TEARS and knew who I was. After meeting, Chief and I
decided we wanted to work together in some way. I asked him if i can write his story, and he said go ahead."

That was in 2008. Now the result of that partnership is Eat Greedy Girl. "The book
Eat Greedy Girls is about five different women who have all different types of walks of life," says Mean Mug. "Eat Greedy is about determination to get what you want.
These women are all working to get what they want by any means necessary. You can be a doctor, lawyer, stripper, teacher or whatever. Eat Greedy is about going about what you want do the fullest."

What is the connection with Big Chief and the book Eat Greedy Girls? Chief's label is called Eat Greedy Boyz, and he has even recorded a song called I NEED AN EAT GREEDY GIRL. The Cash Money recording artist is also the star of the book.

With a blazing mixtape soundtrack to accompany it, this is one literary release that will definitely have the music industry buzzing. For more information about The Eat Greedy Girls project, contact Mr.Mean Mug at mugtheworld@yahoo.com or visit
www.facebook.com/mrmeanmug817. Interview request for the project can be directed to Cyrus Webb of Shadow Play Entertainment at cawebb4@juno.com or 601.896.5616.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A MOTHER'S LOVE: The Nathan Lev Story


by Cyrus Webb

It was really by accident that I even came across the story of little Nathan Lev of California. That is, if you believe in such things as accidents. I was reading tweets from people I follow on Twitter one day and saw where a recording artist named Sterling8 had posted a website of a boy who while battling cancer was producing artwork for those contributing to his treatment. That was all it took to get my attention.

After going to the website www.nathanlev.com, I was introduced to the story of seven year old Nathan Lev and his family's war with the cancer attacking his young body. Just months before I discovered him, Nathan had been diagnosed with leukemia. Through the website visitors were able to find out more information about Nathan and his family, view some of his amazing artwork (and that of his mother) and contribute towards his treatment and other expenses.

Seeing an opportunity to use the platform I have on the radio as a way to bring more attention to the Lev's story and share their journey with my audience, I reached out to the family. Little did I realize it at the time, but Nathan Lev was about to take me on a journey that would show what it really meant to live and appreciate life.

It was Ziva Lev, Nathan's mother, that answered my email, and since day one we became friends. She expressed appreciation for my reaching out to her family and for the chance to tell our radio listeners about her son. I think one of the things that first struck me about her was the ability she had to be empathetic towards others, even in the face of the challenges in her own family. Once she realized my grandmother was under my care, Ziva began to inquire about her health. As we were finalizing the interview, one of the last things Ziva said to me was to give my Granny a hug and kiss for her.

I knew at that point that the Levs were a family that would be a part of my life for quite some time.

May 29, 2010. That was the day Ziva Lev discovered that her loving son Nathan had leukemia. It was that day when the family's life changed.

"It was traumatizing when we got the news," Ziva told me. She then went about the task of educating herself and her son about the disease.

From the beginning Nathan's attitude was the same as it remains today: he was going to beat cancer. It was not going to beat him. Even with his positive attitude, though, it was not going to be a journey without its share of difficulty and challenges. In fact, Nathan has almost died three times since the fight began.

One of the side effects of the treatment was Nathan losing his hair. Ziva told me that at some places he would go into individuals would give him free things. This wasn't something Nathan always enjoyed. When she asked why, he told her something I find profound: "They weren't seeing me," Nathan told her, "they are seeing cancer."

For the Levs, life has new meaning, and for Nathan in particular every day is a precious gift. "He has an appreciation for life that most adults don't have," Ziva says. "He wants everyone to know that cancer is not him, and he isn't cancer. This disease hasn't taken his power."

What an amazing way to look at life! Instead of focusing on the hard times, we should look at the possibilities still available to us.

"He's a blessing, " Ziva said to me. "I feel blessed." May we all appreciate such blessings in our own lives.

Visit www.nathanlev.etsy.com to see some of Nathan Lev's artwork.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Conversations' 20 Must-Read Books For Young Readers, 2011


Conversations' 20 Must-Read Books For Young Readers, 2011 


by Cyrus Webb (appears in the May/June Issue of Conversations Magazine)

When it comes to books for children and young readers Conversations and parent company Shadow Play Entertainment are committed to celebrate titles that both entertain as well as inform. As summer approaches, this issue seemed as good of a time as any to recognize some of the books we have enjoyed and recommend as well as the authors and publishers that made them possible.

These are what we consider must-reads, and it is our hope that you will give them some consideration as you make plans for this summer's "To Do" list (Listed in no particular order at the link below):   http://conversationsbookclub.blogspot.com/2011/05/conversations-presents-20-must-read.html

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Cyrus Webb Celebrates 5 Years Of Conversations


Shadow Play Entertainment is pleased to announce that the April/May issue of Conversations Magazine is now available.

"There is so much going on with the Conversations brand that it's hard to not be excited everyday," says Cyrus Webb, Founder and Editor-In-Chief of the magazine. "With this milestone, however, this issue is pulling together some of the best interviews and features from over the years as a thank you to our readers."

This issue features Webb's interviews with award-winning playwright/actor Tyler Perry, authors Brandon Massey, K. D. Koratsky, Jaime Rush, Sheryl Mallory-Johnson, April Mahoney, Jerry B. Jenkins, Christopher LaKeith Price, Gary Mex Glazner, Father Andrew Greeley, Johnny Rico and Juan Gomez-Jurado as well as recording artists K. D. Brosia.

This is also the first time in the publication's five years that Webb has been featured on the cover of the publication. "It was not an easy decision to make," he says. "I have always tried to not become the story of the magazine or any part of what Conversations is. I think the guests are the stars, and I try to treat them as such. This issue, though, is my realizing that I have been given a gift to share with the world, and that is my mission each and every day.

The issue is $6.99, shipping included, and is available at this link: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=BN38S86WTXVY8.

The Conversations Brand includes book clubs, the magazine, radio show and television show. For more information, contact Cyrus Webb at cawebb4@juno.com or 601.896.5616. Additional information can also be found at www.conversationsmag.com or www.cyruswebb.com.