Love Outside The Box: A Guide To Self Love by Deane Thomas

In his groundbreaking new book Love Outside the Box, author and relationships expert Deane Thomas encourages readers to begin their journey toward satisfying and permanent love by first looking within themselves.

The book is a treasure trove of excellent advice and commentary on the subject of love — both of self and others. And Thomas, through insightful commentary and personal anecdotes, will soon stimulate your own “out of the box” thinking on this critical subject.

“We learn from the moment of conception,” Thomas says. “But the constant within us remains a pure love energy. We are created in love, and our basis for existence is love. Indeed, the very essence of our creation is love.”

In addition, he asserts that love is a powerful energy that takes us over if we truly allow it to.

For generations, and, in fact, as far back as humans have roamed the planet, we have been trying to decipher and make sense of the emotion of love — with its myriad of manifestations and applications. In the final analysis, however, love is intensely personal and is the vivid force that speaks most directly to us — and to our souls.

A little further on in the book, Thomas asserts that barriers to love are everywhere and we must be constantly vigilant, lest we go astray in our search. “The current moment bears no relationship to the past,” he says. “But the ego-mind will use the past to torment the present and the future. This activity hinders us from truly experiencing what we should be encountering or feeling.”

He goes on to point out that, in times of crisis, we tend to go into defensive or offensive mode, and “our ego-mind comes out in its full glory.” This is, however, perfectly normal and to be expected. But it is how we follow through with our actions that determine a constructive outcome.

One thing is for sure, he adds. We can never regret anything we have experienced in this life. “There is no right or wrong,” Thomas says. “There are simply lessons we learn.”

Childhood should be a happy time, with liberal doses of love being heaped upon each and every child. But the author, relating that regular abuse — verbal and physical — was laid upon him in his youth, says that, sadly, unconditional love is increasingly not the norm around the world.

“The amount of time children spend in healthy loving environments is slowly eroding,” Thomas says, “which in the long term is not (going to be) beneficial for the evolution of the human race.” What happened to us as a child was not our responsibility, he goes on to clarify, and never will be. ”But, somehow, we have to make peace with this unhappy fact.”

The baggage we carry is so often not ours. ”We carry other people’s issues and opinions so that we may keep them happy, or protect them in some way,” he states. “Placing yourself first is the key to happiness going forward.” And, he adds, “You can decide who will be part of your life journey in the future.”

In the section on Spirituality and the Soul Journey, Thomas really drives home his theme of early childhood being key to future happiness in terms of self-love and feelings of self worth.

“Throughout the first years of life, we are NOT taught what love is; we are shown instead, through association and example from others, that love is associated only with an external existence and is shared between those with whom we are close (our family and friends). In effect, then, society is conditioning each and everyone, from the minute we are born, on what love is and how to express it.”

This can have a paralyzing effect on one’s ability to isolate and nurture our own unique love of self.

Finally, he suggests the benefits of doing a “life review” periodically, to make sure we are on track for prioritizing our efforts in our own best interest.

“Our days are somewhat congested with activities and tasks for others,” Thomas notes. So much so, in fact, that we have very little free time for ourselves. “The imbalance is very obvious if you consider all that you do on a daily basis. Perhaps this is an exercise we should routinely carry out, almost like a routine service on a car or something else we rely on in our life.

“This review is literally a snapshot of our life at a point in time, and this is the window of opportunity for change,” he concludes.

These comments are but a small sample of the sage advice and observations offered in Love Outside the Box. Thomas also includes in each chapter a unique and thought-provoking poem that reinforces the points made therein. Purchase your copy today and get started on balancing out your own love inventory today.

Amazon Link for Paperback

Amazon Link for Download (Available March 28, 2017)

Heartbreaker by Thomas Duffy

Amber Robertson has a problem. A very big one.

She’s handcuffed to the bed of a man she mistakenly thought just wanted to spend time with her. She can’t scream for help — no one will hear her. And she can’t run away. He is always between her and the door, even when she’s not handcuffed, which is hardly ever.

No, she’s stuck, until she learns all the “lessons” he says he wants to teach her. Oh, and then there’s the sex he demands now and then.

How did she get in this predicament? She was just trying to make enough money to pay the rent in her crummy basement apartment, working at a Brooklyn Target department store, when she got the idea to become an “escort.”

She thought it would be easy money. Now, perhaps a bit too late, she sees the error of her ways.

In this unique book about one girl’s struggle to find her path in life, author Thomas Duffy explores Amber’s problematic past as a troubled teen who used sex as a way to be liked. Kicked out by her parents, she moved to New York, hoping for a fresh start.

What she got instead was a continuation of the self-degrading behavior that keeps landing her in dysfunctional relationships.

It’s a fascinating read that follows Amber’s release from the weirdly empathetic kidnapper with a fetish for handcuffs to a chance meeting with a guy in a pizzeria.

Amber’s internal demons continue to dog her, however, into the ensuing relationship with Jeffrey, the man from the pizzeria. And, the dramatic denouement sees Amber caught in a web of her own devising.

Four stars to this startling piece of fiction, which takes the reader deep inside the damaged minds of the main characters and offers fresh insights into the motivations behind their often bizarre actions.

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The Gambit by Brad Carlson

It’s nearing doomsday in this fast-paced novel of international intrigue by first-time author Brad Carlson.

Israel and Iran are set to square off on the rapidly developing Iranian nuclear capability, and CIA operative Stonewall Jackson has been assigned to an elite Israeli team tasked with smuggling out the West’s chief source of intelligence on the threat. This they do in a quick, professionally executed extraction, and then, with their highly placed informant out of harm’s way, the Israelis strike hard and fast to neutralize Iran’s nuclear aspirations.

It’s a rowdy but highly competent unit that Jackson joins. Ben and Yoni are the lead and exec, respectively; Ayal is explosives; Jonah and Dov supply muscle and brains along with Levi, who also handles comm capabilities. And then there are Zivah and Dani — the only women on the team.  But don’t underestimate them; the last guy who had the temerity to tangle with Dani is now well and truly dead.

After the IDF forces execute their surgical strikes, the Iranians lash out at the U.S. Navy stationed offshore, sending 48 deadly missiles streaking toward the USS George Washington and her battle group. It’s a near thing, but the projectiles are swatted summarily from the skies and the Iranians are red-faced and fuming, though now largely impotent after being worked over by the combined military might of the U.S. Fifth Fleet and a swarm of fiery air support.

This is Tom Clancy-style adventure at its heart-pounding best, packed with plenty of knowledgeable references to current ordnance, weaponry and ubiquitous acronyms: CIWS (Close In Weapons Systems), AAWC (Anti-Air War Coordinator), and SAM (Surface to Air Missile), to name but a few.

Meanwhile, a covert Iranian operation known only as “Cyrus” is quietly getting underway on a series of remote cattle ranches in Nevada, Oregon and Texas. What are these decidedly illegal aliens up to? A battalion-sized force has been smuggled over time onto U.S. soil with a single objective in mind: inflict maximum damage to the Great Satan’s infrastructure.

What can Jackson and his team do to thwart this unprecedented invasion? While Beltway bureaucrats whine about not violating any civil rights in the hunt for these 500 battle-hardened Iranian soldiers, incalculable damage is done in their first carefully planned act of destruction.

The author brings to bear what clearly is a wealth of knowledge about just how America might respond to such a threat. His narrative is rich with been-there-done-that military allusions and incredibly detailed lingo about combat operations.

It’s a story that’s as relevant as today’s headlines and vividly points up just how vulnerable the U.S. is to another 9/11-style attack — although this is not a terrorist action. It’s what might conceivably happen if a determined foreign foe decides to wreak havoc on our sovereign shores.

And buckle up for the cinematic last few chapters. You won’t believe the Bruce-Willis-movie-calibre ending with righteous justice served up in true Special Forces fashion.

Five stars to The Gambit. Anyone who’s ever spent time in the armed services will feel right at home with the dialogue and kick-butt consequences that would await anyone foolish enough to threaten the U.S. mainland in such a manner.

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The Slave Boy by Murray Lee Eiland Jr.

More swashbuckling adventure awaits readers of this excellent sixth installment of the Orfeo Saga. In this thrilling tale, Daryush’s young friend Cyrus seeks excitement in the worst way — and that’s exactly what he finds.

Cyrus drags former comrade-in-arms Balik along with him as he travels to the lands governed by King Elazar. Then, through an unhappy encounter with the King’s ill-tempered wife, who is trying to escape, the two adventure-seekers wind up in chains.

But nothing holds the two intrepid travelers down for long. In a memorable fight of one against eight, Cyrus dispatches the heavily armed guards and frees not only his friend Balik, but all eighteen other slaves as well. They quickly melt into the surrounding hills.

Meanwhile, a particularly odious character named Asok, a minor prince in those parts, has his heart set on marrying a beautiful but willful young woman named Sharmilla. Determined to escape her fate, however, she dons a disguise and escapes, much to the wrath of her would-be suitor.

Cyrus and his cadre of ragtag warriors join up with a local army, where he rises quickly to command a troop of one hundred men. For his valiant actions, he is accorded the dubious honor of escorting the general’s sister through brigand-infested hills to her home in Talo Duro — many dangerous days’ away.

One night Cyrus is scouting near the camp for lurking attackers when he feels an arrow whiz by his ear. It’s a nearly fatal miss — thwarted at the last second by a dedicated slave boy standing behind Cyrus. The boy, in tears at the near-loss of his new master, is awarded a privileged place in Cyrus’ retinue.

There’s more than meets the eye here as Cyrus rushes back to camp to ready for an imminent attack. It’s high treachery that threatens to overwhelm the 20-man escort, and Cyrus lays his strategy carefully.

This marvelous book moves quickly from one precarious — yet unpredictable — situation to another. Cyrus and Balik get more than they bargained for as the adventures abound, and they finally see the lovely Arya — the general’s wife — safely to her home.

Later, through a plot twist so unexpected it will amaze you, Cyrus ascends to a position of high leadership in a city under siege. His exploits in defending the beleaguered citizenry and — more importantly — their beautiful queen, are the stuff of legends.

The Orfeo saga is a truly epic collection of tales brought vividly to life by gifted storyteller Murray Lee Eiland, Jr. and this singular narrative — while not really connected with Orfeo himself — nevertheless acquits itself admirably and takes a proud position of prominence in the popular canon.

Five-plus stars to The Slave Boy and its ingenious author.

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Readi- Set Go!: A Simple Guide to Establishing A Successful Small Business by Stephanie A. Wynn and Jeffrey White

There are many good guides for starting a small business, but first-time authors Stephanie A. Wynn and Jeffrey White have created a concise roadmap that stands head and shoulders above others in the genre.

The pair begin this book very logically with reasons why you — as a small business start-up — should pay attention to the overwhelming odds that you’ll fail. Ninety percent do, they say, primarily due to poor planning. They go on to give concrete — and very easy-to-follow — directions on how you can avoid the perils and pitfalls awaiting business newbies.

In short, if you follow the succinct advice laid out so well in this book, you’ll emerge victorious as one of the ten percent who celebrate their fifth year of business in the black.

Early on, Wynn and writing partner White stress the need for a concise, but well-thought-out, business plan, coupled with what they call a “Vision Board” to help you see clearly where you’re going — short-term and long-term. Without this vital visionary tool, you’re liable to wander far away from your original business objectives.

Other standout sections in this handy guide include a brief table that easily lets you decide your company’s legal status, and advice on creating your company’s “brand” — that key differentiating feature or benefit that makes your business, product, or service stand out among all others.

Rounding out this vital section is a checklist and twenty detailed, fill-in-the-blank questions to keep you on track and out of the proverbial ditch when starting out.

Next, Wynn and White lay out the importance of assembling the right team to ensure your success — both internal and external — that is, employees or business partners versus outsourced options, such as CPAs or Web designers – to give your online presence just the right glow of professionalism.

Next comes a rich resource list of folks who can be invaluable in helping reach your goals — from the highly acclaimed Small Business Development Centers scattered in cities across the country, to the National Association of Women Business Owners — a vital support group specifically dedicated to your success, if you’re a woman entrepreneur.

Of particular interest is the chapter on Social Media and Your Business, in which the authors lay out some very specific guidelines, information and advice on how to succeed in cyberspace — an absolute necessity in today’s tight business environment.  “With the click of a mouse, your website can be viewed by millions of people around the world,” the authors point out. “A savvy business person understands this and seeks new and creative ways to stand out in order to increase their website traffic and internet presence.”

Rounding out the book’s invaluable advice is a discussion on the vital importance of professionalism, even in the face of rude or uncooperative clients or customers, and the key role played by a vigilant attention to first impressions. “By changing the perception of your business, you can demand a higher price for your services and people will pay accordingly,” the authors assert.

And, finally, there’s a special focus on an aspect of business success too often overlooked by entrepreneurs — the notion of making adequate provisions for life after retirement. The authors outline such key elements of a retirement plan as a possible Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) for you and those working with (and for) you and investment options you might use to grow your money over time.

Five-plus stars to this outstanding little primer on how to succeed in business. In fact, if you only buy one book on making your small business successful this year, Readi- Set Go should be it.

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Postmodern Deconstruction Madhouse by Peter Quinones

In this choice collection of esoteric stories, the reader is treated to some truly terrific examples of short form fiction. The fact that you must pack your dictionary in order to navigate its loquacious literary terrain is a small price to pay.

In the very first story, for example, we meet the first of author Peter Quinones’ quirky characters, a stunning young dispute resolutions specialist who introduces the concept of proxemics to us as she boldly boffs her fifty-something lover in his posh Big Apple apartment with the drop-dead views. Don’t know what proxemics are? Not to worry. It’s way secondary to enjoyment of the vignette, which, like so many of these tiny tales, leaves the reader hungry for more.

In another story, a thoroughly likeable character with the unlikely name of Dixie Demando fantasizes each day as she commutes to work on the Staten Island Ferry about a young man she knows only as The Boy. She rehearses opening lines for their fated first meeting — a fait accompli, as far as she’s concerned — while making memos on her cell phone about her newest character-building exercise: writing letters to famous dead people. Oh, and the big word to take away from this tale is mithridate, which apparently means to seek protection from or guard against — something Dixie needs to do with regard to her irresponsible sister just in from the West Coast.

These stories are wildly inventive and bursting with the brand of raw humanity found nowhere but on the streets and in the subways of New York City. Indeed, anyone who loves Manhattan will get a vicarious thrill through the author’s encyclopedic knowledge of the great metropolis’ lesser-known byways and offbeat haunts.

The writing is first-rate as well. Witness this succinct summary of one principal player:

“Plowfinger was a silver ponytail with fingernails about a month beyond the clipping limit that most of us would categorize as comfortable, and a black and red checked lumberjack shirt.”

Each story is a fresh foray into the short fiction form. The plotlines are solid and the characters are cunningly wrought to deliver maximum impact.

Consider, if you will, the chapter entitled “Postmodern Deconstruction Madhouse (I),” in which no fewer than 27 pages are devoted to “Explorations of the one sentence short story.” This clever collection of story starters include the following lines that truly titillate:

“A lover who tells you they don’t care about money will lie to you about everything else as well.”

“We spend one seventh of our lives on Tuesdays.”

“Breaking boldly, forthrightly, with established traditions, Jack Baldi created new frameworks and perspectives hitherto unavailable to the hula hoop merchant.”

And, our personal favorite:

“She has the kind of face a caricaturist can draw perfectly with three lines and a swoosh.”

Finally, there is the curious account of the posturing art and film critic who spends much of his time in the story either suffering from the palpitating nearness of a fellow gym-goer, or analyzing the relative merits of Sam Peckinpah films ad nauseum. Still, the author, speaking through his erudite character, manages to channel John Updike to best advantage when he recalls for the reader one of the literary great’s most underappreciated character descriptions: “Brent, a pleasant enough, rapid-speaking fellow (had) the clammy white skin of the library-bound and the stiff beige hair of a shaving brush…”

Ah, so much rich fictional fodder, so little time.

If you’re a serious writer — or ever want to be — there is much to learn from and admire in this eclectic collection. The author’s ability to deftly place his outre protagonists in unexpected circumstances never fails to delight, entertain and — through the deliberate use of fifty-cent, multisyllabic modifiers — even educate the reader along the way.

Five-plus stars to Postmodern Deconstruction Madhouse. It dares to delve into a difficult literary form, and does so with deceptive ease and skill.

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14 Steps to Self-Publishing a Book by Mike Kowis

So you’ve always wanted to write a book, but don’t know where to start?

Here’s an essential 14-step guide for anyone who ever harbored a secret ambition to become a bestselling author. (Don’t scoff — many previously unpublished people have done just that with the combination of a catchy title, a better-than-average book concept and cover, and the help of an easy-to-follow guide like this one.)

Successfully published author Mike Kowis shares his formula in exhaustive detail — including a comprehensive breakdown of steps from first idea to first book sale.

There’s even a handy checklist at the back of this book to make sure you’ve got all your bases covered.

Kowis’ writing style is informal and frank as he goes well beyond the theory and generalizations prevalent in so many other guides to self-publishing.

He lays out exactly what he spent — and to whom — on his journey from mild-mannered tax lawyer (by day) to college professor and published author (generally by nights and weekends).

He is the first to admit that self-publishing can come with a hefty price tag. His first book, an award-winner entitled Engaging College Students: A Fun and Edgy Guide for Professors, ran well into the thousands of dollars to write, edit, produce and market. But, by using his own 14-step roadmap, his current title has cost only about twenty percent of the first book.

You can be the beneficiary of this wealth of authorial information just by downloading it today for less than the price of a McDonalds Happy Meal. It’s also available in paperback.

Among the highlights:

Strong advice against trying to go down the self-publishing path without adequate outside help — everything from editing to cover design to professional reviews (like this one — thanks for the Shout-Out, Mike!)

A series of vital Pro Tips, such as: “Beware of vanity presses and scam artists that promise to publish your book at egregious prices and under predatory terms.” Indeed, there are many charlatans out there only too willing to part you from your publishing dollar. Don’t let them.

Decide where you want to sell your book and in what formats. Doing a bit of due diligence, researching your intended market — along with your competitors — will pay real dividends down the road.

Kowis imparts his Top 10 pearls of wisdom on the process of self-publishing. Some of them may surprise you, but they all are eminently instructive.

And, finally, the Amazon edition comes with many invaluable live hyperlinks to resources like the U.S. Copyright office, a YouTube video that explains how to buy a domain name and build a website for your book, and others.

In short, before you ever seriously consider sitting down to write a book — whether it be a nonfiction manual like this or the infamous Great American Novel — you need to read this conversational, yet fact-filled primer on self-publishing.

You’ll be glad you did.

Amazon Link