Monthly Archives: January 2015

Interview with Douglas Gardham, author of The Actor

Title: The Actor
Author: Douglas Gardham
Publisher: iUniverse
Pages: 352
Genre: Fiction
Format: Ebook
Purchase at AMAZON

It is 1991 when Ethan Jones finally wins the role of his dreams in an upcoming, big screen movie. With the envelope holding the script clutched in his hand, he arrives at his California apartment where he can hardly wait to tell his girlfriend the exciting news. But when he finds the door unexpectedly ajar, he has no idea that in just a few seconds, the life he has fought so hard to obtain will be shattered. Eight years earlier, Ethan is attending university in Ottawa, Canada. One evening after seriously contemplating suicide, he finds his way into a club where he meets Mila Monahan, a beautiful acting student who saves him from himself. After he watches Mila rehearse a university play, Ethan catches the acting bug and decides to pursue his own creative passions, causing a collision with his more secure ideals. But when Mila suddenly disappears, Ethan vows he will never stop chasing the dream she inspired in him, believing in a world entirely different from the one he is living in. The Actor is a gripping tale of a young man’s unforgettable journey of self-discovery in overcoming the trauma of a personal tragedy. It is a story of love, hardship, persistence and overwhelming joy where The Actor learns he can portray anything he can imagine.

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What was the hardest part about writing your book?

Understanding what the story was really about. I wrote it as one pursuing something they loved to do but wanted it to be more. Editing the original manuscript of 800 pages down to a more manageable 400 pages.

Do you have a favorite excerpt from the book? If so, can you share it?

“Good try, but you’re not getting off that easily,” Mila added. “What about your drama class in high school? You didn’t continue ’cause someone said you were good in science, right? … The sciences always win. It’s like the arts don’t matter in the real world, and it’s the only thing that’s real.”

What do you hope readers will take away after reading the book?

That life is a journey no matter where you’re at in your current circumstances. Being well and mentally healthy is more important that almost anything else in life.

Who or what is the inspiration for the book?

The inspiration for the novel came from seeing the Titanic movie when it first came out. I became fascinated by what someone would go through—the ups and downs—of getting up from what they were doing and chasing a dream.

Have you had a mentor? If so, can you talk about them a little?

I can’t say I really have a mentor outside of my mother and father. My father demonstrated work ethic and commitment and to do what you say your going to do. My mother showed us the importance of family and self and you can do pretty much whatever you set your mind to.

I have heard it said in order to be a good writer, you have to be a reader as well? Do you find this to be true? And if you are a reader, do you have a favorite genre and/or author?

I don’t know whether reading determines whether you’re a good writer or not, but I don’t know how I could be a writer without reading. One leads to the other. (Good is subjective and determined by the reader.) First, I don’t know how I would know about writing without having read. Second, for me at least, learning to write happens in many ways through reading. Could one play and create music without listening to music? I suppose you could but I’d wonder how you’d even know what it is. I don’t think the converse is true that everyone who reads is a writer. I love reading that’s both entertaining and thought provoking. My reading is wide ranging. Thrillers, horror, fantasy. I do read non-fiction, mostly history. I’m fascinated by creativity and science and marrying the two together. Stephen King is one of my favorites who inspired me to write and I’ve read since high school. I love the classics—Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Melville. There’s so much.

Douglas Gardham is a writer who loves music, movies, and books. He lives near Toronto, Canada, with his wife and dog. This is his first published novel.
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Mother of a Millionaire by Raoji Patel

Mother of a MillionaireTitle: Mother of a Millionaire

Author: Raoji Patel

Publisher: iUniverse

Pages: 238

Genre: Biography/Autobiography

Format: Ebook/Paperback

Purchase at AMAZON

Children of Indian descent often move to the United States in search of a better life. Other Indian children, born in America, are often materially successful, but they lose touch with the values of traditional Indian culture, including a deep love and respect for parents and gratitude for the parents loving sacrifices to aid them on their life’s path.

In Mother of a Millionaire, author Raoji (Ray) M. Patel provides insight into the issues, both Indian children and their parents face, as they make their home in a new country with different customs and ways of living through eleven short stories. In some stories, a spouse’s selfishness creates a rift within the family. In a few cases, the sons rebel against the parents’ interfering ways, and they grow apart from their parents, or they simply banish the parents from their lives. In other stories, a father slips from his patriarchal responsibilities, creating family discord and a loss of respect.

This collection of short stories shows how Indian parents strongly believe forgiveness—one of the most difficult challenges to face—makes one happier and healthier and frees one from sin. But as an ancient Indian scripture says, forgiveness is “the greatness of the great” because it creates unprecedented greatness in the forgiver.

 

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Raoji (Ray) M. Patel earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering from MS University of Baroda, India, and a master’s degree in industrial engineering from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Patel is a retired small businessman cum engineer, and lives in Northern California with his wife Sushila and two adult children.

Raoji is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

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Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Amazon Gift Certificate or Paypal Cash.
  • This giveaway begins January 266 and ends on February 6.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on Monday, February 9.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!

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A Sweet Little Dream by Morgan Straughan Comnick Book Feature

A Sweet Little Dream
Title
: A Sweet Little Dream

Author: Morgan Straughan Comnick

Publisher: Paper Crane Books

Pages: 210

Genre: Short Stories

Format: Kindle

This collection was born thanks to adventures to magical places that my youthful imagination crafted, a royal decree that henceforth let me be known as “The Queen of Details,” and a very energetic “role model for today’s youth.” Writing had always been a comfort, a way of expressing myself since my voice was locked tight due to shyness. But because of these events, gifts, professors, and people in my life, light was shed on a pathway to writing as a career. In this collection, you will find works mostly from my high school years, exploring an array of genres. You’ll learn about my younger self–both child and teen–who made me the woman I am today. It all started with a notebook, a pencil, words of encouragement, and a sweet, little dream.

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  • A Sweet Little Dream  is available at Amazon.
What is your favorite quality about yourself?I try to see the good in everyone, showing kindness and respect. I know every person shines brightly like a star, is beautiful and has their own glow to contribute to society.  I want everyone to see that.

What is your least favorite quality about yourself?

I do not have much confidence in myself and get scared easily. My shyness and being too nice has burned and harmed me as well.

How long have you been writing?

Professionally, I signed my contract with Paper Crane Books on February 2013 and my first novel, Spirit Vision, was released that December.  I began the bulk of my writing in high school and college, as a way of expression when I was too shy for spoken words, when I wanted my creative traits to show, and when I needed a friend to vent to.

Who or what influenced your writing once you began?

My Communication Arts teacher my freshmen year of high school, Mr. Banger, declared dramatically one day that he was going to write a book.  We cackled at his antics, but then he told me I would make an interesting book character.  For some reason, I reasoned with myself that if this man could write a book, I could try. I fused this fire with my school life at the time and my love for spirits and from this Spirit Vision was born. I have been going ever since.

Who or what influenced your writing over the years?

I look at the world around me, the place that has been my home and comfort, and find the uniqueness of it, a fantastical, fantasy element to it without it losing its core, its element, what it is.  There is inspiration everywhere; you just have to have an open mind and find it.

How did you come up with the title of the book?

I never considered writing a career when I was in school; just a hobby and a way to express myself.  When I started writing Spirit Vision I wanted to share it with the world. I was not sure if it would happen, so I considered it my sweet, little dream, one I held close to my heart. That is why I named my first collection, compiled of my first writings, A Sweet, Little Dream.

Are there any current books that have grasped your interest?

I received several mangas and books for Christmas. Right now, I have been pleasure reading my mangas and currently reading Emerald Green, the fine book in the Ruby Red time-travelling series.  As far as genre, I enjoy vampire series, fairy tale retellings, historical fiction, realistic fiction, and books with magic in them.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Writers block is so annoying, especially for me because I have to write in order, which I have heard is odd for an author! Cutting a part you love in editing breaks my heart and makes my soul shrivel.

Give us three “Good to Know” facts about you. Be creative, you can talk about your first job, something that inspires you, anything fun that might grab the readers attention.

  • I have the movie The Lion King completely memorized and have since age four.
  • I am allergic to citrus.  I cannot even smell it or my throat closes up.
  • I am an oktau (a Japanese culture nerd through anime, manga, cosplay, and culture) and proud!

Tell us a little bit about the cover art. Who designed it? What made you choose that particular image/artwork?

My cover art for the Spirit Vision series is by the talented Ms. Suzy Zhang, AKA Cherriuki.  I drew the concept art and Suzy made it beautiful, making my characters come to life, and drawing the eye to my book.

However, for A Sweet, Little Dream, my publisher and I purchased images from a photo site for businesses that I picked up and Sheenah, my publisher, took my ideas and made it lovely.  The girl is a young girl who reminds me of myself, one enjoying the peace and beauty of the poppy field, envisioning her “sweet, little dream.”

Morgan

Morgan was born and raised in the small, yet big enough town of Farmington, Missouri which has magic hidden within it along with bipolar weather. Before she found her path to teaching and the bridge that connects her to writing, she wanted to be a paleontologist, a teddy bear designer, an actor (which she still dreams about, but in anime voice acting form), and an American J-Pop idol. She had been writing since she was six, but never pondered it until her 6th grade Communication Arts teacher gave her the title “The Queen of Details” and her 9th grade Communication Arts teacher informed her she would make a fantastic book character for HIS future book, where she laughed, but it triggered the question within her “Why can’t I write one?”

When she is not writing, daydreaming, snuggling with her hubby, or trying to educate and inspire young minds at her local school district, Morgan enjoys singing, acting, drawing, playing video games, organizing things, doing goofy voices, confusing people by making them smile with her cute, but unique fashion choices, engaging in social interaction with her friends, family, co-workers, love of her life, and church family, smiling and laughing to burn calories, having ‘me’ time by listening to music and walking, watching awesome TV shows and movies, and collecting adorable plushies, and geeky buttons and keychains along with buying way too many books, graphic tees, and dresses. She is in love with reading as well. Her guilty pleasure, however, is being a full otaku. Anime, manga, cosplay, Japanese culture and more help identify and inspire her every day, giving her confidence and happiness.

Morgan’s first book, Spirit Vision, fuses Morgan’s love for her hometown and the people close in life, the world beyond life, finding the magic only you can have inside yourself, the power of love and friendship, and of writing in general. She hopes to make Spirit Vision a series and write many more books, sharing her always on imagination with the world.
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Hope for a Better World by Monique Mitchell

Hope For a Better World

Title: Hope for a Better World

Author: Monique Mitchell

Publisher: iUniverse

Pages: 244

Genre: Biography/Autobiography

Format: Ebook/Paperback

Purchase at AMAZON

The book is basically my memoir; however, there are some fictitious characters but all is based on real events.

Flashback to my childhood in Madagascar: country with a fascinating history and a unique population, with ethnic characteristics in my own family.

Recollecting past personal tragedies in childhood and situating myself in the present where loving people( my family and church friends) are surrounding me, motivating me to be a good person and see life in a happy perspective. In particular, feeling as a great privilege to be part of the melting pot in the USA.

Recollection of the life at the Faculty of Medicine (Angers), France and the following years in Paris, graduating in social studies. Identifying the influence of the French culture as a pivotal factor in my life and grateful to Bon Papa (grandfather)who, by becoming a naturalized French citizen enabled his descendants to benefit from their French education, while identifying their difference and /or alienation, could also choose individually, how to find a balance between a dual culture they were./are exposed to (their own native and the acquired one).

An interesting trip to the Champagne region through the wine road and to the east of France (Alsace), rich in war (WWI) memories. And there also, exhilarating history about the Statute of Liberty: designed and constructed (before being brought to the USA) by the French architect, Frédéric August Bartholdi.

Marriage to an American business man and birth of son in 1965 but early on, had to raise her child as a single mother due insurmountable challenges in the marriage.

Worked for 20years for the UN in 9 countries in Africa and Asia, all called hardship posts, including those for peace-keeping missions located in politically challenged and/or war-torn countries. For each country, there is a description, besides my administrative work, of history, culture, population etc…

Farewell trip to Madagascar visiting the tomb of my grand parents with great sadness, fond memories and gratefulness for having raised me as a Christian child with the moral values I still carry with me at this day. Joining my American family on a permanent basis to be with my beloved son.

Birth of granddaughter, Jade, who is now a teenager and praying for all members of my family to be blessed by God in the country where I am now conveying my message for love and tolerance in my book “Hope For a Better Work”.

 

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Born in Madagascar and now living in the USA where I joined my family following a long search for what the Creator of the Universe meant me to be, and that search is now well defined. It started to emerge gradually from my childhood and my adolescent years in France, and became more discerning during my 20 years as a UN staff member in various countries of Africa and Asia.

As a result of that search, I wrote a book in order to convey the well defined message from the “We the peoples” of the UN Charter: peoples are different, have differences, but all should “hope for a better world”,with love and tolerance.

 

Monique is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

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Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Amazon Gift Certificate or Paypal Cash.
  • This giveaway begins December 8 and ends on December 19.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on Monday, December 22.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!

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Fading Shadows by Abettina Dell’Orfano Morano Book Feature


Title: Fading Shadows

Author: Abettina Dell’Orfano Morano

Publisher: iUniverse

Pages: 582

Genre: Historical Fiction

Format: Ebook/Paperback

Purchase at AMAZON

The author would like to invite the reader to take a journey with her back in time.

I am writing this novel about my family who lived in the late 1800s. My parents, Michael and his wife Filomena Dell’Orfano, were born 1878 and 1882, respectively. Chusiano di San Domenico d’ Avellino is a small town in the Province of Avellino in the Region of Campania in Naples, Italy.

Raffael and Camella Dell’Orfano lived there with their sons, Massimeno and Michele. The Dell’Orfano family and others in that area were identified as Bianco or “whiteheads“ due to their fair skin, blond and red haired.

During the day, the boys went to school and afterward worked in the fields, and learned the value of hard work at a young age. Later, Michele became interested in a young lady by the name of Filomena, though his father disapproved.

After a longtime disagreement between father and son, Michele, decided to marry his long time girl friend, Filomena, and left the homestead where he was born and raised. Later, Michele made his way to America, to build a new life for his family.

Creating a new identity is never easy. They struggled, but their love keeps them strong as they remember the old country and looked forward to their new land.

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Abettina Dell’Orfano Morano is the last of eleven children in her family. She worked as a medical assistant and was a certified licensed phlebotomist. Later, Abettina worked for the Registration Board of Medicine for Doctors and Nurses at the State House in Boston, Massachusetts.

 

Abettina is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

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Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Amazon Gift Certificate or Paypal Cash.
  • This giveaway begins January 19 and ends on January 30.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on Monday, February 2.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

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Just a Taste by Shannyn Schroeder Book Feature

Just a Taste

Title: Just a Taste

Author: Shannyn Schroeder

Publisher: Lyrical Press

Pages: 259

Genre: Romance

Format: Paperback/Kindle

Grief has brought them together again—will love open the door to their future? When it’s an O’Leary in the picture, finding out is just part of the adventure…

Carmen Delgado is left reeling when her father dies. Taking care of him has been her sole purpose for so long, she’s forgotten what it’s like to have dreams of her own. And with steady, sexy Liam O’Leary inheriting a share in her dad’s successful food truck, Carmen is suddenly free to explore her life’s possibilities. She never expected Liam to provide the kind of temptation she’s not sure she can resist…

A talented chef, Liam O’Leary has been itching to open his own restaurant for years—and the death of his mentor is a reminder that time passes too quickly. Gus’s Taco Taxi isn’t exactly what he dreamed of, but he can’t desert Gus’s daughter. Working side by side is an unexpected pleasure—and grownup Carmen is alluring in all new ways. Is love on the menu—or will old fears and insecurities drive them apart?

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Shannyn is a former English teacher, who now works as a part-time editor while raising her three kids.

Even though she wrote from high school through college (mostly poetry), she’d never considered a career as an author. Writing fell by the wayside as she focused her energy on creating lesson plans and new and fabulous ways to torment her teen students. One group in particular dubbed her “The Torture Master,” a title she carried into motherhood.

After the birth of baby number two, Shannyn resigned from teaching and fell in love with reading romance novels. She read so many books so quickly that her husband teased, “If you’re going to read so many damn books, why don’t you just write one?”

So she did.

That first book is safely buried on her hard drive, but the process set Shannyn on the path to where she is today—agented with a debut ebook coming out with Kensington in late 2012.

She is recovering from her Diet Coke addiction, fears putting her foot in her mouth on social media, and has a renewed appreciation for the bad girls of the world.

Shannyn is represented by Frances Black and Jennifer Mishler of Literary Counsel.

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Visit Shannyn’s website.



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Guest post from Laura Lynn Ashworth, author of Letters to Loretta from the Radio Shack

Letters to LorettaTitle: Letters to Loretta from the Radio Shack: A True WWII Teenage Love Story

Author: Laura Lynn Ashworth

Publisher: Laura Lynn Ashworth

Pages: 239

Genre: Non-fiction Romance

Format: Paperback/E-copy

Read the rare and recently discovered real time letters between Sal, age 19, and Loretta, age 15, during the final terrifying three years of World War II, 1943-1945. Both from the Douglas Park neighborhood in Chicago, the two adolescents discuss with humor and candor, the Navy, war, politics, hit music, life back home and their relationship. Sal nicknamed Slabby for his movie star good looks, deciphers code out of the Navy’s radio shack on a minesweeper in the Pacific. Loretta monikered Duchess for her aloofness, lives with aunts and her widowed father, while holding day jobs and enjoying an active social life with friends. Letters to Loretta from the Radio Shack lets you experience World War II, both in battle and on the home front, through the eyes of adolescents in a way that Hollywood has never portrayed.

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Hello!  I’m Laura Lynn Ashworth, author of the newly released book, “Letters to Loretta from the Radio Shack, A True WWII Teenage Love Story.”  I have been invited as a guest blogger, an opportunity, which I appreciate.

“Letters to Loretta from the Radio Shack,” is a story of two teens, one named Sal, who is on a minesweeper in the Pacific during WWII working out of the radio shack (communications office) deciphering code.  His friend, Loretta, is a 15-year girl from his neighborhood in Chicago.  They exchange approximately 170 letters over the period of 1943-1945, during the final terrifying and climatic years of WWII.  Readers get to experience, in real time, what it is like to be at sea during the D-Day and the Battle of Okinawa and what it is like being a teenage girl, juggling jobs and trying to enjoy all that Chicago had to offer back in the ‘40s.  The two talk about their budding relationship, family, friends, politics, etc., with frankness and a great deal of  humor.  Not many WWII non-fiction books will get you to laugh as much as this one, all while drawing you into romantic twists and turns.

The question I will pose to the followers of this blog, is this.  Do you think men love differently than women?  My thoughts have changed on this over time, but now I have come to the conclusion that men make up their minds very quickly about the woman that is right for them, typically based on some physical aspect of the woman…such as her hair, face or figure.  Women, I feel, love easily, but evaluate men more on their resources, whether they be internal, such as intelligence and strength, or external, such as financial resources or social status.

Let me know what you think, especially after you read, “Letters to Loretta from the Radio Shack,” in which you can see how the romantic relationship grows between Sal and Loretta and why.  You can order a signed copy of my book on my website at www.lauralynnashowrth.com or go to Amazon or Barnes & Noble, or any estore for an unsigned copy.

Thank you for letting me visit with you for a while.  It was my pleasure!

Laura_Ortoleva

 

Laura Lynn Ashworth is an award-winning copywriter and political cartoonist. While helping an elderly family member with veterans administration paperwork, she ran across “the letters” and instantly knew of their rarity, freshness and historical significance. Although she received three publishing contracts within two months of sending the letters to major publishers, Ashworth decided to publish them herself on the advice of best-selling authors. She currently lives and works in a northwest suburb of Chicago.  www.lauralynnashworth.com,

www.lauralynnashworth.com/blog

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Crystal Lotus by Jinna Van Vliet Book Feature

 

Crystal LotusTitle: Crystal Lotus
Author: Jinna Van Vliet
Publisher: Xlibris
Pages: 129
Genre: Biography/Autobiography
Format: Ebook

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The Harmonic convergence in 1987 launched the awakening of the Mass Consciousness into the realization that human consciousness is rising into a higher frequency. Coined as the Big Shift it created many guidelines to help with this transition process. Crystal Lotus is just one such guide gifted to us by the Divine Feminine Creator Energy through one of her Aspects, the Goddess Quan Yin.

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Rarity by D.A. Roach Book Feature

Rarity Title: Rarity
Author: D.A. Roach
Publisher: Amazon Digital
Pages: 197
Genre: Young Adult
Format: Paperback/Kindle

It’s her junior year at Stanton High. Brogen, an empathic teen, is looking forward to another uneventful year with her buddy Meg at her side. Meg and Brogen are not in the in-crowd, actually, they aren’t in any crowd. They are content keeping a low profile and doing their own thing.

But the first day of school brings Becca, the blonde babe, and Jay, the charismatic guy who doesn’t fit any stereotype. These two new students pull Brogen out of her comfort zone and into a new social situation. And with the good parts of this new situation…comes the bad.

Becca is attracted to Jay and is prepared to stomp on the competition when it comes to making Jay her boyfriend. Brogen wants no part of any high school drama, but life…or fate keeps putting Jay and Brogen on a path together. This puts a target on Brogen’s back and she’s not sure Jay is worth the wrath of Becca.

As they journey through their school year, several life changing events alter the relationship between Jay and Brogen. But the question remains, should they give in to fate and give love a chance? Or fight it and take the easy road?

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D.A. Roach lives in the midwest with her 3 kids and husband.  In her free time she enjoys reading, writing, music, and art.  She has had a diverse job list including teacher, pharmacist, and factory worker.  Her life is rich with vivid characters and stories and she enjoys taking inspiration from these characters and tales to create new stories.

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College for Convicts by Christopher Zoukis Book Feature

We’re happy to be hosting Christopher Zoukis and his COLLEGE FOR CONVICTS Book Blast today!

About the Book:

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Title: College for Convicts: The Case for Higher Education in

American Prisons

Author: Christopher Zoukis

Publisher: McFarland and Company

Pages: 300

Genre: Social Sciences/Education

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Provide education to prisoners and they won’t return to crime. America accounts for 5 percent of the world’s population, yet incarcerates about 25 percent of the world’s prisoners with about 2.3 million men and women in U.S. facilities. Examining a wealth of studies by researchers and correctional professionals, and the experience of educators, this book finds an irrefutable conclusion: the likelihood of an undereducated prisoner returning to crime is high, but recidivism rates drop in direct correlation with the amount of education prisoners receive, and the rate drops dramatically with each additional level of education attained.

Presenting a workable solution to America’s over incarceration and recidivism problems, this book demonstrates that great fiscal benefits arise when modest sums are spent educating prisoners, instead of dedicating exponentially higher resources to confining them. Educating prisoners brings a reduction in crime and social disruption, reduced domestic spending and a rise in quality of life.

Book Excerpt:

Hundreds of articles and studies

about prison education, and many papers presented at academic and professional

conferences, almost all come to the same conclusions:

  • Prison education reduces crime,
  • Prison education reduces recidivism, and
  • Prison education will make an enormously positive impacton our national economy.

This is an idea that evokes a lot of controversy, because most people are more concerned with educating their ownchildren than educating prisoners. And the idea of providing post-secondary education in prisons is a hard sell because most of the public is unaware of how it can impact our economy and the safety of our communities.

Let’s understand from the start:

the concept of educating prisoners is not a “bleeding-heart, humanitarian, feel-good-for-the-imprisoned” kind of cause.

On the contrary, it is an issue with huge impact upon the economic stability of our country, the protection of our communities, and a higher quality of life for law-abiding citizens.

Consider this: the US accounts for only 5% of the world’s population, but it holds 25% of the entire world’s prisoners. There is something wrong with this picture. With our prison population now at 2.3 million, we, as a nation, incarcerate far more people per capita than any other country in the world – almost double the next closest nation. Our state and federal prison population has increased almost ten-fold since 1970 and this explosive growth not only creates an untenable financial burden for state and national budgets, but also creates an impossible situation for our judiciary overburdened by high recidivism rates. In some states, like California, prisons are so overcrowded that the U.S.

Supreme Court ruled that the state had to reduce their prisoner population by tens of thousands because the state’s system was “incompatible with the concept of human dignity”.

The growth rate in federal prisons is even worse than that of the states. While state prison populations dropped in 2009 and 2010, federal prisons are bursting at the seams, and federal prison budgets are increasing by 10% a year to accommodate the ever-growing prison population.

Lawmakers are calling for the creation of a second federal “supermax” similar to “the notorious Florence ADX in Colorado – a place where solitary confinement has been raised to a torturous art, and prisoners seldom, if ever, see another human being. Conditions at this ‘Alcatraz of the Rockies’ are so harsh that the European Court of Human Rights initially refused to extradite terrorism suspects to the United States lest they end up in ADX”.

Hundreds of studies and all the research in the field of criminology affirm that prison education is the least expensive and most effective solution to overcrowding and strain on the budget caused by recidivism. Nevertheless, despite overwhelming evidence, policy makers and the general public still do not support funding post-secondary higher education in prisons. Year after year, even the most basic correctional educational programs are further reduced. Computers are not allowed. The result? Increased prisoner unrest and violence, and even more money spent for additional security.

Today, higher education for prisoners is almost non-existent. And, as we shall see, our failure to invest in opportunities for correctional college education weakens the very fabric of our society. With proper implementation, the impact of prison education can be enormous – not just on prisoners, but on our entire society and our nation’s prosperity. Let us hope that greater understanding will result in wise legislative action for our common good.

“In response to the American public’s growing fear of crime and the call for more punitive measures…, many legislators and policymakers have promoted building more prisons, enacting harsher sentencing legislation, and eliminating various programs inside prisons and jails. But more than half these prisoners are in on drug charges and another 10% on immigration violations, so that more than 72% of our incarcerated population are offenders with no history of violence. With re-arrest rates averaging around 67% to 80%, it is clear that incarceration alone is not working”.

In the opinion of Chief Justice William Ray Price of the Supreme Court of Missouri, “We may have been tough on crime, but we have not been smart on crime.” He noted further, “For years we have waged a ‘war on drugs,’ enacted ‘three strikes and you’re out’ sentencing laws, and thrown away the key to be tough on crime. What we did not do was check to see how much it costs, or whether we were winning or losing. In fact, it has cost us billions of dollars and we have just as much crime now as we did when we started.”

Despite all the studies that confirm society and the nation as a whole will reap significant benefits, the idea of providing post-secondary education in prisons is a hard sell. The public appears to have a visceral, but understandable, reaction against the idea of higher education for prisoners. Why, people ask, should Americans pay to provide a college education for prisoners when so many law-abiding, tax-paying citizens struggle to send themselves or their children to school? It doesn’t seem fair. Honest people have to pay to receive an education; why should prisoners get it for free?

And besides, say some of the opponents to correctional education, if we provide a learning environment for prisoners, perhaps prison will seem less terrible and serve as a less effective deterrent to crime. However, the deterrent argument fails, because people do not decide whether or not to commit a crime based on the program opportunities available if they are caught and sent to prison.

Others believe that people who commit a crime have chosen to limit their opportunities and freedoms, including access to valuable privileges like education. Therefore, handing it free to people who break the law feels wrong, feels like a slap in the face of justice.

These are legitimate concerns, but there are strong, legitimate solutions. Make no mistake. Despite the fact that I am a prisoner myself, I do not dispute the concept of getting tough on crime. I do not advocate creating a cushy environment for prisoners. And I certainly do not propose taking privileges from deserving, hard-working people to pamper prisoners. That is not what educating prisoners is about.

So why, then, should we care about educating prisoners, educating people who didn’t care about the victims they hurt, the communities they impoverished, and the society they endangered?

We care, very simply, because they get out.  Almost everyone who is locked up now is going to be set free one day. If we treat prisoners like animals the whole time they’re locked up, that’s what we’ll get when they’re back on the streets: wild, dangerous animals.  But if we educate these people, give them some positive reinforcement, and introduce the idea that they’ll have something to offer society when they return to their communities, that’s what we’ll get when they are free: people who have something to offer society.”

About the Author: 

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Christopher Zoukis, a 28-year-old writer who is incarcerated at FCC Petersburg (Medium), is an impassioned and active advocate for prison education and prisoners’ rights in this nation’s prison systems, a noted legal commentator and practitioner, and a prolific writer of books, articles, and legal treatise.

Criminal Justice Books

Mr. Zoukis is the author of College for Convicts: The Case for Higher Education in American Prisons (McFarland and Company, 2014), United Blood Nation: The Story of the East Coast Bloods (Headpress, 2015), the Directory of Federal Prisons (Middle Street Publishing, 2014), and Education Behind Bars: A Win-Win Strategy for Maximum Security (Sunbury Press, 2012).

Legal Articles

In addition to his books, Mr. Zoukis is also a contributing writer at Huffington PostBlog Critics, and Prison Legal News, and is a New York Journal of Books authorized book reviewer. 

His book reviews, articles, and essays have appeared in the Huffington Post, Kansas City Star, The Sacramento Bee, Blog CriticsMidwest Book Review, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, AND Magazine, AND Society, along with content being syndicated by the Associated Press, Google News, Yahoo News, and the FedCURE News Network.

Writing Awards

In 2011, Mr. Zoukis’ creative work won PEN American Center Prison Writing Awards for his screenplay “Healing Bin Laden” (Drama-Second Place) and his short story “Jesusland” (Fiction-Honorable Mention).  And in 2014, Mr. Zoukis’ Directory of Federal Prisons e-book won the prestigious Independent Book Publishers Association’s Silver Benjamin Franklin Digital Book Award.

Websites and Legal Writing

Commitments

In addition to his award winning writing, Mr. Zoukis is the founder of PrisonEducation.com, PrisonLawBlog.com, and a former editor of the Education Behind Bars Newsletter.  He is a contributing writer at Prison Legal News and the Huffington Post, along with being a former staff writer at the State and Federal Criminal Law Review, The Update: Federal Criminal and Immigration Law, and the Texas Criminal Law Review.

Legal Projects

Currently, Mr. Zoukis is engaged in a number of larger legal and non-legal projects.  On the legal side, he is currently suing the Federal Bureau of Prisons over their refusal to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Attention Deficit Disorder(ADD), lack of adequate dental care for federal inmates, and is assisting several inmates seeking treatment for Gender Identity Disorder (GID) that is in line with prevailing community standards of care and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) Professional Standards.  Mr. Zoukis is currently assisting two transgender federal inmates in suits against the Federal Bureau of Prisons (along with counseling and handling administrative remedies for half a dozen others), and is litigating on behalf of both prisoners in the Virginia State Supreme Court in an effort to effectuate name changes.

Writing and advocating for prison education and prisoners’ rights isn’t all that Mr. Zoukis has been doing behind bars.  He has taught a popular course to over 100 fellow prisoners entitled “Writing and Publishing”, and regularly advises fellow inmates and prison consulting groups about matters surrounding Federal Bureau of Prisons’ policy and the federal regulations governing it.

Mr. Zoukis has become successful in the administrative and regulatory prison litigation realm and is now a sought after consultant on a number of matters (both in-prison and out-of-prison).  Following his release from custody in 2018,he plans to go into the prison consulting and litigation field.

Non-Legal Projects

On the non-legal side, Mr. Zoukis’ literary team — which is headed by Rachel Sentes of Gal Friday Publicity, Greg Aunapu of the Salkind Literary Agency, and Dr. Randall Radic of Middle Street Publishing — are currently pitching several of Mr. Zoukis’ novels and nonfiction works to publishers in the United States and Canada.  Two such titles are Mr. Zoukis’ Facing Federal Incarceration book, and his debut science-fiction novel Hamish.

Legal Credentials and

Associations

Mr. Zoukis holds numerous legal credentials as to paralegal studies and certification.  These include the following credentials from the Blackstone Career Institute:

·       

Diploma in

Paralegal Studies (with distinction)

Advanced

Certificate in Criminal Law and Procedure

·       Advanced

Certificate in Civil Litigation

Advanced

Certificate in Business & Corporate Law

He is also a graduate of the Long Ridge Writers Group and graduated from Global University’s Certified Minister Certificate Program.  Mr. Zoukis is currently enrolled at Adams State University, where he is nearing the completion of an additional Paralegal Certificate, and his Bachelors of Arts in Sociology (with an emphasis in criminology) degree.

Mr. Zoukis maintains strong ties with the prison, prison education, legal, and writing communities through his memberships with related organizations, several of which include:

·       American Bar

Association, including:

·       

     ABA Criminal Justice Section

·       

     ABA Section on Litigation

·       

American

Civil Liberties Union

·       

American

Correctional Association

·       

Correctional

Education Association

·       

National

Association of Independent Writers and Editors

·       

National

Alliance of Sentencing Advocates and Mitigation Specialists

·       

National

Lawyers Guild

·       

National

Legal Aid & Defender Association, including:

·       

     NLA Appellate Defender Section

·       

National

Writers Association

·       

National

Writers Union

·       

PEN American

Center

·       

Pennsylvania

Prison Society

·       

Society of

Professional Journalists

For More Information

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