Friday, July 31, 2015

"Concerns of the Second Sex" by Pavarti K. Tyler

Concerns of the Second Sex
by Pavarti K. Tyler

Concerns of the Second Sex, Pavarti K. Tyler's latest short story, can be found in the newly-released Alt. History 101 anthology.

You can read my review of Concerns of the Second Sex below. More books and stories by this author: White Chalk (read my blog post), Dead Girl (read my blog post), and Heaven's Vault (read my blog post).

What if the women's suffragist movement lost their battle for the right to vote? Women never entered the workforce during the World Wars, creating a class of immigrant workers lacking the rights insisted on by the unionizing and anti-child labor movements. Years later, civil rights are a luxury afforded only to the elite free white male ruling class.

My Review

By Lynda Dickson
In a society where women haven't been emancipated, fourteen-year-old Helen, the seventh daughter of Master Calvin's seventh wife, is considered "unmarriable". In her culture, interracial relationships are forbidden and women are born to breed - they are not educated, aren't allowed to read, can't play games of strategy such as chess, and can't even wear pants. With no marriage prospects, Helen now faces the option of factory work, community service, or surrogacy. Helen's mother helps her escape to a suffragist safe-house. But what will happen when her father finds out?
This is a harrowing and thought-provoking story, thankfully with a hint of hope at the end. You'll never take wearing pants for granted again.
Pavarti K. Tyler has done it again. Highly recommended.

About the Author
Award winning author of multi-cultural and transgressive literature, Pavarti K. Tyler is an artist, wife, mother and number cruncher. She graduated Smith College in 1999 with a degree in Theatre. After graduation, she moved to New York, where she worked as a Dramaturge, Assistant Director and Production Manager on productions both on and off Broadway. Later, Pavarti went to work in the finance industry several international law firms. She now lives with her husband, two daughters and one very large, very terrible dog. She keeps busy working with fabulous authors as the Director of Marketing at Novel Publicity and penning her next genre bending novel.

Everyone can download a FREE copy of Red Hot Beginnings box set, featuring Sugar and Salt by Pavarti K. Tyler.


Thursday, July 30, 2015

"Good Intentions" by Pembroke Sinclair

Good Intentions
(The Road to Salvation Book 3)
by Pembroke Sinclair

Good Intentions is the third book in Pembroke Sinclair's Road to Salvation series. Also available: The Appeal of Evil (read my blog post) and Dealing with Devils (read my blog post).

This book blitz and giveaway is brought to you by Xpresso Book Tours.

Katie has been through Hell - literally - and discovered that it wasn’t as bad as she thought it would be. In fact, she kind of enjoyed it. She got to be with Josh, found out about her past, and discovered who she wanted to be as a person. Katie didn’t care that her actions went against social norms. She was happy.
But things are changing - again. Wes has come back into her life, and that can only mean trouble. His presence threatens to unravel her new-found happiness. She can’t allow that. She won’t let him back in. Yet, Katie can’t push him away.
Thrown back into a state of confusion and uncertainty, Katie is once again forced to pick sides, and in the process, she may lose herself.

The halls were quickly clearing of students, but Katie wasn’t worried. There were still enough people around to keep her safe from demon spies and Wes. Well, Wes was for sure. In reality, the shadow could be anywhere. Same with other demons, especially if they looked human. But Katie felt secure in knowing that they probably wouldn’t venture out in their true form as long as students were around. Not that demons bothered her. It was just because of who the demon was tied to. And as long as she didn’t venture into a bathroom alone - which she didn’t plan to do - she was fine. Wes would leave her alone. Besides, in just a few minutes she’d be outside and in Josh’s car. Then, they could figure out what they were going to do about the situation.
As she stepped out of the building, a cool breeze blew by her, causing her to shudder. Fall was definitely in the air. She wrapped her arms around her chest and scanned the parking lot. It didn’t take long to find him. He was parked in the third row from the building, and his was one of the last vehicles in the lot. The rest were lined up haphazardly at the exits attempting to get out. Most of the other students, unless they were involved with sports, didn’t stay at school for longer than was necessary. Katie couldn’t blame them. It wasn’t her favorite place either.
He stood next to the passenger door with his arms folded across his chest. He smiled as his gaze fell on her, and even from a distance she could tell it was forced. Crap. That probably meant things didn’t go well. Taking a deep breath, she closed the distance between them with determined steps.
He wrapped his arms around her shoulders and pulled her into a tight hug. She wrapped her arms around his waist and rested her cheek on his chest. His heart beat steadily in his ribs. His embrace was warm and pushed away the chill from the air. All her fears and worries disappeared. She was safe. It would have been so perfect if that was how the rest of her life could go. If she could just stay in his arms, life would be grand. But it couldn’t. That wasn’t the way things worked. Sooner or later, the world would come crashing in on them. Despite the desire to pretend like events hadn’t happened earlier in the day, she knew she couldn’t delay the inevitable. Still snuggled close to him, she asked the question she didn’t really want the answer to.
“What did you find out?”

Praise for the Book
"The story has gotten better and better in each book and now we have made it to another crescendo as we go into Good Intentions. [...] I really loved this series, after I got past Katie being so childish, but must say the last book, Good Intentions, was my favorite of the three. I enjoy how everything came together at the end. Was on pins and needles a few times as it seemed things were not going to go as I had hoped but everything worked out for the best." ~ Gimme The Scoop
"Awesome, Awesome, Awesome! I loved the way it ended. It was all neatly tied up yet was set up so there can be more books if the author decides to go that way. This is a series you really need to read." ~ Sandra K. Stiles
"I loved this book. It’s a great end to the other two books. I was screaming at Katie to wake up so many times. But I know she has to go through everything to find the truth. I loved how things progressed and Wes, I have to say that I really started liking him. I don’t know if there are going to be more books in this series. If not I liked how Good Intentions ended, but it ended like there could be more. Anyway, The Road to Salvation is a great series with a twist on the good vs. evil theme. I recommend reading them in order since they read back to back." ~ Amazon Customer
"Ms. Sinclair finished The Road to Salvation series very well with the third book, Good Intentions. It was rather short, but at the same time, everything happened that needed to happen. I was pleased by this. I would rather read a shorter book and have everything closed, than a long book with more words than is necessary. I believe this was the perfect way to end this series. Once again it was like a tennis match, and at times, drove me crazy. I would have to walk away and then come back to it later. Then, of course, the ending was fantastic! I just have to say, YAY!! [...] Thank you, Ms. Sinclair, for sharing your wonderful series with me. I enjoyed it very much." ~ Bethanie

Guest Post by the Author
Unlikable Characters
Characters, like real people, have their quirks. There are parts of them readers may like, and others readers may find loathsome. Katie, my main character from The Road to Salvation series, isn’t always liked. In fact, some readers have even gone so far as to say they hate her. 
My first reaction to that was that I needed to come to Katie’s defense. I felt like I needed to protect her like I would protect my own children. I would explain that she acts the way she acts because she’s a 17-year-old girl or give some other excuse, like she’s naive. I was upset that they would attack her like that.
Then, I stopped. I was talking to an author friend of mine about how not all main characters have to be likable. The point of stories is to put characters in challenging situations and see how they react to them. Not all of them come out fighting. Some are more passive and maybe a lot more self-centered. Some are unreliable. You can’t trust anything they have to say, and they often twist the truth to their own benefit. Some are sneaky. Like the real world, characters in fiction display a wide range of personality traits - not all of which are desirable.
Katie is young, naive, self-centered, needy, and whiny. She has moments of being strong, but they are fleeting and quickly devolve into self-doubt and insecurity. Katie is who she is, and she shouldn’t have to apologize for that or explain it to anyone. And neither do I. If she was any other way, it wouldn’t be the same story.
I understand that readers don’t like her, but some do. And both of those feelings are correct. Katie isn’t always my favorite either, and I know her really well. I don’t cringe anymore when reviewers write about how much they despise her. In fact, I laugh. To me, that’s an awesome compliment. I love to see that my character evokes such a strong emotional response. It means I’m doing something right.

From the Author
Pembroke Sinclair is a literary jack of all trades, playing her hand at multiple genres. She has written an eclectic mix of fiction ranging from horror to sci-fi and even some westerns.
Born in Rock Springs, Wyoming - the home of 56 nationalities - it is no wonder Pembroke ended up so creatively diverse. Her fascination with the notions of good and evil, demons and angels, and how the lines blur have inspired her writing.
Pembroke lives in Laramie, Wyoming, with her husband, two spirited boys, a black lab named Ryder, and a rescue kitty named Alia, who happens to be the sweetest, most adorable kitty in the world! She cannot say no to dessert, orange soda, or cinnamon. She loves rats and tatts and rock and roll and wants to be an alien queen when she grows up.

Enter the blitz-wide giveaway for a chance to a set of paperbacks of The Road to Salvation series (including The Appeal of Evil, Dealing with Devils, and Good Intentions) by Pembroke Sinclair (US only).

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

"Overcoming Anxiety" by David Berndt

Overcoming Anxiety:
Self-Help Anxiety Relief
by David Berndt, Ph.D.

Author and psychologist David Berndt, Ph.D., is celebrating the release of Overcoming Anxiety, the first of in his new Psychology Knowledge Mental Health Series.
The author joins me today to share a special guest post and an excerpt from the book. You can also read my review. Make sure you follow the author's blog tour, featuring many more reviews, guest posts, and interviews.

Psychologist David Berndt, Ph.D., in Overcoming Anxiety, outlines several self-help methods for relief from anxiety and worry. In clear language and a conversational style, Dr. Berndt talks intimately with the reader like he would in a therapy session, and he shares what he learned from his peers and clients about how to make techniques for anxiety management more effective and helpful.
You will learn:
·       A Self-hypnosis grounding technique in the Ericksonian tradition.
·   Box Breathing, Seven Eleven and similar breathing techniques for anxiety relief.
·       How to stop or interrupt toxic thoughts that keep you locked in anxiety.
·       How to harness and utilize your worries, so they work for you.
·       Relief from anxiety through desensitization and exposure therapy.
Designed to be used alone as self-help or in conjunction with professional treatment Dr. Berndt draws upon his experience as a clinician and academic researcher to give accessible help to the reader who wants to understand and manage their anxiety.

I wanted to start off by teaching you a technique, sometimes known as the 54321 Technique, you can begin to use right way. I learned a version of this initially from another psychologist, Yvonne Dolan, who is one of the bright stars of the Solution Focused brief therapy approach. Perhaps because of her training under master therapist Milton Erickson, she learned the value of being especially creative and innovative. When I noticed early in my career that my skill set needed some bolstering, I sought training from Ms. Dolan, among others. She taught an earlier version of this technique in a seminar that I attended on treatment approaches to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The information she shared is presented in her 2000 book, One Small Step, Moving Beyond Trauma and Therapy to a Life of Joy and she indicated that the technique in its original version should be credited to Betty Erickson, the wife of hypnotherapist Milton Erickson. This particular method, as it has evolved in the way I use it, is now one of my "go to" tools whenever I want to help my clients to feel more grounded. Yvonne Dolan originally taught me the approach as a tool for dealing with flashbacks, so it is a fairly strong remedy, but my patients and I have discovered that it can be useful with many types of emotional storms.
Ms. Dolan encouraged those of us who were in that PTSD training seminar to continue to develop what I will call the "54321 Technique," and to modify it. I have, over the years, had the privilege - with significant input from many of my clients - to change, improve upon, and modify some components of this procedure. I now use the tool clinically as I present it here, to teach my clients how to manage anxiety and other strong feelings.
Custom Designed
The way I am presenting this technique is easy to teach, and in order to present it to the reader I have similarly made it as accessible as possible, and in so doing, by necessity I am making it rather generic. I leave it up to you the reader to shape it, change it, and enrich it in ways that are tailored to your own unique needs and style. As you become more skilled at the basic procedure (and others presented in later chapters), you will find ways to improve the technique by making it more interesting to you, more simpatico, and thereby more powerful.
In its simplest form this 54321 skill can be quite helpful, without any changes. However, by changing the technique and making it yours, you will more confidently rely on it for managing severe anxiety and for relief during other peak moments of stress. Combined with other strategies in the later chapters, you will get more adept at developing an emotionally intelligent skillset, from which you can pick and choose your best option for handling an emotional problem.

Praise for the Dr. David J. Berndt's Work
About the Multiscore Depression Inventory:
"A textbook example of how to create a psychological test." ~ Oscar Burrows, Mental Measurement Yearbook
"Dr. Berndt is a creative and forward-thinking psychologist who has contributed to advancing psychology both with his research and clinical practice. He has helped countless patients with their depression and anxiety, and his conversational and accessible style of writing makes Overcoming Anxiety a book you would want for your top shelf." ~ Charles Kaiser, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the College of Charleston

My Review

By Lynda Dickson
The author shares numerous techniques for overcoming anxiety and related disorders: the 54321 technique, breathing exercises, scheduling worry time, desensitization to overcome fears and phobias, cognitive behavior therapy to tackle negative thoughts, dealing with thoughts that can lead to depression. These are all described in a simple, step-by-step manner, making it easy for readers to employ them on their own or with the assistance of a trained psychologist. The author also describes the physiological reasons for panic attacks. Includes a full reference list at the end.
It's hard to believe so much information can be packed into such a small volume (188 pages). Full of handy self-help tips from a trained psychologist, this book is the cheapest form of therapy you are likely to get.

Guest Post by the Author
Anxiety Relief: Box Breathing and 7/11
by David Berndt, PhD clinical psychologist
The way I am going to introduce breathing techniques for the management of anxiety is very much the same way I introduce it to my clients. Breathing is a skill that most people never bother to learn, or, at least, they never learn well. Professional singers pay for voice lessons, in order to learn how to breathe deeply, using the diaphragm muscle at the bottom of the lungs to make their lungs into a bellows. They learn how to pump oxygen like a bagpipe over their reed-like vocal cords, so singers can hold and trill a note for a long time. Swimmers and gymnasts are trained at how to breathe deeply, and so are actors, who need to project to the back rows of a theater.
But, of all the groups who need to learn how to breathe deeply, there are few with more at stake than the person who is prone to anxiety. If you can learn to breathe deeply, and you can use that skill both tactically and strategically, then you will have a good chance at winning battles in your war with anxiety. 
Deep breathing techniques are helpful with management of the physical symptoms of anxiety, and they can also help to calm or still the mind, when your thoughts starts swirling. The reason deep breathing exercises play such an important role in anxiety management has to do with the impact of two different sets of physical equilibriums.  One of these is the role of the parasympathetic nervous system, and the other is the very specific role that breathing can play in warding off or reversing a panic attack.
Most anxious patients have learned at one time or another that breathing can help with anxiety, because taking several deep breaths can switch on the Parasympathetic nervous system. This finely tuned system’s cluster of physical functions (also known as the relaxation response) serves to counterbalance your survival reflex. Your Sympathetic nervous system, when your body senses threat - from a tiger, your boss, or the IRS, kicks into high survival gear. It pumps adrenaline, speeds up your heart rate and among other things, elicits a panting-like rapid shallow breathing, in order to rapidly take in as much oxygen as possible. Much of what we know as anxiety are the physical reactions that automatically switch on when the body needs to avoid harm. The parallel system (Parasympathetic) works in just the opposite manner, and it helps you unwind when the threat has ceased. Deep breathing is just one of many grounding techniques that can switch this relaxation system on; many of these grounding techniques typically operate by activating this Parasympathetic nervous system.
In order to breathe in a manner that switches on the Parasympathetic nervous system, you need to inhale deeply, like a deep sigh, expanding the lungs fully, assisted by your diaphragm muscle. You can practice this by putting one hand on the stomach and another on the chest. When breathing deeply the area near the stomach should expand more than the chest; that’s why deep breathing is often referred to as "belly breathing."
There are many different yardsticks to help you breathe deeply enough, and most of them involve counting. Think of the counting as scaffolding, it’s just a guideline and the actual numbers do not matter much. In fact, if there is a number that matters it is four. When you breathe in (to a count of four while doing so), you can begin to get the effect you are seeking. Three is not enough, and four is just barely enough – more than that is even better. Breathing in by a count of four and out by a count of four works, but it’s the smallest depth of breathing that actually helps with anxiety. Five is better, six is better still, etc.
However, when I teach breathing techniques, I want to make sure we are killing two birds with one stone. Breathing deeply (such as: in by four and out by four) will help switch the relaxation response on, but, as I said above, there is another system at play, and this one has to do with panic and severe anxiety attacks. Panic attacks can be warded off and/or reversed by adding a new wrinkle to your breathing strategy. There is not time to go into it in depth here, but I cover the physiology of this second component in my final chapter of Overcoming Anxiety (this mechanism has to do with a sensor in your body that maintains a balance between oxygen and carbon dioxide).
If you can take my word for it, all you really know is that you need to breathe not just deeply, but, in the process, also breath more out (or hold your breath) for an interval longer than the amount that you breathe in. 
Two widely used techniques illustrate simple ways to implement this, and both of them make use of both of these physiological systems. In Four Squared, you breathe in for a count of four, hold your breath for a second count of four, breathe out for four, and finally hold for another four, before starting around the rectangle a second time.  This method is also called "Box" breathing. Repeat it as long as needed but ideally at least four times. The other useful technique is called 7/11. You simply breathe in for a count of seven and out for a count of 11, and keep repeating this for several minutes.  Both of these techniques are constructed so that when you learn them, you are addressing both sets of problems.
These techniques can both seem to "take forever" to take effect, when you are very anxious, but often succeed after only a few minutes if you can hang in there. They can typically kick in a few minutes quicker than the benzodiazepines, and of course you do not develop a tolerance to it or an addiction like you likely would if you use the benzos in that manner. 
If you already have a breathing technique that you use, juts modify it to include the factors I mentioned above (more out than in, a count of four or greater). From a health perspective it does not matter whether you use your mouth or nostrils (whatever is easiest) or what other things you can combine with it such as visual imagery or muscle relaxation. While many of these other techniques can also be helpful, breathing alone is often enough to help bring your anxiety under control.
You probably want to develop a strategy about when and how to use breathing and how you practice to learn the habit of taking deep breaths. A therapist can be especially helpful in developing strategic and tactical applications. Whether or not you make use of a therapist, you will do best if you come up with a customized intervention that takes into account your strengths, interests, preferences, and past successes. Whatever method you use to practice breathing can also be an opportunity to combine breathing with a laser-like focus, or with one or more of the things you use already (listening to music?), so that the two can evoke each other.
Thanks for the opportunity to share this information with your readers. I hope that this can begin to give you a taste for all the techniques that are at your disposal when you decide to take the reins of your anxiety and learn to harness it.

About the Author
David J. Berndt, Ph.D. was a Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Chicago, where he published or presented over 80 papers and articles, before establishing a private practice. Dr. Berndt currently lives in Charleston, S.C., where he also teaches in an adjunct capacity at the College of Charleston. He is best known for his psychological tests The Multiscore Depression Inventory, and the Multiscore Depression Inventory for Children, both from Western Psychological Services. He also contributes to several psychology websites including Psychology KnowledgeOvercoming Anxiety is the first in a series of books on dealing with psychological problems that Dr. Berndt plans to release in 2015-2017.