Monday, July 13, 2020

Author Interview & Giveaway: A DELIGHTFUL LITTLE BOOK ON AGING

Stephanie Raffelock

Genre: Inspirational / Spiritual / Essays / Self-Help
Publisher: She Writes Press
Publication Date: April 28, 2020
Number of Pages: 119 pages

Scroll down for the giveaway!

All around us, older women flourish in industry, entertainment, and politics. Do they know something that we don’t, or are we all just trying to figure it out? For so many of us, our hearts and minds still feel that we are twenty-something young women who can take on the world. But in our bodies, the flexibility and strength that were once taken for granted are far from how we remember them. Every day we have to rise above the creaky joints and achy knees to earn the opportunity of moving through the world with a modicum of grace. 

Yet we do rise, because it’s a privilege to grow old, and every single day is a gift. Peter Pan’s mantra was, “Never grow up”; our collective mantra should be, “Never stop growing.” This collection of user-friendly stories, essays, and philosophies invites readers to celebrate whatever age they are with a sense of joy and purpose and with a spirit of gratitude.

PRAISE for A Delightful Little Book on Aging:
“Where are the elders? The wise women, the crones, the guardians of truth here to gently, lovingly, and playfully guide us towards the fulfillment of our collective destiny? It turns out that they are right here, in our midst, and Stephanie Raffelock is showcasing the reclamation of aging as a moment of becoming, no longer a dreaded withering into insignificance. A Delightful Little Book on Aging lays down new and beautiful tracks for the journey into our richest, deepest, and wildest years.” – Kelly Brogan, MD, author of the New York Times bestseller A Mind of Your Own

“A helpful, uplifting work for readers handling the challenges of growing older.” – Kirkus Reviews

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Interview with Stephanie Raffelock,

What inspired you to write A Delightful Little Book On Aging?
I came of age on the cutting edge of feminism. Like many other women I know, that historic fact informed my entire adult life. As a result, I’ve reinvented myself many times. Each reinvention is a step to awakening, and awakening is not a destination but a continuous process. I experienced a turning point in that process when I was writing for a large web site whose demographic was women sixty years and older. As I got to know them, I grew to know my subject matter better. I realized that these were the women who, like me, walked with feminism into their coming of age and never looked back.

So here we were, approaching the retirement years, and most of my readers wanted nothing to do with the word “retire.” Instead, they were rising up, embracing their mature voice, their mature being. They were making things–art, gardens, schools, encore careers, a place in the political world. We were not only reinventing ourselves but the cultural definition of what it means to grow older. And damn if there wasn’t a tremendous amount of vitality in that action.

A Delightful Little Book On Aging is a compilation of some of my original essays and posts about aging, as well as some newer material. The underlying theme of the book is that aging is a remarkable and noble passage, one that asks us to embrace our years.

What’s your best piece of advice for aging gracefully?
Through cultural conditioning and advertising, women often get the message that aging gracefully has to do with looking and acting younger than our years. As we start to embody the gifts of our older years, it’s easy to redefine that message because the newer message is not only for us, but for the younger generation: Our value in life has nothing to do with smooth skin or wrinkled skin. It has nothing to do with the size of our thighs. It’s not about how we look, period. That’s the message that we want young women to carry with them as they age, too.

Aging gracefully has everything to do with the expansiveness of our heart to be self-compassionate as well as compassionate to the younger women around us. We’re at the head of the line now, and we have to carry the banner: Aging gracefully means how we walk in gratitude, how we love ourselves and others, and how we nourish the attitude that we are strong and resilient in spirit. We want to be a light for each other and for a younger generation of women so that they too can know this sense of fullness. Aging gracefully is to become whole, and that is a path that only ends at death.

What has surprised you most about this book’s journey?
I didn’t realize that I would become such an outspoken activist and advocate for positive aging or how satisfying that would be. I’m being invited more and more to speak with various groups of women in corporate America about positive aging. I also started a podcast, called Coffee Table Wisdom, which has turned into a wonderful platform for sharing the message and the movement.

Describe your writing life.
My writing life is some combination of joyful chaos, self-doubt, and exhilarating creativity. I write early in the day for at least a couple of hours. I like mornings the best because there are no phone calls, errands, or demands to be addressed. I always caffeinate myself with a combination of strong black tea and chai. I’m usually working on a manuscript of some sort. As a rookie, many past manuscripts were filed away in the bin labeled  “Practice.”  Sigh. It’s a tough piece of truth, but as writers, we have to become intimate with and unafraid of the delete key. In addition to the manuscript, I’m always creating content for my website and for other sites and publications.

What are your future plans?
A Delightful Little Book On Aging was published by She Writes Press on April 28, 2020. I’m currently putting the final touches on  a full-length manuscript about the emerging strength and voices of mid-life women and beyond. The book will also be with She Writes Press and will be published in August of 2021.

Writing has always been for me a doorway into the examined life. The more I write, the more I understand things about myself, and that’s led me to a vision for my sixties and seventies: I want to be a woman who uplifts other women. I want to be a woman who encourages and supports younger women to find and follow their passion. And I want to be a woman who focuses daily on a heart that grows in love and gratitude for all beings and for this precious life.

Stephanie Raffelock is the author of A Delightful Little Book on Aging  (She Writes Press, April 2020). A graduate of Naropa University’s program in Writing and Poetics, she has penned articles for numerous publications, including the Aspen Times, the Rogue Valley Messenger, Nexus Magazine, Omaha Lifestyles,, and Stephanie is part of the positive-aging movement, which encourages viewing age as a beautiful and noble passage, the fruition of years that birth wisdom and deep gratitude for all of life.  She’s a recent transplant to Austin, Texas, where she enjoys life with her husband, Dean, and their Labrador retriever, Jeter (yes, named after the great Yankee shortstop). 

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TWO WINNERS: Signed hardcover copy of A Delightful Little Book on Aging + a set of 50 pocket inspirations
ONE WINNER: A set of 50 pocket inspirations
JULY 7-19, 2020

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Monday Roundup: Texas Literary Calendar - July 13-19, 2020

Bookish goings-on in Texas for the week of July 13-19, 2020, compiled exclusively for Lone Star Literary Life by Texas Book Lover.   

Most events are still online via Facebook Live, Instagram Live, Zoom, and other venues. 

For a complete calendar of bookish events in Texas this week, including special events, daily listings, and exhibits, visit the GO! Calendar at Lone Star Lit

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Lone Star Literary Life - July 12, 2020

Lone Star Literary Life is hot off the pixels!  

Check out my interview with Alexandra Burt on the houses of domestic suspense. 

Follow the link for the latest Texas bookish news, reviews, interviews, and goings-on, then subscribe to the newsletter--it's free!

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Excerpt & Giveaway: THE REPUBLIC OF JACK

Jeffrey Kerr

Political Satire / Texas Humor / Texas Fiction
Publisher: Independently published
Date of Publication: April 7, 2020
Number of Pages: 253

Scroll down for the giveaway!

Jack Cowherd will do anything to win the Texas governorship, even flirt with twenty-first-century secessionists in the Texas Patriot Party. Victory is achieved, but only at the cost of Texas being tossed out of the United States. The Republic of Texas lives again! And Jack is president. 

Friend and political advisor Tasha Longoria has long warned Jack of the dangers of his demagoguery. Now when he tries to halt the madness, the worst comes to pass: he is impeached, arrested, and charged with treason, the penalty for which is death.

Jack has but one chance to save his beloved Texas, not to mention his life. But success depends upon help from the one person least likely to give it . . . Tasha.

PRAISE for The Republic of Jack:

"Jeff Kerr's Republic of Jack is a ribald, raucous farce of Texas politics that often exposes the self-serving cynicism boiling beneath the surface of public debate."

—Texas political reporter R.G. Ratcliffe 

"Jeffrey Kerr's ideal Texas politician—a man truly for these bitter times—bites off more than any enabler could ever chew in this romp of a new novel, The Republic of Jack! It's time for readers to discover this writer's range, intelligence, humor, and, ultimately, compassion. Or maybe you should just go and see his movie or read his catalog of nonfiction titles! In any case, it's Jeff Kerr's time."

David Marion Wilkinson, author of Not Between Brothers and co-author of One Ranger


The Republic of Jack
Excerpt from Chapter 15

 At that moment, the old guy was preoccupied with studying the pattern in the carpet at his feet. The combination of dots and curved lines looked like a dog if you stared long enough, Fred thought, or maybe a rabbit. He dismissed the notion and raised his head to answer. “He’s probably busy banging an intern.”
Hopeful, Jack raised an eyebrow. “Have you heard something? Maybe we could use it.”
“No, they’ve shut that sort of thing down. Clinton ruined it for everybody.”
Tasha strolled into the room and dropped into a chair. “Felicia said to tell you that Harris is on the line.”
Jack snatched the phone. “Mr. President, thank you for taking my call.”
At his desk in the Oval Office, a relaxed President Harris leaned back in his stuffed chair and said, “Oh, so it’s ‘Mr. President’ now. I thought I was the ‘jack-booted thug.’”
Jack grimaced. “Mr. President, you know how things are on the campaign trail. I have always had the greatest respect for you.”
“What do you want, Jack?”
 “Well, it’s about that presidential order. Does that really count? I didn’t know a President could do that.”
“Absolutely, it counts. The attorney general and forty-eight state governors agree with me.”
“All except Rhode Island. Rhode Island shouldn’t even be a state. You’ve got counties in Texas bigger than Rhode Island.”
“Sir, uh, we didn’t secede.”
“I saved you the trouble. You’re welcome.”
“It just seems kind of hasty.”
“No, you've had this coming for years. Anyway, I can't take it back, we're already making a forty-nine-star flag. That way you get seven rows with seven stars each. Looks better like that, don't you think?”
“Yes, sir. I mean no, sir. You can’t take our star off the flag.”
“Can and did, Jack. You Texans are so proud of that lone star shit, so there you go, now you really are a lone star.”
“Maybe if I flew up there we could discuss it.”
“No dice, Jack, you'd need a passport. I'm told that takes about six weeks. Oh, costs a hundred bucks too.”
“You won’t let me come?”
“Gotta protect our borders, Jack.   Which you are now outside of. You Texans understand that.”
“But, sir—”
“Gotta go, Jack, got a country to run. Hey, let me know if you guys want to send an ambassador. You know, Earl Campbell, Willie Nelson, somebody like that.”
“Mr. President, can we talk about this? Mr. President?”  Jack slammed down the phone. “Shit, he hung up on me.”
“That sounded bad,” said Tasha with a sigh.
Jack massaged his temples. “Tasha, what am I gonna do?”
“Ask Fred. He’s been giving you such good advice.”
Fred bolted upright. “Hey, I was paid to do a job. Mission accomplished too, by the way.”
Tasha snorted. “If your mission was to flush us down the toilet, yeah, you did great.”
Fred grumbled something unintelligible and returned to his study of the carpet.
“Don’t get your britches in a twist, little lady.”  Charlie Clutterbuck had slipped into the room. “This is the greatest thing that’s ever happened to Texas.”
“That’s what I’ve been saying,” said Fred.
Charlie ignored Fred and marched up to Jack. “Mr. President, you’ve got a cabinet meeting in half an hour.”
Jack stopped massaging his aching temples and looked up at Charlie. “What are you talking about? I don’t have a cabinet.”
“A prospective cabinet, then. I took the liberty of inviting a few of the boys over for a sit-down.”
“No girls?” Tasha asked.
“Figure of speech,” said Charlie.
Are there any women?” said Jack.
“Well, no, but Senator Donaldson is an expert on women’s issues.”
Tasha’s jaw dropped in astonishment. “An expert on women’s issues? He’s the guy who forced the closure of all the Planned Parenthood clinics with his anti-abortion bill.”
“See? What did I tell you?”
 “I ran a campaign for him once,” said Fred. “We did have trouble with the vagina vote.”
Tasha angrily smacked her thigh. “The vagina vote?”
“Settle down, Wonder Woman,” said Charlie. “Women do have vaginas.”
“Yeah, it’s better than the ‘C’ word,” said Fred with a nod.
Charlie said, “He’s right, little lady, my ex-wife hated that word.”
Jack clasped his hands together and looked at Charlie.  “Where’s the meeting?”
Charlie smiled smugly at Tasha. “Conference room at the Capitol.”
Disgusted, Tasha stood and made for the door.
Jack said. “We’ll be there.”
Tasha stopped. “We?”
“Hey,” said Fred. “You wanted a woman there, didn’t you?”

Jeffrey Kerr is the author of three nonfiction books on Texas history, a historical novel, and, most recently, The Republic of Jack, a satirical novel that imagines Texas as an independent country in the twenty-first century. His history of Austin's founding, Seat of Empire: The Embattled Birth of Austin, Texas, was named one of sixty essential books about Texas by Michael Barnes of the Austin American-Statesman. Kerr also co-wrote and co-produced the documentary film, The Last of the Moonlight Towers, and a feature film, the psychological thriller Writer’s Block. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife and two dogs.

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One Winner: One signed copy of The Republic of Jack
July 7-17, 2020

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