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Photo Montage Created by Author Daniel L. Carter

by Daniel L. Carter

Reprinted from “A Christian Man’s Perspective”

 Daniel L. Carter: I am always pleased to introduce my readers to visiting authors but today is truly an honor. My guest today is not only a talented author but has been an interviewer to the stars for years. Ranging from Clint Eastwood to Jane Russell this talented woman could be categorized as a Hollywood schmoozer! Without any more introduction, I’m blessed to call Betty Dravis my good friend. Welcome to my website, Betty. Please introduce yourself to our readers.

Betty Dravis: Hi, Daniel, and everyone. Thanks for inviting me to “A Christian Man’s Perspective.” To start at my humble beginnings, I was born in Hamilton, Ohio, second youngest of seven children born to John and Felda (Crawford) Barger. I came to sunny California after I graduated from high school and liked it so well I never went back home to live. But, Go Bucks! (laughs)

Most of you know me as the quirky lady you bump into all over the Internet. You know, the one who’s always pushing her own books and books of her author friends. (laughs) In recent years, I’m best known for my celebrity interviews, including actors, authors and artists of all types, but during my career I was a journalist, newspaper publisher and hosted a TV talk show.

But first and foremost, I’m a mother and grandmother; my family is my “real” life. All else is just icing on my cupcake… I had six children, five daughters and a son, but two daughters are now angels in heaven, having left us too soon…too young. Those were the saddest times in my life, but I’m consoled that they’re in Heaven now and our family circle will be complete as each of us find our way to them when our time on earth is over. And rather than mourn our loss, I treasure their memories and the children they left behind. I have nine grown grandchildren, five precious great-grands and one adorable great-great grand. They are what keep me so young at heart and filled with energy.

Daniel L. Carter: You are amazing! Your most recent book Star Struck: Interviews with Dirty Harry and Other Hollywood Icons. Tell us about your book, Betty.

Betty Dravis: Well, Daniel, you asked the right question here. There’s nothing I like better than talking books with another author. As you know, I write in many genres of fiction and also write non-fiction. I actually have six books on the market; three still in print format, two that were print but now “e-incarnations,” and two more e-books.

My latest is a short e-book, Star Struck: Interviews with Dirty Harry and Other Hollywood Icons. In this book I share behind-the-scenes happenings of some of my favorite celebrity interviews. You know, Daniel, the usual: What led up to the interviews and my feelings and impressions during and after the meetings… Among those I was fortunate enough to interview were: Actor/Director Clint Eastwood, Senator Ted Kennedy, 40’s Star Jane Russell, Singer/Actress Tanya Tucker, Mayor Joseph Alioto and Actress Ann Sothern. Those were “heady” days for a young journalist just starting my writing career. As delighted as I was to land such coveted interviews back in the day, in this day and age, I’m crowing over the fact that John Locke wrote the foreword for Star Struck. I consider that a feather in my cap because John’s the darling of the “e-book crowd,” having been the first self-published author to sell a million books on Kindle. Wow!

Daniel L. Carter: Out of all the stars you’ve interviewed, which of them did you most identify with?

Betty Dravis: Of the six high-profile people in Star Struck, I more closely identified with Clint Eastwood because he was sought after by every writer in the world and I was grateful that he chose me. I was a bit in awe of him, but identified with him because he was so kind, complimentary and considerate to me during and after the interview. I admired what he’d accomplished before I met him, so followed his career with great interest. From that day forward, I strove to be as good a writer as he is an actor, so eventually turned to him as my role model.

Daniel L. Carter: You’re not just a great interviewer but you’re also a talented author. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Betty Dravis: At age eleven, I started writing poetry and little short stories–more like life observations, from this viewpoint many years later–but even though my family encouraged me and my high-school, creative-writing teacher marked my papers as “best in class,” it was years before I took it seriously. You see, Daniel, in those days we were trained and encouraged to be wives and mothers, so I didn’t take writing too seriously until after my first child was born. I started out in journalism, writing columns for local dailies in various cities and eventually worked up to publisher. I always wanted to write a novel–try my hand at fiction–but journalism was a more steady income, so with six children to raise, I stuck with newspapers. I didn’t have time to write my first novel until I retired at age 62.

Daniel L. Carter: You are my role model! (smiles) If you could give advice to other authors or aspiring authors what would say?

Betty Dravis: I would tell them to take as many classes as they can, read all the books on writing in their selective genres, and to keep at it. Write! Write! Write! Even if it’s just little thoughts that come to them from time to time, write it down. Practice is what makes us better at our craft. And never let life’s setbacks (or negative people) stop them. Of all the ultra-successful people I’ve interviewed, they have all agreed: Keep focused on what you really want to do and you’ll win in the end. Persevere!

Daniel L. Carter: Great advice, Betty! What source or sources do you draw from when creating a new story? Personal life, your faith, the world around you, all the above…?

Betty Dravis: That’s an easy question to answer, Daniel, but harder to describe. It’s all of the above! I truly believe that everything we’ve ever seen, heard, read or experienced becomes part of us at some hidden level and that all of our accumulated information and experience filters up through our subconscious when needed. Whether we need information for a book we’re writing or other circumstances in life, our cumulative life experiences are there for us when most needed.

Daniel L. Carter: If I asked you to pick one of your characters as your favorite who would it be and why?

Betty Dravis: I have many favorites, Daniel. In fact I like all my characters, for one reason or another. But in giving it deeper thought, I will have to choose David Wetterman, the weatherman-turned-prophet in my first-published novel, Millennium Babe: The Prophecy. Why? Because he’s such a funny, likable little guy… He’s definitely not the image of your average hero; he’s just an ordinary, kooky guy who always bungles things, but somehow manages to end up “smelling like roses.” He’s what you call a “real character.” On the order of Jim Carrey, I suppose…

Daniel L. Carter: What was your greatest challenge, personally, when writing Star Struck?

Betty Dravis: My current book, Star Struck, is non-fiction, so it came with a unique set of problems. Since these six celebrity anecdotes were previously published in Dream Reachers, I had to get permission from my co-author Chase Von to put them in this book. He readily agreed, so that problem resolved amicably. My second problem was that, in addition to photos I owned, I also wanted to publish a few photos of the celebrities from their public life. That entailed either getting their permission or finding photos in the public domain. Since some celebrities’ managers charge as much as $200 per picture and take too long getting back, I opted for the public domain. That took a bit of digging, but it all worked out. And finally, I had to sell my publisher, Wendy Dingwall of Canterbury House, on trying the 99-cents price. Thank God, she agreed.

Daniel L. Carter: That’s great that your publisher was willing to work with you on the pricing. What factors do you use that tell your book is done?

Betty Dravis: Daniel, I consider a story finished after I’ve answered all the questions (tied up all the loose ends), making everything clear to my readers. And I always proof-read my books several times, trying to catch all the “nits.” I believe what Stephen King says, though: He said (in so many words) that if he had waited until a book was perfect in his eyes, he would never have published a thing.

Daniel L. Carter: That is so very true! Tell us, Betty, why did you choose to write in different genres?

Betty Dravis: When I first started, I thought I would write in the horror and thriller genre because that’s what I love to read. However, life just threw particular stories at me and I ended up writing an epic romance about my beautiful older sister (faction, my word to mean it’s based on a true story but is highly dramatized for commercial reasons). Then The Toonies Invade Silicon Valley came at me in such an unusual way, I just had to write that young adult. Once again I lucked out with another “famous person” boosting me along. Steve “The Woz” Wozniak agreed to play a speaking role in my Toonies. And so it went…until I ended up with one romance, one YA, one supernatural fantasy adventure and two non-fiction celebrity interview books. And yes, Daniel, I finally wrote my thriller and a horror. (laughs) I have those in the wings, waiting for perfect timing to publish. I think you’ll like them.

Daniel L. Carter: I am so looking forward to buying my autographed copy! (grins ear to ear) Do you have any favorite authors?

Betty Dravis: Indeed I do, Daniel. In fact, I have many, but my all-time favorite author (living or dead) is Pat Conroy. He amazes me with his beautiful words, perfect phraseology, dialogue, plotting and everything. I absolutely adore his poetic, flowery­­–some critics say too flowery—prose and his similes are to die for. To me, he’s a genius…

I have at least a hundred authors that are friends on the Internet and many, including you, who are my new favorites. You have a surprising number of great writers on Author Central, your popular page on Facebook. Of the ones I’ve read, at least fifteen blew my mind with their powerful, entertaining stories. Wow! I wouldn’t want to offend anyone by mentioning my favorites; actually, there are too many to list.

Daniel L. Carter: (Laughing) That’s alright, Betty. I know where I stand in your heart… wink wink. Are you working on a book now, and if so, tell us a little bit about it?

Betty Dravis: In addition to the horror and thriller mentioned above–Evil Voices at Circle Lake and Dead Women Don’t Talk Back (both finished except for a final proof)–I’m trying to find time to finish a second in the young adult Toonies series: The Toonies Rock New York. It’s similar to the first Toonies, with good cartoon characters escaping out of a humanoid boy’s computer into the world. The bad ones follow them out and wreak all kinds of havoc as they try to destroy everything in their paths. It’s another story of good versus bad, with good winning in the end. (laughs)

Daniel L. Carter: Now that sounds fantastic! You could have them come out of their IPhone…hehehe. If you were stranded on a deserted island and could pick only two books to have with you, what would they be and why?

Betty Dravis: The first one is a no-brainer. I would choose The Holy Bible because it’s always been my inspiration and I need it to refresh me on a daily basis. I’d also like to take a book that I wrote, 1106 Grand Boulevard, because my family members are in it and it has special meaning to me; many fond memories of my parents and siblings. Since there are only two surviving from our family, I would most likely get the most benefit and enjoyment from that book.

Daniel L. Carter: Hopefully readers have guessed that I am very fond of you as a friend and a writer, Betty. I pray they caught of glimpse of what a special person you are. Before we say goodbye, I want to thank you for sharing with us today. I’m sure you have intrigued many today. Where can people go to get more information about you and your books?

Betty Dravis: Thanks for the opportunity to reach more people, Daniel, and for giving me a chance to share my links. I wish you best of luck with your amazing G-6 Chronicles trilogy. I’ve read the first two and they’re very exciting and original; love the children in your books. Can’t wait to read the third one.

My website: http://www.bettydravis.com

My Amazon Author Central page: http://tinyurl.com/7mqorjj

My DOD blog: https://damesofdialogue.wordpress.com/

My Orangeberry Books page: http://tinyurl.com/6t5khqy

Blessings,
Daniel L Carter
Author of The G-6 Chronicles

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about book covers lately. Since Canterbury House is converting two of my print books into E-Books—1106 Grand Boulevard and The Toonies Invade Silicon Valley, I not only had to have two new covers, I also needed a new trailer. Luckily for me, Kelly Komm, the inventive designer who did such an excellent video for Dream Reachers, was free to do another one for my E-Books. Please check it out at http://youtu.be/u-H8yXFnGyQ

I’m very pleased with the trailer and the new E-Book covers that Publisher Wendy Dingwall commissioned her awesome designer Tracy Arendt to create. Regarding the cover for 1106 Grand Boulevard, the house on the cover is my childhood home in Ohio and the man behind the wheel of the car is my late father, John Barger. He was age 90 when the photo was taken and passed away several years later. Variations of those photos are on the original print version of the book and on this new E-Book, so you must know that both these covers are very dear to me. Grand is a special book because it’s an epic romantic thriller that tells the tale of my beautiful older sister’s lifelong search for true love…through seven marriages and many adventures.

There’s a story behind each of my covers, as I’m sure there are with other covers. That’s what adds to the drama and makes life and the publishing industry such fascinating fun.

To purchase 1106 Grand Boulevard, check this link: http://tinyurl.com/6ankhwl

1106 Grand Boulevard has just been released and Toonies will soon follow. I’m setting a goal of 30,000 sales for Grand and with your help I’ll reach my goal and more. Then next time we’ll set the bar higher. I hope I can count on all my loyal friends and fans to plaster the link to Grand’s Amazon sales page all over the Net and around the world. http://tinyurl.com/6ankhwl  We are in this boat together and I could do none of it without you. Thanks. 🙂

But getting back to book covers, in general, I’ve always been attracted to great book covers and feel that an aesthetic cover is a key factor in drawing readers to a particular book. That said, the cover isn’t the ultimate deciding factor for me when purchasing a book: I always read a blurb about the content first and make my choice from the content of the book.

I still enjoy hearing from readers and authors about their favorite covers, so decided to ask a few people the question: What was the last book whose cover or jacket influenced your decision to read or buy it? Please read and enjoy.

JACKIE KRUDOP, founder of the popular internet website “Pacino Worldwide”: “The last book that influenced me was not by cover appearance, but rather by words of a press release! I purchased the very thin, quickly read The Humbling by Phillip Roth because I had read where the actor Al Pacino had bought the rights to the story with future plans of creating a film from it. Purchasing this was not a problem, as I love intrigue and suspense of a great storyline. A very grey, plain and simple cover, the book turned out to be an excellent read! That’s all I’ll say. As for Al? Yes! He’d be an excellent lead character in a movie based on this book. In fact, if you know that when you read it, it almost reads as if it were meant for him!”

CHRISTINE NOLFI, author of Treasure Me: “The last book I bought based on its cover was 2030 by Albert Brooks (purchased three weeks ago). The title was set in futuristic spectacles… I was also drawn in by the plot of elderly Baby Boomers taking too many resources needed by younger generations. As a fifty-two-year-old Boomer, I worry about this whenever I look at my four children, and consider the world they’ve inherited.”

SUSAN ALCOTT JARDINE, author of The Channel, Stories from L.A.: “Last year while in our now-departed Barnes and Noble store, I was searching for a book to purchase with a gift card we had received. I searched the aisles and looked at all the featured publisher books arranged on the tables. One particular book kept drawing me back to look at the back jacket and read about the book, but it was the cover that kept drawing me back. The book is A Dog’s Purpose and the cover was so simply and beautifully rendered, I couldn’t resist. A picture is worth one thousand words.”

RAMONA CARDENAS, hairdresser at Happily Retired, “Hello, Ms. Dravis… The last book I read was Falling Leaves by Adeline Yen Mah. On its cover is a photo of five children, all blurred out except for Adeline. It’s the memoir of an unwanted Chinese daughter… The look on her face… The sense of her sadness… I felt a connection to her pain and had no idea that I would be reading my own story.”

JENNIFER YOUNG, poet: “Well, I’m partial to both Dream Reachers books written by Betty Dravis and Chase Von. LOL. But honestly, I adored Chase’s second book, Your Chance to Hear the Last Panther Speak. It’s not only an original title, but the panthers on the cover are awesome. It stated it was poetry, but the cover and title were so strong I knew something intense was inside.”

BLACKSTONE EDGE: “Of course, I was very influenced by the cover of Susan Alcott Jardine’s book The Channel: Stories from L.A. because Susan did such a marvelous job of choosing the images she wanted us to work with from a stock library that embodied the collection of short stories. It was in working with her chosen images to make them coalesce as one single, eye-catching image that we were driven to create a cover that draws the eye and, hopefully, the pocketbook. Always honored to be supportive of Susan’s talents, of which there are many. Best of luck with your book’s opening. I’ll have some exciting news of my own to announce in the near future… So stay tuned!”

DANIEL L. CARTER, author of The Unwanted trilogy: “The last book that I purchased where the cover had a large part in the decision was The Superlative Stream by Kerry Nietz. The color and imagery caught my eye. The way that the artist put the cover together made it look mysterious. It’s truly a great cover.”

JESSICA GILBERT, founder of Talent Spotlight Magazine: “Oh, Betty, it has been awhile since I purchased one based on the cover. The last one I bought based on a catchy cover that I saw at the store is called The 30-Day Heartbreak Cure by Catherine Hickland. Catchy title and cover… Fantastic read, too, and got great reviews as well.

CAROL DENBOW, author of six books, says, Sullivan’s Secret by Robin Murphy just came out and I loved the cover, so I ordered it. Think you might like it too. I read it in one sitting!”

 All seven versions of Betty Dravis’s books are pictured below. www.bettydravis.com

All seven versions of Betty Dravis's books.

by Betty Dravis

As most of you know, I’m a big ham and a Drama Queen who enjoys tooting my own horn. The good news is that I’m forgiven by everyone because I also enjoy tooting theirs… I love people and it shows!

So by way of celebrating the release of my latest book and to tell you about two more to follow, I decided to write this blog and invite some of my favorite authors to answer a fun question, thus giving them some good PRESS also.

I’m also introducing a new author, C. Robert Lee,  a high-school friend whose first book will soon be published.  (YES, people of our generation are still active and productive, so knock off those snide remarks, please…)  After you read about my latest books and go purchase Dream Reachers II on Amazon.com or BN.com, then and only then can you finish reading this blog. 🙂

DREAM REACHERS II is second in a series of celebrity interview books wherein my co-author Chase Von and I interview high-achievers who work hard to make their dreams come true. Some are celebs, like Bryant McGill, founder of the Good Will Peace Treaty & famous author/radio host; actress Katherin Kovin Pacino (Al’s Step-mother); Actor/Director Tony Tarantino (Quentin’s father); Hollie “Hot Stuff” Dunaway, four times world female boxing champio; SOP and American Perspective Founder Judyth Piazza, etc. And some are average people like you and me. This book has been two years in the making, following the publication of the first Dream Reachers. It can be purchased on any online bookstore, but here’s the most popular link: http://tinyurl.com/3gdw4gz

Published by Von Chase Publishing Company of Southern California.

(We all adore the photo of the beautiful actress and pop star Darcy Donavan on the cover of the first Dream Reachers, but are elated with the cover on DRII. It’s adorned by a rare, special photo of the gracious, talented actress Katherin Kovin Pacino. The cover has a special story behind it and deserves a blog of its own…which I promise to write in the near future.) You will see what I mean in the montage below:

TWO MORE BOOKS COMING SOON: Another dream of mine is being fulfilled by a two-book contract with Canterbury House Publishing who is re-releasing my most popular out-of-print books… I’ve desired to bring back 1106 GRAND BOULEVARD and THE TOONIES INVADE SILICON VALLEY in the innovative e-Book format, so am pleased that Wendy Dingwall of Canterbury House took an interest in me. When she told me she was going to “take Toonies to the moon” she blew me away… I expect her to keep her word because I’m ready for some heady adventures. 🙂

Following is a montage of the covers of the new e-Books and the two DR books (my latest works). When I signed up with Canterbury I had no idea they would work so fast and that the release of the e-Books would come so close to the release of DRII… Double PR work, but with the help of my friends and readers, like you, the word will spread. I am impressed with the covers on all these books, aren’t you? 🙂

OK, and now that you have ordered MY books, I welcome you back so you can check out my guests and order their creative books. There is something here for all literary tastes: YA, Romance, Mystery, Humor, Dark Humor, Fantasy, Adventure, etc. – Betty Dravis – http://www.bettydravis.com

Chris Platt, Author of Willow King, RWA Golden Heart Award Winner

I’m Chris Platt and I write horse books for the eight-to-thirteen-year-old crowd. My fifteenth book just came out this past September, but the character that I liked best came out of my second book, Race The Wind, and she wasn’t even a main character. RTW was a sequel to my first book, Willow King, and I was looking to add a new character to the ones already established in the first book. The character of Camela, a little blind girl, kept popping into my head.

I kept tossing the idea out because it would be really tough to be around horses and stay safe if you couldn’t see. But the idea wouldn’t go away, so I put the little girl in the book and had a great time writing that character. Even though she was blind, she had excellent hearing and a good sense of place and distance. When there were people she didn’t like, she’d trip them with her cane, then stand around and look all innocent. She also spouted old Irish sayings that she got from her grandpa. I need to write another character like that; she was a lot of fun and very courageous.

Chris Platt – RWA Golden Heart Winner – http://tinyurl.com/3uz3qmx

Author Michele Van Ort Cozzens Has an Easy Choice

My favorite character is Anne Shields from the novel Irish Twins—although I must pause and reflect on whether or not I can claim full responsibility for “creating” her. Anne, an eighty-year-old woman who dies while water-skiing and then narrates this family saga from the afterlife, has a rather provocative opening line:

“I have a little God in me,” she claims.

Granted, I created that line for her—and no matter how many workshop critics didn’t approve of it—I kept it for good reasons. There were powerful forces of imagination at work as I told the story of her life; however, Anne Shields was based on the true character of my mother, who did indeed die back in 1999 while water-skiing. Since my mother didn’t share much about her life with me, or any of her children, I elected to use the few things I did know to tell the story called Irish Twins, and made up the rest. Because her character was developed with love and respect, she materialized on the pages in a manner that made her not only loveable to me—which encouraged me to continue writing—but also to my readers.

When initially work-shopping the material that would become Irish Twins, I had used multiple voices. Anne was first, but I also used her sister—her Irish Twin Molly—who greets her in the afterlife, and the voices of Anne’s children—her own Irish Twins, Jenny and Caylie. Anytime I posted a chapter that wasn’t narrated by Anne, a wave of protests ensued. Readers, without question, wanted MORE ANNE!

Even though the story begins with Anne’s death, she is the driving force and heart and soul of this tale. Having her voice in my head as I wrote kept my actual mother alive for me, and it helped me to appreciate her life and her choices in ways I never anticipated. I also didn’t anticipate the incredible loss I felt once I finished writing the story. For a brief time, it was like losing her all over again.

I truly believe that because of Anne Shields and my mom—twins in my mind—Irish Twins is the best thing I’ve ever written.

Michele Van Ort Cozzens – http://tinyurl.com/3fv4ysk

Author Lance Carbuncle Has a Tough Choice

It’s a funny thing trying to come up with a good answer to the question: “Who is the favorite character you ever created?” It’s kind of like trying to decide which one of your children you love most. It is an unfair question and, for me, one that’s impossible to answer. I’ve created many characters (and many children) and I love each and every one of them in different ways and for different reasons.  But, I would have to say that currently, I am quite proud of the titular characters of Grundish and Askew. I can’t say that I like one more than the other. They complete each other and come together as a single unit (much like one can consider a married couple as one person). Considered individually, each character would come off as slovenly, immoral, corrupt, contemptible, violent and scary. They are the kind of guys that you would give a wide berth on the street. But together they bring out each other’s humanity and even become (hopefully) loveable in some twisted way.

I found my inspiration for Grundish and Askew in the Elvis-obsessed Japanese lovers in Jim Jarmusch’s Mystery Train.  At this point, I cannot even remember much about the movie or the couple. But I do know that I loved the interaction between them. Something about the way that they argued, but clearly still cared about each other, gave me the starting point that I wanted for Grundish and Askew. I wanted them to argue about things constantly. I wanted them to get on each other’s nerves. And, in the end, I wanted them to be the most important things in each other’s lives. Those two white-trash, bottom-of-the-barrel losers had nothing. They lived in a trailer park amidst a swarm of convicted sex offenders. In Grundish’s case, he repeatedly found himself incarcerated. Those boys couldn’t keep jobs or girls or even self-respect. But together, they found something meaningful. They found true friendship of a quality that many will never be lucky enough to experience.

I loved the challenge of taking two detestable bums and digging deep to try to make my readers feel a connection to them. Yes, Grundish and Askew burglarize houses. They’re dirty and probably smelly. Grundish abuses substances and sleeps with his probation officer to avoid being thrown back in prison. Askew becomes an out-of-control psychotic – he kills and maims people. These are guys on an absurd crime spree. But through it all they stick together. They have each other’s backs. They are family. And, somehow, despite the fact that they should be thoroughly unlikable, I think my readers want to see Grundish and Askew come out on top at the end of the book. And that, for me, was the joy of creating the characters of Grundish and Askew – taking those two good-for-nothings and somehow crafting them to be endearing characters.

Lance Carbuncle – http://tinyurl.com/3e5ocnl

Deborah Grace Staley: on Miss Estelee of the Angel Ridge Series

I write a series called the Angel Ridge Novels in which three of six have been published by Bell Bridge Books. Book One was Only You (May 2009), Book Two was A Home for Christmas (December 2009), and Book Three was What the Heart Wants (September 2010). Book Four will be out later this year.

Angel Ridge is a small southern town in East Tennessee filled with a cast of, shall we say, “unique” characters that readers get to visit each time they read one of the novels; that’s the series part. Each novel also features a different sweet romance.

I think my favorite character in Angel Ridge has to be Miss Estelee. She’s the town’s oldest resident. In fact, she’s so old, no one knows how old she is. No one knows her last name either. She lives in the oldest house in the town proper. The streets are lined with hundred-year-old Victorians, but her house doesn’t have all the fancy architectural details of a Victorian, save the gingerbread trim, which has angel’s wings in it.

Legend has it that an angel appeared to the first settlers in Angel Ridge and saved them from an Indian attack. In appreciation, the settlers named the town Angel Ridge (see the short story that appears at the end of Only You). Miss Estelee has a particular attachment to the focal component of the Town Square: a bronze statue of a warrior angel standing sentinel on a brick pedestal. She sees that flowers are planted around him in the spring and fall. She also says he reminds her of her only love, yet she never married.

Miss Estelee turns up at odd times in the novels, as if she knows in advance where she’s needed. She’s full of folksy wisdom for the town’s residents, particularly in matters of the heart. There were women in Southern Appalachian history known as “granny women.” These women just knew things, like what sex a baby would be, when someone was coming, how to heal common ailments, and when something bad was about to happen. Some people from outside these mountain communities called these women witches. Having come from a long line of these women, I say they were full of common sense, practical knowledge and were more than a little clairvoyant.

Another oddity about Miss Estelee is that when she’s around, nothing bad seems to happen. But when she’s gone, like the time she disappeared in the middle of What the Heart Wants, trouble abounds in Angel Ridge. Readers have speculated that Miss Estelee is an angel. When asked to confirm or deny, I can only say, “What do you think?” Truth is, I don’t think I’ll know myself until I write the last word of Book Six.

For more information on the Angel Ridge Series, see http://www.deborahgracestaley.com and http://www.bellbridgebooks.com. Books may be purchased at http://www.amazon.com. For a chance to win an autographed book, “like” Deborah Grace Staley’s Fan Page on Facebook.

Deborah Grace Staley – http://tinyurl.com/5vve2xj

 Poet Dawn Huffaker Selects Her Favorite Poet

What poet do I admire, and why? Well, as a teenager, my first love was Robert Frost. His poems would draw me in and totally captivate me. The nature poems were my favorite. I felt as if I was there with him and could see the poetic scene of deep snow or falling leaves.

As I compared our writing styles, I noticed that they were very similar. The poems were:

1.   about nature or country life

2.   in blank or free verse form

3.   with a “bigger picture” message as a poem’s basis

4.   inspirational and meaningful

There was a poster in my bedroom. It had a light green frame around a forest of trees. At the bottom was written the last few lines of A Road Not Taken. They were:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

-Robert Frost

When I saw those words for the first time, they gave me chills. They were words to live by. I decided to use them as my philosophy.

Time moved on. High school came and went. College flew by. Then, I had to make a decision for a job. At that time, working with computers was a more stable income than trying to publish poetry. I founded a local computer store. Kept it running for seventeen years. After a lengthy illness, the business was closed in the spring of 2007.

As a hobby, I have returned to writing. Still not completely well, but I have progressed quite a ways. I compose poetry and short stories while looking out into the forest from my window. It is a very peaceful and inspiring place to be.

Robert Frost encouraged me to see the beauty all around me. And, after my business closed, I came back to the two roads in his forest and I’ve chosen the road less traveled again. I thank him for both of these.

In closing, I’d like to share one of my poems.

Night Made Day

Night made day

By moon on snow.

Sleeping trees whisper

In their dreams.

Biting air keeps the animals

In their burrows.

Branch shadows glide across snow

With ease.

I look out with wonder

At the scene before me.

Magical it has become

After the mighty storm.

Nothing is as it was, and

The world is weighted down.

Only the wind can come and go

As it pleases.

What a blessing it is

To live in my mountain home!

God’s handiwork is so close

I can touch it with my own hands.

Indeed, I am made rich with the bounty

That is set right before me.

Nothing man-made can compare

With His Masterpiece.

2011 © Dawn L. Huffaker

All rights reserved.

 I’ve self-published two books. One is a collection of poems that were written over twenty-five years. The title is Flights of Fancy (Volume 1). The next book is a collaboration with a floral photographer, Michele Duncan, where I wrote a poem for each of her wonderful photos. The title for this one is Flower Escapes (Book 1). The poems are about God’s garden. They give an inspirational boost to people who need a little TLC. Both are at Amazon and Lulu.

Dawn Huffaker – http://tinyurl.com/3vbmonk

Author Laurel Rain Snow’s Characters Are Her Friends

My characters feel like they are my friends, especially the ones who show up again and again, like Rainbow Luft. We meet her in Miles to Go, at a point in her life when the secrets of her past are beginning to surface. We see her again in Web of Tyranny, in “prequel” moments that showcase her time during the 1960s.

When she first appears on the canvas in MTG, she is an artist who supports herself after the end of her marriage by working in restaurants, and then later takes a job in an art gallery.

In the early 1970s, she is still clinging to the freewheeling “hippie” lifestyle, and, as someone once described her, she looks like a “moving sculpture” with colorful layers draped over her body. Her frizzy hair stands out like an aura around her slightly moon-shaped face. But her ebullient energy, combined with a peaceful demeanor, draw others to her.

She first meets Lindsay Malone and Gia Greenbaum in a consciousness-raising group in midtown Sacramento. To the others in the group, she is like a leader. She seems to have incorporated all the feminist teachings and epitomizes everything about freedom and independence that the others only dream of espousing.

But beneath that serene exterior lie the secrets of the past that haunt her. What happened to Rainbow in her turbulent teens that led her to a commune in the sixties? And what deeply buried pain continues to daunt her days, even as she pursues her art? Who will finally unlock the key to the previous versions of Rainbow and lead her into a happier life? And then, when she finally believes that the past has been dealt with, what betrayals will catapult her backwards into pain and despair?

Laurel Rain Snow – http://tinyurl.com/5srynrn

 Circles of Destiny Author C. Robert Lee Chooses Professor Danny Barcea

This blog is about a character from Book One of the trilogy, Circles of Destiny, titled The Other Face of God. The story is set in the Peru of 1968. This book will be published by Imajin books and be available as an e-book around July 1, 2011.

Professor of anthropology, Danny Barcea, PhD, finds a way to non-violently free 2,567 feudal serfs whose ancestors have been attached by law to a forty-thousand acre fundo for four hundred years. He helps them gain title to the fundo and teaches them how to compete in a twentieth-century marketplace.

By 1955, the professor’s teachings and actions shame the Peruvian legislature into passing an emancipation law that goes widely unenforced . By 1968, two percent of the population owns ninety-eight percent of all arable land. Oligarchic large land owners are frightened and infuriated by a new president sympathetic to land reform. The lords of the fundos back a dictator-in-the-making to assassinate the president and to establish a secret policy of genocide to stop the outcries for land reform generated by the professor’s ideas and actions.

The professor’s assassination is made to look like an accident on a mountain road between his car and a bus in which forty-eight people die fiery deaths. The blueprint of his work in the form of an autobiographical manuscript is hidden deep underground in a secret vault known only to his son and daughter who are now marked for death by the dictator. On his last night alive, Danny Barcea shares secrets with Father Ryan that he would never share with a family member. The professor’s work becomes the seminal reality that subsequently results in land reform without civil war.

His spirit of sacrifice and generosity resonates throughout the trilogy. The name of the corporation he forms on behalf of the Indian owners is an ancient Quechan word, Achirana, that means: That Which Is Clean Flowing Into That Which Is Beautiful.

Excerpt from The Other Face of God:

Epitaph on professor Danny Barcea’s gravestone.

HE GAVE LAND REFORM A HEART AND POURED HIS OWN BLOOD INTO IT

 Loud applause greeted President Ricardo Soriano’s arrival on stage at Danny’s Wake. He began, “Most of you don’t know that Danny Barcea was my best friend. We both enrolled at Cornell University the same year, Danny in Anthropology, me in Architecture. He was best man at my wedding.

“We had a lot of disagreements as young men often do who are trying to set a course for their lives. The question Danny always asked himself was ‘Does this action help without hurting?’ One of his eternal verities that went on to include ‘Does this act contain any seeds of self deception that in time will grow into a choking vine of self destruction? If so, it will also hurt others as well and should be avoided at all costs.’

“Almost every day of my life I have awakened with Danny’s question. Finding an answer to the question has saved me from making many mistakes. His legacy of love for the disenfranchised will last forever.”

ENDNOTE: Bob’s new website is under construction and I’ll share the link when he launches it and his first book. Best of luck, my friend.

Author Linda Rettstatt Invites Readers to Meet Photographer Rylee Morgan

My favorite character is photographer Rylee Morgan in Shooting Into the Sun. When I began to develop this story (no pun intended), I started with the title and mindful of one of the cardinal rules of outdoor photography: Never shoot into the sun. The story unfolded from the ‘what if’ question: What if a young female nature photographer worked according to the rules of her trade and lived her life in much the same manner—within the bounds of the rules? What I love about Rylee Morgan is that she is eventually willing to admit, at least to herself, that the rules keep life orderly, but also keep her lonely.

I needed a character who was strong and who had been shaped by events in her past that had a negative impact on her and skewed her view of life. And to highlight Rylee’s strengths and challenge her character flaws, I created Lexie—her younger sister and polar opposite. Many readers have been drawn to Lexie and asked about a sequel telling her story. Well, we’ll see about that.

Rylee is both complex and transparent all at once. She’s not that good at disguising her emotions or her motives. Her list of rules mostly consists of the things one does not do, leading Lexie to ask Rylee if she even has a ‘do’ list. The rules are what give Rylee’s life order and safety. But I admire her willingness to finally take chances when she comes to terms with the fact that those things that create safe boundaries to keep the bad out are the very same things that keep her locked inside. It’s not easy for Rylee to admit she’s wrong or to let her guard down. But a cross-country trip with Lexie and the hitchhiker, Josh, whom Lexie invites to join them, stretches Rylee’s rule book to the limit.

Rylee’s transformation is not without cost, soul-searching and a lot of emotional turmoil. But she dares to delve into the depths of her own fear and anger to find freedom and happiness.

I like to think that Rylee is a composite of women I’ve known. But my friends who have read Shooting Into the Sun tell me Rylee has a lot of my qualities, characteristics and stubbornness. Okay, so maybe they’re right—just a little bit. And perhaps that’s why, of all the characters I’ve come to know, Rylee holds a special place in my heart. That and the fact that as a former psychotherapist, I love to see someone plumb the depths of their inner fears and past hurts and come out whole. Who doesn’t love a happy ending?

Linda Rettstatt – http://www.lindarettstatt.com

2010 Author of the Year – Champagne Books

by Betty Dravis

Betty Dravis: Welcome to Dames of Dialogue, Bryant. I’m honored that you found time in your busy schedule to be with us and share your life journey. I met you indirectly through my Dream Reachers co-author Chase Von, but we have many friends in common.

As I understand it, your main mission in life is to create peace and harmony, not only throughout the world, but in individual lives. Since you reach and touch the lives of tens-of-millions of people, you have achieved beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. Where were you born, and what were you like as a child? I’d also like to know how and when you got started on your current path. Were you always a soulful person “with a mission?”

Bryant McGill: First, let me thank you, Betty, for the opportunity to participate in this interview. I have always been fond of your Dream Reachers books, mainly because they reveal to others the power every person has to live amazing and purposeful lives; purposeful in the deepest sense. I am also thankful to Chase Von through whom we met.

You asked where I was born and what I was like as a child. I was born in the deep south, in Mobile, Alabama, which is also known as the Azalea City. I was raised on a little dirt road in the country, in a town called Semmes. I spent much of my childhood outdoors. We had animals and horses and acres of open fields. I would hike deep into the woods, drink from running streams and sit in pear trees, eating pears, cut with a child’s pocketknife.

I was a sensitive, creative and funny child, who liked to make people laugh. But there was also a part of me which was defiant, willful and curious. I was born asking the question we are disingenuously encouraged to ask and always punished for when we do… That question is, Why? That question, more than anything, will get you into trouble if you are a child, or an adult. And so it was that I was a trouble-maker, and a natural system buster. I think secretly, many people hope someone will ask the questions they themselves are afraid to ask, even though they will likely punish the person asking.

I guess that is my optimistic way of looking at “Tall Poppy Syndrome.” Deep down I wanted to know why and if the answer did not agree with my own instincts, there was a hardened steel of defiance in me; a rock that the hammer of so-called authority broke upon, when trying to forge me into its likeness. I realized many years later, that my methods of exerting and protecting my independence and originality had been deeply flawed, immature and ungraceful, in a brute-force way. You see, my understanding of power and strength, were modeled after the society in which I was raised; a spiritually sick society. To me, strength was a show of force; strength was hardness; strength was toughness. This is what most people learn about strength from observing the alleged seats of power, in the form of police, government, military…and from school, TV and society in general.

Fortunately, as a seeker and lifetime student of the world, the seeds of softness and sensitivity had been sown in my soul by wiser, gentler hands, and I found my way to a more graceful understanding of the true nature of true power. As the Sufi’s once knew, I now know: that just like water, softness overcomes that which is hard. I know this sounds counter-intuitive, but water, though it is infinitely yielding, will cut through a canyon of the hardest granite. It reshapes the hard and strong, in the contour of its flow of energy. No power can overcome water, though it can easily be conquered.

There are gentle ways of sculpting one’s life, and the world, with time, invitation, gentleness, cooperation and surrender. There is a subtle beauty and power in surrender; a cooperation with the divine. When one learns to focus energy through surrender and sensitivity, they become what I call, “reality benders.” I have had a wonderful journey from childhood to this time called, the NOW. And because it was my wish, I have become the best parts of my childhood. All I ever wanted was to be that pure child. A child’s world is a magical place. My life is still magical and always will be. So if you want to know what I was like as a child, the essence of that child still lives within me and his gentle innocence is my truest strength.

Now, to answer your question about how I got started and if I have always been a soulful person with a mission… Well, from a young age, something kept whispering to me that things were not right with the world; that something was not right with me, as a product of an unnatural and dis-eased society. There was a call in my heart to journey beyond the confines of the path placed before me and one day I answered that call. As a troubled teen, with deep turmoil and fear in my heart–and with two apples and twelve dollars as my only possessions–I opened my door, walked to the highway at the end of my country dirt road, stuck out my thumb and like a leaf in the wind, blew away into the great, wide-open world. I hitch-hiked thousands of miles away… I left my friends, family and hometown, and did not return or communicate much for twenty years. I went on a journey…a journey within.

At a certain point on this journey, I began disconnecting myself from the construct of lies and illusions people feed on in the consumer-driven, consensus-reality called, “the modern civilized world.” I turned off the television for twenty years. I unplugged myself. I worked to erase the programs that had been written into the fabric of my consciousness by our hidden masters. I began dismantling the artificial edifices that had been erected in my heart, mind and soul from birth, by unknown builders. Brick by brick, word by word–advertisements, slogans, clichés, judgments– layer by layer, I took down the false idols and symbols of identity, belief, self, pride, ego, ambition, and so-called knowledge. I questioned every belief and fact a person can “know.” I doubted everything, especially that which I “knew” with no doubt. Something in me told me not to believe! “Unknowing” became my comfortable friend.

Decades later when I would learn of the Zen mantra “great doubt, great awakening; little doubt, little awakening; no doubt, no awakening,” I could only smile knowing this simple truth had transformed my life in so many ways. Buddha’s admonition that one “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your common sense” had been a golden path I had instinctively followed, that led me to a grand reunion with my original self, my authentic-self, my higher-self, my true soul, and my innermost beauty.

I turned off the lights and lit a candle. I opened the window and listened to the wind, and in that quietness I could hear the whispers from within, “Freedom… Truth… Beauty… Peace… Love…” I stood outside and looked up into the vault of the heavens. I invited truth and God into my life. I let the animals, the sun, the stars, the moon, the insects, the fire, water and elements, and the quietness become my teachers. And as the saying goes, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear,” so it was that when I was ready, the teachers did appear. One after the other, some of the greatest minds in history would open their lives and hearts to me with their friendship, mentoring and tutelage. Eminent naturalists, great poets, renowned thinkers, prolific authors, great spiritualists; these elders, all appeared one-by-one, each offering me a gift, which was given in love and selflessly, for they knew then what I know now.

Then one day, I looked around and saw that the ugly world was a different and more beautiful place, because I was different and more beautiful. I had somehow emerged on the other side of the looking glass. I was on what I call “The Beautiful Path,” a positive life path, walking hand-in-hand with the dreamers, believers, lovers and keepers of the faithful vision of a kinder and more beautiful world.

Betty Dravis: Oh, Bryant, my heart goes out to that young boy who had to run from home to find himself… But it worked for you, and you have accomplished so much that it’s difficult to choose the highlights for this interview. Having observed you for years, I know you try to remain modest, so I hope you don’t mind if I mention some of your most phenomenal accomplishments. To me it seems that founding the Goodwill Treaty for World Peace–along with being acknowledged and upheld by so many individuals and government bodies as a de facto Ambassador of Goodwill around the world–are some of the brightest stars in your crown. Further, being formally recognized with a Congressional Commendation by the United States Congress, honoring your “highly commendable life’s work as a Goodwill Ambassador at Large, for World Peace” must feel like an enormous validation of your work, ideas and principles. How does all this make you feel?

Lesley "Chase" Barton

Bryant McGill: You know, Betty, some of these recognitions you are speaking of were given to both myself and my beautiful friend in all things positive, Lesley “Chase” Barton. It is really because of Lesley that some of these astounding honors were awarded. Lesley has done so much for others…and for me. For me personally, when these grand things happen, I feel like it is not really happening to me. Later I forget, and then when I remember I am amazed at what has happened. There are times I can hardly even believe it myself. But always after the elation, soberness is usually not far behind because I know that with these honors come deep responsibilities.

The acknowledgments I have received are not only exciting, they are useful, and given with a purpose of encouragement. Each recognition represents a small transference of power, energy and permission to operate in a jurisdiction of worldly affairs; they are tools that make moving forward and opening doors easier, allowing me to inevitably do more good work in the world. I view each of these honors as a trust granted to me by society; a trust that must not be broken.

Betty Dravis: Spoken like a man of integrity, Bryant. Your statements are deeply profound… Now, many people learned through the news–and even more widely, through your national, public service announcements on TV with Lenny Kravitz and Lou Gossett, Jr.–that you had been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. How did you feel to know that a group of deans, college chancellors, professors and politicians would respect your work enough to make such a nomination possible?

Bryant McGill: I was really shocked and surprised. I am, of course, grateful to those people, and I feel that it was a sign that we are on the right path, but truly, the journey has just begun. The state of the world is sad, and when I say the world, I mean the real world–the source of the current world’s state–I mean the world makers, the creators: us. There is no “world” outside of what we create.

We can do so much better. We must. We will.

I can do so much better. I must. I will.

I have literally just scratched the surface; I have just begun. I know that many sense a new age of simplicity and peace on the horizon, and many are ready to begin the wonderful service of making that world real. I know you also mentioned the World Charity Day PSA, and I would like to thank them for my inclusion in their project. It was a lot of fun filming in Hollywood and participating with them. And I must also say that I love Lenny’s music and style, and I hope to collaborate with him one day…to write songs about peace. I would just love that! I can’t help it. I love all the musicians, artists, dreamers and believers. Let’s just all believe together and we will be amazed at what will happen next. As a humanity of people, we always create what is in our hearts; we always bring that which is within us out and make it real in the world. Creating peace and beauty is easy. It is just a matter of what vision and desire we carry in our hearts. 

Betty Dravis: Bryant, I knew you were a popular man—what today they call a “hot commodity”–but until I started researching for this interview, I didn’t realize how famous you really are. Even though your life goals are very altruistic, in many ways you remind me almost of a socialite monk, or a humanitarian rock star… If there is such a thing, you are it! I get that impression because you are everywhere. The Wall Street Journal even ran a front-page article about you and your celebrity friends, and you are constantly seen in all the glam places around the world, with living legends like the late Michael Jackson, to popular film stars, billionaire business moguls, and even royalty. You have “hung-out” with hundreds of the most prominently successful individuals in the world. You must have an incredible time with some of these very creative and talented people. What are some of the things you have learned through your experiences?

Bryant McGill: I love to be around cutting-edge, creative people, Betty. I find that many of these people are also on the cutting edge of humanitarian and social issues. However, I actually spend most of my time alone and meditating, writing or creating. My time alone is very important. Believe it or not, even though I am a very public person, I am also a very private person. I spend much more time alone–on creative endeavors, or working with my clients, or involved in humanitarian projects–but, when I do get out, I like to shake things up, have a good time and meet stellar new friends.

I have learned so many things from these experiences you mention. I have worked with many of these people as a life coach–or what I sometimes call a “soul coach” or motivator. I have worked with celebrity entertainers, top CEOs, doctors, professional and Olympic athletes, politicians, and top performers during career turn-arounds and personal breakthroughs.

Through these experiences I have learned some very important things. First and foremost: money prestige and power have absolutely nothing to do with happiness. The more money you have, the more zeros your problems have on the end. If you were to talk with the richest people on earth, they would probably tell you that they need another billion dollars…and fast. When you get rid of any problem in life, like money, you get a whole new set of problems. The trappings of materialism and material pursuits are ubiquitous and permeated through all layers of the social economic strata, from the very bottom to the very top.

I have learned that there is no such thing as a human experience without pain, turmoil and strife. It is very easy to look around at the illusion of life placed before you–other people driving nicer cars, wearing nicer clothes, making more money, having more toys–and to think that these people “have it made,” and to wonder to oneself, How did these people do this, and why can’t I have this type of success and happiness. But the truth is: that behind the scenes of any great or idyllic life there exists the same exact personal crises–emotional turmoil, family problems, financial dilemmas and painful human experiences, losses, trials and tribulations–that exist for every other human being who has ever lived.

I have found this knowledge to be an important part of my own development as a person of compassion. Because I now know that every person I encounter, no matter who they may appear to be, is likely to be dealing with powerful problems and having a very difficult time in some sphere of their life. They may be a billionaire, but perhaps they don’t get the love they feel they need from their significant other. They may walk in the nicest clothing, with a strong and confident gait, but around the corner and in their quiet places alone, they wilt into tears over losses, guilt or regrets.

Life can be hard for everyone and this is why it is so important for us to all treat others gently, with courteousness, patience, and with an open mind and heart. You never know what that other person is going through at that moment, or how your smile may make it possible for them to make it through another day, or how your impatience or unkind words, may devastate them, sending them into deeper despair. This is why I am so careful, so conscientious, and so very mindful about the way in which I deal with others. I am very mindful, not only about my words, but also about my energy and how it affects others. I made the conscious decision that I wanted to be a blessing in the lives of others and to raise every person I encounter to a higher level with my energy, efforts, words, actions…or just a gentle and authentic smile. I do this because when I see another person, I see myself.

One of the great benefits I have also enjoyed by being around “successful” people is the unique opportunity to observe and identify success patterns–which through study, I have reduced to behavioral models of extreme simplicity–that can be used by anyone desiring to remove the obstacles to their unique path of purpose. I have learned much about the unlimited capability of each soul to have abundance and fulfillment through kindness, compassion and love. I used these secrets I learned to turn my own health around, transform my energy and body, lose weight and achieve many of my dreams.

As a coach, I now teach others what I have learned from some of the most amazing people in the world, from top celebrities, world spiritual leaders, gurus, and champions of all fields. I discovered that the best-of-the-best are often deeply spiritual and evolved beings. Through invitation, reverence and communion with the divine in one’s own self, all things are possible. Above all activities, I love helping others, and so that is what I do, and I am so blessed that I can be a simple instrument in helping others re-discover their happiness and joy.

Betty Dravis: The world needs more sincere, caring people like you, Bryant, and it’s encouraging to know you are teaching and help so many.

I know one of your close friends is Susaye Greene, the legendary singer from “The Supremes,” who wrote hit songs for Michael Jackson and co-wrote songs, performed and traveled with friends Diana Ross, Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder. I bet she has some fascinating stories to share. How is she to work with?

Bryant with dear friend Susaye Greene, legendary singer of The Supremes.

Bryant McGill: Susaye is such a ray of sunshine, Betty. I just can’t say enough fine things about this exceptional lady. Susaye and I share a special friendship and a true soul connection. I see in her such a beautiful and radiant woman who deeply loves life, and who through her immense heart, loves nothing more than creating beauty. One of the things I enjoy the most about Susaye is that she has a rare dignity to her manner and a comportment about her person that lets you know you are in the presence of a kind and wise master. We have been involved in projects together for many years and are always energetically connected. She has a strong online presence and is heavily involved in the arts community, so I encourage everyone reading this interview to look her up on Facebook and on her websites.

Betty Dravis: Wow, Bryant, there is much more to successful people than most of us realize. Thanks for sharing such fascinating information about Susaye. She is someone I’d love to know.

In addition to what we discussed above, you also are a speaker at many universities, corporations and government functions and your books and software are even used as part of the curriculum at the university level. I recently saw in the Los Angeles media that–in your role of Goodwill Ambassador –you delivered a speech at a televised event with many dignitaries: the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office, Sheriff Leroy Baca (LASD), Charles L. Beck, the Chief of Police of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), Gerald Levin, the former CEO of Time Warner, Sergio Duarte, the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs for the United Nations, and the world famous artist and activist Lin Evola, the Founder of The Art of Peace Charitable Trust. What was your latest speech about?

Bryant McGill: I was there speaking at an important and truly historic occasion–the commencement of the transformation of illicit weapons to create The California Peace Angel project. My message that day was on the impact of illicit weapons, and I was there speaking in support of my friend Lin Evola, a fellow master creator and artist. The first time I met Lin I was profoundly affected by her and her vision, her purity, devotion, commitment and sense of duty. My commitment and faith in her and her vision is absolute, because her visionary project is about transformation, peace, and love. It is a project she would say belongs to the world.

Bryant on the stage delivering a speech with Sheriff Leroy Baca (LASD) and Charles L. Beck, Chief of Police of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) at a televised event for the Art of Peace Charitable Trust. (2010)

There are so many ways in which we hurt one another and sometimes it is with illicit weapons that we hurt others. But, it is always the intention to hurt another that does the harm, and likewise, it is also intention that is the antidote to such terrible sufferings. Like the intention to lay a gentle and caring hand upon a broken spirit or limb, and heal and make whole, through the transformational powers– of art, peace and love. Lin’s Peace Angel project is a beautifully powerful metaphor of the transformation within; a transformation we must all continually make. I was honored to speak at that event and to make my intentions known. My intentions are for a more peaceful and beautiful world, and we are now creating that world together.

I was grateful to be there to enjoin my energy, mission and purpose with other creators to say, “I believe in the power of peace and love to heal.” It was also so encouraging to stand with some of the nation’s greatest peace officers, to look them in the eye, and to witness that these visionary leaders, truly do believe in and see a greater world; a more beautiful world where all people are free, safe, and at peace.

I am meeting with the sheriff and chief of police again soon, to sign the Goodwill Treaty for World Peace and to have further constructive dialogues about the ways in which all people can make the world a safer and more beautiful place.

Betty Dravis: It’s odd, Bryant, but I received the final answers to this interview from you on the very day I faxed my signed Peace Treaty to the people involved in gathering signatures. Please tell us more about the Treaty and how and why you founded it? Who are some of the people who have signed it? In what countries has the Treaty been represented, and how were you received by the populace? I saw photographs of you with many politicians and celebrities signing the Treaty. What is it like to personally meet with, and get to know, such amazing individuals who all care so deeply about the state of the world?

Bryant McGill: Much of my life and work is concerning what I call “simple reminders,” and teaching people about their power of intention. I feel that we are so off-course as a human species that what we often need is to be reminded about the simpler things, which so many have forgotten or erased. We have lost touch with much of our humanity and our real creator-power. We need less information and less complexity. We need to create a quiet and calm place to allow the healing of that beautiful expansion of love within each of us, which is the seat of possibility for all great and good things. We need simple reminders of who we are, what we are and what is possible. All things are possible, through invitation and love.

The Treaty was born from the philosophy that a simple reminder and oath of intention could re-awaken in a consciousness what it already knows deep inside: that the world should be, could be, and will be a more beautiful, safe and peaceful home for all creatures and people…if we choose. I have always believed that one person really can make a difference. I AM that person, and so are YOU. There is nothing special or magical about what I do, or have done. All I have done, and will continue to do, is simply carry a torch of faith, optimism and enthusiasm for a safer and more harmonious world. A passionate fire for a more beautiful world burns within me, and it is that same warmth within you that will tame the coldness of indifference and cruel apathy.

I love all people, all creeds, and all nations. I am deeply in love with life. I am grateful for life and have a profound and abiding reverence for life. At a deep level, all people understand this basic respect for life, even those who do great harm… We all understand that life is a beautiful gift. I want to appeal to that simple understanding inside of each person, whether they are a president of a country, a celebrity, or a local neighbor or new friend. My intellect is nearly useless and words are limited, but the humble heart whispers its quiet truth to each soul we encounter, and beauty always inspires greater beauty.

In a world that wants me to be something else, I hope to simply have the courage to be beautiful, and let my heart’s unbridled truth flow and move upon each person I encounter. I hope to merely be a simple instrument of encouragement; a reminder of what every person innately knows, but may have forgotten. Is that so much to ask? Let us all encourage others to let their love flow freely. There is a great endless river of love and creative power in each soul, and when the artificial dams that restrain us are breached, the resulting flow can turn a desert of suffering into a paradise, containing all of the colors and blooms of each unique, vibrant soul.

I see that beautiful, peaceful place in my heart. It is real. At every moment “The Beautiful Path” is but a single choice away, and I will choose that path again, and again, and again. I deeply pray that each person will choose to walk upon the beautiful path with me. It is upon this path that we will encounter the famished and forgotten souls, who we will lift gently in our arms and nourish, with the nectar of our hearts– LOVE.

The Treaty has been represented in Italy, Australia, New Zealand, France, Sweden, Jordan, England, America, The Vatican, Japan and many other countries, both privately and in cooperation with governments, NGO’s and international bodies. As you mentioned, many celebrities, politicians and social leaders have signed the Treaty, and you asked what it was like to meet with these people in person. In every instance of our travel we have been received with open arms, love and goodwill–which is nothing short of an inspiration.

Bryant and the "Grand Master of Bass," Verdine White, of Earth, Wind and Fire back at the hotel hanging out after signing the Goodwill Treaty for World Peace.

I have met personally with entertainers and serious activists, such as Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Don Cheadle, Jason Alexander, Montel Williams, Gary Busey and Raymond “Ray” Romano, who all enthusiastically put their signatures and hearts into the project and its simple message. I have met with, and shared the message, with sports stars like Charles Barkley, Ray Lewis, Hines Ward, Wade Boggs, Michael Strahan, and Evander Holyfield, just to name a few from a very long list. I have held private meetings with musicians such as the late Michael Jackson, Celtic Women, members of Earth, Wind and Fire, and most recently, Dave Mason who signed the Treaty, though he and I have not yet had a chance to sit down together. The last Treaty signer I met with privately was Her Divine Grace Dadi Janki, the beautiful, ninety-four-year-old spiritual leader from India. Some of these people became my friends and I have traveled with them and stayed in their private homes; they have expanded my vision of the world through their unique perspectives.

Betty, to me, it is so refreshing to see people with such public responsibility who are still able to think and act without publicists, managers and overseers. These are people who can think for themselves, and who take the responsibility to say: This is my oath, this is my signature, and even if we don’t know how to create it, even if it seems impossible, no matter what, this is what I stand for and this is what I believe. That courage, optimism and leadership is beautiful to see in this world today. So each time I meet with one of these people what I think and feel is gratitude. I think to myself, I am proud of you, and I am blessed that I can witness another soul exercising their unique power to declare before all people that they believe, like little children, in the power of LOVE, to transform the world. I believe in that power more and more every passing day.

Betty Dravis: You’re right, Bryant. Love is powerful and it’s people like you and others you mention who will make a difference. And as you are quick to point out, people like me and my readers too…

Bryant McGill with Dadi Janki, India's beloved spiritual leader.

But now I’m curious about something: When you met Dadi Janki, India’s revered spiritual leader, you gave her a very special gift, a large precious gemstone that you dug from the earth with your own hands, and later cut yourself. It’s been said that for ten years you looked for a pure heart to whom you would give that stone, and that you had even considered kings, princesses and holy men. It warmed my heart to learn you had presented it to Dadi Janki when she signed the Peace Treaty. I was touched when you told her, “We are all precious…we are all gems, and you are a precious gem, Dadi.” That was very insightful of you and you made a wise choice.

Bryant McGill: Do you want to hear something amazing, Betty? Something that will stir your soul? I can hardly believe this myself, and it is what I call a miracle. Two nights before meeting Dadi, while lying in my hotel bed almost asleep, in a half dreaming state, a voice in my dream told me I needed to have a very special, large gemstone I had cut many years ago, sent to me and that I was to give it to Dadi Janki. So I phoned home and asked that it be shipped overnight to the resort.

The next day, the stone arrived and I took it with me to the event. As I walked in, I was astonished at the sight of large, colored-glass gems everywhere! As it turned out, the whole program was about how we are all “Gems.” Dadi Janki was handing a glass gem, blessed with her love, to each person in the crowd. After the program, a table had been prepared for our private meeting where Dadi was to sign the Goodwill Treaty. I sat across from Dadi and we silently looked into one another’s eyes and souls for a very long time. I took her hand and placed my gemstone in her palm. I told her about my dream and how I sent for this real gemstone, which I had mined and cut by hand. I told her, “Dadi, we are all precious… We are all gems, and you are a precious gem, too, Dadi.”

And then Dadi handed me a glass gemstone in return. The space between us was charged with high energy as we exchanged drishti. Our souls smiled at one another as we basked in the warm spirit of the synchronicity and beauty of that sacred moment moving upon us. There was a great knowing and transmission of information in that moment. It was divine and it was perfect.

The following day, I met with a woman who had contacted me on the Internet and who was in deep distress. Her distress came from not knowing where home is, or what it means to truly have support and love from a family. She had suffered through profound abuses and neglect. When I travel to different cities, I make an effort to meet with one or two people that my inner-voice tells me to meet. So, in following that inner-voice, it was decided that I was to meet with this woman who had reached out to me. I had a small window of time, so I called her and let her know I was available.

A few hours later she arrived at the resort where I was staying and we met in the lobby where there was a comfortable and private area for us to sit. We sat facing each other and holding hands as we listened with care and with ease, while surrounded in quiet and divine grace. After a while of heart-felt conversation, I paused for a moment and pulled out the gem Dadi had given me and said, “This was a gift from Dadi Janki. It was blessed by her and will bring blessings and protection to whoever possesses it. I want you to have it.”

She immediately broke into sobs of gratitude and healing. She then told me, out of all the people in the world, she had just been watching videos of this extraordinary, yet humble soul the world has come to know as Dadi Janki. The purest and highest spirit moved upon us and tears streamed from both our eyes. The circle of giving was now complete, and in that moment the world was perfected and all we could feel was pure unconditional love. The highest place in me met the highest place in her. We were both there because we had listened to our hearts, and we were both being taught beautiful lessons about listening to the quiet promptings that led us to a moment we each will remember forever. The special gift I gave her was simply my open heart, and there is no gift greater. The act of true giving is indistinguishable from receiving.

Betty Dravis: You’re right, Bryant; your story does stir my soul. That’s a wonderful, moving example of the power of giving and receiving. When you described the exchanges between you and Dadi Janki and between you and your Internet friend, I could feel the love flowing freely…feel the bliss in those breath-taking moments…

I also heard you recently met with the “hugging saint” Amma (Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi) and received her blessings for your mission. I’m a “huggy” kind of person, so please share those moments with us.

Bryant McGill: Meeting Amma and receiving her blessings and Darshan was such a beautiful experience. I met with Amma close to San Francisco where I presented her with the Goodwill Treaty for World Peace. It was a very powerful moment. Amma took the Treaty in her hand, laid it upon her bosom, and pulled me into an embrace…with the Treaty between us. During Darshan, Amma blessed the Treaty and my path in life, that I would be protected as a humble instrument in my mission to bring more goodwill and love into the world. It was absolutely wonderful, and her heart and smile are with me forever.

Betty Dravis: You paint a vivid scene, Bryant; I can just picture that spell-binding moment. Now with those fascinating experiences in mind, this seems like a good place to ask a lighter question. If you could spend an entire day with anyone else in the world (living or dead) who would you choose?

Bryant McGill: I would wish to meet any human being on Earth who is low and lift them up. What we do to another, we do to ourselves.

Betty Dravis: That’s a perfect answer, Bryant; one worthy of your purpose and the true purpose of all life. And what would you say to a person who is low, depressed and desperate?

Bryant McGill: To the low and downtrodden I would say: Rise-up and please allow me the privilege to be your humble servant. I am just a simple student of the world; what lesson do you have for me? Let me be your brother and friend. Let me be a hospitable and comforting voice. I am no more than you. I am only a simple reflection of divine light–the eternal image of creation. What good you see in me is God’s good. We are all illuminated with the same universal light. I do not want to squander my divine gifts through weakness, so help me to be complete by allowing me to serve you.

I am not higher, better, wiser or greater, just because you seem low at the moment. No! In fact, I look to you as my teacher. I am just a student who learns by looking at the divine architect’s creations and art– YOU. His art is incomprehensible! Will you be my teacher? Will you lift me when I am low? Will you take my hand when I have fallen? Will you love me when I have failed? No matter, I will do these things for you, for you are the creator’s beauty that I will protect. What, or who the creator is, I leave entirely to you… Whether you believe in random destiny of chances, child of Darwin, intelligent design, cosmic consciousness, or a monotheistic God, it does not matter; you are still a beautiful creation, and all respect and honor to the true author and architect of your beauty.

It is never too late, and love will heal you—your love. Many of my readers, and especially those in the prisons where I sometimes speak, have had very troubled lives and have been neglected and abused. If you have been hurt, do not wait for love to come find you and heal you. Remember the important truth that love works as an agent of healing both ways; by not only receiving, but also by giving. We are made whole only when we make others whole.

If you have not been invested in as a person, or have been neglected or abused, do not be bitter. Instead, ask yourself, “In whom can I invest my heart, love and service?” As the great Mahatma Gandhi advised, we should all be the change we wish to see in the world. Growing up, every person may not have had the best of families or experiences, but in this time called now, each person can experience that love and beauty they wanted…through the lives of others they touch. What a beautiful chance to experience what you may have missed from another perspective, by giving another soul what you know all people deserve.

Betty Dravis: I didn’t anticipate the complexity of your answer, Bryant, but it’s very thought-provoking and sincere. Really, quite simple when one ponders your truth…

How do you stay so humble when you are surrounded by worldly glamour and materialism, and when you are adored by so many? How do you not get lost in it all? What is your idea of humility?

Bryant McGill: Humility and full consciousness are inseparable, Betty. Once you become fully conscious and self-aware, or awake, you are immediately humble. Only unconscious people and “sleep-walkers” who do not know themselves and what they really are, can lack humility. True humility is greatness. Humility and greatness are not mutually exclusive, but are fully compatible. God is great, and God is good, and we are to be as God-like as possible. I seek to be both great and good. Humility is not weak. Not being great is a form of extreme arrogance, while being great is an act of true humility. You see, it is arrogant to not be the great and marvelous being you were intended to become. It is supremely neglectful and insulting to the heart of creation to squander your divine birthright. It takes an act of absolute humility to accept the mantle of greatness which was written into each of our destinies. All strength comes from humility. So I ask, are you humble enough to be great?

Betty Dravis: I’d like to say you are a stellar example of what Chase Von and I call “Dream Reachers” in our books of the same name. You might not know it, but our creed is: Only Those Who Stretch to Reach Their Dreams Find Themselves Living Them. Bryant, you are the ultimate Dream Reacher, having your dreams fulfilled in a grand way. And speaking of great accomplishments, I see you have lost over a hundred pounds of weight and have transformed your body and health. How did you accomplish this amazing goal?

Bryant McGill: Thank you for the compliment, Betty. I AM…living my dreams, and I am so happy for that fact. As far as my health is concerned, I was really worried and afraid I was going to die because I was so unhealthy. I could not even walk up a flight of stairs without being out of breath. I was truly, and frighteningly, unwell. The first step to achieving wellness for me was learning humility. To abuse the gift of life and one’s own precious body is a form of extreme arrogance and self-hatred. So one of the keys for me was reacquainting myself with the beautiful gifts that can exist for a being who has respect, gratitude and humility for all that is available for us, to sustain our bodies in health and longevity.

There was also a decision that I made wherein I concluded that I wanted to live life with health and vigor. I decided I wanted the energy and vitality to do and experience all of the wondrous things in life that are available to all people. I wanted the strength and stamina to lead a life of activity, exploration and true excellence. Ultimately, it came down to me deciding whether I wanted to advance toward the grave in a state of decrepit stupor or rise and advance in life as a fresh, vital being, full of youthful energy and joy.

In my quest for understanding, I realized something very important one day: that the human body is an unfathomable and miraculous microcosm of divine order. The intelligence, complexity and order of even a single cell rivals that of a large modern city. Our bodies love us! Just think about it. The universe within– your trillions of cells all cooperate in a grand orchestration to serve and heal you. Your cells work around the clock in total unison and harmony, cleaning, repairing, restoring and nourishing your entire physical being. Every person’s body wants nothing more than to cooperate with them in achieving optimal health. But I realized that I was at war with my own body. I was waging a terrible war of violence against my body by bombarding it with stress, toxic environments, lack of sleep and the most terrible and dreadful toxic foods known to man–otherwise known as the modern American diet and lifestyle. Obesity is not only a life choice, it is a disease. When you are obese you are chronically diseased and you are moving toward the grave at a rapid pace. My body had become addicted to heavy greases, oils, animal fats, highly refined carbohydrates, sugars, salts and an endless array of toxic chemicals.

I discovered that simply by getting out of my own body’s way, letting it do its job and cooperating with my body, it would heal itself from the dreadfully debilitating sickness of obesity. To lose weight I did very little outside of gentle and peaceful cooperation with the inherent wisdom and intelligence of my own body. Through meditation and gentle and peaceful cooperation, the body will heal itself with little or no effort. When we are at peace with ourselves the total expression of that true peace includes our outer being…our body. Losing weight and being healthy is so simple and easy. I’m now writing a book called “The Peaceful Body” that explains all of the details of my program. I am on the first year of a two-and-a-half-year transformation process, where my goal is not weight loss, but rather true health and respect for the gift of life.

Betty Dravis: Wow, Bryant, I’ve seen photos of you “before and after” and the visible change is simply astonishing. This might sound like a cliché, but you truly do look many years younger now. You really are, as they say, a living example of transformation—of mind and body.

During your radio show, through the Internet, your books, and as a soul coach, you give many helpful success tips to your followers. What simple advice do you have for our readers to start them on the right path?

Bryant McGill: First and foremost, turn off your television and seek quiet meditative places as often as possible. To all of your Dream Reachers’ readers out there, I say, Go for your dreams! Go for your dreams and never allow the opinions of others to discourage you. To dis-courage means to take away courage. Be courageous in the face of criticism and “nay-saying,” personal attacks and passive aggressive “supporters” who secretly wish for you to fail. Do not listen to cynics, critics, skeptics or negative people. Do not let negative entities have any power over you. Negativity is a disease of the mind. If they try to block you with a wall of negativity, just walk through it like a ghost.

I realize a lot of starting authors, actors, artists and creators in all fields receive negative feedback about their so-called, lofty goals, their “dream world,” their “unrealistic” plans and their delusions. They are often told they need to be more “realistic” and “down-to-earth.” Never listen to small minds and small imaginations. These people suffer from delusions of no-grandeur. They suffer from extreme delusions of no-grandeur when all evidence points to the contrary, showing that there is great grandeur to be had, and creations of opulence await only your unique spark of imagination. That is how every marvelous thing in the world was created– by someone who did not listen to that sad nonsense.

Learn to market and share yourself and your creations, whether it be books, poetry, paintings, music, pottery, inventions or ideas. Be proud of who you are–your output in the world, in the form of your creations–and share your unique-self and your beauty, unapologetically. Ignore any person who frames your efforts at sharing as “shameless self-promotion” and narcissism. There is nothing more shameless and narcissistic than tearing down others–their plans, efforts and dreams–just to make themselves feel higher and better. This happens less when you are more established and “successful,” but when you begin a journey, these broken people can be vicious and devastating to your plans. People who presently live in fear and darkness will always be shocked, unsettled and even afraid of authentic creator power. Their dark and low vibrational energy will sometimes attack what it cannot understand.

I get about a thousand emails a day, and only around one nasty email a month, so that tells you just how rare and sad these afflicted individuals are. I could never imagine myself actually putting life-force and energy into writing a person a letter just to say something critical or cruel. What a waste of my creator energy, and how very mean-spirited. I would rather use that same energy to send a stranger a letter pointing out something nice or supportive, and I do that all the time. Remember, what we do to another, we do to ourselves.

I love these words by Theodore Roosevelt, and I think you will too:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

Like I said to a very nice woman on Twitter who asked for my advice when she was being attacked: “Be as light as a feather and as they reach for you, blow by them without them ever touching you.”

Many years ago I had a realization that, at that time, was very helpful for me, and I hope it is possibly helpful for your readers. I realized that one day I will face death, and I will die and depart this realm. No other person can die for me; this I must do on my own. So, while I am alive–and since no single critic is going to lay down and die for me–I will absolutely not allow any person to tell me how to live. This is my life and I will live it how I choose, without worry or distress over outside opinions. I do not need any person’s approval, except my own. I would be devastated if I were on my death bed filled with regrets of things I wish I had done, but did not do, because of criticisms and lack of approval from others.

My advice is also to get on and stay on, what I call, “The Beautiful Path.” A person on The Beautiful Path always seeks beauty without and within, in all they do and experience. In every person they see beauty, and in every experience they find beauty because beauty has been cultivated within. Even with harsh and mean people, they find themselves appreciating that person in some way, and even during hardship and tribulation, they receive their lessons for growth with gratitude.

The Beautiful Path is not a place outside of yourself, but is a place you carry with you everywhere you go. The Beautiful Path, is the place you want to be, to re-center; it is the garden of peace you seek, but is not a place that exists in the world– it is within. Go there, within, and if you nurture a beautiful garden in your heart, the singing bird will come and fill your world with beautiful music.

A person on The Beautiful Path is also on their path of purpose. Find your unique path of purpose. When you are not on your path of purpose you are sure to be miserable. Any time a person denies their heart’s calling in life, because of so-called duty and responsibility, they are cheating themselves…and the world. Always ask yourself: “Responsibility to what, or to whom?” Is it responsibility to mediocrity, subjugation, materialism or economic enslavement? What sick institutions are you bound to upholding through your “responsibility” and to what master do you suborn yourself day-in and day-out? You have a greater duty to be true to your heart and your purpose in life. You have a great responsibility to become the full expression of your true-self and to rise to the full measure of your unique potential.

Every soul has a gift and greater purpose. When we suppress our desire to be true to our greater purpose in life, we can become depressed, and over time, we may even become physically ill. To deny the course of our own nature is a crime against our own humanity. Imagine a world where all the great artists, musicians, inventors, Olympians, healers and dreamers had surrendered their dreams and yielded to the mundane responsibilities of common existence and common expectations. What a sad, deprived and cheated world that would be! Live your life with worthy pursuits that are to the benefit of all people. There is only one you. Live your true purpose and share your unique gifts with the world.

Also as a good piece of advice, I suggest that everyone meditate, and do the introspection required to find yourself. It is so important that you understand what you really are–and trust yourself! There is nothing external of yourself that you need. Everything you need is within. Learn to quieten your mind and be present, mindful and in the now–even with your own self. Do not dwell in the past, or in the future. The past is inaccessible and the future is ever advancing, and therefore, also inaccessible. There is only this blessed moment called now, and beyond that, there are no guarantees. As Prince Gautama Siddhartha, the founder of Buddhism wrote: “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” So, simply be the glorious creation you are and let your radiant heart smile for all to see…and become love. Finally, and most importantly, do not allow people or creatures to suffer.

Betty Dravis: There is great wisdom in what you say, Bryant, and I’ve experienced more than my share of nay-sayers during my writing career. It takes much thought, time and patience to arrive where you are, but it appears you are helping many people get there.

It is truly mind-boggling to even think about how you manage it all. You have come a long, long way from that dirt road in Alabama. How do you manage to run so many successful operations? You must be terrific at organizing and delegating authority. How do you accomplish so much?

Bryant McGill: I do accomplish a great deal, Betty, but I accomplish so much by doing as little as possible. I call it “do nothing and accomplish everything.” The main action I take to move forward is a form of inaction: being still and quiet. Too much aggression and work will move what you desire further away. Creation is an act of cooperation, not force. You do not rape the universe, you make love with the universe. For me, all things are accomplished by the meditative act of releasing illusions and simply becoming. My main tools are invitation, patience, time, gentleness, cooperation and surrender. I have let go of everything and that is how you get everything; you let go of everything. When we try to control, we become controlled; when we release, we become free. Creativity is the greatest expression of liberty. Creation is an act of freedom, by a creator consciousness. I do very little outside of being free.

Betty Dravis: It took you many years to get where you are, Bryant, and it almost sounds magical in its simplicity. I admire your diligence and will power in achieving your heart’s desire by becoming your own person, not to mention what you are doing for others.

Regretfully, we’re nearing the end of our interview, but I can’t leave without asking about your beautiful daughters. How important is family to you, and in general?

Bryant with his dear friends Kevin Woodbridge and Lin Evola on a historic day for peace. (2010)

Bryant McGill: There are many types of families. We love most those who we serve most, and with families there are endless ways in which we serve. Our children and other members of our families are independent entities. We do not own them and they do not belong to us; we can only know them. They belong to the world and to themselves, and for a brief period in this ephemeral existence we have the privilege to share time with them and serve them and their needs.

I remember in vivid detail the moment each of my darling girls was born into life’s keeping. I am a contemplative person by nature and there has seldom been a period of time that has gone by wherein I did not reflect back to the moments my children were born. What I remember most–having had a true lasting impact on me–are two things. Of the two, what I consider most awe-inspiring was their first breath. I have thought intently about it over the years; about its profound implications on my understanding of the mysterious world around us and, ultimately, about its beauties. There I stood in each case as they came into the world, and I witnessed their very first, amazing and miraculous breath. With that breath came the animations of life and their helpless, compelling cries.

The second thing that has continued to impact me is that as this happened–in that instant of their springing to being–I helplessly wept tears of utter and absolute humility and joy, as a witness to the sacred gift of life and creation. Each time I think about the moment of their births, it poignantly reminds me that I have, continue, and will forever cherish each and every breath and beat of their precious hearts. It also continues to remind me that each soul I encounter once took that first breath, and was, and is, also a beautiful child.

As Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931), the famous Lebanese poet, philosopher, and artist, once wrote of children:

“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you, yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you, for life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday. You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far. Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness; For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.”

My children belong to the future, which is a place I cannot visit, but for now, in this moment, I am blessed to call them my friends, and to witness their beauty and growth, and to be a mirror to them, that shows them their uniqueness and true beauty. No matter what I create or accomplish in life, my children will always be my greatest co-creation.

The most important thing I can say about family, is we are all family. I hope one day we can all evolve from the clannish institutions of isolation of the people outside of exclusive family boundaries. We are all children of creation. We are all one, we are all brothers and sisters, we are all one beautiful human family.

Betty Dravis: Confidentially, Bryant, I read that Gibran quote about the “bows and arrows” when my children were small and it let me know in no uncertain terms that I did not “own” them. I didn’t like it at the time (laughs), but it gave me pause to reflect and impressed me deeply. Thanks for reminding me.

I’m reluctant to leave you because there is so much more to you; more than time and space allow. But I’ll console our readers by giving your web addresses where they can find you.

For a last tidbit, I hear you have an upcoming speech you will be delivering with a former United States President, as well as the possibility of meeting the president of India and Gandhi’s family. Please mention any additional plans or events coming up in the near future.

Bryant admiring Lin Evola's Peace Angel art. (2010)

Bryant McGill: Well, Betty, currently I am working on a weight-loss and wellness book called, “The Peaceful Body.” I am doing a lot of Soul Coaching, as well as wellness and weight-loss coaching in Los Angeles. I have also just opened new business offices in Beverly Hills. I have a reality show in the works, and a documentary under production.

My main web addresses are as follows:
www.bryantmcgill.com
www.SimpleReminders.com
www.twitter.com/bryantmcgill
www.myspace.com/bryantmcgill
www.goodwilltreaty.org
www.facebook.com/mcgillfans
www.facebook.com/bryantmcgill

Betty Dravis: I knew there was more, Bryant. (laughs) And since you were also interviewed by a best-selling author from the UK, Lisa Tenzin-Dolma, I look forward to getting a copy of Mind and Motivation: The Spirit of Success, not only to compare notes about you, but to learn from other experts she interviewed in their chosen fields in the arts, sciences and psychology. These sound like inspirational, motivational and revealing personal stories of how they attained their goals. This book sounds a little like our Dream Reachers with a focus centered more on “the mind.”

This, and other interviews, including the interview for Mind and Motivation may be found at:
www.bryantmcgill.com/works/~c7vdcy4ax/

You are definitely a Renaissance thinker who leads from the heart toward a world of unlimited possibilities. It’s been a pleasure meeting you and enlightening to learn more about you. I hope you continue your quest “to prove that life is still beautiful and that all people have the power to have a better life and world–now.” You have certainly inspired me to take a different approach to make my dreams come true. Thanks for everything, and please keep in touch.

Bryant McGill: Thank you for the honor and privilege to be included in your series of interviews, Betty, and I wish you and all people a life of great purpose and joy.

by Betty Dravis

Betty Dravis: Good morning, Rob, It’s my pleasure to have you visiting with us all the way from Holland. I’m glad you could make it, and thanks for taking time from your busy schedule.

I’d like our readers to know that I met you through model/award-winning screenwriter Kitania “Kitty” Kavey who starred in our first Dream Reachers book. She recommended you highly, but I must confess, when I started researching you it was your logo that intrigued me. Odd to say, but that orange lizard is rather attractive, in a funky kind of way. (laughs)

But first things first, Rob… To relate to people as you do, a person must have inborn intuition and certain powers of persuasion. Did you recognize any special skills as a child? When did the urge to help people start? Please share some of your early childhood with us. I’m especially curious about what it was like growing up in Holland.

Rob Waterlander: Well, Betty, I am not the typical personal, mental or motivational coach people might expect. My intuitive and empathetic nature is something I was born with and have developed over my lifetime. I have always been a beacon–shining and attracting people who were wondering what direction to go–although initially, I wasn’t aware in full. Looking back, I think things started moving in the direction of guiding people when classmates started asking for guidance, mainly girls sharing their emotions.

I feel I got my extensive class, or University of Life, the first three months of my life. Long story… (laughs)

Being adopted by two of the most loving parents after I was given away has been the key to unlocking my potential for intuitively seeing and feeling people. It helped me to enter the world of helping those in search of more of what they want.

And by the way, Kitty is an amazing person, gifted and so sweet.

In 1996 I started organizing youth sports events for charity: CliniClowns sports events. CC is a foundation that originated in NYC when Patch Adams started to perform as a clown in hospitals, entertaining children with long-term illnesses, sometimes terminal. These sports events put me in contact with professional soccer players and the rest is history; one soccer player referred me to another, etc. And I love it!

By the way, Hunter Doherty “Patch” Adams is one of those special ones on earth. Would love to meet him in real life and have a chat.

As for Holland, my country is probably one of the best countries overall. I grew up in a suburb of Amsterdam, what used to be a little fishermen’s village where I felt safe, being able to play, hang out and develop the “real” me.

Betty Dravis: That’s interesting how CliniClowns started; I recall reading some stories about Patch Adams. I agree with you about him; he had to have been a caring, sensitive man to devote his life to children like that. I sensed when I met you that you were born with this “sensitive” ability, Rob. Thanks for explaining the fascinating details.

This might seem like an odd juxtaposition, but getting back to your logo before I forget: Why did you choose a lizard? And why an orange one…?

Rob Waterlander: I chose the lizard, Betty, because it’s associated with intuition and psyche, balance and sensitivity, helping us to detach from our past what no longer serves us. Detachment from ego, power to regenerate that which is lost, facing fear, controlling dreams, conservation, agility… The lizard is an archetype of adaptation, variation, flexibility and shrewdness. The lizard typifies characteristics that I work on every day within my own life, and it helps teach my clients to realize these same skills in theirs.

Also, the lizard’s stillness and its silence–having the peace and ability to hang-out for hours and hours in the heat of the sun–is something that I can relate to myself. So, as you see, there are various aspects of what the lizard is to me and, therefore, what made me choose it. I listen, absorb in silence, and then intuitively see and feel where the person’s next steps are.

Betty Dravis: Well, I can’t argue with your wise choice, Rob. I once chose the turtle as the logo for a newspaper I owned…because of its patience. But that didn’t last long because my subscribers thought I meant that they were “slow” like the turtle. (laughs)

Rob visits author Betty Dravis in California.

But back to you, after the lizard, the second thing I noticed on your page was your brilliant smile.  It was a pleasure when you visited my home in February to find that the smile is genuine and almost a constant…  I found you to be a truly happy, up-beat guy. In my opinion, only a man who has found his true calling in life can be that happy. But before you get into what you’re doing now, please share a little about the path it took to get from “there to here.”

Rob Waterlander: I am following the path leading to the sanctuary where I want to be, and being on track feels good. I have two lovely souls in my life who are blood related: my children, a son and a daughter. Those two are my link to many things in life that I cherish, given by one of the most remarkable women in my life, the high school sweetheart I married and was married to for almost twenty-one years. I divorced almost ten years ago, although she is someone I am eternally linked to. There is another woman in my life with whom I have found the connection I so want, leading closer to the sanctuary where I love and long to be. I am feeling good… From here, I have everything to offer to people looking for guidance, joy and releasing resistance in life, allowing them to be who they are and enjoying life in full.

Having been in sales for a long time, I learned a lot about myself and people. I enjoyed doing something that brought me success and acknowledgment of me as a professional: advising and selling roofing constructions for new and re-roofing projects with a contract value of up to more than two million dollars per project. One of the projects I did brought me to Richard Meier, the well-known and famous NYC architect.

My intuitive qualities were a valuable asset to work with project teams and buyers within the construction industry and during those years I developed my qualities extensively.

Betty Dravis: I agree, Rob, that being in sales teaches valuable lessons about others. I bet you felt proud and fulfilled when you actually viewed the architectural beauty of the completed construction projects, also.

I saw some recent photos of you with a lovely, dark-haired woman with a smile that matches your own. Is she the new woman that you spoke of above?

Rob with Carly

Rob Waterlander: Yes, Betty, she is felt as my mate in the sanctuary. (smiles) Her name is Carly Couweleers and we were brought together by one of her daughters and two of my best friends.  She is a guide, too—although a bit different from what I do. She is able to see through people at levels going beyond what most of us see, and I can see us working together with people in the future. It is amazing to experience someone to work with who is guided by spiritual guides and is a woman of God, also. That I asked for too…

Betty Dravis: I’m so happy for you both, Rob. Carly does, indeed, sound like a God-send and I can tell by your glowing description that she’s “the one” for you. (laughs) You should make a great, inspiring team. Like-minded, compatible people working together can perform miracles,

When you decided to take a road trip to visit me in Manteca, you were in the States for client meetings in San Francisco, and after you left you had more meetings in the L.A. area. Were those meetings successful and did you manage to help your clients progress in their search for a more meaningful life?

Rob Waterlander: I was in California for a few meetings with people and some workshops in San Francisco and L.A. I am glad I took the time to also drive down to Manteca from the Bay Area before heading to L.A.  Being able to meet up with you, as well as with your friend Johnny, was such a good thing.

You, being a mother, do have the natural drive and joy of wanting to make a difference, but it was Kitty Kavey who told me and still does: “Rob, go to L.A. They need you there.”  Truthfully, Betty, after having lived in San Diego in 2003, going back there has been a good stepping stone. I am glad I decided to say yes to the meetings. Whether the people I met are making the progress they want in their life or not, it is an option I offered to them. As you know, we all have freedom of choice.  I love working with those creative guys and gals…and Malibu is so my area. (smiles) I am certain to go back soon.

Rob poses on a hill overlooking Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

Betty Dravis: It’s a great start, Rob, and I’m happy you enjoy working in the States. Speaking of road trips reminds me that you love to travel and have clients in many countries. What countries have you visited and where did you go on your most recent trip?

Rob Waterlander: I love the globe–the playground offered to all of us here in the world. The world is huge, although I think it is nothing compared to what is out there and waiting for us, Betty.  My last travels took me to the Middle East and I will be there soon again. It’s an amazing area… Also I had the chance to spend some time in Venice this summer.

I have been to many places in the world; except for the Far East I have been to almost all continents, although not all over those continents. I would love to see more of Africa and the Middle East. Sydney and San Francisco are my favorite cities. Another part in the world that intrigues me is South America; Venezuela and Bolivia showed me extremes in atmosphere.

My next travel will be to Saudi Arabia and Northern Africa, both for business. Then in 2011, I am also traveling to the USA, both for pleasure and business. Recently, I started to look more into the Dutch Islands, close to Amsterdam, and other than the climate, it is so wonderful.

Awesome shot of Rob in Venice.

Betty Dravis: Wow–all that travel boggles my mind! That’s a mighty ambitious agenda, Rob. You certainly do love to travel, and fortunately, you’re in the right career to be able to do it. (laughs)

I know cruises are a lot of fun, so what’s the funniest or most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you on a cruise?

Rob Waterlander: Wow, Betty…. hahahahaha… I had the chance to go on a cruise with my best friend–thanking him for all the years he gave me so much fun while he was playing in one of the leading soccer leagues in the world, the Premier League in England. We went to Norway and met some wonderful entertainers while on the cruise. He had a not-so-nice experience, which to me was very funny… (laughs) We kayaked in a beautiful fjord and he turned upside down while looking backwards; not so nice for him–losing his camera and phone.  But I will always remember that cruise as precious because I spent quality time with a dear friend who gave me a lot, both he and his wife. Enjoying food and travel with a dear friend is the best!

Rob and his lovely daughter Lisa on cruise to Venice.

Well, kind of funny, too, my son’s luggage not being there when traveling for a cruise departing from Panama and having to shop for new clothes almost every day because each day new promises came our way. Eventually, he had to take part in a formal night and seeing my son actually enjoying being dressed in a tuxedo was worth it. My son said, “The next time, I will probably travel with a plastic bag and an empty suitcase.” Six weeks later, the suitcase re-emerged having been to Miami and all over the Caribbean. (laughs)

And, very sweet was being with my daughter during a formal night seeing her in her evening gown.

Betty Dravis: It’s odd how those embarrassing moments give us laughs years later, isn’t it, Rob? As for your kids in formal attire, I’m posting a photo of you with your lovely daughter in her formal gown. She does, indeed, look so grown up and lovely. I bet your son was very handsome too.

Now, getting back to your career, to sum it up, you are an intuitive motivator, “people whisperer,” inspirer and guide and you work one-on-one with people to help create the life they want. This means working to ensure their independence and helping them discover or rediscover their personal light in order to continue through life’s challenges.

That sounds like a colossal job to me. Do you mind telling us how you begin with an individual? And please share a few success stories.

Rob with his handsome son Sven on a Panama cruise.

Rob Waterlander: Before I answer that, Betty, let me assure you and your readers that my work is not meant to substitute for those who have addictions or conditions that should be treated, but I can work as part of their team to success. All the possibilities are within each individual and I can help them discover the endless joy and happiness that is there.

Light is essential. Many times we try to see the light in our lives, and we can’t. It may seem there is no light… Circumstances and events can overwhelm us. Even well-meaning friends and family can discourage us from living our true purpose. Entertainers and sports stars, in particular, are under tremendous pressure to fulfill the expectations of others around them, often losing themselves and their personal focus in the process.

What I always start with is tuning in on people, feeling and seeing behind the masks we all wear in daily life. I am just silent… I listen and, occasionally ask a question. Listening to what they say and don’t say, figuring out where they are and where they want to go…

Talking about individual people, I would have to give disclosures that most prefer me not to give. In general, I can say this: Entertainers and sportspeople with level-headed spouses who use common sense should stay in close connection with their partners, enabling them to thrive. When they lack support of a good husband/wife or similar, they might, sooner or later, need a person who is able to give support, guiding them through life’s challenges and helping them to focus on what they do so well.

Rob's parents, his children and their mother get together to celebrate his mother's 80th birthday.

Betty Dravis: I understand and respect the privacy of your clients, Rob, so thanks for generalizing for us. I totally agree that a helpful mate is a powerful force and it’s very important to support one another…whether it’s a spouse or a dear friend.

I hear that you specialize in working with people in the entertainment and sports community; professional athletes, musicians, singers, movie actors, artists and other creative talent. Why and how did you manage to narrow the field?

Rob Waterlander: As I said earlier, the sports events helped me connect with sports people and those guys kept referring me to other athletes.

Basically, I have chosen these entertainers and sports people, as well as other creative guys and gals, because I enjoy working with people with that specific state of mind. Driven and at the same time fragile somehow. I think all the attention and “The show must go on” stress levels make people prone to stuff that would stress out anyone. There is just no escape when everybody is expecting a brilliant performance and appearance.

Rob & Carly biking on Vlieland, one of the Dutch Islands.

Betty Dravis: You’re absolutely right about that, Rob. We’ve all seen some of our favorite stars, whether entertainers or athletes, fall apart due to that kind of stress.

I’ve heard through the grapevine that you’re good at what you do and I hope you don’t mind if I share what a few people wrote about you. I’ll start with Kitty Kavey since I know her and she’s mentioned above.

“Intuitive, kind and empathetic to others, Rob Waterlander is an absolute joy and privilege to work with. If you’re in the entertainment or sports industries, he really “gets” the pressures that we have to live up to–not only our own expectations, but the needs and expectations of those around us and the public. He doesn’t preach, or tell you what to do or which plan to follow. Instead he leads each individual to the place within where the answers lie. He gently guides one to what they know, and what they need to know, to not only be successful in career, but also to be able to reconnect with the happiness and peace within. Not only that, but Rob is also an expert in combining the realities of business and marketing (and public relations), with the spiritual/emotional needs of an individual.” – Kitania Kavey, Screenwriter, Actress, Model, The Netherlands/Europe

And the following is from a sports professional in the UK:

“Rob is someone who is empowering and directing. He has the ability of communicating at the right moments, pointing out exactly that part I couldn’t see beyond at that moment. I call it diving in, opening and showing the pregnant space of possibilities… opening doors to what was waiting so close. In a way, I wasn’t initially aware that I was applying aspects of what he said and shared when we interacted. When distracted by people in my daily professional or personal life, it’s easier to feel the patience of knowing whether now, tonight or tomorrow I would exactly see what I needed to see. As an athlete with a focus on performance, once or twice a week having a balanced day-to-day life is essential. Rob is a valued part of keeping focused, knowing that all is well.” – Fabian Wilnis, Professional Footballer, UK

Rob & Carly with friends Juliet and Fabian Wilnis, a professional footballer, UK.

Those are powerful words of praise, Rob. Knowing that you’ve helped those people must be encouraging to you, keeping you inspired and focused on your own dreams and goals. I’ve heard you say, “An interesting question for many coaches supporting people could be ‘who is going to motivate you when the motivator has gone home?’” Please answer that intuitive question for us.

Rob Waterlander: Well, Betty, I feel what works best is when a client is independent, only dependent on their own gained knowledge. When they absolutely know themselves–their hearts, and can listen again to their authentic selves–only then will they be secure and happy. I have made it my life’s work to guide people towards what always has been waiting for them, and once there, I just stay around to fine-tune, watching from a distance as they live thriving and wondrous lives.

Once I have established a level of clearness with my clients, I try to see them twice a year…up to a max of twelve times.

Betty Dravis: That makes perfect sense to me, Rob, and I see that truth working in the Dream Reachers that my co-author Chase Von and I have interviewed. That’s good, solid advice and I can see where we could all use someone like you in our lives—someone who really cares. I saw your gentle guidance when you met my friend John Manha who has multiple sclerosis. You talked with him at length and I saw your compassion and nurturing abilities first-hand. As a strong, determined Vietnam veteran, he’s a good judge of character and he was truly impressed with you and admires your calling. He felt your life flow… Thanks for that and for encouraging him in his personal and business goals.

But we’re nearing the end of this interview, so I’d like to invite you to share your Mission Statement. We’ve discussed everything in the statement, but I think our readers would like it condensed as a refresher.

Christmas at May Pen, Jamaica.

Rob Waterlander: My Mission Statement as stated on my website is: My goal is to guide each person to create for themselves the opportunity to have each of their talents and thoughts tuned in to the direction of that which one has a passion for. I know that if the passion and creative direction of each individual is found and followed, then the physical, mental and financial rewards will flow naturally.

Thank you, Betty, for this chance to get my message across to more people. I sure hope to meet up soon again and have the chance to do another lunch together. Meeting Johnny was felt within… Please say hi to him from me and deliver this message: “I enjoyed talking to you a lot, Johnny. Man, you have an awesome smile.” (laughs)

Betty Dravis: I, too, hope we do lunch again next time you’re in the States, Rob. I certainly enjoy your company. This time I will listen for your “silences” too. (laughs) And I’ll certainly pass on your message to Johnny. He’ll be pleased to know you’re thinking of him.

It’s awesome what you offer your clients, Rob, but I almost forgot to mention that you work with companies too. By now our readers must be eager to learn how to contact you, but before that, tell us a little about your corporate services.

"Horse Whisperer" - Rob has a way with animals too.

Rob Waterlander: I’m glad you remembered, Betty, because that’s a big part of my business. I am available to work with corporate Human Resources Departments and with recruiters and headhunters to help find the right executives for their companies…or the right companies for their clients. In today’s market it is imperative to match the job opening with the right candidate before time and money is invested in a position that doesn’t work out. I assess the needs of both the company and the job seeker to ensure a good fit for both. I walk with them on the beach or we cycle… Any activity is great while figuring out whether the company and the candidate are a match. It is so fun to be with a person who has a dream…and spending a while with a candidate for a job enables me to see whether he really wants it or whether he just wants to survive. I understand it is so much better when a person actually feels excited because the job fits a part of  his dream. And it saves a company loads of money when the new person is the right one.

Betty Dravis: You’re right, Rob! That’s very important in today’s business climate. I have several corporate friends who use services such as you offer. Thanks for expounding on that area of your profession. And now here are some links where people can reach you:

Rob’s Main website:

http://robwaterlander.com

Other websites:

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1718767652530&set=a.1213578663121.33552.1338422908#!/robwaterlandercom

http://twitter.com/#!/robwaterlander

http://www.peoplewhisperer.tv

Before closing, Rob, this might seem silly, but I think it will shed more light on the real you: If you were stranded on a desert island what three things would you take with you?

Rob at Abu-Dhabi.

Rob Waterlander: It’s the island life! Wooo-hoooo… I’m so much an island person, it feels like a present to me. Hahahahaha… This is a good question for me, Betty. Thank you for asking.

Now let me think… What/who I would like to take with me and what I would like to have with me there? I can choose whatever I wish, though only three? Well, that is easy: My children and Carly. And hopefully, there will be available a few jackfruit trees and coconut trees.

I might be pushing a bit now, but if possible, I would like to take my two best friends. I will miss you all, but having my children and Carly will help me to get through. (smiles)

Betty Dravis: Oh-haha, Rob, I guess you would be living on love, coconuts and jackfruit then. I’ve never seen jackfruit, but I read somewhere that it’s the largest fruit in the world and can grow as large as eighty pounds. Well, that’s a lot of food, so you certainly wouldn’t go hungry. (laughs)

I really appreciate your sharing your time and your life with us today. It’s fascinating how you found your true purpose in life. I see the principle of “What goes around comes around” working in your life: Helping others achieve their full potential to live their dream enables you to live your dream.

The cost of your services wasn’t mentioned, but you do work on a sliding scale and are available worldwide, so that’s a big plus in your favor. That said, it’s been fun getting to know you better, and do come back to keep us posted from time to time. As for me, I’ll see you on Facebook, I’m sure. And I know you’re open to answer comments from everyone on Facebook.

Farewell and good luck, Rob…or in your language, Vaarwel and geluk! Please keep us posted on your activities. Oops—I almost forgot to thank you for the bright yellow “wooden shoe” house-slippers you brought me last time.

Homecoming of the Dutch Team

Rob Waterlander: Hehehehe, I see some Dutch here… (smiles)

Well, what I do always makes me feel good and that is the most important thing. Feeling good… What I charge depends on circumstances, indeed. Roughly it varies between 1,000 to 4,000 Euro/US Dollars for working with someone a maximum of two days, and people pay/arrange my travelling and lodging.

Thank you so much, Betty. It was fun to answer your questions. I am grateful because it helped me to go back to joyful moments, especially those in the six years of organizing sports events. It was fun and educational to work with pro-athletes, pro-referees and nine- to ten-year-old soccer players of the major soccer teams in Holland, as well as working with TV and radio teams and those who sponsored the events. I learned a lot… One thing I remember so well is what a general manager of Nike said: “Rob, focus on two things at the same time, max. That allows you to be successful with what you do. Just do it!”

And, I am amazed at you every day, Betty. You are the age of my mom, though you run your blogs, write books and do your interviews… I hope I have the chance to see you again and then I would like you to have some fun in real wooden shoes, instead of the fluffy ones. (laughs)

Thanks again, Betty. Hugs and loving vibes sent your way. xx


I come from a musical background. My mother was a singer and piano teacher. My Grandparents sang Opera, Classical music, and harmonized beautifully together. My Grandmother was the sweetest and kindest woman I have ever known. She had a lot of wisdom, and was my first role model. I wanted to be just like her, and when I was a small child, I would go in the cellar and make up songs, and poems for hours on end. It brought me to a place of great joy and peace. Let’s say that I had a childhood much like the story of Cinderella. My dad was an alcoholic and my mom was extremely mentally ill. We found out years later she was bipolar. Being the second to the eldest of four girls, I was the scapegoat in the family and never felt like I fit in. There was one place I fit in, though, and that was in my cellar — just me and God while singing my heart and soul out, reciting poems I made up.

I ended up being an alcoholic and took Valium for fifteen years. When I went into treatment they told me I would never get off of the pills. Well I thought to myself, I will one day by God’s grace. Eight years later I surrendered wholeheartedly to God, and asked him to help me. He did, and I am so grateful. I now have twenty two years of sobriety, and twenty-one years completely pill free.

Donna SolitarioI decided I wanted to be a dream reacher then, and dreamed of becoming a teacher so that I could touch every child’s heart that I possibly could. It was like magic in the classroom, I had the opportunity to inspire hearts, and tell each child and youth that they could follow their dreams, and become all that they were meant to be. The rapport that I had with the children, and youth was a dream come true for me.

Later on in my teaching career, I worked at Job Corps, with inner city students from Boston and New York. It was different from the middle to upper class students I was used to.

It was a challenge to me, I literally got down on my knees each night, and asked God to show me how to inspire these young men and women, who had been through many adversities.

Did He answer my prayer? Yes indeed He did! It all started one day when one of the students was really down, and heartbroken with the breakup of his girlfriend. I gave him a poem I wrote, for a friend’s wedding.  The next day I came to class, I noticed that he made the poem into a beautiful card!

Donna Solitario BannerThat is the day my life changed, and I became a writer and poet. Many of the students from Job Corps came to my classroom, and asked me to write a poem for them. I could clearly see that God had answered my prayers, and I was so humbled and grateful. It dawned on me that when I showed my students my heart, they in turn showed me theirs. It was amazing how we would share our hearts together.  I will always love and treasure these beautiful young people, who are trying so hard to change their lives around.I am currently working in the courts, I am blessed to work with substance abusers who are mandated by the courts to go through rehabilitation. I teach the GED and let me tell you it is extremely rewarding. There is not one day that goes by, that I am not sharing a laugh with one, or all of my students. Why you may ask? well again it’s like magic, I show them my heart through my poetry, and my own recovery. Perhaps the most important thing I do for my students is, to show them their own hearts and how very special they are. To let them know they are not their mistakes, and they too can become somebody special, and achieve all that they can be.

It was my students who inspired me to write my first poetry book, Embrace the Light; a Woman’s Story Through Poetry. My second book, Coming Home to My Heart; for Inner Peace, was nothing short of a miracle. Meaning, because of my students reactions and others, to my poetry, I felt God’s grace led me to writing this book to help others who had been abused, and for all others to learn prevention of abuse through insight, hope and love.

The authors of The Dream Reacher’s book are exceptional artists themselves. When Chase Von interviewed me at The Student Operated Press, I was so thrilled. Chase is such a talented poet and author.  He is truly a very special person. He has a heart of gold, and works very hard to promote new talent of all sorts. You would Love him and Betty. Betty Dravis is a kind funny and loving woman. She is an outstanding, talented Journalist, author and so much more… She reminds me so much of my Grandmother! They have both touched my heart, and life in so many positive ways. One can only imagine, where I had come from in life, that being in the inspiring Dream Reacher’s book was nothing short of a mere miracle.  I can still hear the words my father would say to me, “Donna, you will never amount to anything,”  Well let me tell you, I had tears in my eyes, when Chase told me that he was going to put our interview, in the Dream Reachers book. For the first time in my life, I felt like a true dream reacher, one who is living their goals and dreams. With God in my heart, and love in my soul, to make a difference every day, each time I pass out to my students a poem, I think to myself what a wonderful world…

Allow me to share my poem which is in the book. This poem is an expression of how I felt growing up in an abusive home. The last verse refers to the faith, hope and love I felt, when I surrendered to God.

Embrace the Light by Donna SolitarioThe Space In-Between My Heart

The space in-between my heart
Feels alone and terribly dark
It lays hardened yet quite protected
It’s surroundings are dull and extremely infected
With a coating of dust which covers it’s interior
A dimmed light is shattered in the rear
The components are covered with a mist
Portraying visions of love that were missed
Spurts of water seeps to drown memory sounds
Emptiness fills a cushion all around
Attempts of filling the space are made
While seeping through, leaving a large trace
My heart feels weary, from this dreary space
So it seeks God mercy and love, to take it’s place

When I gave my students a lesson from the Dream Reacher’s book, I was amazed of how they were inspired by the interviews they had read in the book. Many of them expressed their thoughts and feelings of wanting to become Dream Reacher’s. I was extremely proud of them, on their outstanding essays. It was inspiring to see their dedication, and hope to make their goals, and dreams come true.

With my third book, in the near future on the way, and some of my students working on, writing their own books, I feel very grateful to be a Dream Reacher. I am honored to witness my students become dream reachers. May all of your dreams come true. http://outskirtspress.com/DonnaSolitario,http://outskirtspress.com/PoemsFromaWomansPointofView

by Betty Dravis

Betty Dravis: Welcome to our growing slate of Dream Reachers, Stan. It’s a pleasure to have such a talented man from the California Central Valley with us today. I moved from Silicon Valley to the Central Valley two years ago. While I live in the smaller town of Manteca and you live in the booming metropolis of Modesto (laughs), we’re in the same “neck of the woods.” I met you on Facebook and you drew my interest because you promote local merchants, have a background in publishing, TV show production and are a prolific poet and wordsmith. When I saw the quality of your full-color Valley Views Magazine, I knew you were a man of vision…a man I wanted to interview.

Before we get to know “Stan the adult,” I’d like to give our readers a peek at “Stan the child.” Where did you grow up? What were you like as a kid? What were your first ambitions?

Stan C. Countz: Thanks, Betty, I’m happy to be here. To start at the beginning, my parents met and married in the Central Valley city of Turlock during the fabulous fifties. My mom, Myrna Louise Wymar, was an avid horse enthusiast and barrel rider and a member of the Turlock Cavaliers. My dad, Charles Alvin Countz, was like the original “Fonzie.” He wore his hair in a duck-tail and was a member of a car club, like most guys in those days. They fell for each other and, before you know it, I was on my way. They got married and moved to the Bay Area where my two brothers and I were born and raised. I lived in Martinez, Walnut Creek, Danville and Alamo before moving back to the Turlock area in 1967. From the sixth grade through high school, I lived there; my parents built a countertop manufacturing and installation business (Countz Counter Tops).

In high school, I was a member of the track team and during this time I was confronted with the claims of Christ and decided to accept Him into my life. This decision was to have tremendous impact on the course of my life and the lives of my family and friends. This was at the height of the “Jesus Movement” of the early 70’s. After receiving Christ, I was walking on “Cloud Nine” from about the middle of my freshman year through my senior year in high school.

I was one of those guys that brought my Bible to school and actually read it. I was involved with the early days of contemporary Christian music and enjoyed listening to early Christian rock artists such as  Barry McGuire, Larry Norman, Randy Stonehill, Chuck Girard and other pioneers of that genre. During this time, I had a voracious appetite for Bible Study, prayer, evangelism and Christian fellowship. I wrote a weekly column in The Turlock Journal, entitled “For Real.” Several articles were picked up by national publications. I took a class taught by Margaret J. Anderson, author of The Christian Writer’s Handbook, who happened to live in Turlock at the time.  

Betty Dravis: Your parents sound “Fifties Cool,” Stan. Thanks for painting a vivid picture of that era; your description brings back pleasant memories for me. It’s also interesting to hear about your accepting Jesus into your life.

Your interest in singing may have been sparked by those Christian singers and your interest in writing must have gotten a big boost when a few of your articles made it national. I find it interesting how everything in our lives tends to blend together to form who we become as adults. Using myself as an example, I started writing poetry at about age eleven, took private elocution lessons, favored English, journalism and creative writing throughout my school years. It didn’t surprise anyone when those skills followed me throughout my working life.

Stan and his beautiful wife Teresa.

Stan C. Countz: You’re right, Betty; that’s how it was for me too. After graduating from Turlock High School in 1974, I majored in English and minored in Journalism at Modesto Junior College. I wrote for the college newspaper and was inspired to continue writing when I won an award for an investigative journalism piece from the California Community College Association.

Unfortunately, writing jobs were not too plentiful, so after graduating, I took a few minimum wage general laborer jobs before I discovered I could sell. My first sales job was working for Fuller Brush, selling degreasers, germicidal cleaners and brushes door to door. I met my wife Teresa at Modesto Junior College and hired her to deliver and collect on all the products I was selling. I went from selling brushes to selling freezer food plans.

When I made enough money so I didn’t need to take just anything that came along, I interviewed with media companies–including TV stations, radio stations and newspapers–and was hired by a new FM radio station in the Modesto area. K102 (today referred to as Sunny 102.3) was the first contemporary station on the FM dial in the Modesto area. I was given ninety days to “sink or swim.” Luckily, I excelled at radio-advertising sales and subsequently started a Christian radio show, The Right On Rock, which eventually aired on three rock stations in the Modesto area over an eight-year period.

In 1979 I left the radio station as an account executive and was hired by a local advertising agency where I had the opportunity to produce TV shows, direct mail-coupon mailers, bus-bench advertising and other innovative local advertising programs. In 1979 I launched Advertising Alternatives and began publishing specialty tabloids and publications. In March of 1980, I founded Valley Views magazine.

Betty Dravis: Well, you earned your way to the top, Stan, through diligence and hard work, the old-fashioned way. (laughs) It’s great that your wife worked with you to help you get started. That’s impressive and says a lot for both of you.

My research shows that Valley Views magazine was the first city/regional magazine ever published in the Central Valley. Before telling us about your current projects and your ambitious plans, please tell us what happened to the original publication and what you did in the interim…before starting up again.

Stan C. Countz: I put out thirty consecutive issues of the original Valley Views between 1980 and 1983. The magazine was a victim of its own success. After approximately twenty-eight issues of the magazine, I convinced myself that I needed investment capital to take it to the next level. I spent hundreds of man-hours with my business consultant, Brad Schuber, putting together a complete business plan. The first person I showed it to, a CPA, jumped at it and brought in his printer business associate.

They offered to set up a new corporation and issue me 40% of the stock in the new entity. I had always told myself that I would never give up controlling interest in any of my businesses, but I had convinced myself of the need for this capital. Well, in a nutshell, I was left holding the liabilities of the sole-proprietorship and all the assets were transferred to the new corporation. Once this was done, these investors surprised me by asking me to step down from my role as publisher. Once I did that, there was no one to assume my responsibilities and so they put a couple of issues out without me, but, basically, there was no one who could generate the ad sales so the magazine took one last breath and “gave up the ghost” after I stepped down.

Remember, I did all of this while I was in my early 20’s way before anyone else even thought of producing a magazine for the Central Valley.

Betty Dravis: That’s really something for someone so young to build a magazine like that, only to have it “snatched” from beneath you by unscrupulous businessmen. I bet you learned valuable life lessons from that, though. Seems like they “cut off their noses to spite their faces,” though, so you must have had the last laugh. So, what happened next, Stan? Where did you go from there?

Another of Stan's advertising promotions.Stan C. Countz: I was disheartened by that setback, of course, Betty, but I carried on and stayed in the advertising field for another twelve years. I produced direct mail coupon books and published Modesto Lifestyles and Stanislaus Business, special-interest newsprint publications. In 1990, I was the top ad-sales rep for the Valley Yellow Pages for Stanislaus County and Sacramento County. In 1993, I decided to pursue other business interests…

All that time, I missed the publishing business; it gets in your blood, as you must know. So in 2003, I decided to go back into the publishing and advertising business.

In the previous twenty years, publishing technology had changed drastically, so I was in for a steep learning curve. I hooked up with graphic designers, freelance writers and photographers and a heat-set web printer and put out a forty-page magazine. This was followed by a fifty-six-page magazine. Once I changed the name back to Valley Views, it jumped up to eighty pages and then a hundred. The success of Valley Views magazine spawned and inspired other magazines as well. For example, as soon as I changed the name of the magazine from Modesto Homes & Lifestyles to Valley Views, almost every paper in the Valley changed their names.

Tony Zoccoli, who published two Valley magazines, confided in me over the phone years later that he had watched for every new issue of Valley Views to see if he could match the quality of the content and the design. He changed his distribution strategy and format of his publications to mirror Valley Views and today is still publishing a successful magazine covering the San Joaquin County area.

In an attempt to diversify my brand and add depth to my coverage, I also launched a website and a TV show Valley Views Spotlight that featured “documercials” promoting life in the Valley, Bay and foothills. We produced four episodes of Valley Views Spotlight. A successful developer, who had bought up much of downtown Sutter Creek, saw the potential of doing some “destination marketing” and jumped on board prior to the building of the bypass that everyone knew was coming. Here is a link to the introduction to Episode IV of Valley Views Spotlight: http://www.vimeo.com/7962515

Stan & Teresa at Jacob's Fine Dining in Modesto.

Betty Dravis: That’s interesting, Stan. I enjoy hearing about your publishing career because I relate to your struggles and your successes. For fifteen years before my retirement, I owned and published a 20,000-circulation newspaper in Silicon Valley. Construction Labor News was the “Official Voice of Labor in Silicon Valley and Beyond.” It was a highly political newspaper, as you might guess, because our subscribers were Unions affiliated with the Building and Construction Trades Council.

But, aside from my interest, I’m sure our readers will enjoy learning more about you and your ventures. You have an outstanding video on the internet wherein you speak of the original Valley Views Magazine and your plans for your new “baby.” You rekindled fond memories of my own publishing days when you spoke of the old-fashioned way of cutting-and-pasting with an X-Acto knife. I remember those days from when I edited the Gilroy News Herald. In fact, we always needed “filler” stories in various lengths to fill gaps in layout when the writers didn’t “guesstimate” length correctly. It was funny when the “paste-up man”—which is what we called our graphic artist in those days–stuck his head in the door, saying, “We need a three-inch story.” (laughs)

Since you openly discuss Valley Views Magazine in one segment of the video, while other segments feature great places to visit in the Central Valley, I’m sharing the internet link with our readers: http://www.valleyviews.biz/ It’s a fascinating video and I hope our readers take time to watch all the segments and surf the site. I couldn’t drag myself away from it; all that yummy food, breath-taking scenery, the news segments, etc. The Central Valley is, indeed, a lovely area with much to offer residents and visitors.  I hear you have launched a big “Local First” campaign. Tell us about it, Stan.

Stan C. Countz: Well, I think many communities throughout the country could benefit from being in better touch with their local resources, local talent and local business and non-profit organizations. Also, I believe a community resource guide can inform and educate people about the importance of supporting locally-owned and locally grown companies, non-profits and talent. For the last three years, I have been working on ways of rewarding consumers who think and shop locally first. To this end, I believe I have found several creative ways to tap into the growing “Local First” movement by launching a local search portal and publishing local community resource guides and/or coupon directories that educate, inform and entertain their respective communities while rewarding local consumers with local shopping rewards, online, print and video coupons.

The community resource guide ought to profile successful local business leaders, non-profit organizations, artists, entertainers, authors, actors, models, etc. and ought to be a source of community pride and solidarity. It should cover the “Who’s Who & Who’s New” in the community. Due to the current economic downturn, however, we thought it prudent to format the publication in such a way that the break-even point is reached easier than was the break-even point for Valley Views. To this end, we have come up with a simple, duplicable print and online publishing platform and format that would work in nearly any cohesive community that wants to improve the economic climate of its local economy.

Betty Dravis: So it appears you’re no longer publishing Valley Views and are back into promoting again. I thought that Tim Tafolla, your ad designer and associate on VV, was quite talented. What’s he doing now that VV is no longer being published?

Stan C. Countz: Well, Betty, Valley Views is still a brand we want to keep and promote, but we are holding it for when an economic resurgence occurs. That’s why we’re doing smaller, less-ambitious community resource guides for ultra-local neighborhood target marketing. We organize a “school of little fish,” instead of trying to land a couple of “big fish.” Many of the big fish have moved to deeper waters.

Thanks for asking about my friend, Tim Tafolla, Betty. I’m sorry to report that his office building was gutted by a tragic fire about eight months ago. He had to start all over again from scratch, so he moved to North Modesto where he’s currently operating his photography and graphic-design business from his home. He is moving towards fashion photography and videography and is going forward in his business. I designed his website and his company Facebook fan page. His new company name is Maya Media Studio. I believe he is also managing another business as well.

Betty Dravis: It’s too bad the magazine is out of print, but the print industry has always been a hard, competitive business that’s prone to huge shifts in advertising revenue as the economy rises and falls.

I hear that you’re contemplating a different kind of TV production for the Central Valley, Stan, and I think this is a good place to give readers an impression of its size: As we Californians know, the Valley stretches approximately 500 miles (800 km) from north to south. It boggled my mind when I learned that it’s around 42,000 square miles, making it roughly the same size as the state of Tennessee. Its northern half is referred to as the Sacramento Valley and its southern half as the San Joaquin Valley. That said, is it too soon to talk about your new venture?

Stan C. Countz: As you may have noticed, there’s nothing I like better than talking business, Betty. (laughs) When the economy took a dump in the fall of 2006, I curtailed my plans for both the magazine and the TV show. However, through Tim Tafolla, I have recently been connected with a very talented video editor who is looking to co-produce a TV show for the Spanish-speaking Central California market and I am in discussions with him exploring the possibility of producing a show for both the Anglo and Hispanic markets. The show would air on a couple of English-language and a couple of Spanish-language broadcast channels out of Sacramento and would beam all over the Northern San Joaquin and Sacramento Valley. This program would give us an opportunity to promote local businesses, local artists and local events and destinations to an audience of millions of regional viewers.

Betty Dravis: That sounds fascinating, Stan, and is something I think the public would favor. If anyone can make it work, you can. Best of luck…

Stan, you send tempting Facebook invitations to the most fabulous places in the Valley, but you spoke about that above when telling about the “Shop Local” and “Who’s Who and Who’s New” campaigns. I can tell you’re proud of this area we call home. You certainly promote it well and belong to all the civic organizations. I saw some of your videos and am impressed with your on-camera persona and with the logos you created. The premise makes lots of sense to me and I understand it’s sweeping the country, with Chambers of Commerce and local leaders joining the national trend. And as seems to be your way, you’re on the cutting edge again.

Stan C. Countz: Yes, I am proud of this area, Betty; my heart, my home and my family are here. I’m sure you have seen, heard or read some of the sensational stories that have been produced or written about our area. If one is to believe all they have heard about our region, no one would want to live here, much less raise a family here. Our media outlets have become very adept at airing our “dirty laundry,” but, for some reason, they are reticent to cover any story that shows our region in a positive light. They can never be found when someone “does it right.”

I would like to try to rectify that. I think the local media should be there with our video cameras, our microphones and our notepads when someone does something noteworthy or worthy of praise, rather than following the scent of blood, like a bunch of crazed bloodhounds. I believe we can make a difference in our local communities by supporting locally-owned businesses, local talent and causes in which we believe.

Betty Dravis: You’re right about that, Stan, and I think that holds true of all the media: sensationalism is the name of the news game nowadays, it appears. I, personally, enjoy shopping and dining in my little corner of the Valley. I’ve found some amazing restaurants in Manteca, not to mention some fabulous clothing and shoe shops. (laughs)

Among many other things, Stan, you also sing, play guitar and compose lyrics. I’ve seen videos of you singing your own compositions and like them very much. I especially enjoy one entitled “Stand for Somethin’ or You’ll Fall for Anything.” That’s sound advice, Stan, and confirms that you are a true Dream Reacher, a man who believes in stretching to reach your dreams. But how and when did you start writing verse, Stan?

Stan C. Countz: In the spring of 2005, my mother, Myrna Louise (Wymar) Countz, passed away at the age of sixty-six. About a year after she passed away, out of the blue and unexpectedly, I started writing poetry and verse. Perhaps it was a “coping mechanism,” but I prefer to believe that it was a gift of God. All of a sudden, I started writing lyrics and verses and poems like a madman. Since that time–I think it was 2007–I have become quite prolific in my lyric-writing. Two of my poems have been featured in international poetry anthologies. Several of them have been re-tooled as songs, been recorded by bands and are being played on radio and on the internet all over the world. One song, Recipe for a Broken Heart, was recorded in Chet McCracken’s studio; Chet was the original drummer for The Doobie Brothers when they were featured on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine in their heyday. This song was recorded by the band Big Rain, out of Aptos, California, and played on radio stations all over the world. I wrote the lyrics and Bruce Guynn wrote the tune.

Here’s a little something I wrote, entitled I Write a Lot, that describes my writing habits:

I write quite a bit, usually every night and sit in front of my computer composing megabits of verse and rhyme. How often do I do it? All the time…to my wife’s shock and dismay, I write around the clock and every day. I never stop or have writer’s block. But I’m still trying to make it pay. I’ve written hard rock, doo-wop, country and pop. It may seem silly, but I write non-stop for hillbillies, fillies, tikes and tots. Some say I’m crazy, some say I’m not. Some say I’m lazy. Some say I’m hot, but either way, I write a lot.

Betty Dravis: That’s sad your mother passed on so relatively young, Stan. My belated condolences…

And I must say, the end of your little ditty above is really funny, but the poem is a little hard to read in places. For better effect, I’d like to hear you sing it…or speak it as poetry. Do you still sing and play guitar? And do you have any albums or CDs recorded yet?

Stan C. Countz: Yes, I still sing and play—every chance I get. (laughs) I also play drums, Betty. I have recorded enough of my songs to produce an album, but I need to focus on pulling everything together, get everything tweaked and mastered and released. I did my first wedding last month and would love to do more weddings and events. It was great. I especially enjoy performing for “Baby Boomers,” since I write for them and they “get” my lyrics better than any other age group. But I will perform for any group or gathering, if given half a chance. I also enjoy discovering local talent and promoting it. I have been producing some local talent showcases lately and would like to expand the effort to a monthly. Check out http://localfirst.biz/local-talent.htm

Betty Dravis: As I said above, I’ve heard a few of your tapes and you have a definite talent, Stan, but I can understand how and why Local First is your main focus now. Since you also help plan many grand openings and special events, serving as master-of-ceremonies at many, do you ever perform at any of these events?

Stan C. Countz: Right again, Betty… My main focus right now is promoting the Local First message. Along with a huge media campaign, we are looking to organize Local First Local Talent Showcases and networking events to introduce the local business community to the non-profits and the local talent. We had our Local First kick-off in Turlock July 7th at Sweet River Grill and had a standing-room-only launch that pulled three times as many people as the venue expected. http://localfirst.biz/blog.htm

Betty Dravis: Congrats on the Turlock event, Stan; I hear it was a lot of fun. Best of luck with all your projects.

You have an impressive array of photos on Facebook; from cruise ship to playing guitar to weddings to your lovely family to magazine covers. These photos represent many facets of your life. I could comment on each of them, but I’m really curious about those awesome convertibles from back in the day. They are way beyond cool, reminding me of the movie American Graffiti. Tell us about that photo, Stan. And while on the subject, were parts of American Graffiti filmed in Modesto?

Stan C. Countz: Although American Graffiti was loosely based on George Lucas’s life growing up in the Modesto area, it is my understanding that the actual filming of American Graffiti was done in the Petaluma area. However, Modesto has had a love affair with cruising since I can remember. We used to have Graffiti Night in Modesto when people came from all over to cruise up and down McHenry Avenue. Several years ago it was outlawed, but now they have converted the entire month of June to Graffiti Summer. Check out this video produced by Valley Views Spotlight (my former TV show) that chronicles some of the 2006 activities in the Modesto area: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMva9uHXWK0

Betty Dravis: That is, indeed, a famous movie; we’re all enamored of that era. But moving on: Stan, how important is family to you? We would enjoy knowing a little about yours.

Stan C. Countz: I have been married to my saint of a wife, Teresa, for nearly thirty-three years. We have twin daughters who are eighteen years old and we are getting close to becoming “empty nesters.” My mom, both of my brothers and my dad have all preceded me in death. I’m the last of the Mohicans, so to speak. My daughters are working on getting their driver’s licenses and buying their first cars. We are very close with my wife’s family. She comes from a family of seven and has three sisters and a brother who all live in the Modesto area. Her mom and dad only live ten houses down from us. Her mom is originally from Chihuahua, Mexico and her father is originally from Mexico City. My wife and all her siblings were born and raised in Modesto. My wife is very close to her family. Her family members are some of her best friends and confidants.  http://countzfamily.blogspot.com/

Stan with his three gorgeous girls: daughters Jessica & Vanessa & wife Teresa.

One big happy family.

Betty Dravis: Nothing beats a close-knit family, Stan. You are surely blessed.

Okay, now for a lighter question: If it were possible to spend the day with anyone throughout history, who would you choose…and why?

Stan C. Countz: I would like to stay for a day with Jesus, son of Joseph, during his three-year ministry as he went about the Judean countryside. In fact, I wrote a lyric entitled “Carpenter’s Son.” It paints a scene that might take you back in time to when he was turning water into wine and giving sight to the blind and blowing the Pharisee’s minds. Internet link to read the poem: http://happyholidaysfromstan.blogspot.com/2008_11_23_archive.html

Betty Dravis: Jesus is the perfect choice, Stan; that would be a divine blessing, for sure. I hope to be able to hear you sing that song one day. That would be a real treat… But moving on, I know how important the Central Valley and home are to you, but everyone likes to get away from time to time. What are your favorite vacation spots? And what do you do for recreation?

Stan C. Countz: We like to get away to Pine Crest up in the Sierras or the Santa Cruz/Monterey area on the coast. We also enjoy the Morro Bay and Pismo/Avila Beach area. My wife enjoys scrapbooking and I enjoy writing poetry and songwriting. (laughs) I also enjoy jamming with other musicians and creating memorable songs that change the way people think.

Betty Dravis: I’m happy you get away with the family, Stan. My children and I take to water too. In fact, as I conduct this interview, it’s Labor Day weekend and my adult kids and some of the grandkids are headed to the beach home of friends in Santa Cruz. I’d be with them, but I have to work. (laughs)

There’s a lot of talk about “paying it forward” in recent times, so tell us, Stan, how do you show appreciation for your good fortune in life?

Stan C. Countz: I like to encourage talent in all forms where I find it. Talent comes in all shapes and sizes. I like to encourage people to dig in, set their goals and don’t let anyone steal their dreams. There is so much that is discouraging out there. I want to be that one bright light in the night that shines its beacon and warns of the rocks and shoals ahead, so the ship can make it safely into harbor. If I find a flower blooming in a desert place, I want to water it, fertilize it and see how big it will grow.

Betty Dravis: Good analogy, Stan… Encouraging talent is an admirable way to pay it forward. In a way you are doing what Chase Von and I do when creating our “Dream Reachers” books: inspiring people to dream big! I admire that about you, Stan. Keep up the great work.

But now we’re nearing the end of this interview, so before I tell our readers where they can contact you, is there anything I missed that you’d like to share today? And what advice do you have for young people just getting started in journalism or writing, in general?

Stan C. Countz: Read good writing and write good writing. The way you spot a counterfeit is to become so familiar with the real thing that when a fake comes along, you can spot it immediately. Become acquainted with good writing, so you can recognize it when you see it. And I encourage writers to keep a journal or online blog. If you do not know how to set up a blog, contact me. I’ll get you all set up.

Betty Dravis: I’m sure your advice will be welcome, Stan. It’s been a pleasure talking with you today. Thanks for sharing your dreams with us and for standing up for your convictions. That said, this is the perfect place to share more links where fans, friends and potential advertisers can reach you on the internet:

http://www.localfirst.biz

http://www.linkedin.com/in/valleyviews

http://whoswhowhosnew.blogspot.com

http://www.valleyviews.biz

http://catgotyertongue.blogspot.com

http://dancinontheceilin.blogspot.com

http://www.shoutlife.com/prodigal

http://stanandbecounted.blogspot.com

http://www.viddler.com/explore/stancountz/videos/5/

http://www.facebook.com/LocalStan?v=wall

http://betweenthethieves.blogspot.com/2009/08/between-thieves.html

And now before leaving, thanks again, Stan. Best of luck with all your projects… And I’ll be seeing you on Facebook, Twitter and in the pages of Who’s Who & Who’s New, I’m sure. (laughs) Don’t forget to check back with us and keep us in the loop.

Stan C. Countz: It’s been fun, Betty. Thanks for including me with all these fascinating high-achievers. I’ll try to live up to your expectations and stretch to become a top-notch “Dream Reacher.” And don’t forget: Shop & Search Local First. (laughs)

Interview by Betty Dravis

Jessica on vacation in Italy

Betty Dravis: Hey, Jessica… It’s great to see you. I’m overwhelmed by the number of entertainers and artists who suggested you for this interview. You’re a promoter of new talent, building fan bases for them, but it looks like you have a big fan base yourself. (laughs) On your various websites you state that you couldn’t live without music in your life. I assume that’s why you love entertainers so much and want to help them succeed.

There’s so much I want to ask you, but where to begin? Hmmmm… How about at the beginning…with your childhood in Canada? What kind of precocious kid were you, Jessica? When did you first start swaying along to music and realize you enjoyed it so much? Were you pushing your little friends off the merry-go-round, encouraging them to sing and dance instead? I bet you did something like that…

Jessica Gilbert: Hi, Betty. Thanks so much for having me here. I feel very honored to be among so many wonderful and talented people. You’re right, music (and the arts) is something I can’t live without, but I never went so far as pushing my childhood friends to perform. (laughs)

I truly love working with artists and being a part of their journey to the top. There is so much great talent out there and being able to assist an artist in even a small way makes me feel good because it’s one step closer to helping them reach their dreams.

Jessica as her fans see her; she's an MT Robison "Street Angel" too.

I was born in Montreal, Canada, but left as a baby for Houston, Texas. I spent my childhood there until the age of ten. I was, generally, a very good and independent child because I was as happy doing things on my own as I was being with other children or adults. As a child I liked creative endeavors too: drawing, painting, coloring, writing and especially puzzles. I had learned the alphabet through the medium of puzzles by the age of two, which apparently was unusual, according to the playgroup “directrice”…much to my Mother’s surprise. I loved the performing arts: took ballet and tap-dance lessons; enjoyed singing to myself and making up songs and recording them as I came up with the words. At about age eight I organized a school play, Return to Oz, in which I was involved in all parts of the production, placing myself in the lead role. (laughs) I was also engaged in fundraising activities for various causes. In fact, at my school I was the first child to initiate a fundraising activity which led to many other student fundraisers.

Betty Dravis: Just as I suspected, Jessica, you were a precocious child. (laughs) And then when you grew up, did you start attending concerts? If so, can you recall your first concert (who you were with, who was performing, etc.)? Please share the emotions the live music aroused.

Jessica Gilbert: Yes, Betty, I’ve been fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend many concerts! My first concert was Tina Turner in Målaga, Spain at age ten with my parents and sister in the summer outdoors. I can’t say it was the best concert experience because it started really late. It was also hot, buggy and I got tired of standing. However, I still loved seeing her live! Back then I played Tina’s music a lot as she was one of my top favorite artists (still is today), so getting to see her in concert was an exciting experience for me. I was overwhelmed with joy to be there.

Jessica with popular singer Kelly Clarkson

 

I’m not sure what I’d do without music because not only is it great for entertainment or inspiration, but soothing to the soul. Literally, I go to sleep listening to music, listen to it when I wake up and throughout the day have some music playing. Music gives me an inspiration to think, create, write and relax.

Betty Dravis: Wow, Jessica, that’s a lot of music, but if it inspires you, that’s what matters. I can understand how that works for some people, but do you choose different music to create different moods? For instance, what do you listen to while writing? While relaxing?

Jessica Gilbert: Yes, Betty, the kind of music I listen to depends on what I’m doing, time of day, how I’m feeling, etc. For instance, while writing or painting I like inspirational music. While relaxing or before bedtime I like soft music. I even have a playlist in my iTunes called “Relaxing Mix.”

Betty Dravis: That sounds sensible for a person so attuned to music, as you are. I’m curious about your writing, Jessica. In addition to articles for your new online magazine, what type of writing interests you? We’ll talk about the magazine later.

Jessica Gilbert: I’ve written short stories, and screenwriting has always been an interest of mine. In college I took a film-writing class, so learned the technique for this type of writing. For the class assignment, we had to write a seven-minute script, which turned out to be a success. Subsequently, I thought it would be great to turn it into a feature-length script. I also have an idea for another one inspired by actual events in my life. However, any screenwriting I do will be an extra thing when time permits.

Betty Dravis: I wish you luck with all your projects, Jessica. While on the subject of writing, in your Facebook notes you posted a lengthy list of biographies and autobiographies of famous people. It contains a fascinating array of movie stars from Rita Hayworth and Ray Milland to Jane Fonda. What prompted you to post that?

Jessica Gilbert: Betty, the list of biographies and autobiographies that I posted was on behalf of a friend of mine who has this book collection for sale. So, I wanted to help spread the word about it.

Betty Dravis: He certainly has an interesting collection. Do you aspire to write a book someday? If so, are you interested in fiction or nonfiction?

Jessica Gilbert: Yes, I’d love to write and illustrate a children’s book. Since I like to draw, paint, write…and I love children, I think this kind of book would be a great opportunity to combine all these elements together. Actually, Betty, I have a couple of ideas for children’s books. (smile)

Betty Dravis: Oh, you’d be a natural for children’s picture books, Jessica. I’m here to tell you that they are a joy to write; takes one back to one’s own childhood. I’ve only published one YA, The Toonies Invade Silicon Valley, but I have three unsubmitted picture books that are partially illustrated by my granddaughter, Kristy Soza. I would so enjoy doing my own illustrations, but, unfortunately, don’t have the talent of a kindergartner. (laughs)

But changing the subject, you wrote somewhere: “I’m not your average girl.” What do you mean by that, Jessica?

Jessica tours Venice in a gondola.

Jessica Gilbert: Well, Betty, I’m not your average girl because I’ve lived a life that many people don’t get to experience. I’ve lived in three countries (USA, Spain and Canada) and traveled extensively throughout much of Canada, USA, Europe and the Dominican Republic. So I feel very fortunate to have experienced living in different countries and cultures. Also to have been able to do all the traveling I’ve done up to this point in my life.

Betty Dravis: You’re right about that, Jessica: You are fortunate. I’m about twice your age and have only been in two bordering countries and about twenty of our United States. (laughs)

I hear you just returned from Italy, which is one place I would love to visit. I’d enjoy going there now while filmmaker Tony Tarantino is directing Between the Olive Trees. I could kill three birds with one stone: meet Tony, actress Susan Kennington who has a prime role in that movie, and Antonia Tosini, talented author of the book the film is being made from. Now that would be a thrill.

Was your trip vacation or business? And did you meet any new artists while there?

Jessica Gilbert: Betty, my trip to Italy was a much-needed vacation. (smile) I had such a blast traveling throughout Italy and got to see so much in twelve days. The highlights of my trip were Venice and Capri. I love Italy, so hope to make it back there again soon. I didn’t meet any new artists while there, but finally got to meet one of my MySpace friends in person…a gifted photographer.

 

Jessica with parents Freda and Adrian Gilbert and sister Lauren in Spain.

Betty Dravis: I saw photographs of your trip, Jessica, and Italy’s as picturesque as you say. Breath-taking, in fact… I know you love to travel and get around much more than the “average girl,” so I’m sure your time there is a treasured memory.

But I’m the most curious about the promotion aspect of your life. I know that you promote a number of talented people: musicians, authors, singers, dancers, artists, etc. But from the sheer number of musicians you help, it’s obvious you prefer them. I know you promote singer/guitarist/lyricist MT Robison and The Messengers and are a huge fan. I met you through M.T. after he was featured in our first Dream Reachers book. He’s awesome and has some clever promotion going on himself. For instance, he calls his fans his “Street Angels” and a white feather is one of his trademarks. Like you, I’m a Street Angel, too, Jessica; I adore MT. He certainly has it all “going on”: the look, the voice, and the creativity—not to mention a huge stage presence. He can’t miss with a publicist like the talented Linda Shrader in his corner.

How many fan clubs have you founded and who else do you promote besides M.T.?

Jessica Gilbert: I do promote many musicians, but it isn’t that I prefer them over the others because I love all types of artists. I just end up connecting with more musicians simply because so many more come my way on the various social networking sites. Yes, I do promote MT and The Messengers. I adore MT so much…as both artist and person. Linda Shrader is amazing and he truly is lucky to have her as his publicist.

I’ve founded eight fan clubs for various musicians. To tell you about all the wonderful artists I promote would be a whole interview itself because there are so-ooo many of them. However, to name a few: Kashy Keegan, Wildon Ash, Michael J. Scott, Neil Barlow, David Blair, David Barreto, Kadesha, Lizann, Daz, Elena Vogt, Tima Montemayor, Olivia Gray, Tobiah and Orly Vardy. They are all amazing artists that can be found on MySpace and I highly recommend checking out their music.

Betty Dravis: That’s quite a roster, Jessica. I expect many of those to be big names in the future; you certainly have an eye and ear that’s attuned to the pulse of the world. You were even kind enough to start a Dream Reachers Fan Club on MySpace and on Facebook. My co-author Chase Von and I are humbled by that. Just to be included on the same page with all your talented friends is an honor. Thanks so much for your faith in us.

Speaking of MySpace, your MS page is incredible, chock-full of talented people and current bios and links. Each time I visit your page, the photos and art are so appealing that it boggles my mind. I feel like I felt the first time my mom took me to an ice-cream parlor. How could I choose just one flavor? I wanted them all… That must be how you feel when deciding who to promote. What’s the first thing that draws your attention to a promising artist, Jessica?

Jessica Gilbert: It was my pleasure to start a Dream Reachers Fan Club for you and Chase Von. It’s a wonderful and inspirational book that everyone would enjoy reading.

When I visit ice cream parlors I always have a hard time choosing flavors too. (laughs) Yes, I feel exactly the same way when deciding which artists to promote. It’s going to be really hard choosing who to interview for each issue of my magazine because I really do love so many artists. What draws my attention the most to a promising artist is how much they give of themselves, which leads to our connection. One of the qualities I value most of all, besides talent, is originality.

Betty Dravis: You probably don’t know this, Jessica, but originality is the first thing I notice when choosing a book to read and review, also.

Since you currently do the publicity and promotion as a labor of love, do you plan to make a career of it? If so, is your forthcoming magazine the first step towards making your dream come true? I know you “wear three hats” with the business: publisher/managing editor/freelance writer. As a former print newspaper owner myself, I can testify that there are many more hats than that. (laughs) But tell us more about Talent Spotlight Magazine, Jessica. When will you launch your debut edition? And can you give us a sneak peek at a few artists you’re interviewing for the first edition?

Jessica Gilbert: Betty, I would like to make a career in artist promotions (and possibly even in other aspects of the music or film industry) because I’m passionate about promoting and working with all types of artists. Perhaps I might work for a record company in the PR department.

Talent Spotlight Magazine came into creation as a result of my desire to participate in the creative process of talent. It is very fulfilling for me to offer artists a creative venue to promote their talent. As well, selfishly speaking, I hope this creative venue will be a good means to get myself out there as a promoter. I’ve thought about doing something like this for a while now and always wanted to work with a magazine. So, now I can…with my own. (smile)

TSM will be an online magazine that will come out bimonthly, starting this October. It will feature in-depth interviews with talent from all genres of the arts: music, photography, art, film, print and more. The magazine’s primary focus will be on new and emerging artists. However, it will feature more established ones as well. Each issue will also feature an organization or cause–there are so many wonderful causes and organizations out there that I feel it would be great to promote them too–reviews and more! It will have a whole variety of different artists in each issue, making it a more diverse magazine. Some of the artists that will be in the launch issue are two of your original “Dream Reachers”: Kashy Keegan and MT Robison. I will also be featuring April Star Davis, a jewelry designer whose designs have been featured in numerous fashion magazines and in various movies. Her jewelry has also been worn by many top celebrities.

Betty Dravis: Great minds think alike, Jessica: I thought about interviewing a famous jewelry designer for Dream Reachers: Vol. 2, but due to heavy demand for the available slots, I didn’t have time. I look forward to reading your story about April Star, and of course, dear Kashy and MT. As you know, they were interviewed by my Dream Reachers co-author Chase Von for that book. Your first edition sounds like a winner.

I understand that the talented writer Michelle Jackson will be working with you on the   magazine. Did you know that she wrote the following about you?:

I am wonderfully blessed to call Jessica my friend and to be on this great journey with her. She is extremely talented in the arts and has a heart of gold, reaching out to others who possess the same passion. She is motivated and driven to help artists of all genres to reach their dreams in this great Industry. I have great hope that she will succeed in achieving these goals

That’s high praise, Jessica, and “heart of gold” is how many of the artists describe you. Can you tell us a little more about Michelle and her duties with TSM?

Talent Spotlight Magazine Writer Michelle Jackson

Jessica Gilbert: Yes, Betty, I’m blessed to have Michelle Jackson working with me on the magazine. I connected with her instantly awhile back through a friend. We share a love for the arts, plus she’s also a wonderful writer. Michelle is a great singer too and I have told her she should put her music out there. Then I can promote her as well. (smile) I didn’t know what Michelle wrote about me until it was up on the TSM MySpace site. I’m infinitely grateful to her for her kind words and generosity. She will primarily be a contributing writer with interviews for the magazine.

Betty Dravis: Michelle sounds like a real “keeper.” You two have a lot of mutual respect and admiration for each other. I look forward to reading her articles too.

Talent Spotlight Magazine–that’s a perfect, self-descriptive name, Jessica, and your logo is very attractive. It’s all the buzz with many artists that I know. I’ve been hearing about TSM for months and months. We’re eager to see your first edition and wish you incredible good fortune.

Jessica Gilbert: Glad you like the magazine name and logo. (smile) I designed the logo myself and received positive feedback on it, so am pleased that people like it. Awhile back in Canada, I took an intensive graphic design course as I enjoy playing with graphics as well. I know that many people have been anxiously waiting for the launch of the magazine and I promise that wait will soon be over. Thank you, Betty, and to everyone else for your tremendous support for TSM.

Betty Dravis: The late promoter Bill Graham, who was the best in his day, had some incredible stories to tell about how he got started. After meeting the San Francisco Mime Troupe at a free concert in Golden Gate Park, he gave up a promising business career to manage the troupe in 1965. After Mime Troupe leader Ronny Davis was arrested on obscenity charges during an outdoor performance, Graham organized a benefit concert to cover the troupe’s legal fees. The concert was a success and Graham saw a business opportunity. He was an American impresario and rock concert promoter from the 1960s until his death in 1991. We wish you fame and good fortune, too, but hope your success begins with less public scrutiny than Graham’s. (laughs)

Jessica, being such a lovely, dynamic and active young woman, when do you find time for dating? Or is that something you’re postponing for the time being?

Jessica Gilbert: That’s interesting about Bill Graham, Betty. I bet he did have great stories about his work as a promoter! Perhaps after I have more experience, I’ll write a book about it someday.

But to answer the big “dating” question: While I am busy with all the work I do, I always have time for dating. (smile) Finding Mr. Right and settling down is high on my priority list.

Betty Dravis: I thought you’d say that, Jessica, but I’m glad to hear you confirm it. All work and no play makes Jessica…well, you know how that old saying goes. (laughs) Okay, now that your priorities are settled, let’s move on…

I hear that the very talented David Barreto, one of the musicians you promote, wrote a lovely song about you. Tell us about him and how that made you feel? I find that incredibly romantic. Do you have a link where our readers can hear the song and do you mind sharing the lyrics with us?

Jessica Gilbert: Yes, David Barreto did write a wonderful song about me titled “Jessica.” I was really honored and flattered he did this song for me and will cherish it forever. Friends who have heard it said he really captured the essence of me. I don’t have the lyrics, but people can hear the song on my “Jessica’s Artist Network” page. David truly is a talented and amazing musician, one I proudly promote. (smile) BTW, he also did a Talent Spotlight Magazine jingle for the website.

Betty Dravis: Oh, Jessica, I love that catchy jingle; the way David drags out the words (Talent…Spotlight…Magazine) is so cool. Makes me want to dance…

Since you’re multi-tasking now, Jessica, do I dare ask if you have a “day job?” If so, where do you work? If not, let us in on the secret of survival without working. Are you an heiress or some rich man’s daughter? (laughs)

Jessica Gilbert: LOL, Betty… I’ve been taking Spanish classes in the mornings to brush up on my speaking skills. The rest of the day is a combination of artist promotions, magazine work and painting/drawing. Recently, I got back into my art and would like to build up a body of work to sell (originals and prints). My background is in art, as I majored in studio art with an emphasis on painting/drawing at university. Soon I shall also be offering an official listing of my services and rates for online promotions and management.

Betty Dravis: I’m glad to hear you’ll soon be going professional with your promotions, Jessica, and the news about your art is welcome too. I would love to have an “original by Jessica,” so keep us posted about that too. Meanwhile, I invite our readers to view your online gallery (under Art in your Facebook photos) and if they see anything they like, to contact you.

 

Landscape Near Royal Victoria Hospital in Watercolor 1998 - My favorite painting in Jessica's gallery.

Since we all must prioritize our schedules, here’s a food-for-thought question that might be fun to answer: Can you name three things in your life that you couldn’t live without?

Jessica with Joshua Radin, American folk recording artist, songwriter and occasional actor.

Jessica Gilbert: That’s an easy one, Betty… I can’t live without my family/friends, travel and live music.

Betty Dravis: Well, that’s short and sweet, Jessica, but it says a lot for your character and values. Thanks.

Another question that usually brings out the humor in people is: What’s the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you?

Jessica Gilbert: You know, Betty, I really can’t think of an embarrassing thing that has happened to me. I’ll share a funny story with you instead. For my tenth birthday in Texas (it was also my last one there before I moved to Spain the first time around), my dad got a piñata. For people who don’t know what it is, it’s something made from either a clay container or a cardboard shape covered in paper mache. The tradition with a piñata is that you fill up the inside with sweets and goodies. Then everyone is blindfolded and hits it with a stick until it breaks and the sweets fall out. However, that didn’t quite work out the way it should have. My friends and I were hitting the piñata non-stop, waiting for all the sweets to come out–but no traces of any.

What my dad didn’t know was that he was supposed to fill the piñata with sweets himself. So, all the hard work hitting that piñata to get it open didn’t pay off with sweets. This was one of those occasions where you just had to be there. (laughs)

Betty Dravis: Oh, no-ooo, Jessica… That’s hilarious! You poor kids, but I feel sorry for your father too. I hope the kids didn’t get after him with those sticks… (laughs)

Now for another question: If you could spend an entire day with just one person (living or dead) who would you choose and why?

 

Jessica with Joss Stone, English soul and R&B singer–songwriter and actress.

Jessica Gilbert: This is a tough question, Betty, because I’d like to meet people from all walks of life who work in different fields because everything fascinates me and I can learn something from everyone I meet. But since I have to pick one, I’d choose to spend an entire day with Ellen DeGeneres because she has had all types of people on her show and must have many wonderful stories to share about her experiences meeting them all. An entire day would be needed to hear about much of them, plus I think she would just be so much fun to hang out with in person. (smile)

Some celebs I’d love to have an encounter with include: Julie Andrews, Wentworth Miller, Anthony Hopkins, Barbara Walters, Brad Pitt, Alec Baldwin, Robin Williams, Scott Wolf, Bette Midler, Adam Lambert, David Cook, James Blunt, Bon Jovi, Enrique Iglesias, Five For Fighting, INXS, Daughtry, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jewel, and lots of others.

There are so-ooo many celebs I’d love to meet. I’ve been fortunate to have already met some of them, including: Cyndi Lauper, Bryan Adams, Rob Thomas, Rosie O’Donnell, Gary Sinise, Kurt Browning, Joss Stone, Kelly Clarkson, Joshua Radin, David Usher, Suzie McNeil and some others.

I received a phone call from Alec Baldwin when he filmed the TV mini-series “Nuremberg” in Montreal and came close to meeting him. I would still love to meet him.

 

Jessica with Alexa Wilkinson, singer-songwriter, guitarist and trumpet player.

Betty Dravis: Wow, you’ve met a lot of celebs, Jessica. My daughter Allie used to adore Cyndi Lauper. In fact she resembled her so much that she dressed like her one Halloween; a dead ringer in that pink dress, black mesh hose and black-and-white, high-top sneakers. A wonderful memory…

As for meeting Alec Baldwin–you and me both… The funny thing about Alec is that I like him better today in his maturity than I did when he was younger. I often wonder why that’s true with certain actors. But you must share the story about how you came “close” to meeting Alec. I want to hear all the juicy details… (laughs)

Jessica Gilbert: Well, Betty, it was simpler than I thought it would be. I just sent Alec Baldwin a note expressing my appreciation for his work; included my number and also shared some pix of my art. So, one night I got an unexpected call from him. That took me by complete surprise since this doesn’t happen often–at least not between a celeb and fan. When we spoke, he expressed interest in meeting and seeing my art work, saying that he would get in touch with me again if it were possible. I never heard back from him, so that’s why the meeting never took place.

However, a couple months later I did receive a lovely, personal note from him mentioning how much he admired my work and one day hoped to own one of my pieces. So, I actually sent him a small painting as a gift and got a nice thank you note from him.

Anyway, he’s not the only celeb I’ve received mail from; I used to enjoy sending letters of appreciation to many of my favorite celebs. I have over a hundred autographs. Some I did write to through the film’s production office when they filmed movies in Montreal (at one time they were filming tons of movies there).

However, with Gary Sinise and Nicolas Cage, I left letters for them with assistants on the movie set. I was actually one of the thousands of extras in that movie; you can’t see me though. I had an awesome day, watching the filming in action under the direction of Brian de Palma, and also had a free lunch and t-shirts imprinted with the name of the movie and cast.

In response to my letter to Gary Sinise, his personal assistant called, inviting me to the wrap party.  I went, of course, and met Gary there. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a pic with him. His sweet, pretty assistant told me he was overwhelmed with pictures. But I received two signed pix in the mail later on. It was also unfortunate that Nicolas Cage and de Palma weren’t present at the wrap party; they had already left town. Nicolas Cage also responded back to me, signing and writing a short message on the pic I had enclosed. I want to share this story about Cage and Sinise with you, too, since it’s a nice story.

Betty Dravis: You’re right, Jessica, those are heart-warming stories, reinforcing my opinion that high-ranking people are not much different than you and me. The majority of them are hard-working, sincere, down-to-earth and friendly. I’ve seen that same caring quality in many of the celebs I’ve interviewed. It’s good to know that about Alec, Gary and Nicholas; thanks for sharing.

Well, Jessica, we’re nearing the end of the interview, so this is a good time to mention anything that I might have missed. I’ll post your links in closing, so your fans and friends can find anything else they might wish to know about you.

Jessica Gilbert: You didn’t miss much, Betty, but I’d also like to add that I have a children’s page dedicated to all causes and organizations related to children. People can check that out on my Artist Network page. It’s called “Jessica’s Precious Treasures of Hope.” At some point in the near future, I’d like to create some kind of fundraiser project to raise money for some of those that I strongly support. If anyone would be interested in working with me on something, please get in touch with me.

Betty Dravis: That’s an important point to mention, Jessica. Children are our future and I’m pleased to know you have plans to help them also. Now, so that our readers can keep track of you and your many projects, I’m going to post your main websites:

http://www.myspace.com/Jessicaartistpromotions

http://www.myspace.com/talentspotlightmagazine

http://www.talentspotlightmagazine.com

It’s been delightful chatting with you, Jessica, but the time flew and I must bid you a fond farewell. We learned a lot more about you today and definitely look forward to reading and becoming a fan of Talent Spotlight Magazine. It will be cool to follow the careers of you and your clients…your awesome artists!

Thanks for sharing your dreams with us. You’re a caring, dynamic woman with a heart of gold, as you have heard many times before. May all your dreams come true, and keep rocking to the beat of your own drummer! I’m so happy to add you to the growing list of our Dream Reachers.

Jessica Gilbert: Betty, thank you so much for inviting me to be here, and I will keep you posted on everything! Love and Blessings xo

by Betty Dravis

Dr. Linda Salvin.KLSX 97.1 FM final night on the air.2009

Betty Dravis: Dr. Salvin, you are a first for me! I have never interviewed anyone with your special skills before, so I hope that we both learn from this interview. Since I am a devout Christian, I’m somewhat of a skeptic–but a skeptic with an open mind…at least during the course of this interview (laughs). I know that you believe in God, too, so am eager to see how your psychic skills fit in with His plan for your life.

As you know, my co-author and I write books called Dream Reachers and they’re all about high-achieving people and the problems they encounter in reaching their dreams. I chose to interview you because you definitely fit that category. As well as being on popular websites like Dames of Dialogue and Student Operated Press, your interview will also be included in Dream Reachers: Vol. 2.

I met you through Facebook and you come highly recommended by actress Katherin Kovin Pacino who is one of your best friends. Tell us how you met Kat and exactly what it is you do. I read that you had been a successful public health official and that you got started on your new path through a series of traumatic accidents. Can you share about that? I realize your life reads like a book, so please share the highlights.

That said, let me welcome you to Dames of Dialogue with open arms. It’s always fun talking about the “unknown,” so I suspect we will have fun. I know our readers enjoy reading about interesting people and you, Dr. Salvin, are that and more.

Dr. Linda Salvin: Hi, Betty… and please call me Linda. We have chatted enough on Facebook to be on a first-name basis. I prefer the informality of places like Facebook, as I know you do.

First off, let me thank you for inviting me to participate with your Dream Reachers, Vol. 2 publication as well as the Dames of Dialogue and Student Operated Press. I am honored to be considered a high-achiever among your other featured people. You have such an impressive catalogue of celebrities you have interviewed throughout the decades, I cannot see how I got so lucky to be included in your collection. Again, my heart-felt appreciation…

To answer your first question, my background is Health Education and Epidemiology, the study of epidemics. Many people thought it was skin, which is dermatology. (laughs) Although I will discuss my educational background in depth below, once out of school, many strange events began to take place in my life. The first occurred in the fall of 1977 after I returned from Europe. I had just been offered a position at General Dynamics in Pomona for an Industrial Hygienist. The job entailed creating a program to ensure the health and well-being of the manufacturing plant from chemical and toxic exposures. The weekend following the interview, I had a bizarre fall in the bathroom where I passed out, was rushed to the hospital and found I had sustained a concussion when my head hit the toilet and broke a chunk of porcelain. I was laid up for about ten days, called the company and asked if they could hold the job for me.

All the while, something inside me told me not to take it. I ignored that little voice and worked there for two-and-a-half years. I established the Industrial Hygiene program just as OSHA was coming of age in the late ’70s. I was one of four professional women in a very male-dominated industry of many ex-military personnel; certainly not the place for someone like me who once walked moratoriums for the Vietnam War in high school!

During my years in the health field, among other things, at USC I did brain tumor research as well as research on Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange, developed the drug abuse program for Cal State Northridge, taught AIDS education to kids on parole in the California Youth Authority. But the funny thing was, I just could not figure out how I ended up working at a gray metal desk with my window looking out at barbed wire fences. I quit my job without having another to go to. My spiritual journey was about to begin…

Betty Dravis: Sorry you had the accident, Linda, but perhaps that ended up for the better since it probably had a great deal to do with your rethinking your job situation…even if you did go on to work over two years in that program. (laughs) And NO, I can’t picture you behind a “gray metal desk,” but it’s heartening to know that you were helping people in both phases of your career. But please continue. I’m eager to learn all about your spiritual journey and everything you do now. I know you’re a popular radio host with a big following, but other than that… Hmmmm…

Linda Salvin with President Gerald R. Ford at University of Michigan Dinner.March. 1977

Dr. Linda Salvin: Well, Betty, I’m just as eager to tell my story. Talking it out is cathartic, in a way. OK, after leaving General Dynamics in early 1980, a friend from San Francisco asked if I wanted to house-sit their home while she and her husband traveled through Europe. (I had actually known my friend in high school and ran into her in a college class in San Francisco.) Her offer came at an opportune time for me, so I took advantage of the offer to partly decide if I would want to relocate to the Bay Area again and partly to escape many of the conflicts I was facing.

Not sure what I was going to pursue at the time, I decided to return to what I have termed, “the scene of my crime” to figure out what happened to me along the way. I moved back to San Francisco for two months, but loved it so much that I stayed five–until deciding to return home to Los Angeles where I planned to enter the music industry once and for all.

I had begun my spiritual trek a year or two before, seeking out what God and the universe really meant to me, had in store for me and what spirituality might mean to me. I went on unemployment, taking time off after six straight years of college followed by a few years of work. It was time to think things through.

While there, I interviewed at UC Berkeley for an Epidemiology appointment, was flown down to Long Beach for an Industrial Hygiene position. I was offered both and rejected both.

While in San Francisco, I took what was then called est training, a popular self-awareness workshop. After that experience, staying with friends and finally getting ready to make a commitment again, I packed up my car, drove down the coast and landed in my parents’ home in Beverly Hills. It was also their 30th wedding anniversary party and I wanted to be there to celebrate with them.

In December, 1980, I interviewed with an insurance company for an Environmental Health Specialist position which I was offered. I was in training just two months when I received my first out-of-town assignment; it was in San Jose, California. I drove to Newport Beach to meet my partner and then to John Wayne Airport to catch a plane to San Jose. We were to test ethylene oxide exposure in an autoclave to determine chemical exposure levels in a hospital. We needed to determine the safety and toxicity levels to insure health standards were in effect. An autoclave is where surgical instruments are sterilized. We instructed the staff not to open the autoclave door during the next four hours. At the two-hour-check mark, we discovered someone had tampered with our sampling and invalidated our entire day’s work.

We decided to pack up and head back to the airport. While sitting in the coffee shop, I turned to look at the parked plane and said, “Doesn’t it look like it could crack there?” When my partner turned, he did not see the exhaust or settlement line that I did, which seemed to appear beyond the wing of the plane. An hour-and-a-half later, our plane crash-landed to avoid collision with another plane taking off on the same runway. Statistically, the probability of all of us surviving was about two billion to one. But we did! I guess you could say that was my first premonition.

My life changed forever that day, February 17, 1981.

Linda with Musician/Producer George Brown, founding member of Kool & the Gang

I spent many years confused, frightened, spiritually challenged, alone and trying to figure out what had happened to me. When I say alone, I mean few people could identify with my challenges, feelings or sensations. I didn’t know I had become so God-conscious and psychic at the same time. I did not know where to turn, who to talk to. Even therapists could not identify with me. I was in conflict for at least six years, to say the least.

However, during that time, I had a number of “wake-up calls”: my car was hit by a fire-truck; in 1984, I totaled a car; and had the white-light experience and was given a choice to live or die. Had I not experienced all of this, I would not believe it either…

Yes, there is a God in my life! Although raised Jewish, my awareness of God broadened. Yes, I believe there is something out there directing us all on our journey–especially when we veer from our truth–or to encourage us to move more toward our higher and ultimate purpose if the soul’s yearning to grow is such. I know I had a thirst for knowledge I did not understand in high school but was philosophical in my own right. Yet, as an adult, I entered the world of science and was less creative than I had been.

We all change through our decisions. What I have learned is that if we get off the path, by opening spiritually, we can return to our God-given self and become who we were intended to be…

The plane crash opened my eyes, as did all the other accidents. I was going toward music but then psychic abilities took over and although I ran for eleven years–while attempting to work in public health, health education at a local university, working as an epidemiologist in cancer research, etc.–things still did not sit right within me. I became restless and uncomfortable within my own skin and did not know why. It was as if a surge of energy was pushing me. Intelligence, attractiveness, education, a nice salary and gee, something still wasn’t right.

Betty Dravis: Frightening accidents and experiences like that would make anyone sit up and take notice, Linda. Yours was a hard path to get where God wanted you to be. Thanks for sharing your San Francisco college years. What other colleges did you attend? Since your parents lived in Beverly Hills, is that where you were born? A so-called Valley Girl at that time? (laughs)

Linda Salvin, relaxing at home

Dr. Linda Salvin: I grew up in Sherman Oaks, Betty; my parents moved to Beverly Hills when I was in grad school.  My college education extends beyond San Francisco State University. I began undergraduate work at Los Angeles Valley College in Van Nuys, California and left in my sophomore year, February, 1973. This is where I made a very big mistake in my life that now is just a chunk of time for learning a big lesson–a painful one at that! I followed a boyfriend up to college even though we had just broken up. I did not have the courage to say I no longer wanted to attend that school, so I left home and went anyway. Not a good experience for me but I did earn my BA in Health Science in May, 1975. I can still hear my mother asking if I wanted to come home and my reply of “No!” How many times do I wish I had said, “Yes?”

That summer after I graduated, I was working as a camp counselor at a Girl Scout camp when I received a phone call from my mother, saying I had been accepted to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor for my Master’s in Public Health Epidemiology. I really liked studying disease and thought it would be exciting to do and I considered becoming a doctor. I quit camp, went to visit friends in the Bay Area, returned to LA and prepared for grad school.

Four years after grad school was the life-altering plane crash. Gee, did my life change!

In 1989, I was working for a private organization where we taught AIDS education to kids on parole in the California Youth Authority. On a weekend night, I was hit in my car by another car that jumped the lane, spun out on the Hollywood freeway. I was so frightened, I just said, “Oh, God, help me!” as I scrambled for the brake pedal. Like the Red Sea parting, all eight lanes heading north into the San Fernando Valley that night came to a halt and somehow, by the grace of God, I was able to turn my car around and drive over to the right shoulder where there were a few other cars who had been involved in the accident. I was not at fault. I had to get all the information from the other people. I knew I had a headache but did not know the extent of it at that time.

Each accident I had been in damaged my back, neck and arms, but they also took me out of my body and closer to God. After the last accident, I had such agonizing headaches that the neurologist told me it would take at least two years of treatment before I felt better. But after what I had been through since 1981, there was no way I’d spend two more years healing.

I was determined to get well fast, so I found a wonderful chiropractor who was able to unlock the pinched nerve and assist me. Thank God for chiropractors.

Betty Dravis: Those headaches must have been awful to endure, Linda, and I’m so glad you found help from a chiropractor. That’s a wonderful testimony to their skills. My son-in-law Nick Rodriguez is a chiropractor. He and my daughter Allison own O’Hara Chiropractic in San Jose. He sure was a blessing to me when I suffered a pinched sciatic nerve. But please go on, your story is gripping.

Linda with actor Rodney Allen Rippy at Katherin Kovin Pacino's Birthday Party.2010

Dr. Linda Salvin: Your son-in-law and daughter are healing people, too, Betty. I’m pleased to hear that. God’s blessings on them…

The odd thing is that after that accident, I became more psychic, but due to the headaches, I quit my job, took on odd jobs and played music around town. But fate stepped in again: In 1991, I fell ill and needed emergency surgery. My gynecologist explained that as a result of tumors, if I didn’t have surgery, I would end up dying. I remember him asking how important having children was to me. Having already by-passed a few of the relationships I had ever considered having children with, I knew the decision to surrender my child-bearing abilities for my life was my next challenge. So there I was, facing another very difficult and upsetting time…again.

The upside was that shortly after I began to heal, the energy from my hands began to flow from me and the healing gift I have today emerged. I did stand-up comedy for awhile and the joke was that they took out my uterus and I became a healer. Go figure… (laughs)

Betty Dravis: You’ve certainly had a lot of pain in your life, Linda, but you are such a giving, caring woman, I know you would suffer it all over again in exchange for the gift of healing and helping others. You’re an amazing woman; a less strong woman wouldn’t be able to endure what you did and then joke about it in your comedy routine. Wow! Tell us more… I’m eager to hear how you got started in radio, and I bet our readers are, also.

Dr. Linda Salvin: Well, Betty, I do have more to say, but I’m not used to talking in-depth about myself, so stop me if I go too far. (laughs) On the other hand, I could talk all night about my career. I love explaining the spiritual and metaphysical sides of life.

But first, I’ll respond to your radio question: I got started in radio in1994. I worked for Psychic Friends Network, was in their Infomercial with Dionne Warwick for two seasons (1992-93), worked awhile as a psychic and then went out on my own. Shortly after the 1994 earthquake here in Los Angeles, I was selected out of 365 people to be the night-time psychic on Los Angeles’s KBIG 104 FM radio. The station was one of the largest rock stations in town.

By that summer, I had built a following and was known as the radio psychic. The creative director there, who is still a great friend today, suggested I start my own show. I took his advice and after sixteen years, I have been nationally syndicated on AM/FM, cable and now I have my own Internet station. I hope to grow over time… as word gets out.

Linda Salvin & Famous Singer Dionne Warwick.1993.photo by Barry Slobin

Betty Dravis: Congratulations on going national, Linda. That’s a huge leap in the right direction. By stretching to reach your dreams, as we urge in our Dream Reachers books, you have fulfilled dream after dream. I’m sure your following will reach the stratosphere. I’m familiar with your show from your website and on Facebook and I got a taste of just how popular you are: When you and I started conversing there, I suddenly started receiving friendship requests from quite a few people who are huge fans of yours..and from your competitors, as well. (laughs) It was obvious, because they mentioned you in requesting my friendship. You can’t keep any secrets on Facebook, can you?

Dr. Linda Salvin: I didn’t know that, Betty, but you’re right… (laughs) I love Facebook. It’s a wonderful way to network, to meet people and, hopefully, help them with their everyday and health problems. Thanks for sharing that about my “fans” who contacted you. However, fans is such a presumptuous word… I like to think of them as clients…even friends.

But you asked about “all” I do, so I will start with metaphysics which is a combination of religion, psychology and esoteric beliefs. After all I had experienced and how I had grown, changed and evolved, I felt it best to validate my educational and professional side with the top degree to complement my previous academic degrees. I returned to school and received my PhD in 2008 from the American Institute of Holistic Theology

In the late ‘90s, I developed a candle line called Wicks of Wisdom® which are “…like a prescription for your soul.”® These candles include three per set with essential oils, herbs and powders to assist spiritually to increase finances, love, health, luck, win legal cases, balance dysfunctional relationships and much more. For years, I have received testimonial after testimonial from my clients and that–along with the readings, healings and channelings–gives me great satisfaction. Knowing I have been able to help others achieve something on their journey through life makes it all worthwhile. People can see the candles on TV and our website http://www.wowtvoffer.com as well as  http://www.lindasalvin.com

Linda Salvin.photo by Jody Frank Photography.2006

I mentioned channeling, Betty, and most people are interested in that. Here is the odd, painful way I came to learn I could channel: After the hysterectomy and the healing work, I discovered my body was developing more and more benign tumors. At one point I had about forty tumors removed from hips and thighs. They needed to come out as they each had their own independent blood supply, called angiolipomas.

I eventually discovered I was placing the energy from healing people back into my body. One day after surgery, I was wearing shorts, slapped my hands down on my lap and saw it: many of the scars of the various tumors that had been removed were in the perfect shape of my eight fingers and two thumbs. That’s when I realized I had to change the way I dealt with energy.

I had three more surgeries for tumors by 1999 and each surgery seemed to elevate my gift. I have learned that since anesthesia is the closest thing to death, it may also have had something to do with the spiritual changes I went through while removing the negative masses of energy I had accumulated in my body (which are considered tumors).

After the first surgery to remove the tumors, I had a client come to see me. He asked about his wife who was deceased. I began to speak as if she were coming through me. He said I was just like her. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I was given the gift of transmediumship after that surgery. All in all, the accidents led to opening up, finding God, knowing there is a force out there guiding me, you and the rest of the planet.

It appears that the first surgery took me to a new level and the following surgeries opened me up to yet a different world to help people, read, explore and comprehend the different dimensions of life.

I do not have enough time (or space here) to write a complete dissertation of my ideas of what this all means, Betty. I do know there is spirit; I do know there is something outside of ourselves and not just within ourselves that directs us. I feel that aligning and integrating is the key for the true life’s happiness and purpose. Love, work, fulfillment, happiness, contentment come when doing God’s will. There are challenges, decisions, choices and free will. I have learned how my will caused me upset and by becoming aware of spiritual laws, life’s flow and synchronicity timing of people, places and things, life took on an entirely new meaning and path for my purpose and fulfillment.

Even while in therapy for treatment of the post anxiety stress disorder I suffered following the plane crash, I could not heal or recover properly. I had difficulty sleeping and awakening. The only way I began to feel comfortable was when I found God in my life. I began to trust the universe, the energy, and the messages of the universe. I began to see that everything happens in time for a reason; that God’s rejection is God’s protection; and a coincidence is God acting anonymously. I began to understand the synchronicity of life.

Linda Salvin with Bill Pascali, Author & Keyboardist/Lead Singer for The New Rascals, Vanilla Fudge & other bands.Photo by Sue Michelson, Soul Gallery Productions.2010

As I said above, a year after the plane crash, I was hit by a fire-truck and in 1984 had totaled a car and experienced the white light, where I was given the choice to live or die. Regarding the white light experience, I was driving home on a rainy night. The street lights were out. I was heading north as a car entered the intersection going west. I broadsided the car. I said to myself, “They’re going so fast! I want to go home.” Next thing I knew, my car spun out and as I was spinning and came to a halt, and–as God is my witness–a white light went from the top of my head, through the ceiling of my Camaro and into the heavens. I heard a loud voice say, “You can come with us now or stay and do…” and I was given a message I choose not to share at this time.

Freaking out, I chose to stay. Paramedics pried me out of my car. When I stood on the street, I cried, “They want me off the planet! They want me off the planet!” I was rushed to UCLA for observation. After all the accidents from 1981 to this one in 1984, I felt like something was out to get me, change me and finally, redirect me. I know, many people say they would never drive with me. The truth is, I have been through so many different events that most people never go through…or perhaps only once. But I’ve been through many which continued to alter my life and perspectives. After a while, I began to feel like I had a connection to the “other side,” like a bumper car is connected by a metal rod to the electrical system above to drive around and bump other cars.

My first clients were through the Psychic Friends Network, even though after the plane crash my friends kept saying that everything I told them kept coming true. I knew I had become psychic but ran for eleven years before I embraced it and surrendered to using the gift for a career. The calls on the network helped me gain the confidence to read for people accurately.

Within months of my readings, I had several repeat callers telling me I was one of the few who knew what they were talking about, whose predictions actually came true and that I could help them. Six months into this, I received a call from the Psychic Friends Network office asking if I would be interested in being in their upcoming infomercial. I agreed and from there my psychic career took off. I worked the line a couple of years, was invited to do a few TV interviews like CNN-FN, Hard Copy, John & Leeza, etc. and one thing led to another. I had no idea what I was doing other than I created a business for myself using faith…with one foot in front of the other. Word got out on and off the radio, my client base grew to include celebrities and now, sixteen years later, I have read, healed and/or channeled for close to 18,000 – 20,000 people.

At the beginning of this interview you asked how I had met actress Katherin Kovin Pacino. Well, Betty, Kat and I met via my radio show. She was a listener, then a client. I read her a few times; she had already lost her husband Sal Pacino and I remember she had just met her current husband, Bill Lashbrook…or had just married him. We eventually became friends. She is a very down to earth, lovely person who I trust completely. That is difficult in the “Hollywood” scene. She is one of my friends who does not abuse my gifts and we understand each other. I do offer to assist her, to guide her. One of the sad things about my career is that there are people who want me only for my gift, but Bill and Kat see me as the person I am, as I see them for who they are, not what they do.

Linda Salvin with Katherin Kovin Pacino & David Oman

Betty Dravis: Twenty thousand people! Oh, my, that’s impressive to think you’ve touched so many lives… Thanks for sharing how you met the gracious, charming Kat. I met her on Facebook and I’m grateful she led me to you. I agree, she’s a lovely woman…inside and out. I was fortunate to meet her and Bill during the course of an interview for Dream Reachers, Vol. 2. My son Robert, his girlfriend Patty Carrillo and her mother Roma Vargas accompanied us to a fine Mexican restaurant in San Rafael. We had a wonderful time and it delights me that you both will be featured in our new book.

Dr. Linda Salvin: I heard about that from Kat, Betty, but I’d better get back to the question of how I got started in radio…before you get impatient with me. (laughs) I know you have a deadline: In 1994, after experiencing all I had in the ‘80s during that lost decade of mine–when all my friends were becoming yuppies and I was becoming psychic and spiritual with three near-death experiences–I had toyed with my music career again, but it never went anywhere. (Some news on that front is happening now, but I’ll share that below.)

When I was accepted into the radio gig, I saw immediate financial results and opted to concentrate on radio and psychic work to help people (instead of my music).  I gave up music for radio.

But my big news for today is that in February (2010), I just signed a new contract where I am being branded by a company for the new Dr. Linda Salvin Psychic & Astrology Network which is going to be a terrific new psychic and astrology line with great readers. I will be heard on national radio doing daily commercials for astrology and returning to terrestrial radio (AM/FM) with my two-hour broadcast, in addition to what I do currently online at http://www.lindasalvin.com We will be on hundreds of radio and TV stations advertising the line. The line will also upsell Wicks of Wisdom and the company will be airing my Infomercial. Therefore, everything I have done on my own until now (these past sixteen years) is being integrated and elevated to a new and grander level. Hopefully, we will go global.

Betty Dravis: OMG, Linda, your life story is mesmerizing. That white light experience would send the average person around the bend, but by that time you were deep into understanding your gifts, so were able to infiltrate them into your growing awareness of yourself and what you hope to achieve with your life. More power to you! And going national! All I can say is that you served a severe apprenticeship and are ready for it… Now, we have reached the point where you must share your other good news with us—your music news! I bet you are happy to finally be able to use your lifelong love of music as well as your psychic gifts. The future must look very rosy at the moment.

Linda Salvin on the Red Carpet.Donald Carraway Photography.2009

Dr. Linda Salvin: Gee, Betty, I thought music would simply be a form of pleasure and relaxation for me in my downtime at home. But as God and the universe would see it, after you asked me to write this, my dear friend George Brown (of Kool & the Gang) has offered to produce my music. We are meeting to discuss my songs which are quite spiritual and folksy. I began playing guitar at age nine and have never been able to evolve my style. I always sound like me, a folk singer, no matter what style I try to cover. I am most comfortable as a folkie, but was embarrassed by my style for many years. But now in the digital age, with online opportunities, it seems all genres are acceptable and music, which is the language of soul, is as unique as each of us. I have recorded demos of songs I’ve written and play rhythm acoustic guitar and am happy to finally be returning to the studio.

The future does, indeed, look rosy…very rosy! I am excited about the national syndication and the possibility of having my songs produced. I can’t wait to see what develops.

Betty Dravis: That’s encouraging, Linda. Music is a big part of who you are, also, and this opportunity will give you a healthy balance between the serious Linda and the fun-loving Linda. Go for it! But now, since we all love chocolate, I want to hear about this “heavenly healing, body-fortifying” chocolate you have on your website. I want some…and I want it now! (laughs)

Dr. Linda Salvin: Oh, I couldn’t forget that, Betty! (laughs) Well, as I began working for myself, incorporating the spiritual trek I had been on–the numerous accidents, setbacks, career choices, the search for God and healing and what to do with myself–I reflected upon my education and realized what we need out there. As an undergrad in health education, I remember one professor pounding the definition of health into our heads: “Health is the state of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being and not merely the absence of disease.” Ok… Well, after the accidents, I found that physical therapy, acupuncture, massage, psychotherapy, and other treatments I sought to calm my fears and suffering were not as helpful as seeking spiritual guidance with God and energy. So it dawned on me to incorporate my experiences and help others understand spirituality, spiritual health and integrate with my new gifts of sight and healing. So, I’m a spiritual psychic, metaphysical healer and medium.

Now here’s where the chocolate comes in: I find products that work to help others, much like the healthy chocolate on my website. I have a very severe sugar sensitivity which I have battled most of my life but only in recent years have begun to understand and cope with. The smallest drop of sugar offsets my insulin levels so severely that my moods change drastically. I can become depressed, angry or weepy for a few days. Not a pretty sight… Remove the sugar and I’m fine. The same occurs with white flour products. Most of us do not understand that we really are what we eat.

Linda Salvin at post-Oscar Party.photo by Sue Michelson, Soul Gallery Productions.2010

While in New York in February, 2009, some friends introduced me to the product. I was nervous about trying it as I had not had sugar for nearly eighteen months. This was different, made for diabetics–which I am not. I am the opposite; my pancreas overproduces sugar. I guess I’m just so-ooo sweet! (laughs) Anyway, the product is full of antioxidants which destroy the free radicals in our body–which of course can cause our disease–so I decided to see what would happen. I had spoken to others and read miraculous health benefits from cardiovascular to diabetic.

The product is Xocai. The link is on my website. If any of your readers are interested, I would suggest they watch the video then contact me directly before purchasing so I can fully explain the product, health benefit and marketing abilities to make an income, too. If it works for me, it will work for you. Here is the link to the site. The video is amazing. Again, please contact me directly before ordering: http://mxi.myvoffice.com/lindacsalvin/index.cfm

In nine months on the chocolate, my cholesterol dropped forty-seven points; I visited the chiropractor twice in a year and not weekly as a result of the decrease in pain, an increase in flexibility and movement with synovial fluid; my arthritic pain and inflammation disappeared and I now have full range of motion in my neck where before I had about sixty percent from all the trauma in my past. The product works! The company says three or more a day is equivalent to eating a pound of broccoli. Which way would you prefer to ingest your antioxidants?

Betty Dravis: You don’t have to be psychic to know the answer to that, Linda, so bring on the chocolate. I have nothing against broccoli, but much prefer the yummy taste of chocolate. (laughs) But now tell us, was your family behind you in your new calling? I know that most people don’t deal well with change, so are there any humorous incidents from the time you switched careers that you’d like to share with us?

Dr. Linda Salvin: It pains me to say, Betty, but NO, my family has been very unsupportive about my chosen field as it is not something they understand, approve or respect. They were happy when I had my scientific title, and would have been more supportive if I had remained in the public health field. It has further isolated me from them with the additional challenges I have faced in building my business. No one could understand why I would be a psychic, let alone believe I am a psychic. I suffered quite a bit of ridicule from my family and even some friends, but when the infomercial ran and my parents’ friends commented about seeing me on air, I got a little respect.

Unfortunately, there are the gypsies and fortune tellers who give us bad names and there are skeptics for whom I love to prove my psychic abilities.

No one could understand! I couldn’t understand! All I knew was that I had developed a gift and after running from it for eleven years, I had to embrace it. I began my psychic career at age thirty-eight, radio at forty, received my PhD and launched the infomercial at fifty-four and here at fifty-six, I have an entirely new opportunity again.

Many people misunderstand the work, so there is no humor involved until I begin to ramble-off all the things that had happened to me. Before I reach the end, people do tend to grin a little…at the preposterousness of it all. And believe it or not, there are some things I haven’t even mentioned. For one, I failed to mention that the City of Los Angeles denied the fire-truck accident… well, enough is enough, I’m sure… (laughs)

OK, how many lives have I had? I’m still here and wondering what all of this means and why me? I have scars inside and out, but I am how I am. If I can’t find the humor past my own pain, how can I help others? I read, heal and channel with laughter even though many people do not understand my personality.

Laughter is natural medicine for the soul. I cry, I laugh. I heal, I love. I teach, help, heal.

Missy Wilson, Radio Consultant, Dr. Linda Salvin, Heidi Hamilton, Talk Show Host.Photo by Sue Michelson, Soul Gallery Productions.2010

Betty Dravis: Linda, I must say I don’t know anyone else who has had that many bad things happen to them, but even I can see the humor in the way you describe them… all lumped together that way. Sort of a Divine Comedy up close and personal…or is it just the Inferno part of that classic? (laughs) But I admire your positive attitude and I, too, believe laughter is a natural medicine. Is that an additional reason for how you survived it all?

Dr. Linda Salvin: Well, most of the time it did feel like an inferno, Betty. (laughs) And I do believe that laughter, perseverance and God helped me survive…and it does to this day! I have fallen down, scraped my knees, cried my eyes out and yet, look outside on a beautiful day to see the trees, dogs, cats, flowers, birds and know that in the end, there is a reason for all of this and I do not give up. Now, as I mentioned, I have a company behind me when a year ago I thought it was dead for good. It was simply a trying transition.

The infomercial call center was not converting our sales, the radio station I had been on for three years went off the air and my mother passed away unexpectedly. All the plates I had been twirling–from radio, infomercial production, PhD, private clients, and whatever else I was doing–crashed….hit bottom. We can only do so much.

The universe will only give us as much as we can handle and allow us to see, heal and then start up again if you do not give up. Meeting the face of adversity is scary, painful and discouraging. I am not married (YET!) and have no one to fall back on except myself. And when I fail, I have nowhere to go but to God. Of course, I have friends, mentors, associates, family, etc. but when confronting some of the deepest and most spiritual transitions and experiences of my psychic gifts, accidents, surgeries and ascensions, I really had nowhere to turn, Betty. I just learned to go day-by-day and trust, believe and develop faith at such a level that people, places and things were put in my life for a reason. Most of the time I was right…

Sometimes we are forced to reinvent, redesign, rediscover and recreate ourselves. Not everyone is handed life on a silver platter with opportunities without hard work. Some people seem to have an easier time than others, true. I feel a lot is timing, chance and preparedness as well as the ability to create what you want and be willing to seek the opportunities as they present themselves. I know I have by-passed opportunities I regret in hindsight and I wonder what I will tackle next for the future. Each decision leads to another on the journey.

Betty Dravis: I have not had an easy journey, either, Linda, and I admire your ways of coping. I, too, trust in my faith in God and his son Jesus to see me through. But now I’m curious about something else: Most people in your line of work notice—or someone in their family notices—that the person has some psychic ability at an early age. Did you have any special abilities or did it all evolve after your accidents? And have your skills heightened as you inter-relate with more clients with special needs

Linda with Legendary Rocker Edgar Winter, Monique Winter & Other Friends

Dr. Linda Salvin: As a child, I remember certain déjà vu experiences and a few past life experiences. I did not understand them at the time, but once I opened up, I began to remember. I recall something that occurred when I was about four years old: My father was showing me the sky in our backyard and I remember thinking to myself, Here I am again… meaning, I recognized that I had been here before. I know I am not of the earth plane. I did not understand it at the time.

I thought I had a pretty average childhood except I saw two planes collide in midair at age four. I began working for my parents at age ten, was a girl scout and sold cookies too. (laughs) Even then I knew that I was sensitive and intuitive, but I would not say I was psychic until after the plane crash awakened it and brought it all to light, so to speak. When I slid down the ramp from the plane, I noticed I was standing five feet, eight inches on the right side of my body and about fifty feet outside of my body on the left. That feeling (of being split in half) lasted about three or four months. I later learned I became what is known as a “walk-in,” where someone is close to death and a new soul enters. Ruth Montgomery wrote a book called Strangers Among Us around 1979. She describes the theory of walk-ins and referred me to the book. I had no idea what it meant until a psychic explained the concept to me a month after the plane crash when she herself said, “You’re a walk-in” and I asked what that meant.

Working with clients over time certainly helped me to hone in on skills, accuracy levels and my ability to immediately diagnose a situation with a client. I work quickly when I hear a person’s problem.

As for clients with special needs, I have healed people from schizophrenia to heart pain and hives… I have lists of what I have done for people that traditional doctors or therapists have not been able to do. It is part of my spiritual gift. I just need to get it out to the universe on a grander level to reach more people. Your interview will also help me do that, Betty. Thanks again for this opportunity. Unfortunately, I cannot perform any techniques on myself, just as a psychic cannot read themselves! (laughs)

Betty Dravis: Your website lists many things that you do for your clients–readings, channelings, healings—and it also tells of your Wicks of Wisdom Candles and special healing chocolate. I admit that the idea of channeling and reincarnation is not in my belief system, but at the same time I believe you are the genuine thing…that you do have the gifts.

Thanks for explaining all that to us; people can visit your website to find out more and to read testimonials of how you helped so many others. But now will you please touch on a few downsides of your gifts?

Dr. Linda Salvin: One of the downsides, Betty, is that I am so sensitive that being in a mall can drive me nuts due to the various lights, sounds, voices. I tune in quickly in restaurants, can often read people at a distant table and feel their discomfort, lies and joys. I have learned over the years to turn it down and monitor my wave-lengths, so to speak.

Another upsetting factor is that many people abuse the fact I am psychic; they phone me as my friend when, in reality, they want help and are far from my “friend.” When I shut down or put my boundaries up and state they need to pay, their attitude changes; they feel I owe it to them. I make a living professionally at this work, which is draining, tiring and often disturbing. But, people feel they deserve answers whenever they want, forgetting I am human, have a life, outside interests and try to work a schedule. The abuse that takes place is unbelievable and I really tire of it. My true friends do not cross that line. They pay me if they need me. Otherwise, we are friends and can enjoy life, love and fun outings together…without my reading for them. The biggest downside can be loneliness and being misunderstood.

Betty Dravis: You must have anticipated this question because you touched on it briefly above: I read somewhere that a lot of what a psychic does is a drain on his or her own system. Since you have experienced it, how do you prepare for a client session or for a radio show? And how do you unwind afterwards…with a glass of wine, as many people do when returning home from a hard day’s work? (laughs)

Linda Salvin Hamming it Up at Universal Studio with Friend Tracy Snow

Dr. Linda Salvin: Psychic, healing and channeling work is extremely draining. Many people do not understand the type of energy it takes to truly read. I pull energy from people. I am clairsentient, so I pick up emotions and practically get inside the other person or become them. I often hear people say, “He said that…” or “That’s what I told my boyfriend…” or “How did you know I felt that…” and I simply say, “I’m psychic.” Some people are more difficult to read than others as they are not as spiritual or psychically aware. Others test or play “stump the psychic” to see how I do and then I have to work twice as hard.

Many times I became angry as I pull their anger and give it back to them. My spirit mirrors them and the answers are revealed. In healing I absorb their negative and have to release it properly so I do not get ill. Channeling is a very different process. There are times I have been nauseous all night and when a client called for her appointment I explained I may not be able to read due to feeling so ill. Her response was, “Oh, you have Sally, she died of stomach cancer.”

On another occasion, I did not sleep for two nights prior to a session; turned out the channeling was for a woman’s deceased husband who died of sleep apnea. Another time I had an excruciating headache, only to find the client’s friend passed of a brain tumor.

Channeling is draining, the energy comes in on the right side of my brain; I bring in one voice or spirit only; I am not good with party lines, as I call them, with more than one spirit. I translate what I hear and convey the messages. People are stunned at messages that come in about their childhood, clothing, food, events, cars, places they went, etc. Those are confirmations that their loved ones are around. There is a fine line between the physical and spiritual world. I communicate to give comfort and closure with love.

Despite the drain on my emotions, the letters of gratitude, emails, and testimonials on the radio over the years have made the work more than worthwhile. To know I have somehow touched the lives of others during grieving periods, painful periods, healed where doctors failed and eliminated frustrations…or a prediction about a sale of a home, getting a new job, meeting a new mate came true is gratifying. The excitement in a person’s voice is overwhelming and pleasant.

As to how I prepare… Well, Betty, I prepare with a bit of meditation and protective shielding and sometimes with prayer to protect against negativity. I know I have protection, but when some negative spirit enters me it will throw me off balance even for a few days before I realize I am not myself; that an entity is attached to me or is in me. Many times, standing under a hot shower for awhile is the most healing and cleansing I can do for myself. There are essential oils and salts I bathe with at times to prevent the spirits from harming me, as well. This work can be damaging, which I do not even understand.

I do not drink alcohol. Lots of water, tea, and coffee are my liquids of choice. I try to drink a lot of water more than anything and flush my system of toxicity. I relax by looking at the sky at sundown as the colors of the day change. God paints a different sky each night, you know? The night sky is fascinating to me. I love the constellations, the Milky Way, watching the moon rise and shift in the sky. I observe certain planets and stars. Sometimes I look up and wonder why I’m here and whisper, “I want to go home,” but I know I’m not done yet. I usually go out to dinner with friends in the evening, catch a movie or listen to live music. That is how I relax.

Betty, I could write a book on the channelings I have conducted and that would take up too much space for your interview, LOL. If I had not experienced psychic abilities, metaphysical healings or channeling the spirits with such great effectiveness, I would be skeptical. I have lived it, so I know it is real. I do not know why me or how I was chosen, but I was. It is not what I thought of as a good time when I was growing up. I did not seek this, it came to me as a result of surrendering my path to God’s will and allowing the universe to use me as I was to become…a vessel of information to help others on a spiritual level.

Betty Dravis: I am amazed at how much you love people, Linda. To be willing to open yourself like that is extremely loving and caring. You are a very strong person and I admire you so much. In fact, your life story is mesmerizing. I especially enjoyed hearing a few of your success stories and if our readers want to know more, they are welcome to visit your website.

Now for a lighter question: Since you reside and work in the LA area, do you have any famous clients besides actress Katherin Kovin Pacino (who is also the stepmother of the living legend, actor Al Pacino)?

Linda with Dear Friend, Popular Soap Star Elaine Princi.1999

Dr. Linda Salvin: Some of the famous people I have worked with include movie producer Christine Peters; actresses such as soap stars Elaine Princi and Jasmine Blythe; singers Dionne Warwick, George Brown (Kool & the Gang), Chuck Negron (Three Dog Night), Vince Neil (Motley Crue) and Chris Poulson (Superficial Saints); actors Courtney Cox, Shadow Stevens, Rick Dees, Caroline Rhea, Cheech Marin (first known for Cheech & Chong, but who became a respected performer in his own right); Reality TV star Chad Rogers; author & infomercial king Kevin Trudeau; and an ESPN reporter when I predicted a world series in 2000…and many, many others. The list is on my website.

Betty Dravis: Wow—that’s an impressive list, Linda. Now I’m curious to know if you’ve ever met a real, live ghost…er, make that a real, dead ghost? (laughs) Or been in a haunted house?

Dr. Linda Salvin: Betty, paranormal is not my thing. I prefer light to dark. It is fascinating to record sounds, voices and observe sightings, but it is not my specialty. But since you asked, yes, I have seen ghosts and I’ll relate a few experiences for you: I had been on TV for a local show in Los Angeles called “9 on the Town” which is not on anymore. I was asked to visit the Queen Mary in Long Beach to identify all the haunted areas on the ship. In the show, you see me on tour with a staff member of the ship and I accurately identify the spirits, ghosts and locations of deaths on the docked Queen Mary.

Another incident: In 1992, a rock star passed away. He attended my high school, although I had never met him. He began channeling through me three days after his death. I have had messages from him for several years and effectively bring him through on the Ouija board. Yes, Betty, there are ways to effectively communicate with spirits safely with the Ouija board…and it can also be very dangerous. Anyway, on two occasions, he made himself present in my homes. The first time I saw him, he was standing in the doorway of my bedroom and hallway of an apartment in 1993. I was not scared; I was comforted, actually. The second apparition occurred when I rented a small home in the canyons. I had a fire going in the fireplace and he was sitting on the ledge of the fireplace. I just stared at him and he stared right back.

I’ve also seen shadows of my deceased animals walk by. I have not seen my mom who passed last March, 2009, but my father saw her in his new condo recently… Spirits and ghosts are real.

I felt spirits in a haunted hotel once and in a cemetery, I literally could hear voices of the deceased speaking to me in a certain row, yelling, screaming and requesting that I take them with me, get them out of there, release them from the grave, etc. I thought I was nuts but then I remembered what I do, who I am, why I was there, and I’d be ok. Two rows over, it was quiet. Go figure… Yes, spirits are alive in the graveyard too.

Betty Dravis: I might be a big sissy, Linda, but that gives me the creeps, but then I love horror movies, so go figure that oxymoron.

Now what do you think of Sylvia Brown, the psychic that TV personality Montel Williams presents on his show so frequently? And John Edward (McGee), famous for his TV show Crossing Over… Do you believe his claims of communicating with the spirits of the audience members’ deceased relatives?

Dr. Linda Salvin: In 1994, prior to the earthquake, I was given Sylvia Brown’s book My Guide, My Self. It is the only one of her books I have ever read. She has “ghost’ writers,” of course, speaking of ghosts. (laughs) Her book was fascinating and I related to it. I will not condone or condemn her work. I known that no psychic is one-hundred percent accurate and I do not believe any psychic should charge $750.00 for thirty minutes. There was a time when I received many of her clients, as well as James von Praagh’s… As for John, I really do not know his work. I know people who have been to his seminars and simply adore him. I am sure he is extremely talented as a medium.

Betty Dravis: On the lighter side–and I do have a lighter side, Linda (laughs)—what is the best advice you ever received from your mother? Your father?

Linda's Parents Honored at Anti-Defamation League Dinner.1996

Dr. Linda Salvin: My mom used to say, “Always finish what you start.” God knows, there are projects left undone, paths yet to be traveled. She would warn me not to get involved with certain guys, so of course I did. And, I paid the price later.

My dad would say, “Don’t worry what others think, worry about yourself,” but I was too insecure to understand for a long time. He would always want me to “give it the ol’ college try” when I was down. When I complained that the good guys are either married or gay, he’d say two things: “They broke the mold when I was born,” and “Linda, there’s an ass for every chair that’s built.” My parents’ advice served me well, but the one thing my dad said that is most helpful in my business is: “Get it in writing.”

That’s my dad! Just so you know, my parents built a company when I was young that was number fifty-eight on the NASDAQ. It went international and they travelled more than any rock band ever did. They were married fifty-eight and a-fourth years when my mother died. It was a soul-mate love affair. They were very happy and great parents. I still have my dad, thankfully.

Betty Dravis: I’m sorry to learn of your mother passing; belated condolences. But I’m glad you still have your father and it’s wonderful to hear of successful marriages. I never tire of soul-mate stories. You were blessed to have such warm, loving parents. Even though they didn’t understand your gifts, at least they raised you properly and gave you a great start in life; truths to fall back on.

But you can breathe a sigh of relief soon, Linda… I’m nearing the end of your grilling, but first I want to put you on the spot. Since you do telephone readings and answer on-air questions from your many followers–even on an international level–have you been able to “read” me through our Facebook and email correspondence. Please share what you have “picked up” about me…but be gentle. (laughs) I don’t want to be a fair-weather friend, always seeking free answers and taking advantage of you, so I promise this will be a one-time thing…for the sake of the story.

Dr. Linda Salvin: OK, here goes, Betty… I feel you are jovial, fun, light-hearted and have a zest for life. You take each day as it comes, but with the strife we all do. You were brave in your day and are even braver and more carefree today. You are in excellent health, love your family, are down to earth and have three to five more publications still unwritten and yet to be published. Another contract is offered this summer/early fall for you. You also have a trip coming up this summer. October appears to be significant with publishing and family, so we will see what that brings. People love you and you love people, but you are selective as to who really gets to know you. You do have your boundaries… The person who crosses you will be sorry. You have a legend to leave the planet down the road. Country and nature are very important to you.

How’s that for starters?

Betty Dravis: That’s a fine start, Linda, and it intrigues me. It’s odd to hear anyone tell me about my future. Since it is all positive, of course I love it, especially the part about my publishing and a new contract offer. There is, actually, something in the works; I’ll let you know how and when it works out. And you are spot on: I do love people and am selective about who really gets to know me. I certainly hope no one crosses me because I truly don’t want to make anyone sorry. (laughs)

But speaking of love, your love of people comes across in your on-air delivery and on your various internet sites. It has been said of you: “Her love of people is a beacon in the darkness.” That description reminds me of a lighthouse, a fitting metaphor for you, IMO. You are warm, cozy and light the path…

I haven’t seen you on TV, but your dear friend and client, actress Katherin Kovin Pacino, tells me that you positively shine on camera—and I believe it! Even your internet personality is endearing. You glow…

Before ending this interview, is there anything else in your immediate future… in addition to the fantastic news about your show being syndicated and going national and that your music may soon be produced?

Linda Salvin looking glam

Dr. Linda Salvin: I’m most excited about the new Dr. Linda Salvin Psychic & Astrology Network, of course. We discussed that above, but going national is a dream come true! As for other projects, in addition to the TV shows I mentioned above, I have a resume of shows on my website, but another exciting thing is that I recently did a pilot for a new psychic show. If it is picked up, I will be featured in thirteen episodes. I also have a few treatments and a script for a sitcom, talk show and movie, but so far have had no luck in selling them; all are based on my experiences as a psychic. And I’m also working on my autobiography.

Also, I would like to mention that I’m published in a book called Chopped Liver for the Family Spirit that consists of stories of overcoming adversity with people like Peter Marshall, Shelley Berman and the late Lloyd Thaxson.

Betty Dravis: That is certainly a full plate, Linda. I wish you the best of luck with all your projects. Now, if you will, please share three things that you couldn’t live without.

Dr. Linda Salvin: Betty, I have to mention four things I couldn’t live without: First are my father and friends. And it’s obvious that I couldn’t live without being able to help people, so my abilities are extremely important to me. I also love to travel and have been through most of the US, Europe, Japan, Thailand, parts of Mexico and Canada. And last but not least, I need my music in my life. I am beginning to return to music again. I’m playing guitar and re-writing songs. I have met new collaborators. Where I had once given up, doors seem to be opening.

Betty Dravis: I’m so happy for you, Linda. You are already a star in the LA area, but with your show going national, I hope you will soon be a household name…recognized by everyone. I wish you much success with your new show. That’s awesome! I think we’ve established that you, Dr. Linda Salvin, are a dynamo…a regular whirlwind of energy who finds great satisfaction in helping others reach their goals and dreams…to live happier, healthier, more productive lives. And that’s why we selected you to be in our Dream Reachers book: because you are a phenomenal Dream Reacher!

Before departing, Linda, please share with us how interested parties can reach you. A list of your internet links, radio call letters, phone numbers, etc. will be very helpful. Of course, you don’t have to repeat the ones mentioned above.

Dr. Linda Salvin: People interested in a private, paid consultation for a reading, healing, channeling session or to purchase Wicks of Wisdom can call my office at 818-788-6077 direct or leave a message at 888-509-1077. The website is www.lindasalvin.com which also has my internet radio station. I play several pre-recorded radio shows 24/7 as well as do a live show on Saturdays at eleven am PDT, which you have called in and spoken with me. I will be returning to KABC and that show will be syndicated. There will be astrology spots on sixty-five stations nationally soon. People will soon hear about the Dr Linda Salvin Psychic & Astrology Network where they can call fabulous readers for spiritual and psychic advice.

Betty Dravis: Thanks so much for sharing your goals and dreams with us today, Linda. I truly enjoyed visiting with you. Keep us posted on your future achievements and I’ll let you know when your predictions for me come true.

Dr. Linda Salvin: I would love to continue keeping you posted with future events, phone numbers and releases as I evolve into the next phase of my life. The activities are multi-faceted because I love so many things. Ultimately, though, I hope to find the love of my life and partner with my twin. I feel I recently met him. Let’s see if I’m right…if things turn out the way I hope…

Before I leave, Betty, I forgot to add something about how my faith and trust in the universe helped me overcome all the adversity and somehow it is leading me back to some of my original goals and passions, as well. Therefore, God has a plan and we never know what it is. Everything happens for a reason! There are no accidents. We just have to become willing to surrender and follow His will, which may not be ours.

OK, that’s it! I promise…no more! (laughs) Thanks to you, your co-author Chase Von and the other Dames of Dialogue for letting me express myself so openly. Keep up the great Press and please keep in touch.

by Betty Dravis

Many people ask me how I celebrate when completing a manuscript or when a book goes to print! For me, that’s really two questions in one because I celebrate differently for each occasion.

It amused me that the author (played by James Caan) in Stephen King’s Misery had a ritual he followed: He celebrated alone in his room (whether in a hotel room or at home) by treating himself to a cigarette and a glass of fine wine. That scene triggered my curiosity, but it wasn’t until people persisted in asking me that question that I decided to write a blog about it.  So I put the question to some popular authors and I think their answers will interest you.  I’ll share their celebratory ways before divulging my own. (Age usually comes before beauty, the old saying goes, but in this case, I’ll reverse the process.)

Here is what they had to say:

Author Frank Nappi: “Nothing too exciting. When the book is released, I usually go out to a nice dinner with my family, have some wine and good food, dessert of course, and we talk and dream about the weeks ahead!”

Nappi is a Long Island school teacher who wrote three outstanding novels: Echoes from the Infantry (which won a Silver Medal from Military Writers Society of America); The Legend of Mickey Tussler, which is hitting the big screen soon; and Nobody Needs to Know, due out by Hannover House in July, 2010, and is going into movie production shortly after). Congratulations, Frank! To learn more about Frank and his books, go to: http://www.franknappi.com/


K. Michael Crawford: “Once upon a time…there was a magical place with lots of magical characters and some strange folks, but not to worry, I just finished my latest book… First, there will be dancing around the drawing table and a big WAAHOO! heard from coast to coast. Maybe some chomping on some M&Ms and then a little more dancing. Then I realize in my silliness I have a new idea for another book. Well, hi-ho, back to work I go, dreaming up a whole new magical place to put between the pages of a book. So the story goes…and all the magical creatures and strange folks lived happily ever after, once their creator got back to work.”

K. Michael Crawford is a famous, award-winning illustrator who wrote and illustrated children’s books before receiving a huge career boost by illustrating the classic, Chicken Little, for Ideal Books. After that, she became hot and has been illustrating “happily ever after,” winning many prestigious awards, including Parents Choice. She has illustrated for Special Olympics, Disney, Scholastic and Hanna Barbera. Her works have also been exhibited throughout the United States. For more about Crawford, go to: www.happilyeverart.com/

Author Cheryl Kaye Tardif: “When I finally finish one of my novels, I do three things that probably aren’t that exciting to most. I take my family out for dinner, pop open a bottle of wine or champagne, then I sleep in the next morning and watch movies that day. I give myself one day to let my accomplishment sink in and to celebrate it. After that, I get it ready for my agent. Then I get back to work writing and promoting! 🙂

Tardif is a best-selling Canadian author who “specializes in mile-a-minute, pot-boiler mysteries,” according to the Edmonton Sun newspaper. She has written Whale Song which is in negotiations for the big screen; The River; Divine Intervention; and is currently working on Children of the Fog. She is also a book marketing coach. For more about this author, visit her website: http://www.cherylktardif.com.

Author/Rev. James Somers: “I get to work on the next one…well, a brief sigh in between. :)”

Rev. James Somers is the author of a Christian thriller, Perdition’s Gate; an exciting fantasy, The Chronicles of Soone; several other books; and Kindle e-books. He is pastor of a church in Harriman, Tennessee and a medical technician. For more about him, visit these websites: www.jamessomers.blogspot.com
www.bible-smart.blogspot.com


Author Bazhe: “I celebrate, when selling my books Damages and Identities, by treating myself with fine Swiss chocolates given to me by many of my admirers and treating my cat to his favorite food and a new toy… I celebrate when I finish writing my new book, or when pre-sale, by visiting an exotic country or place in the world and by taking my cat to a special animal spa that he loves.  And I am not kidding what I confessed to you. You can see it on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/user/BAZHE.”

B.K. Bazhe, who writes under his surname, is the internationally recognized author of two books: Damages, a memoir about one man’s fight to overcome the psychological wounds created by his peculiar upbringing as he struggled to find his true identity and freedom, and Identities, a book of poetry.  Congratulations are due this author because Damages has been optioned for film. Bazhe has won writing awards from various sources, including Writers’ Digest, and is an artist who has exhibited in many states in the U.S. For more about him, check his website:

http://www.BAZHE.com

Author Maggie Bishop: “Drink champagne and plan a Caribbean cruise… I’ve written five books and have been on seventeen cruises.  My first cruise was in 2000 and I worked as a Census Taker to pay for that one. I told my husband I’d rather go cheap and often, so we watch for bargains, have inside cabins and drive to ports in Florida to save money.  Some cruises, we don’t even get off the ship in port since we’ve visited the same places so often.  Our favorite stop is usually the private island where we snorkel.”

Bishop writes exciting Appalachian adventures set in her beloved state of North Carolina. Her latest novel is Perfect for Framing, but she has written five others. Maggie loves nature, active sports and was selected as one of East Carolina University’s 100 Incredible Women.  To learn more about this author and her other works, please visit her websites: http://maggiebishop1.tripod.com

https://damesofdialogue.wordpress.com/maggie-bishop/

Author Laurel Rain Snow: “Hmm, it probably would involve celebrating with friends over drinks.”

Even though Laurel’s answer to the question is short, she writes long, beautifully descriptive books about average people to whom the reader instantly relates. This author is a retired social worker who grew up during the “hippy” days. She writes books about—you guessed it!—women of that generation and various social worker case histories; strong women who despite frightening twists and turns in their lives, go on to build good lives for themselves. Laurel is also a prolific blogger and keeps up with seventeen blogs… Ouch! She has written five intriguing books, including Web of Tyranny and Miles to Go. Laurel is also a popular Amazon reviewer. For more about this author, visit her websites:

http://laurelrainsnowcreations.com

https://damesofdialogue.wordpress.com/laurel-rain-snow/

Author Chrissy K. McVay: “I usually celebrate by going for a one mile hike. It clears the head and I feel refreshed… Of course, I also do that if I’m stuck on something I’m writing.”

McVay lives with her family in the mountains of western North Carolina. Souls of the North Wind is her first novel and may soon become a movie. It’s an exciting adventure story set in the frozen northland and centers around two brave, determined young Inuit boys and their courageous dogs. It’s listed on Amazon.com as juvenile fiction, but Souls is also popular with adults interested in ancient Native American legends and lore. This author also has three powerful short stories on Amazon Shorts and other stories have appeared in many publications. Chrissy has no website, but check her Amazon author’s page at this link: http://www.amazon.com/Chrissy-K.-McVay/e/B002BLUB64/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Author Christy Tillery French: “Gosh, Betty, I’ve gone through it eight times now, so I don’t do much of anything other than whoop and holler and say yahoooooooooeeeeeeeeeeee! I do go out to dinner with my hubby and kids, if they don’t have anything planned. I do take a short break from writing when I’m finished with a manuscript. (I’m feeling so alone because I don’t have any kind of ritual to celebrate. Hmmmmm…)”

French is an award-winning, internationally published author and poet. As she noted, she has eight books to her credit, including two popular series, Bodyguard and Chasing. Her latest, The Bodyguard and the Bodyguard is due out this year. She is also listed in several Who’s Who publications. She is a former paralegal, later founding a medical transcription service. Devoted to animals, she works for animal rights and donates some book proceeds to those causes. She lives on a mini-ranch in Tennessee. She is also a popular reviewer for Midwest Book Reviews. For more about French, visit her websites:

http://christytilleryfrench.com/

http://www.authorsden.com/christytfrench

https://damesofdialogue.wordpress.com/christy-tillery-french/

Author Caitlyn Hunter: “Let’s see, what do I do when I finish a book?  Nothing really except maybe go outside and do a Snoopy dance with Des and Fletch… Well, more Des than Fletch since Fletch is a lazy hound dog and doesn’t do much of anything except sleep and eat.  Added to that, he’s deaf and can’t hear me sing which is probably a good thing.  I’m convinced Des prances around just because my atrocious singing voice hurts his ears! As for when I receive a new contract, my husband always takes me out to dinner, but other than that, I don’t do much to celebrate.  I’m really quite a boring person, aren’t I?”

Hunter is anything but boring; she has an awesome imagination and a fabulous sense of humor! Her real name is Cynthia Tillery Hodges and she lives in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina with three men and a lady. The men; her husband and her two canine pals, Des and Fletch.  The lady; a cat named Bessie.  When she isn’t writing, she spends her time gardening, reading, and researching the legends of her Cherokee ancestors.  She is a member of North Carolina Writers’ Network and High Country Writers.  Currently, she and her sister, Christy Tillery French, are co-authoring a book about their great-aunt’s life growing up in the small town of Hot Springs, NC. Caitlyn writes romantic mysteries—some sweet, some erotic–but she also writes children’s books (as yet unsubmitted). She has several e-books to her credit and her first print book, Snow Shadows, a sensual paranormal romance. It’s first in the Eternal Shadows series, with the sequel, Storm Shadows, due for release soon. In addition, Winds of Fate, based on the legend of Blowing Rock in North Carolina is also due out soon. To learn more about Caitlyn, visit her websites:

http://www.caitlynhunter.com/

https://damesofdialogue.wordpress.com/caitlyn-hunters-books/

Author Betty Dravis: “My way is not terribly exciting but it’s the same way I celebrate all important events in my life: When I finish the final draft of a manuscript, I push away from the computer, heave a heavy sigh and when I catch my breath, I shout WOO-HOO… Then I phone all my children and my best friend to share my excitement and dreams for that book. After that, I go on the net, post the news on my personal website and the Dames of Dialogue site and broadcast it on Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, GoodReads and any other place I can think of. And finally, I take a nap! But when I make a sale of a book, I celebrate the same, but I also make plans with someone close to go out to a long, leisurely dinner at a fine restaurant (or even McDonald’s…I don’t really care). I’m that excited! When my first book, Millennium Babe: the Prophecy, a fantasy adventure, came out, my daughter Mindy threw a big book-signing for me at the San Jose Labor Temple; for my second, The Toonies Invade Silicon Valley, a YA fantasy adventure, daughter Deb held a launch party in her home; and so it goes… All fun for me… Writing is an awesome experience, but getting published is even better!”

Since I write in multiple genres, horror author Mark LaFlamme wrote this about me: “Betty Dravis is a fantastic mix of Shirley Jackson, Edna Buchanan and Janis Joplin. Don’t ask me how I came up with that unlikely comparison––I just feel it, and I haven’t been drinking much tonight….” LaFlamme is the author of Dirt: An American Campaign and three other gripping horror novels. All I have to say to Mark is: I wish that it were so… lol

I grew up in Ohio but moved to California after graduation and have lived in the active Silicon Valley for over thirty years. I now live in the lovely, more rural Central Valley and am learning my way around the area. I have written three novels (a supernatural fantasy adventure, a YA fantasy adventure, and an epic romantic thriller), but my latest book, Dream Reachers with co-author Chase Von, is nonfiction. Dream Reachers is a magical mix of success stories and interviews with people who have dared to stretch to reach for their dreams–from living legends like Clint Eastwood and Jane Russell to legends-in-the-making­­ like Darcy Donavan and Nhojj. I just received word that Dream Reachers has now gone international, being Top Five in India. I am also a top Amazon reviewer. Prior to writing books, I had a long journalism career and hosted a weekly talk show on Cable TV. For more about me, check these sites:

http://bettydravis.com

https://damesofdialogue.wordpress.com/betty-dravis/

http://www.amazon.com/Betty-Dravis/e/B002BLJJIU/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

http://www.youtube.com/user/bettydravis

http://www.infibeam.com/tag/betty-dravis

Now that I’ve shared more than you ever wanted to know about me, I’d like to add that I find the other authors’ answers fun and interesting and appreciate them sharing with our readers. We are all individuals and just as we write in different genres, so also do we celebrate our victories differently. But I did notice that many of us celebrate with “food, family and friends,” as has been the custom of human beings from time immemorial (even Maggie’s cruises are centered around food and family). Some things never change…

For your information, five of the above authors comprise the Dames of Dialogue (founded by Bishop and French); the others are Caitlyn Hunter, Laurel Rain Snow and me. Also I’d like to add that I am interviewing three of the authors for the next edition of Dream Reachers, due out the end of 2010 or early 2011. I’m grateful to Frank Nappi, K. Michael Crawford and Cheryl Kaye Tardif for granting me interviews. These interviews first run in Dames of Dialogue, so keep on the lookout for them in the near future.

And if you are an author, please comment and tell us how you celebrate your books!    



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