If you buy only one book this year, this is the one!

Alex Banayan and Larry King

Life, business, success . . . it’s just like a nightclub. There are always three ways in.

I cannot begin to explain my excitement in discovering this book.

Meet Alex Banayan with Larry King.

He dropped out of Med School when he was 19. He decided that he was dying in Biology classes following a pre-ordained path set by his Iranian Immigrant parents who expected him to be a doctor. He woke up one morning and knew he didn’t want to be a doctor. The disappointment and consequent heartbreak due to his parent’s sacrifice for his education will sound familiar to many. And he had no idea what he wanted to do with his life, but he was passionate about finding out how the great ones started–not what made them successful, there’s a lot written about that. But how did super successful get that first break? 

My enthusiasm for this book and the interviews I’ve listened to have brought both tears and tons of inspiration, into my life. It doesn’t matter what stage of life you’re in, what age, or what career choice you’ve made, this story is for you. And if you have children or partners struggling with life decisions, buy this book for them too. 

I can’t wait to hear what you think.

There’s the First Door: the main entrance, where 99 percent of people wait in line, hoping to get in. The Second Door: the VIP entrance, where the billionaires and celebrities slip through. But what no one tells you is that there is always, always . . . the Third Door. It’s the entrance where you have to jump out of line, run down the alley, bang on the door a hundred times, crack open the window, sneak through the kitchen–there’s always a way.  

Action/mystery FREE download!

Welcome to my tribe!

I have so many new followers on social networks that I wanted to take this opportunity to welcome you and tell you how grateful I am to have you taking time to drop by.

As you already know, I’m an author. And also a poet, memoirist, freelance writer and photographer. If it’s creative, I’m curious and interested.

A friend asked me what exactly is my blog space about. I responded that it’s whatever I feel I want to share with my readers in the moment. Sometimes that’s my thoughts on life, love, and the pursuit of happiness. It could be motivation, inspiration or a blog that caught my attention.

Also you find books, because as long as I can remember, I’ve been a massive reader. It used to be paperbacks before Kindle. Now it’s iPad and downloads to my Kindle ap. That makes my  library portable, so I can read anywhere, anytime. Books are such an important component of my life. So it was a natural progression from childhood to be a writer. And many of you who follow have similar aspirations so I share my journey with you.

Today I want to say thanks in the best way I know how: For the next 48 hours you can receive Code Raven, the sequel to my Raven Group series FREE. If you are on my news letter list you will also receive early notification of not only my free books, but also those of fellow authors that I know you will enjoy. I routinely send out News Letters with information about freebies, new releases, best sellers, and genre’s that I feel you will like.

So jump right in and download Code Raven.

Here’s a quick look at what readers are saying:

“This is definitely the Prequel to an unforgettable action packed adventure.
Luke Raven was happily married, until the day his wife and young daughter was murdered.
When Luke shows back up, he shakes things up. Starting Code Raven will only be the start. Not only does he have the money he needs to run this company. He has the brain and muscle needed to back him up.
I read it so fast, I’m excited to read the rest of the series. This series will be a real page turner. I love her characters and can’t wait to see where she takes them.
Bring on the adventure Lynda Filler! I await you, along with many others.” Cinful
“This book introduces us to Luke Raven, the head of the Raven Group- a top secret special ops corps. He is a brilliant man; whose accomplishments and talents seem to be limitless, but who has also experience great personal heartache. We really get to know him and the other members of his team. I enjoyed finding out about him and meeting the others- Luci, Alice, Zach, RB, Maggs- and discovering how the Raven Group came to be.
I am looking forward to reading the rest of this series- it looks set to be a thrilling ride.” A. Hayes
CODE RAVEN-2

 

 

And if you’re an avid reader like me, why not join  Amazon Kindle Unlimited Membership Plan? Click on the link and see how it works in your country. For a set amount of money each month, you download your books for free!

I love the idea, and don’t worry, authors still get paid while you read for free! It’s a win-win for all of us!

 

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Enjoy your weekend my friends!

How do you do that thing you do so well?

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It’s a common question asked by those who want to write a novel. I hear this all the time on Quora. Where do you begin? How? Where do you get your ideas? Do you plot? Do you ‘wing-it?’ How do you do that thing you do–so well?

Let’s talk about my latest release, SILK ROAD Code Raven 6. It’s a great example of my personal writing process and may help you to get started on yours!

It starts with a word. I asked a friend, fellow author, to give me a country. In this case, it was Kyrgyzstan–a country that had no meaning to me. If you’re familiar with the Code Raven Series, you would know that not only do I love my characters and develop them further with each story, but I also love to take them to different countries around the globe to get into–and out of–trouble!

In my research about Kyrgyzstan, I came across the history of how this country was once a part of the Soviet Union. I already had a rough idea of the Russia/Asia part of the world but didn’t know much about the terrain. If you are anything like me, once you go on the world-wide-web, one search turns into another, and another, and before you know it, you’re off on a tangent for no particular reason. In my case, my interest was piqued by the crime lords who moved in to fill the void of a legitimate government. Corruption of all types runs rampant in this predominately Muslim country.

At this point, I became intrigued by the historical implications of this centuries-old area and the original Silk Road–the trading route moving through Asia from the East to the West.

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Without giving away the plot, let’s just say that I became intrigued by the human condition and in particular how turmoil and greed affect women and children around the globe.

HERE’S MY PROCESS:

  1. Out comes the excel spreadsheet. 
  2. Usually, I reprint the Characters names across the top of the sheet so I don’t mix up attributes, history, or activities, timelines, etc. This is important when writing a series. You would work the same way as you introduce new characters in your novel even if it’s a stand-alone book. I also used this process on my memoir LOVE The Beat Goes On
  3. Chapters numbers down the left side column.
  4. Next column a key phrase to summarize what will happen in that chapter.
  5. The next column will give more detail, possibly a paragraph of key events.
  6. In the planning stages, I might color code the chapters. If it’s fiction and action, I might color code an action event RED, something that moves the plot along in YELLOW, and a relatively soft aspect, emotional, resting chapter might be soft green. This way you can make sure you don’t lose your reader by dropping the pace. Inevitably all my reviewers say this series is ‘fast-paced.’ You want that when writing a mystery. Otherwise, your fans will get bored and put your book down! We want them to read it in “one sitting!”
  7. The chapters continue down the page until the end.

Why a spreadsheet?

I use this concept if I’m writing Action/Adventure/Mystery or Contemporary Romance or Non-fiction like my memoir. Why?

  1. It’s easy to cut-and-paste therefore changing the sequence of events, or slotting in a new chapter!
  2. You can see the entire story in one place. 
  3. The spreadsheet allows you to edit the events along the way inserting, expanding where you find your plot to be weak.

My process is always fluid. I never set a rigid plot.

Sometimes I start with one idea and watch the following events move down the page. The thoughts, ideas I have may never make it to the final story. But here’s the key: one idea leads to another, and another, and another. And my story starts to take shape from that original one word. Example:

Silk Road. Trade. Smuggling. The new Rail service from the coast of China all the way to London, England! Think about the potential here. Imagine all the events that could happen along the way! And that’s how the story moved along. And then I found activities in the Maldives that I decided to connect. And one of my main characters, Zach was summoned to Washington DC by the frightening pleas from a SEAL friend he served with in his Afghanistan/Bin Laden days.

Here’s a couple of teasers so you get a feel for the final story:

A former Navy SEAL gets a terrifying message from his estranged daughter. “I’m desperate! I need your help, Dad. Bring your friends!”

“They stole my baby Daddy! They’ve got my boy!” Will a team of ex-SEALs break US law to exact revenge?

A teenager is abducted in Kyrgyzstan. Has she become one of many kidnapped brides? Or is something far more frightening going on? The corrupt authorities ignore the parents’ pleas for help.

A new Silk Road train stretches from the eastern shores of Yiwu China to London, England. Its precious cargo is not what’s written on the manifest.

When two young children are abducted in the middle of the night from Raven’s sanctuary in the Maldives, Luci, Luke, and the Raven Group will stop at nothing to get them back.

Are all these horrific events linked?

If I’ve peaked your interest and you want a great read, written in the style of Lee Childs, David Baldacci, or Clive Cussler, get your copy on Amazon: Silk Road

 

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Lynda Filler Amazon Books 

Lynda Filler on Goodreads

Follow Lynda Filler on Facebook

 

Books! Thoughts, cells and science.

 

If I’m not writing, I’m reading, or watching NETFLIX or videos on Amazon. I love to learn new things about our bodies, how our minds work, culture, and other countries. This year I seem to be fixated on India, the Middle and the Far East and will be traveling there next year.

I might be reading the latest in the top 10 in Mystery, or watch a video recently recommended by a friend from India like this stunning musical message.

This made my heart sing.

 

Or the wise and quite stunning information revealed in the Medical Secrets from Dr. B M Hegde. His theories are not new to me as this is how I healed my physical heart, and wrote to tell the story about it in LOVE, The Beat Goes On.

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And all this beauty and enlightenment takes us places we have never been. Maybe it spurs the desire to travel to far-away places. Or read about the world, and gain a better understanding of the Universe. I wrote down two titles that Dr. Hegde recommended and have started to read the following one.

All of this made me think about the Amazon Kindle Unlimited program! When you think about it, one month’s membership. $9.99, pays for one book! Everything else you read is free! I love it as an author also because I know I have dedicated readers: they win by not paying every time they want to indulge in their passion to read, and I gain a new reader too!

Here’s the book I recently began reading from Dr. Hegde’s suggestions. 

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This 10th-anniversary edition of Bruce Lipton’s best-selling book The Biology of Belief has been updated to bolster the book’s central premise with the latest scientific discoveries—and there have been a lot in the last decade. The Biology of Belief is a groundbreaking work in the field of new biology. Former medical school professor and research scientist Bruce H. Lipton, Ph.D., presents his experiments, and those of other leading-edge scientists, which examine in great detail the mechanisms by which cells receive and process information. The implications of this research radically change our understanding of life, showing that genes and DNA do not control our biology; instead, DNA is controlled by signals from outside the cell, including the energetic messages emanating from our positive and negative thoughts. This profoundly hopeful synthesis of the latest and best research in cell biology and quantum physics has been hailed as a major breakthrough, showing that our bodies can be changed as we retrain our thinking.

And why not read it for free?

Join Kindle Unlimited and you can download any of my titles for free!

 

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Enjoy, and don’t forget to sign on to my News Letter and received notice of New Releases, FREE books, and so much more!

Thanks for following me!

New Pre-order $.99 cents! Crazy, I know!

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A former Navy SEAL gets a terrifying message from his estranged daughter in Washington, DC. “I’m desperate! I need your help, Dad. Bring your friends!”

A teenager is forcefully taken in Kyrgyzstan. Has she become one of many kidnapped brides? Or is something far more frightening going on? The corrupt authorities ignore the parents’ pleas for help.

When two young children are abducted in the middle of the night from Raven’s sanctuary in the Maldives, Luci, Luke, and the Raven Group will stop at nothing to get them back.

Are all these events connected?

BUY THIS NEW RELEASE ON AMAZON

SILK ROAD Kindle/e-book Link 

SILK ROAD Paperback Link

 

ABOUT LYNDA FILLER and the writing of Silk Road. 

Writing a novel is like dating and relationships. You start in wonder and amazement at the magnificent gift (a book idea!) life has given you. The first weeks are exciting (plotting), sometimes frustrating as you try to blend personalities (character development), likes, and dislikes. As you continue, something beautiful (the real story) begins to emerge. Yes, there are surprises (plot twists!!) that drive you crazy or in my case, give me a shiver at the sheer magic of the process! And inevitable little quirks (new, unexpected characters pop up!!)

Life is a journey with many twists and turns. And so is this process that authors go through when we write. I’ve got a vivid imagination and I love to tell stories. I write Mystery, Adventure, Action, Contemporary Fiction and Romance, and I’ve also written a memoir.

Code Raven is my magnificent obsession. The Code Raven Series is based on the lives of a few unforgettable individuals who have served their country with bravery and honor and have lost their lives because of their unwavering beliefs. I chose to honor them by creating acts of incredible selflessness, patriotism, and heart-pounding action in my stories. If YOU are listening from wherever Warriors end up in the after-life, I hope you are enjoying the antics of Luci, Raven, Zach, George, RB, Maggs, Lorena, and now Himanish.

We killed a lot of bad guys in this series. We’ve hunted down terrorists in the Middle East, dealt a blow to ISIS, and the Drug Cartels in Mexico and South America, stopped the abduction of a beauty queen, prevented cyber-heists from China, dropped bodies off 50-story-towers in Shanghai, rescued a kidnapped British-Arab female journalist in Dubai and prevented deadly usage of WMD designed in the USA. We even solved the world-wide refugee crisis in Displaced.

Every time I add to this series, I believe it’s the best Code Raven story ever! But this one is truly special. And as in personal relationships, we always say “But THIS time, this ONE, is the best! 

I love to interact with my readers. We banter regularly on Facebook. I have an Author page but the Facebook personal page is where you get the real scoop! I also hang out on Twitter. And BookBub will keep you posted on New Releases. You never know what I’ll post over there! And I’d love you to follow me here. I will send you my newsletter, if you sign up, and a few freebies will make their way to your inbox.

Thanks for stopping by! If this is your first Code Raven book, it can be read alone. I added a glossary with an overview of the main characters just for you!

 

Here’s what readers have to say about the Code Raven Series.

If you like Lee Child, David Baldacci, and James Patterson, you will enjoy this wild ride with billionaire patriot, Luke Raven, and the Raven Series.

“Get In, Sit Down, and Read like there is no tomorrow. You will not be sorry.” E. Wojdyla

“What an action-packed page-turner! XPOSED is a suspenseful thriller that leaves you wanting more. It was fast-paced, and anxiety filled book!” Amazon Reviewer

“I am absolutely loving these books, I’m worn out because I feel like I’m working as hard as they are to save the US. Luke Raven is got to be one of my favorite lead characters ever, and actually, I’m loving all of them. I’m feeling a little bad for Zach and hope that something happens in the next book to make him smile a bit more.” Kirschersmiles

“I’m hooked on this series and can’t wait to see what will happen next. I love the strong heroes and heroines that help make our world safe. If you like thrillers and spy books this is the series for you!” S. Barnaby

 

ALMOST EVERYTHING by Anne Lamott

I want to share this with you. I received an invite to listen to a Podcast, an interview with Anne Lamott. If you’re unfamiliar with her work, she’s predominantly and non-fiction author of the most memorable Bird By Bird, a must read if you have ever thought of writing a book or doing anything creative at all. 

By Stacey Camp on Goodreads

5 Stars:

Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”

“Haters want us to hate them because hate is incapacitating. When we hate, we can’t operate from our real selves, which is our strength.”

Oh Anne Lamott, how do you manage to rip my heart into pieces and then mend it ever so carefully back together? This is what Lamott calls a paradox or conundrum, that life brings both immense joy and heart-wrenching pain, pain that, at times, is unbearable. Take her discussion of having children:

“We are consumed by the most intense love for one another and the joy of living, along with the grief and terror that we and our babies will know unbelievable hurt: broken bones, bad boyfriends, old age…Every day we’re in the grip of the impossible conundrum: the truth that it’s over in a blink, and we may be near the end, and that we have to live as if it’s going to be okay, no matter what.”

Lamott’s Almost Everything: Notes on Hope is meandering and rambling in the most poignant way, a method of writing only Lamott can get away with. It is structured around themes that she wants to share with her grandchild, stories she wants to pass on that she deems critical for one’s survival in a brutal world.

As with Lamott’s other books, I highlighted nearly everything. So many beautiful passages, so much wisdom that has come from the pain that Lamott has known well. This is not a pain she monopolizes. Rather, this book is about how pain is part of the human condition. And because it can happen to any one of us, Lamott believes that we must find peace and happiness every single day. That joy cannot come from a number on a scale or your paystub, though:

“Could you say this about yourself right now, that you have immense and intrinsic value, at your current weight and income level, while waiting to hear if you got the job or didn’t, or sold your book or didn’t? This idea that I had all the value I’d ever needed was concealed from me my whole life. I want a refund.”

“The opposite of love is the bathroom scale.”

Lamott argues that happiness is not found in materiality but something that is omnipresent, waiting to be found in the most mundane places. There is also beauty in grief and beauty in tragedy, though she certainly does not argue that there is a rhyme or reason as to who gets saddled with grief in this universe. Grief is not a lesson to learn, forced upon those who have sinned.

“We do get a taste of the spheres in birdsong, eclipses, the surf, tangerines. In the dark, we see the stars. In the aftermath of a devastating fire, the sun rose red. To pay close attention to and mostly accept your life, inside and out and around your body, is to be halfway home.”

How do we cultivate this love of the quotidian? Through play, observing the world around you, through helping others, and, of course, through reading:

“Books! To fling myself into a book, to be carried away to another world while being at my most grounded, on my butt or in my bed or favorite chair, is literally how I have survived to be here at all. Someone else is doing the living for me, and all I have to do is let their stories, humor, knowledge, and images – some of which I’ll never forget – flow through me, even as I forget to turn off the car when I arrive at my destination.”

As always, Lamott also has some brilliant things to say about writing:

“Write because you have to, because the process brings great satisfaction. Write because you have a story to tell, not because you think publishing will make you the person you always wanted to be. There is approximately zero chance of that happening.”

“We have to cultivate the habits of curiosity and paying attention, which are essential to living rich lives and writing. You raise your eyes out of the pit, which is so miserable and stifling to be in and which tried to grab you and keep you there, until something sneaky hauled you out and changed you.”

Lamott won’t give you easy answers about life in this book, but she will give you a lot to chew on. She challenges you to be reflexive, to examine what’s holding you back in life and what you need to move forward – that these things are not a one size fits all sort of solution. We need to dig deep and find that with which we struggle: confront it and learn to live with it the best we can.

Above all else, she asks her reader to sit with the world: watch it, learn from it, listen to it, breathe it in. For “God is often in solitude and quiet, through the still, small voice – in the breeze, not the thunder.”

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I loved this book. I love nearly everything Lamott writes ( Bird by Bird is one of my all-time favorite books!). Thank you to Edelweiss, Anne Lamott, and Riverhead Books/Penguin Random House for an advanced reader copy of Almost Everything.


For more of my book reviews visit me here:
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And let me add this NUMBER 1 Best Selling book by Anne Lamott. This is every author all time favorite handbook. It’s been described by many as a book with advice on writing and on life in general!

 

BIRD BY BIRD

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12 Books Every Man Should Read

Reblog from CRISTIAN MIHAI

Whether sexual in nature, or books that deal on subjects such as family, history, or the relationship between men and women, these are must-read books for any man, true treasures of information when it comes to a man’s place in today’s society.

Memories of My Melancholy Whores
Gabriel García Márquez

It is almost impossible to read this short novel and not be moved by the life of G.G. Marquez’s main character. An old man wishing to feel alive, wishing to spend his 90th birthday in the company of a virgin woman, so full of life. How many have found love at a young age? How many have located it at 90? How many lived to be 90 years of age?

The day the old man meets his love, that’s when all fear of dying is obliterated. The simple act of contemplating a naked woman, without any sexual desires being involved, that’s what some of us might call love. Real love.

Memories of My Melancholy Whores need to be read at least once. Maybe more than once.

Two of Us
Alberto Moravia

Released in 1971, Alberto Moravia’s novel is all about the cold war between a man and the lack of performance of his organ. So to speak. Yes, this might shock the faint of heart, but this novel deals on subjects that are all too relevant in today’s world. A lack of self-worth, the idea of finding one’s physical appearance disgusting, the obsessive nature of man.

 

The 120 Days of Sodom
Marquis de Sade

 

The 120 Days of Sodom, or the School of Libertinage, was written by the Marquis in 37 days while imprisoned in the Bastille.  Considered the most perverse book ever written, a true encyclopedia of sexual excesses, a long time thought to be lost, it was finally published in 1904.

It is worth reading by those who believe that love-making is repetitive in nature, that one cannot imagine new pleasures (depends on how you defined them) into existence.

 

Emmanuelle
Emanuelle Arsan

 

Eroticism as a concept, as a code, as ceremony, as art, as science.

“No one is born anything. One must learn. Our way of becoming men, of mutating into men, is to reject our ignorance and our myths, like a hermit crab casting off its old shell, and don the truth like a new garment. Thus we can be indefinitely born and reborn. With each ‘abrupt mutation,’ we’ll be more human and we’ll remake our world to suit out pleasure better. ‘Learning’ is learning to enjoy. Ovid already said it, as you’ll recall: ‘Ignoti nulla cupido!’” (you cannot desire what you do not know), Nihil volitum nisi praecognitum (Nothing is wanted that was not previously known.)”

As Oscar Wilde said, everything in life is about sex. Except for sex. Sex is about power.

 

Dangerous Liaisons
Choderlos de Laclos

 

Published just years before the French Revolution, Dangerous Liaisons is a novel of moral and emotional depravity is a disturbing and ultimately damning portrayal of a decadent society. The Marquise de Merteuil and the Vicomte de Valmont, two rivals (and ex-lovers) use seduction as a weapon to socially control and exploit others, all the while enjoying their cruel games and boasting about their manipulative talents. Merteuil challenges Valmont to seduce an innocent convent girl, all the while being occupied with the conquest of a virtuous married woman. Eventually, their human pawns respond, and the consequences prove to be more serious–and deadly–than the players could have ever predicted.

Often compared with Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, Dangerous Liaisons has been adapted a number of times.

Sexus
Henry Miller

 

Or read some other of his novels. Tropic of Cancer or something. But you must read something by Henry Miller, if only to be dumbfounded as to how someone can be so pornographic, have such a disgusting way of describing certain depravities and such pitying views when it comes to certain characters, yet you cannot stop reading.

It is shocking, yet you must read more.

A brilliant writer, one of the most influential writers of the last century, Henry Miller deserves the most to be on this list.

Women
Charles Bukowski

 

“I was sentimental about many things: a woman’s shoes under the bed; one hairpin left behind on the dresser; the way they said, ‘I’m going to pee.’ hair ribbons; walking down the boulevard with them at 1:30 in the afternoon, just two people walking together; the long nights of drinking and smoking; talking; the arguments; thinking of suicide; eating together and feeling good; the jokes; the laughter out of nowhere; feeling miracles in the air; being in a parked car together; comparing past loves at 3am; being told you snore; hearing her snore; mothers, daughters, sons, cats, dogs; sometimes death and sometimes divorce; but always carrying on, always seeing it through; reading a newspaper alone in a sandwich joint and feeling nausea because she’s now married to a dentist with an I.Q. of 95; racetracks, parks, park picnics; even jails; her dull friends; your dull friends; your drinking, her dancing; your flirting, her flirting; her pills, your fucking on the side and her doing the same; sleeping together” 

Because we all love a good story! Especially if it’s true.

In no particular order, here are some books I’ve put together that I found intriguing. Some I have read, some not. Those that I haven’t have been added to my TBR. Anything you’d like to add to our list, drop it in the comments. Enjoy this selection.

Promise Me Dad: A year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose  by Joe Biden
Joe Biden, former Vice President, and possible future presidential candidate lost his son Beau to brain cancer after a momentous struggle. When Beau was in the midst of his fight against the disease, he made his father promise that he would be all right. Over the next year, Joe Biden served his country as Vice President while his son slowly lost his battle. In this remarkable memoir, Biden opens up about that period of his life, discussing with disarming intimacy the personal and political struggles he endured while working to make the world a safer place and trying to decide if he would run for president in 2016. Biden’s wisdom and advice for anyone who has lost someone close to them is powerful, and his insights into life’s problems come from someone who has dealt with some of the most difficult challenges in modern times

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It’s Not Yet Dark: A Memoir by Simon Fitzmaurice
A doctor gave filmmaker Fitzmaurice four years to live following an ALS diagnosis in 2008. By 2010, he was at death’s door and given little hope, but nevertheless chose to take extraordinary measures to stay alive. In the years since he’s fathered twins and continued to work as a documentarian. Fitzmaurice talks candidly about his daily struggles, but also about the family that sustains him in a life that’s radically different from the one he’d planned for.

 

Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson
Isaacson begins with the presumption that Leonardo da Vinci was perhaps the most creative genius in human history and proceeds from there, digesting more than 7,000 pages of notes da Vinci left behind and producing this biography. Unlike anything else you’ve ever read about the most famous artist of the 15th and 16th centuries, Isaacson paints a portrait of a restless mind that exhibited unusual curiosity and made magical connections between disciplines that had never been made before. At the same time, he shows da Vinci as a man whose always-churning mind could leave many projects unfinished as he dashed from idea to idea. When one of our best modern writers tackles one of the most famous minds in history, it’s time to pay attention.

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The Rules Do Not Apply: A Memoir, by Ariel Levy
Celebrated writer Levy tells her life story with verve and gusto, exploring as a central theme the way the universe laughs at our plans. As a young child Levy was taught she could do anything, but also warned not to depend on a man for support. As her star rose as a writer for New York Magazine and elsewhere in the 1990s her life began taking unscheduled detours: she married an older woman with substance abuse problems, she conceived a child using a sperm donor but suffered a miscarriage, and she never lost a burning desire to seek adventure and new experiences. The end result is a compelling and compulsively readable memoir.

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Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II, by Liza Mundy
Stories of World War II often focus on the heroic deeds of male soldiers, but newly declassified documents reveal a shadow army of women who also did their part—the codebreakers. Recruited from colleges and secretarial pools for their math skills, these women were set to the task of breaking enemy codes, but their efforts and achievements were top secret, and their stories largely unknown—until now. Battling the expected sexism and hostile attitudes of their male counterparts and supervisors, tens of thousands of women helped to end the war much more quickly than it would have otherwise, and Mundy rescues their stories from obscurity and gives them the credit they deserve. In fact, she makes a solid case that without these women, we might not have won World War II at all.

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The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story, by Douglas Preston
Preston, also known as one half of the team writing the Agent Pendergrast series of thrillers, details his involvement with a team seeking to prove the existence of a lost city in the Honduran wilderness. Legends tell of a city destroyed by a series of natural cataclysms, abandoned as cursed, and forbidden for centuries. Using a combination of cutting-edge technology and boots on the ground, Preston and his team locate two large sites and a wealth of archaeological treasures to prove that a lost civilization once existed in an area of the world where no human being has set foot in centuries. Preston’s skill as a novelist makes the deep-dive into the past at once entertaining, gripping, and informative.

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We’re Going to Need More Wine: Stories That Are Funny, Complicated, and True, by Gabrielle Union
Actress Union tells her story with wit and sensitivity, a story that includes her struggles as one of a few black students in a predominantly white high school, the devastating rape at gunpoint that almost broke her, and her recovery and pursuit of a high-octane Hollywood career. Union addresses topics including parenting, raising black kids in a culture often perceived as steeped in racism, and teen sexuality—always with disarming humor and perceptive insights that mark this as much more than a typical Hollywood vanity memoir. Without much of a filter, Union comes across as a nuanced survivor who has managed to keep both her sense of humor and her ability to love despite her experiences.

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“I feel we owe Stormy more for her moxie than handfuls of sweaty singles.”

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The Stormy Daniels (And Melania Too) Effect  as published on HuffPost.com 8/26

Sex/human trafficking and the sex trade are themes I deal with in my Code Raven Series and particularly in my recent publication of Lie To Me an exposé on sex for money  I thought you might enjoy this provocative and witty article by Lily Burana, a feminist and fellow author, published in HuffPost today. 

 

Tucker Carlson (he who has crafted a lasting brand from bowtied White Male Grievance) was fuming on air the other night, Now that Stormy Daniels is part of the resistance, porn is noble!

Or something like that. I didn’t hear the exact words because I was too busy cackling smugly.

The statement seems to indicate that Carlson, prima facie Right-Wing Outrage, is heated up about not being able to make a partisan bitch slap out of a woman’s employment in the sex industry because she, apparently, is showing social (and political) capital above and beyond her lowly “ho” status. Baby boy angry cuz baby boy can’t slut-shame right now! You stay mad, Carlson!

Meanwhile, over here in feminist ladyland, I’m thrilled.

When it comes to how we talk (and joke) about women who’ve worked in adult entertainment, times are changing. Even stories in The New York Times are changing. Certainly, the courage that Stormy Daniels has shown in the face of incredible antagonism can be credited for this shift. Think what you will about her line of endeavor, but my God, her chutzpah in taking on Donald Trump is commendable.

But she’s not the only game-changer here. Melania gets a nod for this shift as well. She’s a woman who modeled nude (sometimes with other women in a hotsy-totsy, clearly-for-titillation configuration), and then, boom, there she was, years later, wife of a Republican magnate and devoted mother.

This has created a bracketing effect ― leftie porn star, right-wing former nude model ― that has muted the impulse to couch a political dig in a bimbo-bashing wrapper. Yes, the hypocrisy of Donald Trump being the head of a party that waves the “family values” flag while being such a creep himself has made its way into late-night monologues and political cartoons: I can’t believe Trump has the NERVE to work the CHRISTIAN ANGLE after he had AN AFFAIR with a PORN STAR. (Because it would’ve been a lesser betrayal if he’d bedded the local chapter president of the Junior League? Help me out here.) But it’s not as sticky of a comedic gambit as it would’ve been even 10 years ago.

I feel we owe Stormy more for her moxie than handfuls of sweaty singles.

Stormy and Melania having both created prurient adult material has, oddly, engendered a bipartisan truce around using sex workers as punchlines or moral lancets. Neither the right nor the left can slut-bash the other side, because each side has its own major presence who is, or was, working en dishabille. Thus, we can’t use that to make political hay. Between Melania’s nude girl-girl photo shoots and Stormy’s turn on the strip club stage and porn set, we’ve eased away from political slut-shaming.

Hallelujah, and may it ever be thus.

Melania, fused in marriage and image with all things Trump and silent as a cipher herself, is something of a suspect blank slate. There’s not much for us to attach to her except guilt by association. But the fact that she hasn’t issued some sort of mewling public apology for her nude modeling photos should be taken as a marker that she ― and the country of which she’s first lady ― is not convinced that any renunciation or mea culpa is required.

Then, we have the volubly sassy and articulate Stormy Daniels. She’s curiously sympathetic folk heroine: She seems to have accepted her lot in life with an admirable blend of pragmatism and good humor, and she has been presented in full 360-degree “actual human being” format in mainstream profiles. She’s a working wife and mother, protective of her child, and incensed by the hypocrisy and corruption of this administration. Add to that her appealingly curvy mom-bod and the pleasing softness to her facial features and you’re like, “You know what? I don’t need to be a jerk about her being a porn star. She’s flesh and blood like us, trying to keep it together while the country goes mad along with everyone else out here.”

Think what you will about her line of endeavor, but my God, her chutzpah in taking on Donald Trump is commendable.

The feminist view of how to treat and discuss women primarily known, willingly or not, for their sexual exploits has also shifted in a far more charitable and sympathetic direction. To have a roundtable of prominent feminists assemble to run down and ridicule such a woman in a major publication like they did with Monica Lewinsky in The New York Observer back in 1998, seems unthinkable now. Bimbo-baiting and shaming are entirely passé, as they have been revealed to be part of the patriarchal dictate to police, and even damage, other women’s lives through judgment. This type of censure through mockery is not a good look for women on either side of the so-called madonna/whore divide ― or either side of the political aisle.

Even normally censorious, socially conservative writers are taking heed and resisting the urge to make the character-assassinating, tongue-clucking cheap shot. Case in point: Professional scold Caitlin Flanagan laid off her usual troweling of disapproval in a May article in The Atlantic. The biggest arrow she dared fire was referring to Daniels as “an aging sex worker,” which from our stern, “the best birth control is holding an aspirin between your knees,” Catholic auntie CaitFlan is practically a pat on the head.

Historically, there has been so much unmitigated hostility toward any woman who does any form of sex work, at any level and for any reason, that if it takes a sense of partisan loyalty to stem the tide of vitriol and low blows, I’ll take it.

We seem to be growing up a bit, able to see now that on the grand continuum of moral “crimes,” female sexual adventuring is on the tame end directly opposite from, say, cratering an entire democracy through, you know, actual crime.

As for what the future holds for these two iconic women who’ve had the audacity to be both naked for money and fully human, I hope Melania has her own escape plan in place, to implement if and when the time comes.

For Stormy, it’s hard to say. In days of yore (you know, like in the 1980s and 1990s), a woman caught in the center of a sex scandal would be offered a royal sum to strip off for a major men’s magazine. Amidst the dwindling readership ― and budgets ― of skin mags, I doubt such an economic rocket boost still exists. However, if anyone deserves the million-dollar post-scandal pinup retirement package, it’s Stormy Daniels. In the absence of that opportunity, maybe she’ll get a big publishing contract for a book in which she can thoroughly examine her side of things (mama, if you need a ghostwriter, you call me).

Even normally censorious, socially conservative writers are taking heed and resisting the urge to make the character-assassinating, tongue-clucking cheap shot.

Regardless of the manifestation, I hope there’s a payout and I hope it’s plenty big. She’s out there capitalizing on her notoriety with her “Make America Horny Again” dancing tour at various strip clubs (and getting set up for arrest at one appearance), but I feel we owe Stormy more for her moxie than handfuls of sweaty singles.

This isn’t to suggest that we all now view adult entertainment as a job like any other job (it isn’t) or that speaking of the workers in the business with civility will transform porn into some amazing cool job that teen girls will choose instead of working at, say, Piercing Pagoda (it won’t). All it means is that we’ve been able (in this case, anyway) to realize slut-shaming is a zero-sum activity and that a hearty chuckle at the rich irony of the situation need not escalate into sick burns on the naked ladies involved. It means that where female sexuality is concerned, we’ve decided, collectively, to not be freaking mean for once.

Yes, there are plenty of bawdy laughs to be had in this trash-fire Trump administration, and let us take our delight where we may. Hit “share” on those “Trump’s Pecker Problem” headlines and the meme of Snoopy at his typewriter atop his doghouse, tapping out “And then, America was saved by a Porn Star. THE END.” We’ve been wounded and anguished for months, so we might as well yuk it up while we’re able. So yes, let us continue to find the humor ― just spare the usual (female) suspects the humiliation of being the butt of the joke.

These are strange days indeed, and we are finally seeing some glimmers of hope that our long national political nightmare may soon end. How wonderful it is to think we might just have the last laugh at an administration that’s a total joke. And how novel that an ever-so-slight uplift for so-called fallen women — of any political affiliation — might be the end product of misogynist folly.

 

Lily Burana is the author of four books, most recently Grace for Amateurs: Field Notes on a Journey Back to Faith (W Books/Harper). Follow her on Twitter @lilyburana.