Interview with Author Nadia Natali


Nadia Natali, author of the memoir, Stairway to Paradise: Growing Up Gershwin, published by Rare Bird, Los Angeles, 2015, and The Blue Heron Ranch Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from a Zen Retreat Center published by North Atlantic Books, Berkeley CA, 2008, is currently working on a second cookbook titled Zafu Kitchen Cookbook. 
Natali, a clinical psychotherapist and dance therapist, specializes in trauma release through somatic work. She earned a master’s degree from Hunter College in New York City in Dance/Movement Therapy and completed another masters degree in clinical psychology with an emphasis in somatic psychology at the Santa Barbara Graduate Institute. Nadia is a registered practitioner of Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy (RCST) and is also a certified Somatic Experiencing Practitioner (SEP) who trained with Peter Levine.

DanceMedicine Workshops is Natali’s creation where participants move through their trauma with dialogue and dance. She also offers the Ojai community, DanceMedicine Journeys. In addition to her private practice, Nadia and her husband offer Zen Retreats at their center.

Born into a famous family that was riddled with dysfunction, Nadia Natali made the choice to turn her life inside out and step away from fame and fortune. Against her parents’ consent she married an artist and moved to the remote wilderness in California. It was there that she found grounding as she and her husband raised and homeschooled their three children and opened a retreat center. As she gathered her own momentum, she enrolled in a doctorate program finally becoming a clinical psychotherapist specializing in psychosomatic work. She and her husband live in Ojai California.



What’s inside the mind of a memoir author?                       

First, I believe one needs a theme, an intention to express a particular idea that develops over a lifetime. In my case I realized that my life was an unraveling of layers of hidden truths. Once I thought I had found it another level was crying to be excavated. I imagine all memoirs require a degree of authenticity where the readers feel that they are accessing their own voice as it appears through another.

What is so great about being an author?     

I do not think being an author per se is great, but I believe putting your all into any project brings on the same greatness, or a great sense of accomplishment.

When do you hate it?                        

The most difficult part for me is when I feel a dread in my belly as I’m writing and can’t figure what it is telling me about what I just wrote. I try to listen to these messages but sometimes I have trouble reading it.

What is a regular writing day like for you?             

It is usually inconsistent, in and out, up and down. I have spells of flow and then I usually stop and get back to it later.

How do you handle negative reviews?                     

So far I haven’t had the chance to read one. I am sure it would hurt inside and then I would manage it.

How do you handle positive reviews?          

 Get excited initially but it is very short lived.

What is the usual response when you tell a new acquaintance that you’re an author?

I don’t bring up that I have written a book unless there is a conversation that would naturally bring it up. I never say I am an author. I might mention I have written a memoir.

What do you do on those days you don’t feel like writing? Do you force it or take a break?

My days are multifaceted so I write whenever I feel like it.

Any writing quirks?                  

I like to drink tea and I like to have it nearby on my desk.

What would you do if people around you didn’t take your writing seriously or see it as a hobby?                       

I suppose I wouldn’t be around those people who didn’t take anything I did seriously.

Some authors seem to have a love-hate relationship to writing. Can you relate?   


Do you think success as an author must be linked to money?    

Not at all, but having funds to hire PR to help get your work published can be a benefit.

What has writing taught you?    

I have learned that the more I try the worse it is. I have to wait for the flow, so to speak, to come through me and just be available.

Leave us with some words of wisdom.

Writing is spontaneous and one cannot force the process. It arrives when it wants to and one has to have the intention to do it and be patient for it to show up.

About the Book:

Author: Nadia Natali
Publisher: RareBird Books
Pages: 304
Genre: Memoir


Growing up as Frankie Gershwin's daughter, the sister of George and Ira Gershwin, was quite a challenge. I didn't have the perspective to realize that so much unhappiness in a family was out of the ordinary. But I knew something was off. My mother was often depressed and my father was tyrannical and scary, one never knew when he would blow up. I learned early on that I had to be the cheery one, the one to fix the problems. Both sides of my family were famous; the Gershwin side and my father who invented color film. But even though there was more than enough recognition, money and parties I understood that wasn't what made people happy.

As a young adult adrift and depressed I broke from that unsatisfactory life by marrying Enrico Natali, a photographer, deeply immersed in his own questions about life. We moved into the wilderness away from what we considered as the dysfunction of society. That’s when we discovered that life had other kinds of challenges: flood, fire, rattlesnakes, mountain lions and bears. We lived in a teepee for more than four years while building a house. Curiously my mother never commented on my life choice. She must have realized on some level that her own life was less than satisfactory.

Enrico had developed a serious meditation practice that had become a kind of ground for him. As for me I danced. Understanding the somatic, the inner body experience, became my way to shift the inner story.

We raised and homeschooled our three children. I taught them to read, Enrico taught them math. The kids ran free, happy, always engaged, making things, and discovering. We were so sure we were doing the right thing. However, we didn't have a clue how they would make the transition to the so-called ‘real world’. The children thrived until they became teenagers. They then wanted out. Everything fell apart for them and for Enrico and me. Our lives were turned upside down, our paradise lost. There was tragedy: our son lost his life while attempting to cross our river during a fierce storm. Later I was further challenged by advanced breast cancer.

It was during these times that I delved deeply into the somatic recesses of myself. I began to find my own voice, a long learning process. I emerged with a profound trust in my own authority. It became clear that everyone has to find his or her way through layers of inauthenticity, where a deep knowing can develop. And I came to see that is the best anyone can offer to the world.

Enrico and I still live in the wilds of the Lost Padres National Forest, a paradise with many steps going up and down, a life I would not change.


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#FridayReads Their Witch Wears Plaid by Kathleen Shaputis @nwauthor


THEIR WITCH WEARS PLAID by Kathleen Shaputis, Magical Realism/Paranormal Romance/Romantic Comedy, 186 pp., $3.99 (Kindle edition) $12.99 (paperback)

Author: Kathleen Shaputis
Publisher: CreateSpace
Genre: Magical Realism/Paranormal Romance/Romantic Comedy

A giant-sized Druid, annoying trances and frightening nightmares mess up Nell’s festive end of summer plans. Living in Scotland, a palm reader for Baillie Castle, Nell loses her heart to a professional jouster. But is her shining knight in cahoots with the sinister Druid?

Will the recipe of a magic coin, diva queens and witches be enough to save Nell from death? Or will evil triumph over love?


A page-turning delight with twists and turns for the fabulous Lady Nell. It’s 2018, what woman wouldn’t want to be chased by a knight in shining armor?
–J. Verstraeten
Order Your Copy!

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While sitting behind her covered card table, Lady Nell dabbed at a trickle of sweat on the back of her bare neck with a long, white handkerchief. The summer heat, though mild in temperature for many, had dampened her coiffed hair and Elizabethan costume. Well-worn tarot cards splayed across the sapphire paisley tablecloth in a colorful, symmetric array. “May I answer any other questions for thee this sweltering afternoon, my lady?”
The flustered middle-aged woman across from her, wearing a thrown-together costume of a black wench’s vest and ankle-length skirt, shook her head. “Goodness, no. You’ve been quite helpful as one who seeks the future, thank you, Lady Nell.” And she took a last look at the cards before disappearing from the palm reader’s tent.
Scooping the displayed cards into a pile, Nell smiled at how the first day of the Scottish Faire at Baillie Castle was proving a great success. Excited crowds from surrounding areas were showing up in droves. Nell practically pinched her damp double chin in the delight of having moved to Scotland and using her psychic powers for employment within the castle. She sent a spiritual blessing to her friends, Baillie and Rogue, the proprietors of the castle, for encouraging her to establish a new life across the Atlantic. Her last home address had been Olympia, Washington, though her talents had let her travel throughout the United States.
Nell’s flamboyant pavilion was placed under a shade tree, offering some relief of the mid-summer heat, but barely a breeze had stirred the sauna-like air for the last hour. The steady stream of customers had kept her emotions animated despite the stifling heat. Nell respected and enjoyed her talent for reaching into another’s aura, their soul, and sharing information. She stretched her arms over her head and twisted her neck to one side hearing the familiar crick.
Suddenly a dank, frigid cold penetrated her chest, the icy bolt more like a speeding car crashing unheeded into a block wall. She couldn’t breathe. Yet she was not a complete stranger to the deathly artic slam, as the wintery pain felt similar to her first meeting with the ghost of Baillie Castle, Lord Kai, years ago in Olympia, Washington, where the poltergeist had been desperate to penetrate the real world.
Gripping the edges of the table, Nell tried centering herself, closing her eyes, grounding her being to the Earth’s core by visualizing a thick steel chain locking her in place. A moment later, it was gone. Gulping in heated air, Nell kept her eyes closed, alarmed at the unexpected glacial intensity. What in the not-of-this-world had caused such an explosion of cold?
Chastising herself for possibly overdoing the herbal recipe she’d created for her morning smoothie, Nell shook her head. She stared around her, expanding her mystic aura, rippling it out beyond the tent, searching for unearthly energy, anything possibly related to the polar blast. Knowing the hours she’d be working today, the potion recipe she concocted was meant as an enhancement to her psychic abilities, a mere boost. She blinked her eyes, the tent vacant and nothing out of the ordinary showed itself. By and large things were as they should be inside and outside the normal excitement of festive crowds and the music of Celtic pipes music filling her ears.
Knowing her foretelling talents would be in constant demand for palm readings and tarot cards once the Faire opened this morning, Nell asked petite T-Cup, a spicy diva queen from Seattle and dear friend of the castle owners, to act as an assistant for her. T not only acted as the money keeper but provided part-time entertainment for the crowds passing by. She kept Nell’s sanity and the flow of customers continuous in and out of the tent. T-Cup’s delightful voice squealed and twittered outside the tent’s dangling strands of pastel beads as Nell tried discerning any mystic turbulence from the cold blast. T’s saucy remarks on various costumes and people throughout the day hadn’t changed in tone or manner as Nell cleared her table with shaking hands.
T’s own outrageously bawdy dress of lace and silk caught many the eye of people walking by and made for a great marketing asset. A singer and entertainer by trade usually in company with her best friend and fellow diva, Rafael, T’s persona of hysterical delight brightened any room or situation, a petite dynamo of glitter and glamour. T stuck her beribboned head of curls inside and said, “This will be your last reading for today, Lady Nell. Looks like the universe saved the best for last. Mr. Gigantic, Dark and Mysterious will be right in.”
The cash box clinked shut before a hooded giant blocked the beaded doorway. Standing more than six and a half feet tall, the Druid-dressed customer moved with no haste. She looked at the floor-length, burlap garment wrapped well to his body, tied with a leather strap, and a deep hood concealing his face in shadows. Flowing sleeves draped at his sides as he sat in front of her with fluid motion. The realistic garment fascinated her, the material seemed threadbare and ancient. He’d paid a pretty penny for the outfit at an estate sale or movie studio auction, she wanted to bet. Nell couldn’t find a way of dipping her head toward the floor without looking odd to see what he wore on his feet, something authentic or Nike sneakers.
“What would you like to hear this day, good sir? What your future holds in store or may I answer a specific question ye need answering? I can read your palm or maybe you’d like to see what the cards have to say for you. My talent but waits your answer.”
He sat silent. No movement, nothing.
Nell blinked before picking up her tarot cards and started shuffling. This wasn’t the first time someone shy or conservative wasn’t sure what they wanted, but instead of her calm natural patience, she felt a bit defensive, a molten nervousness moving through her. The choking silence between them bothered her. First a blast of frigid, intense air sent chaos into her chest and now an enormous mannequin sucked the very oxygen she needed. The man raised his hand palm out, the fingers lengthy, and she stopped mid-motion. The heat inside the tent dropped in temperature until it crackled like thin ice on a raging river. Rivulets of perspiration trickled down her ample body, despite the sudden disappearance of the infuriating heat.
His silence weighed solid like a glacial wall and her intuition created an instant need to surround herself in a protective spell. Her lips moved silently as she stared at the deep hood that cloaked his face from view. The darkness nagged her in a disquieting, almost dangerous way. Who is this Mr. Chill? What is going on?
“I am quite well acquainted with who you are, Lady Nell.” His smooth, deep voice poured out like the syrup of a public radio station announcer. “If I may explain, I have been approached by your parents…”
“You’re quite mad, sir,” Nell snapped, her face flushed with irritation despite the cold. How dare this cloaked idiot have the audacity to spout ancestral nonsense? “My parents are gone and have been for many years. I don’t understand your trickery this day but you have paid for my services, sir, not the opportunity to make mockery of me or my profession.”
Moments ticked by in silence and the temperature inside the tent dropped further. His game with the air conditioning will not deter me. Goosebumps rippled up her bare arms. She forced herself not to give in to shivering. Nell had hoped her anger would fight the frost, but its invasion seeped through. She slowly lifted her chin in defiance. Her work and talent was not a game, and she didn’t appreciate his rude announcement saying he’d been in contact with her deceased parents, parents she’d hardly known herself growing up.
“I understand more about you than you could possibly know. You are young and naïve still in your powers. You will believe in me soon enough, stubborn one, I have no doubt of this. Your parents’ spirits and elders before them have given me a quest to find you and I am here.” His eyes glistened, practically glowing. Specks of amber light shone deep inside the murkiness of the hood. “They told me of your talents to see the past and feel the energy yet to be in images—an inherited ability. Your powers are much similar to mine in some basic ways. But over recent years, you’ve strayed on a different course and the elders have asked me to warn you to take heed. Their request of me is to shield you from your own foolishness.”
Nell felt the warmth of her face drain into the empty chill. “They know of my work on the dark side?” she whispered. What does he mean about keeping me safe? From what? Who is this person?
Over the recent years she had discovered magical talents and energy flowing through her soul, untapped reservoirs of abilities she didn’t know existed beyond seeing the past and future. An understanding of crystals and herbs filled her mind at odd times, pushing details and recipes from an unknown source into her reality. She’d kept them close to her in private, rarely using the dark magic in front of people, except for last year here at the Baillie Castle when she felt compelled to assist the Baillie family in a dire emergency with unmitigated success. The process had drained her sorely for days but she still felt it was one of her finest accomplishments.
“Your parents know you’ve taken your innate skills beyond the familiar white magic and they worry for your safety.” He placed his pale, wrinkled hands on top of the table.
Nell found her mouth still open. She shifted in her wooden folding chair, the stuffed cushion beneath her lumpy, stiff, uncomfortable. She took in a deep breath and exhaled to a long count, while gathering her strength and thoughts. “Then you have me at a disadvantage, sir, as I do not know who you are. And could you turn the temperature in here up a tad? Seriously, I am not some slab of beef.” She could see the white vapor from her words swirling in front of her and wondered if icicles would form along the edges of the tent. A scene from an old I Love Lucy episode flashed in her mind, when Lucy was locked in a freezer vault and her face covered in frost.
He swiped away her words like irritating flies with his elongated hands. “Silence, woman. I will tell your fortune and you must listen well. Obedience is imperative.”
Squinting her eyes at the hooded Druid, she snorted. “I will be obedient to no one. You have no power here, you robed cretin, slithering in here with tricks of threatening me with lies of my parents, chilling the air, and fallacies of wanting to tell my fortune?” Like a kitten with an arched back, thick fur standing on end, Nell refused to cow down to this stranger. Not a muscle twitched as she waited for his next move.
“Belay your wail of pitiful skepticism. Listen to my words and listen well. A young man you’ve met before will come to you with information you most desire. Believe him, as the bond between you is powerful. You must then travel across the water to your former homeland, back to the beginning of this Scottish journey at the bookstore and obtain your spiritual guide. This will help you understand the foretold answers waiting ahead. Ignore these words and direness awaits you.”
He stood nearly caressing the ceiling with his hood. “Good morrow to you, Lady Nell.” Ducking his body in half, he left the tent before she could shove her chair back or voice any questions. And she had a million of them on the tip of her tongue. What man was he talking about who she had met before? Go back to the beginning? Did he mean Baillie’s Pen and Pages bookstore in Olympia, Washington? Well, that would be across “water” certainly.
Placing her hands on top of the card table, she pushed herself up with trembling legs. The slam of claustrophobic heat filled the tent nearly knocking her backward. Sounds began filtering into her conscience: the strum of a mandolin, conversations and laughter, a sweet Celtic tune on a pipe, as if her hearing was restored from a deep, lengthy silence.
T-Cup popped herself inside, swishing the silk of her Elizabethan dress. “Hey, I didn’t see long-limbed, dark and spooky leave. Do you have a back door in this tent I don’t know about?” She twirled in a circle creating a rustling murmur from her petticoats. “C’mon, let’s go see what deliciousness Putney the cook has for us in the kitchen. It’s got to be tea time, right? I’m starving for something fresh and chilled.” T stopped in mid-motion. “Wha… Lady Nell, are you doing okay?” She touched Nell’s arm and squealed, “Dang, you’re like ice,” before bouncing through the beads yelling, “Gillian, Gillian, come Lord Gorgeous, our lady looks dazed and feels like a fresh blended margarita.” The last words slid out before she sucked in another breath. “Ándele, pronto, get your tight butt over here now, I said.” Her voice screeched an octave higher.
Through the parted strands of plastic beads, a polished, well-built blond dressed in a traditional blue and green Baillie kilt and sporting silk finery sauntered across the dry grass as if on a fashion cat walk. Gillian Nation was used to the attention and lingering looks from anyone nearby. Tanned, taut thigh muscles showed bare under the hem of the kilt as he walked. “How wither you call, my Seattle-based jester-ess?” He slid into the tent with noble smoothness but seeing Nell’s distress rushed to her side. “Have you overdone yourself, my lady?” He put his strong right arm around her waist and his eyebrows rose dramatically as he caught Nell’s gaze. “You’re like a pale Popsicle. T, make way, you fluffy fairy. Let’s get her outside.”
The faire had emptied of tourists and most of the performers. A few groundskeepers had begun clearing the trash, making little noise as they emptied smaller waste containers into a large rolling bin. Reality snapped her into a safety hold like a seat belt in a speeding Porsche. Patting her damp face with the already wet handkerchief, she imitated, clung desperately to Gillian’s calm, graceful moves as he sat next to her.
“Anything you want to talk about, Lady Nell that precipitated this dearth of possible frostbite?” His well-pampered face showed no emotions, unlike T-Cup’s pasty, frightened look nearby.
“Did, did you see my last customer, the giant-in-robes man come in or out of the tent?”
T-Cup raised her perfectly manicured hand. “Ooh, ooh, I did, I did. Well, I saw a Druid-looking guy go into the tent after he paid me. I don’t remember seeing him come out though, you know, but I wasn’t paying attention. Tapping my fingers along with the music, I guess. It’s the end of a long hot day. I’m tired. Sue me already.”
Gillian closed his dark, cappuccino-colored eyes at T’s dramatics, shaking his head, sliding his low ponytail over his shoulder. “I’m afraid my attentions were also elsewhere.”
“Did, did you see his face, T?” Nell’s voice cracked.
“That sounds rather ominous.” Gillian tilted his head catching T-Cup’s nervous glance and the tiny shrug of her bare shoulders.
“No, I don’t think so.” She waved her arms wildly over her head. “He had this enormous hood up covering everything, everything. I wouldn’t be able to pick him out of a line up, if that’s what you mean. He paid for his session, Lady Nell, and went inside. Easy peasy. Did he steal something from you other than the heat inside your body? Pretty fancy trick, I might add.” She inhaled sharply. “Did he touch you inappropriately? Is that why you’re upset?” T puffed up like a frazzled hen, flapping invisible feathers everywhere. “Should I sound an alarm and have someone search the castle grounds for the criminal?”
“No, no, he didn’t take or touch anything except my sanity.” The last word came out in a whisper as she rubbed her forehead.
“T, bounce yourself somewhere and get the good lady a cold drink. She’s probably dehydrated.” Gillian kept a still face as the flouncing skirt disappeared. “Now that the dear elf is gone, what happened inside the tent, Nell?”
She inhaled a deep, shaky, breath through her nose and slowly blew out the air. “This oversized giant came in dressed head to toe in brown sack cloth, Druid looking, well-worn material. My first thought was he had on either a pricey costume or had somehow stepped through time. I swear, my very first thoughts.” Gillian rolled his eyes with a faint smile. “No, now hear me out. The hood draped over his head so deep his face was completely in shadow, just like T said. On purpose, I’m sure, yet I caught a single glimpse of his eyes while he sat there and they glowed, almost a maize color, spooky and bizarre.”
She bowed her head, fussing with her skirt. “Gillian, he said he came by a request of my parents and my elders to tell my future and when I challenged him, he lowered the thermostat to some teeth-chattering zero degrees in the tent.”
“Now this is getting interesting! What does a scam fortune teller tell a real fortune teller?” He tapped his fingertips together. “So we have an overdressed druid who paid for your services, but instead told you your fortune with some stage-effect trickery like dry ice. Did he at least report anything sizzling in your future? Some delightfully male encounters by any chance?”
A heated flush rushed from her neck to her cheeks. Why did Gillian never take anything seriously, twisting most conversations into sexual twitters? “No, well, yes, I am supposed to meet a young man I’ve met before who will answer my questions. What questions, for heaven’s sake? What kind of questions could he possibly mean? And I’m supposed to go back to Pen and Pages like the beginning of a puzzle and find my spirit guide. What hokey nonsense is a spirit guide, whatever that may be, going to do for me?”
“What delightful man you will meet is the more important detail of the story, my dear.” Gillian sniffed as T skipped toward them, clutching a dripping bottle of cold water. “We’ll continue this discussion later, out of prying curious ears, you realize. Say nothing of this during our tea,” he focused on T, “or you’ll have the whole castle staff up in arms.” He stretched his arm out, wiggling his fingers at the colorful nymph. “You are a jewel and an enchanted servant.” T squeaked from Gillian’s words. “Exactly what our dear friend needs.”
“Putney asked me to report tea is ready and her old foot’s a tapping. C’mon, you two, you’re the only ones out here.”
“Goodness, Cook will have our heads if we keep the sweet ancient thing waiting.” Gillian turned his arm to Nell. “Allow me to escort you back to the castle.”
Nell clutching the now half-empty water bottle, gave a grateful smile to T-Cup. “Thank you. That was just what I needed.” She tucked the ominous meeting away for now and slipped her arm in Gillian’s. “Let’s go.”

Kathleen Shaputis lives in the glorious Pacific Northwest with her husband, Bob, a clowder of cats and three pompously protective Pomeranians with little social aptitude: Brugh, Bouncer and Miss Jazzy. If not writing, she’s busy reading and watching romantic comedies, her ultimate paradise.

Her latest book is Their Witch Wears Plaid.




#Wednesday #Spotlight: Up All Night by Rhonda Shear


UP ALL NIGHT by Rhonda Shear, Memoir/Self-Help, 419 pp., $6.99 (Kindle edition) $14.22 (paperback)

Author: Rhonda Shear
Publisher:Mascot Books
Pages: 419

Up All Night combines memoir and self-help to follow Rhonda Shear’s incredible journey from modest New Orleans girl to bold, brassy, beautiful entrepreneur and owner of a $100 million Florida lingerie company.

Along the way, Rhonda has been a beauty queen, a groundbreaking candidate for office, a Playboy model, a working actress, a late-night TV star and sex symbol, a headlining standup comedian, an award-winning “bimbopreneur” and a philanthropist who uses her success to help women of all ages be their best and appreciate their true beauty.

Up All Night is also a love story. Rhonda reconnected with her first love, Van Fagan, after 25 years apart, and after a whirlwind romance in The Big Easy, they married in 2001. Now they share a fantasy life of luxury—but it hasn't come easily. In this book, Rhonda shares the lessons she’s learned along the way: never let anyone else define you or tell you what you can’t do, make your own luck, and do what you love.


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New Orleans is the greatest show on Earth. Just ask anyone who has awakened on Bourbon Street covered in beads and with no idea how the hell they got there. Like the taste of chicory coffee, the flavor and spirit of New Orleans—the city where I was born, came of age, and met the love of my life—will never leave me. Why would I want it to? It’s part of my soul.

My family was not your typical American clan. We were yats, a term derived from the saying, “Where ya at?”, part of the patois and culture that define New Orleans. Our childhood drives around the Big Easy, for example, would have given most parents a heart attack. We would cruise down Rue du Bourbon in my father’s big Oldsmobile and past the French Quarter strip clubs. The doors and windows would be wide open, displaying the girls’ wares for everyone to see. Daddy would laugh and shout, “Look at the dancing girls!”

My brothers, Mel and Fred, and my sister, Nona, and I, we absolutely loved it. Go cups (the enlightened practice of giving bar patrons disposable cups to take their drinks into the street), lagniappe (pronounced “LAN-yap,” an indigenous/Creole word meaning “a little something extra”), Mardi Gras—it was all part of our normal. The New England Puritanism that shaped so much of the rest of the country never made it down the Mississippi to the shores of Lake Pontchartrain. Instead, you have a city that’s equal parts bawdy and genteel, American and

Creole, Southern conservative and surprisingly moral. N’awlins is a unique blend of sweet and spicy. Take off her Mardi Gras mask and you’ll find endless contradictions.
It was a marvelous, festive, magical place to grow up. The city has its own unique accent: a little Bronx, a little Boston, a little bayou. It has its signature food, gumbo, which describes the infusion of French, Acadian, Creole, African, and Native American cultures as much as the blend of onions, bell peppers, celery (often called the “holy trinity”), seafood, spices, and a good dark roux. It has its own soul: all-night bars and barkers in the French Quarter, voodoo, above-ground graveyards with moss-covered mausoleums, and jazz.
You can keep your safe, sanitized suburbs and the quiet life. New Orleans taught me and my siblings how to live.

Jennie and Wilbur

I guess it’s not surprising that I came from such a place. What might be surprising is that despite being born into such a sensual environment, I grew up terrified of sex. I was a shy, protected girl, and my mother, Jennie Weaker Shear, was determined to keep me that way. A first-generation New Orleanian, my mom was a great beauty with a drop-dead figure who adored Betty Grable and owned a swimsuit similar to the one Grable wore in her famous “over the shoulder” pinup shot.
(Later in life, I found out that Mom had posed for a series of gorgeous semi-nude boudoir photos for my amateur photographer father. Coincidentally—or not—some of the most successful pieces in my Rhonda Shear Intimates line are a Pin-Up Panty and bra that look a lot like what my mom wore in her pinup photos.)

Mom was raised by my widowed grandmother, the forgotten baby in a crowded household. She escaped the pressure of four overbearing older brothers by losing herself at the movies. Iconic beauties like Betty Grable, Esther Williams, and Rhonda Flemming (who I was named after) were her companions and inspiration, as one day, they would become mine. Mom ended up marrying at nineteen, in part because she dearly loved my dad, but also because she wanted to escape her brothers’ constant oppression.
Mom was a lot tougher than her beauty suggested; years later, I was shocked to find out that twice she’d had to fend off rape attempts. From Grandma Fanny to Mom, the Weaker women excelled both in their looks and in the brains department.
From the time she was a young girl, beauty was everything to my mother. She would wear red lipstick like the pinup girls she admired, reapplying it even after her brothers would wipe it off. Beauty was her way of escaping the austerity of her family life. Later, when she was about fifteen, she entered a local beauty contest. She didn’t even walk across the stage, but her beauty caught the eye of the judges and she won, and a lifelong lover of beauty pageants was born. But it really drove her brothers off the deep end when she eloped with a Reform Jew named Wilbur Shear.
Their meeting was like something from classic television. They were on a double date: she with my dad’s cousin Carl, he with a girl no one remembers. But from the moment Wilbur saw my mother he was smitten. He was driving, and he made sure to drop her off at home last. He got her number, wooed her, sang to her, and six months later they were married.
My father was also a New Orleans native, part of a barely-visible subculture of New Orleans Jews. After he married my mother, Dad worked for the government, the weather bureau, and eventually for her family’s auto parts business. But when he was fifty, he missed one week

of work to have surgery, and his brother-in-law fired him. Imagine being a fifty-year-old man with four kids to feed, a middle-class lifestyle to maintain, and no job. My parents wanted all their kids to graduate from college, but that takes money.
However, I get my dogged persistence from my father. He borrowed $10,000 from a family friend and started his own truck supply company, Fleet Parts and Equipment. It thrived, and with the money from that business, Dad put all of us through college; my two brothers even ran the business alongside him for many years. Unfortunately, while my father saw some of my successes, he died of a heart attack in 1984 at the age of 69. His untimely death—and my absence when he passed—still haunts me. But while I adored my father, I was and am my mother’s daughter.

Beauty Was My Religion

I was born Rhonda Honey Shear on November 12, 1954, when my mother was thirty-seven—at the time, late in life to be giving birth. I may have been born into a Jewish family, but beauty was my religion, and my mother’s love of all things beautiful and feminine made her my high priestess. I was a love child, a mistake, but my mother and father couldn’t have been more delighted to have a baby to dress up and pamper. And was I ever pampered, protected, and babied!
From the beginning Mom dressed me like a doll with long, corkscrew curls and later sent me to dancing and modeling classes. I began lessons at the Ann Maucele School of Dance at the age of two. Ballet, tap, jazz, and acrobatics filled my days with twirls and my nights with dreams of footlights. With all this, from the time I got out of diapers, I was a Southern belle. Mel and

Fred tried to make me a tomboy, even teaching me to throw a mean spiral with a football, but I threw it in heels and a mini-dress.
(Years later, when I auditioned to be a cheerleader in a Budweiser TV commercial, what impressed the director—and probably got me the job—was that I could throw that tight spiral.)

But my mother was really grooming me to marry a prince. For real. She wanted me to marry royalty. In the late ‘90s we both went on the Maury Povich Show for a special Mother’s Day show, and she told Maury, “I want my daughter to marry Prince Charles.” Maury replied, “But he’s married.” To the audience’s delight, Mom snapped, “Eh, small detail.” The crowd roared.
Mom badly wanted me to be a wealthy socialite in New York or California, someone who would only have the finest things. She never wanted me to suffer or go through what she did as a teen. Parents usually want their kids to do better in life than they did, but I wasn’t comfortable with that sort of lifestyle. I’ve dated some incredibly wealthy men in my life, including several billionaires, but I always found that I had more in common with their security guards or domestic help than I did with them.

Shear Honesty: It might seem like hypocrisy to live in a waterfront mansion (which I do), drive a Bentley (which I do, sometimes) and talk about relating better to working-class folks. But it’s really not. There’s a big difference between enjoying fine, expensive things and feeling like you’re entitled to them. I love my lifestyle; it’s the payoff for years of endless work and sacrifice. But none of it matters more than being a good person, being around other good people, helping

others, or just sitting around drinking wine with dear friends. That’s wealth.

Don’t lose sight of what’s important: health, family, friends, laughter.

Actress. Comedian. Award-winning entrepreneur. Builder of a $100 million apparel brand. Television star. Former Miss Louisiana. Candidate for elected office. Philanthropist. And now, author. There aren’t many hats that Rhonda Shear hasn’t tried on, and she’s worn them all with style, moxie, southern charm, and a persistent will to be the best.

A New Orleans native, Rhonda started her journey to the spotlight by dominating local, state, and national beauty pageants from the time she was sixteen—including three turns as Miss Louisiana. In 1976, in the wake of a Playboy modeling scandal that cost her a coveted crown, she became the youngest person ever to run for office in Louisiana, losing her fight for a New Orleans post by only 135 votes.

After that, Hollywood called, and she quickly moved from Bob Hope specials to guest appearances on hundreds of television shows, from Happy Days and Married With Children to appearing on classic Chuck Barris camp-fests like The Gong Show and the $1.98 Beauty Show. Rhonda’s big break came in 1991 when she became the sultry-smart hostess of late-night movie show USA: Up All Night, a gig that lasted until 1999 and made her nationally famous.

After Up All Night ended, Rhonda pursued her love of comedy and quickly became a headliner in Las Vegas and at top comedy clubs like The Laugh Factory and the Improv. At the same time, she reconnected with her childhood sweetheart, Van Fagan, who she hadn’t seen in twenty-five years. After a whirlwind, storybook courtship, they married in 2001.

Rhonda’s latest chapter began when she appeared on the Home Shopping Network to sell women’s intimates. Her appearance was a sensation, and she and Van quickly started a company, Shear Enterprises, LLC, to design, manufacture and sell Rhonda’s own line of women’s intimate wear. Today, that company has grown to more than $100 million in annual sales, and Rhonda has won numerous entrepreneurship awards—though she still refers to herself as a “bimbopreneur.”

Today, Rhonda and Van live in a magnificent house in St. Petersburg, Florida, where she engages in many philanthropic projects, supports numerous charities for women, and works on new books.




Wednesday Spotlight: Abuse of Discretion by Pamela Samuels Young


Abuse of Discretion, by Pamela Samuels Young, Mystery, Goldman House Publishing,352 pp., $3.99 (Kindle Edition)

A Kid’s Curiosity … A Parent’s Nightmare

The award-winning author of "Anybody’s Daughter" is back with an addictive courtroom drama that gives readers a shocking look inside the juvenile criminal justice system.

Graylin Alexander is a model fourteen-year-old. When his adolescent curiosity gets the best of him, Graylin finds himself embroiled in a sexting scandal that threatens to ruin his life. Jenny Ungerman, the attorney hired to defend Graylin, is smart, confident and committed. She isn’t thrilled, however, when ex-prosecutor Angela Evans joins Graylin’s defense team. The two women instantly butt heads. Can they put aside their differences long enough to ensure Graylin gets justice?

Unbeknownst to Angela, her boyfriend Dre is wrestling with his own drama. Someone from his past wants him dead. For Dre, his response is simple—kill or be killed.

“What’s the matter, Mrs. Singletary? Why do I have to go to the principal’s office?”
I’m walking side-by-side down the hallway with my second-period teacher. Students are huddled together staring and pointing at us like we’re zoo animals. When a teacher at Marcus Preparatory Academy escorts you to the principal’s office, it’s a big deal. Nothing like this has ever happened to me before. I’m a good student. I never get in trouble.
Mrs. Singletary won’t answer my questions or even look at me. I hope she knows she’s only making me more nervous.
“Mrs. Singletary, please tell me what’s wrong?”
“Just follow me. You’ll find out in a minute.”
I’m about to ask her another question when it hits me. Something happened to my mama!
My mama has been on and off drugs for as long as I can remember. I haven’t seen her in months and I don’t even know where she lives. No one does. I act like it doesn’t bother me, but it does. I’ve prayed to God a million times to get her off drugs. Even though my granny says God answers prayers, He hasn’t answered mine, so I stopped asking.
I jump in front of my teacher, forcing her to stop. “Was there a death in my family, Mrs. Singletary? Did something happen to my mama?”
“No, there wasn’t a death.”
She swerves around me and keeps going. I have to take giant steps to keep up with her.
Once we’re inside the main office, Mrs. Singletary points at a wooden chair outside Principal Keller’s office. “Have a seat and don’t move.”
She goes into the principal’s office and closes the door. My head begins to throb like somebody’s banging on it from the inside. I close my eyes and try to calm down. I didn’t do anything wrong. It’s probably just—Oh snap! The picture!
I slide down in the chair and pull my iPhone from my right pocket. My hands are trembling so bad I have to concentrate to keep from dropping it. I open the photos app and delete the last picture on my camera roll. If anyone saw that picture, I’d be screwed.
Loud voices seep through the closed door. I lean forward, straining to hear. It almost sounds like Mrs. Singletary and Principal Keller are arguing.

“It’s only an allegation. We don’t even know if it’s true.”
“I don’t care. We have to follow protocol.”
“Can’t you at least check his phone first?”
“I’m not putting myself in the middle of this mess. I've already made the call.”

The call? I can’t believe Principal Keller called my dad without even giving me a chance to defend myself. How’d she even find out about the picture?  
The door swings open and I almost jump out of my skin. The principal crooks her finger at me. “Come in here, son.”
Trudging into her office, I sit down on a red cloth chair that’s way more comfortable than the hard one outside. My heart is beating so fast it feels like it might jump out of my chest.
The only time I’ve ever been in Principal Keller’s office was the day my dad enrolled me in school. Mrs. Singletary is standing in front of the principal’s desk with her arms folded. I hope she’s going to stay here with me, but a second later, she walks out and closes the door.
Principal Keller sits on the edge of her desk, looking down at me. “Graylin, do you have any inappropriate pictures on your cell phone?”
“Huh?” I try to keep a straight face. “No, ma’am.”
“It’s been brought to my attention that you have an inappropriate picture—a naked picture—of Kennedy Carlyle on your phone. Is that true?”
“No…uh…No, ma’am.” Thank God I deleted it!
“This is a very serious matter, young man. So, I need you to tell me the truth.”
“No, ma’am.” I shake my head so hard my cheeks vibrate. “I don’t have anything like that on my phone.”
“I pray to God you’re telling me the truth.”
I don’t want to ask this next question, but I have to know. “Um, so you called my dad?”
“Yes, I did. He’s on his way down here now.”
I hug myself and start rocking back and forth. Even though I deleted the picture, my dad is still going to kill me for having to leave work in the middle of the day.
“I also made another call.”
At first I’m confused. Then I realize Mrs. Keller must’ve called my granny too. At least she’ll keep my dad from going ballistic.
“So you called my granny?”
“No.” The principal’s cheeks puff up like she’s about to blow something away. “I called the police.”

Pamela Samuels Young has always abided by the philosophy that you create the change you want to see. She set giant-sized goals and used her talent, tenacity and positive outlook to accomplish them. Pamela consequently achieved success in both the corporate arena and literary world simultaneously.
An author, attorney and motivational speaker, Pamela spent fifteen years as Managing Counsel for Toyota, specializing in labor and employment law. While still practicing law, Pamela began moonlighting as a mystery writer because of the absence of women and people of color depicted in the legal thrillers she read. She is now an award-winning author of multiple legal thrillers, including Anybody’s Daughter, which won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Fiction, and her new release, Abuse of Discretion, a shocking look at the juvenile justice system in the context of a troubling teen sexting case.
Prior to her legal career, spent several years as a television news writer and associate producer. She received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from USC and earned a master’s degree in broadcasting from Northwestern University and a law degree from UC Berkeley School of Law. She is a frequent speaker on the topics of teen sexting, child sex trafficking, self-empowerment and fiction writing.




Friday Reads Book Spotlight: Survivors' Dawn by Ashley Warren @survivorsdawn #fridayreads

We are thrilled to be hosting Ashley Warren's Survivors' Dawn Blog Tour this month! Sign up to win a free copy by filling out form below. Good luck!

Author: Ashley Warren
Publisher: Chaparral Press LLC
Pages: 316
Genre: Contemporary Fiction / Women’s Fiction / New Adult Fiction


A heroic story of three college women’s fight for justice
At first glance, Brooke Flanagan, Lauren Le, and Nikki Towers have little in common: a churchgoing virgin, a party girl, and a resident advisor. But they all have their own dreams, dreams that can be shattered in a single night.

When freshman Brooke Flanagan first arrives at the university, she’s excited to escape her sheltered life in a Southern town. Lauren Le, a scholarship student, likes to have a good time, but she never disappoints her hardworking, single mom. Nikki Towers always goes her own way. Confident, poised, and wealthy, Nikki’s biggest problem is what to do with her future.

Into these girls’ lives walks Colin Jordan. Colin is the son of a private equity titan, captain of his club basketball team, and a brilliant pre-law student. He is also a sexual predator.

Survivors’ Dawn relates a journey of heroes: the strength, courage, and determination of the victims as they fight to survive; the obstacles they face in their pursuit of justice; and finally, with its conclusion, hope for a future where students can pursue their dreams without fear of being attacked.

A contemporary novel, Survivor’s Dawn wrestles with issues of privilege, sexual assault, and the responsibility of academic institutions to protect their students.



Book Excerpt:

At eleven thirty Lauren Le stood with her new friends at the Homestead, a lively bar in the Triangle. Everyone talked at once, shouting to be heard above the music. The Homestead had space for a couple hundred people, with a large square bar in the middle, dozens of stand-up tables, and two dance floors. The constant beat and the bass notes coursed through Lauren’s veins.
She took a slug of the vodka soda.
Pace yourself, Lauren.
It had taken her a month to get comfortable on campus. She had grown up in Irving, Texas, outside of Dallas, and had never traveled this far to the east before starting school here. Some of her high school friends had gone to college, but none as far away as Lauren. They fell short when it came to grades and test scores and ambition.
Lauren was the result of a short-lived and reckless affair between a Vietnamese immigrant, Kim Le, who worked in a nail salon, and a tall Texan who lit out for the oil rigs as soon as Kim missed her first period. Kim had never heard from him again, and she seldom mentioned him to Lauren. As Lauren grew older she became curious and would sometimes ask about her father.
“I was stupid,” Kim had said. “I tried for a big dream with a big white man. But he was no good.”
When Lauren pressed for more information, Kim would grow adamant.
“You forget about him. You need to study.”
If Kim wasn’t working at the salon, a short distance from their apartment, she was doing piecework for a local tailor. Kim never paid Lauren an allowance, but she let her work a part-time job so long as she kept her grades near perfect.
With a tired mother and an absent father, Lauren was forced to learn how to have a good time on her own, and at that she had excelled. As a senior with a full figure, a fun nature—her hobbies were cosplay, online gaming, and organizing flash mobs—and a curious mind about partying and sex, Lauren had always attracted guys.
She had drunk one cocktail at the Italian restaurant and started with a shot of tequila at the Homestead. When they had first arrived, the girls danced as a group for nearly an hour, not allowing the dearth of boys to deter them from getting the party started.
Lauren took a break, her head buzzing slightly from the alcohol and the dancing. Cool air from the duct above her whisked away the perspiration.
God, college is fun.
The bar began to fill, and boys drifted by their group in ones and twos. A sophomore from New Jersey bought her another drink. He was her height, with red hair, and talked fast in a northern accent. He was almost cute, except for a big pimple and his lack of coordination. They tried dancing but couldn’t make it work. Afterward, he told her his dream of becoming a veterinarian. Snore.
Lauren spied one of the resident advisors from Roxbury Hall, Nikki Towers, watching her from the other side of the bar. The girls had approached Nikki when they first entered the Homestead, nervous because they had used fake IDs to get past the bouncer. They needn’t have worried. Nikki’s nickname was Cool RA. She had a reputation for doing her own thing in her own way and never traveling in a crowd. Cool RA had wished them a good time but advised them not to get wasted. (“I’m your RA, not your babysitter.”) Nevertheless, when Lauren caught Nikki’s eye, she could tell Cool RA was not impressed with the New Jersey kid.
“So…,” he said, “do you want to come over to the frat house and listen to music? I’ve got some killer weed.”
His eyes were glazed and his shoulders swayed, like a five-year-old on a bicycle. Lauren wasn’t a fan of just-met sex. If he had been gorgeous, like Liam Hemsworth, then maybe. Wait, maybe? Not maybe. Definitely! But she would not have sex with New Jersey, at least not tonight. “You know, I’m gonna hang with my friends a while longer. Thanks, though.”
“Not a problem. Catch you later.”
He leaned toward her as if expecting something. She hesitated, unsure, and then offered to shake hands. He only got about ten steps before he stopped to chat up another girl.
“What did he want?” said Caitlyn, her roommate. Caitlyn’s face turned sour as Lauren told her of the invite to smoke pot. “Eewww! That guy?”
They laughed. Lauren was light as a feather. She could party all night.
At two thirty in the morning an Uber dropped Lauren outside Roxbury Hall. Lighting a cigarette, she gazed up at the three-story brick building and remembered move-in day, how excited she’d been; her mother and aunt and uncle had come to help. What had she wanted then? Freedom? Relief from her mother’s watchful eyes? Yes, that was part of it, but she’d hoped for a lot more.
Lauren had smoked pot with her latest score, a hipster from California, and now her head felt heavy and thick. After the joint he had wanted to have sex again. She had no urge for an encore but couldn’t think of a polite way to turn him down. What did that make in total? Three? Four? Five counting the blackout sex with Colin Jordan. Five boys (men?) in four weeks. What the hell? So weird. The hookups were like gorging on pizza, but the gnawing emptiness she’d felt after Colin hadn’t abated at all.
What did she have on the calendar for the next day? A couple lectures: Psychology and English Lit. She might make it to class, or she might not. They were easy courses anyway. Crushing the butt beneath her heel, she tossed it in a trashcan and walked through the door.
Inside Lauren’s dorm room, Caitlyn sat at her desk reading a textbook with her earbuds in.
“Hey,” said Lauren. “What are you doing up so late?”
Caitlyn turned in her chair. “Studying for the psych test.” She sniffed the air.
What? Caitlyn never studied this late. Lauren walked to Caitlyn’s side and saw, sure enough, that the fat psych book was open a third of the way through.
“What for? The test is next week.”
“It’s tomorrow.”
“No, it’s next week.”
“It’s tomorrow. I texted you to study together, but you never answered. Where’ve you been?”
Lauren ignored Caitlyn and walked to her desk to check her laptop. The test had to be next week; she’d skipped a few classes and hadn’t read the book. “What?”
“I asked where you’ve been.”
“The Homestead. I went for a drink.”
Fuck! Caitlyn was right. The test was that morning—less than seven hours away. Lauren shook her head. The buzz from the pot had turned into a headache. How did she mess this up? Caitlyn was saying something else.
“You smell like cigarettes and pot. Where did you smoke pot?”
“Uh…I stopped at this guy’s place to party.”
“On a Tuesday? Shit, Lauren. What the fuck?”
“Hey, you’re not my mom. Chill the fuck out.”
After a shower and some caffeine, Lauren reviewed her notes and opened the textbook. Caitlyn had gone to sleep, and Lauren’s desk lamp made shadows on the floor. The quiet of the room calmed her, and for the first twenty minutes she made progress, covered the better part of a chapter, but then her eyelids grew heavy, and the words blurred on the page. A short nap would clear her head and allow her to absorb the material with her usual speed. She set a twenty-minute timer on her phone, lay down, and closed her eyes. The psychology concepts quickly drifted away.
* * *
Lauren sat in the classroom, breathing fast; her eyes flitted back and forth over the questions. Half of the class had already finished and left. She flipped back several pages. Damn. There had to be another question she could answer, but she couldn’t find it, and after another minute the professor called time.
She had woken at eight thirty to Caitlyn roughly shaking her shoulder.
“Wake up! It’s time to go. I woke you twice already.”
With no time to even brush her teeth, Lauren had pulled on boots and a clean top and walked with Caitlyn to class. She had never felt so unprepared.
And now she’d failed the test. Fucking flat-ass failed it.
Outside in the bright sunlight, Caitlyn stopped to face her. Her eyes peered into Lauren’s, her ever-present smile nowhere to be seen.
“How’d you do?” said Caitlyn.
“Awful. I really fucked up.”
“I’m sorry. You know…I tried to text you.”
Lauren’s legs were numb. Adrenaline had fired her up during the exam, but now all the energy had burned off.
Caitlyn headed off to another class, and Lauren trudged to the student union. She’d spent the last of her cash on cigarettes. Once inside, she made it to the ATM and took out ten dollars.
She stared at the red and white logo on the touchscreen.
Bank of America.
Her mother’s apartment was two blocks from a branch. Kim would deposit cash tips at the drive-thru while Lauren sat in the passenger seat. Some days at the salon were hard. The owner would berate the workers for not learning English. But the drive-thru had always lifted Kim’s spirits. On the way out she’d pause to look at the B of A sign and say the same thing every time: “Your future is in this bank.”
Lauren took two steps and her knees softened. She turned her back against the wall and sank until her butt touched the floor.
Don’t cry. Don’t.
But her throat tightened and warm tears forced their way through closed eyelids. She sat with elbows on knees, her hands over her face. Silent sobs shook her shoulders. Students walked past in the hallway, busy, with classes to attend, futures to build. Two girls giggled, happy, oblivious.
Fuck. What was happening? She was freefalling into black air.
Someone said something. A man’s running shoes appeared through spread fingers.
“Are you all right?” he said.
Lauren pressed her palms against her eyes to rub away the tears. She wouldn’t compound her failure by making people pity her, too. Pushing off the tiled floor she stood, pulled her backpack over her shoulder, and faced him.
“You looked kind of sad,” he said.
Who was this guy? What was his game? Not bad looking, with strong shoulders and a relaxed vibe, faded jeans and a simple black T-shirt.
“Do you want to fuck me?” she said.
“What?” His mouth opened. “No!” He stepped back and thrust his hands in front as if to ward her off. “What’s the matter with you?”
Several students stopped, sensing an incident of interest.
Lauren marched away from the onlookers. She ran upstairs to the second floor and exited onto the grounds on top of the hill. She kept walking, past the admissions building and the Old Chapel and onto Philosopher’s Row. She took one of the paths into the side gardens and dropped on a bench.
She rocked slowly, hugging her arms. God, how pathetic was that? What would she do next? She wanted to skip class and walk to the Homestead for an early afternoon cocktail.
As if clinging to the edge of a dark abyss, Lauren tried to hold on, her stomach roiling, her arms shaking. She had propositioned the boy, because she had wanted to fuck him. She wanted to fuck a guy…any guy…every guy.
But why? She’d never done that before. Never on the first night…that was her rule, one she’d broken how many times now? Five.
She grasped the edge of the stone bench, squeezing, ignoring the grating surface against her fingers. A bird sang from a nearby tree. The bird flew from one tree to the next, a flash of red, a cardinal. It settled for a few moments on the branch of a maple tree, whose leaves had begun to turn, sang, and flew off.
The cardinal reminded her of Todd, the gay guy she’d met three weeks earlier, with his bright plumage and sweet song. What had Todd told her as they waited for the Uber driver? Something about the dean of student affairs. Maybe she should check it out.

 About the Author

The unending accounts of sexual assault on college campuses compelled me to write Survivors’ Dawn.

My goal in writing the novel was NOT to focus on the act itself, but instead, to write of the victim’s journey, to tell a story about the strength, courage, and determination of survivors, to describe the difficulties they face in their pursuit of justice, and finally, to offer hope for a future where students can pursue their dreams without fear of being attacked.

As Lady Gaga’s “Til It Happens to You” implies, non-victims can never truly know how it feels to be assaulted, but we can try to empathize, and we can try to help. Awareness is key to reducing the incidence of sexual assault on campus. Please do your part by taking the It's On Us pledge and contributing to organizations that are fighting on the front lines.

Thank you to readers who give me encouragement. It means so much to me. Word of mouth is an incredible thing, so thank you also for telling your friends about Survivors' Dawn. 


Giveaway Details:

Ashley Warren is giving away a FREE Kindle copy of SURVIVORS' DREAM!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter.
  • This giveaway ends midnight March 30.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on March 31.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!


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