booksunlimited by Milano52
Book reviews, author's interviews and everything about books...
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Poet, Model, Figure Skater And Inspiration For Young People, Elizabeth Pipko Came To The International Book Expo in New York
by Milano52
Jun 02, 2018 | 72 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Exclusive interview by Tiziano Thomas Dossena

Elizabeth Pipko, 22, was born and raised in New York City. At ten years old she discovered her love of figure skating and moved with her family to Florida in order to pursue her dream of becoming a competitive athlete. She competed for years in various competitions across the United States before suffering a devastating injury at 15, after which doctors told her that she would never skate again. During her long recovery, Elizabeth finished and published her first collection of poetry, “Sweet Sixteen” in 2013. She also began her modeling career, being featured in DT magazine, Maxim, Esquire and many more.  Elizabeth also starred in the Vizcaya Swimwear “Perfectly Imperfect” campaign, an anti-photoshop campaign promoting positive body image which was covered by major publications such as PEOPLE and Vanity Fair Italia. After years of physical therapy, Elizabeth has made her return to the ice, defying all odds and hoping to inspire those around her. Elizabeth is currently a student at the Harvard extension school, majoring in legal studies and double minoring in religion and math. Her second collection of poetry, “About You,” is due for release in early summer 2018. She will appear at the International Book Expo in New York City.

Tiziano Thomas Dossena: You are a poet, a model, a figure skater and so much more, even though you are only 22. Which one is the title you feel depicts you more accurately and why?

Elizabeth Pipko: I think I am a figure skater before I am anything else. And I say that certainly not because I am a brilliant skater, but because figure skating is where I found myself. Only after discovering the sport did I discover who I was and who I wanted to be. Everything in my life changed when I fell in love with the sport. Some things got better and some things got worse, but somehow it all felt extremely right. I felt like I was born to be a figure skater when I first fell in love with the ice at ten years old, and I think I’ll forever feel that way.

Tiziano Thomas DossenaDid you always have the poetry bug in you or was it inspired by your life events?

Elizabeth Pipko: I think I’ve always liked writing and felt as if I was better at it than I was in certain other things, but it was never something I did regularly. Only after certain life events caused me to need to find an outlet for my emotions did I realize how much I enjoyed poetry.

Tiziano Thomas DossenaWhat is your poetry about

Elizabeth Pipko: It’s about a lot of things… For me, I used poetry to express the heartbreak I felt as a sixteen-year-old girl trying to deal with a devastating injury (that took skating away from me) as well as the very common heartbreaks that a sixteen year old girl may face. My second book, About You, was written about my injury and losing the ability to skate, but without ever directly mentioning those words. I wanted people to be able to connect with the words and emotions that I was feeling regardless of what or who it was that they were longing for.

Tiziano Thomas DossenaHow important was it to you to return to ice skating and why?

Elizabeth Pipko: It was extremely important to me for many reasons. My parents raised me not to be a quitter. My mom taught me to always follow my dreams, and always prepared me for the many obstacles I would have to overcome in order to do that. And more importantly, showed me how to overcome those obstacles with everything I’ve watched her deal with in her career (she’s possibly the most incredible concert pianist you’ve ever heard). I always knew that this was something I had to do. And whether I make a full recovery and reach the top levels of the sport or just overcome the obstacles that come with trying to skate through pain every day, I’ll always be proud of myself for not giving up.

Tiziano Thomas DossenaIn your bio it says you moved from New York to Florida to ice skate and that may confuse our readers, considering the climate of the two cities. Could you elaborate on that?

Elizabeth Pipko: It does sound quite funny now that I think about it! Competitive figure skaters train in skating rinks indoors, so the climate outside is not really the one that we focus on. I discovered incredible coaches, actually completely on accident and without ever planning on pursuing skating, and they’re the ones that introduced me to skating and believed in me from the start. So, my parents and brother packed up and moved down to Florida in order for me to skate with those coaches and follow my dream. 

Photo by Nayo Martinez

Tiziano Thomas Dossena: You participated as a model in the campaign “Perfectly imperfect”. Could you explain what that is about?

Elizabeth Pipko: Yup! So Lisa (the owner of Vizcaya swimwear) and I really bonded over what we had been through with dealing with negative comments and cyber bullying and decided to do something using those experiences. We wanted to do something special and something that would feel natural, and also inspire people not to be ashamed of the skin they were born in. The point of the campaign was to show the swimwear and how good it made you feel to be wearing it, and we decided that we could do that without needing an ounce of retouching! Just like in life.

Tiziano Thomas Dossena: Would you have a special message for our readers? And maybe a suggestion for our young readers?

Elizabeth Pipko: Always always always follow your dreams! I promise people will stand in your way, sometimes even people who you thought were your biggest fans. But the ONLY person that you needed believing in you, in order to succeed, is YOU.

For more information on Elizabeth Pipko, visit Elizabethpipko.com



Read more: Queens Ledger - Breaking news, classifieds, businesses, events in Queens, New York. 
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Poet, International Model, Figure Skater And Inspiration For Young People, Elizabeth Pipko Will Come To The International Book Expo
by Milano52
May 28, 2018 | 80 views | 0 0 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
 
Poet, model, figure skater and inspiration for young people, Elizabeth Pipko will come to the International Book Expo

Exclusive interview by Tiziano Thomas Dossena

Elizabeth Pipko, 22, was born and raised in New York City. At ten years old she discovered her love of figure skating and moved with her family to Florida in order to pursue her dream of becoming a competitive athlete. She competed for years in various competitions across the United States before suffering a devastating injury at 15, after which doctors told her that she would never skate again. During her long recovery, Elizabeth finished and published her first collection of poetry, “Sweet Sixteen” in 2013. She also began her modeling career, being featured in DT magazine, Maxim, Esquire and many more.  Elizabeth also starred in the Vizcaya Swimwear “Perfectly Imperfect” campaign, an anti-photoshop campaign promoting positive body image which was covered by major publications such as PEOPLE and Vanity Fair Italia. After years of physical therapy, Elizabeth has made her return to the ice, defying all odds and hoping to inspire those around her. Elizabeth is currently a student at the Harvard extension school, majoring in legal studies and double minoring in religion and math. Her second collection of poetry, “About You,” is due for release in early summer 2018. She will appear at the International Book Expo in New York City.

Tiziano Thomas Dossena: You are a poet, a model, a figure skater and so much more, even though you are only 22. Which one is the title you feel depicts you more accurately and why?

Elizabeth Pipko: I think I am a figure skater before I am anything else. And I say that certainly not because I am a brilliant skater, but because figure skating is where I found myself. Only after discovering the sport did I discover who I was and who I wanted to be. Everything in my life changed when I fell in love with the sport. Some things got better and some things got worse, but somehow it all felt extremely right. I felt like I was born to be a figure skater when I first fell in love with the ice at ten years old, and I think I’ll forever feel that way.

Tiziano Thomas DossenaDid you always have the poetry bug in you or was it inspired by your life events?

Elizabeth Pipko: I think I’ve always liked writing and felt as if I was better at it than I was in certain other things, but it was never something I did regularly. Only after certain life events caused me to need to find an outlet for my emotions did I realize how much I enjoyed poetry.

Tiziano Thomas DossenaWhat is your poetry about

Elizabeth Pipko: It’s about a lot of things… For me, I used poetry to express the heartbreak I felt as a sixteen-year-old girl trying to deal with a devastating injury (that took skating away from me) as well as the very common heartbreaks that a sixteen year old girl may face. My second book, About You, was written about my injury and losing the ability to skate, but without ever directly mentioning those words. I wanted people to be able to connect with the words and emotions that I was feeling regardless of what or who it was that they were longing for.

Tiziano Thomas DossenaHow important was it to you to return to ice skating and why?

Elizabeth Pipko: It was extremely important to me for many reasons. My parents raised me not to be a quitter. My mom taught me to always follow my dreams, and always prepared me for the many obstacles I would have to overcome in order to do that. And more importantly, showed me how to overcome those obstacles with everything I’ve watched her deal with in her career (she’s possibly the most incredible concert pianist you’ve ever heard). I always knew that this was something I had to do. And whether I make a full recovery and reach the top levels of the sport or just overcome the obstacles that come with trying to skate through pain every day, I’ll always be proud of myself for not giving up.

Tiziano Thomas DossenaIn your bio it says you moved from New York to Florida to ice skate and that may confuse our readers, considering the climate of the two cities. Could you elaborate on that?

Elizabeth Pipko: It does sound quite funny now that I think about it! Competitive figure skaters train in skating rinks indoors, so the climate outside is not really the one that we focus on. I discovered incredible coaches, actually completely on accident and without ever planning on pursuing skating, and they’re the ones that introduced me to skating and believed in me from the start. So, my parents and brother packed up and moved down to Florida in order for me to skate with those coaches and follow my dream. 

Photo by Nayo Martinez

Tiziano Thomas Dossena: You participated as a model in the campaign “Perfectly imperfect”. Could you explain what that is about?

Elizabeth Pipko: Yup! So Lisa (the owner of Vizcaya swimwear) and I really bonded over what we had been through with dealing with negative comments and cyber bullying and decided to do something using those experiences. We wanted to do something special and something that would feel natural, and also inspire people not to be ashamed of the skin they were born in. The point of the campaign was to show the swimwear and how good it made you feel to be wearing it, and we decided that we could do that without needing an ounce of retouching! Just like in life.

Tiziano Thomas Dossena: Would you have a special message for our readers? And maybe a suggestion for our young readers?

Elizabeth Pipko: Always always always follow your dreams! I promise people will stand in your way, sometimes even people who you thought were your biggest fans. But the ONLY person that you needed believing in you, in order to succeed, is YOU.

For more information on Elizabeth Pipko, visit Elizabethpipko.com

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Adolph Caso, a voice for Italian Americans, decries the attacks on Columbus
by Milano52
May 14, 2018 | 8008 views | 0 0 comments | 474 474 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Interview by Tiziano Thomas Dossena

I met Adolph Caso the first time at the International Book Show in New York City and he struck me as a person who loves books more than anything in the world. Only later on I discovered his interests were not only in publishing but also in writing, translating, teaching and standing up for the Italian American community. In this period of confusion in which some people attempt to rewrite history to please a few, regardless of the accuracy of the rewriting, having a scholar of the level of Adolph Caso on the right side of the case is optimal and I felt that our readers would be happy to find out more about him. Here follows, then, a brief interview that will introduce Mr. Caso. There are link you can follow to discover more about his many activities.

Link on his author’s page on Amazon

Link to Dante Press




Tiziano Thomas Dossena: You are a respected editor, but also a prolific writer and educator on your own. Which profession do you identify the most with?

Adolph Caso: I am a poet, therefore, of independent mind. In my poetry, I reveal and share the things and ideas that appear within me. {Click here to read his poem Filtering Energy}

Tiziano Thomas Dossena: You wrote more than one article regarding the “Columbus statue” issue. Do you confirm your belief that this attempted rewriting of history is actually a not-too-veiled act of discrimination toward Italian Americans in general? What do you think we as a community should do to counteract this offensive on Columbus?

Adolph Caso: Columbus was not a Spaniard, nor Portuguese, and not a Jew. He was from Genoa. Next to Jesus, Columbus did more for mankind than anyone on discovering a route that led to the Americas. Millions and millions of people have derived benefits as a result of Columbus, and not from any other individual, including his ignorant and empty-headed critics.



Tiziano Thomas Dossena: Regarding Columbus, you published TO AMERICA AND AROUND THE WORLD–The Logs of Colum­bus and Magellan. Do you feel people who make wild accusations about Columbus should definitely read this book and why?

Adolph Caso: The rationale behind this publication was to place before the readers the very words of Columbus himself and not the prejudicial opinions of prejudiced critics. Example, Columbus never dealt with nor captured people to turn them into slaves, as evidenced in his writings.



Tiziano Thomas Dossena: Your autobiographical book “Boy Destined to America” was actually written in 1966 and it has just been published. Could you tell us the story behind this book?

Adolph Caso: My writing professor told us to write a book about ourselves rather than about others because we know who we are. So, during the summer of 1966, I wrote my autobiography and placed the manuscript on the shelf. By chance, a couple of years ago, I re-discovered it, and the rest is history.

Tiziano Thomas Dossena: You also wrote THE KàSO ENGLISH TO ITALIAN DICTIONARY. What is this book about?

Adolph Caso: Yes, the title is, The Kaso English to Italian Phonemic Dictionary. My goal was to show that Italian is based on a phoneme system because it uses the one-to-one principle between symbols and sounds, thus making Italian a system whose phonology is the most scientific, and very adaptable to our computer age.



Tiziano Thomas Dossena: Dante University offers online many free courses taught by you and other professors. What are they and how can you take them?

Adolph Caso: The Irish have their Boston College, etc. The Italian Americans have no similar institution per se. My dream remains unfulfilled. My hope is that that dread will be fulfilled by someone else. {Link to courses}

Tiziano Thomas Dossena: Were you the founder of Dante University Press? (Please say when it was born and other info, such as its relationship to Branden, etc…) What was the goal you tried to achieve?

Adolph Caso: The hope was to establish a press that would allow individuals better opportunities to publish their works about the Italian American experience. Except for a few publications, nothing more came out of it. The community never supported it.

Tiziano Thomas Dossena: You also published THE KASO VERB CONJUGATION SYSTEM and BILINGUAL TWO LANGUAGE ASSESSMENT BATTERY OF TESTS, showing a strong interest in bilingual education. Were you a teacher or is this interest only tied to your deep knowledge of the Italian language?

Adolph Caso: My goal was to show the greatness of the language’s phonology I invested time and money in writing and in publishing the book that no one bought.

Tiziano Thomas Dossena: Do you have any projects for the near future that you are working on at this time? (If not, skip the question)

Adolph Caso: Typically, I never stop working, my latest being, Amalfi-Re-Visited, which has failed to sell in any significant way.

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Dr. Mary Rorro, The “Violin Doc,” An Exclusive Interview
by Milano52
Apr 29, 2018 | 11716 views | 0 0 comments | 988 988 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

An interview by Tiziano Thomas Dossena

She was nicknamed “The Violin Doc” in a book by Lisa Wong entitled “Scales to Scalpels, Doctors Who Practice the Healing Arts of Music and Medicine;”  a talented professional viola player and a respected psychiatrist who uses her music to heal veterans, Dr. Mary Rorro is so much more and we are proud to present an exclusive interview with this bright star of the medical field who is finding many ways to help her patients.



 Tiziano T. Dossena: You are a psychiatrist working with veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and blending music and poetry into your practice. It seems that music has always been a major factor in your life. Could you tell us when did you start to use music as a healing tool? {Talk about your Music major, awards but also about the middle school and following years too, please)

Dr. Mary Rorro: When I was six and a half years old, my mother showed me her little violin that she used to play as a child.  I cherished that violin and toted it around in its diminutive case.  My mother, my talented brother Michael and I used to play together to Suzuki records, and listened to Italian arias and Neapolitan songs with my grandparents. The first time I witnessed the power of music was as my grandfather was dying in his hospital bed.  I played Toselli’s Serenade for him, a favorite song he frequently requested.  His last words were “More music.” As a candy striper in high school, my mother encouraged me to entertain the ill patients under my charge.  She witnessed as I played for a depressed cancer patient who had not spoken for months, who suddenly began to sing along with my violin to Christmas carols, bringing the nurses to tears.  That inspiring moment influenced me to combine my desire to be a physician and blend music into my profession. We recognized the healing power of music to those suffering that day. My mother was so proud. I wanted to make her happy by sharing music with others, who needed it in the most essential way.

I majored in music and minored in biology at Bryn Mawr College and received the first Performing Arts Prize ever awarded at the college.  Bryn Mawr encouraged leadership opportunities for women and service to others.  I organized two benefit concerts for St. Christopher’s Hospital for children with AIDS, as President and first violist of the Bryn Mawr–Haverford College Symphony.  I developed a program in medical school and psychiatry residency called “Musical Rounds: The Next Best Thing to Grand Rounds,” and “From Soup to Notes,” to perform for people in soup kitchens.

Tiziano T. Dossena: Besides your practice, you also created a program of volunteers with a similar goal, “A Few Good Notes.” Could you tell us about it?

Dr. Mary Rorro: Given the enthusiastic response from my previous musical experiences, I wanted to introduce music into the lives of the veterans at my clinic and the New Jersey VA Healthcare System. I started a program called “A Few Good Notes,” in which I play viola for the patients in the group therapy sessions and individually in my office.  Some of my patients used to play instruments, and hearing me encouraged them to resume their musical instruments and join me in the program.  One of my patients brought his Dixieland band in to entertain nursing home patients with me in the Lyons VA.  The quiet room was instantly transformed with the sound of patients singing along to the upbeat rhythms.  Another patient, after hearing me play Amazing Grace in the office, was inspired to pick up his guitar again and also start reading the Bible, after he contemplated the words in the song.

I initiated a program at the VA that provides free guitar lessons for veterans, which enables them to experience the joy of music first hand.  We have volunteer guitar instructors who give generously of their time and it allows for engagement with other veterans in the Guitar Instruction Group (GIG.)  The clinic is now filled with the strumming sounds of vets on their instruments, and the waiting list for lessons is a long one.

Every year, we carol in Lyons and East Orange hospitals and recruit other employees to share their time and talents with veterans.  The program has been expanded nationally in the VA.  Some patients and employees who are part of our Healing Arts committee bring their guitars and other instruments, and sing along to my viola.

Music draws out stories from the patients, including one Vietnam vet who remembered his platoon sang Silent Night on a hill in Vietnam, causing a cease fire for that time on Christmas Eve.  Music evokes powerful emotions and enables the therapists and me to process them with the patients in group therapy settings.

The program has been featured on WQXR, the former classical music station of the New York Times, WNYC radio, the Dr. Oz website, the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies and AOL’s Homepage for Heroes.  I was featured as “The Violin Doc,” in the book “Scales for Scalpels: Doctors Who Practice the Healing Arts of Music and Medicine,” by Lisa Wong, M.D.

Princeton Memorial ceremony at Monument Hall (Click on the picture to view a video on YouTube of Dr. Mary Rorro’s program for the veterans)

 Tiziano T. Dossena: You clearly had a call for music and became a professional violist. When and how did the call for medicine, and in particular psychiatry, come about? 

Dr. Mary Rorro: When I was 4 years old, I was riding in the car with my mother, and she asked what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I quickly responded, “A doctor, because I want to help people.”  My parents always encouraged me in my dream, from which I never wavered.  I was influenced by many members of my family, who were role models. I spent time in my father’s busy primary care practice, and observed grateful patients leaving his office.  He went on house calls early in the morning for people who he knew couldn’t afford to pay, but was dedicated to helping them.  My Aunt, Mary A. Rorro, M.D. was one of the trailblazing women physicians of her area.  Her “Uncle Doc” graduated from Hahnemann Medical School and encouraged her to go there from a young age.  Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s father, Samuel Alito Sr., was her teacher in high school and he awarded her with the science medal.  He knew she wanted to be a doctor and told her, “Never be discouraged from your dream.” She still has the report card envelope where he wrote other encouraging words about her future, since she valued them so much.  She graduated from Hahnemann in 1958, and married my Uncle Al.  He and my Uncle John also served the community as physicians. My Aunt Celeste received her Doctorate in Education and was Director of Teacher Certification and Academic Credentials in New Jersey.

I became interested in psychiatry after a rotation at UMDNJ-SOM medical school at a New Jersey state hospital.  Psychiatry seemed like a perfect way to blend narratives, creativity, and the arts into the medical profession.  I entered a Harvard Medical School program for psychiatry residency and began working with veterans in the VA system as well as other mental health institutes in Boston, including McLean Hospital, Cambridge Hospital.  Following residency, I completed a psychiatry Fellowship in Addiction Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.  The years of tests and training, long nights on call, sleeping on scratchy sheets, were all worth it when someone says, “You changed my life.”  I consider that to be a complement to my parents, because without their constant love and support, I would not be able to help my patients and hear those words.

 Tiziano T. Dossena: Your poetry is very poignant and inspirational, bringing images of war and tortured souls. Do you write only about veterans’ experiences?

Dr. Mary Rorro: Veterans’ stories of trauma, grief, and loss inspired me to write poetry meant to help patients, and to honor them.  Some poems reflect themes of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including intrusive memories, nightmares and flashbacks.  Others relate to more specific trauma incidents and themes of moral injury and survivor guilt.  The patients’ often poignant, sometimes frightening narratives were compelling.  Poetry became a venue in which I could attempt to first process and then articulate the overwhelming emotions they experience.  I began to share my poetry, in hopes of helping them connect and progress in treatment.  The poems opened a new dialogue on aspects of their stories which they might not have touched upon during the standard medication management visit.

I also write other poetry and haiku based on nature and spiritual themes, and compose songs and song lyrics.

Click here to read one of her poems, Tunnel Rats

 Tiziano T. Dossena: You have received innumerable awards both for your charitable and your professional work. Notwithstanding that they are all relevant and well deserved, is there one in particular that has meant more to you and why?

Dr. Mary Rorro: There are a few that are especially meaningful.  An award that had special meaning was from the American Foundation of Savoy Orders, a royal order in Italy.  They bestowed the Saints Maurice and Lazarus Bronze medal for charitable works at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.  It was incredibly exciting to walk up the steps of the main altar to receive the beautiful bronze medal and proclamation of Vittorio Emanuele.  Performing at the Centennial Celebration mass of the Holy Rosary church in Washington D.C. with Supreme Court Justices Samuel A. Alito, Jr. and Antonin Scalia, and Nancy Pelosi, in attendance, was also a peak experience. It was an honor to be inducted into the Italian American National Hall of Fame, in the same year with Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr.

The Planetree organization’s Patient-Centered Excellence and Innovation Award (received by one of 10 individuals or programs internationally) for my “A Few Good Notes” program in Chicago, was significant for recognizing the importance of helping veterans through the arts.

Tiziano T. Dossena: Your father was a doctor and your mother is an icon of the Italian American community in New Jersey. How did this influence you in your personal life and your professional choices?

Dr. Mary Rorro: My late father, Dr. Louis Rorro, was a physician who was committed to helping patients in the community.  My mother, Dr. Gilda Rorro, was an educator and administrator in the Department of Education, and worked in civil rights.  She traveled to Haiti on numerous occasions to establish school exchange program with schools in Haiti and New Jersey.  In the past 20 years, she worked tirelessly to serve Italian Americans in the community as Honorary Vice Consul work and as Chair of the New Jersey Italian Heritage Commission. She was knighted by the President of Italy for development of her curriculum to put Italian heritage into all schools in New Jersey.  My parents instilled an appreciation of Italian language and culture, and we feel fortunate to have cherished family and friends in Italy. My wonderful husband Joseph also shares my love of Italian culture and music; we met at an Italian social club when I was a psychiatric resident in Boston.

My parents’ productivity and engagement in their careers motivated me toward my profession and I was proud of what they accomplished.  I was raised without limitations of what a girl or woman could achieve.  No matter how busy my patients were, they were always actively engaged in my development, taking me to music lessons, concerts, and trips to Europe, to broaden my education.  They were tremendous mentors, who influenced my life and left a legacy of serving others, which I strive to continue.  Their high school graduation gift was my viola, and one that truly keeps on giving.  I am forever indebted to my parents for guiding me in my goal to becoming a doctor and grateful they helped make my dream a reality.  They gave of themselves with genuine commitment to community, and to me.  My parents’ love and devotion enabled me to be fulfilled as a physician and musician, and aspire to help some many others, to live by their example.

Dr. Mary Rorro plays the viola for the mother Gilda in the occasion of her memoir’s presentation to the public

Tiziano T. Dossena: Are there any new projects in the near future?

Dr. Mary Rorro: I consider serving our veterans a patriotic mission. They have taught me so much about sacrifice and resilience. Blending music and poetry into my practice is a privilege and serves as a rewarding and creative means of deepening the doctor–patient bond. I have witnessed the powerful effects the arts can hold for patients and hope to distribute my collection of vignettes and poems to more veterans.  I plan to continue expanding the “A Few Good Notes” program so more patients become involved in music and the arts, as an invaluable tool to employ in their journey toward healing.

Veterans listening to Dr. Mary Rorro’s music (Click on the picture to view a video on YouTube)

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A Renaissance Woman In New York City. Interview With LindaAnn LoSchiavo
by Milano52
Mar 18, 2018 | 16757 views | 0 0 comments | 162 162 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
 
A Renaissance woman in New York City. Interview with LindaAnn LoSchiavo

An interview by Tiziano Thomas Dossena

She is the optimal example of a Renaissance woman and a New Yorker combined: humble but determined, soft spoken but direct, with a genial attitude not usually associated with a virtuoso of the pen, and most of all a realist who is aware of the elusiveness of fame in the literary world. This, to me, is the portrait of LindaAnn LoSchiavo. Although I know her for over 20 years, I never knew she had a Ph.D. in Early Modern British Literature and that’s because she never talks about herself, although she will have a heart-to-heart discussion of her work, her characters, and the plays she reviews without any hesitation.

Having appeared with her wonderful poetry and her captivating short stories in over 20 periodicals in the last six months, and that’s not counting the numerous nonfiction articles published by our very own magazine and other periodicals, with her plays recently enriching the theater scene of Gotham, and two documentaries to her credit, LindaAnn has definitely proven her worth. To confirm that once more, she just won the 2nd place for her poem “Mother on Morphine” from Wax Poetry & Art, adding it to her many awards.

I thought it was the perfect timing for interviewing her and letting our readers discover not only the extent of her achievements and the path she took to attain them, but also her thoughts about life and literature.

(Please click on the bold words in the interview to link to videos and blogs)

Tiziano Thomas Dossena: When did you start writing?

LindAnn LoSchiavo: I started putting words together before my fourth birthday. My family used to receive a lot of greetings cards, which contained “light verse.” I thought the sentiments and poems could be improved. My Aunt Fay would draw illustrations on light cardboard and I would write a poem, metrical and rhymed, underneath.

Tiziano Thomas DossenaWhat was the first thing you wrote?

LindAnn LoSchiavo: When I was nine years old, I wrote my first one-act play for five actresses. It was produced in NYC when I was ten.

Tiziano Thomas DossenaWhat was the first thing that gave you some public attention?

LindAnn LoSchiavo: Irwin Maiman, a high school English teacher, was the supervisor of the literary magazine and he recruited a number of us. I liked to write but I was also interested in how to become an editor. Being on this staff taught me how to proofread, evaluate fiction, and put a publication together on a deadline. My style changed a lot with the short story I wrote in my senior year about a drug addict. It was accepted for publication and earned me the school’s gold medal for Literary Achievement, which I accepted onstage at Commencement. That academic award was a sign that I was meant for this.

Tiziano Thomas DossenaYou’ve had eight short stories accepted and/ or published in the past 18 months, each for a different publication.  How do your other literary endeavors – poetry, stage plays, reviews – factor in when you are writing a new short story?

LindAnn LoSchiavo: Reviews, as with all journalism, require a writer to be specific. Formal verse tunes your ear and hones your skill with rhetoric. Stage dialogue must be economical, conveying both emotion and information. All these elements get channeled into the creation of a short story and fuel it.

Tiziano Thomas DossenaDoes any of your work ever cross a genre?  Did a poem ever turn into a short story, for instance, or vice versa?

LindAnn LoSchiavo: Since I don’t work on only one manuscript at a time, my pen is often traveling in a few directions. An experience with answering poignant “Dear Santa Claus” letters from poor or abused New York City children became a poem. Since it was rather long for a poem, I turned it into a story. It was published in February 2018 by Flatbush Review.

Tiziano Thomas DossenaYou mentioned writing your first one-act play at 9 years old. What brought about your transition to writing short fiction, three years later at 12 years old?

LindAnn LoSchiavo: My family started taking me to Broadway shows when I was four years old. I loved playwrighting but, even as a child, I realized that producing a play involved considerable cost and collaboration. My instincts told me I’d better explore other formats and find something else to do with paper and a typewriter.

Tiziano Thomas DossenaI’ve noticed New York City is sometimes your setting. In what way does the New York location add to the story?

LindAnn LoSchiavo: I’m a native New Yorker so I enjoy bringing the city into the narrative. My poignant story “Sifting on the Santa Shift” takes place in the basement of the main post office on 34th Street, those unprepossessing cheerless rooms where Good Samaritans gather to read letters from needy children and grant wishes. There couldn’t be an uglier room in all New York where so many beautiful acts of generosity take place.

In contrast, “The Gospel According to Saint Marks Place” was inspired by the street itself. It’s the block where brainy Cooper Union students meet maniac drug dealers and Hell’s Angels along with immigrants born in Poland, Russia, and the Ukraine. A clash of cultures is waiting to happen.

Tiziano Thomas DossenaSeveral of your most recent stories have had a supernatural theme. What accounts for that change?

LindAnn LoSchiavo: I was always intrigued by the speculative elements in the literary novels of certain Latin American writers but felt that, if you have supernatural creatures in the earliest work that is published, you can be dismissed as a genre author. Now that I’ve seen my plays staged, had my articles in prestigious magazines, won prizes for poems, it’s not so easy to categorize me.

Tiziano Thomas DossenaWhat other fiction projects are you working on?

LindAnn LoSchiavo: Ten years ago, I wrote a play “The Djinni and the Pianist.” The protagonist is a 13-year-old girl. Since young teens are hard to cast, and an adult who is short and slight would have to play her, I felt it would be imprudent to give her a friend or classmates. It gathered dust; I never sent it out. Last year I decided to revise the narrative as a novella. I completed my first draft of Part 1, which is over 10,000 words, and now I’ve started Part 2.

LindaAnn LoSchiavo poses with Italian American Museum founder and President Dr. Joseph V. Scelsa after her multimedia presentation “Meet Mae West’s secret Italian husband”, which topped all attendance records at the museum. Photo credit: Brian Gonzales

Tiziano Thomas DossenaYou are an expert on Mae West, with two plays about her to your credit, special Mae tours in the City and a blog dedicated to her. How did this interest about Mae West came about and where is it bringing you?

LindAnn LoSchiavo: Whenever I passed the former Jefferson Market Court (now a public library) at 425 Sixth Avenue, one element about this unique nineteenth century structure would annoy me — — the plaque that merely credits two male architects and never refers to its women’s history. It riled me up that numerous women were unfairly arrested and tried here yet most people had no clue. I decided to write a play, three one acts with one commonality: how each defendant was treated unjustly in Jefferson Market Court. The idea was that the library itself might host it.

I selected three potential candidates: (a.) labor organizer Clara Lemlich Shavelson (1887—1982), who demonstrated against the sweatshops with a huge gathering of ladies’ garment workers on Nov. 26, 1909, which led to multiple arrests and a trial at Night Court; (b.) dramatist and actress Mae West (1893—1982), who was arrested and held at Jefferson Jail on Feb. 9, 1927 for writing a play about homosexuals and drag queens; and (c.) sex educator and birth control pioneer Margaret Sanger (1879—1966), whose medical records were seized on April 15, 1929, and who was thrown into a police wagon with her staff, and faced off with Jefferson Market’s Magistrate Rosenbluth.

At a performance of “Courting Mae West,” in 2008, from left, Yvonne Sayers as Mae West, with the late TV talk-show legend Joe Franklin and the work’s author, LindaAnn LoSchiavo.

That was the concept — but with back-stories and three trials, there was too much material for a trio of one acts. Therefore, I focused on one “criminal” and wrote “Courting Mae West.” I began my Mae West Blog in 2004 during auditions when it became obvious that the cast did not know Mae West, Beverly West, James Timony, Texas Guinan, and other characters they were playing were real people. At the time (14 years ago), there was only one Mae West fan site online; it praised her Hollywood films and offered nothing about the police raids and legal skirmishes. Additionally, I began a Texas Guinan Blog, a Jefferson Market Court Blog, and I put other details online to give the actors reliable source material that would familiarize them with the 1926—1932 events and personalities in this Prohibition Era play.

Any time there was a reading or a staging, certain remarks astounded me. For instance, “Was Mae West really a man?” and “Wasn’t Mae West from Los Angeles?” and “Did Mae West write two plays about homosexuals because she was gay?” In addition to helping fans get correct information about all things Mae, The Mae West Blog was a conduit.



Thanks to my blog, for example, in 2013 I met actress Darlene Violette, who had a strong interest in playing the Brooklyn bombshell, and who was reading my posts in order to develop a cabaret act. It was decided that I would write “Diamond Lil, Queen of the Bowery” and she would star and co-produce it. We archived a full performance at Don’t Tell Mama’s and I have the Estate’s permission to go forward with another production. I’d love to find the right team again.

Meanwhile, the Mae West Blog is now in its thirteenth year.

The cast of Diamond Lil’ in 2013

Tiziano Thomas DossenaDo your plays have roots in real life facts or are they fantasy?

LindAnn LoSchiavo: “Courting Mae West” is based on true events. “Diamond Lil, Queen of the Bowery” is a trimmer, tighter 90-minute version of Mae West’s sprawling 1932 novel. “A Worthie Woman Al Hir Live is based on Chaucer’s Wife of Bath Tale. But most of my plays are fiction, spun out of thin air.

Tiziano Thomas DossenaDo you believe your writing of short stories is paving the way to write a novel?

LindAnn LoSchiavo: Yes. When you write every day, creative muscles get stronger, the reach somehow gets longer. When my novella is completed, my focus will be back on the screenplay I’ve started. Most of the story is set in 1990 on a dilapidated British estate, where a portraitist has been invited to meet an art collector uncle she barely knows — — except the genial host who greets her is an impostor and an art thief.

Tiziano Thomas DossenaHow much do you believe being an Italian American influenced your writing and your writing style?

LindAnn LoSchiavo: All four grandparents were born in the meridione, so I’ve embraced the Neapolitan and Aeolian Island culture, whose oral poetry I have translated. When it comes to writing about it, I limit myself to articles, personal essays, and poems.

The reason for that is the stubborn lack of support for Italian-American authors by the major Italian-American organizations. I wrote a chapter on this topic for the book “Anti-Italianism — —Essays on a Prejudice,” co-edited by W. Connell and F. Gardaphé, Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.

L-R: Professor Fred Gardaphé, Dr. Elizabeth G. Messina, Dr. Joseph V. Scelsa, LindaAnn LoSchiavo and Professor William J. Connell

Maybe one day that will change. Meanwhile, the characters in my screenplay are British, Pakistani, and Polish. The characters in my novella are Scottish and French. However, the poems in my chapbook “Conflicted Excitement” (forthcoming from Red Wolf Editions) are Italian-American.

And so, to the nice people who are reading this interview, if you have an audience for Italian American literature or are interesting in hosting a reading, please get in touch with L’IDEA.

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Jamie Lynn Macchia, From Miss New York To The Campaign For #MoreThan4: A Young Woman On The Path Of Success.
by Milano52
Feb 10, 2018 | 19881 views | 0 0 comments | 267 267 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
 
Jamie Lynn Macchia, from Miss New York to the campaign for #MoreThan4: a young woman on the path of success.

Interview by Tiziano Thomas Dossena

Jamie Lynn Macchia is a 26-year-old Magna Cum Laude graduate of Wagner College with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Arts Administration and Marketing. While in attendance, she was a Competitive Dance Team member, Alpha Omicron Pi sorority sister, and part of the Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society.

When she was 17 years old, Jamie Lynn began competing in the Miss America Organization to obtain scholarships for college. She is the only woman to achieve the Miss Staten Island title twice, in both 2012 & 2014, and is also the former Miss Greater NY 2013 & 2015. In 2014, Jamie Lynn was invited to represent New York in the National Sweetheart Pageant in 2014, a long-standing tradition created in 1941, which is open to runner-ups from the Miss America state pageants. Out of the 43 contestants from across the country, she was named first runner-up – the highest placement ever for New York. In June of 2015, Jamie Lynn won the prestigious title of Miss New York and went on to compete at Miss America in Atlantic City.

Jamie Lynn works with many different organizations, but after loosing her best friend, Dominic, when they were 15 to leukemia, she dedicated her volunteer efforts to her personal platform: Inspiring Action Against Pediatric Cancer.  Alongside the Pediatric Cancer FoundationGianna Nicole’s Heart of Hope and The Truth 365, she is a force in making a change to bridge the funding gap, raise money for the necessary research and give our kids a fighting chance.  She campaigns for #MoreThan4 percent, which is the only amount of federal funding for cancer research that is allocated to all childhood cancers.

Over the years, Macchia has raised over hundreds of thousands of dollars for various charitable organizations, served as co-chair of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night Walk and created and received numerous prestigious awards for her work including: Miss America Organization Community Service Award, Miss America Organization Academic Award, Children’s Miracle Network’s “Miracle Maker”, SIEDC’s “20 Under 40” Award, Star Network’s “Stars Under 40” Award, and the Rotary Club of Verrazano’s “Women & Children’s Award.”

Jamie Lynn now works as the full-time Development Officer for Staten Island University Hospital, Northwell Health and is a consultant for Rodan Fields. In her free time, she likes to do yoga, travel, go out to eat, and spend time with friends, family, and her cats – Jynx & Meeko. Jamie Lynn loves The Wizard of Oz, is a shoe fanatic, and is an expert on all things Disney. She has always believed, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible” & looks forward to making the “impossible” a possibility. (From http://jamielynnmacchia.weebly.com)

Meeting Jamie Lynn was both an incredible honor and a pleasant surprise. Her savoir faire and radiant beauty polarized the room where she was speaking to a group of women participants of the Floral Park Lions Just 4 Women Expo. Her speech was impeccable and delivered professionally. As an observer I was shocked to find out the young lady speaking so assertively that day was only 25 years old. Since then, I learned a lot more about her and I am very proud to offer our readers the opportunity to learn more about her too. She is a delightful and altruistic girl who spend a lot of her time to help others and she might inspire others to do so. Here goes then the interview that I had today with her. (TTD)

Tiziano DossenaYou campaign to let people know about #MoreThan4. Could you tell us what this campaign is about?

Jamie Lynn Macchia: Cancer is the #1 disease killer of children and each year about 10,380 children in the United States under the age of 15 will be diagnosed. Treatments have not changed significantly in more than a decade. In fact, most medications used to fight cancer in children are designed to combat adult cancers and three out of five survivors develop side effects from receiving treatments that are too strong for their small bodies to handle. Yet, insufficient efforts are being made to help those who are fighting the hardest battle of their young lives.

I always take the opportunity to spread a message many people are shocked by: Of the already small amount of federal funding for cancer research (both adult and pediatric), only 4% is allocated for all childhood cancers combined. This is where the #MoreThan4 movement comes in: to raise awareness of the horrific statistics, and to emphasize the gross inequity of cancer research funding, the #MoreThan4 (percent) movement was born.

Our children deserve More Than 4 percent of the federal funding for cancer research. Only then will they stand a fighting chance with new treatments and a healthier future – free from side effects. “More Than 4” has become the rally cry for the pediatric cancer community and #MoreThan4 is used on social media sides to show the desperate need for more funding.

In order for effective change to occur, childhood cancer needs to become its own entity in the eyes of the government. It can no longer be lumped in with adult cancers. However, until the government increases financial support, and provides the amount necessary to find treatments and cures, it is up to us to bridge the funding gap.

Tiziano Dossena You are a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Wagner College, you were Miss New York 2015 and you are only 26 years old… So young and successful, what made you volunteer to help raise money for pediatric cancer research?

Jamie Lynn Macchia: Thank you for the compliment! My passion for my pediatric cancer work unfortunately came from a deep, personal connection. My best friend Dominic was diagnosed with leukemia when we were 10 years old. I witnessed the trials he had to endure: the side effects of medication, the struggle to find a bone marrow match, and the lack of updated and effective treatments. After a valiant battle with this disease, Dominic passed away shortly after his 15th birthday. I was heartbroken. I was frustrated. But, most of all, I was determined to inspire change through action. I am proud of what I have accomplished thus far, but there is still so much to be done.

Tiziano DossenaYou are the development officer for Staten Island University Hospital, Northwell Health. What does this position entail?

Jamie Lynn Macchia: As a Development Officer I take part in all fund raising related activities for Staten Island University Hospital. This includes event planning/assistance and securing donations with a focus on building, maintaining and enhancing donor relationships. It is wonderful for me that, after my year as Miss New York, I still have the ability to continue raising funds for a worthy institution as my full-time job.

What’s even better? Staten Island University Hospital is currently working to building a brand new Comprehensive Cancer Center, to include a Pediatric Oncology Unit! It has all come full-circle.

Tiziano DossenaYou have won many prestigious awards, including Miss America Organization Community Service Award, Miss America Organization Academic Award, Children’s Miracle Network’s “Miracle Maker”, SIEDC’s “20 under 40” Award and Star Network’s “Stars Under 40” Award. Is there one that is the most significant for you and why?

Jamie Lynn Macchia: I am honored to have received a number of awards for my charity work, academic achievements, and contributions to the community. It is difficult to pick one that is most significant to me, but I was particularly shocked to have been chosen to receive a “20 Under 40” Award from the SIEDC. This award, given to 20 people under the age of 40, recognizes rising stars in Staten Island who are making a difference in their respective fields. For me, it was humbling to have been considered ‘accomplished in my field’ for my dedication to philanthropy thru pediatric cancer at the young age of 25. It definitely puts more pressure on me to keep achieving and reaching for new heights in the future, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Tiziano DossenaHow positive was your experience, first with participating at and winning Miss New York contest and then participating at Miss America contest?

Jamie Lynn Macchia: I competed for 7 years in the Miss America Organization, holding 4 local titles (Miss Staten Island 2012 & 2014, Miss Greater NY 2013 & 2015) before I finally achieved my goal of becoming Miss New York on my last shot. I could not be more grateful to this organization for all of the experiences I have had and for the scholarship money I obtained which has allowed me to be debt-free after 4 years of college. The Miss America Organization has empowered me, given me lifelong friends, and offered me unique opportunities and experiences.

My time as Miss New York included fashion shows, school visits, galas, fundraisers, mentoring, television appearances – I experienced it all. But I have to say, of all my events, the hospital visits were some of the most memorable. Through Miss America’s partnership with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, I had this wonderful opportunity to connect my own platform – Inspiring Action Against Pediatric Cancer – with the organization I loved representing. Walking into a hospital room to visit a child and seeing their face light up because “a princess came to visit” brings a feeling that’s difficult to put into words. For one moment, they get to be a kid again, and I gave that to them. I will never forget those faces.



In total I traveled over 17,000 miles for more than 230 events, bringing attention to a multitude of causes and meeting hundreds of people from Paula Abdul to Nick Jonas. Just one of those incredible experiences was competing at Miss America, representing New York. It was surreal to be in an iconic theater (Boardwalk Hall) in Atlantic City, performing on the biggest stage of my life! I will never forget those moments because it is something I never thought I would get the chance to do. After all, you’re more likely to have a son compete in Super Bowl than a daughter compete at Miss America! How cool is that!?

Tiziano DossenaYou were a member of the competitive dance team in college. Do you still dance at that level?(talk about you being a dance instructor, if you want)

Jamie Lynn Macchia: At Wagner College I was a member of the competition dance team. In addition to dancing at both the football & basketball games, we competed in Disney World every year! It really was an incredible experience. Unfortunately, after I completed my time in the Miss America Organization I didn’t find many more opportunities to dance at that level. As a certified dance teacher, I was teaching part-time, but I took this year off to focus on other interests. I would love to return to the studio and share my love of dance with students!

Tiziano DossenaWhat are your plans for your immediate future and your long range goals?

Jamie Lynn Macchia: I am so proud of the life I’ve created and where I am right now at 26 years old. In my immediate future, I hope to continue evolving in my current position at Staten Island University Hospital, assisting in the current goal to build a new Women & Newborn Center, Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Hybrid Operating Room. I’m also excited to be running my own business for the first time in my life as a Rodan Fields Consultant! Looking further into the future, I plan to continue my work with pediatric cancer advocacy and hope to become more involved with Miss New York Organization – helping other young women achieve the personal growth that I did while paying for their college educations.

Oh, and as a recently engaged woman, I’m planning a wedding for October of 2019 with my high school sweetheart. The future looks bright!

Tiziano DossenaCongratulations on your future wedding! Any suggestions for our young readers?

Jamie Lynn Macchia: I always have two pieces of advice for young people today. First: Perseverance is key. Though it may be easy to look at another’s success and feel discouraged, you have to remember that everyone’s path in life is different. A perfect example for me was becoming Miss New York – it certainly wasn’t something that happened overnight! It would have been easy to get discouraged and give up, but when you truly have a goal, you have to go for it with everything you have. Second: Use your voice to make a difference. All too often I hear, “Well, what can I do about it?” or “I can’t change that.” But, you can! You have to the power to make a change where you see a need. Go out there and make a difference in this world because the world needs more dreamers.

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Interview with James Ferraro, author of BLINDSIDED.
by Milano52
Nov 14, 2017 | 962 views | 0 0 comments | 106 106 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Written By: Tiziano Thomas Dossena

 
Exclusive interview with James Ferraro, author of BLINDSIDED

JimFerrarroJames (Jim) L. Ferraro is a practicing litigation attorney, and the founding shareholder of The Ferraro Law Firm in Miami, Florida, and one of two founding partners of Kelley & Ferraro LLP in Cleveland, Ohio. His firms currently represent nearly 50,000 asbestos claimants. The Ferraro Law Firm also has an office in Washington, D.C. that specializes in corporate tax fraud and tax whistleblower cases.

A native of Greenwich, Connecticut, Mr. Ferraro graduated from the University of Miami with a Bachelor of Business Administration in 1978 and a Master of Science in Accounting in 1979. He became a Certified Public Accountant in 1980, and taught accounting at the University of Miami in 1982 while in law school. He received his law degree from the University of Miami School of Law in 1983. He is a member of the Ohio, New York, Florida, District of Columbia, and Massachusetts Bars; the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation; the American Bar Association; the Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants; the American Association for Justice; the Florida Justice Association; The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyers; and the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. He is a Florida State Coordinator for The Public Justice Foundation.

Mr. Ferraro has fashioned his law practice in the areas of mass torts, product liability, wrongful death, medical malpractice, environmental and family law. He has specialized in asbestos and mass tort litigation for almost thirty years, and has successfully tried many cases that resulted in multi-million dollar jury verdicts. In 1995, he received the largest compensatory award in the state of Florida for a mesothelioma case; and in 1997, Mr. Ferraro also had the highest compensatory jury verdict ever in the nation for a non-malignant asbestos case. Most recently, in August 2015, Jim tried an asbestos case against Georgia-Pacific with his oldest son, James, resulting in a $17,175,000 verdict. Based on that verdict, CVN Florida voted Jim 2015 Plaintiff’s Attorney of the Year.

He was one of ten national finalists for Trial Lawyer of the Year in 1997 for trying the first case successfully prosecuted against a chemical company for causing a birth defect. Mr. Ferraro proved that a pregnant woman’s exposure to the fungicide, Benlate, caused her child to be born without eyes and held the chemical company, DuPont, accountable in Castillo vs. E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company and Pine Island Farms. The trial was covered in its entirety on Court TV and received worldwide attention. Seven years after trial, the Supreme Court of Florida affirmed the trial court verdict. The trial has also been documented in a book, Blindsided, just recently published. 

Christian Slater said of the book: “Blindsided is a compelling and important story that holds as much social relevance today as it did when the trial against DuPont took place.”

Here is the exclusive interview he gave to Tiziano Thomas Dossena:

Screen shot 2017-03-17 at 12.02.38 PMTiziano T. Dossena: How did you meet the Castillo family, plaintiffs for the now-famous Castillo vs. DuPont case? What made you decide to take the case, unique and challenging as it was, both legally and financially?

James Ferraro: I received a call from an old college friend of mine, telling me about the Castillos’ story and asking me to meet with them. I was reluctant because I knew how tough these cases were to win, but I agreed to have Donna Castillo come to my office and meet with me.

Donna was very emotional and suffered a grave injustice.  However, I was not going to take the case due to the extreme level of difficulty.  After some limited research we found a study where the chemical was tested on pregnant rats and 43% of the rat offspring were born with no eyes or other ocular abnormalities.  Even though the deck was stacked against us, we decided we would take a shot.

Tiziano T. Dossena: Are you still in contact with the Castillo family? How has little Johnny fared since then? 

James Ferraro: I have had limited contact with the plaintiffs over the years as a form of respect to their privacy and to allow them to move on with their lives.  I know the family is doing well and I am very happy that we were able to make a difference in their lives. Because of the outcome of the case, Johnny was able to afford to attend the Perkins School for the Blind.

Tiziano T. Dossena: This celebrated litigation being the milestone and reference for many other cases, do you feel large corporation have changed somewhat their behavior since then because of it? Do you believe the average person has now a better chance to fight these Goliaths because of the outcome of that historical lawsuit?

James Ferraro: The case set a precedent as the first of its kind, because it was the first time a chemical giant was successfully prosecuted for causing a birth defect. It also allowed the chemical Benlate to be removed from the market. However, it’s still a very difficult case, and we have a long way to go. I believe a true change will be when a law is passed at the Federal level that holds corporations accountable to the information (science/data) that is submitted to a governmental agency for licensing purposes, making that information admissible in court.

Tiziano T. Dossena: Do you feel that, notwithstanding the enormous success of your firm with scores of legal actions and your highly respected reputation with Mass Tort and Federal Tax Whistleblower practices, the Castillo vs. DuPont case is the one you are going to be remembered for? Is that what you would like or do you feel there are other actions and instances for which you should be celebrated or remembered for? 

James Ferraro: I think I am best known for this case due to it being the first successful prosecution of its kind and also the heart wrenching story behind it. But I’ve also successfully tried many cases that resulted in multi-million dollar jury verdicts, specializing in asbestos and mass tort litigation. In 1995, I received the largest compensatory award in the state of Florida for a mesothelioma case; and in 1997, I also had the highest compensatory jury verdict ever in the nation for a non-malignant asbestos case.

Most recently, in August 2015, I tried an asbestos case against Georgia-Pacific with my son, James, resulting in a $17,175,000 verdict. Based on that verdict, I was voted the 2015 Plaintiff’s Attorney of the Year.

Tiziano T. Dossena: Large corporations have used experiments funded by them to get approval by the government to use a particular chemical and then called the same experiment ‘junk science’ when a lawyer from the plaintiff side wants to use the same experiment in court against them, often getting away with their action (junk-science defense.) You were the promoter of a law to allow an experiment, which was previously used to obtain a license to sell a chemical, to be used as evidence in court. Has that initial movement gained any strength and support since then and what can people do to help with this issue?

James Ferraro: Currently, defendants like DuPont seek to exclude science under the guise of junk science.  In this particular case, DuPont was seeking to exclude some of the science that they submitted to the EPA to get their product licensed.  I believe a law should be written whereby a corporation or individual who submits scientific data to a governmental agency for licensing purposes is admissible in a court of law.

Unfortunately, It’s not going to happen right now with the current administration. They’re anti-climate change, so this is not the right time. After the mid-term elections, if the balance of power shifts, that might be the right time to do it. The book will be out for about a year and a half, and the movie should be pretty close to being finished at that point in time.

Tiziano T. Dossena: Reading the book, one can perceive the persistence and determination that drove you to achieve this enormously important win over this powerful industrial giant and will feel in awe of it. Have you at any point almost lost that determination? Was there anything that almost drove you to let go of it? 

James Ferraro: It was a monster undertaking. I originally wasn’t going to take the case. Once I saw the rat studios, I said, you know what, we can make a “state of the art” case, meaning you don’t have to have actual knowledge of the dangers of the product to be liable. When we went through Dupont’s document depository in Delaware, where they buried documents, we found studies that they did on their own that showed they had bad results from the rat studies too. I knew it was going to be pretty big when I got into it, but I didn’t know how big. I personally took every deposition: 63 depositions in four countries. I was sleeping four hours a night. I became like a marine.

It definitely took a toll on my personal life, and I wouldn’t recommend it to any young lawyer starting out. But I never lost determination. The more I knew Dupont was guilty, the more I was motivated to keep going and bring justice to the Castillos.webFerraro

Tiziano T. Dossena: What exactly is Project Blindsided and how can people get involved with it?

James Ferraro: ProjectBlindsided.com  is my website, which not only has information on myself and the book, but allows the public to stand with me and fight for a stronger EPA. The EPA is the police force for the environment, and the environmental policies that keep our food, water, and air safe from poisons. Many in Washington are trying to strip the EPA of regulatory muscle. A weakened EPA puts each one of us in danger and will lead to widespread disaster in the lives of Americans, resulting in devastating maladies from birth defects to cancer.

There’s a page where readers can add their name to show their support for a strong EPA or any government agency (state or local) that will commit resources and tools needed to protect us and the environment from corporate polluters.


This great book may also be purchased at Amazon.com!

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Trying To Walk Like A Man; The Chris Wiehl Playbook.
by Milano52
Oct 29, 2017 | 20391 views | 0 0 comments | 730 730 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Interviews with the two authors.
 
 
Trying To Walk Like A Man; The Chris Wiehl Playbook

Interview by Tiziano Thomas Dossena

chrisbook

Christopher Wiehl is an American-born actor and filmmaker.  A native of Yakima, Washington, Chris graduated from the University of Washington in 1993 with a major in Dramatic Arts; he migrated to Los Angeles in the summer of ’94, and quickly booked several major ad campaigns, for Old Spice, Coors, Ford, and Coca-Cola, among others. He soon appeared as a Guest Star on numerous popular television series, and by 1997 he became a series regular on shows like Bull, First Monday, Playmakers, and CSI: Las Vegas.

In 1998, Chris added writer, producer, director to his bio when he formed Yakima Productions. The company has released three films and currently houses over a dozen scripts.

In 2009, Chris’ life took a real turn when he received a brain tumor diagnosis. With his baby boy only a month old and a marriage already on the rocks, Christopher’s life was in peril. He had a successful surgery to remove the tumor, but had major complications during recovery. It’s been a long climb back to relevance in the entertainment world and redemption in his personal world. 

Today Chris is healthy and happy again, working in Hollywood and living at the beach, and living a life he thought was out of reach just a few years before.

Trying To Walk Like A Man, The Chris Wiehl Playbook is a wonderful autobiography by the actor/ filmmaker Chris Wiehl, written with ex-actor/writer John Turner; it has sensitivity, honesty and a true account of overcoming apparently insurmountable difficulties that will grab the heart of the reader and will keep it prisoner until the end. In it, the author gets a brain tumor removed, leaving him partially deaf. It’s not only a story of a man prevailing over the aftereffects of a brain tumor, though, but it’s in reality two stories, one of them unwritten in this book: John Turner was also an actor when he was brutally assaulted and left with traumatic brain injury. After that incident, John no longer had the capabilities to perform, so he established a career as a writer.

Their book is therefore more meaningful because of the experience that Mr. Turner had, which allows him to capture Christopher Wiehl’s true feelings and passed them to the reader fully unaltered.

INTERVIEW WITH CHRIS WIEHL

Tiziano Dossena: Do you feel you are a better person because of this unfortunate event of your life? That is, in what ways has ‘being a survivor’ changed you psychologically?

CHRIS WIEHLI definitely have more empathy. Physically, I’m really not “better”—I’m deaf in my right ear, I have balance issues—but psychologically, you bet. I think I’m more patient, more empathetic, and being near death can really change your perspective. I definitely value the little things more. I don’t take nearly as much for granted as I used to. Being able to stay healthy and fit—a lot of those “little things” are more important to me now.

Tiziano Dossena: From every page of your book transpires your view that nothing really positive can be achieved without hard work and perseverance. Do you feel mental stamina is hereditary? Is it part of one’s personality? Can it be built upon? 

CHRIS WIEHLI don’t know if that kind of stamina is hereditary, as much as it’s passed down through generations. You kind of learn it by example. I was really fortunate to have parents that worked very hard, and they showed me the benefits of long-term perseverance. Unfortunately, in the acting business nobody showed me how to keep going when times got tough—not directly, anyway. I did have lots of support from my friends and family, but I kind of had to rely on myself. One thing that I’m glad I did early on—and still do, to an extent—is to make sure and do something positive every single day. So when I’d put my head on my pillow each night, I could say I did something to help myself. And when my breaks finally came, I had a positive attitude about things, and that helped me keep moving forward. So perseverance is a learned skill. It’s like a muscle—the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets.

Tiziano Dossena: Your book tells about your having to survive an unexpected ailment and its consequences and how you came out of it, but if you had only a paragraph to express your feelings, what would you tell someone who has to confront a similar situation as the one you lived through?

CHRIS WIEHLSeveral things: first, that it’s okay to be sad. There’s a great line in Hamlet where his mother says that they need to get up and get going, and Hamlet says, “First, I must bleed.” In other words, take the time you need to work through it, and you’ll be better off in the long run. And depending on the problem you’re facing, try to live day by day—or even minute by minute. Don’t concern yourself with tomorrow, or next week, or even next month. Try to live in the moment. Before you know it, those moments add up to days, weeks, and months. And finally: don’t be ashamed to ask for help! Having your loved ones on your side will go a long way.

Chris Wiiehl

Chris Wiehl

 

Tiziano Dossena: When you returned to your acting occupation, after the operation, was deafness or lack of equilibrium the hardest to deal with, in that context? 

CHRIS WIEHLI think the toughest thing was that I suddenly had to strain to listen a lot more. Doing that would tense my body up, and by the end of a 12-hour day of shooting I would just be exhausted. Luckily the first couple of roles I had weren’t too physically challenging, so I made it through all right. And the good thing was that I’ve become a much better listener when I act–and listening is just as important as speaking. So in that sense, being deaf in one ear has been an improvement.

Tiziano Dossena: Living in New York City just out of college was, as you mentioned in your book, “one of the worst decisions I’ve ever made—but it was also one of the best.” Do you feel that if you would have gone to NYC at a different time of your life, with already enough experience for example, the results would have been different? 

CHRIS WIEHLI think the timing was perfect my first time there. I was a small-town boy from Yakima, Washington, and dealing with all the adversity I did really helped me as I moved forward in my career. I love New York; I think it’s one of the few cities in the world that genuinely has a heartbeat. I’ve been back since and worked on shows like Bronx County and Love Monkey, and really enjoyed my time there. But when I lived in NYC the first time was exactly what needed to happen for me—I learned so much!

Chris Wiehl in one of his TV series

Chris Wiehl in one of his TV series

Tiziano Dossena: You refer to the “Hollywood grapevine” being “just vicious” and that if “words get out that you have (or even had) a medical issue, then you’re marked as damaged goods, and you’re essentially done for…”? How have you overcome this problem and kept afloat and successful in Hollywood?

CHRIS WIEHL: I compare it to being a player on a sports team. If you’re injured and can’t play as well, you’re written off. And it’s the same in Hollywood. Competition is fierce, and you need every advantage possible. I just basically worked really, really hard to rehab myself so that now, I’m not physically handicapped and my health isn’t in question.

Tiziano Dossena: Which one was the acting part that gave you the most satisfaction?

CHRIS WIEHL: Wow. It’s tough to just name one. I honestly go back to when I played John Merrick in The Elephant Man in college, because that part really opened up the whole world of acting for me. But also the first pilot I got called Bronx County was great, and my first series to go to air, a show called Bull, was great too. As an athlete, I loved being on the ESPN show Playmakers, when I got to play an NFL quarterback. So it’s hard to break it down to just one favorite.

One of the movies scripted, produced and directed by Chris Wiehl

One of the movies scripted, produced and directed by Chris Wiehl

Tiziano Dossena: What is your next project as movie producer and/or director? 

CHRIS WIEHLWe have several scripts under our veil right now, but the one I’m most excited about is a film that’s still untitled that my writing partner Danny Kolker and I are working on. It’s about Ironman triathlons, and is sort of a coming-of-age story about two guys competing in Ironman.

Tiziano Dossena: Are we going to see you in any TV series or movie in the next future?

CHRIS WIEHLI’m actually reading for several TV parts and a couple of film parts. I don’t really want to say what they are—I’m superstitious about that!

Tiziano Dossena: By meeting you and John together at the New York Book Show, I had the immediate sensation that yours was a deep friendship and not only work collaboration. How did you meet John Turner and decide he was the right person to help you with your book?

CHRIS WIEHL: I met John through Barbara Terry at Waldorf Publishing. Barbara gave me a list of names of people to interview to be my co-author; John and I had lunch, and we hit it off right away. We had many things in common: John was an actor, he’d had some brain trauma too, and we’re the same age. Plus, I really enjoy John’s “Southern sensibility,” him being from Mississippi; I recently shot a movie there, so we have that connection as well. I think John is very kind and is a great listener, so I thought he was perfect for the project. And we’d like to work together in the future adapting or writing an original screenplay.


 

JOHN TURNER

John Turner is a native Mississippian currently residing in Los Angeles. A 1997 graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi (BFA, Acting/Music), John relocated to New York in 1999 to begin his acting career; in 2002, he was the victim of a brutal mugging and assault, and suffered a traumatic brain injury in the attack. After that incident John no longer had the physical capabilities to perform, so he established a career as a writer. John recollects the terrible mugging (along with other life lessons) in his first book, a collection of humorous short stories called “Confessions of a Gimp” (2014). Since then, John has released two more non-fiction books and has had numerous stories published in national magazines. Learn more about John by visiting his official Facebook author page at facebook.com/johnturnerwriter. In 2014 John relocated to Los Angeles to be with the love of his life, his girlfriend (now his wife) Kari.

INTERVIEW WITH JOHN TURNER

John Turner's book published in 2014

John Turner’s book published in 2014

Tiziano Dossena: Did you somewhat re-live your experience with trauma by helping Chris writing his story?

JOHN TURNER: Oh, sure. One thing I liked to do with Chris while we were doing interviews was to talk about my own experiences with my brain injury, and see if he related to them. That way, when I would transcribe the interview, it would be more organic and honest for me as a writer, and it would help me tell Chris’s story in ways I understood and could relate to.

Tiziano Dossena: Did you ever think, when you started as an actor, that you could have become a writer? Was this something that would have happened anyway, with time? 

JOHN TURNER: Well, I read a whole lot as a kid, and had entered some writing competitions in junior high and high school. So I kind of already knew I had the skill. After I suffered my brain injury and could no longer act, turning to writing was just a natural progression. And if I’m being honest, I think I’m a better writer than I was an actor. So where my professional life is concerned, my brain injury turned out to be a good thing.

John Turner

John Turner

Tiziano Dossena: What is your next book project?

JOHN TURNER:  I’m planning to start a fiction novel early next year. Thus far my books have been non-fiction, but I think I have a pretty good sense of story, so I think I’m ready. I don’t want to give too much away, but it’ll be a bit autobiographical, about a guy who suffers brain trauma—but a side effect of his injury is that he gets a sort of “moral super-power.” Stay tuned for details!



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Trying To Walk Like A Man; The Chris Wiehl Playbook. Interviews with the authors.
by Milano52
Oct 23, 2017 | 812 views | 0 0 comments | 95 95 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

 

Trying To Walk Like A Man; The Chris Wiehl Playbook

Interview by Tiziano Thomas Dossena

chrisbook

Christopher Wiehl is an American-born actor and filmmaker.  A native of Yakima, Washington, Chris graduated from the University of Washington in 1993 with a major in Dramatic Arts; he migrated to Los Angeles in the summer of ’94, and quickly booked several major ad campaigns, for Old Spice, Coors, Ford, and Coca-Cola, among others. He soon appeared as a Guest Star on numerous popular television series, and by 1997 he became a series regular on shows like Bull, First Monday, Playmakers, and CSI: Las Vegas.

In 1998, Chris added writer, producer, director to his bio when he formed Yakima Productions. The company has released three films and currently houses over a dozen scripts.

In 2009, Chris’ life took a real turn when he received a brain tumor diagnosis. With his baby boy only a month old and a marriage already on the rocks, Christopher’s life was in peril. He had a successful surgery to remove the tumor, but had major complications during recovery. It’s been a long climb back to relevance in the entertainment world and redemption in his personal world. 

Today Chris is healthy and happy again, working in Hollywood and living at the beach, and living a life he thought was out of reach just a few years before.

Trying To Walk Like A Man, The Chris Wiehl Playbook is a wonderful autobiography by the actor/ filmmaker Chris Wiehl, written with ex-actor/writer John Turner; it has sensitivity, honesty and a true account of overcoming apparently insurmountable difficulties that will grab the heart of the reader and will keep it prisoner until the end. In it, the author gets a brain tumor removed, leaving him partially deaf. It’s not only a story of a man prevailing over the aftereffects of a brain tumor, though, but it’s in reality two stories, one of them unwritten in this book: John Turner was also an actor when he was brutally assaulted and left with traumatic brain injury. After that incident, John no longer had the capabilities to perform, so he established a career as a writer.

Their book is therefore more meaningful because of the experience that Mr. Turner had, which allows him to capture Christopher Wiehl’s true feelings and passed them to the reader fully unaltered.

INTERVIEW WITH CHRIS WIEHL

Tiziano Dossena: Do you feel you are a better person because of this unfortunate event of your life? That is, in what ways has ‘being a survivor’ changed you psychologically?

CHRIS WIEHL: I definitely have more empathy. Physically, I’m really not “better”—I’m deaf in my right ear, I have balance issues—but psychologically, you bet. I think I’m more patient, more empathetic, and being near death can really change your perspective. I definitely value the little things more. I don’t take nearly as much for granted as I used to. Being able to stay healthy and fit—a lot of those “little things” are more important to me now.

Tiziano Dossena: From every page of your book transpires your view that nothing really positive can be achieved without hard work and perseverance. Do you feel mental stamina is hereditary? Is it part of one’s personality? Can it be built upon? 

CHRIS WIEHL: I don’t know if that kind of stamina is hereditary, as much as it’s passed down through generations. You kind of learn it by example. I was really fortunate to have parents that worked very hard, and they showed me the benefits of long-term perseverance. Unfortunately, in the acting business nobody showed me how to keep going when times got tough—not directly, anyway. I did have lots of support from my friends and family, but I kind of had to rely on myself. One thing that I’m glad I did early on—and still do, to an extent—is to make sure and do something positive every single day. So when I’d put my head on my pillow each night, I could say I did something to help myself. And when my breaks finally came, I had a positive attitude about things, and that helped me keep moving forward. So perseverance is a learned skill. It’s like a muscle—the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets.

Tiziano Dossena: Your book tells about your having to survive an unexpected ailment and its consequences and how you came out of it, but if you had only a paragraph to express your feelings, what would you tell someone who has to confront a similar situation as the one you lived through?

CHRIS WIEHL: Several things: first, that it’s okay to be sad. There’s a great line in Hamlet where his mother says that they need to get up and get going, and Hamlet says, “First, I must bleed.” In other words, take the time you need to work through it, and you’ll be better off in the long run. And depending on the problem you’re facing, try to live day by day—or even minute by minute. Don’t concern yourself with tomorrow, or next week, or even next month. Try to live in the moment. Before you know it, those moments add up to days, weeks, and months. And finally: don’t be ashamed to ask for help! Having your loved ones on your side will go a long way.

Chris Wiiehl

Chris Wiehl

Tiziano Dossena: When you returned to your acting occupation, after the operation, was deafness or lack of equilibrium the hardest to deal with, in that context? 

CHRIS WIEHL: I think the toughest thing was that I suddenly had to strain to listen a lot more. Doing that would tense my body up, and by the end of a 12-hour day of shooting I would just be exhausted. Luckily the first couple of roles I had weren’t too physically challenging, so I made it through all right. And the good thing was that I’ve become a much better listener when I act–and listening is just as important as speaking. So in that sense, being deaf in one ear has been an improvement.

Tiziano Dossena: Living in New York City just out of college was, as you mentioned in your book, “one of the worst decisions I’ve ever made—but it was also one of the best.” Do you feel that if you would have gone to NYC at a different time of your life, with already enough experience for example, the results would have been different? 

CHRIS WIEHL: I think the timing was perfect my first time there. I was a small-town boy from Yakima, Washington, and dealing with all the adversity I did really helped me as I moved forward in my career. I love New York; I think it’s one of the few cities in the world that genuinely has a heartbeat. I’ve been back since and worked on shows like Bronx County and Love Monkey, and really enjoyed my time there. But when I lived in NYC the first time was exactly what needed to happen for me—I learned so much!

Chris Wiehl in one of his TV series

Chris Wiehl in one of his TV series

Tiziano Dossena: You refer to the “Hollywood grapevine” being “just vicious” and that if “words get out that you have (or even had) a medical issue, then you’re marked as damaged goods, and you’re essentially done for…”? How have you overcome this problem and kept afloat and successful in Hollywood?

CHRIS WIEHL: I compare it to being a player on a sports team. If you’re injured and can’t play as well, you’re written off. And it’s the same in Hollywood. Competition is fierce, and you need every advantage possible. I just basically worked really, really hard to rehab myself so that now, I’m not physically handicapped and my health isn’t in question.

Tiziano Dossena: Which one was the acting part that gave you the most satisfaction?

CHRIS WIEHL: Wow. It’s tough to just name one. I honestly go back to when I played John Merrick in The Elephant Man in college, because that part really opened up the whole world of acting for me. But also the first pilot I got called Bronx County was great, and my first series to go to air, a show called Bull, was great too. As an athlete, I loved being on the ESPN show Playmakers, when I got to play an NFL quarterback. So it’s hard to break it down to just one favorite.

One of the movies scripted, produced and directed by Chris Wiehl

One of the movies scripted, produced and directed by Chris Wiehl

Tiziano Dossena: What is your next project as movie producer and/or director? 

CHRIS WIEHL: We have several scripts under our veil right now, but the one I’m most excited about is a film that’s still untitled that my writing partner Danny Kolker and I are working on. It’s about Ironman triathlons, and is sort of a coming-of-age story about two guys competing in Ironman.

Tiziano Dossena: Are we going to see you in any TV series or movie in the next future?

CHRIS WIEHL: I’m actually reading for several TV parts and a couple of film parts. I don’t really want to say what they are—I’m superstitious about that!

Tiziano Dossena: By meeting you and John together at the New York Book Show, I had the immediate sensation that yours was a deep friendship and not only work collaboration. How did you meet John Turner and decide he was the right person to help you with your book?

CHRIS WIEHL: I met John through Barbara Terry at Waldorf Publishing. Barbara gave me a list of names of people to interview to be my co-author; John and I had lunch, and we hit it off right away. We had many things in common: John was an actor, he’d had some brain trauma too, and we’re the same age. Plus, I really enjoy John’s “Southern sensibility,” him being from Mississippi; I recently shot a movie there, so we have that connection as well. I think John is very kind and is a great listener, so I thought he was perfect for the project. And we’d like to work together in the future adapting or writing an original screenplay.


 

JOHN TURNER

John Turner is a native Mississippian currently residing in Los Angeles. A 1997 graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi (BFA, Acting/Music), John relocated to New York in 1999 to begin his acting career; in 2002, he was the victim of a brutal mugging and assault, and suffered a traumatic brain injury in the attack. After that incident John no longer had the physical capabilities to perform, so he established a career as a writer. John recollects the terrible mugging (along with other life lessons) in his first book, a collection of humorous short stories called “Confessions of a Gimp” (2014). Since then, John has released two more non-fiction books and has had numerous stories published in national magazines. Learn more about John by visiting his official Facebook author page at facebook.com/johnturnerwriter. In 2014 John relocated to Los Angeles to be with the love of his life, his girlfriend (now his wife) Kari.

INTERVIEW WITH JOHN TURNER

John Turner's book published in 2014

John Turner’s book published in 2014

Tiziano Dossena: Did you somewhat re-live your experience with trauma by helping Chris writing his story?

JOHN TURNER: Oh, sure. One thing I liked to do with Chris while we were doing interviews was to talk about my own experiences with my brain injury, and see if he related to them. That way, when I would transcribe the interview, it would be more organic and honest for me as a writer, and it would help me tell Chris’s story in ways I understood and could relate to.

Tiziano Dossena: Did you ever think, when you started as an actor, that you could have become a writer? Was this something that would have happened anyway, with time? 

JOHN TURNER: Well, I read a whole lot as a kid, and had entered some writing competitions in junior high and high school. So I kind of already knew I had the skill. After I suffered my brain injury and could no longer act, turning to writing was just a natural progression. And if I’m being honest, I think I’m a better writer than I was an actor. So where my professional life is concerned, my brain injury turned out to be a good thing.

John Turner

John Turner

Tiziano Dossena: What is your next book project?

JOHN TURNER:  I’m planning to start a fiction novel early next year. Thus far my books have been non-fiction, but I think I have a pretty good sense of story, so I think I’m ready. I don’t want to give too much away, but it’ll be a bit autobiographical, about a guy who suffers brain trauma—but a side effect of his injury is that he gets a sort of “moral super-power.” Stay tuned for details!

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BOOK EXPO AMERICA 2017: Lots of great authors!
by Milano52
Jun 14, 2017 | 31568 views | 0 0 comments | 844 844 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

 

Book Expo America 2017 (Part1)

Article by Tiziano Thomas Dossena

BEA’s annual encounter in New York (which by the way has missed a step last year by exhibiting in Chicago instead) started under a bad auspice on Wednesday, May 31st. Our journalists encountered uncompleted booths, unreliable directions and basically no real Show, leaving the premises after a useless attempt to make sense of the disorganization they stumbled upon, a first for this usually magic exhibition. Fortunately, BEA partially redeemed itself on the two following days, although some lagging problems puzzled me. What happened to the beautiful organization behind the previous years, when at the autographing boots you could confirm the identity of the book to be signed also by photographs? What about their APP giving you some information about the book and author you are attempting to retrieve? And the missing information on the pamphlets about the books’ content? Well, life is not perfect, and I guess mishaps happen, but I do believe that the much smaller number of exhibitors was tied to last year’s abandonment of the City that never sleeps.

Thomas_Jerome_WrightSr_NinetyNineLiesAndOneTruth

Thomas Jerome Wright Sr.

Regardless, there were still plenty of great surprises that made up for the disappointments. One of these was the large number of first-time authors assembled in an easily reached common area.  There, you could find Thomas Jerome Wright Sr. presenting to the public his spiritual guide to finding themselves through the awareness of “technology’s many lies”, Ninety-Nine Lies and One Truth. This is a book about awakening mass consciousness.

Carmen Ashe

Carmen Ashe

Another ‘spiritual’ uplifting author/book was Carmen Ashe with her I Have a Purpose, the riveting and uplifting story of her life, in which the lessons learned are used to pass on to the readers her understanding that ‘we all have a purpose.’

30yearAn interesting book from that section was also The Thirty Year Diet: The Journey Of Me, Fat Girl and My FOPA by Robin Nutter, a hilarious recollection of her 30 years battle with diets and her long standing identification with the ‘fat girl’ persona.

Interestingly enough, in the proximity of these writers there were also two other fascinating authors with their books.

The first was Fred Clark Sr., born December 1930, who was studying abroad in Cuba when the revolution broke out and the university closed. He stayed and wrote a murder mystery inspired by his time there, The Door Of Death. Clark went on to become a lawyer and work for Prentice Hall as a senior legal editor. The manuscript laid dormant for over fifty years and was finally published on Amazon with the help of his son in 2015. Clark is likely the oldest first time author at BEA 2017.

Fred Clark Sr.

Fred Clark Sr.

The other pleasant surprise was the 16 years old Harley Zed Mona with his Our Guardian Renegade, a science fiction saga with a huge cast of vivid characters and factions into the fray. An Art Book with colorful illustrations of the various characters and symbols is also available. I am certain this book will be followed by others, since it opens a new world (Senia) to the lovers of Science fiction….  Mona may be the youngest first time author at Book Expo America 2017.

Harley Zed Mona with Tiziano Thomas Dossena

Harley Zed Mona with Tiziano Thomas Dossena

favelaKidnemecene1In the same exhibit area there were also previously published authors who have truly original titles to offer, such as Alex Alico (the author has previously published 35 books!) with his The Favela Kid, the first of a three book series about the epic struggles and triumphs of a young man  in the Favelas of Rio De Janeiro, Brazil and in Queens, New York., and Kaz Lefav with her NEMECENE saga of Science Fiction about a toxic future flooded by dead oceans and poisonous gases… Great marketing tools came with the books, such as a canvas book to hold them and greatly illustrated bookmarks and tarot cards…

nemecene2

sears… So, as the day went by, the encounters with the authors revealed themselves to be exceptionally interesting. The hilarious J.P. Sears presented his How to be Ultra Spiritual, 12½ Steps To Spiritual Superiority, a book that claims to contain expert-level master training in competitive spirituality, dreaming up your awakening, mindfulness, merciless meditation, how to be nonjudgmental and much more… With 100 million views on his YouTube channel, Mr. Sears has proven that he can deliver great humor and I believe this book does just that….

JPSears_HowToBeUltraSpiritual

JP Sears

A different kind of humor, based more on the absurdity of real life is the type found in Sucktown, USA, a well written novel by first=time author Craig Dirkes. His main character flunks in college due to too much partying, so he decides to ‘redeem’ himself by taking a job in tiny Kusko, Alaska, and promises to stay a year. Soon he is lonely, low on cash and desperate to leave. It’s a rough, raw, harrowing and hilarious story…

Craig Dirkes

Craig Dirkes

Three more debuts offered visitors and readers alike attention-grabbing topics. The first was The Rule of Half, a novel by Jenna Patrick. It explores what it means to be an atypical family in a small town, mentally ill in the wake of a tragedy, and most importantly, who has the right to determine both. The second was To The Stars Through Difficulties, a charming history of the birth of a cultural center in the Plains by the No Guilt Quilters, a group whose foremothers built 59 Carnegie libraries in Kansas a century before. Gayle Brandeis called it a “wildly inspiring love letter to libraries, to art, to Kansas, to community.” A memoir that the Washingtonian Magazine called “…as riveting as a mystery and as filling as a feast,” was the last of these first-time authors’ book, I’m The One Who Got Away, by Andrea Jarrell. The book, which will be available September 5th, reads like a thriller, but it’s a true chronicle of the author who, as a child was a fugitive with her mother from a man as alluring as he is violent, and as an adult she has an epiphany when a woman she knows is murdered, and she realizes that it’s her mother’s choices she has been trying to escape all along.

From the left: Jenna Patrick, Andrea Jarrell and Romalyn Tilghman

From the left: Jenna Patrick, Andrea Jarrell and Romalyn Tilghman

bakingMelissa Palmer’s delightful Baking For Dave is a novel that addresses the fears that people with autism, or Sensory Processing Disorder, of any level confront in doing every day’s tasks. It does so with delicacy and a pleasant style, describing the ‘road trip’ of an adolescent who runs away to compete on a national bake-off. To get there, she will need to “borrow’ her mother’s car, cross stateliness, and do the most terrifying thing of all, interact with actual people! Ms. Palmer stated that she created the world and characters in the book building it on her experience with her two daughters.

Melissa Palmer

Melissa Palmer

Detroit Lions’ Don J. Carey III made an appearance, to the delight of football fans, so as to present his It’s Not Because I Am Better Than You!, a motivational and inspiring book that is aimed at providing a plan of sort for a successful life despite the odds and the environment in which one grows. This book may turn out to be a useful tool for people who want to overcome the habit of letting others decide what they are capable of…

Don J. Carey III with our Journalist Nicoletta Mita Dossena

Don J. Carey III with  Nicoletta Mita Dossena

Book Expo America 2017 (Part 3)

Tiziano Thomas Dossena with Marvin Scott

asisawitA definitely pleasant surprise was meeting Marvin Scott, the legendary journalist from WPIX Channel 11 who has left a deep imprint upon us all in the news field with his flawless and emotionally charged reporting. Looking exactly as I remembered seeing him on TV through the past thirty years, Mr. Scott confirmed himself to be a true gentleman and a pleasant conversationalist, offering us a summary of his book; a brief interview will appear on a separate article.   His nonfiction book, titled As I Saw It; A Reporter’s Intrepid Journey, is a reflection on the stories  that have stuck with him personally over the years, and the people who gave them life. From Dr. Martin Luther Kings’ marches to a tense interview with Yasser Arafat, from bringing Christmas to our troops to conversing with Marilyn Monroe, his more than 50 years adventure in reporting, which has brought him eleven Emmy Awards, is offered to us in passionate glimpses of the most heartfelt encounters and situations. This is a book that will be enjoyed by everyone.Roe_DePinto_ANewLifeBegins

Roe_DePinto_ANewLifeBegins1There was a sizable presence of children’s authors at the BEA, mostly presenting brightly illustrated books with a learning message, but some of them deserved special attention on our part because of their high quality of content or presentation.  Roe De Pinto’s series of books on Zealy, a little seal pup with sparkly eyes and beautiful, silky white fur, and Whubba, a precious baby orca whale, are visually pleasing and teach about friendship among different individuals. These are books to be praised for their sturdiness, an advantage for early readers, besides their content. A ‘bravo’ for the author’s as well as the publisher’s choices.

Dael Oates and Stephen Beck

Dael Oates and Stephen Beck

A really great visual experience can be lived by your children turning the page so The Adventures Of Cloud Girl, a smart view of a girl’s vision of the ever-changing images that can be found in clouds, when she lets her fantasy run wild… The illustrations are sweet and extremely well-conceived and drawn (Dael Oates and Stephen Beck, the authors and illustrators, are also professional cartoonists), making this a great choice for a young child…

James McNally’s two books, Of Ducks, Dogs And Children and The Shepherds’ Story, are marvelous gems of children’s books, with great stories, illustrations and moral teachings.

James McNally

James McNally

Aimed at people who want to improve both their career chances and their life, Take Charge Of Your View, Career Advice You Won’t Get From Your Boss is a brilliant manual that can really be useful if followed attentively. In it, Lisa Prior will teach you how to develop new skills for career and life, analyze various aspects of your life and behavior, and how to pitch to your boss without creating a confrontation. Charts, lists of useful tools, and plenty of examples enhance the book and make it even more enticing.

Annie Baker

Annie Baker

A superb work of drama, Annie Baker’s John is a play that received its Off-Broadway world premiere at The Pershing Square Signature Center in New York City. Theater lovers have now the opportunity to purchase the book with the play by this awarded playwright.

There were two books that touched me deeply for their content and the courage of their writers in approaching the subject. The first, Sleepwalker by Kathleen Frazier, is a compelling tale of the author’s terrifying experience with her somnambulism and her long travel to achieve freedom from this condition. Ms. Frazier bluntly describes her struggles, attempts and failures to find a solution and the final epiphany that brought her recovery from being a sleepwalker.

Kathleen Frazier

Kathleen Frazier

tryingTrying To Walk Like A Man, The Chris Wiehl Playbook is a wonderful autobiography by the actor/ filmmaker Chris Wiehl, written with ex-actor/writer John Turner; it has sensitivity, honesty and a true account of overcoming apparently unsurmountable difficulties that will grab the heart of the reader and will keep it prisoner until the end. In it, the author gets a brain tumor removed, leaving him partially deaf. It’s not only a story of a man prevailing over the aftereffects of a brain tumor, though, but it’s in reality two stories, one of them unwritten in this book: John Turner was also an actor when he was brutally assaulted and left with traumatic brain injury. After that incident, John no longer had the capabilities to perform, so he established a career as a writer.

Their book is therefore more meaningful because of the experience that Mr. Turner had, which allows him to capture Christopher Wiehl’s true feelings and passed them to the reader fully unaltered.

More children’s books at the Book Expo America 2017 attracted my eyes for their value as teaching life lessons while entertaining the child. One of them is Hey Mom, Can I Be Big?, an appealing story aimed at toddlers or early readers by Cari Pointer and illustrated by Hazel Quintanilla. The tale is simple and to the point: sometimes it’s easier being small and let someone big take care of you or protect you.

Cari Pointer

Cari Pointer

Erik Orejel and Jennie Wren

Erik Orejel and Jennie Wren

Another great writer for children was present with her last effort, Slicker McQuicker and the Rescue, where she emphasizes that friendship and safety are important. This book, written by the well-known Jennie Wren is one of the Slicker McQuicker series, deftly illustrated by Erik Orejel. An appealing character that has found great success among children, Slicker will be appearing in many more books…

In Rockstar Monkey, a great new book by Tiffany and illustrated by Alonzo, the main character Charlie dreams of being a rock star! Unfortunately, the other monkeys didn’t believe in his dream and discouraged him. Thank goodness he had a friend that encouraged him to believe in himself and know he could be anything he wanted to be! Rockstar Monkey encourages its readers to “Push to Achieve, Even When Others Don’t Believe!”rockstar_Monkey

 

Julian Lennon’s (yes, that Julian Lennon) Touch The Earth is a marvelous story aimed at making kids 3-6 years old  aware of the importance of water and how the lack or the poor quality of it may influence people’s lives. Excitingly illustrated by Smiljana Coh, the book is written at four hands with Bart Davis and it also contains a poem by Julian Lennon. A portion of proceeds from book sales will go to support the environmental and humanitarian efforts of The White Feather Foundation.touch the earth

Geoph Essex

Geoph Essex

Geoph Essex’s Lovely Assistant is an offbeat adventure of modern magic and mayhem, in which a reluctant magician’s assistant discovers the secrets of life and death, slowly and awkwardly, just in time to save the world from the oncoming apocalypse: a program into itself. Readers will love its quirky humor and outlook on life.

Written with a different perspective, The Curse Of The Werck Family, a set of two books, claim to have been given to the author by the spirit of a woman who accompanies her as a guardian angel. Written originally in Portuguese by Valeria Lopes, the books are quite interesting, especially for readers who like mysteries, and follow the events unleashed by the killing of a whole family during the Spanish Inquisition.thecurse

New York Times Best-selling author Jennifer Probst reveals her path to success, from struggling as a new writer to signing a seven-figure deal in Write Naked, in which she intermingles personal essays on craft with down-to-earth advice on writing romance in the digital age. This book will teach you how to commit to your current work-in-progress, get focused, and complete it on schedule, overcome writer’s block and also how to reveal raw emotions, develop themes, and write the most difficult elements of romance with skill and style. It’s practically a manual on writing romance novels, and a good one at that.write_naked

Another manual of sort is What You Need To Know to Go Global, A Guide to International Trade Transactions, by Stephen Creskoff. Obviously aimed at a limited readership, this book is a valuable implement to comprehend all the insights of international trade and could easily be used as a textbook in that subject.whatyouneed

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A thought-provoking book that answers very thorny questions regarding the use of fossil fuels and its damage to the environment, offering simple strategies to help you reduce your carbon footprint without abandoning common sense is The Carbon Code, How You Can Become A Climate Change Hero by Brett Favaro. The author claims that people don’t need to be climate change experts to be part of the solution, and that he will show you how to take ownership of your carbon footprint and adopt a lifestyle of conspicuous conservation that will spur governments and corporations to do the same. A great book for people who believe the Earth is worth saving. Bravo Brett!!

Lost dreams is a collection of short stories that were winners of a contest requesting nonfiction portrayals of loss in less than 4,000 words. The book wants to illustrate that dreams are lost in many ways and each will produce its own manner of grief, and by collecting these stories the editor, Dawn M. Bell, wants to encourage compassion for all types of loss, no matter the measure. She claims that ‘all loss is the loss of a dream. The dream is the path thought their life would take, how they envisioned their future. The path is irreversibly altered by the loss. While some losses may be deemed less painful, the first loss is ground zero for the sufferer. It’s the worst pain that person has ever felt and should not be minimized.” These stories offer a brief but significant view of how it is to walk in another person’s shoes.lostdreams

Another three days of scrambling through the booths to discover the hidden gems of the Book Expo America has gone by, but they were fruitful (though really shortened to two, thanks to the organizers) and these four articles proved it. Some authors’ interviews and book reviews will follow in time, but in the meanwhile I leave you with the recommendation to read and read again, because books are precious and so is your mind.

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