Wednesday, March 30, 2016

PUYB Virtual Book Club Chats with Patrick Barnes, author of The Avocadonine and Spring Stone

Thanks for joining us at the book club, Patrick.  Can we begin by having you tell us how you got into writing young adult fiction novels?
Writing young adult fiction novels has been a lifelong dream.  Some of my favorite books and movies are young adult fiction.  I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe.  Divergent by Veronica Roth.  Mean Girls by Tina Fey.  I like the competing ideologies among young adults.  I like stories about how those disagreements play out.  The Avocadonine and Spring Stone contains a dose of this philosophical discourse.

Where is your book set and why did you choose that location?

My book is set in the fictional town of Pemota, California.  The book revolves around avocados so it was important the book be set in California which is where most of the avocados in this country are grown.  I chose the fictional town of Pemota because I liked the idea that the book exist some place fantastic rather than some place grounded in reality.

Your young adult fiction novel sounds perfect for a movie!  If it were made into a movie, who would you want to play the main character?

I don’t know of any Hispanic actors around 15.  But I’m sure they could find someone.

I’d like to know more about your main character, can you tell us more about him/her?

Rey Naresh is a ninth grader hoping that life has more in store for him than being a social outcast on days when the class goes on trips.  He gets his wish.  He and his first girlfriend, Christy Lane, get a lot more than they bargained for when they uncover a conspiracy at their school that the administration seems to be colluding in.  Rey’s will power is tested and he needs to decide what he thinks about the ideological agenda that is being imposed on the ninth grade.

Can you tell us a little about the other supporting characters?

My favorite character in the book is Brianna Lane.  She’s very smart, beautiful, and a little evil, but likeable nonetheless.  Isabel, who is Rey’s Mom, is a journalist with secrets from the past that may tie into what is going on at Pemota High.  There’s Christy’s friend, Annette Oslow, who has dyed hair and bell bottom jeans, and there’s Ryan O’toole who is a good artist and one of the first to realize there is something strange going on at Pemota High. 

They say all fiction books have pivotal points in the book where the reader just can’t put the book down.  What’s one pivotal point in The Avocadonine and Spring Stone?

When we realize Brianna has been one step ahead of everyone the entire time and she visits the Dean of Pemota High.  Brianna is a really smart and cool girl and readers will find themselves getting behind her.

What’s next on the agenda for you, Patrick?

My next book!  It’s called The State of Audric and it’s basically writing itself.

What would you like to say to your readers and fans?

Tell people what you thought of my book and that they will enjoy is as much as you did.  Long live great YA fiction!

Inside the Book:

Title: The Avocadonine and Spring Stone
Author: Patrick Barnes
Publisher: Independent Self Publishing
Publication Date: January 26, 2015
Pages: 334
Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Book Description:

Praised by many as one of the best YA fiction books you’ll ever read.
Rey Naresh, a likeable kid worth rooting for, is going into the ninth grade at Pemota High.  He’s not sure what to expect being fresh off a visit with a gypsy who may or may not have been psychic, but he’s hoping in ninth grade he’ll get to meet his crush, the pretty green eyed, Christy Lane.  He’s wanted her to notice him since sixth grade and keeps a letter to her in his backpack.  The school bully, Huxley Core, and his friends, who call themselves Nadine’s Puppies, threaten to publish something about Rey in their libelous newsletter.  As Rey looks up at the stars one night he realizes he will have to confront Huxley and be man enough to make Christy fall for him.

One day, on the bus, fellow ninth grader, Ryan O’toole, says to Rey that there’s something wrong with something the students are drinking and that electronics are making a humming sound when he’s near them.  It sounds to Rey like looney toons, but are other students having a similar problem?  Rey and Christy unite and embark on a quest that seems to have to do with mind control by an evil administration and provides a quandary for philosophical thought.  A mystery seems to have taken hold of Pemota High, one that may stretch back generations to a malicious woman and a story of her relationship with a student named Spring Stone.

Book Excerpt:

“Der,” Huxley straddled the bench and sat down next to Joe, “It’s your newsletter.”  Huxley was tired of talking about the newsletter.  He didn’t write the articles, didn’t come up with the ideas, and didn’t care whether or not people came up to him in the hall and said, “Funny article Huxley.”  The newsletter was getting old.
Above them the branches of Douglas Fir Trees blew in the wind which was strong today.  Acorns like big caterpillar cocoons fell on the grass.  The Smokers Corner was inhabited by three others on this after school smoking session.  Sarah Wein was sucking on a Marlboro.  Her boyfriend Jonas Wilson was with her.  And their friend Jared McCurry had joined the smoking session.  The three of them were seniors and had no interest in the affairs of the ninth graders.
“Huxley, I read about this,” Der said.  “You got your switchblade?”
Switchblades were legal in Pemota, but carrying them concealed was not.  Huxley had sent away for his.  He slipped through the school’s doors each day switchblade in pocket, unbeknownst to the authorities, because Pemota High never had or would need metal detectors.
“Is this the PTSD thing?”  Joe asked, as he stomped on a cigarette.
Der had learned about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from The Deer Hunter.  He found it on the internet and learned it was caused by intense fear and anger under helpless conditions.  Der thought it was possible to institute the disorder without a combat circumstance.  Huxley and Joe strongly disagreed.
“Der,” Huxley chided, “That’s for people in Vietnam.”
“This will be like Vietnam,” Der said, “Just do what I say.”
Huxley and Joe looked at each other.  Joe gave a shrug and that was enough for them both to know they would go along with what Der had in mind.  Der pointed to the wide arcing sidewalk corner, “Stand there, pop it out, and show it to them.”
Joe said under his breath, “That’s what she said.”
Huxley laughed at Joe’s favorite thing to say.  It never seemed to get old.  Christy and Rey were approaching cautiously.  Then Christy stopped.  Huxley was standing there with a switchblade in his hand.  He held his hand knuckles up.  Then he dropped the switchblade to his side and started doing Karate like movements with it.
Rey looked at Christy noticing she had turned bright red.  “Huxley, if you hurt us you’re going to jail,” she screamed.
“Tell them if they ignore the insults they can gain entrance to Harper Way,” Der said.
“If you ignore the insults you can gain entrance to Harper Way,” Huxley said adding a few Karate chops.
Normally, Huxley didn’t intimidate Rey.  But normally, Huxley didn’t have a switchblade in his hand.  A thick powerful wind shook Rey and Christy’s T-shirts around as they pushed forward but going nowhere.  The Douglas Fir Trees shielded the Smokers Corner.  Rey thought the smartest decision was to go back to the school.  He could sit with Christy and wait for a ride, but then Christy would have to meet his Mom, and that would surely be embarrassing.  He also didn’t want to look like a “pussy” as Huxley had called him in front of both Christy and Huxley.
“What do you want to do?”  Rey asked.
“They won’t do anything,” Christy said.  She put her hand on Rey’s back and pushed him forward with her.  She walked forward determined.
On the Smokers Corner, Der had taken Huxley’s place on the bench.  “Verbal assault,” he said quietly.  “It’s what PTSD was made for.”
“You sure, Der?”  Joe asked.
Der nodded then called out: “Hey Christy.  Did you hear David Benson has a horse named Christy?  We all sit around wondering if you like to hang out in his stable.”
“That ponytail is like a mane,” Joe joined in, “You can just hold on to it and go for a ride.”  Joe found this comment extremely depressing as he did think Christy was pretty, and would barely acknowledge it to himself.
“Christy, let us take turns.  Let us ride you like you’re a pony.”  Der stood up at that point, and threw his arm forward like he was punching them.  “Rey, is that your bitch, because I’ve seen better looking horses at the Kentucky Derby.”
As they approached, Huxley rounded the arcing corner doing karate moves, keeping them aware of the switchblade.  Christy had tears in her eyes Rey noticed.  He put his hand on her back briefly.  His heart was doing jumping jacks, his face was blushed, and he felt sweat seeping out of every pore in his body.
“Aw, the stable masters come to give the horse a pat on the back.  To be a beastiality loving stable master from Mexico.”  Der looked at Joe who seemed to be speechless.  “Rey when you ask her for her number make sure it’s not her racing ID.  I’m sure she’s stamped somewhere.  They’ve got her on file at the racing bureau.  You can probably get her number there.”
Christy and Rey were feet away from Harper Way and in twenty more yards would be free as flying sparrows.  Rey was dying to stand up for her.  Sarah stood up for them instead.  “Jesus Christ guys, leave them alone.  They didn’t do anything to you.”
Der paid Sarah no mind.  “Does your sister ride you at home?  Is that why you hate her so much?  Does she pull on the reins and dig her spurs into your sides.”
Christy was growing more and more infuriated.  She began to feel like she was going to explode and that her whole life would be ruined if she didn’t say something.
“Hey Christy,” Huxley said, sounding very uncharacteristically serious.  “What’s it like to always be second?  What’s it like when everywhere you go you’re just a reminder of Brianna? She’s cooler, smarter, prettier.  You’re just the little sister that’s always about to cry.”
Christy turned to Huxley, her hands balled into fists.  “What’s it like to always be first Huxley?  What’s it like to have a sister that’s dead?  What’s it like to have no one to stop you from messing up your life because no one cares about you?  What’s it like ...”  She stopped when she saw Huxley’s facial expression.
For Rey everything seemed to stop in that moment.  Then time got reinstated.  Huxley’s smile was gone, and he started to walk towards them.  Christy and Rey saw his cold vicious eyes and they ran.  They were at the end of Harper Way, when Huxley started to give chase.

For More Information:
The Avocadonine and Spring Stone is available at AmazonBarnes & Noble, and Goodreads

Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads

Meet the Author

Patrick Barnes lives in Charleston, South Carolina.  The Avocadonine and Spring Stone is his second book.  It has been awarded a five star review from Readers Favorite, and a four and a half star average among critics on  He has a Bachelors Degree in Film and Writing from the University of Massachusetts and a Masters in Library Science from the University of South Carolina.  He has won first place in Arts and Entertainment Writing at the Yankee Penn Journalism Conference, and has worked as a Librarian at the Folly Beach Public Library.  When he’s not writing, he likes to walk on the beach with his dog, and watch movies.

For More Information:

Virtual Book Tour

PUYB Chats with Gail Tolstoi-Miller, author of 'Networking Karma'

She is a former "goth" girl, a soccer mom, career coach and an avowed introvert who transformed herself to become a successful dual CEO of Consultnetworx™, a consulting/staffing firm and Speednetworx™, a B2B speed networking event company. Her companies are focused on connecting people for mutual fit and success.

As someone who always preferred solitude and time for reflection, Gail struggled for decades with social interaction, small talk and networking; but knew she would have to master these skills to reach her goals. When Gail began to focus on others instead of herself she saw her opportunities skyrocket.
During her 20+ years as a staffing strategist, Gail has coached thousands of job seekers and discovered a startling truth; that those with the strongest networks and the most generous spirits always landed the best jobs in the shortest amount of time. In fact, Gail credits her own success to her mindful giving of care, compassion, and guidance in all areas of life. In other words, she's living proof that Networking Karma works!

And now, to fully live by her beliefs, Gail is sharing these secrets with her readers in her first book, Networking Karma.

Amidst the shrinking job market, Tolstoi-Miller's innovative approach to business and life has singled her out as a resource in her field.  She’s frequently sought after by many media outlets, including Forbes, FOX Business, msn careers, and others, where she shares her ideas on networking, recruiting and the job market. Gail has received the NJBIZ Best 50 Women in Business 2013 award as well as the Top 2014 and Top 2015 Business awards. She was also named Leading Women Entrepreneur finalist, and selected as a finalist by Enterprising Women of the Year 2013.  Gail has a Bachelor's from NYU.

For More Information
About the Book:

Are you Awkward? Uncertain? Even jittery at networking events?

Author Gail Tolstoi Miller, an award-winning entrepreneur and successful CEO, feels your pain. In fact, she spent years experiencing the same emotions when networking. An avowed introvert, Gail discovered a powerful and universal law of connecting, she calls Networking Karma. And when she embraced it, Gail put those anxious, apprehensive interactions behind her to become a career coach
and owner of a networking event planning company.

Now, Tolstoi-Miller shares her secrets with you in her new book, Networking Karma.

If you are trying desperately to get past the constant inadequacy you feel every time you try to attend a networking event, this book is for you!

Networking Karma is a mindful approach to living that asks you to consider each chance meeting and budding relationship as an opportunity to inform, assist, advocate or connect others. “Embracing this spirit of selflessness,” Tolstoi-Miller says, “is the key to building a professional and personal fan base; one that will ultimately return your kindness in unknown and awesome ways. “

Networking Karma proves that life is not “all about me.” In fact, Tolstoi-Miller reveals that the most successful networkers are on a constant mission of “giving.” 

Throughout this book, you will explore dozens of essential and specific Networking Karma to-do’s; powerful ideas you can implement immediately. Shared by some of today’s hottest thought leaders, speakers and business trailblazers, these proven tactics are absolutely essential to getting the edge you need to succeed in business and in life.

Written in a fast-paced, no-holds barred style and steeped in real-world situations, Networking Karma reveals:
  • The negative beliefs that hold you back from networking success, and the 6 empowering steps to overcome them.
  • Why Speed Networking is more fun and effective than absolutely any traditional networking method you’ve ever tried.
  • 3 unique and foolproof strategies for breaking the ice at your next networking event.
  • The 3 vital building blocks to your personal branding success.
  • A surprising fashion “don’t” that may make you appear more successful to others.
  • 10 ways your body language can work to your advantage
  • The simple secret to creating a strong elevator pitch and the best place to test it out.
  • How to turn passive listening into active listening, to attract important new contacts.
  • Smart strategies for bringing stalled conversations to an end—without offending!
  • 3 creative approaches to business card design that will launch countless conversations
  • How to provide value, build awareness, nurture relationship and establish relevance through proper social media avenues
  • The dramatic personal and professional benefits you can acquire through mentoring relationships.
  • BONUS: The #1, can’t-fail networking approach to becoming the most visible and unforgettable person in the room. Hint: It’s all about Karma.
PLUS, exclusive guides, cheat sheets, checklists and secret resources, available only to Networking Karma readers.

Read Networking Karma and integrate its law and lessons into your life. No matter how introverted, shy, awkward or uncertain you are when it comes to networking, you’ll get past your sticking points and see your relationships--and dreams--take shape.

For More Information

Before you started writing your book, what kind of research did you do to prepare yourself?

Before writing Networking Karma, I reached out to other authors for advice and ideas. I also did a lot of research online to get an overview of the process of writing and publishing.

Did you pursue publishers or did you opt to self-pub?

I never considered pursuing a publisher since I had no experience as a writer. I met other entrepreneurs who had successfully self-published business and self-help books so I knew it was something I could do.

If self-published, did you hire someone to format the ebook version for you or did you do it yourself?  Can you tell us what that was like?

Ingram Spark converted the file to an .epub for a fee. This was easier and less expensive than some other options I had explored.

If self-published, how did you determine the price?

I researched the cover price of other books with a similar page count that were in the category. I thought I should keep the price in the mid-range. I came up with a price and then consulted with my business coach. She integrates eastern numerology into her advice. Together, we established a “fortunate” price that would give Networking Karma the best advantage.

Did you purposefully choose a distinct month to release your book?  Why?

Yes, I released the book in February to coincide with the month of the Chinese New Year. This is a month of great significance as it represents the changing of the calendar and new beginnings. Additionally, since the book speaks to spiritual and philosophical elements of the eastern culture, I thought it would be appropriate.

How did you choose your cover?

I launched a design contest on the creative website so that I had several directions from which to choose. I provided parameters at the start of the contest; although I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted, I knew I would know it when I saw it. It was important to me that the design would pop off the shelves. I always believe that a clean, white space looks best. I specified red and black in the design so that the book would connect with the brand colors of my businesses. I was drawn to the vertical title treatment because it is interesting and different. The swirl design in the art symbolizes the cyclical energy of Karma. This is a vital element in the book so I wanted it to be included in the cover design, as well. In fact, each chapter begins with the same graphic.

Did you write your book, then revise or revise as you went?

I revised the book as I went through the writing process.

Did you come up with special swag for your book and how are you using it to help get the word out about your book?

My book’s cover features a swirl logo that represents the karmic nature of networking. I am creating brand merchandise (including mugs and shirts) to strengthen the message of Networking Karma.

Did you consider making or hiring someone to make a book trailer for your book?  If so, what’s the link?

Yes, it was a trying experience. First, I hired a reputable company to create a slick, feature-quality production. I was extremely unhappy with the work and I had to halt production. I ended up going in a completely different direction with my trailer and I’m very happy with the results. Here it is:

What’s your opinion on giving your book away to sell other copies of your book?

I have a give-away contest on Goodreads and I have also sent out copies to reviewers. I think it is fine to give away books as long as there is a strategy behind it. The ROI needs to be considered.

What are three of the most important things you believe an author should do before their book is released?

Before a book is released, there are a lot of things to be considered. First and foremost, authors should think about strategic relationships. Who are the people who can help you to reach your best audience? Make a list of them and then attempt to develop a rapport with these people. Second, be ready to introduce your book to the world via the Internet. Create/set up a dedicated web site and social media pages, and have blurbs, bios and messaging ready to go. Third, if the book is business related, be sure there is synergy with your established brand and co-brand your book accordingly.

What are three of the most important things you believe an author should do after their book is released?

Authors should take an active approach to getting the word out through social media, podcasts and publications. Blogging on your own blog, as well as for other outlets is also a great way to build ongoing buzz.

What kind of pre-promotion did you do before the book came out? 

I used my website as a lead generator to build a list of potential readers. I also set up a Facebook page, blogged and used social media to share content to build up interest. I mentioned the upcoming book in all of my speaking engagements, articles and podcast interviews and drove people to the Networking Karma website.

Do you have a long term plan with your book?

Yes, I want to continue to get the message out because I believe every single person could benefit from embracing the spirit of Networking Karma. I also plan to use the book as a tool to enhance my thought leadership. I have a career coaching business, which will soon offer an online portal for job seekers. I am also planning a tour of college campuses to help students leverage the information in Networking Karma to help them reach their full potential in life!

What would you like to say to your readers and fans about your book?

There are a lot of networking books that provide tips and to-dos to help readers become better networkers. The truth is, most people buy these books and never do the things that the author recommend. Why? Because of fear.

Fear of networking. Fear of failure. Fear of the unknown.

I address this fear in Networking Karma. With some self-reflection and visualization exercises, readers can get past this fear and start putting the book’s unique content to work for them. In addition to dozens of tips, secrets and to-dos, which I share from my personal experiences, the book features guest contributors who are industry powerhouses. From the world’s foremost authority on body language to a fashion industry icon; from an insanely popular LinkedIn Makeover expert to a master storyteller—and more—their help and guidance is found in the pages of Networking Karma. I truly believe this abundance of insight, ideas and inspiration will help readers connect and conquer anything!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

PUYB Virtual Book Club Chats with Thomas Barr Jr, author of Risen

Thanks for joining us at the book club, Thomas.  Can we begin by having you tell us how you got into writing urban fiction novels?

I’m glad to be here.  As a young person I would write short stories while in class and I would receiving glowing compliments from my teachers.  I turned my focus to writing urban fiction novels because I was passionate about telling the stories of city life among African-Americans. 

Where is your book set and why did you choose that location?

My book takes place in Atlanta, Orlando and lastly Miami.  Miami is a huge diverse metropolitan city with a lot of history. 

Your urban fiction novel sounds perfect for a movie!  If it were made into a movie, who would you want to play the main character? 

I think Forest Whitaker would make a great main character for a movie adaptation of the book.

I’d like to know more about your main character, can you tell us more about him/her?

The main character is Chauncey Miller.  He founded one of the first Mega-Churches in Miami before they became to be known as “Mega-Churches”.  He is college educated and is well versed in the study of various religions. 

Can you tell us a little about the other supporting characters?

Chauncey’s mentor and professors heavily influences his ideology.  He also has a number of foot soldiers that carry out his directives. 

They say all fiction books have pivotal points in the book where the reader just can’t put the book down.  What’s one pivotal point in Risen

When Chauncey converts from Christianity to Muslim. 

What’s next on the agenda for you, Thomas?  

What’s next for me is to keep writing!  Watch for the next book release!

What would you like to say to your readers and fans? 

Get the book.  It’s a great read and follow me on social media!

Inside the Book:

Title: Risen
Author: Thomas Barr Jr.
Publisher: Printhouse Books
Publication Date: January 15, 2016
Pages: 188
ISBN: 978-0997001624
Genre: Urban Fiction

Book Description:

The growth of "Mega churches" has risen considerably in the 21st century as compared to the past. Miami Urban Chronicles Volume I: Risen, seeks to set forth a fictional biopic of the rise of spiritual leader Yahweh Ben Yahweh of the Liberty City based movement the Nation of Yahweh, "Ben Yahweh's."

Chauncey Miller, the main character in the story is determined to be a success. He uses his natural skills of cultivating relationships and influence to draw his followers. Despite his meager rural southern background he dreams big and takes risks head-on in realization of his goals. It is significant in modern 21st century times that individuals take control of their life's path. The urban youth particularly need to realize by making deliberate decisions concerning their life they can live their dreams.

Chauncey meets a mentor whom cultivates his ideology and sharpens his mediation skills in working with people. He harnesses his skills by working with the youth ministry of a local church. As he attends college he learns the basics of economics and administration in his courses. He understands education is just one tool that can help him along his path. Individuals must utilize opportunities as they present themselves along life's path. The main character seizes upon this truth and follows it down the rabbit hole in a manner of speaking.

In most communities the Church is a place of worship, fellowship, family, communal meetings and refuge. Individuals seek comfort in its walls and the main character leverages this in amassing followers. Modern successful pastors have PhD's and fancy seminary school training. The main character can be viewed as the progenitor to the modern "Mega church" system. He is of the conviction that god must call a person to preach which is a spiritual mission.

The main character takes this mission on as any other profession and is determined to be a success as a spiritual leader, messenger of god, as well as a successful business entrepreneur. The main character goes from city to city while growing his followership and refining his professional talents. In addition his studies have led to him evolving his religious convictions.

The story enthralls with the turmoil of power, beliefs, sex, control, and all the human pitfalls that too often affect successful professionals. In desiring success and wealth upon any career path it is important to maintain composure. Chauncey, although a spiritual leader, is in realization of this truth.
In paralleling the lifestyles of the larger community many individuals become disillusioned and pigeonhole themselves. Only in selflessness can individuals walk a blemish-less path. Particularly urban youth must learn the lesson in traversing modern life goal paths in reaching their dreams.

This chronicle wraps with Chauncey answering to the communal guidelines of this prescribed society. All must answer to the allegations of their fellow community members and none is an exception to this rule. In acquisition of success and goal setting humility can be a lifesaver.

Book Excerpt:

Chauncey Miller was a Carolina native that grew up in the south and knew the hard work of the tobacco fields.  Raised in a Christian household he was fascinated with the bible and studied religion with a fervor.  Little did his contemporaries know that he would rise to the level of a spiritual leader commanding a multi-million dollar enterprise.  They surely wouldn’t realize that he was a megalomaniac capable of manipulating a band of killers.
It’s a sunny afternoon in 1976 and Chauncey was on the corner of 125th Peachtree Street in Atlanta, Georgia.  He had a stack of paper leaflets, as he is approached by pedestrians he offered a flyer to a man dressed in a black suit.  The man took the flyer and read it, mouthed the words soundlessly.        
“Do you believe in god,” asked the man in black.
“Surely I do,” responded Chauncey sternly. 
The man continued to look at the flyer; he wore iron rimmed glasses and had shiny black shoes. 
“I’m a history professor at the local community college and would like to have you join one of my focus group,” he asked. 
The man stood and looked Chauncey in the face awaiting an answer to his inquiry.  Chauncey had not expected such an immediate attention to himself and paused in response noting the man’s patient nature.
“I’m not sure what focus groups do but if you give me the address I’ll check it out,” said Chauncey.
The man pulled a business card from his blazer and handed it to Chauncey as pedestrians ushered pass them on the street.  No one seemed to notice the exchange between the two men and was oblivious of them obstructing the walk way as they chatted. 
“Don’t worry you’ll find out when you show,” the man replied. 
He placed the flyer Chauncey had been passing to people on the street in his coat and continued on his way.  Chauncey looked down at the flyers he had been passing out for the street team company. He had been working for the company weekends and at afterhours bar locations.  Exhausted he read it. It said, let me tell you why the white man is the devil.  Come hear CL Cayman speak truth to power at White Hall located on Jackie Robinson Avenue.   
Chauncey never took notice of the leaflets he passed along to pedestrians and this one had a very inquisitive message.  He wondered about the thoughts of the gentleman in which he had just met, had the message affected him so profoundly?  He took the business card from his pocket looked at the address and contemplated the location.  He had seen the address before on something he read at home and could not recall it do to his momentary failing memory.    
The stack of leaflets sat on the sidewalk near a lamp post.  A gust of wind arose that blew some of the top flyers into the street.  The sudden barrage of papers broke his thoughts and he scrambled to grab them as people continued to bustle past.
“Get out the street,” yelled a disgruntled driver.
            He blew his horn as he drove past and Chauncey continued to pick up the flyers ignoring the outburst.  Chauncey had hardened his feelings to ridicule and he believed with his ability to project an icy persona could ward off potential personal threats.  He had developed this ability while in grade school and used it throughout his young adult life as he entered his college years.  As a youth he had dealt with bullies and experienced being singled out for jokes among friends in the neighborhood.
            He decided he would attend the focus group the following day after his last class on campus and find out more about the strange gentleman that intrigued him on their meet.
Claude Donors was a tall wiry light skinned complexioned man with green eyes in his sixties and did social research on religions in historical contexts.  He was an eccentric man with a direct nature.  Chauncey’s curiosity of the gentleman had led him to the campus upon the issued invitation.  Chauncey entered his office at the university and was immediately stopped at the door by Donor’s secretary. 
“I’m sorry sir do you have an appointment?”  She inquired. 
The young woman was very pretty and Chauncey noticed that she had a curvy figure.  He could see that she was highly educated by the way she addressed him.  She was smartly dressed in a business suit.  She smelled of light perfume and mints.  Her hair was penned up into a bun and she sat positioned at her office desk.  He quickly handed over the business card given him and she looked at the back of the card for a moment.
“Have a seat Dr. Donors will be with you in a minute,” said the young lady. 
Chauncey took back the card he had given the girl and looked on the back of it as she did, his curiosity peeked.  Let this man pass, it said written in a very legible hand written signature.  He had not noticed it the entire time he had possession of the card and was surprised at himself for not realizing that fact.                
    As he sat awaiting Dr. Donors he noticed the office was cozy and decorated with plaques along the light blue colored walls.  The carpet smelled as if it was freshly vacuumed and it being in the late evening not much pedestrian traffic came in or out.  He noticed the young lady pick up the phone a number of times and she talked for just a few minutes on each instance.  He assumed it was Donors and thought if he made the right decision in coming.  Just as the thought popped in his head Donors brushed by him.
“Let’s go young man, we’re late.” He said. 
Chauncey was out of his chair and behind Donors as he strode down the hallway taking giant steps to quickly reach his desired location. 
“My focus group is designed to record the assumptions, thoughts and impressions of religion on the average working class individual,” he said as they walked. 
“By the way what’s your name?” he asked turning to look at Chauncey. 
“Chauncey Miller,” Chauncey replied.
“Well Mr. Miller you should find this to be very interesting,” he said as they entered a room with about seven people sitting around a circular table.  Upon introduction by the four males and three females it was noted two were teachers, one was a factory worker, two were students, one was a paramedic and one was a shop keeper.  The questions posed to the group were designed to elicit discussion and all responses were recorded by the professor.
The first question posed was do you believe in god followed up with what do you think about religion.  All the participants believed in god but it was interesting to see their apparent ambiguity in the actual practice of religion.  As the professor guided the group’s discussion a light bulb went off in Chauncey’s head.  He had wondered throughout his life what his purpose was in this world.  He had attended college and taken on various odd jobs to support himself in the city.  He’d bounced around in search of a career interest to no avail.  He was articulate and well regarded for his ability to persuade others.  In observing the professor’s research he saw a need and an opportunity that could possibly be exploited.  He decided from that instance he wanted to know more about the professor and the purpose for his work. 
The session ended after about an hour of discussion and all the participants departed leaving Chauncey along with the professor in the room.  As the professor put the finishing touches on the session notes Chauncey broke the silence which permeated the room after the last departed guest.

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Meet the Author

Born in Lake City, South Carolina home of the 2nd African American astronaut, killed on the Challenger space mission, Dr. Ronald E. McNair.  I was the grandson of a share cropper whom taught me about hard work and education.  At age 17 I began college at Bethune-Cookman University and graduated Cum Laude with honors.  While in college I was inspired to write when I read the novel, Black Boy by Richard Wright.  I began writing short stories for campus publications and won a $500 dollar publication contest in a local campus circular.  I Entered the Air Force after college and spent two tours of duty in the gulf during the Persian Gulf War.  Upon leaving the Military I went back to school and completed graduate school at the University of Akron in Ohio earning a master of public administration.  I began a career in government as an Intern with the Ohio legislature and later became employed with the Florida Senate as a legislative assistant.   I currently work for the City of Miami as a civil servant in administration.
See website for more details.

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