In Conversation with Wayne Byrne, Author of The Cinema of Tom DiCillo: Include Me Out

Title: The Cinema of Tom DiCillo: Include Me Out
Author:  Wayne Byrne
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Released: September 2017
Pages: 208
ISBN: 9780231185356

The Cinema of Tom DiCillo

As the author of this insightful and entertaining book, he delves in deep and comes up with the goods. Through his conversations with Tom we see the thought processes and strategies on each of his films, his hopes and frustrations, and everything in between. One thing about Tom, he doesn’t hold back. We also hear from many of Tom’s collaborators, and he has worked with some of the best in this business.

In short, this wonderful book details the ultimate triumphant journey of one of independent cinema’s smartest, funniest and fiercest warriors. ~ Steve Buscemi


As a long-time fan of the award-winning, independent, New York filmmaker and recording artist, I was very excited to be among the first readers of Wayne Byrne’s well-written, fascinating, detailed analysis of The Cinema of Tom DiCillo.  Irish author Wayne Byrne’s book is comprised of a series of essays about each of DiCillo’s eight films – Johnny Suede, Living in Oblivion, Box of Moonlight, The Real Blonde, Double Whammy, Delirious, When You’re Strange: A Film About The Doors, and Down in Shadowland – embellished with insider insight from some of the films’ stars.

Wayne, congratulations on your auspicious debut as a writer! I read somewhere that you never intended to be a writer, so how was it that you became one?

Thank you, Christine.  It’s such a great feeling whenever I hear those words.  It reminds me that the book is a real thing.  I’m getting used to the thrill of walking into a book store and seeing it on the shelf.

What I meant by that reference to never intending to be a writer was that I never consciously set out to become one, in the sense that I never said, “I would love to be a  writer when I grow up,” nor ever pursued it academically.  It just wasn’t on my radar when wondering what to do with myself.  I always thought writers were Ivy League academic types, an exclusive club that I would never be privy to, and my not being academically inclined meant it was just never a consideration.

I wrote this book out of necessity.  I wanted to own a book on Tom DiCillo and for that to happen I had to write it myself.  That is the essence of the “accidental writer” quote you are referring to.

Even though writing is now my life, there’s an element of accident, or perhaps fate, to my professional breakthroughs.  At some stage many years ago, I started writing my own movie reviews for nothing other than the fun of cataloging what I was watching.  At the suggestion of my friend I submitted this massive portfolio of amateur scribbling to the editor of a newspaper just for the sake of doing something with them.  I didn’t think anything would come of it, and looking back on those writings now, I’m surprised something did.  The editor replied to set up a meeting with me.  So, I went in and he pretty much hired me then and there as their film critic and columnist.  I couldn’t believe it!  I did that for two years, before the Arts pages were cut from the paper to allow for more advertising inches.  But it was the springboard for my professional writing career.

I’m currently a music journalist, again not something I intentionally set out to do.  I was asked by the editor of a highly-regarded magazine here in Ireland called Hot Press if I would be interested in joining them as a regular contributor.  This was after I had sold to them what I thought was a one-off freelance piece that I wrote about a musician friend of mine.  I’ve been an avid reader of that magazine for twenty years so it’s very exciting to now be part of it.  What an honor to be asked to join them.

I’m familiar with Hot Press as I’ve been to Ireland three times and read it while I was there. It’s an excellent magazine! I think that being a music journalist is possibly one of the coolest jobs in the world. Do you still have fun with it or is it simply work?

Oh I absolutely have fun. Of course there are occasions where you don’t necessarily like a band that you are reviewing, either live or their album, or you’re not familiar with an artist that you have to interview, but you have to be fair and diligent and go do your homework and have some context going in.  Often I end up very surprised that I like an album that I would normally have reservations about.  If I’m unfamiliar with a band who I’m reviewing I will often go and listen to their back catalogue.  But yes, I am fully aware of how cool a job it is.  Getting paid to go to a Morrissey concert or listen to the new Weezer album?  Hell yes!  But it is an important magazine and I treat it as such, with absolute professionalism.

Can you speak to your process as a writer? Where do you like to write? Do you listen to music when you’re writing?

My process has certainly changed over time, having become busier and juggling various writing jobs. When I began writing The Cinema of Tom DiCillo, I wasn’t under any contract, I had no publishing deal, and so I had no deadline.  While there was a certain level of uncertainty there in not knowing if all of this work was ever going to be published or not, it also gave me complete freedom of time and effort.  It allowed me to write the book I truly wanted to write.  It meant I could wait for people to become free to interview them.  If a very busy actor said they could talk to me in two months that was fine, I would wait, rather than having to move on without them.  Only when I was ready and happy with my book, and had satisfactorily covered everything I wanted to, did I say, “it’s finished!”  It took me nearly five years, from developing the idea, research, interviews, writing, editing, getting a publishing deal, proofreading the final text, arranging the illustrative materials, coordinating all the Interview Release Forms, and then seeing it published.

It sounds like a long time, but it is time-consuming, especially in wanting it to be of an extremely high quality and a definitive study of Tom’s work, and I was also learning to become a writer as I wrote.  I have no formal training and I’ve never taken a class on writing or literature; I learned as I was doing it.  I don’t know if that would work for everyone, but it worked for me.  And after it was finished, I submitted the manuscript to some publishing houses and there weren’t too many people I sent it to before I got the reply that I wanted.  I knew I wanted to sign with Columbia because they own Wallflower Press, an imprint that has released some of the absolute best books on films and directors.  It was the company I had always wished would release a book on Tom DiCillo. And now they have, but I wrote it, which is still surreal to me.

I tend to write exclusively, at home. If I don’t have my easy chair by the fireplace, then I don’t write. I don’t listen to music while working on the books, but when I’m writing about a specific film I will have it playing in the background, so I can jump in at any time to analyze a particular scene for any number of reasons: thematically, aesthetically, technically.

But when writing for the magazine I do listen to music, because I have to if I’m discussing a particular album or song, and so I will inevitably end up hearing something, some small musical flourish or nuance in a song that I didn’t hear upon first listen but I can now work it into the article or review.

One thing that you and I have in common is that we have both met Tom DiCillo and have had the pleasure of getting to know him. How did you initially meet Tom and how long did you know him before you decided to write a book about his films?

My first contact with Tom was just as a fan, contributing conversation to his blog posts. Soon enough I had cause to contact him in a professional capacity to request an interview for the release of When You’re Strange, as I was writing about it in my coverage of various film festivals.  The idea for the book came about a year into being acquainted with Tom personally, having written him several times and covered his work for various publications.  It was during this period that I mentioned to Tom that I had wanted to buy a book on his work for many years but all I could find were some career overviews in film encyclopedias and reference books; no books wholly devoted to him.  So, at some stage I put forward the idea that I wanted to write the first book on his career.

As Tom is my favorite director, I knew I was in this rare position of being able to talk to him and pick his brain.  Before I began the actual work I experienced some moments of insecurity, not knowing a single thing about how to write a book, and I started questioning how you go about doing that – do you have to go to college to be a writer? How do you become a published author?  I really didn’t know how the whole system of professional writing worked.  But when Tom gave me his blessing and support it encouraged me to just go for it, to write it and worry about becoming published later.

How difficult was it to gain access to the actors that you interviewed for the book?

Not difficult at all, thankfully, for 99% of them.  In almost all cases Tom introduced me personally to the actor and we talked and arranged everything between us.  Brad Pitt was a different story.  There was a team of “people” I had to maneuver through. I would get some positive responses such as “Brad is considering it but is very busy at the moment and will get back to you.”  This went on for a period of time and at this stage I was close to finishing the book.  I felt it was just about ready, so spending more time waiting on responses from people was starting to drag the whole endeavor out.  I asked once more, stating that I needed to know if Brad was in or out because I had to finish the book and they came back and said Brad had, after carefully considering it, decided he could not contribute at that time.  While it wasn’t the answer I would have liked, especially after the kernels of hope I had received, I appreciated that it was at least a firm answer.

Who would you say provided you with the most detailed insight into Tom’s process as a filmmaker, aside from Tom?

It’s hard to name any one person.  Everyone brought their own great insights into Tom, but Catherine Keener, Steve Buscemi, and Chris Noth gave me perhaps the most detailed account of what Tom is like as a person and as a filmmaker, because they have either worked with him a lot or have known him for a long time.  In the case of Chris Noth, he and Tom’s friendship goes back to their acting class and cater-waiting days in the early-eighties.  Chris gave me so much insight.  We spoke at length about their very long friendship, reminiscing about the old days of trying to make it in movies in New York in the 1980s, and their time working together on Law & Order.  Likewise, Steve Buscemi has known Tom since around that time as well and so there’s a great history there between them.

What was the most surprising thing that you learned about him?

It was fascinating to discover the intimate details of his life before the films and the fame: his background, his family life, his influences, his world view, and the relationships created early on with other artists.  It was those more personal moments that were revelatory, and very interesting and rewarding to me as a writer.  No detail was too minor or superfluous.  It all added up to help me create what I hope is a definitive work of this great artist.

I believe your book is the definitive work about Tom DiCillo.

I really appreciate that, Christine. I’m happy to have written something that would be considered Wayne Byrnedefinitive, but I also always look forward to any other film commentators or scholars writing about Tom, I would always be interested to hear of other people’s opinions on the films, maybe spotting something I didn’t see or analyzing something from a different perspective.  The great thing about any arts criticism is that it’s completely subjective.  Every person brings their own personal history and sensibilities to their experience of a work that makes it exclusively their own. What I see in Tom’s work could be completely different to what another writer sees, and I would always be interested to hear what other people see in his work.

I find it difficult to pick a favorite of Tom’s films, can you?

It depends on what day of the week it is.  I find it hard to pick one favorite, but I do know the ones I connect most immediately with for different reasons.  Johnny Suede will always be the most important film for me, so it is probably my personal favorite, as it was the film that opened my eyes to cinema.  It’s because of that film that we’re having this interview.  While Living In Oblivion is perhaps the definitive DiCillo film, being so perfect in every way, and being released at the time it was, it’s such a crucial piece of American Independent Cinema.  But, objectively speaking, I do think that Delirious is a frontrunner as his best work.

That said, I have programmed Tom’s films at many events (festivals, clubs, etc.) and the film that most people tell me is their favorite is Box of Moonlight.  Something about that film really clicks with audiences.  What Al Fountain (John Turturro) experiences in that film is probably something many people experience in their lives at some point, and Tom pulls it off with such cinematic skill, a deft surrealist aesthetic, and with great humor and pathos, those elements which are so distinctly DiCillo.

I agree with you about Delirious.

It’s a masterpiece. It has such a vital energy, such a range of emotion, and a stunning command of style. Tom was really firing on all cylinders on that one; the performances speak for themselves, and it has some of the best scenes of Tom’s entire catalogue.  For me it is easily the best American film of the last decade. Certainly it’s my favorite film to come out since Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut.

For me, one of the things I enjoyed the most about your book was that you elaborated on the themes that run throughout Tom’s films. Can you reiterate those themes for my readers?

Yes, of course.  It is one of the main objectives of the book, to acknowledge and analyze the crucial and relevant themes that run throughout Tom’s films.  I have always been very unsatisfied with critical commentary of Tom’s work, because very few, if any, acknowledge the themes at the heart of the films.  Rather, they look to the immediate context of satire, trying to pick up on sly digs here and there at these venerated institutions, painting Tom as purely an iconoclast.  And that’s fine, but there is so much more to Tom’s films than that.  I think a lot of critics overlook the pathos of Tom’s work.

Look at the thread of familial discord that runs through from Johnny Suede right up to Down in Shadowland.  Even When You’re Strange, a film about The Doors, shares many of the same themes as other DiCillo films, such as the illusion of fame, the fragility of ego, identity crises, the severed connection of family and the toll that takes on someone.  It’s amazing that all of these ideas remain present in a documentary ostensibly about one of the biggest rock bands of the last fifty years. Because of Tom’s ability to weave these deeply personal themes throughout, the film becomes less an objective biography of a band, but, for those familiar with DiCillo and his work, a very intimate portrait of two artists: Jim Morrison and Tom DiCillo.

You’re so right!  That’s something I’ve never been able to put into words, but you’ve nailed it. When You’re Strange is how I first connected with Tom so it will always have a special place in my heart as a result, but I also happen to be a big Doors fan.

I was very familiar with The Doors but never a “fan”.  But, testament to the power of Tom’s film, I am now a fan.  I now deeply admire their mysterious style of music and their prodigious musicianship.  I love the whole social and political historical context that was going on around them, which makes them a fascinating band to write about. The chapter on When You’re Strange is one of my favorite chapters in the book.  I interviewed drummer John Densmore and guitarist Robby Krieger for it, which is a pretty cool thing, to have those guys in there.

I love that you mention how wonderfully eclectic the soundtrack to Box of Moonlight (Wall of Voodoo, Peter Murphy, Nick Cave) is as it was a highlight for me.  One of the things that so attracted me to Tom’s personal music project, The Black and Blue Orkestre, was how his musical influences resonated throughout their first album. Tom’s taste in music really endeared me to him. Do you feel the same way?

Tom’s involvement in music is very important to me and to our friendship.  We have spent a lot of time working on music together.  I played guitar and piano on the Black and Blue Orkestre track In Your Dreams.  I’m very proud of it.  It was very exciting working with Tom on vocals and the actor Kevin Corrigan on bass – my job was made easier working with such skilled performers.  I love Tom’s voice and the sonic universe that he creates.  It just makes you want to grab the guitar and start recording, it’s so inspiring.

Tom’s use of music in his films is also wonderful, it is so crucial to the tone and atmosphere that he creates.  And the fact that he uses some of my favorite bands – such as those you just mentioned – just sweetens the deal.

I had no idea that you played guitar and piano on In Your Dreams!  That’s fantastic! I can’t wait for Tom to release the new songs that he’s recording with The Black and Blue Orkestre. Have you collaborated with him on any of them?

Thank you, I appreciate that. Yes, that song is pretty amazing.  I love how Tom mixed that song, it sounds terrific.  I have worked on a number of tunes, but I’m not sure what songs will end up on the next release, as this is Tom’s project and I just came in and did some guitar.  I like that session player aspect of working with the bones of a track, fleshing out the sound and my work is done.  Tom then does his production and engineering work on it and I just look forward to hearing the finished version just like any other fan.

Who are some of your favorite recording artists?

Music is a big part of me.  I love everything from 1930s dance bands, to 60s surf music, to 80s pop, to hardcore punk.  I’m inspired by every kind of music.  If you are over at my house for dinner or a beer, you could hear anything from The Circle Jerks to Slim Whitman to John Denver to Madonna.  I’ve started collecting vinyl, so I’m going back to albums I really love and relishing the great sound of records, so I’ve recently been listening to the first two albums from Bruce Hornsby and The Range (The Way It Is and Scenes from the Southside), Heartbeat City by The Cars, Lives in the Balance by Jackson Browne, Diesel and Dust by Midnight Oil, Court and Spark by Joni Mitchell.

I know I probably sound like some nostalgic dinosaur pining for my lost youth, when there is a whole world of new music out there, but I hear enough of the new stuff in my job writing for Hot Press (legendary Irish music magazine), so when I’m home and relaxing I tend to listen to the albums that continue to thrill and comfort.  I’m tragically unhip when it comes to music – I just like what I like.

My favorite albums would include:

Tango in the Night by Fleetwood Mac
Midnight to Midnight by The Psychedelic Furs
Déjà vu by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
Book of Love by Book of Love
Heaven on Earth by Belinda Carlisle
Candy Apple Grey by Husker Du
Heaven or Las Vegas by The Cocteau Twins
In My Tribe by 10,000 Maniacs
Famous Monsters by The Misfits
Straight to Goodbye by Pale Divine

Wow, that’s an eclectic collection of favorite albums, but I love it!  If it’s any consolation, I’m probably just as tragically unhip when it comes to music because I still love listening to 70s and 80s music the most but maybe that’s the same for everyone who came of age in a certain time period.  The music of our youth remains special to us forever.  Are you familiar with The Tragically Hip who are from my hometown of Kingston, Ontario? I couldn’t resist slipping that in here…

Yes absolutely, I am a great admirer of The Tragically Hip.  Road Apples is a great album, and I absolutely love Small Town Bringdown EP – which has, for me, some of their best songs – Small Town Bringdown, Last American Exit, I’m a Werewolf Baby…just sublime! The production is fantastic, very much of that late-80s era. Just sublime!  You must have been able to see them live during those times, which would have been great.

What has writing this book taught you about filmmaking and The Arts in general?

That I know almost nothing about filmmaking.  I am truly in awe of filmmakers. They’re part of my intense interest in the subject of cinema.  Yes, I detailed a lot of the production methods and behind the scenes activity of Tom’s films, but filmmaking is still a mystery to me, and I hope it always is a mystery.  I want whatever magic is conjured in creating the art to remain elusive.  I want to retain some of that awe that was instilled in me upon seeing Masters of the Universe in the movie theatre when I was four.

I do sometimes ask the question of myself, “Who am I to write about or teach film?”  I have never been on a film set.  I have never acted or directed.  All I can offer are my opinions and thoughts on the films, back it up with some words from those who were there and have actually made the films, and then try and edit it into some kind of legible or readable context.  That, really, is my job.  I’m just spreading the word about movies and artists I love.  I consider myself less a writer and more a proactive fan.

Of the Arts in general, writing this book has made me appreciate the dedication of every other writer who takes the time to write about a subject that fascinates them, no matter what discipline they work in, because their passion fuels the passion of others.  I hope my book fills the gap on the shelf that Tom DiCillo fans have been waiting to fill, and I hope it inspires others in the way that other film commentators have inspired me.

Who or what will your next book be about?

This has taken a lot of people by surprise, because it’s a completely different cinematic universe to that which I cover in The Cinema of Tom DiCillo, but my next book will be on Burt Reynolds.

Some people think that because you love art films and write about independent cinema that you wouldn’t have any time for the kind of stuff that Burt Reynolds is known for, but I always ask, “well, what do you know of Burt?” and the answer is inevitably Deliverance, Smokey and the Bandit, and The Cannonball Run.  They aren’t aware of or haven’t seen the eighty other films he has made, some of which are simply fantastic works of cinema. Reynolds has worked with some of the greatest directors, and to name just a few of the brilliant films he has starred in with these filmmakers: Hustle (by Robert Aldrich), Starting Over (by Alan J. Pakula), Breaking In (by Bill Forsyth), At Long Last Love (Peter Bogdanovich), Navajo Joe (by Sergio Corbucci), Semi-Tough (by Michael Ritchie), White Lightning (by Joseph Sargeant).

My writing process on this one is completely different to that of The Cinema of Tom DiCillo.  On that book I spent five years writing about eight films.  On the Burt Reynolds book, I have one year to write about eighty films and several entire TV shows, the major ones that Burt starred in, which means Riverboat, Gunsmoke, Hawk, Dan August, B.L. Stryker, and Evening Shade.  And I couldn’t be happier, but it means I am extremely busy. There’s a lot of people to interview, a lot of films to analyze and write about, and I still have my bill-paying day and night jobs (librarian and journalist) to keep me busy.  So when I’m not in work I’m still at work.

Will it be published by Columbia University Press?

No, this book isn’t the kind of thing that Columbia would go for.  Columbia is really focused on publishing works on contemporary, influential directors who are presently relevant throughout the entire spectrum of World Cinema, and whose work has immediate academic currency, all of which applies to Tom DiCillo.  Burt Reynolds, however, doesn’t necessarily fall into those categories because he hasn’t directed a film in nearly two decades, is mainly celebrated for his acting work rather than his directing, and some people might not see the “academic” value of my writing about Cop and a Half or Smokey and the Bandit II.

My Burt Reynolds book needed a publisher who understands and shares my perspective on Burt Reynolds; that he is one of the truly great American film stars and an enduring icon of US cinema. There is something absolutely compelling about him every moment he is on the screen, and he’s one of the few actors left who you can genuinely call a living legend.  As a book of film history and film criticism it will benefit from Reynolds’ prolific and expansive work which spans many important movements through American film history, going from the Golden Age studio system of the late 50s, through the New Hollywood of the 60s and 70s, to the blockbuster world of the 80s, and indie cinema of the 90s and up to today. For this book I’ve already been talking to some great directors, cinematographers, and actors – some truly fascinating people.

I signed with a distinguished publisher who have an amazing catalogue of film books to their name and who immediately understood what I wanted to do and shared my enthusiasm for the man.  They also saw the gap in the market for a book on Burt Reynolds’ actual films because while there have been books on him in the past, they were more concerned with his personal life.  I have no interest in his personal life, but I absolutely love his films.  He’s probably my favorite movie star, alongside John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Doris Day, Steve Buscemi, and Dennis Hopper.

I’ve definitely enjoyed some of Burt Reynolds’ work that I’ve seen but I’m sure that after I read your new book, I’ll want to revisit his work.  I’ll look forward to that!

Thanks Christine! Yeah, I hope it encourages people to check out his work which has gone under the radar or is simply forgotten.  It’s also a celebration of and tribute to this great figure of cinema and his vast body of work, as well as an opportunity to appreciate the art of the films.  Burt has recurrently worked with some of the finest cinematographers, such as William A. Fraker, Nick McLean Sr., Vilmos Zsigmond, to name just a few.  You don’t read much technical and aesthetic analysis of many of Burt’s films, and so that’s partly what I’m doing.

I think I could talk to you for days, Wayne, but I should probably end our conversation here. Thank you very much for taking the time to talk to me and for sharing your passions with my readers.

It was my pleasure, Christine.  I hope people enjoy the book and go out and watch Tom DiCillo films. That’s really what it’s all about.

The Cinema of Tom DiCillo: Include Me Out by Wayne Byrne

The Cinema of Tom DiCilloBook Review
Title: The Cinema of Tom DiCillo: Include Me Out
Author:  Wayne Byrne
Publisher: Wallflower Press
Released: September 2017
Pages: 208
ISBN-13: 978-0231185356
Book Reviewer: Christine Bode
Stars:  4.5

I admit that I can’t review The Cinema of Tom DiCillo: Include Me Out by Wayne Byrne without bias, but I can say that my bias is formed by a deep appreciation of Tom DiCillo’s films and Tom DiCillo, the man. I was fortunate to receive a review copy of the book from Columbia University Press’ Wallflower division and am pleased to give you my honest opinion about it.

I believe that the first of DiCillo’s films that I ever saw was Living in Oblivion, when I rented it on DVD soon after it was released – likely in 1996. As a life-long film fan, Living in Oblivion, a humourous, heartfelt film about the making of an independent film, was an absolute treasure to discover and has since become DiCillo’s seminal masterpiece. It wasn’t long after that when I also rented and enjoyed watching Johnny Suede, the now cult film with a cool surf music score that helped to launch Brad Pitt and Catherine Keener’s careers. Because I’ve always enjoyed Keener’s work and because she was in four of DiCillo’s films, I kept watching them and had seen at least four of them before I got to know a lot more about the filmmaker.

Then, in a strange, albeit serendipitous twist of fate, I became friends with Tom DiCillo when I discovered his blog as he was writing about the process of releasing and trying to find a distributor for When You’re Strange: A Film About The Doors (which won a Grammy in 2011), over seven years ago. The Doors are on my Top 5 Favourite Bands of All Time list and as such they formed the basis for our original conversation. However, we have continued to stay in touch ever since, because Tom is a very accessible, generous man with a kind heart and genuine appreciation for his fans. Not only am I a fan of his body of work, but I admire and respect him as an artist and a human being.  I’m equally enamored with Tom’s music project, The Black and Blue Orkestre, because I love his singing voice and the combination of Spaghetti Western, Surf and Cinematic Gothic Rockabilly grooves that form the music.

But back to the book. This volume by Irish author and Film Studies lecturer / education consultant Wayne Byrne is an extremely well-written, intelligent, enthralling addition to the Directors’ Cuts series published by Wallflower Press and a must-read for any cineaste or film student. It took Byrne five years to complete, but during that time he interviewed not only Tom DiCillo, at length, but also many of the actors in his films, including Steve Buscemi who wrote the foreword.

“In short, this wonderful book details the ultimate triumphant journey of one of independent cinema’s smartest, funniest, and fiercest warriors.” ~ Steve Buscemi

Byrne’s book is an interesting in-depth look at all of DiCillo’s eight independent films (seven of which premiered at Sundance) the agony and the ecstasy of birthing them, as well as an honest, insider’s view into the independent film industry and the machinations of the Hollywood system.

In his book, Byrne analyzes the themes of identity, family, and masculinity in DiCillo’s work and supports it with “in-depth coverage of the generic and aesthetic aspects of DiCillo’s distinctive and influential film style.” Through detailed chapters on each of his feature films, readers receive “…a candid look behind-the-scenes of both the American independent film industry – from the No Wave movement of the 1980s, through the Indie boom of the 1990s, to the contemporary milieu – and the Hollywood studio system.”

Byrne studied the writing, production, and release of each of DiCillo’s films and followed them with an extensive and intriguing Q&A with him, as well as exclusive interviews with many actors and collaborators including Steve Buscemi, Catherine Keener, Peter Dinklage, Sam Rockwell, John Turturro, Chris Noth, Maxwell Caulfield, Matthew Modine, Gina Gershon, Kevin Corrigan, Alison Lohman and John Densmore and Robby Krieger of The Doors.

Johnny Suede (1991)
Living in Oblivion (1995)
Box of Moonlight (1996)
The Real Blonde (1997)
Double Whammy (2001)
Delirious (2006)
When You’re Strange (2009)
Down in Shadowland (2014)

I own all DiCillo’s films and have watched them all again with new eyes after reading Byrne’s book, getting something new from each of them even though I’ve seen six of them previously, at least a couple of times. Perhaps that is what allows DiCillo’s work to endure throughout the years. It is clever, often subversive and upon first viewing you may think, “Well, what was that all about? That was a bit bizarre…”, but upon further viewing, you really get a feel for the director’s unique style and voice, use of colour, choice of music (often created by composer Jim Farmer) as well as the themes that inspire him. It is DiCillo’s way of viewing and expressing humanity in his work with his distinct sense of humour and pathos that makes these films stand out in the crowd of slick, violent, comic-book infested, often soulless, unoriginal movies from Hollywood that we’re seeing today. Give me the work of Jim Jarmusch, Richard Linklater, The Coen Brothers, Michael Winterbottom, Tim Burton and Tom DiCillo any day. If you agree, read this book.

The Long Hello: Memory, My Mother, and Me by Cathie Borrie

The Long Hello by Cathie BorrieBook Review
Title: The Long Hello: Memory, My Mother, and Me
Author:  Cathie Borrie
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada
Released: January 6, 2015
Pages: 225
ISBN: 978-1-4767-9251-4
Book Reviewer: Christine Bode
Stars:  2.5

 

My younger sister died five months ago today from ovarian cancer at the age of 48 so it’s quite possible that I’m just not in the right frame of mood to be reading and reviewing a memoir about a woman who spent seven years caring for her mother before she died from Alzheimer’s in her late 80’s. Nonetheless, the good people at Simon & Schuster enticed me into reading The Long Hello: Memory, My Mother, and Me by Cathie Borrie by using these paragraphs to describe it:

“It explores the emotional rewards and challenges that Cathie Borrie experienced in caring for her mother, who was living with Alzheimer’s disease, for seven years. Between the two, a wondrously poetic dialogue develops, which Ms. Borrie further illuminates with childhood memories of her family, and her struggle to maintain a life outside her caregiving responsibilities. The Long Hello demonstrates how caregiving creates an opportunity to experience the change in a relationship that illness necessitates, one in which joy, meaning, and profound intimacy can flourish. 

Written in spare, beautiful prose, largely in the form of a dialogue, The Long Hello exquisitely captures the intricacies and nuances of a daughter’s relationship with her mother.”

After reading the book, this is not my experience of it. My 62-year-old cousin, who cared for her own mother while she was dying from Alzheimer’s three years ago, read it before me and she found Borrie’s to be very unlike her own experience and not as moving or profound as she thought it might be based on what we were led to believe by the above description either.

Another thing that caught my attention and makes me wonder is why Simon & Schuster chose to use the quote “Joy!” from Maya Angelou on the cover of the book because it hasn’t been published yet and Angelou died on May 28, 2014. If she did indeed have a chance to read this book before she passed away, I would have thought she’d have more to say about it than one word, but this to me is suspicious and the word is in my humble opinion, inappropriate.

Born in Vancouver, Borrie started her career as a nurse before attaining a Masters of Public Health from Johns Hopkins University and later graduated from Law School at the University of Saskatchewan. In 2005, she earned a Certificate in Creative Writing from The Writer’s Studio at Simon Fraser University. She is also a ballroom dancer and has performed in the theatre and as a clown. She has some impressive credentials but I don’t feel that this book “is immensely lyrical and moving” nor a “powerful display of Cathie Borrie’s talent as a writer.”

On a positive note, it’s a very quick read. I read it in two sittings. It’s written somewhat like a journal, almost in point form with the Canadian author flipping back and forth between her past and the present as she’s caring for her mother who is slowly slipping further and further away into the tunnel of dementia. However, I find that there is very little joy in this book aside from the often amusing things that Cathie’s mother Jo says as she’s losing her mind. Borrie recorded conversations with her mother so that she could write this memoir but her own emotions come across as flat and depressed, which I can totally understand that she would be, while going through such a difficult experience. When she describes the facts of her life, they’re just that, facts. The way she’s written them down it appears that she’s had very little joy in her life and maybe that’s the truth of it, I don’t know. She was, at the time of writing The Long Hello a 51-year-old single woman who couldn’t get her own needs met, but was compelled to do everything she could to help her mother before she died and that I can definitely relate to. But it makes for a sad, downer of a read and I was somewhat offended when she wrote this passage:

“My surgeon’s in his forties, easy on the eyes.

“How are things?”

“I’ve been praying for ovarian cancer.”

“You what?”

“So I’d be dead before you have to replace my hip. I figured it was a fast cancer so I’d be dead before my name got to the top of your waiting list.”

The things people say and write when they’re depressed…I’m telling you. We shouldn’t be allowed near a writing implement. I know this from experience.

Cathie Borrie’s mother left her alcoholic father when she was a young girl and soon after her 13-year-old brother Hugh was killed in a random fight with a neighbourhood bully. His, like so many others, was an utterly tragic and meaningless death. Years later, her mother remarried an older man who was always away on business but when he was home he didn’t want his wife’s child to be there because he’d already raised one family and didn’t want to deal with Cathie so she was sent away to boarding school, a fact that upsets her for the rest of her life.

Three quarters of the way through The Long Hello, Cathie’s mother asks, “What happened to the joy of life, Cath?” She replies, “I don’t know, what do you think?” “I think you thought it was going to be better than it was.” That is certainly a statement I can relate to at this point in my life and I also identified to Cathie saying, “I wish I was dead too. And when I’m old there isn’t going to be anyone left to take care of me…No one left who knows my story.” “Goddamn it, Hughie – why did I have to be the one left behind?” I’m sure that’s how many people feel when they lose a beloved sibling because I have and that’s exactly how I feel. And I didn’t need to read this book to be reminded of it.

Father of 12 Inspires and Encourages Youth Through Epic Fantasy Now Shares Secrets Of His Success

Father of 12 Inspires and Encourages Youth Through Epic Fantasy Now Shares Secrets Of His Success

MADE FROM SCRATCH becomes a book with buzz.

 MADE FROM SCRATCH: The Ultimate Guide To Self-Publishing by Jaime D. Buckley

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 30, 2014 – Santaquin, UT — Jaime Buckley, Author of Chronicles of a Hero is known as a champion of the underdog. Believing each person has inherent value, he helps the world laugh at themselves, use each experience as an advantage, then encourages others to get up and try again. This same focus has turned him from youth and their parents towards bloggers and writers of all skill levels. Jaime’s alter ego Wendell P. Dipmier, the main character of his fantasy series, takes a back seat this time as the author expands his reach to the business minded.

MADE FROM SCRATCH: The Ultimate Guide To Self-Publishing became an obsession to help Indie Authors do the seemingly impossible—publish a professional product on a shoestring budget. No stranger to extreme hardships, Jaime shares his decade of experience and working against the odds, including homelessness, lack of funding and dealing with a cynical market to point out advantages many authors miss. His 21 books and prolific writing habits make him a unique role model for new authors seeking a non-traditional path. The book takes readers from idea to promotion and beyond.

“This idea started when I made some new friends at Be A Better Blogger,” remarked the author in a recent interview. “I met powerful, unique personalities—but few of them had ever published their work. With so much to offer others, I saw the opportunity to give that brilliant community a huge boost in the right direction. Sharing some personal experiences and pointing out a path most people could follow has become a specialty of mine. MADE FROM SCRATCH was written for bloggers, but it applies to writers in general.”

For digital review copies of MADE FROM SCRATCH or media interviews, contact the author through WantedHero.com or email him directly: jaimebuckley@wantedhero.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

JAIME BUCKLEY is a veteran Indie Author who started his career as a comicAuthor Jaime Buckley book creator. Husband, father of 12 and grandfather, he inspires youth and parents alike through his daily blog while designing games and reaching out to readers around the globe. Since 2005 he has donated both his comics and novels to underprivileged children and continues to engage in charitable events involving youth and youth-focused organizations. Photos of Jaime Buckley and the book’s cover available.

-30-

Jaime Buckley
jaimebuckley@wantedhero.com
(608) 620-4376
http://wantedhero.com

 

PERCOLATE: Let Your Best Self Filter Through by Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino

Percolate

PERCOLATE

Let Your Best Self Filter Through

By Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino

CEO – The Best Ever You Network, Hay House author

Is there a voice inside of you that’s urging you to make changes and seek a richer, more fulfilling life? Do you feel like you’ve been searching for something more meaningful, even if you don’t know exactly what it is?

Have no fear—Percolate will show you how to let your best self filter through and thrive! In this empowering, heartwarming—and often humorous—book, Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino will help you wake up to what’s possible, allow your heart and mind to simmer with fresh ideas to achieve your goals and enhance your well-being, and enable your spirit and passion to rise to the top like the foam on your latte.

Elizabeth will guide you through the Percolate Process, a nine-point plan she developed with Dr. Katie Eastman that teaches you how to implement positive changes to excel in every aspect of your life. It’s simple, practical, and fun! Go ahead . . . grab a cup of your favorite joe, put your feet up, and start percolating. Ah, can’t you just taste the inspiring brew as your most powerful thoughts blend together to bring the authentic, best you to the world?

The PERCOLATE Process, a nine-point plan that teaches you how to implement powerful, positive change to thrive in every aspect of your life. It’s simple, practical, and fun!

The PERCOLATE ProcessTM is a 9 point plan she developed with Dr. Katie Eastman that teaches you how to implement positive changes to excel in every aspect of your life. It’s simple, practical, and fun! Co-developed by Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino and Dr. Katie Eastman, this valuable tool combines inspiring, practical exercises and Elizabeth’s heart-warming story and ideas with empowering psychological principles. The PERCOLATE Process is based on Elizabeth’s own method of change and discovery. In 1998, after nearly losing her life to an allergic reaction, she chose an “I will survive and thrive” attitude. Elizabeth was motivated as a mother and wife to move forward, which required a first step of accepting this new “Elizabeth”, being bold enough to allow her confidence to surface and constantly reminding herself, “I am enough.” 

Elizabeth Hamilton-GuarinoABOUT THE AUTHOR

Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino, Hay House author and Best Ever You Network CEO, lives her daily life with allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish. In 1998, Elizabeth nearly lost her life due to an allergic reaction to almonds. In 1999, she had a second near-fatal allergic reaction while pregnant and was hospitalized for more than a week.

Elizabeth understands firsthand the challenges life can bring and has worked with thousands across the globe to illuminate their light within and help them live their best life. In 2008, Elizabeth left a 17 year career in the financial services industry to start The Best Ever You Network, which is now a leading multimedia provider of lifestyle and self-help content. Elizabeth hosts “The Best Ever You Show” on Blogtalkradio, which has over one million global listeners.

With Brian Hom, she co-founded the Food Allergy Zone to find a cure and the cause of food allergies and she is a spokesperson for FAACT – Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Connection Team.

Now she adds “author” to her resume. In PERCOLATE: Let Your Best Self Filter Through (April 2014), Elizabeth empowers readers to implement powerful, positive change to thrive in every aspect of your life. Elizabeth has a degree in communications and broadcasting and also works as a business and life coach. Elizabeth is a social media expert with an emphasis on business consulting, transitional growth and change, and platform development. She lives with her husband and four boys in Maine. Visit BestEverYou.com for more information about Elizabeth’s work and passions.

PERCOLATE – Let Your Best Self Filter Through

 By Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Hay House, Inc. (April 14, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401942989
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401942984

For interviews, artwork, excerpts or more information, contact:

Erin Dupree| Publicist | Hay House, Inc.
646.484.4957 
EDupree@HayHouse.com

PRAISE FOR PERCOLATE

“How can an aardvark and a platypus help you change your life? How can #WWBWD help you make better decisions? And what does brewing coffee have to do with being healthier and happier? For the answers to these and other life-altering questions, look no further than Percolate, Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino’s masterwork. I highly recommend this book if you want to live more fully, laugh more heartily, and leave a lasting legacy for your loved ones!”

— Noah St. John, best-selling author of The Book of AFFORMATIONS®, http://www.NoahStJohn.com

“For years I have enjoyed bringing clarity and joy into my life by taking time each morning to reflect on my blessings over a hot cup of coffee. Now I have a new favorite way to ‘percolate,’ thanks to this wonderful book! After following Elizabeth on The Best Ever Your Network, I am so happy that she has found a new way to share her inspirational message with us all!”

Michelle Phillips, best-selling author of The Beauty Blueprint, http://www.MichellePhillips.com

“Elizabeth shows us how to follow our hearts and have the courage to really be ourselves—that we’ve been percolating all along.”

— Gary Kobat, international authority on integrative well-being

“I love the Java Jive, and it loves me . . . and I really love Percolate, a bold and flavorful blend of higher wisdom, experience, and common sense. Drink deep of this rich brew, and you’ll enjoy life to the fullest.”

— Stephen Powers, Grammy Award–winning producer and co-founder of Agape Media International

“Percolate is a gift—a marvelous one—filled with intelligence and beauty.”

Michael McGlone, actor

“If you can’t wait to get your hands on another self-help book filled with dogma and strict directions, then Percolate isn’t for you. However, if you’ve been searching for a book that can brilliantly guide you to guide yourself, search no more.”

— Gabe Berman, author of Live Like a Fruit Fly

“Put down this book if you don’t want to do the work.”

— Fred Cuellar, Diamond Cutters International

“It takes only moments to learn that Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino has a gift for connecting with people. She shares her own personal experiences, and those of others, in a way that challenges each of us to become our best. The stories in Percolate continue to express her inspirational spirit and will simply make you feel good.”

Sarah C. Bazey, Mrs. International 2012 and president and CEO of Simplex

Construction Supplies, Inc.

“Percolate is the perfect title for Elizabeth’s book because anyone who knows her personality will agree that she is like a constant, contagious, and inspirational jolt of caffeine. This is a woman who lives every minute of every day to the fullest. Elizabeth’s cup runneth over, and if we can sip in just a little bit of her wisdom and experience, we should consider ourselves lucky!”

Anthony Turk, Hollywood publicist

“Percolate is compelling from the very first words. I couldn’t put it down, and I was moved to tears within the first few pages. Give yourself the delicious joy of journeying through this inspiring book with Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino.”

— Margaret Paul, Ph.D., author of Inner Bonding, http://www.innerbonding.com

 

Visit www.PercolateBook.com for more information.

Website Links for Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino:

www.PercolateBook.com, www.BestEverYou.com, www.FoodAllergyZone.com, www.EGuarino.com

Radio show: www.blogtalkradio.com/BestEverYou

Be That Girl: Ignite Your Passion, Organize Your Life & Embrace Freedom by Tina O’Connor

Be That Girl by Tina O'ConnorBook Review
Title: Be That Girl: Ignite Your Passion, Organize Your Life & Embrace Freedom
Author:  Tina O’Connor
Publisher: Be That Books
Released: October 28, 2012
Pages: 208
ISBN-10: 0987915460
ISBN-13: 978-0987915467
Stars:  4.0

Be That Girl: Ignite Your Passion, Organize Your Life & Embrace Freedom is described by its author, Tina O’Connor, as “a go-to guide filled with tools to help women create more joyous, free and happy lifestyles.” If you’ve always wanted to be ‘That Girl’, the one who appears to have everything going for her, the one who’s super organized, successful, looks great, eats healthy, feels fantastic and is basically all-around happy with her life and you want to know how to be her, Tina believes that by reading her book and doing the exercises she suggests that you’ll be empowered enough to become ‘That Girl’. While I think that may be a little over optimistic, her proposals are chock full of good ideas and a lot of common sense.

I’m a fairly organized woman who is very happy with her career but I figure I can always use a few more tips on how to be successful, amazing and unforgettable. I like the glossy cover of Tina’s hardcover second edition that bears an image of a woman’s feet, adorned in pink flip flops hanging over Pink sling back Christian Louboutin shoesthe edge of a pink convertible. While it says, “I’m carefree and comfortable”, if she was wearing pink Christian Louboutins it would definitely translate to I’m successful, amazing and unforgettable…don’t you wish you were me!

Some women are going to read the 19 chapters in Be That Girl and think the author has a serious case of OCD, but her enthusiasm and practicality is infectious and by the time I’d finished Chapter 2: Planet Do It!, I was taking notes and planning how I’m going to manifest what I want in my life in terms of relationships, travel, career, money, self, and things and actually started thinking about a Five Year Plan which is something I’ve never done before because I strive to be a live-in-the-moment girl.

Illustrated with some black and white photos and highlighted by no-nonsense title names, Be That Girl, has four lined, blank pages in the back of the book on which you can take notes, but if you do all of the suggested exercises, you’re going to need more space to write so keep a notebook and pen with you.

We all know that a positive attitude is the key to unlocking a joyful life. In this book you’ll start by acknowledging that you have the power to become the person you want to be and by making a plan and sticking to it, you’ll be well on your way. Tina also teaches us about the principles of Feng Shui and “how this Chinese method of organizing your home is the key to finding success and fulfillment in the rest of your life.” She is so convincing that as soon as I finished Chapter 3: The Home of Your Dreams and Chapter 4: Clearing the Clutter, I rearranged my guest room which is the wealth corner of my home and placed red objects (including a Chinese dragon) in the left corner of the room. I had every intention of de-cluttering and Feng Shui-ing the rest of my apartment but to be perfectly honest, it still hasn’t happened so I might just have to re-read that chapter again to motivate myself further.

The kitchen is one of the most important rooms in the house and making it hygienic and clutter-free is a must as is going green and doing our part to shrink our carbon footprint on the earth.

O’Connor fluctuates between offering sensible ideas for ways in which to clean up our act physically as well as mentally. I enjoyed how she welcomes readers into her life through her own personal examples and felt as if I knew her quite well when I was finished reading the book.  You get the sense that she’d be a great cheerleader coach from chapters like Do It, Do It, Do It! – as in don’t procrastinate Time Is On Your Side (Yes It Is!) – which offers time management solutions to reduce stress and increase productivity Accentuate The Positive, and Fake It ‘Til You Make It. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used that last phrase since I finished reading the book!

This is surely an ambitious book project as she also talks about dressing for success, walking the walk – literally, by doing yoga and practicing the art of strutting the power of touch (as in sex, ladies, so don’t ever forget that human contact is essential as is being comfortable with yourself as a sexual being), and taking on the world by being confident in the art of conversation, communication and negotiation. She reminds us that we don’t need to do it all alone and that asking for help sometimes is essential. And of course, we are what we eat, so we’d better start making healthier dietary choices, take Resveratrol, exercise regularly, get enough sleep and consider homeopathic alternatives to traditional medicine.

Tina, who has a great sense of humour, calls herself “an expert on everyday changes that bring life-altering happiness and contentment to women around the world.”  She and her husband own a chain of wine & spirits stores, have three young daughters, and Tina is planning a series of “Be That” titles for the future.

If you read this book quickly, and you certainly can, you’ll be a bit overwhelmed by the end of it from thinking about all the ways in which you still have to change your life for the better, but if you break down one chapter at a time and just take baby steps towards achieving those goals, you will feel better about yourself, there’s no doubt about it.

I’ve read a LOT of self-help books so this book didn’t tell me anything that I didn’t already know, but it was a wonderful reminder, and it certainly compartmentalized all the areas of our lives as women into neat and tidy chapters that are easily accessible and could undoubtedly aid us in becoming ‘That Girl’.

www.bethatgirlnow.com

Book Signing Event for Healing Circle Puzzles by Cindy O’Neil at The Purple Door in Kingston, Sat. Dec. 15th

PDoor_HCPsigning_WEB (2)

Holiday gift buying can be an emotionally and financially gruelling experience, so Canadian author Cindy O’Neil is aiding philanthropy with her newly released Healing Circle Puzzles book, and helping shoppers give three times at once.

Healing Circle Puzzles – Word Searches beyond words is a unique book that Cindy began creating in the winter of 2001 after having just been released from a month long stay in hospital and diagnosed with severe, systemic Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA).

From December 1st to 31st O’Neil is donating $4 from each Healing Circle Puzzles book sold.  The donations will be divided evenly, with $2 each going to the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) and the Canadian Red Cross (CRC) respectively.

“The people who buy my book are showing their trust in me, and supporting Cindy Head Shotme as an independent writer. Every purchase is a big deal to me because of the sense of connection it builds.” says the author. “I want to extend that connection and say thank you by giving to society at large.”

Online purchasing is available from the book’s website https://www.passionatepuzzler.com

The public is invited to join Cindy for this upcoming book signing of Healing Circle Puzzles in Kingston, Ontario:

Saturday, December 15th
11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
The Purple Door Books & Gifts
376 Barrie St., Kingston ON 7K7 3T4

I haven’t been able to donate blood for years due to my health. Before the RA struck I donated regularly.” states Cindy. “That’s one of the reasons I chose the CRC. Both organizations do incredibly important work while maintaining higher than 87% efficiency in spending. The donation helps the organizations and people who buy the book because they get to give three times at once.

About the book:
Healing Circle Puzzles combines original paintings and photos with unusually crafted word searches.  Full colour images by very talented, undiscovered artists are featured throughout. Puzzle themes encompass things that helped Cindy’s healing: positive thoughts, music, books, therapies, foods and more.

SistersOnTheBeach _facebk_HCP_art copyDancingWater _facebk_HCP_artMusicalDream_facebk_HCP_art

Cindy, Susan Brecht (owner of The Purple Door) and I hope that you’ll join us for this special book signing event.  Healing Circle Puzzles truly makes for the perfect gift for that hard to buy for person on your list!

For more information, email http://www.cindyoneil.com/contact
705-207-4123.  Learn more about Cindy at https://www.facebook.com/AuthorandSongwriterCindyONeil

Puzzle Project Has Healing Touch: Canadian Author Word Searched Her Way through Rheumatoid Arthritis

PRESS RELEASE

CONTACT: Cindy O’Neil
Phone: 705-207-4123
mail@cindyoneil.com
www.cindyoneil.com
www.passionatepuzzler.com


Puzzle Project Has Healing Touch: Canadian Author Word Searched Her Way through Rheumatoid Arthritis

Art, colour and puzzles increasingly used as forms of or part of healing & therapy

Kingston, Ontario — September 5, 2012 — People who are interested in alternative forms of healing and therapy can discover how Canadian author Cindy O’Neil used art, colour and word search puzzles to buoy her health and spirit during a long-term and life altering change in her health, and at the same time, potentially help themselves.

Healing Circle Puzzles is a unique book that Cindy began creating in the winter of 2001 after having just been released from a month long stay in hospital and diagnosed with severe, systemic Rheumatoid Arthritis. Confined to her home by disability, healing became Cindy’s full time job.

“Art is a powerful healing tool,” says Dr. Sean Ceaser, ND out of Victoria.  He “knows that colour, form and line create a powerful impression on the senses that can have a lasting effect on how we feel far beyond the time we are involved with the art.  It transcends our understanding and takes us into the world of magic and larger-than-life experiences that stimulate the senses, heal the body and releases a cascade of neurotransmitters and endorphins that can calm any uneasy mind if the images are just right.”

O’Neil didn’t want to create just any puzzles, and decided to integrate the concept of healing, circles, the world, art and connection into her word searches, as well as the fact that they would only be in circles.  In the process her pain and fear evaporated and she began to heal.

Numerous scientific studies have documented the fact that brain exercises that include the solving of puzzles have been known to slow down the effects of Alzheimer’s and aid in recovery after surgery.  Much has also been written about the healing powers of art therapy and colour therapy or Chromotherapy.  It is a fact that art, like laughter, promotes well being.

Healing Circle Puzzles combines original work of Canadian artists and photographers with unusually crafted word search puzzles.  Throughout the book, full colour images by very talented, undiscovered artists accompany each word search.  Word search themes encompass those things that helped Cindy in her healing: positive thoughts, actions, music, books, therapies, healthy foods and more.  The contents of the book focus on connectedness, harmony, healing and unity.

From now until September 20, 2012, Cindy O’Neil is offering a 20% discount with pre-release purchase of Healing Circle Puzzles athttps://www.passionatepuzzler.com.  For more information, contact Cindy at705-207-4123 or mail@cindyoneil.com. Learn more about Cindy O’Neil athttp://www.cindyoneil.com and at https://www.facebook.com/AuthorandSongwriterCindyONeil.

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In The Mood For Peace: The Story Of The Izzy Doll

Book Review
Title: In The Mood For Peace: The Story of the Izzy Doll
Author: Phyllis Wheaton
Publisher: Phyllis Wheaton
Released: 2011
Pages: 186
ISBN-13: 978-0-9681294-1-8
Stars: 4.5

 
Beautifully written with an insider’s knowledge, compassion and understanding, In The Mood For Peace: The Story of the Izzy Doll by Phyllis Wheaton is an important true story about one Canadian military family’s ultimate sacrifice and determination to leave this world a better place in the face of war, death and destruction.  It’s also about all of the good work being done by various humanitarian organizations in Canada to help ease the suffering of survivors of war and poverty around the world.

The Story of the Izzy Doll is not only about how the famous Izzy Doll was created, it’s about a very special family – The Isfelds of Courtenay, British Columbia – and how Carol and Brian Isfeld honoured the memory of their fallen son, Mark, who was killed when the APC (armoured Personnel Carrier) hit a trip wire which set off a series of explosions in Croatia in June of 1994.  It is filled with photographs, letters, poems, quotes, and the thoughts and memories of the Isfelds, their family, friends and colleagues.  It tells the story of how Carol Isfeld first started crafting the Izzy dolls to give to her son Mark to distribute to children of war and how Mark encouraged her to continue to make them to take her mind off her worry for him.

We get an in-depth, personal view of the compassionate, loving and playful personality of Master Corporal Mark Robert Isfeld, a Field Engineer and member of 1 Combat Engineers Regiment (1CER), whom we care about profoundly, and learn about what drove him to become a peacekeeper in the Canadian Armed Forces.  We are led through Mark’s childhood, basic training and his three tours of duty in Kuwait (1991) and Croatia (1992 & 1994).  We also get to meet his proud and dedicated parents and experience what they went through in losing their beloved son, through the eyes of a writer, singer and songwriter from Calgary, Alberta who was compelled to tell their story, with the utmost integrity and respect.

We are also introduced to several other significant figures in Canadian Peacekeeping, including Corporal Andrew “Boomer” Eykelenboom who lost his life in Afghanistan in 2006 and how his mother Maureen created the Boomer Cap Project for children of war as well as the Boomer Legacy Fund (“to promote Canadian goodwill in foreign climates of indifference”) with her friend Jim Davis.  We learn about the work of the International Community for the Relief of Starvation and Suffering (ICROSS), Lynne & Billy Willbond, the Canadian Army Veteran Motorcycle Unit (CAV), Major General Lewis MacKenzie and the new Izzy Doll Mama, Shirley O’Connell, among other angels of mercy.

I had not heard of an Izzy doll before I made the acquaintance of Phyllis Wheaton.  Now that I know about them and the price of duty, they – the soldiers and peacekeepers – and their significance, will never be forgotten.  I found myself moved to tears frequently while reading In The Mood For Peace: The Story of the Izzy Doll and feel somewhat changed after reading it.

Phyllis Wheaton dedicates the book to “the hands behind the knitting needles and crochet hooks, mothers and grandmothers, great-grandmothers, knitters groups and students and others who have as of July 2011, created over one million Izzy Dolls for the children of war and the poorest of the poor.”  The book contains knitting instructions on how to create and assemble an Izzy doll (also found at www.icross.ca), provides an Anti-Personnel Landmines Fact Sheet, Anti-Landmine websites, other websites of interest and a list of various acronyms and terms referred to in the book.

Phyllis has forever opened the closed eyes of this reader who has never given soldiers and peacekeepers the respect and credit they are due because of my pacifist stance against war.  I didn’t want to look at or truly understand why they do what they do because I don’t like to look at or have anything to do with war, which I truly believe doesn’t really solve any issue in a manner that is worth the price of so many human lives.  However, after reading Phyllis’ book, I have a new outlook on just how important our soldiers, military personnel and peacekeepers really are and for that, I will always be grateful.  And if you are a knitter who wants to create something that’s really valuable to millions of children around the world, this is the project for you!

You know, soldiers are very unusual people.  On the outside they are the hardest, most demanding people, but underneath that, they are the most human, the most feeling, the most emotionally attached people who exist. ~ A quote from Romeo Dallaire’s father, which appeared in Shake Hands With The Devil by Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire

If you only read one book about peacekeepers, let it be this one.  If you only watch one film about the ravages of war and the significance of peacekeepers, let it be Shake Hands With The Devil, the 2007 film directed by Roger Spottiswoode, starring Roy Dupuis, based on Lieutenant-General Romeo Dallaire’s book of the same name, about his “frustrated efforts to stop the madness of the Rwandan Genocide, despite the complete indifference of his superiors.”  If you do, you will truly understand why a peacekeeper’s ultimate sacrifice should be honoured and never forgotten.

Anything You Want by Derek Sivers is Inspiration for the Entrepreneur!

Book Review
Title: Anything You Want
Publisher: The Domino Project
Release: June 29, 2011
Pages: 88 pages
ISBN-10: 1936719118
ISBN-13: 978-1936719112
Stars: 4.0

Entrepreneur Derek Sivers is the founder of CD Baby, the most popular music site through which independent artists can sell their music online.  In the small but powerful Anything You Want, Derek reveals how he accidentally started CD Baby and the lessons he learned along the way while building a multi-million dollar business.  He later sold it and donated the profit to the Independent Musicians Charitable Remainder Unitrust because he’s not motivated by money, he’s motivated by helping people.

I loved his book, not only because it only takes an hour to read, but because his style is engaging and I admire his personal philosophy when it comes to business.  “It’s about being, not having.”  Derek is very forthright and approachable and if you’ve heard of him, you’ll never forget that he was a musician first and that CD Baby was born of his desire to help his musician friends.

Derek doesn’t tell you how to become a millionaire, but anyone who is an entrepreneur or who simply wants to be will benefit from reading Anything You Want and will likely refer to it repeatedly.  Its main points encourage the reader to:

  • Find your life’s compass
  • Change your business if it’s not a hit
  • Be sure to say either “HELL YEAH!” or “no”
  • Start now as there’s no funding needed
  • Proudly exclude people
  • Care about your customers more than about yourself
  • Set up your business like you don’t need the money
  • Don’t punish everyone for one’s person mistake; and remember that
  • You make your perfect world

Among other valid and thought-provoking points the bottom line is that business is about what you want to be and not about what you want to have.

Derek didn’t do everything right.  In fact, Steve Jobs dissed him in a keynote speech and he talks about that in the book, as well as the fact that he made a mistake that cost him $3.3 million.  He reminds us to “trust but verify; delegate but don’t abdicate.”  He tells us what works for him and I like his style.  However, I did notice that he contradicted himself by claiming that one doesn’t need funding to start a business and that he didn’t have any investors (pg. 13), when in fact his father was an investor.

One of the best things about buying Derek’s book was that he offers buyers a music bonus of over 200 MP3s by some of his favourite musicians.  You’ll find the code word to unlock the MP3 download from his website in the book and those tracks are worth more than the book.  I even know a few of the artists he has chosen which is pretty cool.

Ultimately you can think of Anything You Want as a chance to sit down with Derek Sivers for an hour and listen to his experiences in business.  I walked away from this refreshing read feeling inspired and I bet that you will too.