Tag Archives: Spotlight and Interview by Diamante Lavendar

Meet John Kaniecki, author of More Than The Madness

more-than-the-madness-john-kaniecki

This book gives readers a glimpse into the life of someone living with bipolar disorder. It’s not a clinical book filled with facts and figures, but a book of humanity.
Spanning childhood to early adult, through stories of abuse, being bullied, experimentation with drugs and alcohol, inpatient stays on psych wards, a night in jail, his college days in the fraternity, hitchhiking across America, and his time in a third world country, John gives the reader a personal and up-close look into his life as a manic depressive. The stories are sad, shocking, and at times funny as he shares his antics while at his most manic and delusional.
Throughout his journey, John also struggles with his faith in God. More than the Madness is a testament of one man’s journey to grow closer to God while gaining a better understanding of himself.
John wrote his story to help educate others on mental illness and remove some of the stigma associated with it. It is his hope that readers will get to know the person behind the diagnosis; take away the labels and meet someone’s son, friend, and husband. See that there is More Than the Madness.

Where you can find More Than The Madness:

https://www.amazon.com/More-than-Madness-John-Kaniecki/dp/1539430138/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1478478919&sr=8-1&keywords=more+than+the+madness+john+kaniecki

Interview with John:

1.  What made you decide to write your story?
This book was started about ten years ago. Every since I was a teenager I wanted to write but never aggressively pursued it. One day I felt inclined to write so I attempted to write a couple of science fiction stories. I got frustrated. Then I decided, why not write stories from my life?  I had a very interesting life. Besides it would be easier to write when you had the entire story already in your head instead of making things up. So I began to write what became “More Than The Madness”. At that time the manuscript consisted of short stories. Each chapter stood as individual works.  I shared these with my friends. When I started accumulating a lot of material I realized that one day it could be made into a book.
2.  What is the most important point you’d like readers to take away from your story?
This book is my memoirs. It deals with my successful struggle with bipolar disorder. The most important point I’d like to make is that I am, despite my mental illness, a human being just like everybody else. That there is “More Than The Madness”. My ailment is just one aspect of a complex creature. As such I would like to dispel the stigmata that are associated with mental illness.
3.  Have you written anything before?  If so, please tell me about it.
 
I have written a host of poetry. I have had my poems published on over seventy outlets. I have four books of poetry. “Murmurings Of A Mad Man” was my first book. This is a book of poetry dealing with a very low time of my life. I was committed to a state psychiatric hospital called Greystone. The book is written with strict meter and rhyme. My second book of poetry is called “Poet To The Poor, Poems Of Hope For The Bottom One Percent”. This book has some of my best writings in it including my award winning “Tea With Joe Hill”. As the title suggests this book is written for the oppressed peoples. Some of the subjects are historical figures and people from my life. “Sunset Sonnets” is a book of sonnets dealing with the subject of death and dying in a very positive and spiritual way. My last poetry book, which I self published, is entitled “A Day’s Weather”. I wrote this book at age twenty two and it serves as a marker to my thoughts at the time. The manuscript deals with a day’s weather, with a poem corresponding to a weather condition.
As far as prose I have a book of science fiction stories called “Words Of The Future”. These are unique quirky stories of which I take pride in their originality. Also I have two horror books out published by Jaded Books Publishing. The first is called “Scarecrow, Scarecrow” and the second is called “Satan’s Siren”. These follow the adventures of an Anne McFry. There are more books planned for the series. Also under contract is a book called “In The Mind Of Maggoo.” This book deals with a man in a nursing home who can only move the pupils of his mind. His mind is inflicted with marvelous dreams and thoughts of his past.
4.  What do you hope to accomplish as a writer?
I enjoy writing tremendously so that is a primary motivation. I hope to make a living from it as my wife is ill and I cannot work a traditional job as I need to take care of her. In my poetry I often try to contribute to some greater, nobler cause. To change the world for the better if you will. In my fiction writing I hope to entertain people. In both cases I hope to make people think.
5.  If you could give your readers one piece of advice, what would it be?
I would advise writers to never give up. When I started out I got rejected an enormous amount of times both in poetry and prose. A good part of successful writing is finding a friendly market for your work. That is if you write political poems don’t bother to send them to a romance magazine. Also I tried to get my science fiction stories published by the big names in the industry. While this was certainly worth the try I discovered there are a host of other, lesser prominent markets. I believe exposure is key to success. Remember that many famous writers got severe rejections before they had any form of success.
6.  What was your greatest challenge to overcome as a writer?
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~Spotlight: Lost and Falling by Marlina Williams~

cover_fall

Thirteen year old Bailey is on a collision course to meet lost boxer puppy Goldie.
Bailey lives an overindulged supervision free life in Colorado. She used to be a sweet girl, but recent events inspired her to become an online bully. Once she starts bullying she enjoys the thrill and is egged on by “friends”. After she posts a shockingly cruel message to a girl who used to be her friend, Bailey’s life begins a downward spiral. When her parents discover the bullying they decide to take away all electronic devices and send her to her grandparents’ secluded farm in West Virginia.

Goldie is on track to becoming a superstar show-dog for Starbright Kennel. When a major storm causes a tree to crush part of the kennel, he tastes freedom for a short time before being captured by a caretaker. After his capture he escapes into an unfamiliar wilderness where he must survive a harrowing journey to find Bailey.

Where you can find Lost and Falling:

http://www.amazon.com/Lost-Falling-Marlina-Williams-ebook/dp/B014V1AKY4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1443796043&sr=8-1&keywords=lost+and+falling

Where you can find Marlina:

http://www.familywriters.com/

Interview with Marlina:

1. Tell me about your books.

So far I have written and published two books, and I’m currently working on edits for a third, to be released in the near future.

My debut novel THE RAD MISFITS is a Young Adult novel with light dystopian elements set on a post- apocalyptic stage, really more human interest/animal hijinks than sci-fi. The story is about a group of mutant teenagers trying to save their colony from early death. Residual radiation from world ending events causes people to die by the age of thirty-four. The Rad Misfits, as they call their quirky group, go on an adventure in search of a cure for their colony’s sickness.

My recently released novel LOST AND FALLING is Middle Grade fiction about thirteen year old bully, Bailey, and lost boxer puppy, Goldie. When Bailey’s online bullying goes too far, her parents take away all electronics and send her to her grandparents’ secluded farm. Meanwhile, Goldie is lost somewhere in the wilderness of West Virginia after escaping his captor. Bailey and Goldie are on a collision course to meet. If Bailey can overcome her selfishness, she may be able to save Goldie and right the wrongs of her earlier bullying.

My third novel TRAGIC RENEWAL is Women’s fiction with suspense/thriller elements. The story is about Harper and her struggles to overcome a recent divorce and the death of her best friend, Cara. Harper’s journey carries her cross-country to try to live Cara’s dream of running a u-pick fruit farm. When Harper arrives she is confronted with a depressed Akita that misses his mistress, two horses, and a farm to run. When her old life intrudes upon the new she must overcome her inner abuse and protect the new life she has built.

2. What prompted you to write your books?

Each book has its own unique reasons for being written.

The Rad Misfits – I’ve allows enjoyed cheesy Sci-Fi and some dystopian themes. The one thing I never cared for was the darkness that almost always surrounds world ending scenarios. I wanted to tell a lighter version, where women ruled and accomplished rebuilding a thriving society without violence. Including horses and a nutty dog made writing this story exciting. I truly enjoyed bringing the animals to life based on my crazy dogs and a horse that thinks he’s a dog. I left the ending open enough to become a series if the mood strikes me someday. I already have a name lined out – The Radder Misfits.

Lost and Falling – I was inspired to write because too often the story focuses on the bullied rather than the bully. I wanted to tell a story about the bully and, while not justifying, at least explaining her reasoning. Her excuse for becoming a bully is two-fold, and the egging-on from friends ultimately overrode the original justification. Many times outside influences or hoping for other’s approval pushes a person to become something he or she isn’t. In this book, Bailey, gets the chance to reveal her story and attempt to save a puppy from certain death.

Tragic Renewal – The idea for this book came about due to the prevalence of dash-cams and the devastating effects of drinking and driving. This story is about a woman overcoming numerous obstacles while learning to become a new person. Many women put up with horrible abuse, but it’s not always physical. Sometimes the scars that we can’t see are the most devastating. Harper’s years of emotional abuse from her military officer husband shadows every thought and action. When she breaks free she learns to love herself and find truths where only lies existed. I also included an Akita in this story for their fiercely loyal nature and their staunch refusal to be anything less than the household guardian.

3. What is one of your main objectives as an author?

First and foremost, I’m simply telling a story I would find interesting. So far each story I’ve written has an underlying moral to teach. The basic theme of each story is similar – don’t judge based on appearances alone. Mutant teens, teen bully, or overweight divorcee aren’t typical heroes, but each gets a starring role and a chance to prove their self-worth. Each story also has animals because animals deserve a starring role from the comfort and companionship they give those they love.

4. What would you like your readers to know about you?

At heart I’m shy and socially awkward. My stories give me a chance to express myself in ways that I would not normally do in day to day life. If you ask me in real life what my stories are about, I might just clam up and not know what to say. Selling myself has never been my strong suit, I’m more comfortable sitting in the background and listening.

5. If you could meet one celebrity, who would it be and why would you like to meet him/her?

I don’t have a specific celebrity I’d like to meet. I admire many celebrities, but I’d be afraid meeting them would tarnish their projected persona. I think cloaks are worn by many in the spotlight and when we put too much hero-worship on their shoulders, they are bound to fall. I remember growing up watching the Cosby show… enough said on that subject.

6. If you could give me one piece of advice about life, what would it be?

When you ride a high-horse remember that life is full of potholes.

~Spotlight: Levels by Jim Vuksic~

Levels by Jim Vuksic

Imagine a world in which there is no war, crime, poverty, hunger, inequality, prejudice, bigotry, greed or envy. Everyone, without exception, has access to the exact same quantity and quality of food, clothing, housing, medical care, formal education and social advancement opportunities.
Now imagine that, in this world, the words father, mother, daughter, son, brother, sister, marriage, family and religion do not exist because the concepts themselves do not exist. The inhabitants are occasionally transported to a place they never knew existed or are required to do something without having the slightest idea of what they are doing or why it must be done.
Can you imagine such a world? Well I did. If you should choose to visit it sometime, I hope that you enjoy reading about the world of Levels as much as I enjoyed creating it.

Format: Perfect Paperback

Disclosure: I purchased the book “Levels” by Jim Vuksic. I do not know the author personally and have had only encounters with him as a friend on the Goodreads site. I had no communication with him at any time about this book. The comments that follow are my own personal opinion. I received NO compensation of any kind, or from any one, to provide this review.

I wanted to read this book and hoped I would truly enjoy the read. I did. I rarely give 5 stars but this book deserves every one of them. It is an amazing read. I read it twice and I’m quite sure I will read it again from time to time. It had a remarkable impact on me and provided a very clear and concise explanation of the philosophy that could make our society a very peaceful and intelligent one.

From the first chapter I found this book unique. The pace was smooth and continued that way throughout the book. It was never boring or exciting, but held my interest completely and I often had trouble putting it down. Unlike many futuristic stories, this book goes to the next step. It tells the story of an advanced society successful in its goals; one that has no need to engage in major battles. That success makes this book unique, fascinating, and disturbing all at the same time. There are no wars, battles, blood, suspense, or tension only experience and enlightenment. The conclusion is unexpected.

As I followed Jonathan and his various friends through their education and experiences, you get the feeling you are there with them. This book creates unusual emotional and personal connections laced with a truly deep sense of logic. It is an excellent read, and I highly recommend this book. I wish everyone would read it at least once.

Format: Kindle Edition

Levels had so many elements of a well-written novel. The main character, Jonathan, was structured as a likeable person whose struggles made me more than sympathetic to. The complex plot paints a picture of a subterranean culture surviving in a dystopian setting. It is well orchestrated and full of twists and turns. It would make for a great series or perhaps a series of films. Vuksic’s writing is clean and disciplined.
That being said, I would have liked to see the author step outside the safe zone and not be so “clean” when it came to the dialogue or the situations. A lot is left to the imagination when it came to the sub-plots. Sometimes too much to keep the flow constant.
Overall this book is highly imaginative and well worth the read.
Where you can find Levels:
Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Levels-Jim-Vuksic/dp/1617777994/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1448492624&sr=8-1&keywords=levels+jim+vuksic
Barnes and Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/levels-jim-vuksic/1103816206?ean=9781617777998
Where you can find Jim:
http://jimvuksic.tateauthor.com/
Interview with Jim:

What prompted you to write your book?

Writing a novel was just one of several items included in a “bucket list” that my late wife insisted I create upon retiring in 2001. It took me fourteen months to produce a completed, polished manuscript and an additional two months working with and learning from the copy editor, conceptual editor and layout design artist, assigned by the publisher to help convert the manuscript into a commercially viable book. Levels was released August 9, 2011. It is distributed internationally by Ingram/Spring Arbor and is available through fourteen commercial vendors in four formats – paperback (376 pages), e-Book (Kindle/Nook/Tablet), audio book on CD (9 compact discs) and audio download – 8 hours listening time, narrated by Stephen Rozzell.

What concepts are you hoping your readers will learn from reading your book?

Levels is a tale of a society constantly striving for perfection. To do so, sometimes even cherished institutions, philosophies, and traditions, that were originally intended to bring out the best in people, must be abandoned. Wanting something to be reality does not make it real and believing something to be the truth does not make it true.

What inspires you to write?

Writing a novel was an interesting and worthwhile experience. However, there are so many other interesting and worthwhile things I wish to experience, I seriously doubt that I will ever find time to write another book. When I get too old to do those other things, I may be inspired to write again.

What are your hobbies/interests in addition to writing?

I play both the acoustic guitar and electric bass. Addicted to spontaneous road trips, I love to hop in the car and travel, sometimes for days or even weeks at a time. I am also an avid reader of both fiction and non-fiction books. Spending time with my four adult children and four grandchildren is what I enjoy the most.

What do you want your readers to remember about you?

The story revealed in Levels is a reflection of the beliefs, philosophies and goals that I have strived throughout my life to uphold and accomplish. If everyone would do the same, the world might be a much better place.

If you could leave me with one piece of advice about life, what would it be?

Strive always to be the best person possible. Most importantly, be yourself, not what others want you to be.