Chicago designer, leading conference speaker’s latest book addresses design’s relationship to healthy company culture

CHICAGO – Design is in Justin Dauer’s DNA. Calling on his more than 25 years in the industry, Dauer – who started designing in and is now a go-to speaker for national AIGA and UXPA conferences – highlights how design impacts company culture in his upcoming book, “In Fulfillment: The Designer’s Journey.”

“In Fulfillment: The Designer’s Journey”

Justin Dauer | June 27, 2023 | Leadhand Books | Design 

Justin Dauer is an internationally renowned design leader, author, and speaker from Chicago. You’ll find him often engaging with the AIGA’s speaking events, interviewed in Forbes magazine and Medium’s “Forge” publication, and penning articles for Aquent, CEO World Magazine, and A List Apart. He speaks internationally on culture and design, including keynotes at the UXPA International conference, Midwest UX, and St. Louis Design Week. Justin is also the writer of the celebrated book “Creative Culture,” founder of design leadership consultancy Anomali, and a former VP of Design at CVS Health. Find out more about him at

Follow Justin Dauer on social media:

Twitter: @pseudoroom | Instagram: @pseudoroom 

In an interview, Justin Dauer can discuss:

  • Design’s impact on company culture
  • How to leverage a platform called Make Meaningful Work to identify the practices where we thrive in our day-to-day environments, ensuring we’re always most connected to what we’re creating, and those we’re creating with
  • How to identify and follow your “North Star” and use it to guide the way to your best work
  • The importance of evolution in design and career paths and why “thought leader” branding can be problematic in the design industry
  • Leveraging humility as a core value to ensure we’re always students of our craft, making ourselves available to grow and evolve
  • How the concepts in his books informed the development of his new company, Anomali
  • His 25+ years of experience in the industry – from era designer to now – and how those experience influenced his perspectives shared in this book 

An Interview with

Justin Dauer

How do you define fulfillment when it comes to your own professional experience and career, and why is this important?

When we’re distinctly aware of where our fulfillment is derived from, we’ve taken a grand leap toward making meaningful work — work that connects to us as designers (nay, human beings), and to those who will ultimately engage with it. In a field of work largely comprised of impermanence (digital), the contrast is that our decisions can have lasting impact.

Fulfillment means connection: connection with ourselves, connection with our environment, our work, and one another. Our personal fulfillment is essential for us, but also far bigger than us.

What questions can designers ask themselves to discover what gives them fulfillment at work?

When our sense of connection is at its strongest, our personal values are also at their most fulfilled. That bond is no coincidence: recognizing how powerfully that value system drives our fulfillment throughout our career.

An introspective look at the scenarios in your life that have yielded the most fulfillment will provide a direct window into your most cherished values.

When looking for a best-fit role for us and our work, it’s essential to be crystal clear on our most important values. As such, being able to prioritize them is vital. This allows us to have a clear sense of the “must-haves” for the respective design work itself and the given role, the given organization, and the process by which they create. Sometimes, the work will satisfy some values more than others, making it even more imperative that you weigh what you need against what you could potentially function without (or with a diminished capacity). 

How have your own experiences in the design industry influenced your new book? 

100%. This book is largely personal narrative driven, leveraging 25 years worth of a career — and a fascination with design from high school through leading a design organization within a Fortune 5 business — to connect with readers humbly and candidly.

What are some red flags that indicate you aren’t being fulfilled at work?

Recognizing when we’re feeling disconnected from our work — e.g., going through the motions, sleepwalking — can be the first sign the bond between our personal and professional spheres of existence is waning. That imperative connection with our work and those who engage with it: potentially severed.

What role does humility play in the design field?

Agnostic of accolades, the tools we’re using, or devoid of rushed procedure, the humble connection with those on the receiving end of what we’re producing, and with those doing the producing, is imperative toward quality and evolution.

Humility drives our evolution, as we’re making ourselves available to evolve. It contextualizes how we deliver objective feedback as well as how we receive it.

What are the signs of an effective leader?

There can be a difference between a manager and a leader; they’re not always synonyms. “Manager” is a job title, a parking spot or a business card payoff. Show me an unsupported team, and I’ll show you a manager who defines themself by their LinkedIn heading over their service.

Anyone can be a leader, regardless of position on an org chart, experience, title, or tenure. Demonstrative respect, initiative, care, compassion, and support are some of the hallmarks of someone who excels in that capacity. When an organization is headed by business card titles — or a team managed by a LinkedIn heading — there are foundational cracks in the culture from the top down created by that leadership void.

An effective leader has a “from me to we” mindset, and recognizes the support and evolution of their team — in concert with the quality of their work — is their paramount responsibility.

What does people-first workplace culture look like, and why does this matter?

The same values in the DNA of a healthy culture — compassion, humility, inclusion, and respect among them — must also be intrinsic in the organization’s design process. For us to be most fulfilled in what we create, the culture around us must drive the same connection in how we create. Else, the disconnection between incongruous values in action makes for disconnection in totality: us to ourselves, us to our work, our teams, and on and on.

A culture of fulfillment is a planned, living, and nourished ecosystem of support and engagement that facilitates success. It doesn’t exist by chance and isn’t simply sustained by the light of its own virtue. A healthy culture is designed to be that way. It strives to connect us to one another — and to our collaborative work — agnostic of a remote or in-person seat. And its values are harmonious with our own, fueling an ethical symbiosis devoid of internal conflict.

The concept of care and feeding given to a piece of work we produce, from sketch to release to iteration and beyond, is imperative for sustaining a healthy culture. To find a culture of fulfillment is to find a healthy environment that’s championed and supported from the top down — either in an executive-level role specifically dedicated to this purpose or through empowered managers who embody and champion the business’ values.

In your book, you discuss identifying your North Star – what is this? How did you find your North Star? What would you recommend to others looking for their guiding light?

In this case, it all comes down to our values. Values are anything you deem important to you, as they apply to the way you live and your design. They’re your North Star in determining your sense of fulfillment, informing your life’s priorities, and ultimately driving your contentment.

The beautiful thing is that your prioritized values can then be leveraged in so many ways: 

  • Informing which questions you ask during your next job interview
  • Serving as an objective gut check when you feel the connection to your work waning.
  • Determining if the business you’re employed by is operating in unison with what’s most important to you. 

What sparked your interest in design?

My interest in design began as a sophomore in high school, when I saw something that changed my life: the album cover designs the “Graphic Design 1” class had made, now on display in the back of my study hall. My mom was a trained fine artist whose paintings and illustrations had marveled me since childhood, but these album covers had something else going on that drew me in.

I approached the study hall faculty member and asked about the pieces; she said it was her class’ work. I had only taken fine art classes to that point, but those covers resonated with me: it was art but visually communicating.

Inspired by what I had seen and now heard, I asked if I could take her class. She made the point that this wasn’t fine art, but set my expectations on what they did do in design:

“We’re visually problem-solving.”

Rather than dissuade me, that response made me hungrier to learn. 

What do you hope readers take away from this book?

The designer’s legacy isn’t built upon their choice of tools. The designer’s legacy is built upon the choices they make—as macro and micro as that implies. Legacy transcends “us.” This is a mindset that takes us from “me” to “we” as we consider the bigger picture. There is a privilege and responsibility that are inherent in the craft. In communicating. In connecting with people through design.

Privilege and responsibility. Those notions are so vital (and evergreen) to our craft, and how we connect with other human beings. Formative, yet intrinsic to what we do. Every decision carries weight, and is bigger than us. We simply cannot foresee under what conditions people will be engaging with what we create. They need to be equitably understood, advocated for, and included along the way. 

How do you best indulge in and develop your own creativity?

I’m a huge advocate of “pausing with intent” — slowing down for purpose and meaning — in both cultural interactions at work as well as for myself personally. There’s a difference between a distraction and an outlet—the latter being something you’re engaging with purpose.

Making a cup of coffee slows me down — enjoying it slows me down even more. A good cup coupled with a personal design project, or writing, or working with my hands…that’s my sweet spot.

You’ve been in the industry for more than 25 years beginning in the dot-com era. How has the design industry and its impact on company culture evolved? 

I believe designers are settling for far less, now — we know our worth, we know the environments where we can do our best work, and we’re settling less and less for cultures that treat us as names in a spreadsheet-exclusively.  

Explain the importance of evolution in design and career paths — and why you resist the “thought leader” brand.

We’re in a field where we simply cannot stagnate — in mindset, in practice, in process. I believe that, even if we’re only considering our own personal craft, we have to continually challenge our approach — for quality and for connection.

As soon as we close our minds via an inner monologue of “knowing it all”, or branding ourselves a “#thoughtleader” on social media, the designer we are is our final form. The designer we can be, will never exist.

Experience does not equal “expert.” If we’re always students of our craft, we are also always making ourselves available to evolve.

What missteps did you make in your own career, and how did they impact your path? What would you recommend to others navigating their own missteps?

I’ve lingered far too long in environments that were entirely unhealthy — psychologically abusive, devoid of work / life-balance, and “leadership” in business card title-only. It came at the expense of my quality of work and life because I felt I “owed” them. In part, I wrote my first book, “Creative Culture,” around lessons learned from such environments — sometimes it takes seeing how it’s not done to begin to discover environments where you know you’ll thrive. 

I also let my ego take over early on in my career via some quick notoriety and large exposure from my design work. My evolution, work, and quality all suffered and stagnated. Realigning myself to my values and sense of ever being a student of my craft allowed me to grow, and course correct, for the rest of my career.

How did the material in the book inform how you built your own company, Anomali?

Recently, while working as a Principal Consultant within a consulting firm, I received a call from a former boss, a person I massively respect, trust, and consider a friend. He made me a tantalizing offer: to become the VP of Design within the company he was now a part of, building the design practice and team from the ground up. The associated offer package was impressive, to boot.

Upon reflection and looking at the bigger picture of where I’m at in my career — and in what felt like an affront to the design gods — I turned the offer down. I wasn’t fully connected to the prospect of “doing it all over again,” so to speak, within a large tech organization and potentially navigating similar political hurdles. I left that world the last time due to my disconnection from the environment—and tech in general.

In fact, the last time I felt fully connected to a company’s values and culture was when I was the Design Director at a Swedish design agency. They employed rituals and practices unlike I’d ever seen in the U.S. market. This was my chance to feel that connection once again, and design the environment in which I’d thrive best. To that end — with a mix of fear, exhilaration, and determination — I started my own design consultancy and advisory practice. Across design leadership, healthy culture advocacy, and working with internal design teams on craft, I’d infuse the Swedish cultural sensibilities of egalitarianism, slowing down + pausing with intent, and human connection into the consultancy’s DNA. 

Anomali as a business was designed adopting my values, offering services to clients where I know I do my best work, existing in an environment I’ve cultivated to allow me to thrive and evolve. For the first time in my career, I’d hit that sweet spot trifecta:

  • Values-alignment
  • Work / work process-alignment
  • Environment-alignment

These three pillars equate to what informs my personal fulfillment. Leveraging implicit practices where I know I prosper — ”proactivity,” “big picture thinking,” and “a need to build connection,” among them — I’m operating in harmony with my personal, authentic narrative.

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Caregiver’s intimate memoir empowers readers to meet unexpected challenges with determination and hope

The transformative power of caregiving is rooted in spiritual growth

Sacramento, CA –In Suzanne Marriott’s deeply honest and inspiring memoir, “Watching for Dragonflies: A Caregiver’s Transformative Journey” (She Writes Press, June 6, 2023), she explores how caregiving for her husband throughout his journey with chronic illness allowed her to gain a spiritual awareness that would ultimately help her through her own medical crisis and into a place of healing and contentment.

Amid the many obstacles she and her husband, Michael, face after his diagnosis with multiple sclerosis, Suzanne learns to be a compassionate caregiver both for him and, ultimately, for herself. Through love, psychological insights, and spiritual inquiry, she cultivates her abilities–and gains the courage to confront a medical system that saves her husband multiple times–but at other times threatens his life. Despite Michael’s many hospitalizations, he makes miraculous recoveries that bring fun and adventure back into their lives, including his numinous experience with dragonflies. When Suzanne faces her own medical crisis with cancer, their world is once again shaken–yet throughout it all, love is their bond, one even death cannot sever. Candid and illuminating, Suzanne’s story of growth through caregiving will appeal to anyone facing a life-changing crisis and seeking hard-won wisdom, comfort, and hope.

 “Watching for Dragonflies”

Suzanne Marriott | June 6, 2023 | She Writes Press | Nonfiction, Memoir

Paperback | ISBN: 978-1647424367 | $17.95

Ebook | ASIN: B0B8H59GJX | $8.99

SUZANNE MARRIOTT is a memoirist and deep-travel writer who shares her transformative experiences with her readers. She was her husband’s caregiver for the ten years he suffered from multiple sclerosis, and her writings on compassionate caregiving have been published in The Union newspaper’s Healthy You magazine. Writer Advice awarded her the “Scintillating Start Prize” for the first chapter of her memoir, Watching for Dragonflies: A Caregiver’s Transformative Journey. Her personal essay, Indian Summer, won the Fall 2012 Memoir Writing Contest from Women’s and was included in the eBook anthology Seasons of Our Lives: Autumn. Suzanne’s stories of deep travel have appeared in the award-winning online magazine Your Life is a Trip and in Soul of Travel Magazine

A native Californian, Suzanne has traveled up and down the coast of her state, exploring as far north as British Columbia and south into Mexico, where she fell in love with the colonial town of San Miguel de Allende and the Maya culture of the lower Yucatan Peninsula. She has been to Europe three times and hopes to continue exploring Europe’s many cultures and natural wonders. Her interests include transcendent experiences, afterlife communication, Jungian psychology, and Tibetan Buddhism.

Suzanne holds a BA in English from UC Berkeley, an MS in education from Cal State University, Hayward (now Cal State University, East Bay), and an MA in transpersonal psychology from The Institute of Transpersonal Psychology (now Sophia University). She is a member of The Institute of Noetic Sciences, Sierra Writers, and the National Association of Memoir Writers. She lives in an ecologically conscious cohousing community in the Sierra Nevada foothills. For more information on compassionate caregiving, visit Suzanne at

In an interview, Suzanne Marriott can discuss:

  • How her relationship with her husband changed after his MS diagnosis
  • The benefits and drawbacks of traveling with a disability, and what changes need to be made in order for travel to be truly accessible
  • Her advice for caregivers who often take little to no time for themselves
  • What she learned from her cancer diagnosis
  • Her spiritual journey, and how spiritual inquiry helped her heal
  • How she grew from her experiences as a caregiver 


Praise for Suzanne Marriott and “Watching for Dragonflies”

“Suzanne Marriott’s touching memoir stays with the reader long after its final present-tense paragraph. This is a book that needs to be read by anyone who wishes to know what it’s like to go through the stages of a chronic illness. Along with Michael, who has MS, and Suzanne, his wife and caretaker, we experience joy in their successful activities and disappointment in the frequent ineptness of their health care providers. We follow the couple through years of health challenges and learn of the events that bond them together and the mishaps that appear to tear them apart. A very moving, true story.”

—Evelyn Kohl LaTorre, author of “Love in Any Language” and “Between Inca Walls”

“In her memoir, Suzanne draws on her background in transpersonal psychology to access the spiritual and psychological resources that guide her growth as a caregiver. Empowered by inner wisdom figures, dream revelations, and shamanic and Tibetan Buddhist practices, she develops the inner resources she needs to support her husband.”

—Marilyn Schlitz, Ph.D., Professor of transpersonal psychology and President of the Academic Faculty at Sofia University and CEO/President Emeritus at the Institute of Noetic Sciences

“Suzanne’s Marriott’s caring memoir of her love, marriage, joy, grief, and spiritual seeking, and of the distresses and challenges of her long caregiving, is stunningly honest and inspiring.

                 —Judith Van Herik, Professor Emerita of religious studies at Penn State University

“‘Watching for Dragonflies’ is an inspirational story of personal growth through adversity that will bring comfort and companionship to other caregivers. An intimate and empowering memoir.”

      —Rachel Howard, author of “The Lost Night” and “The Risk of Us”

“Suzanne Marriott takes you into a world that is breathtaking in its intimacy, love, and lucidity. She is a deep traveler, a spiritual adventurer, and not only a survivor but a thriver. This is a no-holds-barred memoir by a woman who can lift you out of life’s tight places and help you to breathe, to flow with love, to believe.” 

   —Judith Fein, award-winning travel journalist, author of “Life is a Trip”

“Services for—and recognition of—family caregivers simply must improve. Honest storytelling like that in ‘Watching for Dragonflies’ will start a revolution.” 

—Gretchen Staebler, author of “Mother Lode: Confessions of a Reluctant Caregiver”


An Interview with

Suzanne Marriott

1. What was your inspiration for writing “Watching for Dragonflies” and what does the title mean to you?

As I worked on my memoir, I gained a sense of purpose. I was inspired to make my story meaningful to other caregivers, encouraging them to believe in themselves, knowing that if I could do it, so could they. 

My husband had a numinous experience with dragonflies when he was able to  walk almost normally in the cool waters of the Eel River, his legs kept cold and his body temperature down. On the far bank, he stood watching dragonflies flit through the reeds, transfixed as their transparent wings reflected the sunlight, transforming them into prisms of iridescent color. These dragonflies became a powerful symbol of strength and renewal for him–a symbol of being whole. 

2. What was your relationship with your husband like, and how did his MS diagnosis change your relationship?

Though we were very much in love, there were times when our relationship was plagued by power struggles and reactive patterns. As we learned to work together to face the many challenges of multiple sclerosis, our love and trust in each other grew and our intimacy increased. We both grew psychologically and spiritually during those ten years when I was my husband’s caregiver.

3. What experiences helped you succeed in caregiving? Do you have any advice for caregivers?

I learned as I went along, doing what needed to be done and stretching my capabilities until I was doing things I never dreamed I could do, even things that an RN usually does. I found wonderful support through my MS Society Caregivers Group where we helped each other by sharing  information and experiences. Most of all, I loved my husband and I was open to learning, doing whatever needed to be done as each new challenge arose. Also, I learned from my mistakes and didn’t let them defeat me. I encourage other caregivers to find a support group, do online research, and believe in themselves and their ability to meet whatever challenges they may face. It is of utmost importance for caregivers to take care of themselves, find some free time, do restorative things like yoga or meditation, and spend some time with supportive family and friends. When things become too much, reach out to family and friends for help or, if you can, hire a part-time caregiver to help out.

4. What advice do you have for writers over 50?

Believe in yourself and your ability to write a compelling book and believe in the power of story. Do research to identify your audience, know what benefit your book will bring to others, and make bringing forth that benefit your primary goal. Above all, print out your drafts and read them in hard copy to catch errors, get feedback from trusted beta readers, and revise, revise, revise.

5. What did you learn from your experience with cancer? 

I learned the importance and value of taking care of myself and my right to live out my life for myself as well as for my husband. I sought guidance through dreams, spiritual healers, guided meditations, hypnosis, and inspirational writings. Above all else, I maintained a positive attitude, never doubting my ability to heal and to thrive. Through my experience with cancer, I grew in self-confidence and a sense of self-worth as intrinsic, not dependent on what I do for others. Through both my cancer and caregiving, I grew in assertiveness, acceptance of what I could and could not change, compassion, perseverance, and the knowledge that I could survive grief and loss.

6. Can you tell us a bit more about your spiritual journey? 

I gained knowledge and guidance through Jungian practices such as dream work, Shamanic drumming and Native American wisdom cards, inner dialogues with my wisdom figure, Tibetan Buddhism, and after-death communication through both dreams and synchronicities. My work with a Jungian-oriented therapist supported me throughout my journey in my spiritual and psychological growth. 

7. What’s next for you, writing-wise?

I hope to open a dialogue with other caregivers through my website and Facebook blog. I also look forward to writing personal essays on caregiving for print and online publications, and I will continue to look for new ways to tell my story and connect with other caregivers.

8. What do you hope readers will take away from your book?

If I can do it, so can you. Believe in yourself and your ability to learn from your mistakes.  Let love and compassion be your guides, both for your loved-one and for yourself.

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Author, activist and former attorney’s new memoir bends genre with spiritual and optimistic take on love and loss

On a blustery Maine day, 39-year-old Roberta S. Kuriloff found herself standing on a plot of land purchased with her former partner, holding a couple of wood stakes to mark off exactly where her new house would sit. No longer their land. No longer their dream. Now, just hers.

Immersed in a world of blueprints, materials, contractors, and critters, Roberta confronted the major losses she’d suffered in her life — in particular the deaths of her mother and aunt from cancer and her separation from her father and brother during her placement in an orphanage — and to try to understand how those losses had shaped the woman, lawyer, and activist she’d become. As she cleared land, hammered nails, lifted beams, and shivered in her rented mobile home, the answers began to come to her.

Roberta soon found love again, with a woman named Nancy…only to lose her abruptly just one year later in a car accident. Her grief over Nancy’s death, and the psychic and out-of-body events she experienced following that loss, led to an eight-year spiritual quest where she explored her Jewish roots, the Kabbalah, Buddhism, and reincarnation. As she healed, new love beckoned with Bernice — and at long last Roberta found that intrinsic sense of self, that unshakable foundation of heart and soul, that home, that she’d been searching for all along.

The building of the house became a metaphor for Roberta’s journey and search for wholeness. It was the physical manifestation of finding soul, her essence, and being able to share it with others. Roberta discovered how her four major relationships, four special smiles, intersected with each other without knowing, a connection uncovered when she became more aware, and life became more precious. Home was not just a physical place, but an intrinsic sense of self, an unshakable foundation of the heart and soul.

She Writes Press will publish Roberta S. Kuriloff’s memoir, “Framing a Life: Building the Space to be Me” on July 18, 2023.

“Framing a Life: Building the Space to be Me”

Roberta S. Kuriloff | July 18, 2023 | She Writes Press | Memoir 

Paperback | ISBN: 978-1647424954 | $17.95

Ebook | $9.95

About the Author

Roberta S. Kuriloff is a speaker, community activist, former attorney and the author of “Framing a Life: Building the Space to be Me” (She Writes Press, July 18, 2023). With humor and poignancy, her memoir takes readers along an inspiring journey of self-discovery as Roberta finds that home is less a physical place than an intrinsic sense of self, an unshakable foundation of the heart and soul. She also published “Everything Special, Living Joy, Prose and Poems to Inspire,” and a short story she wrote, “Unearthing Home,” was published in Yellow Arrow Publishing Journal. An essay called ‘Musings on the Word Atonement’ was published in “Art In The Time of Unbearable Crisis; Women Writers Respond to the Call” published by She Writes Press June 2022.

As a child living in an orphanage, Roberta dreamed of being Superman’s daughter flying above Earth to save the world’s disenfranchised children, or being the Pied Piper leading the other kids back to their family homes. In later life, her legal work centered on families in emotional and financial crisis. She is a founding member of two domestic violence projects as well as an elderly services organization, and was a hospice patient-volunteer and bereavement workshop facilitator. In between her community work, she makes time to enjoy her passions for writing and dance.

She and her spouse, Bernice, have been together for 27 years and happily married since 2013. They live in the home she built in the woods of Maine.

Find out more about her at

Follow Roberta S. Kuriloff on social media:

Twitter: @RKuriloffAuthor


In an interview, Roberta S. Kuriloff can discuss:

  • The concept of “home” and how that idea has evolved for her over time – from spending part of her childhood in an orphanage to learning the true meaning of togetherness, family, caring and security
  • Pursuing an uncharted spiritual journey, and how she found solace after losing loved ones
  • How writing letters to her departed mother in her journal brought her clarity and comfort during times of intense grief
  • How we fit into our cultural and religious ancestry
  • Understanding how we look at life – half empty or half full


An Interview with

Roberta S. Kuriloff

“Framing a Life: Building the Space to be Me” addresses the concept of home in a very thoughtful way. What imagery and emotions does the word “home” conjure up for you today, and how has that evolved over time?

Home ideally represents togetherness, family, caring and security. It is what I have experienced over the past 27 years with my spouse. As a child, “home” was an orphanage, separated from family, although my father visited us on the weekends, and now and then we visited our extended family. My family, while in the orphanage, were the kids with whom I lived. We established our own little families to feel like we belonged.  

Your memoir also explores loss in many forms. Can you tell us about a few of the ways you found solace during these times of intense grief?

Somehow as a child I came to believe that everything in life had a purpose. It helped me survive my pain and sadness. My imagination carried me to being Superman’s daughter, flying above my life, or Roy Rogers’ daughter, riding into the sunset, or sunrise. Best was when my father took us out for the day, and later weekends, where we spent time with relatives. 

Your mother died when you were very young, yet you continued to write letters to her throughout your life. Can you tell us about that? Do you still write letters to her?

I communicated with my mother through my diary letters to her, addressed to “Dear Eva,” a few of which are in my book. Doing so made me feel connected to her. I stopped writing the words “Dear Eva” when I became an adult. I still write in a journal, pretty regularly, which helps me process my life. I have about 35 diaries/journals.  

Tell us about navigating your spiritual journey and reconnecting with your identity as a Jewish woman. What advice would you give other spiritual seekers?

I have always been a spiritual seeker, believing there was more to life than the one we presently live. I’ve explored various religious ideas and beliefs, as well as books about people who experienced past lives. I don’t relate well to traditional religion, but am still drawn to Judaism and Jewish history, as it defined my family, especially my father’s life growing up in Ukraine, and his experiences as a Jewish survivor, as well as my personal experiences with others who questioned my religion. Yet, I’m also drawn to understanding religions and how humans use it to justify their actions. Being a “spiritual seeker” for me is really looking at life from a higher, challenging perspective, not from the perspective of organized religion telling me what I can and cannot do.

Similarly, can you describe your journey to understand how you fit into your cultural and religious ancestry? Was it challenging? In what ways?

While living in Maine, I went on vacation with Mary Ann to Germany and Russia. My first trip out of the U.S. was eye opening. I discovered German friends who questioned their parents regarding how Jews were “handled” in Germany. They were very progressive. In Russia, I visited a synagogue, as well as had dinner in a Jewish restaurant with a bunch of young Russian men, the latter being a fun evening, especially exchanging little gifts. I discovered my openness to new experiences, as well as to my relationship with food. I’m not afraid to challenge myself, not afraid to challenge my beliefs. 

How does your memoir explore relationships of all types (familial, romantic, friendships and with yourself)?

I believe I am very honest and open in my book. I explore and share my experiences of romantic relationships with men and women, my mixed sexual feelings, and the difficulties that arise in friendships when one grows and changes and some friends don’t. When my romantic relationships ended, I still stayed friends, like with Mary Ann and Ernie. I meditate and examine my mind and dreams to better understand my feelings; therapy helped with the latter. 

Can you discuss your experiences as a “home kid?” What does that mean to you, and how do you think it continues to inform your identity as an adult?

I still consider myself a “home kid.” It is in my DNA. I see life through that “role,” but at the same time see myself separately from my life’s definitions. I’m a cautious person, but also enjoy living life fully, even when it hurts. I face my fears and pain. I believe the “home kid” experiences made me a more sympathetic attorney with clients. I’m not afraid to share my life with clients and friends; it’s a good learning lesson about survival. But then, most lives are, of course, a learning lesson.

How did your experiences as a lawyer, feminist, lesbian, activist and hospice volunteer inform your approach to this memoir?

I believe my experiences allowed me to be very open and honest in writing my memoir. Working as a lawyer taught me that everyone has challenges, stories to share, pain, love, fear and hidden questions. People are open to sharing when they feel listened to. In all my roles, I am open to learning from, and sharing with, others because we all experience similar fears, hopes and dreams. The best part of being a lawyer was sharing with clients, almost like therapy, for the client and for me.

What do you hope people take away from this book? 

Life is difficult, tough, but fun and challenging as we make it. Most of us have choices, and we can choose to be positive or negative, happy or sad. Even those people who suffer from pain and loss, have choices, albeit very difficult. It is how we look at life: half-empty or half-full, as I shared in my first book, “Everything Special, Living Joy.”

Advance Praise for Roberta S. Kuriloff

“Framing a Life: Building The Space to Be Me is the story of one woman’s quest for self-understanding, love, and the meaning of home. On days when I despair that nothing much is going right, I look to Roberta and her courage, perseverance, and optimism. Her story could have been the story of a bitter woman, beaten down by life and loss. It is anything but. It is a shining light held aloft for any woman struggling to find that place within that is whole, complete and at peace.”  

— Cathleen O’Connor, PhD, author of High Heels on the Hamster Wheel (Balboa Press, 2014), The Everything Law of Attraction Dream Dictionary (Adams Media, 2010), and The Collection: Flash Fiction for Flash Memory (Anchala Press, 2018)

“Framing A Life by Roberta S. Kuriloff is about the search for home, family, and love—yet is so much more. This story examines the grief of losing all we human beings long for in this world, but still moving forward with faith, love, and tenacity. You will smile. You will cry. Best of all, you will cheer on Roberta as she learns home is not necessarily a place. It is embedded in your core, your heart, and your soul.”  

— Laura L. Engel, author of You’ll Forget This Ever Happened: Secrets, Shame, and Adoption in the 1960s 

“Kuriloff tells her amazing story of resilience. This is the journey of her survival, her intense drive to succeed, and the later death of her partner—a woman she loved. Finding the surprising depths of her spiritual side, she not only relearns how to love, but she also relearns how to live. It is an intensely personal yet very relatable work.”

  — Linda Bergman, screenwriter, producer, and author of So You Think Your Life’s A Movie: The Sequel 

“Roberta’s memoir is honest and poignant and shares with grace how she overcame her life’s tragedies. Her courage and optimism and the ways she found and built her true home— in the deepest sense of the word—will uplift and inspire many readers.”

— Rivvy Neshama, author of Recipes for a Sacred Life: True Stories and a Few Miracles

“Rarely have I read a memoir that was so captivating. Roberta Kuriloff’s resilience and tenacity in the face of adversity is inspiring. Through her work as a lawyer and her interactions with family and friends, she demonstrates what it means to be a compassionate feminist and a joyful, spiritual person.”  

— Patricia Ould, PhD, co-author of Same-Sex Marriage, Context, and Lesbian Identity: Wedded but Not Always a Wife   

“In Framing a Life, Roberta constructs—from fragments of past scenes, journal entries, night dreams, changing states of being, and reflections—a textual home for herself and the reader to reside in, inside the territory of a culturally evolving America. This narrative—of a return to a whole and expanded self, one evoking Walt Whitman’s iconic line (“I am large, I contain multitudes’)—is a timely permission to illuminate the manifold pieces of one’s own life and reassemble them into a compassionate definition of oneself, alive at a certain moment, in a certain place, in human history.”  

— Marj Hahne, poet, writer, editor, teacher and member of 
“This remarkable memoir—one of the deepest I’ve ever read— is my kind of revelation. The book made me cry out, cover my eyes, mourn, and beam with pride and appreciate the trials that led to my own emotional and spiritual growth. Roberta Kuriloff’s story will find a place alongside Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” and Amy Chua’s, “Tiger Mother.” Permeated with humility, bravery, and a bold feminist intersection, “Framing a Life,” is a triumph for many of us with both hurting and joyful heart. It will last in our times and long, long into the future. I stand in solidarity with Ms. Kuriloff, her family and for everyone she touches with her wise and magnificent soul.” 

— June S. Gould, Ph.D. Author of “The Writer in All of Us, Plume and E.P. Dutton, workshop leader for The International Women’s Writing Guild

“Roberta Kuriloff uses the metaphor of home to deepen our understanding of belonging. Overcoming a stark life in an orphanage she becomes a lawyer driven to become a voice for abandoned and abused children and ultimately builds a home of her own in Maine to shelter her loved ones. An inspiring memoir about the construction and union of both an inner and outer life.” 

— Maureen Murdock, Ph.D. Author of The Heroine’s Journey: Woman’s Quest for Wholeness and Unreliable Truth: On Memoir and Memory

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Debut author’s Hallmark-style romance steals hearts

 A cottage renovation doesn’t go to plan when love–and secrets–are uncovered

HUNTINGTON, New York – Debut author L. S. Case’s new romance, “A Hundred Days Till Tomorrow” (June 20, 2023, Spark Press), leaves readers exquisitely charmed as it follows Miranda Blair to her estranged grandmother’s estate, where she must spend 100 days in order to inherit it–and where she falls for the handsome emerald-eyed guy next door. Fans of Hallmark movies will love embarking upon a magical summer in which an unlikely attraction blooms–but the future is threatened when secrets are unearthed. 

Miranda has spent two decades running from her past, but everything changes when she’s named the sole heir to her grandmother’s estate. The catch? Her grandmother requires a 100-day stay at her smalltown New England cottage as a prerequisite for Miranda’s inheritance. Miranda begrudgingly accepts, and despite the charms of the picturesque town of Cobblers Hill, the abandoned property needs a makeover as desperately as Miranda does.

There’s a definite perk: her handsome neighbor Jake Colby, who awakens Miranda’s taste for adventure by showing her the hidden beauty of Cobblers Hill. As attraction grows, Miranda allows herself to embrace new possibilities. But when secrets are revealed, can she trust her heart to choose the future she truly wants? 

“A richly detailed novel which you will want to revisit again and again. A journey of heart and soul, it explores the intricacies of family, relationships, and the old adage that nothing is as it seems.”

 Jeannie Moon, USA Today bestselling author of “The Temporary Wife”

“A Hundred Days Till Tomorrow”

L. S. Case | June 20, 2023 | Spark Press

 Women’s Fiction | Clean Small-Town Romance 

Paperback | 1684631882 | $17.95 

Ebook |  B0B8H5YM9F |  $9.49

L. S. Case: A lifelong resident of Long Island, L. S. Case is a twenty-year volunteer wish granter for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Hofstra University. Before embarking on her author journey, she spent over a decade as a proud region leader, recruiter, trainer, and multi-award sales achiever for Lia Sophia jewelry. Her passion for helping others transformed countless women’s lives, one necklace at a time. In 2017, she co-founded a nonprofit organization and currently serves on its board of directors. Her life’s joy is the time she spends with her husband, family, and a tempera­mental cockatiel. Always on the lookout for her next adventure, L. S. can be found singing off-key at an ’80s concert, cycling to the beach, participating in races, swinging from a trapeze, or hanging from the warehouse ceiling in Fear Factor Live at Universal Studios. Find out more about her at

Follow L. S. Case on social media: 

Facebook: @lscasenovelist | Instagram: @lscasenovelist

In an interview, L. S. Case can discuss:

  • Her passion for helping others, acting as a twenty-year volunteer wish granter for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and co-founding of a nonprofit, where she currently serves on the Board of Directors
  • Creating flawed, yet inspirational female main characters, and why it’s important to showcase the imperfections of people and life
  • How writing became a cathartic escape for expressing her thoughts, and turned into a novel to inspire and encourage women
  • What inspired Cobblers Hill, and how she created this delicious setting for her book

An Interview with

L. S. Case

1. What attracted you to writing a romance novel? Where did the inspiration for this story come from?

I’ve always been a romantic, having married my high school sweetheart almost thirty years ago. I’m also an avid Hallmark movie viewer, Nicholas Sparks reader, gazebo lover, and happily-ever-after believer. While I created this delicious escape with relatable characters to root for and invest in, I aspired to instill hope and ignite change in my readers. They were at the heart of each written word.

2. What was your favorite part about writing the novel? What did you find most challenging? 

Writing A Hundred Days Till Tomorrow provided a cathartic distraction from life’s curveballs. I loved strategically placing my characters’ footprints throughout the journey, determining their strengths and adversities, and ensuring hope prevailed. But while my faith in the storyline was unwavering, I often doubted myself as the storyteller—I struggled to change my mindset from “why me?” to “why not me?”

3. You are very active in your community and enjoy giving back. What inspires you to take action?

Sometimes in life, we are on the receiving end of kindness and compassion. At other times we are called upon to be that beacon of hope. As a firm believer in the power of one person sparking change, I never want to turn away from a cause. If there is a difference to be made, I’ll do my best to make it. It’s a responsibility I never take lightly.

4. Do you have plans for future books?

Yes. I am writing my second women’s fiction novel, Bringing Back Yesterday. Like A Hundred Days Till Tomorrow, it brings a spirit of renewal, growth, and self-acceptance through compelling characters in a picturesque lakeside setting.

5. What advice do you wish to give to writers who are beginning their journey?

Surround yourself with the prayer warriors and cheerleaders who breathe life into your book-writing aspirations. Join a writer’s group and take classes. Immerse yourself wherever you find inspiration. Don’t allow fear of failure or negativity to steal your pen. There is no expiration date on your dreams, so enjoy the writing journey—and never put a period where there should be a comma!

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Engaging and empowering new middle grade novel on finding self-esteem with a little-known eating disorder

“Food Fight” by Linda B. Davis showcases protagonist with ARFID

Chicago, IL–In Linda B. Davis’ debut novel “Food Fight” (Fitzroy Books/Regal House, June 2023), a three-day class trip becomes a survival mission for a picky-eating student with ARFID (Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder). Inspired by one of her relatives, “Food Fight” showcases the challenges of living with a lesser known and misunderstood eating disorder, while emphasizing the importance of fitting in by being yourself.

About the book: Ben Snyder is ready to start middle school. He’s smart, athletic, and has two best friends. But his super picky eating, which has never been a problem before, is about to get in his way. Suddenly everybody’s on his case about what he’s eating and what he’s not—his old friends, new friends, weird lab partner, a girl he’s crushing on, and a bully—and he finds himself in a social free fall, sliding toward the bottom of the middle school food chain. Even worse, an upcoming three-day field trip sounds too awesome to miss but has a horrifying menu. As he prepares for the trip, Ben learns there might be more to his picky eating than he ever realized. Armed with new information, he plans to avoid the bully along with every single meal. But when everything starts to go wrong and epic hunger threatens to push him over the edge, Ben must decide how far he will go to fit in—and if he has what it takes to stand out.

“Food Fight”

Linda B. Davis | June 27, 2023 | Fitzroy Books/Regal House | Children’s, Middle Grade

Paperback | ISBN: 9781646033430 | $15.95

Praise for Food Fight

“A heartfelt and hilarious look at life through the eyes of a picky eater. A must-read for anyone who has ever fought their own battles with both fitting in and being themselves.” 

Shannon Schuren, author of Where Echoes Lie

Linda Davis has a knack for zingy dialogue and depicting multi-faceted sixth-grade characters… a pitch-perfect balance for middle-grade readers.”

Kimberly Behre Kenna, author of Artemis Sparke and the Sound Seekers Brigade

“Davis gives the reader a realistic and sympathetic portrayal of what it is like to be a picky eater in middle school. With a convincing cast of characters, she creates a lively and timely look into the life of a student with ARFID (Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder) and the challenges he faces. An important and well-written debut novel.”

Joyce Burns Zeiss, author of Out of the Dragon’s Mouth

“This debut novel pairs a unique subject (selective eating disorder) with a smorgasbord of universal middle grade themes including tolerance, bullying, acceptance, empowerment and self-esteem. Well worth the read!

Naomi Milliner, author of Super Jake and the King of Chaos

About the Author…

Linda B. Davis: Linda holds a master’s degree in developmental psychology from Vanderbilt University and a master’s in clinical social work from University of South Florida. Her past work experiences include research investigating how the sense of smell facilitates mother-infant bonding, clinical work with people newly infected with HIV, and psychoeducational support for adults and children living with mental illness.

Ultimately, her career training prepared her to be curious about why we do the things we do. This has come in handy as a mother and a writer. She is passionate about the need for accessible and accurate information about mental health, especially in children’s books. Her novel, “Food Fight,” was inspired by a young relative’s experience living with Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID), a little-known eating disorder often characterized as “extreme picky eating.” Much of her research on the topic has focused on the impact of picky eating on families.

Linda is a member of SCBWI and active in the Chicago writing community. When she’s not writing, she enjoys buying more books than she can possibly read, maintaining her Little Free Library, and traveling with her husband and daughters. To learn more about her life and work, visit: 

Follow Linda B. Davis on social media:

TikTok: @lbd1009 | Twitter: @lindabdavis65 | Instagram: @linda_d65

In an interview, Linda B. Davis can discuss:

  • How a picky-eating young relative inspired Linda to research ARFID, and the surprising facts she learned about the little-known disorder
  • Why ARFID representation is crucial for better understanding ourselves and our loved ones, and what she hopes readers of all ages will take away from “Food Fight”
  • How her background in psychology and social work influenced her approach to writing
  • How families and friends can support loved ones with eating disorders

An Interview with

Linda B. Davis

1. What inspired you to write “Food Fight”? 

Several years ago, my eleven-year-old nephew’s extreme picky eating threatened to ruin his social life. I hate to admit it, but I was less than sympathetic. I attributed his eating habits to stubbornness and rolled my eyes at the cheese pizzas he ate at every family gathering. But a little research turned me around. Once I familiarized myself with ARFID (Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder), which is often characterized as extreme picky eating, I came to admire the courage it took him to face the types of eating-focused social gatherings we all participate in every day.

2. How did your background in psychology and social work influence your approach to writing Ben’s story?

Social workers stress the importance of understanding a person’s behavior in light of the environmental contexts in which they live. The impact of ARFID goes beyond eating—it also affects the way a person feels and behaves when interacting with others. For middle schoolers, whose social worlds are expanding, it’s almost impossible to avoid eating in front of other people. I wanted to explore the social complications ARFID might cause for kids like Ben and how it might affect self-esteem, self-confidence, and relationships, both with peers and parents.

3. What was the research process like? Did you learn anything about ARFID that was particularly surprising?

My research included reading books written by treatment professionals for parents of kids with ARFID, talking to parents, and participating in the ARFID online community. A common worry for parents is sending their kids with ARFID on their first overnight trip, which helped shape the plot of “Food Fight.” Although ARFID is a relatively new diagnosis, I continue to be surprised at how difficult it is for parents to find knowledgeable professionals to treat and support their kids. Despite awareness efforts, many people (and professionals) continue to dismiss ARFID as a willful stubbornness created by overindulgent parents who cater to a child’s whims. These attitudes contribute to feelings of isolation and stress for families living with ARFID.

4. What do you hope readers (kids and adults!) will take away from this story?

Although ARFID is a relatively rare condition, the types of challenges it presents are universal in the world of middle graders as they confront the never-ending question of How do I fit in? I set out to write a story in which kids living with ARFID will finally see themselves on the page and kids who are unfamiliar with ARFID can relate to a character who struggles to accept himself and be accepted by his peers. Ultimately, I hope “Food Fight” encourages people to react to extreme picky eating with empathy rather than judgment.

5. What’s next for you on your author journey?

I am currently working on a YA ghost story and plan to start research for a historical middle grade novel soon.

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Troubled tween befriends John Lennon’s “ghost” to cope with family trauma

Award-winning author draws from Beatles to pen “touching, funny” MG novel 

NEW YORK, NY – Mark Goldblatt’s middle grade novel “Twerp” was a Junior Library Guild Selection, an Indie Next Pick, and a multi-award nominee that the New York Post called “reminiscent of ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower.’” Its sequel, Finding The Worm, was a three-time PJ Our Way selection. Now Goldblatt asks: What would you do if the ghost of John Lennon turned up on your doorstep? David Salmon, the 13 year old narrator of the story, needs more than a little help from his friends as his life spins out of control in “Might As Well Be Dead” (May 5, 2023, Phoenix Press/New Haven Publishing). 

Goldblatt, who writes for both young and adult readers, has been published in  The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Post, USA Today, and Time. He’s also a Sunshine State Award finalist, and he’s been nominated for the Georgia Book Award and the Vermont Dorothy Canfield Fischer Book Award. Professional psychotherapist Michael Leiman describes Might As Well Be Dead as “a touching, funny, highly readable story of a young man trying to cope.” Bestselling author Chris Grabenstein calls it, “a crackling good read filled with humor, heart, and hope.”

David Salmon is adjusting to his mom’s sudden decision to leave him and his dad. Except then a middle-aged British ghost named Winston shows up–bearing an uncanny resemblance to John Lennon. David is 99% sure he’s not real, but he’s a welcome distraction. Winston helps David with his struggles at home–his dad is having an especially difficult time with his wife’s sudden departure–while also guiding David through problems with his best friend and the new girl at school. Eventually, Winston shares his real reason for befriending David, forcing him to confront a dark truth he is desperate to avoid. 

With inspiration from The Beatles, sharp humor, and profound wisdom about the need to heal, Might As Well Be Dead is a hopeful story about the transformative power of love.

“Might As Well Be Dead”

Mark Goldblatt | May 5, 2023

 Phoenix Press/New Haven Publishing | Middle Grade Fiction 

Paperback | ISBN – 978-1-912949515-51-0 | $12.99 

MARK GOLDBLATT is the award-winning author of the middle grade novels Twerp and its sequel Finding the Worm (both from Random House), as well as a half dozen novels and nonfiction books for adults. He has been published in many popular and academic newspaper and magazines including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Post, USA Today, Time, National Review, Reason, Commentary, Quillette, New York Observer, Chronicle of Higher Education, Philosophy Now, and Sewanee Theological Review. He teaches developmental English and religious history at Fashion Institute of Technology of the State University of New York. Find out more about him at

Follow Mark Goldblatt on social media: 

Twitter: @MarkGoldblatt | Instagram: @anothertheologian

In an interview, Mark Goldblatt can discuss:

  • The power of imaginative literature to convey and cope with childhood trauma
  • The enduring legacy of the Beatles, the timelessness of their music, and the universality of their messages
  • The role of humor in helping us through even our darkest days
  • The blurring of reality and imagination in young people when their emotions are raw
  • The themes of bullying in his previous works, Twerp and Finding the Worm
  • The teachable themes in his fiction and how instructors have included them in their curriculum

Advanced Praise for Might As Well Be Dead

“Mark Goldblatt writes a crackling good read filled with humor, heart, and hope.  This story might be a little dark, but, sometimes, that’s the only way to see the light.” 

Chris Grabenstein, New York Times bestselling author of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library

“Sometimes all we need to get by in the real world are friendly hallucinations.”

–Vince Vawter, author of the Newbery-honored, bestselling novel Paperboy

“With playful and creative liberty, Mark Goldblatt illustrates the extremes to which one may go to avoid feeling what one is not ready to face. As the protagonist’s Mom sagely notes, “Your heart has to understand what your head understands in order to feel better.” A lighthearted and entertaining exploration of the power of pain, this highly readable story may provoke inner reflection of the myriad ways we each run from, distort, and avoid our own ghosts, and the power of speaking our truths to begin to heal.”

– Dr. Deborah Vinall, LMFT, author of Trauma Recovery Workbook for Teens

Might as Well be Dead is the touching, funny, highly readable story of a young man trying to cope. Goldblatt uses creative and imaginative powers to move beyond self and create an atmosphere safe enough to look at, accept, and ultimately deal with unbearable hurt—so that there is, eventually, an opportunity for healing.” 

–Michael Leiman, CSW, Psychotherapist

Praise for Twerp

“Reminiscent of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. . . . You don’t have to be a twerp to read this book.” 

—New York Post

“A vivid, absorbing story about one boy’s misadventure, heartache, and hope for himself.” 

—Rebecca Stead, Newbery Award-winning author of When You Reach Me

“Mark Goldblatt is an amazingly wonderful writer.” 

—Chris Grabenstein, New York Times bestselling author of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library

“[Fans of] Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid who have matured beyond the scope and gravity of that series will find a kindred spirit in Julian.” 

—School Library Journal

“Reminiscent of movies like The Sandlot. . . . Well-written and funny.” 

—The Advocate

“Alternately poignant and comical. . . . A thought-provoking exploration of bullying, personal integrity and self-acceptance.” 

—Kirkus Reviews

“A timely book.” 

—New York Journal of Books

“Elegant in its simplicity and accessibility.” 

—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“Julian Twerski’s honest, self-deprecating and waggish voice finds its way to your heart before he’s uttered as much as a sentence. And by the time he’s finished unburdening his conscience of the highs, lows and hilarities of his year, he’s right up there on your favourites shelf with Spinelli (Stargirl), Palacio (Wonder) and Rebecca Stead (When You Reach Me). This sixth-grader really has a way with words….To sum up, there’s so much in this book it’s impossible to do it justice. Funny, endearing, character building; it will be mighty hard to top this for the year.” 

—Good Reading Guide

“An empathetic and authentic glimpse into the mind of a sixth-grade boy.” 

—The Florida Times-Union

“Funny, poignant, and an effective commentary on bullying and its consequences.” 

The Horn Book Magazine

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Custody battle is tip of iceberg in entertaining courtroom drama

Award-winning lawyer shows there are multiple truths in marriage and divorce

PHILADELPHIA, PA – Founding partner of an all-women law firm, Margaret Klaw uses her experiences as an award-winning family lawyer to pen her first contemporary women’s fiction. Recognized by  Best Lawyers in America and designated a Pennsylvania “Super Lawyer” in the area of family law, she’s written for prestigious outlets like The Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine and The Washington Post on her expertise. “Every Other Weekend” (She Writes Press, May 23, 2023) is Klaw’s first novel using her extensive professional experience to create an engaging and darkly humored multi-perspective look at one family’s journey through the complexities of divorce and custody.

On the outside, fortyish hipster dad  Jake lives the perfect life, happily settled down in a politically progressive, urban and notably self-satisfied community, working at his not-so-demanding job, playing guitar with his band, and enjoying domestic life with his beautiful and accomplished wife Lisa and their two charming daughters. Until Lisa blindsides Jake by telling him she wants a divorce. From there, perspectives shift, and Jake’s world tilts out of control as the story unfolds from multiple points of view–those of other family members, Jake’s  self-absorbed divorce lawyer, the cranky family court judge who presides over his custody case, his polyamorous millennial girlfriend, and even the beloved family dog. 

For fans of “Little Children” by Tom Perrotta, Klaw’s dark humor and deep bench of experience in family law gives readers a bird’s eye view of the ripple effect caused by one family’s divorce, while making it clear that there is never one truth about a marriage.

“Every Other Weekend”

Margaret Klaw | May 25, 2023

She Writes Press | Contemporary Women’s Fiction

Paperback | 978-1-64742-479-4 |$17.95

Ebook | 978-1-64742-480-0 | $9.49

MARGARET KLAW is a writer, lawyer and founding partner of BKW Family Law, an all-women law firm in Philadelphia. Named a Preeminent Woman Lawyer by Martindale-Hubbell, she has been recognized by Best Lawyers in America and designated a Pennsylvania “Super Lawyer” in the area of family law. Starting with day-in-the-life vignettes about practicing family law published in HuffPost, she has written for The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Time and Salon, and is the author of “Keeping it Civil: The Case of the Pre-nup and the Porsche & Other True Accounts from the Files of a Family Lawyer” (Algonquin Books, 2013). “Every Other Weekend” is her first work of fiction. Find out more about Margaret at her website.

Follow Margaret Klaw on social media:

Twitter:  @margyklaw | Instagram: @margyklaw

In an interview, Margaret Klaw can discuss:

  • Her passion and background as a family lawyer and founder of the all-women law firm, BKW Family Law
  • How her experience as a family lawyer has been the inspiration for both “Every Other Weekend” and her first book, “Keeping it Civil: The Case of the Pre-nup and the Porsche and Other Accounts from the Files of a Family Lawyer”
  • Moving from writing nonfiction to writing fictional stories and what she’s learned in the process
  • Her process of writing a fictional story using vignettes from real-world cases
  • Her observations as a family lawyer that led to writing a multi-perspective narrative
  • The lack of one true story behind any family law case, and Klaw’s unique observations from the courtroom

An Interview with

Margaret Klaw

1. While you already have a career as a successful lawyer and published author, what made you decide to create a fictional story this time?

During the editing process with my first book,  KEEPING IT CIVIL: The Case of the Prenup & the Porsche and Other True Accounts from the Files of a Family Lawyer (Algonquin Press, 2013), which was based on a blog I wrote about the daily life of a family lawyer (i.e., me), my editor asked me to create a story that would run throughout the book to make it feel more cohesive and less like a series of short essays and that would serve to create dramatic tension and keep readers reading.  We settled on a custody trial, which I had to fictionalize because I was actually making up courtroom dialogue, unlike the clients and judges and opposing counsel I mentioned in the short vignettes, whose identities I protected but whose actions were (painstakingly) accurately retold.

It turned out that putting together that trial – I got to completely make up what the judge would say to the annoying opposing counsel! – was the most enjoyable part for me of writing Keeping it Civil. So about a year after the launch of that book, when I was thinking about what else I wanted to write, I had the not-so-bright idea that I could write a novel, which I figured would be super fun and easier than the first book because I could go wherever my imagination took me and not have to worry about protecting people’s identities. For some reason, the fact that I had never taken a creative writing course in my life and had absolutely no idea how to put together a novel didn’t seem like an impediment when I started. But of course it was, and learning, painstakingly, how to write a novel, was a profoundly humbling and challenging experience. 

2. As a family lawyer, you of course drew from some of your professional experiences. How much of this story draws from real life? 

A lot. Both the legal parts, e.g. what goes on at Jake’s lawyer’s office on a daily basis, what his lawyer thinks about him as a client, what happens in the courtroom during trial, what the relationship between opposing counsel is like, and what goes on behind the scenes in chambers with the judge’s clerk and court staff, etc., and the community aspect of the book as well.

“Every Other Weekend” is the story not just of an individual family but also of a cohesive urban/suburban neighborhood where all the characters live and everyone’s lives are constantly – and sometimes inappropriately – intersecting. “Greenwood,” as I call it, is a very thinly disguised version of the neighborhood in Philadelphia where I’ve lived for decades and raised my kids. The scenes at the kids’ school where Jake’s band-mate’s kid also attends and knows what’s going on with his daughter, at the dog park where Jake runs into his lawyer and meets her daughter who he then hires to babysit his kids, the various groupings of moms and daughters who meet at the coffee shop gossiping about different version of the same events, the dry cleaners where the judge runs into Jake’s lawyer, all of these are lifted from my experience with living in a community where many of my clients are my neighbors and many have become my friends. And where I have had to constantly keep secrets from my family and friends to protect client confidentiality, so I often feel like I’m navigating a sea of private information while everyone is gossiping around me and I can’t say anything.

3. The story is told through multiple narratives and you’ve talked about the fact that there’s never really just “one truth” in family law. What was the reason to tell the story this way?

I am acutely aware, after decades spent in courtrooms, that people telling different versions of the same events are not necessarily lying. Sometimes they are of course, but very very often, perhaps more in the family law context than in others, people will tell different versions of the same events because they actually perceive those events differently when they happen or perhaps remember them differently afterwards. It’s a terrible oversimplification to think that there is always a “true” account. 

In “Every Other Weekend” there is one particular scene, involving Jake and his lawyer’s 18-year-old daughter who is (probably inappropriately) babysitting for his kids, which appears one way when we first hear about it from Jake, a different way when we later hear about it when the daughter is telling her friends about it, and a third way when the daughter is confronted by her mother (Jake’s lawyer) about it toward the end of the book. I have been asked by many of my early readers what actually happened in that scene, and my answer is, sincerely, I’m not sure. I really don’t know! That’s the point. And so much of what we learn about Jake and Lisa during the course of the book contradict how they see themselves and each other. All of this is fascinating to me, and it’s why I set the book in this one place where all my characters’ personal and professional lives overlap and where everyone is talking about their neighbors, and where I periodically added “choruses” – the women at the yoga studio, the guys at band practice, the teenage girls at the cafe – talking about the events unfolding around them, which give yet a third version of events as told by those on the outside looking in.

4. What are some reasons why people get divorced? Any surprising stories you can share?

I’d say in my very unofficial (but voluminous) observation, not what you’d think. Infidelity is quite low on the list – people often weather that.  I’d say the greatest number of divorces are caused by various addictions (alcohol, drugs, occasionally gambling) or other mental health issues. And usually people have tried hard to make it work before deciding to pull the plug on the marriage. Financial issues are also big – which are incidentally a major part of the demise of Jake and LIsa’s marriage but you don’t really learn the scope of it until late in the book, since Jake doesn’t place much importance on it.  

Domestic violence is also unfortunately pretty common, and that is certainly a reason marriages end but often not until it’s been going on a long time because the dynamic of abuse is that the person being abused is scared of standing up to the abuser. And sometimes the abuse is mental, not physical. 

One thing that used to be a reason marriages ended which we never see now is because one spouse was gay, and either they or the straight spouse decided they just couldn’t live with that lie to the outside world. Fortunately now gay people don’t need to have sham heterosexual marriages. Now they can get married and get divorced for all the same reasons straight people do! 

5. You mention being married to your teenage sweetheart. Would you mind telling us that story?

I met my husband on my second day of college. I was seventeen. He was nineteen and had taken a year off between high school and college, doing things like hitchhiking to Mexico and crewing on a sailboat being delivered to the Caribbean (all of which turned out, amazingly, to actually be true.) He took courses like pottery and “Self-Concept.” I was a very serious conservatory student (violin) and spent most of my freshman year in a practice room. I transferred to a different school, he followed me, I had an identity crisis at the age of 20 and realized I didn’t want to be a professional musician, he supported me,  I ended up in law school, he supported me, then he went to architecture school, I supported him, we had our first child and our lives have been successfully intertwined ever since.

One of the most popular pieces I wrote when I blogged for HuffPost was about divorce lawyers being romantics who stay married. I really do think my career has helped me appreciate the relationship I have with my husband and kept me from sweating the small stuff. 

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Writer’s family memoir is epic adventure into hidden Chinese history

Pirates, prophecies, love, and survival – True stories offer a new look at life in Post-Imperial and Revolutionary China, as experienced by four generations of women 

Qin Sun Stubis grew up in the squalor of a Shanghai shantytown during the Great Chinese Famine, her once-prestigious family shunned as political pariahs and forced to endure chronic poverty, torture, treacherous political shifts, and even an assassination attempt. But their nights came alive with stories of the family’s incredible history: colorful tales of pirates, prophecies, fortunes won and lost, glorious lives and gruesome deaths. Based on actual experiences and family lore from the Post-Imperial to Post-Cultural Revolution eras, Qin – a longtime newspaper columnist exploring the similarities and differences between East and West – has united these stories in a gorgeously-written and gripping nonfiction narrative, “Once Our Lives: Life, Death and Love in the Middle Kingdom” (June 1, 2023, Guernica Editions), uncovering one of the most fascinating yet largely overlooked portions of Chinese history, as told by those who lived it. 

“Once Our Lives” is the remarkable true story of four generations of Chinese women and how their lives were threatened by powerful and cruel ancient traditions, historic upheavals, gender oppression, and a man whose fate – cursed by a superstitious prophecy that appears to come true – dramatically altered their destinies. The book takes the reader on an exotic journey filled with luxurious banquets, lost jewels, babies sold in opium dens, kidnappings at sea, and a desperate flight from death in the desert – seen through the eyes of a man for whom the truth would spell disaster and a lonely, beautiful girl with three identities.

This poignant epic offers an intimate look into the extraordinary lives of ordinary people living behind China’s greatest historical headlines – with a narrative so incredible that had it been written as fiction, people might not believe it.

Once Our Lives: Life, Death, and Love in the Middle Kingdom

Qin Sun Stubis | June 1, 2023 | Guernica Editions | Creative Nonfiction, Historical Memoir

Paperback | ISBN: 978-1-77183-796-5 | $21.95 (U.S.)  / $25 (Canadian)

About the Author

QIN SUN STUBIS was born in the squalor of a Shanghai shantytown during the Great Chinese Famine. Growing up during the Cultural Revolution, she quickly learned that words could thrill – and even kill.  She saw her defiantly honest father imprisoned and tortured for using the wrong words. Shunned as political pariahs, Qin and her family sustained themselves with books and stories of adventure and past glory. With the help of a borrowed radio, an eccentric British teacher, and a fortuitous assignment as a library assistant, Qin discovered and fell in love with Western literature, committing to memory the strange but beautiful sounds of Keats, Wordsworth, and Lincoln. 

But it was in bed late each night, after scouring local parks for enough firewood to cook the family’s meal of rice, that Qin and her three small sisters heard the dramatic stories that make up this book. The four girls listened to their mother, an aspiring actress in the early days of Asian cinema, recount colorful tales of pirates, prophecies, fortunes won and lost, babies sold in opium dens, glorious lives and gruesome deaths. Based on actual experiences and family lore from the Post-Imperial to Post-Cultural Revolution eras, these stories represent a wealth of colorful but largely overlooked Chinese history. 

Eventually, through sheer grit and perseverance, Qin won admission to the famed Shanghai Institute of Foreign Languages and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English and English Literature. With the help of family, friends, and a powerful U.S. Senator, Qin was granted a visa to study abroad. She arrived in America with two suitcases and not much more. After winning several scholarships, she graduated with a master’s degree and a profound love for her new adoptive country.  

For the past 15 years, Qin has been a newspaper columnist and writes poems, essays, short stories, and original Chinese tall tales inspired by traditional Asian themes. Her writing is inflected with both Eastern and Western flavors in ways that transcend geography to touch hearts and reveal universal truths. Learn more:

Follow Qin Sun Stubis on social media: 

Facebook:   Instagram: @QinStubis

In an interview, Qin Sun Stubis can discuss:

  • How living in China during the Great Chinese Famine affected her and her family physically, emotionally, and financially
  • The unlikely means by which Qin got her education and changed her life while experiencing poverty (including banned books, a borrowed radio, and an eccentric British teacher)
  • The most exciting stories from her new book (and there are plenty to choose from!), such as stories about lost jewels, babies sold in opium dens, kidnappings by pirates, and a desperate flight from death in the desert
  • A reflection on how China has changed over time, and what can be learned about its history – plus what is most overlooked / misunderstood about her home country 
  • Feminism and cultural gender oppression, as well as the remarkable power of women to stand up to world-shaking challenges and overcome them
  • The rising tide of anti-Asian sentiment and how the stories in this book may help build people’s understanding of an ancient culture and emerging superpower 
  • How the concepts of fate and superstition have shaped her life
  • How she immigrated to America and embarked on a career as a writer and newspaper columnist despite the odds

An Interview with

Qin Sun Stubis 

“Once Our Lives” is bookended by a mysterious, ancient superstition that seems to change the fates of two families over several generations, and, strangely enough, seems to come true. Can you briefly tell the story of how this all began?

When my grandmother was 19 years old and pregnant with her first child (my father), she found a beggar at her door. She fed him every day for seven days, but his visits stopped the day my father was born. One day, as my grandmother nursed her baby and pondered the beggar’s visits, she suddenly saw his eyes in her child and realized that the beggar had been all along a “wandering soul” in search of a host and he was now inside my father! Although my father was born into a prosperous family, my grandmother knew the beggar’s dark fate would take over his life.

How much of what shaped your family’s destiny do you think was due to real-life circumstances, and how much was due to cultural mores, superstitions, or just peoples’ belief itself in superstitions? 

Here in the west, people often use the phrase “in the wrong place at the wrong time” for unfortunate events and “in the right place at the right time” for lucky occurrences. We cannot choose when and where we are born, but time and place do affect significantly how our lives unfold. My family went through extraordinary times in modern Chinese history, including wars, famine, natural disasters, and revolution, so it is hard to attribute our lives’ struggles to any one specific cause. However, it was definitely my grandmother’s sincere belief that my father was doomed before he was even born. Whether or not you believe in “fate,” people’s beliefs and expectations often do end up shaping their lives. Certainly, in the case of women, age-old cultural barriers, taboos and discrimination were strong enough to significantly affect their fortunes. And while people in the same historical period in China all went through what we went through, somehow, for my family, whatever could go wrong went wrong. My father ran into problem after problem and was even arrested and imprisoned twice, once for being for the Cultural Revolution, and once for being against it. It seemed that he simply could not win and that life was somehow against him. My grandmother attributed everything to his beggar’s fate. 

How has China changed? And how has it stayed the same?

As a country, China has changed so much during the 50 years since it opened up. In the 1980s, I was an international tour and cultural guide in Shanghai and around the country for seven years. I knew Shanghai and some other major cities like my own fingers. Six years after I left for the United States, I went back and couldn’t recognize my own city. Every few years, I went back and it kept on changing. Skyscrapers shot up like bamboo shoots, old neighborhoods were leveled and gone, and the city skyline has been totally transformed and redefined again and again. China’s infrastructure is improving at lightning speed and, physically at least, the Chinese people’s way of life has been altered for the better.

But underneath the surface changes, I see the stubborn roots of our old cultural traditions, rituals, and even superstitions, some of which are embedded in the bedrock of 5,000 years of Chinese history and couldn’t be uprooted even by the gigantic tide of the Cultural Revolution. During holidays, family gatherings, and in everyday life, they are still being quietly observed and unconsciously passed down from generation to generation. In spite of their own denials and decades of official efforts to erase them, young people are weaving these rituals, beliefs and traditions into the fabric of their lives.

Let’s talk about the role of women in China. You write that women were sometimes seen as mere vessels for bearing sons and their status rose or fell depending on whether they delivered a boy or girl. In fact, women were sometimes not even referred to by their names, but as “the child’s mother” or “so-and-so’s daughter-in-law.” Was this your mother’s experience? 

For many centuries before the founding of the People’s Republic of China, women had been the vessels for bearing sons and carrying on the family line for their husbands’ families. Their social status depended on having boys. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, Chairman Mao himself proclaimed that men and women were equal, and that women were capable of “holding up half the sky.” And yet, the fate of Chinese women seemed to have changed less than you might expect. Women like my mother still suffered greatly all their lives for not being able to bear sons. As girls without brothers, we were looked down upon by our relatives. When the Sun family had any celebration, my mother and the four of us little girls were never invited. We were never in any of the Sun family photos. Our birthdays were ignored and our existences considered trivial. At the time when our family lived in the shantytown in the late 1950s and mid-1960s, my mother was often only called the “Sun family’s daughter-in-law.” Few even knew what her real name was. She was just part of the Sun family.

The only time my grandmother gave me a present was the night before I left for America. She arrived at our house with my grandfather, pressed a roll of money in my palm and said, “Buy yourself something.” Luckily, the room was dark and she couldn’t see the rage in my eyes. I didn’t want her money. It was too late to repair our relationship. I suppressed my anger and tried hard not to say anything bad. The next day, I left the money at home and told my father to give it back to her before I boarded the plane. 

How did the hardships you experienced growing up in China shape your character?

I would say my character and personality have been deeply molded by hardships and uncertainties. While growing up in such harsh conditions was difficult, it did temper and train me to be resilient and resourceful. When I was little, I often wished bad times would end, my family would have enough food to eat, my father hadn’t been taken away, and my sisters and I had enough warm clothes in the winter so we wouldn’t have frostbite all over our fingers and toes…but none of my wishes were ever answered. I had to confront some harsh new reality every day and find ways to make my life a bit more manageable. Yet, I always held onto the hope that tomorrow would be a better day: It would be warmer, we would have more food, and my father would be returned to us. And I learned that no one could take away my right to hope and wish. They were the only riches I had in life. It was my hopes and wishes that carried me all the way to a university in Shanghai and eventually across the ocean to the United States.   

What is the story behind the cover design for “Once Our Lives?”

The central image in the book cover is a rare picture of the four Sun sisters – Wen, Ping, me and Min – shot in Jubilee Court, Shanghai around 1967 by a neighbor who was taking pictures of his own children. Having just a bit of extra film left in his camera, he called us over and asked us to line up for a photo. This was just how we looked that summer day, with pigtails made by our mother and clothes hand-sewn by her, as well. It was one of the only photos we have from our childhood because few people had cameras at the time, and we didn’t have the money to go to a photo studio. Very soon after that picture was taken, the first waves of the Cultural Revolution crashed into our lives. Our father was arrested and put into detention for speaking up about an unfair situation affecting the co-workers he represented as a union leader, and our neighbor never asked to take our picture again. I chose this picture because it captured a happy and hopeful moment for the four “worthless” Sun family daughters, the only treasures my parents ever had. At the top of the book cover are words from a postcard my father sent to us from his detention cell. Addressed to my older sister, Ping, my father’s fond signoff, “Your father,” was blacked out by an official censor, and the word “Criminal” was added beneath in someone else’s handwriting. Few postcards he wrote ever reached us, which were the only signs we knew that our father was still alive.

Why did you write this book? What do you hope readers will take away from your writing?

Since I was a child, I have always loved books. They gave me an escape when life became too hard, which was almost every day when I was growing up. But I never imagined myself writing a book, let alone one in English, which, after all, is not my mother tongue. After my parents passed away some 20 years ago, I missed them so much that I often spent long hours thinking about them and remembering the lives they had lived. The old stories my mother had told me over the years also came flooding back to me, bequeathing me a wealth of fantastical tales. I couldn’t believe how much my parents had lived through. I realized that if I didn’t write their stories down, an important part of history would be lost – along with a last chance for justice for my family. It was then that I decided to become the chronicler as well as defender of their lives. I wanted my children to learn about them. I wanted anyone interested in history and humanity to learn about them. My book is not just about Chinese history, because people from all parts of the world have also experienced wars, famines, and revolutions at one time or another. We all go through hard times and have to meet the challenges of our times. As my readers follow the footpath of our once-lived lives, I hope they will see the similarities, as well as the differences between our lives and theirs, better understand our common humanity, and be inspired to hold onto their own hopes and dreams as once we did.

Advance praise for “Once Our Lives”

“A moving account of family lore and life, Once Our Lives is paradoxically both heartrending and heartening – heartrending in its depiction of this family’s suffering and heartening in its depiction of the love that survives it all. I was riveted and moved.” 

– Gish Jen, award-winning author of “Thank you, Mr. Nixon,” one of Oprah’s Favorite Books of 2022, The New Yorker’s Best Books of 2022, and NPR’s Books We Love

“This gripping memoir illuminates the full humanity of real people across four generations as they traverse the tectonics of modern China, buffeted between youthful idealism, political movements and cultural drag. A truly haunting tale of resilience, endurance and hope.”

– Helen Zia, acclaimed author of “Last Boat out of Shanghai: The Epic Story of             the Chinese who Fled Mao’s Revolution” 

“Qin Stubis combines oral traditions of mythologized family lore with the creative non-fiction writing of memoir. The reader experiences firsthand the vacillations of recent Chinese history.” 

– Dr. Jennifer Rudolph, Professor, Asian History and International/Global Studies, WPI, and co-author of “The China Questions” books (Harvard University Press)

“A wonderful writer whose extraordinary ability and beautifully descriptive writing allow her to share her unusual experiences with readers in a uniquely powerful way. She is a writer whose generous, caring style has great appeal to a wide audience.”

– Diane Margolin, editor and publisher, the Santa Monica Star

“Qin Sun Stubis is notable for the warmth of her writing, the colorful originality of her work, and her ability to touch the hearts and minds of a wide variety of readers – a rare talent.“

– Christine Crosby, founder and editorial director, GRAND Magazine

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Doctor augments Western medicine with astrology

A woman’s journey for self-discovery leads to adjunct tool for medical diagnosis

LAS VEGAS, NV – Dr. Alicia Blando learned during the early days of the HIV epidemic that American medical practices fail to holistically support patients. Seeing a gap in medical care, Dr. Blando started seeking advice from unconventional counselors, such as psychics and mediums, as well as learning from indigenous healers. “Open for Interpretation: A Doctor’s Journey into Astrology” (She Writes Press, June 27th 2023) follows Dr. Blando’s self-discovery journey through her astrological chart and demonstrates how readers can apply this ancient practice to their own path to self discovery. 

In conjunction with Western medicine, Dr. Blando believes that the tenets of astrology can support a person’s health, wellbeing, and self-understanding, and can even offer insight into predispositions for certain diseases and illnesses. Dr. Blando takes readers on her pursuit of life’s age-old question, “Am I walking the right path?” She travels from Manhattan to the Peruvian Amazon, Belize, and Bolivia, and learns about time-proven, holistic methods of healing. In her stunning memoir, she shares her story of finally finding the guide she’s been seeking—and explains how we can all use that map to access our higher selves and untapped potential.

In “Open for Interpretation”, Dr. Blando’s expedition off the beaten path leads her to true self-exploration and connection with the world around her, as well as a desire to share her knowledge and experience. 


“Open for Interpretation: A Doctor’s Journey into Astrology”

Dr. Alicia Blando | June 27th, 2023 | She Writes Press 

Memoir, Self-Help, Personal Growth

Print | 978-1-64742-470-1 | $17.95

Ebook | 978-1-64742-471-8 | $9.95


Dr. ALICIA BLANDO trained and practiced in the medical specialty of physical medicine & rehabilitation. While working as a physician, she became interested in how indigenous healers diagnosed and treated their patients without the technology present in modern medicine. This curiosity was supported by what she learned about herself through the study of astrology. As a Western 

physician who has followed the tenets of astrology in her life, she believes that the practice of astrology can function as an adjunct method to study many aspects of life, including the tendencies for certain disease processes. Dr. Blando works as a medical consultant. She currently resides in Las Vegas, Nevada. Find out more about them at 

In an interview, Dr. Alicia Bando can discuss:

  • The events in her traditional medical experience that lead her to seek out more holistic healthcare techniques
  • How her first demonstration in astrological teachings influenced her career as a healthcare professional 
  • The importance of practicing holistic healthcare, which combines Western and astrological practices 
  • The major changes in her personal life that have stemmed from practicing astrology 
  • Why she was ultimately unsatisfied with only practicing Western medicine 

An Interview with

Dr. Alicia Blando

1. What events in your personal and professional life caused you to seek out astrological practices? 

It was in medical school, when I was talking to my classmate about the future and he told me about his family of astrologers in India. He was told he would be married twice. He had scoffed at the idea. He was going to have only one wife. His plan was to have only one marriage and live happily ever after. That conversation ignited my idea that if there are people who could foretell the future, there must be a handbook for life and I was going to search for it.

2. How has practicing astrology helped you in your personal life and in your professional life as a doctor? 

What I’ve done with astrology is test it. There were good days for certain activities depending on which sign the moon was in.  If the moon was in Virgo, a discriminating sign, I could do activities that required detailed work, such as giving lectures on a medical technique. If the moon was in Leo, the showman of the zodiac signs, I could project myself well when pitching or doing presentations. I am currently a medical consultant. But, when I was doing clinical work, I never used astrology on my patients. I would need to disclose why I needed the time and location of birth and a more extensive history than just the medical history. Additionally, use of astrology is still not the standard of care in the medical field. 

3. What are some of the limitations of Western medicine and how does astrology help fill in some of those gaps? 

Western medicine can diagnose and treat an ailment, when it becomes symptomatic, such as a heart attack. A trained astrologer can interpret a birth chart, where the planets are mapped on a horoscope at the date, time, and location of birth and tell the client, what diseases he or she has a predilection for and when disease is likely to manifest if no precautionary measures are taken. In India, parents usually get readings for their newborns to alert them as to what to expect for the child’s life. 

4. When were some instances in your life you made decisions regarding traveling and moving based on astrology? 

I bought my Miami condo on the date that my astrologer gave me. Two weeks before the date she picked, the air conditioner that was located in the ceiling flooded the unit as it was not maintained. If I had bought it earlier, I would have paid more and would have had to deal with the repair. I moved from Miami to Oakland at the right time. My job at the time had a lot of egotistical personalities and moving to the west coast allowed me to be an independent contractor where there were a lot of resources for learning astrology. I also bought my current home in Las Vegas, when I was advised to.

5. What do you hope readers gain from your book “Open to Interpretation”? 

I hope my readers will be motivated to learn about themselves through the study of astrology and be given insight as to how to deal with or make detours regarding obstacles in their lives. If learning astrology is not a good option, there are many well-trained astrologers available for consultation. I would love to integrate astrology into Western medicine as a new medical specialist: Astrologists.

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Award-winning sci fi author explores the dangers of tech and the importance of family in new “The Price of” novel

“A thrilling and provocative dystopian tale”–Independent Book Review

Indian Shores, FL – “The Price of Rebellion” (World Castle Publishing, May 2023) is the action-packed second installment in the bestselling “The Price of” series from award-winning author Michael C. Bland.

It’s 2047. Secrets have been revealed. And Washington wants revenge. Dray Quintero learned an ugly truth: the leaders in D.C. are fake. Using his technology, they’ve stolen the identities of those duly elected to Congress and are determined to stay in power. After revealing the dangers of their government-mandated implants to his fellow citizens, Dray joins the already-underway rebellion. Before he can strike, The Agency attacks with devastating consequences. Dray and the other survivors are forced to run as Agents hunt them.

Then Dray makes a discovery that could alter their fate—and the future of the nation. As he and the rebels prepare a bold offensive, his wife Mina broadcasts a preposterous claim. Dray must choose between the fight and a desperate hope. Between family and country. What he does will change everything.

“The Price of Rebellion”

Michael C. Bland | May 16, 2023 | World Castle Publishing | Science Fiction 

Hardcover | ISBN: ​​978-1958336892 | $27.99

Paperback | ISBN: 978-1958336908 | $15.99

Ebook | ASIN: B0BMKWQ461 | $3.99


Praise for “The Price of Rebellion”

“adrenaline-fueled, laser-focused…an undeniable page-turner” 

– Kirkus Reviews

“An exciting, fast-paced adventure…exceptionally well-written and innovative.”

 – Readers’ Favorite

Praise for “The Price of Safety”

The Price of Safety is an imaginative, action-driven science fiction novel set in a nightmarish yet plausible future”

Foreword Clarion Reviews

Bland effortlessly blends anticipation of a fast-paced thriller, sophisticated techno details of a science fiction novel, and emotional quotient of a well-crafted story into a complex and engrossing plot

– The Prairies Book Review

reminded me of some of Michael Crichton’s novels, and of Minority ReportThe Price of Safety was an extremely well-crafted story that not only gave me goosebumps but also made me think. I am looking forward to a sequel

– Mystery Sequels 

Exceptional world building and non-stop action combined with heart and compelling characters make Bland’s debut a must-read sci-fi book

Jennifer Brody, award-winning author of The 13th Continuum

The Price of Safety by Michael C. Bland would fit in perfectly with those 90s techno thrillers that put an everyday person into the middle of some cyber conspiracy. It has all of the trappings that made them cool: neat tech, a race against the clock, tons of action, and one man facing off against a tyrannical government

– High Fever Books

The Price of Safety… will leave you completely breathless. This is a book brimming with fast-paced action that continually ramps up until the final crackling climax

– Readers’ Favorite

About the Author…

Michael C. Bland is a founding member and the secretary of BookPod, an online book support group. “Elizabeth”, one of his short stories, won Honorable Mention in Writer’s Digest 2015 Popular Fiction Awards contest, and two of the short stories he edited have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. 

His debut novel, “The Price of Safety,” reached #7 in Amazon’s rankings for Dystopian novels and received Finalist awards three times: by the Indie Book Awards for both Science Fiction and Thriller, and by National Indie Excellence Awards for New Fiction. The second book in the planned trilogy, “The Price of Rebellion” was named “Best Science Fiction” in the 2022 Indies Today awards.  He currently lives in Florida. Learn more about Michael via his website: 

Follow Michael C. Bland on social media:

Facebook: @mcblandwriter | Twitter: @mcblandwriter | Instagram: @mcbland107

In an interview, Michael C. Bland can discuss:

  • Why family plays a central role in “The Price of” series — something that is atypical for the sci-fi genre
  • Why this dystopian world may be closer to our reality than we think
  • How he balances a fast-paced, action-packed plot with emotional depth
  • Who his sci-fi influences are, and what it was like having his books praised as “Tom Clancy meets George Orwell”
  • What’s next for him and “The Price of” series


An Interview with

Michael C. Bland

1. “The Price of” series has a strong emphasis on character and family in particular, which feels unique for this genre. Can you tell us a little more about that?

I love science fiction, but so many novels in the genre seem to have a loner for a main character, and not a lot of family interactions. It’s almost as if family won’t be a big part of people’s lives in the future. But family is so important. I wanted to show a future where family is still important–and is impacted by the technology of 30 years in the future.

2. Do you think the future of the United States could look like it does in this series?

Absolutely. I tried to make my world as plausible as possible; otherwise, readers won’t believe the events that transpire. The implants seem too good to be true, with huge benefits, increased connectivity, an immersive viewing experience, and monitors/gauges to improve the human condition. But the technology comes with hidden risks that affect every citizen and their children.

3. “The Price of Rebellion” has been praised by Independent Book Review as “Tom Clancy meets George Orwell.” Were you inspired by these authors? Who else has influenced your writing?

Yes, they were both gifted authors who created riveting stories. In addition to these two legends, I’ve also been inspired by Pierce Brown, Blake Crouch, Eliot Peper, and Michael Crichton, each a master at their craft. I strive to write novels that are as gripping and compelling as theirs.

4. Why is it important for you to keep an action-packed plot, and how do you successfully balance this quick pace with the more emotional elements of your series?

My goal is to hook the reader with a rich, woven story that takes them on a journey. For that journey to have an impact, there needs to be an emotional side. “The Price of” trilogy focuses on a small group of characters fighting an almost all-powerful enemy, with life-and-death stakes. That requires action, and a lot of it. But without characters the reader cares about, it loses its impact and readers’ interest. I’ve spent nearly a year per novel planning out that part of the story, so that all aspects—the action, the emotional elements, the characters’ motivations and struggles, the themes, etc—are balanced, making each novel as powerful as possible.

5. What’s next for you? Can you give us a hint as to how the story might progress in the final installment of the trilogy?

I ended “The Price of Rebellion” with what Kirkus Reviews called “a tantalizing cliffhanger that sets up the series perfectly for an explosive and potentially satisfying conclusion.” However, I’ve left clues within “The Price of Rebellion” that give Dray and his daughter a way to fight back, find hope, and gather the tools and tech they will need for one final, desperate battle. They will have to sacrifice everything in order to have a chance at prevailing.

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