Thursday, March 26, 2015

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Jennifer Oneal Gunn


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Hi, Jennifer.  Welcome to The Gal.  Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Jennifer Oneal Gunn:
Hello, my name is Jennifer Oneal Gunn.  (This is my full given name as well as my author name.)  My friends call me Jen.  I am an author, poet, editor, formatter, and cover artist.  Recently, I drew the illustrations for my children's book, Squishy Face & the Moon.  I am also the mother of two children.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Tell us five things about you that most people don't know?

Jennifer Oneal Gunn:
  1. Spiders freak me out!
  2. I love cake even though it no longer loves me.
  3. I have a back list I wish I had time to get out for readers.
  4. I started writing my first shelved novel (that will probably never see daylight) when I was fourteen and it's a romance.
  5. I'm not a very public person.
The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is the first book you remember reading?

Jennifer Oneal Gunn:
Hmmm, that would have been a long time ago.  I remember reading Charlotte's Web in grade school, but I've always loved reading, so I'm sure there were plenty of stories before that.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What made you decide to begin writing?

Jennifer Oneal Gunn:
I lived for the longest time with a vivid imagination, got in trouble for day dreaming, and had conversations with characters that weren't actually there for most of my life.  I wrote poetry and bits of songs for as long as I can remember, then as I got older, I tried my hand at writing books.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Jennifer Oneal Gunn:
Absolutely.  I have a play list for every novel, series, or story I think will turn into a novel (or planned novel) that I've written.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have a special place you like to write?

Jennifer Oneal Gunn:
At my desk in my room, away from the chatter of people, in the middle of the night.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Jennifer Oneal Gunn:
Revising is more challenging to me than the first draft.  A first draft is sloppy, for me it has my own stage directions in it and I have to try to fill in those gaps.  When I revise, I have to think of how to fill those in.  Sometimes we write ourselves into a corner and have to go back and retrace our steps.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you think makes a good story?

Jennifer Oneal Gunn:
A decent plot with a few twists and surprises always makes me want to read more.  Anything that is designed to hook a reader, make them want more, that is a good story.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What book(s) have most influenced you?

Jennifer Oneal Gunn:
I write in many different genres so that's hard to pinpoint.  I would say everything I've read from autobiographies for book reports as a child to hardcore horror through my adulthood.  I like a varied spectrum of books.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What inspires you most?

Jennifer Oneal Gunn:
I think that depends on the story you're trying to write, where the inspiration comes from.  I've been inspired by little things, I've also been inspired by hurtful and catastrophic things.  I think we as writers take a lot from life and use that as a basis for some of our work, without telling the true 'who, what, where, when, and how' of a given situation.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Where do the ideas for your book come from?

Jennifer Oneal Gunn:
My children's book was an idea I got as a story to write for my daughter who was seven at the time.  She came up with the names of the characters and I came up with the plot because I thought it would be a cute book.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Which of your characters do you think is the most like you?

Jennifer Oneal Gunn:
A lot of my lead characters are, of course, some form of me.  In Squishy Face, Big Mama is my motherly side, talking to and teaching my daughter.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What have you learned creating this book?

Jennifer Oneal Gunn:
Prior to publishing this book, I didn't know I was able to draw the drawings for it.  I didn't have the confidence to do so, so it sat on my virtual shelf for two years.  I've been drawing for as long as I've been writing, but I've never felt confident in my art, until one day, I showed someone one of my drawings and they persuaded me to try.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you think your readers will take away from this book?

Jennifer Oneal Gunn:
Hopefully, the readers will take away some time spent with their kids.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes your book different than others that fall under this genre?

Jennifer Oneal Gunn:
Really, the purpose of my children's book was to fulfill a couple of goals, to teach children in a simple manner and for parents to be able to do this is in a non-evasive way that is fun for both parties involved.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's in your 'trunk'?

Jennifer Oneal Gunn:
Well, as I've said, I have a back list, which includes a dark fantasy book, the second and third book in a five book paranormal romance series, the fourth and fifth book in that series which are still in WIP status, a fanfiction sort novel I want to put out either by Halloween 2015 or 2016, and I have a few short story ideas I would love to explore further when I have the time.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What can we expect from you in the future?

Jennifer Oneal Gunn:
They call me the Mistress of the Macabre, of course, this means more of the stuff I'm actually known for, which is the darker stuff.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Thanks for stopping by, Jennifer.  It's been great having you.  One more thing before you go.  Where can we find you?

Jennifer Oneal Gunn:
Thank you for having me!



About the book:
Squishy face is a little girl in a big world, which often frightens her.  Luckily, she has Big Mama to guide her and show her the way.  In this book, Big Mama teaches little Squishy Face about the moon.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

AMONG THE STACKS: Brett Garcia Rose


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Hi, Brett.  Welcome to The Gal.  It's great to have you here.  Tell us a bit about yourself.

Brett Garcia Rose:
I'm a software designer by trade, as well as a former journalist.  I've been writing and publishing short stories in magazines around the world for several years.  I currently live in Florida, but I move quite often.  Noise is my first novel.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are five things most people don't know about you?

Brett Garcia Rose:
I used to have a very bad stutter.  I worked in the animal rights movement for over 10 years.  I have never renewed a lease in my life.  I was the youngest person to ever publish a column in the Sunday Newsday Magazine (3 times).  I fall in love ridiculously fast.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is the first book you remember reading?

Brett Garcia Rose:
The Little Prince

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are you reading now?

Brett Garcia Rose:
The 2014 Lascaux Prize Anthology (I have two stories there)

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What made you decide you want to write?  When did you begin writing?

Brett Garcia Rose:
I began writing in college, out of loneliness.  My stutter made it very difficult to make friends, so after my first year I decided to leave.  The morning I was leaving, I left a letter to the editor of my college newspaper, sort of saying goodbye to the people I'd never known.  I'd go on to 5 more colleges after that, writing for school and local newspapers, literary magazines, and other publications.  Each time people began to know who I was, I'd change schools and start over.  Story of my life.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have a special place you like to write?

Brett Garcia Rose:
I can write anywhere as long as it's quiet.  I'd prefer outside by the water, but it's really not important to me.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Brett Garcia Rose:
No quirks, processes, or tricks.  I'm a very simple person, and I write the way I live.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Where do the ideas for your books come from?

Brett Garcia Rose:
I wish I had a better answer for this, as all writers likely do, but the truth is that I have no idea.  A sentence just pops into my head, and from there it's like unraveling a ball of string.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What books have most inspired you?

Brett Garcia Rose:
The Road.  Fight Club.  Bright Lights, Big City.  Leaving Las Vegas.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Brett Garcia Rose:
I thoroughly dislike the physical process of writing.  Computers, typing, formatting, grammar, I find it all very unpleasant.  I am always writing in my mind, it's a constant stream of mainly unusable gibberish, but it's challenging to actually sit down and use the tools I have to nail it onto paper.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you think makes a good story?

Brett Garcia Rose:
I think the combination of pacing and emotion makes for the strongest stories, because it is most similar to life.  Hurtling through a dangerous world while your heart is breaking, dreams are failing, every day a reset requiring you to start all over again.  A good story is like crying on a windy day, a balance of opposing forces.  I also think brevity of prose is extremely important.  This is where many writers fail, but my most worn-out key is the DELETE button.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

Brett Garcia Rose:
A combination of Leon, from Noise, and the painter in Losing Found Things.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Why did you pick your particular genre?

Brett Garcia Rose:
I didn't chose to write thrillers or mysteries - I always saw myself as a literary writer, since my short stories are very much in that genre.  But this is how my books are turning out.  I'd like to call them literary thrillers, but such a distinction doesn't really exist.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes your book different from others out there in this genre?

Brett Garcia Rose:
I think the most important part of Noise is that the main character is deaf, and it's set in one of the noisiest places in the world.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is in your 'trunk'?

Brett Garcia Rose:
There is nothing in my trunk.  I have no secret desires or cravings for the future.  Whatever I want to do in life, I've either already done it, or am doing it right now.  I never think about things I don't have.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What can we expect from you in the future?

Brett Garcia Rose:
More books, of course!

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Thanks for stopping by, Brett.  It's been great having you - and learning more about the guy behind the book.  
            One more thing before you go: Where can we find you?

Brett Garcia Rose:

About the book:
Noise, by Brett Garcia Rose, is a thriller/mystery centering on a deaf character's search for his missing sister.  It's short, violent, but ultimately it's about love.  Noise was published in June 2014 and is available for sale on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

The world is an ugly place, and I can tell you now, I fit in just fine.
            Lily is the only person Leon ever loved.  When she left a suicide note and disappeared into a murky lake ten years ago, she left him alone, drifting through a silent landscape.
            Or did she?
            A postcard in her handwriting pulls Leon to the winter-cold concrete heart of New York City.  What he discovers unleashes a deadly rage that has no sound.
            A grisly trail of clues leads to The Bear, the sadistic Russian crime lord who traffics in human flesh.  The police - some corrupt, some merely compromised - are of little help.  They don't like Leon's methods, or the mess he leaves in his wake.
            Leon is deaf, but no sane person would ever call him disabled.  He survived as a child on the merciless streets of Nigeria.  He misses nothing.  He feels no remorse.  The only direction he's ever known is forward.
            He will not stop until he knows.
            Where is Lily?

BOOK SPOTLIGHT + EXCERPT: Noise


Noise: A Novel
Brett Garcia Rose

Genre: Thriller, Crime, Mystery, Vigilante Justice
Publisher: Velocity Imprints
Publication date: 6.12.2014
Pages: 147

Noise, by Brett Garcia Rose, is a thriller/mystery centering on a deaf character's search for his missing sister.  It's a short, violent, but ultimately it's about love.  Noise was published in June 2014 and is available for sale on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

The world is an ugly place, and I can tell you now, I fit in just fine.
            Lily is the only person Leon ever loved.  When she left a suicide note and disappeared into a murky lake ten years ago, she left him alone, drifting through a silent landscape.
            Or did she?
            A postcard in her handwriting pulls Leon to the winter-cold concrete heart of New York City.  What he discovers unleashes a deadly rage that has no sound.
            A grisly trail of clues leads to The Bear, the sadistic Russian crime lord who traffics in human flesh.  The police - some corrupt, some merely compromised - are of little help.  They don't like Leon's methods, or the mess he leaves in his wake.
            Leon is deaf, but no sane person would ever call him disabled.  He survived as a child on the merciless streets of Nigeria.  He misses nothing.  He feels no remorse.  The only direction he's ever known is forward.
            He will not stop until he knows.
            Where is Lily?



Twenty-Eight
The sounds I cannot hear: The whistle of the hammer as it arcs through the air.  The wailing of pain and the begging of The Bear.  The dripping of blood from thawing meat onto the wet concrete floor.  The beautiful crude threats.
            My own hideous voice.
            I drag The Bear into a walk-in freezer by the hook sunk through his shoulder and toss him into a corner on the floor.  When I renter the freezer, dragging the oak table behind me, The Bear is hard at work on the hook, trying to muscle it out, but it's sunk deep, through the tendons.  Hope is adrenaline, fear masks pain, begging helps no one.
            I yank him up by the hook and then hold his hands outstretched, one at a time, as I nail his wrists to the table with railroad spikes.  I put all of my 240 pounds behind the hammer, but even so, it takes several swings.  His body shakes, the nails sink further into the wood, his face is pain.  He screams, but I cannot hear.
            The building above burns a deep blue hue with my smuggled-in accelerants.
            The sound of the hammer into The Bear.  The pain in his eyes.  I have never seen so much hatred.  It is beautiful to me, to reach this center, this uncomplicated base, to disassemble the past and honor a new history.  It is another film, also homemade and rough, an overlay, an epilogue.  The Bear is broken but I have spared his face, and to see those eyes, that is what I needed; to see his hatred flow into me, my own eyes sucking down the scum like bathtub drains.  His life whirls into me and I taste the fear, the hope, the sharp sting of adrenaline pumping and the reeking muck of despair.  His pain soothes me, a slow, thick poison.  We will all die.
            I know it now; I am a broken man.  I always was.  I imagine Lily watching me, Lily keeping score, making lists, balancing all.  As a child from far away, she was the queen, even more so than her mother.  But she didn't survive.  The world was not as we had imagined, not even close.  The world is a cruel, bastard place, Lily cold and lost somewhere, me hot and bleeding and swinging my hammer.  Life as it is, not as we wish it to be.
            The sounds I cannot hear: The laughter of the watchers.  The groan of my sister as The Bear cubs inside of her, pulling her hair until the roots bleed.  The Bear screams and shits himself in the dark freezer.  Lily's wailing and cursing and crying.  I scream at The Bear with all my might, damaged voice, swinging the hammer at his ruined hands, hands that will never again touch anyone.  Lily at the end, beaten and pissed on and begging to die.
            Lily is dead.  I am dead.  It will never be enough.
            I remove the stack of photos from my wallet that I'd printed at the internet cafe a lifetime ago and place them face down on the table in front of The Bear.  I draw an X on the back of the first photo and turn it over, laying it close to the pulp of his ruined hands.
            The Bear offers me anything I want.  An animal can feel pain but cannot describe or transmit it adequately.  The Bear both is and is not an animal.  I lack hearing, so The Bear cannot transmit his experience to me unless I choose to see it.  His pain is not my pain, but mine is very much his.  I swing the hammer into his unhooked shoulder, and then I draw another X and flip another photo.
            His lips move, and I understand what he wants to know.  Five photos.
            In my notepad, I write: you are a rapist fucking pig.  I put the paper into the gristle of his hands and swing the hammer against the metal hook again.  It's a sound I can feel.
            Anything, The Bear mouths.  He is sweating in the cold air of the freezer.  Crying.  Bleeding.
            In my pad, I write: I want my sister back.  I swing the hammer claw-side first into his mouth and leave it there.  His body shakes and twitches.
            I turn over his photo and write one last note, tearing it off slowly and holding it in front of his face, the handle of the hammer protruding from his jaw like a tusk.  You are number four.  There are a few seconds of space as the information stirs into him and I watch as he deflates, the skin on his face sagging like a used condom.  He knows what I know.
            I turn over the last photo of him.  I turn it slowly and carefully, sliding it toward him.  Victor, his one good son, his outside accomplishment, his college boy, the one who tried to fuck him and then fucked my sister instead.
            I remove another mason jar from my bag, unscrewing the metal top and letting the thick fluid flow onto his lap.  I wipe my hands carefully and light a kitchen match, holding it in front of his face for a few seconds as it catches fully.  He doesn't try to blow it out.  He doesn't beg me to stop.  He just stares at the match as the flame catches, and I drop it into his lap.
            The Bear shakes so hard from the pain that one of his arms rips from the table, leaving a skewer of meat and tendon on the metal spike.  I lean into his ear, taking in his sweet reek and the rot of his bowels and, in my own hideous voice, I say:
            "Wait for me."


About the author:
Brett Garcia Rose is a writer, software entrepreneur, and former animal rights soldier and stutterer.  He is the author of two books, Noise and Losing Found Things, and his work has been published in Sunday Newsday Magazine, The Barcelona Review, Opium, Rose and Thorn, The Battered Suitcase, Fiction Attic, Paraphilia and other literary magazines and anthologies.  His short stories have won the Fiction Attic's Short Memoir Award (Second Place), Opium's Bookmark Competition, The Lascaux Prize for Short Fiction, and have been nominated for the Million Writer's Award, Best of the Net and The Pushcart Prize.  Rose travels extensively, but calls New York City Home.  

AMONG THE STACKS: Elle Boca


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Hi, Elle.  Thank you so much for being on The Gal today.  The fifth book in your series is out today and I am sure you are super excited - good luck :)  Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Elle Boca:
I'm the author of the Miami Weeia urban fantasy series about superhuman.  Growing up the only child of a monkey mother and a rabbit father, I learned to keep myself entertained and spend time reading.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are five things most people don't know about you?

Elle Boca:
I'm a fan of cookies, cakes and chocolates.
I love nature.
I enjoy photography.
Sunrises are my favorite time of day.
Rainy days inspire me.
Can you tell I love nature?

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is the first book you remember reading?

Elle Boca:
Any Geek tragedies I got my hands on.  Don't remember before that.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are you reading now?

Elle Boca:
I just finished Runaway Smile.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What made you decide you want to write?  When did you begin writing?

Elle Boca:
I've written for many years.  Two or three years ago, Amy, the main character in my series asked me to tell her story.  I stopped the book draft I was writing and began the Weeia Series.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have a special place you like to write?

Elle Boca:
I know it's kind of boring, but it's my desk.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Elle Boca:
Nothing extraordinary I don't think.  Does counting sheep count?

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Where do the ideas for your books come from?

Elle Boca:
They're a blend of my imagination and real world events and news.  For example, I mentioned manatees, an endangered marine mammal, in one of the books, and featured a human slavery story in book two of my series after I noticed Florida is one of the top states in human trafficking nationwide.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What books have most inspired you?

Elle Boca:
The ones I've read most recently added to all the other ones before them.  Each book leaves a trace.  A while back I read lots of Robert Ludlum.  I also liked to visit Africa via Wilbur Smith's stories.  When I discovered urban fantasy I became fascinated.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Elle Boca:
Editing, editing, editing, proofing, proofing, and proofing, oh and editing some more.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you think makes a good story?

Elle Boca:
Interesting characters, their interactions, and the drama that results all within a good story (and an interesting setting for urban fantasy).  Then you mix well or stir and voila.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

Elle Boca:
That's a tough question ... None of them and all of them, I don't know.  I'm too close to them.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Why did you pick your particular genre?

Elle Boca:
Because I enjoy reading urban fantasy books.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

Elle Boca:
This series is about superhuman superheroes, individuals who while human-like in most ways stand out in one or more extraordinary abilities.  The main characters of the series go out of their way to save, help, rescue others, human and superhuman alike, even at the risk of their own well being.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is in your 'trunk'?

Elle Boca:
A mystery I started before the series and haven't found the time to finish.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What can we expect from you in the future?

Elle Boca:
I'm working on another Weeia series about superhumans.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
It's been great having you here, Elle.  One more thing before you go: Where can we find you?

Elle Boca:

SERIES SPOTLIGHT: Weeia Series

Weeia 1: Unelmoija 1:
The Dreamshifter
Elle Boca

Genre: Fantasy, Superhero, Urban, Miami
Publisher: Poyeen Publishing
Publication date: 11.24.2013
Pages: 208

Ready for a new kind of urban fantasy?  In Unelmoija: The Dreamshifter, a pretty yet ordinary young woman's life is transformed beyond her imaginings when a traumatic incident changes her forever.  An unexpected encounter with the father she never knew and a mysterious man that repels and attracts her at the same time leads her to discover she's not who she thinks she is.  Amy, unassuming, intelligent, with newly acquired superhuman skills, lives in a historic Miami waterfront estate.  She's about to discover that a safe location, youth and special abilities may not be enough to protect her from whoever wants her dead.


Weeia 2: Unelmoija 2:
The Mindshifter
Elle Boca

Genre: Fantasy, Superhero, Urban, Miami
Publisher: Poyeen Publishing
Publication date: 2.21.2014
Pages: 251

As college friends Amy, Krissa and Lilly head to South Beach for a girls' weekend, they have no idea of the evil that lurks in plain sight.  When Lilly goes missing, Amy and Krissa discover they're the only ones that might be able to save her by using Amy's superhuman abilities.  They pick up Lilly's trail only to be swept up in a life and death conflict larger and darker than they imagined.  An unexpected encounter turns the stakes in their favor briefly before they find out the daunting odds they face to fin and rescue Lilly before slavers sell her and she disappears.  To make matters worse, Amy may have broken the Weeia's highest law and used her abilities in front of humans.


Weeia 3: Unelmoija 3:
The Spiritshifter
Elle Boca

Genre: Fantasy, Superhero, Urban, Miami
Publisher: Poyeen Publishing
Publication date: 6.27.2014
Pages: 307

Loi, an amplifier able to help young superhuman Weeia develop their abilities, is found dead of mysterious causes.  Amy, like Loi, may be an amplifier.  If she gets involved she might be next.  Should she risk her life to help Weeia youth unlock their abilities?
            In book three of the Weeia series, Unelmoija: The Spiritshifter, Amy's courage is tested once again.  Her boyfriend Duncan and the Youth for Change leaders want to find out why young Weeia have no abilities.  Should Amy get involved?  Is it the right thing to do? 
            They decide to bring Weeia youth to Miami so Amy can try to amplify their abilities without revealing her identity.  Behind the scenes, powerful forces oppose her.  Will Duncan, her sister Kat and their friends be able to protect her?


Weeia 4: Unelmoija 4:
The Timeshifter
Elle Boca

Genre: Fantasy, Superhero, Urban, Miami
Publisher: Poyeen Publishing
Publication date: 9.19.2014
Pages: 269

Amy's past is catching up with her in a way that could only happen to a Weeia.  She is drifting in her own timeline and must be careful not to change anything or she may never find her way to a familiar present.  Even routine activities like fixing dinner or speedwalking with Duncan are becoming challenging.  Will she and her friends solve the mystery in time for Amy to realize her ultimate destiny?


Weeia 5: Unelmoija 5:
Paradox
Elle Boca

Genre: Fantasy, Superhero, Urban, Miami
Publisher: Poyeen Publishing
Publication date: 3.25.2015
Pages: 289

Amy and her friends uncover the cause of the disappearance of New Lyon, only to face their greatest challenge.  Altering the past could mean the end of all humanity, while doing nothing could have dire consequences for those they love.  Forced to risk everything and choose between the familiar and the unknown, even the Unelmoija may not be strong enough to evade the paradox.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Ken Poirot


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Hi, Ken.  Welcome to The Gal.  Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Ken Poirot:
I am a bit of an enigma as I have so many different interests and I have had many different, seemingly disparate careers.  I have been a scientist, financial professional, and author.  In those capacities, I have also spent time public speaking as it is a necessity with those career choices to learn how to speak in front of a crowd.
            As a scientist I conducted Cancer Research in graduate school and I published a scientific paper.  I also earned a US Patent for my research.
            As a financial professional I spent almost twenty years in the financial services industry with most of that time as a successful manager.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are five things about you that most people do not know.

Ken Poirot:
  1. I am very approachable.  I think most people are surprised when they first meet me that I am just like everyone else.  I have a natural curiosity; I enjoy the company of new people and having fun in life.
  2. I once had an interview with the CIA and I blew the interview before I even entered the interview room.  The interview took place at a hotel here in the Houston area, many, many years go.  It was a group interview and the first question was, "Did anyone go to the front desk and ask for the CIA?"  Well, how was I to know their interview venue was as clandestine as the organization itself?  Yes, I went to the front desk at the hotel and I asked what room the CIA was conducting interviews.  Apparently that was a no-no :)
  3. I pray every night before I go to sleep.
  4. I am very adventurous.  I went swimming with sharks in the Bahamas, spent my honeymoon in the jungle of Belize, and once fled a city in the Ukraine in the middle of the night (as I posted on my Facebook page for my friends, "...you have not lived until you have fled a city in a foreign country where you don't speak the language in the middle of the night.")
  5. I am addicted to chocolate :)
The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is the first book you remember reading?

Ken Poirot:
I don't remember the name of it; I was very, very young.  Apparently, as a toddler, I had a favorite book that I memorized to the point I convinced my family I could read.
            I knew every word along with all the proper page turns; I had everyone in the family believing I could read until one day I held the book upside down (so my mother tells me).  :)  It was a children's book with animals; I can't remember the name of it.  It was my favorite book and it was also the first book I ever read when I could actually read.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What made you decide to begin writing?

Ken Poirot:
I wanted to create something to help as many people as possible.  I found writing a book to be the best medium for this in order to potentially reach the most people.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Ken Poirot:
The quirkiest thing is how I write.  I go through intense periods of writing.  For example, when I wrote "Mentor Me," I wrote for forty hours in three days.  Then I rested for a couple days and wrote for thirty six more hours in a couple more days.  I write when I feel like writing and I put writing away when I am not in the mood.  When I feel like writing I do it with intensity.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have a special place you like to write?

Ken Poirot:
Yes, I write in bed; sometimes sitting up with my legs crossed at my computer and also laying down on my stomach, usually all cozy under a blanket.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Ken Poirot:
When I write, I just let it flow, so I write a lot of material and then go back to adjust it and clean it up.  It is the going back to adjust it and clean it up part that I find most challenging.  This part takes a lot of time and it is very detailed work, picking the right words, changing words, changing punctuation, and cleaning out the redundancy.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you think makes a good story?

Ken Poirot:
Any story you can walk away from and then find yourself thinking about it long afterwards, often with a very personal or profound, lingering meaning...that is what makes a good story for me.  A story that sticks with you that you can't help but ponder about long afterwards.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What book(s) have most influenced you?

Ken Poirot:
I have a special affinity for "Le Petit Prince" by Antoine de Saint-Exupery.  I first read it in French class and I was amazed by the timelessness of this "children's story," as well as its meaning for life and adults.
            There is one part in particular with respect to love and relationships that has always stayed with me.  In summary, it is the section where the little prince finds a garden filled with roses similar in appearance to his rose.  At this moment he realizes, even though his rose is not the only rose in the universe, she is unique to him because he has cared for her and he loves her.  He tells his rose he has tamed her and cared for her, and because of this, now in his eyes she is the only, unique rose in existence.  Isn't that the most perfect and romantic description of true, unconditional love?
            I have carried that with me throughout my life, as far as what love means, and also the responsibility you carry for someone else's heart when you have both "tamed" each other.  I also read this section (in French and translated it for our guests) at my rehearsal dinner the night before my wedding.
            Later in life, I learned Antoine de Saint-Exupery wrote "Le Petite Prince" while on vacation in my hometown community, and literally at the house next door to my first serious girlfriend's home (where I spent a couple years of my life through the time I spent there with her).  So I have a very special connection and affinity for this book; it has greatly influenced me.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What inspires you most?

Ken Poirot:
I find science, travel, people, and the natural world most inspiring.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Where do the ideas for your book come from?

Ken Poirot:
It all comes from my personal and professional experiences.  Also, thinking more about these experiences; specifically, the meaning of those experiences for my life and how these experiences can be conveyed to potentially help others on their journey/path through life.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What have you learned creating this book?

Ken Poirot:
What I have learned is how surprising it is that two people can read the same book and take away completely different ideas.  Everyone who reads the book takes away from it their own personal experience, which is sometimes so divergent from what you thought readers would take away from it.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you think your readers will take away from this book?

Ken Poirot:
My greatest hope is each reader will take away something that will help them in their lives.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes your book different than others that fall under this genre?

Ken Poirot:
Many of the books in the self-help and business genre are very theoretical.  So many of these books are so theoretical they cannot be implemented in the real world.
            In contrast, my book is different in that it is based upon real-world, practical experience, not theory.  The reader can read the book, interact with it, and literally benefit from it immediately without trying to figure out  how to take a theory and somehow make it practical for their lives.  Initial reader feedback is "Mentor Me" is readily applicable to reader's lives directly from its pages as they read.
            I will also say, although this is a very practical, easy-to-read, and easy-to-implement self-help and business book, there are many deep themes and levels in this book a reader who just reads through it superficially will miss:

There are a plethora of themes (stated and unstated) embedded in this book on a more profound level; most readers will only pick up on this depth with a  second read, because they are expecting a typical, superficial "self-help and business book."

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's in your trunk?

Ken Poirot:
I recently mapped out an outline for a simple (and this one is simple without all the complex themes of "Mentor Me") leadership/management model based upon thinking about what made me a successful manager.  I can now relay this to people in an easy to remember way by wiring a short book about it.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What can we expect from you in the future?

Ken Poirot:
It is hard to say what the future may bring.  I would certainly like to put aside more time for travel.  I have also contemplated writing a book about investing for the everyday person based upon my experiences as a financial professional.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Thanks for stopping by, Ken.  It's been great having you.  I learned a lot from your book and I wish you all the luck in the world with it. :)
            One more thing before you go: Where can we find you?

Ken Poirot:



About the book:
Happiness.  Success.  Motivation.  Influence.  Inspiration.
            Groundbreaking Practical Self-Help, Mentoring, Coaching, Personal Success, Business Guide.
            We all want to have success and happiness in every area of our lives, as well as be a positive influence and inspiration to other people.  But too often, we get lost in our resolutions to do just that, having no idea where to start or how to get there.
            This book is the perfect guide!  Fun, Concise, Succinct, Proven, and Filled with Wisdom!  Successful mentor and coach Ken Poirot provides answers and walks you through in this groundbreaking book, Mentor Me: GA=T+E - A Formula to Fulfill Your Greatest Achievement!  Finally a Real-World Practical Self-Help, Mentoring, Coaching, Personal Success, Business Book!

In Mentor Me, you will discover:
- How to formulate a plan to achieve your dreams
- Your personality style and how it relates to the personality style of other people
- How to most effectively learn new information, motivate yourself, and others
- The two most powerful words in the English language and how to put them to work for you
- The best - and most effective - way to handle any conflict in life
- And so much more...

Mentor Me delivers what other books only promise: real-world strategies, techniques, and information that provides effective, tested, and proven results!
            Easy-to-implement directives and personal life illustrations combine to provide readers with the pathway to success they have only previously dreamed about.
            There are also some fun "smile" moments included along the way...
            Begin reading and following the plan found in Mentor Me today and step-by-step, you will transform your life!

REVIEW: Mentor Me


Mentor Me: GA=T+E
A Formula to Fulfill 
Your Greatest Achievements
Ken Poirot

Genre: Personal Transformation, Personal Growth
Publication date: 5.2.2014
Pages: 160

Recommended by: Worldwind Virtual Book Tours, Read 2 Review
Date read: 3.21.2015


For anyone who follows my reviews, my obsession with self-help books is not really a secret, but I'll share it again here: I have this thing about personal growth and read a lot of self help books.  Now, I know what you're thinking - so many of them are all the same.  That's true, but there are a lot of them that are different, or at the very least share things in a different way.

I think this book falls under the latter.  I found this book to be very motivational - not only does it tell you what you can do to transform your life and the steps you need to take, but it gives you activities to do, encourages you to do them, and each activity empowers you.  I actually felt like Ken was standing there, tapping his foot with his arms crossed over his chest, waiting for me to do what he told me to do.  And I'm thankful for that.  Sometimes you need a gentle push, other times you need a shove ... and he's there when both are needed.  

I read the book through in it's entirety, highlighting some interesting things along the way, then came back and did half of the activities so far and I have to say - I feel better for it.  This is a self help book that I suggest others read.


"I have found we can learn something from just about anyone, if
we approach others with an open mind, take the time to get to
know them, seek out, and listen to what they can teach us."


About the book:
Happiness.  Success.  Motivation.  Influence.  Inspiration.
            Groundbreaking Practical Self-Help, Mentoring, Coaching, Personal Success, Business Guide.
            We all want to have success and happiness in every area of our lives, as well as be a positive influence and inspiration to other people.  But too often, we get lost in our resolutions to do just that, having no idea where to start or how to get there.
            This book is the perfect guide!  Fun, Concise, Succinct, Proven, and Filled with Wisdom!  Successful mentor and coach Ken Poirot provides answers and walks you through in this groundbreaking book, Mentor Me: GA=T+E - A Formula to Fulfill Your Greatest Achievement!  Finally a Real-World Practical Self-Help, Mentoring, Coaching, Personal Success, Business Book!

In Mentor Me, you will discover:
- How to formulate a plan to achieve your dreams
- Your personality style and how it relates to the personality style of other people
- How to most effectively learn new information, motivate yourself, and others
- The two most powerful words in the English language and how to put them to work for you
- The best - and most effective - way to handle any conflict in life
- And so much more...

Mentor Me delivers what other books only promise: real-world strategies, techniques, and information that provides effective, tested, and proven results!
            Easy-to-implement directives and personal life illustrations combine to provide readers with the pathway to success they have only previously dreamed about.
            There are also some fun "smile" moments included along the way...
            Begin reading and following the plan found in Mentor Me today and step-by-step, you will transform your life!


About the author:
Ken Poirot grew up on Long Island, New York in the quaint village of Northport.  After graduating from Cornell University with a BS in Microbiology, he moved to Houston, Texas to pursue his PhD studies in Cancer Research at MD Anderson Cancer Center through the UT Health Science Center.  Upon receiving a US Patent for his research, Lipid Complexed Topoisomerase I Inhibitors, he left graduate school for a career in financial services.
            Over the last two decades, he worked for many of the top financial services firms - some better known New York Stock Exchange-listed companies like American Express, Charles Schwab, Merrill Lynch (now part of Bank of America), JP Morgan Chase, as well as some smaller New York Stock Exchange-listed companies like Cullen/Frost Bankers (NYSE:CFR) and Guaranty Bank (now part of BBVA, NYSE:BBVA).
            As the Senior Vice President and Sales Manager for Frost Investment Services, the brokerage division of Frost Bank (NYSE:CFR), he led his department to four consecutive years of double-digit revenue growth, increasing revenue by over 83% while substantially increasing the profit margin from approximately 27% to 37%.  During this same time period, his financial advisors increased their individual production from an average of less than $25,000 in revenue per month to over $41,000.  He achieved similar results at various other firms, including Guaranty Bank and JP Morgan Chase, consistently increasing the sales of his territories/producers by double-digits as a regional manager and personal/professional coach.