Monthly Archives: January 2017

First Chapter Reveal: I Angus (The Eternity Series Book 4) by Mike Hartner

i-angus

Title: I, Angus
Author: Mike Hartner
Publisher: Eternity 4 Popsicle Publishing
Pages: 260
Genre: Historical Fiction

During a time of civil strife and purging the North has lost more men to Wars then it ever did to Nature.

Angus has grown up learning that his life is better off with only him and a family. But is that really in the Grand Plan.

The North needs someone to build community.

But first, Angus needs to be forged… beaten, shaped, bolded and trained.

Watch as Angus hits both lows and highs across the lands of England, Scotland and France, before meeting a challenge of new land.

For More Information

Chapter One

It is a few days before my fifteenth birthday, and I have been scrubbing the castle floors all morning. I stand and the wind blows hard in my face, moving my reddish-orange hair from in front of my hazel eyes as I stretch my 5-foot 7-inch frame and look out the window.

The sky is dark and gloomy, but I can’t smell the rain yet, so I know a long time will pass before it pours down on our shire in North Scotland. In the far distance, I observe something moving toward our castle. It’s not long before I recognize my da’s charger. I can see others giving chase, although they’re quite a ways back. I run to open the gate and lower the drawbridge. I yell for my sister Janet to help me, because cranking it upright in a hurry is no small chore for one person.

The drawbridge has just been lowered when the hooves of Da’s horse, Spirit, come galloping across it. My sis does her part, and we quickly raise the bridge and race to the stallion and its rider. We arrive to hear the sound of arrows hitting the drawbridge and men yelling imprecations.

The heavily lathered stallion stands impatiently. On the horse’s back is its owner, Sir Donald Mackenzie, my da’. He is doubled forward, holding on to the mane, with an arrow in his upper left shoulder and another sticking out from his right calf. He wears a blue bonnet, along with a plaid kilt depicting our family’s lineage. A true archer, Da’s bow dangles on his back, diagonally between his shoulders.

The men on horseback, of which there are four, think better of trying to ford our moat, and they ride off. Lucky for us they don’t know that at that moment we are alone in the castle. Sis and I remove Da’ from the horse, and supporting our father between us we hurry him to his bed, where she begins ministering to his wounds.

I wonder what has caused this terrible event? My father had left several days ago with my much younger sister, Alice, to take her to a neighboring laird who had offered to have her schooled. I had watched my da’ the night before give Alice a family heirloom. It wasn’t much, but it was a locket that his great-grandmother had passed down to my grandmother who had passed it down to my mother, who was no longer with us. I remember Da’s telling us once that the tiny case had been given to our family on the occasion of an aunt’s marriage into the Clan MacDonald. I’d seen the engraving it held: two shields together, with their crests, one on the front, one on the back. And I recall Alice’s telling him, as he fastened it to her neck, that she’d forever wear it proudly.

I’d learned, however, not to believe much of what Alice said of late, as she was always coming up with whatever she thought would gain her purchase. But Alice was the oldest daughter—now eleven while Janet, who is every bit as tall as her and twice as strong, is but nine—so the keepsake rightfully should go to her.

Da’ was onto her though, and I think he’d worked out something with Laird MacLaren to see that she learned manners and honor as much as anything. Aye, but I also thought it might do her good to get set down a peg, as the MacLarens were wealthy landowners and not to be trifled with. It crossed my mind as well that Da’ hoped she might find a man of some stature someday who’d marry her, which would solve all the problems with Alice’s odd ways, as she never seemed happy with what Da’ provided for her. No matter, she would be schooled, and if nothing else she’d see other girls her age and how they acted. She would come back a better person—if she chose to return at all, which I highly doubted.

Da’s ride should have been a day out and a day back, with a day in-between to enjoy the hospitality of the laird. You see, this is the North of Scotland, and all of our families know each other, and no one just comes and goes, even if they are not related.

My da’ is hurt bad, and even with Janet and me by his side, the conditions are grim, as there is only so much we can do. I bring him food when sis has it ready, but I take it away when it isn’t touched four hours later. All he can do is let out an occasional groan

About the Author

mike-hartner

Mike Hartner was born in Miami in 1965. He’s traveled much of the continental United States. He has several years post secondary education, and experience teaching and tutoring young adults. Hartner has owned and run a computer firm for more than twenty-five years. He now lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, with his wife and child. They share the neighborhood and their son with his maternal grandparents.

Mike’s latest book is I, Angus (The Eternity Series Book 4).

For More Information

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Talking Books with Howard Jay Smith, author of ‘Beethoven In Love; Opus 139

howard-j-smith-3Howard Jay Smith is an award-winning writer from Santa Barbara, California. BEETHOVEN IN LOVE; OPUS 139 is his third book. A former Washington, D.C. Commission for the Arts Fellow, & Bread Loaf Writers Conference Scholar, he taught for many years in the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and has lectured nationally. His short stories, articles and photographs have appeared in the Washington Post, Horizon Magazine, the Journal of the Writers Guild of America, the Ojai Quarterly, and numerous literary and trade publications. While an executive at ABC Television, Embassy TV, and Academy Home Entertainment, he worked on numerous film, television, radio, and commercial projects. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Santa Barbara Symphony – “The Best Small City Symphony in America” –  and is a member of the American Beethoven Society.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK

INTERVIEW BOOK CIRCLE ONLINE AT YOUTUBE

INTERVIEW BLOGTALK RADIO

About the Book:

At the moment of his death, Ludwig van Beethoven pleads with Providence to grant him a final wish—one day, just a single day of pure joy. But first he must confront the many failings in his life, so the great composer and exceedingly complex man begins an odyssey into the netherworld of his past life led by a spirit guide who certainly seems to be Napoleon, who died six years before. This beethoven-in-loveghost of the former emperor, whom the historical Beethoven both revered and despised, struggles to compel the composer to confront the ugliness as well as the beauty and accomplishments of his past.

As Beethoven ultimately faces the realities of his just-ended life, we encounter the women who loved and inspired him. In their own voices, we discover their Beethoven—a lover with whom they savor the profound beauty and passion of his creations. And it’s in the arms of his beloveds that he comes to terms with the meaning of his life and experiences the moment of true joy he has always sought.

Purchase Information:

Amazon

What made you decide to become a published author?

I had always wanted to be a working writer and was fortunate enough to be able to publish magazine articles, short stories and a book on my mentor, the novelist John Gardner, not long after finishing graduate school. My early works earned for me several scholarships to Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference as well as three Washington, D.C. Endowment for the Arts Fellowships – but none of this was enough to earn a living.  A few years later I moved to Hollywood, attended the American Film Institute as a Screenwriting Fellow and spent the next fifteen years working, writing and producing there.  I also taught both screenwriting and the craft of short story writing at UCLA.  Those classes became the basis for my second book, “Opening the Doors to Hollywood,” published by Random House.  “Beethoven in Love; Opus 139” a novel, just came out this year but has its roots in a work I was drafting back then.

Would you consider your latest book, “Beethoven in Love; Opus 139” to be a one of a kind?  How so?

As one of the character says in the course of the story, What is a novel, but a collection of lies we tell to reveal greater truths.”  “Beethoven in Love; Opus 139” strives to be a solidly crafted work of literary and historical fiction that is at once a page-turner that pulls the reader ever forward while revealing a factually accurate portrait of Beethoven, the man, and the women in his life.  It is the product of two years of solid research that incorporated the details from over a dozen biographies, original source materials, the composer’s own diaries, and six volumes of letters to and from Beethoven, into a work of fiction in a manner that has never been done before. So, yes, in that regard it is unique.  As one critic, Douglas Dutton, Professor of Music, at the Colburn School of Performing, wrote:  “Do we really need another book about Beethoven? A resounding ‘Yes!’ if it is Howard Jay Smith’s, Beethoven in Love; Opus 139. Smith’s novel abandons the assumed and fabricated ‘truths’ of the Beethoven life. This is a Beethoven of the imagination: irascible, argumentative, difficult, and yet passionate and tender. Smith treats Beethoven like the human he was, augments the faults, diminishes the virtues, and the resultant humanity only serves to create an even larger larger-than-life hero.”

Where is your writing sanctuary?

Anywhere I can sit with my laptop and look out the window at my gardens.

What inspires you?

Great stories of historical figures where my potential protagonist must wrestle with the type of profound emotional or psychological issues that every one of us can relate to in our own lives.

What is one thing you learned about your book after it was published?

To answer this one, I have to make a slight detour back to when I first started my Beethoven research.  My mentors from my early days as a writer where novelists, such as John Irving, Toni Morrison, Tim O’Brien and the late John Gardner, whose works have all won a National Book Award or some similar honor. My original intention had been to read a biography or two about Beethoven and then create a totally fictional story.  No sooner than halfway through my first biography I realized that we know an enormous amount about Beethoven and that it would be completely inappropriate to simply make something up.  To create a novel that was both a great read and historical consistent with the known facts was going to take an enormous amount of work.  It was a matter of jumping all in or not at all.  And if I was going to make the commitment to do this book properly and devote the year’s necessary to pull it off, I had to also commit to myself that I would not move forward unless I could write it at a level of quality that my mentors would have respected.

My first public reading after publication – and I have done many since – was for the American Beethoven Society at their Thirtieth Anniversary Symposium.  There I was reading a work of fiction to an assembled crowd of Beethoven experts – and they loved it!  The reviews forthcoming from critics in the literary world, the music world and every day readers since then have been similar to this one on Good*Reads:

Five Stars. “This Book is an Absolute Masterpiece. There aren’t a lot of times that we get a book to read where the author lets the reader get a good look at the heart and soul of a genius. We all know some of this amazing person, Ludwig Van Beethoven, but we haven’t had the inside look at what life has dealt him and his trials and struggles. We all have those demons that haunt us, but we don’t stop and think that someone as brilliant as Beethoven would have them too. The author not only shows us the man but how this man saw the world around him. I never knew that Beethoven had love in his life. Beethoven was a complicated man and took his music to a level few will ever achieve, if any ever do. Everyone should sit down and seriously read this book. It doesn’t matter if you’re a lover of music, romance, history, the man himself, it’s a good novel and it shouldn’t be by-passed. The pace is steady so you have time to take it all in. Remember, you’re seeing things about a musical master that you may never have known. Everyone, genius or not, must come to grips of what our life is, what it means and where it’s going.”

Why do you love to write fiction?

When writing we create a vivid and continuous dream in a reader’s mind that is so powerful and all-encompassing that they next thing that reader knows is that someone is calling him or her to dinner.  I love being the architect of that dream, I love creating that world that my characters inhabit, struggle through and in some small way emerge victorious.

You’re concocting a recipe for a best selling book.  What’s the first ingredient?

Sex is first, celebrity second, food third.  My all-time favorite title for a best seller would be “The Kennedy Sex Diet.”

What’s one fun fact about your book people should know?

Everyone knows some of the common facts of Beethoven’s life and his music, but almost no one knew that he was a voracious reader of philosophic texts from around the world.  He was profoundly influenced by those works, such as the Hindu sacred text, the Bhagavad Gita, whose themes worked their way into his Ninth’s Symphony’s Ode to Joy.

Did any real life experiences find their way into your book?

Yes, absolutely but in unexpected ways. When researching Napoleon and his influence on Beethoven’s life, I discovered that during his infamous retreat from Moscow when he lost over five-hundred thousand of his men, to combat, disease, and the brutal winter of 1812, he passed through my maternal grand-mother’s village in what is now Belarus. In the tiny village of Smorgonie he passed control of his army to his second in command and raced back to Paris by sled in a then record time of two weeks.

I had never even seen the name “Smorgonie,” in print before.  There were only a thousand people in that village.  Finding that this great tidal wave of history had passed through my family’s home, I instantly knew that I would incorporate four true life stories from our own history into the novel.

Aside from writing, what’s your passion?

Though not a musician, I have had a lifelong love of music — classical, blues and rock.  I am on the Board of Directors of the Santa Barbara Symphony – “The Best Small City Orchestra in America,” – and take great delight being a cheerleader and fundraiser for this astonishing group of musicians.

What’s next for you?

I am sticking with great music and personalities from the Classical Era.  Next up is “Mozart, Da Ponte, Scandal,” a novel about the life and times of Lorenzo Da Ponte, the librettist for Mozart’s three greatest operas, “Don Giovanni,” “The Marriage of Figaro,” and “Cosi Fan Tutte.” Though often overlooked and uncredited, Da Ponte’s life began in and around Venice in an era when people still wore capes and masks year-round and ended eight-eight years later in early modern New York where he opened an opera house that would evolve into the Met and where he also served as the first professor of Italian at what is now Columbia University.

In between those years he led a rogue’s life. Da Ponte, who was born Jewish, and was converted at fourteen to Catholicism, became a priest and literary scholar who would say Mass on Sunday while whoring, drinking and gambling the other six days of the week with his friend, Casanova, the infamous role model for Don Giovanni.  Always too political for his own good, he was successively expelled from the Veneto, Venice and Vienna and had to flee debt collectors in London before making his way to New York in 1805 where he opened an Italian bookstore in Manhattan and a deli across the river in New Jersey.  He was the classic survivor, who in his day wrote a collection of operas that were considered scandalous but are today revered as some of the finest works of that genre ever created.

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First Chapter Reveal: Your Body, Your Style by Rani St. Pucchi

your-body-your-style-amazonTitle: Your Body, Your Style
Author: Rani St. Pucchi
Publisher: Koehler Books
Pages: 150
Genre: Nonfiction

Rani St. Pucchi, a trend-setting designer whose designs have been recognized in Entertainment Tonight, Harper’s Bazaar, WWD, Town and Country, Bride’s, Cosmopolitan Bride, Martha Stewart Weddings and The Knot, can help define the style that flatters you most — no matter what age or stage of life you are in or what your body type is.

Women from all over the world have clamored to have a private consultation with Rani so they may benefit from her expertise and regain their self-confidence and shine.

In Your Body, Your Style, Rani shares with you her knowledge of the female form and guides you to find simple solutions to your most pressing body concerns. The focus is on you — and how you can make yourself more confident and appealing in almost every situation — simply by making a few changes and different choices in planning your wardrobe.

Once you embrace your unique attributes and dissolve your bad relationship with your body, you’ll be amazed to find how irresistible you are to others!

This simple and friendly guide reveals:

* What clothes and silhouettes are best for your specific body type

* Simple techniques to determine which colors flatter you most

* Solutions to common lingerie issues and the importance of fit

* The one dress that is a chameleon, and how to transform it into different looks

* How to travel stress free by planning your wardrobe well

* 101 styling secrets, professional tricks and fashion tips

RANI ST. PUCCHI is an award-winning fashion designer, an author and relationship expert. She is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post.

PURCHASING LINKS:

AMAZON * B&N

Chapter One

If there is a seminal moment in my relationship to fashion and designing, the occasion that springs to mind is a summer in Bangkok, Thailand. I must have been about four or five years old. My cousin and I were running feverishly from the ground floor of our townhome to my mother’s bedroom on the fourth floor to get dressed for the movies and we were very late.

I looked at the choices I had and was very disappointed. Even though there were so many options I kept trying and tossing the frocks one by one on the floor. The cupboard now bare, I hit a wall: I’d run out of clothes. I remember so well the frustration and at the same time an ah-ha moment. I decided from henceforth I would choose my own fabrics and design my own clothes. After all who knew better than I what looks good on me?

I thank my parents for drawing me into the magical world of luxury fabrics and laces. As the largest purveyor of fine laces in Thailand their ateliers and showrooms became my playground where I would spend all my spare time. I had the opportunity to be around fine fabrics and get to touch and feel and know them well. I actively participated with my tailors in transforming these fabrics into unique designs for myself.

Fast forward to 1984. I was still living in Bangkok, Thailand and running my small tailoring shop in a prominent hotel, specializing in ready to wear and evening gowns, along with men’s tailored suits. A rare opportunity came my way when a client asked if I would be wiling to bring my collection to showcase at her charity event in San Antonio, Texas.

I was an avid fan of the TV sitcom “Dallas” and always fantasized living the life of such opulence and outrage as the characters depicted in the series! My wish to travel to the United States was a dream come true.

With great enthusiasm I prepared a collection of 54 pieces, comprising of jackets, skirts, blouses and dresses and some evening sheaths. I also thought it would be nice to have a finale piece, and so I designed my very first bridal gown for this purpose.

It was a blush colored wedding gown made of pure Thai Silk, entirely hand embroidered and hand beaded. Little did I know that the one wedding gown would receive so much attention as to catapult my whole life!

Next thing I knew I had already committed to showing a Bridal Collection in Dallas at the Dallas Apparel Mart, which was the ‘go to’ fashion platform where buyers from all over the world congregated. I registered my company on a wing and a prayer, and St. Pucchi was born.

When I launched my first bridal couture collection at the Dallas Apparel Mart in April of 1985 I was unsure if what I had so lovingly put together was of any value to the US bridal market. I was also clueless to the fact that white was the only color worn and accepted by the American bride at the time.

They say ignorance is bliss! By the time I learnt it was too late. My collection had already shipped from Bangkok to Dallas and there was not a single white dress among the sixteen styles I had designed. The colors ranged from ecru, blush, butterscotch and even pale blue.

I comforted myself into believing that perhaps the US bridal industry as it was could use a fresh perspective and hopefully my collection would, at the very least, bring some excitement.

It was pure pleasure to be totally immersed in an unfolding story, on a journey that is never forgotten. My first collection produced in me an intensely emotional and cathartic experience. After all I had invested all my resources and had used up my credit cards to the max. There was so much riding on my success that I could not fathom what the future would look like if…

The Dallas Apparel News ran a front-page story about my premier bridal collection and how it was a harkening of things to come. I was applauded for being a pioneer not only for using pure silks in bridal, which was unheard of at the time, but also for being so bold and daring as to introduce color to bridal wear.

The US bridal industry as we had known it would change forever.

Today, 30 plus years later, with more than 10,000 designs under my belt, I find myself very fortunate and humbled to write this book. The amazing women I’ve had the pleasure to work with during trunk shows, fashion shows, and on my travels across the globe have taught me much.

I have witnessed again and again how looking good can change a woman’s life. I have worked with numerous women, young and old, women getting married, mothers with teenage daughters, women going thru midlife crisis and those going thru menopause. The story they tell themselves is the same. Most are not happy with their bodies and wish they could change something or the other so they can feel confident in themselves.

A woman’s form is the most beautiful, most complex and the most intriguing. Yet we don’t appreciate it enough. We tend to hide parts that we feel are not attractive and we berate ourselves for being too much of this, and not enough of that. Rather than being in awe and working with the form we are blessed with, we spend more time and resources than most of us can afford, on diets and procedures that are rarely long lasting.

We’re on this constant merry-go-round and obsess about our body during every waking moment. Not only that, but the way we talk to ourselves we would not allow anyone to say those words to either our best friends or even our worst enemies!

This book does not pretend to be your road to perfection. The purpose of writing it is to guide you thru simple techniques and suggestions on how to look at your body and see what you can make better.

You are asked to assess and appraise your body type so that you can learn about the most flattering silhouettes to dress in.

You will learn how to dress your body in a way that will enhance your best assets and camouflage areas that you feel uncomfortable about or find lacking in any way.

You realize why it is so important to invest in the right lingerie. You learn the importance of fit and simple solutions to your common bra issues.

You are invited to learn a simple process to determine what colors flatter you most and which ones to part with. Color being one of the key elements that makes a woman look more interesting, more self-confident, more self-assured and in control.

You will learn about the one color that is a must staple in every woman’s wardrobe. The one piece of clothing that is a chameleon and that can be transformed into any myriad number of looks.

You are taken on a journey on how your style and taste evolves as you transition from your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, to your 60s and beyond. And you learn that sexy is never out of fashion, nor is it outdated. That in fact the older you get the more confident you become. And you realize that ultimately confidence is really what makes a woman sexy.

You become savvy on how and what to pack for your travels, whether you’re going on a month long vacation, a weekend romantic getaway to an exotic tropical island, or a short business trip.

You learn the simple four step process to sort-and-purge and organize your wardrobe so that no time is wasted in choosing what to wear each day allowing you time to become more productive in life.

You will be able to define your personal style, and become clear on how you wish to be seen in the world. This knowledge will help you embrace your own unique personality and shine.

In this book I share 101 tips and tricks on fashion fixes that help you gain self-confidence, on how to accentuate your strongest features, on dressing sexy. You will receive smart shopping hints and simple style advice for your body type and more…

In these pages I share with you the knowledge that I have garnered and reveal those secrets you will now learn so you too can look like a million regardless of the body you have, or the resources, to access trends that are so fleeting as to make our heads spin!

Thank you for the opportunity to share my knowledge. I hope it serves you.

About the Author

rani-st-pucchiThirty years ago, Rani St. Pucchi took the bridal world by storm, despite having no formal training in fashion. She is an award winning couture fashion designer and founder of the world-renowned bridal house St. Pucchi. A passionate and dynamic entrepreneur who launched her global empire in the United States in 1985, Rani’s vision was to create an avant-garde bridal and evening couture line with modern styling and classic details. That vision has been realized today.

Renowned for infusing her creations with touches of magnificently colored jewels, exquisite hand embroidery, delicate beading and sparkling crystals on the finest silks and laces, these inspired designs with innovative draping evoke the timeless elegance every woman desires. As one of the foremost designers to introduce exotic silk fabrics and hand embroidery, Rani is applauded for being a pioneer in bringing color to the United States bridal scene, having learned that white does not flatter everyone.

Rani has been recognized and nominated on multiple occasions for her design talent and won numerous awards as a Style Innovator. In addition, she has been honored with the Best Bridal Designer Award at the prestigious Chicago Apparel Center’s DEBI Awards (Distinctive Excellence in Bridal Industry).

Rani is famous for designing the wedding dress worn by “Phoebe” as she captured the hearts of millions when she said “I Do” in a unique St. Pucchi Lilac corset bodice A-line gown on the finale of the hit television show Friends.

Her range of avant-garde designs are worn by the world’s most discerning brides, including celebrities and style icons such as New York Giants’ player Aaron Ross’ wife, Olympic gold medalist Sanya Richards; Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo’s wife Candice Crawford; Actress Tara Reid; Jason Priestley’s wife Naomi Lowde; actress Candice Cameron and Grammy Award winning country music singer Alison Krauss, who donned a specially designed Chantilly lace and silk gown at the Country Music Awards.

Rani has enjoyed much media attention. Her signature designs have been recognized in high profile media such as Entertainment Tonight, Harper’s Bazaar, WWD, Town and Country, Bride’s, Cosmopolitan Brides, Inside Weddings, Martha Stewart Weddings and The Knot.

Rani’s real passion other than the world of design is to help women who have suffered abuse and those who are struggling to find themselves. On her quest to empower women to be their best selves, she is passionate about helping them find their voice through building their self-confidence. She believes that confidence must start with a woman’s love and acceptance of her body.

Renowned for her savvy knowledge of a woman’s form and fit, Rani is eager to share her knowledge of more than three decades with all women so they can make better styling choices. In addition to the book you are reading now, Rani is the author of four upcoming books: The SoulMate Checklist: Key Questions To help You Choose Your Perfect Partner; Seven Types of Men To Avoid: Recognizing Relationship Red Flags; Designing with Heart: A to Z Guide to Bridal Designing; and Unveiling: A Celebrity Fashion Designer’s Story, a Memoir of her Life Journey.

Born and raised in Bangkok, Thailand, Rani now happily lives in Los Angeles, California.

Her latest book is Your Body, Your Style: Simple Tips on Dressing to Flatter.

 

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First Chapter Reveal: Your Body, Your Style: Simple Tips on Dressing to Flatter by Rani St. Pucchi

your-body-your-style-amazonTitle: Your Body, Your Style
Author: Rani St. Pucchi
Publisher: Koehler Books
Pages: 150
Genre: Nonfiction

Rani St. Pucchi, a trend-setting designer whose designs have been recognized in Entertainment Tonight, Harper’s Bazaar, WWD, Town and Country, Bride’s, Cosmopolitan Bride, Martha Stewart Weddings and The Knot, can help define the style that flatters you most — no matter what age or stage of life you are in or what your body type is.

Women from all over the world have clamored to have a private consultation with Rani so they may benefit from her expertise and regain their self-confidence and shine.

In Your Body, Your Style, Rani shares with you her knowledge of the female form and guides you to find simple solutions to your most pressing body concerns. The focus is on you — and how you can make yourself more confident and appealing in almost every situation — simply by making a few changes and different choices in planning your wardrobe.

Once you embrace your unique attributes and dissolve your bad relationship with your body, you’ll be amazed to find how irresistible you are to others!

This simple and friendly guide reveals:

* What clothes and silhouettes are best for your specific body type

* Simple techniques to determine which colors flatter you most

* Solutions to common lingerie issues and the importance of fit

* The one dress that is a chameleon, and how to transform it into different looks

* How to travel stress free by planning your wardrobe well

* 101 styling secrets, professional tricks and fashion tips

RANI ST. PUCCHI  is an award-winning fashion designer, an author and relationship expert. She is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post.

PURCHASING LINKS:

AMAZON   *   B&N

Chapter One

If there is a seminal moment in my relationship to fashion and designing, the occasion that springs to mind is a summer in Bangkok, Thailand. I must have been about four or five years old. My cousin and I were running feverishly from the ground floor of our townhome to my mother’s bedroom on the fourth floor to get dressed for the movies and we were very late.

I looked at the choices I had and was very disappointed. Even though there were so many options I kept trying and tossing the frocks one by one on the floor. The cupboard now bare, I hit a wall: I’d run out of clothes. I remember so well the frustration and at the same time an ah-ha moment. I decided from henceforth I would choose my own fabrics and design my own clothes. After all who knew better than I what looks good on me?

I thank my parents for drawing me into the magical world of luxury fabrics and laces. As the largest purveyor of fine laces in Thailand their ateliers and showrooms became my playground where I would spend all my spare time. I had the opportunity to be around fine fabrics and get to touch and feel and know them well. I actively participated with my tailors in transforming these fabrics into unique designs for myself.

Fast forward to 1984. I was still living in Bangkok, Thailand and running my small tailoring shop in a prominent hotel, specializing in ready to wear and evening gowns, along with men’s tailored suits. A rare opportunity came my way when a client asked if I would be wiling to bring my collection to showcase at her charity event in San Antonio, Texas.

I was an avid fan of the TV sitcom “Dallas” and always fantasized living the life of such opulence and outrage as the characters depicted in the series! My wish to travel to the United States was a dream come true.

With great enthusiasm I prepared a collection of 54 pieces, comprising of jackets, skirts, blouses and dresses and some evening sheaths. I also thought it would be nice to have a finale piece, and so I designed my very first bridal gown for this purpose.

It was a blush colored wedding gown made of pure Thai Silk, entirely hand embroidered and hand beaded. Little did I know that the one wedding gown would receive so much attention as to catapult my whole life!

Next thing I knew I had already committed to showing a Bridal Collection in Dallas at the Dallas Apparel Mart, which was the ‘go to’ fashion platform where buyers from all over the world congregated. I registered my company on a wing and a prayer, and St. Pucchi was born.

When I launched my first bridal couture collection at the Dallas Apparel Mart in April of 1985 I was unsure if what I had so lovingly put together was of any value to the US bridal market. I was also clueless to the fact that white was the only color worn and accepted by the American bride at the time.

They say ignorance is bliss! By the time I learnt it was too late. My collection had already shipped from Bangkok to Dallas and there was not a single white dress among the sixteen styles I had designed. The colors ranged from ecru, blush, butterscotch and even pale blue.

I comforted myself into believing that perhaps the US bridal industry as it was could use a fresh perspective and hopefully my collection would, at the very least, bring some excitement.

It was pure pleasure to be totally immersed in an unfolding story, on a journey that is never forgotten. My first collection produced in me an intensely emotional and cathartic experience. After all I had invested all my resources and had used up my credit cards to the max. There was so much riding on my success that I could not fathom what the future would look like if…

The Dallas Apparel News ran a front-page story about my premier bridal collection and how it was a harkening of things to come. I was applauded for being a pioneer not only for using pure silks in bridal, which was unheard of at the time, but also for being so bold and daring as to introduce color to bridal wear.

The US bridal industry as we had known it would change forever.

Today, 30 plus years later, with more than 10,000 designs under my belt, I find myself very fortunate and humbled to write this book. The amazing women I’ve had the pleasure to work with during trunk shows, fashion shows, and on my travels across the globe have taught me much.

I have witnessed again and again how looking good can change a woman’s life. I have worked with numerous women, young and old, women getting married, mothers with teenage daughters, women going thru midlife crisis and those going thru menopause. The story they tell themselves is the same. Most are not happy with their bodies and wish they could change something or the other so they can feel confident in themselves.

A woman’s form is the most beautiful, most complex and the most intriguing. Yet we don’t appreciate it enough. We tend to hide parts that we feel are not attractive and we berate ourselves for being too much of this, and not enough of that. Rather than being in awe and working with the form we are blessed with, we spend more time and resources than most of us can afford, on diets and procedures that are rarely long lasting.

We’re on this constant merry-go-round and obsess about our body during every waking moment. Not only that, but the way we talk to ourselves we would not allow anyone to say those words to either our best friends or even our worst enemies!

This book does not pretend to be your road to perfection. The purpose of writing it is to guide you thru simple techniques and suggestions on how to look at your body and see what you can make better.

You are asked to assess and appraise your body type so that you can learn about the most flattering silhouettes to dress in.

You will learn how to dress your body in a way that will enhance your best assets and camouflage areas that you feel uncomfortable about or find lacking in any way.

You realize why it is so important to invest in the right lingerie. You learn the importance of fit and simple solutions to your common bra issues.

You are invited to learn a simple process to determine what colors flatter you most and which ones to part with. Color being one of the key elements that makes a woman look more interesting, more self-confident, more self-assured and in control.

You will learn about the one color that is a must staple in every woman’s wardrobe. The one piece of clothing that is a chameleon and that can be transformed into any myriad number of looks.

You are taken on a journey on how your style and taste evolves as you transition from your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, to your 60s and beyond. And you learn that sexy is never out of fashion, nor is it outdated. That in fact the older you get the more confident you become. And you realize that ultimately confidence is really what makes a woman sexy.

You become savvy on how and what to pack for your travels, whether you’re going on a month long vacation, a weekend romantic getaway to an exotic tropical island, or a short business trip.

You learn the simple four step process to sort-and-purge and organize your wardrobe so that no time is wasted in choosing what to wear each day allowing you time to become more productive in life.

You will be able to define your personal style, and become clear on how you wish to be seen in the world. This knowledge will help you embrace your own unique personality and shine.

In this book I share 101 tips and tricks on fashion fixes that help you gain self-confidence, on how to accentuate your strongest features, on dressing sexy. You will receive smart shopping hints and simple style advice for your body type and more…

In these pages I share with you the knowledge that I have garnered and reveal those secrets you will now learn so you too can look like a million regardless of the body you have, or the resources, to access trends that are so fleeting as to make our heads spin!

Thank you for the opportunity to share my knowledge. I hope it serves you.

About the Author

Thirty years ago, Rani St. Pucchi took the bridal world by storm, despite having no formal training in fashion. She is an award winning couture fashion designer and founder of the world-renowned bridal house St. Pucchi. A passionate and dynamic entrepreneur who launched her global empire in the United States in 1985, Rani’s vision was to create an avant-garde bridal and evening couture line with modern styling and classic details. That vision has been realized today.

Renowned for infusing her creations with touches of magnificently colored jewels, exquisite hand embroidery, delicate beading and sparkling crystals on the finest silks and laces, these inspired designs with innovative draping evoke the timeless elegance every woman desires. As one of the foremost designers to introduce exotic silk fabrics and hand embroidery, Rani is applauded for being a pioneer in bringing color to the United States bridal scene, having learned that white does not flatter everyone.

Rani has been recognized and nominated on multiple occasions for her design talent and won numerous awards as a Style Innovator. In addition, she has been honored with the Best Bridal Designer Award at the prestigious Chicago Apparel Center’s DEBI Awards (Distinctive Excellence in Bridal Industry).

Rani is famous for designing the wedding dress worn by “Phoebe” as she captured the hearts of millions when she said “I Do” in a unique St. Pucchi Lilac corset bodice A-line gown on the finale of the hit television show Friends.

Her range of avant-garde designs are worn by the world’s most discerning brides, including celebrities and style icons such as New York Giants’ player Aaron Ross’ wife, Olympic gold medalist Sanya Richards; Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo’s wife Candice Crawford; Actress Tara Reid; Jason Priestley’s wife Naomi Lowde; actress Candice Cameron and Grammy Award winning country music singer Alison Krauss, who donned a specially designed Chantilly lace and silk gown at the Country Music Awards.

Rani has enjoyed much media attention. Her signature designs have been recognized in high profile media such as Entertainment Tonight, Harper’s Bazaar, WWD, Town and Country, Bride’s, Cosmopolitan Brides, Inside Weddings, Martha Stewart Weddings and The Knot.

Rani’s real passion other than the world of design is to help women who have suffered abuse and those who are struggling to find themselves. On her quest to empower women to be their best selves, she is passionate about helping them find their voice through building their self-confidence. She believes that confidence must start with a woman’s love and acceptance of her body.

Renowned for her savvy knowledge of a woman’s form and fit, Rani is eager to share her knowledge of more than three decades with all women so they can make better styling choices. In addition to the book you are reading now, Rani is the author of four upcoming books: The SoulMate Checklist: Key Questions To help You Choose Your Perfect Partner; Seven Types of Men To Avoid: Recognizing Relationship Red Flags; Designing with Heart: A to Z Guide to Bridal Designing; and Unveiling: A Celebrity Fashion Designer’s Story, a Memoir of her Life Journey.

Born and raised in Bangkok, Thailand, Rani now happily lives in Los Angeles, California.

Her latest book is Your Body, Your Style: Simple Tips on Dressing to Flatter.

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Dylan Doose’s SWORD AND SORCERY SERIES BOOK BLAST

 

The three volume set of Fantasy/Horror Author Dylan Doose’s SWORD AND SORCERY SERIES is available now! You can find out about all three books below!

 

Title: FIRE AND SWORD
Author: Dylan Doose
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 332
Genre: Fantasy/Horror
Condemned to hang for their crimes, they’ll march instead to perish as heroes, or live as free men.
A broken nation in need of a savior – ravaged by plague, decimated by dark magic, infiltrated by a foreign evil seeking to dominate from within. Three will rise to save the beleaguered land. But will they be enough?
A fantasy adventure for fans of Joe Abercrombie, Mark Lawrence and Scott Lynch!
Three men condemned to die: Aldous Weaver, a heretic monk turned sorcerer, imprisoned for accidentally incinerating the leader of his order. Kendrick the Cold, an infamous crusader turned fugitive, is a villain who knows he can never be a hero. Theron Ward, an aristocrat with a penchant for slaughtering monsters, and a legend in his own mind.
When the kingdom of Brynth is threatened by a far greater evil, the unlikely trio must make a choice — seek to escape this land that cries for their execution, or find the true heroes within themselves. And then, armed with fire and sword, march together against the forces of darkness. But can three such disparate warriors ever prevail?
**Fire and Sword received an Honorable Mention from Library Journal 2016 and a Shelf Unbound Magazine Notable 100 for 2015**
Don’t miss the dark fantasy that reviewers are calling ‘gritty, fast-paced and compelling’—get your copy of Fire and Sword today!

Amazon | Barnes& Noble | iBooks | Kobo

About the Book:
Title:
CATACOMBS OF TIME
Author: Dylan Doose
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 59
Genre: Fantasy/Horror
A fantasy adventure for fans of Joe Abercrombie, Mark Lawrence and Scott Lynch!
In a world where the Rata Plaga and ghouls feast on the dead, doctor Gaige De’Brouillard believes science, not magic, conquers all.
Even death is just an equation to be solved.
When De’Brouillard is called upon by the Lord Regent to cure a curse and save one of the damned, he must battle for his career, his faith in science, and even his life. In the darkest slums and deepest catacombs, the doctor finds himself staring death in the eye with no scientific solution at hand. Has the doctor finally come across a question
that science cannot answer, and will he pay with his life?
Don’t miss the dark fantasy that reviewers are calling ‘visceral,’ ‘fantastic,’ and ‘intriguing’—get your
copy of Catacombs of Time today!

Amazon | Barnes& Noble | iBooks | Kobo

About the Book:
Title:THE PYRES
Author: Dylan Doose
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 268
Genre: Fantasy/Horror
Once again, three unlikely heroes must band together in a fiery conflict between gods and demons.
A country ravaged by civil war, now threatened with evil unleashed by rivers of blood. Three must rise again to save the beleaguered land and thwart a dark prophecy.
A fantasy adventure for fans of Joe Abercrombie, Mark Lawrence and Scott Lynch!
Theron Ward, Aldous Weaver and Kendrick the Cold must band together and fight again. This time, they are caught in the timeless clash of gods and demons, and led by the dark prophecy of dreams.
A ruthless warlord, the Dog Eater, rises out of the rivers of blood from civil war. As friend and foe reach out from futures past, the three will see a city of white stone turn black with ash… and the only way forward is through the fire. One thing is certain, none of them will ever be the same. And one will be transformed in ways he never dreamed. Dare the three depend on the blood ties of the past to carry them through this terrible night?
Don’t miss the next thrilling installment in the dark fantasy that reviewers are calling ‘gritty, fast-paced and compelling’—get your copy of The Pyres today!

Amazon | Barnes& Noble | iBooks | Kobo

Book Excerpt from FIRE AND SWORD:

The thing left a trail of thick black blood and green pus. More a stream than a trail, if Theron Ward, hunter of monsters, wanted to be precise. It was wounded and wounded horribly, but not dead.
Grimmshire was not the only town ruined by the plague. As far as Theron knew, the whole country had a piece of it. The rats came with those terrible black boils. Rats larger than dogs. In the beginning, they came in swarms. Now they appeared alone or in small roving packs, as if a once powerful tether that bound the group had been weakened.
Four years ago, they had come and spewed their filth into the town. Two days was all it had taken until half the town was crawling and squealing with the rats, puking up pus and bursting black boils. The other half of the town became the swarm’s feast.
Those who didn’t turn simply couldn’t. The priests said that only the sinners turned, that the pious were protected from the plague. Theron doubted that, for he was not a pious man and he knew a thing or two about sin—sins of the flesh mostly—and he had been exposed to enough plague to wipe out a city.
Yet he had not turned.
Theron suspected something more sinister than nature, or the work of gods and devils to be the villainy incarnate that had unleashed such wickedness upon the land. He suspected something more human, or slightly more than human. Unpopular opinion, but his opinion nonetheless.
It was midday, but it was dark in the ruined town. The clouds shrouded the sun, gray and threatening, but not a drop of rain. The once green pastures were yellow as far as the eye could see. Once this had been a bustling, happy little town. Now there were just the colors of pus and piss and ash all around, beneath those
suffocating gray clouds.
There came a rustling sound from the chapel, the one building in the town not entirely burned to the ground. It had been painted white when it was built, and painted black with soot and ash when death had come to its town. The stained glass windows were shattered, shards of the vibrant panes scattered round in the dirt and the yellow grass.
Theron burst through the door. His skin crawled at the sight of the wounded thing within the chapel; they always made his skin crawl, though he had killed over a hundred. He could kill over a thousand and still his skin
would crawl.
Theron was a beast hunter, had been for nearly a decade, but the rats had always disturbed him the most, more than any creature or demon.
What made the things so terrible was not the giant, rotting buckteeth that burst from the mouth. It was not the boils or the tufts of matted fur. Not the long tail or the brutish muscles, not the naked, sagging female breasts or the male parts dangling, filthy and crusted.
It was the eyes, for the eyes remained entirely human. And so, Theron was certain that a human being was still left in there, with no control over what it had become and begging for its torment to end.
This one had been a woman once, perhaps a mother, a lover, a sister, a daughter. For a dreadful moment he pictured his own sister taking the form of the wretched thing before him.
About the Author:

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Writer. Sculptor. Bad fitness advice. In between writing books, award winning fantasy author Dylan Doose fills his not-so-busy schedule with martial arts, mountain biking, paddle surfing, weight lifting, and of course HBO, PS4 and increasing the size of his beloved personal library. Dylan’s Fire and Sword received an honorable mention from Library Journal in 2016 and was a Shelf Unbound Notable 100 for 2015.

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