Do You Know YOU?

Do You Know YOU?

How many of us have found ourselves living someone else’s life? It’s a reality that dawns on many of us  too late. But for Jazmine Stevenson, a woman in her 20’s who has already experienced enough pain and mental anguish for a lifetime, the discovery came just in time.  With the help of a strong family support system, her faith and a good helping of determination, she found the strength to look at herself the way she really was and make positive changes. Her book Getting To Know Yourself: Do You Know You? is a perfect starting point for anyone seeking to do the same. We talk about fearlessly examining the person in the mirror, speaking out loud the unspoken, and how it opens the door to self-realization, self-confidence and personal honesty.

Jazmine Stevenson presenting her book at the IABX Book Expo

“It was me like, you know, settling for things that i shouldn’t settle for knowing that, i am better than certain things,” she recalls. “At that moment, i didn’t think that I was valuable or valued in certain ways. So, i had to realize that, no, you are better than this. You are. You can get whatever you want, if you put your mind to it. You are precious.”

My conversation with Jazmine reveals more about how we can come to terms with ourselves. Here’s the episode of the podcast Type. Tune. Tint where we chatted.


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Fred Rossi: At the intersection of past and present New Jersey

At a time when local newspapers across America are struggling, Fred Rossi has worked for the same central New Jersey newspaper for 23 years. He’s a lifelong New Jersey resident and student of its history. So, it’s no surprise that his book, Jersey Stories: Stories You May Not Have Heard About People and Places in New Jersey, is rich in the history that helped forge New Jersey and the America we live in today. Even if you’re not a New Jerseyan, you’ll learn a lot from Fred’s book.

Fred Rossi holds his book

“I grew up in New Jersey, born and raised here. I grew up down the shore mostly in Ocean Township, just next to Asbury Park,” he says. “I remember being 10 years old and waking up in the morning and riding my bike to the Krauser’s convenience store by myself to get the newspaper. Read the sports section probably for the first year or two and then I slowly expanded. But I think 1976 was when I really became a news and history addict with the presidential campaign and then I just I got into it.”

New Jersey history is our nation’s history, as you’ll see when you get your copy of Fred’s book. It won’t hurt, really. Here’s my conversation with Fred, covering past and present news in the Garden State:

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New name, new ideas, new talent!

After two years of fascinating interviews with fascinating independent authors, The Independent Author podcast is becoming Type Tune Tint. The new name reflects a wider net of artists–independent authors, yes, but also traditionally published authors along with musicians and artists, all deserving of a little more attention. Here’s more from the podcast, soon to morph:

Ramadan 101: A children’s book for all of us

Ramadan 101: A children’s book for all of us

Even though Islam is the second biggest religion in the world, it is widely misunderstood in the United States where negative stereotypes still plague Muslims who simply want to live normal lives. When New Jersey art teacher Rahama Alvi encountered questions from children about Ramadan and its traditions, she decided to launch her own project to educate kids and, in the process, bring adults along for the ride. With her husband Talha, a programmer who majored in English at Rutgers and always had the itch to write, they collaborated on The Ramadan Tree. They wrote it together and Rahama did the illustrations, a collaboration that was sometimes fraught with married-couple challenges.

“We both did it kind of just sitting in bed, you know, after work and instead of watching TV,” says Rahama. “I illustrated it on my iPad. I was drawing using Procreate and my Apple Pencil, and he was kind of doing Word on his laptop. So he would do a couple of pages and then I would take a look and I would be like, ok, some of the illustrations that I have worked, and then I have to make more illustrations, which I would get very frustrated about.”

“Some of the fights got really heated,” Talha confirmed with a smile.

The end result, after five months, is a beautifully illustrated book, written for children but illuminating for adults as well. It’s a perfect book for moms and dads to read to their kids, an education for both non-Muslims and today’s adherents to Islam looking for fun ways to celebrate the holiest period of the year.

Hear my conversation with The Ramadan Tree authors Talha and Rahama Alvi in this episode of The Independent Author podcast:

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Bringing your passion to the page

For every self-published author, there are thousands of unpublished authors. Why? Aspiring writers often don’t know where to begin. Do I have the talent? Do I have the patience? When am I going to find time to write? What will readers think?

One place to start to find some of those answers might be a mentor, someone who’s been there. Which brings us to Debby Handrich, known in the Seattle market as Coach Debby, radio host, writing coach and life coach. From a young age, Debby created her own world through writing fiction, a coping mechanism to deal with bullying.

“My skin is very pale and my hair is very blonde and that’s because I’m albino,” she says. “But what a lot of people don’t know is if you have albinism, you have about 20 to 30% of your eyesight. So I was really trying to find a way to be the kid with the thick glasses that didn’t abandon myself the way the other kids on the playground, it seemed, did!  You know, they were either really rough with me or they acted like I was invisible. Creating characters and creating stories just allowed me to have a world that I made up that was safe.”

Today, Coach Debby mentors people with a burning desire to get what’s inside them onto the written page, whether it’s a blog, a letter or a full-blown book. Her radio show on 1150KKNW, Seattle has a loyal following and she has a thriving business as a life coach and writing coach.

Hear my chat with Coach Debby in the episode of The Independent Author podcast right here: