Saturday, September 29, 2012

Nebador series: Book six - Star station

Title: Nebador Book 6 - Star Station
Author's page on GoodReads: JZ Colby
Author's thought provoking blog: Youth Futures
Author's website: Nebador
Where to get this book and those in the earlier series: Click here for various options (including e-books)

My views:

This is the sixth book in the Nebador series and as you can see, I'm a big fan. The series has had me hooked, since the day I read the first book. While this book may be for Young Adults, I enjoy learning from each book.

The series begins (Book One) when Ilika the captain of the deep space response ship Manessa arrives in a medieval kingdom seeking a crew for his mysterious ship. Those who pass his initial test are a bunch of slaves and an inn keeper's daughter. The final few who qualify include: Rini, Mati, Kibi, Sata, and Boro. You can read about them here.

The previous book (Book five) had them planet hopping but now they've flow on to the star zone, much beyond the reachable solar system and have their own lessons to learn on Star Station Satamia (where hopefully Mati's knee will be operated upon).

Here, they learn that in order to be true citizens of Nebador they need to always keep learning and growing. Of course, on the backward planet where they were born, the kingdom had no larger purpose. People lived as best as they could, accomplished a few things in their lives or didn't accomplish anything at all. Life revolved around living for yet another day, and if being cruel (such as towards slaves or animals) meant you had a more 'luxurious' life, well that was just the way it was. Through their journey Ilika crew learnt this was not the ideal way to live. This message was reinforced on the star station.

The lessons that the crew learnt and which I learnt as well, are captured below:

1)Complete awareness of everyone and complete attention to all my responsibilities: While Kibi goes through a rigorous formal psychic development program, others learn this message in different ways. Boro through his juggling classes and Sata through her dancing classes. Only when one is aware of the environment around them, can they see what others can't see. The next step then on becoming aware is to be responsible. For instance, when Kibi first started her training, she sensed 'fear' in the water in which she was diving, but she failed to notice a little lost creature whom she could have helped. Or when Boro tried to juggle and do his other activities at the same time, which included merely walking around, he did bump into things. This lesson may be difficult to master, but it is so crucial to be a good human being.

2) Do not judge others by their appearance alone:
The 'big story' in this book is about Mati's surgery. She is so looking forward to standing on her own two feet again and discarding her crutch for ever. Unfortunately, the only surgeon who can successfully fulfill this dream of hers is a giant 'monster' - a 3 meter tall large green gangly insect with claw like mandibles. Howeveer, Mati manages to overcome her fear of her surgeon K'stimla and prepares for surgery. The surgery itself becomes complicated, inner fears lead to Mati slipping away, the purple spirit (many creatures of pure light also exist on Satamia)has to deepen the link between Rina and Mati, to enable Rina to penetrate deep into Mati's mind and conquer her past fears. Fear cripples in its own way. Now they will never be free of each other's thoughts and feelings. Rina readily agrees to take this step to save Mati. In fact, in this book, both of them share the joy of their 'marriage' with other star-ship residents. Of course, each crew member and not just Mati, has to learn to deal with creatures who look different. For instance, it took Boro some time to get used to a ursine docking controller but Glorm and he soon bonded over a fishing expedition. We often judge others at first glance, Ilika's crew learnt how wrong they could be and so did I.

3) Sometimes things are not what they seem:
The star station is housing a group of reptiles, who were rescued when their planet became extinct. They are housed in a simulated desert environment, but something is wrong. The females refuse to mate and their numbers are dwindling, plus attempts to find another planet for them oontinue to fail. Mati makes the mistake of opening the door of this simulated environment with the help of Sata (She opens the door because she wants the creatures to experience freedom, just as she now experiences freedom without her crutches. Her intentions are good but the immediate consequences are not what she expected). The reptilian creatures venture out of this gap, but are dazed with what they see on the star ship, and accidentally a baby ursine is also killed in the bedlam.Of course Mati and Sata have to make amends. A huge step has to be taken by them, in other words, they have to be physically transformed into these reptiles, Rini guesses, the male reptiles would want to mate with them and ventures forth to protect Mati. Boro follows suit. Thus all four transformed reptiles find themselves in this simulated environment so that they can learn about them and help them find a new home. Sata's outburst that they are different and are from the star station results in a revolution of sorts and they finally learn that the original environment of these reptilian creatures was a wet, humid jungle and not a desert. The task to find them a new suitable home begins anew and there is a successful ending.

Similarly, sometimes in life, one needs to stand back, probe, find out more, reach a suitable conclusion and then take proactive steps in the right direction. Jumping to conclusions based on assumptions or rudimentary information doesn't help.

The author, J.Z. Colby in his chapter 'Afterthoughts' points out: ...I'm sure you know by now, this story isn't really science fiction..... If the Nebador stories have anything to leave to the world, it is a glimpse of the difference between reality and the many layers of assumptions and myths that most people live by. If while reading these stories, you have experienced even a tiny peek beyond normal 'monkey-mammal' (Ilika's crew is referred to as monkey-mammals by other residents of the star station) thinking, then you have set your feet on the path to Nebador (by whatever name)!

Nebador is a great series and this particular book is one of my favourites in that series. Each page is a gem.


My reviews of other books in this series:
Book One: The Test
Book Two: Journey
Book Three: Selection
Book Four: Flight Training
Book Five: Back to the stars

Author's bio:
Born in the Mojave Desert, J. Z. Colby now lives and writes deep in a forest of the Pacific Northwest.
He has studied many subjects, formally and informally, including psychology, philosophy, education, and performing arts, but remains a generalist. His primary profession as a mental health counselor, specializing with families and young adults, gives him many stories of personal growth, and the motivation to develop his team of young critiquers and readers.
All his life, he has been drawn toward a broad understanding of human nature, especially those physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual situations in which our capacity to function seems to reach its limits. He finds fascinating those few individuals who can transcend the limits of our common human nature and the dictates of our cultures.
In his spare time, he flies helicopters and airplanes.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Craig Meets Dave (And learns about Autism, Bullying and Friendship)

Title: Craig Meets Dave (and learns about Autism, Bullying and Friendship)
Author: Susanne Breckwoldt, Phd
Author's (ie: Craig's) website: Craig Winston and Friends
Available on Amazon etc

My views:
Kids always wonder why some one in their class is behaving so differently from them. Out of sheer fear, they stay away from this classmate or join others in making fun of him or her.

Using lovable bears as characters the author shows how Craig the lovable green bear and his community learn the importance of tolerance and empathy. Craig and his friend Ben also learn learns how to deal with and understand a bully.

In this book, Dave suffers from autism, but he does have two understanding Bear classmates and friends, Craig and Ben. "Craig and Ben, thought of Dave as a friend, even though he didn't always act the same as everyone else. Dave always wanted to talk about birds, birds and more birds. And if you even get him to play, he would always want to play the same thing over and over again....."

Dave, like any other kid, suffering from autism lives largely in his own world, he loves to draw birds and draws them all the time, including during class. He likes routine and doesn't like sudden disruptions or sounds.

Craig and his friend Ben, accept him for what he is and recognize that he has certain special talents and abilities. They also know that just like any other Bear, Dave has his own strengths and weakness.

Ed, the bully and baseball player ensures that Craig and Ben are ridiculed for befriending Dave. But this doesn't deter them. Ed's bullying tactics take a turn for a worse, he sends intimidating messages to Craig and he doesn't like Craig's sister Emily and his own sister Star being playmates. Unfortunately, Craig does not show this message to his parents or teachers.

The bully that he is, Ed with the help of two of his own friends, locks Emily and Star in the basement of a neighbor's house. The girls are rescued and appear shaken, but recover quickly.

The author has sensitively portrayed, that bullies behave the way they do, because of their own issues, such as lack of self esteem or a difficult home life.

The book ends with all the Bears and their families attending a fund-raising fair. The money collected would enable Craig's school to bring in a team of experts that would help the children and community to understand each young bear's special abilities and gifts and more importantly how to work out differences and conflicts with empathy.

I am sure this book will help parents and teachers to discuss the difficult but important issues such as inclusion and bullying. A great book.

Susanne Breckwoldt, Phd, says:

"There are many subjects that children want to talk about with their friends, parents and teachers," says Dr Susanne, "but they just can't find the words. Perhaps they can't even recognise the emotions that they are feeling. I hope my books open a door for discussion. Craig Winston is a very friendly bear."

Here is a detailed note from Dr. Susanne Breckwoldt which will be of added help.

Thank you so much for the lovely review and for inviting me to elaborate on the Craig Winston and Friends series of books. I am so glad that you enjoyed the story of Craig Meets Dave. The Craig Winston books are intended to stimulate discussion between children and parents, guardians, librarians, educators or counselors about important mental health and social issues with the hope of encouraging understanding, acceptance and inclusiveness among elementary school age children.

I have received some great feedback from parents who have read the book to or together with their child(ren,). Mostly they valued Craig Meets Dave for providing a vehicle for raising important current issues with their children that would not ordinarily come up for discussion.

The sweet autistic bear who is the center of quite a bit of attention in the Craig Meets Dave book and the accidental perpetrator of a chain of unfortunate, sometimes scary events is a bear who is high functioning on the autistic spectrum. Dave's parents were able to provide early intervention for Dave and began mainstreaming Dave when it was time for him to begin elementary school.

As a very young bear Dave had a whole team of specialists working with him and his parents to teach him about feelings and social skills, improve his speech and language skills and assist him in learning how to process information more accurately. Dave also worked with a physical therapist to help with fine and gross motor coordination. Dave still benefits from continuing to work with a few specialists outside of school.

Dave has an IEP (Individual Education Plan) that is drawn up by his educators and school psychologist and discussed with his parents. The school evaluates Dave annually based in his strengths and weaknesses academically and socially to determine the best possible plan for his continued education.Fortunately Dave has been able to make progress from year to year by participating in a mixed or mainstream focused class.

Dave's team continues to provide all the love, support and guidance that will enable Dave to stay on track. Dave has put in a lot of hard work himself!

There is a little self help book called The Bully Proof Vest that I have recently self published. The book encourages parents to be vigilant of even small changes in their child's behavior such as losing interest in participating in activities he had previously enjoyed, appearing to be more worried about things than usual, being more aggressive when playing with a sibling or family pet, etc..

Parents are encouraged to open the lines of communication immediately to explore the possibility that the child may be a targeted by a bully. Since children are often afraid or ashamed to go to their parents of their own accord it is up to the parent(s) to ask their child some sensitive questions in a very caring and supportive way. The parent will want to know if their son or daughter has had any negative experiences with classmates or schoolmates, who the child plays with at recess, sits next to in the cafeteria, etc.

Parents will often have to supply words for the child who fears opening up by suggesting some possible scenarios e.g. "Mary hasn't been coming over so much for playdates lately. Did the two of you have a disagreement?" Most importantly they will need to communicate to the child that she is loved and supported, under all circumstances, and that the parents will put an immediate plan in place to assure her safety. The parents will describe their plan of action and seek the support of the school in enforcing their plan.

Children also need to know that being bullied is nothing to be ashamed of but mostly a reflection on the bully who has learned to boost his confidence by trying to dominate, threaten or intimidate. The right approach and education by the parents and school can help to build ego strength by teaching effective coping skills to the target and holding the bullly accountable for his/her behavior through psychosocial intervention that fosters empathy, offers social skills training, anger management and family intervention along with the school's enforcement of a zero tolerance stance toward bullying.

Thanks again for the opportunity to discuss Craig Meets Dave and
Learns About Autism, Bullying and Friendship.

Susanne Breckwoldt

Authors' bio:
Dr. Susanne Breckwoldt is a clinical psychologist who is in private practice in Bergen County, New Jersey, United States of America. She works with individuals, couples and families. Dr. Susanne holds a B.A. in Psychology from Carnegie-Mellon University, her M.A. from Fairleigh Dickinson University and completed her doctoral training at The Florida Institute of Technology. She founded the publishing company, Craig Winston and Friends, LLC to publish books that will help educate children about important mental health issues.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Strong Roads: A Spanish Shipwreck Survivor in Ancient Hawaii

Title of the Book: Strong Roads - A Spanish Shipwreck Survivor in Ancient
Available on: Amazon (Print and Kindle), Barnes and Noble (including Nook) and other similar sites
Authors website: G.E.M. Thomas

Overview provided on Barnes & Noble:
In 1565 the Spanish perfected, after 40 years of failure, a circular course between Acapulco Mexico and Manila, in the Philippines. Their ships, laden with silver ingots, were sent from Acapulco every year until the early 1800's. Stories exist that the Hawaiian Islands were known to the Spanish before their 'discovery'. Beyond this, Hawaiian stories accurately tell of people washing ashore their land. This is the fictional story about the connection between ancient Hawaii and the Manila Galleons, told through the eyes of a Spanish soldier.
Overview provided on Amazon:
Alonso Truylos, and his three friends are out to find adventure wherever it exists. As soldiers, these men sail to the New World. As time goes on, events and occurrences reshape their relationships. Alonso Truylos finds himself going deeper into this strange New World. Eventually, joining a galleon in the hopes of attaining riches, only to discover how life really works.

My views:

The author dedicates this book to Google Inc. I presume one can travel far and wide in cyberspace, just as the main character in this book, Alonso Truylos did but on a ship or rather many ships. Further, for Alonso and his four friends the New World were the strange lands that spread before them, waiting to be seen, just as cyberspace is relatively speaking a New World for us.

I am not a fan of history, but love adventure and while this book had all its historical facts intact, it was no boring history book. I could smell the foam of the sea, the sweat of the sailors, the fear of the slaves or the wounded soldiers lying close to death. I could sense the excitement that Alonso felt, each and every time fate or his own calling brought him to a new path, a new sea voyage. He loves his wife Maria, whom he has left behind on shore, yet, he cannot resist the temptations of new adventures and the lure of becoming wealthy.

My favourite character in this book is Pedro, who is what we in the modern world may call a maverick - he does have a tendency to speak his own mind, to behave rationally and get into trouble. He questions things, such as why are slaves ill-treated? He decides to continue with the same ship and crew that Alonso, Philip, and Antonio had first embarked upon. The other three move on.

As the book moves on, even Antonio decides to stay back with a woman he met at a tavern. Then it is just Alonso and Philip who remain to embark upon the open sea on newer adventures. Through his journeys, Alonso continues to evolve as a more mature person. As their journey goes on, Philip unfortunately dies in battle.

Alonso, moves on towards achieving his goal. His goal is best elucidated in this sentence when he is questioned about his objective in life: Yes, I have a goal to make my wife proud. I want to return to her, in two years time, with a fortune. I want to settle down and be happy. I feel I am on the right road to reach that objective."

Just before he is to set sail for Manila, a voyage that promises him tons of riches, he runs into an elderly Oriental woman. She predicts: You will get treasures, but not the treasures you have chosen.

As the title of the book indicates, Alonso is the sole survivor of this voyage. He finds himself on a beautiful island. Here the tribes live for today, they soak in the sun, they surf on the waves, there is sharing and caring and laughter.

The last sentence of the book is poignant. Alonso remarks: I made it to where they share food and ride the waves. I made it to my new home which is Owhyhee (Hawaii).

This book made me think. How many of us are caught up in this corporate rat race. Just like Alonso we want to attain a goal, be it riches or promotions. In our race towards these, we forget to be happy.

It was a very interesting book and I enjoyed reading it.

Interview with the author:

1) Tell us something about your own journey in writing this book?

Strong Roads A Spanish-Shipwreck Survivor in Ancient Hawaii was written over a nine-month period. There was one stage where I was here

Sometimes, I would voluntarily leave my host farms, because of bumping heads with the land owners. One WWOOF farm placed me in a goat pen exposed to the elements. I was there only for three nights. Another farmer asked me to clean her house. I left that night with no where to go. Also, I would find myself doing work exchange in hostels, only to get fired from 100 percent of them. Nonetheless, through the poverty, I kept writing the story on my laptop. I began the sequel and completed Strong Roads Blues and Greens and Blood fifteen-months later. Many people do not believe I wrote a part of the story in a tropical jungle. My laptop would be connected to a solar panel and an inverter. I can explain such behavior simply, I wanted to write something that is my view of the world and I refused to let obstacles stop me. I could go on and on discussing the story behind writing my story, but my work is first.

2) I understand that you now have a full time day job, but do you plan to continue writing?

To stop writing would mean to die, honestly. We each have something in us that is a gem. It is there from our beginnings and moves us forward until our end. I believe these passions, purposes, or skills are to us genetically dealt. My great-grandfather whom I am named after partially, Edward Marshall Scull, was a writer for example.

3) What's your next book project?

The sequel is titled Strong Roads Blues and Greens and Blood. Alonso Truylos finds himself in Sixteenth Century Hawaii. The 'King' of the island grants Alonso aristocratic status. Luxuries are given to him by the highest echelon of the kingdom. When a morganatic relationship develops with a high-class woman, jealousy towards Alonso Truylos ensues. His deep friendships are destroyed and at the same time war breaks out between the royal brothers who control the polity. Alonso Truyos is forced into exile away from society, for his own safety. And it is here, where Alonso Truylos must make a spiritual decision. And that decision is special

Author's Bio: Gordon Edward Marshall Thomas (G.E.M. Thomas) graduated from the Pennsylvania College of Technology in May 2009. Upon receiving his Bachelor's degree in Paralegal studies, he moved to Hawaii. Once in Hawaii, he traveled from place to place for a year while writing this novel. G.E.M. Thomas learnt about the stories of the Spanish in Hawaii, before Captain James Cook's expedition, because of his interest in reading history books. He also developed his writing ability from his work in the paralegal field.

UPDATE: G.E.M. Thomas is seeking crowd funding for his next book, won't you please hop across and see if you can contribute.

Source of the photograph:
Downloaded from Flickr and used as per the terms of the Creative Commons License

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Dirty Secret

Title: The Dirty Secret
Author's Website: Brent Wolfingbarger

Author's Page on: GoodReads
Available on Amazon (including Kindle edition) and other sites

Gist on GoodReads: The difference between victory and defeat in the Electoral College comes down to 259 votes in West Virginia. A state senator desperately fights back against a lawsuit that is pushing his family’s company toward bankruptcy.A vice presidential candidate’s adulterous affair threatens to explode in his face and burst into the world’s headlines with devastating consequences. A ruthless billionaire will stop at nothing to avoid facing justice for his crimes. A small town prosecutor stumbles upon a plot to win the election by any means necessary: High-tech manipulation of electronic voting machines, creative interpretation of arcane election laws, bribery, blackmail and even murder.

And Rikki Gudivada and Dave Anderson – two star-crossed former lovers from opposite sides of the political fence – are drawn back together as the battle rages for West Virginia’s 5 electoral votes, racing to solve a murder that imperils the very heart of America’s constitutional system while each struggles over the same question:Is anything more important than winning the White House?

My views:

This teaser on GoodReads just made me want to read this books. It is election season in the USA and the war between the Republicans and the Democrats is hotting up. There is no better time to pick up this book, than NOW. And on having finished reading this book, all I can exclaim is: WOW!!!

Brent Wolfingbager, the author, has managed to capture the undercurrents of the political scene extremely well. Of course, his bachelors' degree in political science, his experience as an attorney which also involved fighting two election law cases appears to have come in very handy.

Remember what happened in Florida between Bush and Gore way back in 2000? To refresh your memory click here.

The main crux of this book is also re-counting, in the quaint State of West Virginia. This is my favourite 'lawyering' paragraph in the book:

"If the board of canvassers is unable to accurately correct such errors made by the said device or equipment and therefore cannot correct th returns to accurately reflect the actual votes cast at such election, the total votes recorded or tabulated on such device or equipment, despite the fact that such vote may be erroneous, shall be accepted as the votes cast."

The tension just intensifies. In this backdrop, thrown together to ensure fairness prevails are ex-lovers lawyer Dave Anderson and newly-appointed Prosecutor Rikki Gudivada (readers back home, will enjoy the India touch). Rikki emerges as a strong, intelligent, highly respected woman who is reaching her forties and yet can make heads turn. She is comfortable in her own skin, and yet, is very much at home in close knit West Virginia.

But, the 'dirty secrets' were not limited to just the recounting of votes, as the GoodReads synopsis well indicates. Multiple plots unfolded at a very fast pace, leaving me gripping and wondering what next.

I only wish that the author (perhaps in an appendix) had provided an idea to non-American readers on how the US votes for its President. Not all may be familiar with the Bush v/s Gore episode which had made world headlines. One also needs to concentrate a bit while reading this book, because of the multiple characters (each extremely well depicted and each having an important role to play) and the multiple plots.

This book is not meant for a casual flippant read. But then, political thrillers, such as these with the right mix of political intrigue, romance, suspense, scandal and even a murder are not written everyday.

If you cannot pick this political thriller now, remember to do so later, it is a book you will not regret reading.

While this book has an American setting, it is one which all readers will enjoy. After all adulterous affairs by politicians, rigging of electronic voting machines, family business entities run by politicians are issues that hit headlines in many countries, including India.


1) Can you explain the process of electing a President in USA to our non-US blog readers?

Americans use an 'indirect' method to elect our President. The two main political parties (the Democrats and the Republicans) each nominate a candidate based on the results of primary elections and caucuses in the various states. Smaller political parties such as the Greens and the Libertarians also nominate candidates who may appear on the ballot in some of the states, but historically, third party candidates have rarely had much of an impact on the final results.

Under the U.S. constitution, we have an institution that is informally called 'The Electoral College' which determines who becomes president. Each state is given a number of electors that is largely based upon the size of its population, and each state has at least three electors. The District of Columbia also has three electors, and altogether there are a total of 538. The number of electoral votes assigned to each state changes every 10 years based on the most recent census results; thus, some states (like Texas) have gained electoral votes since the last election in 2008, while others (like New York) have lost electoral votes.

In November, Americans go to the polls in their respective states and cast their votes, they are technically voting for slates of electors nominated by the political parties’ state executive committees. Those people are the ones who actually elect the president and vice president when they cast their ballots in the Electoral College. Essentially, the presidential candidate who wins the most votes in a particular state will receive that state’s number of votes in the Electoral College, and the candidate who receives a majority of the votes in the Electoral College (at least 270) will become president the following January 20.

One important caveat: There are absolutely no federal laws which require an elector in the Electoral College to actually vote for the candidate he has pledged to support. Although somewhere around 24 states have passed state laws intended to prevent their electors from acting in this 'faithless' manner, the U.S. Supreme Court has not ruled on the constitutionality of such laws. And West Virginia (where this story is set) is one state where no such laws prohibiting 'faithless' electors exist.

For a more in-depth explanation, feel free to check out Wikipedia’s article on the Electoral College.

2) What prompted you, to pen a book? In the realm of writing, what are your immediate future plans?

I’ve always been interested in politics, and my experience handling election law cases served to heighten my awareness as to the myriad of ways that a very determined group of people could corruptly influence the results of an election. Thus, the seed for The Dirty Secret was planted in my brain.

3) Who is your favourite character in this book and why?

I’d have to say 'Silent' Doug Vaughn, the one-eyed Sheriff of Pleasants County. I really love Silent Doug because he is an enigma throughout most of the book. A big, strong, by-the-book law enforcement guy who isn’t much of a talker, he keeps his nose to the grindstone and gets his job done without much fanfare. However, there’s an air of mystery about him – especially when it comes to his missing left eye – and readers tend to be quite curious about him, wondering exactly what role he will play when the drama reaches its crescendo. Slowly disclosing Silent Doug’s backstory, setting the stage where his key role is revealed, was one of the most satisfying parts of writing the book for me.

4) I bet your legal background was of an immense help while writing this book. To what extent was your legal experience helpful?

It was crucial. I’m blessed to have handled a wide variety of cases in the course of my legal career, and my specific experience handling election law disputes, criminal cases and oil and gas matters played a major role in making the book a realistic read. In fact, all of the statutes, regulations, judicial cases and constitutional provisions cited in The Dirty Secret accurately reflect the body of law governing American presidential elections as of February 2012, particularly those which govern post-election legal proceedings in the State of West Virginia.

5) And on a light hearted note, if you were nominated in the running for the President of the United States, what would your electoral message focus on?

Eradicating our national debt, which I think represents the biggest threat to America’s national security. Maybe we should just lock up all the members of Congress in a room full of rabid weasels, and only let them out after they figure out how to balance the budget. Of course, it would probably help matters if the Senate could actually be bothered to pass a budget (balanced or otherwise), which it has pathetically failed to do since April 29, 2009.

6) Which genre of books do you love to read and who is your favourite author?

I have an eclectic taste in books. My non-fiction interests including American and world history, current affairs, biographies and emerging technologies. On the fiction side, I gravitate toward political thrillers, alternative history, science fiction, and some stuff that is hard to classify within a particular genre, like Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle series. There’s no way I could designate just one author as my all-time favorite. But I would definitely include Neal Stephenson, Stephen Ambrose, Stephen Coonts, Harry Turtledove, Ben Coes, Robert Heinlein and Eric Flint as top contenders.

7) Many wannabe writers, who hold full time jobs in other fields complain that they just don't find time to write. How do you fit in your writing, in your otherwise busy schedule as an attorney?

It's really a matter of making it a priority, and thankfully I have a wife who is willing to support my creative writing ventures. Naturally, writing has to take a back seat to my day job as a prosecutor, and to my fatherhood duties. However, after we get home from the kids’ tae kwon do or swimming lessons and they're safely ensconced in bed, my wife will give me a kiss on the check and turn her attention to everything else that needs done around our house (laundry, cooking, etc.) so that I can sequester myself in front of the computer and start cranking out some pages. I'm a very lucky man to have such a supportive wife, and without having her in my corner, there's no way I could get it all done.

(Thank you Brent, for the book and for your interview. I learnt a lot about the US electoral process through your book and your replies to the interview questions)

Author's bio data:
Brent Wolfingbarger grew up in Belle, West Virginia, and graduated from DuPont High School. He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science at West Virginia University before receiving his law degree from the Washington & Lee University School of Law.
After a short stint working for a law firm in Elkins, West Virginia, Brent moved to Charleston and opened his own practice where he spent the next twelve years handling cases in a variety of fields including election law, civil rights, real estate, medical malpractice and oil and gas. He also argued before the West Virginia Supreme Court in extremely complex cases including two election law cases and a medical malpractice wrongful death case involving multiple physicians and drug manufacturers.
In 2006, Brent accepted a position as an assistant county prosecutor, where he spent over five years prosecuting the full spectrum of cases including murder, sexual assault and computer-related crimes. During this time, he actively focused on issues related to the acquisition, analysis and use of digital evidence in criminal cases and he served as a liaison to the West Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force.
Brent lives in Washington, DC with his wife and two children where he continues to work as a prosecutor, evaluating complex allegations of fraud committed by health care providers and durable medical equipment companies against the Medicaid program, and prosecuting violent crimes committed against elderly and disabled victims. In this capacity, he regularly works on task forces involving multiple law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the United States Attorney’s Office.

Source of the Photograph: Downloaded from Flickr and used as per the terms of the Creative Commons License.
The small icon of the WhiteHouse is the twitter image provided - yes, the White House has a twitter account