Posted in audio books, Book Review

On The Corner of Hope and Main

by Beverly Jenkins Narrated by Lynnette Freeman

Citizens of Henry Adams, Kansas are in the midst of a mayoral election. Trent July has been mayor for the past four years since Bernadine Brown purchased the town online and brought about much change for the small, historically black town built by freedmen. They are once again fighting those who would betray their trust and steal their homes and land. In this awesome, Blessings tale, Beverly Jenkins shows us that might does not make right, and often it is the humble and meek who bring about change and who are the true heroes of the day.

I loved this story with it’s mix of older and younger characters. Ms. Jenkins gives us romance, intrigue, suspense, friendship, and inspiration. In Henry Adams we see what a small town could be like if everyone works together for the greater good. She also shows us the mistakes we make as humans, are failings and shortcomings but how we can overcome these to be better and stronger. Her positive female characters with their strength and courage

As I listened to this story, I dreamed of what I could do in my own small town if only I had the money and opportunity. Like Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech, I too have a dream of saving my hometown and making it a place where all children, all people live together in harmony.

Ms. Jenkins gives us a map of what it could be like if we could create our town and give its inhabitants safe places to live, share and seek solace. Henry Adams, Kansas is as close to paradise as we on earth can hope for and I’d love to live there.

Posted in Creekside Cafe, interview

Creekside Cafe Chat with Kevin E. Eastman

Kevin at the podium

It is an honor to welcome former Air Force drill instructor, Kevin E. Eastman to my virtual café. It is so good to have you here.

Kevin: Thank you so much for having me. It’s a pleasure to speak with you.

Sherri: My father served in the Air Force, thank you for your service to our country. You are still serving with your books. Your latest book “Don’t Gamble on Life Improvement… Until You Shift the Odds” (Second Edition) is a self-help book. Tell us a little about how you came to write it. What happened in your life that made this book important for you to write?

Kevin: I appreciate the thanks, and the support. Yes, I served over 20 years in the Air Force, a good portion of my adult life, and truly believe it was one of the best decisions I’ve made. I’m grateful for the experiences I’ve been afforded as a result of my Air Force service, and as well as the people like your dad, who served before me, and paved the way.

What inspired my book? Well, my book was “born” as a result of many of my personal experiences. Life wasn’t going according to my plan, and I needed to figure out why. I didn’t like the place I was at in life and knew I didn’t want to continue on that course. Thanks to some wonderful mentors, and through some painful, but necessary self-assessments, I was able to “crack the code,” and it opened up an entirely new perspective. As I was reading what started as personal essays for my own use, I figured I couldn’t be the only person who could benefit from the lessons I learned. So, I decided to publish of few of them.

Sherri: You say this book is for anyone who has faced obstacles, but that’s everyone. Surely your book isn’t for everyone?

Kevin: I truly believe there is something in my book for everyone, either directly or indirectly. I like to say, if someone reads my book, and feels they don’t need anything in my book, they will know someone who does needs something in it. Everyone encounters obstacles; some more than others. Many obstacles hinder some people, yet avoid others entirely. The message of my book is about examining your mindset, in order to get over those obstacles. The topics I discuss in the book are the ones I believe contribute most to the chaos we encounter in life. Naturally, there are many obstacles I may have missed, but the overall message is learning how to develop what I call an “inside out” mentality. When things go wrong, check you out, first. If you are okay, then look for outside causes. Many people will look for an outside cause first, and the problem may never get resolved. What I’ve learned is, most of the obstacles I’ve encountered where only as large as I made them in my head. Learning how to simplify circumstances was the “magic formula” I needed.

Sherri: “Simplify circumstances” you are definitely preaching to me. Looks like I need to purchase a book.

You have degrees in business and marketing. What do you think is the biggest marketing challenge for small business owners and authors especially?

Kevin: As a marketing major, I say this with fair amount of confidence. Many business owners, and authors in particular either don’t realize, or simply refuse to acknowledge the fact that marketing in itself, is at best, a crapshoot. The only part of the process you own is the quality of your product, and the message for its usefulness. Anything beyond that point is out of your control. Your job is to create and produce the best product you can and relay a message to a potential customer of how your product can satisfy a need they may have. You have zero control over whether the customer spends their money on your product. Therefore, I think the biggest challenge is breaking through the “ice” a potential customer may have created. Creating an effective message is essential to achieving this.

Sherri: My dad had a saying, I’m not sure where he got it from but I call it a Jimmy-ism (my dad’s name was James we called him Jimmy), “Scared money don’t make money.” In your book, you have a chapter on “A Fear of Winning,” I’ve been afraid of losing but I’m not sure if I’ve ever been afraid of winning. Explain what you mean by that.

Kevin: Well, to understand that, you must realize, the title of the book, as well as the title for several chapters are largely metaphoric. The chapter you referenced catches many people off-guard, and that’s exactly what I designed it to do. Of course, everyone likes winning. The “fear” I discuss is a figurative one, in which many people (myself included, at one point) become so “afraid” of winning, they engage in activity and behavior they know won’t end well. Why? It gives them something to blame their misfortune on, other than their mindset. It alleviates the pressure of seeing themselves as the obstacle they need to overcome.

Sherri: I have seen this mindset not just in others but in myself. From someone who has lived most of their life, afraid of trying, I can relate to your premise, that fear handicaps us. How do we stop being afraid?

Kevin: Fear, like all every other emotion, affects people differently. It is the ability to keep them under control as much as possible that makes them easier to manage, and that is an important task, if you discover the need to adjust your mindset. The most effective method to think about this, at least in my mind, is remembering something I was taught: “Identify the things that scare you, and do them anyway, because you stand to gain the most by conquering them.” It’s okay to be afraid, as long as it doesn’t prevent you from achieving a goal you’ve set. Then, it becomes an issue. How do you stop being afraid? You just stop! I know…it’s easier said than done, but you facilitate it by putting the obstacle you’re facing in perspective. You will that many of the things you’re afraid of are not as bad as your brain makes them appear. Your perception controls a lot more than you may realize.

Sherri: On a personal note, you are a positive role model for young men, especially young men of color. What would you like to say to the graduating class of 2020? If you were the keynote speaker for a high school or college graduating class, what would you want them to take away from your speech?

Kevin: Thank you for that. I try to act as a role model, because someone was a role model for me. I would tell the class of 2020: Challenges and obstacles are part of life, so get used to them. Some may be harder than others, and sometimes, they may make you feel like giving up, but you can’t. This year put a damper on a lot of things, in ways we never could have imagined. This is why it’s important for you to create goals and strive to achieve them. Among you, are the people who do the research to eradicate the Corona Virus, as well as the discovery and invention of other things! All you need is an avenue and the tools to get you to the place where you can do your thing.

Keep pushing though it seems impossible, because “impossible” becomes reality with continued effort. Remember this: at one time, automobiles, airplanes, elevators, cell phones, and light bulbs were considered “impossible,” too! Remember this, and it took me nearly 30 years to figure out: YOU are your only limit! If you want a goal, do your research, make a plan, and get after it… PERIOD!

Sherri: What separates the winners from the losers in business or in life?

Kevin: I’d like to think that there are no “losers” in life, per se, though some people’s action may warrant that distinction. Given the scenario as written, I’ll say what separates the two, are the decisions they make based on the circumstances they’re dealt, and the effort they’re willing to spend in order to reach a goal. Some people rise to the occasion, and overcome the obstacles in the way, while others are stopped in their tracks. It depends on your perception of the obstacle standing between you and the goal. Your desire to get to the goal, must be great than the obstacle’s ability to defeat you. I was always taught, that a person doesn’t really “lose” until they decide to stop trying.

Sherri: I agree 100% If we are passionate about something we need to keep trying until we find that sweet spot that feels like our own personal success. Sometimes we have to go back to the beginning and start over but we have to keep believing that’s the difference between winning and losing. Trying.

What do you wish you’d done differently when you first published your book?

Kevin: The one thing I would have done differently is publicized the book further in advance of its release. The feedback I’ve gotten since its release has been great, and well appreciated, but in retrospect, I would have started promoting it much sooner.

Sherri: Do you have any plans to write in any other genres? Have you considered writing a book geared to a younger audience?

Kevin: Interesting question. As a writer, I have stories of all kinds swirling in my head, so it’s hard to say. I do have an idea for a fiction story, so I may just give it shot. Surprisingly, I haven’t given a thought to writing a YA book, but who knows what the future holds?

Sherri: What would you like people to take away from today’s interview?

Kevin: I want the people who read this interview to know that my book is written to help people, just as I was helped…. by simplifying obstacles. It isn’t always easy to admit that you may need help, and I know that from first-hand experience. The moment I learned how to get out of my own way, a brand-new perspective was shown to me. The journey to improvement isn’t an easy task, but it is a winnable one, when you have the right tools. Perhaps, one of the lessons I’ve learned can help make someone else’s journey easier. I enjoy getting notes and emails from supporters and readers. Hearing about their successes lets me know that my words are helping other people.

Sherri: Thank you Kevin for joining me at my virtual café. If you enjoyed our chat be sure to check out Kevin’s books and follow him on social media. His links are listed below:

My book is available through major online book retailers (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Tolino), or direct on my website.