Interview with Author Lois W. Stern

My guest today is Lois W. Stern.  Hello, Lois!  Welcome back to Writing in the Modern Age!  It’s such a pleasure to have you again.

Can you tell us a little bit about your latest book? latest book is the second in a series of TALES2INSPIRE™ books. It’s title is Tales2Inspire ~ The Topaz Collection. It’s an anthology of winning stories of Awakenings & Aha Moments. Not only are these stories  inspiring, but the power of each of them is enhanced by the inclusion of original, author owned photographs. My third book in this collection, Tales2Inspire ~ The Sapphire Collection will include Inspiring Stories that Echo In the Mind. This whole project is keeping me very busy, but in a fun, exciting way.

Is there anything specific that inspired you to write The Topaz Collection?

Sure. I had published two full length books on physical beauty and I really wanted a change of pace. I started blogging about what I call “Inner Beauty” stories, stories that have the power to enrich the spirit and warm the heart. I loved writing them and readers seemed to enjoy reading them. So the rest, as they say, is history. My third Tales2Inspire book is almost ready for publication and a fourth one is in the works

You told me something else very interesting about the reason you created Tales2Inspire.  Would you tell our readers about that?

Well, I had been giving a lot of thought to the problems many talented writers are having today in getting recognized for their talents. That elusive word ‘discovery’ haunts us all. I began to think about what I could do to help other authors and at the same time help myself. And that’s when I began to create Tales2Inspire™, my Authors Helping Authors project/contest.

This book is a bit different from those written by other authors I have interviewed.  Can you explain what makes it unique?

Sure. Although I write a few stories in each collection myself, most of them are written by the winners and finalists in this contest. An interesting part of Tales2Inspire is that it really is designed to help authors improve their writing.
Please explain how this helps other authors become better writers.

Each author whose story has been accepted into the competition, judges three other approved stories anonymously using a click, click, click Jotform method. There are only three questions for them to score. For example, “How strongly did this story inspire you?” on a scale of 1 to 5  Then at the end of the form, I ask the question: “Unless you gave this tale a perfect score, give this author at least one idea of something they might consider doing to improve it.” 
So, what happens next?

I total the scores and find the average. All those writers whose scores fall in the 90th percentile or above become winners, 80th - 90th percentile, the finalists, etc. I compile the critiques for each author and send them back to them along with their award status. I encourage them to use the information to edit their work if they choose to do so. I also tell them if I would publish their story if they made some changes. Some stories require very little editing. Some need more, mostly in the area of organization and sticking to one single theme.
Can the authors really be unbiased when judging their competition?

I’m so glad you asked that question, Marie. That’s the beauty of this project. I make it very clear that awards are based on score averages, so there is no single Winner or Finalist. If twenty stories achieved score averages in the 90th percentile range, we would have twenty winners. But that has never happened. Actually I find that the judges are very fair, and this year in particular, the critiques were excellent, so on target. I should also mention that if one judge’s scores are out of line with the other two judges, I have a fourth author judge that story and take the average of four scores instead of three.
What about the "Authors Helping Authors" part?  What are you doing to help your winning authors?

Well, for one thing, their stories get published, with their photo, name and mini autobiography posted at the end of their story. That’s a nice credential to have. And my graphic designer puts each of their head shot photos on the back cover of the book, with their name and title of their story They also get listed on as one of the authors. That’s another nice credential. I promote them on my website, Facebook page, my blog and YouTube channel, so they are really getting some great PR.
It sounds like you work really hard on this project.  Dare I ask how much it costs to enter a story into Tales2Inspire?

My husband thinks I’m a bit crazy, Marie, because I don’t have an entrance fee. It’s free. It’s just become my passion and I’m enjoying every minute of it. Well almost every minute! 

Great!  So, when does the next contest begin and and what themes are you looking for this time?

Actually this is the first time I am not listing an entry and deadline date. That’s because I want to get stories for the fourth book, Tales2Inspire ~ The Ruby Collection - Gifts of Compassion as soon as possible.  
Readers, here is the blurb for Tales2Inspire:  The Topaz Collection.

Some experiences provide us with fleeting memories. Others give us ‘Awakenings’, those Aha Moments that suddenly bring us clarity of vision, fresh new perspectives, revelations on how to live more meaningful lives. Watch your personal awakenings unfold as you read this collation of powerful stories.
Here is an excerpt from "As I Am", the most poignant story of a quadriplegic six year old boy and his therapist.



Dr. Karen Hutchins Pirnot

 It was Christmas Eve, 1987 and I was not where I wanted to be.  I walked into the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) of the local hospital and inhaled deeply at the misery before me.  Children hung on perilously to a life that appeared to rest tenuously on a cliff to nowhere. 
I was escorted to Garret’s room.  I entered and immediately held back a gasp, bit my lower lip and looked at the floor.  I had never before seen such human devastation.
The tiny child in the bed asked me, “Why are you looking at the floor.”
He was a charming child with tubes attached to him and a ventilator that made a noise that seemed to challenge death itself.  I said to the child, “Garret, I’m Dr. Pirnot.  Dr. Mark wanted me to meet you.  I’m not sure what to do but I want to help make things better.”

He looked at me in such a direct manner that I instantly knew this child had aged a lifetime in the eight months since the accident which left him quadriplegic and ventilator-dependent for life.  He said simply, “I have a really bad tummy ache.”

My heart fluttered and my eyes danced. Unknowingly, Garret had provided a clue to the healing of his soul.  He had told me his tummy hurt and I knew that he could feel nothing below his neck.  The hurt was in his brain and I knew just enough about that to begin to think I might play a part in his healing.
Being a Clinical Psychologist, I was also trained in hypnosis.  I immediately asked Garret to close his eyes and go to a place of comfort.  He chose the beach.  I described all the sounds of the beach as well as the olfactory sensations.  Garret began to feel the warmth of the sun on his face and he asked to go into the warm Gulf waters of Florida.  He asked to hold his mother’s hand as he walked into the waters.  He stayed until he was satiated with warmth and love.
When the relaxation imagery was ended, the stomach ache was gone and Garret was amazed.  He asked how I did that and I told him I did nothing.  I told him I only spoke words and that his mind did the healing.  For the first time since his devastating injuries, he had a sense that his life was not totally out of his control.
Garret told me he wished he could hug me and I immediately thought about therapeutic boundaries.  I leaned down and placed my head on his left shoulder.  I told Garret he could hug me by turning his head and making contact with my head.   He did just that and, at that moment in time, we began our seven year adventure together.

Wow!  How inspiring!
Now we have some general questions for Lois.
When reading, do you prefer traditional printed books or ebooks?  And why?

I find both e-books and printed books have their advantages and disadvantages. I love taking an e-book to the beach, on an airplane, even in the car if I’m not the driver! I don’t have to worry about pages getting wet or all messed up and it is so light weight for travel. I also enjoy the feature of being able to enlarge the print to my preferred size. Another great advantage is to be able to either purchase an e-book from anywhere at any time and watch it zip right onto your wireless device. I have also borrowed e-books from the library, right from the comfort of my home. I still find that amazing! But here is the downside to e-readers. Although you can bookmark pages that you want to refer back to, it’s just not the same as when you hold a physical book in your hands and place real bookmarks between pages you want to return to. Another disadvantage, the electronic books don’t have page numbers. When I join in a discussion with my book group, I can’t say, “Take a look at paragraphs 3 and 4 on page seventy-nine." 

I agree.  I have to admit that I am partial to physical books.  
So, what are you reading now? 

I just finished reading Dr. Bernie Sieigel’s newest book, The Art of Healing. The book was great, but I felt I was at a real disadvantage in reading it on my Kindle.  An important part of this book is learning how to interpret drawings. But the drawings are placed at the beginning of the book and discussion about them, later on. If I had been reading from a physical book, I would have been able to flip back and forth as he referred to those pages, but not so with the e-reader.
Thank you for visiting us today, Lois, and bringing information about your contest, your book and your thoughts on the book industry these days.
Author Bio
After completing my first two books on aesthetics (Sex, Lies and Cosmetic Surgery & Tick Tock, Stop the Clock ~ Getting Pretty on Your Lunch Hour), I began writing what I call my "Inner Beauty" stories - inspiring stories to touch the heart and soul. Tales2Inspire ~ The Emerald Collection (Beyond Coincidence stories) is the first in a four book series. Tales2Inspire ~ The Topaz Collection (Stories of Awakenings & Aha Moments) is also published and the Sapphire and Ruby Collections are in the works. 

My innate curiosity about potentially fascinating human beings was the spark that propelled me to initiate my Tales2Inspire™ "Authors Helping Authors" project/contest. I wanted to give writers from across the globe that opportunity to share their most inspiring stories. One of my goals is to help these talented authors build solid platforms and get some recognition for their skills. I also wanted to create an alternate path for those of us seeking ways to strengthen our opportunities for discovery. 

You can learn all the details at and even read many of the stories on my blog at www.tales2inspire/inspiring stories.

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