Virtual Book Tour – Nicole Benoit-Roy

Today, author Nicole Benoit-Roy stops by my blog as part of her What I Gain Through His Pain Virtual Book Tour. This Christian non-fiction came out in July.


Something Fishy

Daddy practiced Voodoo, but even as a child I considered it foolish. During summer vacations in Haiti, the family expected my sister, my next younger brother and me to go to Lèogane. As the summer months drew to a close, my father lined up every child in the house to bathe us with a special Voodoo water made with crushed leaves.

As I got older (though not much older), I grew to detest the act and so I decided not to go on vacation anymore. I thought it ridiculous to allow myself to be bathed with stinky water. I never believed in the Voodoo stuff either. I had a good sense of who I was since early childhood. I knew God made me, and no evil could harm me (Now I know evil can’t touch me without His permission). That knowledge made me very bold and never afraid of any Voodoo stuff. My father had a special table with a white small washbasin and other Voodoo items on it. No one was supposed to touch them. However, on many occasions, I pretended to be cleaning just to touch and rearrange everything on that table. I held no fear. I just knew they lacked any authority over me. It’s weird though, no one told me that Voodoo held no potency. It was always a gut feeling. I was always very bold about expressing my belief every chance I got.

My father use to hold Voodoo ceremonies where kids in the house were expected to eat out of special wooden bowls. All that I shunned eventually. Because my brother Kesnel and sister Carol were twins, the ceremony held every year honored the twins (a Voodoo ritual) even though Carol died as a baby. Those were the kinds of things that made no sense to me, leading me to refuse to take part in them as soon as I grew old enough to say no. With me so hardheaded and strong-willed, no one in my family could force me to take part once I said no. Not even my father.

On one occasion, something terrible happened in my family, causing my father to be the focus of suspicion. I felt his pain afterward. He needed so much to have someone on his side. Unfortunately, not even his favorite little girl was willing to be that someone.

In desperation, one evening in Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, he pulled me aside. In a private conversation, he explained his own version of the incident after he visited my mother in the U.S. in 1982 for the first time.

He said, “Nicole, I know you’re getting older. You can understand what I’m about to tell you.”

I was 14 years old then.

“When I went to New York,” he continued, “I swear I did not take your mother’s soiled panties. It’s only after I came back to Haiti I saw them in my suitcase. I swear I did not take them.”

I listened attentively, but my eyes stared at the cement floor as we sat on the edge of my bed.

“You believe me, don’t you, my girl.” He held onto my left arm as if begging me to say yes.

I’d heard the rumor that he wanted to use her underpants to hurt my mother through witchcraft so often that I’d already made up my mind of his guilt.

My father returned to Haiti finding himself in an awkward predicament. At that age, I was naïve and awfully honest.

“Well, I can’t say whether you did it or not. I wasn’t there. You’re the only one who knows if you did it or not,” I said.

Suddenly, the look he gave me told me he wanted another answer. His eyes turned red. His pain turned into hatred.

I knew then I was not his favorite little girl anymore and I would pay.

In retrospect, I realized I could have answered differently had I known better. I still feel his pain even now as I write about it.

As soon as my mother found out her panties were missing, she demanded that my father purchase a plane ticket and return them to her.

When he did, she burned them in his presence.

My father continued to make his regular weekly visits from Lèogâne bringing us fresh produce every time. Our relationship was never the same, however. At times, I’d purposely stayed away to avoid seeing him altogether, not showing up until after he left. He was the enemy of the family. He knew it. That made him very uncomfortable and angry.

During one of his visits, he threatened to beat me because I did not greet him. Of course I put up a fight. He tried to pin me to the ground. I escaped from his grip and ran to a nearby stony hill. I picked up a stone and made the motion to throw it at him, but an invisible power stopped me. I knew Who kept me from flinging the stone, and I’m glad He did. Deep down inside I really loved my father. I believed that he gave me so much love and attention that he made it possible to never feel insecure about myself.

During my college years at Stony Brook University in New York, our father-daughter relationship remained broken. I recall lying on the bed in my dorm room reminiscing about my childhood. My entire family lived in the U.S. by then. My mom and dad separated shortly after the panties incident, although they waited to divorce until eleven years later. I finally realized the pain my father must have gone through to have his whole family against him, and the pain he continued to feel every time he and I met.

“Look at Nicole, the daughter I loved so much. Now, she can’t even talk to me,” he sometimes said.

At that time, we were on greeting terms. As I empathized with my father, I decided to put an end to our broken relationship. I picked up the phone.

“Hello,” he said.

“Hi, daddy, how are you?” It felt uncomfortable saying “daddy” but I also realized that doing the right thing was never easy.

“Who’s this?” he asked.

“This is Nicole,” I said. “I just call to tell you that I love you. Bye.”

“Ok,” he said.

I hung up the phone, feeling a burden lift from my chest.

For the first time I began to understand the power of forgiveness. I still had a long way to go.

Our relationship continued to improve after that phone call. My father is now ninety-two years old, and I love him as if nothing ever happened between us.

The Bible says in Deuteronomy 5:16, “Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you.” (NLT). I desire to obey God’s Word. Through this experience, I learned that making mistakes is what we (humans) specialize in the most. What’s essential is that we learn from them.

Book Blurb

In a society filled with easy Christianity and cheap grace, Nicole Benoit-Roy takes her relationship with Christ to a much deeper level. Since becoming a Christian, she has been learning about her newfound Savior, Jesus Christ. She is an educator who vows to be a student for as long as she lives. The more she learns about the cross of Christ, the more she realizes the importance of it in her life. As she meditates on His suffering, she concludes that His pain is the reason for every blessing in her life. In this book, “What I Gain Through His Pain,” she shares her story about the benefit of the cross as she expresses gratefulness for His pain.

About the Author

Nicole is currently pursuing her doctoral degree in educational leadership at Andrews University. She directs the Children Ministries Department at her church. She works as a special education teacher by day, a literature evangelist by night, and writes during the wee hours of the night. She enjoys reading and playing the piano (beginner). Nicole struggled with college writing, which lead her to eventually drop out. For this reason, one of her many goals in life is to become a best-selling author to the glory of God. Nicole and her husband, Roosevelt Roy, have been married since 1994, and are the proud parents of a handsome brown-eyed son, Nolan. They currently live in Brooklyn, New York.

You can find out more about Nicole on her website or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

You can purchase What I Gain Through His Pain on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Today’s Featured Author – Geetanjali Mukherjee

Today I welcome non-fiction author Geetanjali Mukherjee to my blog. Her latest book, Anyone Can Get an A+, came out September of 2015. It is currently on sale for 99 cents through Feb. 19th. 


Where were you born and where do you call home?

I was born in Calcutta (now Kolkata), India. I moved around a fair bit, I have lived in Mumbai and moved to New Delhi just before high school. I have also lived for stints in the U.K. and the U.S. Currently, I call Singapore home.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

I do a combination of the two, in the sense that I have an outline, but it’s not too detailed, and I often deviate from it. For my most recent book Anyone Can Get An A+, I wrote out a list of topics I wanted to cover, and then started to write based on that. Many of those topics were later combined in one chapter, others were spread out, so the outline was quite fluid. I’m following a similar approach with the book I am writing now. On the other hand, for the novel I wrote during Nanowrimo last year, I started out with a very vague idea of the characters and the plot, and just wrote whatever occurred to me. About halfway through however, I was getting stuck and despairing of ever getting to the finish line, so I adopted author Rachel Aaron’s approach of writing down the main points of each scene before actually writing it. I found this helped me a lot, especially in the last few days when I was writing 4-5000 words a day to finish on time.

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?

I definitely believe that all my books have an aspect of my personality in them. I also feel I have gotten a little more confident with each book, no longer believing like I used to that the author needs to keep their personality or their real selves at arm’s length while writing. As a result, I think I have inserted more of my personality into each successive book. My current book, Anyone Can Get An A+, is full of anecdotes and personal experiences that illustrate how I personally applied the principles and advice in the book.

What is the best thing about being a writer? The worst?

The best thing is that you get to chase after an idea that you had, and bring something into the world that didn’t exist previously except only in your head. That’s pretty cool to me. The worst thing — everything else. Having to spend time alone for hours on end can be great for an introvert, until it isn’t. Having to wrestle with wondering if you can pull this off, with a constant sense of inadequacy, with having people look at you like you are a freak for spending your time writing, or worse, telling you how lucky you are, and how if they had the time, they too could have written a book. People assuming that somehow you are lazy for choosing to pursue your love of the written word, or envious of how easily it comes to you, when at least in my case, I work pretty hard at each book, all the while constantly battling the impostor syndrome. Having said that, I wanted to be a writer since I first walked into a bookstore and imagined my books on its shelves, and whether I do it part-time or full-time, I never want to give it up.

Please tell us about your current release.

My current release is a book on study skills and learning titled Anyone Can Get An A+: How To Beat Procrastination, Reduce Stress and Improve Your Grades. It is a conversational, down-to-earth guide for high school and college students on how to maximize their learning and get the grades they want. At the same time, since the advice in the book is based on extensive reading on cutting-edge research on neuroscience and psychology, I believe that it is equally applicable to adults going back to school, parents trying to homeschool their children and anyone looking to learn new skills or languages on the side.

What inspired you to write this book?

I wrote this book because I wanted to share the lessons I learnt from my own experiences as well as my research into the optimum ways to learn, and I realized that many students use sub-optimal methods to study and then blame themselves or think they are lacking in intelligence when they are unable to improve their grades in school. This is a serious issue, because many young people are resorting to extreme measures when unable to cope with the pressures of schoolwork and the need to get increasingly higher grades amidst tougher competition. My goal was to help students to deal with these pressures by providing advice that they could follow to not only help them with their assignments and test scores, but enable students to actually learn deeper and enjoy their schoolwork more, with less stress.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

I have been researching this topic for many years, because it was a particular interest of mine. Specifically, in the year or so before I wrote the book, I read books and numerous articles on study skills written by successful students and teachers, as well as research on how the brain works, how it learns and retains information and how we learn new skills. I also read a lot on psychology, on increasing productivity and time-management, and even on the effect of lifestyle factors such as nutrition on improved concentration and memory. I learnt many interesting things while researching this book, including exactly what happens in our brain when we learn something new, and how to transform something that we want to apply and use into a skill that we can tap into at will.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

I am about halfway through my next project. In keeping with the theme of writing about college and studying, it is a book of (hopefully) humorous essays on my time at university in England – basically documenting all the strange and incredible experiences I went through, being a foreign student in UK, navigating the challenges of college life in an alien environment. It’s actually something I thought about writing for a while, and finally decided that I had to either bite the bullet and write it, or decide to bury it in my pile of ideas.

Do you have an all-time favorite book?

This sort of question is very hard to answer, because I have a list of favorite novels that I love almost equally, and like to return to over and over, but the first one that springs to mind is Pride and Prejudice, which in my opinion is one of the most perfect novels ever written. I have very diverse interests when it comes to reading, and the close runner’s up would be the Harry Potter series, anything by Agatha Christie, the plays of Oscar Wilde, the Anne of Green Gables series and A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth. I could read any one of these books, and be completed cheered up, as well as transported to the time I first read them, in awe of characters and stories that are completely captivating in their own way.

If you could jump in to any book, and live in that world, which would it be?

I always felt like I was living in the wrong time, that I would be far more suited to a different century. I would love to live in the world of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, attending balls and discussing one’s neighbors. Failing that, like children everywhere, I would love to be a student at Hogwarts, and learn spells, befriend magical creatures and fight dark forces.

What book are you reading right now?

I am reading Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being. I have never read any of his books before, but I am loving this one so much, I can’t wait to read some of his others. I am also re-reading Gerald Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals, which I had read as a child. I bought a copy for myself a few months ago, and have been saving it – sometimes half the fun of reading a good book is the anticipation. I am also dipping into Marian Keyes’ collection of humorous essays, Under the Duvet, for inspiration – she is also one of my favorite authors.

If you could meet two authors, who would you pick and why?

I would pick Oscar Wilde and Jane Austen – I imagine both would be scintillating conversationalists – Wilde with a stream of witticisms, and Austen’s biting sarcasm and social commentary. Although I am not sure that I would like to have them in the same room, there might be verbal fireworks!

Book Blurb

Study Book 1.12Do you wish you could get better grades? Do you struggle with certain subjects and believe that maybe you’re not cut out for them? Do you want to spend less time studying and still get good grades? Maybe you think that some subjects are just not for you. Maybe you don’t like to study, because you secretly believe that you just don’t have what it takes, so why bother? Maybe you are a parent, worrying about your child’s grades, worrying whether they will be able to qualify for the opportunities you want for them. Studying for tests and exams can be stressful, not just for students, but also for teachers and parents. Grades in school exams and standardized tests can seem to determine your entire future, and yet many students are not able to get the grades they think they need to succeed.

Anyone Can Get An A+ is a conversational, down-to-earth guide for high school and college students on how to maximize their learning and get the grades they want. This book draws on research from the fields of psychology and neuroscience, and gives students practical advice that they can implement right away, to overcome procrastination, make the most of their study time and improve their grades significantly.

The book includes sections on how the right nutrition and diet can aid learning, how to organize your time and study schedule, how to keep track of all your deadlines and school-related paperwork, and how to overcome procrastination to complete your schoolwork on time. The author also discusses how students can incorporate the latest research on education and learning into their everyday study habits.

Anyone Can Get An A+ contains 39 tips on various aspects of studying and preparing for exams. In this book, you will learn:
• How best to prepare for exams
• What is the top mistake most students make when doing exam preparation and how to avoid it
• How to overcome procrastination and use your study time wisely
• How to break down larger assignments into smaller chunks
• How to write a paper
• How to use small segments of time effectively
• How to get help to understand difficult material

This book includes techniques that work for both high school and college students. Although some of the examples used may resonate more easily with college students, it is never too early to start good study habits, and many of the tips translate equally to high school and college. The author herself learnt many of these techniques while preparing for board exams in high school.

About the Author 

Geetanjali MukherjeeGeetanjali Mukherjee is the author of six non-fiction books, three of which are written for students. She has a background in law and public policy, with a keen interest in human rights and international relations. She has lived in four countries on three continents, can cook dishes from around the world, and loves to binge watch TV crime and medical dramas. Geetanjali’s latest book, Anyone Can Get An A+ is a guide for students struggling with the pressures of schoolwork, giving practical tips gleaned from the latest research in psychology, neuroscience and cognitive thinking.

You can find out more about Geetanjali on her blog or by following her on Twitter and Facebook.

You can purchase Anyone Can Get An A+ on Amazon. Remember it is on sale for 99 cents from today thru Feb. 19th.



Free E-book: Waves of Change – July 2-4

Get Waves of Change: How Tennessee’s Thousand-Year Flood Changed the Lives of a Survivor, a Rescue Professional, and a Family Grief Counselor for FREE on Amazon.

Here is an interview with one of the authors – MJ Plaster.

Author Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself. 

I’m freelance writer, editor and accidental author. I’m also a chaos magnet, and every time something unusual happens, family and friends have said, “You ought to write a book about [fill in the blank]. Tennessee’s Thousand-Year Flood provided an opportunity I could hardly refuse.

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?

What you see is what you get, and that comes through in the book. The other authors are equally genuine. We bared our souls for others who will travel our road because no one should feel alone when disaster strikes.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

Yes. One of my clients commissioned a piece based on my experiences at TWA and then encouraged me to write a book. I’ve started the project, a travelogue featuring some of the recipes that I begged, bought with a gargantuan tip, or recreated after many failed attempts. Seasoned travelers know that food is a window on the soul of the people and their culture.

What is the best and worst advice you ever received? (regarding writing or publishing)

The best advice I have ever received about anything I have ever wanted to do or be was, “You can do anything you want to do if you set your mind to it.” Thanks Mom. People have learned not to discourage me once I’ve made up my mind. I might talk about something for years, but eventually, I will do it. I don’t have time for negativity. The flood helped me winnow a lot of dead wood and negativity from my life. Who would have thought!

Please tell us about your current release.

Waves of Change is a nonfiction account of Tennessee’s Thousand-Year Flood as experienced by a survivor (me), a rescue professional (Melissa Riley) and a family grief counselor (Pam Hernandez-Kaufman). Our lives intersected during the aftermath of the flood, and we have remained friends. The reader will alternately laugh and cry, but none of it is by design—the story wrote itself. Much of the book reads like a story, but it’s all true. We’ve received comments that it’s really a manual on life. I suppose that’s because you can apply the lessons learned to any crisis. Ours just happened to be a flood.

What inspired you to write this book?

Certainly not a publishing a credit! I had just lost both parents. Sixteen months before the flood, my mother died unexpectedly. My father died four months to the day before the flood. So the flood was the final straw. Losing everything that remained of my life in the blink of an eye was devastating. I wrote as therapy. When Melissa and Pam suggested that we should write a book, I said, “My part’s already written,” or so I thought. I rewrote my portion twice as the anger dissipated—and it did—completely, thanks to writing.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

Not a scrap. I researched my options before the book came on my radar. The same is true for Pam and Melissa. They’re trained professionals, so they had the background to deal with this professionally, but you’ll learn that they were affected emotionally just like everyone whose lives were touched.

Can you tell us a little about the black moment in your book?

It was the moment the rescuers pulled me into the canoe and I realized Miss Fluff, my cat had bolted and drowned. It’s in the first chapter, and you can read it on Amazon.

If this book is part of a series, what is the next book? Any details you can share?

The next version will include interviews from other survivors, rescue professionals and grief counselors.

What was the most difficult thing/scene to write in this story?

The first chapter, which describes the morning of the flood up to the point where my rescuers drop me near the main road that runs through our condo development. I cry every time I read it. If you’ve ever seen one of those scenes where you’re in the front car of a roller coaster, that’s what the first chapter does. You’re right there in that rescue canoe, dodging lightning bolts on the way to safety, sobbing your eyes out, knowing that if you had only prepared properly…

Did the story turn out the way you planned from the beginning? If not, what change happened that you didn’t expect?

You touched on one of the major themes of the book. We can’t know what’s going to happen to us. It brings to mind the quote attributed to Dwight D. Eisenhower, “Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” Nothing illustrates that quicker than a natural disaster. Beyond that, you either use an experience such as the to grow—or not.

Book Description

Waves of Change: How Tennessee’s Thousand-Year Flood Changed the Lives of a Survivor, a Rescue Professional, and a Family Grief Counselor

WOCDo you wonder what it would be like to live through a natural disaster, to survive a flood, hurricane, tornado, or other weather event?

In the early morning hours of May 2, 2010, Tennessee experienced the worst and most costly non-coastal disaster in the history of the United States, dubbed the Thousand-Year Flood.

Waves of Change portrays the struggles and triumphs of a flood survivor, a rescue and recovery professional, and a family grief counselor as their lives intersected during the aftermath of the flood.

You’ll laugh at their tales, weep at their frustrations, and leave with a sense of empowerment, secure in the knowledge that natural disasters, in all their fury, are just a milestone along the path of life.

About the Author

mjMJ Plaster spent more than two decades traveling throughout Europe and North Africa, and she’s at home wherever she lands. Today, she spends her days spinning yarns as a brand journalist and weaving tales out of whole cloth, based on her experiences.

She became an accidental author when she co-authored Waves of Change, the story of Tennessee’s 1000-Year Flood from the perspective of a survivor, a rescue professional, and a family grief counselor.

When she’s not researching, writing, or editing or hounding editors, clients, or authors, you can find her practicing alchemy in her Nashville kitchen and garden, pretending to work out on her Total Gym, or chasing her next adventure somewhere between here and Timbuktu.

You can download Waves of Change for FREE from Amazon July 2-4, 2014.

Today’s Featured Author: Al Moe

Today I welcome Al Moe to my site. He is the author of the nonfiction book, The Roots of Reno.


Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m married, have four girls, and live a busy life in Arizona where I squeeze as much writing as I can into my daily routine. Usually about two hours.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I was playing poker in a casino when an idea for an article that related to poker came to mind. I went home, wrote the article, and submitted it to “Poker Player” magazine and it was accepted. The $50 didn’t make me feel like a writer though. I felt like a writer when The Roots of Reno was published and I started getting calls to do lectures on Reno and the town’s casinos. That was a thrill.

What fuels you as an author to continue to write?

Curiosity. I wanted to know the history of the Nevada gaming industry and who owned the first casinos, since I had started collecting old casino chips. There wasn’t much information out there, so I started collecting stories from magazines, newspaper articles, and interviews I conducted. Eventually I decided to do a book of my own.

Please tell us about your current release.

My book is called The Roots of Reno. It is a nonfiction look at the men who really started the saloons and gaming halls of early Reno and Lake Tahoe. They worked in the mining towns of Tonopah and Goldfield, Nevada before moving to Reno, and they are the ones who truly turned Reno into “The Biggest Little City in the World.”

How did you come up with the title?

I was stumped on the title, and told my friend, Roy Ritner about the book, and what I wanted the title to convey (beginning, growth, maturity of Reno) and he suggested the title.

Do you have a specific snack that you have with you when you write?

Just water. Eating distracts me from my project.

Do you have an all time favorite book?

Stephen King’s “On Writing” has given me hope, criticism, and improved my writing. Plus, it’s a fun autobiography of a very prolific writer.

Random fact: Writing is like therapy for me. If I miss my chance to write during the day I feel out of sorts and can’t wait for my “writer’s high” that comes with any good hour’s work.

Book Description

rootscoverReno was truly Hell on Wheels in the 1920’s. The rest of the nation considered the town Sodom and Gomorra, but that’s only half the truth. Reno offered everything in the way of adult entertainment, from speakeasy’s and houses of ill-repute, to open gaming – legal or not. And it took plenty of sins by the founding fathers to make Reno “The biggest little city in the world.”

When the gold-veins of Tonopah and Goldfield ran out, the casino owners moved to Reno, where even greater riches awaited. Together, a group of four men (Nick Abelman, Bill Graham, Jim McKay, George Wingfield) took over Reno’s casinos and held sway over the town for the next three decades.

Together they administered policy, collected juice, ran politicians, and owned the red-light district and most of the town’s casinos.

When that wasn’t enough they took over the banks and laundered money for crooks like “Pretty Boy” Floyd, Alvin Karpis, and Ma Barker’s boys, and offered safety to “Baby Face” Nelson. It was a good gig.

The Reno Four dictated policy all over Northern Nevada, taking special care of Reno and Lake Tahoe casinos up until the late 1950’s. Their influence made Reno before Bill Harrah or “Pappy” Smith ever arrived, needing an introduction and permission to build their own casinos, Harold’s Club and Harrah’s.

Author Bio

albertmoeAuthor Al W. Moe is a twenty-year veteran of the Nevada Gaming Industry. He writes Casino Gambling articles for magazines and web sites like and Examiner, and plays poker and blackjack in his spare time. He calls Lake Tahoe his first inspirational place to write and would like to retire there someday.

Find out more about him on his blog.

You can purchase The Roots of Reno on Amazon.