The Conversations We Never Had by Jeffrey H. Konis

the conversations we never had book coverThe Conversations We Never Had is a memoir / historical fiction novel, by Jeffrey H. Konis, that highlights the importance of family, history, and Jewish heritage.
When Jeffrey’s grandma died, he was left with a sense of guilt and profound regret for not having gotten to know her better.
“My father remembers nothing about his real parents. They were dead by the time he was nine. Olga, his mother’s younger sister, not only survived the Holocaust, but was able to find my father at his hiding place – a farm in Poland – and later brought him to America to raise as her own. In all that time, he never asked her any questions about his parents,” says Jeffrey. “I lived with Olga for over two years and she would have been able and willing to tell me about my real grandparents, my dad as a little boy and so much more had I simply asked the questions.  I never did.  Olga has been gone for more than twenty years, along with everything she could have told me. I wish I could go back and have a second chance to get to know her better and learn more about my family from the only person in the world who knew them and remembered them.” 
The Conversations We Never Had is a chronicle of Jeffrey’s time spent with his Grandma “Ola” and an imagining of the stories she might have shared had he only took the time to ask the questions. It is a heartwarming story that will leave you eager to spend time with your family and learn more about them before it’s too late.

 

Praise
The Conversations We Never Had is a book that will warm your heart and lead you toward the pursuit of love and gratitude for those who are part of your journey. Beautiful and inspiring, this book is highly recommended!” – 5 Stars, Readers’ Favorite
“The Conversations We Never Had is more than another Holocaust survival story: it’s a perceptive and examining survey of how ideals, thoughts, traditions and culture are handed down in families, surveying the types of questions asked and those left unsaid, and their impact. Readers of Holocaust literature and biography will find themselves drawn to the family and personalities surrounding Jeffrey H. Konis and will be particularly delighted to understand how Jewish traditions and family messages helped him shape his own decision-making process.” – Midwest Book Review

 

Excerpt from Chapter 2 – Grandma Ola and Me
Over the following days, I found myself picking up the old routine of going to classes, hitting the library, getting a slice or two for dinner, going home and hibernating in my room. Grandma would occasionally check on me, I think more than anything to make sure it was indeed me and not some wayward stranger. I felt bad not spending more time with Grandma the way I had that night when we talked about her dad, but I guess I was too tired after my long days or unsure how to restart the conversation. I knew Grandma was lonely, lonelier with me around than she would have been alone. Then there was something of a break in my schedule. It was the weekend after Thanksgiving and, caught up with all my work, I decided to spend some time with Grandma and talk. Late Saturday afternoon, after the caregiver had left, I approached her.
“I know it’s been awhile but I was wondering whether we could talk some more, if you’re up for it, that is.”
“Up for it? I’ve been ‘up for it’ for the last two weeks. What do you think, that I’ll remember these things forever? You think my memory will get better as I get older?”
“I know, I’m sorry. I’ve been busy with school and . . . .”
”Jeffrey, you barely say hello to me. How many grandmothers do you have anyways? Well?”
Interesting question but, of course, she was right. My maternal grandmother died when my mother was a young girl; I never knew her father, Grandpa Eugene, who died when I was two.
But Grandma Ola said something else that made me stop to think for a second: her memory would surely deteriorate, and in the not-too-distant future. Once that went, so did any chance of learning about my paternal grandparents. There was now a sense of urgency to my mission. Indeed, there were increasing signs that her mind was starting to slip.
The phone had rung, a few nights previously, and I gave Grandma first dibs to pick up the phone to see who it was, as this was pre-caller i.d. The phone kept ringing and I looked in on Grandma, who I knew was lying on the couch in her room. The scene upon which I stumbled was humorous, though it should not have been: there was Grandma, holding a pillow to her ear and talking into it, “Hol-low? Hol-low?” I quickly picked up the phone just as my dad was about to hang up. He often called to check on both of us, to make sure that we hadn’t yet killed each other, that we were still alive.
As willing as Grandma was to have me and as eager and grateful I was to live with her, we each had our own trepidations about this new living arrangement, this uncharted territory in which we were to find ourselves. Grandma Ola had taken in her first new roommate in over forty years. Grandma, I suspect, felt responsible for my well-being. For all she knew, I could be entertaining all sorts of guests and be a constant source of noise and irritation that she had been mercifully spared for so long. I, on the other hand, was moving in with an elderly woman whose mind was on the decline, someone for whose well-being I would be responsible. Not that Grandma expected this of me; then again maybe she did.
She had employed caregivers seven days a week from nine to seven, who would look after her needs, meals, laundry, baths, doctors’ visits, grocery shopping – everything. Grandma, who was a proud, independent woman, and did not wish to argue or appear unreasonable with these good- hearted people, particularly Anna, seemed to accept their help with graciousness and gratitude. Anna may well have a different story to share but this is what I had observed. Above all, Grandma was a realist; she was aware of her own limitations.
What did I add to this equation? Not a whole lot. I did provide Grandma with some psychological comfort in the evenings when I was home. Should some life-threatening event occur, a bad fall for example, I was there to help. My services had been called upon once in this regard, though the fall in question was more humorous than harmful.
I woke up to a yell from Grandma in the middle of one night. My first thought was that she was having a nightmare and ran to her room to check on her, only she wasn’t there. Puzzled, I was on my way to the kitchen but noticed the light was on in the bathroom. I knocked and opened the door a crack. “Grandma, are you in there? Are you okay?” I asked.
She cried that she wasn’t and asked for help. I walked in to find my grandmother stuck in the bathtub on her back from which she was unable to extricate herself. She explained that she had been about to sit on what she thought was the toilet, not realizing her error until it was too late. I scooped her up and carried her back to her bed. I made sure she was indeed okay and wished her goodnight.
I suppose I shouldn’t have found any of this humorous, that this was a sad result of aging, a dreaded process, and that I should have been more compassionate and understanding. True, I suppose, but my understanding under the circumstances consisted of making sure Grandma was all right, carrying her to bed and keeping a straight face through it all. But it was funny. The only thing that wasn’t so funny was that I would be exhausted in my classes the next day owing to my lack of sleep.
As her new roommate, I was also expected to provide Grandma with some company, particularly since she had recently lost her husband. My father, I knew, expected at least this much from me; I didn’t know, on the other hand, what she expected. She likely considered my presence a mixed blessing; I might be nice to have around but also something of an intrusion.

 

Author Jeffrey H. KonisAbout the Author
After practicing law for many years, Jeffrey Konis left the profession to embark on a career as a high school social studies teacher. His first book, From Courtroom to Classroom: Making a Case for Good Teaching, offers a unique perspective for teachers who seek to inspire their students to learn for the sake of learning.
His latest work, The Conversations We Never Had, is a memoir / historical fiction novel that was released in May 2016.
Jeffrey loves reading, collecting fine art photography, soccer – especially Liverpool F.C. – travel, and his family most of all. He currently resides in Goshen, New York with his wife, Pamela, and sons, Alexander and Marc.
Readers can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.
For further information, to request a review copy, or to set up an interview or appearance by Jeffrey H. Konis, please contact Kelsey McBride at Book Publicity Services at Kelsey@BookPublicityServices.com or 805.807.9027.

 

Organizing for Your Lifestyle: Adaptable Inspirations from Socks to Suitcases

Organizing for Your Lifestyle: Adaptable Inspirations from Socks to Suitcases Organizing for Your Lifestyle, by Jane Stoller, is a fun, inspiring guide to organizing all aspects of your life, from socks to suitcases.
Studies show that decluttering can not only reduce stress, but provides peace of mind and improves your mood. In Organizing for Your Lifestyle, you’ll learn the science behind organization and not only how to get organized, but how to stay organized.
“I’m constantly finding new ways to get and stay organized, and I love sharing these ideas with my friends and family,” says Stoller, “This book is about sharing what I know and what I’ve learned from organizing my own life and helping others organize theirs.”
The book is arranged (very meticulously, of course!) into common themes to help you organize your home. From the kitchen to the bathroom, Stoller shares ideas, advice and inspiration to help you lead a happier and healthier life. There’s also a special chapter for travel. Packing properly for a once-in-a-lifetime trip means you’ll stress less and be able to enjoy that trip even more!
Organizing is a lifestyle, but it isn’t one-size-fits-all. This book is written in such a way that any reader can benefit from. Whether you are single or part of a large family, live in an apartment or a mansion, incorporating organization into your life can help maximize your potential to accomplish more on a daily basis.

 

Praise
“Organizing for Your Lifestyle is designed to introduce the concept of home organization and to suggest ways to help readers declutter and get organized. Stoller begins her text with a discussion of the health benefits to be gained by living a more organized and orderly life… She discusses how to redesign your closet or set up a storage system in a limited space, and shares her input on the best hangers for specific garments, as well as storage options for boots, handbags and shoes. She also demonstrates how organization can make the bathroom and kitchen healthier and function more efficiently. Organizing for Your Lifestyle, is a lively and well-presented book that showcases the author’s lifelong love of organization, and shares her enthusiasm for making what many consider a chore into a passion and a positive lifestyle change.” – 5 Stars, Readers’ Favorite

 

Excerpt
INTRODUCTION 
This book details my specific experience. I’m a (mostly) single girl with no kids and a well-paying job. I’ve lived in different places around the world, in countrysides and in cities and currently live in a large European city. Usually, I’ve lived in fairly small spaces. I also travel a lot, for both business and pleasure. Some of my advice might be a bit more specific to people who live something similar to my current lifestyle. But I also think that my life experience has something to offer lots of different people. After all: at my core, I’m an expert in adapting, whether it’s adapting from the countryside to the city, from one city to the next, to different sizes of spaces, or to different countries. Whether you’re single or part of a large family, whether you live in an apartment or a mansion, you need to know how to store your shoes and fold your sheets, and we all need to embrace the wonders of labelling. Ultimately, I’m presenting this book’s tips and info as potential inspiration, rather than prescription. I want what I do to inspire you, not tell you how to live your life.
For right now, though, I want to go back, to give you a sense of where my organizing habits started. Ever since I can remember, my friends and family have always been amazed at how organized my home and especially my closet was… and still is! Throughout my life, I’ve fielded a steady stream of requests to help friends clean and organize their closets, and I’ve always happily obliged, because organizing is my passion. I would follow up each organizing session with detailed letters outlining what the friends who came to me for help could do to sustain the sense of order I’d created.
I didn’t only organize closets for friends, but also pantries, garages and offices. This is why I wrote this book: to put my passion on paper and to share how simple it is to be organized. I am, and have always been, very serious about my passions. Case in point: even though I’m terrified of flying, I travel a lot. And during every airplane flight, I find myself thinking, oh no, I didn’t pass along my organizing secrets to all my friends yet! What if this plane doesn’t land! Hopefully, my planes will continue to land safely. But I still can’t be everywhere at once, helping out the friends I’ve made all over the world. That in mind, this book lets my friends access my organizing tips whenever they want, even when I’m not there to personally guide them through the process of putting things in rows and boxes.
Ultimately, this book is about sharing what I know, and what I’ve learned, from organizing my own life, and helping others organize theirs. Plus, I really want to give a unique home-made Christmas gift to my friends this year—so, Merry Christmas :)
I’ve often been asked if my parents are super organized, and if I grew up in a very disciplined, neat home. Although our home was always clean and tidy, my mother was in no way as committed to organizing as I was. At six years old, I started to organize my cats by size, finding myself continually frustrated when they wouldn’t stay put. Then I organized my stuffed animals by colour and size. When I first started reading, I would organize my books by title or size. I read a lot of books by Roald Dahl, and from the Nancy Drew and Sweet Valley High series, so they were easy to organize by author or publication date. When I became interested in fashion, and started to build up my wardrobe, organizing my closet became my favourite secret hobby. I say secret, because I felt lame telling my friends that I was staying home on a Saturday night to re-organize my closet—and I did do this, on more than one Saturday.
So where did my organizing knack come from? I think it must be from my Swiss roots. Switzerland is a country that’s uber-organized and efficient, perhaps stemming from its small size, which makes order essential. The Swiss tend to have smaller houses and living quarters than North Americans; they also tend to invest in quality over quantity, and often prefer a more minimalist lifestyle. My mother also confessed to me that one of my Great Uncles was an obsessive organizer; she remembers visiting him and being impressed by his extensively polished and organized shoe collection. So, maybe I inherited the organizing gene from my extended Swiss family.
As I discussed above, my passion for organizing extends to helping others. I’m constantly finding new ways to get and stay organized, and I love sharing these ideas with my friends and family. A short text from a friend saying that she colour-coded two bags of clothing before donating them puts a smile on my face, as does waking up each day to my organized space and knowing exactly where everything is.
Much of my practical organizing experience comes from living in small apartments and having to adapt to small spaces. I believe that as more and more people move to cities and face smaller living quarters, we’re increasingly challenged to do more with less. When living in a small space, being organized becomes a central part of any quest to be successful, have time for meaningful relationships, and maintain a healthy, beautiful body and mind. You may think I’m exaggerating, but getting and staying organized will improve every aspect of your life, and smaller spaces leave less room for organizing errors.
This book is organized (very meticulously, of course!) into common themes that will help you organize your house, closet, and storage rooms. A special chapter for travel and the science behind organizing are included to provide a holistic approach.
A constant theme to keep in mind during reading is that organizing is a lifestyle, but it isn’t one-size-fits-all. Incorporating organizing into your life shouldn’t, ultimately, involve changing who you are, but rather maximizing it. Knowing where your favourite socks are, and having them stored correctly, means you’ll be able to wear your favourite socks more often, and look better doing it. Similarly, packing properly for a once-in-a-lifetime trip means you’ll be able to enjoy that trip even more. Remember: being organized doesn’t mean thinking about organizing all the time. Ideally, being organized means that you don’t have to think about organizing all the time—because you do it automatically, as an organic part of your everyday routine. And you can only reach this level of organizing bliss by making sure your organizing systems and routines are perfectly adapted to your goals, personality, and needs. Again: organizing is a lifestyle, but it needs to be your lifestyle. I hope this mantra captures the spirit of the book, even though I do make reference to certain things that every- one should always do, such as labelling, folding, and ironing (to name a few). However, I also try to emphasize that everyone should take the basics and then adapt them to their own goals and needs. To reinforce this philosophy, the next few lines ask about your organizing goals. Hopefully, outlining these goals up-front will help you think about ways you might adapt the organizing inspirations that follow to your own life.

 

About the Author
Jane Stoller was born and raised in a small town in Ontario, Canada. Her parents immigrated to Switzerland in order to follow their dream of owning a dairy farm.
Jane’s love for organizing began as a child as she was often found happily lining up her pet cats, stuffed animals and books.  Growing up, her passion for organizing shifted to all types of storage space with a special desire for revolutionizing closets! Coupled with her entrepreneurial spirit, Jane has shared her organizing skills with countless friends and colleagues.
She holds a Bachelor’s degree in History and Political Science and a Master’s in Business Administration from Canada’s top universities.  Jane currently lives in Zurich, Switzerland and works in the construction industry.
To learn more, go to OrganizingForYourLifestyle.com or connect with Jane on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.
For further information, to request a review copy, or to set up an interview or appearance by Jane Stoller, please contact Kelsey McBride at Book Publicity Services at Kelsey@BookPublicityServices.com or 805.807.9027.

Personal Finance Author Cara MacMillan Announces Book Proceeds to Benefit Development and Peace

It Is Only Money by Cara MacMillanCara MacMillan announced today that 10% of the revenue garnered from the sale of her book, It Is Only Money – And It Grows on Trees!, will be donated to Development and Peace, a group of Catholics in Canada who serve as advocates for the poverty-stricken people of the world and actively seek out new and effective ways to bring about social change.
“We have a responsibility to help the world’s poor and disadvantaged, either by urging governments, corporations and others to implement change, or by donating time or money to support development efforts,” says MacMillan. “I want to show my readers that I am prepared to practice what I preach. I firmly believe that only by working together can we hope to improve our environment and our world.”
MacMillan is a thought leader in sustainability and financial management. She has the privilege of teaching and learning with courageous individuals who are committed to making a difference for themselves, their world, and future generations. Her book It Is Only Money and It Grows on Trees! is a narrative that explores how the concept of money differs throughout various world religions and cultures. It also looks at ways in which readers can increase their own wealth through consideration of these practices.
“It Is Only Money is a well-written and imaginative multi-cultural look at acquiring wealth… the author explores the role of money in Hindu, Christian, Jewish, Muslim and other religions, and discusses how the biblical story, The Parable of the Talents, can be used as a way to explore one’s own talents and ability to actively make money. MacMillan’s thoughts on passive income streams, investments, and finding one’s passion as opposed to merely doing a job one hates are well-presented… It Is Only Money is highly recommended.” – 5 Stars, Readers’ Favorite
“Honestly, this is one of the only books that deals with finance and money that I could not only read cover to cover, but also understood and enjoyed reading…Totally a five-star book!” – Dhwani Swadia, There and Their
MacMillan lives in Ottawa with her life partner and best friend, David, and their two children. She is currently working on her next book, Make Big Money and Make a Big Difference, for readers who want to learn how to invest in responsible companies and opportunities.  It is due out later this year. To learn more, go to CaraMacMillan.com
For further information, to request a review copy, or to set up an interview or appearance by Cara MacMillan, please contact Kelsey McBride at Book Publicity Services at Kelsey@BookPublicityServices.com or 805.807.9027.

Romance, Family, and History Collide in New Work by Glen Thomas Hierlmeier

Lazlo's RevengeAuthor Glen Thomas Hierlmeier announced today that his latest historical romance novel, Lazlo’s Revenge, is now available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Xlibris.
Any reader who enjoys historical fiction, romance, war stories, and stories with action and adventure, should definitely give Lazlo’s Revenge a read. I am pleased to be able to recommend this book to any such reader. I am also looking forward to reading more from the promising author, Glen Hierlmeier, as soon as I possibly can!” – Readers Favorite
Lazlo’s Revenge follows Maxine “Max” Fischer, a writer and Swiss war correspondent, whose parents lived through the tragedies of the Great World Wars. Greatly distressed by continuing wars and massive numbers of refugees, Max sets out to uncover the tragedies and triumphs of her parents, traveling the same paths they walked years before. Stories of war, romance, death and deliverance are unearthed through tears and admiration as she traces their stories through the debacle of the great wars, and the political upheaval between the wars.
“Readers will enjoy this book because it deals with current issues – the danger and ruthless cruelty of wars, immigration, and the plight of displaced persons, as well as the centuries old plight of Jews,” says Hierlmeier. “Told through a love story and an action-packed odyssey of a family and their closest friends, who are caught in a tragic battle between good and evil. It is a story of personal experiences with characters every reader can identify with.”
“With deft skill often found in good fiction, Hierlmeier masterfully creates a sweeping epic anchored by strong characters. The accurate and poignant historical references are sure to delight any historical reader.”Red City Review
A veteran of the Vietnam War, and a businessman as President and CEO for many years, Glen Thomas Hierlmeier has drawn inspiration from his experiences to pursue his passion of penning historical fiction. Glen retired in 2009 to devote his full-time attention to his grandchildren and his writing. He resides with his wife, RuthAnn, in Bakersfield, California.  He has written three other books including Thoughts From Yesterday: Moments to Remember, We Had to Live: We Had No Choice…, and Honor and Innocence: Against the Tides of War, the prequel to Lazlo’s Revenge.  A fourth book, Tapestry, was co-authored with RuthAnn.
For further information, to request a review copy, or to set up an interview with Glen Thomas Hierlmeier, please contact Kelsey McBride at Book Publicity Services at Kelsey@BookPublicityServices.com or 805.807.9027.