Tuesday, October 27, 2020

SUGARPROOF: The Hidden Dangers of Sugar That Are Putting Your Child’s Health at Risk and What You Can Do by USC Professor of Pediatrics and Program Director for Diabetes and Obesity at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Dr. Michael Goran and Dr. Emily Ventura - an experienced nutrition educator, public health advocate, writer, and cook.

PART ONE with Dr. Michael Goran

PART TWO with Dr. Michael I. Goran and Dr. Emily E. Ventura

In SUGARPROOF: The Hidden Dangers of Sugar That Are Putting Your Child’s Health at Risk and What You Can Do, USC Professor of Pediatrics and Program Director for Diabetes and Obesity at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Dr. Michael Goran, and co-author Dr. Emily Ventura, an expert in nutrition education and recipe development, explain the overabundance of sugar in kids’ diets and how different types of sugar can have a direct adverse effect on kids’ weight, chronic disease risk, behavior, and how well they do in school. In a groundbreaking study, Dr. Goran’s team conducted a detailed analysis of the sugary products that kids love and found that these yogurts, cereals, sodas, and juices often had more sugar than advertised and also contained different types of sugar than were being disclosed. Most of us know that sugar can wreak havoc on adult bodies, but few realize how uniquely harmful it is to the growing livers, hearts, and brains of children. Today’s children are not just consuming more sugar than ever, but they are consuming sugars that are particularly harmful to them–and their parents don’t even know it.

A child doesn’t need to be overweight to have a sugar problem. In fact, even if well-meaning parents purchase organic cereal and low-fat yogurt, their child could still have dangerously high levels of blood lipids or body fat wrapped around internal organs. Sugar could be causing problems in school, disrupting sleep, and/or contributing to inflammatory conditions such as asthma and acne. With a 7-day and 28-day challenge to help families right-size sugar in their diets, along with 39 recipes all without added sugars, everyone can give their children a healthy new start to life.

Sugarproof busts myths about the various types of sugars and sweeteners, helps families identify sneaky sources of sugar in their diets, and suggests realistic, family-based solutions to reduce sugar consumption and therefore protect kids. “Sugarproof” isn’t about quitting sugar entirely. It’s about becoming less reliant on sweet foods and drinks as daily staples. Goran and Ventura offer a reliable and straightforward approach, teaching parents to raise informed and empowered kids who can set their own healthy limits without feeling restricted.


Dr. Michael I Goran is one of the world's most widely recognized experts in childhood nutrition and obesity research, with more than 30 years of experience as a researcher, mentor, and educator. He is a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine, Co-Director of the USC Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute and leads the Program in Diabetes and Obesity at the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles. He holds the Dr. Robert C and Veronica Atkins Endowed Chair in Childhood Obesity and Diabetes. Michael is a native of Glasgow, Scotland, and received his Ph.D. from the University of Manchester, UK.

Dr. Emily Ventura is an experienced nutrition educator, public health advocate, writer, and cook. After working in writing and public relations in the arenas of environmental protection and food, she completed her Master's in Public Health and Doctorate of Philosophy in Health Behavior Research at the University of Southern California. She was selected as a Fulbright Scholar to teach Public Health Nutrition in Italy and now lives in California and works as a writer, recipe developer, and mother to two young boys.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Meet my NEW favorite history teacher - author Rob Swigart! Rob is a former technology journalist, technical writer, computer game designer, poet, futurist, archaeology writer, pilot, diver, aikido black belt. He talks about his new historical fiction novel, Mixed Harvest and how he developed his love of archeology, and more!

Announcing a new historical fiction novel by award-winning author, Rob Swigart. His book, Mixed Harvest: Stories of the Human Past (Berghan Books, January 2020) is an excavation into the deep past of human development and its consequences through a series of unforgettable stories. Through a first encounter between a Neanderthal woman and the Modern Human she called Traveler, to the emergence and destruction of the world’s first cities, Mixed Harvest tells the tale of the Sedentary Divide, the most significant event since modern humans emerged.

Mixed Harvest is perfect for those who love history as well as those who want to learn more about history but have found it boring in the past. It’s engaging and heartwarming storytelling keeps readers interested from start to finish and allows them to learn about the history of humans in the process. Knowing our past is important in shaping our future, and these stories can help on the road to gaining that wisdom.

In an interview, Rob Swigart discusses

His background in archeology and how it lead to Mixed Harvest
His refusal to “write between the lines” and how his strong commitment to sustainability, and lessons we can learn from our forebears, has influenced his writing
How Mixed Harvest expertly balances history and fiction
How his previous novels and academic writing prepared him for Mixed Harvest
Why learning about human history is important for today
His varied experiences as a technology journalist, technical writer, computer game designer, poet, futurist, pilot, diver and aikido black belt.
Mixed Harvest humanizes the rapid transition to agriculture and pastoralism with a grounding in the archaeological record.

Former technology journalist, technical writer, computer game designer, poet, futurist, archaeology writer, pilot, diver, aikido black belt, parent, rumpus room manager. Current fiction writer, grandparent, and sometime urban rambler.

Triple-amputee Linda Olson, M.D. FACR talks about her book, GONE: A Memoir of Love, Body, and Taking Back My Life. Perfect for those looking for inspiring, uplifting stories about the power of positive thinking

At age twenty-nine, Linda Olson, M.D. FACR was vacationing with her husband in Germany when their van was hit by a train, shattering their lives as well as her body. “I didn’t marry your arms or your legs. If you can do it, I can do it,” was the first thing her husband said to her in the hospital after she woke up as a triple amputee in 1979.

In her courageous new release GONE: A Memoir of Love, Body, and Taking Back My Life (on sale October 27, She Writes Press), Olson shares the inspiring true story about how she learned to walk with prostheses, change diapers and insert IVs with one hand. Despite challenges, Olson pursued an illustrious thirty-year career as an award-winning Professor of Radiology at UCSD and raised two children to canoe, backpack, kayak and travel in remote places. One of Parade magazine’s best memoirs of 2020, GONE is part medical-survivor memoir, part marriage guide and parenting confessional, and part travel blog, asking readers to find not only courage but also laughter in the unexpected adversities we all face. Diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2015, Olson is now a motivational speaker committed to empowering patients and families to live life as full as possible via her “Get Out and Go” message. Would you be interested in having Linda Olson on the show this October? Some suggested talking points/questions below my signature!

“Olson’s riveting narrative is about love and devotion as much as it is about attitude and tenacity… Inspirational, gripping, and a testament to positive thinking.” ―Kirkus Reviews

"Certain to provide a new perspective to the obstacles faced in one’s own life, Gone is a consistently engaging account of one woman’s efforts to achieve the impossible. A worthy addition to anyone’s list of amazing memoirs. I can recommend it highly for anyone who needs a lesson in the power of positive thinking.” ―Readers Lane

KUCI's Janeane Bernstein speaks with Justin Reich about his new book, Failure to Disrupt: Why Technology Alone Can’t Transform Education

In Failure to Disrupt: Why Technology Alone Can’t Transform Education, Justin Reich delivers a sobering report card on the latest supposedly transformative educational technologies. Reich takes readers on a tour of MOOCs, autograders, computerized “intelligent tutors,” and other educational technologies whose problems and paradoxes have bedeviled educators. Learning technologies―even those that are free to access―often provide the greatest benefit to affluent students and do little to combat growing inequality in education. And institutions and investors often favor programs that scale up quickly, but at the expense of true innovation. It turns out that technology cannot by itself disrupt education or provide shortcuts past the hard road of institutional change.

Proponents of large-scale learning have boldly promised that technology can disrupt traditional approaches to schooling, radically accelerating learning and democratizing education. Much-publicized experiments, often underwritten by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, have been launched at elite universities and in elementary schools in the poorest neighborhoods. 

Such was the excitement that, in 2012, the New York Times declared the “year of the MOOC.” Less than a decade later, that pronouncement seems premature.
Technology does have a crucial role to play in the future of education, Reich concludes. We still need new teaching tools, and classroom experimentation should be encouraged. But successful reform efforts will focus on incremental improvements, not the next killer app.

“Reich is to be congratulated on writing an important corrective to our public fascination with ‘disrupting’ higher education. It is all the more devastating for its even-handedness. There is no cheap online solution to delivering world class higher education that meets our nation’s ideals and needs. Anything proposed to do so runs roughshod over closely held values: rigor, access, equality, and justice. This is a must-read for anyone with even a passing interest in the present and future of higher education.”―Tressie McMillan Cottom, author of Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy

“This magisterial book offers a remarkable account of the different approaches to online learning and what can be expected of them. Comprehensive, wide-ranging, and incisive, this book offers a definitive account of the past, present, and future of technology-assisted learning. If you had to pick one book to learn about all things online learning, this would be the one.”―Jal Mehta, coauthor of In Search of Deeper Learning: The Quest to Remake the American High School

“If you have already decided that educational technology is a utopia or a dystopia, there’s no need to read this―or, indeed, any―book. But if you desire a clear, balanced, and insightful evaluation of the range of educational technologies, Justin Reich’s book will inform and delight you.”―Howard Gardner, author of Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences

“Technology in learning carries a high cost economically and culturally. In a game of trade-offs between efficiency and human development, research remains the critical lens to guide decisions. This exceptional book is the best resource currently available to guide readers to understanding the failure of technology in classrooms, what needs to be done to make a real impact, and the critical importance of education as community.”―George Siemens, Executive Director of the Learning Innovation and Networked Knowledge Research Lab, The University of Texas at Arlington

About the Author
Justin Reich is Mitsui Career Development Professor of Comparative Media Studies and Director of the Teaching Systems Lab at MIT. He is the host of the TeachLab podcast and has written about education and technology for Education Week, New Yorker, The Atlantic, Washington Post, and Science.--

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

The AntiRacist table is a community space for all people committed to living with purpose and intention to shine a light on and dismantle hate, racism, and injustices in America.

At the table — both metaphorically and literally, we work, nourish, celebrate, strategize, grieve, grow, learn, and fight, together and alone.

The AntiRacist Table was created in response to the Racial Reckoning in America, as a way to bring AntiRacism into daily life as a daily practice. Educating Americans about African American history and the Black experience, along with rehumanizing Black people and motivating action to help create an AntiRacist America are our goals.

Ultimately, the choice is up to you–What awaits you is allyship, abolition, co-conspiratorship, and the dismantling of racism in yourself, your family, your community, your school, and your workplace.

Welcome to our table. Changemakers and forces for good unite!


We are the great-great-granddaughters of Caroline and Allen, who were born enslaved in the state of Alabama. We are the daughters of a Black man who grew up in segregation. We are the mothers of Black sons and daughter. This work is deeply personal to us. We feel and hear the call. It echoes at our very core. As Maya Angelou said, we are “the dream and the hope of the slave.” We carry their legacy and the fight for human rights today.

We are activists and supporters of people in their quest to be the changemakers we need to create a just world for our collective future.

Kirsten is an attorney and a student of nonviolence communication (NVC), right speech, conflict resolution, and meditation. Her undergraduate degree is in African American Studies and English, and in addition to her JD, she holds an LLM in Alternative Dispute Resolution.

Lynn is an educator who is passionate about teaching young children and supporting families, work that she has done for over ten years. In addition to her Undergraduate degree in Fine Arts she has her MAT in Early Childhood Education.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

SCOUT DURWOOD, Comedy Electronica, shares her road to comedy, her past and current projects, and more


Comedy Electronica 

As much as this is a story about a comedian, singer, and actress, it really starts with a kid who wore a tiara to school every day…

That kid grew up to be Scout Durwood. Many years before she made audiences laugh starring on MTV’s Mary + Jane and Oxygen’s Funny Girls, she knew that being different was her greatest strength. That free spirit continues to shine in her newest EP Comedy Electronica Vol. 1, set for release later this summer via Blue Élan Records. The EP will be preceded by a series of companion music videos premiering on YouTube beginning June 26th with Steal UR Girlfriend.

After meeting and collaborating with Dave Darling (Def Leppard, Queen Latifah, Tom Waits, Brian Setzer) on her debut album, Take One Thing Off, the duo rejoined in the studio last summer to record the follow-up, Comedy Electronica. “I knew I wanted to lean more into pop sensibilities with this album so Dave and I imposed a hard rule of ‘no real instruments,’ explained Scout. “We only broke that rule for a theremin and I think there’s a little bit of guitar mixed in somewhere.”

First single, “Steal UR Girlfriend,” is a hilarious but all too accurate portrait of life as a lesbian. “I've always been interested in gender roles and how we alter our behavior to mimic ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ roles, so of my three ‘bros’ in the video, one is a gay cis man and the other is non-binary. I love drag in all directions. Whenever I put makeup on, I consider it getting into drag even if it's intended to make me look more like a girl. We shot the video in a day in a warehouse in Inglewood. Keva Walker did the choreography and was incredible to work with on set.”

“Growing up, I was painfully weird, but blissfully unaware of it,” she smiles. “I was everybody’s lovable little weirdo. After college, I moved to New York. I knew I wanted to be in show business, and in my mind, the way to make it was to be the most original, most creative, and most outside-the-box.”

She went way outside-the-box, spending nearly five years as a draw in New York’s burlesque scene: named as one of the Huffington Post’s “20 Burlesque Stars to Know,” to boot. With this unforgettable experience under her belt, she traded the Big Apple for Los Angeles in 2012. After multiple starring roles, her thirty-minute comedy special was released in 2018 on the Epix series, Unprotected Sets.

Also in 2018, her musical debut Take One Thing Off accompanied a twenty-two episode digital series of the same name. The digital series was included as part of the 2020 Slamdance lineup as well as nominated for Best Indie Series at the 2019 YouTube Streamy Awards -- an annual awards ceremony which recognizes and honors excellence in online video, including directing, acting, producing, and writing. Scout is also an accomplished cabaret singer and nationally touring stand-up comedian. She currently has a scripted half-hour comedy series in development with Sony / Freeform Entertainment, and hosts a monthly live variety show, Everybody GoGo, in Los Angeles.

“I think I’m still that girl in a tiara who doesn’t know she’s weird. That’s become the heart of my comedy. I’m happy to be different, and I hope other people feel the same way. It’s about letting your freak flag fly, and if that isn’t reason enough to dance, I honestly don’t know what is.”

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Janeane speaks with Zachary Faerber, a Trauma Consultant with Arthrex, about loss, resilience, and finding your passions in life

My name is Zachary Faerber, I am 26 years old but have lived a long life in those 26 years. I spent my younger years taking care of my sick parents and helping out with my brother and sister. I graduated with honors and distinctions in Medical Anthropology with the life goal of helping others. I started my career managing stem cell donations for blood cancer patients at the same hospital my father passed away at. I now work as an Orthopedic Device Consultant, helping surgeons through difficult surgical procedures. I also have a fitness and lifestyle coaching business in the hopes to maximize the amount of people I can help. I have always been drawn to doing and being MORE for the people around me, my hope is my story can inspire the same for anyone listening.

It is worth mentioning that during this incredibly unconventional time, life is spinning out of control for so many people. I loved being able to come onto this podcast and share how I choose to keep myself sane during the COVID pandemic. The key is keeping to a routine and shifting your mindset. Realize all the things you can be grateful for and go out every day in an attempt to make the world a better place.

Feel free to reach out to me with any questions or if you feel there is anything I can do to help!

My instagram is @zach_faerber and my email is zacharyfaerber@gmail.com.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Singer-songwriter Car Astor joins host Janeane on KUCI 88.9fm


Drummers turned exceptional singers are a small fraternity. Dave Grohl, Iggy Pop and Karen Carpenter are some percussionists, who found their true calling as vocalists. The beguiling Car Astor is on her way to joining that exclusive club.

The striking Long Island native grew up behind a kit. “Since I was 13 I was a drummer,” she says. “I never thought I would become a singer. I always assumed someone else would be singing but I had to do it.”

But necessity is indeed the mother of invention. “I was writing all of the music in a band and the singers weren’t all that great,” she says. “I couldn’t find anyone else. I was frustrated and I gave it a shot.”

Wise move. It’s evident that Car Astor found her calling while listening to the anthemic and atmospheric “Green Line Killer.” Car Astor’s voice soars over the dense pop gem. Car Astor possesses a mix of subtlety and power. The charismatic entertainer knows when to pull back but is also capable of delivering that sonic punch to the gut during “Green Line Killer.”

“When I wrote the lyrics for that song it was about the experience of falling in love,” Car Astor says. “I wanted to capture that elusive feeling.”

Each of the five tracks from her EP “Ties,” which dropped in 2016, are filed under love songs. “I don’t usually talk about my feelings but I write songs about love,” Car Astor says. “I like writing that type of song. I try to get personal. Every lyric has a purpose.”

Car Astor came of age listening to such ace wordsmiths as Neil Young, Coldplay’s Chris Martin, and Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks. “I love the way each of those artists writes a story,” Car Astor says. “I love the imagery. I love music. I was obsessed with No Doubt, Paramore and Avril Lavigne when I was a kid.”

Car Astor

on her new album

you say you love me…but i don’t believe you

i’d like to tell you about my new album, you say you love me…but i don’t believe you.

this is an album about me falling in love with my best friend, and the very tumultuous and painful journey we’ve had together over the past few years. It’s an album that in many ways is the opposite of everything i’ve released on the internet so far. it’s also an album that forced me to see myself more clearly, whether i wanted to or not.

for a long time now, i’ve struggled with this internal conflict of being a very naturally shy and introverted person, while simultaneously trying to fulfill the strange draw to what most would consider a very extroverted career. when i was younger, it would have been a nightmare for me to somehow jump into the future and find out that i’d be a singer / performer. i hated attention so much as a kid, that i would cry when my family would walk out with my birthday cake and start singing to me. so, as you can imagine, i’ve had a tough time battling these conflicting parts of myself while trying to meet the demands of being an artist in today’s world. seeing myself in the mirror freaks me out, so you can only guess how much worse filming a music video feels.

when i first started playing music, i put myself behind the big drum kit, knowing i would be hidden behind the cymbals and my other four other band mates. when i started playing guitar, i purposely bought the biggest one that i could find - in hopes that it would cover up my body from being seen. and when i finally began singing, i chose a three letter name to hide my identity, wore bright white contacts to hide my eyes, covered my skin in layers of feminine makeup to hide my face, and did loud, aggressive production on my songs, so that i could hide my voice. i couldn’t ever seem to commit to being fully vulnerable and accepting myself for who i was. i thought that i was forcing myself to grow into a confident outgoing “artist” but was actually over-compensating for how i felt internally, and was building up many layers of a calculated front that were covering me up. i didn’t let myself be aware enough to know that these layers existed, let alone know how to peel them back.

that all started to shift the night that i wrote the first single “everything stays unspoken”. i was deeply caught up and consumed by the emotional relationship with my best friend, so much so, that for the first time in a while, i began writing without any sort of purpose. everything was completely un-calculated. i wasn’t trying to make a “good pop song”. i didn’t overthink the lyrics, worry about how my voice would sound, or worry about how people would perceive any bit of it. i was just in a deep sadness and needed an outlet. it was the first time in a while that i had used music for what is it’s most special quality - to heal.

i wrote nearly every night while navigating the intensity, pain, and toxic situation i was living through with my best friend. i started connecting with music more than i ever had, and every day i found myself getting more brave and open. when i wrote “i’m scared for the day that i meet her” I knew it was so lyrically blunt that if it was released, it would definitely taint any potential romantic relationship i would have in the future. i even found a connection to a song written in the seventies called “without you” that spoke to me just as much as my originals.

through this, i saw myself changing in other ways too. i ditched the scary white contacts, started becoming more comfortable with my face, body, and self expression, changed my name back to the nick-name i had growing up, and even got a smaller guitar (lol). the honesty in these songs allowed me to find those layers, and start peeling them off, and for the first time in a long time, i began to feel so free.

i’m still figuring all of this out though, and i’m not perfect at it yet. there are still parts of me that are scared for “you say you love me…but i don’t believe you” to be released. but rather than running away from it, i’ve been learning to embrace the fact that there is nowhere for me to hide in this group of songs. my voice is dry and upfront, unedited and imperfect. my guitar playing can get a little sloppy (if you listen to the whole thing you can find a wrong chord or two). i’m nervous that the songs can feel a little country, a little emo, a little folk - very different from the dark dancey pop songs i was releasing last year. but given all of those fears that are lingering, this is me in my rawest form, and i’m happy that it exists.

About Car Astor:

Car Astor, is a 24 year-old New York native who was thrust upon the scene in 2016 under the moniker SEE when her music video for “Potions” went viral (currently over 7 million views) after premiering on AfterEllen.com. Her EP Ties was produced by Brad Wood (Smashing Pumpkins, Liz Phair, Veruca Salt) and established her uniquely lush blend of raw feelings, pop, and everything real.

Now referred to as the consummate singer-songwriter, Car Astor, she has broken the convention of genre. Lyrically, her new material is Car in her most vulnerable form; focusing on life's ebbs and flows—including romantic breakdowns and unexpected emotional fissures—and the leaps of faith people take in order to pursue happiness.

Car Astor is a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community and has performed at various Pride festivals across the country.


Track by Track

Everything Stays Unspoken :

“Everything Stays Unspoken” was the first song that I wrote for this body of work, and it ended up completely shaping my musical journey for the year or so afterwards. I remember it being really late at night when I started writing it, probably three or four in the morning, so I was kind of falling asleep and I never had any intention to use it as an actual song that I would release - I was truly just using the moment as a therapeutic way to get out my feelings.

Oddly, I think that lack of pressure allowed this very raw and vulnerable side of me to come out, and it was the first time in a while where I wasn’t over analyzing every choice musically and lyrically that I was making.

Looking back now, I’ve realized that for a while I had felt pretty bogged down by feeling a pressure to fit into a certain genre, or match the style of music I was making to what I wanted to look like visually. “Everything Stays Unspoken” broke that all down as I ended up writing something that felt a little folk and a little country - and with that I felt so FREE.

Lyrically speaking, this song is about this connection that I had with my best friend that was very confusing at the time and was never openly and honestly discussed between the two of us. Whenever we saw each other, the energy would be so intense and undeniable, but for years we were stuck in a place of not saying how we felt because we knew it would disrupt the other relationships in our lives. A lot of this song was me asking questions I wish I could ask her directly and wishing that we didn’t have those walls up.

Without You :

When I first heard “Without You” (Harry Nilsson’s version) it was a very very hot NYC summer day, and I was in a local restaurant near my apartment, waiting for the food I’d ordered and cooling off in the AC. It might have been the combination of the residual heat and the fact that I was a little high, but I swear it seemed like the world stopped when I heard this song. I know that sounds super over dramatic, but it was one of those indescribable experiences where music really hits you in a special way. It’s one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard, and I knew then and there that I wanted to find a way to cover it.

I looked up the song when I got home later that afternoon and saw that Mariah Carey had covered it in the 90’s. In a few articles that I read, she funnily enough had a very similar experience to me while hearing Harry’s version of the song while in a restaurant, and reading that felt like a special coincidence to me as Mariah Carey grew up in my same town on Long Island and went to my high school - she was the town icon in a way.

I tried out a few versions on the piano and guitar but I didn’t love anything in particular until I was in the studio with some artists on my label. Someone brought out their Omnichord and I felt like it was the perfect match for the way I wanted to record the song, so I stayed at the studio late after everyone had left for the day and quickly figured out the chords and recorded it in an hour or two.

I’ve been hesitant to record covers in the past, but I’m really happy that this song worked out and doesn’t feel any less special to me than the original tracks on this album.

Buzzing Bees :

I had the guitar part for “Buzzing Bees” for a few months before I was able to fit the right lyrics into it. I was bored of myself and trying really hard to write anything but a super sad song, and knew that the guitar part sounded pretty happy, so I tried my best to fit a sweet love song into it without getting too ~emo. I wrote about the summer that I fell in love with someone, and something that really stuck out to me from that period of time was nature and the outdoors, because we were spending most of our time at different parks around the city. The quick guitar part combined with a really cool delay effect that the engineer/mixer Zack put on the vocal, all kinda ties together that “buzzing” feeling for me. At the end of the song I originally had an idea for some type of string arrangement, and in the original demo decided to use my voice to map it out. It turned out to be a happy accident because I really liked the way the vocals felt doing all of the parts, so I kept it for the actual recording! 

LISTEN now! Janeane speaks with Margaret M. Spirito and Lisa Ann Walter from "Jersey" a short film. “Jersey” competes at 16th Annual LA Femme International Film Festival


Director/Lead Actress Lisa Ann Walter & Writer/Producer Margaret M. Spirito

Jersey” Short Film to Compete at 16th Annual
LA Femme International Film Festival 

Short to serve as proof of concept for potential series 

LOS ANGELES – October 7h , 2020 -- The comedic short “Jersey”, written by Margaret M. Spirito and directed by and starring Lisa Ann Walter will screen at the 16th Annual LA Femme International Film Festival on Saturday, October 17th, 6PM on the CYA.Live platform. A Q&A with Spirito, Walter and co-star, Valerie Tosi, will follow.

The film centers around best friends Maria (Valerie Tosi) and Lorelei (Mayan Lopez) who escaped the drama of their New Jersey families by moving to sunny Los Angeles. The drama finds them, however, when Maria's crass mother, Tess (Walter), and spoiled older brother, Nick (Vinny Fasline), celebrate Easter with Maria and Lorelei on the west coast. Maria finds it hard to bite her tongue at Tess's ignorance, while Lorelei attempts to play buffer between mother and daughter. After a dinner full of baby boomer judgement and millennial clapbacks, things take an exciting turn when Tess accidentally mistakes the girls' chocolate edibles for Easter dessert, turning what Maria was hoping to be a chill California holiday into a Jersey shit storm. Once the storm settles, Maria and Tess find themselves able to confront the obvious tension that exists between them, proving the age old theory almost all women can relate to: there’s family you love, family you hate…..and then there’s your mother.

Writer/producer Spirito is a singer, actress, writer and producer originally from New Jersey. Her big, belty voice brought her all over the world, performing in shows such as the National Tour of “Jesus Christ Superstar” and international productions pf “Shout”, “And the World Goes Round” and “Smokey Joe’s Café”. In Los Angeles, she spent years performing with the critically acclaimed FOR THE RECORD series in several of their productions, in addition to producing/writing/performing her own shows, “The Sounds of Dirty Jersey” and “Amy Winehouse, One Year Later”. In addition to her work on stage, Margaret is an accomplished writer, her love being half-hour television comedy.

Actress/director Walter is an accomplished stand up comedian and actress, most recognized for her work in the “The Parent Trap”, “Bruce Almighty”, and “Shall We Dance.” She also created the network shows “Life’s Work and Dance Your Ass Off”. In addition to her work as an actress and Executive Producer, Walter is a successful author and a favorite among radio listeners for her hit radio show “The Fabulous Lisa Ann Walter Show” that was on air from 2011-2014.

The LA Femme International Film Festival is now in its 16th year as one of Los Angeles’ premiere film festivals dedicated to celebrating and promoting female artists both in front of and behind the camera. In addition to bestowing awards in multiple categories, from short subjects to documentaries to commercials, LA Femme is proud to present this year’s Lupe Ontiveros Image Award to a performer who embodies the spirit, audacity and dedication to art that its namesake represented. This year’s Ontiveros honoree will be actress/producer Shari Belafonte.

WATCH "Jersey" Saturday October 17, 2020! 

To purchase tickets to see all the purchase options below.

ALL FILMS AND VIRTUAL EVENTS will be hosted on cya.live


(*Note: you will need to sign up for a free account at time of purchase with name and email)
Purchase Tickets from our virtual platform directly.

Link to ALL streaming movies starting Oct 15 at midnight until Oct 18 at 11:59 PM – PDT. Watch at your leisure over 150+ films to screen. https://www.cya.live/channel/lafemme/movies

Instagram: @margaretmspirito 
Twitter: @margaretspirito


Margaret M. Spirito

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

THE INFLUENCERS” TV PILOT TO VIE FOR HONORS AT ONLINE FILM FESTIVALS - Host Janeane Bernstein speaks with the creators, Ally Kornfeld and Desiree Staples

Janeane's conversation with the creators,
Ally Kornfeld and Desiree Staples

LOS ANGELES - September 9, 2020 --  “The Influencers,” a sharply drawn yet humorous look at the world of YouTube celebrities and their hapless agents, has morphed from a pilot into a sleeper hit at indie festivals across the country. The pilot will screen at the Catalina Film Fest September 8-27 and the Burbank International Film Festival September 10-13, 2020.

Created by Ally Kornfeld and Desiree Staples, “The Influencers” is custom made for the weaned-on-social-media generation of online viewers today. On a quest to become a high-powered Hollywood agent, Mia, an ambitious and naive young woman, ends up at a tiny talent agency managing crazy YouTube stars both human and feline. Thus far, the short-form pilot has won multiple awards including “Best Ensemble Cast” (Santa Monica Webfest), “Best Pilot,” (Seoul Webfest) and the “HRIFF People’s Choice Award for Best Short Film: Comedy” (Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival).

The premise of the series was inspired by the real-life experiences of co-creator and executive producer Staples (who also plays Mia). When Staples first got to LA, she ended up accidentally moving into an infamous apartment complex full of wayward social media personalities and ex-Vine stars. She soon befriended a set of twin helicopter pilots, an Instagram model, and Oprah’s godson, all sitting by the pool taking selfies.

Realizing she was sitting on a goldmine of stories and characters, Staples teamed up with Kornfeld, an alumna of UCB and they immediately understood that managing influencers must be an insane and unique job that they haven’t seen explored in scripted television before. Thus, “The Influencers” was born. 

In the pilot, we meet Mia, who lands an interview at her dream company, ICM - International Creative Management – one of the top agencies in the world. Her goal is to represent stars like Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling; but when she aces the interview with Greg (the enthusiastic and slightly stressed agency manager) Mia realizes something is wildly wrong. This is ICM -- Internet Celebrity Moguls, that represents eccentric YouTube stars, like viral sensation Chewbacca Mom.

Mia wants to leave immediately, but their best client and extreme “prankster” takes a liking to her sarcastic commentary on social media influencers and she gets promoted to agent – an offer she can’t turn down. Now it’s up to her to keep the company afloat by signing new talent, keeping the influencers happy and putting out constant fires. So who has time for a meaningful personal life?

Kornfeld and Staples come from wildly different backgrounds, but the partnership took off over their shared love of comedy which was nurtured at UCB.

Staples hails from Orange County and graduated from Northwestern University’s Acting and Musical Theater Program in Chicago before moving to LA and honing her comedic voice as a multi-hyphenate actress, producer, and writer. She has been seen in Viral Videos such as Clickhole’s “500lb Man” with 15 million views, a guest-star role in “In The Cut” on Bounce TV, appeared Off-Broadway at the Cherry Lane Theater, and is a producer/actress in the upcoming comedy feature film “Take Me To Tarzana,” Directed by Maceo Greenberg.

The co-creator of “The Influencers,” Kornfeld, is an Australian Writer who has written for British YouTube influencer, Charlie McDonnell, as well as “TXT Stories” for Facebook Watch (3 million followers), and “Warigami” for the CW Seed. Ally spent many years writing on a sketch comedy troupe at the Magnet Theater in NYC, and toured comedy festivals including Montreal Sketchfest, Chicago Sketchfest and Boston Comedy Arts Festival.

 Asked to describe “The Influencers,” Staples says “In a world where you can make a living squishing food on camera and burping at cows, this show explores that bonkers world.” Kornfeld adds, “It’s 30 Rock, but with influencers and cats, and a lot of heart. We love the crazy world of YouTube stars.” Despite the off-the-wall humor, both women feel that at its heart, the show explores what YouTube, Instagram, and Social Media reveals about ourselves as a culture. What causes our innate desire to be liked and followed?

Also starring in the pilot are Jeff Harms, PJ McCormick, Daniel Floren, Chris Ruetten, and Nabeel Muscatwalla.

The Influencers Trailer:

The Influencers Website:


For online ticket information for “The Influencers” at both festivals, please visit their respective websites: info@CatalinaFilm.org Catalina Film Institute and The Influencers.

“The New Abolitionists” Documentary to Compete for Top Prize at the 16th Annual LA Femme International Film Festival. LISTEN to Janeane's conversation with Actress/Producer Christina Zorich and Editor/Story Consultant Landon Satterfield

LOS ANGELES – October 8, 2020 -- “The New Abolitionists,” a documentary by actress/producer Christina Zorich, tracks her journey as she follows committed abolitionists throughout Southeast Asia as they attempt to affect change and put an end to human sex trafficking. The film will screen on Sunday, October 18th, at 2PM at the (virtual) LA Femme International Film Festival, with a Q and A to follow.

In the course of the film, Zorich tracks the trajectories of the Christian ministries and NGO’s (non-government organizations) who save children and teens entrapped and enslaved in the sex trade throughout Cambodia and Thailand. They educated her on the causes and conditions that led to the blossoming of this criminal industry, the government’s complicity, and the structure they used to solve the problem: Rescue, Rehabilitation, Prosecution and Prevention. Heartbreaking stories ensue of young people of both sexes, many betrayed by close family members who sell them off to traffickers for financial gain. The programs that many of these organizations offer help these victims gain financial freedom and self esteem through vocational training in a safe and loving space. Because of the danger involved, some of the people Zorich met along with way could not get involved with the film as the exposure would undercut their visas and ability to safely do their renegade work.

The film was a long journey for Zorich. She made 2 trips to the region, the first in 2015, where she laid the groundwork for a longer shoot, meeting the people involved in these rescues. She utilized the footage from the first trip to hone the film she would eventually make- testing the footage with focus groups and took an online course with documentarian Darren Wilson. She returned to the region a year later, shot 600 hours of footage and spent the next 3 years editing her film.

“With this film,” says Zorich, “I set out to not only expose the causations of trafficking, but to reveal practical solutions. My hope is that learning from these brave abolitionists will inspire others to join the fight in whatever way they can.”

Zorich Directed and Produced the film. Landon Satterfield served as the film’s Story Editor as well as Co-Editor with Zorich. The pair worked together over a period of 3 years shaping the story. Zorich’s mother, Academy Award winning actress Olympia Dukakis, came on as a producer during post production, to help complete the film. 

In the words of Christina Zorich
Executive Producer/Director
The New Abolitionists is beyond a passion project for me.

For the past 35 years, I’ve been a working professional actor, acting teacher, director and producer. I’ve trained, taught and performed in some prestigious and respected theaters and training institutions on the East and West Coast; producing music videos, a web series and plays. However, my life changed a few years ago during a chance meeting in Hollywood. I met Erica Greve of Unlikely Heroes.

Like many people I’ve met, the human sex trafficking industry was a subject that was not even close to being on my radar. Yet, when Erica exposed and expressed to me the intense level of suffering she had witnessed of its victims first hand, I knew I was incapable of turning a blind eye. She then further shared how being a registered nurse herself had made her aware of the lack of treatment and medical facilities available to these victims. She had now committed her life to building, staffing, and the operation of homes for women and children who needed a place to, in essence, rehabilitate. She and her staff were in a constant process of rescuing and providing the important aftercare young women and children needed from this horrific industry.

Her story compelled me into action. I gave her contacts of every director and filmmaker I knew, hoping they could shoot footage for her NGO, Unlikely Heroes, to fundraise the materials, resources and expenses needed. Unfortunately, everyone requested money to film. Erica’s response to me was, “Christina, all money has to go to the girls.” It was in this moment I realized: acts of service, small and large, were required to fight this fight. This is when I first got the idea for The New Abolitionists.

I spent the next few years educating myself; researching and investigating human sex trafficking. I began an apprenticeship under a respected documentarian. I took classes and committed myself to a mission trip to Thailand and Cambodia with a ministry and began shooting.

Since that initial trip in October 2015, we returned for a second trip in September 2016 and shot for a month and a half. The combination of the two trips has given us compelling footage. We have spent four years in post production, piecing together an hour and thirty-eight minutes that we hope deeply impacts and educates our viewers. We hope we’ve crafted a project that not only illuminates the subject but compels the audience to join the fight. Our content exposes causes and conditions, complex realities, while offering effective solutions.

Landon Satterfield
Editor & Story Consultant

Landon is a film editor, actor, writer, and motion graphics artist living in Los Angeles, California. He was born in Fort Smith, Arkansas and lived in Oklahoma for most of his life. From a very early age, Landon was intrigued by the film-making process and demonstrated that curiosity through art and illustration. Developing that creative muscle led him to a year of graphic design school and a three year media internship.

After working for eight years as an on-staff video and camera director, Landon moved to Los Angeles to expand that career, where he was brought on as the fine-cut editor for The New Abolitionists.

Landon was also the editor of the documentary feature al’ Amriki: The American, colorist on the short film The Shoes of Hayim, trailer editor for the feature Toss It, motion graphics animator for The Cozy Robot Show, editor and animator for Small Water youtube series, and editor of the award winning short film The Uterus Chat.

Indie Thriller NIGHT RAIN Premieres at 16th LA Femme International Film Festival - Janeane speaks with Jeanne Marie Spicuzza

“Night Rain,” the indie thriller from Jeanne Marie Spicuzza, Seasons & a Muse and the award-winning producers of “The Scarapist,” will make its festival debut at the 16th Annual LA Femme International Film Festival on Thursday, October 15th.

WATCH the trailer

The story surrounds a group of independent filmmakers unwittingly hired by their stalker to make a low budget period movie about Elizabeth Short, better known as the Black Dahlia, who begin to see their lives dangerously intertwine with the events leading up to Short’s tragic murder. Spicuzza, who penned the screenplay, co-directs with her editor, Synthian Sharp (“How I Became an Elephant”). “Night Rain” marks the second feature from Spicuzza.

“Following ‘The Scarapist,’” says Spicuzza, “I wanted to make a movie about indie filmmaking and the 1940s. I knew that there would be challenges on a low budget. I earned a certificate in film noir studies from TCM and Ball State University during the course of my research and writing for ‘Night Rain.’ I was helped by historians like… Harnisch… and Glen Creason [of the Los Angeles Central Library].”

Shot on location at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel, Pacific Dining Car, Crystal Pier and other historic sites in and around Los Angeles and San Diego by director of photography Jay Lopez, with additional photography by Henry Power, “Night Rain,” stars Spicuzza, Adam Lesar, Clarissa Thibeaux, Thessa M’loe and Mattia Chicco. Other cast and crew include legendary drummer Guy Hoffman, of BoDeans and Violent Femmes fame, John Neff, celebrated sound editor for David Lynch, actors Scott Javore and J.L. Forbis, industry maven Heidi Honeycutt, Cinefemme founder Michelle Kantor, LA Femme Film Festival’s Leslie LaPage, designer Michael A. Barnum and creator Jessamyn Prince.

“The title comes from my granddaughter, Amaya, whose name in Japanese means ‘Night Rain,’” says Spicuzza. “I was inspired by the words of Muriel Short, Elizabeth’s sister, who said that their mother ‘does believe that someday the truth will come out and [Elizabeth] will be exonerated.’

“Since we may never know… the identity of the killer,” says Spicuzza, “my goal was to offer a very authentic, dignified treatment… a bond of mothers and daughters. It’s a dark redemption.”

Amaya Spicuzza makes her acting debut in “Night Rain.” Executive producers include David and Stephanie Spicuzza.

Night Rain make its festival debut at the 16th Annual LA Femme International Film Festival on Thursday, October 15th at 6 PM PDT on the CYA platform. Following the film, there will be a virtual Q&A with special guest Larry Harnisch, L.A. Times writer-editor, author and expert on the Black Dahlia murder case.

Monday, October 12, 2020

JUST POSTED! Janeane shares her incredible conversation with James Hibberd, Entertainment Weekly Editor at Large and Author of FIRE CANNOT KILL A DRAGON: Game of Thrones and the Official Untold Story of the Epic Series, the behind-the-scenes story of making Game of Thrones, the most successful television series in modern history

FIRE CANNOT KILL A DRAGON: Game of Thrones and the Official Untold Story of the Epic Series, Hibberd chronicles the making of GoT from the producers' very first meeting with Martin to the staging of the controversial series finale and all the epic battles in between.

It’s easy to forget that Thrones was supposed to be impossible to make. Long before Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow became household names, George R.R. Martin was a frustrated TV writer who created his bestselling A Song of Ice and Fire novels to explore epic storytelling beyond the constraints of Hollywood. In 2008, HBO took an enormous gamble to produce his “unfilmable” saga and for the next 11 years, the Game of Thrones team faced one backstage obstacle after another while turning their series into an unprecedented global blockbuster, an Emmy Awards record-breaker (132 nominations and 47 wins in total) and a pop-culture obsession. Across its 8 seasons that aired in 207 countries and territories, GoT received perhaps more cumulative media coverage than any show ever made. Yet no one knows the inside story of GoT as well as Entertainment Weekly Editor-at-Large James Hibberd, a journalist who visited the top-secret show’s sets each season since 2012. In his debut book, FIRE CANNOT KILL A DRAGON: Game of Thrones and the Official Untold Story of the Epic Series, Hibberd chronicles the making of GoT from the producers' very first meeting with Martin to the staging of the controversial series finale and all the epic battles in between.

James Hibberd gives fans an inside look at every aspect of the ground-breaking series and the people who created it, including:

  • How Dan Weiss and David Benioff won over an author avoiding an adaptation and a network that wasn’t interested in a fantasy series, and how they then convinced HBO to bankroll the project – despite neither of the showrunners having ever worked on a television show before.

  • The making of the show’s disastrous original pilot that you’ve never seen. Game of Thrones was an expensive gamble that almost didn’t make it to air. Hibberd portrays what went wrong when making of the show’s first pilot that was torn apart by the top-brass at HBO, and then all the changes that were made to create an iconic premiere episode.

  • Perspectives from the cast and crew on all of the best – and most controversial – episodes, including: “Baelor” (which ends with the shocking execution of Ned Stark); “The Rains of Castamere” (aka “The Red Wedding”); “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” (which depicted Sansa’s horrific wedding night); “The Long Night” (which focuses on the long-awaited battle between the Night King’s undead forces and the living); “The Bells” (in which Daenerys Targaryen fully crosses the threshold into fascism and madness); and others.

  • How Games of Thrones continued George R.R. Martin’s story… even though he hadn’t finished the books: When the first season of GoT premiered, Martin had already published four books in his A Song of Ice and Fire series, plenty of material for the first few seasons of the show. Then HBO had to continue the series without Martin’s roadmap. Hibberd’s shares how all involved learned to navigate new and treacherous territory as they moved beyond the books and how fans reacted to the changes they made along the way.

  • Exclusive insight into the divisive final season: Hibberd invites fans into the writers’ room and on to the set as the Game of Thrones cast and crew worked to deliver an epic ending, sharing the cast’s reactions to every plot twist, their endurance of harrowing on-set conditions, and their reactions to the blowback after the series ended.

  • The future of the Game of Thrones television universe, including the spin-off series currently in the works from HBO: the future and legacy of the GoT franchise, including the upcoming House of the Dragon HBO series (set to air in 2022), and other prequel projects currently in development.

Whether you’re a die-hard fan of everything Game of Thrones or love-to-hate various elements of the series, there’s no debate that GoT was a wildly ambitious project unlike anything viewers had witnessed before. Hibberd’s fascinating oral history is a must-read for every GoT fan.

About the Author
James Hibberd is an award-winning entertainment journalist who has written thousands of stories covering the business of Hollywood across nearly two decades. He's currently Editor-at-Large at Entertainment Weekly and was previously TV editor at The Hollywood Reporter. He lives in Austin, Texas.

Friday, October 9, 2020

Vox co-founder Matthew Yglesias spoke with Janeane Bernstein about his new book, One Billion Americans

What would actually make America great? More people, argues Vox co-founder Matthew Yglesias. ONE BILLION AMERICANS is a bold, provocative, and data-driven case for massive population growth, presented with Yglesias’ signature humor and analytic rigor.

Matthew Yglesias’s articles for which receive an average of 2 million page views per month, have been cited by everyone from Bernie Sanders and Barack Obama to Jeff Bezos, and have influenced congressional action on topics like the relocation of federal agencies outside the Beltway. He hosts Vox podcast "The Weeds," which was hailed as the "best roundtable podcast" of 2018 by Quartz and draws on average 130,000 downloads per episode. 

If the most challenging crisis in living memory has shown us anything, it’s that the US has lost the will and the means to lead the global community and marketplace. We can’t compete with the huge population clusters of the global marketplace by keeping our population static or letting it diminish, or with our crumbling transit and unaffordable housing. The winner in the future world is going to have more—more ideas, more ambition, more utilization of resources, more people.

Exactly how many Americans do we need to win? According to Yglesias, one billion.

From one of our foremost policy writers, ONE BILLION AMERICANS is the provocative yet logical argument that if we aren’t moving forward, we’re losing. Yglesias invites us to think bigger, while taking the problems of decline seriously. What really contributes to national prosperity should not be controversial: supporting parents and children, welcoming immigrants and their contributions, and exploring creative policies that support growth—like more housing, better transportation, improved education, revitalized welfare, and climate change mitigation. Yglesias challenges readers across the political spectrum to move beyond left-right divides and to look squarely at practical ways of moving forward and supporting many, many more of us.

In ONE BILLION AMERICANS, Yglesias draws on economic theory and research from leading policy experts to offer ideas from around the globe—from Singapore's approach to traffic jams to Canada's town planning—demonstrating not only that we can do this, but why we must.


Matthew Yglesias co-founded Vox.com with Ezra Klein and Melissa Bell in 2014. He's currently a senior correspondent focused on politics and economic policy, and co-hosts "The Weeds" podcast twice a week. Before launching Vox, he wrote the Moneybox column for Slate and blogged for Think Progress, The Atlantic, TPM, and The American Prospect. Yglesias is the author of two books, most recently The Rent Is Too Damn High about the policy origins of the middle class housing affordability crisis in America. Yglesias was born and raised in New York City, but has lived in Washington DC since 2003.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Coming up on KUCI 88.9fm - JANE IGHARO, author of TIES THAT TETHER, a heartfelt story of love, identity, and finding your voice

One of Betches' 7 Books by Black Authors You Need to Read This Summer

One of Elite Daily’s Books Featuring Interracial Relationships You Should Read In 2020

One of Marie Claire’s 2020 Books You Should Add to Your Reading List

One of She Read’s Sizzling BIPOC Romance Novels

In her fiercely honest and exceptionally witty own voices rom-com, Jane Igharo not only brings readers a gorgeously heartfelt story of love, identity, and finding your voice, but she captures the unique experience of straddling two cultures in a close-knit immigrant family. So many rom-coms have dealt with the choice between love and identity, but Igharo brings a much-needed new voice to the mix, inspired by her own experiences as a Nigerian woman who immigrated to Canada in her youth. In TIES THAT TETHER, a once strictly obedient daughter breaks her late father’s cardinal rule to gain her own freedom and a chance at true love.

Regardless of background, most people are familiar with the expectations of family members, which are always a nuisance and often get in the way of one’s own plans. But in TIES THAT TETHER, the choice between love and personal identity isn’t just a trope, it’s a real reflection of the stakes faced by many modern women of color when it comes to life and romance. TIES THAT TETHER is a contemporary romance that tackles issues of cultural norms, personal identity, and how they intersect with the already confusing notion of love.


Azere Izoduwa has always known she would marry an Edo man, ever since she promised her dying father she would preserve their Nigerian culture even after moving to Canada. Marrying within her culture would preserve her identity—or that’s what her parents told her—and her mother has been keeping her on track ever since. Now 25 years old and having gone on more than one disastrous date with Edo men her mother forced her to meet, she’s tired. It’s on a night like this that she meets Rafael Castellano, a charming stranger who is tall, handsome…and white. After a few drinks and pleasant conversation, Azere ends up in his hotel room. And even though she feels drawn to him, her duty as a daughter makes her disappear in the morning.

A month later, Azere has almost forgotten her one-night stand when Rafael walks into the staff meeting at her advertising agency. It turns out he’s a new consultant at the firm, and they’ll be working together. And though she tries to deny their connection, Azere can’t help but want to be in his arms again. Suddenly, Azere finds herself questioning the plans and expectations of her culture that she once accepted. With Rafael, she feels like her life can be completely her own. But when her decision threatens to distance her from her family and her identity as a Nigerian, and she finds Rafael keeping secrets from her, she must decide if she will risk everything for a chance at love. The answer will either cause Azere to fight for her happiness or return to being the compliant daughter.


Jane Abieyuwa Igharo was born in Nigeria and immigrated to Canada at the age of twelve. She has a journalism degree from the University of Toronto and works as a communications specialist in Ontario, Canada. When she isn't writing, she's watching "Homecoming" for the hundredth time and trying to match Beyoncé's vocals to no avail.


Twitter: @VictoriousJane

Instagram: @jane_igharo

Friday, October 2, 2020

Award-winning author Amy Hest shares details about her new book, The Summer We Found the Baby, with host Janeane Bernstein on KUCI 88.9fm

Amy is a Christopher Award/Boston Globe–Horn Book Award winner with over 40 children’s titles under her belt; she is also the beloved writer of Kiss Good Night, The Reader, and more. She recently interviewed on WTJS-FM’s “Blue Suede Forever” and KFMG-FM’s “Culture Buzz.” 


Set during World War II, this poignant, briskly paced historical novel relays the events of one extraordinary summer from three engaging points of view.

On the morning of the dedication of the new children’s library in Belle Beach, Long Island, eleven-year-old Julie Sweet and her six-year-old sister, Martha, find a baby in a basket on the library steps. At the same time, twelve-year-old Bruno Ben-Eli is on his way to the train station to catch the 9:15 train into New York City. He is on an important errand for his brother, who is a soldier overseas in World War II. But when Bruno spies Julie, the same Julie who hasn’t spoken to him for sixteen days, heading away from the library with a baby in her arms, he has to follow her. Holy everything, he thinks. Julie Sweet is a kidnapper.

Of course, the truth is much more complicated than the children know in this heartwarming and beautifully textured family story by award-winning author Amy Hest. Told in three distinct voices, each with a different take on events, the novel captures the moments and emotions of a life-changing summer — a summer in which a baby gives a family hope and brings a community together.

Amy Hest discusses: 
  • Ways that teachers and parents can utilize the book in their class (check out this curriculum guide!)

  • The family love story that inspired her latest book: an aunt who secretly married her love on the brink of war before he is stationed overseas.

  • How Amy weaves her own experiences into each book she writes, including dialogue of what she wishes she’d said as a parent, and the real, ordinary events that have happened in her life.

  • The challenges that come with writing a novel versus a picture book.

  • Her upcoming projects and how she is currently navigating teaching writing courses online.

  • Tackling difficult subjects in her books, such as grief, loss, interpersonal relationships and war.

  • Her career, which spans over 40 books, including a NYT bestseller, and multiple award winners.

  • How her experience as a New York Public Library children’s librarian and publishing professional impacted her later work and pushed her to tell her own stories.

  • Her daily writing routine, favorite snacks, and experience living and people watching in NYC, one of her favorite settings for her books.


Amy Hest is the author of many beloved books for young readers, including Remembering Mrs. Rossi, Letters to Leo, and the Katie Roberts novels. She is also the author of many picture books, including Kiss Good Night, When Jessie Came Across the Sea, and On the Night of the Shooting Star. Before creating her own stories, she was a New York Public Library children’s librarian and children’s publishing professional, and currently teaches children’s writing courses at Bank Street College of Education. For all those who feel like their life isn’t exciting enough, Amy writes to celebrate everyday life, and the joys, laugh, and love that come along with it. She has worked with a number of prominent illustrators, including Amy Schwartz, Jenni Desmond, P.J. Lynch, and Jill Barton, and her previous books have also received starred and recommended reviews from Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, Booklist, and Kirkus Reviews, and have been recognized by The New York Times, The Horn Book, Washington Post, American Library Association, and many more. Amy lives in New York City. 

 Author Website 

THE SUMMER WE FOUND THE BABY (Candlewick Press; August 4, 2020; Hardcover; ISBN: 9780763660079; 192 pages) has received rave reviews so far:

Press Release :: Jacket Art :: Publisher Page

On the morning of the dedication of the new children’s library in Belle Beach, Long Island, eleven-year-old Julie Sweet and her six-year-old sister, Martha, find a baby in a basket on the library steps. At the same time, twelve-year-old Bruno Ben-Eli is on his way to catch the 9:15 train into New York City. He is on an important errand for his brother, Ben, who is serving in World War II. But when Bruno spies Julie, who hasn’t spoken to him for sixteen days, heading away from the library carrying a baby in a basket, he has to follow her. Holy everything, he thinks. Julie Sweet is a kidnapper. Of course, the truth about the baby they’ve found is much more complicated than the children know in this heartwarming and beautifully textured family story by award-winning author Amy Hest.

THIS ORDINARY STARDUST: A Scientist's Path from Grief to Wonder By: Alan Townsend, PhD

LISTEN THIS ORDINARY STARDUST: A Scientist's Path from Grief to Wonder By: Alan Townsend, PhD A compassionate exploration of scientific ...