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I’m back in Malibu after four days of relationship-building in New York City! Sure, I was at an exciting conference, jam packed with thrilling authors. And, yes, I got to pitch my novel with great success. And, of course, there were fabulous books, exceptional panels, celebrity authors, classy parties, and heartfelt entertainment. But what really made the weekend for me was the opportunity to forge and strengthen relationships.

Getting to know people is usually at the top of my agenda for almost any social or professional engagement. I don’t mean meeting people; that’s easy. I mean taking the time to get a sense of who someone is, what they care about, what fascinates and inspires them. It’s a more focused intent that requires a deeper level of listening. So I was especially glad to be attending this year’s THRILLERFEST, the annual writers conference for the International Thriller Writers Organization, as the host of Empowered Living Radio because deep listening is at the core of what I do.

There’s something really magical about sitting down with someone for almost an hour with no personal agenda, no plan, no expectation, just a desire to listen and make them feel comfortable and heard. It takes me out of myself and engages me in a deeper way, until all my senses are a little sharper, a little more receptive.

Then there’s the moment when my guest forgets the microphone. It might come in five minutes or thirty. It might last for a few sentences or the rest of the show. But it always happens, even if just for a moment. The eyes sparkle. The laughter flows. They get that “Me, too!” feeling and jump in to share a new experience or perspective. It’s magic.

Friendship grows, from deep listening and empathy.

Being present–truly present–with someone. Finding that commonality between lives that might appear dramatically different. Exchanging perspectives. Bonding over shared experiences. Laughing together… at ourselves, at each other, at the lunacy and hardship in the world. Or sharing a silence, a sigh, and even a tear

Those are the relationships that excite me. Those are the conversations I seek to have. And that’s why THRILLERFEST 2014 was such a special event.

In addition to amazing conversations that I had with friends over meals, at cocktail parties, in corridors, or just waiting in lines to pitch our novels to agents, I recorded sixteen significant conversations for Empowered Living Radio!

Heather Graham and F. Paul Wilson chatted with me about the art of COLLABORATION. It was the perfect way to begin , with good friends talking story (as we say in Hawaii).

David Morrell opened his heart and shared heart-wrenching experiences of loss and profound wisdom on marriage that makes WORKING THRU HEARTACHE possible.

Anne Rice and Christopher Rice let me into their fabulously unconventional relationship so we could swap stories and parenting theories on MOTHERS & SONS.

Jon Land shared stories from childhood, insights from movies, and the stuff of heroes as we exchanged ideas on FRIENDSHIP.

Bob Gussin and Patricia Gussin made me feel like part of their big loving family as they shared the secrets of AGING ADVENTUROUSLY and binding families together.

Steve Berry and Elizabeth Berry chatted with me about the importance of preserving our history and shared their own personal family TRADITIONS OLD & NEW in the South, on Christmas, and even with their fans!

Tom Avitabile, Donald Bain, Raymond Benson, J. Carson Black, John Dobbyn, J.L. Hughes, D.P. Lyle, Boyd Morrison, Brad Parks, and Reavis Wortham all contributed thoughts, stories and wisdom about STAYING POSITIVE in the face of negativity. This will be an entertaining and empowering compilation show that had me laughing, thinking, and excited to add my own “Me, too!” moments. One of those guests got me laughing so hard that I spit water on my microphone!

Look for these THRILLERFEST shows, interspersed with my usual empowering line-up, on the Authors on the Air Global Radio Network between July and December.

Tori Eldridge
Tori Eldridge is a Honolulu-born writer, a 5th degree black belt ninja, and a former actress, dancer, singer on Broadway, television, and film. She writes action-packed, culturally-rich thrillers and mystically intriguing suspense, empowering non-fiction, and has taught ninjutsu and empowerment across the country.
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