Archive for the 'Non-Fiction' Category
Monday, May 13th, 2013
Join me in welcoming Fleur Gaskin to Highlighted Author
Fleur Gaskin calls herself a Kiwi. She grew up in Wellington. When she was twenty, she left New Zealand to start her career as an international model. She travelled Asia and Europe, modeling as she went. Now, she lives in Shanghai with her fiancé and two cats.
Author Fleur Gaskin is with us today to tell us about her debut novel, Arabelle’s Shadows-A Guide to Understanding Depression & Other Destructive Afflictions of the Mind. She has a fantastic website set up, Fighting the Shadows, to help both those with these disorders and those who have these people in their lives.
Welcome, Fleur. Please tell us about your featured book.
When I first started writing Arabelle’s Shadows, I thought I was going to write a kind of exposé on the truth about modeling. We always hear about the rich, glamorous lives of supermodels but their lives are so amazing because they are at the top of the industry. Most models lives aren’t quite so magical. It’s the difference between a celebrity chef on the Food Network and a line cook in your local pub. Then I started writing Arabelle’s Shadows and I found that I had much more to say. Modeling became the setting for my novel, not the focus.
Arabelle’s Shadows is about depression and learning how to love yourself. In the novel, Arabelle is constantly battling her vile Shadows. The Shadows are those dark thoughts in your mind telling you that you’re not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough. Not everyone becomes depressed the way Arabelle did, but most people have some Shadows to contend with. Sometimes they show themselves through an eating disorder, an addiction or anxiety. Sometimes they reveal themselves through a temper problem or an inability to stay in a relationship. I hope that readers of Arabelle’s Shadows will learn how to control their own Shadows.
My inspiration for writing Arabelle’s Shadows was to show that wealth, beauty, thinness won’t bring us peace. Happiness comes within ourselves.
What they’re saying:
“Arrabelle’s story is in the spirit of such classics as “Bright Lights, Big City.” It’s well written and well told from an insider’s view looking back. There’s a feeling of other-worldliness in setting which is very well described. Arrabella is growing up before our eyes and we can’t help but cheer for her.
If you like coming of age stories, human struggle stories and generally raw looks into a field where most people have a short shelf life, I think you’d have a hard time finding a better example than “Arrabelle’s Shadows.”—T. Dewhirst, Avid Reader
Written in diary form, this coming of age story is based on real-life events and provides an interesting look at the not-so-perfect life of aspiring international models. Arabelle’s Shadows is quite different from many of the New Adult books I have reviewed in the past, which is not a bad thing at all. I like different.
“The story deals with very real issues, including depression, eating disorders, and suicide, to name a few. And though there are guys galore, it isn’t your typical boy meets girl, lots of angst ensues, boy and girl finally get together, boy and girl have major misunderstanding, and then boy and girl make up and live happily ever after. No, this book is real and deals with very real situations, insecurities, and relationships, which more often than not, are messy.”—Nevaeh, Amazon Review
Everything in Arabelle’s life is coming together. She has confidence, great friends, she’s even dating Naak, a wealthy Thai socialite. But there are too many models in Bangkok. Arabelle’s broke, she can’t find an agent in New York, and Naak isn’t as wonderful as he first appears. Slowly the Shadows creep back into Arabelle’s mind, bringing with them thoughts of hopelessness and despair. The vile Shadows know something Arabelle’s refusing to remember and, if she’s not careful, they’ll use it to destroy her. Based on a true story, Arabelle’s Shadows takes us on a journey through the struggles of growing up, not quite making it as an international model, and attempting to overcome a crushing depression.
My day started off okay. I had a casting at Emporium, a shopping centre near Rompo. I’ve always loved being in Emporium. Outside it’s all hot, dirty and crowded but as soon as you walk through the entrance everything’s cool, spacious and sparkly. And it’s welcoming, even though it’s full of lavish designer stores. It’s not like other stuffy malls for the wealthy, which always make me feel uncomfortable like, since I don’t have a platinum credit card, I shouldn’t be there.
After the casting I saw my friend Ying Thompson walking towards the escalator. She broke off from the group she was with and came over to give me a hug. “Hey Arabelle, what are you doing? Come sit with me while I get my makeup done.”
“Are you doing a fashion show?” I asked her thinking of all the models that’d been with her. “Nope. The others are, I’m hosting the event. Come on!” Without waiting for me to reply she linked her arm through mine and led me downstairs towards a backstage area in the basement. Ying’s a very popular singer in Thailand. As we walked through the mall you could hear people saying her name and giggling. Ying paid no attention to all the turning heads. She was on the phone, in the middle of a fierce monetary negotiation with a client. They want her to become the face of their rice crackers.
The concrete room we entered was full of people bustling around getting ready for the fashion show. We found an empty space and sat down amongst everyone else’s handbags, shawls and bottles of water.
“So what’s been happening?” She asked in a strong Kiwi accent (her Dad’s from New Zealand, her Mum’s Thai-Chinese). “I think I…” I was bursting to tell her about Naak but Ying’s assistant interrupted and started asking a lot of questions in Thai. “Sorry,” Ying said focusing her attention back to me, “what were you going to say?”
“I was out at Bed the other week and… well… I think I’m dating Naak!”
Ying pursed her lips together in a frown, not the look of excitement I’d been expecting. “No you’re not.” Ying said flatly, “Naak has a girlfriend. She left to study in the States a couple of weeks ago.”
Looking away from Ying I caught sight of my reflection in the makeup mirror opposite me. My face was stuck in the smile I’d worn when I was telling her I had a boyfriend. Except now the lines around my mouth were strained. With bulging eyes my smile looked more like a grimace.
“I think they’re dating because her family owns a lot of the property on Sukumvit Road,” Ying continued. “You know, she’s only eighteen!” Naak’s thirty.
“Okay,” I murmured. I searched desperately for something else to say in response. Luckily the brand new mobile on Ying’s lap began to vibrate. With her perfectly manicured fingers, a tiny crystal heart in the centre of each nail, Ying set about replying to the text message. Ying hates all unpleasantness and it appeared that, as far as she was concerned, the issue was settled.
I’ve had plenty of experience detaching myself from my wretched weeping soul and by the time Ying put her phone down I’d rearranged my face into neutral. My robot body looked at my mobile and told Ying, “Sorry, I’ve got to go see the agency now,” it hugged her goodbye. It smiled and acted like Arabelle didn’t care that Naak had a girlfriend.
My insides died and disintegrated the whole journey home. I paused the tears right up until I exited the elevator. When I found no one in my shared room I blinked, allowing them trickle down the sides of my face and jump to the floor.
Get your copy of Arabelle’s Shadows at these fine outlets:Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Arabelles-Shadows-Fleur-Gaskin/dp/1481073915/ Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/arabelles-shadows-fleur-gaskin/1114301682?ean=2940045092241 Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/255578
You can find more about Fleur here:Website: http://fightingtheshadows.com Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ArabellesShadows Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17282501-arabelle-s-shadows Twitter: https://twitter.com/fleurslove
Monday, April 15th, 2013
Join me in welcoming Pamela Sisman Bitterman to Highlighted Author.
Pamela caught my attention when I was introduced to her novel, Muzungu, then my heart with, When This Is Over, I Will Go To School and I Will Learn To Read, and my breath with, Sailing to the Far Horizon. All true stories, they prove to me that his woman is amazing.
She has been a guest speaker at Sierra Club, Palomar College, Southern California’s Writers conference, American Association of University Women, was guest of honor at Asteres Annual Event, Aboard The Star Of India Tall Ship, Arts That Splash, 39th Annual Local Authors Exhibit, and held Book Tour events and signings nationwide and abroad.
But it doesn’t stop there. The list continues with her radio interviews and television appearances on The Michael Dresser Show, Radio New Zealand National Radio, Nine to Noon Program, KPBS Public Radio, These Days Program, Discovery Channel, Investigation Discovery Program, series Escaped, Share the Candy Radio Webcast, Cruise With Bruce Radio, Travel Wise, Let’s Talk About Books with The1essence, and January Jones BTR.
I’ll let her tell you more in her own words. She’s much more exciting to read. *wink* Pamela, it’s all yours…
Today I am a mom, a wife, a writer, and an explorer who has tried to travel her world with her eyes, arms, heart and mind wide open. I am a youthful 6o years old; strong, wise, weathered and seasoned. I hope to be able to proudly proclaim myself to still be all the aforementioned and more, in the years ahead. I have worn many hats along the road thus far; teacher, student, counselor, naturalist, sailor, mediator and more. I have been on quite a journey, with tremendous love and laughter, sadness and loss, beauty and wonder, struggle and survival. Great joy, and great heartache. Life. I would want very few do-overs. I am grateful for everything. I have been fortunate! My life continues to be an ever evolving work in progress, as do I. My first book, Sailing To the Far Horizon, is graphically biographical. It encapsulates me as product of the first thirty years of my rather unconventional life.
Muzungu, the story of my unlikely escapade throughout Kenya, picks up on that journey a couple decades later. I also wrote a children’s book about this experience titled “When This Is Over, I Will Go To School, And I Will Learn To Read; A Story of Hope and Friendship For One Young Kenyan Orphan“. It was illustrated by the orphans I worked with in Africa. Both are the personal accounts of my work and travel through Kenya as the epitome of Muzungu, the Swahili word for white man. Literally translated, Muzungu means “confused person wandering about.” Fit me to a tee! In between the adventures that were the subjects of my first and my later books were my marriage and children, my persona as wife and mother – the heart of me; me as my best self. As I explain in Muzungu, during those intervening years, the “yee-hah!” exhilaration of climbing out onto life’s edge had never entirely died out in me. It had merely been lying dormant beneath a meticulously constructed, implied housewife persona, a twenty-five year stint of nurturing-mother prioritizing for which I had absolutely no regrets. Everything had turned with the seasons, as they should. And a bygone time had finally come back around, although to what purpose under heaven remained to be seen. My future also remains to be seen, and to be told. Can’t hardly wait!
Sailing to the Far Horizon
One woman’s true story of life, loss, and survival at sea.
“I keep reminding myself that I have seen the pictures, heard the stories, read countless books. There is an exotic world out there comprised of brilliant wonders and fascinating cultures, promising endless horizons and illuminating adventures, inducing me with wholly unique challenges, and daring me to accomplish awesome leaps of faith. The Sofia is my ticket.”
Sinking; The Life Rafts
The moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one, that never otherwise would have occurred. — GOETHE
On this fifth day [hopelessly adrift in life rafts following the sudden and violent sinking of our tall ship, the Schooner Sofia] we realize that we are no longer seeing distant ships off on the horizon or the occasional plane soaring overhead. And we hear far fewer heralding cries or have welcome visits from curious shorebirds venturing out to examine our unnatural presence. Already well outside the shipping lanes, we have been carried steadily out to sea, on our way to nowhere. When incurably wide-eyed and ever-hopeful Chris asks Evan [our skipper] if we still have a good chance of being saved, Evan fixes on his imploring stare and answers with accuracy and uncharacteristic gentleness. “No Chris, not much,” he replies. Evan then lays his head on my shoulder and sleeps. In nearly four years of countless highs and lows across half the planet, this simple gesture is the most sincere and spontaneous intimacy that my captain and I have ever exchanged.
We need to patch the raft yet again, a prospect now both futile and horrific. We are being barraged by a family of sharks. They rub their sandpapery bodies along the thin, grainy raft floor, bumping us about like we are on a carnival ride. By the second day in the rafts, I was forced to announce to my captive audience that, whether we liked it or not, I was menstruating. Amid a chorus of alarmed male sighs, the other women raise their hands in a reluctant but resigned “me too” acknowledgement of undeniable feminine unity. As is so often the case when women live together, our cycles had synchronized. Nature delivered us yet one more cruel jab: There would be blood in the water. The sharks are now our nearly constant companions, a patient and persistent entourage. Patching the leaks is no longer an option. Besides, our raft is almost beyond repair. Our having to go into the ocean for good is imminent, and we all know it.
About the book:
Muzungu, the Swahili word for white folk, translated literally means “confused person wandering about.” During the author’s months working and traveling through Kenya, this description fits her to a tee. Her audacious Kenyan adventure makes for a bucket load of anecdotes and impressions born of heart and hands-on experience–enough to knock your socks off.
“Order this phone today” some sweet confection-nicknamed, neon-colored, ultra sleek mobile “and help wipe out AIDS in Africa!” the television commanded me within minutes of my collapsing for the first time in my Southern California living room after spending nearly two months in Africa. Now, what does that mean? I pondered. The next morning, a headline in the fat newspaper on my doorstep informed me that a tiny band of rebel fighters trapped somewhere in the African jungle were caught killing mountain gorillas. They were eating them to survive. Some American animal activist group was positively outraged. “Yes, outrageous,” I sighed.
Since returning home, reflecting on the time I spent in Kenya has proved to be a frustrating exercise. Throughout my journey I toted my copy of National Geographic, the issue on which the title page flashed, Africa: Whatever you thought, think again. I was hoping that somewhere in this illustrious expose I would find validation for the conflicting messages I was receiving. To make matters more confounding, from the moment my plane touched down back on U.S. soil I was buried in an avalanche of material insidiously designed to debunk my own eyewitness accounts. As a result I began to question my perceptions, which in turn caused my intention to commit the experience to print to stutter and then stall out completely. I feared that if I wrote an honest appraisal of my adventure I would be vilified. Even worse, I was afraid that what I wrote would have a deleterious effect on the people of Kenya, the people I went there to help. Then later on, while leafing through the stack of magazines that had piled up in my absence, I stumbled upon an article that casually discarded the term hunger, substituting in its place the new PC term, low food security, when describing the unpardonable state of the starving multitudes on the planet. It was at that moment that I pledged to tell my story.
Curious as to how the media’s tone when dealing with current issues jived with my personal impressions, I collected every Dark Continent news tidbit that cycled down the pike. Culling information from a variety of sources and comparing it with anecdotes from my own journey, I ferreted out what I hoped amounted to the litmus test for a Kenyan reality check. Materials from newspapers to newsmagazines, adventure journals to journals on health, and nonprofit charitable organizations to profiteering political organizations, were referenced and offset against my own experiences. As a result I began to suspect that the media’s Africa had taken on a life of its own and that tragically that life had precious little to do with improving the lives of Africans. It became increasingly apparent that although my story was certain to be a great many things, one thing it would never be was representative of the norm. I am changed as a result of my trip to Kenya though not in any way formerly anticipated. In addition to acknowledging the existence of the established abominations at work in Kenya, I expose some lesser-known evils. In the end I wrestle a few slippery demons of my own.
David arrived home to San Diego six months after I did. I called him immediately and we got together to catch up. He seemed like the same old David, ”happy, kind, helpful, manic, and refreshingly clear-eyed and unsentimental about the situation in Maseno. I was thrilled to have him back, had dozens of ideas to run past him, and felt such a profound sense of comradeship that I became cautiously optimistic about completing the book. My Kenyan cohort confirmed everything I remembered, sensed, questioned, and concluded about our shared experience at St. Philip’s. I am not crazy . . . I consoled myself. Then David stepped off the front porch of his and Michael’s sweet little cottage, strolled down his lovely tree-lined street, settled beneath a blossoming willow on a soft green lawn, and calmly sent a bullet through his brain.
Get your copy of Muzungu here: https://www.ebookit.com/books/0000000120/Muzungu.html
When This Is Over, I Will Go To School, And I Will Learn To Read
Proceeds go directly to the Kenya orphans.
From the author:
No one knows the story of Kenya better than the children who live it.
I had the opportunity to travel to this country and become immersed with the families there. The result is a 1500-word nonfiction children’s picture book containing over 70 unique and original color images, titled, “When This Is Over, I Will Go To School, And I Will Learn To Read: A Story of Hope and Friendship for One Young Kenyan Orphan.”
This true story of one little boy is told in his own words.
While there are many books about Africa on the market, none are told from a child’s point of view like this one.
The children from the village created the book’s illustrations. I asked these students to draw what represented family, love, happiness, sadness, fear and hope for them. I have also included powerful photographs of the children, the school, the village and the countryside, the hospital, the mobile clinic and orphan program.
It is this truth that is certain to nudge the hearts and minds of parents, teachers and children everywhere.
I have promised all proceeds from the sale of this book to the children of the tiny village school where the illustrations were created. They trust me. And they wait.
My name is Julius. I am six years old and I have never been to school. I live in Kenya, Africa, with my bibi(grandmother), my dada (sister) Sarah and my kaka (brother) Hezron. Hezron is only three years old, but he is much bigger than I am.
We live in a mud hut on our little shamba (farm) in the forest.
Baba (father) and mama (mother) are gone. They were very sick and they could not get better. Our bibi cares for us but she is old and she cannot see. Sarah protects us. Sarah is eleven years old.
Professor Nancy is a kind bibi with skin and hair the color of cornflowers who comes to our village. She sees the hands and feet of my jamii (family) and says, “You have jiggers. Jiggers are bugs that crawl under the skin and lay eggs. You must come to my mobile clinic and orphan feeding program this weekend.”
I tell her, “When this is over, I will go to school, and I will learn to read.”
Get your copy of When This Is Over, I Will Go To School, And I Will Learn To Read here: https://www.createspace.com/4054600
Want more Pamela? Here’s where you can find her:
Monday, April 8th, 2013
Join me in welcoming Helga Hayse to Highlighted Author
Helga Hayse educates people on the role that money plays in family relationships. She leads workshops on financial intimacy for couples and between parents and children. She writes and speaks from the heart, leading people through her personal experience with transforming pain into regenerative legacy between generations. Helga is a popular guest on radio, television and internet talk shows discussing the role of money in families and marriage.
Her books include “Don’t Worry About a Thing, Dear” – Why Women Need Financial Intimacy which chronicles the author’s experience of suddenly being widowed but being prepared with the financial and emotional tools to rebuild her life, and “Reconstructing Aphrodite”, a compilation of personal narratives of breast cancer survivors published by Syracuse University Press.
Welcome, Helga. Please tell us about yourself and your featured book, “Don’t Worry about a Thing, Dear” – Why Women Need Financial Intimacy.
A year before I was widowed, I created “A Wife’s Guide to Financial Savvy,” a seminar to teach women about the need for their financial participation in their marriage. I was married to a businessman in California, a community property state. My name was on all the company documents, thus making me responsible for all financial obligations the company had, even though I had no decision making power.
Just as I was launching the seminar in the public arena, my husband died suddenly in a traumatic accident. The information I had researched to teach other women helped save my life.
I wrote “Don’t Worry about a Thing, Dear” – Why Women Need Financial Intimacy to help wives in community property states protect their financial interests in case of divorce or widowhood. Too many women are vulnerable to financial hardship because they have not participated in their marriage finances. I show women why they should participate, how they can, what they need to know and plan for and how to encourage their husband to create a financially intimate marriage.
My background is Investigative Journalism. I was a reporter for the San Jose Mercury News and a freelancer for a wide variety of publications. In researching this subject, and interviewing over 100 women, I realized the lack of transparency in marital finances harms women more than men. This book is designed to even out the playing field.
What they’re saying:
“As a clergy person who delights in performing weddings and counseling I was thrilled to read this book. I now give it to all my couples as their first wedding present. I urge them to read the book together, fill in the checklists with the appropriate information to share attitudes about money and to seek answers to those things they do not understand or agree upon…. I urge other clergy to read and recommend Ms Hayse’s book. Her style is direct and understandable. It is immediate and clearly heartfelt. She takes away the mystery surrounding the topic of finances and, through her own compelling story, encourages all to become familiar with the steps to financial intimacy.”— Ellen Schwab, Cantor, Peninsula Temple Beth El
“Every woman should read this book – it is an easy read and extremely informative. I am amazed at how many successful women I know (some with higher-paying jobs than their husbands), trust their husbands to handle all their financial affairs without full knowledge of the situation…. As a former banker, I can tell you Helga’s advice is sound. On a personal note, her way of educating you is encouraging and motivating. You will not be disappointed in this book.”— Cathy Keys, Project Manager, Oracle Corporation
“Helga Hayse weaves together her own personal story with sage advice for women on taking an active role in their own financial future. She has a great writing style that’s easy to read, but doesn’t talk down to the reader. Her recommendations are thoughtful, and include some good general tips on how to have a meaningful and productive conversation with your husband. This is a great book that’s worth getting, and worth holding on to.”— Dr. Scott Haltzman, Author of “The Secrets of Happily Married Men”
Helga interviewed on Better.tv
How well are you prepared?
Take Helga’s 1 minute Financial Intimacy Quiz
“Don’t Worry about a Thing, Dear”
If you’re married or intend to be, this book will act as your guide to achieving financially open marriage. You’ll learn step-by-step how to protect yourself against the financial consequences of divorce or widowhood.
Financial intimacy in marriage is not about trust. It’s about being a well-informed partner who understands the total financial picture between you and your fiancée or husband. The law says you’re entitled to this information. This book will teach you how to get it.
Why I Wrote This Book
“When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge.”
I loved my husband and suffered agonizing trauma and loss after he died suddenly in an accident. But after the early years of sharp grief subsided and I began to pick up the pieces of my life, I started to think of him as a more idealized version of the man I married than as the man he actually was. After many false starts writing this book with that idealized image in mind, I realized I hadn’t been emotionally honest with others, or myself, about the relief I felt to be free of the financial pressures — and resentments — I often experienced in our marriage.
These years of being on my own have allowed me to live life without the distorting filter of my husband’s preferences and dreams. But without the financial preparation I completed — some on my own, some with my husband — my life would have been dramatically different. I would never have recovered financially from the burden of his death. I would never have forgiven him for risking my future safety to achieve his dreams. And I might have felt guilty forever for all the things I hadn’t shared with him.
Today, I would never allow someone to make financial decisions for me without discussing the consequences of those actions first. I would insist on understanding anything I sign – a contract, an income tax return, a letter of intent — that would obligate me financially. But I wasn’t like that during my two marriages. The first ended in divorce; the second ended in death.
Like so many other women I know, my marriage had a public face and a private face. It endured because of protective fictions on my part that ate away at me slowly, but steadily. I realize now how those fictions enabled the relationship to function.
My personal story is a backdrop against which to frame a larger and more widespread problem that exists for millions of women in the United States: the lack of understanding and participation in marital finances. Our willingness to let our husband handle the finances in the marriage impacts our own financial safety and our ability to cope in the event of widowhood or divorce.
That’s just what I did. I assumed that my husband was smarter about money than I was and that he had my best interests at heart. In retrospect, it’s clear that he was doing what he wanted to do – build his business, hope it would be successful, and, in that way, serve both our interests. What he failed to do, and what I didn’t know I should do until my own realization about financial intimacy, was build in the protections for me if things didn’t go according to plan. As it so happened, nothing went according to plan.
I’m not unique. Like many of you, I confused money with love and didn’t understand that the institution of marriage removes your financial autonomy. Whatever else it may mean emotionally, a marriage license is first and foremost a contract of partnership recognized by the state as a legally binding agreement. Once you say, “I Do”, you are one-half of a legal and financial entity. From that point on, whatever your husband is doing, or intends to do financially, whether you know about it or not, you are, or will be, doing it, too. The same holds true for your husband. But if he is the one who is controlling your marital finances, you are the one at risk. You’re the one for whom I’m writing this book.
Oddly enough, in most states, it’s easier to get married than it is to buy a gun or get a driver’s license. For the gun, you must wait 10 days, or whatever the law is in your state, while the authorities run identity checks on you. A 16-year-old can get a driver’s license after passing a written and driving test. The authorities can revoke either the permit for the gun or the driver’s license if you engage in illegal behavior.
In my county in California, you can get married within 30 minutes of applying for a marriage license. What does it take? Bride and groom have to be there, show an official ID such as a driver’s license or a passport, and pay $78 (cash only) for the license. No blood test is required. No questions asked. No skills evaluated. No competency demonstrated. No background check instigated. In other words, the state makes it appallingly easy to get married – and miserably complicated to work your way through the financial consequences of widowhood or divorce.
That’s why money – understanding it and being able to talk about it in a conscious, responsible and respectful way – is as important to your marriage as sex, romance and love. We lavish our attention on the latter three – and assume that money will just take care of itself. It doesn’t.
The sad truth is that going into marriage, it’s all about love. Coming out of it, either through widowhood or divorce, it’s all about money.
In this book, I’m not going to give you detailed or complicated legal or financial advice. My goal is to alert you to your rights in marriage and how those rights are compromised by romantic fictions about marriage. I hope that after reading through the chapters, you will seek expert legal and financial advice for the actions you need to take to protect you if something happens to end your marriage.
Get your copy of “Don’t Worry about a Thing, Dear” at Amazon.
Connect with Helga Hayse! Here’s where you can find her:
Monday, December 10th, 2012
Join me in welcoming Thomas Smith and James Darrell Williams to Highlighted Author.
Thomas Smith is a journalist by trade and training. His work covering the entertainment world continues to appear in publications including Music Connection under the name Tom Kidd.
Darrell Williams has never written anything in his life until deciding to tell the world what it is like to live with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID, formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder).
Tom & Darrell met in 2008. They live together peacefully with all of the kids inside Darrell and a miniature pinscher named Tigger.
They are with us today, sharing their memoir, Which One Am I?.
Welcome to Highlighted Author, gentlemen. Please tell us how you came to write Which One Am I?
After spending more than 20 years as a journalist, publicist and educator, something told me it was time for a change. Though I searched for something to keep me busy in my middle years, it seemed like doors in the professional world were closed to me. In 2008, when I met Darrell in a Long Beach bar, I immediately knew this kind and thoughtful man would have an effect on my personal life. There was no way of knowing that he would change my professional life as well. He wanted someone to tell his life story. Of course, I knew from dating him that he had multiple personalities. That didn’t faze me, having become used to people changing personalities immediately after they left the stage. As we came to better know each other, I knew what he had experienced growing up with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) was a story the rest of the world needed to hear.
What they’re saying:
“My mental health professional mind nodded at Tom’s keen grasp on the technical and ability to break it down into nonprofessionals’ understanding, my nursing heart wanted to gather Darrell and the children to protect them. Fortunately, Tom and Darrell found one another, keeping each other safe and loved.”— Sherry Jones Mayo
Which One Am I?
There are at least 16 personalities inside James Darrell Williams. But who is he really? And why? “Which One Am I?” is a singular story about universal truths, horrors and grace. Setting their work apart from other memoirs, the authors explore the nature of family and how Darrell – and all of us — are shaped by culture, history and geography. After two years of research, Darrell and his partner Thomas Smith dug deeply into family secrets, Southern culture and Darrell’s own psyche to explore portrayals of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) in popular culture and the psychiatric community, linking them with the events that made Darrell the man he is.
It was a shame what Carolyn did to that man. It was bad enough that she went and fooled around on R.D., but then she listened to Bertha Merriman and named that baby of hers after that no good James Darrell Jackson! What would people say? They would think R.D. was less than a man, that’s what they’d say. That is, if they ever found out the truth. R.D. wasn’t about to let anybody know, not while he was alive and sure not while that boy was still breathing.
As far as anybody knew – as far as he knew – James Darrell Williams was the youngest of five. The Williams family always called him James, a name he came to detest as it was usually followed by an accusation of something he was supposed to have done. After he got big enough and far enough away from his tormentors, he’d always call himself Darrell.
Years would pass before anybody would tell him who his father was. At the time of Darrell’s birth, R.D. was making what living he could working odd jobs for his good friend and next door neighbor Gene Merriman. Only a teen himself, R.D. worked in the rice fields until Gene took him under his wing and taught him to drive a bulldozer. Until her accident, Darrell’s mother Carolyn worked in one of the small town’s factories making shirts.
The Williams were barely adults when they got together. Richard Williams, who always called himself R.D., was just 17. That’s him in the photos on Darrell’s bookcase, all sinew and swagger. With his father’s farm fanning out behind him, the dark-haired youth stares down the camera, daring it to show that he wouldn’t be the world’s best husband and father if given half the chance. He is every inch the proud young man.
Off his shoulder is Carolyn. She was just 14 when they hooked up, not nearly as self-assured as R.D., but still trying to portray the proper lady in a pleated skirt fashionable for its place if not its time. Change her hair from brown to blond and she’d look just like she did the day she died.
Those who knew the Colemans always said that Carolyn was the prettiest of the girls. She had the looks and figure that could attract a husband or two. A dark-headed Sandra Dee, there was something darkly mysterious hidden behind her innocent appearance.
She has clear, determined, blue eyes that stare straight out from under hair done up for the occasion in a flawless bouffant. It’s a picture of someone who doesn’t want her picture taken, doesn’t want to be frozen in time with these kids and this man. She looks past the camera, focusing on something off in the distance that no one else can see.
She was no Sandra Dee, quite the opposite in fact. Carolyn loved bad boys. R.D. was only the first one she would marry. For the rest of the family’s lives, they would tell outsiders that R.D. was a good man, but down inside they all knew better. Even if her parents had seen fit to warn her away from R.D., by the time they knew anything was going on she was already pregnant with Johnny, the first of five children who would bear R.D.’s surname.
Relations don’t always add up to family. Just because they were growing up young in the South didn’t mean they also matured. There wouldn’t be all that many more family portraits because R.D. wasn’t generally around that much. Darrell’s maternal grandmother explained that Carolyn and R.D. had a difficult marriage, but really it went way past that. Today, one might say that R.D. was violent and abusive. The alcohol didn’t make things any easier. Their families just saw them as two argumentative kids.
They would fight pretty often, immediately after which R.D. would just take off to wherever he went when he was mad. Eventually, those two would make up – and make up good. Then who knows what would set them off and the whole pattern would repeat itself just as assuredly as the pattern on the mobile home’s wallpaper.
The only thing that would be different each time was the name of the baby Carolyn would be carrying whenever R.D. came back. After Johnny was born, there came Ronnie, giving them two tow-headed little boys. These were the first natural blonds in either family’s known history. No one seemed bothered by this turn of events. At least no one ever commented.
R.D. and Carolyn must have been getting along about as well as they ever did at that point because there were a couple of years until Bobbie Lynn, their only daughter, came along. Bobbie Lynn was the first of the dark-headed kids with Alan following about a year later and Darrell not long after that.
There was actually supposed to be a little more time between Alan and Darrell but whether it was from the beating or just because that’s how Mother Nature intended, that last child showed up early. Bertha Merriman, who raised all of Carolyn’s kids, kept the tiny baby in a shoebox in a dresser drawer by her bed.
It would have taken a strong constitution and a more mature couple to live long with the instability in R.D. and Carolyn’s house. By the night R.D. smashed that pale yellow highchair into Carolyn’s three-months-pregnant stomach, she was making plans of her own.
No one really knew what ticked off R.D. the night he went after Carolyn. It could have been the frustration any laboring man encounters in a town where there’s not much steady work. Maybe it was the idea of his teenage sweetheart with another man. Maybe it was the panic of knowing there was going to be one more mouth to feed, a fifth baby to break the bank.
That night, Carolyn was over at the Merrimans’ trailer. There weren’t any maternity clothes available, so she was dressed in a pretty little pink nightgown. R.D. hadn’t been drinking that night, but the news that Carolyn was pregnant again was more than enough to get his juices pumping.
He’d just come from work with his shirt rolled up to the elbows as always. R.D. was just dropping in like he sometimes did. Given the pattern those two had developed over the years, it’s surprising that Carolyn’s news came as a surprise at all.
This pregnancy was different. Despite the stories her sisters and mother were already putting together, Carolyn knew the truth. She knew R.D. knew it too. All she wanted was for him to forget what he knew and to go along with the lie. R.D. was too proud for that. From behind the window of her fearful eyes, she watched his face get red.
“What do you mean? That baby can’t be mine,” he hollered, adding just about every expletive one could imagine. “It’s a bastard child! You whore!”
With that, he picked up the nearest heavy object he could find, which just happened to be the same high chair all his babies had been using. He was going to use it to knock this bastard child right out of Carolyn.
It took the whole family to beat him off. Aunt Bertha and Grandma Coleman were both armed with frying pans. Grandma Williams grabbed the next heaviest thing she could find, a heavy plate. Later in his childhood, Darrell would recognize this same plate with its multi-colored circle pattern. He ate dinner off it many times in the years after R.D. came back to take the rest of the kids away.
Right after his attack on his wife, R.D. took off again just as he always did. Unlike all the times before when he’d disappear, this time he didn’t come back much. Darrell wouldn’t even meet R.D. until 1972 when the boy was five or six; right after Carolyn had the accident. Though R.D. would sometimes come by in later years, he never stayed around long enough to make much of an impression. The man Darrell always knew as his father never would say the boy’s name. R.D. would always introduce Darrell as “my youngest.”
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Monday, November 5th, 2012
Join me in welcoming Tema Merback to Highlighted Author.
Tema was born to a Holocaust survivor, Dina Frydman from Radom, Poland and Leo Balbien who was rescued by the Kindertransport from Vienna, Austria. She was raised in a loving home by two people whose lives had been shattered by the Holocaust, though in entirely different ways. She attended Granada Hills High School, worked countless jobs, and became a Kathryn McBride Scholar at Bryn Mawr College, following her passion for literature and art history. As she married and had children, her desire to write was deferred by the demands of a family.
Through the years, several writers have approached her mother with hopes of telling her miraculous tale of survival. Unbeknownst to Tema, her mother had long ago determined that only she could bring this book to fruition, that only she would write it with an intimacy and compassion that no one else could. In the Face of Evil is the result of a collaboration of two forever bound souls, a mother and a daughter.
Ranking #12 on Book Movement, In the Face of Evil has received outstanding recognition, including Silver Finalist in the category of Young Adult Literature for the National Jewish Book Awards for 2011 and being an eBook of note on the prestigious International Raoul Wallenberg Website whose members include Nobel Laureates and International world leaders.
You can find more at The Jewish Journal, April 26, 2011, by Ryan Torok: A daughter tells her mother’s story of the Holocaust, The Jewish Journal, May3, 2011, by Ryan Toro: Holocaust Book Reading Brings on Reunion and More, and MalibuPatch, April 29, 2011, by Jonathan Friedman: A Novel Idea to Tell a Survivor’s Story.
Welcome, Tema. Please tell us about yourself and how you came to write In the Face of Evil.
When I was a child I knew my mother was different. I didn’t really hear her accent but all of my friends did and would ask, “Where is your mother from? Is she from Hungary? She looks like Zsa Zsa Gabor.”
“Poland, she’s from Poland,” I would answer. To my friends my mother’s foreignness was other worldly. She might as well have been an alien from another planet. She was an enigma even to me as I tried to fathom the differences between her and my friend’s parents. It wasn’t such a stretch of the imagination for me to conclude that I didn’t really know my mother. From time to time I wondered why my mother had no father, mother or siblings. What had happened to my grandparents? I wondered why she had a tattoo on her forearm and why during the summer she wore a Band-aid to cover it up. Later when I asked her why she wore the Band-aid? She would shrug and say she didn’t want to be stared at or endure the inevitable questions that the indelibly blue A-14569 would elicit from strangers.
In the 50’s and 60’s no one spoke of the Holocaust or World War II for that matter. I don’t remember ever learning about it in school, at least in terms of the Holocaust. I was about nine when I finally began to persistently question her as to the mysteries that surrounded her. You see, I didn’t just love my mother I was in love with my mother. She was so startlingly beautiful that all of my friends would constantly comment on her beauty. It was like an aura that shone so brightly that even children were taken with her. Forget about the countless men that were drawn to her. Even with four children in tow between the ages of three and nine they would come up to her and hit on her, using any excuse just to bask in her glow. She enjoyed being beautiful but was never comfortable or secure with it. In other words, she never really owned it. It was just some fluke of nature, something she hadn’t earned. I, however, only wanted to look like her and be like her.
She was hesitant to share her past but I must have been relentless because little-by-little she began to share her stories. At first, she spoke mostly about her family, reminiscences of incidents and events, family history and the city she came from. Her eyes would light up in reverence as she spoke of her father, mother, sister and brother, her grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Then as suddenly, her eyes would cloud up and fill with tears as I continued to badger her for an answer as to what had happened to them. Eventually, she shared it all with me and I became part daughter, part psychologist, and part family historian. It became a routine that on Sunday morning I would climb into bed with her and having saved up a hundred questions during the week I would interrogate her. I was insatiable for answers and this hour usually ended with the two of us sobbing. I would wrap my arms around her feeling guilt that I had provoked such sorrow, wanting to comfort the pain that could not be comforted. I felt like the parent, the protector of this soul that had known such horror and lost so much. It seemed inconceivable to me that anyone could survive what she had. In my efforts to reassure her I would promise to never leave her and profess my love of her for all of time. “Mommy, when you die I don’t want to live another day.” She would laugh and say, “Of course you want to live. Life is the most precious thing we possess. Believe me, even with all of the evil in the world there is nothing sweeter than life.” So would another session end with her hugging me, “Besides, I am not leaving so fast I will be with you a long time.”
My mother has kept that promise to her child of being with her for a long time. The days and years have flown by as they tend to do and I feel that the circle that is life gets ever smaller. She is older now and not a day goes by that I don’t worry about her fragility. Yes, she is still beautiful but not in that effervescent lusciousness of youth. Her beauty is more haunting and like a mirror her face reflects the years of deprivation and loss that were her teens. Yet, her spirit is as pure and incandescent as it ever was. It is a mystery to me how anyone who has witnessed what she has could hold such an enduring belief in the goodness of mankind. Today, she often reminds me of an ancient philosopher of Greece. Ever the pragmatic idealist, she has long resigned herself to the inexplicability of life.
It is important to remember during these rapturous days that are summer that even with all of the imperfections and disappointments that come with the daily task of living, there are miracles to be sure. My mother lives by example and she is an example to us all. Be sure to appreciate all that you have been given and all those that you love.
I always knew that one day I would write and publish a novel, the question was never if, but rather what and when. Subject matter presented itself wherever I looked, however, for some reason I was not prepared to tackle the one story that was personal, the one that threatened perilously near my heart. Creating the story of my mother’s survival of the Holocaust seemed a journey through Hell and one that might prove to be too painful to revisit. Then it struck me, what if the memoir became a novel written in the present, in the voice of my mother as it occurred. The journey would become one of hope, a passage from ashes to redemption. A novel of an adolescent transformed into womanhood set against the background of world conflagration. “In the Face of Evil” was born.
I am currently writing my second novel.
About Dina Frydman Balbien
Dina Frydman was born in 1929 in Radom, Poland. Radom is situated about forty-five minutes by car from the capital city of Warsaw. Her parents Joel and Temcia Frydman were hard working people that owned and worked at their Kosher and non-Kosher butcher shop. Dina had an older sister Nadja who was six years her senior and a younger brother Abek that was three years her junior. They were an educated middle-class family, religious yet modern. They saw the future as a bright beacon of possibility, a place where Jews would find through education and hard work equality and success.
In September of 1939 when Dina was 10 years old all of the Frydman family’s dreams and aspirations were ended when the Nazis conquered Poland. From that moment forward until sixteen year old Dina’s liberation at Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp life become a deadly game of survival. From work camps to death camps Dina did, through countless miracles, survive. Sadly, none of her family would share that fate. Her mother, father, sister and brother were murdered at Treblinka and Auschwitz. Only two of her cousins from her extended family of aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents survived.
After Dina’s liberation she spent time at DP facilities in Germany and a school for orphans at Aglasterhausen, Germany before immigrating to the United States in May 1946. She lived in foster care with a family in Philadelphia and attended Overbrook High School for two years. In 1949 she moved to Los Angeles, CA to live with a cousin that offered her a permanent home. She graduated from Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights and through necessity went to work. OnApril 5, 1952 she married Leo Balbien, a Kinder Transport immigrant from Vienna Austria who served in the US Army.
Dina was a full-time mother to her four children: Tema Nadine (named for her mother and sister), Joel Abraham (named for her father and brother), Joshua Nathan (named for both of her grandfathers), and Sarah Gail (named for both of her grandmothers).
In the last twenty-five years Dina has spoken to schools and synagogues in California about the Holocaust. In 2008 her daughter Tema Merback began a novel based on her amazing story that was published in January 2011. In the Face of Evil: Based on the Life of Dina Frydman Balbien has received critical acclaim from readers throughout the world and now has been honored by the National Jewish Book Council as a Finalist – National Jewish Book Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature. The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation has also recognized In the Face of Evil as an e-book of note by recommending it on their prestigious website www.raoulwallenberg.net .
The novel, like The Diary of Anne Frank, spellbinds the reader with its ability to recreate the world in which Dina lived prior, during and after the war. Written in Dina’s voice we experience her transformation from child to teenager to woman while surviving occupation, destruction and imprisonment. Through it all Dina’s strength, perseverance and positivity all factored into her survival. She retained and exemplified the only possession left her by her loving family: Morality, ethics, love and forgiveness.
Her life is an inspiration to friends, family and all who read her story. Dina lives in Thousand Oaks, CA with her husband Leo. They have seven grandchildren.
What they’re are saying:
“This book is the outcome of three miracles. First, the mother Dina Frydman, lived through the Holocaust, surviving an unbelievable, all too true set of tragic experiences that wiped out her entire family: occupation, ghetto, work camp, slave labor, Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen (in its final stage of total collapse and chaos). Miraculously, she came through with her goodness, honor and affirmation of life intact. This book reflects those qualities.
Second miracle: for decades, in an incredible feat of memory, Dina relived and told her stories, recounting them with pitch perfect recollection, including a vivid gallery of portraits of friends, family, victims, persecutors, and with vital scenes of the kindness and cruelty of strangers, the love and incapacity of family, the support and saving help of friends.
Third miracles: Dina’s daughter, Tema Merback, absorbed these stories and reproduced them in this authentic, gripping, moving account. What the mother could not do – put her testimony in a book – the daughter has done and without losing any of the fire, or the suffering, or the heartbreak or the moments of relief and of despair. In the end this book communicates an irrepressible, overflowing life force and decency and hope in the face of the most inhuman crimes ever.
As authentic, as compelling, as devastating as a survivor’s account written at first hand, this book snatches memory and life from the jaws of oblivion and gives them as a gift to its readers.
This book was a mitzvah to write and a mitzvah to read.”—Rabbi Irving (Yitz) Greenberg, Founding President, Jewish Life Network; Founding President, CLAL: The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership; Chairman, United States Holocaust Memorial Council, 2000-2002.
Tema Merback, October 16th guest speaker at Santa Monica College for their Literary Lecture Series.
In the Face of Evil
Seventy years have elapsed since the end of my childhood and the beginning of World War II. The destruction of community and family that followed the German invasion and conquering of Poland precipitated and forced me into an unnatural adulthood. The odd windfall of this calamitous event is a searing imprint of memory. Faces and voices have followed me my entire life offering up their advice and counsel, whether desired or not, shadowing each step as I steered my course through the seas of life. At times they have proven to be more real to me than yesterday’s events. Often, these friendly ghosts have capriciously danced through the corridors of my dreams as real and alive as the last day that I saw them. Like the story of “Brigadoon,” the mythical community of book and song that reappeared every hundred years and for one shiny bright inexplicable moment sparkled through the mists of Scotland, so has the vanished world of Radom, Poland returned to me in dreams and at times in waking just as it was long ago. The joyous community with its various degrees of religiosity, the marketplaces and shops, the places of learning, the observance of holidays, the intellectual liveliness, and of course the devotion and celebration of the Sabbath are all safely locked inside the reels of memory that play like a film in my mind, alive again.
Although I have tried at times to put the war behind me for both mine and my children’s sanity, like the tattoo that I bear, it is burned into me and has colored every moment of my life. With the passage of time there have been endless books with their endless revelations as to why or how such a nightmare could have occurred, but in the end the only lesson learned is that it happened. The Holocaust happened and millions perished through systematic slaughter. A world of people with their joys and sorrows disappeared and with them went a way of life. The apocalypse has long passed and the years have flown by like the clouds in a windblown sky. Soon there will be no survivors left and the keepers of the memory will be just that, a memory. So it has come to me, the bearer of the torch, the last to remember their sweet sojourn among friends and enemies before I, too, leave this world of bitter sweetness. The tale has now been written of those who lived, that they may endure and that you might know them.
Dina Frydman Balbien
Radom, Poland Summer of 1939
An Ordinary Family
From the window of our apartment, I look down on the bustling streets. The morning sun shines on my street, Koszarowa Ulica, a busy thoroughfare in Radom’s Jewish quarter. Placing my hand on the window, I feel the warmth radiate through the glass. The bright August morning pours into my bedroom, casting away the shadows of a doubt-filled night. The ordinary ebb and flow of life seems to continue in a reassuring cycle of sunrises and sunsets.
Across the street, the shopkeepers are opening their stores. Michal the baker comes out and looks at the sky. A smile spreads across his plump face as he brushes some flour from his prominent nose. Mrs. Rabinowicz greets him, and with a last wistful glance at the sky, he follows her into his bakery. The birds’ songs crescendo in the tall chestnut trees lining the street, adding to the symphony of daily life. People hurry through the busy streets in pursuit of their daily callings. Bicyclists weave among the horse-drawn carriages, or dorozkas1, the principle form of transportation throughout Poland’s cities. Life seemed normal enough on this warm summer day in 1939. I rub my eyes in an effort to dispel the dream that still plagues me, trying to make sense of the visions of the night. It has been two years since my beloved zaida2 passed away. Last night in my sleep, he came to me. Reaching across the barriers that separate the living from the dead, he touched me in an urgent gesture to communicate. Standing at the foot of my bed, silently beckoning me to acknowledge his presence, he hovered; his large immaterial body shimmered before me. His eyes, the color of blue ice, bore into me through the veil of death. He conveyed a warning I could not fathom. The ghostly apparition had disturbed my peaceful slumber and I had brusquely shooed my grandfather away, reminding him that he belonged in the afterworld of the dead.
I awoke with a horrible feeling of guilt and remorse. Why had I not reached out to him full of the love we once felt for one another? I had not asked him why he was there. Instead, in the imaginary landscape of my dream, I had told him to leave and not to return. How could I have sent my beloved grandfather away? I tried to brush the vision from my mind and replace it with the happy memory of my grandfather as he was in life, Jekiel starke, meaning Jekiel the strong in Yiddish. Rhythmically swaying in his rocking chair, he impatiently waited for our cherished daily routine—when I climbed on his lap and kissed him. Together we would rock as he told me stories of his youth, the security of his arms enfolding me, his white beard tickling until I was reduced to giggles. The fond memories of a favorite grandchild encircled me in a blissful cloak of warmth and safety, shielding me from the terrors of the dream.
Find more about Tema here:
Monday, October 29th, 2012
Please join me in welcoming Elliott Flies to Highlighted Author.
Elliott is a resident of Saint Paul and is an attorney for a Minnesota insurance company. He and his father, Kenneth, wrote Retrieving Isaac & Jason to raise awareness of adoption issues and to encourage others to find their own unique families.
Elliott (known as “the writer”) is actually the human “translator” of the heart-warming story told by a yellow lab named Kai. Her grandfather, Kenneth, (whom she simply calls “Gramps”) also helped out. Ken resides in Eagan with his wife Millie (also known herein as “Granny”).
Proceeds from the sale of Retrieving Isaac and Jason will go to The Sharing Foundation, a non-profit organization which empowers young lives in Southeast Asian orphanages.
Elliott is represented by Lien Public Relations.
Welcome, Elliott. Tell us a little about yourself and your featured book, Retrieving Isaac and Jason.
My new book, Retrieving Isaac and Jason, is the story of two men in a committed relationship who adopt two boys from Southeast Asia. The story is told through the eyes of a clever and funny yellow lab retriever named Kai. I have a legal background and this is my first book. What inspired me to write this book was living through the joys and frustrations of international adoption, being part of an atypical American family and wanting to record the story for my sons. I hope readers relate to the joy I receive from my family.
What they’re saying:
“a deeply personal and very human story of two dads adopting two Asian boys, filtered through the pen – and point-of view – of Kai, the most erudite Labrador Retriever punster to fill a page. Kai writes about her “pack” with unconditional love, lacing her story with joy and wit, as her two dads (whom she calls “the leader” and “the writer”) drop her off with Gramps and Granny in Trout Valley while they travel to Cambodia to “retrieve” their first son, Isaac.
In using a dog’s voice to tell their story, the father-son writing team avoids any tendency toward cuteness. In their hands, it is a clever conceit by which they fully dramatize the need of gay couples to gain recognition as a family without making speeches, waving banners, or occupying any public places.
Readers will fall in love with this non-traditional family, and may find themselves becoming very careful of what they say in front of their pets, especially Labrador Retrievers.”—Sally Childs, the original director of the Jon Hassler Theater and Rural America Writers’ Center
“It is a such a beautiful, heartwarming story…I laughed, I cried, and I didn’t want it to end. There is so much love in this family, and it is told with a perfect mix of education (about the adoption process), humor (by the adorable pup narrator, Kai), and emotion (about the joy of having Isaac & Jason join the family). This story has such great life lessons, and I highly recommend it!”—jrnyc11, Amazon customer
“Put this book on your “must read” list. It is a treat. A story of love, commitment and determination told through the eyes of Kai, a gorgeous and witty labrador retriever. Whether you love children, animals, or just want to laugh and cry, you will not be disappointed. What an amazing bond there is between the members of the “pack”, it really warms the heart.”—Carol M Tempesta (Mamaroneck, NY, US)
“This is a beautiful tale about the desire to build a family. The story, written through the eyes of Kai takes your breath away. You feel like you are on a fantastic treck with the main characters to create a family. For adults and children, a beautiful read.”—Lucy, Amazon customer
Retrieving Isaac and Jason
IN this heartwarming tale, Kai the Minnesota-born yellow Labrador Retriever recounts how she and her two dads adopted her human brothers. With a unique canine voice and perspective, we learn about the arrival of Isaac in 1999 and then Jason in 2002. Relying upon her innate abilities to see things through the eyes of obedience devotion known only to a young yellow lab dog, Kai deliver a gift of love through her words and stories that will make readers laugh and cry as they follow Kai’s amazing journey to create her own pack.
My name is Kai, or so I’m called. Officially, with the American Kennel Association, my full name is Kai (pronounced like “hi”), Waters of the Sea. I really had no choice in the matter, come to think of it. They just showed up one day at the little kennel next to the big white house where I was born, asked a lot of personal questions about my lineage, and peered at me and my siblings like some sort of governmental inspectors. Being the boldest of the brood, I decided to go check them out first. Bounding across the yard, I bumped right into the blonde one before I could really stop. A mere six weeks old, I wasn’t fully up to speed on all of my important functions quite yet. I sniffed them thoroughly determined that they weren’t from around here. They had no fine country odor or farm-fresh scent. I fixed that pretty quickly by peeing in the dark-haired one’s lap.
Despite their big city smell, I decided right then and there to adopt these two wayward souls and form our own new pack, or family as they call it. These dads obviously needed mentoring on the important things in life, such as digging up flowers in the garden, chasing pesky felines, and cuddling up with a fresh rawhide chew next to a roaring fire. My first challenge was finding us a place to live. My mom’s kennel was certainly too crowded, what with my seven brothers and sisters constantly yelping and falling over each other in their collective effort to get fed. Luckily, after a rather long car ride, we found a nice house in the town of Minneapolis. We retrievers are good hunters, as you may know, whether it be for waterfowl or a good place to call home.
I immediately set about re-initiating the house into a proper canine dwelling. I set up several comfortable sleeping places-on the cool basement floor for hot and sultry summer days, in the upstairs bedroom surrounding by mounds of blankets for those chilly winter nights, and in a strategic living room locations where I keep constant watch over the front and back doorways. There was much more speak in this house than I was used to. Quite a bit of territory for a six week old puppy like myself to guard.
I also undertook the Herculean task of training my two dads to let me outside at the right moment before my yet-to-mature bladder let loose on the kitchen floor. These two proved quite trainable. After no too many accidents, they learned to let me outside as soon as I would head toward the back door and whimper. Who says you can’t teach old humans new tricks?
That was several years go no and much has changed. I’ve grown quite a bit, trained my dads well, and live a pretty comfortable life here along the banks of a great river. They call it the Mrs. Ippi, or something like that. I think it’s named after that snooty women with the ugly poodle-schnauzer mix up on the 36th Street.
I decided to record the events of the past few years because they have been so strange. I should have know something was up when my dads began spending long evenings filling out endless forms relating to their finances, health and fitness to raise a child. “Adoption,” they called it, whatever that meant. I’ve learned that adoption is a process by which families of destiny find each other, kind of like when I was adloped by two dads by in 1997. We also visited on a few occasions by some lady they called a “social worker.” She was nice and all, but kind of nosy about some pretty personal details, if you ask me. I guess all of these strange goings-on related in some way to the arrival of a tiny new person to our house (and later, another one). Believe you me, it has really shaken up the normal routines of my life in many ways.
And so I am sharing with you this intimate diary of events leading up to the separate arrivals of two little boys, my brothers. Lord knows my dad has no time to write anymore, what with all that diaper changing and baby rocking. So it is up to me, as usual, to take upon myself another important task. I’ve already cornered the market in our house on chasing squirrels, barking at phantom noises, and chewing the excess paper off of that funny looking roll next to the giant water bowls they call toilets. How much can they expect a dog to do and still get 16 hours of daily sleep.
So please bear with me as I try to recall what has transpired before my own eyes to re-tell the things I did not witness but which were told to me in excruciating detail. All in all, it has been an amazing journey. Aside from a few bumps and bruises from some rather intense stick chasing and ball retrieving that I endured last summer, these were the years that I adopted my third and fourth persons and, as I have come to find out, my best friends. I have done my doggoned darndest to tell a fair and impartial story, but you can expect that my version of these important events might be flavored with a bias towards the more important things in life: a good morning run, two regular feedings per day, and plenty of naps. After all, this really is a dog’s life, and my dads and little brothers are lucky to share in it.
Get your copy today: http://www.retrievingisaacandjason.com/pages/the_book.html
You can find out more at http://www.retrievingisaacandjason.com./!
Monday, October 8th, 2012
Join me in welcoming Armineh Helen Ohanian to Highlighted Author.
Armineh was brought up in Iran before the Islamic revolution; earned her BA with honors from the Open University in the U.K. and lived in twelve countries before landing on the peaceful shores of Long Island. She paid her way through school writing the weekly romance feature in her church magazine in Tehran and translating children’s storybooks from English to Farsi. Among her published works are Dreaming of America, The Talking Animals and Magic. The Talking Animals, a collection of classical fables, has been used in schools in Long Island since 2003. But she’s here today with her new release, The Apple Tree Blossoms in the Fall.
Welcome, Armineh, please tell us about yourself.
I began my writing career as a teenager. At the age of fifteen, I wrote children’s stories and sent them unanimously to our church monthly magazine, Noor Jahan, in Tehran. Although, this happened ages ago, I never forget the day when I saw my first story in print. It happened on a Sunday after the church service when I bought the magazine from the church bookstore.
As I began leafing through the pages with trembling fingers, I suddenly came across my story. Though, my heart was fluttering with joy and excitement, I decided to keep calm and refrain from sharing the good news with my friends who were standing by me in the churchyard.
The following month I mailed another story, and it was published again. These secret writing episodes continued for a whole year without a single soul suspecting about the identity of the mysterious writer. For, I signed my name as, ‘AP’ – the initials of my first name, Armineh, and the last name – Petrossian.
One year later, while idling in the church yard with my friends, a nineteen-year-old boy called Mahmood, revealed my secret. He announced loudly, “I think I know who ‘AP’ is.” Mahmood, then laughed and carried on, “AP is nobody else, but our Armineh Petrossian.”
I blushed and fidgeted nervously. I was hoping to be able to keep my writing saga a secret for good. For me, the whole idea of being a mysterious writer was sensational. I loved it when I heard people saying what a good writer ‘AP’ was.
The news of the discovery of the mysterious writer in our church resonated like an exploding bomb. Subsequently, I became well-known not only in our church, but in churches all over Iran.
At eighteen I was already writing the magazine’s feature story. I was also translating books from English into Farsi.
I am a graduate from the American Girls School of Iran Bethel in Tehran. I also have a BA with honors from the Open University in the UK in Humanities.
I have authored two novels: Nine Years to Freedom and The Apple Tree Blossoms in the Fall. The latter was published by Lazy Day Publishing LLC on the 26th of September. I have also written two volumes of my children’s story series called The Talking Animals. Recently, I completed volume three—The Adventures of the Little Acorn—co-authored by my teenaged grandson, Alec Ohanian.
The Apple Tree Blossoms in the Fall, is a fiction—heavily based on my own life experiences. My purpose of writing this book has been to share with my readers—especially women—the lessons learned from a rich, challenging, and eventful life.
What they’re saying:
“Congratulations to Armineh Ohanien for the publication of her fascinating book THE APPLE TREE BLOSSOMS IN THE FALL. I had the pleasure of reading Ms. Ohanien’s manuscript before publication and it was an engaging read on a fascinating subject, giving the reader a glimpse into the lives of a family trying to escape an extremist regime in an historicaly significant period of time in the country of Iran shortly after the takeover by the Ayatollah Khomeini. Kudos to you, Armineh!”— Goldie Browning “Writer”, Amazon review
“The Apple Tree Blossoms in the Fall is a fascinating story! It transported me to a time and place where human relationships and habits were different from today. I traveled to Arak, a strict Islamic city where Carineh was born and raised until she was 11 years old. I lived through her experiences as a young girl in Teheran; rich and spoiled to start with, and then destitute. I saw her fall in love with the man of her life and go against her family wishes when they found out about his true identity. (forbid her to marry him.) I felt her insecurities and emotional ups and downs, wishing she were taller, blond, and more assertive. Some passages are really funny and others so sad…I cried when her beloved father died from pneumonia after he got baptized in a cold river to become a born again Christian. I was amazed to meet Ayatollah Khomeini as a guest in their house during the time when her father did some business transactions with him. This happened way before Ayatollah Khomeini took center stage in the Iranian politics. Reading this book made me realize that miracles are possible. Indeed, I saw the apple tree blossom in the Fall!”— MVVO, Amazon review
“Carineh and her sdventures kept a smile on my face every time I turned a page as I was invited to join her journey from Iran to Europe to the US as she pursued a new life with her husband and two children. From stories of her father trading tales with Khomeini in pre-revolution Iran, to her family’s fall to poverty when her father died from baptism in frozen waters, to her sudden love for the handsome Caro,, followed by the relisation that her husband was hiding a secret from her – these glimpses into this determined woman’s life were so intriguing. The insights into Armenian and Iranian culture were fabulous. The story moves swiftly and leaves you wanting more. A truly great read.”— BettyMay, Amazon review
The Apple Tree Blossoms in the Fall
The Islamic revolution is imminent. Carineh, an Armenian beauty, knows it is time to leave Iran. The country she grew up in is drawing back to its Islamic roots. Carineh would vehemently hate to wear a veil, to the point that she is willing to say goodbye to her homeland, her father’s resting place, her family, and friends.
In The Apple Tree Blossoms in the Fall, Carineh narrates stories of her life in an Iran before Ayatollah’s time. She also recounts tales about her new life in Europe and America. This book offers a unique insight into Iran, Islam, Armenian culture, and the fascinating life of a jet‐setting woman.
UNCLEAN AT ANY PRICE
My three brothers, my sister, and I were born in Arak, a city in central Iran. Our stately house was situated on a slight elevation at the end of Gerdu Street, on a four-acre plot of land that was protected by high walls. A block away, not too far from a chain of high reaching mountains, stretched the railroad tracks. I am sure people walking past our home wondered what lay behind those forbidding walls. To us, our enclosed property represented a safe haven: a place where vicious people could not harm us the way the Turks had massacred over one million of our people during the days of the Ottoman Empire. My father always kept a gun handy, just in case we encountered any danger. However, he had no use for it. Generally, Iranians are not a violent people.
Our property contained two buildings. One was a two-story house with a huge wraparound porch in which we lived. The other was a two-bedroom farmhouse-style building with facilities built for guests. I sometimes think that if Hars Jan had been alive, my father would have allocated the guesthouse to her. Alas, she died long before my father built our house.
One of the guests, who stayed there twice, happened to be Ayatollah Khomeini – at the time, Mullah Khomeini – with whom my father did some business transactions.
The first time Khomeini stayed at the guesthouse, our Muslim servants were shocked to see him eating food with an Armenian – my father.
I was not born yet when my father entertained Khomeini. I learned about his story through my brother, Arthur, years later. In 1979, when Khomeini came to power, I was a married woman, living with my husband and two teenage children in Monnetier, France.
My brother called me on a snowy morning and asked, “Do you have the TV on? They are showing Ayatollah Khomeini.”
I rushed to the sitting room and switched on the television to channel two – the special French national news channel. There he was, gingerly descending the air stairs of an Air France carrier at the Mehrabad Airport in Tehran. He appeared quite authoritative, in his black clerical aba and his white turbaned head. Khomeini gazed through his piercing pair of black eyes at the multitude gathered at the airport to greet him. He waved at them in a self-satisfied manner. The Ayatollah had overthrown the powerful Shah of Iran and was about to replace him.
Arthur’s excited voice echoed over the phone, “You know who this Khomeini character is, don’t you?”
I answered, “Not really.”
All I knew about the Grand Ayatollah was that he had been a nuisance to the Shah all through his reign, and that the Shah had deported him to Iraq. I was also aware that the Iranians had rebelled against their monarch, thanks to Khomeini.
“In the past, Ayatollah Khomeini was the lord of a village called Khomein,” Arthur explained. “Besides being a cleric, he was a merchant of hides, carpets, and resin-a valuable commodity in the textile industry.”
Arthur added that our father used to purchase these goods from Ayatollah Khomeini and shipped them to the United States.
Apparently Father met the young mullah the first time during a transaction at the bazaar, where my father’s office was located.
“Father found Khomeini to be an open-minded mullah,” Arthur told me. “Khomeini told Father that he was willing to read the Bible, provided our father would agree to read the Quran.”
The story goes as follows: after a few months, the two men began holding religious discussions together and comparing verses from the two Holy Books. Then, during one of Khomeini’s visits to Arak, my father invited him to stay over at our guesthouse.
That night, after the two men finished having their dinner and my father retired, Kall Askhar, the head servant, went to talk with Khomeini just before the young cleric prepared for bed. Khomeini, sitting in the armchair wearing his brown informal aba, stared at Kall Askhar through those same dark, piercing eyes quizzically.
Kall Askhar said softly, “Although we all love and respect Arbab Tadevos – Master Tadevos – and his family, we never touch their food.”
Khomeini, rubbing his thick beard, inquired with a smirk, “May I ask you why?”
Kall Askhar looked baffled! He thought that the honorable mullah should know better.
Khomeini, reading the servant’s mind, smiled, and shook his head. He then rose to his feet from the low armchair and approached Kall Askhar. Placing a firm, reassuring hand on his frail shoulder, he stressed, “Don’t worry, you can eat their food without having any remorse.”
“But…!” Kal Askhar protested, opening his small beady eyes widely. “Everyone knows that Armenians are Najis – defiled – and their food haram - unclean.”
Khomeini kept nodding his head and muttered, “The Armenians are clean, God-loving people just like us. Besides, these people have a Holy Book. What’s more, we Muslims accept their prophet, Jesus.” Khomeini smiled, and added, “And, yes, you can perform your daily prayers in this house.”
At the time of Ayatollah Khomeini’s visit, Arthur must have been a ten-year-old boy and my eldest brother, Arsen, was twelve. The following morning, Khomeini called the two boys to him and asked if they liked horses and donkeys. Arthur babbled eagerly, without giving Arsen a chance to open his mouth, “Oh, yes, we like horses and donkeys very much!”
During dinnertime, Khomeini had asked my father, “Where do you get the milk for your family?”
Father had answered that our milk came from a cow and some sheep from our own farm.
“How much milk does your cow produce per day?”
Father had rubbed his chin, contemplating for a second, and said, “Well, that’s a hard question to answer. We have never measured the milk.”
Khomeini had asked, “A bucket … two buckets?”
Father had nodded. “Yes, I should say one bucket.”
Khomeini had said, “That’s nothing. I’ll send you a young cow that will produce more than two buckets a day.”
That was how we came into the possession of a healthy, black cow and an extremely stubborn, snow-white donkey.
Arthur and Arsen loved their pet. The donkey was still alive and kicking people who approached him when I was born. Actually, I do remember him madly kicking up his hind legs as Arthur and Arsen teased him, and tried to ride him. I must have been three-years-old when he died.
Pondering my father’s and Khomeini’s business associations and their friendship, I ask myself, How could anybody in those days ever have guessed later in life, that same person would affect millions of Iranians’ lives so adversely? I also wonder what my father would have thought about Ayatollah becoming a dictator and causing all that bloodshed, if he were alive. Indeed, not only did Khomeini bring about death and destruction in Iran, he also changed the face of the Middle East for good. Khomeini was the reason why Islamic fundamentalism grew stronger, spreading like wildfire throughout the Muslim world.
Arthur’s voice on the other side of the line that day in 1979 suddenly shook me out of my reverie as he commented, “So, now you really know who Khomeini is.”
I walked toward the fireplace, held my left palm above its dancing flames, and laughed, “Yes… the same mullah who gave us the white donkey!”
Get your own copy of The Apple Tree Blossoms in the Fall here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Apple-Tree-Blossoms-Fall/dp/1612580602/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1349167464&sr=8-1&keywords=Armineh+Ohanian
Want more Armineh? Here’s where you can find her:
Author’s Den: http://www.authorsden.com/arminehhelenohanian
Monday, October 1st, 2012
Please join me in welcoming Diane Dettmann to Highlighted Author.
Diane is an author, presenter and teacher. She was a literacy staff developer and taught at the University of Wisconsin–River Falls. She co-authored Miriam Daughter of Finnish Immigrants and presented the book at international conferences in Finland and Canada. Diane was recently featured in the national education association today This Active Life. Her inspiration has touched and helped others through their healing after a death of a loved one. “Working your way through grief after the death of a loved one takes energy and courage,” says Diane. “Often angels float in and out offering support. The sudden death of my husband at the age of 54 surrounded me with many angels. Friends, family and total strangers floated into my life just when I needed them most.”
Diane lives in Afton, Minnesota, where she enjoys writing and spending time with her loving husband, Allan.
Welcome, Diane, please tell us about yourself.
I’ve enjoyed writing ever since I was five years old. As child, I often sat on the front porch steps and scribbled nonsense words on a rainbow tablet. I started journaling in junior high and took creative writing classes in high school. My tenth grade English teacher read aloud to us everyday and inspired me to follow my writing bliss. As an elementary teacher and literacy trainer in the public schools, I encouraged students to express their creative energy in dance, art and most of all—writing which in turn nurtured mine. My master’s program in “Curriculum and Instruction” pushed me deeper into the writing realm as I researched and wrote my thesis paper, “The School of Bliss: A School Designed for Students’ Happiness” which I presented at a national women’s conference in St. Paul, Minnesota. A year later, I began the rigorous process of National Board Teacher Certification that required hundreds of hours of writing. When I received my results, I was not only excited that I passed, but elated that I had received a perfect score on my writing section.
Being a self-motivated writer, I enjoy exploring new resources and ways to nurture my writing. I read books by authors like Natalie Goldberg, Julia Cameron and Anne Lamott. I love reading non-fiction, especially biographies and memoirs of famous people. The first biography I remember reading as a child was about Carol Heiss, the 1960’s Olympic figure skater. I couldn’t put the book down. It inspired me to practice another love in my young life—figure skating. My years of journaling and free writing were like ice-skating practice—they developed my writing skills while I enjoyed the flow of the pen across the page.
I finally got serious about writing in the 1990s. I started my own local writer’s group, “Quill and Thought,” published a few articles in education publications, and participated in writer’s nights where I read my work. In 2003, while reading journal entries about my husband’s illness and death, I realized how hard I had struggled to make sense of my life after the devastating loss. I knew I had a story in me, but was not sure how to share such a personal journey with the world.
In 2010, after rereading my journals and seven years of numerous starts, stops and working titles, I attended a writer’s conference in California. After nervously reading a section of a chapter to a critique group, their positive feedback inspired me. I returned to Minnesota, connected with Adair Lara, a memoir consultant, who encouraged me to keep going. A year later Twenty-Eight Snow Angels: A Widow’s Story of Love, Loss and Renewal finally reached the hands of readers.
What they’re saying:
“In this well written memoir, Diane tells of her emotional journey in touching detail.”—Mary Ann Grossmann, St. Paul Pioneer Press
“The reader is drawn in and captivated by Diane’s vivid account of her grief after the death of her loving husband . . . a powerful story of love, grief, hope and faith all can learn from.” –Mary Jacks, M.S. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
“Twenty Eight Snow Angels: A Widow’s Story of Love, Loss and Renewal by Diane Dettmann is an honest record of a widow’s difficult struggle that is inspirational…
Dettmann is brutally honest about her long battle with losing her beloved husband, and readers going through that dark valley will appreciate this story. It is well written and well edited. The author’s portrayal of herself, John Hohl, family members and her second husband, Allan, are believable and add to this memoir. This is a book that will touch many lives in a positive, helpful way.”—Alice D. for Readers Favorite
“Symbolically, the Twenty-Eight Snow Angels are for the 28 years that Diane and her husband, John, were married. One snowy night, Diane literally went out into her back yard, lay down in the snow and created snow angels. As you read her story, you will be amazed at the courage and fortitude Diane demands of herself as she faces daily challenges by pushing herself through her grief and learning to face a life alone and succeeding! It is indeed, “A BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN STORY OF A LIFE RENEWED”. Diane Dettmann has accomplished an extraordinary achievement in sharing the sadness and grief of her very private journey from Denial to Acceptance.”—Sharon D. Anderson, Ph.D.
Interview on KAXE 97.1 fm with Heidi Holtan
Click Image to open player
Twenty-Eight Snow Angels
Twenty-Eight Snow Angels
The following excerpt takes place six months after my husband’s death. It begins with a description of my struggle to make it on my own as I coped with my grief. Facing the responsibilities of a new job that I started a few weeks after John’s funeral only added more stress to my life.
Chapter 14 Comfort
THINKING MY JOURNEY through grief would be like a fifty-yard dash and my life would return to normal when I crossed the one-year finish line in June, I kept pushing ahead. However, no matter how hard I tried, I still struggled to get through my days. My brother Tom’s and John’s deaths had created an intense anxiety about my own mortality. Life continued to be a daily process of putting one foot in front of the other and just getting through it. Tired and exhausted, my life tilted and swayed while my heart slammed in my chest. I felt like I was dying. Every afternoon the dismissal bell signaled the end of the day. When the children filed by my office with their packs bobbing on their backs and smiles stretched across their faces I knew I had made it through another day.
One gray spring afternoon as I drove home, a sharp pain ran across my chest. I gripped the steering wheel, praying the ache would stop. When the pain intensified I panicked. Instead of heading home on Interstate 94, I took the I-494 exit and drove to the hospital where my clinic was located. Terrified I was having a heart attack, I pulled into the emergency room parking lot. I sat in the car and tried to calm myself down, but nothing helped. My breathing quickened. My heart raced. Afraid I was dying, I ran toward the ER doors. Part of me wanted to turn back, but something pushed me on. I told the nurse at the desk I thought I was having a heart attack.
She guided me into a curtained area where she checked my pulse and blood pressure. A doctor appeared carrying a chart and a clipboard in his hand. He jotted down my symptoms and directed the nurse to run a few tests. After an EKG and a blood draw, the nurse hooked up an IV and rolled me into a private room. She adjusted my blanket, nestled the call button next to me and said she would be back shortly with my dinner.
For the first time since the night of John’s death, a sense of comfort rolled over me. When my supper arrived, I devoured the salad, vegetables and chicken. Even though the meal was served on a plastic tray, it tasted like a gourmet meal prepared at a fine restaurant, quite the change from microwave popcorn and frozen dinners. After dinner
I called my sister to tell her I was in the hospital and left a message at work that I would not be there in the morning. Later, the nurse stopped in to check my monitors and helped me wheel my IV into the bathroom. She settled me back into bed and said my doctor would run tests in the morning. Then she handed me a small cup with a white pill in it and poured me a glass of water. She said the pill would help me sleep. I swallowed the tablet and leaned back into the newly fluffed pillows. Feeling drowsy, I clicked off the television and closed my eyes. The hum of voices in the hallway lulled me to sleep.
Get your copy here: https://www.amazon.com/author/dianedettmann
Want more Diane? Connect with her on the web:
Monday, August 20th, 2012
Please join me in welcoming J.C. Davies to Highlighted Author.
J.C. Davies attended the University of California at Berkeley and Harvard. She graduated with an Undergraduate degree in psychology and a Masters in public health. She, along with her book, I Got the Fever, has been featured in the news around the world, including, Istoe Independente (Brazil), Sábado (Portugal), Flair (Italy), Naticia al Dia (Venezuela), Nacion (Chile), El Mundo (Spain), ABC News, BBC News, New York Post, Asbury Park Press,… And the list goes on. To check it all out, visit JC’s News Articles page on her web site.
One time, at a book club, an up-in-arms overly PC race crusader asked who gave me the right to write this book. My answer is this: Don’t wait around for people to give you “permission” to do novel, creative, thought-provoking things. You won’t get permission. That is a promise.
That same person later demanded to know (with much righteous indignation), “Who are you?!” I am JC Davies. I have a lot of experience dating people from other cultures, and for the book I interviewed lots of people on the subject, but it’s the “doing” that gave me “the right.” We all have stories, but only a few have the cajones to put in the work.
The world of publishing is entering a whole new era. It is no longer controlled by elite publishing institutions who decide an author’s future via endless piles of rejection slips. Writers’ talents have been and still are being marginalized, but at the same time the powers that be are desperate for original content. So now more than ever, there is no more waiting at the mailbox for the approval of others. You control your own destiny.
To get back to your original question, Charlene: How did I become an author? I had a great idea, wrote a book about it, started a publishing company, learned the nuts and bolts of book publishing, produced a video, designed a website, made innumerable mistakes, and raged this country’s media machine on a daily basis. There were a lot of not-so-great things that came out of the process. Would I do it again? That is a tough one. I don’t think I have an answer yet. I will tell you that writing this book (with a picture of my naked men and all) is the one thing that people find the most interesting about me. I was an analyst on Wall Street for 12 years and no one ever wants to hear me talk about that.
What made you decide to write I Got the Fever.
When I started dating interracially over twenty years ago, there were no books on the subject. I have learned a lot over the last twenty years, but mostly though a painful process of trial and error. I wanted people to learn from my experiences as well as others’ who are quoted in my book. People have this idea that if they date someone of another race or culture something terrible will happen. They don’t know what, but they are sure it will “never work out.” I wrote this book to reduce the fear factor. To help make people feel more comfortable dating among other cultures.
Your book has stirred up some controversy…
People’s main objections about the book are claims that I am stereotyping or a racist. Most of these issues are raised by people who have not read the book. Yes, the topic is provocative, but I have gone to great lengths to get feedback from people of all different races and both sexes. It is not one-sided, not one person’s opinion. People who have dated interracially tend to really enjoy the book because they can really relate to the stories. As for stereotypes, any thoughtful person knows that some stereotypes exist for a reason and, yes, some are not true. I think the book dispels as many stereotypes as it confirms. One thing is for sure: if we cry “racist” or “stereotype” every time someone starts a dialogue about race, we are not going to get very far as a society.
Who’s your biggest supporter? (I know he’s your boyfriend *wink*) Tell us about him.
My boyfriend is a Persian Jew, raised in Iran and forced to leave his home by Ayatollah Khomeiniin during the Islamic revolution of 1979. But he has been in New York City for over 30 years now, so he is really just a cute Jewish guy with a funny accent. He doesn’t like to see all of the unfair negative press I have received, but he has supported me every step of the way. It has been a grueling almost three years, and I would not have been able to do it without his love and support.
What’s coming up next? Anything new for readers to look forward to?
Yes I have three book ideas I am thinking about, and another already in the works. The book currently in progress will discuss a race/culture that was not included in the original book.
I had two inquiries from major agencies asking if the movie rights were available, but the rights have yet to be sold. There are actually 2-3 different ways the book could be turned into a movie/TV show, so producers would have a lot of options.
Tell us about I Got the Fever.
The book is organized into five parts, one for each culture discussed (Jews, Asians, Blacks, Latinos, and Indians). There is not an overall conclusion, but the two most common cultural conflicts noted were food (i.e. some cultures eat some funky, possibly smelly, alive, and often very different food) and language (worried about feeling left out or family members talking about them). But the book also includes things like: Who is the most generous (Jews, Latinos, and Asians)? Who is the best in bed (Latinos)? Are those stereotypes about men’s equipment true (Blacks no, Asians sort of)? What are some of the dos and don’ts concerning his parents? What are some of the cultural customs that might be very different from how things are in the States?
What they’re saying:
“What makes “I Got The Fever” a must read, is that J.C. Davies does not give generic information that revolves around the typical stereotypes of interracial dating. Instead, she provides detailed comments from real people about how these relationships really work.” - Jason Hendrix
“The book is definitely a fun read thanks to Davies’ easy conversational style and keen sense of humor, which makes this a recommended book for anyone interested in relationships in general and understanding different cultures.” - Ernest Barteldes
Fox News Interview
Video from Silver Fox Book Club can be found
Radio Interview on Spin Talk with Alan
(Click on the image to go to their site and listen)
I Got the Fever Book Trailer
I Got the Fever
Are you sick of believing all the good men are either married or gay? Then it’s time to catch the fever—for intercultural dating, that is. The fact is, soulmates come in every color—and I Got the Fever can help you find yours. Injected with pants-wetting anecdotes, eyebrow-raising commentary, and plenty of juicy details, I Got the Fever offers a practical course of treatment for dating within five unique cultures: Latino, Asian, Black, Indian, and Jewish. Plus, author J.C. Davies delivers the low down on every question you ever had about dating men of other races but were too PC to ask:
- Do Asian men like their women submissive?
- Are Jewish men really cheap?
- Are all Indian men well versed in the Kama Sutra?
- Do Latin lovers live up to their reputation?
- Do Black men actually have big, er, uh, equipment?
Whether you’re already in an interracial relationship, contemplating one or just want to be entertained by JC’s conversational style and hilarious anecdotes, I Got the Fever is the perfect prescription for dating in a new and diverse world.
Shared with permission from JC Davies. More available at her Web Site.
Get your copy of I Got the Fever HERE.
Want more J.C.? Here’s where you can find her:
- WEBSITE: http://feverbook.com/
- “RACY JC” BLOG: http://feverbook.com/blog/
- FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/jcdaviesauthor
- TWITTER: https://twitter.com/#!/jcdaviesauthor
- YOU TUBE: http://www.youtube.com/user/jcdaviesauthor
- LINKED IN: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/jessica-davies/13/9b/460
Monday, July 2nd, 2012
Join me in welcoming Kelli Cooper to Highlighted Author
Author Kelli Cooper is a wife and stay-at-home mom of three. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and music and a Master of Science degree in education. Kelli is dedicated to using the challenges she has faced in her life to help others get through similiar situations and hopes that each person who reads her book will come away with a better understanding of herself, her need for Christ, and God’s unfailing faithfulness, love and support for her.
Author Kelli Cooper loves the Lord first and foremost. She is a stay-at-home mother of three amazing children, but what got her here is that she is a wife to a great husband…and a daughter-in-law by default. In her book, Love the Unlovable: In-Laws, Kelli shares from a heart of experience, her most real struggles with becoming a daughter-in-law. These are typical in-law issues that most daughters-in-law or mothers-in-law deal with from time to time, transcending the personal circumstances that surround them. As one reviewer stated, “The circumstances may be different for everyone, but the problems are the same and so are the answers.”
Kelli’s goal is to show others that they can overcome the marriage-busting issues that in-laws so often bring to the table in a relationship. You can get through it! You don’t have to allow them to ruin your marriage, but it’s not always easy. Though there are not always concrete answers to each situation, Kelli hopes that her personal situation will illustrate the importance of loving your in-laws, with or without a relationship with them.
Kelli is dedicated to using the challenges she has faced in her life to help others get through similar situations and hopes that each person who reads her book will come away with a better understanding of herself, her need for Christ, and God’s unfailing faithfulness, love and support for her.
Kelli grew up in Minnesota and has recently moved back there with her husband, Mike, to raise their family. Mike and Kelli are involved in several ministries in their church and hope to use their situation to bring others one step nearer to the Savior.
About the book Love the Unlovable: In-Laws:
Every marriage has issues. And every mother-in-law, father-in-law, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, sister-in-law, and brother-in-law is difficult to love at some point. In Love the Unlovable: In-Laws, Kelli Cooper addresses major issues that arise after uniting two people in marital bliss, with the intention of helping people learn to live with nightmare in-laws. Inside you’ll find biblically based, practical advice on how God would have us handle these challenging people that He has placed in our lives—whether we like it or not.
Unfortunately, a close relationship with one’s in-laws is far from the norm. Kelli Cooper speaks from a heart of experience in a genuine attempt to help others who find themselves in similar situations to rescue their relationships before they are too far gone. If nothing else, Love the Unlovable: In-laws is a guide to survival—how to deal with the less than ideal!
This book was written with many purposes in mind. The main purpose is to help women in the positions of both daughter-in-law and mother-in-law accept and cope with their situations; however, it is also a venue to share some of my personal experiences, which, some people may find difficult to believe. I also have shared some true stories told to me by friends or acquaintances that could certainly be considered sitcom or soap opera material.
In order to understand some of the stories I am about to share, some background information might be necessary. My husband, Mike, is the third of four children, including one girl, and three boys to follow. During his teenage years, Mike’s parents more or less told him that he would never really amount to anything and that he might as well live at home the rest of his life and take care of them. His siblings, however, were treated as though they had the world at their fingertips. They could do no wrong. While the other kids each had their own bedrooms and everything else they could ask for, my husband slept on a bed in the corner of the basement.
Because of this, among many other things, my husband had extremely low self-esteem. When I met him, though I was unaware at the time, he was sixteen years old and on the verge of being an alcoholic. He was on the road to nowhere. I was both surprised and appalled to find out that not one member of his family had ever encouraged him. He wasn’t even required to do his homework because his parents thought he wasn’t smart enough to do it anyway so there was no point.
When we started dating, I absolutely could not believe that he was failing classes simply because of a lack of effort. He did, however, with a little encouragement, start to put forth a bit of effort and made the honor roll in high school. He also put himself through college after being told he was too stupid to make it, at the top of his class. He turned his life around and made something of it, even when the odds were against him. His parents hate this.
My husband is the only one of their children who is married, though all of them are adults. He never had a relationship with either of his parents. His dad was always too busy with his older brother while his mom was busy with his older sister. The son who is younger than my husband never really had much of a relationship until he was older, but he, being the youngest, was able to do, say, and have whatever he wanted, which provided some consolation for him.
Mike was a senior in high school when he proposed to me. We were young, but I had been on my own for two years and we had been in a long distance relationship during those two years so as a couple, we were fairly mature and the marriage, we both believed, was God-led. From the day that he proposed to me, our relationship with his parents seemed to begin a downward spiral, which was soon going to plummet, through a variety of conflicts and experiences into non-existence.
Through these experiences, I have learned many things, including how not to be when I myself am a mother-in-law. Most of all, however, I have learned that every situation in which I find myself, contains a lesson that always seems to apply to my life.
There are things that I could have done differently and there are many that I wouldn’t change. I have learned from my mistakes and hope to prevent the same mistakes being made by those who read this. Whether you are a daughter-in-law struggling with your in-laws, or a mother-in-law, struggling with yours, there are stories in this book that will make you laugh in disbelief. There are experiences you can share in. Above all, there are snippets of advice from God’s word that could change both your heart and your relationship with the in-law in your life.
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Tate Publishing: http://www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore/book.php?w=978-1-60696-285-5