Archive for the 'Inspirational' Category
Monday, November 25th, 2013
Join me in welcoming Lisa C. Miller to Highlighted Author.
Lisa C. Miller is an author of inspirational poetry. Through her writing she seeks to uplift others. She’s with us this week sharing her latest title, Inspirations from Heaven’s Gate.
I live in the beautiful state of Alaska with my family where the spirits of animals and men roam free. I am married to a wonderful man and we have three children and foster girls who bring us joy. I am currently a full-time college student and I write inspirational poetry.
I enjoy reading, writing, blogging, walking, family, social networking, scrap booking and photography.
I started out in a military family. My dad joined the Air Force when I was little so the world has been my playground. It is where I learned to get along with other people and accept myself.
What books do you have out?
I have published two books so far, Godly Inspirations for the Troubled Soul and Inspirations from Heaven’s Gate. Both are books of poetry with bible verses sprinkled within. They can be found on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
What do you hope to accomplish through writing?
I am able, through the help of The Holy Spirit, to write about the beauty and simplicity of life. Through words I want to reveal the beauty of Christ to the broken and lost spirits of humanity. Through pouring out my heart and tears and trying to be transparent I want to encourage people to see we are in this together.
When did you decide to be a writer and why?
I am very comfortable with books and pens and paper. I sometimes feel like I was born with a pencil in my hand and I started writing at six years old and it has just expanded from there. I have never passed a library or used bookstore that I haven’t liked. As you can tell I am very chatty about my life, books and writing.
Go right ahead and be as chatty as you like. *smile*
I am a Christian lady who comes from a Christian background and family. I came to know the Lord on a personal level when I was 17 years old. Since then I have been on a quest to learn more about Him and myself. On my journey I have come to realize my purpose in life is to write what is on God’s heart and encourage the broken and lost souls of humanity with it.
Here are two quotes I think sum up my writing life: “I am a little pencil in the hand of writing God who is sending out a love letter to the world” by Mother Teresa and “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart” by William Wordsworth.
Inspirations from Heaven’s Gate
This is book of poetry with bible verses sprinkled throughout the book. Written with the help of the whispered power of the Holy Spirit and daily guidance of the Lord. I do my best to listen to for the Lord’s instructions on a daily basis and write what is put on my heart to share with the broken and lost souls of humanity to help them with their daily struggles.
Once someone starts a life of prayer they are changed forever.
There is no going back.
The insights gained from the world around them are so powerful it is consuming.
When you have a life of prayer you have a huge responsibility for those around you.
Prayer is the first line of defense for the heart and soul.
Otherwise they are left bruised and bleeding on the side of life’s highway.
Prayer is to the soul what oxygen is to the heart life.
Whether we realize it or not we are actually comforted in the knowledge that someone
We hold dear those who hold us up to the throne of heaven.
They care for us so deeply that they will seek daily solitude to strengthen their own relationship with the Lord.
In doing so they touch heaven for us.
Our lives become more clear and focused.
Throughout their lives they have learned to slip their hands into the Fathers hand.
They help us to not drown in our daily struggles.
Our family, friends, and neighbors uplift our concerns as much as possible.
Prayer will bring healing & strength to those who are weary.
God’s love will flow from your heart to theirs to show that they are highly treasured.
His love has supernatural power and will bring life to those who honor Him.
Knowing the Father is always available.
It is a beautiful gift He bestows upon us.
“For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved & those who are perishing.” 2 cor. 2:15 (niv)
Get your copy of Inspirations from Heaven’s Gate here:
Want more Lisa? Here’s where you can find her:Author website: http://royalkees63.wix.com/inspirationbooks Personal blog: http://www.lisa-womanofthenorth.blogspot.com/ Facebook fan page: https://www.facebook.com/inspirationbooksbylisa Twitter: https://twitter.com/inspirationlisa Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/lisa-c-miller/72/b4a/aba Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/royalkees63/pins/ Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6581302.Lisa_C_Miller Author Central: http://www.amazon.com/Lisa-C-Miller/e/B007T8X6X4/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
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, 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 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, 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.
Get your copy here:
Tate Publishing: http://www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore/book.php?w=978-1-60696-285-5
Monday, June 18th, 2012
Join me in welcoming Cynthia Meyers-Hanson to Highlighted Author.
The short answer is that my mother died. Some people dream of being authors; my writing began as what could be described as a nightmare! HOWEVER, as she died, mom’s experiences ran the gamut from going through all the grieving steps a terminal soul follows to having what would be called a Christian NDE—if she had lived. I was in the room most of the times that she visited with God, Jesus, or multitudes of angels and souls. Believing everything she said, even during what others called babbling, I became her translator. When most of her messages from God panned out, people in Central Florida buzzed with the story of my parent’s death or Cindy’s tale. My grief counselor listened to my version of the events requiring I write my first book: Mom’s on the Roof and I can’t Get Her Down. That covers 1991-1994 or until interest in my saga died.
Years later, to my surprise- people from all over the USA suddenly called asking for copies. I had no paperbacks of my first book left even though 1,000 had been in print. Meanwhile, computers changed so drastically that my backup disk was useless. So, I input one chapter at a time FREELY e-mailing my new fans the story that way. The demand became too great, and my e-mail provider balked or locked me out. Soon, I found a POD and distributed through them. At about the same time, or starting in 2000, mom or God’s prophecies found in my first book began to materialize. My story, copyrighted in 1994, was proving itself as the truth! It felt miraculous—even for me!
Read more about Cynthia’s amazing story at her website. She shares how her books came to be.
It always surprises me to get a formal review on AMAZON, a blog, or somewhere else especially from perfect strangers; I am grateful for their input. I am used to people seeking me out and personally communicating with me about my book and their afterlife experiences. Many people think my first book is about grief recovery after mom’s death but it is so much more than that. Therefore, when a reviewer hits the nail on the head in their summation of my first book or any of my titles, it pierces my heart in a good way. My books are more about the afterlife, miracles, God’s wisdom and empathy for the human condition, and love continuing into Heaven than about my grief recovery process or personal details of my life; although that grief process runs the full gamut in my first story.
Having said that, my favorite Review follows:
“If you’re a skeptic wondering if Heaven exists, take this wonderful journey to the “Other Side” and back with Cynthia Meyers Hanson. If you have ever lost a loved one you will find faith and comfort between the pages. A true story ~ yet reads like a novel. A must read for all Seekers.”— Kathleen Hagburg
Other candid and special reviews of my first book entitled Mom’s on the Roof and I Can’t Get Her Down can be found my author webpage.
Mom’s on the Roof and I Can’t Get Her Down
Would you share an excerpt with us?
Intro to excerpt:
This segment is my favorite part of the book because mom’s slow march into death makes this story real but hard to follow. Once the reader gets here in the text, the miracles and prophecy from Heaven are in full bloom.
I Don’t Like Mondays
I couldn’t wait to get to work to talk to my friends about the predictions. As I stood in the computer lab talking to Ann, others began encircling me. I told them about Saturday and Sunday with my mom.
Some co-workers were just curious while others stood in amazement. Few could totally figure out why I was not crying as I spoke.
There was one friend who had lost his spouse to cancer. We became good friends. He sat and listened to my stories comparing them aloud to his own wife’s death. As he cried, I comforted him with words of faith.
When I arrived at my parents’ house after work, the Hospice nurse was perplexed. My mother had been talking about people named Betty and Tommy all day. I knew exactly who they were. Betty was my mother’s only sister. Tommy was her only brother. The age difference was large between Tommy and Mom. When he was a baby, she was like a mother to him. She was still talking about her family as I entered the room.
They were playing a game in her mind. Repeatedly, she chanted, “Now, you see me. Now, you don’t. Now, you see me. Now, you don’t.” Intermittently, Mom called out the names of her brother and sister.
Observing this game, I asked, “Who are you talking to?”
She was facing the window and could see the sky. Today, the sky was baby blue with very few clouds. It was a crisp, clear winter day. The sky was quite beautiful, and she was seeing it as if for the first time.
“Ooooh, isn’t the sky beautiful, today?” Her hands were outstretched to the Heavens. Indeed, it was the kind of day that fills the soul with peace. We shared a warm feeling. However, the atmosphere was just brisk enough to be invigorating. Finally, I agreed that her view was lovely. When I told my mother about Ali, she smiled. In fact, she smiled a little more this last week.
Craig and I met in the halls at work that particular day. He was a longtime, family friend. During our discussion, I told him my mother was leaving on Wednesday.
“Then, I’ll drop by after work to pay her a visit.”
As I walked toward the bed, the front door bell rang. Craig arrived. I was not sure where my dad was. The nurses were changing shifts. Therefore, I ran to get the door. Upon returning to the room, we heard complaining to someone.
“Where is Tommy?” My parent demanded.
“In Tennessee,” I answered.
“Why don’t you let him in? You let Edith in. Why won’t you let Tommy in?” Mom began questioning quickly.
“He is in Tennessee, but I can find him. I can ask him to call. Should I ask him to call you?”
As I picked up the telephone to call my aunt for help, Craig moved to the right side of the bed so that she could see him. I told my aunt that my mother demanded Tommy’s presence. She assured me that she would contact her Dad and have a message sent to Tommy. Then, she talked to Mom and reassured her that Tommy would call.
Mom worried aloud, “I am leaving between 7 and 9 or I have to wait another week.” Possessed, she rambled on about loving everyone who missed saying good-bye to her.
She began telling Craig he had a good family. I had to rephrase her sentences because they were becoming jumbled. The Hospice nurse was in the room this time. She commented that I must be close to Mom to be able to translate her speech. “She hasn’t got her teeth in. I have a hard time understanding her at times,” the nurse added.
Craig commented that he wears dentures, too. That’s when my parent broke into some new rambling about babies and how they are born without teeth. “But, we still love them.” She began comparing herself to a baby. “I love you, Craig, even if you have no teeth. I love you like I love babies.” Mom went on about her love for all people.
Then, she did the most unusual thing. She demanded a book from me. It wasn’t just any book. “I want the book over there,” she motioned to a place in the room where there was just empty space. Complying with her wishes, I got this mysterious book.
“This book?” I asked timidly.
“Yes,” she confirmed.
Call it intuition; I carried it as if it were open. Somehow, I knew the book was open. I placed it under her face as she pointed, “See! Right there! It’s my name!” With terrible fear in her voice, she started screaming, “Oh! Oh, no!”
She pointed, “See! See! Right there, it is your father’s name.”
I questioned her for more details, “What is this book?”
“The Book of Life! See there is your father’s name near my name. Here, you take this book and give it to Craig. You live on.”
My mother motioned for me to give Craig the book. He complied with her wishes and took it from me. Then, she began melodic singing, again. Raising her hands high into the air and to the left, she sang out, “Pray for Ed and Jean Meyers. Pray for Ed and Jean Meyers!” Over and over again, she repeated that my father, Ed, was right behind her, Jean, in line.
Escaping to the living room, we found the previous shift nurse finishing her daily reports. “Do you know where Dad is?”
The nurse mentioned that she sent him out for a prescription, but she was a bit worried. “He has been gone hours.”
Craig gave me an all-knowing look as we muttered about what my mother had just told us. I said good-bye to Craig and returned to a much calmer mother.
When I called my husband, he informed me, “You father took the three girls out to feed the birds and play. Then, they went out for ice cream.”
Finally, Dad returned. My father arrived back home hours after the prediction that he was, also, near death. He hadn’t heard the proclamation. As he stood in the room where Mom observed the book, he was unaffected.
Looking at the nurse, I was relieved to see him home alive. She whispered, “Never tell him what she just said. NEVER!”
It was instinctive. I would never utter a word to him about her prediction.
My mother said to Dad, “Leave the room! I can talk to you anytime.” Once alone, she informed me, “I am leaving between 7 and 9 because, if I don’t, I have to wait another week.”
Putting the complete message together, I asked, “Are you telling me that you are leaving this Wednesday so that you don’t have to wait another week?”
“You got it!” She drifted into slumber. I left her to a peaceful sleep. She entertained non-stop since Thursday but her time was drawing near. It was time to sleep.
About 7 p.m., from the living room, I could hear voices. Going to her room, she told me plainly that her mother was back. Along with other invisible people, they were making plans for Thursday.
My mother’s Aunt Dorothy was one of the guests. At least twelve years ago, Dorothy died of bone cancer. Back in November, her husband, Bob, had a massive heart attack. Although he survived, my mother still worried for him and believed she saw his deceased family members standing near her deathbed.
Suddenly, mom blurted out, “Oh no! Oh no! It is a bad sign.”
“What is a bad sign?”
“Patricia, Patricia, someone just died?”
“Who is Patricia?”
“I don’t know but she is just a baby in the church. Someone just died!” My parent tried to explain.
“Why is it a bad sign?” Having the nerve I asked.
There was no room to speculate because immediately she informed me, “I am closer to the front of the line of people headed for Heaven.”
As she slept, I left for the living room to watch television. I hadn’t watched much television in these past few weeks and didn’t watch tonight, either. It was turned on and I just stared. Once she woke up, my mother’s chanting could be heard over the sound of the television.
Leaving down the hall, my mother noticed my presence, questioning, “Is that old lady in bed with me dead, yet?”
Approaching her bed and looking in amazement, “What old lady? All I can see is you.” Continuing to search for the old lady, I added, “No, Mom! I don’t see a dead lady in this bed. I only see you.”
Admittedly, the chemotherapy had taken most of her hair. Therefore, she looked older than her years. My mother lost other relatives to cancer. Remembering her cousin lost his life to brain cancer five years ago, at the time, I heard her say, “At the funeral, my cousin looked older than his own father did.”
I knew what she meant because she looked so old and tired. As I stood puzzled at all these happenings, she continued to point at herself as if she was stationed above, “I mean that old lady. Is she dead, yet?” Clearly, she was pointing at her own body.
“Then, that is a good sign,” she reported as the telephone rang.
It was my Uncle Tommy calling from Tennessee. He asked if she would know if they talked. I assured him that unlike some terminal patients, she was quite aware of who everyone was. As more than one Hospice nurse commented, she will likely keep all her facilities to the end. Mom is not going daffy like other patients do on such high dosages of morphine.”
Sure enough, my mother recognized Tommy’s voice. “Oh, good, they let you in! You’ll have to talk. I can’t talk much. One of us is dying. I don’t know who but it is someone in my room.”
Exiting to the living room, I listened in on the extension. Tommy and she spoke of loving each other. Eventually, she told him to do all the talking because she was dying.
Afterwards, I talked to Tommy. Assuring me that he would come for the funeral, he added, “I didn’t come sooner because I was told she only had three days to live and all.”
Today, we were somewhere around the twenty-eight day and still counting. Just then, I heard a screeching in my soul. Panicked, I maneuvered to get off the telephone running to Mom. The nurse was just leaving and told me my mother was sleeping.
Questioning, quite stunned, “She is? Positive that I heard her holler in pain, “How could it be? How could Mom be sleeping?” The painful scream was hers but no one else seemed to hear her. I knew her brain was hemorrhaging or something. I could feel it in my soul.
Sure enough, she was quiet when I reached her so I left still numb from the experience. Moments later, the nurse went to recheck Mom. Returning to the living room, the nurse had a strange look of fear on her face. “Who was it that called her?”
This nurse told us many times that my mother was ready for Heaven but someone or something was unfinished. “She might be waiting for someone,” this nurse would venture to guess. Tonight, that someone arrived. For the first time Mom was in the sleep of death. “Who called? Who called?” This nurse demanded.
“My Uncle Tommy.”
“That’s the one! That’s the one! Come here, let me show you!”
We went down the hall to find her asleep. Her eyes were ajar. “The sleep of death,” the nurse explained. “Stay close to the house because it is happening. Your mother is ready to leave.” Mom overheard our whispers and woke up.
“I am at the doors of Heaven, again. I have passed over the waters and am at the doors of Heaven.” My mother wanted to sing and pray.
“Margie is on her way. We can do that when she gets here.”
She wanted to know why Mike, my brother, wasn’t there, “I told him to bring two bottles of water. I need them, now.” Telling me she was on the other side and couldn’t come back, Mom kept waiting for me to understand these messages.
“Where is Margie?” Mom asked, again, “Where is Mike?” I informed her that Mike was home asking should I call him. She simply shook her head and noted, “Mike is always late.” She asked where Debbie, my older sister, had been. I told her Debbie was in Key West but had telephoned often. She told me to tell Debbie and everyone who was late that she loved them.
In her final moments, my mother admitted she even loved Debbie. My soul screamed out, “YES! Way to go, Mom.”
Repeatedly, she said, “I am on the other side of the line and can’t come back to help you with the kids. “ Pointing in the air, “Now, I am here. There is the water between us. So, I can’t come back from this side of the line. Now, you take care of the kids. There are the kids! Now, there is Julie Hanson, Jenny Hanson, Stacey, and John.”
My mother told me a secret about a bride and groom. We should all throw rice at the bride and the groom. Or, was it throw ice? Ice had become her lifesaver. When she was parched, we’d feed her ice. We’d put it on her feverish body. It was refreshing to her. Thus, she wanted the bride and groom to have ice thrown on them.
While she revealed other secrets about the future, I repeated them back to her making sure I got them right. I was like a parrot trying to make sense of it all. One of her heirs will have a baby from Heaven. The name is Mary. Another will have a son named John. One will marry again. This time happily. To keep these predictions from being forced into existence, I will not tell you exactly whom she attached to each event.
Continuing, Mom insisted that a person named Margaret or Mary was related to this cancer episode in our life. I thought my mother meant our Aunt Mary, who died from cancer at least ten years before that night. This lady was really a very elderly cousin that out of respect we called aunt. Wondering about the significance of Patricia and Mary, I had to find Patricia. The same persistence in my soul that made me long for the Holy Water (from Lourdes) caused the search for Patricia to begin.
“Who is this person named Patricia?”
After this conversation, I went to the rest room. Upon reentering the room, Mom wanted to know, “Was there ice in the bathroom? Was there ice in the bathroom? Does the bathroom have ice?”
Booming back at her, “Come on! You just like to hear yourself talk! If I went to the kitchen or living room, I ‘d probably come back to hear you question about the ice being there.” Ice became her thread of life. We fed it to her by the bag full in these days. “You just like your own voice”
“Right!” She admitted.
When Margie finally arrived, I was too tired. Therefore, I left her to sing and pray with our mother and the nurse.
According to Margie, they talked about another baby from Heaven named Regina. They talked about salmon that Mom ate at age ten.
“It tasted so good, like fish from Heaven,” Margie retold this event mimicking mom‘s voice inflection and gestures.
Reaching in the air, she caught a heavenly salmon and wanted my sister to tell Stacey and me to eat and enjoy it. Obviously, she was still worried about the two of us.
On my way home that night, I saw a friend’s light on, so I knew she was awake. Stopping the car, I knocked at her door. As I arrived, this friend was just preparing tea. She offered me a cup of herbal tea. Usually, I turn down exotic teas but I was ready for company.
Sitting down to sip the tea, I informed her, “The end is nearer today than ever.”
I recounted these activities including the sleep of death. Asking to use her telephone, I called my aunt. I told her, “Mom was waiting for Tommy to visit her.”
“If she leaves Wednesday, the funeral will be scheduled for Saturday.” As I hung up the telephone, my friend sat amazed. Then, we hugged as I left.
Upon arriving home, I called my brother and left a message on his answering machine, “Mom said she is leaving on Wednesday between 7 and 9. So, decide what you need to do. She is still asking for two containers of water for her journey. I don’t think she is leaving to go shopping at the mall. Call me if you want to talk.”
The kids were still awake. I had told them their grandma said she was leaving on Wednesday. They were full of questions. Gently, I steered the youngest from the kitchen to her room. On the way past the fireplace, she pointed up and asked why all the angels were in our house.
“I don’t know why, baby. I guess God sent them.”
Jenny showed me her family picture drawing done at school, today. “Look, I added Stacey and John. Is that okay, Mommy?”
When I asked her who John was, she said, “It is the brother I wished I had. The angels told me he is real.”
Then, we both cuddled in her queen size bed and fell asleep.
Did here death bed predictions come true? She said God told her them; I cover those prophecies in some of my other books.
Get your copy at:
Here’s where else you can find her:
Facebook author page:
Monday, April 30th, 2012
Join me in welcoming Angela Hunter to Highlighted Author.
Angela Hunter has walked with the Lord for many years. She has an honest love for youth, adults, and novice Christians who may be struggling with their belief and personal faith. Her fresh “real life” perspective brings an honest approach to living a fun, exciting, and Godly life for the Lord Jesus Christ—while still living in this crazy world. She seeks to inspire your heart and take you to new levels in the Lord with her gift of encouragement and her anointing to uplift the Spirit. She says she is living proof that God has a plan and He’ll do anything to chase you down and get you back on track to fulfilling your destiny.
Angela began as a Blogger and soon branched into Radio hosting. You can find her Podcast at The Inspiration Room on BlogTalk radio. She later became an author as she published The Inspiration Room.
Angela also began Inspired Groups which, like The Inspiration Room, is Christian based. “We believe that Christ is the center of everything and WITH God ALL things are possible.” They invite you to join the next Inspired Group meeting. You can follow The Inspiration Room on Twitter to find out when the next Inspired Group meeting will be and where it will be hosted. (@TinspirationR)
Angela is available to speak at your events (Youth group, church conference, women’s group, Book club, etc). You may contact her through her website.
Just for fun, I’m sharing a few little tidbits about her.
Angela resides in North Carolina and loves balconies, the smell of fresh cut grass, fireplaces in the wintertime, and cookouts in the summer. The first thing she notices about someone is their hands. She hates okra, cornbread, and cigarette smoke, but, she loves big cats; Cougars, Lions, Tigers, and Panthers and believes when she gets to heaven, God will have them at her mansion. Her favorite colors are shades of green and blue. And last but not least, she wrote her first book. It’s about Christ being the best thing that’s ever happened to her.
(Sorry, Angela. I couldn’t resist *wink*).
Welcome. What made you decide to be an author?
I’ve known since I was a child that I would write—I almost feel as though writing chose me! Once God was able to get a hold of me and tame this wild horse—I began to focus on His divine will for my life. My love for the Lord soon became greater than my own plans and I then submitted my will in exchange for His. Actually falling in the Love with the Lord was the best thing that ever happened to me.
Check out her Inspiration Room radio show on BlogTalk radio:
You’ll never change what you tolerate. If you tolerate mess in your own life, then you’ll tolerate whoever brings mess into your life. When your house is clean you want others to come in and keep it clean too. When your house is a mess- it doesn’t matter what others do in your house. You might WANT them to have respect and keep it clean, but guess what? You’ll never require them to do so. Why? Because you don’t require it from yourself. YOU are the reason for your shortcomings. YOU are the reason you were in the hole you were in. YOU are the enemy. Get out of your way! TODAY.
Connect with Angela. Here’s where you can find her:
Author site: www.angelahunter.com
Radio Podcast: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/beinspired
Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/TinspirationR (@TinspirationR)
Monday, March 19th, 2012
Join me in welcoming Nate Spears to Highlighted Author.
Nate Spears is an inspirational poet who also works with the University of Florida Jacksonville healthcare team. He’s been nurturing a talent for writing since he was quite young. He hopes to inspire others to find joy even in the midst of life’s most difficult challenges. Nate’s debut title is a book of poetry titled Inspiration 2 Smile and he is currently working on his second book, Main Street Poems, which is set to release in 2012.
Welcome, Nate. Please tell us about yourself.
I’m Nate Spears, a 31-year-old poet from Jacksonville, Florida. I began writing at the age of seven. My love for writing started with fiction short stories, and developed into a love for poetry and greeting card writings in my teen years.
The game of football stole me away from writing for several years. My dream was to finish college, enter the NFL draft, and become a professional football player.
After a few seasons with the Edward Waters College Tigers and Duval Lions (Semi-pro), in 2008 I decided to pick up the pen again and make a return to writing by inspiring and uplifting a few souls through writing inspirational poetry.
What brought you back to writing?
My love for poetry grew intense in 2008 after reading The Rose From The Concrete by Tupac Shakur. I was impressed by his poetry and how he used his poetry to heal himself and heal others around him as well. I decide to assemble my own collection of poetry after reading Mr. Shakur’s title, which later became Inspiration 2 Smile by Nate Spears, a book that’s designed to inspire and uplift souls across the world.
What are you working on now?
My 2nd collection of poetry, Main Street Poems, is set to release in 2012.
My Write 2 Work Facebook page is a page that consists of popular job search engines, and it’s designed to inspire, empower, and assist Facebook users with returning to the United States workforce. (www.facebook.com/pages/WRITE-2-WORK/156843954404952).
My YouTube channel, Black Bandit 210, is committed and dedicated to bringing some of the most inspiring content to the web and social sites all over the world. The channel consists of everything from spoken word poetry, music videos, books, commercials, and much more. (http://www.youtube.com/user/blackbandit210)
I have many more collaborations and projects lined up and being set to release in 2012 as well.
Would you share an excerpt of Inspiration 2 Smile with us?
back page blurb
Inspirational poet Nate Spears is on a mission: to make you smile! In this his first full-length poetry collection, Nate’s poems spread joy even in adverse times. Nate uses poetry to motivate readers to keep on going no matter what the circumstances; his message is one of empowerment and positivity. Includes Nate’s Pushcart Prize nominated poem Daily Double. Cover image by Amy Alley.
Fight 2 Win
Sometimes you fight, fight, fight
But you run out of gas
You fight, fight, fight
Until you have nothing else to give
Nothing else left inside to fight with
Then you start to question
Is this even worth the fight?
Never give up
Until the casket drops!
Inspiration 2 Smile
Thank you for being with us, Nate. Is there anything you’d like to add?
I wrote a poem that I really love and would like to share with everyone.
Death Of A Rose
By Nate Spears
The onion blooms this summer
With a essence of pleasure
The rose brings the smell of death, as
X marks the spot
I ask why?
The letters reveal everything
As my fortune grew wheels
I became Bankrupt
I hope you’ll see the guiding in my light
The struggle in my fight
Each and every day
I deal with in this life
My soul is sun burned,
my life has washed ashore
Times two, my son’s bring me more light
Breathing life in my flesh
Allows me to see failure at its best
In all four corners of this ring
On my finger, destroying my dreams.
Victory stands bold in the middle, so
Who’s the real champion?
Tears and sweat are only separated
by the point in which they are released
Beauty lies deeply within the heart
Of the beast
One moment for the momentum that destroys the cells of venom
Black and cancerous
It sickens our society
Watching this rose die
The funeral we attend
Stems from this,
This is the death
Of a rose.
Get your copy of Inspiration 2 Smile:
Nate would love to connect with you!
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/natespears2
Twitter - http://www.twitter.com/whoisnatespears
Monday, October 31st, 2011
Join me in welcoming Elizabeth Ciccone to Highlighted Author.
Elizabeth Ciccone has learned at the feet of such authors as Monica Foley, Patricia Harrington, and college teacher Chet Corey. Elizabeth’s writing stands in the company of such authors as Lebonese-American born Philosopher, author, and missionary Hannah Hurnard.
Welcome, Elizabeth. Please tell us a little more about yourself.
I am a Minnesota native from the town of Red Wing. After graduating from Red Wing High School, I attended MN State Southeast Technical College for word processing and after that, I attended a three day Springboard for the Arts.
The inspiration for my writing comes from my prayer and meditations I daily indulge in with my Lord Jesus Christ. He is the True Author of my work, I am just the vehicle. He has been the driving force for sharing my work with others and bringing inspiration to them, especially the persecuted. seminar which taught you about recordkeeping contracts, promotion and presentation. This seminar was taught by former record producer Chris Osgood who is now director at McNally Smith College.
I have been featured in such newspapers and The River Falls Journal and The Republican Eagle. My home town’s newspaper. This last year was spent speaking and touring to such locations as Bay City, WI, River Falls, WI, Red Wing, MN, Northfield, MN among others. The best part of getting the chance to tour was meeting and talking with the people. People are the best part of what I do! If I come away from what I do inspiring one, I have done my job as a publisher and author!
Elizabeth has written several books. Her literary collections include The Soul-Searcher, Inspirit, and Always, Liz, along with these series:
Parted Ways Series
- Parted Ways
- Her Own World
The Sleeping Soul Series:
- The Sleeping Soul
- Many Hands
- The Woman Who Sought The Frame
- You Have To Do This
For each book purchased from Soul Conversations, Liz is donating $3.00 toward persecuted Christian organizations to help and support those who are everyday persecuted for their belief in God.
All of her books may be purchases at her website, Soul Conversations.
What they’re saying:
“Liz has a talent with the written word, it’s through her books inspiration is heard.” Risa Ruse–New York
“…I just read Liz’s ‘Parted Ways’ series, her books talk about feelings we can all relate to and have inspirations sprinkled throughout their pages that we can all use in our daily lives.” Deborah Orr–Pfleuger,TX
“Liz is God-fearing woman and I really love her work. God has plans for her in His mission work.” Pastor Mushtaq Masih Gill–Pakistan
The Stairs Of Her Heart
So complicated a place she rarely ventures there
Standing at its threshold
Breathing many a heavy sigh,
Her trembling hand reaches out looking for
Something to hold onto
Walking cautiously down each stage of fragility,
Wondering which stage is going to be the one
That breaks her
~ * ~
Check out Elizabeth’s website at http://Soul Conversations.net or find more inspiration on Soul Conversations’ Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Soul-Conversations/170621282999194