Oct 172013
 

 

WELCOME TONI PICCININI

TONI PICCININI

Toni’s writing career started when she stapled her first “book” together and launched it at a reading attended by her brother, Scotty, and her Boxer, Lonesome. The title-less story was a mash-up of Hansel and Gretel, The Six Swans, and a Box Car Children adventure, with the protagonists (sister, brother, and dog) risking everything in their quest for a magical lump of coal that would save the town. It was an immediate success. During the fifty years between her first and second book, The Goodbye Year: Wisdom and Culinary Therapy to Survive Your Child’s Senior Year of High School (and Reclaim the YOU of You) she has, in no order of importance or chronology

  • · opened a “Top 100” San Francisco restaurant
  • · published scientific articles on the efficacies of antibiotics
  • · sang the National Anthem at high school football games
  • · published essays, recipes, and cookbook reviews
  • · sent three children off to college

Toni lives in Marin County California, which is a long way from her Western Pennsylvania hometown, Heilwood. She is busy on her next book, which may revisit the power found in a magical lump of coal.
Connect with Toni at these sites:

WEBSITE          TWITTER    

GUEST POST

How To Reclaim the YOU of You

A funny thing happens on the way to Motherhood Nirvana—we get a little lost. It is so busy being a mom. One day tumbles into the next and by the time we come up for air our baby is a senior in high school. The summer before my oldest and only daughter, Page, started her senior year I could feel the sand shifting beneath me. I had dove into the deep end of motherhood, gratefully, gleefully, and completely. Before Page graduated from pre-school she had a toddler and infant brother at home. We were a family of five and I was defined as “Mommy” a role I cherished. When my first Goodbye Year started I recognized that it would be a year of Last Times. What I didn’t recognize was the woman staring back at me in the bathroom mirror.

 I had three Goodbye Years and they couldn’t have been more different from one another. I was a different person each time, too. As I let go of my need to please everyone in my family I caught glimpses of my authenticity. It didn’t happen in one day, or one year, but the journey back to womanhood was and is a beautiful one.

 

From Chapter One: The First of the Lasts

“The start of a new school year means new friends and some- times saying goodbye to old ones. The September of your Good- bye Year might also mean saying the first goodbyes to some of the roles that you have taken on as mom. With the last back- to-school night dawns the realization of just how much of your social time is spent with fellow moms, whom you met as you settled into your new roles as purveyor of food, school supplies, and clothes, and conveyer of bodies to class, baseball practice, and dance recital. If your child liked another child, you met the mother, and a friendship was formed. That’s nice. They’re nice. Your friendships are still valid, but ask yourself two questions: Will you spend time with this group after graduation? And what kind of folks might you be spending time with if this had never happened, this being your motherhood?

To Do: Join a New GroupIt can be as easy as taking a class. Are you interested in photography? Not the family-photos-on-the-annual-vacation kind; I’m talking about black-and-white shots of raindrops pearled on a paned window. Maybe you really know how to apply eye shadow. That’s a skill and could be your passion. Take a cosmetics class or volunteer your talents to the makeup department of your community theater and meet like-minded folks. The members of your new tribe may be much older or much younger than you. They may be single, childless, pierced, or Republican, but they will share your passion for the written word, coastal conservation, or a rubber of bridge. Your new group will stimulate a spark in the You of you that has been buried under the weight of years of motherhood. Don’t worry. The flame is still there; it just needs some air.”

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

The Goodbye Year is an inspirational, honest, and hilarious tale of Toni’s approach to the end of an era in the Piccinini household.

For many mothers, a child’s senior year brings about a serious look back on the past eighteen. Every event—from Halloween to Mother’s Day—becomes The Last Time.

Toni Piccinini knows exactly what that’s like, and in The Goodbye Year, she offers the loving support every soon-to-be Empty Nester needs. Think of Toni as your bossy-but-loving Italian auntie, with modern sensibilities and a packed pantry. With the wisdom she’s acquired from saying goodbye three times to her own children, she reassuringly holds your hand while encouraging you through the insanity of the college application process, the rejections and the acceptances, and the teary dorm drop-offs. Even better, she reminds every mother that the best is yet to come—freedom, creativity, flexibility, and the Me Years.

BOOK DETAILS:

Genre: Health & Well Being
Paperback: 264 Pages
Publisher: Seal Press
Publication Date: September 10, 2013
ISBN: 1580054862

PURCHASE LINKS:

              

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Sep 172013
 

WELCOME CAMI OSTMAN and SUSAN TIVE


Cami Ostman is an author, editor, life coach and a licensed marriage and family therapist with publications in her field. She blogs at7marathons7continents.com and on the psychologytoday.com blogger team. She has appeared in several publications, including O, The Oprah Magazine, Fitness Magazine, Adventures Northwest, the Mudgee Guardian in Australia, and La Prensa in Chile. Cami is a runner and a dog lover who lives in Bellingham, Washington.  Connect with Cami at these sites:

WEBSITE TWITTER

As a writer, editor and researcher Susan  Tive has worked on a variety of academic articles exploring psychology, feminism and religion. Susan’s interest in these subjects led her to become an editor for several non-fiction titles including Faith and Feminism and Rachel’s Bag. Her new anthology Beyond Belief: The Secret Lives of Women in Extreme Religions will be published in April 2013 by Seal Press.  Connect with Susan at these sites:

WEBSITE

Q&A with Cami and Susan

WHO
If you could meet any author, who would you like to meet? Why them and what would you say?
Cami: I’d like meet Jon Krakauer. I’ve loved how he has been able to do extensive research and then turn that research into compelling stories. Everything he writes is scenic and alive. I’m not sure I’d have anything particular to say to him so much as I’d like to follow him around taking notes while he worked on a book so I could imitate his efforts.
Susan: I would love to sit down and talk with Anne Lamott. I have enjoyed her books for years. Operating Instructions, made me laugh out loud about the challenges of becoming a mother. Bird by Bird, her book about writing is one that I reread every year for inspiration and practical advise. I would love to talk to Anne about how she writes with such a perfect balance between the poignant and the humorous and how she finds the courage to be so honest and brave in sharing her life with her readers. But honestly it would be fun to have her regale me with her famous one-liners so that we could spend most of the time laughing uproariously and wiping away the tears.

WHAT
What is your favorite type of writing? Do you have a favorite? Or would you like to tackle something you haven’t yet?
Cami: I love non-fiction. Because I’ve been both a writing teacher and a family therapist in my professional life, real life stories fascinate me. That being said, I do have a novel in my computer that calls to me and I’d love to take my craft into the realm of fiction long enough to complete that book.
Susan: Ironically, as a reader, I love fiction. Long, epic novels that I can get lost in are my favorites. As a writer I enjoy working with factual and real life material and finding the themes and narrative within it. As a grant writer by profession I have a great deal of fun utilizing this rather rigid format to not only get the facts across but also to create a story that touches at an emotional level as well. For me the goal of my writing is to engage people and get them to care, whether you’re touching an individual or trying to improve the lives of many, writing is an extremely rewarding activity.

WHY
What was the real driving force behind sharing this story and taking it to publication?
Cami: With Beyond Belief, I really felt that many voices would be more powerful than one—or two. Susan and I had talked about our respective experiences inside religious communities for a long time before we pitched our book idea to Seal Press. We understood that to speak about what had happened gave us some sense that we weren’t alone. I hoped that our anthology would allow those who contributed to it to realize they weren’t alone either. But more than that, we wanted to start a conversation in our culture at large. We wanted to say, “Hey look what’s going on. Can we talk about this?”

Susan, what would you add?

The entire writing process has been so rewarding. I’ve enjoyed getting to know and working with all of our amazing writers. Hearing their stories and helping them to edit their work was an invaluable experience. Beyond Belief has been successful in creating a larger community of women who share important experiences. It has gotten important conversations going among people who might not have talked to one another otherwise.

As we’ve been touring and promoting the book we’ve received great feedback from readers who appreciate the stories. If they haven’t gone through the experience they’ve learned more about extreme religions and if they’ve been there they are grateful that these stories are finally being told. Readers tell us they feel less alone and more empowered because they now know the stories of others have gone through the same experiences.

WHERE
Where do you find the inspiration to write? If you don’t have inspiration, what makes you get up each day and write, never knowing if it will be published or not?
Susan: Since I’m primarily a nonfiction writer my inspiration comes from a desire to connect with people through the exploration and understanding of whatever topic I am working with. Often I write because I have questions to ask and writing is the best way to unravel them and find out what lies beneath. Sometimes I just want to share an experience, a feeling, a scene to capture it outside of myself so that others can share in it too, other times writing is the best way for me to figure out what I am really trying to say.

I am deeply moved by the process of writing. The activity of writing brings forth many different parts of myself. I like the fact that it is deeply personal and yet to reach full fruition must be oh so very public. I’m a shy person who wants and needs to communicate, the intimacy and safety of the written word is where I find my voice.

Cami: Some days I have inspiration and some days I don’t. I suppose I always feel compelled to DO something with the thoughts that crowd my head. Writing is the best thing I know. Whether I’m blogging or writing my own story or playing with fiction, I’m taking what’s going on inside and letting the page (or computer screen) hold it for me. Many days I don’t write anything worth publishing, but when I do hit on something I think will be interesting or useful to others, I feel excited.

When I coach writers, I tell them to make a commitment to write 500 words a day as a minimum. That can be harder than you’d think, especially when you know most of those words will only live in your own files. Still, this keeps you going, and some of those words will stick around and become work that feels significant.

WHEN
When will we see another book from you? Any sneak peeks for us at your WIP?
Susan: It’s been hard for me to keep from dreaming up a bunch of new anthology topics because Beyond Belief was so much fun. Currently I’m working on a memoir. It’s an interesting story about the ten plus years I lived as an Orthodox Jew in a small community in New Mexico. In it I explore many of the same questions we asked in Beyond Belief. Why would a modern well-educated young mother become religious? What did she gain and lose? My story has an interesting twist that I think many readers will be surprised by. Although I take on a religious lifestyle that limits my freedom and choices I actually thrive in the religious community. Because of the strong friendships and community support Orthodoxy provides I gain the strength I need to overcome major obstacles and radically change my life. It’s sure to be a page-turner!
Cami: Well, I just got back from Japan where I did some research for a new book I’m tentatively calling Chasing the Goddess. I’m in the process of visiting several sacred sites where the divine feminine has been or is revered. I’ve posted some pictures on my travel blog: 7marathons7continents.com. If anyone is interested in following along, they can sign up for my newsletter on my coaching site: camiostman.net.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Beyond Belief addresses what happens when women of extreme religions decide to walk away. Editors Susan Tive (a former Orthodox Jew) and Cami Ostman (a de-converted fundamentalist born-again Christian) have compiled a collection of powerful personal stories written by women of varying ages, races, and religious backgrounds who share one commonality: they’ve all experienced and rejected extreme religions.

Covering a wide range of religious communities—including Evangelical, Catholic, Jewish, Mormon, Muslim, Calvinist, Moonie, and Jehovah’s Witness—and containing contributions from authors like Julia Scheeres (Jesus Land), the stories in Beyond Belief reveal how these women became involved, what their lives were like, and why they came to the decision to eventually abandon their faiths. The authors shed a bright light on the rigid expectations and misogyny so often built into religious orthodoxy, yet they also explain the lure—why so many women are attracted to these lifestyles, what they find that’s beautiful about living a religious life, and why leaving can be not only very difficult but also bittersweet.

Read an excerpt

Body Language

By Pam Helberg

My parents and I had just returned from a long Sunday morning at church and I was starving. During the last half hour of services I had tried in vain to sing and pray loudly so that no one could hear the deep empty sounds coming from my gut. As soon as we got home and I changed out of my church clothes I headed straight for the kitchen to make myself a toasted cheese sandwich and a cup of tomato soup, my favorite Sunday lunch. My thoughts were focused so intently on getting the bread perfectly browned in the frying pan that I didn’t see or hear my parents suddenly double-team me. Dad came from the living room while Mom snuck up behind me from the dining room, tears streamed down both of their faces.

“Pam Sue, your mother and I need to talk to you,” my father said tightly, his voice modulated to neutral with a hint of loving concern.

Uh oh, I thought, this cannot be good. I turned off the stove and scanned the kitchen for a possible escape. They each blocked a doorway, effectively making me their prisoner. I took a deep breath. “Why? What’s up?”

“Sit down.” My mother stepped away from her post and pulled a chair out for me. I intuited that I should obey.

“Pam Sue, your mother and I love you very much.” This loving concern, these tears, felt like a bad omen.

“I love you too,” I said with a slight hint of a question. My stomach clenched with dread. I knew what was coming next.

“What is this this this… sickness? Are you and Chris lovers?” my mother blurted out.

My heart jumped and my eyes stopped focusing, the kitchen began to spin.

“We are very concerned for you, young lady. We don’t want you to go to hell.” My father began sobbing. His face bright red. “We don’t want to spend eternity without you.”

I had never seen my father cry, and his unmasked emotion scared me. I couldn’t look at him. My desire to run away grew stronger.

“What kind of game are you two playing?”

“We know you are more than just friends,” my mother spit out. “What you girls are doing is a sin. You will go to hell.”

This omnipresent threat of hell had dictated most of my choices throughout adolescence, and while I wasn’t always a good Christian girl, I did spend much of my time pleading with God for forgiveness, hoping for redemption so I wouldn’t spend my hereafter burning and screaming and gnashing my teeth with the unrepentant masses.

“Pam,” my dad said, “we can’t just sit back and watch you destroy your chance for eternal life.”

I could feel my face growing hot with anger and panic. I looked down at my hands to avoid my parents’ eyes. I couldn’t speak.

“I almost died having you,” mom said through her sobs,” and I will not sit back and watch you go to hell.”

I knew the story of my birth, but this was the first time my mother had wielded it as a weapon for Christ. I recoiled, ever more certain that, until I’d met Chris, my whole life had felt awkward and out of sync, and now things were beginning to feel good and right. I finally felt loved and known by someone, and seen, instead of hidden, judged, and condemned. The unfairness of it all angered me. Why did my happiness have to result in losing my parents’ love and support? I had just turned eighteen, yes, and I yearned for independence, but I wasn’t ready to be without my family, not yet.

“I’m sorry,” I whispered, terrified and panicked. I wanted nothing more than for this interrogation to end. “I’ll never do it again. I promise we’ll stop.” I was willing to say anything to make the nightmare end. But my parents weren’t ready to leave the ultimate destiny of my eternal soul in my young and incapable hands, and they demanded I go with my father that very night to see Pastor Gary for a laying on of hands. A healing, they called it. If only it could be that simple.

I was grateful for the silence and the air-conditioning in the car as Dad and I drove to the church later that evening. I didn’t know what was more oppressive, the stifling August heat or the afternoon’s dismal events looping endlessly through my mind. I kept recalling my parents’ insistence that my relationship with Chris would lead me directly to the gates of hell where I would spend eternity suffering in fire and brimstone, smoldering away with the rest of the sinners as we writhed in agony forever. Didn’t I know, they’d asked me repeatedly, that lying with a woman was the most egregious of sins?

Didn’t I know? Of course I knew. I had highlighted 1 Corinthians 6:9 so many times in my Bible that the verse had practically disappeared.

As my father and I left the comfort of the cool car and made our way across the still- steaming tar parking lot and into the stuffy sanctuary, Corinthians thrummed within me along with a multitude of other Bible verses.

Leviticus 20:13: “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, they must be put to death.” Romans: “Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received the due penalty for their perversion.”

I knew them all by heart, had memorized each admonition as well as I had memorized the luscious curves and contours, the sweet and secret depths of Chris’s body. How could I not know that what I felt for Chris was a sin? But how could I go forward without her? I couldn’t, not in this life. I would worry later about the hereafter.

As I trudged after my father up to Pastor Gary’s office, I left my body, remembering the very first time Chris and I had indulged in what I had been taught were perverse and unnatural relations. We had met at summer camp a year before and immediately became inseparable. After camp was over, although we lived about two hundred miles apart, we often spent the weekends at each other’s houses, always sharing a bed, snuggling before sleep, a habit that had begun at camp.

That First Night was just another night after a long day of hiking and stealing furtive and passionate kisses on the trails near my house, dinner with the family, a bit of television — yet I felt a new, more powerful longing welling up within me. On That First Night a surge of confidence and courage coursed through me as I moved my hands over Chris’s lean athletic body, holding my breath and daring myself to touch her in new and forbidden places: under the waistband of the boxers she wore as pajamas, farther up and under the T-shirt that covered her taut stomach and firm breasts. She did not stop my curious fingers, welcoming my explorations with subtle shifts of her body and small happy sounds. As my fingertips found tender and exquisite flesh, I breathed heavily, and moaned softly. Soon, we were moving together, her hands now on me too, desperately seeking each other’s soft spaces. Our bodies pulsed as one as sweet instinct enveloped us. I clung to her, sharing this fierce and lovely ride until rainbows arched from my toes and our breathing slowed, my hands still exploring, caressing her damp and trembling limbs.

“Welcome home,” Chris whispered and kissed me softly on the lips. Home indeed. My world immediately felt complete, as my mysterious adolescent yearnings resolved into this new expression, these new ways of speaking to the girl I loved. For a few minutes in the quiet aftermath, I reveled in this fresh intimacy, in the joy of our mutual exploration and discovery.

But later That First Night my euphoria came to an abrupt end when I panicked, suddenly terrified I had just doomed myself to eternity in a pit full of wailing, burning sinners. By finally giving in to temptations I had fought my entire adolescence, had I just succumbed to earthly pleasures and forfeited any heavenly rewards? I leapt from the bed and hastily recovered my abandoned pajamas. I looked briefly at Chris, who slept peacefully already, and ran up the stairs to the living room where I flopped into my father’s recliner and prayed. I tried to speak in tongues, but, as usual, the special prayer language eluded me and I settled for plain English.

My church taught that the gift of speaking in tongues is bestowed upon believers who are baptized in the Holy Spirit. Mere mortals receive this special language, a secret code, in order that they might have a direct and private conversation with the Lord. So far, I was not one of those chosen to have this gift. I’d always feared that God had long ago abandoned me as lost.

“Dear Lord Jesus,” I begged, feeling the creeping weirdness I always felt when talking to this Invisible Being I was supposed to be devoted to, for, while I had been raised in the church, its yoke weighed on me, heavy and uncomfortable. “What have I done?” I cried. “What shame have I brought upon your holy name? Forgive me, Father. Forgive me for giving in to Satan’s temptations and earthly pleasures. Help me, Lord, help me to resist these terrible urges, to look only upon you and your love for me. I love you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus,” I muttered and rocked in the recliner. “Forgive me, forgive me.” As I pleaded for my very soul, still a small part of me was not quite ready for redemption, not ready to dismiss as sinful the completeness Chris and I had just shared. I was so wracked with guilt and righteous anger that I didn’t hear Chris come up the stairs. I jumped at her touch and her voice.

“Where’d you go?” she whispered, genuinely puzzled. “Why are you in here?”

Darkness enveloped the living room so I could just make out her silhouette.

“What are you doing?” She moved closer, touched my shoulder.

“Praying,” I said, my cheeks flushing with embarrassment.

“Why?”

“Because we shouldn’t have.” I answered, my conviction waning the moment I saw her. “What we just did, it’s a sin.”

“Really?”

“Really,” I said. “Romans 13:12, ‘Don’t participate in sexual promiscuity and immorality…” my voice trailed off, and when she took my hand and gently pulled me from the recliner and led me back down the stairs, back to bed, I did not resist.

Thoughts of Chris, our bodies entwined, our fingers and lips seeking each other’s pleasures, filled my mind as Dad and I entered Pastor Gary’s windowless office where I imagined I could smell the stench of sin: burning human flesh, brimstone, fear. Pastor Gary was a stocky man, balding with wisps of black hair, dressed in a black T-shirt, black jeans, black cowboy boots. He reminded me of Neil Diamond. I hated Neil Diamond.

“Pamela, I am just very pleased that your daddy spoke with me about your afflictions,” he drawled in a leftover Texas twang. “I am so excited to pray with you tonight, to cast these demons of homosexuality out, to let our good Lord and Savior in to heal your wounded soul.” His feeble attempts to reassure me only scared me more.

He motioned for us to kneel in front of his massive walnut desk, on the plush rose- colored carpet. My father knelt to my left and put his hands on my head and lower back. Pastor Gary knelt in front of me, his hands on each of my shoulders, closed his eyes, and began beseeching God to join us. I closed my eyes compliantly, but the anger I’d felt earlier in the kitchen was still swirling inside me, faster and more furious than before. I wasn’t ready for this “demon” to be cast out of me, no matter what the consequences.

“Jesus! Holy Spirit, Heavenly Father, gloooooorious Son of God, be here with us now,” he commanded. “Touch this young woman, fill her with your love and forgiveness.”

“Yes, Jesus,” my father said softly. “Touch Pam with your healing love.” Hearing my father’s voice calmed me a little. I suddenly remembered to breathe.

For a few beats, the two men waited expectantly, ready for Christ Himself to burst through the door, sword drawn, prepared to do some serious spiritual battle with my homosexual inclinations. I desperately needed a way out of this prison of love and good intention I’d found myself locked in. As the men continued to murmur quietly, my mind drifted back to Chris and what she would think of me in this particular situation. I had given up trying to explain my family’s faith to her after that first night. She refused to understand, having been raised Catholic (who are not even real Christians according to our church). Evidently the saints interceded on her behalf and the afterlife was of no serious concern to her. Besides, as our intimacy deepened, I saw absolutely no benefit in pushing my crazy religious beliefs on someone fortunate enough to have escaped them thus far.

I remained trapped between the bliss of our love—this new intimate language we were learning — and an absolute fear of divine retribution. My god was an angry god, an Old Testament god, a god who did not take kindly to any sort of sexual activity unless performed within the confines of a traditional marriage, and, I suspected, only then in the missionary position and for procreative purposes (though to say this out loud would have only revealed the deepening fissure between my parents’ faith and my own budding certainties).

Pastor Gary’s voice boomed, startling me out of my reverie. “Hahkahlafalafalah. Holy Spirit, be with us now. Hahkawaffleahfalalah. Hahkahwaffle waffle ah.”

Those chosen to speak in tongues allegedly all receive different prayer languages, and, like snowflakes, no two are alike. To my ear, they all sounded eerily similar, and Pastor Gary’s sounded disturbingly like a Saturday morning breakfast order at IHOP.

“Jee-suzzzzzz, have mercy on this child’s soul. In your name we command the demons of homosexuality to leave her now! Malakalafalafala makawaffle ah.” As Pastor Gary did his best to cast the demons out, I silently begged them to stay.

I sensed my father muttering in his own prayer language next to me; I fixated briefly on his short aspirations and the occasional soft pop as he moved his lips. I could hear him fighting back tears, reminding me of the risks I faced if I chose Chris over eternal life.

Could hell be any worse than being trapped on my knees in this office, being prayed for against my will for demonic forces to depart from my body? — forces that gave me both great pleasure and terrible guilt. I could not imagine life without Chris, never touching her again, but I also couldn’t imagine going on without the support of my family. Eternal agony of endless burning, endless suffering, loomed all too real for me side-by- side with something I didn’t even understand about myself. I knew I had to figure out a way, at least temporarily, to keep both my family and my relationship with Chris. If Judgment Day were to arrive anytime soon, God could see how I was trying to do the right thing, couldn’t He? Maybe He would see fit to at least let me past the pearly gates. I didn’t need a mansion made of gold, just a small humble cabin far away from hell’s furnace — and someone to love. I started to tremble.

As my knees grew achy and my spine stiffened and my feet got numb, I remembered all the other times people had prayed over me, all the times I had answered the altar call and gone forward at the end of the church services to receive my own baptism in the Holy Spirit, my own secret language. So many believers I couldn’t count had laid their hands on me or waved their arms in the air over me as they prayed for God to touch me with His grace, prayed that I would be slain in the Spirit and receive His secret code. But each time I went forward, desperate for this spiritual currency, I came away speaking only English and some rudimentary high school Spanish. Now, tired of fighting a confusing internal fight and sad for my parents, who loved both God and me, I continued to tremble on my knees in Pastor Gary’s office, knowing that both men would attribute my involuntary shaking to God working within me. Only I knew that I shook with the fear of making an impossible choice. Emotionally exhausted, I just wanted to go home.

I took a deep breath and tried to get myself under control.

A simple solution to my immediate dilemma was within my own power, I just had to use it. I cleared my throat and tried to act confident.

“Barreemabeanabarreemah,” I raised my arms slightly, palms up. “Barreemabeanahbean.” No demons left my body, and my head didn’t spin around while I projectile vomited, but my soul floated above us, hovering over this strange trio trying to make sense of the scene.

“Hakabarreemabeanabarreemah,” I gave the R’s a trill for authenticity. “Barremabean. Holy Spirit, thank you.”

I felt Pastor Gary and my father relax next to me. They continued to murmur in their prayer languages, thanking Jesus over and over:

“Praise you, Jesus.”

“Thank you, Lord.”

“Thank you, Jesus.”

“Praise you, Lord.”

“Amen,” I interjected, hoping to wrap things up.

“Amen!” Pastor Gary agreed emphatically.

“Praise the Lord,” my father said, weeping for the second time that day. “Praise the Lord.”

As we walked back to the car, Dad put his arm around my shoulder and gave me a little squeeze. “I love you, kiddo,” he said.

“I love you too,” I said. I knew I had won an important, if temporary, reprieve from the impossible choice I would someday have to make. I had no idea of the struggles that lay ahead as I learned to speak the new language of my love for Chris while uttering the secret words that kept me bound to my family and friends.

If life begins with the splitting of a cell, my lesbian life began that night in Pastor Gary’s study. I was not made free from my burdens, but I split into two selves. My inner and outer being were forced to separate, setting me on a long and arduous path to rediscover what would make me whole again.

BOOK DETAILS:

Genre: Non Fiction, Women’s Studies
Publisher: Seal Press
Publication Date: April 2, 2013
ISBN-10: 1580054420
ISBN-13: 978-1580054423

PURCHASE LINKS:

THANKS TO CRYSTAL AT WOW!,
I
HAVE ONE (1) COPY TO GIVE AWAY.
PRINT-U.S. and CANADA  EBOOK-OPEN TO ALL
FILL OUT RAFFLECOPTER ENTRY FORM BELOW
GIVEAWAY ENDS OCTOBER 1st AT 6PM EST

th_WOWblogExcellencerubyslippers

WINNER WILL BE CHOSEN BY RAFFLECOPTER AND NOTIFIED
VIA EMAIL AND WILL HAVE 48 HOURS TO RESPOND
OR ANOTHER NAME WILL BE CHOSEN

a Rafflecopter giveaway

YOUR JAVA SCRIPT MAY NEED TO BE UPDATED
IF YOU AR EXPERIENCING DIFFICULTY
USING THE RAFFLECOPTER ENTRY FORM

DISCLAIMER
I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me, in exchange for my honest review. No items that I receive are ever sold…they are kept by me, or given to family and/or friends.
ADDENDUM
I do not have any affiliation with Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. I am an IndieBound affiliate. I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.

 

Sep 112013
 

WELCOME JULIA ASEL THOMAS

JULIA ASEL THOMAS

Julia Asel Thomas writes stories with vivid descriptions, authentic dialogue and revealing narration. Her debut book, Loving the Missing Link, presents the engrossing and moving story of a young, small town girl who grows up, lives and loves while trying to find a balance between despair and hope.

Like the protagonist in her debut book, Loving the Missing Link, Julia Asel Thomas knows small town life. However, Julia’s experiences were quite different than Cheryl’s. Julia is the middle child of seven children and the daughter of a church organist and a business manager. Growing up in the small town of Hamilton, Missouri, Julia’s family enjoyed a reputation as a bright and interesting family. Julia thrived on the quiet and carefree life she lived in that gentle place.

When Julia was in high school, she earned a scholarship for a trip to Cali, Colombia as a foreign exchange student. The experience, although it only lasted a few brief months, had a profound influence on the rest of her life. After her time abroad, Julia realized in a very real way that, although customs may differ from culture to culture, the substance of human emotions is constant. We all need love. We all need to feel secure. We all have happy moments and sad moments. Back from Colombia, Julia become ever more interested in capturing these human emotions through music and writing.

After high school, Julia took a break before going on to college. During this time, she married her husband, Will. Will joined the Air Force, and Julia accompanied him to bases around the country, taking college classes in each town where they resided. Their two children were born in Las Vegas, Nevada, while Will was stationed at Nellis Air Force Base. Married in 1976, Julia and Will are thrilled to celebrate each new anniversary and look forward to staying together for life.

Julia began writing fiction at the age of ten, when her 5th grade teacher gave her the assignment to write about “My Worst Day.” Julia took the opportunity to concoct every possible disaster a young child could face during the course of a normal day. The teacher loved her work and asked her to read it to the class. From then on, Julia wanted nothing more than to be a writer.

In 2007, Julia began earning her living by writing articles, press releases and website content for a number of clients. As she settled into a routine of working every day on her writing, the old urge to write fiction resurfaced. In 2012, Julia started with a story she had written in 1985 and continued it to create the story in Loving the Missing Link.
After Julia’s husband, Will retired from the Air Force, they moved back to Missouri and now live in Kansas City, Missouri. Find out more about this author by visiting her online:
Connect with Jlia at these sites:

WEBSITE        TWITTER   

GUEST POST

“Life Long Learning and Self-Education”

Is education an institution, run by the government, prestigious private organizations or religious groups? When I was younger, I thought so. The trouble with that attitude is that I still wanted to keep learning whether I was ensconced in one of those organizations or not. And, especially in the digital age, there is no reason learning has to end when the school doors close. Lifelong learning and self-education have become increasingly popular these days, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

I began my quest for self-education during the years I was following my husband around in his Air Force career. I did go to college off and on as I was able. But there were always in-between times when I would arrive at a college town at the wrong time to begin the semester when it started. Yet, I didn’t want to put my education on hold for those months. That is when I became involved in self-education.

Yet, even then learning outside of school was not a new concept for me. My mother read to me, and all my brothers and sisters, nearly every day of our early childhood. My father also read to me at night sometimes later on, usually out of a chapter book like Tom Sawyer. Music in our house ran the gamut from Tchaikovsky to Johnny Cash. It was an intellectually rich environment to grow up in.

As I grew older, I began to choose my own intellectual adventures. Someone would talk about a subject that I didn’t know much about, and I was off to the library to learn more. If I knew someone who was familiar with the subject, I would pester them until they told me enough about the subject to satisfy my curiosity.

I once took an English course in which we were asked to read, “Working” by Studs Terkel. The book is a series of interviews with everyday people about their jobs. I found it fascinating. After that, I always asked the people I met about their jobs. About whether they enjoyed their jobs, what their responsibilities were on the jobs, and about how they got their jobs in the first place. This is one instance where traditional education spurred me on to pursue a different kind of education outside the classroom.

Now, whenever I learn about a new subject, I get on my computer and find out what I can. The biggest challenge is sifting through all the dreck to discover reliable information. But, after doing this for years, I have learned more about how to find those sites and how to evaluate them.

I am much older now than I was when I spent those Saturdays running off to the library, but I am not too old to keep learning. I don’t think I ever will be. My father once told me, “No matter what you lose in this life, no one can ever take away your education.” I have remembered that statement through the good times and the bad. I am more committed than ever to exploring my interests and the world around me.

I think I will be like my mother as I get older. She lamented one day that she didn’t understand why she was still stuffing her head full of information, even though she believed she would never have the opportunity to use any of it. I hope I was able to reassure her and help her see that education is useful, but it is also an end unto itself. No matter how old you get or what your circumstances may be, life-long learning is a joy and a quest that is well worth the effort.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Loving the Missing Link is a fabulous tale about love, success, hope and music. During the 1970’s. Young Cheryl Simpson feels trapped in her small Missouri town. As her mother tries to help her find a way up and out, Cheryl begins to feel that it is all an impossible dream. She sees herself living a boring and dismal life for the rest of her days. Just at the moment when she is about to give up on happiness, she gets the opportunity to join her high school band. The band promises a connection with the world outside her town, but Cheryl does not see any future for herself in music. It is just a tool to get where she wants to go. However, Cheryl’s mother arranges for Cheryl to take private lessons with an accomplished musician, who helps her realize the beauty and awesome power of music.

Still, Cheryl feels that small-town inferiority and finds it too hard to believe that she could ever be anyone special out in the “real” world. On the eve of a music contest that could help her earn a music scholarship, Cheryl begins to panic. Scared and feeling alone, Cheryl runs off with her high school sweetheart and gets married, leaving the band behind.

During the next years, Cheryl and her husband make a life for themselves. Cheryl meets friends along the way who help guide her to becoming the woman she wants to be. She becomes interested in the arts again. All the while, Cheryl and husband Jerry face the challenges of homelessness, miscarriage and an extra-marital affair before an unexpected disaster brings Cheryl’s life crashing to the ground. Cheryl survives, with the help of her extraordinary friends and her life-long love for music.

BOOK DETAILS:

Publisher: CreateSpace
Publication Date: August 6, 2013
Number of Pages: 190
 ISBN10: 1480106240

PURCHASE LINKS:

           

THANKS TO CRYSTAL AT WOW!,
I
HAVE ONE (1) COPY TO GIVE AWAY.
PRINT-OPEN TO U.S.and CANADA  EBOOK-OPEN TO ALL
FILL OUT RAFFLECOPTER ENTRY FORM BELOW
GIVEAWAY ENDS SEPTEMBER 25th AT 6PM EST

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WINNER WILL BE CHOSEN BY RAFFLECOPTER AND NOTIFIED
VIA EMAIL AND WILL HAVE 48 HOURS TO RESPOND
OR ANOTHER NAME WILL BE CHOSEN

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YOUR JAVA SCRIPT MAY NEED TO BE UPDATED
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DISCLAIMER
No items that I receive are ever sold…they are kept by me, or given to family and/or friends.
ADDENDUM
I do not have any affiliation with Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. I am an IndieBound affiliate. I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.

 

Aug 232013
 

WELCOME ELAINE DRENNON LITTLE

ELAINE DRENNON LITTLE

Adopted at birth, Elaine lived her first twenty years on her parents’ agricultural farm in rural southern Georgia.  She was a public school music teacher for twenty-seven years, and continued to dabble with sideline interests in spite of her paid profession.  Playing in her first band at age fourteen, she seemed to almost always be involved in at least one band or another.  Elaine’s writing began in high school, publishing in local newspapers, then educational journals, then later in online fiction journals.  In 2008 she enrolled in the MFA program at Spalding University in Louisville, where upon graduation finished her second novel manuscript. Recently retiring after eleven years as a high school chorus and drama director, Elaine now lives in north Georgia with her husband, an ever-growing library of used books, and many adopted animals.
Connect with Elaine at these sites:

WEBSITE         

ABOUT THE BOOK

A Southern Place is a moving book that is expertly written! Mary Jane Hatcher–everyone calls her Mojo–is beat up bad. She’s in the ICU of Phoebe Putney, the largest hospital in South Georgia, barely able to talk. How Mojo goes from being that skinny little girl in Nolan, a small forgotten town along the Flint River, to the young woman now fighting for her life, is where this story begins and ends.

Mojo, her mama Delores and her Uncle Calvin Mullinax, like most folks in Nolan, have just tried to make the best of it. Of course, people aren’t always what they seem, and Phil Foster–the handsome, spoiled son of the richest man in the county–is no exception.

As the story of the Mullinax family unfolds, Mojo discovers a family’s legacy can be many things: a piece of earth, a familiar dwelling, a shared bond. And although she doesn’t know why she feels such a bond with Phil Foster, it is there all the same, family or not. And she likes to think we all have us a fresh start. Like her mama always said, the past is all just water under the bridge. Mojo, after going to hell and back, finally comes to understand what that means.

Review by Guest Blogger, Crystal from Bring On Lemons
I knew her name was Mary Jane Mullinax and folks called her MoJo, but there had to be more to the story than that. Sherriff Purvis of Dumas County Georgia described Mo Jo and her family as good folds, quiet-like and said there was no one to call. Her mama had died years before and she had never known her daddy. As a reader, I immediately felt I didn’t want to leave her side until she was out of the ICU and on the road to recovery.

 

Little did I know that A Southern Place would take me back in time to the days when Mo Jo’s grandparents were working the land and the rich Georgia soil. Wherever this story was going, I was going with it. I wanted to know everything about this young girl, her parents, her grandparents, and especially her uncle Calvin (Cal for short). Cal had been important in Mo Jo’s upbringing and I was intrigued by a man who would selflessly sacrifice everything for the sake of his family. Cal had died years before Mo Jo found herself alone and near death in the ICU, but something tells me Mo Jo had the same love for her family that her uncle had. She managed to take quite a beating and somehow protect her unborn child and that just seems like the same sort of family value that Cal showed when he selflessly put everyone else before himself.

 

Mo Jo and her family hadn’t come from the best of backgrounds, but they were proud. As the story advanced in years, it became clear that the Mullinax family was deeply attached to the land; they worked the land and believed that hard work would win in the end. I found myself cheering them on and as things fell apart I slumped in my chair feeling the same defeat they must have felt as they took out another mortgage and sold off some of their precious land.

 

Little’s descriptions and understanding of everything from farming to history really made A Southern Place come to life for me. This may be Little’s first published novel, but I certainly hope it won’t be her last. She has a way of bringing her characters to life and her depictions of the south have me longing for a visit. I am curious about peanut plantations as well as intrigued by the author herself – a piano teacher with thirty years’ experience turned author, now that’s something I didn’t see coming! Thank you Elaine Drennon Little for this exceptional book and I do hope to read more from you in the future!

 

Want to find out more about taking life’s lemons and turning them into lemonade or read more of Crystal’s book reviews? Follow Crystal’s lemon blog by clicking here:http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/
BOOK DETAILS:

Publisher: WiDo Publishing
Publication Date: August 6, 2013
Number of pages: 294 pages
ISBN-10: 1937178390
ISBN-13: 978-1937178390

PURCHASE LINKS:

           

THANKS TO CRYSTAL AT WOW!,
I
HAVE ONE (1) COPY TO GIVE AWAY.
PRINT-OPEN TO US and CANADA RESIDENTS  EBOOK-OPEN TO ALL
FILL OUT RAFFLECOPTER ENTRY FORM BELOW
GIVEAWAY ENDS SEPTEMBER 6th AT 6PM EST

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WINNER WILL BE CHOSEN BY RAFFLECOPTER AND NOTIFIED
VIA EMAIL AND WILL HAVE 48 HOURS TO RESPOND
OR ANOTHER NAME WILL BE CHOSEN

a Rafflecopter giveaway

YOUR JAVA SCRIPT MAY NEED TO BE UPDATED
IF YOU AR EXPERIENCING DIFFICULTY
USING THE RAFFLECOPTER ENTRY FORM

DISCLAIMER
I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me, in exchange for my honest review. No items that I receive are ever sold…they are kept by me, or given to family and/or friends.
ADDENDUM
I do not have any affiliation with Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. I am an IndieBound affiliate. I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.

 

Aug 022013
 

WELCOME ERIC TRANT

ERIC TRANT

Eric Trant is a fantasy-thriller author who lives in North Dallas with his wife and family. His work blends believable stories into a mixture of realism and supernatural elements, while always keeping the reader engaged with deeply-drawn characters, stunning visuals and constant motion. His goal is to create stories which linger with the reader long after the book is read. Wink is Eric’s second novel.
Connect with Eric at these sites:

WEBSITE

GUEST POST

Why You Should Be Yourself in Writing and Marketing

I used to have this story in my head, and I guess it’s still there, called A Day in the Life of Someone More Interesting. I have no idea what the story is about, other than it is not about me. I don’t find that I’m all that interesting or impressive or conversational or mysterious or brilliant or any of those things you want your characters to be. I want to be someone different, and that can get you into trouble.

First of all, everyone is interesting if you dig deep enough. We all have backstories and a neat history and worthwhile beliefs and opinions. Just because someone is popular does not mean they are more important or smarter, it just means they are more obvious to a greater number of people.

I now bring the topic to the art of writing and to the business of marketing your writing. There is a (or an? help!) ubiquitous belief among non-megalomaniacs and non-Narcissists that we are uninteresting to ourselves. There is also a pervasive fact of human nature that we are interesting to everyone else. There is the nosy neighbor peeking through the blinds, here the gossip whispering, down in the basement the Facebook addict posting up juicy tidbits, and all around you the flitter-flatter of chitter-chatter about other peoples’ (or people’s? peoples? oh man where is my editor!) business.

Be true to yourself when you write and your readers will be true to you. This means creating stories that you find interesting, and that draw on your experiences. If you want a different experience, get one! Go on a cruise before you write the boat-book, on a hike before you write the mountain-book, on a date before you write the date-book, and so on. You do not have to fake interesting to find great pieces of yourself to inject into your stories.

Even more of this is true for the marketing. As a society of consumers, raised in the Golden Age of Advertising, subject to tweets and posts and sidebar ads and billboards and commercials and little signs above the urinal, we are adept at picking out the BS from these ads. While some ads are tricky, we can usually spot the stinky-stuff and avoid it with a fair degree of success.

So avoid the stinky-stuff in your marketing. Do what you are comfortable doing, and become good at those things. Find a marketing path that marries your personality with your skillset, and that caters to the crowd who is going to read the stories you wrote. Public signings and speeches come first to mind, since that is a big deal to authors, especially new ones. If you are uncomfortable and insecure and untrained in public speaking, it is best to be silent and thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. Isn’t that how the saying goes?

Me, I prefer to keep my blog and FB and one-on-one marketing very personal and personable with a smidge of commerciality. In other words, I want to be known first as Eric, and then as Eric Trant the Author. Still, going full-on commercial works for many authors and entertainers, but not for me. I prefer to wait on the book signings and speaking until I have a few books to sign and speak about. Wink is my second novel, and I have several short stories under my belt. I am just now comfortable doing things like blog tours and open promotions, and speaking in personal circles about my writing, and hope on future pieces to be comfortable doing public signings and speaking. Many authors tour their first book, or even their first short story, but that’s not for me.

Do you see where I’m going with this? While I do step out of my comfort zone — you must do that — I stay close enough to home that I don’t become someone unrecognizable as Eric. I am true to myself, and I believe that will make all the difference.

How about you? Have you done or been asked to do anything you did not believe in? What are your comfort zones for marketing and writing?

 

ABOUT THE BOOK
In this thriller set in a rural Gulf Coast town, twelve-year-old Marty Jameson finds refuge in the attic from his mother’s abusive rages. But only during the day. At night the attic holds terrors even beyond what he witnesses in his home. With a family made up of a psychotic mother, a drug-dealing father and a comatose older brother withering away in the spare bedroom, Marty feels trapped.Next door, wheel-chair bound Sadie Marsh obsessively watches Marty’s comings and goings from her bedroom window, despite her mother’s warning about the evil in that house. Evil which appears to Sadie as huge black-winged creatures.Marty, emotionally torn by the violence and dysfunction in his family, is drawn to Sadie and her kindly mother. But if he is to save his new friend from the supernatural horror threatening them all, Marty must transform himself from victim to hero. And to do so, he must first confront what lurks hidden in the shadows of his attic.

BOOK DETAILS:

Genre: Thriller
Publisher: WiDo Publishing
Publication date: 3/27/2013
Pages: 282
ISBN-13: 9781937178345

PURCHASE LINKS:

           

THANKS TO CRYSTAL AT WOW!,
I
HAVE ONE (1) COPY TO GIVE AWAY.
PRINT-OPEN TO U.S. & CANADA RESIDENTS or EBOOK-OPEN TO ALL
FILL OUT RAFFLECOPTER ENTRY FORM BELOW
GIVEAWAY ENDS AUGUST 16th AT 6PM EST

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WINNER WILL BE CHOSEN BY RAFFLECOPTER AND NOTIFIED
VIA EMAIL AND WILL HAVE 48 HOURS TO RESPOND
OR ANOTHER NAME WILL BE CHOSEN

a Rafflecopter giveaway

YOUR JAVA SCRIPT MAY NEED TO BE UPDATED
IF YOU AR EXPERIENCING DIFFICULTY
USING THE RAFFLECOPTER ENTRY FORM

DISCLAIMER
No items that I receive are ever sold…they are kept by me, or given to family and/or friends.
ADDENDUM
I do not have any affiliation with Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. I am an IndieBound affiliate. I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.