Oct 302017
 

Claudette E. Sutton’s
WOW! WOMEN ON WRITING TOUR

OF

“Farewell Aleppo”

Tour Begins October 23rd !

My Father, My People, and Their Long Journey Home

ABOUT THE BOOK

The Jews of Aleppo, Syria, had been part of the city’s fabric for more than two thousand years, in good times and bad, through conquerors and kings. But in the middle years of the twentieth century, all that changed.

To Selim Sutton, a merchant with centuries of roots in the Syrian soil, the dangers of rising anti-Semitism made clear that his family must find a new home. With several young children and no prospect of securing visas to the United States, he devised a savvy plan for getting his family out: “exporting” his sons. In December 1940, he told the two oldest, Meïr and Saleh, that arrangements had been made for their transit to Shanghai, where they would work in an uncle’s export business. China, he hoped, would provide a short-term safe harbor and a steppingstone to America.

But the world intervened for the young men, now renamed Mike and Sal by their Uncle Joe. Sal became ill with tuberculosis soon after arriving and was sent back to Aleppo alone. And the war that soon would engulf every inhabited land loomed closer each day. Joe, Syrian-born but a naturalized American citizen, barely escaped on the last ship to sail for the U.S. before Pearl Harbor was bombed and the Japanese seized Shanghai. Mike was alone, a teen-ager in an occupied city, across the world from his family, with only his mettle to rely on as he strived to survive personally and economically in the face of increasing deprivation.

Farewell, Aleppo is the story—told by his daughter—of the journey that would ultimately take him from the insular Jewish community of Aleppo to the solitary task of building a new life in America. It is both her father’s tale that journalist Claudette Sutton describes and also the harrowing experiences of the family members he left behind in Syria, forced to smuggle themselves out of the country after it closed its borders to Jewish emigration.

The picture Sutton paints is both a poignant narrative of individual lives and the broader canvas of a people’s survival over millennia, in their native land and far away, through the strength of their faith and their communities. Multiple threads come richly together as she observes their world from inside and outside the fold, shares an important and nearly forgotten epoch of Jewish history, and explores universal questions of identity, family, and culture.

BOOK DETAILS:

Genre: Memoir

Publisher: Terra Nova Books

Publication Date: October 1, 2014

ISBN-10: 1938288408

ISBN-13: 978-1938288401

Pages 180

PURCHASE LINKS:

CLAUDETTE SUTTON

It’s no coincidence that family is the central focus of both Farewell, Aleppo and the work that has been the driving force of its author’s professional life.

Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins in the close-knit community of Syrian Jews all were part of Claudette Sutton’s childhood in suburban Maryland, along with her parents and siblings. Years later, as a young mother in Santa Fe, it seemed only natural to think of creating a similar kind of close support for families in her new hometown by means of her journalism training and experience.

Thus began what is now Tumbleweeds, an award-winning local publication that for over twenty years has been expanding its role in serving the city’s families. As the quarterly newspaper has grown, so have its scope and community contributions, mixing news, commentary, personal writing, advice, and activity guides—all reflecting Claudette’s vision of a community resource to help her neighbors face the challenges of parenting.

Claudette’s eloquent writing, the other great strength she combines with the paper’s wide-ranging utility, has been a door to the world for her since she was a teen-ager. As a reporter, she realized early, “You can learn about everything”—a much more appealing option after high school than the enforced specialization of college.

After three years writing for the Montgomery County Sentinel in Maryland, Claudette moved to New York, where she earned a bachelor’s degree from the New School for Social Research. Living in proximity to another side of her extensive family, she built a deeper understanding of the Jewish exodus from Syria that has formed the backdrop for the story she tells so movingly in Farewell, Aleppo.

The narrative chronicles her father’s youth, his odyssey across oceans and continents, and the new life he made in America. But as Claudette talked with him and researched more deeply, she saw also the essential elements of the larger tale. What began as one man’s story grew into a portrait of the history that made his journey necessary, and of how a vibrant people have preserved their community and culture through the thousands of years from biblical times to today.
Connect with Claudette at these sites:

WEBSITE TWITTER

GUEST POST

What is It?

When I finished writing my book Farewell, Aleppo back in 2014, the very last words I chose were the subtitle.

The book is a memoir of my father’s relocation from Syria to America in the middle of the last century. Brainstorming together, Dad and I decided on: “My Father, My People, and Their Long Journey Home.” There’s a bit of irony there, since his family was forced out of the Jewish community that had been their home for centuries, and came here to build a new life.

“[They] brought religious practices, household traditions, foods, familial bonds, and tenacity,” I wrote in the epilogue. “Everything else could be replaced.”

In talks I’ve given on the book since then, questions about home have come up often. Is home something we make, or something we are given? Is home rooted in place, or is it portable? Is it “where you hang your hat” – or where your ancestors hung theirs?

What is home? It’s a question the whole world seems to be asking right now, when record numbers of people have been displaced by war, famine, natural disaster, religious or political oppression, and human trafficking.

As a Jew living in America, I have conflicting ideas of home. For the Jewish people, mobility is an integral part of our identity and our narrative. We are the “people scattered among the nations,” the “Wandering Jew.” Diaspora and exile have been central to our heritage from our very beginnings. Home is something we carry within.

Americans, by contrast, are epitomes of stability. We give bragging rights to those who can claim ancestry dating back to the Mayflower (or, in New Mexico, where I live to the first Spanish explorers who came up the Rio Grande in the 1500s). My parents and siblings live within 20 miles of the D.C. suburb where I was born. (I’m the exception: I moved from Maryland to Santa Fe three decades ago.) Home is our connection to a place.

But as I’ve learned from sharing my father’s story in the past few years, few of us have to dig deep in our past before hitting experiences of displacement. Whether as refugees, immigrants, slaves, or people of conquered nations, we all know the challenge of finding home. We are a mobile species, whether by force, choice or need. Perhaps home is as much an ideal as a reality.

For me now, hearing the windows rattling on a windy night in the mountains, home is shelter. Home is my husband and cat. Home the soup on the stove, the wine in my glass. And home is a sense of longing, a restlessness born of ancestry and experience, less a fixed location than a direction. Home is an emotional North Star.

Praise:

“A multi-faceted biography of her father and his long-ago journey from ancient Aleppo to skyscraper America, the story of the vanished Syrian-Jewish culture in Aleppo, now a battleground in Syria’s civil war, [and] a look at how that culture still survives. A treasure of a book.”
-Bernard Kalb, former correspondent for the New York Times, CBS News and NBC News, moderator of CNN’s Reliable Sources and Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs

“Sutton merges the best of family biography with relevant and fascinating historical, social, and religious knowledge. Incorporating elements of history, religious struggles, pursuit of dreams, and the strength of kinship to create a stirring tribute to the foresight of her grandfather and the strength and perseverance of his offspring, Sutton craftily weaves interesting story lines into an encouraging and intriguing narrative.”
-Foreword Reviews

Claudette Sutton takes the reader on a courageous journey as she tells the story of her father, whose world changed with the winds of World War II. Farewell, Aleppo is a story of how people are shaped by their past. This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to explore this rich culture that many people do not know very much about.
– Elise Cooper, Jewish Book Council

An engaging, evocative, deeply touching book that is part memoir, part history and part a personal journey….virtually a love-story of a daughter to a father.

– James McGrath Morris, author of Pulitzer, and Eyes on the Struggle

This book is a jewel box, and Sutton’s father’s shimmering memories of growing up Jewish in Aleppo, Turkey, and Shanghai are the precious jewels. I could taste the food, feel the anxiety after the founding of Israel, experience the highs and lows of life in Shanghai during the Second World War. The specificity of the Mizrahi lifestyle––which continues in America to this day–– will be of great interest to readers.

– Judith Fein, author of The Spoon From Minkowitz and Life is A Trip

Sutton manages to walk that fine, fine line of making the personal universal and the universal personal. [She] interviewed her dad over a period of nearly twenty years and did a tremendous amount of research for this book, but the sprawling story of “China Mike” is somehow concise, a tidy 155 pages in a pleasing design with photos, maps, and enough historical context to complete the reader’s understanding. We are indebted to her for this outstanding book.

– Barbara Gerber, author of “Love and Death in a Perfect World”

Farewell, Aleppo: My Father, My People, and Their Long Journey Home offers the reader a graceful blend of “China Mike’s” biography and a history of the Jewish people of Aleppo. When I finished Claudette Sutton’s tribute, I felt I’d traveled many miles and gotten to know Miro, Son of Selim Sutton. A true father-daughter story, Farewell, Aleppo is loving, informative and unforgettable.

-Elaine Pinkerton Coleman, author of From Calcutta with Love and The Goodbye Baby

There certainly must have been something unique about the Jews of Aleppo to have allowed them to survive there for thousands of years and preserve a sense of tradition and community in America for the last 100 years. A remarkable tale of the power of family, tradition, culture and history. Makes the current devastation of Aleppo during the Syrian Civil War all the more tragic.

– Ellen Zieselman, retired Curator of Education, New Mexico Mexico Museum of Art; Youth Director, Temple Beth Shalom

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.

Jul 112017
 

LARRY KILHAM

Larry Kilham has traveled extensively overseas for over twenty years. He worked in several large international companies and started and sold two high-tech ventures. He received a B.S. in engineering from the University of Colorado and an M.S. in management from MIT. Larry has written books about creativity and invention, artificial intelligence and digital media, travel overseas, and three novels with an AI theme. Currently, he is writing a novel about free will.

Connect with Larry at these sites:

WEBSITE TWITTER

ABOUT THE BOOK

Will digital media sweep us into a new era of prosperity? What new advances in entertainment, culture, education, and knowledge can we expect? Will we get stuck in Cyberland only to be saved by digital detox?

The Digital Rabbit Hole reveals that we are becoming captive in the digital universe. The portals are smartphones and the world is the Internet. We immerse ourselves in social media; we learn through packaged feel-good information; and we will leave the hard work to robots and AI. The book details digital media and discusses smartphone addiction problems. It proposes solutions to stimulate creativity and education and to recapture our humanity.

BOOK DETAILS:

Paperback: 144 Pages
Genre: Social Science/Non Fiction
Publisher: FutureBooks.info; 1 edition (January 1, 2016)
ASIN: B01A3MTVBS

PURCHASE LINKS:

FOLLOW THE TOUR

Monday July 10th @ WOW! Women on Writing
Interview & Giveaway
http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com/

Tuesday July 11th @ CMash Reads
Cheryl Masciarelli spotlights Larry Kilham’s “The Digital Rabbit Hole”. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn more about Kilham and his many published works.
http://cmashlovestoread.com/

Wednesday July 12th @ Bring on Lemons with Cathy Hansen
Educator, Business Owner, and Mother Cathy Hansen reads and reviews “The Digital Rabbit Hole” by Larry Kilham. Read her thoughts today!
http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

Thursday July 13th @ Linda Appleman Shapiro
Author and Psychotherapist/Addictions Counselor Linda Appleman Shapiro shares her thoughts and insight after reading and reviewing “The Digital Rabbit Hole” by Larry Kilham.
http://applemanshapiro.com/category/book-reviews/

Friday July 14th @ Bring on Lemons with Crystal Otto
Avid reader and reviewer (and social media lover) Crystal J. Casavant-Otto reads and reviews Larry Kilham’s “The Digital Rabbit Hole” and shares her thoughts about how social media has changed our lives.
http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

Monday July 17th @ Beverley Baird
Writer, Reader, and Book Enthusiast Beverley A Baird reviews Larry Kilham’s “The Digital Rabbit Hole” and shares her experiences with her readers.
https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

Tuesday July 18th @ Bring on Lemons with Troy Pflum
Midwestern father and avid reader Troy Pflum reads and reviews Larry Kilham’s “The Digital Rabbit Hole” and shares his ideas and afterthoughts with readers at Bring on Lemons.
http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

Wednesday July 19th @ Constant Story
Fellow author David Berner reads and reviews Larry Kilham’s “The Digital Rabbit Hole”.
http://davidwberner.blogspot.com/

Thursday July 20th @ Book Santa Fe
Reader and book enthusiast Tange Dudt reviews Larry Kilham’s “The Digital Rabbit Hole” and shares her thoughts with readers at Book Santa Fe.
http://www.booksantafe.info/

Friday July 21st @ Eric Trant
Fellow author Eric Trant shares his thoughts after reading and reviewing “The Digital Rabbit Hole” by Larry Kilham.
http://diggingwiththeworms.blogspot.com/

Sunday July 23rd @ Hott Books
Today’s author spotlight at Hott Books is none other than Larry Kilham. Find out more about this accomplished author and “The Digital Rabbit Hole”
http://hottbooks.com

Monday July 24th @ Lisa Haselton Reviews and Interviews
Lisa Haselton interviews Larry Kilham about “The Digital Rabbit Hole”
http://lisahaseltonsreviewsandinterviews.blogspot.com/

Tuesday July 25th Bring on Lemons with Tess Fallier
Tess Fallier is today’s guest blogger with a review and insight into Larry Kilham’s “The Digital Rabbit Hole”. Don’t miss this blog stop!
http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

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.

Dec 082014
 

WELCOME Author

David W. Berner

David W. Berner-the award winning author of ACCIDENTAL LESSONS and ANY ROAD WILL TAKE YOU THERE-was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he began his work as a broadcast journalist and writer. He moved to Chicago to work as a radio reporter and news anchor for CBS Radio and later pursue a career as a writer and educator. His book ACCIDENTAL LESSONS is about his year teaching in one of the Chicago area’s most troubled school districts. The book won the Golden Dragonfly Grand Prize for Literature and has been called a “beautiful, elegantly written book” by award-winning author Thomas E. Kennedy, and “a terrific memoir” by Rick Kogan (Chicago Tribune and WGN Radio). ANY ROAD WILL TAKE YOU THERE is the author’s story of a 5000-mile road trip with his sons and the revelations of fatherhood. The memoir has been called “heartwarming and heartbreaking” and “a five-star wonderful read.”

Connect with Author:

WEBSITE TWITTER

The Disciplined Writer

by David W. Berner

I was lucky. In fact, I would consider myself privileged to have been chosen to finish the manuscript for Any Road Will Take You There during a 2-½ month stay at the Jack Kerouac House in Orlando. That’s pretty special. I was named the writer-in-residence at the Kerouac Project and was honored by the opportunity to write, uninterrupted, for 10 weeks while I lived in the home where Kerouac lived just after the big splash for his masterpiece, On the Road. It was an amazing experience.

But of all the things I gained from that time in Orlando, one of the most important for me as a writer was perfecting the art of discipline.

I thought I had always been pretty good about considering writing as a job. What I mean by that is to treat the work of writing as just that, work. Get up, get dressed, go to the office (your writing space) and get down to the business of putting words on paper. When I wrote Accidental Lessons–my first memoir–I spent 30 minutes every weekday morning at my laptop before going to my job as a teacher, and the on weekend mornings I spent at least two hours at my desk, starting at sunrise. I was living alone at the time, so that made it easier. But that shouldn’t matter. Tell those you live with that “this is your writing time” and to give you the space, leave you alone, unless the house is on fire. The idea is to keep your writing time¬–when and wherever that is–sacrosanct.

However, when I arrived at the Orlando house, I knew I had to keep an even more disciplined routine. The Kerouac House is in a quaint part of city, College Park. There are great restaurants, coffee shops, a solid bookstore in an adjacent neighborhood, then you have the ocean only a drive away, and plenty of bike trails. Oh yes, golf courses, too. One could easily get lost in Florida’s charms, so in order to battle that I set up a schedule. I would rise around 6AM each day, make coffee, and sit myself down at a small desk in the same tiny room where Kerouac wrote The Dharma Bums and I would write for two hours. I’d then break, make breakfast, take a short walk, and then return to the desk. I would write until noon or 1PM and then call it a day, returning to the writing work only if I was particularly moved to do so. I would fill the rest of the afternoon with exercise, exploring the town of College Park, golf now and then, and a bike ride or two. In the evenings after dinner, I would play guitar or read. And then I would get up the next day and do it all over again.

There were times I would make adjustments. My son came to visit for a few days, I had some freelance journalism work to complete and that required some local travel. But generally, I stuck to that plan because it worked for me. I got words on paper every single day.

Many times at writing workshops I’ve been asked how to find the time to complete a book, a novel, even a short story. How do you find time for writing? It’s a simple answer, really. You have to make the time, and keep it sacred. I teach college and work in broadcast journalism in Chicago, I’m busy. But when I’m working on a writing project, I set up my schedule and I stay with it. You must think of the writing process like working out. You want to lose weight, get in shape, then you have to stick to a disciplined routine and it’s same thing for writing. You can make it work for you by locking in designated times or word counts as mileposts. Set goals, but don’t set the bar too high. Even if you can block out just 30 minutes a day, or knock out 500 words a sitting, that’s good. It all adds up.

And one other thing: forget about waiting for the muse. There is no such thing. Writing is a job–an artistic, creative job–but it’s still a job. There’s work to be done; get to it.

Any Road Will Take You There, my latest book is about a 5000-mile road trip I took with my sons after a family secret was revealed. The journey becomes an examination of fatherhood and how all men will be forever influenced by the fathers who came before them. But to make this cross-country trip a success, just like the work of writing, I needed to devise a plan. Map out some travel, book camping reservations, and rent a vehicle–one of those tacky RVs. I had to plan meals and pack food. But I also had to permit myself to break the rules, to forget about plans and go with my gut. We took some unfamiliar roads, made a lot of extra stops, and explored far more than was on the itinerary. So, despite all the talk here about being disciplined and scheduled with your writing, it’s also important to occasionally throw all of that out the window. Discipline gets the work done, but freeing yourself from it helps feed the soul. Remember both.

I completed the manuscript for Any Road Will Take You There at the Kerouac House that summer in Orlando. There would be more edits and some touch-ups to perform before publishing, but I was able to complete a very solid draft because, in part, I stayed true to the work. There’s no magic to it. Just start typing.

ABOUT Any Road Will Take You There

Any Road Will Take You There: A Journey of Fathers and Sons is a heartwarming and heartbreaking story told with humor and grace, revealing the generational struggles and triumphs of being a dad, and the beautiful but imperfect ties that connect all of us.

Recipient of a Book of the Year Award from the Chicago Writers Association, Any Road Will Take You There is honest, unflinching, and tender.

In the tradition of the Great American Memoir, a middle-age father takes the reader on a five-thousand-mile road trip — the one he always wished he’d taken as a young man. Recently divorced and uncertain of the future, he rereads the iconic road story — Jack Kerouac’s On the Road — and along with his two sons and his best friend, heads for the highway to rekindle his spirit.

However, a family secret turns the cross-country journey into an unexpected examination of his role as a father, and compels him to look to the past and the fathers who came before him to find contentment and clarity, and celebrate the struggles and triumphs of being a dad.

BOOK DETAILS:

Number of Pages: 300
Genre: Memior
Publisher: Dream of Things
Publication Date: September 23, 2014
ISBN-10: 0988439096
ISBN-13: 978-0988439092

PURCHASE LINK:

Nov 182014
 

 

Linda Appleman Shapiro

About the Author: Behavioral psychotherapist/Addictions Counselor/ Oral Historian/ Mental Health Advocate and author, Linda Appleman Shapiro earned her B.A. in literature from Bennington College, a Master’s degree in Human Development/Counseling from the Bank Street College of Education, and a Master Certification in Neuro-Linguistic Programming from the New York Institute of N.L.P. She has further certifications in Ericksonian Hypnosis and Substance Abuse/Addictions Counseling.

Linda Appleman Shapiro is a contributing author in the casebook, “Leaves Before the Wind: Leading Applications of N.L.P.”

In private practice for more than thirty years, Shapiro also served as a senior staff member at an out-patient facility for addicts and their families. As an oral historian, she has documented the lives of many of New York’s elderly.

Her first memoir, Four Rooms, Upstairs, was self-published in 2007 and named Finalist in the Indie Next Generation Book Awards in 2008. Her blog of three years, “A Psychotherapist’s Journey,”  named Shapiro Top Blogger in the field of mental health by WELLsphere.

Married to actor and audiobook narrator George Guidall, Linda Appleman Shapiro and her husband live in Westchester County, New York. They have two adult daughters and two grandchildren.
Connect with Ms. Shapiro at these sites:

WEBSITE       

Guest Post

Dear Cheryl,

Many thanks for hosting this blog.
I hope my responses to your topic will whet the appetites of your readers.
WIth gratitude and warm regards,
Linda

The Importance of not stereotyping anyone who suffers from mental illness ~

 In stereotyping anyone or any group of people, we are guilty of expressing generalizations that are seldom, if ever, true of any one person being targeted.

I suppose in today’s parlance, I would liken stereotyping to a kind of bullying based on prejudice fed by misinformation.

 Stigma and discrimination (major examples of stereotyping) have been known to harm all who suffer from one mental disorder or another, and since MENTAL ILLNESS is an umbrella for so many disorders – most of which are misunderstood or lumped together — false impressions and mis-education are given all too often to the general public.  

 Having lived with a mother who suffered from major depressive disorder and writing about her in my memoir, SHE’S NOT HERSELF, I have a very personal investment in helping to educate and advocate for mental health. I am ever so grateful to organizations such as N.A.M.I. that are out front and in the news whenever the media misrepresents (in photo or as a character in a TV series)  perpetrators accused of a crime as “probably” being mentally ill. A perfect example of stereotyping a misconception. The truth is that the majority of people with mental illness are not violent, not criminal and not dangerous. In all recent major studies, the majority of offenders did not display patterns of crimes related to mental illness symptoms.

 So, while it is true that mental illness has been taken out of the closet to the degree that one celebrity or another is constantly in the news for having committed suicide, for being misdiagnosed or given the wrong medication, when those same rich or famous who survive are then interviewed on TV, they are sensationalizing a particular ‘woe is me” story that further stigmatizes and misinforms the public who, in turn, generalize, stigmatize, and stereotype all patients. Whether some suffer from a genetic inheritance over which they feel they have little control or others suffer from being in intolerably abusive households, until or unless they receive treatment they will remain victims. Yet, when they are violent, it is usually towards themselves, not others. Their pain is too great and others are not there to recognize their symptoms or help to get them the medical assistance they need and deserve.

 My mother, as my most favorite example, was a physically beautiful woman. If you had seen her on the street, you most certainly would have noticed her.  On the other hand, when I was a child in the 1940s and 50s and she was experiencing any one of her horrifying “break-downs” she was hidden from view at such times. Our blinds were drawn, she was given shock treatments and/or hospitalized until she was well enough to return home.  Yet, she was the same mother who had enormous compassion and taught me all that I know about unconditional love, kindness and how to be my best person. Does that sound like a mother you’d like to meet? I certainly hope so. Yet, in the days before modern medicine (psychiatry in particular) advanced to where it is today, not one of us in our family talked about her illness and, as a result, she remained, for the most part, isolated, in fear of what others would think of her and, in turn, us, her children. And we, her family, suffered in silence, with no explanations for all that we witnessed and no help to deal with our personal demons.

 Although much has changed since those years when I was growing up, society still  has along way to go with regard to allocating money for funding research regarding how best to treat patients, knowing when medication is necessary and which medication is best for a particular person with a particular disorder. We also need to make psychotherapy (talk therapy) affordable and available to all who suffer (the patients as well as their family members who are affected by their family member’s  disability).

 To answer your specific question, I will not discuss the various/terribly painful conditions such as schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, and other disorders that fall under that large umbrella we refer to as mental illness. I will keep my focus on major depression, since I experienced it first-hand while living with my mother.

 The great majority of people world-wide experience states of depression at one time or another. However, for anyone who has experienced more than relatively brief reactive depressive states from the death of a loved one, or after the effects of a divorce, or a major relocation – those who suffer from on-going or recurrent states of depression such as PTSD – experienced by our veterans who return from defending our country and are left feeling of hopeless, unable to sleep or sleeping too much, unable to eat or unable to stop themselves from eating or having recurring nightmares over which they believe they have no control . . . can anyone say that ridiculing such people and/or stereotyping them can ever be helpful? 

 As today’s statistic is that one in four people suffer from mental illness, if we – as a society –  remain victims of our own ignorance, we will continue to be a part of the problem and not a part of the solution in further developing ways for healing.

 When we objectify and thereby stereotype any group of people suffering from any illness, we ultimately diminish ourselves and to the degree that we would all prefer to live in a healthier, saner world, we must remember that stereotyping only prevents us from moving forward and creating such a world.                                                                                                                                                        

ABOUT THE BOOK

She’s Not Herself: A Psychotherapist’s Journey Into and Beyond Her Mother’s Mental Illness is a journey to make sense of the effects of multi-generational traumas. Linda Appleman Shapiro is ultimately able to forgive (without forgetting) those who left her to fend for herself–and to provide readers with the wisdom of a seasoned psychotherapist who has examined human vulnerability in its many disguises and has moved through it all with dignity and hope. The result is a memoir of love, loss, loyalty, and healing.

On the surface, her childhood seemed normal–even idyllic. Linda Appleman Shapiro grew up in the iconic immigrant community of Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, with her parents and a gifted older brother. But she spent her days at home alone with a mother who suffered major bouts of depression. At such times, young Linda Appleman Shapiro was told, “Your mother…she’s not herself today.” Those words did little to help Linda understand what she was witnessing. Instead, she experienced the anxiety and hyper-vigilance that often take root when secrecy and shame surround a family member who is ill.

BOOK DETAILS:

Paperback: 249Pages
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Dream of Things
Publication Date:  September 2, 2014
ASIN: B00N9PY1CQ

PURCHASE LINKS:

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.

Nov 172014
 

Memoir Revolution invitation

Jerry Waxler

JERRY WAXLER

Jerry Waxler teaches memoir writing at Northampton Community College, Bethlehem, PA, online, and around the country. His Memory Writers Network blog offers hundreds of essays, reviews, and interviews about reading and writing memoirs. He is on the board of the Philadelphia Writer’s Conference and National Association of Memoir Writers and holds a BA in Physics and an MS in Counseling Psychology.
Connect with Jerry at these sites:

WEBSITE        TWITTER

Guest Post

Around the age of fifty-five, I began to look for a new creative challenge, and decided that the most interesting thing I could possibly do would be to write the story of my life. This turned out to be an ambitious goal, because I didn’t know how to write stories and wasn’t even sure if an analytically-minded adult like me could ever learn. But if I didn’t try, I would never find out.

I started taking classes and practicing, and at each step, I learned some small idea or new way of looking at things. Then I used that idea to help me evolve to the next step.  One of the most important of these ideas was that to write stories, be on the lookout for strong scenes.

A strong scene is like a grain of sand in the soft tissue of the psyche. Some memories go so deep into your psyche, they are powerful enough to fuel a whole book. In memoir classes, these life-changing moments often seem to explode from memory onto the page, as if they were too strong to be kept hidden forever. For example, at one of the first memoir classes I attended, I wrote about the time in 1967 when a peaceful war protest escalated into a riot. Decades later, when I thought of writing about my life, that scene was one of the memories that forced me to keep going, trying to turn those years into a good story.

Short stories tend to be more lighthearted than book length stories. Typically the shorter form romps among the normal stuff that happens every day and drives us crazy. Even though short stories are lighter, they still need enough focused intensity to keep a reader’s interest. To find that intensity, look for scenes in your life that feel like grains of sand. . . Moments you keep thinking about. . . Moments you need to wrap in the smooth container of a story.

For example, the scene that motivated the title of this article occurred twelve years ago. My wife and I recently moved across town and our new next door neighbors seem a bit standoffish. One spring day, I look out the window and see my wife talking to the neighbor. I think “Oh, how nice. They’re starting to break the ice.”

A few minutes later she runs in, practically crying. “Oh my God. I feel so humiliated. He was really upset about the length of our grass. You’ve got to get out there and mow right now.”

“You’re kidding right?” But I detect no tone of irony in her voice. I immediately begin building my case.

“I like the lawn long. It feels more natural. I don’t want to live on a golf course.”

She stares at me.

“The bunnies love it,” I continue. Mentioning bunnies always makes us both smile, but this time nothing. I keep pressing. “The groundhog looks so cute when he scampers through it.”

“None of that matters. They are really upset.”

“Okay,” I say reluctantly, hating to be bullied by neighbors. But now it isn’t just the neighbors. My wife is now in on it.

That’s the scene, but how could I turn it into a story? To take it further, I need more scenes. The fact that it continues to nag at me provides a thousand scenes. For the next twelve years, every time I decide if it’s time to mow, and every time I adjust the cutting depth, I have an inner debate – should I leave it a longer for the sake of the bunnies, or shorter for the sake of the neighbors?

Another scene involves me hearing evidence to backup my belief that longer grass is better. The day I heard the organic gardener on public radio saying that a longer lawn is healthier for the grass, I feel vindicated. I eagerly tell my wife the good news, only to find out she doesn’t really care.

So now I have a few scenes. How to tie them together? A good story needs to have a point. Where is this story going? In a fiction story, the author would invent some outrageous wrap up, creating a scene that heightens the humor, irony, or shock. It could involve vigilantes. Or my neighbor and I could discover we are distantly related and end up best friends. However, in a nonfiction piece, our creativity must work within the actual facts.

If I had been swayed toward the neat, lawn ethic of my neighbors, I could end the story as a converted lawn guy, and call the story “From Lawn Slob to Lawn Snob.” However, I stuck to my position. When I walk outside to the dividing line between our properties, his side, as short and bright green and mine variegated and wild looking. So what is the point of the story I would write? Since my neighbor and I both like to rescue feral cats. I could show how our harmony in one area has supplanted our tension in another. I could include a photo of us standing together holding a rescued cat, with the dividing lawn of the two lawns behind us, and call the article “Agree to Disagree.

But this isn’t an article about lawns. It’s an article about learning to tell stories, and to conclude such an article, I need to bring it back to the lessons I learned in my journey as a story writer. Find the strong scenes. Add supporting scenes. To develop a punchy conclusion, let your mind roam through the implications of the scenes. What did you learn? What were the ironies? When you find an ending that seems fun, work back through the scenes and try to glue them together in a way that seems to effortlessly lead to this clever conclusion. Voila! A storywriter is born.

Memoir Revolution

ABOUT THE BOOK

When I attended my first memoir writing class in the summer of 2004, I quickly realized I wasn’t alone. Many others were reviewing their memories in search of interesting stories. To learn more, I began reading memoirs, many by authors whose main claim to fame was that they had taken the time to turn their lives into stories.

Each book offered a rich, generous window into the author’s life. To organize my thoughts and share them, I posted essays on my blog. Again, I found I wasn’t alone. Through the Internet, I started corresponding with other memoir bloggers and then with memoir writers. We were forming online communities!

I began teaching workshops where I introduced students to techniques for finding their own narratives. Once they realized they could translate the chaos of memories into the order of stories, they expressed their appreciation. Their excitement added to mine.

In 2008, a book publisher heard me speak and said I ought to write about my big ideas. “What big ideas?” I asked. “You know. What you’ve been saying about the importance of memoirs for individuals and society.”

At first I resisted the suggestion. I have always been addicted to ideas, and thought that finally in my later life, I was ready to replace analytical thoughts with lyrical ones. However, I couldn’t resist the challenge. I thought that perhaps I could achieve both goals. I would try to turn my ideas about memoirs into a good story.

To illustrate my observations, I provided specific examples from my growing shelf of memoirs. I soon realized I was writing a book about books. This turned out to be one of the biggest ideas of all. In our literate society, we learn so much about life from the writings that have been recorded before us. As memoir writers ourselves we pass along what we have learned to the next generation.

After five years of reading, interviewing, writing and revising, my editors reassured me that the book was ready. In 2013, I published the Memoir Revolution: A Social Shift that Uses Your Story to Heal, Connect, and Inspire. In the book, I explore the current interest in memoirs: where it came from, why it is having such a profound influence on readers and writers, what I have learned from it and what you can too.

One reason I felt so compelled to write the book was because of my belief that writing a memoir can be a powerful aid to self-understanding. Turning life into story moves events from their haphazard storage in memory back into a sequence. We see the scenes more clearly, and by finding the narrative that links them, we understand ourselves in a new light.

Unlike more isolated forms of introspection such as therapy and journaling, this one reaches outward. From the time you share a few anecdotes with fellow writers, you begin to see yourself the way others have seen you, providing an almost magical amalgamation of self and society.

When I was growing up in the sixties, I looked for my truth in the stories popular among young intellectuals. Authors like Franz Kafka, Joseph Heller, Samuel Beckett, and Albert Camus convinced me that life is meaningless. Their powerful literary works helped me dismantle my trust in the world, and without trust, I sank.

Now in the 21st century, memoirs offer a more healing collection of stories that weave the good and the bad in life into a purposeful narrative. Instead of undermining readers with disturbing twists of irony and dystopia, modern memoir authors shape real life, with its cruelties, vagaries and victories into an orderly container as ancient as civilization itself.

The bestselling authors in the front lines of the Memoir Revolution taught us about this healing potential of life stories. By sharing the psychological influences that shaped them Tobias Wolff (This Boy’s Life), Frank McCourt (Angela’s Ashes) and Jeannette Walls (Glass Castle) gave the rest of us license to explore our own. Like published authors who have worked long and hard to discover the purpose and character arc of their protagonist, we aspiring memoir writers strive to find the same driving forces within our own lives.

Memoir-lovers in my experience intuitively recognize the potential that this genre has for healing us individually and collectively. My book, Memoir Revolution, backs up these intuitive views with research and examples about how the cultural passion for life stories serves us all.

BOOK DETAILS:

Paperback: 190 pages
Publisher: Neuralcoach Press; 1 edition (April 9, 2013)
ISBN-10: 0977189538
ISBN-13: 978-0977189533

PURCHASE LINKS:

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.
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