Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Craig Staufenberg on Lowering Your Expectations as a Writer @YouMakeArtDumb #WriteTip #AmWriting

at 11:30 AM 0 comments
10 Tips for Becoming a Better Writer
Become a better person. Writing is truth serum. All your biases come out. All your good points and your bad points. You can’t always see your personal warts in your own writing, but other people are likely to. Sometimes clearly—they’ll know exactly what’s messed up about your perspective on the world. Other times your readers just feel like something’s off without being able to put their finger on it. But in both cases, unless they share your exact biases, your readers will see any ugliness in your heart that you’ve spilled out on the page. So try and work on being fair and kind to people within your own heart before you start opening it up.

Live a better life. Your inspirations, your reference points, and your obsessions all have to come from your lived, direct experience. Or, second best, the lived, direct experiences of someone you know personally. Otherwise you’re drawing from some other writer’s interpretations. And that’s a photocopy of a photocopy, at best.

Lower your expectations. It’ll make you happier in general. It’ll also make you happier about your work. It’s hard to like your book if you expect it to sell 100,000 copies and it sells 100. When you set high expectations you’re giving your book more work to do. Suddenly your book needs to make you a lot of money, and get you a lot of awards and prestige, and attract amazing partners of your preferred sex, and all that external nonsense. And all that baggage you’ve attached to the book will change your writing. You’ll write a different book if it needs to pay your rent than if you’re just writing from your heart. Your book only has one goal, and that’s to connect with your heart. That’s the only expectation you should set. That it’ll connect.

Learn some of the technical aspects of writing. Not necessary, but it helps. Your writing just needs to communicate clearly. If it already does, than you’re golden. If not, then brush up a little bit on how to write effectively. You may have a few “bad habits” that bog you down. But don’t clean up your writing too much—you want to keep your voice.

Write a lot. Now, the definition of “a lot” varies from person to person. Some people are such natural communicators they can write well without a lot of practice. Some people are just so interesting, or have such a gripping story to tell, that their book could be scrawled illegibly on cocktail napkins and you’d be glued to your seat reading it. But for the rest of us, writing lots will give you a good sense of your voice, and your thoughts. Most importantly, it will keep you from feeling scared about writing. In my early freelance days I wrote 10,000-20,000 words a day. It wasn’t great writing, but I put it down day after day. And I haven’t been scared of writing since then.

Share your writing with other people. Friends can be helpful. Especially friends who are successful enough creative pros that they won’t feel threatened by you and your work. In that vein I don’t recommend sharing with friends who wanted to be writers, or who sort of fancy themselves writers but don’t really make anything. Those people will have a hard time getting over their internal bullshit to help you out. And any feedback they offer will come from a theoretical place that is totally unhelpful. You’ll get your best feedback from absolute strangers. I hire strangers off Task Rabbit to read my books and give me honest feedback. It’s an indispensible part of my process.

Listen to what they say. If a lot of people say the same thing about your book, then they’re right. Especially if those people have no contact with each other or each other’s opinions. Public reviewers are often influenced by each other. And people who read reviews often parrot the language or tone of the reviews they read. But strangers in isolation give feedback from a genuine place. Listen to them. They won’t always offer helpful suggestions on how to fix your work. But they can tell you where it hurts.

Solve your personal problems outside of work. This is another way of saying what I explained in number two. But it’s important enough to drive home. Writing isn’t going to fix your life problems. Don’t burden your writing with the need to solve your problems. And writing isn’t therapy. When you write from your heart, you will naturally go through emotional experiences that can be challenging, and you may even find clarity and peace with some aspects of your life. But there’s a big difference between writing honestly from your heart, and treating your manuscript like a therapist’s couch.

Don’t try and model yourself on anyone else, especially on any other writer. This one relates to number two up there. You live a better life so you have real, direct experiences to pull from. Otherwise you’re pulling from other writers. But there are two other warnings in here. First, don’t try and replicate another writer’s process and expect it to work for you. Feel free to grab elements as you tinker with your own process, but copying Kafka’s writing process won’t make you write like Kafka. Second, if you hold writers up to a pedestal you’ll never become one. “Becoming a writer” will always be this lofty dream out of reach. Even worse, when you worship authors you never get to clearly evaluate if you even want to actually become one in the first place. You might not. I’m still on the fence. 

Relax. You’re not fighting a war here.

The Girl Who Came Back to Life

When you die, your spirit wakes in the north, in the City of the Dead. There, you wander the cold until one of your living loved ones finds you, says "Goodbye," and Sends you to the next world. 

After her parents die, 12-year-old Sophie refuses to release their spirits. Instead, she resolves to travel to the City of the Dead to bring her mother and father’s spirits back home with her. 

Taking the long pilgrimage north with her gruff & distant grandmother—by train, by foot, by boat; over ruined mountains and plains and oceans—Sophie struggles to return what death stole from her. Yet the journey offers her many hard, unexpected lessons—what to hold on to, when to let go, and who she must truly bring back to life.

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Middle Grade
Rating – PG-13
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Connect with Craig Staufenberg through Facebook and Twitter

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Pendelton Wallace on Books He Loved When He Was Growing Up #AmWriting #AmReading #Thriller

at 10:30 AM 0 comments
What writing are you most proud of?
I think that I am growing and improving as a writer with everything I write. I think that Hacker for Hire is my best work yet, but I’m the most proud of Blue Water & Me, Tall Tales of Adventures With My Father.
Blue Water is a tribute to my father and it may not be as polished as my later works, but it will probably always be my favorite.
What are you most proud of in your personal life? 
My daughters. They have grown into fine young women. They are strong, brave and independent, just like their mother.
What books did you love growing up? 
Edgar Rice Burroughs. The Mars series, Tarzan of the Apes. Much of my writing today is influenced by his style.
I also loved Jules Verne and H.G. Wells.
Who is your favorite author? 
Larry McMurtry. He is fantastic. I think Gus McRae is the greatest single character in American Literature. I envy Larrty’s  ability and only wish I could write like him.
What book genre of books do you adore? 
My favorites are thrillers. However, I love good historical fiction as well. The Aubrey-Maturin series by Patrick O’Brien and the Sharpe series by Bernard Cornwell are my favorites.
What book should everybody read at least once? 
Lonesome Dove. It’s my absolute favorite.
Is there any book you really don’t enjoy? 
I hate to be a wet blanket and I don’t want to disparage any other authors, but I really didn’t enjoy Fifty Shades of Grey. The story just didn’t interest me. I couldn’t understand why she would willingly submit herself to such abuse.
What do you hope your obituary will say about you? 
That’s tough. How about that he entertained a lot of people? That he influenced a lot of peoples’ lives.
Location and life experiences can really influence writing, tell us where you grew up and 
where you now live? 
I was born on San Juan Island in Washington State, just a few hundred yards from the Canadian border. I spent a few years in Southern California, then we moved to Oregon. I grew up in the Eugene/Springfield area of the Willamette Valley.
I moved to Seattle when I was 27. I now live on my boat. We are currently in La Paz, Mexico, but will be returning to San Diego shortly. Where will we go after that? Maybe Panama. Maybe the US Virgin Islands. Perhaps the Florida Keys. I really don’t know yet.
How did you develop your writing? 
By making every mistake in the book. I knew instinctively that I was a literary genius. I sat down and started writing. When I had finished my masterpiece, I hired a good editor, just on the off-chance that I missed something.
She tore me to pieces. Actually, she tore my book to pieces. After I nursed my wounds and got over the sting, I cut more than a hundred pages from my manuscript and started over. Her second pass through the manuscript was a much more pleasant process.
I also joined a writers group. It took me several tries to find the right group, but eventually I ended up with a group of writers who were better than me. By working with them every other week, I gradually improved my writing.
Where do you get your inspiration from? 
The headlines. Read the newspaper. I could never make up stories as bizarre as I see in the news every day.

If Clive Cussler had written Ugly Betty, it would be Hacker for Hire. 

Hacker for Hire, a suspense novel about corporate greed and industrial espionage, is the second book in a series about Latino computer security analyst Ted Higuera and his best friend, para-legal Chris Hardwick. 

The goofy, off-beat Ted Higuera, son of Mexican immigrants, grew up in East LA. An unlikely football scholarship brought him to Seattle. 

Chris, Ted’s college roommate, grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth. His father is the head of one of Seattle’s most prestigious law firms. 

Ted’s first job out of college leads him into the world of organized crime where he faces a brutal beating. After being rescued by beautiful private investigator Catrina Flaherty, Ted decides to go to work for her. 

Catrina is hired by a large computer corporation to find a leak in their corporate boardroom when the previous consultant is found floating in Elliot Bay. 

Ted discovers that Chris’s firm has been retained by their prime suspect. Now he and Chris are working opposite sides of the same case. 

Ted and Catrina are led deep into Seattle’s Hi-Tech world as they stalk the killer. But the killer is also hunting them. Can Ted find the killer before the killer finds him? 
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Mystery, Thriller
Rating – R
More details about the author
Connect with Pendelton Wallace on Facebook

Thursday, September 18, 2014

What You Didn't Know About Saga of the Nine: #Area38 by Mikey DB @mikeydbii #Thriller #AmReading

at 11:00 AM 0 comments
Ten things you didn’t know about Saga of the Nine: Area 38

1) It was originally going to be a musical.  The album that inspired it, This is War by 30 Seconds to Mars, was intended not only as the frame work of the story, but the bulk of the songs as well.  I thought about seeking out Jared Leto’s help/permission to use his music and possibly add more, but things ended up turning a different direction.  It really came down to the fact that I didn’t think a musical would do the story justice.  I still listened to the album probably a couple hundred times while writing it, but the story is much different now than the original musical.

2) Mica and the USA Division were inspired by a date I took a girl on.  My date and I doubled with my roommate and his date, each got some masquerade masks, and then went to dinner at a fancy restaurant while we wore them.  Like I said, bizarre, but hey, something worked because my date that night is now my wife.

3) Area 38 is actually a reference to the 38th state of the United States of America.

4) The opening setting was inspired by the cold winter mornings in Utah.  I’ve been working the six am shift for as long as I can remember, and one of the joys about having to wake up so early in order to get to work on time, is it’s around the time that the sun rises.  The fog that covered the fields outside the industrial park were some of the most beautiful mornings I’ve seen.

5) Benedict Cumberbatch, the actor who played Sherlock Holmes in BBC’s Sherlock, is the person I pictured as I wrote and fine tuned Christopher Stone, the sadistic Area Leader of Area 38.  If he reads this, I hope he doesn’t get offended.  The way he talks in Star Trek: Into Darkness as Kahn is exactly how I imagine Christopher saying his lines.

6) I wrote the entire novel on the floor of my 500 square foot apartment--right at the foot of my bed.  I could only right for a few hours at a time though.  Any longer than three and my butt and legs would begin to go numb.

7) Saga of the Nine: Area 38 is actually a hybrid.  The entire plot began as two different stories.  Both of them were going nowhere, and one day I had the epiphany to combine the two.

8) Most, if not all, of my research for Area 38 came from listening to history podcasts I would listen to at my day job in the warehouse.

9) The flag on the cover was the brain child of my cousin, the cover designer.  The entire premise is that anything that is evil and corrupt usually isn’t original.  Evil simply takes originality and tweaks it.  That’s what the Nine did with the U.S. flag.

10) The foreign language in the novel is based off of Tahitian, which I picked up on my LDS mission in French Polynesia.

Saga of the Nine

Change affects everyone and it is no different for Jackson. Living in Area 38 for as long as he can remember, he knows of no better way to exist than under the tyrannical rule of Christopher Stone, son of Stewart Stone from The Nine of The United Governmental Areas, aka The UGA. This all takes a dramatic turn when Jackson finds a red, metal box buried in his yard, filled with illegal artifacts—journals, a Bible, CDs, etc.—that are from a man of whom he has no recollection of: Mica Rouge.

 The year is 2036 and Mica, unlike Jackson, does know of a better way of life but is torn apart as he sees his country, The United States of America, crumbling from within by group known as The Political Mafia. The Mafia has infiltrated levels upon levels of governmental resources and it is up to Mica and a vigilante group known as The USA Division to stop them and their dark Utopian vision. To their demise, and at the country's expense, The Division fails and has no choice but to watch The Constitution dissolve and transform into The UGA.

In a final stand, having not given up hope, Mica and what is left of The Division, give one final fight in Colorado, or better known as Area 38. However, all is lost as The Division is betrayed by one of their own, Stewart Stone. Mica is left with no choice but to hide in exile, leaving what little history he can of himself and the great United States of America, with his wife, long time friends, and newly born son in hopes that they will one day finish what he could not.

Jackson, having found this legacy twenty-seven years later, decides to start the war that will end The Nine, and he with an outcast group known as The Raiders, begins his fight with Christopher Stone in Area 38. Filled with betrayal, unity, despair, hope, hate and love Area 38 follows both Mica and Jackson in their attempts to restore what they believe to be true freedom, and where one fails, the other rises to the seemingly impossible challenge.

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Dystopian Thriller
Rating – PG13
More details about the author
Connect with Mikey D. B. on Facebook & Twitter

Saturday, September 13, 2014

@KirstenArcadio on Quantum Tectonic Events & Split Reality? #AmReading #GoodReads #Thriller

at 11:30 AM 0 comments
What if a quantum tectonic event split our reality?

So that different versions of ourselves appeared from an alternate universe, to show us what our lives could have been had we made different choices, or what we might become, should we change our behaviour right now?

As Werner Heisenberg said,

‘Atoms or elementary particles themselves are not real; they form a world of potentialities or possibilities rather than one of things or facts.’

What if our lives were made up of infinite possibilities, all of which were happening simultaneously, until the observer – you – decided to pin one down? One choice, one life.

In my latest novel, Split Symmetry, I explore all of these questions – and more – against the exciting backdrop of a mysterious Italian mountain range. Find out what happens when Dr Elena Lewis and a group of her friends become embroiled in the worst earthquake the region has known mixed up with a quantum event that changes their lives for ever.

How do they escape? Can Elena save her friends? Can she save herself? And when she crosses into a reality she cannot conceive of, what does she make of it?

Set in the near future, Split Symmetry [] is the story of what happens when a hike in the notorious Gran Sasso mountain range in central Italy descends into chaos on the same night that scientists decide to work on a clandestine experiment in a lab beneath the mountain. Dr Elena Lewis must work around the clock to find members of her group who have become lost on the mountain, but just as she is close to finding them, the region is rocked by one of the worst earthquakes central Italy has ever known.

Author bio:

Kirsten Arcadio has written three novels, each with a different speculative theme. Her first novel, Borderliners, was published in February of this year with the second in the series, Split Symmetry, to be published in July. The third, WorldCult, is due out just before Christmas. She’s also a part-time poet, digital communications nerd and frazzled head of an Anglo-Italian family.

After working for over fifteen years in digital communications, she returned to her twin first loves, literature and philosophy, in 2011. She’s passionate about the big questions in life and how these can be explored using speculative fiction.

When she’s not writing she’s obsessing about Sci Fi or Nordic noir. She loves all things Italian, including her husband, and she once taught English in the Italian senate.


Split Symmetry

Lost meets The Poseidon Adventure with a hint of Sliding Doors!

It's 2015 in the notorious Gran Sasso mountain range of central Italy.
Quantum physicists in a lab beneath the ground begin an illegal experiment. 
A landslide hits and a hiking group is stranded. 

Every decision, every step of the way...changes reality. 

Book #2 of the best-selling Borderliners series, this other-worldly adventure will keep you turning the pages to the very end!

'A novel about what it is to survive and endure, what defines us, how it is to be ruled by fear, to be a slave to the terror of nature and what it feels like to love.' Five star customer review. 

Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords
Genre - Speculative thriller
Rating – PG
More details about the author
Connect with Kirsten Arcadio through Facebook & Twitter

INSIDE/OUTSIDE #Excerpt by @JennyHayworth1 #AmReading #Memoir #NonFiction

at 10:30 AM 0 comments
In 2004 I had commenced studying for my bachelor of nursing degree at university. I completed nine units over a twelve-month period and then decided it was not for me. When considering other careers, I decided to transfer to social work as I was allowed to do eight subjects of another discipline as part of the degree, so I wouldn’t have wasted a year of study. However, the university had closed the midyear intake, and I did not wish to wait until March the following year to commence studying. I looked at psychology and transferred my nine subjects over to that degree and commenced straightaway. I was living in a small town and working part time at the local hospital as well as studying.
I read an advertisement in the local paper asking for volunteers. I had not forgotten in the past years how many times the Lifeline counsellors had been there for me in my darkest hours, and I was determined to give back for all I had taken. It was an inner force driving me. I had always known, from the first time I had been encouraged by the mental-health support nurse to enrol and do the course, that I would return one day and work on the phones. Now, looking at the advertisement in the paper, I decided it was time.
I applied to do the telephone-counselling course and was accepted. During the following three months, I completed 120 hours of role play education and learnt the art of reflective listening. My journey of personal growth at that time was extraordinary. Once again I felt in awe of this agency, set up to help normal, everyday people help other everyday people in distress. I loved the fact that it didn’t matter what faith or belief you had; as long as you agreed with the foundation principles, you could be trained to be a telephone counsellor.
I completed the course and loved every minute of it. I found much of it challenging, as we had to learn to listen actively and reflectively and support people who were suicidal, self-harming, or in dire need of a listening ear for all different reasons. People who had been victims of domestic violence or sexual assault, or who suffered from mental illnesses, came and spoke to us, which personally challenged any preconceptions and biases we might have held. I learnt so much from the role playing and having a group reflect back to me about how I performed. The feedback from others, on such things as tone of voice and my effectiveness in how I used each of the skills we needed to learn, was invaluable.
I learnt how I had to put aside my own experiences, background, and preconceptions even if I had experienced some of the issues that clients raised on the phone. I had to truly listen and be there with people, by their sides, as they poured out their personal pain. I learnt so much about myself and more importantly, about how to truly be with someone else who was going through personal crises or was in emotional pain.
I passed the course and was approved to move on to practical experience on the telephones. There were plenty of support people on hand to sit with me for as long as I required. I found that knowing what had helped me the most when I had been the one calling helped me now to a certain degree, but the most important thing was to be fully available emotionally to the person on the other end. The Egan method of counselling, which is the basis of Lifeline training, is a person-centred therapy. The tools they taught us in regard to how to listen and guide another actively through the maze of often-conflicting options and emotions were invaluable.
I encountered every situation you could think of in these few months. Most who were suicidal had attempted suicide before and been in hospital, or they felt suicidal and were in extreme emotional pain that they didn’t feel they could share with their families or friends. Some had actual suicidal plans, and yet something had made them ring instead of carrying through with them at that particular time.
Many were just plain lonely to the bone and had no one to listen to them or to talk with. I was surprised that just a hearing ear was what most people wished for. Nearly all who phoned had no trouble talking, and they let me know when they had talked enough, felt better and more able to cope, and could carry on.
Many people said they had told secrets they had kept for years—things they had done they were ashamed of and didn’t feel they could live with if anyone found out, conflicted emotions about partners and children and parents. They spoke about things they were scared to voice out loud to those around them but needed to be heard and to say. They needed to have a chance, in a safe place with a safe person they couldn’t see, to say the words and work out their own path in the telling.
Everyone had a story.
One particular night I went on my shift as usual. From the time the phone rang and I picked up the call, I knew I had a young woman on the line that was serious about taking her life.
“Hello, Lifeline. How can I help you?” I answered.
At first there was only silence. I sat quietly listening as I had been taught, and I could hear music in the background, and the soft sounds of someone breathing.
“It’s okay, take your time. I am right here when you want to start talking.”
I heard the sound of a deep intake of breath. Gulping, ragged sobs filled the earpiece of my phone, and the sound of someone trying to suck back in all the pain echoed in my ear. I could identify it was a female crying although no words had been spoken by her yet.
I allowed about fifteen more seconds to go by whilst I listened to her crying.
“You don’t have to start at the beginning. Sometimes it’s too hard to know where to start. It’s okay not to know,” I said. Sounds of more crying filled my ear, louder now and less controlled. It was the sort of crying that occurs when someone is absolutely bereft, exhausted, and in despair. The wailing was coming from the depths of someone’s soul, the sound of someone who had lost everything and had nothing remaining.
I allowed a few more seconds to go by until I heard a lull in the crying as the person struggled to get their breath. “I am right here with you. You are not alone,” I said. The wailing was less intense, and I could tell she was listening to me. “I can hear you are in enormous emotional pain. It is okay to cry. You’re not alone anymore.” I stayed quiet for a few seconds. “What is your name?”
“Karen.” Sobs started slowly building up intensity again.
“Karen, can you tell me what is happening for you right now? What made you pick up the phone and ring me tonight?”
“I just want to die. I just want to die.” The female voice wailed loud and high, frantic and nearly shouting. “I can’t do it anymore. It’s just too hard. I just want to die. I can’t take anymore. It’s too much. It’s all too much.”
I identified exhaustion, slurring, lack of hope, and the clink of what sounded like a glass. I pushed the “alert” button and, at the same time, dialled the number for my supervisor on the mobile phone I had next to me. I left the phone on the bench and kept talking.
“Where are you right now? Are you at home?” I asked.
“Where is home, Karen?”
“It doesn’t matter. I want to die. I just want to die.” Her voice rose again to a crescendo.
“Karen, have you been drinking?”
“Vodka. It is my favourite drink. I’ve nearly finished the bottle.” Her voice was slurring, and my concern elevated another notch as her ability to self-moderate and respond to reasoning would be compromised. Suddenly her voice slipped into the hushed sing-song tones of a little girl. It was so soft, and her words so slurred, I was finding it hard to pick up the meaning of what she was saying.
“I’m touching me. I’m touching me. Oh, there’s blood all over everywhere. I can taste it.”
Soft moaning filled the air. The strains of music in the background muffled her voice. “Daddy, Daddy. Oh, I am so turned on. Why are you doing this to me? Why?” Her moans changed to a high-pitched sob, and her gulp for breath filled my ear.
“Karen, are you cutting yourself?”
“Yes. There is blood everywhere. I am going to die. I want to die.”
“Karen, can you please put the knife or razor down whilst you are talking to me? Karen, have you put down what you are cutting yourself with? I need you to put it down whilst you talk to me.”
“Karen, I hear that you want to die. I believe you. But part of you picked up the phone and rang me tonight. Part of you must want to live, as you rang me tonight. I need to talk to that part of you that wants to live.”
“No, I want to die.” Her voice suddenly changed back to that of an adult. “All of me wants to die. I can’t take it anymore. My daughters will be better off with me dead. I’m no good to them. They should stay with their father all the time. They would be better off. I am useless to them.”
“I hear you say you believe your daughters will be better off with you dead. I hear you say you want to die.” I allowed a few seconds’ silence. Her breathing was noisy and raspy. “Why did you ring me tonight, Karen? Why did you ring me on the night you want to die?”
Her voice, interlaced with sobs, shouted down the phone at me. “Because I’m scared. I don’t want to be alone when I die. I want someone with me.” I waited a few seconds until her loud, frantic sobs started to die down.
“I hear you’re scared, Karen. Karen, if I could wave a magic wand and take all your emotional pain away, would you still want to die? If all the emotional pain was gone, would you still want to die?”
“No, but you can’t. No one can. I’ve tried. I’ve tried everything, and nothing works. This is going to work. It is all going to end tonight.”
“Tell me about your emotional pain, Karen. Tell me why it feels so bad.”
Everything else in the room and in my life ceased to exist except for her voice, her words, her story, and the phone against my ear. I tried to stay with her as she went to some dark places and took me with her.
She was currently separated and had two young daughters. They lived with her full time, but this weekend they were staying with their father. She said he was a good father, and her daughters enjoyed going. She sometimes spoke in a normal-sounding voice and then would switch to a voice that sounded like a little girl’s as she regressed in time and was living a reality back from when she was a child. She was drinking vodka as we spoke and sometimes masturbating. She kept on picking up the razor and cutting herself. She was in her bedroom with loud music playing whilst she was cutting the top of her leg deep down to her femoral artery.
She wanted to die.
She had made up her mind that it would happen this weekend, and her ex-husband would find her on the Monday morning after he had dropped their daughters at school and come around to drop off their gear. She was a victim of long and sustained childhood sexual abuse by her father. She kept drifting in and out of consciousness toward the end of the call. She was in an altered reality because of emotional pain, intoxication, and sedatives and was cutting and masturbating to try to alleviate some of her tension while stating she wanted to die. Her memories of childhood and adult emotional pain intermingled.
My supervisor had come in and had called the police in the caller’s area twice already. Unfortunately, as police had taken her suicidal to hospital some months previously, they were in no hurry to get to her. They were prioritising other calls, not realising the seriousness of the situation. This was not an unusual situation for us on the phones. Many police were escorts for the mentally ill and suicidal, taking them to hospital, and most had regulars in their areas that they got to know well. This sometimes made them act with less urgency.
However, my supervisor kept ringing and conveying to them that I was an experienced counsellor, and she trusted my instinct that this girl was actively attempting to suicide and would bleed to death if no one reached her soon. All my gut instinct was screaming out to me that this was so. I channelled all my energy and every fibre of my being down that phone to her; I was a hundred percent focused on trying to say the right words to convey to her to live and not to die, and that I was there for her.
I appealed to her as a fellow human being, through her daughters, through the young self she kept slipping into, that there was hope, there was a reason to live, there was a way out of this pain, there was a way to have the emotional pain stop and end without her having to die. She wanted the emotional pain to end, but that didn’t mean her life had to end. Her daughters would not be better off with her dead. When she didn’t have the emotional pain to deal with, she could be there for them. She could be the mother she wanted to be. She could build a new life once the pain was gone. She could trust people again.
I asked her what had happened this particular weekend that was the final straw that had made her decide to kill herself. She had received a bill in the mail that she said she could not pay. It was added to the other bills, and it was the breaking point for her.
It was all too much. She had no one to share her pain with or to support her through her marriage breakup, being a mother, or her own abuse memories that were flooding her now that she was on her own. She did not feel she could cope as an adult in this world any longer. She did not feel she could be an adequate parent and role model for her daughters when she could barely get out of bed each day. She didn’t want them to see her like this. She didn’t want to frighten them. She was starting to behave in ways she did not like. She felt they would be better off without her.
I tried to ask her what had helped her get through these times in the past, when she had previously been this distressed and suicidal. But it was nearly impossible to reason as an adult with her when her rationality was not in charge, and her younger, seemingly emotional self was in charge.
I therefore said that Karen the adult needed to look after Karen the child. Her child self didn’t need to be cut and hurt. Her child self didn’t need sexual stimulation when she was drunk and scared. Her child self needed the adult Karen who had rung Lifeline to put down the razor, put down the alcohol, and just let her sleep, let her lie down and rest, as she had been through enough.
She stopped talking, and I no longer knew if she was conscious. I just kept talking and talking, hoping she could hear me and hoping something I was saying in a calm, soothing, nonjudgmental voice was getting through to her.
The police arrived at the house; I could hear through the phone that they were breaking down the door. One of the police picked up the phone and started talking to me. He said she had cut down to the artery, and it looked like she had nicked it. There was blood everywhere. She was unconscious, but the paramedics had arrived, and they were taking her to the hospital.
I was so relieved.
He hung up the phone, and suddenly there was just silence where there had been intense energy and focus. All the energy just drained out of me, and I felt myself start to shake. She was alive. She was going to make it—for that night anyway. I prayed and hoped someone at the hospital would relate to her and help her. That she would find a doctor or therapist who could help her find a way out of the maze and trap she had found herself in with no hope.
On the way home, in the dark and quiet, I suddenly had to pull my car over. I thanked the whole universe for letting me be the one to sit with Karen during her pain, for the police and paramedics who had gone to her assistance, and for the doctors and nurses who would be attending to her. I had intensely related to her. I understood her switching between her child self and adult self. I understood her use of masturbation and alcohol to try to alleviate the intense aloneness and emotional pain. I understood the cutting and thumping music for the same reasons.
Then I just sat in the dark, in the stillness and the silence, and with my whole heart wished and prayed she would find a way in the coming weeks and months through her emotional pain so she could find a reason to live again and be wholly there for her daughters as she grew older. As people had been there for me when I was at my lowest.
I felt something click together in my head and heart. It was a physical sensation and a feeling of completeness that washed over me. Something closed up in me that I had not realised until then had still been open. A feeling of fullness and wholeness filled me.
I prayed to the universe to watch over the young woman, and in my mind’s eye I handed over the responsibility for her healing and destiny to the universe. I trusted that her journey and mine had collided for a reason, but that reason was completed now. I let go of her figurative hand. I felt the anxiety connected to what might have been happening with her leave me.
I started the car again and drove home. I felt deep within my bones that I had fulfilled a karmic debt, and the circle was complete.
I was released.

***Award winning book (finalist) in 2014 Beverley Hills International Book Awards***
Jenny Hayworth grew up within the construct of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, which she describes as a fundamentalist cult-like religion. She devoted her life to it for over thirty years. Then she left it. The church “unfellowshipped” her-rendering her dead to those family and friends still committed to the church.Hayworth is a sexual abuse survivor. The trauma changed her self-perception, emotional development, trust, and every interaction with the world.
Inside/Outside is her exploration of sexual abuse, religious fundamentalism, and recovery. Her childhood circumstances and tragedies forced her to live “inside.” This memoir chronicles her journey from experiencing comfort and emotional satisfaction only within her fantasy world to developing the ability to feel and express real life emotion on the “outside.”
It is a story that begins with tragic multigenerational abuse, within an oppressive society, and ends with hope and rebirth into a life where she experiences real connections and satisfaction with the outside world.
Those who have ever felt trapped by trauma or circumstances will find Inside/Outside a dramatic reassurance that they are not alone in the world, and they have the ability to have a fulfilling life, both inside and out.
Foreward Clarion Review – “What keeps the pages of Hayworth’s life story turning is her honesty, tenacity, and sheer will to survive through an astounding number of setbacks. Inside/Outside proves the resilience of the human spirit and shows that the cycle of abuse can indeed be broken”
Kirkus Review – “A harrowing memoir of one woman’s struggle to cope with sexual abuse and depression while living in – and eventually leaving – the Jehovah’s Witnesses”
Readers Favourite 5 Star Review – “The book is an inspiring story for those who are going through traumatic times…”
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Genre – Memoir
Rating – PG-13
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James Rada Jr. on Developing His Writing & Making Money @JimRada #AmReading #Historical

at 9:00 AM 0 comments
How did you develop your writing?
My first short stories were primarily horror. I had about three dozen stories published before my tastes started shifting to YA and thriller. Then I moved to historical novels and eventually added non-fiction history. Now I’m starting to go back and dabble with thrillers and YA.
What is hardest – getting published, writing or marketing?
For me, the hardest part is the marketing. That’s not to say that getting published and writing the book is easy. It’s just that I’m naturally an introvert so going out and pushing my works just feels wrong to me. It feels like I’m bragging and I was raised not to do that. It’s a necessary evil, though. So I continue to move outside of my comfort zone and learn how to market myself. I feel like I’m getting better at it, but it’s a slow process.
Do you find it hard to share your work?
I like to talk about my stories and history because I find the stories interesting. However, if I am sharing my work in the hopes that someone will buy it, I start to get uncomfortable. Same book. Same topic. In my mind, though, when the goal is a sale something changes. I try and keep myself focused on talking about the story without worrying about whether it ends in a sale or not.
Do you plan to publish more books?
I’ve already published seven non-fiction books, five historical novels, one thriller and one YA books. Most of these have been self-published and I plan on doing more. In fact, I plan on exploring some other genres. I will probably write them under pen names, though.
What else do you do to make money, other than write? It is rare today for writers to be full time.
I am a full-time freelance writer. Besides books, I write articles, newspaper columns, press releases and advertising copy. I will also do editing and talks. Finally, I teach writing courses at a couple community colleges. It keeps me very busy and at times, my life is quite crazy.
What other jobs have you had in your life?
When I was in high school I worked as a cashier at a pharmacy and a kennel worker at a veterinarian. In college, I worked as a personal trainer at a fitness center. After college, I was the manager of a K-Mart shoe department. Then I worked as a marketing writing for a biotech company and moved on to be a reporter and editor for various newspapers.
If you could study any subject at university what would you pick?
I would probably study history with a minor in creative writing. I sometimes consider going back and getting my master’s degree, but after having been a professional writer for 26 years, I’m not sure if it would be worth. I would probably do it, though, if it wasn’t so expensive.
If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
I don’t know if I could name one specific area. I like a lot of places that I have visited for different reasons so it’s hard to say this is the perfect place for me. I know that I wouldn’t want to live in a big city, but I would still like to be within an hour’s commute of one to take advantage of some of the opportunities there. I live in a very historic area now, which I enjoy. I would probably want to continue that. I would also probably like a place without harsh or very cold winters.
Tell us about your family?
I have a wife and two sons. I’ve been married for 24 years. My wife works as a medical technologist. One of my sons just graduated and wants to join the military. My other son is in middle school and says he wants to be an engineer. I am the only one who has the writing bug, though my youngest son likes to read.
The Civil War split the United States and now it has split the Fitzgerald Family. Although George Fitzgerald has returned from the war, his sister Elizabeth Fitzgerald has chosen to remain in Washington to volunteer as a nurse. The ex-Confederate spy, David Windover, has given up on his dream of being with Alice Fitzgerald and is trying to move on with his life in Cumberland, Md. Alice and her sons continue to haul coal along the 184.5-mile-long C&O Canal. It is dangerous work, though, during war time because the canal runs along the Potomac River and between the North and South. 

Having had to endured death and loss already, Alice wonders whether remaining on the canal is worth the cost. She wants her family reunited and safe, but she can’t reconcile her feelings between David and her dead husband. Her adopted son, Tony, has his own questions that he is trying to answer. He wants to know who he is and if his birth mother ever loved him. As he tries to find out more about his birth mother and father, he stumbles onto a plan by Confederate sympathizers to sabotage the canal and burn dozens of canal boats. 

He enlists David’s help to try and disrupt the plot before it endangers his new family, but first they will have find out who is behind the plot.
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Genre – Historical Fiction
Rating – PG-13
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