Tag Archives: Memoir

Here I Stand… by Jillian Bullock

A few days ago I had the pleasure of talking with Jillian Bullock, author of the captivating, Here I Stand. I’ve had the pleasure of reading her memoir and would like to share my thoughts…

REVIEW:

Jillian Bullock never had a conventional home or family. Her mother was black and the only father she ever knew was white, and a member of the mob. Or was he? Jillian saw things no little girl should ever have to see. Things that gave her nightmares. Things that gave her an ulcer. Things that made her question every detail of her life and what she believed to be true.

She lost people she loved, people she loved changed without warning or reason she understood, and she was hurt and traumatized by others she loved and thought loved her back. She went from not knowing whom to trust, to not trusting anyone. At fifteen, through no fault of her own, she was forced to live on the street where she ate out of dumpsters and stood in line for one of only twenty beds each night, sleeping on a park bench when she didn’t get a bed. She fought off the cold, hunger, sexual advances, and her own depression.

When it became impossible to survive on the street, she did what so many young runaways do – she turned to prostitution. She learned how to turn off her emotions, detach her mind from her body. She swayed between determination for a better life and giving up. She had mastered Tae Kwon Do and if not for that ability, may very well have ended up dead on several occasions.

Jillian Bullock was damaged. Emotionally and physically damaged. But, from somewhere deep inside of her, a place her stepfather saw, she pulled out the drive, determination, resiliency, and grit needed to break free from a life forced upon her and become the person she was meant to be. The obstacles in her young life might have been insurmountable to many. Truth be told, I doubt I could have survived as she did.

Even when she believes she has lost hope in her dreams, from a spark within, she rebuilds a life that seemed all but lost. Jillian writes with candor, raw emotion, hope, despair, and a confidence that even she loses sight of a time or two. Jillian shares her accomplishments, her losses, her pain, her feelings toward those close to her, and her own transgressions in a strong, unshakable voice able to pull emotion from the most detached reader.

From within the embrace of a loving family, to a world feared by many, through her own strength and diligence, Jillian Bullock rises above.

The writing was wonderful. I could not put it down. I applaud Jillian first, for turning struggle into success and second, for having the gumption and courage to share her story in a clear and objective voice. I believe that anyone who might be feeling helpless or hopeless or at their end would benefit greatly from reading this story.

Here I Stand is a lesson in perseverance, hope, and redemption.

WIN_20160120_10_07_38_Pro

Here I Stand – 5 stars


Jillian Bullock

I was recently approached by Jillian Bullock regarding her memoir, Here I Stand. She asked me if I’d be willing to read and review it for her. With my recent increase in editing jobs, I almost declined. But, I checked it out on Amazon (it looked interesting) and I agreed. I almost missed out on one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read and I wouldn’t have learned just how multi-talented Jillian is.

I am going to post my review of Here I Stand on Thursday of this week (don’t miss it), but for today, I was able to chat with Jillian.

IDI – Jillian, wow! If I had to use only one word to describe Here I Stand, I don’t know what it would be. Raw comes to mind. I’ve read so many memoirs that embellish, sensationalize, but even more, are selective in which stories to tell. What I liked most about your book is your absolute candor, even when the incident or story being told didn’t reflect favorably on you. I don’t want to give anything away for those who many not have read it, but will say, it was worth every minute spent reading.

A little about you. When did you know you were born to be a writer?

Jillian Bullock

Jillian Bullock

JB – Thank you very much. As for when I knew, I was in grade school and I won a short story contest. It validated my writing at such a young age.  I won $25. I was a paid writer. Yeah!

IDI – How has your writing evolved from when you began as a writer to now?

JB – Much growth. For some years, I had stopped reading novels because I was so focused on my writing as a screenwriter. But within the past two years, I have buckled down and started reading tons of books on everything, mainly novels. I’ve also started back to college recently to obtain a master’s degree in English.  This year I completed my first novel through discipline of writing six to eight hours a day. A few years ago, I never would have been able to do that. I didn’t have the focus or discipline, and I had a lot of stress in my life that hindered my writing.

IDI – I can relate to the lack of focus and discipline. Stress is my nemesis, also.

How long does it generally take you to write a book, from the spark of an idea to the finished product?

JB – To write my memoir, Here I Stand, that was published in 2012, it took me six years from start to publishing. For my novel, Sunny Days, Bloody Nights, that I completed in 2015, it took me two months. I participated in the National Novel Writing Month Contest. For November 1-30, 2015 writers are challenged to write at least 50,000 words of their novel. In 30 days, I wrote 52,3000 words. By the end of December 2015, I had written 70,000 words.

IDI – What are you working on now? Can we get a peek, an excerpt maybe to tickle our taste buds?

JB – My first novel, Sunny Days, Bloody Nights, is a crime thriller. I will start the editing and revision phase in a month.

An excerpt from the book –

With the intense sun beating down and the sound of church bells ringing, Jennifer Tigger immediately grabbed her head with her left hand and squinted her eyes trying her best to focus. When she pulled her hand away, she noticed dry blood. Jennifer looked down at her right hand and saw a bloody butcher knife. Disoriented, Jennifer squinted her eyes tighter as the church bells grew louder and the hammering inside her head made her feel like plunging that knife in her head to relieve so such pain. Migraines plagued Jennifer since she was in college. When she got them, she couldn’t function well at all; completely debilitating.
             As Jennifer groaned in agony trying to make sense of where she was and why she had a bloody knife in her hand, she stumbled forward and tripped over a man’s dead body that had blood on his shirt and a gaping knife wound in his chest.  What the hell? Jennifer thought.

IDI – Aside from the book you’re working on, what other projects do you have in the works?

JB – I am in pre-production on a movie titled A Sense of Purpose: Fighting For Our Lives, which deals with the military and post-traumatic stress disorder. I wrote the screenplay and will direct in the fall of 2016.

A sense of purpose movie poster

A Sense of Purpose: Fighting For Our Lives

IDI – That’s quite a schedule and work load.

What is the kindest comment/compliment you have ever received from a fan regarding your work?

JB – One fan told me she had been going through a difficult time and was depressed. She said after reading my memoir, Here I Stand, it saved her life. To know my words and my life story touched someone so profoundly was amazing.

IDI – What works for you? Give us a rundown of your ‘writing process’ from beginning to finished product.

JB – For my novel, I had to do tons of research first since the main character, Jennifer Tigger, is a forensic and criminal psychologist, who is also a recovering drug and sex addict. Then I did the outline of the book and detailed descriptions of the main characters. I had a few different endings in mind, so I wrote those down. Then I started writing. I tried not to edit while I wrote, but sometimes that was difficult when the paragraph didn’t make much sense.  Once I hit 70,000 words and had a book I was happy with, I handed the book off to my best friend, Delayne Powe, who has read hundreds of novels, especially crime novels. She knows what sounds right and what rings false. Once she gave me the okay to keep going, I finished the novel at 85,000 words. In January 2016, I will start the editing and revision process. Once I finish this step, it will be time to hand the book off to a professional editor. Revisions, revisions and more revisions.  With Here I Stand, I self-published. With Sunny Days, Bloody Nights, I plan to go with traditional publishing.

IDI – Favorite author, and why?

JB – I love many different authors, but Dennis Lehane is my favorite. The way he writes each book I am consumed by the characters. His writing pulls me in and I don’t want to stop reading. His writing is fresh, crisp, exciting, colorful, and vivid. Being a screenwriter and filmmaker, I can visualize his books as movies.

IDI – Can you tell us three interesting things about you that you’re sure we don’t already know?

JB – Yes.

  • I am a former competitive martial artist and boxer, who holds two black belts – one in Wing Chun and the other in Tae Kwon Do. I currently train in mixed martial arts, so usually my protagonist in my writings do train in MMA.
  • When I was in college, I was a reporter for the Wall Street Journal newspaper.
  • Since 2006, I have been a screenwriting judge for the Set in Philadelphia Screenwriting Contest, which is sponsored annually by the Greater Philadelphia Film Office.

IDI – Jillian, why do you write?

HERE I STAND COVER

Here I Stand

JB – It helps to clear my head of everything. I get lost in another world and it’s an amazing feeling knowing I’m creating something that hopefully will bring great joy to others.

IDI – Last question. What are you plans for the next two years?

JB – Well,

  • To complete my novel Sunny Days, Bloody Nights and to get an agent and a publishing deal.

  • To complete filming of my independent movie, A Sense of Purpose: Fighting For Our Lives, hit the film festivals, and get a distribution deal. Then go into production on my next project – Listen To What The Dead Are Saying.

  • To self-publish my first fitness book titled – Fitness Between The Sheets.

  • To get a major studio to greenlight my memoir Here I Stand and to attach the “right” producer or director to come on board with me as the screenwriter and a co-producer. I have had offers from a few producers who wanted to option or buy the rights to my life story, but I want to be involved in the process and not just hand over my story. So, I have to be patient and find the right fit.

IDI – You are one busy woman! Jillian, thank you for talking with me and sharing your story. It’s one book that has left an indelible mark on me. I wish you all of the luck and success in the world. Somehow, I believe you will leave your mark on many people. Please keep me updated as to the completion of your new projects.

JB – Thank you for having me and I certainly will.

You can learn more about Jillian and her work at the links below and don’t forget, this Thursday you can read my review of Here I Stand, the mesmerizing memoir by Jillian.
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/jillian.bullock.5
Twitter –  https://twitter.com/JillianBullock
Website – www.jillianbullockwriter.com
Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Here-I-Stand-Jillian-Bullock/dp/0741470497

 

k.e.garvey (formerly known as Kathy Reinhart) is the award-winning author of Lily White LiesThe Red Strokes, and Missouri in a Suitcase, (the latter written under the pen name Nova Scott)

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Support An Author


Eric Mondschein

A couple of months ago I had the pleasure of reviewing Dr. Eric Mondschein’s memoir, Life at 12 College Road. Today, I have the pleasure of speaking with him.

IDI – Eric, I can’t tell you how happy I am to have you join me here today. For those who may have missed the review, Life at 12 College Road is a book of vignettes, stories from your childhood. Not only was it well-written, but your stories reminded me of my own childhood, an era gone by. I also want to mention that your book is still holding a 4.9 rating on Amazon. Impressive.

Eric, when did you know you were  meant to be a writer?

Life at 12 College Road

Life at 12 College Road

EM – That is an intriguing question and one I have thought about. Unfortunately, I don’t think I have ever experienced a “Eureka moment” about writing or anything else for that matter. But I do know it was in my first year as a college student at Wesley College in Professor William A. Hughes creative writing and English Literature classes that I found that I was interested in writing. He urged me to write. At the time it was poetry, but that is where the seed was planted. But at the time I chose a different path and it would be many years before I returned to writing as he had warned me would happen. He is gone now, but I am sure he knows I finally took his advice.

I also want to say that no one makes me write. In the professional positions I’ve held over the years, I have been required to file reports, write memoranda, even treatises, but I was never required to publish law-related articles, write poetry, or, of course, author Life at 12 College Road. But I certainly did not write because I had nothing better to do. The time spent away from family and the activities that were sacrificed along the way attest to that. It was more often a feeling of being compelled to write. Not for others, although most writers do want people to read their work, but to feed a need or a desire coming from within. I’ve felt particularly driven to write about my experiences growing up. The writing is not really so much about me as it is about those feelings and emotions—joy, happiness, sadness, anger, fear, even loss—that each of us, in our own way, inevitably encounter.

Through this writing experience, I have also come to recognize that even in the solitude of writing, we are not really alone. Our memories of loved ones; friends, and those we admire are always with us. Some are nearer to the surface of sentience than others, but they are there nonetheless.

And if we are really willing to listen, they have much to offer.

That might of have been more than you wanted to know by your question, but that is where it led me.

IDI – I want what’s in you to say. For the record, I’d prefer a long, comprehensible answer than one-line that tells the reader nothing.

How did you come up with the idea for Life at 12 College Road?

EM – That is a good question because I actually had not intended to write this book at all.  I was on a mission to write an action/adventure thriller and was attending a writer’s retreat in Maine several years ago to do just that. But I wasn’t getting anywhere with it, so I decided to take a short nap. As fate would have it, the idea for Life at 12 College Road came to me while I was dreaming, or perhaps during that period of time just before awakening.

I recalled sitting at the dining room table where I had shared Sunday dinners with my family growing up. As I sat at the table, I realized the other three chairs had been tilted forward so that their ladder-backs rested against it. They were obviously no longer of use. And it was then that I remembered what had been bothering me: I was alone. You see, my mom, dad, and younger brother have all passed on without me. They are exploring new worlds and I have been left behind. Heck, even my dog is gone.

It was that realization, those memories, which provided the impetus for me to put my novel on the shelf and write Life at 12 College Road. The book is a collection of thirty-three “real life” short stories that, when taken as a whole, paint a mosaic of a time and place both familiar and distant. Although they fit together, each piece of the mosaic can be viewed and enjoyed on its own, and each provides a different glimpse into the world of growing up in 1950s and 1960s America.

In time, I may get back to the novel, as every once in while I think I hear the characters trying to talk to me.

IDI – What are you working on now? Can we get a peek?

EM – I would like to tell you that after I finished writing Life at 12 College Road I picked up where I had left off with the thriller. But that is not the case. I am now co-authoring a monograph and teaching supplement that is being published by the Education Law Association (ELA) with a colleague and friend, Ellery (Rick) Miller Jr., on the subject of sexual harassment and bullying. It’s called Sexual Harassment and Bullying: Similar, but not the Same, and will be available in November of this year. The monograph explores the current legal developments in the areas of sexual harassment and bullying K-12. It also examines strategies for developing and implementing policies and training to create an educational environment that allows each student to feel safe and secure, and to ensure a safe school environment conducive to learning. The Teaching Supplement is designed to provide the instructor with activities that will enhance students’ understanding of sexual harassment and bullying as they explore the legal issues involved, examine the concerns related to developing strategies and crafting and implementing policy to confront them. We both thought the issues of bullying and sexual harassment were too important to ignore and we wanted to provide not only teachers and administrators with information and activities to confront them, but also the entire community.  If people are interested the books will be available in November from the: Education Law Association Bookstore.

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(It is not your “regular or traditional Excerpt, but if interested here is an excerpt from Sexual Harassment and Bullying: Similar, but not the Same)

We all remember those school experiences when we were bullied. Often they are etched on our memories, a permanent scar of humiliation, of being defeated, of being embarrassed. Often we were told to get over it, ignore it, and turn the other cheek. We were told, “boys will be boys,” or “that’s just the way girls are.” It was part of the school experience, but in the great majority of incidents the results were not life-threatening and the physical injuries usually minor. Conversely, we might look back and consider with some chagrin and regret when we were the bully, picking on someone with less power, less popularity, or less status in the group. Incidents of bullying occurred, but in most schools they were the exception rather than the rule.

Today, bullying is occurring much more often and, with our new technologies, students are being bullied at school, on the bus, and in their homes. V-mail, e-mail, Twitter, and Facebook have become weapons used to humiliate and bully. Recently, bullying has received major attention in the national media as horrific stories of the results of ongoing bullying have surfaced. Sadly, some of these incidents have resulted in the deaths of young people. School systems are scrambling to develop appropriate policies and procedures. A number of states have passed bullying laws that either criminalize bullying incidents or provide prescriptions for school system enforcement.

As the focus on bullying has grown, attention to incidents of and concern about sexual harassment has diminished. It is easy to understand that sexual harassment can be a form of bullying, especially when it is used to intimidate, but it is also a form of discrimination prohibited by federal and state laws. It is not a new phenomenon, but its unacceptability is now ingrained in our laws and practices. Both girls and boys can be victims and/or predators. Since the 1980s, schools have been required to address issues of sexual harassment of students. Yet, after over twenty years, nearly half of seventh through twelfth-grade students in an American Association of University Women’s (AAUW) national study complained of being sexually harassed in 2010. The study indicated that students used rumors, gossip, groping, and/or physical assault to harass other students based on sex or their gender. Just under one-third of students self-identified as engaging in harassing behavior.

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Sexual Harassment and Bullying

Sexual Harassment and Bullying

Of course, when I am finished with this project I will have a discussion with the characters in my novel to see if it’s time to take them down from the shelf.

IDI – That sounds like something we can’t stress enough in our current times as it seems to be a growing issue within our schools.

Do you have a blog and if so, what type of posts would a visitor find on it?

EM – Yes I do have a blog and it can be found at: http://www.ericmondschein.com. There you will find my musings on current events, commentaries on issues of import, poetry, the outdoors, and even some of my recipes.  I have even included several of the short stories from my book. But if readers really want to know more about me they should read Life at 12 College Road.

IDI – Do you have a favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

EM – That is not an easy question to answer, but as you have put me on the spot, I would have to say Dean Koontz. He has a way with character development that makes them so human and alive. In many cases the main character is someone I would really enjoy meeting. Odd Thomas is one such character I would thoroughly enjoy hanging out with if it were possible. He is also is a phenomenal storyteller and his plots and dialogue bring every page to life. I find in many cases once I pick up a book of his I just can’t put it down until I have finished it. And I would be remiss if I did not state that he also knows how to scare the heck out of his readers.

IDI – I’ve asked this same question in the past and this is not the first time his name has been mentioned. I am almost embarrassed to say that with the many books I read, I don’t believe I have ever read one of his. I’ll have to change that!

How much time/effort do you put into social media as a means of self-promotion?

EM – Now that is a question I have been grappling with for a while now. Not just how much time and effort, but wondering often if it is worth it? Today we are working in a world of author-driven marketing. The days of sitting back and doing a book signing here and there are a thing of the past, if in fact that is all it ever really was.  These days I find myself beginning each day checking my mail and then going to Facebook, Twitter, BingBing, Google+, Pinterest, and LinkedIn making sure to post not only about my book, but also making sure I am heard from, sharing poems sharing writing tips, commenting on events if the day, but keeping my work and my name in the public domain. So I spend over an hour or more each day, seven days a week, reading and posting in the world of social media.  Have I sold books through social media? The answer would be yes, but more importantly I do know it has increased the number of visits to my website and that has helped sales as well. It is something today’s author just has to do.

IDI – We all know marketing lies (mostly) with the author. Aside from social media, what forms of marketing have you engaged in? Book fairs, signings, podcasts, et cetera… Have you found them beneficial?

EM – Besides the social media marketing efforts I have also participated in book fairs, book signings and readings at local bookstores, and I have spoken at book clubs, and at senior citizen writing group meetings. I must confess I have enjoyed these events very much and but for one, sold books at each event. I especially enjoy book readings where I can share my stories with people and it is also fun to mingle and get to know folks interested in not just my stories, but books in general during the social portion of these activities. I also believe it is important to support our independent bookstores as so many are closing around the country, and these bookstores and public libraries are more important to the life and health of local communities than they realize.

IDI – Every author has their own style/voice (if we’re doing our jobs right), but what author would you say your work most resembles?

EM – You do ask some tough questions. I have listened a lot to stories by Garrison Keillor and have always enjoyed his writing. And I was quite humbled when a review of my book was posted on Amazon.com suggesting that if you liked Garrison Keillor you would like my book. So I guess I would have to say my writing in a small way may resemble that of Garrison Keillor. Perhaps it’s more so because of the subject matter of the stories rather than the writing. My style however may be similar as I do try to write as if I am sitting in front a few close friends, and telling them a story. So I guess my writing style is one of storytelling. I want the reader to feel that I am talking to them and sharing something of value to me.

IDI – What is the best advice ever given to you, and by whom?

EM – As it relates to writing, the best advice was given to me by Professor Hughes, who I mentioned earlier, and that was to “read, read, read and then read some more.” Conversely, the advice I chose to ignore was that I probably should not try to write, and there is no need to mention who gave me that advice.

IDI – Even in an interview, you leave your reader wanting more! That’s okay, we don’t need to know who it was, just that they were wrong. 🙂

Do you have anything specific you would like to say to your readers?

EM – Without giving anything away, I would think that after reading the book one might come away wondering just how I could have survived. But as I wrote the book, and am now answering your questions, I am happy to report I survived.  The book is about growing up in suburban/rural New York in the 1950s and 1960s. The main character, as a young boy and teenager, is confronted with many of the issues and concerns of that time. I think, however, that many of the concerns, questions, problems, and conflicts I encountered will be familiar to just about anyone, at any age.

The tools and knowledge at our disposal may differ, but as human beings we all generally go through the same stages of growing up and discovering what is really important. In reflecting on my past, I found that it was not the earth-shattering events that were most significant to me. Rather, it was the small things; many long forgotten until recently, that deeply and indelibly touched me. Sure, some of the memories involve fire trucks, police cars, and hospital visits. But most do not. And if their retelling can help the reader to connect with similar moments from their own life, well, that to me is special.

IDI – Eric, I would like to thank you for appearing here with me today. After reading your memoir and speaking with you today, I almost feel as though I know you. I’m a fan for life! Best of luck with your  upcoming endeavors.

EM – It’s been my pleasure, Kathy

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Life at 12 College Road

  Life at 12 College Road is a collection of thirty-three “real life” short stories that, when taken as a whole, paint a mosaic of a time and place both familiar and distant. Although they fit together, each piece of the mosaic can be viewed and enjoyed on its own, and each provides a different glimpse into the world of growing up in 1950s and 60s America. The book differs significantly from most traditional memoirs in both content and form. Rather than relate the most newsworthy moments of his life in a linear, chronological narrative, Mondschein focuses instead on more intimate memories from his childhood life in rural New York in a series of colorful vignettes.

It’s not always the earth-shattering events that are most significant in our hectic lives. More often, it’s the small things, many long forgotten, that touches and shapes us most deeply. Our memories of these events might bring smiles, or anger, or even a desire to forget, but every one of them helps to make us who we are today—and in some ways, who we will become tomorrow. Join Eric Mondschein at the unhurried pace of a cup of coffee for a surprising and powerful journey in which laughter inevitably mingles with tears, sorrow turns to joy, and loss almost becomes bearable.

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Dr. Eric “Rick” Mondschein is an author and education consultant. He has taught law and education at the undergraduate and graduate levels of education. Having worked for the U.S. government in several capacities, he has published and edited numerous articles and books in various areas of law and education, and has written and managed numerous grants from the private and public sectors. Rick has also consulted on policy development and implementation, and conducted training for administrators, teachers, and school staff. He directed an award-winning, law-related education program for the New York State Bar Association from 1980 through 1994. In 1993, he was the recipient of the American Bar Association’s Isidore Starr Award for exemplary achievement in law-related education.

Eric Mondschein

Eric Mondschein

From 1995 to 2006, Rick advised the governing board of an international, non-governmental organization in Haifa, Israel, in the area of external affairs, including government relations and security. He provided analysis of human rights situations in select countries throughout the world in general, and in Iran and the Middle East in particular. He also served as the citizen representative of The Post Star editorial board, which won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing.

Rick is the author of Life at 12 College Road, published by Something or Other Publishing, which is a collection of short stories about growing up in America in the 1950s and 1960s.

He currently resides in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York with his wife, Ginny.

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Running In Heels… by Mary A. Perez

Synopsis:

More than a memoir—this book is a promise of hope for anyone who was abandoned as a child, to anyone who woke up hungry and went to bed hungrier every day, for every wife who has loved a husband who left bruises on her heart and on her body.

Running In Heels

Running In Heels

Somewhere between stealing cold cuts from stray cats and watching a stranger leave her mother’s bed after breaking in through their bedroom window, Mary figured out that her family was dirt poor. Worse than her empty stomach, she was hungry for acceptance and love. She thought she found it when her baby sister was born and she became her “mommy”, taking care of her needs as best she could at the age of seven. Then she had to say goodbye over a small white casket.
Mary’s grandparents, first generation immigrants from Puerto Rico, took her in and gave her a glimpse of faith and stability. For a brief, shining spell, she had a real home—until they decided that Mama needed her. They may have been right, but Mama needed more than a little girl could give and Mary lost her way again.
Just out of Juvy Hall, Mary found a knight in shining armor to take her away. She became a teenage bride to a man twice her age—a man as deeply enslaved to booze as every “step-dad” she’d had as a child. She loved him anyway, even wearing the bruises he gave her, even when she tried to leave him to give their children a better life. Despite her fear and loneliness, she never imagined it would take a gunshot in the middle of the night to teach her courage. She was even more surprised when rediscovered faith paved the path to forgiveness after so many years of pain.
Running in Heels is a memoir of the grit and grace that carried a young girl through the shadows of her mother’s choices and on through an abusive marriage. Mary A. Pérez narrates an incredible story of survival in the face of hopelessness, and learning to forgive against all odds.

A story of coming of age, and coming into grace.

Review:

I was recently asked to review a memoir by a woman I do not know personally. I had actually never heard of her before that initial contact and accepted a copy of her book in exchange for an honest review. Although I once turned away all requests for reviews – only reviewing books of my choosing – I have slowly begun to accept requests. I have come across a few good indie reads and a few not so good. Her book sounded interesting, so I agreed.

Running In Heels is not good because the reader will learn all the juicy tidbits they’ve come to expect from a celebrity autobiography. It’s not good because her story is unique or made national headlines and is in any way familiar to us. It’s good because (but for the grace of God) it could have been anyone’s story. It’s relateable. It’s emotional. It’s raw. And today, it’s something that happens far too often.

Mary takes us on a journey that begins with her early childhood and ends with present day, hitting all of the life-changing elements without adding the unnecessary tidbits that would bore a reader. In a candid delivery she shares what it’s like to grow up without food. What it’s like to grow up too fast. What it’s like to love and dislike a person at the same time. We feel her loss, we share her pain, and we root for her to rise above.

Told in first person, Mary recounts many of the most emotional, painful stories of her life. She calls out others (including family members) on their part in her pain, but she also shares her own faults and mistakes. She credits those who made her life sane.

Mary shows us how to love someone who is less-than-worthy, how to look past a person’s flaws to find their heart, and how to forgive those who have caused the most pain. She teaches us that even though you may be a damaged soul, there is life and light if you allow God to lead the way.

This is not a religious book, per say, although Mary’s faith is evident once she decides to follow. She shares many heart-breaking stories, but I think it was her happy-ending that stirred the most emotion in me.

There were a few slow spots, but there wasn’t one that took away from the read. Before I reached the point where I wanted to start skimming, the pace picked up and the story continued to move along at a steady tick.

I know that most recommendations for ‘great reads’ go to well-known authors while indie authors are challenged with getting their books into readers’ hands. I hope that if even in a small way, I can help Mary to do that. This was truly an enjoyable, well-told story and one I think many people would relate to. Highly recommended.

WIN_20160120_10_17_20_Pro

Running in Heels – 4.5 stars 

Books!

Lily White LiesThe Red StrokesMissouri in a Suitcase


Life at 12 College Road… by Eric Mondschein

Recently I was offered an opportunity as a principal with Something or Other Publishing. My position entails both pre-release book reviews and interviews with their authors at two points through their publishing journey.

Today, I had the opportunity to review a book by one of their already published authors, Eric Mondschein.

The book is titled Life at 12 College Road and is a memoir of vignettes, each a memory, a snippet in time of Eric’s childhood.

Life at 12 College Road

Life at 12 College Road

I wasn’t too far into the book when I began to imagine Eric sitting in an overstuffed chair, retelling his boyhood memories to grandchildren. His style is effortless. His use of first person narrative gives the work such a personal feel. The writing is honest and easy, no five-dollar words, no pretension, no theatrics.

But, what I took away from the read even more than the simplicity, were the stories themselves. Eric shares each step of what made him the man he is today through candid, humorous and sometimes sad memories. Within his vignettes, he shares his lesson of loss (Brownie), the observation of unconditional love (The Salad Bowl), subliminal but permanent change (Christmas Morning), sadness (Jonathan Thad), mischief (The Sitter). One story in particular offers a glimpse of the change from boy to man in the last line (Camping in the Backwoods). He covers sibling rivalry, adventure and the triumphs and tribulations of growing up.

*In order to preserve the read for those who have not had the pleasure, I refer only to the vignette titles without going into detail of the content.

While reading (The Car in the Driveway), I had flashbacks of my own childhood and some of the situations my brother, sister and I found ourselves in. Some of his stories are reminiscent of an old Huck Finn tale, humorous, but not without a lesson learned. This work speaks of a simpler time, a time long gone and sorely missed.

Although I think any age group would enjoy this book, I believe it holds special meaning to anyone who grew up in the same era. Life at 12 College Road is a Norman Rockwell painting in words.

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Life At 12 College Road – 5 stars

Kathy Reinhart is the award-winning author of Lily White Lies among other titles. Learn more about her and her work below.

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Christine Grote

Two weeks into the New Year… how many of you have bombed on your resolutions already? I’m not pointing fingers or condemning, as I have already failed (miserably, I might add). Resolutions are tough. They are always things we couldn’t bring ourselves to do during the year so it seems kind of silly that we talk ourselves into believing we can get them done simply because the last digit of the date has changed. But, the point I’m trying to make is, we plug along. Every year we go through the same motions, the same self-trickery, and why? Because deep down, we want to succeed.

Well, that is exactly what the authors I feature on Ink Drop Interviews are looking to do. Succeed. Writing is a tough business. There are many writers out there and there are many who write. I won’t go off on a tangent regarding the difference. There are people out there who will do a much better job than I will at teaching you the difference, among many other valuable lessons of writing. (I recommend Kristen Lamb, for one. She knows her stuff and is very generous in sharing what she knows).

The response to Ink Drop Interviews has been great. Even better than I had originally anticipated when I first began this blog. The one thing I would like LOVE, to see improve is the feedback. Many are reading the interviews, but few are leaving feedback. Your feedback is the support, or in some cases, the honesty the featured authors need. After all, we all think our writing is the greatest thing since the invention of the GPS, but when we hear the truth from a stranger (good or bad), someone who took a minute from their day to read about us and our work, that’s when we step into reality.

So, if you read the interview, please take that extra minute to leave your thoughts for the author. They appreciate it more than you know!

And now… let’s chat with Christine M. Grote, author of ‘Dancing in Heaven – a sisters memoir’.

IDI – Christine, I know that ‘Dancing in Heaven’ is about the life and death of your severely disabled sister. Why did you write it?

CG – Having a profoundly disabled sister had a profound effect on me. Annie was born a year after me with severe brain damage, although it wasn’t evident at first.When she got to be the age where she should have been sitting up and crawling, but wasn’t, my parents took her to the doctor. That eventually led to her diagnosis of severe brain damage, or cerebral palsy. She never outgrew the needs of an infant. I always knew I’d write about Annie, some day. When she died, I felt compelled to share her story. I didn’t want her story or the value of her existence to end with her. I wanted to give her a legacy. Annie never worked, never married, and never had children. So she didn’t have access to the ways most people have of making a lasting impression on this planet. But Annie touched a lot of people’s lives. She was like a shining star. I wanted her life to have mattered.

IDI – You’ve said where the idea for ‘Dancing in Heaven’ originated, but where do you get your ideas for other projects?

CG – I primarily write non-fiction, although lately I’ve been tempted to try my hand at fiction. I took a couple of fiction-writing classes in college a few years back, but mostly I still wrote non-fiction with the names and a few details changed. ‘Dancing in Heaven’ originated as a short story I wrote for one of the fiction classes. Because I write non-fiction I get my ideas from everyday life: what I see, read or know from experience. When my ideas come to me, they sometimes arrive in the middle of the night waking me, or while I am behind the steering wheel on an interstate from here to there. They are often compelling and insistent. Sometimes I think it is my ideas that are in control, and not me. When something I witness touches me, or moves me deeply, I often feel compelled to share it through the written word.

IDI – Pen and paper or computer and Word? The bustle of Barnes and Noble or the quiet of your study? Alone or within a writing group? Tell us, what is your most inspiring/productive setting?

CG – It’s interesting that when I first started to write seriously in my forties, I couldn’t write well at the keyboard but needed the feel of the pen in my hand to access my thoughts. Over time, I have found that now I can express myself directly on the computer. As I allude to in the book, I wrote a lot of ‘Dancing in Heaven’ in the early hours of the morning, here at my computer desk in our study where I sit as I type this interview. I don’t believe I could focus or write well in a group or noisy setting, although I have at times written in a coffee shop. I am most productive here at home with a hot pot of tea within easy access. I also like to print things out and edit or revise by hand at times, so being close to my printer is a big plus.

IDI – I’ve heard arguments for each side, but when writing, do you outline or sketch the entire book before you feel comfortable enough to begin your draft or do you prefer to fly by the seat of your pants?

CG – I am a messy writer. I jot ideas down on bits and pieces of paper as they come to me and shove them in my pocket. I write what is foremost on my mind, when it is there. Then I end up doing a lot of physical cutting and pasting and moving things around. This was especially true in ‘Dancing in Heaven’. I wrote each chapter in a journal fashion about the days leading up to Annie’s death. But for the second half of each chapter, I inserted a vignette or an essay about something that would flesh out the story of who Annie was, what she meant to us, and how our lives were affected by her. Then I threw photographs into the mix. So, I had little note cards of the current story line, the vignettes, and the photos, and I played something of a match game shifting things around from time to time.

IDI – What was the best advice ever given to you, and by whom?

CG – When I returned to college in my forties, for a second degree after raising our four children, one of my favorite teachers required that we use two or three resources in everything we wrote for a composition class. It was a nuisance at the time. I remember one time in particular I was writing a little fun essay about taking my dog for a walk in the park, and I threw in all kinds of referenced factual information about things like how leaves change color, the fact that female sparrows are attracted to males who not only sing a lot but know a lot of songs, an agricultural experiment about grasshoppers, and chaos theory in reference to the way leaves fall. I was trying to be obnoxious at the time by throwing all this technical stuff into a pretty little observation of nature and people as I walked my dog in the park. But I ended up really liking the essay. It worked out. And now I see that if I can add something I found in a resource it often gives my non-fiction substance. I used a lot of records in ‘Dancing in Heaven’ from the doctor, the hospital, and Hospice. The records added a lot to the story.

IDI – I know authors sometimes have trouble when writing about family members. Did your family support you while you were writing ‘Dancing in Heaven’?

CG – I think the difficulty that can happen with memoirs is that you can cross the line between public and private information. This line is not the same for all people. When I gave final drafts of my memoir to my siblings and asked them to sign release forms, my oldest sister and younger brother asked to be removed from the memoir for reasons I don’t completely agree with or fully understand. My sister felt my portrayal of her was too negative. I think both siblings were not comfortable with my writing about Annie’s death. I think my sister would have preferred the story be about the happy times, focused on the light that Annie shined. But I wanted to touch people’s hearts. I think that people, who don’t have first-hand experience with someone like Annie, sometimes aren’t able to fully grasp the humanness of someone who is so completely disabled. I thought that sharing my journey as Annie was dying would best illuminate how significant she was to my family and me. I didn’t want readers to just think that Annie was a wonderful person; I wanted them to feel the loss. I believe with some readers, I have accomplished this. So, I made a major revision of the story and removed all references to my two siblings. My parents and one sister supported me the entire way. The story now reads as if I am from a family of five people: two parents with three daughters, when in reality there were five of us children. I lost a couple of excellent vignettes I would have liked to share, but I believe that in the end, Annie’s story still shines through.

IDI – In your opinion, what are the biggest misconceptions new authors have about the publishing industry?

CG – As a novice author, I’m probably not equipped to answer this in general terms. But speaking for myself, I thought it would be easier. I initially wanted to go the route of a traditional publisher, but the more I read and researched, the more I realized how very long that path could be. And I am not a patient person. I also realized that the author loses control of a lot of things about the book when they have an agent and an editor. I just wasn’t willing to give up that control with this particular story about Annie. Maybe if i were writing fiction I would feel differently about this. Either way, traditionally or self-published, the responsibility falls largely on the author to build a platform and promote the book. That was my biggest surprise.

IDI – What do you do when you’re not writing?

CG – Right now I’m promoting my book when I’m not writing. But in addition to that, I love to read. I belong to the Book Addicts group on Goodreads and try to keep up with their reading schedule. I also hope to read a lot of Indies this year to support them, but also to find authors that I may enjoy. I also enjoy photography, travel and gardening, all of which I post about on my blog: http://randomthoughtsfrommidlife.wordpress.com/

IDI – Define a great book.

CG – A great book is one that I can’t put down, one that I miss when I’m finished, and one that adds something to the content of my character. Readers have told me all three things about ‘Dancing in Heaven’, so I feel happy about that.

IDI – As a writer, what is the one thing you would like people to know about you?

CG – I write to touch reader’s hearts. I think the more we feel, the more or the deeper we understand the human condition, the more fully alive we become.

IDI – I think it takes an enormous amount of courage to write a memoir, especially on a subject that has had such a profound effect on your life. I admire you for that. I would also like to thank you for sharing a part of your story with us. Is there anything else you’d like to say to the readers?

CG – I would like to let them know where they can get in touch with me and/or my work….

I’d love to hear from you. You can visit my website at http://www.christinemgrote.com where you will find links to my Facebook page, my Twitter account (cmsmith57), and my WordPress blog. I try to respond to all comments I receive.

You can find excerpts and other reviews about Dancing in Heaven at my blog. (http://randomthoughtsfrommidlife.wordpress.com/dancing-in-heaven/)

Dancing in Heaven is available at:

Amazon.com (Print and Kindle)
Barnes and Noble (Print and Nook)
Createspace (Print)
Smashwords (Multiple eBook formats)

Ink Drop Interviews are conducted by Kathy Reinhart, author of the award-winning novel, Lily White Lies.

Follow on Twitter: @kathyreinhart

‘Like’ on Facebook: www.facebook.com/KathyReinhart.Novelist

Subscribe to Ink Drop Interviews to keep from missing your favorite authors.

If you are a published author and would be interested in participating in an interview, contact me at ladybuggerly at hotmail for a questionnaire.

Beginning this week I am adding something new to my blogs. I come across many interesting, informative and just plain fun blogs during the course of the week and I have decided to include one in each of my blogs. I would like to thank Stephen Hise and Thea Atkinson for this one:

http://www.indiesunlimited.com/2012/01/16/find-the-resonance-in-your-characters-thea-atkinson/


Katherine Mayfield

Before I begin this week’s interview, I would like to take a minute to thank Kenyan Smith for her graciousness. I have been plugging her interview since last week, but due to a scheduling conflict, she has agreed to let her interview post on an upcoming Wednesday. Kenyan, thank you for making my job a bit easier.

This week, I will talk to Katherine Mayfield, author of ‘The Box of Daughter’, which is a memoir about her journey from emotional abuse. I always admire people who can share such a personal part of themselves.

IDI – Katherine, why did you decide to write this memoir and share your story with others?

KM – During the seven years that I acted as the family caregiver for my parents, almost every time I talked about my experience, other people revealed that they also felt manipulated and demeaned by their parents. We were victims of what Martha Beck refers to as ‘Spider Love’: a love that’s consumptive and draining, rather than giving.

I’ve known so many people who have endured ‘Spider Love’ in their families of origin, and most of them are still stuck in the darkness and despair that comes from unresolved emotional stuff. I wanted to tell the story of my process of healing from the trauma and moving into a much more authentic life because I believe reading about someone’s experience of healing helps others to take the first stops into their own journey of healing from the past. We all need validation, especially if we’ve suffered in life due to a difficult childhood. It’s my hope that ‘The Box of Daughter’ will offer validation and healing to everyone with a painful past.

IDI – Something every writer is asked to the point of exhaustion – where do you get your ideas?

KM – I have file folders full of ideas! Because of my history, I have a different way of looking at the world than most people. I seem to make connections with information through my emotions and intuition as well as my logic, so I can see under the surface of the ‘rules’ we follow in society. So much of life is distorted because we value money, success, and organizational structure over feelings, art and intuition. When you look under the surface and search for deep truth, there is so much richness – an abundance of insight and understanding that’s not validated in our society. My ideas probably come from a blend of my intuition, my perspective, and what I like to call the Divine Creative Force.

IDI – What do you find the hardest aspect of writing?

KM – In memoir, it’s getting down to the dark nitty-gritty of “What did I really feel when this was happening? What words will express that so readers can glean the specific meaning I want to convey?” In memoir, you totally have to relive what happened in order to bring it to life in words. It can be hellish, but one benefit of reliving it, whether you’re writing about difficult experiences or reading about them, is that then it’s easier to let go of them and move on. Writing memoir can be very cathartic.

IDI – Online cafe’s or writer’s groups (aside from social networking). Do you belong to any and if so, do you find them to be more helpful or more harmful?

KM – I’ve belonged to several different writing groups over the years, and they can either help or harm, depending on the individual group. If the critique comes from a place of jealousy or competition, it can clobber a writer’s self-esteem and cause writer’s block. If the critique is truly supportive, and the critiquing is constructive rather than destructive, a writer’s group can be a true boon in a writer’s life.

It’s my belief that a writing group should provide a safe critiquing experience. It helps if the critiquing writers comment from their own perspective – “I got confused in this part of the story,” or “I didn’t get a clear understanding of the theme,” or “I’d like to see this character in more depth” – rather than, “This has problems,” or “You haven’t got the theme (or character) right.” The same point can always be made in a supportive way, rather than in a way that suggests the writer is wrong.

It’s also important in a group to be working with writers at your own level, whether you’re a veteran author or more of a beginner.

IDI – Have you ever experienced writer’s block, and if so, how do you overcome it?

KM – Yes! When I get blocked, it usually means that my inner critic is trying to make everything perfect before it even gets out on the page. Sometimes it means that I’m ‘keeping myself small’ in order to please someone else, as if I’m following the old rule that I’m not supposed to express myself. That comes from my personal history.

The best way I know to overcome writer’s block is to tell the inner critic to go away, and just blurt words onto the page – just write whatever comes to mind. Sometimes the source of the block will reveal itself if the writer starts writing about what he or she is feeling about the block. There’s a great book called, ‘Writing from the Inside Out’, by Dennis Palumbo that is specifically targeted to the psychological issues that writers face. I highly recommend it for every writer.

The other thing I do to overcome block is look up writing prompt online. Prompts often get my creative juices flowing. Many of my blogs on dysfunctional families and care giving were written after reading a prompt.

IDI – What advice would you give to new/unpublished writers?

  KM – I was a professional actress for almost 20 years, and when I decided to move into writing, I thought it would be easier. But competition in the writing business is at least as intense as it is in acting. So first, I would say if you can be happy doing anything else, do that. The other thing is that if you’re determined to be a writer, you must learn to rewrite. Writing isn’t just putting your words down on paper, it’s reworking and reworking the text to make it as good as it can possibly be. There’s a real craft to the writing process. Edit, edit, edit. Ask others to read it, and rewrite some more. I finished my memoir, ‘The Box of Daughter’ in one year, but the rewriting process took another year and a half before I felt it was clearly saying what I wanted it to express.

  IDI – In your opinion, what are the biggest misconceptions new authors have about the publishing industry?

  KM – That all  you have to do is write a book, and an agent or publisher will come knocking on your door. Or, all you have to do is publish an ebook, and people will come running to buy it. I know authors – very good writers – who’ve been writing for decades, and have published books, but haven’t been able to get an agent, and have difficulty even getting publishers to look at their work. There are millions of writers now trying to get their words out there,a nd the competition is incredibly intense. And most publishers no longer do much in the way of marketing. Three-quarters of a writer’s job is marketing their work – before and after its published.

My advice would be to write for yourself – for the enjoyment you receive from it. It’s so unlikely that you’ll get any of your emotional needs – for attention, respect, etc,. – met in the publishing industry that you have to write for your own pleasure more than for marketability. Someone once said that a writer has to write a million words before they can write quality material, and I believe that’s true.

IDI – When reading another author, do you find yourself taking in and enjoying what you read or are you more likely to critique as you go? And if you critique, what is the one mistake you see the most?

KM – A really well-written book will pull me right along, and I get bonded with the characters and lost in the story. When a book is not so polished, or the characters are not well-defined, I start critiquing in my head, and usually give up early in the read. That’s why it’s so important to get a manuscript edited, and keep rewriting until it’s really polished. I would say what I see the most when I end up critiquing is a lack of clarity. A professional manuscript critique can help an author really turn a book around.

If I really love a book, sometimes I re-read it with an eye toward figuring out  how the author accomplished certain things in the writing.

IDI – That said, define a great book.

KM – In my mind, a great book offers readers a telescopic look into another world, brings great characters to life, exposes truth – whether it’s a truth about a culture, a particular aspect of society, or the human situation – and validates some portion of the reader’s heart and experience. I love books that are both entertaining and healing.

IDI – How has your life’s journey contributed to your writing process?

KM – When I began to discover in therapy how horribly dysfunctional my family of origin had been, I started journaling as a way to get all the feelings that swarmed up from within outside of me onto paper. When I didn’t want to face what was coming up from my unconscious mind, putting it on paper helped me feel as if I had begun to let go of the grief, the anger and the pain. And during the seven years I was caring for my parents, and especially in the last year when my health began to decline, journaling offered me the opportunity to put my feelings into words, to reflect on what I was going through, so that I didn’t overburden all of my friends with seven years’ worth of complaining. Though I have to admit, everyone I knew was extremely supportive during that time. All of that journaling eventually turned into my memoir, ‘The Box of Daughter’, along with some short stories about those care giving years like, ‘The Last Visit’.

The process of journaling over so many years helped me learn how to clarify a feeling or insight and to choose very specific words and phrases to express exactly what I want to communicate. That has become a foundation in my writing: specifically about feelings and situations that hopefully leads to clarity and a deep understanding in my readers. I want to validate other people’s feelings, and the more specific I can get in my writing, the better I can do that.

I would like to thank Katherine for joining me today and for her willingness to talk about her emotional experience. If you would like to contact Katherine or would like more information on her work, please use the links below.

Website: TheBoxofDaughter.com

Twitter: @K_Mayfield

http://www.amazon.com/Box-Daughter-Overcoming-Emotional-ebook/dp/B005DRCFC6/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1314191872&sr=1-1]

Please join me next week when I’ll talk to Fran Pergamo.

 Ink Drop Interviews are conducted weekly by Kathy Reinhart, author of 3 novels, most recently, ‘Missouri in a Suitcase’ and ‘Lily White Lies’.

Follow me on Twitter: @kathyreinhart

Like me on facebook: www.facebook.com/KathyReinhart.Novelist

Or visit my poor excuse of a website (really – I am so totally out of my element there): www.kathyreinhart.com

*Views and opinions of the authors who participate on Ink Drop Interviews do not necessarily reflect those of the interviewer and should be viewed as personal and individual.


Jane Rowan

Welcome to Ink Drop Interviews, another Wednesday – another author. This week I will interview Jane Rowan, author of ‘The River of Forgetting’ a memoir of healing from sexual abuse. Before I share her interview, I would like to take a minute to thank Jane from the bottom of my heart for having the courage to do this interview. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to talk openly and to virtual strangers about something that has had such a profound impact on your life. Jane opens herself up and shares some of the most intimate emotions of her life in her memoir and if you haven’t yet read it, I recommend finding a place on your bookshelf for ‘The River of Forgetting’.

IDI – Jane, can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

JR – As you know, Kathy, I have a variety of backgrounds. I spent my professional life as a scientist and teacher, but I was also a poet, and now I paint abstract canvases. I was an avid journal-writer for at least two decades before I began to write this memoir, and I’ve always been alive to the possibilities of language, ever since I was a girl reading the classics during summer vacation. What surprises me about my life is how I’ve changed as a result of the passage described in my memoir, how I turned into a committed writer and artist.

IDI – What are you the most passionate about within your writing. What is it that keeps your momentum going?

JR – I love to tell inner truths, whether it’s in memoir or fiction. In writing my memoir, ‘The River of Forgetting’, my constant struggle, but a happy struggle, was to convey the feelings that came as I uncovered memory after memory from childhood. I didn’t want to make myself look good or even to make my parent’s look bad, but I wanted to show the actual journey. In fiction, I have to feel the solidity and the motivation of my characters or else the story can’t proceed.

IDI – Please tell us briefly what your book is about.

JR – ‘The River of Forgetting’ covers a particular five-year period in my life, beginning with the first creepy memory that surfaced and going on to the moment when I had achieved significant healing and decided to write the book. It was a very turbulent time as I tried to understand whether my loving, eccentric family was also an abusive family. While I encountered each new wave of doubt, mistrust, grief, and revulsion, I also had to live my regular life, teach, and care for my elderly mother. Creative writing and artwork came to be essential outlets – the expressions just poured out of me. Later, I went back to craft a story about this passage and create ‘The River of Forgetting’.

This is also a therapy story. So many people do heroic work every week in therapists’ offices all over the globe – uncovering painful pasts and integrating and learning to open their hearts and move on. My story is one of many, and I honor us all as I show the messiness of the process as well as the hope and joy: how difficult it is to really trust a therapist and allow her to walk through my soul, how wonderful it feels when this works so that I feel seen and whole.

IDI – Why did you choose your particular genre?

JR – That’s a great question! When I was working on this book, some of my friends advised me to fictionalize my story. They saw how I was sweating blood over getting the truth onto paper, and they thought it might be easier if I distanced myself and put the story “out there” away from me, as a fiction.

But I knew it had to be memoir. When I read a good memoir, I find there’s a certain thrill in knowing the story is real, as well as a certain solidity and trust in the author that I develop as I go along. There’s the sense of getting to know a real human being, with their vulnerabilities and their defenses. I needed to put forth that truthfulness, no matter how difficult it was.

IDI – Do you have a favorite line or excerpt from your book?

JR – “The memory emerged from a dim corner of my mind, jolting me awake. It was a humid morning in August. The air flowed softly through the bedroom window, bringing in a catbird’s song from the cherry tree outside. I sat up in bed and propped a pillow behind me, grabbed my spiral-bound journal from its place on the bedside table, and began scribbling…” That is the opening.

IDI – What do you hope readers will take away from reading ‘The River of Forgetting’?

JR – I hope readers will see that change is possible, even when the hurts are old, deep, and murky. Humans have an amazing capacity to heal, when we are willing to confront and explore the painful past. I hope readers will be inspired to undertake their own journeys and see the beauty in those journeys.

Marilyn Ven Derbur, author of the bestselling ‘Miss America by Day’, called this book, “A powerful and sensitive portrayal, full of insight into Jane’s own confusion as well as her family’s bewildering dynamics. The writing is by turns lyrical and gut-wrenching, angry and tender. This inspiring, important book shows that healing and joy are possible after childhood abuse.”

IDI – Who is your target audience? What aspect of your writing do you feel targets that audience?

JR – I see my audience as made up of three strands. The first, obvious group consists of people who had difficult childhoods and who want to read about how one survivor grew and healed, through creative work, therapy, and facing the demons. The readers how have written to me to tell their reactions have mainly been abuse survivors, for whom the book is validating and helpful. The second audience might be therapists who want to understand what their clients are going through. Finally, I hope to reach many people who are interested in “a detective story of the soul” that give a lyrical and haunting description of the process of therapy. Tons of people are interested in therapy – it’s a fascinating aspect of modern human experience that is experienced by many but shared by few. I am delighted to give voice to this intimate interchange that’s usually confined behind the therapist’s office door.

IDI – We’ve all heard of some of the quirks and superstitions that some writers have been known to have. Do you have any that are as integral to your writing as plot and character?

JR – I need to do my regular rituals in the morning when I’m writing alone. I sit and check in with my inner child for a half hour, journal, and then do yoga stretches. Then I’m ready to write.

IDI – Who is your favorite author, and why?

JR – Toni Morrison is my all-time favorite. I am in awe of her ability to convey complex truths in a sensory poetic way.

IDI – Everyone has a dream, (most) including but not limited to best seller, riches, fame, an Oprah endorsement and Pulitzer prize. What’s your?

JR – My dream is to help other survivors of difficult childhoods to realize their own roads to healing. I hear from readers that my memoir has had a powerful influence on their lives, validating them and giving them hope. Exposure on Oprah would not hurt!

IDI – I continually hear arguments for each side, but when writing, do you outline or sketch the entire book before you feel comfortable enough to begin your draft or do you prefer to fly by the seat of your pants?

JR – The memoir had a clear start and end from the moment I conceived it. It begins on the morning that an old memory began to haunt me. It ends when I’d done some significant healing and was ready to write the story. On the other hand, when I write fiction, it is all seat of the pants. The terror and the thrill is to hear from my characters just what happened next.

IDI – Pen and paper or computer and Word? The bustle of a cafe or the quiet of your study? Tell us, what is your most productive/inspiring setting?

JR – My laptop is my best friend. Her name is Esmeralda and she has colorful stickers on her cover. Alone in my rocking chair by the picture window is my usual spot, though I also write every Tuesday in a writers’ group. The group stretches me to try different styles and themes, while the solitary writing allows me to  maintain a more consistent tone and to complete longer projects.

IDI – Your answer sounds similar to what mine would be to that question, minus the stickers! Jane, I can’t tell you enough how much I appreciate your participation in Ink Drop Interviews and I hope your story reaches out to as many souls as possible. It must give you a sense of pride knowing that if your story impacts one life, it is more than most of us will do in our lifetime. It was wonderful having you and now, if you would let readers know where they can find you on the Web…

JR – ‘The River of Forgetting: A Memoir of Healing from Sexual Abuse’ is available on Amazon including Kindle. My personal website is http://janerowan.com and the memoir’s site is http://riverofforgetting.com . I write a blog about living, healing, the Inner Child, and writing, Jane’s Inner Child Memoir Blog: http://janechild.blogspot.com . Find me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jane.rowan.river and Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/riverforgetting

Jane, I admire your courage and your willingness to share your story with others. All the best to you!!

 Ink Drop Interviews are conducted by Kathy Reinhart, author of three novels, most recently, ‘Lily White Lies’ and ‘Missouri in a Suitcase’, both available on Amazon, Smashwords and Barnes & Noble in paperback and all eBook formats.

‘Like’ me on Facebook: www.facebook.com/KathyReinhart.Novelist

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If you’re a published author and would like to participate in an Ink Drop Interview, please email me at ladybuggerly at hotmail dot com for a questionnaire and your chance to be heard.

Authors appreciate your comments and feedback and I encourage you to leave them a comment to show your support in what they do.

Next week – meet Doug Dorow. Until then, happy reading!


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