October 11: Mental Illness Awareness Week
Fictional characters can give us a window into mental illness. Barbara Claypole White writes novels whose main characters deal with a brain disorder. Barbara’s latest release, The Promise Between Us helped me understand the mental torment that accompanies OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder).
The story pulled me in from page one with Katie’s internal torment over her feelings about her baby. It moved quickly into years later and I witnessed the situation resurface. I learned more about the struggles that people who battle OCD may face and must learn to overcome. This book left me filled with hope and a better understanding of this illness we rarely discuss. I recommend it to everyone.
Never again will I refer to wanting something neat and tidy as OCD. I prefer to say “I like it when things are in their place.” It doesn’t frighten me or cause me painful anxiety if the rug on the floor is catawampus.
I promise myself to continue to reach out and walk beside those who struggle with mental illness and their families. Most of the time, the most helpful thing to do is listen. I have two ears and one mouth. I must remember the ratio.
Thanks for stopping by.
More reviews to follow.
October 9: Mental Illness Awareness Week
Book Review: Flight from Reason by Karen S. Yeiser
After I read Mind Estranged by Bethany Yeiser, I picked up the companion book written by Bethany’s mother, Karen. I wanted to learn how a family copes with the devastating illness schizophrenia. I wondered how can a mom deal with the pain that comes with her daughter’s journey through schizophrenia?
I enjoyed this book, if enjoyed is even an appropriate word to use for a book about schizophrenia. I did find that I wanted to get into the meat of the story sooner and so I skimmed the first few chapters of family background.
Karen’s deep faith came through loud, clear, and consistent as she and her husband watched helplessly while Bethany turned away from them during the progression of her illness. Like me, they tried to reason with her, but they found out quickly the futility of it, as did we.
Through prayer, Bethany’s parents placed their trust in God and focused on keeping their lives intact. After four years, the situation changed enough for them to reach Bethany and help her. Because they’d kept their marriage stable and their faith strong, they welcomed her back and helped her.
I rejoiced with Karen as I finished the book and Bethany made it to recovery. I recommend this to everyone who wants to understand how one family played their hand as life dealt their daughter the illness, schizophrenia.
October 8 Day 2 of Mental Illness Awareness Week 2018
I met Bethany Yeiser last summer over brunch after we found each other on social media. After I visited with her, I purchased her book, Mind Estranged: My Journey from Schizophrenia and Homelessness to Recovery.
I felt compelled to learn about her descent from a college student with a promising career to a homeless person, and back to a strong, courageous woman with a future.
I gained more insight into schizophrenia. I struggled as her mind turned against her and told her things that weren’t true. I knew my daughter’s brain did the same thing to her. At times I had to reread it to follow as her brain misinterpreted things. But it made sense to write the book in this way because it gave me a true picture into her thought process as the illness kidnapped her ability to reason.
As she turned against her parents, I wanted to weep for them all. I couldn’t imagine the pain they must have endured during those years. When schizophrenia manifested in our daughter, I feared she’d run and we’d lose touch with her. I wanted to gather Bethany in my arms as I read how she lived on the street, scrounged for food as the delusions took over her thought process.
Bethany gave us all a window into her world as schizophrenia took over her life. She also detailed how she made it into recovery so others can live with hope.
I recommend this book to everyone. Professionals can learn, as well as the general public, what happens to the mind and the individual when schizophrenia is not treated.
I rejoiced as Bethany recovered as only a mother whose daughter shares the same diagnosis can rejoice.
Since her recovery, Bethany became a champion to help others understand. You can read more about this remarkable woman, her illness, and schizophrenia by visiting her foundation, CURESZ Comprehensive Understanding via Research and Education into Schizophrenia. There you can also read stories of other survivors.
If you need support for your family, contact your local NAMI organization (National Alliance on Mental Illness). A map will help you find your state and county.
Thanks for stopping by. More book reviews about mental illness to follow.
Before We Were Yours
by Lisa Wingate
I wish I could give this book a plus after the five stars. This is the third book that I’ve read by Lisa Wingate. It’s by far my favorite one. The story pulled me in from page one. I couldn’t stop listening to it (via my audible account.) I loved listening to the two points of view that she used – past and present. Even though my heart broke throughout the story, I finished the story filled with hope in the courage and resiliency of the human spirit. Rill had a tenacity and strength that illustrated to me the love of family. A wonderful story based on a true atrocity in our nation’s history. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a well-written novel that blends modern-day experience with historical fiction. Brilliant writing. I love the fact that she told a wonderful, compelling story without bad language or scenes that would make my grandmother blush. I plan to read more books by Lisa Wingate.
Molly McBride and the Party Invitation
by Jeanie Egolf
Even though this newly-released book by Jeanie Egolf was written for children, it sends a message to all of us. If we are honest, we can all identify with the thought process illustrated in the fictional character, Molly McBride.
She doesn’t like an individual and the idea of inviting him to her birthday party makes her cringe. She “conveniently” loses his invitation.
Jeanie Egolf writes the story in a way that a young child can identify with Molly’s feelings. Loving adults in her life help her understand the reasons to include the undesirable with an invitation. It’s explained in such a way that leaves Molly with a resolve to do the right thing.
Molly wants to grow up to be a nun, so her role models in this story are religious – a priest and a sister. It puts both vocations in a favorable light for the young reader. They are portrayed as people who can help guide, not someone scary.
The illustrations that accompany this story are well done and engaging.
Jeanie did a wonderful job of presenting virtue in a sweet story in a way a child can understand, plus help the adult who reads it with them to reexamine their own attitude.
Share this book with a child in your life.
Find Molly McBride and the Party Invitation on Amazon.
I remember saying years ago, that the best way to learn history is through stories of people. It helps put historical events in a context I can remember and appreciate. And so, today, I say thank you to all authors who write historical fiction. You help further my education
by Ellen Gable
Julia’s Gifts is a sweet, love story set amidst the horrors of World War I. I read the story in the early morning hours of November 12, which felt so appropriate. To read a story of WWI, the day after Armistice Day brought the reality of the U.S. holiday, now known as Veteran’s Day, into a deeper appreciation for me.
My paternal grandfather fought in the war, returned home, and married my grandmother. My father, their first born, was born in 1919. These similarities enabled me to lose myself in the story of Julia’s Gifts, and appreciate my own heritage.
I liked Julia’s attitude for her future spouse. It’s a quality worth encouraging in everyone who dreams of marriage in their future.
The main characters in the story illustrated courage in the midst of difficult situations, perseverance through pain, and faith during times of stress; virtues that are worthy to strive to attain.
The story had a bit of a predictable side to it, but I enjoyed following the lives of Julia and her beloved. I like stories that leave me with a feeling of hope, which Julia’s Gift accomplished.
I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. If a reader wants an uplifting, love story set during wartime, this book is a relaxing and quick read. Take a stroll into history and enjoy a wonderful story.
Excerpt from Julia’s Gifts by Ellen Gable
December 17, 1917
The bustling streets of Center City Philadelphia shimmered with electric lights, heralding that Christmas was near. Julia Marie Murphy lifted her head and gazed upward. The night sky was filled with snow clouds, the air brisk. She pulled on her gloves and buttoned the top of her coat. Her thoughts turned to her future husband. Dear God in heaven, please protect my beloved.
Tens of thousands of American men had already enlisted to fight in this “Great War.” The gentlemen that Julia knew seemed anxious to join, and Julia thanked God that her three brothers were too young to fight.
In a few short weeks, it would be 1918. All of her father’s friends and acquaintances expected the war to end soon, hopefully before the middle of the year. But 1918 held far more significance for Julia. This would be the year that she would turn 21.
She approached Lit Brothers department store, admiring the display windows that were outlined with colored electric lights. Julia was thankful that it was Monday. If it were Thursday, the ban on electric lights (in support of the war effort) would mean the windows would be dark.
Julia stared, transfixed, through the window at the tall display. Shimmery red fabric hung from a back wall, a beautiful sterling silver pocket watch lay on top of a cylindrical pedestal. Her eyes widened when she saw the price tag: $12.25, almost 20 percent of her annual salary. But it was beautiful and every man needed one. The price notwithstanding, this would be a perfect gift for her beloved. Yes, it was extravagant, especially during wartime. Yes, there were less expensive items she could purchase. It didn’t matter. This was the ideal gift.
After purchasing it, she took it to the engraving department on the second floor. Behind the counter, the tall, lanky middle-aged man with a handlebar mustache smiled. “What would you like engraved on this?”
“To my beloved, next line, all my love, Julia.”
His eyebrows lifted. “I’m certain the gentleman would prefer to have his Christian name engraved on this lovely timepiece. Don’t you agree?”
“Well, yes, I imagine he would. But I don’t really know his name or who he is yet.”
The man’s mouth fell open and he stuttered. “I’m..I’m…s…sorry, Miss. I…I don’t understand. You’ve bought an expensive pocket watch for someone you don’t know?”
Julia sighed. She shouldn’t have said anything.
“Please just use the words I gave you.”
The man nodded and regarded Julia with an expression of suspicious curiosity, a look one might give a person in an asylum.
“How long will it take?”
“For the engraving? Ten days. Sorry, Miss, but you won’t have it in time for Christmas.”
“That’s all right.” Julia turned and walked a few steps and heard the salesman mumble, “Now there’s an odd girl. Buying a gift for someone she doesn’t know. Tsk tsk.”
Sighing, she checked her own wristwatch and hurried out of the store to begin the three-block walk to her trolley stop. If she didn’t get there in time for the five p.m. streetcar, she would be waiting half an hour.
This year Julia was determined that she would meet her beloved, the man for whom she had been praying these past four years. Why hadn’t she met him yet? Some of her friends were already married. Her beloved was out there and she would find him. Yes, 1918 would also be the year that she would meet her beloved.
Each December, Julia wondered what she would buy her beloved for Christmas. Last year, she searched different stores but found nothing special. She finally discovered — and bought — a brown leather pocket journal at a specialty store at Broad and Bigler Streets. She didn’t know whether her beloved would be the sort to write in one, but it seemed like an appropriate gift, especially since it had a delicate leaf embossed on the cover. The year before, she had bought a sterling silver Miraculous Medal because her beloved would be Catholic.
That first year, her mother suggested that she begin praying for her future husband. After a few weeks of doing so, Julia felt inspired to do more. It had been the week before Christmas, so she decided that she would buy or make him a Christmas gift each year until they met. With no job and no money that year, Julia knit him two pairs of socks, one blue-green and one green-brown, with finely-made yarn that her mother had given her.
The fact that she had made or bought gifts, and had spent hard-earned money for her future husband, had not pleased her father as he thought it too impractical and sentimental. Her mother, however, had declared that it was a beautiful gesture. Of course, if Mother knew how much she had spent on the most recent gift, she was pretty certain her mother wouldn’t be happy.
Buy Link: Amazon Kindle Julia’s Gifts on Kindle
Amazon Print Julia’s Gifts Paperback
Questions for the author:
This is very different from your other books in that it is a very clean romance and can be read by young teens to elderly women to middle-aged men. Was that a conscious choice?
Yes, it is very different and no, it wasn’t a conscious choice, at first. When I came up with the story and as I was gradually developing the characters and plotlines, it made the most sense to keep this a “sweet” and “clean” love story that anyone can enjoy. It is, however, a war novel, so there are descriptions of war injuries.
What was the inspiration for Julia’s Gifts?
When I was a teenager, I yearned to meet my future spouse. It was difficult because most of my friends (and all of my siblings) had boyfriends. Since I looked very young, boys weren’t interested in me. I felt lonely, especially on Friday nights when all my siblings and friends were on dates, and I was home watching the Donny and Marie Show.
I began praying that God would “send me a man.” Until then, I prayed for my future husband. While I never actually bought a gift for him, I did write letters to him.
A few years ago, it occurred to me that it would be a beautiful gesture for a young woman to buy Christmas gifts for her future spouse. From that small seed, Julia’s Gifts was born.
Why World War 1?
I’ve always been interested in history and I knew very little about this war. I decided to focus the bulk of my research on the last year of the War (after the United States entered). Because I am American and my husband is Canadian, Julia is American and her future spouse (Peter) is Canadian. I read and studied many books and researched online for three years before actually sitting down to write the novel.
Why is the name of the series Great War Great Love?
I owe my gratitude to the son of a friend of mine, Ian, for coming up with the title. The reason for the title is that World War 1 was called the “Great War” by the Allies before the USA entered the war, and is still often called the “Great War,” by British, Canadians and Australians. And Great Love because there are many examples of how couples met and fell in love during times of war.
Short: Ellen Gable is an award-winning author, Marketing Director for Live the Fast, self-publishing book coach, speaker, publisher, NFP teacher, book reviewer and instructor in the Theology of the Body for Teens. However, the roles she loves the most are being wife to her husband and mother to their five sons, ages 18-30. Originally from New Jersey, Ellen lives with her husband of 35 years, James Hrkach, in Pakenham, Ontario Canada.
Find Ellen at:
If you’d like to read other authors’ thoughts about Julia’s Gifts:
Virtual Book Tour Stops/Links
November 1 (Open Book) Plot Line and Sinker
November 2 Mary Lou Rosien, Dynamic Women of Faith
November 4 Karen Kelly Boyce
November 5 Christopher Blunt
November 6 Carolyn Astfalk, My Scribbler’s Heart Blog
November 7 Jean Heimann, Catholic Fire
November 9 Prints of Grace, Trisha Niermeyer Potter
November 10 Barb Szyszkiewicz, Franciscan Mom
November 11 Plot Line and Sinker Remembrance Day/ Veterans Day post
November 12 Spiritual Woman Patrice Fagnant MacArthur
November 14 Lisa Mladinich, Amazing Catechists
November 15 Theresa Linden
November 17 Barb Szyszkiewicz Catholic Mom
November 18 Cathy Gilmore, Virtue Works Media
November 19 Erin McCole Cupp
November 20 Virginia Lieto
November 21 Elena Maria Vidal Tea at Trianon
November 22 Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold Miller, The Divine Gift of Motherhood
November 23 Leslie Lynch, author
The Bipolar Experience
by Leeann Jefferies with Eva Marie Everson
I received this book, The Bipolar Experience from Eva Marie Everson because of my interest in mental health awareness. I am grateful to read it and broaden my understanding of bipolar. It took some time to move it to the top of my “read it now” pile, but once I started I didn’t stop until I turned the last page.
The story does a wonderful job of illustrating the illness, previously known as manic-depression, now called bipolar. It furthered my understanding of someone who struggles with this. LeaAnn’s husband, Kenneth reacted in the most loving way possible – he walked beside his beloved wife until she came to the point where she would accept treatment and stay there. As a mother of someone who also chose to stay in a treatment plan, I know the challenge he must have had.
I especially felt grateful to read her account of a part of bipolar that is not discussed in polite company – hypersexuality. I appreciated reading her thoughts about the anguish it caused her. I hadn’t thought of that aspect before. Lives are destroyed because of this secretive symptom.
Each time I read a first-person account of an illness, I gain more understanding. I’ve learned that it’s not a choice for them. They don’t want to live this way. No one wakes up and decides I want to have bipolar, or schizophrenia, or depression anymore than someone chooses to have diabetes or cancer.
I believe if we all could read and experience an illness through the eyes of the ones affected, we can react in a compassionate and loving way. I recommend this book for everyone who wants to gain understanding of an illness that affects so many in our world. Once we as a culture have empathy, we can change the way we help them all cope and move into recovery.
Pride and Prejudice
by Jane Austen
It’s true – the book is always better than the movie. In 2015, I watched the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice and loved it. It’s my go-to movie for relaxation. At a 4th of July party, my eighteen-year-old niece encouraged me to finish reading the book. “It has so much detail,” she said. “Especially the ending. It wraps everything up.” At her encouragement, I downloaded the audio version through my local library to my smart phone, put on my earbuds, and joined the twenty-first century.
I must admit. I looked forward to my daily walks, to my household chores, and time behind the wheel so I could “read” Pride and Prejudice and travel back in time through the words of Jane Austin.
I loved to feel annoyed with Mrs. Bennett, cringe when Mr. Collins talked, roll my eyes at Lydia, and sympathize with Lizzie, Jane, Mr. Darcy, and Mr. Bingley. All of them made the mundane things of life feel enjoyable as I joined them in their world while I did my work in mine. It also made me long for a time of manners and decorum, something I feel we’ve lost in our culture.
I laughed when they characters “told each other off” with such eloquence, and then wished them health and happiness before they left.
I enjoyed the lessons I learned through this story. How often do I make assumptions about people before I have all the facts? How important is prestige and money in life? How do I treat others? Am I willing to change my views?
The ending left me content. I know I’ll return to this book again and again to enjoy the rich language, the method Jane Austin used to craft her story, and loose myself back in time. And to remind myself on the use of manners.
Now, I need to download my next good read and go take a walk.
I Liked My Life
by Abby Fabiaschi
I read this book in a little over a day, but I’m afraid I won’t finish it for a long time. It left me feeling grumpy. Yes, grumpy. And I will spend a good chunk of my brain power in thought. As I read the book, I felt like I stared into a mirror. And that made me grumpy. What about it left me unsettled? Did some of the personalities strike too close to home? The answer – yes – and then, what’s next? Is it too late to make a change? Is it even possible at this time in my life?
Abby captured personalities, real life situations and scenarios. I didn’t know what to expect when I won a copy of this book during a Facebook promotion. A woman, successful and devoted to her family, dies. After an investigation, her death is recorded as a suicide. But – she didn’t leave a note with an explanation. Now, her husband and daughter are left to wonder why and examine their life in detail. Was their behavior a factor? Why did she do it?
I Liked My Life, by Abby Fabiaschi, exams the family left behind, but also gives insight into the situation from the deceased as she watches from above. It was a novel approach to a nationwide epidemic. As the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., it affects families daily. I’ve experienced the grief of the survivors as I stood at the grave of four people who lost the battle against mental illness in the past few years. There is no comfort for the families left behind.
I’m glad I read it, but I have to admit, I was also glad to finish it. It kept me turning the page in spite of the pain that registered deep as the story progressed.
I won’t reveal the character who reminded me of me. I think that is up to each reader to determine and I don’t want to influence them. But I’m guessing most readers can identify with one of them. I didn’t want to face some of the truths revealed to me in this story of a once happy and contented family. Tragedy rocketed them into a new reality, as happens in most families.
It’s been a while since a novel made me exam my life in detail as this one did. I know this bad case of “the grumpies” won’t last for me. I will take my new awareness, exam it, make a plan of action, implement it, and move on. I hope I become a better version of me as a result of reading, I Liked My Life.
by Carolyn Astfalk
I won a copy Rightfully Ours, by Carolyn Astfalk from a Facebook giveaway. I began reading it on Saturday morning and finished it on Monday afternoon. I found myself picking it up in spite of a flurry of activities, anxious to discover what came next.
As I read I thought, “This would be a great book for teens to read.” Even though it’s been almost fifty years since I fell into this age group, the feelings and thoughts of my youth came back in vivid memories as I read. Carolyn wrote how my brain tells me that I felt.
I liked the style of the writing. The main characters had flaws so they didn’t feel like cardboard caricatures. It had just the right amount of descriptive scenery to transport me to rural Pennsylvania, but not so much that I skipped those paragraphs. I thought the feelings between Paul and Rachel developed at a speed that felt real. Often times, one party feels differently and it takes time for the relationship to morph from friendship to deep feelings of affection. I liked the way Carolyn handled those thoughts and reactions, as well as how innocent situations can escalate out of control.
I also liked the way the author wove her beliefs into the story without it feeling preachy. It sent me a clear message about the struggles that some teens face and their wish to discover a way to handles their passions.
Coming of age stories fall into “one of my favorite” categories for novels, and this story lived up to my expectations.
I would recommend this book for teens, especially those in a dating relationship, and for those who wish to understand them. I plan to pass on Rightfully Ours to a local high school library so teenagers can enjoy this fast-moving, readable novel with plenty of action and a mystery that held my interest.
Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness
by Susannah Cahalan
This book was loaned to me as a recommended read, “It’s great story. I know you’ll like it,” my friend said as she handed me the book. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get to it right away. Recently, she asked if I had finished it. That statement catapulted me into action. I started it Sunday night finished it today. I couldn’t put it down.
I found this to be a fascinating book. I saw many similarities with my journey through schizophrenia with my child. Parts of the book were extremely difficult to read as I remembered the emotions I had as I watched my child endure many of the same symptoms. At one point when Susannah shared her perception of body image later in the story, I had to stop and have a good cry. My daughter must have some of the same feelings and it’s hard to read it in black and white.
Susannah did a fantastic job of explaining how the brain works and what happened to her when her brain broke. I couldn’t help but wonder if part of my daughter’s illness could be explained as part of an autoimmune disease. Was that what triggered it for her?
After reading this book, I felt enlightened, encouraged, and in awe of her courage to write her story. It left me with renewed hope in science as it works to unlock the mysteries of the brain. I applaud those around her for their support in the midst of complete confusion and devastation.
I’d recommend this book to those who want to learn about rare illnesses, those who want to read a good memoir, those who want to learn about how our brain functions, and last, but not least, those who want to read a book with an ending that leaves the reader filled with hope.
I’m glad I read it. My friend was right.
A Sea Without a Shore
by Jeannie Ewing
Earlier this month, I promised to give a review for this book in exchange for the chance to read it. Sometimes I wonder, who gets the most benefit for this opportunity – the author or the reader? After exploring Jeannie’s book, A Sea Without a Shore, I’ll wager that it is the reader.
Jeannie writes from the heart, pouring out her love and devotion to God throughout her book. I felt that she recorded her thoughts and prayers for us, the readers, so we may grow in love and devotion, too. As I read, I found myself recording phrases that stood out to me. Reflections I wanted to plant deep within my heart and soul.
One of my favorites quotes was “Material acquisition is no longer our goal. It is replaced by the practice of simplicity, engaging in matters seemingly small, but staggeringly significant.” This idea resonated with me as a way to live in peace and joy.
A few other nuggets I tucked deep in my heart include the idea of “self-examination with pointing a finger” – in other words, forgive myself. And “that all holy innocents are God’s beloved” gave me peace as I thought about my own grandson’s death years ago.
Because this book has reflections for the liturgical year, I will read each section during the appropriate season to deepen my appreciation and love for my Savior.
I’ll be honest, when I first began reading this, I had a difficult time. I’m more of a “learn from the parable” kind of gal. I think I understand why Jesus taught his followers through stories. Some of us grasp concepts and lessons more quickly through examples. As I started this book,, I found it a bit difficult to concentrate on the words. But, I realized I had the opportunity to read her thoughts and reflections. I decided I wanted to challenge myself to focus on Jeannie’s prayerful thoughts as I read. Plus, I wanted to learn a new style of spiritual growth. I willed my brain to slow down so I could embrace the reflections. I read in small bites so I could indulge myself with the prayerful thoughts. It worked. I did indeed a learn a fresh way to keep me on my spiritual journey.
If you’re looking for a book to deepen your love and devotion to God, I recommend this book. Read it slowly and savor the morsels.
But don’t just take my word for it. Snag your own copy and fall in love with your Savior.
Jeannie Ewing believes the world focuses too much on superficial happiness and then crumbles when sorrow strikes. Because life is about more than what makes us feel fuzzy inside, she writes about the hidden value of suffering and even discovering joy in the midst of grief. Jeannie shares her heart as a mom of two girls with special needs in Navigating Deep Waters: Meditations for Caregivers and is the author of From Grief to Grace: The Journey from Tragedy to Triumph. Jeannie was featured on National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition and dozens of other radio shows and podcasts.
Blog Tour Host En Pointe Author Services
Interview with the author: JEANNIE EWING
Describe a typical writing day. Are you a morning, afternoon, or night-owl writer? I am an “anytime writer.” You see, my life does not neatly fit into a box (unfortunately for me). I have two young daughters and another baby on the way. Both of our girls have different special needs that require a lot of extra time spent with various specialists, special education programs, surgeries, and counselors. I spent a good portion of my time at the disposal of a doctor’s availability, rather than what is convenient for my family. Because of this, I write when I have time. That might sound like a cop-out, but I don’t waste time. If I have 10 minutes of a lull in my day, I will write for 10 minutes. When the girls are having quiet time and I can snag an extra 20 to 30 minutes, I will write. Most of my best writing happens right after breakfast on a weekend when my husband is gracious enough to watch the girls for me. But most of what I produce is in the evenings after the girls have gone to bed.
Can you tell us about your current work-in-progress? I have 3 of them actually. The first is a book that answers common questions about what to do in specific social or religious situations – a sort of etiquette question and answer book. That proposal has been submitted to a publisher, who is in the process of checking it out. The second manuscript is one I am co-authoring with my husband, Ben. It is a parenting book about using the beatitudes as our beacon for what we do and teach our children on a daily basis. That, too, is in the process of consideration from a different publishing house. The third work-in-progress is my favorite to date. It is a book about the value of waiting and what that looks like from a cultural attitude, as well as a spiritual one. It includes various points of philosophy, but mainly I’m trying to encourage people in their tough times of waiting, especially when it is prolonged. I plan to complete that manuscript before I submit it to a potential publisher.
What inspires you when you’re writing? Prayer – Scriptures, silence, reading reflections and the lives of the saints; music – especially classical or some type of soothing instrumental music; sometimes nature inspires me, and sometimes it could be a conversation with a friend or something I observe while I’m out and about.
What’s your favorite item on your writing desk? Hmmm, probably my perpetual cup of tea!
What’s your favorite genre and why?Memoir, because I love reading about other people’s journeys in life through their own eyes.
Any advice you have for a blossoming author? Just begin. Don’t worry about the details or even the process itself. Just start somewhere and keep moving forward. Your first draft won’t be perfect, so don’t expect it to be. Don’t write with censorship; get into your own flow and let it happen naturally. Our best muse is God, so I always pray before I write.
What is your writing process like? I guess the best word I can use is ‘inspired.’ Just when I think I’ve completed a book, a new idea pops into my head and becomes more developed over time. That’s been the case for this book on waiting. When I write, it could be jotting down ideas on scraps of paper like a typical creative type, or it could mean I actually sit down and type up a chapter on my laptop. But I always, always write down inspired ideas, regardless of where I am or what I’m doing.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? Why? I don’t write fiction, so ?
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time? Reading, taking care of my girls (homeschooling the eldest), chatting with my husband or watching movies with him, taking walks with my dog through our neighborhood.
What or who inspired you to become a writer? I’ve always been a writer, since I first learned to put words together creatively and articulately. It’s a natural talent and also a spiritual charism. I’ve enjoyed creating ideas through writing – whether fiction when I was a kid or poetry as a young adult or original research papers in college – and now non-fiction seems to be where God wants me right now.
How long have you been writing? I started journaling when I was about 9 years old. I received a Hello Kitty diary from a friend for my birthday and wrote in a journal every day ever since!
Are you Self-published or Traditional Published? Why did you choose this type of publishing? I’m a hybrid author, which means I have some books that are self-published and some that are traditionally published. I’ll be speaking more on the advantages and disadvantages of this at the Catholic Writers Conference Online in February. Essentially, I didn’t “choose” this type of publishing. It just worked out that my first book was self-published, because each step of the process I had someone offer to help me through it professionally! My second book ended up being traditionally published, because my editor at Catholic Exchange asked me if I had considered writing a book.
Anything else you’d like to share with your readers? Writing can be daunting, so don’t think it’s some romantic way of life. Most of us don’t make a grand living as writers, but we love what we do. If you are called to write, you will want to share your ideas with others in order to inspire, encourage, entertain, or teach them – maybe a combination of these, or something else.
Just for fun:
Do you have any pets? Yes! A 9-year-old pit bull mix, Lily. She’s a character! We love her as one of our family members.
Who’s your favorite musician/band? Well, I love music and a variety of genres of music. I’d say it depends, but my favorite genre of music is Renaissance or Baroque. I especially love Michael Praetorius and Tomasso Albonini.
What’s your favorite vacation spot? The mountains. It’s my dream to live in the Smokies one day.
Do you like coffee or tea? Never liked coffee, but I love tea and drink it daily with a bit of honey.
Did you go to college? If so, what was your major? Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Religious Studies and Master of Science in Education for School Counseling
Are you a full-time writer or do you also work in another field? If so, what field?My “full-time” job is a stay-at-home mom.
Favorite Season? Fall/Winter/Spring/Summer? I like the changing seasons for different reasons. When I was a kid, my favorite season was summer, but now it’s probably fall. I love the cooler weather and gorgeous colors. Plus, there are so many fun things to do in the fall – hay rides, jumping in leaf piles, visiting pumpkin patches and carving them, apple picking and making homemade applesauce, etc.
A Single Bead
by Stephanie Engleman.
I recently finished the book, A Single Bead .
I received this book as a gift A Single Bead during theCatholic Writers Guild Live Conference in 2016. I’m grateful to have the chance to read this unique coming of age book. I think it’s a good read for young people and plan to donate this book to a local Catholic high school.
I thought Stephanie captured the thought processes of a young girl. I liked how the adults in the main character’s life helped her work her way through the difficulties in her life, to understand the events that happened around her, and through that process, she deepened her faith. I wish every young person had such people to turn to during their times of confusion.
Most Highly Favored Daughter
by Janice Lane Palko
I received a copy of “Most Highly Favored Daughter” during her Facebook launch party. Once I began it, I had a hard time putting it down until I reached the end.
Janice addressed a seldom discussed blight that permeates our world, the deplorable world of sex trafficking. I applaud her for bringing this sensitive subject into a piece of fiction. I liked how her characters evolved as I followed their lives in her story.
I figured some things out before the story revealed it, but the climax and the ending came as a complete surprise. Her ability to weave a story with an exciting resolution to the tale made for a great read. I found it refreshing to read an entire book without bad language and intimate scenes described in detail, yet giving the reader hints of the character’s true feelings.
I don’t read many suspense novels, so this reading experience opened my eyes to a new and enjoyable genre. I liked how the author intertwined faith throughout the story but didn’t make it into an unattainable part of the reader’s life.
If you like suspense mingled with faith, you’ll enjoy this book, “Most Highly Favored Daughter” by Janice Lane Palko. I hope to read more of her books.