Category Archives: Nonfiction

Guest Post – Donna Roe Daniell

Guest Post – Donna Roe Daniell

Although I will not be reviewing Ms. Daniell’s new book, I still wanted to pass on the following information.

Midlife Voyage to Transformation by Donna Roe DaniellThree Pillars of Personal Transformation Await You: Are you Ready?
by Donna Roe Daniell

How do you know when it is time to make a change in your life, to change a behavior, to switch gears and move in a healthier direction, to let go of a relationship, to notice your pain? The first pillar of finding this discomfort in your being, in your behaviors is to slow down, to do less and actually take time to notice what is happening. This step of noticing is mindfulness —paying attention to what is going on in this present moment and examining it closely. Can you stop and pay attention and allow yourself to be curious instead of judgmental, critical or self-blaming?

This brings us to the second pillar of personal transformation: Self-Compassion. Finding a way to be kind to yourself and patient and loving when you are struggling with a difficult situation, feeling a lot of pain, moving really fast to get through something, facing a shadow part of yourself rearing its ugly head is self-compassion: bringing in care to yourself when you are struggling. This also takes being willing to stop and notice what is happening, taking that first pillar of mindfulness to the next step of being kind and caring to yourself when you totally need it — instead of hoping you’ll get kindness from someone else soon. You can give it to yourself and hold yourself gently as you let your feelings arise and fall.

When you create this kind of healing container for yourself with these first two pillars: Mindfulness and Self-Compassion, you are ready to utilize the third Pillar of Personal Transformation: IFS. Internal Family Systems Therapy is a healing roadmap and deep dive into yourself and all the parts of you that keep you moving through each and every day. It’s a total path to self-awareness and self-love and along the way you get to heal yourself too. It is a safe way to get an intimate connection with your feelings and your behaviors and to love yourself into a healthier place! You can learn about IFS from books and many resources, but the best way is to engage in working with an IFS Therapist or Coach who can empower you and hold you in Self-Energy and Self-Love until you can do it for yourself. You can also explore it in a safe container like my retreat.

And you can explore and develop all three of these three Pillars of Personal Transformation at my FALL RETREAT this October 28-31 and again October 26-30, 2022. Can you give yourself four days and three nights to just listen and allow these tools to manifest? Imagine what kind of shifts might bubble up and what layers might be lifted?

In addition, all three of these Pillars are also explained through the stories in my memoir: A Midlife Voyage to Transformation. When you read this book you will be able to understand more how to feel your feelings and experience them in your body. You will also be able to learn about the 5 Stages of the Midlife Voyage to Transformation. See what stage you are on in your midlife voyage right now—It will help you get so much more out of the retreat.
Are you ready? This is the moment to take action for yourself and start with purchasing my book on Amazon. Watch for my WORKBOOK/ BOOK GROUP GUIDE to A Midlife Voyage to Transformation coming out in 2022.

Colleen Story Interview

Colleen M. StoryEarlier this morning I posted a review of The Beached Ones by Colleen Story. I hope you enjoy this interview that takes us behind the scenes to look at a writer’s process and inspiration.

Colleen M. Story: The Beached Ones
Interviewed by Lauren Carr

What made you write a book about the bond between two brothers?
I grew up with three brothers—one older and two younger. I felt responsible for my younger brothers much of the time. I took care of them as we were growing up, which informed my portrayal of Daniel, who is the older brother in the story.

The bonds between siblings are unique and challenged by many factors including upbringing, parents, age, and personalities. Yet these are the longest-lasting relationships most of us will have in our lifetimes. When the character of Daniel came to me, it was always with his younger brother Tony. That relationship was there from the beginning and provided a great grounding point for the rest of the story.

Where do you get inspiration for your stories?
Inspiration comes to me from a variety of places, but often I can’t identify where when talking about a particular story. The main character will just show up in my mind first, and then over time, his or her story will start to develop in my mind.
In the case of The Beached Ones, though, I could go back and identify a couple of sources of inspiration. The first was the movie Sarah’s Key, which was based on the book of the same title by Tatiana de Rosnay. The second was an experience I had myself as a child. My adoptive father committed suicide. The experience was traumatic, but when you’re young, you don’t have the maturity to understand or deal with it.

Later in life, that event came up again. I started thinking about it more, and I had a few dreams about it. I didn’t purposely write about it, but I can see echoes of that experience showing up in some facets of The Beached Ones.

What advice would you give budding writers?
One of the most common pieces of advice I share with writers is to focus on the work. It’s very easy to get caught up in the trappings of the writing life—getting published, having readers/fans, and chasing that golden ticket to writing fame. We all have those dreams, but if you’re called to write, it’s likely for another reason. (Your soul doesn’t care if you become famous, in other words.)

No matter if you become the next bestseller or never publish a single story, if you focus on writing as a daily (or almost daily) practice, you will notice positive changes in your life. I guarantee it. Writing is magical that way.

If you could put yourself as a character in your book, who would you be?
If I could put myself as a character in the book, it would probably be Gus. He is a preacher at a cowboy church, and he just lives his life as he sees fit. He doesn’t worry about what anyone else thinks. He spends time in the beautiful mountains of Montana, and he likes to ride his four-wheeler around. Yet he’s kind and caring and offers a lot of support to Daniel (my main character) and his little brother Tony.

How long have you been writing?
I started writing seriously in the mid-1990s. I got my first official writing job in 1997. I went freelance in 2003, and have been a professional freelance writer ever since. Meanwhile, I continued to write fiction and penned several novels, many of which never saw the light of day. I received my first traditional novel publishing contract in 2013, I think! Since then I’ve published five more books and plan to keep going.

Anne Beall Interview

Cinderella Didn't Live Happily Ever AfterGuest Interview: Anne Beall, author of Cinderella Didn’t Live Happily Ever After

Why did you write a book about fairy tales?
I’ve always loved fairy tales and after a particularly bad day, I turned to them for comfort. As I read, I noticed some patterns, so I decided to analyze them systematically. I conducted statistical analyses and found that female characters were often weak, passive and terribly victimized, whereas males were brave, intelligent, and powerful. And powerful men were mostly good, whereas powerful women were often evil. Females married royalty largely because of their appearance whereas males married royalty when they showed tremendous feats of bravery or intelligence. I was surprised how many hidden messages about gender, power, agency and good versus evil.

Are you suggesting that children shouldn’t like Cinderella or other popular fairy tales?
No, not at all. These are good stories. I just caution people to think about what else they may communicate besides the basic plot. I don’t think we want to suggest to little girls that they should just wait for Prince Charming to save them from a difficult situation. That seems like a big message to give that could lead to a lot of disappointment.
I am definitely not against children reading fairy tales. In fact, I encourage people of all ages to read fairy tales because there are so many great ones. In some of them, the female character goes to battle, saves her handsome prince, and rescues family members. There are quite a few fabulous female heroines who are strong and inspirational.

Do you have another profession besides writing?
Yes! I’m a researcher and I own a research company that does market research for Fortune 500 companies. We do everything from surveys and focus-groups to complex statistical modeling. We do studies to help companies understand their customers better and to provide better products and services to them. It’s a wonderful profession and I work with very smart people.

Do you write anything other than non-fiction?
I’m writing a middle-grade fairy tale about a heroine who ends up battling an evil wizard. She is a lowly servant in a castle and believes she’s an orphan. A fairy comes to her and tells her she has a family, but they’ve been cursed. She must solve riddles and find enchanted items to lift this curse and be reunited with her family. Although she has some special gifts, she lacks confidence in her abilities and doesn’t think she can do it. And she only has 15 days, or the curse will be permanent!

What is your advice to anyone who thinks they have a book within them?

I believe everyone has an important story to tell. My best advice is to sit down and write it. You can get help in editing and crafting your story once you’ve written it. But for now, just sit down and get it out. I believe that there is a reason you want to write it and the world needs to read it. Don’t let a lack of confidence get in your way. Just write! That’s the best advice I have. If there is something that’s nagging at you, there is probably a reason.

Thank you so much.
-Anne Beall

Cinderella Didn’t Live Happily Ever After

Cinderella Didn't Live Happily Ever AfterDo humans, especially women, internalize the subliminal messages found in most fairy tales? Anne E. Beall, Ph.D., thinks so. Males are also fed covert messages. According to Beall, in Cinderella Didn’t Live Happily Ever After, women bring beauty and men bring intelligence, status and wealth to most situations within fairy tales. “The other message [for women] is that passivity is fine and facing abuse without any response will eventually be rewarded…. Just hang in long enough and magical things will happen.” (p. 11-12)

Beall and her team analyzed 169 of the Grimm Brothers fairy tales. Males in these tales tend to be active, powerful and wealthy. Women often tend to be beautiful and passive. Those women who exhibit power and agency within the tales are usually characterized as ugly, evil witches or stepmothers. One of the few exceptions, according to Beall, is Gretel in the Hansel and Gretel tale. Gretel defeats the witch by pushing her into a hot oven.

Also, some stories depict characters as purely good or evil. For example, Beall points out that Snow White is portrayed as pure goodness while her stepmother is totally evil. Who, in reality, would admit to being entirely good or evil? We all have goodness and evil within us to a greater or lesser extent. And goodness usually triumphs over evil. Beall “identified a clear demonstration of a good person overcoming an evil one in 106 stories…. In general,…stories where evil characters prevail are rare.” (p. 46)

Who Brings Home Cinderella?

In those tales where goodness triumphs, the person who conquers evil is predominantly male. What does this mean for young girls in society? And must boys always be the strong person in every situation?

In Cinderella Didn’t Live Happily Ever After, Beall delivers her analyses of the various aspects of fairy tales in a straightforward, understandable language. Her erudite articulation lends itself to agreement with her opinions whether or not anyone identifies as feminist. Well done.

I received a free copy of Cinderella Didn’t Live Happily Ever After from iReadBookTours in exchange for an honest review.

Cinderella Didn’t Live Happily Ever After: The Hidden Messages in Fairy Tales
by Anne E. Beall, PhD
© 2018
Beall Research, Inc.

Travels with Maurice

 

Check out Travels with Maurice by Gary Orleck.

Travels with Maurice“Every Woman Wanted to Be with Him Every Man Wanted to Be Him.”  – Gary Orleck

A simple “thank you” led to the trip of a lifetime, along with an unbreakable friendship of two opposites. See them come of age while rubbing elbows with the rich and famous like the Shah and Queen of Iran, The Who, Paul McCartney, Brigitte Bardot, and even Shirley Temple Black. An unbelievable story, yet it’s true because nobody could make this story up. Find out things the rich and famous do not want you to know.

 

Meet the Author: 

Gary OrleckI grew up in Lincoln, R.I. which is a blue-collar town, went to Babson University School of Business, and graduated with a BSBA in 1966. I worked my way around the USA for six months.

Two years later, I traveled with the son of the richest man in the world – covering 19,988 miles, twelve countries, and ten weeks.

Then, I went to work at Broadway Tire Inc. Twenty years later, I bought the business. I then owned and operated it for thirty more years before retiring in 2016!

In between, I met and married my wife Ronna and had two beautiful children, and now I have five grandchildren!

The love of travel remained with me, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have visited 75 countries – each in a unique style – all my own way, using much of which I learned in my travels with Maurice in 1968.

Book Title:  TRAVELS WITH MAURICE AN OUTRAGEOUS ADVENTURE IN EUROPE IN 1968 by Gary Orleck
CategoryAdult Non-Fiction (18+), 250 pages
GenreTravel Memoir
Publisher: TOUCHPOINT PRESS
Publication Date: April 5, 2022.
Tour dates: April 12 to May 2
Content Rating: G

Buy it here.

Giveaway:
Enter to win an ebook copy of TRAVELS WITH MAURICE AN OUTRAGEOUS ADVENTURE IN EUROPE IN 1968 (one winner) (ends May 9)

TRAVELS WITH MAURICE Book Tour Giveaway

Oh Reader Magazine

Oh Reader magazine

No matter your most-loved subject matter in the books that you read, you will love Oh Reader magazine.

As stated on their websiteOh Reader is “a magazine about reading, for and by readers.” The articles deal with how, when and why we read. For example, why would someone read the Nancy Drew mystery series during the recent pandemic lockdowns? And then compile a guide to the food and meals mentioned in the stories? And then try to recreate some of the dishes? Other articles deal with what and how much book lovers read while dealing with chronic illnesses or depression. Or how they met their future spouses through reading forums.

Oh Reader is “not so much about books themselves…it’s more about the lives of those who read them.” So, if you’ve ever wondered what others are drinking while reading the same book that you are, pick up a copy of Oh Reader. Do you read the acknowledgements page in the books you read? So does Meg Walters, who writes about this in the current issue (#007).

I’ve been a subscriber to this magazine since the beginning and have never been sorry.

For a look at other magazines appearing in my mailbox, see my earlier post, here.

 

Van Life – A Great Way to Go Vagabonding

Van Life - A Great Way to Go Vagabonding

Here’s a review of a book, Van Life: Your Home on the Road, by Foster Huntington, that is totally different from my norm of mysteries, memoirs and poetry.

I’ve been thinking for a while that once I’m able to do so, I’d like to live in a camper van. (I currently live with and care for an elderly relative.) At least for a while. I’ve always wanted to travel around the U.S. This seems like a convenient way to do that. I’ve had this desire even pre-pandemic – this is not just lockdown frustration talking.

Interesting concept for this book: photos of various style vans and interviews with some of the owners. The author focuses on 20- and 30-somethings who have spent a short time in a van following the surfing or snow. Including some more mature van owners in the mix might have widened the appeal of the book.

He also highlights various types of vans and the modifications made by the owners. Most were bought second- or third-hand and are by no means upscale camper vans. This isn’t about glamping. (You know—those huge campers on bus chasses that contain everything, including the kitchen sink!) I bought Van Life because, as I said, I’m interested in doing some basic camper living in the future rather than going totally upscale. (Who wants to clean a huge camper? You can stay home and do that…)

Someday this may be my style of life. I’d try to do it a tiny bit more upscale, though, than some of the illustrated vans. But, all told, a great book about an amazing lifestyle that’s not for everyone. Also, great pictures of the places visited by the van owners interviewed.

Here’s a fascinating article about Foster Huntington, author of Van Life: Your Home on the Road.

I have no affiliation with the author nor did I receive a copy of the book.

Van Life: Your Home on the Road
by Foster Huntington
© 2017
Hachette Book Group

 

Private Investigators – Search for Justice

When reading mysteries, amateur detectives grab my attention—Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, Miss Silver—rather than PI series like V. I. Warshawski or Kinsey Millhone. But recently I read two nonfiction books about real-life private investigators. A Suitable Job for a Woman: Inside the World of Women Private Eyes by Val McDermid and Becoming a Private Investigator by Howie Kahn aim to set the record straight. Private Investigators search for justice, truth and the end of corruption.

Private Investigators - search for justice

These books demonstrate that investigators’ lives don’t run to fast cars or blazing guns. Boring hours-long, sometimes fruitless, stakeouts. Frustration from waiting for a call that doesn’t come.  These irritants are more the order of the day.

As the title indicates, McDermid’s book focuses on female private eyes. They worked from the mid to late twentieth century, at a time when women were just entering the private investigation field. Much is made of the difference of approach between some male and female investigators. Machismo, sexism and sleaze cropped up more than once. A bit too much, possibly. Also revealed was that male PIs tended to carry a gun while the female PIs did not.  McDermid’s book was published in 1995. I wonder what, if anything has changed in the intervening 25 years.

Private Investigators - search for justiceKahn’s offering shares part of the work life of a female and male investigator. Both PIs persist over the course of several years to find answers for their clients. Each kept circling around the facts in a case when the facts offered by the authorities didn’t seem to fit. In addition, both worked diligently to change the attitude of the authorities involved. 

MURDER MOST FOUL

The featured PIs’ cases entailed murder and abuse, including rape and child molestation. But cases also run the gamut of financial malfeasance and stock shortages to industrial espionage. On a more upbeat note, long-lost relatives have been reunited through a PI’s efforts. How much more is available for PI surveillance in the current age of online databases for tracking almost anyone? To say nothing of cornering computer hackers. 

A search for justice and truth by all the investigators was a theme throughout both books. Despite working with the sordid ills of humanity, these folks took a deep breath and forged on.

Both books were an interesting read. In McDermid’s book, some of the female PIs read and enjoyed a few of the fictional PI series extant at the time. The only fault found with the fictional PIs? They (or their authors on their creations’ behalf) needed to get a personal life. So, I may begin reading up on Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone or Sara Paretsky’s V. I. Warshawski, or even McDermid’s Kate Brannigan.

 

Private Investigations – Real Backstory

Private InvestigationsWe all have favorite authors, right? Do you ever wonder what has happened in the real lives of these authors that caused them to write what they do? And in the style they do? And if any of the writers’ backstory ever shows up in their work in one form or another? Well, for lovers of mysteries, some of these questions about style and backstory are answered in Private Investigations, edited by Victoria Sackheim. These nonfiction essays dive into the thoughts and lives of twenty of today’s top mystery writers.

Jeffrey Deaver considers the multiple twists and turns that his writing career took prior to his writing mystery novels and short stories. This is exactly the type of reading he has enjoyed all his life. In other words, write what you enjoy reading. Anne Perry wants to be someone who “creates worlds and peoples them, makes events occur…and wants them to last so they can be revisited any time.”  She also writes mysteries because she enjoys them and likes the intellectual puzzle.

The mother-son team of Charles Todd became immersed in research of the First World War for their two historical mystery series. This has led them to read memoirs, newspaper accounts and firsthand histories of the war. Such extensive research and the travels to view battlefields and memorials gave them a deep understanding of the suffering war entails. Jacqueline Winspear discusses how her parents’ deep involvement in World War II affected her childhood and thus her choice to focus on war in parts of her Maisie Dobbs series.

So, if, like me, you’ve wondered about how writers’ real backstory affects their writing, read Private Investigations.

Astrophysics and Widowhood

Astrophysics and widowhoodI never thought I would enjoy a book about astrophysics and widowhood. These are subjects mostly unfamiliar to me. In The Smallest Lights in the Universe, Sara Seager dealt with both subjects intelligently.

I enjoyed being invited into Sara Seager’s life. I especially enjoyed learning about Sara’s work on exoplanets at MIT and elsewhere. Her work on the postponed Starshade project with NASA and others was also an enlightening read.

Having helped someone close through the grief process of losing a spouse, I am glad that Sara found support in The Widows of Concord. Again and again, these women helped her through the dark period of her widowhood. As Sara remarks, “Up and down, backward and forward. There is nothing remotely linear about recovery.” I would have liked to learn a little more about Jessica, Diane, and Christine. Sara hired these women to help with housework and her sons. Sara mentions that she became close friends with them, even having Jessica live awhile with her and her sons. I also wonder if Sara ever sought professional help about where she fits on the autism spectrum.

Overall, a nicely paced read about a slice in the life of a most interesting person. As I mentioned previously, astrophysics and widowhood seem like extremely divergent subjects about which to write and talk about in the same breath. Ms. Seager does it well.

I received a free copy of The Smallest Lights in the Universe in exchange for an honest review.

To read about another unique memoir that I have reviewed: Save Me the Plums by Ruth Reichel.

The Smallest Lights in the Universe
Sara Seager
© 2020
Crown