Tag Archives: creative non-fiction

Guest Post We Never Left You

weneverbanner

I’m hosting a guest post today for the tour for “We Never Left You”. I’ll leave the word to Beth and Rick Olsen now.

Guest Post

We Never Left You. That is the title of our book and the story and hope of our life. Our nine year old daughter Jessica and seven year old son Joshua were killed on July 18, 1999 in an accident involving a drunk driver on a Sunday afternoon. How do you go on is the question that we heard many times. At first we had no idea. We had to learn just how to get through the next five minutes. But how could we get beyond those five minutes? Our children, the heart and soul of our family were gone.

Life took over at that point. Our bodies told us we had to eat. We had to sleep. We had to use the bathroom. Life also told us we had to take care of details that we never dreamed we would have to. We went to the funeral home to talk about how we wanted our children’s funeral arranged.

Life also gave us the unexpected. When we walked into the funeral home it was empty and eerily quiet. It matched how we felt. One person greeted us and went to find Jim Phillip, the funeral director. He approached us with a smile on his face and said, “That Josh, can you tell him to leave my lights and music alone?” Jim continued, “He keeps turning my lights on and off and changing the music station.”

We stared at him in stunned silence. “What did you say?” Beth asked. He repeated it again. We had a glimmer of hope that maybe; just maybe our children were alright. We were just given our introduction to the fact that our kids have never left us.

The following morning we were given confirmation that they never left us. We were visiting a friend of ours before the funeral. She was a gifted psychic. We chatted with her for over an hour and as we were about to leave she said, “The children are here, no wait it is only Jessica.” Our friend got that far off look in her eyes, as if she was listening to something only she could hear. She gave us a message from Jessica. The message was about a conversation that Beth and Josh had an hour before the accident concerning a chicken in the basket. Nobody else knew about the conversation except for Beth and Josh. Tears rolled from our eyes as hope began to creep into our hearts. Our children were reaching out to us.

As we were leaving our friend told us that the kids were arranging something for us when we got into the car. Not sure what to expect, we waited excitedly in the car for several minutes. When nothing happened we started up the car and there it was. The children’s favorite song from the movie Tarzan was playing on the radio. The song was titled, “Two Worlds, One Family.” We smiled and wondered, if our children were gone then how are these things possible?

As time moved on we had no choice but to move on as well. We began to piece together our shattered lives. The loss and heartbreak was still unbearable. Our children continued to send us messages to let us know they were still with us. We began a journey to figure out how to communicate with our children. As we moved along that journey the seeds of healing were being planted.

We began to share the chicken in the basket story. Whenever we did we saw the power of that story. It gave hope and healing to some and peace to others. We began to understand that this story needed to be told. A slow realization began to creep over us. If this story needed to be told, could it be possible that the accident and the kids communication with us was meant to happen?

About the Book

Native Cover_5575821_Front CoverTitle: We Never Left You

Authors: Beth and Rick Olsen

Genre: Non-Fiction / Memoir / Inspirational

After unspeakable tragedy, one couple must forge their own path to healing in the bittersweet true story, We Never Left You.

One moment, Beth and Rick Olsen were enjoying an ordinary life filled with all the joys and frustrations of raising their two children, Jessica and Joshua. The next moment, a drunk driver plowed through a red light at eighty miles per hour, hitting their van and changing everything.

The death of both their children launched Beth and Rick down a long and winding path toward simple survival—and eventual healing. As shock gave way to the cruel reality of their loss, they began receiving messages that proved the existence of life after death—a welcome sign that aided them in moving forward.

The Olsens soon attempted traditional healing methods but quickly found that counseling did nothing to help them get a grasp on their monumental loss. They then turned to nontraditional approaches—a decision that led them to Peru. It was there they finally began to undergo the immense physical, mental, and emotional changes that allowed them to understand everything—including the accident—happens for a reason.

Author Bio

author pictureBeth and Rick Olsen

Happily married since 1987, Rick and Beth Olsen survived the death of their two children from a drunk driver in 1999. Now, in 2015, they have written their first book about their experiences in an attempt to help other people undergoing the same kind of tragedy. Beth and Rick live in Glenbeulah, Wisconsin with their three children.

Andrea Cagan

Andrea Cagan has been writing, ghost writing, collaborating and editing for over two decades, with more than a dozen books appearing on the best seller lists, including four #1 NY Times and LA Times best sellers. She focuses on topics of social value, and has worked with such celebrities as Magic Johnson, Marianne Williamson, Grace Slick and many more.

Links

Book website www.weneverleftyou.com

Twitter @wnly99

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/wnly99

Pinterest  https://www.pinterest.com/weneverleftyou/

Leave a comment

Filed under Guest Posts

Guest Post Mothering Through Bipolar Tour

motheringbipolar

Today’s guest is Rebecca Moore, author of “Mothering Through Bipolar”, a memoir. Welcome, and thanks for guest posting on my blog.

Why I Do What I do

Four years ago when I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, I made it my mission to reach out to other parents who were struggling with the same illness. At the time, my illness consumed me and there were many days I couldn’t get out of bed. I needed to find support from other parents and find out how they coped when the symptoms returned and they found themselves unable to push through those hard times. I needed suggestions, advice, but more importantly, I needed a support network.

A year passed and I found no other parent that had been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. I scoured the internet for hours, even losing sleep during my search, trying to locate just one support group to help me get through.

I finally had enough and decided to start my own blog, writing about the coping techniques I found to be helpful and writing about my daily life as a mother with Bipolar Disorder trying to raise a family of seven children. Not an easy task when my youngest child was just a year old herself.

But soon enough I had parents searching me out. I was speaking out about my illness, I wasn’t hiding it. I wanted the world to know that moms can have a mental illness and still be great parents. I wanted to be a positive influence on mental health in general.

The media had reported way too many horror stories of moms taking their own lives and the lives of their children. As a society, our first reactions are, “How can a mother do that to her own children?”

The truth of the matter is, if we didn’t stigmatize against mental illness as much as we do, then maybe those moms would have felt safe enough to reach out to other family members, psychiatrists and therapists and be honest about how they are feeling without fear of judgement or worse, losing their children because of having a mental illness.

Pregnancy and the change in hormones that comes with it can change our mental status. We find ourselves having thoughts about harming ourselves or harming our children and these thoughts come out of nowhere. They envelope us in their darkness and with no place to turn for help sometimes we act on what our brains are telling us to do.

But there is a solution to this. We can make it safe for moms and dads alike to reach out for help without judgement. We should be able to tell our doctors that we are having thoughts of suicide or worse without fear that we’ll lose our children. We should be commended for taking that step of strength and asking for help.

And that is why I write about my illness, that is why I wrote “Mothering Through Bipolar” and that is why I do what I do. I don’t want parents to feel as though they have to hide behind a curtain and not be able to reach out for the help they so desperately need.

I was one of those moms who had those scary, dark thoughts. Had I not reached out, I would not be here today to help raise awareness about mental illness.

About the Book

CoverTitle: Mothering Through Bipolar

Author: Rebecca Moore

Genre: Memoir

Mothering Through Bipolar is Rebecca’s journey of living with Bipolar Disorder while raising a family of seven children. She takes her readers on an adventure through depression, mania, legal issues, relationship problems and other difficulties. Rebecca offers her readers encouragement, comfort and support; always with a message of hope.

Author Bio

Author PhotoRebecca Moore has been diagnosed with everything from Postpartum Depression to Bipolar Disorder. Rebecca enjoys writing about surviving her journey through mental health and likes to help others who have been there as well. She is a strong Mental Health Advocate for parents living with mental illness. Rebecca is also the CEO of her nonprofit organization, Bipolar Parenting Foundation. She also runs a column on PsychCentral called Bipolar Parenting. Rebecca lives in Northeastern Pennsylvania with her husband and seven children.

“We must break down the wall of shame society has built for us” – Rebecca Moore in Mothering Through Bipolar

 

Links

http://embracingmadness.com/

https://www.facebook.com/rebeccamooreauthor

https://twitter.com/authorRmoore

Buy Mothering Through Bipolar:

Amazon:     Amazon

Barnes and Noble:    B&N

Leave a comment

Filed under book tours, Guest Posts, memoir, non-fiction

Book Excerpt from Learning to Float

learningtofloatbanner

Book Excerpt

Excerpted from “It’s Actually a Loft”

My body and mind were attuned to Deloris’s smallest movements; I would be wide-awake within seconds whenever I sensed Deloris needed help. If Deloris slept on the first floor, there was no place for me to sleep next to her. Nor did I want to pay a caregiver to sit in a chair beside my wife in order to help her to and from the bathroom a couple of times a night. The stairs were not wide enough for a standard chair lift; a customized chair lift was too expensive. Major house renovations would take time, even if they were possible, practical, and affordable.

No option that involved staying in our present house seemed feasible. The clock was ticking, and it scared the hell out of me. I needed to fix the problem and had no idea how.

One evening Ben and Fredericka, who were back from New York, came over for dinner. As we were eating, I described my frustration and stress at being unable to come up with a workable living solution. Ben looked around the room. “Think of the downstairs as one big open space. You’ve been in our loft in New York. This has the same sort of possibilities. Move your bed downstairs, set up some screens, and live on one floor. It’s what we do in New York.”

I looked around and was surprised by what I saw. “That could work,” I said.

While not ideal from a decorator’s standpoint, the solution entailed minimal inconvenience. We would no longer have a functional living room, but it was a lot easier, and less expensive, than moving. And if we bought a new bed, we could move our present one into the empty room upstairs and have a real guest room.

As a teacher of critical thinking, I was familiar with how our strong feelings can cloud our thought processes. I had been caught up in my own emotional maelstrom and could neither recognize it for what it was nor find a means to escape it. I had needed another pair of eyes, someone uninvolved who could look at things dispassionately and come up with a rational, workable solution. Ben’s suggestion excited me on several levels. We could remain in our home, and I would now have new material for my classes: a personal example of how a dispassionate party can help in problem solving.

About The Book

Learning to FloatTitle: Learning to Float

Author: Allan Ament

Genre: Memoir

Allan and Deloris Ament’s lives take a dramatic turn when Deloris suffers a debilitating stroke. No longer an equal partner in marriage, Allan becomes Deloris’s primary caregiver, responsible for maintaining their household and her well-being. Learning to Float describes Allan’s transformation from a criminal defense attorney to a compassionate, emotionally vulnerable caregiver. Drawing on contemporaneously written emails and private journal entries, Ament unflinchingly exposes his emotional, mental, and physical ups and downs, consistently focusing on the love, humor, and opportunities for personal and spiritual growth he experiences on this journey. Anyone with the possibility of becoming a caregiver for a loved one, now or in the future, will benefit from the insights Ament shares. Everyone will be buoyed by the love Allan and Deloris experience as they face their new normal.

 

Author Bio

final cover shotAfter successful careers as a criminal defense attorney, higher education administrator and instructor, and day spa manager, Allan Ament now enjoys retirement with his wife, an award-winning journalist and author, and their semi-neurotic cat (are there other kinds?) They live on an island in Puget Sound, north of Seattle, where, in addition to writing and being his wife’s primary caregiver, Ament serves as board chair for the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts (nila.edu).  His work has previously appeared in academic, professional, and literary journals, and is included in an upcoming anthology, Being: What Makes a Man. Learning to Float is his first book-length work.

Links

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Allan-Ament-Author/748062721931129

Blog:  allanament.com

Twitter:  @allanament

Purchase Links:

bit.ly/LTFamazon

bit.ly/LTFBarnesN

Giveaway

Win a signed paperback copy of the book along with a Whidbey Island, WA goodie basket with bonus Seattle coffee and mug.

Go here to participate in the giveaway.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Excerpt Posts

Author Interview The Luddite’s Guide to Technology Tour

ludditesguidebanner

I’m interviewing CJS Hayward, author of creative non-fiction “The Luddite’s Guide to Technology”. Welcome to my blog!

1) How long have you been writing?
​ I have wanted to be an author for a long time, and writing in online forums since high school. I wrote volumes of material, probably lost to no great effect, as I was struggling to write in a way that people could understand. I eventually made it, in part at least, and finally learned to write in a way people would understand.​
2) Is The Luddite’s Guide to Technology your first book? If not, please tell us a little about your first book.
​Exactly pinning down my first book is hard; I took, years back, my writing and divided it into seven books: The Steel Orb, Hayward’s Unabridged Dictionary, The Christmas Tales, Firestorm 2034, Yonder, A Cord of Seven Strands, and The Sign of the Grail.​ If we table the question of “first to market”, my “best to market” was probably The Best of Jonathan’s Corner. The Best of Jonathan’s Corner is a well-rounded collection about faith, religion and spirituality.
3) Why did you choose to write about technology?
​ There is a saying in the Orthodox Church, of “Immemorial custom has the weight of canon law.” In other words, how Orthodox cultures have always worked has great weight.​
​ Today we live in a time of great upheaval, where the social aspects of technology are significant, and I’ve been interested in them at least since a professor at college handed me a copy of Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in an Age of Show Business.​
4) Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
​ The best advice I can give is very old advice: “Seek first the Kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you as well.” There is nothing better to offer.​

5) Do you have any works in progress you’d like to tell us about?

​I would like to write something about Merlin, but it is coming in fits and starts. If you visit my website,​ there is a great deal that is already there and already written.

About The Book

21247087Title: The Luddite’s Guide to Technology

Author: CJS Hayward

Genre: creative non-fiction / religion and spirituality / technology – social aspects

Mammon, as it is challenged in the Sermon on the Mount, represents such wealth and possessions as one could have two thousand years ago. But that is merely beer as contrasted to the eighty proof whisky our day has concocted. The Sermon on the Mount aims to put us in the driver’s seat and not what you could possess in ancient times, and if the Sermon on the Mount says something about metaphorical beer, perhaps there are implications for an age where something more like eighty proof whisky is all around us.

Author Bio

cjsh_square_fullChristos Jonathan Seth Hayward wears many hats as a person: author, philosopher, theologian, artist, poet, wayfarer, philologist, inventor, web guru, teacher.

Some have asked, “If a much lesser C.S. Lewis were Orthodox, what would he be like?” And the answer may well be, “CJS Hayward.”

Hayward has lived in the U.S., Malaysia, England, and France, and holds master’s degrees bridging math and computers (UIUC), and philosophy and theology (Cambridge).

Links

​http​://amazon.com/author/cjshayward

http://CJSH.name

http://fan.CJSH.name

https://CJSHayward.com

http://tinyurl.com/luddites-guide-technology

Leave a comment

Filed under Author Interviews

Book Excerpt from The Luddite’s Guide to Technology

ludditesguidebanner

I’m hosting an excerpt today from creative non-fiction, religion and spirituality book “The Luddite’s Guide to Technology”. I hope you enjoy this excerpt. This excerpt comes from the essay with the same name as the book’s title.

Book Excerpt

The Luddite’s Guide to Technology:

Since the Bridegroom was taken from the disciples, it has been a part of the Orthodox Church’s practice to fast. What is expected in the ideal has undergone changes, and one’s own practice is done in submission to one’s priest. The priest may work on how to best relax rules in many cases so that your fasting is a load you can shoulder. There is something of a saying, “As always, ask your priest,” and that goes for fasting from technology too. Meaning, specifically, that if you read this article and want to start fasting from technologies, and your priest says that it won’t be helpful, leave this article alone and follow your priest’s guidance.

From ancient times there has been a sense that we need to transcend ourselves. When we fast, we choose to set limits and master our belly, at least partly. “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food—maybe, but God will destroy them both.” So the Apostle answered the hedonists of his day. The teaching of fasting is that you are more than the sum of your appetites, and we can grow by giving something up in days and seasons. And really fasting from foods is not saying, “I choose to be greater than this particular luxury,” but “I choose to be greater than this necessity.” Over ninety-nine percent of all humans who have ever lived never saw a piece of modern technology: Christ and his disciples reached far and wide without the benefit of even the most obsolete of eletronic communication technologies. And monks have often turned back on what luxuries were available to them: hence in works like thePhilokalia or the Ladder extol the virtue of sleeping on the floor. If we fast from technologies, we do not abstain from basic nourishment, but what Emperors and kings never heard of. At one monastery where monks lived in cells without running water or electricity, a monk commented that peasants and for that matter kings lived their whole lives without tasting these, or finding them a necessity. (Even Solomon in all his splendor did not have a Facebook page.)

In Orthodoxy, if a person is not able to handle the quasi-vegan diet in fasting periods, a priest may relax the fast, not giving carte blanche to eat anything the parishioner wants, but suggesting that the parishioner relax the fast to some degree, eating some fish or an egg. This basic principle of fasting is applicable to technology: rather than immediately go cold turkey on certain technologies, use “some fish or an egg” in terms of older technologies. Instead of texting for a conversation, drive over to a nearby friend.

(Have you ever noticed that during Lent many Orthodox Christians cut down or eliminate their use of Facebook?)

Donald Knuth, one of the leading lights in computer science, got rid of his email address well over ​a decade ​ago. He said that email was good for being on top of the world, and what he wanted was to be at the bottom of the world and do research. In other words, he had certain goals, and he found that email was not a helpful luxury in reaching those goals.

About The Book

21247087Title: The Luddite’s Guide to Technology

Author: CJS Hayward

Genre: creative non-fiction / religion and spirituality / technology – social aspects

Mammon, as it is challenged in the Sermon on the Mount, represents such wealth and possessions as one could have two thousand years ago. But that is merely beer as contrasted to the eighty proof whisky our day has concocted. The Sermon on the Mount aims to put us in the driver’s seat and not what you could possess in ancient times, and if the Sermon on the Mount says something about metaphorical beer, perhaps there are implications for an age where something more like eighty proof whisky is all around us.

Author Bio

cjsh_square_fullChristos Jonathan Seth Hayward wears many hats as a person: author, philosopher, theologian, artist, poet, wayfarer, philologist, inventor, web guru, teacher.

Some have asked, “If a much lesser C.S. Lewis were Orthodox, what would he be like?” And the answer may well be, “CJS Hayward.”

Hayward has lived in the U.S., Malaysia, England, and France, and holds master’s degrees bridging math and computers (UIUC), and philosophy and theology (Cambridge).

Links

​http​://amazon.com/author/cjshayward

http://CJSH.name

http://fan.CJSH.name

https://CJSHayward.com

http://tinyurl.com/luddites-guide-technology

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Excerpt Posts

Book Review The Best of Jonathan’s Corner

the-best-of-jonathans-corner-front-coverTitle: The Best of Jonathan’s Corner

Author: CJS Hayward

Genre: Creative non-fiction / many genres / religion and spirituality / Eastern Orthodox

The Best of Jonathan’s Corner, newly expanded ​ after getting five star reviews​, is a collection of varied works of Eastern Orthodox mystical theology. It spans many topics and many different genres of writing, but it keeps coming back to the biggest questions of all. It is inexhaustible: the works are independent, and you can read a few, many, or all of them to suit your taste. Fans of CS Lewis and GK Chesterton will love it.

I wanted to read The Best of Jonathan’s Corner mainly because I’ve always been intrigued by mystical theology, yet I know little about it. I especially enjoyed the pieces talking about economy, like “Money”, since even for a non-Eastern Orthodox person, o who has not been raised in such a tradition, valid points are raised in these pieces. What I liked as well is that one does not have to read all articles – it’s perfectly acceptable to skip one, or to move on to those articles of interest.

My favorite pieces of the collection were those dealing with religion vs. science, as I find that discussion intriguing, and the other makes some solid arguments.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews

Release Day The Luddite’s Guide to Technology

releasedayludditesguide

About the Book

the_luddites_guide_to_technology_iiTitle: The Luddite’s Guide to Technology

Author: CJS Hayward

Genre: creative non-fiction / religion and spirituality / technology – social aspects

Mammon, as it is challenged in the Sermon on the Mount, represents such wealth and possessions as one could have two thousand years ago. But that is merely beer as contrasted to the eighty proof whisky our day has concocted. The Sermon on the Mount aims to put us in the driver’s seat and not what you could possess in ancient times, and if the Sermon on the Mount says something about metaphorical beer, perhaps there are implications for an age where something more like eighty proof whisky is all around us.

Author Bio

cjsh_square_fullChristos Jonathan Seth Hayward wears many hats as a person: author, philosopher, theologian, artist, poet, wayfarer, philologist, inventor, web guru, teacher.

Some have asked, “If a much lesser C.S. Lewis were Orthodox, what would he be like?” And the answer may well be, “CJS Hayward.”

Hayward has lived in the U.S., Malaysia, England, and France, and holds master’s degrees bridging math and computers (UIUC), and philosophy and theology (Cambridge).

Links

​http​://amazon.com/author/cjshayward

http://CJSH.name

http://fan.CJSH.name

https://CJSHayward.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Release Day Party