Saturday, September 30, 2006

Interview with Ivan Mehosky, Author of THE STORY OF A SOLDIER

Ivan Mehosky was born in London, England in 1945; his mom was English, and his dad was a paratrooper with the 101st Airborne Division. Following high school, he graduated from Frederick College and married the former Charlotte Reid. He taught physical education and coached at the middle and high school level in Virginia. In 1971, he received his M. Ed in secondary education from the University of Virginia. During this time, his two children Michael and Karen were born. In 1974, he entered civil service with the Department of Army with tours in Germany and Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. He retired in 2006, having completed almost 32 years of service. He and his wife reside in North East, Maryland. His book can be purchased at Amazon.com

INTERVIEW WITH IVAN MEHOSKY

When did your passion for writing begin?

Between 1988-1990, the year we returned from Germany (working with the US Army) and following a solo trip to the D-Day invasion beaches of 1944 in Normandy, France. From that point on, after a 10 year of research and writing, my 1st book, The Story Of A Soldier, was published in 2000-2001.

Can you tell us what your typical writing day is like?

There is no typical day for me; everyday is different, and I go as long as I can until I get hungry.

Do you write full time?

No, but the rewrite of my new book, The Story Of A Soldier, took about one full year of writing and editing while I was working full time.

Can you tell us a little bit about your book?

The Story Of A Soldier (BookSurge LLC, August 2006; Amazon.com) is the story of the life and military career of Colonel (Ret.) Edward S. Mehosky, born and raised in Reading, PA, his combat experiences in WW II as paratrooper-officer with the 101st Airborne, later Korea and Vietnam, and the leadership he exhibited in training his men and leading them into combat. Edward Mehosky was tough mentally and physically, as he was innovative-a true leader of men, a man who knew how to train citizen soldiers for combat. His actions as a platoon leader, and then company commander in Normandy, Holland, Bastogne, at the epic Battle of the Bulge, is inspiring and the things that make heroes. He was one of the last officers to make the grade of full colonel in 1967 with only a high school education. He retired in 1971 ater 31 years of active duty in the US Army, Infantry.

Who published your book and how has your experience with them been?

My 1st book was published by Rutledge Books, Inc, in 2001. My second book, the new Story Of A Soldier, was published by BookSurge, LLC, in August 2006. Overall, it has been a good experience and a good teacher.

Can you tell us the inspiration behind your book?

Following a tour of the Normandy beaches of WW II and the area where the paratroopers of the 101st Airborne landed, I returned to the states with my family, and began, through contact with veterans of my dad's old unit, to embark on reserching and writing a unit history. But the more I talked to my dad, the more I learned about his experiences in WW II and beyond, the more I realized that here was the story of a soldier that just had to be written! The process, start to finish, including prostate cancer operation in 1996, chemo and radiation in 1999, took 10 years.

Can you tell us ways you are promoting your book? Have they been successful?

My new book will be promoted on Amazon.com, Target.com, Borders.com, BookSurge.com, available at various sites and bookstores, and through book signings. I hope these efforts will be successful. I never wrote thinking I would be a 'bestseller,' but to honor my father and tell his fascinating story. But I would like to see the book do pretty well, too.

Do you have a mentor?

Several I can think of: my wife, Charlotte; Hank DiCarlo, a member of my dad's WW II platoon; Emmet Rodifer, my closest friend; my editor, Sherrill Fink; my children, Michael and Karen, and, of course, my dad and mom.

What future projects do you have in the works?

I currently have a screenplay I wrote about Bastogne that I want to turn into a book. I would perhaps like to write about William the Conqueror, and also do some Christian writing.

Can you give aspiring authors words of advice towards getting published?

Stick to your dream and passion. Don't give up. Keep chipping away and search out the best way for you to publish your work that you want people to know about.

What’s one thing about your life that you think is important, but nobody asks?

How I got through it all with no writing background, and how my faith is such an integral part of the process.

Thank you for the interview, Ivan, and many sales to you!

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Monday, September 25, 2006

Book Excerpt: DIAGNOSIS: LUPUS: THE INTIMATE JOURNAL OF A LUPUS PATIENT by Marilyn Celeste Morris

Author: Marilyn Celeste Morris
Website: www.freewebs.com/marilyncmorris/
Title of Book: Diagnosis: Lupus: The Intimate Journal of a Lupus Patient
Publisher: Publish America

DIAGNOSIS: LUPUS: THE INTIMATE JOURNAL OF A LUPUS PATIENT

Foreword

Entries from my journal detail my personal struggle for diagnosis and treatment of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (Lupus) from the first symptoms in 1982, diagnosis in 1988, to my current, thank God, state of remission. Please note that I have changed the names of my doctors, hospitals, and other data to protect their identities. .

My purpose is to inform, in non-clinical language, newly-diagnosed, yet-to-be diagnosed patients and their families; give them courage to continue seeking a diagnosis in the face of frustration and feelings of despair; and offer hope, even when conditions seem hopeless.

By relating my innermost thoughts and feelings, I hope readers will come to realize they are not alone in their frustration, depression, job losses and subsequent loss of income, battles with an Alphabet Soup of public assistance services, Social Security Disability; food stamps and weight gain. Nobody wants the inevitable weight gain and subsequent loss of self-esteem that comes with the taking of steroids, but “you pays your money and you takes your choice.” Personally, I’d rather be 20 pounds over my ideal weight, walking around, than skinny in my coffin.

Questions such as “How did I get this disease? Will my children also get it? Why doesn’t my doctor tell me anything except “You’ve got lupus; take this medicine and come back in three months” will be addressed, along with many others.

Although many journal entries detail my struggles with clinical depression, job losses, loss of income and other dire consequences of this disease, my intent is not to linger there, but to press on toward remission, recovery and acceptance.

As many new members of our local Lupus Support Groups sign in relief upon finding us, “I thought I was the only person in the world who felt this way,” so will readers discover they are truly not alone in their thinking and their feelings.

While I compiled these entries from the perspective of a “recovered” lupus patient, I am also aware that lupus may rear its ugly head at any moment, bringing me back to the rounds of physicians, medications, and even hospitalization. This is the life persons with chronic diseases must lead, and their choices are either to feel sorry for themselves and burrow into a sinkhole of despair, or live life as it comes, one day at a time, the best way possible.

I have known persons who have lost the battle and I certainly want to live a long and healthy life.

I also know that tomorrow, my life may be ended in a freak accident.

My choice is, “I’m not going to stop living just so I can live.”

Introduction

May 2002

“Are you sure you have lupus?” My newest doctor asked as he entered the exam room, my lab tests from the week before in his hands.

“Yes. I was diagnosed in Oct. 1988,” I replied. “Why? What do the tests show?”

“Well, they show no sign of lupus. No ANA, sed rate is normal, no RA factor…”

“Great!” I burbled. “Suppose I’m in remission?”

“Or maybe you never really had lupus,” he shrugged.

For one crazy, hopeful moment, I actually thought: “Maybe he’s right. Maybe I didn’t really have lupus, after all.”

Then my thoughts flooded to the three years of constant joint pain, lab tests, five doctors telling me it was either “all in my head” or “Just rheumatoid arthritis” all the while being told not enough symptoms were showing in the blood work.

Never really had lupus? I wanted to shout: Then what was all the lung infection, the hair loss, the treatments with Cytoxan, Imuran, prednisone; the difficulty walking when vasculitis caused foot drop in both feet and I fell down a lot? Frustration mounted on frustration as the disease progressed.

Never really had lupus? Then what was with my red, swollen joints, causing one rheumatologist to rhapsodize, “What beautiful swollen knees!” When I couldn’t wear rings, watches or bracelets because of the intense pain and swelling? When even my collarbones hurt?

Never really had lupus? Then what was all the bouncing from job to job, being fired or quitting due to sheer physical exhaustion, or finding it impossible to concentrate on the task at hand?

Never really had lupus? Then why did I break out in a fiery rash after being in the sun? What was the point in hauling my body out of bed at 5:30 a.m., climbing painfully into a tub or hot water, eating breakfast so I could swallow my handful of meds (that didn’t seem to be doing much good) so I could get dressed and have my butt in a chair at my office-du-jour by 8:00 a.m.?

Never really had lupus? Then what was all the memory loss about? What words escaped me at just the right time to embarrass me so that I could only shrug and murmur, “lupus lapse” much as Richard Fish on Ally McBeal shrugged, “Bygones.”

Rather than lash out at this newest, most optimistic young doctor, I merely smiled and shrugged, “Yes, I really did have lupus.”

I wish I could tell you that my disease came on suddenly, that I went to the doctor, was diagnosed and treated immediately, and everybody lived happily ever after.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Nor does it happen with the majority of lupus patients; at least with those I’ve known. After three years full of pain, doubt, fear, and anger, and after changing doctors, both primary care physicians and rheumatologists, five times, I was at last diagnosed with SLE.

And my treatment took a very long time, and brought with it, not the expected relief of pain, doubt, fear and anger, but Four (Other) Horsemen of This Disease: Weight gain, high blood pressure, diabetes, and vasculitis. I must also add clinical depression, job loss, loss of income, foreclosure, lining up for food stamps, medicines and other Public Assistance services. I was truly humbled when I picked up my handicapped parking tag, food stamps and vouchers. I was infuriated by low-level clerks who used their positions of power to assert their superiority over me, verbally slapping my wrists, and at one point, one even shaking her finger at me, yet I had to submit in order to get whatever assistance they could offer.

I had a meltdown in my parish priest’s office, confessing that I needed financial help; I had a true gasping-for-air, snot-slinging hissy fit in the college library when I was told I might not be able to complete my schooling. And all this time, I tried to reassure my family and friends that I would not, could not, leave this crappy world via my own hand, even though I admitted, however, I would just like to lie down and die.

That’s what this disease did to me.

This is what this disease did for me.

I learned there is a God, and I’m not Him/Her.

I learned that God loves me as much as he loves you.

I learned I’m not perfect, never have been, never will be, and that’s okay.

I learned that this disease is not a punishment for “sins.”

I learned how to ask for help.

I learned how to be grateful for and accept that help.

I learned that things are merely objects, that money is simply a means to an end, and not the be-all and end-all of life.

I learned the difference between needs and wants.

I learned to surrender, to “Let go and let God.”
I
learned that expectations are only pre-meditated resentments.

I learned not to discount the message because of the messenger.

If all of the above sounds vaguely familiar to those of you who are members of a 12-Step Recovery group, you are correct. I make no secret of the fact that I am a grateful member of the Al-Anon Family Group, and lest anyone fear I am breaking my anonymity, my last name is not the same as my children’s or my ex-husband’s, since I wisely had my maiden name restored upon my divorce.

When I mention friends’ names, some are members of the fellowship, some are not. I have, however, changed the names of the doctors and institutions, simply because I believe it serves no purpose to impugn their reputations. I also know today that they did the best they could with the information available at the time. They’re not perfect, and they certainly aren’t gods.

When I write of my parents’ shortcomings, I am not “parent-bashing” or playing “Let’s blame Mom and Dad.” My parents weren’t perfect, any more than my doctors were perfect; they also did the best they could during my childhood and in trying to cope with their feelings about my illness.

I give thanks daily that I was already a member of the Al-Anon Family Group and the Episcopal Church before the onset of symptoms of SLE. While working with my sponsor, while studying to be a Stephen Minister, and while literally crying on my dear friends’ shoulders, I was sustained by their love and caring support. By holding me in their arms, keeping me in their prayers, and yes, by giving me swift kicks to the posterior, these people kept me alive. To this day, I don’t know how they managed to listen to my constant crying, complaints, and self-doubts, much less stand stoically as they heard me rage at God, myself and the entire universe for whatever was going wrong in my life.

Because of them, I am alive. Today.

And I know today that is all we have – This day. This moment.

I hope my experiences inform you, strengthen you, and give you hope.

First, Some Facts…

Some symptoms of lupus:

Do you have/ever had/been told you have:

Achy, painful and/or swollen joints for more than three months;

Fingers and/or toes becoming pale, numb or uncomfortable in the cold;

Sores in the mouth for more than two weeks;

Been told you have a low blood count, anemia, low white cell count or a low platelet count;

Ever had a prominent redness or color change in the shape of a butterfly across the bridge of your nose and cheeks;

An unexplained fever over 100 degrees for more than a few days;

A sensitivity to the sun where the skin breaks out after being in the sun (not a sunburn);

Had chest pain with breathing for more than a few days (pleurisy);

Been told you had protein in your urine;

Experienced persistent, extreme fatigue and weakness for days or weeks at a time even after 6-8 hours of restful nighttime sleep.

If you have 3 or more symptoms, you should see your doctor.

According to the Lupus Foundation of America, Lupus is more common than Leukemia, Hodgkin’s Disease, Muscular Dystrophy, Cystic Fibrosis and Multiple Sclerosis. And yet, the average person rarely knows about lupus and is generally misinformed, vaguely believing it to be “kind of like arthritis, isn’t it?” While my symptoms first presented themselves as “kind of like arthritis,” and I was thus diagnosed and treated for two years for RA, other symptoms soon presented themselves, until, after three emotionally charged and pain-filled years from the onset of symptoms, laboratory tests confirmed the presence of SLE, or Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.

There are two distinct types of lupus. One is discoid lupus, where the skin shows large “splotches” or red rashes in clusters, mostly on the face, across the cheeks and the bridge of the nose, creating a “wolf-like” mask. One can have discoid lupus and systemic lupus at the same time; generally, those who suffer with the discoid form of lupus do not develop the systemic form.

The second is systemic lupus; that is, it is throughout the body. It has been classified as “an autoimmune disease.”

Lupus has nothing to do with AIDS, I must point out. I like the ‘short’, understandable description of what lupus is: Think of the body as a fort, like in the Wild West Days. Every now and then, Indians would attack the fort, and the soldiers inside the fort (white blood cells) would repel the Indians (the infection). Then the fort (body) would settle down and go back to its usual routine, until the next Indian attack

Only with lupus, there are no Indians. The soldiers inside the fort are ever ready for an attack, but the Indians don’t arrive, so the soldiers (stressed) turn on each other, fighting among themselves, eventually destroying the fort itself: lungs, kidneys, central nervous system, etc.
As of this printing, there is no cure, but it is treatable.

Words to the Newly Diagnosed, Undiagnosed and Their Families….

Actually, one word. Hope. There is hope. Despite the pain, the despair, the uncertainty, and the fatigue – there is a light at the end of the tunnel. While listening to new members of our local lupus support group, I hear their fear.

“I thought I was the only person in the world who felt this way.”

“Did your doctor tell you it was all in your head?”

“Did your doctor tell you it was ‘just’ rheumatoid arthritis?”

“My family does not understand what I’m going through. After all, I don’t look sick.”

“How can you work when you have lupus?”

“How can I get social security disability? They keep denying my claim.”

“My company fired me after I took disability. Is this legal?”

“How can I find work when I’m so sick?”

“How do you manage the pain?”

“What does cortisone do to your body?”

“Why isn’t the medication my doctor prescribed for me doing me any good? I still hurt.”

“Why doesn’t my doctor tell me more about lupus? All he said was, ‘You have lupus. Take this medicine and come back in three months.’”

“My doctor won’t talk to me when I call his office. His office staff tells me he’s busy, or he can’t talk to me, and they won’t answer my questions. What should I do?”

“How do I answer people’s questions when I tell them I have lupus?”

And, the topper: “People tell me ‘You don’t look sick. You look too healthy to be sick.’”

And their unspoken questions, as much as those uttered: Will I die from this? How long will I be sick? Will I get worse? What about kidney involvement? Seizures? Why did I get this disease? Will my children also get it?

Difficult questions, indeed.

I disagree with the perception that you must have not lived a good, clean life, or you wouldn’t have developed cancer, diabetes, --- or SLE. If anything, my life had been “squeaky-clean” up to age 20,when I married for the first time.

I do believe, however, with the perception that stress plays a major role in illness’ development, and, Lord knows, I had enough stress in my life.

And so does everyone

Stress, good or bad (marriage, children being born, promotions, are all stressors) has an effect on one’s mind and body. By the time I reached age 44, I had had several major stressors, and I reacted the way I always had – chin up, swallowed my hurt and anger, and got on with it.
Most of us Lupans have had a great deal of stress in our lives. We are, after all, over-achievers. We take on more than the ordinary person. We are perfectionists. We work too hard, don’t know how to play, and don’t rest when we should. And that’s before we get lupus. So it’s extremely difficult to “take it easy” when diagnosed with this disease.
So with my stress, I didn’t take the time to grieve over my divorces, to rage aloud at the injustices in my life.

I simmered. And my body, seeking an outlet for such stress build-up, rebelled. Like volcanoes, fires erupted in my joints, cartilage and ligaments. My emotional pain had been crying out for attention.

It was physical pain that got my attention.

What my personal journey through this darkness has taught me is this: The disease is worst at the beginning – before diagnosis and treatment.

As in my case, I was diagnosed in October, 1988 and hospitalized with a raging case of pleuritis in March 1989. This was preceded, of course, by at least three years of constant searching for a diagnosis, going from doctor to doctor, bouncing from job to job as my energy level waned and deteriorated, and dealing with an alphabet soup of medical institutions, insurance companies, mental health and rehabilitation facilities. And then, despite the aggressive treatment, my body succumbed at last

But back to the beginning statement…It’s worse in the beginning.

Once the lab tests come back with a positive for SLE, and treatment is begun, you can get better. I promise. You might also get worse before you get better. I promise that, too. But you will get to the point where the pain abates, anxiety lessens, mobility is restored and confidence in living a full life returns.

It will take time, medications, and dedication on your part to adhere to the treatment plan your physician has outlined for you, (keeping in mind “You must become your own best physician”) and determination to defeat the beast that has taken up residence in your body.
A support system is essential. Family, friends, church – learn to lean on them for a change. I know, I know, we have always been the ones to comfort, rather than be comforted. To give, rather than receive, care, compassion and chicken soup to those in need.

This is your turn.

Embarrassed? It’s nothing you did or didn’t do. You don’t blame your son’s Sunday school teacher for having cancer, do you? It happens. Through no fault of his/hers.

Still, I questioned: “Why me?” “Why now?”

Because, that’s why, my mother/myself said.

I did cry a lot when the lupus was at its worst. I wanted the pain to end; although I didn’t want to commit suicide, there were times when I sincerely wanted to just lie down and die.

While looking back on my journals for use in writing this book, I was struck by what seemed at first as an inordinate amount of “whining.” But, by golly, I needed to whine. Indeed, I not only “whined,” I complained. I ranted. Frustrated beyond belief, I lashed out at those around me.

And I railed against God Himself.

Yet somehow, I was sustained through this challenging time in my life. I attained an unexpected spiritual growth in the face of this adversity. Years ago, I would have gagged on the “goody two shoes” phrases, believing there was noting “spiritual” about having any illness. God was against me, if he existed at all, and certainly, I didn’t feel “noble” about suffering with this dammed disease.

I took heart from one of the many books I read where one of the chapters was titled, “Dying Is the Easy Part.” I knew it would be easier to die than to stand up and fight this disease. I’ve never been known to take the easy way out, however. So I allowed myself to cry.

My doctor said, “You’ve got a right to sing the. blues,” and sing them I did.

I had the determination to beat this disease, but I needed help – beyond that of modern medicine.

“Life is Difficult” M. Scott Peck wrote in The Road Less Traveled.

Nobody had ever told me that before. Any little annoyance, inconvenience, or major lifestyle change caused me to rebel. “It’s not fair. Life isn’t supposed to be like this. Bad things happen to other people, but not to me. I’ve been good.”

Rabbi Harold Kushner wrote pretty much the same thing in his landmark book: When Bad Things Happen to Good People and the truth finally dawned on me: Life happens.

Laughter is essential. Norman Cousins, in his book, Anatomy of an Illness, tells how he rented a hotel room, a projector and old Marx Brothers movies, and laughed his way out of the pain. A good 30 minutes of laughter enabled him to sleep where he could not before.

I began keeping a journal. After all, I had whined to my family and friends enough. I needed to vent. I needed to feel sorry for myself even while I presented a brave front to the world. This journal led me to a special kind of healing. I began a spiritual and physical journey, realizing one cannot be undertaken without the other.

I would someday use these entries for my story about lupus, I thought. But when every other journal entry contained references to laments of financial worries, fear and insecurities. I wondered, “Who would want to wade through all these recitations of woe? Reading about chronic illness is not a favorite choice, anyway; if a person has lupus, isn’t it enough to just read the facts and go on?”

No, it isn’t, in my humble opinion. I could read all the statistics in the world and still not feel like anyone understands how I feel – what’s actually going on inside me, emotionally, as well as dry numbers on a sed rate scale. More than anything else, I believe, I wanted people to know that the pain I was experiencing encompassed more than every joint/connective tissue/vital organ of my body. That pain influenced every area of my life…physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
I wanted people to know that I was, indeed, legitimately suffering from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, even though I “looked wonderful.”

Lupus patients truly don’t “look sick.” Unlike cancer, lupus does not leave its victims looking pale, gaunt, and emaciated. We appear in radiant good health, while lupus may be silently destroying our kidneys. We look – ahem – overfed, overweight – pumped up on steroids, our faces get rounder and rounder; our trunks also bloom while the limbs remain the same. An odd appearance, to say the least, and one that is not welcomed by its hosts, prompting remarks such as “How can you be so sick when you look so – uh – (Say it—dammit! fat!) healthy.”

We generally have no visible disabilities, either, like Parkinson’s patients. There are usually no tremors, no speech difficulties, and no problems with ambulating. Certain forms of lupus, of course, can lead to seizures, psychoses, and other neurological defects, but generally, we appear healthy.

Treatment for lupus is non-dramatic, as a cancer’s chemotherapy. Yes, we take pills. Lots of pills. Generally, we are not forced into being “hooked up to tubes” intravenously. But the meds also give us hair loss, violent rashes and scars on our fragile skin, and our eyes must be protected from the sunlight.

Many of us work, at least part-time, as our illness allows. Sometimes we go into remission, for days, weeks, months, years, and we rejoice in those times. But when lupus bites into us, wearing us down with fatigue, pain, arthritic-like hands, swollen knees, mal-functioning kidneys, and neurological misfires, we are truly, once again, very sick.

Even if we still look in the best of health.

Some days you’re the bug, some days you’re the windshield.

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Book Excerpt: RED STATE OF MIND by Nancy French


Name of Author: Nancy French
Website: www.nancyfrench.com
Name of Book: RED STATE OF MIND
Publisher: Time Warner Books
Release Date: October 9, 2006

Red State of Mind

Chapter One

Once, in a fit of ambition, I teased my hair, put on blue satin and pink eye shadow, and entered the Catfish Queen beauty pageant- unaware that my lack of poise, fish knowledge, and cleavage would present serious obstacles in my quest for the coveted crown. Every third week in April, seventy thousand people converge on my hometown of Paris, Tennessee, for the World's Biggest Fish Fry. It was probably best I lost the contest, since the Catfish Queen had many responsibilities I couldn't have mastered- including serving fish in the Fish Tent (where five tons are consumed in one week) and maintaining perfect posture while perched atop a slow moving convertible during the climactic parade down Eastwood Street.

The biggest draw of the parade was the celebrity grand marshal, for example, Porter Wagoner or Patsy Cline's third-grade teacher. And schools were dismissed so we could walk up and down the road and shoot silly string at the floats. The Fish Fry Festival gave us a sense of being a part of something bigger than our typical small-town life, but when it was over, farmers went back to their tobacco, kids went back to school, and committees started work on next year's floats.

Yet even after the tourists left, you never felt lonely in Paris. Just a casual drive through the town was a community experience, requiring the following unspoken rules of etiquette not taught in driver's ed. Obviously, the cardinal rule was to wave at passing vehicles (not a formal Queen Elizabeth but just a relaxed steering wheel salute) whether or not you knew the other driver. Most of the time, you did.

Just as important was the rule for funeral processions. As in most places, police cars escorted a meandering line of cars to the cemetery after a funeral. In Paris, however, the driver of any car that came upon the procession pulled off the road, put on his hazard lights, and bowed his
head slightly as it passed. The ultimate measure of a life well lived was how many miles of traffic you could shut down on your way to the Pearly Gates.

Of course, if you passed a police officer hiding in a speed trap, you dutifully flashed your headlights on and off to alert oncoming traffic-the vehicular equivalent of the Golden Rule.

And lastly, a four-way stop in Tennessee was the perfect opportunity to demonstrate one's Christianity. The driver who arrived first at the intersection, though entitled by law to go first, often motioned "after you" to the other driver. This made fourway stops long, ambiguous pageants of humility and thankful waves (as opposed to the four-way collisions that any
such traffic configuration causes in New York).

In other words, people in Paris watched out for each other well before anyone articulated the notion of it taking a village. It was also before we knew airliners could be used as missiles and before anyone had heard of Columbine.

Perhaps in retrospect, it was a little odd that my junior high actually encouraged firearm use by replacing seventh grade science class with a mandatory hunter's safety course. I vividly remember our football coach standing in front of the class with an array of rifles and shotguns,
showing us how to take lethal shots from the deer stand and how to gut deer properly. We even had field trips to a shooting range where I earned the distinction of being the best marksman in my junior high school. Three skeet. No misses. And I'd never shot a gun before.

This was much more practical than dissecting a frog, since we students had arsenals in our homes that made Saddam look like a beatnik (and we could dissect frogs in our own backyards). It never dawned on me that I was a redneck. Even when my friends and I entertained ourselves by going cow tipping- which involves stealthily sneaking up on sleeping cows and slamming
into them until they tip over-I just figured we were participating in a classic American pastime. (Yes, cows sleep standing up and have a terrible sense of balance. Cow tipping is illegal since, sadly, some cows can't recover from the sudden shock.)

Luckily I had plenty of opportunity to ask God to forgive me. In Paris, churches were packed on Sunday mornings, and smoky bars were packed on Saturday nights-sometimes by the same folk. On weekday mornings, the retired men sat for hours in local diners smoking Marlboros and analyzing Tennessee football. Younger men were judged by the size of their trucks and their
skill at fixing them. Women, on the other hand, were kept busy by hairdos that defied gravity and required architectural skills surpassing those of the builders of the Eiffel Tower-a sixty-foot replica of which was the pride of our county.

Even though it sat beside a dilapidated park near the soccer fields, I thought our little tower was beautiful. After all, my daddy had grown up in a two-room Appalachian house with seven brothers and sisters, brushed his teeth with a branch from a tree, and learned the alphabet in his twenties. So living in Paris felt like a truly cosmopolitan experience.

Then one day the phone rang.

I could tell from my dad's oh-so-casual tone that it was the recruiter for a small Christian college in Nashville. Again. My parents had saved all my life for me to go to this school, which had mandatory curfews and daily chapel, and they arranged for a recruiter to call me every twenty-seven minutes during my senior year in high school. With each phone call, my enthusiasm for the school waned a bit more. One day, instead of passively listening to their I'm-your-best-friend sales pitch, I decided to fight back. I made something up.

"Listen, I want to be a lawyer," I said. "And no decent law school has ever heard of your college."

The recruiter paused for dramatic effect. "My friend David just graduated from here last year and is in his first year at Harvard. Is that decent enough for you?"

Before I hung up the phone, I had agreed to talk to this David about his undergraduate experience at Lipscomb University, which terrified me since I had no real intention of going to law school, nor was I even sure how to spell Harvard. For a week, I read up on the place. And when the phone rang, I was armed with more trivia about the Ivy League than Ken Jennings
knowsabout Norwegian fjords.

"Hello, Nancy. This is David. You're interested in law school?"

When I heard his voice, I knew this conversation was going to change more than my choice of college. He was charming, he was funny, and his idea of a good date didn't involve a cow pasture and two bottles of Michelob. Suddenly, this small-town girl longed for some place else.

For three years, that disembodied voice on the telephone grew to symbolize that place. One day, walking down a sidewalk in Nashville, I met David face-to-face. He'd moved there after law school and was leaving a client's office when we were formally introduced. Six weeks later we were engaged. Three months later, we were living in Manhattan.

That definitely qualified as some place else, and I was in for the surprise of my life: evidently not all Americans enjoy Sunday lunch at MawMaw's. This book is the story of the exploration, frustration, and adaptation of a girl taken from Paris, Tennessee, and planted in the middle of the liberal Northeast. It's not an academic tome nor an exhaustive investigation into
the culture war. Instead, it is just one red American's story about what it's like to live in the blue states, when all she'd ever known was biscuits and church three times a week. Shockingly, I wasn't quite as sophisticated as I'd thought, even though I'd grown up in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.

So years later when I moved back to the South, did I happily readjust to the slower pace of life and the old-fashioned hospitality?

No. Suddenly, I was irritated at the Wal-Mart cashier talk- ing to a customer about her aunt's arthritis for twenty minutes before ringing me up. Not to mention the serious scarcity of good Vietnamese restaurants.

What had happened to me?

I'd developed a deep appreciation for and frustration with both areas, which was as awkward as being friends with a couple after a divorce. Especially since society constantly categorizes people into different camps (Bush or Kerry, Coke or Pepsi, Bo or Carrie), it's easy to forget both sides
have traits we can all enjoy-or at least quirks we can all ridicule. Consider this book a celebration of these cultural idiosyncrasies and enjoy the journey into the dysfunctional family known as America.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Book Excerpt: GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT by Cate Cavanagh

Name of Author: Cate Cavanagh
Website: catecavanagh.net
quantumspirituality.tripod.com
Name of Book: Gifts of the Spirit
Publisher's Website: Gifts Of The Spirit gleefully released (finally!) from my contract with PublishAmerica. To celebrate, I am now giving this book away free! Email me at catecavanagh@gmail.com

Chapter One
Buddhism

I have always said that I could do anything if life did not get in the way. Life. That can be a tough one. Such as being a young widow with a child and no income. That was me at age 32.

My five-year-old daughter and I came home one day and found her father, age 34, dead from a brain aneurysm. For seven years prior we had struggled in poverty as he had been debilitatingly ill and despite hopes and prayers that he would regain some ability to be gainfully employed, he died. The strange thing was he knew was dying and so did I. Our spirits knew his path was quickly coming to and end. That was a long time ago and in retrospect the important thing is that we knew but did not want to listen. No one had suspected an aneurysm. The ailments he suffered from were not terminal just debilitating. After all the rage and sorrow and rebuilding, my spiritual path has taught me that I am affected by the suffering paths of others around me and of those I love just as much as I am affected by my own path. In fact, how I respond to the actions and events of others is pivotal to my spiritual growth.

And it is not personal.

But what do you do with the rage that must engulf us from time to time when life throws some hard realities our way? Rage is destructive and has destroyed families, friendships and lives. Rage can also destroy us. While rage is destroying us we have no control over our circumstances or ourselves. Rage is also powerful from a spirit point of view. Just stop a moment and think of the intensity of rage. Your pulse races and heart races. Perhaps you head begins to pound and you begin to breathe heavily. Your body tenses and, if you have ever walked in on people in the middle of an argument or fight, haven't you noticed how the air just 'feels'?

Now think about when you meet someone new. Someone who makes you feel good when you think about him or her. You sigh more and breathe more deeply. You walk around daydreaming (even a little). You smile. All is well with the world. No one has ever said "You could cut the air with a knife" around someone like this. That is because caring is not harsh; it is soft.

The difference in energy generated is obvious. No good has ever come out of rage. When we cannot release our rage in a healthy manner, that is stress. Stress has been related to medical conditions such as high blood pressure, stroke and heart attack. Rage can affect the metabolism causing fluctuations in blood sugar levels and digestive problems.

When people think of Buddhism, many think of it as a passive religion. You sit, eat nuts, walk the countryside and do not concern yourself with the troubles of the world. It seems like a blasé and easy way to go about one's life. But Buddhism is one of the hardest belief systems to follow because its goal is to master the self. To try to understand this, let us look at the challenges of Buddhism. Buddhism accepts four principles called the FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS which state suffering simply is, suffering is the result of attachment to desires or wants or needs, suffering stops when our attachments to what we want stop and freedom from suffering can be found within the Eightfold Path. The Eightfold Path is a list of traits that, if acquired, will alleviate our sorrow, pain and suffering. These traits are: Right View (or perspective), Right Thought (correcting what we perceive as true into truth), Right Speech (mindful talking or clear communication), Right Action (doing what is right and just when called upon), Right Livelihood (making a living that does not involve the suffering of people or animals or is dishonest), Right Effort (not hesitating to work as hard as you have to), Right Mindfulness (being aware of what really matters) and Right Contemplation (gratitude, joy, desire to do right rather than wrong).

Now, we all want to run out and work on these don't we? As you can see, these are not easy characteristics to acquire.

We do not, however, have to remove ourselves from the world in order to benefit from this blueprint. But, we would benefit from the self-discipline we can learn if we were to apply these principles to our everyday life. I think we would all be better people. After all, to be human is to evolve!

If you look at these traits you can see how they do not leave much room for rage. Since they require so much work, there would be no time for rage. Within the practice of these disciplines, we can learn to live better, wholesome and more compassionate lives.

Meditation to a Buddhist is to annihilate the self for it is this self that is the root of our anguish. Once this is accomplished we can then connect with the greater, uniting force of which we are a part and be filled, like a cup, with this force. This greater force nurtures and refreshes and keeps one mindful of the joy and freedom found in detachment. To meditate in this manner, at the very least, is a refreshing respite from daily woes, stress and yes, rage.

To Buddha, anger and rage make us everything an enemy could want: an enemy would want us to be ugly (have you ever really seen a raging person look attractive?), sleepless (I cannot sleep if I am angry), stupid (ever said a dumb thing in anger?) and ineffective (haven't you ever made a wrong decision just because you were angry?).

Mastering these precepts can help us focus as we explore the shifting in perception so essential to spiritual development. I have found obtaining different values is a key factor in obtaining or regaining our spirit power as is developing appreciation for the things we have and creating our own peace within ourselves. The discipline of Buddhism can be used in any other school of spirituality.

Integral to Buddhism is the observation of animals and nature as found in the literature and poems. So integral were these observations, schools of self-defense have been fashioned after the behaviors of animals in Asia as martial arts. It is interesting to note that Yoga utilizes exercises fashioned after the movements of animals as well.

As we explore other areas I consider mystical, we will see how important animals and nature are to earth based practitioners. But one thing is certain. Utilizing the working values Buddhism offers can enable us to, if nothing else regroup our thoughts, priorities and purposes when the need arises regardless or whether or not we practice any "craft".

Since we will be looking at various ways in which we can begin to THINK DIFFERENTLY and the rationale behind it, mental discipline such as that acquired in Buddhism is a powerful tool. I find the Buddhist outline of how to live one's life beautifully simple and logical.

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Are you a published author? Would you like to post an excerpt of your book at The Writer's Life Blog? For more details, visit this link for more information!

Post Your Book Excerpts

As most of you are presumably writers, and I take it a few of you are even published, I'd like to invite you of the published kind to post your excerpts up on The Writer's Life Blog.

If you have a book out, whether it be print or ebook, or whether it be published with a NY publisher or self-published, I would like to give you an opportunity to post your excerpt on this blog and receive comments. Sound cool?

Here are the instructions:

Send an email to me (Dorothy) at thewriterslife(at)yahoo.com and please put "Post My Book Excerpt On Your Blog" in the subject line so I'll know why in the heck you emailed me. Not that I don't love getting emails, but with 16,897 unread emails (you think I'm joking?), I can sift it out quicker.

Then, in the body of your email, put:

YOUR NAME
YOUR WEBSITE ADDRESS
YOUR BOOK'S NAME
YOUR PUBLISHER'S NAME AND URL

Then....the very first chapter of your book. I don't care how short or long it is, but I'd need the whole chapter for full impact.

Each day, I'll post an excerpt in between the author interviews that are lined up.

These will be posted on a first come, first serve basis.

The reason I'm doing this? I am big on promoting as you know. Or, if you don't, I am. In my search for promotional venues, I found it hard to find places to post book excerpts. So, I've come up with one myself.

So, get those excerpts to me, and I look forward to reading them and posting them on The Writer's Life Blog!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

A Complete Guide to Promoting & Selling Your Self-Published eBook

Okay, gang, it's here! A COMPLETE GUIDE TO PROMOTING & SELLING YOUR SELF-PUBLISHED EBOOK has arrived. If you would like to make money from the comfort of your home with no overhead and 100% profit, it's time to start thinking about writing your own eBook and selling it yourself. Why yourself and not an e-publisher?

Glad you asked.

YOU can do everything they can do, and all the profits are yours alone.

And don't think you can't do it, either. I've done it, and I will continue doing it because while I'm waiting for the royalty checks to come in from my other books and while I'm waiting for a NY contract for yet other books, I'm making money.

How do you make money from a book others have to read over the Internet?

You are so inquisitive!

But, that's what I'm here for. My eBook, A COMPLETE GUIDE TO PROMOTING & SELLING YOUR SELF-PUBLISHED EBOOK, explains it all. It's a 120-page PDF-formatted guide to show you how to promote your ebooks better than an e-publisher can. How?

By implementing the steps I've outlined in the eBook, you are guaranteed sales. While it may take time to complete, you'll be able to sit back and enjoy that added revenue you didn't have before.

I mean, think about it. It's a win-win situation. You can't go wrong.

My eBook, priced at $19.99, is comparable to others selling for hundreds. You read that right. HUNDREDS. And people are buying them.

People love information they can't get over the Internet or other places, and people are buying them because this priceless information is condensed into one easy-to-read and easy-to-follow location. By opening up my ebook and following the directions in each section, you'll find ideas of where to promote your eBook you never thought of before.

Oh, how I wish this information would have been available when my first eBook was published by an e-publisher. The money I have lost can never be regained, but the knowledge I have accumulated since has enabled me to promote my own eBooks with guaranteed sales.

Dan Poynter, marketing guru and author of over 100 self-published eBooks says,
“It does not matter if you sell out to a large (NY) publisher or publish yourself, the author must do the promotion. It does not matter if you publish a pBook (paper) or an eBook, the book must be promoted. Promotion methods are not the same for pBooks and eBooks. You can promote your eBook for little or no cost. A COMPLETE GUIDE TO PROMOTING & SELLING YOUR SELF-PUBLISHED EBOOK shows you how to promote your electronic book.”

If you'd like to find out more about A COMPLETE GUIDE TO PROMOTING & SELLING YOUR SELF-PUBLISHED EBOOK, visit www.thewriterslife.net/promoteebook.html. For more tips on how to sell your eBook, visit my new promoting blog "eBook Promotion for Self-Published Authors" at www.selfpublishedebookpromotion.blogspot.com.

Happy sales to you!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Romancing the Soul - # 2 Bestselling Book at Zumaya Publications

Wonderful news...I just found out (thanks to Kathy Holmes!) that Romancing the Soul, my soul mate anthology, is # 2 bestselling book at Zumaya Publications! Can I get a woop-woop????

Check it out at http://www.zumayapublications.html/!