Books

Fight for the Oppressed

‘Speak up for those who have no voice, for the justice of all who are dispossessed. Speak up, judge righteously, and defend the cause of the oppressed and needy. ‘ ~ Proverbs 31:8-9 HCSB

There is no way to avoid the fact that Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) are dispossessed, oppressed, and in need of justice, along with economic and social equity. We also know (or are coming to realize) the realities of white privilege, which is, ultimately, at the root of systemic and institutionalized racism in our nation.

The verse quoted above is the advice of a mother to her son, the king, the ruler of the people and the highest authority in the land.

‘It is not for kings, Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine or for rulers to desire beer. Otherwise, they will drink, forget what is decreed, and pervert justice for all the oppressed. ‘ Proverbs 31:4-5 HCSB

We have been witness to, perhaps even complicit in, the perverted justice of the oppressed by the way we have supported or allowed the “rulers,” the people in power in our country – whether they be police or politicians corporate heads – the billionaires and millionaires, to manipulate, dictate, and enforce the laws and the tenets of Constitutional rights. Over the past week, especially the past few days, we have seen the evidence of this perversion of justice by the man who would be king, if he could.

‘“But woe to you Pharisees! You give a tenth of mint, rue, and every kind of herb, and you bypass justice and love for God. These things you should have done without neglecting the others.’ Luke 11:42 HCSB

As Jesus followers we have to be careful to ensure we are not placing things above people. Yes, we are to take care of things and steward them responsibly. That’s just what we’re supposed to be doing in the course of daily living. However, we are called to go above and beyond that and make justice for people, a form of loving God, a priority.

So, how do we do that?

Some of us have little to give in terms of material wealth and possessions. Some of us have compromised physical and/or mental health to be able to engage in “active” ways. Some of us are overwhelmed with the daily responsibilities and obligations we experience. Some of us are fighting for our own survival in ways we may not have shared with others.

In these instances, it may feel like we have little to nothing to offer. The truth is, we each have something to offer and something we can do.

First, we can educate ourselves. Research BIPOC writers and authors, filmmakers and educators. Find their books, blogs, movies, and classes.

Second, we can speak out and up on whatever platform we have, whether it’s on social media or in conversations with others.

Third, we can shop and eat at BIPOC owned businesses in support of their communities.

Fourth, volunteer. Whether it’s to make phone calls, write letters, sign petitions, or even provide office support, even if it’s only for an hour a week, it matters.

As always, we can pray. Pray for justice, equity, and protection of our BIPOC brothers and sisters. Pray for justice. Pray for the community, governmental, and corporate leaders to make the changes in themselves and in their areas of influence.

Here are some places to start:

 

Book Reading list

Netflix Anti-racism Movie Calendar

Netflix movies for anitracism

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Role Models and Changing Perceptions

Having grown up, essentially growing myself up, dissociated and disconnected emotionally from my mother, peers, and experiencing no sense of family or community, having role models has always been a bit of a hit or miss challenge for me.

My earliest role models were found in the books I read. I remember knowing that I was reading on fifth grade level in third grade because I was reading through The Waltons series of books. Now, I only recall what those books were about because of the television series, which can still be seen in syndication on feel good, vintage cable/satellite television channels. This series and others in the same genre, like the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, where the authors were fictionalizing real life and telling stories of kids who were experiencing life in a slower paced, less industrialized, time of community, family, and positive character, taught me life and people were not always what my experiences seemed to be teaching me.

As I grew older and my reality got more and more difficult to cope with, I got into the childhood mystery series starting with Encyclopedia Brown, the Hardy Boys, and Nancy Drew. I loved the Bobbsey Twins stories. Child characters who were mostly left to their own devices, using their intellect to solve problems, figure out how to overcome threats, reveal truth, and bring justice to unjust circumstances became my obsessions.

As an adolescent girl in the 1980’s I fell under the influence and sway of pulp romance books. Dreaming of exotic locales by women who were caught in traditional roles and traditional thinking, but trying to discover who they were and wanted to be, swept up in the worlds and actions of the men whose lives, passions, and wills seemed to overpower their own. Often, these books became physical weight to carry in my little white wicker purse and use as a weapon to lash out and punish the haters, teasers, and bullies who enjoyed getting me discombobulated and emotionally off balance.

I escaped to the library and discovered the fantasy worlds of Xanth and Pern as created and described by Piers Anthony and Anne McCaffery. I immersed myself in Arthurian legend and alternative worlds melding magic and science, spiritual and secular philosophies. The characters I was drawn to and learning from were those who were coping with the displacement and confusion of not fitting into worlds they were thrust into but didn’t feel part of and/or living in worlds suddenly full of danger and conflict from things previously unknown or relegated to myth and make believe.

By the time I was a young adult, parenting my son from mid-late adolescence, I started identifying and connecting with people who had what I wanted and appeared to have overcome dire and drastic life circumstances, trauma, and drama of their own. Seeking people who I could meet and interact with in person, within my community through church, college, and community services.

Twenty years later, I’m still learning from everyday role models I meet and interact with, here online in the blogging community: writers, mothers, fathers, mental health professionals, persons experiencing mental health challenges, victims, survivors, and thrivers. Pastors, teachers, coaches, trainers. People who are in recovery and those seeking recovery.

Yesterday, I met a woman I am seeking a mentoring relationship with, because she is doing what I want to do. She is functioning and operating as an advocate and guide for people who have experienced abuse to help them move through the lifelong impacts and consequences of having experienced those things, to find their voice and move into growing intentional and authentic lives based in their own value and identity. She is doing this after having gone through her own experiences of trauma and brokenness, from a life of childhood trauma to professional success, to personal breakdown. She has what I want and she is freely and willingly giving of herself to help me, and others, build and grow into that place inside of myself and for my life.

Her name is Davonna Livingston. She is the founder of Changing Perceptions and author of Voices Behind The Razorwire: From Victims to Survivors, Stories of Healing & Hope.

In the meeting she and I had yesterday, she shared something with me I didn’t know about myself. She had spoken of how she had connected with the various subjects in her book, through seeing herself reflected in their eyes and recognizing the shared connections between her and them. She shared how these women who were convicted criminals, often serving life sentences, had become her lifeline and support network while she was working through her healing and recovery process. I noted what an empowering thing that had to have been for them considering the “class” differences between her professional and educational status and upper/middle-class standing being connected and relating to these women as personal peers. Toward the end of the meeting, I asked what she had seen in my eyes.

She told me that she had seen sadness and a sense of being lost, during the moments  when I was sharing my origins story. Then, she told me that changed and shifted to excitement and hope, that my entire demeanor had shifted and changed when I began talking about what I’ve already been doing, including starting and writing this blog.

This is the role model who is building into my life now, in the midst of many other role models who are showing and sharing their lives, their stories, and their courage every day in the forums we are connected with each other in online and in social media, as well as in the seats around me at weekly church meetings, group discussions, public transit, and walking down the street.

For more discussion on Role Models and the Molding of Personality, check out The Seekers Dungeon.

Reader Interactive: Would you help me write my book, please?

Dear readers,
As any of you who have been following along may know, I’ve been participating in 28 Days to a New Me accountability groups on Facebook since May, after joining Dream Stoker Nation a month or so earlier. You may also be aware that one of my dreams is to write professionally and help support my family through my writing.

The time has come. Based on some recent conversations – about fears, dreams, and such: I have committed to taking action to make that dream into a reality.

For the AUGUST 2013 28 Days, I will develop a book. It will be based on my writing from this blog and do two things: 1) Tell the story of my journey and progress from the basket case I felt I was, Dec 2011, to the person I am now. 2) some of the significant things I learned, actions I took, and choices I’ve made that helped me grow and change.

I will do this by going back through and reading my blog from the beginning, at least three posts each day, and pulling out the significant event, presenting problem, outcome, and lesson learned.

By the end of August I should have the framework/outline in place for putting the book together.

What this means is that I might not be posting here as much. I am requesting two things from you, the readers of Human in Recovery.

First, for those of you on your own journeys of healing, recovery and growth, learning how to manage and cope with whatever conditions, compulsions, diagnoses, hurts, habits, etc., if you write – blog, journal, or notes on napkins – please consider sharing part of your journey, here, on Human in Recovery. This goes for anyone – artists, photographers, poets, musicians, crafters, scrapbookers, jewelry makers, walkers, runners, swimmers, butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers. I believe that sharing our experiences helps us realize our strengths and gives hope to others, as well as to ourselves. As I have been growing along this journey, I have realized the healing power of being in community. Many of you have participated in helping me feel like an accepted part of your online community . While I move forward into new things, I envision this space becoming more of a community hub and not solely about me, my thoughts and my journey. So, I am asking you to join me in this progression and add your voice to mine. If that scares you to think about, that’s okay. I’m scared too. But, action in the face of fear is called courage. So, step into and grow your courage. Let’s do this, together. Leave a comment or go to the Connect to Kina page and we’ll create something amazing together.

The second thing I’m asking your help with is to let me know if there were particular posts that were relevant and helpful to you. I want to find out what it was that you connected with and how it may have influenced your journey. For those who have joined us a little more recently, I’m interested in the same information from you. Having this feedback will help the book to be. The intention of the book isn’t just to tell my story and hopefully earn a little money to help support my family, it is also to share my experience, hope, and strength with others who struggle as I have, who haven’t yet connected and been able to apply the lessons and information about healing, growing, and changing their lives to be more than they believe it can be.

Certainly, I haven’t become an expert example and I still have much to learn and grow in, but I never thought I would reach this place of self-acceptance, reconciliation between myself, my past, and key people along the way. That is what I want to help guide others who are stuck in similar ways to know and see that they CAN move out if that place, no matter how long they’ve been stuck.

I thank you all for following along on my journey. I am grateful for those of you who have offered encouragement, insight, and perspective along the way, you’ve helped me become who I am now. You are amazing souls!

Blessings,
Kina

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Athena Brady’s Febuary 2013 Book Review’s

You’ve met my friend, Athena Brady before, when I posted the Author Interview back in December 2012. She is a wise and beautiful spirit with a generous and giving heart. She pays forward her gifts and love by sharing what others have written in a weekly post that compiles favorite blogs she has read. She also pays it forward by reading and reviewing books for up and coming authors.

I have had the privilege of reading one of the books she reviews this month,

    “Sorrows Fall”

by Davonne Burns, and could not have offered a better review. You can read the first chapter here.

Rohan is the enthusiastic and insightful author of,

    “The 7 things That Made me Genuinely & Irreversibly Happy: And How They Can Do The Same For You,”

and his Author Interview will be published as soon as I have a computer at home to work from again.

So, while I while away my time and twiddle my thumbs without my computer, please visit Athena’s blog and explore the reviews and treasures she is sharing with us all.

Athena Brady’s Febuary 2013 Book Review’s

This month I have a very varied mix of authors whose work I would like to share with you. I have romance self-help & spirituality with a generous smattering of sci-fi fantasy. I have thoroughly enjoyed my book hopping, from one book to the next.

I found that each of these books offered something different, interesting and thought provoking.

Giving Something Back 6

It is really week six? The weeks have flown by since I decided to do these weekly posts, where I honor my fellow bloggers out there. I find there is no shortage of talent, the problem is choosing what to use and what not to use. I have been really busy catching up with e mails and writing after my short break in Holland. I was particularly touched by my visit to Anne Frank’s house; you can read about that here

This week I have found you some fabulous blogs, which I know will touch you one way or another. I have my usual four and then a blogger for peace 2013.

Stephen L Brayton: Author Interview

Stephen L. BraytonStephen L. Brayton and I came to be acquainted after I published the Author Interviews in December 2012.  He is a member of WANATribe and friends with Athena Brady. He is a thrice published author as well as being a Fifth Degree Black Belt in taekwondo operating his own club in the American Midwestern state of Iowa. He describes himself in this way:

I’m a reader; a writer; an instructor; a graphic designer; a lover of books, movies, wine, women, music, fine food, good humor, sunny summer days spent hiking or fishing; and I’m a catnip drug dealer to my thirteen pound cat, Thomas.

In addition to his other activities and vocations, Stephen operates two blogs:

Brayton’s Book Buzz, where he reviews books of all genres.

Brayton’s Briefs, where he discusses writing and interviews other authors.

Direct links to his own published works can be found on his self-titled site, Stephen L. Brayton. This is where you can discover more about his books, Alpha, Beta, and Night Shadows.

As it seems to happen with all these interviews, this is a more in-depth read and will take a little more time. So, if you haven’t got the time now, please bookmark it to come back later with your favorite seasonal beverage and just sit and hang out with us a while. In the meantime, Alpha, is available on Amazon in either paperback or Kindle.

Q: What genres and authors do you like and what do you like about them?

Mysteries, thrillers, horror. I also enjoy the books relating tales of somebody’s pet, a saved animal or an owl and how that animal brings comfort and joy to the owner or others. I read to escape into adventure, to solve the puzzle, to laugh and be entertained. A good story, for me, has a bit of action, maybe some humor and develops the characters in a way you can watch the progression throughout the story and maybe make a connection, in some small way, to them. I latched onto Ellery Queen, Rex Stout, and Erle Stanley Gardner early. I’m fascinated by the use of language and description from different decades. Compare these with authors like Carter Brown, Day Keene and other pulp fiction writers.

I think what makes these and other authors worthwhile is that they are consistent with their characters. You know Nero Wolfe will always act the same way in every book, or Della Street will always have the same attitude with each Perry Mason novel. This allows the reader to enjoy the novels more. Also, in many cases, the reader will see, especially in spy novels or murder mysteries, that the good guys aren’t all good all the time and the bad guys-with exceptions, of course-aren’t all bad all the time.

Q: Have you always been a writer or known you wanted to be an author? When did you realize you had a book to share with the rest of us?

As a child I’d write skits for my sister and I to perform. I also wrote shorts stories, but I didn’t get serious about writing until after college when I completed a three part introduction to a comic book. Soon after, I wrote the first in what I wanted to evolve into a series concerning my high school classmates (fictionalized, of course). When I moved to Oskaloosa and started martial arts, the writing bug hit me again and I began a new project that I would eventually see to publication.

Q: What inspires you and influences what and how you write?

When I started writing the first draft of Alpha back in the middle 90’s, I thought about using a character I had created for some short stories I wrote in my younger days. However, seeing all of the wonderful and beautiful women involved in martial arts I changed the character to a female. I’ve taken my training and what I’ve learned from those women and put many of those characteristics into her.

Of course, I get a lot of support from my parents. Years ago my dad told me I should do something with my writing as I’d completed several short stories. He still wants me to submit the series of children’s stories I wrote.

Q: Is there a particular place or space you go to for inspiration or writing?

Normally, I write in the middle of the night at work when there is nobody around. It’s quiet and I can write for hours. During the spring and summer I’ll go out to the park. The outside, the fresh air, the sunshine all work wonders. If I could find a way to pack my writing gear and my fishing gear out to a lake or pond, and do it all efficiently with no mess, that would be perfect.

Q: Is writing your only creative outlet or are there other creative endeavors or interests you pursue or practice?

As mentioned earlier, I train in martial arts, specifically, taekwondo. I earned my Fifth Degree Black Belt in 2007 and started getting serious, again, about training and exercising, last year. I’ve worked hard to lose weight, build muscle and stamina. During some of the tough moments in my regimen, I think about what my main character, Mallory Petersen, would do. How she would look at me. What encouragement she would give. Sometimes I train to impress her, to make her proud, if that makes sense. I mentioned fishing earlier which helps me to relax. Sometimes, if I have no responsibilities for the evening, I’ll find either a campsite or drive to the river and spend time building a campfire. Just to relax and not think about anything of importance. I may contemplate a story idea or a scene, but my whole goal is just to be away from everybody and everything and just relax. I love the smell of smoke in my clothes and the fire crackling with the water nearby.

Q: How do you navigate and integrate the various roles and responsibilities in your life?

Sometimes I feel as if I’m rushed because I don’t plan ahead as well as I should. My schedule has me working through the night, sleeping during the day and three nights a week I have classes to instruct or a writers’ group to attend. Somewhere in the mix I have to eat and write and read. My days off aren’t regular so visits with family aren’t as often as I would like. Sometimes during my days off I spend the entire time at home, holed up with the cat playing couch potato. It’s tough, but this year I’ve determined to change things. Try to get rid of the clutter.

Actually, I’ve done a lot better job of developing a strategy for marketing for my books. With the second book I sweated through a blog tour that had me stressed. This time I’ve spread things out a bit, done more personal appearances. I can do that since this latest book is a paperback and not an eBook. I’m actually having fun with this one.

I think that’s the key. Having fun. I have fun instructing kids and adults in taekwondo – and believe me, there are days when I’d rather stay home – and I always feel good at the end of the evening when classes are over. I feel good when I’m done with my workouts because I know I’ve improved my health. I try to have fun in my job, as boring as the hours can be, by working on ways to become more efficient.

Q: How did the journey of writing and publishing this book grow or change you?

When I read the first couple chapters to a critique group back in 2000, I realized I had a lot to learn about writing. However, I had already done many things listed in the how-to books. For instance, I created a character profile for Mallory before I read it in a book that I should have one. It just made sense to me.

I learn from other writers since we’re all going through a similar process. Recently, from my latest critique group, I realized I had become too comfortable with Mallory, and have written her in a way that isn’t believable. I forgot she has failures and worries and does suffer. She’s isn’t superwoman and I can’t write her that way. I have to show she gets hurt and can come back from sometimes horrific events.

Q: How would you describe your life’s journey from a Healing and Recovery perspective?

Trying to find the right path for both. I’ve heard about, read about, and listen to many people’s opinions about the paths to happiness and contentment and though I agree with them I really haven’t found the right path for me. I’m constantly healing and recovering from one situation or another, much of it financially related.

Yes, I have God (although the relationship isn’t as good as it should be), and family, a few friends, but nobody really close to me. It’s difficult to express myself emotionally unless through my writing. Journals entries and stories. I’ve joked in other blogs about hoping pretty girls will knock on my door and invite them to say hello at me at book signings or conferences, but the truth is, I’d like someone special to hang around with, to share experiences with. My cat, as much of a buddy as he is, just doesn’t cut it. My family and friends go only so far. There are many times when I wish to be alone and will even leave town to be alone. I don’t want to be around people. But I remember how happy I was when I was in a relationship.

It’s tough and sometimes I don’t handle it very well. I’m smart enough not to delve into destructive practices (i.e. drug/alcohol) because they won’t solve the problem. But as I mentioned earlier, I’m still looking for the right solution. I’m the only one who can change things, but a little help from a girlfriend might make it easier. I see others with families and couples happy together and I want that.

Or maybe I’m full of crap and don’t know what I’m talking about and should learn to live and be happy with the way things are. I’m making light of the above. I could be right or wrong about the whole thing. See, I’m still looking for the right path.

9) Where did you get your strength and encouragement from when going through the experiences that brought you to where you are today?

A little help from friends and family and God. I’ve also learned not to be too disappointed when people don’t assist after they’ve offered or come through when expected. I’ve probably disappointed many people so I can’t come down on those who fail me. I work around it, try to make things happen by my actions.

I have a friend from high school. I won’t mention his name but I’ve turned to him and poured out my heart on several occasions. The best thing he has done for me is to listen and give it to me straight. Usually, what he tells me are things I already know but reinforcing. Maybe afterward I’ll feel better, and the next I’ll still falter, but the no nonsense words from him always help.

Q: What do you want readers to take away with them from reading your words?

My Mallory Petersen stories are action mysteries. There is some humor in the midst of the serious subject matters. Mallory revels in the highs and goes into a tailspin in the lows. I’ve taken her to some pretty devastating depths physically and emotionally. She suffers physical pain and emotional scars. However, she has a support team of students, instructors, an office manager, cops, and a boyfriend, all who are loyal and honest and will never let her down. She has an inner strength that has gotten her out of some tough scrapes and situations and though she may be affected by them, sometimes long term, she comes out on top.

I envy Mallory and want to be like her. I hope people can see what she endures and can look at their own world and to discover their own support team. Find their own inner strength. You may not win all of the time and may lose loved ones or friends. You may be criticized and shunned by your actions. But if you can come out on top and have a personal victory, that’s what counts. That’s what I teach in my taekwondo classes-a personal victory doesn’t have to shine or get you famous or rich, but it’s a victory nonetheless and you should be proud of it. Mallory faces daily challenges and sometimes she is hurt by what life throws at her. You face them too. Mallory also has a number of victories to celebrate and so should you.

Q: What other projects can we expect to see from you in the future or are already out there?

Well, my next Mallory book takes her down to her lowest level yet. This time, she won’t recover as quickly and probably will have problems for years to come because of what happens.

I’m also in the editing/rewrite stages of a mystery tentatively called New Year Gone, about a world weary PI looking for a missing teenager. This book was a complete change of characters from others I’ve written. Subtle humor, a lot of soul searching by the main character, his insights into the world and the people around him.

Oh, and I mustn’t forget the Mallory Petersen short stories to start in the May issue of Taekwondo Times Magazine.

This concludes this week’s Author Interview with Stephen L Brayton. I hope you all enjoyed reading it and will visit Stephen on his blogs and website. Also, please check out his books, specifically Alpha on Amazon.

ALPHA medium

 

Calling All Authors

Author Interview Questions and Submission Process.

In December 2012 I had the privilege to do Author Interviews with three newly published friends and blogging acquaintances of mine. I found that it was something I really enjoyed and was an opportunity for me to introduce new blogs, new books, and new writers to my readers here.  So, I have decided to make it a regular feature. How regular a feature will depend on how many authors decide to let me interview them.

If you, or anyone you know, is a published author (self or otherwise), with a personal tale of growth, healing, and recovery that you are willing to share, please click the link above or share the link. I would love to hear from you or them and work together to put together a quality interview to be featured here on Human In Recovery.

Blessings,

Kina

Meditation: Renewing My Mind

I know I said my focus this month was going to be on the first step and doing the work on it. It’s what’s linear and logical and fits my human, process oriented self. However, since I already have a Higher Power, according to my understanding, I also know that prayer and meditation need to be part of my continual and ongoing process, despite the fact it is the 11th Step:

Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out

It is a component I have consistently left out of my life as I tend to focus on the choppy waves of the stormy seas of my life, both internal and external. So, I will be including this part of my process here, since blogging seems to be the most consistently constructive part of my recovery journey.

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“…I am fully attentive of you. I see you with a steady eye, because My attention span is infinite. I know and understand you completely. My thoughts embrace you in everlasting Love…” ~ Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace In His Presence, January 1

If I believe this to be true, then I can stop trying to understand myself through the damaged lenses of others around me and the broken reflection I see in my minds eye. I don’t need to seek attention or strive to be known, since, through no effort of my own, I am already known and understood.

Jeremiah 29:11 I say this because I know what I am planning for you,” says the Lord. “I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future ~ NCV

This was a promise God made to the Israelites after they were carried off to Babylon and they had their false prophesies and hopes dashed by finding out they were going to be there for 70 years. Settle in and make a good life where you are. Bloom where you are planted. “I know the plans I have for you,” says God. Don’t believe the soothing lies you want to hear.

As they needed to do, so do I. I have to deal with life as it is in the here and now, not pine for what was lost or waste today’s opportunities on false maybes of the future. Doing what needs to be done today carries me into what God has planned for the future.

Romans 12:2 Do not be shaped by this world; instead be changed within by a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to decide what God wants for you; you will know what is good and pleasing to him and what is perfect. ~ NCV

“Do not be shaped by this world.” I have already been shaped by it – my habits of thought and behavior have already been molded by my experiences and relationships.

Yet, I can see some of the ways I am being changed from within by God’s love.

Abba,
My thoughts are not yet Your thoughts. Bring my mind into alignment with Yours. Heal my emotions to allow me to think and act according to Your mind and Your will, fulfilling Your purpose. Help me remember to live today, letting go of that which is past and releasing expectations of the future.

Yesterday, Dr. Wayne W. Dyer asked, “How are you going to use your present moments this year?”

Sean Paul Mahoney: Author Interview

27042_1355362812997_3806118_nSean Paul Mahoney is one of the first bloggers I “met” and started “following” (because of his post about Chicago and cheesy 80’s love songs) about the time I began this blog about my own journey of healing and recovery. He is the fabulously creative, funny, and glittery gay best friend every straight, frumpy, and self-stifled woman should have. He has an amazing story to tell and he tells it with grace, humor, and great, big, sparkly, disco balls. He has written something for everyone, but especially for those who are striving to make it through the holidays with humor and sobriety. “A Tough Cookie Christmas” is available at Smashwords.com and it can be downloaded and read on Kindles, iPads, smarthphones and computer desktops. And starting this weekend, shoppers can get it for just 99 cents!

Q: What genres and authors do you like and what do you like about them?

My parents used to own a bookstore and I worked there for years, so I sort of like everything. I’ll go through phases. I read lots of memoirs before starting UrTheInspiration. I thought “Guts” by Kristen Johnston was fabulous and “Queer and Pleasant Danger” by Kate Bornstein was terrific too. Nobody talks about mental illness and addiction with more humor and honesty than Carrie Fisher. She kind of created the humorous recovery memoir genre and I hope to humbly follow in her footsteps. I love fiction too. I don’t know if I will ever read a novel better than Junot Diaz’ “Brief and Wondrous life of Oscar Wao“. It blows my mind how good that book is. I love Raymond Carver. His short stories have saved me over and over again and are the kind of thing I’ll probably re-read until I die.

Q: Have you always been a writer or known you wanted to be an author?

I think so. I grew obsessed with Shel Silverstein, Jim Henson, Russel Hoban, Maurice Sendak and Judy Blume – all storytellers who used different mediums. I think telling stories is just something I always wanted to do, but when I was really young I didn’t know it was writing that would help me achieve that goal. Whether it was creating plays with my stuffed animals or drawing my own comic books, I think I started practicing telling stories at a really young age. When I actually started writing – poems, stories, journals – I knew had found “it”, the thing I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

Q: Do you have a favorite place to think or a special space where you think and create?

The shower! Hands down. All my ideas come from a hot shower. I only wish they made waterproof laptops. I also love walking and many of my ideas spring up after a long walk.

Q: What inspires you and influences what and how you write?

I’m a big fan of art, theater, movies, books, and pop culture in general. Those things always inspire me and are always referenced in my work. I grew up watching tons of TV, listening to hours of music, and seeing hundreds of movies. So, it’s part of who I am and I have fun observing that world even in the most remote sense. This is reflected in what I write. Travel inspires me too. Seeing how other people live in different places can only make me a better writer. I try to take any chance I get to be exposed to something other than my own little bubble. Emotional mysteries and transformations are what drive my work. How do people come back from really dark places? How do we live on a crowded planet that can feel so lonely and still find love? What’s the next chapter AFTER we’ve recovered from something awful? These are kind of things I find really interesting and want my work to try and answer.

Q: How would you describe your journey from alcoholism and addiction?

A total blessing. I know that sounds like Pollyanna garbage but it is the truth. All of the hard times-divorce, alcoholism, addiction, HIV- have turned me into a stronger and more compassionate person. Plus for the first time ever, I really like who I am and I sincerely want to use my creative outlets to help other people.

Q: When did you realize you had a book, a story to share with the rest of us?

With “A Tough Cookie Christmas,” it was just one of those inspired things. I hadn’t really planned on it and the whole process from inception to release was about a week. The e-book revolution is awesome like that! It’s so empowering to have an idea and just publish it without going through all the channels and self-doubt. I felt compelled, after hearing so many people I know in recovery talk about dealing with the holidays sober, to write about my own experience.

Q: Where did you get your strength and encouragement from when going through the experiences that helped you give life to this book?

This is going to sound corny or like some hip hop artist at the Grammys but really it all comes from my Higher Power. Without my own version of God, I don’t know how well I’d create things. I tried for many years and just stalled out over and over again. So with faith, an incredible family, a reliable support system, and a truly wonderful husband, I’m able to get through the tough stuff and hopefully share those experiences with others.

Q: How did the journey of writing and getting this book publish change you?

Being an addict and alcoholic, so much of my life has been living in denial or living in lies. So I aim to just tell the truth when I write. Even if it’s a play or fiction, it has to come from a real place. This book, recipes and all, does that. It’s just me and my observations. If it resonates – fantastic! If not? That’s okay, too. I feel like it’s authentic, which is really all you can ask for. As far as the publishing journey goes, I self-published and it was really fun and educational. It takes a lot of patience and work, but it’s super creative in the sense that you have the ultimate say in how it looks and reads. I think it changed me in the fact that now I know what an incredible amount of work it is! I now have a lot of respect for indie authors who’ve built their own little empires.

Q: What do you want readers to take away with them from reading your words?

Oh gosh. I try to keep my goals with readers simple. If they were able to smile or laugh or feel a little hope after reading my stuff, then I’ve done my job.

Q: Do you have other creative avocations that you are passionate about or express yourself through?

I love cooking and baking so I was thrilled to add that element into “A Tough Cookie Christmas“. Cooking is a really meditative and relaxing form of self expression for me. For a long time I wished I could sing or play guitar. Sadly, I’ve come to the realization that I’ll never be Prince or Stevie Nicks. But I’m totally okay with being a writer who can also make an amazing chocolate chip cookie.

Q: Was this a one time project or do we have more to look forward to?

So much more to come! My new play, The Singing Room opens in April. My collection of essays will be out next year too. And I really loved the process of publishing short stories in e-book form that I have a few more I want to publish next year too. My blog UrTheInspiration is nearly a year old and I’ll still be writing over there as well. Plus another play and a pilot for a TV show that I’ve had in my brain for a long time. That should keep me out of trouble for the next year (hopefully)

tough cookie one

Here is a taste of what you will get inside:

Now, any baker worth their parchment paper has one or two cookie recipes they can bust out by memory in a moment’s notice. I, too, have a fail-proof cookie recipe stored in my brain, just in case. But If we’re going to split hairs, my cookie throwdown recipe is actually a bar. I know. An alcoholic who’s memorized a bar. What are the odds? Anyway, here it is:

Your Favorite Bar

Crumb Topping

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1 cup chopped pecans

1 cup butter, softened

1 egg

Filling

¾ cup of preserves, jam, cooked fruit, melted chocolate, etc.

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease a 8- or 9-inch square baking pan.

Combine all crumb mixture ingredients in large bowl and beat at low speed, scraping bowl often, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside 2 cups of the crumb mixture. Press the remaining crumbs in your greased up pan. Spread your filling within ½ of edge. I like these with apricot or raspberry preserves. But go ahead get creative. You want melted caramels and cooked apple slices? Go for it. You like walnuts more than pecans? Get down with your bad self. You have a half of a can of cherry pie filling in your fridge that you need to use? Rock it out. Just keep the proportions the same and you can do whatever your crazy cookie-making ass desires. It’s called ‘Your Favorite Bar’ for a reason, boo. Crumble those remaining crumbs over the filling.Bake 40-50 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely; cut into bars.

Athena Brady: Author Interview

I was recently honored by a friend of mine from the blogosphere. We met in June when I first found out about and joined WANATribe, a social networking site for creatives, especially writers and aspiring authors.

Since I’m “just a blogger,” I wasn’t sure I fit there or belonged (nothing like being a 13 year old girl in the body of a 43 year old woman). Athena was one of the first to engage and interact with me. She was such an inviting, encouraging and nurturing soul. Partially due to her support and acceptance of me I founded a tribe(group) specifically for bloggers.

All along the way she has challenged and mentored me. She was the one who introduced me to the Ultimate Blog Challenge. Her steadfast friendship and discerning nature have enabled her to know what to say at exactly the moment I needed to hear it.

Now, her first book is available on Amazon for Kindle. She has given me the honor of showcasing her work and introducing her to my virtual friends and family of the blogosphere.

We did a little Q & A session, via email, and I got the opportunity to get to know her better. I’m excited to share this wonderful lady with you.

Q: I’m always curious about what other people like to read. What genres and authors do you like and what do you like about them?

I like a wide range of books from many different genres. I like chick lit, romance, sci fi, autobiographies, non-fiction, fiction, yps books, self-help, and spirituality. I have many favourite authors: Martina Cole, she writes gritty crime stories and is particularly good at getting right inside her characters (she will even have you feeling sorry for the bad guys and is a very skilled writer); I read all of Neale Donald Walsch’s books years ago and they stay with me even today; I love Deepak Chopra; one of my special favourites is Paulo Coelho, who writes such amazing stories and weaves such wisdom into them.

Q: Have you always been a writer or known you wanted to be an author?

Yes, I have wanted to be a writer since I was a little girl. However, life got in the way and there never seemed to be time.

I picked my writing up and put it down throughout my life. When I was younger I didn’t have the confidence in myself. As I got older and had a family, I felt it was self-indulgent; I felt selfish for putting my own needs first and gradually I forgot about my writing.

It wasn’t ’til my family were grown, and I moved in the countryside of West Wales UK, that I had the peace and tranquillity to write and think of myself and what I wanted from life. I decided to cut my job down to part-time and use the time to write.

I ambled on like that for a couple of years, joining a writing site and submitting my articles. I got good feedback and earned a very small amount of money. This lifted me and made me think, “Maybe I could be a writer after all.” As I look back, I think I was afraid of failure, of ruining my perfect dream. I wasn’t sure I could take the reality of not making it.

Then I thought, “I have always faced my fears, why not now?” It was, I suppose, because there was so much attached to the outcome for me, emotionally. I decided that I didn’t want to be an old lady who regretted the chance she never took, in later life. One thing I have learnt from older people is that they do not regret the things they did but the things they did not do.

Q: Do you have a favorite or special space where you think and create?

Yes, I live in a log cabin and I love to, when I can, weather permitting, write on the porch. At other times I write in the lounge on the dining room table. When I need to think, I go a beach not far from me. I find it centres and grounds me.

Q: What inspires you and influences what and how you write?

I find my inspiration from life, from what is important to me. This, my first book, “Thoughts on Life” is a collection of short articles, about various issues we all face in life.

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    Excerpt

Hope Speaks

Hope is a precious thing, without it we are lost in a world where no one cares.

Yet with it we can move mountains. It inspires us onto better things and lifts us up where we should be. We have dreams and goals when we have hope in our lives and we can take others with us, as it speaks directly to our souls. It enables us to fulfil our potential and puts joy in our hearts.

What happens to people who do not possess hope? They have nothing to strive for and are lost wandering through the desert of life, parched, lifeless and directionless. How hard that must be for them to cope with this, on a daily basis. Where are these people? Well, they are everywhere around us; they could be the person sitting next to you, your neighbour, friend, or a member of your own family.

One of the greatest gifts we can give each other is hope, for it is love in action. A selfless love, that asks nothing for itself but gives unconditionally. So today, if you can, take a little time to give the gift of hope. As it is when we reach out to each other with genuine love, that miracles occur.

The people who read my work inspired me saying I had helped them, influenced them, and helped them to understand things from a different perspective. Every time someone comments on something I have written, it lifts me and inspires me to reach deeper inside myself and share what I have found.

Q: Where did you get your strength and encouragement from when going through the experiences that helped you give birth to this book?

I have a strong faith in God, the universe, or whatever you prefer to call it. It has helped me through the rough times in my life. I can empathise with a lot of things people struggle with, as I have been through some of them myself.

Q: When did you realize you had a book, a story to share with the rest of us?

I met a woman who opened her soul to me. She told me things she had never told another person. It was a precious gift, for her to give me her trust, as she had been hurt so much in the past. This lady wanted to make a difference, despite what had happened to her. She wanted to turn a negative experience into a positive one. She wanted to help others, who were on the same journey. Out of respect for her family she wants remain anonymous. Susan (the character) was healing and wanted them to heal also.

This book will be out in early 2013 and is called “Broken”. We have put both our heart and souls into this book and have taken many years to write it. It is my gift to her and hers to other people on similar journeys. Here is a short synopsis of Susan’s story.

This is Susan’s story of her journey from despair to healing. Susan begins to experience a feeling that leads to childhood memories of sexual abuse in middle age. Memories she has no recollection of, that begin to haunt her in the present. She embarks on a journey of discovery, which challenges everything she thought about her life previously. There are times she thinks her dark night of the soul will destroy her and all her closest relationships. Once she has opened Pandora’s Box, it cannot be closed until she has come full circle. This book is a gripping, tense and sad narrative that you will not be able to put down, until you have finished it. A must read for those who dare to explore the grey and darker areas of life.

Q: How did the journey of writing and getting this book publish change you?

I have written these two books concurrently. “Thoughts on Life” is really a market tester and I plan to publish a series of three, alongside my third book. This series is a compilation of articles from my blog, put into an e-book.

I want to be able to reach as many readers as possible. I don’t want money to be a barrier to these “Thoughts on Life” books. So I have told people they can see all these articles for free on my website. I have also added that I need funds to survive and those who can afford it to please buy the books.

I believe in human nature and that people do the right thing. Some people feel I am mad for doing this, but I feel my readers will not let me down.

Book three is the book I am writing now; it has a working title of “Prisoner of Love.” It is about a woman who falls in love and her partner has an affair. It is about the emotions these three people go through and what they learn about themselves along the way. It is a book that will really stretch me as a writer as I tell the story from three different perspectives. It also will be released in 2013.

Q: What do you want readers to take away with them from reading your words?

I would like my readers to know that they are not alone, that there are others going through what they are going through. If they find something new to think about or something that assists them in their journey through life, I will have done my job well. There is nothing better for a writer, than for their readers to enjoy their books.

And that, ladies and gentlemen concludes my very first author interview. Please visit Athena’s website, http://www.athenabrady.co.uk/, and get a copy of her inaugural e-book, “Thoughts on Life” on Amazon for Kindle.

Please let me know what you thought of the interview and if you would like to see more in the future.