Author Interviews

The Liebster Award: Celebrating noteworthy bloggers

I have been blogging here at Human In Recovery, on and off, since December 2011. During that time I have participated in The Ultimate Blog Challenge, as I am doing this month.

Something which seems to happen during these challenges is bloggers giving each other blogging awards. These awards build community and networks. It boosts traffic and is an opportunity for bloggers to connect to a greater audience. It’s a way build their platform.

I have been nominated for the Liebster Award, both when I participated in my first UBC (read about it here) and again during this cycle, by Vidya Tiru at Lady in Read Writes (read about it here).

The Liebster’s criteria and process has evolved over the past five years. Here’s the details of its current incarnation:

  • Acknowledge the blog(s) that gave it to you and display the award
  • Answer the 11 questions that the blogger gives you
  • Give 11 random facts about yourself
  • Nominate 11 blogs and notify them of their nomination
  • Give the bloggers 11 questions to answer

I will name 11 noteworthy blogs to explore. However, I am not requiring or expecting a Liebster acceptance post.

Noteworthy blogs:
Marc Alan Schelske, “a writer, speaker, hobbyist theologian, recovering fundamentalist, tea drinker & motorcycle rider.”

Sean Paul Mahoney, “a writer, playwright, blogger, tweeter, critic, podcaster and smartass for hire.”

Sarah Fader, “the CEO and Founder of Stigma Fighters, a non-profit organization that encourages individuals with mental illness to share their personal stories. “

Dan, “Having written his whole life, he blogs because he has to write…he can’t help it.”

Mary, “a music lover who finally got off her duff (or on it, I suppose) and started sharing her opinions about music.”

Robert Kennedy III, he loves “helping people create hope, generate excitement and belief in their capacity to change lives, starting with their own.”

Steve Austin, “focuses on everyday faith, mental wellness, and embracing wonder to encourage, educate, and empower audiences from every walk of life.

Daniela Pesconi-Arthur, Founder and editor of The Might Women ezine is “a Brazilian who adopted Wales as “home”’

Martha DeMeo “writes product and book reviews” at

Sovann Penis a licensed professional counselor, who loves “counseling because it offers healing and freedom” by “helping families with parenting challenges and with the stresses of communication, conflict and disconnection in marriage.”

Steven Shomler, a Pyrocatalyst, Author, Culinary Storyteller, Consultant, Entrepreneur & Speaker

If they choose to participate, here are my questions:

1. Is your blog personal or professional and what is its primary focus and/or topic?

2. Do you have a YouTube channel or podcast? If so, please provide the title or link.

3. Are you a contributing blogger/writer elsewhere?

4. What is the most valuable, free product/app/service you have found as a blogger?

5. What piece of information or advice would you have found invaluable as a beginning blogger?

6. What social media sites do use use for public interaction and how do we connect to you?

7. Are you an introvert, extrovert, or an ambivert (both to varying degrees)?

8. What core value do you try to live by?

9. If you had to choose an anthem song, what would it be? If possible, please provide a YouTube link.

10. If you had to choose, would you consider yourself an advocate or activist?

11. What is your favorite quote?

Now, for those interested, we enter the “All About Me” part.

* If you could take a vacation anywhere in the world, where would it be?

* What is your favorite food to eat?
Depends on the moment.

* What advice would you give your younger self if you could go back in time ten years?
This line from the song, Dear Younger Me, says it all: “do I go deep and try to change the choices that you’ll make ‘cause they’re choices that made me.” What I want to say would change my life in unimaginable ways. However, it would also cost me my youngest child and my grandchildren. So, I have no advice, just, “you’ll get through this, too.”

* What would be the first thing you’d do if you won the lottery?
Pay off my student loan.

* Night owl or early bird?
There’s a difference?

* What superpower would you like to have?
The ability to clone myself and experience the memories of all the clones while they share each other’s and mine.

* Your favorite way to relax?
Water aerobics or swimming followed by a soak in the hot tub, chatting with the people around me.

* eBook or the printed book or audio book or no books at all?
If conditions allow a book at all, paper.

* What four words would you use to describe yourself?
Survivor, empathetic, committed, wounded

* Who is the most influential person in your life?
Currently it is my youngest daughter, in the sense that pretty much all my decisions and conditions are made with her in mind and affected by her.

* Do you make resolutions? If yes, what is your top resolution for 2018?
Not anymore. However, my personal goal is to transition my eating to be primarily whole food, plant-based by 2019.

11 random facts about me:

1. I am a 48 year old grandmother of three.

2. I have three children ages 31, 24, 9.

3. I am parenting a child who experiences the world through the Autism Spectrum.

4. My 31 year old stopped being legally my child in 2012. He went through an adoption process, as an adult, and legally became another mother’s child. Our estrangement has been reconciled.

5. I earned two diplomas and a GED.

6. I have the debt of one who earned a Bachelors degree.

7. I have no college degrees.

8. I have experienced two major nervous breakdowns.

9. I have a Bipolar brain impacted by PTSD.

10. I am married but have not seen my husband since December 12, 1988.

11. I am half Mexican.


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.



Shifting gear and getting on track

For those of you who have been reading a while, you have come to know the key people in my life by pseudonyms I assigned to them. You got to know a bit about them through my eyes and experiences of them, as I attempted to deal with my psychological and emotional responses to them.

I did my best to honor their privacy and to not go into too much detail regarding them and what was happening in their world except where it intersected with mine. For the most part this worked because not very many people who actually know me and the others in my life were reading this blog.

All of this changed a bit toward the end of September when some incredibly painful and challenging things happened, which I chronicled in detail here. There was blowback and I wound up struggling through even more conflicted issues in a few of my relationships. Thankfully, quite a bit has been worked through and has been resolved. However, some sensitivity remains.

As time has gone on, I have begun shying away from opening up about some of these things here. In some ways, this has been good and I have expanded on things that I am interested in and really thinking about that are inclusive, yet beyond the scope of recovery. I have also been working, a bit more privately, through some of the aspects of my co-dependency.

The reality is, though, despite my best intentions and the declarations to stand my ground, I have pulled back and have not been doing some of the work I need to do, out of concern and fear of having to face and deal with potentially negative fallout from those in my day to day life.

Thankfully, some of the good to come of all of this is more clarity, acknowledgement, and understanding of the depth and extent of my co-dependency issues.

Since I enjoy the new things I’ve been incorporating and I know I truly need to focus in on the recovery and codependency aspects of my journey, I’m going to be trying out some things to help organize and focus the components of my blog.

The first major change is that by specific and personal request Jerry will now be known as Keith. We’ve been in each other’s lives for close to 17 years and I either never knew or had managed to forget that the person behind the name HATES the name Jerry. Since I’m working for transparency and respect in our relationship and he may be reading more often, I am honoring his request to not be called by the hated name and he has opted to be known from this point forward as Keith.

The second change I am planning is to refocus on the Twelve Steps, especially as it relates to my interactions with and relationships with the people in my life. January will be looking at Step One: admitting powerlessness over the people and relationships in my life. I will probably continue to do less explaining of the specific triggers – the words/actions of others – and more self analysis and awareness processing. This will include some biblical scriptural discussion at times, as that is part of MY recovery process. Please understand that I am only discussing what works for me, not dictating how others should manage their process.

One thing I would like to explore is inviting guest bloggers who might be interested in doing a “speaker” type of post that addresses the Step topic of the month. We’ll see how that goes.

I plan to continue with the Six Word Friday feature. I’ve fallen a bit behind in updating that page, so bringing that current will be a goal. I also hope to do more Author Interviews. Another thought is to do more with Courageous Confessionals in an effort to identify, honor, raise awareness and reduce stigma associated with the things that we have learned to hide in shame from, which people are blogging about – mental illness, emotional disturbance, addictions, compulsions, and working to move beyond the limitations of our pasts.

One more exciting thing is that I have been invited to contribute to a new, online magazine – La belle vie, I may be asking for your input and feedback as I write my first article. Stay tuned. Exciting times are ahead.