Category Archives: self-help

10 QUESTIONS FOR…Michele Wahlder, author of “Alphatudes: The Alphabet of Gratitude”

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Author interview with Michele Wahlder

Michele Wahlder is a certified life coach, career counselor, licensed psychotherapist, motivational speaker and gratitude enthusiast. She is the founder of Life Possibilities, LLC, a company that guides people to become the highest vision they hold for themselves in their lives, careers and relationships through the vehicles of coaching, seminars and books. She holds an MS in Counseling and Development from Texas Woman’s University and a BA in Communications from Tulane University. Wahlder has worked with numerous organizations, including Match.com, The Nielsen Company, Lucent Technologies and Girls, Inc., to improve individual performance and organizational effectiveness.

Honored as the Global Spokesperson for Bayer’s Global MS Campaign, Wahlder is a dynamic media guest who has appeared in numerous print, radio, and television outlets including WFAA-TV’s Good Morning Texas, KDAF-TV’s The 33 News, CBS and CNN Radio. She has served as a contributing expert for publications such as Fitness magazine, Dallas Morning News, Texas Jewish Post, and Dallas Child.  Wahlder lives in Dallas, Texas, with her fiancé Michael, “bonus daughter” Zoe and Portuguese water dog Moses.

Alphatudes is her first book.

1. Tell us about your latest book.

Alphatudes: The Alphabet of Gratitude—26 Solutions to Life’s Little Challenges, reveals the unexpected and simple secret to living a joyful life: gratitude. In a world obsessed with negativity, we must deliberately choose to focus our attention toward the positive.

The good news is the homework is already done! Alphatudes utilizes your earliest grade school victory—the ABCs—to elicit a sustainable shift in your thinking and outlook on life. This book will help you:

  • Heighten your awareness and appreciation of life’s daily gifts
  • Attract opportunities with a positive mind-set
  • Surmount life’s challenges with a healthy reservoir of gratitude
  • Find the hidden blessings in difficult situations
  • Free yourself from worry, negativity and resentment

* In honor of Alphatudes, Olivia Newton-John has given a free song download of her beautiful song, “Grace and Gratitude” with purchase.

2. How did you get started as a writer?

I had been writing in newsletters, my journal and for professional trade journals for years. Alphatudes is my first writing/book for public consumption! The inspiration for Alphatudes: The Alphabet of Gratitude, my first book, came to me in a most unlikely way.  I wasn’t feeling grateful at all.  In fact, I had been going through a period of disrupted sleep and was quite cranky over my inability to sleep soundly.  I had tried many different techniques, but none had worked. On one particular night, while lying in bed, the concept of gratitude entered my thoughts.  I spontaneously started thinking of things I was grateful for using the structure of the alphabet –it was easy and fun! Counting my blessings instead of counting burdens or sheep, turned out to be a habit that had begun to affect my outlook on life in a productive and positive way. I shared the process with clients and friends and they found the process changed their lives for the better. I wanted to share it with a larger audience and began writing Alphatudes.

3. What does a typical day look like for you?

I wake up, meditate or read, then let my dog Moses outside, get a cup of tea and then the two of us cuddle up on a chair while I begin my day of writing, answering emails and coaching. I usually find time in the day to get at least one walk or bike ride in.

4. Describe your workspace.

My workspace is filled with warm yellows, reds and greens. I have a big yellow leather chair that I coach and sometimes write from.

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

Recently, The Help by Kathrine Stockett, Everyday Holiness by Alan Morinis and Now Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham.

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

My mother was the Israeli poster girl and that is how my Dad found her.  I am Jewish but went to a Catholic High School.  When I was little I had three horses that all died.

7. Favorite quote:

Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it. Mark Twain.

8. Best and worst part of being a writer

The best part is writing, the worst part is rewriting, again and again.

9. Advice for other writers

Work with a subject that inspires you to push through the challenges that inevitably come up on the way to publication.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.

I went to BEA in NYC searching for a publisher for Alphatudes. After a day of being frustrated and not getting anywhere I went to a Broadway show that evening. While in the ladies room at the show, I met a woman who was an author representative and learned a lot in a conversation with her about how to proceed. You never know where you might serendipitously meet up with divine assistance.

Where can people buy your book?

The book can be purchased on-line at the Alphatudes store through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders or direct through Life Possibilities at: www.alphatudes.com

For more information about me or life & career coaching, more information can be found at:  www.lifepossibilities.com

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10 QUESTIONS FOR… Deborah DeNicola, “The Future That Brought Her Here”

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Author interview with Deborah DeNicolaCover-MediumDeNicola

Deborah DeNicola‘s memoir The Future That Brought Her Here is from Ibis Press 2009. She has six previous books, including the anthology she edited. A new collection of poems, Original Human, is scheduled for 2010. Among several other awards, she received a Poetry Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.  Deborah studied dream work at The Jung Institutes in Boston and Zurich and trained with Robert Bosnak. Her web site is: www.intuitivegateways.com

1. Tell us about your latest book.

My latest book is my spiritual memoir, The Future That Brought Her Here; Memoir of a Call to Awaken. It’s the story of a normal, struggling, single woman who finds one day she has new senses, can see through her closed eyes, has visions and senses changes in energy. I have been meditating for over 20 years and when new senses emerged, I began a quest for what was behind our 3-D reality. This quest consisted of reading, going to channeling sessions and asking spirits what was happening to me as well as traveling through  synchronicity to other countries. My excursion to Southern France to follow the mystery of the Black Madonnas takes up the latter half of the book.

The book contains medieval history, science, and occult mysteries as well as a personal story of healing from my father’s death when I was an adolescent. It’s also about creative process and dreaming and dream image work.  At the end I come to some conclusions about where human evolution is going and ways to be in the world, living the ideals of A Course in Miracles. It actually took me 8 years to write and I started it as a novel because I was an “academic” and didn’t want to step out of the metaphysical closet. The story and writing the story helped me come to terms with some of these experiences.                     

2. How did you get started as a writer?

I’ve written every since I learned to write. I think it might have helped that I had an older brother who wrote and he was like my mentor/tormentor. He’d assign me certain books to read and I just accepted him as my  teacher. We subscribed to the old “Classics Illustrated” which were wonderful comic books of the Great Canon.  As a kid I used to write mostly stories and didn’t start writing  poetry till adolescence, of course, love poems came first.

3. What does a typical day look like for you?

Currently I’m busy marketing my book and my dream process workshops as well as my mentoring new writers. I do two things: I help people process dreams, discover meaning, amplify their dreams, and relate them to issues in their current life. I also help writers develop material, create their book with exercises in writing, edit their work, and find the order and sequence of their experiences. My days vary considerably depending on what I’m working on.

I had a schedule when I was writing the book steadily and teaching. Almost three years ago I came to Florida from Boston because my mother was ill. I ended up staying because of her. All my belongings are still in storage in Boston. I moved in with her to help her. I realized it was a time I could also move to change my career. I’d been an adjunct professor teaching as many as 6 courses a semester and going away to writing colonies on fellowships when I had some breaks.

I found a huge holistic and spiritual community in Florida (of all places, I was quite surprised!) Then I found a publisher here, so in many ways, though I still miss Boston’s intellectual community, I feel I was led here . I’m living completely in the moment now. Every day I network, spend many hours on the computer but I also dance three hours a week, go to the ocean frequently and try to stay balanced. I’ve had another book of poetry accepted since I’ve been here; Original Human is coming out in 2010. And an earlier chapbook, Inside Light, was published the year after I arrived.  Florida’s been good to me. I am somewhat free to pursue writing and marketing and somewhat tied down with an ill 93 year old mother. (Another book to write!)

I have been working on a book of essays on Dream Image Work and I think it’s halfway finished.

4. Describe your workspace.

I have a wonderful red bookcase from Ikea that is the center of my study. I have a MAC laptop and desk and several filing cabinets. I try to keep conscious of the concepts of Feng Shui so I get the maximum out of my work hours in energy. I’m very aware of energy in a room and how clear it is, how supportive. Here’s a tip, keep your north-west corner uncluttered as it’s your money area. I have, of course, piles of clutter elsewhere.

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

Let me start with favorite writers. Oh, so many. I love contemporary fiction, read all nationalities but I am also a classic scholar. All the Greek material; I read and taught Ovid, Homer, the major Greek playwrights. I compiled and edited an anthology of contemporary poetry on Greek myths called Orpheus & Company, published by University Press of New England. It had some course adoption which was nice for me.  The Harvard Review called it “An important book.” As much as I could I taught what I loved or was interested in, the poetry of Rumi and Rilke, the Romantics, the Moderns, poetry being my first love.

I designed and taught a class on the literature of war which deeply moved me. It struck me that Homer’s Illiad , the first book in Western Civilization, says everything that’s ever been said about war, it’s glory and it’s horror. I have been troubled to understand this dichotomy. I read a lot of Viet Nam novels, a lot on the Serbo-Croatain tragedies, and the literature of the Holocaust.

For some reason I was drawn to try and understand the concept of evil. In many ways, my book looks for answers to that question. I believe we are all One, living in the illusion of separation. I’m a Course in Miracles practitioner. Fear and ignorance of our true spiritual connection are basically the reasons we don’t treat each other well. The lack of understanding that everything we think and feel has a frequency that attracts situations to us is probably to blame. I think however, that as bad as the world looks, these ideas are spreading exponentially. Spirituality has exploded into its own industry. Then of course there is the topic of religion, man-made institutions that have failed. Okay, so I’m off-task. Naming favorite books . . .

Tim O’Brien’s The things They Carried is a wonderful book on writing as much as it is on war. It’s about story telling, how to tell a war story. And as addicted to drama as humanity is, this book teaches so much. I was a French major in college so I love a lot of the big nineteenth century French novels by Zola, Balzac and Stendhal. I recently read a wonderful novel by A Mexican author, Thomas Louis Urrea, The Hummingbird’s Daughter.  I love all the South  American poets, Neruda being the be-all and end-all for me. And as for South American novelists, no one can top the late Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Then for Americans, oh, the whole lot of Fitzgerald, some of Hemingway, and their short stories. The short story form in general, is so unappreciated by the public, except, of course, for M.F.A. students . . . Flannery O’Conor, Cheever, Updike,  Faulkner, Katherine Mansfield that whole generation . . . then Ann Beattie, Joyce Carol Oates (although I o.d.ed on her) Tobias Wolf, Alice Walker, Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, is a book I’ve read several times.

I could go on an on, but I’ll just add that one of my favorite contemporary novels is Ann Padget’s Bel Canto and I recently read and loved the story collections of  Jhumpa Lahiri, Interpreter of Maladies and  Unaccustomed Earth.

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

(A) Well, I do dream work. I think it’s one of the most important things we need to do. The unconscious mind is a treasure trove. And if we can take back and own our projections, and realize everything in our dreams, atmosphere, landscape, objects, figures, are ALL US, we will see we all have the same fears and complexes. When we make those conscious, we have more compassion for ourselves and others. We can’t change others, we can only change ourselves, change our reactions to stimulus of our separation. I fervently believe this. But it is so difficult to change our neuron pathways because our unconscious mind does not always believe what we consciously want to create. We do create our reality, but we create it unconsciously a lot of the time and therefore we project and have conflict and war and injustice. Working on your dreams and making them conscious shows you what you really are feeling, what is sabotaging your plans, as well as what you could become. The unconscious is extremely wise. But it speaks a different language. We must learn the language. It is universal. We all dream and dreams take us out of our reality to another reality. If we live to be 80 we’ll have spent 20 years dreaming. It only makes sense to try and make sense out of our dreams.

I have learned a process that reveals meaning rather than “interprets it.” It is experiental and emotional, and it works.

 (B) I’m a poet. Everyone knows poets are crazy. No one pays them. We agonize over whether to put an “and” or a “but” for hours, days maybe and no one cares but us. But poetry, like life, contains ambiguity. And poetry resolves paradox; it holds the opposites in tension where they can produce a reconciling image. It’s the ultimate healer. It’s also greatly expressionistic of our most intense emotions. Poetry heals, especially its dark side, heals. We get to experience in the moment, which is where we need to be. It’s actually not that crazy, though mainstream people have no idea what it’s about. But when someone writes poetry, to be in the act of it, puts you totally in the moment and the unconscious delivers. it’s like channeling. One is given so much solace. Poetry is addictive, in a good way. And it has correspondences with dreaming, so it seems natural to me as I love imagery.

(C) My third eye is open. My book goes into this. I’ve been meditating over 20 years and one day during meditation I saw an eye looking back at me. I also became aware of invisible presences around me. This awakening is at the heart of my story. The Future That Brought Her Here  is a quest to understand what had happened to me, is happening to me. I’ve acquired senses I never had, although I did have imaginary friends when I was very young, and now it makes me wonder . . . I was never interested in the occult, always frightened of it actually. However, I was led on a fascinating journey, calling me to different locations where I had different experiences, Israel, Colorado, France. I read a lot of history of the occult and then quantum physics. I studied near death experiences, the world between worlds, and I believe my visions are related to past lives. I found a British physicist , Rupert Sheldrake, who writes about the Presence of the Past. I came to some amazing conclusions and then found that there are thousands, maybe millions of people on similar spiritual journeys, different symptoms but we all agree that humanity is evolving and we are in for great changes of our whole civilization. I will leave it al that . . . hopefully tempting you to read my book.

7. Favorite quote 

C.G.Jung:  “Unless the unconscious is made conscious on the inside, it will happen on the outside, as fate.”

8. Best and worst part of being a writer

Best—it’s so enriching, so satisfying to feel you’ve expressed what you intended, such a healing release. And then the added bonus—other people like it!

Worst—it’s lonely. Although I’ve been in a lot of writing groups, the ultimate work is done alone and requires long hours. Two other worsts, (“worse and worser” . . . ) very few writers make a lot of money, even if they’re good. And the “worser”, it’s hard work.

9. Advice for other writers

Read. Read before you write. Read and write every day. Don’t become a writer unless you can’t help it.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.

Well, I once drove 300 miles to read to one person. But that’s a reading experience? Hmm… I once stopped making love, to jot down some notes . . .  how’s that?

Where can people buy your books?

You can get my book online through my distributor, http://www.redwheelweiser.com/ just put in the title or my name in the search box. Also on amazon.com and bn.com. My publisher’s web site:

http://www.nicolashays.com  I’ve read at Borders here, but not every Borders may have it, though you can order it. And the same with Barnes and Nobles. If there’s a spiritual bookstore near you, they should have it.  My web site www.intuitivegateways.com lists my books and blurbs, will direct you to them although I don’t sell them from there.

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Deborah DeNicola is the author of five poetry collections and she edited the anthology Orpheus & Company; Contemporary Poems on Greek Mythology. Among other awards she won a Poetry Fellowship in 1997 from the National Endowment for the Arts. Deborah has been a recipient of many writing colony residencies. Her most recent book is her spiritual memoir published by Nicolas Hays/Ibis Press, The Future That Brought Her Here. Another full collection of poetry Original Human is forthcoming from Custom Word Press in 2010. She teaches dream image work and mentors writers online at her web site www.intuitivegateways.com.

For a limited time, you can purchase The Future That Brought Her Here from Amazon and receive bonus gifts. Click here for details: http://www.thefuturethatbroughtherhere.com/bonusoffers/ To learn more about this virtual blog tour, please visit: http://virtualblogtour.blogspot.com/2009/10/future-that-brought-her-here-by-deborah.html

Publisher accepting nonfiction book proposals

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Crown Publishing’s Ten Speed Press

Book subjects: cooking, how-to, crafts, gardening, relationships, how-to, gift, humor and pop culture, business

Guidelines to submit HERE:

http://tenspeed.crownpublishing.com/book-proposal-submissions/

10 QUESTIONS FOR…Lilia Fallgatter, JD, “The Most Important Letter You Will Ever Write”

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Author interview with Lilia Fallgatter, JDAuthorPhotoBookCoverFinal

Lilia Fallgatter, JD, is an author, speaker and publisher (Inspirit Books, LLC.) Her book, “The Most Important Letter You Will Ever Write, How To Tell Loved Ones How You Feel Before It’s Too Late” was written following the loss of a close friend to cancer. In both the book and in a workshop by the same title, Lilia teaches participants how to communicate their feelings in writing. In addition, Lilia speaks, consults and offers workshops on forgiveness, workshop development, writing & publishing, online learning and empowerment of women. She lives in Chandler, AZ with her husband and two children.

1. Tell us about your latest book.

My first book, The Most Important Letter You Will Ever Write,  has been out for a while.  I was inspired to write it after the loss of a close friend to cancer. Following her death, I wrote a letter expressing how much she had meant to me. Although I felt better, I deeply regretted not having shared my feeling before she died. So I set out on a mission to not let it happen again and to teach others how to avoid the same regret.  My current projects are a humor book on pet peeves, another self-help book, a book for women on self-empowerment, and I will also be writing fiction for the first time.

2. How did you get started as a writer?

I have “aspired” to write for as long as I can remember. However, I was not “inspired” to write until I lost a close friend to cancer. Following her death, I wrote my friend a letter. Although writing the letter made me feel better, I deeply regretted not having shared my feelings with my friend before she died.  I decided that I would not let that happen again. I wrote “Loving Letters” to loved ones who were still alive. I then made it my mission to help others do the same. I wrote the book and developed the workshop.  

3. What does a typical day look like for you?

In addition to working on my various book projects as a publisher and author, I am an online education consultant, speaker, wife and mother. I try to make time each day to move forward with one or more of my writing projects.

4. Describe your desk/workspace.

Although I consider myself a highly organized person, my desk is usually cluttered with books, manuscripts, articles, research materials and the many projects which are works in progress.

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

Fiction: A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry

Non-Fiction: Most any personal growth/self-help book

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

I have a law degree, but chose not to practice law

I am founder and president of Inspirit Books, LLC

One of my biggest pet peeves is mispronounced words

7. Favorite quote

I have two favorite quotes:

“Good words are worth much and cost little.” ~George Herbert

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ~Nelson Mandela

8. Best and worst part of being a writer

Best:  Doing what I love to do most in the whole world and feeling that I might be helping others to improve their lives or reach their potential.

Worst: Trying to convince others how talented I amJ

9. Advice for other writers

Ideas and writing that arise out of inspiration will be the most meaningful and satisfying work you do.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.

Learning that my writing has touched or benefited others has served to confirm that the time invested in writing and publishing my book was worthwhile and serves an important purpose.  I have been blessed to have this confirmed on many occasions.

Where can people buy your book?

My work is available though my website –  www.lovingletter.com , blog – www.lovingletter.com/wordpress, on amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com.


10 QUESTIONS FOR…Melissa Giovagnoli, author (and founder) of “Networlding”

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1. Tell us about your latest book.MGnetworldingbook

Networlding is all about how to make Malcolm’s Gladwell’s best-selling book, The Tipping Point, work in today’s “Networked World.” It provides a seven-step, proven system (picked up by Yale University for example) for building effective networks that yield accelerated returns.

It helps companies and individuals accelerate goal achievement as it has the science of networks imbedded into the steps. The book is an evolution of another book I wrote on networking and decades of research on effective networking. Bottomline: it’s great for both people looking to grow new business opportunities or new career opportunities.

2. How did you get started as a writer?

I was a writer back when I was in college, taking every writing course I could find. But it was really after I started my own company after law school and trying out a big legal career that I decided what I really wanted to do was to go back to consulting. I was around when computers were first being used and I was able to “catch the wave” of the new world of work  that time brought forth.

I loved people and I loved computers and I also realized I wanted to help people start businesses, so I reached out to my network and found a publisher in Chicago, Dearborn Publishing, who took a deep interest in my first book idea—a resource book for entrepreneurs. That started my writing with my first book, The Chicago Entrepreneurs Sourcebook. That did well becoming one of the top 10 small business books in Chicago the year it came out. From there I just kept writing and now have 11 books out.

3. What does a typical day look like for you?

My day starts with calls from either author-to-be or from my alliance partners who work with me on our various projects. I am licensing out the Networlding methodology and now have five licensees this year having taken on five since January and with a goal to have ten by the end of the year. Therefore, daily, I’ll be working on some kind of support for the licensees, helping them market and develop their Networlding  practice. Our licensees come from all over the country and now are coming from outside of the country, so our conversations with them, by phone, focus on how to market effectively to people and companies in their respective communities to help these prospects understand the benefits of our methodology.

Other days I’ll be speaking at a conference as a keynoter or panelist on social media and networking. I usually don’t travel a lot any more. I try to send one of our virtual partners, first.

My day continues with  requests by email to help someone get a book written and marketed. Now we are growing out our publishing division so my days can also include identifying organizations—especially consulting firms who can really grow their market share by authoring books.

 

4. Describe your desk/workspace.

This is simple, I have a creative room (really!). It’s got a cool red coach and a simple dark oak desk with a Mac G5 on it, but I usually sit on my comfy red coach with my Mac Air on my lap. I just love the Mac Air. I can walk around with it and it is so light it almost floats. With it and a wireless headset, I feel like I am wired to the world.

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

Great question. Since I do so much book coaching I don’t read as much by other authors on writing books but, instead, do major research on the top-selling books. I analyze what makes those books sell and then try out those strategies with my authors. But I do like Julia Cameron’s, The Right to Write .

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you.

1. Everyone thinks I am so brave, but, really, I am as scared to death of doing brave things like calling up CEO’s for new business as anyone else. I just call myself “stupidly courageous.” 2. I know you won’t think this is crazy but in a world where everyone is out for themselves, I really mean it when I say that my greatest goal in life if to win the Nobel Peace Prize for teaching companies how to “do well by doing good.” I would then give my prize money to the foundation I am forming to help disadvantaged kids get better starts in life after college (and right now there are a lot of disadvantaged kids out there). 3. I want to open up an innovation store on Michigan Avenue in Chicago in the current Borders Store that will be going out of business by the end of the year. It’s a crazy dream but for more than a decade I have had a dream to do that and now that retail is dying I believe we should “redefine retail.”

This would look like a store with thirty kiosks leased by innovative companies and inter-connected by what I call “business concierge” who help customers connect with these companies to innovate and buy cutting edge products and services. I don’t know how I will do it but I know I will . . . someday, but it is crazy! At least people tell me it is! Others want to be a part of it!

7. Favorite quote –

“As the world starts to move from a primarily vertical — command and control — system for creation value to a more horizontal — connect and collaborate — value creation model, and as we blow away more walls, ceilings and floors at the same time, societies are going to find themselves facing a lot of very profound changes all at once. “    – Thomas Friedman, The World is Flat

8. Best and worst part of being a writer.

The best part is that you can really create something that makes a difference for many and it can impact people year after year. The worst part for me is that writing can be lonely.

9. Advice for other writers.  

Ask for help, but also ask, “How can I help you? I think the worst thing an author can do is not to ask for help.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience. 

Having been able to get almost a dozen books published but the most exciting time was when my publisher came to me and asked, “Melissa, what would you like to write next?”

I was able to pitch a couple of ideas and my publisher then asked me which one I would like to do more and I chose the one for which I had a stronger passion. The lesson for me was to turn your relationship with your publisher (when you get one) into a more personal relationship—a collaborative one that enables you to have creative conversations like the one I just referenced. What it took for me to create that was staying in touch with my publisher and learning, also, what types of books he was interested in seeing published.

Where can people buy your book? 

www.networlding.com or Amazon.  Note: If you do purchase a book, I always offer that if you forward me the receipt, electronically to info@networlding.com I will send you a copy of the 100-plus page guidebook that you can use with it to help build a much more successful network. 

Author interview with Muriel Gill, “The Ultimate Human Need”

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(Note from Wendy: This Q&A is a bit different than the usual ’10 Questions for’ format, but Muriel already had her own Q&A.)

“The Ultimate Human Need” by Muriel GillmurielgillUltimateHumanNeed_160x256

1. Q: In a nutshell, what is the book about?

A: The book deals with a number of issues that affect relations in any society, but in a nutshell, it points at parental absenteeism as one of the causes of juvenile rebellion. It emphasizes the inner need for acceptance, love, affection and to be valued, by every human being

2. Q: Having said that, who is the book directed at? What is your target market?

A: It is for every teenager, to understand how to communicate and interact with their parents. It is for parents with teenage kids and preparing for those years. It is for everyone who has had what they term bad childhood, to be inspired and see and learn that a good, meaningful and fulfilling life is possible after bad childhood. It is for everyone who is battling some amount of unforgiveness and wants to learn how to forgive.

3. Q:  What inspired the writing of the book?

A:  I believe in the power of words, and just want to use the art of writing to help address some of the issues that affect us all. Art can be used as a form of entertaining, but that can always be combined with education and bring across a lesson or answer to societal questions in an edutaining way.  It’s funny, ‘cause the story line evolved in my head while watching a program on TV, debating the morality of euthanasia. Yet, euthanasia occupies only about 2 or 3 pages in the whole book.

4. Q: Have you always known that you wanted to write?

A:  Not always, I discovered the interest a little later in life, and find that I enjoy it. I first started with writing feature movie scripts, hoping I could sell them to anyone interested, but found it difficult to do so. Then I thought it might be a good idea to turn my movies scripts into a book.

5. Q: What do you want your readers to get from the book?

A: The book is both entertaining and educating. The blurbs describe it as riveting and un-put-downable. First of all, I want the readers to enjoy what they are reading, it’s hard to forget what has entertained you, and then I also want the readers to be reminded of all the moral lessons and self-help tips in the book.

6. Q: Is that the reason why you wrote it in a story form, rather than just a self-help book?

A: Precisely, learning something in a fun and entertaining way seems to be easily understandable and effective. It just stays with you for a long time.

7. Q: Are you a teacher, by training?

A: No, I don’t have any formal teaching training. Maybe by nature, ‘cause I find that I like to explain things in detail, and sometimes even repeat myself for clarity. But then, most of us women are detailed by nature, but that does not make us all teachers.

8. Q: What are some of the issues you deal with in your book, other than what you’ve already mentioned?

A: Towards the end, I take quite a bit of time, elaborating on the remedial issues. It is one thing to highlight an issue, dissecting it and talking about where it originates from; like talking about rejection as one of the causes of rebellion. But that is just half the truth, from here on, I think one needs to talk about the treatment, how to bring about total change and reverse the effects of a problem.

9. Q: Talking about the remedy, I notice you talk quite a bit about forgiveness in your book. What is the formula or process of forgiveness. If someone is struggling to forgive those that have hurt him what advice can you give?

A: There’s a 5 step program that is very effective. I found this out while doing research for the book, so I take no credit for it; it’s not my own invention. For easy recall, it’s called the REACH program. Recall the hurt – don’t try to deny or bury it, but don’t dwell on your victimization. Empathize with the one who hurt you. See things from their point of view, feel their feelings and identify with their pressures. Empathy is the key step in forgiving. Altruistically decide to give the gift of forgiveness. Commit to forgiveness publicly; verbalize it to someone, a friend, the perpetrator, or someone. Say it out loud. Hold on to that forgiveness. Do not replay the tape of hurt. Rumination is at the core of unforgiveness. Do not see the perpetrator as a personification of evil, out to deliberately ruin you. This form of forgiveness is difficult in the beginning, especially when you have to empathize with the perpetrator, but it is very effective. In fact, while doing research and reading up on forgiveness, I read about a research that was done, employing two methods of forgiveness. The first group was told to forgive for their own good. They were told that forgiveness benefits them more, and it releases them form bitterness and all the possible accompanying physical effects of unforgiveness, so they forgave quite easily. But after a week or two, when the two groups were compared, the group that forgave for their own benefit, had declined in their resolved to forgive. Forgiveness was mainly a gift to themselves, it was for selfish reasons, it did not necessarily replace negative emotions with positive empathy. But the second group had held on to their forgiveness, ‘cause negative emotions had been truly replaced by positive ones. It looks like we don’t just drop negative feelings; they need to be replaced by something positive.   

10. Q: Does forgiveness always inevitably lead to reconciliation?

A: Forgiveness is not synonymous with reconciliation. Forgiveness is one party deciding to give the altruistic gift of forgiveness, replacing negative feelings with positive ones. Reconciliation on the other hand calls for both parties to desire to reconcile, and both committing themselves to the process of reconciliation.

11. Q: What is the process of reconciliation?

A: Again, this is what I found out during research, again I take no credit for this process. The first step we’ve touched on already. Both parties need to desire and commit to reconciliation, then they need to discuss the transgression, in soft attitudes, with humility and empathy, and no denial. During this discussion stage, there’s the acronym CONFESS. Like I said, I take no credit for this acronym. Confess without excuses. Offer an apology, be sincere, show remorse and be specific. Note the other person’s pain, do not downplay it, do not call them too sensitive of just the imagination of their minds. Forever value. Love is valuing the other person. Equalize. Show an act of kindness to make up for the hurt. Say never. Commit yourself to never hurt the other person the same way again. Seek forgiveness. Ask for forgiveness.

12. Q: You mention parent absenteeism as one of the causes of teenage rebellion. In some cases, you find both parents present, presumably both plugged in, and yet the child turns rebellious. What could the cause be here? 

A: The problem might stem from the parenting style practiced at home. There are different parenting styles, depending on the values, teachings, temperament and personalities of the parents. Then there’s the traditional expectation of stormy teenage years. Parents expect his stage of their kids to be rough, and they talk negative things, in line with their expectations. But, results emerging from new research, show that teenage years need not necessarily be stormy. And to help their teenagers to make a smooth transition into young adulthood, parents need to change their views of their teenagers, change the way they think of them, their expectations, and learn new parenting styles that will actually help their teenagers. The most effective parenting style is when adults parent from the child’s strengths, rather than coming form the negative. Again, I take no credit for this approach. This is called the 5C’s of parenting. They are Competence, Confidence, Connections, Character, Caring. Parents need to find 1 of few things that their child in naturally gifted at, and encourage the child to develop that talent. As the child becomes more proficient at that, they develop confidence in themselves. Confident people are easy to relate with others. This naturally leads to connections. They interact easily with others, Parents need to encourage their teenage kids to develop relations with others outside the home, encourage socialization. Parents need to instill in their children character, both b teaching and by demonstrating it. Character is the internal moral compass, its sets boundaries for the child. It guides them as to what they may or may not do. Then parents need to teach their teenagers care; demonstrate it in the home. They can do certain things together as a family, like volunteering together at an orphanage or assisted living centre.

13. Q: How can a young person handle peer pressure, because at times, they do things purely because of peer pressure?

A: Having a sense of belonging is crucial, especially belonging to a group of people your own age. In fact, it is one thread that runs through the story of my book. Hence the title, The ultimate human need.  Unfortunately, some people will sacrifice everything to feel accepted and validated, especially if they do not have this need fulfilled at home, just like the character in the story in the book. That is why they make reckless decisions and hang out with the wrong crowd.

It’s important for parents to help their kids to develop social skills and good character, which we’ve already defined as an internal sense of moral compass, that defines borders. Hence, sense of belonging should be based on shared common values and interests.

 14. Q: What’s your message to absent fathers?

A: Get back to your child or children. Your absence is sending a damaging message of rejection, and that is hurting a child in ways you cannot imagine.

15. Q: What’s the first step they should do to re-establish, or in some cases, establish a first-time relationship with their child?

A: Apologize for their absenteeism. This takes us back to our CONFESS program, talking about the transgression; honestly and with humility. Acknowledging the pain that your absence or abandonment has caused the child, and honestly and sincerely apologizing for that, and asking to be forgiven. Father/parent, note that you’re not picking up where you left off. It’s new; you start afresh. You start with small unintrusive baby steps, and slowly build a more and mutually trusting relationship. The most important message you want to send to your child, is that you care and you value them.

16. Q: At this stage, can they offer an opinion or correction, when they see something wrong and dangerous that the child may be doing?

A: They can offer an advice, when asked for it. Beyond this point, they have not yet earned the right and privilege of a parent to correct. They forfeited that when they abdicated their parental responsibility, and they cannot return with a whip in their hand.

17. Q: What if it’s something very dangerous and self-destructive?

A: They might need to mention it to the parent who has always been present and let them do the talking. If they strongly feel they should deal with it, they might need to be very honest about it. They might need to begin with: “know I’m not exactly a model parent, I’ve hurt you in the past by my absence, and probably you may feel like I’m not qualified to talk to you about “such and such” problem. But, if you’ll allow me, I will give this “advice” or avail myself to give assistance in this particular way; e.g. like when it’s a case of drug abuse, he might avail himself to check the child in a rehabilitation center. We touched on this earlier on, offering an act of kindness to compensate or make up for the pain of the past. It also sends the message that you care about the welfare of your child.

Then, he will need to express his faith in the child’s ability to change that destructive behavior. This tells the child that he is intrinsically good, and that his father believes in him. Almost everyone who has made a positive change from a destructive behavior will always cite one person who believed in them. This is also the point in case in the life our young character in the book, The ultimate human need.

18. Q: Talking about making a positive change, how can someone who has had a bad childhood, or a bad past, make a transition into a positive life?

A: A good life after a bad childhood is possible, it’s not easy, but you can create   it. Again what I’m about to say, I’ve found out during my research for the novel, so I take no personal credit for it.

First, accept the truth that you were hurt, don’t deny it, but refuse to define yourself according to those experiences. If you do, you take over the abuse and become your own torturer. What was done to you in the past was not about you; it was not because you’re a bad person. So define yourself correctly.

Then accept who the abuser is, not embracing it, but accepting that that is who they are and leaning to relate with them around those shortcomings, knowing that you cannot change them, and neither are you responsible for their change. No one can change the other person. Accepting is liberating. Understand their emotional struggle and empathize with them. When you do, you cannot but let go. In other words, you forgive them. Empathy replaces hurt, anger, resentment and bitterness. Negative emotions are now replaced with positive ones.

When emotions have changed, behavior is easy to change. In bad childhood, you learned al the negative behaviors as coping mechanisms, now learn to replace them with new behaviors and reactions. 

Then reach out to someone and give some affection attention and approval. Hurting people have a tendency to want everybody to give to them, but they never or rarely reciprocate that love. But what you give, you will receive back. Give what you yearn for, and you will receive it back.

Decide to be a loving spirit, and find a greater purpose to live for, a passion to give yourself to. This takes the attention off of yourself. Hurting people have the tendency to obsess about themselves, but as you give yourself to something, you have less time to think about your hurt.

Then, learn to keep things in perspective. Without making light of anyone’s bad childhood, don’t think that your situation is the worst. There are others that are worse off than yours.

Lastly, adopt a positive attitude – it is a significant mind-set for a good life. Learn to count your blessings and be thankful.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY

This, “The Ultimate Human Need,” is Muriel Gill’s debut novel. She cares about social issues, and through her writing seeks to make positive contribution and promote better social understanding and harmonious interactions.

She has obtained her honors degree from the University of the North West in South Africa. She has worked as a Chief Data Coordinator, Information Analyst, Project Manager and has owned her own Bookstore.

FACT SHEET

Title: The Ultimate Human Need

Author; Muriel Gill

Publisher: American Book Publisher, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Number of pages: 300

ISBN: 1-58982-371-0

Binding; Paperback

Price: $22.00

The book is available either from my website www.murielgill.com or from the publisher direct online bookstore www.pdbookstore.com/comfiles/pages/MurielGill.shtml.

10 QUESTIONS FOR…Dr. Helen McIntosh, “Messages to Myself”

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Author interview with Dr. Helen McIntoshPhotoofDr.HelenMcIntoshMessagetoMyself(2)

1. Tell us about your latest book. 

 Messages to Myself – Overcoming a Distorted Self-Image is for those who are struggling with ongoing self-image issues as well as depression and anxiety, and are having difficulties in their personal life and in their relationships.  I give a method in the book to bring healthy and lasting life changes for adults and children. This method offers readers simple, tangible, concrete help both in their thought patterns and in their relationships with others.   

2. How did you get started as a writer?  My heart longs to give encouragement and lasting help to those who struggle with social and emotional issues.  I first got started with a children’s book (Eric, Jose, and The Peace Rug) to help them with their issues like anger management, bullying, reconciliation, and conflict resolution.  I was a school counselor at the time, and there was a deficit in literature that really worked!  For my adult friends, I saw another deficit! So many of us are depressed.  They have been given “sticky note” answers – and nothing has helped.  I love help, healing, restoration, and reconciliation, and so the book came to me as a natural flow from what I needed myself and needed for others.

3. What does a typical day look like for you? 

 I am officially retired from the school system but still do some crisis counseling in my church and community, and I do some teaching.  I am also working on a grief book for children and an adult book on suicide.  [Why is a sanguine like me writing about so many dark subjects?  Well…I just love it!]  Best of all is time with my husband, also recently retired, and seeing my adult children and grandchildren.     

4. Describe your desk/workspace.  

BUSY!  It actually looks pretty awful.  The stacks on my left look formidable, but I know where everything is.  Otherwise, I have surrounded myself with nostalgic photographs and things I love.

5. Favorite books (especially for writers) 

Anything by Jan Silvious.  The book Captivating by Stasi Eldredge is also a favorite. 

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you 

I was a drummer in high school (the timpani), smoked a few cigars in my after college days, and lived in Germany as a child and France when older. 

7. Favorite quote

My favorite quote is from the Bible in Habbukah: Though the fig tree should not blossom, and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls – Yet! I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.

8. Best and worst part of being a writer 

The best part is hopefully helping others by putting down truth in ink.  The worst part is the “fight to be still” in our very busy world and how hard it is to hear “quiet” in order put that down in ink!

9. Advice for other writers

Write about things you are passionate about because the journey is hard.  Then you will persevere!  

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.

I wrote a lot of the Messages To Myself book in my father’s hospital room when he was asleep.  He died weeks later – but I know he was with me on my journey just as I was there for him on his journey to heaven.

Where can people buy your book?

 Readers can buy it on amazon.com!  Information and other ordering info can also be accessed on www.helenmcintosh.com or  www.peacerug.com