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Interview with Jill Muehrcke, author of Waking Up Happy!




Jill MuehrckeJuliana (Jill) Muehrcke is the award-winning author of many books and articles. Founder and editor of the international magazine Nonprofit World (, she has studied at the University of Colorado and the University of Michigan and has a BA degree, specializing in English and psychology, from the University of Washington. Jill is listed in Who’s Who ( In her spare time, she enjoys teaching yoga and eating ethnic food. For many years, in several cities, including Seattle, Honolulu, and Madison, she has written restaurant reviews.

Her latest book is Waking Up Happy: A Handbook of Change with Memoirs of Recovery and Hope.

You can visit her website at

Listen to Jill on the Joy Cardin Show at


Waking Up HappyWAKING UP HAPPY: A HANDBOOK OF CHANGE WITH MEMOIRS OF RECOVERY AND HOPE: Powerful, absorbing, and beautifully written, this first-of-its-kind book of transformation and healing includes memoirs of people who have recovered from addictions, harmful habits, and intolerable situations, along with exercises readers can do to make the same transformations in their own lives.

Half of the proceeds of this book will be donated to the Recovery Foundation helping people build new lives – so every time someone buys a book, they will be helping someone TRANSFORM THEIR LIFE!


Those of us who tell our stories here had different time schedules for changing our lives and have taken varied pathways, but all of us were — and are — on the same odyssey. Moving away from our addictions was just one step on that road to a new life.

Before we could create lasting change, we needed to find the root causes that made us turn to drugs – and other addictions – for relief – childhood abuse, neglect, mental illness in the family, secrets and fears that stifled honest communication as we were growing up and made us doubt ourselves and our worth. Confronting those ghosts, we learned to care for ourselves and find peace in our hearts.

It wasn’t about the drugs. There was always something missing at the core. What was missing was love. We had to learn to love ourselves, the people and environment around us, and finally the larger world.

The afflictions that went along with addictions – depression, eating disorders, sexual compulsions – complicated our voyage. We had to be vigilant that we didn’t slip back into those secondary disorders. Doing so required us to become detectives in unraveling the mystery of our own lives, and digging for those answers became one of the most exhilarating parts of the journey. The only thing more magical was sharing our discoveries with others and listening to their stories of self-discovery.

We have come full circle but have discovered that life isn’t really a circle but, rather, a spiral. Each time we come around to what seems like the same place, we’re on a different level, with greater ability to apply the lessons we’ve learned before.

We ask ourselves: How many times do I have to learn this lesson? The answer is: You will be learning your life lessons forever. But each time, you embed that lesson within your psyche a little more fully.

Step by step is the way. Slow and steady is the speed. That’s how change happens – by inches. By millimeters. By micrometers.

It is our brokenness, the jagged parts of ourselves that catch the light like crystal. It’s the glitter of those pointed pieces that beams a light for us and for others.

Taking these lessons to heart, we’re stronger than we ever thought possible. And yet we’re stronger still – immeasurably strong – when we join with others on the pilgrimage. We’re like beads of water falling on stone. Together, we transform the stone into something altogether new. We will never give up.

~ ~ ~GIVEAWAYS ~ ~ ~

Pump Up Your Book & Jill Muehrcke are teaming up to bring you a great giveaway. One lucky person who comments the most on her blog stops will receive a $25 gift certificate. The blog host who receives the most comments through the tour will also receive a $25 gift certificate! Also check out her schedule below to find out how you can win a FREE copy of her book. Good luck and we’ll see you on the blog trail!


Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Jill. Can we start out by having you tell us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

I’ve had dozens of books published – mostly in the educational and nonprofit sectors. My new book WAKING UP HAPPY: A HANDBOOK OF CHANGE WITH MEMOIRS OF RECOVERY AND HOPE is a complete departure for me. It includes my own memoir, plus the memoirs of my daughter and granddaughter and over 30 other people who have made radical changes in their lives. It also includes exercises I’ve collected for decades on how to make positive life changes, as well as advice and tips from the other storytellers. So it is by far the most personal book I’ve ever published. I also feel it has the most potential to change the lives of those who read it.

Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?

The first best-selling book I published was MAP USE – a book on how to use maps – that I self-published along with my husband Phillip. At that time (1978) I started my own publishing company, which I still own today. Many mainstream publishers wanted to publish MAP USE but they wanted to price it over $50, and we wanted to keep the price as affordable as possible – we were able to publish the first edition for $14.95. Since then we’ve been through seven editions and 14 printings of the book. My newest book WAKING UP HAPPY is self-published through my new website Again, my main reason for self-publishing is to keep the price of the book low and yet have enough income from it so that I can donate half the proceeds to the Recovery Foundation (, a wonderful group that helps build new lives by providing scholarships for people who can’t afford counseling. So if you buy a copy of WAKING UP HAPPY, you’re not only starting the journey to a new life for yourself – you’re also helping transform someone else’s life!

Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?

With WAKING UP HAPPY, it took me three years from the time I wrote the first sentence till I held the published book in my hands. About half of that was the research and writing, and the other half was the editing and publishing.

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

When MAP USE came from the printer, I had a huge party. I haven’t yet had the book-launch party for WAKING UP HAPPY – it is planned for April 30. I still feel as giddy now as I did when MAP USE was published back in 1978. It’s a wonderful feeling to see all that work and planning come to fruition. The party on April 30 will be especially exciting because it will be the first time that all the main memoirists in WAKING UP HAPPY will be together in the same room.

Q: What was the first thing you did as far as promotion when you were published for the first time?

With all my books, word of mouth has been a primary factor. So the first thing I always do is tell everyone I know about it and ask them to tell everyone they know.

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

With WAKING UP HAPPY, I had to dig deep inside myself so that I could be totally honest in writing my memoir, including the painful parts of my life. Then I had to help the 30 other memoirists do the same thing. And after publication, I had to stand up in front of roomfuls of strangers and tell them some of the most private things about my life. All these experiences have helped me grow a great deal as a writer and as a person.

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

I have friends who have been published by mainstream publishing companies in the past year, and I’ve been amazed at how little marketing those companies do for them. It’s a far cry from the widespread promotion of the past. As a self-published author, I can do the same things as my friends do through their mainstream publishers. I’ve also been surprised at how much fun it is to connect one-on-one with readers about my book. My favorite thing is when book clubs read my book for their monthly selection and then ask me to join them when they discuss it.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?

The most rewarding thing is to hear from readers that my words have touched them and helped them make major changes in their life.

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

The tips in WAKING UP HAPPY are totally relevant to becoming a published author. They’re about how to persevere, how to let patience be your friend, and how to keep making tiny changes in your life each day so that you continue to improve yourself, enrich your life, and turn your experiences into a dramatic story. They’re about using your signature strengths every day so that you become your best self. They’re about reaching deep inside yourself and reaching out to others, because you can’t do it without knowing yourself completely – and you can’t do it alone.


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