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Talking Books with Debra Whittam, author of ‘Am I Going To Be Okay?’

Debra WhittamDebra Whittam is a licensed, practicing mental health therapist in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who specializes in addiction, anxiety and depression, grief and loss. Whittam is passionate about her work in all areas of her specialties, especially addiction. Working in a detox unit for over three years before beginning her own private practice, Whittam realized, while counseling patients in the life and death arena of the detox unit, how much the loss of a beloved through death or a relationship impacted those struggling with addiction.

In this memoir, Whittam skillfully infuses her memories, stories and professional insights to remind us that the most important relationship we will ever have is with ourselves. She splits her time between Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York and Paris, France. Am I Going To Be Okay? Weathering the Storms of Mental Illness, Addiction and Grief is her first book.

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About the Book:

Am I Going To Be Okay? is an American story with a universal message. Ms. Whittam traces her history in the form of stories about her all too human, and sometimes unhinged family; she throws a rope to the little girl living Am I Going to Be Okaythere, and in adulthood, is able to pull her out to safety, bit by bit.

Her history is peopled with folks from a different time, a time before therapy was acceptable, 12 steps unimaginable and harsh words, backhands and even harsher silences can be spun to appear almost normal. She writes of a mother who would not or could not initiate love nor give it without condition, and a father, damn near heroic at times, abusive at others, a survivor with his head down and his sleeves rolled up.

Ms. Whittam approaches her past with the clear-eyed tough but sensitive objectivity necessary to untangle the shame from the source. She speaks of the people that affected her life so deeply with an understanding of their time and place in American culture; a family not far removed from immigrant roots when men carried their own water, emoted misplaced anger, and with fresh socks and food found on the trail, were confident, unflinching and at that same time tragical- ly failing to the little ones they ignored.

Like many of us, details notwithstanding, Whittam responded by numbing, running and gunning. Alcohol gave her hope, soothed a crushed soul for a time and wrecked her on a train, until finally she had the courage to accept it wasn’t working for her anymore. It was time to stop drinking and take inventory and accountability. It was time to accept, forgive and move forward. She healed where she was broken.

It is in the telling of this story that Whittam teaches us the difference between just surviving and surviving well, the importance of shared introspection and a careful eye on the wake we leave behind in our actions. Her story is a guide to surviving abuse and addiction. It is also about witnessing and dealing with the shrinking faculties of aging parents in the unavoidable circle of life. Finally, she offers a realistic sense of hope, forgiveness and a life we can shake hands with.

For More Information

  • Am I Going To Be Okay? Weathering the Storms of Mental Illness, Addiction and Grief is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

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

DW:  This is my very first book ever written and the first time I am published.

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?

DW:  I was put in touch with a wonderful editor/publisher, Judi Moreo, who lives in Henderson. NV.  She asked me to send the first chapter, The Driving Lesson, she read it within the next few hours during a very busy time, called me back that very night and said she loved it!  Judi said, “Send me the entire manuscript.”  Which I did.  She agreed to take me on immediately and we have not stopped working together since.  That was back in June of 2015.

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

DW:  Well, since Judi and I began the editing process together with my intention of having her publish my book through her publishing company, Turning Point International, we began the editing process straight away from that June conversation and went to print in late December of 2015.

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

DW:  I am still in disbelief from that fact that Judi thought my manuscript was a really good one!  I had set it aside as a really bad book report for a few months so it’s very hard to go from that to an editor loving it from the beginning.  My one friend who read my Final Manuscript (#12!) said to him it’s “A Self Help Book Written By A Life.”  So I am still trying to wrap my head around the idea that this book is one that is hard to put down, as has been said by many readers, and may be very helpful to those struggling with anxiety, depression, addiction and grief.  Which I believe all go together.

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

DW:  Judi has provided me with all of the knowledge and resources she has available to her from the writing of her own books.  This interview I’m doing now with you is from the Virtual Book Publicity Tour that I purchased.  I believe this is the best way to go for me in order to reach the most people and share my story as well as what I have to offer through my website:  www.debrawhittam.com.  Through my website there are weekly blogs, a monthly newsletter to subscribe to, daily quotes for meditation and a place for individuals to go to share their own stories and no longer stay silent about mental illness (anxiety and depression) addiction (drugs, alcohol, eating/not eating, spending, sexing and gambling as well as sharing unacknowledged grief that I believe is underneath all of the struggles. We have been taught from early on in many families to never talk about these things that impact everyhuman being on this earth.

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

DW:  The growth I see with me now is the continued courage to speak up for those of us who struggle with these life issues and to KEEP TALKING ABOUT IT!

My monthly Newsletter is called “Let’s Keep Talking About It!”  I have a sequel to this book as well as a journal/notebook planned within the next year.  As well as another book entirely about relationships between men and woman in today’s society; on average do they work or not?

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

DW:  What I see happening in the publishing industry is how ‘self’ promoting it seems to be.  I mean so many people self publish or go to Amazon and do it all there.  For my first experience I needed a guide, I needed to have someone show me every inch of the writing, editing and be thorough about it.  I am grateful to not have done this journey on my own.  The promotion is the most difficult part of the entire process for me.  Now I see how it works, for the most part, but in the beginning I couldn’t imagine how I could get my book  out there to make a difference.

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

DW:  The most rewarding part for me is to see that the inner message I had of self-doubt and the ‘censors’ in my brain telling me to stop dreaming and get down to doing something ‘sensible’ is all horse hooey!  The ‘am I good enough’ part of all of us screamed at me constantly throughout the process even with Judi’s amazing guidance.  I am rewarded that I had the courage and bravery to do it anyway.  It’s rewarding to hear from my readers that “Am I Going To Be Okay? is a question they have asked themselves for years and now they have hope in knowing they are not alone.  None of us are.  We stay stuck in fear that the piece of fear nonsense is true.

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

DW:  Well, as the last question brought up my fervor of encouraging anyone to do it anyway, I believe it is our own self-doubt or the doubt of others that has gotten in our way.  We know if we are writers since the time when we loved the smell of paper and the flow of the pen.

 

 

 

First Chapter Reveal: The Bipolar Millionaire by John E. Wade II

The Bipolar MillionaireTitle: The Bipolar Millionaire
Author: John E. Wade II
Publisher: Sunbury Press
Pages: 164
Genre: Memoir

John E. Wade II, retired CPA, author, investor, television producer, and philanthropist, reveals in his memoir, The Bipolar Millionaire, his personal struggle with bipolar disorder and how he has succeeded in living a balanced and blessed life, despite his mental illness.

Wade takes the reader through his family experiences, political aspirations and beliefs, spiritual journey, relationship trials and errors, all while battling mental illness.

Through his religious beliefs, personal perseverance, and the help of friends, family, and his mental health professionals, Wade lives an active, creative, and successful life.

His memoir doesn’t end with contentment at achieving a balance in his life, however. Instead, Wade expresses a determined vision for the future, aiming to assist humanity in what he describes as achieving heaven on earth through his writing, political and spiritual endeavors.

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Chapter One

I was struggling and dropped into a walk from the jog required of fourth classmen. It was an autumn day in 1963, just a month after I’d had a near-fatal attack of meningitis, and I was still fighting to regain my strength. Panting for breath, I was confronted by a first classman. He asked very directly why I wasn’t jogging. I quickly replied that I had a medical excuse, knowing full well that the excuse had expired. He ordered me to produce the excuse, which I did. Noting its date, he nonetheless allowed me to proceed.

Soon, I was in the academy hospital, lying flat on my back in an almost catatonic state, unable to cope with my mental torment. Although this severe depression, the first in my life, was not diagnosed at the time, it must have been my first bipolar episode, possibly having been triggered by the recent attack of meningitis.

My mother and Carol, my then-girlfriend, came to try to revive me, but I don’t remember responding. Years later, Carol told me that I asked her to help me kill myself, but I have absolutely no memory of making such a request.

Until this illness I had been a model cadet. I had prepared physically according to academy guidelines, so the transition to basic cadet summer was rigorous but easier than it would have been without vigorous training.

One other thing that helped me during basic cadet summer was the stream of daily letters from Carol. My fellow cadets were jealous, partly because of the letters, but also because of the picture of her I had in my room. Even though it was black and white, it was clear that she had blond hair, a sweet smile, and a pleasing, pretty face. That face helped me get through the rest of what we all had to endure to complete our training.

Each week we were given certain “knowledge” to learn, such as types of aircraft or chains of command. I always spent part of Sunday afternoon memorizing the information so that I could recite it during Monday’s meals. The upperclassmen pointedly asked several questions of each basic cadet, which kept us from finishing our entire meal. The first classmen took turns performing the interrogation, but as the questions were considerably shorter than the answers, they always had plenty of time to eat. I always felt I was short-changed because I was the only one who knew the trivia from the first day it was due, and yet I didn’t get a chance to eat more than the other basic cadets.

At the end of basic cadet summer, all the cadets were subjected to a physical fitness test, and I scored the highest in my squadron. At about the same time, we also went on a survival exercise in the mountains for which we were organized into small groups with twenty-four hours’ worth of food and about a week’s time to find our way back to the academy. The experience was particularly taxing for me. I became so obsessed with saving my food that I still had some left when we got back to the academy.

After the final tests, those of us who successfully completed basic cadet summer became fourth classmen. My personal excitement was not long lasting, however. Although I had scored high marks on the physical tests, I was disappointed with my first academic grades, which included some Bs, as I was used to all As in high school. When I asked a first classman for his opinion, he said I did just fine considering that I came from a weak high school.

Basic cadet summer had ended—then the meningitis hit. I’ve since read that physical illness can trigger the onset of bipolar disorder, and although the diagnosis was not made at that time, I believe that is what had happened. My father eventually was diagnosed as having bipolar disorder also, so it appears that I was genetically predisposed to the condition, as is often the case.

I had entered the academy in June 1963, and I received an honorable medical discharge that December; whether I was right or wrong, I considered the situation a great disgrace. It was definitely a life-defining event for me, and I was overcome with depression.

But, there was another aspect to my failure at the Air Force Academy that I didn’t disclose to anyone else until years later: part of the reason I attended the academy was that I had presidential ambitions, which I knew would be shattered by the stigma of mental illness. I internalized and brooded over that stigma for the next forty years.

To make matters even worse, when I finally got home I also lost my girlfriend.

It was quite a shock to me and had a negative effect on my confidence with the women I would date for most of the rest of my life.

I have often wondered what would have happened had I not had the meningitis and bipolar episode. What aspects of my life would have been altered? It’s a haunting possibility to consider.

Still, even though the realization of some of my dreams has eluded me, I have had and am having an interesting, fulfilling life in spite of bipolar disorder, and I invite you to understand its role as I work toward what I believe is my destiny.

Book Spotlight: My Life: Poetic Literature by Charles Leon Fantroy, Jr.

My Life Poetic LiteratureTitle: My Life: Poetic Literature
Author: Charles Leon Fantroy
Publisher: ‘JourStarr Quality Publications
Pages: 151
Genre: Poetry

MY LIFE: POETIC LITERATURE is a compilation which derives from my many thoughts over a span of thirteen years.

My poetic words speak to the multitude of those who encounter hardship and encourage all to overcome the adversities that one faces. I aim to have my words reverberate from a mental realm; because if a particular plight cannot be handled mentally, than the physicalities are but a hindrance.

The mind is the maker and the molder of all conditions.The thoughts that I’ve transcribed onto paper are channeled to positively engage and to motivate all; no matter nationality or creed. I myself am a voice with an abundance of thoughts to share.

For More Information

  • My Life: Poetic Literature  is available at Amazon.

 

About the Author

Charles Leon Fantroy, Jr.

Charles Leon Fantroy Jr. was born and raised in Washington D.C. His journey through the trenches of a Federal Penitentiary started at seventeen years old. He honed and practiced his writing skills during his years of incarceration behind the four walls of Leavenworth, as a way to express himself. Now at the conscious age of thirty six, he has finally perfected his true passion, which is to share his rhythmical array of completed poems, fictional novels, as well as full length movie scripts. He has continued to educate himself in completing eighteen months at Stratford University as a certified internet specialist. Charles Leon Fantroy Jr. is soon to be released from prison where he looks to delve into a bright future of continuing to write quality novels and movie scripts as well as being a positive influence to society.

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Book Blast: Free of Malice by Liz Lazarus

Free of Malice banner 2
Title: FREE OF MALICE
Author: Liz Lazarus
Publisher: Mitchell Cove Publishing LLC
Pages: 274
Genre: Suspense/Thriller
Laura Holland awakes in the middle of the night to see a stranger standing in her bedroom doorway. She manages to
defend herself from the would-be rapist, though he threatens to return as hemretreats. Traumatized with recurring nightmares, Laura seeks therapy and is exposed to a unique treatment called EMDR. She also seeks self-protection—
buying a gun against the wishes of her husband. When Laura learns she could have gone to prison had she shot her fleeing assailant, she decides to write a hypothetical legal case using the details of that night. She enlists the help
of criminal defense lawyer, Thomas Bennett, who proves to be well versed in the justice system but has an uncanny resemblance to her attacker. As the two work together to develop the story, Laura’s discomfort escalates particularly when Thomas seems to know more about that night than he should. Reality and fiction soon merge as her real life drama begins to mirror the fiction she’s trying to create.

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Book Excerpt:

Run. Run faster. As much as I
strained my legs to move, they were immobile, like I was waist deep in
quicksand.
Why can’t I move?
I tried to scream for help but
my mouth was full, like it was stuffed with cotton—no sound would escape.
I felt something clutching my
shoulder. No, it was someone. He was pushing me forward and then yanking me
back. I tried to jerk away but he had a tight grip, like a vice.
I have to break free.
The tugging got harder, more
forceful. He was calling my name— over and over. He knew my name.
“Laura, Laura.”
I jolted awake—my husband’s
hand still on my shoulder.
“Honey, wake up. You’re having
another bad dream.”
Slowly, I turned over in bed
and looked at him—his dark brown eyes were fixated on me. I could see them clearly
as the light from the bathroom brightened our bedroom.
For a month now, we had slept
with this light on.
I could see the small wrinkle
on his forehead. I loved that wrinkle though wished he didn’t have good reason
to be so concerned. I was enduring the nightmares, but he had to deal with my
tossing and mumbling in terror.
I remember when we first
met—ten years ago in chemistry lab at Georgia Tech. He had walked up to me with
those warm eyes and a charming, confident smile and asked, “Want to be partners?”
Two years later he took me to
Stone Mountain Park, rented a small rowboat and, in the moonlight, he pulled
out a diamond ring and asked me again, “Want to be partners?”
Life had seemed just about
perfect.
Until now.
We looked at each other for a
moment. Then he propped himself up on his elbow and said softly, “Laura, I feel
so helpless. I know it’s only been a month, but…”
He hesitated.
“What?” I asked.
“It’s just as bad as that
first night. After it happened. Look, I want to make you feel safe again, but I
don’t know how.”
He rubbed his eyes and looked
away. I waited, staring at him.
What isn’t he saying?
“I know you don’t want to see
a therapist, but seeing someone doesn’t mean you’re crazy. Therapists don’t
treat just crazy people. They help people who have been through traumas and you
have. Hell, no one even has to know.”
He paused for a second.
“Don’t be mad at me, but
yesterday I made an appointment for you. I was going to talk to you about it in
the morning if you had another bad dream. I found a woman who is downtown by my
office. She’s been practicing for about twenty years, got her doctorate from
Emory and comes with really good patient reviews.”
He looked for my reaction and
continued. “I made the appointment for you at 4:00 so we can go to dinner
afterward. You know what you always say. You’ll try anything once, right?”
“I told you I don’t want to
see a psychiatrist,” I pushed back. “I just need more time. I’ll bounce back.
You know I almost came in the house on my own today. Besides, if I see a
psychiatrist, on every job application I complete in the future, I’ll have to
check the ‘Yes’ box when they ask if I’ve had mental health treatment.”
“Jesus. No you don’t. You’re
too innocent sometimes.”
He gently tapped me on the nose.
“You can check the box ‘No.’
Besides, if that’s the only thing stopping you, I think you should give it a
try. Her name is Barbara Cole. I’ll take you to Houston’s afterward,” he added.
I ignored the bribe. “But what
can she do that you can’t? All she’ll do is listen and you do that for me
already. Psychiatrists are for people who don’t have friends or husbands to
talk to.”
Chris shook his head.
“Please? Do it for me.”
The tone in his voice was
different—more helpless than normal. Chris had been so understanding, so
comforting this past month, especially considering I had been waking him every
night. How could I refuse his request?
I sighed. “Okay,” I relented.
“I’ll go.”
“One visit. That’s all I’m
asking. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to go back. She’s a psychologist,
by the way, not a psychiatrist. She does therapy, not drugs.”
He glanced at the clock. It
was 3:30 a.m.
Chris grabbed Konk, my stuffed
animal gorilla that I won at the state fair by outshooting him at the
basketball game. He had sworn the scum running the game couldn’t take his eyes
off my butt and let me win.
“Here’s Konk,” he said. “I’m
going to finish my presentation since I’m up. I’ll just be in the office. Want
the door open?”
“Yes,” I said as I wrapped my
arms tightly around Konk.
“Hey, we’ll celebrate your
first therapy visit and my signed contract, I hope, this evening.”
“You mean you hope my
first visit?” I said with a playful smile.
He gave me a look—he was in no
mood for jokes.
“Fine. Fine. I’ll go,” I
assured.
“If you’re asleep when I
leave, just come by my office after the appointment and we’ll head to dinner.
Try to get some sleep. I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
About the Author
Liz Lazarus is the author of Free of Malice, a psychological, legal thriller loosely based on her personal experience and a series of ‘what if’ questions that trace the after effects of a foiled attack; a woman healing, and grappling with the legal system to acknowledge her right to self-defense.
She was born in Valdosta, Georgia, graduated from Georgia Tech with an engineering degree and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern with an MBA in their executive master’s program. She spent most of her career at General Electric’s Healthcare division and is currently a Managing Director at a strategic planning consulting firm in addition to being an author.
Free of Malice is her debut novel, set in Atlanta, and supplemented by extensive research with both therapists and criminal defense attorneys. She currently lives in Brookhaven, GA, with her fiancé, Richard, and their very spoiled orange tabby, Buckwheat.
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Giveaway

Liz is giving away a $25 B&N
Gift Card & an autographed copy of FREE OF MALICE!!

Terms &
Conditions:
  • By entering
    the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • Two winners
    will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 B&N Gift Card or
    one autographed copy of FREE OF MALICE
  • This
    giveaway begins April 11 and ends on May 11.
  • Winners
    will be contacted via email on May 12.
  • Winner has
    48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

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First Chapter Reveal: From Ashes Into Light by Mouw Gudrun

From Ashes Into LightTitle: From Ashes Into Light
Author: Gudrun Mouw
Pages: 240
Genre: Literary/Visionary Fiction
Publisher: Raincloud Press

From Ashes into Light is a transpersonal tale of epic tragedy, spirituality, family, and personal redemption. It is told through three distinct voices: the haunting story of Ruth, a Jewish adolescent during Kristallnacht in World War II Austria, Saqapaya, a stalwart Native American from coastal California during the time of the Spanish conquest, and Friede Mai.

Friede is born during WW II to a Bavarian soldier and an East-Prussian mother. As those around her struggle with the inevitable chaos and paradox of war, young Friede opens her heart to gruesome enemies, at times helping her family members escape atrocities.

With war behind them, the Mai family immigrates to the US, where Friede, her veteran father and ex-refugee mother, struggle with reverberations of trauma, suspicion and prejudice. Upon leaving home, Friede meets her spiritual guide and confidant in her fiancé’s Rabbi, who helps her see that the voices from her past are teachers and the horrors of history also contain beacons of light.

For More Information

  • From Ashes Into Light is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

CHAPTER 1

Ruth Gutherz – Salzburg, Austria

November 10, 1938, Kristallnacht, night of shattered glass, broken bodies and broken faith. We are propelled into a chaotic world. Our Salzburg home has been torn apart.

I stare at drawers emptied on the floor, papers thrown about, clothes everywhere and my 12-year-old mind cannot comprehend.

“Papa, where are Oma Gutherz and Onkel David? Did they go to the doctor? When will they be back? Who made this mess?”

We have just returned from visiting Stefan and Anna Richert, and Papa wants to go back to the Richerts and make inquiries. Mother nearly yells, “Josef, they should be taken away? An old woman taking care of her son sick in bed? This I cannot believe.”

“Esther, believe it. Haven’t we been trying to convince you, Stefan and I? The Nazis have no mercy. We are lost.”

The pain in my father’s voice shocks me. I think, how can Papa say lost? Grandmother Gutherz and Uncle David must be somewhere.

“What are we going to do? Josef, we have to do something!” Mother stands in the midst of our ransacked apartment. Forgetting danger, she begins to cry loudly.

“Quiet. Please, be quiet,” Papa whispers. Mother chokes back sound. “What do you think we can do, Esther? Don’t you understand what’s been happening since the Nazis took control?”

Before returning to the Richerts’, Papa warns, “Keep it dark, stay still, don’t open the door.” He points to an overturned lamp and pictures from the walls smashed on the floor in a pile of splintered glass. “The place has been well gone over. It’s unlikely anyone will be back here tonight.”

Mother and I huddle on the divan, afraid to talk. I hug my knees tightly. Forehead presses bone. Mother makes suppressed noises, and her thick body heaves. How can I help? What can I say?

When Papa returns, he whispers, “Stefan went to the Gestapo. He said he wanted to report breaking and entering and destruction of property. The Gestapo told him they already knew and not to bother about it. To cover himself, he pretended to be pleased saying. ‘Good, good, they got what they deserved.’ Then, he heard someone give an order to send a telegram to Vienna about ‘Salzburger Jews taken in protective custody.’ Stefan thinks Vienna is their immediate destination, but someone else told him that those arrested would eventually be sent to a camp in Germany near Munich. He and I agree. We need to leave as soon as possible. He will take care of the business and send us money.”

We wear extra clothes, bring food and a few valuables that hadn’t been found. We walk inside dark pockets of night, hiding in the shadows of tall buildings. We peer in every direction as we hurry over cobblestones and past street lamps that glare down from building fronts. At the plaza, I linger by the bronze horses that rear up from the fountain’s base. I have always loved the one on the right with his back to the cathedral. His forelegs kick above the water, head pointing up, mouth open as though about to make a loud, defiant noise.

I reach into the pool, trail fingers in the water, touch a smooth leg. “Goodbye, be brave,” I whisper, echoing the words of my classmate, Rolf, who told me more than once, “Ruth, be brave.” Mother grabs my arm.

“It’s not safe,” she says.

We arrive at the edge of town where Stefan Richert leads us inside the back of one of our Gutherz trucks, loaded for Vienna deliveries. He directs us to the right of a dresser, beyond tables and chairs and behind a bookcase. Mr. Richert has taken over our family’s furniture business because of the Nazi requirement that all Salzburger enterprises be judenrein, free of Jews. Jews are no longer allowed to own businesses.

“You know the work and the customers,” Papa had said to his friend and partner as they shook hands over the change of ownership. “You are an honorable person who will carry on the business with its tradition of quality now that my family and I have become one of the displaced.”

We conceal ourselves in the space Mr. Richert created at the back of the truck bed. He will drive us to Papa’s sister’s house in Vienna himself. Will we ever see him again, I wonder, after tonight?

Sitting on the floor at the back of the truck bed, I settle into the constant motion of wheels rolling over concrete. I go into a mournful trance, my parents sitting quietly next to me in the dark. I no longer ask questions but try to center myself, so I won’t lose my balance again as I had at the first sharp turn, jolting into a dresser corner tied to the truck wall. I listen to creaks, anticipate the changing directions and shift my weight accordingly.

During a long, straight stretch of road, I reach in my coat pocket and find a feather. I smooth the frayed ends stroking the softness. I found this treasure long ago at my aunt’s weekend home near the Wienerwald. I remember the unusual, bright colors like an evening fire. My fingers follow the spine to the delicate tip over and over.

Suddenly, as if from behind my eyes, I see the feather radiating light, and the light is so powerful the furniture all around begins to shimmer. I look at the shadowy figures of my parents. Mother leans against Papa. They don’t seem to notice anything.

Light continues to shine, growing more intense, causing solid surfaces to appear fluid. Light burns warm, within and without, and the brightness explodes.

I am floating on air, above the truck, and through the roof I see below that my parents’ eyes are closed. I see myself sitting near them with the feather still in my hands.

I am looking with bird eyes and flying with wings outstretched. Wind carries me. I experience a strong current beneath.

After what could be a short or a long time, I have a distressing premonition. I falter, my body trembles with a sudden chill. I find myself back in the truck.

 

First Chapter Reveal: From Ashes Into Light by Gudrun Mouw

From Ashes Into Light

Title: From Ashes Into Light
Author: Gudrun Mouw
Pages: 240
Genre: Literary/Visionary Fiction
Publisher: Raincloud Press

From Ashes into Light is a transpersonal tale of epic tragedy, spirituality, family, and personal redemption. It is told through three distinct voices: the haunting story of Ruth, a Jewish adolescent during Kristallnacht in World War II Austria, Saqapaya, a stalwart Native American from coastal California during the time of the Spanish conquest, and Friede Mai.

Friede is born during WW II to a Bavarian soldier and an East-Prussian mother. As those around her struggle with the inevitable chaos and paradox of war, young Friede opens her heart to gruesome enemies, at times helping her family members escape atrocities.

With war behind them, the Mai family immigrates to the US, where Friede, her veteran father and ex-refugee mother, struggle with reverberations of trauma, suspicion and prejudice. Upon leaving home, Friede meets her spiritual guide and confidant in her fiancé’s Rabbi, who helps her see that the voices from her past are teachers and the horrors of history also contain beacons of light.

For More Information

  • From Ashes Into Light is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

CHAPTER 1

Ruth Gutherz – Salzburg, Austria

 

November 10, 1938, Kristallnacht, night of shattered glass, broken bodies and broken faith. We are propelled into a chaotic world. Our Salzburg home has been torn apart.

I stare at drawers emptied on the floor, papers thrown about, clothes everywhere and my 12-year-old mind cannot comprehend.

“Papa, where are Oma Gutherz and Onkel David? Did they go to the doctor? When will they be back? Who made this mess?”

We have just returned from visiting Stefan and Anna Richert, and Papa wants to go back to the Richerts and make inquiries. Mother nearly yells, “Josef, they should be taken away? An old woman taking care of her son sick in bed? This I cannot believe.”

“Esther, believe it. Haven’t we been trying to convince you, Stefan and I? The Nazis have no mercy. We are lost.”

The pain in my father’s voice shocks me. I think, how can Papa say lost? Grandmother Gutherz and Uncle David must be somewhere.

“What are we going to do? Josef, we have to do something!” Mother stands in the midst of our ransacked apartment. Forgetting danger, she begins to cry loudly.

“Quiet. Please, be quiet,” Papa whispers. Mother chokes back sound. “What do you think we can do, Esther? Don’t you understand what’s been happening since the Nazis took control?”

Before returning to the Richerts’, Papa warns, “Keep it dark, stay still, don’t open the door.” He points to an overturned lamp and pictures from the walls smashed on the floor in a pile of splintered glass. “The place has been well gone over. It’s unlikely anyone will be back here tonight.”

Mother and I huddle on the divan, afraid to talk. I hug my knees tightly. Forehead presses bone. Mother makes suppressed noises, and her thick body heaves. How can I help? What can I say?

When Papa returns, he whispers, “Stefan went to the Gestapo. He said he wanted to report breaking and entering and destruction of property. The Gestapo told him they already knew and not to bother about it. To cover himself, he pretended to be pleased saying. ‘Good, good, they got what they deserved.’ Then, he heard someone give an order to send a telegram to Vienna about ‘Salzburger Jews taken in protective custody.’ Stefan thinks Vienna is their immediate destination, but someone else told him that those arrested would eventually be sent to a camp in Germany near Munich. He and I agree. We need to leave as soon as possible. He will take care of the business and send us money.”

We wear extra clothes, bring food and a few valuables that hadn’t been found. We walk inside dark pockets of night, hiding in the shadows of tall buildings. We peer in every direction as we hurry over cobblestones and past street lamps that glare down from building fronts. At the plaza, I linger by the bronze horses that rear up from the fountain’s base. I have always loved the one on the right with his back to the cathedral. His forelegs kick above the water, head pointing up, mouth open as though about to make a loud, defiant noise.

I reach into the pool, trail fingers in the water, touch a smooth leg. “Goodbye, be brave,” I whisper, echoing the words of my classmate, Rolf, who told me more than once, “Ruth, be brave.” Mother grabs my arm.

“It’s not safe,” she says.

We arrive at the edge of town where Stefan Richert leads us inside the back of one of our Gutherz trucks, loaded for Vienna deliveries. He directs us to the right of a dresser, beyond tables and chairs and behind a bookcase. Mr. Richert has taken over our family’s furniture business because of the Nazi requirement that all Salzburger enterprises be judenrein, free of Jews. Jews are no longer allowed to own businesses.

“You know the work and the customers,” Papa had said to his friend and partner as they shook hands over the change of ownership. “You are an honorable person who will carry on the business with its tradition of quality now that my family and I have become one of the displaced.”

We conceal ourselves in the space Mr. Richert created at the back of the truck bed. He will drive us to Papa’s sister’s house in Vienna himself. Will we ever see him again, I wonder, after tonight?

Sitting on the floor at the back of the truck bed, I settle into the constant motion of wheels rolling over concrete. I go into a mournful trance, my parents sitting quietly next to me in the dark. I no longer ask questions but try to center myself, so I won’t lose my balance again as I had at the first sharp turn, jolting into a dresser corner tied to the truck wall. I listen to creaks, anticipate the changing directions and shift my weight accordingly.

During a long, straight stretch of road, I reach in my coat pocket and find a feather. I smooth the frayed ends stroking the softness. I found this treasure long ago at my aunt’s weekend home near the Wienerwald. I remember the unusual, bright colors like an evening fire. My fingers follow the spine to the delicate tip over and over.

Suddenly, as if from behind my eyes, I see the feather radiating light, and the light is so powerful the furniture all around begins to shimmer. I look at the shadowy figures of my parents. Mother leans against Papa. They don’t seem to notice anything.

Light continues to shine, growing more intense, causing solid surfaces to appear fluid. Light burns warm, within and without, and the brightness explodes.

I am floating on air, above the truck, and through the roof I see below that my parents’ eyes are closed. I see myself sitting near them with the feather still in my hands.

I am looking with bird eyes and flying with wings outstretched. Wind carries me. I experience a strong current beneath.

After what could be a short or a long time, I have a distressing premonition. I falter, my body trembles with a sudden chill. I find myself back in the truck.

The SECRET of the KEYS Movie Blast – Win DVD!

 

We’re thrilled to be hosting Robin Jay’s THE SECRETS OF THE KEYS Movie Blast today!

 

Title:The SECRETS of the KEYS
Producer: TwoBirds, Inc.
Genre: Inspirational/Motivational
Imagine getting a life-altering call from your doctor. That’s exactly what happens to motivational speaker and author “Elizabeth” in The Secrets of the Keys. Now, the inspiration she has used throughout her career to guide others comes back to her as she attempts to make sense of her situation.
Elizabeth comes face-to-face with her spiritual guide, “Gwen,” who has an intriguing opportunity for her. Gwen takes Elizabeth on a mystical journey where they encounter impressive experts eager to share the importance of 7 Keys: Appreciation, Harmony, Courage, Passion, Faith, Vibration, and Empathy.
Will she accept Gwen’s unique offer of a new kind of existence? This empowering and transformational film is both entertaining and beautiful . . .and will forever change the way you look at life.

For More Information

Cast:

 

Watch the Trailer!

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/icETsM3NdPk?rel=0

 

About the Producer

 

Robin Jay is an award-winning filmmaker, author, speaker, and publisher. She began her career in Personal Development as “The Queen of the Business Lunch™,” a Business Relationship Expert who shares the nuts-and-bolts of building profitable business relationships, with an emphasis on smart ways to network and socialize with clients.
Robin’s award-winning book, “The Art of the Business Lunch ~ Building Relationships Between 12 and 2” (Career Press) is in 12 languages worldwide. She is also a contributor to “Chicken Soup for the Wine Lover’s Soul.” Robin has been featured internationally on MSNBC-TV, Newsweek Magazine, CNN, the BBC, the New York Times, The London Financial Times, Forbes.com and other well-recognized media outlets.
In 2006, she founded the Las Vegas Convention Speakers Bureau. As president, she not only runs the bureau and coaches speakers to success, Robin also published “The Power of the Platform,” a series of anthologies that feature messages from today’s top motivational speakers, including Jack Canfield, Brian Tracy, and Les Brown.
Robin’s first film was “The KEEPER of the KEYS” – the first FUNNY personal development movie, which stars Jack Canfield, John Gray, and Marci Shimoff. Robin wrote, produced, and costars in the movie.
Her goal was to empower viewers by keeping them engaged and entertained. She was thrilled when the movie won the Las Vegas Film Festival Award for Best Independent Film, and The INDIE Fest Award for Best Documentary.
Her latest project is titled “The Secrets of the Keys”, which features a fun, engaging fictional story along with expert testimonials and personal accounts from some of the top names in the self-help industry, including Brian Tracy, don Miguel Ruiz, Gloria Loring, Dannion Brinkley, Michael Beckwith, and John Assaraf. The film was released in January 2016 and immediately won awards, including two gold awards for Concept & Original Song from the International Independent Film Awards.
For More Information

Giveaway

Robin is giving away 3 DVDs and 3
downloads!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • Six winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one THE SECRETS OF THE KEYS DVD or one download
  • This giveaway begins April 4 and ends on April 29.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on April 30.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.jsa Rafflecopter giveawayhttps://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

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