Proud Member since 1998

Friday, October 31, 2014

K S Ferguson on What Readers Want From a Hero #Fantasy #WriteTip #AmReading

What makes a hero? According to bestselling thriller author John Sanford, a hero has to be handsome (or beautiful if female), intelligent, and successful. Think about your favorite books. Does that description apply to the characters you liked most, the ones you were thinking about weeks, months, or even years after you put the book down?

Writers are warned to stay away from clich├ęs. If all main characters meet Sanford's description, won't they begin to seem like boring, cookie-cutter characters? How do writers address the diversity of problems characters encounter if the main characters are all alike?

River Madden, the main character in Touching Madness, has schizophrenia. Because of his homelessness, he's not under the care of a doctor or receiving medications that miraculously make him 'normal.' He's small, thin, and a dedicated pacifist. While he's able to keep himself fed by selling sketches on the street, he's not what society would consider a success story. He's the antithesis of what Sanford says readers require in their heroes.

But readers love River. He's frequently described as 'vulnerable.' His mental illness is not the whole of who he is. It's a complicating factor. He's able to cope with it because he has high intelligence and a self-deprecating sense of humor about the difficulties the schizophrenia causes.

If readers require handsome heroes and writers want to sell books, then shouldn't writers eliminate gay characters, minorities, the handicapped, the mentally ill from their lists of potential heroes? A literature professor once told me that it was the writer's job to hold the mirror up to society. Is a world peopled by nothing but handsome heroes an accurate reflection? What about you? Do you enjoy stories about characters who aren't beautiful people?

Touching Madness

Light bulbs talk to River Madden; God doesn't. When the homeless schizophrenic unintentionally fractures a dimensional barrier and accidentally steals a gym bag containing a million dollars, everyone from the multiverse police to the local crime boss—and an eight-foot tall demon—are after him. Can he dodge them long enough to correct his mistakes and prevent the destruction of three separate dimensions? If he succeeds, will the light bulbs stop singing off-key?

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Contemporary, Urban fantasy
Rating – R
More details about the author

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Ultimately, People Will Think What They Think, Says @AmyLewisAuthor #Life #Grief #Memoir

Integration: Inviting all parts of yourself to the dinner table

I am a chameleon; I’ve known for a long time. I sit across from someone, even a stranger, and within 60 seconds I can unconsciously read them and magically transform myself into what they want/expect/need me to be. This can make dating a nightmare when the day comes that they realize I am not that person. But otherwise, I don’t see this quality of mine as a problem. It’s allowed me to have a wide range of life experiences that have added flavor, texture and profound wisdom to my life. I no longer get confused about who I am, nor do I feel victim to my experiences. In a mystical way, I know I am none of these things and at the same time all of them. Being so open with my identity has led me down a lot of different winding paths – some open and expansive, some muddy and full of holes and some complete dead ends. I have been an athlete, a mental patient, a porn producer, a scholar, a self-mutilator, an abused wife, an actress, a widow, a divorcee and a single mom; I’ve made enough money to put me in the 1% club at times, and I’ve also lived in poverty.

Inside It’s taken me a long while, but I’ve gotten to a place where I don’t judge my past or the more socially unacceptable experiences I’ve had.  But I feared others would judge me, so I did a lot of hiding publically, keeping too many secrets, separating my life and friends into compartments. Social media became a bitch; I needed too many profiles to encompass my whole life, so I rarely participated. The truth, of course, was no one really cared; I wasn’t a celebrity and most people were probably too caught up in their own self-contained dramas. Still, it takes courage for quiet girls like me to say to all of your contacts – this is who I am. This has been my life. Having just published a memoir I am very in touch with the courage it takes to share your story that at times may be raw and puzzling to those you know.

Ultimately people will think what they think, the only judgments that matter are my own.  And I’ve had a lot of judgments about myself, about the dark moments of my life. I’m learning to let those go. It takes a lot of time. I want to sit at a giant dining table and feast with all parts of me – the parts that look so gorgeous and the parts that look desperate, ugly and afraid. All parts of me are invited to this luscious, colorful feast that I call my life.


Diagnosed with Borderline Personality disorder, Amy struggled with depression and an addiction to sharp objects. Even hospitalization didn't help to heal her destructive tendencies. It took a tumultuous relationship with a man named Truth to bring her back from the depths of her own self-made hell.Amy's marriage to dark, intriguing Truth was both passionate and stormy. She was a fair-skinned southern girl from New Orleans. He was a charming black man with tribal tattoos, piercings, and a mysterious past. They made an unlikely pair, but something clicked. During their early marriage, they pulled themselves out of abject poverty into wealth and financial security practically overnight. Then things began to fall apart.

 Passionate and protective, Truth also proved violent and abusive. Amy’s own self-destructive tendencies created a powerful symmetry. His sudden death left Amy with an intense and warring set of emotions: grief for the loss of the man she loved, relief she was no longer a target for his aggression.

Conflicted and grieving, Amy found herself at a spiritual and emotional crossroads, only to receive help from an unlikely source: Truth himself. Feeling his otherworldly presence in her dreams, Amy seeks help from a famous medium.

Her spiritual encounters change Amy forever. Through Truth, she learns her soul is eternal and indestructible, a knowledge that gives Amy the courage to pursue her own dreams and transform herself both physically and emotionally. Her supernatural encounters help Amy resolve the internal anger and self-destructive tendencies standing between her and happiness, culminating in a sense of spiritual fulfillment she never dreamed possible.

An amazing true story, What Freedom Smells Like is told with courage, honesty, and a devilishly dark sense of humor.

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Memoir
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
Connect with Amy Lewis through Twitter

10 Things You Didn't Know About Sophie Kinsella by Madi Brown @Madithe1brown #MustRead #ChickLit

10 Things You Didn't Know About Sophie Kinsella

SK (Sophie Kinsella) is easily the SJP (Sarah Jessica Parker) of Chick Lit. She's written over a dozen novels, with each of her works centering around strong female characters that modern day women love to read about. If she's extremely fashionable, enthusiastic about her career, and if she still holds a place card for family and friends then we're all in aren't we? Many of us have read her books in one sitting, but what do we really know about Sophie Kinsella the woman? Well---as I soon found out, this author is just as interesting as the multidimensional characters that she creates. Here are 10 facts about Sophie Kinsella that you probably didn't know:

1) Sophie Kinsella once considered writing a thriller. Yes, it's true. And if her agent hadn't told her that what she'd come up with wasn't dark or gritty enough, then we may have been able to judge for ourselves.

2) Sophie Kinsella admits that she can relate to all of the characters that she's concocted in her best-selling Chick Lit books. Once, while she was nursing her baby, she opened up the door for her mailman---and her shirt was unbuttoned! It was a Becky Bloomwood moment that she'll always remember.

3) When asked what profession she saw herself in if she wasn't an author, Sophie Kinsella revealed that she'd be belting out songs as a singer of course ( after all, she did study music at New College Oxford).

4) It takes Sophie Kinsella nine months to pen a novel. She breaks it up into two stages. The first phase involves coffee, and sitting down, planning and taking notes. The second phase involves total isolation where it's just Sophie writing like a mad woman to speaker blowout-blaring loud music.

5) One of Sophie Kinsella's books (Sleeping Arrangements) was adapted into a musical. It premiered in London on April 17, 2013.

6) Someone has been really busy in between books. Sophie Kinsella has five kids; four boys and a girl. Is anyone else thinking what I'm thinking? How-in-almost-Brady-Bunch name does she find the time to write?

7) Guess who's hooked on eating nuts and having packets of them wherever she goes? Sophie Kinsella.

8) Life imitated art on an instance when Sophie went out Christmas shopping. She loaded her baby stroller up with so many bags that there wasn't any room for the baby.

9) Sophie Kinsella has a customized pen for all of her author book signings. She keeps it stored in gold bubble wrap.

10) Who knew? Sophie Kinsella anonymously sent a novel that she'd penned to her own publishing house under a different pen name.She remained tight lipped about doing so until her book, Can You Keep a Secret was published.


"If you LOVE New York, if you’re a name-dropping, fashion fiend careerist; fed up with serial dating, plagued with a thirst for sex, then you’ll totally stalk me for what I've penned.” - Author, Madi Brown


29-year-old Emily Greene looks the part, but she’s still working on becoming a modern-day woman. Not that she’s one to back down from a challenge, but living as an eternal work-in-progress wasn't exactly the goal that she had in mind. It’s a harsh but true realization---the idea that that time isn't on her side, and the notion that wanting to have it all, doesn't mean getting it. The verdict is in; with zero prospects for a relationship and a stalled blogging career, Emily has every reason to believe that she’s been living a life too humdrum for her own good.

Making the change won’t be easy. She’ll have to do whatever it takes; start dating like a man, become more selective about which RSVP's she accepts, and work even harder at getting her dream job.The payoff’s huge; a modern twist on a storybook ending, but gains don’t often come without risks. In the here and now Emily just may be forced to choose...It’s got to be one or the other----the profession that she’s always wanted, or the love that she’s never had.

˃˃˃ Praise for Madi Brown & 

her debut novel, The Truth About Emily

"The added depth of character promises complexity but wraps everything in the saucy cloak of Emily's evolving personality and newfound beliefs about life, love, and the real nature of happiness. And this is where The Truth About Emily outshines many competitors, making it a recommended read for those seeking more than a standard romance novel." - D. Donovan, eBook Reviewer, Midwest Book Reviews

"This book has just about anything a girl would love to read about. If there's anything Emily Greene has is ISH and lots of it, oh the ending... This book is a total keeper, just anything about fashion to relationships to friends and family." - Y. Sanchez, Goodreads

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Contemporary Women's Fiction
Rating – PG18
More details about the author
Connect with Madi Brown on Facebook & Twitter

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, October 25, 2014

@KimberlyShursen on What Indie Writers Should Not Do #WriteTip #SelfPub #IndieAuthors

Five Things “Thou Shalt Not Do” as an Indie Writer
By Kimberly Shursen 
Author of Itsy Bitsy Spider, Hush, and Lottery

Oh the ups and downs in the life of an author. You’ve released your first book, and finally it reaches 29,000 on the Amazon rankings. Your stomach is doing continuous somersaults. Suddenly, the novel soars into the top fifty books in your genre. OMG! Is there any sweeter feeling? And then wham, it plummets to 298,000. Hang on, my friends, as we all know this gig is an unending exciting, yet many times torturous roller coaster ride.

Raise your hand if you want to give up. I’m waiting … that’s what I thought. No hands up. Once you’ve given birth to a plot, and created characters you swear you know better than your own mother, there is no escape. You’re hooked.

The pitfalls, however, are many. Starting with your first novel, avoid the dangers of being what many refer to as ‘just another indie author.’ Believe me, I’ve fallen into the pits, and will go to any length to avoid that frightening, dark abyss again.

  1.  Do not employ a friend to be your editor. Let me reiterate: Don’t do it! Save a friend, and avoid the reviews that, even if the book is well edited, might come back to drive a wedge between your friendship. Employ someone who has a proven and successful background in editing in the genre you write. Check their references, and ask them to edit at least one chapter before you start. Even after all this, send that edited chapter to someone else to review before you commit.
  1. Do not tell another author you will trade reviews; a five-star for a five-star. These are easily spotted, and hold absolutely no merit. In fact, I have heard that an overall four-star review holds more merit as readers will believe the reviews are honest.
  1. Never respond to a bad review. Hit a pillow repeatedly, throw several glasses across the room, or bite down a bullet as it is what it is; even if it isn’t factual or true. Read it once and never read it again.
  1. Do not underestimate a “street team.” I started a street team a year ago and they are indeed “the wind beneath my wings.” There are only fourteen of us that make up the Hush team. And it is a hush team. No one shares anything we discuss, and the page is totally private. The purpose for starting the Facebook page was duo fold; they shout out news about my books, or book signings, or interviews, and we share what we wouldn’t share with our regular social network friends. We value friendship before my work. We all know, however, that if someone else shouts out our praises, their words hold more merit.
  1. Do not tell everyone you have written the next greatest American novel; not even your best friend. Humility carries more clout. You write because that’s what you do. Period. Finish your first novel and make the next one even better putting to use comments from reviewers, authors, friends, and even enemies. Find two or three beta readers willing to read your book and then compare notes. Suck in every piece of advice you hear or read and then apply it.
Publish your book, sit back, draw in a breath, and say, “I’m a damn good writer. Even if I’m never well known, and at times people nail me to the cross with reviews, I am a damn good writer.”


Soon after Ann Ferguson and Ben Grable marry, and Ben unseals his adoption papers, their perfect life together is torn apart, sending the couple to opposite sides of the courtroom.

Representing Ann, lawyer Michael J. McConaughey (Mac) feels this is the case that could have far-reaching, judicial effects -- the one he's been waiting for.

Opposing counsel knows this high profile case happens just once in a lifetime.

And when the silent protest known as HUSH sweeps the nation, making international news, the CEO of one of the top ten pharmaceutical companies in the world plots to derail the trial that could cost his company billions.

Critically acclaimed literary thriller HUSH not only questions one of the most controversial laws that has divided the nation for over four decades, but captures a story of the far-reaching ties of family that surpasses time and distance.

*** Hush does not have political or religious content. The story is built around the emotions and thoughts of two people who differ in their beliefs.

 EDITORIAL REVIEW: "Suspenseful and well-researched, this action-packed legal thriller will take readers on a journey through the trials and tribulations of one of the most controversial subjects in society today."

Katie French author of "The Breeders," "The Believer's," and "Eyes Ever To The Sky."

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Thriller
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
Connect with Kimberly Shursen through Facebook and Twitter

Friday, October 24, 2014

@MargaretWestlie Shares an #Excerpt from ANNA'S SECRET #AmReading #Historical #Mystery

Angus trudged toward home after accompanying Sam to his own gate. The moon had risen and the countryside around was a shifting panorama of shadow and light. Presently he reached his own gate and stood for a moment gazing across the fields that were his farm. It’s a shame that this land’ll likely grow up in trees when we’re gone. I regret not having a son. I have no one to leave my property to, and the fields that I stopped farming two years ago are already going back to woods. I had thought to leave it to young Donald, him being my closest relative after Ian, but I don’t know anymore, the way he’s behaving. The gate clicked shut behind him and he started down the lane, his pace quickening as he caught sight of the soft glow of candle light from his kitchen windows. He could picture Mary there, darning a sock or hemming a winter shirt for him and humming one of the old songs, and he felt warmed by it. He slipped quietly into the candle-shadowy kitchen and stood for a moment watching her work. She sensed his presence and looked up from her mending, and smiled.
“You’re home, then,” she said with satisfaction. 
Mary looked at him keenly. “What’s troubling you?”
Angus met her bright gaze. “I was just thinking about all the unhappiness that Anna’s death has caused us, and we’re no nearer to finding out who did it than the day it was done.”
“Did you see Ian this evening?” Mary picked up her work again.
“No, but I saw the work of Donald, and it wasn’t good.” The chair squeaked as Angus shifted his position. “D’you know that young rascal paid Little Rory and James tuppence each to tie up Catherine’s cats together by the tails and hang them over the clothesline?” Indignation filled his voice. “The poor beasts were that frantic by the time I got there to free them! They’ll never be the same again.”
“Oh, dear-o! And she always made such pets of them. They were like her children. She’d have them in the house and everything. She’ll be heartbroken if they were hurt. … I wonder where Donald got four pence to give away? I didn’t know Ian paid him.”
“Well, that’s just it, where did he get the money? I’m wondering myself if I should tell Ian about this. He’s got enough to contend with now. What d’you think, Mary?”
Mary considered this in silence for a few moments, her hands idle in her lap. “It’s true enough that he’s got his hands full, but he can’t remedy the situation without all the facts. I don’t think it would be a kindness to keep this from him. It may be something that needs nipping in the bud. Donald may be heading for some real trouble that perhaps could be prevented if his father knew.” She took up her mending again, and settled her glasses more firmly on the end of her nose.
Angus looked across at her as she bent her grey head to her task, her work-roughened hands always so capable, neatly hemming a patch on his trousers that would make them serve another year. A great love for his wife filled his heart and he leaned over and kissed her wrinkled cheek, a rare expression of caring from an undemonstrative man. “You’re a good and wise woman, Mary,” he said.
She smiled back at him. “And I’m married to a good man.”

Anna Gillis, the midwife and neighbour in Mattie’s Story, has been found killed. The close-knit community is deeply shaken by this eruption of violence, and neighbours come together to help one another and to discover the perpetrator. But the answer lies Anna’s secret, long guarded by Old Annie, the last of the original Selkirk Settlers, and the protagonist of An Irregular Marriage. Join the community! Read Anna’s Secret and other novels by Margaret A. Westlie.
Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords
Genre – Fiction, mystery, historical
Rating – G
More details about the author
 Connect with Margaret Westlie on Facebook & Twitter

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

@MarcADiGiacomo on Marriage & Saving Someone's Life #AmWriting #AmReading #Thriller

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Marc A. DiGiacomo

1)      I am a real New York Police Detective (retired) who worked for a small town.
2)      In A Small Town was my first published work but it isn’t my first story.
3)      I am a huge fan of the band Pearl Jam, In A Small Town, is a shortened title of one of their songs.
4)      I have saved someone’s life.
5)      I have a dog named Lola, she’s really sweet, sometimes.
6)      My favorite time of year is the fall.
7)      My favorite NFL team is the Miami Dolphins.
8)      Unlike Matt Longo, I can never remember any of my dreams.
9)      I married my high school sweetheart.
10)   I can eat an entire watermelon, as long as it’s perfectly sweet.


The small town of Hutchville, New York is turned upside down. No longer is it the quaint, sleepy, suburb of New York City. Detective Matt Longo is back on the job and embroiled in his latest nightmare. Further complicating matters is the revelation of his partner’s corruption and organized crime ties; Donny Mello has left a bitter trail of lies and deceit. With his kid brother and newly promoted Detective Franny Longo by his side, will Matt be able to put his past behind him?

Special Agent Cynthia Shyler, (F.B.I.) has been reassigned due to her meeting with Matt Longo. Will this move complicate their relationship? Or will a new stranger in town spin a web that entangles the entire Hutchville Police Department, especially our most seasoned detective, Matt Longo?

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Thriller
Rating – R
More details about the author
Connect with Marc A. DiGiacomo on Facebook & Twitter

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Craig Staufenberg Shares His Pet Peeves of the Publishing Industry @YouMakeArtDumb #AmWriting

Pet Peeves of the Publishing Industry
I’m annoyed by how nice everyone in the publishing is. Really. I’m sure there are some rude people, but I haven’t encountered them. Only nice folks, and that makes it hard to dislike the publishing industry as a whole. It’s much easier when you see “publishing” as this monolithic beast with a stranglehold on creativity, especially your own creativity. But that’s just not the case.
Which means there are two realities you have to face about publishing.
One, that it’s not out to get you. It’s not prejudiced against you. If it rejects you there are reasons for doing so, and not because the people are mean, jealous and spiteful.
Two, the publishing industry is trying to do something very, very difficult. Namely promote art, entertainment, and creativity, all while still keeping the lights on. Anyone who has tried to support themselves via their creative output knows how difficult this is. Now multiply that difficulty—think about trying to support an entire company, or even an entire industry, on creative work. It’s insanity, and I’m surprised publishing companies have been as successful as they have.
Really, think about it for a second. We’re not talking about selling widgets here. We aren’t talking about the success of an industry that sells bathroom cleaner. There’s nothing predictable about books. As long as the bathroom cleaner works, and as long as you market it, then you’re going to do alright. The same can’t be said about books. Even if a book is good, and even if you market it, there’s no guarantee it’s going to sell enough to warrant its investment. Now consider the fact bathroom cleaner companies don’t have to reinvent their product hundreds of times a year, and publishing companies do, and you see it’s sheer madness this whole industry works at all.
OK, it’s not a perfect analogy. The way publishing company’s sell their back catalogue and the works of established authors operates a lot like selling widgets. Pretty reliable. But still, publishing is trying to do something very challenging—balancing the demands of art and commerce, which have, as Linds Redding noted in his must-read post, always been strange bedfellows. Especially since publishing companies need hits to thrive and not merely survive, and these companies are completely unable to predict what the next hit is going to be. No one predicted Twilight. No one predicted Fifty Shades of Grey. Or Harry Potter.
In fact, when it comes to the book trade, the only people who have an even harder time than publishing companies are the authors themselves. While publishing companies are able to spread their bets across a large number of different books a year, even an ultra-prolific author isn’t going to crank out more than a few. The odds a publishing company will hit a home run on any given year is much higher than the odds a single author will.
Which, I suppose, is my biggest pet peeve of the publishing companies. They survive, while many, if not most, of their authors who fail. An author can spend their whole life writing books that don’t do spectacularly well, and that author could easily live a lower compensated, less comfortable, and less protected life than the employees and owners running the publishing companies. Publishers take on much smaller risks than authors. Publishers make small financial gambles, while authors bet their lives. Yet publishers have much higher upside than authors.
Bear in mind, this is an institutional issue. No evil genius thought this up. It’s how pretty much every large creative industry operates—from books to movies to music. But we’re not powerless here. And I’d like to see a publishing industry where the authors themselves are better rewarded, or at least better protected, than the companies that publish them, as the authors, always, are putting much more on the line.

When you die, your spirit wakes in the north, in the City of the Dead. There, you wander the cold until one of your living loved ones finds you, says “Goodbye,” and Sends you to the next world. 

After her parents die, 12-year-old Sophie refuses to release their spirits. Instead, she resolves to travel to the City of the Dead to bring her mother and father’s spirits back home with her. 

Taking the long pilgrimage north with her gruff & distant grandmother—by train, by foot, by boat; over ruined mountains and plains and oceans—Sophie struggles to return what death stole from her. Yet the journey offers her many hard, unexpected lessons—what to hold on to, when to let go, and who she must truly bring back to life.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Middle Grade
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
Connect with Craig Staufenberg through Facebook and Twitter

DOUBT - INSIDE/OUTSIDE by @JennyHayworth1 #JehovahsWitness #Abuse #AmReading

Imagine that someone you love dies. You no longer can see them, speak to them, or touch them or have any literal experience with them except within your mind and heart. This is what being disfellowshipped or disassociated from the Jehovah’s Witnesses means to those who are cut off. They are treated as if they are dead to those remaining in it.
When I was an active member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and believed a hundred percent in it, I had always believed what had been taught to us from the platform by the elders and in The Watchtower magazine (published twice a month by The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society).
I believed that when baptised Jehovah’s Witnesses decided (because they had bad hearts) that they no longer wished to be Jehovah’s Witnesses, they would say to the elders that they no longer wished to be known as Jehovah’s Witnesses. It was a totally voluntary process, I was taught, and it occurred because these people wanted to do things that were condemned by Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Bible and so no longer wanted to continue being known as one. It was a voluntary separation on their part from the organisation even though they would realise it would cause enormous pain for their families.
Since these people knew that by choosing a lifestyle contrary to one Jehovah God wanted them to lead (as set forth by The Watchtower Society), they knew their families would have to cut them off in obedience to the scriptural direction given by the Apostle James on how to treat those who left the fold. This was to treat them as if they were “dog[s] returning to [their] vomit” as the scriptures put it.
The families would not be allowed to speak to them, eat with them, or greet them. In fact they were instructed to treat them as if they were no longer living. If their families did associate with them and didn’t repent for it after being given the opportunity to do so by loving elders who would try to turn their hearts back to obedience to God’s way, they also would be disfellowshipped.
The elders saw disassociation as a choice made by a baptised person even though both—disassociation and disfellowshipping—were treated in exactly the same way. Disfellowshipped ones might have just made a mistake and need to be punished for the behaviour in which they had engaged. So they were often seen as not having badhearts but as having been led astray or needing to be shocked into realising the seriousness of their actions. People could, however, commit any disfellowshipping sins, and if they were expressing enough remorse or contrition they might not be disfellowshipped.
Talks were constantly being given from the platform about all the things one could be disfellowshipped for including fornication, adultery, homosexuality, and any sexual conduct considered “Unclean” or classified as “pornea.” Also idolatry and celebrating worldly holidays (birthdays, Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Halloween) were considered disfellowshipping offences, as they were all pagan in origin.
However, when I asked the elders why witnesses like myself could wear white wedding dresses and wedding rings, both of which were pagan in origin, and asked who picked which historical customs were allowed to be practised and which weren’t, they could not give me an adequate answer.
We just had to be obedient to the direction of The Watchtower, and if they changed their understanding because of a “light” from God in the future, we would be told. But in the meantime, we had to be patient, be obedient, and wait.
My major doubts had surfaced while being reprimanded in New Zealand about going to worldly counsellors for my children when they disclosed their sexual abuse. I had not received counselling from anyone, and this had not helped me. I knew deep inside myself that I had to get help for my children other than just what the elders would provide. I didn’t want my beautiful children to experience the extreme guilt and fear I had experienced because of the abuse by Pop and all that flowed from it.
I could not see how elders who were not trained as counsellors in any way, shape, or form and had no formal education on sexual abuse victims and how to counsel or treat them could have been better than trained professionals. Also I could not see how, if someone broke the law of the land by sexually abusing a child, only the elders and not the judicial system should have dealt with him or her. I had scriptures quoted at me at the time saying God appoints elders, so they are his representatives on earth and not some worldly judging system that does not understand the ways of God’s people.
Again I could not see how, if police were not involved, the guilty person’s just saying sorry to the elders would stop it from happening again or to someone else. Who was accountable? If a member of the congregation murdered someone, he or she had to go to the police and to court. Why not those who committed sexual abuse and rape? Why were these lesser crimes? Why did they not warrant criminal inquires?
When in Wellington, New Zealand, and taking the children to see the counsellor, I had been disturbed by what I had seen happening in our own congregation, where Leonard was involved as one of the elders. A young girl disclosed past sexual abuse that had happened to her, committed by a witness male friend who had worked for her father. She had stated he had come into her room and raped her a few years previously, when she had been about thirteen years old. Now that she was sixteen years old, she had disclosed it.
The accused had previously been married and had two daughters. The daughters had disclosed sexual abuse, but they were still young, only five or six years old. The ex-wife had gone to the police and was taking the children to see the same sexual-abuse counsellor I was taking my children to.
She didn’t know me, but I knew her as the two children had been at the meetings with their abuser on access visits up until the disclosures had been made. His ex-wife had been disfellowshipped, and he had remarried, and his new wife was only seventeen years old and pregnant with their first child. He had apparently written a letter of confession to the elders. The police had requested to interview the head elder, known as the Presiding Overseer of the congregation the accused attended. The Presiding Overseer had come to our house to have an urgent meeting with Leonard, who was then the Secretary of the congregation, and the Treasurer. These were the three main elders in each congregation who dealt with these matters.
As the Presiding Overseer was leaving the house, he said the letter had to be destroyed at all costs, as he had spoken to a solicitor and it was up to the prosecution to prove guilt—he did not have to supply evidence that would incriminate the accused. He also spoke about how he believed that the confidentiality of a confession to elders should be considered the same as the Catholic Church did it, and no elder should therefore have been forced to tell a policeman or court what had been disclosed by a member of the flock to him.
He was saying if the letter was found, the brother would most certainly be found guilty (he had pled not guilty in court) and would spend a long time in prison. As he was very repentant and had promised not to do it again, and had responded to the counselling of the elders, they needed to protect their flock.
It sickened me to listen to them talk. I instinctively thought, but what about protecting his children and his unborn child?  What about the children from the congregation who went to his house? The young girl had been counselled by the elders not to say anything to anyone. She came in distress to see me one day after arguing with her witness mother, with whom she had a volatile relationship, and said he had been made to apologise to her, so it was all meant to be okay now.
I knew from my own experience as an elder’s wife and from visiting other elders and their wives that rarely was anything kept as confidential as the congregation was repeatedly told it was. I knew that within a few days, every one of the elders and their wives would know what had been said and discussed, and all who were close to them as friends would be told. There was no confidentiality, in my experience. I didn’t want what had happened to my children and any disclosures I made to be dinner talk around people’s tables. I couldn’t bear for that to happen. So I just knew I had to go outside the congregation.
The most important reason, though, stemmed back to my childhood fear and memories. Hearing the talk given from the platform when I was a child about the scriptures in the Old Testament that said if a woman was raped in the field and didn’t cry out, she was guilty of adultery and was to be stoned to death, frightened me enormously. I had frozen when Pop abused me. I had been unable to move due to fear at times when I was in the bath, in the cupboard, or under the bed. During what had happened on the tennis court, the leadenness in my legs prevented me from moving, and the fear up tight in my throat and chest meant I was unable to scream or make a sound; I had a total inability to fight back as I was immobilised by fear.
I had spoken to Amy and Ben’s counsellor, and she had been quite forthcoming in explaining that children can fight, flight, or freeze. And abusers often picked those they felt would not fight back but would freeze or comply for many varying reasons, but it certainly did not mean the children wished it to happen.
At the time of Benjamin and Amy’s being abused, there was a case getting media coverage involving a woman in the United States, where a man had been found not guilty of rape due to the fact she had made him use a condom in the middle of raping her. Some of the local elders said this showed willingness and compliance. The woman had awoken to find a man on top of her, who she did not know, with a knife held to her throat. She had condoms in her drawer. When she realised he was going to rape her, she begged him to put on a condom as she was so frightened of getting HIV or another venereal disease. He put it on. Then he left afterward. She went to the police, and it had gone all the way through to trial. He was found not guilty because of the condom use. I was outraged.
I thought, here was a woman having enough wits about her to protect herself in any small way she could, even in the process of being violated by a stranger with a knife, and because she didn’t fight him, as she wished to survive, and he complied and wore a condom, it was taken as consensual? I was horrified. Many Jehovah’s Witnesses I associated with agreed with the court finding as it concurred with the biblical teaching we’d had drummed into us.
Another case was also in the media of a woman who did not scream or resist as the man had broken in and had a knife, but she had a young daughter asleep in the bed next to her. So she lay quietly and did what he said, as she was terrified if her daughter woke up she also would be assaulted or otherwise hurt. The man left, and because the woman had not screamed, the issue of consent arose. I argued vehemently with the elders that surviving was the most important thing, and no one in their right mind could think she gave consent when it was a stranger with a knife held to her. They kept parroting the scripture, though, as if they were unable to think outside the box.
Even when discussing this same issue with my friends, Lisa and Matthew, I would get frustrated. Matthew said if someone broke into his house, and his wife didn’t scream, he would wonder why. Lisa replied instantly that of course she would scream. I put to her that if she were so terrified she couldn’t run or make any noise, would that mean she consented? She couldn’t give an answer except to say she would scream, and it wouldn’t happen that she wouldn’t. And then they said God wouldn’t have put that in the Bible if it were not reasonable.
I was upset and angry, to say the least. I could not believe that, as scientific evidence clearly showed, a person has no control over his or her physical reaction to fear. So why would God punish people for that? I repeatedly said to the elders that I didn’t believe in a God that treated people like that, and that The Watchtower’s interpretation of those scriptures must have been wrong.
One day an elder came to the house and lent me a few books and magazines he had in regard to biblical questions I had raised. I read them, but they gave me no new answers that satisfied me—nothing besides what I had already found out through studying the society’s literature myself. I had them for a while and then one day put them in Leonard’s briefcase for him to give to the elder at the next meeting. I rang the elder to let him know Leonard would be giving them back, as I was not attending many meetings at that stage. I felt like I would be a hypocrite if I continued to go door to door, trying to convert people to a faith with some doctrines I no longer accepted. I also was spending my time trying to cope with my marriage issues and my own emotional state.
The elder asked me if I had found the magazines useful, and when I thanked him for giving them to me but stated they had not answered my queries, he enquired if he would see me at the field service group that Saturday. I said no and said that as I no longer went witnessing, I no longer considered myself to be a witness. He went quiet and asked me to repeat that statement. As we were repeatedly told from the platform, if we did not go door to door then we were not witnesses for Jehovah. I again stated to the elder that as it had been months since I had been in field service, I did not consider myself a witness anymore.
The conversation ended pleasantly enough, and I thought no more of it. At the time I didn’t realise this innocent phone conversation, which had taken only two minutes, would alter the course of my whole life.
If I had known, I might have paid more attention.

***Award winning book (finalist) in 2014 Beverley Hills International Book Awards***
Jenny Hayworth grew up within the construct of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, which she describes as a fundamentalist cult-like religion. She devoted her life to it for over thirty years. Then she left it. The church “unfellowshipped” her-rendering her dead to those family and friends still committed to the church.Hayworth is a sexual abuse survivor. The trauma changed her self-perception, emotional development, trust, and every interaction with the world.
Inside/Outside is her exploration of sexual abuse, religious fundamentalism, and recovery. Her childhood circumstances and tragedies forced her to live “inside.” This memoir chronicles her journey from experiencing comfort and emotional satisfaction only within her fantasy world to developing the ability to feel and express real life emotion on the “outside.”
It is a story that begins with tragic multigenerational abuse, within an oppressive society, and ends with hope and rebirth into a life where she experiences real connections and satisfaction with the outside world.
Those who have ever felt trapped by trauma or circumstances will find Inside/Outside a dramatic reassurance that they are not alone in the world, and they have the ability to have a fulfilling life, both inside and out.
Foreward Clarion Review – “What keeps the pages of Hayworth’s life story turning is her honesty, tenacity, and sheer will to survive through an astounding number of setbacks. Inside/Outside proves the resilience of the human spirit and shows that the cycle of abuse can indeed be broken”
Kirkus Review – “A harrowing memoir of one woman’s struggle to cope with sexual abuse and depression while living in – and eventually leaving – the Jehovah’s Witnesses”
Readers Favourite 5 Star Review – “The book is an inspiring story for those who are going through traumatic times…”
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Memoir
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
Connect with Jenny Hayworth on Facebook & Twitter

Thursday, October 9, 2014

A Day in the Life of Author Mikey D. B. @mikeydbii #AmReading #Dystopian #Thriller

It all begins at five in the morning.  I wake up, make a protein packed breakfast and watch parts of documentaries while I eat.  I’ve watched documentaries on Hitler, Bigfoot, social media conspiracies, economics, magic, and basically anything I can find on Netflix that interests me at the time.  Anyway, after I eat/watch I finish getting ready for my day and then make the drive to work.

Sometimes these drives to work are the best part of my day.  Anytime before six in the morning, the roads are desolate, the mornings are cool, sun is usually rising, and it is just a good time to ponder about things.  There’s something about seeing a fresh new day begin that I love.  Maybe it’s because all the angry, muckiness of the world is still asleep.  I don’t know, but early mornings, as hard as they are to get up for, are some of the best things to experience.

So, after my morning drive, I head into my day job which consists of a lot of heavy lifting and calculations of length.  I work at a labeling manufacturing business where I coat and die cut the various labels for our clients.  You’d be amazed at how heavy paper is.  In rolls of 10,000 feet and sometimes more, these things can be up to two hundred pounds.  For the most part, I like my job.  It’s a keep-to-yourself kind of job and me being the anti-social one I can be, it gives me the opportunities to listen to music and podcasts.  In fact, a lot of my research for books happens in my eight hour shifts at work.  I download a set of podcasts I think will be relevant to what I’m trying to write, and then I listen to them.  I really can’t ask for a better time because after I get off work, my day doesn’t have a lot of wiggle room.

After my shift, which ends at about two in the afternoon, I bust my way on over to the gym.  My workouts are pretty intense, two mile runs at least, three to four mile bike rides and then a half hour of heavy weights.  I’m really trying to get ready to compete in a triathlon, so my workouts have to be pretty frequent or I’ll never train my body the way it needs to be.

Now this is where it gets kind of crazy.  I’m a high school football coach as well and practice starts at 4:30.  So I have just enough time to work out, rinse off, and get a quick bite before heading over to the school to yell at kids.  I love it!  The sport, the atmosphere, the kids, the other coaches I work with.  It’s one of the best opportunities that I’ve had come across my way.  I was hesitant to take on the responsibility at first, with the craziness of my writing and work as it is, but it’s seasonal and I couldn’t pass up the chance to get back into the sport.

Practice lasts until about seven, I get home at about eight, eat, and maybe get some writing in.  Mostly though, I’ll wind down and watch an episode of the office with my wife or we’ll just talk and read together.  The evenings, like my mornings, are a chance for me to think, process what’s happened in the day.  Maybe write them in my journal if I have enough to say.  After or before the hustle and craziness of the day, it’s in these times when I’ll turn to my scriptures to get guidance, peace, and reassurance (or chastisement—it all depends on what my attitude has been that day).

After having wrote this, I realize how packed my day is.  I think the important thing, no matter how busy we are, is we need to make sure we have our priorities in the right place.  For me, it’s: God, Family, Country.  I know if I put God first, that’ll only strengthen my resolve to take care of my family, and if I know my family is taken care of, I know I can then make decisions to take care of my country and community.

Saga of the Nine

Change affects everyone and it is no different for Jackson. Living in Area 38 for as long as he can remember, he knows of no better way to exist than under the tyrannical rule of Christopher Stone, son of Stewart Stone from The Nine of The United Governmental Areas, aka The UGA. This all takes a dramatic turn when Jackson finds a red, metal box buried in his yard, filled with illegal artifacts—journals, a Bible, CDs, etc.—that are from a man of whom he has no recollection of: Mica Rouge.

 The year is 2036 and Mica, unlike Jackson, does know of a better way of life but is torn apart as he sees his country, The United States of America, crumbling from within by group known as The Political Mafia. The Mafia has infiltrated levels upon levels of governmental resources and it is up to Mica and a vigilante group known as The USA Division to stop them and their dark Utopian vision. To their demise, and at the country's expense, The Division fails and has no choice but to watch The Constitution dissolve and transform into The UGA.

In a final stand, having not given up hope, Mica and what is left of The Division, give one final fight in Colorado, or better known as Area 38. However, all is lost as The Division is betrayed by one of their own, Stewart Stone. Mica is left with no choice but to hide in exile, leaving what little history he can of himself and the great United States of America, with his wife, long time friends, and newly born son in hopes that they will one day finish what he could not.

Jackson, having found this legacy twenty-seven years later, decides to start the war that will end The Nine, and he with an outcast group known as The Raiders, begins his fight with Christopher Stone in Area 38. Filled with betrayal, unity, despair, hope, hate and love Area 38 follows both Mica and Jackson in their attempts to restore what they believe to be true freedom, and where one fails, the other rises to the seemingly impossible challenge.

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Dystopian Thriller
Rating – PG13
More details about the author
Connect with Mikey D. B. on Facebook & Twitter