Ability Therapy by Sarah Mueller

Ability Therapy, published in 2013 by Abbey Press, is a book by Sarah Mueller that encourages those of us with disabilities, whether physical or mental, to keep a positive attitude. In her book, Sarah also dispenses wisdom regarding how to help people without disabilities understand, relate to, and help us. Statistics tell us that one in five people have a physical disability, so the book serves as a gentle reminder that if you yourself do not have a physical disability, odds are that someone you know does.

Ability Therapy is arranged in thirty-six concise chapters, each with an accompanying picture drawn by R.W. Alley. The illustrations are elves in various situations that match the discussion of each chapter. This is an unique and whimsical idea that makes you smile as you read. The style of the book is perfect for several reasons. It is a short book that is easy to read in one sitting. The small dimensions of the book mean it can be stored and easily referred to whenever you want to reread it. And you are going to want to return to the book regularly to enjoy it and review the wisdom in its pages.

The thing I like most about Ability Therapy is how it encourages us to adopt a positive attitude in the face of our challenges. Perseverence in the face of failure. Doing as much as you can and pushing your limits. Always respect yourself and others. These are some of the lessons Sarah exhorts us toward in her book. Having a physical disability myself, I related to so many things mentioned in the book. I know from experience that the lessons Sarah shares are hard won. One of the chapters that talked about dealing with doubts when it seems you have an “invisible” disability was familiar for me. I find that a lot of people know me for quite a while before learning that I have a disability. I am sure that young people (and even not-so-young people) who read this book will beneift from the advice in these pages.

We will welcome Sarah on our on February 27. On a personal note, I am particularly excited about talking with her. She has Spina Bifida, the same physical disability I have. We have exchanged electronic messages for a while. But this will be the first time we have talked by phone.

Jim (a.k.a. Niles)

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Rules to Get Through Another Hallmark Holiday-by Tosha Michelle

1. Flowers picked, not bought. Any idiot can call the florist. It takes a special idiot to go out and create his own bouquet of suck up.

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2. Absolutely no gifts from CVS or Walgreens

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3. No plush toys, unless they are of the adult variety.

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4. The same applies for appliances.

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5. A card is a must. Extra points for a homemade one with a love letter inside.

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6. Ladies, break out the sexy underwear, or better yet, no underwear.

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7. Also, girls, no personal ads to your snuggly, buggly, baby boo…. especially if it’s the first date.

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8. Gentleman no gifts inside a ring size box, unless it’s actually a ring…a really really big ring…

Otherwise, your night is going to get all kinds of awkward .

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9. If you are alone and single on Valentine’s Day, or married and alone (hey, you never know), kick Cupid to the curb, grab a friend and go out and celebrate YOU.

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10. Make love the star of the show all the time, not just on some commercial cliche holiday made popular by Hallmark. Love is alive and all around us. Take time to experience and bask in it presence every day of your existence. Embrace love. Feel love. Be love.

“Where there is love there is life.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

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The Weight of Words author, Georgina Guthrie. on writing, wine and love in an elevator.

Our guest today is The Weight of Words author, Georgina Guthrie. GG can write her socks off and she’ll have you reading yours off. Georgina was kind enough to talk to us about writing, the critics, lust and red, red, wine. Apparently, it does go to her head. Sit back, put your feet up and enjoy the class, the sass and a bit of smart ass that is the lovely Georgina Guthrie. Oh and buy her book! Yes, you!

1. What compelled you to write The Weight of Words?

Compel is a strong word. What actually happened was a convergence of timely events. I discovered an on-line writing community at a point in my life when I’d changed jobs and had extra time to genuinely pursue a hobby I’ve always enjoyed, but never actually shared with others. The Weight of Words is a story that’s been rattling around in my head for over 20 years, since my own days at Vic. *winks*

2. What kind of research did you do for the book?

I didn’t do much in the way of research, with the exception of rereading Antony and Cleopatra, just to refresh my memory of the dynamic between those two characters in preparation for one of the scenes. I don’t really consider reading Shakespeare to be “research” though. Research sounds laborious. I don’t find the Bard laborious. You probably figure that out. 

3. How much do you think about your readers when you write?

That’s an interesting question. When I was posting on-line, I thought about readers’ responses a great deal. Not that I pandered to readers, but I did sometimes think about what they might like to see characters doing. In the edit-for-publication stages, there’s certainly consideration of readership, but not as much room for scenes designed merely to “please audiences.”

4. In the novel, desire is a huge theme. The longing between the main characters Daniel and Aubrey is palpable. They yearn so much for one another but can’t be together. Why do you think the forbidden is so enticing?

Daniel and Aubrey don’t want to be together because their relationship is prohibited—they want each other in spite of the forbidden aspect. Having said that, we live in a culture where delayed gratification is becoming less and less the norm, in all the things we do, relationships included, and the reluctance to delay having sex in relationships is certainly a part of that.

As far as Daniel and Aubrey go, their desire to be together is inspired by their circumstances, too. Daniel is desperate for a meaningful human connection after having a miserable year. When he meets Aubrey, he almost hears something “click” in his brain—his heart, wherever that type of epiphany lives.

5. The Weight of the Words is the first in a trilogy. When can we expect the next book to come out?

I’m about to move into the editing stages with Better Deeds than Words. I think it’s safe to say early summer (but don’t hold me to that. LOL).

6. Shakespeare’s work factors heavily in your novel. Have you always been a fan of the Bard?

My first exposure to Shakespeare was reading A Midsummer Night’s Dream in a ninth grade English classroom. And yes, I was blown away from the outset.

7. Who are you reading? Who are some of your favorite authors? What are some of your favorite books? Who did you read while writing this book?

I have a very eclectic reading taste. I love Canadian Lit—Margaret Atwood, Ann-Marie Macdonald, Timothy Findlay, Robertson Davies. But I also love world literature—books that teach me about life in other cultures. My favourite books in that vein are A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry and Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. We all need escape though, and I love YA books for that very reason. Unfortunately, when writing and editing, reading goes on the back burner.

8. Do you read reviews of your writing? How do you react to particularly good or bad reviews? Do you incorporate criticism or praise from reviews into your learning process as a writer?

I struggle with self-confidence, so I’ve found reading negative reviews, or stumbling across people bashing my writing in a public forum to be difficult. (I’m not referring to constructive criticism—more so to thoughtlessness and nastiness). I was more bothered by it when I was posting on-line. I don’t understand the compulsion some people have to react so negatively and harshly to something that is free.

Now that I’ve published, it’s a little different. I try to take a useful kernel from even the nasty reviews. Obviously, I want to become a better writer. If someone’s negative review helps me achieve that, then great!
(You’ll notice that I only addressed the negative part of this question. LOL. I need to do a better job of feeling bolstered by the positive reviews instead of allowing a few negative reactions to rise to the top. Working on it!)

9. You’re able to evoke strong emotional responses from your readers, what advice can you offer writers wanting to forge that same kind of connection with their readers?

When I write, I do my best to keep the characters real. They’re not superheroes, or porn stars or fairy tale characters. They’re real, and because of that, they’re flawed and possibly more recognizable. People are more likely to connect with those kinds of characters and to identify with them…to say, “yep, that’s totally something I would do…”

Random
1. Describe yourself in three words
Kind. Self-deprecating. Um…sleepy?
2. Kindle or traditional read?
Both. Sometimes at the same time, sometimes alternating.
3. Would you rather be trapped in an elevator with James Purefoy or Sylvain Reynard?
Sadly, I had to Google James Purefoy. I guess that answers that question…LOL.
4. What’s your theme song?
I don’t think I have one. I can tell you this—whenever New Order’s Bizarre Love Triangle comes on, it doesn’t matter where I am, I drop everything to dance and lip sync. Does that count as a theme song?
5. I say pudding. You say…
Treacle. (Oh man, now I’m craving treacle pudding. Damn you!)
6. Beer, wine, or hit me with the Jack, baby?
Wine. Unequivocally.
7. What would you title your memoir?
That’s a toss-up. If it were about writing:
In my Write Mind.
If it were about life in general:
How Red Wine Saved my Life

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You can find GGon the web being fabulous at:
https://twitter.com/georgey_girl
http://www.inmywritemind.com/

and check out The Weight of Words, available at Amazon.com

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Andy Behrman Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania

Stigma has long surrounded mental illness and is rooted in a lack of understanding and ignorance. It’s important that we as a society become informed and educated about what mental illness truly is. Here’s a clue- it’s not called an illness for nothing. It’s an ailment and a disease. Andy Behrman’s Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania is one book that helps shed light on mental illness, specifically bi-polar disorder. Andy’s book reads like a Quentin Tarantino film with a dash of Steve Martin thrown in. I defy you to read this book and not come away reeling.

Fueled by his mania, Andy was on a collision course with disaster including: drugs, illicit sex, prostitution, aimless globetrotting, and art forgery along with a stint in jail. Did I mention illicit sex? I did, well I mean some downright kinky and risky stuff. It’s amazing Andy lived to tell the tale. This, my friends is the reality of bi-polar disorder: self destructive behavior, substance abuse, promiscuity, extreme highs and crushing lows. It’s brutal.

Andy has been battling this debilitating disease for the better part of his life. Misdiagnosed for years, he was prescribed a pharmacy’s worth of prescription drugs meant to stabilize his moods and help him function, but to no avail. As a last resort his doctors had him try electroshock therapy. After many rounds, he’s now stable and thriving. But what a journey to get there. In a head spinning and roller coaster ride of prose, Andy chronicles his bouts of mania and depression. His words mirror the disease itself. You’ll get a taste of the bitter pill that is bi-polar disorder. Andy is shockingly honest and real. He holds nothing back. Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania is disturbing, poignant and eye opening read. Andy doesn’t just explain bi-polar disorder, he makes you feel it.

To learn more about Andy Behrman please visit his website at http://www.electroboy.com
And you can find him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/electroboyusa

He’ll also be joining us on our podcast La Literati in March. Details, coming soon.

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Interview with Faith in a Box Author-Rick Greenberg

Today’s featured guest is Richard Greenberg, author of Faith in a Box, a memoir of faith and renewal. It was the early 90’s and Rick Greenberg had it all, a beautiful wife, adoring children, and a great career. Rick, a marine, had seen his share of trying times. He had fought in two wars, Vietnam and Iraq and lived to tell the tale. Life was beautiful, but on a fateful weekend, during a Vietnam vet reunion, his perfect world was turned upside down. Tragedy would strike, taking from Rick his dearest and leaving Rick, himself, near death and in a coma. Doctors gave no hope to the family. However, thirty days later, Rick awoke. His doctors were stunned. His family knew it was a miracle. Rick wanted no part of it. All he knew was that his wife was gone and so was his faith.

Faith in a Box chronicles Rick’s grueling recovery, his journey into the abyss and how miraculously he found his way back toward the light and a faith he thought was long lost. It’s a story of love and courage, inspirational and uplifting. I dare you to read this book and not be moved.

Rick was kind enough to consent to an interview via e-mail below is our exchange.

1. Rick, your story read like a testimony (and a powerful one at that). In the book, you hold nothing back. You’re very honest about your loss, your struggles, your doubt in God, and your journey into the abyss and back. How difficult was it to put your life on display like that?

This was perhaps the most difficult thing I have ever done. In the book, you read how I gave a few testimonials to my church congregation and thought I was done. It was more than twenty years later before I felt compelled, by God, to write the book. When I gave my testimonies in church, I had to confess that I was a non-believing sinner. I felt, if I’m going to do this, then I must tell it all, leave nothing out, no matter how embarrassing or hurtful it was, and is to me.

However, the thing that I most agonized over was how my children would react after reading the book. They were unaware of most, if not all that went on during my trip into the abyss. My youngest gave me five stars, the middle one said how he enjoyed knowing a lot of what was happening and said, “Well done Dad.” My oldest said that she was proud of how honest I was about telling all, and commended me on my bravery to do this. However, perhaps the best came from my stepson who said, “This was like a love letter to your family.” Overall, though I still cringe when someone I know is about to read the book, I believe I have done exactly what God has wanted me to do.

2. You truly are a walking miracle. By all accounts, you should not be here right now. What do you say to doubters or people who discount your story?

Unbelievably, no one has. Those that have read the book find that it is not my memories that tell the story, but those who witness it. . Each family member telling how the doctors all agreed, I was dead. How my brother testifies, in his own words about the neurologist who came in the middle of the night and says, “He is brain dead. You must consider removing him from life support.”

If anyone discounts the truth about this story for reasons they cannot accept what seems impossible, then to them I say what the doctor who removed my breathing device said the day I awoke. “This isn’t possible. No one goes from the sate he was in to where he is now in three hours. Yet here I am. Sometimes Faith is all we have.

3. What compelled you to write Faith in a Box, and for our readers, could you please explain the meaning behind the title?

First, I need to tell you how I came up with the name, “Faith in a Box.” I already knew that the book would be about my blaming God for what happened to my wife, Cindy, and me. I knew I was writing about a journey of little to no faith, to total faith in Jesus Christ. I prayed on what to name the book. Then on one particular Sunday while attending church services, my Pastor’s sermon was talking about, “As hard as you try, you cannot keep God in a Box.” I grabbed my wife Kim’s arm and said, “That’s the name of the book, Faith in a Box.”

The meaning behind the title is this. I knew there was a God. I believed this from childhood, but my faith in Him was very weak. My family and some medical staff all declared me a miracle. I woke from a coma thirty days later struggling with a medically induced addiction and paralysis. I could not read, write, tell time, nothing. The rehab doctors all agreed, it would take years for me to recover. I needed to blame someone or something. That was going to be God. But my Faith in God was something I did not want to deal with. I could not believe in a loving, good God. Yet my family kept reminding me of their faith. I didn’t want to hurt them. So, I took that faith, took God and put it in a box. I closed that box lid and it was gone.
As I have already explained, I did not want to write this book. I felt I had given three testimonies and that was all God wanted from me, wrong. God wants me to tell the world about this miracle. He wants everyone to know he is here with us, and he’s still doing miracles.

After putting off the book for more than twenty years, I had forgotten all about it. Then in November 2011 my wife Kim is diagnosed with advanced cervical cancer. The doctors all say they need to act quickly if she is to have a chance. Kim is crying and I’m scared. After the original shock subsides, memories of the loss of Cindy return. The pain of going through another wife dying has me begging God for his help. Praying for an answer of why Kim. With all that pain from those years long ago resurfacing from my fear of losing Kim, it struck me. I need to write this book, I knew immediately that God was going to be there with me. That every word I write He will guide me.

So I began to write. I talked with the hospitals and asked for anyone who had anything to do with that time in my life to come forward and write down what they remember. I would sit downstairs while Kim was receiving her chemotherapy, writing. I wrote day and night until the book was finished. In August 2012, Kim was declared cancer free and has remained that way ever since. God did not give Kim cancer, but He did cure her, praise Jesus. In His infinite wisdom, God knew this was coming to Kim. He used it to give me a kick in the pants to start writing.

4. There are themes of forgiveness, survival and renewal resonant throughout the book. What do you hope your readers walk away with after reading Faith in a Box?

Very simply, first, I hope they will come away with a truth that God does exist, and he is still in the business of doing miracles. He is in our lives, guiding us. He is there when we laugh and when we cry. If we hurt He comforts, if troubled He stands with us. He will never abandon us, even if we tell him to get lost. His love for us in endless, and there is nothing you can do that will shock him into abandoning you. No sin is too big for Him to forgive, which is why Jesus died on the cross.

Second, I hope that anyone who suffers the loss of a loved one will understand they are not alone. There are people out in this world that can, and will help them, and there is a loving, and good God, ready to be with them. To know that one day they will see them again.

Third, for anyone suffering through an accident or an illness and find they are in pain, paralysis, or mental disorder, and all they want is to regain a life they once had, there is hope. Through God, all things are possible.

5. Are there any more books in the works?

Yes there are. I am near completing my book on Vietnam. The book is based on my life experiences while serving with the First Reconnaissance Battalion, First Marine Division from September 1969 to September 1970. This book began before Faith in a Box and I started writing it because I felt I had forgotten too many things. Friends, places, incidents I needed to remember.

It is not about heroes, or famous battles. Most of us in Vietnam were not heroes. We saw combat, some more than others, but all we wanted to do was get back home. The story is just about an average Joe trying to do his job for his buddies and get home to his wife and baby. There are battles that never made the news or the military history books, but nonetheless, they’re fought with the same ferocity and bravery as such places as Hamburger Hill and the battle for Hue City. Every event in the book actually took place in Vietnam. It covers an entire twelve-month Tour of Duty and that is its name, “Tour of Duty.”

When Tour of Duty is finished and published, I hope to start a sequel to Faith in a Box. This book will cover a faith tested beyond what most of us could endure. Yet, this faith only grew to become a faith so big, so beautiful it stands today as a beacon in the sky for our family to follow.

To learn more about Richard and his amazing life and book, please go here: http://rickgreenbergauthor.com/
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The Weight Of Words-(The be all, end all of books)

The Weight of Words, by Georgina Guthrie, is a delight for lovers of the Bard and romantic fiction. Aubrey Price is a University of Toronto student finishing up her last semester of her undergraduate degree, and striving to graduate with distinction. She is very down to earth and spirited, and works part-time for the Dean of College to make ends meet. Aubrey’s world is shaken up when she encounters the dean’s son, Daniel Grant; a handsome and complex man. There is an instant and palpable attraction. There is one slight problem; Daniel is her TA in her Shakespearean studies course. The university has a rigid anti-fraternizing policy. To further complicate matters, Daniel already has a black mark on his record. What does a woman do when the only man she wants is out of reach? What does a man do when the only woman he desires is off limits?

The Weight of Words is a must-read and a wonderful debut for Georgina Guthrie. It may sound trite, but I was hooked from the first sentence. And the book has yet to let go; even after reading the final page. While The Weight of Words has elicited comparisons to Sylvain Reynard’s brilliant trilogy, Gabriel’s Inferno, make no mistake, Guthrie has an idiosyncratic voice that is distinctly her own. I fell in love with Aubrey and Daniel, and you will too. Audrey is, quite literally, a contradiction in terms. One moment she might be throwing out words like dude, deets, or the occasional F-bomb. The next she is reciting Shakespeare with ease. Guthrie has a knack for channeling the way college students talk, as well as an extensive knowledge of the Bard. In Aubrey, she has created a brilliant, witty, feisty to the core, fiercely independent, young woman. How can you not love that? As for Daniel, move over Mr. Darcy. Gabriel, get thee behind. You gentlemen have some new swooning competition. Daniel is handsome, worldly, a bit of a brooder, but equally as sharp and witty as Aubrey. The chemistry between the two leaps off the pages (Holy, hotness, moly).

The book provides all the passion, angst, humor and sexual tension that any lover of romantic fiction could want. The cast of characters is hilarious and lively. A particular favorite of mine is Penny (Daniel’s brother’s English fiancée). She is ballsy, has no filter, and will leave you in stitches. She’ll teach you some colorful colloquialisms too- cheeky git that she is.

Guthrie also presents Shakespeare in a fun and entertaining way. The reader can’t help but feel the author’s love and appreciation for the Bard. If ole Shakey were alive today, Guthrie’s novel would surely make him even more smitten with the “weight of words”. Who knows, perhaps he had a prophetic vision of her book when he was writing Sonnet 18 😉 Could his beloved have been a novel? Okay, maybe not. But let’s go with it, shall we? I leave you with the Bard words and encourage you to purchase The Weight of Words. Georgina Guthrie is a masterful storyteller with an observant eye, a witty writer that will make you laugh out loud, and an author with a finely tuned sense of emotion and romance. I can’t wait for the next installment in the ongoing romantic adventures and hardships of Daniel and Aubrey.

SONNET 18
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st;
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

You can find Georgina Guthrie on the web at:
https://twitter.com/georgey_girl
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Georgina-Guthrie/133334970209975
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19139026-the-weight-of-words

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