Nonfiction

Release Your Stress and Reclaim Your Life

Release Your Stress and Reclaim Your Life - Joseph G. Langen, Ph.D.

It's 2016 and stress runs rampant in our world. Whether it's trying to get to work on time, fighting the daily commute, or simply trying to get your son to cooperate as you're attempting to get your house ready for yet another realtor showing (a little too specific?), we all struggle with stress. 

And it seems that many employers believe that our stress level somehow equals our efficiency level. If we're not stressed, we're not being challenged enough. 

In his book, Release Your Stress and Reclaim Your Life, Joseph Langen draws from his 35 years as a professional psychologist to help his readers fight off stress and the horrible effect it can have on your life and health. 

This book will help you gain a better understanding of stress and why it has a hold in your life. From there, Langen gives many ideas on how to combat stress and lead yourself to a more peaceful and stress free life. 

This is a book that I plan to read again, especially when I have a little more time to focus on it. Learning to conquer your stress will require some life changes, not just a guided meditation when you're feeling overwhelmed. In order to truly learn to manage stress and keep it out of your life, serious and permanent changes will need to be made. 


Some Bio Information

Dr Langen, also known as Joe, is a retired psychologist. He worked for 35 years with children, teens, adults and seniors helping them with all sorts of stress in their lives. 

Dr. Langen graduated from the University of Illinois in 1971 with a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology. He worked at Temple University Counseling Center offering individual and group therapy to Temple students.

He next worked at De La Salle in Towne, an alternative high school and treatment program for delinquent boys in Philadelphia. He then moved to Western New York where he worked as Supervising Psychologist at Genesee County Mental Health Services in Batavia, specializing in treatment of teens and alcoholics.

At DePaul Mental Health in Rochester, he held the position of Chief Psychologist and Child and Adolescent Team Leader, offering individual, family and group counseling. He also participated in the Child Abuse Treatment Program.

He then entered private practice, offering individual and family therapy with children, teens and adults which he conducted in Williamsville NY and Batavia NY. He also conducted evaluations for Social Security, New York State Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities and the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles.

He began writing a newsletter for his private practice on commonsense wisdom topics. In 2000, he switched to a biweekly newspaper column at the Daily News in Batavia which he continued to publish until 2015. 

He is currently working on his latest book, From Violence to Peace. The goal of his writing is to help his readers live a more peaceful life in harmony with themselves, with each other and with the earth.


Q&A

1) What inspired you to write this book?
 
My thirty-five years as a professional psychologist inspired me to write this book. Everyone I worked with suffered from stress of one sort or another. I studied stress throughout my years of psychological practice and became well aware in my counseling of the many ways stress affected people's lives. Now that I am retired from working as a psychologist, I wanted to share what I have learned over these years and up to now have only been able to share on a one-to-one basis. 
 
 2) Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?
 
I get ideas from my reading of books, magazines and newspapers as well as from Google alerts. Once I have an idea I think is worth pursuing, I might try a trial balloon with a blog. If I think more needs to be written, I consider a book-length treatment of the topic. I realized that stress has been addressed by many writers but never in a volume combining the definition and understanding of stress, its effect on the body, mind, emotions, and spirit. Then I wrote about how stress affects people in each of these areas and added ways to help with each kind of stress.  I tried to write at least five days a week for several hours, usually in the morning while working on the book. I also had several trusted readers for ways to improve the book.
 
3) What types of readers would benefit the most from this book? 
 
his book is geared for adults and older teens. I see it as most useful for readers who want to understand what causes stress, particularly the kinds of stress which affect them. It is meant for people who are ready to take a thoughtful look at the workings of their inner life and relationships to see how they could arrive at a more peaceful way of life.
 
4) What do you hope that readers take away from your work?
 
hope readers will take away a better understanding of what stress is, where it comes from, how it affects them and what they can do about it on a variety of levels- physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.
 
5) Are there any additional resources you would recommend in the journey to battling stress?
 
hysically, I would recommend balanced nutrition and care in use of chemicals. Mentally I would recommend practice of yoga and mindfulness meditation, s well as organizing your life. Emotionally, I would suggest keeping a journal to help you be aware of your emotions and learn to manage them. Spiritually, I suggest learning to see your life in a wider perspective than your own personal wants and desires. Books I think especially useful are Thomas Berry's The Dream of the Earth, Albert Ellis's New Guide to Rational Living, Thomas Moore's Care of the Soul, Don Miguel Ruiz's The Four Agreements, and Carla Wills-Brandon's Learning to Say No: Establishing Healthy Boundaries.  
 
6) What is the first step in successfully overcoming/dealing with stress? 
 
To my mind, the first step in handling stress is to admit its presence in your life and find some perspective by asking those who love and care about you whether they see you as suffering from stress and how they see it affecting you. It's hard to be objective about yourself.
 
7) What’s your ultimate writing goal?     
 
My ultimate writing goal is to help my readers live a more peaceful life both inside themselves and in relationship to others with whom they share the journey through life. I am currently working on a book, provisionally titled From Violence to Peace.     

A Glimmer of Hope

A Glimmer of Hope - Debbi Silverman

We all need hope in this day and age. With so much seeming to go wrong around us, and all the negativity in the newspapers and on tv, it's hard to stay positive and see the inspiration in our daily lives. 

Debbi Silverman takes the time to retell and celebrate the miracles that she's seen happen in her own life and the lives of her family members throughout the years. 

Written in a positive, upbeat, and inspirational manner, this book will leave you considering your own life and looking at the situations you've survived in a different light. She shows that it's important to look at our journey from all sides, not just considering the negatives, but all the positive that came from those negatives, or even just how surviving it made you a stronger individual. 


Some Bio Information

Debbi Silverman is a crazy mom who juggles a teenager's nightmarish dance schedule, volunteering extensively because she has issues saying no, a career and her passion for writing. She is happily married to an amazing man who allows her to be a lunatic as much as necessary to achieve her dreams and supports her wholeheartedly. She has three adult sons who had the good sense to move out and start their own families. She lives in New Jersey with her wonderful husband, teenage daughter, and neurotic toy fox terrier where there are exorbitant property taxes and she dreams of moving to a warmer climate.


Q&A

1) What inspired you to write this book?

The prologue explains how I arrived at this place where writers sit at paper strewn desks muddling through thoughts and notes and emotions trying to organize them into something interesting, coherent and readable. My journey is probably pretty unique. The reality - God told me to write the book. I know it sounds fantastic. It is fantastic and weird. When you consider God spoke to me from the backseat of a red Chevy Cavalier it is even more bizarre. It's true though which makes the whole book about miracles even more miraculous. 

2) Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

It was terrible for this book. I'm a purger. I sit and write and stuff pours out of me and I can write for hours or I sit and putter and accomplish nothing. Feast or famine at the keyboard is a daily occurrence. With "Glimmer of Hope", God told me to write it and I went home and wrote 128 pages in one sitting and it was amazing....then I edited it for grammar and sucked all the passion out of it. It was awful. So for 10 years I puttered and edited it and rewrote it and struggled with it. I couldn't figure out for the life of me what was wrong. Then in January of 2015, I read through the manuscript and realized it was autobiographical. Trouble is I'm not all that interesting. I had edited the miraculous nature of the stories and God out of the book. I set upon correcting that and it was like a domino race to the finish, the whole thing literally fell into place.

3) What types of readers would most enjoy your work?

For this book, most definitely anyone. It is non-denominational and definitely not an authoritative religious book. It is a fun and interesting look at miracles and God's hand touching lives in some spectacular and often amusing ways. Definitely not your preachy teachy kind of book. I don't do preachy teachy. 

4) What do you hope that readers take away from your work?

I'd love if people would take the time to reflect on their own lives and the miracles within it and to take just a moment to be grateful. I know that I often forget all the blessings I have when I'm busy worried about that which I don't have. That which I don't have usually involves money. God always provides but it doesn't mean that despite a book, and hearing God's voice, and knowing about all these miraculous things and experiencing them, that I still forget to be grateful for what I do have. 

5) Who is your favorite fictional character?

Wow. This is hard. The well read me would like to say Jane Eyre, but that is rather predictable, although Jane rocks. My favorite works of fiction have wonderful characters, but neither has a favorite that is jumping out. Delores Claiborne comes to mind as one of my favorites. From the book of the same name by Stephen King, she is a survivor. Murdering her way out of an abusive marriage and working for years as an abused employee of a stingy and bitter old woman her slanted thought process may be unorthodox, but her survival instincts are spot on. She has done a terrible thing out of necessity, she dodged the bullet and survived by sheer luck. It isn't lost on her and the price she pays is more abuse, yet in the end she turns out to be more kindhearted and good beneath the very calloused shell around her heart. 

6) How would you describe your writing style?

Emotional. I'm certain there are very distinct styles of writing, but honestly I write whatever I hear in my head. The words stumble out in a conversation of sorts that tells a story. The words may be mine or may be a characters. I suppose the style changes depending on which voice is telling the story. "A Glimmer of Hope" is my voice sharing the stories and miracles that shaped my life. My next book, "The Seamstress" is very different in tone and style. It's a fictional book, part of a trilogy. The protagonist, a fourteen year old princess stripped of her crown and forced into exile in the Americas, she learns to survive in ways she never imagined in her privileged world. From New York City to Washington State her travels and exploits are back breaking and life shaping. The stories are loosely based on my 2nd time great grandmother, great grandmother and grandmother's lives. I have several stories in the file waiting to come to life. Each book is very much like a child. It has a unique voice, personality, and style.  

7) What’s your ultimate writing goal?

A bestseller of course!! Fame, Fortune, Fun!!!  Naturally, to have those things it would mean people love reading my work, so that is probably most truly my goal. To have lots and lots of readers who love my books. For now though, I'd take more self discipline and better focus, so I can accomplish more in the time I set aside to work on writing. I used to admire Danielle Steel and Stephen King because they could kick out a book or two a year. I now worship James Patterson in his dedication to his art. I believe that on "Sunday Morning" last week he said that he will be publishing 57 books this year. 57! Imagine that. Now he does have a staff, but even so, he shared his files - the long legal style drawers which surrounded his office. There were at minimum eight that he showed and within them were file folders each containing the beginnings of a work in progress. There were hundreds of files. I aspire to that level of creativity and passion and dedication. I was so in awe. 

My Father's Son

My Father's Son - John Davis

There are stories that are difficult to read due to violence, gore, or even the level of fear invoked from reading them. But then there are stories that are difficult to read on a whole other level. 

My Father's Son is a memoir that takes you down a dark journey into a difficult childhood filled with physical, emotional, and mental abuse that would leave many individuals scarred and bitter. But John Davis shows how he used his childhood to grow and mature, eventually coming to terms with his past and learning what he can from the events that transpired. 

The book is exceptionally well written, and each chapter is laid out in an easy to read format that draws you in and keeps you hooked for the remainder of the book. I simultaneously found it difficult to read as I watched a young boy filled with fear and apprehension, and was unable to put it down as I had to know how it all progressed. 

Highly recommended. Well worth reading. 


Some Bio Information

John Davis grew up in Brooklyn and Staten Island, NY, and now lives in West Milford, NJ, with his wife and their two cats. He works as a Plant Manager and is pursuing a Master's Degree in Business. My Father's Son is his first book.


Q&A

1. Tell us a little about what inspired you to write your story. 

After I got over the shocking truth about my father, I thought about how it would be a good book... or movie even. I mean it was a crazy story and life.  So it took me about 9 years to do something about it and actually write it and now it's done and out there. 

2. How long did it take you to put your work together? 

I wrote the book over 6 weekends last July and August and then spent another 6 weeks or so putting it all together and editing it 

3. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? 

I actually wrote it all on my iPhone at the beach.  I would type the stories into emails that I would then email back to myself at home.  I would just type as it came to me without any real thought on structure or anything.   So after I got home from the beach each weekend I would have a dozen emails of thousands of words that I then put together into chapters. It's amazing how it came together.  It almost wrote itself.  

4. What was your least favorite part of the writing process? 

The editing process was rough. I would read almost the entire book front to back every night and always found things that needed fixing.  Some fixes were quick and other parts still bother me now.  When I finally read it a few times in a row without noticing any major problems I knew it was ready.  By then I was so sick of it and didn't want to look at it anymore  

5. How would you describe your writing style? 

My writing is very straightforward and to the point.  There's no filler.  Nothing like 'it was an April morning and the sun just broke over the horizon'. None of that.  Each chapter gets right back into the meat of the story. 

6. What is your ultimate writing goal?

To be able to write another book   This one wrote itself.  I'm not sure how I can write another one. 

7. What would you like readers to take away from your work?

I want them to like it although it's a hard book to say you 'like'. It's very disturbing in parts - the violence, the abuse, the language. But I want them to feel something I guess.  Just feel and know you can overcome your upbringing, no matter what happened to you , to still do great things.  

From Sex Appeal to Self Appeal

From Sex Appeal to Self Appeal - Susan Bremer O'Neill

I always admire when people have the courage to share their true stories: not just the sunshine and rainbows version. It's through the hard times that we truly learn about ourselves and about who we want to be. This memoir is no different. Susan shares the most difficult times of her life in an attempt to help other women avoid the same hurdles that she faced.

Susan tells her story in an easy to read tone that makes it easy to fly through the pages. I felt connected to her and found myself nodding at so many of the twists and turns she faced. I feel that her story is an important one for women to hear. If we all learned to love ourselves first, we could avoid so many of the relationship hurdles that are thrown at us. 

Overall an excellent read. I felt her ups and downs, cringed at some of the decisions made, and remembered making some of those decisions for myself when I was younger. However, this book is not for the faint of heart. Susan outlines some difficult times in her life and while the lessons learned are incredibly powerful, the journey is not lighthearted. 


Some Bio Information

Susan Bremer O’Neill, author, speaker, self-relationship coach and Self Appeal® Founder, has been a pioneer and trail blazer her entire life. She graduated from high school at the age of 16, then went on to complete a Laser Technology Program at the age of 23, graduating with high honors, the only woman with a group of men. Working in science for twelve years, she then abandoned that work and became an exotic dancer. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in 1998, produced the woman-empowering DVD, Striptease for Real Women in 2004, and today champions women’s and girls’ empowerment to value and love their body for their most fulfilling lives.

Although her highly personal memoir took her ten long years to write and publish, she’s become more prolific with the support of a loving husband and her family of five rescue animals, two dogs and three cats.


Q&A

1. What made you decide to put your story into book form?

There are many women confused as to how to get and keep love.  I wrote my story to further understand why I took the journey I did, and that perhaps other women will see themselves in my feelings and confusion and not have to make some of the same mistakes I did.

 2. What would you like your readers to take away from your work?

First and foremost, I’d like them to have a good read. Second, I hope they gain some insight into themselves. Third, I hope they get inspiration and perhaps a loose road map on how to stop looking for love in all the wrong places and in all the wrong ways. Fourth, I hope it prompts them to stop and really think about the situations they put themselves in and what is it they really want, not what someone else thinks or says they should want.  Specifically, I’d like them to gain some power to set boundaries and say, “no.”

3. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

I start with notes on the computer.  Once I have enough notes and the idea has blossomed with more relevant thoughts and concepts in my brain, it becomes a more realistic book idea (I have 3 books started right now).  Next, I pick the book to focus on and print the pages out to sort through the notes and put them into chapters.  I then print the pages out again and in the mornings when my mind is fresh, I sit in silence and edit and write long hand. The momentum and process of moving thoughts from my brain through my arm, hand and onto the paper helps me delve deeper and be more authentic.

I enter the writing into the computer at the end of the day, print the page or pages anew and start fresh the next day with a clean sheet and a clear mind. I spend a few hours on a page or paragraph and then I move onto the next paragraph or page.  Once the entire first draft of the book is done, I go back into the writing and spend even more time, sometimes, as in the case of a memoir, I close my eyes and really put myself back into the situation in order to write about it more honestly. 

If I’m really being true to myself, often in these moments there are relived emotions and that’s when I know I’m in the right writing space and that the episode is important to keep in. I’ve included some pieces in this first memoir that were hard to share, but leaving them out felt like it wouldn’t have been true to the book and the purpose.

4. How long did it take you to write your work?

All in all, the entire work from start to finish took me almost ten years. I had many fits and starts and much frustration.  My biggest challenge, like many women, is that I was always looking for the “best” or “right” way to write.  I probably wrote the equivalent of two entire books before this memoir, but this is the one story that has a beginning, middle, and an end. Then while I was writing, I had to learn to go deeper.  The first draft was only one hundred pages and eight chapters but editors and friends told me they wanted more about relationships.  It took me over five years to write what is now eleven chapters and 350 pages.  After it was written, it took me a few years to get the courage to publish because I was worried about what others would think, especially my mother.

5. How would you describe your writing style?

I write creative nonfiction with an intense focus on first person and a commitment to truth. I fall into a natural rhythm of “show and tell,” often using an experience and then dissecting that experience with psychological insight. Even in the nonfiction writing that isn’t centered on memoir, I like to use first person experiences because people pay attention and learn more easily through story.

6. What’s the great piece of advice you can give to your readers?

On writing—Just do it! Write the shitty first draft. No one has to see that but you. You won’t get to the stuff underneath unless you get the stuff on top out. On a personal perspective, love has to start inside. Value your body and embrace the beauty and power of your sexuality in a healthy life-affirming way if you want to get, have, and keep love.

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?

My goal is to help every woman (and ultimately every person) have positive nurturing relationships with themselves so they may have their best relationships and lives possible. I write nonfiction and while I have another memoir in the note gathering stage that continues where this last one stops, with my husband and how we develop our relationship, I also write self-development nonfiction to help people grow confidence, courage, and have more healthful choices. 

A Rose for Sergei

A Rose for Sergei - K. Kidd

I rarely pick up nonfiction books to read. When I do read them, I almost always enjoy them, it's just that I prefer to live in my little fantasy land. :)

A Rose for Sergei is not your typical nonfiction - at least, it wasn't for me. It's as if I was watching a real life thriller/romance unfold right in front of me. While there seems to be some mystery surrounding Sergei's life, this story shares a side of him that many people who know of him probably don't consider. 

It's all very well written, and the ending tugged at my heart. I have to agree with the author that it is a story that needs to be told and shared. After reading this, I'm very interested to learn more. 


Some Bio Information

The daughter of a U.S. Air Force pilot and stay-at-home mother, K. Kidd grew up living in Okinawa and all across the United States.  She was seventeen when she started working for the Federal Government in Washington DC.  The mystery and intrigue of the intelligence world fascinated her.

After leaving Government service, K. Kidd worked as an administrative assistant for Fairfax County Public Schools in Northern Virginia.  She currently resides in Virginia with her husband and family.

To this day she still looks behind the shower curtain.


Q&A

1. What made you decide to put your story into book form?

This was a true story I never planned to tell, let alone publish.  After I saw a documentary movie discrediting Sergei Kourdakov’s book, The Persecutor, I knew I needed to write A Rose for Sergei.  Controversy is a powerful motivator.

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

Sergei Kourdakov was a Soviet defector and former KGB agent.  It would be forty years before I put the memories of our time together into book form.  Once I made that decision, the words tumbled effortlessly onto the paper.  I already knew the events; the story is a part of my life and was always there.

3. How long did it take you to put this work together?

It took over a year for my book to be ready for publication.  Because I met Sergei at my Federal Government office, I was required to submit my manuscript to the Department of Defense Pre-Publications Office.  It was a nail-biting two months before I received word that my book was cleared for publication.

4. What was your least favorite part of the writing process?

In order to write about Sergei, I had to relive the events leading up to and after his tragic death.  When you write, you just don’t tell, you show what’s happening.  Those chapters were the most difficult for me to write.

 5. How would you describe your writing style?

Being a memoir, I used more of a conversational style of writing.

6. What would you like your readers to take away from your work?

I would like readers to take a second look at Sergei Kourdakov’s life.  A Rose for Sergei is a continuation of Sergei’s story.  It reinforces his book and reveals what his life was really like in the United States.

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?

That’s an easy question for me.  My writing goal is for people to know that Sergei’s story is real.

Out of the Bubble

Out of the Bubble - Shelby McGrath Myers

To say that this book tugged at my heart strings would be an understatement. It takes a lot of courage for someone who's gone through a traumatic event to decide to put pen to paper and share their experience with the world. Even more so when that traumatic event involves a child. 

Shelby is sharing what she's learned with the world and as a parent of a child who has been hospitalized, I thank her for that. Knowing you're not alone in your experiences helps tremendously. 

Her experiences are written out well and hold nothing back. 

I have to be honest that I'm struggling to write this review. This is not the type of book that one should judge on quality or plot. Consider this an informational resource. Her goals are not to tell a story for entertainment, but instead she's determined to shed light on epilepsy and to further research on the subject. 

So I really just want to thank her for sharing her story. 


Some Bio Information

Shelby McGrath Myers is the mother of 5 children and has been married since 1992. She is the author of, "Out of the Bubble," which is her memoir and first published work.  She is the founder and continues in the capacity of Director of Marketing and Public Relations for Clayton's Hope Organization, a non-profit which raises awareness and funding for Epilepsy research.

In 2012, she was named the Epilepsy Advocate of the Year by the Epilepsy Foundation of New Jersey/Family Resource Network. She was nominated to the State of New Jersey Epilepsy Task force and elected chair in 2011. She was reelected chair in 2013. She is employed as a Patient Liaison for a medical equipment/Home Nursing company specializing in transitioning medically fragile pediatric patients from hospitals to their home.


Q&A

1.  Out of the Bubble is a very personal story- it must have been cathartic for you to write it all down?

Actually no - I am asked that quite often, but it is the exact opposite.  I learned the need for our story to be told through my full time position as a Patient Liaison (I transition home medically fragile children from hospital to home).  

So many families are struggling with the psychological, as well as, the medical issues of their childrens' illnesses- I wanted them to know that another has walked in their shoes.  Also, that the medical professionals would have an inside look at the life of a family within their care.

But, reliving it while writing the memoir, was almost harder then actually living - I was no longer numb and on autopilot.  While writing I was feeling every emotion and, this time, knew the ending.

2. I understand you have an organization, can you tell me about it?

"Clayton's Hope Organization", www.claytonshope.org, is my lifeline at times, as well as, a part of my son that will forever live on.  When I am missing him terribly, I have the ability to do work in his name- that is his gift to me, besides the honor of forever being his Mommy. I began the organization in 2006 in our home, on my laptop - with a dream.  Now, our organization is worldwide and has accomplished some amazing things!  

We have donated over $100,000 to Epilepsy Research, as well as, providing support and awareness for those living with the effects of Epilepsy.  Most recently, the first ever Epilepsy research laboratory at CHOP was established- due in part to our donations.  Our entire family is involved with the organization, as well as, countless individuals which aide and support us.  I wish the everyone would check out our website; see what we have accomplished; how they can make a difference.  

Mostly, I hope that the general public realizes that Clayton is not an exception- Epilepsy is a reality.  We were the normal, typical family and Clay was a healthy happy 6 year old little boy- this can happen to anyone.

3.  Do you think that we will ever see you write another book?

I am not sure, maybe, although it would have to be another non-fiction topic that is close to my heart.  I don't consider myself an author; moreso, a mother with a story that could help others.   

Tales From a Mad Man's Wife

Tales From a Mad Man's Wife - Marilyn Miller Skylar

The title itself was enough to pique my husband and I's interest. Even if my husband didn't love the show Mad Men (which he does), he's a marketer -- through and through. We spend much of our "free time" working on various marketing projects and he's always learning new techniques and methods to help his clients (including myself) with their marketing needs. 

To say that Marilyn and David lived life to the fullest would be an understatement. David's job led them through some exciting times and they met many fascinating people. It sounds as if it were all a bit of a whirlwind. 

I got a sense that Marilyn admired her husband very much and that admiration came through the text and seemed to inspire me as well.

I also appreciated the different viewpoint of the era. The tv show Mad Men paints a bit of a darker image than Skylar does. And I very much liked seeing the more family oriented perspective. 

Tales From a Mad Man's Wife is entertaining and charming -- a very delightful read. I recommend it as it will give you a better understanding of the time period and what the life of a Mad Man was truly like.