Archive for February, 2014

Saying Goodbye: Facing the Loss of a Loved One

Friday, February 28th, 2014

Guest Author: Gary Roe

Gary Sykes pics 087“I can’t believe this is happening. This hurts so much. How am I going to get through this?”

Facing the loss of a loved one is painful and often traumatic. How we say goodbye is important. Is it possible to prepare our hearts and move through this time in love and forgiveness with a minimum of regret?

Yes.

You’ve had to say goodbye to a loved one, or you will. You know someone who is dying, or know someone who does. That’s why New York Times Bestseller Cecil Murphey and I wrote Saying Goodbye: Facing the Loss of Loved One (Harvest House, 2013). This gift book, beautifully illustrated by Michal Sparks, is designed to be a very personal and practical roadmap for those who are grieving. Saying Goodbye

I have the honor of serving as a hospice chaplain. I’ve walked with thousands of people through their personal valleys of grief and helped them navigate the emotional minefield that often surrounds the death of a loved one. My patients and families have inspired me with their courage, wisdom, and faith. We share some of their stories in this book.

People often struggle with confusion, guilt, anger, and helplessness at times like these. Cecil and I have said goodbye to those we loved and we’ve been present when others have done the same. In Saying Goodbye, we share what we’ve learned and provide some answers to these questions:

Life is full of loss. Death is real. This is hard, and how we say goodbye really matters, both for ourselves and for our loved ones.

If you or someone you know is dealing with a loss, I would love to help. In addition to Saying Goodbye, I invite you to check out my newest book, Surviving the Holidays Without You: Navigating Grief During Special Seasons and also my Good Grief Mini-Course on my website. 

About Author:

Gary is committed to helping people heal and grow. He writes and speaks from more than 30 years of professional ministry. He has been a university minister, a missionary in Japan, and a pastor in Texas and Washington. He currently serves as a hospice chaplain and bereavement specialist. In addition to Saying Goodbye, he is the co-author (with Cecil Murphey) of Not Quite Healed: 40 Truths for Male Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse (2013) and the author of Surviving the Holidays Without You (2013) and the Good Grief Mini-Course. Not Quite Healed was voted one of the Top 50 Non-Fiction Books of 2013 by a national book club and was a Lime Award Finalist for Excellence in Non-Fiction. Gary also writes inspirational community service columns for several newspapers. Visit him on his website at www.garyroe.com.

Exclusive Interview with Philipp Meyer, Author of “The Son” and “American Rust”

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Philipp Meyer, please credit Courtesy of the AuthorGrew up in Baltimore, Philipp Meyer is an acclaimed author of the bestselling novels American Rust and The Son. Studied at Cornell University, this 40-year-old famous American fiction writer had done several jobs, from a bicycle mechanic to Wall Street trader, before becoming a full-time author. He earned huge accolades, including Los Angeles Times Book Prize (2009), for his 2009 debut novel, American Rust, and was featured in The New Yorker’s list of 20 best authors under 40 in 2010. Today, we are honored to have him here sharing some of the remarkable facts about his newly published, “The Son” and his ideas as a writer.

Your debut novel American Rust received significant critical plaudits for its original depiction of post-industrial America. And your second novel, The Son, spans 150 years and five generations of a South Texan family. How did you come up with the idea of writing these novels?

A million ideas are always passing through your head, every day, basically. What matters is the ones that grab you somehow. The ones that feel important but that you can’t exactly understand or articulate why. 

Can you tell us about the research process and the experiences you lived in order to write a 576-page multigenerational saga about a Texas-oil-and-ranching dynasty? Which part do you enjoy the most – researching or writing?

I read about 350 books, took classes on tracking animals, spent a month at blackwater to learn about warrior cultures and combat, taught myself how to hunt with a bow and arrow, killed several deer and ate them and tanned their hides, etc. Hunted and or/camped just about everywhere in Texas the book takes place, learned all the native plants, etc. Interviewed hundreds of people.

There is no contest between researching and writing. I write because I have no choice, because I’m a writer, because I’m an artist. It’s inside me. The research is just work. When it was fun, it was fun, but it’s not like writing.

What are the main themes that have been followed throughout theSon pb c course of the novel, “The Son”?

I’m a bit reluctant to explain my own work, but basically I wanted to explore our country’s creation myths, our sense of where we come from, and why our sense of this is basically completely wrong. 

What is it like to have your works, in terms of content and style, compared to authors such as Steinbeck, Faulkner and McCarthy? Who do you consider to be the greatest influence in your work?

You really can’t think about it. You spend 10 or 15 years writing and being rejected by the world, so you sort of get used to not listening to what people have to say about your work, good or bad. All good art, all good thoughts, come from inside your own mind. The moment you start letting other people influence your sense of yourself is the moment you are ruined, not just as an artist, but as a person.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

My entire life really revolves around writing. My main hobbies I guess are doing outdoor stuff, backpacking and hunting. Also working on cars, trucks, things like that. The standard stuff dudes do, or did, in the old days. But really I organize everything around writing.

Can you discuss any upcoming projects? What do you have in the pipeline?

Working on another big novel, which will be a big ambitious thing like The Son. Also working to turn The Son into an ongoing television series.

If you had one piece of advice for aspiring writers with work in progress what would it be?

Very simple. Never, ever listen to anyone but yourself. Also, don’t be a coward.

Rapid Fire Questions:

What are you reading at the moment?

Difficult Men, about TV showrunners. 

Is there a place you’d like to visit, but haven’t yet?

Afghanistan.

Where do you like to write?

Anywhere, really. Usually wherever I live.

Your favorite season?

Fall

Favorite positive saying?

Don’t be a coward

Thank you so much for such a great interview!

To know more about Philipp, kindly visit his website www.philippmeyer.net/.

 

Theme and Premise: C.C. Hunter’s Approach To Finding The Heart Of Her Stories

Friday, February 21st, 2014

Guest Author: C.C. Hunter

Christy Craig Portrait 2There’s a question I’m regularly asked by potential readers: What’s the theme/premise of your book? At first, I have to admit, the question stumped me. When I heard other authors answer the same inquiry with such preciseness, I worried I’d skipped a part of the writing process. And yet, with some thought I realized theme and premise do exist in my work, I simply approach it from a different direction than some authors.

I never set out to define the theme as I start working on chapter one. I don’t purposely insert a premise in my work, but it’s there; living and breathing on the pages of my books. And it comes from my characters. 

When approached to write a paranormal series by St. Martin’ Griffin, I was hesitant. I’d never written a young adult novel, and it had been years since I’d lived in the teen world. So the first thing I did was take a long stroll down memory lane. It was crucial that I get into the skin of Kylie Galen, my sixteen-year-old character. 

So after revisiting my past, I did what most authors will never admit to doing. I plagiarized.  From my own life of course. When I was sixteen, my parents’ divorce rocked the foundation of my world. The loss of a family member brought on grief. I had a friend take a walk on the wild side and I wasn’t ready to follow. I had a boyfriend wanting things that I wasn’t willing to give.  All these problems I experienced added to the issue almost all teens face: an identity crisis.

Taken at Dusk by C.C. Hunter
Whispers at Moonrise by C. C. Hunter
Shadow Falls The Beginning : Born at Midnight and Awake at Dawn by C. C. Hunter
Chosen at Nightfall by C. C. Hunter
Born at Midnight by C. C. Hunter, Katie Schorr
Awake at Dawn by C. C. Hunter
Untitled Della Tsang #1 by C. C. Hunter

So the inner conflict of my main character, and what some might say is the premise of my series, is a young girl trying to figure out how she fits into her world, now that everything in her world is changing. But remember this is a paranormal novel, so I had to build those conflicts around some supernatural aspects. My tag line for the series quickly became: Kylie Galen spent sixteen years trying to figure out who she is, only to realize she doesn’t know what she is. 

Inadvertently, Kylie discovers she’s only half human. Sent to a camp with other supernaturals—vampires, witches, faes, werewolves, and shape-shifters—she is stunned to learn these species even exist. She’s even more stunned when they insist she’s one of them. However, the identity of her species is as much of a mystery to them as it is to Kylie. A misfit in the human world, she’s now a misfit in the paranormal world.

The five book series is Kylie’s journey of self-discovery. It’s about confronting change. It’s a story where she forges new friendships, new loves, and learns to accept people in spite of their flaws. Her path pushes her to accept loss and to deal with grief. And she does it by embracing what is good in the world. Ultimately, Kylie not only discovers who and what she is, but she becomes comfortable with the life she’s living.    

More than once over the years, I’ve questioned if I’m on the right path. There have been times when I was uncomfortable in my own skin. When I looked in the mirror and didn’t know the woman staring back. This wasn’t just when I was in my teens. It’s something I think women face at every new stage and change in their lives. When we first become mothers, when we hit thirty, forty, fifty. When we become grandmothers. When we change careers. It’s when we move and are forced to make new friends. And I believe it is for that reason over half of my fans are adults.  So I guess you could say, my theme/premise, or as I would call it, the heart of my story, is universal. 

As a matter of fact, of the hundreds of emails I receive from teens and adults, very few are about the supernatural world. They are about Kylie, about her learning and accepting who she is and what she wants in her life. For my older readers, Kylie’s story may be reminiscent of their own coming of age. And I believe her journey of self-discovery is inspirational and offers us all a little hope that we too may soon look in the mirror and know and love ourselves a little better.

About C.C. Hunter:

C.C. Hunter, a New York Times Bestseller, is an Alabama native, a multi-published writer, motivational speaker, and writing teacher.  She currently hangs her hat in Texas and writes the USA Today best-selling young adult paranormal romance series, Shadow Falls, published by St. Martin’s Press/Griffin. When she’s not writing her young adult novels she working on her humorous romantic suspense novels for Grand Central that she writes under her real name, Christie Craig.  Learn more at www.CCHunterBooks.com or www.christie-craig.com.

Roman History Matters…

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

Guest Author: Peter N. Bell

PNB's photoMy recent book, Social Conflict in the Age of Justinian, fulfilled a life-long ambition.  I’d always wanted to be an academic, not a civil servant. But the feeling of being a lower-class outsider, surrounded by all those brilliant  upper-class types in Oxford, deterred me. Thirty years on, however, the Northern Ireland Peace Process, in whose negotiation I took part, was all but concluded. So I seized my chance; returned to Oxford; and now, in my book on the ‘Troubles’ of the Later Roman Empire, I have exploited much that I later learned —at first hand— about violent political conflicts and their resolution.

Human nature — I agree with the philosopher, David Hume — has not changed fundamentally over the millennia. We should, therefore, exploit this common nature, as the ancient Greek historian, Thucydides, also urged, not just to enlighten us about the past—our past, but also to help understand problems we face today. This is a powerful justification for the study of history.  But to achieve our goal, historians need to do more: to write, for instance, in ways that an intelligent, but non-academic person can also relate to; we need to give up the idea that we are somehow just excavating ‘facts’ and can safely ignore insights that social scientists continue to put at our disposal. I have tried hard to do this in my book .

I tried to explain how a great pre-industrial state, the sixth-century CE Roman Empire, survived the storms by which it was buffeted: the conflicts, for example, between an exploited peasantry and their landlords and tax Peter Bellcollectors; between rival Christian factions struggling for supremacy across the whole Mediterranean; how an emperor from humble origins, fought to consolidate his rule against an entrenched aristocracy; how  sporting rivalries lead to riots in which much of the capital , Constantinople, was burnt down... Yes, Justinian implemented in response a mass of sensible, pragmatic policies—massive administrative reforms, for instance, and was tough when he needed to be. But central to his success was establishing the legitimacy of his authority; he didn’t just have power, he tried as hard as he could to convince the wider society he used it rightly, morally— and as he thought God would have wished. The result? He stayed in power for thirty- eight years — a long time for a Roman emperor; he not only saved the Eastern Roman Empire from collapsing as the Western half had fifty years before him, he reconquered Italy and North Africa. He also bequeathed us what we now think of as Roman Law and such masterpieces as the Great Church of Hagia Sophia which still blows the minds of visitors to Istanbul. 

Similarly, achieving a legitimate — and peaceful— political settlement in Northern Ireland, seen as just across the whole community, was at the heart of what my colleagues and I were trying to achieve.  When regimes, however brutal, forget they need to be seen as legitimate — as happened with the Soviet Union or, more recently, in Egypt or Libya— they fall. Now that is a very important lesson from history…

Author’s Bio

Peter Bell comes from Sheffield in the North of England. After reading Classics and Philosophy at Oxford University, then serving as a volunteer aid-worker in Ghana, he joined the UK Diplomatic Service, later transferring to the Home Civil Service — and Northern Ireland. There he focussed on political development and defeating terrorism. He came back to Oxford in 2000 to obtain the doctorate from which his current book grew, and is now a member of Wolfson College there. Earlier publications include Three Political Voices from the Age of Justinian (2009, Liverpool University Press).

Top 10 Romantic Quotes From Literature

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Author: Sherry Helms

book 1

When you’re falling short of words to express your love to someone special in your life, then look at someone else’s can be very helpful. Almost all the great poets and writers have penned down the intricacies and mysteries of romantic feelings in the paper.

Here, in no particular order, is our selection of top 10 delightful love quotes from literature that will help you convey your deepest feelings effectively to the person you are dearly fond of. Have a look:

1. “One half of me is yours, the other half is yours, Mine own, I would say; but if mine, then yours, And so all yours.” —William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

2. “No matter what has happened. No matter what you’ve done. No matter what you will do. I will always love you. I swear it.” –– C.J. Redwine, Defiance

3. “I never loved you any more than I do, right this second. And I’ll never love you any less than I do, right this second.” –– Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl, Beautiful Creatures  

4. “Is love a tender thing? It is too rough, Too rude, too boisterous, and it pricks like thorn.” —William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

5. “True love is rare, and it’s the only thing that gives life real meaning.” ― Nicholas Sparks, Message in a Bottle

6. “I’m in love with you, and I’m not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.” –– John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

7. “Sometimes I can’t see myself when I’m with you. I can only just see you.” –– Jodi Lynn Anderson, Tiger Lily

8. “I don’t care how hard being together is, nothing is worse than being apart.”–– Josephine Angelini, Starcrossed

9.“If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.”  ― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

10. “I knew the second I met you that there was something about you I needed. Turns out it wasn’t something about you at all. It was just you.”–– Jamie McGuire, Beautiful Disaster

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