Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Greatest Hits from 2014

My 8-year-old son summed it up the other day when he was reminiscing about the New Year's Eve party we attended with family friends last year.

"Wow," he said. "2014 really flew by, didn't it, Mom?"

Exactly. I know I say that every year, but this year truly did fly by, and not without its up and downs. Our family faced its share of adversity, from the back windshield of our SUV shattering right before we had to drive home after a week's vacation at the beach to a pretty devastating job loss. I won't get into it all here, as I covered it pretty well in this post at WOW! Women on Writing, but on the eve of New Year's Eve 2014 I can't say I have too much to complain about as far as my writing career. Here are a few of my "greatest hits" from this year. (For a glimpse of me a year ago, see this post.)

Non-Fiction Writing
I continue to work as editor of Little Ones Magazine (recently celebrated three years!) and write regularly for Lake Norman Currents and Today's Charlotte Woman. I've come so far since working on the very first issue, but I know I still have a lot to improve upon.

Fiction Writing
This is probably where I've made the most strides. I'm almost done with the latest round of revisions on the YA novel I've been working on for the past few years. I took it to the SCBWI Carolinas Conference this past September and got some wonderful feedback on the first 10 pages from a YA novelist and literary agent, which really boosted my confidence. I hope to begin putting together an agent wish list in the next two months and start the submission process. I still need to work on revisions for my MG novel, and those are going to be pretty massive, so that's been put on the back burner for now. I participated in NaNoWRiMo 2014 and completed 50,000 words of a NEW contemporary YA novel. I'm super excited about this latest one and can't wait to get back to work on it.

Blog Tours
I continue to work as a Blog Tour Manager for WOW! Women on Writing, and a spectacular job it is. I've met so many authors I probably never would have met and formed some great relationships and professional connections, not to mention had opportunities to review and promote some fantastic books!

Blog Posts
I contribute to The Muffin, the blog for WOW! Women on Writing, and had the chance to get nice and creative this year. Here are a few of my favorite posts.

ADWD (Attention Deficit Writers Disorder)
Why I Love My Job as a Blog Tour Manager
Preparing Your Author Platform
Literary Heroes

Honestly, I can't wait to see what lies ahead in 2015!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Guest Post by Author Linda Appleman Shapiro: Making Sure Depression is Given the Attention it Deserves

Throughout our lives each of us develops defenses and strategies that we trust will work to protect us. Yet, whatever psychological waters we have to navigate, we do so without much conscious awareness. What we live with is our norm and, if we’re lucky, we adjust to that norm as best we can despite our genetic wiring and or environmental influences.

However, if one succeeds – as children (and even adults) often do – in hiding the truth from one’s self or one’s family, demons fester. It often takes only a hair-line trigger to set them loose, and then it can be too late for any healthy intervention, as we’ve seen in the growing number of teen suicides, to highlight just one category of victims.

Since illnesses in general are no longer the taboo subjects they were when I was growing up in the 1940s and 50s and was so deeply affected by my mother’s mental illness, I appreciate how far we’ve come. But I also know how much still needs to be done to help others know how to recognize when help is needed, to seek it out and even fight for it, using whatever city, government, or private system is available.

​It’s a well-documented fact that secrets about an illness in any family is the breeding ground for a wide range of emotional problems including mental illness. As​ parents, teachers, and health providers we must, therefore, not be afraid to teach the “facts” in order to ​eliminate stigmas. We can't​ afford to ignore what we see and assume that by just wishing away strange and often aberrant behaviors they will not ultimately ​surface and cause irreparable damage.​
Underneath the umbrella we’ve come to label as “mental illness,” there exist many different conditions and diagnoses. If we look only at “depression” there are very specific signs and symptoms. Depressed people do not simply suffer as we all do from time to time from sad days or normal mood reactions to life’s setbacks. Depression includes: feelings of hopelessness; loss of interest in daily activities; appetite or weight changes; sleep changes; anger or irritability; loss of energy; self-loathing; reckless behavior; problems concentrating; and unexplained aches and pains.

Depression also looks very different in children, teens, men and women, and older adults.  Knowing what unique symptoms, causes, and effects exist can only help in finding the best trained professionals who are capable to offer the most effective treatment. And depression can most definitely be treated!

If it is not and a family remains in denial, that family will continue to foster unhealthy relationships ... and the result will be an unhealthy outcome for those whom they more often than not love the most. Avoiding conflict because of a fear of possible rejection accomplishes nothing​ except allowing stigmas and discrimination to abound; the sick become sicker and everyone suffers.

We must open our eyes and keep them open. Our goal must be – even in these very stressful days of 21st century living – to advocate for those in need and to act responsibly whenever and wherever it is humanly possible to do so.

About the Author:

Behavioral psychotherapist/Addictions Counselor/ Oral Historian/ Mental Health Advocate and author, Linda Appleman Shapiro earned her B.A. in literature from Bennington College, a Master's degree in Human Development/Counseling from the Bank Street College of Education, and a Master Certification in Neuro-Linguistic Programming from the New York Institute of N.L.P. She has further certifications in Ericksonian Hypnosis and Substance Abuse/Addictions Counseling.

Linda Appleman Shapiro is a contributing author in the casebook, “Leaves Before the Wind: Leading Applications of N.L.P.”

In private practice for more than thirty years, Shapiro also served as a senior staff member at an out-patient facility for addicts and their families. As an oral historian, she has documented the lives of many of New York's elderly.

Her first memoir, Four Rooms, Upstairs, was self-published in 2007 and named Finalist in the Indie Next Generation Book Awards in 2008. Her blog of three years, “A Psychotherapist's Journey,” named Shapiro Top Blogger in the field of mental health by WELLsphere.

Married to actor and audiobook narrator George Guidall, Linda Appleman Shapiro and her husband live in Westchester County, New York. They have two adult daughters and two grandchildren.

Linda Appleman Shapiro’s Website: http://www.applemanshapiro.com/

Linda Appleman Shapiro’s Email: beyondatrauma@gmail.com

Linda Appleman Shapiro’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lindaapplemanshapiro41

Linda Appleman Shapiro’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lashapiro1

Linda Appleman Shapiro’s Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1698967.Linda Appleman Shapiro

About the Book:

She's Not Herself: A Psychotherapist's Journey Into and Beyond Her Mother's Mental Illness is a journey to make sense of the effects of multi-generational traumas. Linda Appleman Shapiro is ultimately able to forgive (without forgetting) those who left her to fend for herself--and to provide readers with the wisdom of a seasoned psychotherapist who has examined human vulnerability in its many disguises and has moved through it all with dignity and hope. The result is a memoir of love, loss, loyalty, and healing.

On the surface, her childhood seemed normal--even idyllic. Linda Appleman Shapiro grew up in the iconic immigrant community of Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, with her parents and a gifted older brother. But she spent her days at home alone with a mother who suffered major bouts of depression. At such times, young Linda Appleman Shapiro was told, "Your mother...she's not herself today." Those words did little to help Linda understand what she was witnessing. Instead, she experienced the anxiety and hyper-vigilance that often take root when secrecy and shame surround a family member who is ill.

She's Not Herself: A Psychotherapist's Journey Into and Beyond Her Mother's Mental Illness is available as an e-book and paperback at Amazon and is available through BN.com, Dream of Things.com and several other on-line book sites listed on Goodreads.

Paperback: 249 Pages
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Dream of Things (September 2, 2014)
Twitter hashtag: #SNHerselfShapiro

Monday, December 1, 2014

Guest Post from Author David W. Berner: What Broadcast Journalism Taught Me About Parenting

I’ve been a broadcast journalist, either working full time or as a freelancer for decades and this means, many times, being live on the air. When I first started working in Chicago radio, I would occasionally start my early morning news shift from home. I’d first talk to the editor, do a little research if needed, and then begin the work of covering the story. Sometimes it would send me out the door immediately, depending on the nature of the coverage. But other times, I would need to report something on the air regarding the story before heading out to a location or to land an interview. This was in the early days of cellphones when the technology was in its infancy, so landlines were still the first choice for live reports on the radio.

One early morning, sometime around 6AM, I picked up my landline in my office in my home, telephoned the station, and waited on hold to do what broadcasters call their live-shot. I don’t even remember the story I was working on, but I do remember what interrupted my live report.

“Dad?” I heard a little voice say over the phone’s earpiece. “Dad, are you there?”

The question came from the tiny voice of my four-year old son, Graham. He had always been an earlier riser and on this morning he was right on schedule. What made him pick up the phone’s extension at the very moment I was delivering my report live on the radio? I’m not sure. But there he was.  

“Dad?” he questioned again. I attempted to ignore him and plow through the live report as if he were not there, hoping the copy I had written and the authoritative delivery I was giving my words would somehow drowned him out. None of this was working.

After another question or two to his father, Graham hung up the phone, a loud click radiating over the airwaves.

I completed my report, put down the receiver, and left my office to find Graham. He had made his way into the living room, still looking for his father, determined to find his dad. He wanted him right there, right then, right at that very moment.

“Graham, you know you don’t have to pick up the phone to talk to your dad, right?” I asked.

“But I couldn’t find you,” he said. “I needed you.”

There was nothing in particular he “needed”. Nothing urgent. No emergency. He just wanted his dad.

I recall this story now as I consider what my work as a broadcast journalist might have taught me about parenting. It’s simple really: be there, be there, be there.

In broadcasting, writing and reporting is only as good or relevant as the work you have done lately, sometimes with in the last few minutes. It’s that immediate. And this is how your children see their relationship with their parents. They want you with them immediately. They want you exactly when they want you. There is no time for patience. It’s exactly how broadcast journalism works. You have to meet that timely deadline. As a parent, you also have to meet another timely deadline. The element of time is the big issue for children. Be there. Be there. Be there.

Spending time, as much as possible, is addressed in my memoir Any Road Will Take You There. The story is about a 5000-mile road trip with my two sons that turns into an introspective examination of fatherhood. Time played an enormous part in the narrative. Not only the time we spent together on the long trip, but also the time my father had given me as a young man and how that still resonated for me, and the time I had given and hoped to give my children through the years. Sometimes as a father, as I wrote in the memoir, “you just have to show up.” It sounds simple, but it’s not always. “Showing up” doesn’t mean just physically being there, more importantly it means showing up emotionally. Time is crucial in all of its aspects.  

Many years after his early morning phone interruption, I reminded my teenaged Graham of that incident. Without hesitation he said, “I remember that. I don’t know what the big deal was. I just wanted my dad and I needed to find you anyway I could.”

Time. It’s important in broadcast journalism and it’s even more important for me in my role as a parent.

About David W. Berner:

David W. Berner--the award winning author of ACCIDENTAL LESSONS and ANY ROAD WILL TAKE YOU THERE--was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he began his work as a broadcast journalist and writer. He moved to Chicago to work as a radio reporter and news anchor for CBS Radio and later pursue a career as a writer and educator. His book ACCIDENTAL LESSONS is about his year teaching in one of the Chicago area's most troubled school districts. The book won the Golden Dragonfly Grand Prize for Literature and has been called a "beautiful, elegantly written book" by award-winning author Thomas E. Kennedy, and "a terrific memoir" by Rick Kogan (Chicago Tribune and WGN Radio). ANY ROAD WILL TAKE YOU THERE is the author's story of a 5000-mile road trip with his sons and the revelations of fatherhood. The memoir has been called "heartwarming and heartbreaking" and "a five-star wonderful read."

David can be found online at:

Website: www.davidwberner.com

Twitter: @davidwberner

Twitter: @anyroadbook

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/David-W-Berner-Writer/190345939480

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/david.w.berner

About the Book: 

Any Road Will Take You There: A Journey of Fathers and Sons is a heartwarming and heartbreaking
story told with humor and grace, revealing the generational struggles and triumphs of being a dad, and the beautiful but imperfect ties that connect all of us.

Recipient of a Book of the Year Award from the Chicago Writers Association, Any Road Will Take You There is honest, unflinching, and tender.

In the tradition of the Great American Memoir, a middle-age father takes the reader on a five-thousand-mile road trip -- the one he always wished he'd taken as a young man. Recently divorced and uncertain of the future, he rereads the iconic road story -- Jack Kerouac's On the Road -- and along with his two sons and his best friend, heads for the highway to rekindle his spirit.

However, a family secret turns the cross-country journey into an unexpected examination of his role as a father, and compels him to look to the past and the fathers who came before him to find contentment and clarity, and celebrate the struggles and triumphs of being a dad.

Paperback: 300 Pages
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Dream of Things (September 23, 2014)
ISBN-10: 0988439096
ISBN-13: 978-0988439092
Twitter hashtag: # AnyRoadBook

Any Road Will Take You There: A Journey of Fathers and Sons is available as an e-book and paperback at Amazon