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TWILIGHT CHRISTMAS: A Carolina Coast Novella ~ Normandie Ward Fischer

Monday, December 19th, 2016

I was in the mood for a great Christmas Story when I heard that one of my favorite authors was releasing a novella. Normandie Ward Fisher sent me an e-copy right away and I now am aware that the paperback copy has been released. It fit the bill with perfection.

Normandie Fischer has a nice style of writing, which I enjoy reading. Although I am not a great romance reader and Southern Romance I often consider some of the worst “junk” on the market, Fischer has much more intelligent characters involved in actually figuring out how to proceed from their various dilemmas to be resolved. They are refreshing and relaxing to read. Most of her stories involve a level of violence such as addiction, domestic violence, or psychological abuse. When I was a social worker in the South, I found that these symptoms of dysfunction were invasive and often times thought to be “normal” behavior. Fischer thus gently exposes a truth and educates her readers to the problems inherent in these assumptions. Very good storytelling and teaching.

Louis, a 9-year-old very intelligent fellow, and his sister Linney, a 12- year-old with Down’s syndrome and limited mental ability, wake to find that their addicted mother has died during the night. Louis is fearful of what will happen to his sister as a previous stay in foster care has created a terrible memory and lots of fear. The two take off and hide creating a problem for the community, which is working to find the missing pair.

The children hide in a storage shed beside a community church which is preparing for their yearly Christmas pageant and moves into a story about a young mother who is recovering from her family crisis, working to stay afloat and keep her two children housed and fed on a temporary salary. She is busy sewing the costumes for the church program and worried about her connections to the detective who is searching for the missing children and was helpful to her at her time of greatest need.

It is a lovely story and once again Normandie Fischer has shared a story, which entertains and teaches. The supportive church community enhances the story and shows how a group of people can build others up and encourage possibilities. I enjoyed the story very much, though I am not so much into all the ‘God Talk’ or the assumptions of miracles lingering on the tip of my tongue. It is a hopeful story and has a wonderful Christmassy ending that is just right for this time and season.

Other Books by Normandie Ward Fischer:

Normandie Fischer combines a love of all things Italian with a fascination for the cultures and cuisines of the Middle East, an interest fostered when she studied sculpture in Perugia and lived among Arab students. She and her husband retired from cruising Pacific Mexico on board their ketch, Sea Venture, to care for her aging mother, who now sails with them whenever the opportunity arises.

Two from Isaac’s House is her first romantic suspense. She is better known for her women’s fiction, including Becalmed (2013), Heavy Weather (2015), and Sailing out of Darkness (2013).

TWILIGHT CHRISTMAS is free for kindle readers and $.99 for the paperback at this time.

MY THINNING YEARS: Starving the Gay Within ~Jon Derek Croteau

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

“From the time I was a child in such an unsafe household, I’d been putting on layers of emotional fat, thickening myself for years to protect myself from the inevitable truth.  I must have been preparing myself for the ultimate rejection I assumed would come from my father, and eventually, everyone else.” (from page 210 of Advanced Copy Uncorrected Proofs)

MY THINNING YEARS is another self-help/recovery book from Hazelden Publishing.  It is a well written biography of a young man having to deal with identity issues in a verbally and often physically abusive household.  The author’s father only wanted certainly things for his three children and then they could not do them “right”.   His father was determined to destroy any “sissy” tendencies in his youngest son and determined that he was going to be a sports star in school – especially in baseball.   Croteau was a sport’s star but only in tennis.  His mother was very supportive and tried to protect her children managing her anger by chain smoking.

Food was a big issue along with perfect grades and achievements.  For the author, this translated into anxiety, anorexia, obsessive behaviors, perfectionism, and nearly suicide.  Many of his friends were females and neighbors who allowed Croteau access to their homes when his father rampaged.   Many of these friends stuck by him all of his life and protected him at school.  He loved to sing but was only allowed to be in theater productions required at school.

Croteau’s mother got him counseling help as best as she could provide by cashing checks at the grocery store and having a teacher provide the transportation so husband/father would not know.   His brother and sister had a hard time too, but not as tough as Jon because they were great at sports and not as sensitive.  Appearance was important and not having any “faggy” behaviors.

This is a well written account of how difficult it was in the 80s and 90s to find an identity and become self-affirming.  At one point in my career I was working with a group of teens as a counselor – all had eating issues, identity issues and food issues.  4 of the males in the group were anorexic and I wished I had had a copy of this book to share with them all; they were not alone it was a struggle for many.

I could identify with Croteau’s pathway too, because my home was run by a quiet perfectionist who used criticism as a tool.   My siblings were not safe or protective we were all in competition for attention and sometimes food.  Many, many people could relate to this recovery process and issues of self-affirmation.  It is good story telling.

“Jon Derek Croteau, Ed.D. is vice president at a leadership consultancy for higher education and health care clients across the globe. He is the author of three academic books on staff development and leadership as well as numerous articles for journals and periodicals, and he is a member of the speaker’s bureau of the National Eating Disorders Association.  Jon legally married his partner, Justin Croteau, in 2007 and currently resides in Vermont”

TLC Online Book Tours   and Hazelden sent me a copy of this book for review. MY THINNING YEARS is a very good read and resource.  Thank you for the opportunity.

Conquering Shame and Co-Dependency 
Mind Without a Home 
Shadows In The Sun
The Isolation Door

CONQUERING SHAME AND CODEPENDENCEY: 8 Steps to Freeing the True You ~Darlene Lancer

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

“SHAME. The torment you feel when you’re exposed, humiliated, or rejected.  The feeling of not being good enough.  It’s a deeply painful, universal emotion, yet is not frequently discussed.  For some shame lurks in the unconscious, undermining self-esteem and destroying confidence, leading to codependency on others.  These codependent relationships – where we overlook our own needs and desires as we try to care for, protect, or please another – are often covering up abuse, addiction, or other harmful behaviors.  Shame and codependency feed off one another, making us feel stuck, never able to let go, move on, and become the true self we were meant to be.”  (From the book cover)

CONQUERING SHAME AND CODEPENDENCY is a good self-help book authored by a family therapist who has years of work in this area of change and development. I liked the style of the writing, it is not preachy or overbearing expertise, rather it is carefully thought out and simply worded so that any reader could find some new knowledge and information about themselves. The demonstrating stories for the steps explored are relevant and understandable; they complete the point and observation.  The format is pleasing with some clear explanation of what might be causing recurring or “stuck” behaviors followed up with some very simple exercises that even young adults can follow and implement without years of therapy or experts.

I believe that CONQUERING SHAME AND CODEPENDENCY could be used in adolescence classrooms as a work book with a teacher attached. Young people a could identify areas where they might be stuck and frustrated in their independence moves and have a resource to remind them when they might need some help in the future.  Shame is also about all those crazy tapes that repeat in the mind, about how foolish one is or how “ugly” they might be, and how we react to those reoccurring mind words.   I have never met a person who has not felt humiliated at some point in their life; it can be reassuring to know one is not alone and have a few tools to change the way one is thinking.

I believe many woman could benefit from owning this resource as so many get isolated at home tasks or taking care of others and may need their thinking refreshed rather than reaching for  a cupcake, glass of wine, or anti-depression medication.  A little mental exercise towards releasing old ideas and maybe deleting despair and moving forward to opening up new ideas and ways to proceed.

The book was a nice refresher course and it helped me dust off some old techniques that I learned over the years.  I was having dental surgery while reading this book, and feeling a big sense of shame over how much my teeth and jaw repair was costing.  My parents were both teachers and proud that my brother and sister had no cavities, whereas they were rather angry about how my pitted teeth dug into the family finances; I just was not taking enough responsibility for their care.  Even though I now save money for healthcare and have dental insurance, when I heard how much my recent co-pay would be all those old messages of failure came up to play a tune – I had failed to do enough! CONQUERING SHAME AND CODEPENDANCY just might be a great companion to keep on your shelf or nearby for relief.   It could be a great sleep aid for those who worry all night long – have a glass of water and do an exercise from the book and get some rest.

The eight steps:

  1. Find Your True Self
  2. Uncover Your Shame
  3. Find Your Shame’s Roots
  4. Disarm Your Shame
  5. Confront Your Shame
  6. Share Your Shame
  7. Build Your Self-Esteem
  8. Love Yourself

tlc logo  TLC Online Book Tours  and HAZELDEN Press sent me an unproofed copy for review and I am very happy to have been on this tour and enjoyed reading this book

“Darlene Lancer, JD, LMFT is a licensed family therapist with over twenty years of experience working with individuals and couples.  She regularly lectures on self-esteem, codependency, and addiction.  Author of Codependency for Dummies and 10 Steps to Self-Esteem, she has also published numerous articles.“

Darlene Lancer Blog 

Little Failure
Mind Without A Home
The Isolation Door 
I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag

NEW: Understanding Our Need For Novelty And Change ~Winifred Gallagher

Monday, February 27th, 2012

An Introduction to a Significant Book about How we got here and how to change and survive.

I needed something NEW and I could feel it in every cell of my being.  I was frustrated and discouraged and falling prey to being entertained rather than doing what I needed to do.  My entertainment was taking and paying for classes both on the internet and in my neighborhood.  I could not set these chunks of information into motion to work for me (yoga is the exception) and none seemed to add to my well being or sense of accomplishment.

A NEW email from a NEW person came into my inbox.  Dan Ozzi of Penguin Group USA wanted to know if I would be interested in reviewing NEW: Understanding Our Need For Novelty and Change on Patricia’s Wisdom?

I was actually rather depressed from not having a book to review in hand, I said yes and the book came to my house 2 days later.

Gallagher  presented a great deal of NEW information, background material, and scientific studies about our historic needs, survival needs, and programmed needs for novelty and change.  Reading the book assisted me in integrating the ideas from previous books and introduced me to NEW   research and conclusions that enabled me to actually do some deep thinking on my own; lifting my spirits and energy to some NEW heights.

Having to read this book with care and note – taking was so gratifying, I re- appreciated my ability to study something and glean out the use full pieces of the information.  I could readily comprehend that so much of what I read on websites and other blogs is similar to the junk calories I can so easily consume if I am not paying attention.   I am dissatisfied when I am being randomly entertained and that old sense of worthlessness seeps into my being.  I understand when I talk about change and steps to achieving it, I am not giving my readers a dopamine rush and I persist in asking my readers to do the work.

“…all civilizations fail by turning everything into entertainment and fashion.  We need to become more explicit and conscious of deciding to make something new, instead of just doing it because it’s novel [or activates our pleasure centers]”   “…the best gauge of a gadget’s style quotient is whether it’s as useful to its owner when it’s turned off as when it’s on.”        Paul Saffo, futurist

I have been asking myself for a long time now, why am I not succeeding to my definition of success in just about all of my endeavors.   This book gave me the answer:  What I am doing is not even giving me the little rewards that one needs to keep pushing onward.  Much of the information I have been using is junk information to my values – I need to turn up the creative juices and find the dense information that I need to succeed.

I have listened to teachers over and over again say that children are addicted to their cell phones, video games and the like and that now they are noticing that these kids do not seem to know how to think or processes information.

“In the information society, nobody thinks.  We expected to banish paper, but we actually banished thought.”   Michael Crichton

I would recommend this book to any honest and innovative educator, to any person who is interested in survival and making the world a better place, to every person who would want to refine their taste and stimulate their curiosity – for those who are looking for the nutrient dense intake of information.

This book is about using novelty, curiosity, and stimulus to activate our values, create significant and life saving change, and about learning to filter information so it truly assists our evolution.  What’s NEW ?

Some of the big names novelty seekers and  experts on this subject:  Steve Jobs, Seth Godin, Jerome Kagan, Todd Kashdan, Story Musgrave, Daniel Pink, Paul Saffo, Paul Silvia, Patricia Spacks, Marvin Zuckerman. The lists in the book are more comprehensive, these were the names that I recognized from my research.

I am truly only going to hint at what is in this book, a broad brush stroke, because I believe you need to read this book and then think about it.

I was given a copy of this book for review by Penguin Group Press, but received no remuneration for my words and recommendations here.

If you purchase anything from Amazon  or Powell’s  from this site, I will receive a few beans in my bucket.

I would greatly appreciate you using the SHARE button below – I think others in your networks would enjoy learning about this book.

New York Times review of the book

Related Reading:
Situations Matter
Shiny Objects
The Social Animal