Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Story Behind I Am The Product of Rape by Catherine Wyatt-Morley & Jalyon Welsh-Cole

In the process of writing this book, an extremely difficult journey that has taken years, I was taken to unfamiliar destinations and exposed to unfathomable pain. Part of that pain was learning that I was created through the atrocities of incest by a brutally manipulative monster and, while only moments old, denied by a heartless grandmother who never bothered to look at me.  Another difficult truth is
that I was carried in the belly of an immature, vulnerable child, connected by the lifeline that carried the blood-rich oxygen and nutrients from her to me, only to be rejected by her from my first breath. My intention for this book is to provide insight into the consequences of family secrets, conspiracy, lies, and denial. Told from my perspective, this is my family story, a snapshot of four women irreversibly scarred by traumatic abuse.
First, the family matriarch, a prolific mother of ten, sets the tone for the women who would place their feet in the footprints of her journey, transforming her ancestry for generations to come. Her story sheds light on the transgressions she not only allowed but participated in. 
Next, there is the girl who endured the death of her childhood at the hands of incest, abuse, betrayal, humiliation, rape, and the inevitable birth of a child. Well before puberty she was sexually exploited in her own home, her childhood, mind and body all repeatedly violated. 
Then, there is me Catherine, I Am the Product of Rape—A Memoir. I am an adoptee, I am a daughter, and I am a mother of three. In search of my future, I found the weighted baggage of the past. Catholic Social Services documents helped to chronicle my life, as did the many conversations I have had over the years with sometimes very reluctant people―relatives, social workers, and paper pushers, all of whom seemed to guard my past as it floundered aimlessly, leaving lingering, unanswered questions.  I found and met my mother well into my adulthood, listening intently as she exposed the atrocities which resulted in my birth. She transmitted the pain of a denied childhood to me like the nutrients fed to a fetus through an umbilical cord. My heritage lay bare; I was speechless as my mother's portrait of her sexual violation crushed me. I was faced with her reality, my subsequent reality, and with what was yet to come.
Finally, along this sexual-abuse sojourn, I unfortunately discovered my daughter's devastating experience. Crushing my very core, this revelation sent my life careening in another unexpected direction, straight through my children's lives into a fourth-generation nightmare. The ripple effects of demoralizing incest, the sexual slavery of serial rape, and the brutality of molestation go beyond their impact on the direct victims, transmitting a trauma that oozes generationally. I Am the Product of Rape- A Memoir is a story that intertwines the DNA of my family's bloodline.
I recognized that my family was not alone in its experiences. In coffee shop discussions, at restaurants, through emails, and during airplane conversations, I found incest, rape, and molestation to be shrouded in secrecy and buried in the psyches of many women. They however, were often interested in discussions, though almost always those discussions would be on behalf of a friend. Instinctively, in many cases, I believe some of these vulnerable victims were uncomfortable or unwilling to reveal their stories firsthand, owing to the shame, stigma, heaviness or guilt that make them reluctant to bring such ugliness to light. Often overlooked, excused, and even denied, abuse takes on infinite forms ― this is especially true of psychological abuse. Thus my daughter and I birthed I Am the Product of Rape—A Memoir to become the platform for victims.
Unlike those who came before us, my daughter and I believe victims deserve compassion, a chance to tell their own story, and the peace of mind that comes from knowing ― whether or not they can accept this truth at the present time ― that they're worthy, unique individuals with dignity and a purpose on this planet. After a while of partaking in these discussions I quickly discovered that 98% of respondents knew someone friend or relative who had been raped; 96% had been raped; 50% had unreported exposure of incest during childhood by a family member; 80% had not received mental health services but were willing to receive mental health services if their confidentiality would be maintained; 100% never reported incest, molestation or sexual assault to authorities; 40% were raped in marriage by their spouses; 100% had or have feelings of guilt and self-blame; 85% struggle in personal relationships; 20% were mothers of a child who raped his own sister and never sought help for the children nor themselves.
I can personally testify that I know there is a purpose in all that I've been through. The events described in I Am the Product of Rape—A Memoir led me to the great privilege of reaching out to others with a story in which, somehow, horror becomes hope. Lastly, as this book comes to its conclusion, and with the realization of my daughter’s unwarranted pain, I took comfort in realizing that together our life’s narrative includes advocating on behalf of victims of incest. We are dedicated to raising awareness regarding this and its related subjects, which are most often overlooked, or from which most people easily disconnect themselves. As my daughter and I take you through our journey, remember that we are committed to stopping the intergenerational trauma within our family and we are hopeful that this book and our message help to free others in some small way.

About the Authors

Catherine Wyatt-Morley is the founder, chief executive officer and heartbeat of Women On Maintaining Education and Nutrition, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit social service organization for the at-risk and HIV-positive community. In 1994, Wyatt-Morley founded Women On Reasons To Heal (W.O.R.T.H.), the first and what has become the oldest HIV-positive women’s support group in Middle Tennessee.
Wyatt-Morley has appeared in countless media outlets nationwide, including SELF Magazine, the Today Show, A&U Magazine, POZ Magazine, CNN, Voices of America, MSNBC, Talk America Radio, FX Radio, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, the Palm Beach Post, the Indianapolis Indiana Recorder, the Los Angeles Times, the Canadian Sun, Nashville Scene, and the Tennessean.
Jalyon Welsh-Cole has been director of Women On Maintaining Education and Nutrition, a 501(c) (3) nonprofit social service organization, since 2010. Welsh-Cole began writing when she was very young, starting with short stories and poems. As a teen, she was inspired to draw, finding comfort and creativity in her art. She joined forces with Wyatt-Morley to share her story in I AM THE PRODUCT OF RAPE – A MEMOIR. Together, they also have created #HealingSecretHurts workshops, which bring the spectrum of traumatizing sexual assault into the light.



Sunday, July 1, 2018

The Story Behind Traveling High and Tripping Hard by Joseph Davida

Some folks might sa-ay that I’m no good
That I wouldn’t settle down if I could
But when that open ro-oad starts to callin’ me
There’s somethin’ o’er the hill that I gotta see
-Hank Williams,
Ramblin’ Man (1951)

I always knew I wanted to travel and see the world. My first “real” trip abroad was to Italy in 1988, when I was 12 years old. We were mainly there to visit my family’s villa in Sorrento, but first, we had to fly in to Rome. It was my first glimpse of the ancient world, and after seeing things like the catacombs, the Colosseum, and the Sistine Chapel—I was absolutely blown away. Aside from some of the amazing artifacts at the Met and Museum of Natural History, nothing that old existed anywhere near where I grew up in New York, or even in North America for that matter. And while I loved taking class trips and seeing all the antiquities at the museums, it couldn’t compare with actually standing inside an arena where gladiators fought to the death.

It wasn’t just the monuments that made Rome different…it was the food, the language, and even the pornography! On one of the first nights there, my mother tried to save a few bucks on a hotel and decided we would stay at a local convent. Earlier in the day, I picked up a copy of some weird Italian nudie mag, and hid it under my mattress before going to bed. The next morning, one of the nuns who made up the rooms found it and started screaming at me in Italian. Although I was definitely embarrassed and in fear of my life…I quickly realized that this was what traveling was all about! There was something about getting into trouble in a foreign place that made things more fun…and somehow the memories that got made became that much more vivid.

And that’s why I wrote Traveling High and Tripping Hard…to try and share some of my adventures from around the world before I forget them all. And while I might not get the chance to trot around the planet the same way that I used to, there are still plenty of things over the hill that I gotta see. If all goes well, maybe I’ll write a sequel in another thirty years: “Traveling with a Walker and Tripping Harder”.

Because ultimately, no matter how old you get…it’s never too late to jump on a plane and find some trouble, and hopefully get yelled at in a language you don’t understand.
Joseph Davida is the pen name of a successful Nashville- based entrepreneur, former rock musician, and New York native.  He is currently at work on his next book, as yet untitled. Connect with him on the web:

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Story Behind the War Eternal Series by J.F. Cain

As a child, I was drawn to the mysterious, the magical, and the unfathomable. As I grew older this interest grew, creating a thirst in me to know and understand human nature, the world surrounding it and the mysteries hidden behind the veils of space and time. Searching for answers, I began to study psychology, mythology, philosophy and esotericism. But the demands of work and family forced me to put an end to my intellectual quest.

Years later, when there was no longer anything to stop me from exploring the worlds I was so curious about, I decided to move to a house in the mountains. There, experiencing a sense of profound silence and inner completion, I felt the conditions were right for me to devote myself to the study and exploration of the subjects I was interested in.

This time I included other sciences in my research, such as comparative religion, anthropology and quantum physics. I now knew that, in order to find the answers to my questions, I had to couple the knowledge concealed in religious teachings and philosophies with the findings in physics revealing an invisible, parallel and imperceptible universe – a pairing that many scientists and writers had attempted before me.

It was not an easy endeavor. To succeed, I had to counter the harsh rationalism that life’s experiences had wrought in me with a persistent sense that a metaphysical mystery did indeed exist. And I also had to shape a logic of a different quality and breadth. I travelled arduous spiritual paths, discovered terrifying secrets and learned firsthand how dangerous it can be to enter elusive spheres of esoteric knowledge. I faced unexpected difficulties and had to make many sacrifices, but I did not give up.

One winter evening, as I sat by the fireplace, my gaze pinned on the flames and my mind lost in theories, symbols and trains of thought, I experienced something that propelled me to write an allegorical story based on the knowledge I had gained.

There followed three years of non-stop intellectual ferment and writing, which gave birth to a large part of the War Eternal series. In this novel, over and above the clearly expressed objective logic, I tried to conceal important ideas within tantalizing external forms. Because some truths are hard to accept…

About the Author

 J.F. Cain is a writer with a restless mind who spent years of her life reading and traveling. But of all the places she has been to, her favorite is a house in the mountains where she can focus on her writing. She is a seeker of knowledge who transcribes the results of her studies in her books. Her favorite pastime –other than reading and writing- is scouring libraries. However, she has lately convinced herself that she enjoys shopping just as much, as well as spending time with family and friends –the few that can still tolerate her frequent and extended periods of absence.
Her latest book is War Eternal: Angels’ Whispers.



Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Story Behind ‘The Lübecker’ by M.J. Joseph

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The Lübecker was written primarily on a breezy, inset porch of a large, white, lap-sided, 1912 house overlooking Pensacola Bay, so architecturally typical, but now, so frequently disappearing, before gentrification along the coastal South. While this setting recalled childhood memories that influenced the novel, I began constructing character apologues that ultimately inspired the development of The Lübecker after a conversation I had with a friend two years before in England, while sitting on a weathered old bench located on the apex of the Lincoln Edge, overlooking a long abandoned Roman well. Our chat concerned, amongst other things,  the life of his German grandmother, the effect that the sight of film actress Gina Lollobrigida’s bosom had on us as adolescents, Lawrence Durrell’s autographical book, Bitter Lemons and the life, work and milieu of Lou Andreas-Salomé.  And, of course, the Roman well. As I wrote during the months subsequent to this conversation, I found myself remembering other stories, as told to me by other European friends, of their relations and acquaintances who wandered about their continent seeking adventure, or employment, or love, or the fulfillment of some spiritual or intellectual cacoethes, which had further effect by recalling the restless history of Andreas-Salomé.

After constructing several character sketches, the structure of another work by Lawrence Durrell, his most famous, The Alexandria Quartet, began haunting my attempts to build a narrative to capture the characters developing rapidly in my imagination. I decided that parallel narratives, spun on their own as farraginous tales using the influence of place, which figures so importantly in The Alexandria Quartet, the old, reliable Bildungsroman and a few shared philosophical challenges, would allow the characters growth, with the presentation of the historical dynamics, chosen to anchor the book, pushing them toward a final, convincing resolution.  I also fancied them as the children of Lou Andreas-Salomé, who bore no children, but I wanted my revelation of Lou, experienced over forty years, to arouse a familial sense among the disparate, primary characters offered in The Lübecker.
Finally, the realization that all of the principal characters were proving to be restive and impatient for progression as I excogitated them, led me to bow to the inevitable commitment to give the most singular among them a book of their own, further imitating Durrell, allowing them their own unique voices to expand the world of The Lübecker.
9781614935247-JacketGray_Lubecker COVER.indd 

NameM. J. Joseph
Book TitleThe Lübecker
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Peppertree Press

The Lubecker explores the dynamics of personal identity and self-knowledge in a thematically braided journey of characters toward a dramatic and unexpected finale. M.J. Joseph achieves this by plunging the reader into a world of parallel and lively narratives drawn into the roiling milieu of European history leading to the onset of World War I. the book also recalls many of Western Literature’s most engaging philosophical and religious challenges and its most memorable and moving human struggles.

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Story Behind The Mentor by Lee Matthew Goldberg

The inspiration for my novel The Mentor began with my editor Brendan Deneen at Macmillan. He was looking for someone to write an idea he had that was pitched as Cape Fear set in the publishing
world. I wanted to add a literary bent to it as well so we conceived the plot of a professor who contacts a former student of his, who’s now a book editor at a prestigious house. The editor is glad to be in touch with his mentor, but when he reads the book it’s not only horribly written but depraved as well and reminds him of a cold case from when the two were at college together where a girl he dated went missing never to be find. So he starts thinking that his mentor might have had something to do with her disappearance.

While writing the book, I was influenced by the film Cape Fear and read a lot of current Stephen King novels like Mr. Mercedes, Revival and Finder’s Keepers. Also the novel The Long and Faraway Gone by Lou Berney was a big influence. I watched a lot of the shows Hannibal and Dexter as well to get in the mindset of the villainous mentor character. What’s great about those shows is you start to sympathize with someone like Dexter, even when he’s doing such horrible things. That was crucial for the mentor character in my book too. His past is responsible for turning him into who he is now, and while he does awful things, it was important that readers get his side of the story too.

The film and novel Wonder Boys bled into The Mentor as well, since it’s also about a professor who’s been writing a one thousand page opus as well that’s he’s unable to get published. I know what it’s like to be frustrated by not being published, so I tapped into that feeling of rejection that Michael Douglas’ character goes through.

About the Author

Lee Matthew Goldberg’s novel THE MENTOR is forthcoming from Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press in June 2017 and has been acquired by Macmillan Entertainment. The French edition will be published by Editions Hugo. His debut novel SLOW DOWN is out now. His pilot JOIN US was a finalist in Script Pipeline’s TV Writing Competition. After graduating with an MFA from the New School, his fiction has also appeared in The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, Essays & Fictions, The New Plains Review, Verdad Magazine, BlazeVOX, and others. He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series. He lives in New York City.

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Story Behind Rebel Song by Amanda J. Clay

One of the questions all writer’s undoubtedly receive is “where do you get your inspiration?” Sometimes there is a great lightbulb moment—a tragedy, a blessing, a unique childhood—that breathes life into an idea. For Rebel Song, I attribute it to a childhood obsession with tragic love stories, with fantasy tales of kings and queens, with gallant heroes sacrificing all.
When I describe the plot of Rebel Song to people, but tell them it’s contemporary, they often say, “Wait, it’s about a princess and a rebellion and star-crossed love? Sounds a little Medieval.” And it does sound like a plot of old. But it’s also a reality of today…Let me explain a bit of history about its inspiration.

The very first incarnation of Rebel Song came about 22 years ago—no joke! When I was 12—possibly suffering some unrequited love of my own—I actually wrote this short book about a princess who falls in love with a spy from another country and she betrays her kingdom for him. In the end she jumps off a cliff and kills herself so in retrospect it wasn’t a very uplifting story (I was a strange 12 year old, I admit). But I never forgot that tale and I’ve maintained this affinity for the star-crossed lovers since.

So fast forward a couple decades. I’m in Madrid, Spain, reading about the turmoil of Spain’s 20th century—from a monarchy to a dictator to back to a monarchy. And I realized that, while it’s strange to the Americans, royalty is alive and well in much of Europe. Additionally, many countries in Europe have undergone rebellions, dictators, civil war and more in the last fifty years alone. Sometimes there’s even a juicy love story thrown in there. I was fascinated by the history there and I suddenly knew I had to bring Rogan and Elyra’s story to life in a fresh new way.

And while the story is set in “modern-day,” I admit, the specific time period for the story is purposefully a little vague because I’m trying to avoid talking about real world events—it’s hard to talk about 20th century Europe and not discuss post WWII Communism, for example. I want the Rogan and Elyra’s story to just exist within itself and for the reader to not have to think about the outside world.

So once you have this great novel that you love more than your own mortal soul, what do you do with it?

After I’d finished and perfected Rebel Song to the best of my ability, I had to learn how to publish it! Writers today are living in the best of times. There are more ways than ever to reach millions of hungry readers. But with more choices, it can be daunting to decide the best way to go. I opted to Independently publish and I couldn’t be happier with my choice. It’s a lot of work—no denying that. As an Indie author, you’re responsible for every aspect of the process—from finding the cover design, getting a professional editor, finding beta readers and then doing the marketing. It was a long process, I stumbled a lot, made some mistakes, learned a TON and was excited to do it all again.
The second installment, Rebel Rising, is due out this September and I’m so excited to continue the saga with my readers.

About the Author

Amanda J. Clay is a writing YA and Adult fiction from Dallas, TX. A Northern California native, she had a fantastic time studying English and Journalism at Chico State University and then a very serious time slaving away for a Master’s degree in Communications from California State University, Fullerton. When she’s not staring at a computer screen, she spends most of her spare time on some new fitness addiction and plotting world adventures.

Her latest book is the young adult novel, Rebel Song.



Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Story Behind Scribble & Author by Miri Leshem-Pelly

What would it be like if I, as an author, could talk with one of my characters? This was the thought that popped up in my head once. I started to think about it and realized an interesting conflict. Authors usually love their characters, right? They care about them and even identify with them in a way. But on the other hand, authors make their characters suffer… Authors know that if they want their story to be interesting and engaging, they need to make their protagonist face some problems and challenges, sometimes even real danger. Therefore it is very likely that characters would have a lot to say to their authors, who are responsible to all of their misery.

That thought sparked the idea for my new picture book for children. I decided to create a story which would be based on a dialogue between the author and his character. I’m also the illustrator, so I had an interesting visual concept to go along with such a story. I decided not to illustrate the author, even though he is a character in this book (I know, it’s a bit confusing…) but instead, to show the author’s tools, such as pencil, eraser etc., as if they are on the page.

The protagonist is a little Scribble, made of a watercolor spot with some pencil lines, and that’s her name – Scribble. Scribble and Author talk, while the author is creating the story. But Scribble doesn’t always like the story. Can she change the plot? Can the author make her do something she doesn’t want? Who really gets to tell the tale? If you ever wrote a fiction story, maybe you know the feeling yourself. You create the character, but once you did, it has a life of its own, and the story is not totally in your control anymore.

So if you’re curious to find out what happens when an author meets and interacts with his character – Scribble & Author is the book for you!

About the Author

Miri Leshem-Pelly is the author-illustrator of 14 children’s books. She’s also illustrated 14 books for other writers. When Miri isn’t writing she can be found speaking at schools, kindergartens and libraries. She is invited to do more than 200 presentations with her books per year. Miri is also a Regional Advisor for SCBWI (Society of Children’s book writers & illustrators).
Miri is represented by Olswanger Literary Agency.
Miri’s works have won awards and her illustrations have been shown on several exhibitions.
Miri lives in Israel with her husband and two children, and loves reading books and going on nature hikes.
Her latest book is Scribble & Author.