What if an interviewer hasn’t read my book?

Journalists and radio hosts are being stretched thin, pulled in more directions than ever. It’s not always feasible for them to read a book from beginning to end before an interview. 

With this in mind, it’s best to provide the interviewer with all the information they need to properly guide the conversation, giving you the chance to fully communicate your message.

Before booking interviews, you’ll want to create 5-10 talking points that reflect your unique voice and your mission as an author. When brainstorming, consider the following:

  • What do you want to communicate? 
  • How do you want to present yourself? 
  • Why is your perspective timely and relevant? 
  • What topics will entice readers to pick up a copy of your book?

When booking interviews, give the producer or host a copy of your book and press kit along with your list of sample talking points. You can also share any additional resources that may be helpful (book trailers, links to articles you’ve written, etc.)

During the interview, don’t be afraid to fill in the gaps if needed. Bring up important topics even if the host doesn’t. If there’s a specific talking point you’d like to emphasize, go for it. It’s ultimately up to you to promote your book. If possible, keep a notecard with your talking points in front of you during the interview.

If an interviewer gets something wrong, gently correct them. It’s better to set the record straight than to have misinformation spreading around after the interview airs.

And if you don’t have enough time to cover all your talking points in the interview, that’s okay. It can be helpful to spread your message across multiple interviews and guest articles to keep things fresh!

Looking for more interview tips? Check out our article here.

New novel by USA Today bestselling author offers WWII narrative of conflict, courage and peace

Author Patricia Harman releasing “Once a Midwife” in November 2018

MORGANTOWN, West Virginia – USA Today bestselling author Patricia Harman is taking readers back in time as the United States entered World War II with her newest novel, “Once a Midwife (HarperCollins/William Marrow, Nov. 6, 2018), once again offering a valued female narrative to American historical fiction.

In a time of turmoil, Patience Hester, a skilled and trusted midwife, is in many ways the only stability for the women of Hope River Valley, West Virginia. With the Great Depression behind them, Patience and her veterinarian husband Daniel watch the progression of the war in Europe with trepidation. Following the bombing at Pearl Harbor, a wave of patriotism floods America, including Hope Valley. While a patriot, Daniel Hester is also a secret pacifist. And his refusal to join the draft results in his imprisonment, leaving Patience to care for and support their four children while fighting for Daniel’s release amid the judgment from the community.

Through Patience, we understand the anxieties and struggles on the American home front during World War II. And through Patience, Harman pushes readers to consider the different manifestations of patriotism, loyalty, unity, discrimination, cowardice, bravery and love.

“As a midwife I use stories to teach, to warn, to make people laugh and to renew hope,” Harman says. “As a writer, I’m still doing the same thing. Midwives are warriors in my books, healers that stand on the edge of life and death. They remind us that courage matters, that kindness is it’s own reward and that community is the glue holds the world together.”

PATRICIA HARMAN has spent over 30 years caring for women as a midwife, first as a lay-midwife, delivering babies in cabins and on communal farms in West Virginia, and later as a nurse-midwife on the faculty of Ohio State University, Case Western Reserve University, and West Virginia University. She lives near Morgantown, West Virginia, has three sons, and is the author of two acclaimed memoirs. Her first novel, “The Midwife of Hope River,” was successful around the world. “Once a Midwife” is the fourth book in the Hope River Series. For more information, please visit www.patriciaharman.com


PressKitBookCoverHarman“Once a Midwife”
Patricia Harman | Nov. 6, 2018 | HarperCollins/William Morrow
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0062869333 | $26.99
Paperback ISBN: 978-0062825575 | $16.99
Ebook ASIN: B0756DR699 | $11.99 (pre-order) | $26.99 (list price)
Historical Fiction

“Midwives are warriors in this beautifully sweeping tale.” – Kirkus Reviews







In an interview, PATRICIA HARMAN can discuss:

  • Her 30+ year professional experience with midwifery and women’s health issues
  • Her retirement from midwifery to focus on her career as a writer
  • Historical parallels and rhetoric from the World War II era and modern times
  • Her other books — including her memoirs and two children’s books
  • Women’s health issues, childbirth trends, PTSD with childbirth, postpartum depression, suicide and the impact on family, menopause, women and stress


PressKitAuthorPhotoHarmanAn Interview with Patricia Harman

Why did you choose to write about this era in American history? You came of age in the post-World War II America, in a time filled with compelling narratives and significant historical and cultural importance. Did you ever consider setting one of your books in the 1970s?
I set my first historical novel, “The Midwife of Hope River,” in the 1930s, at the beginning of the Great Depression. Our country was going through what we now call The Great Recession, and I thought readers would relate to the hardships of that era. When I finished the book, I realized I’d fallen in love with the characters, and I wanted to know more about them, so I have followed with two more novels, one set in 1935 and one in 1945. I’ve thought of writing about what would be happening in 1970, but right now I’m working on a new book, which begins in 1956 as the Civil Rights era is beginning in the United States.

Can you tell us more about your research for this book? How much did historical research dictate your fictional narrative?
The story of the people in the Hope River Valley reflects small town America responding to the big picture of what is happening in the world, so the research for my books is extensive. I use timelines, first person accounts and history websites. Sometimes I reach out to experts by email when I can’t find what I need on the Internet.

How did you go from being a midwife to being a bestselling author?
I have always been a storyteller. In my work as a midwife I tell stories to teach, to caution, to support and to entertain my patients. I never dreamed of being an author, but in 2008 when I was going through menopause I couldn’t sleep, and I began to write about my life and my patients. That was my first memoir, “The Blue Cotton Gown.” The book got so many good reviews that I just kept writing. It’s fun!

It sounds like you’ve had a very rewarding career to say the least, and you retired from midwifery about two years ago. Was that a difficult decision?
It took me several years to finally give up my day job. I loved taking care of women. What kind of work can you do where you give a dozen hugs a day? I felt that my patients really appreciated me, but I also loved writing and knew that readers appreciated my books. I was working two jobs and burning the candle at both ends. Finally, I decided to make a change. I could become an author and also further the cause of midwifery by writing about midwives!

You’re the mother of three sons — has that played into your writing at all?
My work has been entirely with females. Despite living with three sons and one husband, I’ve never really understood the way males feel and react. Interestingly, in my last two novels, the men have stepped forward and I have begun to write more about strong male protagonists.

You’ve mentioned in the past that you conducted your first home birth by accident — can you tell us more about that life-altering day?
Now that is a good story (and for the details you will have to read my second memoir, “Arms Wide Open: A Midwife’s Journey!”) Basically, in the mid-1970s I was the first Lamaze teacher in a small town in West Virginia. Many people from all over the U.S. were buying farms and starting intentional communities in the area at the time. We were interested in living non-violently, in harmony with the earth, and the land was cheap.

I was visiting a commune to give a private childbirth class to a friend, when a storm came up and we had to stay over. During the night, the woman went into labor. There was no way to get to the hospital, and I ended up delivering my first baby. It was such a beautiful experience that I went on to deliver many more at home and in the end I went back to school to become a nurse-midwife.

Author draws from his past to pen dramatic new novel about prep school students exploited in a disturbing study “Atlas of Men” by David Sklar releases in October


PHOENIX, Arizona – In the late ‘60s when David Sklar walked the hallowed halls of an elite New Hampshire academy as a prep school student, it never occurred to him that those unforgettable years would one day serve as the backdrop of his debut novel. Releasing on Oct. 16, 2018, “Atlas of Men” borrows scenes from Sklar’s own experience as the unwitting subject of an unethical research study that left him and his fellow classmates traumatized for years to come.

“Atlas of Men” follows Dr. Robert Thames whose life is turned upside down when three boxes unexpectedly arrive at his Washington, D.C. doorstep, and he begins to uncover a 50-year-old scandal hidden behind the doors of a famed New England preparatory school. Now an infectious disease specialist searching for new antibiotic cures, Dr. Thames grew up as the adopted Filipino son of medical missionaries before attending the mostly-white Danvers Academy, which is modeled after Sklar’s alma mater. As he opens three Danvers-addressed boxes, painful memories resurface sparking his quest to unbury the truth of a research study, from which he was a subject.

In his novel, Sklar raises important ethical questions about research with human subjects and science’s relationship to race and identity, all within a thrilling narrative of scandal and secrecy at a prestigious private school.

“As a physician, teacher and journal editor I found myself thinking, ‘How did we let this happen?’ as I uncovered details about the research project that inspired this novel,” Sklar said. “I hope this story encourages an exploration of how and why we perform human research and the responsibilities of our institutions to protect participants. I also hope readers can identify with the characters I created. They refused to be victims and ultimately triumphed.”

From 1965 to 1968, David Sklar attended a prep school where he was the unwitting subject of a research study that attempted to link body type to leadership potential. This disturbing experience inspired “Atlas of Men” (Oct. 16, 2018). Sklar’s previous book, a memoir, explores his experience as a volunteer in a rural Mexican clinic prior to medical school and how it shaped his later career in healthcare. “La Clinica” was chosen as one of the Best Books of 2008. An emergency physician, researcher, editor of a medical education journal, and a Professor of Medicine at both Arizona State University and the University of New Mexico, Sklar currently lives with his wife in Phoenix, Arizona.

FeaturedImageSklarAbout the Book
“Atlas of Men”
David Sklar | October 16, 2018 | Volcano Cannon Press
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-7323484-0-0 | $15.99
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-7323484-1-7 | $12.99
Literary Fiction | Drama

Dr. Robert Thames, an infectious disease specialist who travels the world in search of new antibiotics, has just learned that his government job is about to be cut when three boxes are unexpectedly delivered to his home in Washington, DC. Inside them are files of a long lost secret research study conducted at his prestigious prep school when he was a student there. Robert has repressed all memories of this degrading “study,” particularly the naked photos .He learns that the research intended to explore the relationship between body type and leadership qualities — and it shocks and infuriates Robert. He decides to track down his four closest friends from Danvers Academy, and together, they uncover the terrible truth of what was buried by the faculty, the school, and the boys themselves.


An Interview with Davis Sklar

“Atlas of Men” is a fictionalized account of real events––can you explain why you chose to write your book as fiction instead of nonfiction? And can you elaborate on which parts are fictionalized and which aren’t?
The initial impetus for this story was the nude photos which upset me and many of my classmates who were only 14 or 15 years old and felt powerless to refuse to be photographed. After I became a physician and researcher I realized that important research principles such as informed consent and protection of vulnerable populations had been violated, and I wondered how this could have happened in an institution that prided itself in service to others and in protecting its students in place of their parents. My story attempts to provide some answers to that question.

I chose to write a fictional story because I wanted to delve into the personal experiences of the characters and how they grappled with their victimization and complicity in the world of Danvers. The research study serves as metaphor for certain values about class and race that were prevalent at the time and in the novel, the characters have the freedom to develop organically and unexpectedly and confront these values in ways that would not be possible in non-fiction.

Why is it important to you to keep the other people who were involved in the study anonymous?
Several of my classmates have already discussed or written about their reactions to this study, but I think that the privacy of individuals is important and for some people this experience and some of the associated events were traumatic and I do not want to assume that I know what is best for them.

Your alma mater, Phillips Exeter Academy, will always remind me of Phineas and Gene of “A Separate Peace” by John Knowles, who graduated from the school in 1944. What about the school lends itself to be a compelling setting for a novel?
Exeter is a unique educational environment with small classes, outstanding teachers, and intellectual rigor. For many students including myself it was a stepping stone to engagement with opportunities in every sector of American international life that would not have been possible without the experience. However the intensity of the intellectual experience and closed culture also created an emotional desert which many of us tried to overcome through tentative and sometimes risky relationships with each other and our teachers. It is those relationships and what happened to them over time that I find fascinating and wanted to explore in this novel.

Similarly, how did you go about fictionalizing a place where you spent your formative years? Did you feel a certain obligation to stay true to the setting and culture, or did you let yourself get creative with fictionalized elements?
I did base some of the descriptions upon what I remembered of Exeter, but the story should in no way been seen as a true rendition of Exeter or any of the people who were there when I attended. I created the characters out of imagination and from people who I have known at different times in my life.

The book raises important questions about scientific research and the abuse of human subjects in that research. Can you tell us why this was important to address?
Unfortunately there is a long and sad history of abuse of human subjects during research with the worst examples during the Nazi research during World War II. But in the U.S. we had the research on African American men with syphilis, the Henrietta Lacks story of use of her cells without adequate education or permission and experiments on disabled children with hepatitis virus. The study that I participated in was part of an effort to categorize people based upon physical characteristics. Not only was the scientific basis of the study flawed; there was no effort to seek permission from parents or to inform the children and allow them to decide whether to participate. And there still has been no acknowledgement on the part of many of the institutions that participated or an apology to those of us who participated. This is wrong and we need to discuss this as a community, learn from it, and make sure it never happens again.

Can you elaborate more on how “Atlas of Men” touches on issues of science and identity?
During the time that this study was being designed and implemented there was enormous growth in our understanding of genetics and inheritance. While many characteristics of body type are inherited our identity and our personality are affected by culture, social relationships and individual motivation. The basis for the study that I participated in harkened back to a time when there were beliefs about ideal body types and purification of the human race through genetic manipulation. The classification of men based upon their body types would suggest that we are limited as to who we might become and what we might be able to accomplish based upon our body. I think that is an unfortunate message that is not based upon science. The story in “Atlas of Men” explores some of the history of this idea and how the characters in the story grapple with it.

You’re a physician who travels for conferences regularly. What do you think the response will be from the medical community about telling a scientific, medical-based story from a fictionalized perspective?
I hope this book with provoke a discussion about what inspired the story and the larger issues about class, race and identity that are also themes of the story. I also hope the story will be entertaining and leave the reader with a sense of going on a journey with the characters and becoming better for it.

Long-lost reward for German assassin’s ID to be paid 146 years later at the Gaithersburg Book Festival in Maryland

Author Ann Marie Ackermann, German mayor will present the reward in May.


Gaithersburg, MARYLAND – A year after releasing her debut true crime book, “Death of an Assassin,” author Ann Marie Ackermann will be joined by special guests at the Gaithersburg Book Festival in Maryland on May 19 to present a reward that has remained unpaid for 146 years. The recipients are the American descendants of a man who solved the assassination of a German mayor in 1835. Two of the descendants, Jennifer Manion and Patricia Beisner, live in Gaithersburg, Md. Descendant Robert Humphreys lives in Clarkston, Ga., and Richard Humphreys lives in Fanwood, NJ. All four will be attending the May 19 event.

Ackermann’s book, released by Kent State University Press in 2017, tracked the never-before-told story of the assassin, Gottlob Rueb, who fled Germany and later died in Mexico defending Robert E. Lee’s position in battle during the Mexican-American War. Frederick Rupp, a German immigrant in Washington, D.C., provided the crucial tip in 1872 that solved the murder, but the reward was never paid after the city council minutes recording the decision to offer the prize were misfiled and archived.

“I believe this is the oldest reward for solving a murder to have ever been paid out – a case, perhaps, for the Guinness Book of World Records,” said Ackermann.


The current mayor of Bönnigheim, Germany, Kornelius Bamberger, and Gaithersburg Mayor and Book Festival Founder Jud Ashman will accompany Ackermann on May 19 to finally bestow the long-lost reward of €1,000 to members of the family of the man who originally solved the case.

“Over the past eight years the Gaithersburg Book Festival has played host to many wonderful stories,” said Mayor Ashman, “but I don’t recall one quite as intriguing as this one.”

“The reward ceremony will bring a 180-year-old cold case to its closure,” said Ackermann. “That man did our city an incredible favor 146 years ago and Bönnigheim owes its descendants the recognition. They are town heroes in Germany.”



About Ann Marie Ackermann and The Gaithersburg Book Festival

Ann Marie Ackermann is a former attorney with focuses on criminal and medical law. Eighteen years ago, she moved to Bönnigheim, Germany, the town in which the assassination occurred, and is a member of its historical society. Ackermann’s intimate knowledge of the town and of the German language enabled her to bring the German and American sides of this story together. She has a number of academic publications in law, ornithology, and history.

AnnMarieAckermannThe Gaithersburg Book Festival is an annual all-day celebration of books, writers and literary excellence. Quickly becoming one of the premier literary events in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, the 2018 Festival is scheduled for Saturday, May 19, on the grounds of Gaithersburg City Hall, in Olde Towne Gaithersburg, Md. Activities will include author appearances, discussions and book signings; writing workshops; a Children’s Village; onsite sales of new and used books; literary exhibitors and food, drink, ice cream and more. FREE admission and accessible shuttle will be available from Shady Grove Metro and Lakeforest Mall. The Gaithersburg Book Festival also hosts author events in Montgomery County throughout the year as a way to encourage continued appreciation for all things literary. For more information please visit www.gaithersburgbookfestival.orgor follow on Twitter @GburgBookFest.




About the Book:

“Death of an Assassin”
Ann Marie Ackermann | September 1, 2017 | Kent State University Press
ISBN: 978-1606353042
Historical True Crime

The first volunteer killed defending Robert E. Lee’s position in battle was really a German assassin. After fleeing to the United States to escape prosecution for murder, the assassin enlisted in a German company of the Pennsylvania Volunteers in the Mexican-American War and died defending Lee’s battery at the Siege of Veracruz in 1847. Lee wrote a letter home, praising this unnamed fallen volunteer defender. Military records identify him, but none of the Americans knew about his past life of crime.

Before fighting with the Americans, Lee’s defender had assassinated Johann Heinrich Rieber, mayor of Bönnigheim, Germany, in 1835. Rieber’s assassination became 19th-century Germany’s coldest case ever solved outside of a confession and the only 19th-century German murder ever solved in the United States. Thirty-seven years later, another suspect in the assassination who had also fled to America found evidence in Washington, D.C. that would clear his own name, and he forwarded it to Germany. The German prosecutor Ernst von Hochstetter corroborated the story and closed the case file in 1872, naming Lee’s defender as Rieber’s murderer.



An Interview with Ann Marie Ackermann

How did you discover this case chronicled in “Death of an Assassin?”
In a 19th century forester’s diary detailing the murder, committed in 1835, and the solution in 1872 from Washington, D.C. It was highly unusual for a cold case that old to be solved in the 19th century. That piqued my interest. The assassin had fled to the USA and I started tracking him through the American archives. When the trail led me to Robert E. Lee – the assassin had died at his feet and Lee had written a letter about him – I knew this was more than just a German true crime story. It’s also American history.

What obstacles did you encounter in your international research?
Learning to read the old script you find in the German archives was daunting. I had to wade through nearly 800 pages of it in the original investigative file. I also hired a talented archivist to help me with research in the American archives because I couldn’t afford to fly over the pond every time I had a question.

Why did the original reward for solving this case never get paid?
The city minutes authorizing the reward got misfiled in the state archives. I suspect the city couldn’t find the minutes when the murder was finally solved and was hence unauthorized to pay out the money.

How in the world did you track down the descendants of the man who solved this case?
Gail McCormick, an American archivist and genealogist who helped me with American archival research for this book, helped track them down.

That must have been a bizarre experience for the family, to hear that their ancestor provided the information that identified a German assassin and there was a long-lost reward. What was their reaction when you told them about all of this?
At first they thought it was a hoax! Only after I sent them a copy of my book and my German mayor wrote their mayors did they believe us.

When did you move to Germany from the United States?
1996. I married a German.

For people who have never visited, what is Bönnigheim, Germany, like?
A rural town with a 1,200-year-old history nestled among the rolling vineyards of southwest Germany.

What’s next for you?
So many Germans want to read the story too! Kent State University Press and I are looking for a German publisher. In the meantime, I lead crime scene tours about this case, both in English and German.



237 Old Hickory Blvd., Suite 201, Nashville, TN 37221
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Childhood sexual abuse makes its way into the “Me Too” movement with Rosenna Bakari’s remarkable story

Debut novel portrays a distraught mother’s search for her missing child.


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado – The Me Too movement has brought the issue of sexual harassment to the forefront, and a new voice is entering the national conversation. Activist, educator and poet Rosenna Bakari is releasing a stunning new memoir this spring that shares her personal experience with incest, growing up in a home in Philadelphia where family members abused her as a child and how she is now empowering fellow survivors to live openly and heal.

In “Too Much Love Is Not Enough” (April 12, 2018), Bakari writes with pure honesty, sensitivity and, last but not least, inspiring strength. She hides nothing from her readers — the good, the bad and the ugly. Her effort to love when there is much reason to hate is truly remarkable. The memoir, which marks Bakari’s fourth book, gives an intimate glimpse into what it’s like to live as an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse and why she decided to break her silence.

“We were never supposed to talk about this, so we didn’t know how,” she says.

Bakari founded a nonprofit organization, Talking Trees, in 2010 as the first of its kind to encourage survivors of childhood sexual abuse and incest to live openly. The organization began as an online community and has since evolved to include an annual conference for members across the United States.

Rosenna Bakari earned her Ph.D. in educational psychology from the University of Northern Colorado in 2000, several years after receiving her M.S. in counseling from the State University of New York. She earned her B.S. in psychology from Cornell University in 1984. Her professional career includes drug and alcohol counseling, psychiatric technician, college campus therapist, and teaching at community and four-year colleges. Bakari is currently the executive director of Talking Trees, Inc., a nonprofit empowerment organization for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. As the founder, she has grown the organization to over 5,500 international followers that gather online daily to read her updated post for discussion. In addition to creating online resources to support survivors, Talking Trees, Inc. holds a National Safe Space Day Conference every April 15 to celebrate the resilience of survivors. Talking Trees, Inc. is the first organization to encourage and support survivors living openly to heal. Her newest book “Too Much Love Is Not Enough: A Memoir of Silence of Childhood Sexual Abuse” releases on April 12, 2018.


TooMuchCoverAbout the Book:

“Too Much Love Is Not Enough: A Memoir of Silence About Childhood Sexual Abuse”
Rosenna Bakari | April 12, 2018 | Karibu Publishing
ISBN: 978-0- 9971699-2- 8
$21.99 (hardcover) | $24.99 (paperback) | $9.99 (ebook)
Memoir | Biography

Rosenna Bakari’s memoir is a UV light that reveals the blood stain of silence – presenting irrefutable evidence that harm has been done in spite of the squeaky-clean surface. Rosenna’s effort to live as if the abuse never happened supported her approach to personal and professional trials, seeing them as obstacles to be overcome, rather than permanent barriers. However, all of the systems upon which she relied deepened her pain. To her dismay, achievements of marriage, financial stability and earning her Ph.D. continuously bumped up against her childhood trauma as she hid thoughts of suicide and accumulating health concerns. She weaved through bitterness and anger in a world that seemed hell-bent on breaking the spirit and believes others can too because trauma should not have the final word.


An Interview with Rosenna Bakari

Tell us about the title of your book – “Too Much Love Is Not Enough.” What does it mean?
I firmly believed that loving others would take away my pain. I had to learn that when you love too much, you hurt yourself, and that loving too much will never be enough to stop pain.

Why did you write this book now? Is this your response to the Me Too movement?
I actually began writing the book about two months before the movement started. The funny thing is that I started writing it because something inside me said that it was time to write it. I had come as far along in my advocacy work as I could without telling my own story. Sharing my personal experience is an open invitation for survivors to join me on this healing journey. There are not enough everyday survivors talking to each other about our challenges and hopes. Survivors need role models like everyone else, including validation of the pain and hope for healing. For too many years, I found neither. So, I committed my life to creating safe space for survivors to heal.

You start off your book by saying that “silence is not a quiet space.” What does that mean to you?
Incest survivors tend not to speak unless there is something about our experience that is newsworthy. So little is known, including the fact that there are approximately 40 million incest survivors. That’s a lot of silence. But there’s all kinds of noise in the head that creates the negative long-term effects of living with silence, including depression, addiction and severe medical concerns as well as relationship issues.

How common is incest? Is your experience typical?
Estimates for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse in America today is more than 50 million. Like me, most of those survivors were not identified in childhood, had more than one violator, and the violator was a relative, with the abuse taking place within the home. So, my victimization is not unique. What is unique is my journey to healing, the fact that I escaped so many of the negative consequences yet experienced all the pain.

How can people protect children from sexual abuse?
We must be careful in our discussion about the vulnerability to childhood sexual abuse as if it is a virus. When we focus on child characteristics of vulnerability we take the focus off of violators. The only reason children are sexually abused is because a violator sexually abuses them, almost always a person known to them. Exposure to an abuser is the greatest vulnerability and predictor of childhood sexual abuse. We must start targeting violators for identification instead of victims. We must bring violators and their character to the light and give them less room to hide among the crowd as least likely suspects. We know too much to continue in denial. We know that parents, siblings, clergy, teachers, coaches, babysitters, neighbors and grandparents can be violators. Paying bills, having a charming personality or being in a relationship should not decrease suspicion. The number one problem that survivors encounter in healing is not being supported by family members. Too often the family chooses to focus on the problems caused by the survivor who wants to break the silence instead of the violator who committed the crime, thus perpetuating the problem.

What are some misconceptions that you face as an adult survivor of incest?
People refuse to understand how much childhood trauma can affect the adult life. You can’t just forget about childhood sexual abuse. There is so much dysfunction imposed on you as a child just to survive. And there is not a “thing” that you do to heal, like forgive, confront your violator, or let go. Healing is a developmental process, a life journey to undo the dysfunction and life free of the effects of trauma.

What does it mean to live openly as a survivor?
Living openly is not about telling everyone your history; it’s about not giving a darn who knows. It means that survivors no longer keep the secret. We allow natural consequences for what violators did in order to be free. Keeping the secret keeps violator intimately connected to victims. Each survivor decides how they live openly. I took seven years to write a memoir. Some survivors write a memoir to begin their journey of living openly. Most survivors will simply stop lying about their history and never engage in advocacy work. Others will participate in living openly forums. The only requirement is to drop the secret.

Did writing this book free you somehow?
Yes, but it is not like winning the lottery type of freedom where you can now live your perfect life. It is the type of freedom you feel like riding in a hot air balloon. You get such a beautiful view, but you have to ignore the sense of danger from being that high up in the air.

Have you forgiven the people who hurt you?
Forgiveness of violators is not really on my “to do” list of healing. I have forgiven myself. That’s what matter to me.

Why do most survivors wait until they are in their 40s to start dealing with the abuse?
Most of us come to the healing path kicking and screaming with resistance. We try to live our lives as if the abuse didn’t happen. We use all sorts of distractions, and we are in our 40s by the time those distractions stop working. The dismantling of the distractions lead us to the healing path. Divorce, children leaving home, parents dying, serious illness or something happens that excavates the pain of our past.

Tell us about Talking Trees, Inc.
Taking Trees, Inc. is an empowerment organization for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Through the organization I have created healing resources for survivors, including managing a website and publishing a monthly newsletter. Also I offer shared videos online, produced a theatrical performance, offered a catalogue of affirmation memes, published a book of daily gems, and held six conferences. Talking Trees has 6,000 international members through Facebook, and we dialogue each day based on my daily post.

Do you counsel other survivors in your organization?
No, I do not offer counseling services to survivors. However, I do make myself accessible through email or online chats to discuss brief issues. Sometimes survivors need a space to check in. Other times they just want to let me know how great Talking Trees is for their healing. The success of Talking Trees is largely contingent on my accessibility.

Are you healed?
I now live free of the harmful effects of childhood sexual abuse. But I think healing is a commitment to oneself to live with authenticity and transparency every day. That means I have to product healing within my life daily, like brushing my teeth so that I have good hygiene. I have great mental hygiene as long as I keep brushing off the grit every day.

What is Safe Space Day?
I created Safe Space Day in 2010 on April 15. It is a day to recognize and celebrate the resilience of adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. At our Safe Space Day Conferences we hold a survivors only session at the end of the day so that survivors can find their tribe after a day of open community learning. For those who cannot attend Safe Space Day there are ideas and instructions on our website as to how to participate in the day.

Is it true that you are a poet?
Yes, my poetry collection includes over 150 poems, most are transformational poems, written to change the heart, mind or behaviors of the listener.

Where does your nickname, “Rogue Scholar,” come from?
Many Ph.D. professionals use their training to make money and advance their careers. They also tend to maintain the status quo. Unlike many of my peers, I use my training to challenge the systems that burden humanity. I also write poetry instead of journal articles. I yield to constituents that have been largely ignored. Most of the people I hang out with and try to impress are survivors, poets or do-gooders, much younger than me, less educated and less financially stable. Sometimes they are called “grass roots” people. I call them “my tribe.”

What’s next for you?
I’m hoping for an international platform that gives survivors validation and hope. Otherwise, I will be sitting with my tribe online every day creating safe space to heal.


237 Old Hickory Blvd., Suite 201, Nashville, TN 37221
Ellen Whitfield
(616) 258-5537

Women Reading Aloud founder Julie Maloney tackles fiction after a lifetime dedicated to the arts

Debut novel portrays a distraught mother’s search for her missing child.


MENDHAM, New Jersey – Acclaimed poet and dancer Julie Maloney is pursuing her latest creative feat in her debut novel — the psychological thriller, “A Matter of Chance.”

Releasing on April 10, 2018, by She Writes Press, “A Matter of Chance” tells the story of an 8-year-old girl’s disappearance from a New Jersey shore town and her mother’s relentless search for her child, even in the face of life-threatening danger. Research for Maloney’s novel took her to Germany where she visited the Kathe Kollwitz Museum, curator of the largest collection of work by this most revered artist – the muse for Maloney’s novel. She also had several interviews with a former undercover DEA agent from Brooklyn, New York, who answered questions on the topic of underworld crime.

“I loved doing the research for this novel,” Maloney says. “The more I learned, the more passionate I felt about telling this story.”

While writing her book, Maloney drew on methods from the sold out international writing retreats she has hosted for the past 15 years with Women Reading Aloud. Her nonprofit organization supports and promotes women writers all over the world.

“A Matter of Chance” is brimming with suspense and heart-stopping twists that will consume the minds of readers to the very last page.

JULIE MALONEY is the founder/director of Women Reading Aloud, a non-profit organization devoted to promoting women writers. She is a trained workshop leader in the Amherst Writers and Artists Method and holds an MFA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She is a former dancer, choreographer and artistic director of the Julie Maloney Dance Company in New York City. Her book of poems, “Private Landscape,” was published by Arseya Press. Her poems have appeared in many journals, such as Tiferet, WomenKin, Paterson Literary Review and others. She is a frequent speaker on “Writing as a Life Tool.” As director of Women Reading Aloud, she leads writing workshops throughout the year. Maloney will return to the island of Alonnisos in September 2018 to lead her eighth international writer’s retreat in Greece. In 2017, she led her second writer’s retreat in the south of France. Her debut novel, “A Matter of Chance,” will be published by She Writes Press in April 2018.


About the Book:

“A Matter of Chance”
Julie Maloney | April 10, 2018 | She Writes Press
Print ISBN: 978-63152-369-4 | $16.95
E-Book ISBN: 978-1-63152-370-01 | $9.95
Psychological Suspense/Women’s Fiction

When eight-year-old Vinni Stewart disappears from a Jersey shore town, Maddy, her distraught single mother, begins a desperate search for her daughter. Maddy’s five-year journey leads her to a bakery in Brooklyn, where she stumbles upon something terrifying. Ultimately, her artist neighbor Evelyn reconnects Maddy to her passion for painting and guides her to a life transformed through art.

Detective John D’Orfini sees more than a kidnapping in the plot-thickening twists of chance surrounding Vinni’s disappearance, but his warnings to stay away from the investigation do not deter Maddy, even when her search puts her in danger. When the Russian Mafia warns her to stop sniffing into their business, Maddy must make a choice whether to save one child―even if it might jeopardize saving her own.

“Beautiful and sensitive…effortlessly readable” —Christina Baker Kline, author of the New York Times best-selling “Orphan Train”


An Interview with Julie Maloney

What led you to lead a creative life as a dancer, teacher and writer? And how do those creative paths intersect?
I studied modern dance as a child and from there I made the decision to be a professional dancer when I grew up. I followed that dream by studying with masters in the dance world like Charles Weidman, Alvin Ailey, Alwin Nikolais and Murray Louis. Dancing made me feel free! That same quest for freedom connected me once again to the love I always had for reading and writing. My early years laid the foundation for my love for the arts. My work as a dancer/choreographer and artistic director of my own dance company, as well as college professor, intersected well—each strengthened my work, even though each is a form unto itself. All flowed into one another organically.

How do you balance your creative paths as a dancer and writer? Do you wait for inspiration to strike? Do they co-exist in your life at the same time?
By the time I stopped dancing professionally, I had a husband and three young children. Initially, I struggled with leaving the dance world. My body missed the endorphins. Soon, I realized that I had to pay attention to what my body needed—consistent exercise. I began by walking and learning how to breathe deeply. It was not an easy transition. I did a lot of soul-searching—asking myself what I needed. The more questions I asked, the more I moved to the page to search out the responses. Around this time, I discovered yoga. It gave me that same sense of freedom by moving in space and stretching my muscles. As my body yearned for movement, my writing yearned for a voice that I continue to explore daily by moving to the page. Inspiration strikes at varied times, but a writer cannot wait for inspiration. This is a rather dismal thought… the idea of waiting, always is… I sit down and let my mind slip into that space where I find freedom! If I were not to show up and do the work, inspiration might never visit.

How similar/dissimilar is the life of a dancer compared to the life of a writer? How do you turn writing into a “practice,” like one would have a dance practice?
I love this question! Practice is key. Before I sat down to respond to this question, I was ‘practicing’ yoga on my mat. I stretched and tapped into my breath and regained a sense of energy and calm. A writer needs stamina, just as a dancer does. Working through plot and character development, discovering the arc in the storyline—all of this requires devotion to the unraveling of the truth in the themes the story tells. I am also a poet and this form, too, excites me. Lyricism and timing might be more noticeable in the poetic form, but a writer of any genre must pay attention to the same elements. My body’s needs are different as a writer. I work at a standing desk as I found that sitting became detrimental to my physical health. A dancer has a timeline. A writer does not. She can create until her last breath. Creating a writing practice takes discipline—just as does landing a perfect leap on the stage. You have to put in the time.

You have already penned a book of poetry – what made you want to write a book of fiction? Did your writing approach change?
When I am in a tough spot writing fiction, I read poetry. I’m often writing poetry in my head. Lines circle round and round until I have to reach for a pen and paper. I write poetry in longhand, but most of the time, I write fiction on the computer. For my debut novel, “A Matter of Chance,” I often wrote at the New York City Public Library – the main branch on Fifth Avenue. Here, I started out by writing on paper, but then I quickly turned to a small tablet. Writing fiction started out as a personal challenge. Then, of course, I went deeper and the characters took hold of me until I simply had to listen. For me, there’s no turning back from writing fiction, but I still write and give poetry readings. It takes longer for me to discover the plot twists and turns in prose; poetry is a bit kinder.

What motivated you to create an international organization for women writers, Women Reading Aloud?
Ahh…now you have touched on another passion of mine—bringing women writers together and giving them a safe and supportive community to grow as artists. I am a fervent believer in the talents all of us possess. I call them “gifts.” What haunted me was that I saw few places where women’s voices were being honored, honed, and encouraged to soar. I have a quote I use that came to me one day when I was teaching a workshop: “Begin with a whisper, eventually you will find your roar.” This captures exactly why I believe in WRA (Women Reading Aloud). Over the past 15 years, I have taught thousands of women writers throughout the USA, Canada, Germany, Portugal, Greece, London and even Australia. Several have gone on to publish and give readings; others continue to write to discover what they didn’t know they knew. Writing is a life tool. It is not just for those who wish to publish.

You set scenes of your book at iconic natural landmarks––both the New Jersey shoreline and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. What about these places inspired you to include them in your book’s plot?
I am drawn to water and to gardens. I am a member of the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. Going there is something I love to do. I don’t follow a map. I just walk and look and stop and shoot pictures. I love photography. What I see through the lens is what I write about. A good picture has three points the photographer should hit in the frame. I look for those, just as I look for the right descriptions in a scene so the reader can imagine herself/himself there, inside the page, behind the words. My parents retired to a home near the ocean and for years, I visited there as often as I could—first as a newlywed, then with my children. I live about 75 minutes from the Atlantic Ocean. My dream is to live closer, but even this is not an obstacle. In my novel, I wrote about what I knew but also what I didn’t know…I think good writing is a mixture of both. I based one of the major towns in “A Matter of Chance” on the town by the ocean where I was married. My love for flowers and gardens, even though I am not a true gardener, is real. When my children were young, I used to tell them, “When you grow up, don’t ever wonder what to give me…make it flowers.” I’m happy to say that they’re following my wishes!”

What is the most shocking piece of information you received while interviewing an undercover DEA for this novel?
I learned how easy it is to commit a serious crime and get away with it. When I first heard about this particular undercover agent—he was recently retired and was studying acting—I thought I would meet him at a NYC coffee shop, but then it occurred to me that if anyone overheard us, they might think I was planning a kidnapping! So we met in a friend’s apartment in the East Village in NYC. I spoke with him at length, more than once. I knew nothing about how to secure fake papers to leave the country. “A package,” they call it.

Why did you think traveling to Germany was important for your book?
I felt pulled to Germany. I had been there when I was a college student traveling and studying abroad. “The Diary of Ann Frank” is one of my favorite books. I can still remember reading the last page, sitting on the floor in the living room and crying. Traveling to Germany taught me that I had to immerse myself—not just read about the subject–but taste it until I knew what I was experiencing firsthand. Not every subject, of course, can be dealt with in this way. I remember swimming in the Forggensee with the Alps behind me as a storm gathered over the water. I needed to be there to experience this to give this back to the reader. I feel the same way with the next novel I am working on that is a continuation from “A Matter of Chance.” I want the experience or at least some part of it. Then I can unleash my imagination.

When did you first discover the artist Kathe Kollwitz, and what about her work spoke to you?
When I came upon Kathe Kollwitz’s work at the Morgan Library, I exhaled. I stood in front of that image for the longest time, knowing that I had discovered my muse for “A Matter of Chance.” Of course, I looked on the internet to learn more, but I knew in my heart, I had to go and see Kollwitz’s work in the museum dedicated solely to her art. There are actually two museums dedicated to Kollwitz—one in Cologne and one in Berlin. I went to Cologne. I will never forget walking down the street and seeing the sign announcing that I was approaching the museum. Going there in person was not just “important” for the book—it was necessary for me as a woman.



237 Old Hickory Blvd., Suite 201, Nashville, TN 37221
Ellen Whitfield
(616) 258-5537

In “Songs from an Imperfect Life,” author J. Ronald M. York reveals a lifetime of secrets


NASHVILLE, Tennessee – For some people, what happens behind closed doors can remain a secret for a lifetime, but author and musician J. Ronald M. York is breaking his silence, opening up for the first time about the personal hardships he smiled through and the “other life” he led for years.

Releasing on March 18, 2018, “Songs from an Imperfect Life” is the followup to York’s stunning debut memoir, “Kept in the Dark,” which chronicled the discovery of a grim family secret that was kept from him until just a few years ago when he accidentally stumbled across a box of letters between his mother and father. The secret? His father, a Boy Scout troop leader, had been locked up for sexual abuse of a child. York grew up knowing nothing about his father’s crime, and this discovery dramatically changed his life forever.

Peppered with York’s own poetry, song lyrics and family photos, “Songs from an Imperfect Life” takes readers on a journey through his fractured childhood in Nashville, where at 7 years old he was molested for the first time by a member of his church. Writing with pure honesty and powerful self reflection, York seamlessly weaves in stories about his encounters as a teenager with older men in dark movie theaters, his suicide attempt and a deluge of intense experiences that came along with growing up gay in the South in the ‘60s.

“With the release of my first book, ‘Kept in the Dark,’ I found myself overwhelmed by friends and strangers wanting to share with me their own personal stories of abuse – many talking about it for the first time,” York says. “I realized then that by coming forward with my parents’ story as well as my own, people were finding the courage to speak up and wanted to be heard. I truly believe there is a reason, a purpose for what happened to me. The bad decisions and risky behavior that followed has led me to a place where I feel I might can be of help to others – even if it’s only to listen without judgment.”

J. Ronald M. York, author of “Songs from an Imperfect Life” and “Kept in the Dark,” graduated from Belmont University with studies in voice and piano. He spent the next two decades in the field of interior design before opening his first art gallery in Nashville, Tenn. When not in the gallery, York can be found in his studio painting, at his piano composing, or assisting numerous nonprofit agencies with fundraising. He currently resides in Nashville with his cat, Miss Trixie Delight.



“Songs from an Imperfect Life”
J. Ronald M. York | March 18, 2018
St. Broadway Press LLC
ISBN: 978-0-9982734-4-0
$29.95 (hardcover) | $9.99 (ebook)

J. Ronald M. York has no memory of his third birthday party, or the fact that his father was not present. Family photos reveal a smiling child, while letters and newspaper clippings explain his father’s absence – he was in jail after being arrested for molesting Ron’s 13-year-old cousin.

The following year, the York family had relocated from Miami to Nashville. They joined First Baptist Church and tried to start over. His parents, busy keeping the secrets of their own past, were unaware that their 7-year-old son had begun keeping secrets, too. Over the next several years, Ron was molested by three men within the church. And by the age of 10, the sexual activity had expanded into downtown movie theaters, department store restrooms and beyond.

Although on a destructive and dangerous path, Ron kept his “other life” hidden behind a smile as his parents had done, so much so that even his occasional cries for help went unheeded. As a teenager, Ron found an outlet for expressing his thoughts, dreams and pain through the lyrics in his musical compositions.

Now that his late father’s secrets have been revealed, York believes there must be a reason and a purpose for his own complicated and flawed life. Songs from an Imperfect Life is a raw, honest confessional of a broken child’s desperate need for attention, and an account of his journey toward healing the pain that his family never expressed.


PressKitAuthorPhotoYorkAn Interview with J. Ronald M. York

You’ve kept many of the stories in your book private for so long. Why reveal them now?
I never thought that I would want parts of my past to be known. What would people think? Would they judge me? Of course they will judge – it’s human nature. However, there is something very freeing about exposing one’s secrets. But the most amazing thing is realizing we all have secrets and by sharing mine, others feel empowered to do the same.

Was writing this book therapeutic?
Most definitely. We all have those disjointed memories that we can recall, whether good or bad. “Remember that time when…” “And then there was the time that…” By taking those memories and placing them in chronological order, I was able to see, for the first time, a pattern. I now saw how one event led to another and another often escalating out of control. It gave me a better understanding as to why and how I so easily crossed over lines until I wasn’t sure I’d be able to find my way back.

Over the years, you found deep solace in writing music and poetry. How did those creative outlets help you through the darkest moments of your life?
After “Kept in the Dark” was released, childhood memories came flooding back and I decided it was time to ask for professional help. One of the first questions asked was if I ever kept a diary or journal. My answer was “No.” However, in writing about one relationship, I remembered that I wrote a song during my time with him. When I looked for the lyrics, I found a forgotten file of poetry and songs written as far back as my days in junior high. As I began to read, I realized that I had been journaling all along. These words were often written in response to what was happening in my life at that time. I’ve included many in the stories that I share as they help to flesh out the emotion that I was feeling.

In your new book, you describe yourself as a survivor rather than a victim. Can you elaborate on that?
No one wants to be a victim. I was abused as a child, but I was never physically harmed. I experienced male on male sex before puberty and continued down that path in a time where there was no one (parents, church or friends) that I could confide in. I took so many risks as I sought the attention that I first felt as a 7-year-old. I felt conflicted between knowing what I wanted and what others preached as being wrong. And yet, even with an overwhelming sense of loneliness, to the point of trying to harm myself, I survived. I reached a point of accepting even if those around me did not. And now, I see that my experiences might be of help to others. I will not allow myself to be the victim.

What do you hope readers will take away from reading “Songs from an Imperfect Life?”
I hope that they will see we should never judge others or assume their life might be better or easier than our own. I have friends that say they always remember me as the kid with the big smile. What they did not know was how often that smile was simply a facade. We all have secrets, struggles and things we might be ashamed of or embarrassed by if they were to be known. I hope readers will see past the flawed life and the bad decisions. None of us can predict how we might act if put in the same situation.

What’s next for you?
I definitely want to keep writing and will continue sharing stories in my weekly blog. But I also welcome the opportunity of public speaking – to be able share more of my experiences in hopes that my survival can be seen as encouragement for someone that is struggling.

237 Old Hickory Blvd., Suite 201, Nashville, TN 37221
Ellen Whitfield
(616) 258-5537

Meet Karen Stefano


PressKitAuthorPhotoStefanoRecognized for her bold commentary and fresh perspective, Karen Stefano is a JD/MBA with more than 20 years of litigation experience, the first eight of which were spent defending men and women accused of some of the most heinous crimes imaginable. She will soon release a true crime memoir, “Vigilance: An Autobiography of Fear.” In the book, Stefano chronicles her terrifying encounter with a man who assaulted her at knifepoint blocks away from the UC Berkeley campus, her jagged road of survival and the years of trauma that followed. She hosts the literary podcast “The Karen Stefano Radio Show” on Rare Bird Radio where she speaks with authors of all genres about their writing craft.

In interviews and as a guest speaker at events, Karen can fluently discuss:

  • The everlasting effects of assault on survivors
  • Becoming a defense lawyer after surviving a violent assault where her own attacker ultimately walked free
  • Living with PTSD and how it impacts relationships of all types, from family to friends to significant others
  • The constant struggle of women losing and regaining power
  • Her forthcoming memoir, “Vigalance: An Autobiography of Fear”

For more information, please visit http://stefanokaren.com


237 Old Hickory Blvd., Suite 201, Nashville, TN 37221

From World Series champs to Olympic gold medalists, athletes and coaches share uplifting stories of turning tragedy into triumph in “Champions”


New book bringing sports fans behind the scenes

For some athletes, the journey is just beginning after they receive a championship trophy. This is certainly true of the athletes and coaches who share life lessons in “Champions: 15 Inspiring Comeback Stories from Sports and Life,” a new book releasing on Feb. 22, 2018, by acclaimed journalist George Castle and sports consultant John Schenk.

The sports stars featured in “Champions” – ranging from football and volleyball players to swimming and rowing athletes – have accomplished some of the highest honors and achievements in their sports, but have also experienced some of the greatest challenges and tragedies including life-threatening illness, death of a loved one, suicidal thoughts, mental health issues, sexual abuse, injuries, addiction, job loss and more. These powerful stories journey with heroic sports stars through their on-field accomplishments. But the book also focuses on issues they overcame off the field, making them who they are today. As it turns out, their accomplishments off the field are often far superior than the medals, trophies, championships and Hall of Fame nominations these athletes have received during their lifetimes.

“Champions” is an uplifting book for sports fans well as student athletes in middle school, high school and college who are facing setbacks in life – such as the difficult decision choosing what sport to dedicate their time to, a breakup with a significant other, getting turned down by a college or job of their choosing, health issues, injuries, and those who want to see the personal side of these athletes.



15 Inspiring Comeback Stories from Sports and Life

George Castle and John Schenk
Feb. 22, 2018
Published by Signature Strength
ISBN: 978-0-9995298-0-5
$17.95 (paperback)
Sports • Inspirational

“Champions: 15 Inspiring Comeback Stories from Sports and Life” recounts the true stories of top-tier competitors whose greatest victories came against the fiercest of all opponents: life. From Victoria Arlen, a swimmer who came out of a coma to set a world record; to Bob Love, a busboy who fought his way back to the pro basketball ranks; to Kyle Schwarber who started out the Cubs’ 2016 season with a torn ACL and finished with a World Series Championship; these and a dozen other athletes will inspire you to overcome your own obstacles on the field and off as you pursue your dreams.

Sports Stars Featured in “Champions”
Marv Levy – National Football League Hall of Fame coach
Bob Love – Former all-time leading Chicago Bulls player; current Bulls’ Director of Community Affairs
Fergie Jenkins – Major League Baseball Hall of Fame member
Victoria Arlen – ESPN on-air personality; model; gold and silver medalist; current “Dancing with the Stars” competitor
Scott Touzinsky – 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist (volleyball)
Barry Lyons – Member of the 1986 World Series Champions New York Mets team
Ed Hearn – Member of the 1986 World Series Champions New York Mets team
Chris Krug – Built the iconic Field of Dreams, which inspired a movie
Thomas Henderson – Super Bowl XII champion; Pro Bowl player, known as “Mr. Hollywood” during his years with the Dallas Cowboys
Imani McGee-Stafford – Olympic gold medalist in women’s basketball
Kyle Schwarber – Member of the 2016 World Series Champions Chicago Cubs team
Tom Gamboa – Coached both professional level baseball in the United States and overseas, managing Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic
Rich Hill – Pitched in the 2017 World Series for the Los Angeles Dodgers; American League Pitcher of the Month in May 2016 and July 2017.
Moran Samuel – Won several Olympic medals for rowing representing Israel
Casey McGehee – National League Comeback Player of the Year in 2014
Mark Prior – 2003 Baseball All-Star
Dr. Richard Lehman – Member of the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame and the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame; serves as medical director of the U.S Center for Sports Medicine; pioneered articular cartilage reconstruction procedure



“Champions” is George Castle’s 15th book in a busy author’s career since 1998. Subjects of his books have ranged from broadcaster Harry Caray to volatile manager Lou Piniella to the top 50 game changers in baseball. Castle also has written or co-written five children’s books focused on teams’ histories. Growing up in the cheap seats at Chicago’s Wrigley Field, old Comiskey Park and Chicago Stadium, Castle eventually switched to the press box for a nearly-four decade career chronicling baseball, hockey and basketball. The NFL was his fourth sport, but he expertly timed his Bears credential s season – for the 1985 Super Bowl XX run. He covered the 2005 White Sox-Astros World Series and the 2010 and 2013 Stanley Cup Finals won by the Blackhawks. Castle’s worked for newspapers, magazines and online sites. From 1994 to 2010, he hosted and produced Diamond Gems, a weekly syndicated baseball radio program. And he has served as historian for the Chicago Baseball Museum. Throughout his sports journalism decades, Castle has forged positive relationships with Hall of Famers and star athletes, attributes that helped him craft his books and particularly were a benefit in assembling “Champions.” He also has taught writing and editing for three colleges in the Chicago area. Castle lives in Chicago’s northern suburbs with his wife, Nina, their Australian shepherd, Patches, and 25-year-old African Grey parrot, Casey. Their daughter, Laura, acquired her love of baseball from the old man.

John Schenk’s entrepreneurial journey began at age 9 and propelled him from purchasing and selling autographed sports memorabilia to becoming the youngest sports agent in the country by age 16. Schenk business achievements were recognized by the Missouri House of Representatives in 2008 when he was presented the Glory of Missouri Award for exemplifying the virtue of Enterprise. Since then, he has started and acquired several holding and operating companies including John Schenk & Associates, LLC. As owner and president, he likes to think “outside the box,” bringing new and innovative ideas to the table. He offers clients more than a decade of consulting, marketing, publishing and booking services while sharing his sports and entertainment management knowledge and expertise. Schenk’s experiences, coupled with his belief in building a strong foundation by developing personal and positive relationships, have allowed him to partner with and earn the trust and respect of professional athletes, musicians, producers, songwriters and event organizers. An avid Cardinals baseball fan, Schenk also enjoys traveling and experiencing new cultures along with different foods and coffees. Schenk’s desire to serve the less fortunate was recognized when he was presented with the 2012 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Model of Justice Award for his continued charitable involvement. To this day, he is involved in an array of charitable causes centered mostly around organ donations, mental health awareness, ALS research, and police and military organizations. Schenk currently resides in Dallas, Texas.


An Interview with George Castle and John Schenk

What inspired you to write “Champions?”
George: I had covered so many injured athletes in my long sports journalism career that I wondered how they mentally handled being idle and rehabbing at the same time. I also heard of off-the-field illnesses and diseases with which they dealt. So when the opportunity presented itself, I put the concepts of how people, whose fame and fortune do not shield them from human frailties, handle personal and professional setbacks.

John: Over the past several years, I’ve had the privilege of meeting and working with a variety of professional athletes. During my interactions with these athletes, one thing that stood out to me was the significant life challenges they’ve overcome, both on and off the field. I’ve seen firsthand how these athletes, sharing their personal and powerful stories of despair and triumph, have inspired and motivated others to get back on the field, both literally and figuratively. These stories moved me to write and publish this book so that I could pass these life-affirming stories on to people who are struggling, and to provide role models to look to when they are facing some of life’s biggest challenges.

How did you choose the athletes featured in “Champions?”
George: I had long-standing relationships with many of the baseball personalities I profiled, making it easier for them to open up about their issues. For those in other sports, I heard about their challenges and believed they’d make compelling reading. I appreciated their candor.

John: All the athletes have stories that personally inspired and encouraged me. Due to my personal relationship with many of the profilees, they really showed an uncommon level of vulnerability while sharing their stories. I also spent a good amount of time researching and contacting many of the other athletes that had stories of hurt, despair, and healing, as their stories also played an integral part in making this book happen.

Do you have to know anything about sports to read “Champions?”
George: It helps only from the standpoint of knowing the basic structure and rules of the respective sports. However, the comeback stories can be understood by non-sports fans. Again, the angle that celebrityhood as such does not shield you from issues is universal.

John: All the narratives in this book recount true stories of hardship, and they all share one thing in common – none of these comebacks could have been possible without the help of others. These extraordinary champions are ordinary people. So the reader doesn’t have to worry if these athletes aren’t from their favorite sport or team; they all have a lesson to teach in the greatest sport of all – life.

What sort of off-the-field challenges do the athletes and coaches featured in “Champions” talk about?
George: Debilitating injuries and illnesses lead the way. But there is also personal tragedy as several profilees talk about the deaths of their children. Nothing can replace those losses, yet some lessons are to be learned that life simply cannot stop for the survivors.

John: These athletes came back from insurmountable challenges and tragedies – life-threatening illness, death of a loved one, suicidal thoughts, mental health issues, sexual abuse, injuries, job loss, and more.

Who’s story were you most surprised by?
George: Victoria Arlen. Victoria made an amazing comeback from being in a coma-like state and then being confined to a wheelchair amid a slow recovery. She ended up on “Dancing with the Stars” – most people have two left feet and could not do that. Even more amazing was amid media politics thicker than politics itself, Victoria was hired at 21 as the youngest on-air personality ever at ESPN.

John: Rich Hill. From making a successful Chicago Cubs debut in 2007 to his present jackpot status on the Dodgers, which allowed him to be in the starting rotation in the 2017 World Series games, he faced endless physical injuries and emotional fallbacks. As an example, Hill showed extraordinary patience and perseverance as he dealt with the pressure of playing for six big-league teams, while also logging minor-league time in two other big-league organizations, and even a few weeks in 2015 on an independent team on Long Island. It certainly did not help when Hill had to deal with the reality of his injuries catching up to him, which ultimately required Tommy John and labrum surgery in order for him to still stand a chance of performing at the big league level. Perhaps one of the most remarkable aspects of Hill’s story was dealing with the death of his second son, who was just short of 3 months old, and the ways he was present to love, support, and guide his grieving family through that terrible tragedy.


237 Old Hickory Blvd., Suite 201, Nashville, TN 37221
Ellen Whitfield
(616) 258-5537

Jane Mersky Leder challenges teens to break the cycle of suicide in Dead Serious


dead-serious-coverEVANSTON, Illinois – Acclaimed author Jane Mersky Leder released one of the first books written specifically for young adults addressing teen suicide and depression, and now, roughly 30 years later, as suicide rates skyrocket, her book is needed more than ever. Leder’s completely revised and updated second edition – with new chapters on bullying, LGBTQ teens and suicide prevention programs – will be released Jan. 23, 2018. The second edition reflects today’s cultural, technological and social landscape in a world that is constantly changing.

When the first edition of Dead Serious was published in 1987, there was no Internet, and social media wasn’t even a blip on the radar. There was little discussion about the challenges faced by LGBTQ teens, and gender identity was not generally part of the national conversation. Further, schools rarely offered suicide prevention programs to educate students. But since then, the world has changed dramatically, which called for an updated book.

“In 2015, a new study by the National Center for Health Statistics reported that the suicide rate among girls between the ages of 15 and 19 reached a 40-year high,” Leder says. “Between 2007 and 2015, the suicide rate for those girls doubled. For young males, there was a 31 percent increase.”

Leder has a personal stake in helping teens break the silence and tackle the unrelenting stigma of suicide. Her brother took his own life on his 30th birthday, sending her on a journey that continues today. Dead Serious gives voice to teens who bravely and articulately share their experiences with depression and suicide, while top experts from around the country provide adept commentary on these issues. While Leder wrote the book with teen readers in mind, it also doubles as a valuable resource for parents and educators.

Jane Mersky Leder is an award-winning author and journalist. Her other books include Brothers & Sisters: How They Shape Our Lives, The Sibling Connection and Thanks For The Memories: Love, Sex and World War II. Her feature articles have appeared in numerous publications, including Psychology Today, Woman’s Day, the Chicago Sun-Times and American Heritage. The newest edition of Dead Serious will be released on Jan. 23, 2018.






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