Monday, May 13, 2019

Q&A with Rachel Marie Martin, author of The Brave Art of Motherhood

“One November day, I stood at my bedroom window watching as a sharp wind stripped the remaining leaves from the trees. Seeing those limbs laid bare, I felt similarly exposed. I realized I’d been lost in my own life, waiting for something to change. But I couldn’t wait any longer.
So I started fighting. Reclaiming the lifeless spaces, unearthing joy in motherhood, and finding hope and purpose. No longer did I hide behind the words “When the kids are grown, I will. . . ”
I changed one thing: my mind.
Now my kids are happier than they have ever been. And so am I.”

From The Brave Art of Motherhood by Rachel Marie Martin

Rachel Marie Martin believes in the power of the human spirit to overcome, to thrive and to find deep joy and because of that she pours out her heart via these platforms: she is the writer behind the site, partner of, co-host of the Amplify Podcast, and a featured writer for The Huffington Post. Her top blog post, “Why Being a Mom is Enough” has surpassed 1.9 million Facebook likes and she has had her articles translated into over 25 languages. Her site reaches millions of visitors and has a robust, engaged Facebook community. Her articles have been featured in The Huffington Post, iVillage, The Today Show, Star Tribune, iVillage, Stuff New Zealand, PopSugar, Parents, What to Expect, Mamalode, NBC Parents, Dr. Greene, and many more. Her first book, “The Brave Art of Motherhood”, published by Penguin Random House, was released on October 9, 2018. She speaks worldwide about a variety of empowering topics ranging from motherhood to social media marketing to website strategy to writing to creating an authentic community. She believes in living each day intentionally and loves working with others to cultivate a vision, realize their potential and see their dreams become a reality.

Full-time blogger, speaker, marketer, podcaster, and single mom of seven, Rachel Marie Martin presents a wake-up call to those of us who have found ourselves stuck in the ‘I’m just a mom’ phase of life. 

Yes, this book is about motherhood . . . but really, this book is about finding yourself again and following your passion WHILE being a mom. Inspired by her incredible story, Rachel’s words always come straight from the gut; they are visceral, real and soul searching. She challenges you to
find the courage to break cycles, to take off masks and not let fear take control. This book is a balance of tough, “no excuses” ways of approaching life, while allowing breathing room and grace for yourself, for as we all know, life and mothering are not perfect.

After inspiring and conversing with thousands of women, Rachel has surmised there is always a reason to hope, to move forward and a reason to dare doing what you thought was impossible. (Yes, including what you are skeptical of accomplishing right now). She encourages you to say yes to your dreams and stop waiting for “someday” or “one day” or “when something happens”.

Prepare to change the way you think about yourself and your life. This will be a book you read over and over armed with a highlighter in one hand and a journal for introspection in another.


Your new book, The Brave Art of Motherhood, would be perfect for Mother’s Day. Can you tell us how you came up with the idea to write this book?
I’ve been writing my website Finding Joy for over ten years and one of the most common questions I would receive was regarding if I had a book. My readers had seen me go through tremendous life challenges – divorce, dealing with finances, starting a successful business – and wanted to learn the steps to finding joy, happiness and purpose again. At a certain point you either look at opportunity and run after it or you ignore it. Clearly, I chose to follow opportunity and from that The Brave Art of Motherhood was born.

 Can you tell us a little about your family?
 I’m the single mom to seven amazing kids aged nine to almost twenty-three. You can figure the math, but there were many many years where I lived with a child under five in my home. Those years of busy taught me a great deal about patience, goals and grace. Now my oldest two live in Seattle, I have a son who attends school in Minneapolis and the other four attend school here in Nashville. It’s a busy life, indeed, but I’ve grown accustomed to this story and love the adventures my children bring.

What do you believe was the hardest part of raising seven children?
Truthfully, the noise. By nature, I like things chill and quiet, and having seven is the antithesis of that. At my house in Minnesota I would often establish the main floor as the “quiet level” just to help that part of me out. But, beyond that, it’s probably also the amount of food those kids can eat – especially once they hit their teenage years.

 What would you say to single women having to raise their children alone?
That you are strong, even if you are tired of being strong, and that I want you to reclaim your strength. I know that there are times when you just want a break, or a breath, and part of being strong is deciding to cultivate that in your own life. Don’t listen to the critics or the statistics, but instead fight for your family, show up the best you can and love fiercely. Your love, even in the moments when it feels like it doesn’t matter and doesn’t measure up, is truly a life giving gift.

 Can you tell us more about
 I started Finding Joy just over ten years ago. It was originally a place for me to get that quiet, that chill, and to think about (and share life). As the site began to grow it moved from being a hobby to now a full time career. We have reached over 40 million people and our Facebook page is a vibrant community of women who live wth deep authenticity, purpose and joy.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

#BlogTour Interview with Kevin C. Alston, Author of The 'Real' American Diet

Born & raised in the small town of Mullins, SC, by God-fearing parents who instilled religion into his life at an early age, he's had an insatiable appetite for knowledge since birth. God blessed him with a keen, analytical mind, & an almost feverish desire to help others. He is a U.S. Air Force veteran, married to the love of his life, with five wonderful kids, & a deep passion that still burns within him to help the less fortunate, through whatever means necessary.  The correlation between what we eat & the epidemic-like rise in diseases of today has the author on an impassioned mission to get to the bottom of what he thinks is a big conspiracy by our government & Big Business.

His latest book is The ‘Real’ American Diet.

About the Book:

This book is a culmination of the author's life, but mainly the past 10 years, where personal tragedies have led him to discover more about the correlation with food, nutrition & the diseases of today, &  
how it affects us all.

This program is an experiment of sorts, with the author using himself as the guinea pig, with positive results having been discovered, & hopefully, in time, even bigger positive results yet to come. 

Between our government & Big Business, we, the people, are already involved in an experiment.  It's like a big laboratory.  With all of the harmful toxins that are allowed in our air, food, &  water, diseases are at epidemic-like levels, & the author, for one, would like to know if there is more to this than is being told to us. It speaks volumes when other nations refuse to accept grains & meats from us, or at least it does to the author. 

Most of the ailments we suffer from today emanate from our guts, & our poor diets keep the sickness-wheels turning, costing each of us millions of dollars, a whole lot of heartache, pain, & suffering.  It's time to make a change, & that change started with the author's experiment on himself.



Would you say it’s been a rocky road for you in regards to getting your book written and published or pretty much smooth sailing?  Can you tell us about your journey?
Getting my book published was probably the easy part, albeit a little expensive, but getting that book out to the mainstream public has been the hardest part, for me. Like I reference in my book, I give God all the credit for creating this book. So, instead of forking out a lot more money to market the book, I decided to be patient, & allow God to connect me with the 'right' vehicle for getting the marketing done. I believe he has done just that. From the time that I ultimately decided that I was going to go ahead & do this, I knew that this was going to be quite a journey, mainly because I had no clue as to how to do all of it, from writing it, to getting it published, to marketing it. I've been practicing what I preach because I used myself as the guinea pig, per se. It's been almost 5 years that I have now been getting 'Real' with my diet, & I can honestly say that I don't skip a day in not doing it. The 'it' I refer to is the ritual. That's what I call it. The routine. I routinely do the very same routine every day, & I honestly believe that it is a major reason why I'm as healthy as I am today. No high blood pressure, no high cholesterol, no issues at all to speak of, & I'm 56 years young! My wife has even started to emulate my routine, somewhat. She isn't doing it exactly, but she is definitely following my lead. 

If you were to pen your own autobiography, what might the title be?
My autobiography would be titled,  Analytical Musings in a Lab Rat Society

When not writing, what do you like to do for relaxation and/or fun?
 When I'm not writing, I love to bowl. I love to watch all sports. I'm too old to participate in most, but I'm a sports enthusiast, to the max
What makes your book stand out from the rest?
What makes my book stand apart from the rest is that it is all natural, & very sustainable. No special potions, & it is to be 'lived' ( done daily as any other routine ). The process of cleaning your body out won't happen overnight, but it will happen, if you put your mind to it. And sustaining it means that it won't cost you an arm-an-a-leg to continue doing it. The thing is about a lot of your diets today, you've got to continuously purchase the special meals, or potions, or other elixirs, & a lot of folks nowadays just don't have the extra cash to keep up. With my diet, you purchase the knowledge, which costs less than $10 per month to continuously utilize. So there is a big difference, when you get down to the nuts-n-bolts of it. And I'm living proof that it works.

Can you give us the very first page of your book so that we can get a glimpse inside?

Genesis 1:29 And God said, Behold, I have
given you every herb bearing seed, which [is]
upon the face of all the earth, and every tree,
in the which [is] the fruit of a tree yielding seed;
to you it shall be for meat.

IF YOU’VE BEEN dieting forever with very mixed
results, then you’ve finally come to the right place. These
lifestyle changes that I am recommending will be like no
diet that you have ever attempted, so if you combine what
I’m about to teach you with the proven methods that Dr.
Joel Fuhrman teaches you in his books—Eat to Live is the
best one to start off with—you will be well on your way to
attaining your goal of losing the dreaded weight that you
have been desperately seeking to get rid of for so long.
I must admit to you that although this will not be easy,
mainly because there are habits that first must be broken,
it is obtainable if you’ve got a little willpower. If you give it
your all, you will achieve what you’ve been seeking. And in
the end, you will be glad that you did because you will find
yourself living a healthier, major disease-reduced lifestyle
as well.

If your book was put in the holiday section of the store, what holiday would that be and why? 

If my book was put in the holiday section of the store, I believe that Easter would be the appropriate spot. Jesus died on the cross for all of us. That was the ultimate sacrifice. Sacrifice a moment of your time to check out what I've come up with to combat all diseases, & you just may be pleasantly surprised by my analytics. I wrote it to help everyone. My sacrifice for my people. Besides, I reference the bible throughout my book.

Would you consider turning your book into a series or has that already been done?
I would consider it. I've even thought about it. So yes. That would be great if at all possible.
When you were young, did you ever see writing as a career or full-time profession?
The guy who played all sports, & played them well. No. I definitely didn't see writing as a career. But I was always good in English class. I have pretty good penmanship as well, so, I wouldn't say that I  didn't consider it in some form or fashion as a teenager.

Did any of your books get rejected by publishers?
No, my books haven't been rejected. This is my first, & there's quite a buzz going on about it.
What is your view on co-authoring books; have you done any?
I have never co-authored a book, but a friend of mine has, so, I wouldn't say that I wouldn't ever do it. I would probably be flattered more than anything.
What’s next for you?
I have 3 more years to retire from Chrysler, so you never know. I definitely want to get a business up-and-going that I don't personally have to run, but that will benefit my family & I during our retirement years. A supplement.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Interview with 'Josephine Baker's Last Dance' Sherry Jones

Author and journalist Sherry Jones is best known for her international bestseller The Jewel of Medina. She is also the author of The Sword of MedinaFour SistersAll QueensThe Sharp Hook of Love, and the novella White Heart.  Sherry lives in Spokane, WA, where, like Josephine Baker, she enjoys dancing, singing, eating, advocating for equality, and drinking champagne.
Her latest novel is Josephine Baker’s Last Dance.

 Book Blurb:

From the author of The Jewel of Medina, a moving and insightful novel based on the life of legendary performer and activist Josephine Baker, perfect for fans of The Paris Wife and Hidden Figures.

Discover the fascinating and singular life story of Josephine Baker—actress, singer, dancer, Civil Rights activist, member of the French Resistance during WWII, and a woman dedicated to erasing prejudice and creating a more equitable world—in Josephine Baker’s Last Dance.

In this illuminating biographical novel, Sherry Jones brings to life Josephine’s early years in servitude and poverty in America, her rise to fame as a showgirl in her famous banana skirt, her activism against discrimination, and her many loves and losses. From 1920s Paris to 1960s Washington, to her final, triumphant performance, one of the most extraordinary lives of the twentieth century comes to stunning life on the page.

With intimate prose and comprehensive research, Sherry Jones brings this remarkable and compelling public figure into focus for the first time in a joyous celebration of a life lived in technicolor, a powerful woman who continues to inspire today.

Purchase Josephine Baker’s Last Dance in paperback,  ebook,  and  audiobook  formats on  Simon and Schuster’s website (available on Amazon,  Barnes and Noble,  BooksAMillion,  Indiebound,  Kobo,  and  other sites). Learn more about Sherry’s books  at

Thanks for this interview, Sherry. Congratulations on your new book! Would you say it’s been a rocky road for you in regards to getting your book written and published or pretty much smooth sailing?  Can you tell us about your journey?

I had a contract with Simon and Schuster/Gallery Books before I started writing JOSEPHINE BAKER’S LAST DANCE, so that part was smooth sailing. Writing the novel was challenging, though. Writing about her life from her childhood (she was born in 1906) into the 1960s, when she spoke at the March on Washington with Dr. Martin Luther King., Jr., meant I needed to become an expert on six decades of European and American history and culture, not to mention Josephine Baker’s life story, which she herself revised a number of times. And structuring the book as I did, following the structure of her last performance to tell her story in music, dance, costumes, and art, resulted in my rewriting the book several times in effort to figure out how to do this just right. Fortunately, my editor, Kate Dresser, and my literary agent, Natasha Kern, were enthusiastic and supportive about how I wanted to tell Josephine’s story, and provided me with great feedback. Kate’s help was so critical to the book’s success that I dedicated it to her!  

If you were to pen your autobiography, what might the title be?

I’m working on one called I’VE HAD A STRING OF MEN. But I’m envisioning a series of books, because it seems that my life has been far more eventful and interesting than Karl Ove Knausgaard’s, for instance.

When not writing, what do you like to do for relaxation and/or fun?

I love to read, play classical music on my piano, socialize with friends and my fiancé, Tom; eat and drink wine, and travel.

What makes your book stand out from the rest?
Josephine Baker! Hello! Not only is she one of the most iconic figures of the 20th century—everyone knows her as the topless African-American dancer in the banana skirt—but she had an amazing life offstage that few know about. She fought racism covertly and overtly throughout her life, not only striving to prove that black women could do anything white women could—and do it better—but working as a World War II spy against the Nazis, risking her life, and using her fame to speak out against racial segregation in the United States. Ms. Baker was one of the very first civil rights activists in America, and she succeeded in getting many nightclubs, theaters, restaurants, and hotels to integrate for the first time. She raised so much hell that, when she left the country, the FBI told her not to come back.

Can you give us the very first page of your book so that we can get a glimpse inside? (Just the first page please)

Sleep? How can she sleep when there’s so much living to do?
She’s never needed much rest but it eludes her now and no
wonder, her name in lights in Paris again, the first time in
years, big stars filling the front rows night after glorious night,
the critics raving like she’s pulling off some kind of miracle,
like she rallied herself from the grave to sing and dance her
life’s story across the stage. But she’s just sixty-eight, not dead
yet! She only looks it right now, running on fumes and just a
lick of sleep after what might be the greatest performance of
her life. How will she top it tonight? Never mind: Josephine
Baker always finds a way.

“I heard you come in at five this morning.” Lélia, her maid,
stands behind her in the bathroom and pins Josephine’s wig to
the scant sprigs poking out from her scalp. Dear Lord, look at
her in the mirror, the feed sacks under her eyes, she looks like
a Saint Bernard. “Are you trying to kill yourself?”

 “By dancing all night with Mick Jagger? I can think of worse
ways to die.” She has never had a wilder premiere, nor one
as star-studded: Sophia Loren, Alain Delon, Princess Grace,
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Diana Ross, Carlo Ponti, and,
of course, Mick. The standing ovation lasted fifteen minutes.
She’d thought it would never end, her legs quivered like jelly
as she’d staggered to her dressing room to collapse. Afterward,
the reception in the Bristol Hotel with the cake like a tower
to celebrate her fifty years on the Paris stage, the 50 on its top
making her cringe, it would only remind Mick of her age. But
the gleam in his eyes hadn’t faltered for an instant, he’d made
her feel like sweet cream in her silk Nina Ricci dress, and he
the tiger licking its chops.

If your book was put in the holiday section of the store, what holiday would that be and why?

It would appear under “Black History Month,” because, although she was an entertainer until the day she died, Josephine Baker’s entire life was about race and eradicating racism.

Would you consider turning your book into a series or has that already been done?
All my novels comprise a series about “Kick-Ass Women in History.” A’isha, wife to the Muslim Prophet Muhammad who became a great political adviser, warrior, and “mother of the believers”; the four sisters from Provence who became influential queens of France, England, Germany, and Italy; Blanche de Castile, the formidable “white queen” of France; Heloise, the scholar who loved Abelard: these women prevailed against incredible odds (stacked against them because of their gender) to reach their highest potential and make a difference in the world. Josephine Baker holds a prominent, rightful place among them.

When you were young, did you ever see writing as a career or full-time profession?

I’ve wanted to write books pretty much since I learned to read them, when I was 4. My second-grade reading teacher made the dream real for me by asking me, in front of my entire class, to keep my given name if I ever became a published author, so she would know it was me. (I did.)

Did any of your books get rejected by publishers?

My first novel, THE JEWEL OF MEDINA, got rejected by Random House/Ballantine Books after they accepted it. When they’d sent it to a history professor for an endorsement, she flipped out! “A national security issue,” she called my book in an email. “More dangerous than the Satanic Verses or the Danish cartoons.” Random House executives dropped the book like a hot potato, and no other mainstream publisher in America would touch it. A British publisher planned to bring it, but his London home office got firebombed and that put an end to that. Ultimately, though, THE JEWEL OF MEDINA came out in 19 languages, was a Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award finalist, and a best-seller in seven countries. It found a home with a tiny U.S. publisher. Today, it’s available today via ebook or by writing to me—I have print copies at home and am happy to share them.

What is your view on co-authoring books; have you done any?

My wasband and I co-wrote THE HIKER’S GUIDE TO MONTANA’S CONTINENTAL DIVIDE TRAIL in 1990 and nearly divorced over it.

What’s next for you?

I’m working on a proposal for Gallery now about an amazing woman in history who presented as male. His story is so inspiring and, like all my books, offers important lessons for our times. This matters to me because, like my heroines, I live to make a positive difference in the world.

Monday, March 25, 2019

{Author Interview} Larry Spencer, Author of Material Things

LARRY SPENCER published his first novel, The Tipping Point Of Oliver Bass in the summer of 2017. A story that covered the life of a pathologically arrogant, wealthy young man who sets off on a journey of self-discovery, family tragedy, and sexual conquest in a modern California noir backdrop.   Spencer has been a Writer’s Guild of America member since the late 70s, having written and produced a multitude of highly successful TV shows, which culminated into writing several feature films. He was then encouraged to pen his second book, Material Things, a story based on true events that takes place in the 60s &70s and tackles organized crime, drugs and embezzlement during a time when bellbottom pants ruled the fashion scene.  He lives in Valley Village, California.

Visit his website at

About the Book:

Author: Larry Spencer
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 367
Genre: Fiction

Larry Spencer’s riveting, interlocking narratives circle the lives of Matthew Street, Jon Lewis and Christopher Styles, in a 1970s California backdrop that takes them from owning and operating a fashionable clothing boutique into the gripping world of an FBI under cover operation, drug trafficking, prostitution and a nefarious criminal element, that brings to light a Mafia contract killer, who’s out to bump off a stoolie in their midst. 
Material Things is based on true events surrounding the store that introduced bellbottom jeans to a hip Southern California crowd and how it became, not only a cottage industry but also an arena fraught with danger and moral strife that put the store and it’s owners under close scrutiny after an alarming number of felonious activities surface.

The climax is anything but conventional as Matthew, Jon and Christopher are confronted with a life threatening reality that they never imagined could happen just by selling bellbottom pants.




Thanks for this interview, Larry, and congratulations on your new book! Would you say it’s been a rocky road for you in regards to getting your book written and published or pretty much smooth sailing?  Can you tell us about your journey?

Here’s the thing. I love to write. I write everyday. I’ve never had writer’s block. I’ve always had something say, but not all of it is superb. A lot is crap but I keep going. Smooth sailing? No. The hardest part for me is marketing this book. I know nothing. I still know nothing. I need help in this area. I love the process. I hate the results if I’m going to fail. 

If you were to pen your own autobiography, what might the title be?

Larry Spencer’s journey from TV to Film to Novels—in just over 30 years.

When not writing, what do you like to do for relaxation and/or fun?

Watch a lot of movies and good TV on Netflix, HBO, and Showtime. I’m hooked on shows like Sneaky Pete, Bosch, Goliath, True Detective. Look, I spent over twenty years writing bad TV. Except for Taxi. That show was prolific and had strong characters.  I avoid most network shows altogether. I’m an early riser. After breakfast I walk my Golden retriever.

What makes your book stand out from the rest?

For one the cover I must say is outstanding. It should draw people. I think it has great nostalgic value. It’s relatable in so many ways to everyone or anyone who was in love with the 60s/70s. It has charm, mystery, loveable and hateful characters. And a compelling twist ending that’ll make the hairs on the back of neck stand up. An adrenaline rush. Pretty sure Jack Kerouac would’ve loved this book.  

Can you give us the very first page of your book so that we can get a glimpse inside?


NOVEMBER 10, 2016
7:30 a.m. Valencia, California. A neighbor calls 911 and reports what might have been the sound of a gunshot ringing out from the house next door. Police arrive at the home of Logan Alexander, sixty-nine, and discover a body sprawled in a pool of blood on the floor of the garage. In the victim’s grip is a .357 Magnum revolver.
It's one horrific sight. First responders ID the body as the homeowner, wearing nothing but his boxer briefs and a sweat-stained Grateful Dead T-shirt. A fitting item of clothing in keeping with this unfortunate tragedy. He is noticeably thin and scrawny, almost anorexic, as if he hasn’t eaten in months. It’s reported that the victim is DOA with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. It appears to be an apparent suicide, but they're not ruling out foul play. The only witnesses to this horrible scene were his lawn mower and 2012 Toyota Camry, its engine still idling as if to say, I saw it go down.

If your book was put in the holiday section of the store, what holiday would that be and why?

Christmas. Because it’s a retro/inspirational gift.

Would you consider turning your book into a series or has that already been done?

I assume you’re talking about a literary series. This story doesn’t fit that bill. But the book has been considered for a movie.

When you were young, did you ever see writing as a career or full-time profession?

No. I have a degree in animation. Wanted to be a cartoonist. A real disappointment when I walked away from a career I wanted my whole life and pursued a career in TV.  But it was worth it.

Did any of your books get rejected by publishers?

Yes. Think Penguin turned me down. Or never got back to me.

What is your view on co-authoring books; have you done any?

I have to write alone. Or at least allow me to write the first draft alone. I wrote my films with a partner and it was disastrous.  We no longer speak.

What’s next for you?

Lunch. Then possibly return to my first book The Tipping Point Of Oliver Bass and pick up where it left off. I can’t tell you where I left off because that would giveaway startling  the  ending.

{Author Interview} Mike Martin, Author of 'Sgt. Windflower Mysteries'

Mike Martin was born in Newfoundland on the East Coast of Canada and now lives and works in Ottawa, Ontario. He is a long-time freelance writer and his articles and essays have appeared in newspapers, magazines and online across Canada as well as in the United States and New Zealand. He is the author of Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People and has written a number of short stories that have published in various publications including Canadian Stories and Downhome magazine.

The Walker on the Cape was his first full fiction book and the premiere of the Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series. Other books in the series include The Body on the T, Beneath the Surface, A Twist of Fortune and A Long Ways from Home, which was shortlisted for the Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award as the best light mystery of the year. A Tangled Web was released in 2017 and the newest book in the series is Darkest Before the Dawn.

Twitter: @mike54martin

What is your name?

Mike Martin

What do you look like?

I am tall, dark and handsome. In my dreams. In real life, I am in my sixties still trying to grow while learning to age gracefully. That means limiting my complaining.

Where are you today and what are you doing?

I am in the country surrounded by trees and softly falling snow. There’s a warm fire in the other room and a cold, cold wind blowing outside my window.

Describe the outside of your home.

There are few things stirring outside toady, except for the tall pine, ash, maple and walnut trees that are swaying a little in the wind. The birds are huddled up within the cedar hedges for warmth and even the deer and foxes who occasionally visit have stayed home today.

You come face to face with your worse enemy. How do you react?

I run. I’m no hero. But I am still a fast runner.

You keep a photo album of memories from your lifetime. If you could only keep one photo, which one would that be?

It would be a picture of my granddaughter, Sophie.

Are you a morning person or a night owl?

I’m an early bird. I write best and most often in the morning. After coffee, of course.

A police officer stops you for a minor violation. What violation is that and how do you react?

Speeding. I take my medicine with a sigh.

Open your wallet, purse, or briefcase. What do you find?

I have a membership card from the Newfoundland Writers Guild. That’s the first writing group I ever joined.

How do you feel about mortality?

We are born to die. But we pretend, forget and hope that it won’t happen. I am grateful to have had a full life. I don’t know the exact details, but I know how this story ends.

What scares you?

Being in a coma or vegetative state.

What’s the last thing you do before you go to bed at night?

I review my day and give thanks.

Who is your best friend?

Joan, my partner in life and love. We row well together.

Who is your worse enemy?


Are you faith-oriented?

No. But I am spiritual

Do you have children?

I have a boy, Jonathan and a daughter Sarah. They are adults but still my babies.

You are at the zoo. What is your favorite animal?

I love most animals. But could watch the monkey and apes all day. They might well be more human than most people I know.

You just woke up to find that war has been declared. What’s the first thing you would do?

Pray, And march for peace.

If there was one thing you could change about yourself, what would that be?

I would like to have discovered what was really important earlier, instead of chasing fame and fortune, I would have focused on love and serenity.


The Sgt. Windflower Mysteries are a light mystery series set in Newfoundland on the east coast of Canada. These cozy-like books follow the adventures of Sgt. Winston Windflower, a Cree from Northern Alberta as he finds a new life and new loves in the tiny village of Grand Bank. There are crimes and mysteries for the Canadian Mountie to investigate and solve but the Sgt. Windflower Mysteries are more about family, friends, good food and good times.

The recurring cast of characters include the love of his life, Sheila Hillier who keeps him well-fed and grounded in reality. There’s also his fellow Mounties like Corporal Eddie Tizzard and a long list of bad actors, both local and just visiting, to cause havoc in their sleepy little town. Windflower brings his native background and traditions with him and finds ways to use them to help himself and his friends through difficult times. Rounding out his life are his collie, Lady, who often has adventures of her own and some new additions to his family that appear in the latest book, Darkest Before the Dawn.



Thursday, March 21, 2019

Love and the Mystery of Betrayal by Sandra Lee Dennis

LOVE AND THE MYSTERY OF BETRAYAL by Sandra Lee Dennis, Relationships/Spiritual/Self-Help, 290 pp., $19.95 (paperback) $9.99 (Kindle)

Betrayal of love inflicts a unique, unprecedented pain you can only comprehend once you have experienced it. If you are suffering from an intimate betrayal, you know. Betrayal is stunning. It is mind-boggling. You feel paralyzed, mystified, enraged, panicked, bewildered; but, mostly, you hurt. Betrayal is a make-or-break event that marks a cataclysmic divide in your life. It changes you. When you believe in someone so completely and then realize they have been deceiving you about their love and loyalty, the worst thing happens: Your faith in yourself crumbles. The shock lifts a veil from your eyes, and you can never see yourself or the world in the same way again.



In the messiness and ignorance of our humanity we struggle to cope with the demands of being human. We all make mistakes, especially in our closest relationships. Everyone can recall times of disappointment with friends, companions, family members, advisors, teachers, or coworkers when we have felt betrayed or betrayed others or ourselves. We gain self-knowledge and learn to apologize and to forgive as we work through the many ways we let each other down. There are minor, everyday betrayals, and then there are the life-exploding disclosures that I explore in this book, the ones that break your heart, fracture your world, and threaten to destroy your soul. I specifically address betrayal in love—a shattering of trust by the one you have been most
intimate with and relied on to protect you from harm.

If you are suffering from an intimate betrayal, you know. Betrayal is stun-ning. It is mind-boggling. It traumatizes you and upends your life. Mostly, it hurts. Betrayal inflicts a unique, unprecedented pain you can only compre-hend once you have experienced it. Interpersonal trauma changes you. It lifts a veil from your eyes, and you can never see the world in the same way again. Yet we live in a culture that is blind to both the depth of wounding and the heart-expanding potential of such a blow.

Before your trust was shattered, you lived shielded from the indescribable pain you feel now that the veil has lifted. Such havoc betrayal wreaks, the multilayered torments of body, mind, and soul are so extreme that it can feel like nothing less than torture. No wonder we tend to turn away, minimize, and bury the hurt. If you are like me, you also do not want anyone to know what is happening to you. It is humiliating and maddening to be in pain, obsessing about someone that has left, deceived, or cheated on you. You can begin to feel like a character in One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Friends and family tend to look the other way, too. No one likes to see a person so out of control of their destiny.

I know because I had the veil lifted from my eyes, in a familiar way known to many. The man I loved left me. With virtually no warning, my partner of six years walked out a few weeks before a big wedding we had planned. When he went from “I’ll love you forever” one day to “I’m finished with you” the next, it stopped my world. His wholly unanticipated exit from our home and my life led me to suffer more than I believed was humanly possible. At the same time, the distress awakened depths of my heart that took my capacity to love into uncharted territory.

Meanwhile, friends and family advised me to get over it and move on as quickly as possible. They were right, I reasoned, I would move on…I tried, but it was not to be. Once the initial shock lessened, I began to grasp that my trust in life had disappeared. My entire world had suddenly turned hostile, or so it seemed, because of the faithlessness of one person—albeit one very central person, the one I had counted most in the world to be there and care for me. His abrupt about-face marked a cataclysmic divide in my life.

Prior to the moment he walked out, I had considered myself a together, self-aware person. After he left, I was more like a delusional broken heap. I put on a self-assured face, but wandered around like a Swiss cheese, shot full of holes, bewildered, with a secret, stabbing pain in my heart. I vacil-lated between rage, panic, and bouts of grief. Often I could not stop crying. Falling apart was to be expected—“everybody has been there”—after a tough breakup. But the problem was, as time went on, my condition got worse, not better. Instead of a few weeks or months, it went on for years.

I could not comprehend why I had gone from competent professional to terrified, whimpering child, unable to do much of anything, let alone “move on.” It was only later that I realized this was no ordinary breakup. Eventually, I realized how deeply I had been traumatized, and that the nightmare of post-traumatic stress had set in.

Mine is not an obvious or sensational horror story of betrayal and abuse. I was not hit, or cheated on, raped or stolen from, yelled at, or bullied into submission, not even abandoned dramatically at the altar. I wrote this book to help show how relational trauma these days is often not obvious. Many of us have become too educated, smooth, or sophisticated for such overt aggres-sion. The damage to my trust and the erosion of the quality of my life came from mind-bending subtleties, primarily half-truths concealed as exceptional honesty: from bouts of seduction and warmth laced with withholding and withdrawal; insincere profusions of praise, affection and loyalty, interspersed with blame and criticism; important omissions of personal history; sexual manipulation masked as the deepest love; systematic devaluation; and finally

a complete Jekyll-and-Hyde character reversal. Abandonment and replace-ment were only the final and most obvious blows to my sanity and stability.

Emotional abuse and mental cruelty can be more damaging than blatant physical abuse because, at least when someone beats you, or cheats on you, it is clearly their problem. When you have a dagger plunged into your heart while being held in a loving embrace, on the other hand, you do not know what hit you. When you are betrayed with charm and a smile, it is stunning and crazy making. If you have given the benefit of the doubt to and believed in your partner, it can take a long time to get the hook out and make sense of your world again. Meanwhile, you wonder if you are fit any longer for human company, or if you should have yourself committed for observation.

As I tried to make sense of what happened, my mind flooded with ques-tions. Perhaps the most painful was, “How could I not have seen this com-ing?” When you believe in someone so completely and then realize they have been deceiving you about their love and loyalty, the worst thing happens: Your faith in yourself crumbles. The instincts you relied on to perceive and under-stand your world have misled you, and you do not know how you will ever be able to trust yourself again. It alarmed me when I realized I had lost faith, not only in myself, but also in other people—and, most disturbingly, in life itself.

My heart goes out to you if you are in a similar situation. Perhaps what I share will help you sort through the bewilderment and confusion, regain trust in your own perceptions, and get through the worst. I had lived a lot of life and had a lot of psychological experience and inner resources when this ax fell. If anyone “should” have seen this coming and been prepared when it did, it was I. But I was not at all prepared.

To make it through this ordeal, I turned instinctively to my spiritual prac-tices: mindfulness meditation, inquiry, yoga. I coped by sitting for hours each day, breathing and watching the chaos, tracking sensations, thoughts, and feelings. I was astonished at how much I learned—more, I thought, in two years than I had in the ten previous. As a former college psychology professor, and a teacher at heart, passing on what I learn comes almost as second nature.

I did a lot of research in the effort to understand what I was going through. I read hundreds of books and talked to scores of people. I researched a wide range of subjects and touch on many here—trauma, posttraumatic stress, domestic violence, subtle-body experiences, attachment theory, projection and splitting, death and dying, faith and conscience, grief and forgiveness, Buddhist meditation and Christian contemplation and prayer. I found that prescriptions and advice abound on how to survive the loss of love, to heal from a broken heart, to endure a dark night of the soul, to put your life back

together, and to move on after being betrayed or abandoned. But for a long time, I found little that validated my extreme experiences.

Those around me, and even I, considered being abandoned by the person I intended to spend the rest of my life with an unfortunate, but minor event to be swept aside and forgotten, the sooner, the better. After all, people readily recover from far worse things. Conventional wisdom, I discovered, was way off with its clichéd treatment of heartbreak and betrayal as minor blips on the screen of life that you tend to for a while before moving on to better things.

The shame I felt about the depth and duration of the pain, along with the fact my friends, family, and even counselors did not understand, encour-aged my silence. The lingering effects on those of us who receive such a shock become a secret we do not want to share with anyone. We even want to hide the life-changing repercussions from ourselves. Amidst my struggle to recover, I recognized that many who had undergone similar experiences had simply shut down. For a time, I feared I would do the same. The continuing torment of having my heart torn out by someone I believed loved me deeply and to whom I had committed my love and life was just too much to bear.

When you hurt this much, instinctively you want to help make it less difficult for anyone else in pain. I never set out to write this book, but once it started pouring out of me, I felt how much I wanted to bring more light to the facts of what an experience like this actually does to a person. There was so much to learn about this underrated trauma—the “most difficult of all woundings,” as one author put it. I decided to base this book first on immer-sion into the lived experience, a type of phenomenological research. I believe this approach led to the emergence of a more nuanced perspective and a deeper understanding than a study based on analysis and theory alone could offer.

The orientation that guided me was to turn with curiosity toward the suf-fering, rather than stifling the pain or distracting myself. This approach will be familiar to many spiritual seekers and to those who have struggled to come to terms with great loss—the way out is through the darkness. What it takes to make this turn, to go from theory to practice in the midst of prolonged psychological pain, tells an unforeseen story for each of us.

Taken to heart this way, I found betrayal to be an initiation into an unknown self. The shock launches the betrayed on a “night sea journey,” that stage in spiritual growth known in mystical traditions as a dark night of the soul. In this mythological descent you are taken suddenly into deep waters and swallowed up by a sea dragon. Like Jonah, you are stripped bare and robbed of what is dearest to your heart. The metaphors of darkness and night apply because you do not know what is happening. You feel as if you must be dying

and you are. Some part of your old nature is being shorn away to make way for the new you cannot imagine, and over which you have no control.

Ultimately, we each have to find our own way in the dark, until we are thrown back onto land and the light of day. I share my truth, knowing no one can tell another what it takes to welcome this unwanted journey. It took me years to recover myself, and I fought it all the way, but I finally came to recog-nize that betrayal and trust form two poles of experience. Apparently, we can-not embrace one until we have drunk deeply of the other. Through destroying my trust, and taking me into more suffering than I had ever known, betrayal catalyzed a transformation inside that awakened qualities of faith, compas-sion, and love I barely imagined were possible.

During the long days and nights of blame and rage, of tears and star-ing off into space, beneath my awareness, strange mystic moments penetrated through the pain. These elusive flashes of truth, fleeting at first, but arrest-ing, planted seeds of renewed faith and trust in the ground of my own raw heart. With time, against all instinct, I learned to embrace the humiliation and heartbreak as the terrain I needed to pass through in order to deepen into secrets of a love my soul was hungry to taste.

Never before had I felt such intimate kinship with life around me. Never had my heart beaten in such rhythm with others in pain. Never had I sensed such a fervent need not to harm anyone else with my actions. Never had I felt the vast sadness I had carried in my bones my entire life. Never before had I sensed the touch of the “hands of light” comforting me, or the gentle power of the earth and sky supporting me, or the tender stirrings in my heart of what I could only call divine love flowing toward me.

All this took time, much more than I approved of. Meanwhile I thought the pain would never end. A turning point in my struggles came when I began to question the true source of my torments. One day, in one of those flashes, I intuited that the obvious villain—the person who had hurt me so griev-ously—had been but an instrument in the hands of an unseen destiny. I real-ized the peace I needed to make was not with my errant partner, but with my own heart, my fate, my God. The insight came and went, but the truth had touched my core.

While each story of love’s betrayal is unique, as are the individuals involved, betrayal is an archetypal experience. It is an event that we each carry in our collective memory, from the moment of being born into this world. Because of its archetypal core, the study of betrayal’s dynamics and impact has something to teach us all. If, however, you have been spared the trial of an intimate betrayal, what I describe may not make much sense to you. It may seem extreme, exaggerated, even melodramatic. That would have been

the case for me before I passed through this ordeal. I would not have had the slightest interest in a book such as this one. I had no idea.

For this reason, I offer this book primarily, and believe it will be most help-ful, for those who have been betrayed, now or in the past, by someone they loved and trusted; and for those wishing to help another navigate these waters. I offer my story and my perspective, along with the results of my research, not as an authority, but as a fellow traveler. I offer companionship, validation, and solace if you are going through this harrowing time. I admit right now that in the extended darkness, I despaired of ever trusting or caring enough to engage life again. While I hoped against hope that the proverbial “pearl of great price” was waiting to be found in the ruins of my torn-up heart, my doubts were grave. I chronicle many of those doubts here.

I can report that finally the miracle of saying yes to what I wanted least in my life did take root in my soul. To my surprise, the shattering of my world had magnetized a grace that was teaching me how and what to trust. As I write now, nearly five years later, recovering myself is a work in progress. But I have learned the greatest lesson in my life to date. Deep suffering invites us into mystery: The pain speaks a message we need and long to hear. The rage and yearning are prayers for truth, for love. At the point of utmost brokenness, I did indeed find a golden pearl—the longing cry of my own heart for a love that endures, a greater, divine love that cannot and does not die.

Please let my words resonate with your own experience where and how they will. I know I cannot speak for what anyone else is going through. But I trust that the universal core of this journey into and through the heart broken in love will ring true for many. I wish for you, too, to find your gold.

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This book is divided into four parts, some of which may only be of interest to certain readers. Part I revolves around the shock and shattering of intimate betrayal. In terms of a rite of passage, this section deals primarily with the radical separation from one’s past life a traumatic betrayal initiates. Included in this section is the overall narrative of “my story” (chapters 1 and 2) and of my early efforts to cope with the trauma and make sense of what happened. Some may be inclined to skip the story segments. Starting with chapter 3, I discuss the psychological dynamics of betrayal and introduce a number of themes, such as recognizing and coping with the ego-shattering trauma, and the spiritual perspective that will be developed more fully later in the book.

Part II shifts the focus to the mystery of relationship itself. I explore the impact on the subtle body of intimate relationship through the lens both of my husband’s death and of the abandonment that impelled me to write this

book. This is a section that I imagine will be most accessible to other women. Sexual bonding, wounds to the etheric body, adultery, the role of psychologi-cal projection in intimate relating are all considered. This section also includes a discussion of the cultural blindness to betrayal.

Part III focuses directly on the dark night or threshold phase of initiation: the shock and suffering. I begin with an in-depth discussion of the trauma and dive into the details of the dark night passage, including the opening up of earlier trauma, infantile and existential, the unloading of the unconscious, a travelogue through isolation, fear, shame, rage, helplessness, meaninglessness, and more. The spiritual perspective emerges as acceptance of pain becomes a prayer of the heart.

By Part IV the book moves more directly into the shift to the awaken-ing heart that is taking place. I chronicle the grief that pours forth as the deep heart opens, explore the role of conscience, and grapple more fully with forgiveness. The desperation of the dark time leads gradually to surrender, to prayer, to the acceptance of grace and love, and finally I discuss the challenges of the return to ordinary life coming back from the descent. If you are inter-ested in the narrative, read the book from the beginning. Otherwise, please just dip into topics of interest to you.

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Because I write from personal experience, I speak from the perspective of a woman betrayed by a man. I am, of course, aware that women play out this same dynamic with men and other women, and that men betray other men. I have chosen the orientation of a woman speaking to other heterosexual women for the sake of consistency, and because it best reflects what I have lived. I believe that our common humanity transcends gender, and that the descriptions of betrayal as an often unwitting abuse of power on the psycho-logical level, as well as an initiation into the mysteries of heart on the spiritual, will also resonate for those in same-sex relationships and for men betrayed by a woman. That said, please forgive whatever gender bias has slipped into the telling.

I ask your forgiveness also for whatever blame, harshness, or hurt may still accompany my tone with regard to “the betrayer.” I have tried my best to restrain the impulse to character assassination, and, I think, have at least partially succeeded: but I have plenty of blind spots, I am sure. Opening to the compassionate heart that can hold it all in love is a work in progress, the work of a lifetime.

Please be forewarned that I often use the word God in this writing. I use God to refer to the unknowable mystery that animates our world. Other terms that point to the same indescribable source of life include: Spirit, cre-ator, Christ or Buddha nature, the Divine, Atman, Allah, Holy Spirit, source, Higher Power, Divine Mother, the Tao, the mystery, love, truth, silence, still-ness. Maybe these words should all be capitalized to indicate a compelling, alive presence, both independent and yet part of us. Some people by tempera-ment experience this reality as a presence or a being, others as a place, or a state of mind. My inclination is toward the personal. In this writing, they are all pointers—to the living love that surrounds us, the creative source of all that is.

SANDRA LEE DENNIS, PhD, is an author, teacher and explorer of the interplay of depth psychology and spirituality. She holds an MA in Psychology and a PhD in Integral Studies/ Psychology and Religion. She has been on the faculty of several universities, as well as the San Francisco Jung Institute.

Sandra’s writings bridge the world of scholar and visionary. She loves to bring light to those subtle interior spheres that defy description, and can appear frightening or unreal to the logical mind.  Her deep-diving explorations have helped many to “translate their darkness” — to name and bring compassion to their grief, anger, confusion and pain.

She was a teacher in the Gurdjieff tradition for many years, an Ananda Yoga instructor, and a long-time student of Diamond Heart work.  Currently, she is enjoying life in the Bay Area.

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