I’d always thought of myself as an actor/writer, but one day in Los Angeles in 2005, I realized that all I was writing was a few words in a journal every morning. A very few very boring words. I needed to be around other writers. That was my solution. So, I saw a notice in a newspaper that sounded like the ticket for me: a writing group where the only goal was to produce words that you could read to the other members of the group. When I got there, I realized that I was in a group of talented writers who were being guided by an even more talented writer – April Daisy White – and it was then that I learned that it was memoir writing for actors who wanted to do a one-person show. A show using their own lives as a script. This frightened the life out of me, but I thought I should stay and write anyway. And I did. Daisy, was a great teacher, coach, human being and she had had a very interesting life. So I wrote a chapter every week or so and in not too long I had a memoir. This stunned me and surprised and pleased my husband, Charles Pfahl. Daisy went on to do a successful one-woman show about her own life – even went to Broadway with it. I had no illusions about doing that, so I put my memoir away. Well, actually I sent it to a few publishers first. They all liked the memoir, BUT it was too intense, too relentless. Everyone else had thought it quite funny. Dark, of course, but humorous at least. So the manuscript was put away and I went back to adapting screenplays for other people who had written books. Then Charles and I moved to Albuquerque for economic reasons. But it was there that he became ill and eventually died. Before he died, he asked me to please publish Juggle and Hide. I promised I would and now I have. I keep my promises and I try to always be early for appointments.
Title: Sharon van Ivan
Author: Sharon van Ivan
Publisher: Cygnet Press
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Juggle and Hide is award-winning writer Sharon van Ivan’s dizzying story of her unconventional, often harrowing, and sometimes hilarious life. With a childhood split between time with her alcoholic mother in Akron, Ohio and her gambling dad in Brooklyn, New York, as well as other challenging family members along the way, she was destined to find comfort on the edge and in the company of highly creative and self-destructive individuals.
Hers is a story of getting drunk and getting sober, of triumphs and failures in her work as an actor and screenwriter, and of exhilarating love affairs, including her twenty-year relationship with the renowned artist Charles Pfahl. The book is quirky and compelling, and engaging on many levels. Sharon takes the reader on a roller coaster ride into the depths of personal tragedy with unexpected outcomes.
Sharon van Ivan lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with her two cats, The Duke and Earl. She was born in Brooklyn New York and couldn’t wait to move back to New York when she grew up. Her parents divorced when she was a baby and she lived with her mother in Akron, Ohio, until she returned to New York in her early 20s. There she studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and was a working actress for many years. But she was always writing. Her debut as a playwright was when she was 10 years old and living in Sacramento, California. She wrote about the hardships of a young girl in Mexico. The play was so good, it was presented to the whole school. Sharon was mortified and did not write again until high school. Then when she had a writing assignment, she would dream about it the night before, and write it just before class. She was an A student in English. Not the most popular person in school, however.
Growing up with an alcoholic and, therefore, mentally ill mother and a mostly-absent father (plus a slew of stepfathers) was a challenge that Sharon met head-on – as she had no choice. Later in life when she did have a choice, the patterns had already been set and she followed a similarly disastrous road until she found show business, a great psychiatrist and the love of her life, the renowned realist painter, Charles Pfahl.
I grew up with a mostly absent father, a religious fanatic mother, a kleptomaniac grandmother, and two special needs siblings. As a really small kid, I didn’t give much thought to my circumstances, but as I got older I began to see how “unique” my family was. Their uniqueness became even more evident after we moved from a river town where everyone was downwardly mobile to an affluent town that would have the special ed classes that my brother, who we had by then discovered was a person with developmental disabilities, would require. The only house we could afford was a corner house that adjoined one parking lot and backed up to another, a property owned by the town’s largest supermarket. When the supermarket lot was full, people parked on the side or in front of our house. They left their shopping carts all around our small property. My grandmother said we lived in a fishbowl and everyone could see in. When my father and brother were arguing, which was whenever my father was home, my grandmother would run from window to window with her cigarette trying to determine who might be out there trying to look into our fishbowl to see what was going on.
I was ashamed of my family, and I was ashamed of myself for feeling ashamed. This made for some complicated feelings for a kid/teenager to handle. Because I was painfully shy to begin with, I lived in dread of doing anything that might be construed as abnormal, because I feared the onlooker would think there was something wrong with me too. First I attempted to become an overachiever academically, but once I transferred from Catholic school to public and found I could pass tests without studying and that nobody cared about my grades anyway (I was on the non-college-bound track), I attempted to become an overachiever socially. This took some doing in the late sixties and early seventies. My mother was very strict, and simply getting out of the house required enormously creativity.
As a young adult I discovered that I loved writing. I began to write for a living and I also wrote four novels. I planned never to write about my life, because I still carried around some of the shame from my childhood, but some friends talked me into it, and once I got started, it actually became a fun project. So I opened my heart, and then I opened my closet and let all the skeletons tumble out, and now I’m actually finding out that a lot of people can relate to my story. Their stories of familial dysfunction may have different details, but the bottom line is that growing up is challenging for many people, and living in the world as an adult can be tricky too. Those of us who survive are bound not so much by answers as by questions, and we have some great stories to tell.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Joan Heartwell makes her living as a pen for hire, writing, editing and ghostwriting for a variety of private and corporate clients. She has had four novels published under another name and has a fifth one due out later in 2014.
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Butch was barking like crazy and trying to lick my face. Every dog within a mile was barking. I looked around and could see dawn was breaking and our house was blazing, totally in flames, and so was my pickup parked nearby. It was a surreal scene.
Suddenly with a loud crash, our brick chimney collapsed onto the top of the burning house, causing the entire structure to become a roaring fire pit.
The neighbor helped me to my feet, and I leaned on a fence post for support. I was shaking badly and confused about everything. I was not sure if I was just having a terrible nightmare and I would soon wake up. I don’t remember how it happened, but the next thing I knew, I was here.
Fire trucks and ambulances arrived, and I was taken away to the hospital where I was treated for smoke inhalation, cuts, and burns on my face and back. The doctor told the deputy sheriff that I was in shock and very confused. The deputy offered to drive me back home, and he questioned me about what happened.
I told him I really did not know what had happened. He told me matter-of-factly that my mother and sister were dead and their bodies had been removed from the fire debris and were being taken to Oklahoma City for autopsies. He watched me closely for a reaction. There was none. The deputy could have just as well told me it was Thursday morning, June 19, 1963, and my response would have been the same: nothing. I was totally numb and confused. One thing I did remember that would bother me for years was a very strange odor in my nostrils that I could not identify, and my clothes still reeked of that unknown odor.
A real-life, true crime, memoir about the incredible story of a poor teenage Oklahoma farm boy who was charged with murdering his mother and sister in cold blood and then burning down the family home in a supposed attempt to cover up his crimes and his ten-year court battle to clear his name.
In the early morning hours of June 19, 1963, just four days before he was to leave for basic training, Bobby Wilson was awakened by his mother.
She held a loaded gun to his head and had a crazy, yet familiar, look in her eyes. Alongside his sister, Bobby had suffered her rants for years, but tonight was different. Bobby knew without a doubt that the demons that his mother had struggled with for years had their sights on him.
He realizes he has nowhere to turn and nowhere to run, but he has no idea that the nightmare has just begun. It is a nightmare that changes the course of his life. It is a nightmare that will ultimately take Bobby ten years to wake up from.
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Bobby was born in San Francisco, CA, on September 3, 1944, to a waitress mother and mysterious father. His younger years were years of endless relocations until his mother and younger sister, Judy, ended their sojourn in Hugo, Oklahoma, the area of his mother’s upbringing, Indian country in Southeastern Oklahoma.
Intent on a military career, Bobby enlisted in the National Guard while beginning his high school senior year. His plans for the future were suddenly cut short when he was jailed and criminally charged with his family’s deaths.
After his release from jail, Bobby had to rebuild his life from scratch and worked his way through the University of Texas and Texas Tech School of Law, all the while supporting a wife and daughter.
Bobby graduated from Law School in 1973 having already passed the State Bar exam. He was admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1980.
He soon established himself as a fearless trial lawyer in the State of Texas, unafraid to take on the establishment or its leaders in civil and criminal litigation. He made enemies in the legal profession, but his clients worshipped him.
In the early 1990’s Bobby quit the law business to become a professor of law. He moved to Arizona and became certified to teach law and political science and was named Outstanding Business Faculty Instructor at Rio Salado College in 1999.
In 2001 he was retained by the disgraced Arthur Anderson and Company to write an Ethics guide for their employees in Arizona.
Bobby continues to write and teach law and paralegal courses for colleges in Arizona. Currently, Bobby is busy writing a series of books under his "Bobby Trials" banner as well as Murder Mysteries/Legal Thrillers. Bobby is married and currently living in Arizona.
This tour was sponsored by Worldwind Virtual Book Tours
Break The Chains
A Memoir by Jay D Roberts, MD
Published by Tate Publishing and Enterprises
If you were abused over and over again, would you become an abuser? Or would you learn to forgive? Dr. Jay Roberts had to go to prison to learn the answer.
In 1999 Dr. Roberts was in at-home hospice care preparing for his own death from a neurological disease. At the point where he finally gave up, he experienced a spontaneous, overnight healing. It was not the first time he had “cheated” death. He had survived a fifty-foot fall from a cliff, a plane crash, and attempts on his life by rebel insurgents in remote areas in the Philippines in 1970s. This near-death escape was different though, because it was the culmination of a turbulent lifelong dialogue with God which started when he was a child being bull-whipped by his alcoholic father. Yet even after his complete recovery from disease, it would take a maximum security prison environment to reveal to him the mysterious power of forgiveness.
In the telling of his fascinating story—of extreme abuse, of the compulsion to become a pain and wound care specialist, of medical school in a third world country against a dangerous political backdrop, and of his return home to deal with the demons he’d left behind—Dr. Roberts tackles the big questions illuminating physical, mental, and spiritual growth. Break the Chains affirms faith in both God and the human spirit. It is as revealing and inspirational as it is truthful and poignant.
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THE STORY BEHIND BREAK THE CHAINS:
As a young child, I didn’t believe God existed. I had prayed and prayed for God to stop my torment, but He didn’t.
As I grew, I kept hearing, “Jesus loves the little children…” So I figured that if God does love kids, he surely hates me.
And, He must hate me because I am bad, so I should be beaten more. I deserved to be tortured. And I was.
So I figured I was right after all. As a child and adult I knew to keep my mouth shut and never speak of what went on inside our home. I would never tell. Never.
Years and years past, then I got sick. After I almost died, I became obsessed with four things—writing my story, ministering in maximum security prisons, helping the wounded, and building an orphanage.
Writing my story has been the most difficult. I had to remove a wall of stones from around my heart that had protected me for years. It became too painful and I stopped writing. I tossed many a nights fighting a passion to write against the fear that it would kill my mother for telling the secret. Two years later, the battle was over. I could no longer squelch my thirst to write.
My mother read the promotional copy for my book. She is still alive.
Any day now she will start reading the book. I pray that she has strength and an open mind as my story unfolds in her hands. A story she already knows, but one never spoken and definitely not in print.
My wife, two sons, and sister have read the book and have praised me. My brother refuses to talk about the book and to hear anything negative about his father. A cousin is upset that I would “bad mouth my family… and anyway, no one would ever buy my book.”
Many have hurts and pains, and are bounded by their chains.
I am willing to take the hits from my family, if by telling my story I can help others to forgive, break their chains, and set them free.
Jay D Roberts MD is a board-certified physiatrist, specializing in the treatment of physical disabilities with a focus of adding quality to life. He is currently in private practice in California. He is a member and lecturer at national and international conferences related to his specialty, a contributing author to Current Trends in Physiatry, and author of various scientific papers. In addition to his career, Dr. Roberts volunteers as part of a Christian ministry in maximum security prisons. He and his wife, parents of two grown sons, live in Indian Wells, California. Break the Chains is Dr. Roberts’ first book. Following in the long tradition of doctors who combine their passion for saving lives with their passion for writing, Dr. Roberts is currently at work on a novel, concerning children forced to work in mines.
READER REVIEW: "Like most vacations that go awry, they are never forgotten! This is a travel memoir of author Kerry Dwyer and her husband, Bertrand, traveling to Ireland for a walking sightseeing trip...You know how the best laid out plans go? Not too well at times. From selecting backpacks, to forgetting the water repellent spray for boots, to getting lost on the edge of a cliff in dense fog, you have to know there are many humorous events which Kerry describes very well. I enjoyed this travel story which had me laughing along the way, as well as cheering them on their successes. I also thought of how funny a sitcom this would make on BBC, like the many I've enjoyed watching. I've always said, everyone has a story to tell, and talented Kerry has provided a fun read in her "Ramblings."" --NancyofUtah
Price: ebook for $3.99 &
paperback for $9.99
Rating: 4.1 stars
This is not a book about rambling in Ireland.
It tells the tale of one particular walking trip and the memories and musings it inspired.
Exploring the West of Ireland is a time for meditation, spiritual reflection and strengthening the bonds of life. More practically the ability to read a map might have proved helpful. The tourist office in Ireland has all their paths clearly marked. You can’t go wrong if you follow that little yellow man. Or can you?
As British ex-patriate Kerry Dwyer leads Bertrand, her trusting French husband, astray once more, they reminisce and reflect upon accents and accidents, family and friends, love and what it means to be alive. Bertrand doesn’t mind getting lost - he loves Kerry all the more for going off the beaten track.
This is a book about ramblings in Ireland. Walk with Kerry and Bertrand and follow where your thoughts lead you.
Kerry Dwyer was born in Yorkshire, England. She was educated in the Home Counties. She spent nearly twenty five years working in finance in Europe and America before moving to South West France where she still lives. She works as an English Teacher to adults and writes in her spare time.
Her first book, "Ramblings in Ireland," was inspired by a holiday walking in Cork and Kerry with her French husband. She explores the cross channel cultural differences and rambles in the true Freudian sense.
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