Blog Archives

Mahalo Does Not Mean Trash

When a young boy from California visits his cousins for the first time in Hawaii, he becomes confused about why people keep calling each other trash. What starts as simple misunderstanding blossoms into frustration and anger between the young cousins. It takes a patient Pupu (grandmother) to explain the real meaning of Mahalo and teach the children a valuable lesson about their Hawaiian culture.

Mahalo Does Not Mean Trash is an educational and inspiring story about family, traditions, and culture. Written by AJ Paki Perkins and his three teenage children, they work together to create this fascinating and outstanding children’s book. This is more than just a story about the meaning of Mahalo; it is the blending of cultures and sharing of one’s heritage. It is also a lesson in gratitude and appreciation for each other and the land that we live on.

One of my favorite parts of this magnificent book is the resources at the end. Hawaiian words can be confusing to non-natives, especially the pronunciation. The authors have included a pronunciation guide and a list of Hawaiian language words with their definitions. This children’s book is on the longer side, at over 60 pages, but the colorful illustrations play well with the vibrant setting of Hawaii. The character’s expressions really add to the story and keep children engaged. While some of the dialog can get confusing, it is a beautiful lesson for small children on diversity. The details the authors have included make this story personal and relatable.

Mahalo Does Not Mean Trash is an engaging and beautiful written children’s book that teaches about the culture of Hawaii and the importance of gratitude. Children will love reading about the cousins as they spend time with the Pupu and Papa and experience the wonderful things that the island of Hawaii has to offer.

Pages: 65 | ASIN : B0BMSKP91Z

Buy Now From Amazon

Actively Fighting For My Life

Author Interview
Tricia Stafford and Annie Stafford Author Interview

The Apparition is a memoir that charts your journey through the mental health system while providing information and research on various aspects of mental illness, particularly hearing voices. Why was this an important book for you to write?

Tricia: I wanted to lend dignity to people who suffer from extreme mental health challenges. There’s a tremendous amount of shame attached to this kind of suffering, and, as a result, we would rather push it away than admit it to anyone. I wanted to bring the topic down to a very personal, down-to-earth, relatable-to-some level. The educational components of the book are meant to provide at least a primer on the various manifestations of mental illness. Although the reverberations between my own mental health and my daughter’s originally compelled me to write the first part of the book, which took many years, in the end it was the hearing voices population that propelled me to action, the poignancy of their pain that urged me to go public. I wanted to do something for the people who were so distressed by their voices that living a “normal” life was a battle. I wanted to help humanize the phenomenon. I have been aided by the honesty and sincerity of so many writers along the way, and I wanted to contribute, in my small way, to that same body of literature.

Annie: While my mother is the primary author, it was important for me to contribute to this book because the experience of hearing voices is still so misunderstood within the traditional mental health system. I felt compelled to share my journey, both with hearing voices and other mental health challenges, in hopes that others may connect with some pieces and feel less alone in their own struggles. Ultimately, it felt important for my experiences not to have been in vain, but to use them to propel some semblance of change.

I appreciated the candid nature with which you told your story. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?

Tricia: The personal challenges I wrote about were not things I was eager to share, so none of that was easy. I wondered how family members would react to me knowing these things, and I thought it would be strange for people I knew to suddenly know these most intimate details about me. Would I be straining the relationships in my life? Would I offend anyone or put them off? I have always been an extremely private, introverted person, and it goes against the grain for me to be so public. But I am far along in life now and have the long-view perspective of wanting to contribute something to our greater understanding of mental illness, as well as make meaning of my own experiences.

What I worried about most, though, was possibly causing further damage to my daughter. I did not want her to feel bad about herself in any way. Parts of the story, I knew, would be hard for her to review, but she trusted that I was not out to write an account of “gory details” and I tried hard to honor that trust. On the other hand, she was fully onboard throughout the process, and I was grateful for her contributions.

Annie: The hardest portion for me to write was my ending piece, which details where I am in my life now. During this time, I was actively fighting for my life. It was painful to capture these experiences in brutal honesty. But as difficult as it was, the act of writing helped me to hang on and keep fighting.

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone who is hesitant to seek treatment for their mental health issue?

Tricia: I would try to remind that person that there are times when the weight of our problems is simply too much to bear on our own. I understand the shame one can feel about reaching out for help. I wish that I had not felt that so acutely in my own life, but I did. I think I would have suffered far less if I had allowed myself to be more human and admit I had problems. Not only is there no shame in seeking treatment, but it is equivalent to accessing medical treatment for any debilitating physical condition. Treatment can enable us to look at the problem and set things right, or at least on a better course. Simply put, reaching out for help has the potential to be lifesaving.

Annie: To someone who is hesitant to seek treatment for a mental health issue I would say that you should not have to suffer alone – you deserve support. While it may take time to find treatment that is the right fit for you, do not give up. It takes immense courage to reach out for help, but what lies on the other side could be transformational.

What do you hope is one thing readers take away from your book?

Tricia: I hope that readers learn something about the different ways the mind can respond to chronic stress. I also hope they develop an appreciation for the complexity of their inner lives and see the detriment of sweeping difficult emotions under the rug. For example, if they feel particularly troubled by a problem which causes them to repeatedly stumble, perhaps they can do something about it. As mentioned in the book, in my own life social anxiety was a particular scourge. Although I was a pretty good student, I dreaded the classroom environment because of the stress it caused me. I wished I could have spoken up when I was a young person, but I did not know how, nor did I have the strength or courage to do that. Perhaps in the future, knowing how hard it is for people to admit they suffer from social anxiety, students could be screened for it and offered a more comfortable learning environment. We have made great strides in the school system with other learning differences, and perhaps this could be another one we learn to accommodate. I also hope readers take away the knowledge that listening deeply and with compassion to someone who is struggling goes a long way toward easing their pain and discomfort.

Annie: What I hope readers take away from the book is the power of unconditional love. My mother’s love made more of a difference in my healing than any service or medication ever could. When I lost hope, she held that hope for me. Unwavering, consistent love is one of the few forces that can transcend even the most difficult of mental health conditions. I wish this kind of love for everyone.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads

When Tricia Stafford’s seven-year-old daughter Annie suffered incapacitating anxiety after a traumatic encounter with a Catholic nun, she had no idea that it was just the beginning of more serious mental health struggles – for both her and her daughter.

While Annie battled OCD and depression, Tricia’s own history of anxiety re-emerged and led to an emotional breakdown. At age twelve, Annie also began hearing voices, but in 2012 they met Ron Coleman, an activist in the Hearing Voices Movement, who offered them a new kind of hope.

This deeply personal account charts their long journey through the mental health system, while weaving in relevant information and research on various aspects of mental illness, particularly, hearing voices. In sharing her story, Stafford shines a light on our country’s mental health crisis and challenges us all to seek a better understanding of, and more compassionate treatment for, those suffering from any form of mental illness.

Pearls On a String

Pearls on a String by Jane Merling is a story set in Canada in the 1980s. Sarah Langner comes from a loving family, and she is an established businesswoman. Despite her good fortune, her faith is shaken when she marries a man, whom she realizes, doesn’t love her. When Sarah discovers a mysterious box belonging to her late grandmother, she learns long-kept secrets about her family’s history.

This mysterious romance develops quickly, with a few unique plot twists, with a memoir writing style. I enjoyed how layered the story became, with new characters and situations that expanded on Sarah’s family’s unknown secrets and hidden past. As she uncovers details of her findings, she gets heavily involved in research and discovers more about her family’s history. Her discoveries led to a more fulfilling life and a renewed faith in romance.

This novel is a rewarding story, with rich characters and plot development, that brings the surprising tales of the past into the present, with exciting but sometimes unexpected results. It’s an excellent read for fans of the mystery genre and for those who enjoy romance. I found the storyline easy to follow and enjoyable to read, with a few unexpected plot twists and unforeseen surprises. In addition, I found the author’s writing style pleasant and personable, which kept me interested from one chapter to the next.

Pearls on a String by Jane Merling is a compelling romantic mystery novel. It’s an interesting, relatable story about finding hidden family truths and discovering a new side of life and fulfillment. I look forward to reading more work and similar stories. I felt connected with Sarah and her journey, and I highly recommend this book!

Pages: 264 | ISBN : 9781778088773

Destiny Lives on Fairhaven Street

Book Review Icon

Violence. That’s all C.J ever knew as a child. From the brutal bullying by boys at school to his father’s fiery fists of rage, his life was nothing short of a nightmare. When his abusive father and traumatized mother divorced, C.J shed his childhood nickname and began searching for the real Chris. It is at this time he meets Danielle, the girl next door. With an instant attraction, their worlds collided and erupted into a magnificent world of love and trust from the start. Danielle became a beacon of hope that guided Chris through the most challenging years of his life, a time when he was discovering who he was and who he wanted to be. However, Chris ended up moving to Michigan, ripping him away from Danielle just as their young love blossomed. Can Chris move past the trauma and distance to win Danielle?

Author C.J. Hudson thrusts the reader into his world of pain and belittlement by his father and bullies at school. The scenes of abuse were hard to get through, and I absolutely hated C.J.’s father for how he treated him, but that also shows the author’s writing is descriptive and moving. This impassioned story reads like a journal written by the author to his sons about his childhood life and how he met their mother. I was able to connect with the author, and I enjoyed being able to read about his thoughts. I understood his reasoning for not liking certain things like his real name or something as minute as oatmeal.

C.J.’s and Danielle’s relationship made me smile because she loved him for who he was. Reading about how Bob, C.J.’s uncle, treated him was heartwarming and, I must say, the best part of the author’s memoir. It brought a smile to my face when C.J. began to feel the real love and get the right parental guidance. I don’t know why I was surprised by the ending of the author’s memoir, maybe because a part of me was rooting for him to win Danielle back.

Destiny Lives on Fairhaven Street is an inspirational memoir of trials and triumphs. Readers will follow as the author finds the strength to survive the things that life throws at him and watch as he tries to build a better life and legacy for his own sons.

Pages: 258 | ASIN B0BHTP7FH9

Buy Now From Amazon

There Is Hope For The Oppressed

Robert Saniscalchi Author Interview

Full Circle follows a woman who sets about creating a better life for her family away from her abusive husband with the help of her brother-in-law. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?

My inspiration came from believing that even through adversity and despair there is always hope.

What were the morals you were trying to capture while creating your characters?

I tried to keep the characters real, everyday people going through life’s journey. It is in their love, friendship and their faith, their family ties that bind them. All of this comes together for Lucia and helps her through it all.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

I wanted to show that there is hope for the oppressed, and the abused. The caring and love of family and friends. Hard work and determination has its rewards.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I will write a children’s story based on my childhood adventures and my experiences growing up in a big family. Actually wrote a short story on it, so I am ahead of the game, just have to get to it.

Author Links: Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Robert’s exciting new story is about faith, family and Lucia’s struggle from the depths of darkness and despair. Find out what happens as Lucia and her family try to find peace and pray for a better life for themselves. The author brings us into the personal life of Lucia, the excitement and drama that unfolds on her journey. Things happen in life; does fate and luck come into play? Come along for the ride as Lucia starts a new life with her family and meet the new friends she finds along the way.

The Apparition

A reckoning with madness in the true sense of the word. This book gives a very personal account of Stafford and her daughter’s experience of mental health issues as the duo traverse across uncharted territories together, trying to understand their trauma and proactively working towards healing, continuously seeking alternative treatment methods and support systems while constantly battling some of the most debilitating physical conditions. It recounts the numerous ordeals that they faced and exposes us to the tumultuous world of voice hearers. To that effect, it is both inspiring and informative, encouraging readers to visualize the amount of emotional stress Annie or any person who hears voices has to endure on a daily basis.

To say the narrative follows a chronological order or has a linear timeline would be limiting, because this book is anything but a series of events highlighted one after the other. In fact, it is sometimes akin to a research paper in how it makes references to literature on and around the subject of mental illness, hearing voices or suicidal ideation, etc. Other times it flows with the melancholic drift and confessional tone of an autobiography or memoir as it closely retells the lived experiences of the mother and daughter, almost reminiscent of a survivor’s tale.

What is particularly interesting to note is the conviction with which the mother supports her daughter and never fails to believe in her overall potential to overcome these challenges. Her honesty and candor makes the book humane and more accessible instead of painting their struggles as an isolating experience. She single-handedly becomes the stability Annie craves, the solid ground for her to stay anchored to when everything else convinces her she is crazy. Stafford tells her daughter’s story with immense empathy and a subtle pride, evoking in us in turn a sense of compassion, understanding and awe.

Although painfully fragmented, Annie’s voice still rings clear through the extracts her mother deftly curated and dispersed throughout the length of the work. Albeit some parts of the book where the topic veered into religion, theology or mysterious spiritual awakenings, the narrative sometimes seemed disordered yet there is much in this book that is eye-opening.

Pages: 242 | ASIN: B0BL1CSCJX

Buy Now From Amazon

More Of An Evolution Than An Inspiration

David B. Seaburn Author Interview

Give Me Shelter follows a group of people living through the Cuban missile crisis and a number of other personal struggles who must rely on each other to get through. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I was thinking about the pandemic at the time and assumed lots of writers would be writing about it. So, I decided to write about a parallel experience, a time when something that seemed beyond our control posed a significant risk to millions of people. I grew up in the 1960s and remember the Cuban Missile Crisis very well. I was almost 12 and, much like Willie, I experienced high anxiety as the crisis unfolded. That is where I got the idea for the story. In fact, the first chapter, where Willie is hiding behind a couch with his dog during an air raid drill is something that I actually did at the time.

What was the inspiration for the relationship that developed between the characters?

This was more of an evolution than an inspiration. When I started, I had the title, Give Me Shelter, Willie and nothing else. Since my novels are character driven, I started thinking about who would be important people in his life. I gave him an older brother who was leaving home for college. I gave him a grandfather who took the boys in after an awful tragedy. I also wanted Willie to have friends that he was close to, Lucy and Pres (who then had their own stories). That helped me develop the coming-of-age aspects of the story. While I am writing a novel, other characters appear, for lack of a better explanation. I didn’t plan on Lucy’s mother, Trish, being a character, but then I got interested in what her life story was about, so I broadened her characterization. I created Robert, the neighbor, because I wanted to have a character that represented that segment of the population that was so convinced nuclear war was coming that they built bomb shelters in their basements or backyards. I assumed that Denny, because of the tragedies in his life, would be sheltered, inexperienced when he went to college. As a consequence, he might have trouble meeting people. Then he runs into Becky, who is lively and unique. I wanted her to have her own story and not just be an appendage to Denny, so I thought of a disability that she would be addressing throughout the story.

Usually, when I am creating characters, I want to do two things. First, I want them to be connected in some way to the central plot of the book. Second, I want them to have a story of their own, a rich subplot. This novel had two main stories—the missile crisis and the mystery about what happened to Wille and Denny’s parents. All the subplots had to have a life of their own, but still be connected in some way to the two main stories. I think this process gives my characters believability and makes for a richer story.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

The key themes in the Give Me Shelter are loss, coming-of-age, friendship, uncertainty, danger, second chances, and the need for some form of safety or shelter.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I have recently started writing a novel entitled Until It Was Gone. I am only about 50 pages in, but I am enjoying the characters I’ve created so far. In the opening scene a husband and wife are at a restaurant celebrating their fortieth anniversary when the wife announces “I’m leaving. Forty years is enough.” That scene gave me a lot of options for what could come next. My books usually come out every two years, so I anticipate this one coming out in 2024.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

The dual challenges of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis that threatens the world and the unexplained loss of parents that threatens a family are the driving forces behind the lives of two boys and their grandfather.

Willie, Denny and their grandfather, Pop, have lived together for nine years, ever since the boys’ parents died in an accident that remains a mystery to the boys. Denny reluctantly leaves for college, while Willie enters sixth grade, fearful of the menacing missile crisis and curious about his parents’ fate.

Willie’s best friends are Lucy and Preston. Lucy wonders about the ‘man in the suit’ who seems to be everywhere she goes. Her mom, Trish, grapples with unemployment. Preston is burdened by the trauma his father is experiencing due to his military service. Denny meets his first-ever girlfriend at college, Lucy, who has one leg that’s shorter than the other. Good neighbor, Robert, is building a bomb shelter in the back yard. Muriel, his mother is a shoot-from-the-hip older adult with dementia.

Over time, the connections between them create the shelter they need for their common journey. Seaburn again tells a story of human vulnerability, endurance, secrets, truth, loss, humor, resilience and love.

Change Their Crazy Ways

L. Maddox Author Interview

Macon Me Crazy tells your story about growing up with a dysfunctional family and learning about how they have survived since the days of being on a cotton plantation in Macon Georgia. Why was this an important book for you to write?

I felt like my personal story was worth telling so I decided to share it with the world.

What were some ideas that were important for you to share in this book?

My family was able to change their crazy ways when they got to know God.

I appreciated the candid nature with which you told your story. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?

Writing about the abuse I endured when I was a kid was a little heart wrenching. To this day, I sometimes find myself avoiding the topic.

What do you hope is one thing readers take away from your story?

If you grew up in a chaotic family, do not repeat the patterns from the past.

Author Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Facebook | Website

Growing up in the streets of Philadelphia during the 1970s wasn’t easy for a young girl named Lena. In a bizarre way, her mother Francine could dish out affection as quickly as she could dish out terror. Coming from a dysfunctional family of drama, Lena is confronted with the reality that she must survive this turmoil and endure the hardship. While Lena visits her grandmother Florence who moved from Philadelphia to North Carolina, she began searching for a misplaced ring when she stumbles upon a hidden family journal in the backyard shed. As Lena begins to read, she realizes it’s a collection of short stories that exposes her family’s survival, dark secrets, and funny moments that can be traced generations back to the cotton plantation in Macon, Georgia. And the chaos continues after the family migrated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania during the 1940s.

%d bloggers like this: