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To Heal Inner Wounds

Author Interview

Sara Gelbard Author Interview

The Sound of Her Voice is an emotional and inspirational story of your life and all the obstacles you’ve overcome. Why was this an important book for you to write?

I was inspired to write The Sound of Her Voice by an inner longing to heal and find that inner voice that was never allowed to be heard when I was a child growing up on the Kibbutz. The book helped me confront and heal the pain of my childhood. I was also motivated to tell my story to help others confront their pain and learn how to heal.
The Sound of Her Voice is a story for anyone who has ever felt the need to heal inner wounds so they will be able to open their hearts and live life more fully.

What is one piece of advice you wish someone had given you when you were younger?

I grew up feeling very isolated and lonely. I would always wonder what was wrong with me that I felt that way. Later in my life a therapist told me “That’s what’s right with you – it is your sensitivity. You need to learn to believe in your own voice.” I wish someone had said that to me earlier in life.

What were some themes that were important for you to convey in this memoir?

Healing is so important. Without it you cannot open your heart to the vulnerabilities in life that are so intertwined with true feelings and living a full life. The impact of having to repress individuality and the self-expression of childhood left a lifelong impact on my ability to truly give voice to my inner feelings. When I reached the age of 70 and lived in peaceful Punta del Este in Uruguay with my husband, I was finally able to tell the story of the little girl who could not express her innermost fears and resentments. The beauty of Punta with its beaches, and the embracing and healing sea surrounding both sides of the town, somehow made her bubble up.

The healing also helped me to finally my home – both spiritually and physically. Growing up on the Kibbutz in the Children’s House left me with a yearning for a permanent home that provided the comfort of family and the solace of togetherness.

Is there anything that you see differently in your life now that you’ve had time to reflect and write this memoir?

Yes. My relationship with grief has changed. I now possess an inner peace that I didn’t have before the little girl in me was allowed to tell her story. Once I was able to get in touch with my grief and get past the denial that I carried throughout my life, I was able to forgive and truly understand my mother and what she must have gone through leaving her old life behind and raising a family in a new country with new rules.

I now have a more direct connection to grief and can accept it and work through its various stages. I recently lost my dog – the love of my life — which I would never have been able to accept and speak about before writing The Sound of Her Voice. And now, I have made room in my heart for a new dog.

I hope others who read my book will be able to confront their own inner grief and work through it the way I gradually let the little girl inside me express herself.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

A poetic and unusually constructed memoir, THE SOUND OF HER VOICE, is Sara Gelbard’s story of her experience growing up on one of the first kibbutzim in Israel and how she was forced to repress her individuality, and the self-expression of a normal childhood. This book sensitively follows her personal journey through life from Israel to New York and Uruguay, and gives voice to how she finally created a home for herself and in her heart, and healed what she lost.


Sara Gelbard is a woman of three homes – Israel, New York, and Punta del Este in Uruguay. This may be because she never had a home. She was born in one of the first Israeli kibbutzim in Western Galil near the Lebanon border, of Polish parents who escaped the tremendous horror of Europe. They escaped, but their families did not, and consequently, their commitment to the kibbutz was ideological, necessary, and fueled by a broken heart.

The first kibbutzim were the most stringent in their rules – mothers only allowed in at feeding times – and 24 children in each Children’s House, with only one circulating guardian at night. The children were taught to be little soldiers, and performed their duties, and needs and emotions were discouraged. For a sensitive individualistic person, like Sara, this became a burden that would later haunt her. She excelled in the kibbutz, in the Israeli army (in her case, becoming a Navy officer), at a Tel Aviv Movement and Dance School, and teaching at the College of Sde Boker (where Ben Gurion lived.) She excelled but carried a tremendous loneliness and sadness of having lived without real connection or having been given the gift of self-expression. The army offered more self-expression than the kibbutz. Even with her excelling at the kibbutz, she was denied by them her second year of college, because they deemed her too independent. With that, she left.

After the Six Day War, when all Israel was celebrating, Sara decided to enroll in the Martha Graham Dance School and moved to New York. There she went through the struggles of an immigrant with language, finding work, although she was helped by a dear friend also from Israel, and by a philosophical psychoanalyst who ran seminars on the interior life. This saved her and opened the inner life to her. She got her BA in Economics from Fordham, became a successful real estate broker, selling homes to others, which was a form of reparation. She married her Uruguayan husband (then in New York) who became her first “home.”

At seventy, she was walking in the beautiful Punta del Este, with its ocean on two sides, and that little girl’s voice, who never could be heard, or speak of what she felt, bubbled up. THE SOUND OF HER VOICE is Sara’s exploration of what it was like to live in this unfeeling world as a child, the healing in writing, what her three homes are to her, how marriage healed her, and, ultimately, how she came to understand and forgive how her mother could, in her way, give her away. Sara sprinkles her book with haikus that go to the heart of such a journey. The entire book speaks to all of us who have a voice inside us that must be listened to if we want to open our hearts.

Break the Cycle of Despair

Denise Monique
Denise Monique Author Interview

Despite My Odds is a candid and heartfelt retelling of your tumultuous upbringing and the difficult path that led to love and success. Why was this an important book for you to write?

I have always been a helper and wanted to show others the power to move forward lies within. My life has always had purpose, but it took me a long time to really embrace that idea. In telling my story, I gained ownership of everything that happened to me. The transparency freed me in a way I had never felt before. Many have had similar challenges, yet struggle with the courage to tell their story-to define their worth and walk in power. These are the people I held in my heart as I wrote my story.

There were many points in my life that I could have ended up on the other side of the statistics. My grandma used to tell me she was so happy I wasn’t somewhere crouched in a corner after being raped. Despite My Odds proves that we can break the cycle of despair and live a better life.

What do you feel is a common misconception people have about abusive relationships?

Oftentimes, there is the misconception that there was something the victim/victor did to provoke the abuse. Some think it is easy to just leave, just pick up the pieces and go. Perhaps outsiders don’t understand the components and levels of abuse. Abusers teach you to abuse yourself. When you feel you are nothing, how do you leave? How do you get the strength to move on? A bird with a broken wing cannot fly.

I appreciated the candid nature with which you told your story. What were some key ideas that you wanted to express in your book?

Thank you! I spent too many years trying to fit the mold others created for me. Just as the raw memories erupted, I wanted my readers to feel the sting of the details. It is important to truly love yourself, and no matter how bad your past seems, know that you can still shine.

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

I hope readers feel empowered after reading my book.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

Layla spent the first eight years of her life in a loving home with her grandparents. That comfort all ended once welfare caught up with her mother who was still receiving food benefits for her. After moving to her mothers’ home, the dysfunctional relationships continued for years. Layla was abused emotionally, physically, and sexually. She looked to her mother for love and protection but never found it. Layla’s mom, Val, often told her she looked like a boy and would never amount to anything just like her dad. Layla began connecting with the wrong men for what she thought was love. Several of those relationships produced children and ended just as quickly as they began. A life full of low self-esteem, promiscuity and one bad relationship after another continued until finally, she had enough. Layla sought to take her power back from all those that had taken advantage of her.

This story will inspire you to look within for the strength to push forward. Life does not come with a road map and sometimes we fail miserably. But even with the vicissitudes, we can pick up our pieces and rise above it all.

Mind, Body, and Spirit

Sameer Bhide
Sameer Bhide Author Interview

One Fine Day inspires readers to overcome adversity and embrace life by sharing candid but ultimately uplifting stories from your life. Why was this an important book for you to write?

I felt grateful and thankful that I had survived the massive and rare stroke and was fortunate to have this second lease on life. I had done so many treatments/therapies in Western and Eastern medicine to help me heal my mind, body, and spirit. I wanted to give back to society somehow by sharing my stories, experiences, lessons learned from my journey to help others going through any adversity or life changes. I also wrote it as a letter of gratitude to the hundreds of compassionate caregivers, family, friends, colleagues, and supporters in both my adopted country and my country of birth. As I wrote the memoir, I also realized that doing it was also helping my healing.

I appreciated the personal stories you shared in the book. What was the hardest part of yourself to share with readers?

I am a very private person by nature. As I was documenting very openly many personal things in my life, it definitely made me anxious and that was the hardest part. The other thing which was hard for me was to decide on whether to use real or fictitious names for family, friends, and the various health care providers and caretakers in India and the US to ensure their privacy. In the end I decided to use real names for some – first or last names only, but for others used full names when it was required. It just did not feel right using fictitious names. Also I wanted to thank the many people who aided in my recovery and saved my life.

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

There were many ideas,tips and suggestions I wanted to share based on my experience. So through out the book I included them in a grayed out text box.

Some ideas/tips were:

  • The importance of enrolling in Long Term Disability Insurance (LTD) during Open enrollment. Many folks don’t do it or not aware of it.
    Thank goodness I had signed up for it. It has kept me afloat.
  • The importance of talking with a clinical psychologist to help you heal from whatever adversity or life changes you are facing.
  • The importance of doing yoga and meditation to give you the best chance to heal your mind, body and spirit.
  • The importance of being independent in your healing – ordering online groceries using Instacart, and using Uber to go about doing your business.
  • The importance of contributing to Social Security from your paycheck and how the benefits you receive are not a handout by the government, but based on what you pay in to the system.
  • The importance of periodically eating and finishing food from the fridge and pantry first and then only order new groceries.

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

That we all are one fine day from a new normal and we have to be prepared to accept those life changes with positivity, grace and gratitude.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Life can and will change for good or bad. Whether sudden or planned, physical or emotional, personal or professional, big or small, one fine day we will all have to face a new normal. When your day comes, what will you do?
One fine day, unimaginable tragedy happened to Sameer Bhide. His entire life came crashing down, starting with a life-changing, debilitating stroke, the loss of work, and a divorce. One Fine Day is the amazing story of his struggle to come back from the brink with the help of a diverse community of friends and caretakers, as well as an integration of Western medicine with Eastern holistic care. Sameer’s example of positivity, gratitude, and grace will help you accept a new normal— whatever it may be—as a gift. In sharing his personal story, experiences, ideas, approaches, and suggestions, he hopes One Fine Day will help readers:

> build resilience to face any life change or adversity
> find positivity, express gratitude, and build perseverance in the healing process
> look at the unexpected benefits and find possibilities in any life change
> find possibility where most people would see none (the art of the possible)
> adjust to a new life that they may not have chosen
> supplement cutting-edge Western medicine with holistic Eastern medicine and care

A Love Only They Knew

Bles Chavez Bernstein
Bles Chavez Bernstein Author Interview

In The Typhoon’s Eye is a memoir of your young life and shows you overcame many obstacles. Why was this an important book for you to write?

Initially, I considered the idea of writing this memoir because I felt it important for me to share my beginnings with my adult children and my siblings. Then this idea snowballed once friends and colleagues added their encouragement. I found it personally satisfying to capture in writing the culture of my hometown, especially since many of these aspects are now fading. Despite the unpleasant realities of my upbringing, I also wanted to offer tribute to my parents and present what they saw as sacrifices for our own good and a future better than their own. Years later as an adult, I understood that everything they did for me was an expression of a love only they knew.

What is one piece of advice that you wish someone had given you when you were younger?

One piece of advice that I wish someone had given me when I was a young adult was to never self-doubt myself as far as my intuitive ability was concerned, and to withhold trust in people until trustworthiness is proven. It’s a big part of my nature to easily trust people, in general, when I was younger. As an older adult, I realized that that attitude may have come from seeing the world through my own vision as an optimist, or relying too much on my unrelenting faith. I know now that that trait can be a double-edged sword.

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

The hardest thing for me to write about in my book was the scenarios when my father was drunk and violent towards my sisters and me, the worst of them was when he tied my 11 year old sister to a post while he whipped her with a leather belt until she passed out. I felt helpless because I was not there, and yet it was harrowing for me to hear it from my mother who told me how it happened. Rage and extreme sadness about that incident stayed with me for a long time. Writing In The Typhoon’s Eye has not only made me realize that I buried those emotions deep for many years but has also offered catharsis and healing.

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

I believe that my story will benefit anyone facing a difficult change in life. Dilemmas related to generational and cultural expectations often conflict with personal goals and create needs for adjustment. I hope to offer relatable lessons in coping with and widening one’s extremely narrowed options. I want to reach out to my fellow nurses who have silent dreams and tell them that anything is possible. To everyone who sacrifices being away from loved ones, that it is okay to do it for a greater purpose. To anyone who finds himself trapped in an endless cycle of work to survive, that there is always a better option, if you open your heart and mind and conquer your fear of the unknown.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

In The Typhoon’s Eye is a story of childhood and growing up amidst struggle, sacrifice, and concession to a stringent reality while keeping the dreams of youth alive. The imagery of Sandig hill with its vast greenery and lush ambiance shaped the perspective of the author as a young artist. Readers will share her personal journey in nostalgic local colors that are rendered by the sound of the church bells tolling, waking up the lazy town of Ocampo, the solemn procession on Easter, the crowded Sunday market, and the seductive scents of native delicacies sold on the streets. Alcohol and post-traumatic stress disorder clouded the expression of parental love, resulting in the severe upbringing of the author and her siblings. Chavez-Bernstein has crafted her coming-of-age tale in a profoundly insightful prose. This story is rich in pathos that can grip your heart with truthful tales of human interest. Love at first sight was as real as the disrupted lives in her parents’ generation during the Second World War, which blossomed again among those born in the following generation. In The Typhoon’s Eye is a memoir portraying the author’s young life and her courageous treatment of life’s adversities. Her perseverance, passion, relentless faith, and unbreakable love of family highlight this poignant story.

Two Powerful Addictions

Lewis Kempfer
Lewis Kempfer Author Interview

Don’t Mind Me, I’m Just Having a Bad Life is an emotional and engrossing memoir of your life. Why was this an important book for you to write?

My entire life I’ve been depressed and often referred to as a “sad sack.” I wanted to tell my story of two powerful addictions and recovering from them, but I wanted to follow the trail back to when the problems began. I didn’t expect to go back to age 4 as the first time I felt depressed and worthless. From there, the problems just snowballed through psychological abuse, self-esteem issues, broken relationships, and finally to sex and Crystal meth addiction.  

I appreciated the candid nature with which you told your story. What was the hardest thing for you to share in this memoir?

I was nervous about sharing the drug addiction as very few people knew I was going through that. As I state in the book, my employer, Disney, had no suspicions whatsoever. It was quite a feat to be a hardcore user and keep my job. I’m ashamed of myself for becoming an addict, but like the childhood abuse, I feel it was thrust upon me. And in the case with meth, it’s perhaps the most addictive drug and it truly only takes one hit to be hooked. 

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

I hope that readers will find hope in my story that recovery is possible. Yes, faith played a major role in my recovery, but as I tried to make clear, I was on a hit-or-miss basis with God my entire life. Some readers felt that my quitting meth cold turkey with God’s help made the book too “Jesus-y.” And that has been a turnoff for some LGBTQ readers. Conversely, Christian readers have been offended by the gay content. Apart from these two opposing camps, I just wanted to share hope. 

What is a piece of advice you wish someone had given you when you were younger?

I was given plenty of advice throughout my life like, “stop being depressed,” “just believe in yourself,” “have confidence,” “stop being so negative,” and so forth. What I wish I had been told was that none of the bad stuff in my childhood was my fault. Perhaps my story would not have included self-hatred, suicidal thoughts, and addiction. 

Author Links: Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads | Website

A horrifying childhood. A devastating disease. In his darkest despair, he finally found hope…

Lewis Kempfer nearly destroyed himself searching for something that would make him happy. His battle with self-hatred began with physical and psychological abuse from the trusted male adults in his life and continued into adulthood when the church rejected him for being gay. Traumatized and suicidal, his only salvation came from getting himself on stage.

Moving from city to city in search of fame and love, he lands in the dog-eat-dog-world of Hollywood showbiz. But a terrifying diagnosis casts a dark shadow on a promising Tinseltown career, and he falls into a downward spiral of dangerous liaisons and hardcore drug addiction. It will take a near-death overdose in his blackest hour to find strength from the last place he ever expected…

“Don’t Mind Me, I’m Just Having a Bad Life” is a raw, rapid-fire account of one man’s frightening journey to self-acceptance. From dicey sex clubs to crystal meth motels, Lewis holds nothing back in this bittersweet tell-all. His emotional tale of love, loss, and redemption will move anyone who’s ever felt alienated or outcast. It is a shockingly candid true-life story. If you like authentic narratives, stories of triumph, and surmounting the challenges of being LGBTQ, then you’ll be enthralled by Lewis Kempfer’s riveting memoir.

Literary Titan Book Awards April 2021

The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and we are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.

Gold Award Winners

Silver Award Winners

 

Visit the Literary Titan Book Awards page to see award information.

 

In The Typhoon’s Eye: a story of childhood and leaving home

In The Typhoon's Eye: a story of childhood and leaving home by [Bles Chavez-Bernstein]

In the Typhoon’s Eye by Bles Chavez-Bernstein is an impassioned memoir delineating the author’s difficult childhood, and how she overcame her circumstances to fulfill her dreams. Throughout the book, we find images of physical and emotional trauma and relentless struggle with poverty, portrayed from the viewpoint of an immigrant. This story is immensely powerful and unique in its own way. We see the author stick to her faith and how, with determination and perseverance, she goes on to become a mental health and addiction nursing specialist. 

This is an emotional coming-of-age story tracing the journey of the author from childhood to adulthood. The passage is tainted by alcohol abusing parent, post-war trauma, impoverished conditions at home, and numerous other adverse aspects. The pages are colored with the unique vibe of the author’s early days in Ocampo. The vivid description of these locations takes us through a mini tour of this distinct place and allows us to peek into the lives of a generation tarnished by the Second World War. 

The characters of the memoir are as authentic as they could get. The perspective of the author is the most predominant here, and at every stage of life, we can see her growing into a strong personality who doesn’t let her circumstances limit her goals. The story teaches readers to stay headstrong when life hits hard, and shows how to rise above these situations with sheer grit. Readers are bound to be inspired by the author’s dedication to her dreams and passions. Stories like these instill faith in the power of hard work, even when the world tries to pull us down. 

The language used throughout the book is simple but graceful, ensuring readers understand every bit of this observant memoir. The flow of ideas from one stage of the author’s life to another has been portrayed in a realistic manner. The passages are full of emotions and bear the sign of all the sacrifices the author had to make for having a troubled home and something as grave as the post-war depression engulfing her life. Her selfless love for family and commitment to her passion helped her move forward in life and ultimately led her to become successful on her own terms. 

The skilled handling of the setting, the characters, the storyline, and most importantly the message of inspiration communicated throughout the book makes In the Typhoon’s Eye a must-read.

Pages: 228 | ASIN: B08KQLV4Q7

Buy Now From B&N.com

My Ironman 70.3 Dream

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Swetha Amit Author Interview

A Turbulent Mind: My Journey to Ironman 70.3 shares your inspiring story that will encourage triathletes and motivate any reader. Why was this an important book for you to write?

When I visited India in September 2018, after finishing my first Ironman 70.3 race, I was asked numerous questions by people about open water swimming and what it takes to do a triathlon. Many expressed their fear towards water which prohibited them from even learning how to swim. There were others who were keen to participate in a triathlon someday. I could empathie with their concerns since I too had similar inhibitions. At that time, I decided to pen down my triathlon journey-how I overcame my fear of open water swimming and went on to do a grueling race like the Ironman 70.3 in a year’s time. Barring one or two, there weren’t too many books on triathlons written by Indians and that too by recreational athletes. My purpose of penning down this book was a way to reach out to other aspiring triathletes to inspire them to overcome their fears and reach their goal. Incidentally even non-runners or non-triathletes have managed to resonate with the book.

What is one piece of advice you wish someone had given you before training for a triathlon?

For a triathlon and especially Ironman 70.3 race, you end up doing two workouts in a day. At one point, I felt I had no time for anything else. I wish someone had advised me on how to balance your time between training and your personal and professional life.

I appreciated the candid nature with which you told your story. What were some moments that were important for you to share in this book?

Thank you. Yes, while writing memoir, it’s important to be honest and authentic. Only then will readers be able to relate and empathize with your journey. Some of the most important moments that I wanted to share in this book was the loneliness that I experienced in the Bay Area, particularly amidst the Business School community. The feelings of depression and loneliness was what steered me towards a triathlon in the first place. Another important moment was to write about my childhood fears, my first open water swim and my decision to almost give up my Ironman 70.3 dream. These were also hard to write as there was always this fear of what reads would think of me. Would I seem too whiny? At the end of the day, I am glad I wrote them as these were some of the important moments in my journey.

What are your future triathlon plans?

I will continue doing Olympic distances and Ironman 70.3 races. My ultimate goal is to do a full Ironman which is the 140.6 distance. Maybe in a couple of years down the line. My target race is Ironman California.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Sometimes in life, you are hit by an unexpected wave of change. A change that will forcibly stir you out of your cocooned comfort zone. You may face despair, loneliness and depression. This is not a dead end but just a test to rediscover yourself and unleash your inner potential.

I wasn’t ready to put myself through a gruelling training regime. At the same time I had to conquer my fear of swimming in open water and lay those inner demons to rest. When I completed my first Sprint distance Triathlon, I was elated. It motivated me to pursue this sport called Triathlon for which I developed passion over time. Ultimately, I followed my dream of crossing the finish line of the Ironman 70.3, to consider myself worthy of something.

For those of you who are thinking about getting into this sport, this book
will motivate you to take that plunge. And for the rest of us triathletes, you will find a part of yourself in the chapters of this book.

Happy reading and keep ‘Tri’-ing!
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