Blog Archives

Once Upon a Blog: Then and Now

Once Upon a Blog: Then and Now by [Hallmark, Shelley L.]

Shelley L. Hallmark began her blog after she published her first book back in 2011. Once Upon a Blog is a collection of those blog posts that share her struggles and how she remains positive. Hallmark is a single mother of a special needs child and writes short, positive, and honest accounts of her life. All of her posts share how she maneuvers life and the lessons she embraces along the way. Reading the blog posts provides a sense of connection, for the struggles you relate to and those you can’t, Hallmark is still giving her personal motives, hardships, and balance in a way that encourages the reader.

The book is well organized, laying out the blog posts with their dates and titles. Each post is easy to read but heartfelt. I found the book to be a beautiful read, the honesty of the author made this feel stronger, inviting readers to connect on a deeper level. To open up your life in this way is a brave and I appreciate the feeling of being let into someone’s world; like listening to a friend talk about their life. I truly loved the positivity that this book exudes even while discussing real life struggles that pull at the heartstrings. Hallmark writes in a way that makes the reader feel like she is writing to them, aned for them, which strengthens the connection between writer and reader. This book is a well written memoir of one woman’s life. It’s a memoir delivered over six years through blog posts, and compiled in this novel for easy consumption. I always appreciated the advice delivered as it was gentle, but still resonated with truth. I greatly enjoyed reading this book and feel like I have benefited from it. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a true story that is full of love, life, and wisdom.

Pages: 342 | ASIN: B07C2JZRK6

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Real Feelings and Emotions

Kim Nugent Author Interview

Kim Nugent Author Interview

Did I Say Never is the emotional journey you took when you became a step mother to a special needs child. What was the inspiration that made you want to put your experiences into a book?

Truthfully when I began to reflect on our journey, I just kept thinking I wish there had been a book to help me. If we can help one family or a teacher or a caregiver by sharing what we learned, it was worth putting pen to paper.

I appreciated your candor and openness in the story, and it helped me fully understand your struggle. Was there anything that was difficult for you to write about?

Yes, any time I had to write about Brooks being injured or going back to the hospital was painful even at an older age of consuming nuts and bolts at the sheltered workshop. It literally makes me cry.

Do you find that there is a common misconception people have about special needs children?

Maybe not common misconception but as far as we have come in the area of disabilities, we have a long way to go. People feel uncomfortable around people who are different from them so they tend to avoid getting to know them. Special needs children have real feelings and emotions but they may express them differently.

I felt like this book was about family, devotion, and working through struggles. What do you hope readers take away from your book?

First, I truly want readers to use the book as a resource guide and ponder the questions for their family to consider what is best for them. Second, I hope they look at the milestones proactively and develop a plan for what they want as a family. Third, look for the angels in your life that can help. Finally, realize you are not alone even though there will be many days you think you are all alone.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Did I Say Never?: A Stepparent's Emotional Journey with her Special Needs Son by [Nugent, Kim]

Dr. Kim Nugent is the best-selling author of Did I Say Never. Kim shares her personal 32 year spiritual journey, a true story, filled with sorrows and joys, challenges and tears that unfolded during her marriage and life as a step parent. The intention of the book is to provide ideas, questions, resources and heartfelt encouragement for parent’s to help their special needs child or adult so they achieve their full potential and improve the overall quality of their life.

Kim never thought she would marry again and for sure not to a man who had children.
Little did she know that her life would change –in unimaginable and dramatic ways, and this is where the story begins!

Did I Say Never is an emotional journey of love, frustration, and overwhelm. Kim step-by-step describes the details of each step she took on the path and talks about the Angels that appeared just at the right time to guide and uplift her.

While Kim does not have all the answers for you and your family, she knows the struggles, pains, joys and victories. Kim offers remarkable disability resources and questions for consideration for you, your family, teachers, and caregivers.

Have you ever felt completely lost, confused or extremely overwhelmed about what to do next with your disabled child or adult? Have you ever felt clueless as to what questions to ask next or what resources might be available to you? Then grab a copy and don’t let anyone stop you from “designing your life without limits”! Did I Say Never is a must read.

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Did I Say Never?

Did I Say Never?: A Stepparent’s Emotional Journey with her Special Needs Son by [Nugent, Kim]

Did I Say Never is the first-person account of one woman’s life as stepmother to a son with special needs and the many ways in which he has blessed her life. Kim Nugent’s open and honest recounting of Brooks’s struggles includes her introduction into his life, the battle to find facilities capable of meeting his needs, and her family’s own triumphs over even the smallest of Brooks’s accomplishments. Nugent writes poignantly regarding her stepson’s progress throughout the years and the dedication and persistence required to provide Brooks with the best possible carparee as he matures.

Life has a funny way of making us rethink all of our absolutes. Kim Nugent is no stranger to this phenomenon. Having declared she would never again marry and never needed to consider the ramifications of dating a man with children, Nugent finds herself falling headlong into a relationship with her soulmate–and his children. The author’s descriptions of her love for her stepchildren and the great lengths to which she has gone to fit successfully into the role of stepmother are raw and touching. Her experience is relatable, and she offers readers more than just a peek into the process which has dominated her life.

As a mother and a teacher, I can appreciate Nugent’s methodical approach to meeting her stepson’s needs and the joy experienced when he meets each milestone. The time, effort, and devotion she shows Brooks is astounding. Nugent shares with readers a step-by-step list of instructions for helping meet his needs. She, literally, leaves nothing unaddressed. From his most basic day-to-day needs to interpreting his attempts to communicate his feelings, Nugent takes into account any and every situation in which a caregiver or family member might need advice when dealing with her son. Her family’s pride and elation upon hearing Brooks’s first word is clear to the reader. You cannot help but smile as you read and feel the warmth emanating through Nugent’s words.

I highly recommend Did I Say Never to any parent of a child with special needs, any parent struggling to come to terms with a difficult diagnosis, or teachers seeking to better understand parents’ daily battles to maintain a daily routine while, at the same time, enriching their child’s life. Nugent offers something to readers most of us are incapable of imagining in regards to raising a child with special needs–the whole truth and nothing but. Parents and teachers alike will welcome the honest delivery and upbeat attitude from Nugent.

I am giving Did I Say Never, by Kim Nugent, 5 out of 5 stars. Watching Nugent on her journey of self-discovery and seeing her stepson overcome some truly overwhelming circumstances makes for a wonderful reading experience. Not to mention, Nugent provides readers with an extensive and meticulously detailed list of needs and behaviors helpful to any caregiver or family member.

Pages: 150 | ASIN: B071XDJZK6

Buy Now From Amazon.com

High School Life is a Tornado

S.L. Mauldin Author Interview

S.L. Mauldin Author Interview

Life Sliding follows Gavin, the popular kid in school, as he is sent to camp Lift Me Up to help special needs children. What served as your inspiration while you were writing this book?

Like myself, lots of teenagers experience alienation in their high school life, which is a challenging time of self discovery while navigating one’s way to adulthood. My inspiration is those in the trenches now and those who survived those years. Within the walls of education, there is so much more learning going on than just algebra. At times, high school life is a tornado. I believe most adults have forgotten what was at times, a nightmare. Trying to understand my experience as an outsider, I explored the story from the popular kid’s prospective, peeling back the layers to discover who he is underneath his vamped up exterior. Much later after my school years, I became friends with someone who was in the “in crowd” at my school. I discovered this person was not who I had imagined they were. As we find with Gavin, one never really knows what’s going on inside someone, the real person. How do people end up where they are positioned on the social ladder? Jacob expresses his thoughts on the matter to Gavin in a deep conversation at camp; Jacob understands.

What I found most interesting about Gavin was the slow emotional change he undergoes throughout the novel. What were some morals you wanted to capture while writing his character?

We live in a society that is highly judgmental and most are quick to come to a conclusion about someone without ever getting to know them. You can’t judge a book by its cover and you will certainly fall short trying to make a summation of someone by their looks, they way they dress or zip code they come from. If anything, we need more understanding.

Was there anything from your own life, in high school, that you put into this novel?

I was an outsider who experienced some of the issues mentioned in the story and simply observed others going through their own trials. Between algebra and biology, it’s all there – self-harm, bullying, relationships, sexuality, eating disorders, angst and so on, but mostly life happening.

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

My ya novel Always Here was just released in September 2017. I have an adult fiction novel tentatively titled Kudzu, which is in editing with no set release date and I am writing a New Adult novel titled Somebody Else.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebook | Website

Life Sliding by [Mauldin, S.L.]

As Gavin’s junior year comes to a close, he faces an inner conflict with his status as the most popular kid in high school. It’s not lost on his father, who sensed for some time that his overly indulged son needs redirection. Making matters worse for Gavin, his dad sends him away for the summer to assist at a camp for children with special needs.

Arriving at camp Life Me Up, Gavin is suddenly forced to dabble in a world less familiar. After his first uncomfortable encounter with a strange girl with multi-colored fingernails, who refuses to waiver his arrogant behavior, Gavin comes face to face with a person from the past, which leaves him uneasy.

Inevitably, three people clash and collide, but when tragedy strikes, they come to an understanding regarding their differences. Becoming a young adult, Gavin faces a summer of harsh lessons in reality. Once he crosses the bridge from a self-inflicted prison to the road to freedom, Gavin and his new friends implement a strategy to stir up the social order when they return to school in the fall.

Because of one jaded person jumping to conclusions, the plan backfires. Will they be able to survive the fallout of what they’ve put into motion?

Buy Now From Amazon.com

With Angel’s Wings

With Angel's Wings by [Collins, Stephanie A.]

With Angel’s Wings, by Stephanie Collins, is one mother’s raw and heart-wrenching account of her life with two daughters with special needs. Written as a third-person account with name changes, the author describes each and every obstacle encountered as she struggled to come to terms with her daughters’ challenges while simultaneously dealing with a long string of physicians, specialists, and therapists. Laura, as the author calls the young mother, fights an uphill battle from the moment she is told her days-old infant has a heart defect–the first of many. While facing a seemingly unending barrage of personal hurdles, Laura somehow learns to cope with the endless physical and emotional demands placed upon her family by tiny Hannah’s diagnosis of Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome.

This author’s life story as a work of fiction is almost indescribable. I do not believe I have ever read a book that kept me as breathless and as anxious as this one. Laura’s laundry list of traumatic events ranging from her newborn’s purple feet and hands to her seizures lasting for hours on end is mentally exhausting to read. Her life is so full of twists and turns and drama surrounding Hannah’s diagnosis and subsequent health scares, the author has no need to embellish with flowery language and lengthy stretches of narrative. There is, literally, no room or time left to dress up her text. This book reads as a journal of heartache peppered with true love.

Collins is honest and open with her feelings about her daughters’ diagnoses. As Laura, she sugarcoats nothing. As strong as she is, Laura reveals her vulnerability as an overwhelmed young mother. The reader aches to watch her contemplate, time and again, a way out. Her frustration as a parent fighting her way through the healthcare system is one with which many readers will be able to relate. In addition to her day-to-day battle with fevers, seizures, hospital visits, and mounting financial woes, Laura faces the virtually indescribable audacity of an ex-husband who lacks not only both sympathy and empathy but a soul, as well.

As a parent and a teacher, I have never read a more authentic and touching account of life as a mother or a more revealing account of what caring for a child with special needs truly entails. Emily’s early signs of autism hit home with me as a teacher. No one knows the struggle of helping a child on the autism spectrum like a parent. Laura begins accommodating for Emily’s needs long before her diagnosis. She modifies, plans, and tries to remain several steps ahead of meltdowns from early on in Emily’s life. Parents of children with autism will appreciate reading about the way Laura intricately weaves a web of plans on a daily basis to compensate for Emily’s developmental delays.

Though the book is primarily focused on the battle to save Hannah and come to grips with her many needs, the author does a beautiful job of illustrating the relationship Laura develops with Daniel. Daniel, the one shining light in her darkest days, is a rather unlikely saviour. Their love, apparent from early in their friendship, is one that only intensifies through the rigors of identifying and finding ways of successfully coping with all Emily and Hannah’s needs.

There aren’t any options for stars beyond 5, so I am restricted to giving With Angel’s Wings 5 out of 5 stars. The author’s life story, now Laura and Daniel’s as well, is an absolute must-read for any parent, teacher, or caregiver of a child with special needs. There is a love like no other born out of a relationship with these children, and Stephanie Collins has handed readers everywhere the key to unlock hearts and minds and build a better understanding of the struggles faced by many of our family members and friends who have children with special needs living lives like Laura’s.

Pages: 304 | ASIN: B01DL9AXAI

Buy Now From Amazon.com

%d bloggers like this: