Meet The Author

Meet The Author: Interview with Judith Halbreich

Judith Halbreich is the author of “The Audacity to be Divine: A Soul’s Journey Towards Illumination.” She is also a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and psychotherapist with an extensive, successful executive career in Social Services, Clinical Research, and mental Health. She is the founder and CEO of Home of Champions (HOC), a unique nonprofit program that exists to inspire leaders emerging from the foster care system to become champions of their best selves. When Judith is not devoting her time to HOC, you can find her making a delicious tagine and dancing salsa in her living room.

Q: What is the strongest, most compelling message of your book?

A: The book describes the spiritual awakening of a divorced woman who experienced hardships which led her to a spiritual transformation with a path to a higher stage of consciousness and soul awareness.  How we all struggle to get out of the cocoon and break through the chrysalis to become a butterfly. Through Mary’s life, the book offers a glimpse of the extraordinary life that awaits us as the soul awakens and a new life unfolds.

Q: What is the book about?

A: The story tells how a working-class daughter of Italian immigrants, who idolized her grandmother, had to deal with an alcoholic father, childlike mother, and unfaithful husband. After a series of setbacks and considerable losses, Mary loses her sense of God, which had otherwise been a kind of cultural piety based on a grandmother’s commitment to service in the community. Mary, however, begins the process of rediscovering her faith through centering prayer and the Christian meditative tradition in general. This leads her, ultimately, to what will be the defining work of her life: the foundation of Chrysalis House as an intentional community committed to teaching others centering prayer and the Christian meditative tradition. Ultimately, Mary, who will be foundational to Contemplative Outreach, moves at the very end of her life beyond Contemplative Outreach and institutionalism itself.

Q:  What inspired you to write the book

A: During the funeral my mother’s friend, Al Choy, whispered in my ear, “you really ought to write a book about her.”  Thomas Keating said, “ Yes, you have all the material you need.” I watched my mother’s metamorphosis as a struggling single mother into a God realized-saint  and spiritual leader intimately.  It is true that we can all realize our connection to the divine through spiritual practices.  I believe my mother’s story is so important for all of us especially during these trying times.

Q: How can we apply the message of the book to our everyday life?/ Why is the book so timely right now given our current climate?   

A: The times we now live in have made living even more difficult with the increased anxiety around and in us. One wonders if contact with the Divine or even calmness is even possible? It is with a spiritual practice that connects us with our inheritance and the divine connection.  It gives us the message for everyday life that we, too can rise about the crisis and anxiety once we let go and surrender to God and have a spiritual practice.

About The Book

 

“Do you want to be right or do you want to be free?”

– Mary Mrozowski

Mary Mrozowski was a quintessential New York housewife living in the depth of despair. Bearing the secret of her family’s tumultuous past, Mary reclaimed her truth and strove for redemption against all odds — transcending as a social activist, international organizer, and spiritual leader for the masses.

Mary was able to transcend worlds. Having integrated Christian modalities with Eastern philosophies, she established a lay monastic house of contemplation called “Chrysalis House.” She mingled as an equal with spiritual and religious leaders, companions and strangers. As her teachings led her across five continents, thousands followed, considering her a modern-day saint, role model for transformation, and sage for self-fulfillment.

Seeking truth was her religion. Amidst a sea of neutrally-dressed spiritual leaders, out would walk Mary – a vision in a bold red dress and heels. She did not fit in and she did not want to — she was embraced by those who found solace in her relatability and charisma beyond measure.

“The Audacity To Be Divine” is a groundbreaking, compelling and inspirational book about the arduous journey towards transformation and illumination.

Purchasing Details: The Audacity to be Divine” is available to purchase on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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Meet The Author

Meet The Author: Interview with Margaret Dulaney

Stopping by Authors & Readers  Book  Corner  today is Margaret Dulaney a playwright and essayist, and founder of the spoken word website Listenwell.org Culled from a lifetime’s study of the ancients and mystics of all traditions, Margaret’s writings employ the ideas of Emerson, Lao Tzu, Hafiz, George MacDonald, Richard Rohr, Emanuel Swedenborg, Lorna Byrne, Marcus Aurelius, Shakespeare, Rudolph Steiner and many others.

In 2010 Margaret founded the open faith, spoken word website ListenWell.Org. Each month Listen Well posts one ten-minute, professionally recorded essay designed to puzzle out a spiritual theme through story and metaphor. Listeners vary from practicing Buddhists to open-minded Christians, from those struggling to find a working tradition to those who are happy with their practice. Margaret records her writings at Maggie’s Farm recording studios in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

Let’s  get to know Margaret Dulaney:

Q: Your book, The Parables of Sunlight, is a memoir that revolves around a farm, and an injured horse. Why did you choose to write about this?

MARGARET DULANEY: I chose this story because I wanted to explore the theme of the battle between hope and despair. The story is from a period in my middle years when my husband and I took ownership of a neglected farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The central figure in the book is an abandoned and injured horse whose life hangs in the balance for many months. At the time this mirrored other battles of a similar intensity in other facets of my life, my mother for instance, who was in a battle with late stage Alzheimer’s disease. I hope the book touches on a universal theme, one to which many can relate.

Q: Have you drawn any conclusions from your exploration of this subject?

DULANEY: I think we go wrong when we say of any situation, “This shouldn’t be happening.” It is happening, and we must find our way through. I suspect that our greatest work is in our willingness to walk alongside one another through difficult passages. The metaphor of my walking alongside my horse through months and months of rehabilitation had a formative and lasting effect on me.

Q: What would you say it was that you learned?

DULANEY: I think it was a lesson in the great arts of hope and perseverance. I am in the business of hope. This is what I try and offer my listeners who visit Listen Well every month. Hope isn’t a luxury; it is a necessity. Like water, we cannot live without hope. Perseverance, however, is something that we can take up or toss away at any time. The choice is ours. The issue is, so little is accomplished without some sort of stick-to-it-ness. Most good things, most goals, most efforts to change require a measure of perseverance. Before this period in my life I didn’t see the true value of this quality, I was too willing to give up.

Q: But how can you tell if you are persevering in the right direction? Might you be fighting for something that is not worth your fighting for?

DULANEY: I understand this dilemma. Maybe the best way to distinguish whether a choice is right for you or not is if it brings you life. We’re given choices every day to either embrace life or turn from life. Some choices bring us more passion for our lives and others block our life force. Do not confuse this with right and wrong, yes or no. Sometimes a “no” can be life-affirming, a “yes” can be life-denying. No, I don’t want that third Scotch, yes, I do need to leave this corrosive relationship. Sometimes the choices take a good deal of study before they can be decided upon, but most of us have an intuitive understanding of what will bring us life and what will not.

Q: You use the metaphor of a good teacher to illustrate this guidance. Why did you choose this?

DULANEY: I hoped to focus and solidify the idea of divine aid. Everyone will experience this a little differently. The ways in which others experience the divine are intriguing to me. I love people’s stories of transcendence and guidance.

Q: Your book is filled with stories involving animals. What is your connection to animals?

DULANEY: I have always felt that the animal kingdom has much to teach us. A flock of birds for instance, with its ability to fly in unison, as if they shared one mind, is a beautiful metaphor, never satisfactorily explained by science. If we have guidance from above, which I heartily believe we do, then an animal is a perfect tool of manipulation. My dogs have introduced me to some of my closest friends. My horse has the ability to deliver a sense of peace to me unlike any other. There is much that is mystical about our connection to the animals.

Q: Is there anything that you learned by your exploration of the battle between hope and despair that surprised you.

DULANEY: I suspect that most of us, if we could see our past as the heavenly beings do, would be astonished at the measure of hope we carry through life. We would be amazed at our courage, the perseverance we have shown. I know that before I wrote this book, I believed that I was far too ready to throw in the towel and give up, but looking at my history I can see the thread of hope woven through my story. I encourage everyone to try and look for this thread. It is always there.

About The Book  

Purchase at Amazon.com  

The Parables of Sunlight follows author Margaret Dulaney as she adjusts to her new life of farm ownership, and the questionable gift of an abandoned racehorse, whose life hangs in the balance for half a year. At the time, this struggle mirrored others of a similar intensity in Dulaney’s life, such as her mother’s battle with late stage Alzheimer’s disease. The story illustrates the powerful resilience of hope and offers an antidote for cynicism, countering the temptation to give up. Readers will find resonance with their own battles, and the need for perseverance in the face of despair. 

The Parables of Sunlight beautifully weaves in Dulaney’s metaphor of the good, unseen teacher – or the concept of divine guidance – employing the image of a figure who acts with an intimate interest in all our choices, a source of wisdom which is available to everyone, encouraging us to persevere, choose more life, more hope and more courage.

The Parables of Sunlight will appeal to anyone who has ever loved an animal, a patch of land, or a community of loving souls. Imagine if Anne Lamott wrote Charlotte’s Web. Graced with the gorgeous interior illustrations by nationally recognized illustrator, Glenn Harrington, the book is a feast for the eyes as well as the soul.

Learn more about Margaret Dulaney at www.listenwell.org and connect with her on Facebook

Meet The Author

Meet The Author: Interview with Nick Haskins

Stopping by Authors & Readers Book Corner today is Nick Haskins is the author of On the Edge of Heat, Jamal, My Husband’s Wife, Betrayed and his latest novel, She’s Obsessed. Nick was born and raised in Toledo, Ohio where he currently resides. After years of aspiring to become a film and TV writer, he began to shape his creative dreams and released his first book in 2011. Nick has been actively working on building his catalog of work, and readership, with plans to become a full-time writer.

Q & A with Nick Haskins

A&RBC: How did you get started in the publishing industry?

NH: I started writing stories when I was very young. I stopped for many years until I fumbled across a Mary B. Morrison book. From there, I became fascinated with her work, and others, and wanted to entertain readers the way they entertained me.

A&RBC: I know you were originally going into filming, will you be going back to it? Or do you feel writing books are a better fit for you?

NH: I hope to migrate to TV and film in the future. I’m working on a script right now for a new series I would love to bring to life. That is a big goal I’ve set for myself as a writer that I’m ready to strive to achieve.

A&RBC: What do you love most about being an author?

NH: I love that I’m able to create stories with characters, and plots, and cliffhangers, and a crazy ending—just like the writers I admire—and actually be able to entertain people that I don’t know with something that came solely from me. That is the highest point of being an author.

A&RBC: What has been your biggest challenge as an author?

NH: My biggest challenge as an author has been building an audience. I’ve always been told by family and friends that I was a good writer, so when I first started putting out books I thought I would have massive amounts of readers that would flock to my work just because I was told it was good. I later found out that’s not how it goes.

A&RBC: You are releasing your fourth novel, She’s Obsessed, what or who was the inspiration behind this particular book?

NH: My main inspiration behind She’s Obsessed was to show my readers a different side of my writing style. I wrote my other books based on how I thought I should write if I wanted to be a fiction writer. With my new book, I just went for it, kicked down all of the restrictions and doubts, and wrote it how I wanted it to come out.

A&RBC: Tell us about Leah and Jace.

NH: Jace is a good man, that turned into Leah’s loving great husband, but not before he cheats on her with the stripper from his bachelor party the night before their wedding and records it, but later deletes it. Leah is a no-nonsense chick that’s ready to slice up her new husband after she finds his deleted mistake. Fueled by drugs, emotions, and obsession, Leah takes it too far with Jace and the girl from the video.

A&RBC:  How do you approach researching topics for your books?

NH: Google is my best friend when I’m writing. For She’s Obsessed, I called on my sister, Myranda, a lot since she is the same age as the characters.

A&RBC: Do you usually base your books in cities you live in or have visited?

NH: No, but I would LOVE to visit LA, Potomac, Anchorage, or Chicago.

A&RBC: If you can express your writing style in three to four words, what would they be?

NH: Love. Passion. Drama. Heartbreak.

A&RBC: What new projects can readers expect from you?

NH: I would like my readers to keep their fingers crossed for me that I can birth a new TV series for them.

A&RBC: Where can readers find you?

NH: Please visit my website www.nickhaskinsbooks.com, like my author Facebook page (@iamnickhaskins), and follow me on Instagram & twitter @iamnickhaskins

 

About The Book

In the suburbs of Chicago, Jayceon and Leah were all set to start their new lives together as husband and wife. In Jace, Leah thought she married the perfect man until she accidentally stumbles across his deleted secret that quickly turns her sanity, and their marriage, upside down.

The night before Jayceon marries Leah, he hits the record button on his iPhone when the curvaceous dancer—Jessica Fox—from his bachelor party makes her way back to his hotel suite. Soon after, the nasty recorded mistake comes back to haunt Jace, and the stripper, in the worst way possible.

The life Leah planned with Jace rapidly spins out of control when she becomes obsessed with the X-rated video, and the girl in it. Leah will do whatever it takes to right her new husbands wrong, even if it means getting rid of Jessica Fox for good . . .

Purchase at Amazon B&N/ Kobo/ Apple

Meet The Author

Meet The Author: Interview with Elisabeth Amaral

Stopping by Authors & Readers Book Corner is Author Elisabeth Amaral. She has designed jewelry, co-owned a children’s boutique and a restaurant in Cambridge, and was a Manhattan real estate broker for twenty years. In addition to A Vanishing in Greenwich Village, she is the author of Czar Nicholas, The Toad and Duck Soup: A Memoir of Marriage, Mime and Moving On ,2015; and the short story collection When Any Kind of Love Will Do, 2007.  In June of 2019 she started a monthly reading afternoon for seasoned and new writers. She lives with her husband in the Chelsea area of Manhattan. Let’s learn more about her characters and the inspiration behind her new book.

Q & A with Elisabeth Amaral

What inspired you to write A Vanishing in Greenwich Village?
I was a real estate broker for twenty years and loved it, especially during the nineties. It was a special time to be a downtown broker then. Years later I saw a breathtaking view from a room in the former St. Vincent’s Hospital. So a beautiful view of Greenwich Village inspired the story.

How long did it take you to write the book and create the characters?

The book took almost ten years on and off. In between I wrote my memoir, Czar Nicholas, The Toad, and Duck Soup. I didn’t create the characters, aside from the protagonist. There was never a doubt that Ellie Allington would be a broker living in a brownstone in the Village. She became my best friend. Meeting the other characters was like a surprise party where people showed up and over time I got to know them.

This is your third book. Tell us about your other two books.
“When Any Kind of Love Will Do” was written during a particularly dark time in my life when I lost my father and others close to me. The stories are rather disturbing. I enjoyed writing the depraved parts, laughing as I read them aloud to my husband. He was horrified. My memoir, “Czar Nicholas, The Toad, and Duck Soup” was published in 2014. It covered marriage to mime to jewelry-making to owning a restaurant and a children’s boutique in Cambridge during turbulent, freedom-loving times of the late 60’s and early 70’s. I also wrote two children’s books, one for my son and one for my granddaughter.

Your main character, Ellie, is a very introspective person. What would you like readers to learn from her?
To take happiness when it’s offered.

What do you think readers need to understand about Valeria?

She was certainly a mysterious woman. She was as flawed as she was beautiful. She wanted and tried to live as normal a life as
her damaged youth allowed.

Was it important to the storyline that the romantic interest in the book be a
retired Detective?
At first it seemed important, before the book changed direction. By that time I also had a crush on my detective-turned-academic. The book is not at all political, but I am. My cop is a good guy.

Your book takes place in NY where you have lived and worked for the better
part of your life. What is your favorite place in NYC?
Far West Village and the streets of the Meatpacking District.

Do you have any other books in the wings?
Maybe another short story collection. The ideas are starting to percolate. Watch out!

What do you like to do when you are not creating romance novels?
The book didn’t start out as a romance. That part just happened. I’m a romantic at heart (not the gushy kind) so I guess it was inevitable how the story finally fell into place. But to answer the question, I like to walk, love to read, and listen to Chopin and Maria Callas.
I started a monthly reading series for writers in June of 2019. It began in a bar south of Penn Station and moved to Otto’s Shrunken Head in the East Village, though for now it’s a Zoom reading. I used to play tennis until something happened to one of my big toes, so
that’s that. It was sad. I also love to travel.

Do you have any advice for young writers or those who have always dreamed
about writing a book?

Read a lot, but if you’re in school, do your schoolwork first. Carry a notepad and pen with you, keep it by your bed at night. Write down thoughts, images that touch you, your feelings. They will be there for you when you start writing that book. Don’t be afraid to
go deep. Writing can be the most freeing experience in the world. It can also be lonely, but don’t let that stop you.

Who do you admire most as an author?
I love Philip Kerr’s Bernie Gunther series, Jim Thompson, Andrew Vachss, Taylor Stevens, Lee Child, Patrick Modiano, Alan Furst, Elena Ferrante. I love true survival and natural disaster books -The Blizzard of ’88, The Children’s Blizzard, Isaac’s Storm. I like to read
about ex-pats who started new lives in foreign countries. Also, memoirs by chefs. I remember moods more than words, but there are those times when a sentence stops me cold and I read it over and over again. A sentence can be a marvel.

Tell us a little bit more about your background.
I was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Long Island and New Jersey. I graduated NYU with a degree in Anthropology. Very useful. My husband, infant son and I left the East Village for Boston so my husband could join a mime troupe. We made large, beaded earrings
and sold them in Harvard Square, which somehow led to our opening an upscale children’s boutique, Czar Nicholas and The Toad. Then we opened Duck Soup, a restaurant in Harvard Square. Fun years. There was another marriage with lots of soccer. When my son and I moved back to the city in the eighties I became a real estate broker, which I loved doing for twenty years. I remarried, this time to a mensch. We live in Chelsea.

Where can readers find you?

Visit her online at www.elisabethamaral.com.

Connect with her via

Facebook link: @elisabethamaralnyc
LinkedIn:  @lizamaralwriter

ABOUT THE BOOK

In this real-life romance novel, real estate agent Ellie is fed up with her husband’s infidelity and strikes up a passionate relationship with a handsome retired detective. At the same time, she begins an ill-fated friendship with the mysterious Valeria and gets drawn into the web of her friend’s troubled past.  This novel reads like a real-life conversation between two friends and will quickly draw the reader in.

A real estate broker for over twenty years in New York City and a native New Yorker,  Elisabeth‘s story takes the reader to familiar haunts in NYC’s downtown neighborhoods – from Greenwich Village to Chelsea to the Meat Packing District and Hudson Yards — giving the book a genuine authenticity for those who can’t get enough of the allure of New York’s residential West Side.

Purchase at Amazon.com