Elizabeth’s Thoughts

Book Tour Update

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There are many rewarding moments in a writers life, yet one of the high points in the process of writing a book is getting the opportunity to talk to readers face to face. I’ve just returned from a weeklong book tour to Massachusetts and Virginia where I had the chance to meet a few of my readers. It was wonderful.

I was very fortunate to be able to use the beautiful event space at the Tatnuck Bookseller since we had a good size crowd dropping in and out all afternoon. Of all the events during the week, this first stop was the only one where I actually stood behind a podium and talked. I read for a few minutes then answered questions for about an hour. A friend tried taping the conversation with mixed results, but if you’d like a taste of how the afternoon went – take a glimpse at this video.

The second stop in Massachusetts was the Shrewsbury Public Library. This was a much more intimate event. I spent a half hour chatting with a lovely woman who had seen an article about me in the local newspaper.  We talked about my books for a while, then moved on to books in general. It was great. Later on, two little kids came to the library to meet a “real author.” They were adorable. We talked about their school and the books they like to read and were excited when I offered to sign bookmarks for them.

The highlight of the trip though, was talking to the Martha Circle at the church I grew up in. Many of the ladies were retired teachers so after I talked a little about my books, we had a wonderful conversation about my education and the role my English teachers played in my early life. I even got the chance to pick their brains about town history for one of the books I am currently working on.

The last stop of the week was at Fountain Bookstore. If you are ever in Richmond, VA I recommend you drop by this adorable bookstore. It is locate on a quaint brick lined street and has an incredible staff. I spent a relaxed afternoon talking to the people that wandered in and out of the store and had a fun afternoon. It was a good way to end a long week of travel.

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On Hearing Of My Mother’s Death Six Years After It Happened – review

Last week I introduced you to Lori Schafer when she guest posted here. Today, I’d like to talk about how much I enjoyed her touching memoir. On Hearing Of My Mother’s Death Six Years After It Happened is a raw unsentimental memoir of a young life shattered by her mother’s mental illness. It is the tale of the loneliness and emptiness inherent in having a mentally ill parent. Schafer obviously felt compassion for her mom and could remember when the family had happier times.

Lori Schafer does not indulge in blaming or go on angry tirades, although she had much to be angry about. She tells the story of how ‘Judy Green Hair’ became increasingly paranoid and unpredictable throughout her adolescence and her eventual escape from her family situation in a straightforward style that broke my heart with its poignance. In the end, Lori Schafer’s story is a tale of resilience and strength in the face of overwhelming odds.

There were several times while I was reading this book that I wanted to go to Lori and give her a hug. I wished I could have comforted teenaged Lori and found a way to help young adult Lori when she was all alone in the world. The sections about Lori’s life in Berkeley were difficult to read because they made me weep for a young woman so alone in the world. It helped to see glimpses of the strong adult Lori would eventually become throughout the narrative.

On Hearing Of My Mother’s Death Six Years After It Happened is a remarkably fast read. I read it in one sitting. Schafer breaks up the narrative of her life with short stories and essays that mirror her own experience. They felt a bit discordant at first, but I quickly saw how the short interruptions in Lori’s story were like the digressions of an unwell mind – slightly ajar yet completely relevant.


Mother's Death Front Flyer

On Hearing of My Mother’s Death Six Years After It Happened: A Daughter’s Memoir of Mental Illness

It was the spring of 1989. I was sixteen years old, a junior in high school and an honors student. I had what every teenager wants: a stable family, a nice home in the suburbs, a great group of friends, big plans for my future, and no reason to believe that any of that would ever change. Then came my mother’s psychosis. I experienced first-hand the terror of watching someone I loved transform into a monster, the terror of discovering that I was to be her primary victim. For years I’ve lived with the sadness of knowing that she, too, was a helpless victim – a victim of a terrible disease that consumed and destroyed the strong and caring woman I had once called Mom. My mother’s illness took everything. My family, my home, my friends, my future. A year and a half later I would be living alone on the street on the other side of the country, wondering whether I could even survive on my own. But I did. That was how my mother – my real mother – raised me. To survive. She, too, was a survivor. It wasn’t until last year that I learned that she had died – in 2007. No one will ever know her side of the story now. But perhaps, at last, it’s time for me to tell mine. On Hearing of My Mother’s Death Six Years After It Happened is now available in eBook and paperback from Amazon. The audiobook, which Lori narrated, is also forthcoming.

???????????????????????????????Author Bio Lori Schafer’s flash fiction, short stories, and essays have appeared in numerous print and online publications, and her first two books were published this November. On Hearing of My Mother’s Death Six Years After It Happened: A Daughter’s Memoir of Mental Illness commemorates Lori’s terrifying adolescent experience of her mother’s psychosis, while Stories from My Memory-Shelf: Fiction and Essays from My Past is an autobiographical collection featuring stories and essays inspired by other events from Lori’s own life. In the summer of 2014, Lori began work on a second memoir, The Long Road Home, during the course of a solo two-month-long journey across the United States and Canada. She anticipates that it will be ready for publication late in 2015. When she isn’t writing (which isn’t often), Lori enjoys playing ice hockey, attending beer festivals, and spending long afternoons reading at the beach in the sunshine. For further information on Lori’s upcoming projects, please visit her website at http://lorilschafer.com/.


On a personal note – I am heading out on a short book tour this week. If you are in MA or VA, drop by one of the events and introduce yourself. I would love to chat.

  • November 16, 1:00-3:00, Tatnuck Bookseller, 18 Lyman St, Westborough, MA
  • November 18, 7:00-8:00, Shrewsbury Public Library, 214 Lake Street, Shrewsbury, MA
  • November 18, 2:00-8:00, Women’s Fiction Writers Association book launch celebration, online
  • November 22, 3:30-5:00, Fountain Bookstore, 1312 E. Cary Street Shockoe Slip, Richmond, VA

Guest Post with Lori Schafer

It is my honor to host Lori Schafer today. Her memoir, On Hearing of My Mother’s Death Six Years After It Happened, is being released today. I was fortunate enough to receive an advanced copy and will be posting a review next week. Lori writes about a subject close to my heart – the effect of mental illness of the family. My extended family has been touched by several different forms of mental illness so I appreciate the struggles that Lori endured. Well, without any further delay, here is Lori Schafer.


 Thank You: An Open Letter to Those Who Stood By Me During My Mom’s Mental Illness

Dear Friends from My Youth,

Next June will mark the twenty-fifth year since our graduation – the twenty-fifth anniversary of the day I left home.
Some of you I have not seen in those twenty-five years. Some, I fear, I won’t see again. I’ve never been one for reunions or for keeping in touch, yet you might be surprised at how often I think of you still. Lately my memories of you have drawn even nearer to the forefront of my mind, as I think back on the day that I ran away – as I think back on all the other days when I wished that I had.

In the spring of last year, I learned that my mother had died, six years before, in 2007. In the months that have passed since, I’ve written a book: On Hearing of My Mother’s Death Six Years After It Happened: A Daughter’s Memoir of Mental Illness.

I know that to you I don’t need to explain; that I don’t need to tell you why I say mental illness, and that you’ll understand fully why it took so long for me to hear of her death. And perhaps you’ll understand, too, why I think of you now more than I have in two decades; why I’m writing this letter years after you should have received it.

We were all of us helpless during Mom’s mental illness, adolescents with limited experience and limited resources. There was little we could do to manage my personal situation, and nothing we could have done to manage my mother’s psychosis. Yet each of you did something, some small thing, perhaps, to ease my distress and lessen my pain. Each of you, in your own small way, helped me escape, helped me move on, helped me survive.

So to you, Maria, my long-time chum, I want to say thank you. For letting me call you at midnight when I got too lonely to stand it; for letting me talk and also letting me listen. For persuading your parents to permit me to use your phone number on my college applications, so that Mom didn’t have to know everywhere I’d applied. Maybe it didn’t seem like much to have done to help out a friend. But it got me my scholarship, and that salvaged my life.

To you, Karina, let me also say thank you. For helping me plan and then helping me move; for corralling our dog back into the house while I was frantically packing, for knowing that even in that desperate hour I wouldn’t have wanted him to get hurt or get hit. For being my friend in spite of what anyone thought; for never giving a damn what anyone thought. For that, Karina, I thank you.

George, my former friend, my later lover, how can I thank you? You did so little, and yet so very much. You came when I called. You’ve always come when I called. I think you still would.

Josh, my old friend Josh. What a wonderful time we had while Mom was insane! For so long you were my sole solace, my sole support, my sole source of happiness. I’ll never understand why Mom, even in the depths of her dementia, took such a shine to you and your charms; why her suspicions never turned upon you as they did the rest of our friends. You were the only person, kid or adult, that she would still allow into our house, and what a dreary, depressing place it must have been for a cheerful and energetic young man to enter time and again. Yet you did. Week after week and day after day, you came and kept me company, kept me alive, kept me sane. You perhaps can’t imagine how much I looked forward to your visits, or how often I’ve wondered what impelled you to make them. Or how hard it hit me when they finally came to an end, when even your most good-natured arrows could no longer pierce my mother’s thick armor. Yet the light of your smile, that you shone upon me and that you even shone upon her, lightened my burden and smoothed my transition. Those afternoons that we spent side by side were the most precious gift I had ever received. I thank you for giving them to me. I will never forget them.

Jesse, sweet Jesse. Quiet and shy, lacking, like me, even a license, you weren’t well-prepared to swoop in like a knight and come to my rescue. No, you weren’t able to take me away – but you never went away, either. You continued to love when there was no reason to love; you continued to wait when the waiting seemed without end. You were there when I emerged, blinking hard against the sun now burning my eyes, and you were there when I sank again into black pits of despair. There were times when I couldn’t have counted the days since I last saw you – and there were more when I didn’t want to count those that would pass before I saw you again. But I knew that however many had passed, and however many more would, you would still be waiting, and that was everything to me. Thank you, Jesse. Thank you for being with me.
And thank you, friends, for listening and for reading my letter. I know that we may never again meet, and may never again speak. I know that you’ll understand why I haven’t written you sooner, and why I won’t ever write you again. And I know, too, that you’ll forgive me for so long maintaining my silence. Because what’s a mere twenty-five years between friends?

Forever yours,
Lori


Mother's Death Front Flyer

On Hearing of My Mother’s Death Six Years After It Happened: A Daughter’s Memoir of Mental Illness
It was the spring of 1989. I was sixteen years old, a junior in high school and an honors student. I had what every teenager wants: a stable family, a nice home in the suburbs, a great group of friends, big plans for my future, and no reason to believe that any of that would ever change.
Then came my mother’s psychosis.
I experienced first-hand the terror of watching someone I loved transform into a monster, the terror of discovering that I was to be her primary victim. For years I’ve lived with the sadness of knowing that she, too, was a helpless victim – a victim of a terrible disease that consumed and destroyed the strong and caring woman I had once called Mom.
My mother’s illness took everything. My family, my home, my friends, my future. A year and a half later I would be living alone on the street on the other side of the country, wondering whether I could even survive on my own.
But I did. That was how my mother – my real mother – raised me. To survive.
She, too, was a survivor. It wasn’t until last year that I learned that she had died – in 2007. No one will ever know her side of the story now. But perhaps, at last, it’s time for me to tell mine.

On Hearing of My Mother’s Death Six Years After It Happened is now available in eBook and paperback from Amazon. The audiobook, which Lori narrated, is also forthcoming.

???????????????????????????????Author Bio
Lori Schafer’s flash fiction, short stories, and essays have appeared in numerous print and online publications, and her first two books were published this November. On Hearing of My Mother’s Death Six Years After It Happened: A Daughter’s Memoir of Mental Illness commemorates Lori’s terrifying adolescent experience of her mother’s psychosis, while Stories from My Memory-Shelf: Fiction and Essays from My Past is an autobiographical collection featuring stories and essays inspired by other events from Lori’s own life. In the summer of 2014, Lori began work on a second memoir, The Long Road Home, during the course of a solo two-month-long journey across the United States and Canada. She anticipates that it will be ready for publication late in 2015.
When she isn’t writing (which isn’t often), Lori enjoys playing ice hockey, attending beer festivals, and spending long afternoons reading at the beach in the sunshine. For further information on Lori’s upcoming projects, please visit her website at http://lorilschafer.com/.

Author Interview: Behind The Scenes with Elizabeth Hein

It was an honor to be interviewed by Maggie on Just Get It Written about my writing process and about my latest book.

Just Get It Written

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I’m thrilled to have Elizabeth Hein with me today for this edition of Behind The Scenes. Her latest novel, How to Climb the Eiffel Tower, follows the journey of Lara as she goes through cancer treatment, and in the process, learns how to live.

1. Tell us a bit about your writing journey. How did you get started, and how did you get to where you are now?

Before I ever sat down at my keyboard to write, I was a reader. I was that little girl that always had a book in her hand. It wasn’t until I had lived a little that I considered sharing the stories in my head with the world. When I first sat down to write, I intended to put together a series of essays based on my experiences as a cancer patient. It was awful – dry, maudlin, a bit academic…

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Is reading romance novels a feminist activity?

Monday night, Summer Kinard and I went to the first in a lecture series at Duke University about Women, Fiction & Popular Perception. It was a thought provoking evening full of excellent scholarship. If you are in the central NC area, I highly recommend you check the series out and attend.

In her comments, Maya Rodale spoke about how as a young academic, she read “serious” books and thought of romance novels as “unsuitable” or less than appropriate for an educated feminist until her mom pushed her to read a few romances before declaring she didn’t like them. Apparently, that suggestion changed Maya’s academic path because she now studies the genre and writes romance.

Which brings me to what I wanted to talk to you all about today – Is reading romance novels a feminist activity?

I have to admit, until I attended this lecture, I would not have put those two concepts together. I definitely was trained to consider romance novels as fluffy and somehow unimportant. During the lecture, several of the women talked about how their mothers would keep their romance collections hidden away in the bedroom or, now with the advent of ereaders, locked away in a device. That was not my experience. There were no romance novels in my home growing up. I once took a few Harlequins out of the library and my mom teased me so mercilessly about reading fluff, I took them back. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good romantic yarn but I have experienced a sense of shame for “wasting” my valuable time reading them. Until I attended this lecture, I never questioned my perception of this whole genre.

Within the conversation, several of the panelists spoke about how historically romance novels, and the novel in general, were frowned upon because their plots are counterproductive for the patriarchy. That took me a few minutes to get my head around. I never really thought about romance novels as being dangerous to the cultural status quo, but I see what they were talking about. In a traditional romance, the heroine has the power to choose who she is going to love and marry, her sexuality is acknowledged and encouraged, and she lives happily ever after with the man she loves. That is pretty dangerous.

So … I think I need to start reading more romances. What should I read?  Who are your favorite authors? Should I read historical romance or contemporary? What would be a good entry point into the genre for a cynic that rolls her eyes at the kissing scenes in movies?

Radio Tour

It’s been an exciting few weeks since How To Climb The Eiffel Tower was released. I have been doing a radio tour talking to people about the book and cancer survivorship. If you are in the Colorado, Washington, New York, or Kentucky areas, tune in and listen to the conversations. Some of the radio stations I spoke to last week have archive feeds, which I have included.

Monday, 10/13 – Denver, CO KLZ-AM 11:00 CT  Experience Pros

Tuesday, 10/14 – Wenatchee, WA KWCC

Thursday, 10/16 – Buffalo, NY WESB-AM 10:00 ET

Monday, 10/20 – Lexington, KY WMST-AM 9:00 ET

Archived shows:

Barbara Dooley Show on WGAU in GA

Midwest Opinions on KOGA in NE