Sunday, May 30, 2010

Book Progress Update

A Soul Less Broken has now made it through the first phase of interior layout and typesetting. It's very exciting to see how it actually looks in chapter format. Now its time for another "fine-tooth comb" copy edit. Many thanks to Kathy who is graciously proof-reading it with me - she has an eagle-eye for detail and I'm very grateful for her help. It's getting closer to the finished product - can't wait to share it with all of you! Thanks for your support!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Violence Against Women – Educating & Protecting Women

I believe it’s up to all of us to educate our young daughters, sisters, and friends about what they can do to help prevent being victims of a violent attack. To many of us, the tips listed below may seem like common sense, but don’t assume everyone realizes the danger they may be placing themselves in. If you haven’t already, share these tips with the young women in your life about ways they can protect themselves. The last two tips are especially important for our teens and college students who live and die by their iPods and cell phones (the last tip I added). If Catherine in A Soul Less Broken had followed these tips, she might not have found herself in the presence of evil:

Be aware of your surroundings. Knowing where you are and who is around you may help you to find a way to get out of a bad situation.

Try to avoid isolated areas. It is more difficult to get help if no one is around.

Walk with purpose. Even if you don’t know where you are going, act like you do.

Trust your instincts. If a situation or location feels unsafe or uncomfortable, it probably isn’t the best place to be.

Try not to load yourself down with packages or bags as this can make you appear more vulnerable.

Make sure your cell phone is with you and charged and that you have cab money.

Don't allow yourself to be isolated with someone you don’t trust or someone you don’t know.

Avoid putting music headphones in both ears so that you can be more aware of your surroundings, especially if you are walking alone.

Avoid talking on a cell phone if you are walking alone. It prevents you from being fully aware of your surroundings.

Info provided by The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network is the nation's largest anti-sexual assault organization. RAINN operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1.800.656.HOPE and the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline at, and publicizes the hotline's free, confidential services; educates the public about sexual assault; and leads national efforts to prevent sexual assault, improve services to victims and ensure that rapists are brought to justice.

For more information, please click here.

Friday, May 21, 2010

More About Brain Tumors

Since May is Brain Tumor Awareness Month, I wanted to offer some more details about the specific type of tumor that one of the characters suffers with in A Soul Less Broken:

Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) - Grade IV
  • Pronounced GLEE-OH-Blast-oma
  • GBM tumors arise from astrocytes - star-shaped cells which form the supportive, glue-like substance of the brain.
  • These tumors represent 20% of all primary brain tumors.
  • When a tumor diagnosis is given, the tumor is graded from I to IV. The grade is based on how normal or abnormal the cancer cell appear under a microscope. Grade IV tumors appear very abnormal and are always classified as "high grade" tumors for that reason.
  • GBMs are generally found in the cerebral hemispheres, but technically can be found anywhere in the brain or spinal cord.
  • GBMs are capable of very rapid growth.
  • The first symptoms are usually due to increased pressure in the brain and usually present as headaches, seizures, memory loss, and changes in behavior.
  • GBMs commonly contain a mix of cell types, and while one cell type may be responsive to treatment, other types may be resistant.
  • Every year, approximately 5 out of every 100,000 Americans are diagnosed with GBMs.
For 37 years, the American Brain Tumor Association (ABTA) has provided critical funding to researchers working toward breakthroughs in brain tumor diagnosis, treatment and care, with the ultimate goal of finding a cure. The ABTA is also the recognized resource for comprehensive, up-to-date information and compassionate support for the brain tumor patients, families and caregivers who are living with this disease.

To donate or make your voice heard on important brain tumor initiatives click here.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Power of Gratitude

So you’ve decided you want to make a different choice in how you react in a given situation. You’ve even gotten yourself to the point where you’re willing to let go of that heated anger, or that depressing sadness. Now what? You’re still left with a void where those depleting emotions used to be. Well, there's good news and there's bad news. The bad news is that the void isn’t going to magically fill itself with something more positive (unless you happen to see a commercial for Purina Puppy Chow filled with adorable I’ve-Got-To-Pick-You-Up-And-Squeeze-You puppies, but even that will only last a moment or two). So how do you fill the empty space that was once your angry heart? The good news is that it's actually, relatively easy and it comes down to one word … gratitude. The key is to find one thing, anything that you can truly be grateful for. Trust me, I do understand that there will be days when this will be easier than others, but if you’re really honest with yourself and truly willing to give up feeling like a victim, then unless you’re dead or in coma, you probably can find something to be grateful for. This is not meant in any way to minimize the pain that you may have been feeling, or the trauma you may have suffered. The point is to help you navigate to the other side and gratitude will get you there. Maybe the only thing you can think of to be grateful for is that you’re breathing. I guarantee you someone out there with emphysema is envious of your ability to take a deep breath. Or maybe the only thing you can be grateful for is that you have eyes that can read this blog. A blind person can only dream of doing that. You see where I’m going with this. Just commit to yourself that for the entire day you will continue to look for reasons to be grateful. The magical thing about gratitude is that it multiplies easily (much like rabbits in the dark). Once you shift your focus away from dwelling on the negative and look for reasons to be grateful, you will find more and more evidence that you have a lot to be thankful for. That’s just how gratitude works. And before you know it, that void that once housed dark and negative emotions, is suddenly filled with joy and a grateful heart. Catherine, our central character in A Soul Less Broken had to learn this too. She also had to grab onto something, anything, no matter how small it seemed at the time, in order to get her up and over that hurdle.

Now, on a personal note, while we’re on the subject of gratitude I would be quite remiss if I didn’t mention the surprise that awaited me last night when I got home and the very special man who made it happen. Unbeknownst to me, my husband had ordered the matching earrings to go with the necklace (that’s on the cover of the book) and the tiny box arrived in the mail yesterday. I was absolutely delighted when I opened them, thanking him profusely. He just stood there with a very wide grin and stated quite matter-of-factly “Well, you had to have the matching set.” Bless his heart. That is one thing about my husband he never ceases to amaze me. Over our many years together he has surprised me countless times. And while I’m very grateful for all the things he has surprised me with, I’m most grateful for him.

So what can you find in your life that you can be grateful for?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Power of Letting Go

So what about those times when we are so entrenched in what we feel is being done “to” us that it seems impossible to “choose” how we are going to react? Sometimes it actually feels good to be that angry or even that sad. We find ourselves clinging to those feelings. We tell ourselves we’re “justified” and we have “the right” to feel that way. We mount a campaign to gather evidence in support of being less than happy. We often have friends and family spurring us on. But eventually we find ourselves at a crossroads, after a time we hunger for more than the emptiness that comes with negative emotions. Some people choose to dig in and become even angrier or even more engulfed in sadness, because for them they have held on to their anger or sadness for such a long time, they may not even remember what it feels like to actually be happy. As strange as it sounds, staying upset can be easier than choosing happiness because at least there is a certain degree of familiarity.  For those folks, choosing happiness can feel like stepping off a cliff into the great unknown.

But for those of us who are “sick and tired and being sick and tired” and who really do want to change how we’re feeling, how do we go about making that choice? How do you just stop being angry or stop being sad? The first step sounds incredibly simple but it is anything but. The first step is being willing to let go; to let go of all the reasons we have for being angry; let go of all the evidence we’ve gathered supporting why we should be sad. Sometimes it means letting go of being right.

The central character in A Soul Less Broken eventually does grow weary of being a slave to her feelings and she must let go.

What do you have that you’re holding on to that stands between you and being happy? Are you willing to let it go?

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Power to Choose

One of the most challenging lessons facing all of us in life is realizing that at any given moment, in any given situation we still have a choice. No matter what is being "done to us" or how others are "making us feel", we still can choose how we react, and how we respond. We can either choose to be a victim, giving our emotional power away allowing others to control our happiness, or we can take a stand and decide that today is the day we are the ones in control of our emotions.

Granted, no one said that such an education was easy to aquire, or to practice - quite the contrary. The central character in A Soul Less Broken must discover this and it is hands down one of the hardest lessons any of us will ever face. But its also the one that will give us the most peace.

One of the stories I had heard years ago, that inspires me to this day, was an interview with a woman who had been attacked in Central Park while she was jogging. It was a vicious, brutal attack, one that she almost didn't survive; it was clear that her attacker had left her for dead. But inspite of these circumstances and all her suffering, she remained amazingly positive. The interviewer asked her, "How is it, after what he did to you, that you aren't bitter? How do you not go through life hating the man that did this to you?" And the woman replied, "That man took one night of my life. I refuse to give him any more."

So the next time someone or something "makes you mad" or "makes you upset" try to remember that you still can choose again. Maybe not right then in the moment, but when you're ready, you can choose a different reaction, one that serves you better, one that helps you feel more at peace. You can take your power back.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Necklace

When you read A Soul Less Broken you'll understand the significance of the necklace that appears on the cover. In the meantime, here is some fun trivia about how it came to be. When I wrote that passage in the book I had a very specific image in my mind of what the necklace would look like. And lo and behold, one day online I actually found it. When I stumbled across the necklace I couldn't believe my eyes - it looked exactly how I had imagined it. Seeing it was a little bit eerie actually.

Since I firmly believe that there is no such thing as "coincidence" and that it must be divine intervention, I immediately purchased the necklace. When I received it I sent a picture to my son to use when he designed the cover for the book. It was just meant to be! The necklace was created by a very nice woman with a business designing jewelry. Thanks Raquel!

The necklace comes in gold or silver and if you're interested in purchasing one or checking out her other items you can visit her site by clicking here.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

May is Brain Tumor Awareness Month

One of the secondary characters in A Soul Less Broken suffers from a brain tumor. In my own life I was saddened by the passing of a friend & coworker who lost his battle with brain cancer in 2006. He was only in his early forties when he passed away. What amazed me in doing research for the book was how common this condition actually is. Here is some information that you may find surprising:

  • Currently there are over 600,000 people in the US living with a primary brain tumor.
  • Each year approximately 210,000 people in the US will be diagnosed with a primary or metastatic brain tumor. That is over 575 people a day. (Primary is a tumor originating in the brain only, metastatic is cancer that spreads from other parts of the body to the brain).
  • Metastatic brain tumors are six-times more common than primary tumors.
  • There are over 120 different types of brain tumors, making effective treatment very complicated.
  • The most common symptoms of a brain tumor can include: headaches (that wake you up in the morning), seizures without a history of seizures, cognitive or personality changes, eye weakness, nausea or vomiting, speech disturbances and memory loss. What makes diagnosis challenging is that these symptoms are common in many other medical conditions beside brain tumors.

 Some Famous Brain Tumor Patients You May Recognize:

• Bob Marley (metastatic)

• Lance Armstrong (metastatic)

• Lou Rawls (metastatic)

• George Gerwin (primary)

• Frank Edward “Tug” McGraw (primary)

• Ted Kennedy (primary)

Much of the data listed above is available at the National Brain Tumor Society (NBTS), a non-profit organization, bringing together the best of research and patient services to be a comprehensive resource for patients, families, caregivers, researchers, and medical professionals. NBTS offers top-notch resources and caring support for everyone affected by brain tumors. They provide education & information to help patients, families, and caregivers make informed decisions and develop strong support systems during every stage of the journey. 
If you would like to learn more or to make a donation, click here.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Are You Living Your Dream?

Many of us dream of things we'd like to be, do, or experience. When we allow ourselves the luxury of playing in our dreams, even for a moment, it brings a smile to our face and joy to our heart. And yet, we often keep those dreams locked away - held prisoner by our own self-doubt. Believe me, I speak from experience - that's exactly what kept me from publishing A Soul Less Broken until now. Don't listen to that critic in your head telling you it's too hard, or it won't work, or you aren't smart enough... yada, yada, yada. At the end of the day, don't believe everything you think.

So, what if you started living your dream... right now... today...? It doesn't mean you have to quit your job and become a pauper, but you can begin today taking small steps toward making your dream a reality. And when you take action on building your dream you will feel energized and renewed. You'll be following your purpose. Remember, a journey of a thousand miles always begins with a single step.

So what's your dream?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Violence Against Women Statistics

As you’ll discover in A Soul Less Broken, the central character survives a brutal attack. And while the story is fiction, these alarming statistics are all too real:
  • 1 in 6 women have been victims of sexual assault.
  • College women are 4 times more likely to be victims.
  • 17.7 million American women have been victims of attempted or completed rape.
Victims of sexual assault are:
  • 3 times more likely to suffer from depression.
  • 6 times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol.
  • 26 times more likely to abuse drugs.
  • 4 times more likely to contemplate suicide.
Statistics provided by the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN). RAINN is the nation's largest anti-sexual assault organization. RAINN operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1.800.656.HOPE and the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline at, and publicizes the hotline's free, confidential services; educates the public about sexual assault; and leads national efforts to prevent sexual assault, improve services to victims, and ensure that rapists are brought to justice.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

It's Finally Happening

After several years and three title changes, the book A Soul Less Broken is finally being brought to life. I can't wait to share it with all of you! It is being published by Wheatmark and right now the interior text layout is in the process of being formatted which takes about thirty days, then it will be time for one final proof before copies are printed. The release date will be sometime in late summer or early fall. It will be available direct through the publisher as well as Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The amazing cover artwork was designed by my son, Mike Harpin who is (as some of you know) a very talented designer of all things graphic. I feel very honored that he designed the cover. I think you'll agree that he did a beautiful job. And I want to thank my dear friend Rhonda Mazurek who took my portrait - if any of you need a fantastic portrait photographer you can view her work at Timeless Portraits by Rhonda. And lastly, I have to credit three people for inspiring me to finally get the book published: Mike, my son, for patiently saying (about once a year) "Mom, when are you going to publish your book?" and two women who are also published authors - Kathy Carroll, a wonderful friend & coworker who wrote Working Overtime, and Dana Fredsti a friend that I grew up with and whose most current book is called Murder For Hire - The Peruvian Pigeon. Thank you for inspiring me to finally get this done!