Posted in Guest interview, inspiration, Personal, promotion

Let’s Hear it for Mike Hamp!!

Hello everyone,  I hope all is well with you. Today, I have a guest with a unique message. He’s trying to take his own experiences and trying to help others who may be struggling with the same issues he has struggled with. I won’t go into any more detail than that because I want Mike to share his story and the project he’s working on. Take it away, Mike!

  1. Mike, tell us a little about yourself.

Hey Lisa!! Thanks a ton for the opportunity!! I was born on the east side of the state in Port Huron on November 1st, 1982.  That makes me 36 years old 😉 I have 4 amazing children. It goes from oldest to youngest, ages and gender follow names. Michael 14 Daughter (Yes, its Michael, yes, she is a girl…) Rylee 13 Daughter. Jonah 8 Son. Ailey 6 Daughter.

These kids are incredible and help remind me daily that I MUST lead by example. I make a living and goof off a lot at Tom’s Meat Market here in Hastings. We just recently went viral on Facebook with our Gummi Bear Brats!! Daniel Tosh (Tosh.o) shared it, I also did a live radio interview recently about them with a station in Rockford, Illinois. I honestly can say if I MUST have to earn money to pay bills, then Tom’s is definitely the place I want to be as the Values Not Feelings Organization and A Walk For Thought are growing and taking shape… I’ll explain more in the questions below.

 

 

  1. If you don’t mind, could you tell us a little bit about how you became addicted to opiates?

Sure, this is all part of my story, although I speak of it a lot lately. I LOVE sharing it in hopes that I reach the MANY others who battle the same or similar things that I have. I was introduced to opiates when I was 16. I had 4 shoulder surgeries pretty much all back to back. There was a lot of work done in a couple years span which pretty much kept a pretty decent number of opiates flowing into my life for a solid amount of time. I really enjoyed the way the opiates made me feel. They helped the chaos in my brain feel better, that I can remember super early in my younger years. This was a chaos that I still deal with today, one that I have thankfully learned to think through rather than go numb and try to hide from. The hard stuff never goes away, it might fall back a bit, it might sit in the shadows out of your sight, but the fight in the mind that so many are engaged in will show back up at times with more opportunity to grow. Around this time is when I took my first drink of alcohol. Something that was a problem from the very first drop… I am just shy of 17 months sober from drinking alcohol as I write this and I am grateful for how much my quality of life has improved without it. Mixing opiates and other pills with alcohol became a war that lasted for half of my life before I was finally able to break out of the hell like grips of addiction. A “disease” of the mind and our thoughts…

 

Photo credit: RS2Photography on VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-ND

 

  1. When did you realize you had a problem and what were the steps you took to resolve it?

 

With opiates and alcohol both it was almost instantly that they both became very big issues in my life. I had many times in between the 16 years where opiates weren’t as big of an issue as alcohol was for me. If they were around and I took them, well, it would just depend on how long in between therapies, rehabs, meetings before I was faced with yet “another” failed bout with self-control and will power. I would once again give into the fight and would take opiates and then  would face the consequences in one way or another EVERY TIME. Until finally, after a shit ton of tries, many and I mean many hard lessons and close calls, I stopped using opiates 4 years ago. Alcohol on the other hand had its grips around my neck for a bit longer and other than a 7 month period of not drinking (For a girl), it was the longest I went with out alcohol from 16 years old until just about 17 months ago. Where I made the decision that if I was going to choose life,  I was going to put in the work NO MATTER WHAT happened. I’ve tried quitting so many times before so I was skeptical about my success, but deep inside I knew this time was different.

Photo on Visualhunt.com

  1. Tell us a little bit about your struggle to resolve your problem.

I’d say my senior year of High School is when the use of the substances reached a place that put a real problem on the radar. I was drinking in school, before school. Just before graduation was my very first attempt at a try in the substance abuse programs that are around. (Not by choice) My parents tried helping by putting me into a program. It was an IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program) for people battling addiction. I had to go 3 nights a week for 3 hours. It only lasted a few visits and then I stopped going which then lead to years and years of juggling through trying to quit and failing which then the many different therapy sessions, and aa/na meetings, other types of rehabs followed. I have been married and divorced 2 times. My issues with my mind and battle with substances played an enormous role in both marriages failing. Although we are in control of our own actions and behaviors, its super hard to be the husband you need to be when you don’t even know who you are…

Photo on Visualhunt.com

 

  1. Tell us a little bit about your most recent project.

 

My newest project is something called A Walk For Thought. It is a solo walk from Hastings, Mi. to St. Ignace, Mi. Its roughly 280 miles and I will be finishing on Labor Day of 2019 by crossing the Mackinac Bridge. The whole point is to attempt to bring awareness and funds to the Values Not Feelings Organization, a Non Profit that I am currently working on that will be based in my community and will be here in hopes to help others struggling with mental health and addictions. I have experienced this War first hand and it helps me  to support anyone who is ready to get out of this lifestyle that shortens life spans and steals life’s happiness and joy. It takes a ton of hard work on their part however, and that is where I feel I can help. Coaching so to speak…

Photo on VisualHunt.com

  1. How would someone who wishes to participate get in touch with you?

We are ALWAYS looking for financial support as well as people sharing the vision. I have had so much amazing support and sponsors come on board, one being J Pixel, who has built an awesome website for me www.valuesnotfeelings.com which has a bunch of information about the project as well as a page for anyone to sign up as a sponsor. I’m also available on social media and  via Email. Facebook: Mike Hamp or A Walk For Thought Page.  and Instagram: Mike Hamp (Valuesnotfeelings) as well as Email: valuesnotfeelings@gmail

 

  1. What do you hope to accomplish with this project?

A Walk For Thought and Values Not Feelings are 2 separate projects that ultimately go together very well. The walk is meant to help push the Non Profit, it’s meant to help fund it, to help put it on the map so to speak, so I really hope that the walk brings a ton of attention in hopes to get the message and vision out to reach any and all who are ready to change their lives. This walk is meant to cause enough of a stir and gain the attention of people all over in hopes to help support those fighting for their lives. As well as, get people who have the finances and other things in hopes to get more sponsors and donors. The fight of addiction and the battle against poor mental health make this awesome life super hard to live, I want my story and experiences to help the people who are stuck now, get out and get to a place where they experience life fully…

 

Photo on Visualhunt.com

 

  1. Do you have any plans after this project for another one?

OH YEAH!! 😊 I have found a new Love/Passion for walking, hiking. 280 miles is only the beginning. This project has caught some attention of companies and donors thinking that 280 miles is far, just wait until you all hear of some of the other things we are tossing around… East coast to West coast maybe? We have A TON of great ideas that hopefully will turn into something more in the next few years. But as far as the foundation, the original base of this whole vision is helping anyone and everyone who is ready to put in the work and discipline needed to pull themselves out of the fiery pits of hell that addiction is. I NEVER want to lose focus of the real reason I am doing this all, and that is to offer myself to anyone ready to live this life on purpose…

 

  1. Where did you get the idea for this project?

There is a lot to this question as far as layers and ways I can answer it to get to the most descriptive answer so bear with me… At 16 I fell into this trap after 4 shoulder surgeries before I even graduated from High School. I am not blaming anyone but I didn’t even have a chance to be a “normal” High School  kid. I started life behind the majority because I battled for mine early on. After ALL of the things I have faced and all the extreme lows that I sank to, after the dust settled and I was able to walk out of that War alive. I got to a place in my life where I was solid enough to toss some ideas around. I started to see patterns and little tricks to help stay away from the poisons that were screaming in my brain to let in. I realized that we are in control of our responses only and that even though we “feel” emotions, as hard as they can be, we don’t have to respond!

This put a power into my life that I didn’t know was possible. I became part of a Crossfit Gym (Trifit), who is now a sponsor of mine, and was introduced to the importance of exercise and proper nutrition. This was the EXACT shift I needed. After putting in some very hard work and remaining disciplined in my work outs and diet, things began shifting in my mind. I had begun experiencing some awesome responses from the way my brain was working, it was like my once broken-down beat-up body and mind (which was like an old beat up car that was backfiring and spitting and sputtering, smoking and back firing) was just barely running and barely getting from point A to point B. But when I got on purpose about putting the proper fuel in my body (My vehicle), and took care of it with exercise and other maintenance, it started running like a fine-tuned machine, and it brought me into a place in life that I hadn’t experienced before. I began to trust my thoughts; my brain and body functions were amazing. I got into good shape and enjoyed life from that place and learned that that is a HUGE part at building a foundation to a life where you aren’t NEEDING drugs or alcohol to live…

The idea for the walk however only came when I went through a few months span of my body falling apart. I was recently sober, eating awesome and working out intensely. I was hit with some unexpected health issues that made it impossible to work out or even run. I had Rhabdomyolysis. I had shoulder surgeries #5 and #6 and I got to a place that when I ran, I peed blood, every time. (Bladder rubs when I run, causing enough trauma to bleed, very scary stuff until you get an answer) After the last 7 months of doctors, surgeries, overnight stays in the hospitals and all the chaos, I was pretty much left with only the option of walking… I had a new love for pushing myself and my body, but I was sinking fast when I wasn’t able to do much. I had just started realizing  I could take control of my mind and body and really do a lot to become healthy and strong. Exercise and good nutrition helped my thoughts and it was hard when I couldn’t exercise, I felt everything was crashing down around me and burying me in the very same mental mess that had buried for so many years previously.

I lost one of my most dear friends in March of 2018 to the battle of alcohol. Watching him die did something to the deepest part of me. I knew that with my story and past and with the determination I had from Brandon’s death, it was time to make my life mean something. I had to do something. I wondered, how far I would I have to walk for people to notice… And Bang, the idea was born. I began walking very far everyday because it was all my body can do and it turned into a passion. Now, I walk a ton everyday but I have also gotten back into the gym as well as slowly recouping and rehabbing. Now, its just what needs to happen, in order for my mind and body to fire on all cylinders, they must be treated properly, on purpose…

Photo on Visualhunt.com

  1. On a lighter note, what are some of your hobbies and interests?

I LOVE writing. It’s been a passion and an escape for me from as far back as I can remember. It’s a way for me to dig deep down inside and grasp onto some of those feelings that are there, and attempt to pull them out and put them onto the page, hoping they might just make sentences and paragraphs that will positively impact anyone who reads it. I have 4 amazing children who I LOVE spending as much time with as possible. I work in a pretty awesome Meat Market and spend quite a bit of time there, but it’s among my friends and it rarely ever feels like work. I love people, hearing their stories. I enjoy comedy and laughing a lot. I just might take a crack at it myself someday… 😊

 

Photo on Visualhunt

 

Thanks a lot Lisa for this opportunity. I am grateful for the chance you’ve given me to get my story and vision out. Keep fighting, Keep pushing, Be love; #valuesnotfeelings #awalkforthought

 

You’re welcome, Mike! Thanks for being a guest today. The meme below reminds me of you. So, keep spreading your message. The world needs to hear it!

Image may contain: one or more people, eyeglasses and text

 

 

Posted in Guest Author, Guest interview

Please welcome Laura Heffernan and her latest release, “Reality Wedding!”

Hello everyone! I hope all is well with you. I have a guest today and she’s sharing her latest release with us! Her name is Laura Heffernan and her latest release is titled, “Reality Wedding!” Check it out below!

 

Reality Wedding (Reality Star Series Book 3) by [Heffernan, Laura]

 

Lights? Camera? Action! In this irresistible final installment of the Reality Star Series, one woman’s dream wedding may be about to turn into a reality nightmare…

Synopsis

SAY ‘I DO’—OR ELSE

When Jen Reid escaped a reality TV cruise with her relationship intact—if not her hair—she swore she was done with the cameras for good. Sure, she and Justin met,

had their first kiss, and got engaged with tape rolling, but manufactured drama and ruthless producers have shaken them up more times than she can count. With Jen’s reality-themed bakery just getting started and her brand-new lawyer fiancé in a pile of debt, they’re a long way from glitz and glamour, and that’s fine by Jen. Until the Network calls and tells her that unless she says “I do” to a wedding special, Justin will be out of a job.

Now Jen has two weeks to plan an all-expenses-paid “dream wedding”—and dodge the tricks and traps of a showrunner happy to mess up her future in the name of ratings. Luckily for Jen, she’s got plenty of experience with cake and popcorn. But when real-life drama and reality TV twists collide, the cliffhangers may just follow her right down the aisle . . .

Praise for Reality Wedding:

“The third book in Heffernan’s Reality Star series is such a fun and entertaining read, as Justin and Jen – and all the drama that seems to follow them everywhere – are back. Will they get married is the big question here, and will reality TV have any part. Heffernan will keep readers guessing, as the story has some twists to it. With lots of drama, a bit of humor and a sweet romance, this series is as addicting as reality TV. Fans of Sophie Kinsella might want to give this series a try.”- RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars

Available now from all major retailers. Order today!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Play | iBooks

 

 

 

Reality Wedding (Reality Star Series Book 3) by [Heffernan, Laura]

Excerpt:

 

“Justin, I can’t hear you. Where are you?”

 

“Airport…on.”

 

I fought the urge to chuck my useless phone across the room. “What? Justin, I can’t understand anything you’re saying. We’ve got a terrible connection.”

 

The phone went dead. I called him back immediately, but nothing happened. The several voicemails he’d left shed no additional light on anything: a lot of static, a couple of broken airline announcements in the background, crowd noise, and one that sounded like a butt dial from the men’s room. Awesome. My concern grew with each uninformative message. All the texts were variations of “Please call me ASAP.”

 

Heart pounding, I dialed Sarah’s number. The call went straight to voicemail. She should be on a plane, not at the bakery, but I dialed the landline, anyway. The phone at Sweet Reality rang and rang until the line started buzzing. Since the shop should be open, getting no answer made me even more nervous.

 

I was still standing in the kitchen, staring out over the pool, when Rachel entered wearing her swimsuit. “You okay? One of the producers said they heard yelling.”

 

“Yes. No. I don’t know.”

 

“Well, that clears things right up.” She tilted her head at me, eyes full of concern. “What’s wrong?”

 

“I don’t know. Justin called, but the reception was all wonky, and it sounded like there was some issue with his sister. I tried to call Sarah, too, but her phone’s off. I hope she’s okay.”

 

“Hold on a sec. He said there’s a problem with Sarah?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“When are they supposed to be flying in?” Rachel pulled out her phone and started tapping. “Do you have the flight number?”

 

“He was supposed to fly out of Florida a few hours ago. When he called, I thought his flight landed early, but he was apologizing and sounding stressed. It doesn’t sound like they were on the plane. Should I go to the airport, just in case?”

 

Rachel kept tapping, a grim look on her face. Then she held her phone out to me. “No, Jen, I don’t think you should.”

 

I snatched her phone out of her hand. Then all the wind rushed out of me. She’d pulled up a news site. HURRICANE CARA STRANDS THOUSANDS. Below the headline, a picture showed a Florida airport, absolutely packed with people.

 

He said Cara, not Sarah.

 

“I’m sorry, Jen,” Rachel said, “but I don’t think Justin’s flying in tonight. According to this site, he might not be able to get a flight for days.”

 

“What about Atlanta? Can he drive to Atlanta? My family’s flying through there.”

 

She tapped a few more times, biting her lip. I found the answer on my phone right when a low murmur told me Rachel saw it, too.

 

All flights canceled. My entire family stranded.

 

My heart sank. Just when things finally started to go right, when I started to think the whole wedding might not be a complete disaster, my groom wasn’t even coming.

 

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Be Sure to Check Out the First Two Books in the Reality Star series!


AMERICA’S NEXT REALITY STAR

America's Next Reality Star by [Heffernan, Laura]

 

Millennial Jen auditioned for a reality show hoping to win the $250,000 cash prize.  With puzzles, games, and more, this show is right up her alley. But when she meets co-contestant Justin, she finds herself questioning what really matters. Can she trust that his feelings for her are real? Or is it all a showmance put on for the viewers?

 

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Play | iBooks

 

Sweet Reality (Reality Star Book 2)

After her brief brush with fame, Jen’s ready to start a new life: New location, new roommate, new boyfriend, new business. But when a killer competitor threatens to put her new bakery out of business before the grand opening, Jen steps back into the spotlight to snag a show-stopping recipe. Can she save her bakery without destroying her relationship?

 

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Play | iBooks

 

Praise for the Reality Star series:

America’s Next Reality Star is one sweet, sexy brain-candy read! You won’t be sorry you indulged.” —Leah Marie Brown, USA Today bestselling Author 

 

“Smart, witty, and really freaking good, America’s Next Reality Star is a fun read that has you cheering from the first paragraph through the last page. Laura Heffernan spins an entertaining tale, expertly mixing the main character’s real life events with the reality show’s challenges. With enough drama to not only satisfy fans of reality TV shows, but readers who thrive on a good story with humor and romance, this book is a perfect read.” —Kerry Lonsdale, Wall Street Journal bestselling author

 

“Reality TV fans, this is your book! Laura Heffernan captures all the drama and over-the-top craziness in this fun and flirty romance.” —Amy E. Reichert, author of Love, Luck, and Lemon Pie

 

“If you like sweet contemporary romances with a reality show theme, then you are going to enjoy Heffernan’s Reality Star series. Her second book, Sweet Reality, takes place about 16 months after the first and features the same great couple, Justin and Jen. These two are likeable and relatable characters and there is more romance in this one than there was in the first. There is also an interesting cast of secondary characters. Heffernan does a wonderful job with character development and painting vivid scenes. There are also some cute and funny moments that makes this book a worthwhile and entertaining read. If reality shows are your guilty pleasure, give Heffernan’s Sweet Reality a try.”- RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars

 

About the Author:

 

Laura Heffernan

 

Laura is living proof that watching too much TV can pay off. When not watching total strangers get married, drag racing queens, or cooking competitions, Laura enjoys board games, travel, board games, baking, and board games. She lives in the northeast, where she spends far too much time tweeting about reality TV and Canadian chocolate.

 

Connect with Laura:

Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon | Website | Newsletter

 

 

Interview with Laura:

 

Reality Wedding is the third book in your Reality Star series. Tell us a bit about it.

In the first book, Jen auditions for on a reality show because she needs money to pay a medical debt she got as an undergrad. She’s not looking for love, especially after finding out about her cheating ex, but things change when she meets co-contestant Justin. Are his feelings for her real, or is it all part of an act for the show? The second book follows Jen on a reality cruise, where she reunites with old friends and foes.

For the series finale, Jen and Justin swore they were done with reality TV, but the Network has called and essentially blackmails them into doing one final series. They’re getting married anyway, so it doesn’t seem like a major hardship, except for the fact that the Network will do anything to up the drama and increase their ratings…

This book was a lot of fun to write, because I got to really dig into what a desperate Network might do for ratings, and the wedding setup allowed me to bring back many of my favorite characters from the earlier books. At the same time, you don’t need to have read the earlier books in the series to enjoy it.

How did you prepare to write this book?

Mostly, I watched a lot of wedding-themed reality shows. Four Weddings, Say Yes to the Dress, Rich Bride, Poor Bride. And I watched extensive Bridezillas back in the day, which is the kind of show that sticks with you. There’s very little of my own wedding in this book, but I was able to draw a bit from the experience, which also helped.

Where do you live? Upstate New York. It took some time to get used to the not-awesome weather, but I prefer the snow and cold to the oppressive heat of the California town where I grew up. You can always put on another sweater. The opposite, alas, is simply untrue. Now, one of these days, I should learn to build a snowman…

How long have you been writing?

I wrote my first short story when I was five, so, um… not that long? J Over the years, I’ve started a few blogs, published a few non-fiction articles (under my maiden name), things like that. I’ve got dozens of books I started over the years and never got around to finishing. After I got married and moved to New York in 2013, I started pursuing writing seriously. I can’t believe it’s been five years already since I said to myself, “Look, it’s time to stop stalling and finally write that book.”

So, how many books have you actually completed?

Once I got started, it was like opening the floodgates. America’s Next Reality Star was my first completed manuscript, finished in 2013. Reality Wedding is my eleventh, and I’ve finished two others since.

Wow! Any plans for all the others?

Some of those manuscripts will remain locked in a deep, dark drawer forever. Either because the genre wasn’t right, or the timing wasn’t right, or because the story didn’t work out the way I wanted. The most recent two will be published as part of the Gamer Girl series, which will be released by Kensington in 2019. There are a couple I’d like to revise and hopefully share with the world sometime after I finish the Gamer Girl books.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

Board games, mostly. And we’re having a baby in a few months, so cleaning out stuff, setting up the nursery, learning how to keep a child alive…

Which authors have most influenced your work?

My biggest influence would have to be Sophie Kinsella. She was the first romantic comedy author I discovered, and I devoured all of her books. Becky Bloomwood is such a great main character, as aggravating as she can, because she’s not perfect. She’s deeply flawed, but in a way that makes you want to root for her, and at the same time, you don’t feel bad laughing at her mishaps.

Early Jane Green was also a big influence. Her first books really helped establish the genre, and to me, reading them is essential to seeing what works. And I’m a big fan of Emily Giffin, especially Something Borrowed and Something Blue.

 

Thanks for stopping by Laura and sharing your new release with us!

 

Posted in Entertainment, Guest interview, Writing

Interview with Dana Provo

 

Hello everyone! I hope all is well with you! I’m back today with a guest! Her name is Dana Provo and she has a new book that’s coming soon, titled “Bleeding Hearts!”  I thought I’d introduce her and give all of you a heads up about her! Below is her interview! Check it out!

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Author Bio: Dana Provo has always loved books and reads everything from young adult fantasy to adult historical romances. When she’s not reading or writing her next novel, Dana can be found riding her horses and getting ready for competition. Dana lives with her husband and two house plants in Richmond, Virginia.

 

  1. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

 

I am an outliner. When I come up with a story idea, the characters come first then the plot. I write down everything from looks to personality to favorite color so I know exactly what kind of character I’m writing. As for my plot outline, I write down one or two sentences for each chapter, then I let the words flow.

Photo credit: cote via Visualhunt / CC BY

 

  1. What inspires you to keep writing?

 

I love to write and although it’s a love I found later in life, I wouldn’t want to not do it. The idea of stretching my imagination and seeing what I can create so others have fun reading is what inspires me to write.

 

  1. What advice would you give an aspiring author?

 

My favorite phrase: Don’t procrastinate. If you have deadlines or goals you want to accomplish, don’t wait until the last day to complete them. It feels so good to finish early.

 

  1. Who inspired you to keep writing?

 

There isn’t one person who inspired me to keep writing. I sort of do it for myself. It makes me happy.

 

  1. What genres do you read?

 

I’m a romance junkie so as long as the book has a romantic element, I’ll read it. I’m into contemporary romance and young adult right now.

Photo via Visualhunt

 

  1. If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

 

Negativity. Sometimes, I’m surrounded by negative people and it can bring you down. Sometimes they don’t realize they are negative, but to an optimist like me, it’s draining. I wish we were all optimistic.

 

  1. If you could sit down to dinner with one author, who would it be? And why? What would you ask him or her?

 

I’m a big fan of C.C. Hunter, author of the Shadow Falls Series and I’d love to meet her. I want to know her secrets for crafting up such a great series and I want to tell her my favorite parts of her books!

 

  1. What is your ideal vacation spot?

 

Anywhere near the mountains. I’m not much of a beach person, but I enjoy everything about the mountains.

Photo via VisualHunt

 

  1. Do you have any writing quirks that help you write?

 

If you give me something to munch on, twizzlers, chocolate, anything really, then I do better.

 

  1. What is your favorite time of day to write?

 

I’m a morning writer. I would rather wake up at 4am to start writing then to wait all day.

 

Now, a little bit about her coming release! Sorry, she doesn’t have a cover yet!

Title: Bleeding Hearts

Blurb: Orphaned at an early age, now twenty-four-year-old Camryn Lucks is ready to commit to find that special someone, and so accepts a date from a charming, gallant, handsome stranger. The last thing she imagines after accepting that first date with Carson would actually be the beginning of her worst nightmare.

Red roses, a reminder of her parents’ killer, soon become an emblem of horror for Cami as one by one, those closest to her fall victim to a serial killer. Cami becomes an obsession for Carson, the man she had finally allowed herself to love. Not only is he vying for her heart, but also her life.

Finding herself in a whirlwind of torments shadowed by the blood-colored bloom, Cami finds solace in Isaac, a neighboring police officer. She’s desperate to escape the haunting memories, but she must revisit them in order to catch her would-be killer. Living life in constant fear has driven Cami to second-guess every choice she makes. Will the police catch the illusive murderer, or will Cami be forced to face him once again?

 

Excerpt: 

My hand trembles as I grip the cool handle of my pistol, keeping a firm grasp to ensure it doesn’t slip out of my sweaty hand. It usually stands sentry in my left nightstand to scare the nightmares away. But this isn’t a dream. The room is dark and hides the face of the man whose intent is to kill me. But I know who he is. A metallic taste fills my mouth; I want to gag. My blood drips off the blade in his hand in slow, steady beats on the carpet. My arms shake as I lift the barrel and point it in his direction. He doesn’t move. His heavy breaths alert me to the meager distance between us.

We’re at a stalemate.

A soft glow from the lamppost just outside my window casts a sliver of light on his face. His dark, beady eyes that I have grown to know rake over my body like I’m a just another one of his many victims. He lifts the edges of his mouth into a smile. My heart plunges into my stomach. I know what that sinister expression means, and I think back to all the times he had looked at me like that before. I had been so blind.

Before I react he lunges at me, grabbing onto my waist and twisting me to the ground. I shriek as my head slams against the bed frame. Black spots flood my vision. I squeeze my hand only to find it empty. My gun is gone. The sound of the knife clattering on the floor gives me slight hope. Not much though. He climbs up my body trying to pin my arms to the floor. I thrash my fists around, desperate to knock him off.

“Get off!” I scream, pulling on his shirt and kicking him off balance. Wrapping his hands around my arms, my attacker cuts off the circulation of blood. Rug burns flare across my skin as he drags me across the carpet. He closes his hands around my neck, shutting off my air supply. I pull at his hands but it’s no use; he has always been stronger than me. My pulse drums a frantic beat in my ears. The air slowly leaks out from my lungs, killing any hope I may have left. I search for the gun around the room; it may be my only savior now.

“Why are you doing this?” I struggle to get the words out. He squints his dark eyes. I’m wondering if there might be a chance that he will stop this madness. I am wrong.

“It’ll be over soon, sweetheart.” His hands again tighten around my neck, blocking the air from entering my lungs.

 

Where you can stalk Dana!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authordanaprovo/

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Posted in Guest interview, Health, Teen

I’ve got Psychologist Gary Cole here and he’s talking about Dealing with Teen Addiction

Hello everyone! I hope all is well with you! I’ve got Psychologist Gary Cole here today and he’s talking about Teen Addiction. He’s a Clinical Supervisor of Community Based Services and he deals with adults who started out as teens with issues. He’s here to provide some insight for parents so their teens don’t grow into adulthood with the problems that he sees in his work everyday.

So, without further ado…here’s Gary!

How does a parent know the difference between normal teen angst and the actual warning signs of a problem?

  1. I would say there are two areas to focus on. 1. If you see a significant deviation on their past behavior and mood. Everyone has “bad days” but this would be more long standing and persistent. If the parent starts to become worried they need to ask questions or offer the help of someone who the teenager would feel more comfortable with. Many teens will not talk to their parents about these issues. 2. The circle of friends and interests seems to change significantly.  An example would be that kid who loves to play sports, but this year decides he/she isn’t going to play on the team. The answer isn’t to make them play, but to ask what is going on and what has brought about the decision. As kids become more involved in drugs their interest in these types of activities drops considerably.

What are the actual warning signs and what should a parent do?

  1. There isn’t any one sign that if a parent notices this it would indicate drug use. The parent has to be involved in their children’s lives from day one so they know what a change is for this teenager. I would say there are things to watch for and when seen, it should prompt the parent to have discussions with this teenager. The parent will need to remain persistent because it is likely the teen will not just jump into the conversation willingly. It helps if the parent has had a history since the teen was young about talking openly with them and asking their input. If the parent is noticing the “signs” too late and there is extensive drug use going on, talk with a professional and do not be afraid to set limits with the teen. What I notice is that the parent is often either not paying any attention to obvious things or they are uncomfortable asking these questions, so they just avoid it until the problem becomes worse.

Some of the signs might be:

  1.      -Lying about where they have been. Check up on them, and pay attention to their normal habits. The more you know about your child, the better equipped you will be to know when something is going wrong.
  2.      – Type of friends change. They may keep the friends somewhat hidden from you. So when they come to the house to pick up your teen, make ALL of them come in the house so you can see who they are and if they are under the influence of something. Do not lie to yourself, if the friends look like trouble, they probably are.
  3.      – Using their temper to control you or others in the house. This does not mean trying to get their way, I mean when they have people in the house  and you are uncomfortable with asking questions etc…because you are afraid to “set them off.”
  4.    – Criminal behavior. Pay attention to what is coming in and leaving the house or their car. If they all of a sudden have a nice new gaming system and they do not have a job, something is wrong. When they tell you their friend gave it to them because the friend has a new one, make phone calls and find out what is really going on.    – LISTEN to your kids. Even when they are young. If you see a change in their attitudes and beliefs through things they say, you should be concerned. The teenager will always show you prosocial behavior and say prosocial things when you are talking with them directly but listen to what is being said when they do not know you are listening. Then do not be afraid to ask about things or restrict their access to certain people that seem to be leading them in a wrong direction.– Pay attention to what you are role modeling to your children. It is never too late to “stop doing the wrong things.” Live a controlled life in which you are not using drugs or overindulging in alcohol use. Get up in the morning and have a schedule. Provide fair and consistent discipline, this includes for a teenager.3.     When should a parent seek outside professional help for a problem teen?
       As soon as the problem becomes apparent. Most parents feel like they can handle it and they can, but there are probably things going on that the parent needs help with. So the professional help is not only for the teen, but also for the parent. Do not wait until it becomes an addiction and the struggle becomes much harder. Once an addiction is apparent, the parent needs help also.

4.     When is it too late?

It is never too late, but life will never be the same either. What usually happens is, at this stage, the parent needs help for themselves. Usually this is to look at how they respond to the behavior they see from the teenager, how to hold them accountable and how to cope with the feelings they are struggling with. Usually accountability is the key. An addict usually only changes when the pain of using outweighs the benefits of using. Where people often have trouble is holding that person accountable and allowing the pain of using to happen.

5.     Is there a point when rehabilitation is impossible?

No, never. People overcome addiction every day. It takes a lot of work and dedication on their part. It may require medical help. There are systems in place to help people with physical addiction and counseling to work through the emotional issues that are at work. Part of the problem with working with teenagers, is often they have not had a lot of negative experiences due to their use yet. Also, their brains are still developing so even without the drugs or alcohol use they are impulsive in their decisions. Unfortunately, jail could be a good thing for a teenager. This might be the first negative experience they had because of their use.

6.     Is there anything that an outsider can do if a parent is unwilling to address the problem? When I say outsider I’m talking about someone like a teacher, or someone from the extended family.
Yes, but it is likely not enough. Providing the teen with someone who will listen without judgment is helpful. Being supportive and offering to help them with anything that is positive would be another thing that could help. Do not get caught up in providing a place to sleep etc…unless their use is because of things going on in the home that you feel are unhealthy for the teen. Do not be afraid to include the system if something harmful to the teen is occurring in their home. Everyone feels uncomfortable with making such a call, but it is the right thing to do.

7.     What steps should a parent take to bring the problem behavior under control? Whether it’s a drug problem or criminal behavior.

Accountability is the one thing that helps motivate people to make changes. It is harder in the beginning as all of the past behaviors that have worked are now being challenged. It is important that the parent do this in a caring manner though, as this is when the teen usually lashes out and try’s other tactics to get the parent to return to their old behaviors also. If the behavior is severe enough, a professional should be brought in to help both the parent and the teen.

8.     Are there any types of organizations that can help straighten out these issues and if there are what are the names?

There are many. Each city and town have their own resources. The best thing to do is call 211 and get a list of the agencies in your area. If the first agency or counselor does not seem to “fit” for you, keep looking around. The more information you gather, you will be surprised at the options out there for help.

9.     Who are the teens most likely to run into problems? Are there any common denominators that make a teen more susceptible to choosing negative behaviors?

Addiction and criminal behavior can be found in all homes, races and socio economic classes. But, having a home that is safe, secure and stable helps considerably. Many of the clients I have worked with, there is significant dysfunction occurring in the home. Often addiction is present in the teen’s life before they ever picked up or experimented. Teens who have dealt with issues of abandonment or lack of proper supervision as a child often struggle later in life.  It should be noted that being raised in a broken home, having a parent with addiction etc.. do not mean that child will become a teen and have the same struggles.  There are certain movements within communities which affect the culture of drug use. In Grand Rapids and the surrounding communities there seems to be a rise in the use of heroine and the use of pain killers (pills). As this becomes more prevalent, there is just more opportunity for teens to have access to this. Parents should be aware of what is happening in their specific area.

10.   Of the teens who are having problems which ones are the ones who have the best chance of being rehabilitated and which ones are likely to be repeat offenders?

I have no statistics on this, but the sooner the behavior and addiction is dealt with the better. Unfortunately America seems to put a lot of money into corrections when it is extremely difficult to change the behavior. More money should be going into the child welfare system as well as early childhood intervention. I would say, the clients that seem to have a sense that their behavior has become unhealthy and unmanageable are a step ahead and will often do the work toward becoming healthy. If they remain in denial, and do not think their use has become as problematic often struggle more toward really getting healthy. Also, if the same unhealthy dynamics are occurring in the home and do not change, it is difficult for a client to make changes without leaving.

Thanks Gary for being here today. I appreciate your time and your insightful information. And thanks to all of you who stopped by to read this interview! Leave some comments on your thoughts! I’d love to read them!

  Welcome Julia as She Shares Her Experience With Cutting With All of Us

Hello Everyone! I hope all is well with you! I’ve been busy this last week with Blog Hops and Book Fairs, but I’m back with another teen issue. The issue I’m talking about is Cutting or Self Harm.

According to my research, cutting is on the rise. In fact, the number of children and teenagers who have asked for help after considering hurting themselves with knives or drugs has gone up by two thirds in a year.

Read more from this article here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2243369/Worrying-teenage-trend-self-harming-sparks-sharp-increase-calls-Childline.html

I read about this and I wonder how does this happen? How do teens spiral down into this web of hurting themselves to feel better? So, what I did is, I spoke with someone who’s been in that predicament. Please welcome Julia Blakeney. She’s here to share her story on Self Harm.

Welcome Julia!

First a little bit of information. Julia is nineteen years old and a sophomore in college. She’s hoping to transfer to LSU for the next academic year.

This is Julie with her sister. Julie is on the right.
This is Julie with her sister. Julie is on the right.

Julia how did this all start?

It started in high school. I was feeling depressed and my mother, who was in health care at the time, took me to the doctor. He prescribed an anti-depressant (Prozac) and had me speak with a social worker. That worked for a while.

Then the summer after my junior year in high school my brother and my best friend went to boot camp. My brother, who is two years older than me, went into the army. And my best friend, who is one year older than me, went into the Navy. I felt totally alone and I didn’t have anyone to talk to.

So would you say your brother and your friend leaving was a trigger to the cutting behavior?

Yes. I would have to say that. I became angry and felt like I was screwing up all the time. My parents always seemed mad and so did my sister. And I couldn’t talk to my mother when she was angry with me.

Is this when you started cutting yourself?

Yes. It made me feel better to cut myself. It seemed to relieve the pressure. Please understand the cutting is not to get attention like so many people think. I tried to hide it. I would wear bracelets to hide the scars.

Why do you think you started cutting yourself?

I felt angry. Angry at being left behind by my friend and my brother. I also repressed a lot of anger and sadness. I wouldn’t let myself be sad or cry over missing my friend and brother.

Why do you think cutting made you feel better?

I’m not sure why cutting made me feel better. Maybe it was because of the adrenaline or it could be about control. You know, controlling the pain.

Did your Social Worker know?

I stopped going to her at the end of my junior year, so I don’t think so.

How did you stop?

I finally told my mom. And she was really cool. She didn’t yell or scream at me, but she did take away all the sharp objects that I could use to cut myself. I didn’t want to ask for help. My mom had me go back to my therapist and I switched medication. I dropped Prozac and started taking Zoloft. That’s when I stopped cutting.

However, I became anti-social during my senior year. I wasn’t feeling well emotionally and I didn’t want to be around people. I stayed in my room a lot.

Wow. Sounds like you were going through a lot. Can you tell us the warning signs that we should look out for?

Yes. My behavior changed radically. I was happy and outgoing and then I became withdrawn. I was sleeping a lot and that worried my mother. She took me to the doctor because she thought I had Mono.

I was crying a lot and then I shut down my emotions because no one wanted to hear about it. That’s when I started cutting.

Thanks Julia for being brave and sharing your story with us!

Cutting or Self Harm is a sign of emotional distress that young teens can’t articulate into words. According to http://www.mind.org.uk/mental_health_a-z/8006_self-harm  young women are more likely to engage in this type of behavior. For more information on self-harm please click on this link.  http://www.mind.org.uk/mental_health_a-z/8006_self-harm

Thanks Julia for being here today and sharing your story. If you suspect someone you know is engaging in this type of behavior please let an authority figure know, so they can take steps to intervene before it’s too late. Because self harm is the first step toward suicide. Please leave a comment and share your thoughts. If you have a question, speak up and we’ll try and answer it for you! 🙂

Thanks for reading my post today! 🙂