Tag Archive | Georgia

Linda Phillips~A Beautiful Here

 

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We want to welcome Linda Phillips today. She is the author of  A Beautiful Here: Emerging From The Overwhelming Darkness of My Son’s Suicide.

Linda, thank you so much for coming today and sharing with us your story. Tell us about your book and the story behind it. 

Actually, A Beautiful Here is my first book. I’ve always loved to write essays, poetry and a sundry of other things. But in 1996, my life changed in such a way that led me all these years later to write this book.beautiful here

In 1996, my 22-year-old son, Nuçi, killed himself. He had suffered from major depression manifesting in his early teens. Now it’s true that in this country, someone takes his/her life about every 12.3 minutes. But this one is different.  It was my son. My family’s tragedy. It was up too close and too personal. I had to do something.

So you wrote your book, A Beautiful Here. Tell us about your son. 

Nuçi was one of the finest people I’ve had the privilege to know. He was kind, caring, smart, talented, sincere and though he couldn’t see it very handsome. Until the age of 16 years, he was, as far as one could see, happy and easy-going. But when major depression assaulted his brain, this happy young man morphed into a sullen, withdrawn doppelgänger of my son. With treatment, he struggled to feel good and as was his practice, he threw his whole self into getting healthy. Sadly, Nuçi was one of the minority of depressed people who don’t respond sufficiently to treatment. On Thanksgiving Day 1996, he ended his life. I’m sure he was tired. He had tried so hard but was not able to sustain a bearable life and as he told his psychiatrist, he didn’t want to spend his life in and out of hospitals.

As soon as I was at a point in the grief process (years later) that I could think clearly, I decided to create a foundation in Nuçi’s memory, one that would be fitting for an aspiring rock star. We opened for business in 2000. Now in 2017 Nuçi’s Space in Athens, Georgia is flourishing. We bought an old warehouse, restored it and turned it into practice rooms for musicians. With the money we make, we provide low-cost mental health counseling for those suffering from brain illnesses. We also depend on private donations, grants and benefits for support. Not only do we have practice rooms, we have a stage, a coffee bar, a library and a meeting place for support groups. Camp Amped is one of the programs I am most proud. Every summer, budding musicians ages 11 – 17 come and are mentored by some of the most talented musicians in Athens, including members of the Drive by Truckers, Widespread Panic and many others. And, most important, they learn life skills including how to get along with and respect others.

In 2016, after thousands of musicians, artists and music lovers have passed through our doors, many having received professional counseling through us, I’m privileged to say we have been instrumental in saving lives. In my work with a Survivors of Suicide Support Group, I have talked and grieved with a wide range of people who have lost loved ones to suicide. It finally became clear to me that I needed to write about my experience not because it is unique to me but because my experience is shared by so many like me who have lost someone they love to suicide. 44,193 Americans die each year by suicide. That’s a lot of people.

As a survivor, I have a story and I feel it is incumbent upon me to share my story. Hopefully, it will help another survivor or someone suffering from major depression. And perhaps, it will enlighten and educate the ignorant who contend that mental (brain) illnesses aren’t real. You know the ones! “What have you got to be unhappy about?”  My favorite: “He took the easy way out by killing himself! What a coward!.” And the list goes on and the stigma persists.

Your research must have been intensive

I am a Registered Nurse and my husband is a Radiologist. We’ve both had mental health experience. When we identified Nuçi’s depression, I read and researched everything I could find on the subject. But the bulk of my knowledge, Nuçi taught me.  The one positive fact is that 99% of people who get appropriate treatment do well.

So tell us what took place in order for this book to be written and published.

My husband and I moved to NYC about six years ago. Having never been published before, I wasn’t sure how to go about it. After speaking to an editor and discovering that she would charge what I thought was an astronomical fee, I was very disappointed. A few days later, I met my neighbor, an old newspaper man, in the elevator. I was bemoaning my experience with the editor. He emphatically said that I didn’t need an editor, I needed his wife, a literary agent! The next night, I met with her. She was great, had a particular interest in mental illness and held my hand through the whole writing process. Thanks to her and that old newspaper man, I found my voice and my confidence. Only in New York!

What do you like most about writing? What do you like least?

I happen to love the solitude of writing. Me, my thoughts and my desktop! Although I flooded my keyboard many times while writing this book, I learned a lot about myself. Finding just the right words to express my thoughts and my feelings clarified so much for me. Also, this writing reminded me and confirmed that there were many more good times than bad ones in our life with Nuçi. He was so much more than his illness!

Are you working on the next book?

At the moment, I’m not working on another book but I’m getting that itch which can only be scratched by my typing.

I understand your book, A Beautiful Here, is being translated into Albanian. How did that come about?

This is quite significant for my family. And here comes a coincidence. My husband and I have our ritual cappuccino almost every day. On one of these occasions my husband is standing in line to order. A woman in front of him is asked by another customer, “Are you Italian?” “No,” she responds, “I’m Albanian.” My husband’s ears perk up and he interjects, “I’m Albanian too.” It happens that her parents and husband are from the same towns as my husband’s parents. She then asks my husband what he does for a living. “I’m a radiologists.” With a look of surprise, she responds, “I am too!” She has a son named Pier and my husband’s name is Pierre. It goes on and on from there. Her husband’s father knew Pierre’s grandfather! We have all become good friends. Our friends mother is translating my book! Only in New York.

Tell us how long it took you to write your book.

Once I started to write, my story poured out in torrents. It took about six months to finish.

Tell us something fun you like to do.

I love to read and consider myself a chain reader. I must have a book waiting to pick up as soon as I finish one. Yoga is what keeps me grounded and healthy. And I love walks in Central Park with my husband.

What’s next for you in writing?

Not sure yet. Recently, I had a most interesting day at Nuçi’s Space. I think I’d like to write about some of those days, of which there have been many. I’d also like to delve into the stigma which continues to weigh heavily on mental illness.

Well I hope you do, and we want you to let us know when it releases.

Thank you for sharing your story with us. I know it will help many families who have experienced a loss like yours.

Come back and see us soon.

Linda’s website is: https://www.lindaphillips.org/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Christina Yother–Part of A Journey

 

christina yotherChristina Yother is a historical and contemporary romance writer. She says, “I grew up in “quarter-pony” town in Ohio, at least that’s what my grandfather called it.” Christina blessed with fresh vegetables, seasons of sitting in front of the TV yelling during the football games and the time to spend writing–you could always find her with her journal under her arm. Moving South in college she said, “I had found my home.”

You will find this full-time writer living in Georgia with her family. She has carved out a niche for her writing and her family that works nicely together.

We are delighted to have you visit us today.

Let’s talk about your books.

reverieIn 2014, your book Reverie was released. The first book in the Hollow Hearts Series.

“Reverie is about a girl orphaned at a young age, her name is Hetty. She  is convinced that her circumstances make her unworthy of having a family of her own. When a job opportunity as a housekeeper presents itself Hetty accepts believing that working for Isaac Wheeler and his family is a welcome, if not temporary, surrogate for her own family dreams. As she’s faced with learning to trust, she discovers that wanting a family and building a family are two very different things. Will she learn to see herself as worthy of God’s gifts? Or will she return to the solitary existence that defined so much of her life?

“Isaac Wheeler, successful furniture maker and dishonorable bachelor, finds Hetty’s presence in his home to be disturbing and a haunting reminder of his past sins. As he struggles with his growing and unwanted feelings, he can’t help but torment himself with mistakes from his past. Can he navigate the family tensions, infidelity, and sudden choices destined to keep them apart? Or can Isaac endure each struggle and seek forgiveness before discovering what truly makes a family?”

Interesting. I like the creation of the orphan background.  

Three months letter in 2014 your second book in the Hollow Hearts Series was published, Reliance.

reliance  “Reliance is about two strangers. One clandestine wedding. Many hidden stories. Discouraged by his limited prospects and tired of trying to find a bride in a traditional manner, Elias Wheeler places an advertisement requesting a mail-order bride and mother for his young daughter. Rebecca Malone, eager to escape an abusive past, travels to Montana to become Elias’s wife despite only exchanging a few letters. Learning to care for one another proves easy; learning to trust proves much more difficult. Elias and Rebecca must navigate the waters of blending families while learning to depend on one another with confidence, loving support, and faith. Together they must learn to rely on each other and what they hope to build while accepting that perfection isn’t the goal; love is.”

I’ve always thought mail order brides was fascinating, how that worked, if it worked.

Now, in March of this year, your third book in the Hollow Hearts Series Reconcile was released.

reconcile   “Reconcile–Facing the truth of the past. Accepting the hope of the future. It’s about Joshua Miller’s struggles to care for his ailing father, run the town livery, and meet the demands of a spoiled fiancé. When an unexpected woman enters his life and exemplifies true compassion, he begins to question the path his life is taking. When changing his plans means destroying all he has built, Joshua will have to decide what matters most.

“Lilly Johnson arrives in her sister’s home in the frontier town of Hollow, Montana hoping she left the shame of divorce behind her. With her sister’s support, Lilly begins to build a new life and gain a sense of independence. After accepting a job as a caregiver for Joshua Miller’s father, she discovers it’s more difficult to keep her heart closed than she imagined. But when her past catches up with her, she must reconcile her beliefs in order to brave an uncertain future with an open heart.”

I really like this description, looking forward to reading this book.

Christina was a guest in Southern Writers Magazine 2015 March/April issue in “What’s the Story” Section. Thank you so much for participating in that segment. It was nice to learn more about the writing of the story of Reliance.

Cover March 2015 medFor those of you who would like to read that article you can get the magazine here.

In your writing, you have a beautiful talent of being able to capture the stories and strength of families you write about. Truly you are a woman who has pursued her dreams.

Tell us something some of our readers may not know about you.

“I am a big supporter of women learning how they can build community online. Whether it’s motherhood, writing, adoption, health and wellness, or a variety of other areas I believe women can find authenticity and camaraderie in an online forum.  In 2012, I finished my Ph.D. by writing one of the first dissertations to examine how women build communities online and how that changes or enhances the discourse surrounding their journeys.  From there I built Project Underblog, a blog dedicated to allowing all voices (no matter their social media following or website statistics) a safe and welcoming place to share their authentic stories.  The site is now three years old and we are featuring three unique stories each week without ever focusing on branding or monetizing. It’s just about good stories.”

Christina, we love to ask authors how they feel when their new book is delivered to their home. Fresh off the presses, as it were. Tell us how you feel when your books are delivered. 

“Holding my book in my hands is very surreal.  When that box arrives and I know it’s holding copies of my book I almost fear opening it.  Seeing it, touching it, smelling those pages makes is so much more alive.  I usually have to take a deep breath, find a quiet place, and try to savor the feeling of cutting through the cardboard and removing the packaging.  But when I do put my hands around it for the first time I feel butterflies – and it’s wonderful!”

What is the one thing you want your readers to take away from reading your books?

“I hope that my readers leave my books with a feeling that the time reading was well spent. I also hope that my readers understand that a spiritual journey is not stagnant. It’s constantly evolving and changing – and my books are just a piece, a small look at part of that journey.”

Thank you so much Christina for visiting with us today. It was a pleasure having you and learning more about your books and life. We look forward to hearing about your next book. So please let us know when it comes out.

Be sure and visit Christina Yother on her website, Facebook and Twitter. Addresses below.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ccyother
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ccyother
Website: https://www.christinayother.com

And don’t forget to visit www.southernwritersmagazine.com