Tag Archives: memoir

Author of the Month

TellWell publishing consultant Jennifer Chapin sits in the author seat to publish her new book

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Saint Augustine, the Christian theologian and philosopher once said: “The world is a book. And those who do not travel read only a page.”

This sentiment echoes through the work of Jennifer Chapin who blends her love of the publishing industry with travel, philosophy, and a little magic.

By day, Chapin is a publishing consultant at TellWell whose main role is to inspire people to trust their work and take the leap of faith into self-publishing. By night, Chapin takes those leaps herself – travelling in her mind to ancient civilizations and fleshing out characters on paper.

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Chapin has just published her second book, The Poet and The Angel, which is connected to her current role at TellWell in that, as she brings the poet’s voice back to life and onto the page, she encourages authors to do the same with their voices. The novella also resonates with her former career in the non-profit sector.

“I have long been committed to the areas of social and environmental justice, through my pen and through being outspoken on issues that are of concern to me. Federico Garcia Lorca’s [the ‘Poet’] character resonates with me completely. I understand his defense of the downtrodden and I share his commitment to speaking out against tyranny,” said Chapin.

An avid traveller and photographer, Chapin weaves her first-hand experiences into her prose to successfully transport the reader to a new place. But don’t flag this as a fluffy travel novel. Chapin uses her writing as a vehicle to discuss bigger issues: freedom, tyranny and the truth.

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Guest Post

Conversations from a Coffee Shop: Transforming my Personal Struggles into Success through Writing by Jason Lee

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“Why don’t you write a book about your life?” asked my ex-wife as she poured herself a cup of earl grey tea one summer afternoon.

We were sitting on the empty patio at Gallagher’s coffee shop in Port Moody, listening to the sounds of birds chirping in the background of our conversation.

“Nobody would want to read about my story,” I chuckled shaking my head. “No one cares about my childhood abuse, or how my anger destroyed so many relationships.”

She grimaced and coyly nodded in agreement about how my anger ripped apart our marriage over 15 years ago. She took a sip of her tea and smacked her lips. “You never know. I think you’re not the only person who’s struggled. And how you’ve turned things around for yourself can be uplifting to so many people and can bring hope.”

I looked up and stared into the bright blue sky. A gentle breeze brushed against my face as I paused for a moment in deep thought.

Later that evening in my apartment, I continued thinking about our conversation. Was she right? Do other people also struggle managing their emotions, namely anger? Does depression and anxiety affect others making them feel helpless and lost, just like how I felt? I picked up a pad and pen and began jotting down notes. Somewhere in there, I scribbled the words, “recovery…anger…abuse…mental health and living with the dragon.”

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Author of the Month

Canadian author and songwriter Colleen Songs shares of caregiving to mental illness

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In light of Bell Let’s Talk and a growing conversation on mental illness, Canadian author and songwriter Colleen Songs offers her perspective as the caregiver and loved one to a partner who was mentally ill.

She shares with readers her escape from a significant other with a narcissistic personality disorder and mental illness, in her memoir INHALE.

 

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Through this book and her signing career, she aspires to ignite the voice of the caregiver – who suffers a great deal of abuse and heartbreak as the person they’ve grown to love disappears so suddenly.

“They can transition in a heartbeat,” says Songs. “The quickest thing could shut him off, and I could see it on his face,” she adds.

But, it’s equally important to the author to use her creative gifts of writing and music, to inspire those who are mentally ill to tap into their talents and passions.

“Witnessing the mentally ill exercise their gifts and talents confirmed their happiness and awakening desire to live,” explains Songs. “They can cope better.”

While this has been an extremely cathartic exercise for Songs, writing, and then publishing and promoting this book has brought forth a plethora of emotions, doubts, fears and hesitations about how the telling of her story will affect her loved ones.

Songs says she’s been especially concerned about her children, and how publishing her story will affect them.

“I was afraid of hurting them to the point of almost not publishing. But inside I kept having this feeling that it would release them too. And sure enough, it did!”

Songs says her son, who was 12 when she left home to care for her late ex-husband, felt the book gave him clarity and filled in the gaps he never understood about the relationship that took such a toll on their family.

Her daughter, who was in her late teens at the time, felt the book relieved her of the guilt she’d been carrying, having seen things in the relationship that at the time she didn’t know what to do about.

Beyond the opportunity to reflect and gain clarity, Songs needed to write to gain closure from the past, and talk about how her family got to where they are today.

“With every word I felt such a release of pressure off of my chest, heart, mind and conscience! I carried so much guilt, so much survival-fear for so long that I wasn’t even really trusting nor enjoying my current state of healthy-love and life,” she says.

And finally, she’s starting to let go. “I thought there was enough closure when I finally left. I thought there was enough closure when I heard he’d died. But I only gained a sense of closure through writing,” says Songs.

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Author of the Month

Sally Walls shares her ‘nightfall to daybreak’ in emotionally raw book on losing her son

sally-birthday_1-copyPrior to becoming a published author, Walls admits that she was always in love with writing. “I’ve grown up always being a writer of some sort,” she says. “I like people. And therefore, when you put the two together I like storytelling because they kind of go together. I like to write about people, what I hear, and what I see.”

Although Walls had written two manuscripts about the tragic event, she never felt that it was the right time to publish her work. About five years ago, Walls attended a writer’s conference in New Mexico and had her work critiqued.

“I met some American publishing groups and they were all sort of giving me the green light, ‘Go ahead. This is good,’” she explains. “And yet I came back and really felt I had to sit on it. I really felt like it was not my time to tell the story yet.” With 2017 marking the 10-year anniversary of her son’s death, the author admits she “found her voice” and felt that it was ultimately time to share her experience.

After her other son left for Berlin following New Year’s Day, Walls immersed herself in writing this book. From January to May, the difficult writing process forced her to recall the heartbreaking memories.

“I didn’t think it was possible to have so many tears,” she says. “After ten years of letting go of my son, I was actually amazed at how much emotion it evoked. There would be some days that I would be going deep into my memories to craft a story because I had written the book in a series of snapshot stories to tell his life. There were days where I would really have to lay my head on my desk and just sob until I let go of some of that pain that had found me.”

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Author of the Month

“It’s okay to look back, but you don’t have to live there” – Kathy Tuccaro encourages readers to DREAM BIG!

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We’ve all heard the saying “people can change” at one point or another. While we might not always believe it, there’s no denying Kathy Tuccaro did just that.

After years of physical, verbal and sexual abuse, assault, violence, eating disorders, substance abuse, job loss and homelessness, Tuccaro decided to start writing a different ending for her story.

She sought the help she needed through a Women’s Recovery Program, got her certification in Occupational Health and Safety, and now drives the biggest truck in the world through the Alberta Oil Sands.

In her self-published memoir DREAM BIG! Tuccaro shares her journey from what she describes as the “root cellar of Rock Bottom” to inspirational triumph.

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“I have always said I would write a book about my life because nobody would believe me otherwise,” she says. After being encouraged by others at speaking events she attended last year, she decided to start writing.

“I started with a pen and paper while sitting in the 208,000L water truck at work, waiting under the water tree for the tank to fill up. I had written the book within a month,” she says.

It was no easy feat to describe the physical and mental abuse she endured throughout her childhood, nor the sexual assault she faced in her modelling career at 17. Even after relocating to Jasper for a fresh start in 1991, Tuccaro was still confronted with challenges.

She graduated from her nursing program in 1998 as a divorced, single mother with a 3-year-old daughter. After several more years of physically and emotionally abusive relationships, Tuccaro resorted to self-harm and alcohol abuse, which ruined her career. With no job, she was evicted and her daughter stopped speaking to her.

“I had pushed everything into the background my entire life, and kept pretending that I was tough and that I could handle it until the time came when I lost my nursing career for good and relapsed hard with my drinking,” says Tuccaro.

But the gravity of the situation hit even harder during the week she spent living on the streets, when her depression could no longer be avoided or forgotten.

“A man named Toothless Joe slapped me on the back and said, ‘This is the life! Live it! Love it!’ and smiled a great big toothless grin! He was quite content of the life he was living, and the sheer shock of hearing him say that stunned me,” she says.

That was the moment that triggered her to get help. But, even after spending nearly two years in a women’s recovery program, landing a full-time job as a Heavy Equipment Operator, driving a 400 tonne 797F Caterpillar Truck, and initiating and participating in several community initiatives, the pain from her past lingers. “You still relive it as you write about it,” Tuccaro explains.

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Tellwell Books

WWII veteran writes memoir so his story will be remembered

Each year there are fewer and fewer Second World War veterans, and as they pass away, a lot of their war stories atyphoon-fighter-pilotre lost with them.

But WWII Canadian fighter pilot, Jack Henry Hilton, put his memories in a book so they won’t be forgotten.

Tellwell published his memoir The Saga of a Canadian Typhoon Fighter Pilot in 2015.

The 97-year-old writes about his time behind the stick destroying enemy tanks, trains and bridges. He survived four crashes in his Hawker Typhoon fighter plane and flew 100 missions over Europe, including on D-Day.

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