Saturday, January 9, 2021

Faith McDonald On the Loving End of Crazy: Finding Hope and Help to Face Your Loved One's Crippling Anxiety and Depression

In this interview, Faith McDonald talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about her book, On the Loving End of Crazy: Finding Hope and Help to Face Your Loved One's Crippling Anxiety and Depression.




“We can do this together. You are not alone.” ~Faith McDonald

Faith is “an avid reader,” and as a writer, she feels the power of words when people tell her how her words affect them. She had always wanted to be a writer as a child, and along the way she encountered challenges which seemed to hinder her from doing so. It was in the 1980s when Faith began writing a column for a newspaper, when the latter invited her to do so, and the experience was “fun” for her, and since then she’s moved on to writing blogs.

Faith would describe depression that she writes about is a feeling of sadness, an inability to function in daily lives, rather than just “feeling sad” for three minutes. She remarks that, back in the mid-2015s, her university did a study that showed that thirty percent of college students suffered from depression so severely that they had difficulty attending classes. Faith also remarks that it’s likely that, during the present Covid-19 pandemic, even more people are likely to struggle with this, given the situation.

At the time Faith’s son, Matt, began suffering from severe depression in 2006, she wasn’t aware of depression as a disease, and she admits that it took her a long time to figure out what was going on, and then get him the help he needed. It was also Matt’s family which needed to realize and come to terms with what was going on, as well as seeking the help that they and Matt needed.

In Faith’s case, the depression of her son, Matt, was so bad that, compounded by Matt’s natural sense of anxiety, led him to getting arrested as well as becoming suicidal, which resulted in a 35-day stay in a hospital. In retrospect, Faith has realized that, while Matt seemed like a perfectly normal, happy child, he was naturally anxious, and it was when he was in his teens that such emotions became overwhelming. Looking back, Faith remarks that Matt reacted to new situations with a great deal of anxiety, resulting in him throwing up on occasion, as well as his not wanting to try new things. He also had some difficulty academically, and she had viewed his distancing during his teenage years as a normal part of teenage life. Where Matt was concerned, according to Faith, the experience was “really difficult,” feeling like he is “encased in cement” when he wakes up and thus finds it difficult to get up, and wishes that he could think of a reason to get out of bed.

Faith remarks that it is “heartbreaking” to be around someone who’s struggling, and of wanting to fix the situation but being unable to do so, as well as figuring out what part is hers to fix, what part is something Matt could figure out and what part is where others need to step in and help. Initially, Faith and her family figured that what was going on was by Matt’s choice, and it didn’t help that Matt masked his condition by attempting to cope by abusing alcohol and drugs. She then felt angry about the situation, and it didn’t help that her husband also had his own ideas, different from hers, about how to approach the situation. The situation was “disastrous,” and while Faith felt lonely and bewildered, she also learned that wishing for help is actually different from finding help - knowing who to call, finding the energy to actually reach out, and so on. She felt embarrassed when she started looking for help, and notes that crisis hotlines and a list of counselors are good places to look.

Faith admits that each of her family member’s reactions varied to Matt’s situation, with her younger daughter wanting the family to get help and with the older family members seeing Matt’s condition as a phase that he would eventually grow out of. Faith remarks that Matt’s condition is likely a lifetime condition and that he will need to manage it all his life, and that her family has grown into an understanding of Matt’s situation is about and has learned what is needed to help handle the situation. The community, for the most part, was supportive, and Faith remarks that: “If you ask for help … you can find someone to support you in getting that help,” adding that it was when she overcame her own embarrassment about seeking help that people started showing up in her life who could help, as well as who showed compassion. She also remarks that helping out someone to do such things as telephone calls - such as sitting right next to the person when the depressed person is making the call, or dialing the number the depressed person needs to dial - also works.

Some of the things Faith did which helped her out was praying and reflecting on that, thousands of years ago, someone went to a great deal of effort to record the words that she was reading in the Bible, as writing was a labor-intensive occupation back then, and that those words carried on for thousands of years which now reach and touch her, as well as others. “I have a great appreciation for writers throughout history who have written words of hope,” she notes. Faith also mentioned that exercising regularly helped her out, and that keeping a familiar routine also helped. She has also learned to communicate better with both her husband and her son, which was one of the main things that she learned from the counselor that she and her family consulted with.

Faith notes that she and her family are doing “better” compared to previously, because they now have better tools to deal with the situation. At the moment (wintertime 2020 - 2021), because of all the restrictions due to the pandemic, and due to the season, Matt is “struggling,” although not to the depths that he had been in before.

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Friday, December 25, 2020

Deryck Richardson on Why We Should All Go Play and Get The Ultimate Road Map to Winning the Game of Life

In this interview, Deryck Richardson talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about his book, Go Play: The Ultimate Road Map to Winning the Game of Life.



“As kids, we don’t overthink things.” ~Deryck Richardson

Borders had never much existed for Deryck, even when he was younger, and this was how he got into all the many things he did. As an African-American who grew up in a white suburb, he got acquainted with grunge music, which seemed strange to his relatives in urban neighborhoods, who were not used to “white music.” HIs first job was when he was fourteen years old, working for a “boiler room” organization which called up people to donate money to another organization. He was taught the fundamentals of sales and got “addicted” to commissions, and as he and some others were underage kids, the Attorney General of Ohio shut that down twice while Deryck was there.

Deryck went to school because he was a teenage father and, after dropping once out of college, went back in because he wanted to coach and needed a degree for that. It was then that he realized that, while he wanted to teach, he wasn’t motivated by the idea of working for a paycheck, so he got out of teaching and got into the mortgage business. He made some “big boy” money until the mortgage industry crashed in the early 2000s, then went into insurance, after which he then became a “serial entrepreneur,” owning an insurance agency and a marketing firm which is one of the fastest-growing companies in Columbus, Ohio in 2020, as well as a coffee store and being a community volunteer, author and speaker.

Deryck remarks that he had always been “the leader of the pack,” when growing up, particularly as he was the first in their group to do such things as drive a car and get a job. He had been a sales manager at the age of twenty, which reflected this “knack for leadership,” particularly since he was managing older people.

Deryck’s life experiences are a living testament to the philosophy he espouses in Go Play, noting that, as kids, whenever Mom told kids to “go play,” she didn’t specify what the kids should play with, so the kids were pretty much free to do anything they wanted. This is an attitude that Deryck remarks is something that adults don’t do “often enough,” as adults consider their life experiences and expectations of what they’re supposed to do whenever they select the things they decide to do - which is typical of the “vast majority” of people, in Deryck’s experience. “The go-getters don’t really care what people think,” he says.

Failure and stress, as well as mental health considerations as depression and anxiety stemming from failure, are, in Deryck’s opinion, some of the blocks that keep people from just going out and playing. “If you get knocked down and you’re really determined to succeed at it, you’re just gonna get back up,” he remarks. He also remarks that the people around one are likely to have failed themselves, which leads to their not having faith in one, which means, essentially, that one’s own circle of friends, acquaintances and family are likely not going to enable one to ascend. Deryck admits he feels “different” from those in his immediate circle, and while he has attempted to bring some of these along with him in business, they have decided to not go with him. “If you’re not gonna keep up with me, I’m gonna leave you,” Deryck notes after mentioning that, as he ascends, he no longer expends the energy to “reach down” to help those in his circle. Not allowing others to influence one’s decisions or actions, is, the key to doing what one wants to do, Deryck emphasizes. “They’re not you,” he remarks; “you are the only person who is you in this world.”

Deryck admits that he’s been broke before, has had failed relationships and has failed “a million times.” “I’m lucky because I get hurt all the time,” he remarks, “I get bruised all the time. And if luck means that I get back up again, then I guess I am lucky.” He also notes that luck occurs when hard work meets opportunity, and which is why he continues to put the hard work in and continues to be willing to take on the opportunities that come his way.

Deryck admits that a lot of the concepts in his book are “brand new” concepts, as this is all about setting one’s mindset. The twist here is bringing the reader back to the reader’s childhood, when the reader was seven and immersed in the mindset of just playing, of just doing while not listening to people, rather than failing when others say you fail. In addition, Deryck includes stories from his own life. “If you’re going from level to level continuously, like in a video game, then you’re winning,” he remarks, “you’re continuously improving.” He also made the book a short one, at one hundred pages, as he didn’t want readers to finish it, rather than for a racer to get to “Chapter 7” and then just put it on the shelf, never to be read again. (He’s working on two follow-up books which are, essentially, the other parts of the original, three-hundred page book which he conceptualized.)

Where the book is concerned, Deryck notes that one of the reasons it is relatable is that it can bring the reader back to the state of childhood where everything is possible, as well as that it shows how relevant the concepts are to one’s daily life, thanks to several stories that highlight these concepts. (Deryck then gave the story of the lumberjack who came out of retirement, and commented on how this would apply to everyday life, as well as how two of his present businesses came to reside in the same office, due to his willingness to change directions.)

Where today’s environment is concerned, Deryck remarks that the year 2020 is “an example of why people need to ‘go play,’” remarking that the situation, for him, was one he hadn’t encountered before. He gave the example of starting a vacation with his wife on March 15 of that year, then needing to return on the 16th to coordinate the continuation of his business, as the state of Ohio ordered businesses to close down that day. He had his tech team set things up so that his people could work for home, and he remarks that those were some of “the best decisions I made in a 24-hour period.”

Deryck advises those who have an idea to “act on it.” “What’s the worst that can happen?” Deryck asks, adding that it just might not be as good as it was, and one would still gain some wisdom and knowledge and experience if it doesn’t pan out.

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Thursday, December 24, 2020

Jim Taylor on How to Survive and Thrive When Bad Things Happen

In this interview, Dr. Jim Taylor talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about his book, How to Survive and Thrive When Bad Things Happen: 9 Steps to Cultivating an Opportunity Mindset in a Crisis.


“Look at your life. Look at things that you might want to change. Then take action.” ~Dr. Jim Taylor

Until the age of sixteen, Dr. Taylor was “an underachiever” who sabotaged his own efforts. He did, however, like alpine skiing and decided to be the best alpine skier in the world, which was why he entered a skiing school for ski racers in Vermont. He didn’t work hard in the first two years, and in the summer after those years he realized he needed to work hard at everything he did. This flipped a switch in his mind, and this drove him to becoming an international skier in the years to come. He took up psychology which, and he says: “Psychology chose me.” He then pursued his career in psychology and is now on the path of helping others with the challenges in their lives.

Dr. Taylor has never been driven by fame or money, doing things he is passionate about, particularly by sharing ideas with others. “Writing is a part of my being,” Dr. Taylor also says, adding that, if he doesn’t write about something, he’s not being authentic to himself. His main philosophical objectives are being true to oneself, following one’s passions and being willing to do the hard work. Dr. Taylor also remarks that, if one is driven by fame or work, one might achieve success with it, but there won’t be passion, meaning or joy in doing so. Where he is concerned, fame or recognition follows from doing what one is passionate and joyful in doing.

Where words are concerned, Dr. Taylor notes that these are descriptive of what one is communicating, as well as creating a shared understanding. Where the word, “crisis,” is concerned, he defines it as “a situation or event that arises suddenly, which disrupts lives and threatens the status quo.” Crises also have long-term effects on individuals and groups, and he notes that, psychologically, human beings don’t like the following things:

  • Unfamiliarity
  • Unpredictability
  • Uncontrollability

Crises thus create instability, which threatens the main human need to survive, and trauma, which has physical, psychological and social elements to it. Where the present situation (December 2020) is concerned, Dr. Taylor points out that there are several crises that are presently and simultaneously taking place, creating a “perfect storm of crises:” Covid-19 (both a personal and global health crisis), a global economic crisis, a personal financial crisis for those who have lost their jobs, a political crisis and a climate crisis, each of which are serious in themselves.

Where humans are concerned, humans are, evolutionarily speaking, hardwired to react to crises, but not in the way that the present situation demands, Dr. Taylor notes. Back when human beings emerged, the crises that they faced was an immediate, physical threat, and to resolve this, humans resort to a “fight or flight” response, which is triggered by the amygdala, whose purpose is to filter incoming information as quickly as possible, to create an immediate reaction. Modern crises, he notes, are different, as these are distant and indirect in nature, as well as beyond our immediate control, and require a different response, a different approach, one which employs the human prefrontal cortex, in what Dr. Taylor calls an “opportunity mindset.” The prefrontal cortex is the thinking part of the brain, one of the things of which it does is to weigh risks and rewards in the long term. This enables us to:

  1. create a “can do” attitude (“This is a tough situation, what can we do?”;
  2. be calm and purposeful;
  3. be deliberate and focused in response.

Dr. Taylor refers to the present situation with Covid-19, pointing out that, with an opportunity mindset, humans will focus on what they can do, to help regain control of one’s life; and where Covid-19 is concerned, Dr. Taylor notes that such measures include wearing a mask, staying at home, taking care of oneself (eating and sleeping well, exercising, looking after family and community) in a conscious and deliberate way, and physical distancing. (Dr. Taylor prefers to use “physical distancing” instead of “social distancing,” as we human beings, he points out, need to speak with other people - something which wouldn’t be possible, if “social distancing” were to be strictly followed.)  This, he notes, “takes effort,” but it is possible.

Dr. Taylor also notes that, psychologically, humans like routine, as this creates a sense of familiarity, control and predictability, and that this has been disrupted in the present environment. Social isolation is also harmful to humans psychologically and socially, he remarks, as we are social beings - even moreso  because we need to connect to solve the present crisis. Boredom, which is due to lack of stimulation is something which, he also notes, drives bad behavior, such as having too much screen time or drinking or eating excessively.

Where opportunity thinking is concerned, one should think of the situation as a challenge, rather than a threat, Dr. Taylor says, as a challenge is a situation that can be dealt with, while a threat is something one would want to run away from. Those who can would be advised to reflect and reset, as well as to make changes in their lives, as the old routine might not exactly be the life one wants, and one’s present support systems are designed to support that old routine. Finding something that re-ignites one’s motivation, something which fires one up, is also important where finding opportunity is concerned, as this will get one active, which makes one feel better, rather than withdrawing and doing nothing.

Dr. Taylor notes that a crisis hits one with “a tsunami” of negative emotions, which is why mental health issues - anxiety, depression and the like - have spiked during the pandemic. Doing something to create positive emotions - joy, excitement, fun, meaning - is important to answering the challenge, as positive emotions “turn the volume down” on negative emotions, making one less overwhelmed with what is going on; and positive emotions make one feel better, which has physical, psychological and emotional benefits. Social support and connection is also very important, as such support mitigates stress, and such support could be personal (such as from friends and family) or technical (such as receiving information from doctors who give proper information on what Covid-19 is all about and what to best do about it). Being grateful, according to Dr. Taylor, has been shown in studies to make one feel happier, by giving and receiving thanks.

Where differences in approach are concerned, Dr. Taylor points to the present political leadership in the United States, where some apply the hard-wired solution of “fight or flight” and essentially flee the situation by “sticking their head in the sand,” and where others use the opportunity mindset to get people to thinking about, and doing things, that would best suit and overcome the situation.

Where the present pandemic is concerned, Dr. Taylor notes that we should all stay vigilant; look for ways to make one’s life as good as it can be, given the present situation and mandates given; and don’t get complacent or “fatigued.”

(Those interested in getting in touch with Dr. Taylor can do so at his website, drjimtaylor.com, from where his podcast, “Crisis to Opportunity,” can be accessed.)

Purchase from Amazon: 

How to Survive and Thrive When Bad Things Happen: 9 Steps to Cultivating an Opportunity Mindset in a Crisis by Dr. Jim Taylor



Wednesday, December 16, 2020

James Buckley on Soccer and the Math Behind the Perfect Goal

In this interview, James Buckley, Jr. talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about his book, It’s a Numbers Game! Soccer: The Math Behind the Perfect Goal, the Game-Winning Save, and So Much More!.




“Everybody loves something.” ~James Buckley, Jr.

James has had a “very lucky career,” as he liked writing and sports since he was a child, and feels very lucky to be able to combine both interests in his work. Most of his work, such as biographies, is non-fiction for young readers, and he enjoys telling young people stories about the world they live in. James also loves introducing young people to the sports that he loves, mentioning that young people are just starting to jump into sports, while the adults who have been in it all their lives have a lot of insight into these. The It’s a Numbers Game! series shows how to combine math with a sport, to help kids better understand and enjoy the sports so highlighted.

Where writing is concerned, James jokingly remarks that, whenever he lacks inspiration, he looks at his refrigerator, which has all of his bills attached to this. The reminder of all the bills that need to be paid “cures writer’s block pretty quickly,” he notes. His favorite advice to young would-be writers is to “start in the middle,” and then get on to the end and the beginning later on, as well as writing about the things they are interested in and know about. Writing is something that comes easy to James, and is an activity he enjoys.

James, who started playing soccer at the age of seven, went over the history of the game briefly, going over the establishment of two different kinds of ball games (rugby football and association football) in England, and association football being called “soccer” in the United States, as the game that is presently called “American football” was already popular. He notes that immigrants brought soccer into the United States, and even today, he plays soccer whenever he can. He also shared that, during a recent World Cup, his city hosted a mini-World Cup, and there were enough players to form twelve teams.

James remarks that, when kids talk about sports, they talk about numbers, so math is a natural entry to start a conversation on a sport, adding that math and sports are usually a part of kids’ lives, and that it’s easy for kids to become familiar with math concepts if these are shown within the context of a sport. The book shows the basic math involved with the sport, such as averages and percentages, as well as such physics and geometrical concepts as triangles, vectors and diagonals, as a soccer game involves a lot of this.

Soccer doesn’t have as many statistics as sports like baseball, simply because there aren’t that many data points in soccer, which is a very free-flowing game, compared to other games, according to James, who then gives examples of some baseball statistics. That said, new statistics are presently being added to soccer, to create deeper levels of analysis, thanks to the statistics revolution that is presently taking place in sports. 

James notes that a soccer fan will pick up the book because it’s about a sport of interest, and then learn some math that one didn’t know before, while a math fan will get depth on some things that one would not be familiar with. Soccer has sixteen “Laws of Soccer,” which makes it a simple game to play, and which thus makes its basic easy to learn and understand, and is one of the reasons why it is so popular. The math involved is also easy to understand, compared to, say, baseball, which requires calculus to generate some of its statistics. Soccer thus makes concrete, to an eight-year old, esoteric (to that child) math concepts, as that child can see these play out, every day, in real life, James adds.

James appreciates readers, particularly those who read his books. “Readers make writers’ lives,” he notes.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Melissa dela Cruz on Never After: The Thirteenth Fairy (The Chronicles of Never After 1)

In this interview, Melissa dela Cruz talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about her novel, Never After: The Thirteenth Fairy (The Chronicles of Never After 1).



“If you’re a writer, you write for yourself, and you write to entertain yourself.” ~Melissa dela Cruz

Melissa had always wanted to be a writer since the age of eight, and she wrote her first article at the age of 11 on Francine Pascal, creator of the Sweet Valley High book series. Her writing the article opened up the possibility of her being an author at the age of twenty-two, and even as she worked for such companies as Morgan Stanley, she continued to write, with her first published essay coming out in 1996 and with her first published novel (and the third she had written to that date) coming out three years later. She got into journalism as she was advised to create an audience for herself as well as to prove that she could write professionally and meet deadlines. Nowadays, Melissa remarks, there are several ways to create a platform and an audience, due to social media, and authors could always try self-publishing, to get their works out, and that children’s literature has grown in the past twenty-five years.

Melissa’s favorite author is Enid Blyton, who wrote hundreds of books. Melissa, herself, writes for children and young adults, and she remarks that book publishers buy and publish series books in pairs. She writes about four or five books a year, “which is not rare in the children’s book industry,” she notes. Where her process is concerned, she takes “several years” to think about the concept, then focuses on an idea, then creates an outline, from where the drafts are written out, after which the book is edited; and given the way her process works, she can edit several different books at the same time. Melissa does create outlines and does some planning, but in general she wants her stories to “surprise” her, so she allows her stories to grow as these go along. 

Melissa draws inspiration from her experiences, as well as those ideas that interest her. “It’s about which idea can be executed for a book,” she notes. Melissa also remarks that she doesn’t work all the time and writes when “it’s easy,” so she doesn’t get burned out, and this enables her to write out “a lot” in a short amount of time. She also remarks that she’s able to get into her books everything that she wants to put in. “All my jokes are in there,” she remarks. To keep herself fresh, Melissa reads a wide variety of books.

Melissa’s creating stories for young adults comes from her identifying with these, and notes that she, along with other children’s book writers, empathize with kids and teenagers. This also comes out when she visits schools, as she admits that she is “on the side of the kids.” “That’s part of my sensibility,” she adds.

Never After builds from Melissa’s previous work, the Disney Descendants series (where she wrote Disney fairy tales), and puts her own original spin to some of these fairy tales. The main protagonist is twelve-year-old Philomena who enters the Never After world, and thanks to reading about these, she knows more about the worlds than the characters in them do. Other supporting characters also go on the journey with her, and where character development is concerned, Melissa will have “a lot of fun” writing that out.

Where her success is concerned, Melissa remarks that all authors work to become successes, which means that they need to believe that they will do well, and have the drive and the will and the desire to succeed. She notes that authors approach becoming authors in several ways, and that people can become authors at any age, citing the example of her own husband, who became an author in his forties. Melissa also advises one to learn how to handle success, as well as to distance oneself from how well or how bad one’s books are doing in the marketplace. “You have to enjoy the work, you have to like what you’re doing, you have to like yourself as a person,” she advises.

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Monday, December 7, 2020

Nicholas C. Nicholas on How His Novel Pericles and Me: A Novel of International Intrigue Was Based on Real Life

In this interview, Nick Nicholas talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about his novel, Pericles and Me: A Novel of International Intrigue.



“If you’re full of life and can laugh at yourself, you’ll get along pretty well overseas.” ~Nick Nicholas

Nick was born in Pittsburgh, as the child of Greek immigrants, who put a lot of stock in education. Nick got a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Physics, and a Ph.D. in Physics and Mathematics. Most of his career was spent working for the United States Department of Defense, and this entailed a lot of travel, such as in the Middle East and eastern Europe. Nick admits that he was interested in different places, and a lot of what he wrote in Pericles and Me is drawn from those experiences.

Early during his career, Nick was an engineering officer in the first simulated Apollo flight, which meant that he wore a pressure suit and did all the tasks that the astronauts would go through during their mission proper. The work gave NASA a good idea of what to expect during the mission, including such factors as fatigue amongst the astronauts.

One of the places Nick went to was Saudi Arabia, and the Saudis requested the National Science Foundation name him the Senior Program Manager for the Middle East. As such, he got to know quite a few high officials, and while he was well-treated, as he was a visitor in a culture that was hospitable to guests, there were some aspects of middle Eastern culture that “perplexed” him. One of the things he noticed was the easygoing willingness (in Western eyes) of those he worked with to delay projects if needed, telling a story to highlight this. He also learned Arabic, and some of his efforts to do so, as he remarked in a story, made him a minor celebrity in the city.

Another place Nick went to was the Ukraine, shortly after the Soviet Union broke up, and his partner suggested they help the Ukrainians decommission their nuclear weapons. The pair went to the main Ukranian diplomatic representative, and their intended original 30-minute meeting extended to three hours, which ended with their being invited to Ukraine to decommission nuclear weapons there, starting about February, 1992. It was also here that he met a three-star general who told him that the Soviet Union was terrified of the United States’ nuclear arsenal, stating that, if the Soviet Union, which cared only about winning and not about how many people would actually die, had the same numbers in their nuclear arsenal that the United States did, they would be the ones to launch a first-strike nuclear attack. It was also here that he befriended a man who was assigned to follow him around, and that man, who was just trying to do a job, became his adviser.

Nick also was in Germany, working on the Pershing missile system to tweak these to be better effective against the Soviet missiles that were then pointed against Western Europe. The United States had 600 nuclear armed missiles in Western Europe at that time, and it was also while he was in Germany that Nick was approached by a spy and approached to be a spy for the Soviets. Nick promptly reported the contact with security, which ended that situation.

Nick was at a meeting where the cost of nuclear strikes was analyzed, and it helped when he thought of casualties in terms of stadiums full of people, to bring the full impact of such strikes home. He also noted that it was President Regan who supported the nuclear arms race that kept the Soviet Union in check until its economy collapsed, with the Soviet Union being disbanded on December 31, 1991.

“There are a lot of true events in this,” Nick remarks about Pericles and Me, “and I challenge readers to separate the true events from the fanciful ones,” particularly because some of the most “outrageous” things were true. One of these events was when he and his partner spent a night in an insane asylum because they couldn’t find hotel accommodations. Writing the novel was actually a cathartic act for him, as some of the things that he saw and experienced during his career bothered him, such as the disjunction between what was actually saw, on the ground, and what American higher-ups believed what was going on. He just “started writing,” with no plot outline, and it took him three months to write 400 pages, with an ease of flow that surprised him greatly. He then had it reviewed, edited and published, and the resulting story has several facets in it, as well with most of the characters in the book being based on people Nick actually knew. He found writing a novel to be more “relaxed” compared to writing technical papers, and he found the advice he learned from one of his college professors - “By God, you’re going to be able to write simple declarative sentences” - to hold true when it came to diplomatic conversations, as different languages have different nuances, which result in a lot being lost in translation.

The device of using Pericles was a way Nick used to compare present and past history, particularly since the Athenians did a lot of things that the United States did, where foreign policy was concerned. One such parallel was the Athenians sending a fleet on a friendship visit to the Black Sea to quell some restive natives there, and the United States sending their Great White Fleet to the Pacific to show that the United States was interested in protecting their territories there. Where using Pericles was a plot device is concerned, one of Nick’s editors wanted him to bring Pericles in gradually, but after giving Pericles’ initial introduction into the story to two of his grandchildren to read, he decided to keep the introduction as it was, as his grandchildren liked it.

Nick acknowledges that he’s “not F. Scott Fitzgerald,” but since the story of Pericles and Me is entertaining and reasonably humorous, “that is good enough for me.” He is presently working on two books, How I Won the Cold War and I’m Not a Greek, I’m from Pittsburgh, with the latter playing on the dual cultures that most Americans have, with one part of their culture being American and the other being the ethnic group that they descended from.

Purchase from Amazon: 

Pericles and Me: A Novel of International Intrigue by Nick Nicholas



Saturday, December 5, 2020

Susana Stoica on Healing with a Loving Heart

In this interview, Susana Stoica talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about her book, Healing with a Loving Heart: Discover the Power of Energy Healing.




“Keep healthy, look for alternatives and help others to help yourself.” ~Susana Stoica

Susana had always been interested in how the brain works, and she had the option of being either an engineer (her father was an engineer) or a doctor. One of her cousins was a doctor, as it turned out, and after an experience where she learned that being a doctor was, according to her cousin, all about “cut people into pieces,” she decided to become a computer design engineer. The latter was close to her interest in discovering how the brain works, and her thesis was on computer systems which mimic the brain’s neural cells, at a time when research on this particular aspect was in its infancy.

It had been decades later, while Susana was working on neural computer design, that her husband became so ill that he likely needed hospitalization. As was typical of European males, according to Susana, he resisted going to a hospital, so she took up a healing course, during which time her hands acted on their own while she was healing on someone. The person she was working on at the time wound up being recovered from a long-term illness which her doctors couldn’t solve. This incident actually scared her off healing for a time, but she later returned to doing so after she healed her son of a tumor. The doctor who looked over her son’s tests told Susana that such healing “doesn’t happen,” and after learning about what she did, the doctor began recommending clients to her.

When Susana moved from her native country of Romania to Michigan, she worked with doctors to diagnose the illnesses some patients had. One of the things she helped out with was helping the doctor figure out what came first, as proper medical treatments do rely on such information. Susana could see the “timestamp” of the sequence in which the particular conditions appeared, and this helped the doctors heal their patients that much faster.

“Healers don’t actually heal,” Susana remarks, adding that everybody is born with an energy field that radiates from within the physical body and surrounds the latter. This field is what enables the “healing” of the physical body, and due to stresses and traumas in life, the energy field doesn’t work properly. Healers thus balance the energy field, which allows the body’s physical healing properties to work. Healers either see the energy field or, in Susana’s case, feel it with their hands. That said, Susana can, on occasion, see the body and its organs, and she first checks the person’s present energy field, particularly its combinations of frequencies. She then can sense the differences in an energy field where the body is injured, such as a missing part of the energy field where a bone is broken or heat over an inflammation. Susana also mentions that, when a person is sick, the frequency of that person’s energy field vibrates at a lower frequency than usual, and which thus means that that person has less energy available for their recovery.

Susana notes that, in children, the vibration of energy is particularly strong, so a single healing session is usually enough to heal that child. For older people, such as adults, the concern, when healing, is when the body accepts an existing injury as part of its “new normal” of being in a healthy state, and thus maintains that injury. The healer thus works to nudge the field back to its previous, uninjured state, one prior to the “new normal.”

Diagnosing by using energy healing is more sensitive than present technological equipment, Susana notes. She then explained a case where she worked with a young woman who had a bruise in her brain, one which MRI equipment didn’t detect. Susana’s healing efforts enabled the woman to have children, which she couldn’t have been able to do with the medications her doctors had given her.

One of Susana’s reasons for writing Healing with a Loving Heart was to inform people that there is still hope for healing even when modern medical technology essentially judges that there is no way to heal. Susana then remarks that she has worked with ALS cases (which is a condition when neural connections are broken) which aren’t traditional ALS cases, such as metal poisoning or a severe imbalance in the body’s trace minerals, which was what happened in an ALS case that was referred to her. Another of Susana’s reasons was that she wanted to pass on the knowledge she had accumulated, so that, once she passes on, it will be available to others.

An interesting aspect of her book is that, at the end of each chapter, there are suggestions given to people for them to ask their doctors, so the latter can better diagnose whatever condition they have. She also notes that anyone can use this energy to heal and to energize themselves.

Where the present (at the time of the interview) concern with Covid-19 is concerned, Susana remarks that Covid-19 didn’t appear to her like any illness she had encountered. She remarks that, with such illnesses as flu, whatever the variant, the same part of the energy field will be affected, but with Covid-19, the virus attacks the weak parts of the body, and this will likewise be reflected in the energy field, which means that the weaknesses in the energy field, caused by Covid-19, will vary from person to person. The virus, at the start, was highly virulent, but at the moment it’s less so, being more like the seasonal flu. That said, it could be taken in through an exchange of bodily fluids, so proper hygiene measures need to be taken to not get it, such as wearing masks and washing hands. Keeping in touch with others is likewise important in resisting the virus, and technology helps out greatly here, as is breathing clean air, since viruses and bacteria do not like oxygen.

Susana recommends that one should look for alternative doctors or alternative health practitioners, if a doctor says that one cannot be healed, as they might be able to help. She also recommends helping out others whenever possible, as doing so would be good for one’s own energy as well as for the person being helped.

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