New Horizons

Life changes pretty quickly, sometimes when you’re not even looking. Arizona has opened up so many new possibilities and opportunities that some days it’s hard to believe how drastically different my life is now from when I left Indiana eighteen months ago.

Arizona-Beer-Tours-Logo

My business, J.A.K. Ink, is growing quickly. The Great Arizona Beers Tours account has turned out to be a lot of fun. Even though I don’t drink beer (the downside of being allergic to wheat), I get to go on all the tours of the 99 breweries in Arizona. We’ll be heading down to Hemosillo, Sonora, Mexico on October 6th for a Showcase Conference. I’ve never been to Mexico so I am very excited. Unfortunately, it’s to far inland and there are no beaches nearby. Then, the weekend of the 15th  I get to take the tour bus up to Flagstaff for an overnight brewery tour of three breweries. Plus, I get to enjoy the fall foliage which is a rarity in the desert.

I am now on the board of the Young Writers Foundation and will be giving a presentation, a book signing, and sitting on a panel with other authors at a conference at Huntington University on October 22nd. It will be a great opportunity to meet young readers, writers, and people from various career fields. It should be an entertaining experience.

Needless to say it should be a very busy fall. Especially with the release of the first book in my new Trice Burned series, I Should Have Known … I’ve also got the first book in the spin-off to my EVE series, the Spirit Quest series, Transcendence releasing, hopefully, sometime around the holidays … if I can find the time to finish it up! Let’s not even focus on the fact that the third and final book in my With Honors series, Transferring Credits is slated for release on Valentine’s Day. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed that I can aptly manage my time and keep everything on schedule.

 And in saving the best for last, I am very proud to say that I have finally applied for my graduate program to get my masters in psychology. Classes begin on October 26th and it will take two years to complete. I submitted my application, paperwork, and essay. Now I am at the fun stage of dealing with financial aid. It’s always such a joy.  I cannot say how excited I am to finally be going after something I have been dreaming about for a long time.  

 When I look back on the last year and a half I am stunned with how things have changed so much. I found my voice, my independence, and the strength to stand on my own. My career is in a great place and rising, I love my new apartment in Phoenix, and I have someone special in my life who, thankfully, has a demanding career as well so time together is even more special, but more importantly, he supports my independence and is understanding of my own demanding schedule. It has been a long time since I’ve been truly happy … and I am. I’m exhausted, but am truly happy.

Phoenix Bound by Angie K. Elliston

PHOENIX BOUND by Angie K. Elliston: the real life story of an Adoptive Mom of 13 Shares Her Struggle Raising Traumatized Children.

Phoenix Bound coverAUTHOR BIO:

 Phoenix Bound is an unfettered detailed account of our family’s adoption experience in America.  Our honest heart-felt story will explore how we navigated through the obstacles and trials of raising 13 children, society’s expectations, and their eventual rise from the ashes of destruction to start a new life.  The goal of Phoenix Bound is to educate, support, raise awareness, and challenge all those associated with adoption.

Our family has been uniquely blended with various personalities, backgrounds, expectations, and ethnicities.  My husband practices Law and I have, for the most part, remained a stay-at-home mom.  I worked in the mental health field for 18 years (sometimes just as a relief worker when someone was sick or on vacation) and completed my master’s degree. 

After getting married, we immediately pursued our dream of adopting.  We were young and naïve’ but excited and ready to take on any challenge our dream presented us.  We wanted to show these kids that someone loved them and cared about them enough to call them their very own.  Through the next 20 years, we adopted 13 children through the foster care system, internationally and privately.  We adopted sibling groups, single ‘groups’ and fought to keep siblings together.  Our experience can be an invaluable resource to all who read it.

 Interview with Angie

Q. How was your journey as a writer to a published author? How long did it take you to get published?

 A.  It took me 5 months to finish my book, but it took about a year and a half to find a publisher that was willing to publish such a raw and honest book.  I made several revisions, edits, and even cut 20,000 words at one point. 

Writing my book was healing for me.  I can now forget the bad and concentrate on the good and on today.

 Q. What inspired you to write your first book?

 A.  Hearing parts of our ‘story’ as adoptive parents, many people told us we ought to write a book, but I had no idea how to compile our active lifestyle, the stories of 13 children and all that went on in between, into a neat 200 page book.  It wasn’t until we went to Dr. Federici (the guy who did my Forward) for the purpose of testing our children, that I understood the need for my book and knew that it was nearly time to write it.  He said that he wrote 3 books but I could reach more people and write a more powerful book by being an adoptive parent rather than an expert in the field.

 Q. Writing can be a difficult job, what inspires you to keep going?

 A. Once I started, I was on a roll.  I had a specific time I would write, I had peace and quiet and I was on a mission.  I knew that others needed to hear what I had to write, and it was therapeutic.  There are no other books to my knowledge, with such an open and honest look at adoption and society’s view of adoption.

 Q. What’s your writing process, schedule, or routine?

 A.  I generally wrote from beginning to end.  Having a bit of ADHD, I needed peace and quiet so the only time I wrote was after I had put all the children to bed.  So every night at about 9pm, I would type sitting up in my bed with my 7 year old (now 9) laying against me asleep.  He didn’t have a bed yet because we had just moved to Arizona, so I always say that he ‘helped me write my book.’  I would write until about 1 am or later each night.

 Q. Who is your favorite book character of all time? Why?

 A.  It sounds a bit silly but I think it would have to be PolyAnna because she was always filled with joy and looked at the good in life and in people.  When she had a difficult time doing that because life had begun to look so glum, others around her lifted her spirits and taught her what she had done for them.

 Q. What’s your favorite quote?

 A.  I have several favorite quotes but probably the one that comes to mind the most in what I do in life is from Mother Theresa – “We are called to be faithful, not successful”

 Q. Who would you most like to have a cup of coffee with? (Dead or alive)

            Explain…

 A. Elvis Presley.  I’m a fan of his style, his voice and his life.  I feel badly that he felt that he had to take drugs and to overdose.  I know that he started his career with Gospel Music and he believed in a higher power than himself so it’s sad that his fans, fame and society and lack of privacy seemed to push him to this end.  I would love to just sit down by the pool and chat with him.  He seemed like a good guy with a good heart.

 Q. What is your biggest pet peeve?

 A.  One of my biggest pet peeves is when people undermine my husband and I or our parenting, in front of our children.  They have no idea what that does to our children.  Biological children have a hard enough time respecting their parents.  Now amplify the fact that their adopted and they did not live with us as their authority figures their whole lives.  Undermining can be very detrimental.  And it has been to our family.

 Q. Favorite comfort food?

 A.  Chocolate Peanut Butter Milkshakes

 Q. Five books that inspire you.

 A. The Holy Bible

The Family Nobody Wanted By Helen Doss

All I really needed to know, I learned in Kindergarten By Robert Fulghum

Refuge By Bruce Beakley and Rev John and Bessie Gonleh

Captivating By Stacey Eldridge

 Q. Tell us the one most important thing about your novels. The one thing that makes them different from all other books out there.

 A.  My books are open and honest, and unique in that it shows the ‘not so pretty’ side of adoption and how we dealt with it on a daily basis.  Too many people, having good intentions, get into adoption for the wrong reasons.  Infertility, for example, needs to be dealt with before choosing adoption because the child is not going to look like you and probably will not act like you.  Adopted children also have many underlying rejection issues and security issues.  As adoptive parents, we need to deal with our own ‘baggage’ before we can help a child with their ‘baggage.’

 Q. Tell us a bit about the series? How did you come up with the concept and how many books will the entire series consist of?

 A.   It isn’t a series yet.  This is my first and only book.  I plan to write a sequel PHOENIX BOUND.  Phoenix Bound has a dual meaning – Bound for Phoenix, AZ and Rising from the ashes like the mythical Phoenix.  We are rising from the ashes of destruction, condemnation and oppression.

 Q. Are your books available on Amazon or other digital retailers as e-books?

 A.  Amazon has my e-book.

 Q. What is your marketing strategy for your books?

 A.  My primary target audience is professionals in the helping profession.  I am also willing to do workshops and seminars for groups.  My second target audience is potential adoptive parents and adoptive parents that are struggling with their child’s behaviors.  Phoenix Bound’s audience can be anyone in the adoptive triad, family and friends of adoptive families or readers who enjoy a good read (true story) with many twists and turns.

 Q. What are you working on now? What’s next?

 A.  I am currently working on a novel geared toward foster/adoptive pre-teens and teens struggling with rejection, and security issues.  The book’s goal is to draw them to a Loving God.

 Q. What is your advice to a new writer who is trying to get a publishing contract or thinking of self-publishing?

 A.  Marketing is the tough part, especially when you do not know the ins and outs of it all.

 Facebook: Phoenix Bound book      

LinkedIn:  Angie K Elliston

Personal Blog:  www.phoenixboundbook.com

Website:  www.phoenixboundbook.com

Email:  PhoenixBoundQuest@gmail.com

My book is available on:  www.farabeepublishing.com

 Excerpts

 Excerpt from Chapter SO SOON, page 34 

One cannot imagine what it was like to live with and to raise Drake unless they have had a child like him.  We wanted so much for him, but he did not seem to want anything for himself.  We wanted to love him, but he would not let us into his world. Or, perhaps we did not know how to reach him and we were angry because he would not reach out to us.  When we got the call about two little hurting girls, my heart broke.  I wanted them, but my logical, unyielding husband was hesitant to add young girls to our family with Drake’s issues.  I begged and pleaded. I explained that I could do it.  After all, when we want something bad enough, we feel we can do anything, similar to a superwoman attitude.  James gave in.  He too, was taken by their description and the older girl’s desire for a home.  He too, was excited about adding to our family.  My only hesitation now was the realization that the washer would now be working overtime. 

 The next day, I called the county back and told them we would adopt the two little girls.

 “Oh no, we are looking for a foster family that is dually certified as an adoptive home, not necessarily a home that will adopt them.”

 I said, “Right.  We are an adoptive home.  We are not a foster home.  You did not call a foster home.  We would like to adopt them.”

“But you have not met them yet.”

“Good point,” I thought.  Then I asked, “Why?  Did you meet your children first?”  I knew this worker had not adopted one child, let alone any of her children.  My comment was met with silence for what seemed like several minutes.  Finally, the voice on the other end of the telephone line agreed with me that she had not met her children before having them.  It gave her a new perspective.  After dealing with foster-adoptive workers for more than two decades, I see that they do not agree with adoption.  They feel the children need to resemble the adoptive parents, and they do not feel that adoptive parents can truly love a child that is not their own.  As a result, workers typically misunderstand families who have a troubled adopted child.

Excerpt taken from pages 55 and 56, Chapter:  A MIRACLE AMID OUR PAIN

That prayer was answered one night a couple years after Brittani and Chloe’s adoption.  The week following Kelven’s death we went to an old-fashioned tent revival in the middle of a cornfield in a nearby town.  There was a guest speaker from the Netherlands who I am sure was fantastic.  Now and then we would hear something he was saying, but much of the time was spent pointing out the people seven rows ahead of us.  Brittani stared, whispering to James that she and Chloe had visited this woman’s home with their mother and Toni’s father.  She remembered writing on her basement wall with crayon.  Being a child’s distant memory, it was a cute story, but when James noticed the little girl sitting with the family, he declared emphatically, but quietly, “Yeah, well, that little girl looks like Brittani.”  One of the girls in that family had turned to see us and seemed to have told the mother.  Soon after, this family hurriedly got up to leave in the middle of the service. 

James and the two girls immediately got up and chased them down outside the tent.  He began speaking to the woman by explaining that the girls, Brittani and Chloe, seem to remember her.  The woman hesitated nervously and replied, “Yes, I am Dedra,” and as she spoke she turned the little girl to the front of her and announced, “And this is their little sister Toni.”  Onlookers outside the tent revival activity caught on to what was going on, realizing it was a miraculous reunion of blood sisters torn apart by life’s circumstances, and began to smile and tear up.  Our families exchanged telephone numbers, and Dedra agreed to let us visit with Toni soon. 

 Excerpt from page 118, Chapter:  Our Little Melting Pot

Our family was the melting pot for Josh and Samuel.  African little ones joining Hispanic teenagers with African American and Caucasian older children.  I understand it is not ideal that children are not raised by their birth parents, but where that is not possible, I believe that a uniquely-blended family can make all the difference to a child in need of the love and safety of a family.  As a family, we incorporate their differences, their individuality, their ethnicities, and their similarities.  We celebrate their differences without making them embarrassed or putting too much emphasis on them.  We also celebrate the fact that they were adopted without putting it in their face regularly.  We kept the lines of communication open to all of it.

Every day was filled with joy for me as I watched our newest little ones play.  During their naps, I missed them dearly.  I hated to put them down for bed at night.  I could not wait until they got up, so I could watch them some more.  I was mesmerized.  It was as if I was finally happy and complete for the first time in my life.  I was not being treated like a second-class citizen by them in my home like the older girls often had.  Brittani stated that it was difficult to be in a bad mood with those two boys around.  I was glad because a bad mood seemed to be her norm, but Josh and Samuel’s presence slowed her down.  The two boys had a joy I had never seen before.  It surprised me, especially being from a third-world country, being malnourished and coming from such poverty.  They laughed.  They played.  They smiled.  Everyone loved them.  Our family was melting together one more time.  I was content.

Forward

“Phoenix Bound”

As an expert in international adoption medicine and child development for the past 30 years, reading “Phoenix Bound” brings home the complexities that adopted parents are challenged with in dealing with children coming from traumatic backgrounds.  While this book not only highlights the intense struggles of the children as well as the adopted parents who are often left with virtually no substantial support from educational, psychological or private sectors within the community, the book also brings forward the innate strength and resiliency of families such as the Elliston’s who have taken upon themselves to “navigate the maze” of unchartered and “restricted ground” as our educational, psychological and social service system has absolutely and unequivocally no “unified understanding” of how to deal with adoption-trauma cases in children who have come from the most profoundly damaged backgrounds.

Additionally, the authors of this book have found their own means of developing a “support system” and, painstakingly, have found a way to develop a “set of resources” with adoption medicine professionals who have been able to both support them while also unraveling the mysteries and complexities that all of their children have been challenged with throughout the course of their development.

Phoenix Bound makes no secret of the severity of abuse, neglect, deprivation, chaos and confusion that their children have experienced in their home countries in addition to the unwillingness of American medicine and psychological professionals to understand and support their cause.  This is an incredible book highlighting the resiliency of the human spirit of the children in addition to the incredible commitment of parents who have taken on the most damaged children in which traditional psychology would have failed them every time and the parents, themselves along with their own “network” have found ways for positive change and rehabilitation on their “Phoenix Bound Quest.”

 It is with great pleasure and respect that this forward is being written as this book will provide a “road map and blueprint” for other families who continue to be on a journey in finding ways to find peace for their children as the Elliston family has found in the warmth of Phoenix as well as the community which has welcomed the entire family.

It is truly a moving and poignant story that should be read by all adoptive parents and professionals alike who work with children and families from adoption-trauma backgrounds.

 Author Website

 Farabee Publishing

 LinkedIn:  Angie K Elliston

 Email:  PhoenixBoundQuest@gmail.com

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And Then She Flew by Jen Labesky

untitledThe debut novel, And Then She Flew by Jen Labesky is a captivating page turner. Jen has displayed the raw understanding of the pain that comes from losing a parent(s) and how it can devastate the psyche of one so young. Her portrayal of Anna and her fear of loving someone again resonates with readers and anyone who has lost someone close to them either by death or simply the ending of a relationship. She demonstrates how difficult it can be to move forward and then shows the power of true love and friendship and how it can ultimately change your life.

Jen was kind enough to send me a copy of this book and I am so thankful she did. I truly enjoyed it and devoured it in a couple of days (it only took me that long because I was trying to attempt working on my own books, which I failed at miserably because I had difficulty putting hers down). I grew up with Jen in the small town of Brownsburg, Indiana where we started out in first grade together (I even threatened to post her first grade photo as her author pic, hehe). While life has taken us to opposite ends of the country, we have managed to maintain our friendship and actually have even grown closer. I am honored to call this new amazingly talented, upcoming writer, my friend.

Check out the synopsis and jump over to Amazon to pick up your copy. Believe me, you won’t be disappointed!!

Synopsis:

On May 28, 1977, ten-year-old Anna Cunningham fell hard … hard. The night her parents were killed, her picture-perfect childhood was shattered, and her heart slammed shut.

Twenty-five years later, her psychology practice has stagnated, her love life consists of one-night stands with beer-bellied rednecks. She’s numb. She’s alone. And she’s okay with that – it’s safer that way. But when a quirky little girl named Sunshine barges into her life, Anna is catapulted into a journey she is not prepared to make.

As the Bloomfield Police scramble to catch a serial-rapist, and Anna’s patients struggle with demons of their own, Anna fights with all her power to stay in the safe, numb world she has created … but it seems little Sunshine has different plans.

And Then She Flew is a story of how life can shatter into a million pieces, splintering our wings. But with love, the pieces can come together again, and even broken wings can fly.

Buy it now!  jen