Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Where Have I Been All My Life?

A question frequently asked by memoir writing students is: Do I tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?

There are various theories on this topic, all of which are interesting material for another blog post. Some experts advise caution, while others believe that if you do not remove the mask and reveal every asset as well as flaw, why tell the story?

Where Have I Been All My Life? is a candid memoir by Cheryl Rice that sets sail on a voyage through the churning seas that have perpetuated tremendous emotional distress in the author’s life.

The book begins with her childhood apprehension at being whisked away to summer camp and describes the intense separation anxiety from her mother that accompanied what should have been an adventurous and exhilarating experience.

She also reveals herself clinging to her mother’s pant leg as they entered her kindergarten classroom and her inability to let go, relax and play with the other children. The absence of her mother in the classroom, as well as at summer camp, left her feeling incredibly sorrowful and unsociable.

Fast forward many years to witness a Cheryl Rice whose mother is dying at the young age of sixty-seven. Cheryl walks us through the journey of attempting to cope with her mother’s illness and death and being the daughter who tries to be certain that her grieving father is managing his life without the vibrant woman who was his life and love.

Anyone who has ever lost a parent with whom they shared a loving relationship can relate to the devastation that Rice was enduring. The heart feels as though a vital chunk of it is missing and empty. I have been there, experiencing a sadness that I had never imagined when my own father passed away. Fortunately, I soon discovered that time is truly a healer, and the despair was eventually replaced by the ability to recall bits and pieces of the humorous moments, the very essence of what made Dad a unique character.

The author’s vivid description of losing her mother produced a tight knot that felt like an enormous boulder in my belly. My own mother is eighty-seven and absolutely the most beautiful person--inside and out. The very idea of a daily life without our morning and evening telephone conversations, shopping, Sunday church and brunch, as well as our holidays together, is almost inconceivable to me.

Cheryl Rice helps us realize that while friends and family certainly sympathize with our losses, they cannot possibly know the depth of our individual levels of pain. The anguish may cause us to withdraw or perhaps act and think irrationally. After all, who can ever be the same with that solid chunk of heart excised?

The author shares her reality--the good, the bad and even the outrageous. She gives us hope that grief is a temporary condition and that cell by cell, the heart miraculously mends.

Cheryl Rice


Cheryl Rice is a professional speaker and coach. Her company, Your Voice Your Vision, partners with women striving to be leaders in their own lives. When Cheryl decided to take the advice she so passionately offers her clients, she emerged with a memoir. Her essays have appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Cactus Heart, and Cure Magazine. Cheryl has M.S. degrees in both Psychological Services and Organization Development and lives with her family outside of Philadelphia. Find Cheryl Rice online at

So, consider whether or not you would tell all in your own memoir! Would you be willing to lift the veil on your innermost thoughts and actions? Would you expose yourself to potential self-righteous judgment by others? Hmmm...something to contemplate.

I will be returning soon with more information on writing, books and authors.

God bless,
Mary Anne Benedetto

Author of Eyelash, 7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing: Build a Priceless Legacy One Story at a Time!, Never Say Perfect, From Italy with Love & Limoncello and Write Your Pet's Life Story in 7 Easy Steps!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Books by Deborah Heal

Time and Again-I have often said that my computer seems to have a mind of its own. Without a doubt, the domino effect of Internet browsing that leads to hours ticking by in a flash can be a true adventure. Therefore, this book which combines time travel, history and inspiration, brought to mind how (in the wide, wide world of fiction) a computer program could literally transport one to another time and place.

Abby has many challenges ahead with a summer of overseeing young Merrideth, who resents everyone and everything except her snacks and a new computer. Abby hoped to be able to positively influence this young lady and give her a gift of faith to get her through the tough times in life. But was Merrideth even reachable?

Time and Again is the first book in a trilogy written by Deborah Heal. The following will guide you through the latest and greatest by this author:

Deborah Heal’s New Rewinding Time Series: inspirational novels of history, mystery & romance

Deborah Heal’s new Rewinding Time Series features some of the same characters from her Time and Again trilogy, but it takes place fifteen years after that amazing summer Abby came to tutor Merrideth.  (Note: You can snag Time and Again FREE for Kindle. OR get the whole boxed trilogy at a discount.)

It is not necessary to read the trilogy in order read the new Rewinding Time Series, but those who did will enjoy revisiting Merrideth Randall, who is all grown up with “history mysteries” of her own to solve. Her day job is teaching history at a small college. But after hours she turns to her first love, historical research. And she has a tool other historians can only dream of—a computer program that rewinds time! 


Field Research Location:
Columbia and Waterloo, Monroe County, Illinois.

Discover where Fort Piggot was located on the Kaskaskia Trail, whilestaying clear of attractive, single colleagues (ie. Brett!) so as not to commit career suicide, while also keeping the "rewinding time" program secret, so Uncle Sam doesn't turn into Big Brother. 

Merrideth makes a virtual visit to the 1780s, hoping to be the first to locate an ancient pioneer fort. Along the way,she gets a first-hand look at the lives of the courageous settlers of the Illinois Country, who withstood Indian attacks, hardship, and loneliness to settle the rich land.

One of the settlers is James Garretson, who risks his life to take the Gospel to the very tribe that wreaked havoc on his family. Merrideth is amazed that he could forgive a crime so huge. Hero or fool, James Garretson is the ancestor of her colleague Brett, a physics professor at her college

With her findings, Merrideth is able to help Brett with his genealogy, but she can’t tell him everything she learned—like that he inherited his black hair and green eyes from James Garretson, or that his aunt’s poetry is eerily similar to the verse Garretson’s wife Isabelle used to compose at her spinning wheel.

Brett has rock-star status on campus, but amazingly enough, he seems to be pursuing Merrideth—in spite of her firm policy against dating co-workers. She would love to tell him about her amazing program, but discretion is not his strong suit. She has secrets about herself that she’d just as soon he didn’t find out either. One virtue Brett does have is patience, and he’s quite willing to wait for Merrideth to figure things out.

from Professor Randall’s Notebook…

FIELD RESEARCH SITE: Golconda, Illinois. 
GOAL: Trace client’s Frailey ancestors—back to Scotland if possible—and get home in time for dinner.

NOTE TO SELF: Do NOT fall in love with Matthias Frailey—even though he is was quite wonderful. Remember, idiot, he’s been dead for over 175 years. 

Professor Merrideth Randall’s latest after-hours genealogy consulting gig takes her and friends Abby and John to the small southern Illinois town of Golconda on the Ohio River. She expects to have to research the old-fashioned way at the courthouse. But thankfully, her client’s ancestor Matthias Frailey once hung out in Golconda’s ancient Ferry House Inn, and that means Beautiful Houses, Merrideth’s time-rewinding software, will work after all. 

It doesn’t take Merrideth and her friends long to time-surf back to find out what they need to know about Matthias Frailey and his family. But when they become eyewitnesses to the arrival of the Cherokee on the Golconda Ferry on December 3, 1838, they cannot tear their eyes away from the tragedy that unfolds—nor from Matthias Frailey’s heroic response to it. The people are herded down Main Street on their Trail of Tears, bound for the Oklahoma Country, while the townsfolk only watch, or even cheer. But not Matthias Frailey. He does what he can to help them, especially a very spirited—and very pregnant—woman named White Dove who insists on walking so others may ride in the wagons.

Spending so much time inside Matthias’ head, Merrideth has no doubt that he is the kind, selfless man he appears to be. It’s impossible not to fall a little in love with him—despite the fact that he’s from another century. Meanwhile, in the here and now, handsome Golconda historian Aaron Landis is doggedly pursuing her. And back home her colleague Brett Garrison keeps calling while he waits for her return. But are they—or any man—worthy of her trust? Too bad there isn’t a way to time-surf in their heads. Now that would be a dating tool she could really put to good use.

Deborah Heal


Hoping you will take some time to become familiar with this author, her website and her work!

See you again soon. In the meantime, stay warm and God bless you and yours,
Mary Anne Benedetto

Author of Eyelash, 7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing: Build a Priceless Legacy One Story at a Time!, Never Say Perfect, From Italy with Love & Limoncello and Write Your Pet's Life Story in 7 Easy Steps!