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Writer Involvement

Published Author Support

Andrew SolomonQuestion:  What do internationally published authors Susannah Cahalan, Richard Louv, Kimberly Rae Miller, Elyn Saks, and Andrew Soloman all have in common? 

Answer:  They've all collaborated with to support our grassroots international writing community.

As an award-winning international writing community, is fortunate to have the support of many published authors.  Published authors supporting StageofLife.comFrom sharing words of wisdom with our emerging student bloggers to providing personally autographed copies of their books or novels as prizes for our monthly international writing contests, we celebrate (with the highest gratitude) the involvement of these professional writers who work with us to help spread the word of our organic and word-of-mouth mission to change the world, one story at a time.

The following authors have worked with

Participating Authors:

Deron Boyles

Autographed Book Donation: The Corporate Assault on Youth: Commercialism, Exploitation and The End of Innocence (Peter Lang Publishing Inc, 2008)

Book Overview: The Corporate Assault on Youth examines childhood as a social construction increasingly influenced by corporations and commercialism. Through case studies, critical analysis, and historical/philosophical research, the essays collected here expose the degree to which children are unwitting targets of marketing. With topics ranging from the presence of media branding in schools and school supplies to the subtler ways in which the public education system is influenced by corporate ideologies and purposes, this book draws much-needed attention to how educators, administrators, policymakers, parents, and children can become aware of, and counterbalance, the effects of the commercialism that is overwhelming students’ understanding of the world and their place within it.

Susannah Cahalan

Susannah Cahalan

Autographed Book Donated: Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness (Simon & Schuster, 2013)

Book Overview: When twenty-four-year-old Susannah Cahalan woke up alone in a hospital room, strapped to her bed and unable to move or speak, she had no memory of how she’d gotten there. Days earlier, she had been on the threshold of a new, adult life: at the beginning of her first serious relationship and a promising career at a major New York newspaper. Now she was labeled violent, psychotic, a flight risk.

What happened?

Deanne Durrett

Autographed Book Donation: Unsung Heroes of World War II: The Story of the Navajo Code Talkers (Bison Books, 2009)

Book Overview: On February 23, 1945, U.S. Marines claimed victory in the battle of Iwo Jima, one of the most important battles in the Pacific islands during World War II. Instrumental to this defeat of Japanese forces was a group of specialized Marines involved in a secret program. Throughout the war, Japanese intelligence agencies were able to intercept and break nearly every battlefield code the United States created. The Navajo Code Talkers, however, devised a complex code based on their native language and perfected it so that messages could be coded, transmitted, and decoded in minutes. The Navajo Code was the only battlefield code that Japan never deciphered. Unsung Heroes of World War II details the history of the men who created this secret code and used it on the battlefield to help the United States win World War II in the Pacific.

Quote for Stage of Life: "I've been writing since 1970 and it is the joy of my life. Writing nonfiction requires massive research including a lot that the author must know although it doesn't seem to
appear in the book. It's all part of the effort to "get it right." When writing about other people and their lives a writer owes it to them, and their readers, to make every effort to "get it right." I hope you will always remember that as you make every effort to make every manuscript the best you can write. Be true to your subject, true to yourself, and true to your reader."

Freedom Writers Foundation

Book Donated: Teaching Hope: Stories from the Freedom Writer Teachers and Erin Gruwell (Broadway Books, 2009)

Book Overview: Now depicted in a bestselling book and a feature film, the Freedom Writers phenomenon came about in 1994 when Erin Gruwell stepped into Room 203 and began her first teaching job out of college. Long Beach, California, was still reeling from the deadly violence that erupted during the Rodney King riots, and the kids in Erin’s classroom reflected the anger, resentment, and hopelessness of their community. Undaunted, Erin fostered an educational philosophy that valued and promoted diversity, tolerance, and communication, and in the process, she transformed her students’ lives, as well as her own. Erin Gruwell and the Freedom Writers went on to establish the Freedom Writers Foundation to replicate the success of Room 203 and provide all students with hope and opportunities to realize their academic potential. Since then, the foundation has trained more than 150 teachers in the United States and Canada. Teaching Hope unites the voices of these Freedom Writer teachers, who share uplifting, devastating, and poignant stories from their classrooms, stories that provide insight into the struggles and triumphs of education in all of its forms.

Gabrielle Hamilton

Autographed Book Donation: Prune (Random House, 2014)

Book Overview: Highly original in concept, execution, look, and feel, the Prune cookbook is an inspired replica of the restaurant’s kitchen binders. It is written to Gabrielle’s cooks in her distinctive voice, with as much instruction, encouragement, information, and scolding as you would find if you actually came to work at Prune as a line cook. The recipes have been tried, tasted, and tested dozens if not hundreds of times. Intended for the home cook as well as the kitchen professional, the instructions offer a range of signals for cooks—a head’s up on when you have gone too far, things to watch out for that could trip you up, suggestions on how to traverse certain uncomfortable parts of the journey to ultimately help get you to the final destination, an amazing dish.

Lisa Verge Higgins

Autographed Book Donation: Random Acts of Kindness (Grand Central Publishing, 2014)

Book Overview: Claire Petrenko always knew it was coming. Breast cancer has already claimed both her mother and her younger sister. Now, as she cobbles the pieces of her life back together, the devastating family legacy returns, and Claire receives the same diagnosis. So when her old friend Jenna Hogan suddenly shows up at her door-like a fairy godmother offering to grant a wish-Claire seizes the chance to revisit her past . . . and salvage her future.

What begins as an impulsive trip soon becomes an odyssey as the women cross the country, gathering friends as they make their way to their childhood home of Pine Lake. There, they discover that Jenna's random act of kindness has rippled out into the world like a stone dropped into a pond, surging back to transform all their lives in ways they never expected.

Marya Hornbacher

Marya Hornbacher

Autographed Book DonatedMadness: A Bipolar Life. Mariner Books (2009)

Book Overview: In 1998, at age twenty-four, Marya Hornbacher published the Pulitzer Prize–nominated, best-selling Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia. Now, still a young woman, Hornbacher tells the story that until recently she had no idea was hers to tell: that of her life with Type I ultra-rapid-cycle bipolar disorder, the most severe form of bipolar disease. 

In Madness, Hornbacher relates that bipolar can spawn eating disorders, substance abuse, promiscuity, and self-mutilation, and that for too long these symptoms have masked, for many of the three million people in America with bipolar, their underlying illness.
  Through scenes of astonishing visceral and emotional power, she takes us inside her own desperate attempts to counteract violently careening mood swings. How Hornbacher fights her way up from a madness that all but destroys her, and what it is like to live in a difficult and sometimes beautiful life and marriage—where bipolar always beckons—is at the center of this brave and heart-stopping memoir. -Marya’s personal website

Randye Kaye

Randye Kaye

Autographed Book Donated: Ben Behind His Voices: One Family’s Journey from the Chaos of Schizophrenia to Hope (Rowman and Littlefield Publishers 2011)

Book Overview: When readers first meet Ben, he is a sweet, intelligent, seemingly well-adjusted youngster. Fast forward to his teenage years, though, and Ben's life has spun out of control. Ben is swept along by an illness over which he has no control—one that results in runaway episodes, periods of homelessness, seven psychotic breaks, seven hospitalizations, and finally a diagnosis and treatment plan that begins to work. Schizophrenia strikes an estimated one in a hundred people worldwide by some estimates, and yet understanding of the illness is lacking.

Through Ben's experiences, and those of his mother and sister, who supported Ben through every stage of his illness and treatment, readers gain a better understanding of schizophrenia, as well as mental illness in general, and the way it affects individuals and families.

Richard Louv

Autographed Book Donation: Last Child in the Woods (Algonquin Books, 2008)

Book Overview: In his landmark work Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv brought together cutting-edge studies that pointed to direct exposure to nature as essential for a child’s healthy physical and emotional development. Now this new edition updates the growing body of evidence linking the lack of nature in children’s lives and the rise in obesity, attention disorders, and depression. Louv’s message has galvanized an international back-to-nature campaign to “Leave No Child Inside.” His book will change the way you think about our future and the future of our children

Kimberly Rae Miller

Autographed Book Donation: Coming Clean: A Memoir (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013)

Book Overview: A stunning memoir about a childhood spent growing up in a family of extreme hoarders and hiding squalor behind the veneer of a perfect family. Kim Miller is an immaculately put-together woman with a great career, a loving boyfriend, and a beautifully tidy apartment in Brooklyn. You would never guess that she spent her childhood hiding behind the closed doors of her family’s idyllic Long Island house, navigating between teetering stacks of aging newspaper, broken computers, and boxes upon boxes of unused junk festering in every room—the product of her father’s painful and unending struggle with hoarding. In this coming-of-age story, Kim brings to life her experience of growing up in a rat-infested home, concealing her
father’s shameful secret from friends for years, and of the emotional burden that ultimately led to an attempt to take her own life. And in beautiful prose, Miller sheds light on her complicated yet loving relationship with her parents that has thrived in spite of the odds. Coming Clean is a story about recognizing where we come from and the relationships that define us—and about finding peace in the homes we make for ourselves.

Melody Moezzi

Melody Moezzi

Autographed Book Donated: Haldol and Hyacinths: A Bipolar Life (Avery Trade 2013)

Book Overview: Born to Persian parents at the height of the Islamic Revolution and raised amid a vibrant, loving, and gossipy Iranian diaspora in the American heartland, Melody Moezzi was bound for a bipolar life. At 18, she began battling a severe physical illness, and her community stepped up, filling her hospital rooms with roses, lilies and hyacinths. -Amazon

Quote for Stage of Life: "Sharing our stories as people living with mental illness is by far the most powerful way to fight stigma and discrimination. It’s our best weapon against the insidious culture of shame and silence that surrounds mental illness today. Sharing my story has been a wonderful experience. It has connected me with so many wonderful people, and it has given me a platform through which to help others. Initially, I was afraid to “come out,” particularly as a professional, as I knew it could damage my credibility. No doubt, it did damage my credibility in certain circles, but then again, it gave me so much more credibility in other circles. And quite honestly, the former circles no longer interest me, as the people who might dismiss me on account of my diagnosis aren’t people I’m interested in interacting with anyway.  Having a mental illness is painful to say the least, but it doesn’t have to stand in the way of realizing your dreams. Being blessed with a mind that veers from the norm makes you extraordinary by definition. A mental health condition can open doors and windows and skylights where “normal” people can’t even see them. If you ask me, that’s pretty damn cool, not to mention empowering."

Stacy Pershall

Stacy Pershall

Autographed Book Donated: Loud in the House of Myself. W.W. Norton & Company (2012).

Book Overview: Stacy Pershall grew up as an overly intelligent, depressed, deeply strange girl in Prairie Grove, Arkansas, population 1,000. From her days as a thirteen-year-old Jesus freak through her eventual diagnosis of bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder, this spirited memoir chronicles Pershall’s journey through hell and her struggle with the mental health care system. -Amazon

Quote for Stage of Life: “There are enough people who hate themselves already.  You don't have to be one more." -Loud in the House of Myself.

"Every time you come out to one person as having a mental health disorder, you change the world.  Eliminating stigma happens one person at a time.  Just giving someone the vocabulary to address what's happening to them -- for example anorexia, bulimia, self-harm -- is a powerful thing. 
On a personal level, telling my story as a mental health speaker is like anti-suicide insurance.  Before I got the right treatment, I was certain I'd die by suicide; it was just a matter of time.  Now it's not all about me.  I have to stay alive so I can keep other people alive.  Killing myself has ceased to be an option.

You can recover. Once you get the right diagnosis and treatment, you can have a life worth living.  However, getting those things can be really tough, especially in America, where you have two major obstacles: insurance and geography.  

There are three ways to eliminate these obstacles:
--First, see what benefits are available to you, such as Medicaid, community mental health centers, and sliding-scale fees. 
--Second, exhaust all treatment resources.  Whatever is available in your area, try it, even if it's just a talk with a general practitioner.  Anything is better than nothing.
--Third, become an activist.  Nothing will change until we educate ourselves, educate others, and clearly articulate our needs.  Learn the words, learn the statistics, read the current research, and be ready to have this conversation whenever the opportunity arises.  This is the one and only way to change the world.

And remember: even when you have nothing else, you have books."   

Mary Pipher

Autographed Book Donation: Writing to Change the World (Riverhead Books, 2007)

Book Overview: In these tumultuous times, don't we all want to be heard? Who doesn't want to transform the world? And who doesn't harbor a secret ambition to write? Writing to Change the World is intended to help people who have a message they're passionate about to convey it clearly through writing. Inspired by a course of the same name that Mary Pipher taught at the University of Nebraska's National Summer Writers' Conference, this book encapsulates her years of experience as a writer and therapist, as well as her extensive knowledge of the craft of writing.

Elyn Saks

Elyn Saks

Autographed Book Donated: The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness. Hyperion (2008)

Book Overview:  Elyn R. Saks is an esteemed professor, lawyer, and psychiatrist and is the Orrin B. Evans Professor of Law, Psychology, Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences at the University of Southern California Law School, yet she has suffered from schizophrenia for most of her life, and still has ongoing major episodes of the illness.

The Center Cannot Hold is the eloquent, moving story of Elyn's life, from the first time that she heard voices speaking to her as a young teenager, to attempted suicides in college, through learning to live on her own as an adult in an often terrifying world.

Saks discusses frankly the paranoia, the inability to tell imaginary fears from real ones, the voices in her head telling her to kill herself (and to harm others); as well the incredibly difficult obstacles she overcame to become a highly respected professional. -Amazon

Lizabeth D. Schuch

Lizabeth D. Schuch

Autographed Book Donated: More Than Bipolar: A Memoir of Acceptance and Hope (iUniverse 2012)

Book Overview: Until she experienced her first manic episode at the age of seventeen, author Lizabeth D. Schuch had little knowledge of mental illness. From that point on, her life would never be the same. In her memoir, More Than Bipolar, she discusses her twenty-five years of experience with bipolar disorder, sharing the wisdom attained to break the hold of stigma, shame, and fear surrounding this illness. Schuch reveals the full reality of what living with this illness looks like. She shares the truth, from its manic and depressive extremes to the life lessons of understanding and maturity necessary to live well in recovery.

More Than Bipolar also provides information about the importance of getting a proper diagnosis, working with the medical providers, trusting your own instincts about your care, and having the insight to know when the warning signs are leading you in the wrong direction. More Than Bipolar focuses on knowledge gained and strength restored on the path of a complete bipolar journey.

It shows that living well with bipolar disorder is possible and may indeed be a part of the diagnostic picture. (-Amazon)

Karen Winters Schwartz

Karen Winters Schwartz

Autographed Books Donated: Where Are the Cocoa Puffs?: A Family’s Journey through Bipolar Disorder (Goodman Beck Publishing, 2010) and Reis’s Pieces: Love, Loss, and Schizophrenia (Goodman Beck Publishing, 2012)

Book Overview for Reis’s Pieces: Professor Reis Welling's life is idyllic. A respected professor of botany at Cornell, he's been granted early tenure, has received a grant to carry out field research in the Adirondack Forest, and has met Ellen, the love of his life. Everything is perfect--that is until the forest turns its back on him, department heads start spying on him, Ellen starts lying to him, and all start transmitting thoughts into his head. Herein lies Reis's slow and insidious descent into a vicious and damaging world of mental illness.

Book Overview for Where Are the Cocoa Puffs?: As eighteen-year-old Amanda spirals into mania, her father, psychiatrist Dr. Jerry Benson, sees the realization of his worst fears: his daughter is not just moody, but truly ill. With his words, his diagnosis--manic depressive illness--his world and that of his family is forever altered. Carol, Amanda's mother, struggles with the guilt and shame of having raised a "crazy" daughter. Christy, Amanda's fifteen-year-old sister, denies the illness; after all, my sister's a bitch is so much easier to accept.  Meanwhile, the Bensons' extended family offers up everything from unconditional support to uncomfortable scrutiny as Amanda careens between bouts of frightening violence, cosmic euphoria, and suicidal despair. Then there's Ryan, an architecture student who is initially ensnared by Amanda's manic sexuality, but is ultimately captured and held throughout the chaos by the force of love and strength of family. (-Amazon)

Joanne Huist Smith

Autographed Book Donated: The 13th Gift (Harmony, 2014)

Book Overview: After the unexpected death of her husband, Joanne Huist Smith had no idea how she would keep herself together and be strong for her three children--especially with the holiday season approaching. But 12 days before Christmas, presents begin appearing on her doorstep with notes from their "True Friends." As the Smiths came together to solve the mystery of who the gifts were from, they began to thaw out from their grief and come together again as a family. This true story about the power of random acts of kindness will warm the heart, a beautiful reminder of the miracles
of Christmas and the gift of family during the holiday season.

Andrew Solomon

Andrew Solomon

Autographed Book Donated: The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression (Scribner, 2002)

Book Overview: The Noonday Demon examines depression in personal, cultural, and scientific terms. Drawing on his own struggles with the illness and interviews with fellow sufferers, doctors and scientists, policy makers and politicians, drug designers and philosophers, Andrew Solomon reveals the subtle complexities and sheer agony of the disease. He confronts the challenge of defining the illness and describes the vast range of available medications, the efficacy of alternative treatments, and the impact the malady has on various demographic populations -- around the world and throughout history.

He also explores the thorny patch of moral and ethical questions posed by emerging biological explanations for mental illness. With uncommon humanity, candor, wit, and erudition, award-winning author Solomon takes readers on a journey of incom-parable range and resonance into the most pervasive of family secrets.

His contribution to our understanding not only of mental illness but also of the human condition is truly stunning. (-Amazon)

Garth Stein

Autographed Book Donated: The Art of Racing in the Rain (Harper Paperbacks, 2009)

Book Overview: A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope--a captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life . . . as only a dog could tell it.

Pamela Spiro Wagner

Pamela Spiro Wagner

Autographed Book Donated: Divided Minds: Twin Sisters and Their Journey Through Schizophrenia (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2006)

Book Overview: Growing up in the fifties, Carolyn Spiro was always in the shadow of her more intellectually dominant and social outgoing twin, Pamela. But as the twins approached adolescence, Pamela began to succumb to schizophrenia, hearing disembodied voices and eventually suffering many breakdowns and hospitalizations.

Divided Minds is a dual memoir of identical twins, one of whom faces a life sentence of schizophrenia, and the other who becomes a psychiatrist, after entering the spotlight that had for so long been focused on her sister. Told in the alternating voices of the sisters, Divided Minds is a heartbreaking account of the far reaches of madness, as well as the depths of ambivalence and love between twins. It is a true and unusually frank story of identical twins with very different identities and wildly different experiences of the world around them. (-Amazon)

Quote for Stage of Life: “Sharing my story in DIVIDED MINDS and other writings both helped me to understand myself better, which was crucial, and naturally helped others to understand me better as well. In this fashion, it connected us in ways I never thought possible. As I continue to write and to research, I have also learned that while the struggle with mental illness is rarely easy, I fear that the world – at least the so-called developed world – has been sold a bill of good in terms of the “medical model.” Psychotropic medications are far less efficacious than we have been told. I would like to see a much greater emphasis on psychotherapy and on the healing use of storytelling, writing, journaling, art and music. It is in those areas and not in promoting the essentially brain damaging treatments of today that I think progress in the treatment of mental illness will be best advanced.”

Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge

Autographed Book Donation: Poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life with Words (Broadway Books, 1997)

Book Overview: Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge is a poet and teacher who c
onducts workshops privately, as well as in the California Poets in the Schools program. Her exuberant, critically acclaimed teaching guide takes instructors, writers, and general readers into the very heart and intensity of life and the craft of expressing what one feels through the written word. The author tries to show young people how to free their minds and spirits to write poetry. She shares her own poetic experiences and inspirations as well as those of other poets.

Fletcher Wortmann

Fletcher Wortmann

Autographed Book Donated: Triggered: A Memoir of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (Thomas Dunne Books 2012)

Book Overview:  In his brilliant memoir, Fletcher Wortmann takes us on an intimate journey across the psychological landscape of OCD, known as the “doubting disorder,” as populated by God, girls, and apocalyptic nightmares. Wortmann unflinchingly reveals the elaborate series of psychological rituals he constructs as “preventative measures” to ward off the end times, as well as his learning to cope with intrusive thoughts through Clockwork Orange-like “trigger” therapy. (-Amazon)

Quote for Stage of Life: "If I've learned anything from my OCD treatment, it's that curiosity, adaptability, and communication are anathema to mental illness.  Tell your story and listen to others.  Test new ideas instead of clinging to old ones.  Teach and learn.  Mental illness thrives on ignorance but withers and starves when confronted with truth; by keeping up our conversations about mental health issues, we can make things better for ourselves and for those who suffer without understanding." -Psychology Today is extremely thankful and fortunate for the support it receives from international authors who support its writing community and literacy initiatives.

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