Life in the Slow Lane

Contemplating life, faith, words, and memories

Casting the Spotlight on The Dan Diaries by D.D. Marx (including Guest Post and Giveaway) — June 5, 2018

Casting the Spotlight on The Dan Diaries by D.D. Marx (including Guest Post and Giveaway)

With my recent interest in writing fiction as well as nonfiction, I may from time to time post reviews of fiction works and guest posts from fiction writers. Today represents the first of these posts. I hope you enjoy it.

Today I’m pleased to spotlight The Dan Diaries, the fourth book in The Beyond Series by author, D.D. Marx. D.D. will be joining us with a guest post plus there is a giveaway.

The Dan Diaries, Book 4 in The Beyond Series

Book Details:

Book Title: The Dan Diaries by D.D. Marx (The Beyond Series Book #4)
Category: Adult Fiction; 200 pages
Publisher: Beyond Dreams Publishing
Release date: April 6, 2018



Book Description: 

Dan Sullivan was the best friend of Olivia Henry when his life was taken in a tragic car accident. Shocked to be on the other side, Dan navigates his way by learning his new role in eternal life. His first assignment is as Olivia’s guardian angel. He has the crucial role of guiding her to her pre-defined destiny. Dan’s death throws Olivia into a tail-spin which causes her to veer way off course. He understands the enormity of the challenge when he hears the mechanism by which he can communicate. He’s only allowed to use signs and symbols to get her attention and cannot interfere with her free-will.

Every time he thinks he’s close, something throws her off track. He’s forced to start over by convincing her to trust in their enduring, unbreakable bond. Olivia can feel Dan’s presence but is still reluctant to believe the messages he’s sending. She is fearful of falling in love again at the risk of losing another soulmate. Can Dan persuade her to trust in his love from afar so she can finally receive the happiness she truly deserves?

Buy the Book Here:
Guest Post by D.D. Marx

Where do you even begin when writing a novel?

This is such a loaded question. I mean, who thinks they can sit down and write a novel that anyone would want to read let alone purchase – with actual money?  It’s overwhelming if you think about it. What’s the first line? How do you pull the reader in? Does this even make any sense? I think the biggest thing for me has been to just – write it down. No matter how pretty or perfect it is, just get it out. You can edit until your hearts content, but it needs to start somewhere. 

Remarkably, I was able to write and publish four books in three years. It’s surreal to comprehend. What got me to the end were two key things:

  1. I forced a deadline.

What I mean by that is I announced release dates. Then there was no turning back. I know how I operate and what makes me tick. I’m a procrastinator by nature. It’s how I’m wired. I’ve been like this my whole life – in school, at work and in life. It’s just how I am built. I do my best work under pressure. I knew if I didn’t have a looming timeline, I would choose everything else but writing my book. This single rule got me from hopes and dreams to published author.

  1. I pretended I was writing it just for kicks.

Writing is an intimidating prospect. It’s subjective. The same story can be told a million different ways. How it is perceived is all in the reader’s interpretation. How do you pretend to know what is good? What will resonate? What’s interesting or captivating? I just sat down and told my story like I was talking to a friend.  I didn’t do any reading during the writing process because I didn’t want to get anyone else’s voice in my head.  Writers can have endless cycles of churn if they think too much. “I should say it like this”, “Wait, no, this is much better”, “Oh, but I want to use this word” or “I want to elicit this emotion.” Every single word becomes an obsession if you overthink it. That’s when all the doubt sets in. Most of writing process entails trust and a gut feel followed by strong editing. Success is the ultimate reward but never guaranteed.

My advice to any new author is to dive in, with both feet, into the deep end. Pretend your words will never see the light of day. Don’t create expectations and it will all flow more naturally. 

Meet the Author:

D.D. Marx is a contemporary romantic fiction writer and blogger. Marx is a graduate of the University of Dayton, as well as the Second City program in Chicago, where she currently resides. A proud aunt and self-described hopeless romantic, Marx has always had a knack for humorous and engaging storytelling. Her pen name is a dedication to her beloved friend Dan, who continues to guide and inspire her in her daily life.

Connect with the Author:
Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Pinterest 


Enter the Giveaway!
Ends June 16, 2016
1st Prize: Win the complete Beyond series (4 paperback books total) and a Shine Bright Journal (open to USA only / 1 winner)

2nd Prize: Win the complete Beyond series (4 ebooks total / open int’l / 2 winners)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What Americans Can Learn from Israel and the IDF | Guest Post by Dorit Sasson PLUS Giveaway — June 24, 2016

What Americans Can Learn from Israel and the IDF | Guest Post by Dorit Sasson PLUS Giveaway

welcome, Dorit Sasson!

Accidental Soldier, A Memoir by Dorit Sasson
Accidental Soldier, A Memoir by Dorit Sasson

Today it is my pleasure to welcome to my blog, author Dorit Sasson. Dorit’s memoir, Author of Accidental Soldier: A Memoir of Service and Sacrifice in the Israel Defense Forces, is concurrently on tour with a number of guest posts. Therefore, I feel fortunate to have her visit during this extra busy timer. Dorit brings a message of what we as Americans can learn from Israel and the IDF. Perhaps this sounds like a rather sobering topic but Dorit presents her story in such a way that we each may find hope and a way to make a difference.

Please join me now in welcoming Dorit. *Applause here.* And don’t forget the giveaway later.

∗ ∗ ∗

What Americans Can Learn from Israel and the Israel Defense Forces

There are so many things I learned as an American immigrant serving in the Israel Defense Forces that I write about in Accidental Soldier: A Memoir of Service and Sacrifice in the Israel Defense Forces, but if I had to take a step back and look at what Americans can learn from Israel and the IDF, I’d have to narrow down my answer to three main areas:


Israel is a country surrounded by four Arab nations that want to annihilate Israel at every opportunity. Then there’s the constant threat by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) who send out terrorists that blow up buses. Before Israel became a state in 1948, it was once Palestine and so Palestinians who live in Israel believe that it is their country. Many of the Palestinians who live in the West Bank and the occupied territories are a constant threat to the Jewish settlements. My newsfeed on Facebook has been filled with stabbings and killings that make me feel helpless, sad and angry.

Put these things together and you get a lot of tension that Israel experiences every single minute of the day.  These are things we as Americans don’t quite understand. Our survival as a country doesn’t work in the same way. Imagine the state of Ohio wanting to blow up the state of Pennsylvania? There are security guards on buses, public places like malls and restaurants and in many schools. And with all the killings, bombings and stabbing, Israel is probably one of the safest countries in the world because of the top notch security. As a new immigrant serving in the IDF, I felt that the country has my back more than America and I often talk about this in my memoir. It is no wonder that the Israel Defense Forces is one of the most famous armies if not the most famous in the world.

Relationships and Mentality

Politics and the daily tension of the country also affect the way Israelis interact on many levels. There’s very little formality in relationships. Parents don’t plan “playdates” weeks or days in advance. You never need an appointment to see a friend. Relationships are real, direct and people are responsive emotionally. These relationships are essential to survival. People need each other. You never feel alone like you do in America. You can die alone without a soul in the world here in the US. It’s unlikely that kind of thing would happen in Israel.

On the other hand, it can be tough dealing with so much chutzpah. When I taught High School Israelis, I had to find a way to teach English without being the disciplinarian. It’s a tough, fine balance.

It’s a country grounded in tradition. There are two days out of the year when the entire country stands for a two and three minute siren – namely, Yom Hashoa or Holocaust Remembrance Day and Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day for the Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terror.  Yes, even cars stop on major highways and intersections. It’s something unheard of in America. You feel a complete and utter respect for history and people who give so much to protect the country. Everyone in Israel has a friend, relative or family member who served in the army so the relationship between civilian and soldier is very close. Americans do not know much about the US army and the veterans who have put themselves on the line for our country. There are many Israelis who will adopt lone IDF soldiers who do not have family in Israel as was my experience.

Yes, Israelis are gutsy, aggressive and assertive. I’ve often been asked how much I make as an English teacher and other personal subjects that Americans wouldn’t dare ask another. There’s no such thing that staying anonymous or quiet. You’ll soon find yourself bad mouthing politics and developing an opinion over all the governmental strikes. That’s just the nature of the country.

However, when the country is under the threat of a war, the country comes together in ways you simply cannot possibly imagine from just listening to CNN. Israel is a small country, the size of Rhode Island and people are a lot more socially wired with each other. When my home was under threat during the second Israel-Lebanese War, strangers all over the country opened their doors to my family. I wrote about that experience here.

Living and the Concept of Time

On many Jewish holidays, the entire country shuts down – sometimes for days like on the Jewish holiday of Passover. There is no government service or banks.  You feel the entire country celebrating with you and it’s a very big deal. Buses don’t operate from sundown on a Friday night till sundown on a Saturday when the Sabbath or Shabbat is over. These precious moments are a time for people to get together with family and eat many different kinds of cultural foods depending on their tradition. Work is work, and time off is time off.

Just writing this post, I am now getting homesick for spending those Jewish holidays with family and just letting my hair down. It’s a big part of who I am and have become.

Because Israelis live under so much threat and tension, they know how to live. They live for the present moment. They don’t sacrifice an opportunity to live life. It’s evident in the relationships, culture and talk – it’s hard to describe this kind of sensation to an American. It’s just one of those things that need to be experienced.

As a returning American who has lived in Pittsburgh since 2007, I miss so many parts of Israel – the contrasts, the complexities, the caring relationships, the ability to just let my hair down with people and interact with them without wondering if they’ll judge me and how they’ll react, the Jewish holidays, and of course my family. As an American who continues to find my cultural place in Pittsburgh, I won’t forget my roots and where I’ve come from.

∗ ∗ ∗

Thank you, Dorit, for making time to share a part of your story with us today. Having you visit here was an absolute pleasure.

A Look at the Book

At age nineteen, Dorit Sasson, a dual American-Israeli citizen, was trying to make the status quo work as a college student―until she realized that if she didn’t distance herself from her neurotic, worrywart of a mother, she would become just like her.

Accidental Soldier: A Memoir of Service and Sacrifice in the Israel Defense Forces is Sasson’s story of how she dropped out of college and volunteered for the Israel Defense Forces in an effort to change her life―and how, in stepping out of her comfort zone and into a war zone, she discovered courage and faith she didn’t know she was capable of.

Book Details

Paperback:  337 pages
Genre:  Memoir
Publisher:  She Writes Press (June 14, 2016)
ISBN-10: 1631520350; ISBN-13: 978-1631520358
Amazon Link: click here

Meet the Author

Dorit Sasson, Author
Dorit Sasson, Author

Dorit Sasson writes for a wide range of print and online publications, including The Huffington Post and The Writer, and speaks at conferences, libraries, and community centers. She is the author of the a featured chapter in Pebbles in the Pond: Transforming the World One Person at a Time, the latest installment of that best-selling series, and. She is the host of the global radio show “Giving Voice to Your Courageous Story.” She lives in Pittsburgh, PA with her husband and two children.

Connect with Dorit online:

Website: Facebook:
Twitter:  @VoicetoStory

To check out other stops on Dorit’s blog tour, click here.

∗ ∗ ∗

Now for the giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway ∗ ∗ ∗

Now, it’s your turn! Ask Dorit questions about her book, the writing and publishing process, her experience in Israel and the IDF. Go ahead. Don’t by shy. There’s plenty of space below.

How Does Counseling Relate to Memoir Writing? | Guest Post by Jerry Waxler with Book Giveaway — November 12, 2014

How Does Counseling Relate to Memoir Writing? | Guest Post by Jerry Waxler with Book Giveaway

Jerry WaxlerToday please welcome my guest, Jerry Waxler, author of Memoir Revolution and several other booksJerry shares with us the relationship between counseling and memoir writing. Jerry, thank you for being here today and helping lift the fog on the question posed. And thank you to WOW! Women on Writing for hosting Jerry’s blog tour.

Welcome, Jerry!

This is a terrific question, because it relates directly to the reason I wrote Memoir Revolution. I think that memoir writing is one of the most exciting developments in psychology in the last 100 years. And, unlike other systems, it wasn’t invented by a genius or by a team of researchers. Instead, the use of memoir writing as a form of healing was developed by a groundswell of individuals intent on finding the stories of their lives. Here’s how I came to this understanding.

When I had outgrown childhood and realized I was going to need to become an adult, in addition to all the usual challenges of picking a career and finding a relationship, I had many emotional problems. I was depressed, confused about how to relate to people, what I really wanted to do and so on.

After I settled into steady employment, I started on a long-term commitment to talk therapy. These weekly discussions helped me put in words the things that had been bothering me. Ten years into this process, I switched to a different therapist and I had to introduce myself all over again. Naturally, I attempted to reconstruct the bits and pieces I had been explaining for years. After the second or third session, my new therapist said, “Have you ever put all that on a timeline?” I couldn’t grasp what she was saying. Not only had I never put the events of my life on a timeline. This was the first time the notion even occurred to me.

“How would that work?” I asked.

She grabbed a piece of paper and drew a horizontal line. Underneath the line she listed a sequence of years, and said “write a few sentences about each major event and place your descriptions along this line.” The method was so simple. Why had I never thought of it?

So I went home and listed key bits of information, such as the year I went to college, the year I was in a riot, the year I moved to California to become a hippie. On paper, the sequence shifted from a collection of confusing memories to the skeleton of an interesting story. For the first time, I considered the possibility that with a little more work, I could turn that whole mess of memories into a sensible sequence.

Eventually, I went to graduate school and earned a Master’s degree in counseling psychology. By fifty-two, I was the one who sat and listened to clients, providing for them the same survival tool that my therapists had provided me. However, based on my experience, I wished I could find a way to help them collect the whole journey into a continuous narrative. With a chronological understanding, perhaps they would be able to feel more whole, just as I had done. But my education as a psychotherapist did not include such a method, and I had not yet come across the world of memoirs, so I forged ahead with hourly sessions.

Around that time, to increase my writing ability, I joined a writing group near my home in Bucks County Pennsylvania where aspiring writers could drop in anytime to talk with other writers, or to take classes. The reputation of the group grew, and people drove 50 and 100 miles to participate. This group experience introduced me to the fact that writing does not need to be isolated. When writers come together, magic happens. I realized that if I could teach writing workshops, I would be able to be around writers a lot more.

From this experience, I began to develop self-help workshops for writers. My notes for those workshops evolved over a period of years to the book I now call How to Become a Heroic Writer. To help writers become more courageous, I developed a technique I called “story of self” in which I explore ways to see yourself as a writer. I began to tap into this notion of “story of self” as a self-help tool, and realized the connection between the story we tell ourselves, and the way we see each other.

From the first time I took a memoir class, I was hooked on the potential for memoir writing as a way of healing. I recognized in memoirs that everything I had learned through my years of self-help, the wisdom I had gained through my own journey, even the experiences of spirituality and love, could be contained in a holistic story of myself.

By studying other people’s memoirs, teaching memoir writers, and continuing to develop my own story-of-self, I have come to appreciate the power of memoirs to provide a simple method for anyone to develop a keener, clearer understanding of their life experience, draw lessons, heal wounds, and eventually through effort, craft, and polish, share themselves with readers.

Meet Jerry Waxler:

JERRY WAXLER teaches memoir writing at Northampton Community College, Bethlehem, PA, online, and around the country. His Memory Writers Network blog offers hundreds of essays, reviews, and interviews about reading and writing memoirs. He is on the board of the Philadelphia Writer’s Conference and National Association of Memoir Writers and holds a BA in Physics and an MS in Counseling Psychology.

You can read more about Jerry Waxler here . . .

Connect with Jerry here:


About the Book:

Memoir Revolution is Jerry Waxler’s beautifully written story as he integrates it with his deep and abiding knowledge and passion for story. In the 1960s, Jerry Waxler, along with millions of his peers, attempted to find truth by rebelling against everything. After a lifetime of learning about himself and the world, he now finds himself in the middle of another social revolution. In the twenty-first century, increasing numbers of us are searching for truth by finding our stories. In Memoir Revolution, Waxler shows how memoirs link us to the ancient, pervasive system of thought called The Story. By translating our lives into this form, we reveal the meaning and purpose that eludes us when we view ourselves through the lens of memory. And when we share these stories, we create mutual understanding, as well. By exploring the cultural roots of this literary trend, based on an extensive list of memoirs and other book, Waxler makes the Memoir Revolution seem like an inevitable answer to questions about our psychological, social and spiritual well-being.


Paperback: 190 Pages
Genre: Nonfiction
Publisher: Neuralcoach Press; 1 edition (April 9, 2013)
ISBN-10: 0977189538

Available at Amazon.



p style=”text-align: center;”>a Rafflecopter giveaway

On Being a Mom with Bipolar, a Mental Health Disorder | Guest Post by Tara Meissner with Book Giveaway — October 3, 2014

On Being a Mom with Bipolar, a Mental Health Disorder | Guest Post by Tara Meissner with Book Giveaway

CONGRATULATIONS to DOLORES NICE-SIEGENTHALER who is the winner of a copy of Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis by Tara Meissner.

Author of Stress Fracture, Tara Meissner
Author of Stress Fracture, Tara Meissner

Today please welcome my guest, Tara Meissner, author of Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis. Tara shares with us a view of her life as a mom with bipolar disorder and three sons. Tara, thank you for being here today and sharing so openly. And thank you to WOW! Women on Writing for hosting Tara’s blog tour.

Welcome, Tara!

I have bipolar disorder and I have three sons. The boys are wonderful, academically successful, involved in sports and other activities, and generally happy. They are also kids who argue about brushing their teeth, leave dirty clothes on the floor, and get ear infections and sore throats. Basically, we are normal.

However, my pedestrian life was far more chaotic before I was properly treated for bipolar disorder. Throughout early adulthood, I would have bouts of depression. In early 2010, when the boys were 2, 4, and 11, I was hospitalized in the intensive care unit of a psychiatric hospital. I had suffered a psychotic break. This condition is commonly referred to as a nervous breakdown. However, that doesn’t begin to describe the horror.

The recovery took a year. I gradually regained the ability to be alone, to be alone with my children, to drive at low speeds, then to drive at high speeds, and finally to return to work. It was grim. I was an invalid. I was dependant on my husband who took a family medical leave to become my caregiver.

There are few memories of my children’s lives during that year. I know the oldest pitched for his baseball team in the summer and tried basketball in the winter. I know the middle one was in a children’s theater production, and I believe the youngest finally learned how to talk. I was in a fog for at least three months, and selfishly focused on my health for nearly an entire year.

Fast forward to today, and I have very infrequent break-through symptoms. I have good days and bad, but they are logical and related to what is happening. Prior to treatment, I could be sad or mad for no reason or happy or excited with no tangible connection to reality.

I decided to publish my memoir, “Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis,” to help people understand how psychosis affects a person and her family. It is a story about my journey to mental wellness by accepting bipolar disorder. Publishing was a decision I considered fully. I was tempted to remain among the silent. I remain worried about how my boys will react when they became old enough to understand what I revealed.

If you met me today at a PTA meeting or a soccer game, I would look just like any other mom. Some days frazzled with rushing, some days calm after a yoga class, or some thing in between. I won’t be wearing mismatched or dirty clothes. I won’t be jumping around or sulking. In short, I won’t look like any stereotypical image of “crazy” you can imagine. Largely because I am not crazy — I have a mental illness that is under good control.

We do the best we can to raise the boys well; we give love freely and spend time generously. The boys have always given me a reason to live and be well. After surviving psychosis, they inspire me to fight for health even more fiercely. They deserve a mom who is healthy, happy, and fully capable of putting their needs in front of my own. For their sake, I remain on the treatment program and hope to never again become temporarily disabled from bipolar disorder.

Meet Tara Meissner:

Tara Meissner is a former journalist and a lifelong creative writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree and works part-time at her local library. Tara lives in Wisconsin with her husband, Mike, and their three sons. She writes longhand in composition notebooks. Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis is her first book.

Connect with Tara here:

Blog: Goodreads: Facebook: Twitter:

About the Book:

Book cover for Stress Fracture by Tara Meissner
Book cover for Stress Fracture by Tara Meissner

Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosisis a moving and honest psychology memoir about the things that break us and how we heal. It offers a raw view a 33-year-old wife and mother swallowed by psychosis. The psychotic episode includes meeting Jesus Christ, dancing with Ellen DeGeneres, and narrowly escaping eternity in the underworld.

Casually called a nervous breakdown, psychosis is an entrapment outside of self where hallucinations and delusions anchor. Family, doctors, and fellow patients witnessed a nonverbal, confused, distraught shell of a woman. In the security of a psychiatric care center, the week-long psychosis broke and spit out a bipolar patient in the cushioned place of middle class medicine.

Outpatient recovery consumed the better part of a year with psychiatric treatment and spiritual contemplation. Left scarred and damaged, health returned allowing her to tentatively embrace a grace and peace earned through acceptance of bipolar disorder.

Paperback: 224 Pages
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Tara Meissner (June 23, 2014)
ASIN: B00L8G6C66



a Rafflecopter giveaway

And the winners are … — September 18, 2014
Verified by ExactMetrics