Of Things Gone Astray – book review

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‘Of Things Gone Astray’ by Janina Matthewson is a quirky, engaging read, with an almost mystical, fairy tale quality, which cleverly links a diverse set of characters, events and objects with a subtlety that had me going back to check my previous understanding of the narratives.

There are hints of past and future connections unfolding in the stories, and the characters, paradoxically, are depicted briefly, almost as sketches, yet with depth – quite an accomplished balancing act, to offer enough to satisfy without revealing too much too soon.

‘Of Things Gone Astray’ offers a glimpse of how people respond and react to loss, to change, to transformation in very different ways, from the innocence of childhood to the malaise of middle age, demonstrating how we can easily become lost to each other if we fail to observe what’s in front of us, and become too self-absorbed or fearful.

An accomplished first novel, which left me looking forward to the author’s next work.

 

Christine Miller

Janina Matthewson

Janina Matthewson is a writer and trained actress from Christchurch, New Zealand. She now lives in London. Of Things Gone Astray is her first full-length novel.

Find ‘Of Things Gone Astray’ Here

HarperCollins UK, HarperPress/4th Estate/The Friday Project

Mental Health Special: Seeing the Light Through Schizoaffective Disorder

Richard David Price

What happens when you can’t work out what’s real?

 

Today, I have the great pleasure of being the host on DAY 6 of the Virtual Blog Tour for Richard David Price, author of the brand new book Beating the Adversary: A True Story of Schizoaffective Disorder, officially released on 1st December, 2014.  On its début, it became Amazon’s #1 best-selling new release in ‘schizophrenia’.

Richard David Price

Richard David Price

RICHARD DAVID PRICE was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder as a teenager, as a result of a childhood accident.

Despite his difficult adolescence, he went on to complete a Master’s Degree in Business and has two children to whom he is devoted.

He is a devout member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and feels his mission in life is to help spread hope that we all can overcome our personal challenges.

Yesterday, Richard visited Conditional Publications at http://conditionalpublications.com/category/messages-from-the-editor/, where they spoke about how to gain something positive from schizoaffective disorder.

 

Today, I’d like to share with you a recent interview I had with Richard on hallucinations, therapies and other elements he encounters in dealing with his condition.

 

***INTERVIEW***

CHRISTINE: When you first began having hallucinations and visions, what feelings did this provoke in you?

RICHARD: That is a good question.  Oddly enough, the hallucinations really didn’t provoke me as much as the first time I heard a voice out of place. It put my guard up, so when the hallucinations started to happen, they weren’t as surprising as they could have been.

CHRISTINE: How did you try to disguise what was happening from your family, your friends, and yourself, and how did this affect your relationships and self-worth?

RICHARD: Well, I really didn’t think badly of myself.  To my mind, I was under attack and felt I could be killed at any time.  Why would I feel badly about myself?  How was any of that my fault?

My decline went from really slow, to very, very fast. When my friends left, that was the least of my worries.  I grew up with a big family, so I could come and go as I pleased.  I kept to myself, usually in my room or someplace working out.  My senior year, I got a gym pass and spent all my free time there getting ready for the next day. There wasn’t a lot of feeling sorry for myself. It was more about figuring out the next clue to solve the puzzle of what was going on with me.

I once had a dream that was very real, before I got too sick.  In this dream, I had to overcome a series of obstacles, each one harder than the last. I found that by being quiet and never lying, I could beat all the obstacles. But in the beginning there were lots of people fighting to beat the path; in the end, there was only me.

CHRISTINE: How were you able to share what was happening with your family and gain support?

RICHARD: I did not share a single word of it unless pinned down, like the time I burst into tears while talking to my Mom. I told her I didn’t know why I was crying, and it was true.  It was very hard to reach out to people.

CHRISTINE: How were you able to distinguish between what was real and what was a hallucination, and what therapies or interventions most supported your ability to eventually emerge from and manage these experiences?

RICHARD: I couldn’t make that distinction.  The hallucinations were too powerful.  Eventually, I shaved my head for no good reason, and my mom (the real hero of my story) decided to take me to the hospital. There I started medication, and then started to wake up – to see the light.

 

***END OF INTERVIEW***

Cover for Promotion

 

I hope you enjoyed this brief interview with author Richard Price and that you’ll check out his new book Beating the Adversary: A True Story of Schizoaffective Disorder.

When you buy Beating the Adversary during its official Amazon launch, you’ll also receive a free novel entitled The Ladder from Conditional Publications – an independent publisher dedicated to writers with neurological conditions.

To buy Beating the Adversary
and get your free novel, go to:

http://www.conditionalpublications.com/pages/beating-the-adversary.html

 

Thanks for reading! Please do share your comments and thoughts below. I love reading your feedback.

Be sure to follow Richard’s book tomorrow on the next stop of his Virtual Blog Tour, when Beating the Adversary editor Vrinda Pendred will be talking to Lynn Serafinn on the Spirit Authors blog at http://spiritauthors.com/category/new-books/

Ode to our House

House for sale in Ealing

Reflecting on our moving, and after an enlightening conversation with the inspiring Christian Kyriacou, House Whisperer, (Christian and I met when we were both speakers at the Strarta Art Fair at the Saatchi Gallery last year) I was prompted to write this piece full of gratitude and love as a gift for the wonderful spaces which have nurtured our family for the past 31 years.

Apparently, it is provoking tears in more than a few eyes…

Love

Christine

House in Ealing

Victorian Detached House for Sale in Ealing

Changing Times at the House in Ealing

Garden 1 Looking West

 Front with shrubs2

We’ve lived in our house for 31 years now, and over those years we’ve transformed the house and our lives in many ways. The gorgeous garden was one of the main attractions to begin with.
It still is a real joy.

Garden 1 Looking West

When we first moved in, the house was, frankly, a bit of a wreck. The ultimate fixer-upper. It had been used partially as a rooming house, and some rooms had been better looked after than others. Some had possibly been cleaned in the last 10 years. Others hadn’t.

That was okay, we just lived upstairs in the best rooms, made do with a couple of camping gas burners and a rotisserie grill as a makeshift kitchen in a room that had a sink unit, added a fridge freezer and a dishwasher, (yes, absolutely essential!) and got on with our fixing up.

We’ve kept on fixing up, refreshing and renewing over the years, and it’s in pretty excellent shape these days.

Kitchen 3

In the first stages, it took eighteen months to get a kitchen and six months to get central heating. We fired up the central heating for the first time on November 5th, Guy Fawkes or Bonfire Night here in the UK. That’s just our British sense of humour coming out!  There weren’t any fires or fireworks indoors, just a sense of relief that we had a cosy warmth for the winter. As our daughter was just turned two, that was very welcome indeed.

Our daughter became very adept at stepping over gaps in floorboards and learned to balance on joists. I like to think the early experiences served her well for her dancing and gymnastics activities, and kept her alert to possible hazards. She’s circumnavigated the globe a couple of times with no major catastrophes, so I guess that might be true.

Anyway, the main point of this post is to say we have decided to move house. Where, we haven’t decided. But we made that decision to put the house on the market, and let go of this era in exchange for a whole new set of adventures and environments.

We’ve loved living here, we’ve had countless happy times and been nourished by our lovely home, garden and friends and neighbours.

Rear Garden East View

 We’d love to think of the house as being equally loved by another family who enjoy fun and entertaining in the house and in the garden, and just relish being together in a great environment.

If you want to see more, you can visit us here – http://houseinealing.com 

Tina Seskis – words from the heart

Christine Miller

Tina Seskisw book

Launch of Tina Seskis book

Christine Miller

It was an honour and a delight to finally meet Tina Seskis – best-selling author of the tautly engrossing psychological thriller ‘One Step Too Far’ - in person at the launch of the paperback version of her book, published by Michael Joseph.

Apart from being a great writer, Tina is a very enterprising and able marketer. She initially self-published One Step Too Far in 2013, when I had the pleasure of being one of the first readers and reviewers through NetGalley. The link to that review is here.

I was completely hooked right from the beginning, and delighted to help Tina garner reviews, readers and sales for the book, because it genuinely is one of the most compelling stories I’ve ever read.

And believe me,  I’ve read a large number of  books …

Christine Miller LondonfromStrand802The launch was generously hosted at Penguin’s beautifully sited headquarters in The Strand.
We were on the 10th floor with magnificent panoramic views of a sunlit London from the terrace.

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Christine Miller LondonFrmStrand804

As the wine flowed, the conversation buzzed and there was a wonderful atmosphere of celebration and success as the crowd of family, friends and supporters gathered to congratulate Tina on her triumphs.

Christine MillerStrand5

What also emerged last night was the poignant ‘story behind the story’ of what prompted Tina to write in the first place. Her mother was unwell, and Tina used the book as a means of engaging her mother’s attention and interest – in her own words, “to keep her going”.  The guidance and insights from her mother helped Tina keep the book’s characters and their actions real and thereby remain sympathetic and appealing to readers, thus sculpting the storyline as credible yet compelling.

When we spoke, Tina told me that the words had come straight from her heart, directed by her mission to keep her mother occupied, as she wove ‘One Step Too Far’ into the fascinating story with the terrific plot twist that led Penguin to pick it up and offer her a completely well-deserved 3-book deal rumoured to be worth a substantial 6-figure sum.

Tina’s humble and heartfelt tribute in her speech to her (sadly now deceased) mother, who she described as the one person who really should have been there, to her husband, her son and all her family, and to everyone who supported her, was beautiful. Also moving were the brief, entertaining and powerful words from Louise Moore, one of Penguin’s managing directors, who justly praised Tina for her creativity and writing skills, her persistence and determination, and her refreshingly open approach.

This is a success story which carries great hope for talented writers wanting to get noticed, a lesson in determination, perseverance and guts.

And I have a strong sense that we haven’t even seen the very best of Tina Seskis yet – definitely one to watch – and read and enjoy.

Thanks to all for a wonderful evening,  and if you haven’t already, go get your copy of ‘One Step Too Far’ HERE.

Christine Miller

The Tao, Miracles and Reflections on Love

Christine Miller
The Butterfly Nebula - aspects of reality

The Butterfly Nebula – aspects of reality

Understanding and Reflection

I’ve had a lot of experiences of Being Love, of practising Love, and holding Loving spaces as I’ve been deliberately researching Love for the past three years. It really seems though that my whole life has been a crucible for developing awareness and sensitivity, resilience and understanding of Love in its many ways of being present and expressed.

As part of deepening and expanding my inner understanding of Love at Work whilst I prepare my ‘data’ for publication, I find myself exploring various texts, ancient and modern. At the moment I am contemplating the Tao Te Ching and A Course in Miracles, both of which have recently re-emerged into my life.

The latter has surfaced again because I’ve been reading for review Gary Renard’s fascinating ‘Love Has Forgotten No-One’ (Hay House, November 2013), and I was drawn to the Tao again at the beginning of 2014 and treated myself to a beautiful volume translated by Stephen Mitchell.

Action

What I’m choosing to do is to take the Tao verse by verse, one each day, and sit with it as inspiration and insight, and to dip into the chapters of A Course in Miracles, whilst following the lessons in the workbook as my course of action. It’s an experiment in taking existing material and allowing it to expand my work on Love. I’m fascinated to experience what unfolds and flows.

Meaning

With my ‘Love in the Boardroom’ book I am currently sifting through the many ‘meanings’ my research participants have given to and for Love, and derived from Love. So this snippet taken from Chapter 1 of ACIM (A Course in Miracles) resonates:

“The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of Love, for that is beyond what can be taught. It does aim however, at removing the blocks to the awareness of Love’s presence, which is your  natural inheritance.” 

Closely followed by:

“Miracles occur naturally as expressions of Love. The real miracle is the love that inspires them. In this sense, everything that comes from Love is a miracle.”

The first lesson in the workbook also relates to meaning – in terms of undoing attachment to the material:

“Nothing I see in this room (on this street, from this window, in this place) means anything.”

The Tao Te Ching tells me that

“The name that can be named
Is not the eternal Name.”

and that:

“The unnameable is the eternally real.”

The learning here seems to be that it is in the unknown, the un-manifest, mystery, beyond, that real Love, and what is real, lies. And about letting go of the meaning we attribute to what we have created in our world.

As ACIM says in the introduction,

“Nothing real can be threatened,

Nothing unreal exists…”

Contemplating….

Christine Miller