Spotlight on Michele Susan Brown

Spotlight on Michele Susan Brown

Spotlight on Michele Susan Brown

Happy International Women’s Day.

I hope you’re going to make some time for yourself today – to listen in to your heart, and to reconnect with the life inside you that is only yours. Maybe do something kind for your body. Give it a compliment. A massage. A dunk in the ocean.

I’ve been working on being nicer to myself. We all go through times when we hate our bodies (trust me, I’ve been struggling with this for the past few months after my disc prolapse). We berate their frailty, ‘fight’ our illnesses or infections; and get mad at them when they don’t look the way we’d prefer or display weakness. 

But what if our bodies are actually on our side? What if pain, illness or infirmity was not an obstacle, but a call to heal – not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually? 

It’s an edgy question – most of us outsource our power to trusted doctors with medical degrees and medication you can only purchase behind the counter. But what happens when doctors tell you they can’t help you? Would you be called to a deeper internal inquiry?

She came all the way from California to join me on a writing retreat in Fiji in 2014 even though her husband tried to talk her out of it – surely, there were other writing retreats and mentors a little closer to home? For some reason, Michele knew she wanted to travel half way around the world to meet me. And both our lives changed when she did.

When I first heard Michele’s story, I got that weird, warm feeling when you sense the mystery that surrounds our lives beyond rational explanations, right in front of you. Here was Michele, a living example of everything I try so hard to believe about how healing happens.

Michele wasn’t sure she had a ‘story’ or could write a book about it – but I knew if she did, it would console, comfort and change readers’ lives. Because it’s remarkable, a little miraculous and simply true. It had the same ring to it as one of my favourite books – Tim Parkes’ Teach Us to Sit Still (which if you haven’t yet read, you really should).

After five committed years of writing, rewriting, editing and re-editing, Michele’s debut memoir, This Kind of Silence comes into the world (well, Australia, officially) and your hands. My team and I could not be more proud that Joanne Fedler Media is its first publisher. 

I’ve always believed in this book – but just this past week, we’ve secured an international rights agent to represent it worldwide. It’s big – huge, actually – for both Michele as an author and Joanne Fedler Media as a new publisher (it’s always so gratifying to get the recognition from impartial, quality-conscious agents).

Trust me when I tell you, you really do want to read this book.

About THIS KIND OF SILENCE: How Losing My Hearing Taught Me to Listen

Michele was a successful thirty-two-year-old school principal and married mother of two, when she woke up one morning and could no longer hear.

Doctors could offer no explanation. She spent three frustrating and desperate years searching to make sense of the medical mystery, but doctors told her there was little chance she would ever hear again. Even as she came to accept this bleak diagnosis, she never stopped looking for answers. Why would this suddenly happen to a fit young woman in her prime?

Then one day, a colleague asked, “What is it, perhaps, that you don’t want to hear?”

Michele was intrigued by this question. From that moment, she opened herself with curiosity to a path of self-discovery which led her back to the many silences of her childhood in which she had left parts of herself behind. As she began to tune in to her inner voice, her well being flourished. She began expressing herself in new ways and speaking up. But her twelve-year marriage began to unravel.

What began as a mission to regain her hearing became a journey of facing unspoken truths and breaking the silences that keep us trapped in the past.

This Kind of Silence is an inspirational story about gratitude for the small blessings in life, learning to listen again, and the quiet joys of stillness amidst the noise.

 

“A beautifully written book that instills hope in the great mysteries of life and reminds us of the powerful connection between the body, mind, and soul. This story will return you to the deep wisdom of your own knowing. It may even make you believe in miracles.” —Joanne Fedler

 

About MICHELE SUSAN BROWN

Michele Susan Brown is a writer, author, and speaker based in Northern California, where she lives with her husband, two dogs, cat, and the wild birds that visit her backyard feeders.

A former elementary school teacher, principal, and district-level administrator for eighteen years, Michele now spends time following her passions: writing, meditation, exercise, time in nature, swimming with wild dolphins in the Bahamas, and traveling on unique adventures all over the world with her husband, Gordon.

Michele enjoys connecting with others and engaging in deep discussions about the importance of listening to our own intuition, being brave and vulnerable, and the freedom found in authenticity and truth.

Michele has created a companion to This Kind of Silence – a workbook called Wisdom Within – to guide seekers through reflection, help with self-care, and focus more on listening to our inner voice of truth. She is also facilitating an interactive Book Club experience on Facebook for readers.

 
If you want to learn more about Michele, you can visit her website at www.wisdomwithinworkbook.com or check out her Facebook page.
 
book, tablet, wisdom within by michele susan brown

 

It’s always wonderful to hear author’s speak about their writing journey,
so here’s my People with Passion interview with Michele.

Girlfriends

Men are good for a great number of jobs, I’m thinking specifically of killing spiders and changing tyres, but they are useless when it comes to a second opinion when shopping for a new outfit and repeating the conversation they just had on the phone which you know...

How to Salvage Your Writing from the Crematorium of Cliche

Aspiring writers sometimes ask me, ‘How can I write like you?’ The answer is, ‘You don’t want to write like me, you want to write like you. You want to find your writing voice, and that will be nothing like mine.’ But I get what people are really asking me. They’re...

Artist-in-Reticence

A month ago, I found out that I was going to be a literary artist-in-residence. I was shocked and delighted, but also uncomfortably pleased with myself for managing to secure such an opportunity. I felt honoured. And excited. Yet an underlying sense of hubris was...

My Triumvirate: Meditation, Mantra and Memoir

I’m in the early stages of writing my memoir. At this point, I’m hunting, gathering, pulling things out and looking to see if and how they fit. I’m reliving scenes, moments, memories. Some are painful. Some are lighthearted. I smile as I write about the lighthearted...

Books That Made a Difference in My Life

When I was in my early teens, my father introduced me to Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood, a play for voices. I became enchanted with language.

Wednesday

My heart unsteady in my throat I wake my son, curls and squinty eyes shield his face Five more minutes becomes 10 or 15 Mornings sting for the strong-willed night owl His shoulders stiff with ire Wednesdays are heavy He packs for his dad’s I tread carefully I hold my...

Joanne Fedler Media Spotlight: Jess Zlotnick

Joanne Fedler Media Spotlight: Jess Zlotnick

Joanne Fedler Media Spotlight: Jess Zlotnick

‘The purpose of freedom is to free someone else.’
-Toni Morrison

 

I started mentoring writers ten years ago to save myself from starvation as an author in a climate of declining advances and book sales.

But something happened in the teaching that saved me from another form of hunger – attachment to ego. The more I taught writers to find their voices, the more meaningful my life felt.

I began to understand that my journey as a successful author had simply been the way for me to pave a path for others. The purpose of my ‘success’ was to help others be successful, to paraphrase Toni Morrison.

I told my writers, ‘If you finish your books, I will do whatever it takes to help you get published.’ I intended to lean on all my international contacts with agents and publishers. But what nagged at me was that I couldn’t guarantee they would find an interested publisher.

In the middle of 2017, while mentoring 18 writers who had committed to their writing for years, it suddenly struck me – the only way I could ensure certainty of outcome for them was to become a publisher myself.

And so I did. Joanne Fedler Media was born to honour my writers, to bring their work into the world in the event that they are unable to secure a traditional publisher (if that is their first choice).

In the coming years, many of the writers I have mentored will be ready to publish.

Joanne Fedler Media will be there – either as Plan A or Plan B to ensure their success. We will publish memoir, inspiring fiction, poetry and self-help books – many of the genres in which first-time authors struggle to find traditional publishers. All our books will embody our values of using our words to inspire, nourish and grow the spirit.

Little Wings Books is our children’s books imprint in partnership with Karen McDermott, an experienced and heart-centred book publisher in Perth who has mentored me through the publication of our first few books.

I will use my platform as an internationally bestselling author to launch these new voices.

But authors need readers, which is where YOU come in.

I so hope you will become part of our community and support our authors by buying and reviewing their books so they can share their message with a wider audience. Thank you in advance for being part of our mission to light the world with books that make a difference by first-time authors traditional publishers sometimes overlook.

In upcoming newsletters, we will shine a light on one of our emergent or emerging authors. This month, our spotlight is on debut author Jess Zlotnick.

 

A children’s book for adults as well as little people.

 

What kind of sad are you?

It’s the sort of question that brings to mind John Koenig’s Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, a treasury of invented words for uncommon sadnesses.

And it’s the question at the heart of What Mouse Knew, an exquisitely illustrated children’s book by debut author and artist Jess Zlotnick.

Rat is sad and doesn’t know why, so his friend Mouse sends him on a journey of self-discovery. He returns knowing that he is ‘lonely-sad.’ And right then, his friendship with Mouse becomes a refuge.

What Mouse Knew by Jess Zlotnick

The book began as a high school art project when Jess was just 16. She made and bound the book on black paper and executed it with simple white line drawings.

I fell in love with this story and its sparse, delicate illustrations.

What Mouse Knew by Jess Zlotnick

But here’s the snag: Jess is my daughter, and as such, I had to exercise extreme vigilance that I wasn’t just being a Jewish mother.

I showed it to a friend, an award winning children’s book author. She encouraged me to try find a publisher and gave me the name of an editor at Penguin. ‘Send it to her,’ she said. So I did.

The editor loved it enough to take it to an acquisitions meeting. But she wanted to bring another illustrator on board to replace the line drawings.

‘But the illustrations are what make the book,’ Jess huffed. ‘I don’t want to compromise my artistic integrity.’

‘Integrity, Shmetegrity,’ I advised. ‘This is Penguin.’

In the end, Penguin passed on it.

I didn’t get the feeling Jess was sorry.

What Mouse Knew by Jess Zlotnick

But I have always wanted to see this little book in the world.

I was just waiting for the right moment.

Today, Jess turns 21. And today, my gift to her (it’s a surprise and it’s been hell, I tell you, keeping it a secret for six months) is to launch What Mouse Knew: a little story of friendship as the first children’s book published by Joanne Fedler Media. I know it is also a gift to readers everywhere.

Five years ago, Jess wrote this for Penguin about the story behind the book:

I’m not a stranger to loneliness.

I’m sure everyone’s felt alone at some point in their lives.

This started as an art assignment for school: to create a children’s book which worked on an artistic as well as a narrative level.

Once I started, I felt as if I didn’t control the story, but that it wrote itself. I wanted to write a story that everyone could relate to, so I wrote about something we all know: loneliness; and try to show that we might not be as alone as we think.

I was bullied. A lot. Primary school was torture for me, so much so that I’ve blocked out most of those memories. What I do remember is that feeling of isolation: that there was no-one on my side, that the world was against me.

What I’ve come to realise is that there are people there for me, even when it’s not that obvious. Mouse is my mum, the friends I’ve made since the bullying, the friends I’ve been able to keep, anyone who’s told me I am worth something, anyone who’s put a smile on my face.

I just hope that this book will help other kids see that even when they don’t understand why they feel so bad, that it will pass, and that there are people they can count on. I hope those kids will be reminded that it’s okay to place faith in others, and that when you feel alone, you also have to make the effort to reach out.

What Mouse Knew by Jess Zlotnick

What kind of sad are you?

 

A story about loneliness and the gift of friendship.

If you loved The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, this book is for you.

Please celebrate this launch with us today by purchasing a copy (or two or three) for a child in your life (or for the lonely child in your own heart) here:

 

Get Your Copy Here

 

Thank you so much for supporting a brand new author and Joanne Fedler Media.

It’s the first of many beautiful children’s books we will publish to inspire, uplift and nourish young readers.

‘I Want to Write… Bbbut Where Should I Start?’

Ah, of course, where should you start? Not knowing where to begin is another reason many of us don't start writing, combined with ‘it’s too overwhelming’ and 'I don't have the time.' So say you want to write your lifestory. A memoir. Something about who you have...

It’s Too Late to Leave

(Trigger warning for climate change denialists and anyone with a broken heart) ‘I didn’t know I loved the earth can someone who hasn't worked the earth love it … I didn't know I loved the sky cloudy or clear… I didn't know I loved trees… I didn't know I liked rain...

Why Writing about Your Experience Is Not Narcissistic

As writers, we sometimes shirk away from writing about our own particularities because we don't want to be ‘narcissistic,’ or ‘self-involved.’ It's a good point. Our internal musings about our childhood, illness, divorce or particular form of heartache may bore and...

Paths Are Made by Walking

One of the most important books I ever read as a law student was Professor Patricia Williams’ The Alchemy of Race and Rights. The book opens with this line, ‘Since subject position is everything in my analysis of the law, you deserve to know it’s been a bad day.’ What...

Sometimes, People Don’t Trust Me

Sometimes, people don’t trust me. Here's why: When someone comes to me with a burning desire to write, or a story that’s wormed its way into their core, I am a cheerleader. Like the craziest, wildest, noisiest fan: ‘Go!’ ‘Keep going!’ 'You can do this! You’re almost...

The Mystery of Inspiration in Writing

When he delivered his Nobel Lecture in 2005, entitled Art, Truth and Politics, the playwright Harold Pinter said the following: ‘I have often been asked how my plays come about. I cannot say. Nor can I ever sum up my plays, except to say that this is what happened....