| Bald, Fat and Crazy
under no obligation to give us what we expect."
- Margaret Mitchell
About the Author:
Stephanie is a happily married mother of three living in Los Angeles. She holds a Master's Degree in Occupational Therapy from Tufts University as well as a black belt in taekwondo from a dojang down the street. She is a member of the Speaker's Bureau for the City of Hope Medical Center, sharing her story several times a year with large audiences across the country. She has been invited to be the guest speaker for Soroptomist International, the Cancer Support Community in Pasadena and several Relay for Life events. She was featured on a style segment of 'Hollyscoop' (KCOP), highlighted on a KTLA special report, and can be seen waving from the City of Hope float at the 2014 Tournament of Roses Parade. Her story has been posted by QueenLatifah.com, printed in the Chicago Tribune, and chosen by Komenlink for their newsletter as a "Story of Inspiration".
| Stalked and Ambushed
The True Story of the Hellish "Astronaut Love Triangle"
By Colleen Shipman with William Oefelein
Air Force Captain Colleen Shipman escaped what could have been a gruesome death after she was attacked by married NASA Astronaut Lisa Nowak, who was obsessed with Shipman's boyfriend, Space Shuttle Pilot William Oefelein. Rejected by Oefelein, Nowak was unable to accept that an illicit affair would not develop, and she snapped into a psychotic rage. On February 3, 2007, after weeks of tedious planning, a jealous Nowak embarked on a mission to kidnap, terrorize and (perhaps) kill Colleen Shipman.
Jaws dropped worldwide when the news hit. Lisa Nowak, a NASA astronaut sat in jail, charged with attempted murder, attempted kidnapping, burglary and assault. Nowak, a Navy Captain and married mother of three, abandoned her family and prestigious career and took several weeks to plan her mission to confront Shipman. Driving eleven hours from Houston, Texas to Orlando, Florida, her plan was to intercept Shipman.
Lurking in the shadows of the Orlando International Airport, in the middle of the night, the most unlikely criminal of our time watched Shipman and waited for the opportune moment to strike in a dark parking lot. In her possession was a "murder kit"-a 4-inch buck knife, a BB gun, rubber tubing, a steel drilling hammer, latex gloves and garbage bags. Nowak chased Shipman to her car and blasted her with pepper spray before Shipman, blinded, choking and flailing, could speed away. Nowak was later found by police as she tried to toss her grim collection of weapons.
unfortunate for Nowak in her journey to attack Shipman was her choice
to not stop to use the toilet along her route, choosing instead to urinate
into diapers. In fact, police found two used diapers in her car, along
with a supply of clean ones.
This story reveals the months-long lead up to the crime, the emotional
toll on all three parties, and the high price Colleen Shipman paid for
telling the truth. An array of powerful forces pressured her to tilt
the story in directions of their choosing, but Shipman stuck to the
facts. Here she will not only present them all in this grimly ironic
love story-a fairy tale romance that landed Shipman in the crosshairs
of danger, provoked Nowak's psychotic episode, and left William Oefelein
grasping for explanations of Nowak's behavior-she will add the emotional
and personal details that courts may not need, but readers do.
Colleen and Bill married August 14, 2010, and now reside in Alaska.
| It Only Takes One
By Jack Andraka with Matthew Lysiak
The inspirational teen memoir of young scientist Jack Andraka who recently discovered an early detection test for several different types of cancer.
sitting in his high school biology class one day, Jack Andraka sparked
an idea for a test that could potentially detect pancreatic cancer early
on. After the death of a family friend who had recently died of the
disease, Jack recognized the need for inexpensive early detection methods.
At the age of fifteen, Jack came up with a detection test that costs
only three cents to run and has an accuracy rate higher than 90 percent.
The test has the ability to detect pancreatic, ovarian, and lung cancer
in its earliest stages.
Watch: Jack Andraka TED Talk
| PRODIGAL MEN: A
Haunted Father and a Ring's Long Journey
by Anthony Flacco with David Cox Jr.
"If you're still breathing, there's still time..."
In August of 2013, David Cox receives a phone call from
Germany informing him that a custom-made gold ring that his father was
forced to trade for food in a prison camp during World War II was now
on its way back to his family after seven decades. The ring, rediscovered
hundreds of miles from Stalag Luft VII-A, where Dave Sr. was imprisoned
and starved at age twenty-six, is traced back to the family after years
of being "lost," by a curious American who learns of the ring
while having dinner with his German neighbors who relay their known
history of the ring.
video from ABC News:
This undated picture made by a soldier in the U.S. Army shows 2nd Lt. David C. Cox (center), with fellow survivors from the May 17, 1943 mission where Cox was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for helping to get his burning plane back to England from a raid that cost the lives of half his 10-man crew.
Anthony Flacco is a New York Times Bestselling Author as well as an International Bestselling Author. His most recent book, IMPOSSIBLE ODDS: The Kidnapping of Jessica Buchanan and Her Dramatic Rescue by SEAL Team VI (Atria Books) won the USA News Best Memoir of 2013. He has authored numerous non-fiction as well as historical novels and is a Disney Fellowship Winner with an MFA from the American Film Institute in Screenwriting. See www.AnthonyFlacco.com
| SPLIT: A Child,
A Priest and the Catholic Church
by Mary Dispenza
Mary Dispenza was seven years old, Father Rucker, the parish priest,
raped her. From that moment on, she split in two, leaving a big part
of her on the bathroom floor in the school auditorium. It would be years
before Mary would return to the scene of the crime, pick her child up,
and put her back together. He was a priest-a man sent by God. That's
what she knew about him. She called him Father. He seemed to like her
because he always held her hand and walked with her around the schoolyard.
Mary's mom drove the school bus and did some work in the rectory to
pay for her Catholic school tuition. That's how she fell into his hands.
About the Author:
Writer, Speaker, Activist, and Artist are the words that best describe Mary now-in the present. As a nun Mary taught eighth grade English and Creative Writing, preparing exciting lessons and writing alongside her students. Together, Sister Mary and the students learned the beauty of writing and the correct way of making sentences, paragraphs, and stories come alive. In 1970 Mary became editor of the Sisters' quarterly newsletter, THE CONTINUUM.
As the representative for SNAP (Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests) in the Washington Puget Sound area, Mary is in connection with a global membership of approximately 2,000 other victim/survivors, families and friends. Her relationship with her former religious community in Los Angeles provides a significant link to religious groups and the Catholic Church throughout the U.S. and world community. She has a strong following in the LGBT community of Seattle and is a frequent guest speaker on panels and radio talk shows such as NPR-KUOW and KING TV, Seattle. As a former nun for fifteen years and a writer, she brings spiritual depth, credibility and understanding to religion and sexuality. www.MaryDispenza.com
| Against the Odds:
A Success Story of Two Homeless Sisters
by Reenita Shepherd, Chelsea Shepherd, and Chelesa Fearce
Imagine two sisters less than a year apart in age, who against all odds, not only survived growing up in numerous homeless shelters but thrived. Chelsea Shepherd and Chelesa Fearce both graduated from high school with honors. Chelsea graduated Salutatorian of her class at George Washington Carver High School in Atlanta, is enrolled at the University of Georgia and plans a career in law enforcement. Chelesa earned a grade point average of 4.466, was Valedictorian at Charles Drew High School in Riverdale, Georgia and in fall, 2013 entered Spellman College as a junior and aspires to be a physician.
To understand their amazing success stories, their mother's story must also be told. Reenita Shepherd grew up in Providence, Rhode Island, and then in rural Mississippi, the oldest of three in a family that was both neglectful and abusive. Her own mother was the fifteenth of twenty-two children. In the third grade, Reenita entered the foster care system after her stepfather beat her so badly that school and social service officials stepped in. Reenita spent the next eight years alternating between foster homes, her mentally unstable mother's home, and running away from both.
After being emancipated at seventeen, Reenita found herself a teen mom with two young daughters and relocated to Atlanta in hopes of a better life. She got a job as a pre-school aide because the pre-school was a place she could keep her young daughters close. The little family sometimes had a home, but frequently stayed with friends, and sometimes in their car--when they had one.
Chelsea and Chelesa both remember their mother reading to them when they were young. They also remember their mom's earnest words about how important it was for them to do well in school. Reenita knew the only way out of the never-ending cycle of poverty and abuse that she grew up in was through education. From day one, Reenita minimized their circumstances and encouraged her girls to study. And study they did, often by flashlight, often on chilly nights or in the searing heat of an Atlanta summer; almost always they were hungry.
As tough as it was not having a place to call home, being homeless was one of Chelsea and Chelesa's smaller worries. In 2005, when the girls were 9 and10, Reenita was diagnosed with lymphoma and lost her job. A homeless shelter took them in, and with the exception of a few months here and there in their own apartment, a series of shelters became home for Chelsea and Chelesa.
Two years later, Reenita was brutally raped in the parking lot of a big box store. The result was a younger brother, Nicholas. A year later a new sister, Cayley, joined the family. With four children and unstable health, Reenita was never able to land on her feet, but every family member made the best of what they had.
Which government, private, or nonprofit program the family qualified for determined which shelter the family stayed in--and for how long. With each change in shelters came a change in schools. "It was okay," said Chelsea. "Mom instilled a good work ethic into all of us, and growing up in shelters we made friends easily, so a new school was just another opportunity to learn. The important thing was that we stayed together."
What did bother the girls, who are also each other's best friend, was that they were not able to have active social lives outside of school. There was no transportation to or from activities, and the shelters required them to be there early in the evenings, often with an early lights out. Both Chelsea and Chelesa were bullied for wearing worn-out clothes, and for being homeless. But they persevered.
Through their studies and amazing academic achievements, Chelsea and Chelesa realized they could use their knowledge to help others. That idea spurred both girls to intensify their thirst for learning. With Chelsea heading toward law enforcement and Chelesa to medical school, each girl is dedicated to making a difference in her own way.
Both girls also speak to youth groups about their upbringing, and are well-qualified to say, "If we did it, you can, too." Their inspiring message has touched thousands of young people, and their story continues to motivate teens not only to stay in school, but to put forth the effort to excel. Chelsea and Chelesa both know first hand how rewarding that can be.
See videos here:
About the Authors:
Reenita Shepherd, Chelesa Fearce, and Chelsea Shepherd, managed to thrive, despite living in homeless shelters. Chelesa and Chelsea are speaking in public, and doing well in college, while Reenita speaks to church and youth groups. They live in Atlanta.