Bald, Fat and Crazy
 

On September 21st, 2007, one week after her fingers grazed what she assumed was an insignificant small lump in her left breast, Stephanie Hosford was told what no woman wants to hear - "You have breast cancer." A mere three days later, she discovered she was also pregnant. Desperate for help, Stephanie and her husband set out in search of medical advice. Four cancer specialists from major institutions around Los Angeles strongly advised abortion. "You need chemotherapy and you can't do that while you're pregnant," they told her. "Just try to save yourself."

And what was to become of the adoption that was already two years under way? The idea of losing two babies to cancer was unbearable.

But then there was a fifth opinion that changed everything.

Stephanie's memoir Bald, Fat and Crazy covers a two-year section of her life, from just before cancer diagnosis and positive pregnancy test, through the precarious yet ultimately successful adoption of one daughter, to the miraculous birth of the other. She endures both surgery and chemotherapy during the pregnancy, teaching us that rules aren't always meant to be followed and what it means to find and hold onto one's inner strength. Each chapter is entitled with a song or songs that were inspirational in some way during that particular phase of her journey.

Stephanie and her family not only survive, they go on to flourish.

Timing for a book like Bald, Fat and Crazy could not be better. Breast cancer has been getting excellent press coverage, causing current awareness to be at an unrivaled peak. This story, told with both honesty and humor, will give hope to women who either have or know someone who has breast cancer, and to anyone struggling with a health crisis in need of encouragement.

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"
 

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.

Most 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.

The crime sends a shockwave through the space and military communities and dominated headlines. Journalists couldn't get enough of what they dubbed "The Astronaut Love Triangle." For over four years, while the wheels of civilian and military justice were grinding, Colleen bit her tongue as reporters degraded her boyfriend, defended Nowak and even suggested that Shipman has lied. This event threw NASA into a tailspin, and it changed three lives forever.

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.

The reader will gain a rounded human perspective on what has only been a tawdry news story and fodder for comedians until now. We will learn how patience and love helped Colleen Shipman reclaim peace and stability, liberating her from her prison of nightmares and hyper-vigilance following the attack and erroneous public revelations of a love triangle, and how faith in God guided her through the aftermath of one of the nation's most intriguing crimes.

Colleen and Bill married August 14, 2010, and now reside in Alaska.
www.abcnews.go.com/US/video/liftoff-astronaut-2856421


It Only Takes One
 

The inspirational teen memoir of young scientist Jack Andraka who recently discovered an early detection test for several different types of cancer.

While 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.

Jack's groundbreaking results have earned him international recognition, most notably earning the $75,000 2012 Intel Gordon E. Moore Award, the Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award, and he was the First Lady's personal guest at the State of the Union Address. He has conducted over a dozen TED talks and has been featured on CNN, BBC, FOX, 60 Minutes, The Colbert Report, and ABC World News with Diane Sawyer.

Now in his upcoming memoir "It Only Takes One" the boy wonder sets his sights on shattering educational myths and biases by bringing his inspirational story to millions proving that you don't need a PhD or even be old enough to drive a car to change the world.

"It's just your ideas that count. It's all about looking at learning and the internet in an entirely new way to realize there's so much more to it than just posting duck-face pictures of yourself online. You could be changing the world."

Jack's message of education reform is one that is sorely needed in today's classrooms where students' proficiency in reading, math and science continues dropping.

"Currently, science classes typically consist of banal consumption and regurgitation of facts. However, this model for science education is simply not effective because it skews students' perception of what science truly is. Science is something you do, not something that you learn from a text book."

Growing up in a house where his parents encouraged and nurtured their children to conduct scientific experiments, Jack grew up taking himself and his abilities seriously. But while he took his work seriously, the scientific world was hesitant at first. After contacting 200 research professionals with a detailed plan, budget, timeline and request to use their laboratory, Jack finally received a response of acceptance from Dr. Anirban Maitra, Professor of Pathology, Oncology and Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at John Hopkins School of Medicine. Jack only received one acceptance letter-but one was all he needed.

Jack's memoir chronicles his efforts in proving his abilities and innovative ideas, despite his young age. Targeted toward a teenage readership, Jack's story will inspire young people everywhere to fight for the right to be heard and taken seriously. It will also be a valuable tool to teachers and parents looking to help their kids reach their potential. Jack encourages his generation to approach their pursuits, whatever they may be, with an attitude of determination and gumption.

"If a 15-year-old who didn't even know what a pancreas was could find a new way to detect pancreatic cancer, just imagine what you could do."

For more see: www.JackAndraka.net

Watch: Jack Andraka TED Talk


PRODIGAL MEN: A Haunted Father and a Ring's Long Journey
 

"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.

This story follows a father, Dave Cox Sr. and his eldest son, David Jr., while Dave Sr. relies on alcohol to battle his combat demons. The son cares for his father in a journey that begins in resentment and ends with rediscovered love and acceptance.

Dave Cox Sr. returned stateside not yet thirty years old, with a silent sense of torment that became his springboard to alcohol addiction in his quest to dull the edge of that torment. Aided by socially appropriate alcohol consumption as was accepted among peacetime combat heroes, he managed life as a functional alcoholic for many years. His professional and social slide was a family ride for Dave and his wife, Hilda and their sons. David Jr. finds himself reluctantly drafted into the role of his father's healer after his mother is overwhelmed by the task.

Although David escapes his father's alcoholism addiction, he carries the burden of attending his father's long months of decline and ultimate death. Dave dies of everything the years of booze and his resulting dementia have done to him.

The story is told in alternating flashbacks to Dave's WWII POW experiences and then to the present day where David Jr. narrates his growing awareness of the forces tormenting his father. They are seen now through the eyes of a man who is older than his father was at the time. David realizes one connection after the other between his father's unaddressed deep trauma and his inability to avoid the PTSD that haunts him for decades.

Until the return of the ring, Dave was bothered by his father's inexplicable behavior over the years and especially in his old age. But the ring prompts him to research what doctors now know about the brain effects of trauma and the role of PTSD over a person's life. Many of his dad's behaviors come to make perfect sense when considering that it's now known that for a PTSD sufferer, the passage of time does nothing to shield them from suffering.

Anything can set them off via association, and in the world of PTSD, it's always the same day of the trauma, even decades later.

David's memories of his father had been restricted to a saddened acceptance of what appeared to be a family curse, until the return of the ring and the stories behind it bring fresh images and a new picture of his dad. And this re-framed version of David's father also reshapes his inner relationship with his deceased younger brother. Although both men are gone, David finds that when he dreams of either of them now, he sees them as the young and healthy men he once knew them to be.

The ring has brought him full circle to rediscover the father he thought he had lost. He is of a generation of men who grew up with distant and uncommunicative fathers, but now he understands how that could be and why his father was only a product of his time. The more David comes to see his father in this context, the more his fond and loving memories of his dad come to the forefront. By the time the story ends, he has lived out the truth of the idea that when it comes to finding peace with a loved one, if you are still breathing, there's still time.

See video from ABC News:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7G69L6ivJxo

 

 

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.

 

 


About the Author:

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
 

When 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.

SPLIT: A Child, A Priest and the Catholic Church is a completed memoir. It is the story of how a quiet nun at one time, a Catholic school principal and a leader in the Church at another, came to realize that she was "split" in two and had to reclaim herself and face her abuser and the Catholic Church she loved.

In 2004, Mary became a plaintiff against the Archdiocese of Los Angeles-joining 46 other men and women in the largest successful lawsuit against the Catholic Church in history, ever. What follows is a hero's tale of courage, forgiveness, healing and hope. It is both unsettling and inspiring. Her story takes readers inside the world of church abuse-meeting powerful men who sought to silence victims, as well as brave men and women who worked to illuminate abuse and punish those responsible.

SPLIT is timely-so much so that Pulitzer Prize winner Michael D'Antonio (author of Mortal Sins: Sex, Crime, and the Era of Catholic Scandal) has written a foreword for it.

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