Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Unhappy Medium

The man to the right, the one with the preposterous eyebrows, is Tim Brown, aka T.J. Brown, Comedic Author Extraordinaire.  (At least, that's what his mum writes on his lunchbox.)  He is also my very good friend. What? No, I'm not ashamed to say it. Hmm? No, we shall not mention the incident with the jellied eels and the monks. Moving on now.     
I met the infamous Brown last May in an atheist group on Goodreads, where I was promoting my book, offering it free in exchange for honest reviews. Tim took me up on it and offered me a copy of his e-book in return, which I accepted, read, and laughed all the way through. (And reviewed, because as an indie-author I know reviews are gold!) Tim said he would be reading my book on his upcoming holiday and sent notes keeping me posted regarding his progress. After we'd read and reviewed each other's books we could have gone our separate ways, but we didn't. We began discussing independent publishing and writing and the rest, as they say, is best served with tartar sauce.  

Here's a bit about Tim from his website, theunhappymedium.com
T J Brown was born in Dorset during the 1960s but was too young to realise how good the decade was meant to be. Instead, he had to make do with the 1970s, which only became interesting towards the end when many, Brown included, started wearing charity-shop clothes and swearing. Conscription into arts school was at this time mandatory and as a result Brown found himself reading German literature, creating miserable paintings and performing music that in retrospect, and at the time, was dreadful. 
After three lost years at art school Brown moved to London to begin five lost years on the margins of the capital’s fashionable underbelly. 
After all that, a career in publishing almost came as a relief. And so, after many years producing illustrated books on astronomy and aviation, Brown returned to his love of comic writing. 
And here's a bit about The Unhappy Medium:
When even the laws of physics let you down, the absurd, the ludicrous and the frankly impossible may be all you have left. 
Dr Newton Barlow has everything a theoretical physicist could ask for – a glittering career both in the lab and on television, a beautiful wife, and best of all, the opportunity to promote his rock-solid certainty that supernatural and religious beliefs are nothing but complete and utter hokum. 
But Barlow is about to take a tumble. Mired in accusations of fraud, incompetence and malpractice, Newton is cast out from the scientific establishment and ejected from the family home. With his life in tatters, he descends into a wine-sodden wilderness.  
Then, after three lost years, Barlow is suddenly approached by his old mentor and fellow sceptic Dr Sixsmith with an extraordinary proposition, an offer that Newton simply cannot refuse. There’s just one small problem:  
Dr Sixsmith is dead. 
Thrown headlong into a new reality that simply shouldn’t exist, Dr Newton Barlow is about to come up against the best and the worst of human nature: tooled-up vicars, paper-pushing ancient Greeks, sinister property developers, a saucy rubber nun and possibly the most mean-spirited man ever to have walked the earth (twice). 
From the dusty plains of Spain to the leafy vicarages of Hampshire, Dr Barlow will have to contradict everything he ever believed in if he wants to save this world – and the next.
I encourage you to go buy Tim's book on Amazon right now. It'll be the best $5 you'll spend this week. One of the most enjoyable books I've ever read. But, if you are apprehensive about taking the chance (and who wouldn't be, seeing the dubious character in the photo above), I'll let you in on the latest news:  The Unhappy Medium can be downloaded free from Amazon tomorrow, all day long and to your heart's content.

And I'll let you in on a little secret... I've read the first few, albeit rough, chapters of the sequel Tim is working on and it's fantastic! Everything we love about the first and more. So, when you read The Unhappy Medium and find yourself agonizing over the fact that you've reached the last page, rest assured T.J. Brown will not fail us. (He dare not; I know where he lives and the foods he loathes. Conveniently, I also have direct access to his partner, Hazel, who knows how to give the back of his head a sound smack.)

What are you still doing here? Go read The Unhappy Medium.  And do be a good reader and leave Tim a review.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Free To Be-- Revised Cover

Now, I don't know why we didn't think of it sooner, it seems so obvious now, but a friend suggested we try a more upbeat image for Free to Be.   I love what we've come up with!  What do you think?

The other is very appropriate for the pensiveness that was a significant part of my first year out of christianity, but ultimately it's a story about rejoicing and being free.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

My Sentiments Exactly -- Contentment

Every so often I read something that makes me cry out, "Oh god, no! Don't lick that gila monster! Save yourself!"  But this post has nothing to do with that.

Other times I read articles and blog posts that make me exclaim, quite differently, "Yes!  This! My sentiments exactly!" I'm pretty sure that, if I don't get too far off track, this blog post will be about this.

I want to share these things with my readers (not the gila monster thing; that's just sick and wrong). I don't want to reinvent the wheel, wasting my time and yours (and insulting the original author besides), trying to say something that's already been beautifully said. I played around with my blog design some, trying to decide on the best method to share this sort of thing.  Unless you have a better idea, I'm just going to post links as regular entries, with the label, "My Sentiment's Exactly."   I may or may not say much about the link.

The first of such things that I would like to share is this amazing blog entry that a friend of mine shared on Facebook.  I'm not familiar with the blogger, but this is one of those gems that makes me want to go back and stalk read more of the author's posts.

Give Me Gratitude or Give Me Debt
...As I lay down to sleep, I remembered this passage from Thoreau’s Walden: “I say beware of all enterprises that require new clothes and not a new wearer of the clothes.” Walden reminds me that when I feel lacking- I don’t need new things, I need new eyes with which to see the things I already have. So when I woke up this morning, I walked into my kitchen wearing fresh perspectacles.

Just go read it already. I'll be here when you get back.

I can relate to this.  I have done this a hundred gazillion times; made the mistake of looking at my lack instead of my abundance. I have just recently been found guilty of being discontent with my kitchen.  All it needs is some TLC-- a little paint stripper and poly on the cabinets, for instance--but it's FULL of TLC on a daily basis. I do try to take care of the kitchen itself, but my tender loving care goes into the people first, the food second, the cast iron third, the trusty old steel knives fourth, the breadboard my dad made just for me fifth, the colony of crickets under the fridge sixth...   You get the idea.  I'm thankful to have a kitchen full of useful items, full of items with character--and even the wear and tear shows that we spend a lot of time there--full of love.  Days that Denny and I cook together and dance to Poi Dog Pondering with the children joining in... those are the best moments of my life. But yes, all those things the author of the blog wrote; all of that.

That discontent sneaks in everywhere, doesn't it? Focusing on the lack gets me catches me out every time. My kitchen, my yard, my home, my children, my spouse, myself. Even reading this person's lovely blog post was a subtle reminder that I haven't been keeping up with my blogs, haven't been writing the way I used to, the way I could.

All thanks to the Flying Spaghetti Monster for the people in my life who don't grow tired of smacking me upside the proverbial head and pointing out the abundance of my life, the richness, the skills and talents I possess that I too often look right past.  (Yeah, you know who you are.)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Mind-boggling Freedom

A friend shared this amazing quote with me today.

When I became convinced that the Universe is natural--that all the ghosts and gods are myths, there entered into my brain, into my soul, into every drop of my blood, the sense, the feeling, the joy of freedom. The walls of my prison crumbled and fell, the dungeon was flooded with light, and all the bolts, and bars, and manacles became dust. I was no longer a servant, a serf, or a slave. There was for me no master in all the wide world--not even in infinite space. I was free--free to think, to express my thoughts--free to live to my own ideal--free to live for myself and those I loved--free to use all my faculties, all my senses--free to spread imagination's wings--free to investigate, to guess and dream and hope--free to judge and determine for myself--free to reject all ignorant and cruel creeds, all the "inspired" books that savages have produced, and all the barbarous legends of the past--free from popes and priests--free from all the "called" and "set apart"--free from sanctified mistakes and holy lies--free from the fear of eternal pain--free from the winged monsters of the night--free from devils, ghosts, and gods. For the first time I was free. There were no prohibited places in all the realms of thought--no air, no space, where fancy could not spread her painted wings--no chains for my limbs--no lashes for my back--no fires for my flesh--no master's frown or threat--no following another's steps- -no need to bow, or cringe, or crawl, or utter lying words. I was free. I stood erect and fearlessly, joyously, faced all worlds.
-- Robert G. Ingersoll (1833-1899)

A Dusty Letter


This afternoon while Denny and I were rearranging our bedroom a bit, I found a dusty letter on a shelf. I recognized my own handwriting. Well, it’s always interesting to come across notes of a writer tucked away here and there, even if the writer is myself. I’m a curious sort. I dusted it off and read it aloud to Denny. It was addressed to my heavenly father, Yahweh. (And like a good girl I’d written the date on it.)

Years ago you asked me to lay aside my hurt and pain and forgive my husband. You asked me to lay aside my rights (or what I thought were my rights) and to let you love Bobby through me. I did my best and saw my marriage restored. 
Little did I know you would ask this of me every day thenceforth!
I find myself today with a  hard, guarded heart and a mediocre marriage. I’m not miserable (most of the time), but I’m also far from happy. I know I’m not being the wife I should be (Proverbs 31:12 is the most convicting verse in scripture!) and that I won’t know happiness until I’m fulfilling my proper role. 
It’s so easy to forget that I was created for Bobby… and not the other way around. I focus so much on how neglected I am… how awful it is to have an unappreciative mate who may love, but seems incapable of showing it. Then comes the nauseating realization that he wakes up each day to a controlling, prickly sort of woman who doesn’t show him respect.
It’s tempting to attempt a change in my attitude with a sigh, “Guess I have to go first again,” in hopes of drawing from him the love and affection I need.
A change in my attitude IS needed, but not for that reason—I will always fall short if that is my goal. No, I need to change because I am not walking in my father’s will. 
Father, I feel like there is a huge wall around me, built to keep me safe, but it’s dark and lonely inside. 
There are things Bobby has said and done that hurt me, but I feel that bringing anything up to him will only hurt him, make him feel inadequate, and that a new method is required. I don’t feel up to it, Yahweh. I think I should just let it all go… forgive him silently and respect him unconditionally. 
I have carried a rather low opinion of him for some time, keeping him at arm’s length because he’s not who I think he should be and it’s not right. It’s not even practical. Who can grow into a man under such conditions? And besides, who could live up to my unreasonable standards anyway? 
Help me, Father.

Denny was floored. I sought the comfort of his embrace and had myself a good cry. Just prior to this we had been discussing the book I'm working on, which covers my teen years, my rocky marriage, my religiosity. Timely.

Man... It’s so good to be free.

Bobby and I had been together for just over twelve years when I wrote that. Justin would have been only about six weeks old.

I see so much here that overwhelms me. Naturally there are the memories. There’s not a part of this that I don’t remember and feel keenly, especially when contrasted with my present freedom, joy and wonderfully fulfilling partnership. There’s part of me that continues to occasionally grieve for that young lady, as well as to rejoice. It’s a mix of things. And tiny part of me is angry. Flat-out angry. Mostly with religion, with the Biblical doctrine that says women are created for men and must respect them whether or not they deserve it. Angry with the doctrine that can foster and feed such self-loathing and guilt as is displayed here, and keep someone spending their last ounces of energy trying to bail out a sinking, hole-riddled life boat.

In the midst of the bad, I see good things here. Though the trait of selflessness was out of balance in my life, I still am rather glad I developed that way of thinking for it’s helped me to be a better mother than I would have been. And wife; it wasn’t appreciated then, but it is now. (I still have to be careful now to take care of myself, to not give so much of myself that I wither. Balance in all things.) My tenacity is also appreciated by Denny, my determination and thoughtfulness, my desperation to sort things out and have healthy relationships. I have carried these things into my new marriage and friendships; they are valued highly and reciprocated.

Yes, these are good traits, but abused by some, especially the religious. It’s sobering. 

I feel like I’ve come so far, so fast. If you’ve read Free to Be you’ve gained some idea of how quickly my paradigms shifted and how my happiness grew just in the first year. I’m coming up on the 2nd anniversary of laying the Bible down and I don’t regret a single step of the way. Much of it just sort of happened, but I made some important decisions in there, too. I am so very, very happy.

I’ve said it before and will say it again: if there is a god, he’s treated me far better since I rejected him than he ever did when I served him.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Free to Be--Free Download!

Oh yes, here we go again!  Spread the word.  =)

Click here to download from Amazon
Click here to purchase an autographed copy
This is not a book about how to get out of religion or how to prove there is no God or how to become a humanist.  This book is a collection of one woman’s thoughts over the course of one year as her life changed and her freedom evolved, as she worked her way out of religious bondage, as she decided there probably is no God and considered why mankind wants one (or two or three), as she explored her freedoms, her past, her future, her culture and her universe.  Her religion permeated every aspect of her life and therefore the removal of it also deeply affected every aspect.
From her small home in rural Missouri Kaleesha invites you into the innermost areas of her life with warm, personal style.  Bits of wit, sadness, beauty and sarcasm abound as she examines the nuances of creating a new life for herself free from the expectations of God.  Surrounded by children, goats, chickens, friends and family she sorts through her relationships and perceptions of herself, her fellow creatures and the cosmos.  This book is an engaging exploration of life, teeming with thoughtful and honest questions about what it means to be human.  

What people are saying

By T J Brown
Format:Kindle Edition
Kaleesha Williams’s self-portrait of a wife, mother and questioning individual is as personal as it is more widely illustrative. It could so easily have been one person’s view of the death of a marriage, a blame-riddled take on events from a single perspective, but Williams manages to use her own experiences as a lens, her thought processes laid bare in often painful detail. Covering a year, the story is seen through journal entries, a period in which the author fights a war on two fronts, struggling to hold together a large young family while she come to terms with an unfolding rejection of religious dogma, an orthodoxy that had done much to drive this fiercely intelligent woman into the shallows.

Thoughtful, analytical and endlessly questioning, Williams is determined to take nothing for granted. There is nothing here that has not been rigorously tested and appraised before it can be trusted or embraced, whether it is from her traditional religious upbringing or from the newer reasoning platform that emerges as the story unfolds. If only more of us did that.

This analysis is very well handled, never drifting into hyperbole, waffle and obsession – quite an art in itself. Williams never portrays herself as a tragic heroine, commendably, and there is no spin in her favour. She is as touchingly forgiving to her protagonists as she is suspicious of the natural temptation to sail under new flags.

I think she could write first-class fiction given that her emotional scenarios are portrayed with such a lean and flowing clarity. Her descriptions of the day-to-day minutiae on the farm are also both charming and informative.

Being such a personal journey you are left hoping for the best for the author, not to mention all the other personalities involved. Good things come from the worst of times – hopefully in this case it will be more writing from a highly accomplished scribe.

5.0 out of 5 stars What a gift... March 14, 2014
By Lisa
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Honest and real and unapologetic. Something we can all learn from even if the details are different. The quest to finding our true selves is universal and I have enjoyed following kaleesha's path as I gain awareness into my own.
5.0 out of 5 stars Such a strong woman! May 17, 2014
By Tasha
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As the description says, this is not a book about whether or not God exists. It is a year out of the author's life while she comes into her own. It is inspiring, touching, amusing, and thought provoking. Kaleesha Williams is an amazing woman, and I'm glad she chose to share her story with us.
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest soul-searching May 16, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
An honest, open account of one woman's spiritual quest. She has had the courage to ask herself the tough questions and seek her own truths and invites the reader to do the same, if they dare. One of my favorite quotes from the book (and I have many) is, "Unanswered questions are opportunities to learn and grow." If you have unanswered questions, and are willing to look for your own truths, this is a great book to help you explore them.
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Wonderful writing about a moving, engaging, and interesting story. I don't have time to write a lengthy review, but I do want to express that it was a great read, one I found terribly interesting, and that I have a lot of respect for the author by the time I got to the end of it. Check out her blog for more of the same, it's like having extra chapters of the book in a sense :)
5.0 out of 5 stars So real May 7, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Reading this book is like reaching into your innermost being, when we dare challenge ourselves to answer the questions in our own lives. I love how she shares her true self even when it is painful to realize hurtful realities. Incredibly thoughtful and introspective, as well as inspiring. May we all find the courage to live life happily and to its fullest.

5.0 out of 5 stars It is a gripping and heartwarming story of an intelligent woman extracting herself from the quagmire of religious dogma ...August 8, 2014
Ullrich Fischer (Canada)

This book gives me hope for America and Humanity. It is a gripping and heartwarming story of an intelligent woman extracting herself from the quagmire of religious dogma in which she was raised. It is also the story of the redemption of a life which was seriously off the rails. From a miserable life with a miss-matched mate to true love. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever had to put up with "God works in mysterious ways" as a non-answer to any of the many obvious questions which examining a religion based life bring up. Kudos to the author. This is the kind of book where you really connect with the story and can't wait to find out what comes next.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Beautiful Mess

beautiful, messy human being
life’s not what it seems
you climbed down from the trees
you grew, developed conscience

but there is no rhyme or reason
you are made of star stuff
the product of a hundred billion chances
beautiful, messy human being

the pressure you feel is imaginary
you can be what you want to be
the only one holding you back is you
the only one pushing you forward is you

in the theater of the universe
in the play of organic life
in the act that is humanity
you will sparkle only for a moment

let it go
live it
let it go
enjoy it
you’ve got this
you beautiful, messy woman