Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Guest Post and giveaway by L. Diane Wolf, author of Circle of Friends Bk III: James

Today, it is my privilege to welcome L. Diane Wolfe to Pudgy Penguin Perusals. Ms. Wolfe is definitely an author whose glass is always half full!
Her writings are positive and inspirational. Enjoy the guest post.

Abuse and Self Image: James’s Story

When I first began designing James, the main character in Book III of The Circle of Friends, child abuse was in the forefront of the news. As a foster parent, I understood the scope of this problem and witnessed its effects firsthand. Since my series is uplifting in nature, I decided not to explore the darkest aspects, but instead focused on the effects of abuse and the role it played in my character’s behavior and self-esteem.

During my time as foster parent, I quickly realized how little was required to damage a child’s self-image. Even kids in a well-adjusted family suffer from fragile and broken egos. Compound the problem with abuse and the self-esteem dips even lower into the negative.

My character endured some physical abuse, but most of James’s trauma stemmed from neglect and mental mistreatment. This had a profound effect on his development as a person. And to bring more meaning to his inner struggles, I will let James tell his own story…

“How did abuse affect my life? Where did my self-image’s downward spiral begin?

“I was already on shaky ground by age six, but that’s when I experienced the biggest blow. My father sometimes hit my mother, and I guess she finally had enough. Without warning, she left him – and me. Once I realized she wasn’t coming back, a sense of abandonment settled on my heart. I thought my mother loved me. Why would she leave me behind with a father prone to violent outbursts? I concluded that I just didn’t matter enough. I felt worthless and scarcely human. My mother had discarded me as if I were only a material possession; a broken toy nobody wanted.

“Those feelings of abandonment followed me into my teens. Every person who drew close to me became suspect. Would that person suddenly ditch me as well? This did not resonate as strong with male friends as it did with girls, though. I really wanted a girlfriend, but I felt terrified she would discard me just like my mother. My feelings of inadequacy continued to choke my spirit, and I did not want to add yet another layer of rejection. I withdrew from the opposite sex and merely watched as relationships developed around me. As a result of my actions, I grew even more depressed, almost to the point of bitterness, that I could not participate.

“Without a mother, I turned to my father for comfort and support. Unfortunately, he was incapable of nurturing a young boy and what words he offered were anything but positive. I desperately needed someone to fill the void left by my absent mother and craved love and affection. My requests for attention were met with cold indifference, though. Occasionally my father responded with anger, but it was not the fury that hurt as much as the neglect. Apparently, my father did not care for me either, and my understanding of love grew muddled. I felt myself slip even further into the pit of uselessness.

“Since my father and I did not interact often, my social skills were severely lacking. I simply did not know how to interact with others. Aware of my inadequacies, I tried to avoid contact rather than experience further embarrassment. Sometimes the other kids would make fun of me, and initially I’d tolerate the teasing. After a while, though, I’d respond in the only manner I knew – with anger. I lost most of those fights, but victory tended to feel shallow as well…

“Believing that I’d somehow disappointed my mother, I tried desperately to please my father. I worked hard at school, determined to excel and prove my worth. Good grades meant little to my father, though. A former Marine, he seemed more concerned that I grow tough and strong. He’d take me hunting and fishing, forcing me to participate in numerous wilderness activities that he claimed were the sport of real men. I so wanted his approval, but I performed poorly in those activities, and my father never expressed desire to understand my interests. I harder I tried, the more I failed. I felt trapped and unable to win his acceptance.

“I guess something good did come of it all. I learned to focus my energy constructively. I worked hard at school, and while my perfect grades did not impress my father, they did please my teachers. Entering the workforce at age fourteen, I soon realized the benefit of long hours. Not only did it get me out of the house, it placed money in my pocket. I began saving for a car, which represented freedom to me. Depending on the time of year, I often worked two and three jobs. One might say I became an over-achiever in the areas of work and school, but it filled the void in my life and suppressed the pain I felt. It also gave me a sense of purpose, something I’d never before experienced.

“And ultimately, I credit my closest friends and a wonderful stepmother for preventing me from succumbing to despair. They provided me with an outlet for my frustrations, encouraging me at every opportunity, and limited my self-abuse to just overwork. I didn’t realize how far in the negative my self-image resided until they began filling me with positive. It’s been a long, slow process, but I’ve made some improvements.

“How did the abuse affect my life and where am I now? I struggle with depression and often withdraw from the world when I hurt. I’m still socially challenged and don’t have a clue how to cultivate a relationship with a girl. When things don’t go my way, I grow angry, and the rage sometimes consumes me. After witnessing my father’s outbursts, though, I try desperately to control the fury. I’m terrified I will lash out at others as my father did with me.

“My only hope now resides in a college scholarship; a result of my hard work and dedication. I want to be a better person. I want my life to have purpose and meaning… ”

L. Diane Wolfe, professional speaker & author

Known as “Spunk On A Stick,” to her fans, the author is a member of the National Speakers Association. Her young adult series, The Circle of Friends, features morally grounded, positive stories that appeal to both teens and concerned parents. “Overcoming Obstacles With SPUNK! The Keys to Leadership & Goal-Setting”, ties all of Wolfe’s goal-setting and leadership seminar’s information together into one complete, enthusiastic package. Ten years associating with a motivation training system and her experience as a foster parent gave her the in-depth knowledge of relationships, personality traits and success principals. Wolfe travels the East Coast extensively for media interviews and speaking engagements, averaging over one hundred appearances each year. She maintains a dozen websites & blogs, manages an online writer’s group, and contribute articles for several other sites.

The latest in her series, The Circle of Friends, Book III…James, was released on August 18, 2009.

Release date: August 18, 2009, Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.
$19.95 USA, 6x9 Trade paperback, 296 pages, Fiction/YA
ISBN 978-0-9816210-3-6 / 0-9816210-3-1

L. Diane Wolfe is also visiting these additional blogs. Please stop by and visit:
Aug 11 Tour Dates, Guest Post, & Giveaway
Aug 13 Review & interview on TexasRed Books
Aug 14 Interview & review on Genevieve's Blog Aug 15-31 Book giveaway on Jo-Jo Loves to Read
Aug 17 Guest post on Frenetic Reader
Aug 18-19-20 Interview & review on Always Something to Read
Aug 21 Guest post & review on The Story Siren
Aug 24 Review & interview on Ultimate Book Hound
Aug 25 Guest post on Find Your Next Book Here
Aug 26 Guest post & review on Belle of the Books
Aug 27 Interview on Kathy Erskine’s Blog

For online reviews see here:
My Contest is in separate post. Enter here.


  1. I have been following Diane's blog tour, and am impressed with the originality of hearing James's story "in his own words." A very unique approach, giving us yet another view and additional insight into the book. Diane definitely excels at inspiring and being motivational! One can't help but HAVE to get and read this book, let alone the series!

  2. This was a great guest post! How neat to hear a little bit more that makes up James character. Thanks Diane!

  3. I know I keep saying this, but it's true - GREAT POST! Being a foster parent has got to be the toughest job in the world. Just being a parent is, but to have one come to you so hard.

  4. Thank you so much for hosting me today!!!

  5. Punk on a Stick - Love it.
    Must come from the gorgeous red hair.

    Wonderful Guest Post!


  6. Aw, thank you! Do I see red hair on you as well?

  7. Jame's point of view is very poignant. You can feel his struggle with this post. Great job Diane!

    And I love the title of this blog!

    Chris C

  8. This was a neat guest post. She certainly did a good job of putting herself in her character's place! I'm happy to be helping her promote this book as well -- she is a talented, thoughtful and positive lady and I hope her series does well. I'm sure many kids (unfortunately) can relate to James's story.

  9. She's such a great writer. I really enjoyed this guest post!

  10. Really enjoyed the guest post, inspirational. I've seen a few of L. Diane Wolfe's posts and comments along her blog tour and she sounds like a lovely, friendly lady.
    Thanks for hosting Kaye

  11. a new to me writer--the interview was enlightening

  12. Thanks for a great guest guest post. It was interesting to learn a character's story from the character himself. I love the idea of a "morally grounded, positive" series for young adults.

  13. Thank you, everyone! This was perhaps my favorite guest post to write for this tour.
    And sadly a lot of kids share James's experience. There's approx. 3 million children abused each year, and the estimated number is 9 million. That's a lot of hurting kids...

  14. This book sounds powerful and it's a voice that should be heard. The impact of abuse on lives never goes away it's just managed.
    Theresa N


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