Review on Reading Frenzy: "Well-written, interesting and brutally honest"

LouAnn of RF
A new review today on Reading Frenzy:

This memoir is written a little different than many I’ve read in the past. The author doesn’t dwell on the events that led her to the point of needing therapy; she talks about how it helped her and why.

Anyone who needs to come to terms with something that happened to them in the past would benefit from this book. Jane Rowan discusses the steps in her therapy, how she learned to express herself and how she reached inside to begin the healing process. I found the movement therapy particularly fascinating. It reminds me of a form of meditation where you block out what’s going on around you and concentrate on your inner emotions. It’s very intriguing and I’m sure others would benefit from it.

The author also includes some poetry she wrote, which opens the window to let the reader see inside her heart.

Well-written, interesting and brutally honest. This is a book that may be difficult for some to read, but it’s also an important story to understand the consequences of sexual assault on the victim. You really must read this one!

"Book and a Chat" Interview on BlogTalk Radio

 A Book and a Chat
Interview with Jane by the charming Barry "Storyheart" is available now: Background on my life, why I wrote the book, how I wrote it, and why! Insights about memoirs on trauma, the creative process, and life in general.

Love, Abuse, and Forgiveness

I'm pleased to have a Guest Post "Love, Abuse, and Forgiveness" at the blog Coming Out of the Trees (excerpts of my therapy journal) by Marie

It took me a long time to remember that I was abused. In the year after my father died, when I was 53, I finally woke up to a memory that pointed to abuse (see related excerpt). How could those memories be hidden so long? I think there was both a push and a pull towards forgetting. The push was my family’s secrecy and silence. Both when I was a child and later, there was no space for my feelings or disclosures that could threaten my parents’ already shaky marriage.

But in that eccentric leftist family I also received much love and attention. There was never a question in my mind (as there is for too many children) that both my father and my mother loved me deeply and strongly. I tagged along after my father into factories where he fixed equipment. My mother played endless games of Parcheesi with me.

When the memories, many of them vague, began to return, I did daily battle with myself even to begin to believe that my father could have abused me. It made no sense… Read the rest of the post...

"Incest Survivors will cheer," writes Bookish Dame!

Here's what Deborah, The Bookish Dame, wrote today. I am so moved by the ways she "got" the essence of The River of Forgetting.

This is a difficult review to write.  I want to tell you this book has touched my soul and psyche in ways that nothing else I've read on the subject has ever been able to.  That makes it difficult to summarize for me.

Over the years, as all of us probably have, I've read numerous books sharing survival stories of alcohol, drug use, dysfunctional families, incest, child abuse and the like.  Not until this book has any one of them had the same impact.  I attribute a lot of that to the fact that Jane Rowan is not whining and enlisting the sympathies of the reader...or even asking for the blame to be placed not only on the offending father or mother, but on the opposite parent or guardian.

Jane Rowan's book is not a matter-of-fact story, either, but a real and honest walk with her in discovery.  It's as  if we're on an excavation, an uncovering of an ancient ruin (an apt word) that has such power to harm that it's a cancer that's virtually inoperable unless it's painstakingly routed out.  What a new concept!  No crying and subconscious or conscious begging for "poor me" readers--just "here's what I uncovered, it was such a journey to get there!"

Ms Rowan writes her non-fiction book like a novel.  It's a book so easy to read that one has nearly finished before it's realized.  I had a hard time putting it down.  The hours rushed by as I was caught up in her powerful and easy prose. 

One of the most intriguing and significant books of its kind I've had the pleasure of reading and reviewing.

The River of Forgetting: an intense, powerful story

What I love about this new review at The Book Connection is that the reviewer shares her discomforts about the book as well as what she appreciates:

The River of Forgetting is an intense story. It's not one you read and just move onto the next book in your stack. It's impossible for me, as someone who had a less than ideal childhood, not to compare some of Rowan's experiences with my own. Granted, there wasn't the level of abuse that Rowan endured, but there is an amount of neglect that has followed me to this day; something I unsuccessfully attempted to deal with over 10 years ago in therapy. I had tried Inner Child work, but couldn't reach what I needed to get me through.

The reader spends time with Rowan in the therapist's office, the studio, in group sessions, at home and at family events. This well-written, powerful memoir dives deeply into those years when the past collided with the present. It discusses how during a portion of her journey, problems at work and mysterious threatening postcards and letters pushed her to the edge. At times I was a bit uncomfortable with the intimate relationship between Rowan and her therapist, but then I got to wondering if my own therapy wasn't successful because I couldn't connect with my therapist in such a meaningful way. These women tackled some tough issues together, and it was important for Rowan to feel Sarah's love and support throughout the entire process.

The River of Forgetting inspires with poetry, journal writing, and a poignant narrative. As readers follow Rowan's transformation, they too will be encouraged to find the peace and joy they deserve.

In the Movie Version of My Life...

Blogcritics interviewer asked:

If your memoir, The River of Forgetting, were to be turned into a movie, who would you love to see play what characters and why?

I’m afraid that a younger Jack Nicholson would do a great job of being my father, because he’s so good at being both charismatic and creepy. His performance in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was so reminiscent of my dad that it was hard for me to watch.

Sally Field might be able to play my mother. She would need to bring out a strange combination of stubbornness and passivity, along with an ability to lie to herself, that Sally could convey brilliantly.

Meryl Streep could be my therapist, any day. Why not? She can easily show compassion and intelligence along with a strong sense of purpose and integrity, and she does it with very subtle changes in her face and body.

Why Do You Write?

Today I guest blog at Review From Here

What is writing for? Is it about your ambition to sell a million books for money or fame? Is it about reaching certain readers and changing something in their hearts and lives? Is it to express something inside you that is important but unformed, demanding work and attention to bring it to the surface? Is it an expression of spontaneous need like the impulse to splash red paint across a wall when you’re angry?

I came face-to-face with these questions when I started to write The River of Forgetting: A Memoir of Healing from Sexual Abuse. Did I want to write a bestseller, sensationalizing the details to lure publishers and readers? Was I writing for revenge or to display how victimized I was? Read the rest of the interview...

The Story Behind the Book

The Story Behind the Book is Literarily Speaking’s newest feature. Here we find out either the inspiration behind authors’ books or how they got published. Today’s guest is Jane Rowan, author of the memoir, The River of Forgetting: A Memoir of Healing from Sexual Abuse.
It may seem strange, but my book was inspired by pure gratitude and joy. Yes, The River of Forgetting is a story about childhood abuse and healing, but it’s also a story of deep transformation and the miraculous nature of what happens inside the therapist’s office. I haven’t found many books that speak honestly about this process, which I believe is our modern equivalent of the Iliad and Odyssey. Read the rest of the interview...

Inner Child Rebellion!

As you can see from this blog, I’ve been doing I lot of publicity for my memoir, The River of Forgetting. Well, today as I sat to listen to my Inner Children, as I do every morning, they were just furious with me. Too much work, not enough play! they said. 

I believe in the power of this memoir, I truly do. I I’ve been getting to amazing emails from others who have read it. They say that it validates their feelings, even if their circumstance of abuse were different. They’ve told me about their own Little Girls inside and the amazing, gutsy, and even funny things these inner children have said. They say the book unlocks access to these feelings.

But today and tomorrow I need just to take care of my own Inner Child and let her do whatever she wants. Maybe some wild abstract painting. Certainly some wandering in the woods and sitting by the pond with the dragonflies buzzing.

It’s time to go play—have a good day, you out there!

Why Write? and Listening for Words

Today I am delighted to be interviewed by Hot Author, who asked these questions and more.

Q: What compelled you to write your first book?

A: Sheer gratitude for the way that my personal crisis opened up into opportunity. I was driving down the highway in Connecticut on the way to see my son in New York, feeling an upwelling of love and thankfulness, and it just came clear that I needed to write The River of Forgetting.

Q: How did you feel the day you held the copy of your first book in your hands?

A: Holding the book in my hands was nothing compared to the thrill of seeing it on Amazon! At that point I knew I had truly launched it into the world for everyone to see.

Q: What type of music, if any, do you listen to while you write? Do you need the noise or the silence?

A: Silence! I need to hear the music of the words (I’m a poet as well as prose writer), and I need to listen inside for the exact emotional resonances of the scenes and the words. Music has its own propulsive power, not what I need. ...Read the rest of the interview at Hot Author

Why memoir? and what about doubts?

In today's interview, The Examiner asked, "Why did you choose your particular genre?"

A: That’s a great question! When I was working on this book, some of my friends advised me to fictionalize my story. They saw how I was sweating blood over getting the truth onto paper, and they thought it might be easier if I distanced myself and put the story “out there” away from me, as a fiction.

But I knew it had to be memoir. When I read a good memoir, I find there’s a certain thrill in knowing the story is real, as well as a certain solidity and trust in the author that I develop as I go along. There’s the sense of getting to know a real human being, with their vulnerability and their defenses. I needed to put forth that truthfulness, no matter how difficult it was.

"Do you ever experience self-doubts with your work?"

A: I encountered several kinds of doubt. First I wondered if I’d have the nerve to write the truth about the degree of pain I endured as I uncovered fragments of abuse that shattered my notions about my family. Then I didn’t know how to find a form and tone that felt correct: dead honest, intimate, and yet crafted solidly to hold the story. I had to experiment for months to find the form, which now is a linear story, but with pieces from my journals and with poems as well.

I didn’t know how much to include about my family’s history and where to put it. Finally, I saw that a dozen or so family snapshots would do the job, and that these should enter after I had introduced the reader to the basic problem and asked the question, “Was this a family that could support abuse?”... Read the rest of the interview.

Review of Memoir on One Day At A Time

Jennifer writes:

The River Of Forgetting is a non-fiction memoir of one woman's journey to the truth surrounding her childhood sexual abuse...

Without sharing too much more, I shall say that this memoir is poignant, heart-wrenching and almost poetic in its prose.  Sharing with us the story through poetry, dreams and narration, we are taken upon a journey with a family that loves even though the horrors are long forgotten.  As we all know, the truth always prevails and the strength and courage Jane Rowan shares with the reader will leave you heartbroken at times. [Read the entire review]

Therapy: The Modern Hero’s Journey

 Excerpt from Jane's guest post at Lori's Reading Corner:

Mighty Odysseus undertook his journeys through stormy seas, past seductive Sirens and fearful monsters, on and on through the trials that marked him as a heroic figure. In the end he came home to a faithful wife, whose loyalty he tested before he believed her.

Joseph Campbell, the beloved author of The Hero of a Thousand Faces and presenter of “The Power of Myth,” made it very clear that the real hero’s journeys of our times are internal ones. They are the battles with the storms, temptations, and calls to faithfulness that take place inside our own psyches. Our protagonist is as likely to be a woman as a man. 

The essence of a heroic journey is that we feel a call to change something in our lives, that we are willing to meet this call and take risks for it, that we encounter frightening forces that seem to threaten our very existence, that we receive help (in the old days, from supernatural forces; in these days, often from a therapist or mentor or teacher), and finally that we return home in some sense, to a place both new and old.

Every week, many millions of people enter their therapist’s offices and bravely undertake this inner voyage, returning to the daunting waves and rocks, the monsters from their childhoods and the ghosts of their families... [Read the rest of the post...]

In my book, TheRiver of Forgetting: A Memoir of Healing from Sexual Abuse, I wanted to celebrate this process... [Read the rest of the post...]

Interview at Paperback Writer - A Typical Writing Day

Interview at Paperback Writer

 Give us an example of a typical writing day. 

I have no typical writing day! For The River of Forgetting, it was such a personal and intense project that I had to work on it when I could and how I could. I’d haul out my journals from the relevant time and cull them for useful passages, get back into the feelings of the time, and then try to craft a story that would show just what I was going through. It was important both to capture the intensity of what I went through – recovering old, traumatic memories from childhood – and also to make a narrative that readers could relate to.

  Do you write on a computer or with pen/pencil and paper?

The computer is my best friend.[Read the rest of the interview...]

Which part of the book was the hardest to write?

This question is from the Pump Up Your Book author interview posted June 7, 2011

Q: Which part of the book was the hardest to write?

I came to a dead standstill about halfway through. I’d already spent about two years writing, finding a tone and form that worked to convey the story. One thing I did was to incorporate snippets of my journals in the story, so the narrative could keep flowing in one voice, and then the raw, uncensored voice of my journals could also enter when appropriate, but the reader would not have to be immersed in it all the time. I think it’s important to give the reader a break.

Anyway, I was trying to write about a year of my life that was just chaotic in the intensity of the flashbacks and emotions that swept through me, and I stalled. My therapist, the same one who had guided me through the years, said, “Just wait, it will come,” but this felt different from the other times I had stopped and started. Finally, I said to her, “I just don’t want to write this part. How many times do I have to go back there?” “Good question,” she said. I realized it was time to go on to the next part and write about finding the little girls inside of me, my inner children, and how I learned to be trustworthy for them and they learned to trust me.

“It’s a love story,” my therapist said, “a love story of you and the little girls inside.” And then I was able to write the rest of the book.

First Appearance on my June Virtual Book Tour

(I'll try to post only new material from this tour--don't want to bore you!) 

Cheryl Malandrinos writes on Broowaha:

I’ve known Jane Rowan for a couple of years now. She’s a happy, active, and talented writer and artist. When she asked me to read her memoir, The River of Forgetting: A Memoir of Healing from Sexual Abuse, I was pleasantly surprised. 

The River of Forgetting covers a particular five-year period in Rowan’s life, from the first memory that surfaced and hinted at childhood abuse to the moment when she decided to write the book. Her world as she knew it turned chaotic as she tried to understand whether her loving, eccentric family was also an abusive family. She also had to cope with this while living her regular life, teaching and caring for her elderly mother; a mother who might have allowed the abuse to occur. 

Not only is this a story of Rowan’s journey to heal from past hurts, it’s a therapy story to honor the men and women who do heroic work every week in therapists’ offices all over the globe - uncovering painful pasts and integrating and learning to open their hearts and move on.

Social Media and the Inner Child

Social media have us hooked—no big news there. Facebook claims over 500 million users. Twitter has reached nearly 200 million users registered accounts who post 110 million tweets per day as of January 1, 2011. (Now I don’t necessarily think that the number of accounts is equal to the number of human users, but that’s a quibble for another day.)

Lately I’ve been noticing the ways social media hook my Inner Child.  I feel “You’ve got to keep going with the social media, you’re on a roll, have to get more followers on Twitter, get more friends on Facebook, got to keep in touch with Linked In-- hurry, hurry, reply.” Sometimes it’s my childish fears (You don’t have enough friends. You’re not doing enough. Look, Suzy Q has 3000 followers and you have only 200). Sometimes it’s positive reinforcements (Oh, two more followers, let me look for more, my score is rising. Keep going now, I’m on a roll).

The social media are useful, no doubt. But they are also addictive through their push-pull of enticement and fear. Just now I set the kitchen timer for 30 minutes to make sure I have to get up and breathe, look into my back yard, remember my body is here, rather than just keep plugging in electronically.

But anyway, we can play out in that great Web. See you in cyberspace!

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