The Alexandria Papers Newsletter #111


Mindfulness

The Science of Mindfulness | Mindful
The ultimate guide to the research on the effects of mindfulness and meditation for our health, psyche, and overall quality of life.
Why Is Mindfulness Important? 20+ Reasons to Practice Today | Positive Psychology
The importance of mindfulness is that it can help us see the world differently; to grow, flourish & live more compassionate, fulfilled lives.

Migraine

Self-Care for Chronic Conditions: How and Why It Can Be a Priority | Bezzy Migraine
It can be hard to prioritize your own needs when it feels like your body has let you down. But self-care is important for those living chronic conditions.
5 Hydrating Foods Made of Over 85% Water | Bezzy Migraine
Watermelon, cucumbers, and yogurt are water-rich foods that can help you stay hydrated. Here’s why hydration matters when you live with a chronic condition.

Trauma and Sexual Abuse

Trauma: Reaction to Distressing Events and Healing & Recovery | Better Health, Victoria AU
It is normal to have strong emotional or physical reactions after a distressing or frightening event, and help is available.
How to Cope with Traumatic Stress: Common Reactions to Stress and Trauma | APA
Traumatic stress is a normal reaction to an abnormal event, such as a violent act, a serious injury, a sexual violation, or other shocking event.
Nightmares and Chronic Illness: Indicators of Trauma? | Chronic Illness Trauma Studies
Nightmares and chronic illness. PTSD is one outcome of trauma, chronic illness is another. Trauma therapy, heal old trauma, preventing flares

Mental Health

Seven Ways to Take Care of Your Mental Health | Central Valley Doctors Health System
When we say take care of yourself, we mean your overall health, including your mental health, which entails your psychological, emotional and social welfare. It affects how you feel, think, behave, make decisions and connect with others.
Taking Good Care of Yourself | Mental Health America
Now that you’ve made the decision to begin your journey to recovery, below are some tools to aid you in the process. Identifying tools and developing plans will help you be more prepared and empowered to take action when it comes to your recovery. Here are healthy steps to take:

Books

4 Crime and Suspense Novels That Make for Hot Summer Reading | BookRiot
Whether you’re looking for your next thrilling audiobook or want to pick up a brand new mystery, we’ve got you covered.
50 of the Greatest Summer Novels of All Time | Literary Hub
What makes a summer novel? It might be set in during a summer (One Fateful or otherwise), or it might be, for one reason or another, particularly appealing to read during the summer, or it might si…

Cooking and Baking

54 Easy One-Pot Meals That Require Minimal Cleanup | Southern Living
Make meal planning easy by cooking one of these one-pot meals for dinner tonight. From pasta to casserole, this collection has something for everyone.
Super Fun Summer Smoothies | Love and Lemons
These four fun summer smoothies are healthier versions of classic treats – blueberry muffins, mint chip ice cream, peaches & cream, and PB&J!
Our 12 Best Quick Bread Recipes | Food and Wine
These easy quick bread recipes use simple ingredients like bananas, coconut, pecans and shredded zucchini to add extra flavor and texture.

The Alexandria Papers Newsletter on Substack is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts by email and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber. I’m committed to having the entire archive free, but paid subscribers help cover the costs of research each week.

Do you need help managing your social media accounts? I have ten years experience on major platforms like X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Do you need help editing or proofreading your book? I’m a retired university World Literature and Creative Writing professor, and author of several traditionally and/or Indie published books, with over 20 years editing and proofreading experience with novels, poetry, and nonfiction. Trauma informed editing.
Heaven and earth, the Celtic saying goes,
are only three feet apart, but in thin places,
that distance is even shorter.
Eric Weiner, “Where Heaven and Earth Come Closer”
for Max or Alex or, maybe, James

Last night I dreamt of you, after all these
years, and you were lying in my arms, in

the middle of the day, the sunlight showing
the first strands of silver in your hair, and

your eyes blue, so blue, heart-poundingly
blue, like something out of a romance novel

only better because, at last, you were mine.
Afterward, in the dream, we walked through

your garden, lush with peonies, pink and red,
heavy with daffodils and yellow roses, and

you showed me the freshly dug corner where
you were going to plant carnations, red and

pink, because they were my favorite. I stumbled
along beside you, wondering that someone as

beautiful as you could actually love me, and
when you kissed me, the sun warm on my

back and you warm and strong in front of me,
bees buzzing faintly behind us, a lush carpet

of violets under our bare feet, the cat rubbing
against our ankles, when you kissed me and

whispered my name, the walls around my heart
crumbled into useless piles of rock and salt.

Last night, I dreamt of you, after all these
years, and of our worst argument…

(read more)


As powerfully written, darkly humorous, surprising, and accessible as Szeman’s prose works, these poems let you glimpse into the hearts, lives, and minds of ordinary people — whether they be mythological, biblical, literary, or contemporary — as they struggle to make sense of relationships, family, marriage, divorce, children, spirituality, faith, and the existence of God. As they struggle to comprehend the very things each of us experiences every day.

(read more poems)

Awards:

• Grand Prize Winner, Elliston Poetry Prize
• Isabel & Mary Neff Creative Writing Fellowship
• First Place, Elliston Poetry Prize
• Second Place, Elliston Poetry Prize
Centennial Review Prize for Poetry
• Honorable Mention, Non-Rhyming Poetry,
Writer’s Digest Creative Writing Contest

(Get your copy now)


The Kommandant’s Mistress, (a novel)

Part One: The Kommandant, Chapter One

“Then I saw her. There she stood, in the village store, her hair in a long braid down the center of her back, her skin white in the sunlight, and my hand went to my hip, seeking the weight of my gun. As the girl spoke, I stumbled back against one of the shelves, my fingers tightening at the leather around my waist. While the shopkeeper arranged the food in the bag, the morning sun glinted on the storefront windows, illuminating the girl. The wooden shelves pressed into my shoulders and back. Sweat dampened my forehead and ribs. Another shopper spoke, frowned, pushed aside my arm to reach a jar on the shelf behind me, but I didn’t move. My hand slid down over my hip and leg. No, I’d forgotten that I no longer wore my gun…”

(read more)

About The Kommandant’s Mistress

The rumors spread by the Camp’s inmates, other Nazi officers, and the Kommandant’s own family insist that she was his “mistress,” but was she, voluntarily? Told from three different perspectives – that of the formerly idealistic Kommandant, the young Jewish inmate who captivates him, and the ostensibly objective historical biographies of the protagonists – this novel examines one troubling moral question over and over: if your staying alive was the only “good” during the War, if your survival was your sole purpose in this horrific world of the Concentration Camps — whether you were Nazi or Jewish — what, exactly, would you do to survive?  Would you lie, cheat, steal, kill, submit?

Flashing back and forth through the narrators’ memories as they recall their time before, during, and after the War, and leading, inevitably, to their ultimate, shocking confrontation, “Szeman’s uncompromising realism and superb use of stream-of-consciousness technique make [this novel] a chilling study of evil, erotic obsession, and the will to survive” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).

New York Times Book Review “Notable Book” and one of its “Top 100 Books of the Year,”  Winner of the University of Rochester’s Kafka Prize for “the outstanding book of prose fiction by an American woman,” the tales told by the Kommandant, his “mistress,” and their “biographer” will mesmerize and stun you, leaving you wondering, at the conclusion, which, if any, is telling the complete truth about what happened between them.

Awards:

• New York Times Book Review “Notable Book”
and “Top 100 Books of Year”
• University of Rochester Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize
“the outstanding book of prose fiction by an American woman”
• Publishers Weekly (* review) “Outstanding Merit”
• Talmadge McKinney Award “Excellence in Research”

(originally published by HarperCollins / HarperPerennial NY)

(Get your copy now)


Part One: Claudia, Chapter One

Doubts are more cruel
than the worst of truths.

Molière

Chapter One

They got there sooner than I expected. I was waiting at the upstairs window, so I saw them when they arrived, their lights flashing, their sirens silent. There were two policemen, in two separate cars, and the paramedics in the ambulance. As they got out of the vehicles, the emergency lights turned everything a strange, pulsing red: the snow, the ice at the edge of the window, the bedroom where I stood. They slipped across the yard on their way to the front porch, their breath hanging white in the air. As they rushed up the front steps and disappeared from my view, I let go of the lace curtain and turned around to look at the body. I suppose I should’ve gone over to the bed and closed its eyes or covered its face, but I couldn’t make myself do it.

The squad stopped at all the other bedrooms on the floor before they found the right one. When they saw me and the body, they rushed in, plying stethoscope, oxygen mask, and blood pressure cuff, calling out to each other in their own telegraphic language. Their hands rushed as quickly as their words, but none of that made any difference. There was no life left in that body. There hadn’t been for ages.

All that time, I didn’t move or make a sound. When the policeman came over to me, he had to put his hand on my arm to get me to look at him. It was almost as if I were the one who was dead.

And to think that was only the beginning…

(read more)

About Only with the Heart

When Claudia Sloane is arrested for the murder of her mother-in-law, everyone is stunned, especially her husband Sam. Claudia loved Eleanor as if she were her own mother and would never have hurt her. At least, that’s what Claudia insists. But even Sam begins to wonder how far Claudia would go in the name of love: did she help the terminally-ill Eleanor commit suicide?

During the widely publicized trial, Sam tries desperately to maintain his belief in his wife’s innocence despite the mounting evidence against her. Meanwhile, Claudia unwillingly begins to suspect that Sam may have helped his own mother commit suicide, but is letting his wife risk conviction for the murder.

Gripping and suspenseful, compassionate yet unflinchingly honest, Only with the Heart deals with the dreadful effects of terminal disease on its patients and their Caregivers, explores our primal need for acceptance and family ties, and examines the complex and evolving nature of love.

Originally published by Arcade 

“Piercing, close-to-the-bone fiction.” — Barnes & Noble

“Bold and ambitious.” — San Francisco Mercury News

“[A] delicately structured, poignant novel of love, memory, & family responsibility.” — Publishers Weekly

(Get your copy now)


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