Being enough…a mantra

A friend passed this on to me. Certainly food for thought:

enoughWhat if for just one breath, I was enough?
That I didn’t have anything to gain or lose, to become or change.
That I, in this body, in this moment was enough?
How much more space would I create in my heart for happiness?
For contentment?
For love?

For just this one breath, I am enough.

flamingo_flying_med_clIn my Doc Flamingo persona, I am a licensed Psychologist in California and after a 40-year career as a therapist, am now serving as the Mental Health Clinical Director for a large health plan providing medical and mental health services to over 500,000 Medi-Cal recipients in 14 northern CA counties. In my Karen Stephen writer persona, I invite you to LIKE my AUTHOR FACEBOOK PAGE and tell me about yours.


Keeping my fingers crossed…

Paperback cover finalTHE AMERICAN LIBRARY IN PARIS is pleased to confirm your nomination of MOTHER TONGUE for the 2015 Book Award.

We are in receipt of all requirements – nomination form, nomination fee, and 5 copies of your book. These have now been passed to the screening committee.

The longlist will be announced in mid-June 2015 and the shortlist in mid-July. The winner will be announced October 2015.The Book Award jury for 2015, drawn from the Writers Council of the American Library in Paris, is: Laura Furman (chair), novelist, professor at the University of Texas, and editor of the O. Henry Prize Stories series since 2002; Lily Tuck, novelist and biographer; and Fredrik Logevall, professor of international relations at Cornell University and the first winner of THE AMERICAN LIBRARY IN PARIS BOOK AWARD for “Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam”

Thank you for your submission,
The American Library in Paris
10, rue du Général Camou
75007 Paris | France
t:   +33

Short-listed or short-sighted?

FRONT COVER PAPERBACKA blog by crime author Mike Craven has inspired me. He writes of his hilarious adventure attending a banquet honoring those short-listed for a crime-writing book award in London. I too am waiting with bated breath to discover whether my novel MOTHER TONGUE will make the short list for the American Library in Paris Book Award for 2015. The news will be released in July. Although the prize is $5000 and a trip to Paris in October to collect it, there is also a chance that runners up will be asked to do readings at the Library.

So here’s the dilemma. Do I sell one of more of my grandchildren to pay my way should I not win but be invited to do that reading on my own dime? After all, I was invited to submit by the award’s administrator who thought my novel fit right into their rubric of a book written in English about France or the French-American connection. I’ll even admit for a fraction of a second the truth that Corsica is merely a department of France, even though my entire novel is chock full of Corsican separatists who are trying to prove that that particular truth isn’t so by blowing up the Hôtel de Ville in Bordeaux, assassinating each other, and romancing, then terrorizing an American child advocate attorney who is desperately trying to find her missing Liberation (Paris’ radical newspaper) colleague and his young son.

les-deux-magots-eric-feferberg_afp_getty-imagesDo they serve wine in libraries, or more properly bibliothèques, in France? Perhaps not…it is an American library. Would a chance to visit my favorite Paris haunts make the expenditures worth it?  Would I find consolation sitting under the turquoise awning of Les Deax Magots in the company of the ghosts of Jean Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Ernest Hemingway? Only time will tell.

Reframing ~ when you need a new look at life

flamingo_flying_med_clIn my Doc Flamingo persona, I am a licensed Psychologist in California and after a 40-year career as a therapist, am now serving as the Mental Health Clinical Director for a large health plan providing medical and mental health services to over 500,000 Medi-Cal recipients in 14 northern CA counties. In my Karen Stephen writer persona, I invite you to LIKE my AUTHOR FACEBOOK PAGE and tell me about yours.

reframingOne of the most powerful ways to change our stinking thinking is to reframe persistent negative thoughts. It’s not a matter of just putting on rose-colored glasses, pretending that something which seems awful is just hunky-dory. Cognitive reframing is a dramatic shift that occurs simultaneously in our brains and our emotions, one that allows us to see the disappointments, even the disasters of our lives in a entirely new way.

saying about lossThis saying is a recent example of how reframing dramatically changed even my own pessimistic and stubbornly-held attitude about a loss in my life. The saying popped up on my FACEBOOK Profile. It was just the ticket that, first of all, perfectly reflected the painful event in my life, the unexpected loss of someone whom I had assumed would always be there for me. Then it turned that lost dream into a believable promise for the future, one that I would never have considered as a possibility.

My thinking shifted immediately. Yes, absolutely, life can deal me an unimaginable blow, but on the flip side, it can also deliver an unimaginable promise. Even as I read it, I could feel something deep inside of me change. And every time the old pessimistic thinking, the grief, the sense of unfairness, the “why’s” of it all sneak up on me, my mind and spirit immediately go to the new promise. I find myself opening my eyes, my hands, and my heart, in anticipation of finding that something or someone that I’ve never dreamt of having.

Maybe winning that American Library in Paris Book Award for my novel MOTHER TONGUE.


The American Library in Paris Book Award

book award

Selections from the 2014 award year

I’ve just received an unexpected and most delightful invitation to submit my novel MOTHER TONGUE for the annual American Library in Paris Book Award designed for authors of fiction or non-fiction books written originally in English about France or the French-American connection. MOTHER TONGUE follows the journey of a young American child advocate attorney with Corsican roots who flees to Paris after a personal tragedy. Serving as a lingua corsa (native Corsican tongue) translator for Liberation, she finds herself caught up in another case of a missing child and uses her secret knowledge of lingua corsa to infiltrate the Corsican separatist movement to find the child and avert another tragedy. A suspense-filled French-American connection for sure. C’est moi! Wish me luck.

The winner of the Award receives a prize of $5000.00 and she is invited to Paris, with air travel and accommodation at the Library’s expense, for an award ceremony including a public reading. All nominated authors will have their books added to the permanent collection and showcased in a special display for six weeks in the fall of 2015. They will also be invited to the award ceremony and be considered for a public reading.

From their website: The American Library in Paris has attracted and celebrated writers for all of its ninety-four years. The Library was created in part as a memorial to a young American poet, Alan Seeger, who wrote the well-known poem “I have a rendezvous with death” not long before he died in action in France in 1916. One of the Library’s founding trustees was Edith Wharton. Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein, among many other writers of note, contributed reviews to the Library’s literary magazine, Ex Libris. Stephen Vincent Benet composed John Brown’s Body at the Library. And authors of every generation have worked and spoken at the Library: Ford Madox Ford, Archibald MacLeish, Colette, Henry Miller, André Gide, Anaïs Nin, James Baldwin, Irwin Shaw, James Jones, and Mary McCarthy, to name a few.

Today the Library is the pre-eminent center in Paris for evening talks by prominent authors who write in English. The Library now looks to extend its commitment to outstanding writing by awarding an annual literary prize [of $5000] under the supervision of its Writer’s Council. A generous grant from the Florence Gould Foundation has allowed us to make this idea a reality.


The collection of over 120,000 books at the American Library in Paris

The material in the Library’s collection of over 120,000 items is composed primarily of works by American and other English-language authors, and features significant holdings in American history and civilization, American literature and literary criticism, American artists, and general aspects of American culture and society. The collection is otherwise described as encyclopedic, covering all topics of knowledge.