Category Archives: Memoir

BOOK RELEASE: Let Your Heart Be Broken

Happiest of release days to Tina Davidson, author of Let Your Heart Be Broken: Life and Music from a Classical Composer.

Tina Davidson is three-and-a-half when she is adopted from her foster home in Sweden by a visiting American professor. Soon she is the oldest of five children, living with her mother and stepfather in Turkey, Germany, and Israel. She studies music and becomes a prolific pianist and composer. But something about her birth remains unnamed and hidden. When she returns to Sweden, she contacts the Swedish adoption agency. “Come,” says the voice on the phone, “I have information for you.”

In Let Your Heart Be Broken, Tina Davidson juxtaposes memories, journal entries, and insight into the life of an artist and a mother-at work. Along the way, Davidson meets Ernest Hemingway and Carl Sandburg, survives an attack by nomads in Turkey, and learns her birth father is a world-famous scientist. And throughout, there is the thread of music, an ebb and a crescendo of a journey out of the past and into the present, through darkness and into the light.

Order your copy of Let Your Heart Be Broken here!

TINA DAVIDSON, a highly regarded American composer, creates music that stands out for its emotional depth and lyrical dignity.  Lauded for her authentic voice, the New York Times praised her “vivid ear for harmony and colors.”  Philadelphia Inquirer writes that she composes “real music, with structure, mood, novelty and harmonic sophistication – with haunting melodies that grow out of complex, repetitive rhythms.”

Over her forty-five-year career, she has been commissioned and performed by well-known ensembles such as National Symphony Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra, American Composers Orchestra, OperaDelaware, VocalEssence, Kronos Quartet, Cassatt Quartet and Grammy award winner, Hilary Hahn. 

Long-term residencies play a major role in Davidson’s career. She was composer-in-residence as part of the innovative Meet The Composer “New Residencies” and with the Fleisher Art Memorial in Philadelphia.  Championing composing in public schools, she created the city-wide Young Composers program to children how to write music through instrument building, improvisation, and graphic notation.

Tina Davidson was born in Stockholm, Sweden and grew up in Oneonta, NY and Pittsburgh, PA.  She currently resides in Lancaster PA.

Learn more about Tina here:

Praise for Let Your Heart Be Broken

“Rarely does a composer tie together life events and inner creative propulsion in a narrative that speaks directly to their audience. Ms. Davidson’s music is lyrical and vulnerable, as is her voice in words. Her book will allow listeners and musicians alike to build their own connections to Ms. Davidson’s work in all of its forms.” –Hilary Hahn, violinist and Grammy winner

“Let Your Heart Be Broken is a poignant telling of a life inextricably entwined in the art of making music. It is a rare peek into the inner workings of the mind and its desires, joys, and fears, and how that affects the process of wrestling notes onto a page; a memoir filled with the twists and turns of the soul, it is a rewarding read.”  –Jennifer Higdon, Pulitzer Prize composer

“Whether she is writing about the hauntings of childhood or the day-to-day practical work of a leading American composer, Tina Davidson writes with precision and poetry, bringing us into her remarkable life.”  –Tim Page, author and  former New York Times music critic

Listen to an exclusive Spotify playlist with music from the book here!


Bike Riding in Kabul by Jamie Bowman was released less than a month ago, but already praise has been pouring in from reviewers. Bike Riding in Kabul held the #1 bestseller spot in International Law on Amazon for three weeks steady, and it’s incredible to see such a quick and positive response from these first readers.

Grab your copy of Bike Riding in Kabul here, or ask for it at your favorite bookstore!

I received an ARC of Bike Riding in Kabul: The Global Adventures of a Foreign Aid Practitioner, and as soon as it was published, I bought copies for my sister, nephew, and niece. Then, I wrote to my cousin, who bought her own copy. What can I say? I enjoyed the book that much. Sparing us the confusing alphabet soup of agency anacronyms, Jamie Bowman’s book gives us a peek into the workings of the US’s international development efforts in post-conflict and emerging markets. Her stories are informative, well-written, and most of all, entertaining. As a bonus, we get a glimpse of countries most of us will never visit. Through Ms. Bowman’s telling, I can almost see the crush of traffic in Moscow, the red dirt roads of Juba, South Sudan, and the breathtaking beauty of Panjshir, Afghanistan. Well done, Ms. Bowman. I hope you are writing a sequel.

–Amazon reviewer

Bike Riding in Kabul is a wonderfully unique book. An intelligent memoir written to be as enjoyable and fast-paced as a novel, the author worked for government foreign aid organizations in developing countries. For those who like to travel, to read about travel, are interested in world affairs or who are just curious, it is interesting and sometimes, yes, troubling. These are countries most people will never visit. Cultural and political challenges are highlighted and explained, as are personal relationships, good and not as good. Through it all, author Jamie Bowman shows an enjoyable sense of humor, a human side and her love of country. I highly recommend!

–Amazon Reviewer

I have an insatiable need to learn and explore but am now limited by age, time, and resources so I appease my desires by reading the travails of others. From the safety and comfort of my home, I can vicariously live the lives of others. I don’t have to arrange flights and hotels, pack, rub elbows with other passengers, hunt for transport, or do anything else that goes with foreign travel, which in my elder years, have become more daunting than exciting.

Jamie’s writing not only takes me with her, I also feel her emotions as she conveys humor, angst, love, fear, confusion, and sometimes frustration in response to events, places, and people. Plus she explains her role and some of the challenges she faces in a manner I can easily understand.

Jamie has provided me with the excitement of exploration and insight in revealing a world I didn’t realize existed — helping other countries with their growth and humanity through home and business ownership — something so many of us take for granted or simply dismiss.

Jamie’s telling of her escapades leave me wanting more — more about the people she meets, the towns she explores, the accommodations she endures, the food and drink she consumes, the weather she endures, the bugs — all of it. Her writing pulled me from one page to the next, from one chapter to the next, and from one country to the next. I so look forward to her next book.

–Amazon reviewer

What a pleasure to read a book by a literate and intelligent author writing on a topic that I knew little about. This account of a lawyer skilled in finance and government who lends her expertise to countries establishing themselves as democracies on the international stage was a clear-eyed story of risk and rewards.

I was impressed with the author’s ability to handle complex legal issues in countries without a background in Western law. It was fascinating to read about the challenges she faced in Kabul, Kosovo, Rwanda and Ukraine and how gracefully she handled them. Some of the difficulties were as a result of culture clash, some due to poverty and some came from facing corruption. Her descriptions were entertaining but not at the expense of her associates and never just to provide a few laughs. Wherever she went, she was open to new experiences and was always guided by high moral principals inculcated by her parents… I loved everything about this book but I was especially touched by how she kept her enthusiasm, her love for her country and her contribution in making the world a better place.

–Amazon Reviewer


Happy publication day to Jamie Bowman, author of Bike Riding in Kabul: The Global Adventures of a Foreign Aid Practitioner.

Getting roughed up by Islamic fundamentalists, the weekly “feline sex-fest” in Kyiv, bribing Russian police to avoid jail in Moscow, sheltering under the sink (with the lizards) when the ammo dump exploded in Juba, automatic weapons training in Indiana, and that ill-fated morning bike ride in Kabul. It was a great job!

Bike Riding in Kabul follows the professional and personal adventures of international legal consultant Jamie Bowman, an attorney from California, as she endeavors to update the laws of Kosovo, Ukraine, Bangladesh, Moscow, Southern Sudan, Rwanda, and Afghanistan.

As seen through Ms. Bowman’s good humor and unique perspective, Bike Riding in Kabul moves with effortless charm through a fascinating array of personalities and events. It is full of exotic locations, difficult work challenges, strong female role models, and quirky characters, and explores a wide range of themes, including the important role of reform, endemic corruption, post-Cold War sentiments, and how other countries view the United States. Throughout the book, Jamie is supported by an Argentine boyfriend who helps her make sense of the crazy situations she finds herself in.

Fast-paced, funny, occasionally heartbreaking, but always wholly original, Bike Riding in Kabul captures the challenges of an American working overseas and is a story of finding the strength necessary to do the right thing, even when the consequences may be personally damaging.

Bike Riding in Kabul is available worldwide at Amazon (currently the #1 new release in foreign and international law!) and all major retailers as a paperback and e-book. (We recommend ordering it from your favorite local bookstore!)


“Bowman thoughtfully recounts her experiences in Afghanistan, Ukraine, and Bangladesh, among others, furnishing perceptive commentary on the various cultures and histories of these nations ravaged by war and impoverishment. She writes with great lucidity and a breezy, anecdotal charm and harbors no idealistic pretensions about the work she does, however important… A splendid and intelligent recollection of an eventful law career.” 
—Kirkus reviews 

“In Bike Riding in KabulJamie Bowman takes the reader on an even wilder ride where only the bravest travelers would venture. From an explosive assignment in turbulent South Sudan to a narrow escape from an anti-American mob in Bangladesh, to life in a shipping container in terrorist-plagued Kabul with an irrepressible Argentinian boyfriend, her global odyssey is a page turner that lays bare the real life of a resolute and resourceful foreign aid practitioner.” 
—Olivia Ward, East-West News Service 

“…Bike Riding in Kabul is a thing apart. It is a beautifully written account of a lawyer’s determination to provide authentic, quality advice to fledgling democracies grappling with legal frameworks in post-conflict settings. The book is one part history and one part development—its stories told with large doses humor and personal reflection. 

Bike Riding in Kabul enjoys high scores for its nuanced presentation of large pol- icy issues, but just as importantly for its precise depiction of all the little musings that make up an aid advisor’s experience. Cringy colleagues, neglected locals, and misgivings about the brash assumptions of a superpower all feature in the book. It now belongs on my special shelf, the one reserved forbooks that really plumb the depths of memoir while surfacing the larger issues of international policy.” 

—Kimberley Wilson, Sr. Lecturer, International Business and Human Security, The Fletcher School, Tufts University 

“Bike Riding in Kabul…is a unique take on the travel memoir genre… Unlike many [other] travel memoirs, there is a heavy focus on helping others through the author’s travels instead of personal enlightenment. Of course, there were enlightening moments for Bowman as she learns about the world outside of the United States, but that wasn’t the focal point. It was a nice change and made me feel like I wasn’t reading the same stories from memoirs past. 

Bike Riding in Kabul by Jamie Bowman was a delightful read…that I highly recommend. If you’re looking for a unique travel memoir or just a profound story, then this is a book you must pick up. 

—Thomas Anderson, Editor In Chief, Literary Titan 

Jamie Bowman’s Bike Riding in Kabul is the story of an intrepid, courageous, and endlessly adventurous Western rule of law advisor. She contributes her unrelenting best in confusing and often dangerous settings to support strengthening or rebuilding societies edging themselves away from political earthquakes, war, and conflict.

Bowman, unlike the odd author who tries to describe this kind of work with technical descriptions, introduces us to the complexity of her work and how to succeed in navigating the world of both inspired and cynical consultants, international agencies, and the endless cast of heroes and villains in the countries she has served. In doing so, she lays her own life bare and reveals in compel- ling vignettes how her patience, resilience, empathy, and respect for the people she is really there to serve help to overcome her misgivings, to push for what is right and to preserve her optimism.

This is a wholly human story with many les- sons for those interested in what happens on the front lines of the development and post-conflict work our countries sponsor, as well as for those of us directly involved in the same kind of efforts. A book that has been a long time in coming. 

—William (Bill) Loris, Founder and Executive Director Emeritus, Rule of Law for Development Program, Loyola University Chicago School of Law; Co-Founder and former Director General, International Development Law Organization, Rome


Cover reveal! In Herschel’s Wake by Michael Wohl will be released worldwide on 10/04/22.

Like father like son… Like it or not!

HERSCHEL WOHL WAS MANY THINGS: twice-divorced astrologer, pharmacology professor, failed novelist, on-the-lam drug-runner, manual typewriter thief, Aikido white belt, possible communist, and temporary resident of the little-known island of Statia. He was also a father.

When Herschel dies unexpectedly just before his 71st birthday, his adult son Michael has to travel four thousand miles and overcome four decades of filial resentment to pick up Herschel’s pieces. Along the way Michael must reconnect with a forgotten half-brother, reconcile with an overeducated, underachieving sister, and reckon with his ambivalence about religion.

With no modern funerary services available on the tiny island, the three estranged siblings are left to bury their enigmatic patriarch by themselves, and by hand. As one day stretches into three and they wonder if they’ll ever get the bastard in the ground, they are forced to confront their complicated relationships, not only with their charismatic but irresponsible father, but also—and perhaps more importantly—with each other.

In Herschel’s Wake is a darkly funny examination of faith, funerals, family, and f*cked up fathers, but most of all, it’s about forgiveness.

Book Release: DARKWATER

Happy publication day to Michael J. Sholtes, author of Darkwater: A Pastor’s Memoir of Depression and Faith.

There is a voice in Michael’s head.

A voice that tells him he is worthless and unlovable. The voice masquerades as his own, wreaking havoc on his friendships and romantic relationships. It keeps him from pursuing his calling—a career as a pastor. It tears his life apart piece by piece, leading him to attempt suicide on more than one occasion. The voice almost defeats him, and yet there is another, more powerful voice—the still, small voice of God always whispering to him, “I love you.”

This is the true story of Michael’s journey from a precocious child in a small town to the spiritual leader of a faith community, and how he slowly and fitfully learns how to listen to the better angels within. Told with brutal honesty and insight into his own mental condition, this is a story of friendship, depression, despair, faith, and a God who refuses to let go.

Darkwater is available worldwide at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all major retailers as a paperback and e-book. (We recommend ordering it from your favorite local bookstore!)

Praise for Darkwater

“Take a risk and walk alongside Michael as he struggles with devastating self-messages, as he climbs a tree with a noose in his hand and gathers courage to become vulnerable again and again. It is estimated that in the United States, two thirds of all cases of depression are undiagnosed. Michael and all those with the courage to tell their stories are beginning to reduce this number.”

—Deacon Terry Lieb, National Board-Certified Counselor, Licensed PA Mental Health Counselor, Retired Executive Director, Diakon Family Life Services

“Pastor Scholtes has captured the voice of depression, a major mental disorder, through the richness of his metaphors, poetry, and personal narra-tive—a narrative that took courage to write. Anyone who wants to under-stand what depression is like needs to read this book, including pastors and laypersons alike. Through his journey, which is clearly rooted in a deep spiritual struggle, he tells us several crucial things about the illness. First, the negative impact of stigma. He captures elegantly how stigma, the fear of letting others know, compounds the illness leading to isolation. Second, the importance of support. The last thing someone needs is to be abandoned, to fend for oneself. Family, friends, the church family all have an important role in healing. Third, the importance of treatment. Treatment, which does not always “cure” completely, provides an important pathway for hope, a way to manage the dark voices of depression. Finally, even devout religious persons are not immune to mental disorders, and spiritual guidance can be an effective tool toward healing. I highly recommend this book.”

—Dennis E. Schell, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Psychology, The George Washington University

“Get ready. Darkwater is Michael Scholtes’ authentic, meticulous, and intimate account of his unrelenting confrontation with depression. We get to follow this confrontation from his childhood to middle-age. Michael pulls back the curtain so we see him—son of a minister, floundering adolescent, bright student, restless pastor—stripped of pretension… Darkwater is Michael’s attempt to be honest with the world, with God, and with those in his life. When you put the book down, what makes it a satisfying read is not a happy ending, but the realization that what makes Michael strong against the depression is that he lays claim to and has learned to value the humanity, the honesty, the stubbornness, the pain, the will to persevere, the guilt, and the love that always came his way. It’s clear: while it came at a price, the renewal of his life journey is real.”

—Rev. Dr. Samuel R. Zeiser, Bishop Emeritus, Northeastern PA Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

“Michael Scholtes has given us a gift through this poignant memoir of one pastor’s journey with depression. His writing is evocative, raw, creative, and poetic. If you suffer from depression, his story may give voice to your own struggles. If you want to understand what it looks like to live with depression, Scholtes has opened the door to his soul and invites you inside. Wading into Darkwater will reveal a depth of reflection, faith, and honesty that is rare and needed for those wanting to understand the inner world of mental illness.”

—Rev. Dr. Leah Schade, Assistant Professor of Preaching and Worship, Lexington Theological Seminary

Darkwater artfully captures the reality of an individual living with a mental illness.  Scholtes masterfully highlights the delicate balance that occurs at the intersection of his faith, mental health, and mental illness.  In a society where individuals battling mental illnesses are shunned and highly misunderstood, Scholtes shows great courage in sharing the true nature of his internal struggles. The book captured my curiosity and drew me in with the author’s relatable style and coming-of-age authenticity.  Entertaining and stimulating from cover to cover!”

—F. Dave Williams, licensed clinical social worker

About the Author

Reverend Michael J. Scholtes is an ordained minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He has served as pastor of several congregations in eastern Pennsylvania. Michael currently lives in the Lehigh Valley with his wife Heather and children Alex and Ben.

Out of Chaos

Elle Mott’s memoir, Out of Chaos is now available for purchase at retailers worldwide!

A harrowing true story of choices and consequences. As a teenager, Elle Mott descended into hopelessness. Her life as a criminal and a vagrant led her deeper into the darkness. Balancing multiple identities, the more secrets she kept, the more lies she needed. She sheds personas, rebelling against who she was and who she’s becoming, but thousands of hitchhiked miles can’t distance her from the crushing expectations of her great-grandmother’s legacy. Until she surrenders to herself, she will never find her way out of chaos.

Powerfully honest memoir…couched in clear, spare prose with well-crafted, believable dialogue… A broad range of readers will relate to…Mott’s sincere and deep reflection on complicated family and relationship dynamics. And they’ll surely be inspired by the effort she displayed to regain control of a life badly derailed.“–BlueInk Review

Grab your copy of Out of Chaos at a major retailer or find it at your favorite bookstore! Don’t forget to leave a review when you’re finished.

Interested in becoming a published author? We’ve developed a five-step plan that will guide you through the process. For a limited time, download a free copy of The Self-Publishing Handbook here.