Center For Brain Mental Health Service

In my review of Center For Brain Mental Health Service on Facebook, I posted:

I’m incredibly grateful to have discovered the Center for Brain, thanks to conducting internet research on PTSD in an effort to help someone I love. That led to Ted and I attending an informative seminar, where we met the wonderful Michael Cohen and his amazing staff. At that point, I felt skeptical and hopeless about our chances of restoring my fiance, whose PTSD stemmed from early childhood trauma (abuse) and military service. But after listening to Mike’s presentation, chatting with him afterwards, and seeing the remarkable changes in my guy after a few sessions, I’m a believer.

Everyone at the Center for Brain cares deeply about their patients — as evidenced by the welcoming atmosphere and the pride they take in their work. I cannot thank Michael and his staff enough for all that they have done for both of us. I am thankful to have discovered neurofeedback and the Center for Brain and highly recommend them to anyone suffering from PTSD and their caretakers.

I’m looking forward to experiencing neurofeedback myself for better creativity and productivity in my work and business. In the meantime, a heartfelt thank you to everyone there for helping someone I love dearly to reclaim his life. You are THE BEST!

Michael Cohen, Director.

In my review of The Body Keeps The Score: Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma, I mentioned someone had recommended the book to me. That person was Michael Cohen of The Center For Brain the evening we attended his free, informational seminar in Jupiter Florida. After his presentation, I told Mike a bit about Ted’s background of horrific child abuse and his combat experiences in the Navy. That’s when Mike recommended Dr. Bessel van der Kolk’s book and assured me that neurofeedback would work, along with the caveat that it might be a longer term process, given Ted’s history. Thankfully, Ted remained open to the help and started treatments shortly thereafter. And I went on to order the book at my earliest opportunity. You can read my book review here.

As noted in my Center for Brain review, I cannot recommend them highly enough — especially for people coping with PTSD and those who love and care for them. Without going into detail, it hasn’t been a straight line to transformation since he and I got back together – a la Water Signs – but I can now fully understand the real-life significance of the word “renewal” in the subtitle, because this is has truly been “a story of love and renewal.” I’ve developed more patience and compassion (definitely a good thing!) as I’ve learned what love truly means.

Once I complete some major projects currently in production, I plan to write a nonfiction sequel to Water Signs, which I hope will be helpful for everyone affected by PTSD. Aside from Center For Brain and recovery coach Don Prince (who has been an incredible source of support), the book will also include the spiritual aspect of Ted’s healing journey, thanks to Ima Sumac Watkins and DC Love, whose insights helped me more than I can ever express.

If you live in Florida –  or even outside of the state but are willing to travel to gain relief from a multitude of mental/brain issues, check out Center For And discover for yourself that renewal and healing are truly possible, even for the worst cases of trauma.



10 Literary Techniques Used in Water Signs: A Story of Love and Renewal

10 Literary Techniques Used In Water Signs: A Story of Love and Renewal

As I’ve written about extensively, I employed several literary techniques in my first novel Water Signs, all of which combined, helped to draw readers deeper into the story and sympathize with the main characters. I believe a good fictional book should mesmerize the reader to such an extent that he/she loses all concept of time and place as they are whisked away on a mental vacation where the only thing that matters is what’s going to happen next.

In my loosely autobiographical story, here are the ten techniques that made it possible for me to add vibrancy and authenticity to the settings and characters:

1. Flashback – Throughout the book, I used short-term and long-term flashback as a way of building suspense and understanding a character’s motivation. This technique also allowed me to slowly share information with the reader in a future chapter by not divulging everything that transpires in a previous chapter. For example, in one emotionally tinged episode, Maddy and Ken peruse a photo album from his days in the US Navy, but it’s not until the next chapter that the story of his former fiancee is revealed to the reader — though he shares that with Maddy as they look at the photos.

2. Juxtaposition – As a reader, this has always been one of my favorite devices and I put it to use most often in the first half of my book, to help draw contrasts between characters and to create more intrigue. The best example of this occurs in Chapter One, when readers first meet Maddy and Ken as individuals, before the characters themselves meet each other unexpectedly (for them at least) at the Key West Club.

3. Italics – In Water Signs, I used italics to denote the sharp contrast between what a character says and what they are truly thinking and feeling. This is especially true of heroine Madeline, whose personal development includes learning how to effectively express her feelings, since her inability to do so in the beginning of the story contributes to much miscommunication and heartache for her and the novel’s hero Ken.

4. Music – Because my story spans 16 years in the lives of its characters and makes use of flashback, I employed musical references to help anchor the reader to the present moment in any given chapter. Thus in 1992 – the year the story begins — I reference popular songs and artists including The One by Elton John and Just Another Day by Jon Secada.

One another level, I selected certain songs not so much for their ability to connect the reader to the year at hand, but to allude to the characters’ origins. The best example of this is the reference to Then Came You by the famous Philadelphia band, The Spinners.

5. Sports – Growing up in the Philadelphia area in a family of sports fanatics, professional sports was a huge part of my life. Throughout the novel, the characters discuss many real-life events including the Philadelphia Eagles defeating the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Championship Game in 1981 and the Philadelphia Phillies beating the Kansas City Royals to win the World Series in 1980. Pro football is a shared passion of Madeline and Ken, and one of the many things lacking in the relationship/marriage he eventually shares with Erin. Similarly, Dr. Rose’s (based on my own dad) love of baseball and the Phillies helps to bring his character to life.

6. Technology – The progression of technology from 1992-2008 also helps anchor readers to the time-frame of the unfolding plot. So in 1992, unwieldy car phones are the latest rage, but by 1995, Maddy notes how phone booths will soon become extinct, having relocated to South Florida and observed their nearly ubiquitous presence (along with the now-defunct pagers). By the end of the book, she’s working for a company that provides e-proposals to the hospitality industry. Look for Madeline to expand her use of technology to include internet radio hosting in my forthcoming sequel.

7. Food – Of all the techniques I used, food was probably the most fun possibly because the Philly area is famous for its excellent culinary traditions. Whether it’s tomato pie, spaghetti with mussels or Italian wedding cookies, I employed food descriptors to evoke the ambiance of the geographical locations in which the plot plays out. Look for an e-book soon on The Food of Water Signs.

8. Branding – Another method of creating a palpable appreciation for the Philly area, South Jersey Shore and South Florida in my novel is the use of brands. From Tastykake and Turkey Hill to Wawa and Herr’s, readers get an appreciation for what’s most popular in the geographic regions from which the plot unfolds.

9. Water Imagery – Perhaps one of the most important techniques of all, water imagery is at the heart of the novel — and not simply as a means of paying homage to the title. Water in religious and spiritual traditions is a symbol of rebirth and renewal, and thus underscores one of the book’s most important themes.

It is also a symbol of the emotions, which play a significant role in character development, particularly for Maddy. She suffers for years with panic and anxiety disorder — a gross distortion of the emotions that negatively impacts the physical body — without actually knowing what it is — until she reads the packaging for the medication prescribed by her doctor. Prior to her unusual cure by a psychic, the only time she finds relief from her sometimes frightening symptoms is when she’s immersed in water, whether swimming in a pool, riding a wave in the ocean or standing under the pulsating refreshment of a hot shower.

Ken, although not a co-sufferer with this affliction, often heads to the beach or to the Deerfield Beach Fishing Pier when life seems overwhelming. In Part Two, when rocked by Maddy’s unexpected arrival in Florida — blissfully unaware of his engagement to another woman — the pier is his destination of choice when he seeks his mother’s counsel in person.

On a basic level, the coastal locations of the story, the characters’ shared Pisces sign and Ken’s US Navy service contribute to Water Signs’ “escapist” quality, conjuring up images of beach-inspired beauty, majestic ocean waves, colorful fish swimming beneath the sea’s surface and American heroes serving their country on awe-inspiring aircraft carriers.

10. Dreams/Journals – As a lifelong keeper of journals many of which I employed to fill in details of the plot, I cannot stress enough the importance of writing down your thoughts and recording your dreams (the latter I’d often do in an attempt to decipher whatever message my psyche was trying to convey while I slept). Not only did my own journals play a critical role in fleshing out the plot, so did actual dreams.

In one very heartbreaking chapter, Maddy dreams that Ken has arrived on her doorstep to announce he’s broken off his engagement to Erin because he’s still in love with her. It’s so real to her that when the alarm clock goes off, she cannot determine whether it actually happened or if it was just a product of her imagination. And a few days later, Ken really does unexpectedly knock on her door, though the conversation does not play out quite the same way in reality. This is all taken directly from real-life experience.

So there you have it, my Top Ten Favorite Literary Techniques. As a professional writer, what are yours?  Let me know in the comments….and happy writing!

Preview and purchase Water Signs: A Story of Love and Renewal on Amazon.