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Monday, February 16, 2015


Myrna J. Smith Launches her blog tour for God and Other Men: Religion, Romance, and the Search for Self-Love

& giveaway contest!

Have you ever been so focused on attaining a goal, and doing what's expected of you, that you lost sight of yourself in the process?

On the February night her husband left, Myrna Smith felt the old demons of abandonment stir her soul. In God and Other Men, she takes us on an earnest but circuitous walk toward enlightenment, from adventures at a Japanese kendo and with Indian saints to a backwoods medium and a new lover. Eventually, she glimpses the holy grail of self-acceptance but not at all in a way she expected.

“Never has Myrna J. Smith accepted trite or dubious solutions to her soul’s deepest yearnings. The result is a lifetime of tested and practiced wisdom, culled from all the great philosophical traditions of the world and the hard-won lessons of her own heart. This book tells the whole tale in language that never veers from the elegant.”

—Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia

Paperback: 240 pages
Genre: Spiritual Memoir
Publisher: Cape House Books (October 23, 2014)
ISBN-13: 978-1939129048

God and Other Men is available in paperback at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, CreateSpace, and Indie Bound. An e-book will be available soon.

Book Giveaway Contest:
To win a copy of God and Other Men: Religion, Romance, and the Search for Self-Love, please enter using the Rafflecopter form at the bottom of this post. The giveaway contest closes this Friday, Feb. 20 at 12:00 AM EST. We will announce the winner the same day in the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!

About the Author:

Myrna J. Smith held a faculty position in the English Department at Raritan Valley Community College, Somerville, N.J., from 1970-2004, where she took leave for two and a half years to serve as Associate Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning housed at Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J. She received a Ed.D. from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey in New Brunswick, N.J. Smith also had two Mid-Career Fellowships to attend Princeton University, one in English and one in religion. Smith, who was 74 years old when she published her memoir, now resides in Frenchtown, N.J, a small town on the Delaware River.


Cape House Books:

-----Interview by Renee Roberson

WOW: Myrna, congratulations on the publication of God and Other Men: Religion, Romance, and the Search for Self-Love. How did you first get the idea to write this book in particular? Is writing a memoir something that’s always been on your bucket list?

Myrna:  When I was finishing my doctoral work, I wrote, “I want to be a writer,” on a piece of paper and put it in my desk drawer. Raising three children and teaching full time in a community college, where freshman composition made up most of my assignment, took up most of my time, but I wrote short pieces, sometimes for a class assignment and sometimes on current events. I was not successful in getting these published, although the New York Times accepted a piece for the Op-Ed Page, but the first Gulf War, in which my son participated, ended quickly, and the editors decided my piece was no longer relevant. That experience showed me that I could successfully use my own experience to make a point.

For three years I had an administrative job—freeing me from the burden of reading student essays—so I wrote, publishing academic articles and chapters in books. When I retired, I wanted to keep writing. My first idea was to write about my spiritual teachers because I have had some unusual experiences with people who had extraordinary powers. The problem for me: how could I make these teachers come alive; how could I weave their stories together.

It came to me that I could write about my experiences with these teachers in a more readable form: a narrative of my own life.

WOW: Cape House Books published God and Other Men. Lorraine Ash, one of the founders of Cape House, recently toured with us for her own memoir, Self and Soul. How did you get connected with Ash and make the decision to work with Cape House’s collaborative publishing model?

Myrna: After I returned from my fourth trip to India, I accepted a part-time teaching job at a Waldorf Middle School. Just before school started I received an e-mail from someone I didn’t know advertising Lorraine Ash’s weekend workshop on writing spiritual memoirs. It was a gift from the gods. In the description she described the arc of a spiritual memoir as moving psychically from a bad place to a better one.

Even before I attended the weekend class, I had the book outlined in my head and written a chapter on Satya Sai Baba, the late, great Indian saint, which I read to the group. Often during the two years I taught, I shared my writing stories with my eighth-grade students.

For a couple of years I attended the Lehigh Valley Writers’ Group and listened to publishing stories, including the advantages of self-publishing. I was not convinced because I had seen some poorly edited self-published books. Cape House’s model of collaborative publishing sounded the most appealing to me, both of us having skin in this highly competitive game of book publishing.

WOW: What prompted you to begin your spiritual journey, which eventually led to four different trips to India?

Myrna: When my former husband and I divorced, the question of the meaning of life came crashing down around me. He and I had spent our lives, since age 15, working towards material success. Through most of college and graduate school we studied together every night, being sure to begin by seven p.m. Although we went out on the weekends, we kept our eyes on our prize: success in a traditional sense. When he moved out, I had to face that our value system had not led to the happy life we had envisioned. The spiritual lives of many of my family members suddenly became more attractive. Maybe they had answers that I had rejected in my drive for success and recognition.

But where should I look? To my Christian mother, my new age father, or to the books passed down from my great grandmother to my grandmother. Meeting Ravi Dutta, an Indian colleague at the college where I taught, led me to that first trip to India, which ignited the embers set by my family members into a full-fledged spiritual search.

WOW: Have you always enjoyed international travel or is this something that came about later in life?

Myrna: When I was growing up, our family only traveled to see relatives. I always wanted to see something new and had a great curiosity about different places. When my former husband was completing his doctoral work in Animal Nutrition, we talked about his getting a job in a foreign country as an USAID consultant. Although that was my dream, I don’t think it was ever his.

The first summer our children went to stay with him in Oregon, I went to Ecuador on an archeological dig. The next year I spent a month in Mexico, studying Spanish in Cuernavaca. On both of those trips I had places to stay before I left, but the following year I went to Ireland for three weeks by myself without a plan. I asked people on the plane at Shannon whether I should go north or south. Some one said, “Go to Dingle,” so I did and had a grand time. That gave me enough nerve to go to India the following summer with only the few definite plans that my Indian colleague and spiritual friend Ravi had helped me formulate.

I have continued to travel, but now that I am retired, I can go in the winter as well as the summer. In fact, I just returned from a five-week trip to Myanmar, Hong Kong, and Vietnam.

WOW: You’ve talked about how your parents provided you with so many different religious paths to follow that it became difficult to choose just one. Can you share a little more about that with us?

Myrna:  My father and grandmother spoke frequently about universal salvation, an idea that appealed to me at a young age. By age twelve I could not accept a God that would create us and then throw some into hell. Had my mother been able to take us to a church more in line with her own Christian beliefs, rather than the fundamentalist Sunday school near our house, I might not have rejected Christianity. Certainly the teachings of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount and many of the parables appealed to me.

In college and graduate school the transcendental writers, particularly Emerson and Thoreau, engaged me, especially their idea of the Oversoul. However, the existential writers, particularly Camus and Sartre, counteracted that and turned me briefly, much to my parents’ horror, an atheist.

What drove me, as I look back on it, was a search for a truth that made sense to me for the lives of all people of all time, not just those in the modern Caucasian world, a curiosity I shared with my father and grandmother.

WOW: You’ve mentioned how important the text A Course in Miracles, which is described as “a self-study spiritual thought system,” is to you. How did you first come across it and how has it changed your life?

Myrna: One summer after my divorce I went to Edgar Cayce’s home base in Virginia Beach for a seminar on Finding Your Soul’s Purpose. My father, who had talked so much about Edgar Cayce all of his adult life, wished he could go. I went partly to tell him what it was like and partly as a step in my own spiritual search. Several people there talked about A Course in Miracles (ACIM) as being important for spiritual seekers. I believe it was that fall Ravi gave me copies of all three of the initial publication, noting that it sounded too much like the Bible for him.

I tried to read it on my own, but it was too difficult. A month after my partner Charlie died, I began taking classes at the Open Center in New York and later to Roscoe, New York, where the late Dr. Kenneth Wapnack, the most famous teacher of ACIM, had a center.

By the time I came to ACIM I had already studied both Hinduism and Buddhism, and had come to believe the later had “the truth.” The language of ACIM is Christian, narrated by Jesus, through a channel. The thought system it presents is close to Buddhism, but is theistic, an important asset for me.

ACIM’s process for forgiveness, different from how it is ordinarily understood, as well as its guide for relationships, have changed my life significantly.

WOW: Do you also enjoy reading memoirs? What are a few of your favorites?

Myrna: Memoirs that lead to a transformed state appeal the most to me, as does good writing. Who could resist Bill Bryson’s The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid or The Liars’ Club by Mary Karr, both of whom have magic in their words. But Karr’s later ones particularly Lit left me wanting: I find stories of drunk or drugged states, not just boring, but self-indulgent. The second half of Noah Levine’s Dharma Punx about his becoming a Buddhist teacher I enjoyed, but I had to skip at least 100 early pages because of stories of inebriation. Also it seems to me that some memoirs could stand a good editing. I would say that of Andre Agassi’s enjoyable Agassi as well as Levine’s book.

WOW: I’m intrigued by the description of your next project, regarding the healing power of sound, as described in your author bio. Can you share any more details about that?

Myrna: My next project is evolving. What I am most interested in is how religious experiences transform their practitioners into exalted states, be it in prayer, meditation, whirling, dancing, or sounds, such as chanting, music or chimes. In my own exploration I found that the bells the Zen Buddhists use send vibrations through me. In our local Zen Center one teacher uses Tibetan healing bowls that I find powerful. I still occasionally go to a protestant service just to hear those old hymns. At my Unity Spiritual Center I attended a class in the didgeridoo, which the teacher uses to enter a deep meditative states.

However, in further studies I found that the aboriginal culture does not allow women to play the didgeridoo, something I find off putting. I am hoping to attend an aboriginal festival in 2016 to see how they move into the dream state, whether is it through the use of sound and dancing or other methods.

As I studied, I found sound to be such a huge field that I am still searching for my own niche.

----------Blog Tour Dates

Monday, Feb. 16 @ The Muffin
Stop by for an interview and book giveaway!

Wednesday, Feb. 18 @ Giving Voice to Your Story
Visit author Dorit Sasson's blog to read Myrna J. Smith's guest post on the importance of pre-writing.

Thursday, Feb. 19 @ Women's Writing Circle
Read about how teaching literature helped author Myrna Smith's own writing in this guest post at Women's Writing Circle.

Friday, Feb 20 @ Words from the Heart
Myrna Smith shares the experience of being in the presence of love. Zdenko Arsenijvevic could heal and perceive unseen color, but his best aspect was the love that emanated from him to his students and clients.

Tuesday, Feb. 24 @ Create Write Now
Myrna J. Smith shares a post on the personal lives of great spiritual teachers at Create Write Now.

Wednesday, Feb. 25 @ Renee's Pages
Check out Renee's review of God and Other Men.

Monday, March 2 @ Writing Room 101
Melissa Barker-Simpson interviews Myrna J. Smith about the writing process and more at Writing Room 101.

Wednesday, March 4 @ Sophia Rising Yoga
Read Monette Chilson's review of God and Other Men.

Thursday, March 5 @ Memoir Writer's Journey
Author Myrna Smith guest posts on "Living the Partnered or Single Life" at Memoir Writer's Journey.

Friday, March 6 @ Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews
Stop by to learn more about Myrna J. Smith and her memoir God and Other Men.

Tuesday, March 10 @ All Things Audry
Myrna J. Smith shares her experience writing from the mature point of view in this guest post at All Things Audry.

Wednesday, March 11 @ Lisa Buske
Myrna Smith explains how reading spiritual texts and stories has influenced her writing.

Friday, March 13 @ Choices
Gain insight on other memoirs that spoke to author Myrna J. Smith in this guest post at Choices.

We have a few more dates left in Myrna’s tour, so if you'd like to join us contact Renee (

Keep up with blog stops and giveaways in real time by following us on Twitter @WOWBlogTour.

Get Involved! If you have a website or blog and would like to host one of our touring authors or schedule a tour of your own, please email us at


Enter to win a copy of God and Other Men: Religion, Romance, and the Search for Self-Love by Myrna J. Smith! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. We will announce the winner in the Rafflecopter widget this Friday, Feb. 20!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Blogger Angela said...

Thanks for the inspiring interview, ladies! Myrna, you have such a fascinating life. I hope to do as much traveling as you, but for now I'll just have to live vicariously through your spiritual journeys in your book. ;) Good luck on your next project, too! I have a friend who works as music therapist and find the practice intriguing.

2:14 PM  
Blogger that's a thought said...

I would love to win this book. I have been wanting to read it.

4:59 PM  

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