Allen Long's Praying for Restraint Blog Tour, Author Interview, and Giveaway!

Monday, May 17, 2021

We are excited to be back with Allen Long and announce the blog tour of his latest memoir, Praying for Restraint. Join us as we interview the author, highlight upcoming spots on the blog tour, and give away a copy of his book. 

First, here is a little bit about Praying for Restraint:

Allen Long works as a CNA-certified nursing assistant at that supposed sanctuary of caring, an inner-city general hospital. What an unforgettable parade of bizarre, needy, abusive, menacing, endearing, and poignant humanity passes through its doors. And those are just the staff and administrators! Meanwhile, the patient population spans the affluent and sophisticated to the homeless, the mentally ill, addicts, gang members, and criminals in custody. Praying for Restraint takes the reader on a journey into the absurd and surreal that is ultimately uplifting and harrowing, both funny and heartbreaking. Long's struggle to survive a relentlessly toxic work environment with body, soul, and marriage intact is as gripping as the battle against childhood abuse in his previous memoir, Less than Human. Reviewers found that book "inspiring, honest, and beautifully written, engaging, and thought-provoking." Praying for Restraint earns that praise and more.

Publisher: Legacy Book Press LLC (April 2021)
Genre: Medical Memoir
Pages: 168 pages
ISBN-10 : 1734798661
ISBN-13 : 978-1734798661


Praying for Restraint 
is now available to purchase on Amazon in both paperback and as a Kindle book, at Barnes & Noble, and your local independent bookstore at Bookshop.org

About the Author, Allen Long

Here’s how I became a writer. When I was a child in Arlington, Virginia, as soon as I understood what stories were, I began telling them to anyone who would listen. As a fifth-grader, I was recruited by the Storytellers, a small group of supervised fifth- and sixth-graders who told stories once a month to kids in the first, second, and third grades.

When I reached sixth grade, my teacher allowed me to skip all of my English assignments in exchange for me writing her a short story each week. In seventh grade, one of my stories placed second in an English class competition.


One of my favorite memories from childhood is telling my younger brother, David, a made-up story every night during the summers we slept in twin beds in our cool basement.

Storytelling seems to have been hardwired into my DNA.
I earned a BA in Communications/Journalism from Virginia Tech. While I was there, I took every creative writing class offered and wrote a story that placed second at a regional literary festival sponsored by nearby Hollins University. During my student days, I also worked half-time for two years as a reporter for The Roanoke Times.

After I graduated, I accepted a scholarship to earn an MA in English/fiction writing from Hollins University, where I wrote the first half of a novel. I then received a second scholarship and a teaching assistant position to pursue an MFA in fiction writing at the University of Arizona.

Shortly after I graduated, I published a story called “Second Honeymoon” in Concho River Review. After that, I decided to continue my writing education by working with master editor Tom Jenks. When Tom was a senior editor at Scribner’s, he completed Ernest Hemingway’s unfinished novel, The Garden of Eden, which became a bestseller.

I published two more stories, and then I decided to change gears and write a memoir called “Soul Breach” about the high level of illegal and unethical behavior I’d witnessed while working in the management consulting field. The story was published, and my good friend and editor, Kit McIlroy, told me it was the best piece I’d ever written, and he encouraged me to write more nonfiction.

I followed his advice and wrote and published magazine-length memoirs about the happiest, most intriguing, and worst moments in my life. These combined pieces became my first book, Less than Human: A Memoir (Black Rose Writing, 2016).

After that, I published memoirs on a wide variety of subjects, including two about my work as an assistant nurse in a poorly managed inner-city hospital populated by challenging patients, including violent mentally ill ones who often were not sedated or restrained.

“Keep writing about that hospital, and you’ve got your next book,” Kit said. I followed his advice, eventually producing my second book, Praying for Restraint: Frequent Flying with an Inner-City Hospital CNA (Legacy Book Press, 2021).

dolphin

One final comment—I’ve loved visiting zoos and aquariums my whole life, and I’ve raised box turtles, swum with sea turtles, and gone on multiple dolphin- and whale-watching expeditions. Therefore, you may notice that quite a bit of wildlife has crept into my writing. At last count, I spied lions, tigers, giraffes, eland, monkeys, chimps, elephants, alligators, caimans, box turtles, sea turtles, bottlenose dolphins, and humpback whales. Have I missed any?

You can discover more about Allen and his work on his website: http://allenlongauthor.com/

---  Interview by Crystal Otto

WOW: Thank you for writing this touching memoir - and a special thanks for returning to WOW to help promote your work! It's always fun to work with a returning author and like an old friend; it's great to see you again.

I know what my takeaways were, but what are the top two take-aways you'd hoped readers would find in reading Praying for Restraint?

Allen: One of my main goals was to provide readers with an inside view of how a poorly run inner-city hospital operates. For example, despite paying lip service, upper management did not care about patient and staff safety. In one case, management loosened a safety policy that immediately caused a patient to fall and break her neck. There was also a policy in place that prevented virtually all violent psych patients from being sedated or restrained. As a result, these patients roamed the halls and assaulted patients, their visitors, and staff. I personally was attacked about a dozen and a half times. 

And when I was first hired, a manager instructed me never to report these assaults. Management didn’t care—it appeared to be solely focused on financial issues. After one manager refused for two years to meet with his unhappy staff, they peacefully marched on his office and requested a meeting. The manager called the police and had the group dispersed. Finally, there were managers and nurses who verbally mistreated staff as well as a few nurses who verbally or physically abused patients. I view my book as a piercing scream for hospital reform.

Secondly, I believe readers will enjoy reading a triumphant story about an everyman type of guy who survives a toxic work environment that threatens his body, soul, and marriage.

WOW: Thanks so much for that insight. It is quite remarkable that you survived such an ordeal with your wits about you and your marriage intact! This is such a personal story - tell us about your writing process for this book?

Allen: After I’d worked at the hospital for a year, I wrote a memoir about my experiences and published it in a literary magazine. About six months later, I did the same thing. By that time, I realized I was collecting valuable material almost every day. After that, I wrote the book as a diary in the present tense until I finished it. I wrote and edited six drafts. At some point, I realized the book would work better in the past tense. The hardest thing about writing the book was changing the seemingly zillion present tense sentences into past tense ones.

WOW: Sounds like the process was therapeutic (although maybe a bit tedious). So glad you kept at it until you had it just right! Now, did you have any fears about how Praying for Restraint might be received?

Allen: My only fear is that some readers may not believe that the events portrayed in the book actually happened. Some months after I’d finished the book and resigned from the hospital, I was proofreading the book and found myself thinking that some of the episodes were hard for me to believe, even though I knew they were true. By the way, I enjoyed Tara Westover’s memoir, Educated, and I felt badly for her when some reviewers claimed the events in the book couldn’t possibly be true.


WOW: My advice to you about this particular fear is simply that not everyone is going to be able to wrap their head around the events in Praying for Restraint. I imagine someone who lovingly placed a relative into this type of environment might want to think "this really wouldn't happen at hospital xyz" and this has nothing to do with the integrity of your book and much more to do with self preservation for the non believer. It's really not about you at that point.


That said, let's move on to something a little lighter: Where do you write? What does your space look like?

Allen: I write in an upstairs spare bedroom that doubles as my study. My desk is a former dining room table that holds my computer, pens, and writing pads for notes. My three guitars rest on the bed behind me, and my Chinese box turtle, Flash, who's been my writing companion for 29 years, keeps me company from his corner aquarium. I like to write when I’m alone in the house or when my wife is deeply engaged in a major cooking project downstairs.


WOW: Well, as a foodie, those cooking projects sound distracting...and I'm glad you didn't mention anything particularly delicious or I would have gained 5 lbs just thinking about it. As I'm trying to put the thoughts of your wife's cooking out of my mind, let's move on to some writerly advice. What advice would you give to beginning memoir writers?

Allen: The key thing is to tell the truth about everything, including your own mistakes and faults. If you spend the book on the defensive, trying to make yourself look perfect, the book will lack authenticity, which the reader will notice and dislike right away. In my career as a nursing assistant, I’ve only made one serious mistake, and I included it in the book. This helps my character to appear human, especially when the reader sees his regret. In case you’re worried, no one came to any harm.


WOW: That is fantastic advice worth repeating:

"If you spend the book on the defensive, trying to make yourself look perfect, the book will lack authenticity."

Thank you for saying that out loud - thinking about memoirs I've read, authenticity seems to be the key. I enjoy reading about flawed humans (like myself).


Who is your support - what have you found to be most supportive in your writing life as well as in life in general?


Allen: First and foremost, the answer is family and friends. I’m very close to my mother, my brother, my wife, and our children. We share our lives with one another and provide support. Also, I have a great set of friends, which includes a childhood friend, a former employee, a swimming buddy, a fellow golden retriever owner, and a former MFA classmate, who has read and edited virtually everything I’ve ever written—he correctly pointed out that my primary talent lies in memoir writing. Also, a psychiatrist and a therapist helped me get through my high-stress stint at Malmed Memorial Hospital (fictitious name). And, finally, I need to give credit to my dog, Ruby, for her unconditional love. These are my resources for writing and life in general.

WOW: That's encouraging in today's world where relationships seem to be difficult. It's fabulous to hear you have such an extensive list of supporters!


What advice would you give to others when it comes to self-care for authors?


Allen: Get plenty of exercise (I love to swim), read a lot, watch movies and high-quality television, spend time in nature, spend time doing nothing, spend time with other creative pursuits (I play guitar), try to eat right and not drink too much, spend time with friends and family, and get plenty of sleep. It also helps to be in a great relationship and to own an affectionate dog. In addition, sometimes a cheeseburger and a coke are nourishing to the soul. And nurture your spiritual life, whatever it may be.


WOW: That's great advice - when I do occasionally splurge on that cheeseburger, I hear my father's age old advice about everything in moderation. A treat is fine once in a while. So, I know you aren't the idle type, so tell us: What’s next for you? What are your writing goals for the remainder of 2021 and beyond?

Allen: I have no idea. I wrote my first memoir, Less than Human, a wide variety of magazine-length memoirs, and Praying for Restraint all in one giant, inspired rush. I feel quiet inside now. I’m just going to relax and enjoy my life. At some point, it’s likely I will have a memory or an experience associated with a strong emotion that will inspire me to write again.

WOW: Your honesty and advice is greatly appreciated and I'm sure it won't be long before you're inspired once again! Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to visit with us today and thank you for trusting WOW to help with promoting Praying for Restraint

--- Blog Tour Schedule

May 17th @ WOW! Women on Writing
Join us today as we celebrate the launch of Allen Long's second memoir Praying for Restraint. Read an interview with the author and enter to win a copy for yourself. 

May 18th @ Bring on Lemons with Crystal Otto
Join readers at Bring on Lemons as Crystal Otto shares her thoughts after reading the insightful memoir Praying for Restraint by Allen Long. 

May 20th @ Book Santa Fe with Art Tucker
Avid reader Art Tucker shares his thoughts with readers at Book Santa Fe. Find out what Art thought about the latest memoir written by Allen Long titled Praying for Restraint.

May 23rd @ Madeline Sharples
Fellow memoirist Madeline Sharples shares her thoughts after reading Allen Long's latest memoir Praying for Restraint. Readers won't want to miss Madeline's review. 

May 23rd @ Kathleen Pooler
Kathleen Pooler reviews Praying for Restraint by Allen Long. Find out what one memoir author has to say about the memoir of another author! Don't miss this valuable insight! 

May 24th @ Bring on Lemons with Michelle DelPonte
Healthcare worker and Wisconsin mother, Michelle DelPonte shares her thoughts after reading Allen Long's memoir Praying for Restraint. 

May 25th @ World of My Imagination
Nicole Pyles offers her thoughts in an insightful review of Allen Long's medical memoir titled Praying for Restraint. Join readers at World of My Imagination as they learn more about this inspiring memoir and it's author. 

May 26th @ Linda Appleman Shapiro
Memoirist, Artist, and Psychotherapist Linda Appleman Shapiro offers some deep thoughts in her review of Allen Long's latest memoir Praying for Restraint. Join readers at Linda's blog today to learn more! 

May 27th @ Bring on Lemons with Cathy Hansen
Wisconsin educator and small business owner Cathy Hansen shares her insightful review of Allen Long's Praying for Restraint. Don't miss this opportunity to learn more about this memoir!


*****BOOK GIVEAWAY*****

Enter to win a copy of Praying for Restraint by filling out the Rafflecopter form below. The giveaway ends on May 23rd at 11:59pm CT. We will announce the winner the next day in the widget and follow up via email. Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

5 comments:

Crystal Otto said...

I absolutely loved this book as well as the opportunity to hear some behind the scenes info during the interview! Looking forward to the tour and reading other people's thoughts!

Thanks to Alan for choosing WOW!

Angela said...

Great interview! :)

Allen ~ Congratulations on your second memoir! It sounds like an eye opener, and I've personally heard and witnessed some horror stories about care facilities, so I'm interested to see what unfolds in your book.

On a craft note, I debate writing in the present tense vs the past tense all the time, and have been in the position of having to change all the tenses in memoir chapters. It's challenging! I'm curious what made you choose one over the other?

I also enjoyed Educated, and I think there will always be reviewers who think events aren't true, and there are also reviewers who tend to judge the person rather than the story, which is unfortunate. So I admire anyone brave enough to dig deep and share their personal truths.

Good luck on your tour!

Allen Long said...

Crystal—Thanks for the great blog tour kick-off!

Allen Long said...

Angela--Master editor Tom Jenks taught me to always put narratives into the past tense, unless there is an overriding reason to use present tense to achieve a specific effect. A lot of young writers use present tense when they would be better served with past tense.

Patsy said...

Sounds like an interesting book!Great interview :)

Powered by Blogger.
Back to Top