Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Shape Of Mercy - Susan Meissner’s Blog Tour

The Shape of Mercy

Lauren Durough is a college student longing to break free of family expectations when she stumbles into a project for eighty year old Abigail Boyles—transcribing the journals of Mercy Hayworth, a seventeenth-century victim of the Massachusetts witch trials. Almost immediately, Lauren finds herself drawn to this girl who lived and died four centuries ago. The strength of her affinity with Mercy forces Lauren to take a startling new look at her own life, including her relationships with the mysterious Abigail, her college roommate, and a young man named Raul. But on the way to discovering the candid truth, Lauren must earnestly ask if she is playing the role of helpless defendant or the misguided judge? Can she break free from her own perceptions and recognize who she really is?

In our high-pressure, success-oriented culture, readers will identify with Lauren’s struggle to forge her own identity separate from the plan her family designed for her. Offering intrigue, romance, and heartbreaking drama, this contemporary novel with a historical twist conveys the intense beauty that emerges when we see how our stories affect the lives of others.


From early school-day projects to becoming editor of a local newspaper in Minnesota, Susan Meissner’s love for writing has been apparent her entire life. The Shape of Mercy is her latest novel in a string of books that delve into the deeper issues of life. She is the author of nine novels and lives with her family in San Diego , California . Find out more about her at

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Margaret Iuculano - My God Box

A special opening message from Margaret Iuculano:

I want to thank our Blog Host for taking the time to read My God Box a memoir about an abusive childhood but more importantly on how a mustard seed of faith in God turned around the life of a child. I feel blessed that you are willing to share the book on the Blog Tour Name. You are helping to create awareness about a topic that desperately needs to be addressed and has reached epidemic proportions - 500,000 children in the Foster Care System within the US.

Our country is in a crisis with an overloaded Foster Care System and children falling through the cracks daily and being put into homes to provide safety only to be left neglected again. How can we expect these children to become productive adults growing up in this environment? How can we teach these children how to have faith in God and then themselves to correct the wrongs being committed in their lives? How can we help Foster Parents to recognize the difference they can make in a life of a child and the importance of their role? And most importantly, how can we teach to break the Cycle of Abuse so we can shrink the numbers of children going into foster care in the future?

There's a truth I came to realize that changed my life and can change the lives of others. Have Faith in God - put your troubles into his hands and allow him to use you for the purpose you were born for. Once I started to follow this truth in my life I came out of despair to complete happiness and peace. I recognized my ability to help others and the importance of viewing each other as Gods children, people who possess a lot of value and have a mission just like I do for God.

When I began to see that God had a mission for my life, I started to embrace my challenges and learn from them without looking back. I was able to rid myself of the victim mentality and succeed where I was told I never would.

My prayer is that you see the message in My God Box and that it will inspire you to learn to overcome a traumatic experience and more importantly help someone else. I pray that you will agree that all it takes is a mustard seed of faith to realize your God Given potential.

God Bless You,
Margaret Iuculano

Tell us a little more about yourself.

I am a wife, mother, entrepreneur and children’s rights activist with an unwavering faith in God that has led, leads and will undoubtedly lead me to the successful outcome of all my projects.

What compelled you to write My God Box?

I feel I was blessed to have found God amid all the pain and misery I endured during my growing years. However, I also feel it’s time to give thanks and give back. I struggled for over two years with doubts and mixed feelings about setting my life in print, but whenever I took a step back, I was energized and encouraged by the awe-inspiring certainty that God wanted me to tell my story—for self-healing, but more importantly to open the minds and hearts of other suffering individuals to the mercy and goodness of God. God is hope. Without God there is no hope. Without hope there is no life.

Who is your target audience?

My God Box is addressed to anyone struggling to overcome the traumas and challenges of a dysfunctional or broken life. It is also for anyone associated with someone living in pain and misery. Furthermore, it is for anyone who wants to live a serene life in harmony with the wishes of their Creator. In other words it is for everyone who seeks happiness and fulfillment for themselves and/or others.

What are some of the stark realities surrounding Foster Care Programs?

The truth is that children are not ‘OK’ just because they have been removed from an abusive home and entrusted to a foster family. Although there are kind, nurturing people enrolled as foster parents, on the flip side there are individuals interested only in the monetary aspects of the program; individuals often just as, if not more dysfunctional, emotionally unstable and abusive than the child’s biological parents. This is one of the reasons why I wrote My God Box—to bring awareness to the plight of foster children—and to hopefully fix the shattered parts of a system in desperate need of repair.

How many kids in the U.S. are in foster care?

On any given day the statistics show over 500,000 children in the US in the foster care system. The number has reached an epidemic level which has burdened a system not built or equipped to handle the issues facing these children.

How long do they stay in foster care (on average)?

2.5 years is the average across the US - the federal government has asked the individual states to try and reach a permanency solution for these children within 9 months but unfortunately the system is not equipped to meet this goal.

Do they live with the same foster parents the entire time?

If they are lucky! I personally experienced over 15 different living environments and see the same movement between homes and shelters happening today.

You grew up in foster care - what was your experience like?

My experience was most of the foster parents were not equipped to handle a troubled child who needed help. I was in poverty struck homes as well as abusive homes within the foster care system and these are the homes I advocate against. Children removed from their abusive home environments should not be put into a system that is not providing them a better environment than the home they were removed from.

There are many wonderful foster parents who want to help children. But there are people who take in foster kids for the money - how can that be changed?

Not all but too many foster parents see their role as a job not wanting to get too attached to the child as it is a temporary situation thus making the child feel like a 2nd class citizen. The daily stipend a foster parent receives is not a lot of money but if you take in a few children it can be more than a welfare check.

Do you think there’s enough training for foster parents?

There is not an easy answer to this problem with continual budget cuts within the foster care system but there really can't ever be enough training to learn how to cope with a child who needs help. You can become a foster parent in many states with only a few days of training and a criminal background check. Foster parents need so much more to make them successful.

Is abuse a common problem in foster care?

It is too common and this is due to lack of resources and money to create a system that rewards foster parents based on outcomes versus number of children per day you take in. Local Department of Children and Families needs to be monitoring these children more effectively to eliminate the abuse taking place in these homes. It is not okay to have 1 child abused within the system and this issue needs to be addressed as a priority.

What are your long range goals?

My goal is to promote awareness of childhood abuse by using My God Box as a vehicle to become and advocate for children’s rights. I want to inform and encourage others to join with me to make a difference in the life of an innocent vulnerable child who needs to be protected and defended from society’s evils. I am planning speaking engagements/seminars which will help motivate people to start thinking about making changes in their lives and in the lives of others.

Thank you for allowing me to share my book and God’s mission for my life with you. If you would like to learn more about me and my mission please visit - and and know that 100% of the book proceeds goes to Angles for Foster Children. Please feel free to contact me at anytime.