Watch JOURNEY TO FORGIVENESS, a four-minute video overview of my memoir NO LETTER IN YOUR POCKET. It reveals SoulCollage(R) cards I created as part of my healing process.
Credits not included in the video:
Photography & SoulCollage®: Heather Conn; Frank McElroy; Conn family
Music: Audio Network: Grow 2 (Jesse Walton); Cloud Gazing 3 (Keith Beauvais/Brendan Power)
Thanks: Heather’s winter 2023 Port Moody, BC Creative Writing class; Annie Huston
“SoulCollage® is grateful to the artists and photographers who make this process possible. SoulCollage® seeks to be respectful of their rights under copyright law.”
Published by Guernica Editions, Toronto, ON, Canada
Incest denial and sexual assaults disrupt a young woman’s solo spiritual quest and her two romantic adventures in India in 1990-91. Two decades later, after profound healing, she’s resilient at mid-life. Finding the love and intimacy she craves, she can, at last, forgive her dying father—and her mom, for her decades of silence.
This powerful adventure tale and survivor’s story strives to help inspire others to work through their anger and rage and find compassion and forgiveness.
“We are still oriented to labeling abusers as evil monsters. Culturally, we don’t try to understand their behavior or where the roots of it come from. I don’t want to let abusers off the hook but by automatically jumping into an us-versus-them stance, we can miss the opportunity to seek understanding and to see the woundedness that needs healing in someone else. This goes back to a perspective of Oneness or inter-being, seeing people as interconnected, as defined by the late Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, rather than coming from a distancing stance of judgment and hatred.”
This is an excerpt from my interview in the U.S. publication Persephone’s Daughters with editor Meggie Royer. We discuss the #MeToo movement, toxic masculinity, forgiveness and more. You can read the whole interview here.
A FEW REVIEWS:
Read Goodreads reviews
Read Coast Reporter review: “Story of family abuse a roadmap for trauma survivors”
Read The Miramichi Reader review
Read an interview with me and Roxanne Davies, author of Blue Riviera: A Daughter’s Investigation. Bill Arnott, a best-selling author from Vancouver Island, BC, speaks to both of us about our books, which delve into a family secret involving a parent.
Sylvia Fraser, author of My Father’s House: A Memoir of Incest and of Healing (1987, Doubleday Canada), says:
“Since publishing my 1987 memoir about incest, I have been asked to comment on many manuscripts on child sexual abuse. No Letter in Your Pocket is among the best of the best. Heather Conn combines depth of research with her own courageous story of father-daughter incest, including the recovery of lost memories, the confrontation of her abuser, and the healing of her own wounded self through compassion and forgiveness of others. I recommend her beautifully written memoir unreservedly, not only for other abuse victims, but also for any reader interested in a compelling story.”
Best-selling author Dr. Bernie Siegel, who wrote the book’s Afterword, says:
“When I started reading Heather’s moving account of her journey through hell and what she learned from it, I couldn’t stop. . . The pages are filled with her pain and the courage she had to feel her experiences, change who she was, and stop leading a double life. . .We can all benefit by reading about, and learning from, her experience.”
Diana Hume George, Professor Emerita, English and Women’s Studies, Penn State University, and faculty member in Creative Nonfiction at Goucher College in Baltimore, MD, says:
“I’ll give this book to every survivor I know who struggles to transcend such pain without the lifelong self-consumption that occurs when people who should thrive instead rest in the stranglehold of victimization. Conn is a superb writer, and No Letter in Your Pocket makes of her a healer whose medium and medicine are language.
“I worked with her [Heather Conn] on her MFA thesis in creative nonfiction at Goucher, where her memoir was justly regarded as remarkable. Her subjects included spiritual quest, compassionate contemplation, recovery from trauma, gender issues, the values and uses of travel in cultures deeply unfamiliar to oneself. Her thesis turned into a rich, thick, deeply textured book…I think of it as the kind that Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love probably yearned to be.”
Editor Erin Parker (erintheeditor.com) says:
“You’ve done an amazing, brave thing here…I was struck by your talent for turning painful experiences that defy language into beautifully written scenes that recreate and, with the help of your meticulous research and thoughtful analysis, contextualize each step on your long journey toward healing and forgiveness. You paint a scene so vibrantly, shaping the raw, delicate material of memory into something solid.
“The Preface captivates me every time I read it; as you watch your father’s body being moved onto a gurney, wander around his house and survey his belongings, and attend his funeral, you so poignantly grapple with your complex feelings about him.
“This is a book that’s not afraid to explore the nuances of the difficult subject of incest, and we get an early introduction to your unflinching, yet also empathetic perspective in this preface…You’ve done a brilliant job…[It] will help other people who have suffered, either directly or indirectly, from similar experiences.”
No Letter in Your Pocket includes descriptions of 13 family photos across the decades and their significance to the author.
Family photo #10
“My dad at age five or six stands on a wagon. He holds its long handle in both hands, dressed in a white sailor’s suit with white ankle socks, and open, strapped shoes. His straight bangs look brushed across, conveying obedience and order. As if viewing the photographer’s unseen waving hand, he glances off-camera. Watch the birdie. Embodying a life still unfurled, he offers only the faint suggestion of a smile, a hint of curiosity.
“An acquaintance, a psychotherapist and incest survivor who works with victims of sexual abuse, has said of abusers: “Think of them as three-year-old children. That helps.” I think of all adults, including me, as frustrated five-year-olds, scrambling to get their emotional needs met in a myriad of ways.”
Family photo #13:
“I am four days old, wrapped in a fuzzy blanket in the hospital. Under a complete head of hair, with one eye scrunched half-closed, I stare at the camera, my tiny hands folded together under my chin. My expression seems to say: I don’t know about this place. Do I really want to be here? The final addition to a family, I am a wary new bundle, ready for love. But are they ready for me, ready for this rough pebble in their quiet stream?“
“While my father was dying, SoulCollage® became a refuge. After creating a card to represent him, I shared it with my parents. Its images included my dad as a boy and a statue of a lascivious-looking, bare-chested male clutching a younger female. The card silently told my father: ‘I know who you are and what you did, yet, I recognize the pure child in you and the love that we have otherwise shared.’ With my dad in mind, I also created a forgiveness and compassion card, respectively. Viewing them daily helped reinforce my desire to share more of these qualities each day.”
Note: I love helping people find a voice for their pain and am available one-on-one as a writing coach. To find out more, see the Writing Coaching section of this website .
ONLINE BOOK SALES
No Letter in Your Pocket is available for purchase, in hard copy and Kindle Edition, on numerous international sites. Here are the main ones:
Order from publisher Guernica Editions
Order from Amazon in Canada
Order from Amazon in the U.S.
Order from Barnes & Noble
Please ask for it at your favourite bookstores.
Dear friends and customers who have bought or ordered copies of No Letter in Your Pocket,
Thank you so much for your support. If you enjoy and appreciate the book, I would love it if you added a review to Amazon, Indigo, or Goodreads. This can be just a single line: “Great read. I really enjoyed this.” This simple act achieves three important things for an author:
— It keeps a book in stock and in circulation longer;
— It amplifies the book’s visibility;
— and it reaches new potential readers.
I can’t stress enough how helpful this is for authors, particularly those published with small presses like mine, who typically don’t have budgets for publicists. The following small acts can have a huge impact on the reach and readership of any book:
— sharing photos of the book cover and/or the author with the book;
— giving an author’s book a high rating on Goodreads, Amazon or Indigo;
— ordering the book to your local library;
— sharing the author’s readings and events or website with links to their work.
Doing this for any book you love will help all the writers in your life. Thank you.