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‘Looking for love’

Linden author writes book about hopelessness, abuse

Growing up can be hard. Local author, Bob Schweppenheiser, of Linden and formerly of Watsontown, is a published co-author with Larisa Sainz-Yaksie of “Looking for Love,” a story of a teenage girl in the search for love who struggles with abuse, bullying and hopelessness.

The main character, Danielle, “struggles with constant, incessant mental and physical abuse, and bullying — both at home and at school,” Schweppenheiser said. Danielle’s character, story and journey is inspired by real events and a real person. Danielle is on the search for love — one “she has never known” — as in her homelife she doesn’t even get a hug from her parents.

“In keeping with ‘love’ — the overriding theme of Valentine’s Day, ‘Looking for Love’ is also a beautiful, captivating, heart-warming love story,” he said. “It is not only about Danielle’s struggle to deal with abuse and bullying… It morphs into a truly remarkable and unexpected love story — with an ending that gives hope to all of those who live in hopelessness.”

The book is geared towards teenage girls but the authors are finding that the story speaks to everyone, he said. Daily and past experiences in one’s life allows them to connect with Danielle’s story as most have had events, experiences that changed their lives forever.

“I want readers, especially those who have been abused and bullied or are experiencing abuse and bullying, to know that they are not alone and that help is available,” Schweppenheiser said.

Co-authoring

Sainz-Yaksie and Schweppenheiser met in Williamsport and the authors have known one another for two and a half years, he said.

“Larisa is the inspiration for the book and her desire, as is mine, is to offer hope … to people who have suffered abuse,” Schweppenheiser said.

Due to the nature of the topic, bullying and abuse, at times the book was hard to write because Schweppenheiser was reliving the memories of abuse and bullying that Danielle experienced.

Always wanting to be a writer, Schweppenheiser found the time in his retirement to dedicate to his long-term passion. His co-author, Sainz-Yaksie, helped Schweppenheiser stick to a daily writing schedule and emphasized the importance of writing when they “were in a flow,” taking a mental break and not forcing the process, he said. The co-authors also set themselves deadlines for chapters and when they wished to have the book finished.

“Having written before, I learned to not force the writing and to go with the flow as the long as the flow lasted — minutes or an hour or many hours,” Schweppenheiser said.

Support writers

For writers looking to get started, Schweppenheiser recommends “just start putting thoughts and ideas on paper,” he said. “Take the process a step at a time. Don’t write your book all at once. Write about something you … are passionate about. Have a message that you want to convey to readers.”

The James V. Brown Library, 19 E. Fourth St., will be carrying and circulating Schweppenheiser and Yaksie’s book “Looking for Love,” he said.

“It’s important to support local authors and share their stories, and the library is a natural fit for helping new authors get the word out,” said Dana Brigandi, marketing and adult programming manager at the James V. Brown Library. “Libraries offer local authors a reach they can’t get anywhere else. When there are more than 4,500 books published every day, it’s important to support up-and-coming authors along with the current bestsellers. The best way to keep a book on the shelf is to check it out and read it — word of mouth advertising is still the best way for people to share what books they love.”

Human services

Schweppenheiser grew up in Watsontown and graduated from Warrior Run High School. He received a degree in psychology from Bloomsburg State College, now Bloomsburg University, in 1975. Schweppenheiser has since retired and worked for over 40 years in human services throughout Lycoming County with non-profit organizations such as North Central Sight Services, STEP, Inc., and the Learning Center.

“Human services has given me first-hand insight into human behavior and how emotionally fragile people can be, especially children. I grew up hearing ‘Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me.’ The truth could not be more polar opposite. When you are called stupid, or ugly, or some derogatory name, it can adversely affect you not only in the moment, but for the rest of your life. It can irreparably damage your self-esteem — which dictates what you do or don’t do in life,” he said.

Community resources

“‘Looking for Love’ was written with the main purpose of opening eyes of society about the ongoing, never-ending problem of bullying and abuse, and to give hope to the victims,” Schweppenheiser said.

Schweppenheiser recommends talking to someone whether that be your parent, a friend or school guidance counselor.

As for parents who’s children are experiencing bullying it’s important to pay close attention and note “mood swings or behavioral changes… and be open to listening in a non-judgmental manner and to encourage as much conversational interaction as possible.”

For those experiencing abuse and bullying, community resources are available, such as the YWCA. A common misconception about the YWCA is that they only serve women, said Samantha Kern, communications and marketing coordinator at the Northcentral PA YWCA.

“Wise Options helps both men and women with abuse. We also provide prevention education (bullying), legal advocacy if it comes to that and we help the victims with a variety of resources,” Kern said.

Wise Options has a 24/7 crisis hotline, 1-800-326-8483, which is “a confidential hotline and it can be called for anything, even if someone just has questions about abuse, bullying or if they want more information on our programs,” Kern added.

“There are places where victims can seek support and counseling,” Schweppenheiser added.

Other resources include:

• The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of North Central PA holds a support group for mental health on the second Tuesday of each month at 6:30 p.m., Robert M. Sides Music Center, 201 Mulberry St., Williamsport.

• To call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or visit https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is “24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources,” according to the website.

• A Lycoming County Crisis helpline is also available 24/7 at 570-326-7895 or 1-800-525-7938.

• The Crisis Text Line also serves anyone, in any type of crisis, providing access to free, 24/7 support and information via text from a trained volunteer, just text HOME to 741741.

• PA 211 helps those in the community connect with local resources when they don’t know where to begin their search. You can call 211 or text your zip code to 898-211, according to the website, www.uwp.org/programs/2-1-1/.

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