Tell us about your next release.
I’m coauthoring a book about the life of Eloise Morgan Milne. She’s a trailblazer—and with good reason. Milne is a cousin of Daniel Boone, the pioneer, explorer, and frontiersman who became one of our most beloved folk heroes. She also hails from Col. Morgan Morgan’s family, the first white settler in West Virginia.
If “Big Red”, as her children fondly call her, had lived in State College, Penn., instead of Preston County, W.Va., Jerry Sandusky wouldn’t have had a chance. That’s because the work of this petite dynamo set a precedent that could be used as a roadmap by any school.
Milne worked as director of social services and attendance at the Preston County Board of Education, earning the title “champion of children” by her admiring colleagues. Circuit Judge Robert Halbritter had another name for her: He called Milne “my best bird dog.” That’s because she sniffed out child sex abuse and then went after the abusers with every inch of her five-foot-tall frame, packing a pistol along the way. Eloise Morgan Milne spent her life being a champion for the rights of others.
Has someone helped or mentored you in your writing career?
Yes, Linda Miller Benson was my editor at The Preston County Journal, my first newspaper job. At conferences where I speak these days, I often tell the audience about her. She saw something in me that could be nurtured. Linda taught me how to do my best in a field that’s both challenging and intensely gratifying. She gave me a weekly newspaper column, and a chance to speak out. Her belief in me allowed me to believe in myself—and it changed my life.
At what point in your life did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
I can’t remember a time when I wanted to be anything else. When I was eight, I had a weekly Grit newspaper route. I delivered about 50 papers a week and my favorite part of that job was stretching out on my bed afterward. I loved reading the serial installment in each issue, and couldn’t wait to see what happened the following week. That’s when I knew I wanted to be a writer.
Entice us, what future projects are you considering?
People have been asking for the sequel to Sister of Silence, tentatively entitled To Shatter the Silence. It’s a type of love story, and I hope it will surprise my readers. I’m also trying to finish up Lethal Silence, a nonfiction book that looks at several families where children died due to violence in the home.
What do you find most rewarding about writing?
I enjoy touching people’s hearts and seeing them respond emotionally. It’s very gratifying to know when I’ve affected their lives for the better—or made them see something in a new way.
What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
I have my private pilot’s license, and grew up in and around airplanes because my father was a flight instructor.
Is there one passage in your book that you feel gets to the heart of your book and would encourage people to read it? If so, can you share it?
Still in my nightgown, I sank onto the couch, and watched as the room went fuzzy. The tears were right behind my eyes, trying to get out. I wanted to stop them, tried to ignore the utter despair I felt, and to hide my pain from my children. But slowly the tears escaped, forming little trails down my cheeks. Then another fear occurred, a fear of scaring the daughters who played in a corner, oblivious to everything but each other.
I rose and stumbled into the bathroom and out of their sight, turning the lock behind me. Unseeing, I reached for the spigot and heard the water splash against the tub. Somewhere in a coherent corner of my mind, I hoped it would drown out my pain. Sinking slowly down the wall to the cold vinyl floor, I began sobbing, feeling nothing but the pain. Quietly at first, until I managed to lift my arm and pull a towel down from the shower rod, burying my face in it. Sobs wracked my body, and I heard a guttural cry like a wild animal come from somewhere deep within me. With the raw sound came freedom from days, months and years of silent anguish as the bottled-up feelings that had waited for so long to explode flowed freely down my cheeks.
I knew what I had to do. I was going to take my children, get into my car and drive over a cliff. I knew just where to do it and I watched it happen in my mind . . .
Daleen Berry is the executive director of Samantha's Sanctuary, a 501(c)3 charity that was created to help educate and empower abused women and children. Berry has been an award-winning journalist for more than 20 years, and has reported on many cases of child sex abuse and interpersonal violence. She's the award-winning author of Sister of Silence, which is being used in several colleges and universities, including Johns Hopkins. Most recently, she received the 2012 Pearl Buck Writing for Social Change award. She currently freelances, and her work has appeared in The Daily Beast, XOJane, and The Huffington Post.
After a shotgun wedding, the author found herself barefoot and pregnant—and the mother of four babies by age twenty-one. Follow along on Daleen’s personal journey from coal miner’s wife to teen mom to award-winning journalist, determined to break the silence that shatters women and children's lives.
A riveting true story, this memoir demonstrates the astonishing resilience of the human spirit. Kenneth V. Lanning, a retired FBI special supervisory agent who spent more than twenty years teaching about family violence at Quantico, Va., wrote the foreword for Sister of Silence. He says it's "ultimately a story of survival and hope." Dr. Jacquelyn Campbell, a Johns Hopkins University nursing professor and one of the country's leading family violence researchers, calls Sister of Silence "wonderful!" Campbell was the first professor to place the book on her syllabus.
SOS is being taught at the University of Louisville; Dr. Jean Shimosaki, LCSW, MSW, a Bay Area therapist, is using it with her patients, as it provides “a step-by-step guide for healing.” SOS took first-place in the Appalachian category at the West Virginia Writers’ Competition, and was banned at Livermore High School in California and removed from library shelves as “Banned Book Week 2011” began. It has been featured at “Hope For the Future: Ending Domestic Violence In Families,” hosted by the AIA (UC Berkeley), on The Bob Edwards Show (Sirius XM Radio), and on In A Word, a literary show produced by TV30.
The author is a California native who grew up in Preston and Berkeley counties in West Virginia, and went to work at The Preston County Journal. Among her many awards was one in 1990, when she won a first-place award for investigative journalism. In 1997, she worked for The Dominion Post, covering welfare reform. Among her awards are two second-place honors for her 2007 weekly columns in the Cumberland Times-News, one of which was born from SOS. Berry’s articles about Lashanda Armstrong, the mother who drove her van into the Hudson River in 2011, killing herself and three of her four children, appeared online at The Daily Beast.
This is what a few people are saying about this book and this author: “Almost never is an interview subject so open or so candid about the most intimate details of the most horrible moments of her life. Daleen is a very brave women and I hope her story will help other girls and women . . . Daleen you are a magnificent storyteller.” —Bob Edwards (Author of Voice in the Box: My Life in Radio)
“In Sister of Silence, author Daleen Berry gently guides us through the dark corridors of her life, so that we can emerge in the light, as she has courageously done, with a sense of hope, authenticity and courage. Sister of Silence is a brave book, written from the heart. It’s a must read for the brave-hearted.” —Asra Q. Nomani (Author of Standing Alone: An American Woman’s Struggle for the Soul of Islam)
“Sister of Silence is authentic, compelling and necessary.” —Richard Currey (Author of Fatal Light)
“For marketing purposes, nothing better can happen to a book than having it banned. A banned book is a sure sign that you’ve done something very right.” —Lee Maynard (Author of Crum)
“A dramatic memoir told in a matter-of-fact, yet strikingly compelling, manner.” —Appalachian Heritage (Summer 2011 Issue)
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Giveaway ends April 6th.