I have been told by many who write professionally, and was given the best advice I have ever received as a writer, “Always Remember to Write About What You KNOW”……

On a cold and rainy Oregon morning in late January 2011, I poured a cup of hot coffee, picked up the days local newspaper, and began to read a headline that said, “Woman Found Dead In Casino Hotel Room.” All I could do was stare at the word “DEAD” as my stomach turned. It was about a woman found dead at a large Indian Casino 40 miles North of my home. And yes, I have shared a little bit of this story before. But it is always still a “shock” to me when I get asked, How did I become a writer? I right away think back to this woman in the newspaper article. She seems like a part of me now. Like a ghost from my past life with a horrible gambling addiction.

I then went to the internet to Google her name and see who this woman was. But it didn’t say much, only that she was a resident of the same little town where the casino was located. And the police were still investigating, but they knew it was most likely suicide, as a note was left behind. As I was getting ready to log out of Google, a phrase caught my eye. It was a quote from *Maya Angelou*……….

Just after I read this quote, something inside me clicked. I was meant to see this quote. Just as the story of the woman who died. It was, I feel my “Higher Power,” (who is my GOD), pushing me to write what I had been through with all the terrible things that have happened in my life to then. I called my husband at work, and asked him to pick me up some more notebooks. I use them all the time as I journal everyday as part of my recovery. But this feeling was something way more calling upon my “HEART”……
It was like this need inside me wanted to see all the hurt, pain, and destruction that I had been through, and hurt I caused in my life and others around me. A strong need to see it on paper in Black & White!

I then went into my closet that had a box of all my journaling, papers from my two gambling treatment programs, and materials I had been given in Gamblers Anonymous.
For the next nine months I started to write. All this “Stuff” came pouring out of me, as I continued to write each day. These thoughts, feelings, and words were coming from out of my heart, soul, and mind. Just like snow falling from the sky onto my white lined sheets of paper. When I finished, I had three full notebooks, with incorporated, much of writings from my recovery journals into these notebooks as well. As I finished, I felt at peace with myself. I finally was feeling this real “SERENITY” in my recovery for the very first time.

The ever “elusive” peace and serenity I had heard MANY talk about in recovery meetings. Those blessed feelings of knowing, forgiveness, and understanding. No more triggers or urges to go escape with a few hours of gambling to make me feel better, or hide from some “Life” disappointments or my past trauma. Yes, I had finally arrived to that “Peaceful” place in my recovery. Then, the rest truly is “Devine Intervention” on how my book came to Life.


I received a call from an old friend one day, after a week or so of writing a “Letter To The Editor” to our little Oregon community newspaper. I can’t recall why, or the story that encourage me to write the letter. But my friend called to let me know it would be in that weeks paper. She has worked for our newspaper for over 10 years I’d found out, and did all the editing for these letters that came in. We got to talking, as we haven’t seen each other in years. I told her a little about what I’d been through in my life. I also told here about the story of the woman who committed suicide, that I seen that article in the paper months before. I then shared with her my feelings, and the urgent call for me to write everything I’d been through, and how I could relate to that woman’s story.

I couldn’t believe she actually ASKED me if she could read the notebooks! Only if I didn’t feel uncomfortable about her reading it. She was very interested about how our Oregon State Lottery was putting all these retail lottery shops around town, and felt that those of us in recovery were being overrun by all the video poker and slot style lottery machines. How it must make it difficult to stay in recovery, and not be tempted all the time. So I agreed. I dropped the notebooks off to her at the newspaper. After about four days, she called me again to ask if I ever thought of publishing a book? I laughed and told her NO!
I shared that I wouldn’t know the FIRST thing about HOW to get a book published.

She was attending night school at our community college, and she was in a writing class. She wanted to move up in the company, so she went back to school. She told me she had a test and final exam to take, as it was an “Editing” exam. She wanted to use MY notebooks and story as her “Final Exam project.” She also told me when she did the editing, that my writings would be put in a “Book Manuscript Form,” proofed and edited when she was done. I was like,…..WHAT? But I agreed, and told her to GO for it! Three weeks later she called to tell me she was done, that I NOW have a book manuscript, and she got an A+ on her project and final exam. WOW!

So I went by her work at the newspaper and picked up all my stuff. She gave me a piece of paper with a local guys name & phone number on it and encouraged me to call, as he was a local “Publisher and Children’s Author.” She had already called him to tell him a little about what she had done for me. She gave him a description of the type of book it could BE. BUT,…I was so scared to call him because I wasn’t sure I wanted all my “Dirty Little Secrets” out in the world. Or to be made fun of, or be judged by others. There was also some family dirt in there too,  and I was not sure I wanted others to know. I wasn’t really worried about what my family might say. You see, my Father and Two Sisters had not spoken to me since the passing of my mom in 2003. And that is a “Whole Other Blog Post” in its self.

So I sat on my manuscript for about a year. I thought about it, prayed about it, and thought some more about it. Then one day at Wal-mart, I ran into an old bank client of mine named Steve. I hadn’t seen him in years. We got to talking, and he happen to mention this friend of mine who worked for the newspaper. He was telling me about how his publishing company was branching out, and wanted to start publishing other types of books, not just kids books. He had published a few already. So I asked him if her name was Julie be chance? With the lords powers at be, it was! I told him she was talking about what she’d done for ME! One thing lead to another, and he read only the first 40 pages of my book manuscript,  then called to tell me,…..That “MY VOICE AND STORY NEEDED TO BE HEARD.”
That was Spring 2012. On November 23rd, 2012 and three days before my birthday, “Addicted To Dimes” (Confessions of a liar and a Cheat) was published on Amazon!!
By this time, I had been in recovery from addicted compulsive gambling, and a wee bit to many cocktails for over five years. And the ride has been beyond my “Wildest Dreams”!!Who says you can’t accomplish your dreams and goals in Recovery? Not me that’s for sure! I then received another blessing this past May 2013, as my book was released in eBook form on Amazon for Kindle Readers!
“AND THAT MY FRIENDS IS HOW IT’S DONE”!! As the LORD did the rest!

Don’t ever let anyone tell you in LIFE that you’re not good enough. Never in recovery should you give up! Nor give up on your dreams and goals. No matter how low you have gone in addiction, you can pull yourself out in recovery. We all have “POWER, ABILITY, and COURAGE” within ourselves to do, be, or have what ever we want in Recovery & Life!

YOUR recovery should never be an obstacle. If it is? Than you need to work a little harder in recovery to have  “Life & Recovery Balance with Harmony”……..
Yes, I do remember the very beginning of my recovery journey. I do remember sitting in my treatment group, and GA meetings thinking to myself, “Can I Do This? Can I really never place a bet or gamble again?” My answer to you is YES!  Yes you can. With a strong recovery foundation, good supportive people surrounding you, Yes you can do anything!
I have nothing to prove to anyone, anymore, except only to “MYSELF,” as Recovery allows me this Honor……..

Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon
yeah write weekly writing challenge #140 weekend moonshine grid – See more at:

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