The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

February 18, 2014

Book offers hope to those in turmoil

BY MARY WICOFF mwicoff@dancomnews.com
The Commercial-News

---- — WESTVILLE — To anyone who has suffered emotional turmoil, Sarah Cummings has some words of encouragement in her book, “From Within the Shadows.”

“Your dreams will come true. You just need to stick it out until the end,” the first-time author said. “I’ve been through my own struggles, so I know how it feels. I’ve been in a whirlwind of my own.”

But, she said, “At the end of the day, God’s grace makes it better.”

Cummings, 26, of Westville will sign copies of the book from 1-5 p.m. Saturday at Book World in the Village Mall.

She attended Westville High School and graduated from Danville Christian Academy in 2007. Her biggest supporters are her parents, Starla and Michael Cummings of Westville, and brother, Adam. She also has a 3-year-old daughter, Ellie.

“From Within the Shadows” is about a girl who endures years of verbal and physical abuse from her alcoholic mother. Eventually, she escapes and finds her estranged father, who helps her discover who she is. Along the roller-coaster journey, she becomes an empowered young woman with inner strength to overcome her problems.

The book has some dark parts, but they’re interspersed with the good, hopeful parts. For example, the book shows the mother’s struggles to raise a child while dealing with being a manic-depressive, but in the end, she has a redeeming moment.

“It’s a constant back and forth of dark and good,” Cummings said. “The dark parts make it relatable to people’s situations.”

Cummings is happy with the book’s cover — showing various emotions on a person’s face. “It depicts everything in my book,” she said. “It depicts all the main character’s emotions, that she’s being pulled in every direction.”

Starla Cummings, who has read the book several times, agreed, saying, “It’s a roller coaster of emotion. It’s very intense.”

The story draws the readers in, she said, and emotionally involves them in the characters’ lives.

The book’s message, Starla said, is: “Even though people are going through situations that are sad, there is hope. Accept yourself. Believe in yourself, no matter what others say. You’re still a wonderful person — don’t let anyone tell you any differently.”

She said she thinks people will enjoy the book, and she’s proud of her daughter for reaching her goal of publishing a book.

Cummings agreed that the point of her book is to give people hope. “I’ve always wanted to help people,” she said. “What better way than to put it into a story?”

The flawed parents in Cummings’ book definitely were not based on her own — who gave her and her brother a wonderful upbringing, she said. But other parts of the book reflect her own feelings of resentment when she broke up with her boyfriend and then the challenges of raising a child on her own.

Cummings said her book began on a dark, rainy day when she was sitting in a restaurant. She started to write down some thoughts, and the more she wrote, the longer it got.

“At the time when I wrote it, my own anger, bitterness, hatred, and rage were stirring within me. So many parts of my book are very dark, but they’re also very real,” she said. “So I turned them into characters that reflected the emotions I was going through at that point in my life. Each emotion resembles a certain character.”

It took her three months to write the story into a notebook, and then a month and a half to type it onto a computer.

Holding that book in her hands for the first time was a wonderful experience, she said, as she had reached her goal.

“It was my passion to write a book,” she said. “It was an amazing accomplishment and people around the world will get to read it.”

In fact, she intends to make writing a career, saying, “It will always bring joy to my life.”

Cummings, who attends the Christian Church in Homer, added, “I give God the credit for giving me the ability to write.”

She’s already half-way into her second book, which will be a sequel, and which goes deeper into the family’s secrets, lies and betrayals. That book should be published in mid-spring, she said.

She also thanked her parents for pushing her to achieve her goals and believing she could accomplish anything she wanted to.

The book is available through www.amazon.com, www.halopublishing.com and other online bookstores.

FYI Sarah Cummings will sign copies of her book, "From Within the Shadows," from 1-5 p.m. Saturday at Book World in the Village Mall. The paperback, published by Halo Publishing, costs $11.95. You may reach Cummings by e-mailing her at mystiqueart2@aol.com.