The Self-Help Novel: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

Naomi at work on The Mission

Note: This month’s blog is being guest written by my husband, Larry, who is President of Your Finest Hour Leadership Programs. He was a career naval officer, private school administrator and teacher, and for the last seventeen years, a professional speaker and seminar leader. He specializes in topics involving leadership and innovation. He is best known for his painting keynote presentations in which he completes a large painting during his one-hour keynote. For more information, please see his website:

Today’s book market is saturated with hundreds of thousands of new books each year. Standing out from the pack and catching the reader’s attention, therefore, is a challenge for even the most established authors.

Naomi’s crime/suspense novel, The Witness (published by Dunham Books in August, 2012), uses four unique and innovative techniques to set it apart for the reader. First, instead of writing from the point of view of the investigator, police or private, she wrote from the victim’s point of view. Why? Because she had been a victim. She had been part of a mass exodus ahead of Hurricane Ivan in September, 2004, only to return to a damaged home. Almost one year later, Hurricane Katrina headed directly for her small town of Pascagoula, Mississippi, and rendered her home unlivable.

While evacuating from Ivan, Naomi fought the boredom of over nineteen hours behind the wheel by imagining a charming British detective mystery, which would become the skeleton of a story. Katrina took her home, her possessions, her support systems, and her way of life, and gave her the understanding of trauma which would become The Witness’ heart and soul.

Second, while most books chronicle the deterioration of the victim, Naomi used the trauma of violence to portray the shift from victim to survivor. In addition, since she wanted to be more than just a survivor of Hurricane Katrina, she wanted her protagonist to be more than just a survivor. The Witness illustrates her belief that healing is possible, even from devastating events. Progress may be difficult and non-linear, but victory can indeed be the result.

Third, Naomi defied current publishing conventions in The Witness. To emphasize the estrangement of the American protagonist in a country that allegedly spoke the same language and to give added depth to the British characters, she used British English (including spelling and expressions) for the British characters and American English for the Americans. Other novels use the language of the country where the novel was published, regardless of the nationality of the characters.

George Bernard Shaw was therefore correct when he observed, “England and America are two countries separated by a common language.” Look for “realise/recognise” for “realize/recognize” and “colour/honour/neighbour” for “color/honor/neighbor,” as well as others. In addition, British English sometimes omits or uses fewer or different prepositions, and their past tenses may be unlike ours: “in hospital” for “in the hospital,” “different to” for “different than” and “learnt” for “learned.”

The fourth innovation Naomi applied in The Witness makes the novel truly unique. In fact, I would consider it the pioneer novel in a new genre of books, the self-help novel. While The Witness deals with the trauma of violence, people who have been traumatized by natural disasters, domestic violence, serious accidents, and even terrorism will recognize not just the symptoms and realistic portrayal of trauma but also the steps needed to effect recovery. Trauma has a long life; families and friends of trauma victims who read The Witness will also come away with a better understanding of the forces that affect and shape their loved ones. Although not a substitute for professional counseling, The Witness can give a reader an understanding of the path to healing.

Looking for a unique, compelling read? The Witness will use the victim’s point of view, the author’s belief in healing, and character-appropriate vocabulary to keep you turning pages and leave you wanting more. Naomi’s book entertains, educates, and inspires.

Want to read the novel that will set a new trend? Walk with Naomi’s protagonist as she moves from victim to survivor – a huge shift in the balance of power but still two sides of the same coin – to a victory over trauma that will make you want to cheer. The self-help novel: a refreshing idea whose time has come.

BTW: autographed and personalized copies of The Witness are available directly from the author at $15.95 + shipping. Query the author at:

Here’s what a reader has recently written on about The Witness:

Gripping Legal and Psychological Drama

By Martha M. on June 30, 2014

This book was a surprise find. I am usually bored by legal dramas, but this was fascinating. There was old-fashioned suspense – would the bad guy be arrested, convicted, etc. – that is more or less standard. But the psychological suspense and drama was absolutely gripping. The story of a woman recovering from severe trauma was neither romanticized nor sensationalized. Instead the author gave us a realistic and compassionate account that draws the reader in. This is a multidimensional view that engaged the brain as well as the emotions and gave me insight into the difficultly of recovering from trauma. We also see into the minds and hearts of those who are helping her, which makes the reader feel like a part of the team that surrounds the main character.

I was also fascinated by the portrayal of the British legal system. Clearly the author has done her homework and gives us enough detail to enable us to understand what is happening and why it would seem so strange to an American, without overwhelming us with so much detail that we get lost! (I’ve had that complaint about other books.)

This is the first of a trilogy. I can only hope that the next book will be quickly forthcoming! I want more of these characters.

You will probably not have heard of Naomi Kryske before reading this novel. But once you do, you will want more as well.

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