Author event Saturday at Olivet in Alpena
ALPENA – Two Christian authors who are passionate about helping children and teens will be signing books on Saturday at Olivet Book & Gift in downtown Alpena.
The event will run from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and feature northern Michigan authors Kurt J. Kolka and Alison Neihardt.
Kurt J. Kolka
Kolka is a Grayling artist and author. He has been sketching cartoons and writing for 30 years.
“He has spent 30 years in the newspaper field, including several years at the Gaylord Herald Times, where he won two state journalism awards,” a press release explained.
He recently published two books, “Awed By God,” and “Afraid We Are Not.”
“Awed By God” is a collection of stories he wrote as a religion writer for the Gaylord Herald Times and other newspapers, he said.
“It’s a collection of stories about how people’s lives have been touched by God, in unique ways,” Kolka said, adding that many of the people come from different backgrounds.
The book features interviews with people from Leelanau to Alpena, as well as interviews with some Christian celebrities.
“It was wonderful to interview them and hear their stories,”Kolka added.
His second book is a novel called “Afraid We Are Not.”
“Based on some of his own experiences, Kolka takes readers inside the mind of a teen who has been bullied for 10 years,” the press release stated. “As he struggles to keep going, a local pastor comes beside him to help the boy see beyond the name-calling and abuse he has endured to finally face his abusers.”
“I get really into the teenager’s mind, to show what’s going on, to show what types of things are really upsetting him,” Kolka said. “In that way, I think we can help the parents understand what they’re going through, and how hurtful it is.”
“Afraid We Are Not” is recommended for ages 13 and up. Kolka said both teens and adults reading the book recommend it.
“It’s partly based on my life growing up in northern Michigan,” Kolka said. “And being bullied for, like, 10-plus years.”
Kolka, a licensed minister, runs an anti-bullying ministry in Grayling called Between The Pines Ministries.
“I think kids, especially, need to know that other people have gone through what they are going through,” Kolka said.
He said verbal bullying is especially prevalent among teens, and he wanted to address that issue.
“That’s the type that most of the people that are doing the bullying are getting away with,” he said. “It’s so hard to prove, unless you actually have a witness there, to witness that person saying something offensive to the victim.”
Between The Pines offers art club once a week to help those experiencing bullying. They talk to each other about bullying, Kolka helps offer support, and then they all do an art project together.
“The other kids in the group are really great at encouraging the kids who speak up and are going through things,” he said. “And that’s what I was trying to create is a support group for the kids.”
He added that creating art adds a therapeutic aspect to the group time.
“It’s about bringing as much positivity into their lives as we possibly can,” Kolka said. “Art is excellent therapy, too.”
For more information about Kolka’s ministry, visit betweenthepines.org.
“Don’t think that you’re the only one,” Kolka added. “Other people have gone through this, and they survived it.”
Neihardt, a seasoned author and child counselor from Kalkaska, visited Olivet Book & Gift for a book signing in May, and now she has another book out.
“The Real Childhood Monsters” is about the difficulties children encounter, including trauma, bullies, and mental health issues.
“It’s for adults, for parents to read, to help their kids with stuff that they’re dealing with,” Neihardt said of the new book.
She said kids need support from loving adults when they are going through trauma, anxiety, or other struggles.
“It needs to be addressed,” she said. “It’s stuff that kids struggle with, and it just seems to be getting worse.”
So far, she has written more than six non-fiction books.
“I’m working on my next one, too,” she said. “I just go from book to book. I really enjoy it.”
Her writing offers faith-based solutions to everyday problems.
Neihardt lives in Kalkaska, with her office in Traverse City. She has been counseling children and young adults for 14 years.
“I have Feelings Monsters on my wall in my office,” Neihardt said. “They’re on the wall behind me, so the kids can see them when they talk to me, and they often refer to those monsters.”
For more information about Neihardt and her books, visit abbaschildbooks.com.
Other books she has written include “Helping Kids to Thrive, Not Just Survive, After Trauma,” “Loving Kids Like Jesus,” “Being a Wonder Woman for God,” “EGR (Extra Grace Required),” “The Feelings Doctor Is In,” and “My Family is Broken.”
Olivet Book & Gift is located on the corner of 2nd Avenue and Chisholm Street in downtown Alpena.
Reach Darby Hinkley at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 989-358-5691.