When Joanna Romer’s husband of 25 years died after a long illness, she was devastated.
“Even though he’d been sick for a long time, it was a shock like nothing else,” she recalls. To work through her grief, she began recording her thoughts and feelings in a journal. After a friend suggested she use the journal as the basis for a book, Romer decided it might be a way to channel her personal tragedy into something that could benefit others. Little did she know that it would become the first of a series of self-help books aimed at teaching readers the art of self-nurturing.
Romer’s interest in writing began at an early age. “When I was a girl, I used to make up stories for my paper dolls,” she says. While majoring in art at Florida State University, a professor suggested she enter a contest sponsored by Mademoiselle Magazine where she had to write and illustrate articles. When she became one of the contest winners, she was offered a job at Mademoiselle as a junior editor, so she moved from Miami to New York City where she lived for the next 27 years. It was there that she met Jack Milton, the man she married.
After leaving Mademoiselle, Romer spent some time writing for Cosmopolitan Magazine. She also freelanced for the New York Times, earned a Master’s degree in journalism and taught communications at Hunter College. She even did a brief stint as a screenwriter when she and Jack wrote and produced “Please Stand By,” what she describes as “a radical political comedy.” The film played at the Bleeker Street Cinema in 1972. “John Lenon and Yoko Ono helped with the soundtrack,” Romer says. “It was a very rewarding experience.”
In 1990, Romer moved back to Florida, settling in Daytona Beach where she taught at Daytona Beach Community College and Bethune-Cookman University. In 2010, she left teaching to devote her time to caring for Jack. “He was very ill, but this was a special time for us,” she says. “We became very close.” Two years later, the book based on her experience was published. “Widow: A Survival Guide for the First Year,” guides women through each phase of widowhood. The book was praised by Midwest Book Reviews as “powerful…enthusiastically recommended.”
Since then, Romer has penned seven books aimed at helping readers get through difficult times. Her latest tackles a subject that can have deadly consequences. “Recovering from Domestic Violence, Abuse, and Stalking” was a subject that hit close to home. In the book, Romer shares the true stories of women who over- came trauma to begin new lives, and one of the women she interviewed was a friend. Romer admits that interviewing the women was difficult. “I could see it wasn’t easy for them ,” she says. “I tend to be empathetic, and I can’t help putting myself in their shoes. When they cry, tears come into my eyes too.” What she likes best about “Recovering from Domestic Violence, Abuse, and Stalking” are what she refers to as “the healing chapters” that focus on recovering self-esteem. “This is a big issue for the victims,” she says. “Many wrongly feel that they deserved the abuse. I attempt to instill self-esteem and forgiveness.”
Romer ‘s next book, “Widow: How to Survive (and Thrive) in Your 2nd, 3rd and 4th Years” will be released in May. She is also working with co-author Pat Young on “Life After Losing a Child.” Even though her books deal with painful and difficult subjects, Romer hopes they will help readers learn to nurture themselves. “When I’m writing, I’m consciously trying to get the reader to focus on self. Many people tend to be nicer to others than to themselves. Healing is not just about doing things or achieving goals. I try to impart a sense of self-nurturing by showing how important it is to love and be kind to yourself.”
For more information, go to www.amazon.com/Joanna-Romer/e/B009CGCFLK