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Author event Saturday at Olivet in Alpena
Aug 22, 2022
By Darby Hinkley, News Lifestyles Editor
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.
“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.”
Local Inspirational author to sign latest book in Grayling
GRAYLING — Local author Kurt J.Kolka will be signing copies of his new book of inspirational true stories, “Awed By God,” on Saturday, June 18 at Grayling Baptist Church from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“Awed By God” is a collection of Kolka’s stories from his days as a religion writer for various area newspapers. Two of the stories included were state award-winners. The book also features some brand new interviews never before published.
“There is a special connection when someone shares a very personal story with you,” says Kolka. “That is even more true when it is a story about how God connected with them. I always feel honored to pass on their story to others.
“It is amazing how each story is different. Sometimes God gently, quietly guides a person’s life. Other times He appears loudly through a series of amazing miracles. And then, there are those accounts where a person’s greatest defeat is transformed into a great victory.”
Most of those interviewed are local people. However, Kurt’s job as a journalist also brought him in touch with some national celebrities such as songwriter Gloria Gaither, author Karen Kingsbury and artist for Dennis the Menace, Ron Ferdinand.
Kolka is also the author of the inspirational novel, “Afraid We Are Not,” and other books. All will be available at the signing.
Grayling Baptist Church is located at 705 Madsen Street in Grayling. An arts and crafts show will also be going on at the time of the signing.
Other signings are also being planned at Beginning to End Christian Bookstore in Johannesburg and Olivet Book & Gift in Alpena. More information on these will be forthcoming.
Kolka is available for signings and speaking engagements. He may be contacted at (989) 350-4161 or emailed at BetweenThePinesMin@gmail.com.
Author Spotlight: Kurt J. Kolka
Grayling-based author – Kurt J. Kolka is educating youth about anti-bullying and true masculinity with his recent book. He chats with Michelle Dunaway about the inspiration for the story.
Bullying book published
GRAYLING — Journalist Kurt J. Kolka recently released his first novel “Afraid We Are Not” about his experience with bullying and its long-term impacts.
The text is available at Table 12 Coffee House (Espresso Bay) in Traverse City, Saturn Booksellers in Gaylord, Tip’n the Mitten in Grayling and Beginning to End Christian Bookstore in Lewiston.
The northern Michigan resident is also working on establishing a ministry in Grayling to educate parents and victims on dealing with bullying.
Kolka's new book takes readers inside mind of bullying victim
GRAYLING — Award-winning journalist Kurt J. Kolka, formerly of the Gaylord Herald Times, takes a look inside the head of a bullying victim in his new book “Afraid We Are Not” to show how constant threats and name-calling wear down the victim.
“I researched a lot of novels on bullying before writing this,” says the Grayling native, a survivor of 10 years bullying himself. “They all talked about the feelings of loneliness and depression victims deal with, but not the other feelings.
“Way too often the words used by the bully become little recordings in the victim’s head. Over the years of abuse, the victim begins to believe what the bully is saying about them. Even long after the bullying has stopped, times of stress will bring back to memory the derogatory comments which were said. This happened to me.”
Kolka researched and wrote a series of stories on bullying beginning 2013. He talked to victims, parents, police, youth pastors, school administrators and counselors on the issue.
While he found people interested in curbing the problem, he still found many who downplayed its effects on the victim. They felt the victims were “too sensitive” or even “weak-minded.”
“I felt the only way to help people see what was happening was to write a novel about bullying and take the reader into the victim’s mind,” Kolka said. “I wanted to show people both how cruel bullying can be and how it affects the victim’s thoughts in the long term.
People need to understand why some kids don’t survive.”
Kolka used much of his research and some of his own experiences being bullied in the book and sewed them together with his imagination into a compelling plot.
“It is time we stopped looking at bullying as some minor childhood annoyance and recognized its potential for long-term harm,” Kolka said
The author is also taking his concern for bullying even farther recently. He is currently working on establishing a local ministry called Between The Pines Ministries in Grayling to educate parents and victims on dealing with the issue.
Kolka’s book is available at Saturn Booksellers in Gaylord; Tip’n the Mitten, Grayling; Beginning to End Christian Bookstore, Lewiston and Family Bookshelf, Fairview.