Saturday Author Event at Olivet in Alpena | News, Sports, Jobs

Courtesy Photo Kurt J. Kolka, will sign two books on Saturday, including “Awed By God”.

ALPENA — Two Christian authors with a passion for helping children and teens will be signing books Saturday at Olivet Book & Gift in downtown Alpena.

The event will run from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and will feature Northern Michigan authors Kurt J. Kolka and Alison Neihardt.

Kurt J. Kolka

Kolka is a Grayling artist and author. He has been drawing cartoons and writing for 30 years.

“He spent 30 years in the newspaper business, including several years at the Gaylord Herald Times, where he won two state journalism awards,” a press release read.

Courtesy Photo Kurt J. Kolka, will sign two books on Saturday, including “Awed By God”.

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 religious 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 people come from different backgrounds.

The book features interviews with people from Leelanau to Alpena, as well as interviews with Christian celebrities.

“It was wonderful interviewing them and hearing their stories,” added Kolka.

Courtesy photo Alison Neihardt will sign “The Real Monsters of Childhood” on Saturday.

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 teenager who was bullied for 10 years,” the press release reads. “As he struggles to carry on, a local pastor comes to his side to help the boy see through the name-calling and abuse he has endured to finally face his abusers.”

“I really get into the mind of the teenager, to show what’s going on, to show what kinds of things really upset him,” Kolka said. “That way I think we can help 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 teenagers and adults who read the book recommend it.

“It’s partly based on my life growing up in Northern Michigan,” Kolka said. “And being bullied for over 10 years.”

Courtesy photo Alison Neihardt will sign “The Real Monsters of Childhood” on Saturday.

Kolka, a licensed minister, runs an anti-bullying ministry in Grayling called Between The Pines Ministries.

“I think children, in particular, need to know that other people have been through what they’re going through,” Kolka said.

He said verbal bullying is particularly prevalent among teenagers and he wanted to address this issue.

“He’s the guy that most people who bully get away with,” he said. “It’s so hard to prove, unless you have a witness there, to see that person say something offensive to the victim.”

Between The Pines offers an art club once a week to help people who are bullied. They talk to each other about the bullying, Kolka helps offer support, and then they all do an art project together.

“The other kids in the group are really good at encouraging kids to talk and experience things,” he said. “And that’s what I was trying to create, it’s a support group for kids.”

He added that creating art adds a therapeutic aspect to group time.

“It’s about bringing as much positivity into their lives as possible,” Kolka said. “Art is also great therapy.”

For more information about Kolka’s ministry, visit

“Don’t think you’re the only one,” added Kolka. “Other people have been through it, and they’ve survived it.”

Alison Neihardt

Neihardt, a veteran author and children’s counselor from Kalkaska, visited Olivet Book & Gift for a book signing in May, and now she has another book.

“The Real Childhood Monsters” deals with the difficulties faced by children, including trauma, bullies and mental health issues.

“It’s for adults, for parents to read, to help their kids with stuff they’re dealing with,” Neihardt said of the new book.

She said children need the support of loving adults when going through trauma, anxiety or other difficulties.

“It needs to be fixed,” she said. “These are things kids struggle with, and it just seems to get worse.”

So far she has written over six non-fiction books.

“I’m working on my next one, too,” she said. “I just go from book to book. I really like that.”

His writings offer faith-based solutions to everyday problems.

Neihardt lives in Kalkaska, with his office in Traverse City. She has been accompanying children and young adults for 14 years.

“I have feeling monsters on my wall in my office,” Neihardt said. “They’re on the wall behind me, so kids can see them when they talk to me, and they often refer to those monsters.”

For more information on Neihardt and his books, visit

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 at the corner of 2nd Avenue and Chisholm Street in downtown Alpena.

Contact Darby Hinkley at [email protected] or 989-358-5691.

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Joseph K. Bennett