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Bandera philanthropist’s book claims award

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Posted: Wednesday, July 24, 2019 1:33 pm

A Bandera woman already recognized for the work she has done to aid burn survivors has picked up another honor as the author of a book that won first place in the biography category at the IndieReader Discovery Awards this year.

Celia Belt said she took years and went through a series of rewrites before she produced a book about her life called “Remarkably Intact” last year that was recognized as the top book in the biography category at the discovery awards a little more than a month ago in New York.

IndieReader reviewers at the awards program called Belt’s storytelling skills “riveting” and characterized the story she retold an “astonishing odyssey – from abusive childhood to co-founder of an award-winning charity that provides financial and emotional assistance to burn survivor and their families.”

Catherine Langrehr in commenting about the book for IndieReader called “Remarkably Intact” an “inspiring and positive story of one woman not only surviving but learning to thrive despite everything life could throw at her.”

Belt, who has lived in Bandera since 2010 and whose nonprofit charity called the Moonlight Fund is headquartered in Bandera, said she was “blown away” and humbled by the award, which was made even harder to believe by the fact that “Remarkably Intact” was the first full-length book she had written.

“I thought somebody’s got to be out of their mind,” she said about her initial reaction.

“It was very scary to do – to put all the dark spots of your life out there for the world to see,” Belt said. “But I wanted the book to be honest.”

A press release about the award said Belt was not quite 2-years-old when her abusive father threw boiling water over her, which left her permanently scarred but also set her on the path of confronting and overcoming life’s obstacles.

“‘Remarkably Intact’ is a powerful, painful, and yet hopeful story, full of twists and turns, obstacles to overcome, successes and failures, grief and joy,” the press release said. “The kindness and warmth that allow her to speak even of her abusive father with loving forgiveness are indeed impressive.”

Belt in discussing the book said she completely forgives her father for his actions and that her book “talks a lot about forgiveness.”

“It certainly gives us freedom once we do that,” she said.

Belt said she had often been told she needed to write a book about her life but that it wasn’t until a board member of the Moonlight Fund provided the right kind of encouragement that she was convinced to start writing about five or six years ago.

Work was sidelined after she sustained serious injuries in an accident in 2017 and later both her baby sister and her husband died.

Belt took time to figure out how to include those incidents in her book.   She also kept rewriting the book until she determined that her own, voice was shining through the prose.

She said she was glad she took time to find an independent publisher, AuthorBytes in Boston, to handle the book.  That allowed her to maintain more control over the finished product than she might have had with a large publisher, Belt said.

Once the book was released, it started selling, and it has kept selling, Belt said.

She has donated all the proceeds from the sale of the book to the Moonlight Fund, which she and others, including officials with the burn unit at the San Antonio Military Medical Center, started in 1998.

Belt said the fund and the assistance it provides is still her focus because it has so much more to do.

“I hope this book will bring more awareness to my mission in life, the care of burn survivors and their families.  My thanks to all who made the journey possible,” Belt wrote in the press release about her award.

The overall experience of writing a book and watching it find success has been “quite a ride,” Belt said.  She believes it could be the first of several books exploring different components of her life.

“I have more books in me,” said Belt.

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