Category Archives: anxiety

10 QUESTIONS FOR…Lilia Fallgatter, JD, “The Most Important Letter You Will Ever Write”


Author interview with Lilia Fallgatter, JDAuthorPhotoBookCoverFinal

Lilia Fallgatter, JD, is an author, speaker and publisher (Inspirit Books, LLC.) Her book, “The Most Important Letter You Will Ever Write, How To Tell Loved Ones How You Feel Before It’s Too Late” was written following the loss of a close friend to cancer. In both the book and in a workshop by the same title, Lilia teaches participants how to communicate their feelings in writing. In addition, Lilia speaks, consults and offers workshops on forgiveness, workshop development, writing & publishing, online learning and empowerment of women. She lives in Chandler, AZ with her husband and two children.

1. Tell us about your latest book.

My first book, The Most Important Letter You Will Ever Write,  has been out for a while.  I was inspired to write it after the loss of a close friend to cancer. Following her death, I wrote a letter expressing how much she had meant to me. Although I felt better, I deeply regretted not having shared my feeling before she died. So I set out on a mission to not let it happen again and to teach others how to avoid the same regret.  My current projects are a humor book on pet peeves, another self-help book, a book for women on self-empowerment, and I will also be writing fiction for the first time.

2. How did you get started as a writer?

I have “aspired” to write for as long as I can remember. However, I was not “inspired” to write until I lost a close friend to cancer. Following her death, I wrote my friend a letter. Although writing the letter made me feel better, I deeply regretted not having shared my feelings with my friend before she died.  I decided that I would not let that happen again. I wrote “Loving Letters” to loved ones who were still alive. I then made it my mission to help others do the same. I wrote the book and developed the workshop.  

3. What does a typical day look like for you?

In addition to working on my various book projects as a publisher and author, I am an online education consultant, speaker, wife and mother. I try to make time each day to move forward with one or more of my writing projects.

4. Describe your desk/workspace.

Although I consider myself a highly organized person, my desk is usually cluttered with books, manuscripts, articles, research materials and the many projects which are works in progress.

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

Fiction: A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry

Non-Fiction: Most any personal growth/self-help book

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

I have a law degree, but chose not to practice law

I am founder and president of Inspirit Books, LLC

One of my biggest pet peeves is mispronounced words

7. Favorite quote

I have two favorite quotes:

“Good words are worth much and cost little.” ~George Herbert

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ~Nelson Mandela

8. Best and worst part of being a writer

Best:  Doing what I love to do most in the whole world and feeling that I might be helping others to improve their lives or reach their potential.

Worst: Trying to convince others how talented I amJ

9. Advice for other writers

Ideas and writing that arise out of inspiration will be the most meaningful and satisfying work you do.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.

Learning that my writing has touched or benefited others has served to confirm that the time invested in writing and publishing my book was worthwhile and serves an important purpose.  I have been blessed to have this confirmed on many occasions.

Where can people buy your book?

My work is available though my website – , blog –, on or

Author interview with Muriel Gill, “The Ultimate Human Need”


(Note from Wendy: This Q&A is a bit different than the usual ’10 Questions for’ format, but Muriel already had her own Q&A.)

“The Ultimate Human Need” by Muriel GillmurielgillUltimateHumanNeed_160x256

1. Q: In a nutshell, what is the book about?

A: The book deals with a number of issues that affect relations in any society, but in a nutshell, it points at parental absenteeism as one of the causes of juvenile rebellion. It emphasizes the inner need for acceptance, love, affection and to be valued, by every human being

2. Q: Having said that, who is the book directed at? What is your target market?

A: It is for every teenager, to understand how to communicate and interact with their parents. It is for parents with teenage kids and preparing for those years. It is for everyone who has had what they term bad childhood, to be inspired and see and learn that a good, meaningful and fulfilling life is possible after bad childhood. It is for everyone who is battling some amount of unforgiveness and wants to learn how to forgive.

3. Q:  What inspired the writing of the book?

A:  I believe in the power of words, and just want to use the art of writing to help address some of the issues that affect us all. Art can be used as a form of entertaining, but that can always be combined with education and bring across a lesson or answer to societal questions in an edutaining way.  It’s funny, ‘cause the story line evolved in my head while watching a program on TV, debating the morality of euthanasia. Yet, euthanasia occupies only about 2 or 3 pages in the whole book.

4. Q: Have you always known that you wanted to write?

A:  Not always, I discovered the interest a little later in life, and find that I enjoy it. I first started with writing feature movie scripts, hoping I could sell them to anyone interested, but found it difficult to do so. Then I thought it might be a good idea to turn my movies scripts into a book.

5. Q: What do you want your readers to get from the book?

A: The book is both entertaining and educating. The blurbs describe it as riveting and un-put-downable. First of all, I want the readers to enjoy what they are reading, it’s hard to forget what has entertained you, and then I also want the readers to be reminded of all the moral lessons and self-help tips in the book.

6. Q: Is that the reason why you wrote it in a story form, rather than just a self-help book?

A: Precisely, learning something in a fun and entertaining way seems to be easily understandable and effective. It just stays with you for a long time.

7. Q: Are you a teacher, by training?

A: No, I don’t have any formal teaching training. Maybe by nature, ‘cause I find that I like to explain things in detail, and sometimes even repeat myself for clarity. But then, most of us women are detailed by nature, but that does not make us all teachers.

8. Q: What are some of the issues you deal with in your book, other than what you’ve already mentioned?

A: Towards the end, I take quite a bit of time, elaborating on the remedial issues. It is one thing to highlight an issue, dissecting it and talking about where it originates from; like talking about rejection as one of the causes of rebellion. But that is just half the truth, from here on, I think one needs to talk about the treatment, how to bring about total change and reverse the effects of a problem.

9. Q: Talking about the remedy, I notice you talk quite a bit about forgiveness in your book. What is the formula or process of forgiveness. If someone is struggling to forgive those that have hurt him what advice can you give?

A: There’s a 5 step program that is very effective. I found this out while doing research for the book, so I take no credit for it; it’s not my own invention. For easy recall, it’s called the REACH program. Recall the hurt – don’t try to deny or bury it, but don’t dwell on your victimization. Empathize with the one who hurt you. See things from their point of view, feel their feelings and identify with their pressures. Empathy is the key step in forgiving. Altruistically decide to give the gift of forgiveness. Commit to forgiveness publicly; verbalize it to someone, a friend, the perpetrator, or someone. Say it out loud. Hold on to that forgiveness. Do not replay the tape of hurt. Rumination is at the core of unforgiveness. Do not see the perpetrator as a personification of evil, out to deliberately ruin you. This form of forgiveness is difficult in the beginning, especially when you have to empathize with the perpetrator, but it is very effective. In fact, while doing research and reading up on forgiveness, I read about a research that was done, employing two methods of forgiveness. The first group was told to forgive for their own good. They were told that forgiveness benefits them more, and it releases them form bitterness and all the possible accompanying physical effects of unforgiveness, so they forgave quite easily. But after a week or two, when the two groups were compared, the group that forgave for their own benefit, had declined in their resolved to forgive. Forgiveness was mainly a gift to themselves, it was for selfish reasons, it did not necessarily replace negative emotions with positive empathy. But the second group had held on to their forgiveness, ‘cause negative emotions had been truly replaced by positive ones. It looks like we don’t just drop negative feelings; they need to be replaced by something positive.   

10. Q: Does forgiveness always inevitably lead to reconciliation?

A: Forgiveness is not synonymous with reconciliation. Forgiveness is one party deciding to give the altruistic gift of forgiveness, replacing negative feelings with positive ones. Reconciliation on the other hand calls for both parties to desire to reconcile, and both committing themselves to the process of reconciliation.

11. Q: What is the process of reconciliation?

A: Again, this is what I found out during research, again I take no credit for this process. The first step we’ve touched on already. Both parties need to desire and commit to reconciliation, then they need to discuss the transgression, in soft attitudes, with humility and empathy, and no denial. During this discussion stage, there’s the acronym CONFESS. Like I said, I take no credit for this acronym. Confess without excuses. Offer an apology, be sincere, show remorse and be specific. Note the other person’s pain, do not downplay it, do not call them too sensitive of just the imagination of their minds. Forever value. Love is valuing the other person. Equalize. Show an act of kindness to make up for the hurt. Say never. Commit yourself to never hurt the other person the same way again. Seek forgiveness. Ask for forgiveness.

12. Q: You mention parent absenteeism as one of the causes of teenage rebellion. In some cases, you find both parents present, presumably both plugged in, and yet the child turns rebellious. What could the cause be here? 

A: The problem might stem from the parenting style practiced at home. There are different parenting styles, depending on the values, teachings, temperament and personalities of the parents. Then there’s the traditional expectation of stormy teenage years. Parents expect his stage of their kids to be rough, and they talk negative things, in line with their expectations. But, results emerging from new research, show that teenage years need not necessarily be stormy. And to help their teenagers to make a smooth transition into young adulthood, parents need to change their views of their teenagers, change the way they think of them, their expectations, and learn new parenting styles that will actually help their teenagers. The most effective parenting style is when adults parent from the child’s strengths, rather than coming form the negative. Again, I take no credit for this approach. This is called the 5C’s of parenting. They are Competence, Confidence, Connections, Character, Caring. Parents need to find 1 of few things that their child in naturally gifted at, and encourage the child to develop that talent. As the child becomes more proficient at that, they develop confidence in themselves. Confident people are easy to relate with others. This naturally leads to connections. They interact easily with others, Parents need to encourage their teenage kids to develop relations with others outside the home, encourage socialization. Parents need to instill in their children character, both b teaching and by demonstrating it. Character is the internal moral compass, its sets boundaries for the child. It guides them as to what they may or may not do. Then parents need to teach their teenagers care; demonstrate it in the home. They can do certain things together as a family, like volunteering together at an orphanage or assisted living centre.

13. Q: How can a young person handle peer pressure, because at times, they do things purely because of peer pressure?

A: Having a sense of belonging is crucial, especially belonging to a group of people your own age. In fact, it is one thread that runs through the story of my book. Hence the title, The ultimate human need.  Unfortunately, some people will sacrifice everything to feel accepted and validated, especially if they do not have this need fulfilled at home, just like the character in the story in the book. That is why they make reckless decisions and hang out with the wrong crowd.

It’s important for parents to help their kids to develop social skills and good character, which we’ve already defined as an internal sense of moral compass, that defines borders. Hence, sense of belonging should be based on shared common values and interests.

 14. Q: What’s your message to absent fathers?

A: Get back to your child or children. Your absence is sending a damaging message of rejection, and that is hurting a child in ways you cannot imagine.

15. Q: What’s the first step they should do to re-establish, or in some cases, establish a first-time relationship with their child?

A: Apologize for their absenteeism. This takes us back to our CONFESS program, talking about the transgression; honestly and with humility. Acknowledging the pain that your absence or abandonment has caused the child, and honestly and sincerely apologizing for that, and asking to be forgiven. Father/parent, note that you’re not picking up where you left off. It’s new; you start afresh. You start with small unintrusive baby steps, and slowly build a more and mutually trusting relationship. The most important message you want to send to your child, is that you care and you value them.

16. Q: At this stage, can they offer an opinion or correction, when they see something wrong and dangerous that the child may be doing?

A: They can offer an advice, when asked for it. Beyond this point, they have not yet earned the right and privilege of a parent to correct. They forfeited that when they abdicated their parental responsibility, and they cannot return with a whip in their hand.

17. Q: What if it’s something very dangerous and self-destructive?

A: They might need to mention it to the parent who has always been present and let them do the talking. If they strongly feel they should deal with it, they might need to be very honest about it. They might need to begin with: “know I’m not exactly a model parent, I’ve hurt you in the past by my absence, and probably you may feel like I’m not qualified to talk to you about “such and such” problem. But, if you’ll allow me, I will give this “advice” or avail myself to give assistance in this particular way; e.g. like when it’s a case of drug abuse, he might avail himself to check the child in a rehabilitation center. We touched on this earlier on, offering an act of kindness to compensate or make up for the pain of the past. It also sends the message that you care about the welfare of your child.

Then, he will need to express his faith in the child’s ability to change that destructive behavior. This tells the child that he is intrinsically good, and that his father believes in him. Almost everyone who has made a positive change from a destructive behavior will always cite one person who believed in them. This is also the point in case in the life our young character in the book, The ultimate human need.

18. Q: Talking about making a positive change, how can someone who has had a bad childhood, or a bad past, make a transition into a positive life?

A: A good life after a bad childhood is possible, it’s not easy, but you can create   it. Again what I’m about to say, I’ve found out during my research for the novel, so I take no personal credit for it.

First, accept the truth that you were hurt, don’t deny it, but refuse to define yourself according to those experiences. If you do, you take over the abuse and become your own torturer. What was done to you in the past was not about you; it was not because you’re a bad person. So define yourself correctly.

Then accept who the abuser is, not embracing it, but accepting that that is who they are and leaning to relate with them around those shortcomings, knowing that you cannot change them, and neither are you responsible for their change. No one can change the other person. Accepting is liberating. Understand their emotional struggle and empathize with them. When you do, you cannot but let go. In other words, you forgive them. Empathy replaces hurt, anger, resentment and bitterness. Negative emotions are now replaced with positive ones.

When emotions have changed, behavior is easy to change. In bad childhood, you learned al the negative behaviors as coping mechanisms, now learn to replace them with new behaviors and reactions. 

Then reach out to someone and give some affection attention and approval. Hurting people have a tendency to want everybody to give to them, but they never or rarely reciprocate that love. But what you give, you will receive back. Give what you yearn for, and you will receive it back.

Decide to be a loving spirit, and find a greater purpose to live for, a passion to give yourself to. This takes the attention off of yourself. Hurting people have the tendency to obsess about themselves, but as you give yourself to something, you have less time to think about your hurt.

Then, learn to keep things in perspective. Without making light of anyone’s bad childhood, don’t think that your situation is the worst. There are others that are worse off than yours.

Lastly, adopt a positive attitude – it is a significant mind-set for a good life. Learn to count your blessings and be thankful.


This, “The Ultimate Human Need,” is Muriel Gill’s debut novel. She cares about social issues, and through her writing seeks to make positive contribution and promote better social understanding and harmonious interactions.

She has obtained her honors degree from the University of the North West in South Africa. She has worked as a Chief Data Coordinator, Information Analyst, Project Manager and has owned her own Bookstore.


Title: The Ultimate Human Need

Author; Muriel Gill

Publisher: American Book Publisher, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Number of pages: 300

ISBN: 1-58982-371-0

Binding; Paperback

Price: $22.00

The book is available either from my website or from the publisher direct online bookstore

10 QUESTIONS FOR…Dr. Helen McIntosh, “Messages to Myself”


Author interview with Dr. Helen McIntoshPhotoofDr.HelenMcIntoshMessagetoMyself(2)

1. Tell us about your latest book. 

 Messages to Myself – Overcoming a Distorted Self-Image is for those who are struggling with ongoing self-image issues as well as depression and anxiety, and are having difficulties in their personal life and in their relationships.  I give a method in the book to bring healthy and lasting life changes for adults and children. This method offers readers simple, tangible, concrete help both in their thought patterns and in their relationships with others.   

2. How did you get started as a writer?  My heart longs to give encouragement and lasting help to those who struggle with social and emotional issues.  I first got started with a children’s book (Eric, Jose, and The Peace Rug) to help them with their issues like anger management, bullying, reconciliation, and conflict resolution.  I was a school counselor at the time, and there was a deficit in literature that really worked!  For my adult friends, I saw another deficit! So many of us are depressed.  They have been given “sticky note” answers – and nothing has helped.  I love help, healing, restoration, and reconciliation, and so the book came to me as a natural flow from what I needed myself and needed for others.

3. What does a typical day look like for you? 

 I am officially retired from the school system but still do some crisis counseling in my church and community, and I do some teaching.  I am also working on a grief book for children and an adult book on suicide.  [Why is a sanguine like me writing about so many dark subjects?  Well…I just love it!]  Best of all is time with my husband, also recently retired, and seeing my adult children and grandchildren.     

4. Describe your desk/workspace.  

BUSY!  It actually looks pretty awful.  The stacks on my left look formidable, but I know where everything is.  Otherwise, I have surrounded myself with nostalgic photographs and things I love.

5. Favorite books (especially for writers) 

Anything by Jan Silvious.  The book Captivating by Stasi Eldredge is also a favorite. 

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you 

I was a drummer in high school (the timpani), smoked a few cigars in my after college days, and lived in Germany as a child and France when older. 

7. Favorite quote

My favorite quote is from the Bible in Habbukah: Though the fig tree should not blossom, and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls – Yet! I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.

8. Best and worst part of being a writer 

The best part is hopefully helping others by putting down truth in ink.  The worst part is the “fight to be still” in our very busy world and how hard it is to hear “quiet” in order put that down in ink!

9. Advice for other writers

Write about things you are passionate about because the journey is hard.  Then you will persevere!  

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.

I wrote a lot of the Messages To Myself book in my father’s hospital room when he was asleep.  He died weeks later – but I know he was with me on my journey just as I was there for him on his journey to heaven.

Where can people buy your book?

 Readers can buy it on!  Information and other ordering info can also be accessed on or

10 QUESTIONS FOR…Dr. Linda Seger (Making a Good Script Great & new book!)


Author interview with LINDA SEGERLindaHeadShotColorSpiritualStepsTypog

I’m a script consultant, speaker and seminar leader, and author of 11 books, including 8 on screenwriting and three on spirituality. In 1987, my first book, MAKING A GOOD SCRIPT GREAT, was published. It became an industry standard and is used throughout the world. That book opened up the world to me, and led to giving seminars in 31 countries around the world on screenwriting.

My educational background includes a ThD (doctorate of theology) in Drama and Theology from a seminary in Berkeley. I call it the least marketable degree in the world, since it’s an odd combination, and the drama people didn’t want someone with a theology degree and the theology people thought I was probably too dramatic for any job in theology. I finally started my own business, first out of desperation, and then I realized that I was very suited to being an entrepreneur. When I created the job of script consultant, it didn’t exist. I based my work on my doctoral dissertation on “What makes a script work?”

Since 1981, I have focused on the script consulting work and seminars. In 2002, my husband and I moved to my dream house in the mountains right outside of Colorado Springs in Cascade, Colorado. Around that time, I realized I wanted to expand my work to include books and speaking in the area of spirituality. My latest book is on spirituality and success.

1. Tell us about your latest book.

The book is called SPIRITUAL STEPS ON THE ROAD TO SUCCESS: Gaining the goal without losing your soul. It’s written from a Judeo-Christian perspective, although I believe the spiritual issues are universal. When I began my business, I decided to try to apply spiritual principles, and my own relationship to God, to my work, hoping that I could make a living while also being spiritual in the difficult, competitive world of Hollywood. I found the issues were different than I expected. Some of the chapters in the book  discuss “Becoming Important”, “Meeting the Seven Deadly Sins”, “Developing a Sense of Smell” (so one becomes wise at sniffing out the scoundrels), being “Willing to be Blessed”, and combining one’s contemplative life with the very active life of someone in business.

 2. How did you get started as a writer?

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was 10, and began writing short stories, and then poetry shortly after that. I wrote my first novel when I was 13, which took three months to write, and then wrote more short stories all through college and into graduate school. When I started teaching screenwriting and discussing my theories, participants in my seminars kept asking, “When are you going to write a book about this?” I finally did, and then my agent asked when was I going to write another book. I realized that I loved writing non-fiction, and I am now writing both screenwriting books and spirituality books. Since 2008, I’ve written 11 books, and just signed a contract for another screenwriting book, and am now trying to sell a proposal for another spirituality book.

3. What does a typical day look like for you?

I generally start my day eating breakfast at the computer and reading my emails. If I’m on a tight deadline, I then write one to two hours, and then turn to my other work, such as the consulting work and emails. If I’m not on a tight deadline, I might write later in the day. It depends on how much creative work is necessary for the writing, and how much is more research, or thinking time. If I have reading and research to do, I tend to do that later in the day.

I usually write two mornings a week. I’m clearly a morning writer, and if I need to, I’ll get up very early, but usually I’ll start writing about 8 a.m. I wrote my 9th book, a book on theology and politics, in five months, working five to six mornings a week, while keeping my business going. But usually I ask for a year to write a book.

Two afternoons a week I go out to ride my horse. If I’m writing, I use the driving time to think about an idea or a chapter, or think about a consulting problem I’m trying to resolve. Several times a week I also go to the pool. Usually my writing time is 1-2 hours.

4. Describe your desk/workspace.

I have the dream workspace. I have a small cabin on our property, which is in the mountains (in the first mountain town west of Colorado Springs.)My computer is by the window, and I look out over hundreds of pine trees, magpies, sometimes deer. The cabin is large enough for a table and two bookcases and several file cabinets and just about anything I need.  And it’s just 29 steps down a small hill from our home. I have little knick-knacks on the window ledge in front of the computer that inspires me. One is of a Nordic sailing ship that I got from Norway that encourages me to go to big and new horizons. One is of a unicorn, that tells me I can be original and one-of-a-kind. I have a red metal lion from South Africa (very small, obviously!) that encourages me to be bold. A little Savorski piano that encourages me to sing my tune. An angel. Some sea shells. And a mug that has the Prayer of Jabez on it..that asks God to bless me and expand my territories.

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

I love Anne LaMott’s writing, especially Bird by Bird. Years ago, I read a Journal of John Steinbeck’s that he kept while writing East of Eden, which is my favorite book. I think the journal was called the East of Eden Journal…really fascinating about his process.

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

I bought my first horse when I was 58, although I had been doing horse-back riding one-week vacations for about 12 years by then. I’m now competing in reining, which is a difficult form of western riding.

I am totally in love with Colorado, and have been since we first came here when I was 13. I remember the first time we entered the mountains, and I determined to live here somehow. It took many, many years.

I’m a Quaker. Many people find that interesting.

7. Favorite quote

From Maria Von Trapp in SOUND OF MUSIC, (although I think someone else said it first): “God never closes a door without opening a window.” I call Maria my favorite theologian.

8. Best and worst part of being a writer

The worst part is to keep trying to sell one’s ideas. Even when one is known, the selling still is a waiting game. On the other hand, I have a wonderful agent.

Best part – being able to work with ideas, and seeing people’s lives change as a result of ideas. I love to work with words, and as time has gone on, I have paid more attention to alliteration, internal rhymes, and having fun with words. I love working with the style of a book – and becoming better at making writing decisions about style. How funny should I be? How surprising? Should I be a bit outrageous? How tender? 

9. Advice for other writers

Writing is a process, and becoming good at it doesn’t happen overnight. True, we might do a very good job on our first book, perhaps because it’s been percolating for many years, but sustaining being a writer demands some kind of mastery over the craft and the ability to have found your own voice.

And it demands being honest and authentic. That means telling the truth, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction. 

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.

Well, no crazy ones, but I have written sections of my books in very interesting places. I wrote part of my book, WHEN WOMEN CALL THE SHOTS, in the Beijing, China airport, while sitting on the floor against a column with my hands through all my personal belongings – purse, backpack, etc. My plane was delayed, so I used the time to write. Once I wrote  at the L.A. Airport while it was evacuated (the wing where I was waiting was the only area not evacuated, but we weren’t allowed to leave.) Once, when I was working on a book during an airplane ride, the plane landed and the man next to me looked at me and said, “I have never seen anything like that! You concentrated and never lost focus for 3 hours straight!” So, I can write just about anywhere.

Where can people buy your book?

My website is the name of the book:

My blog is being created, but will be part of this website.

The book is readily available on and, and will probably be in various Christian bookstores as well. Perhaps in other bookstores.

Readers can also visit my other Web site, for photos, speaking engagements, information on my other books, etc.  



10 QUESTIONS FOR…Lloyd Lofthouse, “My Splendid Concubine”


Author interview with Lloyd LofthouseConcubineCoverTwoOn5-6-09_editeLowResAUTHORPhotoOneOn5-7-09_ed

Lloyd Lofthouse earned a BA in journalism after fighting in Vietnam as a U. S. Marine. He then taught English and journalism in the public schools by day and for a time worked as a maitre d’ in a multimillion-dollar nightclub by night. He now lives near San Francisco with his wife, Anchee Min, and they have a second home in Shanghai, China.

1. Tell us about your latest book.

      I will let the reviewers and judges tell you about “My Splendid Concubine”.

2009 San Francisco Book Festival Winner – Honorable Mention in General Fiction

2008 London Book Festival Winner – Honorable Mention in Fiction

“Packed cover to cover with intriguing characters and plot, a must read for historical fiction fans and a fine addition to any collection on the genre”  –  Midwest Book Review

“If even half of Lofthouse’s narrative is true, it’s a stunning work that enmeshes imperialism, modernity, miscegenation and plain old desire in a sweaty matrix of destruction and painful birth.” – City Weekend Magazine

“Those who are interested in unconventional romances with an out-of-the-ordinary setting will find plenty to enjoy.”  

    – Historical Novels Review

“Hart’s struggles adapting to Chinese culture, always feeling the pull and force of his Victorian British background, are compelling. His relationships with his concubine and his concubine’s sister are poignant—the novel is as much a study of the complexities of love as it is anything else. A powerful novel …”

                   – Judge of 2008 Writer’s Digest Self Published Book Awards

“Lofthouse eloquently weaves together historical facts into the lives and emotions of his characters … here is a story that will help you understand how one period can change the direction of the future—all for the love of a single woman.”

                    – Peter N. Jones, Great New Books

2. How did you get started as a writer?

After Vietnam and the United States Marines, I went to college on the GI Bill. During my first year in college, Ray Bradbury visited and I attended his lecture. Listening to Bradbury motivated me to write. I signed up for a creative writing class the next semester. That was in 1968 and 1969.  I haven’t stopped writing.

3. What’s a typical day like for you?

I spent the first hour or two exercising before going to my office and getting started. The first few hours are spent on the Internet replying and sending e-mails in addition to doing what I can to promote my writing.  I wrote and post poems, articles and post previews on Websites like Authors Den for the next two books I plan to publish.

4. Describe your workspace.

My workspace is a hundred square foot office on the ground floor of our hillside home. The computer sits in front of a window.  The view is of trees—many trees. I built bookshelves against three walls. There are two filing cabinets. Art hangs on the walls. Chinese woodcarvings collected while on research trips to China sit on top the bookshelves.

5. Favorite books?

The list is long. This is a sample:

Lord of the Rings

Interview with the Vampire

Memoires of a Geisha

all of James Lee Burke’s books

all of Patrick O’Brian’s books

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you:

1. I came back from Vietnam combat with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and cannot sleep without a weapon of some kind near-at-hand. If the crickets outside the house stop chirping, I wake alert.

2. For several years, I was a maître in a multi-million dollar nightclub and gained a nickname from the other employees. They called me “Disco Lloyd”.  A friend, who was also a school counselor, told me I was an introvert extrovert and switched back and forth depending on the situation.

3. I don’t mind trekking into the mountains in winter when the snow is hip deep and few hikers are around. I also like to ski in blizzards since the slopes are empty and you don’t have to wait in lines.

7. Favorite quote?

“You can fool some of the people most of the time and most of the people some of the time but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”  I believe Abraham Lincoln said this.

8. Best and worst part of being a writer?

I enjoy the right brain activity that takes place while writing the rough draft of a novel. The left-brain activity necessary to edit and revise is a tedious, necessary pain that many writers seem to avoid.

9. Advice to writers?

Writing is about story and craft, so never stop learning how to write because the competition is fierce. If you love to tell stories, never give up the dream that others around the world will read your writing one day.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.

I started writing in 1968. By 1973, I had earned a BA in journalism. For seven years in the 1980s, I drove more than a hundred miles each week to attend a writing workshop out of UCLA. Most of the writers in that workshop ended up published. Marjorie Miller, the instructor, eventually believed my work was ready and connected me with a big name agent.

That novel was about Vietnam. I came back from that war with PTSD. I sweated ink to write that story. However, at the time, no one was publishing Vietnam since the market was glutted with that topic and the reading public wasn’t buying. The agent dropped me once he couldn’t place my work. However, decades later, A Night at the Well of Purity, a chapter from that novel, was a finalist for the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards.

I started an MFA at Cal Poly, Pomona and finished it a decade later at another university.  Almost every step I have taken since 1968 was done to improve my writing.

I spent thirty years in the classroom as an English and journalism teacher. My students won state and regional awards in poetry, short stories and in journalism. The school paper I was advisor for won international recognition five years in a row.

For most writers that refuse to quit, writing turns into a painful labor of love. That is what it has been for me.

Where can people buy your book or learn more about you?

10 QUESTIONS FOR…”The Mustard Seed” author Alexandra Martinez


Author interview with Alexandra S. MartinezMartinezCovermoderatto

I’m Alexandra Martinez and I’m currently living between Miami, Florida and Guadalajara, Mexico. Now this might sound a bit outrageous, but I’m actually not a professional writer. I’m a Marketing graduate and I recently went through a very painful and disorienting time in my life, which is what surprisingly led me to writing.

1. Tell us about your latest book.

The Mustard Seed is a very small book that talks about my own research, my own little manual that meticulously describes what pursuing Greatness in a Guitar Hero coolness problem solver- American Idol wannabe- Globalizing Google- Daily tall caramel macchiato- Prada shoes, Chloe bag must haves- culture is all about.
2. How did you get started as a writer?

The Mustard Seed has actually been the very best therapy of my life. My father went to be with the Lord six months ago. He had a very serious case of bone cancer. Throughout the excruciating chemo-circus, when the time came that he could not get out of bed anymore, I somehow strangely found my heart and mind racing in very unexpected speeds and directions; entering undiscovered lands filled with spiritual and philosophical questions that I decided to write down as therapy. My family and I were going through extremely painful times, and somehow writing began to feel like a completely safe refuge of my own. Rivers of word began to pour out me like waterfalls in the middle of countless spiritual nights where vague ideas where replaced by chapters, fears were replaced by overwhelming discoveries and hours were replaced by seconds. Timeless grieving nights went by when suddenly, before I knew it, my beat-up eight year-old PC was holding my very own life manual, one that I now wish to share with whoever feels in need.

3. What does a typical day look like for you?

Well, things have changed in my life. I no longer make plans. I now know what I want out of life, I know the kind of person I want to become and the kind of things I wish to create, feel, and experience. I now know where I’m headed, but as for the rest of it, I no longer make plans, I actually like to be surprised. I like the idea of staying open to every possibility. I’m currently working on a design-photography-culinary book project which takes up most of my day. I like to work out in the mornings while I listen to my music in volumes that might leave me deaf, but sure make me feel alive. I then enjoy my almost religious morning coffee like you have no idea, I guess it has to do something with being a 100% morning person.  I then begin the more “professional” part of my day, I go to work, take pictures, meet with my team, see what other creative ideas we can add to the book. I lunch with my family, friends, or teammates, and get back to work. In the afternoons, if I´m not going somewhere like the movies, the theatre, an art opening, or just dinner with some friends, I like to go somewhere quiet and read. I love spending time alone, I like to think about my day, my week, my month and the upcoming events. I guess what I want to say is that I try to live every day in a way where if I happen to die, well, I died experiencing the life I wanted to live.

4. Describe your desk/workspace.

A mess! I’ve got famous quotes, pictures, pieces of fabric, postcards, cool photography, magazine cut-outs, pictures of places I want to go to, or moments I love to remember. Anything that inspires me!

5. Favorite books

The Alchemist, Pride and Prejudice, The Shack, Break of Dawn, Eat Pray Love

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

I`m a very extreme person, and not in the x-games kind of way. I`m very profound and I love to analyze life`s mysteries and enigmas. There are very few thing I enjoy more then a deep meaningful conversation, even if it`s only with myself. HOWEVER, I´m also sort of a party gal. I love parties! I love to laugh, I love to dress up, I love to be with my friends and just enjoy our company. I looove to go out and explore the night, see where it takes you, or who you meet, I love it!  Some of my most interesting experiences have been nocturnal. And when I question myself about this contradiction, my answer has always something to do with: “I guess I´ve got so much energy and emotions on the inside that dressing up, partying, joking, and laughing with my friends, is just another way of expressing them. Now how I manage to be both profound and a party-girl is the story of my life. Because I most certainly cannot live without either one, they`re both part of my essential nature, it´s what makes me…me.”

7. Favorite quote

“God doesn’t play dice” Albert Einstein

8. Best and worst part of being a writer

Best: WRITING!!! Finding a way to express the gigantic amounts of energy, feelings, ideas, visions, etc, inside of you is in my opinion one of life’s best experiences!

Worst: Promoting. Since I did not write this book to make money out of it, I feel very odd promoting it. I don’t really care if it sells, I care if it helps people and I care that it can be available for people who might need it.

9. Advice for other writers

Don’t try to copy other successful writers’ technique. Don’t write thinking about the reader, or sales, or reviews. Just write down what comes out of your heart, regardless of what happens. Write it for you! Write for the thrill of writing itself. Then will a very authentic piece come out you, even if nobody but you gets it. Remember, many successful people were never understood, yet they changed the world by creating such wonderfully unique things.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.

When I was writing this book, since it wasn´t meant to be a book but rather a therapy, I started out questioning myself: what was I really afraid of ? What was really bothering me? What was I really crying and grieving about? What was my life about or life itself about? Every night I would turn on my computer infuriated, I would begin writing with complete and utter rage, and as the time passed and the words started to more easily flow through me, as I started to get some answers and come across some very similar stories, as I little by little began to discover my refuge, a strange yet overwhelming peaceful comfort would ardently run through me. Major problems would remarkably feel like insignificant parts of the joyride of life. And as the sun would begin to rise, so would my mood. My family would begin to wake up and find me laughing or just filled with utter joy. Something that was not very well taken in the middle of such a chaotic family crisis.

Where can people buy your book?

more on the A-typical (Type A) writer, depression, OCD, etc.


The original post on this topic sure garnered some interesting and lengthy discussion. I would love to continue it. I’m still trying to find that fabulous NPR program (I originally heard it back in 2003 or 2004) but in the meantime, I found this one. I haven’t listened to it yet (I’m headed out to an appointment with my therapist of all people! Good timing!) But the title sounded cool:

“To Be an Author, Suffering Doesn’t Hurt”