Tag Archives: 10 QUESTIONS FOR…

10 QUESTIONS FOR…Michele Wahlder, author of “Alphatudes: The Alphabet of Gratitude”

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Author interview with Michele Wahlder

Michele Wahlder is a certified life coach, career counselor, licensed psychotherapist, motivational speaker and gratitude enthusiast. She is the founder of Life Possibilities, LLC, a company that guides people to become the highest vision they hold for themselves in their lives, careers and relationships through the vehicles of coaching, seminars and books. She holds an MS in Counseling and Development from Texas Woman’s University and a BA in Communications from Tulane University. Wahlder has worked with numerous organizations, including Match.com, The Nielsen Company, Lucent Technologies and Girls, Inc., to improve individual performance and organizational effectiveness.

Honored as the Global Spokesperson for Bayer’s Global MS Campaign, Wahlder is a dynamic media guest who has appeared in numerous print, radio, and television outlets including WFAA-TV’s Good Morning Texas, KDAF-TV’s The 33 News, CBS and CNN Radio. She has served as a contributing expert for publications such as Fitness magazine, Dallas Morning News, Texas Jewish Post, and Dallas Child.  Wahlder lives in Dallas, Texas, with her fiancé Michael, “bonus daughter” Zoe and Portuguese water dog Moses.

Alphatudes is her first book.

1. Tell us about your latest book.

Alphatudes: The Alphabet of Gratitude—26 Solutions to Life’s Little Challenges, reveals the unexpected and simple secret to living a joyful life: gratitude. In a world obsessed with negativity, we must deliberately choose to focus our attention toward the positive.

The good news is the homework is already done! Alphatudes utilizes your earliest grade school victory—the ABCs—to elicit a sustainable shift in your thinking and outlook on life. This book will help you:

  • Heighten your awareness and appreciation of life’s daily gifts
  • Attract opportunities with a positive mind-set
  • Surmount life’s challenges with a healthy reservoir of gratitude
  • Find the hidden blessings in difficult situations
  • Free yourself from worry, negativity and resentment

* In honor of Alphatudes, Olivia Newton-John has given a free song download of her beautiful song, “Grace and Gratitude” with purchase.

2. How did you get started as a writer?

I had been writing in newsletters, my journal and for professional trade journals for years. Alphatudes is my first writing/book for public consumption! The inspiration for Alphatudes: The Alphabet of Gratitude, my first book, came to me in a most unlikely way.  I wasn’t feeling grateful at all.  In fact, I had been going through a period of disrupted sleep and was quite cranky over my inability to sleep soundly.  I had tried many different techniques, but none had worked. On one particular night, while lying in bed, the concept of gratitude entered my thoughts.  I spontaneously started thinking of things I was grateful for using the structure of the alphabet –it was easy and fun! Counting my blessings instead of counting burdens or sheep, turned out to be a habit that had begun to affect my outlook on life in a productive and positive way. I shared the process with clients and friends and they found the process changed their lives for the better. I wanted to share it with a larger audience and began writing Alphatudes.

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

I wake up, meditate or read, then let my dog Moses outside, get a cup of tea and then the two of us cuddle up on a chair while I begin my day of writing, answering emails and coaching. I usually find time in the day to get at least one walk or bike ride in.

4. Describe your workspace.

My workspace is filled with warm yellows, reds and greens. I have a big yellow leather chair that I coach and sometimes write from.

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

Recently, The Help by Kathrine Stockett, Everyday Holiness by Alan Morinis and Now Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham.

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

My mother was the Israeli poster girl and that is how my Dad found her.  I am Jewish but went to a Catholic High School.  When I was little I had three horses that all died.

7. Favorite quote:

Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it. Mark Twain.

8. Best and worst part of being a writer

The best part is writing, the worst part is rewriting, again and again.

9. Advice for other writers

Work with a subject that inspires you to push through the challenges that inevitably come up on the way to publication.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.

I went to BEA in NYC searching for a publisher for Alphatudes. After a day of being frustrated and not getting anywhere I went to a Broadway show that evening. While in the ladies room at the show, I met a woman who was an author representative and learned a lot in a conversation with her about how to proceed. You never know where you might serendipitously meet up with divine assistance.

Where can people buy your book?

The book can be purchased on-line at the Alphatudes store through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders or direct through Life Possibilities at: www.alphatudes.com

For more information about me or life & career coaching, more information can be found at:  www.lifepossibilities.com

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10 Questions for Christy Strauch, “Passion, Plan, Profit”

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Author interview with Christy Strauch

1. Tell us about your latest book.

My latest book (as compared to the first two I wrote which are still, blessedly, in my desk, never to see the light of day), is a business plan book for right-brained creative people who want to make money and have a prosperous business doing the work they love; but are afraid of the “business side” of business.

2. How did you get started as a writer?

I have been writing on and off since I was twelve. I finally caught fire when I joined the Phoenix chapter of Romance Writers of America ten years ago (I was an avid romance reader at the time). Surrounded by people who actually finished and published books (whatever you think about romances and their writers, you can’t argue with the fact that they are prolific); I learned that the key to a completed book is the formula Ass+Chair (attributed to the film director Oliver Stone).

I wrote two novels (see the answer to number one above about where they ended up); then realized I wanted to write non-fiction. Specifically I wanted to share my experiences in my own businesses, and help other people succeed. I took what I learned about perseverance from my romance writer buddies and finished the business plan book, and am halfway through the next one: The “I Hate to Market” Book.

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

Writing isn’t my only day job. I am also a business coach and workshop leader. The ideas for my books come from clients, so even though I love writing, I don’t think I’ll ever stop coaching and teaching to write full time.

4. Describe your desk/workspace.

I wage a weekly war with paper on my desk. Sometimes I win, sometimes not. I signal to myself when it is time to write by perching a painted wooden crab at the top of my laptop screen. This helps me ignore the paper if it won this week’s battle, and reminds me that I am now in writing time.

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

I love Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott; Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg, and The Artist Way by Julia Cameron.

The Artist Way created the foundation for my writing; it taught me to think of myself as creative. Natalie Goldberg’s book is full of low-risk, no-judgment exercises that got me started writing regularly. Annie Lamott’s book helps me remember that all I have to write next is what’s in front of me; I don’t have to knock out War and Peace by 5pm today. I strongly recommend these books to anyone who wants to write (and to writers who might occasionally get stuck).

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

I got (because I asked for) a ukulele for Christmas in 2008, and am teaching myself to play it. I used to own a computer company, and I have big, lovely feet.

7. Favorite quote

Besides the “Ass plus chair” quote attributed to Oliver Stone, I also like this one from Anne Lamott:

“For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.”

8. Best and worst part of being a writer

The best thing is about writing is the creating of something (a story, a how-to book like mine, a memoir, a poem or any other piece of writing) that didn’t exist before the writer wrote it. Writing is just like painting or dance or singing or even building construction; writers create something that didn’t exist before they put it on paper.

The worst part about writing is that the creation process is a bit mysterious and somewhat uncontrollable. My wooden crab and I show up to write regularly (that’s the part I can control), but there’s no guarantee that we’ll actually create anything worth reading. I show up to serve what needs to be written through me, and try not to get too freaked out if occasionally I can’t write anything, or I don’t like what I’m writing.

9. Advice for other writers

I have two pieces of advice. First; treat your writing as sacred. Give it regular time; don’t relegate it to the bottom of your to do list so that you only do it when absolutely everything else is done. It’s like exercise. If you only get out and walk or do your run once every other week, it never gets easier. Exercising and writing are most enjoyable when you make time for them almost every day.

The second piece of advice: give your unconscious mind time to work. My books explain (sometimes complex) concepts to my readers; many times when I start the first draft, I can’t figure out how to explain clearly what I want to say. So I go for a walk, read something that pertains to the work I’m doing, call someone, or work on something else for a few minutes. My unconscious almost always works out the problem on its own while I’m letting it alone to think.

I try to treat my writing gently. It’s a paradox: I have to be ruthless in setting aside time to write, and I have to be kind to myself as I’m doing it.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.

I really (really really) want my book to change the lives of people who are struggling to create prosperous businesses doing the work they love.

Right before the book was actually printed, I realized that I was terrified about it being published. What if it didn’t help people? What if they didn’t do the work in the book? What if it was a big failure? Part of me wanted to change my mind and not go through with publishing it.

At the same time I was struggling through my writerly angst, the printer was sending my publisher the proof of the book, and we absolutely couldn’t get a clean copy. It took six rounds of proofs to finally get one free of errors (free of at least the errors we knew about).

Two of my author friends, Sam Beasley and Suzanne Lorenz, who wrote a brilliant book called Wealth and Well-Being, talked me off the ledge. Theirs is also a workbook, and they’d already come to the realization that they couldn’t force people to do the work in their book either. They told me that I’d done my job; I’d written the book. I couldn’t control what happened to it after that.

My publisher got the clean proof the day after my friends helped me let go of worrying about the outcome of the book. It was as if my fear was participating with the printer in continuing to produce proofs with errors. Once I stopped worrying, we got the clean proof and published the book.

Where can people buy your book?

My book is for sale on Amazon. If you type “Passion Plan Profit” into the search box on the Amazon site, my book comes right up.

Christy Strauch is the author of Passion, Plan, Profit: 12 Simple Steps to Convert Your Passion into a Solid Business. In addition she is president of Clarity To Business and has worked with over 300 small business owners, from artists to real estate agents, helping them do what they are passionate about – and make a profit. Her book is available at Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/Passion-Plan-Profit-Simple-Business/dp/0984055703

10 QUESTIONS FOR…C. Ellene Bartlett, author of “Letters to Rosy”

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Author interview with C. Ellene Bartlett, Author “Letters To Rosy”

Clarkeston, Georgia (a suburb of Atlanta) was thrilled to announce the birth of  C. Ellene Bartlett on a bright sunny afternoon on August 26, 1935. After WWII my family moved to Stockbridge, Georgia, a small town where I spent my grammar school days trekking the fields and woods with my brother and first cousin.  After graduation, I married a southern gentleman and produced two children.  The marriage did not work and divorce was imminent.  I met and married an Air Force sergeant. The 34- year marriage yielded an onsite education for my children and me.  It allowed us to traveling throughout the States plus four years in Berlin, Germany. Working with and socializing with it’s citizens taught us their customs, likes and dislikes. The memories are priceless. My husband passed away and years later, I met my soul mate and now we reside in New Port Richey, Florida.

1. Tell us about your latest book.

“Letters To Rosy” is an emotional release for two aging women; one, Rene Dubois in Germany and Roselee Payton in the USA.  Rene is tortured with the memory of her friend Ken Mitchell, the premature death of his wife and the disappearance of his precious daughter Sasha.  Rosy was so relieved to hear from her childhood friend and tossed caution to the wind.  She wanted to tell the story of Mendy, the third member of the teen years of fun and mischief. With tears so near the surface, she started her story of Mendy’s disappearance along with Misty, her six-year-old daughter.  Unaware of the abduction, Trevor, Mendy’s husband had a torrid encounter with a seductive redhead.  Mendy’s rape, witnessed by Misty, was so horrible it thrust Misty’s mind into a dangerous state of denial. This abduction was the product of a sick-minded schoolmate who sought revenge for an act that would force him to have a limp the remainder of his life.

2. How did you get started as a writer?

There are so many possible stories in the small towns of anywhere USA that I thought would make interesting reading.  I had no training in the art of book writing.  One evening, we had friends over for dinner and I ask John how I could write a book.  He asked me, “Do you like to write letters?”  “Yes, I do.”  “Well then, write letters telling your story.”  That is how I started writing.

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

We are up at 5:30am.  I read the paper to my husband, who is blind from Wet Macular Degeneration and have two cups of coffee.  At 6:45 daily, I get dressed and take my husband to the golf course to enjoy a few hours of relaxation with the men.  His game of golf is still sharp.  He has enough peripheral vision to execute a mean golf stroke.  On Monday and Wednesday, I golf 9- holes with the girls.  On Saturday, my husband and I golf in a couple’s league. Afterwards it home for lunch then chores, ie, laundry, cleaning, shopping and household accounts to post.  I manage to set aside some time for my writing.  I am near finished with my second book.  I stop writing by 4:00 pm and spend the evening with my husband.

4. Describe your workspace.

We live in a senior’s park and our manufactured home has two bedrooms, one is mine.  My computer is nestled on one side of the room.  The light comes in the windows facing the West in the mornings and the sun beams in those windows in the afternoons.  It is a quite and pleasant place to work.

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

At the onset of my writing, I read many, many instruction books and books listing advice from famous published authors.  I subscribe to the Writers Digest, which I love.  As for books for enjoyment, I read, Dean Koontz, Victoria Holt, Danielle Steel and John Grisham.

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

1.  While appointed to work in an area project office, set up by the Welfare Department in Baltimore, Md., to better that community, one day I was alone in the office and a young man stopped by to chat.  I was 19 at that time and the young man was a little younger than that.  He visited the office several times but it was no big deal to me so I never mentioned it to my superior as numerous people in the neighborhood did the same.  When I did mention it, my boss turned pale and had to sit down.  I asked him what was wrong.  He told me the nice young man was the leader of a deadly gang in that area.  The next week, I stayed late at work to help with a function in another neighborhood.  When my duties were completed, I had to take a bus or two in order to get to my home section.  The first leg of the trip was over and I had to walk several blocks to my next connection.  The street was dark with the exception of a lamppost in the middle of the block.  I saw about eight or nine males, of varying ages, gathered around that lamppost.  Panic began to take over.  However, there was no option but to march right up to the men and ask for directions to my next bus stop.  To my amazement, the men stopped talking and directed me to the bus stop.  I arrived home safely and to this day I believe the young man tested me those times he stopped by and put the word out that I was okay  and to leave me alone.

The moral to this story is:  Do not jump to conclusions about the people you meet, accept them the way they are.

2.  At age 8, during WWII, we lived in Atlanta, Ga.  There lived down our street two eccentric sisters.  One stopped at our house periodically to phone the Mayor complaining of one thing or another. There was an alleyway alongside their house that she owned small tenant houses.  The kids, and some adults, tormented the sisters because they were different by warring long black dresses and big bows in their hair and their makeup poorly administered.  In defense of the sisters, my, so called friends, dared me to go visit them.  My bravado took over and I agreed to do it, thoroughly convinced they would never lay eyes on me again.  The well-remembered visit turned out well with an invite into their home with a real treat of homemade peanut brittle. She pointed out the damage people had done to her beautiful Grand piano by throwing a brick thru her picture window.  It broke my heart.  I felt so sorry for the sisters and got angry with the kids, and grown ups for doing such a dreadful thing. When I returned unharmed and my bravery still raging I let into the kids and told them sternly to leave the sisters alone they were very nice people.  Years later, my mother sent me an article stating the sisters were arrested for tax evasion.  A strip search, by the police on their arrest, yielded $40,000.00 in small tobacco sacks pined to their undergarments.

The moral to this story is: Don’t judge a book by its cover.

3.  My girlfriend and I took a night trip to spy on her x-husband.  He lived on a lonely dark road in the country.  We were sneaking up the road from where she had parked the car.  Meanwhile, her X had recognized the sound of ‘glass packs’ on her car and knew what she was up to.  Don’t ask me what glass packs are, I don’t know, but I think it is a device put on the mufflers to make a significant sound.  They were popular in the late 50’s and early 60’s.  With anxious anticipation of catching him red-handed at mischief, we quietly eased our way into his yard.  We did not notice a big bush harboring the potential victim.  He pounced out and yelled, “What are you doing here?”  We were the blunt of our own mischief and were scared out of our senses.  We ran laughing back to the car with wet panties and cold to the bone.

The moral to this story “leave sleeping dogs lie”.

7. Favorite quote

“Follow your dreams, if you believe, anything is possible” I do not know who wrote it or if the wording is the same.

8. Best and worst part of being a writer

The best part of being a writer is the freedom to pretend and live the story you are putting on paper and hearing someone say, “I loved it”.

The worst part of writing is getting enough lone time to really progress in the story without interruptions.

9. Advice for other writers

Read my favorite quote, “follow your dream, if you believe, anything can happen”.  Man or woman, both have pretended as a child, the woman was a beautiful princess rescued by the handsome prince, the man, a handsome warrior or a fearless cowboy.  We all pretended so pretend again. Submerge yourself into your story and write what you want to happen.  Never give up on the first try.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.

I was extremely proud at the finish of “Letters To Rosy”.  My daughter read the book and called me a “bitch” for her loss of sleep to finish the book.  My daughter and I are the best of friends.   Other people have also said they could wring my neck for the same reasons.  I get all pumped up and then get a bad review and it seems that my world was invaded.  However, I take the bad reviews, turn them into something positive and carry on.

Writing was so new to me; I thought I could just write a book, get it published and live happy ever after as a rich woman.  Wrong!  We ran into and accepted help from the wrong people, searched the internet for some honest help with our plight and finally we found someone we were comfortable with and trust that their best interest were for us. I don’t know how to toot my own horn and Query Letters are my hang up.

Did you ever have a party and no one showed up?  That happened to me at a book signing.  I’m all dressed up in my best finery, strutting around like a Miss Aster, and no one shows up.  It is very disappointing, but at least I got a chance to dress up and feel like the most important person on the planet.

Where can people buy your books?

amazon.com,  letterstorosy.com, dogearpublishing.com

There is a book trailer on YouTube. Look for “Letters To Rosy”

10 QUESTIONS FOR… Deborah DeNicola, “The Future That Brought Her Here”

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Author interview with Deborah DeNicolaCover-MediumDeNicola

Deborah DeNicola‘s memoir The Future That Brought Her Here is from Ibis Press 2009. She has six previous books, including the anthology she edited. A new collection of poems, Original Human, is scheduled for 2010. Among several other awards, she received a Poetry Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.  Deborah studied dream work at The Jung Institutes in Boston and Zurich and trained with Robert Bosnak. Her web site is: www.intuitivegateways.com

1. Tell us about your latest book.

My latest book is my spiritual memoir, The Future That Brought Her Here; Memoir of a Call to Awaken. It’s the story of a normal, struggling, single woman who finds one day she has new senses, can see through her closed eyes, has visions and senses changes in energy. I have been meditating for over 20 years and when new senses emerged, I began a quest for what was behind our 3-D reality. This quest consisted of reading, going to channeling sessions and asking spirits what was happening to me as well as traveling through  synchronicity to other countries. My excursion to Southern France to follow the mystery of the Black Madonnas takes up the latter half of the book.

The book contains medieval history, science, and occult mysteries as well as a personal story of healing from my father’s death when I was an adolescent. It’s also about creative process and dreaming and dream image work.  At the end I come to some conclusions about where human evolution is going and ways to be in the world, living the ideals of A Course in Miracles. It actually took me 8 years to write and I started it as a novel because I was an “academic” and didn’t want to step out of the metaphysical closet. The story and writing the story helped me come to terms with some of these experiences.                     

2. How did you get started as a writer?

I’ve written every since I learned to write. I think it might have helped that I had an older brother who wrote and he was like my mentor/tormentor. He’d assign me certain books to read and I just accepted him as my  teacher. We subscribed to the old “Classics Illustrated” which were wonderful comic books of the Great Canon.  As a kid I used to write mostly stories and didn’t start writing  poetry till adolescence, of course, love poems came first.

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

Currently I’m busy marketing my book and my dream process workshops as well as my mentoring new writers. I do two things: I help people process dreams, discover meaning, amplify their dreams, and relate them to issues in their current life. I also help writers develop material, create their book with exercises in writing, edit their work, and find the order and sequence of their experiences. My days vary considerably depending on what I’m working on.

I had a schedule when I was writing the book steadily and teaching. Almost three years ago I came to Florida from Boston because my mother was ill. I ended up staying because of her. All my belongings are still in storage in Boston. I moved in with her to help her. I realized it was a time I could also move to change my career. I’d been an adjunct professor teaching as many as 6 courses a semester and going away to writing colonies on fellowships when I had some breaks.

I found a huge holistic and spiritual community in Florida (of all places, I was quite surprised!) Then I found a publisher here, so in many ways, though I still miss Boston’s intellectual community, I feel I was led here . I’m living completely in the moment now. Every day I network, spend many hours on the computer but I also dance three hours a week, go to the ocean frequently and try to stay balanced. I’ve had another book of poetry accepted since I’ve been here; Original Human is coming out in 2010. And an earlier chapbook, Inside Light, was published the year after I arrived.  Florida’s been good to me. I am somewhat free to pursue writing and marketing and somewhat tied down with an ill 93 year old mother. (Another book to write!)

I have been working on a book of essays on Dream Image Work and I think it’s halfway finished.

4. Describe your workspace.

I have a wonderful red bookcase from Ikea that is the center of my study. I have a MAC laptop and desk and several filing cabinets. I try to keep conscious of the concepts of Feng Shui so I get the maximum out of my work hours in energy. I’m very aware of energy in a room and how clear it is, how supportive. Here’s a tip, keep your north-west corner uncluttered as it’s your money area. I have, of course, piles of clutter elsewhere.

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

Let me start with favorite writers. Oh, so many. I love contemporary fiction, read all nationalities but I am also a classic scholar. All the Greek material; I read and taught Ovid, Homer, the major Greek playwrights. I compiled and edited an anthology of contemporary poetry on Greek myths called Orpheus & Company, published by University Press of New England. It had some course adoption which was nice for me.  The Harvard Review called it “An important book.” As much as I could I taught what I loved or was interested in, the poetry of Rumi and Rilke, the Romantics, the Moderns, poetry being my first love.

I designed and taught a class on the literature of war which deeply moved me. It struck me that Homer’s Illiad , the first book in Western Civilization, says everything that’s ever been said about war, it’s glory and it’s horror. I have been troubled to understand this dichotomy. I read a lot of Viet Nam novels, a lot on the Serbo-Croatain tragedies, and the literature of the Holocaust.

For some reason I was drawn to try and understand the concept of evil. In many ways, my book looks for answers to that question. I believe we are all One, living in the illusion of separation. I’m a Course in Miracles practitioner. Fear and ignorance of our true spiritual connection are basically the reasons we don’t treat each other well. The lack of understanding that everything we think and feel has a frequency that attracts situations to us is probably to blame. I think however, that as bad as the world looks, these ideas are spreading exponentially. Spirituality has exploded into its own industry. Then of course there is the topic of religion, man-made institutions that have failed. Okay, so I’m off-task. Naming favorite books . . .

Tim O’Brien’s The things They Carried is a wonderful book on writing as much as it is on war. It’s about story telling, how to tell a war story. And as addicted to drama as humanity is, this book teaches so much. I was a French major in college so I love a lot of the big nineteenth century French novels by Zola, Balzac and Stendhal. I recently read a wonderful novel by A Mexican author, Thomas Louis Urrea, The Hummingbird’s Daughter.  I love all the South  American poets, Neruda being the be-all and end-all for me. And as for South American novelists, no one can top the late Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Then for Americans, oh, the whole lot of Fitzgerald, some of Hemingway, and their short stories. The short story form in general, is so unappreciated by the public, except, of course, for M.F.A. students . . . Flannery O’Conor, Cheever, Updike,  Faulkner, Katherine Mansfield that whole generation . . . then Ann Beattie, Joyce Carol Oates (although I o.d.ed on her) Tobias Wolf, Alice Walker, Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, is a book I’ve read several times.

I could go on an on, but I’ll just add that one of my favorite contemporary novels is Ann Padget’s Bel Canto and I recently read and loved the story collections of  Jhumpa Lahiri, Interpreter of Maladies and  Unaccustomed Earth.

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

(A) Well, I do dream work. I think it’s one of the most important things we need to do. The unconscious mind is a treasure trove. And if we can take back and own our projections, and realize everything in our dreams, atmosphere, landscape, objects, figures, are ALL US, we will see we all have the same fears and complexes. When we make those conscious, we have more compassion for ourselves and others. We can’t change others, we can only change ourselves, change our reactions to stimulus of our separation. I fervently believe this. But it is so difficult to change our neuron pathways because our unconscious mind does not always believe what we consciously want to create. We do create our reality, but we create it unconsciously a lot of the time and therefore we project and have conflict and war and injustice. Working on your dreams and making them conscious shows you what you really are feeling, what is sabotaging your plans, as well as what you could become. The unconscious is extremely wise. But it speaks a different language. We must learn the language. It is universal. We all dream and dreams take us out of our reality to another reality. If we live to be 80 we’ll have spent 20 years dreaming. It only makes sense to try and make sense out of our dreams.

I have learned a process that reveals meaning rather than “interprets it.” It is experiental and emotional, and it works.

 (B) I’m a poet. Everyone knows poets are crazy. No one pays them. We agonize over whether to put an “and” or a “but” for hours, days maybe and no one cares but us. But poetry, like life, contains ambiguity. And poetry resolves paradox; it holds the opposites in tension where they can produce a reconciling image. It’s the ultimate healer. It’s also greatly expressionistic of our most intense emotions. Poetry heals, especially its dark side, heals. We get to experience in the moment, which is where we need to be. It’s actually not that crazy, though mainstream people have no idea what it’s about. But when someone writes poetry, to be in the act of it, puts you totally in the moment and the unconscious delivers. it’s like channeling. One is given so much solace. Poetry is addictive, in a good way. And it has correspondences with dreaming, so it seems natural to me as I love imagery.

(C) My third eye is open. My book goes into this. I’ve been meditating over 20 years and one day during meditation I saw an eye looking back at me. I also became aware of invisible presences around me. This awakening is at the heart of my story. The Future That Brought Her Here  is a quest to understand what had happened to me, is happening to me. I’ve acquired senses I never had, although I did have imaginary friends when I was very young, and now it makes me wonder . . . I was never interested in the occult, always frightened of it actually. However, I was led on a fascinating journey, calling me to different locations where I had different experiences, Israel, Colorado, France. I read a lot of history of the occult and then quantum physics. I studied near death experiences, the world between worlds, and I believe my visions are related to past lives. I found a British physicist , Rupert Sheldrake, who writes about the Presence of the Past. I came to some amazing conclusions and then found that there are thousands, maybe millions of people on similar spiritual journeys, different symptoms but we all agree that humanity is evolving and we are in for great changes of our whole civilization. I will leave it al that . . . hopefully tempting you to read my book.

7. Favorite quote 

C.G.Jung:  “Unless the unconscious is made conscious on the inside, it will happen on the outside, as fate.”

8. Best and worst part of being a writer

Best—it’s so enriching, so satisfying to feel you’ve expressed what you intended, such a healing release. And then the added bonus—other people like it!

Worst—it’s lonely. Although I’ve been in a lot of writing groups, the ultimate work is done alone and requires long hours. Two other worsts, (“worse and worser” . . . ) very few writers make a lot of money, even if they’re good. And the “worser”, it’s hard work.

9. Advice for other writers

Read. Read before you write. Read and write every day. Don’t become a writer unless you can’t help it.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.

Well, I once drove 300 miles to read to one person. But that’s a reading experience? Hmm… I once stopped making love, to jot down some notes . . .  how’s that?

Where can people buy your books?

You can get my book online through my distributor, http://www.redwheelweiser.com/ just put in the title or my name in the search box. Also on amazon.com and bn.com. My publisher’s web site:

http://www.nicolashays.com  I’ve read at Borders here, but not every Borders may have it, though you can order it. And the same with Barnes and Nobles. If there’s a spiritual bookstore near you, they should have it.  My web site www.intuitivegateways.com lists my books and blurbs, will direct you to them although I don’t sell them from there.

**

Deborah DeNicola is the author of five poetry collections and she edited the anthology Orpheus & Company; Contemporary Poems on Greek Mythology. Among other awards she won a Poetry Fellowship in 1997 from the National Endowment for the Arts. Deborah has been a recipient of many writing colony residencies. Her most recent book is her spiritual memoir published by Nicolas Hays/Ibis Press, The Future That Brought Her Here. Another full collection of poetry Original Human is forthcoming from Custom Word Press in 2010. She teaches dream image work and mentors writers online at her web site www.intuitivegateways.com.

For a limited time, you can purchase The Future That Brought Her Here from Amazon and receive bonus gifts. Click here for details: http://www.thefuturethatbroughtherhere.com/bonusoffers/ To learn more about this virtual blog tour, please visit: http://virtualblogtour.blogspot.com/2009/10/future-that-brought-her-here-by-deborah.html

10 QUESTIONS FOR…mystery series author Elizabeth Zelvin

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Author interview with Elizabeth ZelvinLZheadshot FINAL150dpideathwillhelpyou

Elizabeth Zelvin is a New York City psychotherapist whose mystery series from Minotaur Books features recovering alcoholic Bruce Kohler. Death Will Get You Sober appeared in 2008. Library Journal called it “a remarkable and strongly recommended first novel.” Death Will Help You Leave Him is just out. One short story was nominated for an Agatha award; another appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine; a third is included in the holiday crime anthology The Gift of Murder, to benefit Toys for Tots.

1. Tell us about your latest book.

Death Will Help You Leave Him is the second in my mystery series about recovering alcoholic Bruce Kohler and his friends, computer genius Jimmy and world-class codependent Barbara. It’s all about bad relationships: domestic violence and being hooked on someone who’s in some way unavailable. When a friend’s abusive boyfriend is murdered in her apartment, she becomes the prime suspect. Bruce has to juggle the investigation, his sobriety, a crush on the bereaved girlfriend, and the lure of his compelling but destructive ex-wife, who’s on a collision course of her own. The sleuthing takes him to a funeral in Brooklyn, an Italian bakery, a lingerie boutique on Madison Avenue, and an art gallery in SoHo. In the end, he has to make some hard choices. And of course he finds the murderer.deathwillgetyousober

2. How did you get started as a writer?

I’ve wanted to be a writer since the age of 7, when I read L.M. Montgomery’s Emily of New Moon. Like Montgomery’s more famous Anne of Green Gables, Emily was a little orphan girl on Prince Edward Island, but Emily had a burning desire to write and took a lot of flak about it. I worked in publishing back in the days when every woman had to start as a secretary, hoping it would help me get a novel published, but I ended up editing accounting textbooks. Then I started writing poetry. I dreamed of publishing the first novel at 24, but it didn’t happen. I didn’t get published till my late thirties, though I eventually published two books of poetry. I wrote three mysteries that were agented but didn’t sell in the Seventies. My first novel finally came out on my sixty-fourth birthday.

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

I usually spend my whole day at the computer, flipping back and forth between my professional work (more about that below), writing, and the huge amount of networking and promotion that goes with being a writer nowadays. I wish I could say that I start working on the current manuscript without opening my email first, but I can’t. I’ve recently joined Facebook, and it’s already brought me promotion opportunities and maybe some readers, but I keep an eye on the clock and don’t let myself get lost in it. At some point I go out and run for an hour—around the Central Park reservoir when I’m at home in the city, someplace beautiful, preferably near water, anywhere else.

4. Describe your workspace.

I have two: one in Manhattan and the other in my little house on eastern Long Island. I’m in that one right now, and it’s my laptop on a little computer table looking out at my garden and bird feeders. When I look up, I also see a sign that’s my mantra for the first draft: “Just Keep Telling the Story!” That’s to stop me from trying to edit or censor myself before I get to the end. Revision comes later. In the city, it’s a desktop computer and a lot bigger desk, and I have my back to the window. When I look up, I’m looking at a portrait of my mother that an admirer painted in her youth. Family legend claims that his wife was so jealous she insisted on being there during the sittings. My mother was a lawyer and a big role model for me. She died ten years ago at the age of 96. She would have been thrilled about my novels but baffled that I chose to write mysteries. I don’t have the luxury of a room with a door I can close in either place, but I get the alone time I need, and that works for me. I don’t understand people who write their novels in Starbucks.

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

My very favorite book is Lois McMaster Bujold’s A Civil Campaign, which is part of the Miles Vorkosigan science fiction series. It’s a brilliant, laugh-out-loud funny cross between space opera and comedy of manners with some of the most memorable and lovable characters in fiction. The author I’ve discovered recently whose work I’ve enjoyed most is Ariana Franklin, who’s written Mistress of the Art of Death and two sequels about a 12th century woman pathologist in Henry II’s England. Again, it’s the endearing characters that get me every time.

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

1. I’m a shrink. I directed alcohol treatment programs and had a private practice in Manhattan for many years, but now, I do online therapy. I work with clients from all over the world by chat and email on my therapy website at LZcybershrink.com.

2. I’ve been to Timbuctoo. I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in West Africa in the Sixties and had a short but magical visit to this city that was a cultural and commercial center 500 years ago and now looks (or did when I was there) like a bunch of sandcastles in the desert.

3. I played Nashville this summer. At the mystery conference Killer Nashville back in August, the guest of honor, J.A. Jance, was given a gorgeous black guitar at the awards dinner. I borrowed it and sang “Long Black Veil,” which is probably the best paranormal murder ballad ever written.

7. Favorite quote

E.M. Forster’s tag for Howard’s End: “Only connect.” That’s what it’s all about for me, whether it’s as a writer, a therapist, a performer, or just a person: moving people to tears or laughter, listening—really listening—sharing myself and getting intimate glimpses of others.

8. Best and worst part of being a writer

The best part is those moments when the voice is coming through you from some mysterious place and all you have to do is write it down before it disappears. “The Muse,” or “inspiration” isn’t some abstract concept. Those are names writers in different eras have given to a very particular experience, when the words kind of tug at the inside of your head and you simply must get to pen and paper or a keyboard. For me, they have a maddening way of coming when I’m out running or in the shower. It’s a challenge to get them down when you’re, um, unclothed and dripping wet without frying the keyboard.

The worst part is the first draft—no contest. I’m an into-the-mist writer, not an outliner, and when I write the first draft, I’m driven by fear that I won’t be able to get to the end of the story. Sometimes it’s torture—the exact opposite of that “I am just a channel” state that’s the best part.

9. Advice for other writers

It takes talent, persistence, and luck to get published. To encourage the talent, you have to read, read, read and write, write, write. You can’t do anything about the luck except not quit five minutes before the miracle. Beyond that, it’s persistence, persistence, persistence. And get critique. Be willing to kill your darlings.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience. Can be funny, embarrassing, inspirational, etc.  

I wrote the first draft of my first mystery years before I finished it in 2002. It wasn’t published till 2008, and by that time it had undergone a lot of revision. In fact, I rewrote the whole thing before St. Martin’s offered me a contract. But the first scene, when Bruce wakes up in detox on the Bowery on Christmas Day and realizes he needs to change his life, struck me as just right, so I didn’t tinker with it beyond taking out an adverb or two when I realized they’re frowned on by writing mavens who think they weaken one’s prose. A lot of people, including my legendary editor, her assistant, a copy editor, and a proofreader had seen the manuscript before it was finally set in type. When I got the galleys, I knew any changes at that point would be expensive, so it would be better not to make any, except to correct any typos. When I got to page 2, I was horrified to see that the patients in the detox were smoking in bed, and the nun didn’t say a word about it. That was okay when I wrote the scene—as it was when I first worked on the Bowery—but not in 2008. I changed it.

Death Will Help You Leave Him is available in “brick & mortar” mystery, independent, and chain bookstores as well as online bookstores starting October 13. For more information about Liz and her books, check out her author website at www.elizabethzelvin.com. Liz blogs with other mystery authors on Poe’s Deadly Daughters at www.poesdeadlydaughters.blogspot.com and can be found on Facebook and MySpace.

 

 

10 QUESTIONS FOR “Thirsty” author Kristin Bair O’Keeffe

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Author interview with Kristin Bair O’KeeffeLayout 1KBOK_Color Bio Photo_High Res

I’m a writer, a writing teacher, and the curator of “Out Loud: The Shanghai Writers Literary Salon.” My work has appeared in a variety of publications, including the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Poets & Writers Magazine, The Baltimore Review, and The Gettysburg Review, and I write a monthly column about writing fiction for WritersontheRise.com. I live in Shanghai, China, with my husband and daughter. Thirsty is my first novel.

1. Tell us about your latest book.

Thirsty is the story of one woman’s unusual journey through an abusive marriage, set against the backdrop of a Pittsburgh steel community at the turn of the twentieth century. Klara Bozic marries young, immigrates to America, and discovers her husband is angry and abusive. She is a woman without a voice, a woman constrained by religion, class, gender, and economics, but still she has to figure out if she has the courage to change her path in life (a question we all come up against at one point or another). Thirsty is the story of her journey.

2. How did you get started as a writer?

I wrote my first poem—“The Hummingbird”—when I was eight. (I still have it.) After that I was obsessed with writing. I wrote poems, short stories, and during middle school, a series of parodic plays about my older sister and her friends. While other kids were dallying around at the mall, I was sitting under a tree scribbling in my journal. I majored in English and journalism as an undergrad at Indiana University, and studied poetry there with some amazing poets (including Lynda Hull and Yusef Komunyakaa). I wrote the first draft of Thirsty as my graduate thesis at Columbia College Chicago.

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

5:00 a.m. – Wake. Go to gym.

6:15 a.m. – Check email/Twitter/Facebook. Say hi to world. See what I missed overnight.

6:45 a.m. – Tully (my 20-month-old daughter) wakes.

6:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. – Tully time.

12:00 – 5:00 – Write. Ponder. Work.

5:00 – 7:00 – Tully time.

7:00 – 7:30 – Eat. Talk with husband.

7:30 – 10:00 – Write. Ponder. Work.

10:00 – 10:30 – Read in bed.

10:30 – Crash.

4. Describe your workspace.

My apartment in the French Concession area of Shanghai sits at the intersection of two streets: Wulumuqi Road and Anfu Road. Wulumuqi Road is still part of old China; here I can have a live chicken killed and plucked for dinner, get a couple of frogs skinned for lunch, or buy xiaolongbao from street vendors. Anfu Road represents new China; here I can sip a glass of wine at a French wine bar, have a slice of thin-crust pizza at an Italian restaurant, get my nails done, or have a silky dress made at an upscale tailor shop.

While I often hole up in my home office when I’m working hard on a project, I spend an equal amount of time in one of the many coffee shops at the intersection of Wulumuqi and Anfu roads. As a writer, I’m inspired by place, and there’s no better place for a little inspiration than this intersection in Shanghai, China. I see it all. (Then I write it down.)

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

Here are five books that have wowed me in the past couple of years. I’ve read all of them more than once:

  • · Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
  • · The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  • · Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
  • · The Known World by Edward P. Jones
  • · The Gathering by Anne Enright

(I also think that Steve Almond is inappropriately hilarious and should be read out loud to friends at least once a week, Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is brilliant, and Mark Haddon is a master of point of view.)

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

Between 1998 and 2002, I spent three seasons on a 588,000-acre ranch in New Mexico where I saw more bears and elk than people, learned to shoot a gun, and became a terrible, but passionate fly-fisherwoman.

I am Meat Loaf’s greatest fan. (I’ve seen him perform numerous times, grabbed his belly at a record label meet-and-greet, and served homemade meat loaf to friends for dinner before concerts.)

I suffer terrible vertigo.

7. Favorite quote

“’There is no use trying,’ said Alice; ‘one can’t believe impossible things.’ ‘I dare say you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.’” – from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

8. Best and worst part of being a writer

First drafts are excruciating for me; when I’m writing them I feel like I’m being turned inside-out. I love writing second (and third, fourth, fifth) drafts. That’s when the fun begins, when things flow, when I can really dive deep.

9. Advice for other writers

For me, there are two parts to being a writer:

1)   the mystery of discovering and writing stories

2)   the business of finding homes for those stories

Keep those two parts separate. Trust the mystery of your story as you’re writing it. Listen to it. Breathe it in. Breathe it out. See it in your dreams. Carry it on your daily walk to the river. And once you’ve got a story finished, believe in it. Then work hard to find a home for it.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience. 

I read everything I write out loud. Over and over again. Whether I’m alone in my office or sitting in a crowded restaurant. Last year I was reading a piece out loud in a local Shanghai coffee shop when I realized an entire table of Chinese teenagers was staring at me. The funny thing was, they weren’t bothered by the fact that I was reading out loud, but were listening to practice understanding English.

Where can people buy your book?

Thirsty has a great Web site and a very cool book trailer. Visit it at http://www.thirstythenovel.com. You can buy Thirsty at your local indie bookstore, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or the Swallow Press Web site. I’d be eternally grateful if you ran out and bought a copy right now. Then stop by my blog, leave a comment, or ask me a question (http://kristinbairokeeffeblog.com).

Follow Me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/kbairokeeffe

Friend Me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Kristin.Bair.OKeeffe

10 QUESTIONS FOR…”Spin” novelist Robert Rave (Aug. 18 release!)

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Author interview with Robert Rave, author of “Spin”41eDUO6oZtL._SS500_forbio

  1. Tell us about your latest book.

The book tells the story of Taylor Green, a corn-fed young man from the Midwest who stumbles into New York without a clue, a contact, or the proper wardrobe.  Through true serendipity (or possibly misfortune), he is hired by the outrageous Jennie Weinstein, the sleepless city’s most notorious public relations diva.

As he morphs into her most trusted assistant and confidant, Taylor is sucked into a whirlwind of restaurant openings, gossip, and fashion shows. Taylor is thrust into the center of a world he never knew existed: a world of sex, greed, power, drugs and famed ruled by Jennie Weinstein herself.  Under Jennie’s guidance, Taylor quickly discovers that there isn’t a catastrophe, betrayal, or personality that can’t be spun to suit a client’s needs.

The stakes only get higher, for as Taylor rapidly climbs New York’s social ladder, Jennie’s assignments become increasingly bizarre.

The perks are definitely sweet, but like all swag, it comes at a price…

2. How did you get started as a writer?

I’ve been writing stories ever since I can remember.  However, I wasn’t sure what to do about it.  When I was growing up in Illinois, writing professionally didn’t seem like a viable option.  When I moved to New York and began working in public relations, I started writing for my personal enjoyment as a creative outlet.  When you’re publicizing everyone else’s passions, it makes you wonder why you aren’t working on your own.

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

It always starts the same way—my two French Bulldogs waking me up around 6:15 a.m. to go outside.  This is immediately followed by a double espresso.  I’m self-admittedly an espresso addict. 

I hit the gym, catch up on the news/read blogs, stare at my Twitter page, and respond to emails.  I’m the type of personality that has to have all of the minutia complete before being able to sit down and write..  I also can’t write if my house is a mess.  So I guess you could say I need a clean house and a clean mind in order to create.

4. Describe your workspace.

My desktop is pretty minimal.  My iMac, an espresso cup, and a bottle of water.  Hanging on the wall in front of me is a framed print that reads “Get Excited and Make Things” and right below it is a vision board.  (I can almost see the eye rolls from my desk while typing that.)

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

Lately, I’ve really been enjoying Jen Lancaster and Caprice Crane—these two women are incredibly smart and funny.  I also enjoy David Sedaris.  I still love Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar and The Hours by Michael Cunningham.  Different books speak to you at different points in your life—so my favorite book five years ago may not even make my top five today.

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

While working as a publicist I always maintained a level of professionalism and never had any gaffes with celebrities.  It wasn’t until I left pr and was asked by a friend to be a volunteer celebrity escort at an awards dinner that I royally embarrassed myself.  I was assigned to Cynthia Nixon and David Eigenberg.  So instead of calling them by “Ms. Nixon or Mr. Eigenberg,” I referred to them as Miranda and Steve—their characters on Sex and The City.  I was horrified.  They were super gracious and didn’t even bat an eye or bother correcting me—I’m sure they could see the embarrassment on my face.

I was raised a meat and potatoes kid from a small Midwestern town and I recently became a vegetarian.  When I told my mom that I’d stopped eating meat and dairy she told me that I’ve been living in LA too long. 

I’m obsessed with the NY Times Real Estate section.

7. Favorite quote

If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

8. Best and worst part of being a writer

Best Part:  Telling the stories that you want to tell.

Worst Part: Re-writing—of course!

9. Advice for other writers

Keep at it.  We are in an age where there are so many ways to tell a story.  Most importantly, stay true to yourself because at the end of the day it’s your name out there and your story.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience. 

I wish I had some crazy story to relay about the writing of SPIN, but the reality is I worked extremely hard on it.  I never gave up, even when it looked as though the book would never see the light of day.  Something told me to keep going and that it would happen.

Where can people buy your book?

Please, please, please add me on Twitter.  http://www..twitter.com/RobertRave

I’m incredibly neurotic and need validation from total strangers to get me through the day.  Only kidding, sorta. 🙂

You can purchase SPIN at your favorite local bookstore or online at places like Borders, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc.

www.RobertRave.com