Tag Archives: relationships

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

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(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.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY

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.

FACT SHEET

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 www.murielgill.com or from the publisher direct online bookstore www.pdbookstore.com/comfiles/pages/MurielGill.shtml.

10 QUESTIONS FOR…J.L. Smith, “Reporting for Doodie”

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Author interview with  J.L. Smithheadshot2jpugh_book_0308_fnl_front

Reporting For Doodie is my first book and I am very excited about the reviews it’s been getting!  I also do a lot of freelance writing for various business owners.  I grew up in a very small town in Pennsylvania, but felt the fire inside and had to break loose!  I left the small town at an early age and never looked back (except to visit my siblings).  Now I live in paradise…Long Beach, CA…and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else!  It has everything and I love it!

1.    Tell us about your latest book.

My book is entitled “Reporting For Doodie:  One Grandmother’s Story of Commitment, Frustration and Unwavering Love”.  

What would you do if you were a (suddenly) single grandmother and both your daughter and son-in-law were deployed at the same time, leaving you as primary caregiver for your 2-year old grandson?  You’d do exactly what I did…Report for Doodie!

So many events inspired this book…some happy, some frustrating, some sad…but all life-changing.  My story starts with one incredibly funny incident that served as an epiphany to share my story.  This was not the first time I was “Reporting for Doodie”, but it was the first time I was doing it all alone.  Or so I thought…I discovered a secret vault filled with friends I never knew I had.  Sadly, I also lost a few along the way.

I found myself in the midst of an unexpected divorce, facing the possible loss of my home and making a major career change, when someone, somewhere took a look at my proverbial “plate” and thought…”there’s a little corner of her plate that isn’t taken, she needs a toddler to care for…oh, and at the same time, let’s throw in a rarely-heard-of medical condition to make her life even more interesting”.

I hope readers enjoy my account of how this beautiful child saved me from myself and how I used ‘The Secret” to channel the inner strength my mother gave me…all compliments of the U.S. Military.

2.    How did you get started as a writer?

My mother instilled the love of the written word in me, particularly through the words of Erma Bombeck; readers of my book have been comparing my style to hers…the ultimate compliment!!

So many events inspired this book…some happy, some frustrating, some sad…but all life-changing.  My story starts with one incredibly funny incident that served as an epiphany to write the book I had always dreamed of.

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

Up early…write anything…go to my ‘day job”…back home to write some more!

4.    Describe your desk/workspace.

Home office in one of my bedrooms.  White board on the wall that lists all my projects and their deadlines.  A “vision board” right in front of me with pictures (or other documents) depicting what I want…and will get…out of life!

5.    Favorite books (especially for writers)

Again…anything and everything written by Erma Bombeck.  Also enjoy the teachings of “The Secret”.  Anything that entertains me or makes me think.  That was the goal with my current book…making people laugh, cry and really think…and it’s been successful at doing that!

6.    Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

My book was inspired by an incident that happened with my grandson…he ran out the front door of my house – in front of all my neighbors – with my vibrator in his hand yelling: “Gramma…toy…BRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!

I got myself on the Oprah Winfrey Show with one well-crafted email.  They contacted me by phone within 3 hours and days later I was in Chicago for the taping of a segment on inspirational self-reinvention stories.

I got my first tattoo at the age of 50.  I was just separated from my husband, had reinvented myself – inside and out – and feeling fabulous at 50!!  I was visiting my siblings in PA and decided to get a tattoo on the back of my neck.  It means “life and birth” because I felt reborn.  I also drug my 2 brothers and my sister (who is 65) along with me and made them get their first tattoos too…what a day!

7.    Favorite quote

Now that’s a tough one…couldn’t name just one…but some of my favorites are scatters throughout my book.

8.    Best and worst part of being a writer

Best part:  being able to express yourself.

Worst part:  there aren’t enough hours in the day to write everything I want to!

9.    Advice for other writers

Follow your dream…don’t give up.  Everyone has a story inside them…just let it out!  When I got the first copy of my book – in draft form – I began shaking.  I’ll never forget that feeling!

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience. 

Again, I must revert to the vibrator story…it was included in Redbook Magazine recently in their embarrassing stories section.  Can you imagine????

Also, when writing my book on my new laptop, I lost the entire book – twice – with no backup due to computer problems.  I guess the third time really is the charm.  I think it’s because as time elapsed while recreating it, the best ending came about with my son-in-law back from Iraq safely. 

Where can people buy your book?

www.ReportingForDoodie.com

www.Amazon.com

10 QUESTIONS FOR…Elizabeth Fournier, author of “All Men are Cremated Equal”

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Author interview with Elizabeth FournierFournierElizabethHeadshot0309All Men Are Cremated cover art

Elizabeth earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communications and Broadcasting in 1991, and soon became a local radio personality at KBOO-FM in Portland. Elizabeth is currently the voice of the autopsy exhibit in the forensic wing at the United States National Museum of Medicine. You can also see her online as the Video Spokesperson for Chinook Winds Casino Resort. She and her dance partner, Scott, teach Ballroom Dance at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. Oh, and she’s also a full-time mortician.

1) Where did you get the idea to write a book about a blind dating spree by a woman in her 30s who happens to be a mortician?

It’s my life story. I live the mortician part daily, and unfortunately I lived the 77 blind dates, too. Thankfully it was for only a year!

I readily admit that my job title made dating more complex. Since I work in the funeral industry, my career choice made the whole dating situation somewhat awkward. I was always up-front about what I did for a living, because I wanted men to be in the loop before we met. But I also steered the conversation to other topics because my career was too often the focus when meeting people. The first date could easily turn into a question and answer session all about me. I was there to screen them, after all!

The idea to actually write the book came from my beloved father, a member of no less than three Catholic singles groups at the time. He decided this was fun he didn’t want to miss out on. It was his idea to number the dates, run down each thumbnail sketch to him on the phone before each date, and keep a journal of highlights. I would e-mail him after each date, and he kept encouraging me to share these e-mails with other women.

2) When did you write the book?

When I wrote “All Men Are Cremated Equal: My 77 Blind Dates,” I was newly married. After planning a wedding across the country in only five months, I decided I could do anything. So I promptly sat down at the keyboard after our return from New Jersey and cranked out my manuscript.

3) When coming up with your characters, did you base any of them on people you knew?

Most were real, and here’s the deal: I checked with friends to make sure I could identify them by name and characteristics. The women in my memoir are long-term, fabulous friends who are all important to the story. I confided in them, garnered support from them, and still love them all so much.

My merry group of mansion housemates are all real people, but their names are changed since I wasn’t able to contact anyone to gain permission. They portrayal is flattering, although I use different names out of respect for their privacy, in the event they wanted privacy.

The blind dates all have aliases. Their monikers correspond with their jobs. Names were changed to protect the rejected!

4) What do you think of the chick lit genre in general? Are you thrilled to be apart of it?

I love chick lit! I don’t read it exclusively, but I know who’s out there, what they’re writing about, and am also a sucker for late-night movies on the Oxygen Network.

Chick lit has created millions of new book lovers. Not only women, I might add. I get emails from male fans, too.

5) Tell us a story about your writing experience.

No one knew what to make of me. I have a stockpile or letters and e-mails from literary agents stating “not sure what to do with this.” That was such a common theme. The title was unique, the story was about a single girl in her 30s who wasn’t into Prada or Cosmos, and I’m a mortician. It just didn’t sound too sexy for most people. I did, however, find wonderful, brave souls with a vision who expressed great interest. I will always keep them in my prayers.

6) What newspapers or magazines do you read?

Daily reads are the Oregonian and the Washington Post online, monthly reads are Funeral Home and Cemetery News, Mortuary Management Magazine, and the Black Lamb. There are a few fun blogs I like to sneak a peak at if I have a spare five minutes.

7) What is your greatest achievement?

About 10 years ago I had a great paying job and was able to help three women working in prostitution get off the streets in San Francisco. I had served as the Chair of the Board for the Council for Prostitution Alternatives in Portland, Oregon five years prior to that, so I was aware of the challenge women on the streets face. They need options, and I was able to provide that for these women who truly wanted out of their current lifestyle. I know I made a tremendous difference in their lives, and I’m very proud to say they never looked back.

8) Do you believe in love at first sight?

Absolutely! I am a rainbow-and-ponyland sort of girl who loves love. I certainly feel that someone can walk in the sort of grace that resonates with our soul in a particular moment.  I believe this is rare, but extremely special gift. It is one that I have never received, but do know two people who have.

9) Do you have any irrational fears?

I have an irrational terror of shipwrecks. The skeletal remains of a large vessel laying on the bottom of the sea floor just plain scares the hell out of me. I also very much dislike really loud water in unnatural circumstances like hydro-electric power stations, lock gates, or mill races. Water alone is OK it is when it is pouring into machinery that I hate the noise and the rush of it.

10) What would you like to be your epitaph?

Inspired many to believe in humanity.

“All Men are Cremated Equal: My 77 Blind Dates” can be found on Amazon.com

Visit Elizabeth at http://www.elizabethfournier.com

10 QUESTIONS FOR…Cynthia MacGregor, author of 54 books!

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Author interview with Cynthia MacGregortnaydcomeonmom

My latest book is Come On, Mom, which is activities for mothers and daughters. But I prefer to talk about a quartet of books on the subject of divorce. After Your Divorce is for women contemplating divorce or recently divorced. The Divorce Helpbook for Kids is just what its name says—for kids whose parents are going through divorce or recently did. The Divorce Helpbook for Teens conveys much of the same info, but slanted to a somewhat older reader. And Jigsaw Puzzle Family is for kids one or both of whose parents have remarried.

 

My 54 published books: The Everything Get Your Baby to Sleep Book (Adams Media), Raising a Creative Child  (Carol/Citadel), Family Customs and Traditions (Fairview), Why Do We Need Another Baby? (Carol/Lyle Stuart), Mommy, There’s Nothing To Do (Berkley), 365 After-School Activities (Adams Media), Mommy, I’m Bored  (Carol/Citadel), Free Family Fun (Berkley), Everybody Wins (Adams Media), Totally Terrific Family Games (Berkley), Why Do We Have To Move? (Carol/Lyle Stuart), Why Do People Die? (Carol/Lyle Stuart), One Heart’s Opinion (Rubenesque Romances),  An Appetite for Passion (Rubenesque Romances), Creative Family Projects, Games, and Activities  (Carol/Citadel), Kids in the Age of Exploration (Power Kids/Rosen), The Abduction Prevention Library (Power Kids/Rosen), The Martial Arts Library (Power Kids/Rosen-pseudonymous), Mommy’s Little Helper: Christmas Crafts  (Meadowbrook), Octopus Pie (Maval), Mom, Inc. (Taylor Trade), Fun Family Traditions  (Meadowbrook), What Do You Know About Manners? (Meadowbrook), Moon Love (Rubenesque Romances), Night-Night (Conari), When I Grow Up, I Want to Be a Writer (Lobster Press), Divorce Helpbook for Kids (Impact), Divorce Helpbook for Teens (Impact), Good Clean Fun (Robins Lane), I’m at a Loss for Words (Adams), Thanks, Aunt Zelda (Lobster), The Cook-Ahead Cookbook (Bristol/Nitty-Gritty), The Naptime Book (Conari), Think for Yourself (Lobster), Little Indulgences (Conari), The I Love You Book (Conari), Jigsaw Puzzle Family (Impact), Betsy Ross’s Refrigerator (Seedling), Come on, Mom (Lobster), and After Your Divorce (Impact).

 

Freelance writing: Obviously books, including ghostwriting (not included in the list above), plus most anything else that will sell, from business-oriented stuff to…well, just about anything except grant proposals or super-technical stuff.

I also edit (again as a freelancer).

I live in South Florida, in a little village called Palm Springs, just outside West Palm Beach. Though I’m a native New Yorker, I’ve been down here long enough to have put down long roots and feel like a true Floridian.

1. Tell us about your latest book.

I’d rather tell you about the four I mentioned above. They were all pubbed by Impact Publishers, a lovely house to work with. AYD was co-authored by Bob Alberti, PhD, though in truth I wrote most of it.  I wrote the other three solo. As a divorced woman myself, I know about a lot of stuff in the  book firsthand. Likewise the info in DHK and DHT, since I have a (now grown) daughter who was two yrs old when I divorced. In a case of  history repeating itself, she divorced her first husband after having her first  two kids (she’s since had four more with husband # 2), and I got to go thru it all  again with her and her kids. I have many divorced friends as well,  and bits and pieces of their lives made their way into the books as well.

2. How did you get started as a writer?

I cannot remember a time when I didn’t write. I was probably only seven or eight when I co-opted my mom’s old typewriter and set it up on a bridge table in my room so I could write on it. A play I wrote at age nine was produced in summer camp. As a teenager I had poems and other writing published in the local weekly (in a suburb of NYC where I grew up) even before I became an unpaid writer for the paper—what today would be called an intern, though I don’t recall the term “intern” being used for anything but doctors back then.

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

Up at 5, sometimes earlier. Dressed and teeth brushed and all that stuff and put up a pot of coffee and right to my computer. Read/answer email and try to be done with it by 6. Read newspaper and try to be done with it by 7. Revise my to-do list and prioritize my day. Start working. Call my best friend some time after 8 and see how she is. Lunch around 10:45. A half-hour nap at some point. Wrap up in time to cook dinner and hopefully have it on the table at 6—though I don’t always succeed in that. What I work on throughout the day? There is no “typical” in answer to that question. Writing, editing, sending out manuscripts to editors, doing the scut work (e.g. bookkeeping, other non-creative stuff), maybe some of all of the above…it varies. Depends on whether I’m currently working on a book, whether I currently have a project in-house from one of my clients (for writing or editing) (or several projects from multiple clients) , whether I’m currently in the midst of a huge manuscript-marketing project, or what.

Saturdays and Sundays the routine is similar but not identical. Saturdays from 10 to around 11 you’ll find me at the  rehearsal of my theatre group, and Sundays you’ll find me leading  worship services for the  residents of an Assisted Living Facility from 10:30 to around 11, as I am also an ordained minister and at present my ministry is to the residents of Heron’s Run ALF. Otherwise, my Saturdays and Sundays are alike to the other days.

4. Describe your desk/workspace.

In a word: cluttered. And I HATE clutter.  But since moving five years ago from a house to a condo, I am dealing with a much smaller workspace and have little choice in the matter. My computer (a Mac G5), monitor, scanner, UPS, cable modem, Airport (wireless setup), and printer take up most of the room on my desk. Behind my chair is another desk, which houses my postage meter, scale, some reference books (plenty more in the closet, where you will also find copies of all my published books), envelopes, index cards, and other stuff.  Back to back with that desk is my Significant Other’s desk. Though he does a little writing too, primarily he is an eBay seller (and, like me, an ordained minister, though he currently does not have a ministry). Along one wall are six filing cabinets that house everything from  manuscripts to contracts to royalty statements to paid bills and other financial stuff to copies of some of the magazines I’ve edited. Also my stereo. I am a total show tune freak, although I often play classical as I cannot write or edit against background music with words, so if the work I am currently involved in is writing or editing (as opposed to manuscipt marketing or some other non-creative work) I will likely have classical music playing.

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

Ironically, my two all-time favorite books are novels: A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN and THE HUMAN COMEDY. I say “ironically” because I read little fiction,  overwhelmingly preferring nonfiction and especially humor (e.g. Dave Barry, the late Lewis Grizzard, and others of that ilk). My tastes in nonfiction apart from humorous are all over the map. I sub to PUBLISHERS WEEKLY to keep up on industry news and am forever being tempted by book reviews in it, then succumb to temptation and go online to Amazon.com to order whatever looks good.  No willpower! I just finished reading DEWEY (about a library cat) and started reading MOP MEN (about men who clean up after messy suicides, homicides, and accidents), and have the latest Dave Barry book on my nighttable, ready for me to delve into it next.

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

1 – I am an inveterate punster (wordplay), and mid-May of most years finds me in Austin TX, participating in the O. Henry World Championship Pun-Off, either as a contestant or a judge. I won second place one year—the best I’ve been able to do as a contestant. Last year I had too much work to get away, and this year I may have too little money. It’s been tight lately.

2 – I write for a hobby as well as for a living. The Palm Springs Players, my theatre group, produces plays I write—about four of them a year on average.  We do not charge admission, do not make any money from the performances…if anything it COSTS us money…for costumes, scenery, props. The Village of Palm Springs Leisure Services Department provides us the auditorium—we don’t pay them  and they don’t pay us—publicizes us,  gives us rehearsal space, but it’s strictly a labor of love. We aren’t allowed to charge money for admission and that’s OK. We’re doing it for the love of acting, writing, designing sets (that would be Christy—we couldn’t do it without her). Our current production (in rehearsal currently with a production date set for the end of March and two other tentative performances at other local venues—also for no money—under discussion) is our first drama; previous productions have all been either comedies or kiddie shows.

3 – My other main hobby  is cooking. I LOVE to cook…and to entertain. Mostly NOT big dinner parties but rather one or two people at a time. HOWEVER, three times a year—my birthday, Thanksgiving, and Christmas—I invite a huge number of people (35 or so may not sound “huge” to you, but you just try to cram them all in this little condo!) and cook up a storm! I am utterly exhausted by the time I serve dinner, but I LOVE doing it.

7. Favorite quote

 

“There is no one in the world I’d want to trade lives with” – Me

8. Best and worst part of being a writer

You mean there’s a bad part?

Well, besides the money being so dicey. But really…a bad part? I mean, doing what you love—writing–what you HAVE to do, what you need to do as much as people need to breathe or eat—and getting paid for it? There’s a BAD part?

9. Advice for other writers

Don’t give up! Don’t let the rejection slip blues get you down. I’ve had 54 books published but have more than twice that number of books still looking for homes. I get manuscripts back in the mail more days than not. But I NEVER give up. Here’s what to do: Have an assortment of things out there looking for homes. It might be five copies of your only book, or one copy each of five different articles, but don’t just have ONE ms circulating. That way if you get a ms back, you can tell yourself  that even now some editor may be considering making an offer on ANOTHER copy of your book or ANOTHER article.

And here’s another tip: Plan ahead to where ELSE you’re going to send that ms. Don’t just send it out with no thought to where you’re going to send it next. If you don’t plan ahead, you’ll send it out, get it back, think, “I need to look for another suitable publisher to send it to,” put it aside…and you might never send it out again. Have a plan. Have a target market list…even four pages long if you want. And when the book/story/article/proposal/pitch/query comes back, send it right back out again to the next editor on your list. Don’t give yourself a chance to give up on yourself. Inertia is a powerful force. Don’t give it a chance to take over your professional life.

And yes, writing IS your profession, even if you’re  a lawyer, a secretary, a doctor, or a store cashier for your daily dollar and only writing evenings and/or weekends. Take yourself seriously…or don’t bother.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience. 

I once took an editor out to lunch while on a biz trip to NY. She had pubbed my first two books, and in my naivete I thought I could now reap an assignment that she would suggest: “I need such-and-such written.” She thought I had a pitch to offer. I didn’t. We sat there and stared at each other.

Another time, later on, having learned my lesson, I invited a publisher (hands-on guy, small house) to dinner after learning he would be in my area. I took pains to find out his fave liquor, fave wine, food likes/dislikes. I served a perfect meal, preceded by just his kind of cocktails, followed it up with a pitch for several book ideas. Only to find that he is very uncomfortable discussing such matters in person and prefers to get pitches by mail or email, saving social occasions for purely social. Struck out again.

Where can people buy your books?

My books are all available on amazon.com as well as thru my website (www.cynthiamacgregor.com) and some are available in most B&Ns and some other bookstores. 

10 QUESTIONS FOR…Mitch Temple, author of “The Marriage Turnaround”

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Author interview with Mitch Temple9780802450142mitchtemplebymoodyfromexcerpt3

1. Tell us about your latest book. 

It’s called The Marriage Turnaround: How Thinking Differently About Your Relationship Can Change Everything.  As I have worked with couples through the years I have noticed that most marriage books focus on behavior: “5 Steps to better intimacy”; “3 Steps to resolving conflict.” But what about attitudes, expectations and beliefs in marriage? Psychology 101 teaches us that these things definitely affect how we feel and behave. Same is true in marriage. I discovered this principle in my own marriage as well couples who were thinking about walking out.  If our thinking is wrong, our beliefs and expectations based on the wrong things the outcomes will typically be less than desired.  So a good place to start in turning a bad marriage around or taking a good one to the next level is make sure that our expectations, beliefs and thinking is accurate and realistic.  This book identifies over 10 common myths that many couples buy into today.  We tackle the myths and help couples replace the bad thinking with more realistic ones.  My writing style reflects the real me. I am a guy who celebrates common sense and practical things and who is doesn’t like books that buzz way over the heads of its readers.  I use a lot of stories, humor and practical common sense stuff to help husbands and wife start “thinking” about what makes a successful marriage and not simply emoting and reacting all over the place. 

2. How did you get started as a writer? I

had all these great ideas about books and kept pushing them to friends of mine who were well recognized writers and their response was always: “You write it, dummy.” So, I did.  I didn’t see myself as a writer because I slept consistently through High School and College English. Another thing that was against me was that I am from the south.  However, I am a very creative person and I enjoy helping people see things about themselves, life and marriage that they possibly overlook in the everyday rat race.  I also had a younger friend was an editor and English major. She kept telling me “Mitch, just write! It don’t have to be pretty, just write.” I took her advice and started putting pen to paper and fingers to key boards and years later topics, patterns and ideas began to emerge.

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

I am the Director for a large international nonprofit so my day begins early and often ends late. However, I write at least some every day: during a break, during work or in the evenings and weekends. I have found that daily blogging helps me keep my writing fresh and provides some great ideas for other books. I am contracted to write another book for the publisher of The Marriage Turnaround, so my fingers are pointed in accomplishing that goal. 

My day begins in the evenings upon returning home by kissing my wife, talking about her day and mine (when she lets me), talking to each of my practically grown kids and then going out on the deck with a cup of coffee and leaning back in my gravity defying chair staring out at the Colorado Rockies watching the sun go down.  That is my daily therapy and occasionally a few good book ideas will float past me in the process. 

4. Describe your desk/workspace. 

Moderately cluttered. But my intentions are clean.  Everyone is in a cube at work so dreams of a nicely decorated office with a door is not realistic for me.  I once had the nice office and door for about 14 years. I miss it. However, I have a corner cube so I get to hear everyone’s gossips and complaints.  Provides great stories for my books.  At home, I grab a quite place usually situated by a window for Mountain Inspiration in the basement or an unoccupied bedroom.  My daughter and 10 month old granddaughter have been living with us while our son in law has been serving in Iraq.  So, peace and quite has to be sought after creatively which often includes closets, typing out on the deck in freezing weather, ear plugs and long bathroom visits.  The vent fan provides great white noise.

5. Favorite books (especially for writers).

Bird by Bird (Anne Lamont); Favorite Poems by Robert Frost; anything by Garrison Keiler.

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

One of my friends was one of the band members for Lynard Skynard; I love to help hurting people, and I once won a Prize Ribbon at the local horse show for chasing down a goat and tying him up the fastest.

7. Favorite quote:  

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”

8. Best and worst part of being a writer: 

Best part: having permission to look deep into your heart and pull out the stuff that you would never say out loud with hopes that your vulnerability and realness will bring help and direction to others.  Worst part: the carpal tunnel, ongoing neck and back pain and criticism from rude people who don’t know your own heart as well as you do.

9. Advice for other writers:

Write. Write. Write. You don’t have to have an outline or solid ideas, just let the words seep out of your relaxed thoughts.  Save everything- notes on McDonald’s napkins, notes you wrote to your spouse and kids and even writing pieces you felt were terrible. Everything can be valuable later, down the road.  Listen to your critic’s but go with your gut and heart. 

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience. 

I got a call from a publisher friend who turned me down: “Let me give you some advice, don’t pursue this. You have other talents, pursue those.  Some of us have it, some don’t. I am sure you will help a lot of people in other ways. Hope this doesn’t hurt your feelings.”   I got a call from a much larger publisher three days later and they asked me to sign a two book contract with a major marketing promise.  What a dumb head! Glad I didn’t listen to him.

Where can people buy your books?

Buy The Marriage Turnaround online at Amazon.com or your local book retailer.  Visit Mitchtempleonline.com to read an excerpt from the book and read blog posts and articles from Mitch.