Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Mango Tree Cafe Loi Kroh Road, by Taryn Simpson and Alan Solomon




Thanks for stopping by!

Welcome Readers!

Recently, I caught up with authors, Alan Solomon and Taryn Simpson to request an email interview.

Simpson and Solomon teamed up to write The Mango Tree Cafe’ Loi Kroh Road.

What is interesting about this writing union is Simpson lives in the USA and Solomon resides in Asia.

Here, for your reading pleasure, is what Taryn Simpson and Alan Solomon had to say:

How did you come across this project?

TS: A writer friend of mine got a lead from a gentleman that had written a rough draft of a book and needed someone to “punch it up.” She forwarded the book to me because it was fiction and she knows that it’s my speciality. I thought it was going to be ‘just another writing job’. Enter Alan Solomon and The Mango Tree Cafe, Loi Kroh Road. I read the synopsis he wrote for the book and was immediately taken with it.

Why did you write this book?

AS: I received the power to write this novel from the moment I entered Loi Kroh Road and felt the mysterious magic of the street.

Can you describe what itf was it like working with another author from a different part of the world? Were there any barriers? Please tell our reading public one.

TS: Absolutely! Being an American, it’s hard for me to fathom that people in other countries don’t have the same freedoms that we do. Even when it comes to something minor such as the internet. If you have lived in the USA your entire life, you tend to adopt the mindset of “If I have a certain freedom, surely everyone else has it too”. Although watching the news I know differently. It’s just different when you become aware of how rich our freedoms are in this country when you hear people from different parts of the country talk about certain limitations they have. For example, when I created the blog for the book, Alan wasn’t able to see it online for quite some time due to China’s strict internet laws.

TS (continues): Another barrier was I had a certain time frame where I could catch Alan on line. Remember, if the time in Nashville, TN USA is 8pm, it is 8am in Beijing. So, when I’m winding down from the day, Alan is beginning his. From 7:30pm my time until however late I could make myself stay up is when we had brief conversations about the book. Once I logged off for the night, Alan would leave me emails for the next morning (which is his night!). It was crazy!

AS: No barriers working with Taryn, Taryn was so enthusiastic and so helpful, for me it was like we were seated in the same bar side-by-side discussing our next move.

Can you share how long it took to write The Mango Tree Cafe? Did you tell friends and family members about this project, if so, were they supportive?

TS: Well, that’s hard to say. Although the book was written, I re-wrote roughly half of it and added/deleted sections of the book. Generally a novel takes 2-3 months or maybe more. That’s not including editing.

Yes, my partner endured many conversations about the book. When I become enthralled with a book, look out. I talk about it non-stop!

AS: The novel from start to finish took around 4 years, however the ‘pull’ to write was in my head for as long as I can remember, probably in High School. My family and friends never knew I was writing the Mango Tree Cafe, however if they had known they would have been supportive with a roar of laughter.

Without giving too much away, what is your favorite part of The Mango Tree Cafe?

TS: Oh, this is going to be difficult. Overall, I loved the fact that I got lost in this book as a reader. I’ve never been to Thailand and never had a yen to go. But, the events of the novel were so real to me that I felt like I have been there. It was a very strange feeling. And, meeting people in Nashville that had actually been there was just surreal.

TS (continues): I love many sections of the book. The ones that stand out in my mind is the metamorphisis the main character goes through. It covers from the time he is a child to current age of around 50ish. He is able to gain a realization about himself and his father which is very melancholy at best. It’s a sweet, sad, and all too painfully familiar feeling of knowing what it feels like to be so ultimately different from others and realizing that regardless of the lifestyle you lead, you can’t run from what is inside yourself. I don’t want to give too much away, but it is a very poignant story. I promise you will be in tears at the end. Not to mention that the setting includes visions of a lush jungle full of exotic fish, elephants and street dogs. I tried to put that feel in the You Tube video I did for it.

AS: In the novel there are many personal favorite parts I enjoy, however I guess if I had to identify just one part I would have to say it was when Larry realized he lost his only love Noo and to the end of the novel believed he was hearing her and seeing her and that someday she would return to him.

Would you say that you accomplished all that you set out to do when writing this story? Any reason?

TS: I think so. This question would probably be better served if answered by Alan Solomon. But, after he read the final draft I sent him. I could tell he was quite pleased.

AS: Yes I believe so.

Is there anything you want readers to come away with after reading your story?

TS: I have to remind people that the story was created by Alan. But I want people to come away with whatever makes them think about the book. It has a lot of messages and there is one for everybody. I loved how the book describes the misfits of Loi Kroh Road as beautiful and exotic. Yet, the lives they lead were very gritty and difficult.

AS: Questioning life and how things happen to us as we travel through life which we can miss unless we are alert and seize the moment.

Are you able to share with our reading public anything you may be working on at this time?

TS: I’m having to FORCE myself to move on from this book! LOL. I’m marketing the heck out of it as we speak. But, I have a couple of ideas for books that I am working on. The Mango Tree book has created a real desire in me to start writing “literary fiction” much in the same vein as “The Color Purple,” or “A River Runs Through it.” This book is pivotal in my career. My next book is tentatively entitled “Invisible Fences.” Although it can change.

AS: I am thinking all the time, I watch and listen and keep a notebook. Something may happen. I am not too sure.

Many writers read Little Red Box, Any tips for a writer writing her book?

TS: Some writers will say write at any cost. I say write when you have alone time and if you don’t have it, make time to write. Even if it is for 10 or 20 minutes a day. Don’t be discouraged. Get it down. Worry about deleting or editing later. Listen to music or do an activity such as people watching that will help you get in the mood for what you are writing because I think it bleeds through.

AS: Place a mirror on your writing desk and as you write occasionally look up and you will see what your next line is to be, because looking right back at you will be the lines, the eyes sending you the message and experience of life.

Little Red Box thanks sincerely, Taryn Simpson and Alan Solomon for their time and extends best wishes for continued success with The Mango Tree Cafe Loi Kroh Road.

Now this writer is off to go get a mirror and do that 10-20 minute-a-day writing thing!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

An Interview With Christopher Knight...

by Linda Della Donna


If you’re familiar with article directories, then you know Christopher M. Knight and http://www.ezinearticles.com/. Not long ago, I was lucky enough to get an interview with Knight. Here’s what he had to say:

Christopher, tell me about your work. Where did the idea for ezinearticles.com come from? Are you satisfied with the progress you’ve made?

In the late 1990s our company raised VC money to aggregate websites and email newsletters that served email newsletter publishers. EzineArticles.com was one of those acquisitions early in its life as a site. Today, it’s much more than a web property, but rather we view it as a thriving community that is busting at the seams with tens of thousands of expert authors of all walks of life and industry.

The genesis of the EzineArticles.com concept comes from the fact that ezine publishing original content every single day or week is a very expensive strategy. Many publishers look to sites like EzineArticles.com to find quality supplemental content that they can reprint to share with their email list members. They get the content for free with the understanding that they can’t change anything in the article and must make the links in the resource box ‘active’. The expert authors win because they get access to a pre-qualified visitor that in many times they couldn’t have paid to get better access to. Ezine publishers get free content; Expert authors get free pre-qualified visitors to their websites.

I’m happy with the growth rate and we’ll often slow things down on purpose to build scalable systems that can keep up with our growth. In the end, it’s critical that we deliver a quality experience for every single one of the 150-200k daily visitors who use our site.

Who is your favorite author? Do you have one? What is your favorite book?I have too many favorites to list.

There is a type of article author that I like personally better than others and this would be authors who write less than 1,000 words, includes bullet points or numbered lists and sub-heads for fast reading. I like data points. We have many like this in EzineArticles, but thankfully there are many who write articles in a story or conversational format that appeals to others. In the end, there is something for everyone.

Favorite book, not including my own, would be any book by Dr. Wayne Dyer.

In terms of short-term favorite books, I like “The Long Tail” by Chris Anderson.

What advice can you give a budding freelance writer looking to make a name for herself in the publishing world?

Whatever you do, never give in to the temptation to use PLR content or any of those auto-generated article creators to make content for yourself or your clients. This is the fastest way to destroy your credibility.

Now, assuming you believe in the value of creating original quality content for your clients, the best way to make a name for yourself is by walking your talk by putting several hundred, if not thousands of articles into syndication to promote yourself.

I’d also recommend participating in forums for freelance writers and creating your own email newsletter to educate and train your prospective clients on how to buy from you.

For that individual out there not familiar with Christopher Knight, how would you describe what it is that you do and who you are?

I’m the catalyst… behind a thriving online community of expert authors who share their expertise in exchange for qualified visitors & traffic back to their website thanks to the article syndication nature of EzineArticles.com.

Sometimes I say that I’m a web developer or I’m in advertising sales, and other times I’d say that I’m an entrepreneur or netpreneur.

I am not all things to all people, but for those that I’ve identified as ‘ideal’, I go very deep to over-deliver on the value proposition.

Lastly, I’m the entrepreneur who hires smart people, develops systems with quality control metrics, and then gets out of their way to run the daily operations. This frees me up to spend my time creating new products and developing high-value relationships.

Is there someone you would like to especially thank for where you are in your career today?

There isn’t one single person, but rather hundreds of teachers and coaches that have shown up to teach me various business and life lessons. There is an old quote by Goethe I believe that has become a theme in my life:

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back– Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”

Specifically, whenever I make a decision to move in a certain direction, the right teachers and coaches have always shown up in my life to teach me the lessons and give me guidance or assistance to reach my objectives. There are other times I feel compelled to help others to achieve their goals and dreams as if it were part of my purpose also. It’s a very fulfilling cycle to be engaged in.

Christopher M. Knight invites you to submit your best articles for massive exposure to the high-traffic http://EzineArticles.com/ directory. When you submit your articles to EzineArticles.com, your articles will be picked up by ezine publishers who will reprint your articles with your content and links intact giving you traffic surges to help you increase your sales. To submit your article, setup a free membership account today: http://EzineArticles.com/submit/
For Ezine Publishers, Chris produces a weekly free email newsletter on strategies for helping you grow your email lists, improve your email deliverability, and manage your ezine. To subscribe, surf on over to: http://Ezine-Tips.com/

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Author Janet Riehl - "Sightlines: A Poet's Diary" - An Interview

by Linda Della Donna








Meet Janet Riehl, award-winning writer and artist.

Riehl's artwork, fiction, and nonfiction have been published in Harvard Review, International Poetry Review, and Lullwater Review. Riehl is active participant in the community art scene, and has served on boards. She has given outdoor art performances, produced poetry readings, and performed in theatrical productions such as The Vagina Monologues. Riehl's work has been presented in several Women’s Caucus for the Arts exhibitions, and not once, but twice, Riehl was nominated for poet laureate of Lake County, California.

Today, Little Red Mailbox honors Riehl's recent book, Sightlines: A Poet’s Diary, written after the tragic death of her sister, Julia Ann Thompson. Sightlines is a lasting tribute to Julian Ann Thompson. Moreover, it is a rich collection of poetry and family photos. In Sightlines: A Poet's Diary, Riehl documents her family’s coming to terms with grief--Celebrating past memories--And writing through difficult times leading to the present.

On behalf of Little Red Mailbox, this writer welcomes warmly Janet Riehl and thanks her sincerely for this interview.

Janet, please tell readers a little about yourself?

I was born and raised on the bluffs above the Mississippi River in Southwestern Illinois. In my early twenties I set out to find my fortune, or more accurately, my destiny, and traveled extensively all over the world and lived mostly in Western United States when I returned. Just recently I’ve returned to the Midwest to be close to my father, now 91, who is also a writer.

How has living in the Midwest affected your writing?

The Midwest definitely informs the rhythm and cadence of my written and spoken style. In “Sightlines” the Midwest and our homeplace here (since the 1860s) became not only topic, but also a kind of character in the book.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing one way or another since forever: first as a kid, then journals, then supporting myself professionally, then moving to creative writing as a focus. I had to overcome my English Major Syndrome. There are a lot of us former English majors out there, you know, suffering, and we should probably form a group, because our writing will never be good enough until we recover.

Where do your ideas come from?

Mostly my work is drawn from life. The piece ”The Starling” in the “Harvard Review,” for instance is about my father and what happens at a birdfeeder on a cold winter day. That piece came straight out of a journal. For me the big deal is not the writing so much as times in my life when I focus to really get the work out there into form and into the right hands.

what is the difference between anthologies and literary journals and getting published in them?

The biggest difference between getting work into anthologies and literary journals is time. It seems to take about two years from first submission to publication. At least that’s about what it took for “Stories to Live By,” published by an imprint of Travelers Tales and "Hot Flashes” (light erotica by women) published by the Left Coast Writers. “Hot Flashes” is launching at the end of the month and I’m going out for the reading and party. I’m pretty excited. There’s one in the works, too, called “Women Spirit” that’s been great because I’ve been in communication with the editor through each of her stages with contracts and shopping the collection to publishers and so forth. I was connected to that one through a reader of my poetry book “Sightlines.”

What is special about being in anthologies?

The thrilling thing about being in anthologies is that usually there’s a mix of names and no-names (such as myself) and the writing is often equally good. There you are, reading along, enjoying the other work in the anthology, when you turn the page and shucks, there it is—your piece. What a rush.

Janet, was there ever a moment in your writing career when you thought you just couldn't write?

I’m fortunate in that in addition to writing I’m talented in several of the arts—visual, performing, music—so I tend to go in cycles. I’ll be heavily into writing at a given time and then carve out a season to make and exhibit visual art. This has worked well for me and I never worry or wonder about the writing. I know it’s there for me when I’m there for it.

Do you have a favorite writing tip? A favorite book? Perhaps a favorite author?

Hmmm…. (A) favorite writing tip: Do your best to enjoy your writing while at the same time understanding that it’s work like all worthwhile crafts.

Favorite book? Read Clive Matson’s “Let the Crazy Child Write.”

Favorite author? Whoever I’m reading at the time, maybe. I love the books from my childhood written in the early 1900s such as Gene Stratton-Porter’s work.

Any advice for a writer working at maintaining a blog, creating a website, and writing a first book, care to share?

You know that slogan “Dance as if no one is watching”? Same thing with writing. Write as if only your heart is listening, and in time other hearts will want to hear, too. There’s so much advice out there now.

For a website, that’s a marketing tool, so that requires a sense of clarity about what you’re selling and what the result is that you want.

For a blog, especially a blog that is a face page for your own website, that requires a sense of mission, vision, dedication…because you’ll be doing it over the long haul. You need to decide how often you’ll post and who your audience is, and again, what you want out of it.

Janet, gotta ask, what’s it like to live your dream--book, author, ISBN number?

Your dream is only as good as you are. Whatever weaknesses you have before, you will still have. The dream is like a rainbow—appearing, yet illusory. That feeling of transcendence is a good thing. But, the author still has to live in the world.

How can readers learn more about you?

I hope readers will come visit my father and me at my blog “Riehlife: Village Wisdom for the 21st Century” at www.riehlife.com. They can read sample poems there and talks I’ve given at readings.

Janet, when was Sightlines published, how long did it take to write, and can you describe the feeling?

Sightlines was published February 2006, about a year after I started writing the poems. Publishing a book is really a birth.

The actual writing of the body of work after its inception in late December took nine months. Through spiritual guidance—common sense really—I was shown not only how to begin but also how to protect the work while writing. I wrote with the door closed, so to speak, without much commentary or critiquing from others. I simply wrote from my heart. This is how the form of the story poem evolved.

Why did you decide to write the book, Sightlines?

Perhaps it was more that the book wanted to be written. I felt a spiritual leading to begin the book when I went on a small retreat at the Oblate Fathers of Mary Immaculate. I received this message: “Cleaning. During this quiet time.” The whole world seemed charged with meaning. I resolved to tease out that meaning through writing these poems. This was my 56th birthday gift—the spiritual guidance to write the book.

Where did the words for Sightline come from?


Once I started writing, they just flowed. It was the right thing to do at the right time for the right reasons. I wanted to use the work as an act of healing for myself, my family, and the larger human family.

What about themes. Where did they come from?

It’s a family memoir of six generations told in story poems. As such, it reveals stages in human life, but particularly caring for parents, aging, death—and the bereavement that follows as well as the ways in which that strengthens family spirit. My sister died in a car accident in August of 2004. The book shows how we moved through important stages of bereavement and became stronger as a family.

Janet, what is a story poem? Please expand.

A story poem combines highly compressed narrative, musing, and observation that avails itself of poetic techniques such as alliteration, imagery, and metaphor. I crafted the story poems in this book to be simple and direct to reach heart to heart.

There are all sorts of other names for a story poem, but I wanted to keep it very simple and direct—just as I tried to keep the work itself simple and direct. There were important reasons for that and I stuck to it.

First, I wanted the poetry to be accessible. We have truck drivers and teachers, lawyers and welders in our family. They were my first audience. I wanted everyone to feel welcomed into the world of the poems and not be shut out. That view helped keep the poems down-to-earth and highly readable.

Secondly, what had happened to our family was so traumatic that we didn’t need any more drama. I felt understated language was the language of healing. Lastly, I grew up in the Midwest and spent most of my time there during the year I put the book together. Midwesterners come from farming stock and are a plain-spoken people. I wanted the language of the poems to reflect the language of the people I wrote about.

In the story-poem, as in prose, the sentence is the primary unit, not the line. But everything is highly compressed. The same material handled in a personal essay would cover many times the words. It appears simple—and, I want it to. But, in fact, these story poems are highly crafted.

Frankly, I wondered how this worked. Then, I received some responses which reassured me. A friend of mine who is a fine musician kept saying when he first read the poems, "I hear music here. Would you mind if I put them to music?"

There are varying lengths of poems in the book—short, medium, long. And, there are also some lyric poems as well. But, the story poems are the backbone of the book. Because there was a story to be told—of and for the families of the world.

Once you wrote the poems, where did you get the structure for a book?

I’d thought that my friend and book-coach would do that. But, he told me that was the next stage of my creative work and I’d intuitively know how to do it. I’d never worked beyond the individual written piece before, but he was right.

Putting a book together is very much like putting together an art show. First, the artist must create the pieces. This process, pursued with discipline and focus, eventually grows into a body of work with its own integrity and cohesion. Next, the artist selects the pieces for the show, names it, finds the space for it, and creates the structure.

Making a book is very much like that. After my body of work was completed, I set about to find out what I had and where it would all fit. I got down on the floor and crawled around, placing the poems into piles. I came up with five categories. They were slippery categories in some cases because certain poems could fit in more than one or even two of the categories. But, I had to make a decision.

Then, I worked with the flow of the poems within the sections. And, I had to come up with the names for the five sections that celebrate three people and two places I love. I chose nicknames to make it more colloquial: SKEETER for my sister Julia; SLIM for my father; SWEET LITTLE DOVE for my mother; HOMEPLACE for our family place in southwestern Illinois; and LAKESIDE for my home-base in Northern California.

Was there risk? Inasmuch as you write from the heart, did you find it difficult to put your work out there?

Yes, that’s the work of making art: finding the courage and faith to take that risk. But creating and sharing any body of work brings its own enormous gift. These story poems touch on many themes. In “Sightlines: A Poet’s Diary” these themes build throughout the book and weave together. I've been re-reading the book and charting the themes to learn more about what is really there.

An artist does this with an art show, too. That’s when the work comes out of the studio, is seen in a clean space, and is revealed in its essence. It’s important to study the work and reflect on it. I find the same thing here. I want to find out what this author, Janet Grace Riehl, is revealing to me. It’s like listening with the ears of my heart to the other voices of myself.

How did you manage your time to write Sightlines, the book?

I carved out my time in the morning. This was private time of solitude when I felt most open. I believe that creative products come through us more than from us. We have to find a place, time, and way of listening.

Would you say this was your soul baby? Can you describe how it felt to write this book?

Yes. I felt different writing this work than anything I’d done in the past. I felt firmly, totally committed—without question. There were things that needed to be said and I knew I was the one to say them. I stood up for my voice and my view of what I was saying and how I wanted to say it. I stood in the truth of what I was speaking about. It’s a blessed place to be. A place of grace.

I understand that your father contributed to “Sightlines: A Poet’s Diary”. How did that come about?

My father, Erwin Thompson, is a writer, historian, and, patriarch. He’d written some powerful and searing pieces after Julia’s death. I asked him for permission to include these, and he agreed.

Were any other family members involved?

My brother, Gary Thompson, edited letters my father was transcribing for the Riehl-Thompson collection archives at the University of Illinois. Gary showed me the letter that became the poem “String Bridles.” I told my father that there was a surprise for him in the book and I wouldn’t let him see it until we broke open the box of books when I came home after it was published. I immediately turned to that page and read the poem to him.

He then sat in mother’s armchair and read the entire book, with a tear escaping here and a chuckle escaping there. I felt at that moment that all my hard work had been repaid.

Was there a hard part in writing Sightlines?

There are basically five stages to bring out a book. First, you write it. Then, shape it. Third, produce it into an actual bound book. Fourth, you have to promote it. The last and most private stage is reflecting on the work, as I mentioned before. The private parts—writing, shaping, and reflecting are the most natural for me. Producing and promoting are probably the hardest.

Did you receive help? What kind?


There’s a lot of grunt work involved and an author on a small budget has to be willing to do her own grunt work. Although there was a paucity of labor force, I was so lucky that in moving back and forth between Illinois and California I always seemed to be in the right place at the right time for the type of help I needed. During the start of the author proofs I was with a long-time friend in New Mexico. She provided a safe emotional environment for me and also provided practical suggestions and help.

You can see on my “Thanks To” page that so many people helped. They came in and did what needed to be done in small bursts as they were able. One childhood friend who I met walking Riehl Lane—yes, the same one named after my great grand-father—came over to the old family homestead to help me work out instructions to the book designers. She validated that what I wanted was the right thing to want and gave me the language to get it. This is just one example of so many acts of kindness.

At what stage did you start to feel it was really a book?

The first time I printed out the author proofs, I felt a physical sense of thrill with chills running through my body. But, it wasn’t until I tore open the packing crate and held the book in my hand that it became real to me.

You have permission to learn more about Janet Riehl at www.riehlife.com.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

An Interview with Philip F. Harris - The Secret of My Success

by Linda Della Donna


Meet Philip F. Harris.

Prolific, as well as credentialed, Philip F. Harris's bio reads like a page right out of America's Who's Who.

Among his numerous credits, Harris attended The American Univeristy in Washington, D. C., completed graduate work at the University of Northern Colorado, and Howard University, including several years working with three governors, serving as Assistant Director of the Maine State Planning Office. Harris even held a post on the White House Task Force for the Development of National Rural Policy and later worked as Rural Policy Coordinator of the Federal Regional Council of New England.

Harris has written controversial novel, "Waking God," co-authored with Brian Doe.

Recently I caught up with Philip F. Harris and asked for an interview. This is what he had to say:

What is the secret of your success? You seem to have it all, Phil. Care to share?

Everyone has it all, they are just not conscious of it. Most people dread going to work or even getting up in the morning. I view each day as a blessing from the universe with new opportunities to express myself and to create a new reality. There is time to do these things because I require that there be time. You mention the 'secret' to success-I would strongly advise all to see the film and/or read the book called 'The Secret.' Everyone is a success in potential, no exceptions-people just need to understand that the universe holds nothing back from us-it is we who block our own happiness. When I retire at night, I create an image of what I 'have' accomplished the next day. When the next day comes, it flows accordiing to that image because in my mind it is something that has happened. Not something that will happen.


Do you have a set writing schedule? What is your typical writing day? Do you have one?

NO! I let the uninverse guide when and what I will write. I do not force chapters and do not write in a linear way. A middle chapter may preceed an early chapter if that is what I am inspired to write. Sometimes I will sit to write one thing, but end up doing something totally different. I do not outline because I feel that an outline is too prescriptive and too many people try to stick to an outline and miss opportunities for new ideas or concepts. Somehow it all seems to come together. I tend to write mostly in the evening as it is quiet and there are less distractions. Again, before I retire, I give thought to things I might want to write the next day or during the week. This allows the ideas to percolate in the gray matter and I often awaken with new insights or ideas. Anyone who knows e will tell you that if I force myself to write on a particular topic or chapter, it tends to be inferior and appears forced. That is not my best way to write.

Phil, please share with readers a little bit about your personal life. Are you married? Do you have a family? Has living in Maine affected your writing?

Everyone is supportive and they all think I am a little wacked. My wife refers to herself as a book widow. Actually my children are grown and on their own with their own famililes. Jessyca lives in NH, Greg in RI, and Matt is here in Maine. We have 4 horses, five dogs, one barn cat, and 4 birds. Writing in Maine is idylic. We live on 120 acres and I am surrounded by woods and the pasture is in the middle, sort of like an island of solitude. I am only twenty miles from our rocky coast, which is pure inspiration. My novel, "A Maine Christmas Carol" is set in Hallowell, Maine. It is a quaint little town on the banks of the Kennebec River and an ideal setting for the contemporary retelling of the classic. For those who don't know -- the story replaces old Scrooge with 16 year TJ who, after losing his father in Iraq, turns to drugs to cope witht he pressures of modern society. I am sure Maine will appear in more stories.

Do you believe in writer's block? Have you ever experienced it? If so, what did you do to work through it?

Block can occur and there are on-line writing groups that are set up for this purpose. I do not really get blocked because I do not plan what I am going to write. That is the problem with an outline. If you set to write a specific chapter in an outline and the ideas do not flow, it is easy to jam up the brain. I may have an idea of what I want to write when I sit to do an article or chapter, but if some other idea happens, I go with it. If a person is blocked with a character, or a concept, I think the thing to do is to just start wrting whatever comes to mind, whether it is relevant to the topic at hand or not. If you are blocked about a character, then just start writing about someone you know or heard of that may be similar to the one you wish to write about. You can always go back and change names. If a character doesn't come to mind-write a setting. The key is to get the juices flowing and let the story start to take on its own life and write itself.

Your recent novel, "Waking God" is co-authored with Brian Doe. Can you share that experience? How did the idea to write this book happen? How long did it take to write? Would you say coauthoring a work makes the process simpler, or more difficult? What went into the process and the decision to work with another author? Was it a positive experience? Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Is there something other writers need to know who may be thinking about coauthoring a work?

Co-authoring can be a challenge. I think one of the keys is not to write with someone just like you. A person with a different perspective and background is helpful since they bring differing viewpoints and experiences to the story and characters. Brian teaches English and is very mechanical. Initially my handing him chapters from 'Somewhere' in the book drove him nuts-He is an outline person-or used to be-He has now been enlightened. I came up with the concept for the book and he came up with the title. We are very synergistic. We did not assign each other characters or chapters, they just sort of happened. We would then shift characters and this added a nice dimension to the story. It helped to round out personalities. The nice part is that you do not have to do the whole story by yourself when you co-author-That works if it does not bother you. If I had something going on I knew Brian kept the work in process and vice versa. We are alighed philosophically and that is why the venture works. Keep in mind that "Waking God" is a trilogy and we are working on Book II. It took about a year to write "Waking God." We both lived in NY but now I am in Maine. Thank God for the internet-It keeps the writing flowing between us. It is nice to write on your own but it is also nice to co-author. It is a sharing process and the occasional disputes over plot actually strengthens the story. So, yes, I would recommend it but iron out general ideas in advance and above all, be open to the other's suggestions and ideas.

Philip, your professional and educational background is impressive. In what way, if at all, has this contributed to your writing?

We are the sum total of our experiences. The greater the experience, the greater the outlook on life. We all write what we know. Our characters are always some reflection of those we have known, loved, hated or admired. Even stories that come from the depths of out imagination in some way reflect or mirror some aspect of what we have known. All of our backgrounds are impressive, different, but impressive!

Tell readers, please, about your writing, how long, was there any one experience that brought you to the writing desk, why did you become a writer, and how did you decide to become a novelist? Did you find your writing niche? Or did your writing niche find you?

My first attempt at writing a novel was in the late 70'S. The story was great but the writing sucked. It read more like a government report than a novel. Do not be disappointed if the first attempt is a bomb. I hve a very strong mystical and philosophical background that, while beginning in early childhood, did not blossom until the 80's when I underwent numerous spiritual revelations. It was then that I learned to free my mind of linear thought and to use my imagination. But even then I was more interested in speaking and not writing. It was truly not until "Waking God" that I decided to put pen to paper. It is now an addiction. It has taken my life's experiences up until now to finally put together what I have to say. I write because I have something to tell the world whether it be in a novel, an article, a blog or an essay. Perhaps like good wine, I have finally ripened. My niche is not totally defined and I hope it never is. I will write on social, spiritual, political, environmental and religious issues for that is where my heart is. Perhaps that is a niche!

What are you working on right now? Can you share? Care to tell us a little something about All Things That Matter?

In addtion to Book II of "Waking God" I have been spending a lot of time with the blogging and articles. Other book concepts are in the deep recesses. I am working on possible biography of a 62 year old female endurance racer (horses) and a biblical basis that supports the concepts of "The Secret." 'All Things That Matter' is the title of my blog and my radio talk show. Basically, it is about issues that affect us all which are sometimes overlooked by the more mainstream media. It's fun because I write what I care about.

I discovered your quote, "...Reality is merely a reflection of what is occuring in your mind," what would you advise a reader about to make a change in their life?

Every aspect of our life is but a mirror of what lies deep in thought. Either consciously or, more often, subconsciously, we mold the pattern and energies of the universe to bring into manifestation what we call reality. Thoughts become things-No exceptions. If you start to read a book and you don't like it-You don't finish it and get a new one. The same holds true with life-If you do not like how it is unfolding-change your mind and create a new one. I would refer your readers to my blog for more details on this.

Have you a favorite writing tip, Phil? Care to share?

When you sit to write, close your eyes and experience the scene you want to write about. If it is winter, feel the cold and the wind, smell the snow, describe the dirty slush and the clothes you are wearing, etc. Do this for characters, as well and most will find this a rewarding experience.

One last question, phil. I like to end an interview with a funny story. Got one?

"A Maine Christmas Carol" was scheduled to be released on December 12th (2006). I was informed by my publisher on November 30th that due to health reasons they were closing down. I won't go into details, but the novel had been published as an ebook by EBOOKSONTHE.NET. They said that their hard copy division, Cambridge Books, would be willing to pick up the contract for the print version. I asked if it could be out for December 12th. They laughed. The kids at school knew of the book since the story actually begins at the high school. Several students had even pre-ordered the book. When I told them the story they were sad and asked for the address of the new publisher. On December 21st while I was in class, a student came up to me and asked if I could sign his copy of my book. I told him when it comes out that I would, but it wouldn't be for several months. He then produced a print copy of the book-I was floored. I did not know it was out. As a matter of fact, I did not get my copies for another week. I am not sure that is a funny story, but it was a bit embarrassing and very inspirational. I had held in my mind that the book would be out before Christmas and, like I said, thoughts become things!

Thank you, Phil. Here's wishing you much success with "Waking God"!

Learn more about Philip F. Harris by visiting - http://philipharris.blog.com and www.internetvoicesradio.com.

Friday, September 7, 2007

An Interview with Author Janet Elaine Smith - The Secret of Her Success

by Linda Della Donna





Meet Best-selling author, Janet Elaine Smith.
In her 15 novels, “Jan,” “explores roads less traveled.”
In addition to being prolific, Smith is business savvy, and adds to her long list of publishing credits, the title Marketing Director of Star Publish, which means all her books “are in the process of being published.”

Recently I caught up with Janet Elaine Smith and asked for an interview.

Here, for your reading pleasure, is what Jan had to say:

What is the secret of your success?

I have said that it depends on two things: God (for some reason I can’t explain) likes me, and I’m not about to argue with Him; and dumb beginner’s luck. I have added a third thing: I seem to do things the simple way. I don’t know they aren’t supposed to work, so I plow ahead and somehow they seem to succeed. It’s like Kristie Leigh Maguire said about my PromoPaks, “These things are so simple I could have thought of them–but I didn’t.” It’s like my daddy used to say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Do you have a typical writing day? Can you describe it?

I don’t have a typical day of any kind, but here’s what I try to do. Remember, I also have a full-time job running a charitable HELPs organization with my husband. I start on the computer by 7 o’clock (sometimes earlier). I check and answer my e-mail. Then I spend an hour working on whatever editing job I am doing. I check the e-mail again at noon, and try to do some work on my magazine writing then. Then after supper I check the e-mail again, then I do more editing, and try to write at least an hour. I would like to spend all of that time working on whatever book I’m writing at the time, but the magazine writing pays most of the bills, so I have to do that first. I write for a dozen magazines regularly, including Genealogical Helper and Writers Journal (I’m a contributing editor for both of them) and Red River Valley Memories and Mysteries, where I’m the Assoc. Editor, so it also involves doing quite a few interviews for every issue. In between times, I try to maintain about 6 websites, do interviews, reviews, tend to the weekly Star Publish Times (http://starpublishnews.tripod.com/) and then there is the marketing for Star Publish, which I do at least 2-3 hours a day Mon.-Fri.

Is your family supportive of your writing? Can you tell us a little about them?

My husband, Ivan, is quite good about it–especially when I actually started making money at it! LOL! We have three children; both of our sons (Wilbert and Kevin) are very supportive of my writing. My daughter’s (Raquel) attitude is “Mother! Not everybody’s whole world revolves around your books!” Still, it tickles me when she comes over and some friend of hers wants an autographed copy of one of them! Until about 5 or 6 years ago we have always had a dog. My husband is disabled and I’m busy so I put my foot down and said no more dogs. I still hear about it, but so far I’m ahead in this game! I did love the dogs we had, but old age has its drawbacks.

What is your most difficult writing challenge? Do you have one? What about working as marketing director of a publishing company, does it help or hurt in any way?
Time, definitely. There aren’t enough hours in the day, and if I had more, I would probably conk out before they got put to good use anyway.

Working in marketing definitely helps. I have to market my own books anyway, so I might as well add the other authors’ books into the equation at the same time. I never knew anything about marketing before I got into this whole book business. Actually, I never even knew an author had to market their own books. It has been a real learning experience, but I have discovered I actually enjoy that end of it too.

Do you believe in writer’s block? Was there ever a time in your life when you couldn’t face the blank page? How do you, how did you, deal with that?

I don’t often have writer’s block. My head is so full of goofy characters and their antics that I have dozens and dozens of books pretty well all written in there. When things in “real life” interfere, I find that writing is the best therapy in the world for me. It makes me look outside myself, and I can always make a happy ending. If only I could figure out how to do that in real life!

What inspires you?

People! I love to people watch and eavesdrop. If you ever doubted that the world is full of zany characters and goofy storylines, just go to a restaurant, a mall, or a sporting event and study the people who come and go. It is true that real life is stranger than fiction, and after all, most fiction is based (at least loosely) on real life.

Where do you get your ideas?

I guess I’d have to just repeat what I said above: from people and what they do. Oh, and sometimes from my dreams. I guess I just have a sort of warped mind.

Is there any one thing that influences your stories? Can you tell us about your Santa Claus story? Where did the idea come for that one?

I love to get the start of a story from something I see somebody do, but then I sort of let it stew in my mind for awhile to see what led up to that point and where it went from there.
I have two Christmas books out: A Christmas Dream and A Lumberjack Christmas. Both of them have very special Santa Clauses in them. In A Christmas Dream, the main storyline deals with a young mother who lost her husband in Desert Storm. When she and her boss (who had his sight set on her) and her little boy Jeremy went to the mall, Jeremy went to talk to Santa. He discovered that Santa’s son died in Desert Storm, and the mom eventually found out that her husband and Santa’s son died in the same incident of “friendly fire” in Desert Storm. Santa got a very special Christmas present…but wait! I don’t want to ruin the story for you. You have to read the book. Or if you want to, you can go to http://internetvoicesradio.com/ and the whole thing is there as an i-pod. That was great fun to do! The other one, A Lumberjack Christmas, has a Jewish Santa Claus in it!

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing for about 30 years. I have a whole file cabinet full of the best doggone rejection letters you ever saw! The magazine writing seemed to go pretty well, and it gave me hope that one day my books would succeed too. My first book, Dunnottar, was finally published in June, 2000. Now I have 14 novels out, as well as two non-fiction books. I still have to pinch myself to see if I’m dreaming. I hope to have 4 new books out this year. One of them will be the script that Billie Williams did for me of A Christmas Dream. I would love to see it in community theaters, etc. all over the country this year. The others will be Bank Roll: A Max Stryker Mystery, Tuesday Nolan: Women of the Week, and Wanted: Organ Donor for Sister Babs (the first Sister Babs Mystery).

Can you tell readers about your latest work?

The one I am working on now is Tuesday Nolan. I started it last year, but when I changed publishers it got sort of put on a back burner until my old ones got out again. You can see more about the Women of the Week series at http://meetmondayknight.tripod.com/ . They are all based on the old poem, “Monday’s child is fair of face…” Each of the women in the series is named for the day of the week they were born, and their whole life has revolved around the line from the poem. Tuesday’s child is fair of grace, and Tuesday Nolan runs a finishing school for girls in South Carolina.

One more question, Janet, do you have a favorite writing tip you can offer to writers?

Believe in yourself, and write what you would like to read. And write, write, write, but don’t forget to read, read, read as well. You learn by everything you read; even if it’s a “bad” book, you learn what not to do.

You can learn more about Janet Elaine Smith and the books she writes by visiting http://crumbycapers.tripod.com/, http://internetvoicesradio.com/, and http://janetesmithstarbooks.tripod.com/.
Janet can be reached at marketingstarpublish@yahoo.com

Friday, August 31, 2007

Susan J. Breen, Author of "The Fiction Class" -- An Interview

by Linda Della Donna



Today, I am proud to present, Susan J. Breen, author of The Fiction Class.

Recently I caught up with this prolific writer, teacher, comic, wife, mother, and more, and requested an interview. Lucky me. Susan J. Breen is friendly, too.

Here's what Susan J. Breen had to say:


Q: When did you know you were a writer, Susan? What's your story?

I was a reader before I was a writer. I was one of those kids who was always sitting in a corner, reading a book, and my idea of a good time in high school was to read through the dictionary, looking for words I did not know. I was not popular. Somehow though, I never considered being a fiction writer. I had this idea that novelists had to be bohemian and cool; so instead I went into journalism and became a reporter for Fortune. It wasn’t until I was a wife and mother (at home with my four children) that I began to write fiction. Literally, one morning, I was sitting in my living room and my kids were taking a nap and I looked at the TV and I thought, No. I want to do something else. Instead of turning on the TV, I picked up a pad of paper and began to write. At that moment, I consciously chose the future I hoped to have.

Q: Has growing up in the New York area contributed to your writing?

The Fiction Class is the first fiction I have ever set in New York. All my stories have taken place in Long Island (where I grew up), Mexico City (where I spent a lot of time) or Westchester (which is where I live). Manhattan seemed too big a subject. How do you come up with anything new to say about it? But with The Fiction Class, I figured out that instead of writing about Manhattan as a whole, I could write about West 93rd Street, and I did have something to say about that. So now my plan is to tackle NY one street at a time.

Q: Please share with readers where the idea for The Fiction Class came from?

The Fiction Class is based on my own relationship with my mother. I loved her dearly, but we fought all the time, especially when she was older and in a nursing home. One day, not long after I got my job at Gotham Writers’ Workshop, we were in the midst of some argument and I mentioned something that had happened in class, and suddenly we stopped arguing and began to talk about fiction. It turned out that she had always dreamed of being a writer, and she began to tell me her stories, and I told her mine. After she died, I thought how grateful I was that she and I had had this special year together and I began to think of writing a story about a woman who heals her relationship with her mother by teaching her to write. That became The Fiction Class.

Q: I know you are published in other major venues. Please share: Who, What, Where, When?

My stories have been published by a lot of literary magazines, among them American Literary Review, The Chattahooche Review and North Dakota Quarterly. My articles have been published by The Writer and Writer’s Digest.

Q: Was it difficult getting The Fiction Class published? And are you satisfied with the results?

Actually, getting The Fiction Class published was not that hard. I started to write it in December 2005 and my editor bought it in June 2006. That’s the good news. The bad news is that I spent seven years writing an earlier novel that I never did sell, and three years working on yet another unsold novel. So depending on how you look at it, I either sold it very fast or very slow.

I am very satisfied with the results. Publishing is everything I dreamed it would be and seeing that book with my name on it is just thrilling.

Q: What about the book cover? Care to tell us where the brilliant red apple came from, without giving away the story, of course.

My favorite part about that apple is that it is so red. I love the way it catches the eye. There is an apple in the novel, and it has to do with the romance that is an important part of The Fiction Class. I have to say that that apple on the cover is the most controversial part of the whole book. There are people who love it and people who hate it (such as my boss.

Q: Susan, what is the secret of your success?

First of all, thank you for considering me a success. The hardest thing about being an unpublished writer is that it’s hard to believe you will ever see something in print. And of course it doesn’t help that your dearest friends and relatives also wonder if you will ever see anything in print. You have to find the joy in your writing and keep at it no matter how many times you are rejected. Because you will be rejected a lot. I think I am successful now because I didn’t give up (and I hope I write well.

Q: Do you have a favorite writing tip, something a new writer can wrap her brain around and use as she/he writes her/his book?

My main tip would be to write every day. Sometimes (often) I will be tired and not feel like writing, but I will force myself to sit down, and almost always, that is the day I break through and write something I like. You have to have discipline. Also, you have to approach writing as though it is something that matters. This is not a hobby. This is life.

Thank you, Susan J. Breen. Thank you for your time and and for your wise words. Best wishes and continued success in all your writing endeavors.

You have permission to visit Susan J. Breen's website, http://www.susanjbreen.com/ to learn more about her and where to purchase your copy of her new book, The Fiction Class. Feel free to email Susan Breen at susanbreen@yahoo.com.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Mango Tree Cafe' Loi Kroh Road - Alan Solomon, Taryn Simpson - An Interview, 2 Sides

by Linda Della Donna






Recently, I caught up with authors Alan Solomon and Taryn Simpson, authors of The Mango Tree Cafe’ Loi Kroh Road, to ask for an interview.

What is stunning about their union is Solomon makes his home in Asia, and Simpson resides in the USA.

Here’s what authors, Taryn Simpson and Alan Solomon had to say:

Taryn, please share with readers how you came across this project?
TS: A writer friend of mine got a lead from a gentleman that had written a rough draft of a book and needed someone to “punch it up”. She forwarded the book to me because it was fiction and she knows that it’s my speciality. I thought it was going to be ‘just another writing job’. Enter Alan Solomon and The Mango Tree Cafe, Loi Kroh Road. I read the synopsis he wrote for the book and was immediately taken with it.

Alan, can you share why you wrote this book?

AS: I received the power to write this novel from the moment I entered Loi Kroh Road and felt the mysterious magic of the street.

Please share with readers what it was like to work with an author from a different part of the world. Were there barriers?

TS: Absolutely! Being an American, it’s hard for me to fathom that people in other countries don’t have the same freedoms that we do. Even when it comes to something minor such as the internet. If you have lived in the USA your entire life, you tend to adopt the mindset of “If I have a certain freedom, surely everyone else has it too”. Although watching the news I know differently. It’s just different when you become aware of how rich our freedoms are in this country when you hear people from different parts of the country talk about certain limitations they have. For example, when I created the blog for the book, Alan wasn’t able to see it online for quite some time due to China’s strict internet laws.

TS (continues): Another barrier was I had a certain time frame where I could catch Alan on line. Remember, if the time in Nashville, TN USA is 8pm, it is 8am in Beijing. So, when I’m winding down from the day, Alan is beginning his. From 7:30pm my time until however late I could make myself stay up is when we had brief conversations about the book. Once I logged off for the night, Alan would leave me emails for the next morning (which is his night!). It was crazy!
AS: No barriers working with Taryn, Taryn was so enthusiastic and so helpful, for me it was like we were seated in the same bar side-by-side discussing our next move.

How long did it take you to write The Mango Tree Cafe’? Were friends, family members supportive?

TS: Well, that’s hard to say. Although the book was written, I re-wrote roughly half of it and added/deleted sections of the book. Generally a novel takes 2-3 months or maybe more. That’s not including editing. Yes, my partner endured many conversations about the book. When I become enthralled with a book, look out. I talk about it non-stop!

AS: The novel from start to finish took around 4 years, however the ‘pull’ to write was in my head for as long as I can remember, probably in High School. My family and friends never knew I was writing the Mango Tree Cafe, however if they had known they would have been supportive with a roar of laughter.

Without giving too much away, what is your favorite part of The Mango Tree Cafe? Do you have one?

TS:
Oh, this is going to be difficult. Overall, I loved the fact that I got “lost” in this book as a reader. I’ve never been to Thailand and never had a yen to go. But, the events of the novel were so real to me that I felt like I have been there. It was a very strange feeling. And, meeting people in Nashville that had actually been there was just surreal.

TS (continues): I love many sections of the book. The ones that stand out in my mind is the metamorphisis the main character goes through. It covers from the time he is a child to current age of around 50ish. He is able to gain a realization about himself and his father which is very melancholy at best. It’s a sweet, sad, and all too painfully familiar feeling of knowing what it feels like to be so ultimately different from others and realizing that regardless of the lifestyle you lead, you can’t run from what is inside yourself. I don’t want to give too much away, but it is a very poignant story. I promise you will be in tears at the end. Not to mention that the setting includes visions of a lush jungle full of exotic fish, elephants and street dogs. I tried to put that feel in the You Tube video I did for it.

AS: In the novel there are many personal favorite parts I enjoy, however I guess if I had to identify just one part I would have to say it was when Larry realized he lost his only love Noo and to the end of the novel believed he was hearing her and seeing her and that someday she would return to him.

Did you accomplish everything you set out to do when writing this story?

TS: I think so. This question would probably be better served if answered by Alan Solomon. But, after he read the final draft I sent him. I could tell he was quite pleased.

AS: Yes I believe so.

What do you want readers to come away with?

TS: I have to remind people that the story was created by Alan. But I want people to come away with whatever makes them think about the book. It has a lot of messages and there is one for everybody. I loved how the book describes the misfits of Loi Kroh Road as beautiful and exotic. Yet, the lives they lead were very gritty and difficult.

AS: Questioning life and how things happen to us as we travel through life which we can miss unless we are alert and seize the moment.

Are you working on anything at this time? Can you share what it is?

TS: I’m having to FORCE myself to move on from this book! LOL. I’m marketing the heck out of it as we speak. But, I have a couple of ideas for books that I am working on. The Mango Tree book has created a real desire in me to start writing “literary fiction” much in the same vein as “The Color Purple”, or “A River Runs Through it”. This book is pivotal in my career. My next book is tentatively entitled “Invisible Fences”. Although it can change.

AS: I am thinking all the time, I watch and listen and keep a notebook. Something may happen. I am not too sure.

Any advice to a writer in the process of writing her own book?

TS: Some writers will say write at any cost. I say write when you have alone time and if you don’t have it, make time to write. Even if it is for 10 or 20 minutes a day. Don’t be discouraged. Get it down. Worry about deleting or editing later. Listen to music or do an activity such as people watching that will help you get in the mood for what you are writing because I think it bleeds through.

AS: Place a mirror on your writing desk and as you write occasionally look up and you will see what your next line is to be, because looking right back at you will be the lines, the eyes sending you the message and experience of life.

Thank you, Taryn. Thank you, Alan, for your time.

Much success to both of you with The Mango Tree Cafe Loi Kroh Road. Now, this writer is off to get a mirror!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Eileen Hickey - An Interview

(c) by Linda Della Donna


Recently I met up with a real hero--This lady battled to lose weight--And won! I asked for an interview and proudly, she said, yes.

Meet Eileen Hickey from White Plains New York. This is her story:

Eileen, please tell me a little about yourself. What do you do for a living? What is your age?

I am 23 yrs old. I am currently working as a teachers assistant.

I understand you had surgery recently. Please tell me the name of your operation, and why you decided to have this operation?

I had gastric bypass surgery. I decided to have the surgery after 3 years of deciding. My health had gotten so out of control that I had to make a decision if I wanted to save my life. My doctor kept telling me that if I didn't lose weight immediately, I could have a heart attack, or a stroke at any time, therefore, I could have died. After them telling me this, I knew having the surgery was my last chance at correcting my health.

How did you select your surgeon?


Back in June 2003, I had to have my gall bladder removed, so my family doctor recommended my surgeon. He did such a wonderful job and was an excellent doctor, that my physician recommended him again for the gastric bypass. I was so scared to have the surgery in the first place, but knowing that I could trust this surgeon left me confidant that everything would work out just fine.

Was there a screening process involved?

Absolutely. This is not a surgery for everyone. There are so many risks to this surgery--you have to go through a screening with a psychologist, a nutritionist, a pulmonologist, and a cardiologist. Each doctor runs various tests to see if your body can physically handle the intense surgery, and to make you aware of all the risks to make sure this is truly what you want, and will be able to maintain and adapt to your new life style.



This is Eileen Hickey -- Before her surgery



Eileen, were you frightened? Was your family supportive? What was the recovery like? Was there pain?

Since there are many risks to take into consideration, it was a very hard decision to make. Of course I was scared of the surgery--it was a life decision that I was making, and not knowing if it was the right one.

It took some convincing for my family. I was never completely honest with them on how unhealthy I was and how greatly my health was at risk. When I opened up to them then, they were 100% supportive. I feel it is very imperative to have a good support system while deciding to have the surgery and when recovering , along for the rest of your life.

The recovery went really well for me. I was very fortunate to have experienced no complications during and after surgery. The only small bump that I ran into was a little dehydration for about a week. At the time of healing, it felt a lot worse than what it sounds like. My family and doctors monitored me well and constantly helped me to get fluids into my body. Just like any surgery, there was pain.

I must say though I have had two other major surgeries, and compared to the healing process, this last surgery seemed not as bad. The hardest part of the healing was the emotional factor.

Losing weight at such rapid pace can send your hormones in many different directions, as well as not eating what I was used to. You try your hardest to mentally prepare yourself and the doctors always say you're never 100% prepared--Well they were right! It took me several weeks to adjust physically and emotionally.



This is Eileen October 2005.


How much did you weigh before the surgery, Eileen? How much weight did you lose? What is your weight now? Do you need to lose more?

I am 5'9" and weighed in at 313 lbs. As of my last doctor's visit on August 17th, 2007, I weighed 196 lbs. That is an amazing total of 117 lbs. lost in a little over 8 months. My surgeon's weight loss goal was to get me down to about 180 lbs. to have a normal BMI (Body Mass Index). Since I had lost the majority of my excess fat already, he has predicted that I may loose another 50 -60 lbs. in the next 6-8 months, but by then my body will regulate and gain back some of the weight to were I will be at a healthy, comfortable weight. In my mind, I am healthy now, and that is all that matters. My goal was to never be "skinny," mine was to just be healthy.

I have reached that goal and so, if I never loose another pound, then I will just continue to work out, eat well balanced meals, and be proud of how far I have come along.

What is your daily diet like since the operation compared to before?

Much smaller meals. Even when I tried to eat healthy before the surgery I never realized how large my portions were. Now my portions are very small and mainly protein, with mixes of fruits and vegetable . I don't always make good choices now, I will still have a few chips here and there, or maybe a sugar-free cookie every now and then, but I feel that I have control of my intake and I just try never to overeat because your stomach is a muscle and can be stretched back out. That is how many gain their weight back after they have had this kind of surgery.

This was Eileen Hickey.

Knowing all you know now, Eileen, if you had it to do over, would you have the surgery?

In a heartbeat!!!!

This was the best thing I could have ever done for myself. It was worth every ache or pain from the surgery and every tear I may have cried.

I am blessed to have had such a great support system and for them (family members) to always remind me that this is what I wanted and that I could do it. My sister always reminded me that "the healing process goes quickly and by tomorrow you'll be feeling better". That helped me get though each day knowing that by "tomorrow" I will be a better, happier person.

Would you recommend it to another man or woman contemplating this surgery?

YES!

However, just like a doctor will explain to you that the surgery is like a "tool" and what you do with that "tool" is up to you. Anyone looking for this surgery must know that it is NOT a quick fix and will change your life forever. If you are committed and dedicated then you will have great success and your life will change for the better.

Are you satisfied with the results?

I am very satisfied of my results. I don't like to take full credit, because I feel if I didn't have my family and boyfriend always helping me to do good, then I'm not sure where my results would be right now. I will never regret any decision that I have made because it has saved my life!

And finally, Eileen, how has this operation changed your life?

It has changed my life in multiple ways. For the most part, my health. I no longer have high blood pressure, my asthma is under control, and I am not at a risk for diabetes anymore. Along with losing the weight your confidence goes up, as well. I don't feel as insecure about myself. Walking into places doesn't have me feeling like others are staring at me like a "freak show." Also, buying clothing is much more affordable now, so that's pretty exciting. Overall, this experience has been wonderful, and I hope that I will bring the same to someone else that has this procedure.


This is Eileen Hickey today!

Thank you, Eileen Hickey, for your special words.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Christina Sponias - An Interview

by Linda Della Donna







Meet Christina Sponias.

Christina Sponias is participating in the LKSummer Writing Challenge writing 30 ezinearticles in 60 days. Recently, I had the opportunity to catch up with Christina to ask her for an interview.

Here's what Christina Sponias has to say:

Hello Christina. I just want to say how happy I am to make your acquaintance and I thank you for allowing me the honor to do this interview.

Please tell readers a little about yourself. Where were you born?

I was born and raised in Brazil, but my parents are Greek. We had many security problems in Sao Paulo, where I was born and raised and I decided to live in Athens after finishing high school in Brazil. I started to study alone in Athens and read many books on various scientific subjects.

When did you start writing?

I have been a writer since I was a child, but I wrote poems and literary works. Only after realizing that I was too nervous I started to learn about psychology, in order to solve my problems.

I understand you know about interpreting dreams. Can you tell readers about that.

I had tremendous success with dream interpretation and I could cure many people this way, but my work was too complicated because I continued Carl Jung's research into the unknown region of the human psychic sphere. This is why I delayed presenting the results of my research to the public for so long.

Christina, I understand you are a widow. How long are you a widow? Are you alone? Where do you live? Have you family and friends?

I'm a widow since 1989, and I have a son who is 22 years old. We live with my mother. My father lives alone in Brazil. I have many relatives in Greece, some in Sweden and some in the USA, but my closest family is in Brazil. My dearest friends are dearer than brothers and sisters to me!

I'm a unique child and my parents divorced when I was 14 years old. I even helped them get separated because they were constantly fighting. My father is schizophrenic; that's why I was able to study craziness since I was a child…

I adore my son Stelio, who is a musician. He is a piano composer. He doesn't yet know what exactly to do in his life, but we share a good relationship. Our apartment is always full of his friends—it's like a hotel and a restaurant always at their disposal.

What do you do for a living?

I have a store with Italian clothes for women that my mother and my uncle gave me (but they manage it, I mainly give my opinion…). I have worked there since 1992 and I have many loyal customers. I learned there how important it is to care about my appearance because I was too indifferent in this matter.

Do you have pets?

I have no time for pets… but I like cats very much. I like dogs too; I had a wolf once, but they are much too noisy. I would prefer a sweet and smart Siamese cat if I could have one.

Your website, http://booksirecommend.com is very interesting. Care to describe it for readers and expand on how you hit on this writing niche?

I wanted to start with a site about dream interpretation, but I didn't have any experience with the internet and I was afraid of the traffic because I knew that if I started interpreting everyone's dreams (entirely free of charge of course, because this is philanthropic help), I would have too much work. Everyone close to me asks me about their dreams' meanings… If everyone on the Internet would do the same, I wouldn't be able to devote time to everyone properly. So I decided to prepare a simpler site first of all and write my ebooks in English, because I had everything written in Greek - it didn't help to translate these documents since professional translations are too expensive. I saw how expensive they are when translating my ebook Wisdom from Greek to English…

Fortunately, the English language is very easy and very beautiful! I enjoy writing in English and I think the simplicity of the language helps me be even more objective in my ebooks and articles. Since my first site would be made with my ebooks, it should be the site with the books I would recommend to anyone. However, I'm providing free psychotherapy to everyone through my articles. Therefore, it's not only a site with ebooks but it is also a site with many articles. I write for many related categories, and give free information and advice through my articles.

Christina, please tell readers what brought you to the LKSummer Writing Challenge with Suzanne Lieurance and Kim King? What do you hope to gain by participating in the LKSummer Writing Challenge?

I learned about it on Chris Knight's blog. I adore this blog, I adore Ezine Articles and I adore article writing! I think that article writing is an art, first of all, and it is also a way to say something very objectively in only a few words.

This Writing Challenge is making me write more. I'm writing at least one article per day.

I think I'm already gaining a lot just because I'm participating in it, and in this way I am learning what other writers think and do. It's nice to have a similar interests group, to share our thoughts and learn with others. I like it very much!

Christina, what are your writing goals for the year? What are your greatest writing obstacles? Your greatest writing accomplishments?

I intend to write many articles, give free psychotherapy to everyone and promote my ebooks. Besides the articles, I have many ebooks in mind. I don't know from where to start…

My greatest writing obstacle is the lack of time. I wish I could spend hours and hours writing… but I have many other things to do besides that. First of all, I have to give support to many people who need help. Sometimes I spend a lot of time helping them sort out their problems and visiting their homes, besides doing all my daily work at home, at the store, taking care of my son, etc.

My greatest writing accomplishment was Craziness Prevention, after 19 years of studies and research!

I also wrote another book over 6 and a half years that played a decisive role in my life. It was a literary work that I started writing after a terrible car accident I suffered when I was 15 years old. This book was full of dream symbols. It gave me the key to knowledge; that's why I could understand the dreams' meanings better than Jung himself.

Christina, do you have a favorite book? Do you have a favorite author? Any reason?

I have many favorite books and favorite authors. Most of them are Brazilians, like Carlos Drummond de Andrade and his work "Contos de Aprendiz" – Stories by an Apprentice. I like his delicate humour and his ironic observations. I like Sartre because he is very critical; Maugham too, for the same reason.

I have many favorite scientific books too, like Konrand Lorenz's "Behind the Mirror" and Alfred Hoyle's "Ten Faces of the Universe," because they are very clear, informational and helpful.

What or who motivates you in your writing?

My motivation is the necessity to put an end to craziness, poverty and many other tragedies of our world.

Since my childhood, I wanted to find a way to help everyone live happily. This was the subject of my first literary book, which I wrote when I was 14. The second book was written after a terrible car accident as I mentioned before. It was a continuation of my first work, but with a different perspective.

After these literary works, I became a scientist, researching many scientific subjects and continuing Jung's research into the unknown region of human psychic sphere, but still looking for peace and happiness. I'm very lucky because I finally found where psychic health, peace and balance rely, because this is the only way we can really live happily. Now I only have to convince mankind to accept a general psychotherapy, which is indispensable for everyone.

If you could meet one editor, Christina, and you could ask her one question, what would it be and what would you want "your" favorite editor to know about you, and your writing?

If I would meet one editor, I would ask him if he is interested in very helpful and rare books of very good quality. I'd like him to know that I'm a very serious, sincere and objective writer.

Christina, your website is exceptionally good. I visited www.booksirecommend and came away with insight, inspiration, and motivation. I especially like the the title of your ebook, "Craziness Prevention." Please tell readers one thing special about your book.

Craziness Prevention is the result of more than 19 years of studies and research. This ebook will teach its readers how to prevent craziness and how to exactly interpret their dreams and the facts and events of their daily lives, having more information about themselves, other people and our world in this way. It's an ebook they will always consult since it contains a comprehensive glossary containing the most important dream symbols—a very advanced tool for scientific dream interpretation—which I can provide only because I continued Jung's research and, therefore, I am able to understand the dreams' meanings better than my mentor, by using his own method.

And finally, Christina, what advice do you have to Prevent Craziness for a writer working at a website, writing a book, maintaining a blog, writing interviews, and living?

My advice to this writer and to everyone else is that you shall learn how to interpret your dreams because this will help you immensely for your entire lives! It's like learning a foreign language. In the beginning, you don't understand anything, but as you learn more, things become much easier. The unconscious that produces the dreams works like a real doctor that cures everyone. Dream Interpretation will be taught at schools as soon as the responsible authorities will understand its importance. Craziness is a terrible enemy! We had better eliminate it before it becomes stronger; otherwise, we'll have too many problems to face. However, adults, neurotics, depressed individuals or even people suffering from worse psychological diseases can be helped and cured through dream interpretation if they precisely follow the guidance they receive in their dreams.

Now you'll tell me that you don't have time to write down your dreams and study dream interpretation… I will tell you then that you will certainly find the time if you think that this habit will guarantee your psychological and your physical health, since mind and body are related. You're not only going to have the wisest counsellor that you could ever find at your disposition in the unconscious, you'll also save time and money because you won't need a doctor. You'll mainly find your peace of mind and happiness, which are more important than anything else!

Christina, that is beautiful. I can hardly wait to close my eyes for a good night's sleep and hopefully, make sweet dreams.


You can learn more about Christina Sponias by visiting her website, http://booksirecommend.com

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Andrew Grant - An Interview

by Linda Della Donna

















Meet Andrew Grant.

Andrew Grant is creator of http://www.moneyandmind.com/, a website dedicated to helping visitors grow in wealth, as well as self. Recently, I had the opportunity to ask Andrew Grant for an interview.

Here's what he had to say:

Hi Andrew, please tell readers a little about yourself.

Hi Linda, thanks very much for agreeing to interview me. I have only ever been interviewed once before, by a major national newspaper in the UK about a business I was working in at the time. I spent hours preparing and was really nervous about the whole thing.

The interviewer was abrupt and offhand and I could tell didn’t really care about what he was doing, so I found it all rather uncomfortable and I was very worried about how he would write me up. Well after all that, the piece was spiked and it never appeared. So I’m hoping that my second time will be a little more friendly.

No problem, Andrew. I'm honored and privileged to interview you. Make yourself comfortable. This interviewer is all ears.

OK, about me. I am 49 years old, I live in a beautiful village called Sunningdale, in Berkshire, England. It’s about 30 miles west of London, so we have the advantage of being in the country but with easy access to one of the best cities in the world.

I have been living with my girlfriend, Ginnie for just over a year now and between us we have five grown up children, spread all over the UK, studying or working.

Sunningdale is just a couple of miles from Windsor Castle, the Queen’s country pile and we often go walking in Windsor Great Park, which is several square miles of woodlands, parks and lakes, which used to be the royal back yard, many years ago, but is now open to the public.

I’m just a tourist now like everyone else, but in a previous part of my life, I had a few encounters with the royal family. Mainly because I knew someone with royal connections. I won’t bore you with all the stories, but I did once break a chair that belonged to Prince Andrew.

Andrew, how exciting. Please, elaborate.

We’d been invited to tea (very English) with the Prince, The Duchess of York (Fergie) and their daughters Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie.

The Prince gave us a tour of his house, Royal Lodge. It used to belong to the Queen Mother. H had inherited it after she died and had just spent a lot of money refurbishing the building and restoring the antique furniture.

After the tour we were ushered into the huge drawing room, probably 200 yards long by 100 yards wide, filled with sofas and tables and overstuffed chairs. The servants had laid out tea and sandwiches for us and we helped ourselves.

The Prince motioned me to a chair at one of the tables and I sat down. To my shock, the two front legs, snapped with a loud crack and the chair collapsed, dumping me on the floor with a painful thump.

Fergie rushed over full of sympathy and helped me up. I decided to use humour to cover my embarrassment so I turned to Andrew and said, “Ah, good trick, I bet you use that on all the new visitors”.

To my surprise, he took absolutely no notice of my scintillating wit, expressed no sympathy for my fall, or my embarrassment, but with a concerned face, he picked up the chair and it’s severed legs, and walked out of the room, muttering “That’s another chair I’ll have to get fixed”.
He returned a few minutes later and the incident was never referred to again. Very strange.

Anyway, I’m digressing a bit, but I thought you might like that story.

Andrew, that is an incredible and believable story--Tell me, how is it you chose marketing as your writing niche?

I have pretty much always worked in sales and marketing for the last 25 plus years, so it’s an area I know, though I never gained any formal qualifications or training. I like to think of myself more as a guerilla marketer. Pop in, have a quick skirmish and pop out again, before the enemy has woken up, that sort of approach.

I sporadically work with small businesses to help them build their profile, increase their customer base, keep their customers around for longer and earn more from them.

On the writing side, like a lot of people, I’ve always wanted to write for a living but have found a thousand excuses not to do it. When I was younger I started a few novels, but didn’t finish any of them.

Then in the late eighties, I did some writing for a couple of trade magazines, in the recruitment industry, where I was working. That lead to a regular column which I used to write under a pseudonym, so I could say outrageous things about the industry without any come back. I enjoyed that, but eventually, the magazine folded (yes I know they all fold in the middle) and I didn’t really pursue things for a long time.

More recently, probably due to a mid life crisis (I’m on my third one now), I have decided to pick up the pen again and see if I can make a living from it in some shape or form. These days the world of writing is very different and the internet has opened up all sorts of possibilities that never existed before.

I would ultimately like to combine my marketing capability, my writing and my new found knowledge of the web to support myself by doing all the things I love.

So currently I’m pursuing two writing strands. I have built a website which offers a free newsletter to anyone interested in self development, goal setting, making money online and positive thinking. This gives me the chance to spend time writing the content for the newsletter and occasionally recommending affiliate products that I think are worth looking at.

I am also extensively using article marketing as a way to bring traffic to that site, so I get the chance to write even more.

My second strand is that I am about a third of the way through writing a book called Small Business, Big Ideas. It is a book on marketing techniques for small businesses – typically offline businesses, but a lot of the content will appeal to online business too.

My position is that there is an awful lot of rubbish and jargon talked about marketing and I’m trying to cut through that and show that marketing is actually pretty simple, anyone can do it. I’m also keen to show that it affects every part of a business, from the look of your store or your van, through the reception your customers get on the phone, right through the choosing, buying and after sales process. It’s not just about adverts and brochures.

MY aim though is not to have it published as such. It will be available as an e-book on the web and will be promoted through articles I write, online press releases and a modest pay per click campaign.

I’ll have to finish it first though, and as every writer knows, that’s the toughest part.

Andrew, where do you submit your articles?

I always submit my articles to EzineArticles.com, first. I do submit to other places, but EA is my favorite and they seem to get very wide distribution.

I also just discovered a site called http://www.howtodothings.com/ where I have posted a couple of pieces. Their approach is a bit different in that all their articles have to be titled “How to do…” and they insist on having proper numbered lists, which entails a bit of fiddling about with html – though I think they might be prepared to do that for you.

They are quite a recent site, so I guess they don’t get much traffic yet, but one thing I like is that they have a feature called “suggest a topic”, where people can put in a request for articles they’d like to see, which is a great source of article ideas if you’re stuck for them. Last time I looked there were over 1800 topic requests on everything from relationships to rocket science.

Another site I use a lot for my articles is SubmitYourArticle. (Here’s a link to it; www.money-and-mind.com/sya.htm ) It’s a paid for service but you post your article there once and they send it to, I think at least 20 other sites automatically for you. They also have a thing called Article Leverage, so you can create lots of slightly different versions of your article to avoid duplicate content issues, which might downgrade your article on Google.

What brought you to the Summer Writing Challenge with Suzanne Lieurance and Kim King? What do you hope to gain by participating in the Summer Writing Challenge?

Chris Knight, who runs EA, has a blog and he wrote about the challenge in there. I thought it was a brilliant way to help keep me motivated and meet some of the goals I had already set myself.

I signed up a few days after the start of the challenge, the 6th I think. . It’s the 10th today and I’ve got 10 articles completed so I’m pretty confident of beating the target.

Since I signed up, I’ve been really pleased with the interesting discussions I’ve seen, the encouragement I’ve received, not least from you Linda and the great feeling you get from knowing that there are other people out there working away with similar aims.

It’s easy to forget about the outside world when you’re sat at a desk in your own home, tapping away and sending off your articles on the web, like little boats on a huge ocean. You never know where they’ll go or if you’ll ever hear from them again. So, just knowing that there are others just like you, is a great help.

Andrew, can you tell us your writing goals are for the year? What your greatest writing obstacles are? And perhaps share with readers your greatest writing accomplishments.

I started writing articles in mid-June and by the end of July, I had done about 55, so I was reasonably pleased with progress. But I’ve been very mindful of the fact that you need to have about 250 articles out there before you start to see real volumes of traffic. I’ve seen that figure quoted by both Christopher Knight at EA and also by Jeff Herring, the Article Guy and he’s got over 1,000 articles on EA, so he should know.

I promised myself that I would get my score up to 100 by September 21st, which will be the three month point from my first submission. That should also see me past the Summer Challenge score as well, so the two go together nicely.

After that, I’d like to get to 250 by the end of the year, which will only be a further 3 months, so I’ll have to go even faster, but I’m enjoying it, so it hopefully won’t be too difficult.

In a way, though, what’s more important, is the traffic that those articles bring to my site. I’ve been tracking progress on that and I reckon that my articles bring me about 20 visitors a day. That isn’t much, I know, but it continues to steadily grow and apart from my time, those visitors are completely free.

I also find that they are far more likely to sign up for the newsletter than the ones who come via pay per click, so it’s quality traffic. My eventual aim is to survive on free article traffic alone, but that will take a while.

I can’t really say I have any great obstacles, except for my uncanny ability to focus on the wrong things and I can be a terrible procrastinator – I write articles about how to overcome it, but I don’t always practice what I preach.

I’d say my greatest writing accomplishment is yet to come and will be when I finish Small Business, Big Ideas. Prior to that the thing I enjoyed having written the most was a silly little sketch that a friend and I performed at a party. It was a short parody of a popular Australian soap opera and it was really satisfying to see people genuinely falling about laughing. That’s a great feeling.

Andrew, you have a great sense of humor. Please share what your favorite book is, if you have one and who your favorite author is. Any reason?

When I was younger I used to devour fiction by the crate load and depending on which era of my life you’re talking about, my favourites have been EA Johns (Biggles books), Hemingway, Jack Kerouac, Norman Mailer, Graham Greene, Ian McEwen.

For the last few years I have spent much more time reading non-fiction. I hated History in school but I rediscovered it in my late thirties and I’ll guzzle down anything on WW2 or more recent world history and biographies of Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin etc. I’m reading Robert Dallek’s great bio of JFK at the moment, An Unfinished Life.

My father served in WW2. He flew in bombers and got shot down over Berlin and spent two years in a prison camp. In a way it was like having a piece of living history in the family, but when I was a kid I didn’t appreciate it. I’m glad to say I did take the time to ask him about it before he died and one day I’d like to write about it.

He left me a few mementoes, such as his dog-tag from the camp and some cigarette tins hand-made from scrap aluminum, by Russian prisoners which they used to trade for bread and cigarettes. I’d say those are among my most treasured possessions.

But in terms of one favourite book – that’s tough. The two I’ve probably read more times than any other would be To Kill a Mockingbird. No wonder Harper Lee never wrote anything that came close to that book – it is absolutely perfect in it’s evocation of childhood. And the other one is One Hundred years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – he creates such a wonderful, yet slightly off balance world with his mad extended Buendia family and the history of their town.

Recently I discovered Isabel Allende, another South American novelist who tells great rip-roaring stories in a similar vein to Marquez.

Andrew, what or who motivates you in your writing?

What motivates me is the pleasure I get from writing. I don’t claim to be a great writer, in fact I’m a bit of a hack and that used to bother me. I was always trying to craft the perfect sentence, with pretensions to great literature, but writing articles for the web has sort of liberated me and I’m content now to write in a purely conversational tone. I’m writing the book in the same style so I hope people find it easy to read because that’s one of my main aims.

The other great motivation is when someone reads something of mine and gives me good feedback. That’s a really uplifting feeling. I found a quote the other day from George M. Adams, who said “I don't care how great, how famous or successful a man or woman may be, each hungers for applause."

I think that is so true. We all need positive feedback.

Actually, I confess I don’t know who Adams is or was – perhaps someone can tell me.

Andrew, if you could meet one editor, could ask one question, what would that question be? Also, what would you want "your" favorite editor to know about you, and your writing?

A year or so ago, I wrote a series of light hearted pieces about internet dating and my experiences thereof. I thought it was pretty funny (but then I would, wouldn’t I?), and I sent it to a few editors. All of them rejected it. So I’d like to ask them what was wrong with it.

Apart from that I don’t really care about editors – they’re not needed on the web. Which, to be honest, I realise is not necessarily a good thing, but what I mean is they don’t really figure in my plans.

Your website is exceptionally good. I visited http://www.moneyandmind.com/ and came away with useful free information. I especially like your blog link and specifically your July 23, 2007 entry "My Mission Statement." Please expand on this.

Thanks, you are very kind about my site. I think it’s still very amateurish. I’m just pleased that I took the plunge and actually put it out there instead of endlessly tinkering with it and never actually making it available, which is one of my tendencies.

I wrote my mission statement because I always write down my goals. However I have never “published” them before. In a way it makes you accountable and that’s what I was aiming to achieve. However, it’s a pretty limited accountability.

I just checked my web stats (I’m a bit of a web stats geek) and I see that particular post has been viewed a grand total of three times since I posted it! One of those was you, one of those was me and the other one, I think was a guy called Ronnie who sent me a very nice testimonial about my newsletter, which I put on the front page because it is the only testimonial I’ve ever had.

So I figure that if I don’t achieve my goals, neither you nor Ronnie is likely to take ship across the Atlantic and berate me personally for my failure. I hope not anyway.

And finally, Andrew, what advice do you have for a budding writer working at a website, writing a book, maintaining a blog and writing interviews looking to earn a living off her site?

My advice comes not from a position of having achieved it, so I’m not best qualified, but I’ve come to realise two things. It’s a long slow process and you have to enjoy what you’re doing or what’s the point?

And the second thing is you just have to keep plodding on and believing in your goal, believing in the process of how you’re going to get there and it will come. I do firmly believe that.

I also think that one of the great motivators for me is that I hope in some small way that what I do, is helping people. You obviously have that same instinct Linda, given the work that you do with the bereaved – that must give you great satisfaction and I firmly believe that what we do for others will come back to us in some form or other.

Finally, from the writing angle I have found that the more I write, the more I enjoy it. It used to be tough to motivate myself, but now that I’m writing nearly every day, it flows much more easily, so ‘keep writing’ is my best advice.

Thanks very much - Andrew.


No, Andrew, it is I who thank you. You are a great writer and it is an honor and privilege to do this interview.



You can learn more about Andrew Grant by visiting his website, http://wwwmoneyandmind.com/ or reading his blog at http://www.money-and-mind.com/blog. You have permission to contact Andrew at info@money-and-mind.com