Happy Sunday afternoon to everyone!! It’s more than a little grey and rainy outside here today, which I actually like once in a while. (unfortunately, we have them seemingly every 3 days or so.) When the rainy day falls on a Sunday, though, it feels like an extra dose of creativity dropped on my doorstep.

So, grab a comfy spot and a cup of coffee or tea, and join me for a stroll down memory lane with today’s guest author. Today, instead of an interview, I’ll be sharing a story by author Faith Ann Colburn, who writes about the importance of family, the value of simple things, and growing up in the Midwest. Having grown up in large cities and never having set foot in most of the states that occupy the central part of the country, I certainly know that country life is not the life for me, but I get a certain appreciation of simplicity and nostalgia reading Faith’s work.

Faith has penned a novel called “Threshold: A Memoir”, which is a collection of short stories about one American family’s journey through weathering the good, the bad, and the downright ugly—and ultimately surviving the journey. Her book transports readers not only into the world of prairie life, but discusses issues that are ultimately human, revealing, and universal. It is available through a simple visit to Amazon, and is a mere $2.99 if you’re a Kindle owner, so there’s really no reason not to add it to your reading list!



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Without any further rambling on my part, here’s today’s guest post, a story by author Faith Ann Colburn. 

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Memory: Catch Me If You Can

My great-grandmother Frank (yes that was her name) died when I was fourteen. She’d seen the prairie when it was still mostly grasslands and wandering bands of Otoe displaced from their homes. She remembered starving Indians staring at her through the windows as she kneaded bread, which she always gave to them. She remembered making do with simple stuff like a tree limb to harrow the fields. (She was the one behind the horse.) And that’s all I know of Grandma Frank’s rich experience of a life very different from my own, even though it was very close to the place where I grew up. She was just old and I was young and dumb and I didn’t realize she knew things that would ever matter to me. I never listened.

But I remember standing on Grandma’s front step where I could see the shadow of some buildings. “That’s Mount Clare,” Grandma Hazel said. “It’s a mirage.”

I’d seen mirages in the movies, where people wandered on the desert, dying of thirst. So that seemed dramatic enough to remember. What I saw was a reflection of the town on the clouds. Conditions had to be just right to see it and I think I only saw it once more. But the explanation of those distant buildings, five-to-ten miles away, represent the first story I remember my grandmother telling me. Fortunately, she lived fifty years after I was born, so she told me lots more stories.

Have you ever spent an hour or two with someone who talks faster than you can listen? Usually, those folks are trying to sell you something. Or maybe they’re not comfortable with themselves and silence frightens them. Well, Grandma never talked very fast, but I listened very slo-o-o-owly. In fact, by the time I really heard, it was almost too late. My grandmother had passed her ninety-eighth birthday.

Grandma’s stories were always mixed up with some activity, most often outdoors. The problem was that, since they were so mixed up with ordinary work, it took me many years to realize they were special. We worked on a farm; she was busy and so was everybody else. But I don’t think she could help herself. She had to tell those stories . . . and whenever I checked her, I found them to be true.

So finally, belatedly, it dawned on me that I had an unbelievable, rich archive of my very own family. I had access to a woman who could talk to me in exquisite detail of seven generations. And in those seven generations she could describe every conceivable kind of hardship and how my family, people whose DNA I carry, have struggled with those hardships and survived and, in almost all cases, thrived.

We were sorting through old photos, identifying people and writing names on the backs when it occurred to me to record her stories. I asked if she’d mind repeating her stories so I could tape them. She agreed. We made an appointment every Wednesday afternoon at two p.m. I brought my tape recorder and we sat in her living room, both facing the street so we wouldn’t miss anything, and talked. I recorded a ninety-minute tape cassette each Wednesday until I had thirty hours of our voices describing, in Technicolor detail, one extraordinarily ordinary family. I worked with that material, and a lot more I found in archives and county histories and other people’s memories, including my own, for more than eighteen years. I published my memoir, Threshold: A Memoir, at the end of 2012, fifteen years after Grandma died.

It seems kind of selfish now to have mined that woman’s memory as I did, but I think Grandma was hungry for an excuse to get some attention my sister and I were too busy and worn out with jobs and kids to give. It must have provided a nice break for her. All the other afternoons, she went to the local nursing home to “take care of the old folks.” One of those old folks was her daughter. Nina had ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s disease. The only time I ever say my Grandmother shed a tear, she’d just come from the home, just exhausted. She leaned on a little claw-foot table in her living room and tried to gather herself back up. “It’s just hard,” she said, “to watch her die an inch at a time.” With her usual stoicism, she refused the dramatic moment, wiped one tiny tear from the corner of her eye and asked if I wanted some grapes before we got started.

* * *

As a post script, I might add that, while logic would indicate interviewing the oldest generation first, sometimes that plan may come back to bite you. As I was interviewing Grandma, my mother became incoherent as a result of Alzheimer’s. So it’s back to the county histories and maybe a jazz museum or two to tease out a big city family, a cousin of Henry Ford, a big band singer and severe mental illness. I call my novel-in-progress, based on my mother’s and dad’s lives, Gravy, because the odds against most of the good stuff are astronomical.



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To contact Faith:
* Website: http://faithanncolburn.com
* Blog: http://faithanncolburn.wordpress.com
* Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/colburnfa
* Twitter: http://twitter.com/colburnfa
* Threshold: A Memoir on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Threshold-A-Memoir-ebook/dp/B009ZIJPV8
* * *

Thank you so very much to Faith for being my guest here this Sunday, and of course I’ll be back next week with another author, discussing what you should be reading and why, and hopefully inspiring you into completing that creative feat of your own!

If you spend the next day or so with “Threshold: A Memoir”, vicariously living the Nebraskan life, certainly nobody will hold your absence against you. ;)


“When it comes to friendship, some people value quantity over quality. I’m not into that. I know and speak to a lot of people, sure, and I value those relationships, but if we’re able to move past the small-talk phase and really become friends, it lasts forever. That is so much more valuable to me than knowing 1000 people in every area code. I love that when I see my friends, we pick up right where we left off. Deep, reflective friendships infused with magic and positivity: that’s what I cherish.

I used to go out every night, but the older I get, the less I want to do that. For a few years, I’ve regarded this change as a kind of flaw — like I “should” be going out all the time, flitting around, being super-social. But that’s not who I am anymore, and I would rather see a couple of people a week — and have a truly meaningful interaction with them — than have the same conversation a million times a night. Of course, I love to go out and meet new people, but it feels like less of a “need” these days. I’m working on accepting that, and learning that that’s okay.”— Gala Darling

In addition to being bloggers and city-loving chicks who march to the beat of a slightly different drummer (perhaps with a 1980′s goth track to go along with the drummer, Gala and I share a number of things as people. We’re the same Meyers-Briggs type. We share an Enneagram number. We even have compatible astrological signs. We both struggle with a number of the same issues, have some of the same stories to tell about our earlier years, and know a number of the same people. So, when she happens to express something that’s close to precisely how I’m feeling about my life, there’s this moment of synchronicity that says: Oh yeah. That. There’s another slightly crazy human being out there who thinks the same way I do most of the time, but in this instance, said it better.

For those who don’t know, in addition to being a freelance writer and blogger, I run a social group in the Atlanta area. Prior to that, I was on the “board of directors” (and I use that term loosely, because there was absolutely no “direction”) of another social group, which unceremoniously kicked me out due to the generally scandalous nature of my life and the uninhibited adventures that will probably ensue if you know me well enough. Of course, the truth is, there happened to be a few people who didn’t like me very much, and it took them a long time to get rid of me. They had to try REALLY hard. :P So, in the spirit of “I have little respect for any club that would have me as a member”, when a friend I met via that group called me to ask me to take over his social group, I pretty much laughed in his face. Well, I laughed at his phone, but he got the idea. Why in the world would I put myself through that nonsense again?

It turned out to be the best thing that ever could have happened, when he finally talked me into it. It was really kind of a swap; I lived in his apartment, which meant I moved out of my ex’s apartment, until his lease was up. In return, his group was in good hands. I made not only new friends, but people who have been through stuff with me for the past 6 years. I met two roommates, a few romantic entanglements, some really wonderful friends, and the Guy I Am Currently Dating. Saying “yes” to doing something I’d just done and failed at so miserably that it destroyed any sense of peace and stability in life actually helped me rebuild my life at its lowest point, which is quite ironic. (I think. I’m never sure what’s REALLY ironic. Thanks, Alanis.)

In the almost 6 years I’ve run the group, I’ve planned over 300 events for members, and many, many more for my circle of friends. Something that started out with 350 members now has over 1800 members. Couples have met, moved in together, gotten married. It’s been a relatively good thing.

Yet, sometimes, it’s exhausting and I feel like I am simply too old for being in charge of entertaining strangers. Other times, I feel ill-equipped to run a social group; I’m not terribly organized, I’m not always social, I speak my mind in a way that isn’t what one thinks of as “proper”, and, let’s be honest, I’m an extrovert who isn’t always terribly fond of people. I have literally thousands of acquaintances, but I’m very choosy about my friends. Out of every 100 people I meet, I’ll find one with whom I really connect and will build a strong friendship.

Maybe it’s because I’m not out there looking to get drunk and hook up, two of the major past-times in any social group. I left all that craziness behind years ago, probably due to this process I like to call “growing up”. Unfortunately, when I see people who haven’t completed that process (and from what I observe, the process may start all over again once you hit 45.), I’ve found I grow more and more impatient. People that others are amused by based on charm and style have suddenly become those I want to strangle, and be like “Why aren’t you a substantial and intelligent person? And if you are, why don’t you show it?” Back in the day, those were the people I’d date. You can make up for a lack of any personal attribute with charisma, and I know that as well as anyone, so it annoys me that I am the person who now sees through that veneer. People have become more transparent to me over the past few years, and I’ve become remarkably less willing to spend time with someone not really out there looking to connect in any sort of meaningful way.

I used to be a bit of a snob, or as an old friend put it back in the day, “aloof”. It’s an odd quality for an extroverted personality, but the truth is, I read people well enough most of the time to know that I don’t want to know everyone. I want to create an atmosphere where other people will get to know those who are right for them, but I don’t have interest in being everyone’s new best friend. I don’t go to events seeking new kindred spirits, lifelong friends, or romantic connections. I never really have. I’m just me, and if I find that, I do. If I don’t, it’s not going to ruin my enjoyment of life.

These days, my impatience with people who come across in a way that’s obnoxious, creepy, or designed to be charming but is transparently fake kind of makes me a bitch. It’s not the best asset in a person who is supposed to radiate love and joy and that crap at all times.

It’s also become more difficult for me to hide my emotions, and keep the pieces of myself that aren’t all that loveable or appropriate for basic social interaction hidden. For instance, yesterday, I was upset because my telephone broke. The Guy I Am Currently Dating came over with a replacement, and I asked if we could do the phone thing later because the process of getting ready to go out and coordinate a large event is stressful enough for someone dealing with anxiety. He said that I didn’t have to do anything, because he would look at it. It turns out, my phone broke because I misunderstood the ambiguous instructions on the battery and damaged it, and was a complete idiot. Then, to add to my stress, he got mad and yelled at me because I was not apologetic about breaking the battery and it “didn’t seem like I cared”. A huge argument ensued, where for the 50th time, I had an emotional breakdown about dating someone who seems to expect a different way of dealing with the world and higher level of perfectionism than I can handle.

I was sobbing, and couldn’t talk, and trying not to ruin my makeup…but I didn’t want to host an event for strangers. I didn’t want to have to put on a smile and make small talk about life and be the cheerful hostess. I would have been a lousy 1950′s housewife. So often, I have to totally get rid of any evidence that I can’t handle my life and have been known to spend hours in bed wishing myself out of existence. And then there’s always one person in the group who doesn’t like me because I’m loud or snarky or not always perky and happy, or writes a bad review because the event was boring, the venue sucked, or there weren’t any good-looking single people in attendance. (totally not my responsibility.) It’s often a reminder, again, of all the ways I am just not good enough, no matter how hard I try.

Sometimes, I think of that old song with the lyrics, “Smile, though your heart is aching; smile, even though it’s breaking.”

And then there’s the matter of the pictures. I take a lot of pictures, and I share them with the world, because, one day, I will be a cold dead corpse somewhere and I’d like people to remember the lively version of me. I don’t take photos out of vanity, and I don’t use them to present a certain “image”. I actually get quite frustrated with people who say “Can you not publish this because I look bad?” and “Can you not publish this because so-and-so might see it?” and “This picture makes me feel like if others see it I’ll be judged”. I feel like I’m living in a world where I’m the only one out there who didn’t drink the Kool-Aid. I don’t care if people see me drinking, doing something embarrassing, hanging out somewhere, or looking like an idiot. Those are all aspects of me, things I’ve done, and I’m generally ashamed of very little. I don’t care if I look unattractive, or I’m posing with a whip or dancing in a cage. I’ve sent pictures of me dancing in a cage in a see-through top to my mother. She thought I looked cute. :P

Today, I got a very abrupt message from a friend that said “Hi. Some of the pictures you’re posting do not belong on Facebook.”

In my opinion, my life belongs on Facebook, so when someone sends me a judgement, it immediately makes me angry. However, I very nicely replied that if she had issues with any photos, she could politely ask me to remove them. One person’s judgment regarding what I post may be different from mine, and I can’t help but feel it’s certainly not appropriate to judge my actions by your standards. I judge my actions by my standards. (and there was nothing even slightly offensive on there. I actually removed a lot of photos that didn’t seem the most appropriate thing to post, in my opinion, and edited others.) She did then ask, and I removed them, but really….at this point, I’m just exhausted.

I spend so much time trying to make other people happy, and it is (excuse the undignified language) NEVER FUCKING GOOD ENOUGH. There is always someone unhappy with me, all the time, despite the fact I spend a lot of my time investing in other people. There’s always some imperfection, something wrong with me and how I see the world that’s worthy of criticism.

So, I get it. I suck. I will never be good enough for most people, most of the time. That’s why I will probably die single and alone, and never, ever get romantically attached to a person who genuinely loves me, sees a future with me, is compatible with me, and can avoid lying/cheating/being a douchebag all at the same time. That’s why I don’t have many friends, I just know a lot of people.

And that’s why, most of the time, it’s easier and less emotionally exhausting just to stay home. I don’t make myself feel badly about being me, I’m perfectly comfortable with my blunt and open lifestyle, I don’t make racist or misogynistic comments, I don’t think I’m a sucky person to date, I don’t beat myself up when I make mistakes or wonder why I’m just that damned stupid, and I don’t go through phases where other people and things cause me to become emotionally and practically unavailable to myself. In addition, I find myself somewhat attractive, even if I’m old and fat and boring. I like all the same TV shows and bands as myself, and find myself to be an entertaining drinking companion.

So, yes, as Gala noted on her blog, the older I get, the less I feel like going out or dealing with people. Because, no matter what you do, people only seem to notice all the ways in which you’re not perfect or even likeable…and for someone to whom that’s quite important, handling that can be difficult. Feeling underappreciated and misunderstood is hard.

Fortunately, I get me, and I have a ton of books and TV shows I like. This must be what makes people want to become introverts.

When it’s just you that you need to worry about making happy, being perfect isn’t quite so necessary.

A few weeks ago, a writer by the name of Troy Jackson was kind enough to run an interview with me on his blog, and I got a lot of positive feedback from said appearance. Since it’s really not that difficult to get me to like you—all you have to do is give the impression that you like me and think I’m fabulous in some way—I promised to return the favour and have Troy over here as a guest on Jaded Elegance.



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Yes, yes, I do interview male authors once in a while. ;P In fact, Troy’s writing couldn’t be more out of the realm of what I typically write and/or read, being that he’s a sci-fi lover who writes supernatural fiction with a historical element. However, with all the friends I know from different geek-related events, and DragonCon, I’m certain that more than a few people I know will find his work far more compelling than the stuff I usually write about.

Ironically, I’m posting this interview quite early because tomorrow I’ll be accompanying The Guy I Am Currently Dating to the Atlanta Browncoats gathering (a monthly brunch meeting for people who have a love of the show “Firefly” and generally all things sci-fi. Nobody there will ever talk to me about a single show I watch on a regular basis. *laughs* :P ) So, once again, Universe, you have perfect timing.

In addition to his proud geek status, outstanding writing abilities, and interesting personality, one of the things you have to find endearing about Troy Jackson is his snarky sense of humour. Well, if you’re me, you have to find it endearing. I’d like to think if you’re reading this, we share the same level of respect for snarky humour.

That being said, I present this week’s willing victim for this lovely little feature. By the time you read this, I’ll likely be half-awake and having a Bloody Mary. For maximum enjoyment, may I suggest you do the same?


1) Please tell the readers a bit about yourself. Where are you from, where do you reside now, and what is your latest project?

Troy Jackson — aspiring author and father. I was born in Grand Rapids, MI, but moved to the Atlanta, GA area when I was 3. I have lived there ever since.

I began writing when I was very young, but “professionally” I’d say the last couple of years. I am currently working on my second novel of The Elementals series.

2) If you don’t mind, share a little bit about your latest book? What genre do you write, and who do you consider your ideal reader? What is it about your writing that makes it stand out from the pack?

My debut novel, The Elementals, was released in October of 2012. In a nutshell it is a fictional tale that uses actual historical events that occurred in ancient China some 2200 years ago. I simply add my own supernatural twist to a time period that very few know about. If action, fantasy, supernatural, historical fiction, or historical fantasy is your thing, than this might be for you! Many of my novels in the future will likely fall into similar categories. The ideal reader I would say is, of course, one who enjoys that sort of sub-genres, but it is also meant for ages 13+. There is nothing gratuitous in it, but some of the actions scenes can be a little…descriptive?

As for what makes my writing stand out from the pack… I have always enjoyed history, but found it rather dull as far as how it is written. So I felt it could use a little… spicing up! Even after I finish this trilogy (yes, I plan on there being three books in this series), I’ll be doing similar things in the future.

 

3) When it comes to the creative process, what inspires you? Tell us a little bit about how your latest book came into being.

History. Soothing music. Powerful movies and TV series. Gripping novels.

The Elementals was born out of a single scene that would replay in my head over and over and over again a few years back. It ends up being the very first chapter in the book. From there I tied it to a historical figure that I learned about back in a college history class, and built the story around him. The First Emperor of China is little-known in the United States, but he is truly a fascinating figure.

4) Did you decide to go with a traditional publisher, an indie publisher, or self-publish your latest work? What do you consider the benefits and the drawbacks of the particular route you’ve chosen?

Being new to the industry I knew that it was a major uphill battle to try and find a traditional/trade publisher. But I tried for about 8 months. Being an impatient person I did not want to wait any longer, so after rejection letter #20 I decided to go the self-publishing route.

The benefits of going the self-publishing route would certainly include the ease of it all. The company I went with, Virtual Bookworm, was very responsive, answering my many amateurish questions with a smile. They also put everything together for me and I had to do very little during the process. When I finally got a hardcover and paperback copy of my novel in my hands I was impressed. The quality was something that I was a little worried about, but they did a superb, professional job. I would be proud to have it sitting next to others in a Barnes and Noble bookstore somewhere in the world.

The drawbacks would be what most authors run across when they go this route. First, it is money out of your pocket. Money you may never see again, because it is such a difficult market to get your foot into. People don’t realize that VERY few authors ever really “hit the big time” and make a decent living out of writing. I decided to do it right from the very beginning and I hired my own graphic artist to create the book cover, which I am very happy with, and have numerous compliments on. But that is not cheap, either. Also, and it is an absolute must I believe, but I hired an editor and she did her best to tear it up to help build my novel into a readable story. That is also not cheap. Outside of that, as far as the publisher I chose is concerned, I think the only complaint I would have is that they did very little marketing for me. I have had to do about 98% of the marketing, and that is not something I am accustomed to. But I am learning!

One other thing I thought of is the stigma attached to a self-published novel. Because ANYONE can self-publish a novel, there has been a glutton of terrible novels out there over the years, and given some of the good, legitimate self-published authors a bad rap. It’s a huge hurdle that I am having to overcome, but I am confident I will!

5) Where, when, and how did you get your start in the writing world? Is this your first publication?

Troy Jackson — in the Conservatory with the Lead Pipe

Sorry, that’s my corny attempt at humor. Hey, my four-year-old finds me funny….sometimes!

No, as I mentioned before I would say I began to “professionally” write a couple of years ago. After reading and doing a great deal of research on how the whole process goes, what sort of pitfalls to avoid, etc. I put together a vision of exactly what I was going to do, from start to finish. And it ended up happening almost exactly how I envisioned it. And yes, The Elementals is my first publication.

6) What do you consider to be the most challenging part of the creative process?

The most challenging thing would be finding the time and not getting so easily distracted. I laugh at myself often, saying that I have “writer’s ADD”. I might begin writing, and then my wife, my dogs, my daughter, something on TV, some dorky computer game, or many other things distract me.

7) What is the part of the process that comes the most naturally to you?

The actual writing. Or I should say the first draft. I picture the scene playing in my head like a movie scene, and then begin to write it. I can fill in the blanks later if I need more description.

8) Other than yourself, of course, who is your favourite author? What’s the last book you read that really spoke to you in some way, and why?

Robert Jordan, author of the greatest fantasy series of all-time (in my humble opinion), The Wheel of Time. Unfortunately, Mr. Jordan passed away in 2007 and we will never again hear further tales.

9) All writers face rejection at some point. What is your most memorable (either in terms of a painful lesson or funny anecdote) experience that came about through rejection? What did you take away from that experience?

Nearly all rejection letters that I received (and what I read from other authors out there that got similar replies) were form letters. “Thank you for submitting your novel, Mr. Jackson, blah blah blah, but it was not for me.” Or perhaps “I could not do it justice.” Unlike some authors, I don’t get mad. I learn from it. I understand that agents and publishers receive THOUSANDS upon THOUSANDS of queries every year, and they have very little time to grab what they feel is the cream of the crop. Besides, an agent has to be very careful, because it is their neck on the line, their reputation on the line, when they peddle an author’s work to a publisher. So you really have to stand out and have something very marketable. Even the best authors out there will tell you they were rejected dozens, if not hundreds of times before they ever found someone to take them on.

10) If there were one thing you’d like to improve about your life or your writing at this point in time, what would it be? Ultimately, where do you see yourself with your writing further down the line?

Quit being so distracted. In the near future, the next couple of years I plan on completing The Elementals trilogy. After that, I have a dozen other ideas for novels that I would like to put pen to paper on.


11) You maintain a blog where, among other things, you interview other authors about their creative experiences. What have you learned through doing this? Has getting to know other authors and listening to their stories helped you improve as a writer, or feel more inspired?

My blog is housed on my main website at: http://www.tempestworks.com. I have seen other authors and bloggers interview authors and other members of the industry, and I thought it would be a fantastic way to meet others with similar aspirations. Learning from others’ experiences, I feel, is a great way to improve my own writing.

12) What’s your Zodiac sign?

Virgo

13) Of course, we both want readers to rush right out and grab a copy of your latest book! Please tell us where we can find it. Additionally, if you have a blog, website, Facebook, or Twitter, please let us know so we’re able to follow you.


Website/blog

Goodreads

The Elementals on AMAZON

The Elementals on Barnes and Noble

Facebook

Twitter

Thank you for having me!



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I’d like to thank my fabulous guest, Troy Jackson, for stopping by to chat about all things literary, and his well-reviewed publication. He really is a wonderful indication of the positive direction in which the indie publishing scene is headed, one focused on more imaginative and higher quality works, rather than the desire to sell poorly edited 99 cent Kindle books. It has been a pleasure to speak with someone intelligent and insightful, and I hope many of you–especially those who love sci-fi and fantasy– will take the time to read his work. Also, do take the time to explore Troy’s blog, as both the aesthetic appeal and content are certain to draw you in.

I’m looking forward to seeing you all next Sunday, where we’ll have a change of pace, and our guest author will be composing a post especially for this segment rather than doing a traditional interview.

Are you an author or other creative being who’d like to be featured on my Sunday Literary Libations corner in some fashion? Don’t hesitate to drop me an e-mail at ladyguenevere@gmail.com

One of the conundrums I’ve always faced as a blogger whose primary subject of interest is me is exactly how much of my life to put out there, and what’s better left unsaid. When I first started blogging, frankly, one of the things that set my blog apart from others was that I had a level of openness in my writing most people weren’t willing to exhibit to strangers on the Internet.

While this gained me a number of fans and I’d receive letters from strangers commending me on my honesty, I also received a disturbing amount of hate mail. Being the oversensitive type, it was difficult to deal with being someone whom others would trash on their blogs after reading my blog. I wasn’t prepared for people to use my vulnerability against me, and I should have been, as people certainly do that in real life.

I also wasn’t prepared for the fact that my willingness to open up to the world would win me admirers, and even stalkers..and also people determine to use this medium as a way to attack me in a manner that really affected my normal day-to-day life. At some point, I had to learn to put some walls up to protect myself, and to stop writing to the Internet as if I were writing to my diary. Although “Jaded Elegance: The Uninhibited Adventures Of A Chic Web Geek” tends to get more personal than most, it’s a much less personally revealing site than it was.

I attempted to counteract these issues by starting a friends-only blog that only a handful of real-life friends were able to access. Twice, someone I trusted enough to allow access to that blog printed out those entries to use against me in ways that were hurtful and destructive. Fool me three times, I’m a freaking idiot, so now I keep a paper journal and write letters in addition to blogging.

One of the issues I’ve always had is dealing with blogs, close friendships, and relationships. Those who matter the most to you are very likely to become a subject of your blog, but you don’t want to be that person who passive-aggressively uses a public blog to discuss a private issue. You don’t want to go on a date and blog about it the next morning, unless something momentous happened. You don’t want to use it as a forum to trash your ex, your boss, your parents, whoever—but at the same time, you want to fulfill the purpose of having this type of blog in the first place–authentic self-expression.

An interesting verbal-sparring partner (we don’t seem to see eye to eye on much, especially when it comes to relationships and gender issues and the like, yet we seem to discuss really complex ideas in a very intelligent fashion without personally insulting one another—something that’s rare to come by!) and long-time fellow blogger Bill Cammack has what I hope is a somewhat tongue-in-cheek guide to dating those who have some level of internet presence or are “microcelebrities”. While he discusses things on a whole different plane than some of the conundrums I’ve encountered as a blogger— he’s discussing what to do when you’re always going to end up on social media with someone, but you’re dating multiple people, and I’m more concerned with how much of your relationship is appropriate to share with an audience—there is some truth and some overlap. At some point, anyone with a noticeable social media presence will have to deal with this issue.

I used to blog about everything when it came to my relationships, especially if things weren’t going well. It didn’t occur to me that this was making things worse, and even if I don’t name names, people KNOW who I’m talking about. In fact, because I can share my thoughts and feelings far more rationally in writing than via uncomfortable conversation (which may often end up in me walking away at some point because I’m too upset to deal.), I thought putting it all out there in an honest way was helpful. After all, you want your partner to know what you’re thinking and feeling, right?

It wasn’t until 2005, when I was dating someone who said, “Look, it’s either this blog or me, because I think you thrive on the drama and like me better as a character than a person”, that I took a step back. At one point, I was actually offline (except for my “secret” blog) for a bit over a year.

Obviously, I’m back, and I still write about my personal life. It turns out, that guy wasn’t worth taking the blog down for, in any sense, and it’s not a mistake I’ll repeat. Anyone who loves me should love my blog. In fact, I actually take it as a slight and a sign of utter disinterest that I have one or two people in my life I consider important to me, and they flatly refuse to read this blog. It’s hard not to think, “Really? You can log in to check your e-mail and surf pictures of Grumpy Cat, but my blog isn’t worth reading?”

This evening, I realised I felt very minimalised when I asked The Guy I Am Currently Dating over dinner whether he read my latest author interview. He said “Well, I looked at it, but no. It seemed the same as the others.”. I pointed out that many of the questions were different, and he said, “Well, it didn’t look that way, so I didn’t check it out. Sorry.”

Maybe it’s just me and my co-dependent, easily-infatuated-for-a-certain-period-of-time type of personality, but when I’m really into someone, I read everything they write. I read everything that’s out there about them (and given some of the people in my past, that’s not always been a small feat! :P . I look at the pictures they post and listen to that random song they shared because they listened to it 12 times. I’m not that crazy stalker kind of girl, but many years of dating have augmented my liberal arts education. My horizons have been broadened through the people I know, and the fact that me taking an interest in a person means taking an interest in whatever that person is up to. I won’t pretend to like it or understand it if I don’t—I could never end up with a guy completely devote to, say, baseball—but when I care about someone, I’m really invested in learning more about them and their life and their thoughts and feelings.

To have someone who won’t read my blog, or a different someone who doesn’t read interviews where I talk about random stuff, or someone who never checks out anything on my Facebook page….I can’t help but read, “I like you, but I’m just not that into you.” And, in some of the aforementioned cases, that’s exactly true. But when it comes from the person I’ve been with for years, it’s a little less acceptable.

Anyhow, this post had a point before it got sidetracked, as I so often do. The point is, I’m never sure what to do at times when there’s so much going on in my life and I’d love to be able to write about it and process it here, but it’s all of an intensely personal nature, but I can’t.

This week, before all the chaos unfolded in Boston (I have family who lives up in the Cambridge area, near the MIT campus, and they are fortunately all well, if a bit skittish these days.), I had some situations pop up in my life that threw me for a loop. I’d been feeling blindsided by people in my life, people I was willing to wear my heart on my sleeve for…and there were three separate and meaningful incidents with people I care for that made me feel hurt, angry, neglected, or betrayed. For some time, I felt the need for drastic change. It’s tough to look at the people you care about more than anything and say, “I know you’re nicer to me than you are to most people, but the way you’ve treated me in this situation, I can’t ignore. I deserve so much better, and if you don’t know that, I *really* deserve so much better.”

It’s been hard for me to internalise these feelings and these situations, and to generally feel lost. I sometimes feel like an idiot for caring too much, for investing in all the wrong people, for falling for people who will always have limitations on our relationship and developing friendships with people who view such things as far more disposable and replaceable than I do. And when you’re hurt in a way you don’t see coming, or suddenly abandoned and you don’t know exactly why you’re so easy to toss aside, you start to re-evaluate everything and everyone in your life.

This week, it’s been a very lonely place to be—and with the shock of national tragedies thrown in the middle, dwelling on my personal problems seems self-indulgent at best—but I do rather miss those days where this blog was the place I was allowed to be self-indulgent as I pleased.

With age and experience may come wisdom, but wisdom doesn’t always lead to greater happiness.

That being said, one thing I do not do is blog about political issues. My doctor actually advised me to refrain from discussions on political topics or watching shows that were likely to make me irate, because some of the things people say contribute greatly to my anxiety and sense of anger and injustice towards the world. If you know me, you know what my politics are, and for a socialist hippie type of girl, they’re actually more moderate than you might think. I’m not into blame, I’m not into stereotypes, I’m not into vengeance and wishing people would die and name calling and battling one another because being right is more important than being happy. I often see multiple sides to an issue, and while I have firm convictions on some subjects, I understand and respect why others do as well. I’m all about finding commonality, compromise, working together for the common good, and understanding the human psyche.

As a result, I dislike politics, and I even more greatly dislike those who use any platform or national incident to call attention away from those suffering and toward and political agenda. I dislike the media, which has become more about sensationalism and less about facts or empathy. I think that, in a way, our current President and I are similar types of people…and I’ve always said “I don’t know if emotionally invested idealists can ever really make the best politicians.” I’m sure that if I were President, my focus would largely be on compromise and working together and taking down the political boundaries that divide people. I’m also sure people wouldn’t care for me much, because so many people don’t want that. It’s more of a world with winners and losers, rather than a place where there are complex issues to handle on a daily basis, and I can’t agree with that.

I’ve had to ignore a lot of social media, and even actual media, since the Boston Marathon attacks. Some of what I read is ignorant, divisive, infuriating, discriminatory, and makes me so disappointed in my fellow human beings. So much of what I read is just false. So, I’ve not been commenting on the tragedy on my Facebook page and I didn’t blog about it here.

This should not be mistaken for apathy. My heart goes out to everyone in Boston, and the families of the victims, and the families of those who perpetrated these acts. (everyone always forgets that behind every person who does something unthinkable, there are grieving loved ones who suffer all the more for the shame of not feeling entitled to grieve.) I do care, a great deal. I just don’t find it a time for politics, which I dislike, or opinions, which everyone has. It is a time for humanity and empathy, and sometimes, the best response to loss is silence and introspection.

(An interesting side note, for those who are amused about all the little ways in which I say I am somewhat “psychic”, the day of the Boston Marathon, I woke up early. I never do this, but I couldn’t sit still. I decided it was the day I had to conquer my fear of walking in wide-open public spaces and getting my heart rate up, without having a panic attack. I haven’t been able to walk the area outside my apartment complex for two years. The day of the marathon, I walked about 2.7 miles…again, the longest distance I’ve been able to cover since getting ill. When I returned, the bombs had just gone off and the tragedy all over the television. I was so happy and elated about being able to conquer a huge fear/obstacle and take a step forward in my recovery, and then immediately crashed into a state of shock and sadness. I don’t know why that was the day I felt compelled to walk and overcome a fear that has been daunting for me for such a long time—I wasn’t even aware it was the day of the marathon. But I do believe there was energy in the air that day that told me “This is the day to appreciate life and push yourself forward.”. )

I hope all my readers out there, and their loved ones, have been safe and well this past week. I know events have taken a toll on so many, and I hope we can now start to return to a time of greater peace and even more appreciation for all that matters.

I’ve been interviewed over at the Savvy Indie today! For those who like your life with a dash of motivation and positivity (I’m not sure what they wanted with *me*. :P ), or just need a day that’s more Alayna-fied, hop on over and read. (but why does everyone forget my hyphen?)

For some mysterious reason, Facebook will not let me post about the awesomeness that is me. Or, rather, it’s the Savvy Indie they have a problem with. Apparently, the link has been blocked for being “spammy” and “unsafe”, and I’m not sure why…other than the site deals with social media and selling things. (like books.) I,of course, visited the page and nothing bad happened–no pop-ups, no spam boxes, no warnings about malicious content.

Uh-oh. Maybe *I* am the malicious content.

Come read about me as I attempt to put a positive spin on the world, while speaking with a motivational coach and writer. Isn’t that an odd enough combination to get your attention. Visit and read about ME. :P You know you want to!

It’s been a long week, but it’s Sunday again, so of course that means it is time to grab your favourite beverage, a little snack, and unwind with a little light reading about reading! Last week, my guest was author Kerry Louise Connelly, who gives us a young, urban English-girl-about-town perspective with her book “Observation City”. This week, the kind and gracious Anita Lewis is here to chat with us about a much different type of life, recalling the process of growing up in a small Midwestern American town with a house full of sisters.

In a unique and creative approach to writing a book, Anita and her four sisters actually collaborated on the stories, each writing a piece of each one. The result is that the tales are not from a single perspective, but from a multitude of remembrances of things past. For some reason, the idea made me recall how much I loved reading the
“Anne Of Green Gables”
series as a little girl, and while I never wished I lived in a small town, I envied the simplicity and innocence of a different kind of life than the one I’d always known.

Anita is not only an author, but a successful blogger who can also be found on Goodreads. She is also a very kind and down-to-earth lady who has a natural curiosity about the world around her, and finds time to appreciate the small things. Although she and I come from two very different worlds, I have the sense that she’d find the time to welcome me into her home for coffee and pie, were I to pass through her part of the world!



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1)Please tell the readers a bit about yourself. Where are you from, where do you reside now, and what is your latest project?

My name is Anita Lewis and I along with my four older sisters wrote the book, “Fluffy, Funny, and Fabulous: a Tale of Five Sisters: We are all originally from Virgil, Illinois which is a very small town in the middle of nowhere. I now reside in Aurora, IL which is the second largest city in Illinois, right behind Chicago.

2)You have a fantastic and interesting blog title. How exactly did it come into being?


My blog title— Our Fanatical Fam—came about because I was looking for something that described our family as I want this blog to be about myself and also to eventually include the things my other sisters and our children are doing too.

I love the word “Fanatical” because it means “passionate” and that is a great description of us. Whatever we do we do it to with enthusiasm and passion.

3)If you don’t mind, share a little bit about your latest book? What is it about your writing that makes it stand out from the pack?


Our book is a collaboration between five sisters. I wrote the beginning of every chapter and then sent it to my other sisters. They would write their memories and sent it back to me. I was the only one who saw the complete book till it was time for editing. I have never read a book that was written this way so that makes it unique and the editing required a great deal of time to make sure each of our sections were fresh and not redundant.

4)When it comes to the creative process, what inspires you to get out there in the world and share your vision with others?

I have always loved to read and writing is something I have always wanted to do, on my bucket list, I suppose. It wasn’t until one of my sisters suggested we write this book that I actually set my mind to doing it now. It is so important that people share their memories with each other and also preserve them for their families and future generations.

5)Did you decide to go with a traditional publisher, an indie publisher, or self-publish your latest work? What do you consider the benefits and the drawbacks of the particular route you’ve chosen?

I submitted to publishers, looked into indie and self-publishing but this being our first endeavor we decided we needed some expertise. I have no regrets with the way we went and will probably use the same publisher on our next project.

6)Where, when, and how did you get your start in the writing world? Is this your first publication?

Yes, this is our first publication although I write articles for a local newspaper. I first really became passionate for writing when I was in college. The university I went to was really adamant that we become good communicators and writing was emphasized in every class

7)What do you consider to be the most challenging part of the creative process?

For me the hardest part is deciding what to put in and what to leave out. I get attached to certain thoughts and ideas and then later when I have to look at them objectively I realize that they don’t add to the overall story.

8)What is the part of the process that comes the most naturally to you?

I actually didn’t get an answer to this question, so I must assume the whole deal comes fairly naturally to Anita! Either that, or this is not a particularly good question. ;)

9)Not every author is a blogger, and vice versa. What do you feel are some of the advantages and disadvantages of social media? Do you feel that the face of artistic expression is changing with the times?

I love social media. It still amazes me that through blogging, Facebook and GoodReads, I now have friends in other countries and can get input and new ideas with just a few key strokes.

As far as the face of artistic expression, absolutely it is changing. To reach the younger audiences communication has to be quick and almost an in your face sort of thing. That makes it more important to communicate clearly and creatively.

10) Other than yourself, of course, who is your favourite author? What’s the last book you read that really spoke to you in some way, and why?

I love John Grisham, all his works. But the last book that really spoke to me was “The Christmas Sweater” by Glenn Beck. Mr. Beck is known for his conservative political views and his very opinionated rantings on all things political but this book was an amazing find. It is just a simple story with a great twist at the ending.

11) Is writing a full-time career for you, or something you do in your free time? What do you ultimately hope to accomplish as a writer?

No, writing is not my full time job. By day, I am a manager in a Manufacturing facility in Aurora, IL. We make valves that go into water and wastewater plants. I have always been a very stable person, very down to earth and practical. But as I have gotten older, I have allowed myself to pursue some of my inner passions, writing being one of them.

I have a novel in the works. All I want to accomplish is to entertain, put a smile on someone’s face and maybe make people think a little less about how bad the world is, and a little more about how wonderful life really is.

12) Do you enjoy other types of media and artistic creation, such as television, magazines, movies, music, fashion, social media, etc.? What are some of your favourite things?

I like old movies, Last weekend I happened to see an old Mickey Rooney flick, still funny after all these years. TV shows after they hit Netflix so I can avoid the commercials. Football and Nascar are my favorite sports to watch. I also enjoy walking as a way to relieve stress, see nature and also for my heart.

13) Of course, we both want readers to rush right out and grab a copy of your latest book! Please tell us where we can find it. Additionally, if you have a blog, website, Facebook, or Twitter, please let us know so we’re able to follow you


The book, “Fluffy Funny and Fabulous: A Tale of Five Sisters” can be found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble , and some smaller sites. It is also available through the publisher,Tate Publishing. My website is www.thefivesisters.net, and my blog is Our Fanatical Fam.



anitasfam
A huge thank you to author, blogger, and all-around expressive spirit Anita Lewis for being my guest today on this week’s episode of Literary Libations. I’ll certainly be adding her to my list of blogs, as well as reading her book. I most certainly hope you’ll do so, as well. It may just inspire you to schedule that visit home you’ve been putting off. ;)

I’ll see you all here next week…same place, same time? Is it presumptuous of me to assume that we have a standing date each Sunday? After all, not only am I charming and interesting company, I’m bringing people who are even more so! :)

I have been feeling a little melancholy lately, and in this strange place of loneliness. Sometimes, I can’t help but take stock of my life and upon looking around, feel that I don’t have very many people in this world which I’ve created for myself. Once upon a time, I did, but it seems that time moves without me. Many of the people who once populated my life, my heart, my attention, and my concern have now moved on to have relationships, careers, children, more “grown-up” and “socially acceptable” types of friends. Many people who once populated my days here in Atlanta are no longer here, or live so far away they may as well live in a different state. Many people who were once a constant presence on my phone or my Facebook seem to have taken a step back to tend to their own lives in different places and place focus on different people. Some people, I’m just simply not friends with anymore, and it’s difficult meeting new people to replace those I used to hang out with.

In short, my life has become a version of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know”, and I’m not sure how that happened. I’ve always been popular, always had people to talk to, to go to parties with, to form meaningful connections with. Looking back through my old photos and e-mails, as I move them from my old computer to my new, I realised that even at my lowest and most hated point, it was only a matter of time before I’d rebuilt a thriving social circle again, and the whole matter of “I’d like to go but I don’t have a ride” wasn’t much of a problem. I’m actually far more likeable now than I was then, having outgrown some of the obnoxious and childish need for drama or tendency to get inappropriately drunk and end up strange places. I’m still fun. I’m just a little more mature about my fun, mostly. Yet, I haven’t found it easy to rebuild my social circle.

I tend to be the sort of person who bonds closely with a few people, and then has a larger circle of acquaintances. The fact that for the first time in many, many years, I don’t have a girl my age who is a BFF/partner-in-crime living near me is a huge issue for me. I don’t have that many female friends, so when I find one with whom I gel, that person and I historically become inseparable, whether for a few months or a few years. Not having a partner-in-crime means there are many invitations to parties and events I simply ignore, because I’d prefer not to make the trek on MARTA across town and back alone, or to be at a swanky party where I don’t know anyone alone. Not having a girl my age to hang with on a regular basis is actually a little like being single—you feel like you’re missing out on fun stuff that you just don’t do by yourself.

Strangely, I also don’t have an “overly idealised infatuation” occupying my time and my thoughts and my energy. I almost always have one of these, typically a relationship that’s either inconvenient, unattainable, or overly complicated, and being the kind of person I am, it’s a connection that energizes my life and makes me smile. Strangely, all those who may have once fallen into that category have found spaces in my life and become “awesome people I know and like”. These relationships become less complex, more real, and easier to understand and make space for—or not—in my world. This is good for building meaningful connections with others. It is bad for someone who is always a little charmed by infatuation with some aspect of another person or type of connection. (I’ve always been so charmed by this particular type of connection, I wrote a book of poetry about it!:P)

In the absence of an overly romanticised infatuation, I often become infatuated with a *thing*. I may become obsessed with watching a TV show, reading 1200 pages of a series of books, writing letters to people, learning a new craft that requires me to buy things on Etsy and at Michael’s that will be used less frequently as the months go by. For a while, it was “swapping”. Then it was writing way too much crap in my journal. Then it was traveling and finishing my book. A few weeks ago, it was marathons of HBO shows.

As it is, my world is relatively calm and infatuation-free, and many people seem to have taken a hiatus from socialising with me. And while I get to read books and spend time with my boyfriend and do the quiet, normal things that quiet, normal people do…there’s something, or someone, missing. In fact, there are multiple somethings and someones missing. I’m not sure I’ll ever be good at being a quiet, normal person. Adventure is elusive these days.

One unexpected…and not exactly welcome…adventure involved needing a new computer this week. Normally, I’d be thrilled and jumping up and down at something exciting like new technology. However, the sudden death of the old one (I had little warning and about 15 hours to back up or rescue everything I could) caused me so much stress, and the missing two days of work made me feel so guilty, that I didn’t feel as happy as I should have about the new arrival. Compounding my stress is that I didn’t necessarily take to or understand Windows 8 right away, all my passwords and info are on my old computer (which currently refuses to boot), so I can’t log on to ITunes and may have lost years of purchases (no clue what my user ID is or what e-mail I used to sign up, except it is likely long defunct, and I apparently don’t know what I put for the security questions.). Also, my way old iPod Nano isn’t recognised by Windows 8. Thanks, Apple, for making me want to buy new versions of shit I already have, only to do it again in 5 years.

I told The Guy I Am Currently Dating, who is not only a computer guy but the person who helped me find and get the new computer I wanted at a good price, that I feel mentally fatigued. The toll of spending 15-hour days at computers, writing, reading, and being unable to turn off the “thinking” function is tiring me out. I’m actually very familiar with bouts of emotional fatigue, ranging from insomnia to not wanting to get up, but to have a deep sleep each night because my brain is just tired is something new. I can’t even seem to watch a TV show without multi-tasking it.

I’m not sure what’s going on, but I’m finding it hard to rest my mind. My old computer may refuse to boot up, but I refuse to enter sleep mode. I don’t feel anxious or worried about anything in particular, I am just very restless, unable to cope with even minor practical stressors, and ready for adventure, one that involves more feeling and less thinking. I don’t think it’s necessarily good for a Feeling Extravert to get stuck in her head for too long, or she may become melancholy. I also have an iNtuitive feeling that there is reason for the melancholy, but am frustratingly unable to Perceive what it is. (hehehehehe…yes, I had to work my Meyers-Briggs type into a journal entry. I’m just clever that way.;P)

I’ve decided to start a regular feature here on Jaded Elegance where each Sunday, I’ll provide book reviews of things I’ve read lately, post an author interview with another writer, or have a literary guest blogger lend a new voice to this page for the day. This idea came out of hanging out on some of the message boards on Goodreads, which is a fabulous community for those who love books, but even more so for those who write them. Earlier in the month, a fellow author did an interview with me regarding the publication of Ophelia’s Wayward Muse, and I was inspired by finding a community of creative spirits who are supportive rather than competitive.

My first interview is with a lovely woman by the name of Kerry Louise Connelly, and her latest work is called Observation City. I chose her as my first author to feature on here because I think she and I have very similar styles, in terms of not only how we write but the subjects that inspire us to write. Therefore, if you like reading what I put up here on a regular basis, or you enjoy my creative prose, you’re the type of person who should immediately order your copy of Observation City.



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Let’s learn a bit more about the author, shall we?

1) Please tell the readers a bit about yourself. Where are you from, where do you reside now, and what is your latest project?


I’m an English born Australian author, currently still living in Australia – but who knows, may have plans to re locate in the future. My current title ‘Observation City’ is out now and has just been picked up by some other terrific online book retailers so it is easily findable, it’s a fun and easy read that encompasses 21 pieces about human behaviour and relatable life situations, written with humour. My latest project is a non-fiction story, ‘Shaken’: A story of emotional abuse and depression, which will be due out in the coming months.

2) If you don’t mind, share a little bit about your latest book? What is it about your writing that makes it stand out from the pack?


‘Observation City’ is a fun, relatable book which was originally aimed at women but I have found a lot of men are enjoying it also which is wonderful. It is told with raw, often sarcastic, understandable humour that I hope readers will enjoy.


‘Shaken’ is a different piece all together. It is a story of emotional abuse and depression, that is not only inspired by my own experiences with the topic, but is interspersed with informative material that may help those who are also involved in a confusing emotionally abusive situation and/or are dealing with a form of depression.

By talking to my reader and being honest and raw, I hope that is what will stand me ‘out from the pack’, I also encourage readers to contact me with any messages that I aim to always respond to.

3) When it comes to the creative process, what inspires you? Tell us a little bit about how your latest book came into being.


‘Observation City’ was written over a 2 year period and inspired by my own experiences that of friends and of strangers who seem to talk a little too load about their lives in public!

‘Shaken’ has been inspired through my own experiences with emotional abuse and depression and my learning to understand and work through the experience and illness.

4) Did you decide to go with a traditional publisher, an indie publisher, or self-publish your latest work? What do you consider the benefits and the drawbacks of the particular route you’ve chosen?

I decided to take full creative control and publish myself. Writing has never been about seeking world-wide fame for me or making a ton of money – as any author or artist will know, if you are seeking only money through your craft- you are in the wrong craft!

I love having the creative control to tell my story the way I want and to reach out to readers through my very own words, instead of being censored or edited by large publishing companies. It also gives me the freedom of choice to work in the cover design process. It really is a well-rounded artistic experience. The drawback is self-marketing, it is a whole other industry in itself, however a very good learning experience.

5) Where, when, and how did you get your start in the writing world? Is this your first publication?

I’ve always loved writing, ever since a child. My favourite school subjects were English and art/ drama/music etc., and I would constantly be writing. I have worked as a casual journalist and in radio broadcasting – where I would of course formulate articles and also in the radio industry I was able to interview upcoming talent and write a 12 piece film review series which broadcast to 180 community stations Australia wide.

‘Observation City’ is my first published book title.

6) What is the part of the process that comes the most naturally to you?


Automatic writing, I just write from an idea to the page.

7) What do you consider to be the most challenging part of the creative process?


Structure. Learning how to formulate your ideas and words into a well maintained creative structure that the audience can follow and enjoy.

8) Other than yourself, of course, who is your favourite author? What’s the last book you read that really spoke to you in some way, and why?


Books themselves inspire me rather than a specific author, however I have to say author Alice Sebold’s work on ‘The Lovely Bones’ is truly mesmerising and captivating. She has such an original way of combining violent tragedy with beauty that you don’t see very often.

The last book that blew me away was ‘The Flock’ by Joan Frances Casey and Lyn Wilson. It quickly became a book I have been raving about to anyone who will listen (ha-ha). It’s an autobiography of a multiple personality. Written in the first person as the core persona AND 19 multiples. Currently I am reading ‘The Road Through Wonderland: Surviving John Holms” ,by Dawn Schiller. You can see I love true stories.

9)
Is writing a full-time career for you, or something you do in your free time? What do you ultimately hope to accomplish as a writer?

A bit of both, I work dual roles as an education assistant which I love dearly and worked very hard to break into, and of course working as an author is something that also fulfils me. I think and hope I can do both, however, still put a lot of focus into my writing career.

10) If there were one thing you’d like to improve about your life or your writing at this point in time, what would it be?

I’d like to be given the chance one day soon to relocate to an environment where I can network with other authors and creative types, and have my work widely read.

Thanks to Kerry for her willingness to grace the pages here at Jaded Elegance today. I have her Observation City on my to-read list, and I hope you’ll do so, too. While there are some really wonderful books published through traditional publishing houses that are getting a ton of press, there is exceptional work coming out of the indie scene, as well. Please do show your support!

If you’re interested in getting to know more about Kerry and her work (I have, and I must say she’s a charming, down-to-earth person who’s the type I’d certainly meet for a coffee and chat any day!), please take the time to check out her author page, follow her on Facebook, or join her lively fan base on Goodreads.



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Observation City is easily available at a number of retailers. Books can be bought through CreateSpace, Amazon, Amazon UK, Book Depository (based in the UK, but offers free worldwide shipping), and of course, Barnes & Noble

A great “thank you” again to author Kerry Louise Connelly, whose positive and authentic perspective is nothing short of a breath of fresh air. I certainly hope to hear more from her in the future, and perhaps have her back here for a guest post down the line.

Of course, if you’re a book lover who’d like to hear my thoughts on other works or occasionally follow the progress of my own creative endeavours, please join and friend me on my own Goodreads author page.

If you do read Observation City, don’t be afraid to let either Kerry or myself know what you thought of the experience. :) I’m certain she’d love the feedback!

See you next Sunday, fellow book lovers and creative spirits!

x

I have spent so much of my life being the auxiliary piece to the lives of other people, I sometimes don’t really know what it’s like to feel loved and valued and as if I’ve ever been the priority in another person’s life. Perhaps I have been a priority, of course, but I’ve never been the first priority.

Growing up, I was incidental and feelings were highly discouraged. I was loved and praised for achievement by a mother who was proud of what I had to offer, what made me special, rather than what I was—which was nothing terribly special in the grand scheme of things. At a very early age, I learned my father had wished I’d never been born, as a devoted narcissist can’t stand the sacrifice of self that comes with having children, much less a child that learned at a very early age to steal the spotlight.

As I matured and set out into the world on my own, I always had no shortage of lovers, of relationships and flings and other amusements. Almost every single person I ended up with was either completely unsuitable for me, or broadcast vibes loud enough for everyone on Earth to hear. Universally, they seemed to say, “Thank you so much for the good times, but you’re never going to be the kind of girl I see myself ending up with in the end.” It didn’t matter if I helped people find themselves, nurtured their creative work, opened their eyes to new ways of living and thinking—in the end, I was never good enough to be anything but disposable. It’s as if I happened to be this thing created to help people transform and grow, and then I conveniently disappear, leaving them with memories and hopefully a feeling that knowing me had been a learning experience or something that made life better. And, as for me, I was just left with a little more emptiness inside than I had before.

Almost every single person with whom I’ve had a serious relationship is now married, and many have or are expecting children. I know I should be happy when this occurs, but I’m selfish by nature, so I’m not. I can’t help but feel somehow cheated by life, by an endless parade of men for whom I wasn’t good enough—not deserving of the love and fidelity they offer their much sweeter, duller, plainer wives. Perhaps it’s because I’d rather drink and dance on a Saturday night than go to church on Sunday morning, and the things that are most memorable about me aren’t qualities a respectable man thinks of when he considers qualities of his future wife. I can’t help but feel a little angry than an ex-boyfriend who cheated on me more times than I can count, lied to me daily, allowed his parents to treat me like a piece of garbage dragged out of the dumpster, and didn’t have a single picture of me around his apartment (despite photos of family and friends all over the walls) is now with a homely little Southern girl, and they’re a happy family that goes to church and is expecting a child, and his entire family dotes on them. It’s hard to reconcile that scenario with the same way this person and his family treated me, and it breaks my heart, because I wondered so many times, “Why am I not good enough?”

I’ve had close friendships in my life with people who have claimed to fall for me, to want to make me a permanent (if secondary) part of their life…but in every instance, when something came up that presented the opportunity for that person to choose between demonstrating any type of actual real emotional connection and loyalty to me, or choosing another road, the other road was always more appealing. And again, I cried, and wondered what about me was so defective that I wasn’t good enough.

Perhaps the answers are simple. The Guy I Am Currently Dating has a mother who told me, in no uncertain terms, I was not good enough for her son and would never be part of her family. She told me he dated me because he had low self-esteem and not enough confidence to approach the pretty girls he really wanted. I do know that The Guy I Am Currently Dating loves me, but we’ve been together for what is rapidly approaching 5 years. That’s a large percentage of my life, invested in one person…and while he invests in me in many other ways, I’m aware that if I said “It’s been long enough, and this relationship needs to move forward or we need to break up”, he’d cry and leave me behind to move on with my life.

It isn’t the first time I’ve heard that my flaw is simply not being pretty enough to be adequate arm candy for someone looking for a successful and high-powered career, and unfortunately, I’m almost always attracted to men who are talented, ambitious, or both. I’ve heard that my scandalous past, my determination to live life on my own terms, my habit of speaking my mind—well, these things are neither sweet nor classy, and nobody wants pictures of the love of their life plastered on the internet doing shots off of a bar.

What I’ve heard, universally, is “I love you, but…”, “You’re amusing, but….”, “We’ve had great times, but….”, “You’re a cool girl, but….”

And I wonder when someone is going to look at me in a way that isn’t always followed by ellipses. As a friend of mine would put it, when is the fact that I might have an asterisk attached to me going to be irrelevant in comparison to the fact that I’m a fucking awesome person that may just deserve to be loved.

Maybe I am not, and I would simply like to be that person. There’s really nowhere in my life I can turn to without being reminded of all the ways in which I am defective. I am not pretty. I am not talented, I am not ambitious. Worse yet, I’m the sort of ordinary girl who has never learned how to be a sweet ordinary girl. If I’d lived my life as a wallflower, perhaps I’d be more likely to be the naive and inexperienced ingenue almost all men seem to be charmed by. (I was reminded recently by a fight I once had with a drunk friend who told me, “I might have fallen for you if you hadn’t slept with so many men in your life.”) And while it was simply an idiotic and drunken statement, there’s some truth behind it. It is perfectly alright not to be stunningly pretty, not to be successful at something, not to have any specific talents, if you’re sweet, optimistic, and have that little “Suzy Homemaker” thing going on for you. It is expected that somehow, girls who are not really extraordinary in any other way, make up for it by being sweet and amiable, and not exactly worldly. (I have a suspicion that men are terrified of “worldly” women because it causes them to fixate on their own inadequacies, which your average ingenue isn’t equipped to notice…but that’s another story for another day.)

I never learned that lesson, because in my mind, I was always extraordinary. I was always meant for bigger and better things.

It’s easy to become self-deluded, and before you know it, you’ve been married and engaged and had all manner of friends and lovers pass through your life, but you still spend every holiday alone. I spent Easter eating chocolate and watching television while The Guy I Am Currently Dating was with his real family, and all the admirers who claim I am one of the most fabulous girls they’ve ever met are with their wives and girlfriends and children.

I don’t even have many close friends, living where I do, without a car and without a social circle to which I might belong. I can see why I might truly be “not good enough” for anyone, a rapidly-middle-aging, chronically ill former actress/singer/mediocre writer who has few skills and a knack for offending people by saying the things most other people think, but never say aloud. It turns out, there’s reason people conceal their emotions. It’s “polite”, and it’s done so people can have friendships…or at least maintain the illusion of belonging.

I suppose I’m a cautionary tale. If you turn down too many opportunities in your life, or make too many mistakes, you’ll find yourself a person that everyone you know will tell amusing stories about at your funeral…and some will cry, and lament your absence from the world…and others will quietly celebrate at home. But, a majority of the time, you’ll find yourself alone, while the rest of the world goes on with the quiet, ordinary business of living.

I watch this show called “Smash”, about a group of Broadway people putting on a musical about Marilyn Monroe.

Somehow, I think Marilyn would understand where I’m coming from, even though she had the excuse of being beautiful and successful. I don’t think she ever felt loved, or understood, or knew how to be ordinary. I think she spent so much time being an inspiration to everyone else—everyone else who inevitably walked away when inspiration was no longer needed—that she might have been the loneliest person on Earth.

Sometimes, when I hear about people in my life getting married and having babies, I think of that and I feel that way. It isn’t because I want those things, but because deep down, I have this sense of anger that says “I deserved better. Why do other people always deserve the best from those I love, while I’m the one who should settle for something less?”

I don’t want to be that bitter, angry person, but sometimes I am. I suppose it’s because I’m tired of being secondary, tired of being an inspiration, a learning experience, the road not taken, the “if only”, the “I wish things were different”, the “I might have loved you if you weren’t who you are”, the “Why can’t things just stay like this forever, because this is good enough?”

I want to be that thing someone is willing to give up everything for. Why? Because I’m good enough, and because I am so fucking worth it. And I’m so frightened that perhaps I’m the only person in my life who will ever, ever see that.