I’ve been very quiet lately, but it’s been for a fairly good reason. I’ve been going through a hard time with all the medical-related stuff, and it’s left me feeling like I don’t really want to do anything at all. When I try to do things, the effort feels very physically exhausting. Yesterday, after actually getting up and cooking something for the Crock-Pot, I felt tired and depressed, and just got in bed and cried. Somewhere along the way, I fell asleep.

This week, I went to my doctor to check in with her about my medications, because it had been a year or so. It seemed to me that my medications had stabilized my problems. I was no longer having panic attacks, heart palpitations, the vertigo had decreased significantly, and I had noticed myself being able to go out places I couldn’t handle before. Some days, I’d forget to wear my sunglasses. The only complaint I had was the inability to lose any of the weight I’d gained on these drugs. During the course of about 2 years, I gained a quarter of my body weight (being a very small person, this is a very big deal), and even though I was again able to walk three miles and even jogged a 12 minute mile on numerous occasions (until I hurt my knee), I wasn’t burning a single calorie. Unless I just didn’t eat, that scale didn’t move.

Therefore, I was quite surprised when my doctor informed me that my pulse and BP were running very low, and she saw it as a sign it was time to cut back the dosage of my beta-blocker, an old-school drug called Atenolol. Adapting to taking this drug in the first place was hard. The first month was sheer hell. I felt tired all the time, lethargic, depressed, hated the world, gained weight, and hated being in public places with loud noises and bright lights. Almost all simple things felt like a challenge to accomplish. Somehow, along the way, my body adapted and I finally got to a place where I felt normal. Atenolol treats high BP, which I didn’t really have, but it also treats high pulse rate, irregular heartbeat, palpitations, anxiety, and migraines…all symptoms I presented with when prescribed the drug.

What they don’t tell you about Atenolol is that it has some nasty side effects, like many drugs out there. Britain is working to take it off the market, because they feel it’s overprescribed and neither doctors nor patients are warned of the effects. Most don’t know. Atenolol causes a lot of people to gain weight—some people gain 70-100 pounds—and suppresses the normal release of insulin. If you’re already hypoglycemic (which I am), this is a horrible drug for your body to get used to, because you’re prone to your blood sugar being all over the place. Atenolol masks the symptoms until your blood sugar plummets or you have an insulin surge. There are a number of studies that say it causes Type 2 diabetes in adults not at risk for diabetes. Combine that with a metabolism that’s severely slowed down, and the desire to sleep 11 hours a day, and it’s hard to adjust to it. It’s also an anti-anxiety drug that strangely, makes you more sensitive to anxiety. Some people become short-tempered and irritable; others get depressed. I haven’t felt like myself in a very long time, but I figured it was my illness. The drugs to treat illness are supposed to help, and I really thought they were. People told me they saw some of the old Alayna returning. \

I started to scale back the beta-blocker this week. My doctor wants me on half the dosage I’m taking now, with the hopes of eventually phasing it out altogether. Since you have to start small (just quitting the drug is likely to end you up in the hospital.), I cut out a quarter of the pill. The first day of doing this was fine, except I had a horrible migraine. The second day, not too bad. I still had a headache and felt anxious about certain things, but I went out to dinner, walked around town, and went drinking at a club with a friend. The third day, life just started to fall apart. Yesterday was day number 4, and I felt disinclined to get out of bed or to do anything at all.

I went to one of the “withdrawing from your beta blocker” online support forums, because I wanted to see if other people had as hard of a time as I did. I was reminded that Atenolol treats migraines, so cutting it down immediately gave me migraine with aura for 3 days. Atenolol treats anxiety, so removing even a little has made me jittery and anxious about fears I thought I’d conquered. It messes with the stability of your heart rate and blood pressure, so I’ve felt dizzy and lightheaded anywhere but my bed.

Yesterday, I was crying because I was depressed, and I was depressed because I felt like I was getting better, getting my life back…and someone went and took that away from me. I feel really fragile and scared. The Guy I Am Currently Dating has been very supportive. He’s done all my errands for me, gotten me my favourite foods, helped me make healthy food for lunch for the next week, and even went to the Disney store to get me a “Brave” doll. (There is a stuffed Merida sitting on my bed now.) Yet, I feel like it’s hard for anyone to understand just how crappy I feel, and how disheartening it is to have a huge physical and emotional setback.

People say that the first drop in dosage is the hardest, and if I make it a week without going to back to taking the whole pill, my body will spend the next week or so adjusting to the new dose…and I can eventually reduce to the dosage my doctor wants me on. Even my doctor doesn’t understand the physical and emotional side effects; she told me to just take half the pill from now on, and my body would barely notice.

That is incorrect. I notice when I am dizzy, when my vision gets blurry, when something makes me panic. I’m not allowed to engage in physical activity while I am adjusting my drugs, which inspired my doctor tell me it was the perfect time to go through this, because I should rest my knee (which is sprained or even possibly torn. I have zero good knees) for 4-6 weeks. So, I am resting my knee and my heart, but the hardest part is resting my mind. I do not feel like myself. I do not feel like I am in a stable emotional place, and I am scared a lot. I am depressed because at the beginning of the week, I was so happy my doctor said I was getting healthier. Now I feel like I did when I got sick 2 years ago.

I am terrified to go to trivia tonight. I am afraid I’ll pass out, get too dizzy on account of the lights, the noises, and the people, or I’ll just look like a crazy person in front of other people who don’t understand…and some of whom don’t like me to begin with. I feel like I am too fragile to go out around people, and want the Guy I Am Currently Dating to have fun without me. He won’t do this, though, and that makes me sad. :( I almost went back to taking the whole pill today, just so I could survive trivia..but I logically know that will make tomorrow harder.

I’ve never been physically and mentally addicted to something before. Sure, I like Coca-Cola and I enjoy my alcohol, but when I got sick and could have neither caffeine nor alcohol for a few months, I just stopped. When I had to quit nasal spray and antihistamines, it wasn’t easy, but there was another drug to help me through the side effects, and I made it. There’s never been something I felt like I couldn’t cut out of my life, even if it was painful, even if it was a relationship with another person. There’s definitely a difference between feeling mentally weak and physically weak, though. When something affects both, being stronger than that is really, really hard.

I’m not that strong to begin with…so it’s been a rough week. I will probably spend most of Memorial Day weekend sleeping and watching TV and waiting for the anxiety and brain fog to lift. I’m also experiencing my normal holiday depression, where I realise every single holiday that nobody in my life cares about me enough, or is single and available enough, or is not too distracted by their own family, to spend holiday weekends with me. I’m always alone. Always. And I inevitably spend time thinking how little anyone would really care or notice if I just weren’t around anymore…or that maybe once I’m not here anymore, people will wish they’d have bothered to make the time for me, to travel with me, to really consider me a part of their lives, and not just an entertaining little add-on to it from time to time.

In my next life, I hope I’m the kind of person people want to be around and spend holidays with. The entire time I’ve been an adult, that hasn’t been the case for me. And every holiday weekend, I feel dramatically sorry for myself in my alone and unloveable (or loveable, but with conditions, and when it fits into the schedule, and maybe we’ll go somewhere and have an adventure someday) state.

It’s a hard and lonely life sometimes, and sometimes, just getting up and existing is so much trouble it barely seems worth it. So, therefore, there haven’t been very many blogs or even many FB posts lately. I don’t even have it in me to make a snarky remark. :/

In my humble opinion, Jezebel doesn’t tend to publish very many insightful things. Personally, I’m not a fan. If something has pissed me off and I’m writing about it on my blog, there’s a 70% chance someone from Jezebel inspired me to do that.

I’m not just saying that because I used to date someone who was affiliated with this magazine (back when people read magazines), or because of the number of articles I come across designed to make me either hate myself, want to undergo radical plastic surgery, make me hate the world, or make me consider joining a convent or living a spinster-ish Jane Austen existence. I don’t need Jezebel to tell me why I’m not married, why he won’t commit, why I might be bad in bed, or why 30 is the new 60. I don’t need to know how society judges me, according to a specific subset of society getting paid to write about judging others. I don’t really have many kind, ladylike words for Jezebel. However, every once in awhile, there will be a surprisingly rational, pro-female writer who shows up and makes me think I must have landed on the wrong page.

In fact, in all my years of rants inspired by articles I’ve read on Jezebel, this may be the smartest thing I’ve heard from one of their writers yet.:

“If you’re a woman with an internet presence, you need skin as thick as a redwood trunk to deal with the barrage of insults and threats that you’ll unquestionably receive from misogynist trolls who want you to stop writing about topics that men also like to write about, or stop writing about feminism, or just stop writing, period. This has always been the case, but it’s not getting better for most women I know. In fact, it seems to be getting worse.”

Sadly, I have to agree. I don’t know if the internet is a nice place, but since I apparently am old enough to be a part of “social media before social media had a name”, I remember when the internet was not a nice place. During my time on the internet, I’ve experienced meeting someone online, falling in love, moving to a new city, having everything fall apart, and somehow still getting back on the Internet. I’ve dated people who were pretty influential in making the internet what it is today, even though I didn’t know something huge was happening at the time, and neither did anyone else. I’ve had stalkers. More than one. I’ve had marriage proposals. I’ve had death threats. I’ve gotten mail and phone calls from people who shouldn’t know how to find me, and you can’t take a restraining order out on an avatar. I’ve done online dating through Match.com and OKCupid, which gave me a LOT of stories and a few really close friends I don’t remember not being a part of my life…who in turn gave me other close friends I can’t imagine not being a part of my life. I’ve been broken up with because of my blog, had angry wives contact me because their husbands were chatting with me through my blog, had parents of people I was dating hate me because of my blog, had my “friends only” blog printed and shared with those who were definitely not my friends—twice, had people send mail to those I was dating to tell them what a horrible human being I am, had people write nasty comments and reveal personal information on the pages of everyone I knew in my social group, eventually took down my blog after my personal life caused great upheaval and others saw the internet as a tool to see how far they could push before I wanted to kill myself or someone else, and then got really angry at myself for allowing other people to send me into hiding. I still have people who cite the “constant social media presence” as a reason for wondering if they could ever date me, and people who read my blog and FB just to mock me. I’ve still experienced losing friends over differences in communication in the online world. The difference is that I care less than I used to, which is still way more than the average person is likely to care. The internet, for me, has been a wild ride I never would have anticipated being this huge part of most of my adult life, one that led me to fantastic adventures and tragic mistakes. However, has the internet ever been “nice”? Well, no. Not to me.

If you’ve noticed, I’ve disabled comments on my blog. It’s been that way for a good number of years now. People who want to respond to me are free to e-mail me or contact me on FB, Twitter, whatever. Many successful bloggers, most of them female, have made similar choices.

Why? Because, frankly, this is my space. You wouldn’t walk into my home to criticise me or tell me you didn’t like me or to wish I’d die. You wouldn’t leave inappropriate notes you should never write lying on the coffee table. Leaving those comments on my blog is the equivalent of just that. So, basically, you don’t get the key to my house, and I think that’s totally valid.

It’s OK if you don’t like me, really. There are a lot of people in the Universe I don’t consider the best company. But, unless we’re friends, do I really need to know about it? (On the other hand, if you do like me, I appreciate being told that so we might *become* friends.)

I’m not sure that this just applies to women, however. There are some male bloggers who are very unafraid to put themselves out there, and they receive a lot of haters. You might even be the CEO of a company, and someone with a grudge starts the story that you’re getting fired because you’re an alcoholic, and the next thing you know, it’s on a legitimate news source. You might be freaking Bill Gates, and every single word you publish is fodder for an internet troll or rant.

Is it harder for female bloggers, essayists, and journalists? Certainly. You’re kind of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. You’re either an uptight bitch, or a slut. You’re either a traitor for agreeing with the boys, or whatever horribly demeaning word you want to use in place of “feminist” for speaking out against how unfair certain things are. It doesn’t matter if you’re not terribly controversial or political. If your words aren’t a problem, the focus will be on your looks or your personal life. (One female blogger I know has a board dedicated to people talking shit about her personal life, people who have never even spoken to her.)

The thing is, it’s always been hard. I’m not surprised when something comes along that makes me cry, because I’ve never seen the part where having an internet presence didn’t mean being constantly judged, which often means crying at what other people write about you. I’m not a thick-skinned girl. I’m intensely sensitive, and the comments have always hurt, the same way they do in real life. But it is certainly something you need to deal with in order to be anyone with an internet presence these days, especially a female someone.

On a more personal note, today ended up being a very good day, despite all my expectations to the contrary. In fact, I couldn’t fall asleep last night because I had so much anxiety regarding going to the doctor today. When I did fall asleep, I had a series of bad dreams I don’t really remember, and kept waiting for my alarm to go off. I was very anxious about having to go to the doctor. Since getting sick in 2011, trips to the doctor have often meant something very unpleasant was going to happen, and the result is that I now have extreme anxiety even when going in for my yearly check-up.

However, the results were good. My BP was 102/73, pulse 62. My beta-blockers are now officially giving me low blood pressure, which is the green light for starting to reduce my dosage. Also, the knee injury is likely just a strain. High-impact cardio and jogging is a no-go for me, which I’m fine with, because it’s not as if I enjoy those activities. I can now try to lose 10% of my body weight (what I need to be at a healthy weight, even if it’s not the number I’d LIKE the scale to say)over the next 6 months if I eat at least 1,000 calories a day and increase my healthy food choices. (less sugar and white carbs and crappy fast food.) And I didn’t need blood work, at least today. I definitely feel that health-related things are heading in a positive direction, even if personal life-related things have been all over the place this year. Of course, I know there’s still a long road ahead, but I suppose it’s OK to feel optimistic, if only for a day.

Today, I also noted that my entry for Mysti Parker’s flash fiction contest was posted. It’s entitled “All That Glitters”, which is amusing if you know me personally. (I glitter about as much as a Twilight vampire, and it gets left behind everywhere.)

Honestly, I wasn’t going to share it with the entire world, because I stayed up very late one night writing it. I sent it off, read it over, and immediately concluded that it sucked. In my mind, it was a perfect testament to my ability to create interesting and psychologically damaged characters who impact one another in some way, only to realise that three-quarters of the way into my allotted word count—nothing has happened.

I am Seinfeld, without the humour. :P

Anyway, I submitted the story knowing it wasn’t terribly good, and figured I just wouldn’t mention it to anyone. Then my ego won out, as it always does, and said, “Hey, look, something I made! I am awesome! Go like the awesome thing I did!”

(The ego does not always have the best grasp on reality. I hate to hear what the super-ego might have to say, and that’s why she’s not allowed to talk, ever. :P )

Fortunately for the ego, some people did like it, and left comments and sent me e-mail about the story. One of my friends wrote to ask, “Is the girl in the story you?” and “Is the main character a real person?”

I have answers to those questions, but they’re complicated, and for a different blog—one that only those who enjoyed the story, or my personal anecdotes, would appreciate. So, simply put, “Yes and no”, to both questions.

Finally, tonight was the finale of “The Big C”. I don’t remember the last time I cried so much, but I do know I feel blessed to have a number of people in my life I love as much as I do; even when I forget, even when they forget, even when I care more than someone might care about me in return. It means everything to know those people are there, out there at various places in the world. :)

I am a little late in posting this Sunday’s “Literary Libations”, but it seems that this weekend ended up being filled with libations of other sorts! There was a lot on the social calendar for this weekend, and my Saturday went by in a bit of a blur, without much free time to be had. We planned a 1970′s murder mystery party (smaller than the one I had for my birthday, but whether it was due to the script, the venue, or the combination of people attending, it actually turned out to be more complicated to get 16 people ready to act out a game than it was for a group of 30), and although The Guy I Am Currently Dating did most of the work, murder mysteries are actually extremely complex events. People always cancel at the last minute (we had 4 friends cancel on less than 24 hours notice), and it’s really analogous to putting on a play and having cast members all call in sick.

I try very hard not to get frustrated, as I know this is going to happen at every event, but in the world of theatre, the saying “The show must go on” reigns supreme. I’ve made it through a show with laryngitis (Ricola is a temporary fix), with a few broken toes (sustained in Act 1 when a set piece ran over my foot.), with a fever of 103, with migraines, after sobbing all day because my personal life was a mess. and even when an immediate family member was in the hospital with a life-threatening injury.) I take the same approach to event planning. If I make the commitment, there are just very few instances in which I won’t show up. A few weeks ago, I was screaming and crying and having a horrible fight with my boyfriend at 7:30. By 8, I’d fixed my makeup, put on my social smile, and was hosting a dinner for 15. Even the night my pulse was so high and I was so dizzy I had a hard time standing and walking, I still made it through two or three hours of the planned event before we went to the ER.

I often feel unappreciated, because organizing events means you have to be “The show must go on” person, the person who is there and on time and organized and congenial, no matter what…but everyone else isn’t under the same obligation. People cancel when they’re sick, when they can’t afford to go out, when they don’t feel well, when they’ve had a bad day, when it rains, and when they’re tired. I’m normally a very empathetic person, but I think after years and years of a perspective of “You just have to work it out, no matter how you feel.”, I lack some of the requisite ability to understand why people cancel at the last minute. It’s just that that’s never been an option for me. Even when I was very, very ill for nearly a year, I still forced myself to plan events. It bummed me out that I couldn’t always stay out late, or drink with my friends, or go to the club or a concert…but I felt like if I didn’t hold on to the important things in my life, I really would lose everything. I felt as if, even if I were very ill and wondered if I might die, I still wanted to be remembered as the kind of person that did things to make other people happy. However frivolous, perhaps entertaining people is just my little way of trying to make my immediate world a better place. I am sometimes sad, because I wonder if anyone sees that, or thinks about it at all. I think most people just think “Alayna doesn’t really like to sit still.”

If I ever cancel anything on less than a few days’ notice, you know something really bad has happened. It’s hard for me to forget that things that, for me, require a lot of time and work and energy, are optional fun activities for everyone else. I definitely feel for professional party promoters and event planners, because getting everything in order and then counting on people to show up is a really tall feat. In the end, it almost always works out…but, I mean, people “no-show” and cancel the day of for seated wedding receptions. I’m pretty sure I would have a nervous breakdown. *laughs*

In any case, after last night’s event and some well-deserved drinks after everyone was gone (The Guy I Am Currently Dating made us leave early, which for me, is 2 AM. :P ), I managed to come home, get some sleep, and then get up to attend his Meetup. I am a firm believer in karma, because a friend we don’t see very often had forgotten to bring cash for food. I suggested to The Guy I Am Currently Dating that we lend him a few bucks for lunch, especially because he’s a young kid whose life has been in major upheaval this year, and I really feel for him. After we told him not to worry about the situation, we’d cover him, it happens…we met a bunch of lovely new people, and some of them decided to buy lunch for the entire group of people who were still in attendance at the end of the event. They didn’t tell anyone. When people went to pay the bill, the waitress just mentioned someone else had already taken care of the tab. I thought that was so incredibly awesome. It’s actually pretty rare when you see someone practice a random act of kindness for someone who isn’t a good friend, and it kind of restored my faith in the potential for people to really be genuinely nice towards one another.

However, none of this has anything to do with this week’s guest interview, except to explain why I am so late! :) I’ve certainly not forgotten, because I’m thrilled to have author Leigh Boyer as my guest on “Literary Libations” today. Leigh (which is a pen name, as the author has chosen to make the protagonist of her novel the actual author of the novel, allowing her to take on a life of her own.) is an incredibly accomplished woman in a number of different fields, and can definitely hold her own in any conversation. I’ve immensely enjoyed getting to know her via e-mail over the past few weeks, and her novel,
“From Wall Street With Love”
is well-written, engaging, and entertaining.



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I asked Leigh to chat a bit about being an author who not only is quite knowledgeable in the field of finance and economics, but a highly-educated, well-traveled Francophile with a penchant for James Bond. I have no doubt that after reading her interview, you’ll have found a new book to rush out and read.

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 grew up in the heartland of this great country but now I live in the most powerful city in the world. I am currently writing the continuation of Leigh’s adventures.

2)
Unlike some of the other writers I’ve profiled, I’ve actually been privileged to read your latest work, “From Wall Street With Love”. I found it to be unique, even in assigning it a genre. I’d describe it as part Wall Street expose, part James Bond, part Suze Orman, and part Carrie Bradshaw. What is it about your writing that gives it a unique voice and appeals to readers?

This book is a unique retelling of the life inside one of the “too big to fail” banks during the height of the financial crisis (2008- 2009). Other books have discussed this time period in an academic or analytical way, which quite frankly goes over the heads of most people…myself included. I wanted to write about the emotions, the mood, the craziness, and the real-life experiences of someone going through this period of upheaval.

3) Tell us a little bit about how your latest book came into being. Do you find there’s a certain level of risk in publishing a book where the title character is, essentially, modeled on your own life experiences? What type of feedback have you received about the book, especially from those who know you in real life?

I wanted to blend real-life experience with fun, inventive, fictional plot lines. So, my friends and former colleagues, not knowing what was real and what wasn’t… have often responded by saying, “Wow- does your husband know about your affair?” I then laugh and explain that that part never happened. They are usually very relieved. So, I take it as a good sign that all the experiences were rather believable… seen through the eyes of those who knew me during that period of my life.

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?

My past books, written in my real name (which will stay a mystery), were non-fiction. All three were published by traditional publishers. When it came time to find a publisher for this book, my literary agent was not interested in “chick-lit” and the process of finding another agent was one that I remembered to be very labor intensive. So, I decided to self-publish instead. I was actually totally impressed by the services provided. I highly recommend the experience. Before, I had no control over the book cover for example but this time around, I could control all aspects of the process.

5) Leigh is an interesting, dynamic, and compelling character. In which ways is she a pretty accurate portrayal of who you are as a person, and in which is she an exaggeration or simply a character? Did you find that your understanding of her as a character changed or grew as you moved further into the writing process?

Leigh is my alter-ego. She and I totally share the Midwestern vs. cosmopolitan issues. Her life however is MUCH more exciting than mine. I covet it!

6) When it comes to the creative process, what inspires you? What most made you want to get out there and share this story with the world, and what do you hope others take away from it? Do you feel you have another book waiting to be written?

I am inspired by real-life events that are stranger than fiction. I have regaled my friends and family with my life stories… and I wanted to expand the circle. I think that anyone who has an interest in knowing what it is like to work on Wall Street would want to read this novel.

7) You’re a highly-educated, driven, and successful woman in a career path that’s largely male-dominated. Do you think that our society is making it easier for ambitious and talented women to succeed, even in fields that once were considered “the old boys’ club”? What has been the biggest obstacle that you, as a woman, have encountered on the road to success?

Actually the “old boys’ club” has been quite supportive. I have found the biggest obstacles have been put up by other women. I don’t understand why more women don’t support other women. Give me a room of men anytime.

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

I love all kinds of “chick lit” books. They are my guilty pleasure… like The Nanny Diaries, The Devil Wears Prada, and the Bridget Jones series. But, a book I am reading now that I can’t put down is Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief. Every page shocks me in some way.

9) What do you ultimately hope to accomplish as a writer? For what would you most liked to be remembered?

I would love to be successful in melding a “guilty pleasure” book with a serious subject matter: to be able to inform while entertaining. If I am successful in doing that, I will have accomplished my goal.

10) There are still a great number of younger Americans, even those who are ambitious and focused on being successful and self-sufficient, who do not really understand the role personal finance plays in creating a secure future. Obviously, this is an issue that goes beyond being able to balance a monthly budget and pay bills on time. What is the most important advice you have to give to the 21-40 year-olds out there about creating economic stability during one of the most substantial financial low points Americans have seen in decades?

I think the biggest lesson this recession has taught us is to be prepared for the worst. The sense of permanency that our parents had is gone. No longer do most people work for the same company for their lifetimes. Workers are disposable and so are the companies that employ them. With that said, we need to reduce our debt burden and make sure our emergency savings account is adequately funded because we live in an era of instability and uncertainty.

11) 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 favorite things?

Take a look at my Pinterest site – you can see for yourself. 

12) What’s your Zodiac sign?

I’m a Libra. I like things in balance and prefer to avoid conflict.

13) What’s the most memorable thing (either positive or negative) anyone has ever said to you regarding your work? If you had one piece of advice for young, aspiring writers, what would that be?

A colleague said this after reading the book, “You have a gift. I know that writing is hard, and not lucrative. I hope you are inspired to write more.” I think her comments are right on. Writers need to write because they love it. If they are doing it just for the money, they may be disappointed. But, if they truly love it and are doing it for that reason – the compensation will come – sometimes in the form of money, sometimes in other ways that are more rewarding. Another thing I would strongly recommend to a new and/or young writer is to ask for help. In my case I hired my former editor from my last non-fiction book. I knew I needed help in writing fiction, since the format and writing is so different. She was brutal in her criticism but so valuable to the final product. I couldn’t have produced this novel without her.

14) When it comes to teaching today’s young women the value of both personal and financial independence, what is the most important thing you’d like for our generation to keep in mind? Other than yours, what books would you recommend to the average 25-year-old woman who wants to take control of her financial life?

With financial independence, you have more control. People who find themselves dependent on others for their financial support are at the mercy of their financial patrons. If you desire to control your own destiny, financial independence is critical. Read “Please Send Money: A Financial Survival Guide for Young Adults on Their Own.” This book teaches young adults the most important money lessons they need to know.

15) 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.

Oh, I’d be delighted if they did that! Anyone can purchase a paperback copy or download a Kindle version from Amazon here. But, if your readers have gotten this far – they should have a little extra treat – here’s a 50% off discount code if they purchase the paperback through CreateSpace (the Amazon-affiliated publishing format I used): Code “WSTF5282” This code is good through the end of June. Hopefully, they will want to add “From Wall Street With Love” to their summer reading lists. I’m still pretty new to the social media thing, but I’ve jumped into the deep end of the pool… Here’s where you can find me online and I welcome any and all comments, friends, fans, etc:


* Website: http://bit.ly/leighboyer

* Goodreads: http://bit.ly/13XwTB0

* Facebook (me): http://on.fb.me/UVn8hB

* Facebook (the Book): http://on.fb.me/YU2CBq

* Pinterest: http://bit.ly/Y8f6zh

* Twitter: @boyerleigh

* Twitter Hashtag: #WallStLove



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Leigh Boyer is an accomplished professional with experience in the financial services domain. She is currently Asia Pacific editor for Entrepreneur Today—a magazine dedicated to helping new entrepreneurs make their dreams become reality. She is former Director Of Metropolis Financial’s Office of Corporate Citizenship and oversaw a global commitment to fund financial education projects. Prior to that, she was accepted into the highly competitive internship program with McLean Investments in New York City. She is the author of a critically acclaimed personal finance book, The Metropolis Money Guide.

Ms.Boyer received her Bachelor’s degree in Public Affairs from Stanford University and her Master’s in International Finance from the Sorbonne University in Paris, France. She currently resides in Hong Kong.


“We all have an expiration date. If we didn’t, nothing would ever get done.”—”The Big C”

If you know anything about me at all, you know that I love entertainment. Pretty much any form of live performance or media is something I am going to enjoy (although I don’t much like sci-fi or action/adventure flicks, and have been known to walk out of a movie theatre or a play if it’s just that bad.), and it even extends to books, magazines, journaling, and of course, social media.

In particular, I love television. I always have. It sounds incredibly lame, but when I was a little kid, I used to pretend the people on my favourite shows were real. They were my friends. I talked about characters on TV sitcoms the same way I’d talk about someone in my kindergarten class. I had an Oscar The Grouch stuffed animal that lived in the laundry hamper in the hallway. I’d pass by and have conversations with him. I slept with an ALF doll, and had nightmares about the Whammies on “Press Your Luck”.

I’ve always felt an affinity for TV, that it was this consistent thing in my life I could always count on to be there for me when everything else in the world was chaotic or falling apart. I may have never moved to Atlanta if it weren’t for the TV show “Frasier”. When I got very ill about a year and a half ago, and wrote letters and journals about fearing I was going to die, I didn’t get through the fear because I thought of my family or friends or all I hadn’t accomplished in my life, or that dying at that point in my life would be a sad and terrible waste of potential. No. I thought, “I need to hang on and make things get better, because I want to see who gets kicked off Big Brother this week”. In a time where virtually nobody could stand to be around me and I thought I might either be losing my mind or my health, and getting out of bed was a challenge, turning on my TV and entering a world populated by strangers in a Big Brother TV studio every night made me feel connected to the world. It made me feel stronger to feel a connection with characters that weren’t even completely real, the same way it always did as a child.

Ironically, many of my past romantic partners have not liked TV, or felt it was a distraction, or felt intellectually above staring at a box with sound and pictures. I think I never quite understood myself well enough to know “Must Love TV” needs to be part of the equation, if someone is the type of soulmate I’m meant to end up sharing the primary part of my life with. Just as I couldn’t relate to someone who didn’t care for music, or thought theatre and art and performance was stupid, or never read books, I’m pretty sure my household will always have TV.

As happens every May, many of the shows I’d been watching ended. Unfortunately, many of them have been canceled for good, which always makes me sad. However, I know that in about a month, there will be new things for me to get slightly obsessed by, and I look forward to that.

In the absence of all my normal shows, I started looking around On Demand for something to watch tonight, and noticed that Showtime had started showing “The Big C” again. It’s on its fourth season, but it’s being advertised as a “limited series event”. Looking at Wikipedia, I see they’ve only made 4 hour-long episodes in Season 4 to wrap up the show. (previously, the show was a 30 minute deal.) The last one is airing May 20th.

“The Big C” is not the kind of show that’s for everyone, but it’s definitely my cup of tea. It’s full of sarcastic, intelligent, black humour. The show starts off with a middle-aged suburban housewife (played by Laura Linney, who is wonderful) being diagnosed with Stage 4 melanoma, and given a year to live. It starts off in a way that indicates the end at the beginning; each season goes through a different season of the year. However, they don’t really follow through with that, and it isn’t a foregone conclusion that the show has to end with the main character’s death. There are a lot of plot twists along the way. And, strangely, for most of the show, it’s a dark comedy. A majority of the show is very witty and very funny.

So, I was shocked when I started watching Season 4, and found myself sobbing through most of the episodes. Suddenly, it isn’t funny anymore. It’s dramatic and tragic and all those things you think a show about a terminally ill person would be.

One of the themes the show repeats often is that each and every one of us is dying, every day. For a very long time, my tagline on many of my social profiles is a line from a Cake song that particularly resonated with me: “As soon as you’re born, you start dying, so you might as well have a good time”.

One of the reasons the show is painful is because it doesn’t sugar-coat anything. It reminds you that whether it’s cancer or a heart attack or a car accident or plain old age, at some point, every person you know and have ever known will no longer be here—including yourself. It is a sad thought, and a terrifying thought, but the premise behind the show is “If you knew you only had a year to live, what would you do with your life?”.

It then reminds us that perhaps every single person should live that way, because all the years are precious. Most of us don’t know we have a certain amount of time to tie up loose ends and do everything that matters. We have an expiration date, but for most of us, death comes as a surprise for which we’re unprepared. As I get older, I notice that not only just in myself but in those around me, the process of aging becomes a surprise for which we’re unprepared. Visits to the doctor start to feel a little more serious. We start to have a few more wrinkles. Sometimes, we pass by a mirror, and no longer see the child, the adolescent, the carefree young person. Instead, we start to see our mother, our father. There’s a realisation that time is not infinite and the clock keeps on ticking—and that’s if you’re lucky.

In the show, there’s a scene where Laura Linney’s character is in the hospital, and her son pieces together a collage of photographs from her life, so it’s the first thing she sees every day. I wonder if I am, on some subconscious level, more acutely aware of how short life is. I’ve lived in a room with a wall that has been collaged with my favourite memories since I was 26. It’s been a pain to take the wall down and reassemble it whenever I move. But it’s also really important to me to always feel like I’m surrounded by moments when I was happy and young and vibrant, and to see the faces of the people I love—even if they don’t always remember I love them, or how much I care. I think I’ve always thought, “If I don’t wake up tomorrow, I want the last thing in my head to be that wall.”

I think about being a thing that has an expiration date a little too much, and it scares me sometimes. My grandmother passed away when she was 50. I was a little over two years old, and it is one of my earliest childhood memories, being in a dimly-lit, sepia-coloured room with a tiny little woman with her head wrapped in bandages. Above her bed was a cross, making everything seem very somber and austere. My mother tells me I could not remember this; children don’t remember scenes in detail at that age. But I do. That is the only memory I have of my grandmother. She died when my mother was only 33. I spent most of my life thinking I was adopted, because I don’t physically resemble anyone in my family. When I was older, I saw a picture of my grandmother, and realised how much I looked like her. I think it’s why my mother always criticised me for being too small, too pale, too thin, too fragile-looking….things I could do nothing about. I always thought she was just being my mother, the type of person for whom even the smallest flaw is worth noting and compliments are rare. As I get older, I realise I must remind my mother of the mother she lost so early in life, and that she’s always been afraid that my small frame and fragile health meant she’d lose me early, too.

For what it’s worth, it turns out I’m a survivor, at least so far. I’ve been in a car accident where the driver was killed, another where my entire family was injured but me, and a third where my head literally went through the windshield, leaving an Alayna-shaped headprint. I’ve had tubes put in my ears, suffered a ruptured appendix at 9, and then developed an infection requiring another surgery. I had my knee completely reconstructed at 15. I need surgery again for a torn ACL. I have virtually no sweat glands and am prone to both hyper-and-hypothermia without feeling it. I get flu-like symptoms when I get rained on. I went to the beach and came back with 2nd degree sunburn on 60% of my body, and an infection that turned into a rare inner ear disorder. I’ve had enough “female troubles” to last a lifetime, and apparently, my heart beats too fast. I’m pretty much a walking medical disorder.

Yet, all things considered, I grew up to be a relatively strong person. I’d like to think even though I am not the healthiest person around, emotionally or physically, I’ve always been a fighter in my own small way.

If there’s one thing that scares the hell out of me, though, it’s death. I have had dreams in which I see my death—not the scary kind, where someone is chasing you, the building explodes, the car crashes, or the murderer pops out from the closet—but the kind in which I am almost able to experience the process of dying. It is never frightening, but almost calm and surreal. The thing always notice most about death is that I feel sad about leaving.

I had one dream in which I saw my death in that same way I see many of my “psychic dreams”, and that of course threw me for a loop when I woke up. It shocked me to see me as someone who was very old, and very small. I was surrounded by people I didn’t really know or recognise, but they were my family (apparently, in my dream, I have a daughter and two grandchildren and a very unruly great-grandchild, which is almost as shocking as the idea of me living to be very, very old.) My daughter doesn’t look like me, or what I imagine I’ll look like at that age. She is taller and stronger and more imposing, and has olive skin and black hair that is starting to show streaks of grey. I can’t imagine her being related to me, because she seems very strong, and I am old and tiny and look very fragile. The nurse tells me it is a few days after my birthday, and there are icicles on the tree outside the hospital room window. (which we have in the Northeast, but rarely here in Atlanta.) I ask her if New Year’s Eve has happened yet. New Year’s Eve is one of my favourite holidays, even though it seems to be a rather cursed day for me.

I do not believe my dream is truly a “psychic dream”, although numerous psychics and palm readers and whatnot have told me I will live an exceptionally long time. The hereditary factors in my family—people either die relatively young or live to be exceptionally old in my family—as well as my history of health problems, and my natural constitution, do not point to a long and robust life. For the longest time, I was convinced I wouldn’t live past 30, and I was OK with that. Now I am older and wiser and know how important it is to stay healthy and keep living and creating and sharing my life with those who matter for as long as I can, I am suddenly terrified of the idea that I might die.

It is not helped by the fact that I’ve lost many friends and acquaintances who passed away suddenly, at relatively young ages. I have to visit the doctor on Monday, and I am filled with dread about doing so. I feel so sorry I spent a lot of my life taking health and the gift of being alive for granted, and instead made many stupid choices, some of which *should* have killed me. I suppose that’s everyone when they’re young, but there’s an age where you stop feeling invincible. There’s an age where you realise you never were, and the fact that you’re still here and took that for granted all along isn’t something that should continue.

“The Big C” turned devastatingly sad because it stopped being about characters on TV, and started being about everyone. We may seem so different, but the one thing we all have in common is that one day, we will die…and hopefully, there will be people who are terribly sad that has happened. No amount of preparation, money, lifestyle choices, or prayer will change the fact that we all begin life and end life in a way where the timing isn’t run by us for our approval.

I suppose it’s everything in the middle that matters. That is why all I’ve ever wanted, really, is for my “everything else” to have mattered to someone, somewhere.

It’s Sunday once again, and here in Atlanta, you’d have no idea it’s the middle of May. Happy Mother’s Day to not only my mother, but all the wonderful women out there in the world who drive station wagons and mini-vans, change clothes in the car on a regular basis, learned to tune out the sound of little people screaming in the background, and know that hot dogs and spaghetti are an impressive Julia-Child type recipe when mixed together.

Of course, every Sunday is Literary Libations, where I speak to the type of people who have children that have been loved and nurtured into publishable form. In a way, writing a book is a lot like deciding to have a child. It takes most of your focus for the greater part of a year, you make a lot of sacrifices in order to get it done, you end up slightly fat and out of shape and wanting ice cream at 3 AM, and it will wake you up in the middle of the night suddenly demanding attention. Halfway through the process, you start to doubt your ability to actually do this and know it’s going to go wrong, and when all is said and done, 10 pound boxes of something you created show up at your door. You’re then compelled to spend the next few years showing pictures of it and telling everyone how wonderful it is, even if it kind of just looks like every other book to everyone else. Fortunately, you don’t have to feed your book, potty train it, drive it to soccer practice, or wonder how you’ll afford to send it to college.

On that note, today I’ll be speaking with tireless and prolific writer Devorah Fox. In addition to writing artful and imaginative stories (as someone who grew up intrigued by all the stories of King Arthur and the world of Camelot, I look forward to checking out her works.), she also has a number of creative hobbies you can read about on her blog. Recently, she told me she was one of 100 writers invited to participate in a book-writing marathon. Participants were challenged to write a book in 40 hours. As someone who’s not sure she’ll be able to finish a novel in 40 years, I find this quite impressive.

Devorah (who goes by Dee) is here to speak about her latest book,
“The King’s Ransom”
, and about the art and craft of being a writer. Sit back, relax, and perhaps give your mother a call to chat about the wonderful books you’ve just “Dee-scovered”. :)



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

Originally from Brooklyn, New York, I’ve spent more years in Arizona and along the Texas Gulf Coast than I ever did “back east,” but still consider myself a New Yorker.

My current project is “The King’s Ransom,” a sequel to my first published novel,
The Lost King

.

2) If you don’t mind, share a little bit about your latest book? What is it about your writing that gives it a unique voice and appeals to readers?

The King’s Ransom continues the story of Robin, the dethroned King Bewilliam. He commits to restoring his kingdom and family against all odds, and they are formidable.

Something about my books apparently transcends the fantasy genre. I’ll quote a reviewer: “Being new to the world of Fantasy Fiction I was a little uneasy about buying The Lost King. I expected to be forced to wade through baroque dialog and dark scenes of witches, sorcerers, fairies and knight machinations… All my trepidations were for naught. The story could have taken place today.”

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

Though The Bewildering Adventures of King Bewilliam series is set in a medieval fantasy world, I’m inspired by contemporary dilemmas. I wrote The Lost King to explore the predicament of people who because of the economic downtown were “pink slipped” out of a career, an entire life that they had spent a decades building. The King’s Ransom looks at what happens when you defy all odds and commit to pursuing your life’s dream.

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?

You could say I’m both an indie publisher and a self-publisher. In 1988 my late husband and I started a publishing company so I’ve been an “indie publisher” for decades. We did and still do publish textbooks for commercial motor vehicle operators but he always wanted to publish my fiction writing. So when I decided to get The Lost King between covers, I published it under our imprint. We have had nonfiction titles put out by a traditional publisher but regardless of who does the publishing, the author has to do a lot of marketing and promotion.

5) Where, when, and how did you get your start in the writing world? Is this your first book, or have you published before? If someone were to sum you up as a writer in 50 words or less, what would you like to have written about you?

I’ve always been a bibliophile, even as a little girl. I believe I wrote my first novel in the third grade. I got my first writing job in 1977. I started writing fiction in earnest in the mid 1990’s.

I couldn’t want for better acclaim about my writing than what one reviewer told me:
“I haven’t read anything to speak of since I was 40 except for a few inspirational books or books about politics. I suppose you are responsible for reviving my interest in reading fiction.”

6) Outside of writing, you seem to have a variety of interests and are a well-rounded person. What are some of your hobbies and interests? Do find these things help you grow creatively, or leave you in a time-crunch when it comes to meeting deadlines?

I devote quite a bit of time to the writer groups to which I belong. I enjoy sharing what I’ve learned from being in the publishing field for so many years. It’s great to be able to spare someone from having to recreate the wheel. In turn, I have benefited from read-and-critique with other astoundingly talented writers.

7) In addition to being a writer, you’re also a blogger with a social media presence. How do you feel social media helps or hinders artists in pursuit of their goals? Do you spend a lot of time on social media or focus on building yourself as a “brand’, or is it something you only use on occasion?

I think I do put quite a bit of time into social media but I’m not prepared to say that it’s been time well invested in terms of reaching readers. Maybe I haven’t been doing it right! On the other hand, I have picked up a lot of invaluable information from the experience other writers have shared.

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?

I wish I had more time for pleasure reading. Before I got so busy writing, I enjoyed Greg Iles, Randy Wayne White and Ian Rankin. I really admire how they create a sense of place. A reader of The Lost King found its hero reminiscent of John Sandford’s Lucas Davenport so now I’m rereading the Prey series.

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? For what would you most liked to be remembered?

One way or the other, I’m writing something every day: a blog post, a sponsored review, a newspaper column. I’m fortunate enough to have had people tell me that my writing has helped them. In some cases it’s been practical, such as via one of our training publications. Others have been motivated to be creative themselves. On reader was so inspired by The Lost King that he couldn’t wait for me to write the sequel so he wrote one himself. The Lost King has fan fiction!

10) I read something on your blog recently about you “going away to camp” in order to work on your next publication. That sounds like a truly interesting idea. Could you tell us a bit more about that?

I attended “Camp NaNoWriMo.” It’s an imaginary writers retreat. I set aside a month, making fiction writing a priority and try to meet the goal of writing 50,000 words. Camp NaNoWriMo is organized by The Office of Letters and Light which also organizes National Novel Writing Month. That takes place every November, and OLL also holds two “camps,” one in April and one in July. I’ve done two NaNoWriMos, one in 2010 and another in 2012, and two camps, one in 2011 and the April 2013 camp.

11) 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’m not much of a movie goer. I do like TV. I think I’ve seen every episode of Law and Order and CSI. When I have time, I like to crochet and do crafts like glass etching, glass painting and furniture antiquing. I’ve given watercolor painting a try and I’d like to do more of that. Recently I charged myself with restoring a mosaic table that my mother had made decades ago.

12) What’s your Zodiac sign?

Gemini

13) What’s the most memorable thing (either positive or negative) anyone has ever said to you regarding your work? If you had one piece of advice for young, aspiring writers, what would that be?

I was really moved when someone told me that after reading The Lost King he felt validated because someone understood what he had gone through in his life.

I would tell young writers or even older ones that if you think you’d like to write, just do it. It’s a talent that not everyone has. Don’t hold back out of fear that it won’t be any good. It’s probably better than you think. I don’t think we writers ever believe our writing is good enough, anyway–we’re always looking to improve.

14) 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 Lost King is on amazon.com, Kindle, Nook, etc. I like to say that if you want it via smoke signal or carrier pigeon, I’ll get it there. But it’s probably faster to follow these links:

*amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/The-Lost-King-Devorah-Fox/dp/0977824527

*bn.com: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-lost-king-devorah-fox/1037627030

*Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/The-Lost-King-ebook/dp/B006L5O1JE/ref=tmm_kin_title_0,

*Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-lost-king-devorah-fox/1108162505?ean=2940044954267,

*smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/230605, and iBook

Anyone interested in our textbooks and smartphone apps can find more information here:

http://blog.bumper2bumpertruckbook.com/answers/

http://bumper2bumpertruckbook.com/sp-bin/spirit?PAGE=24

I invite people to connect with me here:

*email: devorahfox@aol.com

*Website: http://devorahfox.com

*Twitter: http://twitter.com/devorah_fox

*Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/devorah.fox

*Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2751371.Devorah_Fox

*Google+ : https://plus.google.com/115373271462004436975


“Devorah” is a weighty moniker so most people call me Dee. When not “Dee-Scovering” the dee-lights of the Texas Coastal Bend for my column in The Island Moon newspaper I’m running Mike Byrnes and Associates, Inc. We’re publishers of BUMPERTOBUMPER®, The Complete Guide to Tractor-Trailer Operations (the “bible” of truck driver training), authors of the Easy CDL apps for the iPhone and iPad (so much more enjoyable than the state manuals!); and last but not least The Lost King, a literary fantasy (Book One of The Bewildering Adventures of King Bewilliam). My current project is Book Two, The King’s Ransom, due out this summer.



lostking
Thanks so much to Devorah Fox for stopping by to be our guest this Sunday, and I’ll be following up with her in the next few days to chat about her 40-hour writing marathon, and what type of results that yielded. :) I’ll also be sharing her author interview with me about “Ophelia’s Wayward Muse”, and discussing a few books that have shown up in my mailbox and on my Kindle that I simply can’t wait to read.

In the meantime, a happy Mother’s Day—or just a laid-back and lovely Sunday afternoon–to all. :)

Today is Cinco de Mayo here in the States, so I basically have two options: 1)Stay up really late and post this week’s “Literary Libations” before heading off to drink at a friend’s party tomorrow, or 2)Wait until 8 PM tomorrow, when I’m exhausted and really just want to see the “Amazing Race”finale. Because I am a responsible blogging diva, I will opt for the first one. So, hello, world…this is me at 3 AM!:)

Today’s interview is with author Stacy Bender, who has successfully published a number of books in the fantasy genre, but her writing is original, descriptive, colourful, and really defies any specific genre. Whether you like fantasy, sci-fi, romance, or simply a well-developed story, you’ll enjoy reading what she has to offer.

Sit back, relax, and depending on what time you read this, either grab your authentic Mexican Coca-Cola, or the nearest margarita, and take a journey with Stacy through a more colourful and vivacious world!



easter 2013 111
1) Please tell the readers a bit about yourself. Where are you from, where do you reside now, and what is your latest project?

Hi, my name is Stacy Bender, and I’m originally from Michigan, a place where UP is not a direction, it’s a place. Both Hell and Paradise really do exist, you can find it on the map, and depending on which side of the bridge you reside on signifies whether you’re a yooper or troll. I’m a troll.

Right at the moment, I live in Cincinnati and have been here for a few years. I like the area very much. I love being able to walk around town without fear of being run over.

As for the my latest project, between trying to find a job, editing Word Branch Publishing’s new Sci-Fi Anthology, working on my next book and getting my garden ready….. not much. Did I mention that I am a tad bit hyperactive?

2) If you don’t mind, share a little bit about your latest book? What is it about your writing that gives it a unique voice and appeals to readers?

‘Real Men Don’t Wax’, and yes, I purposely named it that to grab everyone’s attention. Quite honestly, I usually don’t do romance novels. I much prefer sci-fi and fantasy. However, I wrote the story for several reasons. First, as a challenge to see if I could do it; second, for a friend who is a romance fanatic, and third– to have a bit of fun. The first line says it all.


“Why is it that in every romance novel, the girl is always a virgin and the guy has more money than he knows what to do with? When in reality, most of us lose our virginity in a drunken stupor to some jackass and most guys don’t have a pot to pee in,”

The rest is just poking fun at the gene and of course and everyone falls in love with Mephistopheles. If I get the reader to laugh, I’ve done my job.



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

Inspiration can come from anywhere even on a gloomy day. It can follow you home from a walk in the park, wake you up in the middle of the night, drop in your lap for no good reason or show up, as ‘Real Men Don’t Wax’ did, in a conversation on romance novels.

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?

When I first decided to try and get my work published, I knew that I didn’t want to self publish it. Going with the traditional publisher seem daunting because it seemed like in order to get published, you had to be published. Confusing, I know.

Therefore, when a friend of mine introduced me to Cathy I thought that I hit the jackpot. She was just starting up Word Branch Publishing and took a look at ‘Emerald Tears’ and she loved it, though at the moment ‘Ursa Kane’ is now her favorite, and her husband would love to see it as a movie.

The benefits of Word Branch is that it’s a small publishing company and even though artist, owners, editors, proofers and authors are all scattered across the country we still are accessible to each other. Granted, being new is a bit of a problem, as well as the biggest drawback. There will be bumps along the road, but it’s amazing, the opportunities that the Internet presents.

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

Where, when and how? Oh dear, I’m not quite sure. You see have always made up stories but had few people to tell them to. Plus, I was told that I couldn’t write and I admit that I still can’t spell. I’ve always dreamed of writing a book ever since I saw the movie, ‘The Ghost and Mrs. Muir’. But it seemed like just that a dream until a friend of mine managed to convince me to start writing my stories down and so ‘Ursa Kane’ is my oldest surviving written story, even though ‘Emerald Tears’ was published first, followed six months later by ‘Hands of Onyx’.


6) Your work is highly imaginative. Where does that inspiration come from? Are there times when you experience “writer’s block”, and what do you find is the best way to get past that?

Highly imaginative, I find those words rather odd. For me, it’s normal state of mind. I guess it’s because I see the world rather differently than most, and have been accused of living in my own world. When I have trouble with a story I usually tuck it in the cubbyhole in my mind, or if it’s written down, toss it on the shelf for a time. Time is really the only answer and trying to force a story out doesn’t seem to work very well for me. Sometimes, talking to someone about a particular story helps the brain organize thoughts and brings the obvious to light.

7) In addition to being a writer, you’re also a blogger with a social media presence. How do you feel social media helps or hinders artists in pursuit of their goals?

Right at the moment I’m still trying to get used to the SM thing, (Social Media) and sometimes I think the acronym sounds accurate.;P But it seems that this is the way the world is turning and it’s unavoidable, so it’s just a matter of getting used to it. Luckily, one can link many of these sites together making it a little easier and less time consuming.

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

Correction, I’m my own worst enemy. However, one of my favorite series is Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer, there is something about the character. It’s had a big influence on when I wrote ‘Emerald Tears’. There is just something about a man in a fedora and wearing a suit, it’s sexy. You just don’t see that anymore. As for the books that I read, I always try to find something to take away with me and I tend to lean towards stories that have a somewhat positive ending. (Please don’t confuse that with a happy ending.)



UrsaKane
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?

Writing so far has been nothing more than a hobby, and I am not really sure if I want to go beyond that or not. As long as it kept its ‘fun factor’, that would be great. I wouldn’t mind a movie deal either. I wouldn’t want to act in it or direct it. However, can I slap the director if he screws it up? But seriously, I write because I love doing it. One should not get into writing expecting to make loads of money, but if you are one of the lucky few who can, my hat’s off to you.

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?

How about getting the day job so I can keep my house? Sorry, that’s just been at the forefront of my mind here lately. After almost 20 years in the same company, I’ve found myself laid off and a bit out of sorts. Getting back to the question, one can always find improvement in everything they do. Life changes and so do we. If we aren’t willing to change, we stagnate.

11) 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 favorite things?

Television has so few shows that actually require a brain cell or two, so I tend to stick to PBS, mysteries and mayhem. Magazines are mostly advertisements. Movies and music depend on my mood at the time as to what keeps my attention. I do have a love of cooking, especially when there are others around to enjoy it. Opera (yes, I know everyone usually dies) and various other live performances.

12) What’s your Zodiac sign?

Occidental or Oriental? Taurus, if you’re asking about the occidental or Greek zodiac most of us know. Dog, element of metal, for the Oriental—and just for shits and giggles, in numerology my full name adds up to eleven. Yes I could go on but basically it all ends up being a double whammy and a contradiction in terms. All in all I’m stubborn and dependable.

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.



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You can order direct from Word Branch Publishing or go to Amazon.com

If you wish to follow me, pick your poison I’ve got them all linked together:

http://stacybender.wordpress.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stacy-Bender/100925890074142

https://twitter.com/Stacy84345146

Thank you to Stacy for joining us today, and for bringing along her witty and upbeat sense of humour. Anita Lewis, who appeared in a previous installment of Literary Libations and conducted an interview with me earlier this week, has a guest post written by Stacyon her blog, so I encourage you to take the time to hop on over and read more about this very colourful and unique lady!

I’ll see you all again next Sunday, when we’ll be speaking with the lovely and multi-faceted author Devorah Fox. Please don’t forget about me in the meantime! I’m always conversing over on Facebook and chatting about books and such on Goodreads, so don’t hesitate to be my friend!:)

Today’s blog is immensely self-centred, because it’s more about ME! ;P Today, my guest interview is with the quirky and expressive Anita Lewis, who asked me to write about becoming a writer, and how my book came into being. It can look a little daunting because I didn’t double-space paragraph breaks correctly….but I promise it’s entertaining and informative.

I discuss learning to write, being a “gifted child”, feminism, Shakespeare, and the downside to life as a “manic pixie dream girl”. If that’s not a mix of topics to interest you, I don’t know what is.

Please stop by and visit, comment, share, Tweet, and also like on FB, or simply say that I am funny, interesting, or cool!! :P Visit Anita, and hear from your favourite wayward muse

Earlier in the week, I did a guest blog over at Faith Colburn’s page entitled “People Watching”. It’s about my nasty habit of eavesdropping, and then silently mocking others in my head. (or, later, out loud by sharing with friends. Or the Internet. Nobody ever said I was the nicest person on Earth! :P )

If you missed any of my earlier appearances, read Troy Jackson’s well-done interview with me about the writing process and Ophelia’s Wayward Muse. Or, you can read a more in-depth Q & A session,courtesy of the Savvy Indie.

Don’t forget to look for “Ophelia’s Wayward Muse” on Amazon, friend me on Goodreads to talk about what you’re reading and writing, and to leave a review if you’ve got a copy of the book sitting on your shelf. ;)