Of course, I’d like to open up my blog post today by linking you to a blog that discusses one of my all-time favourite topics: me.*laughs* While I’m perhaps not quite *that* egocentric, I did enjoy the interview that the lovely Megan Cashman posted with me, earlier in the week. She typically only interviews novelists, and while I hope to have that particular title one day, I’m glad she found me fascinating enough to make an exception. If you haven’t, please visit her page and read as we chat about what it’s like to be someone who is still publishing poetry in 2013, and believes that crowd-sourcing is the future of the indie artist. (In fact, perhaps it’s the future in general, as it gives established artists the freedom to *become* indie artists and pursue projects and passions that aren’t considered widely marketable.)

If you missed it, I also participated in the All-Authors Blog Blitz, where I was interviewed by a charming woman across the pond in Dublin named Paula Black. Her site, Raven & Black, is really geared towards readers of gothic erotica–and while I neither read nor write gothic erotica, it’s safe to say there’d be nobody on the planet shocked to learn that I did. Yet, I had the strangest writer’s block in trying to do a guest introduction for the page. I simply decided to share that struggle, and it came out in a rather humourous fashion, if I do say so myself. Hop on over and visit me in what seems a little like home, surrounded by black and crimson. ;P

Thanks so much to Paula and Megan for having me as a guest!! I’ve really been slacking on my Sunday author interviews lately, but it seems there are only so many hours in the day, and on my introverted days, I spend a majority of them writing. Earlier today, I began communicating in one word sentences along the lines of “Words. Difficult. Tired. Brain. Point. Unimportant”.

Why have I been working so much, you ask? As I alluded to in the last blog entry, but did not fully explain because it was another author’s day in the spotlight here, I had some last minute news tossed in my direction. Perhaps about a week ago, I was informed in the middle of July that I was going on a family vacation, and then home to visit my parents. I was also informed I’d be expected to pay for my part of the trip and backing out of going home was not optional, as I hadn’t been in two years, and my mother’s health is very bad. I’m not sure if it’s her physical health or her mental state, but her last stroke left her unable to walk without assistance and talking with her is certainly a labour of love, as it takes her ages to find the words to string together a sentence. It is one case in which my highly intuitive personality and active listening skills come in handy, because I’m able to finish her thoughts for her. Still, for a highly impatient person like myself, it’s a challenge.

On top of paying for the trip, the expense is compounded by the fact that I need to find a dog sitter. When I first agreed to take care of my dog, whom I love (but let’s face it, I’m not terribly good at taking care of things, nor am I the most nurturing person around.), I had plenty of people who were willing to take her when I was out of town, help out with getting her places, etc. These days, not a single one of those friends is available, and I’m left in the position of being a single parent. I have numerous things on my calendar each year that take me away from home for at least a few days at a time, and I can’t give up my life because I have a dog and everyone who was so eager to help is suddenly like, “I’m sorry, I wish I could”. So, the result is that the cost of every trip effectively doubles, because I have to find a pet-sitting solution. This has most definitely sent me into “working overtime” drive, which for me, means putting words on the screen as frequently and eloquently as possible.

I’m a bit nervous about the trip, because I’ll be returning to the Jersey Shore, and then to Philadelphia. This is where I got very sick in the first place, and because I didn’t get treatment when I needed it, my body had a particularly rough time with panic attacks and unrestrained adrenaline. I also didn’t get much support from my family, who thought I was being dramatic and inconvenient and attempting to be the centre of attention (when in reality, I needed to be in the ER, hooked up to IVs and heart monitors.) It was the beginning of one of the toughest experiences of my life, and I am afraid that, having a history of suffering from PTSD, revisiting these places will trigger negative physical symptoms. I understand this is simply a fear and there is no logical reason to assume this will happen, but I still have very bad days, health-wise. Thinking about this trip causes me anxiety in advance, but I feel obligated to do it, because when someone says “Your parents may not have that much time left”, you can’t just continue to ignore the fact that your family exists because you don’t get on with them too well.

There is an intuitive voice in my head that tells me it is time to go home, because it may be my last “normal” trip home. I do not know if this is because of my mother’s deteriorating health, or because I wonder if I am the one who may not be around next summer. All I know is it seems a lot like saying goodbye to something I lost a very, very long time ago. “Home” hasn’t been something I’ve had for a large part of my life, and so it’s hard to visit my family’s home and pretend it is in someway mine. It feels so much like visiting strangers, and I realise that’s because sadly, they are.

Of course, I’m still on flight restriction due to my inner ear disorder, which means taking the bus everywhere I go. So, I figured that if I have to do all this work and deal with things I’d rather avoid, I’m going to take my time coming back and spend a few days with people I really *want* to see. I planned a route that allowed me to visit some of my favourite people in four different cities, even if not for a terribly long time (I must say that I appreciate good friends and free Welcome Rewards points for making the trip easier, and people who like me enough to rearrange busy schedules just to see little old me. It’s definitely not the quantity of time you get to spend with the people you value, but the quality. :) ) I’m actually a pretty organized, logical trip planner—a quality that also comes out when I put together events—which is contrary to how I live much of my actual life. I don’t necessarily like being informed I need to travel at the last minute, because I plan my life in advance, but when last minute things happen, I like to make the most of them and enjoy them. However, every time I travel, there’s always an unexpected something going awry…and a lifetime of travel has taught me that organization is a huge way to cope with the unexpected.

I’m also planning to be a minimalistic traveler this time around, as I’m not as strong as I once was, and have no intentions of schlepping 50 pounds of luggage up and down the East Coast. If finances were not a concern, I’d likely take the advice of a friend of mine and “always just take an empty suitcase. You’ll find new things to bring back, and you’ll value them more because they’ll remind you of the places you’ve been, the people you’ve met, and the things you’ve seen.” A wonderful perspective, but, well, she makes more money than I do. Once I become famous for…you know, whatever I’m destined to be known for….perhaps this will be the perspective for me.

So, there’s that, and in between, I have some events for my social group, catching up with the people here in Atlanta I like, and of course, the return of “Big Brother”.

Every so often, there’s a season that makes me glad I didn’t reapply for the show that year (I was a finalist for Season 1, which tells you exactly how old I am. *laughs*), and each year, I get a correspondence reminding me that I am on file with CBS and asking me to submit updated materials. This year, they’ve managed to pick a lot of shallow, vapid Hollywood kids (even if they come from all over the country), and the “old lady” of the house is 37. In addition to lowering the average age by a decade, it’s obvious that many of these people are obsessed with their physical appearance and the physicality of others, and talk about little else. I love Big Brother, but I have to wonder if they accidentally swapped buses with MTV and got the finalists for “The Real World”, instead?

Rachel Reilly, one of my favourite redheads (and former winner of the show), is not on this season. However, her spirit is there, somewhat, in the form of her sister Elissa. Sadly, like Rachel, Elissa seems to be a divisive personality and people are already campaigning to get rid of her in the first week. I truly hope that doesn’t happen, because I need some valid reason to watch the show this season. I’m sure it may improve over time, and once some of the more vapid characters are sent packing, but it’s truly shaping up to be a weak season. On top of that, Showtime dropped its 3-hour per night “Big Brother After Dark”, which was one of the main reasons I started subscribing to Showtime two years ago. The show is now 2 hours and on the TV Guide Channel, which is just atrocious. They censor everything, and half the time, they simply cut conversations. If the show was a B-plus on Showtime, it’s barely getting a passing grade on its new network. It will be quite sad if I completely lose interest.

There’s my recap, and what’s been going on in my world! If I have any reason to look forward to vacation, it’s that sitting on a bus is definitely much needed “downtime” (if only “down” meant asleep!), and I will need to recharge my batteries to get excited for all the fun (albeit tiring fun) that goes on in September and October in my world. I just need to convince myself that sun will not kill me, and I am not *actually* a vampire. ;P

I’ll see you all on Sunday, when “Literary Libations” will be back with a charming and interesting author you’ll be delighted to get to know! (nope, it’s not me. ;P)

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!

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.

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! :)