‘Rewind Interview’ with Poet, Writer, Blogger, & Author Rosema Gonzales #amwriting #nonfiction #interview

Welcome to almost September and a look back at some of past interviews in my ‘Rewind Interviews.’ On my own blog Mandibelle16 and on the Go Dog Go Cafe. If anyone wants to be a regular member of the Cafe as a Barista once a week or even every two weeks, please let us know. Also, you can submit questions about this or your own writing to our Contact Page. 

I’m excited to share with you a ‘Rewind Interview‘ of my good friend, talented writer, wonderful person, and wise woman: Rosema Gonzales from the Philippines. You can explore her blog here: A Reading Writer .


Rosema
Rosema Gonzales

1. Rosema, Please Share With Us Some Things About Yourself?

I am my blog’s nameA Reading Writer. I read and write and in-between, eat cake and/or drink coffee.

I currently work for a small Public Relations firm as a Public Relations Associate and also a Public Relations Writer. I have a degree in journalism and I dream of becoming a news writer someday; a bonafide journalist. Although, I feel this goal could be a bit impossible, realistically speaking, but who knows?

When I’m not working, I’m blogging and writing. My blog, A Reading Writer , is my fortress and it has changed my writing-self dramatically. I used to only write book reviews and thoughts on books I was reading (wanted to read). Now, I write both poetry and fiction. I never thought I could write poetry or fiction until I joined the WordPress courseWriting 101, last year. Writing 101 changed my perspective on my writing abilities.

When I’m not writing or blogging, I have a thirst for reading. Mitch Albom who is my favorite author. I love all the novels I have that Mitch Albom wrote, but it would take too long to name them all :D)

When I am not reading I am drinking a cuppa of dark coffee and wishing I could be eating cheesecake! 😀


2. When Did You First Start Writing and Blogging?

Technically, my first post was published on August 28, 2014, close to three-years-ago now. My first post was only the beginning of my ‘existence’ as a blogger. My ‘real’ more than existing as a blogger, began when I joined Writing 101 in September 2015. For me, this course offered by WordPress somehow signaled the ‘rebirth’ of my A Reading Writer blog.


“My ‘real’ more than existing as a blogger, began when I joined Writing 101 in September 2015. For me, this course offered by WordPress, somehow signaled the ‘rebirth’ of my A Reading Writer blog.” – Rosema Gonzales


3. What Does Your Writing and Poetry Mean to You? Why Do You Write and Where Do You Find Your Inspiration and Motivation?

For me, writing is like breathing with wordsNo one can survive without breathing; that’s how vital writing and poetry are for me. My motivation and inspiration can come from anywhere. I had a writing piece which was inspired by a garbage truck once. Seriously! But the majority of my poetry and fiction are written while I’m riding the bus. I think my brain churns more when I’m commuting. Reading and music also inspire and motivate me, and have recently given birth to some unpublished poems, too. 🙂


4. Do You Find There Is A Time of Day You Most Enjoy Writing?

Hmmm. As I said before, I usually write on a bus so it’s either early morning or at night when  I write. Although, I think there is something about the silence and darkness of night that inspiresmore creative pieces as compared to when it’s daytime.


“For me, writing is like breathing with words. No one can survive without breathing; that’s how vital writing and poetry are form me. My motivation and inspiration can come from anywhere.” – Rosema Gonzales


5. Do You Have Any Current Writing Projects or Any Hopeful Writing Projects?

If hosting a writing challenge is a project then, I would say my most recent project called:  Word-High July has been my focus#WordHighJuly featured thirty beautiful Filipino words as word prompts. Many poets and bloggers have written impeccable pieces inspired by these Filipino words such as halakhak, a noun which means loud uninhibited laughter, or kaulayai, a noun which means a pleasant and intimate companion. In terms of future projects, I’m dreaming of publishing my own poetry book in the future.


Note: Rosema has done just that and published her first book on Amazon.com, earlier in the summer. It’s called Between My Bleeding Lines by R.C. Gonzales and is available as a Kindle ebook and in Paperback!


Between These Bleeding Lines 

by

R.C Gonzales

*****

R.C. Gonzales Book Cover Amazon.com

Credit: R.C. Gonzales

*****

Below is also n example of an image and word prompt used in Rosema’s #WordHighJuly writing challenge last year.


Pleasant Compnanion


6. Have You Published Any Of Your Writing Or Are You Planning to Publish Works of Writing In The Future? Can You Briefly Describe Your Publishing and Writing Process?

All my written works are published on WordPress only for the moment. It’s part of my future plan to publish them soon maybe on my own because scouting for a publisher is a tough task. I’m still building up the courage to finally, begin writing my own book. 

Because I’m not even one step towards publishing my work beyond my blog, I think I’m not a good writer or blogger to describe the process of publishing my writing. HOWEVER, I have great blogging friends who have successfully published their books and I’m sure they will willingly help people who like me, will eventually need tips on the entire publishing process. I have been reading some online material about self-publishing. So, I have gathered a ton of information there.

(See above Rosema self-published her poetry book!)


7. What Is Your Writing Process Like?

I have an erratic writing process. I write anywhere and anytime, because story ideas sprout unexpectedly. There are times for instance when I am just walking and I come across someone who I don’t know and a poem is born! It’s an unpredictable process so I always have my phone handy because it’s my stock room for poetry and fiction.


“I have an erratic writing process. I write anywhere and anytime, because story ideas sprout unexpectedly.” – Rosema Gonzales


8. Do You Prefer Certain Areas of Writing or Reading Styles and/or Genres?

I prefer reading in bed. I’m a certified librocubicularist. 🙂

When it comes to reading genres, I love Young-AdultMystery, ThrillersContemporary LiteratureHistorical FictionPoetry, and Faith related books.When it comes to writing, my most chosen genre is Romance; love, and more so, unrequited love. I also write realistic fiction and about a tragedy. My blog friend Mel, of In Media Res has been joking about putting a death toll counterin my blog. HAHA. I’m close to considering it!


9. Do You Have Any Helpful Advice for Other Writers?

First, I must say write for yourself, not for anyone else. It is blissful to have many people follow and read your work, but it is unusual to have many followers and readers as a writer or blogger starting out. So, do not be discouraged by a lack of other people reading your writing; write for no one but yourself.

Second, you cannot compare yourself to other writers. Other writers may be talented but you are talented in your own way as well. Such as fingerprintseach author has their own individual perspective and niche in the writing world. So, be yourself; find your own voice and style, then improve on it.

Lastly, I believe you should always be the first person who believes in your characters, in your poems, in all your writing. This advice, I often give myself, and is a lesson I’m still trying to learn.


 

Carlie Jean UnSplash Tea
Credit: Carli Jeen via UnSplash

“[Y]ou cannot compare yourself to other writers. Other writers maybe talented but you are talented in your own way as well. Such as fingerprints, each author has their own individual perspective and niche in the writing world. So, be yourself; find your own voice and style, then improve on it.” – Rosema Gonzales 


10. Do You Have Anything About Yourself You’d Like to Share With Fellow Writers? 

Honestly, I’ve only just found my true writer-self. I think this year is the first, I’ve finally embraced creative writing. My focus before this year, was on writing straight news, real-life nonfiction, becoming a genuine journalist. Now, I am loving what I’ve been discovering about myself through creative writing.

As well, it would not be possible for me to have had such personal growth through writing if I did not have a great bunch of supportive and loving writers in the blogging community on WordPress. I would like to highlight the need for a friendly, honest, and interactive writing community.


11. Any Advice for Other Writers or Bloggers Starting Out? 

Bloggers and writers (online and in general), need to be kind enough to read the work of the writers who read your own posts. Let’s be supportive enough to correct grammar mistakes or provide tips on how a writer can improve on his or her work. Leave thoughtful comments on other bloggers and writers posts.

I know life happens and we do not always have a lot of time. But if we have the time and make the time, we need to somehow harness the power of our words to encourage our fellow writersHigh praises are not always needed, you can also give constructive criticism or disagree with what another writer wrote. What’s important is to let writers know how their work affects youhow you feel about their work.This is helpful, to all writers.

Writers should be the first to realize completely, the power of their words. I hope we can agree to use words to create an encouraging community. Let’s not underestimate the power of our comments. Comments on a writer’s work can change livesI’m proof and I can testify to the truth of comments changing my own life and writing.


“I know life happens and we do not always have a lot of time. But if we have the time and make the time, we need to somehow harness the power of our words to encourage our fellow writers. High praises are not always needed, you can also give constructive criticism or disagree with what another writer wrote.” – Rosema Gonzales


11. Please Share With Us Some Pieces Of Your Fiction And Poetry:

“Writer’s Note”

by

Rosema Gonzales

*****

Guilia Bertelli UnSplash - Notes Rosema
Credit: Giulia Bertelli via Unsplash

*****

No one,
nothing,
can take
my words
away
from me.

Break me,
confine me,
curse me,
abandon me,
my lines will bleed more
surely.

©2016 Rosemawrites@A Reading Writer. All Rights Reserved.


12. Here are some more recent Blog Posts from Rosema: 


Thanks so much Rosema for filling out interview questions and writing them with your heart. It always comes through in your work, fiction, poetry, or talking about your favorite books. I’m encouraged you will make wonderful strides in creative writing and in your career aspirations.


“Dreams are always possible, sometimes we only have to believe they can be a possibility!” – A.E. 


Once again, here is the link to Rosema’s blogA Reading WriterMany thanks for reading along. If you would like to be interviewed as a blogger, poet, writer, or blogger or a cause,  please let me know. You can reach out to me through my Contact Page.


©Mandibelle16. (2017) All Rights Reserved.

Interview with Writer, Blogger, and Author JoAnne Macco #amwriting #interview #nonfiction

Good Morning, and welcome to another writer and or blogger interview. I’m excited to share with you an interview with a newly published author, JoAnne Macco. I think you’ll love her blog and her book as much as I do. As per usual, this interview will also be featured on my blog Mandibelle16.

JoAnne’s blog site is JoAnne of the Forest:  Anything is Possible with Faith, Hope, and Perseverance. 


JoAnne Silvia Picture
Credit: JoAnne Macco

1. JoAnne, Please Tell Us About Yourself? 

On WordPress, I’m best known as JoAnna of the Forest and I live in North Carolina on the east coast of the U.S.

In January, I took a leap of faith and retired from a 30-year career as a substance abuse counselor to spend more time writing and painting angels. My goal is to provide hope through my blog, and my book, Trust the Timing, A Memoir of Finding Love Again.

My long-term goals are to continue to develop my storytelling skills, to write a novel based on my parents, and to travel more. As a military kid, my family moved around a great deal.

I longed to settle in one place, so I’ve stayed near the Carolina coast for most of my adult life. It’s comfortable here, most of the year, although, summers can become hot and humid. It helps that my little urban cottage is 15 minutes from the ocean and surrounded by trees that provide a lot of shade.


2. When Did you Begin Writing and Blogging? For What Reason and What Does Writing Mean To You? 

I wrote poems and songs in high school and I’ve journaled, off and on, for most of my life. Writing has always been therapeutic for me, which is probably why I wrote more when I approached menopause as a single mom with a 13-year-old daughter.

Writing helped me find perspective and meaning during those rollercoaster years. When I wrote my book in 2012, someone told me I needed to blog as well. Blogging has broadened my world tremendously and I’m thankful to be part of this supportive community on WordPress. I believe that when we all share our experience, thoughts, and feelings, we discover that we have more in common than we might have realized.


“In January, I took a leap of faith and retired from a 30-year career as a substance abuse counselor to spend more time writing and painting angels. My goal is to provide hope through my blog, “Anything is Possible,” and my book, Trust the Timing, A Memoir of Finding Love Again.” – JoAnne Macco 


3. Where Do You Find Your Inspiration and Motivation to Write and Blog? Why Is Writing Significant to You? 

I’ve learned a lot in my 60 years of life and I’m still learning a ton. I hope to share my experience and give people hope that even when your world seems to be falling apart, things are going to work out if you hang in there and work on you. Plus, writing helps me organize my thoughts and process my feelings. It helps me explore what I want to understand better about myself and the world.


4. Do You Have Particular Writing and/or Blogging Habits? What Do You Enjoy Most About Writing? 

Since I’m a night owl, my natural tendency is to write more in the afternoon and evening. But when I was working on my book, I found I had to write in the morning to keep from being distracted and staying up too late.

I’d force myself write in the morning for at least two hours before looking at any social media or email. Then, after checking those, I’d return to writing a couple of more hours in the afternoon.

I loved those long stretches of working on my book and becoming absorbed in the process. I look forward to doing that again with my next book. For now, I’m writing most of my blog posts at night.


“I hope to share my experience and give people hope that even when your world seems to be falling apart, things are going to work out if you hang in there and work on you. Plus, writing helps me organize my thoughts and process my feelings.” – JoAnne Macco 


5. What Are Your Most Current Writing Projects with Your Blog and Outside of Your Blog?

On my blog, I’m searching for positive and inspiring experiences to share with others, whether these experiences are global, local, or personal stories about overcoming challenges or about meaningful coincidences.

I want to engage readers about relationship issues and personal growth topics that come up a lot in Trust the Timing, my book on Amazon.com. Outside of blogging, I’m beginning to research and collect materials for future books I want to write.


6. Have You Published Your First Book? Do You Plan To Publish More in the Future?

I’ve just published my first book, Trust the Timing, A Memoir of Finding Love Again which is told from the alternating perspectives of two high school sweethearts. It became available on Amazon.com in July 2017.

As well, I’m planning to write and publish at least two more books, one about Doodle, the problem step-dog (who makes an appearance in my first book). Also, I’m writing a novel based on the lives of my extraordinary parents. At some time, I would also like to publish a book of poetry.


“On my blog, I’m searching for positive and inspiring experiences to share with others, whether these experiences are global, local, or personal, stories about overcoming challenges and about meaningful coincidences.’ – JoAnne Macco


Trust the Timing: A Memoir of Finding Love Again

by

JoAnne Macco

(Available for Purchase one Amazon.com)

*****

Book Cover JoAnne Macco Amazon.com
Credit: JoAnne Macco (Amazon.com)

*****


7. Can You Briefly Describe Your Writing Process? Did You Self-Publish or Go Through and Agent or Publishing Company? 

When I first started writing, I edited too much as I went along. Now, I think about a story or blog post in my head for a while first. When it comes to the writing, I’ve learned that a stream-of-consciousness style, without editing, makes my writing more interesting and fun.

I try to draft a chapter or a blog post without editing as if I’m talking to a friend. Then I’ll go back and edit the chapter or post later. Although, I don’t know if I’d want to write an another entire book like that. As I mentioned earlier, it’s better if I write before I peruse social media. I have to keep reminding myself of that!

Moreover, after considerable research and weighing the pros and cons, I decided to self-publish with Create Space because I enjoyed the control it provided me. I think my next book maybe done with a small publishing company.


“When I first started writing, I edited too much as I went along. Now, I think about a story or blog post in my head for a while first. When it comes to the writing, I’ve learned that a stream of consciousness style, without editing, makes my writing more interesting and fun.” – JoAnne Macco 


8. Do You Prefer Certain Areas of Writing or Reading Genres? 

In college, I took journalism and technical writing and my previous career required a lot of factual reporting and clinical notes. As a result, when I began writing my book I had a strong nonfiction framework. Also, I’ve enjoyed learning more about creative nonfiction over the past five years, working on my memoir.

Additionally, I’ve always been talented at making up stories in my head and I’m looking forward to writing more fiction. Also, my reading habits lean towards inspirational nonfiction, by authors like Anne Lamott and Elizabeth Gilbert, with an occasional sci-fi novel thrown in for fun.


9. Do You Have Any Helpful Advice for Other Bloggers and Writers Starting Out? 

I think I started writing and blogging being too serious. Maybe it was my journalism and technical writing background? I thought I knew how to write, but creative writing is an entirely different process than what I was used to writing. 

To begin, I took online classes and engaged with supportive critique groups. I learned that it’s vital to be conscientious and caring but not to forget to have fun when you’re writing. Also, I’ve learned not to write blog posts that are too long as five hundred words are plenty (unless of course, you’re doing an interview). Moreover, I’ve learned to use photographs in every blog post I publish. 

My writing experience outside of blogging is primarily with my memoir. What I’ve learned from that is to write from your heart. Don’t be afraid to delve into those feelings if you’re in a stable place emotionally. It can be difficult and you’ll probably need to take breaks. I’m sure writing fiction can bring up emotional baggage too. If you’re not ready for that, write for fun. Write poetry to yourself or write in a journal.

You can also keep a notebook handy for ideas that pop-up in your head so you can jot them down and allow these ideas to flow and transform into some kind of writing later on.


“I’m sure writing fiction can bring up baggage, too. If you’re not ready for that yet, just write for fun. Write poetry to yourself. Keep a journal. Keep a notebook handy for ideas that” – JoAnne Macco


Writing Notebook Thought Catalogue UnSplash
Credit: Thought Catalogue via UnSplash

10. Is There Anything Else You Would Like to Share About Yourself or Your Writing? 

In my short biography, I describe myself as an open-minded, tree-hugging Christian. Like Madeleine L’Engle, I don’t consider myself a “Christian writer” but a writer who happens to be a Christian. I like to explore spirituality and connections between things that don’t seem to be connected.


11. Just for Fun. What Are Your Top Three Favorite Blogs? What Do You Enjoy About Them? 

It’s so difficult to name only three! I could easily name 10 favorites or more! But here it goes:

  • Sacred Touches –  Natalie Scarberry always has something to comfort or inspire me with vibrant colors and natural delights.
  • SmileCalm Home – David’s gentle, loving wisdom comes through in every post and makes me smile deep down in my heart.
  • Behind the White Coat – “Behind the White Coat” is written by a smart doctor with a big heart. Her posts can be informative or entertaining, hilarious or heartbreaking. Her honesty makes me feel like I am not alone.

“In my short biography, I describe myself as an open-minded, tree-hugging Christian. Like Madeleine L’Engle, I don’t consider myself a “Christian writer” but a writer who happens to be a Christian. I like to explore spirituality and connections between things that don’t seem to be connected.” – JoAnne Macco 


Jo Anne Silvia Book Cover 2
Credit: Provided by JoAnne Macco 

12. Please Share With Us Some Of Your Blog Writing. 

“If We Lose Electricity” 

By

JoAnne Macco

*****

JoAnne Macco
Credit: JoAnne Macco – http://www.joanneoftheforest.wordpress.com

*****

If we lose electricity

in the storm,

We will still have power.

We have the power

To check on our neighbors,

To ask for help,

To move to higher ground.

The power to tell stories,

To laugh,

To sing lullabies.

The power to write a poem,

To mend what’s torn,

To read by candlelight.

The power to hope and pray,

To reminisce,

To hold hands in the dark.

The power to clear a path,

To rise from ash,

 and rebuild.

_____________________________

When we say we’ve lost power, it minimizes the power we still have. If we lose electricity, let’s say we lost electricity. We still have power, at least over our thoughts, words, and actions.

I send prayers for safety and comfort to all those in the path of the storm.

13. Here are Some More Blog Links to JoAnne’s Writing:


Thank you so much to JoAnne for her patience with this interview. I loved learning about her writing and her background as a writer. I also think it’s neat how she is, particularly, a nonfiction writer. I also loved her quote about being a Christian writer who doesn’t necessarily, do Christian writing.

If you’re a blogger or writer, or someone who blogs about a cause, please feel to contact me if you would like to be interviewed. My contact page is HERE. See you when I see you!


©Mandibelle16. (2017) All Rights Reserved.

 

 

‘Rewind Interview’ With Poet, Writer, and Blogger Ryan Stone #amwriting #interview #nonfiction

Welcome to another ‘Rewind Interview =” in my now weekly interview series. Ryan is a talented Australian poet, extremely amazing, so I’m excited to reshare his interview with you both on my own blog Mandibelle16.  

Originally, I was doing this as a bi-weekly feature, only on my own blog. So in order to do this as a weekly feature on both my blog and on the Cafe, I’m going to be sharing some ‘Rewind interviews” as I think these writers are equally due recognition on both sites. Just to mention, since this is a ‘Rewind Interview’ some of the info might not be current.

Today, I’m excited and pleased to share with you the talented writer, poet, and blogger Ryan Stone of ‘Days of Stone’. Please visit the link provided to read more about Ryan and read his superb poetry.


Ryan Stone Image
Ryan Stone

1. Please Tell Us About Yourself? 

The blood of the Irish runs deep in my veins but I’m an Australian born and bred. I was raised in a ‘man’s land’ of karate, fast motorbikesheavy metal guitars, and football with Aussie rules.

My love of reading and writing was not readily accepted. Instead, I was forced to indulge my interests under my bed covers by torchlight. But the poets Seamus Heaney, Kenneth SlessorWalt Whitman, and Maya Angelou  — all have a way of asserting themselves in my writing.

Although I have no real love of uniforms, I’ve worn a few in my life so far: the combat fatigues of a soldier in the field and driving a battle tank; the torn black denim of a metal guitarist; and the turnout gear of a firefighter. I’ve been a rank-and-file cop, a detective, and a member of a plainclothes special duties team. When all the uniforms are stripped off, I like to think it is the writer who remains.

I have no formal credentials, only an observer’s eye and an insatiable appetite for books. I’m rough around the edges, but the right turn of phrase will stop me dead in my tracks every time. I love MetallicaTed Kooser, and with equal passion, my closest friend in the world, my German Shepherd (don’t tell my wife).


 “When all the uniforms are stripped off, I like to think it is the writer who remains . . . the right turn of a phrase will stop me dead in my tracks every time.” – Ryan Stone 


 2.  When Did You Begin Writing and Blogging?

The first time I considered my writing to be writing, was towards the end of high school. I was blessed with an incredibly passionate English teacher who managed to channel a teenage boy’s angst and anger into something less destructive. When one of my poems earned me a kiss from a pretty girl I had a crush on, I knew writing was something I’d stick with.

I’ve never been much of a social media fan. But I reached a point where I became sick of waiting several months for editors to respond to my poetry submissions; I turned instead to WordPress. Along with all the great writing and posts, I’m able to read from other writers.

However, I’ve developed a wonderful, supportive group of friends, and readers, who offer feedback and advice in a much shorter time frame than editors. While I still submit to poetry journals, my year of blogging has given me a huge amount of enjoyment and satisfaction.


 3. What Does Poetry Mean To You? Why Do You Write?

To borrow from my favorite quote by Anton Chekhov: Poetry isn’t being told the moon is shining – for me, it is being shown the glint of light on broken glass.

I love the way a poem can capture more than a photograph, can carry an image or emotion over time and space, and let me experience someone else’s worldview for a moment. I also like the way reading one of my own poems years after it was written can transport me back to a previous ‘headspace,’ for a moment.


” . . .Poetry isn’t being told the moon is shining – for me, it is being shown the glint of light on broken glass.” – Ryan Stone (borrowing from Anton Chekhov)


4. Where Do You Find Your Inspiration and Motivation To Write?

Nearly all of my poetry begins while I’m running with my dog through the rain forest beside my house. Usually, a thought, a memory, or an observation takes root and nags at me until I jot it down. Sometimes, an unusual word or phrase will catch me the same way.

My dog has developed his very own here we go again’ face which he pulls each time I pause during a run so I can tap out a note or two on my phone.


 5. Do You Find There Is a Time of Day You Most Like To Write?

Predominantly, I write at night, when my boys are asleep, and the house is quiet. I am frequently awake into the small hours of the morning and find my 2:00 am mind is quite adept at slipping out of the shackles my daytime mind imposes. During these hours, I can most effectively explore and develop the notes I jot down during the day.


Writing Night Ryan Stone
Credit: Andrew Neel via UnSplash 

” I am frequently awake in the small hours of the morning and find my 2:00 am mind is quite adept at slipping out of the shackles my daytime mind imposes.” – Ryan  Stone


6. What Are Your Most Current Writing Projects? 

I have two fantasy novels I’m working on at present. One is about a princess who becomes a pirate queen after her parents are murdered, the other is about an orphan boy who becomes a magician and later, a king.

Both novels began as short stories which expanded and grew during a couple of National Novel Writing Months (NaNoWriMo).  As well, both novels are over hundred-thousand words and in need of serious revision. As with everything, time is a killer.

Poetry wise, I’m writing a chapbook with one of my closest internet mates (Ajay) who lives in India. It is loosely based on flowers and cultural differences. I’m currently editing a collection of my Senryu (5-7-5) poems, with the intention of self-publishing a small e-book of one-hundred Senryu poems, in the next few months, unless a publisher comes along sooner.


 7. Have You Published Any Writing or Are You Planning To Publish Works Of Writing In The Future?
 

I’m fortunate enough to have had many poems published in a number of online journalsprint anthologies, and poetry magazines. I never thought anyone other than my mum would enjoy my writing and rarely submitted my writing anywhere until recently.

A few years ago, I wrote a poem called “Unburied Hatchet,” which I thought had a chance of being published, so I submitted it to a couple of places and was rejected each time. On a whim, I sent it into the monthly competition in Writers’ Forum Magazine (a magazine in the UK to which I subscribe).

I was blown away when my poem won first prize and £100 (quite a lot of money with the Australian exchange rate being what it is). That first win gave my confidence a much-needed boost and I’ve been submitting ever since.


“I wrote a poem called “Unburied Hatchet” . . .I sent it into the monthly competition in Writers’ Forum Magazine . . .and was blown away when it won first prize and £100.” – Ryan Stone


8. Can You Briefly Describe The Process You Went Through To Publish or Are Going Through To Have Your Writing Published?

All my publishing to date has been by submission, so I’ll talk about publishing by submission. Whether it’s a print journal, online review, magazine, blog, or something else, the rules are always the same:

  • Read the publication first, to gain an idea of what style of writing they publish. While it doesn’t hurt to offer something fresh, I usually have a fair idea of an editor’s likes and dislikes before I submit.
  •  Read and re-read the submission guidelines before you hit sendAn improperly worded subject line can be enough for an editor to discount the submission without even reading the poem. Some publications request everything in the body of an email, others prefer attachments. Decent editors are inundated with submissions which meet their specific requirements and most, won’t waste their time with substandard submissions.
  • Take rejections gracefully. Analyze any critiques subjectively and apply critiques if you think they are warranted. BUT DON’T GIVE UP – submit, submit, submit. There are a million homes for poems out there and because a poem isn’t right for one editor or magazine certainly doesn’t mean it won’t be a prize winner for another editor or magazine. While I’m realistic about my own writing, I generally look at rejections as a case of a bad fitnot a bad poem.

 9. What Is Your Writing Process Like?

Almost exclusively, my writing begins as a note or two on my iPhone (often while I’m running) and later develops on my iPad. My writing environment is incredibly vital to me and the Mac/iPad writing program — Ulysses — puts me in an excellent creative ‘headspace.’ I tend to write the first draft quickly once idea forms and then I’ll put it aside for a week or two, before returning and revising a poem over and over and over…

I am incredibly fortunate to have found a brilliant first reader. She’s an amazingly talented poet in her own right as well as possessing editing skills second to none. For some reason, I’ve yet to understand, she seems to enjoy my writing and conversation and has nurtured and developed my poetry to no end. My first reader’s input is a huge part of my process in developing a poem from initial idea to finished piece.


“I tend to write a first draft quickly once an idea forms and then I’ll put it aside for a week or two, before returning and revising a poem over and over and over . . .” – Ryan Stone


10. Do You Prefer Certain areas of Writing or Reading Styles or Genres?
 

When I’m reading a novel, it is usually fantasy and almost always a seriesStephen King’s Dark Tower collection is a favorite, as are Game of ThronesMagicianThe BelgariadLord of the Rings, and Bernard Cornwell’s Arthurian books.

I also play a great deal of electric guitar which draws me to music biographies as well, anything rock or metal is fair game. Additionally, I love short story collections: Italo Calvino takes first prize there, and I read as much modern poetry as I can get my hands on.

Originally, my love of poetry was nurtured by Maya AngelouKenneth SlessorJim Morrison (The Doors), and Jewel Kilcher. When I first discovered Ted Kooser a few years ago, my own poetry made a huge leap.

Kooser’s book, The Poetry Home Repair Manual, was full of ‘Aha!’ moments for me. Most recently, I’ve lost myself in the brilliant Buddy Wakefield and Richard Hugo’s: The Triggering Town.


 11. Do You Have Any Helpful Advice For Other Writers?

I’m not really big on dishing out advice, as everyone writes uniquely. What works for one person, won’t always help another person; but I can certainly share what works for me.

  • The important thing is to write, write, write and keep writing. It doesn’t have to be good. I have loads of writing which will probably never see the light of day; however, once the first jumble is out of my head, the writing that follows is much better.
  •  I don’t edit my first draft as I write. I write it all down and worry about cleaning it up later. If I’m only editing a word or two, then I’ll delete and replace. If I’m editing a whole line or large section, I cut and paste in a new version – v1, v2, v3, (etc .) and keep each version in the same document. I find it’s much easier to revise without the fear of losing words or ideas I may want to later reinstate.
  •  Once I’m happy with a version of my work, I put it aside for a few days and return to it later with ‘fresh eyes.’ I find it much easier to spot weak pointssticky spotsdoubled up words, bad rhythm, (etc.) when I’m reading it fresh.
  • The poem is more important than the truth. When I’m writing a poem based on an actual event, I find it easy to place value on a thing because its memory is significant to me. Often, I don’t want to let the thing go from the poem. This can become a weak point as the particular thing doesn’t make the poem better and doesn’t hold the same value for the reader. Once I let the poem dictate what to keep and what to cut, rather than trying to stay one-hundred-percent true to my memory, my poetry comes together far tighter.

Once I let the poem dictate what to keep and what to cut, rather than trying to stay one-hundred-percent true to my memory, my poetry comes together far tighter.” – Ryan Stone


12. Is There Anything Else You Would Like The Share With Us Which You Think Is Pertinent To Writing or Yourself?

An honest first reader who will tell me what works and what sucks without worrying about my feelings is worth her weight in gold.


 13. Can You Please Share With Us Few Links Of Your Favourite or Most Loved Pieces?  
*****

“Unburied Hatchet”

by
Ryan Stone
*****
Axe
Credit Markus Spiske via UnSplash
*****

Until I saw those wasted hands,

brittle as chalk, I hadn’t thought

how fast the years make ghosts.

*****

I heard them once called brawler’s paws.

For me, they were always more:

cobras, poised to strike.

*****

But his brawling days are gone now;

I could kill him with a pillow,

if I cared enough to try.

*****

Thin sheets press tightly to a bed

more empty than full, his body broken

like the promises of childhood.

*****

Haunted eyes betray last thoughts

of a dim path, spiraling down.

He hopes to make amends.

*****

“Forgiven?” he croaks,

barely there, as always,

and I’m wishing that I wasn’t.

*****

With the last rays of day as witness,

I turn my back with purpose

and hear the silence roar.

*****

In a late-night bar, I catch my reflection

swimming in a glass of bourbon;

but I’m staring at a ghost.

*****

First published in Writers’ Forum Magazine issue 163, April 2015 – first place


Please Find More Links to Ryan’s Writing Below:


Thank you so much to Ryan Stone for doing an interview for me. I appreciate his time answering the interview questions a great deal. I would love to interview you too. Please let me know if you’re interested in sharing yourself and your writing on my blog. You can reach me on my Contact Page.


©Mandibelle16. (2017) All Rights Reserved.

Interview with Christine Ray Writer, Blogger, Poet, and Barista from the Go Dog Go Cafe #amwriting #interview #nonfiction

Welcome to another Tuesday edition of my interviews series. Today I have another new interview for you, another talented writer, poet, and a Go Do Go Cafe Barista, Christine Ray. 

I hope you love her blog I have found it fascinating. You can check out some of Christine’s wonderful writing on the topics of Poetry, EroticaSpoken Word,  and for you new bloggers out there, B & R Advice for New Bloggers.

Before we go any further, I need to introduce Christine’s blog as a whole, it’s called: Brave and Reckless.


Christine Ray
Credit: Christine Ray

1. Please Tell Us About Yourself, Christine? 

My name is Christine Ray and I’m from Havertown, Pennsylvania (outside of Philadelphia). I blog at Brave and Reckless. I feel as if sometimes I should call myself the ‘accidental blogger!’ I came to the WordPress blog site to make one piece of writing accessible called: What Every Woman Knows.  The piece is based on rape culture, sexual harassment, and sexual trauma and is, sadly, relevant now more than ever.

Writing that one post literally changed my whole life. I rediscovered that I loved writing. I also love to write poetry and I’m thrilled to be part of an active writing community. My blogging goals include continuing to grow and strengthen Whisper and the Roar, the Go Dog Go Café and Blood Into Ink, all projects that are very near and dear to my heart.


2. Do You Have Any Particular Blogging Goals You Want to Accomplish? 

My first goal is to simply improve my writing skills maintain writing as a daily habit.  When I started blogging, the deal I made with myself was simply to write 10 minutes a day. I had the option of writing a new piece from scratch, working on an ongoing project, or editing a piece of writing.

The idea was that I develop discipline and prioritize my writing.  I am involved with a lot of other collaborative blogs. And sometimes my own personal writing keeps moving further down the priority list than it should be moving.

Additionally, I’m registered for a course about writing child and young adult literature in the Fall that I’m really excited about.  The thought of a low-residency program to earn a Masters in Fine Arts has crossed my mind a time or two (or maybe ten!!).


“My first goal is to simply improve my writing skills maintain writing as a daily habit.  When I started blogging, the deal I made with myself was simply to write 10 minutes a day. I had the option of writing a new piece from scratch, working on an ongoing project, or editing a piece of writing.” – Christine Ray


3. When Did You Begin Writing or Blogging and Why? What Does Writing Mean to You? 

I honestly can’t remember how old I was when I began writing but I was definitely scrawling short stories into dog-eared notebooks in middle school. As well, I started writing poetry as a teenager.  I was also the editor of my high school newspaper and my senior yearbook.

Nevertheless, I have taken long breaks from writing when life has become busy but it has always been something I come back to when I’m in transition. I turned fifty-years-old in 2016 which was a major life reassessment period for me. Writing became a primary method for me to work through my feelings. 

Finding my voice again as a writer has been really powerful, though to be honest, I think other people took me seriously as a writer long before I did.  There were most definitely several months where I transitioned from when I thought about myself as a middle-aged woman (who happened to write), to identifying myself as a writer and a poet, being who I am today.

Writing has become, and honest, always has been an essential part of my identity. As well, began my blog: Brave and Reckless on October 8, 2016.


4. Where do you Find Your Inspiration and Motivation to Continue Writing? Why is it Significant for you to Continue Writing and Blogging? 

I find inspiration everywhere. Music is a big part of my writing process and song lyrics frequently inspire my work but I’ve also been inspired by movies (Paterson is amazing); TV (you’d be amazed how much poetry there is in American Gods); beer menus, conversations with other people, and currently, a collaboration with Aurora Phoenix inspires and motivates me. The collaboration began in the comments section in one of my blog posts.

This sounds silly when I say it out loud, but when I started this particular blog in October, I had no idea that I had anything to say! The vast majority of my writing is inspired by exactly what is going on in my emotional life, in the moment. Sometimes I approach writing about those things obliquely, but often what you see is a direct reflection of my experiences during the day.

One of the most transformative experiences of blogging for me was realizing that my writing resonates with other people. Every time someone writes to me and tells me that I captured exactly what they were feeling, but couldn’t articulate it, is an incentive for me to keep up with my writing.  

Every time someone writes to thank me for writing openly about depression, suicide, PTSD, or trauma, it is incentive to keep writing.  Feeling like I can still make a positive impact keeps me writing and blogging. I feel that I can make a positive impact on other people by continuing to write and blog because it helps other people, not only myself. 


“Every time someone writes to thank me for writing openly about depression, suicide, PTSD, or trauma, it is incentive to keep writing.  Feeling like I can still make a positive impact keeps me writing and blogging. I feel that I can make a positive impact on other people by continuing to write and blog because it helps other people, not only myself.” – Christine Ray 


Rawpixel.com UnSplash
Credit: Rawpixel.com via UnSplash

5. Do you have any Particular Writing or Blogging Habits? What do you Enjoy Most About Writing? Is there a Time of Day you Prefer to Write?

I have a very busy life and have discovered that the only way to fit writing and blogging into my life is to awake at 4:00 a.m. From 4:00 a.m to 6: 00 a.m. I write, I answer blog related comments and emails, I record ‘Spoken Word’ versions of my writing, and see to editorial duties.

As well, I have been known to write whole pieces in the Google Docs app on my phone during my commute on the bus or train.I also eat lunch at my desk, at work, and try to catch up on reading other people’s blogs.  At times, I’m still awake at 10:00 p.m. doing blog related activities and tending to my own writing. I must admit that I’m tired right now. However,  I expect things to calm down a bit over the upcoming summer months.


6. Can you Tell us About your Most Current Writing Projects on your Blog or Outside of it? 

In addition to writing and publishing daily, I’ve been running various writing challenges on my blog.  This week I challenged readers to write about a life experience using ten objects and will be publishing my favorites on my ‘Brave and Reckless’ blog. I’ve already committed to two Writing Prompt Challenges and have my third occurring now using the prompt: “I Am More Than Breath and Bones.”

I do publish some of my work, the pieces I call “the softer side of Christine”—on Poetry Corner. I’m also happily involved as a Barista at the Go Dog Go Café.  It’s been fun to put the site together and to work with a  lovely cadre of writers, some of whom I’ve met and some of whom are new to me. The Cafe has a wonderful community vibe and brings out the best in writers.

My most recent project was launching Blood Into Ink  (with a group of writers from WordPress and off of it).’Blood Into Ink’ has a safe and respectful environment for stories of survival to be told. It gives a home for stories from those who have lived through sexual abuse, rape, physical abuse, emotional abuse, child neglect, domestic violence, and other forms of trauma. The focus of the blog is to discover our ‘warrior voices’ by telling our truths. 

It is open to men and women and already features some pretty fierce writing.  I am proud of this project and hope that it encourages many writers to tell their stories and aids them in receiving the support and respect they deserve for their stories of survival and dealing with them after the fact.

Also, I’m working on a project called Whisper and the Roar, a feminist literary collective site. I’m still an author for Whisper and the Roar. All of the writers on this site are feminist but the content is not overtly feminist. I piece I wrote for this particular site is called “Ode to a Black Eye.” Such as many of my pieces, this post is autobiographical (my childhood friend Wendy had the black eye and we finally talked about the incident when we reconnected on Facebook.


“Blood Into Ink’ has a safe and respectful environment for stories of survival to be told. It gives a home for stories from those who have lived through sexual abuse, rape, physical abuse, emotional abuse, child neglect, domestic violence, and other forms of trauma. The focus of the blog is to discover our ‘warrior voices’ by telling our truths.” – Christine Ray


7. Have you Published any Writing or Poetry outside of your Blog? If not do you plan to in the Future? 

I recently had a couple of pieces of poetry published in Felan Magazine which has lit a fire under me to publish more writing into print. Felan centers its issues around a particular feeling so it was easy to pull my best pieces about Anger (Issue 10) and Love (Issue 11). 


8. Can you Briefly Describe to us Your Writing Process? Are there Certain Genres of Writing and Reading You Prefer? 

The vast majority of my writing happens on my PC in the early morning hours with music playing in the background. Some of my work happens on my phone on the train.  Some it is sprawled into notebooks until I have time to type it up. I’ve been known to write a poem or two during long and dull meetings at work (hopefully none of my co-workers are reading this).

Poetry is definitely my primary form of written expression but I do write some prose, some short fiction, and essays. As a reader, I tend to joke that I will read the back of a cereal box if nothing else is handy! I’m obsessed with Jane Austen (I’ve got a Jane Austen quote as a tattoo) and I’ve read the Harry Potter series a ridiculous amount of times.  I love psychological British mysteries,  Young Adult literature, as well as, science fiction, and fantasy. All in all, I’m a serious book nerd!


“Poetry is definitely my primary form of written expression but I do write some prose, some short fiction, and essays. As a reader, I tend to joke that I will read the back of a cereal box if nothing else is handy!” – Christine Ray


Nicole Jones UnSplash
Credit: Nicole Jones via UnSplash

9. Do you have any Wisdom for Other Bloggers and Writers?

Make writing a daily habit even if you can only dedicate ten minutes a day. Write what you like to read! Find writers whose work you like and follow them too! Check out those who follow your blog—you may like their blog too!

Also, don’t obsess about numbers. Fifteen extremely engaged followers are more rewarding than two-hundred disengaged writers. Be brave and leave thoughtful comments on other people’s writing. I have picked up a lot of followers this way. Most vitally, I have made excellent friends by commenting on the writing/blogs of other people. 

In addition, I recommend subscribing and responding to the Daily Post. I want everyone who writes and/or blog to know that their voice matters and their truths matter too. Don’t worry about your audience, worry about what you need to say.

There are twelve million people on WordPress—your people (your followers) are out there. You may need to look for them, but there is someone out there who wants to read what you have to say.


10. Is there Anything Else You Want to Share, something you think is Pertinent to Writing or Yourself? 

One crazy thing that happened to me in May is that one of my pieces was chosen for featuring as WordPress Discover blog called: Brave and Reckless Advice for New Bloggers – Part One.  I went from 164 views on May 1st to 2,439 views on May 2nd. It was thrilling and terrifying all at the same time!

Things have calmed down a little but I spent three days replying to all the comments I received! I still don’t know how the WordPress editors found me or that piece. However, I try to use my newfound readership for good and give lots of other really good writers exposure on Brave and Reckless (I feel like I should be quoting Spiderman or something here)!


“Make writing a daily habit even if you can only dedicate ten minutes a day. Write what you like to read! Find writers whose work you like and follow them too! Check out those who follow your blog—you may like their blog too!” – Christine Ray


11. For fun, do you Have Any Especially Favorite Bloggers that you Love to Follow? 

There are so many blogs that I love! My big writing crushes are:

  • The Feathered Sleep — Candice Louisa Daquin’s writing is elegant, exquisite, and emotionally resonant.
  • A Journal for Damned Lovers — Nicholas is gritty and dark and never glamorizes life, love or himself.  He takes you on journeys into the human psyche that you didn’t even know you wanted to go one. He appeals to my darkness and I want to grow up and write like SK someday!
  • The Lithium Chronicles –Nicole Lyons and the other poets she highlights on her site are badass warriors! There is an electricity to Nicole’s work, a buzz that gets under my skin, and into my blood. Some of her writing is similar to what could be pulled from own diaries.
  • Additionally, all of the writers at the collectives I work with are amazing and deserving of a read.

12. Can You Please Share with us a few of Your Favorite Pieces from your Blogging? 

Poet’s Love Song

by

Christine Ray

*****

Christine Ray = MM photo
Credit: From Christine’s Ray’s Blog ‘Brave and Reckless” for this post.

*****

I see you

Yes, you poet

You who lives

Behind the misty veil

Dwelling in the border

Between this world

And a hundred other

Shadow worlds

*****

see you

*****

see those ink-stained

Fingers

That hold your pen

Like a lover

That fly across the keyboard

In a torrent

Before stopping, hesitating

Waiting

For the flow of words to resume

*****

see the permanent rings

Countless cups of coffee

Have left on your writing table

The chip in your favorite mug

I see the frayed fabric

On your cuffs

Of your favorite writing shirt

The fabric worn thin at your elbows

*****

see those mesmerizing eyes

That seem to simultaneously

Be looking through me

Straight into my soul

While studying the cosmos

And gazing inward

All at the same time

see the contradictions you are

Your eyes are haunting

Full of knowing

Full of pain

Full of longing

*****

see the dark smudges

Under your otherworldly eyes

Reminders that poets

Are night dwellers

Insomniacs

Who haunt the still hours

Who understand the depth

The texture of darkness

Who can capture the qualities

The acoustics of silence

*****

see the way

That words spill out of

Your sensuous mouth

Like pearls, like diamonds

Beautiful treasures

Embedded with your tears

Your sweat, your blood

*****

Yes poet

see you

You who makes me fall

In love with language

Over and over

Whose words

Stab me in the heart

Punch me in the gut

Jangle my nerves

Bathe me in your radiance

Soothe my weary soul

Take me on a journey

I didn’t even know

I wanted to go on

*****

And you are beautiful

*****

© 2017 Christine Elizabeth Ray – All rights Reserved



Thank you so much to Christine Ray for being so detailed and open sharing her writing and poetry with us on my blog and on the Go Do Go Cafe. If you would like to be featured as a writer, blogger, or person who is blogging/writing about a cause please reach out to me through my contact page. Next week`s interview will be a ‘Rewind Interview,’ a blogger I’ve interviewed in the past.


©Mandibelle16. (2017). All Rights Reserved.

Ok Rewind Interview: Jacqueline Oby-Ikocha, Writer, Blogger, Poet #amwriting #interview #nonfiction

Good morning! Welcome to my  “Rewind Interview” with Jacqueline Oby – Ikocha of A Cooking Pot and Twisted Tales.

Jacqueline was my first interview ever and a successful one. She is an amazing writer and blogger. If you haven’t read her poetry book yet, please see below.  Also check out her amazing vlog on YouTube! 

This same interview will also post on my site, Mandibelle16 on my personal blog.  Make sure to visit the Cafe and my blog and keep up with my weekly Tuesday Interviews and other writing 🙂 

Every second week I do a ‘Rewind Interview,’ someone I’ve interviewed in the past. This week should be an interview of a Barista at the Cafe, but I have been too busy with projects to put an interview together. Please expect a new interview next week!


Jacqueline 3
Jacqueline Oby – Ikocha

“Personality wise, I would describe myself as a simple, deep-thinking, friendly, inquisitive, and vivacious human with multiple layers which baffle me at certain times” – Jacqueline Oby- Ikocha


1. Please Tell Us About Yourself.

My name is Jacqueline Oby-Ikocha. I’m a Nigerian-born, Dubai (UAE) resident, of Igbo heritage. The Igbo’s are a hardworking, industrious, nomadic and proud tribe of Nigeria whom can be found in almost every nook and cranny of the world, even in places that you would least expect to find them. We strive to thrive wherever we are found.

Personality wise, I would describe myself as a simpledeep thinkingfriendlyinquisitive and vivacious human with multiple layers that baffle me at certain times.

I’m an ambivert, a people person, an outspoken, and focused woman. I can own up to being a loyal and upright person and you can take my word to the bankHard work doesn’t scare me. I truly believe in encouraging others to be the best that they can be. I’m also a wife, a mother, a writer, a perpetual learner, a life-enthusiast and a die-hard optimist. I don’t believe in the word impossible.


2. When Did You Begin Writing and/or Blogging?

I actually have no conscious date as to when I started scribbling. I use the word scribbling because I would write drama series at a very young age and designate my siblings to roles that I deemed fit. I was both the story writer, the film director, and everything in-between. Sometimes my siblings fell out with me because they weren’t particularly enthused about one role or the other.

However, I consciously started taking my writing seriously and away from the realm of a hobby two years ago. My venture into blogging started on May 6, 2015, as I searched for areas to help harness my writing and opportunities to interact with like-minded people.


“As some people resort to drink or other vices of choice, writing is my vice, which is only possibly matched by reading” – Jacqueline Oby – Ikocha


4. What does writing/poetry mean to you? Why do you write?

I write for vision and clarity. I process things better when I write. I write to share thoughts that I may ordinarily not give voice to. I write to deal with issues that bother me. As some people resort to drink or other vices of choice, writing is my vice, which is only possibly matched by reading. I wouldn’t know how else to be.

My reason for writing is so strong, a lot of times, when I need my husband to understand a point that I’m probably not expressing vocally as well as I should, I write him a letter.

My heart has known peace through my writing. Some of the turbulence I experienced earlier in life have been manageable due to writing. It’s a voice that God gave me. A lot of times my husband, children, and friends marvel at the speed at which my fingers fly across the keyboard even without looking at the letters. Or they marvel at how quickly my pen flies across a journal endlessly.

It’s the way it is for me. While some people say they experience ‘writers block,’ I’m yet to experience the feeling. What I experience is insufficient time in any given day where I’m able to write the words, thoughts that flit through my mind. I have many other responsibilities which have my name written on them.


5. Where do you find your inspiration and motivation to write? Is there a time of day you prefer to write?

I see inspiration in everything. I could see a mustard colored car and a story comes to my mind. It could be the way someone wore their clothes, spoke, smiled,  or didn’t smile. Inspiration just comes. Sometimes I ask God’s Spirit to lead my hands.

I enjoy writing in the wee hours of the morning before my entire household rises, but such opportunity is becoming less. Someday’s I write late into the evening after work and other chores before I knock off to sleep. I normally wake up at 4:00 to 4:30 am and put in an hour either prepping my blog or writing something before I prepare for school runs, work, and the rest of my day.

I’ve learned to write on the goanywhere and anytime, otherwise, I’ll never find enough time during the day to write. My notepad is always ready in my bag and I can tune out if need be and scribble. I scribble all the time. Morning, afternoon, evening, night, sitting, standing, even riding the train or bus.


Jacqueline 2
Jacqueline Obi-Ikocha

6. What Are Your Most Current Writing Projects? Have You Published Or Are You Planning to Publish Any Work?

Presently, I’m working on a collection of stories, two novels, an inspirational book, and another poetry book. I’ve decided to take them one at a time because it was getting crazy. I want to focus on one work, have it finished, and then move on to other projects.

Out of The Silent Breath is my first published poetry book. I’ve done freelance writing in the past, writing content for others, as well as ghostwriting. However, I’ve decided to focus more on my own works. I still freelance when the right briefs come, but I’m planning on having my second book published by the second quarter of this year.

I honestly haven’t gotten around to submitting my works for external publication. It’s a plan in the pipeline, but for some reason, having my writing published in a magazine or otherwise, hasn’t been a driving point for me. Possibly after my second book, my mind will be more attuned to that.


“. . .[T]he joy of having one’s work published, far outweighs the challenges. The hard work involved in self-publishing, shouldn’t deter anyone.” – Jacqueline Oby-Ikocha


7. Can You Briefly Describe The Process You Experienced Publishing Your Work?

To publish in itself is not difficult, yet it isn’t easy either. Being self-published is twice as much the hard work. It includes writing, editing, publishing, marketing, and accounting (etc); however, the joy of having one’s work published, far outweighs the challenges. The hard work involved in self-publishing, shouldn’t deter anyone.

I’ve been writing for a while and sometimes when family or friends read my articles they ask me why I’m waiting to publish them. Getting to the nitty-gritty of choosing the pieces to publish, trying to edit my material, and do all the formatting myself, was where I experienced difficulty.

My days are filled to the brim. I realized that if I had to do everything myself, it would probably take forever. I outsourced the cover production and formatting to a professional. I focused on the writing and marketing; marketing is a big job.

As well, I couldn’t afford professional editing since it doesn’t come cheap, so I sought out beta readers among friends. With that said, I think that having an editor is important, especially when one embarks on writing as a career. Now I am working on a compilation of stories about 40,000 words and also motivational handbook which should hopefully be published in the latter part of this year.

To break my publishing process down:

  • I wrote.
  • Sourced beta readers.
  • Tried to do publishing myself (which took me ages).
  • I then outsourced the book cover, formatting, and uploading to a publishing firm.
  • Now, I’m focusing on marketing.

My poetry book Out of The Silent Breath is 8,660 words of poetry and roughly 82 pages. You can find it on Amazon in Kindle Books here. 


Jacqueline's Poetry Book


7. What is Your Writing Process Like?

I  don’t have a writing process per se. I try to write early in the morning before I get busy with house chores, school issues, and work. Sometimes, it means setting the alarm to wake up at 4:30 am to 5:00 am and work on a story for an hour before my family wake-up.

Throughout the day, I find minutes to center my thoughts and scribble. After dinner when everyone is settled, I blog or write until around 10:00 pm to 10:30 pm, then I retire with the present book I am reading and hopefully, fall asleep within the hour.

I write as the thoughts flow and then edit after. Many times, I find myself rising in the midst of sleep to write something that’s running around in my head.


“My reading and writing is eclectic as my personality.” – Jacqueline Oby- Ikocha


8. Do You Prefer Certain Areas of Writing Styles or Genres?

I’ve found that I’m no longer finicky about genres because having read various genres widely, I have learned information from different scenarios. I would actually refer to myself as a cross-genre writer and readerMy reading and writing is eclectic as my personality. For me, it’s what catches my thoughts of the moment. My writing could be descriptive (mainly for poetry), narrative, or persuasive to sway thoughts.

I always read a myriad of books. My book purchases in a month usually encompass books of non-fiction, fiction, poetry, romance, thriller, adventure, motivational, and self-help (etc). I try to keep it balanced.


9. Do You Have Any Advice to Aid Other Writers?

My advice would be: What is that piece of thought and writing that keeps you up at night? Which makes your inner engine rev in anticipation? Don’t give it up!

Some daysit will be hard and almost impossible to find time to sit down and put pen to paper; sit down anyways and type nonsense. Type as the words flow into your mind without any sequence. Each dayfind time to write. The time doesn’t have to be in one huge block, a lot of us don’t have such leisure. You might find a half an hour of concerted flow far outweighs an hour or two without any flow.

As well, never listen to the naysayers and please go with your heart. Fashion your own writing and leave trying to be the next whoever to someone else. Just be you. When you write from within, the writing flows and is far more compelling than trying to imitate someone else. It can be done because your words count.


10. Please Share With Us Some Of Your Writing:

I have no particular favorite piece of writing and I don’t understand why. I’ll share with you several which people have read and enjoyed. I do hope you find my writing pieces interesting:

“I Live In This Space – Personal”

by Jacquline Obi-Ikochi

*****

*****

This is the face that I live in
She stares me in the eye
each minute of my life

I have learnt to know the woman
beneath this oval-shaped
golden-toned and warm face

Her laughter lines and crinkles around the eyes
say life is too short, don’t take yourself too seriously
make the best of it while you can.

The hidden depths of her eye’s
speak of mystery and message that lurks within
they have known the joy and the sting in life’s sharp tails.

This is the face that I live in.
I wouldn’t know how to live in another face.
for this is mine. Mine alone and IT IS beautiful!

© Jacqueline Oby-Ikocha


Please Find More Links to Jacqueline’s Writing Below:


Thank you so much to Jacqueline for doing an interview for me on my blog. I would love to interview you too. Please let me know if you’re interested in sharing yourself and your writing. You can reach me on my Contact Page.


©Mandibelle16. (2016) All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

Rewind Interview with Gina Gallyot #amwriting #interview #nonfiction #godoggocafe

Good Morning! Welcome to another edition of my interview series. Since I have joined the Go-Dog-Go Writer’s community, I will be showcasing an interview with a wonderful writer every week (instead of bi-weekly).

However, since I do not have the time to put together a full interview each week, every second week will be a ‘Rewind Interview’ showcasing a wonderful writer or blogger from past interviews. You can expect this both on the Go Dog Go Cafe as well as on my own blog  Mandibelle16.

Most of my upcoming interviews for the summer will be baristas from the Go Dog Go Cafe as well as a couple of interviews I had scheduled previously.

Today, I would like to re-introduce you to the talented, caring, strong, and beautiful Gina Gallyot (SingleDust). Gina is also a wonderful hostess or Barista on the Go Dog Go Cafe. You can see her latest post on the cafe here called: Come Sit With Me in the Go Do Go Cafe.

Gina’s personal blog is called: A Life Less Lived: Living On the Equator But Longing For Snow.   

We will be focusing on her personal blogging and writing for this Rewind Interview.


Interview -SingleDust
Credit: Gina Gallyot -SingleDust

1. Please Tell Us About Yourself?

My blog is called “A Life Less Lived” and I use the name “Singledust” as the author of all my blog posts. I live in Malaysia, in a vibrant suburb south of the capital city of Kuala Lumpur. It’s a town packed with malls and teeming with life! It is also a college town and the young demographic we have means lots of lovely cafes and hangout joints where the vibe is always amazing.


2. What is Your Blog About? What Are You Trying to Accomplish?

I started my blog because my daughter asked me to stop scribbling in notebooks and publish all I wanted to say. She set the blog up and I began. In early days the blog was a lot of self-discovery and deciding what my blog was going to be about. I had to figure out what to write about and much personal information I should I share.

I went down a couple of paths, tried doing travel related stories at first, then showcasing foods I liked and places to go eat the different foods in my country, but I wasn’t feeling fulfillment from that kind of writing. I wrote because I needed words to come out of me after suppressing it for so long.

Then I came across Flash Fiction prompts and was hooked. I found I liked writing stories. I had grown up with lots of storytelling after all and thought why not incorporate some of the tales I remembered into new ones I created. So that’s what I did and wrote some poetry on the days the stories seemed more musical. I had never written poetry before this blog so I amazed myself even!

From Flash Fiction challenges, I expanded into longer pieces called “Tales From The Equator,” stories I remembered from my childhood as well as those I told my kids as they were growing up.

All this has provided me with a huge collection of stories and poetry I have rummaged through to eventually another book. My blog is my training ground and preparation. It is an amazing place to read other writers, get feedback, develop new story lines, and network.


“I started the blog because my daughter asked me to stop scribbling in notebooks and publish all I wanted to say. She set the blog up and I began” -Gina Gallyot


3. When Did You Start Writing and Blogging and Why?

I started a year ago in February 2016 after some parts of my life finally got settled and I closed painful chapters of my life for good. In my new life, the writing side of me reawakened as I needed an outlet. When I started the blog it was a place for me to write so I would not forget my journey of self-discovery but after some time I realized that the journey was part of my healing and there was no end in sight.

I will continue my healing journey as long as I live. The process has never come to a screeching halt with magical solutions. Each day has a lesson of its own. And as I wrote I released anger and frustration inside me for so long — things I cannot talk about in whole honesty — writing allowed me to layer stories and fantasies into my writing and in that sense has permitted me to heal and recover, like a journal of my life. My life is stories!


4. How Does Your Writing Help Other People and Give You Meaning? 

Just seeing words on paper (well now on screen) brings me joy and blogging have enabled me to connect with amazing people all around the world I would have never met otherwise. I love being able to read their stories and be able to see that the world is full of people such as me, going through trials and overcoming them through writing and in turn, I hope my stories will help others healing or reaching a new spiritual place.

I affectionately call my stories, “my little lines.” I would humbly like to believe that it also inspires others together with the comments I give on the posts I read.


“I will continue my healing journey as long as I live. The process has never come to a screeching halt with magical solutions. Each day has a lesson of its own.” – Gina Gallyot


5. Where Do You Find Your Inspiration and Motivation? 

My inspiration is the life I have lived, a life less lived; while trying to survive my struggles, never feeling as if I had actually lived. I existed for the next day to start and end, and stories were my refuge. They were places I would go in my mind and create a safe place for myself and my children.

The world around me is also so beautiful in its ordinary splendor. I don’t need the highest mountain or deepest sea, a walk around my neighborhood inspires me with the beautiful life of nature and people. Every single thing on earth has value and has a story of its own. 

Additionally, I’m inspired by the people I meet, strong people carrying heavy burdens in life, broken people standing tall for others to lean on, humble gentle caring souls oblivious of their own sorrow as they comfort others. In short, the human spirit is extremely inspirational and resilient.

Every person also has their own story, but there is the question of who stops to listen when we are all so busy trying to tell our own stories. I try to listen to life happening around me in all forms. It’s important to me to give value to everything and everyone I meet in my short life on earth. It is vital that I never forget people are all connected by invisible threads of endless thoughts and feelings and need to treat each other gently.


6. Do You Have Any Particular Writing Habits? How Does your Blog Fit in With You Are?

I hope my writing has helped inspire people and encourage then to be better than what they think of themselves in low times. I would like to think that my writing (my blog)  is a soft spot to land after all the bad news and horror people read. I would like to be a soft voice and a place people can unmask and be themselves as they read my stories and poetry. I hope they remember it is possible to live life happy and free and know that living a better life is possible at any stage in life.


“I try to listen to life happening around me in all forms. It’s important to me to give value to everything and everyone I meet in my short life on earth. It is vital that I never forget people are all connected by invisible threads of endless thoughts and feelings and need to treat each other gently.” -Gina Gallyot


7. What Are Your Most Current Writing Projects on Your Blog or Otherwise? 

I try to participate in at least five Flash Fiction challenges per week to keep the creativity going. I am beginning to become involved in the poetry community, though I am like the littlest baby there as I never wrote poetry prior to this blog! I am trying to compile all the stories and poetry into categories and maybe publish them in a few of years. Every writer’s dream right?!

I have two recent poetry submissions published on SpillWords. Here are the links and publication dates:

My biggest writing achievement is my poetry book titled Remember mySweet Whispers – I Loved You From A Time Once Before.
It is available on Smashwords as a free download and includes poems I wrote that people enjoyed on my blog.
Interview - Sweet Whispers SingleDust
Remember My: ‘Sweet Whispers – I loved You From A Time Once Before’
by Gina Gallyot

8. What Are You Future Plans For Your Blog and Writing?
 

No big ones as of yet. I have blog posts as well as guest posts featured on other sites but that’s about it. I still feel I am new to this and I like to let things move at a slow pace and see progress in steps rather than leaps and bounds. I am enjoying the journey, not the destination. Future plans might be to start focusing on a book I started last year but got distracted and have never completed. Blogging at my own pace and enjoying the company I meet along the way has been rewarding so I will continue on this path.


9. Can You Briefly Describe Your Writing Process? Do You Have Support for Your Writing and Blogging in Your Life?

Well, I decided to write again after a negative influence was removed from my life. I wrote a lot as a young girl and well into my early youth. I was sidetracked by the ‘merry go round of life.’ Coming back to my first love of writing stories has been like meeting an old flame and feeling the spark we had long ago that has developed into a mature romance. It’s a safe and uplifting romance of heart and soul, paper and pen, words and emotions.

My support comes from my tenacity for life. My four children have been my pillars of strength and support me with enthusiasm and love. Recently a more meaningful relationship has been the wind beneath my wings and encouraged me to soar higher. I also always have hope.


“Coming back to my first love of writing stories has been like meeting an old flame and feeling the spark we had long ago that has developed into a mature romance. It’s a safe and uplifting romance of heart and soul, paper and pen, words and emotions.” – Gina Gallyot


10. How Do you Maintain Discipline in Writing? Do You Prefer Certain Writing or Reading Genres? 

I discipline myself to write consistently and have a few stories or poetry on file to go over so I am never without material. Flash Fiction is incredibly helpful in clearing the cobwebs to write better in other areas of writing. It allows me to try different styles I might not usually do and this versatility helps me develop a better vocabulary too.

Reading is important too because people need to be inspired by other authors and writers. I spend a great deal of time reading new books and also re-reading previous favorites from beloved authors. My favorite writers are ‘mystical writers. Simple strong words in long flowing sentences that convey images of times we have all once traveled upon are inspiring to read about.

I fell in love with Yeats as a young girl and am still smitten with him. Poets and writers who write like Yeats and draw emotions from other worlds and bring that feeling into our world, I find interesting. I like human based stories, like those from Khaled Hosseini and recently John Green.

My all time favorite novels include The Alchemist and 100 years of Solitude. Another writer that fascinates me till is John Farris and his Wildwood, Chilling Experiments in the Backwoods of the Appalachian Mountains. I feel a strange attraction to that region although I have never been there before.


11. Do You Have Any Helpful Advice for Other Writers? Is There Anything Else You Would Like to Share With Us?

Write from the heart what you want to say. You can use your metaphors, pseudo names, or examples (metaphors and literary devices) that distract from you, but write as if it is the last essay or poem you will ever get to write.

That’s what makes you stand out from other writers — sharing your heart. Don’t let the blogging statistics derail or distract you. Numbers have no real weight in comparison to what you write from your own heart and feelings.

Moreover, I have never wanted to live a mediocre life in either thought, word, or deed. While I joke and say I write ‘little lines’ and often am told to give more respect and emphasis to my ‘little lines,’ they are strong on their own and not fragile lines but lines that encourage people who think they are not worth much.

People read these ‘little lines’ and feel uplifted because the world they live in is trying to confine them. I want ‘little lines’ to help set people free and be whoever they want to be, never living a mediocre life in thought, word, and deed.


“Moreover, I have never wanted to live a mediocre life in either thought, word, or deed. While I joke and say I write ‘little lines’ and often am told to give more respect and emphasis to my ‘little lines,’ they are strong on their own and not fragile lines but lines that encourage people who think they are not worth much.” – Gina Gallyot


12. What Are Your Three-Favorite Blogs you Follow or Enjoy, just for Fun? What Do You Like About Them? 

I love reading blogs in this order: flash fiction, poetry, and long reads. They inspire me to write better stories, and each writer has their own flavor. It’s too hard to mention a top three or even top ten. I enjoy each writer for their own kind of fiction and emotion.


13. Please Share With Us Some of Your Favorite Pieces:

A special one to me from the tales from the equator series:

The Dust and Glitter

By SingleDust
*****
Praying Mantis

Credit: http://www.twistedsifter.com Praying Mantis

She was a pretty tiny bird living in a big white cage. Her master would sit each morning and evening and admire her beauty from just outside her cage. She loved it when he came to sit with her, he read her stories and sang songs and she was his inspiration. He was an artist and he drew lovely paintings of her, sold them and even put some around his lovely house. She longed for him to open the cage, just once and let her out so she could sit in the palm of his hand, but he never did. Always just looking at her, smiling and saying soft soothing words, he would always leave when the woman came.

He lived with a beautiful woman in this house, she never came near the cage, almost never knew the little bird existed and would ask the maids to clean the cage and feed the pretty bird. Little bird looked with envy at the beautiful woman with the long black hair and flowing dresses, her feathers were short and had too many colors, her cage had no walls, she could never hide her ugliness.

One day, a praying mantis sat on the window ledge and asked the tiny pretty bird why was she quiet, why she never sang. Little tiny bird said she had no singing voice, she was made only for man’s eyes, not for his ears or heart. And the mantis thought she saw a tear, but birds don’t cry thought the mantis, not in these parts anyway.

The little bird talked to the mantis every day in between the times the artist sat by the cage and they grew to know each other more. The mantis was as old as the sands of the desert and had traveled far and lived long, she was old and wise but had no heart, yet lately talking to this tiny little bird made the old mantis feel something she had not for a very long time now. It was like an inflation of her hollow chest.

One day she asked the tiny pretty bird if she would like to be free? And the tiny heart fluttered with uncontrolled joy. But the bird asked how? And the praying mantis divulged an ancient secret.

Praying Mantis were the gods’ eyes and ears on earth for there were places the gods could not go to, the crevices and the cracks of the world, so they created the praying mantis who could slip in and out unnoticed and gather information back. The mantis had some magic and in them and was allowed one wish for their entire life and that’s how they would end their lives, by granting a wish as their final breath.

The little bird was upset and refused to listen more, but the old tired mantis coaxed her; allow me to bestow the wish on you, I have lived long and traveled far, I need to rest and move on to the next life the gods have planned for me. I have been a mantis too long, almost since this new world begun, set me free.

And the little bird because she had a lovely heart, though so tiny, it was full of love, for the handsome artist man and she wanted to feel the touch of his hand, agreed. And they decided on the right time to carry out their plan.

It was a beautiful sunny morning, where sunlight reflected off every surface and sunbeams found secret places and brought them warmth and the little bird decided today would be the day. The artist would arrive soon and she wanted to be free from her feathers and cage. The praying mantis nodded in agreement.

When they heard the man approaching, the mantis cast her final spell and the cage door flew open and the tiny pretty bird flew out and landed on the ground, now a tiny little lady with streaks of blue and green in her hair. The tiny bird was so happy to touch her own skin and pretty hair and she looked to thank the mantis, but the mantis wasn’t there.

Too late to look now, the handsome artist had approached, and the little bird now a pretty little lady smiled at him with the prettiest smile she thought she had. But the artist was taken by surprise and she never knew he could be a cruel man for she always looked at him from behind the bars of her cage and only saw what he showed her of his true self.

He shouted for the maids to chase away this intruder, he said. Chaos reigned as maids came to remove the tiny little stranger from the big lovely house. They roughly pushed her out the door and told her to do her begging elsewhere, this was the mistress and master’s house, not any common place.

Little bird tried to speak but no one could understand the language she spoke and she could hardly walk, new to feet and no feathers she felt exposed and abused with the rough hands and words. She understood them; why could they not her.

And they shut the big heavy white door and tiny little bird stood alone on the road.

Devastated that her plan had gone so disastrous, she wished she could talk to the praying mantis, her only friend all the years she sat in that cage, she wondered if she had been tricked. Living in that cage wasn’t so bad after all, at least she got to see her handsome artist twice a day and she had water and food and sunlight. Now she had nothing, she would never see his face again.

She walked down the road uncertain which way to go, her bare feet on the hot asphalt, the warmth went all the way to her chest, but never reached her heart. And she knew she could not live like this in this world; and said a soft wish to the gods who would listen, punish me for my greed and insolence, take me away from this existence. Leave me as dust in this world for I feel empty and distant.

And the spirits of the sun took her message to the skies and some gods had pity on her and said such a beautiful soul must be rescued somehow.

So they guided her thoughts till she walked further down the street and they crushed her body with a magnificent sunbeam and she became tiny flecks of dust that settled among the rocks and the grass, she would always be free now, and be part of the world yet no one would see her, she would be as she wished, just dust and glitter.


Please Find Other Posts from Gina Here:


Thank you to Gina for agreeing to be interviewed for her original interview and the “Rewind Interview.’ Here is the link to her blog homepage once more: A Life Less Lived. If you would like to be a part of my bi-weekly interview series, please reach out through my Contact Page.  See You on next Tuesday!


© Mandibelle16. (2017) All Rights Reserved.

Interview with Carolyn Shelton Writer, Author, and Blogger #amwriting #nonfiction #interview #author

Welcome to another week of my interview series. Today I’m so excited to share with you an interview with my talented and caring friend, Carolyn Shelton (JoyRoses)  who has been writing many wonderful tales for adults and children on her blog with Colin Chappell of A Dog’s Life (Stories of Me and Him). I interviewed Colin earlier this year HERE.

Many of Carolyn’s tales and her new book with Colin are about a Cat named Dewey, a Jackalope named Jaxon, an owl named Odessa, and a human helper for them on Moonbeam farm they live, known as the ‘manservant.’ You can also find Carolyn’s interview on Mandibelle16 where I post writer interviews each Tuesday. Continue reading