And the winner is …

The commenter known as “blahpolar” is our winner of a
Kindle version copy of Marie Abanga’s memoir,
My Unconventional Loves: My Hurts, My Adulteries, My Redemption.

This is the giveaway associated with my interview of Marie.

Thanks to blahpolar for reading, commenting and entering the giveaway.

Upcoming Guest Posts, Interviews & Book Reviews

  • On Thursday, September 4th,Marie Abanga visits with me as I interview Marie about writing her memoir, My Unconventional Loves: My Hurts, My Adulteries, My Redemption and the struggles she overcame. I met Marie when she visited this blog and left a comment. I knew upon reading her book and learning more about her life I wanted to share Marie with my other followers in a special way. I’m looking forward to Marie’s visit, and I hope you’ll come back and meet her.
  • On Tuesday, September 9th,I review Marie Abanga’s memoir My Unconventional Loves: My Hurts, My Adulteries, My Redemption.
  • On Thursday, September 18th, Mary Gottschalkwill be my guest writing on “giving up on marketing.” Mary is the author of a memoir, Sailing Down the Moonbeam (here is my review) and a recently published novel, A Fitting Place. Having been through the publishing and marketing business with both books, Mary has advice and wisdom to share with us.

Interview with Marie A. Abanga, Author of My Unconventional Loves: My Hurts, My Adulteries, My Redemption and Book Giveaway

Today I am pleased to have as my guest, Marie A. Abanga, author of My Unconventional Loves: My Hurts, My Adulteries and My Redemption. Marie and I met here on my blog when she commented on an earlier post. We began emailing and a friendship has grown. I hope you will enjoy meeting Marie today and invite you to return on September 9th for my review of her memoir.

Welcome, Marie!

Marie, tell us a little about yourself and your background.

I am a dynamic and passionate woman, mother of three boys, lawyer, activist, mental health advocate and feminist. I am a native of Cameroon in Africa and I currently live in Brussels, Belgium. I am currently equally enrolled at the Brussels School of International Studies as an LL.M candidate for international law with international relations. In addition to my studies, I also work as the Regional Manager Africa for the Women In Parliament Global Forum. I was a pioneer community champion for the UN Women Knowledge Gateway for Women’s Economic Empowerment, and I have been spotlighted by various feminine magazines, including Women’s Lead, the Girls Globe and the Knowledge Gateway’s monthly magazine. I am fluent in English and French, both my native languages, and then I speak Pidgin English and try to understand Italian and Swahili.

In addition to my memoir, I maintain two blogs: My award-winning: http://marieabanga.com and http://myeverydaypersonal.blogspot.be/. Since coming to Belgium, I have made great strides into the social networking world. I am a regular contributor on the Divorce Magazine, a member of the Mental Health Writers’ Guild and a guest blogger on a few other blogs. I love writing and I keep numerous journals including one for my first son. My future projects include a memoir of my brother’s journey from a genius to a simpleton, (after 18 years with mental health conditions), due by this year end, and my second memoir due mid next year.

When did you first know you wanted to write?

I have written stuff ever since I could remember. I wrote stories of girlish fantasies and some sad tales too, modeling after the likes of Cinderella and Snow White. I think either way whatever I wrote was somehow about me and my life. Yet, it wasn’t until I was about to leave my marriage, my children and my Country that I decided that were I to survive that episode or those episodes whichever came to be, I wouldn’t keep that story to myself.

You have published your memoir. What was the catalyst for writing your life story?

Two reasons come to mind:

I first thought I would be publishing my thriller of a story, be lashing out at my family who would be hurt by my “washing such dirty linen in public”. Well, I did not really care about my self-image any more at some point of my life. It was already so full of inner filth and outward glamour that I just felt relief writing it all down.

Then it occurred to me I could do better with My Story. I could make My Mess My Message and I could make My Test My Testimony! Indeed, whatever our spiritual beliefs, we are taught that the great ‘He/She’ doesn’t love or judge the way man does and that ‘They’ knows it all. ‘They’ know how willing our spirits could be and yet how weak our flesh could equally be.

Share a little about the process of writing your memoir.

To be candid, what I wrote was even very powerful and embarrassing to myself. I dreaded what would have happened had my mother or someone else stumbled upon it. I dared not write on paper, and this had disadvantages. I then also didn’t know as much about various writing and social networks and resource websites for writers of my genre. I was scared and yet determined. I wrote my chapters at midnight when all were asleep or at 3 am before starting my 4 am workouts. I tried to password the file and give it a weird name. Publishing while still in Cameroon was out of the question. I actually hid that file away for almost two years until I found myself in Belgium and discovered CreateSpace. Of course, I also knew I could only use nicknames for almost all my characters.

There is no point ‘writing your memoir in hiding.’ There are lots of websites, workshops, and nice people out there prepared to help and guide or even reassure you as you embark on that ‘tedious journey.’ After ‘opening up’ and reading several other more poignant memoirs (though none from a Cameroonian author so far), I have come to realize and accept the fact that my story is not the worst ever. I have also come to benefit fully from the ‘largess’ of that ‘courageous endeavor.’ Indeed, as I keep telling people, my writing is my therapy and message and so is my memoir.

Feminism and advocacy for women are important to you as shown by the work you do. Could you tell my readers why you feel strongly about feminism?

First of all, this is how that memoir of mine is dedicated: “To all the girls and women who like myself are struggling to come to terms with themselves and their situation whichever it may be; don’t give up, look up to God or whatever it is you truly believe if we’re still alive then the Lord or who ever is our creator, is definitely not done with us yet. So Do Believe in Yourselves always and stay STRONG amidst any waves, tides or rough seas!”

Now, specific to the question on my strong feminist feelings. Simply, I advance thus: The economic ‘stagnation’ of women has for all time hastened their dependence on men, consequently their, ‘abuse’. This impacts heavily on their own well being, and of course that of their children and hence the well being of the community as a whole. Yet, today, statistics have proven to all extent how much benefit a society reaps when its women are economically empowered. Economics aside, we see Women being abused in virtually all other areas of life. Both in the home, on the streets and where else. What can we pick out? The news is saturated with all those sad tales of rape, abuse, violations even in the name of religion. So , if my ‘small voice and or actions’ can contribute a widow’s mite to the empowerment of women, I can not relent.

Share with us the one woman who has had the greatest impact in your life.

There are many women who have impacted my life and this is always a tough question for me to answer. But now I must choose one and this is my Mother. She by her own life, struggles, achievements and further trials, taught me both directly and indirectly, several valuable lessons of life. Her mother was also a great inspiration to her and of course to me also. I had the luck of spending a good chunk of my life with her around.

You are a strong mental health advocate. Please share the reason behind this advocacy.

I almost committed suicide once –dropped that knife at the very last minute. I have no shame in admitting that. However, I am much better now and dream of becoming a personal and emotional well-being coach.  I need to be really well and sure I am on the right path and I will not sink down there again. Sometime when society holds you as doing good, they discourage you from thinking you may actually have a problem. That is my challenge right now; because of that ‘perception’ by many that l am so fine, healthy, happy and may not really need to go begging for a mental diagnosis. And this may be our challenges too – hence my advocacy.

I found some probable reasons of ‘mental illness’:

  • personal genes
  • biochemical environment
  • personal experience and
  • psychological factors.

I searched to no avail to find a single cause of a person’s temperament, or religion, or sorcery and all. I still wonder why it is so challenging to even look at the possibility of a mental disorder until almost all options are exhausted and the ‘patient’ is maybe really ‘nuts’ by then. So, the bottom line is, only ‘we’ can help ourselves. If we can face it, once we notice the symptoms, we should seek help and I mean shamelessly. I don’t think I did that forcefully enough and so I wasn’t taken serious by my mother who only thought l was ‘possessed’. That is why I advocate strongly and openly for mental health, hoping one day stigma and shame will disappear, and that a more holistic care will be made available and affordable for all.

Thank you, Marie, for joining me today and sharing so openly about yourself.

Connect with Marie here:

Website: http://marieabanga.com/ Twitter@marieA2013 LinkedInMarie A. Abanga Facebook: Let’s Go Merry with Marie

A COPY OF MY UNCONVENTIONAL LOVES

BOOK GIVEAWAY — SIMPLE as 1-2-3!

Clicking on this link will take you to an entry form.
All that’s needed is your name and email address.

The giveaway ends at noon on Friday, September 12th.
At that time, a winner will be selected using random.org.

The winner will be announced on this blog on Friday afternoon, September 12th.

For delivery right to your inbox of upcoming memoir reviews, writing resources and tips, plus news items related to writing and publishing, sign up for my bi-weekly newsletter by clicking on the image below:

Upcoming Guest Posts, Interviews & Book Reviews

  • On Tuesday, August 26th, I will post my review of Kathy Pooler‘s recently published Memoir, Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away from Emotional Abuse. Kathy has told her story with integrity and holds out hope as a gift to those suffering through abusive relationships.
  • On Thursday, August 28th, my review of Lorraine Ash’s memoir Self and Soul: On Creating a Meaningful Life will be posted. Another story beautifully written from strength and courage with another gift of hope offered. Reminder: Two copies of Lorraine’s memoir will be given away.
  • On Thursday, September 4th,Marie Abanga visits with me as I interview Marie about writing her memoir, My Unconventional Loves: My Hurts, My Adulteries, My Redemption and the struggles she overcame. I met Marie when she visited this blog and left a comment. I knew upon reading her book and learning more about her life I wanted to share Marie with my other followers in a special way. I’m looking forward to Marie’s visit, and I hope you’ll come back and meet her.
  • On Tuesday, September 9th,I review Marie Abanga’s memoir My Unconventional Loves: My Hurts, My Adulteries, My Redemption.
  • On Thursday, September 18th, Mary Gottschalkwill be my guest writing on “giving up on marketing.” Mary is the author of a memoir, Sailing Down the Moonbeam (here is my review) and a recently published novel, A Fitting Place. Having been through the publishing and marketing business with both books, Mary has advice and wisdom to share with us.

Good Things Are Coming: Upcoming Guests and Memoir Reviews

Attributed to http:lifesadance.org
Attributed to http:lifesadance.org

Yes, good things are coming! I have some guests who will be sharing their insights into writing and life as well as a new memoir or two to review here. Thought I’d give you a heads up:

Next Thursday, August 21st, Lorraine Ashauthor of Self and Soul: On Creating Meaningful Lifewill be my guest. Lorraine will be sharing her thoughts on “Exploring Ancestral Patterns in Memoir.” This is a fascinating look at what traits and/or behaviors are ours via ancestry.

On Tuesday, August 26th, I will post my review of Kathy Pooler‘s recently published Memoir, Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away from Emotional AbuseKathy has told her story with integrity and holds out hope as a gift to those suffering through abusive relationships.

On Thursday, August 28th, my review of Lorraine Ash’s memoir mentioned above will be posted. Another story beautifully written from strength and courage with another gift of hope offered.

My next guest, Marie Abanga, visits me on Thursday, September 4th, as I interview Marie about writing her memoir, My Unconventional Loves: My Hurts, My Adulteries, My Redemptionand the struggles she overcame. I met Marie when she visited this blog and left a comment. I knew upon reading her book and learning more about her life I wanted to share Marie with my other followers in a special way. I’m looking forward to Marie’s visit, and I hope you’ll come back and meet her.

A few days later on September 9th I will be posting my review of Marie’s memoir mentioned above.

On Thursday, September 18th, Mary Gottschalkwill be my guest writing on “giving up on marketing.” Mary is the author of a memoir, Sailing Down the Moonbeam(here is my review) and a recently published novel, A Fitting PlaceHaving been through the publishing and marketing business with both books, Mary has advice and wisdom to share with us.

Below is a collage of the various books mentioned above. Perhaps one or more interests you. I encourage you to check them and the above dates in mind to return to get to know the authors better.

And if you’d like to have reminders of these upcoming guests and reviews, sign up for my bi-weekly newsletter and you’ll receive reminders right into your inbox. Click below to visit the sign-up page.

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Mailing List Widget

Interview with Carol Bodensteiner, Memoirist Now Writing Historical Fiction

Fiction isn’t memoir and memoir isn’t fiction.~ Arthur Phillips

Today I am pleased to welcome Carol Bodensteiner, memoir writer and author of Growing Up Country: Memories of an Iowa Farm Girl. Today Carol and I will be talking about her transition from memoir to historical fiction for her next project. 

Please join me in welcoming Carol to Healing by Writing!

SM:  Carol, in reading your bio, it is clear that most of your professional life has involved some form of writing. Did you always want to write, or did it just happen spontaneously while in college or a specific job?

CB: In grade school, I wrote an essay I was particularly proud of. When I got a “C” on that essay (probably because of my atrocious handwriting), I was totally deflated. That early experience stuck with me and I managed to make it through high school and most of college without any real sense that I had any writing skill. I came to understand not only that I liked to write but also that I was pretty good at it when I took an editorial position at an association and subsequently moved into public relations.

SM: You have published your memoir, Growing Up Country: Memories of an Iowa Farm Girl. What was the catalyst behind writing down these cherished memories?

CB: I blame my mother. She believed in my writing before I did. She said to me so many times, “You’re a writer. You can write our family stories.”  Finally I listened. My original intent was to write about my parents, and it took years to get to my memoir. I’m grateful Mom never quit pushing me on this.

SM: Currently, you are working on a historical novel set in WWI. What draws you to write about this time period and specifically WWI?

CB: My maternal grandfather died of the Spanish flu in 1918, and I’ve always been intrigued by my link to that huge world event. My grandmother never remarried. She was a stern woman who didn’t talk about the past, but then I never asked her, either. So, my upcoming novel – Go Away Home – is fictional, but in a way it gives a life to the grandfather I never knew and to the grandmother I only knew as a taciturn old woman.

SM: Historical fiction necessarily requires research on the part of the writer. Have you done an extensive amount of research for this work?

CB:I love research, and I’ve done a lot for this novel. This era is rich with social and technological change: cameras become available to the average person; cars are more prevalent but in Iowa at least, the roads didn’t support them; women are fighting for suffrage. One of my characters is a professional photographer, so I’ve had to learn how photography studios were set up and how film was developed and printed – in a time when electricity was not available everywhere. Though the novel is set during WWI, it’s not about the war per se. Nonetheless, I’ve had to research the politics of the era and understand how the war affected Americans before and after the U.S. got involved.

SM: Would you speak to the differences and/or similarities you see between writing memoir and historical fiction?

CB:With memoir, of course, I was working with the actual events of my life and the greatest challenge was to decide what to include and what to leave out. Since my novel began with a few known events from my grandparents’ lives, the biggest challenge was to let go of reality and create a story arc that worked. Both genres are similar in that they need to be good stories, well written.

SM: At this point, can you say whether you are enjoying working in memoir or historical fiction more? And why?

CB:There are so many similarities in good creative writing that I can say I like both and find each form rewarding in its own way. I do like working with events I’ve lived myself, even though writing about them can sometimes be painful. At the same time, I’m fascinated by the rush of energy I feel when my fictional characters do the most unexpected things.

SM: Are there are other book projects on the horizon for you?

CB: I can only think of one project at a time, but as my novel gets closer to publication, I’ve begun to think about what’s next.  On the non-fiction front, I’m fascinated by the Orphan Trains (an Orphan Train plays in my novel) that brought a quarter million orphans from the streets of east coast cities and put them in homes across the U.S. I’ve also thought about personal essays and memoir-based short stories. On the fiction front, some of my beta readers have clamored to know what happens next for the characters in my novel.  What I’ve learned is to trust that what needs to be written, will be written. So I will be as curious as anyone to see what comes out when I put my fingers over the keys!

SM: Lastly, do you have any advice you’d like to share with other writers?

CB: Keep writing. Don’t worry about what it will look like and how long it will be or if anyone will buy it. All that can be sorted out later. For now: Keep writing.

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Thank you, Carol, for sharing your thoughts on transitioning between two genre in your writing, specifically from memoir to historical fiction. Good luck with your new book!

Author Bio:

Carol Bodensteiner is a writer who finds inspiration in the places, people, culture and history of the Midwest. After a successful career in public relations consulting, she turned to creative writing. She blogs about writing, her prairie, gardening, and whatever in life interests her at the moment at www.carolbodensteiner.com  She published her memoir GROWING UP COUNTRY in 2008 as a paperback and as an ebook in 2011. She has had essays published in several anthologies. Her debut novel, historical fiction set during World War I, will be published in 2014.

Website/blog http://www.carolbodensteiner.com

Tweet @CABodensteiner

LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=14449814&trk=tab_pro

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/CarolBodensteinerAuthor

Growing Up Country: Memories of an Iowa Farm Girl is available in paperback and ebook forms from:

 Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Growing-Up-Country-Memories-ebook/dp/B0047GNDYI/ref=tmm_kin_title_0

Barnes & Noblehttp://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/growing-up-country-carol-bodensteiner/1102472272?ean=9780979799709

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Please join us below for discussion and comments about writing memoir and historical fiction. We’d love to hear from you!