TOUGH JOURNAL ENTRY THURSDAY 9/1/16

FullSizeRender (14)Today I did something I haven’t done since writing my debut novel, Even Tough Women Crack Like Eggs Sometimes. I listened to the needs of DIANE. I not only listened to what Diane wanted. I actually followed through by RESPECTING those needs. There has been so much dust kicking up as I excavate the wreckage of my past in the pages of this manuscript. In fact, a few TOUGH women have mentioned for me to take it easy because of what I have written – and because of what is coming up.

As I reach “The End” of TOUGH, so many emotions I tamped down have decided to take a stand and say NO MORE – FEEL THEM! Really FEEL them and not in the way I perfected growing up on Long Island surrounded by the vultures who share my DNA. Not in the way DIANE MORASCO has perfected a Swiss cheese version of feeling them either. But in a way that the little girl born at Jacobi Hospital on Pelham Pkwy in the Bronx with the curly hair, dimples and caramel skin needed. The precious little girl who arrived in this world a result of rape, the innocent angel God not only saved, but beautifully designed, despite the heinous machinations of her maternal parent’s DNA.

I was waffling about attending a morning appointment or staying in to nurture myself. Which was/is foreign territory. The perfectionist I am was going to keep the appointment despite what I needed. I figured I could just do what I always do and place my needs to the side and “do the right thing” as usual; until I realized I would be contributing to the abuse I endured by not listening to what I was feeling. I debated for over thirty minutes. I finally said to myself, “Diane, if you aren’t going to protect little Diane who the heck is?” I told myself I would make a decision when the snooze alarms on my iPad and Galaxy S7 went off. They went off within seconds. Imagine that? There are NO coincidences. None. Nada. I called to cancel and still debated with myself as I was connected to the woman’s voicemail. I was telling myself it would only be a few hours…blah…blah…blah. I left the message. After I disconnected from the line, I cried. I cried because I have been conditioned to keep on going despite honoring my needs. I have been conditioned to “act as if” no matter what it cost. And, I have been conditioned to “never let anyone see your weakness” – NOT EVER! Who conditioned me to behave in such a manner? I did. It was a way for little Diane to protect herself from the chaos of her environment. It was what got us through. It served its purpose then. It no longer serves us in any way that is healthy, loving or nurturing.

Today, for the first time I listened to our needs. I cried myself to sleep. I released so many emotions without fear of scrutiny. When I woke up to absorb it all, I ended up succumbing to more tears. However, these were now tears of grief for that innocent little girl who was tortured by frightened adults who had no damn business raising any children – NONE – when they had yet to address their own messed up stuff.

What was it that caused these buried feelings to erupt today? Writing the Even Tough Women Crack Like Eggs Sometimes Excerpt: Our DNA, the last few chapters of TOUGH, addressing my childhood without a filtered lens, dealing with my abuse, shinning a spotlight on my body image issues that stemmed from my sexual abuse, reading June Stevens Westerfield’s powerful book, This is My Body, writing The Vicious Cycle of Eating Disorders and Body-Shaming, Part 2 and Even Tough Women Crack Like Eggs Sometimes Excerpt: When Words Slaughter a Soul! last night; and knowing the final chapters of TOUGH will bring me to my knees – so I can rise from the ashes and grow into the woman I was sculpted to be.

I want to express my gratitude to the TOUGH women who have inspired me along the way,  Doreena, Louisa Winters, Parris Afton Bonds,  Tanya R. Taylor, Diana Layne, Cinda, Sibel Hodge, June Stevens Westerfield, and all of the courageous women who shared their experience, strength and hope within the pages of This is My Body.

With all my heart, I want to thank Frederick Joseph Paris, my Prince, for standing by me when I disclosed the incest. And, my hero for setting all of this is in motion.

Welcome to September, cookie cakes…soon to be pumpkin cookie cakes!

P.S. Here is the link to The Vicious Cycle of Eating Disorders and Body-Shaming, Part 1 in case ya missed it.

ADMSIG

Even Tough Women Crack Like Eggs Sometimes Excerpt: When Words Slaughter a Soul!

LGScale“I remember pieces of my splintered heart, digging deeper into the soul he ruptured, to begin slaughtering it. My hero, my precious hero.”

“Fat bitch!” Those were the first devastating words to my soul my hero hurled at me about my body. The words I never wanted to hear described to me by the man I loved more than anything in the world. The man who claimed to love me more than his own life. The man who got down on bended knee with hardware placed inside of him by a team of surgeons in a Texas hospital, after he crashed the vehicle he robbed in a booze and drug filled stupor to ask me to marry him. And, I said yes; yes, to the only man I ever wanted to take that stroll with. I remember pieces of my splintered heart, digging deeper into the soul he ruptured, to begin slaughtering it.

Recently I shared how my eating disorder and self-hatred for my body began in an article for Blogcritics, The Vicious Cycle of Eating Disorders and Body-Shaming, Part 1. Here is an excerpt of my article.

I was nine years old when my eating disorder started. It started in January in Bay Shore, New York. It was the day my uncle, a Westchester County Police Officer put his hands and mouth on me. I was in the kitchen making Campbell’s Vegetable Soup to have with my cheese and salami sandwich. It was the last time there was ever a “normal relationship” between me and eating. I remember when he was done I ran into the bathroom, locked the door, grabbed a towel from the closet and puked. I was in too much shock to cry.

Copyright © 2016 by Diane Morasco

The Vicious Cycle of Eating Disorders and Body-Shaming, Part 1

YWINYW

I was nine years old when my eating disorder started. It started in January in Bay Shore, New York. It was the day my uncle put his hands and mouth on me. I was in the kitchen making Campbell’s Vegetable Soup to have with my cheese and salami sandwich. It was the last time there was ever a “normal relationship” between me and eating. I remember when he was done I ran into the bathroom, locked the door, grabbed a towel from the closet and puked. I was in too much shock to cry.

I was always the tall kid with long arms and legs. My mom’s DNA would ask my grandma if I was eating. She would get so mad at the idiots questioning her about my eating habits. She would answer in exasperation, “Yes, Diane eats. She eats whatever she wants when she is hungry, Ann.” I am almost sure my uncle’s wife was trying to compose herself by looking for a tranquilizer in her purse or she was uncomfortable with my grandma’s reaction to her ridiculous nonsense yet again eager to pop one. Aunt Ann said, “She is so skinny.” My grandma said, “She is healthy and she takes after me. If she wants spaghetti and meatballs for breakfast I make it, a cheeseburger, pizza, a hotdog, I make it for her. She is not going to eat because someone wants her to eat. You need to mind your own business and leave her alone.”

Everything changed after my grandma died when I was eight. My mom’s sister Elaine was married to a Westchester County police officer. She thought she had it made moving from the Bronx to Mount Vernon. I didn’t think so then and I don’t now. My aunt and uncle were buying a house on Long Island and my uncle thought it would be better for me to be raised in the suburbs than in the city. I don’t know how he convinced my grandpa to let me and my mom go out to the sticks and leave him and my other aunt behind, but he did.

I was not happy at all. I cried, screamed and had tantrums. I felt I was leaving my grandma behind. I didn’t want to leave my dogs behind. I didn’t want to leave my grandpa behind, and I didn’t want to leave my aunt behind. I didn’t want to live with my aunt and her husband. I didn’t like him. I didn’t like him at all. The abuse went on for years and years. My eating disorder grabbed me by my throat and ran rampant. I turned 10 years old six months later. I went through that summer chewing my food and feeding it to the dog. When my aunt caught me, she put the dog in one of the bedrooms or outside. I chewed my food and spit it in a napkin to throw away or sneak it to the dog later.

When my breasts started to grow I was horrified. I wasn’t one of those girls to wear a training bra. I went straight into a woman’s size and was bigger than my aunts and my mom. The summer I was 12 we were shopping at Modell’s for school clothes. My aunt made a comment that sent me falling deeper into the insidiousness of my eating disorder. She said I was “top-heavy” – all I heard was heavy. Which I took as FAT!

I was growing into my body and didn’t like the changes. I didn’t want to have woman parts. My uncle was doing unspeakable things to me with child parts. I couldn’t comprehend what he would do to me with woman parts.

My aunt went on, “Diane, don’t you want boys to notice you? Don’t you want a man to marry like I have? Don’t you want a man like your uncle to provide for you, to give you a house, to look good for?” No I did not. I sure as hell did not want a pig like your husband. I can get whatever I need myself. She looked at my breasts and said, “Men love breasts. You know how your uncle is.”

I mumbled I had to use the restroom. I went to the snack counter bought a hot pretzel and a soda. I ate it and went to the bathroom and vomited it in the stall. I looked at my chest and wished them away. I hated them. I didn’t want them to be the reason more men would put their unwanted mitts on me. I purged the remainder until there was nothing to bring up but bile. Instead of going back to the dressing room I grabbed a few books to read and hid in the pet section. Of course, after a while, I heard my name over the store intercom asking me to return to the woman’s fitting room.

I did gain some weight when we moved to Long Island. I did not know I was stuffing the abuse down. I didn’t drink or smoke pot to deal with my chaotic environment, so I didn’t realize food became my coping mechanism. I was less arms and legs and more boobs and curves. I was becoming more like an hourglass. Which I thought meant fat. And when my aunt started focusing in on my curviness I started to “perfect” my eating disorder.

She would tell everyone, “I don’t know who she takes after. If she watches what she eats and takes care of her figure she will have boys lined up around the corner. Her grandfather will have a shit fit and Charlie will have to chase them away.” I did not want any male attention. I was still playing with Barbies. I was just 12, for goodness’ sake. My aunt exclaimed, “You’ll be going to the seventh grade. You’ll be meeting new boys.” What, was she out of her mind? New boys? I didn’t like the old boys – unless they were willing to play hide and seek or go bike riding. And even that was pushing it. I just wanted to be with the animals and read.YTEMED

One Friday night when Mister Softee came around an older neighborhood boy asked to buy me an ice cream. He always looked at me funny. He would always come into his sister’s room to talk and show off. Whatever. He would ask us to come into his room and listen to music. He was a drinker and a pothead so I steered clear.

He said, “Hey, you ignoring me?” Nope. Keep your eyes above please. I answered coolly, “No, thanks.” His younger brother Jimmy pedaled over. He pulled out his Pac-Man wallet to buy ice cream and candy for himself and a Mickey Mouse cone for me. He looked at his brother with a smirk and walked away.

He asked if he could sit on the stoop with me. I said yes and we talked. His mother called from across the street that Dukes of Hazzard was coming on. He said he wanted to stay and hang out with me. Hmmm…He never missed the Duke brothers. His brother sauntered over and said he was going to miss it. He said, “I already told mom I was staying here with Diane.” Joseph looked at his brother, then me, then his brother, then me and his brother again while casting his eyes at me. He stood there. Uninvited. Jimmy said leave. Joseph said, “You can’t make me.” Jimmy turned to me and in a whine said, “tell him to leave.” I looked at Joseph and said, Do you mind? Your brother and I are talking.” He volleyed, “You’d rather talk to my brother? My little brother?” Jimmy interjected, “She thinks I’m cuter.”

NBIPI was totally thrown by this interaction. I thanked Jimmy for the ice cream and said I was going in. I stood up and went inside. My aunt started laughing and said it hasn’t even started. I went into the bedroom to read.

I went from bingeing and purging to learning the art of starving after my aunt made a comment that I wasn’t going to be able to eat whatever I wanted soon. She had to toss in that I had to be careful I didn’t end up as big as a house. WHAT? You don’t say that to a 12-year-old girl, a 13-year-old boy, a 20-something-year-old, a 60-something or 90-something. You just don’t. It is wrong. It is wrong on so many levels. It is dangerous.

My disease progressed rapidly. I perfected starving the best. I was so caught up in my disease I did not see how dangerous all this was. I liked the control. I liked having control in an environment filled with pandemonium. It was my saving grace to focus on what was going in and out of my mouth. I needed to have something I was able to dictate. I did not realize just how out of control I was. Nor how it was destroying me.

Copyright © 2016 by Diane Morasco

Article first appeared in Blogcritics.

Music Legend Prince Dead at Age 57

prince-purple-rainMy heart is broken. My tears are plentiful. My spirit is sad. Today the doves carried the iconic Prince Rogers Nelson home to heaven to play his music for his Creator. When I turned on CNBC I was shocked to see Melissa Lee on my screen discussing the passing of Prince. I broke down in tears, uttered the words, “Not you, too!” and called out to my significant other, “Prince has died.” Prince’s passing is doubly heart for me to digest because it comes on the heels of my mom’s untimely death. My mom and I were colossal fans. My mom would record his “latest exclusive new single” on Z-100 if I wasn’t home to listen to it and she would do the same with a VHS for the debut videos on MTV. My mom was a February baby and Amethyst was her birthstone. She loved the color purple. I would tease her she was Prince’s older sister because of her love of purple. Last year I decided to surprise my mom when I picked out my new frames – they were purple. I didn’t plan on choosing them when I went to my appointment. I was sitting in the chair looking at frames and something nudged me to the purple one. I decided to try them on a whim and they looked amazing. I was shocked because it was something far from my norm, yet, they fit as if they were designed just for me. I ordered them and picked them up a couple of days later. I didn’t say anything to my mom until she saw me model them for her. She loved them. She said they looked good on me and I looked even more beautiful. She was quiet for a second and then she said it was, “to remind you of your mommy and Prince.” We laughed and I said she was silly. Two months later, my world changed tremendously when my mom was struck and killed by a vehicle. I often wonder why I chose purple frames, yet, something inside tells me I was guided by a power greater than myself that afternoon. My glasses are a constant reminder of my mom, her adoration for the color purple and our love for Prince. My mom and I attended a Prince concert in my teens and it was absolutely mind-blowing! We loved the movie Purple Rain. We sang and danced along to Purple Rain, When Doves Cry and Kiss to name a few in his immense discography. We even loved the Batdance video. The Beautiful Ones is one of my absolute favorites. Prince was a timeless musical virtuoso. Prince was a mastermind when it came to business. Prince didn’t just spit rhetoric when it came to social issues and injustice, he jumped in to do his part to make a difference and to add his link to the chain to make a change. Prince was a magical musician, an intrinsically humorous being and a visionary who touched all walks of life. Prince was relevant and beat to the rhythm of his own drum. Prince 1A
Prince, one of the world’s most ingenious and powerful musicians of all-time with smashes counting Purple Rain, Raspberry Beret and When Doves Cry, was found dead at his home on Thursday in Chanhassen, Minnesota. The legend was 57.

 

His publicist, Yvette Noel-Schure, communicated to The Associated Press that the icon “died at his home this morning at Paisley Park.” The local sheriff said deputies found Prince unresponsive in an elevator late Thursday morning after being called to his home, but that first-responders couldn’t revive him.

 

No specifics about what may have caused his death have been released. Prince postponed a concert in Atlanta on April 7, after coming down with the flu, and he apologized to fans during a makeup concert last week.

Prince-Rogers-Nelson

The magnificently brilliant and charismatic arranger, instrumentalist, singer and songwriter taught himself to play the piano at age 7, the guitar at 13 and the drums at 14. He was also ferociously protective of his sovereignty, disputing his record company over control of his body of work— and even his name, for a period requesting that he be referred to as “TAFKAP,” or The Artist Formerly Known as Prince, and identified with a key-like symbol. Prince once wrote “slave” on his face in protest of not owning his material. He visibly battled and then separated from his label, Warner Bros., before returning a few years ago.

In 2004, Prince was inducted into the Rock and Roll of Fame, which extoled him as a musical and social pioneer.

Prince had been touring and recording right up until his death, releasing four albums in the last 18 months. He performed in Atlanta last week as part of his Piano and a Microphone tour, a minimalist illustration that has included a fusion of his melodies and some B-sides from his extensive library. Prince had THE BEST B-sides of any musical performer to ever gift the world with their brilliance.

 

Just last month in New York City he announced he was writing his memoir, The Beautiful Ones. The memoir was expected to be released in the fall of 2017 by publishing house Spiegel & Grau.

 

I am listening to Purple Rain and can barely read the words as the tears fall and my heart aches.
 

Good night darling, Prince, sweet dreams.
 

Story first appeared in Blogcritics.

 

Copyright © 2016 by Diane Morasco

Interview: Winter Holiday Fireside Moments with Witch City Mystery Writer Carol J. Perry

Carol Perry, Gulfport

Carol Perry, Gulfport

Carol J. Perry knew as a child that she wanted to be a writer. A voracious reader, whose list for Santa consisted mostly of book titles, she never lost sight of that goal. While living in Florida, Carol was on assignment for Southern Travel Magazine, preparing an article on the world’s largest sand castle which was being built near her home. That combination of events inspired her first young adult novel, Sand Castle Summer. That book was soon followed by half a dozen more.

Carol has always been an avid reader of mysteries. Her debut mystery novel is set in Salem and involves O’Ryan, a most mysterious cat, several witches and some strange Halloween happenings. Appropriately enough, this Salem-born author celebrates her birthday on Halloween Eve! Carol and her husband Dan live in the Tampa Bay area of Florida with two cats and a Black Lab.

It’s that time of year when the chill in the frosty air brings us indoors to hunker down with thick comforters and mugs of steaming hot chocolate overflowing with fluffy marshmallows. When holiday music and movies become the soundtrack to our everyday home lives. When we gather ‘round the fire for company, drink, food and love. When we are celebrating and remembering those we treasure and hold near and dear. When the real meaning of the season is family – by our DNA or by our heart. When we reflect and give thanks for all we have. In a nutshell, unconditional love.

I’d like to welcome Carol J Perry to share the beauty of the season with us.Caught Dead Handed Mech.indd

Favorite Holiday tradition?

A favorite holiday tradition at our house is setting up the Christmas Village. Some of the little figures in the scene were the same ones I helped to arrange when I was a little girl! Now my grandkids get to determine where to put the (mirror) ice skating pond, the (white flannel) snow covered ski slopes, the houses and shops and churches—some new, some very old.

Favorite childhood toy?

My favorite toys through the childhood years were a series of teddy bears. All named “Boffin.”

Favorite childhood game?

I had a great range of childhood games to choose from. My daddy worked at the Parker Brothers game factory in Salem! I think my favorites were “Flinch,” and “Sorry.” I was very good at both!

Snow ball fight or making snow families?

I live in Florida now so I don’t have to choose between snow ball fights or snow families. Can I make sand angels on the beach?

Sleigh rides, sledding or skiing?

Sleigh rides are wonderful. We do hayrides here down paths full of Christmas lights.

Favorite holiday song?

There are so many wonderful holiday songs aren’t there? Right now, Winter Wonderland is stuck in my head, so I’ll choose that one, subject to change without notice.

Favorite holiday movie?

Favorite holiday movie is an oldie. The Bishop’s Wife. Cary Grant and Loretta Young. Oh, that ice skating scene!

Favorite holiday story to read?

The best holiday story ever is The Gift of the Magi.

Snow on holiday eve, day or just a chill in the air?

On Christmas Eve a slight chill in the air is just fine for me!

Most memorable holiday memory?

I’ve been blessed with many wonderful holiday memories. One of the best was a nighttime boat ride with my husband Dan on a cool, starry night, with carols playing full blast on the radio as we rode up and down the waterways.

Did you eat popcorn balls as a kid? If you did, do you still?

Don’t really love popcorn balls!

Real tree or artificial? Green or white?

We have a real tree.

What do you holiday eve?

We usually have a fire in the outdoor fireplace, play some music, and maybe sip some wine. If there are grandkids around there’ll probably be s’mores!Tails You Lose Mech.indd

What are your holiday plans this year?

Our holiday plans are pretty simple. Dan prepares and cooks the turkey on the Weber grill. I do veggies and maybe a pie or two. Kids and grandkids come over for present exchanging and food grazing. A wonderful low key, full of family day.

What’s the one holiday dish your family can’t go without?

I don’t know about everybody else, but I look forward to granddaughter-in-law Amanda’s mashed potatoes!

Please share a Holiday recipe.

I’m sharing my recipe for chocolate fruitcake. Even people who hate fruitcake will like this one!
Chocolate Fruit Cake

2 ½ cups unsifted flour

1 tsp. baking soda

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 28-ounce jar of ready-to-use mincemeat (plain or brandied)

1 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)

2 cups (1 pound) mixed candied fruit

1 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans if you prefer)

3 one-ounce squares of unsweetened chocolate,, melted

Chocolate glaze (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Generously grease and flour 10-inch Bundt or tube pan. Combine flour and baking soda; set aside. In large bowl combine remaining ingredients. Blend in dry ingredients. Turn into prepared pan. Bake one hour and fifteen to 30 minutes or until wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes. Remove from pan. Spoon chocolate glaze over cake.

Chocolate Glaze

In small saucepan melt three 1-ounce squares of semi-sweet chocolate and two tbsp. margarine or butter. Makes about 1/3 cup.

Holiday party tip?

If it’s one of those parties where everybody stands around a lot, wear comfortable shoes.

Favorite holiday decoration?

Favorite holiday decorations are the old ones, which bring happy memories of holidays past.

Please share some magical holiday memories?

I like to think about childhood holidays in Salem with my parents, of course. Happy days. The growing up years with my own kids, walking to church through the snow on Christmas Eve, the year my youngest son Larry used the money he was saving for a car to buy a beautiful piece of sculpture for me.Look Both Ways

Wrap, gift bag or bow & go?

I like wrapping lots of stuff!

Gifts or gift cards?

Gift cards for the teenagers though. I don’t want to hear “Nana, what were you thinking!”

Cyber-shop or head out into the trenches?

I tend to shop all through the year and squirrel things away for December. (Of course, like the squirrels, sometimes I forget where I put some of them and find them in June!)

Do you eat fruitcake?

The fruitcake question. See recipe.

Do you head to the movies on the 25th?

No. I rarely go to the movies.

What’s in your stocking? *wink*

Funny you should ask about what’s in my stocking! Just this morning I went to my local Brighton store and filled out a “wish list” for Dan. So I kind of know what’s going to be in my stocking! (wink!)

Do you head out on the 26th into the madness to exchange or shop for anything?

I don’t do the store thing on the 26Th. Ever! Don’t do “Black Friday either.

Thank you so much, Carol. Happy Holidays from our home to yours!

Thanks for spending this time with me! Now I’ll get back to work on book four of my Witch City Mystery series. The name of it is Murder Go Round. Look for it in the fall of 2016. Meanwhile please check out Caught Dead Handed, Tails, You Lose and Look Both Ways in bookstores everywhere and online! Happy holidays to all!

Visit Carol’s website for the latest news.

Copyright © 2016 by Diane Morasco

Interview first appeared on Blogcritics.

Interview: Author Tiffany Quay Tyson

AuthorPhotoTQT_Credit Cat Hope PhotographyHi Tiffany! I want to thank you for taking the time for this interview. I’m so excited! It is an absolute delight to interview you on your evocative page-turning debut novel “Three Rivers”. I must say, Tiffany, your riveting tome is definitely a must-read for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0. Hint. Hint.

DM: When you first started writing, Tiffany, who were your influences?

TQT: I’m influenced by nearly everything I read. When I was in high school, a wonderful librarian introduced me to Ellen Gilchrist. Her stories about southern families are a definite influence. I also love Elizabeth Spencer, Ellen Douglas, Beth Henley, and, of course, Eudora Welty. Reading work by women who grew up in the same region where I grew up inspired me and gave me confidence.

DM: When you first started on your writing journey was there anyone in the writing world that you aspired to be like?

TQT: I can’t say there was any particular writer I aspired to be like when I was starting out, but I’ve learned to admire the writers who work hard and are generous with their knowledge. I aspire to emulate those writers. There are too many to name.

DM: Was there an author who encouraged you or guided you along with the writing process?

TQT: Yes. I am a longtime member of Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver. Several of the authors on their faculty have been very generous with me. William Haywood Henderson, author of Augusta Locke and other novels, has served as a strong mentor for my writing. I’m very grateful.

DM: What type of support system did you have when you started penning Three Rivers? How has your support system changed or shifted since publication?

TQT: I have a very supportive husband and a wonderfully active writing community. That was true when I started writing this novel and it’s still true today.

DM: Who gave you words of encouragement when you needed it?

TQT: My fellow writers at Lighthouse have been unflagging in their encouragement. I also meet monthly with a group of writers to share work and swap stories about our writing lives. Sometimes it’s not the encouragement that keeps me going, but the shared frustration.
 Three Rivers
DM: What sparked the idea for Three Rivers?

TQT: I like to read newspapers for story ideas. I read them when I travel and I read them online. About 10 years ago, there was a story about a pastor who was electrocuted while performing a baptism at a church in Waco, Texas. While the death of the pastor was terrible, I was more struck by what the congregation must have felt witnessing such a thing. And what about the person being baptized? Did she feel responsible? Did she ever actually get baptized? I couldn’t stop thinking about it. That was what led me to start writing this novel.

DM: Tiffany, what would you say is the essence of your novel?

TQT: Oh, that’s a tough question. I think it’s ultimately about faith, though not necessarily a religious faith. I set out to explore the thin line between religion and superstition. My characters really just want to believe in something. They want their lives to have meaning. That seems a universal wish, and I hope it resonates with readers.

DM: What are you hoping that readers will come away with?

TQT: Honestly, I hope readers come away thinking it was a good story. I’m all for finding greater meaning in books, but the story comes first. I hope it’s the kind of story they want to recommend to their friends. I think the highest compliment a book can receive is when one reader says to another: read this.

DM: Please describe your writing space.

TQT: I have a small office space in our home. It’s very cozy. My husband and I put in floor-to-ceiling bookshelves along one wall. The rest of the walls are hung with artwork from Mississippi, mostly Walter Anderson watercolors. My father built the desk I use, though I often end up sitting cross-legged in an upholstered chair rather than upright at a desk.

DM: Please share what you’re writing day is like.

TQT: I’m a morning writer. I like to get started first thing, before the rest of the world has a chance to get my attention. I rise early, usually around 5 a.m., and spend a few hours writing. I drink a lot of coffee. Around 9 or 10 a.m., I like to head out for a run or a yoga class, something physical. Often I’ll be hit with ideas or solutions to problems while I’m exercising. If so, I’ll come home and make some notes. I might tackle revision later in the day, but all the writing happens in the morning.

DM: How much does social media come into play when writing? Does it help or hinder your writing zone? Do you ever find yourself procrastinating on a project and getting lost in social media to escape what you need to get done?

TQT: It certainly can be a tremendous tool for procrastination. I have an app on my computer that shuts down social media access for a prescribed amount of time. I usually set it for at least two hours when I sit down to write. It takes away the temptation, which is very helpful.

DM: Are you a morning, afternoon or evening writer?

TQT: Morning, definitely.

DM: Do you outline?

TQT: Never.

DM: Did you know the ending of Three Rivers before you started writing it?

TQT: No. I’m definitely not a plotter. I discover the story as I write it. It’s not very efficient as I end up writing an awful lot of scenes that never make it into the final manuscript, but I don’t know another way. Too much planning makes my writing feel flat and uninspired.

DM: How did the writing process for Three Rivers start out? Did you start with the characters or research?

TQT: I start with the characters and with a basic idea for a scent.

DM: Are any of the characters based on real people in your life?

TQT: No.

DM: Did you research torrential rain and flooding across the globe or strictly focus on the Mississippi Delta?

TQT: I focused on the south, and mostly the Delta.

DM: Did you feel a connection between yourself and Melody? If so, was there a period in Melody’s life or scene that stands out as the a-ha moment where you were both in sync?

TQT: I feel some connection with all my characters. Melody is really trying to figure out what to do with her life. She’s disillusioned and disappointed. There was definitely a time in my twenties when I felt the same way. I used that to inform her character.

DM: What do you like the most about Melody?

TQT: She wants to do the right thing. She isn’t always sure what that is, but she tries to do right by the people who really matter to her. That’s a good quality, I think.

DM: Tiffany, are you happy with the way Three Rivers turned out?

TQT: Yes. It’s not perfect, but it’s the story I wanted to tell. I’m thrilled that people will be able to read it.

DM: What is the best part of writing and worse part of writing for you?

TQT: I like the process of discovery that comes with writing. I’m constantly learning new things. The worst part is that there’s no immediate gratification. It takes years to write a novel and the publishing process is long. That leaves a lot of room for self-doubt and insecurity to creep in, and those things can be debilitating.

DM: What is your favorite part of being a writer?

TQT: Telling stories.

DM: What three goals do you wish to accomplish with your writing career?

TQT: 1. Write another book. 2. Publish another book.

  1. Repeat.

DM: What is the one piece of advice you would give a budding writer on the road to publication?

TQT: It will be harder than you imagine, but it will be worth it.

DM: What do you think is the source of your own inspiration and energy?

TQT: Coffee and a strong will.

DM: Do you have any plans for another book? If so, what will it be about?

TQT: I’m working on another book now, but it’s still too soon for me to discuss what it’s about. I don’t like to talk too much about the details until the story is solid on the page.

DM: How do you handle your editing process?

TQT: Patiently.

DM: What was your inspiration for Three Rivers?

TQT: The idea began with the newspaper article I mentioned earlier. I’m not sure there was any one thing that inspired me. I’m a writer. This is the story I had to tell.

DM: How did your Mississippian culture Influence this book?

TQT: It influenced every part of this book. I am a Mississippian, even though I don’t live there anymore. I couldn’t have written this book if that weren’t true.

DM: Do you have a spiritual philosophy or a way of viewing life that guides you?

TQT: Not really. I work hard. I don’t give up. I try to keep learning new things. I keep an open mind. That’s how I get through life. It works for me.

DM: What do you do to pamper yourself?

TQT: Get a massage.

DM: What is your guiltiest pleasure?

TQT: Staying in my pajamas all day long on a Sunday and doing nothing more strenuous than the crossword puzzle. I don’t feel guilty about it, though.

DM: Salty or sweet?

TQT: Both. Think sea salt caramels and dark chocolate.

DM: Which season do you identify with the most and why?

TQT: Fall. I like the cooler days and the changing leaves. Also I get to wear boots. I love boots.

DM: Beach or mountain?

TQT: Mountain.

DM: Walking or cycling?

TQT: Walking

DM: What three novels are on your nightstand?

TQT: My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante, The Harder They Come by T.C. Boyle and Contenders by Erika Krouse.

Again, thank you so much, Tiffany.

Visit Tiffany’s website for the latest news.

Copyright © 2015 by Diane Morasco

Interview first appeared on Blogcritics.

Writers on Writing: Interview with Parris Afton Bonds – Co-founder and First Vice President of Romance Writers of America

Parris-230x300Parris Afton Bonds is the mother of five sons and the author of forty published novels. She is the co-founder and first vice president of Romance Writers of America as well as the cofounder of Southwest Writers Workshop, all of which jolted her closer to being committed to Bedlam, which she has managed to avoid so far by a pretense at sanity.

Declared by ABC’s Nightline as one of the three-best-selling authors of romantic fiction, the award winning Parris Afton Bonds has been interviewed by such luminaries as Charlie Rose and featured in leading newspapers and magazines as well as published in more than a dozen languages. A New York Times best seller, she provides her time to teaching creative writing to both grade school children and female inmates both of which are captive audiences.

The Parris Award was established in her name by the Southwest Writers Workshop to honor a published writer who has given exceptionally of time and talent to other writers. Prestigious recipients of the Parris Award include Tony Hillerman and the Pulitzer nominee Norman Zollinger.

What is the most important thing you’ve learned about writing?

The most important thing I have learned is that I must permit myself to write wrong; that I must not sweat and angst over this first draft.  By doing this, worry-free, I both increase my daily output and enhance it.

How has this helped you as a writer?

You know, Diane, this method of writing, permitting myself to make mistakes, has been most invaluable not just as a writer but as a human being.  Life flows much more effortlessly.  Not saying that I still don’t angst a little.

PAB Stardust

Mac or PC?

I use a PC.  I know, I know ~ Macs are supposed to be so much better, but I typed my first book when I was five-years-old on a Royal manual typewriter, so when it comes to making changes in the name of progress, I wail and stomp about and take years to come around to succumbing to change.

Do you use Word or Scrivener?

Word–for the same reason as the “Mac or PC” question.

Do you write or take notes with an iPad or tablet?

Neither.  Aren’t I a pathetic professional?

Do you have any writing rituals?

Yes, I spend the first hour or so each morning tending to the business/marketing/promotional side of writing ~ answering emails, etc.; then the switch to the creative side of writing flows more smoothly.

Do you start by writing or researching first?

I used to research first, because it required checking out many books from the library, and I would try to accomplish this in as few trips as possible.  Now, I just write first, then if I need to check a fact, I switch my screen to the Internet and voila in a matter of seconds or minutes, I find out what I need to know.

 PAB dust-devil-final

Favorite spot to write in the winter?

In a cubbyhole with no view.

Favorite spot to write in the summer?

Same as the above question.

 

Diane, thank you for giving me the opportunity to connect with your legion of readers!

Thank you so much, Parris, for your kind words. Most of all, thank you for giving me many, many full-circle moments. I remember curling up on my bed reading your books as a teen while escaping from an extremely chaotic and excruciating childhood. Reading is one of my most treasured childhood memories. I am grateful to you and all the phenomenal writers who have guided me through and continue to navigate me today with such magnificent stories. It is a gift I cherish.

 

Visit Parris’s website for all the latest news.

Copyright © 2016 by Diane Morasco

Review first appeared in Blogcritics.