I have completed one book so far, and that is Gypsy Phoenix: A Birthright of Hope. To give you a shortened highlight, I was relinquished for adoption at birth and even “taken.” But the people I knew as my parents all my life didn’t really want me after they were able to have “their own children” and so my [adoptive] mother’s parents took me in and for the most part, raised me until I was “big enough” to fend for myself in their daughter’s home. This book chronicles part of my upbringing and life as an unwanted adopted child, and some of the obstacles that I overcame.
Tell us something about yourself.
Where I’m from… well, that’s a good question, but again, I’ll try to be brief. Although my mother [birth-mom] is from Buffalo, I was born in Brownsville, Texas and then taken to another small rural town, in Louisiana – Gilbert. “Southern country girl” would definitely apply to me. I love to cook and experiment in the kitchen, and I have always loved to read. From that love, writing was just the natural course for me to follow (I also enter cooking contests). I have been writing poetry and short stories (but mostly poetry) since I was twelve or thirteen years old. Because I loved to read and write, I was a loner, preferring my own company over my siblings and even friends, sometimes.
What inspired you to write this book?
Funny you should ask that… because there is a reason behind this book, beyond the actual storyline within. One of my closest friends had a dream one night and called me the next day to tell me about it. In the dream, I was writing a book… when the tale of the dream ended, I was told that I really needed to write a book. That wasn’t the first time I had been told those words, but I had given up writing about five years prior to that and really had no “outlet” the way that writing had been to me, all my life. So I started writing again… and Gypsy Phoenix was born from my writing. My writing became my healing. On a side note, I recommend writing to anyone in need of therapy.
How did you choose the title?
The title wasn’t chosen by me – I have lived that title – it describes my life [so far]. The “gypsy” part of Gypsy Phoenix is fairly easy to explain (and I have elaborated on it further in the Prologue of the book). Gypsies can be described as nomadic travelers, never staying in one place too long. When I was younger, that was me. I liked to travel, and not just travel, but at the drop of a hat I could be in my car and on the road. That’s how much I enjoyed going from place to place. I gained life experiences that most of my peers did not, and saw many places in my travels. However, the gypsy in me was never satiated – and even though I have “settled down” with a husband and children, the gypsy lives in me to this day. I still have to appease her from time to time with a “spur of the moment” road trip.
The Phoenix in me lives still, as well. The story of the Phoenix tells of a legendary bird that lives for hundreds of years and upon reaching the end of its life, builds a nest, sets it aflame, and dive-bombs straight into it. After the “explosion” and burning of the “old bird,” a new, re-born Phoenix rises from the ashes, ready to live again. Well, that’s me. The fires of my life have forced me to rise many times from my own ashes; and the fires also purified me in the sense that I learned from every experience.
Because my life has been dominated by both the gypsy and the phoenix in a very real sense of both, I feel as if they chose me – not the other way around. As for the subtitle, A Birthright of Hope… Because I was first-born but relinquished, Hope was my birthright. It was my only birthright. Just as the phoenix rises from the ashes anew, the hope in me kept me rising, too.
What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?
The biggest obstacle I had in getting my book published was courage. I simply needed to “put on my big girl panties” and get with it. I overcame that particular “problem” with much prayer and support from my birth-family and church-family.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
I got started as a reader – I think that’s how every writer “gets started.” I loved reading, and I quickly learned that I enjoyed putting my thoughts down on paper. It was for me an outlet where I could express myself with no judgments from anyone – my writing was for me.
Do you have any writing rituals?
Writing rituals? Like using a certain pen or pencil or having a glass of wine when I finish? No. I don’t have any quirks that I incorporate into finishing a book. Well… I exhale. I feel as if I’ve been holding my breath the whole time I’m writing, but when I finish, I lean back in my chair and exhale and just sit there for a minute or two. Then I’m ready to “go again”!
How do you come up with the names for your characters?
This question doesn’t apply to Gypsy Phoenix, but I’ll tell you a bit about how I came up with character names for “another” book I’m working on. I imagine the setting for the characters: where they live, the era of time, the weather, the scenery, and the dress of the people (their clothing)… then I “try out” different names that “fit” the region of the area. I keep picking names until I’m comfortable with one for that character. For example: if there is a young girl in the Deep South who is tomboyish and lives in the city – her name might be Angelica simply because she was born a girl and her parents thought it was “lovely.” But because she’s such a tomboy, I would have to give her a nickname as well… something like “Jelly.” And that’s how I choose names for characters.
Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?
Yes, I did! First, I learned that publishing a book is not a “fast” process, nor is it easy or for the faint of heart. I had no idea that I’d be staying up until after two in the morning editing and re-writing, but I did. I found a greater respect for those in the publishing business and for what they do, every day.
If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?
I’m not sure this question can even apply to me – but I’m going to be submitting another manuscript [hopefully] by the end of 2010. What will I do differently? I have no idea.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
First and foremost, I read the Bible. It has the makings of any best-seller on the market (and in fact, is the best-seller). It has love, intrigue, mystery, sex, traitors, treachery, laws and lawbreakers, magic and miracles. I could go on and on, because it’s my favorite collection of books!
I also like reading true stories of real people, 99% of the time. I find that real people have the most interesting stories to tell and reality is stranger than fiction, most of the time. I do enjoy the “strangeness” and unique-ness of people. When I’m not reading auto-bios or biographies, I read westerns and Civil War writings and history works – I’ve found that the older I get, the more I enjoy learning about history.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
Yes! I’m working on the sequel to Gypsy Phoenix, because after publishing it, so many people emailed me or wrote letters to me, wanting information on what’s happened since the book ended. I’m almost positive that this will be the last book in that set, but I have two more books waiting for me to finish this one; they are both fiction.
I can tell you that you will have a hard time not crying in both joy and sorrow. I will also be able to tell you that my life, so far, has been really extraordinary and I believe others can benefit from just knowing that they’re not alone.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
First and foremost, don’t give up. If it’s in you, keep writing. Some obstacles are put in our paths to test our strengths and others to divert us. Make sure you know which one it is and act accordingly. Second, about publishing… I truly believe that you need to work with people you’re comfortable with, so when you’re looking for a publisher, be sure to read their “Mission Statements” page. If you’re not comfortable with that, you won’t be able to work “as a team” to get the best quality product in the end. And that’s what we all want.
Who is the perfect reader for your book?
Since my book has a strong adoption theme and based entirely on my perspectives as an adopted child [and step-parent], I believe that people who are associated with adoption in any form would be a “perfect reader.” Those people as a group cover a very large number: as an adoptee, an adoptive parent or sibling, a biological parent or sibling, a friend of one of these groups; perhaps a civil attorney or even a case-worker for adoptions would benefit from my experiences as an adopted child.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?
Gypsy Phoenix: A Birthright of Hope can be found on Facebook, Amazon, Borders, Barnes and Noble, Tate Publishing, and of course at my personal email address (for Author’s Copies, signed). Here are three links:
My personal E-mail [for Author’s Copies]: firstname.lastname@example.org