I was recently interviewed by author, D.G. Kaye, on her lovely blog. We chat about mermaids, fairies, gypsies, being a Pisces, unexpected life paths and how they led to becoming an author, following inner nudges, and writing with my eyes closed. Join us …
What hobbies do you enjoy when not writing?
Walking. Going for walks in nature, whether on a paved walking path, or a dirt trail in the woods. I adore going for walks, taking photographs of nature along the way. I find nature incredibly grounding, healing, and comforting. I attempt to infuse this, along with my energy into my writings and the nature photos I take.
Reading. I usually have about four books going at once. One book on writing, a fiction, a non- fiction, and a book that educates me on certain topics.
Another hobby is networking with other authors, interviewing them on a website I founded and facilitate – MeetingtheAuthors.com. I love meeting authors around the globe, developing and nourishing new friendships.
I also adore swimming. Although, we haven’t been able to do that yet this year. The new community we moved to in November 2019 has not finished construction of the pool. I’m a Pisces so each time I slip into the water, it feels like coming home. Going for swims, being in the water invigorates and brings such joy. I’m pretty sure I’m one part mermaid, one part fairy, and one party gypsy. I cannot wait for our pool to be finished!
D.G. – I hope that pool gets finished. I’m a Gemini – I need air! 🙂 And nice to meet someone who also reads 4 books at one time, lol.
Do your book ideas, or inspiration, grow from events in your daily life?
Being that my two books are memoirs, they are inspired by life events. My latest book published December 2019, Words of Alchemy, is a free-verse poetry memoir. I did not set out to write poetry, much less publish a book of poetry. Six years ago, poetry simply began to flow. When I decided last year that I was ready to publish a second book, I kept getting pulled back to the poetry. My first thought was that I did not want to publish a book of poetry. Who will buy it? HA! Yet, my heart and thoughts would not toss the idea aside. I finally leaned into it. I’m grateful that I listened as I feel it’s a beautiful book that has the ability to enrich others.
The first poem was sparked six years ago when I visited Fallen Leaf Lake and Mount Tallac. Standing in the sparkling snow, looking across the glass-like lake with Mount Tallac reflecting on its surface, broke open a piece of my closed heart, bringing me to tears. On the drive home, I made several stops to sit quietly at Lake Tahoe’s edge. By the time I made it home, I had written my first poem. Following that, poetry began to flow from the nature walks I take. Next, poems were inspired when revisiting the nature photos I took on these same walks. Lastly, the poetry began to flow from life experiences when writing in my journal or looking through the nature photos.
My first book published in 2012, D iz for Different – One Woman’s Journey to Acceptance, was written with the intention of writing a memoir.
In 2004, I became a parent to a child with special needs when my four year old daughter was diagnosed with 18p-, a chromosome deletion syndrome. (You can learn more about chromosome 18 differences by going here, http://www.Chromosome18.org.) In 2005 I left a ten year marriage, becoming a single parent to a one year old and five year old. I experienced financial ruin with all bills being in my name, having to file bankruptcy in 2009 as I could no longer pay the bills. I openly shared this journey, with the feedback being that what I shared was meaningful and helpful to others. That’s what lit the spark of the book idea.
So I knew I wanted and needed to write this book about acceptance of myself, acceptance of becoming a parent to a special needs child, acceptance of becoming a single parent, and acceptance of financial ruin. I just didn’t know the “how” of it. Two things happened to change that.
In the summer of 2011, I kept getting an inner nudge to clean the garage of items that had been boxed since the divorce. I pushed it aside as I did not have time to fool around with going through boxes. The nudge became so strong, magnetic even, that I could no longer concentrate on anything else. I gave in to it.
In one of the first few boxes I found a forgotten book that had been gifted to me, titled, E is for Entrepreneur. I opened the book to find a handwritten message to me that this book would not have happened if not for me. I completely forgot that in 2007 I ran a blog for women entrepreneurs and had invited this woman to write guest blog posts. She began writing a series of A-Z posts having to do with being an entrepreneur. I suggested that she should make her writings into a book. She did! And, she did it without telling me until the book was complete and I received a copy in the mail.
I read the book that night, waking up the next morning knowing that this is the style in which I should write my book. Hence, the title, D iz for Different. Each chapter is a letter of the alphabet. A is for Acceptance, B is for Better, C is for Courage, and so forth. The book hit #1 in Special Needs Parenting on Amazon and #2 in Self-help on Amazon. It was a pretty amazing ride!
During that same summer, I was sharing my book idea with a dear friend who already had one published book, and was working on another. He casually asked how far along I was and when it would be published. That question turned the spark into a flame. The next morning I began getting up 30 minutes earlier, writing a section each morning. I had the book written in about 3 months and published in less than a year. Thank you to Brian Benson for asking me that question and for being such an amazing supporter!
D.G. – Don’t you just love those subtle nudges from the universe. It does pay to follow the signs! I commend you on being an empowering warrior woman Camilla. I shall look forward to reading your memoir. 🙂
How many books have you written? Do you have a favorite of your books and if so, why?
I have written the two books mentioned above. In addition, I’ve co-authored a book with my son titled, Biggest Little Photographer and co-authored a book with my daughter titled, Where Would You Fly and Other Magical Stories. So, four total.
Biggest Little Photographer is a collection of photographs my son, Thomas, took during a 365 day photo a day photography project. When he was 8 years old, we read an article about a professional photographer taking a LEGO mini figure with a LEGO camera to exotic locations and taking photos of the mini figure taking a photo. My son asked if he could do the same. I told him that he could and that if he stayed with it and finished the project that we would publish the photos in a book. About a month or two into the project, Thomas came to me and shared that this was a hard project and he thought he wanted to stop. I gave him that option, asking him to think about how it would feel if he finished, and how it would feel if he didn’t finish. He decided to move forward with the project, continuing to take a photo every day for 365 days. The book contains about half of the photographs.
Where Would You Fly is a collection of short stories, fairy tales, and poems written by my daughter, Lillian, from the time she was 4 years old through 15 years old. I wrote the introduction and helped with the early writings. As mentioned above, Lillian has a chromosome deletion called 18p-. The main way this manifests is that she has difficulty articulating words. She has them all in her mind, she just struggles to get them out. It’s been an exciting journey for her as she’s been invited to three book signings at Barnes & Noble and both of us will be attending with each of our books when shops fully open again.
I just can’t pick a favorite as these books are all so very different, with each holding a special and dear place in my heart.
D.G. – That is so beautiful your children are also published!
What can you tell us you’ve gained from blogging as an author?
Blogging has been key. The first time I came across the term “blog” was just after my divorce in 2006. I got another of those inner nudges that I should teach myself all I could about blogs. I followed that knowing with purchasing my name and my kids’ names as domain names. I just knew that we would be needing them at some point in our lives.
Lillian and I began blogging in 2007 on a site we created together called, PinkElephantBooks.com. Some of her writings from that blog are in Where Would You Fly. I think it was 2008 or 2009, when I began to blog solely on CamillaDowns.com and she began to blog on her website at LillianDarnell.com. Thomas hasn’t used his blog in quite some time, but when he was younger he actively posted on it at ThomasADarnell.com.
Some of the writings in D iz for Different grew from blog posts and many of the poems in Words of Alchemy were first shared on my blog or our family blog at TheTeamTLC.com. Blogging has been key for that reason. It has also served as a sort of root system for sharing in all manner of places online and throughout social media. Think of the blog and blog posts as tree roots, with each time you share a blog post, or someone reads it and shares it as the trunk of the tree, the further sharing and traffic back to the blog being the limbs of the tree. Growing and growing and growing. Turning into a freeway for blog traffic, a freeway to your writings. And, those links never go away (unless the domain goes away).
A blog is something solid that you can refer people to as well, looking more official than sharing a post you’ve written on Facebook, instagram or twitter. Another benefit of having a blog has been anytime I have written a guest post, or had an article published somewhere, or have been interviewed, I include an announcement about it on my blog, with a link back to the original post. The more your name is anchored online, the more you will appear in search results.
D.G. – Great idea to set up the blogs, and wonderful for the children too!
Do you have an interesting writing quirk or habit that helps you with your writing?
Yes, I think so. I do my writing on the laptop as my hands begin to ache after about 10 minutes of handwriting. Many of the poems in Words of Alchemy were written with my eyes closed. Once the words began to flow, they were coming so fast, I could see them better and catch as many as possible with my eyes closed. This seems to help get my mind out of the way, so the words can flow freely.
To read the full interview, please follow this link …
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“Words of Alchemy”, published December 2019, is a free-verse poetry memoir covering the last 6 years of my life. The poetry of nature, the poetry of healing, the poetry of appreciation, the poetry of love, in one beautiful book.