Writing With My Eyes Closed – Author D.G. Kaye Interviews Camilla

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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 …

Q & A with D.G. Kaye Features Camilla Downs – Words of Alchemy

Blessings,
Camilla

See It. Share It. BE IT … Spread Love Everywhere You Go!

“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.

Amazing news! My 19 year old daughter, Lillian Darnell’s debut book, “Where Would You Fly and Other Magical Stories” was published January 2018. Learn more and order here

Wonderfully exciting news! My 14 year old son, Thomas Darnell‘s book, Biggest Little Photographer is published. Be inspired! Learn more and order here.

We Are Family – A Dedication to Mary Armstrong

On Tuesday, September 8, 2020, I was overcome with warm childhood memories of my Aunt Mary, along with feeling her with me, followed by a knowing that her time was short. I did not know that she had recently taken a fall and had developed life threatening blood clots. In fact, I had not spoken with her in years, except through facebook.

On Thursday, September 10, 2020, I received two facebook messages from cousins letting me know that she had passed away an hour and a half earlier. Although I have not been home (the Jackson, Mississippi area) since 2005, I have fond, fun, heart warming memories of Aunt Mary during my childhood, teenage years, and early adult years.

I have been on and off sad and letting the tears flow since finding out, thinking of those memories, and also thinking of my own mortality and that of my mom, dad, and Frank.

I felt moved to write about my feelings and these memories, wanting to also get them outside of my mind while they are still clear and crisp, and as a dedication to my Aunt Mary. If any of my cousins, aunts or uncles, or my mom or dad have anything to add to this, I would love for you to share.


(This is from one of the last visits I made … Summer of 2002 – taken in New Orleans at my dad’s house, from left to right: Robert Downs (my dad), Aunt Mary, Aunt Carolyn, Uncle Millard – Siblings)

There was the home made macaroni and cheese she made for all the holiday gatherings. I loved her mac n cheese, the creaminess of it, with the cheese browned perfectly on top. We had very large family gatherings for holidays when I was growing up, with so much food I cannot even remember it all. Six or more different types of pies (coconut, lemon meringue, pumpkin, sweet potato, chocolate cream, pecan), two or more different kinds of cakes (chocolate, vanilla with coconut frosting), homemade candy (divinity, pecan pralines), turkey, ham, creamed corn, black eyed peas, okra, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, butter beans, snap beans, cornbread, rolls, sweet tea, and unsweetened tea.

I remember Aunt Mary’s loudness and boldness. She was not a shy, quiet person. She had big energy.

I remember all of the trips to Liberty Land in Memphis, Tennessee. She would gather whoever wanted to go, and drive us from Jackson to Memphis. Of course, always stopping at Graceland as she was a HUGE Elvis fan.

I remember the wooden hope chests she got for each of her nieces. Each with a lovely hand painted landscape. I still have mine, packed with memories, rather than hopes.

I remember the many camping trips with her and Uncle Jerry. So many camping trips. Again gathering who ever wanted to go and off we went. I remember the many times in Bogalusa, Louisiana, floating down the Bogue Chitto River in warm black tubes, of course, always one for the ice chest too. I remember receiving my first kiss on one of these camping trips, from another young man who was camping with his family.

There was a time that Aunt Mary made ceramics. She was all in for this, having huge kilns in sheds in the backyard, and going to craft fairs at malls, setting up tables in the middle of the mall with the dozens of other craft makers. I have memories of going with her and Uncle Jerry to these events, much of the time they were not very close to home. I’m pretty sure my cousin Stephanie was a part of this, too. We’d help get everything set up, then we’d wander off, walking the mall, window shopping, trying on clothes, and flirting, I’m sure. When it was over, we’d help break down, loading everything that didn’t sell. I still have a ceramic Easter egg Aunt Mary made for me in 1984. I’m not sure I have anything else, most likely broken along the way, or discarded with the many moves and moving more towards minimalism.

I remember when my mom and dad were still married, and my Aunt Mary, my mom, me and cousins went to see fire works at the mall, July the 4th maybe. We drove in mom’s purple fiat spider (if I’m remembering correctly), watching the fireworks right from the car as the top was down. I will never forget the song, “We Are Family”, coming on at some point, and we were all singing, bouncing, and bopping around in the car. I was very happy in that moment.

I remember when I went home for a visit in July 1998, for my 10 year high school reunion, and to have an engagement party while there, since none of my family would be traveling to Washington state for my wedding in October (except for my dad and my two brothers). I remember how much fun my Aunt Mary seemed to have at the party. That woman could dance. She danced ’til she was dripping with sweat, and could dance no more. (I have a photo of her dancing, as soon as I come across those photos, I’ll come back and post it here.)  I’m almost positive one of the songs she was getting down to was The Twist, by Chubby Checker …

I remember watching old home movies at Aunt Mary’s house. She had reels and reels of film.

I remember huge Easter egg hunts in her back yard. This was serious business for our family. The adults probably hid around 200 eggs, taping coins on them, hiding some in difficult to find spots with $1 or $5 bills taped to them!


(Camilla at a 1973 Easter egg hunt)

I remember walking across the street to Aunt Mary’s house, from my grandmother’s house, walking in the side door, and helping myself to food and goodies, staying to chat if anyone was home. I don’t remember many house doors being locked growing up. Even as a teen in high school, I would stop by my best friend’s house, go inside, have something to eat, find some clothes to borrow (we wore each others clothes), or take a nap even!

I remember one Christmas I got a ten speed bicycle. We were living with my grandmother at the time. I hopped on it for the first time, leaving from my grandmother’s carport, down the slope of the driveway, into the street, and realizing I didn’t know how to stop the damn thing (hand brakes, instead of pedal brakes). I kept going straight into my Aunt Mary’s driveway, underneath her carpet, trying to slow myself with my feet, with the wall of the shed completing the stop for me. Yes. I banged right into the wall, scratching my hand, but otherwise all good.

I remember climbing the plum trees in her backyard, finding the ripe plums, plucking them from the tree, and eating them right there.

I remember that time in her backyard that I jumped off the trampoline and landed directly in the middle of a bed of fire ants. Have you ever pissed off fire ants? They don’t mess around. When Aunt Mary realized what had happened she scooped me up, took me to the bathroom, turned on the bathwater, ripped my clothes off, and plopped me in the tub.

I do wish I had let you know how much these memories mean to me, how much you meant to me in my early life, Aunt Mary. I will walk into the pain of not having shared this with you, and know that somehow you receive this message. I love you.


(Recent photo of Aunt Mary, posted by one of my cousins)

Blessings,
Camilla

See It. Share It. BE IT … Spread Love Everywhere You Go!

“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.

Amazing news! My 18 year old daughter, Lillian Darnell’s debut book, “Where Would You Fly and Other Magical Stories” was published January 2018. Learn more and order here

Wonderfully exciting news! My 14 year old son, Thomas Darnell‘s book, Biggest Little Photographer is published. Be inspired! Learn more and order here.

 

 

Latest News: Words of Alchemy – Camilla on Chat and Spin Radio

I was recently on Chat And Spin Radio, an Internet Radio Station based in the UK. My interview begins at 1:35 if you’re in a hurry. They play awesome music, too!

Blessings,
Camilla

See It. Share It. BE IT … Spread Love Everywhere You Go!

“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.

Amazing news! My 18 year old daughter, Lillian Darnell’s debut book, “Where Would You Fly and Other Magical Stories” was published January 2018. Learn more and order here

Wonderfully exciting news! My 14 year old son, Thomas Darnell‘s book, Biggest Little Photographer is published. Be inspired! Learn more and order here.

Throwback Post: Fifty Things I Am Proud Of

**THROWBACK POST**

(Written sometime in 2017)


(from a July 2020 walk – taken by me)

**2020 Updated Content in Bold** This was inspiring and fun to stumble across. 

50 Things I Am Proud of:

  1. Wrote and published a book in less than a year with no money (4 published now)
  2. Organized and Published Thomas’ book with very little money in less than a year
  3. Sorted and organized and published Lillian’s book in less than a year with no money
  4. Raised Thomas and Lillian alone … so far. Lillian 16 and Thomas 12. (18 and 14 now)
  5. Had a natural child birth with both of them.
  6. Awakened and become enlightened to compassion and love of all beings, animals, and nature.
  7. Become vegetarian. (Vegan since 2018)
  8. Volunteering with Lillian at the Library (We were still doing this up until COVID. Library is re-opening today, but only for picking up holds. No volunteers yet.)
  9. Volunteering with Thomas at the Humane Society (Same except they are ready for volunteers again.)
  10. Become comfortable in my own skin and this body and no longer wearing makeup (Still not wearing make-up, except for colored lip balm – I have no f**** to give about this .. )
  11. Loving trees (My love of trees has grown even more)
  12. Passing the Library Testing with the acceptable percentage (I would love to work part time in the library … still waiting!)
  13. My daily meditation practice (Currently on break from this, and will resume in 2021)
  14. My walking practice (Still doing this)
  15. Learning about and practicing mindfulness 
  16. Writing on my blog continuously since 2009 (Still doing this)
  17. Writing continuously on The Team TLC Blog (Still doing this)
  18. Encouraging Lillian to become more independent 
  19. Learning about and practicing unconditional love
  20. Becoming more and more peaceful
  21. Not using the microwave for about 6 or 7 years now (Still not using)
  22. Getting rid of TV in 2008 (Still don’t have one)
  23. Not using the dishwasher (Now that we have a new, energy efficient dishwasher, I am using that again)
  24. Simplifying and decluttering
  25. Learning the art of detachment
  26. Becoming Reiki certified
  27. Walking into my shadows and darkness
  28. Learning and practicing the art of emotional connection
  29. Becoming more in tune with my intuition
  30. Journal writing for however long I’ve been doing it (I’ve slacked off for 2020, but will resume this soon)
  31. Discovering the Wild Woman Within Me
  32. Learning to trust myself
  33. Forgiving myself and others
  34. Working at releasing shame and guilt
  35. Learning about and practicing detachment
  36. Letting go of materialism
  37. Teaching Thomas and Lillian about real food
  38. Teaching T & L about mindfulness and emotional connection
  39. Teaching T & L about spirituality
  40. Having a once a month date day with T & L since they were toddlers (Still doing this)
  41. Having our movie night tradition one night per week since Lillian was born (Still doing this)
  42. Reading together … although Thomas has moved away from being involved. We stayed strong at doing it together for 12 years!
  43. Instilling a love of books and reading to T & L
  44. Mentoring and modeling for them respect for all humans – no matter there race, religion, financial status … 
  45. Instilling a love of nature for T & L
  46. Teaching T & L about the ego and psyche as opposed to our true self, divine self
  47. Learning to feel the energy within
  48. Learning about stillness and silence
  49. Taking T & L to the conference every summer (Still doing this – 2020 Conference was cancelled due to COVID)
  50. Letting my light shine more and more …

(I recently changed the hosting company for this website, along with all other websites I manage. In the aftermath, my draft posts got deleted. Oh no! Fortunately, they were in the back up and could be reinstalled. However, the original draft dates were deleted. I’m taking that as a sign that it’s time to do cleanup and housekeeping.)

Blessings,
Camilla

See It. Share It. BE IT … Spread Love Everywhere You Go!

“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.

Amazing news! My 18 year old daughter, Lillian Darnell’s debut book, “Where Would You Fly and Other Magical Stories” was published January 2018. Learn more and order here

Wonderfully exciting news! My 14 year old son, Thomas Darnell‘s book, Biggest Little Photographer is published. Be inspired! Learn more and order here.

What Led to My First Book and Five Fun Facts – Jess Interviews Camilla

I’m chatting with Jess about my weird aversion to doing anything the typical way, how the ending of my 10 year marriage led to my first book, and imposter syndrome. Join us …

Today I had the honor of sitting down with author, book blogger, and the face behind Meeting The Authors, Camilla Downs. In addition to being a generous voice for authors and a powerful force of positivity, Camilla has a number of books of her own, and we’ll talk about that in a bit.

JF: Let’s start out with five fun facts about you. Go.

I swear a lot!
I love having solo dance parties.
I’m finally cleaning photos from my iPhone. I had about 10,000!
I haven’t had a television since 2008.
I’m actually a very lazy person!

JF: Do you have a day job? If so, what is it? What other jobs have you held? Have they influenced your writing?

Before I became a mom, I was a paralegal for 10 years and before that I worked in the mortgage industry. My attention to detail and tenacity to figure things out in these previous careers is part of my personality. This carries into my life experiences, including my writing.

My day job for the past 18 years has been being mom to my two kids, 18 year old Lillian, and 14 year old Thomas. I’ve homeschooled (well, unschooled them) for the past 5 or 6 years, with Lillian graduating in June 2019. Lillian is special needs, having a chromosome deletion called 18p-, so I’ve been her caretaker too.

Throughout the past 13 years, I have had many “jobs” so that I could focus on being a parent, being in charge of my own schedule. I’ve made jewelry, been a social media consultant, been a substitute teacher, Reiki practitioner, mentor, delivered newspapers, dog walking, and cat sitting.

JF: Wow! That sounds like a lot of material right there! What experiences in particular have inspired your writing?

Life. Pain, heartache, sorrow, joy, accomplishments, learning and growing … My life experiences paired with a walking practice and nature photography are my inspiration.

JF: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I like to go for walks, capturing nature with photography. I love to lounge around the house (my sanctuary), in comfortable clothes, reading or having a movie night with my kids, at times having a solo movie night. When inspiration is sparked, I like to create artwork using items from nature; rocks, twigs, branches, sea glass. It’s fun and empowering to see what I can create using beauties I’ve collected on walks.

JF: Is there a particular place you’ve been that gives you inspiration?

Fallen Leaf Lake, Mount Tallac and Lake Tahoe were the catalyst for poetry to begin. When I visited Fallen Leaf Lake with Mount Tallac in the background, it woke something that caused me to sob with knowing. On the drive home, I made several stops around Lake Tahoe. By the time I arrived home, I had written my first poem titled, Earth Dance.


(Lake Tahoe – photo taken by me)

JF: That is powerful! Can you tell us about your writing process?

I am something altogether different. I mean, my first book was titled, D iz for Different! I have this weird aversion to doing anything the typical way. I write as I’m inspired. My life is the plot.

JF: Do you read your reviews? How do you handle ones that are not so great?

Yes, I read reviews. I don’t have a thick skin. I completely fall apart with not so great reviews. Although, the older I’ve gotten, the less I care what others think.

JF: What inspired you to take the leap and write that first book?

In 2006, my 10 year marriage fell apart. I became a single parent to one year old Thomas, and five year old Lillian. Lillian had been diagnosed just 2 years earlier with 18p-. Beginning in 2009, I openly shared my life experiences through my blog and social media, including how I was processing events, handling things, or not handling things. The feedback received solidified into a gut knowing that I was to write a memoir of my experiences. D iz for Different – One Woman’s Journey to Acceptance was published in February 2012.

JF: Are you traditionally published, self-published, both or neither? Why did you choose that path? What are some of the good things and bad things about doing it that way?

I began as a self-publisher. Now, with 4 published books, I’m an indie publisher under my own imprint of Loving Kindness Books. The good: having control and freedom. The bad: not having a larger publishing company’s support, guidance, and marketing assistance.

JF: What is the one thing you wish you’d known about writing before you started doing it seriously?

I wish I’d known about imposter syndrome before I finally figured out what that was, and how it affected me. It still happens, but I’m better at recognizing it, and not letting it stop me.

JF: That’s good advice for all of us! Now, what about your books?

My latest book, Words of Alchemy, is a collection of free verse poetry from the past six years. It’s a memoir of life experiences, how I view them, and how I moved forward, or didn’t move forward! It’s not what I expected my next published book to be, yet, my intuition kept pulling me back to it. I’ve learned to listen to my intuition, that there’s a reason.

Since I’m the main character, I’d say my emotional arc throughout this collection is one of a steady, ongoing rise. I’ll be completely honest. Since I write non-fiction, I had never heard of the term emotional arc. I researched it, and whether or not it’s proper to assign an emotional arc in a non-fiction, I’ve done it. HA!

JF: Where did you get the idea for the title and book cover?

Every time I had an idea for the title, I would note it in a “Thoughts for the Title” file. Words of Alchemy was one of those ideas. Being that writing has been therapeutic for me, helping me to alchemize my experiences, this seemed a perfect fit. In the longer poems, you can see how by the end of the poem, the experience was alchemized, changed. I also check to see if the title is an available domain. If it is, I purchase it right away, redirecting it to a page on my website.

The photo of the dandelion, or puff ball, as I’ve seen it called, is one I took on a walk. It was a sunny day, I walked by a patch of puff balls, picked one to make a wish and blow the seeds. I had a thought, wondering what it would look like if I held it just so, where the puff ball covered the sun, and took photos. It turned out pretty good, in my opinion!

JF: What idea would you like your readers to take away from this collection?

I feel each person’s take away will be a bit different, depending on where they are in life. It blesses me when a reader is inspired, when their appreciation for life, for nature, for experiences is rekindled, when they find a poem or two that truly speaks to them and their experiences. When a reader feels a camaraderie, a knowing that they are not alone, that’s the reason I began sharing my life and writings. No star rating can top that.

JF: What’s next for you?

I’m taking this year for rejuvenation. I’ve been on a 13-year healing journey, of diving deep into myself. It’s been exhausting, overwhelming, unlovely at times; balanced with many times of joy, success, and peace. It’s been completely and utterly worth it.

The beginning of 2020 was the tipping point. I’m on the other side of it now, ready to relax and regroup. I’m being very relaxed about writing. If I write, good. If I don’t, good. Now that my mental and emotional health have been looked after, I’m looking after my physical health this year.

There will be more books. I’m just not sure what they will be. I know there will be at least one more memoir, and would love to write a creative non-fiction. I also get the feeling there’s a fiction in me waiting for the perfect time.

In short, I plan on enjoying the fruit of 13 years of laborious healing.

Go here to read the full interview …

Meeting the Author: Camilla Downs

Throwback Post: If You Can Walk Through It

**THROWBACK POST**

November 2016

My art fortune from Pan received earlier this month. Things got crazy busy with Biggest Little Photographer and this got buried in papers. Just came across it again.

I had just met Pan minutes earlier. He did not know the ideas that come to me daily nor that walking is so deeply intertwined with who I be.

Win the day, I have to say, forthcoming, will be the way. …… Walk With Me and Lessons from Nature ….. I AM Ready …. xoxo

art-fortune-for-camilla-by-pan-december-2016

(I recently changed the hosting company for this website, along with all other websites I manage. In the aftermath, my draft posts got deleted. Oh no! Fortunately, they were in the back up and could be reinstalled. However, the original draft dates were deleted. I’m taking that as a sign that it’s time to do cleanup and housekeeping.)

Blessings,
Camilla

See It. Share It. BE IT … Spread Love Everywhere You Go!

“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.

Amazing news! My 18 year old daughter, Lillian Darnell’s debut book, “Where Would You Fly and Other Magical Stories” was published January 2018. Learn more and order here

Wonderfully exciting news! My 14 year old son, Thomas Darnell‘s book, Biggest Little Photographer is published. Be inspired! Learn more and order here.

Latest News: Time for a Change


(from a recent walk at Scripts Wildlife Preserve – 2020)

I had mentioned in an earlier post that I would post an update with changes to where I focus my time.

In regards to MeetingtheAuthors.com, I will be posting less frequently. I absolutely love offering this venue to authors, and will continue to do so. I very much enjoy meeting authors and book bloggers around the globe. It’s deeply satisfying.

I had been posting two interviews a week, with either a Book Shelf, Meet the Book Blogger, or Friday with Friends post also. I’m taking it down to one interview per week, one Friday with Friends per month, one Meet the Book Blogger per month (or less if no book bloggers have returned responses to questions), with Book Shelf posts sporadically.

I’m notching down the amount of time spent on social media. For me that means facebook, twitter, and instagram. I will monitor each of them daily. However, I will only post and scroll through the feeds on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and half of Sunday.

I will continue to go for my beloved walks, taking photographs of nature, and try to have more day and overnight adventures with Thomas and Lillian (once we’re able to safely visit places.)


(A recent hike around Spooner Lake – 2020)

I am working on reassessing my personal goals, dreams, and how I want my life to look during my golden 50’s. I am working really hard at not feeling like I have to be giving to society in some way, shape, or form at all times, knowing that it is okay to just be.

This week and next I am working on a challenge from my friend, Leisa Peterson, author of the newly released book, The Mindful Millionaire. This challenge is helping me to think about generating money with what I love to do, using skills that I have and things I’ve already produced. I don’t typically like these kinds of challenges or classes, but I was moved to accept this one.

I absolutely want to write and publish more books. I’m pretty sure I won’t know what that looks like until later this year or early next year. In the mean time, I’ll continue to be open, listen to my intuition, my heart, and to take action when inspired, when it comes to adventuring and how to generate money.

I spent much time the week before last and beginning of this last week, researching and discussing with Thomas different schooling options. He’s been homeschooled for the last four years, and he wanted to try something different this year. Since this is his first year of high school, we needed to make sure he’s going to be covering what is needed for entering college if that’s the route he chooses.

His first day of his new schooling situation was Tuesday, the 18th. I think. HA! All the days run together these days. I still need to take a belated first day of school photo! 😜

He’s attending an online private school for this year. So far, for the future we are thinking that next year or the next, he’ll enter a dual credit situation where he finishes high school while also earning college credits. Things could change by then, but this is the plan for now.

He is absolutely loving it. It’s set up so that when he finishes a class, he can begin the next class, for the next grade right away. You do not have to spend an entire school year on the subject/class if you move through it quicker. We’ll see if he continues to enjoy it. He loves learning, and right now his favorite topic is World History. Once he finishes the 6 credits he’s taking now, we’ll look at the situation again.

Plus having conversations with Thomas about why his dad never calls him, as he contacts Lillian here and there. Doing my best to make sure he knows it has nothing to do with him, and everything to do with his dad, as he thinks his dad does not like him. Don’t get me wrong. I (mostly) don’t bad mouth his dad, yet it’s freakin’ breaking my heart.

I mean. He’s always had Thomas’s phone number. Lillian will text him to tell him Thomas is being mean to her, or whatever, and his response back is, that’s because he’s being raised by a single mother. He has no idea what an amazing and wonderful human Thomas is …. Last time I spoke to him, last December, I reminded him that he has Thomas’s phone number and to call or text him. His response was that he didn’t know what to say to him.

Also, working with Lillian to see where she would like to focus her energies, creating goals, and looking at possible classes that would be helpful for these. So far, it’s moving at the pace of a sloth … 😂😜🤣 … Here are a couple of photos of each of them on recent date days (I have a date day with each one of them once per month).

I will let all of this play out organically, not being rigid about any of it. That’s how I’m gonna roll with it … xoxo

PS – I wrote this on the 24th. During the challenge with Leisa today, the 25th, the guided meditation and a resource she provided helped me to know something about myself that I had never known. Blew my mind, brought sobs, and I feel so much better now than I had been feeling. Thank you, Leisa!!! xoxo

Blessings,
Camilla
See It. Share It. BE IT … Spread Love Everywhere You Go!

“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.

Amazing news! My 18 year old daughter, Lillian Darnell’s debut book, “Where Would You Fly and Other Magical Stories” was published January 2018. Learn more and order here

Wonderfully exciting news! My 14 year old son, Thomas Darnell‘s book, Biggest Little Photographer is published. Be inspired! Learn more and order here.

Positive Ripple Effect of Packing My Energy Into Poetry – An Interview on Books and Wine Gums

In mid-June 2020, I was interviewed by Emma on her lovely Books and Wine Gums blog. We chat about deciding what goes into my writings and what stays private, found poetry, why I think poetry is enjoying a resurgence in popularity, what I “pack into” my writings, imposter syndrome, wine gums, and dark chocolate …

Hi Camilla. Let’s start at the beginning. Where does a new poem begin for you? Do you have an idea you wish to explore, or do they stem from an image? Or is it something completely different?

In the beginning of my poetry writing, new poems stemmed from being in nature. Following that, the poetry flowed from nature photos I took while out for walks. After that poetry began to flow simply from life experiences. Let me expand a bit.

The first poem was inspired about 6 years ago when visiting Fallen Leaf Lake near my home in Reno, Nevada, USA. I had never written poetry before this. The beauty of the lake, with Mount Tallac at its edge, stirred something within me, bringing me to tears. On the drive home, I made several stops along Lake Tahoe, deepening the experience. By the time I got home, the first poem had formed.

During walks, I take many photographs which I began sharing on social media. I would normally say a few words about the beauty of nature. One day when I was choosing a photo to post, a poem flowed instead of my normal few words. This began to happen nearly every time I posted a photo.

After the initial period, life experiences became meshed with the poetry that flowed from the photographs. The last phase happened during journal writing. Every once in a while, a poem would flow during my morning journal writing.

I suppose what I’m saying is that it was a progression and combination of experiences that inspired the poetry.

I love that idea, the way the process has evolved. In ‘Emerge’ you talk about a ‘darkness that / Has been necessary’ and you describe your new collection as a ‘free-verse poetry memoir’ – how do you decide what will go into your writing, and what stays private?

My writings are intuitively guided. It’s usually not a conscious decision. However, on my blog, there are times when I specifically set out to write about a certain topic. As far as what stays private, I try to let myself be guided by my heart and intuition, not letting worries of what others think deter me. I hold the belief that if I’m guided to share something, there is a larger reason than I may be aware, usually that others will benefit from reading of my experiences. I trust that there can be a positive ripple effect from the experiences that I publicly share.

I love the idea of shared experiences through our reading being something we then draw upon. Which other forms of poetry do you like to explore? Who are your influences?

I love Found Poetry. I collect books destined for the trash and randomly tear out a page. I then scan through looking for words and phrases that catch my eye and cut them out. Laying them on a clip board, I keep moving from one word and phrase to another until I’ve put together a mini poem (attaching a photo). I include one in almost every signed book I mail. Wikipedia defines found poetry as: ‘Found poetry is a type of poetry created by taking words, phrases, and sometimes whole passages from other sources and reframing them by making changes in spacing and lines, or by adding or deleting text, thus imparting new meaning.’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Found_poetry

I also like to write a Haiku here and there. I participated in a fun Haiki author interview a few weeks ago, and had to be creative with answering.

That is so cool! Why do you think poetry is enjoying something of a resurgence in popularity?

I’m not sure I have a solid answer for this. From my perspective, I enjoy poetry because it has the ability to be incredibly powerful without needing to be 300 pages long. Perhaps that’s one reason for the resurgence. We are experiencing deep, vital shifts in humanity. Poetry captures this in short and powerful bursts.

I absolutely agree. What would you like your readers to take away from your work?

When I write and take nature photographs, my energy is packed into the writing and photograph. When a reader closes one of my books, I want for them to have felt the energy within the writing, connecting with one or more pieces of writing. Connected in a way that helps them view differently, inspires them, opens their heart, and lets them know they are not alone. Or simply brings a smile, a laugh, or a tear. Every encounter with my writings or photography need not be deep. The connection is the important piece.

Describe the process you go through when puting a collection of work together. What’s the drafting and editing process like for you?

Beginning six years ago, whenever I wrote a poem, I posted it on my blog, correcting spelling errors, not really being concerned with grammar. When I decided last year that I would gather my poetry for the past six years for publishing as a book, the first step was to gather the poems into one place. Then I read through deciding on overriding themes. Once the poems were assigned a theme, proofreading and editing for spelling and grammar followed. Proofreading, proofreading, proofreading over and over again until no further mistakes are found. For final proofreading sessions, I read the material out loud, as for some reason, mistakes stand out when material is read out loud. For me, anyway.

What is the best part of being a writer? And the worst?

There are two aspects I find to be pretty amazing. One is the wonderful authors and book bloggers that I meet online. It’s quite the feeling to connect with like-minded people around the world, and just plain fun. The other aspect is the feedback received from my writings. Hearing how words I have written have benefited others is the most magical aspect of writing.

The worst part is actually one of the best parts once we recognize it. Imposter syndrome. I’m pretty sure just about every creative person experiences it. However, I didn’t know what it was, or meant, years ago. Not knowing what it is, self doubt can become crippling and depressing. Once I was made aware of what it is, it was easier to recognize it, let it be, yet, continue to move forward with creating.

That’s an excellent way to deal with Imposter Syndrome. What other advice would you give to a new writer who is just starting out?

I feel the most important aspect is to just write. Not letting fear, or feelings of inadequacy stop you. Write every day. No one has to see anything you write. It’s for your eyes only. Until you decide it’s for other eyes. Write, have tenacity, and read books that inspire you and your writings.

Finally – wine gums or chocolate as your creative snack of choice?

Okay. I had to research wine gums. I had no idea! It would depend on my mood. If I’m feeling playful and silly, I’d go with the wine gums. If I’m feeling grounded and content, I’d go for a piece of lovely dark chocolate. Heavenly to even think about.

Go here to read the full interview …

An Interview with … Camilla Downs

Blessings,
Camilla
See It. Share It. BE IT … Spread Love Everywhere You Go!

“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.

Amazing news! My 18 year old daughter, Lillian Darnell’s debut book, “Where Would You Fly and Other Magical Stories” was published January 2018. Learn more and order here

Wonderfully exciting news! My 14 year old son, Thomas Darnell‘s book, Biggest Little Photographer is published. Be inspired! Learn more and order here.

Brings Nature into the Heart of the Family – Words of Alchemy

“A beautiful and heartfelt collection that brings nature into the heart of the family in a very comforting way. The links to the authors children are very endearing and makes the whole book feel ‘real’, and the poems they collaborate on are wonderful. Recommend for fans of nature poetry, wellness inspiration and especially mothers. Personal favourite would be ‘Dance’, I love the short and sweet format and the almost fairy-like tone, absolutely lovely.” – Megan

Learn more here …

Words of Alchemy

 

The Second Week – Stay at Home Vacation and Social Media Break

I took a break from blogging and social media for two weeks, July 26, 2020 – August 9, 2020. I wrote about how this came about here …

Latest News: More on the Vacation Time

I was moved to share my thoughts and what happened for me during the first week of the break here:

The First Week – Stay at Home Vacation and Social Media Break

The second week went much smoother (August 2 – August 9, 2020). After taking the time to write about my experiences with the previous post, I was able to go with the flow better.

I began the week by giving Lillian a haircut. Thanks to our friend and hairdresser, Kathy, for finding the best “how to” video for me and for giving me tips. I think I did a good job as there was no meltdown afterwards and Lillian seemed happy with it, and still does.

I received a book that I’d won a couple of months ago. It’s a beautiful and informative book. That was a fun surprise to receive in the mail!

I went for several early morning walks by myself and several after dinner walks with Lillian.

Our local library is offering pick up of holds through the drive-through two days a week, for four hours each of those days. They haven’t yet re-opened. Yet, we are SO HAPPY we can now check out books again. I waited in the line on Tuesday to get our latest haul. So far, I’ve been going every other Tuesday so as not to have any of our holds returned to the shelf.

Me …. waiting, waiting, waiting … Haha!

Thomas and I visited our friends Barbara and Bill at their cozy and beautiful place in Washoe Valley. When we got home, Thomas said, “That was fun.” I agree Thomas! Love those two humans!

Another ‘to-do’ checked off during the two week break. Ordered and installed a new interior passenger door handle. After nearly a year, I no longer have to be a valet for Thomas! 🤣 Many times I forgot he couldn’t open the door, walking off and wondering why he wasn’t getting out of the car. He was not amused!

On Friday, the 7th, I listened to the Brene Brown podcast with Ibram X. Kendi and doodled while doing so. Another great and powerful one! I’m reading his book now. Titled, How to be an Antiracist.

Here’s the link for the podcast … https://brenebrown.com/podcast/brene-with-ibram-x-kendi-on-how-to-be-an-antiracist/

Next up … I finally got finished transferring Thomas’s book, Biggest Little Photographer, to KDP in my efforts to streamline things and for converting to an ebook. Proof is on the way. Actually, should be arriving today!

Last item accomplished on the ‘to do’ list …. Ordering and installing shelves for the projector. I had been using the keyboard stand, and Thomas has been wanting his stand back! There may have been loads and loads of swear words and sweating while installing these lovelies!!

They are installed where one would typically install a big screen television. I don’t choose to own a television, and haven’t had one since about 2008. We watch shows and movies using a projector, projecting onto the opposite wall. Works perfectly. Just need to figure out what to do with the cords, and add two or four more shelves to balance things.

During this second week, I made some decisions about moving forward with how I spend my time. I’ll post separately about this, as I am making a few changes with MeetingtheAuthors.com and other tasks on which I place my focus. Stay tuned ….

Blessings,
Camilla

See It. Share It. BE IT … Spread Love Everywhere You Go!

“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.

Amazing news! My 18 year old daughter, Lillian Darnell’s debut book, “Where Would You Fly and Other Magical Stories” was published January 2018. Learn more and order here

Wonderfully exciting news! My 14 year old son, Thomas Darnell‘s book, Biggest Little Photographer is published. Be inspired! Learn more and order here.