A Writer’s Crystal Ball – An Interview with Stefanie on The Magic of Wor(l)ds

I’m chattin’ with Stefanie on her magical blog about a writer’s crystal ball, Tibetan singing bowls, and having tea with Elizabeth Gilbert, Glennon Doyle, and Michael Singer. Check it out …

Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?

My name is Camilla (pronounced like Pamela, but with a C). I have lived in Reno, Nevada, USA for the past 14 years, moving here from the Seattle, Washington area in 2006. I spent my first 18 years in the Jackson, Mississippi area and Houma, Louisiana. I’m mom to two kids, 18 year old Lillian and 14 year old Thomas. Lillian is special needs, having a chromosome deletion called 18p-. I’ve homeschooled both of them for the past 4 or 5 years, with Lillian graduating June 2019.

I became an author with the publication of my first book in 2012, D iz for Different – One Woman’s Journey to Acceptance. I don’t recall wanting to be an author as a young child. However, I don’t remember much of my childhood, so I may have wanted this. In 2011, I simply knew after the events I experienced that I was supposed to share my life with others by writing a memoir, showing how I processed and moved through things.

Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?

I can’t remember all of them. But, I do know that I enjoyed Beverly Cleary and the Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew series.

Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?

I can’t say that there is a writer whose brain I’d like to pick for advice on writing. However, I would love to have a writer’s crystal ball to help me know what and how to write the next book(s). Do you happen to have one?

If you could, which fictional character (from your own book(s) or someone else’s) would you like to invite for tea and why?

I’d like to invite several non-fiction writers for tea or coffee to chat about life, digging deeper than what they’ve written about in their books. They would be Elizabeth Gilbert, Glennon Doyle, Wayne Dyer, Susan Orlean, Mary Oliver, and Michael Singer. I’m sure I’m leaving out some authors.

In regards to fictional characters, recently I really enjoyed the main characters in all of Phaedra Patrick’s books. I would love to meet them in their hometowns, spending a couple of days with each of them exploring the locations in the books, and getting to know them better.

Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?

When I wrote my first book, I began to get up 30 minutes earlier than usual, take my coffee and laptop to the patio, and write with Mt. Rose as company. I did not write the chapters in order, as this is an A-Z book (A is for Acceptance, B is for Better, D is for Different … ). I wrote each section as I was inspired, with the book being written in 2 months time.

In regards to my second book, Words of Alchemy, a free verse poetry memoir; I did not sit down to create a book of poetry. One day 6 years ago, poetry just began to flow. Much of the poetry was inspired by nature photographs I had taken on walks. I would look through the photographs with the intent of landing on one that would inspire a poem. Many times, I would listen to Indian flute music, Tibetan singing bowls, or Deva Premal while the poem flowed.
With all of this being said, nature is definitely at the root of any ritual or habit while I’m writing.

Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉

Since I write non-fiction, my ideas come from my own life experiences. I’m still working through how to write about people or events that may be uncomfortable for those who were a part of it. I suppose I’ll have that figured out by the time I’ve completed the next book. HA!

Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?

I’m neither of these. This may be due to the fact that I write non-fiction. I write as I’m inspired. This may also be why I’ve not written fiction yet. HA! I would love to try my hand at writing a creative non-fiction. I’m pretty sure that will be the genre of one of the next books.

Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?

I do things so different, I’m not sure I have solid tips I could share. I will say the two main ingredients are to write, and have loads of tenacity. Oh, and a third tip … WRITE, just write, no matter what comes out.

What are your future plans as an author?

I’m taking this year to let myself not write, to press the reset button, to rejuvenate myself. I’ve been on a rather long, 13 year, healing journey. I’m due for some rejuvenation! After that, I do plan on writing and publishing more books. I really won’t know until I get focused on it.

Follow the link to read the full interview …

Words of Alchemy – Camilla Downs @CamillaDowns , an #Interview #QandA

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.

First Two Teeth Addressed – Hallelujah — Team TLC = Thomas, Lillian and Camilla

May 11 2020 First two teeth down = crooked smile, left side of face numb. I’ve never been more thrilled about dentist visits! In and out in less than an hour and I didn’t feel anything (pain, that is). 116 more words

via First Two Teeth Fixed – Hallelujah — Team TLC = Thomas, Lillian and Camilla

A Calming Meditational Journey – Words of Alchemy

“A beautiful testament to the love and dedication of a mother to her children, and her personal transformation using nature as a guide and companion. I was instantly transported to zenlike mindfulness by the melodic prose in this beautiful collection. Poems like “Released” will remain with me as a reminder of the healing strength of our connection to nature. The rich imagery and natural metaphors make each piece a standalone daily meditation.” – Michelle S.

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.

Educating and Re-educating Myself

For one month now I have been educating and re-educating myself. Even revisiting events I and most people are already aware of. However, I am seeing through fresh eyes, a new and different lens. Eyes of wanting to understand what my brothers and sisters have suffered, and still suffer. Eyes of compassion. Eyes that know first hand not to judge another unless you first seek to understand and put yourself in their shoes.

As I am one who used to judge from on a high and mighty horse. That is, until life handed me a handful of shoes at once and said, try these on for size …. parenting a child with special needs, becoming a single parent, poverty, openly acknowledging that I am part of #MeToo, and becoming a part of the LGBTQ+ community. All of those wrapped inside a 15 year journey of healing myself. Humbly, I say, “Yes, I see now.” I am not done educating myself, and will continue to do so.

Here are three movies I’ve watched. I’m reading books also and watching/listening to talks. I will post those as I make my way through them. You can see my earlier blog post here; which lets you know where I stand and also lists resources.

Just watching these trailers again, I am sobbing. Now, I know my sobs do nothing to further anything. However, I am moved to educate myself and to become the best ally I can be. Change begins with one person letting themselves be moved, moved enough to understand, moved enough to stay silent no longer.

(These movies are free during the month of June 2020.)

June 5 2020:

“Just Mercy”

Powerful true story. My heart hurts and I’m sobbing. Not having read the book by Bryan Stevenson or knowing the story, I assumed the events of this movie were from the 60’s or 70’s. I heard a radio interview with Mr. Stevenson a couple of months ago, but I missed the timeline for the events.

I’m ashamed I did not know the horrors that were happening while I grew up and lived in the state next door, Mississippi … most likely happening there too.

When I said goodbye to the Deep South in 1989, and all my family, I knew in my heart I had to leave. I just didn’t consciously know why. Sometimes one has to shake ones world up, to wake up. Thank you *Bryan Stevenson for your bravery and courage.

*Bryan Stevenson founded and runs the Equal Justice Initiative.

Trailer:

Released: December 2019

Movie description:

After graduating from Harvard, Bryan Stevenson heads to Alabama to defend those wrongly condemned or those not afforded proper representation. One of his first cases is that of Walter McMillian, who is sentenced to die in 1987 for the murder of an 18-year-old girl, despite evidence proving his innocence. In the years that follow, Stevenson encounters racism and legal and political maneuverings as he tirelessly fights for McMillian’s life.

June 12 2020

“Ghosts of Mississippi”

This one made my brain want to explode! Another powerful, true story. Maddening, infuriating, heartbreaking. Watch it.

Trailer:

Released: December 1996

Movie Description:

In this film based on actual events, black activist Medgar Evers (James Pickens Jr.) is murdered in 1963, and much of the evidence points toward white supremacist Byron De La Beckwith (James Woods). However, after two trials, De La Beckwith is acquitted twice by a jury of whites. Now, decades later in 1989, Evers’ widow, Myrlie (Whoopi Goldberg), thinks she has evidence to finally convict him. But no lawyer will touch the case except the young and brash Bobby DeLaughter (Alec Baldwin).

June 19 2020

“Selma”

“It is unacceptable that they use their power to keep us voiceless …. What happens when a man stands up and says, Enough is Enough” – Martin Luther King, Jr

These people had more courage than I will ever know.

His words throughout this movie kept pulling me back into the present moment. Bone-chilling, as the quote above.

I mean, we all know about MLK, but, educating (re-educating??) myself in these current times … I find myself seeing with woke eyes and heart, hearing and feeling things I did not as a child, teen, and young adult.

Trailer: 

Released: December 2014

Movie Description:

Although the Civil Rights Act of 1964 legally desegregated the South, discrimination was still rampant in certain areas, making it very difficult for blacks to register to vote. In 1965, an Alabama city became the battleground in the fight for suffrage. Despite violent opposition, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (David Oyelowo) and his followers pressed forward on an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, and their efforts culminated in President Lyndon Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

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.

 

A Celebration of Life and Nature – Words of Alchemy

“Words of Alchemy is warm and personal, like being invited to sit on the author’s couch and listen to her talk to family and friends. Intimate and loving, these poems are a celebration of family, of friends, of life, of nature, and of adaptation.”  – Amazon Customer

Hide and Seek with Found Poetry – Words of Alchemy

Creating more Found Poetry to hide within Words of Alchemy. Preparing to mail a book to a lovely winner in Massachusetts. Some of these still need a word or two trimmed. Found within books that were destined for the trash.

Ready to be hidden within outgoing books.

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: I Support Black Lives Matter – BIPOC

Featured


(Photo by Jumana Dakkur from Pexels)

The fear of speaking my voice sits lodged in my throat. Yet, I can do this. It is nothing compared to the years of suffering my brothers and sisters have endured.

I can no longer remain silent about matters that offend my heart and soul. I have been quiet about current events as I begin to educate myself. I am 50 years old. I have been quiet for far too long. I know that no matter what I say in this writing, something will not be said in the best way, or the wrong words will be used. However, I cannot let that delay my speaking up.

I have been walking into my own discomfort for the past 15 years. I’m prepared to walk into the discomfort of learning about systemic racism and I’ve been doing it for a week, and will continue doing it until I feel I’ve educated myself fully, spoken, and continue to live from a different place with this knowledge. I love my fellow humans and I will do this for them, for myself, and for the positive advancement of the human race. This is an act of love. For me, love is not just a feeling one has for another. Love is an action. How do we expect change to happen unless we address it within ourselves first and foremost?

I support Black Lives Matter. I support BIPOC. I support the lifting of oppression. I support justice and equality for communities of color. I support the white population waking up to and educating ourselves, and then living from a different space. Once we educate ourselves there is no way we could continue to live from the same space we have been. I will not stick my head in the sand and pretend this does not exist. I will not bypass this portion of my DNA that needs to be opened, drained, and healed. As a dear friend recently stated, “this isn’t some fake assed thing that someone made up.” To quote her again, “It has some very real roots in it that needs to be addressed by every person.”

This paragraph spoke to my heart, as well as my mind as I’m deeply interested in epigenetics. I will be getting this book, too. Follow this link to read the full article … https://engage.onbeing.org/_notice_the_rage_notice_the_silence:

” ……. Resmaa Menakem is a teacher and visionary in this city, though I only became aware of his groundbreaking work a few months ago. Just before the pandemic sent us into lockdown, I sat across from him in our studio on Loring Park. He watched me as closely as he listened to my words. He caught me bracing at the term “white supremacy,” and taught me that noticing such bracing is exactly where I have to begin to live differently. He’s drawing on knowledge we’re just now gaining about systems and processes in our bodies that we’re only now learning to see: vagus nerve, psoas muscle, trauma, epigenetics. He draws a stunning connection between generations of trauma that white bodies inflicted on each other in the centuries we call the Dark Ages and the generations of horrific trauma inflicted on black bodies in the “new world” of America — which, as Langston Hughes wrote, “never was America to me.” We are all literally carrying – breathing, reliving, and so repeating — much that didn’t happen to us personally. It’s one way to finally grasp why talking about race, and “teaching our brains to think better” about race, has fallen brutally, tragically short: “The vital force behind white supremacy,” Resmaa Menakem writes in his extraordinary book My Grandmother’s Hands, “is in our nervous systems ….. ”

The work I have done over the past 15 years has been for my own self-gain, addressing my own mental and emotional health. The purpose of this current work is to help heal and restore dignity to BIPOC. I believe that every human being deserves dignity, freedom, and equality. I desire wholeness for myself and the world. This is a commitment to my personal and spiritual values. I am doing this because it’s the right thing to do. I know no one is going to congratulate me, or celebrate me. In fact, I fully expect it will turn some away. This will bring sadness, as I do not like controversy or confrontation. I’m sure some will choose to unfollow, unfriend, or ghost me. However, it is more important that I be in integrity with my values, my soul, my heart.

I commit to:

Continue to educate myself, expunging what is in my subconscious that I’m not aware of

Continue to research every candidate running for any position. If I come across any information which makes it clear the candidate does not align with the values stated above; they do not get my vote. (I did this in the election this past Tuesday, finding at least three candidates that were a NO due to this or for standing against the LGBTQ+ community.)

Continue to vote in every election. See above.

I will begin to support non-profit and community organizations that stand for justice and equity

Pay attention to other ways in which I can help

Here are a list of resources that I am making my way through. I have not looked through most of these. I am making my way through them and will come back and note when I’ve watched, read, or listened to a resource:

Articles with lists of things to do and resources:

75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice

FOR OUR WHITE FRIENDS DESIRING TO BE ALLIES

Anti-racism resources

Articles with information:

You Asked, I Answered: 7 Difficult Questions About Racism

Race and Healing

Podcasts:

Kendi on How to Be An Anti-Racist for Unlocking Us Podcast with Brene Brown

Movies:

(Many of these movies are free during the month of June.)

Just Mercy – FREE for the month of June – I watched this on Friday, June 5, 2020. Powerful movie. Watch it.

Ghosts of Mississippi – FREE for the month of June – Watched this on Friday, June 12, 2020. Watch this one.

Selma – FREE for the month of June – Watched this on Friday, June 19, 2020.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Watched on Friday, June 26, 2020.

I am making my way through this list .. Spotlighting Black Cinema

Books:

Black, White, and Brown

Stop Asking People Of Color To Explain Racism–Pick Up One Of These Books Instead

I’m reading “me and white supremacy” right now and am halfway through the “workbook” portion. Powerful book.

Youtube:

Instagram:

Search #ShareTheMicNow – on June 10th white women with large audiences shared the mic with Black women to magnify the important work they are doing.

I am a mother. These words and how they came to be uttered ripped my heart to shreds. This was the final straw.

Elijah McClain’s last words:

Thank you for taking the time to read this with an open heart. I am not posting this to open a channel of debate in this matter. Simply to speak my mind on this platform I have been building for the past 10 years. Should you disagree, that is your business. Not mine. I press the publish button with love … xoxo (I will continue to update this post as I come across more resources, or learn that I should word something differently.)

P.S. … There will be a post coming soon in support of the LGBTQ community, as well as the Me Too community. I did not want to lump them into one post as they each deserve their own space. 

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.

Words of Alchemy – Poetry That Delves Into the Heart

A heart warming gift received this afternoon. Thank you, Marje of Kyrosmagica Publishing!!

“What a joy it is to read this gem of a poetry book. Full of beautiful free-verse, a memoir about friends, family, relationships and the love of the nature. This is for you if you enjoy the natural world, (as I do,) if you appreciate poetry that delves into the heart and doesn’t hold back. In many ways it is an intimate and brave expression of the author – Camilla Downs’s – thoughts and feelings.

I highly recommend.

5 stars.” … Go here to read the full review …

Book Review: Words of Alchemy by Camilla Downs #FreeVerse #Poetry #Nature #Family #Relationships #Love

 

Mysteries of the Universe in Someone’s Hand

April 26 2020

Ever read a sentence in a book (or any writing) that reaches into your heart, gently opening a place where longing and sadness stay in hiding, something you’ve forgotten is even there (or pretend isn’t there), until you read just the right words, in just the right moment?

This sentence did that to me (for me?) yesterday:

“I bet you could sometimes find all of the mysteries of the universe in someone’s hand.”

Reading this sentence caused my eyes to sweat.

I absolutely loved this book, devoured it even. I’d had it on my list for over 2 years, as part of a list of books to read before suggesting them to Thomas and Lillian. I read it in two days, finding it hard to set aside. Beautiful, powerful book.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz