Sobbing in the Garage With the True Meaning of Beauty – An Interview With Marjorie Mallon

I was recently a guest on fellow author, Marjorie Mallon’s blog. We chat about how the title of Words of Alchemy came to be, how it came to be that my children have published books, the hardest challenge I’ve faced, sobbing in the garage, letting go of guilt and shame, and the meaning of beauty.

Where are you from and in which area of the world do you live now?

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 Jackson, Mississippi and Houma, Louisiana.

Tell me about the inspiration/s for your new book “Words of Alchemy.”

About six years ago, I visited Fallen Leaf Lake in South Lake Tahoe, California. The beauty was quite overwhelming, bringing me to tears. As I drove home, I made several stops along Lake Tahoe, sitting to take it all in. While doing this, poetic words bubbled to the surface of my consciousness. This was the beginning of a six year journey of being inspired by nature with poetic words, then later, inspired by life events.

Here’s that first poem and a few photos from Fallen Leaf Lake and Lake Tahoe.

Earth Dance

As the sun’s rays dance upon you like stars twinkling in the night sky, so shall our souls dance upon this Earth. As you are who you are with ease, so shall we no longer struggle to be who we are. As you adjust to the World around you without struggle, so shall we go with the flow of life. As you release your beauty, power, and love for us to enjoy and learn from, so shall we drop the facade of our bodies and identifying with materialism and what we’ve accomplished … And so shall we become vessels of love, joy and peace.


Fallen Leaf Lake with Mount Tallac


Lake Taloe


Camilla hugging a tree Fallen Leaf Lake

How did you decide on the title?

What a great question! I like to get ideas out of my head, onto “paper” (in my case, on the computer) as I’m a visual type person. I have to see ideas and concepts to know whether or not they work. I also look at the content to see what I can pull from within the content, that also encompasses the entire book. Shortly after deciding on “Words of Alchemy” for the title, the idea to replace chapters with alchemy sections was born. Synchronistically, this also helped me with organizing the poems as I was stuck with that part of the process.

Here’s a photo of the “Chapter” page.

It‘s lovely to see that your children are also involved in publishing books. How did this come about? You must be very proud of their books: your son Thomas’s Biggest Little Photographer, and your daughter’s debut book Where Would You Fly and Other magical Stories.

When Lillian was 4 years old, I had a knowing that she (and I) would write books. Due to her chromosome deletion, she has difficulty articulating words so she is not easily understandable when she speaks. However, she has (and had) all of the words in her mind, struggling to articulate them. I began researching how to self-publish, collecting information for when the time was right. This was around 2005. My dad bought her a mini laptop in 2007, and I set up a blog for her. We began writing stories together, and soon after she took it from there, writing and creating artwork.

When Thomas was 8 years old, a friend shared an article with us about a professional photographer who had taken a photo a day, for 365 days, of a LEGO mini figure taking a photo. Thomas was inspired and asked me if he could do the same. I responded that he could, and also told him that if he stuck with it, we’d publish it as a book. It was published in 2016, and Thomas is 14 years old now.

Next, it was time for Lillian’s book. I gathered her writings from 4 years old through 16 years old, categorized them, and we created a book, published in 2018. Thomas chose the title as he said it would be good for marketing. It’s also the title of one of the stories in the book.

The cover photo is a picture I took of Lillian.

What is the hardest challenge you have ever had to face?

The hardest challenge I’ve had to face began with one extremely hard decision, that opened the door to 13 years of healing. I divorced in 2007, beginning a journey of single parenting two kids, 1 year old and 5 years old at the time. One having special needs, the other with undiagnosed special needs. I had no idea how I would manage, as I was the sole parent, no weekends or holidays off. I made all parenting decisions alone.

I spent the first year, sitting in the garage sobbing my eyes out (with a bottle of wine), after my kids went to bed. I had to let myself grieve over the life I thought I had, and thought that I would have in the future.

Once I moved through the grieving, I began a path of admitting to myself that I was not okay. Deep down I didn’t respect myself, didn’t think myself worthy, didn’t unconditionally love myself, and didn’t know what it meant to be in a healthy, loving relationship with a partner. So began the journey of diving deep into myself, my past, and current situation, allowing myself to feel emotions and process events from long ago.

All of this so that I could emerge a healthier person, knowing my worth, loving myself, and loving my kids as they should be loved …. unconditionally. Although I received care and affection as a child, I had never experienced unconditional love. On a wider scale, the past 13 years have been about halting familial patterns, doing my part to reverse unhealthy patterns, starting anew.

It has not been fun, it has been deeply challenging. In fact, there were many times I considered just ending it all. The split second that thought would enter my mind, my kids faces would appear, reminding me that ending it was not the solution. I persevered, teaching myself that I can trust myself to be strong, courageous, peaceful, and compassionate when the situation calls for it. It sure as hell wasn’t easy, but it sure as hell was worth it.

As a single mother of two children, one of whom has a significant chromosomal disorder what advice would you give other single women in a similar position.

I can think of three suggestions.

One is not to let anger and pride get in the way of making decisions that are in the best interest of your kids. I did that in the very beginning, not asking for the type of financial support we really needed from their dad. I was angry and held an “I can do this by myself” attitude.

The second is to find a way to let go of guilt and shame, and ask for help. There are those who want to help, and will do it with loving kindness.

The third is to find a support group, online or in-person, that has to do with your child’s differences. These people will be a life-line and offer endless support. I discovered the Chromosome 18 Registry & Research Society the night of Lillian’s diagnosis in 2004. This group and its members are like family to us, and it has been invaluable, with the relationships we have built and with the materials presented at the yearly conference.

When did you start writing and why?

I kept a diary as a young girl, from middle school through junior high school. I discontinued when reaching adulthood, picking it up again during my separation and divorce, continuing through to this day. The diary writing as a young girl was mostly written to share the dysfunctional family life I had, with my complaints, and about friendships and crushes.
Later in life, I took up journal writing once again for some of the same reasons, yet, with a difference. Writing, getting things out of my head, helps me to see situations differently, helps me to process life experiences, and to discover solutions. Writing is deeply therapeutic for me, allowing my creative and imaginative nature to come out and play as well.

I’d love to know what you are working on next.

I’m currently working on marketing my latest book, as well as Thomas and Lillian’s books. 2020 is the year of rejuvenation for me, the year of pressing the reset button. I’ve been on a 13 year journey of deep healing connecting with feelings and events from my past, letting myself feel emotions, and working through much internal upheaval. It has been incredibly exhausting!

I reached a tipping point with that journey in the beginning of 2020, and am now ready for some rest and leveling out. I’m not working on writing projects currently. However, I do feel several projects brewing. I never really know what the next one will be until I focus on it. I hope to one day have a book written by all three of us. We shall see.

What is ‘beauty’ to you?

Beauty is seeing and knowing one’s own beauty, when it is reflected back to oneself from nature, from other people, from life experiences.

What are your favourite genres?

I have made shifts throughout my reading years. As a child and teenager I was all about fiction and horror. As an adult I shifted to mysteries, reading every book Agatha Christie had written, ending with her autobiography. Then I shifted to only business books, autobiographies and biographies of successful people. Reading then shifted to non-fiction books in the self-help, mind, body, spirituality type books. With the latest shift being opening back up to the fiction genre, along with creative non-fiction, memoirs and books about writing.

What books are you reading currently?

I’m just finishing two books that I have thoroughly enjoyed. One is “The Library Book” by Susan Orlean and the other is “all about love” by bell hooks. They won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but, if the topic sounds interesting, I highly recommend them.

Have you a favourite quote or saying?

It’s difficult to pin down just one quote or say. However, I have found this one to be a great reminder, many times: “You’re intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way.” -Ray Bradbury

Which season is your favourite and why?

I can’t choose just one. I love each season for the differences they bring in nature, and within myself.

What other hobbies do you have apart from writing?

I love reading, having a once a week movie night with my kids, going for walks, creating art when the mood strikes (usually with items found in nature), keeping our online journal, TheTeamTLC.com, up to date, and working on MeetingtheAuthors.com. Thomas and I are currently watching the Marvel movies from beginning to end. I am deeply enjoying sharing this with him. We’ve been at it for almost a year, watching about one per month. Next up, Spider-man: Homecoming.

I’m also a practitioner of meditating. However, I’m taking a break during this year of pressing the reset button. For six years, I meditated nearly every day. It was a beautiful experience and helped me to process life events. About two months ago, I just had a knowing that I was to take a break. I’d been going hardcore with the healing and mediating. It was time.

It must be wonderful to be the founder and host of Meeting The Authors. I expect you have ‘met’ many new fascinating authors?

It is absolutely wonderful and inspiring. This is one idea I am grateful to have listened about, and then took action! About a year ago I joined an amazing book group that connects authors and bloggers. I saw the tremendous need for authors to have more online exposure.
I’m one of those people who gets ideas for new endeavors constantly, sometimes daily. I’ve learned to get the ideas out of my head, on paper (my laptop) so that I can “see” the idea. I let it marinate for a week or two or more, while I research what it would take to make it happen. I did that with Meeting the Authors. I hadn’t even launched it when I asked a question about launching it in the book group. I had over 100 authors comment on the post, requesting to be interviewed. I knew it was needed. I’m also thankful that I don’t act on every idea, letting most fall away. I’d never sleep!

I am a networker at heart. I love meeting new people, sharing ideas, getting to really know one another. I used to attend in person events to network and meet like minded people. Now, I network online. I like to be authentic with networking. I want people to know the true me and vice versa. MeetingtheAuthors.com has turned into a huge online networking event. HA!

It’s nice to see you are also featuring book bloggers. How did this come about?

Another idea that came to me as I networked in the book group, while at the same time going through lists of book bloggers, emailing ones that were a fit for my book. I thought, wouldn’t it be lovely to interview the book bloggers, asking them the questions an author would need to know before contacting them. Plus, throwing in a few personal questions to help us get to know them better. I’m having great fun shining the spotlight on book bloggers. They are a hard working group of people, simply because they love reading and books. Many of them are authors, too, or aspiring authors. It’s a win win for all.

Thank you Marje for having me on your blog. I deeply appreciate the thoughtful questions you’ve asked. I enjoyed answering each one as it caused me to dig deep and really think about my answer.

It’s been my pleasure Camilla, you are a delight and I am so looking forward to reading Words of Alchemy. I have a feeling (and my feelings are normally right!) that I will love it. I reckon you and I are kindred spirits!

Follow the link below to see the full interview on Marje’s blog …

Author Interview: Camilla Downs #Poet #Writer #WordsofAlchemy #Nature #Inspirational #Family

 

Sunday Bruch with Jo of Jaffareadstoo

I was recently invited for Sunday brunch over at Jaffarreadstoo. I absolutely adore the theme of this interview. I’m all about doing things different, and this is a such unique way of interviewing someone!

What favourite food are you bringing to Sunday brunch?

I’m bringing a cold pasta salad with Kalamata olives, marinated artichoke hearts, a few sweet and spicy peppers, capers, shredded vegan cheese, finely chopped rainbow carrots, small sweet peas, tossed with a tangy Rosé vinaigrette.

Would you like a pot of English Breakfast tea, a strong Americano, or a glass of Bucks Fizz?

I’m going to color outside the lines with my answer. HA! It would depend on my mood. I love a good, strong, cup of English Breakfast tea. Yet, I also immensely enjoy a cup of rich, creamy, Nitro coffee. Yet, again, if I still imbibed, I would go with a delightful, frothy, mug of Theakston Old Peculier.

Which of your literary heroes are joining us today?

Here I go coloring outside the lines again … John Muir is who I’m bringing as I’m inspired by his love and advocacy of Nature and how he expressed this in written form.

What’s the title of the book nearest to you?

Women Who Run With the Wolves – Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

What’s the oldest book on your book shelf?

I can’t just list one as I love old books!

Here are the four oldest on my shelf.

1883 – Treasures of Use and Beauty: An Epitome of the Choicest Gems of Wisdom, History, Reference and Recreation

1884 – One Thousand and One Gems of English and American Poetry

1876 – Emerson’s Essays

1894 – Representative Men by Emerson

Which book do you really want to read but haven’t had time for …yet!

‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F***k: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life’ by Mark Manson …. I’d mainly like to read this as the title and subject intrigue me. At 50 years of age, I’ve already reached the point of not giving a f***k. Ha! Although, there’s that wee voice within that, at times, brings forth guilt and shame by whispering to me that I look like a fool and a jack***.

Do you have a guilty reading pleasure, and if so will you tell us about it?

No. I don’t think I feel guilt about anything I read. Then again, I’m quite picky about what I read, so maybe that’s why.

If the house was on fire which book would you rescue?

I would get my kids and myself out first, and then if there’s time, I’d rescue one of a kind family photo books.

Do you have a favourite place to settle down to read/write?

On my couch, with a blanket covering me if it’s cold, with a cup of black coffee or strong English tea, and my laptop perched on my lap. I simply cannot write by hand, as my fingers and hands start aching after about 5 minutes.

Give us four essential items that a writer absolutely needs?

Tenacity to write
Courage to write
Tenacity to keep writing
Courage to keep writing

What can you tell us about your latest novel, or your current work in progress?

My latest book is non-fiction, a free-verse poetry memoir. If you had asked me years ago if I wrote poetry or if I would ever publish a poetry book, I most likely would have wildly laughed and answered, “No”. I have learned to never say never. Six years ago, poetry just started flowing. I “listened” and I wrote. Here we are with a published book with six years of poetry! Titled, ‘Words of Alchemy’, and published December 2019 … Follow the link to visit the brunch setting over at Jaffareadstoo ….

https://jaffareadstoo.blogspot.com/2020/04/sunday-brunch-with-jaffareadstoo.html

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

“Words of Alchemy” has arrived, December 2019! 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.

 

Thoughts on Mother’s Day – 2020

I didn’t post anything about Mother’s Day this past Sunday, May 10, 2020. I was feeling down, and dealing with aching teeth. For anyone new to this blog, I have two kids. Thomas who is 14 years old and Lillian who is 18 years old. I’ve raised them alone for the past 13 years.

Mother’s Day has never been about store bought gifts and flowers for me. I do not judge those who find these things meaningful. I have always loved and enjoyed the home made cards and gifts that Thomas and Lillian made me when they were younger. I have attempted to raise them not to feel compelled to give gifts just because a calendar, or someone else, says it’s time to give a gift. I wanted them to give gifts because they were moved to do so, to show love, to show joy, to show appreciation. I now understand why moms around the world keep and treasure gifts their kids made for them as children. These are true treasures.

By afternoon on Sunday, I had received nothing from either Thomas or Lillian. Well, except Thomas told me “Happy Mother’s Day” when he overheard me telling my mom the same. Lillian had been in a snarky, unfriendly mood, and remained so all day. In the late afternoon, I shed tears at something Thomas had said; which led him to tell me he didn’t know what to give me or make for me and he didn’t feel like making anything. I explained that I don’t want him to feel obligated to give me something. But, I sure as hell can be sad and nostalgic for when they were younger and spent days making me a gift. And, my sadness does not mean that he has done something wrong. He understood.


(Throwback to 2014)

Later that night, he gave me a hug and told me I was a good mom. Later, still, he commented that I don’t look 50 years old and that I should have more wrinkles. He said I look 40 years old. HA! Silly Thomas! Oh my gosh! I have been on this freaking planet for 50 damn years! That’s wild!

I felt compelled to share a glimpse of a different Mother’s Day post. I respect how all choose to celebrate this day, and have compassion for those who have sadness in their hearts on this day. We are all different, yet, the feelings of joy and sadness are felt by all.

May you take from this whatever is meant for you. 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.

Uplifting and Warming to the Core – Words of Alchemy

Thank you to The Book Reviewing Mum for this wonderful and thorough review of Words of Alchemy

“I was nervous about reading poetry to start with, I’ve enjoyed it in the past, but basic, easy to understand and follow poetry, so I am always anxious accepting poetry in case I cannot understand and interpret it to a point where I can write an acceptable review that I’m happy with!

I needn’t have worried! This book is filled with inspiring, heartfelt, warm, consoling, touching and thought provoking poetry which will warm you to the core!

I honestly think this book of poetry would be an amazing self help book with a different angle! As you read through my review you’ll see the many different sections of the book and how the poems are so uplifting and educational on how to appreciate everything we have and what surrounds us!

The Alchemy of Nature: the poems in this section talk about overcoming, and accepting that their may be dark times in your life and that is ok and part of life itself. That sometimes you may become consumed by the dark but that there is light at the end of the tunnel you just have to keep swimming and breathing and pushing through to accept it and to get there! Through self love, nature, appreciating the small things in life! That change is always going to happen you cannot stop it but that change isn’t always bad and to welcome change!

My favourite poem in this section was ‘Brother One day you shall me released’ its about her brother who battled with addictions and showing her brother that there was no judgement just love and support and reassurance that he would battle his addictions and make it through the other side!

Alchemy of Love: is a set of beautiful poems about the different types of love we have for family, friends, nature but also in loss and also loving yourself! It’s about letting love in, letting love consume you, not just the good points in love but also the bad!

My favourite poem in this section is called Friendship! I can really relate to this poem and really touched me!

The Alchemy of Parenting was by far my favourite in the book, as now being a mum of 2 I really felt every word and understood it and could relate! One of the first poems in this book is called ‘The Number 18’ which is a poem about finding out about her daughters chromosome abnormality and how heart breaking it was at the time but how they’ve overcome the news and live a positive and full life together where they’ve celebrated the good and the bad, the easy and the rough!

‘My Dearest Thomas’ is a Poem that Camilla wrote for her son and I found this poem really emotive as it was like reading something that explains every single feeling I have for my children!

I loved these set of poems as they really touched on the unconditional love, the true, unbreakable love, you have for your child through the easy and the hard times. Even through the times when as a family you can be unkind to each other! Love overpowers all!

The Alchemy of Mindful living: I love how in this section you can really grasp and understand Camillas connection to nature and all living things through her poetry! She is at one with nature and has accepted herself, and her life, the good and the bad. She’s found a way to accept everything which shows, through her words, that she lives a full and beautiful life and sees the good in everything!

I really enjoyed the Poem ‘The Lure of Words’ and if you are like me and love books (and you probably are I’d you are reading this) then you will enjoy this poem and be able to connect and relate! Camilla takes about the joy in a book, the feel, the smell, the sight, the escapism you get all from a book! A truely lovely poem!

The Alchemy of Gratitude: this is my other favourite part of the book! These set of poems talk about being grateful for all things great and small! for love, families, life itself, for Kindness for opportunity for every little bit that makes up nature!

I really connected with one these poems I found it so thought provoking! It’s about being grateful for something as simple as water, and Camilla talks about how the earth, the planet and everything that inhabits this planets needs water! We need water to live and water needs us! We need water in so many ways to survive yet it’s something that in these parts of the world go so unappreciated!

It made me really think about life and how sometime I can be a glass half empty kind of person! And actually if I took the time to appreciate the small things in life such as water that pay a huge part in my life and my mental health that actually if we could really grasp that, maybe we would be on the right track to life of true happiness!

The final section of this book is called The Alchemy of Fun, and although I didn’t connect with this as much it’s still full of beautiful poems, the one that caught my eye was a poem created by Camilla and her 2 children! It’s fun and it’s lovely to see a family come together to be creative!” …. Follow the link to see the full review …

REVIEW : Words of Alchemy by Camilla Downs @camilladowns

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.

I’m Still Standing Too Close to Myself

With Lillian turning 18 and the stressful move, I got behind on posting things here. For a while, you’ll be getting some older posts as I get caught up … Almost caught up! Much love!

February 28 2020

Tonight we celebrate (with sparkling pink lemonade)! After 8 years, a chapter of our lives full of struggle and worry has come to an end. That’s one, damn long chapter! Hallelujah, Wahooooo, YES!!, WooooHoooo ….

And, I’m Still Standing …

I pray to never relive that chapter …

***********************************************************

March 11 2020

Help! I’m answering interview questions and drawing a blank for this one …

“Tell us something unique about yourself.”

I’m too close to myself, and think I’m quite dull in most instances! HA! Have you noticed something unique about me? xoxo

Here are what others commented when I asked this on facebook. Do you have something to add?

You have an abundance of patience!

Perseverance!

You have 2 kids who are published authors.

Contagious Smile

Very conscientious, a fantastic Mother, and a friendly person!!

Very Wonderful and Very Fantastic and Very Amazing and Very Terrific and Very Spectacular All of The Above You Sure Are!

Your great patience and perseverance

Creative problem solver

I think it is very unique and wonderful that your kids are published too, you all share in collective creative gifts that you kindly share with the world

You can find a heart everywhere you look

You are incredibly resilient and you find a way to make things work

You are creative, patient and have faith! Also lots of Love!

You are extremely resourceful! You made a decision years ago to focus almost solely on your family, with very little resources, but somehow you’ve made it work!

You are one of the most selfless people I know

I see an amazing warrior and trail blazer

A true heartfelt warrior woman

You have overcome a lot.

Outrageously determined, strength!

You are one of the most unique people I know! Creative, altruistic, Earth Mother

Super resilient…hopeful…and amazingly light in yourself considering the hand of cards you are playing SO well. You are AMAZING!

Compassionate

You have a way of seeing and making the best of whatever situation is in front of you and you’ve helped your children stay grounded and see the world with a sense of wonder.

You inspire others because you find a way to make the impossible happen without dragging others down in the process. That my friend, is a rarity.

Thank you to everyone who commented and adds to the sharing. Oceans of love to y’all! 

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

“Words of Alchemy” has arrived, December 2019! 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.

Why Writing is Important to Me – An Interview with Clare Rhoden

Why is writing important to me and what five words best describe my writing style? That and more in this great interview with fellow author, Clare Rhoden. I’m grateful to Clare for putting together such thoughtful questions.

…… Welcome, Camilla, and thanks for speaking with me on Last Word of the Week. Why is writing important to you?

Writing has been a sanity saving bridge, in processing life experiences, in being a single parent, in being a parent to a special needs child, in making decisions. Writing has been my way of sharing what I’m experiencing, getting it out of my head, being comforted, assured, cheered on, and, at times, receiving direction.

It’s definitely a two-way street. What’s the best response you’ve ever had to your writing?

The best response is a compilation of the responses in which others share how my writings have inspired or helped them in some way. There’s nothing better than receiving a message or review that lets me know that my writing was useful to someone.

What five words would best describe your style?

Wild, unfiltered, from the heart.

Delightful! Do you write for yourself or for a particular audience?

To date, I have always written for myself. Writing is how I process and experience life. The feedback received when sharing what I write is what encouraged me to pursue publishing the content.

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done?

Making the decision fourteen years ago to leave my marriage, becoming a single parent to two children; 1 year old and 5 years old at the time. I had no idea how I would manage, how I would survive. They are 14 years old and 18 years old now. It is through sheer grit, determination, letting go of the fear of asking for help, and not feeling shame for accepting and receiving help, that we’ve made it successfully to this point.

What a huge moment that must have been. What’s your favourite genre to read?

I have made shifts throughout my reading years. As a child and teenager I was all about fiction and horror. As an adult I shifted to mysteries, reading every book Agatha Christie had written, ending with her autobiography. Then I shifted to only business books, autobiographies and biographies of successful people. Reading then shifted to non-fiction books in the self-help, mind, body, spirituality type books. With the latest shift being opening back up to the fiction genre, along with memoirs and books about writing.

That’s pretty comprehensive, indeed. Where do you get inspiration or ideas from?

My latest book, Words of Alchemy, was largely inspired by Nature, and the many walks I took during the time it was written.

Is it easy for readers to find your book/s?

Yes, I believe so. My books can be found on my website or on Amazon.

If you could write a note to someone about to read your book, what would you say?

This is such an interesting thought and question. When readers buy a book directly from me, I actually do include a personalized note when signing the book, in addition to a creative message hidden within the book. I have incredible fun doing this!

I would say, “May the perfect words within this book, touch your heart, at the perfect moment. Love, Camilla”

That’s lovely. Do you write in more than one genre?

My first book is a memoir of my journey to acceptance of myself, and acceptance of becoming a single parent to two children, one with special needs, one a genius (who is most likely on the spectrum).

The second book, for which I am simply a contributor, is my daughter’s book. I collected her writings, organized them, wrote the introduction, edited, proofed, and published the book. Her book was intentionally not professionally edited so as to share her unique view with the reading world. A photo I took of her was used for the cover of the book. It is in the fiction genre as it is a collection of her short stories and poetry from 5 years old to 15 years old.

The third book, I am also simply a contributor, as it is a photography book of photos my then 8 year old son took. I organized the book, wrote the introduction, and he and I chose quotes to pair with the sections of the book.

My latest book to publish is a poetry memoir of the last 6 years of my life.

What an amazing collection! Truly inspirational, Camilla.

Thank you once again, Clare, for having me be a part of your wonderful blog! All the best to you.

See the full interview by following this link ..

Camilla Downs, soul writer, on giving and receiving

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

“Words of Alchemy” has arrived, December 2019! 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.

These Were the Days – Eight Years in the Making

With Lillian turning 18 and the stressful move, I got behind on posting things here. For a while, you’ll be getting some older posts as I get caught up (this one from my birthday in February) … Much love!

February 22 2020:

8 years in the making …. Team TLC – Thomas, Lillian, Camilla … 3 family members …. 4 published books …. There are more to come. However, I need to take this year to press the reset button, for my physical health and for the emotional health of Thomas and Lillian. We’ve drifted from the Team in our Team TLC; which I know will happen as they get older. Yet, I’ve let vital areas slip by the wayside over the past 4 or 5 years, especially this last year.

One major struggle is about to end for us. Once that gift is showered upon us, the rebuilding of Team TLC begins. Of course it will look and feel different than when Thomas and Lillian were younger, and that’s the beauty of it, tempered with the longing of the way it used to be.

I get the feeling the next book will be authored by all three of us. We shall see. I never really know until I become focused on the book’s creation. xoxo

There were days
She could see no reason to continue

There were days
Shrouded in darkness and despair

There were days
Bubbling with joy and love

There were days
She knew the reason to continue

These were the days
The 18,250 days of riding the wheels of her life.

Thank you for being along for the ride. It’s a joy to share it with all of you. If you’d like to learn more about our books, go here … https://camilladowns.com/books/

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

“Words of Alchemy” has arrived, December 2019! 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.

The Sun is Shining Through My Windows – Happy Birthday Camilla

With Lillian turning 18 and the stressful move, I got behind on posting things here. For a while, you’ll be getting some older posts as I get caught up (this one from my birthday in February) … Much love!

I had been holding off on posting this as there were to be further celebrations. COVID19 had other plans. So ….. to be continued …

February 26 2020 – The Actual Birthday Day

The sun is shining through my windows
I can see beautiful Mount Rose from where I sit on our comfy new couch
I’m sitting on this new couch, in our new place, with a bit more elbow room
I’m having my second cup of medium dark Sumatra coffee
I’ve cleared my calendar and only doing what pleases me today
We shall see what the day holds
The first day of my 50th year on this magnificent, magical ball spinning in space
I wish for all of you a moment, or more, of serenity on this day.

Thanks to my daddy for treating us to dinner, so I could skip cooking dinner, and celebrate this half century day. Thanks to Great Full Gardens for taking online orders, so he could treat us.

For me: Jackfruit soft tacos with new harvest pea shoots, avocado, salsa, Mexican rice, Great Full white beans, and all sorts of yummy sauces, along with cashew cheese, jalapeño aioli, and cashew sour cream. My new favorite dish!!! Yum!! (I was kinda, really hungry by the time we sat to eat; hence, the blurry photo of my food!) Followed by an incredibly large, moist vegan double chocolate chip cookie (which I got for free since it’s my birthday!!)

Thomas: Magical mushroom blend … Organic cacao, chaga, reishi, lion’s mane, turkey tail, cordyceps, and maple syrup. He loves this super food beverage. Followed by a pastrami Reuben with House made coleslaw. Ending with a double chocolate chip cookie.

Lillian: She’s not a fan of the menu there, so I grabbed her an order of fries from Burger Me to go with her usual dinner. Followed by a giant snickerdoodle cookie.

After a couple of hours, Thomas and I had a root beer float, with Coconut Bliss dark chocolate “ice cream”.

Now … I may just have a quick solo dance party to end the day. We will have a do over day on Friday or Saturday, or maybe next week sometime, to celebrate a bit more. I won’t sugar coat it. Beginning yesterday about 4:00 pm, a nightmare began for two people who mean the world to me, something no family member ever wants to experience. It’s was tempered by all of the lovely and thoughtful messages I received. Thank you all very much for that!!

To read the full post, head over to The Team TLC website … Click the link below …

Happy Birthday Camilla – The Sun is Shining Through My Windows

Enter to Win a Book a Day for 30 Days – Authors Unite

Would you like the chance to win a book a day for 30 days? Here it is!

My latest book, Words of Alchemy, will be given away on May 2, 2020. If you’d like to enter to win, visit this link … https://authorsmstevens.com/30days/words-of-alchemy/

To see the full list of books, with descriptions, and to enter to win, go here … https://authorsmstevens.com/30days/

30 Days of Free Books — A COVID-19 Book Giveaway Contest: Authors unite to offer literary escape to housebound readers.

Twenty-three authors, many of them award winners and best sellers, have banded together to offer “30 Days of Free Books” — a month of giveaways to provide some free books to housebound readers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Whether you prefer fiction or non-fiction, poetry or prose, children’s books or Young Adult or Adult, memoir or historical fiction or mystery, print or ebook format, you’ll find something you like on this list.

COVID-19 Note: Many writers are offering the winners of their books a choice of print book or ebook. We encourage winners of print books to check the latest expert guidance on how long the virus lives on cardboard and paper before opening their package.

HOW TO ENTER: Click on the name of a book (here … https://authorsmstevens.com/30days/) for more details including a book description, book format (paperback or ebook) and the contest entry form. Enter for as many books as you like. On the date noted, a winner will be chosen to receive that day’s book. Winners will be notified by email. Open to U.S. residents only.

(In the spirit of COVID-19 solidarity, we are not asking you to follow us on social media, sign up for a newsletter or share the contest details with friends in order to enter this contest.)

Happy reading, and stay safe.

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

“Words of Alchemy” has arrived, December 2019! 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 Prompted Me to Explore My Life and Experiences Through Words

What prompted me to explore my life and experiences through words, what am I most proud of, and what’s next for me? Thank you to fellow author, Colin Garrow, for inviting me to his blog and for ask such thoughtful questions …..

Author and poet Camilla explains the background to her writing journey and how it changed her life…

Thinking back to when you started writing, what was it that prompted you to explore your life and experiences through words?

I wrote as a young girl in the form of a diary, writing daily about current events in my life, and my feelings. I had some traumatic experiences and perhaps I sensed this would help in a way. I discontinued that practice in my high school years, through to my adult years, picking it up again when I divorced in 2007.

When I began writing again, it was in the form of daily journaling, which led to writing life narratives on my blog. I needed an outlet for processing life events, for getting thoughts out of my head, for reassurance, for encouragement, and for feedback. I find writing to be deeply therapeutic, which was incredibly helpful during unexpected life events and the deep healing that occurred from 2007 through to current.

Expanded versions of many of the blog posts written through 2012 were included in my first book published in 2012, D iz for Different – One Woman’s Journey to Acceptance. It was the year 2015, when free-verse poetry began to flow during the morning journal writing. I had never written poetry before, minus a few in school, and a few Haiku written to give as gifts.

I think I know the answer to this one, but do you write to please your readers or to please yourself?

I began writing for myself, so it follows that the books I’ve published contained writings that were for my own benefit. I have openly shared most of my writings since about 2008 and the feedback received is what encouraged me to pursue publishing.

Although I have stepped back and am taking time off from writing, up until the end of 2019, my writings have been from my heart, an intuitive knowing that I could not possibly stop from flowing. I would sit to write and the words would simply flow, at times flowing so fast I could hardly “catch” all of them before they disappeared. I am still sporadically journaling in the mornings, yet, I’ve allowed myself to step back to focus on family issues, market my latest book, and to spend time on rejuvenating myself. Over the past 6 years, I have gone through deep healing by connecting with buried emotions and events from my past. It was completely worth it, yet deeply exhausting.

Tell us about your first book, ‘D iz for Different: One Woman’s Journey to Acceptance’ and how it came about.

This was my first book to publish and I learned much from the entire process. My personality is such that if I feel strongly that I am supposed to do something, I do it, not letting any obstacle deter me. I had no idea what I was doing, figuring out each step as I went along.

How the book came to be is quite a wild story! I knew I was to write a book, yet, was stumped on how to organize it and what direction to take the book.

Around July 1, 2011, I had a strong feeling to purge packed boxes in my garage. I tried to ignore the urge, telling myself I was too busy working on other matters. I could not get the thought to vacate my mind, so I gave in to it, thinking that if I went through a few boxes, I could get back to other tasks.

In the first few boxes I unpacked, I came across a book that I had completely forgotten about and had never read. That book is titled, ‘E is for Entrepreneur’ by Barbara Hranivolich. I opened the book and inscribed on the first page was a message to me from Barb. The message …. “This never would have happened without you.”

I had completely forgotten that in 2007 I connected with Barb online and asked her if she would like to be a contributor on a blog I had at the time for women entrepreneurs. She began an alphabet series to tie in with being an entrepreneur. I read the book that night and discovered that Barb mentioned me in the C is for Collaboration chapter of the book also. She wrote, “There’s the woman I’ve never met in person, but who asked me to write these essays for her blog. What a gift!” Lastly, Barb included my name on her Gratitude List in the book. What a powerful gift for me to receive!

After finishing the book I had an intuitive knowing, the solution to how I was to organize my book. It was to be fashioned similar to Barb’s, with each letter of the alphabet being a chapter of the book. I began to write the book the next morning. I started to get up earlier than I had been and wrote a section every morning. I wrote the book in 3 months, with it publishing in February 2012.

The book is a memoir about how I came to acceptance of myself, acceptance of being a parent to a special needs child, and acceptance of becoming a single mom to both kids when the youngest was 1 year old. Each chapter is a letter of the alphabet, ‘A is for Acceptance’, ‘G is for Gift’, ‘K is for Knowing’; with a ’Tip for the Journey’ at the conclusion of each chapter.

The cover art is from a young man who has autism. His artwork was born from an imaginary world he created in which to escape from the unkindness of others. He’s doing quite well with his creations, speaking at many events having to do with autism.

In terms of your writing, how is your latest book, ‘Words of Alchemy’, different?

Absolute huge difference! The two aspects that are the same is that both books are nonfiction and a memoir. They part ways at this point. Both are not your typical book as I tend to lean towards doing things differently. Words of Alchemy is a free-verse poetry memoir.

When I divorced in 2007, not knowing how I would manage, I became more committed to a loosely held walking practice. Walking, being in nature, became a mediation of sorts, guiding me in processing life events. I found these walks and nature to be deeply calming and healing.

During these walks, I increasingly became moved to photograph nature. Listening to the intuitive nudges of when to stop walking, which direction to look, whether to kneel on the ground, and at which angle to take a photo became a colorful ingredient to the practice of walking.

What happened next surprised and delighted me in ways I find difficult to describe. Following a walk, I would scroll through the nature photographs, choosing one to post on social media. As I began to type a comment to accompany the photo, poetic words spilled from my heart and mind, through my fingers, landing on the screen. This began to happen more and more with the poems becoming more and more meaningful. Eventually the poems began to flow simply from events I was in the midst of experiencing. During morning journal writing, I would write about what was happening in my life. Magically, a poem would flow forth.

It was 2018 when I began to feel that it was time for my next book. I thought I would be writing another memoir. Yet, the pull to gather and publish the poems written between 2012 and 2019 was powerfully insistent. I listened, went with it, and Words of Alchemy was published in December 2019. The cover photo is a photo I took on one of my 2018 walks.

Tell us about your daughter Lillian’s book, ‘Where Would You Fly and Other Magical Stories’.

Lillian is unique in that she is missing the short arm of her 18th chromosome, technically called a chromosome deletion, more specifically 18p-, or 18p deletion. This happens once in every 56,000 births. The main way this manifests for her is that she has speech articulation difficulties due to the physiology of her mouth. Lillian also has depth perception difficulties, an unstable proprioceptive system, anxiety, unrealistic fears, gross and fine motor skill challenges, and tremendous difficulty with handling strong emotions.

I sensed when she was about 4 or 5 years old that she needed an outlet to “get out” all of the words and things she wanted to say, but could not due to others inability to understand her. She’s always been a voracious reader, sleeping with books in her crib rather than stuffed animals. (She has a fear of ALL animals, including stuffed toy animals.) My dad bought her first computer, a tiny pink Asus laptop, for her when she was 5 or 6 years old. We began writing stories together at about 5 years old.

I describe Lillian’s book as a fictional anthology of her life and experiences. It is a collection of short stories, poems, songs, with one section about emotional connection using animals as examples. The collection spans from the time she was about 5 years old through to 16 years old when I began to organize everything for the book’s publication. Lillian is 18 years old now and proud that she has a published book!

Tell us about your son Thomas’s book, ‘Biggest Little Photographer’.

When Thomas was 8 years old, a friend sent a news article to me about a professional photographer who was taking nature photographs of a minifigure camera man taking a photo. The photographer had taken one photo a day for 365 days. I showed it to Thomas, to which he enthusiastically asked if he could do the same. I told him absolutely! He already had a minifigure and purchased a LEGO camera to go along with it. I explained to Thomas that if he stuck with it the full year, we would make it into a published book that he could sell.

We created an instagram account so that he could post the daily photo and he excitedly began the project. About 3 months into it, he shared with me how difficult it was to keep going and he really wanted to stop. I gave him that option, sharing with him to really think about what it would feel like if he stopped the project and what it would feel like if he kept going and finished. After a few days of thought, he decided to stick with it.

Thomas’s book is a collection of half of the photographs he took during the 365 photo a day project, along with quotes that Thomas selected, that I then paired with a matching section of the book. The minifigure camera man went absolutely everywhere with us for a full year. For about the first 2 weeks, I gave Thomas hints about what to photograph and tips for how to photograph. After that, he took over and snapped the photos through his own inspiration.

Given that you are a single mother, how do you schedule time for writing?

I am an early riser, using that time for journal writing, and for tasks that need my undivided and focused attention. I also homeschool Thomas and Lillian, giving us more freedom with our schedules, allowing me more time to write, network, and market our books. Lillian graduated this past June 2019. In addition, I do not work a traditional job. Although I have a college degree and was a paralegal for 10 years before Lillian was born, I stuck with the decision that was made before having kids, of not having a traditional job.

What are you most proud of?

I am deeply proud of having raised Thomas and Lillian, on my own terms, in the way I felt it was best to raise them (and still am). Thomas was 1 year old and Lillian 5 years old when I became a single parent. They are 14 years old and 18 years old now. I have solely raised them, making all decisions, with no weekends or holidays off with the other parent. I am deeply pleased that in 2009, I listened to my intuition that I needed to do something to bring our little family together as a team. That’s when Team TLC was born. T for Thomas, L for Lillian, C for Camilla. The term lodged in our hearts, helping us to work together as a team, and stuck with our friends and family. We still receive mail addressed to Team TLC and are still using the term for ourselves.

I am equally proud of the healing I have done for myself over the past 6 years. Walking into and allowing myself to feel traumatic events from childhood, so that I could free myself. It has been intense, overwhelming, and exhausting. Yet, absolutely worth it.

What can we expect from Camilla Downs in the future?

2020 is the year of rejuvenation for me. The past 13 years have been intense. I will continue to market all of our books, nurture myself, and will focus on family issues, taking time to do some of the things we’ve all wanted to experience and have not been able to experience, due to financial constraints.

I need to take this year to press the reset button, for my physical health and for the emotional health of Thomas and Lillian. We’ve drifted from the Team in our Team TLC; which I know will happen as they get older. Yet, I’ve let vital areas slip by the wayside over the past 4 or 5 years, especially this last year.

One major struggle is about to end for us. Once that gift is showered upon us, the rebuilding of Team TLC begins. Of course it will look and feel different than when Thomas and Lillian were younger, and that’s the beauty of it, tempered with the longing of the way it used to be.

And, yes, there will be more books. I get the feeling the next book will be authored by all three of us. We shall see. I never really know until I become focused on the book’s creation.

Thank you, Colin for having me and thank you for putting so much thought into these questions. I have immensely enjoyed answering them!

Follow the link to read the entire interview …

Author Interview – Camilla Downs

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

“Words of Alchemy” has arrived, December 2019! 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.