An Emotional Connection and Soothing to My Soul – Words of Alchemy

Thank you to Jo of Jaffareadstoo for this wonderful, moving review for Words of Alchemy.

“What did I think about it..

During this global pandemic I find that I am turning increasingly to the healing nature of inspirational verse to help to me stay grounded.

Words of Alchemy is a collection of expressive free verse in which the author shares her intimate thoughts and feelings about life, love, friendship, family, the natural world and does so with a light touch and an almost ethereal longing to be heard.

I find poetry collections intensely personal, as what seems so relevant to the poet can sometimes get lost in translation, but throughout this interesting memoir collection I felt an emotional connection to the thoughts and feelings expressed by this contemplative poet. Written over a number of years this collection is the author’s very personal journey through some of her troubled times and how she found inspiration in mindfulness and observing life around her.

Words of Alchemy is easy to read either all in one sitting or, as I did, dipping into sections at whim but guaranteed always to find something beautifully written and soothing to my soul. I found the whole collection quite charming and a pleasure to read on one of those scary days just recently when the world around me seemed such a very dark place.” – Jo

Follow the link below to read the full review post …

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 15 year old son, Thomas Darnell‘s book, Biggest Little Photographer is published. Be inspired! Learn more and order here.

Reblog: Congratulations to Lillian for Another Milestone

Congratulations to Lillian

September 19 2020

I’m finished. I’m done! After eight years, Lillian will be fully taking over an aspect of her self care. We have been working the past seven months on her taking it over fully. I did it for the last time about 30 minutes ago! Hallelujah!! Congratulations to Lillian!! Photo from our July 2020 Date day.

Just had to share this amazing news over here, too! Go here for the original post on The Team TLC blog …

Congratulations to Lillian

The Tipping Point of Pressing the Reset Button While Being Bold

I’m chattin’ with Haley at The Caffeinated Reader about my tipping point, bribing myself, being bold, and why I wrote free-verse poems for six years. Grab your coffee or tea and join us …

The Interview

1. So first of all, the world is a bit crazy this go-around of Indie Spotlight, have you had time to start any new writings? Read any good books lately?

Things sure have been getting stirred up, haven’t they? I think every single person has been touched by the pandemic or the calls to address systemic racism.

In January 2020 I realized I had reached a tipping point in my 15 year journey of emotional and mental healing. I decided that this would be the year of rejuvenation, a time to heal physically, to rest, to press the reset button, and to market my latest book published in December 2019. So I haven’t started any new writings, other than blog posts on my website. I have given myself permission to not write this year, if that is how it unfolds.

I’m reading three really good books at the moment. 

  1. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  2. Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake
  3. me and white supremacy by Layla F. Saad

2. What’s something that helps with your writing process? Any certain playlists or maybe a certain time of day that helps to spur you along?

What helps me with writing is to first set the intention that this is what I am doing. Reminding myself not to get distracted, at times bribing myself …. You can check social media, or go for a walk, or whatever it is, after you write.

My writings are intuitive, with no planning, just being ready to receive and write whatever comes forward. Specifically in regards to my latest book, Words of Alchemy, the writings were inspired by going for walks, the nature photographs I took on these walks, and life experiences. Sometimes I would listen to Indian flute music, Tibetan singing bowls, Deva Premal, Stevie Nicks, or Van Morrison when writing, other times I would write in complete silence with a view of the trees through my living room windows.

3. Did you always want to be an indie publisher, or did you ever consider traditional publishing?

This was not something I thought about or planned for in advance. I knew that if I dwelled on what would happen after I wrote my first book, it would delay the actual writing of the book. With that, I dove into writing with the book being completed in about 3 months, and published in less than a year.

Once the book was written, I knew I did not have the patience to inquire about traditional publishing. The people and resources I needed to publish that first book seemed to just fall into place as needed. Review blurbs were offered, the cover art was donated, and the book design and editing were donated.

You see, I was not in a place where I could afford to pay for anything. Many saw the value of the story, and wanted to assist in getting it published. I made a ton of mistakes, learning as I went along, and used that for publishing the next three books. I’m sure that I still make mistakes, however, if I had held off until I knew what I was doing, I truly believe I would not have four published books currently.

4. What was the inspiration for your book?

I had no intention of writing poetry. I didn’t sit down and think, I’m going to write poetry for six years, and then publish a free-verse poetry memoir. When I visited Mount Tallac and Fallen Leaf Lake six years ago, something within me shifted. It was deeply moving, bringing me to tears, simply by being in the quiet of the lake, sitting with it. As I drove home, I made several stops along the shores of Lake Tahoe, equally as moving as she is breathtaking. By the time I made it home, I had written my first poem. (Picture included of Mount Tallac, Fallen Leaf Lake, and Lake Tahoe)Further poetry was inspired by nature walks and the photographs I took during these walks. Still further poetry was inspired by life events, as my way of processing what I was experiencing.

5. Is there something special you like to do when not writing or marketing your books?

I adore going for walks, being in nature with the trees, sky, clouds, bushes, flowers, birds, and wildlife. When I’m on these walks, I am intuitively moved to take photographs. I’ll get a nudge to turn around, look up, look down, and a further nudge to take a photo. Many times at a different angle or view from what one would expect. This brings me much peace and gives great enjoyment.

6. If you were stuck in quarantine with other authors, which ones would you want to be in quarantine with? 

Oh, this is a fun one! I’d choose to be quarantined with Elizabeth Gilbert, Toni Morrison, Glennon Doyle, Natalie Goldberg, Benjamin Alire Saenz, bell hooks, and Thich Nhat Hahn. Oh my goodness, what conversations we’d have, what fun we’d have. On another note, if you’d ask me this same question two weeks or two months from now, I would most likely list a completely different set of authors!

7. What’s a writing project you haven’t gotten around to that you hope to write someday?

I’ve got several that come to mind. I deeply want to write a creative non-fiction. This has been brewing for a while, and I hope it comes to fruition soon! I’d also like to write a book with my kids. I’ve published a book with each of them, however, I’d like all three of us to contribute to a book. We shall see if that happens. I know there’s at least one more memoir, if not more. And, perhaps a fiction lurking in the imagination, too.

8. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

I would say the most important aspect is to just write. Write, no matter what comes out. No one has to see it. Write every day on any topic just to get into the habit, waking your imagination in the process. After that, plant deep roots of tenacity, and keep going. Oh, and read, read, read books that speak to you.

9. And finally, what is the thing you’d like readers to know most about your latest book?

This collection is from the heart, with my energy infused into each poem, of what I was feeling at the time of writing. Words of Alchemy was not written for a specific reader or audience. These free-verse poems were written to assist me in processing life, with many of the poems written to remind me that I am loved. It is my hope that the collection do the same for readers, that you connect with the writings, bringing a laugh, a tear, a nod of the head, or simply a knowing that you are not alone.

To read the full interview post, follow the link below …

Indie Spotlight #8

Powerfully Personal and Enlightening – Review of Words of Alchemy by Bill Arnott

Thank you to Bill Arnott for this lovely review of Words of Alchemy.

In Words of Alchemy, Camilla relays her story – powerfully personal and enlightening. Her words reflect a recognition of challenges and rewards, the natural world she is mindfully part of, consciously present, and admirable, ensuring she shares it with all of us.

In Words of Alchemy, Camilla Downs invites you to walk with her to share her love of Nature
and Life through a free-verse poetry memoir. During her daily strolls she is mindfully present as she delves into life in the raw and experiences her heart’s observations. Camilla embraces what happens when she opens her heart and invites the written words to flow.

Camilla Downs is a powerhouse – a one-person publishing house, selfless promoter of fellow
authors, bestseller, blogger, photographer, and mom – the order of which is not prioritized. I met Camilla through online authors’ networks. We swapped books, as you do. And I immediately fell for her story – relatable, inspiring – facing challenges, overcoming obstacles, and being a role model. In other words, a good person. A person who, among other things, fuels her creativity and capacity to give by immersing herself into landscapes – communing with the outdoors, shooting photos, and writing about all of it.

Words of Alchemy is her compilation of free verse poetry touching on these issues – a sincere
and sensitive ode to life and to nature. Divided into alchemical sections – experience,
perspective, lessons and growth – we take a seat next to our author for the Alchemy of Healing.

This, from May You See The Beauty:
She awakens to discover that she has / indeed been pulling the weeds and / shifting her view.

Through the Alchemy of Love, we climb a metaphorical trail with this, from The Path:
Keep walking / Keep writing // Keep knowing / Keep loving
And through the Alchemy of Gratitude we reflect, looking back with thanks.

This, from Appreciation:
Study the clouds and the trees. / Listen to the birds.

In Words of Alchemy, author Camilla Downs relays her story – powerfully personal and
enlightening. Her words reflect a recognition of challenges and rewards, the natural world she is mindfully part of, consciously present, and admirably, ensuring she shares it with all of us.

Go here to read the full review …

Words of Alchemy by Camilla Downs

Mermaids and Fairies and Gypsies With Unexpected Life Paths – Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Thank you to Sally Cronin of Smorgasbord Blog Magazine for sharing my interview with author D.G. Kaye. Very much appreciated, Sally!!

Debby and I 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 …

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

Reblog: Walks of Love With a Wild Sunset While Being Hot and Humid

Walks of Love With a Wild Sunset While Being Hot and Humid

August 15 2020

After dinner walk with Lillian last Thursday. Love these walks.


Follow this link to see more photos ..

Walks of Love With a Wild Sunset While Being Hot and Humid

An Outrageously Determined Trailblazer – Spotlight on JQM Literary

Much thanks to James for having me on the JQM Literary Spotlight today! We’re chattin’ about an outrageously determined, trailblazing, heartfelt, warrior woman and how I became an accidental poet. Join us …


I cheated for this one as I felt too close to myself to really nail down my uniqueness. So …. I asked my Facebook connections, what they think is unique about me. Here’s what they had to say: It is unique that my two kids are published authors, along with my two published books. Thomas’s book was published when he was 10 years old and Lillian’s when she was 16 years old. They are 14 years old and 18 years old now. Here’s the rest of what they had to say … I’m a heartfelt warrior woman, who is an Earth Mother, resourceful, creative, a problem-solver, and who is outrageously determined; trailblazing with patience, creativity, strength, perseverance, and altruism.


Nonfiction/Free-verse Poetry/Memoir …. Any age who enjoys free-verse poetry


I began an incredibly deep and profound healing journey after my divorce in 2007. A major part of the healing was going for walks, lots and lots of walks, allowing nature to help me in healing. When in nature, poetic words would simply bubble to the surface of my thoughts. That was the original inspiration. Following this, I began to receive intuitive nudges to take photographs while on these walks. So began the practice of taking nature photographs and posting on social media. One day I sat to look through the photos, choosing one to share, and as I began to type the accompanying message, a poem landed on the page! It was incredibly magical. I didn’t even set out to write poetry, an accidental poet, perhaps?

Go here to read the full spotlight …

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.

Reblog: Wonderful Walks With Clouds and Thorny Sunsets While the Ornamental Grass Glows

Wonderful Walks With Clouds and Thorny Sunsets While the Ornamental Grass Glows

August 9 2020

There were many wonderful walks, clouds and sunsets during the two week stay at home vacation and social media break.


Go here to see more photos …

Wonderful Walks With Clouds and Thorny Sunsets While the Ornamental Grass Glows

Friday Night Drinks at the Bucket of Blood Saloon – Julie Interviews Camilla

I’m having Friday night drinks with Julie in the UK! Plus, we’re chattin’ about Mark Twain, Bucket of Blood Saloon, Billy Idol, Cyndi Lauper, Garden of the Gods, Lake Tahoe, and the sound of wild snails eating … Grab your drink and join us …

Another Friday, they seem to be coming around faster and faster! Which means it is time for another Friday Night Drinks and this week I am joined by author, blogger, self-publisher and mentor…. Camilla Downs.

Camilla, thank you for joining me on the blog for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

Thanks so much for inviting me for drinks, Julie!! Books and drinks, can’t go wrong! I’m having a spicy, virgin Bloody Mary, with pickled okra and garlic stuffed green olives. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Bloody Marys are the one cocktail I cannot stomach, I’m afraid, I’ll have to stick to the gin. If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

We would make our way from Reno up Geiger Grade Highway to Virginia City, stopping to take in the view along the way. Once there, we’ll stroll along the wooden boardwalk, which serves as a time machine to take us into days gone by. We’ll enjoy being immersed in the Old West of gold rush days, touring the mini-museums, the ancient cemetery, learning more about Mark Twain and the time he spent in Virginia City. We’ll end our visit at The Bucket of Blood Saloon, while the Comstock Cowboys perform. I’m including a photo I took of the view as you drive from Reno to Virginia City.

That sounds perfect. USA road trips are one of my favourite types of trip. If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

Billy Idol and Cyndi Lauper …. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, don’t they?

So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

I’m taking this year to press the reset button. Rest, relax, doing whatever is in front of me, or whatever I feel like doing. You see, for the past 15 years, I’ve been on an exhausting journey of healing. Which began with leaving a 10 year marriage in 2006, becoming a single parent to a 5 year old special needs child and her 1 year old sibling, and losing everything. If that doesn’t kick your butt into gear to take a good, long, look at yourself, I’m not sure what will! During that time I published four books, two of which are with each of my kids.

All this to say that I’m taking this year off! No meditating and no writing, unless there’s something that just needs to be written. This excludes my blog as I write whenever I’m moved about life experiences or current events. As this year comes to a close, I’ll begin thinking about what’s next, preparing myself to be guided by the heart. For sure, another book, a return to meditating, and who knows what else!

What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

The proudest moment was having my first book, D iz for Different – One Woman’s Journey to Acceptance, reach #1 in on Amazon in Special Needs Parenting and #2 in Self-help, along with the feedback and reviews that were received. There’s nothing like the feeling of others reflecting back to you, the areas where you shine. We are mostly blind to this, not able to see ourselves as others do. It’s a true blessing when this happens.

The biggest challenge has been having faith in myself and my projects, during creation, and once released into the world. It was a true blessing learning about imposter syndrome, recognizing when it is discouraging me to move forward with a project. I was incredibly relieved when I discovered about imposter syndrome, that it is something many authors, artists, entrepreneurs, and people simply living life experience.

That is something i can relate to, I am a lifelong sufferer. What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!

I would love for Elizabeth Gilbert to endorse one of my past or future books, sharing it with all of her instagram followers, and telling them why she loves it.

That would be amazing, wouldn’t it? What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

I’m really excited about taking this year off. Hahaha! I have to keep reminding myself that this is the case. I keep thinking I should be doing something, with thoughts of guilt and shame for not hustling and working on creating something.

I’m also pretty excited that I’ve finally gotten my daughter’s book, Where Would You Fly and Other Magical Stories, converted to and released as an ebook and am working on getting my son’s book, Biggest Little Photographer, converted and released as an ebook as well. These have been on my to do list for a while!

I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

Last summer I visited The Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It was breathtakingly beautiful. The feeling in the air, the calm, peace, and beauty are overwhelming, in a good way! You’ll definitely need a full day, if not two days to be able to experience all of it.

Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

For the past 7 years, I’ve used organic olive oil as my facial cleanser and moisturizer, and nothing else. I so much like what it’s done for my complexion that I quit wearing make-up about 4 years ago.

Oh, that’s interesting! Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

The Sound of the Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey.

I know it sounds odd. But, I adored this book. I’ve read it twice, and now thinking about it, I’m ready to read it again.

That sounds intriguing and very different to anything else that I’ve read. So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

When I used to imbibe, I would drink a glass of water in between glasses of wine or other alcoholic beverage. I think I’ve only had a hangover a couple of times. Perhaps that helped? These days if I were to get a hangover, I’d turn to Google, searching for a natural cure with something from the kitchen, or perhaps essential oils.

After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

A drive around Lake Tahoe. Stopping for hikes and stopping to spend time at the beautiful beaches. Lake Tahoe is an absolute gem. If you’ve not visited, you may want to add this to your bucket list, too. There’s not only Lake Tahoe, but when driving the area, there are many smaller lakes hidden throughout the area. I’d go for a walk or two, taking nature photos along the way. Then, I’d go for a dip in Lake Tahoe’s ice cold, refreshing waters. I’d also make sure to have a few good books with me, spending time relaxing and reading. Let me know if you make it over one day, as I’d love to meet you in person Julie!

Follow the link below to read the full interview, including the amazing photos paired with it ..

Friday Night Drinks with… Camilla Downs

Kayak Lunch on Lake Tahoe – Thomas and Camilla July 2020 Date Day

Thomas and Camilla July 2020 Date Day

July 17 2020

Thomas and Camilla July 2020 Date Day – Kayak picnic in Lake Tahoe …. …

I have wanted to do this with Thomas for many years. Happy that we finally got to do it!


Go here to see more photos …

Thomas and Camilla July 2020 Date Day