My Desired Super Power With a Million Pounds – Chelle Interviews Camilla

I’m chatting with Chelle of Curled up with a good book about jobs I’ve had over the past 13 years, Fahrenheit 451, Arsenic & Old Lace, the best thing I’ve done so far in my life, my desired super power, Equal Justice Initiative, and what I would do with a million pounds! Check it out … xoxo ….

Tell us a bit about yourself:

My name is Camilla (pronounced like Pamela, but with a “C”) and I live in Northern Nevada, USA in the beautiful city of Reno. We live in very close proximity to Lake Tahoe with great walking and hiking in forests surrounded by fir and pine trees, with gorgeous lakes. I love reading, going for swims, going for walks, and taking nature photographs.

How many books have you written and published?

I’ve written two books, and contributed to two others for a total of four books. I’m an indie author and publisher under my own imprint of Loving Kindness Books.

December 2019: The latest to be published is the free-verse poetry memoir, Words of Alchemy.

January 2018: My 19 year old daughter’s book, Where Would You Fly and Other Magical Stories. This is a collection of her short stories and poetry from the age of 5 years old through 16 years old.

October 2016: My 14 year old son’s book, Biggest Little Photographer. This is a collection of photographs that he took during a 365 photo a day project, beginning when he was 8 years old, concluding at 9 years old.

February 2012: D iz for Different – One Woman’s Journey to Acceptance, a memoir of my journey to acceptance of becoming a single parent, acceptance of becoming a parent to a special needs child, acceptance of myself, and acceptance of financial ruin.

What other jobs have you done other than being an author?

Before I became a mom in 2001, I was a paralegal for 10 years and before that I worked in the mortgage industry. My day job for the past 18 years has been being mom to my two kids, 19 year old Lillian, and 14 year old Thomas. I’ve homeschooled (well, unschooled them) for about the past 5 or 6 years, with Lillian graduating in June 2019. Lillian is special needs, having a chromosome deletion called 18p-, so I’ve been her caretaker too.

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

Name one book you think everyone should read and tell us why?

I recently read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I know, very late to the game with this one. However, I was swept away by the story, and kept finding myself comparing it to modern times. A must read for anyone who has been living under a rock, like me. Hahaha!

What’s your favourite film of all time and why?

It’s impossible for me to name a favorite of all time. So, I’m going to share the first movie that came to mind …. Frank Capra’s Arsenic & Old Lace. We watch this every year on October 31st. My son and I love the oldies, especially Frank Capra movies. Here’s a link to the trailer …

What is the best thing you’ve done in your life so far?

The best thing I’ve done in life so far is spending the past 15 years on healing myself, getting to know myself, loving and appreciating myself; while solely single parenting two unique kids.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?

My superpower would be a heightened and clear intuition. Specifically, having to do with myself, where I would be happiest and most useful at contributing to society, while also supporting my family. This is a blind spot for me. Others can see the areas in which I shine. Yet, it is not clear to me.

You win a million pounds – you give half to charity. Which charity do you pick and why?

I would donate to the Equal Justice Initiative ( The work that Bryan Stevenson does through EJI is much needed, and speaks to my heart. I cannot fathom if someone I loved experienced what those who EJI helps experience. It’s maddening and heartbreaking. I watched a movie recently based on the case that Stevenson took on that created the EJI. It’s titled, Just Mercy, and it is a powerful movie.

What would you do with the rest of the money?

I would invest some of the money. With the remainder, I would take my family on a lovely vacation. Then, I would buy a piece of property, and build each of us a small house on it. My daughter will always need someone with her, or at least really close. This way she could experience being independent and I would get a BREAK from her!! Hahahaha!

What is your favourite time to write, and why?

My favorite time to write is in the morning. I feel more alert and in the zone during that time. However, I’m okay writing at any time, whenever content decides it’s ready to be written!

Go here to read the full interview 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.

No Idea What I’m Doing While Earth Dancing With Three Positive Words – Sonya Interviews Camilla

This past July I took part in a written interview with Sonya of “A Lover of Books”. Before the interview could post, Sonya made a decision to retire from book blogging, which I fully understand. Book blogging can be intense! I figured I would share it here as Sonya put much time and effort into going back and forth with me, and pulling it together.

Sonya and I chat about having no idea what I’m doing, being a nature inspired poet, not intending to publish my poetry, how writing has been therapeutic, Earth dancing, and three positive words. Join us …

First of all can you tell me a bit about your latest book, ‘Words of Alchemy’?

Absolutely, Sonya! Words of Alchemy is a free verse poetry memoir that covers six years of my life, from 2013 -2019. Writing has been and is therapeutic for me, including writing poetry. When I began writing poetry in 2013, it was a way of processing life experiences, healing, and getting things out of my head. Words of Alchemy is a poetry collection of these events.

What do you hope readers will get out of this book?

It is my hope that readers connect with the content, causing them to laugh, shed a tear, or nod their head in agreement. If something I have written helps another to view a situation differently, opens their eyes or heart to a new way of experiencing life, or simply lets them know they are not alone, I am truly blessed.

Is this a book people can turn to when they need to relax or are after some inspiration?

Looking at feedback I’ve received, I would say yes to this. I think the best way to respond is to share some of that feedback.

“I immediately fell for Camilla’s 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.

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.” – Bill Arnott, June 2020

“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 zen like mindfulness by the melodic prose in this beautiful collection.”- Michelle S.

“Full of beautiful, inspiring, thought provoking poems about love, nature, acceptance, joys, fun, mindfulness and gratitude. They really pick you up and make you consider your own life … It’s a feel good collection of poems that really will brighten your day.”- Lynne P.

For people like myself who haven’t really read much poetry would you say your book is a good starting point?

Yes. In my mind, I divide poetry into two categories, traditional and non-traditional (free verse). I personally struggle with traditional poetry, I just cannot wrap my mind around some of it. However, that’s also the case with free verse poetry. I’ve read some that I could not follow. With that being said, I feel my poetry is easy to read and easily understandable. I’ll also say that if someone doesn’t connect with mine, please do not throw out all poetry. Poetry is so very different. It can be deeply satisfying and moving. Keep trying different authors and styles.

What was the publishing process like for you?

Words of Alchemy was my fourth book to publish. I am now officially an indie publisher, under the imprint of Loving Kindness Books. WooHooo!!

Being that it was my fourth book, it was much smoother this time around. With my first book in 2012, D iz for Different – One Woman’s Journey to Acceptance, I had no idea what I was doing. I literally figured it out as I was going along. Before writing the book, and during the writing, I did not let myself think about how it would be published as I felt that would stifle and delay the book being written.

I wrote the book in 3 months, then set out to publish it. Friends beta read the book, with some editing along the way. A friend connected me with a young man who has autism, D.J. Svobado, and who is also an artist. I felt his artwork would be perfect for the cover of the book, and he was thrilled to donate the artwork as I offered him a full page in the front of the book to share about himself and his business.

I got stuck when it was time to upload the book to Createspace (now KDP). At about the same time D.J.’s manager contacted me to follow up regarding his artwork. She wanted to know about the book and to read a few chapters. She also asked if I had someone that would be editing the book, doing the graphic design, and uploading the book. I told her that I was going to figure it out on my own as I did not have the money to pay someone.

After she read the chapters, she offered to do all of this for no charge as she was incredibly moved by what she read. It turns out that this was an area of expertise for her. The publishing of this book was unique. Everyone who had anything to do with the book’s creation, donated their time and skills. It was amazing and incredible the way it came together.

How long have you been writing poetry?

I’ve been writing poetry since 2013. That’s when 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 sprang to life. 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 couple of photos from Fallen Leaf Lake and Lake Tahoe.

(Fallen Leaf Lake – 2013)

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.

(Lake Tahoe – 2013)

Was it always a dream to see your poetry published?

When I began writing poetry in 2013, it was therapeutic in that it helped me process life. I did not begin writing it with the thought of publishing it one day. I had no thoughts of publishing it until mid 2019 when I knew it was time to publish another book. I had planned on writing another memoir similar to my first book. Yet, my heart kept bringing me back to the poetry. When I finally listened and took a look at just how many poems I had written, I knew that was to be the next book.

Do you have a favourite place where you do your writing?

Just as long as I’m comfortable and wearing comfortable clothes, I’m happy. I like to sit on my couch, with my computer in my lap, with the sun shining in the windows, and a lovely view through my windows.

Do you have any other writing projects on the go?

Not at the moment. I have ideas brewing, adding the ideas to my notes to come back to when I feel I’m finished with my time off. I’m also participating in many author interviews and spotlights. These are fun and tough at the same time as many of the questions pin me down for solid answers. Definitely not an area of strength for me.

Do you read a lot of poetry?

I am reading more poetry. In the past, poetry was not a chosen genre for me. Having written a book of poetry, I’m more inclined to read a variety of poetry now. I am up for giving any style a shot and want to support new poets and indie poets. With this changed attitude, I’ve come across some lovely poetry.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I absolutely love going for walks, whether that be on a manicured walking trail in the city or a dirt hiking trail in the mountains. Taking nature photographs during these walks is a hobby I’ve been at for about 13 years. Reading is another activity I do in my spare time. There’s just nothing better than devouring a wonderfully written book, or expanding the mind and heart through a nonfiction book, memoir, or poetry. Here are a couple of photographs I took on recent walks.

(Scripts Wildlife Preserve – 2020)

Can you give me three positive words?

You. Are. Worthy!

Thank you, Sonya! Thank you for having me on your blog, thank you for your time and efforts in putting this interview together. Thank you for your kindness. All the best to you!!

About Camilla:

Camilla Downs is a bestselling author, indie publisher, mentor, and mom. Nature and life experiences are a constant source of inspiration for her writing. She enjoys living a minimalist lifestyle, practicing meditation and mindfulness, reading, going for walks, and capturing nature’s essence with photographs. Camilla is the founder of and lives in Northern Nevada, USA with her two kids.

Words of Alchemy is the poetry memoir of a single mom who traveled through the ups and downs of life with reverence and reflection. This book is for those who are in need of uplifting, easy to read poetry that leaves you feeling comforted, inspired, and with a different view of how life can be lived.

Book Blurb:

In Words of Alchemy, Camilla Downs invites you to walk with her to share her love of Nature and Life through a heartfelt 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. The Alchemy of Love and Healing is what happens.

Family Website:
Amazon Author Central:
Meeting the Authors:

Where to Buy:

Words of Alchemy: If you’re in the U.S. and would like a personalized, signed book – free shipping! (I will ship internationally, if the reader would like to pay the international shipping fee):
Amazon – Words of Alchemy:
Amazon Author Central:
All of our books:

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,, up to date, and working on 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. 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


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 …

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 Attraction of Poetry – An Interview on Shaz’s Book Blog

What attracted me to writing poetry and where do I get inspiration … One of the topics covered in this lovely interview on Sharon’s beautiful blog.

“Today it’s my pleasure to welcome author Camilla Downs to the blog to talk about her book of poetry Words of Alchemy.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how your writing journey started?

Hi Sharon! Thank you for having me on your lovely blog. I grew up in Jackson, Mississippi and Houma, Louisiana, moving to the Seattle, Washington area when I was 19-years-old. The next move in 2006 took me and my two kids to Reno, in Northern Nevada, where we currently live. We absolutely love living here. I enjoy going for walks, writing, reading, and taking photographs of nature.

I’ve been single parenting Thomas and Lillian since they were one year old and five years old. They are now 14 and 18. I have homeschooled them for the past 4 years, with Lillian graduating June 2019. Thomas and Lillian each have a published book, with my 2nd book being published December 2019.

I loved writing when in elementary school, but I don’t remember being incredibly encouraged by the teachers and adults around me, perhaps even discouraged with the red marks and comments on my writings. So, I did not pursue it, except for writing in a personal diary. I had several traumatic occurrences as a child, and I must have intuitively known that writing in a diary would help in some way.

When I divorced in 2007, something told me that I needed to learn about this popular online writing tool called blogging. This began my journey of learning all I could about blogging, blogging platforms, and social media tools. At this time another shift happened, in that I felt an intuitive nudge to begin sharing my life experiences publicly via blogging and social media. I began to write and share life narratives, with a shift to free-verse poetry beginning in 2012.

What attracted you to writing poetry and where do you get your inspiration?

I didn’t set out to write poetry, an accidental poet, perhaps? I began an incredibly deep and profound healing journey after my divorce. 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.

What do you think are the ingredients needed for a good poem?

I don’t feel I’m the least bit qualified to answer this one, as my poetry is free-verse, not fitting a textbook definition of poetry. Before gathering the six years of poetry I had written, I spent a few days researching the “definition” of poetry and what makes a poem a poem. There seemed to be much argument, with firm beliefs about what is and what isn’t poetry.

I will say that the main ingredient for writing poetry, for writing of any style, is to simply write. Let go of judgment about what comes out when you write, and just write. Write, write, write. The second ingredient is tenacity. The third ingredient, write.

Has your idea of what poetry is changed since you first started writing?

This is going to sound pretty crazy …. In the past, I have not read much poetry. I know. It doesn’t make sense that I would write poetry for six years, and not be reading it. However, that has changed. My eyes have been opened to the beautiful world of poetry and I have been choosing to read it more often.

What advice would you give to someone who would like to try writing poems?

I’m not sure I’m one to hand out advice on writing poetry, since my experience was quite different. Except to say, if you want to write a specific style of poetry, to read as many books of poetry in that style as you can get your hands on. Read them until they soak through to your very core, until you’re sweating, bleeding, crying, laughing poetry of that style. HA! Whether you want to write free-verse or a specific style, write daily.

What is the first poem that you read that made you think; I would like to write something like that one day?

I cannot recall reading a specific poem that caused me to think this. However, the more I immersed in nature during my walks, the more nature poetry moved me.

And finally, what can we expect from you next?

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.

There will be more books at some point. 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 Sharon for having me and thank you for putting so much thought into these questions. I have enjoyed answering them! … Follow the link to read the full interview …

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.