Behind the scenes, new release, Women's Fiction Author

Interview with Author Anne Marie Bennett

C_DAngelo_Behind_the_Scenes_Blog_Author_Interview_Anne_Marie_Bennett

I recently read this author’s new release, Feathers in the Sand, and loved every minute. Anne Marie Bennett has such a beautiful talent for storytelling, as well as including one of my favorite shows of all time, Gilmore girls, in her story! I may have dressed up for Halloween as one of the characters a few years ago, just saying. Anyway, her writing routine and how she handles things like her inner critic was so wonderful that I know you will take something out of it to apply in your own lives.

What gives you energy and joy?

I receive SO much energy and joy from the simple act of sitting down at my laptop and letting the stories spin out of my imagination! In fact, when the drafts are finally done and the novel is heading into the production aspect of the process, I find myself longing to be back in the creative mode of letting a story unfold on the page.

Also, joy and energy come to me when I am in nature (especially by the ocean), laughing with my husband, relaxing with a good book and a beloved feline friend on my lap, and when I am in community with my SoulCollage® friends.

Share one meaningful aspect of you that appears in your writing.

There are so many more than one! In Feathers in the Sand (Seahaven Sunrise Book 1), it’s definitely my love of the TV show Gilmore Girls!  I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve watched the entire series. When I realized I was writing a book about a mother who longs for a Lorelai-Rory relationship with her daughter, it felt natural to give them the names of Tess and Eva Gilmore. There are references to characters and scenes from Gilmore Girls woven throughout the story, because Tess wants Eva to watch the show with her, but Eva is pushing her mother away. And speaking of Gilmore Girls, the setting for most of the book is fictional Seahaven, Maine which in many ways is reminiscent of Stars Hollow—a picturesque small New England town with quirky, interesting characters and shops.

What works best for you with time management?

I learned from both Jennifer Louden and Jessica Brody that big things can be accomplished in tiny steps. When I am ready to start a first draft, I set a goal that is reasonable and attainable, considering the other demands on my time (my online business, KaleidoSoul, plus family time . . .etc.). For Feathers in the Sand, I gave myself from March 1 – June 1, 2021. My commitment to myself was to write for 1-2 hours, 3-4 times a week. I was able to stick to that (and some weeks even more hours!) because it was do-able and because I knew I had a deadline in mind. This might not be a realistic goal for someone else. It’s important to look at your other responsibilities and give yourself a reasonable amount of time.

Another thing I learned from Jessica Brody about time management, especially during the writing of the first draft, is to KEEP GOING.  For example, if I’m writing Chapter 4 and suddenly realize that a character’s last name has to change, I don’t go back through the first three chapters and make those changes. I just make a note of it (on paper or online) and Keep Going. Also, I use brackets [ ] a lot during the first draft. For instance, if I get to a place where a song is playing in the background but it has to be a song from the 70’s, I don’t stop to research that song (which could take me down a very long rabbit hole!) . . . I just use [ ] to hold the place. This was SO helpful to me when writing the first draft of Feathers in the Sand.  There were a lot of brackets for me to go back and fill in in future drafts, but it was okay, being able to use the brackets like this truly enabled me to Keep Going, which helped me manage my time more effectively, which helped me to meet my goal of finishing the first draft in three months!

How do you quiet your inner critic? (the voice of internal negativity)

The best way I can quiet her down is first to become aware that she’s nattering on in the background. It’s been helpful to give her a name and to imagine in my mind what she looks like. I call my inner critic Ethel. When my thoughts turn to “You’re never gonna get this,” “Why bother?”, “Just give up!”, “This is really bad . . .” etc. I know that this inner part of me is trying to get my attention.

Once I become aware of her tugging at my sleeve, I have an inner conversation with her. “I hear you. I see you. What do you need? How can I help you?” She usually calms down as soon as I acknowledge her and try to meet her needs. Sometimes she needs a walk outside, or a nap, or to set the writing aside for a few days. She might need a healthy meal or a piece of chocolate or a glass of water. The bottom line is that when I really pay attention to Ethel and her incriminating comments, it turns out that she’s almost always afraid of something (failure, success, loss of some kind, being laughed at…etc.) If I take the time to listen to her, and to find out what she needs (aka what I need) I can usually reassure her that I’ve got her back and that she is safe.

It’s also helpful to remember that Ethel is really, really good at the editing and revising parts of the writing process!  When she starts criticizing the actual story and characters, I can gently ask her to take a few steps back, and remind her that I’ll really need her help when I have to start cutting out words, sentences, paragraphs, chapters…

What is your next project or goal? If it is a book, tell us about it and when you hope to publish it.

I have already started writing the second book in the Seahaven Sunrise Series!  This one is tentatively called Sea Glass Memories and will include several characters from Feathers in the Sand, but will also work as a stand-alone story. It is also Women’s Fiction with a small-town romance woven in.

A major theme will be how we choose to carry different kinds of grief and loss. One of the main characters is a young widow, Elena Jeffries, who is the new high school English teacher at Seahaven High School. She gets drafted into directing the Drama Club’s senior class play, “Our Town” by Thornton Wilder, and parallel stories and emotions will be woven through Elena’s story as well as the lives of some of the other characters. Fingers crossed, Sea Glass Memories will be found on bookshelves sometime in the autumn of 2023.

I know you want to read this cozy summer story asap, so here’s the info below. Thanks so much, Anne!

Feather_in_the_Sand_Anne_Marie_Bennett

Links to purchase:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Feathers-Sand-Seahaven-Sunrise-Book-ebook/dp/B09ZJBD9G1
Googleplay: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Anne_Marie_Bennett_Feathers_in_the_Sand?id=ECNuEAAAQBAJ
Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/feathers-in-the-sand-anne-marie-bennett/1141427543
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/feathers-in-the-sand
Apple iBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1622515326
Bookshop.org:  https://bookshop.org/books/feathers-in-the-sand/9798986050317
Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/61107714-feathers-in-the-sand

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Copyright © 2022 C. D’Angelo, Author All rights reserved.

Mental Health, novel, Women's Fiction Author

Release to Revive

release-to-revive

Sometimes tradition makes me sick and sometimes I adore it. I like to think creatively and new, but also like to have routine and stability. Am I confusing you? What can I say, I’m a complex woman! But I have a dislike of not wanting to go along with trends of the moment. If you say, “Everyone is doing [insert behavior],” I’ll say, “Cool for them” and do something else to be innovative for myself. I just don’t like to follow the crowd most times because it’s boring to me. So, when new year’s resolutions are spoken of, I support you all the way if making one is your interest, but they aren’t for me. I switch up what I do each year—if I do anything at all (oh yes, it’s not a given)—and this year I am choosing to release some of the mind clutter I accidentally gathered last year. Want to come along for my freedom ride? I’ll help you get rid of your yuck too. Here we go with releasing to revive in 2022.

As a newly published author, I didn’t expect some pieces of a foreign puzzle to jam their way in between the right-fitting pieces of the puzzle I’m working on right now. I don’t know how those remnants got in there, but it’s time to say arrivederci. For example, when I became friends with so many wonderful authors, I was lucky enough that they wanted to help me, and I wanted to return the favor of course. Part of the help entailed them reading The Difference and reviewing it so that my reviews online can start building (this matters, people, so if you give me the honor of reading my novel, please write even a few words on your favorite website (Amazon, Barnes and Noble…)—thank you!). I also want to read all of their works of love, but there simply isn’t time due to having two careers. I’m making my way through my never-ending TBR list, but it’s a thousand times slower than I’d like. Now, I know (hope) that nobody is keeping track of whether I return the favor of reviewing their book if they reviewed mine, but I’m really trying, friends! I’ll get there, but the guilt of not having read some of my favorite people’s novels this past year has been hurting my heart and I need to stop carrying it around.

Another writer’s woe is not reading enough in general, since we become better writers through reading. And, I also want to read some books that aren’t my friend’s books. Gasp! It’s been a while since that happened and I intend to be freer in my reading this year. I have to do that for my soul, you know?

One more aspect to release that I’ll share is pretty obvious…I need to write more. Ah, the eternal writer’s dilemma. I took a much longer than expected break from actual writing since my debut novel published in July and I’ve been on the marketing wagon, then I needed to edit my next book, The Visitor, to get it on track for publication this year. Before I knew it, January arrived! So, as soon as the current edits for it are complete and I send it to the next editor, I’ll finally be starting my third book, The Decision.

Now, how can I truly release these guilts, yucks, and wrong puzzle pieces? I’ll turn to my therapy background and use imagery, maybe some action, and a dash of self-talk. Effective and simple, yet challenging to continuously put into practice.

What I mean by using imagery is that we all have the power to imagine releasing/relieving scenes. Think of such visions as writing your thought of release on a piece of paper, then sticking it in a balloon and watching the balloon float away high into the sky, along with your worry. Or, maybe you prefer screaming the thought into a passing train. As the train zooms by, the thought that bothered you is also moving further away from you. I also like the image of “writing” the distress on a leaf, then imagining it floating down a peaceful river. All of these methods are freeing, as well as able to be practiced by anyone anytime.

Guess what. You can also physically carry out these actions. Maybe you want to actually write on pieces of paper and rip them up, then throw them out. Send your trash out the door by placing it in the dumpster or at the curb. There, the distress is symbolically gone from your special place/home, and therefore your body. See what I mean?

Now let’s add the self-talk. You can say anything to yourself, and this is strong stuff, my friends. What we tell ourselves, we believe. So, I can say for example, “I release the guilt I carry for not yet reading my friends’ books.” I also can remind myself, “I embrace my individual timeline and life commitments.” Letting that ending positive thought wash over soothes me. I can physically feel my shoulders loosen. Now you try.

Fill in your own needed words with these statements:

I release…

I let go of…

I get rid of…

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I attract to me…

I embrace…

I welcome…

I will…

You can also pair certain tactics from above, such as envisioning scenes (imagery) then saying these powerful statements (self-talk). Or, you can say a statement as you do an action. Anything is possible and you have a whole year to get in this groove. Isn’t that exhilarating?

I know I can do most anything I set my mind to and I believe you can also. The future is yours to revive. Take hold of it and make it how you want. Choose these new choices and feel the freedom that is 2022.

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Bonus: Did you know I’m part of a premier group of authors called the Author Talk Network? Creativity, collaboration, and an urge to communicate has resulted in a unique alliance of nineteen authors, most of whom have never met.  We’ve created a network where readers and authors come together to discuss books and so much more.  The authors are available individually, or as a panel, for library programs, book clubs, school groups, or clubs and as guests on your show or blog. Just click on the picture below for more information. Contact us because we can’t wait to meet you!

author-talk-network

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Copyright © 2022 C. D’Angelo, Author All rights reserved.

Behind the scenes, Debut Author, Women's Fiction Author

The Key to my Success

the-key-to-my-success

Sometimes what we think will never happen is exactly what happens. When I started my publishing journey in 2019, I would have never thought I would still be waiting for The Difference to be published in 2021 because I got my contract with a small press so fast. But, life happened and here I am on a whole new journey, one that has left me more knowledgeable for my future but most importantly happy and free. I believe I need to create my success, regardless of any barriers that arise.

If you have been following me on social media and are receiving my newsletter, you know I have decided to self-publish my debut book, as of last month. My heart can’t handle querying it again and waiting any longer, so it will be out this summer! I will never publicly explain the many reasons that led me to this difficult but needed decision because I will not be disrespectful to others. Yet, there are some insights I want to express through this blog post which I hope will help you out in your life, in both writing and non-writing adventures.

Let’s start with the picture below.

successful-people

Isn’t this true? From the outside, it seems like some people are successful overnight and that it is smooth and upward. I hate to break it to you, but this is hardly ever the case. If so, more power to you! I’ll cheer you on and hope it continues that way for you. But, as for us other folks, our path may resemble the right arrow a little more. But isn’t that what’s more fun anyway? Who wants a boring, old, easy success? *Raises hand, but accepts my reality

In the field of psychology, there is a concept called Grit, coined by Dr. Angela Duckworth. Her definition of the word is “passion and perseverance for long-term goals.” Basically, talent and luck contribute to success, but letting nothing stop you (grit) with your goal may matter just as much, as far as she has researched. With any setback or obstacle, if you want that goal, you keep going. That’s grit. And that’s me.

grit

Only those closest to me know how much I’ve worked on all of my writing, but especially The Difference since it’s been my longest project (since 2013!). The sacrifices I’ve made shows my grit, like my first marathon this month. No, not with actual running (I relate to that statement you’ll only see me running if someone is chasing me). My marathon involved editing my book so it would be ready for my editor, to  keep on target for my publishing schedule. I stayed up until 11:30 p.m. one night (way too late for me), didn’t even leave the house for a week, and barely spoke to loved ones because I had to get it done. They understood, thank God. Nothing ever has stopped me from progressing on getting my book published, especially not this new pivot with self-publishing. Learning how to be my own publisher makes me proud and having total control is exhilarating. It will completely be my vision, from cover to cover. Ahh, I can’t wait!

Now, having grit doesn’t mean I have to do everything on my own. I think it also means knowing when to ask for help in order to keep achieving the long-term goal. Without my writer friends’ knowledge (and support otherwise) and my non-writer friends for their endless emotional support, I could have never turned around my journey as fast as I did. Within days, I had all the professionals lined up for getting my book done. Hard work was and is ahead, but I’m all in (Gilmore girls reference, anyone?). I’m forever grateful to my support system. Don’t overlook how necessary one is on the mission in front of you.

The recent experience reminds me of a game I played when I led summer camp in the past. One person takes hold of a ball of yarn then throws it to another person in the circle. The intent may be to compliment the next person, for example. Then, they throw the yarn to someone else. Eventually, you have a web of connection by yarn and words. Everyone is weaved together in the game, but still freely independent from the web in front of them, reminding them of their connection to others if they choose it. The web is supported only when everyone helps one another, though. If one person lets their yarn drop, the whole web will collapse. It’s a true metaphor for this writing community. I think we need each other. I am both linked to the other writers and free. We can aid one another in our independent journeys. I know where to ask for help to reach my ultimate goal and they know where to find me.

I encourage you to think about your grit and goals. What’s the key to your success when you realize you are a gritty as me? I know you are! Only the grittiest of gritty people read these sorts of blogs. 😊

Dr. Duckhorn does have a grit quiz, if you search for her and want to take it, but I think you know if you have a gritty soul. By the way, I just want to keep saying grit because it’s fun.

Anyway, I suggest the following to help you gain clarity on your needs (taken from my own experiences):

  • Think about what your long-term goal is and what it means to you.
  • How much are you willing to sacrifice for this goal? Financial? Personal time? Changes in relationships?
  • Envision yourself meeting that goal. How do you feel? How is your life different? Let that feeling guide your decision making in the present.
  • Once you have decided you must meet your goal, write down your plan. Write this plan old-school style, not digitally. I’ve found in my therapist background that when people use their own handwriting, more commitment occurs, as well as more creativity in the plan. I won’t bore you with details, but it includes seeing your own processing on paper.
    1. In your plan, think about who you have as a support system. If you don’t feel you have a good one yet, create one. Join virtual groups and online communities. Join live activities as well. Do whatever you need to do achieve your dream.
    2. Set realistic, small steps to walk along the path to your goal. I want you to feel like you are making progress with all that is in your power.
    3. Determine what you will allow for a timeline, even for the steps. But this important— account for setbacks. This is life and two steps back will happen on your steps forward. It’s okay. You will rebound.
    4. And finally—begin today!

Take the energy you have right now and make your list. Just jot down some ideas. You can always add to it later. I wish you lots of luck and am here to chat anytime to brainstorm.

I want you to be as happy as I am for the new life changing decision I’ve made. It wasn’t easy, but as soon as it was done, it was clear it was the right one for this first book. I’m free. I’m at peace. Best of all, no matter what happens I’m the key to my success, grit and all.

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Copyright © 2021 C. D’Angelo, Author All rights reserved.

Debut Author, Women's Fiction Author, Writer

Leaping Out of the Box

leap-out-of-the-box

When have you gone beyond your comfort zone or “out of your box” in your life? Take a second to think (insert Jeopardy music). Okay, are you back? 😊 I hope you were able to think of an example, but if not, do not fear! I’m here to tell you about my author experiences lately and to hopefully encourage you to take that leap into the great beyond.

Let me clarify why I use the word leaping instead of getting out of the box or stepping out of the box. First, I use the term because getting out of the box is way too normal for me and I’m a quirky lady. LOL! But second, I think sometimes people contemplate taking a risk, possibly peek over the side of the metaphorical box, then either decide to stay or leave. Leaping means you boldly go into the wild by following your gut and to me that’s a leap of faith. If you choose not to leap, there’s no judgment here. Of course, this post is about encouraging you to push yourself so I’m going to say try it out. Just once. Something small. Come on, please?

As I approach the release of my debut novel, THE DIFFERENCE, this year I’m finding more and more opportunities for me to leap than expected. I’m thrilled about it and more than ready after my long publishing journey, but there’s another side. Translation= facing anxiety provoking tasks.

Do any of you relate to feeling anxious leading up to speaking to the public? Where you will show your heart to strangers? Where you will talk to people you look up to in your field? Welcome to my world. I am now in the stage of preparing for author interviews to talk about my book, giving my art and soul (get it? Haha) for public viewing and criticism, and communicating with people I only dreamed of chatting with in the past. I’m SO lucky to be in this place, but guess who I have to keep pushing to say yes. Me!

During brainstorming for one of my potential release parties, I was asked by the host if I wanted to do something on camera and my panicked reaction slipped from my mouth without thinking. A loud “No!” spilled out, but seconds later I was able to process how wonderful the idea is and say “Sorry, that was my fear.” I’ll most likely engage in the genius suggestion whenever that party happens and urge myself to be vulnerable.

Even though avoiding is my usual first reaction, I generally do the fearful thing because I know it will be good for my big picture goal. For my book, I need to take every opportunity kindly given to me, and I have done so this whole time already, from my pitching business to even writing a novel at all. I can’t stop now when it’s most important. What I have been finding is that I freak out a little upon the idea of the opportunity, the moment I accept an invitation, or whatever the case may be. Then, I prepare to the max, while still anxious usually, sign on to do the event, for example, and… all is fine. In fact, I usually feel a huge sense of accomplishment and joy and realize that I worried for nothing.

You know by now that I am always genuine so I’ll be honest in the moment and share if something goes awry anyway. I’m not going to hide it, and people respond to that relatability. Isn’t it better to show we are all human and imperfect? So again, why stay in the box? It doesn’t make sense. Being free is so much better, especially when we free ourselves from the fear of sounding a certain unflattering way or making a mistake. Nobody cares as much as you. Nobody is as focused on you as you. Nobody will remember these silly moments, so let’s not let the possibility of them keep us from wonderful new experiences.

what-if-I-fly-quote

Instead of thinking about failing, I try to change my mindset to what beauty can come from taking the leap. I have the analytical side and the dreamer side in me, so I try to embrace the positive “what if” side for these circumstances.

A theory I use in my clinical setting as a psychotherapist is called *Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. The basic idea is that thoughts lead to feelings which lead to behaviors. So, if you have an unhealthy or illogical thought, you may feel a certain negative way, which makes you act in a certain way. For example, if I think “I’ll make a fool out of myself if I do the live interview,” then I may feel sad, anxious, and fearful. The behavior is that I may decline the interviewer or maybe I will avoid even responding to the invitation. But I can try to challenge my thought with evidence from the past, such as how no disaster has ever happened during interviews, only good outcomes. I also may ask myself what I would tell a friend, because aren’t we easier on others verses ourselves? A final question I may ask is what is the worst, best, or most likely outcome that may occur? Well, in this case, the worst may be I that misspeak or some other insignificant action to everyone else. The best outcome may be that my book sales go through the roof because it was a fabulous interview! The most likely outcome may be that people enjoy the exchange and are interested in being in my author world, buying my book or otherwise. Ah, now there’s relief as a new feeling overtakes me and I may go ahead and say yes to the invitation.

Comfort-zone-magic

Going outside of your comfort zone usually is where the magic happens. One type of faulty thought is trying to predict the future. The beauty in this is that if we avoid predicting by challenging the thought, we most likely will be pleasantly surprised by the unexpected possibilities and invite goodness to flow our way. Trusting the process is a big phrase in the therapy world, but I think it also applies to life. Sometimes we have to give in to the process and trust it is a good step along our path. That’s why I say leap, don’t inch out of the box. 

So, as I venture into making reels on Instagram (eek!), doing live interviews (ahhh!), and soon going outside my natural comfort zone of asking “Hey, want to buy my book” instead of just giving it to people, I’ll continue to push myself and challenge anxiety provoking thoughts. I’ll also be thinking of you inspiring me. We will catapult out of our boxes. That’s right, we will bust out together. I know we can do it.

*The description of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is not to be used in place of therapy.

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Copyright © 2021 C. D’Angelo, Author All rights reserved.

Behind the scenes, Debut Author, Women's Fiction Author

Just Say No to Comparison

Just-say-no-to-comparison

You are not meant for my journey and I am not meant for yours. That’s a dose of Captain Obvious, right? We usually know this statement to be true in our heads, but our hearts fall into webs of anxiety, disappointment, and helplessness because we compare ourselves to others at times. No matter the topic for comparison, it will always bring us a false sense of security or happiness… or dreaded sorrow. What a time waster! So let’s try to stop this behavior together.

You may not know unless you are in this book publishing world that it is the slowest business on the planet. That’s my perspective of course, but I view it as a beautiful shiny green turtle walking toward a lake. The sparkly blue destination will come in time but getting there takes forever and a day. The turtle crawls along the grass with a smile on its tiny face taking it one step at a time. He’s slow and steady, knowing he will get there at the perfect time for him.

I’m a person who works non-stop until my goal is reached, so on a long game like getting my book published, it’s challenging. I want to knock it out, like, yesterday. During the wait, it’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing myself to other authors’ experiences, based mostly on what they post on their social media. Ah, there are the key words. Social media. Cue the doomsday music.

Who looks on their social media and wonders about your own life based on what you see your friends doing? *Everyone raises their hand including me.* This doesn’t happen on my personal accounts, but lately has been happening a little on my author accounts. Don’t get me wrong, I’m beyond thrilled for others’ success, but when it’s taken this long to get my book published, it’s hard. I’m human. And I’m just being honest, as I always try to be with you. I still cheer for my fellow writers and support them all I can. I always will. And I always want them to shine and succeed. It’s just that moments happen where I have the feelings of wishing I could control my circumstances and get The Difference finished and out to you already (there have been publisher delays, which is common in the industry). I’m sure you can think of a time in your life, even now maybe, where you felt like you wanted to do something beyond your control and fall into the hole of comparison. Here’s my thoughts on the chain effects of social media comparison.

social-media-cycle

It’s a slippery slope, huh? Remember that I am a licensed psychotherapist as well as an author, so this is my personal perspective and not research based for this blog’s purposes. However, this graphic information comes from twenty years of psychological experience of comparison evils. Anyway, it is very real and can happen easily, I think. But let’s remember one key fact.

behind-the-scenes-reel

Brilliant (especially for my behind the scenes blog)! When we see what others post, we only see a snippet. Try to remember that. Who knows what happens behind the curtain? I know that I never post negativity or struggles on my own profiles because I don’t want to spread that energy. I want people to experience an escape and to feel joy when they see my content.

So how can we stop the comparison monster from feeding on our motivation and happiness? Below are a few my suggestions and those that I tell myself.

 Thoughts to play on repeat in your head:

  • You may be seeing the result of many more years of work by someone, when you are just starting.
  • You are shining in your own way that others may admire. The sun shines at a different time than the moon.
  • Apples and oranges are not comparable. Both are needed, beautiful, and desired.
  • Feelings and thoughts are fleeting. You will not always feel this way. It’s temporary.

Actions you can take:

  • Ask yourself what is in your control. What can you do to help you reach what you want when you look on social media? How can you work toward your goals?
  • Imagine a tiny person inside of you, called your inner critic. Give it a name, think of what it looks like, and think of what it says to you to de-motivate you and harass you. Now tell it to stop! Send it away by throwing it out the window. Do anything in your imagination to make it cease or leave. It does you no good.
  • Take a social media break. Don’t look online for a day or more. Everyone gets burned out and needs time away. It’s more than okay; it’s necessary sometimes.

Let’s make sure we stop comparing ourselves to others. Make it your mission this month. Know that I’m doing it with you. This way, you can feel even more joy for your fellow humans. Your turtle will make it to the lake, so enjoy the steps along the way. And when it reaches the warm, fresh water, drink it in and float in your success. We’ve got this.

(Just in case you need to talk to someone about your feelings of anxiety, depression, or anything else, make sure to reach out to loved ones in your life and/or make an appointment with a professional. Here’s a national hotline that can provide resources and help as well: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264). Be well, friends.)

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Feel free to follow and share my blog. Also, join my VIP Newsletter for announcements, giveaways, and more!    

Copyright © 2021 C. D’Angelo, Author All rights reserved.

Author, Italian American Author, Women's Fiction Author

I Gotta Be (Uncool) Me

Uncool-Me

Do you consider yourself cool, “in,” or on-trend? Are you a person who wants to do what others are doing, read what others are reading, and live the life like the Jones’? I’m still not so sure about me…or am I?

As this new year began, I thought about whether I want to change my approach with my social media accounts. No, not the themes of what I post (don’t worry!), but who I follow or even the books I read to then be able to share with others online. I’ll come back to that in a second, though.

What sparked this blog post was that I was surprised to read over and over in accounts over the last few days that others had the same thought about who they want to interact with online. So many people even declared they want better relationships with followers/who they follow versus only thinking about the numbers of people on their account for the sake of having high numbers. I feel like I am rarely in the majority of common thought, but maybe 2021 has changed that pattern. Haha, yeah right. What’s funny is that at this point in my middle-aged life, I don’t completely want that anymore (gasp!).

See, I have never been a cool person. I’m a nerd. I have embraced it by now, for the most part. During adolescence it was a different story! I was never a person who wore the best clothes, who wanted to be the center of social attention, or who knew how to throw or catch a ball with any success. Yes, I was the person picked last in PE every single time. But I always had good friends, tons of laughs, many hobbies, and excelled in school and the arts. If that is part of the criteria for being uncool, I’ll take it.

But back to the present. How can I fit in with the author culture online but remain myself? How can I play with the popular kids?

I feel like the picture at the top is a good example of how I perceive myself. I am an author, like all the other, ahem, pencils, for most major aspects, but I am also different like the green pencil. I want to draw like the rest of the best, be with them and be considered part of the group, but I don’t want to do what everyone else is doing. In this industry, though, that can be a problem at times. Yes, I want to continue on my traditional publishing path (for which I am extremely grateful to be in that company), but I also like to stand out within that path for uncommon and unique reasons. Maybe it’s my niche interests I integrate into my novels like genealogy or the nuggets of Italian American culture I hope people find as interesting as I do. Yes, fun facts are my jam.

If you follow me on social media, you know I have high engagement with my followers. I also try to comment and connect with people who don’t follow me, of course hoping they will, but that’s not the reason I do it. I like chit chatting with everyone. I love giving to others, and online that means making comments, liking, and sharing what someone worked hard on to show to the world that day. I want you to know someone sees you and is rooting you on. By doing this, I’ve made true friends. This is why I have been particular on who I follow back. I want to see posts on my feed that are interesting, clean, inspiring, and beautiful, from kind people. I would rather that any day than having high following numbers from people I would rather not be associated with for my brand. It’s hard to remember that some days, though, but I know I’ll get there.

Another thing you may notice is that I usually do not read huge books of the moment. Maybe I should more often, but I am usually months or years behind. It’s like when capris became popular and I purposely rejected them because everyone was wearing them (plus I have long legs and just wanted a pair of pants that fit!). Sometimes I go the opposite direction of something everyone is doing. It’s my own personal protest. Yes, I know it doesn’t make sense, but it does in my head. I like to be more of an individual and do not like to be told what is good or what I should be doing. I like to read books that may even be embarrassing to post to the world. You know, uncool type books (for example…just kidding. I’ll leave you wondering). In fact, that’s why I don’t post every single book I read on Goodreads. Some info will be left private. I’m even shy to post a #shelfie!

This quote from my favorite artist is an example of how I perceive my choices for my online presence.

Van-Gogh-quote

I can’t have both ways of interacting in either of my author dilemmas. A choice must be made. I need to stay the path I have carved out for having maybe less followers than others but better engagement with people I admire. Also, to continue to be at peace with not reading every new release and hot book of the month. Oh yeah, and to quiet the voice of guilt or the question of fitting in online in my author world. I’m not a true bookstagrammer anyway. I adore the bookstagrammers, don’t get me wrong, because they make my feeds gorgeous and they bring new books to my attention for when I’m ready in ten years. I guess my “color” ismy uncoolness. My being me. My continuing to post what makes me (and my followers) happy. My color lets me shine and stand out from the other authors because they are doing their own things and I continue to do mine.

I may change my opinion in the future, and I am okay with that. Right now, my focus is on getting The Difference published this year (date released soon, eee!) and continuing to edit The Visitor for querying. If you relate to this post, you will love The Difference. My main character Rachel’s journey of self-discovery involves feeling different for her entire life and struggling to find her meaning. Oooh, I can’t wait for you to read it.

I hope you love my genuineness in my posts and my vulnerability here today. I’m just being me. Plain old, uncool me. And I’m great with it. I encourage you to be you as well. There’s only one of each of us, after all.

Dr-Seuss-quote

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Copyright © 2021 C. D’Angelo, Author. All rights reserved.

food, Italian American Author, Women's Fiction Author

Memories…Christmas as an Italian American

buon-natale

Last year in December, I posted about my memories of my family’s Italian American traditions for Christmas. It was a huge hit! I think we can all use a dose of nostalgia again this year, so here’s a re-post for you to walk down memory lane with me. Enjoy!

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It’s time to say Buon Natale, or Merry Christmas, again. I’ve been thinking about all the wonderful traditions I had as child in an Italian American family and I want to share them with you. Every family has their traditions for the holidays, but mine when I was a child were all Italian style, so I’m curious to hear how they are similar or different to yours.

My grandpa was an immigrant from Italy and my grandma was a first generation American, so their traditions were pretty darn authentic to the experience one may have if they celebrated Christmas in Italy, with maybe a dash of American flair to make it a true Italian American experience. I feel lucky to this day that they taught me the beautiful aspects of an Italian Christmas. 

What did the traditions include? Well, I’m glad you asked (um, I mean that you are still reading this post). I am breaking the traditions into food, food, and more food. Just kidding, but really there was a lot of food. Okay, let’s say the memories include time at home, food, music, and religion.

Christmas Eve was just as large and important as Christmas Day in my house. It was always celebrated at my grandparents’ house and Christmas Day was celebrated at my house (that’s just a D’Angelo thing and not specifically an Italian thing, to clarify). My grandparents had the standard pepperoni and provolone cheese appetizer, with plenty of crackers. Sometimes figs from grandpa’s tree were also set out. Always a variety of nuts as well. A random but delicious and light mix for apps. 

The music played softly but just loud enough to draw attention to it, from the room next to the kitchen. Crooners like Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra were only a few of the many voices I heard as a child. I also loved when the children’s Christmas songs came on the radio, like Dominick the Donkey (google it and it won’t get out of your head the rest of the day; it’s the best!). 

Before I get to the dinner, let me tell you about the wine. Everyone had a small glass of red wine, even me as a kid (gasp!). It’s normal in an Italian household to allow older kids and young teens to have a small glass of wine. This way, it is savored and you learn to appreciate it, not to abuse it or seek it secretly.

The dinner we ate was huge, especially for a kid. Grandma’s special soup was always on the stove the entire time we were there and finally we were able to eat it as a first course. The soup had rib meat, celery, carrots, garlic, onion, and pasta of course. I have the recipe but could never make it like her. Another part of the first course was the fish baccala, which only my grandpa liked. Traditionally, Italians do the feast of the seven fishes, but we didn’t have that kind of money! The final first course was prepping for the main course by the adults eating hot peppers. These spicy to the max peppers were ones my grandpa grew in his yard. I’ll always remember all of the adults crying while they ate them, saying through their tears, “uh, these are good;” sniff, blow nose, eat more. It was strange to me, but now I get it.

The main course was always aioli. This simple but flavorful linguini dish had garlic and olive oil with a sprinkle parsley and plenty of grated parmesan cheese (aglio= garlic, e =and, and olio = oil, hence, aglio e olio or aioli). Don’t forget the homemade bread. While grandma’s soup simmered, grandpa made loaves of bread. His crusty white bread couldn’t be beat. The other part of the main course was salad, eaten after the meal. The European way is to eat it after so I did that nightly, and still do. The dressing was only one; grandma’s mix of olive oil, vinegar, oregano, salt, and pepper. 

Dessert was always a mix of homemade Italian cookies, including pignolis and pizzelles. If you haven’t had these, you have to try to find them this holiday. Pignolis are pine nut cookies and pizzelles are snowflake looking, thin almond flavored, traditional Italian Christmas cookies that have confectionary sugar on top. Is your mouth watering by now? Mine is.

So, after all of this, we didn’t lay on the couch; we went to midnight mass! As a kid, I slept until 11 PM, stayed awake until we got to church, slept more, and then was awoken at midnight by loud singing and church bells signifying Christmas Day was upon us. It was a groggy time, but also exciting because, my gosh, Santa was coming!

Waking up on Christmas Day was pretty standard. We opened gifts and blah blah blah. But later, grandpa and grandma came and the real celebration began. 

The appetizers were set out to munch on, including a few of the same from the night before, but also one special one came with dinner. As we sat at the table, my mom would sometimes have shrimp cocktail ready for us at our setting. Then, the soup of Christmas, pasta fazool (okay, it’s really called pasta e fagioli; pasta and beans). My mom was taught by my grandma to make it our special way, which isn’t the way you would see it in restaurants. Ours had long spaghetti broken up instead of small pasta. The beans were usually northern cannellini in type. The tomato sauce base was pretty standard though. 

The main course was usually stuffed shells or lasagna. The sauce (not gravy! This is an Italian American battle of names) was homemade to perfection. Meatballs also, of course. The homemade bread was there again also. Salad came last once again. 

Dessert was again pizzelles but also could be something special like cannolis or cheesecake. Now I’m even more hungry!

So, on to music. My dad played accordion and keyboard so the radio wasn’t on after dinner, my dad was “on.” He belted our Italian classics and all of us watched and sang with him. Music is a large part of the Italian culture. There is always music being played on the radio/records/tapes/CDs, being played live, singing with the music was normal, and breaking out in dance was almost a certainty. My grandma danced around with me, while we tried to get grandpa to dance. He was more of a watcher. But the holiday ended on this high note, pun intended.

It was so much fun to re-live these memories through sharing them with you. Please tell me about your experiences. Most of all, enjoy the moments as you partake in the traditions you engage in today. These are the special times we will hold into the future.

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You can make pizzelles! I am giving away my family recipe when you sign up for my VIP newsletter. I hope they bring you overflowing joy this season.

Copyright © 2020 C. D’Angelo, Author. All rights reserved.

Behind the scenes, Italian American Author, Women's Fiction Author

Routine and Self-Care Are Your Friends

Routine

Routine. Who responds with excitement and who has a negative reaction to this word? I’m sure there are both reactions out there, along with a variety of in between reactions. I personally love routine and thrive with it. I like to leave freedom in my activities within my routine, but generally, even for my artistic expressions (which may sound counterintuitive, but I’ll explain), I have a routine of some sort. I think it’s grounding. This year, more than ever, I know we can all use a sense of feeling stable with predictability, so let me help you to get there, with intentional self-care thrown in for good measure.

I’ve known about my proclivity for routine for a long time of course, but recently it hit me with how valuable it is for my writing career. I’ve been working on my second novel, which is set in contemporary New Orleans and about an Italian American woman’s journey with trust and allowance of help from her community. I started in July and now have a first draft. It only took three months! The Difference (coming in 2021) took five years. Yes, you read that right. Now let me tell you, it was due to a variety of factors, with the biggest being that writing was a fun hobby back then. I did it as my mood shifted toward that creative outlet. After signing with a publisher and getting into the author world more, writing has grown to be another career for me (I’m also a psychotherapist). I prioritize writing and working on my craft consistently. This blog is part of that consistency, by the way so thanks for being a reader/follower. 😊

During the unknowns in this wild year, I think my Sunday writing routine helped me to have a loved task to look forward to and one which I could depend on weekly. As you know, when you have a passion you will make sacrifices for it. Giving up other interests, needed tasks of the week, or even quality time with my husband on Sundays was what I chose to do so I could get that book out of me and into the world (well, at least in my world right now). It gave me a sense of control in my life when the events around me were yet to be determined. I knew when the quarantine happened that I wanted to make the most of my “down” time and this new book is a huge goal I can check off as accomplished.

With routine there is another necessary factor, I think. It’s almost the flip side in my mind. The way to keep a routine consistently is to keep yourself energized and ready to go. How does one do that? Well, I do it with self-care. That’s kind of a buzz word now, so it may have different meaning to different people. But self-care, to me, means doing activities that bring joy, relaxation, and comfort to you so that your mind and body can recharge for the next step/activity/day. Oh, I hope you know that included in self-care are basic human needs like healthy nutrition and enough sleep. I need to make sure to say that since they are extremely important but are often overlooked.

There are obviously different ways in which people can gain a sense of relief through self-care. I personally do not love to be physically active (but do it because I should for my health and blah, blah, blah), but can sit on my butt for hours reading, crocheting, drawing, and anything else artistic. I love vegging out with TV, movies, and social media too. But you may have different needs. View my list below for some ideas for your self-care.

Physically driven people (If you love moving/outwardly expressing to feel relief)

  • Walking or running
  • Bike riding
  • Swimming
  • Dancing
  • Singing
  • Playing instruments
  • Yoga
  • Talk to a friend

Mentally driven people (If you love staying in a resting position and reflecting internally to recharge)

  • Arts and crafts
  • Reading
  • Listening to audio books
  • Taking a bath
  • Movies and TV
  • Puzzles
  • Journaling

I can literally go on and on. But those are just a few ideas to get your wheels turning. What do you think? Any seem enticing?

So, let’s make sure you choose a time in your day to do a little something. Maybe just one tiny thing, even if it’s drinking a cup of tea or smelling a fragrant candle. Imagine when you can integrate this into your life. Right now. Go on, do it. Ok, continue reading. 😊

Set a routine for the self-care! Maybe it’s before you get out of bed, before you go to bed, at lunch time, or for 5-10 minutes in the morning or afternoon. Let’s make it happen. I know you can do it!

I hope that this blog post sparked some ideas for you to flourish even more in your life. I’m happy when others feel inspired and motivated by reading my blogs, newsletters, and social media posts. Of course, my books are the biggest tools for conveying these themes, so I can’t wait for you to read them as well.

Always feel free to share ideas this gave you, ask me for input, tell me how you worked routine and self-care into your life, or even how you plan to do so on the near future. I love hearing about your intent and success. Happy routine and self-caring!

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Copyright © 2020 C. D’Angelo, Author. All rights reserved.

Behind the scenes, Debut Author, Italian American Author, Women's Fiction Author

Dedicated to the One I Love

support-people-quote-misty-copeland

Did you know that an author needs more than good ideas, the ability to write well, and the hard (oh so hard!) work that it takes to make it in the publishing world? There is one other HUGE factor that sometimes is forgotten. We need the support of loved ones in our lives. For me, the biggest part of my support team is my husband, Jason. I also have friends and other family around me that continue to lift me up, keep me motivated, and help me out with advice. I know I couldn’t be where I am without any of these people, but this blog post is dedicated to my partner in life for almost 20 years. 😊

When I made the decision to write my first book, The Difference, I didn’t know it would affect my husband. Silly right? I have many artistic hobbies, so how is this one different? Oh yeah, because it involves not only creating and having fun, but building a business. Yes, authors, it’s true that our writing is a business once you share it with the world and intend on making money. Anyway, I didn’t want to or couldn’t think that far ahead because, quiet honestly, it would freak me out, which I have told you in past posts. I didn’t know what needed to occur to get my book published, but I knew I would get it done (and it’s coming soon! Eek, so excited).

You may be wondering how another person is affected by having an author in the same household. Let me count the ways. First of all, he experienced my hours upon hours of writing my book. As I got more serious about my craft, this took away precious weekend time. We both work full time, so weekends are the times we have all day together to relax, travel, see friends, and even run errands (which we think is fun to do together- yes we are weird). He always understood the need for me to spend the time working on my book, but sometimes it was hard to give up the “fun” time. Don’t worry, though, I gave myself breaks. 😉 Now he’s used to the time needed to write, especially since I’m in a routine of weekend writing. With the quarantine, we are working from home daily anyway, so we have plenty of time together. That’s something great to come from the world issue this year.

He’s also had to grow his patience with my social media needs. I’ve always been a photography lover. Wherever we go, especially in travels, I take about 5 million pictures a day. No joke, I have about 30 albums (yup, I’m old school like that). I LOVE to capture everything so I have lots of memories to look at and reminisce about, but now my habit has grown to also keeping an eye out for content to post in my feeds or stories. Since I post daily, I’m always on the lookout, even without being fully aware. My poor husband has had to wait so many times for me to get the perfect angle of something. He especially needs patience when I ask that he take a picture of me in a special location. My approval can take many photo attempts and I know it’s not easy for him (we are all our own worst critics, right?). Sometimes the writing of my post even takes away from what we are doing in the day, although briefly, but he understands it’s part of the gig.

Then there came the querying. This is when authors send their manuscripts and other content out to publishers and agents so they can get a publishing deal. My husband reaffirmed me every time I got a rejection. Every. Single. Time. He never gave up the hope with me that a deal would come. Some days the loss and need to try harder affected me more than others, of course, but he was strong for me, leading me to always be 100% sure someone believes in me and my work. I knew that already, but it’s comforting to hear in those moments. This graphic describes how I feel:

husband-qualities-happy-wines-club-book-quote

More sacrifices you ask? Well, this may be the biggest of all. As my business grows, I have added many responsibilities. There is this blog, my newsletter, marketing and promotion for my book, and writing my second book. Every step of the way, he has heard me talk about it nonstop. People, this is not an exaggeration. If you know me personally, you know when I have such a strong passion for something that it’s almost all I think about most of the time. It’s also a majority of my conversations with him lately. Whoopsie, I didn’t realize that until he pointed it out. And remember we are working from home daily together…all day long…every day…24-7? Oh yes, think about that one for a second. He hears me talk endlessly about every bit of my processes. Rarely does it bother him, so he’s basically a saint.

Along with all of the above, he has taken on many household chores that I usually did during our relationship. He gives me time to write by doing more than his share around the house, despite my rising guilt at times. I seriously couldn’t do it without him and I’m so lucky to be able to devote time needed to my writing. It’s because of him.

Do you have a major support person in your life? I sure hope so. Everyone needs a cheerleader. I know I’m privileged to be in this position. I also know the road ahead is still long, especially since I plan a prosperous and lengthy career of writing (I’m putting it out into the universe). My husband and I will remain a team for this goal of mine because it benefits us both. Have you ever heard “happy wife, happy life?” LOL, just kidding, but honestly, our individual goals become a couple goal all the time. I’ve supported him with his goals and will continue to do so, as will he for me. What more could an author ask for?

Venice-Italy-with-Husband
Jason and I- Venice, Italy

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Copyright © 2020 C. D’Angelo, Author. All rights reserved.

Author, Behind the scenes, Women's Fiction Author

The Art of Taking a Break

take-a-break

Does anyone find it ironic that nowadays we have to be conscious of taking a break? If you don’t, I admire you! I have to make sure to keep relaxation in mind so that I don’t overwork. See, I have a problem; I’m a workaholic when I’m passionate about something and my writing fits that category. My mind never stops running for ideas, things needed to be done, and planning for the future. “It’s a gift and curse,” as a favorite TV character says (anyone else love Monk?). This part of my personality allows for me to accomplish a large amount. It allows me to have success in my life, to never stop until I reach my goal…but it also tires me out at times. Finding a balance is important. I know this, but putting it into action can be challenging at times.

Recently I took my birthday week off because my husband and I planned to go on a vacation. Well, as you all know, that wasn’t a possibility this summer, so I decided to have a staycation. Although I have been working from home for my day job for the last 4 months, I knew it would feel different to actually be off the clock, even when in the same location. Somehow being home for work, where I don’t have to commute two hours a day, still doesn’t mean I can get everything done that is on my mental to-do list. Yeah, that’s because that list is endless and unrealistic. I know that yet still try time after time. Anyway, I told myself that week I would relax, breathe, chill out. Putting it into action was harder than I thought.

I did a good job overall with daily leisure. I saw a couple friends (safely of course), I drew and painted, cooked, read some books, played my ukulele, watched TV, and enjoyed swimming. But you know what’s coming…oh yes, I did a little author work as well. Of course I was interacting on my social media daily, but I don’t count that because it’s fun (and needed, yes). But, how could I have a week off and not do some of my author related tasks? That’s just ridiculous. I ended up starting my second novel. Yup, I spent a day getting my outline ready, formatting, and actually writing the first few pages. And you know what? It felt good! I had a weight lifted off of my mind by starting it and also had fun writing. That has to be acceptable, right?

I have to admit, though, I felt guilt either way, so I went ahead and was productive. At least that way I moved forward on my goals. Although I did all those fun and relaxing activities, I had that little voice in the back of my head telling me “Shouldn’t you be doing something writing related?” I had to keep reminding myself that it was vacation for me. I had to fight against my workaholic spirit to free myself to engage in the fun activities. And I did, except for that one day. Hey, I think that’s pretty good and will give myself a pat on the back, thank you very much.

Who else experiences this push and pull of the guilt? I think a lot of us feel it, especially in this unique year. So, does taking a break require a special skill set? Is there an actual art to it? I’m an artist so that should come easy to me. There is that word again, though; should. I try not to use it as much as possible because I’ve learned it creates more guilt. I help my therapy clients with avoiding that mindset as well, but it’s hard to apply to myself sometimes.

Back to the art of it, though. Maybe the art is simply having a balance. Maybe it’s just knowing when I am at risk of being drained. Burning out will be counterproductive in the end, so I don’t want to reach that place. Living where I can work and relax must be the way to go. Instead of push, push, push, maybe I need reminders to pause, pause, pause. Balance for the opposite ends of the spectrum is needed. I need to live in the gray and not the black or white, so to speak. That’s a fact. I know this, but sometimes my overachiever spirit tries to quiet the thought.

Okay, here’s the plan to lessen guilt by taking breaks routinely. I have a few realistic (key word for me) author tasks to complete each week, so this week I started to make a list of them. Checking them off as I finish them feels satisfying, which is a bonus to the completion of the actual task. I am making sure to also have a choice of 2-3 hobby related activities I can choose from each weeknight and on weekends. I work well with structure, but this is just enough to feel like I accomplish something and also hold myself accountable for down time. I’ve accepted that I require mental organization for even down time. I’m not a person who can “just relax.” My relaxing requires my mind to be as free as possible from the to-do activities, so having a plan is key. I work well with limits and rules., even when I make them for myself.

Look, there is always more to do. There is always a way to do better and be better in any area of life. That opportunity excites me, but I need to pace myself, my gosh. I do believe things come when the time is right, so it will just happen when meant to be anyway. What is in my control is taking care of myself, which means rest. That is how I will be my best for myself and everyone else.

Your art of taking a break may look different than mine, but that doesn’t mean either of us are wrong. I love learning from others, so always feel free to tell me how you do with the balance of work and play. Let’s all take care of ourselves during this year especially. It’s a great lesson to learn for the rest of our lives.

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Copyright © 2020 C. D’Angelo, Author. All rights reserved.