Tonight’s featured author is Valerie Gilbert, writer of Raving Violet. It falls under the non-fictional humor genre. I want to thank her for her participating and sharing with us a little about herself and her work.
Enjoy the read everyone!
Title: RAVING VIOLET
Author: VALERIE GILBERT
Genre: NON-FICTION HUMOR
Social Media connections:
Release Date: January 17, 2013
Where to buy:Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Black Opal Books, SmashWords, KOBO, AllRomance.com
Bio: Having told funny stories her whole life, Valerie started putting them on stage as solo shows, stand up comedy, in storytelling competitions and gigs, and finally (saving her breath) committed them to the written page A native New Yorker and Harvard graduate, Raving Violet is Valerie Gilbert’s literary debut.
Chapter Three: STACKING THE DECK
Someone gave me a craptacular tarot deck. While the artwork wasn’t bad and it came in a pretty, diaphanous purple bag it was impossible to decipher. I don’t read tarot well on a good day. I have to look up each and every card, and the flimsy pamphlet that came with my Aquarian deck is basic, to say the least. But I like the idea of tarot cards. They are mysterious and depending on which version you have, quite beautiful.
This gift deck had new suits. Made up suits. Instead of the standard Wands, Swords, Cups and Pentacles, it had Shells (what the f’?) Gems, Roses, and Wings. I ask you. Tarot is inscrutable enough without me having to translate cups into wings and swords into roses. But the deck was pretty enough that I kept it lying around, and I started using a card or two as bookmarks, at which they excelled. There was no need to interpret the card now. We both knew what it meant once it was lodged firmly in a tome. Sit! Stay! Keep that book in line! It wasn’t telling me what was what anymore, I was telling it. The dynamics of our relationship had started to change.
I pull a single card from this sketchy deck (and several other decks of cards I have) to start the day for a simple, New York minute reading. I don’t have the patience or skills for a full spread. I have Celtic cards, angel cards, Archangel Michael cards, animal cards. Usually a single card will suffice, I will say, “tell me what I need to know today” et voila, a revealing message ensues.
Right before I allowed an acquaintance to stay with me for a few days I woke up with Lindsey Buckingham’s song “Trouble” in my head. This didn’t bode well although I love the song, so I decided to look up the lyrics. It’s a love song. The guy’s in trouble because he’s falling in love. I sighed relief, although I wasn’t looking to fall in love with my friend. But then I pulled an animal card, Coyote, the trickster, which implies the potential for manipulation or trouble. Turned out the title of the song and the card was right, or rather my intuition, which they both reflected, was right. The four-day visit ended explosively. I patted my intuition on its back and sighed more relief that the guest was gone. I felt empowered that the signs I received were accurate. ©2012
1 When did you first start writing?
About 15 years ago a girl I knew from college asked me to co-write a feature length screenplay with her. I was wary as I knew nothing about screenwriting except two 5 page sample scripts I’d written for a film theory class in college. Frankly, I wasn’t even familiar with computers. But she asked me because I’m funny, and I had great material to contribute to her concept. Once I started working there was no stopping me. I realized I WAS a writer. I’m a natural. I have a way with words. Why wouldn’t I, a quick-witted, verbal actress from New York City? The problem is shutting me up!
2 Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
An actress! I always wanted to be an actress. I love to dance. I can sing, too, but never pushed that angle. I love great films. I love great theatre. And I grew up in New York City, so I was exposed to a lot of it. I adore being on a film or tv set, or onstage. It feels like home to me. But that career never gelled, and at a certain point, the “hobby” of your dreams just doesn’t have the same ring to it, nor does it pay the bills. I am expressing myself happily now with writing and I don’t have to worry about hair and makeup (as much).
I’m straight up non-fiction. I don’t read fiction, although I did as a kid, by necessity. I find real life fascinating enough. That being said, my interest is in metaphysics, and those stories often read like science fiction anyway. My mind is constantly expanding. And so is my heart. That’s the work that moves me. The stuff that connects the dots, from head to heart, and from person to person.
4 Where does your inspiration for these stories (this story) come from?
Walking out of my apartment in the morning. Just living my life. I am a humor magnet, and I can see and hear the humor in almost anything. Unless I’m crying, and sometimes, even then. I have the ability to pull things together and create meaning out of them. A story has to have a punchline, like a good joke. There has to be a beginning, middle and end. And I want my readers to be left with a lesson or an awareness at the end, because, at the end of the day, I need that in my life for myself. Not everything gets tied up neatly with a ribbon, but if you are philosophical and wise, you can pull back, or up, enough to get some perspective. That’s what meditation is for. Journaling. Talking to a friend. Getting smart with yourself. Studying the mysteries. I crave meaning. I create it. My stories reflect that.
5 What has your publishing experience been like?
It was out of a dream, or rather, out of my chapter, “The Law of Bananas”, which is a play on the law of attraction. I know from my own experience that when you prioritize happiness, joy, passion and enthusiasm, that miracles happen. The mechanics of this involve deleting the bad stuff (as much as possible) and moving toward people, places and activities that make you feel good. We have this choice every day. If you don’t believe it’s possible to be happy, and fulfilled, you’ll never consider my theory and try it for yourself.
As I systematically said NO to what I could no longer stomach, even though I was petrified of many things (like poverty and starvation), I knew I couldn’t go back to what I hated. So I stayed the course. I was true to myself. And I started writing. People encouraged me on and off to do a blog since I’d done solo shows, stand up comedy, and storytelling gigs. I didn’t want to write a blog. I didn’t want to read anyone else’s, why would they want to read mine? I find many blogs to be self-indulgent.
However, one day it all clicked. The moment was right and I started a blog, and was immediately a new person. I beamed with pride in my work. I had a tangible, public product, this “thing” on the internet. By my third piece I was confident enough to send it to a famous astrologer, Bridgett Walther, whose website I check daily. She’s a VERY fun writer with a wicked sense of humor. I sent her my piece, “Stacking the Deck” (excerpted in this interview) which is about being true to yourself and charting your own course. When I checked her daily report for me after writing the piece, it exactly mirrored what I’d just written. So I added that fact to my piece, and sent it to her with no idea what could come of it. A few days later she wrote that she LOVED IT and asked if she could she publish it on her website? Uh, the answer was “yes”. From there, we became friends, and she, a published author, pointed me in the direction of the publisher who accepted me in short order. Bridgett was my fairy godmother, and I dedicated Raving Violet to her.
I believe I was meant to be a writer, though it was never my dream nor my goal, as much as I love books. The pieces fell into place easily and effortlessly when the time was right. Was I rejected many times before from writing contests? Did I work 14 years on and off on that screenplay with no sale? Yup. Did that stop me from writing? Nope.
6 Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? i.e. You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
No routine. I sit at my laptop at my desk in the same chair. A certain amount of inspiration, and determination is required. I’ll know when a story needs to come up and out when I feel an urgency, almost like being ready to deliver a baby, or some other product out of my body. Clear the decks! Get me to that computer.
7 How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
Since my work is non-fiction, I only change names here and there to protect the guilty. I’m great with chapter headings and book titles. They jump into my head. Like I said, I’ve got a good ear, and eye, for writing. Things just “pop”. That’s when you know you’re “in the flow”, connected to your own source of creativity. We all have one. Getting connected is the trick. The key to that is getting right with yourself. I write about that in Raving Violet.
8 In your most recent work, who is your favourite character and why?
Ultimately, I’m my main character because everything is from my standpoint. I love me a lot. So, I’m my unabashed favorite. Happily so.
9 Did you learn anything from writing your book? What was it?
That dreams come true. And writing a book wasn’t even my dream! But it was my destiny, and I don’t mean that in a pompous way. Listen, I wanted to be an actress. That didn’t work out, though I’ve done lots of theatre over the decades and it is a part of who I am. But you can’t escape your fate. I was warned decades ago in a channeled reading “and someday you will write”. Uh huh. Right. Who cared? I didn’t. It was never a goal. But I do believe I have a wonderful message to share with those who will be drawn to my words. I survived the early death of both of my parents. I had a short lived marriage early on that, for the most part, I’d rather forget. However, it kickstarted my life, and I do mean KICKED, after being suicidally depressed after the deaths of my parents.
I was depressed for a very long time. I pulled myself up by my bootstraps. I didn’t turn to pills, doctors, drugs or alcohol. I figured shit out. I sought out spiritual teachings and teachers. I took classes. I was a “seeker”. I still am. The thing is, I’m a “finder” now, and I find that I am my own best teacher. I teach that too. I really believe we must all come back to ourselves in a loving, warm, accepting way that enables us to own ourselves, our sovereignty, and our journeys. And happily. It is possible. Not just because I did it. But because it is the essence and birth right of all humans. Again, if you don’t believe this, you’ll never give it a test run. I’m a believer. I proved it to myself. And this does not mean that you have to be happy all the time. It means you could be, if you wanted to. Just ask The Laughing Buddha. Nice to know that being happier more of the time, at least, is an option.
Add that I’m funny, a smartass, you get your heartbreak and brilliant insight all with a laugh, you can’t go wrong with me. I love my style. It’s a potpourri of poignancy, realism, magic and majesty. I enjoy myself. I encourage you to enjoy yourselves, too.
10 How did you/do you market your work?
Doin’ it right now, baby! I’m not a fan of the “go for broke” school of “do it all”. You can’t do it all. You’d lose your mind. I don’t text. Heck, I haven’t had TV for 4 years, and am proud of that, and happier for it. We all have ADHD now because of all the tweeting, tooting and twatting around. It’s ridiculous. We’re nervous wrecks! I believe my book will find it’s target audience, men and women around the world, organically. That being said, any opportunity I have to promote myself and the book, I do. I’m very spontaneous, and very intuitive, something I talk about in Raving Violet, and how to become more so yourself. I’ll get an email and it will inspire me to write someone, or the sender. Could be a bookshop, a website, or a reviewer. I am a magnet now for good things since I am in a happy place. That’s the law of attraction. It’s really worth playing with. Get in line with yourself, and see what happens. Life can flow easily, effortlessly, and organically. Why suffer when you can have fun? It really does have to do with our choices, attitudinally and behaviorally. We are the power in our lives. Many people don’t get that. Yet.
11 Can you describe the feeling you had when you saw your published book for the first time?
I have to say, it felt absolutely natural, no butterflies in the stomach. Pleased? You betcha. But it was as if it had always been there. Energetically, metaphysically, I would say that it has always been there, my destiny awaiting me. It’s always existed. I just had to catch up with it. And write it. When things are right they’re a good fit. They feel relaxed. I like COMFORT and ease, those are the new mottos in my life and I encourage others to try them. I’m going to try them on in my next relationship. I’m done with angst, longing, pain and suffering. Been there, done that. Seeya!
12 Favorite authors?
Lynn Andrews, Patricia Cori, Florinda Donner, Carrie Fisher, Barbara Marciniak, Neal Donald Walsch, Michael Roads, J.R.R Tolkien, Fred Rochlin, Norton Juster, Shel Silverstein, and Dr. Seuss.
13 Have you ever suffered from a “writer’s block”? What did you do to get past the “block”?
Nah. I only write when I have something to say. Sometimes I’ll push myself to finish a piece, or start one, but if things really aren’t flowing I don’t get my knickers in a twist. I’ll put something down. Even if it seems stupid or terrible, I know it’s just a starting point. For instance, my last blog piece was all over the place. I was ranting about some personal stuff, then threw in some philosophical stuff, then a review of magazine articles in addition to a theatre review. Now, there’s nothing wrong with a mish mosh. I write stream of consciousness. But at the end of the day, there has to be a thread. When I was ready to get down to brass tacks I deleted a good 1/3 to 1/2 of the piece. It just didn’t belong there. I needed to rant at the time, so I did. But there was no reason for anyone else to read what I wrote. You need to have discernment. A critical eye. And you need to “let go”. Anything deleted can be recreated. If you were brilliant once, you’ll be brilliant again. You are the gift. Not your words. The brilliance is you. Trust that.
14 What piece of advice would you give to a new writer?
“Write” is too an obvious an answer. I say “live”. Live your life. Have adventures. Dream about them. Take action. Take daring action. Do new stuff. Challenge yourself. Push your own buttons and face your fears, the greatest gifts live there (short of sticking your head in a lion’s mouth). Pursue your dreams and live them. You can always manifest on some level. Just because you’re not yet published doesn’t stop you from writing, does it? A perfect example. You don’t need permission from anyone to live your life. Live it. Feel it. How can you possibly understand characters or story if you haven’t lived? The writing will come. The opportunities will come when the time is right. And no, you don’t get to pick when.
15 Are you working on anything new? If so, can you tell me about it?
I’m writing all the time. All I have to do is live and I have a story, whether or not I leave my apartment. Life happens, right? Life is a story. When you’re as fun and quirky and adventuresome as I am, the stories write themselves and I add my insight, humor, and unique spin. My second book, MEMORIES, DREAMS AND DEFLECTIONS: My Odyssey Through Emotional Indigestion, has been written and Black Opal will publish it later this year. So I’m in the process of writing my third book, which may be RAVING VIOLET II, or some other brilliant title that catches my fancy. Thanks to my host and interviewer, Tracee! Blessings to all. ©2013