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Author, Anjuelle Floyd
Submitted by: akgmag.com interviews
Anjuelle is a wife of twenty-seven years, mother of three, and a licensed psychotherapist specializing in dream work. Her collection of short stories Keeper of Secrets…Translations of an Incident, debuted in June 2007. Her novel, The House, is due for publication in fall 2009.
A graduate of Duke University, she received her MA in Counseling Psychology from The California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco, she has attended the Dominican Institute of Philosophy and Theology, Berkeley, California. Anjuelle received her MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College, Port Townsend, Washington. A student of Process Painting for the last decade, Anjuelle has participated in The Art of Living Black Exhibitions 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009 held at the Richmond Art Center, Richmond, California. Anjuelle hosts the weekly blog talk radio show, Book Talk, Creativity and Family Matters.
Read Anjuelle’s blog and more about her at anjuellefloyd.com.
Thank you Anjuelle for answering some questions for us! To start, please tell us about the latest project you've worked on.
I’m presently doing final edits on my novel, “The House,” due out in fall 2009. The House is about what happens when, in the middle of divorcing her husband, a woman learns that he is terminally ill.
Do you also do speaking engagements, or seminars?
Anjuelle facilitates writing groups and provides individual consultation of fiction projects. She also gives talks on The Need for Family, The Writing Process as a Path Toward Self-discovery and Healing. Anjuelle hosts the weekly blog talk radio show, Book Talk, Creativity and Family Matters.
How has your education, profession or background helped you in your writing career? Or conversely, how has you writing success helped you in your profession?
Without studying to become a psychotherapist, I doubt if I would have ever written a novel, worked to learn how to write, a large part of which was earning an M.F. A. in Creative Writing after which I sought to have my work published. Studying psychology gave me a love for the inner life of which is so important in the process and lifeblood of a writer and that of our characters. The internal lives of humans is also what I seek to bring to the surface and reveal in the crafting my stories and novels. My protagonists find healing and balance through commitments to family and marriage--wife, mother, father, husband, child--and incorporation of spiritual practice into their daily lives.
What kind of other works (books, scripts, poems etc.) have you had published?
My novel, “The Road to Ibadan” is available for purchase, and download at Smashwords.com.
Is there any aspect to your profession that gets you in touch with your readers directly?
My blog is the main way I seek to connect with readers and other writers along the journey of crafting stories. There is a section for readers and followers to leave comments and I usually respond within the same day. I love taking questions from writers and would/be writers about my work, and nature of crafting fiction. I am also a member of Goodreads.com, Shelfari.com, Facebook, Squidoo, Twitter, Friendfeed, Ping, MySpace. And I’ve been invited to do some guest blogging, which I am looking forward to. Yet I think it is in the posts to my blog that people can come to learn about me and what excites me about reading and writing.
What will your next project be?
Along with working to publicize my novel, “The House”, due out fall 2009, something I’ll e doing over the next year, I am also looking forward to begin writing the rough draft of a novel about a woman, Reyna, estranged for 12 years from her family, who upon returning home, learns that her elder sister and only sibling has just died in a car accident. That Reyna’s deceased sister had married Reyna’s former fiancé adds twist to the plot and the Reyna’s efforts to uncover why her sister died.
Who inspires you on a personal or business level?
Believe it or not, I am most inspired by a painter whose work I, an abstract painter, am not so much a fan of. The painter is Thomas Kinkade, known as the painter of light. My husband has purchased a couple of his paintings and loves Kinkade’s work. What most impresses me about Kinkade is the way he has marketed his work through to success while remaining true to his commitment to family, and personal believes. A husband and father, he demonstrated that the starving artist mentality is just that: an empty way of thinking that neither benefits the artist nor those she or he loves and who lover her or him.
Creating art is a way of life, and one that, if true success is to be achieved, requires balance, and not so much drama, as we often see depicted in movies. I love writing stories. But that experience would be nothing without my husband who is my muse and my children, who also inspire me. My dream is to reach a level of success with my writing that allows me to perform readings wherein my children, in-laws and grandchildren are a part of the audience. To do that I must maintain a rhythm that allows for balance between family and my work. Holding the beat to this rhythm is as important, if not more, than that of my writing.
What type of work is the most rewarding or satisfying for you?
Crafting fiction, specifically novels. I also love abstract painting, and playing the cello.
What can you recommend for writers who are just getting started and are trying to make a name for themselves?
Set up a website and start blogging. Get a good one. It is not expensive to do this. Start out with Wordpress and then move onto having a designer create one that incorporates Wordpress. Post at least 3 blogs per week. Write as much as you can. Read as much as you can. When in doubt, and short of time, read and then write. And for those who believe PRAY. Meditation is just as good. Eat write, pray, get your right amount of sleep as often as possible and don’t forget to exercise. I cannot emphasize the need to exercise, get the body moving. Walk, swim, ride your bike, do Pilates. Exercise, prayer, meditation. These are so important.
Writers are not the most healthy of individuals. Sitting, and typing on the computer for insufferably long periods of time harms our bodies. It also leads to writing stories that not even we are eager to read. Most artists and writers suffer from depression. Our internal pain is the source of our creativity, what draws us to the work. Just as we write, we must attend to our bodies and mind. To write, and do it well, we must take care of our bodies, mind, heart and soul. True success at writing requires that we not only craft stories that engage and entertain our readers, but leave us, as writers with a sense of purpose and meaning of which we are not ashamed. To endure and have a long and fruitful writing career, one that we truly enjoy, despite and along with the work, we cannot sacrifice more than we as human beings physically, and psychically possess. We must fill our cup to create work that ultimately heals us. And true healing means our work transforms us as much if not more than those we seek to entertain.
How did you get started as a writer?
Fifteen years into my marriage and with two children, I graduated fromschool with an MA in Psychology and started an internship seeing clients at an art school. By the end of the fall semester I knew I needed to take some time off. My relationship with the director of the counseling center was, shall I say, fraught with interesting challenges. My former astrology teacher in delivering a reading on the matter explained that in a past life I had been married to the director of the counseling center. In that past life I had left him as it seems I was doing regarding my work at the counseling center.
I dismissed the reading until when announcing that I would be leaving my work, and needed to take some time, the director displayed a quite visceral reaction of disappointment. He blatantly accused me of abandoning him and my clients, which is exactly what my astrology teacher stated I had done in the past life concerning him and our children. On sitting down to write an essay about the experience of my choosing to leave, an exercise in clearing my head, I started writing a novel, as if channeling the scene to a past life. The novel is set in 1892. I wrote for five years on that novel, what I have since that time come to recognize is a trilogy. It is yet to be published. I sometimes think that everything I am writing now is my apprenticeship in gaining the skills to craft and structure that trilogy in the fullest and brightest evolution of it rendering.
Having sought out and undergone other internships I earned my license to practice psychotherapy in 1999, the year in which I also gave birth to my 3rd and last child. After a year of painting twice weekly, I wrote a second or 4th novel during the last two week of July 2000. The novel interestingly enough had to do with 911, BEFORE it happened. After September 2001 I began consider that perhaps my writing was a gift. I attended my first writing workshop in July 2002.
In 2003 I began studying under poet, short story writer and Bay Area Writing Teacher, Clive Matson. I earned my M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Goddard College, Port Townsend, WA in July 2006. Three Muses Press published my collection of short stories, “Keeper of Secrets…Translations of an Incident” in 2007. I joined the staff of the creative writing program at Perelandra College in 2008.
Which is your favorite book/work published? Is there a favorite?
Though I’ve written over 8 novels, all unpublished I have a collection of short stories, “Keeper of Secrets…Translation of an Incident”.
What does a typical work day look like for you?
As a wife of 28 years and mother of 3, ages 21 years, 17 years and 10, my days are full. I’m blessed to have my husband who is a surgeon and loves to get up early, take my adolescent to high school everyday. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays he’s kind enough to do the same with our youngest. Our eldest who begins graduate school this year lives near the university. Yet and still we speak on a frequent, if not daily, basis.
I say all this because as a writer, my family does come first. Fortunately I can work my schedule around the demands of family. Tuesdays and Thursdays after taking our youngest to school, I return home and begin writing. This could be the rough draft of a novel, or as it has been for the last 9-12 months, that of revising and editing my novel, The House, is due for publication in fall 2009. I like to do my creative writing before checking my e-mails and attending to the business of writing which inherently means checking my various e-mail accounts and answering and replying to promotion requests of me and those I’ve made to other writers.
I host a weekly blog talk radio show, “Book Talk, Creativity and Family Matters”. And so I’m constantly asking authors to be guests on my show. Once they reply I schedule a date and then on the Monday prior to broadcast I forward a reminder. This is pretty straightforward and rather easy. I’m booked into 2010 and have had the good fortune of never having anyone cancel or not show. I also post 4 blogs each week, Monday-Thursday.
After answering any comments made to my posts I then have blogs I like to read and usually leave comments on. One of my favorite blogs that I closely follow is Plotwhisperer.com by Martha Alderson. I also follow her on Twitter. Martha is a plot guru and her daily Tweets are gems for helping both the seasoned and novice writer better comprehend the importance of plot and how to craft plot. I’m constantly Tweeting Martha’s blogs on plot along with leaving comments on her posts as well as other blogs I read. Deanna Raybourn has a wonderful blog for readers of historical and Victorian period fiction. Then I have those whom I follow on Twitter. This inevitably leads to the discovery of a new novel or collection of short stories I want to read and/ or an author interview that I view, listen to and/or read. And yes, I order from amazon.com, or the author’s website. While making my Twitter rounds and listening to interviews or discovering new blogs from links on the blogs that I regularly read, I’m going back and checking e-mails and checking to see if anyone has left a question of comment for a blog post at either Friendfeed or my website.
I like to respond to questions and comments ASAP. The process I’ve described can take as little as an hour and on a real busy day, up to 8 hours. The work of the author is no long that of simply writing our stories. For certain, we are writing, but what we write encompasses so much more than simply our stories. Writing is now how we brand and market our name and our work, and promote who we are, and what we, and our work are about. The Internet has brought the author’s office directly to our computer. Crafting this interview by answering these questions is one more example of what my day includes. The more we write, the more opportunities we are presented with which to write and present ourselves and our work(s), what we are about, to the world. 2-3pm is the when my primary job takes over. I pick up my daughters from school, bring them home, prepare dinner, assist with homework and try to be in bed by 10pm. The operative word in this last sentence is try. I also try to remain vigilant about exercise. Again, the operative word is try.
I’m fortunate in that I live in the hills of northern California that I walk during the school year. It’s easier to keep up this routine when the kids are in school. Walking is particularly helpful when I’m writing the first or rough draft of a novel. It gets me out of my head and into my body. I also like to swim. On a good night I’m lying beside my husband around 9pm and reading with my bookplate lighting the page. On a not so good one I might not crawl in until 1pm. On a really crappy one wherein I’m in the middle of editing and revising a novel I might not make it. That means when he’s on his way out taking the children to school, I’m heading for bed. I offer a word of caution. Over the years, mainly encouraged by my husband, I have learned to not create when I am tired. When writing the first or rough draft of a novel I limit myself to writing 2-4 hours daily, preferably 2 hours, or 1000-1200 words daily.
Once the story is down and I’m revising I will stay up when I’m in the zone. Yet and still I am finding that age and the wisdom of planning my writing prevents me from having to do this. Writing is like riding a bicycle. The more you do it, the better and more efficient you become at your craft. But you have to do a lot of it. I’ve done a fair amount of writing. But there are others who have and are doing so much more. And this is where writing my blog really comes in handy. Quite simply writing a blog not only helps me meet deadlines, but it also hones my skills at crafting fiction, not to mention the publicity it garners. Writing a regular blog is a necessity for the 21st century writer/author. Without it you have no way of establishing a cohesive Internet presence that forms the basis of branding you and your work. In short, your blog tells readers and other writers and persons in the publishing industry who you are. It lets them see you through the lens of your writing, aka your blog, as well as revealing why they, the reading public might, want to stop and give your work attention as opposed to the other millions of works by other writers.
I gain myriad of ideas about writing and on which to blog as I sift through e-mails, read the blogs of writers I admire, view and listen to author interviews, and respond to comments concerning blogs I’ve posted. I also gain ideas from the various books I read, both fiction and non-fiction. Along with reading novels, I am continually looking for and reading books providing ways and information, exercises and prompts geared towards assisting the writer improve her/his skill at crafting fiction. I keep a notebook wherein I jot down notes and ideas along with plans and outlines for future novels and short stories. Crafting and revising my own works of fiction, blogging, and reading on a daily basis set the parameters of what I try to accomplish each day along with being a mother and wife.
Have you ever had a mentor, or someone who sparked your passion for writing?
That would be poet and writer, Clive Matson. I studied under Clive for over 3 years. During this time I participated in 3 of his writing workshops concurrently. Two workshops were novel groups that met every other week. The third workshop was a multi-genre group that consisted of poets, short story writers, essayists, and yours truly, a novel writer. This third group convened for 3 hours each week, as did the bi-weekly novel groups.
Who is your favorite writer/author?
My current and favorite author is presently, Thrity Umrigar. Her works are truly entertaining, and thought provoking. They also teach me an inestimable amount about the craft of telling, and crafting stories.
Her recent work, “The Weight of Heaven” took my breath away. This is the third work I have read by Thrity Umrigar, the other two being, “The Space Between Us” and “If Today Be Sweet”. Besides loving “The Weight of Heaven,” I was thoroughly impressed with how Thrity took the level of revealing internal thoughts to a new level. Throughout the novel she interwove the thoughts of her protagonist with that of his wife reflecting the psychological and spiritual nature of marriage and what it means to be so indelibly bound to another.
Yet and still my favorite all-time work is “A Sin of Color” by Sunetra Gupta.
I read this work over a decade ago and it imprinted me and with an identification of why I write, to experience a vicissitude of mental states and emotions, and to try and convey this to my readers in a way that hopefully provides them with a broader view on life and shifts in consciousness and the various dimensions we all hold as humans.
Finally, a most important question: what was the last song you sang out loud when you were by yourself? :)
This is very interesting in that the song is probably one that most Americans have never heard of. It is entitled Chale Chalo and is from the movie Lagaan: Once Upon a Time In India. Though I am African American I relate very much to the themes of family and struggle as seen in the movie Lagaan. I recently sang this song, the background to a scene where native South Asians, led by actor Amir Khan worked at not only playing cricket, but also beating the British team against whom they competed. Vibrant, and with an energizing beat of Chale Chalo literally moves in time with the human heart force. It also contains a lovely interlude involving strings, most particularly the cellos. Chale Chalo, and the entire soundtrack to Lagaan, was composed by the superb A. R. Raman. I love all his works. If I were to ever make a movie of any of my stories I would seek to contract A. R. Rahman to make the soundtrack. Hands down, he’s my choice.
Thank you Anjouelle! We wish you great success with your new novel The House!
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