Writers Share – Juliet Batten

Juliet Batten Beach shot IMG_5641 Cropped.Smaller.2 copy

I am very pleased to welcome Juliet Batten to Writers Share

1.      How did you start writing, is it something that you’ve always done?

I loved writing as a child, and wrote poetry as a young adult. Then I became an exhibiting artist for two decades. In my forties I went back to writing and published my first book.

2.      What is your book called?

‘Spirited Ageing: cultivating the art of renewal.’ Dr. Stephanie Dowrick has endorsed it, saying: ‘What a hopeful and inspiring book. It offers practical guidance for an increasingly rich and satisfying life as we age. Juliet is wise about what matters most.’’

Juliet Batton - spirited aging full size copy3.      What is your book about and who is it aimed at?

It’s a spiritual perspective on ageing, one that shows people how to connect with their passion, creativity and spirituality in order to meet the challenges of growing old. It’s aimed at anyone over fifty who wants to start preparing for a satisfying old age, and especially for people in their sixties to nineties. A ninety-two year old woman has just read it from cover to cover and said she was ‘tickled pink’ by what she learned from it.

4.      What made you decide to write this book?

As I moved into my late sixties, I realised there were very few books that actually teach us how to deal with the ageing process. There are plenty that focus on the body, usually with the intention to make us feel younger, but so little that shows us how to move through the challenges on a spiritual level. So I decided to write the book I needed for myself.

5.      What is your favourite genre?

I enjoy novels, poetry, self-help books and spiritual writings.

6.      Who published your book and where can we get hold of it?

It’s been published by Ishtar Books, and can be ordered through my website: www.julietbatten.co.nz  or through Amazon.

7.      What is your creative process like? How do you motivate yourself?

Mornings are my best time for writing. I’m motivated by inspiration and service. My daily meditation practice inspires me and gives me the fuel and the guidance for my work.

8.      What type of reading inspires you?

I am inspired by the writings of spiritual teachers: Thich Nhat Hahn, Ram Dass, Eckhart Tolle, Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, Jon Kabat-Zinn, the Tao Te Ching.

9.      What do you think are the basic ingredients of a story?

My book includes many stories from contributors who responded to my questions about various aspects of ageing. Authenticity is what comes through their stories. They illustrate how people grapple with challenges in their lives and draw on their own strengths and wisdom in order to find a way through.

10.  What writers do you admire?

I admire pioneers, who push the frontiers for all of us: Barbara Marx Hubbard (a true spirited elder), Joanna Macy (another one), Andrew Harvey, and poets such as W.B. Yeats, Gerard Manly Hopkins, Hafiz, Rumi, and Mary Oliver.

11.  How do you come up for your ideas for a book?

I’ve written eight books now, and in each case, it feels as if the themes chose me. Ideas are abundant, but with certain ideas I feel I’m being called into service, and these are the ones that lead to a book being written.

12.  Are you good at telling stories orally?

I love oral story telling, and often tell stories to groups or when teaching workshops. I have a tradition with my family, of gathering together with another family at winter solstice and telling stories around the fire.

13.  Do you think you have found “your voice” as a writer. Are there other genres you would like to try?

Yes, I feel I found my voice back in 2000 when I published ‘Growing into Wisdom: change and transformation at midlife.’ It was in that book that I discovered the ‘three layers’ approach: 1) telling my own story, 2) telling the stories of others, and 3) including information based on scholarship and research. Now I have a strong urge to go back to an earlier love: writing poetry.

14.  What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding your writing schedules?

I keep the mornings for creative work, two to three days a week. Sometimes I take time out at my ‘bach’ (beach cottage) and write freely through the weekends.

15.  What do you surround yourself with in your work area in order to help you concentrate?

 I have an altar close by, with images of my spiritual teachers and symbols that inspire the current work. I always invoke grace before beginning to write.

16.  What is your process? Do you write on a computer or long hand?

I write long hand when there is something I need to draw out of the depths, or when I’m writing something personal or want to evoke something very vividly. I also write directly on to the computer.

17.  What has been your experience with publishers?

I was fortunate to find a wonderful publisher called Tandem Press for my first book. I published three books with Tandem, and they had accepted a fourth just before selling out to Random House. Random published this and one other book, and were also good to work with. Then publishing changed dramatically, and like many writers I could no longer get published. At this point I self published, and was lucky to have success with this because I was already an established writer.

18.  What are you working on now?

I’m taking a good rest, and making sure that Spirited Ageing reaches everyone who needs it.

19.  What do you recommend for new writers who would love to get started but don’t have the confidence?

Join a writing group where you can be with people you trust to give fair feedback. Do a writing course; they often provide a lot of practical support.

Before I go…..Writing is a great joy. Many of my earlier books were based in New Zealand, but Spirited Ageing will reach people all over the world because the theme is universal. It’s great to have this forum to speak about the book overseas. Thank you Amanda, for your inspiring blog about caring for your mother with Alzheimer’s, and giving me permission to quote from it in Spirited Ageing.

I would like to thank Juliet for sharing and wish her every success!  Please take a look at the links below to find out more about Juliet and to purchase a copy of the book!

1. Website: click on the ‘Books’ page to buy books.  The book costs $37 NZD, and the shopping cart will convert into your local currency.
2. Blog:

 

 

Writers Share – Juliet Batten

Juliet Batten Beach shot IMG_5641 Cropped.Smaller.2 copyI am very excited to welcome Juliet Batten as my guest on Monday 22nd July 2013.  In the interview she talks about her book Spirited Ageing – Cultivating the Art of Renewal and she shares her approach to writing, her inspiration and what keeps her motivated.  Be sure to check back!

Juliet Batton - spirited aging full size copy

Writers Share – Mindy Hardwick

I am pleased to have writer Mindy Hardwick as my guest.  She was very generous to share her approach to writing and some tips for those of you who would like to start on your own journey.
1.         How did you start writing, is it something that you’ve always done?

 I’ve always made up stories. As a child, I loved to play with the Fisher Price Little People and create elaborate stories about them. When I began to read, I fell in love with books. You could always find me buried under the covers with a flashlight, devouring my latest book. Eventually, I put my two loves together—storytelling and reading—and realized that I could write stories.

2.         What is your book called?

 Stained Glass Summer

 3.         What is your book about and who is it aimed at?

Stained Glass Summer is the story of artistic mentorship. Twelve-year-old Jasmine adores her photographer Father and wants to be an artist just like him. But when Dad abandons the family, Jasmine is sent to spend the summer with her Uncle on a Pacific Northwest Island. Soon, Jasmine is learning stained glass from island glass artist, Opal, and thinking she might just be developing a crush on Island boy, Cole. But, it’s not until Jasmine finds herself mentoring another young artist that she can truly let go of her Father and call herself an artist by her own terms. I wrote the stories for ages 10-14, but it has been warmly received by adults too. There is a free-study/ discussion guide on my website here: http://www.mindyhardwick.com/books/stained-glass-summer/

Also, on the Facebook page, you can view teens participating in a glass art workshop:

www.facebook.com/stainedglasssummer

4.         What made you decide to write this book?

An artist friend gave me two pieces of broken glass which she found in an art supply dumpster. Immediately, a story formed about glass art and a teen girl.

5.         Who published your book and where can we get hold of it?

My book is published with Musa Publishing. It is an e-book and available in all forms. You can get the book here:

Musa Publishing,
Amazon,
Barnes and Noble,
Itunes.

6.         What is your favourite genre?

 I read everything from teen books to adult literary to memoir to non-fiction, so I’m not sure I have a favourite genre. I just like to learn something new, whether that comes from a good story or a non-fiction book about a specific subject.

7.         What is your creative process like? How do you motivate yourself? 

I work on writing every day. There are a lot of pieces that go along with writing a story. When I begin a new story, I like to do a lot of writing about my character, setting, and brainstorm plot ideas. It helps me to immerse myself in my story world before I write a word on the actual story. I usually do a lot of this work on yellow tablets or journals.  Then, when I have immersed myself in the world, I sit down to draft the story. I write the first draft fast. This helps override the voice that is afraid of the blank page! Then, I let the story sit for awhile. Sometimes that is a couple months. I work on a lot of different projects at one time, so they are always in different stages of the process. After the story sits, I go back and begin working on shaping the story. Then, it’s a matter of a lot of revision and sending the story out to critique partners before I even begin to think about submitting.

8.         What type of reading inspires you?

A well-written and well-crafted story with an ending that leaves me thinking about the story for days.

9.         What do you think are the basic ingredients of a story?

Strong character. I believe that plot comes from character, so crafting a strong character is key. And, this applies to all of the secondary characters too. One of the comments I’m getting about Stained Glass Summer is everyone loves one of my minor characters, five-year-old Sammy. I believe this is because I spent a lot of time working on her character and making her a “real person.”

10.      What writers do you admire? 

Cynthia Voigt has always been my favourite young adult writer. And I love Jennifer Donnelly who writes historical fiction for both adult and young adults. Both have well-developed characters and strong settings in their stories.

11.      How do you come up with your ideas for a book

I find a lot of my ideas from the teens I work with at the juvenile detention poetry workshop. You can read some of their poems here: www.denneypoetry.com

12.      Are you good at telling stories orally? 

That’s a good question—and one you’d probably have to ask my friends and family. I would say not necessarily. I can be quiet and shy. I don’t like the attention to be on me, so I’m not usually the person at the gathering who is telling the biggest stories

13.      Do you think you have found “your voice” as a writer, are there other genres you would like to try?

I’d love to explore a little more of romance writing. I have a short story, “Love’s Storm” that is published with Books To Go Now, and I really enjoyed writing it. You can buy that story here: http://www.amazon.com/Loves-Storm-ebook/dp/B007EG94PA

14.      What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding your writing schedules? 

I keep a working schedule for six-days of the week. I usually spend the morning answering e-mails, blogging, and working on workshops. I teach six distance learning classes to educators, and at times, that can be pretty busy. I also present workshops to schools and libraries, and there are certain times of the year that those are busy too.  I take about an hour to eat lunch, work out, and go run errands. Then, in the afternoon, I try to spend writing. Sometimes those morning things spill over to the afternoon, and I start to get grinchy!

15.      What do you surround yourself with in your work area in order to help your concentrate? 

I actually move around in my work area. I do the “business” of writing at my desk, but when it’s time to write, I take my laptop and sit on my couch or at my dining room table. I have a great view of Lake Stevens and the Cascade Mountains, and it’s great inspiration!

16.      What is your process? Do you write on a computer or long hand? 

I do the pre-writing story work (creating character, setting, and brainstorming plot) by hand on yellow tablets. I draft and edit on the computer.

17.      What has been your experience with publishers?

 Great! I’m published with two e-publishers—Musa and MuseItUp. Both publishers are great with supporting their authors. At Musa, we’ve all been reading and discussing a book, The Art of Writing by James Scott Bell. The authors at both publishers are very supportive and I feel like a part of a community at both publishing houses.

18.      What do you think of self-publishing?

 I don’t think there is one way to publish a book. I haven’t self-published, but my experience with publishing everything from articles to short stories to books is that there are many different avenues for a story to find its audience.

19.      What are you working on now? 

I released my second book, Weaving Magic, which is a young adult romance on April 27, 2012. Readers can find out more on my website book page here: http://www.mindyhardwick.com/books/weaving-magic/

20.      What do you recommend for new writers who would love to get started but don’t have the confidence? 

Keep a journal. Journals are very non-threating ways to write about character and plot ideas. I like to use a small, spiral bound journal, but you can play with different sizes. Once your ideas start to take over a journal, then branch out to a large size journal or piece of paper. I always advise to be discriminating in who you share your work. Not everyone is supportive, and a wrong look or discouraging word can send a new writer (or an experienced writer) running for the door.

Mindy will be giving away a copy of her book Stained Glass Summer.  For a chance to enter, leave a comment here and go to Mindy’s wordpress blog and leave a comment there as well – let her know where you saw the interview.  For additional chances follow Mindy on Twitter and leave a message.  The competition runs until 30th June 2012 and Mindy will let the lucky winner have a copy.

I would like to thank Mindy for sharing and wish her every success!

Mindy Hardwick is a published children’s writer whose books include: Stained Glass Summer and Weaving Magic. Mindy facilitates a poetry workshop with teens at Denney Youth Juvenile Justice Center and is the editor of their blog at: http://www.denneypoetry.com

Mindy is included on the Washington State Arts Commission Teaching Artist Roster. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults and is a member of Seattle SCBWI.  When Mindy is not writing, she enjoys art journaling, vising the Oregon coast, and spending time training her dog to be a therapy dog.

Links:

Website: www.mindyhardwick.com

Blog: www.mindyhardwick.wordpress.com

Facebook Book Page: www.facebook.com/stainedglasssummer

Twitter: @mindyhardwick

Writers Share – Mindy Hardwick

I am very excited to welcome Mindy Hardwick as my guest on Monday 4th June.  In the interview she talks about her book Stained Glass Summer and she shares her approach to writing, her inspiration and what keeps her motivated.  Be sure to check back!

Mindy Hardwick is a published children’s writer whose books include: Stained Glass Summer and Weaving Magic. Mindy facilitates a poetry workshop with teens at Denney Youth Juvenile Justice Center and is the editor of their blog at: http://www.denneypoetry.com

Check out her Links:

Website: www.mindyhardwick.com

Blog: www.mindyhardwick.wordpress.com

Facebook Book Page: www.facebook.com/stainedglasssummer

Twitter: @mindyhardwick