I’m so excited to welcome my friend J. Q. Rose to my blog today. We’ve been friends for gosh, maybe seven years. We met through our first publisher Muse It Up Publishing. While we and a few other friends have gone other directions, we’ve maintained a strong relationship and support each other’s efforts.
Janet (JQ) has a new endeavor. She’s written a memoir, and you’re really going to enjoy learning about and from her experience. Congratulations, Janet, on your newest release. Let’s get started. I am frankly using some questions that our friend Helena Fairfax asked you when your mystery/sweet romance, Coda to Murder (also a good read) released quite a number of years ago. And of course, I’ve added some of my own. Here we go.
It’s fun looking back at Helena’s questions. Thanks so much for hosting me today, Marsha. I’m looking forward to meeting your readers and introducing them to my feel-good story filled with hope for the future. I will be giving away a PDF copy of Arranging a Dream: A Memoir to a lucky commenter. The deadline to enter is January 19. Any comments made after that won’t be eligible.
I know you do the snowbird thing. Why do you do this? Isn’t it kind of hard to pack up and go back and forth? How does your family feel about this?I’m a snowbird so I live in Michigan in the spring, summer, and fall then move to Florida for the sunshine. It’s kind of like going away to summer camp in the winter because we play with friends and have no responsibility. We have done this for so many years, the family wouldn’t know what to do with us if we stayed in Michigan in the winter!
Where is your favorite place in the world?My favorite place in the world, magnificent Mackinac Island (pronounced Mack-INAW), is not that far from my Michigan home. Located in the waters of Lake Huron, the only way visitors can reach the island during the summer is via ferry service. No motor-driven vehicles are allowed on the island, so it really is like stepping back into the Victorian era. Christopher Reeves in the romantic movie, Somewhere in Time, travels back to this era. The movie was filmed on location in the Grand Hotel, a majestic, world-renowned hotel and the centerpiece of the island. http://www.mackinacisland.org/lodging/
The downtown area mostly consists of ice cream shops, t-shirt outlets, and famous fudge shops. During the summer season, the quaint town is teeming with tourists. We love to grab a bike to get away from the congestion and take our time riding the road that hugs the coast. We stop to breathe in the fresh air and to appreciate the marriage of sky and water. It’s so much fun to explore the rocks along the small beaches. It is truly a place to escape from reality.
The lilac festival this year begins June 7, but you may want to take your heavy winter coat that time of year so you can enjoy the visit and drink in the perfume of the lovely lilac bushes spotted throughout the island.
I’ve wanted to go there since seeing the movie, Janet. It’s definitely on our bucket list of places to go. Thanks for the link – I’ll check it out.
What’s your happiest memory? If I were to say happiest career memory, I would say the open house for our new floral shop, garden center, and greenhouses. Personal memory? Seeing my two young daughters race into the arms of my mother and her hugging them tightly as they giggled together.
That’s sweet. Did that happiest work memory lead you to write your memoir?That open house occurred ten years after we purchased the shop. So, while it was my happiest career memory, it was not in my sight in 1976 when we became entrepreneurs in the floral business. I wanted the book to focus on our life-changing decision to pursue our dream, to be business owners. I hope our story inspires others to pursue their dreams.
What did your family think when you told them you were doing this? They were supportive of our dream, but not so happy when we had to move seven hours away from them.
Here’s a short excerpt from the book about telling Ted’s friend, Merlin, about our move.
We made the trip to our hometowns in Illinois shortly after we returned from Michigan. We were bursting to share the news and face the questions, the disbelief, as well as to share the excitement with our family and friends.
Ted’s trusted friend, Merlin, who was a mentor to him, was aghast when he heard the greenhouses were in Michigan.
Merlin with his short-cropped white hair and penetrating blue eyes stood solid in his living room, hands-on-hips, and stared directly into Ted’s eyes. “Why did you decide to move, of all places, to Michigan? Do you realize how little sunlight there is in Michigan?” He shook his head. “You need a lot of light and warmth to grow plants in a greenhouse.”
To tell the truth, I hadn’t considered the sunlight and the long, dark winter days in Michigan. This didn’t help me come to terms with moving to the far north and living in the cold, bleak state.
What were some of the challenges writing your memoir that might be different from writing one of your novels? When writing a mystery, the main character is not me! In fiction, I can make up all kinds of things about the protagonist. But in a memoir, I must tell the truth and be accurate with information. However, memories are shadows of the past. I could never repeat a conversation word for word after 40 years. So, I had to try and express it using the tone and emotions that I remembered at the time. In a novel, I learn a lot about the character and have to come up with the motivation behind her actions and emotions. In the memoir, I was on a journey to discover more about myself by re-visiting the scenes in my life through the lens of time. One sees and understands more about why things happen through this perspective. I came to a realization after writing the book that surprised me. No, I won’t say what it was. That would be a spoiler!!
Tell us about your work encouraging others to write their life stories. Many years ago, I was in a writers’ group. A member, Mary, brought her great, great grandfather’s journal from the 1850s. She read several pages from it. He described his ordinary life as a minister in London, England. Fascinating. So many interesting tidbits on the pages. He wrote about gazing at books displayed in the shop window and wishing he could afford to buy one. At that time, only rich people could afford to buy a book. I was captivated by his story and realized how important it is to record our lives for future generations. Our stories of overcoming obstacles, surviving through tough times and celebrating our joys serve as guides to the readers who face the same problems. The stories offer hope to the reader affirming they can survive the uncertainty and move on to enjoy a satisfying life. This was a light bulb moment for me, so I decided to write my story and encourage others to leave their legacies for future generations. I have presented workshops on life storytelling, created Your Words, Your Life Story: A Journal for Sharing Memories based on the lessons I present in the workshops and established a FB group, Telling Your Life Story and Memoirs Circle, to offer hands-on assistance and writing prompts to participants. I call myself a “life storytelling evangelist.”
Janet, thanks so much for visiting today and telling us all about your wonderful new endeavor. Friends, I have read this memoir, Arranging a Dream, and I’m telling you it will capture your attention, and you will be hard-pressed to put it down. I admire Janet not only for writing the memoir but more for being gutsy enough to live this experience.
Thank you for your kind words, Marsha. I’m not sure if we were gutsy to completely pull up our roots and move to a town of strangers. Maybe it was because we were young and when you are young, you think you can do anything!
Don’t forget, one lucky commenter will win a PDF copy of Arranging a Dream: A Memoir. 😊 So, if you have any questions for us or any comments, please just drop in and comment. You could be the winner!
Have you read memoirs before? Have you ever thought about writing one? Love to hear from you. 😊 Marsha