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We all like to get “up close and personal” with our favorite writers and authors by finding out more about them and why they do what they do. This blog is a part of a virtual blog tour that is giving us the opportunity to do just that with people we know, and introducing us to people we might want to know. I was invited to do this tour by Kath Varn, author of Ameera Unveiled, a wonderful story of a woman’s self-discovery through the world of dance.

I met Kat in 2010 at the Words and Music Conference, in New Orleans. We were aspiring authors with a story to tell. Her grace, charm, and sense of humor captivated me and I knew her book would be reflective of not only her struggles, but her strength to rise above.

 

 

  Ameera Unveiled, the first novel by author Kathleen Varn

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Kathleen Varn’s love affair with words manifested when she turned four and taught herself to read. As she grew older, books and reading were an escape from responsibility. Eventually, Kathleen dove into journaling, which helped her find solace when life threw lemons. Throughout her journey to pursue personal growth as she raised her children and juggled a career. She explored the idea of freedom through allegorical short stories. Kathleen is now very happilyameera married to her soulmate. She resides in Charleston, South Carolina, where she worked for an adoption attorney for twenty-three years. With her two children settled in adulthood, she is exploring a beautiful world, from scuba diving in Fiji or photographing in Alaska’s frozen tundra.

 

 

 

  So here are the questions I’m required to answer as part of this unique blog tour, and then I’m going to introduce you to some amazing authors I think you’ll want to read

 

a)    What am I working on?

My Life in a Tutu is currently going through the editing process at BQB Publishers, and is due to be launched in June, 2015. While we’re looking at the manuscript and deciding on the cover, I continue to write short stories for my column Haugh-About-That in our local newspaper, The Los Altos Town Crier. Since 2010, I’ve been submitting monthly articles about how I view the world around me with optimism and  spiritual awakening. These lighthearted and funny musings will be featured in 75 Beats to a Happy Heart, to be released December 2014.

I’m also working on my second book, Tipsy in a Tutu. This story picks up where my first memoir left off. My Life in a Tutu chronicles my evolution from childhood to becoming a woman. Often feeling lost and scared as insecurity scratched the blackboard of my heart, I found myself thinking of how I lived my life in terms of wearing  costumes just to make it to the end of the day. There was the good girl who felt she needed to please in order to be loved; the mime who never spoke up for herself; Cinderella looking for her true love, sadly to find her Prince Charming was only a shadow of the man she needed him to be.

Tipsy in a Tutu tells my quest of searching for a new love, a real love, after surviving a bitter divorce in a married community, and how to find a single life when all around you is attached. Fifty-years-old, and after being with one man for twenty-seven years, brought challenges of trust, dating again (and all that goes with it), plus, where does one even go to find the perfect mate? Eleven years of after dating sites, bars, and single events, I realized the love I was looking for I already had  in the shape of a very old man – my father. It wasn’t a sexual connection I sought, but one that fed my soul through unconditional love and support.

As this book ends, another will begin, The Promise I Kept. When my mother passed away it became my responsibility to care for my father in his advanced years; the last two he lived with me until he passed at ninety-seven. My dad was going blind, hard of hearing, with a broken body from a devastating stroke thirty years earlier that left him completely dependent on his only daughter for all his physical and emotional needs. As a young mother in my thirties, I promised him I’d never put him in a nursing home. It was time I live up to that promise, despite all the challenges that came with the vow.

b)    How does my story differ from others of its genre?

I think the one thing that separates any work within any given genre is the voice from which the story is being told. My stories are no different than anyone else’s in the struggles for self-empowerment and discovery. The one thing we all share is the quest to be loved, and to ultimately realize our full potential while living the human experience. Perhaps what makes mine stand apart is that stories are just that – mine; along with hanging true to my father’s gift of looking at life through optimistic eyes, no matter how difficult the challenge.

When I write, I come from a place of spiritual awareness. I allow the universe to be my guide as I challenge my ego to sit on a shelf, at least for the time being. This has allowed me to be brutally open and honest, and to find the underlying humor in any given moment.

 c)     Why do I write what I do?

Plain and simple, I write for me because I love it. I’ve been journaling since I was ten, but never allowed anyone to read my thoughts for fear of ridicule. Low self-esteem was my nemesis, so I kept my feelings, emotions, and dreams to myself.

When my mother was alive, I saw her as the most magnificent creature God ever created, and in comparison, I a flawed reject. With a Barbie doll figure and flaming auburn hair, she handled life with not only grace but sheer strength, especially after her body abandoned her, leaving her in debilitating pain and crippled. Then I found her diaries after she passed and discovered we shared the same fragile emotions. How I wish I understood her more when she was alive. Then, perhaps I wouldn’t have been so hard on myself.

While my four children and I talk constantly about who there mother is, it’s those inner most sensitive issues that are often better left in the written form to be digested and absorbed in the quiet by one’s self. I write my words for them too, and for my future grandchildren. The greatest legacy anyone can pass on are their thoughts in written form because it leaves a story, a connection, a way of life that once was.

d)    How does my writing process work?

Because I have a “day job” (realtor in the San Francisco Bay Area), I try to carve out time between clients. Consequently, there’s no rhyme or reason to how I get the work done. But the one thing I’m dedicated to is finding at least three hours a day to devote to my passion (even if it means I sleep with my computer).

My thoughts come through meditation, prayer, connecting with nature, and ongoing reflection on the world around me, and how I fit in it. There are hours spent on research, reading other author’s work, and creating a framework before I can actually sit down and let the words flow.

 

 Here are two other authors I like to introduce. Just as with Kat’s work, they are both worth taking the time to read.

Millie West’s powerful voice is conveyed through her southern fiction.

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I met Millie at the Pubsmart Writing Conference this past spring in Charleston, South Carolina. I was immediately impressed with her gentle and kind southern girl charm.

A graduate of the University of South Carolina, Millie West has a background in aviation, as well as in real estate, and has owned and been the broker of her own company. A licensed pilot, Millie was one of the first pilots hired by United Parcel Service when they started their flight crew department.

An artist in her own right and a collector of regional art—especially from Charleston—Millie is a supporter of charitable organizations, higher education, and the preservation of South Carolina’s historical treasures. A South Carolina history buff, Millie has spent countless hours exploring the rich historical vestiges of her home state. She has viewed many treasures of the past by taking less-traveled paths into the countryside that was inhabited by Native Americans hundreds of years ago.

Her love of the fascinating, complex, and compelling history of the South is expressed in her writing. Millie resides with her family near Columbia, South Carolina, and is an active participant in her local writer’s group,the Chapin Chapter of the South Carolina Writers Workshop.the cast net

 

Deb Mangolt has a fabulous sense of humor and fun ideas for girlfriends when bonding together for a good time.

debI also was introduced to Deb at the Pubsmart Writing Conference this past spring. She is a delightful and witty woman. She co-authored a girlfriend oriented platform book called Drink Wine and Giggle.

As an Event Planner and Certified Professional Coach, Deb brings her positive attitude and bubbly personality to turn family reunions, corporate team-building events and women’s retreats into memorable and intoxicating experiences that demonstrate the power of true compassion.

Deb’s former career in corporate finance has taken her across North America from Ohio to Tennessee to Toronto and finally to Charleston, South Carolina where she resides with her husband. A devoted hospice volunteer, member of the Charleston Center for Women, and an avid golfer and runner, Deb completed the Kiawah Island Marathon in less than five hours.dwg