Archive for March, 2014

Interview: Maisha I, Author of ‘Journey to I’

It is always a pleasure meeting local authors.  Last month I had an opportunity to  meet Maisha I.  I read her newly published book Journey to I, and decided to interview her.  Her book chronicles what happens when a child is set in his or her ways.  Being too obstinate is never a good thing.

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You were raped at thirteen, have you forgiven the boy that raped you?

It has been a real roller coaster ride of a journey, because I truly was not able to put into context what he had done to me was a rape until I was in my 40s. I had re-framed the incident as to something that was my fault; there was something that I had done, a non-verbal message I had given to him, that provoked his actions. I had somehow brought this on myself as girl/woman and he as a boy/man wasn’t responsible for his inability to control his animal nature. I had to go through a lot of processing and forgiveness for myself, I can now say I have forgiven the boy and have moved on.

Your relationship with your Mom was not the best — have you been able to restore your relationship with her? What are her thoughts about you publishing your tell-all memoir on how badly she treated you as a child?

I discovered so much more about Mom as I wrote my book Journey to I. She actually read through many of the chapters and helped me with some of the early editing. Much of her story that I had no clue about begin to take shape in the book as she helped me filled in some of the blanks. All of a sudden, I began to see her as a woman who had also endured many traumas and she was getting through life the best way she knew how.

Mom had a difficult time when the book was first published and realized that some people may see her in an unforgiving light; however, she always encouraged me to write my book because it was my story, my interpretation of the events as seen through child eyes.

Recently she shared with me. “Maisha, I knew that you were going to have some hard knocks in life; I thought you might get pregnant, maybe have to drop out of school. I thought you would go through something traumatic that would make you come running back to me so that I could protect you. I could never imagine that you were going through what you went through and keep going back out there for more.”

My Mom lives with me now, and I am excited about traveling on the road of healing our mother/daughter relationship that we have embarked on. I can only hope that we can be an example that it is never too late to let the healing begin.

You were a strong-willed child, and your Mom did not know how to handle you. Do you think your life would have been different if your Mom had given you the attention you craved?

 For sure I was an exceptionally strong-willed child; I would not have wished the raising of me on anyone. Mom is a very gentle spirit, and I came out of her womb with a spear in my hand, daring anyone to tell me “No”. You know, this is a difficult question, because I really like myself now; I like to think that I am in the place that I am now because of how I was raised. Maybe if she had given me more attention, I would have felt smothered and had nothing to live for, this way I was always pulling, striving, clinging to the pieces I could get from her. It gave my life purpose.

Do you believe in destiny?  

 I believe that each of us came to the planet earth at this time for a specific reason and no one else can tell us what that is; only each one of us knows our own specific mission for being here. I believe that there are ways in discovering/remembering your mission: ie, speaking with your higher self, guidance through spiritual practices. I believe that there are many wonderful ways placed on this great big planet and in the universe to help us glean our own individual paths. I believe that the destination is already predetermined and we will all eventually get there (or we’ve actually never left). We only get to decide the road we want to travel to the destination.

You spoke about getting involved with Wicca, and having out of body experiences while in prison, do you still practice these rituals today?

 I have practiced many things, I am clear that that I came here to play and experience as much as I can in the realm of co-creating. Out-of-Body experiences are common events that happen to most of us as we sleep; many times we leave our bodies and experience things from a different perspective than our everyday 3rd dimensional can grant us. I am always open for seeing a bigger picture and will not allow anyone to tell me that their interpretation of experiencing life on this planet is any more valid than my own. I love learning and experiencing new things, tasting new foods, participating in various cultural practices. Seeing how for all of our differences, we’re all the same.

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What do you hope your readers will learn from reading your book? 

Mess happens. Sometimes we can find ourselves in the biggest mess that we or anyone around us could have thought of. Sometimes it’s way bigger that anyone could have thought of. No one around me saw that I would one day be facing the Death Penalty.6 years in prison for murder. Serving time for armed robbery. And have cancer. My life was a huge mess, and I had to face that I co-created that. I made that mess, no one else. I had done all of that to myself. When I realized and faced that I had totally co-created my worst life, the worst experiences, my worst self. I was able then to begin replacing the worst with my best. I realized I was sitting at a smorgasbord of experiences, and I was choosing the foul and rotten when fabulous and yummy chocolate cake was on the menu.

You were born in Alaska, and lived in Japan. What led you to relocate to Colorado?

That’s a long story in itself and will be part of my next book entitled Giving Birth to the Goddess of Love: a mother/daughter…daughter/mother saga in which I talk more about me and my mother’s relationship and I bring in my own experiences with raising my own daughter.

In short I ended up in Colorado after I had lived in Trinidad and Tobago WI for about 6 months. I just couldn’t go back to the extreme cold after that.

What advice can you give to teens to help them avoid the many mistakes you made, that ended with you serving six years in prison?

Take responsibility for who you are right now, the person you are being. Circumstances may seem out of your control, but you mind is your own, how you choose to deal with it is up to you. Your thoughts create what is around you. You have much more power than you can ever know. Listen to that part of you that guides you to your greatest joy, no matter what anyone else tells you. Only you know your true mission for coming to this planet at this time. You are the one you have been waiting for.

Can you talk about the woman who you thought was your friend and betrayed you, by reporting you to the police?

 Aww…Kim. I was very hurt by her deceitfulness initially. It didn’t take me long to realize that she had done for me what I could not do. Remember I always try to see how I have co-created the circumstances in my life. I was the one that told Kim, there were a number of people in my life that I could have told and perhaps it would still be a secret today. I chose Kim because on some level, I knew what she would do. On some level I knew what needed to be done. I only wish her a good life and health.

Tell the reader about your former partner Tony who committed the murder, is he still serving a life sentence?

 Tony is still in prison; he did escape once about 18 years ago and was caught after 3 months. Tony is still professing his innocence to this day and after all these years he probably believes his lie. I actually saw him about eight years ago, Please, don’t ask how and why just know that occasionally I still make stupid decisions and choices. I’m really done now. That encounter will be in a future writing.

Now that you have been released from prison, how are you different from the former defiant teen person you wrote about in your memoir?

Ohh… that defiant teen Deidra Gaddy is always with me. I love to say my job is to bust it up, change the conversation, shift the paradigm and give a different perspective. To see possibilities where others may see none. One of my favorite quotes is  “Let no theory contradict your own experiences”—Seth

I would not be who I am without having gone through the experiences I have had. I would not be able to be the voice for magnificently defiant teens like myself. I understand them, I am them. I hope that I can help them realize their voice and focus it in the way of powerfully creating what they want instead of using their voice to cause havoc in their lives and the lives of others. I am still very much a member of the defiant tribe, I’ve just learned to sprinkle it with a little bit of wisdom and grace.

Thanks Maisha I for doing this interview.  I hope you will continue to excel in every endeavor.  I am wishing that when troubled teens read your book, they too, will climb their way back to being  productive citizens.

 My Thoughts on the Book:

I thought the book is well written.  I give it a rating of five out of five stars. This is a book that a parent can read together with a teen that is defiant and who is determined to go down the wrong road.  It can teach what happens when one do not follow certain boundaries.  Troubled teens can learn the lesson of why they should be very careful who they associate with or befriend.

Even in the most dire situations, the book chronicles that one should never give up, and that with a willing spirit one can  find ways to overcome obstacles.  This is the number one reason why I think this book should be read in all detention centers for troubled teens.

I do not hold any judgement against the author for her out of body experiences or getting involved with Wicca, but being a christian  I was a bit shocked when I read about these things. This is the part of the book I liked the least.

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Interview with Susan B. James: Author of ‘Time and Forever’

I understand you are an actress, can you tell us about your acting career?

I fell in love with acting at age eleven. I did my first Equity apprenticeship at fifteen. I majored in theater at the University of Georgia and got a scholarship to teach acting and take a Master’s degree at the University of Hawaii. I didn’t plan on that much higher education, but I’d always wanted to go to Hawaii, so how could I say no?

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After that I went to London and then New York to search for acting jobs. I got to do the First National Tour of You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown. I did a lot of rep theater. I met my husband to be, Barry Corbin, at a rep theater in Mobile Alabama in 1970.My crowning theater moment was being in the cast of the musical The Robber Bridegroom on Broadway.

We moved to Los Angeles in 1977 to pursue film and TV acting. When our first son was born, Barry got a major role in Urban Cowboy. After that, his career never stopped. Our second son, Chris, was born on the second day of the War Games shoot.

I gave up theater until the boys were in their teens. (Made a few TV and film appearances including M*A*S*H.) I thought it was more important to raise my sons. Acting could wait. I did pay both my children to write. My older son Jim, who is one of the funniest people I know, is a wonderful writer. I wish he’d take it up as a profession.

How did you make the transition from actress to writer?

I’ve never given up acting. My first TV series was at age sixty six, Warren the Ape on MTV. It didn’t last past the first season, but it was such a thrill to do it. I also guested on some series includingHannah Montana.

Right now I am studying long form musical improvisation. My son Chris wants us to be a musical Improv team and perform at the Del Close Marathon in New York. Chris says in ten years we’ll be good. I like his long range planning. I have an agent and a manager and audition for TV and film and voice over work whenever an audition comes along.

Did you always want to be a writer?

No. I always wrote as a child, but I gave it up as a teenager. I didn’t come back to it until 1992 when my son Chris and I wrote Jamie’s Dream together. However since the age of eight, I’ve always been a bookaholic. I adore reading.

Tell us about your recent release. What was your inspiration for it?

Time and Forever was published by Soul Mate Publishing on January 29, 2014.

Time and Forever2 fiona web largeWhat would you give for a chance at true love? For a chance to go back and find it? Two women in their sixties travel back to 1969. It was supposed to be a Virtual Reality adventure. But something happened.

My inspiration for it? Well . . . My first post on the Pen and Ink Blog was about the joys of NaNoWriMo. To write the post, I signed up for NaNoWriMo without any intention of participating. On November 3, 2009, my Jewish/Catholic guilt genes surged to the forefront of my brain and forced me to sit down at the computer and begin typing. I had not a single idea in my head. In one month I had a book called sSecond Chances. The premise was two women in their sixties time traveling back to 1969. Where did it come from? I’m not sure. I kept telling myself. “It’s your world. Write the story you want to read” and it made me very happy.

Some writers go on long walks; others keep a journal, write at a café, or listen to music. What do you do for inspiration and unleashing your creativity?

Walk. I tend to dream things up when I walk. I solve a lot of problems that way. I try to walk daily.

Some books require a lot of research. How long did it take you to do the research for Time and Forever?

I have no idea. Countless hours. I would always stop writing to Google things in 1969 London and Los Angeles. Anything from fashion to the make and model of TVs available in those days. I have huge files of things I Googled.

I also spent time in second hand shops acquiring magazines from the period. I made a few visits to the library reading newspapers on Microfiche.

The hardest thing was the price of tickets to Disneyland in 1969. I know I went that summer, but I couldn’t remember the price of the tickets. I did online research and then called Disneyland and spoke to the curator and he couldn’t tell me for sure.

I really enjoyed reading Time and Forever, I would love to see a sequel. Is there a possibility you will write one?

I’m willing, but not sure how to do it. I’ve got a rough draft of Kate’s Hero. In it the protagonist is Sherry’s son Michael. So Sherry and Jeremy and Lorena and Dave appear in one chapter.

Where is your book available?

Time and Forever is currently available as an eBook on Amazon. You can preview the first four chapters on Amazon so you can decide if it’s the kind of book you’d like to read.

It will be available as an Audible book in late summer. I’m not sure when Soul Mate will put out the print copy. It may depend on how many eBook copies I sell.

Thank you, Susan, for allowing me to interview you.  I gave your book a five out of five stars. Below are my thoughts on your wonderful book:

Susan B. James’ book, Time and Forever made me a believer in the popular adage, that true love can stand the test of time.

The story is magical and it chronicles the lives of two best friends who time traveled to 1969. One friend gets a second chance to re-connect with a love she never pursued. The second is awarded with an opportunity to change the future.

The two love stories whisked me back to when I first met and fell in love with my husband. As we get older and busy raising a family we tend to forget about that special time in our lives.

The story reminds me that it is never too late for second chances.  Sometimes life throws us a few curve balls, but it is always better to have hope and to keep a positive attitude.

I recommend this book to all who are looking for a fascinating trip through time to find true love.