Last week, my friend Karen McCann tagged me to participate in the Next Big Thing
online event. Of course, I am always up for some online fun. The Next Big Thing
is a way for authors and bloggers to share the news about their most exciting upcoming projects. Karen is the author of Dancing in the Fountain
, a charming and inspiring book about her decision to move from Cleveland, Ohio to Seville, Spain. She also writes a great blog called Enjoy Living Abroad
that is chock full of information about the nuts and bolts of living the expat life. She has a warm and honest approach, like an old friend letting you in on the secret to happiness. I can honestly say I am jealous of her Next Big Thing
, a trip with her husband through the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, maybe Albania and a few other countries.
So, what’s my next big thing?
I am quite full of news on many fronts as I have taken this year to start a business. I am happily teaching fiction/memoir to adults
, hosting writing retreats
(the first of which took place in Italy this past October 2012, the second will combine yoga/writing in Tucson's famous Hacienda Del Sol in June), teaming up with a few dynamic women to start an Arizona Authors Series, and I am in the midst of rewrites for a second book. For the sake of brevity, however, I’ll focus on the book.
I am happy to answer a list of question from the NBT team:
What is the working title of your book?
Right now it is called Book 2.
I prefer an organic approach to writing and the title has yet to raise it’s hand and wave it in my face. At some point, probably during draft #4 or so, a phrase will stand up and clear its throat. I’ll let you know when that happens!
Where did the idea come from for the book?
Again, a story has a way of finding us when the time is right. On the eve of turning 50, I found myself emotionally wobbly and depressed. Here I thought I had already had my mid-life crisis, played out in our unplanned move to Italy, and now another was banging on my door. It just didn’t seem fair.
Feeling anxious, I sought out a few experts on midlife transition and began to read about menopause and how fifty is the new forty. The books were pleasant enough. I learned that my midsection was supposedly thickening due to some ancient pre-determined survival instinct (though I would suspect it had something to do with the huge bag of M&M’s sitting to my right).
There were a few moments of “Hell, yes, I am woman!” and the summoning of chutzpah to stand up for myself and tell people who I really am and how they needed to move over and give me elbow room so I could transform into all that I was meant to be. But honestly? These books did not help much in the peace and happiness category. I felt manipulated by marketing. Fifty is not the new forty at all. There was a profound emotional shift going on for me, one for which I had no words.
I decided then and there to attack the other side of fifty by recommitting myself to the transformational power of surrender. The same philosophy I had come to love and understand years earlier when we lived in Liguria. I would wait for moments to speak to me of life: where I had come from, who I was now, and where I might be going. I would wander this unchartered territory without the rulebooks of experts in my hand. What do they know of me?
So, with a sense of adventure, like that which had breathed new life into my soul long ago, I headed back to Italy (I was gifted with an unexpected plane ticket... thank you God and the universe, once again.) and sought Travel as my guru and guide. Travel and adventure are powerful teachers during times of transition. They allow us the emotional space to figure things out, to hear the whispers of our hearts, to claim our truths. Travel helps us slip out of cultural constraints for a time so we can regards ourselves in an honest way.
This book is a compilation of some of these moments abroad. How they taught me to navigate transition and feel inspired once again. They look backward, forward, and inward. They are the moments that have taught me to accept and love who I have become and look forward to the next chapter of my life with renewed vigor and sense of worth.
The process of this book has been so inspiring that I started a blog called ExPat Chat
for people who have lived and traveled abroad to share their amazing stories of transformation. I love the joy that emanates from each post.
What genre does your book fall under?
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I have a great agent, Judith Riven, who will guide me, once again. I wouldn’t do it without her!
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
It took awhile because one can’t force inspiration. That’s the hitch with this whole surrender thing... the teacher comes when you are ready. It’s about listening and following rather than leading. Quite countercultural, but worth the wait. I’m in the midst of rewriting at this time. It is my favorite part of the process.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
The insights are wrapped around a girlfriend-y trip through Florence. Who doesn’t want to go to Florence with her best friend? I can’t say that the “research” for this book was torture.
And now it's my pleasure to pass the torch on to four of my favorite writer pals, so that they can tell us about their Next Big Thing.
is a writer, editor, a book reviewer, and has been blogging since 2004. Her first two novels almost-but-not-quite made it to publication the traditional route via her agent. She will self-publish her third novel, What She Left Us via Kindle Direct Publishing in 2013. She lives in Scottsdale, AZ with her husband of almost 20 years and their three children. Find her at Manic Mommy
, friend her on Facebook
. Follow her on Twitter
is an award winning broadcaster and writer. She created Satellite Sisters, a nationally syndicated radio show that won nine Gracie Allen Awards for Excellence. She created and produces The Chaos Chronicles
, a humor blog and podcast about modern motherhood. She wrote regular columns for O, The Oprah Magazine and Working Mother and is now the parenting expert at oprah.com
. Helen of Pasadena
is her first book.
Lynn O'Rourke Hayes
For more than twenty-five years Lynn has been writing and speaking about travel, technology, and family issues. From the halls of Congress to the peaks of Peru, she has combined her passion for travel and adventure with her love of family to create a varied and meaningful career. Now through her writing, photography, and consulting, she relishes sharing strategies for balancing family, work, and exploration.
She is the owner and editor of FamilyTravel.com
and a weekly travel columnist for the Dallas Morning News
. She has worked for two hotel companies and consulted to numerous other organizations within the travel industry.
is the author of the New York Times and international best-seller This Is Not The Story You Think It Is. She lives and writes in Montana where she leads year-round writing retreats to help people free themselves on the page, no matter where they are in their writing journey. Spaces are still available for the February 27th- March 3rd retreat. For more info, click here: http://lauramunson.com/retreats.php