Interview with Writer, Poet, Blogger Michelle Navajas #interview #nonfiction #poetry


Welcome to another blogger/writer interview. Life has been truly busy for me and I do not always have it in me to do these interviews every week, but I do want to do them so I will try for three times every couple months or one more if I can handle it.

Today I’m so excited to share with an interview with a fabulous writer and poet I have blogged with for many years. Her name is Michelle (Mich) Navajas or Michnvas as I know her on WordPress.

You can visit her blog: Michnavs – Poetry in Motion.


Michnavs 1
Credit: Mich Navajas

1.Mich, Please Tell Us About Yourself? 


Hello, I haven’t been really open with regard to my identity. But I’d like to be called Mich as this is the first syllable of my blog name. I am a Filipina and I don’t have any additional social media accounts, only my WordPress Blog.

I was born and raised in the Philippines, a tropical country. We only have two
seasons. Our country is currently at war. One major city in Mindanao is under
a state of martial law after it has been attacked by some terrorists three months ago.

As well, I live a little farther from the battle zone and it’s quite safe. The daily news of the number of casualties and fatalities among our civilians and government troops is heartbreaking. I wish one day soon the war would end.

Also, I graduated with a degree in Mass Communication with a Major in Journalism. When I became married, a career in media seemed to be not feasible anymore so I decided to become a teacher. I studied units in Education and at the same time, had my local board exams to become a teacher.

Thus, my career in education was born. I enjoyed my education studies so much that I pursued my Masters and eventually went on to finish my Ph.D.


2. How Did You Find Teaching? Tell Us About Why You Decided To Stop Teaching and What Are Is Your Family Like? 


I began teaching as a career as a preschool teacher, then moved on to teach elementary and high school students. Later,  I was hired as a College professor. I taught in college for
five years until I realized that I was becoming so busy that I didn’t have enough time for my children as they grew up. After 15 years of teaching, I decided to resign and

After 15 years of teaching, I decided to resign and be a full-time mom to my four lovely girls. My family loves to travel a lot and create memories together. My kids are now grown. Also, my family loves to travel and create memories together and my children are now grown.

I have a 21-year-old daughter who’s graduating University and soon will be a
Chemical Engineer. My second daughter is in Senior High School and my third (and
youngest child are both in Junior High School. They are all doing well in school and
they have been behaving well too.

Also, my kids are down to earth and trust their parents. They are also each other’s best friends, despite having friends their own. They ensure that the friends they
make outside the home are the kind of friends who share the same values they have learned.

As well, my husband works as an Engineer in another country. He comes every two
months for a least 20 days. Life is good, actually the best. I probably have everything every woman could want in life and I am thankful for all I have. 


“I probably have everything every woman could want in life and I am thankful for all I have.” – Mich Navajas 


Marco Ceschi Unsplash
Credit: Marco Ceschi Unsplash

3. Tell Us About Some of Your Favorite Past Times? Where Does Writing Fit Into Your Family Life? 


I will be turning 41 years old in June and I have learned life’s lessons the hard way over the years but it has never toppled down my spirit because after all, I am still blessed. As well, I love to do yoga and exercise daily because it keeps me sane. 

Why? Well, because sometimes mommy duties are overwhelming especially if
you’re hands-on on mom. Raising four intelligent girls is not a joke. My only
consolation is that I have managed to keep their feet grounded while they excel and endeavor in life.

Also, I love coffee. It has been my constant companion except for my pen and paper and my smartphone which I blog on. I don’t have any social media accounts because I still believe in keeping my private life private.

But I blog because it makes me exercise my creative mind and at the same time, it’s fun to have a virtual self. I enjoy the company of my WordPress friends too. I love that blogging permits me to have intellectual and sometimes, poetic discourse with others.


3. When Did You Begin Writing and Blogging? What does it mean too you?


I began blogging after resigning from work. I didn’t know what to do with
my creative mind. So one day while we were traveling, I happened to see an article
about WordPress. That’s when I began writing. At first, I didn’t know what to do or how to do it  I didn’t even know what my blog’s focus would be. My initial months on WordPress were shaky.

More than the idea of sharing my thoughts to all of my readers, I enjoy the intellectual and poetic conversations I have with other bloggers. I have many brilliant bloggers friends and the best part of blogging is learning new and fascinating ideas from other bloggers. Ideas are endless in the blogging world and that’s amazing to me!


“More than the idea of sharing my thoughts to all of my readers, I enjoy the intellectual and poetic conversations I have with other bloggers . . . Ideas are endless in the blogging world and that’s amazing to me!” – Mich Navajas


Michelle Navajas Having Coffee
Credit: Mich Navajas – Having Coffee

4. Mich, Where do You Find your Inspiration and Motivation to Blog and Write? Why is Important For You to Keep Writing?


I write mostly poetry and my poems are by-products my imagination and eaves-dropping (lol) in cafes and restaurants while I wait for my daughters who are shopping or roaming around the mall. I recently

As well, I recently opened a convenience store. I actually thought then that I’d say goodbye to blogging because the store is taking so much of my time. However, I realized that my day to day dealings with people going to and from the shop has given me a plethora to write on. In between inventory and accounting, I still manage to write.


5. What Are Your Writing Habits? When Do You Prefer to Write? Do You Have Any Current Writing Projects on the Blog or on Your Own? 


I write whenever an inspiration hits me. I write anytime, no particular time of the day. My poems are not that magical (I must say). They are written mostly in the afternoon- in an “unpoetic time” without stars or a full moon.

I love to create random poems about the people around me, or about conversations I heard from other people seated close to me in the café. I’m currently venturing into short story writing. I did my first story in three parts, all written in.

As well, I did my first story in three parts, all written in my native language as part of our National Language month celebration in August. I used to be part of our school paper back in high and in my University days. And some of my poems were published in our school paper then. did not pursue a career in writing. We all

But I did not pursue a career in writing. We all know that writing doesn’t pay the bills. So,  I have had to figure out how to make writing a part of life. Add to the fact that I have children career oriented in communication, doing much more than writing on my blog was not part of my current career plan.

However, after four years blogging on WordPress, I have realized that it’s never too late to take up writing again. I have made several submissions to some of our local papers. And someday, I want to write a book too.

It would be a collection of my poems or it could be a collection of short stories. Stories of people I have met, stories of people who sat near me in a café. It could consist of stories of people who I may have not known but am to infer about while they quietly sip a cup of coffee.


6. Can You Briefly Describe Your Writing Process? What Is Your Preferred Writing Genre? Any Advice for Newbie Bloggers or Writers? 

As I mentioned earlier, I write whenever I feel inspired. And oh, did I mention that I am an old school writer? I carry with me a small notepad or notebook along with a pen. I 
scribble all my thoughts down there and later develop them into a  full-blown poem or story. I am most comfortable with free verse poetry.

For new writers, I would say that writing ideas and inspiration are out there. You only need to go out and meet people. You can also listen in on people’s conversations and
stories. Most importantly, be keen about what is happening around you because, even the quietest man or woman, seated at the far end of the room, has a story to tell.


“I love to create random poems about the people around me, or about conversations I heard from other people seated close to me in the café.am currently venturing into short story writing. I did my first story in three parts, all written in.” – Mich Navajas


Mike Tinnion Unsplash writing
Credit: Mike Tinnion via Unsplash

7. Anything Else You Would Like to Say Concerning Writing or Yourself?


Yes! I would like to say that I get frustrated seeing women in their 30’s and 40’s looking
miserable because forget to take care of themselves due to motherhood and/or a busy career. 

I am a mother of four and modesty aside, at 41 years old, I do my best to keep fit and eat right. Doing these two things keeps me appearing younger.  To take care of your family and/or career, you need to have ‘self-care’ too. 

As well, I want to advocate that women can be moms or busy at doing whatever they do in life, while gracefully growing old. Older women can still be beautiful and fit. Also, ‘self-care’ helps women to improve their life because it helps them to feel better about themselves. 

My advice does not have much to do with writing but I want my writing to be an avenue to reach out to women. I believe that women can have a full and happy life after childbearing or having gained weight with age.

There is hope to be fit again and it’s not easy but also not impossible to be a healthier person through exercise, eating well, and other self-care methods. 


8. Just for Fun, What Are Your Top Three Blogs? What Do You Like About Them?


After five years of blogging, I have come across brilliant bloggers/writers and I can’t
even manage to name only three. I love your poems on Mandibelle16, David D’s poems, Rosema’s poem’s, Maria’s poems, NMY’s poems, Calmkate’s poems, and NJ’s poems.

Moreover, I love Yassy’s poem’s, Gina (singledust’s) writing, Rose of Poet Rummager’s writing, Kim of Anotetohugette’s writing, Ivor’s poems, the guys from Slasher Monster’s writing, and many other bloggers and writers who I cannot think of at the moment.

I also adore Osyth’s long narrative reflections of her experiences and I love the travels of Mirriam. The spirituality in the blog of Sue and Di is also amazing.


“As well, I want to advocate that women can be moms or busy at doing whatever they do in life, while gracefully growing old. Older women can still be beautiful and fit. Also, ‘self-care’ helps women to improve their life because it helps them to feel better about themselves.” Mich Navajas


9. Can You Please Share With Us A Few Of Your Favorite Blog Pieces? 


Summer Rain

March 29, 2017

By Michnavs

*****

Michelle Navajas Rain
Credit: Michnavs – Michelle Navajas

*****

You held my hand tight
As you bid goodbye
It was hard
It was insane…

*****

You kissed me softly
with a whimpering cry
It froze my mind
It broke my heart…

*****

You strained me in your embrace
clasped me in your arms
It pricked me
It stung me…

*****

Then it rained on a summer afternoon.

*****

P.S.

I was driving home when it rained so hard..really??? raining on a summer day??? It freaked me out..ahh maybe this is what global warming is all about…or, maybe just maybe, this is how it feels to leave a beloved behind…feels like rain on a summer afternoon…


Here Is Some More Poetry from Mich:


She writes: “My favorite post is my “Summer Rain” post (above) as this poem gave birth to a series of summer rain themed poems which boosted my blog statistics and gained me, new followers. Please go check out these series of summer rain poems. You will be surprised of its ending or how I ended it… I too was surprised!!!”


Thank you so much to Mich. Here is a link to her blog once more: Michnavs – Poetry In Motion in more time. I will try to have another interview out this week or the next as I am playing catch up. You can reach me through my Contact Page. 


©Mandibelle16. (2016) All Rights Reserved.

 

Interview With Christopher Leo Couch


Hey everyone. I’m thrilled to share with you an interview on a wonderful writer, teacher, and blogger this first week of July. His name is Christopher Leo Couch of Clcouch123. Please check-out his blog, he’s a fascinating, kind, and learned writer.


Christopher Leo Couch
Christoper Leo Couch
  1. Please Tell Us About Yourself.

My name is Christopher Leo Couch. Christopher because my mother liked the Winnie-the-Pooh stories and Leo because it’s my father’s first name and his father’s and so on back. My last name is Couch because centuries ago, members of my clan made cushions for medieval furniture, furniture otherwise made of only hard stone and brick.

I was born in Louisville, Kentucky; much of my family is from and in the Southern USA.  My immediate family moved to Pittsburgh when I was young, then to Cincinnati. I moved back to Pennsylvania to work. I live in Mechanicsburg, a small town (borough) near Harrisburg (the state capital).

I grew up with four siblings, three brothers and my sister. I am the middle child. As such, I had to be an older child or a younger child, depending on the nature of the situation. The nature of the situation was rarely made clear to me. I never knew which child I was supposed to be and when. As a child, I had a busy imagination. I enjoyed stories and writing them. I made little worlds out of my train set and other toys such as models of spaceships or Lincoln Logs.


2. What Type of Profession Did You End Up Going Into?

I went into teaching, which became the substance of my work. I taught college while in college. Later, I taught my way through Graduate School and teaching paid the bills. I discovered I had great concerns for the accomplishments and growth of my students. In my initial studies and since, I developed a learner-centered approach to teaching that has evolved by experience and further training.

As an educator, I’ve worked in schools and churches. I’ve worked with all ages of students. I find it appealing to teach a range of all ages. I enjoy working  with babies, children, youth, and adults. I have degrees in Communications, and English, and I’ve studied religion. I’ve also, taught both public speaking and writing.

I am Christian though probably a lousy evangelist. I enjoy meeting those from other religious traditions and learning about their faith. I spend time with agnostics and atheists as well. I can articulate my faith well and I’m a devotee of the apologist C. S. Lewis; however, I believe if we’re all going to last in this world, we’re going to have to respect each other first. Rather than attempting to talk someone into my way of thinking and believing, I prefer to listen and respond. Then, I’m able to learn and relate to where others are in their spiritual beliefs.


” . . .I believe if we’re going to last in this world, we’re going to have to respect each other first. Rather than attempting to talk someone into my way of thinking and believing, I prefer to listen and respond. Then, I’m able to learn and relate to where others are in their spiritual beliefs.” – Christopher Leo Couch


3. When Did You Begin Writing and Blogging?

About a year ago, I had heart surgery. My recovery was slow and I couldn’t do much of anything. One activity I could do was write, so journaling became a daily practice. My spiritual director (once) had recommended I keep a blog. Why he suggested this, I’m not sure. I had already found WordPress, but I began to write on my blog more often after his suggestion. I enrolled in Blogging University (the WordPress offered courses). I also participated in a WordPress poetry writing class. I built a basic blog, giving myself enough options so that I could write blog posts, read the blog posts of others, and respond to other WordPress blogger’s comments.

I haven’t done much in a sophisticated fashion with my blog concerning graphics and other technical aspects, but I’ve been posting and corresponding daily for several months now and am learning as I go.


4. What Does Writing Poetry Mean to You? Why Do You Write?

Poetry is an impulse for me. I write poetry because I have to. It’s the reason I write, I think. Poetry is the way I meet the world. Maybe someone else somewhere, said this more profoundly, but for me this is how I can explain it. I write poetry to explore, as I imagine many do with this form. Poetry can be an exercise—a way to play with words—which is fine. I play that way. Usually, there’s more at work behind the poetry, even in the playful parts. I write to speak, to say something to the world, and to engage the world.


“Poetry is an impulse for me. I write poetry because I have to. It’s the reason I write . . .I write poetry to to explore, as I imagine many do with this form. Poetry can be an exercise -a way to play with words . . . I write to speak, to say something to the world, and to engage the world.” – Christopher Leo Couch.


5. Where Do You Find Your Inspiration to Write? Do You Find There Is a Time of Day You Most Like to Write?

Many things inspire me to write such as current events, a moment of beauty, and the concerns of myself and other people. I’m inspired to write when words come to mind or heart which I cannot let go of.

Currently, I most like to write in the early evening and revise in the afternoon the next day. I often enjoy writing first thing in the morning, when my mind is new and I encounter the world in an open way (or as open as the day and I are going to get).


6. What Are Your Most Current Writing Poetry Projects? Any Hopeful Projects You Are Working On?

I’m working on composing a series of psalms. I’m not the first person to express psalms in a new way. I’m not sure how I began working on this project. A psalm, simply put, is a song to God. Perhaps, I was writing out a prayer and thought there might be something lyrical about it. At any rate, I continue working on writing a series if psalms.

It’s also been a dream of mine to study and train for an MFA in Creative Writing. I’ve applied to various programs, though have not worked out a method to afford taking courses in a Creative Writing Program, which is why it’s a dream. But I do have an active, waking dream to lead a creative writing class.

While recovering from my surgery (I must have had more time than I recall), I drafted  a verse novel for a young-adult audience. I have great fondness for the genre and have been delighted to teach it, study it, and simply read it. I’ve written works, often in dramatic voice, for groups and special events; I’d be glad to continue writing works such as this.

I’d love to publish my work, of course. I have mentioned in my blog a dream of mine, to have a collection of my poems published in hardback form. I want my poetry to be a book as the kind of works I look for in bookstores and come upon as treasures abstracted from the mortal—or divine—aspects of earth.


“I want my poetry to be a book just as the kind of works I look for in bookstores and come upon as treasures abstracted from the mortal — or divine — aspects of earth.” – Christopher Leo Couch


7. Have You Published Written Works or Are You Planning to Publish Works of Writing in the Future?

I published numerous works while in graduate school and in my scholarly life. Most of my work, even poetry, has been published in journals. My favorite of these works is an article about ancient riddles and their use in The Hobbit.

For the last church in which I worked, I wrote a devotional series and for a Lenten observance. I wrote The Way of the Cross—a kind of liturgical writing which has been composed over centuries. If you go to the The Trinity Camp Hill Website, you’ll find my Way of the Cross and the entire experience rendered on line.


8. Can You Briefly Describe the Process You Went Through to Publish or Are Going Through to Have Your Writing Published?

I imagine if I seriously wanted to publish widely, I would need to have a literary agent, if not an advanced (terminal) degree. What I often do, is send my writing to a group which might be interested in printing it. Sometimes I’ve been commissioned to write certain pieces. Sometimes sending your writing to interested parties works and sometimes it doesn’t.

On a side note, I’ve heard there maybe a new planet discovered in our solar system. If so, it’s going to need a name. I posted a poem about my choice of Minerva (Roman god of wisdom), which many of you (thank you) like as well. I also sent my suggestion to NASA. Maybe, they will like my name choice as well?


“Most of my work, even poetry, has been published in journals. My favorite of these works is an article about ancient riddles and their use in The Hobbit.” – Christopher Leo Couch


9. What is Your Writing Process Like?

I’ve described something of my writing process above; I write. It’s not usually so hard, because I know I’ll write stuff that I won’t keep. But I’m still writing. The computer is especially (truly, really) helpful with my writing. I can draft, move things around, and create new saved versions and files. It’s so easy now with the a computer. Sometimes, I wonder how I made it through my Master’s Degree using a typewriter. (A mechanical word-calculating device networked to nothing but the typist).

I usually write in response to something—even if it’s only in wondering why or how. Sometimes, I write something and then put it away. (Again, wonderful computer)  I have many pieces of writing saved and stored on my computer (without proper back-up, I’m sure). At times, writing is difficult, because I am writing about something difficult. The recent death of my close friend is hard to write about. Sometimes writing is more straightforward and other times, writing is like playing. The act of writing is a chore (physically speaking) but I’m fine with it’s physical demands.


10. Do You Prefer Certain Areas of Writing or Reading Styles or Genres?

I read poetry, young-adult literature, and regular mysteries. Sometimes I read varied genres for fun and sometimes for work. For work, I read about pedagogy and religion. My favorite mystery works are by Aaron Elkins who sometimes writes with his wife Charlotte Elkins. Charlotte also writes on her own. My sister and I share mystery titles and our reviews of the books we both read. But, young-adult literature crosses pleasure and work, as does poetry.


“Sometimes, I wonder how I made it through my Master’s Degree using a typewriter. (A mechanical word-calculating device networked to nothing but the typist).” – Christopher Leo Couch


11. Do You Have Any Helpful Advice for Other Writers?

Write! Don’t wait. Write. Share. Get reader response and write more!

When sharing your writing before revising (and after, since writing is an organic process and not artificially linear), choose those whose opinions about your writing, you generally respect. These opinions do not have to be from folks who are writers.

If you would like to know how to increase your vocabulary when writing — read. You can read anything. I suggest reading writing you like. Rosema from the blog: A Reading Writer writes about wonderful books to read along with meaningful poetry. Please check-out her blog in the link above.


12. Is There Anything Else You Would Like to Share With Which Is Pertinent to Writing or Yourself?

I’d like to thank you, Amanda, for arranging this interview. I’d also like to thank everyone who reads my work. I’d like to thank those with whom I interact with online, because your work invites response.Thank you! Don’t let writing be a mystery which stultifies.  Writing is a mystery—but the good kind. When it’s fair and correct, give credit where credit’s due. Identify sources and inspirations.


“Don’t let writing be a mystery which stultifies. Writing is a mystery –but the good kind. When it’s fair and correct, give credit where credit’s due. Identify sources and inspirations.” – Christopher Leo Couch


  1. Can You Share With Us a Few Links From Your Blog With Some of Your Favorite or Most Loved Pieces? 

The first poem is playfulGrandmama used two words in “Collecting Words,” which I especially like. I use these two-words here:

“Pie Outside Can’t Hide”

By Christopher Leo Couch

Crimp pie crust,

Not too hard, ‘cause,’

Dust to dust.

Enjoy the crimp,

With elf and imp.

Like will-o-the-wisp,

When fall is crisp.

We bake our wares,

To cool on stairs.

Steam sprite-rises,

No surprises.

Wafting dessert:

Magic food alert!


My second poem is more soberly reflective:

“Failing Night”

By Christopher Leo Couch

 Just after five,

I have not been asleep.

Pain shoots through,

My leg, a single line,

Of nerve.

As if a wire was pushed,

Through inside.

Then something threw,

A supernatural switch,

And a low current of too-

Warm electric sting,

Without cessation.

Courses through tired,

Muscle.

Having surrendered the,

Day’s labors into,

Aspiration’s night of,

Negligent awareness.

Barely keeping guard,

Letting go of awake,

To turn into dream.

In hope to re-knit and,

Repair stretched.

Measures in the body,

And the mind.

It’s a cycle that’s supposed,

To work.

Why then is pain,

Ruining what I’ve made?

Not fair.

I want to rest then rise,

With normal consciousness,

Beneath the skin.


More of Christopher’s poetry can be found on his blog here.

Thank you so much Christopher for doing this interview for me. I enjoyed learning about you, your past, and your future aspirations. I wish the best for you in life, completing your MFA in Creative Writing, your psalms, and a hardcover book of poetry.


Thanks for reading this bi-weekly interview series. I have another fantastic interview lined up in the next couple of weeks. If you wished to be interviewed on writing and/or blogging, please reach me on my contact page on the top of my blog.


©Mandibelle16. (2016) All Rights Reserved.