Books, Interviews, My Thoughts, Nonfiction, Photography/Visual Art, Poetry

Interview with Writer, Blogger, and Author JoAnne Macco #amwriting #interview #nonfiction


Good Morning, and welcome to another writer and or blogger interview. I’m excited to share with you an interview with a newly published author, JoAnne Macco. I think you’ll love her blog and her book as much as I do.

As per usual, this interview will also be featured on the Go Dog Go Cafe, a blog for writers and lovers of writing, of all kinds. It’s a blogger and writer’s community so make sure you stop by there after reading this interview on my site. You can also submit writing of your own on the site such as poetry and short fiction through the Contact Page.

JoAnne’s blog site is JoAnne of the Forest: Anything is Possible with Faith, Hope, and Perseverance. 


JoAnne Silvia Picture
Credit: JoAnne Macco

1. JoAnne, Please Tell Us About Yourself? 

On WordPress, I’m best known as JoAnna of the Forest and I live in North Carolina on the east coast of the U.S.

In January, I took a leap of faith and retired from a 30-year career as a substance abuse counselor to spend more time writing and painting angels. My goal is to provide hope through my blog, and my book, Trust the Timing, A Memoir of Finding Love Again.

My long-term goals are to continue to develop my storytelling skills, to write a novel based on my parents, and to travel more. As a military kid, my family moved around a great deal.

I longed to settle in one place, so I’ve stayed near the Carolina coast for most of my adult life. It’s comfortable here, most of the year, although summers can become hot and humid. It helps that my little urban cottage is 15 minutes from the ocean and surrounded by trees that provide a lot of shade.


2. When Did you Begin Writing and Blogging? For What Reason and What Does Writing Mean To You? 

I wrote poems and songs in high school and I’ve journaled, off and on, for most of my life. Writing has always been therapeutic for me, which is probably why I wrote more when I approached menopause as a single mom with a 13-year-old daughter.

Writing helped me find perspective and meaning during those rollercoaster years. When I wrote my book in 2012, someone told me I needed to blog as well. Blogging has broadened my world tremendously, and I’m thankful to be part of this supportive community on WordPress. I believe that when we all share our experience, thoughts, and feelings, we discover that we have more in common than we might have realized.


“In January, I took a leap of faith and retired from a 30-year career as a substance abuse counselor to spend more time writing and painting angels. My goal is to provide hope through my blog, “Anything is Possible,” and my book, Trust the Timing, A Memoir of Finding Love Again.” – JoAnne Macco


3. Where Do You Find Your Inspiration and Motivation to Write and Blog? Why Is Writing Significant to You? 

I’ve learned a lot in my 60 years of life and I’m still learning a ton. I hope to share my experience and give people hope that even when your world seems to be falling apart, things are going to work out if you hang in there and work on you. Plus, writing helps me organize my thoughts and process my feelings. It helps me explore what I want to understand better about myself and the world.


4. Do You Have Particular Writing and/or Blogging Habits? What Do You Enjoy Most About Writing? 

Since I’m a night owl, my natural tendency is to write more in the afternoon and evening. But when I was working on my book, I found I had to write in the morning to keep from being distracted and staying up too late.

I’d force myself write in the morning for at least two hours before looking at any social media or email. Then, after checking those, I’d return to writing a couple of more hours in the afternoon.

I loved those long stretches of working on my book and becoming absorbed in the process. I look forward to doing that again with my next book. For now, I’m writing most of my blog posts at night.


“I hope to share my experience and give people hope that even when your world seems to be falling apart, things are going to work out if you hang in there and work on you. Plus, writing helps me organize my thoughts and process my feelings.” – JoAnne Macco 


5. What Are Your Most Current Writing Projects with Your Blog and Outside of Your Blog?

On my blog, I’m searching for positive and inspiring experiences to share with others, whether these experiences are global, local, or personal stories about overcoming challenges and also about meaningful coincidences.

I want to engage readers about relationship issues and personal growth topics that come up a lot in Trust the Timing, my book on Amazon.com. Outside of blogging, I’m beginning to research and collect material for future books I want to write.


6. Have You Published Your First Book? Do You Plan To Publish More in the Future?

I’ve just published my first book, Trust the Timing, A Memoir of Finding Love Again which is told from the alternating perspectives of two high school sweethearts. It became available on Amazon.com in July 2017.

As well, I’m planning to write and publish at least two more books, one about Doodle, the problem step-dog (who makes an appearance in my first book). Also, I’m writing a novel based on the lives of my extraordinary parents. At some time, I would also like to publish a book of poetry.


“On my blog, I’m searching for positive and inspiring experiences to share with others, whether these experiences are global, local, or personal, stories about overcoming challenges and about meaningful coincidences.’ – JoAnne Macco


Trust the Timing: A Memoir of Finding Love Again

by

JoAnne Macco

(Available for Purchase one Amazon.com)

*****

Book Cover JoAnne Macco Amazon.com
Credit: JoAnne Macco (Amazon.com)

*****


7. Can You Briefly Describe Your Writing Process? Did You Self-Publish or Go Through and Agent or Publishing Company? 

When I first started writing, I edited too much as I went along. Now, I think about a story or blog post in my head for a while first. When it comes to the writing, I’ve learned that a stream-ofaconsciousness style, without editing, makes my writing more interesting and fun.

I try to draft a chapter or a blog post without editing as if I’m talking to a friend. Then I’ll go back and edit the chapter or post later. Although, I don’t know if I’d want to write an another entire book like that. As I mentioned earlier, it’s better if I write before I peruse social media. I have to keep reminding myself of that!

Moreover, after considerable research and weighing the pros and cons, I decided to self-publish with Create Space for my memoir. I enjoyed the control this provided me. I think my next book maybe done with a small publishing company.


“When I first started writing, I edited too much as I went along. Now, I think about a story or blog post in my head for a while first. When it comes to the writing, I’ve learned that a stream of consciousness style, without editing, makes my writing more interesting and fun.” – JoAnne Macco


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

In college, I took journalism and technical writing and my previous career required a lot of factual reporting and clinical notes. As a result when I began writing my book I had a strong nonfiction framework. Also, I’ve enjoyed learning more about creative nonfiction over the past five years, working on my memoir.

Moreover, I’ve always been talented at making up stories in my head and I look forward to writing more fiction. However, my reading habits lean toward inspirational nonfiction, by authors like Anne Lamott and Elizabeth Gilbert, with an occasional sci-fi novel thrown in for fun.


9. Do You Have Any Helpful Advice for Other Bloggers and Writers Starting Out? 

I think I started writing and blogging, being too serious. Maybe it was my journalism and technical writing background? I thought I knew how to write, but creative writing is a whole different process than what I had been used to writing. To begin, I took online classes and engaged with supportive critique groups. 

Moreover, I learned that it’s vital to be conscientious and caring, when you’re writing, but not to forget to have fun. Also, it’s a good idea not to make your blog posts too long. About ‘five hundred’ words are plenty for a post (unless of course, you’re doing an interview). As well, I’ve learned to use photograps in every blog post I publish. 

My creative writing experience outside of blogging is primarily with my memoir. What I’ve learned from it is to write from your heart and not to be afraid to delve into those feelings if you’re in an emotionally stable place. It can be difficult and you’ll need to take breaks. Also, I’m sure writing fiction can bring up emotional baggage too. If you’re not ready for that, write for fun. Write poetry to yourself or write in a journal.

You can also keep a notebook handy for ideas that pop-up in your head so you can jot them down and allow these ideas to flow and transform into some kind writing later on.


“I’m sure writing fiction can bring up baggage, too. If you’re not ready for that yet, just write for fun. Write poetry to yourself. Keep a journal. Keep a notebook handy for ideas that” – JoAnne Macco


Writing Notebook Thought Catalogue UnSplash
Credit: Thought Catalogue via UnSplash

10. Is There Anything Else You Would Like to Share About Yourself or Your Writing? 

In my short biography, I describe myself as an open-minded, tree-hugging Christian. Like Madeleine L’Engle, I don’t consider myself a “Christian writer” but a writer who happens to be a Christian. I like to explore spirituality and connections between things that don’t seem to be connected.


11. Just for Fun. What Are Your Top Three Favorite Blogs? What Do You Enjoy About Them? 

It’s so difficult to name only three! I could easily name 10 favorites or more! But here it goes:

  • Sacred Touches –  Natalie Scarberry always has something to comfort or inspire me with vibrant colors and natural delights.
  • SmileCalm Home – David’s gentle, loving wisdom comes through in each post and makes me smile deep down in my heart.
  • Behind the White CoatBehind the White Coat is written by a smart doctor with a big heart. Her posts can be informative, entertaining, hilarious or heartbreaking. Her honesty makes me feel like I am not alone.

“In my short biography, I describe myself as an open-minded, tree-hugging Christian. Like Madeleine L’Engle, I don’t consider myself a “Christian writer” but a writer who happens to be a Christian. I like to explore spirituality and connections between things that don’t seem to be connected.” – JoAnne Macco 


Jo Anne Silvia Book Cover 2
Credit: Provided by JoAnne Macco

12. Please Share With Us Some Of Your Blog Writing. 

“If We Lose Electricity” 

By

JoAnne Macco

*****

JoAnne Macco
Credit: JoAnne Macco – http://www.joanneoftheforest.wordpress.com

*****

If we lose electricity

in the storm,

We will still have power.

We have the power

To check on our neighbors,

To ask for help,

To move to higher ground.

The power to tell stories,

To laugh,

To sing lullabies.

The power to write a poem,

To mend what’s torn,

To read by candlelight.

The power to hope and pray,

To reminisce,

To hold hands in the dark.

The power to clear a path,

To rise from ash,

 and rebuild.

_____________________________

When we say we’ve lost power, it minimizes the power we still have. If we lose electricity, let’s say we lost electricity. We still have power, at least over our thoughts, words, and actions.

I send prayers for safety and comfort to all those in the path of the storm.

13. Here are Some More Blog Links to JoAnne’s Writing:


Thank you so much to JoAnne for her patience with this interview. I loved learning about her writing and her background as a writer. I also think it’s neat how she is, particularly, a nonfiction writer. I also loved her quote about being a Christian writer who doesn’t, necessarily, do Christian writing.

If you’re a blogger or writer, or someone who blogs about a cause, please feel to contact me if you would like to be interviewed. My contact page is HERE. See you when I see you :).


©Mandibelle16. (2017) All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interviews, My Thoughts, Nonfiction, Quotes, Religion/Morality, Writing

Interview With Jackelyn Santana


Welcome back to another December issue of my biweekly interview series. Today I’m interviewing the gracious and beautiful Jackelyn Santana who was recently married. She has a faith based blog here: Faith Walking Hebrews 11:1. She describes her blog using the Hebrews 1:11 Bible Verse: “Now Faith Is The Assurance of Things Hoped For, The Conviction of things Not Seen.”


jackelyninterview
Jackelyn Santana

1. Jackelyn, Please Tell Us About Yourself?

My name is Jackelyn Santana, I am from Miami, FL, and my family is of Cuban descent.I am a child of God and passionate about my faith. I LOVE reading, blogging, and spending time with my family.  I was married on November 11, 2016 and  I am a mother to an amazing six-year-old and a stepmother to two beautiful young ladies.

This year has been full of blessings. To emotionally prepare myself for our marriage, I spent the year analyzing myself and I’m finally at a place where I can embrace my authenticity. I spent a good portion of my life internalizing my pain, wearing masks to cope, and believing something was wrong because I didn’t have everything as it seemed everyone around me had.

Having this frame of mind enslaved me. There wasn’t anything wrong with what I was facing, but because there’s a stigma associated with imperfection and emotional struggle, I thought it was a ‘ME’ problem. I didn’t realize the truth, my problems were natural and universal.

As I began opening up and peeling off the layers I was hiding under, I discovered more and more people who hid there pain as I was doing. We strengthened each other, helped each other heal, celebrated our spiritual growth, and learned to love ourselves no matter where we are in life.

The most beautiful thing I’ve witnessed is a group of hopeless lost souls coming together and loving each other back to life. We found a reason to smile again. This world is in such need of healing. I would love nothing more than to help spread love and healing wherever I go in my life.


” As I began opening up and peeling off the layers I was hiding under, I discovered more and more  people who hid there pain as I was doing. We strengthened each other, helped each other heal, celebrated our spiritual growth, and learned to love ourselves no matter where we are in life.” – Jackelyn Santana


2. When Did You Begin Blogging? What Does Blogging and Writing Mean To You?

I started blogging about four months ago July 20, 2016 to be exact. Blogging means everything to me! It’s liberated me. I’m free!! The more I write about things, the less ashamed I am of what I’ve faced. With each post I’ve removed the chains of emotions and experiences I kept a secret. These emotions and experiences have lost power over me.

This has allowed me to acknowledge and celebrate my spiritual growth. I enjoy interacting with other bloggers. Blogging also gives me an inside view of my soul. Sometimes I’m shocked when I read older posts because when I wrote, I let the words flow from my soul and they expressed things I wouldn’t voice out loud.


3. Where Do You Find Your Inspiration and Motivation To Write?

I am inspired by my faith and other bloggers. I began blogging about one-year ago, but I didn’t think I could write posts people would want to read. I’m better at public speaking than I am at writing. A co-worker of mine kept pushing me to write. I would share advice with her and she would nudge me to put it on paper. I finally decided to test the waters by submitting a guest post on Proverbs 31 Women.

They approved my guest post one-month later and I was shocked and honored.  I started writing away on my blog often. My faith in God changed my life, it wasn’t until I understood my faith better that I was able to apply its principles to my life. In the past few years I’ve uncovered so much richness I was missing out on because I didn’t study my beliefs. It’s become a way of life for me and I want to help others learn about Jesus in practical terms.

Many times when we think of the Bible we think of a standard which is too high for most of us to reach. The Bible comes across as something only ‘Holy’ people read. Or, we become intimidated by it because we find it unrelatable since The Bible was written many moons ago and times have changed.

These ideas of Christianity couldn’t be further from the truth. We need to find the right tools to break down barriers from reading God’s Word, The Bible, and help others understand faith in simpler terms. Believing in Jesus can guide us towards love and happiness. Once we understand the basics, our soul will keep searching for more – our hearts will be “homing our Heavenly home,” if you will, and we will grow spiritually.

By identifying with examples from the stories in The Bible, we can understand our obstacles are not too much, our lives can be molded in a way which allows us to serve both God, our families, and friends because they’re all related.

God acknowledges our need for connection and sent his son Jesus not only so that we could be saved, but so we could identify with Jesus and strive to imitate His way of life. As a woman, fiancee, and mother, I have been able to love more purely and unconditionally through The Bible’s teachings, making them a way of life.

Reflecting on the dark moments I’ve faced, I see how fine the line between good and evil can be — being saved or being lost; I want to help others be saved as I am saved through Jesus’s death and resurrection. 


“My faith in God changed my life, it wasn’t until I understood my faith better that I was able to apply its principles to my life. In the past few years I’ve uncovered so much richness I was missing out on because I didn’t study my beliefs.’ – Jackelyn Santana


jackelyninterview2
Jackelyn Santana

4. When Do You Like to Write and Do You Have Any Current Special Writing Projects?

There isn’t a time of day that inspires me the most. I write whenever my heart moves me to write. As of today I’m only blogging. My passion and dream is to help others. Perhaps join /create a traveling retreat group, or participate in spiritual workshops. This is a concept similar to a ‘Women of Faith’ tour, but on a smaller more personal level.

There would be one to one interaction, healing exercises, and honest group talk. I would love to help others come out of their shells and be saved through faith in Jesus and God as I was. My healing is made possible through God and meeting an amazing group of women in my Emmaus Ministry who were transparent about their struggles and shared tips on overcoming the obstacles of life.


5. Are You Planning on Publishing Any Written Work in The Future?

I have not published anything. Perhaps later in life I will be presented the opportunity to do so, or I will submit writing drafts. With only four-months of blogging under my belt I’m focusing on identifying my writing voice, interacting with others through my writing, and improving my writing skills which are at a novice level. I would also like to study theology and I think it would further advance my writing.


“My healing is made possible through God and meeting an amazing group of women in my Emmaus Ministry who were transparent about their struggles and shared tips on overcoming the obstacles of life.”


6. What Is Your Writing Process Like?

I sit in front of my laptop or a notepad and I pray, relax, and set my soul free to express itself. When an idea pops into my mind I write it down either on my phone’s notepad, or sticky notes. I may begin draft posts that I revisit at a later time when I can give my writing undivided attention. I have about fourteen draft posts which I’ve begun and I’m saving for the future blog posts.

When I first started blogging I would write and post instantly. I’ve learned to slow down and process topics, allowing my mind to continue digging for information. I will officially post my writing after I have looked at every angle.


7. Do You Have Any Helpful Advice for Other Writers Starting Out?

Write about topics you are passionate about. It feels great to do what you love. I love what I write about and it’s how I live my life. If you’re on the fence about writing I would suggest you take a leap of faith and see what comes from this desire.

WordPress has a wonderful community of bloggers and this community helps you grow as a writer. Don’t write posts for the sake of increasing traffic and followers, write on topics you enjoy writing about.  


8. Is There Anything Else You Would Like To Share Pertinent to Yourself or Your Writing?

I am God’s creation, I am human, I am imperfect, and I am meant to depend on God. Read this post to learn more about me.


9. Please Share With Us Some Of Your Favorite Blog Posts:

Slogging Through The Tears

By Jackelyn Santana

*****

“Sensitive people are the most genuine and honest people you will ever meet. There is nothing they won’t tell you about themselves if they trust your kindness. However, the moment you betray them, reject them or devalue them, they become the worse type of person. Unfortunately, they end up hurting themselves in the long run. They don’t want to hurt other people. It is against their very nature.  They want to make amends and undo the wrong they did. Their life is a wave of  highs and lows. They live with guilt and constant pain over unresolved situations and misunderstandings.  They are tortured souls that are not able to live with hatred or being hated. This type of person needs  the most love anyone can give them because their soul has been constantly bruised by others. However, despite the tragedy of what they have to go through in life, they remain the most compassionate people worth knowing, and the ones that often become activists for the broken hearted, forgotten and the misunderstood. They are angels with broken wings that only fly when loved.” –Shannon L. Alder

 *****

I am on an emotional roller coaster ride.

rollercoaster

I will not try to deny it, this is who I am, sensitivity and all. I wear my sensitivity as a badge of honor, although throughout life I have been ridiculed or further wounded because of it. I cannot control the sensitive nature of my heart. I may pretend something has not stabbed or wounded me, but more likely than not this is not the case.

For many years I have tried to harden myself, hoping that I would become immune to the blows of life, and the harsh words received from those I hold with high esteem. Despite my efforts, my sensitive nature is unchanged.

My sensitive nature is misunderstood.

sad.jpg

Those closest to me believe they understand me and my motives. They believe they can read between the lines. Many dare to correct me when I express my intentions and motives, determined their interpretation of my position is correct. My hard and serious exterior denies me the right to ever be recognized as a victim, although, my heart tells me otherwise. Many times I find myself confused, doubting my heart, thinking that there is something severely wrong because I’m always wrong and never right about my own feelings. Maybe I am bad at the core?

One Of My Favorite Bible Verses:

“For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.”  Romans 7:15

broken-heartIn my case, I do not understand why I continue to love and care the way I do. I know better, yet I cannot help it. I continue to express my vulnerabilities to those I care about in hopes that I will be understood. The more I explain myself, the further away I get from MY truth, and the closer I get to shedding unfavorable light on myself. I allow the fighter in me to get the best of me when I feel taken advantage of. This without a doubt, is used against me as I fail to be consistent, giving in to my human frailty. I can only be silent for so long without jumping into protective mode. I can only shed so many tears without lashing out. The cruelty I spew is the cruelty I have learned through life, it is not the natural nature of my heart. I would never purposely provoke tears from anyone, not even those who have hurt me profoundly. Yet sometimes acting in this manner is the only way I can get someone to listen to my voice and believe my truth. I am neither too proud to extend an apology when deserved and make amends with those I’ve offended. My truest desire is to maintain peace.

tug

I am not taken seriously in my tender moments; my tenderness is taken for granted. The world demands yet resents my tenderness. Should a loved one offend me, my tenderness is an inconvenience because my tears take away from focusing on the “root” of the problem, and I am forced to slog against the tears. Should I act sternly with others, not allowing my emotions to flinch, I’m accused of being cold and harsh. The combination of my emotions is never seen as right.

It seems my sensitivity is to be used at the convenience of others. I can never be me. I’m never entitled to the beauty of my emotions. My view of my emotions is brushed off because I am overly sensitive. Yet, I cannot label the world as overly cruel, overly angry, or overly unforgiving.

I read once that instead of numbing our pain we need to identify the source of our pain and work on the problem instead of the symptom. For example, we may have a headache because we are dehydrated, hungry, or stressed. We should work on fixing those issues rather than silencing the headache calling out for attention.

sad

The same goes for my tears. My tears, the ‘water works’ as they’ve been called, are not crocodile tears. It’s not an act or an attempt to manipulate; these statements couldn’t be further from the truth. My tears are indicators that my soul is experiencing pain, something is hurting me. To stop my pain at it’s root I need to either freeze my heart (which I have failed to accomplish) or excuse myself from the undesirable situation until I’m emotionally ready. This I can rarely accomplish without ridicule that I cannot work through a topic, without being accused of being overly dramatic.

I am always apologizing, but rarely entitled to an apology when hurt because my over-sensitivity is what causes the pain, not the actions or words of others.

When is my sensitive nature ever right for me!?

People say my tears and sensitive nature take away from the moment. I have slogged away for a good portion of my life to hide these parts of myself. I keep my tears a secret and am ashamed of my weakness.

As an adult, I find that my sensitive nature and heart are not the problem. The problem is the lack of sensitivity in the world. It’s not the compassionate who are the problem; a lack of empathy is the problem!  I will continue to embrace my sensitivity, tears and all. I do not lose hope there are more sensitive people out there. I won’t (and truthfully can’t) harden myself and lose hope because I find the world to be cruel and unloving. I am who I am. I am transparent.My anger is pain masked with anger. It’s sadness for being the recipient of a pain I would never wish to inflict on others. It’s a betrayal I never foresaw. It’s the second opportunity no one else would’ve extended, yet I’ve already extended a third to my offender while knowing how the situation will likely end. It’s fighting the urge to assume the worst in others. It’s the unconditional love I am willing to give which is rarely cashed in.

It’s the product of a broken heart living in a broken world that is trying to break the best in me.

  “Highly sensitive people are too often perceived as weaklings or damaged goods. To feel intensely is not a symptom of weakness, it is the trademark of the truly alive and compassionate. It is not the empath who is broken, it is society that has become dysfunctional and emotionally disabled. There is no shame in expressing your authentic feelings. Those who are at times described as being a “hot mess” or having “too many issues” are the very fabric of what keeps the dream alive for a more caring, humane world. Never be ashamed to let your tears shine a light in this world.” – Anthon St. Maarten

Slog

*****


Here Are More of Jackelyn’s Posts:


Thank you so much Jackelyn for agreeing to be interviewed. I am thrilled to find out so much about you and hope your struggles in life have become easier to handle through your faith. I hope you have more peaceful moments, than times which stress you out. Here is one more link to Jackelyn’s BlogFaith Walking Hebrews 11:1


Thanks for reading! If you would like to answer some interview questions about writing/blogging/poetry and your unique perspective and process on writing, I would encourage you to reach-out to me on my Contact Page. I would love to have you featured as a biweekly interviewee. See you in two-weeks!


©Mandibelle16. (2016) All Rights Reserved.