Jill Weatherholt

Pursuing a Passion for Writing


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Summer Spotlight: Johanna Bradley

IMG_1206You know that sense of panic you have when confronted with a blank sheet of paper? Well, I’m experiencing it right now! I’m Johanna Bradley, by the way, and I run a blog called Restlessjo. The blog is my writing space, and I can kick off my shoes and feel totally comfortable in there. I hope my visitors can too.

When I tentatively suggested to Jill that I would be up for a little Friday Fun, it seemed like a good idea. Now I’m wondering whatever possessed me to mingle with so many great writers and high achievers. Maybe I’m hoping that a little inspiration will rub off on me. Words have always been my friends, but occasionally they can be the enemy too.

How did I get into blogging? For as long as I can remember, I’ve had the travel bug. I always kept a diary when I travelled, initially scribbled on the back of my postcard collection. It made the extravagance of buying so many postcards seem not so bad. This was long before digital, and I often experienced the crashing disappointment of abysmal photographs, even when I ‘knew’ I’d framed a superb shot! The postcards gave me a pictorial memory along with my travelogue.

One day I saw a job advertisement, of sorts. It was from a newly formed travel company called Simonseeks. The concept was for travellers to write their own mini guides to the places they had visited and publish them on the site, complete with photographs. In exchange they would receive a tiny percentage of any profits generated for the company by the guide. I loved the idea, and was soon engrossed in sharing my travel experiences.

Sadly the company foundered after a couple of years, but it had given me a taste of doing something that I loved. I continued to write for other outlets, but couldn’t find the ‘perfect fit’. I wanted to tell my stories in my own way. And that is exactly what I have the luxury of doing on my blog. I have discovered a love of photography too, and, though I am technically inept, I delight in telling a story in conjunction with my photos.

Could I write something ‘deeper’ or more substantial? I don’t really know. I don’t have the imagination or flair to write fiction. Those of you familiar with my blog will know that my Dad is Polish, and that I include a little of his extraordinary story in my Personal A-Z of Poland. It has the potential for a book, but it doesn’t feel like it’s mine to write.

I live in the north east of England, but am lucky enough to have a home in the Eastern Algarve, not too far from the Spanish border. It was bought as a place to retire to, where my husband might paint and I could scribble. We visit when we can and few things make me happier than finding new places to paddle and old ruins to explore. Maybe someday I’ll write that travel book. Who knows?

The Tavira Island ferry

The Tavira Island ferry

A flowering cactus in the Algarve

A flowering cactus in the Algarve

Tavira seen from the flyover

Tavira seen from the flyover

It’s ‘Question Time’! Jill has been an amazing hostess all summer. I am in just a little awe of this dinner party, but deeply grateful for the invitation.

If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would it be?

Michael Palin- author and traveller extraordinaire. He has the twinkliest eyes and the kindest manner. Although I talk a lot, I’m really quite shy inside. I know that he would be gentle with me, and make me laugh, as he elaborated on all those amazing travels of his.

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?

Ride a bike! I am a perpetual source of disappointment to my husband. He trails disconsolately after me as I pursue the travel adventure. ‘Just one more corner’ has been my stock phrase for my whole life. It all has to be done on foot, because I can’t ride (or successfully drive a car, either- but that’s another story). There’s many a weary day he’s said to me ‘if only you could ride a bike’. And think of the extra ground we could cover!

Me and my husband river rafting on the Dunajec

Me and my husband river rafting on the Dunajec

After death, if you were to come to life as an animal, which would you choose?

A dolphin. I’m not much of a swimmer but I have always been fascinated by water. It has to be warm water, though. One of my most magical memories is of an opalescent sunset, between the islands of La Gomera and Tenerife. We eagerly scanned the water for these friendly and curious creatures. I am the clumsiest person you ever met. To be able to glide seamlessly and frolic in that water would be the greatest joy. Exploring the underwater world, an added bonus.

What celebrity do you get mistaken for?

Helen Mirren. Don’t tell her, will you? She’d be appalled!
For my daughter’s wedding last year, I bought a quite becoming long frock. It cried out for a little fur stole and elbow length gloves (it was a winter wedding). No tiara, mind you! How flattered was I when somebody remarked that I looked just like ‘the Queen’. Not entirely regal though. As my daughter pointed out at the reception, ‘Mum, you’re wearing your choker upside down!’ She would know as she had made it for me.

If you could visit one place in the entire world, where would it be?

Isn’t that the hardest question for a person who wants to go everywhere? I’m torn! The oriental has always called to me, yet I have never been to the Far East. Pagodas and temples are the stuff of dreams for me. An island paradise with lush gardens and the tinkle of wind chimes waits for me somewhere.

Many thanks, Jill. I hope I haven’t bored you.

Thank you so much for taking the spotlight and for sharing some of your beautiful photographs, Jo. You and your lovely blog are never boring! Up next week is John Howell.


103 Comments

Summer Spotlight: Jenny Pellett

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????I’m Jenny Pellett. To be honest, I usually feel awkward taking centre stage and talking about myself. It reminds me of training courses I was sent on in my early career – you know, where you have to stand up, introduce yourself then spend the rest of the day in a team situation creating a bivouac from a single sheet of newspaper and a few cocktail sticks. I prefer to watch and observe. I write, you see. I record and jot things down that might be useful: threads of conversations, odd words (I love words), how someone is dressed; the cut of their hair; anything that amuses me. Lots of things amuse me. My cup is always at least half full and not a day goes by without something or someone making me laugh. I was brought up in a happy household; we were taught to ‘find the funny’ – the best lesson I ever learned.

I’ve always written. Fiction, articles, diaries, essays. I started blogging at Charactersfromthekitchen as a means to anchor all the characters whizzing around in my head, to give them a platform. I soon discovered that to post equals publishing, so I don’t post stories any more – I blog about all sorts- anything that comes into my head – but that’s the reason behind my blog’s misleading name. I do a lot of thinking in my kitchen – it takes my mind off the boring other stuff that has to go on there. I hate cooking.

I live in the south-east of England with my husband and son, surrounded by beautiful countryside yet only an hour from London. I’ve always lived in the country but have a hankering for the city and all its treasures. I commuted there for fifteen years, had a career in publicity and loved every minute (except the training courses). Nowadays I work in a local mainstream school as a support teacher to mainly autistic students, helping them make sense of the world. I love their point of view; find humour and wisdom in their comments and have learned to be patient as well as one step ahead.

I have synaesthesia. I see things in colour that other people don’t. Days of the week, months of the year; my number line is a like a DNA spiral strand in glorious technicolour. It never occurred to me until a couple of years ago that this was unusual but now I feel privileged to encounter these heightened sensory experiences. Something to do with the brain’s unique wiring – it’s quite exciting.

Travelling has always been a passion – back in the day, (BC – before children) we journeyed to the Far East, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka and have seen an awful lot of Europe. (Some of it literally awful…). The Americas, apart from New York City, remain unconquered. I‘m looking forward, in the next few years, to having more time to travel and to pursue some of my other interests – theatre, rambling (on foot and verbally), visiting museums, galleries and places in the UK that I’ve always meant to go.

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow … but for now, I’d like to thank Jill for allowing me this space and crack on with answering her questions.

If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would you meet?

Without hesitation – Grayson Perry, the eccentric cross-dressing English potter and artist extraordinaire. He has won the Turner Prize; has presented an insightful television documentary about the British class system inspired by his series of brightly woven tapestries depicting a modern Rake’s Progress; has ridden his psychedelic motor bike all around Bavaria accompanied by his boyhood Teddy Bear, Alan Measles. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy, has curated a major exhibition at the British museum and has delivered a series of entertaining talks for BBC Radio Four’s prestigious Reith Lectures slot. I saw him hold forth at the British Museum and he was inspiring. He is funny, engaging and outspoken. I like to think we’d get along like a house on fire.

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?

A miracle, that’s what it would be. Old dogs and new tricks are words that immediately spring to mind. I think my days of learning are gone – memory like the proverbial sieve, concentration span of a gnat. What I would have liked to learn and master perfectly is the French language – I’d like to be fluent. I understand and speak it ok, but I’d love to be able to jabber on all evening intelligently to a load of French intellectuals. No idea why – it’s not as if I know any English ones. Failing that, playing the piano would be an achievement.

What do you miss most about being a kid?

The thrill of one’s birthday. Birthdays were a wonderful event: the anticipation, the treats. Arranging the party and making a guest list; the presents, wrapped and ribboned, attached to a well-wishing card; the birthday song sung at school; the embarrassment and discomfort of the bumps; not being told off; chocolate for breakfast; the cake, the candles – oh the list for what’s good about youthful birthdays is virtually endless. Nowadays I gloss over a particular annual date which, like time’s winged chariot, seems to hurtle round ever quicker.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?

Give birth. Anyone who says that you forget the pain and the unpleasant bits is lying, however wonderful your infant is. And mine was – and is – pretty wonderful actually, especially when he remembers to take the rubbish out and put his plates in the dishwasher.

Is there anything about the opposite sex you just don’t understand or comprehend?

Pretty much everything. Understanding the opposite gender is a work in progress – likely to last a lifetime. Why, for instance, don’t men like browsing? They go shopping, yes – but they go straight to what they want, buy it and head for home. No comparison shopping, no checking out alternatives – so boring.
Why can’t they ever find anything? Why do they shout from upstairs, before they’ve even opened a cupboard “where is my …………..?” Or worse: “What have you done with my …………?” And when they do open the cupboard or drawer, they just stand there waiting for whatever it is to leap out at them.
Why don’t they ever throw anything away? Why do they leave torn-open envelopes on the hall table, having retrieved the post that they need? Why are they always mislaying their wallets/car-keys/passport/tickets? Why do they panic when this happens instead of putting these items somewhere they’ll remember? Why can’t they do gift-wrapping? Appreciate your map-reading skills? Sleep without snoring or hogging the duvet?
Why do we love them?

Thanks for taking the spotlight, Jenny! ‘Finding the funny’ I love that! Up next week is Johanna Bradley.


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Summer Spotlight: Hollis Hildebrand-Mills

HollisMy name is Hollis Hildebrand-Mills. My mother named me Hollis because she said it was euphonious (her word) with Hildebrand. I wanted to keep these two names together. When I married my husband, I decided to hyphenate. I am the only Hollis Hildebrand-Mills in the world. The search engines and advertisers love it.

I am an artist, working mostly in collage or pieced-together type formats. I made a movie, I paint and most recently I posted 100 collages, one a day here on WordPress, on my blog. This was taken from an installation I put together for a solo show in New York City earlier last year. I discovered that the blog world was full of self-disclosure and I started to ramble along with each piece I posted. A write up of my online exhibition appeared in The Atlanta Journal/Constitution.

I live with my husband and my daughter who is soon going to college in a few months. I continue to blog. I also am working on another solo show for 2016, also in Chelsea, New York City. I have decided to show paintings for this exhibition. I always try something different, believing that true art is created out of the ether. I let the Universe guide me along.

I have quite a background, however, in the structured learning of doing art. I believe in this strongly. Although many people believe that art can be self-taught, I am not one of them. I have a BFA from Moore College of Art and Design. And between pursuing a second degree at The Atlanta College of Art for four years, now known as SCAD, I worked extensively on post graduate studies in painting and drawing at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and Fleisher Art Memorial in Philadelphia.

In order to support myself, which I did for many years, before I met my husband, I worked at TV Guide Magazine, various printing companies and art studios. I also was employed for thirteen years at an advertising agency in Atlanta. At the agency, where I worked the longest, I worked with some very interesting, creative people and eventually it was my privilege to work on the Orion Pictures Account. For Orion, I did their publicity in three major metropolitan areas and worked with the movie stars affiliated with the movies being released at the time. Both my assignments as an art director and my job as a publicist have influenced my fine art career, in the subject matter of my artwork and in the manner by which my artwork is done.

I was born in Roanoke, Virginia and moved to Swarthmore, Pennsylvania when I was eight years old. We moved again when I was fifteen to Stamford, Connecticut when my father commuted every day to New York City.

Atlanta is my home now. I like the South. The air is soft here. And the people are kind. They may not always mean it, but it is a more pleasant way to live. I live with a forest behind our house. Our house is on a slope, so in the winter, you can see the floor of the woods from the windows. The winter is now my favorite time of year because of that image.

One more thing, I catalogue my memories by what I was wearing at the time.

Here are my answers to Jill’s questions.


If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would you like to meet?

I would like to meet The Virgin Mary. I am not Catholic, or particularly religious, but I am spiritual and I do believe she was a divine person. It also helps that I took four years of Latin in High School!

I would like her “take” on how things were at that time. And if miracles were being performed, if people were surprised when they happened.

Life has changed so much during the short time I have been in the world. From the “Your call is important to us.” recorded message to “You can look it up online.” (Yes, I could do that, but you are here now.) Changes in our culture have evolved so quickly, what must it have been like in Mary’s time?

Maybe during Mary’s lifetime, miracles, kindness, music and love were in the air. Sort of like the 1960s where we thought anything was possible. A movie is being made about a 60s artist, Joni Mitchell, starring Taylor Swift. Will they get it right? Or will it be like “Ben Hur”, Mary’s time. Where it could never have been like that. But how do we know?

What celebrity do you get mistaken for?

One time, in between jobs, when I was a pet sitter, I was standing in my client’s greenhouse and she, an older, more settled woman, handed me a lemon, grown from her lemon tree there. It was the middle of winter and very dark outside. I was wearing a white Laura Ashley blouse and bright yellow pants. She said to me, “You know, you remind me of Blythey! When she and I were young! She was my roommate in college!” I don’t see my resemblance to Blythe Danner. Her hair is nice and thick and she seems to move so confidently, but others see it. She, by the way, is Gwyneth Paltrow’s mother.

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?

I am a risk taker. Therefore, there is no to-do “bucket list.” Now traveling to a particular place is different. I would like to go to Machu Picchu, Peru. I recently got a Facebook message from Machu Picchu. The person was outraged because there was bad internet service there. Mulder, from the cult TV show, “The X Files” would find plenty of waves flying around up there, including UFO service, which I would find fascinating!

What do you miss most about being a kid?

I miss long summer afternoons playing with my friends, in our neighbor’s sassafras treehouse. The leaves looked like mittens and we sewed doll clothes. We made our dolls sleep outside overnight under a bush in our handmade sleeping bags. We worried all night about them on their campout.

I also miss ice skating on Crum Creek in Swarthmore or a pond when we moved to New England. The pond was clear and we could see gold fish swimming under the ice below. The ice was smooth. So that an outstretched jacket would cause the wind to propel us forward. Like a sail pulling our skates along, without having to move our feet.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?

Quit smoking. Hands down.

After death, if you were to come to life as an animal, which would you choose?

Probably as one of my pets. I think of all my pets as having “personalities.” I don’t think of them as being a dog or a cat or a bird. For instance, when Judy Garland sings “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”, Bloobie, one of our parakeets, sings too. Does Bloobie know she is blue? Most definitely.

If you could visit any place in the entire world, where would it be?

I mentioned Machu Picchu. I would like to see a UFO. From a distance.

If you could go back in time to change one thing, what would it be?

I would have turned around and given the baby sitter the day off. As I was leaving our house, I saw through the glass, the sitter hoist our six month old baby up in the air and our daughter was laughing.

I am very driven, and my art had to be done. Also, the time during each baby stage seemed to last. Time was slower then. I thought those days would be around forever.

What do you think the greatest invention has been?

The washing machine. I would hate to be rubbing our clothes on the rocks in the muddy stream out back right now. I like the purr and beep of our washing machine.

Is there anything about the opposite sex you just don’t understand or comprehend?

I see men as being linear. I am probably more of a multilateral thinker than most women, although we women all tend to be able to do many tasks at one time. It spills over onto our thinking, as well. When I see a car (and I do not know the sex of the driver), I can guess by the way the person drives. Men definitely can only do one thing at a time. Therefore my recent car accident took place because the man must have been on the phone. A woman would not have broadsided a car directly in front of her, even if she was on the phone, eating a burger and smoking a cigarette.

Thanks for taking the spotlight, Hollis! I too miss those long summer afternoons playing with friends and not a care in the world. Up next week is Jenny Pellett.


115 Comments

Summer Spotlight: Gwen Stephens

GwenI’m Gwen Stephens, writer, runner, elementary schoolteacher-turned-”lunch lady” (yeah, really), wife of the funniest guy I know, and mom to a ‘tween and young teen. I started blogging at The 4 A.M. Writer in 2012 to connect with others chasing the same crazy obsession, and what a rewarding journey it’s been.

Apart from a 5-year stretch my family and I spent in Europe, I’ve lived in the Great Lakes region of the U.S. my whole life. For the past 23 years, I’ve been proud to call Chicago my hometown. The Windy City, a place known for its ferocious winters, unscrupulous politicians, and deep dish pizza. I suppose we have a little history of organized crime here, too. But the tenacity of my people makes this city what it is — a progressive, sophisticated melting pot with down-to-earth Midwestern values.

As the name of my blog suggests, my days begin in the early morning hours with a steaming cup of coffee, my Mac, and a host of imaginary friends. Through lots of trial and error, I’ve discovered I feel most at home writing stories about ‘tweens and teens. Perhaps years of working in a school environment helps the writing come naturally, albeit not easily. I believe writing is a craft that’s never mastered. There’s always room to improve and something new to learn, but that may be the greatest joy of this art.

Thank you, Jill, for inviting me here today, and for the chance to consider my answers to this engaging mix of questions.

If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would you meet?
I’d want to meet the so-called Founding Fathers of the United States, the men who framed the Declaration of Independence. They were brave and radical thinkers who challenged the most powerful monarchy on Earth and declared independence from it. How cool is that?

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
Nothing within the scope of saving the world or anything. I’d just learn to read faster. There are so many good books waiting to be read, and I’m a painfully slow reader.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
Without a doubt, moving to a foreign country at 7 months pregnant with my first child. Newly unemployed on a new continent, in a new culture, as a new mother, trying to learn a new language. Hmm…how many major life changes is that all at once?

If you could visit any place in the entire world, where would it be?
The islands of the South Pacific. So completely different from my corner of the world.

What do you think the greatest invention has been?
Electricity. Imagine the impact on our modern civilization if it suddenly ceased to exist.

Thanks for taking the spotlight, Gwen! I’m with you, living in the South Pacific would be heavenly. Up next week is Hollis Hildebrand-Mills.


91 Comments

Summer Spotlight: Eric Baker

Eric BakerDo not attempt to adjust your monitor. I am controlling the internet!

Jill is taking a break from spotlighting thoughtful, literate, compassionate, salt-of-the-Earth writers this week, instead turning her blog over to me, Eric John Baker… the person you might avoid sitting next to on a train because I just seem a little bit off.

Interesting facts about me:
I am ½ human, ½ wicked witch, and ½ mole person, and I am highly regarded for my mathematical expertise. Like Godzilla, I inexplicably live underwater despite being an air-breathing biped without a biological mechanism for deep-sea propulsion.

If you’re still reading, here’s the boilerplate:

I also work in an office building in New Jersey as an editor and a writer, churning out businessy stuff all day. Before you ask: No, I do not sound like Tony Soprano when I talk.

Jill invited me here today because I am a fellow WordPress blogger. If you visit my blog, you will find humorous grammar and punctuation lessons, writing discussion, and stuff about music and movies. And beards. And mole people.

I am also a musician and songwriter, serving as the guitarist and drummer of the two-man rock band, Full Blown Cranium. We released our first album, Cacophony of Weirdos, last year, and you can listen to sound samples here and here. I’m thinking of doing a solo record next.

My fiction writing falls into the category of Speculative (encompassing the horror, science fiction, and supernatural genres), though I prefer to think of my stuff as “twilight zonish.” That is, I don’t do much with monsters and space ships, instead setting my stories in the real world but with a twist on reality. These days, my main creative project is a novel, the first draft of which I have just completed. I have not settled on a title yet, but the plot involves three young girls facing off against street gangs, starvation, and a megalomaniacal sociopath after a global apocalypse kills every adult on earth.

Now, what you really came here for… My answers to 5 of Jill’s questions:

Q: If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would you meet?

Why would I want to meet a dead person? They can’t even shake your hand much less say anything interesting, and, at best, they smell like dust. Clearly a living person is a wiser choice. I would want to meet a world-renowned astrophysicist and ask her if my theory on backward time travel makes any sense.

Q: What celebrity do you get mistaken for?

Once a day, I am mistaken for George Clooney. Then I realize it’s my reflection and remember that I’m the only one who ever makes that mistake. When it comes to other people mistaking me for a celebrity, I get a lot of, “Hey, aren’t you Judy Dench?” That, or R2D2.

Q: What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?

Definitely climbing K2 in the Himalayas naked with a polar bear strapped to my back.

Wait… did you say what’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done or never done? The hardest thing I’ve ever done is work my way through college while raising a child. That was still much easier than climbing the world’s second tallest mountain naked with a polar bear strapped to my back, although I’m only speculating about the second thing, since, as I mentioned above, I’ve never done it.

Q: If you could visit any place in the entire world, where would it be?

Ancient Greece in the high classical period to see the Parthenon in its glory and to check out all the bronze masterpieces that were later melted down by short-sighted idiots.

Ha! You didn’t say it had to be now. Besides, I have a theory on backward time travel.

Q: Is there anything about the opposite sex you just don’t understand or comprehend?

I do not understand why so many women are attracted to men. We’re really quite shallow in character, we’re hairy like gorillas, we’re selfish, we’re blocky and lack appealing curves, we have whiskers, and we’re looking at their boobs when they aren’t paying attention.

Eric, you did not disappoint! Thanks for bringing your sense of humor to the spotlight this week. Stay tuned next week for Gwen Stephens.


114 Comments

Summer Spotlight: Dianna Keen

DiannaMy name is Dianna Keen. I began writing my blog “These Days Of Mine” in September, 2010. At first, I blogged every day, but now I take the weekends “off”.

I’m a born and bred Virginian, with deep roots in the southeastern part of the state. My maternal grandmother’s family has been traced to 1607 Jamestown. I’ve never lived more than 30 miles from my home town of Bacon’s Castle, located just southwest of Jamestown, across the James River.

I’m married to Motor Man, builder of high performance engines (race cars, race boats, classic cars), and I have one son, Marshall. My life and my blog revolve around those two, as well as the two kitties, Sundae and Gypsy, who adopted Motor Man and me.

Other than blogging, my hobbies are rubber stamping (I make all my greeting cards), photography, and antiquing. Motor Man and I also enjoy riding the beaches of Corolla, NC to see the wild horses that call that area home. Last year, I entered three of my photos in the Corolla Wild Horse Fund Calendar Contest, and was honored to have this one chosen for the 2015 calendar.

Image Courtesy of Dianna Keen

Image Courtesy of Dianna Keen

Thanks, Jill, for featuring me on your blog today!

Here are the questions I chose to answer:

If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would you meet?

I would meet my Dad. He died when I was only eight months old, so I have no memory of him. My mom and other family members always told me what a quiet, kind person he was. As a Christian, I know that I will meet him one day.

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?

Dance. I love to watch people dance (the jitterbug, ballroom dancing, etc., none of this modern “stuff” that’s passed off as dancing). Yes, I know I could take dance lessons, but I’m much too self-conscious to ever dance –even when I’m alone.

What do you miss most about being a kid?

Time passing so slowly. As a child in school, the two-week Christmas vacation stretched out forever. And summer break: indefinite! Now, the days just zip by so quickly.

If you could visit any place in the entire world, where would it be?

Great Britain. The genealogy on my dad’s side of the family was traced to Glasgow, Scotland, and my mom’s side to England. Now, I just have to get up the courage to fly across the ocean!

What do you think the greatest invention has been?

The internet, hands down. Not only is information on anything available to you in a matter of seconds, communication with anyone in the world is so easy. Without the internet, we wouldn’t have all our wonderful blogging friends!

Thanks for taking the spotlight, Dianna! Stay tuned next week for Eric Baker.


101 Comments

Summer Spotlight: Luanne Castle

Luanne CastleLuanne Castle has been a grad student, college instructor, businesswoman, wife, mom, crazy cat lady, and more. Woven throughout those other identities has been writer, but more often than not writing has had to come second to everything else.

After years of dreaming of retiring and sitting in a pretty office writing her first book, Luanne seized the day when she partially retired. Now she works from home for the family business and writes—blogs, poetry, and memoir. Her office is beautifully decorated with her creative colors of ivory, coral, and black. Instead, she sits at the kitchen laptop, alternating between writing and handling the business demands by phone and email. She finally learned that it’s better to write “some” than “none.”

Recently, Luanne completed Doll God, a poetry manuscript. She is sending it out to publishers and contests. She also sifts through her memories and the family story, arranging it into a memoir called Scrap: Salvaging a Family. A short piece of this memoir, called “Patterns,” has been published in River Teeth’s “Beautiful Things” column here.

On her blog Writer Site, Luanne posts a review of a memoir each week. She also writes creative nonfiction posts and discusses the writing process. Additionally, she is the family historian, in charge of many antique photographs and the caretaker of family stories. She posts these photos and stories and the fruits of her research on her blog thefamilykalamazoo.wordpress.com.

Here are the questions I chose to answer:

If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would you meet?

When I started thinking about this question, the first name that popped into my head was Benjamin Disraeli, a statesman and writer who fascinates me. He wrote and said many inspirational, humorous, and thought-provoking things. This is one of my favorites: “The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches, but to reveal to him his own.”
My thought of Disraeli was followed by images of Emily Dickinson, Louisa May Alcott, Charlotte Bronte, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Sylvia Plath, and Muriel Rukeyser. I was astonished that all but two of these people were from the 19th century because I’ve always thought I was more interested in 20th century literature, history, and style. I don’t find Victorian styles very attractive, for instance. But literature flourished so incredibly in that century that I can’t help but get excited thinking about meeting these people. Then the mid-century female poets like Plath and Rukeyser . . . well, it would be thrilling to meet them, although I suspect I wouldn’t like Plath and would adore Rukeyser. It’s so much easier to think about meeting dead people than living who I very well could end up meeting—and being disappointed by.

What celebrity do you get mistaken for?

I have been mistaken for many celebrities over the years, although not often now that I am older (gee, I can’t imagine why, sans Botox and plastic surgery that I am). The name that has come up over and over is Sissy Spacek, but there are other people who seem to get angry when they hear that and say, “There is a resemblance, but NO you could not be mistaken for her.” My husband and my friend both say I remind them of Natalie Wood, although I look nothing like her, so that is a big mystery.

After death, if you were to come to life as an animal, which would you choose?

I can’t think of any animal that I would like to be because they are all threatened—either individually or en masse–by humankind. When people see my cats lying contently on my kitchen counter in their beds ;), they sometimes say, “I wish I had the life of a cat.” I cringe when I hear that because cats are killed every day in shelters across the country. When an animal becomes very plentiful, like rats, they are hunted down and killed by humans through all manner of barbarous murder and torture.

If you could visit any place in the entire world, where would it be?

I would love to visit Myanmar before it was Myanmar. In 1967 I visited Expo 67 with my parents and fell in love with the Burmese Pavilion. Inside, the focus was on a gigantic golden Buddha, as if it were a temple. I felt peaceful inside and thought I had waited my short life to be there. After that, I was fascinated by the country. Burmese food is also my favorite food. The flavors are a mix of Indian and Thai, but not Indian and not Thai. Instead, they are a delicious blend of the best of both cultures.

If you could go back in time to change one thing what would it be?

I would like to stop Columbus and the other explorers from bringing disease and slavery to the native populations of the west. It seems such an insurmountable task, though, and I don’t know how I would accomplish it. It might be easier to use my one wish to go back before Kristallnacht and assassinate Hitler.

Thanks for taking the spotlight, Luanne! Stayed tuned next week for Dianna Keen.

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